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Downtown Sacramento from the Capitol building. (Photo: Norcal_kt, Shutterstock)

OPINION: The State Of Downtown Sacramento

Can California’s Capitol city be saved?

By Katy Grimes, February 21, 2023 10:47 am

The Sacramento State of Downtown and the city was held Tuesday morning at the Sacramento Convention Center. With Sacramento’s downtown still hurting from Covid business lockdowns, as well as the riots of Summer 2020, city leaders are rightfully concerned with how to rejuvenate the Capitol City of California.

Traditionally, Sacramento’s downtown was where residents commuted in to the city for work, and went home at 5:00pm. Over the years, business owners in downtown Sacramento build a bustling restaurant and bar scene. Entertainment venues were refurbished and renovated, and new ones were established, balancing out Sacramento’s downtown night life.

But when Gov. Gavin Newsom locked down the entire state on March 4, 2020 over the Covid virus, followed by the 2020 riots, the grinding halt of business deeply hurt the city. Many businesses were unable to recover.

A local radio show broadcast Tuesday morning from the Convention Center and spoke with the Downtown Partnership, Convention Center management, and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg.

The Downtown Partnership and Convention Center have had a challenging time attracting events and conventions to the city, largely because the city does not have the hotel rooms to accommodate really large events and conventions. There was good news too, but only because of the Herculean efforts by these organizations.

But another issue has caused concern and isn’t going away –  the large homeless population and increasing crime.

Several downtown streets look like no-go zones with abandoned buildings and storefronts, no-tell motels, open drug and sex trade, and shady characters up to no good.

The Mayor’s interview however, was disconcerting in that rather than accepting responsibility for the state of the city, Democrat Mayor Steinberg pivoted from the huge drug-addicted homeless population and crime, to shaming business owners for not doing their part.

He said business owners really needed to step up their help to the city, and told them they need to stop focusing on “me” and focus on “we.”

Actually Mr. Mayor, no. Business owners are in the business of running a business and are not responsible for helping you clear the city of the homeless drug addicts and criminals. I recognize that your job hasn’t been particularly rewarding since you were elected, but you are the Mayor.

Sacramento business owners are suffering, as business owners in nearly every Democrat run city are, across the county: They are fighting off crime, which goes unpunished; homeless addicts stealing from them, blocking their doorways, defecating and urinating on sidewalks in front of businesses, and harassing customers and employees.

Business owners still operating have lost business because of the deplorable conditions in cities. Many are fighting to stay afloat. Many more have closed their doors.

The problem with cities is not that business owners won’t help – plenty do. The problem with cities is the Democrats who run them. Most elected officials have no empathy with business owners because they’ve never run a business or signed the front of a paycheck. It’s easy to pick on a business owner who drives a nice German car when politicians don’t know he works 7 days a week, and has as many sleepless nights. It’s easy to call business owners selfish when elected officials don’t know how many homeless people the owner tried to help, but got fed up when the last one shattered his store window or ripped him off.

Sacramento homeless living under W/X freeway offramp, April 15, 2022. (Photo: Katy Grimes for California Globe)

The Sacramento Mayor is talking about how Sacramento will need to change, but recognized that many offices full of workers will not be returning to downtown. He acknowledged that housing is an issue in Sacramento, and that it is too expensive.

The other huge issue killing Sacramento is crime which goes unpunished, thanks to Proposition 47 passed in 2014 – which then-Senator Steinberg supported. Proposition 47, passed by misinformed voters and flagrantly titled “The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act,” reduced a host of felonies to misdemeanors, including drug crimes, date rape, and all thefts under $950, even for repeat offenders who steal every day – which many do.

Prop. 47 decriminalized drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor, and also removed law enforcement’s ability to make an arrest in most circumstances, as well as removing judges’ ability to order drug rehabilitation programs rather than incarceration.

Sacramento is even being sued in a class-action lawsuit by a group of disabled citizens over homeless camps on city sidewalks.

It wasn’t enough for business owners, office workers, and mothers walking with children to complain to city officials about drug addicted vagrants blocking city sidewalks. Most people’s complaints were ignored, despite violent confrontations with homeless, and daily harassment. Businesses have even closed in the City and along the Broadway corridor citing daily dangerous confrontations and harassment of employees and patrons by homeless vagrants.

These are quality of life issues in Sacramento, and all other California cities. The State of Downtown Sacramento won’t get much better until crime is prosecuted and the homeless are in treatment centers. Everything else is window treatment. The city cannot afford to ignore this.


Homeless sleeping in the doorways of shops in Sacramento.
Homeless in Sacramento. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)
Homeless guy at 8th & N Streets, Sacramento. (Photo: Katy Grimes for California Globe)
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9 thoughts on “OPINION: The State Of Downtown Sacramento

  1. Sacramento Democrat City-County ‘leadership’ would be wise to take this reality-based inventory of the State of the City to heart, as would all the city-counties in California, all run by Dems, all with the same problems that drain citizens, business owners, and city-county coffers. So far such assessments have fallen on deaf ears —- gotta keep the money faucet gushing with cash, right? —- but we can only hope future politicians who are more sensible and resident-centered can take them up after the old crowd is swept out of office (may it happen soon). It looks like the odious Mayor Steinberg is rightly worried about how things are going —- which is SOMETHING, anyway —– but as usual he puts the blame where it doesn’t belong instead of looking the mirror. As the saying goes the solutions are simple but not easy. They require competence and persistence and common sense. But if you’re determined to do the opposite of what you should be doing —- for whatever reason — the state of our cities is only going to get worse. If that’s even possible.

  2. I grew up in the foothills just to the northeast of Sacramento and still have many friends and family that live there. So sad to see how, like so many other cities, Sacramento has been allowed to descend into sheer madness.

  3. Some of us Sacramento natives think that Mayor Darrell Steinberg and his Democrat cronies who control the City Council need to be held accountable for turning the once pleasant city of Sacramento into a crime infested hellhole with crumbling infrastructure with their leftist policies. They should also be held accountable for crimes against humanity for locking down the city during the scamdemic and for mandating experimental mRNA shots that have injured and killed thousands of innocent people. They and their souls have a lot to answer for?

  4. As Katy noted, Sacramento Mayor Steinberg and Democrats in California have no empathy with business owners because almost all of them have never run a business or signed the front of a paycheck. Has Darrell Steinberg ever had a real job other than being in government? He’s like the rest of the Democrat cabal in California who keep getting installed into different political positions usually with voter fraud and rigged voting machines? It’s time for him to stop being a burden on taxpayers and get a real job?

  5. Sacramento is a microcosm of California.
    Ever since democrats altered election rules with jungle primaries and sending ballots to “last known address” and high illegal immigration and amnestys, the quality of leadership has fallen. Regardless of whether Steinburg is good or bad, has his tenure led to improving city live and happiness? Obviously not. Why is he still there if he is ineffective?
    We have so much crime and chaos, local TV news only has time for murders and weather!

  6. I’m fine with leaving the solutions to the business owners as long as they are allowed to do what’s necessary. There was the recent “outrage” over the guy spraying a degenerate woman with a hose because she was being aggressive about not moving. If you’re going to leave the dirty work to others to handle, don’t be surprised when it’s not done in a manner you may not like. I recently went to a shoe store here in Sac that posts an armed guard wearing plates at the door. It’s not the most welcoming sight, but it’s what’s become necessary. It’s what is done all over third world countries (don’t be surprised when the guard is holding a rifle), which is pretty much what California has become.

  7. I haven’t been to downtown Sacramento in 30 years but when I was there, it had a beautiful, thriving downtown area. The park in front of the capital was awesome. Please don’t tell me that it is now looks like a 3rd world country.

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