Why is Davis Suing Dixon?

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As the Davis Enterprise reported last week, Davis is suing Dixon over the construction of Dixon Downs racetrack. The basic problem is the concern that the racing events will let out and dump a huge amount of traffic onto I-80 at the same time. Bill Emlen, Davis City Manager, was quoted at suggesting: “This type of event has major pulses of traffic that come out of it.”

Apparently, the racetrack at Golden Gate Fields at Albany near Berkeley has caused similar problems in the Bay Area where the event traffic mixes with the normal high volume flow of traffic to create even more gridlock.

The Davis City Council is not trying to stop the project per se—although it does not appear that would not disappoint them greatly—rather they are trying to get the City of Dixon to mitigate for the expected flow of traffic. Meanwhile there are movements underfoot in Dixon to put the manner to the ballot and the Davis City Council hopes their action will move that towards reality.

While on the surface this seems like another crazy Davis move, there is a logic to it. The City of Dixon was apparently very unresponsive to concerns by the City of Davis about traffic problems. Bill Emlen actually went before the Dixon City Council to express those concerns, but they were not addressed. The City made several other attempts to communicate through written correspondence but Dixon did not respond. This lack of responsiveness by one jurisdiction to another is rather appalling.

Nevertheless, judging from the early public response to this move, Davis has a lot of explaining to do to this community to get them to understand their rationale behind this somewhat shocking move.

It has been my experience that cities and other jurisdictions involved in ongoing litigation are less than forthcoming with pertinent facts to the public. The political realm is often at odds with the legal realm in this manner. In the political world, the public demands to be fully informed about such maneuvers. However, in the legal world, such maneuvers are often hashed out, as this one was, in private session. That means the public will necessary not be privy to the information and discussions that led up to such an endeavor. When the final decision comes forth it is often shocking. Moreover, there is a tendency for all parties to “lawyer-up” or shutdown communications about the manner pending court action.

The Davis City Council needs to lay out in as much detail as possible the exact reasons for their decision to sue the City of Dixon, so that the public can be fully informed about their rationale.

A second area of concern is the need for this action to occur in the first place. While the City of Dixon is autonomous in terms of city government from the City of Davis, there is also an overlap of resources. For instance, there are strong laws dealing with how running water must be treated in this country. In many ways, common thoroughfares are just as much public goods as natural resources. It is shocking that in this day and age, the only recourse that the City of Davis has is litigation. This is obviously something that should be taken up at the state level, but it is surprising that there are no other means by which to settle the dispute over highway usage, than the courts.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

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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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16 thoughts on “Why is Davis Suing Dixon?”

  1. Anonymous

    The racetrack in the Bay Area is called Bay Meadows and it is located in San Mateo, not Belmont. I have lived within two miles of the ractrack for the past 27 years and I have experienced traffic from the racetrack exactly once. On that particular occassion, I was “stuck” in traffic for a total of about 90 seconds. Maybe I have been lucky but I do not avoid the area – one traffic issue in 27 years is hardly a problem. Perhaps more people will go to Dixon Downs, but it is still hard to imagine any significant traffic problems. It appears that Mr. Emlen has no idea what he is talking about.

    Something to consider. Most people go to the track in large groups – senior aged groups arrive by the bus load. Mass transportation mitigates any traffic issues.SAH

  2. Anonymous

    The racetrack in the Bay Area is called Bay Meadows and it is located in San Mateo, not Belmont. I have lived within two miles of the ractrack for the past 27 years and I have experienced traffic from the racetrack exactly once. On that particular occassion, I was “stuck” in traffic for a total of about 90 seconds. Maybe I have been lucky but I do not avoid the area – one traffic issue in 27 years is hardly a problem. Perhaps more people will go to Dixon Downs, but it is still hard to imagine any significant traffic problems. It appears that Mr. Emlen has no idea what he is talking about.

    Something to consider. Most people go to the track in large groups – senior aged groups arrive by the bus load. Mass transportation mitigates any traffic issues.SAH

  3. Anonymous

    The racetrack in the Bay Area is called Bay Meadows and it is located in San Mateo, not Belmont. I have lived within two miles of the ractrack for the past 27 years and I have experienced traffic from the racetrack exactly once. On that particular occassion, I was “stuck” in traffic for a total of about 90 seconds. Maybe I have been lucky but I do not avoid the area – one traffic issue in 27 years is hardly a problem. Perhaps more people will go to Dixon Downs, but it is still hard to imagine any significant traffic problems. It appears that Mr. Emlen has no idea what he is talking about.

    Something to consider. Most people go to the track in large groups – senior aged groups arrive by the bus load. Mass transportation mitigates any traffic issues.SAH

  4. Anonymous

    The racetrack in the Bay Area is called Bay Meadows and it is located in San Mateo, not Belmont. I have lived within two miles of the ractrack for the past 27 years and I have experienced traffic from the racetrack exactly once. On that particular occassion, I was “stuck” in traffic for a total of about 90 seconds. Maybe I have been lucky but I do not avoid the area – one traffic issue in 27 years is hardly a problem. Perhaps more people will go to Dixon Downs, but it is still hard to imagine any significant traffic problems. It appears that Mr. Emlen has no idea what he is talking about.

    Something to consider. Most people go to the track in large groups – senior aged groups arrive by the bus load. Mass transportation mitigates any traffic issues.SAH

  5. Doug Paul Davis

    This is the one in Albany, I thought it was Belmont, but I’ll have to look it up now.

    That’s the other problem they are having–Dixon wants people to park in Davis and take the train to Dixon. But there is not enough parking for that to happen right now.

  6. Doug Paul Davis

    This is the one in Albany, I thought it was Belmont, but I’ll have to look it up now.

    That’s the other problem they are having–Dixon wants people to park in Davis and take the train to Dixon. But there is not enough parking for that to happen right now.

  7. Doug Paul Davis

    This is the one in Albany, I thought it was Belmont, but I’ll have to look it up now.

    That’s the other problem they are having–Dixon wants people to park in Davis and take the train to Dixon. But there is not enough parking for that to happen right now.

  8. Doug Paul Davis

    This is the one in Albany, I thought it was Belmont, but I’ll have to look it up now.

    That’s the other problem they are having–Dixon wants people to park in Davis and take the train to Dixon. But there is not enough parking for that to happen right now.

  9. Rich Rifkin

    “This is obviously something that should be taken up at the state level, but it is surprising that there are no other means by which to settle the dispute over highway usage, than the courts.”

    I agree. It seems to me that there should be a state mediation process, whenever one municipality is directly affected by the decisions of another.

    However, in this particular case, I think you have to call “bogus” on the city of Davis. Dixon Downs will average about 2,200 people per day. Let’s say that is 1,000 cars. And most people will only be there for part of the day. Some will arrive before the first race. Many will arrive mid way through the event. And people often leave horse racing well before the final race is run. So it’s likely that you will generally not have the whole crowd pouring out onto the freeway at once.

    Beyond that, 2,200 is really not such a large number. If we are suing Dixon over 2,200, why not sue West Sac over 12,000 people who attend ballgames at Raley Field? Unlike horse racing, where people come and others go, just about everyone leaves and arrives at a baseball game at the same time. That really ought to impact traffic. Yet my experience suggests that it does not.

    “This is the one in Albany, I thought it was Belmont, but I’ll have to look it up now.”

    Golden Gate Fields is in Albany (although not near where anyone in Albany lives). I have never heard that attendance at that track has had much of an impact on I-80 in the Albany area. However, it must be noted that the stretch of I-80 from Richmond to Berkeley to the Bay Bridge is usually very slow moving, regardless of any event traffic.

    If Dixon Downs is built, Golden Gate Fields will remain in business. Dixon Downs is designed to replace Bay Meadows.

  10. Rich Rifkin

    “This is obviously something that should be taken up at the state level, but it is surprising that there are no other means by which to settle the dispute over highway usage, than the courts.”

    I agree. It seems to me that there should be a state mediation process, whenever one municipality is directly affected by the decisions of another.

    However, in this particular case, I think you have to call “bogus” on the city of Davis. Dixon Downs will average about 2,200 people per day. Let’s say that is 1,000 cars. And most people will only be there for part of the day. Some will arrive before the first race. Many will arrive mid way through the event. And people often leave horse racing well before the final race is run. So it’s likely that you will generally not have the whole crowd pouring out onto the freeway at once.

    Beyond that, 2,200 is really not such a large number. If we are suing Dixon over 2,200, why not sue West Sac over 12,000 people who attend ballgames at Raley Field? Unlike horse racing, where people come and others go, just about everyone leaves and arrives at a baseball game at the same time. That really ought to impact traffic. Yet my experience suggests that it does not.

    “This is the one in Albany, I thought it was Belmont, but I’ll have to look it up now.”

    Golden Gate Fields is in Albany (although not near where anyone in Albany lives). I have never heard that attendance at that track has had much of an impact on I-80 in the Albany area. However, it must be noted that the stretch of I-80 from Richmond to Berkeley to the Bay Bridge is usually very slow moving, regardless of any event traffic.

    If Dixon Downs is built, Golden Gate Fields will remain in business. Dixon Downs is designed to replace Bay Meadows.

  11. Rich Rifkin

    “This is obviously something that should be taken up at the state level, but it is surprising that there are no other means by which to settle the dispute over highway usage, than the courts.”

    I agree. It seems to me that there should be a state mediation process, whenever one municipality is directly affected by the decisions of another.

    However, in this particular case, I think you have to call “bogus” on the city of Davis. Dixon Downs will average about 2,200 people per day. Let’s say that is 1,000 cars. And most people will only be there for part of the day. Some will arrive before the first race. Many will arrive mid way through the event. And people often leave horse racing well before the final race is run. So it’s likely that you will generally not have the whole crowd pouring out onto the freeway at once.

    Beyond that, 2,200 is really not such a large number. If we are suing Dixon over 2,200, why not sue West Sac over 12,000 people who attend ballgames at Raley Field? Unlike horse racing, where people come and others go, just about everyone leaves and arrives at a baseball game at the same time. That really ought to impact traffic. Yet my experience suggests that it does not.

    “This is the one in Albany, I thought it was Belmont, but I’ll have to look it up now.”

    Golden Gate Fields is in Albany (although not near where anyone in Albany lives). I have never heard that attendance at that track has had much of an impact on I-80 in the Albany area. However, it must be noted that the stretch of I-80 from Richmond to Berkeley to the Bay Bridge is usually very slow moving, regardless of any event traffic.

    If Dixon Downs is built, Golden Gate Fields will remain in business. Dixon Downs is designed to replace Bay Meadows.

  12. Rich Rifkin

    “This is obviously something that should be taken up at the state level, but it is surprising that there are no other means by which to settle the dispute over highway usage, than the courts.”

    I agree. It seems to me that there should be a state mediation process, whenever one municipality is directly affected by the decisions of another.

    However, in this particular case, I think you have to call “bogus” on the city of Davis. Dixon Downs will average about 2,200 people per day. Let’s say that is 1,000 cars. And most people will only be there for part of the day. Some will arrive before the first race. Many will arrive mid way through the event. And people often leave horse racing well before the final race is run. So it’s likely that you will generally not have the whole crowd pouring out onto the freeway at once.

    Beyond that, 2,200 is really not such a large number. If we are suing Dixon over 2,200, why not sue West Sac over 12,000 people who attend ballgames at Raley Field? Unlike horse racing, where people come and others go, just about everyone leaves and arrives at a baseball game at the same time. That really ought to impact traffic. Yet my experience suggests that it does not.

    “This is the one in Albany, I thought it was Belmont, but I’ll have to look it up now.”

    Golden Gate Fields is in Albany (although not near where anyone in Albany lives). I have never heard that attendance at that track has had much of an impact on I-80 in the Albany area. However, it must be noted that the stretch of I-80 from Richmond to Berkeley to the Bay Bridge is usually very slow moving, regardless of any event traffic.

    If Dixon Downs is built, Golden Gate Fields will remain in business. Dixon Downs is designed to replace Bay Meadows.

  13. Doug Paul Davis

    Golden Gate fields–that it. Fixed on the front page.

    Rich’s points are what disturbs me about the process–we don’t get to have this discussion.

    Dixon would not address the concerns of the Davis City Council. They obviously have a different viewpoint than Rich, and they probably have some reports that suggest their point of view is correct. I don’t know who is right to be very honest.

    But because Dixon wouldn’t discuss it, and we didn’t have a public discussion in Davis, it’s now a legal manner that decided in closed sessions and again, we will not have a public discussion.

  14. Doug Paul Davis

    Golden Gate fields–that it. Fixed on the front page.

    Rich’s points are what disturbs me about the process–we don’t get to have this discussion.

    Dixon would not address the concerns of the Davis City Council. They obviously have a different viewpoint than Rich, and they probably have some reports that suggest their point of view is correct. I don’t know who is right to be very honest.

    But because Dixon wouldn’t discuss it, and we didn’t have a public discussion in Davis, it’s now a legal manner that decided in closed sessions and again, we will not have a public discussion.

  15. Doug Paul Davis

    Golden Gate fields–that it. Fixed on the front page.

    Rich’s points are what disturbs me about the process–we don’t get to have this discussion.

    Dixon would not address the concerns of the Davis City Council. They obviously have a different viewpoint than Rich, and they probably have some reports that suggest their point of view is correct. I don’t know who is right to be very honest.

    But because Dixon wouldn’t discuss it, and we didn’t have a public discussion in Davis, it’s now a legal manner that decided in closed sessions and again, we will not have a public discussion.

  16. Doug Paul Davis

    Golden Gate fields–that it. Fixed on the front page.

    Rich’s points are what disturbs me about the process–we don’t get to have this discussion.

    Dixon would not address the concerns of the Davis City Council. They obviously have a different viewpoint than Rich, and they probably have some reports that suggest their point of view is correct. I don’t know who is right to be very honest.

    But because Dixon wouldn’t discuss it, and we didn’t have a public discussion in Davis, it’s now a legal manner that decided in closed sessions and again, we will not have a public discussion.

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