Should We Close Sac’s Parks? Open Up K St. to Cars?

Should we close Sacramento’s parks or slash services to them? How about opening up K Street to cars?

Those are the two latest questions I’m asking for your input in my online forums, being run in cooperation with Peak Democracy.

These forums are designed to foster civil discussion about issues facing me and the Council. But instead of attending a city council meeting, you can share your perspectives from your home or office without heading down to City Hall. And unlike newspaper (and this site’s) comment sections, I’ll read every comment and keep you updated on the issue as it progresses.

This week I’m asking two questions, one on parks and another on K Street. I’d welcome your views.

Question one: Sacramento is facing a record budget deficit. As part of the city manager’s plan, the city’s parks will be severely effected. Under the plan, weekly mowing will be cut back to once every two to three weeks; park trash cans will be emptied once or twice a week instead of daily; and all park restrooms will be closed except for special events. Rescue Sacramento Parks is a grassroots organization that has formed to fight these cuts. Should the I vote to support the City Manager’s position on park cutbacks? If not, what other services do you suggest reducing that will result in similar budget savings? Share your views at:

Question two: K Street Mall has been a pedestrian walkway and light rail route for many years. There are now calls to re-open it to traffic. What do you think? Should cars be allowed on the street in an effort to revitalize the area? Share your views at:

Thank you for participating!

Conversation Express your views, debate, and be heard with those in your area closest to the issue. RSS Feed

May 29, 2009 | 5:16 PM

This Peak Democracy is a very interesting way of approaching getting input from citizens. I’ll be curious to see how it works out. Thanks for posting!

June 12, 2009 | 1:10 PM

I agree, Peak Democracy is an interesting concept, but possibly not very well executed in these cases.
I read this piece some time ago and commented on the forum via Capitol Public Radio’s site. After much searching, I found the forum again and was only slightly surprised to find that I was still only one of two comments.
The SacPress discussion has far out performed the Peak Democracy format. Some of the Mayor’s Forums through the SacBee have done better than the Cap Radio version, but SacPress is still the most vibrant and passionate group of responders.

May 30, 2009 | 10:00 AM

Re: Sacto Deficit
Short term — Because of union contract seniority provisions, the cheap people who do physical labor end up getting the chop. Instead, go with a one-day-a-week unpaid furlough for all city workers.
Long term — The government must be right-sized to fit the Sacramento economy and the city’s economic climate improved.
- Immediately sunset all budget line items, requiring a unanimous council vote to reauthorize.
- Privatize all government services except law enforcement.
- Attract more shoppers by increasing the free-parking vouchers issued by stores to 4 hours (enough time for shopping and lunch).
- Replace the railroad land plan with one that will appeal to tourists. Give tourists some reason to go to Sacramento, and remember that business convention-go’ers just want to have fun. Consult with Disney Corp. Think San Diego’s Balboa Park. The river is an asset – use it!
- Don’t be a magnet for transients. They annoy and scare tourists.
- Retract a prior city council comment about not wanting “shopping cart shoppers” in the city. Pursue large discount stores (Wal-Mart, Target, etc.) to increase sales tax revenue.
- Don’t play favorites! Do not subsidize one favored business at the expense of its competition.
- Link budget expenditures to current revenue so that automatic cuts occur if a revenue drop is prolonged.

Re: K Street Mall
After decades, it is clear that the street shopping mall concept is not working. Return it to a regular street.

May 30, 2009 | 10:36 AM

PARKS MAKE LIFE BETTER!! Parks do so much for a community, from emproved health and happiness to reduction in crime. It is always so interesting how Police, Fire, Teachers, Parks are thrown out as the areas to make the cuts, while we are paying thousands & thousand for an air quality panel to determine the benefits and to develop legislation regarding proper tire air pressure (no joke – there have been studies, hearings etc.. going on for some time & soon there will be laws, and be careful because one day you may get pulled over and the officer will whip out a tire pressure guage!) Mr. Mayor any person could take a line item look at the budget and eliminate numerous programs / departments / “mandates” that in a time of “fiscal crisis” could be suspended without a significant impact on community. Reduce bs – How much does it cost for someone to get a permit to have a neighborhood party? Cuts need to be made – layoffs need to happen, but they do not need to be made on the front line – these ploys are angering the taxpayers and need to end. Provide an “readers digest:” version of the complete budget & I think “the people” could rapidly tell you their options for cuts –

Cars on K is not a good idea – look for upgrades to parking options near by & enhancing the walking environment – put up lampoles with planters, allow for artistic and creative signage, install “performance areas” for street performers & create a volunteer committee to facilitate scheduling, add some street kiosks (go visit Pacific Street in Santa Cruz) and get rid of the street beggers, bottom when people want to come enjoy a shopping and entertaiment experience, they do not want to be bothered by beggers, a feeling of lack of safety and “harassment” will turn an opportunity for repeat business into a one time negative experience. As always Keep Smilin’! & Support Local Music!! – also I am not sure how good an idea light rail is on K street – nor am I knowledgeable of cost / benefits of re-routing

May 30, 2009 | 7:49 PM

Santa Cruz allows traffic on Pacific…and they have plenty of homeless.

Sacramento will never be anything like Santa Cruz no matter what they do to K street.

Tear down Westfield mall…put I5 in a tunnel like Boston did with the big dig…put in street cars that go from Old Sac to Alhambra… Oh yeah and tear out the convention center that blocked off K street…all we will need is about $20-40 billion to fix K Street.

Better yet…let K street rot…stop throwing hundreds of millions of our tax dollars down that sink hole.

May 31, 2009 | 6:08 PM

I was refering to Pacific street more for the layout of the kiosks and performance areas – the “bum” contingency in Santa Cruz is a problem, and the feel good city council there does not seem to have the backbone to fully address this problem – there is car traffic on this road, but no rail – also after the major earthquake – Santa Cruz designed a “streetscape” plan that works pretty well – there is also a lot of space for bikes

May 30, 2009 | 4:20 PM

Look around, more & more people, in the midtown grid, are riding bicycles. The city needs a dedicated bike trail that runs from midtown to Old Town. K Street would be the perfect thoroughfare for bike lanes. Add bike racks as well. Currently, K Street does not permit bike traffic. This policy is not in sync with today’s green conscious trend setters.

June 1, 2009 | 9:17 AM

Great point about bicycles. I frequently use my car instead of a bicycle because riding a bike in most places is just too dangerous. Bike lanes with a physical barrier separating them from auto lanes would remove a lot of auto traffic from the streets.

May 30, 2009 | 7:16 PM

Privatize all City & parks maintenance. Save the city tens of millions per year by privatization. And potentially hundreds of millions over time by reducing public employees on PERS.

For you who don’t understand what privatization is…it’s having competitive bids to provide services. The private sector does a MUCH better job at providing services..especially when there is REAL competition for contracts.

The council will never do this, they are owned by the unions.

So whats the point of asking our thoughts?

May 31, 2009 | 6:05 PM

While segments of work done at parks can be contracted, much can not – unions do put a burden on public agencies & limit the ability to utilize privitazation – but I feel in-house maintenence with responsible management can provide the best bang for the buck – boards and councils need to stand firm on budgets, make the tough decisions & make cuts where needed

June 1, 2009 | 11:58 AM

About privatizing parks: Is this all about maintenance? What companies run parks privately? How competitive is the marketplace? Do they still make money solely from being paid by taxes?

I honestly am ignorant about the whole thing. Are there some links I can follow?

June 1, 2009 | 1:00 PM

I don’t see why the taxpayers need to provide such incredible benefits and retirement packages to people who mow lawns or dump garbage cans. These are menial jobs that are not meant to be career positions. It amazes me that other than owning a landscaping company, one can mow lawns for a career.

Ben, a private company would not necessarily “run” the parks, they would keep them clean and mow the grass. Management could be privatized to have quality control over maintenance contractors. Also, programs that engage youth could also be contracted out.

I am not opposed to unionism per se., it has it’s time and place and has in the past done some great things for labor. The problem is when government starts only hiring union members it costs a lot more to provides services and sucks up our tax dollars that could be used in better ways.

I think that in the private sector, unions can do many things private companies cannot do…like manning up construction jobs with a hundred men/women in less than a week. I have no problem with private companies hiring union contractors, it’s their money, not the tax payers, they can do as they wish. But when it comes to government hiring unionized public employees, it often turns into a huge scam and is not in the best interests of the taxpayers who have to pay huge salaries, benefits and retirement packages for life. Elected officials have forgotten that they have a fiduciary responsibility to those that provide the revenue our government spends.

May 30, 2009 | 7:56 PM

About the Sacramento Parks – I think we should cut way back on park expenditures, reducing mowing and especially reducing watering (since we are in drought conditions). I think we maintain way too many lawns that are not all utilized except for esthetics. Lawns are not enviromentally sustainable. Sports parks should be maintained to at least a minimum to be appropriate for sports. I’d hate to see the restrooms closed because there are so few public restrooms as it is.

K Street open to cars – wouldn’t that cost too much during economically difficult times. Lets wait a few years if we do that.

May 30, 2009 | 9:57 PM

Privatising parks is definitely a sound idea financially. The cuts being offered seem appropriate, though the lack of restrooms may have side effects that end up costing more.

As far as K street, it seems like a pretty drastic idea. That street has been through so many transformations yet nothing works. Until you can get rid of slumlord Mo Mohanna, the city’s hands are tied. I wouldn’t do it because it will probably cost yet more money and I doubt it will work. Wait out the recession and try to develop more condos and lofts in the area, thus creating a demand for retail and entertainment.

May 30, 2009 | 11:00 PM

“No” to closing the parks cause people use them. I think mowing should be reduced but try to maintain trash pickups to three times a week. “No” to closing park bathrooms cause people use them, though I sympathize with the mess and lack of ideas of what else to cut budget-wise. “No” to having cars on K St. The revitalization will not be helped by cars speeding down K St. cause the stores will be driven past, not stopped at and I don’t see where parking spaces could be added. If parking spaces were available, that might help but would be car centric by design which is poor in the long run. That is my imput and Thanks for asking.

May 30, 2009 | 11:15 PM

Converting K Street back to an auto thoroughfare would do almost nothing except ruin the one part of downtown that is currently very well-suited to large outdoor events. Returning auto traffic to K Street would mean having to re-lay all of the light rail trackage on K, so it would be more expensive than simply tearing out the pedestrian surfaces and replacing them–which wouldn’t be very cheap at all.

There is almost no benefit to having cars on the six blocks between 7th and 13th. Some argue that people in cars would be able to park in front of businesses, but that is nonsense–they will not have big parking lots like the suburbs, they will have limited, metered curbside street parking. The whole six-block stretch of street would add less than 100 parking spaces.

To bring life to K Street, try cheap things like an expanded street vendor program (not just once a week but every day,) allow public busking, allow bicycles, and most importantly, build a downtown streetcar to West Sacramento to link West Sac’s new neighborhoods to the heart of downtown.

May 31, 2009 | 8:43 AM

Geez Louise…how about linking Sacramento’s neighborhoods instead of WEST Sacramento’s…

June 1, 2009 | 8:56 AM

hip hip horray ALL very sound ideas.

May 31, 2009 | 9:28 AM

Our transit lines already run in that direction–and once you start a downtown/West Sacramento streetcar, it becomes very easy to expand into other directions, especially since we already have Light Rail infrastructure that can easily handle a streetcar too. The reason why we’d want to start it with West Sac is because West Sac is ready and willing to put up some of the funds for it. Cities like Roseville, Citrus Heights and Elk Grove don’t want to share transit connections–West Sacramento does.

Also, the streetcar is useful as an independent unit within Sacramento: part of the idea of a streetcar, vs. light rail, is that it is useful if you’re only going a few blocks. Unlike a car, you don’t have to find a parking space for the streetcar–you see the store you want to visit and get off at the next stop.

June 1, 2009 | 8:29 AM

Whoa. Opening up K Street? Mayor: World class cities have lots of pedestrian malls. We should be moving towards more of these–not fewer.

Avatar of zen
June 1, 2009 | 8:56 AM

The Unites States has few Pedestrian Malls that are successful. Event Portland’s Ped /transit street that is closed to vehicular traffic is seen as a failure. Denver has the most successful one that I know.

I think cars on K Street creates a more psychological impact than anything. It allows visitors driving to K Street to find their destination without getting out of their vehicle and gives more activity to an area. I am not a car lover but I do recognize that most people are attached to vehicles as security, whether in the car or having cars pass by them.

Vehicles on K Street is just one item that would solve K Street. Its a combination of things: vehicle traffic, more residents and housing (ownership) in downtown, more theaters/art/museaums, and more hotels,

June 1, 2009 | 9:09 AM

I’d cite Santa Monica’s 3rd Street promenade as another successful pedestrian mall. If cars on the street made the streets more interesting, then why aren’t J and L Streets (which have cars on them) or the numbered streets (which have cars on them) more active than K Street proper?

The busiest, most active part of K Street is the corner of K and 11th, the part farthest from any auto access–it’s a great pedestrian plaza with clear features, places to sit, definite boundaries and identifiable landmarks.

June 1, 2009 | 8:59 AM

We are an impatient lot are we not?

K street has tranquility going for it and this needs to be protected. It needs work but bicycles are a missing ingredient. Bicyclists must ride at the same speed as pedestrians for this to work.

June 1, 2009 | 9:05 AM

“Tranquil” isn’t a word I’d use to describe K Street downtown, nor is downtown the place for tranquility. We could use a bit more tranquility on the Midtown end, perhaps, where the trees and residential neighborhoods are. Downtown K Street needs more action.

June 1, 2009 | 9:28 AM

I’m not sure why we continue to obsess on developing (“fixing”) K street and downtown. The mall has gone through several transitions since the ’70′s, none of them successful. (Remember that water/concrete thing?) We should stop worrying about “renovating” the downtown and continue to support what is working organically — e.g., midtown. I would dismiss the idea that we “need” to have the core downtown flourish to make Sacramento a great place. Look at SF’s financial district — it is dead and dismal in non-business hours and yet the City is a great place, because it has great neighborhoods. Let’s focus on making our neighborhoods wonderful places to live, work, and do business in, and the rest will fall into place.

And what portion of the city’s budget is dedicated to parks? Aren’t there bigger things to look at cutting?

June 1, 2009 | 1:02 PM

The problem is that Midtown is suffering from too much of a good thing. Most of its success is the result of decades of neighborhood activism, and those same activists are now being shoved aside by businesses who want to capitalize on Midtown’s success. K Street’s “pedestrian mall” was a failure because it was based on the foolish idea that a neighborhood can succeed solely by attracting suburbanites, then sending them home to the suburbs–the same foolish strategy that some Midtown businesses have seized on as a model.

In both cases, developers and business interests assume that both downtown and midtown are horrible places to live, and anyone who lives there deserves no consideration whatsoever. Rather than encouraging people to live, work and play in the same neighborhoods, they want people to live in the suburbs, work in other suburbs, and play downtown, treating it like some sort of disposable Disneyland instead of a neighborhood.

June 1, 2009 | 11:05 AM

Opening cars to K street is a bad idea. Sitting in the outdoor space at Pyramid might be my favorite spot in the city, because there is no auto traffic. There is a parking garage on practically every numbered street by K street, and if I drive it doesn’t take long to find a space on L or J. If anything, Light rail should be taken off K Street.

June 1, 2009 | 8:11 PM

Burg is on target. The many years of downtown trying to attract suburbanites is a seriously flawed mentality shown to have failed over and over. Only when downtown regains its mix and density of residents that it had until the fifties, it will once again be a thriving place to “work, live and play” AND visit.

June 1, 2009 | 9:00 PM

i like Mr knapps privatization of maintenance in parks , keeps them open ,clean and lower scosts
( also would like to see tree work & many other general services privatized as well) & ditto on lowering the number of union member maintenance workers ( seiu , plz dont make me disappear )
possibly change green street pick up to twice monthly.?.
K street needs to allow bicycles (designated lanes or otherwise) and any money spent there needs to be on lowering the building cost of infill housing ( this is why midtown works is because people live,work & play there) K street boomed when there were people living above it ..

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