Councilmember Steve Hansen addresses neighborhood needs
By Monica Stark
Looking ahead to the next four years as a member of the city council, Steve Hansen (D-4) shared many of his goals and discussed at length various issues such as homelessness in the Broadway corridor as well as traffic and safety along Freeport and Riverside boulevards.
“Fixing these roads to a point where there are no fatalities is actually a goal,” he said, highlighting his urging of the council in adopting Vision Zero, “a traffic safety philosophy that rejects the notion that traffic crashes are simply ‘accidents,’ but instead preventable incidents that can and must be systematically addressed.”
Speed on Riverside Boulevard continues to be an issue, despite the Feb. 13, 2014 fatal accident near Crocker-Riverside Elementary School. Although it was never officially confirmed, some residents in the area spoke about one of the cars involved in the accident traveling at a speed of about 70 mph.
To this day, Hansen said while he might be traveling at the posted 25 mph speed limit, there would be people on his bumper trying to go around him. “They’re pushing the limits,” he said. “They need to be more careful.”
To that end, he said what’s needed is more driver education. “We need to educate drivers not to be distracted and pay attention to other people using the road. Fixing these roads to point where no fatalities is actually a goal… some of that will be engineering and design of the streets, but it’s also about he way we interact with each other on the road.”
Unfortunately for these ambitions with the failure of Measure B (by one percent), the city now has “zero dollars in the city budget for bike infrastructure,” Hansen said.
After Freeport Boulevard shrunk down to a two-lane road with bike lanes, many drivers have expressed their disapproval of the change, namely concerning traffic congestion and confusion over where bike lanes begin and end. “(The intersection of) Freeport and Sutterville is a challenging one. We didn’t go south of Sutterville — that’s Jay Schenirer’s district. We should figure out what to do about Freeport for the long term. Part of it is identifying safe routes. All the corridors need attention — Franklin, Florin and Freeport, as well.”
In addition, Hansen would like to see a safe connection for cyclists between William Land Park and the Sacramento River Parkway Trail. “Sutterville is dangerous for bikes… and, if you’re a pedestrian trying to walk, it’s dangerous with people trying to get on and off the freeway.”
Regarding the Del Rio Trail, Hansen said he thinks it has a good chance to come to fruition because of money that’s being allocated for studying the design work. “It’s not going to be an easy thing to build,” he added.
Unlike cities such as Elk Grove that have newer streets, aging neighborhoods like Land Park have legacy costs and have infrastructure that needs replacing. As the city continues to move forward, Hansen said, “I think that we’re going to try again to figure out these road needs.”
Of the biggest goals for the next years, Hansen said a lot will hinge on keeping the city on a healthy economic course with focus on the city budget and tending to neighborhoods that have needs. For William Land Park that means massive reforesting – carrying a costly price tag of $16 million in deferred maintenance.
Regarding neighbors’ comments on the growing homeless population along Broadway, Hansen said data actually shows Sacramento has had a drop in the homeless population over the last year, though it may not seem that way. As homeless individuals move into Sacramento neighborhoods from the American River Parkway, people are raising questions such as: Why are they being displaced and how are we going to fix it? “(The homeless population) is a moving target. It’s going to be a combination of solutions because there’s a lot of different causes for homelessness… We’re working to align services so that service providers are able to handle the most needy folks. There’s a lot of work behind the scenes and we’re seeing some fruit of that,” he said. “We want to make sure people feel safe whether they live in the neighborhood or on the streets and need help.”
Hansen mentioned work with the Greater Broadway Partnership Property and Business Improvement District regarding how to handle the situation as a business owner. Additionally, he’s been working with the Sacramento Steps Forward over the course of six to nine months trying to improve the situation.
Despite criticism that Hansen and his office has neglected the Land Park neighborhood, he resisted, stating: “We are around Land Park a lot.” Examples included the transformation of Freeport Boulevard, the renovation of Cervantes Plaza, and fighting for resources at William Land Park (including the pond renovations.)
“What I hear mostly from residents is that staff has been responsive; I have been present; and the city is going in the right direction. (The position of city council member) is only meant to be half time, so it’s a struggle because we have to do multiple things. We try to be problem solvers and be there when people need help. A lot of the stuff we get from Land Park residents has to do whether it’s trash pick up; sometimes it’s parking issues. We help with William Land Park and issues there. Mostly it’s the interest in what’s happening on Broadway. (The city received a $2.8 million grant for renovations on Broadway between 3rd and 16th streets.) The city seems to be on the right track and also hear about that from Land Park folks.”