Monday Morning Thoughts: Urban Farm, Binning and Alternative Conflict Resolution

Mace-25What Should the City Do About Mace 25?

As we reported on Saturday, the Davis City Council will be asked on Tuesday to evaluate the suitability of the city-owned 25-acre parcel for a community farm and, if council determines that the parcel is not suitable for a community farm, staff anticipates entering into an agreement with the Mace Ranch Innovation Center applicant to explore an alternative, superior site for consideration.

In our view, a community farm concept is a good one, however, the question is what is the best use for the 25-acre land.

We will make three points on this. First, the Cannery is already developing an urban farm in conjunction with the Center for Land-Based Learning (CLBL). It’s a far smaller site, but it would probably serve us well to see what further needs we have for an urban farm after developing the existing site.

Second, the Center for Land-Based Learning has some models in West Sacramento that might be a better and more centrally located concept than the 25 acres, that is located north and east of the Mace Curve and therefore will be difficult for non-automobile access.

Third, there might be other possibilities. A few years ago, on the site of Wildhorse Ranch, there were some proposals for urban farm concepts along with some ranchettes.

Therefore, the city ought to look at alternative locations for a worthy urban farm concept – preferably in the sort of public-private partnership that allows a private entity like the non-profit CLBL to plan and run the farm.

However, at the same time, we caution the council against automatically entering into an agreement with the Mace Ranch Innovation Center on the current land. The 25 acres might be sufficient to house Schilling Robotics or other area companies, if an innovation park is voted down by the voters in a Measure R vote or if the applicants need additional time to properly plan the development.


Rick Gonzales of the Yolo County Concilio and past chair of the HRC talks about the 1989 Civil Rights report
Rick Gonzales of the Yolo County Concilio and past chair of the HRC talks about the 1989 Civil Rights report

Breaking the Silence of Alternative Conflict Resolution

It wasn’t really planned this way, but the timing of Breaking the Silence of Racism, right before the roll out of the newly-proposed Alternative Conflict Resolution (ACR), worked perfectly. On Saturday, a longtime member of the Davis Community who has been dealing with these issues for decades made the point that we have studied these issues to death, but what are we doing to change them?

One answer is we are changing the way we handle citizen complaints when we can, from the sterile and impersonal formal process to a dynamic and interactive restorative justice-based mediation session.

For months we have talked about the issue of race, and also the interaction between police and various communities, particularly of color. A lot of the issues that arose out of Ferguson are frankly preventable.

Body cameras can give us an eye on what happened, so that we do not have to rely on eyewitness testimony, which can be imprecise, skewed and biased ‒ if not flat out wrong.

This past week I was involved in a minor collision in the Starbucks parking lot, and watching the incident on video, realized that my original perception, while not inaccurate, was nevertheless a bit off from what actually happened. It made me realize that, in a dynamic and fast-changing situation, there are things you will not see and things that you will forget.

Video is not 100 percent conclusive but can be a huge aid in assessing what happened. Of course, the situation in Staten Island was on video and reactions to the death of Eric Garner still varied.

In addition to looking at mandating body cameras for police officers, the state is looking at ending the Grand Jury system for officer-involved killings, and creating an independent oversight body to investigate those killings.

One of the big issues that generated a lot of controversy and triggered reactions to both Ferguson and Staten Island is the issue of trust. Creating independent bodies to oversee investigation is one way to rebuild that.

But, at the ground level, a conflict resolution program that can facilitate dialogue and understanding will go a long way toward restoring trust in the community. It is not a panacea, but it is a good start. It’s a pilot program and there are built-in metrics to assess it.

As an added point to the Breaking the Silence concept, one thing that the event and dozen or so public commenters re-instilled in me is that people often just want a voice, they want to have their say. We know that people’s perceptions of what happened is only one side of the story, and there is value in creating the mechanism for people to be heard.


The back of the existing neighborhood as seen from the southeast corner of the proposed development.
The back of the existing neighborhood as seen from the southeast corner of the proposed development.

Binning and the Innovation Park

I am not going to weigh in on whether I agree or disagree with the folks at Binning. However, one important point is that this is really the opening round of discussions that will now be two-way on the innovation parks. Up until now, we have really only heard voices of those supporting the parks – and, in those cases, only in concept.

We will have to see how this develops – I can foresee areas where there could be some common ground, and areas where both sides are likely to dig in their heels.

One thing that I found interesting is that, while the neighbors are not in lockstep on the specifics of what they want or don’t want, they were not necessarily opposed to mixed housing.

There are several reasons why mixed housing might be helpful here. First, if they are concerned with a commercial park next door, mixed housing might be a way to transition from residential to buffer to commercial.

Second, by creating mixed housing on the site, it would mitigate at least some of the traffic impacts.

The concerns over flooding should be handled by careful planning and engineering. Traffic impacts can be mitigated as well. The developers will need to figure out how the circulation plan can work with existing limitations and that will undoubtedly be part of the studies that occur in the next several months.

Will addressing these issues be enough? We will see. It also remains to be seen whether the voices of the neighbors, residents of the county but not the city, end up carrying any weight.

One thing that I caution people against – there is a tendency to discount complaints of neighbors as NIMBYism. But why is it that self-interested opposition is wrong? From their perspective, this may harm their quality of life – why shouldn’t they fight to protect that?

That doesn’t mean that the rest of the community has to agree with them. The rest of the community has to weigh the advantages against the drawbacks, to figure out where they come down on this issue.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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63 thoughts on “Monday Morning Thoughts: Urban Farm, Binning and Alternative Conflict Resolution”

  1. Barack Palin

    The 25 acres might be sufficient to house Schilling Robotics or other area companies if an innovation park is voted down by the voters in a Measure R vote

    I’m not getting this, wouldn’t the 25 acre city lot also be subject to a Measure R vote?

      1. hpierce

        Problem.  It is not contiguous to the existing City limits.  Highly unlikely LAFCO would approve it being “annexed” to the City.  The County might like to approve Schilling there, so the County could get all the local tax revenue.  Great idea, David.

          1. Don Shor

            Wasn’t that 25 acres clearly intended to be an urban farm? Wasn’t that mentioned many times during the 2013 debate on the ag easement?

            Of course, the county clearly intends to get involved in the peripheral annexation process for the business parks, so now I guess the 25 acres will become a bargaining chip somehow.

            I don’t feel like going back through all the staff and commission discussions. But I don’t recall there having been any ambiguity about the use of those 25 acres. So this just lends more credibility to the prevailing belief that you can’t really believe what’s promised. Somebody somewhere will try to find a development use for the site, regardless of what is said during the public discussions.

          2. Matt Williams

            Don, the conceptualization had little or no ambiguity; however, there was no funding plan or operational plan discussed. To the best of my knowledge, no funding source for either the capital infrastructure of the community farm or its annual operating costs has been identified to date.

            Have you heard anything discussed about either the capital or operational funding of the community farm?

        1. Roberta Millstein

          To answer Don Shor, yes. The reason that parcel was not included in the OSHC’s recommendation for the easement was to put an urban aka community farm on it. We would have recommended otherwise if we had known that it would be baited and switched for another purpose. It seems to me that this is a key piece for the maintenance of open space on the city’s boundary, preserving the viewshed and of course the valuable ag land itself.

        2. hpierce

          To your question of 12:43, David… your question, as written, “… distance from the curve to that property?”, isn’t the right question [guessing what motivates your question], as neither the “curve”, nor the lands SW of it, are in the City.  If someone knows how to do this on-line (I don’t, but would love to learn), the closest distance to the 25 Acre property, is from the SW corner of said property to the NE corner of the vacant commercial property in Mace Ranch, north of Alhambra.  Will guess that it is in excess of 500 feet.  Frame can probably compute it easily.

          1. Matt Williams

            Google Earth computes the distance due south from the southwest corner of the parcel as 1,030 feet. The distance due west across the “inside the mace curve” field is 1,500 feet as the crow flies.

        3. Mark West

          “To answer Don Shor, yes. The reason that parcel was not included in the OSHC’s recommendation for the easement was to put an urban aka community farm on it.”

          This comment makes absolutely no sense since a community farm would have fit into the demands of the agricultural easement.  It may have been a reason to separate off the parcel as a new entity, but would have had no impact on the easement discussion for the balance of the property.

    1. Aggie

      I’d be very surprised if FMC Schilling would accept an interior site without major I-80 visibility.  I’d be even more surprised if they’d go on a 25 acre island outside the Mace curve after a failed Measure R vote on the 200-acre Mace proposal.

      The numbers that are floating around are that they want up to 40 acres and about 500,000 square feet.

  2. Anon

    However, at the same time, we caution the council against automatically entering into an agreement with the Mace Ranch Innovation Center on the current land. The 25 acres might be sufficient to house Schilling Robotics or other area companies if an innovation park is voted down by the voters in a Measure R vote or if the applicants need additional time to properly plan the development.”

    Actually, I think this is a very good point.  I’m not sure how much of a rush there is to make this decision, but I agree that a lot of thought needs to go into deciding what to do with this parcel, and try and remain as flexible as possible in light of what might happen down the line.

    There are several reasons why mixed housing might be helpful here. First, if they are concerned with a commercial park next door, mixed housing might be a way to transition from residential to buffer to commercial.”

    The problem is it is my understanding that developers were given specific instructions not to consider residential housing in their projects.  Correct me if that is not the case.  Personally I would have no particular problem with some live-work housing on the site, which might be a rather innovative concept, but I do not believe that was the direction developers were given.  And based on the Binning Tract folks statements, I doubt it would satisfy them, as it appears they don’t want any development to interrupt their view of the green fields.  Would be an interesting compromise though.  The other issue is that the developers may have a particular concept in mind such that residential housing just won’t fit their model – don’t know.

    One thing that I caution people against – there is a tendency to discount complaints of neighbors as NIMBYism. But why is it that self-interested opposition is wrong? From their perspective, this may harm their quality of life – why shouldn’t they fight to protect that?

    When a position is to not develop a tract you don’t own, assuming there is no agricultural easement running with the land in perpetuity, IMO that is not a reasonable position to take. Anyone who wants to take that position is free to say so (freedom of speech), but from an objective point of view it is not a fair-minded stance.  If the Binning Tract wanted to keep their view of the vistas permanent, then they should have purchased the land.  I think it is also wrong to assume development will “harm their quality of life”.  In fact the development may enhance their quality of life.  Think about it.  If there have been flooding problems on that land, and the developer is able to address some of that in a way that would help the Binning Tract folks, it should improve things for them.  Also, if the development includes some amenities such as a few restaurants and stores, it would make some of those things more accessible to the Binning Tract folks.  If the development has a campus feel, with bike trails and open space throughout, these are amenities that would be near for the Binning Tract folks to use.

    If the Binning Tract folks were smart, they would accept the idea that a development very well may go forward, but they have certain concerns they would like addressed.  I could see them questioning the developer about flooding issues, explaining their previous problems with it, and ask the developer how to best manage it; or ask that the hotel be placed a bit farther away from the Binning Tract homes, that sort of thing.  But to take a position that no development should occur IMO is a nonstarter in terms of paying heed to their complaints.  They are free to complain, but the developer and those living within the city are free to ignore such complaints.

    1. Davis Progressive

      anon – you basically made the same comment yesterday.  you’re comparing an rj process to what you are familiar which while understandable is not terribly insightful.  i think it would be better if you studied rj a bit more and offered thoughts on the new insight you gain.

  3. Anon

    One answer is we are changing the way we handle citizen complaints when we can, from the sterile and impersonal formal process to a dynamic and interactive restorative justice-based mediation session.”

    At least the Vanguard is conceding that restorative justice is mediation based, and thus in my experience has some very basic limitations that may make it an unsatisfactory solution.  I have no problem trying it, but I can see some potential problems with it from the citizenry viewpoint, because of the way mediation works.  As I said before, mediation does not handle well situations in which one party has clearly been wronged, and there are no mitigating circumstances.  This is because mediation, as a concept, tries to forge a “no blame” basis, where some sort of “compromise” is worked out, so that both sides better understands the other side’s position.  In other words there is your side, my side, and the truth lies somewhere in the middle.  But there are cases where one side is completely in the wrong and has no intention of conceding it or is so entrenched in their position so thoroughly they cannot see the wrong they have perpetrated.  And yet the mediator will attempt to “bring the two sides together” to “better understand each other”.  I’ve seen this scenario play out in mediation, and it isn’t good, and infuriates the wronged party so they feel as if they have been wronged a second time.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      “But there are cases where one side is completely in the wrong and has no intention of conceding it or is so entrenched in their position so thoroughly they cannot see the wrong they have perpetrated. ”

      As I responded yesterday, I don’t think that’s an issue. You’re thinking of this as a negotiation. It’s not. The restorative process identifies the harms done and the ways to rectify them. It is used in things like victim-offender reconciliation programs (VORP) where there is a clear offender (someone in the wrong) and a clear victim (someone in the right). The goal of the session is to determine who is responsible for what. These kinds of processes have proven very effective and the circle process that Pytel is bringing in, is well-established.

      Here some additional reading on circle processes: link

  4. Davis Progressive

    i remember when mace 391 came up, the open space folks were arguing for a community farm on the mace property.  are they still wanting it?  it would be instructive to me in terms of whether cannery, whr, or another property would suffice?

      1. Davis Progressive

        thanks.  so your specific hope is that spot and you’re hoping for it to be large enough to serve the whole community.  25 acres seems huge, no?

        1. Don Shor

          The community farm was part of every discussion, really; it was even part of the David Morris land swap proposal of Sept 2013.

          So to mention it in all of these instances, across multiple land proposals, and then have staff (and others) just disregard that later is really the kind of thing that gives the public, and commissioners, good reasons to call it bait and switch. Nobody was saying ‘a community farm or some other purpose or maybe develop that little part into a business park’. They were saying ‘community farm’. And we all know the reason they were saying that, just as at the Cannery site, is because it helped to sell the project. It all looks dishonest.

          There are certainly ag-related profit-making ventures that can be put on the site. I’ve mentioned some possibilities, and things pertaining to wine, olive oil, and beer are very trendy right now. There’s a hop vineyard developed next to Kidwell Overpass. So those are actually serious suggestions, even if they seem whimsical. Nut crops are close to, or have become, Yolo County’s leading cash crop. Tie in to the university somehow if that’s a possibility.

          But staff won’t consider them unless they are directed to stick to ag-related purposes for that site.

          1. Matt Williams

            So to mention it in all of these instances, across multiple land proposals, and then have staff (and others) just disregard that later is really the kind of thing that gives the public, and commissioners, good reasons to call it bait and switch. Nobody was saying ‘a community farm or some other purpose or maybe develop that little part into a business park’. They were saying ‘community farm’. And we all know the reason they were saying that, just as at the Cannery site, is because it helped to sell the project. It all looks dishonest.

            Don, your statement confuses me. You appear to be saying that “they” were using the community farm as a way to get the Yolo Land Trust Easement approved for the Mace 391 project. Is that what you are saying?

      2. hpierce

        Well, maybe a “chosen few” of the entire community.  25 acres correlates to about 36 square feet per household.  Kinda like the 50 meter pool.  Everyone contributes, a few folk use.

        And, a lot of “carbon” will probably be generated by folk “gardening” at that edge of town.

        1. Don Shor

          I don’t think they’re talking about community gardens. A community farm is different. Here’s one example, though there are lots of versions and different organizational structures: https://gilltractfarm.wordpress.com
          Community gardens are, in fact, always very popular and get lots of use, much like community parks do.

          1. Matt Williams

            Don, looking at the Gill Tract Farm info from the link, it appears that the Community Farm would be direct competition for the Wednesday/Saturday Downtown Farmers Market if it follows the Gill Tract Farm model. Is that what you envision … a direct competitor to the Wednesday/Saturday Downtown Farmer’s Market?

          2. Don Shor

            As I said:

            Here’s one example, though there are lots of versions and different organizational structures

            I was simply illustrating the difference between community gardens and a community farm for hpierce.

          3. Matt Williams

            Thanks for that update/clarification Don.

            How do you feel about potential (or planned) competition between the proposed Community Farm and the Wednesday/Saturday Downtown Farmers Market?

        2. hpierce

          Roberta and Don… wasn’t picking up on the distinction between Community Farm and “Garden”; thank you both, and especially, Don, for the link.

        3. Aggie

          Roberta : Since the land was purchased with Measure O (open space acquisition tax) money, you have a strong argument that the City has a moral obligation (and possibly a legal obligation that could be adjudicated) to leave it as open space.  There is also the issue of precedence.  I’m not sure I like the idea of the City doing land speculation with Measure O assets.  In this instance, our staff and some members of the Council appear to be attempting to “play developer” with land acquired for open space with taxpayer money. The City used what was effectively a loophole in the conservation easement rules to parcelize the 25- acres in question based on Council direction to carve out a piece from the easement for consideration as a community farm – giving some credence to Don Shor’s bait-and-switch concerns.

          Where this controversy could get complicated is if Parlin Development (the owner of the proposed West Covell innovation park site) proposes to offer their Wildhorse Ranch property as a community farm site as a quid pro quo for entitling their land west of 113. This seems like a fairly obvious developer tactic that would certainly muddy the water.

          The simple solution might be for Mace to preempt a possible Wildhorse Ranch proposal and agree to build out the 25-acre community farm similar to Cannery’s urban farm on their eastern border. The new farmers trained at the Cannery site are going to need scale-up acreage not unlike FMC-Schilling’s need for a scale-up opportunity within the proposed Mace innovation park). Has the OSHC asked the Mace developers to consider this type of idea?

          1. Matt Williams

            You bring up a lot of important issues and questions Aggie. The problem is that there is virtually nothing on the record that explains how the Community Farm would support “the new farmers trained at the Cannery site.” Based on the information I have heard thus far the community farm would be run by Greg and Coco House as a sole proprietorship under license to the City at an undetermined annual rent, which, if correct, would mean there would be no land available to any of “the new farmers trained at the Cannery site [for] scale-up acreage.”

            I strongly suggest that the Open Space and Habitat Commission share their detailed plans for how (1) they see fiscally the Community Farm concept coming to fruition, and (2) how the day-in day-out operations of the Community Farm would be conducted. The citizens of Davis deserve that kind of open, transparent communication when deciding the future of a munti-million dollar asset.

        4. Mark West

          “Since the land was purchased with Measure O (open space acquisition tax) money”

          The land was not purchased with Measure O funds, it was purchased with monies borrowed from other City accounts.  There were insufficient funds in the Measure O accounts to make the purchase.  The intent of the purchase may have been for open space, but Measure O funds did not pay for it.

        5. Roberta Millstein

          Aggie, well put. And no, that has not been discussed, I guess because we’ve had no reason to think it was on the table, or maybe it just didn’t occur to us. I am not sure if they would go for it.  Seems a bit hypothetical.

        6. Aggie

          Mark: The City purchased the Mace 391 property with $1,325,000 of Measure O funds and a $2,475,000 internal loan from a roadway impact fund. Per the plan, upon resale of the property the internal loan was repaid and a portion of the Measure O funds was recouped. In addition, committing the Measure O monies to the transaction was material to the successful NRCS grant application which was also required to make the deal pencil out. From my perspective, the fact that the City leveraged an internal loan to supplement the Measure O funds doesn’t put the 25 acres into play for land speculation by the staff and the Council (I also have a big problem with the City using roadway impact fees to play developer).

          Where we are probably in strong agreement is on the point that the City had absolutely no business purchasing Mace 391 in the first place. It was a terrible decision to put this land into a conservation easement. But they used Measure O money to do something stupid, and now two wrongs don’t make a right.

          In my opinion, the staff and Council need to start being straight with the community or the Measure R vote(s) are going to fail. Playing games with the 25 acres at Mace – as just one example where they are not being straight – is adverse to the overarching goal of implementing the economic sustainability strategy.

        1. Roberta Millstein

          Matt, I mean that food grown right in town would be available for all to purchase.  Hopefully also (this has always been part of the plan) the community farm would have some fun & educational components, so that children & adults alike could learn more about farming and be more connected to our area.  Davisites are not so out of it that they think that eggs come from the supermarket (a remark I heard in a documentary), but that doesn’t mean that we know a lot about where our food comes from and how it’s grown.

  5. Davis Progressive

    between the statewide reforms and the conflict resolution, i think we have a chance to really make progress.  i think a lot of other jurisdictions will look at the acr if it works.

  6. PhilColeman

    ” This past week I was involved in a minor collision in the Starbucks parking lot, . . .”

    And there was another pair of lenses that witnessed that accident (mine). Disregarding the fact that it occurred on private property, the other driver was at fault.

     

  7. DT Businessman

    Roberta,

    Please provide a link to the City Council resolution, or the video of a CC meeting supporting your contention that the CC has taken any action supporting a community farm at that location.  Many thanks in advance.

    -Michael

    1. DT Businessman

      While you’re at it, please provide a link to the CC 2014/2016 strategic goals indicating where a community farm ranks in the CC’s goals for the 2-year time period.  Thanks!

      -Michael

      1. Don Shor

        Do you believe it was not the intention of the city council to establish a community farm on that site, Michael? If not, why was the 25-acre parcel carved out of Mace 391 in the first place?

        1. Gunrocik

          I closely followed this discussion a couple of years ago.  I am pretty sure that 25 acres was the maximum amount they could exclude from the sale of the property and still qualify for the grant dollars.

          I remember that someone, likely Rochelle brought this up, and noted this remainder parcel could then be used for commercial purposes.

        2. DT Businessman

          Don, I’m pretty sure the CC has never deliberated on, let alone approved, a community farm on that site.  Only the commission and staff have been pursuing the matter to date (keeping in mind they’re not the deciders on this issue).  If I’m mistaken, it should be a straightforward matter to reference the resolution or the video.  Furthermore, a community farm is not even in the 2-year strategic objectives.  You can’t have a switch without the bait.

          PS: I’m not arguing one way or the other about whether a community farm on the site has merit.  I’m merely pointing out that there’s no evidence that I’m aware of that the CC has taken a position on the matter.

          -Michael

        3. Roberta Millstein

          Michael, it sounds to me as that you believe that staff and the OSHC recommended and discussed keeping 25 acres out of the conservation easement for the purpose of a community farm and that the CC followed the recommendation for keeping the 25 acres without at all implying any intent to put a community farm there. Is that correct?  Because that is just highly implausible on its face. At best it would be somewhat duplicitous, even if unintentionally so, don’t you think?  Shouldn’t the commissions and the community have a full understanding of the reasons for CC decisions?

  8. Gunrocik

    Through all of this discussion re: Mace 25, there has been no mention of the December 10, 2013 Joint Meeting between the City Council and the Open Space Commission.  I think a review of the webcast of that meeting might shed some light on the most recent Council view of a Community Farm.

  9. Aggie

    @ Matt Williams  “You bring up a lot of important issues and questions Aggie. The problem is that there is virtually nothing on the record that explains how the Community Farm would support “the new farmers trained at the Cannery site.” Based on the information I have heard thus far the community farm would be run by Greg and Coco House as a sole proprietorship under license to the City at an undetermined annual rent, which, if correct, would mean there would be no land available to any of “the new farmers trained at the Cannery site [for] scale-up acreage.””

    Matt: Thanks for pointing this out. From my perspective, any involvement by the House family in the operation of a Davis community farm on Mace 25 would be completely unacceptable. Because of their role in the Mace 391 controversy, they appear to have unclean hands from a legal standpoint and should not receive any beneficial interest from any City action on Mace 25. The Center for Land Based Learning is the obvious operator of choice because of their outstanding track record and leadership, as well as their involvement in the Cannery urban farm project. The bigger site at Mace 25 would allow them to provide larger plots to the most promising graduates from the Cannery site. The Cannery urban farm project already serves as a viable template for infrastructure and operating costs. The Mace developers, like the Cannery developers, are going to get saddled with all kinds of public amenity costs – so why not do some sort of innovation park-enhancing urban farm project that the companies and employees in the park will think is really cool. Urban agriculture is one of the next big things – what better place to do something leading-edge than in an “innovation” park. I’d personally prefer to see this type of open space in the innovation park rather than lots of turf.

    1. Don Shor

      Because of their role in the Mace 391 controversy, they appear to have unclean hands from a legal standpoint

      What role was that? Please be specific.

      1. Roberta Millstein

        Where was it proposed that the House family would run the Community Farm at Leland Ranch?  Not at any OSHC meetings, I can tell you that.  It sounds to me as though you are listening to back conversations and insinuations.

        (Sorry, this reply is to Matt, not to Don Shor or Aggie).

        1. Matt Williams

          If having a single operator of the farm is not the plan Roberta, what is the plan?

          With that question asked, the purpose of my comment “Based on the information I have heard thus far the community farm would be run by Greg and Coco House as a sole proprietorship under license to the City at an undetermined annual rent, which, if correct, would mean there would be no land available to any of “the new farmers trained at the Cannery site [for] scale-up acreage.” was not to single out any specific individuals, but rather to highlight the sole proprieter concept. As such my statement should have read, “Based on the information I have heard thus far the community farm would be run by ______________ as a sole proprietorship under license to the City at an undetermined annual rent, which, if correct, would mean there would be no land available to any of “the new farmers trained at the Cannery site [for] scale-up acreage.”

          The biggest problem that the community farm concept has is that there has been no public information campaign organized and/or proliferated into the community so that the community can have any understanding of how the community farm might actually benefit the community. Like many other things that happen in Davis, there is a huge amount of “Trust us. We know what is best for Davis.” in evidence here. It seems a lot like a “need to know” mentality is driving the public outreach … and as a result there are more questions at this point than there are answers.

          With the above said, it is important to recognize that the members of the Open Space and Habitat Commission are unpaid volunteers, and as such, their individual and/or collective available time to devote to public outreach/education (in addition to their Commission time) may be limited.

          In closing, and especially given Aggie’s response that took my use of Greg and Coco House as example sole proprietor names, I meant no disrespect to either Greg or Coco by using their names, and used them because theirs are the only names that have been mentioned in the discussions that fit my description in my comment, “Based on the information I have heard thus far the community farm would …” For the record, I do not agree with Aggie’s “unclean hands” description of the Houses. That may be Aggie’s opinion, but I believe it is an incorrect opinion.

      2. Matt Williams

        Don, my own personal answer to your question is that Aggie’s statement is not supported by the Mace 391 events that I observed, and as you know, I followed the Mace 391 events very closely.

      3. Aggie

        Don: I verified Matt’s statement with an insider in the open space community before posting. Was also told they helped organize the opposition. which would disqualify them from becoming the operators of a Mace-25 community farm given that the information in Matt’s post was not disclosed during the public hearings. Moving on … in my opinion, CLBL appears to be a great organization and the site would fit very well into their business model.

        1. Don Shor

          they helped organize the opposition.

          In what sense? I am not aware of any ‘organization’ that was supporting the ag easement on Mace 391, and I’m pretty sure I would have been aware of a formal group in that regard. People were contacting people and urging phone calls and letters. That’s about it. No petitions, no funds raised, no PACs filed. They expressed their views publicly and privately, as did many of us. They did nothing that would disqualify them from entering into a contract with the city in an open and transparent process.

          This is worse than gossip. An anonymous poster citing an anonymous “insider” to “verify” something that Matt said? Give me a break.

          1. Matt Williams

            I agree with your second paragraph Don. There was a very good reason I said, “Based on what I have heard …” What I had heard was real, but it was far from complete or definitive. Further, as you have pointed out, there are a number of different possible configurations for a community farm … with a sole proprietorship being only one of those possibilities. Until the Open Space and Habitat Commission and/or City Council shares more information with the community, what the community farm might look like is only speculation.

            Regarding organizations that were supporting the ag easement on Mace 391, two immediately come to mind … the Yolo Land Trust and The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). In addition, Bob Schneider, then President of Tuleyome, former Council member Steve Souza, Alan Pryor on behalf of the local chapter of the Sierra Club and many other Davis citizens were very clearly part of what Aggie has characterized as the “opposition” to abandoning the Mace 391 easement. To label the Open Space and Habitat Commission (or any of its individual members) as the people who “organized the opposition” is a misrepresentation of what happened.

            I say the above as a person who strongly argued that delaying the final decision on going forward with the easement was in the best fiscal interests of the City … and as a result that “opposition” that Aggie refers to was fighting to not have my preferred course of action happen. I respected their “opposition” then, and I respect it now.

  10. Aggie

    The information was posted by a member of The Vanguard editorial board. I responded.  Get over it. The back-pedaling by Matt is pretty pathetic.

    Note to David Greenwald – I enjoy reading and commenting on the Vanguard when time permits. There are many reasons you are having to repeatedly beg for small amounts of money. In my opinion, the visibility of your moderator and some members of your editorial board is pretty high on the list.

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