FACT SHEET on Sacramento’s Greenbriar Development Proposal
Sierra Club – Environmental Council of Sacramento – Friends of the Swainson’s Hawk
[LINK TO ACTION ALERT] [Link to More Information About Greenbriar]

LINK to Capitol Public Radio Insight Program on North Natomas levees and Greenbriar http://www.capradio.org/insight

o The City Council of Sacramento unanimously approved almost 600 acres of urban development on prime agricultural land in a deep floodplain on January 29, 2008. Citizens objected to this approval prior to the full repair and certification of Natomas levees. This annexation goes to LAFCo first Wed in April for approval.

o City Planning Commission on November 8 voted 5-3 to recommend that the City Council deny this project. They had concerns about the location, the timing and specific design features of the project. (Sacramento Bee 11/10/07)

o LAFCo – the county level body that approves city expansions – had a hearing September 19 and approved actions to advance this project on a four (Fong, Miklos,Peters, Yee) to three vote (Rose, Fox, Tooker). In an identical vote, they turned down a resolution by Tooker to require 1:1 farmland preservation mitigation for paving over 500 plus acres of prime farmland. At this hearing, the developer (AKT), made a pledge not to "do any vertical development of residential uses" until the levees were certified. The next LAFCo action (after City Council acts) will consider annexation. Friends of the Swainson's Hawk, ECOS and others have filed a lawsuit against LAFCo for approving the SOI and certifying the Final EIR.

Both LAFCo and the City have used unprecedent procedures to accelerate this project and exempt it from the normal sphere of influence and general plan processes.

o Reasons why this project should not be approved:
1) Adequate flood control does not exist; [Link to information about deficiencies in Natomas levees and lack of 100 year flood protection.] The State has released a study recommending minimum 200 year flood protection. (DWR California Challenge)
2) Municipal services cannot reliably be provided; the Municipal Services Review findings are speculative, and lack substantial evidence; the Finance Plan and fiscal analysis lack credibility. Natomas residents have been vocal in the process asking that services and infrastructure promised to them in the North Natomas Community Plan and Finance Plan be delivered before more development is approved in North Natomas. The Grand Jury found in July 2007 that the North Natomas Community Plan area has a number of deficiencies. (Sacramento Bee article about Natomas, Nov, 2007) Attorney James P. Pachl has submitted a letter showing substantial holes in the finance plan.
3) Over 500 acres of prime agricultural land will be paved over with virtually no mitigation. While other jurisdictions are requiring one acre of farmland be permanently preserved for every acre of farmland paved over, the City of Sacramento has no farmland protection requirement. (Sacramento County Farm Bureau letter)

4) the project area supports wildlife species such as the imperilled Swainson's Hawk and Giant Garter Snake. Wildlife protection agencies and Swainson's Hawk biologists have formally commented that the mitigation plan for Greenbriar is grossly inadequate. Plans to protect the wildlife and habitat preserves in the area (Natomas Basin Conservancy Operating Program) are also inadequate. For this reason approval of the project puts the City in violation of its own wildlife protection plan for Natomas (a plan adopted to allow development of 8000 acres now in the City). See Friends of the Swainson's Hawk letter.

[Links to more information about impacts on the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan.

Most recent Fish and Game letter]

5) The project is not consistent with current city and county general plans and should await the upcoming revision to these plans as required by state law. the City's General Plan has not been updated since 1988, although state law requires an update every five years.
6) California Office of Health Hazard Assessment has found the EIR inadequate in assessment of the toxic air contaminant impacts of development at the intersection of two freeways which has 70 percent of its land in the airport overflight zone. Coalition for Clean Air, Planning and Conservation League and the American Lung Association of California have filed a letter of concern and opposition based on the public health concerns.

7) The project is promoted on the false premise that it will help get light rail to the airport (DNA). Read December 2007 update on DNA financing which makes clear that the light rail to the airport is 2 decades away and hingeing new development on it is premature at best. Over a year ago, the Bee reported that RT lacked the operating revenue to extend light rail. The Sacramento Bee Editorial Board has also expressed grave concerns about the wisdom of pushing for light rail to the airport now, given costs, lack of revenue to operate, and other priorities. The majority of this planned light rail line serves the built area and must be built and funded before the line can ever serve the area between 99 and the airport along I-5.

6) The Environmental Impact Report - EIR - should not be certified until:
1) mitigation measures are included that
a) require levees to be recertified before construction begins;

b) require one acre of agricultural land be preserved above and beyond any requirements by state and federal wildlife regulatory agencies to protect habitat;

c) reduce air quality impacts to less than significant.

2) it includes details about conditions state and federal governments would impose on the project.

3) it requires build-out of the North Natomas Community Plan infrastructure and municipal servies, and the development of Metro Airpark project, before the project can proceed.

o The primary beneficiary and proponent for the project is AKT Development/Angelo Tsakopoulos who is a politically influential developer and political patron. He, his family, employees and contractors have given thousands of dollars of campaign contributions to the region's decisionmakers over the last decade. [Link to more information on campaign contributions to decisionmakers.]

o Community organizations, including the League of Women Voters, Natomas Community Association, Sacramento County Taxpayers League, and Environmental Council of Sacramento, the Sacramento Bee, and the Sacramento Grand Jury have asked the City to delay moving forward with more development approvals in the Natomas Basin until the levees are fully repaired.

o The City of Sacramento is seeking FEMA approval for a flood designation status that will allow development to occur before levees are fully repaired. [Link to more information on the FEMA status.] FEMA has refused to allow the City that designation.

o The City is acting in violation of its habitat conservation plan for Natomas by moving forward without wildlife agency approvals. [Links to more information about impacts on the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan.

Most recent Fish and Game letter

Friends of the Swainson's Hawk, 1/08/08

o The Sacramento Grand Jury report for July 2007 pointed out numerous problems in North Natomas Community including lack of police service, missing parks and sidewalks, and water quality questions that should be resolved by City before it authorizes new development in North Natomas. [Link to Grand Jury Report.]