Property owners approve Riverfront Streetcar

Sacramento’s streetcar is one step closer to becoming a reality. Last month, downtown property owners approved the streetcar project through an advisory vote.

“The property owner vote in strong support of the proposed streetcar system, clearly indicated that our downtown owners believe there is a value and benefit to Downtown Sacramento,” said DSP Executive Director Michael Ault. “In the end that is a win for our community and will help us create stronger connections throughout the urban core.”

Proposed streetcar route

Proposed streetcar route

The proposed 3.3-mile route would link West Sacramento and Sacramento while going past key landmarks like Raley Field, the Bridge District, Old Sacramento and the new Kings arena and the State Capitol. The next key step comes in May when voters who live within three blocks of the proposed line will vote on the project.

Over the past five years, the cities of Sacramento and West Sacramento, transportation planners and business representatives worked to develop a streetcar plan for Sacramento. DSP lead the effort with business leaders to develop project assurances on costs, improve the financing, and educate our owners on the benefits.

In other cities like Portland, streetcar lines have spurred redevelopment of blighted buildings, new development on vacant lots and growth in property values, retail sales and hospitality revenues – all of which increase the tax base. An analysis by Strategic Economics of Sacramento’s proposed streetcar anticipates similar results.

Over the next 20 years, existing properties within the streetcar district in Sacramento are expected to see value increases of more than $120 million. The aggregate benefits for the private sector — in terms of new development, increased commercial rents and retail and hospitality sales — is conservatively estimated at $1.9 billion. This represents a tremendous return on the investment of $30 million that owners will contribute to the $150 million project.

The property owners’ investment will be made by issuing bonds, which will be repaid from an annual assessment on properties within the streetcar district.  Because of the large contribution being sought from the private sector, DSP worked diligently with the Sacramento Area Council of Governments and the City of Sacramento provide assurances and procedural protections for our members. Those assurances include guarantees that owners’ assessments can never go up, that the district funds will not be used to finance operations and maintenance, that the city seeks the best financing both now and in the future, that owners can pay less as new properties are developed in the district, that light rail is relocated off of K Street and that a non-profit board, made up of private and public sector leaders, governs streetcar operations. We have also worked to make sure the contribution for each owner was distributed fairly according to anticipated benefit and ability to pay. Accordingly, properties on the first block of the streetcar line pay more than those on the second or third. In addition, 501(c)(3) non-profits will pay a reduced rate, and affordable housing properties will be exempt.

The streetcar provides us with the chance to connect our visitors, employees and residents alike to our signature destinations: midtown, the convention center, the state Capitol, K Street, the planned new arena, Sacramento Valley Station, Old Sacramento, Raley Field and West Sacramento. The time is now to invest in keeping Sacramento rolling forward.

For more details about the streetcar project, visit http://www.riverfrontstreetcar.com/.