On Tuesday the County Board of Supervisors approved a change to the land use designation of Covell Village for County purposes to an agricultural use/ project specific definition. While this stopped somewhat short of the outright agricultural use designation that County Supervisor Jim Provenza sought on Monday, he told the Vanguard that he believes it accomplishes nearly the same thing.
The main thing it accomplishes is that it would prevent the site from being sold to a new owner from immediately being able to place an industrial use on the site. It would also require basically a new general plan discussion in order for there to be a change of the land use.
Supervisors Helen Thomson and Mike McGowan originally fought against this change. Supervisor Thomson argued on Monday that the change would lower the property value and thus decrease the taxes destined for the county. However, at most that number would be around $3000, which is not a drop in the bucket compared with a deficit running well into eight figures.
Supervisor Thomson argued that she did not want to put the land to industrial use but did want to preserve the ability to negotiate. She also argued any change was unnecessary between Measure J and the pass-through agreement. She pointed out that the community was not going to allow anything to happen on the property that they did not want as it has been demonstrate already in 2005 when the voters defeated Measure J by a 60-40 vote.
Supervisor Mike McGowan was more pointed suggesting that he “intend[s] for that property to developed in some fashion at some point.”
“That’s not just, in perpetuity, a blind spot on the map.”
Lydia Delis-Schlosser representing the Covell Village partners once again made the argument that the residents didn’t vote against development.
While this discussion took place on Monday, by Tuesday the County Board of Supervisors voted on a 4-1 to change the land use designation. Supervisor Chamberlain was the lone “no” vote and only because the measure was not strong enough. Supervisors Thomson and McGowan despite their criticism and clear support for development at some point ended up voting yes for the land use designation.
But it appears from comments that Supervisor McGowan made that he intends for the county to do exactly that if the city does not act to develop the site. This is not the first time that McGowan has made these sorts of pointed comments toward lands in the Davis sphere of influence resting right on the city limits.
Back in 2007, McGowan made these comments in reference to possible development on Davis’ periphery:
“I don’t care where (Davis) puts their additional units, but from any standpoint they have to absorb their fair share. I’m not telling them where to grow.”
“One of the reasons we are embarking on the General Plan update is that we can’t maintain the old way of doing business; we aren’t generating the revenues we need.”
In fact, Supervisor McGowan needs to get over himself. He is not on the Davis City Council nor is he for that matter our representative on the Board of Supervisors. The citizens of Davis clearly voted their intentions back in 2005 and Mr. McGowan if he does not respect that vote ought to respect the agreement that he agreed to with the city of Davis that says that the county will not initiate growth in Davis’ planning area as outlined by the pass-through agreement.
What has now changed with the election of Jim Provenza to the Board of Supervisors is that there is under most conditions a majority that is not interested in county imposed growth on Davis’ border. Mr. Provenza deserves great credit for achieving this victory.
This leads me to my final point, again raised by Lydia Delis-Schlosser who was echoing comments made by Councilmembers Souza, Saylor, and Asmundson at a recent Davis City Council meeting–i.e. the meaning of the Covell Village vote.
I am tired of people who voted for the project telling me what my vote did or did not mean. As far as I know we have taken one vote on development of that site, a project that they all supported, and they were voted down 60-40. As far as I know no one else has polled the public on their feelings about developing that site. Clearly those individuals who were in the minority on Covell Village are not particularly astute when it comes to the public’s feelings on this topic, they were part of the minority view, and it seems arrogant presumption on their part that they would presume to tell me and others like me what my vote did or did not mean.
In the strictest sense the vote against Measure X was indeed a vote against that particular project. However from my perspective and many others, we have no desire to see that land developed for the foreseeable future. That might fall short of perpetuity which is indeed be a long time, but I would prefer the city focus on small projects within the current boundaries of Davis before the community and not the developers have a discussion of where and how to grow. In short, my vote was against growth for the foreseeable future. I will not presume as they have to speak for others who voted against the project, but I would suggest they find out where others lie before making such assertions in the future.
—David M. Greenwald reporting