Mike McKeever, one of the most influential players on Sacramento growth issues, will retire at the end of 2016 after a dozen years as chief executive of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments.
McKeever, SACOG chief executive since 2004, led the region’s efforts in the early 2000s to move away from uncoordinated sprawl toward sustainable planning, notably by building new homes, job centers and other amenities closer together to reduce the miles Sacramentans must drive daily.
McKeever, 60, organized Sacramento’s nationally acclaimed Blueprint regional planning scenario, a set of guiding principles for cities and counties that has led to more investment in infill housing, transit, pedestrian facilities and bike lanes.
That style of planning has now become standard in California and elsewhere. McKeever, however, described SACOG’s efforts as evolutionary rather than revolutionary, saying the Blueprint and other efforts to reduce car travel are akin to slowly turning the nose of a large ship.
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The effort, he said, involves building consensus in a region with diverging viewpoints, rather than attempting to tell cities and developers how they should do business.
“The Blueprint is a substantial change, but it is in small pieces over time,” McKeever said. “It’s also in the flow of how people want to live in the future. It is a very different development pattern than the one we were headed for with business as usual.”
Sacramento Rep. Doris Matsui lauded McKeever. “Mike McKeever has dedicated his career to helping the Sacramento area plan for the future in forward-thinking ways,” Matsui wrote in a press statement. “Mike’s vision spurred responsible growth and successfully connected our transit systems in an environmentally sound manner. The Sacramento Region Blueprint … will ensure that the six-county region develops sustainably for years to come.”
Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor, the SACOG board chair for 2015, called McKeever a tremendous asset to the Sacramento region and said he has put together a solid staff at the planning agency.
Roseville Vice Mayor Susan Rohan, who will be sworn in as SACOG board chair next week, said, “I am confident that with the year’s notice Mike has provided we can conduct a strategic, inclusive process and have another top notch person in the corner office ready to go in 2017.”
SACOG is made up of city council representatives from 22 local cities and six counties – El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba – and serves mainly as a regional transportation planning entity, disbursing federal transportation dollars to cities and counties.
McKeever said he intends to spend more time with family, including grandchildren, and to delve into hobbies.