City, residents discuss Second Saturday, nightlife

The city is addressing concerns about the Second Saturday Art Walk, Midtown nightlife and safety from a variety of angles, city officials said Monday night.

During a meeting with the Neighborhood Advisory Group, City Councilman Steve Cohn and city staff from neighborhood services, police, parks, parking enforcement and community development discussed efforts to combat gang violence and other crime, rule changes taking effect for Second Saturday next month and parking issues.

The measures are a first step toward tackling growing or ongoing problems that have been pinpointed by residents, businesses and the city. However, more steps may be taken down the road if needed, Vincene Jones, director of the city’s Neighborhood Services Division, told about 45 people gathered at Hart Senior Center at 27th and I streets.

"Nothing is set in stone. We can make adjustments as we go," she said. "We know we have to start somewhere."

Concerns about Second Saturday and nightlife were thrown into the spotlight last September after a suspected gang member shot and killed someone standing on a sidewalk outside a bar during a gang confrontation. The victim, Victor Hugo Perez Zavala, and two of the three others injured in the shooting after a Second Saturday Art Walk were not tied to either gang.

Even before the shooting, some people had become concerned about the growing crowds gathering in Midtown on Second Saturdays, the increasing numbers of teens staying out after curfew on those nights and a rise in crimes, parking conflicts and other issues.
Galleries and art groups have worried the event has lost its focus on art.

Cohn pointed out that the art walk isn’t an event officially put on by the city. Rather, it’s grown from an art event started by art galleries to include restaurants and other businesses, individual vendors, musicians and other street performers.

However, the city’s Second Saturday safety team has been meeting since the shooting to consider changes to make the art walk safe, reduce problems with crowds and traffic, and minimize the impact on residential neighborhoods, Cohn said.

The September shootings were “really more of a late-night phenomenon. Frankly, they aren’t part of Second Saturday," said Cohn, adding the two are "correlated" because some people who go to the art walk continue hanging out in the central city afterwards.

Starting in April, Second Saturday Art Walk hours will be 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. All outdoor amplified sound, primarily from bands and street musicians, must end by 8 p.m., whether the musicians are performing on public or private property.

Also new this year: Sidewalk and street vendors, musicians and property owners allowing multiple vendors to sell on their lots must get permits from the city. The city will now permit vendors to sell only handcrafted, original items, said Teresa Jackson, superintendent with the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

People who go out just for nightlife on Second Saturdays usually start showing up around 9 p.m., so city officials think ending the art walk and outdoor music at 8 p.m. will encourage minors to get home by the 10 p.m. curfew, Jones said.

However, businesses and vending on private property can continue to operate past 8 p.m.

The city is also working on problems with gang violence. Mayor Kevin Johnson began a gang prevention initiative a few months ago and his office held a forum on gang and youth violence in Oak Park last month, Jones said.

In November, the Sacramento Police Department launched Ceasefire, modeled after a Boston program. Through the program, criminal justice agencies and religious organizations confront offenders with the likelihood that they’ll end up dead or imprisoned a large part of their lives – unless they change their lifestyles.

The agencies offer alternatives to help gang members make changes by continuing education or getting job training. Six gang members are now going through the program, said Police Department Capt. Dana Matthes, commander of the city’s central and east areas.

To help make streets and sidewalks more safe, the city is installing 86 new acorn-shaped street lights on I and J streets and sidestreets from 20th Street to 27th Street. The lights are being paid for with $406,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds, $47,000 in local transportation funds and $80,000 in funding from the Midtown Business Association. Work is expected to be completed by year’s end, according to Sue Brown, director of Cohn’s District 3.

The city is also considering changing its parking ordinance to allow city staff to make changes to residential parking zones – such as extending the hours of certain areas to after 6 p.m. – to solve problems without having to get City Council approval.

The process would stay the same. It would still require a request from residents or business owners to be initiated and supported from a certain number of residents to take effect, Parking Services Manager Howard Chan said.

"Second Saturday is a free-for-all as far as parking right now," Midtown resident Dale Kooyman said.

Residents at the meeting disagreed over whether the requirement to have a residential permit should be extended into the evenings. The issue has been brought up twice in the past and residents voted against that, they said.

However, Chan said changes can address small areas and don’t have to impact an entire permit zone.

Residents are pushing the city and private businesses to reduce the number of Second Saturday visitors and late-night bar and restaurant patrons parking on residential streets. The city must build awareness of parking garages, while private lot owners could open their lots for free parking to reduce neighborhood impacts such as noise, litter and crime, they said.

"The real problem is the behavior when they return to their cars," said Bill Burgua, former chair of the Marshall School/New Era Park Neighborhood Association. 


Suzanne Hurt is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @SuzanneHurt.

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

March 23, 2011 | 9:54 AM

We knew that it wouldn’t last once 2nd Sat. became really popular with the bored suburbanites (kids and adults). Many here in Midtown think the some (but not all) suburbanites do not respect their neighborhood. And from what I have observed it’s true. But it’s not a problem only here in Sacramento. It’s been observed in other cities across the country where the vast majority live in the suburbs and only come into town for similar events.

Having said that, any real city must be the place where people from the all over the region can come and have fun and interact with others. The problem is not really with the crowds or the vendors but instead it’s with the whole notion that this sort of thing should be reserved for one night each month. It’s like a manufactured “real city” every Second Saturday. Life in central Sacramento should be a little more like this all the time. People in our region obviously need and crave this. We need more events/public gatherings (with a greater variety of artistic expression) and more spaces full of vendors throughout the Downtown-Midtown area all month long and not concentrated into one evening. Also we need to start moving the action away from Midtown and into Downtown which is better equipped to handle the crowds.

BTW why is a Curtis Park resident talking about this (I don’t care what he did in the past or where he used to live)?

March 23, 2011 | 10:40 AM

Am I understanding you to say that the situation has changed completely over the last year and that 10 years of experience living in the heart of the (now) entertainment district is not relevant.

March 23, 2011 | 12:08 PM

That Curtis Park resident owns property in the general area, and we residents warmly welcome him plus ANY AND ALL out of the area owners who are willing to take their time and make the effort to maintain their property to ensure a decent quality of life for everyone to attract responsible tenants. That is a a great change from most absentee owners who collect their rental income checks and take them to to the bank but have no idea what is going on.

So you may not care but WE care that he is conscientious enough to stay involved, and we do thank him for it. However, I do agree with you that more of the action needs to be moved Downtown. We support that too. Incidentally, if you lived here and noticed what is happening at all, you would know that “Life in central Sacramento” IS a ” little more like this all the time” each weekend.

March 24, 2011 | 9:48 AM

Dale both you and John Paul seem to be bent that I criticized a Curtis Park and former Midtown resident for speaking out on this subject. OK I was probably wrong there. But it does frustrate me that so much input and decisions are made by non-residents here. How would Curtis Park or Land Park residents take to Midtown residents speaking on their behalf?

I know of a guy who used to live in Midtown and was “active” in the neighborhood– and he was a real jerk. He bought a house across from a long standing bar/nightclub and then proceeded to complain about the noise and harass the patrons. Now he’s moved out and rents out his house. That type of conscientious objector we don’t need here.

Dale I suspect that since you are using the royal ‘we’ that you belong to one of those useless Midtown group- like the MBA, MNA or NAG? I’ve attended enough of those meetings to know what and who they are all about. They are small groups with provincial minds (usually their concern doesn’t go much past on their own block). One last thing I do live, work, and shop in Midtown so I think I know what I’m talking about. If you think that every Saturday is like 2nd Sat. –well good for you. I wasn’t referring only to Saturday nights though– which was the point you obviously missed.

Avatar of jat
March 23, 2011 | 9:55 AM

Markes, it’s not serving your cause to tar all “suburbanites” with the same brush. We are, by and large, decent people. Imagine that. Logically, probably many of the problems are from your own citizens. I’m guessing Sacramento taxpayers don’t mind having our money spent in your city, so lighten up.

March 24, 2011 | 9:11 AM

JAT sorry but I think I said “some BUT NOT ALL suburbanites”. Therefore, I was not taring all suburbanites with the same brush. By the way most Sacramentans live in the suburbs so I am talking mainly about Sacramento residents. Frankly the taxpayer argument doesn’t hold much water when you are having to pay for more police, fix or replace broken or stolen items or scrub off graffitti, blood and vomit. Last Saturday evening I saw one guy pee in a bush of my neighbor while his girlfriends cheered him on and another guy threw his trash on a lawn. I asked each one if the they lived in Midtown and both said no– one said lived in Elk Grove and the other said he lived Roseville. So that was my experience last 2nd Sat. Now tell me how many Midtown residents do you supposed went to Elk Grove or Roseville and peed and trashed their neighborhoods?

March 25, 2011 | 7:50 AM

Gee, last time I checked, Oak Park and Meadowview and Del Paso (“North Sacramento”) were not suburbs, although some of Florin is. Let us at least be honest about from where the gangs come.

March 23, 2011 | 2:15 PM

I wasn’t able to attend the meeting. Beside the changes for Second Saturday, did the City or residents talk about anything new that hasn’t been discussed in the past?

March 23, 2011 | 3:36 PM

No. They just expanded the discussion but nothing new.

March 23, 2011 | 4:28 PM

In a word no.

March 23, 2011 | 11:33 PM

Isn’t the article title a little misleading? The reason these discussions are now happening is because of a 2nd Sat NightDeath. Not 2nd Sat, Nightlife.

March 24, 2011 | 9:45 AM

True Dat

Avatar of jat
March 24, 2011 | 10:56 AM

Markes, did it occur to you those people lied about where they live? Did you really expect them to tell you the truth? There’s clearly a bias against suburban residents in your comments. I understand your frustration. Were I in your shoes, I’d be up in arms as well. Just be aware that throwing blame at a whole group of people who live elsewhere does not serve your cause.

March 24, 2011 | 1:44 PM

Markes, you can throw out these baseless charges because your anonymous handle protects you from a real meaningful dialogue. Nevertheless you are entitled to your opinion as to the groups you outline no matter how wrong it is. But if you really had attended “enough” of those groups long enough, then you would know that NAG is a forum not a membership group. You would also know that the other groups have always focused on Midtown as as whole and NOT just their block.

Further you would know that these and other groups of neighbors formed these associations nearly 30 years ago to successfully battle the city against its redevelopment plans to bulldoze all of Midtown as we know it today and replace with rows of three story low income housing. Not to mention that these same folks “with provincial minds” you belittle were actually responsible for the preservation of the many historical structures that give Midtown its character and enables it to be the setting of several movies shot here. Without those victories, I doubt that you or any of the art and alcohol businesses would have chosen to locate in a faceless low income ghetto.

March 24, 2011 | 8:18 PM

Bill Burgua is a former chair of the Marshall School/New Era Park Neighborhood Association. He sold his house, moved away, and is no longer a stakeholder in this neighborhood. Bill Burgua’s opinions regarding our neighborhood may not be shared by the current Board (of which I am co-chair), or the neighborhood at large, and may not reflect the current hopes, dreams, and aspirations we have for this neighborhood. It is our hope his opinions will be considered in that context.

March 27, 2011 | 4:31 PM

Yes Ms. Murphy is correct that was chair of Marshall School/New Era Park Neighborhood Association for about 10 years since no one else would step up. I worked to create the merger of Marshall School NA and New Era Park NA sine New Era Park shared many similarities with Marshall School and had lost all leadership of their NA.

I do not know where she gets that I am no longer a stakeholder in this neighborhood. Just because someone doesn’t reside in a neighborhood it does not mean they do not have numerous other reasons to be involved in a neighborhood.

She is correct that I do not share the same opinions as the current board. I would like to point out that many of the current residents in the neighborhood do not have the same opinions as the board.
I was informed by the current chair of MSNEPNA that when he took over that he had different opinions about problems with the bars and night clubs since he made his living working in the industry.

I would be very interested to hear what the current hopes, dreams, and aspirations we have for this neighborhood. Who ever we is. Is it Ms. Murphy, the current board or everyone in the neighborhood?

I would hope that my comments would be taken in the context of someone who that when the city government went on and on about Sacramento becoming the most livable city in the country that I took them at their word and worked for a livable city for every one.

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