Davis General Plan Housing Element Committee Convenes to Some Early Controversy

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The Housing Element Steering Committee convened for the first time the other night to a discussion, ironically enough, on the issue of Conflict of Interests. It is ironic that they have this discussion in light of what happened with the County General Plan update and what we reported yesterday where a member was actively pushing a proposal that would directly financially improve his property which was adjacent to the property designated for development at Oeste Ranch.

Former Davis City Councilmember and Committee Member Mike Harrington said at the meeting, “Some people in this room stand to make tens of millions of dollars from our decisions.”

According to the Davis Enterprise:

“Committee members wouldn’t need to recuse themselves because their vote would be one of 15, said Bob Wolcott, Davis’ principal planner. One person wouldn’t be able to sway the vote unless there was a good reason to put housing on a property he or she had a financial interest in.”

That is not the principles that the rest of government uses to determine conflicts of interest.

An individual city councilmember is just one of five, and yet anytime a discussion comes within 500 feet of their property they must recuse themselves.

The City is ironically updating its Conflict-of-Interest code:

“Pursuant to Government Code Section 87302, the code will designate employees and officials who must disclose certain investments, income, interests in real property and business positions, and who must disqualify themselves from making or participating in the making of governmental decisions affecting those interests.”

These include members of commissions–commissions of course can only recommend to the city council rather than act on proposals and yet they are required to disclose fully their financial interests and they are also required to disqualify themselves from making or participating in governmental decisions affecting those interests. These members not only sit on body as one of seven, but the proposals also generally require a council vote be enacted. The process is thus diffused from an individual commissioner having undue influence and yet they are held to stringent conflict of interest prohibitions.

Why is there a lower standard for the updating of the General Plan Housing Element than for the City Council or Commissions? Wolcott’s answer seems fundamentally non-responsive to those key differences. Is his argument because this body is larger? Because it would seem that the same basic principals apply regardless of size.

Many of the members of this committee stand to make large sums of money not only directly from the Housing Element Update but also indirectly in the increase of their property values as the result in changes in the land-use element and the development strategies adopted by this committee.

By the way, two of the members are out–Jeff Adamski and Brenda Little. They were replaced by alternates Kevin Wolf and Lucas Frerichs. Kevin Wolf was one of the big proponents of Measure X while Frerichs is a member of the Social Services Commission and a legislative aid.

—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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48 thoughts on “Davis General Plan Housing Element Committee Convenes to Some Early Controversy”

  1. Davisite

    The sterilizing light of public scrutiny perhaps was instrumental in the appearance of new members on the Steering Committee… another kudo for Peoples’ Vanguard.

    It is well to remember that the new replacement, Kevin Wolfe, was accused of misrepresenting himself as a spokesperson for Friends of the River in Yes on X(pro-Covell Village)mailings. As I recall, he was also the author of an inflamatory pro-Covell Village Cal Aggie article that was seen by many as slandering respected No on X Davis citizens.

  2. Davisite

    The sterilizing light of public scrutiny perhaps was instrumental in the appearance of new members on the Steering Committee… another kudo for Peoples’ Vanguard.

    It is well to remember that the new replacement, Kevin Wolfe, was accused of misrepresenting himself as a spokesperson for Friends of the River in Yes on X(pro-Covell Village)mailings. As I recall, he was also the author of an inflamatory pro-Covell Village Cal Aggie article that was seen by many as slandering respected No on X Davis citizens.

  3. Davisite

    The sterilizing light of public scrutiny perhaps was instrumental in the appearance of new members on the Steering Committee… another kudo for Peoples’ Vanguard.

    It is well to remember that the new replacement, Kevin Wolfe, was accused of misrepresenting himself as a spokesperson for Friends of the River in Yes on X(pro-Covell Village)mailings. As I recall, he was also the author of an inflamatory pro-Covell Village Cal Aggie article that was seen by many as slandering respected No on X Davis citizens.

  4. Davisite

    The sterilizing light of public scrutiny perhaps was instrumental in the appearance of new members on the Steering Committee… another kudo for Peoples’ Vanguard.

    It is well to remember that the new replacement, Kevin Wolfe, was accused of misrepresenting himself as a spokesperson for Friends of the River in Yes on X(pro-Covell Village)mailings. As I recall, he was also the author of an inflamatory pro-Covell Village Cal Aggie article that was seen by many as slandering respected No on X Davis citizens.

  5. Rich Rifkin

    “They were replaced by alternates Kevin Wolf and Lucas Frerichs. Kevin Wolf was one of the big proponents of Measure X…”

    I don’t see how it is relevant to this ‘controversy’ that Wolf was a ‘big proponent’ of Measure X. That is not a conflict of interest. That’s just a political point of view. To my knowledge, Wolf stood to gain nothing financially from supporting Measure X.

    For what it’s worth, Wolf was a ‘big opponent’ of the Wildhorse development, which, like Covell Village, went to the voters in Davis.

    And when Gerald Glazer and Rodney Robinson pocketted the money from the WHOA settlement, it was Wolf who led the group to uncover the surreptitious deal and recover the money.

    As such, I think it’s unfair to categorize Wolf (who I don’t know personally, I should add) as some kind of shill for developers.

  6. Rich Rifkin

    “They were replaced by alternates Kevin Wolf and Lucas Frerichs. Kevin Wolf was one of the big proponents of Measure X…”

    I don’t see how it is relevant to this ‘controversy’ that Wolf was a ‘big proponent’ of Measure X. That is not a conflict of interest. That’s just a political point of view. To my knowledge, Wolf stood to gain nothing financially from supporting Measure X.

    For what it’s worth, Wolf was a ‘big opponent’ of the Wildhorse development, which, like Covell Village, went to the voters in Davis.

    And when Gerald Glazer and Rodney Robinson pocketted the money from the WHOA settlement, it was Wolf who led the group to uncover the surreptitious deal and recover the money.

    As such, I think it’s unfair to categorize Wolf (who I don’t know personally, I should add) as some kind of shill for developers.

  7. Rich Rifkin

    “They were replaced by alternates Kevin Wolf and Lucas Frerichs. Kevin Wolf was one of the big proponents of Measure X…”

    I don’t see how it is relevant to this ‘controversy’ that Wolf was a ‘big proponent’ of Measure X. That is not a conflict of interest. That’s just a political point of view. To my knowledge, Wolf stood to gain nothing financially from supporting Measure X.

    For what it’s worth, Wolf was a ‘big opponent’ of the Wildhorse development, which, like Covell Village, went to the voters in Davis.

    And when Gerald Glazer and Rodney Robinson pocketted the money from the WHOA settlement, it was Wolf who led the group to uncover the surreptitious deal and recover the money.

    As such, I think it’s unfair to categorize Wolf (who I don’t know personally, I should add) as some kind of shill for developers.

  8. Rich Rifkin

    “They were replaced by alternates Kevin Wolf and Lucas Frerichs. Kevin Wolf was one of the big proponents of Measure X…”

    I don’t see how it is relevant to this ‘controversy’ that Wolf was a ‘big proponent’ of Measure X. That is not a conflict of interest. That’s just a political point of view. To my knowledge, Wolf stood to gain nothing financially from supporting Measure X.

    For what it’s worth, Wolf was a ‘big opponent’ of the Wildhorse development, which, like Covell Village, went to the voters in Davis.

    And when Gerald Glazer and Rodney Robinson pocketted the money from the WHOA settlement, it was Wolf who led the group to uncover the surreptitious deal and recover the money.

    As such, I think it’s unfair to categorize Wolf (who I don’t know personally, I should add) as some kind of shill for developers.

  9. 無名 - wu ming

    following conflict of interest laws seems reasonable to me. whether the political body has 5, 9 or 15 members, people shouldn’t be voting on issues that potentially make them money.

  10. 無名 - wu ming

    following conflict of interest laws seems reasonable to me. whether the political body has 5, 9 or 15 members, people shouldn’t be voting on issues that potentially make them money.

  11. 無名 - wu ming

    following conflict of interest laws seems reasonable to me. whether the political body has 5, 9 or 15 members, people shouldn’t be voting on issues that potentially make them money.

  12. 無名 - wu ming

    following conflict of interest laws seems reasonable to me. whether the political body has 5, 9 or 15 members, people shouldn’t be voting on issues that potentially make them money.

  13. 無名 - wu ming

    oh, and while i have no opinion on mr. wolf either way, davis politics is chock full of unfounded accusations of people being shills for developers, it’s hardly something that distinguishes wolf from, say, the majority of letters to the Enterprise or this site.

    and gidaro did in fact run push polls for forbes et al before the election. i know because i got called.

  14. 無名 - wu ming

    oh, and while i have no opinion on mr. wolf either way, davis politics is chock full of unfounded accusations of people being shills for developers, it’s hardly something that distinguishes wolf from, say, the majority of letters to the Enterprise or this site.

    and gidaro did in fact run push polls for forbes et al before the election. i know because i got called.

  15. 無名 - wu ming

    oh, and while i have no opinion on mr. wolf either way, davis politics is chock full of unfounded accusations of people being shills for developers, it’s hardly something that distinguishes wolf from, say, the majority of letters to the Enterprise or this site.

    and gidaro did in fact run push polls for forbes et al before the election. i know because i got called.

  16. 無名 - wu ming

    oh, and while i have no opinion on mr. wolf either way, davis politics is chock full of unfounded accusations of people being shills for developers, it’s hardly something that distinguishes wolf from, say, the majority of letters to the Enterprise or this site.

    and gidaro did in fact run push polls for forbes et al before the election. i know because i got called.

  17. Davisite

    ………..except, of course, that Kevin Wolfe is not commenting on this blog or writing letters to the editor, he is a select member of the Davis Steering Committee for the General Plan Housing Element.

  18. Davisite

    ………..except, of course, that Kevin Wolfe is not commenting on this blog or writing letters to the editor, he is a select member of the Davis Steering Committee for the General Plan Housing Element.

  19. Davisite

    ………..except, of course, that Kevin Wolfe is not commenting on this blog or writing letters to the editor, he is a select member of the Davis Steering Committee for the General Plan Housing Element.

  20. Davisite

    ………..except, of course, that Kevin Wolfe is not commenting on this blog or writing letters to the editor, he is a select member of the Davis Steering Committee for the General Plan Housing Element.

  21. Doug Paul Davis

    Rich:

    “They were replaced by alternates Kevin Wolf and Lucas Frerichs. Kevin Wolf was one of the big proponents of Measure X…”

    That was really an aside to the main story and had nothing to do with the interest of conflict of interest. That was a little of background.

    My understanding of Kevin Wolf, as someone who does know him, is that he has gone from environmentalist to a strong supporter for developers in the last five years or so. At the time of WHOA he was on one side of the debates, recently he has supported development and developer friendly candidates.

  22. Doug Paul Davis

    Rich:

    “They were replaced by alternates Kevin Wolf and Lucas Frerichs. Kevin Wolf was one of the big proponents of Measure X…”

    That was really an aside to the main story and had nothing to do with the interest of conflict of interest. That was a little of background.

    My understanding of Kevin Wolf, as someone who does know him, is that he has gone from environmentalist to a strong supporter for developers in the last five years or so. At the time of WHOA he was on one side of the debates, recently he has supported development and developer friendly candidates.

  23. Doug Paul Davis

    Rich:

    “They were replaced by alternates Kevin Wolf and Lucas Frerichs. Kevin Wolf was one of the big proponents of Measure X…”

    That was really an aside to the main story and had nothing to do with the interest of conflict of interest. That was a little of background.

    My understanding of Kevin Wolf, as someone who does know him, is that he has gone from environmentalist to a strong supporter for developers in the last five years or so. At the time of WHOA he was on one side of the debates, recently he has supported development and developer friendly candidates.

  24. Doug Paul Davis

    Rich:

    “They were replaced by alternates Kevin Wolf and Lucas Frerichs. Kevin Wolf was one of the big proponents of Measure X…”

    That was really an aside to the main story and had nothing to do with the interest of conflict of interest. That was a little of background.

    My understanding of Kevin Wolf, as someone who does know him, is that he has gone from environmentalist to a strong supporter for developers in the last five years or so. At the time of WHOA he was on one side of the debates, recently he has supported development and developer friendly candidates.

  25. Rich Rifkin

    “My understanding of Kevin Wolf, as someone who does know him, is that he has gone from environmentalist to a strong supporter for developers in the last five years or so.”

    A strong supporter of developers, period? Or a supporter of some developments?

    It seems to me that if the latter is the case, then one could still be “an environmentalist.” However, if it is the former, then I would think that would only be true if he A) was making his living from all of these developments or b) he had some personal issues which caused him to fundamentally change his entire world view.

    In that you know him personally, what is it?

  26. Rich Rifkin

    “My understanding of Kevin Wolf, as someone who does know him, is that he has gone from environmentalist to a strong supporter for developers in the last five years or so.”

    A strong supporter of developers, period? Or a supporter of some developments?

    It seems to me that if the latter is the case, then one could still be “an environmentalist.” However, if it is the former, then I would think that would only be true if he A) was making his living from all of these developments or b) he had some personal issues which caused him to fundamentally change his entire world view.

    In that you know him personally, what is it?

  27. Rich Rifkin

    “My understanding of Kevin Wolf, as someone who does know him, is that he has gone from environmentalist to a strong supporter for developers in the last five years or so.”

    A strong supporter of developers, period? Or a supporter of some developments?

    It seems to me that if the latter is the case, then one could still be “an environmentalist.” However, if it is the former, then I would think that would only be true if he A) was making his living from all of these developments or b) he had some personal issues which caused him to fundamentally change his entire world view.

    In that you know him personally, what is it?

  28. Rich Rifkin

    “My understanding of Kevin Wolf, as someone who does know him, is that he has gone from environmentalist to a strong supporter for developers in the last five years or so.”

    A strong supporter of developers, period? Or a supporter of some developments?

    It seems to me that if the latter is the case, then one could still be “an environmentalist.” However, if it is the former, then I would think that would only be true if he A) was making his living from all of these developments or b) he had some personal issues which caused him to fundamentally change his entire world view.

    In that you know him personally, what is it?

  29. Anonymous

    I only know him from the Measure X campaign and, previously, the City Council election of 2004. His behavior was unethical and he lost credibility. As one of 15, hopefully his influence will be minimized.

  30. Anonymous

    I only know him from the Measure X campaign and, previously, the City Council election of 2004. His behavior was unethical and he lost credibility. As one of 15, hopefully his influence will be minimized.

  31. Anonymous

    I only know him from the Measure X campaign and, previously, the City Council election of 2004. His behavior was unethical and he lost credibility. As one of 15, hopefully his influence will be minimized.

  32. Anonymous

    I only know him from the Measure X campaign and, previously, the City Council election of 2004. His behavior was unethical and he lost credibility. As one of 15, hopefully his influence will be minimized.

  33. Anonymous

    Kevin Wolf’s previous support of the Covell Village project, and of political candidates who favor accelerated residential growth, is not a conflict of interest. He is entitled to his point of view, just like every other member of the committee. His activities over the past few years have largely revealed his true allegiances, anyway.

    Nor is the fact that he was misrepresented as being a spokesperson for Friends of the River in a Covell Village brochure. (It was never revealed whether Wolf was working for the Covell developers during that campaign, but many had suspicions.)

    What IS relelvant to conflict of interest considerations is whether he stands to gain financially from his activities as a member of this committee. He may have some true conflicts of interest in that regard. Given the way the financial disclosures for this committee are made, we may never know the answer to this question.

  34. Anonymous

    Kevin Wolf’s previous support of the Covell Village project, and of political candidates who favor accelerated residential growth, is not a conflict of interest. He is entitled to his point of view, just like every other member of the committee. His activities over the past few years have largely revealed his true allegiances, anyway.

    Nor is the fact that he was misrepresented as being a spokesperson for Friends of the River in a Covell Village brochure. (It was never revealed whether Wolf was working for the Covell developers during that campaign, but many had suspicions.)

    What IS relelvant to conflict of interest considerations is whether he stands to gain financially from his activities as a member of this committee. He may have some true conflicts of interest in that regard. Given the way the financial disclosures for this committee are made, we may never know the answer to this question.

  35. Anonymous

    Kevin Wolf’s previous support of the Covell Village project, and of political candidates who favor accelerated residential growth, is not a conflict of interest. He is entitled to his point of view, just like every other member of the committee. His activities over the past few years have largely revealed his true allegiances, anyway.

    Nor is the fact that he was misrepresented as being a spokesperson for Friends of the River in a Covell Village brochure. (It was never revealed whether Wolf was working for the Covell developers during that campaign, but many had suspicions.)

    What IS relelvant to conflict of interest considerations is whether he stands to gain financially from his activities as a member of this committee. He may have some true conflicts of interest in that regard. Given the way the financial disclosures for this committee are made, we may never know the answer to this question.

  36. Anonymous

    Kevin Wolf’s previous support of the Covell Village project, and of political candidates who favor accelerated residential growth, is not a conflict of interest. He is entitled to his point of view, just like every other member of the committee. His activities over the past few years have largely revealed his true allegiances, anyway.

    Nor is the fact that he was misrepresented as being a spokesperson for Friends of the River in a Covell Village brochure. (It was never revealed whether Wolf was working for the Covell developers during that campaign, but many had suspicions.)

    What IS relelvant to conflict of interest considerations is whether he stands to gain financially from his activities as a member of this committee. He may have some true conflicts of interest in that regard. Given the way the financial disclosures for this committee are made, we may never know the answer to this question.

  37. Davisite

    Those on this “select” committee who demonstrated a less-than-rigorous truthfulness in their advocacy of the voter-rejected Covell Village development damage the legitimacy of the Steering Committee’s deliberations on this site.

  38. Davisite

    Those on this “select” committee who demonstrated a less-than-rigorous truthfulness in their advocacy of the voter-rejected Covell Village development damage the legitimacy of the Steering Committee’s deliberations on this site.

  39. Davisite

    Those on this “select” committee who demonstrated a less-than-rigorous truthfulness in their advocacy of the voter-rejected Covell Village development damage the legitimacy of the Steering Committee’s deliberations on this site.

  40. Davisite

    Those on this “select” committee who demonstrated a less-than-rigorous truthfulness in their advocacy of the voter-rejected Covell Village development damage the legitimacy of the Steering Committee’s deliberations on this site.

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