Preserve the Railyards “Depot” site for an Intermodal District and Build Affordable Rental Units in the Railyards

Commentary By Chuck Robuck, RailPAC Director, Sacramento, and former President, CC Riders
In the past, the City of Sacramento has proposed building BOTH an Arena and an Intermodal Transit Facility on the City-owned 13-acre parcel near the Historic Train Depot (AKA the “Depot” site).
There is clearly not enough space on this site to accommodate both projects.

Downtown Sacramento seen from the Train Station

Downtown Sacramento seen from the Train Station

I propose that the “Depot” property be preserved exclusively for the Intermodal Transit Facility and related functions, such as adequate space for buses, taxes, rental cars, passenger drop-off and pick-up and short-term parking.

Here are some points to consider:• Sacramento’s Current Train Station with 1.2 million passengers is currently the 2nd busiest in California (L.A. is 1st), and 7th busiest in the Nation.
• The planned Intermodal Facility is expected to have over 15 million users by 2025 (SACOG est.)
• Building an Arena on this site would severely limit the space for an Intermodal to approx. 3.5 acres – compare this to the New Intermodal Station under Construction in Anaheim (A.R.T.I.C), which is dedicating nearly 16 acres to transit functions (and the Anaheim Station has about 1/3 of the no. of passengers as Sacramento)
• Additional Close-in Parking needs to be part of the planned Intermodal for use by transit riders as well as for those who will patronize new businesses inside the remodeled Historic Train Depot (such as restaurants, express freight pick-up, etc). Anaheim’s new Intermodal Station includes 1,082 Close-in Parking Spaces for Users.
• An Arena on the “Depot” site would create a huge visual and physical barrier (est. 135 ft. High) between Downtown and the Historic Shops and the rest of the Railyards Development. This was a major concern presented by the Urban Land Institute in their recommendations to the City.

While I think a new Arena in the Railyards could be an added attraction that could help stimulate business, I feel it should be located on OTHER parcels in the Railyards (such as the original plan to locate it NORTH of the newly relocated Tracks).

One of the keys to jump-starting the Railyards Development as well as revitalizing Downtown and Old Sacramento, is to build AFFORDABLE RENTAL housing.

Rental Housing should be targeted to be affordable to ENTRY and MID-LEVEL employees of both government and private sector companies located in the downtown area. This demographic group has been historically important in supporting retail, food service and the nightlife scene, which are vital to creating a vibrant downtown.

As a hub of Government, Sacramento has an unique, and ready-made
base of employees who could be attracted to live close to work, near two major rivers, parks and bike paths, and other downtown attractions, as well as the future Intermodal Transportation Facility which offers the ability to travel almost anywhere without owning a car.

To attract this group, Rents must be affordable. Restricting development to high priced condos and apartments will greatly reduce the chances of successful development of the entire downtown area.

Developers should be offered tax incentives for building such affordable housing.

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