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Second Saturday Synergy 2.0

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(please note: For the purpose of this overview, "downtown" and "central city" are used in the traditional sense of designating the urban business core AND including the area bound by two rivers and two freeways, which includes Midtown)


Gallery owner Michael Himovitz brought Second Saturday to Sacramento two decades ago, to "educate and connect people through discussing art." He advocated coordinating individual efforts into an event that benefited all the galleries, their customers, local culture and the community. It worked.

The synergy resulted in a Second Saturday tradition where art lovers gallery hopped, enjoyed artist receptions and mingled with lively crowds in different parts of town. Cooperating galleries increased their visibility and attracted new customers.

In the aftermath of the September Second Saturday shooting, it may be time to honor the legacy and maintain the event, by creating Second Saturday synergy 2.0.

The death of Victor Hugo Perez Zavala and shooting of three others place a sense of urgency on addressing issues that neighborhoods, city officials and business groups have been working on for years

There is a call for a task force and study of best practices to address these issues, when such a Midtown task force has existed for over a year.

If we work with what we have, drawing on the existing efforts that are underway, we build that synergy. Especially during drastic budgetary times, this makes sense.

Despite attempts to intellectually distance the after-party from Second Saturday, "night life issues" from "Second Saturday issues" and the earlier crowds from "the criminal element," it is the combination of all of the above that resulted in the shooting.

In recent years, existing residents and businesses of Midtown were descended upon by development interests that turned neighborhoods into a perpetual Mardi Gras and Second Saturday into a street fair.

Now, all the various voices and stakeholders – who value the Second Saturday event, the interests of businesses and residents and our shared quality of life – have a choice to make: to create a healthy synergy or continue with a toxic one.

Some groups of businesses, associated with the above-mentioned task force, are already working on coordinating public relations, parking information and guide/security teams.

That type of synergy may be extended to a broader area, including business districts that may currently be perceived as rivals. A vision like the one Michael Himovitz had, extended over the entire downtown area, potentially benefits the businesses, residents and community within and beyond the central city.

Sacramento is famous for its rivers and trees and for its diversity. The "vision" of previous city management that brought people downtown with the lure of alcohol and a singles bar scene was short-sighted and unsustainable.

That demographic needs to be part of a broader mix that attracts families, theater goers, diners, music lovers, all ages, locals and tourists, to events that are not over-concentrated and over-inebriated.

There is a general consensus that one simple and immediate solution to Second Saturday congestion is to spread out events that attract large crowds. This fits with neighborhood association studies and recommendations for placing events in appropriate venues: appropriate for audience size, crowd control, noise, parking, garbage, alcohol consumption and other significant impacts.

Recognizing the interdependence of different types of businesses, in order to draw a diverse demographic to the central city, also makes sense.

One Midtown resident and business owner responded to a recent business association survey by advising them to "quit creating drunkfests" where the only businesses that benefit are "the ones that sell booze."

A Second Saturday Synergy 2.0 may include:

  • incorporating the existing and ongoing city/resident/business task force work on Midtown night life and Second Saturday issues
  • new city management and planning for sustainable development to "bring people downtown" while maintaining quality of life aka livability
  • recently implemented plans to enforce the 10:00 p.m. curfew, open 20th Street between J and K (and enforce traffic laws for crossing J Street?) and provide additional police presence on Second Saturday.
  • new regulation or reduction/removal of street vendors and bands outside
  • spreading Second Saturday and other crowded events over broader space and/or time
  • implementing current task force plans for street guides and security provided by the business association
  • implementing existing plans for improving parking regulations to ease excessive negative "night life" impacts on neighborhoods
  • challenging over-emphasis on singles bar scene, "drunkfests" and street closures as a Midtown draw – including on Second Saturday
  • requiring existing "nightlife" businesses to prove compliance with existing codes, noise ordinances and conditions of city Entertainment Permits and state ABC permits
  • returning Second Saturday to an event that gallery owners, artists, art lovers and residents want to participate in!


Artwork: Skinner www.theartofskinner.com; Fred Dalkey; Nathaniel Stewart http://www.nathanlewisart.com/
Photos: Marion Millin; Michael Zwahlen http://www.zwahlenimages.com/index.php

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