I recently attended the groundbreaking for an exciting new project in downtown Sacramento. La Valentina is being built on a formerly polluted site that sat vacant for two decades. That’s a long time to wait to turn valuable property into something attractive and functional. When complete, La Valentina will offer 81 studios, 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments all available at below market rates. The ground floor will feature art, bicycle parking, a cafe and enhanced transit amenities. There’s a light rail stop right in front of the building meaning that the lucky residents of La Valentina won’t need a car, saving them money on gas, maintenance and insurance.
Photo courtesy of Domus Development
As one of the first regions to prepare a blueprint plan, Sacramento is ahead of the curve in planning for population growth while meeting the challenges of climate change. SB 375, a law which passed in 2008, requires regions to develop sustainable communities strategies and the Sacramento region is at the forefront of this effort. Projects like La Valentina are being encouraged throughout the state.
La Valentina provides the environmental benefits that “smart growth” advocates envision because it uses energy and water efficiently, is well-situated near transit and other services, and can reduce auto dependence. But environmental benefits are only part of the equation. Smart growth projects save money both for residents and for cities; existing infrastructure can be utilized and improved to accommodate them. Smart growth also improves health by allowing people to walk or bike, and revitalizes communities by turning vacant eyesores into attractive new homes and businesses. According to a recent survey of the next generation of home buyers, their preferences tend toward smarter growth as well. The survey found that a majority of “Gen Y” would like to be able to walk, doesn’t need large lawns, and wants common spaces where they can gather with their friends and neighbors. I’m glad that La Valentina will provide a positive housing choice for Gen Y and others who want to save money, improve their health and help the environment.