Longtime residents of Sacramento have watched as our Oak Park neighbors have dealt with multiple challenges over the past decades. Crime, depressed property values, unemployment, lack of access to healthy food and more, have weighed heavily on the neighborhood. Nonetheless, a growing group of residents with a vision for their neighborhood have carried on, building partnerships and achieving small victories. Working together with persistence and patience, their vision is coming into focus.
The Oak Park Farmers Market is a great example of how small beginnings can lead to big things. The market began selling produce on a vacant lot on Broadway across the street from Old Soul Coffee. When the market needed to find a permanent home after the lot they were using was slated for development, I worked with the City to realign funding to build their current facility at McClatchy Park. It’s become more than a Saturday market, – it is a community meeting place!
Before the new Farmers Market facility was completed, the opportunity arose to apply for a Prop 84 grant from the state to rebuild McClatchy Park. It was a very competitive grant process. One of the strengths of our application was leveraging the recent activities of our neighborhood revitalization effort (the WayUp initiative) as well as demonstrating how the Farmers Market would help close the gaps in food access for the neighborhood, while also bringing community residents into the park. We were awarded the grant, and construction has started on the $2.8 million dollar renovation. The new play elements will be based on the original “Joy Land” amusement park that was the original focus of the park. The official ground breaking ceremony is April 26th (please join us from 10-1, if you can), and it’s also opening day for the Farmers Market.
In the spirit of persistence and vision, I’d like to also share a significant project I have been working on for the past two years. Beginning as an idea/concept and built through partnerships, I have worked to develop a health innovation zone connected to our major hospital systems. The “Med Zone” has the potential to bring thousands of high-paying jobs to our City. My hope is that we can anchor much of this job growth along Stockton Boulevard and capitalize on the groundbreaking research taking place at UC Davis Medical Center.
I am working with each of the major health systems, the Metro Chamber, Sacramento Area Commerce Trade Organization (SACTO), Sacramento Regional Technology Alliance (SARTA) and more, to incentivize entrepreneurial activity aligned with our education system. I am hoping to create the demand for jobs and the supply of a locally educated workforce. Additionally, the project has been made an official “proof point” for the region’s Next Economy economic development strategy. In early April, we expect to complete our second level of analysis, which will include our next actionable steps for implementation.
Finally, thanks to all who responded to my question about whether or not the City should ban outdoor patio smoking in Sacramento restaurants.
In addition to his council duties, Jay works as an independent consultant and policy advisor on education reform and youth policy and strategies.