City Beat

Homelessness, MLS, gentrification and art scene among top Sacramento issues in 2017

City wants to limit access to parts of Del Paso Regional Park

Natural areas of the park have been damaged by trash and illegal camps.
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Natural areas of the park have been damaged by trash and illegal camps.

Sacramento has a new mayor and a new arena. But many families and young professionals are feeling the squeeze from rising housing costs, some neighborhoods are worried about gentrification and there isn’t enough housing to shelter the city’s most vulnerable residents.

With that in mind, here are some key issues to follow this year:

Homelessness crisis

The new mayor, Darrell Steinberg, has made it clear in his first days that he believes one of his primary responsibilities is addressing homelessness. He and other government officials helped extend hours at warming centers on cold nights and Steinberg is fighting for millions of dollars in state funds to build housing for homeless people.

Steinberg’s attention to the issue could spark a citywide call to action. Mini homeless camps seem to pop up in new spots every week, and water releases from Folsom Lake in December forced American River campers out of the woods and into the open, exposing just how severe this issue remains.

Sacramento goes major league

Team reps with Republic FC were thrilled last month when Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber laid out an aggressive timeline for league expansion.

Ten cities are interested in snatching one of four expansion spots up for grabs. But those who want one of the first two spots must apply by the end of January. Sacramento’s bid is considered far more advanced than its competitors, meaning it should have the strongest, most detailed bid by the deadline.

And as a result, it seems likely that Sacramento Republic FC will finally get the news it’s been waiting for: playing MLS matches in a new downtown stadium by the 2020 season.

The arts scene

Sacramento’s newest generation of artists is gaining the regional and national respect it deserves. The broader community – from politicians to entrepreneurs – has never been more engaged in fostering that culture.

ArtStreet, the much-anticipated sequel to last year’s Art Hotel show downtown, could be the biggest art event to hit Sacramento. Ever. In fact, it seems possible the three-week show will attract 100,000 people to an old warehouse south of Broadway.

Beyond that, art will start showing up on our riverfronts, in front of new apartment buildings and on more walls this year. The Sacramento Mural Festival will come back strong after a great first run in 2016. And the conversation will evolve into how the arts can not only be a cultural amenity, but an economic driver.

Oak Park’s future

Homegrown boutiques and restaurants seem to open every week in Oak Park, and many new homes are being built on formerly empty lots. These developments have thrilled many longtime residents.

But as young professionals see their rents hiked in midtown, many will continue to flock to one of the last affordable neighborhoods close to the central city. Will Oak Park remain affordable? And with the changes, will we still recognize this neighborhood in the years to come?

Kings honeymoon

Golden 1 Center has received rave reviews since it opened. This year’s musical acts include Bruno Mars, Twenty One Pilots and Bon Jovi. The Kings have sold out every regular-season home game at their new arena and, in a nice surprise, they’re in the hunt for a playoff spot.

Kings officials expect the arena experience will be enough to keep the big crowds coming to games, even if the team’s on-court performance lags. But how long will the honeymoon last if the team really tanks?

One thing’s for certain: If the Kings are still fighting for a playoff spot in March, the crowds will be there.

Joy found us in so many moments of 2016, many captured by The Sacramento Bee's photographers: Fireworks over the Tower Bridge, Easter egg hunts and, yes, even Sacramento's sizzling summer heat. We celebrated the Super Bowl in Santa Clara and Sir P

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