A quarrel over a proposed Safeway gas station in Curtis Park Village, one the city’s main new infill developments, could be decided by Sacramento City Council members Tuesday.
The city’s Planning and Design Commission approved the 16-pump gas station in June by a vote of 8-3 after hours of debate. The Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association, which represents the neighboring community of Curtis Park, appealed the decision.
The neighborhood association continues to oppose the gas station, even though developer Paul Petrovich and Safeway have since submitted an updated plan to the city that would move the gas station away from the development’s new housing and nearer to busy Sutterville Road.
The planned move relieves one concern – that a gas station doesn’t belong close to homes, said Eric Johnson, president of the Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association. But it “doesn’t comport with urban infill” or the idea of a neighborhood geared toward walking, biking and public transportation, including an adjacent light-rail stop, Johnson said.
Besides, he said, there is no shortage of nearby gas stations. “There are gas stations literally at every corner of Curtis Park,” he said.
Petrovich didn’t respond to an interview request.
In the past, he has argued that he spent more than a decade and $30 million cleaning up the former toxic railyard off Sutterville Road in anticipation of building more than 500 homes and 230,000 square feet of retail – and that he has met “every single condition” placed on his company by the neighborhood and city.
The gas station dispute is the latest eruption between Petrovich and neighbors who seem to watch and oppose his every move in Curtis Park Village.
A community meeting last month only fueled the fight.
At the Oak Park Community Center on Oct. 22, Petrovich suggested that residents of wealthier Curtis Park were keeping jobs from their poorer neighbors in Oak Park by blocking the gas station, attendees said.
Safeway wouldn’t build a grocery store unless it includes a gas station, a representative of the grocery chain reportedly told those gathered.
“Without the fuel center, Safeway does not find it financially feasible to operate there,” Safeway’s Todd Paradis said at the meeting, the Sacramento Observer reported. “So, no, we would not build there without it.”
Paradis wrote a letter to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson in July proposing that Safeway enter into a “first source agreement” with the city to recruit and interview applicants who live in Oak Park for employment at the Curtis Park Village grocery store.
City Councilman Jay Schenirer, who represents Curtis Park and Oak Park, said the city manager sent a letter to Safeway last week asking for “details on what that actually means.”
The store could generate more than 200 unionized jobs with wages and benefits worth over $21 an hour, proponents have said, but the jobs won’t materialize without a gas station.
Some in the Oak Park audience clearly agreed with that premise, said Tamika L’Ecluse, president of the Oak Park Neighborhood Association. L’Ecluse said she saw through the developer’s argument that Curtis Park residents stood in the way of good jobs as a tactic meant to generate support for the gas station.
“It was definitely a trigger statement to get a response,” she said.
The idea that Curtis Park residents want to keep Oak Park residents from getting jobs is “completely false and fabricated,” she said. “There were people in the audience who took it to be true, and that’s unfortunate,” she said.