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Council Sides With Curtis Park Over Gas Station Debate After Hours Of Impassioned Pleas

  

After five hours of testimony Tuesday night, the Sacramento City Council voted against adding a gas station to a Curtis Park development. Council chambers were packed with people who supported or opposed the gas station.

Developer Paul Petrovich told the city council a 16-pump Safeway gas station is a critical part of the $211 million Curtis Park Village and that Safeway would leave the project if the station were not approved.  

"This project, with its fuel fits perfectly within the planned-unit development that was negotiated with Curtis Park and adopted in 2010 by this council."

Safeway has promised hiring priority for people from Oak Park who apply for jobs. Pastor Larry Meeks say they're union jobs and too valuable to pass up.

"Jobs gives a chance in life. Jobs solve social problem. Jobs foster education. It goes on and on and on."

But, many people, like Katie Valenzuela Garcia say the gas station would not encourage environmentally-friendly transportation.

"This is a classic environmental justice paradigm that they're giving us, "Sure, we'll meet your social need in exchange for this big environmental compromise and we do not support that."

Councilman Jay Schenirer represents both Oak Park and Curtis Park. He says the original 2010 agreement for a store without a gas station should be honored.

"There was not a gas station on the table in those discussions and knowing the neighborhood as well as I do, I don't think there ever would have been an agreement had that been part of the discussion."

Todd Paradise of Safeway told the council the company's real estate committee does not support a store in Curtis Park without a gas station partly because it fears a retailer down the street might add one.

"We don't believe there's enough business without the draw of the gas station for the store to be successful which is why we won't move forward without it."

Schenirer says the fear is unfounded.

"Raley's is not putting in a gas station. If they can make it as a union shop without a gas station on Freeport Boulevard, I would  hope Safeway can do the same thing."

The council voted 7-2 against the gas station. Some council members cited the possible loss of mass transit dollars if the station were approved.

Council members Larry Carr and Allen Warren said there was not enough evidence to make them oppose the proposal. 

Mayor Kevin Johnson closed the discussion by getting Petrovich and Safeway's Paradise to agree to further discuss how a Safeway store might still open without a gas station in Curtis Park.

The development is 72 acres, would have 259,000 square feet of retail space, would employ 1600 people during construction and would employ 520 in stores and shops.

Bob Moffitt

Sacramento Region Reporter

Bob is the Sacramento Region Reporter. He has been at the forefront of the coverage of the Sacramento Kings' saga and the effort to build a new arena in Sacramento. He also covers education, business, environment, and sports stories.   Read Full Bio