What I'm out to do here is cough up the what's-it-really-like-to-live-there info
instead of Chamber of Commerce happy-talk. When I'm headed someplace, I hope to hook up with
somebody who knows the town. So, where can I get a shifter peg on a Sunday morning? Got any decent gyros in this burg? Where's "Gardenland", and how bad are the rents? How long to get from the base to ARC during rush hour? . . . You get the drift? If we all had pages like this, we could get some straight answers. So go on and hit me with your Sacramento questions, recommendations and horror stories, pleeeze...
- From here to Lake Tahoe = 2 1/2 hours, to San Francisco = 1 3/4 hours, to LA = 6 hours, to Vegas = 10 hours, to Portland = 12 hours.
- Regional Transit [bus/light rail]: (916) 321-BUSS. Buses run 05:00 - 00:00 on weekdays (varying wildly by route, and not as late on weekends and holidays). Light rail runs 04:30 - 18:00 (every 15 minutes) and 18:00 - 00:00 (every half-hour; last eastbound train leaves downtown at something ridiculous like 23:00, which I learned the hard way).
- Sac "International" Airport, eleven miles from downtown, is the chaotic dump you'd fly into. Cab fares are not pleasant. Its FAA designation is SMF. (Sac Executive Airport, near Freeport Blvd., is used by light aircraft only.)
- Car insurance is all over the place, cost-wise. Right now I'm insuring a '99 Saturn for about $1,100 / year (no points, extra liability coverage).
- California is the only U.S. state to require both a front and a back license plate on passenger cars/trucks.
- The parking enforcement in the City of Sacramento is rivalling Berkeley for pathologically perverse greed. Since I don't live there (and am now determined that I never will again), my only recourse to this soak-the-commuters-and-tourists stupidity is to spend my dough outside the city limits whenever I possibly can. Be forewarned: if you drive a car here, you are viewed as a big mobile wallet to be plundered. Hey, somebody's gotta pay for all that office remodeling at City Hall...
Our area code split in 1997. 916 is still the area code from Auburn to West Sac, and Isleton to the Sutter County line. All the rest of what used to be 916 is now 530.
- Alcoholics Anonymous: (916) 454-1100
- CalTrans (highway closures): (800) 427-7623
- Dial-A-Prayer: (916) 967-4781
- BeeLine (the big newspaper's automated info service): (916) 552-5252
- Narcotics Anonymous: (916) 732-2299
- LocalTalk (Pac Bell's automated info service): (916) 565-8000
- Alanon: (916) 334-2970
- Time: (916) POP-CORN (which is 767-2676)
- Suicide Prevention: (916) 368-3111
Consume and Enjoy
- There's great Vietnamese/Chinese food at Andy Nguyen's, 10145 Folsom Blvd. (362-2270), two doors down from where I live - and a few blocks away from work, at 2007 Broadway (736-1167).
- For pretty good Chinese food, served quickly, you won't go wrong at Fortune House, at 1211 Broadway. (443-3128).
- For decent burritos and great pastries, try Los Jarritos, at 2509 Broadway. (455-7911). Prepare to wait.
- One of the best places around here for breakfast is Marash's, 3542 'A' Street (a half-block east of Watt Ave.), North Highlands (332-3216). Their prices aren't insane, either. All the great greasy spoons are closed by 9 or 10 at night now, it seems. Trying to find a decent latte after ten? Hah.
- The best pizza in town is usually considered to be Zelda's, at 1415 21st St. Prepare to wait for it. They don't deliver, and they only take cash. (447-1400).
- You can pick up oranges and grapefruits from the ground in Capitol Park, but picking them right off the trees is against the law.
Bills and Stuff
- The sales tax in Sacramento County is back up to 7.75%. Unprepared food is not taxable. Everything else is. (Including, believe it or not, video rental late fees.)
- Unleaded gas (87 octane, that hideous poisonous MTBE-'reformulated' variety) can be found for about $1.51 / gallon. Up about thirty cents from late-1999 levels.
- Smokes are now $3 to $4 a pack. (It's like being in an airport, all the time).
- Milk = $2.89/gallon, bread = 99¢, bananas = 59¢/lb, 2-pound bag of carrots = 99¢. Don't know any animal flesh prices. Rat food = 65¢/lb.
- My monthly electric bill is currently around $70 (two-bedroom apartment, all-electric). The worst monthly bills are now pushing $100. You may have heard about our power problems... We're going to pay, and pay again, and it isn't expected to improve for years.
- My digital cell phone runs about $40/month, taxes and all, for a couple thousand minutes with long distance to the continental USA included. I won't endorse either of the two biggest cellular companies.
- the landline phone bill from Pac Bell costs me around $31/month, not including long distance calls. (Additional phone lines are no less expensive than the first one. Thanks, SBC. AT&T and MCI were selling local telco service, but their rates were about the same as the existing monopoly.)
- The rental market is tight, thanks to Bay Area people invading. If you want to rent a house, brace yourself and expect to look long and hard.
The large local newspaper has classified ads online. If you're from a saner place, be forewarned - it's against the law for anyone to place an ad that mentions a particular sexual orientation or "religion". The "share rentals" ads have become nothing more than a meat market, IMO.
- In this county, business licenses are insanely expensive. Not so in Yolo County (West Sacramento).
- Despite a moronic decision to charge an entry fee for walk-ins, I'm still gonna recommend Denio's, a humungous flea market in Roseville (I-80 to Riverside Ave., left on Cirby, right on Foothills, go about a mile and turn right at Atkinson; weekends are best). Old stuff, cheap imported stuff, lots of produce (kiwi!), collectibles... it's large.
- And I have to throw in a plug here for Trader Joe's, 2601 Marconi Ave. at Fulton (481-8797) and 5311 Sunrise Blvd. at Madison Ave. in Fair Oaks (863-1744), and many other locations statewide. Great prices, some hard-to-find items, gourmet-type stuff too if that floats your boat. About the only place where grocery shopping is still fun.
- Marianne passed this along - if you want to dispose of a computer monitor (or, presumably, other parts) without adding the heavy metals and toxics to the local landfills, go to Federated Assets Recovery, 4300 LaGrande Dr. (372-1014).
- Oldtime locals' abbreviation of choice is usually Sacto. rather than Sac., and the species name is Sacramentan.
- While the area leans to the left politically, there are some redneck and NIMBY pockets in the 'burbs.
- Sacramento used to have more trees per capita than anywhere in the world, but a couple other cities got busy planting saplings or something. The valley is surrounded by foothills and mountains, so it's notorious for smog and allergies.
- Minor-league baseball is back - just across the river, in West Sacramento...
- McClellan Air Force Base is still open (at the moment). Mather AFB was closed a few years back, and is once again named Mather Field. (Maybe you heard about the Emery plane that crashed, about four miles southeast of where I live?) Lots of nukes are also pointed at Travis AFB (near Fairfield) and Beale AFB (near Marysville).
- Two rivers meet here. A lot of the area is a natural flood plain. Dams and levees keep us from drowning each and every day. On the other hand, there are no major earthquake faults known to be right under us (but a previously unknown one rattled Truckee last November, so who knows). The bowels of winter bring lots of rain, fog and temps in the low thirties (°F). Rain is rare in the summer, and it can hit 115°, but (all together now) it's a dry heat.
- "Sacramento - less dangerous than L.A., less claustrophobic than San Francisco"