Working to bring residents back downtown

By Emilie Cameron, Policy & Advocacy Manager at DSP

Downtown Sacramento is well on its way to becoming a vibrant urban district. Over the past decade, more than $1 billion in public and private investments were made in downtown that has effectively transformed its landscape, and more are on the horizon.

Earlier this year, Mayor Kevin Johnson also announced his goal to build 10,000 new housing units in our downtown core over the next 10 years. This is a good sign when you hear time and time again, people today prefer living downtown close to work, rather than living in the suburbs and commuting.

Downtown residents are critical to business creation and growth in our urban core. The Partnership supports policies that will keep project costs down, streamline processes that hinder high-density projects, and incentivize more development downtown.

Already several plans are underway to bring more housing into our downtown including, transformation of the old Crystal Ice Buildings into the Ice Blocks – a mixed-use project with nearly 150 residential units across two buildings, Sacramento Commons will bring more than 1,300 apartments and condos, and Metro Crossing anticipates construction of a 200-unit affordable housing project in the Railyards.

These are the types of projects that are rapidly changing the residential and office marketplace of downtown. And, they are just the beginning. When the Downtown Sacramento Partnership polled young people last year, nearly half indicated they would be interested in living in downtown Sacramento once the arena is built. Alternatively, a lack of housing options was cited as a top reason why survey respondents would not want to live downtown. Simply put, we need more housing options for a broad cross-section of downtown residents.

To ensure an adequate supply for all, the Partnership supports policies that will remove some of the obstacles that have hindered the development of housing in downtown. We support two key bills in the Legislature – AB 35 and AB 1335 – that will bring millions back to our cities to expand the development of affordable housing. Last week AB 35 advanced from the Assembly and now awaiting assignment in the Senate.

At the local level, the Partnership supports steps to help developers build urban infill projects and applauds Mayor Kevin Johnson’s downtown housing initiative urging the creation of 10,000 housing units in the next 10 years. The Partnership has actively participated with leaders of the initiative to come up with ways to get more housing built quickly and less expensively.

It’s important to streamline approval processes and inform developers of existing programs that can help to ease the path to development. That is why the Partnership supports policies that will achieve this, including updates to the City’s Mixed Income Housing Ordinance to encourage the development of more housing in Sacramento.

Last week, Mayor Johnson formally launched “Think Downtown,” a marketing campaign to brand downtown as the region’s “in” place to live. The Partnership will continue to advocate for policies that will make this vision a reality.

For more information about the Partnership’s policy and advocacy activities, contact Emilie Cameron.