Monday, July 29, 2013

pep talk?

You guys I'm really bummed out and I need a pep talk.  I am so depressed about what's going on in Sac right now.  I should focus on the positive because I'm sure some good things will come out of it but I feel like we're right back to pre-recession luxury loft lounge living and big money trying to make the city a douchebag haven.  Reading Sactown depresses me most of all, with their farm to fork this and their build condos for "well-heeled" residents that.  Farm to Fork is driving me nuts, partially because it seems to be a successful venture for our creepy sex offender corrupt as fuck mayor.  Nobody cares about his shell game financial dealings? No one remembers the behavior with the underage girls? And believe me I'm not one to judge about stuff like tweeting dick pics or whatever stupid thing, but taking advantage of multiple teenage girls should be enough to end a political career. 

I know some older suburban people who got incensed when I was against an arena and started to tell me how great it would be for downtown.  I would like to teleport these people to Midtown on a second Saturday at 2 am.  And again, I'm not against people raging but I'm against people driving home especially when many of them are so wasted they are leaning and puking, etc. 

Speaking of farm to fork I counted that phrase 37 times in this latest issue.  It is not even the farm to fork issue, which was the last one.  The Bee had it like 12 times on Friday.

Speaking of the Bee I was happy to read BAR's review of Kru.  Well-deserved accolades. It's not flashy, but Billy Ngo just keeps chugging along churning out excellent sushi and salads (like his seaweed salad). I have never tried the uni panna cotta or the tea duck, which BAR wrote about, but I will now.  I tend to just get chef's choice nigiri.

Also CM wrote a good, solid profile of Noah Zonca and avoided breathless hype.  Very enjoyable and informative without being fawning or posturing.


Anonymous said...

i can't comment on the rest of the issues that are bumming you out, but i have no beef with luxury lofts. it's infill housing, which bends the curve on rental costs for everyone.

the population of the planet is growing by another 1/3. that means the population of sac (including the population of douchebags) is going to increase no matter what. failure to build housing in the urban core leads to more sprawl. consumers want to live in apartments with high ceilings, so builders build 'em. the alternative is what? apartments with lower ceilings?


beckler said...

you're pretty much saying exactly what my planner friend said. he said I live in Cali so the choice is sprawl or hopefully well-designed infill. I am NIMBY about people moving to Cali because everything you try to do is so crowded. Just try to get a campsite in the summer and forget about the coast. Also I am bummed because of the way increased traffic on my commute in the last ten years. I would love if the smart growth included a more convenient/affordable public transit option.

But I guess I have to accept a lot of this shit. The arena deal sucks for Sac, though, so that's not just me being NIMBY.

beckler said...

I'm still in the denial stage of grief

beckler said...

plus our mayor really is terrible and corrupt and now is making another strong mayor push. i want strong mayor but not for a slimy dude who runs unopposed. I am just waiting for him to move on to higher political office and stop plaguing our city

Rosalitahead said...

I agree on the infill. Anything to limit sprawl. I would take anything development on K street rather than the empty waste land we have now.

Once I realized I had been priced out of buying downtown, but still work down here some of my ideas changed.

I also think Sac has so many Rad things going on, sure its not big city style but there are more places I like to drink and eat now than there ever were "back in the day"

I agree on the public transit options. But when I ride the bus there is hardly anyone on it No one puts money into systems that aren't succeeding as it is.

I also agree about Mayor Johnson. The city council isn't exactly the most proactive smart bunch either though.

The farm to fork thing is irritating and really lacking. But I will take it over a lot of other things. At least there is a kernel of good in there.

Cheer up, don't let the bastards get you down. Sac still rules, thats just a fucking fact. Soon it will just rule with some foolish arena.


Anonymous said...

Farm to fork!

Anonymous said...

I should add I understand the difficulties with the redevelopment dollars/politics Jerry Brown has played.

So I don't totally blame the city for that situation.

I also am really stoked on the low income housing options that are being put in downtown.

Look out I am on a pep talk roll.


Anonymous said...

So many places have claimed to be the "Farm to Table" capital of their own region or the entire nation already, it just seems silly of us to claim the "Farm to Fork" capital. That it's so alliterative just makes it that much more cringeworthy.

Can it be long before some cattle-ranching area city's economic development council proclaims its home as the "Pasture to Plate" capital?

--Andy Rooney

gee whz said...

Speaking of cattle, did y'all see there is going to be a stampede from the Tower Bridge to the Capitol in September?! Wheee!!!! (Yes, for the Fm2Fk fest)

Also, am I the only cynic that thinks that they want the arena downtown so that they can take Moe Mohanna's land by eminent domain?

Thirdly, I also love infill. I especially think that the condos they are putting up at 26th and R are adorable, but they will probably paint them modern colors and I will change my mind, but right now I think they are a great match with the midtown architectural style.


Anonymous said...

I hear ya. I was at the Gram Parsons thing at Low Brau yesterday and played a Luigi's show the weekend before. Both times I really noticed the increased party-saraus ambiance in midtown. Even more so than say 5 years ago. But The Tams reminded me that "someone has to help pay the bills." It goes the same for most cities with gentrification trends. Glass half-full: still no white frat boys at Laos Kitchen, even at peak hours!


Anonymous said...

I may have burned bridges with a bunch of local chefs after I wrote about the $175 Farm-to-Fork Tower Bridge dinner and referred to it as "farm-to-silver spoon." Let 'em eat kale!

p.s. Thx for the note on the Noah Z. story


Anonymous said...

Oh those sensitive chefs!

Ag to Anus, anyone?


Anonymous said...

Seed to Sphincter

BC said...

I kind of feel this same depression even though I also think that a lot of good stuff is happening in Sac, and I continue to love midtown like a bad relationship. But sometimes I feel myself getting all, "waaah, back in the day," over stuff like cheaper places to eat within walking distance. And I feel like kind of an asshole about that, because a lot of my frustration with the increased fanciness/pretentiousness of midtown restaurants is that I've got kids now, plus I've been here for twenty years now, of course it's changed a lot in that time, I wouldn't have wanted it to stay exactly the same. (And really I think there are still just as many cheap places to eat, they just aren't the new and trendy places so I'm feeling left out of the hype and should just get over it.)

But the other day on SacPress someone was talking about how someone should turn City Suds into a "venue" and I was just filled with irrational rage. Not everything in midtown needs to be a venue! People still live here and they still need to wash their clothes!

beckler said...

dude that reminds me if City Suds paints over those comics characters I am going to go APESHIT.

wburg said...

Look at the bright side, the term "artisanal" appears to have taken a nosedive in recent months since the F2F wave hit. And if you want to make the term itself more amusing without repeating it, just write it as "farm to f**k."

--king of the nimbys

Snufkin said...

Does that mean Sacramento's world class because it now has a Bridge & Tunnel situation?

Farm to Fork is so stupid because everything is farm to fork, including food that's grown on farms that use pesticides or which are mass farmed in Mexico or Chile because of laxer regulations and wages. It's kind of a dumb term like calling food organic because (as my father used to rant), anything that's carbon based is organic, regardless of farming methods. It has some silver linings like what the Food Bank recently got written up in the New York Times about. But for sure empty suits like KJ aren't using that term because they're being critical of the economic and environmental damage wrought by big agribusiness and chain restaurants.

Scott Miller said...

As much as I love (and will most likely always love) Sac, I no longer find it very inspiring. That most likely says more about me than Sac but there you go.

Anonymous said...

Miller just needs a new wave of Gimmick bands to get his sac groove back

Anonymous said...

idea: find a town that currently resembles sac at the stage of sac's development where you liked it best, and convince all your friends to move there. modesto? stockton?

gee whz said...

Uh, oak park?

You know I was going to say it at some point.

Cody said...

The whole "picking a new town and convincing everyone else to move there with us" is a conversation we have in our house a lot.

beckler said...

ha farm to f**k

I saw some kind of processed food commercial that touted their veggies as "farm grown" I think I posted that before

what's a gimmick band? you mean like that band that wore surgeons mask or the one that dressed like mummies? scott is not into those bands.

wburg said...

Hey, my gimmick band needs a new drummer!

What I really want is my early twenties back, but I can't have that. Plus making trouble and doing stuff in my mid-forties is even more fun, and I can afford to eat at fancy restaurants, even the farm to f**k ones, more often.

DJ Rick said...

Klamath Falls, Oregon, would be my pick. Much of the old part of town still has a very 20s/30s feel to it. It'd be easier than you think to put it on the map as a tour stop for traveling bands. Bands are dying to cut that Portland drive in half. Killer Mexican food. Anachronistic diners. Bikable. Sunny. Lotsa move-in-ready houses for $100k or less (or $200k if you want geothermal heat).

Anonymous said...

new gimmick band, "Jimboys to Car Window"

I thought SM was a huge fan of Mow and the Lawns? or does he just hate yard work themed bands that dont actually do yard work?

undercover caterer said...

I still like it here but then again I hardly ever leave my house. The genericizing of mid/downtown continues to rile me, as does our disgusting slimebag of a mayor. It drives me insane that because he's all over this restaurant shit and arena deal people forget that he is essentially, a pedophile. Farm to fork? Don't even get me started on that bullshit. It's just a way to sell more boring food--at new restaurants that all have the same "concept".
Whew. I don't know if that was a pep talk but it felt good to get it off my chest.

Anonymous said...

I never get tired of telling people what a toxic human being our mayor is. The preying on girls is the worst of it. Then there is the complete lack of statesman-like behavior, along with the obsession with attaching his name to a big project when vital services get tossed into the wood chipper. I really want to see him ruined, that goes for his Rhee beard too.

I am in complete sympathy with the overall feeling of shitay. I was stuck with it until I found the new Carl Hiaasen book, Bad Monkey at the library!

(Weird because I'm like 999 of 1000 on the hold list for it.)

You're the bestest blogger.


beckler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beckler said...

I know! I had to inform well-informed friends the other day about the whole showering with underage girl and admitting it on the phone and also the well-known gossip that cannot be named from a few years ago about something just as bad. I can't believe he's shed that stuff! And for the record I am not a prude and don't really care about the sending weiner photos/Carlos Danger issue

beckler said...

ps had to take the train again for the first time in a while and was reminded of the train station folly and saw the bridge to nowhere in the railyards

Nick said...

I know my opinion probably doesn’t really count since I promote Sacramento professionally, but I there are a lot of good things going on in town.

I’m surprised to hear complaints about the whole Farm to Fork thing. Seems like a very inoffensive movement. Maybe the moniker isn’t the most accurate, but it’s a nice title for Sacramento and a great way to promote something positive about our town. You have to admit that we have a lot farms and a lot of restaurants and if you like eating and drinking that Sacramento is a really good place to do those things. At some point the tourism officials in Austin dubbed themselves “The Live Music Capital of the World” and I think we can just think of “Farm to Fork” (of Farm to F**k or F2F – which I think are both funny) as our version of that. It’s a very non-douchey initiative, so that’s a plus.

Someone mentioned the “fanciness/pretentiousness” of midtown restaurants. That’s interesting too. I suppose we do have some places like that, but I also see a real uptick in new places being opened by good, young local folks who we all were hanging out with at our favorite dive bars a decade ago. And it seems that even the fancier places that are opening are less offensive than the rash of modern, ultra-lounges we saw cropping up a few years back. I’ll take a dozen Hook & Ladders over a single Parlare (not sure how to type a backwards/upside-down e).

As for the arena, I think it’s going to happen and I think it will be a huge improvement over an empty shopping mall. Obviously, I hope Sacramento builds an arena it can be proud of. I don’t want LA Live. If there’s a Howl-at-the-Moon dueling piano bar built along with it, I’m going to be disappointed. If they somehow preserve the Pre-Flite Lounge, that would be a step in the right direction. Seriously, there’s a good chance the arena project will bring something you really like to town. This could be a chance to make some real and actual smart-growth choices in the areas of downtown housing, retail and public transportation.

I’ve been in Sacramento a long time and I find new things I like about it all the time – and not just things that will get me drunk. I see great progress being made in increasing bike-safety, I’m excited about this new Tank House place opening up, That Beer & Bacon Fest party was a lot of fun, I like seeing folks at the Amber House B&B enjoying breakfast on the porch, I saw some really happy kids over at Art Beast, those french fries at Bistro Michel are pretty durn good, the Golden Cadillacs play some real nice country music, the bartender at Cheaters brings homegrown fresh veggies to the bar every Sunday, Raley Field is still really nice on a summer night, Ruth at the Old Sac Visitor Center does awesome puppet shows, the tortillas at Luis Jr’s are ridiculous, a lot of people in town make really good beer, there are a ton of baby animals at the zoo right now, Old Ironsides is still there, the that oragami exhibit at the Crocker was fun, early bird special at Cornerstone is only $3.95, the rebuilt McKinley park playground is now open and that Midtown Farmers Market has like 20 kinds of great dips. The list goes on and on.

Try not to get too down.

BC said...

Wait, is Luis Jr's any good? The old Luis's was so terrible that I have never tried Jr's.

ArtBeast, the new McKinley playground, and the midtown farmer's market are all extremely awesome things, for sure.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Nic, that was an epic well thought out pep talk.

I appreciated it.


Anonymous said...

I appreciated it too, Nick. (I feel like this is a secret blog.) I think Farm-to-Fork is still figuring out its identity and it would be awesome if the movement can continue to address local food deserts.


Jennyo said...

I just want to know why the mayor won't get his dead front tooth fixed.


Anonymous said...

What are you talking about re: the arena? What makes you think it will be a positive in any way? Visit any cities "arena district," they are deadzones, arenas kill development. Development relies on real people living in an area, not 9-5 workers and 7-10 sports fans. At least 9-5 workers leave the office to spend money.

You really should know better working for SNR.

Nick said...

Hey there Anonymous,
I'm not Nick from the SNR, so I guess I don't really have any reason to know better.

My hope is that new, well thought out residential/retail/cultural projects are part of the greater arena development picture. Honestly, I don't know if they are - just my hope. What I do know, is that Downtown Plaza is pretty sad.

And, Beth, as for Luis Jr's it's the same exact food Luis's had years ago. I stand by the tortillas and staight chili as one of my the best affordable dishes in town. The rest fo the menu, I probably only like for nostalgias sake thinking back to when I could stuff my face there for $2.95 as a poor college student.

beckler said...

I used to love the chicken soup with flour tortillas at the old luis'

Anonymous said...

Hey Nick,
Apologies, I just assumed you were the other Nick.

And "new, well thought out residential/retail/cultural projects" are not and will never be "part of the greater arena development picture." That's why we really need a serious public debate about the arena not just the cheerleading crap you get from the Bee/News10, etc. My hope is that by forcing a vote that discussion will have to happen.


Anonymous said...


I don't have a strong love for the arena but there isn't much happening at that Downtown Plaza space. What alternative to you really, truly see happening and who would fund it? Isn't it already a deadzone? Is that guy's collection of elephants still in an empty store space? For me that was equal parts rad and depressing.

When I moved back to Sac nine years ago, I attended a "charrette" where we the attendees discussed what to do with K Street. It was exciting at the time to feel like we, as citizens, were able to lend our voices to what should happen there. But nine years later it mostly looks the same, but with cars on K Street and the addition of a couple more eateries I like. I feel like I was being naive thinking our discussion could produce change without having the big bucks to see our ideas come to fruition.


Anonymous said...

As someone who works by Amtrak and has off and on for years and will probably continue to do so until I die I would LOVE to see anything happen down here that would give me a reason to go out at lunch. Do you know the other day I tried to go to Strings Express and it was closed? So I thought Lotus, also closed. And I was bummed cos these are my best options down here. And that is very sad. I love Senor Burrito but he always runs out so early. Sure I can walk further and find more stuff but I don't always have the time, or desire to get sweaty or rained on depending on the time of year.
In my own selfish way I'm kind of excited to see what they do with the rail yard. Atleast I'll have something new to look at.

beckler said...

Jamattack-great point. Just because I work in Davis and have to eat horrible horrible food you should not have to. That Strings Express story is very sad.

Anonymous said...

adk: People forget that Downtown Plaza actually used to be a decent mall, full of stores, until Westfield gave up on it and decided to focus on Arden Fair and let Downtown Plaza slowly die.

Here are some ideas: use the arena money to tear down the mall and reconnect downtown and old Sacramento, create housing in the downtown plaza, etc. There are lots of things that can be done that are all better than an arena.

Jamattack: I don't really understand why a monolithic arena is seen as a better option than a mall if you are looking for lunch? You can't go in the arena, there won't be any stores in the arena, so what will it be adding? People like to claim there will be development around the arena, where exactly? I have been to a number of arena districts and their defining factor is the amount of deadspace they create. Do a quick street view around the San Jose Arena and you will notice there is no development around it. If you go over there when a game isn't happening you could hear a pin drop because there are so few people in the around.

Would you rather stare at a giant concrete wall or have a mall you can actually go into and walk around?

I don't think the concept is much different from the idea that large office buildings with no housing don't create night life because everyone leaves at 5.


beckler said...

you'd have to tear down the freeway to reconnect old sad. personally i'd like to build a time machine and stop them from razing most of old sac to do it.

i think jamattack means the redevelopment in general not the arena specifically

are we going to lose our downtown chain theater for years because of this? that would make me sad. i see most of my movies there. we have way less screens in our downtown core than even a tiny town like davis.

Anonymous said...

LOL at "Old Sad"

beckler said...

the mayor has rebranded it "old sad"

Darin said...

Back in the boom years plans were floated for a wide overpass, with a full-scale park on top, connecting Old Sad with Downtown Sad.
I doubt a downtown arena will create a huge dead zone, as it will still be surrounded by downtown. It couldn't be any more dead in the evenings than the downtown plaza is now. And as soon as the new arena plans were announced, the owner of the building with that shoe store in the very front of the plaza decided to put a restaurant/bar in that space (it's not actually Downtown Plaza property). And work started moving forward on the big hole in the ground on K between 8th & 9th, and the building at 9th/K (across from RiteAid) sold. So the arena plans created optimism & excitement in the developer community, and getting those projects done will be good for downtown regardless of what the arena itself does.
I don't really care one way or the other, but I bet that if voters are given a choice, even if they fully understand that the arena will cost a ton of taxpayer money that won't come back again, they'll still vote for the arena. It's a bummer to see public funds going to something as massively profitable as the NBA, but I do think most Sacto voters would be okay with it.

Anonymous said...

@anon: I would make the point that all of San Jose is best to be avoided, but that is neither here nor there. I went to a Seahawks game in Seattle a few years ago and it was crazy fun. The arena is surronded by bars and restaurants and on game day people dressed like yeti's. What more do I need to say?
Also I don't really give a hoot about the arena, but I would really appreciate some infill. I'm pretty sure the mall just exists now to house someone's elephant collection.
As an experiment I did walk to old sac this afternoon to see if it was as I remembered in terms of lunch options. It was. But I did get some hokey pokey. It was ok. Too much chocolate, not enough pokey.

Anonymous said...

The elephant collection is gone. Even the sock store closed down. The sports store doesnt even sell licensed merchandise (just Chinese bootlegs). Even the "worst Carl's jr ever" left years ago. Its sad that the place i buy stuff most often in the mall is Panda Express.

I'm looking forward to the arena construction since I work near by and can watch. Also it sets up the eventual battle of Slamson in a toga vs a yeti.


KBS/anon said...

Hey I'll be happy if any of these projects actually happen. But I doubt it will have anything to do with the new arena. Generally arenas follow development, development doesn't follow an arena. It will be a dead zone, it is a large 10 story concrete structure being set down in the middle of downtown between the river and downtown that no one can enter without first paying. Sort of the antithesis of a mall.

Jamattack: I think you are making my point, the Seattle arena area was exciting during a game, but go there any other day and things probably aren't that exciting. I'm all for infill but it needs to be the right kind.

And just be to be clear it undisputed in the field of economics that arenas DO NOT lead to economic development and ARE NOT a net positive for a community. If private developers were paying for it that would be fine, but its not okay when Sacramento city residents are forced to pay. And yes, bonding out parking is a cost to the people of Sacramento.

Field of Schemes is a great resource for information on arena impacts.

Darin said...

I don't think any of the commenters here are claiming that there will be a positive economic impact. Whether or not it will be a "net positive for the community" is a different question entirely. Field of Schemes deals primarily with economic impact. It IS possible for an arena to have negative economic impact while still being an overall positive for the community, in the eyes of the community. Whether or not that will happen here depends on the actual plans put into place.
The Downtown Plaza is totally sad now. I visited Arden Fair last weekend (for the first time in many years) and found it totally busy. It is a shame that Westfield gave up on Downtown Plaza.

Darin said...

A quick Google search brings up the following 5-year impact report on the Seattle stadium(s):
Sorry for the crazy URL. Just google "seattle athletic stadium impact".
It shows mixed results, as expected.
Again, I'm opposed to public dollars being used for arenas/stadiums, but I bet a majority of voters here will support it, and while it may represent a missed opportunity to make downtown better, I don't think it will make it worse than it already is.

Snufkin said...

Funny timing, but with what's happening in Detroit, there's been a similar debate about MI Governor Snyder's statement that the bankruptcy won't stop building a $450 million stadium for the RedWings (meanwhile the Detroit Institute for the Arts is in danger of being looted).

Besides Field of Schemes, there's a Brookings Institute report published around the same time with the same conclusion:

economic development only occurs when a given development plan materially evolves the local or regional economic landscape in some way — like, say, an art museum, which increases the supply of highly educated and uniquely specialized labor. Sports stadiums, unlike art museums, simply draw a few more jobs from existing economic sectors — unskilled labor, business managers, hospitality, a small medical staff, and so on.

KBS said...

I don't understand how it can have a negative economic impact but still be a "net positive for the community."

As a sports fan I understand the idea that having a home team and watching them is enjoyable and makes you happy (at least when they are winning). That impact can't really be quantified and it is a positive.

But how can an arena have a positive community impact when your police/fire services are cut (leading to an increase in crime/more damaging fires) because the additional revenue collected from the voter approved increase in the sales tax is not available for police/fire services because it is now being used to backfill the 11 million dollars in lost parking revenue and that parking revenue is being used to build an arena which is not open to the public and was created to increase the wealth of team owners and players. And those same team owners and players don't spend their wealth in the community where it is created because most players don't actually live here and neither do the owners.

The shit going down in Detroit is beyond insane, a person would think you were joking if you told them a bankrupt city plans to spend $450 million to build a sports stadium.


beckler said...

Hi Darin!

To pipe in on general fund stuff, am I a bit of a rightie to open another can of worms which is that when police and fire cry about anything getting cut sometimes I think that the city doesn't really need any more police and fire than it has and that we don't need to pay them a lot more? I know I was freaking out when I got mugged but I also understand that even if cops were cruising the neighborhood every night they can't be everywhere and I don't know how the detectives could have solved our case with absolutely nothing to go on. That's not to say I want to publicly finance this! And I am not informed about other general fund cuts that will probably happen.

Anyhoo, Field of Schemes has a blog and he posts about our stuff:

Darin said...

Hi everybody!
I said a net positive to the community "in the eyes of the community." I try to avoid discussing this on only economic terms, as there are many things involving public money that I'm in favor of & that do not pay for themselves. As I said before, I am opposed to public money going to a private profitable entity like the NBA, but that's just my opinion. Others may feel differently, including being willing to risk important city services to have an arena. Put it to a vote, with accurate economic info, and I bet it passes, even with the "no" votes from all of us commenting here.

KBS said...

Good point. Apparently the evidence on whether more police = less crime is not really clear. The research tends to show that more police = less property crime, but it is unclear if more police = less violent crime. Interesting.

This meta-study concluded that:

"Taken together the studies that have appeared over the last 15 years do indeed suggest that there is a significant negative association between the numbers of police (and/or the number of arrests made) and the level of at least some forms of recorded crime."

So maybe cuts in police/fire services were bad example but there are lots of other general fund cuts that will occur that will hurt the overall community welfare.