In a statement released this afternoon by Sacramento-based business advocacy group Region Business, the Elk Grove City Council expressed dismay with a recent petition drive to overturn one of their recent votes.
The petition drive that started about one week ago is seeking to qualify an initiative to reverse a vote by the City Council releasing the Howard Hughes Company (HHC) from a development agreement on their unfinished Outlet Collection at Elk Grove shopping center.
“I strongly condemn any effort by outside people or organizations to mislead and intimidate Elk Grove residents into supporting a campaign that is diametrically opposed to their best interests,” outgoing Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis said.
By releasing HHC from the agreement, the Elk Grove City Council has helped pave the way for the approval process needed by the Wilton Rancheria with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to build a $400-million casino resort. The Wilton Rancheria is seeking to purchase a portion of the parcel owned by HHC for their project, which needs to be free of any development agreement to be placed in Federal trust by the BIA.
Region Business, which has been an ardent supporter of the casino project, has organized sign wavers stationed near petition gatherers located at Elk Grove shopping centers. The group's Executive Director Joshua Wood has stressed the petition drive would hurt prospects of construction restarting on the Outlet Collection at Elk Grove.
Wood has also criticized the petition effort noting that the sponsor in unknown. Arnol Petition Services, who is conducting the petition drive, has not returned calls seeking comment or the identity of the organization financing their services.
Along with Davis, three of the four other Elk Grove City Councilmen participated in the Region Business statement. Councilman Pat Hume, who recused himself from the development agreement vote citing potential conflict of interests, did not comment.
“The community has worked hard to try to turn an abandoned site into first-class retail shopping venue," Elk Grove Mayor-elect Steve Ly said. "I strongly oppose this secret and dishonest campaign to kill the mall.”
Ly, who was recently elected Mayor, send a mailer in the recent campaign saying that while he voted to release HHC from the development agreement as a way of getting the shopping center and casino build, also said: "As a father I oppose the casino."