Essay: Sacramento must be faster with surplus land and slower to give developers their wish lists

Downtown Sacramento during an event. Photograph by Stephen Leonardi

By Waverly Hampton III

There are dozens of parcels of city-owned land across Sacramento waiting to be developed on, in the midst of a major housing crisis. What should be done with them? We ask as if we don’t already know. We act as if we don’t already know. What’s the hold up? Well, I think it’s time for the talk. You see, when a private developer and a council member love each other very much…

Enough jokes. We live in a city with a population of over 500,000 and a growing number of those people are unhoused.

Those are the individuals with real stakes when it comes to land use – and the largest stakeholders should have the most say, right? They should have the loudest voice, but we drown them out with our aristocratic chatter. Ask the men, women, and children living in roach-infested motels if they would mind paying over half a million for a home, or thousands of dollars a month in rent. They would probably rather stay where they were, because it beats going through eviction or foreclosure, again.

It is a cruel cycle the City is constructing every time it grants permits for single family homes and luxury apartments. The scarce land we have left should not be wasted, not unless we want to keep reading exposés about how many people died on the streets.

Affordable, denser housing is the only answer whenever anyone asks what should be done with any plot of land. That means more multi-plexes, because we need to get more families off the streets. Right now, SHRA holds ten parcels in Oak Park. In good conscience, they want to build low-cost homes. It is 2022, low-cost homes don’t exist anymore in California. So, they want to build housing for low-income buyers while what we really need is housing for no income.

Housing is a human right, and as such it should be treated less like a commodity and more like a utility. All it takes is a little creativity on our part to make the best use of the land we have. It is precious and should not be sold to the highest bidder. It should be repurposed to better serve the community, not re-packaged to be resold at an exorbitant price.

Greed is what got us in this mess. The land was stolen from indigenous people because of greed, and now we are burdened with the consequences of a cycle of greed that just seems to keep going.

Waverly Hampton III is a community volunteer and former candidate for Sacramento City Council.

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2 Comments on "Essay: Sacramento must be faster with surplus land and slower to give developers their wish lists"

  1. Rostislav Vorontsoff | January 26, 2022 at 9:12 pm | Reply

    Nope. Wrong. False idea.
    Sacramento should stop giving free money to people. Everything must be earned. Free housing for what? Is this a trophy for trashing our streets? Why people of Sacramento must pay for the needs of those who simply like this climate and free money? Won’t this be the attraction of more such people? Who will pay for that? Definitely not the city managers who make hundreds of thousands each year. What about safety? You think you give to the people roof over their heads and our streets suddenly become safe? Don’t lie to yourself. They won’t. People must work, do something to be healthy members of the society. Keep them busy. You can’t? Then don’t attract people here.
    If housing is a human right, good housing in good places isn’t. Our safety and safety of our kids also is a human right. You want to discuss that?
    Thus, what Sacramento really needs – building cheap apartment blocks under strict rules of behaviour and under strict control of the government (can you imagine that???) outside of the city limits. People must earn their living which means they have to work hard to live better. Low quality labor, cleaning of the streets of the city, helping to California farmers, if they need it, cleaning of out parks and forests from debris, government can run the schools or help people to learn how to work. We don’t need made in China stuff when we can make it over here. Yes, the government must run not just offices but businesses too. The government must build and run hospitals and clinics instead of paying insane amounts to the private hospitals. Mentally sick people should be taken away from the streets.
    Let’s be honest. Everything has a solution. Even the government corruption. And it should be addressed first.

  2. The author has zero interest in the real world. The more handouts you give to unproductive people without expectations of giving work in return, the more they become entrenched as helpless burdens on society. Serves neither them nor us in the long run.

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