City Beat

Council advances streetcar system plan

A proposed streetcar system linking West Sacramento with Sacramento’s central city took two important steps forward Tuesday night.

By a unanimous vote, the Sacramento City Council approved moving forward with an advisory vote asking downtown property owners within three blocks of the proposed line if they would support contributing a total of $30 million toward the $150 million project.

Ballots are scheduled to be sent out this week asking landowners if they are willing to make payments toward the financing for 30 years. Residents and landowners in the proposed fee district would pay between $10 and close to $100,000 a year, depending on the size of their properties.

Also Tuesday night, the City Council voted unanimously to commit $7 million in city money to the project. That money will only be spent if downtown landowners support the project first.

Half of the money needed for the project – $75 million – is expected to come from federal grants. West Sacramento would pay $25 million, the state $10 million and Sacramento County $3 million.

Councilman Steve Hansen, who represents the central city and is a supporter of the project, said the mix of funding sources is a “unique, innovative approach to delivering a project that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to do.”

The city’s contribution would come from a variety of sources. The biggest chunk – $3 million – would come from money left over from the 2014 budget. Another $2 million would come from proceeds of the sale of city properties and former redevelopment funds; $1 million from money the city receives for maintaining the Cal EPA Building on I Street; and $1 million from federal development funds given to cities.

Two central city residents testified against the project.

Sally Lorber, who said she lives in a loft on L Street, said she was concerned the streetcars would lead to noise and congestion in her neighborhood. But Hansen argued that streetcars would lead to fewer automobile trips in the area.

The vote by property owners is seen as a make-or-break step in the process. Some major landowners downtown have already voiced support for the plan.

The Sacramento Kings’ owners, who have already committed $500,000 to the project, are the largest landowner in the proposed fee district. Team minority owner Mark Friedman told The Sacramento Bee last month that the team is willing to pay a fee toward the streetcar financing of about $100,000 a year.

The Hyatt Regency on L Street and developer David Taylor, who owns the U.S. Bank Tower on Capitol Mall, have also indicated they are willing to commit tens of thousands of dollars a year toward the project. Taylor testified in support of the plan on Tuesday.

If property owners approve, a second vote would be held for registered voters in the fee district, probably in April or May. Ballots would be due in June.

A 3.3-mile streetcar line would run from City Hall in West Sacramento and carry trolleys past Raley Field and over the Tower Bridge. The cars would travel past many downtown landmarks – including the new Kings arena under construction and Old Sacramento – and would stretch as far east as 19th Street in midtown.

Trolleys would run every 15 minutes to begin with and eventually operate every 10 minutes.

If all the various financing options are approved, regional transportation officials said construction could begin as early as next year and finish by 2017 or 2018.

Call The Bee’s Ryan Lillis, (916) 321-1085. Read his City Beat blog at

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