The Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) on June 2 approved the city of Elk Grove’s proposal to expand its boundaries by 390 acres.

Included in the annexed area is the 100-acre property at the southeast corner of Grant Line and Waterman roads that the city purchased for nearly $4.4 million in 2014. That parcel was once envisioned for a Major League Soccer stadium, and was also considered as a potential home for the Sacramento County Fair.

The annexed land, which also includes the adjoining Kendrick and Cypress Abby properties, is part of the city’s greater plan to have a total of 571 acres annexed into the city.

The remaining 181 acres of the overall annexation proposal consists of the Mosher and Mahon properties, which both extend beyond the city’s sphere of influence boundaries, to the Cosumnes River.

In terms of potential annexation, progress on the Mosher and Mahon properties have been delayed for future discussions on agricultural protections and property configurations.

With the LAFCo commissioners’ 5-2 vote in favor of the annexation of the 390 acres of land into Elk Grove, the city will move forward with its plan for light industrial development in this area.

LAFCo Commissioner and Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost shared her support for the annexation proposal.

“It’s so wonderful the way this has evolved,” she said.

LAFCo Commissioner Lindsey Liebig, who is also the executive director of the Sacramento County Farm Bureau, spoke against the proposed annexation.

“I just have a real hard time watching the iterations of this project from start to finish on the multitude of changes it’s gone (through) under different uses in converting agricultural farmland, originally to a mixed-use open space that was going to kind of honor the history and richness of the area, and to now moving that into this whole industrial portfolio.”

Liebig added that she believes that the annexation will lead to further industrial developments south of Grant Line Road.

The staff report for this LAFCo hearing on the annexation proposal notes that the annexation area does not include any agricultural land that is designated as prime farmland, unique farmland or farmland of statewide importance.

Prior to voting against the annexation proposal, LAFCo Commissioner and Sacramento City Council Member Sean Lololee questioned whether the city’s light industrial planning for the property could negatively affect housing opportunities in Elk Grove.

“We have such a shortage of residential housing, especially in our region, so when I see 570 acres that we’re just cutting out, there’s a little bit of an ouch,” he said.

Don Lockhart, executive officer for LAFCo, responded to that comment, noting that the annexation proposal was consistent with the city’s General Plan, which includes an approved housing element that addresses the regional housing needs allocation.

“In the case of the city of Elk Grove, housing has always been a constant; it’s the jobs that have been the challenge,” he said.

Elk Grove City Manager Jason Behrmann also addressed Elk Grove’s jobs-to-housing ratio.

“We have a lot of housing that’s under construction now (and) a lot more planned,” he said. “But what we don’t have is an area of land that’s zoned for industrial (uses), and jobs-centered opportunities.”

Behrmann added that the light industrial use for this area is critical for the city’s jobs-to-housing balance, as well as reducing greenhouse gases, and offering opportunities for the city’s residents to both live and work in Elk Grove.

“This is what we feel is the best site possible,” he said. “Again, it’s adjacent to (Highway) 99, it’s adjacent to other industrial uses, (and) right across the street is a large propane tank facility. So, we feel that this property is best suited to industrial-commercial land, rather than in residential.”

LAFCo Commissioner and Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District Director Gay Jones spoke in support of the city’s annexation request and its effort to improve its jobs-to-housing imbalance through annexation.

“It’s been probably 10 years in the making and the configuring of this jobs and residential balance,” she said. “Sometimes it’s been extremely difficult and there’s been hard discussions on this. When we look back then, it was still the same discussion about how to get a handle on this jobs and residential ratio. And to their credit, the city of Elk Grove has developed and taken second and third looks at their potential.”

Prior to the commission’s approval of the city’s annexation request, the City Council took a major step toward the creation of jobs in the now-annexed area.

Last month, the council directed the city’s staff to pursue the sale of the front 60 acres of the city’s 100-acre property to Kubota North America (KNA) – a multinational corporation that designs, builds and sells tractors and other heavy equipment.

That approval was contingent on the annexation approval, and it must obtain building permits and entitlements.

Kubota’s plans for the 60-acre property includes a 45-acre site for their warehouse and distribution center, a 7-acre detention basin, and 8 acres of various road improvements.

That project will be presented to the council for their consideration within the next two to three months.

Mayor responds to annexation approval

With LAFCo’s approval of the city’s initial annexation proposal, Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen responded to the commission’s decision.

“The city is now in a position to work with landowners and developers to begin approving development projects and see them move forward into construction and operation,” she said.

“This is an incredible opportunity to build off nearby industrial development and the proximity to (California) State Route 99 and the adjoining railroad tracks. Development of this area will bring jobs to Elk Grove.”