sac city council meeting
Shown right to left, City Councilmen Rick Jennings, Eric Guerra, Jay Schenirer, and City Manager John Shirey listen to public comments about installing a fuel center in Curtis Park. The council voted 7-2 against the project. (OBSERVER photo by Antonio R. Harvey)

DOWNTOWN SACRAMENTO — The Sacramento City Council put an end to a contentious debate about land use by voting 7-2 to not allow Safeway to install a fuel center in Crocker Village, right outside of the southwest corner of the Curtis Park neighborhood.

The eight-island, 16-fuel pumps presented by the developer Petrovich Development Company for the grocer, was shot down by Council
members Jay Schenirer, Steve Hansen, Angelique Ashby, Jeff Harris, Rick Jennings II, Eric Guerra, and Mayor Kevin Johnson.

Councilmen Larry Carr and Allen Warren vote in favor of the project. Paul Petrovich, who said his company has spent millions cleaning up the contamination because of the railroad, stated his case for the center that came out on a losing end.

The Sacramento Planning and Design Commission (SPDC) had settled the traffic and environmental aspects of the project, voting 8-3 in favor of the fuel center last summer.

The decision also stops Safeway from doing from business in Crocker village and a program that would have allowed the grocer to offer more than 120 jobs to residents in Oak Park.

Schenirer said before the vote that “both sides made a lot of compromises overtime” and the developer “has done a wonderful job” improving the area. But he also said the area has no use for a fuel center and discussions about settling the issues “went sideways”.

“I think this is a land use decision and it’s really not about jobs,” said Schenirer, who has lived in Curtis Park since 1990. “This project is not consistent with the blueprint. I don’t know that it is the right place for a gas station. I just can’t support it anyway, shape or form.”

Many of the jobs would start at $21.35 per hour, under a union, with pensions and benefits. Residents from Oak Park would get hiring preferences. Carr, from District 8, said that he would not base his decision on jobs, though thought the project was productive.

“When I look at this project I don’t see it in the middle of community,” Carr said. “It’s way down here in the left corner. This is off to the side and you can see it. What’s in front of me is a good project and I would love to have it my neighborhood. I just don’t see the problem with this project.”

There would have been 125 jobs to be filled with job seekers from Oak Park. Another 75 positions were set aside for people with experience in the supermarket business and current Safeway workers looking to transfer to the Crocker Village location.

With much interests and concerns, the City Council heard from a variety of people the Safeway project would affect from on different levels. A large amount of backers for the fuel center flooded the council chamber as did an equal volume of opposers.

A lot of residents from Curtis Park told the City Council that Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association (SCNA) does not speak for them and the support the idea of having the fuel center installed.

On the other side, many people came to the aid of the opposers of the project, citing economic ruin, Safeway stores that don’t have gas stations and neighborhood contamination. There were also people, such as Rev. Les Simmons from South Christian, who didn’t care one way or another about the fuel center. They just wanted the Safeway jobs for Oak Park.

“I have never seen anything like this,” Johnson said. “We had people from Curtis Park that supported this and people in Curtis Park who didn’t. We also had people in Oak Park in support of this project and some people in Oak Park that didn’t.”

Todd Paradis, a representative from Safeway, who attend the city council meeting, had said previously that if the grocer would not build in Crocker Village without the fuel center.

Johnson said he would still try to help Petrovich and Paradise negotiate a deal with Safeway move the project forward without the the fuel center.

“We want Safeway here,” Johnson said.

Following the City Council final vote, Petrovich told The OBSERVER that he would work with the mayor, but he is sure Safeway is pulling out of the deal.

“They have already said no five times,” Petrovich said.

The developer did indicate that he has a backup plan, possibly with two other grocers. However, the 225 union jobs would be off the table should one of them commit to Crocker Village.

“I’ve got two other grocers already signed in back of this one,” Petrovich said. “But they are non-union. There maybe jobs, but minimum wage jobs with no benefits.”
By Antonio R. Harvey
OBSERVER Staff Writer