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Is the Elverta Specific Plan a Dead Horse?

Last week during the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors meeting, the supervisors held a workshop with planners and developers regarding the Elverta Specific Plan. Mainly, what’s happened to make this project languish for over a decade, and what does the future look like?

What was discovered isn’t encouraging.

in 2007, Sacramento County approved a plan to move forward with developing the Elverta area. Dubbed the “Elverta Specific Plan” or ESP, this plan called for 6,100 single-family homes on 1,400 acres in Rio Linda and Elverta, centered around the 16th Street and Elverta Road intersection.

What’s been discovered is that the cost of infrastructure; Water, transportation, power, sewer, stormwater drainage, is dismaying for developers who are obligated to pay to develop infrastructure within the project and improve streets and roads outside the project that would see more traffic as a result of the development.

The county’s 2007 approvals put all the responsibility for off-site improvements on the project developers, even if those roads and streets were already approaching designed capacity before the project’s first home is built.

Those roads such as Elverta Road, 16th Street, Watt Avenue, Rio Linda Boulevard, and the infamous intersection at 28th and Elverta, are affected not only by traffic from existing communities but new commuters from Placer and Sutter County encroachments; Placer Vineyards and Sutter Pointe, two massive development plans that will squeeze the Rio Linda Elverta community from the north, and Grandpark, the behemoth 5,700 acre development plan for the rice fields west of Rio Linda, north of Elkhorn Blvd. and south of Baseline Road.

Consequently, the obligation for ESP developers is roughly $200 million of off-site improvements, when it should only be about $20 million. A representative for the developers said that if developers remain on the hook for the off-site infrastructure improvements, homes would have to begin in the $800,000 range to make the project feasible.

With no obvious solutions in sight, the project remains in neutral. Sacramento County planners are reviewing and will return to the Board of Supervisors with a report at a later date.