A proposed Sacramento streetcar line — 20 years in the making — just got a $30 million boost from the state of California, reports KCRA 3, that will fund about 20 percent of the $150 million project. The federal government would foot half of the bill for the 3.3-mile line connecting West Sacramento and midtown, with the rest coming from the cities of Sacramento and West Sacramento and from Sacramento County.
Last year, downtown and midtown Sacramento voters rejected a plan to tax property owners about $30 million to cover the city’s portion. Council Member Steve Hansen said this week that “over two-thirds of the property owners voted in favor of it, but the people within three blocks of it, the actual residents, got the vote.” City officials told the Sacramento Bee in April that they will attempt a vote on streetcar funding again this fall, but with some key differences. It will be a smaller ask — about $15 million total — and will likely tax only business, not residential, properties.
While city planner Fedolia Harris said that “the details are still being worked out,” the paper also reported that officials plan to focus on larger property owners. Last year several large downtown landowners — including hotel owners and the Sacramento Kings — indicated in a nonbinding vote that they would be willing to pay a property assessment to help fund the streetcar. The proposed line would stop at Golden 1 Center, where the Kings play, and at some big hotels downtown, in addition to City Hall, the convention center, and other major destinations.
Speaking about the promised $30 million in state funding, Hansen said, “After 20 years of working on this, that’s the final piece of money we need to go build it. … We’ve been working to get streetcars back. We used to have them. So, this is our ‘Back to the Future’ moment, and hopefully, it continues the resurgence of our central city.”
Hansen has been an advocate of the streetcar, defending the plan against critics who have called it “useless.” He told KCRA a streetcar “reduces vehicle trips because it helps people get around without their cars. … But, it will also help encourage new housing close to jobs and close to transit, so we really create a better lifestyle for our people.”
Jen Kinney is a freelance writer and documentary photographer. Her work has also appeared in Philadelphia Magazine, High Country News online, and the Anchorage Press. She is currently a student of radio production at the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies. See her work at jakinney.com.