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Guest Opinion: Housing is not what Sylvan Corners needs

By Brad Staplin–
As a 6th generation native of Citrus Heights, and whose family once owned the land where the old Sylvan school sat, I applaud the City Council for the courage to reject the 94-home subdivision being proposed for the site.

Brad Staplin

The council rejected the old standard being sold by developers and old-school community planners, that the only way to improve a city is to build more homes. The three members of the council who rejected this project have shown that they are not beholden to developers and have the residents’ best interests in mind.

It is important to remember that the City Planning Department is employed by the residents of the City of Citrus Heights, not by developers, and not by “credentialed and licensed consultants” who have a financial interest in development. Their job is not to appease developers, the Planning Commission, or former members of the Planning Commission.

It has been clear since this property was purchased by the city that the residents want the site to be used for something beneficial to the community, and 94 homes crammed into that small of a site would not benefit the current residents in any way. If the Planning Department read the online comments and listened to the residents who attended the meetings, they would have seen that there must be some type of community benefit to justify the city purchasing this site.

I realize that the state is putting immense pressure on local governments to establish more housing and that the city is limited in open space to develop more homes. But this particular site was once the home of the first public school in the community and is located in the center of what was the start of Citrus Heights as a community.

The land was dedicated for community use, it is in the general plan for public use and should remain in some way a benefit to the community. More specifically, it should benefit the community’s youth as it has since 1862. The majority of the residents who have responded to outreach approve of the site being used for this purpose. A plan with at least some portion of the property being used for youth sports, youth outreach, or a combination of youth services would have a much longer impact on our community than homes.

I look forward to what the city planners come up with next. Ideally, they will listen to the residents and find a way to both benefit the community and enhance the overall appeal to the area.

The solution may be a combination of a youth-oriented site and housing, but hopefully, it will not be another short-sighted attempt to slam as many homes as possible into a site that is rich in the history of the community of Citrus Heights.

Brad Staplin is a 6th generation native of Citrus Heights who attended Citrus Heights Elementary, Sylvan Middle School, and Mesa Verde High School. He is a past member of the SJUSD FT&F committee and has volunteered with multiple youth sports associations.

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