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Big Break

Le’la Aaron hesitated when her older sister Adina encouraged her to join Breakthrough Sacramento. Who wants to go to school during the summer? But the decision to join the tuition-free college preparatory program changed her life.

“Breakthrough was the most helpful in that I got extra attention and I had more time to understand each topic before it was brought up in the classroom the next year, so I was already somewhat ahead,” says Aaron, a UC Davis freshman.

For 30 years, Breakthrough Sacramento has provided intensive, six-week academic programs during the summer for under-resourced students in seventh through 12th grades on the campus of Sacramento Country Day School.

Project Eternity

Buddhist monk Shunryu Suzuki proclaimed, “A garden is never finished.” Ever changing, gardens evolve and aren’t frozen in time. Trees grow, leaves fall, perennials fade, tastes change. Evolution dodges closure.

Michael and Peggy Bachman can appreciate Suzuki’s Zen teachings. Living in the same Carmichael home for 25 years, their front yard is a half-shaved mustache. One side of the garden is stunning. The other is stubble, a weedy, overgrown mess of gardening yin and yang.

What was transformed a year ago is now a neighborhood attraction, a marriage of stone, statuary, tile, a fountain and Mediterranean plants. The design was inspired by a trip to Greece. Michael built the walls and applied his handyman talents to tiling, stucco and concrete work.

Enemy Is Us

Dan Dunmoyer, president and CEO of the California Building Industry Association, likes to cite numbers when asked about the state’s housing crisis.

“In 1963, we built 331,000 homes in California and the population was half what it is now,” he says. “Last year, we built about 120,000 and we have a population at least twice that size.”

We can do the math. Prices are driven largely by supply and demand. California is woefully short on supply.

To dig deeper and get the homebuilder perspective, I reached out to Dunmoyer, who I enjoyed working with when I was Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s speechwriter. Dunmoyer was the governor’s cabinet secretary, juggling multiple complex issues.

But first, Dunmoyer politely corrected me. We don’t have a housing crisis. We have a housing policy crisis.

Midtown Magic

John Hodgson and Sheila Boxley acquired their new Midtown home almost nine years ago. The builder was Indie Capital known for stylish infill projects.

“We had been looking and saw it on an open house tour,” Hodgson says. “We liked everything about it.”

Previously, the couple owned suburban homes and townhouses. “Then we even lived for a while in a loft unit at 1801 L St.,” he adds.

The new house was built in the center of a Midtown block with alley access to a two-car garage. The lot was 40 by 160 feet. “Nate, the Indie Capital contractor, split the lot to create this home’s footprint,” Hodgson says.

Good Taste

Suzanne Lo Coco was making pizza with her father Giovanni when she asked a simple question.

“How do you know when to do this, when to do that, when to add this and when to add that?”

The answer opened a philosophical discourse into the countless ways food preparation brings meaning to our lives.

Pub Grub

Many beer-focused places around town concentrate on the suds and keep the kitchen out of sight. But some beer joints work hard to highlight their food.

River Rhetoric

River Rhetoric

Nearly 300 people tuned in for a recent virtual “community conversation” with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Residents expected an open dialogue and answers to questions about erosion-control efforts along the lower American River.

Instead, they got scripted presentations, a history lesson dating back to the Gold Rush, more than 20 charts and graphs— and were left with a lot of unanswered questions.

“We were disappointed there wasn’t any kind of dialogue,” homeowner Pete Spaulding says.

Pops Tops

Pops Tops

The budget proposed by City Manager Howard Chan reflects drastic steps required to close a $66 million deficit.
Chan wants to cover $36 million of the gap with one-time funds—money that’s not part of the city’s predictable cash flow of sales and property taxes and fees. That means without cuts or new income next year, budget problems will continue.

I’m encouraged to see citizens get involved and tell City Council where public priorities lie. Speaking to your representative is essential.

One strategy for fiscal year 2024-25 calls for increasing income by raising fees for park programs and special events.


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