City Beat

Mack Road revival faces turning point in south Sacramento

DeAngelo Mack, coordinator of the Sacramento Violence Intervention Program, talks with DJ Williams, 21, and Zachary Haulcy, 15, both of Elk Grove as they worked on a variety of beautification projects on Mack Road and the area in April 2014.
DeAngelo Mack, coordinator of the Sacramento Violence Intervention Program, talks with DJ Williams, 21, and Zachary Haulcy, 15, both of Elk Grove as they worked on a variety of beautification projects on Mack Road and the area in April 2014. Sacramento Bee file

Jonathan Salas has a close-up view of the progress happening on Mack Road.

Salas has lived near the major south Sacramento thoroughfare for nearly his entire life. He currently lives in an apartment complex behind gleaming new basketball courts built last fall by the Sacramento Kings and Kaiser Permanente. There’s also a new playground near the courts, along with a building that will soon house a new community center.

“This is all a big deal,” Salas said this week during an event sponsored by the ride-sharing company Uber in which fans were driven to the court to play basketball with Kings players.

“It gives kids something to do instead of living the street life,” Salas added. “We need more of this.”

Whether more progress occurs on Mack Road may be in the hands of neighborhood property owners.

The Mack Road Partnership, a property and business improvement district (PBID), is struggling to persuade property owners to renew the partnership. While some major property owners, including Kaiser, have agreed to support the partnership’s extension, others have resisted.

The organization is funded through the end of 2015. Jenna Abbott, executive director of the Mack Road Partnership, acknowledged her organization’s request may not be easy for some property owners. Annual assessments to support the partnership range from $39 to roughly $70,000, depending on property size, Abbott said.

“We’re asking people to take money out of their own pockets to fund this, and that’s not lost on me,” she said.

City Councilman Larry Carr, whose district borders Mack Road, said it was “critical” that the partnership’s funding be extended.

“It’s fundamental to our efforts to make our district a location where people will want to come to open a business, participate in commerce, live and raise a family,” he said.

Before taking office last year, Carr was executive director of the Florin Road Partnership, representing businesses on another busy south Sacramento street. He said groups advocating for business corridors play a vital role in communicating with city officials about an area’s needs.

Some property owners, including those who own large apartment complexes on Mack Road, are not based in Sacramento. Carr said that can make it difficult to persuade some property owners to invest in PBIDs.

“When you have out-of-town property owners, people who are not familiar with what’s going on day to day, it becomes a difficult task even in the face of all those accomplishments,” Carr said.

The highlight of the Mack Road Partnership’s calendar last year was the Summer Night Lights program. Hundreds of neighborhood residents showed up for the 42 events to eat free dinners, play basketball and listen to music.

Abbott said the partnership plans to operate the program again this year, but its future is in doubt after 2015 if the partnership is not renewed. The partnership has an annual budget of $420,000 and raised $200,000 to run last summer’s event series.

The partnership also organized a cleanup day that drew several thousand residents. And for the first summer in 15 years, there were no homicides on the road.

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

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