Council Approves Purchase of Sylvan Property

Citrus Heights, CA (MPG)  |  Story by Shaunna Boyd

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - At the Citrus Heights City Council meeting on May 23, the Council unanimously approved the purchase of the old Sylvan Middle School property, which is one quadrant of the Sylvan Corners intersection (Auburn Blvd. and Sylvan Rd.). City staff described the area as vital to Citrus Heights’ economic development. If a developer purchased the property, the City wouldn’t have much say in how the land is used. By purchasing the property now, the City will have better control over the land use and design of the site.

The San Juan Unified School District has agreed to sell the 11.44-acre surplus property to the City at the appraised value: $3.43 million ($299,825 per acre). After an initial deposit of $100,000, the City will have 60 days to review the property and conduct inspections. If for any reason the City chooses not to continue with the purchase, the agreement can be terminated during the 60-day “feasibility period” and the City’s deposit will be returned.

The Council recently approved a Revolving Line of Credit, which will be used for the purchase of the property. After the purchase, the City plans to partner with a developer and provide input and direction on plans for the property’s development. After the property is eventually sold to the chosen developer, the sale proceeds will be used to pay down the balance on the line of credit.

The May 23 meeting was also the third of five public hearings about the City’s transition to district-based elections in order to comply with the California Voting Rights Act. National Demographics Corporation (NDC), which is assisting the City in the districting process, presented nine draft maps for review. Members of the public submitted six maps for consideration and NDC prepared three drafts maps. The goal of the hearing was to explain the specifics of each map and receive public input.

NDC aimed to create maps with compact districts that follow neighborhood boundaries and major roads while also respecting the will of the voters — drafting districts so only one current councilmember resides in each. Having districts that would put two or more members in direct competition in upcoming elections does not respect the choices voters made in prior elections.

NDC’s Map 109 successfully respects voter choice, but Maps 101 and 102 would both create one vacant district while putting Vice Mayor Jeff Slowey and Councilmember Bret Daniels in the same district — pitting them against each other in the 2020 election if both run for re-election.

Steve Demers, a GIS analyst with Sacramento County Elections Office and Department of Technology, submitted Maps 107 and 108, and members of the public submitted the remaining maps: Rodney Hart, Map 103; Steve Wiggington, Map 104; Albert Fox, Map 105; and Frances Phipps, Map 106. Of these maps, only 104 would put each councilmember in their own district. In Wiggington’s submitted comments, he stated that Map 104 has “a good mix of business and residential across all districts. It provides a relatively equal mix of schools, parks and open spaces across all districts. It takes into account a predicted population expansion of the Mitchell Farms residential development project by having a lower initial population in that district.”

During the hearing, the Council narrowed down the draft map options, selecting three focus maps (102, 104, and 109) that will receive further analysis. The Council generally favored Map 104 because it considered the expansion at Mitchell Farms and respected voter choice. There was some concern about the districts splitting some neighborhoods, so the Council asked NDC to create an alternate version of 104 that shifts the district lines to keep those neighborhoods together.

The Council is selecting the final district map this week. The public can view the maps online and submit feedback at www.citrusheights.net/992/Transitioning-to-District-Based-Election.