My View: We Operate in Silos but Live in One Community

For months (at the very least) I have been talking about the fact that we live in a community that has nice amenities and services, but, without an influx of revenue, we will not be able to maintain our quality of life.

Already, our revenues fall at least $8 million short of what we need and we cannot fund road repairs, parks maintenance or other infrastructures improvement.

At the same time, we face a housing shortage, not just for students, but for families and working folks.  We lack affordable housing and our land use policies make it increasingly more difficult to build it.  The result is that each day a huge number of people commute into Davis to work – they have jobs here, but are unable to afford to live in this community.

At the same time, our lack of housing-jobs balance means that we have many residents who were able to find and afford places to live in Davis, but they work out of town.

When we talk about our schools, however, we tend to focus on school funding formulas.  We have noted that the LCFF (Local Control Funding Formula) disadvantages the schools in Davis, and we end up with less money than surrounding districts.  For years we have made up for that gap through parcel taxes.

We now face the probability that the voters will not pass additional parcel taxes.  Already voters failed to support the roads tax at the required two-thirds vote and polling shows that, for any additional parcel tax, support is right on the bubble.

In the future, the schools face problems that mirror the problems in our community.  Declining enrollment is brought in part because families can no longer afford to move into Davis.  That means there are fewer students likely to come into the district in the next decade.

The dilemma we now face is quite serious and in part brought to light by the teacher compensation gap.  With LCFF and parcel taxes, we are just slightly below average for the state in funding.  We have over the last decade had to slowly ramp up the parcel tax.  When I first covered the parcel tax in 2007, we were talking about a $100 renewal.  In 2016, it was raised to over $600, and even back then, we were arguing it needed to be more like $960.

Alan Fernandes, who is currently pushing for the citizen’s initiative, argued at the time that we needed $960, and points out that if had we gone there, we would have enough money in place to greatly close the compensation gap.

But we didn’t go there, and even if we had pushed it forward, there is nothing to assure us that it would have passed at that level.

What we know is that teachers in Davis make considerably less than what they make elsewhere.  Couple that with teachers having to pay out of pocket to cover the gap between the cost of health insurance and what the district provides and we have a scenario where many teachers are paying several hundred to as much as $1000 each month for health insurance, even as they have to afford high costs of housing in Davis and they make a modest salary.

We are facing an unfortunate choice, where we may have to choose between maintaining our great programs and retaining our great teachers.

I view this as an extension of the quality of life challenge facing the entire community.

The reality is that the same challenges which face our community are facing our schools.

We have a tendency to view issues of our schools in one silo and issues of the city in another silo.  We talk about thinking outside of the box, but what we really need to do in this community is to think outside of our silo.

My suggestion to the city and school district is that we have a community conversation so that people understand the real problems that we face.

Here are a few:

  • In the city we are facing ongoing large deficits between the revenues we have and the ongoing costs to maintain our infrastructure. The best example is we need $8 million a year for road maintenance, and we have about $3 million of that right now.
  • Taxes are the logical short-time bandage for what we need, both with the community and the schools. But every time the city passes a tax, that takes from the same pool as the school district.  The voters by a large margin agreed to renew the parks tax which was basically a status quo tax, but only 57 percent supported the roads tax.
  • The schools will seek to pass a facilities bond to repair and upgrade what is at times 50-year-old infrastructure. The bond needs 55 percent and no one filed an opposition argument on the ballot.
  • The schools will need a parcel tax on the order of $300 a year to fund the teachers’ 3.5 percent pay increase. That doesn’t solve the compensation gap, but it does close it slightly.  Currently there is no proposal on the ballot for a parcel tax.
  • Without a parcel tax, where do the schools get additional funding?
  • The city has better long term fixes for funding, but that requires economic development on a much larger scale.
  • Housing is a key shared problem. At the city level, we have a student housing shortfall but we also lack affordable housing for families and working folks.
  • The housing crisis is a double whammy for the district. On the one hand it means that families are not moving to Davis, leading to the possibility of declining enrollment.  On the other hand, it means that teachers who work in Davis either have to pay through the roof for housing or live outside the community and commute.  That further disadvantages our compensation.  One of the big reasons someone might want to teach in Davis is that they live in this community – if they cannot afford that, that inducement is gone.
  • Both the city and schools are facing a shortfall on money to maintain and upgrade infrastructure and facilities. In the schools, we have aging facilities that need upgrade and repair.  We designed our schools, many of them in the 1960s, and we live in a different world than 50 years ago.  In the city we cannot pay for things like roads, parks, greenbelts, or city buildings.

The problem that we face is that we are on the bubble, both in the city and the school district.  Things aren’t bad – yet.  The public sees great schools and a great community, but they don’t see the danger that lurks ahead.

That’s where the community conversation has to start – what are our challenges, how can we think outside of the box and, more importantly, think outside of our silos to resolve those challenges?

—David M. Greenwald reporting


Get Tickets To Vanguard’s Immigration Rights Event

Eventbrite - Immigration Law: Defending Immigrant Rights and Keeping Families Together

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.

Related posts

90 thoughts on “My View: We Operate in Silos but Live in One Community”

  1. Alan Miller

    If I’m reading this correctly,

    We Operate in Silos But Live in One Community = We All Need to Step Up and Pass Each Other’s Taxes of Interest so All the Taxes Pass

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        For instance – which of the board members or council members will not pay the taxes they pushed? In fact, name a single person who has “pushed” taxes who will not pay them.

        1. Ken A

          I don’t want to put words in Jim’s mouth but I think he wondering if you have ever mailed checks to Howard Newens at 625 Court Street in Woodland in April and December…

        2. H Jackson

          If he rents, he pays indirectly.  I used to rent in Davis, and when parcel taxes went up, then my rent went up; there was a direct correlation.  Clearly it is the landlord’s discretion, but he never felt any reservations about raising rent.  I don’t think Davis has been much of anything but a landlord’s market for decades.

          Based on my rental experience, I’m not sure what point is being made by trying to argue “renters don’t have to pay parcel or property taxes.”  It felt like I was paying them through rent.

        3. Ron

          Regarding parcel taxes, I understand that the answer is “it depends”.

          For school district parcel taxes, entire apartment complexes (parcels) pay the same amount as a single-family dwelling.  Therefore, those living in apartment complexes only (indirectly) pay a “portion” of those taxes, with the amount dependent upon upon how many units there are on a parcel. (Assuming that the landlord passes on those costs, to renters.)

          And, those living outside Davis (but sending their kids to Davis schools) don’t pay the school district parcel tax.

          Not sure how other (non-school-district) parcel taxes are applied to apartment complexes.

          Regarding Affordable housing (such as the type that David has publicly acknowledged living in), I don’t know how parcel taxes are applied.  To be fair to David, I suspect he’d be (generally) willing to pay it, regardless.

        4. Jim Hoch

          “If he rents, he pays indirectly.  I used to rent in Davis, and when parcel taxes went up, then my rent went up; there was a direct correlation.  Clearly it is the landlord’s discretion, but he never felt any reservations about raising rent.”

          Actually the answer is “No, No, and Maybe”.

          School parcel taxes are “per parcel” so a complex pays one tax. Each renter pays either nothing or essentially nothing unlike homeowners.

          For people in “Affordable Housing” generally their rent is based on fixed criteria and a parcel tax does not change that. So they pay no school or city parcel tax.

          Most landlord charge what the market will bear. If they can get $2200 for a particular unit they already charge that and so cannot raise rents to pass along costs. Note that apartment owners and managers are always against parcel taxes. If they could just pass along the expense they would not care as much.

        5. Ken A

          While it is true that the Davis JUSD “Measure H” parcel tax is per “parcel” the Davis JT UN “CFD #1” is still “per unit” with big apartments paying tens of thousands per year…

        6. Ken A

          I’m wondering if H Jackson would also argue that “renters pay yacht taxes and cigarette taxes”  (if their landlord owned a yacht and was a smoker).  While it is true that all taxes put upward pressure on prices I don’t think it is fair to say the Mormon family pays alcohol taxes just because their landlord buys a six pack of beer every week during football season…

        7. H Jackson

          Jim Hoch: “Actually the answer is “No, No, and Maybe”.”

          ….

          “School parcel taxes are “per parcel” so a complex pays one tax. Each renter pays either nothing or essentially nothing unlike homeowners.”

          I rented a house.  At the beginning of a fiscal year (July 1) he would announce how much rent would be raised.  If there were a recently passed parcel tax, it definitely corresponded to that.  Some years he wouldn’t raise the rent.  I don’t know what else to tell you.  It seems you’re saying my experience wasn’t real.

        8. H Jackson

          Jim Hoch:  “Note that apartment owners and managers are always against parcel taxes.”

          Not recently the way they used to.  School parcel taxes in Davis used to charge a different rate for multi-family situations (apartments) from single family units.  In 2013 Jose Granda (local citizen who has opposed school parcel taxes in recent years) signed on to and won a lawsuit that said that Davis (and other school districts) couldn’t charge a separate rate for different different kinds of properties (source).  It resulted in a big windfall for apartment owners, because in most cases it meant paying less.

          After winning that lawsuit, Granda came back at one point and commented in a parcel tax campaign how unfair it was that apartment dwellers paid much less than homeowners.  The irony is that he helped make that situation happen.

           

        9. Jim Hoch

          ” It seems you’re saying my experience wasn’t real.”

          I’m not at all sure what you are asking. Did at one time a certain landlord say he may or may not raise the rent and use the parcel tax as justification? After that he may or may not have raised the rent and that rental increase may or may not have some correlation to the amount of the parcel tax.

          Is that your question?

           

           

      2. David Greenwald Post author

        ” I’ll add that often times people push taxes that they themselves won’t have to pay.”

        Name one

        “David Greenwald”

        So “often times” is me.  Got it.

        1. Jim Hoch

          “So “often times” is me”

           

          You are consistently in favor of new parcel taxes but were against the utility tax. My assumption based on this was that you would pay a utility tax but you do not pay parcel taxes. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

        2. David Greenwald

          I was never “against” a utility tax.  It was not my preferred tax as it would have been a general tax and therefore not as accountable.  At this point given my belief that a two-thirds tax is unlikely to pass, I would support it going forward for roads.

          1. Don Shor

            I favor taxes that everybody pays and not just a small section of the population.

            I think the only tax that meets your criteria that can be implemented by a municipality would be the sales tax.

        3. Jim Hoch

          There are now a couple of different threads. In order:

          “I’ll add that often times people push taxes that they themselves won’t have to pay.” – “Name one”

          That was was **solved** though likely there are other correct answers.

          “so you oppose excise taxes, income taxes, property taxes, gas taxes”

          No tax effects everyone equally however that is the ideal. Is there any reason that large numbers of people do not pay the parcel tax while still benefiting from it?  Why not publish the list of people who have filed for exemption?

           

           

  2. Todd Edelman

    A toll for crossing the Yolo Bypass from west to east on I-80 would be, in principle, no different than the ones charged for crossing the Carquinez Strait or San Francisco Bay  on the I-80 network to the east on bridges owned by the State and managed by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. The funds raised are used for the various bridges themselves and for transit in MTC counties – and this means that drivers starting journeys in Davis, or just passing through town pay nothing through these tolls for sustainable transportation in Yolo County or other SACOG-counties.

    This is a good example of inequity, yes? I-80 brings positives to the region, State and beyond, but it seems like a basic responsibility that its users should help pay for the negative effects of this highway (gas, particle and noise pollution… for example).A Yolo Bypass toll could generate at least 100-150 million dollars per year, based on 3 to 4 dollars net income per crossing of a vehicle during commute hours. A disproportionate share of the toll would fall on people driving alone, and low-income SACOG-area residents would ideally be allowed tax credits for tolls paid, and area employers could – or should – also be directly responsible for the financial burden.The income could be used for transit in the region – in the holistic and increasingly recognized form of complete networks including the last mile (e.g. electric-assist bicycles, taxis, etc) and school bus programs (which replace automobile journeys to and from school). The spending on the latter would help reduce costs for families as it frees up their time and reduces their automobile expenses.The toll could also be used to enhance environmental mitigation of I-80 in Davis by, for example, enabling the incremental construction of a sound and general pollution barrier on top of I-80 within town. There is nothing “rocket-science” about this: Davis and the region would nevertheless still be a leader in aggregating several systems and technologies used both abroad and locally (e.g. the planned arboreal barrier for Nishi 2.0). The resulting improvements would likely boost property values, especially in areas closer to the freeway, providing further income (and equity, as long as rents were not unduly raised in these properties.) Solar panels on the structure could generate 10-15% of current electricity demand in Davis.I call on SACOG and the City of Council of Davis (and other SACOG counties and cities) to task their staff and other bodies – in Davis the Finance and Budget, Mobility (BTSSC), Natural Resources and Planning Commissions – to take a hard look – and provide resources for comprehensive studies – into this great option for economic and environmental sustainability in our great region!

    1. Jeff M

      Californians already pay more taxes and fees (gas and vehicle registration) to pay for our roads.  However, the money has been sequestered by the Democrat public employee union cartel to pay for union members to retire in their 50s with a guaranteed working-level-compensation and benefits for the rest of their lives… which is more often longer than the time they actually worked.

      Here is a deal we can make.  Immediately eliminate state and local government pensions, turn the retirement benefits into defined contribution plans, and then come back to us for a temporary tax increase to help pay down the existing pension obligation and do some road repair.

      One last point… we need to stop with the silly scarcity mindset policy (tax something to cause less of it) while also denying that increasing taxes causes less economic prosperity for all.  It is clearly a position of great hypocrisy.

      1. Tia Will

        we need to stop with the silly scarcity mindset policy (tax something to cause less of it) “

        Why, when it was a major contributor to the decrease in cigarette use in California? You don’t care if it worked or not since it does not jibe with your view of profits as more important than anything else. I see it the opposite. I see the decrease in harmful products as an abundance promoting factor. Abundance of good health which I value over corporate profits.

        1. Jeff M

          Why, when it was a major contributor to the decrease in cigarette use in California?

          Uh, no.  There is no scientific evidence of this.   The cost of drugs does very little to decrease their use. However, there is evidence that low income smokers had to economize on food to make up for the high cigarette taxes… basically transferring a health issue of adults to negatively impact the health of their children.

        2. H Jackson

          Tia Will: “Why, when it was a major contributor to the decrease in cigarette use in California?”

          Jeff M: “There is no scientific evidence of this.”

          Tobacco taxes as a tobacco control strategy

          “Well over 100 studies, including a growing number from low-income and middle-income countries, clearly demonstrate that tobacco excise taxes are a powerful tool for reducing tobacco use while at the same time providing a reliable source of government revenues.”

          There are at least another dozen (very likely more) different citations I could reference that articulate similar kinds of conclusions.

        3. Howard P

          Tia’s point has merit… the more financial burdens we place on housing, the less likely developers are inclined to provide affordable housing, so we should see less of it… a lot of folk in this community will be thrilled with that…

  3. Mark West

    “Taxes are the logical short-time bandage…”

    The problem with your discussion is you continue to ignore the fact that neither the CC or the SB look upon taxes as ‘short-time.’ Once they are passed, they become a permanent fixture in their budgets and our community. When was the last time either entity voted to reduce the level of taxation?

    There is only one solution to our problem and that is economic development. We cannot continue ignoring the local economy while hoping to pass yet another tax if we have any hope for a sustainable future. In the meantime, both the City and the District need to focus on cost-containment and finding sources of revenue other than raising taxes. The sale or lease of excess property for redevelopment should be high on the list for both entities. We are acting like we have an unlimited line of credit that we can use to continue spending at our current unsustainable rates. That simply has to change.

    1. Howard P

      Mark… true in Davis, mostly… seem to recall that the original Parks parcel tax was $99/yr, but due to economy and DJUSD pressure (for their own tax), was reduced to $49 @ renewal…

      In Millbrae, until Prop 13 passed, their CC reduced the tax rate three times (three years in a row) property values were climbing so rapidly, they didn’t know what to do with the excess revenues… none of those CC members were ‘political’… they were “do-gooders” (nicknamed the “tennis-shoe league”), focused on serving their community…

      That used to exist in Davis, until the mid-late ’70’s…

  4. Ken A

    When Mark writes “There is only one solution to our problem and that is economic development.” it sounds like he is not on board with Todd’s “toll for crossing the Yolo Bypass from west to east on I-80” idea (that would bring in even more cash than an office park or more mixed use downtown)…

    If Davis could collect $7/car like the Golden Gate Bridge we would have plenty of money to buy electric bikes for the homeless and could  finally build the “sound and general pollution barrier on top of I-80 within town” to protect children (and puppies) from the “toxic soup” from I80.

    P.S. Toll on the Golden Gate bridge goes up for each “axle” just think how much money Davis could get if we charged every train rolling through town a toll based on the number of axles…

    http://goldengatebridge.org/tolls_traffic/toll_rates.php

  5. Ken A

    When David writes: “we cannot fund road repairs, parks maintenance or other infrastructures improvement.” it reminded me that I have noticed that Davis does very little park “maintenance” and just lets the parks go to pot before spending millions to “replace” everything.  A few months back I was thinking “a couple hours with a power washer sure would clean up Pioneer park” but rather than pay a city employee $500 (or guy standing in front of Home Depot $100) the city just replaced everything (just like they did with Rainbow City and the park on the South Davis bike trail in the past year or so)…

    1. Howard P

      Rainbow City had other issues… including changing rules on “toxics” regarding the stains/finishes (and paranoia of parents, and professional critics)… your other cites are valid… for discussion purposes…

  6. Matt Williams

    David Greenwald said . . . ” The result is that each day a huge number of people commute into Davis to work – they have jobs here, but are unable to afford to live in this community.

    At the same time, our lack of housing-jobs balance means that we have many residents who were able to find and afford places to live in Davis, but they work out of town.”

    The words above describe a “bedroom community” suburb within a larger Metropolitan Area.  Perhaps that is what Davis is.

     

  7. Tia Will

    I see another problem that we have not touched upon. This problem is that we see the only desirable outcome as growth. We do not seem to be able to appreciate that sometimes the most desirable outcome is balance or temporary homeostasis or even a decrease in numbers until the environment is more favorable. We can see this clearly in terms of animal populations, but do not seem to be able to see it with regard to our own. We are locked into a false concept that the opposite of growth is decay. In populations, that is certainly not true.

    1. Mark West

      The problem with your position is that it is built upon the fallacy that we can control population growth by limiting local housing opportunities. What really happens is that the population continues to expand as more and more people cram themselves into the existing infrastructure. Adding people without expanding the infrastructure speeds the deterioration of the environment, so it is our failure to grow with the demand that leads to greater damage. Your scarcity mindset is responsible for far more damage and deterioration than your worst fears from growth.

      1. Ron

        Mark:  “The problem with your position is that it is built upon the fallacy that we can control population growth by limiting local housing opportunities.”

        In reality, many communities (especially some of the “nicer” ones) successfully do so (for the most part). However, even in those communities, there’s endless development battles going on, often initiated by developers and their associates (also known as “development activists”).

        Mark:  “What really happens is that the population continues to expand as more and more people cram themselves into the existing infrastructure.”

        They might, if a given community is an island (or peninsula, such as San Francisco).  Especially as economic development pursued, which encourages migration into such communities.  And, yet, even there, folks ultimately make a choice regarding whether or not it’s worth staying.  (Many are choosing to leave San Francisco and the Bay Area.  There’s a net exodus of folks leaving the state.)

        Mark:  “Adding people without expanding the infrastructure speeds the deterioration of the environment . . .”

        Agreed – it does lead to the deterioration of the man-made environment.  Some are advocating for this approach, right now.  (In fact, it seems to be the “norm”, to add more and more people without improving infrastructure.)

         

         

        1. Mark West

          “In reality, many communities (especially some of the “nicer” ones) successfully do so…”

          No, they don’t, they just push the problem on to somewhere else.

          The point Ron, which you completely missed, is that the people will continue to come here whether we build more housing or not. If there is insufficient housing when they arrive, they will simply cram more people into the existing housing infrastructure. We see that all around town with the expansion of ‘mini-dorms’ in more and more neighborhoods. Your advocacy to prevent new housing is exacerbating this problem, not fixing it.

        2. Ron

          Mark:  “No, they don’t, they just push the problem on to somewhere else.”
           
          Mark:  “The point Ron, which you completely missed, is that the people will continue to come here whether we build more housing or not.”

          These two statements conflict with each other.  Folks either choose to move to a community, or they don’t (and stay where they are, or move somewhere else – if they’re considering a move).  They don’t pursue all of these options simultaneously.

          Your other statements refer to student housing – due to the presence of UCD, their pursuit of non-resident students, their reluctance to build sufficient housing on-campus, and the city’s willingness (so far) to accept the costs and impacts of UCD’s plans. Yes, I think everyone agrees that student housing has been an issue, up until this point. However, there certainly has been a glut of student housing proposals in the city, recently. (Not so much for non-students, Affordable housing, etc.)

          Ultimately, even students have a choice, regarding where they might attend college.

           

          1. Don Shor

            Your other statements refer to student housing – due to the presence of UCD,

            Students aren’t the only people who move here because of UCD.

        3. Mark West

          These two statements conflict with each other.

          No, they don’t, the conflict is in your ability or willingness to understand the meaning. Those communities that try to limit the influx of new people by not building housing creates problems for others in the area. In the case of Davis, that means increasing the vehicles miles traveled in the region with the resulting increase in environmental damage as well as increased death and injury on the roads. These are not impacts on Davis alone, but they are caused by Davis refusing to build sufficient housing. People will continue to move to a region even with a shortage of housing if there is a sufficient attraction, which is the case for the Sacramento region (even beyond the attraction of UCD). The problem here encompasses far more than just student housing, that just happens to be your particular bugaboo.

        4. Ron

          Mark:  “Those communities that try to limit the influx of new people by not building housing creates problems for others in the area.”

          That depends upon a host of factors, including pursuit of economic development, increased enrollment, Affordable housing policies, willingness/ability of surrounding communities to absorb development, etc.

          I believe that the Vanguard recently noted that there hasn’t been a drastic increase in student commuters to Davis, because many of them have been doubling up in existing units.

          In the case of UCD and the city of Davis, I’m hopeful that the city will adequately represent its own interests during the mediation effort (and possible litigation, if that fails).  Note that the UC Santa Cruz agreement addressed some of the problems by limiting enrollment increases, as well as other measures.  Those types of measures can help address the “bugaboo” (as you put it), which is overwhelming the city of Davis (and which is resulting in the conversion/loss of space for other purposes, including commercial development).

          In fact, students have the most to gain from an agreement between UCD and the city.

          Regarding regional growth, that’s the purpose of SACOG (and its associated “fair share” growth requirements, which Davis is on track to exceed).  (Not to mention the city’s own policies/cap, regarding growth.)

        5. Ron

          Ironically, though – the Vanguard doesn’t seem to have a problem with young “student commuters” (with parents) from other communities “commuting” to Davis elementary schools, via motor vehicle. (Even though they’re also not fully “paying their way”, via Davis parcel taxes.)

          And, rather than adjust the schools to fit the community’s needs, the Vanguard seems to want to “adjust the community”, to fit the schools’ needs. (Actually, that’s pretty much what the Vanguard advocates for in the case of the city and UCD, as well.)

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            You’ve never really asked about this issue. One point I would make, the students who are inter-district transfer generally have to have their parents working in town. So the transfers are not creating necessarily extra traffic. And the other point should be obvious – if we had the housing to accommodate those people, their kids wouldn’t be transfer students anymore.

        6. Alan Miller

          In reality, many communities (especially some of the “nicer” ones) successfully do so…

          So you’re in favor of Davis being a “nice” community.  How very elitist of you.

        7. Ron

          Me:  “In reality, many communities (especially some of the “nicer” ones) successfully do so…”

          Alan:  “So you’re in favor of Davis being a “nice” community.  How very elitist of you.”

          I’m going to plead guilty, to your first sentence.  I personally don’t have a positive view of (some) of the surrounding communities, to put it politely. (Actually, it’s becoming more difficult to determine exactly where one “ends”, and the next one “begins”.)

          And, when traveling/visiting – I also prefer “nicer” communities (which are generally those that limit growth/development). I sometimes wish I could afford to live in such communities, but I wouldn’t want them to “wreck” it, in a vain hope that I could become a member.

           

        8. Jeff M

          And, when traveling/visiting – I also prefer “nicer” communities (which are generally those that limit growth/development).

          I am itching to hear the names of these communities.  Please make your list.

        9. Ron

          Jeff:  Off the top of my head, that would include almost the entirety of Marin county, much of Sonoma county, areas around Tahoe/Truckee.

          It does not include West Sacramento, Natomas, Elk Grove, the “greater” Los Angeles area (shouldn’t that be the “lesser”?) . . .

        10. Jeff M

          Jeff:  Off the top of my head, that would include almost the entirety of Marin county, much of Sonoma county, areas around Tahoe/Truckee.

          Ron – thanks.  However you listed counties, not cities.

          Let’s use Novato as an example.  $15.6k in retail sales per capital compared to Davis’s $7k.  Number of firms 6.4k vs 4.4k.  77% white vs 64% white.  Median household income $84k vs $68k.  Persons in poverty 7% vs 29%.

          But here is the most glaring difference… population density of 1.9k people per square mile vs. 6.7k people per square mile in Davis.

          Lastly, Novato is not a home of a world class research university.

          Other than all these things, I guess you can make the case that these are comparable cities.

           

        11. Ron

          Jeff:  I’m not sure what your argument is, here.

          Yes – the entire county of Marin, for example, is pretty-well protected.  (That includes vast private lands, in the western part of the county.  All of which would have been developed a long time ago, had steps not been taken to prevent that.)

          Regarding income – yes, higher-income communities are often (maybe even always) the same communities that take steps to limit development.  (With possible exceptions of large cities, where there is no undeveloped land. However, even in San Francisco, development battles regarding density occur on a regular basis. Actually, density battles occur in Marin and other places, as well.)

        12. Jeff M

          Jeff:  I’m not sure what your argument is, here.

          Ron: it is clear to me.

          1. You say you like Marin County and Novato for example is much more normal than is Davis with respect to commercial development and population density.

          2. Novato also isn’t home to a large, popular and successful university.

          The conclusion is that you oppose develop in Davis that would make Davis more like the communities you claim to like.

          And you also keep failing to note that Davis is home to a large university… which provides character and amenities that you benefit from yet you fail to honor and respect these things and also fail to acknowledge that these things have community needs.

          I believe you are your own worst enemy in your resistance.

        13. Ron

          Jeff:  You’re the one who brought up the Novato example.  I was referring to all of Marin (and its “growth controls”, which are probably more robust than any in Yolo county).  In many ways, Davis is similar (culturally/environmentally) to communities in Marin/Sonoma county. But, it is somewhat isolated locally, regarding that.

          Marin also has an adjacent economic powerhouse (namely, San Francisco). However, businesses there (at least) pay taxes (unlike UCD).

          I didn’t even mention commercial development.  I’m a little concerned that Davis is losing a lot of its existing commercial/industrial zoning, for other (primarily megadorm) uses.

          I’m hoping that the city adequately represents its own interests (including negative financial impacts) from UCD, during the mediation effort.

        14. Ron

          Also, Novato is probably the least-dense city in all of Marin.  It’s quite suburban, in nature. Probably not an accident, since it’s at the far northern end of the county, with a farther commute to S.F.

          It also has at least one large mall, that I’m aware of (e.g., with Costco as an occupant).

        15. Ron

          In any case, I would think that Marin county (as a whole) has less per-capita commercial development than most other communities.  The entire county is essentially a “bedroom community”, for San Francisco.  Not sure how the fiscal situation is (for each community, or the county as a whole).  But, I suspect that’s it’s pretty good – partly as a result of high property valuations (which is also related to growth limitations).

          And, those high property valuations also discourage rampant growth/development, as long as the developers are kept at bay. (Let’s face it, you’ve got to be pretty wealthy to move there, in the first place.)

          A “win-win-win” scenario? (Except perhaps for average schmoes like me, who can’t easily afford to move there.) (Had to look up the spelling of “schmo” at the last minute, before this finalizes.)

        16. Matt Williams

          Ron, the Marin situation you describe is not a “win-win-win scenario” for the working class people who fill the service jobs that make the quality of life as high as it is for the “pretty wealthy” Marin residents.

        17. Ron

          Matt:  That is true.  Hence, the need for some amount of Affordable housing.  (Although much of what I like about Marin has nothing to do with the services provided by such jobs. What I appreciate is much more closely related to the land that was preserved, there. A treasure for everyone – even those who don’t live there, and which is free to use and appreciate. Also not that difficult to access for anyone, since many massive development proposals along the way were effectively blocked.)

          Hopefully, folks aren’t stuck in dead-end jobs their entire lives.

        18. Ron

          One of my ongoing “jokes” with someone I know is as follows:

          “I wonder how much the Native Americans paid to preserve/manage this land, when they were here” (for thousands of years).  (They probably never “closed” such outdoor lands due to budget cuts/standoffs, either. Probably costs more to “close it”, regardless.)

        19. Ken A

          Just like many (but not all) people in Marin are happy that most of their gardeners and cleaning ladies travel across a bridge every day to the East Bay many (but not all) in Davis would be happy if their gardeners, cleaning ladies (and people like me that didn’t go to grad school) traveled across the causeway to and from West Sac every day (or at least drove north to Woodland)…

        20. Ron

          Jim:  That’s an interesting point.  However, I suspect that it (the “Big Q”) doesn’t pay any taxes, either.  And, probably draws workers primarily from places other than Marin – who have easy access from the Richmond/San Rafael bridge.  (Even though it likely pays pretty well, I suspect a lot of Marinites would shun working there.)

          In any case, it certainly does provide “housing”.  🙂  (Including for a rather infamous guy from Modesto, for now.)

          Overall, I suspect that a lot of Marin residents (as well as real estate developers and others in that industry) would rather have that facility “relocated”, somewhere else, thereby freeing up a prime piece of waterfront real estate. (I recall some articles regarding that possibility, within the past few years.)

        21. Ron

          Circling back to the title of this article, San Quentin certainly provides “silo housing”.

          “Bada-bing, bada-boom.”

          (My apologies in advance for all of this.)

        22. Jim Hoch

          They could boost the local economy by taking a page from the SF playbook and ban the onsite food service. Make everyone who lives or works there go out for meals.

        23. Jeff M

          You’re the one who brought up the Novato example.

          Well then pick a city in Marin County that compares to Davis.  Navato appears to be the closest match.

          I hired someone from Mill Valley that lived in Navato.  She lasted about four years and went back.  She said that Davis was:

          1. Too white (which was funny because Marin is uber-white).

          2. Not enough young professionals (she was single in her late 30s when I hired her.)

          3. Too flat.

          4. Too hot in the summer.

          5. Too flat (this was a big deal for her… she liked varied topography).

          6. Not enough high quality restaurants.

          7. Not enough things to do for non-college students.

          One thing she did like was Mondavi Center.

          But it interesting that you selected Marin County… one of the most desirable, exclusive and expensive places to live in the US.  You bring up Sonoma County too… again no city.  Let’s tag Rohnert Park since this is the home of Sonoma State.

          Now this is interesting.  This is from the 2010 census.   The population is only 43k… about 2/3 the population of Davis.  It’s population density is 5,850.  This compares to Davis’s 6,6,73 people per square mile… significantly less but surprisingly closer than another small rural ag-based college town that I have ever noted.  However, sales per capita is $15,483 compared to Davis’s measly $7,062.

          Many of the stats are similar to Davis relative to the population differences, except a few very that are glaring.

          1. Bachelors degree or higher for those over 25: Davis = 73.2%, Rohnert Park = 25.7%.  Median value of owner-occupied housing units 2012 – 2016: Davis = $565,700, Rohnert Park = $341,000.

          But here is a real interesting stat:  Median gross rent 2012-2016 Davis = $1,291, Rohnert Park = $1,407.  Renters in Rohnert Park make up near 49% of the population, in Davis it is 53.3%.  Their most recent rental vacancy rate was reported as 2.7% compared to Davis which is reported to be about .2%.

          Weird stuff.

          But again… more than double the sales per capita.

          And there is this…

          Rohnert Park is in the early stages of a massive downtown redevelopment plan that aims to create a new central hub for Sonoma County’s third largest city and recast it as a retail and commercial destination.
          Set at the 32-acre campus south of Rohnert Park Expressway previously occupied by State Farm Insurance, the proposal imagines a quarter-billion-dollar mixed-use project that emphasizes dining, includes office space and helps shore up local housing needs. With sights set on the ambitious makeover, San Francisco-based Laulima Development closed a deal Dec. 1 for the existing 320,000-square-foot facility and the surrounding land vacated by State Farm in 2011 at a price of $13.5 million, according to the County Clerk-Recorder’s Office.

          “For us, this is a portfolio project,” Jes Slavik, Laulima’s director of development, explained to Rohnert Park City Council earlier this week. “This is the project that we’re going to finish and then we’re going to go to the next one and we’re going to be able to say, ‘Look what we did here — isn’t this great?’”

          Billed as Rohnert Station, the complete overhaul would tie into the North Bay’s new SMART commuter rail line with intentions of a fully integrated pedestrian-focused community. A nearby city square for large-scale public events, such as farmers markets, heritage celebrations, and wine or beer festivals, is also part of the forthcoming application.

          Irvine-based developer SunCal had owned the site since buying the empty campus from State Farm in 2013. After years of negotiations with the city led to unrealized plans for a 117,700-square-foot retail and office development, and 27,000 square feet of flexible space for possible housing, the Southern California company finally scrapped its Rohnert Crossings project and jettisoned the property to Laulima.

          With formal submission slated for January, the new developer now envisions 111,000 square feet of retail, 415 total housing units with the majority as above-retail rentals, and 65,000 square feet of office space located between them. The proposal presently pictures five-story buildings reaching a height of 65 feet, with the ground level for a variety of shops and entertainment, offices on the second floor and three levels for 270 apartments. Another 145 town homes would make up a handful of residential blocks.

          “The office (space) is really important because in a lot of mix-use projects what you see is apartments over retail, and that’s a very, very difficult thing to do,” said Slavik. “It doesn’t always work well, because there’s a lot of conflict between apartments and retail, especially if it’s a restaurant. We work very, very hard to make sure that we minimize these kinds of conflicts.”

          The preliminary designs for Rohnert Station, aimed at revamping the city’s current SMART platform into a complete station acting as a new gateway for the community, elicited measured excitement from City Council members.

          “The downtown is finally going to happen,” said Councilman Amy Ahanotu. “The enthusiasm that I saw tonight hopefully carries forward in the years to come, because it’s not going to be easy. There is still a lot of work to be done.”

          With prior California “urban center” projects under their belts, including Bay Street in Emeryville and Santana Row in San Jose, Laulima managing partner David Bouquillon told the council not to think of Rohnert Station as a “cookie-cutter” development, but one that could produce something truly special in the North Bay. And he is targeting early 2019 for breaking ground with the opening of the urban core by the fall of 2020.

          All this leads me to suggest that you consider relocating to Rohnert Park where you can buy real estate cheaper and then get to work blocking development and growth so that they don’t lose all their charm.

          1. Don Shor

            Rohnert Park is one of those cities that basically didn’t even exist when I moved here.

            However, sales per capita is $15,483 compared to Davis’s measly $7,062.

            Most important difference from Davis: there is a major highway running right through the middle of Rohnert Park, just as with Davis, but unlike Davis every bit of that freeway frontage is accessible and able to be developed for restaurants and retail. Any developer who wants to build something pretty much has any amount of land available, no historic buildings to worry about, no downtown core (historic downtown Rohnert Park I think is actually Cotati).

        24. Ron

          Jeff:  All this leads me to suggest that you consider relocating to Rohnert Park where you can buy real estate cheaper and then get to work blocking development and growth so that they don’t lose all their charm.

          In my opinion, Rohnert Park doesn’t have much “charm” to lose.  I sort of think of it as the “West Sacramento of Sonoma County”.  The other city that you referenced a few weeks ago (Sebastopol) seems a lot closer to Davis, regarding charm and culture.

          Other than the recent megadorm approvals, I’m actually pretty happy with Davis, the way it is.  Despite what the Vanguard reports on a daily basis, I frankly don’t believe that there are multiple “crises” in Davis, which can only be solved by pursuing more development.  (In fact, problems and “crises” can actually be created, by that approach. We’ve already discussed what some of those are, in the case of the megadorms.)

          I never really thought about it before, but it’s really the development-oriented individuals (including those associated with the Vanguard, to some degree) who are the “activists”.  (Unfortunately, there’s some of those in Sonoma county, as well.)  If these types of activists are so dissatisfied with the way things are, there’s plenty of other communities who would probably welcome them with open arms.  (Perhaps including Rohnert Park.)

        25. Ron

          Don:  “Rohnert Park is one of those cities that basically didn’t even exist when I moved here.”

          It’s also been a “poster child” (essentially a primary cause of) the slow-growth movement in Sonoma county.  It’s a sprawling, suburban-type development (adjacent to the freeway, as you noted).  Had the slow-growth movement nor arisen in response to this type of development, much of the rest of Sonoma county would look quite a bit more like Rohnert Park, today. I remember (and was influenced/impressed by) these earlier battles, when I was quite young.

    2. John Hobbs

      ” temporary homeostasis” rapidly turns to entropy. Based upon the fifty or so years I’ve been around here, I think Davis is already there, but I’m not a resident.

  8. Ron

    David:  “You’ve never really asked about this issue. One point I would make, the students who are inter-district transfer generally have to have their parents working in town. So the transfers are not creating necessarily extra traffic. And the other point should be obvious – if we had the housing to accommodate those people, their kids wouldn’t be transfer students anymore.”

    Pretty sure I’ve mentioned it.

    It’s difficult to determine if parents are pursuing/keeping jobs in Davis, for the purpose of keeping their kids in Davis schools.  Regardless – unless parents work “next door” to their kids’ schools, they’re doing some extra driving to drop those kids off.  And, if they didn’t have to drop their kids off, they might then take public transportation to their workplace.

    It’s the height of stupidity to try to “adjust the community” to fit the schools’ needs.

    1. Ron

      And, without the “bonus” of having their kids in Davis schools, parents from outside of Davis might pursue other employment opportunities, thereby “freeing up” jobs for Davis residents.

      The Vanguard’s advocacy regarding schools seems to be driven by considerations other than sound planning. (Actually, that would pretty much apply for all of the Vanguard’s development advocacy.)

      1. Ron

        Another factor is that even if the development activists get their way (and screw up Davis more than they already have, in the process), there’s nothing to prevent parents from continuing the trend of moving to nearby communities (where they will continue to get “more bang for their buck” – regardless of what’s realistically built in Davis), while still commuting to Davis with their kids.

        This particular battle is over.  Davis will never again be a place where there’s large numbers of young families raising lots of children (such as Roseville, for example).  I understand that the schools are pretty good in some of those communities (and may be further improving), as well. And, that’s because there’s lots of families there, with reasonable incomes/resources.

        1. David Greenwald

          “there’s nothing to prevent parents from continuing the trend”

          You clearly don’t understand how this works – the district only takes the numbers of students they can fit.  If more students live here in Davis, the district is under no obligation to take students from outside of Davis.

          ”This particular battle is over…” “Davis will never…”

          Never is a long time.  You’re overstating your case by a large margin.

        2. Ron

          David:  “You clearly don’t understand how this works – the district only takes the numbers of students they can fit.”

          Well, clearly (due to the excess capacity of Davis schools), they can “fit”.  So, I’m pretty sure that I understand it.  But, some are intent upon forcing the community to “adjust” to the needs of the schools.  (I don’t think they’ll be successful, but knock yourself out.)

          Davis:  “Never is a long time.  You’re overstating your case by a large margin.”

          In the bigger picture, births/growth have been leveling off state-wide, compared to past decades.  And, folks are fighting development even in places that are still currently under the control of developers.  (Witness the expansion in Folsom, which was opposed by many residents.  Those residents ended up losing that battle, but such opposition was unheard of – not long ago.)

          I have yet to see any community, as it becomes more expensive, revert back to the “way it was”. However, it is true that some parents have the means to move to more-expensive locations (even San Francisco). (Of course, a lot of them end up sending their kids to private schools, and usually don’t have large families in the first place.)

        3. David Greenwald

          I’m not interested in going round and round on this, but the district has absolute discretion on how many out of district students – if any – they take.

  9. Howard P

    Off the top of my head, that would include almost the entirety of Marin county, much of Sonoma county, areas around Tahoe/Truckee.

    And you’d like Davis to emulate those?

    Why do you not live there?  Your answer will prove the point…

    If you were considering whether to move to Davis today, would/could you do it?

    I know I would, but I couldn’t.

    There are also “not so nice” areas in almost all cities in Marin, Sonoma, and the Tahoe/Truckee area (not all of which are even in CA).

    Perhaps you were thinking Belvedere (darn near a “gated city”), Windsor, Carnelian Bay.  A former Davis CM moved to Incline Village (NV, but Tahoe area). Just me, or does he look like Steve Martin?

      1. Ken A

        I think the “point” was to ask:

        Why do you not live there? (Marin, Sonoma, Tahoe/Truckee)?

        and “If you were considering whether to move to Davis today, would/could you do it?”

         

        1. Ron

          I might live in one of those areas if the opportunity arises, someday.  Marin has better access to jobs (e.g., in S.F.), than anywhere in the valley.  It’s superior in almost every other way (compared to anywhere in the valley), as well.  However, it’s a “might expensive”.  (It also has a particularly high quota of “snobs/entitlement”, but they don’t particularly bother me.  I find them kind of amusing. Other wealthier locales also suffer from that particular “ailment”.)

          If I were just starting out today (in a similar situation to the one I experienced in the past), I’d probably be less willing to move to a community like Davis.  (Even though it remains a better community than most of the others in the Sacramento valley.)  The bottom line is that wages have not kept up with the cost of housing in California – particularly in areas that are comparatively more expensive.

          However, I suspect that prices in Davis have not risen anywhere near as quickly (regardless of how it’s measured), compared to my home town in the Bay Area.

          The valley (and Davis) were never my first choice – even back in the day.  It just worked out that way, for other reasons. I have come to appreciate it more, though.

        2. Ron

          Ken and Howard:

          Perhaps you could (also) answer the questions that you asked me (e.g., would you move to Davis, today? And, would you be able to do so, and would it be your first choice? What other communities might you prefer, over Davis?)

          (Actually, I see that Howard has partially answered those questions, already.)

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for