More than ‘subdivisions and strip malls.’ Here’s Elk Grove mayor’s vision for 2023 and beyond

·4 min read

Elk Grove will use new technology to help solve pressing problems, improve residents’ transportation options in an increasingly crowded city, and launch transformative civic projects, its mayor said in laying out plans for 2023 and beyond in her state of the city address.

“We are different from anywhere in the region,” Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen said in a noontime address Friday before business and civic leaders at the city’s District 56 community center. “We look for new ways to solve our problems. We don’t settle for doing things a certain way because that’s how they’ve always been done….That way of thinking would never do.”

Singh-Allen’s agenda in her third state of the city reprises long-held goals including expanding broadband access to more businesses and residents, and pledged increased use of data to “assess local problems and design new solutions.” She pointed to the city’s Real Time Information Center and the city’s drone fleet, and how mobile apps are helping the city’s public works department suss out and troubleshoot issues reported by residents.

She touted the work to revitalize Elk Grove’s east side Old Town historic district with new housing, a new library, incoming commercial development and street improvements; the construction of a $60 million regional headquarters for tractor manufacturer Kubota; Elk Grove’s ongoing effort to land the Sacramento Zoo; and plans for its city-within-a-city Project Elevate development.

Bobbie Singh-Allen talks at her home in Elk Grove on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020. Elected as mayor of Elk Grove, she became the first directly elected Sikh woman to hold the office in the nation.
Bobbie Singh-Allen talks at her home in Elk Grove on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020. Elected as mayor of Elk Grove, she became the first directly elected Sikh woman to hold the office in the nation.

Together, the zoo and Project Elevate, in the mayor’s words, represent a “chance for us to be more than a community of subdivisions and strip malls.”

“Elk Grove is special and those of us who call it home truly understand that,” Singh-Allen said. “We have come a long way in the last year.”

But traffic and transportation in a city projected to grow to 200,000 people by the end of the decade, and ongoing issues of homelessness and housing affordability also shared the stage.

“When I ask residents about their issues, traffic is always a leading topic of conversation,” Singh-Allen said. “There is no doubt that our growth has generated its fair share of growing pains.”

The Fix I-5 project adding lanes along the interstate from Elk Grove Boulevard to Sacramento’s Pocket Road has noticeably eased traffic — and Elk Grove commuters’ frustration — along one of the region’s most congested routes.

Other solutions are further off: the Capital Southeast Connector project to link Highway 50 to Interstate 5 along Elk Grove’s southern edge; and a proposed interchange at Highway 99 and Whitelock Parkway, also in the southern end of the city, to ease traffic on a busy Elk Grove Boulevard and provide foot and bike access to Elk Grove Regional Park.

Elk Grove leaders in February finalized a trails master plan to connect Elk Grove’s rural community to Franklin Boulevard, Sacramento Regional Transit light rail and a planned passenger rail station on Elk Grove’s west side.

Meantime, a sweeping traffic project set to begin next year will upgrade Elk Grove’s traffic signal network and improve 76 intersections across the city; and Singh-Allen said plans continue to bring passenger rail service to Elk Grove.

The Dwight Road station, part of the San Joaquin Rail Commission’s $1 billion project to extend Amtrak rail service to Sacramento and provide daily service to the San Joaquin Valley and the Bay Area, is set to open in 2026.

But Singh-Allen also acknowledged the pressure to provide more affordable housing in the city.

State housing officials and California’s attorney general have both come down hard on Elk Grove city leaders after leaders denied a proposed affordable housing development in the city’s Old Town, but the Elk Grove mayor pointed to several projects slated to add more than 2,000 affordable housing units to the city’s inventory.

“To be clear, we agree that every city must do its fair share to address the state housing crisis and Elk Grove is doing its part,” Singh-Allen said, adding the developments “provide the chance at a better life.”

She also touted Elk Grove’s efforts to help the city’s unhoused. As many as 150 people in Elk Grove live outdoors at any given time, say city officials.

“A problem this big takes time and tenacity to address, but what we are doing is working,” Singh-Allen said.

City homeless services moved at least 46 people into permanent housing last year, many to affordable housing complexes, Singh-Allen said, and the Elk Grove City Council authorized a workforce development program, using federal funds to offer training in information technology, cybersecurity and manufacturing.

“This is a success to be shared and celebrated, but we won’t rest on our laurels,” Singh-Allen said, adding that the city will work with homeless outreach, food pantries and Sacramento County to “find ways to house and help those who need it most.”