Two opposing forces are at it again in Sacramento, wrangling over where the region's next generation will live and how its members will get where they need to go.
It's the traditional open-space builders vs. the new urbanists.
Last month, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors approved 2,700-acre Cordova Hills, a suburban development in the hills south of Grant Line Road, just beyond the Rancho Cordova city limits.
That project would offer some spacious home sites with panoramic views at the base of the foothills.
Transportation planners, air quality experts and environmentalists don't like it. They say there's plenty of developable land closer to the heart of the metro area, including for big houses.
But the supervisors - several of whom are suburbanites and rural residents - are generally disinclined to stand in the way of businesspeople who want to make money offering potential buyers the suburban lifestyle for which Sacramento has been known for decades. They also have fingers crossed a university might someday be built there.
The other approach - more activist - was on display Thursday in a forum attended by Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, and urban leaders at the Crocker Art Museum.
It was hosted by the Urban Land Institute's local chapter, which has become a power player in advising urban Sacramento leaders on how to respond to an expected increase in people who don't want a big lawn to mow or a long commute to negotiate.
A ULI panel recently gave Sacramento some eye-opening ideas on developing the downtown railyard. One idea: Knock down some freeway ramps to connect the downtown site to the Sacramento River.
Last week, the ULI provided the Greater Broadway Partnership with ideas on making that already successful strip more of an urban economic powerhouse.
Thursday's ULI forum at the Crocker was focused on how West Sacramento and downtown Sacramento leaders can intelligently prepare for an estimated 50,000 more people expected to live near both banks of the Sacramento River in the next 30 years.
One speaker, West Sacramento City Manager Marty Tuttle, made a point of dismissing the Cordova Hills approval as "more of a 1975 decision."
His city, which already built its own close-in suburban area, Southport, now plans hundreds of riverfront apartments and condos, with bike trails connecting to Davis and to downtown Sacramento over two or three new bridges, and a streetcar system across the river.
Sacramento has similar waterfront projects in mind.
The new urbanists have momentum. Ultimately, the next generation of buyers will vote with their pocketbooks what gets built. It looks like they'll have an option: Stay suburban. Or go urban.