Over The Fence

What’s next for the former Vic’s IGA?

Collected Works on Freeport Boulevard is closing. / Photos by Greg Brown
Collected Works on Freeport Boulevard is closing. / Photos by Greg Brown

What’s the latest scoop on the former Vic’s IGA Supermarket in South Land Park?
The store was shut down in March and rumors are running rampant all over social media about what will take its place. If you believe everything you read on social media a Trader Joe’s is moving in.
There’s an online petition being circulated.
A lot of residents in the neighborhood seems to want a Trader Joe’s. They are frothing at the mouth for one to open up in their neighborhood.
Slim chance that’s going to happen. Besides, the shopping center parking lot is too vast. Trader Joe’s specializes in annoying little parking lots that make shoppers irate.
Another person on a Land Park Facebook group talked about a VIVA Supermarket taking over the site. They provided a link where people could send messages to corporate headquarters begging them to locate in the South Land Park Hills Shopping Center. Viva has a local grocery store on Northgate Boulevard.
Another rumor on social media was a Dollar Tree was moving in. A guy said he heard it from somebody at the Jazzercise studio.
So you know it’s legit.
That false rumor got a lot of people worked up and angry. Folks just don’t like Dollar Tree. Let’s hope DD’s Discounts doesn’t try to weasel their way in. There’s new fencing around Vic’s Supermarket. That does not mean anything is imminent. It just means there is a fence around the building to keep it from being vandalized.
I spoke with John Chang, whose family owns the shopping center property on the right side of the South Hills Center, and he told me,
“We’re just proceeding with what is legally required to allow us to do what is next.”
Vic’s IGA filed for bankruptcy. There is a long, arduous process involved. Nothing is imminent.
I also spoke with Theodore Chang who is part of the property management company and he said, “The property has not been rented out. We have not made that decision yet, although we do have people who are interested.”
Theodore added, “We have several brokers we are working with and we’re trying to find the perfect fit for us as well as for our neighborhood”
When I asked him what are you looking to put in there? He told me, “We are keeping all of our options open. It could be anything from an athletic club to a grocery store.”
Theodore added, “We don’t have anything set in stone.”
I also asked about the aesthetic of the building and if they had plans for any demolishing of the mid-century modern designed building. “We’re not looking at anything like that. We’re just looking at getting a tenant in there. We aren’t going to make any major changes to the building itself.”
Good news for all you Sookie Lee fans.
So, when you see hunches and predictions on social media, don’t take them too seriously. The owners are working towards getting a suitable tenant in the former Vic’s IGA building. Let’s all hope it’s something that lifts up the South Land Park Hills Shopping Center.

Good Eats, the popular little barbecue joint that was housed inside Vic’s IGA, was planning to move into the former Brick Oven Pizza building. It sounded like a perfect match. Bring on the red checkered tablecloths!
I asked Good Eats owner Eric McFadden about the move over the phone recently and he told me, “It’s not gonna happen right now. I got a lot of my business when Vic’s was open and that store isn’t open anymore. Right now I’m playing it by ear.”
He added, “Because it ain’t cheap to run a business.”
Right now Eric and his Good Eats are over at Goeman’s Lounge on Franklin Boulevard. So if you miss the comfort food at Good Eats head on over to Goeman’s for some comfort.
“This is gonna work for now. I’m not going anywhere right now.”
McFadden plans on unleashing the “Big Mama Grill” next month over at Goeman’s. His hours are Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
New Little Library Pops Up In Hollywood Park
Little Libraries are popping up all over Sacramento. The cool thing is they’re open 24 hours a day and you won’t get charged a late fee for an overdue book.
The latest little library is on Helen Way in Hollywood Park. It was installed by Margaret Buggy, who’s an English teacher at Christian Brothers High School. She had heard of the Little Library movement through a cousin in Central Pennsylvania. Margaret was also inspired by the little library on Sherwood Way.

Community engagement through books…what a novel idea.
A charming, quirky, little library made of wood. It’s a small house of books with a little glass door that sits atop a wooden stump.
It looks like a birdhouse with books inside of it.
Maybe in a Utopian Neighborhood World folks could gather and discuss literature in person.
The concept for the Little Library is simple: You take a book, you leave a book. The part that makes it more fascinating is you get to see the reading habits of your neighbors.
There was a wide array of good books to choose from including “The Memorium” by Vaclav Havel, “Tell No One” by Harlan Coben, even some children’s books like “There’s a Tarantula In My Homework.” There were also a few book by Mary Higgins Clark.
Another one of the books in the Little Library was “The Absolutely True Diary Of A Part-Time Indian.” The book by Sherman Alexie made the list of most challenged books of 2014 by the American Library Association.
There are quite a few subversives in Hollywood Park. Let’s hope they add some more banned books to the Little Library on Helen.
The key to making the Little Library a success is to leave a book you recommend or find interesting, maybe even a childhood favorite.
And where did Margaret get all the books for the library? Margaret said, “over the past five months, I’ve been collecting books from family, friends, co-workers – anyplace I could get my hands on them!  I am an avid reader and so are my boys, Eli (11) and John (9).  We’re always going through books in the house.  Years ago, I gave up saving all of them, so my boys and I liked the idea of being able to pass books on through the little library.”
If you want to build your own Little Library for your neighborhood get more info at http://littlefreelibrary.org/
Farewell To Collected Works
Collected Works on Freeport Boulevard is retiring. The store has been a fixture in Land Park for 27 years. They must have been doing something right.
Collected Works has always been THEE shop to buy special gifts and collectables for mom, grandma, or the wife. I dropped in to see how the retirement sale was going and it was a madhouse. Items were flying off the shelves with rapid speed right before Mother’s Day. Everything was 25 percent off.
Store owner Bobbi Gould thought she was going to be open through the middle of June, but since folks have been rabidly bargain shopping the store’s almost empty.
Good luck in retirement and thanks for being there when I needed a last minute gift for mom.
Send items of interest to Greg@valcomnews.com

Over The Fence with Greg Brown

Rail To Trail in South Land Park

Brian Ebbert, Sharon Louie, and her daughter hanging out on the Del Rio Trail to discuss the Rail to Trail
Brian Ebbert, Sharon Louie, and her daughter hanging out on the Del Rio Trail to discuss the Rail to Trail

The Del Rio Trail in South Land Park sounds like something John Wayne would have rode a Stagecoach through in one of those old movie Westerns. “Alright, pilgrim. I’ll meet you on the Del Rio trail.”
The natural trail has primarily been used by locals as a 4-mile public walking trail. One spot along the trail is nicknamed the “Secret Glorious Place” by a local Waldorf pre-school teacher.
The sights and sounds of birds and bees are everywhere. California poppies and wildflowers blooming throughout the trail. There’s also a strong scent of springtime in Sacramento along the trail.
There’s a “No Trespassing” sign that everybody ignores and some janky gates that don’t keep anybody out. The trail is lined with backyard fences along the way.
The Del Rio Trail is owned by Regional Transit. They bought it back in the 80s as surplus property thinking one day they’d run the Blue Line through there. These days they have no use for it.
It’s now up for sale. I saw the new For Sale sign staked on the corner of San Mateo and Riverside.
The State Parks and Recreation Commission was proposing an excursion train full of tourists chugging through the four mile stretch of the Del Rio Trail on its way to Pocket Road from Old Sacramento. There would be a stop in between at the Sacramento Zoo. Once the neighborhood learned about it they mobilized and expressed vocal opposition to the train traffic traveling through their quiet neighborhood.
It worked.
State Parks backed down and agreed to remove the four-mile neighborhood section from its general plan and a revised plan was adopted last May. The State Parks and Recreation Commission approved the train stations at the Sacramento Zoo and at Pocket Road.
This raises a question as to how will the trains travel from Old Sacramento to Pocket Road without using the South Land Park tracks?
Could there be a round two battle brewing over the tourist trains?
Hopefully, not. Although, there are still concerns from local residents.
A group of neighbors have joined together with the leadership of the South Land Park Neighborhood Association and the City Of Sacramento. They call themselves the South Land Park Trail and Greenbelt Committee. The committee includes residents from South Land Park Hills, South Land Park Terrace, and local high school students. They are creating a neighborhood action plan for the four miles of abandoned tracks that run from Sutterville Road, behind Sprouts, and extends to Pocket Road near Freeport Boulevard. It would be a multi-use trail. Pedestrians, bicyclists and dog walkers would co-exist in harmony along the urban trail.
In the wider sections of the trail they’d like to create community gardens where a school group or neighborhood could plant organic gardens. Some parts of the Del Rio Trail can get gritty. Wider sections towards the South are brownfields with some trash from Freeport and illegal camping. The goal is to improve and protect the neighborhood.
Give the trail some TLC.
I met with Brian Ebbert and Sharon Louie on the Del Rio Trail one sunny afternoon to learn more about the rail to trail idea. Brian and Sharon are both members of the South Land Park Trail and Greenbelt Committee, also known as the “rail to trail” team.
“The rail to trail proposal is more than just a local amenity, it’s also to prevent the trains from coming through our neighborhood,” Brian told me. They want to be pre-emptive and pro-active.
“There’s a pot of money out there for bike trails,” Brian said.
The project is being considered for future grant funds that have a goal of improving bicycle and pedestrian mobility. The next step for the Rail to Trail team is to reach out to the community and engage with residents.
If you want to be a part of the rail to trail team or have comments or suggestions, contact Committee Chairperson Sharon Louie at SharonL6251@gmail.com

Movie Making At Awesome Video

Awesome Video, the iconic Land Park video store on the corner that has outlasted them all, recently became a movie set for some aspiring student filmmakers from San Francisco State University.
For several days a cast and crew took over Awesome Video and shot a short film entitled “I Hate The Color Red.” It’s a story about a brother and sister who inherit their parents’ video store. They try to keep the video store alive, and in part, their parents alive, too.
The title idea, “I Hate The Color Red”, comes from the fact that the video store is in the red. Another reason for the title is Redbox, as well as the red envelopes Netflix uses to deliver their movies.
The film’s producer Laura Chenault quipped, “Redbox is the bane of the video store owner’s existence.”
The director of the short film, Jazmin Jamias, told me it was hard to find a video store big enough to film in.
When she first stepped foot in Awesome Video she was impressed with the size, the look, and all the cool posters on the wall. She thought the store had a nostalgic sense to it.
Jazmin was also excited about finding an old school video store jewel like Awesome Video. “When I saw the ‘Criterion Collection’ I knew this was my video store.”
The owner of Awesome Video, Maithu Bui, agreed to the filming because she has a passion for movies. “This is just like a love affair, that’s why I am here. The store is for the neighborhood and this is a neighborhood picture. I hope neighbors see us that way.”
Where did the idea of the short film come from? Jazmin was thinking about the things she liked to do when she was younger. “When I was in high school I was going to the video store almost every day,” he said.
Jazmin mentioned she had a Blockbuster Video and a Hollywood Video in her hometown of Vallejo. Going to the video store, sifting through the movie titles and talking to other movie lovers is “Something I miss doing,” Jazmine said.
When Netflix came out and Redbox followed, the local video stores started disappearing. Hollywood Video, Blockbuster…gone. Now it’s all about streaming movies on demand from the convenience of your couch.
Awesome Video has outlasted them all!
“The movie is really about human connection, Jazmin said. That was one of the biggest things I wanted to convey”. She added, “Sometimes technology takes that away.”
Producer Laura Chenault, told me “I devour movies and film and I love Awesome Video, I wish we had one in my neighborhood, I really do.”
Once the film is completed I’ll let readers know when and where they can see it. I even make a cameo in the film with my five year old son, Freddy. Perhaps a special exclusive red carpet showing at Awesome Video. Wouldn’t that be, awesome?
Got an item for Over The Fence?


Over the Fence


Freddy happily enjoys his Batman popsicle from the Ice Cream Man. / Photo by Greg Brown

Freddy happily enjoys his Batman popsicle from the Ice Cream Man. / Photo by Greg Brown

The Ice Cream Man brings back memories of childhood, like running after the ice cream truck and waving a quarter I shook from my piggy bank on a hot summer day.

The Ice Cream Man was trucking through our neighborhood the other day. I could hear the familiar ice cream truck jingle.

I yelled to my 5-year-old-son, “Ice Cream Man!”

My wife and I looked at each other and thought, “Why not? It’s good times.”

So we all went out front and waited for the ice cream man to stop at our house. My 5-year-old-son got a Batman ice cream on a stick. He was very excited about picking out an ice cream treat from a passing vehicle. Now every time he hears the Ice Cream Man he thinks it’s carte blanche to “get more ice cream.” We now have weekly limits on fudgsicle bar consumption.

Whenever I think “Ice Cream Man” I think Van Halen. “Oh my my, I’m your ice cream man,stop me when I’m passin’ by. They say all my flavors are guaranteed to satisfy.”

Ah yes, more childhood memories.

Unfortunately, Over The Fence has learned that a Hollywood Park resident has officially complained to the city of Sacramento about the ice cream truck weaving through the neighborhood and selling frozen treats.

A woman is actually trying to campaign against the ice cream truck, and believes that it turns the neighborhood into “ghetto city.” Her biggest complaint is that the ice cream truck music is “too loud.”

I assume she’s never been to a Van Halen concert.

Now granted, ice cream trucks aren’t what they used to be. But what is these days? Most of the ice cream trucks driving through the neighborhood are beat up old vans. But, c’mon. Trying to shut down a childhood tradition seems NIMBY 3.0.

It’s a war against Eskimo Pies!

Perhaps a gated community would be a better location for folks who hate ice cream trucks and the loud tinny music they bring. Over The Fence will keep you posted on the ice cream truck controversy.

Steve Stewart serves up another taco plate on Taco Tuesday. / Photo by Greg Brown

Steve Stewart serves up another taco plate on Taco Tuesday. / Photo by Greg Brown


It’s Taco Tuesdays at Leonardo da Vinci School during the Land Park Pacific Little League games. Every Tuesday afternoon, League Umpire and Chief Steve Stewart, and his partner and cook, Steve Ysias, offer street-style chicken or beef tacos with beans, rice and chips, too.

Steve Ysias told me he’s the cook and Steve Stewart is the mouth. “Works out perfect,” he said.

It’s only five bucks a plate. That’s a cheap meal. Part of the proceeds go to LPPLL.

I had a one of the chicken tacos…delicious! Steve told me he marinades the meat for days. The smell of Mexican street tacos wafted through the crowd of parents watching their kiddos play ball at the LDV baseball field. It seemed to entice them into ordering the taco plate because Steve got cleaned out. No more beans and rice. He had a post game taco rush.

Kenny Romeo was scraping the plate with his fork when I asked him, “How’s the food?” He said, “I think the empty plate speaks for itself.”

Steve and his crew will be back every Tuesday at LdV in Hollywood Park for more Taco Tuesdays. Drop on by and dinner’s done.


Now it’s time for some rumor patrol about the Curtis Park Village project. I was told by a Curtis Park activist that developer Paul Petrovich was interested in buying the two properties across from the development on Sutterville Road. One building houses the Sacramento Art Glass and the other is American River Finishing.

Some residents were theorizing that Petrovich wants to use it as a spot for a gas station across the street from the CPV if his gas station permit is denied.

On Nextdoor, Neelie Joyce, who owns Sacramento Art Glass said, “Petrovich is trying to buy the property my business is on at 2500 Sutterville Road. He’s attempting to bypass the CPV problem and tear down our business to place the gas station there, across the street from the current development. I know there have been talks; the property is not necessarily available for sale (at this moment – ask again next week) – but we’re pretty scared!! If the property owners decide to sell, there’s not much anyone can do!!”

I tried to contact the owner of the two buildings, Paulette Erfert, but she never returned my phone calls.

I reached out to Petrovich via e-mail about this rumor and he wrote, “I looked at Paulette’s property a while ago and it didn’t make sense due to the enormous amount of infrastructure to develop it.”

So there you have it. Rumor squashed.

Got an item for Over The Fence? Greg@valcomnews.com

OVER THE FENCE Irish Eyes Were Smilin’ At Brownie’s Lounge

PHOTO BY Greg Brown
PHOTO BY Greg Brown

They really know how to throw a St. Patrick’s Day party at Brownie’s Lounge. Bagpipers playing traditional Irish tunes, patrons decked out in green were tipping back pints, and over 800 pounds of corned beef were cooked and ready to be served to the hungry St. Patrick’s Day revelers.
Clair Brownie, the colorful longtime owner of Brownie’s Lounge, was all decked out in a St. Patrick’s Day outfit…kilt and all. I asked Brownie, “Are you Irish?” He said, “well, hell yeah I am.”
Tim Taormina came to Brownie’s with his wife because Marie Calendars on Freeport sold out of corned beef. “That’s why we’re here,” he said. He just had to have corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day! There was some question whether or not Tim would actually get to fulfill his mission of corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day. At first Brownie’s told him they were sold out. Tim said, “I’m Italian/Sicilian, I forcefully demanded I get the last two dinners.” It worked because they relented and Mr. Taormina got his corned beef and cabbage dinner.
Tony Soprano would have been proud.
The City Of Sacramento pipe band, led by music director Liz Tubbs, was playing Garyowen while weaving through the packed house with the other bagpipers at Brownie’s Lounge.
Garyowen is known to have been used by Irish regiments as a drinking song, which is really what most folks were doing:
“Instead of spa we drink brown ale
And pay the reckoning on the nail
For debt no man should go to jail
From Garyowen to glory”
Liz and her husband Bill were wearing “his and her” kilts while Brownie’s grand-daughter, Jessica Bach, was following behind with the big tip jar full of cash.
Jessica told me, “I grew up here at Brownie’s Lounge. I actually see more of my family on St. Patrick’s Day than I do at Christmas.”
Just then the bagpipers started another traditional Irish tune, “Wearin’ Of The Green,” and Jessica was on her way to get more tips from the crowd inside the bar.
The bagpipes weren’t the only music at Brownie’s Lounge on St. Patrick’s Day.
As soon as the bagpipers left, Doug Meredith and his one man band started up on the tiny Brownie’s Lounge stage. Doug strummed the guitar and played a wide variety of music from country, R&B, rock, and of course some good ole’ traditional Irish tunes. The bar was definitely heating up with a packed house and the corned beef cooking. Doug Meredith was feeling the heat as he sang “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” with a trickle of sweat pouring down from his brow. The backdrop was a giant cardboard cut-out of Clair Brownie in a kilt surrounded by flashing green lights. The evening had a surreal feel to it.
The crowd loved it: Corned beef, cabbage, kilts and a little bit of kitsch at Brownie’s Lounge.

Shopping Cart Retrieval Service

Sometimes I drive down the road and notice an abandoned shopping cart. What happens to it once somebody removes it from the store?
Who you gonna call? David Fisher’s Cart Retrieval Service, of course.
I actually stumbled upon David while he was returning abandoned shopping carts to Vic’s IGA from parts unknown.
It all started back in the 90s when David worked for a grocery store in north Sacramento. He picked up the carts for the store. One day he was running some errands out in North Highlands and he saw a recycling center that had numerous abandoned shopping carts. He stopped by to see if any of them belonged to the store he worked at.
There were quite a few that belonged to the 98 Cent Store. Then a light went off in his head.
David decided to talk to Gary Cino, the owner of the 98 Cent Clearance Centers, and asked if he was interested in having him pick them up and return them to the stores.
Cino agreed and offered a dollar a cart.
April 1 of 1998 David got his business license and made it legal. He’s been returning shopping carts to their original owners ever since.
David, who is a South Land Park resident, usually gets between 50 to 100 carts a day. He also covers the Woodland and Davis area, too.
“I just put ‘em in there and strap ‘em down,” he said.
He’s also helping out the community. He gets calls and texts about shopping carts abandoned on the side of the road, down an embankment, or abandoned in an apartment complex. Several neighborhood associations have put his contact information in their newsletters.

I asked David if he feels bad about taking a shopping cart from a homeless person. He said, “I used to, but you have to remember they’re in possession of stolen property.”
And the shopping carts aren’t cheap. According to David, the smaller ones that Rite-Aid or Walgreens have are about $80 each. The carts Winco, Food Co and Raley’s use can run as high as $200-$250 a piece.
That’s why stores want to hire somebody like David to go pick them up. Dollars and cents. “If a store loses 20 carts a month, that could be $5,000 a month they’ve lost in revenue,” David said.
At the Wal-Mart in Woodland, David told me he “picks up at least 40 carts a week. These carts run about $150, so if I didn’t bring these back and Wal-Mart had to replace them they’re looking at $6,000 a week to replace shopping carts.”
David told me Wal-Mart has the most shopping cart theft of any other store in Sacramento.
So if you see a lonely shopping cart on the side of the road give David Fisher a call or text. He’ll be glad to pick it up and return it to its rightful store owner. Call 916-812-3885 for David’s cart retrieval service.
The spots the abandoned shopping carts end up are recycling centers, apartment complexes, and certain neighborhoods. “You learn the hot spots”.
He also gets calls from the City of Sacramento, Sac PD, ‘They all have my phone number.
He’s the go-to-guy for abandoned shopping carts.
I find carts for Raley’s Bel-air, Winco, all those stores.
He rarely gets into confrontations with the people who are stealing the shopping carts. Although, one time a guy was throwing stuff at David because he didn’t want to give up the cart. The guy tried to sick his dog on him. “I played it smart, I had some of my lunch left so I took part of my hamburger and gave it to his dog. The dog and I became friends.”

Over the Fence:

Vic’s goes belly up

Shown here is the front of the Vic's market. Still hanging on the front of the store was an “Under New Management” sign. The sign has been up for over a year and just this week the store filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Neighbors are asking, what next? Some have started petitions to bring Trader Joe's to fill the spot.  / Photo by Monica Stark, editor@valcomnews.com

Shown here is the front of the Vic's market. Still hanging on the front of the store was an “Under New Management” sign. The sign has been up for over a year and just this week the store filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Neighbors are asking, what next? Some have started petitions to bring Trader Joe's to fill the spot. / Photo by Monica Stark, editor@valcomnews.com


Vic’s IGA, the supermarket with the zig zag roofline that anchors the South Hills Shopping Center, has filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy and closed its doors.

Vic’s Market, which was originally a Jumbo Market designed by architect Sooky Lee back in 1968, has seen better days.

When I went by the tattered old market, the parking lot was empty, the trash cans were overfilled with garbage, and the two trees in the big blue pots were dead.

The big red and worn Vic’s sign had some damage that was being held together with duct tape. The “Under New Management” banner was still up, too. It was a sad scene.

Potential shoppers were trickling by asking, “Is Vic’s closed?”

Folks stopping by told me things like, “I knew something was up when the shelves were nearly empty.”

Another patron said, “the store used to be fully stocked. You go in there now, and you don’t know what you’re gonna get.”

Meat shouldn’t be green and lettuce shouldn’t be brown.

Sometimes that is what customers would get. A lot of the items were past the “best if sold by” date.

Vic’s ICK.

Vendors were stopping by the shuttered market, too. Donald Miller, who boasted he had 51 years in the grocery business, said, “I saw it coming. Bottom line. They didn’t know how to run a grocery store.”

Miller, who works for Acosta Sales and Marketing added, “If the right person comes along, they could make a go of this store.”

Shoppers were trickling into the vast parking lot and peeking in the door that had the “Hometown Pride” sticker on it when they found out about the store closure.

One patron asked, “Is it closed for good?”

Another person added, “I’m not surprised.”

Vic’s customers thought something was up and would ask the owner, who’s first name is Kumar, “What’s going on?” Kumar would tell people they were “remodeling and waiting for new equipment to come in.”

Bob Montenegro was peeking in the store window when he said, “I’ve been coming here for years, all the old employees are gone.” He added, “the last couple of months I stopped coming here because they had no bread or milk”.

The closing of the Vic’s also effects the two businesses that were sub leasing space from the owner; Beijing Wok and Good Eats Southern BBQ. An employee at the Beijing Wok was busy packing up bags of rice, peas and carrots and didn’t want to talk about the store closing. They were in a hurry moving their products out before the creditors came.

Eric McFadden, the owner of Good Eats Southern Bar-B-B-Q said, “On Monday, the doors were locked and foamed; I couldn’t get into my own business.”

Eric said, “I knew something was going on.” The owner had told him and everybody else they were planning a remodel of the store and that was the reason for the half-empty shelves.

While I spoke to Eric, his business partner Dawn Sirstad was running out to rent a U-Haul truck. They were in a hurry to move out all their restaurant equipment before the doors were locked and foamed again.

McFadden was annoyed at the situation but was already making calls to move Good Eats BBQ to a nearby location.

Good Eats BBQ, which gets rave reviews on Yelp for their old fashioned comfort food, may move into the empty Brick Oven Pizza building located on the right side of the shopping center.

His goal is to open very soon and have “The Big Mama Grill,” BBQ-ing ribs outside the joint. He is currently in negotiations with the property management company which also manages Vic’s and the entire right side of the shopping center.

Good Eats would give some life to that side of the shopping center which recently lost Erawan Thai Restaurant. Erawan moved over to Freeport Boulevard.

Vic’s Market closing leaves a big hole in the historic South Hills shopping center. Hopefully, a higher quality market can move in while keeping the original architecture of the building intact.

Camellia Waldorf plans move to CP Huntington campus

Camellia Waldorf School, a private Waldorf elementary on Freeport Boulevard, is currently looking to move on over to the closed down CP Huntington public school campus in the Brentwood neighborhood.

Camellia Waldorf has been at the current site on Freeport Boulevard for 25 years. They started out by renting one room from the storefront and that was their kindergarten. They have grown over the years to include a toddler program through eighth grade.

According to school administrator Ardyth Sokolor, “It was never intended to be a long term site, but it has worked nicely. At this point, it’s just not large enough.”

They are very interested in moving to the former CP Huntington campus and are working with the Sacramento City Unified School District to get it finalized. “(It’s) just a matter of process,” Sokolor said.

They are very interested in increasing their enrollment, but the space they are currently in is just not big enough.

The classrooms are small and they need more space for things like a woodworking studio, art space, and a strings room for an instrumental music program.

“We do more space sharing than we really would like,” Sokolar said.

“Our teachers want larger classrooms because one of the things that is unique about a Waldorf education is the children aren’t just sitting at their desks doing worksheets. They integrate a lot of movement and games and outdoor space and it would be wonderful to have more room.”

The grounds at the current site are all about the outdoors and nature. The children help to take care of the animals and they also have chores. The development of a strong will and work ethic is very important to a Waldorf education.

They use different types of play structures which means they’ll have to transform the CP Huntington school grounds from a mainstream public school to a Waldorf private school.

That’s where the permits and red tape come into play.

Camellia Waldorf has made efforts to inform parents of their proposed site relocation. They’ve had quite a few parent education offerings to let the parents know why they are interested in moving and why they think CP Hunnington works well for them.

They have also reached out to the Brentwood Neighborhood by canvassing the neighborhood and have had members of the Brentwood Neighborhood Association tour the campus and learn what a Waldorf education is all about.

“We also like the idea of being in a neighborhood instead of a shopping center. Community is an important part of who we are and what our parents are looking for and what we instill in our children. It’s very attractive to us to be in more of a community setting like that,” Sokolor said.

What will happen to the building and area Camellia Waldorf will be vacating?

Over the Fence has learned there have been some preliminary discussions to house a Safe Ground type facility on the 4.6-acre Sacramento City nursery once Camellia Waldorf relocates to the CP Huntington site. Stay tuned.

Got a local neighborhood news story? Email Greg@valcomnews.com

Run With a Recruiter

Like to jog through the neighborhood? Interested in law enforcement? The Sacramento Police Department hosts “Run with a Recruiter” every Friday morning at the Public Safety Center on Freeport Boulevard.

Just meet at the front doors at 6 a.m. and be ready to run.

Run with a Recruiter is a great way to burn some carbs with Sac PD and learn about what it takes to be a police officer. You’ll also get to run along with others who have an interest in law enforcement.

And, no, they’re not running to Marie’s Donuts and back.

They run all throughout the neighborhood and try to switch it up every week, whether it’s jogging the tree-lined winding hills of South Land Park or through the foggy mist of William Land Park. Different scenery makes it more interesting. Sometimes they run near the Sacramento Zoo and do some stretching exercises at the halfway point; then head west.

Run with a Recruiter is no pressure. It’s not a race or mad dash to the finish line. It is a group activity with group exercises, which is what they do at the Sacramento Police Academy. “We try and foster that kind of community sense of exercise,” Officer Nevik told me.

Officer Nevik also said, “It’s not only meant to evaluate fitness, it’s about getting out, getting to know people, and having the opportunity to talk with other officers and other applicants in the process.”

I wonder if they’ve ever been running through Land Park and they come across a crime in progress? Some guy is hauling a big screen TV through a shattered window just when the cops and recruits come jogging up the street.

I guess I’ll have to ask them if that’s happened on the next…Run With A Recruiter. Every Friday at 6 a.m.

Dash To Marie’s For Some Donuts

Shown here is are two runners from the Fifth Annual Donut Dash, in support of Child Life Program at Sutter Children’s Center, was held on Saturday, March 9, 2013. This year’s run will be held on Saturday, March 7. The four-mile race starts and ends in William Land Park with Marie’s Donuts as a turnaround spot. / File photo by Stephen Crowley

Shown here is are two runners from the Fifth Annual Donut Dash, in support of Child Life Program at Sutter Children’s Center, was held on Saturday, March 9, 2013. This year’s run will be held on Saturday, March 7. The four-mile race starts and ends in William Land Park with Marie’s Donuts as a turnaround spot. / File photo by Stephen Crowley

If you like chocolate sprinkles with your run, you may want to participate in the upcoming Donut Dash March 7 in William Land Park. Run, jog, or walk two miles, chomp on some Marie’s Donuts and dash back to the finish line at William Land Park.

The Donut Dash is gluttony for a good cause.

The proceeds go to The Child Life Program at Sutter’s Children Center, which is more than a good cause. The program helps purchase iPads, video game systems, and arts and craft projects for the sick kids. Hospitals aren’t exactly an amusement park. The games and gadgets help pass the time in a fun way while children recover from their illness at the hospital.

The Donut Dash brings the local community together and has been growing every year since 2009. Last year’s Donut Dash raised $60,000 for the Child Life Program. That’s a lot of donut holes.

I asked event organizer Zack Wandell: Why Marie’s Donuts? I mean, they ARE a Land Park institution and they have delicious donuts.

Zack said, “Oh yeah. Best in town.” And Zack knows donuts.

He actually grew up in the Greenhaven-Pocket area and was always a Marie’s Donuts fan. He told me about Greenhaven Donuts and how he and his friends used to go over there after their paper routes and get the glazed; once he became a teen and was able to drive, “it was Marie’s Donuts,” he said.

Donut Dash Factoid: 260 dozen donuts and 500-600 dozen donut holes will be consumed at the Donut Dash.

For registration info go to www.donutdash.org. You can also find them on Facebook.

CPV Safeway gas station proposal still simmering

Things seem to be heating up with the Curtis Park Village development. Aren’t they always?

The latest is a mass email being circulated by Paul Petrovich to local residents about the Safeway supermarket and gas station proposal. In the email he states, “My effort to bring Safeway and its $25 per hour jobs to Curtis Park Village is in trouble.”

The hourly wage is a bit overstated. According to Glassdoor.com, the average salary for a Safeway checker is $11.27. A food clerk makes $14.27 and a head clerk can average up to $18.34 – a good hourly wage, but it’s no $25 an hour.

Looks like Petrovich is using union labor jobs as a PR tool to get the Safeway gas station approved. Will it sway public opinion? Petrovich Development hopes so.

The personal email from Paul ends with “Should I continue to fight for Safeway or give up and let a lower-wage operator take their place? This is the last issue. I don’t want to make the wrong decision.”

Some recipients weren’t too happy with the email correspondence from Paul. “How did he get my email?” one Hollywood Park resident complained. Sounds like Paul has a master list of emails he’s sending out to the outskirts of the community.

Another recipient, Dustin Dyer, wrote a scathing response to Paul: “As an attorney I do respect the tactic of misdirection in your argument to attempt to characterize the main purpose your development as an opportunity to benefit the community rather than the opportunity to maximize profits.”

The Safeway gas station is Petrovich’s last stand. Safeway and Petrovich say if they don’t get the fueling station along with the Supermarket, they can’t compete. They noted they especially can’t compete with the new Raley’s flagship market that will be taking over the old abandoned Capital Nursery spot. Steve Berndt specifically mentioned “the Raley’s fuel center” at the SCNA meeting last month. Recently, I was told there would no Raley’s gas station although there were blueprints as far back as a couple years ago. The Raley’s Development team had been scheduled to appear twice at the Land Park Neighborhood Association, but they canceled both times saying they were not ready to present to the board.


I think Raley’s is waiting to see how the Safeway gas station pans out before revealing their blueprints for the new Land Park Raley’s.

The Petrovich email also suggests what will happen if Safeway and the gas station do not become part of the Curtis Park Village Development. They might have to put up with a Food Source, Winco, or the fear of all fears…a Wal-Mart.

It’s either A or B. I would think Petrovich would want his signature development to be something the entire Sacramento region would be proud of.


Over The Fence

A large turnout of concerned neighbors gathered at the Sierra 2 Community Center to listen developer Paul Petrovich's proposal for a Safeway gas station. / Photos by Greg Brown

A large turnout of concerned neighbors gathered at the Sierra 2 Community Center to listen developer Paul Petrovich's proposal for a Safeway gas station. / Photos by Greg Brown

Longtime Land Park Raley’s Clerk Retires

Land Park Raley’s won’t be the same without the affable Tom Tisdale, better known as Tom T. by his customers and fellow employees. After 33 years at the Raley’s Supermarket on Freeport Boulevard, Tom decided to hang up his plumb-colored apron.

“After 33 years it was time,” Tom decided.

I heard about it by accident, really. I was in the check-out line and I asked, “Where’s Tommy T?” The clerk told me, “He retired.” What? Without saying goodbye? After a vacation, he came back just to leave a note saying he was retiring.

When I spoke with Tom over the phone, he told me he didn’t want the hoopla of a long drawn-out farewell or party. “There’s a small-knit group of people that have been there the whole time, and those are the people I feel obligated to.” He mentioned that there may be a little party at the Swiss Buda when “things die down a little.”

Then Tom admitted, “I’ll miss a lot of the customers and I miss seeing some of the workers and management.”

Loved by customers as well as fellow employees, Tom T. was a Land Park Institution. You can’t teach his kind of customer service. You either have it or you don’t, and Tom T. had it. He was always friendly, helpful, and easy to talk with. Just a natural at small talk when you’re buying a week’s worth of groceries for your family.

Customers could occasionally hear him over the speaker system talking about the “Great stuff on sale this week at Raley’s.” He had a folksy way of telling guests about the beef tri-tip or watermelon that was on sale that day at Raley’s. He did it just as good as any commercial voice-over announcer.

I asked Tom T., since he’s such a local legend, what he did with his Raley’s gear…auction it off on e-Bay or what? He said, “Oh jeez.” Then he added, “I left my apron with the girls over at the floral department. It’s hanging up in the back room so they can think about me when they walk by.”

Land Park Raley’s on Freeport just won’t be the same without Tom T. They really ought to hang his apron up in the rafters for all to see. A little salute to our favorite neighborhood grocery clerk.

Townhomes Proposed For Upper Land Park

There’s a brand new development plan in the works on 500 Swanston Dr. in upper Land Park. It’s a 20-townhouse infill project at the end of the road on an empty plot of land. The plan is to rezone the property and build 20 townhouses similar to Tapestri Square on 21st and T, as Russ Patton, who represents Michael Moser Development, told residents at the last LPCA meeting at Eskaton.

Currently the parcel is only zoned for one house. Russ called it the “Full Meal Deal of the planning process.” Lots of rezoning, remapping, and a whole lot of hearings.

The only access to the townhouses will be Swanston or Santa Buena Way. There will be no roads leading to the back of the proposed development. There was mention of perhaps an emergency road for emergency vehicle traffic.

Patton encouraged people attending the meeting to take a look at the lot, which I did. The first thing I noticed was the loud traffic buzzing by on Interstate 5, especially the big rigs. After a while I guess you’d get used to it. I also noticed plenty of trash, discarded clothing, and graffiti all over the sound wall with a lot of empty spray paint cans strewn all over the property.

One resident expressed concern about the townhouses being entry-level and ending up as rentals. Others expressed concern about traffic going in and out of the project since there would be no back street.

The good thing about the Moser Development team sharing their preliminary plans with the neighborhood is the transparency and feedback from residents. The discussion was a good give-and-take, and the development team will listen to neighborhood concerns about the design process and also take guidance from the city.

I spoke with Randy Gillum, a neighbor across the street from the property, he told me they had a lot of trouble with the empty grass field. “That’s already drug central over there. They just popped three guys about a week ago.”

Randy characterized the empty lot and space along the sound wall as a magnet for drug dealing, illegal dumping, graffiti, sexual activity, along with a giant fecal field full of dog poop.

Wouldn’t a townhouse development, or even a few single-family homes, be a good way to rid the neighborhood of that sort of activity?

Randy said, “I’d like to see something in there just to slow that kind of traffic down. As soon as we see somebody with a backpack, boom!, we have problems.”

“We’re fed up with it.”

Randy isn’t opposed to townhouses, but he doesn’t like the idea of one entrance going in and out of the development. He said if there’s only one entry and exit, “I’ll fight it tooth and nail. We have more traffic than a residential neighborhood needs.”

Safeway Gas Station Faces Vocal Opposition in Curtis Park

There was a big meeting at the Sierra 2 Center about the Safeway Supermarket and fueling station being proposed for Curtis Park Village. Council member Jay Schenirer even brought “clickers” by Meridia Audience Response for residents to take a poll after the meeting. Like he needed to take a poll on how those in attendance felt about the proposed Safeway gas station. They were loud and clear with their voices and sarcastic laughter.

Petrovich Development has said, no Safeway fueling station, no Safeway grocery store and the high-end retail that would come with it. Steve Berndt, who’s in charge of Safeway real estate for the Northwestern United States, addressed the crowd and restated that fact during the Q & A portion of the meeting.

Berndt introduced himself by mentioning he worked with Petrovich on the Safeway at 19th and R streets and was also was instrumental in remodeling the Alhambra Safeway years ago…and that’s when the cat-calls came out. He interrupted the cat-calls with “I didn’t actually tear down the theater; that was my ex-boss Ray Oswald. He left the state. He’s in Carson City, now.”

A little black humor to kick things off, I guess.

Berndt went on to say that Safeway is up against a lot of competition and that’s why they need the gas station along with the grocery store. “In order for us to compete in Sacramento, we feel we do need fuel.”

He added, “Fuel can be a good quiet neighbor.” More cat-calls.

Patrick Soluri, representing the SCNA, discussed why the gas station is not a good neighbor and warned those in attendance about the “red herring of economic infeasibility.”

Soluri mentioned the city received a $10 million grant to construct a pedestrian over-crossing. Petrovich Development also received more than 10 million in grants in order to construct “one of the regions per-eminent transit-oriented developments.”

“Millions of public funds have been spent to facilitate transit-oriented development. What public policy is being promoted to allow a gas station where city policy specifically says they should be prohibited because they (gas stations) do not support transit?”

That’s when the crowd roared with applause.

Soluri also mentioned the SCNA found four instances of recent Safeway’s being opened without a gas station. One in Oakland, Los Altos, Cupertino, and Petaluma. So Safeway does open grocery stores without fueling stations.

It’s just not going to happen in Curtis Park Village.

The powerful neighborhood and its residents were very clear with their voices and with their clickers. Eighty percent of those in attendance were opposed to the Safeway gas station according to the audience survey.

What’s next?

The conditional use permit for the gas station will soon go to the planning commission. If they deny it, that’s the end of the story. If they approve it, it will most certainly be appealed, before reaching the city council for a vote.

If you have a tidbit for Over the Fence, email


Gem Auto Wash removes beloved neon sign

Gem Auto Wash owner Reed Hollingshead poses with the old Gem Auto Wash sign. / Photo by Greg Brown

Gem Auto Wash owner Reed Hollingshead poses with the old Gem Auto Wash sign. / Photo by Greg Brown

Some might say I’m obsessed with signs. It probably started when I was a young boy in the backseat of a blue Buick Skylark.  I’d always look out the window at the cool business signs as we’d drive down the road.
I was driving down the road a couple weeks ago gazing out the window when I noticed Gem Auto Wash had a big crane taking down the cool neon 1960s sign and replacing it with a new large run-of-the-mill sign. I panicked a little.
I made a quick u-turn, parked the car, and immediately started asking questions. I was able to speak to Reed Hollingshead, the owner of Gem Auto Wash,  and he alleviated some of my panicky concerns about the iconic sign, although my hands are still a little clammy about it.
He and his brother Peter have taken over the family business their dad Richard started in 1974. Reed said, “He left a great legacy.” Gem Auto Wash and the neon sign have been operating on Freeport Boulevard  since 1962. In all that time, the sign has never had to be repaired, according to Peter. “The tubes have been taken care of nicely ,” he said.
I was assured by Mr. Hollingshead that they were going to preserve the sign.  The plan is to strip, paint, and repair the old Gem Auto Wash sign and mount it in the middle of the façade above the car wash tunnel. It’s currently in storage at the business.
The removal of the neon sign is part of a “re-branding of the business,” Peter told me. He added, “Besides, nobody uses the term ‘auto’ anymore.” Gem Auto Wash is now Gem Car Wash And Detail Center.
On Facebook, I posted a photo of the vintage sign being taken down and nobody was happy about it.  Comments included, “Oh no,” “Bummer,” and “That’s terrible. Why would they do that? At least the old 50s Raley’s sign is still there.”
One person drastically stated, “So sad, this destroys the character of the city and neighborhood.”
Let’s hope Mr. Hollingshead is a man of his word and the classic neon Gem Auto Wash sign glowingly reappears on Freeport Boulevard.

Fairytale Town Looking to Expand

Fairytale Town wants to expand. Executive Director Kathy Fleming and board member Brian Crilly presented to the Land Park Community Association Board an impressive renovation project idea. Brian, who’s an architect at Lionakis, gave the enthusiastic presentation to the Land Park Community Association as well as those in attendance at the monthly board meeting.
The proposal calls for an expansion to the east near the soccer field and to the south, adding approximately half an acre to the current grounds (of 2 and a half acres). The current cost estimate for expansion and improvements is between $5‐8 million. The funds will all come from private donations. I spoke with Kathy Fleming as she said, “We’re floating ideas out there and getting input from community members. We’ve talked conceptually about it with the Land Park soccer and the city parks department. This is a very long-term project if it goes forward and I think there will be a lot of conversations with the community, and the Land Park community in particular.”
She added, “It’s really embryonic right now.”
Some in attendance at the meeting expressed concerns about more open park space being gobbled up and fenced in diminishing the area available for free and open use. Others pointed out it would diminish views and vistas in William Lnand Park. Another attendee mentioned how the neighborhood resisted the expansion of the Sacramento Zoo’s footprint when it proposed an expansion. It definitely sparked a spirited conversation at the meeting. The Land Park Community Association did not take a stance on the proposed expansion and will address the topic at upcoming board meetings.

Fountainhead Brewing Almost Ready To Brew

Hollywood Park residents who enjoy tipping back a pint of local craft beer were giddy with excitement when they heard a new brewery was replacing an old auto repair shop on 24th Street a few doors down from Panama Pottery.  Fountainhead Brewing Company was movin’ in! That was last year. Local folks recently started asking me, “What’s the latest on Fountainhead?”
Fear not my lager-loving friends. I asked Fountainhead’s  brewer and owner and he told me, “Everything’s all set with ABC and Fed and we’ll be installing glycol next week,” which means they’ll be brewing soon. And for the brewing nerds, glycol, mixed with city water, enables them to operate their chiller systems in the 25-27 F temperature range that breweries require.
They still need to have some work done to the building, but they will have brew available in house and at a couple locations “within the next two months or so,” according to Moffat.
So, stay giddy Hollywood Park. There will be something brewing soon on 24th Street.
Got an item for Over The Fence? Greg@valcomnews.com

Over the Fence

New Replacement For The Irreplaceable Daisy Mah?

Land Park Rock Garden superstar Daisy Mah has been retired from the city of Sacramento for over a year now. She’s probably furiously mulching and tending to her own backyard garden right now. A lot of Land Park residents who enjoy the Land Park Rock Garden were concerned they’d never find a suitable replacement for Daisy. Those are some tough garden gloves to fill. There was an online petition with more than 600 signatures that pleaded with the city of Sacramento to find a qualified replacement for Daisy.

The petition and saber rattling worked because Parks and Recreation was listening.

Parks and Rec spoke to Human Resources and have finished a brand new classification for the position Daisy Mah once occupied. According to Parks and Rec’s Lori Harder, who spoke at the Land Park Community Association meeting last month, “It’s to not just address the Land Park Rock Garden, but also other specialty gardens like community gardens and those that take a lot of input from the community.” This newly created position will be given a grand title, and a salary scale just below Park Supervisor. In other words…more money for more expertise. A Land Park garden superstar!

One Land Park resident stood up at the meeting and expressed concern it wouldn’t work out after speaking to the Parks Director. He mentioned issues on “salary and such” and that the issue isn’t settled, but he hoped it would be. Lori Harder then said, “It’s actually coming together nicely.”

So, it looks like there will be a new replacement for the hard to replace Daisy Mah early next year. Let’s hope Parks and Recreation is under the “salary cap.”

You’ve Been Framed

Terry Spencer poses with one her custom frames inside the shop. / Photo by Greg Brown

Terry Spencer poses with one her custom frames inside the shop. / Photo by Greg Brown

Spencer’s Custom Framing, located in the strip mall at 5101 Freeport Blvd., will soon be celebrating their 30th anniversary in Hollywood Park. It’s a true local treasure. I recently talked to the owner Terry Spencer, who was sipping coffee and working on a couple of framing projects. She said, “I get to start where the artist stops.”

It’s fun to shoot the breeze with Terry and talk about the neighborhood. She’s lived in Hollywood Park with her husband Roger for more than 35 years. “I’ve been walking to work for 30 years,” Terry told me.

Her loyal customers rave about her talent and skill with custom framing. Just ask Yelp, she gets rave reviews! Terry was working on some beautiful antique oval portrait frames and rejuvenating some civil war memorabilia when I was at the shop. If you need anything framed for the holidays, check out Spencer’s and tell Terry, “Happy Anniversary!”

Got an item for Over The Fence? Email greg@valcomnews.com

Over The Fence

Bring us your Tootsie Pops

Dr. Jill Whitney is a dentist on Freeport Boulevard who is also good deed doer. Every year, she and her staff have a Halloween Candy Buyback Program. The program encourages kids to bring in their leftover Halloween candy they begged all night for in exchange for cold hard cash.

They better not buy candy with it!

This year, Dr. Whitney’s office collected 84 pounds of candy. They gave a dollar for every pound. Not to mention the 16 pounds her husband collected at his work.

It’s for a good cause, too. All the candy they collect gets sent to Operation Gratitude along with lots of toothbrushes. Operation Gratitude sends it to U.S. soldiers overseas in holiday care packages. I bet it’s a nice treat for our men and women in uniform. Tootsie Rolls, Snickers, and Smarties probably remind them of home.

Another benefit of the Candy buyback is saving the kid’s teeth from high sugar exposure for an extended period of time. I remember when I was a kid we covered a large swath of trick-or-treating ground, which meant a pillowcase full of sugar-filled Halloween candy. I had leftovers ’til Christmas! I also made quite a few unpleasant trips to the dentist.

Debbie Podesta, the office manager, told me “Dr. Whitney does things she likes to do. Little charities. She’s just that way.”

BBQ and new bikes
Sutterville Bicycle Company recently had a big grand opening and barbecue with all the fixin’s. There were hotdogs, hamburgers, even some turkey burgers. They also were playing some groovy funky tunes that complemented some of the groovy bikes the shop had for sale. The new owner, Jeff Dzurinko, took over ownership of the bike shop about six weeks ago from the initial owner, so it was more like an Open House than a Grand Opening. Jeff said, “I can’t wait to get to know some of the neighbors.”

He’s already getting some local love from the neighborhood. (See posts on the Facebook page.)

“The people in the neighborhood have been nothing but supportive to me and I’m happy to help them out with their bicycling needs,” Jeff said, referring to it as “a grassroots kind of bike shop.”

“I think having this sized shop allows me to be more personable and allows me to give that one on one experience that customers can appreciate,” he added. And Jeff definitely has that. He was greeting the folks who came to the grand opening with handshakes and a friendly “hello.”

One thing Jeff wants to put a big emphasis on is service and repairs. Jeff is a very experienced technician and is capable of working on all sorts of bikes. Does your bike chain keep slipping? Need a tune-up? Head on over to see Jeff. He also does custom-built bikes and custom orders.

He had some cool old school used bikes in the shop, a wide array of different style bikes. He’s got vintage bikes from the pre-war era along with accessories and parts to those old bikes. He’s also got a lot of ’70s, ’80s and ’90s era BMX bikes. It kind of reminded me of being a kid hanging around the bike shop.

Jeff said, “The BMX bikes are cool, and not only are kids buying them, but adults that had them when they were kids want to buy them for their kids now.”

They also have comfortable, efficient, modern bikes that are perfect for a work commute.

The Sutterville Bicycle Company is located in a tricky area. Sutterville and Attawa right next to the Sutterville Bypass. That hill will get your quads in shape once you get your bike in perfect working condition at the new bike shop on the block.

The Safeway Gas Station at Natomas Town Center on Del Paso Road is very busy. Photo by Greg Brown

The Safeway Gas Station at Natomas Town Center on Del Paso Road is very busy. Photo by Greg Brown

Curtis Park Village voices say ‘no’ to proposed gas station

A fight’s a brewin’ in the Curtis Park Village development. Developer Paul Petrovich and members of the Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association are duking it out again – this time over a Safeway gas station, err, make that the Curtis Park Village Neighborhood Fuel Center as the project is being called.

Wordy. They’re gonna need a giant glowing sign for that.

The Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association has come out against the fueling station and kiosk that would be part of the Safeway Supermarket being proposed.

The Curtis Park Village Neighborhood Fuel Center, or the Safeway Gas Station, would be open 24 hours a day. There will also be a large kiosk where busy commuters can get their Redbull, snacks, beer, cigarettes and anything else they need at 3 in the morning.

The proposed gas station will have eight pumping stations, including 16 gas pumps and will be open 24 hours a day.

I spoke with Curtis Park resident Nancy McKeever over the phone and she really did her homework on the proposed friendly neighborhood fueling station. She is very much opposed to any gas station in Curtis Park Village. She’s uber opposed.

When I asked her about it, she sarcastically said, “We didn’t know we needed one.”

Nancy told me about how the Curtis Park neighborhood has worked hard for a high quality urban infill project. Every step of the way they have fought tooth and nail for this infill development to be the kind of project the neighborhood could be proud of. They’ve worked to increase densities of housing, to make streets punch through so the old neighborhood is connected, to get a bridge over the railroad to connect the neighborhood with the transit station. They’ve also butted heads with Paul Petrovich over park space.

Now they’re going toe to toe over the Safeway gas station and kiosk.

The grocery store is not the problem. It’s the gas station. Nancy said, “It’s not transit serving. It does not honor multi-million dollar public investment; it degrades it. Not only does it not provide transit riders and value to that investment and the bridge that’s going over it, it greatly detracts because of the amount of traffic it’s going to pull in to get gas at the fueling station.”

I drove on out to the Natomas Town Center on Del Paso Road and the Safeway gas station was doing brisk business. This gas station on Del Paso Road has six pumps, the one proposed for Curtis Park Village is eight pumps so it would be larger. A lot of Safeway gas was being guzzled up, so much in fact there was also a huge gasoline truck parked at the gas station. They can’t keep the gas tanks filled! The truck driver was taking a smoke break along the sidewalk before he hit the road to the next Safeway gas station to fill ’er up.

In their letter to the Sacramento City Planning Division, the Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association states, “The overall purpose of this PUD’s development guidelines is to ensure that the proposed uses of this infill development blend with and enhance the quality of life and charm of the existing Curtis Park neighborhood. Compatibility with the existing neighborhood has been the watchword for a very long time. The proposed gas station works against this general purpose. One of the objectives for this goal is to encourage the use of public transportation and to develop appropriate linkages to surrounding neighborhoods including pedestrian, bicycle, vehicle and alternative transportation modes. A gas station in this location frustrates this goal.”

I reached out to Paul Petrovich via email and he referred me to former City Council member Rob Fong. I guess Paul is handling some media matters for Petrovich Development. I wanted to know what Petrovich thought of the neighborhood’s opposition to the fuel station and the rumor that Safeway won’t move in without a gas station. Fong said via email, “As part of the final executed lease, Safeway required that its lease be contingent upon the Landlord obtaining the necessary approvals to build the fuel center. Vice Mayor Jay Schenirer will be organizing a community meeting in early January to discuss all of the retail options for Curtis Park Village and to receive input from the neighborhood.”

No fuel center? No Safeway?

The Curtis Park Village Neighborhood Fueling Station Battle Royale continues in January at the Sierra 2 Center.

If you have an item for Over The Fence, email Greg@valcomnews.com