Sacramento, a city on the verge: Tell me what you want us to become

One of the great joys of living in Sacramento for nearly 30 years has been the feeling of living in a city that was on the verge. Of what? Of growth. Of transformation. Of maturity. Of recognition. Of long-held goals finally realized.

This “becoming” is all happening before our eyes. We are witnessing a transformation from a tired reputation as a government town. We’re feeling maturity and confidence coupled with a recognition from the outside that Sacramento is a great place to live.

What’s concerning – well, concerning is an understatement – is that Sacramento may go the way of San Francisco or Seattle. Will we reach a point where our homeless crisis is too big and too far gone? Will our housing prices continue spiking to where most of our children will be unable to make the kind of lives for themselves that our generation has enjoyed in Sacramento?

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I arrived in November of 1989 from San Jose, part of the first wave of Bay Area residents flocking to Sacramento for affordable housing. My Bay Area friends thought I was nuts.

My goal was to stay two to three years and then head off to Los Angeles or New York. Initially, I retained my residency in San Jose so I could continue voting for issues in my hometown.


But then I fell in love with Sacramento, bought my first house, came to love the neighborhoods, the community, the feeling of knowing people wherever I went in town – a feeling I never knew in San Jose. The offers from Los Angeles came, but I declined. I was at a Kings game in the mid-’90s against the Golden State Warriors, the team of my youth. And suddenly, I found myself rooting for the team in purple.

I’ve had a great life here and now, suddenly, the riverfront is due for a face lift. Golden 1 Center has transformed a dead urban core. Construction is happening everywhere, including at the long dead downtown railyard.

But will my kids be able to find their place in the city we’ve built? Will my city shed its reputation as the home office of police brutality after the shooting death of an unarmed Stephon Clark? Will Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg make good on his pledge to bend the curve on the homeless crisis and find investment for long-neglected Sacramento neighborhoods?

Can we retain that wonderful community feel as our growth explodes?

I want to hear from you.

At The Bee, our mission is to document the story of Sacramento as it evolves. We want you to tell us your stories at this consequential time of our civic history.

Email me at mbreton@sacbee.com. Call me at 916-321-1096. Follow me on Twitter: @marcosbreton.

Share your story, which is part of my story and our story. We are the city on the verge. But can we be the city that figures it out, that grows and flourishes without losing its essence or without forgetting about the people we don’t want to leave behind?

I love Sacramento. You love Sacramento. Let’s build the city we want.

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Marcos Breton writes commentary and opinion columns about the Sacramento region, California and the United States. He’s been a California newspaperman for more than 30 years. He’s a graduate of San Jose State University, a voter for the Baseball Hall of Fame and the proud son of Mexican immigrants.