Neighborhood residents call on Council to keep Measure U equity promise
This is a guest opinion piece submitted by 18 Sacramento residents from various Sacramento neighborhoods
Are you following the Measure U discussions at City Hall?
We certainly hope so.
Because if you voted for the measure to support more equitable economic development in Sacramento’s lower income neighborhoods and provide opportunities and amenities for a better quality of life for all Sacramentans, you best pay attention to what’s happening and give your council member a call.
Measure U was sold as a way for residents to invest in Sacramento…a bold vision for economic equality for neighborhoods that have been overlooked economically for generations.
But some City Council members are waffling. And that’s our money they are waffling about. Some now seem in doubt about why we voted “yes” for the measure. They are considering using some of it to help offset the rising cost of city employee pensions, fire and police department staff and park services. These are worthy programs and sorting out such complex demands is not an easy job. But it is their job. That’s why we elected them, to balance these needs and resolve conflicting demands.
And 57 % of Sacramento voters did not support raising the Measure U sales tax to see our money diverted to pay for pension benefits or traditional government services – important as these needs are. The City Council needs to prioritize and protect these funds for the purpose for which they were intended. They need to give us what they sold us. To do otherwise is a breach of the public trust.
The Mayor has recommended issuing bonds to help finance this vision for economic equality and a better community for all. Concerns have been raised that this is too much debt for the City to take on. But we somehow managed to take on some $273 million in bond debt for a new basketball and performance arena, to be paid for in part with our parking meter fees. Surely we can find another such creative solution to support 1/5th of that amount for neighborhood development.
Sacramento is experiencing a building boom with many new developments downtown. We are refurbishing the Community Center and Old Sac; making over Capitol Mall; developing the Riverfront; and adding an anticipated MLS stadium and district to be developed. It’s great to have a shiny new downtown, but if we want to better our entire community, we need to look further than the downtown grid.
The Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association addressed the City Council after the death of Stephon Clark and called attention to …”this devastating event as a painful wakeup call that we need to focus on more equitable treatment, programs, resources, and access for all Sacramentans.” This is our opportunity to do so. To ignore voter aspirations and divert the funds for other uses makes those already skeptical only more so and undermines the legitimacy of our electoral process.
Last month, nine organizations formed the “Sacramento Economic Growth and Equity Coalition,” and sent a letter to City officials urging them to change course on where Measure U’s dollars appear in the proposed budget. Local developers and tourism interests joined with Sacramento’s racial equity philanthropies and nonprofits, urging city leaders to invest more directly in Sacramento’s neighborhoods and to create jobs. The letter calls for 100 percent of the money to be used to address “sustainable and inclusive prosperity,” focuses on lower-income neighborhoods that voted heavily for Measure U, and calls for “intentional investment” that will create high-wage jobs.
Let’s join those who are speaking out. Please call your council member today. Ask him or her where they stand on this issue before June 11 when the budget is scheduled to be voted on. Ask them to earmark $40 million per year over the next five years for inclusive economic activity, and urge the city manager to include it in the upcoming budget. Tell them you want what you paid for.
Mimi Budd and Phil Goldcamp, Curtis Park
Pam Giarrizzo, Curtis Park
Lynda Ives, Land Park
Judith Link, Curtis Park
Muriel Rosenberg, Curtis Park
Nancy Blackburn, Curtis Park
Lilly Spitz, Pocket/Greenhaven
Sally Weiler and Tom Rasmussen, Curtis Park
Mark Carlson, East Sacramento
Loretta de Porceri, Downtown
Kenneth Duncan, Oak Park/South Natomas
Everett Dockery, Natomas
Charon Jenner, Curtis Park
Rebecca Gonzales, Curtis Park
Suzanne Flint, Curtis Park
Diane Herold, Curtis Park