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Comeback Story

With March primary elections in full force, Sacramento needs a plan to repair the damage from recent years. Problems include homelessness, crime and the effects of destructive COVID-19 lockdown policies. We need solutions.

Before the pandemic, the city was on its way to becoming a sought-after location. Between 2016 and 2018, I published two editions of our Inside Sacramento book highlighting the most interesting restaurants and shops in America’s farm-to-fork capital. The books were a hit. I was optimistic.

Today that optimism is gone. City life is worse, not better. A national survey of major cities ranks Sacramento as No. 2 in growth of homeless populations. From 2020 to 2023 Sacramento’s unhoused numbers exploded by 68%.

‘A’ Winner

The idea that government can do things well is a tough sell in some circles. But I’ll go out on a limb to argue Measure A, the half-cent sales tax for transportation approved twice by local voters, is a success story.

Don’t confuse this with the so-called “citizens’ initiative” Measure A that went down in flames in 2022. That Measure A was opposed by good-government groups such as the League of Women Voters, who denounced it as “the product of developers, business organizations and labor advocates” rather than sound and balanced transportation planning.

Pit Crew

Our region is perfect for olive trees. Drive from Sacramento in any direction and you encounter olive groves unfolding away from the roadside, their branches reaching for the sun, standing tall in orchards.

Each year, local olive ranchers practice harvest preservation by curing olives or pressing them into gold-green oil. As a devotee of extra-virgin olive oil, I’m always searching for the area’s best orchards and olive mills.

For several years, I’ve headed south on Interstate 5 and driven to the tight and trimmed rows of the Coldani family Calivirgin Winery and Olive Mill on North Thornton Road.

Kitty Whisperer

Barbara Dow is in her happy place, a chair in the cattery at the Sacramento SPCA, playing with two 8-year-old stray cats who are being socialized.

“Rowdy has eye problems, but he knows my voice,” Dow says. “He’s not up for adoption right now, but they did take him to UC Davis to see what they can do for him. The other one, Rachel, is shy, but she loves me and lets me rub her tummy.”

Dow has volunteered at SSPCA since 2018 and is lead mentor at the cattery. She trains other volunteers to work with the shelter’s felines, among the 6,000 stray or surrendered animals the nonprofit receives each year.

La Dolce Vita

Sampino’s Kitchen at Joe Marty’s offers a traditional Italian American experience, spaghetti and meatballs included, on Broadway. Across the grid, newcomer Willow presents Italian food through a fine-dining lens. Both are special places.

Party Onward

Cory Whetstone, 69, had a hard time finding affordable housing. At some apartment buildings, he recalls, there were “a lot of young people, people into drugs and other issues going on. When you mix seniors in that bunch, you have ready-made victims and predators.”

Whetstone is particularly vulnerable because he is a transgender male. LGBTQ people often suffer housing discrimination.

Last year, Whetstone moved into Lavender Courtyard, a low-income apartment building for LGBTQ seniors. His housing problems were over.

Blast From Past

Blast From Past

The future of dangerous fences across the Sacramento River levee may depend on letters written during the Vietnam War.

The letters contain fence authorizations granted by the Army Corps of Engineers. They date from 1968.

It’s unclear whether the letters really exist. Authorities can’t or won’t produce the paperwork for public examination by Inside Sacramento.


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