SCNA Members and Curtis Park Neighbors,
Please join the Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association in opposition of the Regional Fuel Center in Crocker Village (read more about the proposal below). By standing together, we can halt an increase of new and unnecessary traffic that will further disrupt our neighborhood streets.
State your opposition in a letter or email to our City Councilmember Rick Jennings, II.
Send written correspondence to:
Councilmember Rick Jennings,II
5th Floor, City Hall
915 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Send emails to: email@example.com
SCNA Board of Directors
December 29, 2021
Honorable Mayor Steinberg and members of the Council:
In 2015, the Sacramento City Council, in a 7 to 2 vote, denied the application to construct a 16-nozzle fuel center in Crocker Village. The Council’s findings cited several reasons for denying the application, including that a fuel center would be inconsistent with a number of the City’s policy priorities, such as:
- The City’s commitment to reducing vehicle miles traveled and curbing the negative impacts of climate change;
- The City’s support for pedestrian and transit-oriented development;
- The need to act consistently with a multi-million-dollar infrastructure investment that created a pedestrian/bike bridge connecting light rail and Sacramento City College, and encouraging foot rather than car traffic; and
- The City’s desire to see infill growth strengthen existing neighborhoods, not weaken them.
Six years later, these goals remain just as important as ever. By this letter, the Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association (SCNA) provides the Council with facts and data, which show why construction of a large fuel center (it would be the 23rd gas station within a two-mile radius of the proposed site) remains starkly inconsistent with what the people of Sacramento want and need from their City.
- The Superior Court’s Order Has Nothing to Do with the Merits of the Council’s Previous Decision, Which Have Never Been Questioned.
In 2018, the Sacramento Superior Court ordered the City Council to hold a new hearing on the application based solely on a procedural issue related to one of the seven votes to deny the application. The Court’s action had nothing to do with the merits of the Council’s decision. The reasons the Council voted to reject the application in 2015 remain relevant—and arguably more so now. (Attachment 1)
- Over the Last Six Years, the Council’s Actions Have Further Amplified the Importance of These Policy Priorities.
This new hearing comes before a Council and a City that have taken strong policy actions demonstrating an ongoing commitment to smart infill growth designed to reduce reliance on vehicles. These positions include the June 2020 Mayors’ Commission on Climate Change. (Attachment 2)
- The Currently Proposed Location is Not a New Idea.
The proposed southwest corner location of the fuel center was discussed as an option by the applicant and Council at the hearing in 2015. Nevertheless, the Council denied the application. As the Council correctly noted then, relocating the fuel center does not remedy the numerous problems with the application. The flaw is in the siting of a fuel center in a smart growth infill development, regardless of where within the development it is placed.
- The Applicant’s Main Argument for Insisting on a Fuel Center Is Now Moot.
At the 2015 hearing, Safeway representative Todd Paradise told Mayor Johnson and the Council that a fuel center at the future Raley’s store on Freeport Boulevard would competitively disadvantage Safeway’s new store at Crocker Village. Mr. Paradise argued that Safeway should be allowed a fuel center to mitigate this competitive disadvantage. He insisted that the fuel center was absolutely necessary to bring Safeway to Crocker Village, and that the store would not open without the City’s approval of a fuel center. This turned out not to be true. Safeway opened its Crocker Village store in March 2019, without a fuel center.
The new Raley’s store also opened without a fuel center. This Council, in December 2018, unanimously passed the Transit Oriented Development Ordinance that, among other things, prohibits fuel centers on parcels that are: (1) near a light rail stop, (2) more than 500 feet from a freeway interchange, or (3) not on a six-lane street. This ordinance prohibits a fuel center from ever being constructed on the Raley’s site, thus permanently removing the “competitive disadvantage” repeatedly cited by Safeway as a reason for approving the application. The Council created a win-win situation for the appellants and the applicant.
- There is No Shortage of Gas Near this Neighborhood (Twenty-Two Gas Stations Within a Two-Mile Radius of the Proposed Site).
The neighborhoods surrounding the proposed Fuel Center are saturated with existing gas stations. There are 22 gas stations within a two-mile radius. Between them there are 94 gas dispensers, with 188 nozzles. Four are Chevron stations that offer a $0.20/gallon gasoline discount for Safeway reward points. The Chevron discount is reasonably equivalent to the proposed Safeway fuel center discount for most customers. Safeway points can also be used for direct discounts on food and other grocery items at Safeway. Grocery discounts, which surveys indicate most customers prefer, are equal to or exceed gas savings. (Attachment 3)
- Whether the Council Applies 2015 Code or 2021 Code, the Application Cannot Stand.
Council should consider current regulations in its decision. In the past six years, the City has made great strides in its efforts to encourage smart infill and to combat climate change. Grandfathering in applications inconsistent with the City’s current regulations does not serve either of these laudable goals. Under current regulations (specifically the Transit Oriented Development Ordinance) the application would be prohibited. However, even if the Council decides to apply 2015 code, a denial is still appropriate for all the same reasons it was back in 2015. Remember, the merits of the Council’s 2015 denial were never questioned, and the Council’s reasons for denying the application in 2015 apply just as strongly today.
- The City’s Broad Discretion to Deny a Conditional Use Permit Application is Well-Established Law.
The law states that the City has broad discretion to deny a Conditional Use Permit application for any of the designated conditionally permitted uses in a shopping center zone. The applicant’s position on this issue (that the City has no discretion to deny the project) is wrong, and SCNA is confident that the City Attorney will confirm the broad scope of the Council’s legal authority in this regard. To highlight the error in applicant’s argument, we have attached a list of all the uses the City has the discretion to approve or deny conditionally in this zone. The list includes an amusement center, drive-in theater, correctional facility, and golf course and many other uses for which, obviously, the City Council would rightfully want to exercise its appropriate discretion to approve with conditions or deny the application. (Attachment 4) Certainly, applicant cannot seriously argue that City Council has no discretion to deny an application to put, for example, Epcot Center in Crocker Village. While this point seems obvious, considering the applicant’s repeated false (not to mention illogical) legal assertion, it is unfortunately necessary to make it.
- Applicant’s Argument that SCNA and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments Knew About the Fuel Center Before He Applied for a Permit is False.
The applicant did not reveal his plan to build a fuel center, or a gas station of any size, until 2014. Before then, the applicant never once made known his desire to put a fuel center in this smart-growth development, despite many years of community meetings and multiple planning and environmental documents leading up to the 2010 Planned Unit Development (PUD) entitlements. In fact, applicant was able to secure millions of dollars of funding before 2014 by promoting his development as transit friendly.
- Approval of the Application Would Jeopardize Millions of Dollars of Future Funding for Projects Important to this City.
SCNA and the City helped secure a grant of $9.1 million from the State Transit Oriented Development Housing Infrastructure Grant Program to support on-site infrastructure in Crocker Village. They also helped secure an additional $6.963 million of Sacramento Area Council of Governments’ regional transportation funds to construct the pedestrian/bike bridge in Crocker Village. They secured funding based on the applicant’s and the City’s assurances that the project would be an exemplary transit and pedestrian-oriented infill project that promoted transit ridership as opposed to vehicle traffic. The City described Curtis Park Village as the region’s pre-eminent Transit Oriented Development in its 2013 Resolution confirming the grant of State funds to the developer. A gas station is antithetical to these goals and would jeopardize future funding from these and likely other sources. (Attachments 5 and 6)
SCNA is proud of its consistent support for smart- growth in Crocker Village. Throughout the planning process SCNA strongly advocated for a fully connected street and pedestrian network to link old and new neighborhoods. We advocated for greater density and onsite affordable housing, and against the applicant’s proposal to move the affordable housing off-site. SCNA worked for the successful award of millions of dollars of public infrastructure investment to support what, at the time, was being marketed by the applicant as a transit-oriented development. We believe we have been good partners with the City in advancing these important citywide public policy priorities, and we respectfully request that the City continue this healthy partnership by denying the application before it.
Very truly yours,
Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association Board of Directors
Cc (via email):
Mayor Darrell Steinberg c/o (firstname.lastname@example.org )
Vice Mayor Jay Schenirer (email@example.com)
Councilmember Angelique Ashby (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Councilmember Sean Loloee (email@example.com)
Councilmember Jeff Harris (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Councilmember Katie Valenzuela (kvalenzuela @cityofsacramento.org)
Councilmember Eric Guerra (email@example.com)
Councilmember Rick Jennings, II (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Councilmember Mai Vang (email@example.com) c/c (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Marcus Adams, Senior Planner (email@example.com)
Leslie Walker, Senior Deputy City Attorney (LWalker@cityofsacramento.org)
- Attachment 1: City Council Findings Denying Requested Conditional Use Permit in 2015
- Attachment 2: City Council Actions 2015 through Current
- Attachment 3: Map and Listing of 22 Gas Stations within Two Miles of Crocker Village, Including Chevron Rewards Stations
- Attachment 4: Shopping Center Zoning Conditional Use Policy from 2015 Council Hearing
- Attachment 5: Award of $9.1 Million Transit Oriented Development Infrastructure Grant to Crocker Village Documentation
- Attachment 6: Award of $6.962 Million SACOG Regional Transportation Funds for Pedestrian and Bike Overcrossing in Crocker Village Documentation