Action Items: Is There a ‘Right’ Way to Revitalize?

Sacramento, like most cities, has distinct neighborhoods, each with their own identities, points of pride and challenges. But how can a neighborhood preserve its unique character, while promoting economic growth for all residents?

On this episode of Action Items, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Sacramento Neighborhood Coalition Co-Facilitator Katie Valenzuela Garcia join host Tre Borden to discuss leveraging neighborhood diversity for the collective benefit. Both guests agree: Neighborhood-based decision-making is key.

Why is preserving diversity important?

It’s the G-word: gentrification. And it’s on the minds of many residents of Sacramento’s quickly-changing neighborhoods, like Oak Park, which has seen millions of investment dollars in recent years into mixed-use development, the opening of popular dining and retail establishments, and rising property values.

Oak Park has become the “it” neighborhood for many young — and white — professionals looking to buy their first home. Meanwhile, the larger community is grappling with how to welcome the positive changes without sacrificing the neighborhood’s social character or displacing long-time, and lower-income, residents. Both Steinberg and Garcia, who serves on the board of the Oak Park Neighborhood Association, have ideas on how to address this ongoing challenge.

How do we do it?

When it comes to a cultural renaissance, “We don’t want to engage in central planning here from City Hall,” Steinberg says, instead noting how we need to foster the ideas that come from residents, like busking as a form of live entertainment on city streets.

Garcia, who has been a big proponent of urban gardening among other causes, agrees that elevating the voice of residents in discussions around city policies and land-use planning is the way forward. She points to a community land trust model that has shown promise in helping to keep neighborhoods affordable and ward off gentrification; one example is Oak Park Sol.

Click for the full conversation.

Got something to say on the topic? Tweet us @ActionItemsPod with the hashtag #NeighborhoodIdentity

Thank you to Jesuit High School for making the first season of Action Items possible with their generous sponsorship. On Facebook and Twitter @JesuitHighSacSubscribe to Action Items on iTunes and Stitcher.