Council About to Squander SACOG Funding Opportunity on Fifth Street Redesign



Over 2500 Sign Petition in Support – These Are Your Customers DDBA, Are You Listening!

It does not seem very long ago that DDBA co-President Jennifer Anderson proudly strode to the mic at Community Chambers to announce that they had collected 400 signatures opposing the Fifth Street Redesign. 

Tonight Council once again will hear staff on the Fifth Street redesign, just over a month after they approved funding for a SACOG grant.  This time it is supporters of the project that will be armed to the teeth with a petition–2500 strong in favor of the redesign.  DDBA, how do you like them apples?

As the map above shows very clearly, this is a redesign supported throughout the city rather than some nimby-effort clustered in old north Davis.  DDBA, these are your customers.  The question is whether the DDBA will listen to the concerns of their customers or continue to panic in the face of irrational and unfounded fears that a redesign will hurt their businesses.

Tonight is a crucial hearing once again, as the council back in May backed into the dreaded punt formation and from the staff report it appears they may try the strategic first down punt tonight.

Simply reading the staff report it becomes very clear the intention of staff.  Staff is not recommending that the Council direct them to proceed with the redesign.  No, that might be a risky forward pass.


“Staff recommends the City Council re-affirm the approved workplan and timeline for evaluating options for the Fifth Street Corridor. The workplan calls for the City Council to make a decision on which option, if any, to pursue for the corridor in October.”

The staff report goes on to waffle at considerable length:

“The City has committed to a comprehensive, inclusive process for addressing the prospect of a “road diet” or other alternatives to make the Fifth Street corridor friendlier to other transportation modes. The city recently received correspondence from individuals in the community supportive of the “road diet”. These individuals contend that there is some urgency to accelerate a decision on the “road diet” to tonight’s meeting given SACOG’s request for evidence of community support in conjunction with their review of the city’s grant funding request for the project.”


“While it is probably true that our grant application would not receive favorable consideration without community support as evidenced by an affirmative Council action, it is not a guarantee of funding as SACOG has identified other issues with the request.  We may be able to address those issues, but there is still a possibility we will not receive funding.  Accordingly, staff would caution against accelerating a decision solely for the purpose of the grant request. Staff believes ultimate “community buy in” will be more achievable by adhering to the process previously articulated. While receiving the grant would certainly be desirable, it is important to note we do have an established funding source from roadway impact fees with an adequate fund balance to proceed with the project. Also, should Fifth Street not be funded by SACOG, there is still the possibility that our other grant request to fund the 3rd. 1st. and B street improvements will be funded, and that would free up funds that would otherwise be used for those projects.”

If I read this correctly, the suggestion is to delay even if that delays imperils our ability to gain funding for the project.

Back in May, when the city first went into punt formation on this issue, City Manager Bill Emlen called for more process.  Remember we have already squandered one funding source from SACOG for this project in the past due to inaction and now we face it again.  The appalling factor is the cavalier attitude of the city in the face of the loss of a funding opportunity.

As proponents point out, supporters at the May 19th hearing alerted council to the fact that the SACOG funding deadline would be moved up.   In ten weeks between my statement and the end of July, there were 16 accidents, producing 12 injuries.  Three involving pedestrians, and 4 bicyclists.

Several people have flat out told me that SACOG funding will be highly unlikely without approval of the project tonight.  The city may not seem to have a sense of urgency on this matter, to me that that is highly irresponsible.  The 2300 signature drive shows the depth of that support.  The map shows the fact that it is not simply limited to one section of town.  The city budget crisis cries for us not to squander opportunities to fund these projects.

The irresponsibility of the city on this issue on so many different levels is appalling.  Hopefully tonight, the council will hear from the community on this issue.  DDBA needs to remember they are not a pressure group, they are the pressured.  The public is the one that buys goods and services from the DDBA.  They need us.

I have always been a strong supporter of the Davis Downtown.  I am a strong opponent of Target and will support all efforts to bolster and strengthen the downtown, but they need to trust us, the public, that things will be better if Fifth Street is safer and we can have a more enjoyable journey to our downtown shopping experience.

The fate of the Fifth Street Redesign is now in the hands of the people and the hands of the council.  It is my true hope that the council will step up and finally show leadership on this issue.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


About The Author

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

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29 thoughts on “Council About to Squander SACOG Funding Opportunity on Fifth Street Redesign”

  1. Mike Harrington

    Jennifer: I have lived and worked downtown since 1995. I have shopped at Davis Lumber (now Ace Hardware) all that time. I used to perform annual inspections on your Dad’s Cessna while I worked at Davis Air Repair, before going to UC Davis.

    The road redesign will be a very good thing for the downtown.

  2. Sue Greenwald


    I thought you were going to do an investigative report about the Wildhorse Ranch Yes On P ballot campaign’s rebuttal statement falsely claiming a $4 million net fiscal benefit windfall from the project.

    You interviewed Mark Siegler days ago, but no article. Today is the last day for the campaign to a arrange a correction so that we can have an honest campaign.

    You are not shy about looking under rocks for scandals, real or imagined. You wouldn’t have to lift any rocks to find this one.

  3. Ryan Kelly

    Sue reads the article and ignores it and openly tells us that she needs to use the Vanguard to bolster a campaign for another matter and that she is clearly ticked off that David hasn’t complied with her wishes to write further about the Wildhorse development?

    Mike’s argument makes no sense. I don’t think the fact that he used to inspect Jennifer Anderson’s father’s airplane will sway her one way or another.

    I think the map is very good. It demonstrates the broad support for the redesign and will be difficult for the Council to ignore. It will also help staff be more confident in moving forward, seeing that there is wide-spread buy in by the public for this project.

  4. Greg Kuperberg

    [i]DDBA, how do you like them apples?[/i]

    The fifth street corridor redesign has always sounded good to me. However, I do not support the comment, “DDBA, how do you like them apples?” SACOG has already implied that it doesn’t want to hear it either, and that is a point that the city staff report emphasizes.

    The SACOG letter from August 24 also said that the pre-proposal looked incomplete. The letter also says that the city previously submitted an application for this project and then withdrew it. It makes a bad impression on any funding agency to throw an incomplete application over the transom at the last minute, and then take it back because you can’t decide what you want.

    I suspect that those who want this project will have to find a way to compromise with DDBA, and not just lecture and taunt DDBA.

    Also, if Target casts such a big shadow on Davis, now is a good time to think about a different road that has its own share of safety problems: 2nd Street in East Davis. That street had a fatal car accident last year.

  5. Real world

    The map is a great visual reference, but I would have put a large T where Target will be opening in October. This might turn out to be THE “traffic calming device” that 5th Street needs. For most of Davis it will be more time/energy efficient to get on/off the freeway (or Covell) rather than hassle a cross town (or downtown)trip, and once there you will have no parking issues!

  6. Jim Watson

    Formal traffic studies show that the proposed Fifth Street Redesign reduces car travel time and improves pedestrian and bike safety. It is a format that has been used quite successfully in other cities. There is considerable public support. Potential funding comes from a non City source. WIth the future landscaping, it is more attractive.

    Real World: suggest you check the traffic studies. Actual numbers show the redesign does reduce car travel time.

    Greg: we buy the goods and services in downtown Davis. I simply do not understand the DDBA resistance to a project that so many want. WIth declining sales and Target opening, it seems like courting customers is simply good business. When have we last seen 2,300 signatures in support of something in this town?? Petitions were signed by both car drivers and bike riders.

    PS to a local hardware store owner: I ride a bike to shop and have spent hundreds of dollars at your store.

  7. Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald

    Not only would the Fifth Street Redesign make downtown shopping a more pleasant experience for shopping, but also a safer experience for pedestrians and cyclists.

    Months ago David and I had our car hit, along with 3 or 4 others, when a car came speeding in front of the Hattie Weber Museum.

  8. Greg Kuperberg

    [i]Greg: David’s right, downtown works for us, not the other way around.[/i]

    No, downtown businesses don’t “work for us”, we do business with them. Davis doesn’t have Soviet central planning.

    I mean, what do you plan to do, boycott them and shop at Target?

    [i]I simply do not understand the DDBA resistance to a project that so many want.[/i]

    I’m hazy on their position too, but SACOG is not going to wade into a fight between residents and businesses. According to the documents, it’s not even just DDBA, it’s also the Chamber of Commerce. If I were on SACOG, it would seem absurd to spend time on a grant proposal that the Chamber of Commerce doesn’t want.

    By the way, the city staff report is here:


    It might be good to more often give URLs for documents quoted at length.

  9. Downtown Customer

    SACOG is not going to get involved in the fight either way, they will determine if the plan works. Downtown business relies on us to provide their business, they piss us off, it hurts their business.

  10. Greg Kuperberg

    [i]SACOG is not going to get involved in the fight either way, they will determine if the plan works.[/i]

    Yes, but they’ve already said that part of their determination is based on who supports it. That will surely include the Chamber of Commerce.

  11. E Roberts Musser

    “No, downtown businesses don’t “work for us”, we do business with them. Davis doesn’t have Soviet central planning.”

    I have to respectfully disagree with this statement. Downtown businesses must pay attention to their customers, and what customers want, not the other way around. Businesses downtown survive or fall depending on whether they fulfill customer expectations. I, for one, do not shop at certain businesses in Davis, that have been openly hostile of new business coming to town to such an extent they wage unfair competition. As a customer, I have a choice where to spend my dollars, and I can go elsewhere, including out of town if I want to, to purchase goods/services.

    Frankly, I find the position of DDBA and the Chamber of Commerce short-sighted, foolish in the extreme, and short on logic. It honestly doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me and at least 2500 others in Davis. I signed the petition in favor of reconfiguring 5th Street without hesitation. Understand, I used to oppose the road diet concept, until I did some investigation on my own, and was convinced it was an excellent and necessary concept. I am not an easy sell, and am careful which projects I choose to support, but I emphatically support the redesign of 5th Street – and I want it implemented sooner than later.

  12. nancy

    The Chamber of Commerce at state, national and international levels endorses free trade under the WTO, financial deregulation, privatization of public services, corporate personhood and First Amendment rights of free speach, and more. At the local level, business owners may be from the community, but I’d like to know how much latitude they have on policy.

  13. Don Shor

    I’ve read the city report, and am curious how long the construction would be expected to take to implement the full road diet option. Does anyone know if staff has given any kind of estimate?
    Having been through major reconstruction on Fifth Street in past years, I can attest that it is very bad for business. So if this were implemented, the timing would be crucial for minimizing harm to businesses that are directly on Fifth.

  14. Sue Greenwald

    Ryan Kelly: I have always supported the redesign, and have spent umpteem hours patiently explaining to both the DBA and the Chamber of Commerce the reasoning behind the redesign. I always acknowledge that it appears counter intuitive, so I understand their concerns, but that the traffic experts all say that it works. I explain that staff confirms that there are in fact more accidents on this stretch than anywhere else. I point out that the redesign would have about the same design as B Street between 5th and 1st Street, and that B street has about the same amount of traffic. I mention that I live off B street, and prefer driving on B street than on 5th Street.

    SACOG is not interested in the internal debates which lead up to a council decision. Once the council submits an application, SACOG’s own traffic experts will analyze it and compare it with requests from other jurisdictions.

    I suspect the redesign will be safer and help business downtown, but only time will tell.

  15. Sue Greenwald

    Ryan Kelly,

    My concern with the extreme fabrication on the Measure P ballot statement is not an issue of “bolstering a campaign”. It is an issue of the integrity of the electoral process, and nothing is more important. It is a very time-sensitive issue, because the deadline for change is today, and I wish that it had been covered.

  16. Real world

    Reply to Jim Watson –[quote]Real World: suggest you check the traffic studies. Actual numbers show the redesign does reduce car travel time. [/quote]

    I have reviewed the traffic studies . . . but you missed my point. The City has wasted so much time on this issue and should have gotten the work and disruption completed BEFORE the 800 pound gorilla opens its doors in October. Now the Downtown merchants will have to try to recover their customers from a new (and probably more convenient) shopping attraction.

  17. Greg Kuperberg

    [i]SACOG is not interested in the internal debates which lead up to a council decision.[/i]

    In way, that’s correct. But if it gets to the point of the city withdrawing an application to SACOG, then you’re pulling SACOG into something that they don’t want to be interested in. That’s exactly what their letter says.

  18. Rich Rifkin

    [b]Davis doesn’t have Soviet central planning.[/b]

    [i]I have to respectfully disagree with this statement.[/i]

    Uncle Joe Stalin stands up and applauds!!!

  19. Barbara King

    Here are my plans regarding the proposed 5th Street changes. I will go to the city council meeting tonight to support that the council vote to do it and apply for SACOG $. (Yes, I have signed the online petition.)

    In the meantime, I am on my way downtown to do some banking and to pick up some flu season supplies at Davis Hardware, if they have Clorox Wipes and N95 disposable respirators. As much as I disagree with Jennifer’s and the DDBA’s stand on the 5th street changes, I bring as much of my business as I can to downtown, especially ACE, which is a fabulous resource I like to wow my out of town visitors with. Their prices on dry Science Diet food are about the best in town, even compared with Petco’s silly buy-one-get-one-free cards, and I get all my birdseed there, too. So, 5th St changes or no, I will try to bring even more of my business to Ace so that Target is not their undoing.

    One last note: Would Davis have ANY bike lanes if this council were seated in the 1960s?

  20. DonShor

    “…should have gotten the work and disruption completed BEFORE the 800 pound gorilla opens its doors in October.”
    Probably the worst possible thing that could happen to local businesses would be for there to be any construction on Fifth Street within the next 6 – 12 months, particularly for those that face directly onto Fifth.

  21. Business Putting Their Perceived Profits Ahead of Safety

    I personally find it disgusting that DDBA members like ACE are putting their perceived business profits ahead of public safety.

    The stretch of 5th through the downtown is UNSAFE. Plain, simple, verified by DPD data.

    How much more blood does Anderson and her DDBA buddies want on their hands?

  22. Anon

    Business Putting Their Perceived Profits Ahead of Safety: “The stretch of 5th through the downtown is UNSAFE. Plain, simple, verified by DPD data.
    How much more blood does Anderson and her DDBA buddies want on their hands?”

    Don Shor: “”Business Putting Their Perceived Profits Ahead of Safety”
    Why don’t you sign your name?”

    It isn’t necessary – if the shoe fits…and in this case it does.

  23. Pingback: My View: Fifth Street Finally Fixed | .:Davis Vanguard:.

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