By rejecting a fuel center in Curtis Park, the Sacramento City Council made the right and wise decision, not only for the neighborhood but for smart growth citywide.
The council’s 7-2 vote late Tuesday should send a loud and clear message to developers about the proper way to do business in Sacramento – and what isn’t acceptable.
Paul Petrovich, the developer of Curtis Park Village, failed on multiple fronts.
He sought to add the fuel center, even though it was not part of the original deal with the neighborhood that led to council approval of the 72-acre residential-retail project in 2012. Significantly, Regional Transit said the gas pumps would undermine the promise that the development would encourage transit.
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Essentially, Petrovich tried to blackmail the neighborhood and City Hall. He warned that without the gas station, Safeway wouldn’t be the anchor supermarket, but would be replaced by a discount grocer and other, less desirable tenants.
Then he attempted to pit neighborhoods against one another. He held out the prize of jobs paying $21.50 an hour to poor residents of Oak Park if they supported his proposal – and told them that Curtis Park residents were standing in the way with their opposition.
Sacramento wants infill development, but the developer essentially tried to blackmail the neighborhood.
Such tactics shouldn’t be rewarded. Taken together, they were more than enough reason for the City Council to overturn a recommendation from its Planning and Design Commission.
Ideally, a Safeway or a grocery chain like it will still be the anchor tenant. There is a lucrative business opportunity for the right company.
In any case, the City Council set a strong and valuable precedent going forward. We want infill development in Sacramento, but only if it is sensitive to nearby neighborhoods and furthers the city’s goals.