A Sacramento suburb is about to get bigger – a lot bigger.
“Finally some dirt’s moving,” Folsom Mayor Andy Morin said.
After decades of planning, construction is beginning on more than 11,000 new homes south of Highway 50 in Folsom in what is being called Folsom Ranch and Russell Ranch. Crews began installing $1 billion worth of infrastructure last week.
“It’s a beautiful extension of Folsom,” said Ian Cornell, spokesperson for the Folsom Ranch development. “It’ll look a lot like Folsom looks like on the other side [of the highway].”
The project includes a town center and five new schools.
“It’ll be a nice live-work-play environment where there won’t be as much dependency on vehicles, there will [also] be traditional neighborhoods,” Morin said.
The new homes, filling an area spanning 3,500 acres, are expected to bring 25,000 new people to Folsom in a couple decades – a full 25 percent increase in the population. But this has some residents concerned.
“All the influx of new people – will they embrace Folsom the way the rest of us do?” Folsom Heritage Preservation League President Beth Kelly asked.
She is one of many Folsom residents who has these concerns. Kelly is worried the area will lose its small town feeling and become more of a sprawling community. She also pointed to higher traffic as a potential issue.
“Oh it’s going to be gridlock,” Kelly said. “It’s going to be horrible.”
She’s not alone in her concerns. For this story, ABC10 asked the “Folsom Chat” Facebook group for their thoughts on the development. We received nearly 300 comments with a lot of people questioning how the growth will impact Folsom. One lifelong resident wrote, “Just houses everywhere.” Others felt Folsom would lose its charm and some feared Folsom becoming the next Bay Area – a region slammed by new growth.
Folsom’s mayor says he’s heard these concerns before, when the city annexed six-square-miles worth of land in the 1980s.
“As much as there’s concern, we feel like we’re really focused on making sure that every step that Folsom takes towards growth is that – that really is an important and new piece of the city of Folsom.”
Officials say the development is needed because of a housing shortage in Folsom. They say millennials who recently graduated from Folsom’s high schools are looking for new homes.
“There’s just not enough inventory of homes for them right now,” Cornell said. “They’re being locked out of their own hometown.”