Posted by Nancy Teichert on Nov 30, 2017
Riverfront street cars, rapid bus lanes, self-driving cars and trucks, and other transportation improvements combined with mixed-use housing and civic amenities to attract industries is the prescription for a successful Sacramento region.
That was the good news delivered by James Corless, Chief Executive Officer for the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG), which provides planning and pass-through funding for six counties including Sacramento, El Dorado, Placer, Yolo, Sutter and Yuba.
President John Lemmon (Knox, Lemmon & Anapolsky, LLP) and Rotarians at Tuesday’s meeting saw a glimpse of futuristic changes as explained by the man who will oversee our needed infrastructure improvements.
“How we grow matters,” said Corless, warning that valuable farmland has been encroached upon and our rent increases are among the highest rent increases in the nation because of our housing shortage.
Before joining SACOG, Corless was the founding director of Transportation for America, a bipartisan alliance of community leaders across the country committed to transportation solutions.
Gridlock on I-80 and highways 50 and 99 is evidence of the changes that   need to be made. The Downtown Riverfront Streetcar project will cut traffic congestion around the river and Golden 1 Center with a 3-mile loop of streetcars connecting West Sacramento and downtown.
It’s too late to think of building trains to connect the six counties. “Buses are the future,” said Corless because they are cheaper and faster and can work like trains to get people from the suburbs to work. Bus Rapid Transit is a simple technology that has worked in other cities.
“We have these corridors and we can make them work,” while protecting residential neighborhoods, he said. Zoning codes need to allow mixed-use office and multi-family living spaces for compact growth.
Corless predicted we will see self-driving trucks before we see automated cars so we’ll need a strategy for truck drivers who will lose jobs. Also, Uber is losing money with today’s labor cost but won’t with self-driving cars in the future. “This is coming. It will profoundly change how we think of transportation,” said Corless.
SACOG is working with 15 cities to develop test products to cut traffic congestion. In Denver, a smart phone app allows drivers now to get free Lyft rides to light rail stations. Next May, SACOG will offer 900 electric bikes to be shared.
Internet shopping is threatening the future of our malls. One third of all malls in the U.S. are at risk of losing their anchor stores in the next year, he said. In Lakewood, Colorado, a one-mile long shopping mall was turned into a lifestyle center with a mixture of retail and housing. Roseville Galleria is discussing how to bring in housing.
The region needs more walkable, bike able pathways, civic amenities and less gridlock to attract industry headquarters and their employees, Corless said.
The meeting opened with a wine reception provided by Jeri Swift of Cooper Vineyards of Amador County. The piano was played by Jack Anderson (Dick James & Associates). Greeters included Roy Alexander (Sacramento Children’s Home), Chris Ann Bachtel (First Northern Bank) and Jaena Nakagawa (Tri Counties Bank).
Norm Marshall (Headwaters Construction Inc.) gave the Thought of the Day from actor Sophia Bush: “I don’t feel I can relax unless I feel informed. When people say they cannot watch the news because it’s too stressful, I just think, ignorance isn’t bliss. It’s just another way to procrastinate.”
Sergeant-At-Arms Callee Setzer (Setzer Forest Products) introduced guests, prospective members and visiting Rotarians. Chair of the Day was Len McCandliss. Chris Ann Bachtel sponsored the meeting with Ivan Wild (The Salvation Army).
Wild updated us on the Salvation Army’s response to the wine country wildfires. More than 90,000 hot meals were served at 24 emergency shelters, 40,000 pounds of clothing were given out and aid is still being provided.
Clayton Lee (C.K.L. Trust) reported on his recent Rotary service trip to Ethiopia with Diane Schachterle of the Carson City Club, Katherine Turner, president of the newly formed Clarksburg Club and Siefu Ibssa of the East African Village Outreach.
Photos showed the team delivering feminine hygiene products and shoes that grow for girls and boys. The water project will tap into a stream two and a half miles up a hill to bring fresh water to the village in March, when the team will return.
Announcements included a request from John Swentowsky (Swentowsky Photography) for volunteers to serve meals at Loaves & Fishes on Thursday; Becki Roberts (Central Valley Community Bank) and Alice Sauro (The Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera) urged members to RSVP for Daughter’s Day on Dec. 19; Steve Ruland (Ruland’s Office Furniture) is leading the holiday toy drive; Dick Osen has tickets to the Kings game on Dec. 10, and Jim Culleton (Strong & Associates) has dictionaries  ready to be handed out to third-graders.
Tagged by President John for being ranked as among the best places to work by the Sacramento Business Journal were Jonathan Marz (Diepenbrock, Elkin, Gleason LLP) and Jim Leet (Boutin Jones Inc.). Marz gave $100 each to his Paul Harris and Eddie Mulligan. Leet gave $100 to his Eddie Mulligan.
Judith Kjelstrom (U.C. Davis Health) finished the Susan Komen walk for breast cancer research in San Diego and gave $200 toward her Eddie Mulligan and $100 for her Paul Harris.
President-Elect Diane Woodruff gleefully embarrassed herself by wearing a Stanford Cardinal Football outfit because she lost a bet with Margo Fowkes (OnTarget Consulting, Inc.) on the Big Game. Woodruff, a diehard Cal Bears fan, donated $100 to Fowkes' Eddie Mulligan.
Thank you John Swentowsky (Swentowsky Photography) for the photos!