Sunrise Mall Faces Impacts

Story and Photo by Jacqueline Fox  |  2017-04-20
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“What I can say is that I’m very excited by what I’ve seen so far,” said Car-penter. She pointed out that what does happen next for Sunrise Mall will im-pact, not only its retailers and their employees, but all BID stakeholders.

Store Closures, Local and Cultural Shopping Shifts

With new management and development plans in play, as well as the closing of several smaller retailers and potential closure of Sears, Macy’s and even JCPenney looming, all eyes are on the future of Sunrise Mall, which, like many enclosed malls nationwide, is struggling for survival due in part to growing competition from online retailers, but also demand for so-called “power centers” offering outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment “experiences.”

Enclosed shopping malls, many built in the 1970s, have been shutting down for several years, earning the moniker of “Dead Malls” as their big-box anchor stores like Sears, Macy’s and JCPenney have packed up and left due to shrinking foot traffic amidst rising online retail competition, most currently from companies such as Amazon. The three stores announced a collective closure of some 300 locations this year with more to follow. Additionally, Kmart announced it will close 108 stores.

Although Sears, Macy’s and JCPenney remain open at Sunrise Mall, the mass closures, many industry followers predict, have essentially pre-written their company obituaries. To combat diminishing in-store sales, JCPenney restructured its focus in late 2016, moving in on Sears’ territory with the announcement it would begin selling home appliances in time for the holiday shopping season. JCP’s Sephora “shop-in-shops” and coupon-driven sales are believed to be fueling strong quarterly sales for the company, but it’s not clear whether the push into appliances can have any long-term impact.

Big box retailers aside, a number of smaller stores in Sunrise Mall have also closed over the last few years, leaving prime locations, two adjacent to Sears and as many as three located in the mall’s entryway, vacant. Most recently, Pennsylvania-based teen retailer Rue 21 announced plans to shutter 400 of its stores due to declining foot traffic. The Sunrise Mall location is currently in liquidation mode and believed to be set for closure within the month.

“We don’t how long we have to stay open exactly, probably about a month,” said one sales associate at Rue 21 who did not want to disclose her name.

It’s not only that shoppers have stopped spending their money in stores and now buy everything online. In fact, the decline of the enclosed mall has been ongoing for years nationwide, as many are being replaced with so-called “power centers,” offering upscale and fast-casual eateries, multi-cinema movie theaters, outdoor strolling space and even park-like play areas for families, typically anchored by retail darlings Target and Best Buy.

Take the Westfield Galleria at Roseville, for example, one of the largest and busiest malls in Northern California with 240 shops and restaurants, which include high-end stores like Tiffany & Co., Nordstrom, Juicy Couture and Lucky Brand Jeans, supported by the adjacent Fountains at Roseville, touted online as a “Lifestyle Center” offering shops and scores of restaurants.

“Things have definitely been on the downward trend here,” says Mathew Kramer, who manages a small retail store in Sunrise Mall but requested not to identify the store per company policy. Kramer has worked at Sunrise for nine years, but also remembers when the mall was built, back when it was the place to meet up with friends. Millennials, however, and those in the generation behind them have significantly different designs on how to spend their money and the experience they have doing it. Apparently, so do their parents.

“I grew up riding my bike to this mall, or walking to the bowling alley across the street for field trips,” said Kramer. “It used to be the place I’d go with my friends, but now everyone wants to shop online or they go to Roseville to be outside. They want to have that whole entertainment experience.”

New York-based Spinoso Real Estate Group took over management of the mall in 2016 and is reported to be working on long-range development plans for Sunrise. The company’s web site lists the development of retail power centers among its project resume.

Calls to Spinoso’s corporate offices for comment on its plans for Sunrise, as well as requests for data on first quarter occupancy rates and foot traffic were not returned. But it doesn’t take hard numbers to confirm the slowdown. On any given day, the vast majority of parking spots not directly in front of the main entrance to the mall on Sunrise Boulevard sit vacant. In addition to the half a dozen or so closed shops inside, several retail kiosks dotting the mall’s center corridor also are vacant.

Kathilynn Carpenter is executive director of the Sunrise Marketplace Business Improvement District (BID), which is comprised of some 400 stores, restaurants and services located along the Sunrise Boulevard and Greenback Lane business corridor, including the mall. She agreed Sunrise is struggling amidst a changing demand for something beyond long, enclosed rows of shops and a shift toward online shopping. She is privy to some of the planning for Sunrise and did say “improvements” were involved, but Carpenter declined to elaborate on what those plans look like.

“It is true that many of the retailers are overstocked and now that issue is coming home to roost,” said Carpenter. She added that the trend is focused on what she termed “experiential” shopping options, but declined to say if Spinoso was planning on one of its power centers for the mall.

“What I can say is that I’m very excited by what I’ve seen so far,” said Carpenter, before downplaying any wholesale demise of the mall. She pointed out that what does happen next for Sunrise Mall will impact, not only its retailers and their employees, but all BID stakeholders.

“I can tell you that everyone who is a member of the BID has the best interest of the mall mind,” Carpenter said.

Citrus Heights City Manager Chris Boyd has said publicly that the city is “retail heavy,” adding that Spinoso’s long-term plans for the mall are going to be a game-changer that may potentially involve a mixed-use development with housing and retail.

On Monday, Boyd declined to discuss Spinoso’s plans. “I’ve got nothing new to add yet, but I know the new owners have some exciting ideas on the table,” he said.


California’s Economic Output Outpaces Nation for Fourth Straight Year

By George Runner, State Board of Equalization  |  2017-04-21

George Runner, State Board of Equalization

California’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown consistently faster than the nation’s as a whole for four straight years. In 2015, the California GDP rose 5.6 percent, while the U.S. GDP increased 3.7 percent (unadjusted for inflation). Also called “economic output,” GDP measures the market value of goods, services, and structures that are produced within a particular period, and tends to be related to population, income, spending, employment, housing permits, and other measures of economic activity.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the New York-Newark-Jersey City metropolitan area led the nation with an economic output of about $1.603 trillion in 2015. California was represented by two of the top 10 areas: Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim ($930.8 billion), and San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward ($431.7 billion). The Los Angeles metropolitan area accounts for 37.9 percent of California’s GDP, while the San Francisco Bay Area comprises 17.6 percent. The Sacramento-Roseville region accounts for 4.8 percent ($118.8 billion).

San Jose has been the fastest growing metropolitan area within California – and the second fastest in the U.S. – with stronger economic growth than 380 of the nation’s 382 metropolitan areas in 2015. With growth rates that ranged from 5.0 percent to 10.4 percent over the past five years, the San Jose area had the largest increase in that time frame – 37.6 percent – more than 60 percent higher than the California average gain of 23.1 percent, for a total GDP of more than $235 billion. The state’s second-largest increase was in the Visalia-Porterville area – 32.4 percent – followed by Merced (30.2 percent), Napa (29.6 percent) and Madera (28.1 percent). The Hanford-Corcoran area also finished above the state average (24.2 percent). Both the Chico and Sacramento-Roseville areas had strong showings in 2015, ranking fourth and fifth in the state respectively in GDP growth.

One way to compare economic wellbeing among regions is to calculate inflation-adjusted GDP per capita. Real economic output per capita in the San Jose area was close to twice that of the California average in 2015. Other areas with higher than average per capita real GDP include San Diego, and Napa.

George Runner represents the First District and is a leading advocate for California taxpayers.


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Patrouille de France Soars High at Mather

By Shelly Lembke  |  2017-04-21

The Patrouille de France are one of the world’s most senior demonstration teams and have flown Dassault/Dornier Alpha light attack jets since 1981 and are renown worldwide for their skill and expertise. 
-- Photo by Jose Lopez

Mather Airport played host last Saturday, April 15 to France’s top military pilots when the “Patrouille de France” came to town. A crowd of at least 5,000 spectators and French and American dignitaries turned out to see the French pilots and aircraft perform during the historically significant show.

The Mather event was the only west coast appearance of the French Air Force’s elite military jet demonstration team, during its 8 U.S. city run. The day was sponsored by the City of Rancho Cordova and the California Capital Airshow (CCA). The Patrouille de France, in conjunction with the City and CCA, orchestrated the single performance in honor of the 100th anniversary of the US entering World War I, and as a lead in to the centennial celebrations of Mather Air Field, which opened in 1918.

The Patrouille de France flies Dassault/Dornier Alphas, used as light attack jets in combat and also training missions. The planes have been co-developed and manufactured in France by Dassault Aviation and Dornier Flugzeugwerke in Germany. Other craft were also on display for visitors to see up close, as well as a variety of exhibits. Food trucks and merchandise to commemorate the event were available for purchase.

California Capital Airshow Executive Director Darcy Brewer called the event, “a tribute from our French allies to the American heroes of World War I and a rare opportunity to experience this world class air force up close and personal.”

The Patrouille de France performance serves as a herald for this year’s 2017 California Capital Airshow, taking place September 9 and 10 at Mather. The CCA was established in 2004 and is dedicated to community enrichment and educational youth programs and scholarships, encouraging aeronautical science and engineering.

For more information about the airshow, performers, programs and tickets, please visit www.californiacapitalairshow.com.


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Gaines Launches Effort to Repeal Gas Tax

Source: The Office of Ted Gaines  |  2017-04-20

Senator Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado) has stepped up to repeal the Democrat’s recent huge gas tax. He has issued following statements regarding his effort to repeal Senate Bill 1, the transportation proposal recently passed by the legislature that imposes $52 billion in permanent new gas taxes and user fees on California motorists.

“I will be exploring every possible avenue to repeal the gas tax, whether it’s through legislation, an initiative to change or eliminate other gas taxes, or other courses of action. I am going to fight to overturn this unfair and regressive tax and get some justice for the California families and businesses that are getting nickeled and dimed to death.

“The Governor has compared fixing our roads with the urgency of fixing a leaky roof. Well guess what Governor Brown, Californians have already paid to fix the roof but the repairs have not been made and we’re all wondering why we’re left paying for the same service twice.

“And how are the people supposed to believe that this money will actually go to transportation? Currently, the state is diverting a billion dollars in weight fees away from roads every year. According to a recent Legislative Analyst’s Office report, CalTrans is overstaffed by 3,500 people wasting $500 million of road money every year. Why would anyone believe that this new tax isn’t a bait and switch sham where the funds won’t be diverted to pay for pet projects like the High-Speed Rail boondoggle?

“We already have some of the highest gas taxes and worst roads in the country. For years, we’ve starved transportation when we’ve had many billions in surplus, even though it was supposedly a ‘system in crisis.’ Before we take a single penny from Californians in new taxes, it is our duty to make 100-percent certain that we are spending the money we already collect exclusively on road repair and construction. Senate Bill 1 failed to do that and I’m going to make every attempt to make it right.”

Senator Ted Gaines represents the 1st Senate District, which includes all or parts of Alpine, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Shasta, Sierra and Siskiyou counties.


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Captain Shawn Condit Named Firefighter Employee of the Year

Sac Metro Fire Special Release, By Deputy Chief Eric Bridge  |  2017-04-20

(L to R) Mark Creffield, executive director of the Citrus Heights Chamber of Commerce, Captain Shawn Condit and Deputy Chief Eric Bridge

Captain Shawn Condit began his fire service career with American River Fire Department on August 4, 1990. In 2000, American River Fire District and Sacramento County Fire Protection District merged to become the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District, also known as Metro Fire. Shawn is the Truck Captain at Fire Station 109 where he oversees a truck crew of three firefighters. Station 109 is located in the Carmichael community and is unique in that this is where the Hazardous Materials unit is housed. Captain Condit coordinates the Hazardous Materials program for our department.

Throughout his career, Captain Condit has demonstrated leadership on multiple levels. Aside from being an excellent company officer, he has been a leader in the Hazardous Materials Program. His tenure in the program provides the stability needed while offering training opportunities for his crew. Captain Condit and his crew willingly take on new employees and are often called upon by the training cadre to work with academies and probationary employees. When these new individuals spend time with his crew, they are provided with a positive experience and given information that will hopefully move them down the road through the process. In addition to all his regular responsibilities at the station, Captain Condit must maintain his Hazardous Materials certification, putting added responsibility upon himself.

In addition to his hard work at Metro Fire, Captain Condit serves as a Metro Director with the Sacramento Area Firefighters Local 522 union. This is an elected position by his peers. Shawn has held a position within the Union for over 10 years. He is an acknowledged leader within the union, and over the last 10 years he has moved up the ranks, starting out as a shift representative and eventually moving into the elected position he currently holds. He continues to do an outstanding job of representing the union members of our organization.

As Metro Director, Captain Condit represents the membership in many different ways. During our last contract negotiation, Captain Condit demonstrated calm, consistent leadership during the negotiation and confirmation process, acting as the facilitator for these meetings. He allowed for spirited but respectful debate. During these meetings, he is often involved in matters that are sensitive in nature and does not violate confidence. It is this trustworthiness that makes him an excellent Union officer and, by extension, Company Officer.

As a Union leader he takes a positive role in a needed position. Often times, employees are referred to him by management. His ability to listen fully to their problems and then calmly and positively advise them on a course of action tends to benefit both the department and the member. He acts in the best traditions of Union leadership and through this process, the matter is often resolved at the lowest level.

To be a leader, particularly as a firefighter, your work ethic must be self-evident. Since an outstanding work ethic is common at Metro Fire it is difficult to point out where one employee’s efforts are better than another, however in the case of Captain Condit he stands out each and every day. Many excellent company officers come to work and do their assignments and perform admirably, but taking a leadership position in the Union and Haz Mat program shows that Captain Shawn Condit is willing to give of himself to this department and its members. He is well respected within the Department, the Union and his crew.

Fire Chief Todd Harms was honored to name Captain Shawn Condit as Metro Fire’s 2016 Suppression Employee of the Year.


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RT Financials Showing Positive Trend for Fiscal Year 2018

Source: Sacramento Regional Transit District Media  |  2017-04-20

The Sacramento Regional Transit District (Sac RT) has been relentlessly optimizing business practices over the past eight months to bring its financial house in order, and the positive results are very encouraging. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, Sac RT is trending below budget. This has allowed Sac RT to develop a budget for FY 2018 that is expected to be $1.6 million less than the prior year.

 Additionally, by working diligently over the past year with rating agencies, last week Sac RT received great news from Moody’s, a bond credit rating service, that upgraded Sac RT’s bond rating from “negative” watch to “stable” outlook, which will help Sac RT to issue future bonds at a much better interest rate for regional capital projects. The significant transformation that Sac RT has made in the last year, as well as strong political support and strong board governance, is building up RT’s long-term financial stability, which will continue to move Sac RT in a new direction.

Under the direction of Henry Li, General Manager/CEO, Sac RT committed to strengthening its finances while making the system more clean, safe and convenient for riders. Sac RT has identified innovative revenue sources, strengthened its finances and reduced expenses to fund maintenance and capital investments. By aggressively containing costs and pursuing revenue enhancement opportunities, Sac RT has secured more than $3 million in operating funding, which helped enhance customer services.

“At a time when many public agencies are increasing budgets, we have been able to reduce ours. We are figuring out innovative ways to do more with less.” said Henry Li, General Manager/CEO. “Our number one priority is the customer, and the ability to reduce the annual budget without cutting service or increasing fares is a huge victory from where Sac RT was a year ago.”

Based on these positive trends, Sac RT projects to add to its fund balance for the first time in three years, and build up an emergency cash reserve of $6 million (with a 2017 year-end goal of $9 to $10 million). This will go a long way towards reducing Sac RT’s reliance on its line of credit to pay bills, a goal set by the Board of Directors.

By building strong employee and labor relations, Sac RT has been able to identify ways to reduce the annual increases associated with salaries and benefits that continue to offer value to employees, at a sustainable cost. There will only be a small increase in spending in this category for FY 2018, which is expected to be $1.95 million, or 1.8 percent, a modest amount for an organization that provides over 1,000 jobs to the region.


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Legislation to Fix Security Flaw in State’s Voter File Passes First Hurdle

Source: Office of Senator Nielsen  |  2017-04-20

In a rare moment of bipartisanship, the Senate Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments unanimously voted to pass Senator Jim Nielsen’s measure to fix a security flaw the state’s voter file.

“Our democracy is an honor system based on trust,” said Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama). “We must do everything we can to protect its integrity and keep the trust of the people. This measure will help ensure that trust.”

“I thank my colleagues on the committee for their support,” added Senator Nielsen.

Senate Bill 682, if passed, would prohibit the Department Motor Vehicles (DMV) from giving the Secretary of State electronic information needed to complete the voter registration affidavit for ineligible voters who hold special drivers’ licenses for noncitizens.

California’s current online voter registration system automatically allows the voter registration of anyone with a drivers’ license who self-certifies that they are eligible to vote – including individuals DMV knows to be ineligible because they were issued special noncitizen drivers’ licenses. These noncitizen drivers’ licenses do not establish voter eligibility, yet the online voter registration system only requires a drivers’ license number. As a result, undocumented residents may be unlawfully registered to vote.

There is no protocol for communication between the Secretary of State and the Department of Motor Vehicles to prevent these registrants from being approved under current law.

“Keeping the voter roll clean and up-to-date is a challenging task. This bill helps fill a gap in the security of the voter roll,” said Candace Grubbs, Butte County Elections Clerk-Recorder.

Senator Nielsen represents the Fourth Senate District, which includes the counties of Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Tehama and Yuba. To contact Senator Jim Nielsen, please call him at 916-651-4004, or via email at senator.nielsen@sen.ca.gov.


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Tax Freedom Day Late Again for California

From George Runner  |  2017-04-19

George Runner, State Board of Equalization

Californians who have filed their income tax returns by the April 18 deadline will unfortunately have to wait eight days longer than the rest of the nation until they’ve collectively earned enough money to pay off their total tax bill for the year.

Tax Freedom Day, calculated annually by the Tax Foundation, is the day when Americans have earned enough money to pay their taxes at the federal, state and local levels.

Nationally, Tax Freedom Day lands on April 23, but for California it lands on May 1.

“For some lawmakers, this terrible distinction seems to be a badge of honor,” said Board of Equalization Vice Chair George Runner. “With liberal politicians recently voting to increase gas and car taxes, I fear this day will come even later next year for hardworking taxpayers.”

According to the Tax Foundation, Americans will pay $3.5 trillion in federal taxes and $1.6 trillion in state and local taxes, for a total tax bill of $5.1 trillion, or 31 percent of national income. That’s more than Americans will collectively spend on food, clothing and housing combined.

Compared to other states, California’s Tax Freedom Day is one of the latest in the nation. Only Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have later dates.

George Runner represents more than nine million Californians as an elected member of the State Board of Equalization. For more information, visit www.boe.ca.gov/Runner.


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More Taxes on Cigarettes and Electronic Vaping Devices

Source: California State Board of Equalization  |  2017-04-13

California voters approved Proposition 56, which increased the excise tax rate on cigarettes and expanded the definition of “tobacco products” to include any type of tobacco, nicotine, little cigars, and electronic cigarettes sold in combination with nicotine.

On April 1, 2017, the cigarette tax rate increased from $0.87 to $2.87 per pack of 20 cigarettes. In addition, the distribution of nicotine delivery devices – including, but not limited to, electronic cigarettes, e-cigars, e-pipes, vape pens, and e-hookahs – sold in combination with substances containing nicotine are now subject to the current tobacco products tax rate of 27.30 percent of the wholesale cost of the product.

Nicotine delivery devices sold independently and not in combination with any liquid or substance containing nicotine are not subject to excise tax. This includes any battery, battery charger, carrying case, or any other accessory used in the operation of a nicotine delivery device.

Any product approved by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration as a tobacco cessation product or other therapeutic purpose when that product is marketed and sold for such approved use (for instance, nicotine patches) will also not be subject to the excise tax.

Additional information regarding the provisions of Proposition 56 is available online. You may also view the BOE’s online Cigarette and Tobacco Products Tax Guide on the BOE website.

The five-member California State Board of Equalization (BOE) is a publicly elected tax board that hears business tax appeals, acts as the appellate body for franchise and personal income tax appeals, and serves a significant role in the assessment and administration of property taxes. The BOE collects $60.5 billion annually in taxes and fees, supporting state and local government services. For specific help, please contact the BOE at 1-800-400-7115.


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End of an Era: Aerojet to Close Most of Rancho Cordova Operations

By Shelly Lembke  |  2017-04-13

Aerojet Rocketdyne announced plans this week to effectively shutter operations in Rancho Cordova. Citing its Competitive Improvement Program (CIP), which the company adopted in 2015, the cuts are aimed at keeping Aerojet as a competitor in its market. The company will downsize approximately 1,100 jobs in the area, leaving 300 staff in place.

“We are two years into the first phase of our CIP affordability drive and the consolidation progress, and overhead cost reductions achieved to date have exceeded our expectations,” said Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake. “We intend to build on this success by expanding our CIP-related consolidation efforts so we can deliver the value our customers demand and position our company for further growth.”

According to the company, the Rancho Cordova positions will primarily be moved to the headquarters for the Aerojet Rocketdyne Defense and Rocket Shop℠ Defense Advanced Programs in Huntsville, Alabama by next year. This includes, “Defense-related program management, engineering and related support positions.” Other jobs will migrate to Los Angeles to the company’s Space headquarters. A Gainesville, Virginia-based site and another in Vernon, California are also on the chopping block, with the company announcing these closures in the near future.

“We believe these actions are essential for the performance of our business and the growth of the company. The results from this initiative will benefit our valued employees, customers and shareholders alike,” Drake commented.

Phase II of the CIP will continue consolidation for the next two years and plans to remove the company entirely from Sacramento by the end of 2019.

A new manufacturing facility in Huntsville is scheduled to open in 2019 and will house Additive Manufacturing, Composites production and Research & Development and AR1 engine production. The existing Rancho Cordova site is slated to become “the Shared Services Center of Excellence,” once all production commitments have been completed.

“This expanded CIP effort is expected to result in $230 million in annual savings once complete, inclusive of the $145 million from the first phase of CIP,” said Drake. “Given the dynamic nature of this industry, strategic business decisions such as these, while difficult, are critical to establishing a solid course for our future.”


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