SACRAMENTO — Assemblyman Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, conducted a capital bus tour Wednesday of vacant stores and empty car lots, highlighting a controversial tax-sharing bill meant to curb urban sprawl.
Steinberg, touting a bill with statewide implications for growth, told his rolling audience of 40 supporters, “I truly believe if we don’t have the courage to change the system we’re all going to be losers in the end.”
The legislator wants metropolitan Sacramento cities and six area counties share their growth in sales taxes after 2002.
The tour showed a stretch of Florin Road, one of the city’s first major commercial streets, now struggling.
“What’s happening here is this,” said Larry Carr, representing the Florin Road Partnership. “In older commercial corridors, businesses are moving out. They’re being attracted by new shops in the suburbs. We’re left with a heck of a job keeping this a viable commercial corridor.”
Steinberg’s idea, pioneered in Minneapolis-St. Paul during the 1990s, aims to slow such blight and decay that often accompanies fast-growing metro areas. Some cities and commercial streets decline, he said, because other cities lure car lots and stores from them simply for the sales taxes.
Bill Kennedy, treasurer of Sacramento Valley Residents for Regional Solutions, called it ironic that “while jurisdictions chase the tax they are chasing it in industries with jobs that are traditionally low pay. The jobs pay $8 an hour in cities that cost $12 an hour to live.”
Steinberg’s bill, AB680, which must pass the Assembly by the end of January to stay alive, is opposed by metropolitan Sacramento’s newer cities and rural outlying towns and counties. Mayors and city council members in cities such as Folsom, Roseville and West Sacramento say it will punish them for success.
Republican legislators, Dave Cox of Fair Oaks and Tim Leslie of El Dorado and Placer counties, say they’ll fight it in the Assembly.
The tour also rolled through the university town of Davis, which has less sales tax income than most cities in metro Sacramento.
Kennedy said the tax system punishes Davis for favoring a strong downtown of small stores over a regional mall and large department stores. Davis would get more money under Steinberg’s formula.
On the Net: Read AB680 at www.assembly.ca.gov.