Transportation

Sacramento bans gas stations, warehouses near light-rail stations

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Uber and Sacramento transit officials announce installation of e-bike charging hubs at light rail stations, Friday, September 28, 2018, at the City College light rail station.
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Uber and Sacramento transit officials announce installation of e-bike charging hubs at light rail stations, Friday, September 28, 2018, at the City College light rail station.

New gas stations, drive-through restaurants and warehouses will soon be banned within a quarter-mile of Sacramento’s 23 light-rail stations under a new ordinance passed Tuesday by the City Council.

The ordinance will also eliminate parking requirements for new housing developments within a quarter mile of a station, and require cannabis cultivation and manufacturing businesses and certain types of other operations opening within a half-mile of a light rail station to apply for conditional use permits with the city.

The goal of the ordinance — which passed 8-0 with Councilwoman Angelique Ashby absent — is to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, increase transit ridership and encourage more high-density housing near light rail stations, Marco Gonzalez, city project manger, told the council Tuesday.

“Do we want or need full-service gas stations in proximity to transit stops? I think if we don’t answer that question in the right way, then we are really sending inconsistent signals here,” Mayor Darrell Steinberg said.

The full list of businesses that are now banned within a quarter-mile of light rail stations includes: auto sales, storage, rental, service and repair shops; drive through-restaurants; gas stations; mini storage; warehouses; and distribution centers.

Those businesses could open farther from a light rail station — up to a half mile away — if they obtained a conditional use permit from the city. Other types of businesses that would be allowed to open in the half-mile radius with a conditional use permit include cannabis cultivation and manufacturing; equipment rentals; manufacturing; plant nurseries; and wholesale stores.

WHERE THE BAN WOULD APPLY

Sacramento City Council Tuesday banned certain types of businesses near light rail stations in an effort to promote high-density housing and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

Source: City of Sacramento

The new rule will not apply to projects that submitted plans to the city before Oct. 1, the staff report said.

A group of warehouse property owners in the Cannon Industrial Park in north Sacramento near the Macroni/Arcade station told the council the new restrictions would hurt their businesses, and asked that station be exempt from the rule.

“There’s all kinds of vacant land,” said Jerry Greenberg, who owns warehouses in the park. “We’re in an area where no one’s going to build high-rise apartments.”

Evelia Marquez said the ordinance would prevent her from opening a cannabis business at her warehouse — the reason she bought the property.

“Now we are limited in what are properties can be or can be rented for,” Marquez told the council. “I definitely think that’s a little unfair to the property owners who are good citizens and pay our taxes.”

The council amended the motion to direct city staff to come back to the council by April with recommendations to address the property owners’ concerns.

June Bergeron, who also owns a building in the park she rents to a tile and flooring company, said the amendment did not ease her concerns.

“They still passed it,” she said.

The amendment also directs staff to come back to council by April with a timetable for zoning incentives to encourage dense housing around the stations.

The city created the ordinance amid on ongoing legal battle with developer Paul Petrovich, who wants to build a gas station in his Crocker Village development project, within a quarter-mile from the Sacramento City College light-rail station. It’s not clear whether the new rule would have an impact on that case.

Representatives from Sacramento Area Council of Governments, Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District and Walk Sacramento spoke in support of the ordinance.

Sen. Scott Weiner, D-San Francisco, last week introduced a state bill to create new incentives and other tools for new housing to be built within a half mile of transit stations in California cities. Mayor Darrell Steinberg is in favor of the bill, according to a news release.

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