Cityhood Arden Arcade

Matt Gray knows the issue of Cityhood (Measure D) is an emotional one for many people, and a lot of misinformation is floating around about it.  But it is important to look at the facts and make a decision based upon real circumstances instead of “the sky is falling” rhetoric.

Here is the information (with citations to the source), so you can see the facts for yourself and draw your own conclusion.

The key issues in the cityhood discussion are:

  1. Is the City of Sacramento really trying to annex portions of Arden Arcade into it’s own boundaries?
  2. Why do some people believe there is a need to incorporate; why can’t we just leave things the way they are?
  3. Is cityhood feasible from both an economic and quality of service standpoint?
  4. Are taxes going to go up?
  5. Do we have to keep the name Arden Arcade if we do incorporate?
  6. Who stands to benefit if we become a city, and who benefits if cityhood fails?

I.  Is the City of Sacramento Really Trying to Annex Arden Arcade?

On the issue of whether or not the City of Sacramento is trying to annex Arden Arcade, both their 2030 General Plan and their New Growth Quarterly Report (January, 2010) clearly state Arden Arcade is an area of interest and they are looking at annexation.  (Download your own Fact Sheet to show your neighbors.)

From the City of Sacramento’s official New Growth Quarterly Report (January, 2010)
“Arden Arcade includes 15 square miles between the American River and I-80, Ethan Avenue to Mission Avenue. The City is exploring annexation as an alternative to incorporation for the residents. The City’s General Plan identifies Arden-Arcade as a “Study Area”.”

From the Sacramento 2030 General Plan, Part 3, Page 3-SSA-4
“The City of Sacramento is interested in possibly annexing the Arden Arcade Study Area to consolidate public services. Currently (2009), some Arden Arcade Study Area residents and businesses favor staying within the county or incorporating the area as its own city to protect existing special districts such as fire protection, water districts, and parks.  Challenges to annexation will likely include revenue sharing issues with Sacramento County, overcoming infrastructure issues, and public support for annexation.”

Then there are public statements made by City Council Members:
Published by Sacramento Bee (April 23, 2007), Page B1
City exploring annexation of Arden Arcade. Despite incorporation bid, a councilman says merger would be a better option.
“Some residents are fighting to incorporate it. County officials desperately want to keep the revenue generated there. And now, some city of Sacramento elected leaders say the city should consider annexing the unincorporated county turf. Sacramento City Councilman Steve Cohn said he respects cityhood backers’ desire to break from the county but said he has an alternative. There is a an even better option, and that is annexing into the city of Sacramento,” Cohn said.”

Published by Sacramento Bee (May 1, 2000), Page A1
“A report to aggressively expand the city of Sacramento’s boundaries is touching off controversy among Sacramento County and Elk Grove officials, who stand to lose control of key facilities and economic zones. Areas mentioned for possible takeover by Sacramento include sensitive lands around Sacramento International Airport, affluent Arden-Arcade neighborhoods and Laguna West, which the soon-to-be city of Elk Grove already is claiming for eventual annexation.”

One would have to have the imagination powerful enough to still believe in the tooth fairy to believe that the City of Sacramento has no interest in annexing Arden Arcade.  The only requirements for them to do so are 1) show revenue neutrality to the county, which is already done for Arden Arcade’s adopted study through LAFCO; and 2) amend their Master Plan by a simple vote of the city council.  That’s it!

II. Why Incorporate?  Why Not Just Leave Things as They Are?

The trend, set by the Legislature, is for counties to come up with high density housing and transportation plans for their area, and to move away from county-wide services and instead have unincorporated regions become their own self-sufficient cities.

Toward that goal, there are financial incentives built into the funding stream.  At the county level, most of the tax revenues are lumped together into one pot, and then re-distributed based upon a number of factors.

That funding model provides that cities are first in line for receiving the most money.  Each year, that has resulted in the unincorporated Arden Arcade area losing 40% of its tax revenues which are given to the cities.

Incorporation will keep more of our local tax dollars to stay working in our community.

III. Is cityhood feasible from both an economic and quality of service standpoint?

Yes, and a recent study by the independent Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCo) showed beyond a reasonable doubt that changing to a city was both financially viable and there would actually be a savings, even with the “revenue neutrality” payment being made.

Those  figures are from 2009 and part of 2010, and include the current economic downturn.  That means the new City of Arden Arcade would generate more revenue than the City of Citrus Heights which continues to enjoy a budget that is in the black.

So what is “revenue neutrality,” and what does it mean?  The State Legislature created “revenue neutrality” in 1985 and further amended it in 1992 and again in 2000.  The law is designed to protect county operations, particularly countywide services, in the event a portion incorporated into its own city.  The amount of the payment (from the new city to the county as compensation), is negotiated by LAFCo and the county along with cityhood proponents.

Arden Arcade went through that process and successfully negotiated revenue neutrality agreement based upon 90% property tax revenue, while preserving 100% of the local sales tax in addition to the remaining 10% of those property taxes.  That extra 10% property tax buffer demonstrates that property taxes will not be raised to pay for the incorporation.

As an example of how services will improve, at current rates for the number of police (Sac Sheriff) we have patrolling the Arden Arcade area, cityhood will result in twice the number of police patrols; and that was before the pending 25% cut in services that the county is proposing.  If the 25% cut goes through at the county level, then Arden Arcade will have at least three times the number of police on patrol as a result of incorporating.

IV. Are Taxes Going to Go Up?

NO!  Matt knows that people are working hard to make ends meet and government should tighten its belt and help taxpayers keep more of the money they have earned.

Matt has signed an agreement that he will not raise taxes to pay for any part of incorporating into a city.  Matt has further pledged that while he will neither raise taxes nor create new taxes to pay for cityhood, he will take it a step further to see what taxes he can CUT!

In addition to this, the above section about property taxes shows the revenue neutrality for cityhood relies upon only 90% of the existing property taxes and none of the sales tax revenues.  The remaining 10% in property taxes is a cushion for other expenses and will more than pay for the needed city staff (and more police), with some still left over.

So what we have is a “shift” of existing taxes from being spread throughout the county, to now staying in our local communities if cityhood is approved.

V. Do we have to keep the name Arden Arcade if we do incorporate?

NO!  Upon incorporating and electing our own City Council, that council can vote to adopt a resolution to change the name.  Matt supports asking the residents for their suggestions and then voting based upon what residents want their new city to be called.

One popular name being floated around is simply “Arden.”  But as residents, we will have our input.

VI. Who stands to benefit if we become a city, and who benefits if cityhood fails?

With more local tax dollars staying in our community to provide public services, such as more police patrols, the residents of Arden Arcade will clearly benefit.

At the head of the YES side (, are the cities of Citrus Heights and Rancho Cordova, both of whom have incorporated and are enjoying better quality of public services.

These two cities are strongly supporting cityhood for Arden Arcade for two primary reasons:  1) we are located between the two, and so when we incorporate we will have a stronger police force and both Citrus Heights as well as Rancho Cordova will benefit because the crime occurring in our area won’t drift over into theirs; and 2) things such as the regional transit board will have more representation (from Arden Arcade), to give our general area a majority portion of the votes, and we can finally start having our fair share of public transportation dollars going into serving routes in our area instead of mostly all downtown.

These and other similar reasons are why the two cities are pushing so hard for cityhood.

If cityhood fails, then the City of Sacramento will revive its plans to annex portions of Arden Arcade.  Those plans are temporarily on hold because the City realized that fight was being used against them and fueling the cityhood effort.  But as soon as the election is over, if cityhood fails, that annexation effort will again move forward.

The City of Sacramento has clearly shown interest in, and taken the first steps toward, annexing portions of Arden Arcade through its feasibility study.

To complete the process they would merely need to:
1) amend their Master Plan to identify Arden Arcade as part of the sphere of influence; and
2) reach an agreement with the County that would show revenue neutrality (which has already been proven possible through the recent application approved by LAFCO in support of cityhood).

That means the City of Sacramento is really only one step away, and that one step is a simple vote by their own city council to amend their internal Master Plan.  To view the boundaries for the proposed City of Arden Arcade, click here to see if you live within the boundaries and will be voting on it in the November 2nd, General Election.