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Arden Arcade apartment opponents say Peters should abstain from vote

Sacramento County Supervisor Susan Peters
Sacramento County Supervisor Susan Peters Susan Peters

Opponents of a proposed Arden Arcade apartment complex are asking Supervisor Susan Peters not to vote on the project Tuesday because of her long-term relationship with the developer.

Among the ties between Peters and developer Steve Eggert: They served on the finance committee for Doug Ose’s recent congressional campaign, Eggert sat on the host committee for a Peters’ fundraiser in 2012, and Peters nominated Eggert to serve in her place on a county transportation committee in 2005.

The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a proposed 148-unit apartment complex near Watt and El Camino avenues by Anton Development Co., which is headed by Eggert. Supervisors are hearing an appeal of a Planning Commission decision to approve the project.

“In the interest of public trust and integrity, she should recuse herself,” said Carl Dolk, an Arden Arcade resident who has been lobbying supervisors to reject the project.

Peters and her chief of staff, Howard Schmidt, did not return messages from The Sacramento Bee on Monday. Neither did Eggert, who is president of Anton Development Co., which specializes in the construction of low-income apartments.

To make his argument, Dolk cited the Political Reform Act of 1974, which says politicians should not vote for projects that benefit “the financial interest of persons who have supported them.”

But Bob Stern, who co-authored the law and served as an attorney for the commission that enforces it, says the law is aimed at economic ties, not political ones. Peters would have to have an economic relationship with Eggert or Anton Development Co., such as serving on the company’s board or owning stock in the company, to have a conflict under the law, he said.

She may have an ethical conflict, but it doesn’t appear to be serious enough to warrant recusal, Stern said.

Peters has voted for Anton Development Co. projects 16 times since taking office in 2004 according to records from the board clerk. Most of the votes, including a December one for the Arden Arcade project, approved tax-exempt bonds for apartment projects, which county officials said were appropriate because the developer is providing low-income housing.

Peters has been under investigation by the state Fair Political Practices Commission since July for votes she cast for projects at the former Mather Air Force Base, where she owns property. An FPPC spokesman said Monday the commission is still examining her votes, but would not provide specifics.

Opponents of the Arden Arcade project said they are not just upset about Peters’ relationship with Eggert. They said she has snubbed offers to meet with them.

Cesar Castaneda, president of the Country Club Alliance of Neighborhoods, said Peters has not responded to two letters sent by the organization asking for meetings. One letter addressed the association’s complaints about a WinCo Foods grocery store at Country Club Plaza, which supervisors approved. The other letter was about the apartment complex, which opponents say will create traffic and pedestrian safety problems in an already congested neighborhood.

Dolk said Peters’ lack of response is upsetting because she represents Arden Arcade, while Supervisors Phil Serna, Patrick Kennedy and Don Nottoli have met with him and other activists regarding their complaints about the proposed apartment complex.

The Planning Commission approved the apartment complex, but some commissioners said they were precluded from addressing concerns they had about traffic because county counsel said they could only consider the design of the development. The decision was appealed by the Arden Arcade Community Planning Advisory Commission, which had previously recommended denial of the project.

Call The Bee’s Brad Branan, (916) 321-1065. Follow him on Twitter @BradB_at_SacBee.