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Has downtown Sacramento become a food desert?

Has downtown Sacramento become a food desert?
Has downtown Sacramento become a food desert? 02:10

DOWNTOWN SACRAMENTO — With no single grocery store in sight, residents wonder whether downtown Sacramento will remain a food desert.

There is not a single grocery store in all of downtown, stretching from the Sacramento River east to 16th street.

Now Sacramento, which had declared itself the "farm to fork" Capitol, is considering new policies to attract a supermarket to open downtown.

Colleen McLellan loves her apartment in downtown Sacramento. She's in the heart of the city, across the Memorial Auditorium.

"I live on the third floor on the corner," McLellan said. "We see all the action."

One thing she and her neighbors don't see here or anywhere downtown - is a single grocery store.

There are 22,000 people who live in downtown Sacramento, and another 16,000 housing units are planned for the downtown core.

Downtown's only grocery store, 'Market 505', closed in January, forcing people who live here to drive outside the neighborhood to get groceries.

"We drive all the way to Trader Joe's on Folsom Boulevard," McLellan said.

Michelle Maldonado also lives downtown and has a different solution.

"I go up to Target, but they close at 9," Maldonado said. "It's Target, you just want to buy everything there."

Now council member Katie Valenzuela is proposing a sales tax break to entice grocery store owners to operate downtown.

"Fresh food access downtown has been a problem," Valenzuela said. "So the idea would be we would probably define a percentage of sales space as uncut produce, so if you meet the threshold, you could get a sales tax discount."

Valenzuela says a new mixed-use building planned for J and 16th across from the Memorial Auditorium could include a new full-service grocery store.

A city sales tax break would help the development deal.

"That's a significant bump on their profit and a real incentive to locate in parts of town that really need fresh food access," Valenzuela said.

Councilmember Valenzuela says it will take a city council vote to approve a tax break for a grocery store.

She is hoping to introduce the idea formally soon.

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