Tretheway Aide Blasts Sac Bee Article

THE BUZZ was cc’d on the following e-mail sent to the Sac Bee reporter, Mary Lynne Vellinga, who reported and wrote last week’s front-page article about Natomas, the recent crime wave & affordable housing:

Mary Lynne—

I gave myself some time to reflect and breathe a bit before writing, but I am frankly disappointed about your article on inclusionary housing. You told me that the article would take a “global approach” to the issue of inclusionary housing. The article did not come close to that end. First, you did not quote a single person who lives in inclusionary housing, and so you failed to even look and investigate the working people of Sacramento who have benefitted from this policy. Second, you ignored facts. If you were looking at the area with the most amount of affordable housing you would have examined the central city, which has by far the highest amount of inclusionary housing in the city. Even though Sacramento police told you there is no correlation between crime and inclusionary housing, you ran a graphic showing where recent robberies took place and their proximity to complexes that offer inclusionary housing, implying there is a correlation. And finally, you ignored all the jurisdictions surrounding Sacramento and their policies. A “global approach”, and frankly a responsible journalist, would have looked at other jurisdictions in the Bee’s subscriber area to see how other jurisdictions have addressed the issues of affordable housing.

But what was most disturbing to me is the hypocrisy of the Bee. On June 17, 2008 the Bee lamented that the City of Sacramento should “take mixed-income housing citywide.” Then, a month later, the Bee declares, “Natomas crime wave raises question about low-income housing,” implying with their headline and graphics that people who live in affordable housing are the cause of a sudden increase in home invasion robberies that recently took place in Natomas, and for which police have made 12 recent arrest. I wonder why the Bee a month ago advocated for a policy that last week it is saying causes additional crime.

It is truly unfortunate that some people look at inclusionary housing as code for racist attacks, and hopefully you read some of the comments posted about your article and were equally disturbed. Take the following one by screen name “sacisforsaps”

is there any doubt….

the crime wave is roughly 75% black (I’ve given up on your race completely), 15% mexican (Yeah I know we stole Cali from you guys and it’s rightfully yours *rolls eyes*), and 10% white (those really scary whites that look like the guy on the cover of the honey combs cereal box)

I don’t know what disturbs me more…this comment, or the fact that 4 out 5 people found this comment helpful.

For some reason the Bee has committed itself to destroying the great work that the City of Sacramento as well as countless community members have done in Natomas. From your October 30, 2007 article “A paved-over plan?: In North Natomas, visions of a community neighborhood got lost in a caroriented suburb” to the most recent article about inclusionary housing, the Bee only looks at the negative sides of Natomas, and fails to point out the 38 new parks that have opened. Never mentions the Benvenuti Performing Arts Center, which is a joint project between Natomas Unified School District and the City of Sacramento that offers first rate student performance and professional performances by the Sacramento Ballet. You did not discuss the new fire station that opened, the improvements along Del Paso Road, of the nearly $4 million of capital investment in the Regional Park. You have decided that your narrative will be “Natomas is a broken promise” and take whatever data you find, not analyze it, or put it into perspective, and publish it.

And not just publish it, but on a day that Senator Barrack Obama, the presumptive Democratic Nominee for President met with General Petraeus, and Texas evacuated towns because of an incoming tropical storm, the top story on the front page of the Sacramento Bee is Natomas has affordable housing….disappointing.

But it is clear that the Bee has a real interest in Natomas, so given your commitment to a “global approach,” I think you should start to look at things globally.

Start with the attendance center that opened in Natomas . The City of Sacramento , in partnership with the Natomas School District , opened the Inderkum H.S. Attendance Center on November 27, 2007 and it ran through the school year. Below are the statistics from the Inderkum Center :

480 students brought it (over 70 of them were brought in by Patrol Officers over the last 3 months, the other students were brought in by School Resource Officers)
23 were on probation
20% 9th graders
27% 10th graders
23% 11th graders
19% 12th graders
23 – 2nd time repeat truants brought in
13 – 3rd time repeat truants
1 – 4th time repeater

1,674 students were brought into all 3 Attendance Centers

Attendance has improved at these school sites and the Sacramento Police is currently working on a comprehensive evaluation of the program.

The library that is currently under construction in North Natomas will be a great amenity for the Natomas community. This building is collaboration with Natomas Unified, the community college and the city of Sacramento . When completed the 22,645 square foot facility will not only have over 140,000 books but 49 open access computer stations, four express checkout stations, a computer lab with 36 computer stations, and a mobile lab with 20 wireless notebooks. Even though you were not able to be at the ground breaking, even though we sent you a press release, I look forward to seeing you at the grand opening in Fall, 2009.

I look forward to your coverage of these issues, and telling the whole story about inclusionary housing in the future.


Daniel Roth
District Director
Office of Councilmember Raymond L. Tretheway
915 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
phone: (916) 808-7339
fax: (916) 264-7680
[email protected]

And the reporter Mary Lynne Vellinga responds:


Thanks for your input. I of course disagree. Whether your office likes it or not, there’s a lot of worry and discontent in Natomas, both with the way the plan turned out and with the current crime trends.

Actually, I did compare Natomas to the central city in my original draft. But ultimately my editor thought the comparison to other single family neighborhoods favored by families with children was more appropriate. If you think about it objectively, I’m sure you’ll agree that she was correct.

Obviously, including all income groups in a community is a laudable goal. But we can’t put blinders on and refuse to examine any possible flaws and problems. It would be more productive, perhaps, to try to figure out what works and doesn’t, and to learn from any mistakes.

I’m going to be following up with more on inclusionary housing,
so if you or any of the other people on your lengthy CC list would like to talk to me about it, I’d love to listen.


Anyone else care to chime in?