Silence is Telling
Councilmember won’t explain park blockade
By R.E. Graswich
We asked. And Sacramento City Councilmember Steve Hansen refuses to answer questions about why he opposes public access to the Sacramento River Parkway in Little Pocket.
By keeping silent, Hansen appears to favor the interests of about 40 Little Pocket homeowners while he blocks public access for Sacramento’s 500,000 residents.
Hansen is upset about a column I wrote last month for Inside Sacramento. I criticized the councilman for pushing the city to fence off public access to a parkway near the levee at 35th Avenue and Riverside Boulevard. At Hansen’s request, the city barricaded the access point in May.
The blockaded parkway looks like a classic example of special interests stealing a public asset. Thanks to Hansen’s new gate and fence, a 10.5-acre city park instantly became a private park.
A few homeowners along the Little Pocket levee have free and easy access to the city’s rustic Chicory Bend nature area, whose official address is 797 Seamas Ave. As for you and me, we’re locked out, unless we arrive by boat or swim in.
The city’s website explains, “Public access from the Sacramento River only; there is no public access from the levee to this park.”
For accuracy’s sake, the statement should add, “At the request of Councilmember Hansen, a handful of property owners who live along the levee can walk right in and enjoy this park. You keep out.”
Chicory Bend Park should not be confused with Chicory Bend Court, a street off Pocket Road in South Pocket. Chicory Bend Park is a prime example of Hansen’s goal to ensure the public gets nowhere near the beautiful levee parkway in Little Pocket.
Oddly, Hansen supports public access to the levee in Greenhaven and Pocket. But when the parkway trail reaches Little Pocket, he expects cyclists, runners and walkers to tangle with traffic on busy Riverside Boulevard. He wants the Little Pocket levee parkway to serve as a private playground for those lucky homeowners, exclusively.
The question is why?
Last month, I described the hoops I jumped through while failing to get Hansen on the record. After the column ran, he complained I was inaccurate. When I tried again to speak to him, he emailed back, “Until the factual inaccuracies from the last piece are corrected or at least acknowledged, I will not be meeting with you.”
There were no inaccuracies. I noted Hansen’s gate and fence were built without an engineering survey, which means the fence wings appear to stand on private property—a gift from the city.
I said there was no public outreach, and noted the gate and fence were quickly built. Hansen countered the entire project took about five months—proving my point, as anyone who has worked on a city project can attest. Finally, Hansen claimed multiple city departments were involved, as I originally noted.
The essence of the column—that Hansen is breaking with a unanimous City Council in his quest to block public access to the Sacramento River Parkway—went unchallenged. Hansen has not explained why he opposes public access to a public treasure.
Hansen won’t speak to me, but there are ways to hold him accountable.
In upcoming columns, I plan to compare Little Pocket waterfront property ownership names with Hansen’s campaign contributors. Maybe they will match up.
And I plan to speak to Little Pocket levee homeowners and ask how they get such great service from their city councilmember.
Meantime, the rest of Hansen’s constituents get locked out—unless they have a boat or are very good swimmers.
R.E. Graswich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.
Thank you for all the time you have spent on this debacle to get our river access open like it should have been from the beginning. Thank you for all the honest reporting and transparency that you have done. It’s very refreshing and something you could teach our so-called “elected officials.”
I have followed your writing for decades and without a doubt you are one of my favorite reporters on matters that I feel everyone in Sacramento needs to hear about. You are fair, balanced and nonpartisan. I look forward to reading your articles every month!
36-year resident of Pocket neighborhood