Tuesday, May 16, 2006

the luxury loftification of downtown

I don't want to overshadow that Kabinet post, so scroll down for God's sake, but here's an interesting article. I'm not the naysayer that you may think I am, if change must come to Sac then I am glad that some of it is in the form of businesses that are open late, which mean that more people crowd the streets at night. I'd like to know what you knowledgeable folks think about the deals the city is cutting with these developers. I'm glad that someone is going to turn that Firestone tire place into a restaurant, it's an awesome space if you really look at it.

47 comments:

Lisa D! said...

Bad news, this complex is going to house a CPK and god knows what else. Hopefully these are rumors because that building is too gorgeous to be a food court.

Ally said...

I noticed a sign on that building on 16th and L that said a wine shop was opening. We couldn't figure out if it was going to be a wine bar as well.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if that's that 58 degrees place, that's gonna be a wine shop/bar/storage facility.

-michele

Lisa D! said...

58 degrees and Holding is a wine bar/store that sells food also. I hear there are like 60 bottles of wine open to taste at the bar. There are two more of these somewhere. I figure the other wine store on 16th will be similar, perhaps no dining area.

Anonymous said...

Oh, so that place opened already? If I remember correctly, it's a chain, with other locations in the southwest. And their website made them seem pretty snooty.

Jesus, places in Sac are opening like fucking crazy! Does it seem like that to you guys? Or just to me, from afar? Now there's like 5 wine bars, and last year, there were none.

-michele

Anonymous said...

It seems crazy to me michele.
In my mind the only wine that belongs on 16th is fortified.
-natalie.

Ally said...

I don't think it is open yet. It just had a coming soon sign.

Uneasy Rhetoric said...

Natalie, that was Old 16th. New 16th mixes Tempranillo with Thunderbird.

Personally, I'm okay with the deals developers are getting, up to a point. I agree with the sentiment in the article that they will have to be weaned off of subsidies at some point, probably when enough development has happened that we're seeing competing proposals for the same spaces. At some point someone will say "I can do it without a subsidy," just so that they can do it at all.

It does make me uneasy that the subsidies aren't doing much to attract the work-a-day crowd, but right now I think redeveloping the whole area is a sorely needed good thing.

I'm looking forward to the wine stores, although I doubt I'll spend much time or money in them.

Anonymous said...

I mean, I try really hard not to be overly nostalgic about Sac. Primarily because there's nothing I can do about it, and I might as well focus on the changes that are rad, rather than the changes that fucking blow. And also, I realize that if me and my friends start rueing how much things have changed now, what will we do when we're 90?

Since I love wine, and going out to eat, some of the new wine bars and restaurants are quite interesting to me, but I guess the speed at which things seem to be changing, and the LA-style of it, is what I object to.

It's funny, I have no qualms about new places opening up in Providence or New York, if it's something I think I might be interested in. But for the people who that's their hometown, I'm sure it's just as painful.

And, I object to the description in the Bee, about the "barren border between downtown and midtown" How was that a barren border? Beer's Books, Capital Garage, the Beat, the Bread Store, the Sacramento Ballet, etc...there's always been hella businesses open in that area!

But there I go, complaining. I usually get all stressed out monitoring the changes from afar, and then when I come home, Sac does feel the same after all. Even with all the changes.

And for a further positive spin, I'm very glad for changes like the Kabinet, and I can't wait to go this summer!

-michele

Smitty said...

I wonder how long it'll be before the Sacramento City Council realizes that they need to bring in the creative people to make this into a real city. It's still easier to move to the SF area if you're arty in anyway. Artists, musicians, engineers, actors, programmers, clothing designers, and the ilk. Once they realize that's the driving force behind gentrification and city-fication we'll have a chance.

I'll hold my breath for that one.

Anonymous said...

I love your post Michelle. It sums up how I feel about Sac pretty well. I've been thinking about this a lot lately because Tim and I have been talking about how we'll feel about Sac in 15 years when things keep going they way they have been. I suppose underneath it all it's the community here that I really love and my primary concern is that development will drive rents up to a point that folks can't afford to live downtown anymore.

Which brings me Smitty's post. I have long said that to be a competitive metropolitan center we need a thriving art community. Among other things it bums me that we don't have a symphony anymore and haven't since '96.

The fine art scene in Sac - or lack there of - frustrates me. For as big as we are we're still disconnected from what's actually happening on a fine art level and it drives me crazy. I would love to see art happening in Sac that I could get excited about.

liv

omf said...

Dave- you have nailed it.

what the city of sacto gentrification programme is creating is a valet parking/upscale restaurant/boutique shop zone. They are creating the kind of place that they think people from the suburbs want to come to and then get in their SUV's and drive home. They're probably right. And why did I and most of the people I know move downtown? To get away from the people who populate the suburbs.

The Sacto powers that be are trying to make sac into a 'world class city', but they're missing the point. You can't MAKE a world class city... they evolve out of being amazing places to live.

Sacto has spent most of the last 50 years systematically destroying any sense of urban fabric.

First they chopped the central city off from the rest of sac by circling the city with hwys 50 80 and 99. Next they took the most historic and interesting part of the city (old sac) and turned it into a horrible cliche of an amusement park instead of an essential part of sac's downtown. Next they disenfranchised the Railway station (a central point in pretty much EVERY city of any note) by cutting it off with freeway entrances and levelling the neighborhoods near it. Then they blocked K Street and turned it into a walking mall, probably the biggest disaster in Sacto urban planning history. In '73 they allowed the Alhambra to be torn down, in '88 (?) it was the Merriam, shortly after it was another historic hotel across from the Capitol.

Almost all of this was done to make downtown 'desirable' to people from the outside-- tourists, suburbanites, etc. What sacto city planners have completely missed is that they should have been making choicces that worked for people who were going to LIVE in that area.

A vital, thriving mixed-use neighborhood is good for the folks who live in it, for people who run the businesses there AND for visitors. Almost noone goes to SF for the things built specifically for toursits-- they go for the environment of SF that developed organically. The Golden Gate bridge was a public works project, not a predesignated tourist attraction. haight-ashbury was not created as a Hippie Disneyland. The cablecars were useful regional transit, not quaint rides for tourists.

Anyway, yeah, i'm bitter. I used to really like Sacto's downtown, but it is being systematically ruined by incredibly short-sighted urban planning, a desperation on the part of local pols to make their mark, and greed.

alice said...

i don't like what the article said about the crystal ice plant. i know that place is unsafe but it looks cool. i'd be really sad if they just tore it down. although i suppose renovating it would be ridiculously expensive.

beckler said...

That would be incredibly fucking lame if that firestone shop is really going to be a California Pizza Kitchen. I am in denial that you even said that. Can't people just go to the mall if they want to eat that crap?

beckler said...

Yeah, I thought that was lame about the Crystal ice plant, too. That area is picturesque, although not particularly safe feeling after dark. The only thing that lends it a tiny element of safety is the Safeway and Hitomi (if it's open).

Anonymous said...

On the issue of developers receiving subsidies: Personally, I vary on this one... there are times when I see it as corporate welfare: rich guys just using their guaranteed rate of return and complaining that it won't "pencil out" (i.e. they'll only make $1 million profit instead of $3 million - boo hoo). On the other hand, if some of the subsidies weren't there, the costs would get passed on to new tenants or business renting space in new buildings, driving prices up. It's sick, really, how the system works. But in the case of the 16th/O projects that just broke ground, I know for a fact that their toxic clean-up costs are considerable, so the subsidy is at least helping, in an indirect way, to improve the environment in addition to creating more housing & retail.

Re: Smitty's comment on the
City Council bringing creative people in to make it work -- you raise an interesting point that I think is often obscured: artists and musicians have almost always been at the backbone of urban revitalization, yet once you formalize the momentum created by the arts, you've already priced out the very same creative people who produce the art/music. Look at what makes Midtown/Downtown great, and most of us who read this blog would say it's the independent, mostly informal arts/music scene, however small it might be compared to SF or NYC or other places, that we want to see flourish. But a lot of folks who drive the formal aspects of the downtown economy want to capitalize on art/music, so it's a Catch-22.

The best outcome, I think, would be that the creative people in Sacramento continue to strengthen the scene, and that the Council, as well as developers, investors, and others, can find it in their hearts to support artists by not pricing them out. Keeping rents and sales prices relatively affordable are a huge part of the equation, and that's a big priority for the Council... if only there were an artists' housing subsidy here. It's been done in some places, but it's tough in a place like Sac. But a lot of the subsidized/cheap housing created for artists isn't sustainable. I think co-operative housing is great idea, but it hasn't caught on, probably because it takes a lot of time and energy to create anything cooperatively.

-Erik

Anonymous said...

One more thing: I encourage all to attend the upcoming Town Hall Forums next month (June), as well as those to be held in 2007, to voice your concerns and participate in shaping the new 2030 General Plan. The City Planning staff (which includes yours truly) is updating the General Plan for the first time sincer 1988, and a lot of the issues raised here are very relevant to the decision-making process.

Find out more info at:
www.sacgp.org

-Erik

Lisa D! said...

The people who own The Park really really wanted that Firestone location initially and for some reason couldn't get it. I figure they offered a ton of money, but not enough to compete with corporate restaurants. Allegedly, that complex will house a few restaurants, probably like CPK, and a club like the Ultra Lounge. I hope I'm wrong.

livmoe said...

As far as the subsidies go I get frustrated by the lack of long term planning. It's like the situation with the Crest. First the city helps the Crest out so that we could renovate the old theatre. Then 2 more screens were built next door and then just as business begins to build the city discusses the possibility of giving money to a corporate theatre chain who wanted to build directly across the street from the Crest. While the Crest is doing great right now it wouldn't be able to compete with a corporate theatre and their relationship with major motion picture companies. Plus, what about the investment the city had already made in the Crest?

Long term investments don't seem to be where Sac's city planners are focused. It's more, lets just get someone with money in here to sterilize things and clean them up. Its really frustrating that there isn't anything in place to protect the small business owner.

Smitty said...

If the corporate movie place thought it was possible to make money with an art house theatre they would. They already run the downtown theatre in the K Street Mall. They could switch to running art movies there. They don't because it's not worth the bother.

The city will suburbanize the urban area and when that doesn't work, it won't matter because they'll all be retired and they'll complain as loud as everyone else for their own past crappy work.

Old Man Moe, invent a time machine and force the city to subsidize art. And run for City Council.

ammmmmanda said...

I hope that bars that charge $20 cover to get in to buy a drink don't keep opening in Sacramento. Lame.

Anonymous said...

Smitty - It's not a question of "will suburbanize" ... American cities have been suburbanizing for decades, and a lot of what city planning has been doing in more recent years is trying to get people to move back into cities.

One of the problems is that the generation that built the old urban fabric is mostly gone, and there is still this weird Modernist idea hanging on that the design of older buildings is undesirable. Therein lies the rub - we all like the character of the old buildings, but modern building code would never let you build an attractive building. And modern zoning code would never let you have anything BUT suburbanized streets surrounding ugly parking lots. Then we have to work with stubborn traffic engineers who worship cars and hate providing decent pedestrian/bike facilities. It's not a question of being short-sighted. I think planners are more in touch with reality than people think, but it's "the deciders" (yes, your elected officials and city managers) who are afraid to change the way things are done because the public generally becomes unglued at the thought of changing the way we think about traffic, parking, and all the other things that distinguish urban from suburban.

Also - true about the Tower, I wouldn't argue with that.... I was thinking more of the "loft" concept (we've had this discussion on this blog before, I know it) -- originally "loft" as a residential unit started with artists and other creative types inhabiting abandoned industrial warehouses in NYC, SF and other places. Then, it became cool/hip in the 90's and people got priced out of them. Now, for some reason, developers & architects think they can replicate it in new construction but they're nothing like a real loft. But everyone loves to brand their project "loft" because it's hip in the minds of high-ranking officials and politicians, long after artists/creative types have been priced out of the original loft neighborhoods... one of the sad ironies of gentrification.

-Erik

Anonymous said...

Since Erik has thrown in some great information from his professional viewpoint, I feel obliged to do the same. Although it's not high on most of my friends' list of things they think about when considering urban development, emergency services must also be factored into the discussion....

I'll be as brief as possible, but trust me when I say that fire and paramedic services in the area described by OMF (bordered by the American River, Sac River, Bus. 80 and 50) are already taxed to the limit, being served by only 3 fire stations, all built at a time when the population of the area was significantly lower. Having worked downtown for over 2 years, I can tell you we routinely run 15-25 calls per 24 hour shift, when the national average is 7-12. Nowhere in the Sacramento City Charter does it state that fire and medical protection must be increased at a level to keep pace with population increase. Thusly, our city council, notorious for their dislike of the Fire Department, continues to deny requests for increase in staffing, new equipment (some of it 20 years old - see the article in last Fridays Bee), pay raises to match comparable agencies (we continue to be the lowest paid in the Sacramento valley), and new stations to keep up with increased population and density.

Here's the rub: with all of the new development that has already taken place and is planned for downtown, NO ALLOWANCES have been made for public safety! The horribly ill-conceived and poorly-designed “Twin Towers” of condos will effectively double the population of a good part of downtown, without a single extra firefighter or paramedic to serve that population. Take a good-sized small town, turn it on edge, and plop it on the corner of 3rd and Capitol. Now add the typical work load of medical aids, public assists, and miscellaneous calls that that small town generates and add it to an already busy Fire Department. Put another, slightly smaller town up the street on the corner of 6th and Capitol. Put a couple more on R Street. Keep this sort of thing up for a year or two.

Here’s what happens: One night over at the Tower Theatre, Dave Smith gets stressed out when the new print of “Art School Confidential 2” breaks in mid-showing. Despite being a good boy and taking all of his anti-seizure meds, he starts a “Horizontal Mambo” to beat the band. All of the downtown fire companies are at various floors of our great new “vertical towns” attending to medical aids, and the next closest paramedic is 10-15 minutes away. That is a hell of a long time to someone who is having a seizure or a heart attack. That scenario is just for a single medical aid. I can’t even begin to describe the clusterfuck that would happen if a 53-story, 804-unit high-rise was on fire! With the current level of staffing, almost every single fire engine, fire truck, and ambulance in the entire City of Sacramento would be called downtown, plus hundreds of firefighters from West Sac, Elk Grove, and Sac County Fire, and it still wouldn’t be enough. Remember when that kook drove a semi truck into the State Capitol? Multiply that fire and the resources needed to fight it by a magnitude of several thousand!

The City Council and the Mayor, having ignored the staffing and station issues described above, already routinely roll the dice in this fashion in the North Natomas area. A fucking poster child for unintelligent growth if ever there was one, thousands of homes have been built in an area stretching from I-80 to the airport, straddling both sides of I-5 (a flood plain, no less). With just one fire station serving the entire area, response times are ROUTINELY 8-10 minutes. If Station 30 is busy, the next-in company might be as much as 20 minutes away.

I like art, music, and great food as much as the rest of you. I dislike suburban fucktards treating downtown like an adult theme park for an evening and then drunk-driving their way home, and I especially dislike the developers and owners that enable such behavior.
Smart growth that respects an established population is essential.

More info at:
http://www.bizjournals.com/sacramento/stories/2006/04/03/daily42.html?from_rss=1

Sorry to be so long-winded!

charvey

Dani said...

This is a great discussion and I agree that Midtown is losing its character when unique businesses can't compete against chains like CPK, but on another note, this short-sighted commentary has got to stop:

There are so many blanket statements about people from the suburbs and outside of the midtown area.... from people who originally came from the burbs and outlying areas. It never ceases to crack me up that some of this kind of territorial banter smacks of the kind of hick mentality that people accuse Sacramentans of displaying.

Until two years ago, I'd lived in midtown and other much larger metropolitan areas for the more than 15 years, and been bothered to the point of homocidal rage by tourists and other people disrespecting the place I call home. And, I've been hit by two cars while riding my bike in Midtown in broad daylight, so I know how awful some thoughtless drivers can be.

But really, I think it's shallow and myopic of folks to make generalizations about people from the burbs. Naturally, there are a lot of seriously fucking annoying people who come into Midtown on the weekends and in the evenings. But, every day, thousands of people from outside the area are spending their money at the restaurants where some of you work and at the businesses you and your friends own.

At the school my son attends, all of the familes live in the areas surrounding Midtown (Woodlake, Elmhurst, College Greends, River Park, South Natomas, Oak Park and some outlying areas like Carmichael and Arden Park). None of them live in Midtown. But do you know where we do ALL of our events and where we received almost ALL of our fundraising this year: midtown businesses. We do this because a) Midtown is a central point for all of the families and b) because an overwhelming majority of us have either lived in Midtown at some point or have lived in other large cities. We love Midtown and many of us, myself the most of all, are really sad that we aren't able to raise our families Midtown. For the record, price is the only factor for me in having moved out of Midtown. I am not one of those who thinks Midtown is not family-friendly.

Which leads me to the end of this diatribe: if you all are such big supporters of Midtown, do as Becky suggests, time and again on this site, and go to meetings and vote to get people into office who care about Midtown. That way you'll be able to say you really support the area, instead of just pointing fingers.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it's pretty sad that millions will be thrown at keeping the IMAX open, while our Fire Dept doesn't have the staffing or resources to keep up with the 50,000 people we've added to the City in the last 5 years or so.

Another blunder about the Sac Twin Towers -- they weren't required to do any submetering of utilities. Imagine the lawsuits in a few years, when the utility costs are skyrocketing and the new water metering regulations take effect. Why would anyone want to live there, other than for the smoggy view?

-Erik

katymonster said...

wow! this is awesome. people who enjoy downtown and living downtown, and in my opinion, are downtown, keep this conversation going.

between Erik, Charvey, Old Man Moe and even Smitty, there are so many resources just amongst our group of friends.

honest, pre June Town Hall Forums, i'd like to organize a few meeting of the minds, so at the least momentum isn't lost. it would be astounding if what was posted here could be recited to an audience in position of power.

email me if you're interested, and i'll do my usual organizing bit.

katymonster@gmail.com

Lurch said...

Well, Dani pointed out some pretty good and valid stuff there, but I thought I'd add a bit to that.

Old Man Moe (ha - that's good) relayed what I think a lot of people there are thinking, "They are creating the kind of place that they think people from the suburbs want to come to and then get in their SUV's and drive home."

While this is true, anyone want to say that they aren't also trying to create a place to get the Land Park folks to come to? And what about East Sac? Of course, if in the weird divisive boundaries being drawn by some, Land Park and East Sac are now also part of "the burbs," I retract. But I guarantee they have their eyes on Land Park, East Sac, yes - some in midtown and plenty of other areas where yet another snobby wine bar will be appealing. I think they are also trying to fill their snobby apartment complexes - excuse me, luxury towers, with a lot of the crappy places being brought in.

You know, about 20-22 years ago in this area (Arden-ish), folks from downtown used to come out here for shows at Spanky's and El Dorado Saloon. With sentiments conveyed here, it seems unlikely that would even happen anymore if there were venues worth going to. Let's not even mention Cattle Club and all of its incarnations before that (it wasn't midtown or downtown, so not sure how that qualifies, exactly - at least to those who want to qualify in this way).

Really, yeah - there are a lot of "fucktards" from "the burbs." There are a lot of fucktards who live in downtown/midtown. There are a lot of fucktards that live in Land Park. There are a lot fucktards that live in East Sac. There are fucktards who live everywhere that will be brought into downtown (for those who aren't there are already). So what's the point? Isn't the problem with fucktards, no matter where they come from? And the effort to appeal specifically to them?

And by the way - downtown/midtown is not the only place that has had smaller businesses that have been pushed out. For those with a narrow focus, it might appear that way, but if you have a broader perspective, its happening all over Sac.

No specific offense meant to those quoted, but omm should know that already.

So who do I gotta get see to get a day pass from if I want to go see Smitty or a show or something...

Old Lady Foster said...

Chris!

Why you gotta hate on the fucktards?

I don't think this has anything to do with you live there I live here, etc, etc. This is about the fact that in planning and redeveloping the central city Sacramento city planners are more concerned with bringing people in from outside than addressing the citizens who already live here and utilize this community. I know this from personal experience. I've sat in on several Downtown partnership meetings and was present for the "face lift" that the last Thursday night market got before its demise when Michael Testa was quoted in the paper as saying that his primary interest was bringing folks in from the suburbs to the market as if there were no existing citizens in midtown. Or as if midtown residents weren't worth the effort.

I was really stoked that the SNR quoted Jane Jacobs in their article. The Death and Life of Great American Cities is a great book. The whole point is that any community, urban or not needs a mixture to survive and right now there seems to be a focus on developing a lot of the same.

Smitty said...

So tonight I was talking with someone who's involved with an architect publishing thing, and of course, I bad mouthed what they've done to Elk Grove.

She said Elk Grove is used as a nationwide reference as something to avoid and there's a meeting coming up about that.

Now that the city has killed off most downtown/midtown places for bands (I guess Distillery will be closed to bands within a year), suburban clubs are once again taking over. I've talked with a lot of musicians that say there's plenty of suburban places to play.

I don't know about that. I'm not in any band that looks for shows, but that's what I've heard.

Lurch said...

As far as "remote" clubs, I can add that the Hard Luck Saloon - now hiply renamed to something else - does sell Pabst in cans, but they put masking tape around the can in the middle. I've only been there once for the Mike Guis thing with the Beerlords. But my point was... if you *are* going there - wear something with pockets and prep your Pabst first. I'm positive they won't even know the difference. Uh, until they stop doing that, anyway...

Anonymous said...

Hey there,

I actually tried posting a comment mid-afternoon today (just before liv moe's wonderful post appeared) but blogger screwed me, and the eloquent (ahem) posting I wrote disappeared into the ether. I meant to just let it go, but the non-stop brilliance of the comments on this thread compelled me to try and add my two cents again, 'cause I'm a "smart growth" junkie...

Laugh all you want, but Fresno might just be a model for the Central Valley in a few years. Yes, Fresno! The artsy-fartsy folks (and I mean that as a compliment) down there got sick and tired of their council members selling their city out to the lowest bidder, and started an movement called Creative Fresno. This really speaks to smitty's post, arguing that it's artists, musicians, and other creative types who are key to creating livable spaces in downtowns.

But Fresno is fortunate to have someone like Henry Perea on the city council. He's a twenty-something visionary who really gets the notion of "smart growth" and looks at things like bands setting up and playing in an alley as a public asset rather than a public nuisance.

If you really care about this region, and the way our cities grow, I can't stress enough the need to support organizations like the Great Valley Center. They had their annual conference at the Radisson last week, and it really got me excited and energized about the possibilities in this region. I know we have a lot of challenges, but believe it or not, we're also blessed with a lot of visionaries who "get it" when it comes to the need for smart growth and new ideas in urban development. And slowly but surely, they're beginning to get through to the Powers That Be.

Don't get me wrong: we need to continue to hold our officials' feet to the fire. But we should expend the same amount of energy supporting those folks in our region who have a truly progressive vision of what Sacramento could look like in a decade or two. I'm not in love with all of the downtown plans for Sacramento that are breaking ground right now...but some of them are pretty cool, and could have a significant and positive effect on our city. But truth be told, all of them are better than the development efforts on the outskirts of town, which continue to put strip malls and cookie-cutter houses before smart urban planning.

J.

Anonymous said...

Well, I guess I've gone and shot myself in the foot. I spent quite a bit of time writing my post because I wanted to convey a sense of the state of emergency services in the downtown area, and the lack of planning for adequate coverage with the current development plans. Having more or less done that, I shortsightedly tacked on a little more at the end that really had nothing to do with the rest of the post.

You all are right: fucktards are fucktards no matter from whence they come. The distinction I was so lamely trying to illustrate was between those who drive and those who walk or ride a bike. It's obviously part of a much larger discussion that has many factors, such as reliable and comprehensive public transportation, bike-friendly streets, keeping drunks from getting behind the wheel, encouraging bartenders and servers to put human life ahead of the almighty dollar, and other topics too broad to get into here.

All I really wanted to say was that I hate that the current development continues to be running towards "the suburbanization" of downtown, to paraphrase OMF, and that it will continue to attract a large percentage of people in a "tourist" state of mind. In my opinion, whether the tourist comes from Orangevale or Land Park is only relevant when you consider how likely he is to kill someone on his drive home.

charvey

Anonymous said...

OK, the "slap the planner" booth is now officially open...

Old Lady Foster -- you seem to have it out for us urban planners. And i don't blame you, a lot of mistakes were made in the past.

Just so we’re clear -- the Downtown Partnership represents the interests of property owners & developers who are just trying to attract downtown investment… they’re not really urban planners, they’re more concerned with business development in the short-term. Urban planning has more to do with land use, longer-term questions like how many people do we expect in certain areas in the next 20 years or whatever. The decisions that were made about the K St Thurs night market thing were not urban planning decisions at all… I can say that most planners would fully support having public, open-air markets for both those who live in a city as well as visitors. It’s a no brainer.

A major issue that seems to be recurring in this thread is the fear that downtown is becoming more like the suburbs, with too much corporate/chain retail and not enough small, independently owned businesses. I completely agree, I'm sick of seeing Starbucks and Jamba Juice on every corner. It would be nice if our economy were more amenable to small businesses, but the fact is that a lot of developers actively pursue Starbucks and other national chains into their new mixed-use urban infill projects because they actually do bring people in, including people from local neighborhoods. City planners don't have control over what tenants developers choose... that's a private decision made by landlords. Zoning does control some types of business or land use, but we can't codify a chain vs. a locally-owned business.

I think it's more of an economic development issue that "the City" or other entities need to foster, and it's more about financing. You can thank the globalization of the economy for pretty much stacking the cards in favor of corporate chain retail, and the people who run those companies agressively pursue opportunities to cash in on urban revitalization, and I don't really fault them for it. If more people in this town were actively pursuing starting small businesses and partnering with some of the developers to become tenants and proving that they can be just as successful as Starbucks, that would be rad. Unfortuantely it just isn't happening. Maybe more subsidies for small business are needed here, and that's a question that should be directed to the Economic Development / Downtown Partnership types who control the $$$.

Funny thing about city planning -- we're all about smart growth, and we try desperately to promote long-term vision and efforts that would make a lively, mixed-use urban environment that would appeal to everyone. But, come on, you can't make everyone in the crowd happy. The readers of this blog represent just one in a sea of opinions, and personally I just so happen to share most of them here.... but yes, there are those "fucktards" out there, and they have political clout too. A wise man once said that democracy is messy, and I couldn't agree more.

Erik

alice said...

hey erik,

totally off topic, but my stepmom knows you! janet baker. do you know her? she says you're part of the hip, younger planner types that the city has gotten on board lately and that you seem well-rounded, intelligent and really sweet. yeah, so, anyways. if you see her around the office today, tell her i say "hi"!

Anonymous said...

A couple things, since the comment meter hasn't hit triple digits yet. Remember Suttertown News? The guy who put it out (did everything actually) frequently advocated making the city way more bike friendly with incentives for people to park and ride (bike or shuttle, except his idea of 'shuttle' probably meant a rickshaw of some kind) and nearly closing the grid to non-essential auto traffic. Soriano followed up with way more hard-assed ideas. My point is that the general idea will probably become a reality with peak oil and hydrogen being the sham that it is and biomass being totally un-doable. Our city will be totally car-free and we will all be hipster crusties who smell. Post-indutrial stone age, here we come!

About Mister Harvey's post: Do you think that if the city council realized that their 'tude towards first responders is almost as fucked (with regard to funding and treatment of employees) as that of the Federal govt, they (minus Waters) might change their tune and smell the burning pet hair? (Good points all the way, barring the seizure deal: see past posts by Smitty on the topic of EMTs being unneeded and spensive for epileptics) Anyway, the CC seems to hate the Prez, so maybe if the obvious was pointed out they might change.

Smitty: Yeah, when the tennants move into the new lofts, you can bet they'll quit doing shows at the Swill. Is it time to resurrect renegade parking lot gigs? I know the power supply is still there for the taking, but would the 5-0 still confiscate equipment? It would be rather crappy if the only venues in the grid were Old I and Blue Lamp, since the Kids need to go deaf too.

Lurch and Old Man Liv/F: I don't know if Lurch was emphatic enough with the point about the downtown Fuckwads, who probably outnumber the people who have lived downtown 10+ years at least 5 to 1. Ask Patrone about the people who bought a house next to his and Summer's and had those damn klieg lights shining in the bedroom all night, not to mention the attack dog, for just one example of people moving into an area without knowing the lay of the land and bringing with them their beyond-the-grid/from-the-sticks attitude with them. "They" are eveywhere and it is "them" probably as much as folks from the 'burbs that are spending so much money at bars that charge a $20 cover for the privilege of glugging an $8 beer. Which leads to a city council with way more money than they know what to do with.

Sorry about the length. In closing, let me thank everyone who likely reads heckasac who showed up to my set at Luna's. In other words, Mister Harvey. I was "more nervous than a frog in the middle of the highway with a busted hopper." At least the Spillit Quikkers and Hell Outs had it together. Fortunately, nobody got a dime out of the $6 cover.

Ed

omf said...

If i threw a dig at contemporary city planners, I didn't mean to... most of the current generation of planners seem to be concerned with smart growth and the like. The old timers screwed us with their dreams of suburbanization. Most of the new planners seem to be trying their best to dig us out of that hole.

Of course they are being thwarted by the money folks and the city/county/state officials who have perfected short-sighted urban development.

And re: Lurch and dani's comments.... you're overly defensive. You are exactly the people NOT referred to in my earlier post. You are people who happily came into downtown/midtown before the 'revitalization'. You stand to lose the things you value this area for... just like the folks who live here. My rant re: suburbanites and SUVs was aimed pretty clearly (I thought) at the people who hated the old 'edginess' of downtown and now see it as an urban theme park to be enjoyed and then escaped before the lights go out. i.e. those same people who can't wait to shop at giant malls, big box stores and the like. What city planners need to remember is that while people love to shop at Arden Fair Mall, no one wants to live there.

Smitty said...

What city planners need to remember is that while people love to shop at Arden Fair Mall, no one wants to live there.

Very nice quote, Old Man Moe.

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute...

Smitty hates Paramedics?

Since when?

-charvey

Lurch said...

Nah - not overly defensive - I was trying to make two points (which Ed picked up on one for certain):

a) if businesses have their way, annoying people with annoying habits and attitudes will be coming from *all* over, because they are all over - a force that has been growing, and it seems they want it to explode. Sure, people getting drunk and getting behind the wheel is a problem. But it's also a problem when there's so many fucktards around (sober or drunk - walking or driving), you just don't even want to go out anymore because you just don't want to see them. That's actually impacted myself more than any notion of the possibility of drunk drivers. Yeah, there *may* be people driving drunk, but you *know* there will be idiots. I think the drunk driving thing is only one component of the larger problem. Heck, what about the sober people driving carelessly because they're too busy yammering on their cel phone? What about the sober frat boys, or whoever, yelling shit at Natalie? To be a complete misanthrope for the sake of making a point, what about just having to hear their conversations (although that can be pretty funny sometimes)?

Second point was: there used to not be this weird notion of us vs. them. At least not as prevalent as it is now. A great example was that previously mentioned Mike Guis memorial thing. Didn't see many recognizable faces out at that. I mentioned to DeeAnn that a lot of folks are pretty transportation-limited, but she did bring up the fact that there used to be a lot more car pooling going on at one time for people getting to shows outside of the downtown/midtown area, and that seems to happen a lot less now than it did at one time.

And it's great Chris mentions: "reliable and comprehensive public transportation." I've groused about this since I moved here in 1985. It just doesn't seem like Sac is ever really going to get it, but I can keep hoping...

Smitty said...

Hey Charvey,

It's unecessary for paramedics to be called for epileptics unless you go into a series of repeated seizures. It just costs a lot of money to have a doctor say, "So, you had a seizure. Go home".

They're scarey to watch so people want to call someone.

Luckily, Sacramento paramedics handle seizures better than in other places. For some areas, a seizure is "treated" by restraining the person. That sometimes kills folks.

http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/answerplace/Medical/firstaid/

Anonymous said...

What you said is true. Most seizures resolve themselves without paramedic intervention, and I know a bill from the City is a Golden turd to most folks. However, 9 times out of 10 we transport seizure patients because of the TRAUMA associated with the seizure. If you're one of those people that gets an aura before you seize, you can lay yourself down(or climb down off of your 125 Monkey Wards Special). But most folks seize while still upright and then have to be treated for head, oral, or facial trauma when they hit the deck.

California Pizza Kitchen: Phooey!


-charvey

Anonymous said...

> What city planners need to remember is
> that while people love to shop at
> Arden Fair Mall, no one wants to live
> there.

Do they have Hot Dog On A Stick there? If so, I'd move to Arden Fair Mall in a heartbeat.

I love their multi-colored hats/uniforms and when the girls make lemonade, I love it even more.

Corn dogs in der haus!

--Korn Doggy Dogg

Stephen Glass said...

Smitty:
Thanks for the tip to folks -- as a fellow grand mal-inclined person (as I said the other night, I have the "Mary Hart" variety), it's good for folks to get reminded that seizures are not life-threatening, and there's no reason to take up paramedics' time that could be better spent on someone who just took a bullet. Plus, there's the whole thorny DMV issue. Good to know the paramedics in Sac are relatively OK -- the ones in Vegas didn't seem so understanding (I recommend generally staying away from having a seizure on the main floor of a casino).
In short, people, just make sure I don't break my glasses on the way down to the floor.

deeann said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
deeann said...

It is kinda funny that Arden Fair has gotten brought up a couple of times. I've worked there three times so I have a pretty darn good insight into "mall culture". I'd bet you could drop me blindfolded pretty much into any "standard" Indoor Mall USA (there are relatively few templates used depending on the developer) remove the blindfold and I probably wouldn't need the directory to find the food court, the game room, the attached movie multiplex, the third-point anchor, the habitrail, etc. (yes, the mall has it's own jargon). You'll find malls with a nearly exact layout in Vancouver, WA as you will in Bismark, ND. Fuck- part of one of my jobs was market research on Arden Fair itself to find where additional restrooms should go, if multiple ATM machines were needed, etc. and the viability of the Market Square extension. I really, really despise indoor malls. Not because it's "hip" to do so, but because I lived immersed in it for way too long. At least I got to hang sometimes during the day with a long time friend and current Heckasac reader (not Lurch) who worked at Sears if our breaks matched up.

*But* directly behind Arden Fair there is a decent sized neighborhood of modest-level houses and apartments. I don't really know if many living there does so because they "get to live at the mall" (though there probably are some who think that way), but for the most part this is just where they live. Some of these houses have been owned by the same family for generations. The apartments have affordable rent (at least they used to). If you really want to see another case of disrespect for the local community, there was a proposal to declare eminent domain on the area behind the mall where housing starts to Cottage Way. That's a big chunk. Why? To tear down the houses for "mall expansion". By mall expansion they meant expanding the parking lot and adding a shuttle service for shoppers. Luckily it didn't fly. And the extra funny thing is that if they had done so they would have taken away the very housing that many mall employees live in. And a couple of grade schools. For a parking lot. That's fucked up that it was even at a proposal stage.

And I'm sure many people reading this don't know that Fulton Ave has been declared blighted and is undergoing a "makeover".

What does it matter because it's all outdoor strip malls and car dealerships to some, right?

Well, the funny thing about outdoor strip malls and shopping centers is that they are not all created equal. Yes, you have your Starbucks/Safeway/Great Clips/Old Navy but if you were to take a closer look you'd find (or you would have found, these places are gone now) Alladin Deli, Joe Bocchis, Obsessed with Music, the Book Box, Tiny's Hamburgers, the Vagabond, Las Brasas (now a Rite Aid), the little Armenian dry cleaning and tailor shop and I could just keep going on... Locally owned and operated but gone now because business rental cost has gone up so high they were actively pushed out. Where Mr. Video was, Radio Shack is now. Great!

Hurley Way just lost United Market and the smaller attached local shops last year. They did not want to shut down but the county forced them to. An "upscale" retail space is being built there. Vics IGA and the Mandingo are getting pushed out because a new 24-Hour Fitness just opened up with a complete disregard of the overwhelming amount of people that would bring in. Now they really should have taken parking into consideration in the early planning stage and built an upper level garage. Yes it would be butt-ugly but at least the rest of the lot would not be full all of the time. But no. The optometrist I'd been seeing for years is gone and if you want to buy your groceries at Vics (where Lurch and I have shopped since the mid-'80's and know people who have worked there 20+ years) you are pretty much SOL. Unless you take the bus. But waitasec- they just sliced our bus routes down to the minimum and canceled some lines. That's okay we could just walk and pick up some of the cold stuff on the way back at United and uhh... oh yeah...

Anyone who knows me well enough knows what I think of some of the downtown/midtown planning ideas and that we are not a "skyscraper city" and that we stand to lose a lot of character that *is* Sacramento. And affordable housing (getting pretty too late for that!). *But* I see the city as a whole. From South Sac to North Watt to Rancho Cordova to Del Paso and the whole connected area. Whether it's a number/letter grid street or Jackson Rd. to me we are still *one city* and should be looking at the *whole* picture. We may not be able to participate in the same planning meetings but at least we can give each other verbal (and written) support and keep an eye on what's happening all over.

Things ain't so rosy in the city center, but they're also not as rosy as you'd think in many areas of the "burbs" either. It may feel good for some to have an "us" vs. "them" attitude based on boundary lines on a map, but what does that really accomplish? How does that help?

Anonymous said...

Renegade Shows would be it!!!Since mid town is goin` to the Cleaners.The Five O might inpound your gear but hopefully a point will be made.Those shows were awesome back in day they showed some "community"..And the loft is having a yard sale so what better time to act this week.I would give my acoustic guitar and $10 amp with q-tips tunin pegs to the 5-0 just to annoy the upper crust.Back in the day when i was a home owner in tahoe park the neighbors cheered when i moved away.No more riff raff punk shows..They would call the cops when i use a hammer or when i didn`t mow my lawn.I actually enjoyed the shows and rucus it created.I remeber one neighbor coming down when i was packing up said--he would miss the culture but was just joking.The 5-O always came down and threatened me but never had the balls to take action.Even some of them felt sorry the neighborhood had changed.Hey if ya want to see some crusty urban planning come to japan..They tear down the awesome old school houses and replace them with boxes.These boxes are more smaller boxes with a couch and tv.A regular japanese house is a muesum today--folks go to them to see how the use to live(nice,roomy and comfy)..I will put some pictures of japanese boxes and japanese homes on my website later..Sacto sugi no desu..Sacto next stop..As for mikuni and godzilla rolls i told some kumamoto friends about them..They laughed really hard and said "ga-ri-llaa rollsu".I then picked up a huge curvy nasu(eggplant)and said "uma no chimpo desu" which is a horse`s dick.No i was not drunk but rainy has started and i was bored.We talked about inventing an ultraman roll cause i saw an ultraman bus at the kid ultraman show at the bus station for mother`s day ..Horse meat is a kumamoto thing...

Smitty said...

I liked the horse meat your fambly shared with me in Kumamoto. It's actually really good.