‘Grotels’ – replacing long-neglected motels with urban farms in West Sacramento
Mayor says: “In one swoop, you’d be solving a real problem in terms of the degradation of one of our commercial corridors by an obsolete land use (the motels), and creating the supports for workforce development and job creation in the ag sector.”
By Story by Allen Young
The ‘growtel’, an informal city proposal that so far lacks a dedicated funding source, would alleviate a number of West Sacramento’s challenges, including urban blight, undernourishment and unemployment. About a fifth of the city’s 50,000 residents live below the poverty line, and 17.5 percent of Yolo County residents are food insecure. There is also a growing acknowledgement that conventional farming methods are unsustainable. California’s $38 billion agriculture sector is experiencing attrition despite a need for increased output.
“The hard part is not convincing people to try to grow food. The hard part is showing you can actually make a living doing it,” says Dan Gannon, a 32-year-old, third-year farmer who operates a half-acre farm on the outskirts of West Sacramento.
The growtel was Gannon’s idea, and he is now working with city and business representatives to identify barriers to urban farming such as zoning and permitting restrictions. While the growtel hasn’t launched yet, a picture is emerging of how the business might work.
Some local motel owners admit the West Sacramento market is poor and would favor selling their properties. Ken Madhav, owner of the Crest Motel on West Capitol Avenue, appeared bewildered by the urban farming idea but said he would sell to the city. “I’d like to sell if it is a good price. Anyone can make an offer, and I can give it to them,” says Madhav.