A couple of challenges, including the pandemic and homelessness, have converged to create issues for Sacramento’s downtown.
Sacramento Business Journal Digital Editor Sonya Sorich spoke with CapRadio’s Mike Hagerty to explain what’s happening.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
On local business leaders asking the city of Sacramento to step up public safety efforts
Fifty-nine business leaders signed a letter that was delivered to Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s office this week. The letter, which was delivered by the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, warned local leaders of “growing anxiety over public safety, cleanliness and other quality of life issues” in downtown Sacramento.
Businesses that signed the letter include executives from the Sacramento Kings, VSP Global and Dignity Health.
They say public safety issues threaten businesses currently operating in the central city and their ability to recover during the pandemic.
On homelessness downtown, and if the pandemic has exacerbated the issue
The executive director of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership says the area has seen not only a growing population of homeless people but also an influx of people who were let out of the Sacramento County Main Jail on bail.
He said mental health issues and aggressive behavior are becoming increasingly prevalent downtown.
On police response, and if there have been more arrests
Arrests in downtown Sacramento are lower this year compared to 2019, according to data from the Sacramento Police Department, but the downtown partnership's executive director said that by other statistics, such as vandalism, the situation is worsening.
This comes amid a significant drop in foot traffic downtown during the pandemic, with people working from home and events at Golden 1 Center being put on hold. Many businesses in the area have taken a financial hit from the pandemic, and now it appears public safety issues are posing another challenge.
On what the businesses want the city to do
Basically, the letter is urging the city to put new investment into public health and safety. That includes clearing public right-of-ways, removing unsafe encampments, and increasing the number of police officers downtown, among other things.
On if the city has responded to the letter
Steinberg said he’s embracing the challenge. He wants the response to include a combination of law enforcement and efforts from the newly created Office of Community Response.
Meanwhile, as activity remains slow downtown, things will likely remain uncertain for many businesses.
On local businesses announcing plans to close
Ambrosia is permanently closing its second cafe downtown, which is on Capitol Mall. That cafe, which was popular among downtown workers, will have its final day next week.
It follows the permanent closure of an Ambrosia location on K Street downtown, but even as businesses struggle, many notable construction projects are still moving forward. We wrote about some of those projects this week, including the new Natural Resources Building, which is set for completion next year.
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