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Community Profile: City leaders like the affordability and quality of life in Citrus Heights

By Tinka Davi

Citrus Heights just opened its new City Hall, next to the post office and across the street from the police station.
Citrus Heights just opened its new City Hall, next to the post office and across the street from the police station.

An early Monday morning breakfast at Erica’s Café in Citrus Heights was a perfect opportunity for city officials and a new-home builder to share what they like about their community.

While the hour was early, their comments were bright and enlightening.

“Affordability and quality of life are strong,” said Mayor Jeannie Bruins.

“Ditto, ditto, ditto,” said Vice Mayor Jeff Slowey. Also the city is debt-free, he added.

“Fiscal responsibility and potential - a bright future,” said planning commission member Rick Doyle.

Kevin Webb, division president Northern California for Watt Communities, said that, from a homebuilder’s perspective, the structure of the community and the organization in the leadership are key attractions.

Changes include a new city manager starting Oct. 1. Christopher W. Boyd, the city’s police chief is replacing Henry Tingle who is retiring. Tingle selected Boyd as his replacement.

Boyd, chief for 10 years, will select the next police chief, Slowey said.

Doyle said the chief and city manager are always looking for their replacements.

The Citrus Heights Police Department headed by Chief Boyd won the James Q. Wilson Award for Excellence in Community Policing in 2012 and 2013.

Boyd will move across the street from the police department to the city’s new city hall which celebrated a grand opening Aug. 25. All staff has moved into the new building on Fountain Square Drive.

Citrus Heights is primarily a bedroom community, and pretty much built out, Slowey said.

“There’s lots of housing and we would like to see more.”

Watt Communities is answering that call. The builder has plans for Mariposa Creek on Antelope Road near Mariposa Avenue.

Plans are for 50 single-story, single-family homes, with some on large lots along the creek.

“It’s our second project and we’re looking at more.”

Models should open in the spring and designs will be the same as at Watt Communities’ homes in AutumnWood.

Mayor Bruins said that decades ago, people who moved into the city worked downtown and many still do.

“There’s no major industry here and no major zoning for manufacturing.”

Bruins said that the city’s growth started in the ’70s and ’80s and was built out quickly. Individual builders constructed most of the homes.

The city’s housing stock is older than other cities in the area, Slowey said. “There are 11 different neighborhood associations in Citrus Heights,”

According to the city website, the neighborhood areas are groups of grassroots community volunteers. Developing the neighborhood organizations was voted by the public as one of the Top 10 Accomplishments by the city of Citrus Heights since incorporation in January 1997.

Each neighborhood organization has its own bylaws and board, which meet to discuss improvements and neighborhood projects.

Bruins, who is writing a time capsule letter to be opened at the city’s 50th anniversary, said she is focusing on the fact that the city has not incurred debt.

“We wrote checks for the police station and the community center - no bonds, no debt.”

That’s due to budgeting conservatively and good planning, she said.

Shopping is expanding in Citrus Heights.

Smart and Final and Black Bear Diner are now open at the former Capital Nursery site at the Madison Avenue and Sunrise Boulevard, Slowey said.

Sunrise Mall was purchased in November by Spinoso Real Estate Group, which has brought in a construction project manager, he said. He’s encouraged by that news.

“Something is imminent.”

Shopping and dining are available at the four corners of Sunrise and Greenback Lane, at the Antelope Crossing area and several other places in town.

Among attractions in Citrus Heights are several special events. They include the Sunday Funday Sept. 25 at Rusch Park; the Oct. 15 Spooktacular at the Antelope Crossing shopping centers; the Oct. 24 Howl-O-Ween parade and Harvests Festival at Rusch Park; and Christmas events.

A major milestone will be observed Jan. 1, 2017 when the city celebrates its 20th anniversary.

Younger families are moving into Citrus Heights because of affordability. Others are buying homes from older residents who are moving into new homes that Watt Communities offers.

“We see multi-generations here,” Bruins said.

The city is within the San Juan Unified School District, which has several schools. There are also private schools in the community.

Currently, 122 single-family homes are active and available on the market in both Citrus Heights, said Michael Shumaker of Security Pacific Real Estate.

“The lowest listing is $200,000, but the highest listing is a bit of an anomaly as it includes one of the larger lots available - 6.1 acres at $1,350,000. The current average listed price is $326,000.”

Current inventory is low with 1.2 months available which means it’s still a sellers’ market.

The average days on the market is running consistently at 20 days for the last two months. Although a few homes have come back on the market after having an accepted offer, an appropriately priced home that is listed anywhere under the $300,000 range is selling quickly, he said.

“Interest rates are still at fantastic lows and we anticipate them to stay low for the time being. More people are able to afford purchasing a home which is great since there seems to be a shortage of home rentals available.”

“I see the housing market prices staying strong here for months to come.”

Tinka Davi is a freelance writer and editor based in Folsom.

FAST FACTS

Where: 13 miles northeast of Sacramento

Size: Approximately 14 square miles

Population: 84,000

Incorporated: Jan. 1, 1997

County: Sacramento

Government: City Manager/City Council

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