Guest Column: An Update On The North Natomas Finance Plan & Why YOU Should Care

Update: Click on “comments” below to read Councilman Ray Tretheway’s response to this column.

By Ken Stevenson

Far from being just another bureaucratic process, the updating of the North Natomas Finance Plan – currently underway – should be of great interest to all North Natomas residents. The result will have a direct impact on whether or not the promise of North Natomas – a well-planned, interconnected community with a wealth of parks and other public amenities – becomes a reality.

If you’re not familiar with the NNFP, it’s the mechanism that funds much of our infrastructure, from roads and bike paths to fire stations and community centers. Developers pay into the plan according to a fee schedule as they develop their properties.

Every few years, a working group – made up of city staff, developers, and (now) residents – convenes to adjust the fee schedule to ensure enough funds will be collected to pay for what remains to be built. Because construction costs have risen so much in the last few years, the city initially figured the fees would need to be increased by 66% just to stay even.

The developers were alarmed by the prospects of such a large increase and put great pressure on city staff to minimize it. An early proposal would have raised fees by only 11%, by eliminating funding for some items or shifting their costs to other potential or unidentified sources.

Many essential facilities – a second fire station (on the west side of I-5), a police substation, and a community center – would remain unfunded. The proposal would have greatly benefited the developers, but the burdens would have all fallen on the residents.

Not satisfied with this dismal scenario, a group of North Natomas residents, led by Chris Paros, formed the North Natomas Community Coalition to work with Councilmember Ray Tretheway and city staff to develop a much more equitable plan. The new plan would raise fees by about 23%, still much less than full funding.

More importantly, it would shift priorities to fully fund two currently-unfunded facilities the community really needs and cares about: the second fire station (possibly combined with a police substation) and the first community center.

But the success of this proposal is far from guaranteed. At a July 9 working group meeting, developer representatives made it clear they were not happy with the plan and would likely fight it when it comes before the City Council in August.

It will take the strong support of the community – through letters, e-mails, and phone calls; and by showing up at City Council meetings – to ward off the developers’ attacks by convincing the Council that the plan is a fair one. They need to hear from us that the proposal is well-balanced and a good deal for everyone.

Be sure to watch The Buzz for further developments, and make your voice heard when the time comes!

Ken Stevenson is a Natomas resident who has participated in the North Natomas Finance Plan meetings.


  1. Thanks for posting this much needed update

    “…to ward off the developers’ attacks by convincing the Council that the plan is a fair one…”

    So let me get this right, the city SOLD all of us homeowners on the plan, the developers flaked out, and now WE, the overtaxed homeowners, need to show up to city council meetings to convince the city council less than *HALF* the plan they originally sold us is *FAIR*???

    Either I am a complete idiot (which I am not ruling out, don’t worry), or this is the most preposterous thing I have ever heard.

    I’d really like to get some clarification on this before I blast it all over my web site and up having to eat another plate of crow ;)

    Thanks Buzz and Ken

  2. Anonymous says

    Also, what about the supplemental (and I do mean mental) taxes we are paying for public safety augmentation? Any relation to this? Any word on those taxes?

  3. Angelique says

    This is very important work you guys are doing Ken – it could very likely be the catalyst to help change the future for North Natomas.

    Buzz – thanks for being such a tremendous source….

    Ken – please keep us updated so we can be ready when it is time to head for City Hall.


  4. Michalita says

    Ditto Joe. Am I missing something here? Why can developers simply renege on their contractual obligation? I’m sitting here in my Natomas home writing this as I hear a police helicopter circle my neighborhood looking for a shooting suspect. I’d like one of the developers to come camp out in our neighborhood for a week and see just how empty and lawless this area can become without the proper community and security measures that were promised from the start.

    What a shame that the developers feel they can’t cough up the dough; our plummeting home values and safety are going to cut far deeper into their profits in the long run if this is no longer a desirable place to live and raise families.

  5. Thanks, Buzz for getting this info out. You and JoeSac are the best when it comes to Natomas news!

    It is preposterous! Incredibly so.

    Since 2001 I’ve held up my end by paying my property taxes, HOA dues *and* mortgage on time, without fail.

    We need to make sure our community gets the services we need (and were promised and are already paying for).

    Even if it means storming City Council meetings. We can’t sit idly on this. We pulled it together en masse for the June 30th crime meeting. We’re certainly strong enough to see this through with letters, calls and attendance to City Council meetings.

  6. “The developers were alarmed by the prospects of such a large increase and put great pressure on city staff to minimize it.”

    After years of being alarmed by such a large increase of developer skullduggery in our area, it’s kind’ve nice to see that the developers can get spooked too.

    At the same time though, we need to be on top of this or that huge increase will fall in our laps. We’ve been shown no reason to believe otherwise.

  7. Anonymous says

    Ken, this is a wonderful summary of months of hard work on your (and the committees part).

    People, you are right it is not ideal and not as much as we deserve. While no one was watching, the fees were not as high as they should have been for years (the good years by developer standards). BUT, thanks to the commitment of a few residents, we are getting double what the City would have asked for. Now we have to show up and support what others have fought for.


  8. “Since 2001 I’ve held up my end by paying my property taxes, HOA dues *and* mortgage on time, without fail.”

    Amen to that!

    I understand everything about the developer fees, the cost of new constr, the hard work Natomas residents have put in to get double what we were going to get, etc etc etc etc

    Got it.


    What I am struggling to get my mind around is why in the world residents would need to “convince” the council to see the developers’ and their own commitments through..?

    Is the council in denial? Are they still clueless about the broken commitments to Natomas homeowners? Do they feel ANY shame? Guilt? Embarrassment? Humility? Anything? Do they really need US to persuade them to approve a mere THIRD of what we were originally promised?

    This would seem like such a no brainer (approving every possible PENNY for Natomas services). Ray Tretheway–the supposed champion of Natomas–should be stomping mad, and calling attention to this SCANDAL every opportunity he can. But what is he doing? He’s SUPPORTING the most shortsighted public safety tax ever concocted, one that doesn’t even offer any concrete relief to embattled N Natomas residents. Yeah, he’s a nice guy. Great. That means nothing. He has proven he is not willing to FIGHT HARD for our neighborhoods. He needs prodding, poking, and even kicking and screaming to get anything done. He and Fargo are the most REACTIVE leaders I have ever seen in public office. Talk about firefighting-mode-leadership-style. Lucky us.

    The city council (esp FARGO) should be fighting for us! N Natomas was THEIR design, not ours. And these greedy developers? Do you realize how many millionaires were made from N Natomas build out (20 yr plan condensed to 6 yrs)? Wow. What do WE have to show for all those MILLIONS? Broken bike trails? Weeds all over the place? Thugs roaming our neighborhoods? Blogs whose featured highlights are Q&A with Police Captains (Buzz) and Police Scanner reports (Joe Sac)? Worst cop-to-resident ratio in all of Sac?

    Sorry, but given the circumstances, I would argue anyone on the effectiveness of diplomacy at this point. I disagree with that approach. Too late for that. Heads should be rolling. People should be losing their jobs.

    Do we need a model for a change? Ask Rocklin residents how they feel about broken commitments and unilateral city council behavior that lets developers off the hook. Check out The recalls are just getting started.

    I don’t think diplomacy is going to get N Natomas where it needs to be to be the community we envision. These out of touch bureaucrats are only making the “minimum monthly payment” to Natomas and we are the only ones who care about its future.The developers are even worse. This is not a game of mini golf any more. This is hard ball. And I think at some point soon we pick up a bat and step up to the plate. Count me in.

  9. Anonymous says


    Thank you so much for getting the word out on the North Natomas Finance Plan. When the process began I wanted to ensure that community members were very much a part, and that we worked collaboratively, on the update. First, I want to thank Mark Griffin, the City’s Public Improvement Finance Director, who worked with community members over four Saturdays on putting together the updated finance plan, and I also want to thank River City Bank, who opened up their community room free of charge so we could use it for community outreach.

    When developers pull building permits to build in North Natomas, a portion of that fee goes into the North Natomas Finance Plan. The finance plan contains financing for all of the capital investments for North Natomas. The finance plan contains everything from signals at intersections, to roads, to drainage basins, to the city’s share of the North Natomas Library. The finance plan is audited every year by an independent firm to ensure that all the money collected in North Natomas stays in North Natomas and that the money, and the interest made on the money, is spent accordingly.

    When adopted, the finance plan assumed that some projects would be partially or fully financed through “other resources.” This includes state and federal grants, such as the $5 million state grant that the city received for the North Natomas Library, and the city’s general fund, which includes the $1.5 million from the city’s Community Reinvestment Capital Improvement Program (CRCIP) that has gone into funding the paths and landscaping in the North Natomas Regional Park.

    Our goal in this update was to put together a realistic finance plan that reflected the needs of North Natomas as more people have moved in. When the finance plan was originally adopted in 1997, before I was elected to the city council, we expected the city’s general fund to cover the cost of building the second fire station West of I-5 at Arena Boulevard and El Centro Road and provide additional funding for the North Natomas Community Center, located near the Regional Park across from the North Natomas Library, which is now under construction.

    This year I knew that we needed to ensure these projects would be fully funded, and working alongside community members the updated plan that city staff will present to the city council includes full financing for the fire station. The plan also collected funds for a portion of a police substation, and we are exploring having the police and fire station be a joint-use facility, and begin planning the facility once the plan is adopted by city council. The finance plan will also contain full financing for the North Natomas Community Center, which we will soon begin planning.

    At this point it looks like the finance plan will be heard at city council in late August or early September, and the council will definitely look forward to hearing from you about your support of the proposal. I will let you know as soon as we confirm the date that we will hear the item and provide you with time to write, email and call the other members of the city council to let them know your opinion.

    In the meantime, I wish everyone a wonderful weekend.


    Ray Tretheway
    Councilmember, District 1

  10. Mr Tretheway, pardon my ignorance but why would you put the mixed use fire/police facility over on the other side of I-5, miles and miles away from the plethora of low income housing you have piled in N Natomas? THIS is where we need the police outpost, not over in Westlake area where they don’t have issues we do. Now you have emergency shelter and very low income housing going in about a stone’s throw from the only high quality school in the district!

    Oh wait– I know, because the fire department can’t be that close to the one on CC Drive. Got it. Lucky us. Another example of unbelievably poor planning.

    Sorry, but I am offended by the use of the term “Master planned community” to describe ANY aspect of N Natomas.

    Also, I really wish you’d stop telling the press “People tell me they are eating Natomas up.” I do NOT feel like that at ALL. Myself and many others have anything but a rosy perception of this community. My children have been ATTACKED by thug teens on more than one occasion, I have been accosted by teens in the Raley’s parking lot, our car has been vandalized twice, and my wife has been disrespected on multiple occasions now in our great parks. And we’re sick of helicopters over our house nearly every night searching for shotgun brandishing thugs.

    Enough of the sweet talk. Time to start PUTTING IN WORK in N Natomas and making this the true “future of Sacramento” we were promised it would be.

    Thank you for posting your message and reading ours


  11. Anonymous says

    Um, why do we have to come to the city council meeting to sell the council on the merits of the NNFP? I am really confused.

    How about this Councilperson Tretheway: REPRESENT US TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY. Tell the council we are getting the screws put to us over here. Read them Joe Sac’s Natomas Crime Blotter.

    Do you really need our help?


    That is our desire.

    We don’t want a PENNY LESS than what is humanly possible.

    Thanks and good luck. We’ll expect a full report back.

  12. Anonymous says

    CP Tretheway: where are all the family and community building venues in N Natomas? Roller skating? Bowling? Mini golf? Sun Splash? Gyms for public use? Softball fields with lights for full leagues?

    All the council gave us was skateboard park and frisbee golf?

    Are you serious?

    This is the future of Sacramento?


  13. Anonymous says

    I am still a bit confused, can someone clarify this, Ray says nothing about the fact that developers want to pay less for capital improvements, are developers fighting the fact that the plan fully funds fire and the community center and don’t want to fund police. Do their percentage of payment cover adequate costs of these projects? What happens if the finance plan is rejected at council. Will developers lobby to have this finance plan defeated? Other cities don’t have such complex plans, in Folsom or Rocklin, a developer just pays for capital improvements in order to build something, it is not some lame 30 year plan that allows developers to wiggle and not conform to obligations, and allowing them to profit greatly, but not add improvements they agreed to.

  14. Yes yes yes. It should be more than obvious by now that developers have had their way with our community. Apparently this is why we are being asked to come defend the plan.

    People will say, oh Joe, you’re an idiot, it’s more complicated than that. But see, that’s the problem, like anon said above. it should NOT be that complicated.

    We’re not so ignorant that we are oblivious to the fact that the city is in severe stop-the-bleeding mode right now. Understood. Soon-to-be-200-million-deficit does not a happy budget year make. Got it. But that’s not our problem. That’s yours, Tretheway. No matter WHEN the plan was hatched YOU own it, dude. 199&? 1907? Who cares. YOU are the guy who signed up to represent us. When are you going to start??

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