Ronald G. Rule, who served 17 years as the first head of the Capitol Area Development Authority, died Nov. 11 of heart failure, said his wife, Kathy. He was 80.
Mr. Rule was a consultant in the 1970s working to help create housing on land around the Capitol that the state had purchased in anticipation of building high-rise government offices. He and other planners proposed creating a joint city-state agency responsible for developing and managing the 42-block area around Capitol Park sprinkled with small apartment complexes, motels and commercial buildings.
He was named executive director of the Capitol Area Development Authority, which the Legislature created in 1978. He oversaw the rehab of about 400 apartments and facilitated public-private partnerships that built 450 new dwellings, including many that were rented to lawmakers, lobbyists and Capitol workers, according to a 1997 story in The Sacramento Bee.
Under his leadership, the agency built the Capitol Athletic Club and financed construction of the state Office of Buildings and Grounds headquarters, according to a CADA statement. In addition, a rent-assistance program was set up to ensure that 25 percent of dwellings would be available for low-income residents, officials said.
“Ron was a bold leader who carried CADA through its early years with his outrageous sense of humor and force of personality,” Paul Schmidt, who was CADA executive director from 2005 to 2011, said in a written statement. “He challenged the pretentious, promoted open communication and always drew people closer together with laughter.”
In 1995, several CADA workers and former employees accused Mr. Rule and other top officials of violating policies related to nepotism, conflicts of interest, use of agency vehicles and credit cards, and other matters. An internal investigation found lax rules at CADA but did not identify specific culprits.
Mr. Rule, who had a history of heart problems, took a medical leave and stepped down during the investigation. He denied the allegations and defended CADA’s record of creating a desirable residential neighborhood with commercial establishments around the Capitol.
“And we’ve done this without taking a dime from the general fund,” he told The Bee in 1995. “It’s all been totally self-supporting. I go out with pride.”
Born in 1934 in Glendale, Mr. Rule worked his way through college in a nursery and received a degree in landscape architecture from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. After serving in the Navy Reserve, he started working for the Los Angeles County Planning Department and joined a development company that built multifamily housing projects throughout the West, Schmidt said.
He moved to Sacramento and worked on one of the first multifamily projects in South Natomas, the former Discovery Village apartments, Schmidt said. He joined the California Housing Finance Agency and was hired by the state architect to work on housing for the Capitol Area Plan, Schmidt said.
Mr. Rule served as a consultant for a Sacramento plumbing company after leaving CADA and helped start the California Fairs Financing Authority, a joint-powers agency for county fairs, Schmidt said. He retired and lived for the last 15 years in Graeagle in Plumas County.
In addition to his wife of 26 years, he is survived by two children from a previous marriage, his son Craig and daughter Carrie; a stepdaughter, Michele Borovac; and four grandchildren.
Services are pending.