2010 Chamber of Commerce City Council Forum


The 2010 candidates for Davis City Council met on Tuesday for the first time in a debate as the Davis Chamber of Commerce hosted them for a luncheon.  Not surprisingly the questions focused on the economic and fiscal environment for Davis.

Debbie Davis, editor of the Davis Enterprise was the moderator for this event that was well attended by members of the Davis business community.  All five candidates, Joe Krovoza, Jon Li, Rochelle Swanson, Sydney Vergis, and Daniel Watts participated.

The first and last questions were answered by all five candidates.  The rest were answered by two candidates.

First question was “why should we as Chamber members vote for you.”

Joe Krovoza: Mentioned his commitment to public service and his 18 years in the Davis community.  He mentioned some of the community activities that he has participated in and the fact that his children have attended the local schools.  He also mentioned the interconnection of the various governments agencies.  “I have chosen partnerships as one of my key themes, I think what I’ve learned working at the university and what I’ve learned knowing people at the county and the school district, and working at our many wonderful non-profit organizations have put me in a wonderful position to connect the fabric of this community still more than it already is.”  Then cites Thoreau, “When I wake up in the morning I’m torn whether to enjoy the environment or work to preserve it.”  Thinks of that in the context of city service. 

Jon Li: Talked about the health of the Davis Economy and the health of the Davis City Council.  “The city and the city budget and the city economy are dependent on the state of California budget and the UC Davis budget and we all know that.”  He continued by mentioning the problems that are faced by the state of California and UC Davis.  “I think this is a time when we need to do a serious re-evaluation.”  He referenced his viable systems model.  “It explains a way that you can look at your organization and see what communication problems you have, see to maximize your resources, see how to minimize your waste, and how to adapt to a changing environment.  The reality is that the city of Davis is not prepared to do that.  The city of Davis General Plan will not help you in the next five years.  If you think the General Plan is going to help you, I recommend you read it, and I bet you haven’t.”  He went on to call the General Plan, “a waste of time.”  He wants to do an economic analysis for the city of Davis and look how to make it more viable, wants to talk about creating jobs.

Rochelle Swanson:  Mentioned that she offers a very unique perspective to the city council.  “It’s based on my leadership, my experience, and my philosophy on local government and the role of a council member.”  Mentions her experience as a private sector consultant and her experience in the public sector through non-profits and service groups.  “What those have brought me being in Davis is the opportunity to see exactly what can happen when the community comes together and moves forward and has a common goal.”  Cites the Stadium and the Davis Schools Foundation.  Mediation is a huge part of her consultant business, bringing public entities with a private climate to figure out how best to meet their goals.  Also mentions her experience with the larger business, the Davis Graduate and having almost 50 employees.  “With that perspective I am able to see all the different facets and how they come together and how important it is to have a council that is open.”  Mentions that “that is my philosophy for local government.  We’re public servants as councilmembers and we need to be open and we need to be approachable.  We need to not only work together as a council, but we need to work together as a community.”  Mentioned that we are at a turning point in our economy, and the assumptions that we’ve been basing our budget on need to change.

Sydney Vergis:  Mentioned her degrees and background, her professional experience in land use and working for a county planning agency.  Mentioned her participation on city commissions.  She worked for Sutter County as a land use planner and now as a researcher (graduate student getting a masters degree) in transportation studies.  “I’m running for city council because I believe that this election must be about the long term planning for our future as a community.  We need a cohesive vision that combines economic vitality, sustainability, and that really emphasizes working together to nurture our quality of life.”    She said that in a few months the new city council will need to tackle community challenges.  “To that end, what I’d like to offer is a professional background in municipal financing, agency management, land use planning, policy – in other words the professional experience and enthusiasm to work hard for you.”  She continued, “I believe working for you we can create thoughtful policies that enhance our community that really bolster and support the kind of entrepreneurial spirit we see in this room and that really emphasize saving taxpayer dollars and really working to make sure that city operations are working as efficiently as possible.”

Daniel Watts: Said he’s running for city council because back in November his constitutional law professor brought to our attention two municipal ordinances that are unconstitutional.  “It astounded me that in a city as smart and intelligent and as progressive as ours that we actually have a municipal code that violates the US Constitution.”  The Davis City Attorney, he said, has admitted to this and it is fairly common knowledge in the legal community.  Mentioned that the police department does not have the best relationship with students especially after the recent protests, the use of the taser and the lying about the use of the taser at the recent protests.  “I think it’s important that because students are such a large part of this community, that they have a vocal advocate for their rights on the city council.”  He also mentioned the rights of others who are not being heard like the homeless and the issue involving the interfaith rotating church.  “We don’t have an advocate for the voiceless on the city council.  I intend to be that advocate.”

Question: Aside from the required planning commission, the City of Davis currently staffs 15 optional commissions…  if you were to retain only five, which ones would they be and why?

Vergis: (Visibly not happy with the question said, “Thank you so much for the question” to great laughs).  Cited her experience on two commissions and said, “I will not answer the question as I’m sure you would expect because I don’t agree with the underlying thought that goes along with that question that being that these commissions are simply a waste of time.”  Then talked about the need for the commissions to provide the council an advisory role but did agree that there were opportunities moving forward to look at the role and functions of some of the commissions.  Look at the commissions to set goals and objectives on an annual basis.

Swanson: “Even though the commissions are based as a volunteer group and it’s advise and consent, there is a cost that goes along with these commissions.  There’s staff time, there’s paper, there’s copying.  I think it’s important in these times that as we look at budget restructuring, that we re-examine our commissions and see what the cost is and what benefits the does the city derive.”  Mentions the roles of government to make policy, to levy taxes, and make policies and decisions that affect the city of Davis.  “We do have a lot of commissions and it’s wonderful.  The amount of participation that we have in our community goes to the strength and the vitality of the whole reason that all of us love Davis and why we’re here.  But when we’re asking people within our government to make tough tough choices, we have to leave no stone unturned.”  We talked about basic services–public safety, infrastructure, she did not want to pick off five commissions without a thorough examination, she did think it was important to consider making changes to some commissions.

Question: Which locations in the city are prime infill sites for residential development?

Krovoza: Plead ignorance.  “One thing that it is important to know as a city council candidate is what I don’t know.  I don’t know the ins and outs of the types of constraints on different properties around town.”  What he did say was that he is interested in looking at ways to densify our downtown and put people living closer to businesses in our downtown.  Cited innovations in downtown Palo Alto and San Luis Obispo and wants to think about putting some of those things into the Davis context.  “There are sites close to downtown, but I don’t know if they are feasible or not and it would be irresponsible for me to say more.”  Also cited Senior Housing a pressing need.  “The closer we can put seniors to services the better and the more that we can provide housing to seniors that frees up some of the more traditional housing closer to the schools, that’s going to be an efficient use of our properties.”

Li: “I want to talk about density.  When London was our size they had 850,000 people, now they didn’t have automobiles, they had carriages.  That was about a 150 years ago.”  He used this as a backdrop to argue that “we have really beautiful places, but we have really low density.”  We have a huge amount of residential development that is low density housing.  “We would be much better off if we would encourage people to densify.  Granny flats.  Actually going to two or three stories.  The worst mistake that the no-growthers made in ’72 was they should have bought a hook and ladder fire truck and then we wouldn’t have a three story building height limit.”  We can grow higher than three stories and have high density housing in Davis.


Question: In recent years our schools have faced declining enrollment, how would you work more closely with the school board to assure sustainable school enrollment growth?

Watts: He said it was important to make sure that Davis was a livable place and a place that was welcoming to young families.  Wants to make sure that the housing in Davis is affordable and the people that come here feel comfortable.  “A lot of students that are at UC Davis, they like the city generally, they like the downtown area, they would like to come back here and live here.  But if they can’t afford housing, if they have problems with their landlords while they are in their houses or apartments, if they have problems with the police while they live here, if they have problems with other areas and aspects of city government, they’re not going to feel comfortable coming back.  And if you want sustainable enrollment in the schools, you’re going to want people that are young and having young families to come back to Davis.”  The way to do that he said is make Davis in general, a more welcoming place.  Cited the lack of landlords obeying tenant law with regards to rights and security deposits.

Swanson: “Part of our strength is going to be working with our partners.”   Cited the school board, the county and the university.  She cited her work with the school board over the last couple of years, and said they were a model for how to deal with a fiscal crisis.  While we are already partners in some ways, she believes we can do more.  “I would like to see quarterly workshop meetings, not just a two-by-two but really going through and seeing how do we support one another.”  She continued, “While they are two different entities, they do have a supportive role.  Enrollment is directly tied to the climate of a community.  One way I think we can address this is by making sure that our business climate is friendly and open–we want people to live here, we want people to work here, we want their kids to go to schools here.” 

Question: Do you believe that Davis’ housing needs during the next four years can be met entirely with infill development?

Li: He cited the fact that the city has let out less than ten building permits the last few years.  The supplyside pressure is currently neutral he said because there is no current demand.  “I think we’re going to meet whatever housing demand we have.  But I don’t think there’s going to be pressure for another big development in the next five years.”

Vergis: She first mentioned the RHNA requirements from SACOG.  “From the years 2006 to 2013, we’re required to provide certain land dedicated to particular housing units set at the state level.”  By 2007, we had already met that requirement, she said.  The other aspect of the question she said, is what do we want to look like as a city.  “Are we providing an adequate range of housing to meet the internally generate needs of folks who live here in Davis.  Certainly if you look at a 2009 report put out by the city, over the next twenty years, we’re going to see folks in the 55 and over age range increase by 4000 people and that’s if you assume no growth in the city.  So my question is, are we providing senior housing allocations?  Are we providing enough policy incentives through city government to allow aging in place?”


Question: What do you intend to do about the city’s $43 million unfunded liability?

Krovoza: “We really don’t know quite yet where the market is going to settle.  We don’t know whether we are dealing with a $20 million liability or a $43 million liability or potentially something greater than that.”  He continued, “As we look at our labor negotiations, we should be looking as long term as we can, and trying to make the most conservative projections about the health of the city.”  For the workers we hire today, we need to provide a stable system for them that it’s going to do well.  “We’re really talking at this point in time when we hire a new employee for the city, about potentially a sixty year decision for the city of Davis.  We hire someone at 25 that might be with us for a long period of time, until they leave Davis finally and the planet, we’ve got to take that very seriously.”    Said with regards to contracts, he will put Davis first and he is very comfortable making tough decisions.

Watts: “Part of the reason why we have gigantic unfunded liabilities is because half of the city council is bought by the firefighters union.”  He said he is not taking any money so he will not be bought by anyone.  He cited the Vanguard, that the firefighters donate an enormous amount of money to city council campaigns.  That’s why they get twice the salary increase each year as compared to other employees.  “It boggles my mind that people don’t see this, there’s a 3-2 vote on these kinds of issue with Lamar Heystek and Sue Greenwald in the minority.”  He continued, “We need to renegotiate these contracts.  The next time these come up, you need to negotiate hard with the public employee unions and explain to them that we’re not going to take this anymore.  We’re not going to be bought by you anymore.”  He argued that many city employees get paid a lot more than they need to.  We live in a great community and that can be an enticement for people to come work here.  “They shouldn’t be here for the money and we shouldn’t pay them that money.”

Question: What plans do you have to provide fiscal stability to our city?

Watts: “The main problem with the city is the salaries.  Salaries account for I think over 70 percent of the city budget.  So any cuts that are made to the city budget need to come primarily from the salaries of the city employees.”  He argued that there are a number of superfluous or redundant city jobs that could be outsourced.  He further argued that “the city attorney shouldn’t sit through city council meetings for six hours and get paid an attorney’s hourly salary to sit there and watch Sue and Ruth have heart attacks.  It’s a complete waste of money but the city is still spending money on things like this.”  Bill (Emlen) should not get paid over $160,000 each year even though it is less than what other city managers make.  “When 70% of your budget goes to salaries, the cuts primarily have to be to salaries.”

Krovoza: Commended the current city council for setting aside and protecting 15% in reserves.  “That provides a nice cushion for us during these tough times, especially given what’s happening at the state level.”  Second, he said we need to pass Measure Q (sales tax renewal), sees bringing Target and Trader Joe’s to town as a source of revenue.  “We need to preserve that [sales tax renewal] that’s $3 million that comes into the city budget.”  Finally, he has honed in on the idea of partnerships and we have the potential for gains to be made to reduce redundancies in the school district.  “I like the idea of looking at our fire department and the universities fire department and bringing those two together.”

Question: How can Davis be successful attracting major technology employers?

Sydney: Said this is something that the Business and Economic Development Commission is looking seriously at.  Suggested that this is something that we have struggled with regionally not just the city limits.  “We have seen a mass exodus of green incubators and university startups going to areas outside of this region.  That’s a real problem.  Certainly there’s great opportunities and other jurisdictions have been able to employ green zoning districts throughout their cities.  What this does is provide land use and policy incentives for green companies to locate specific areas of the city that you have identified.”  She suggested the downtown or the neighborhood shopping centers are possible locations.  “In this way you can facilitate folks who are creating local jobs to locate within your city.”  She also suggested that this would attract green businesses that are sustainable.

Rochelle: “We have to look at streamlining our processes within the city to locate businesses here.”  She cited her personal experiences of working with multiple cities and counties in California and Nevada.  “I know we can do better.  It’s often remarked about how tough it is to do business in Davis.  It’s tough to work through and try to build out a business.  It’s tough to try to get through the CEQA process.  These are things that keep businesses from our town.”  We have retail and wonderful restaurants.  However, “they don’t pay those wages that make the house payments that we need to make.  They don’t sustain lifestyles where people can put their kids through multiple activities and really enjoy the vibrant community that we have.”  We need to streamline the process but also work with UC Davis for shared resources.

Question: How should we make room and provide opportunity for new graduates who may be interested in living and working Davis?

Li: “My first answer is still the viable systems model.  I think we need to look for more ways to do business in Davis than what we’re doing now.  Some of things we’re doing are not going to be around much longer.”  Argues that some of the technology won’t be around too much longer.  Argues that while businesses don’t start overnight, they do start in a little room sometimes.  “We need more of those little startup places.  We need places under a thousand square feet that are labs for the biotechnology stuff, the other stuff can start up in a room.”

Watts:  He said he mentioned before that if students feel comfortable while they are here, they will feel comfortable coming back here.  “The Davis Model lease has clauses in it that are in violation of state law.”  A commission is looking into that and looking at revising it.  He called that a step in the right direction.  He suggested that they should encourage apartment complexes not to always start their leases on September 1.  “It makes it very difficult to move in at other times of the year, say after they graduate.”  As for jobs, a lot of that happens through the university and the career services center.  “We can’t just create jobs, we can’t just invent biotech companies and say they’re going to come here because we stop charging them development fees.  A lot of the finding of jobs happens through the university itself.”

Question: Under what circumstances do you favor privatizing existing government services?

Krovoza: Said he had not really thought of that recently.  “I think we should consider privatizing government services when we can make sure that the quality of service that we’re going to be providing is going to be what we would expect in Davis and is going to contribute to the community.  Certain jobs work well for that.”  But he added, “the long term institutional memory in a small town like this does favor having parks employees that last for a long time and know the community and where the sprinklers are buried and how to fix things.”  He cited examples of park work changes when contractors were brought in to look at the park.  “We have to be sure that we’re really savings something in the long term by privatizing.”

Vergis: Suggested a couple of areas that we should look at seriously before making a huge push for privatization.  “One being what kind of quality of work we would be getting in return for what we’re paying.  What’s your bang for your buck?  The other is what kind of health benefits would be provided to these privatized employees.”  She suggested the current budget spends about $4.5 million a year on professional contract service, “which is quite a bit.”  Said we have to look at what we’re getting right now before figuring out a long term budget strategy.  “Certainly part of a long term budgeting strategy will also have a large educational component as well.  With the council being almost brand new in a couple of months, I think adopting more of a countywide multi-day intensive budget hearings where we can fully understand how each department operates, where there are opportunities for streamlining operations, and where there are opportunities to establish council-driven funding priorities, I think is a much bigger question that we need to be asking.”

Question: How would you ensure that labor-management issues relating to the performance of employees is resolved?

Swanson: “It depends on what labor-management issue we’re working on, what the department is, and what the function is.”  Wants to consider the possibility of “bringing in some outside help for this.”  Consultants are used frequently for a myriad of reasons.  “I don’t say this lightly considering the budget constraints and the way in which we need to use our funds.  But these are really complex issues and I think that as council members we should have the opportunity to be given the device from experts.”  She continued, “it really makes me uncomfortable when I look at some of the budget layouts that we’re looking at.  We’ll have small increments for one or two years and all of a sudden you’ll see giant spikes, jump up in year three, four, and five.  I think we need to consider not just multi-year contracts but multi-year budgets where we look at the long term based on our current assumptions of what’s going on.  Not old models back when we had a different economic reality.”

Li: “We’re not living within our budget now, I don’t care about the 15 percent.  We’re so overcommitted in terms of our longterm obligations to our employees that we’re going to have to cutback.  Part of that is going to face the lawsuits that have to do with cutting things that we won’t be able to pay for anymore.  The revenue is not going to increase as Rochelle just laid out for you.”   He continued, “We do not have the money to afford what we’re doing now.  We need to find ways to do a better job of what we’re doing and lowering our expectations and dealing with the reality of new problems that we haven’t anticipated yet.  Labor is going to have to face some cuts.  That’s a fact.”

Question: If elected how will you develop a working relationship with the university to support locating start ups from the campus?

Krovoza: Said his job during the day is to be the director of external relations for the university’s institute for transportation studies.  Worked about three years ago to found the energy efficiency center.  He’s work regionally to develop commuter programs as well.  He argued that this is very specific to things such as company relations with faculty and the availability of land.  He promised that “Given my relations already with people at the university, and given my knowledge of this city, that I would be very interested in playing a leadership role in helping to broker businesses settling here.”  He argued it would be very case-specific and not based on any great plan that we have which would require a huge subsidy that he doesn’t see as appropriate given the Davis context.

Li: Listed a couple of existing programs to bring in these kinds of start ups in this community.  Suggested that there was existing interest but there have been some roadblocks.  “Partnerships are not difficult.  The city council is.”

Question: Everyone talks about economic development, how would you define economic development for a city that is not growing?

Swanson: “Economic development I think from the context of a city like Davis is looking at what our existing resources are, we are lucky to have a university here, and because of that and because of our world class university, there is turnover here, there’s turnover in technology, there’s turnover in focus, and that’s a way I think for us to generate within our city a different economic development pattern.”  We need to look at what we have now and what we need.  She said, economic vitality does not need to go hand in hand with growth.  “We have a lot of opportunities here both because of our regional location but also because of the proximity we have to Sacramento and our university.”  We looking at ways to improve our diversity in economics so we’re not as susceptible to the ebb and flow of the economic in Sacramento.

Watts: “A lot of this is not really related to the city council itself.  None of this not my job, all of this is your job as the leaders of the Davis economic community.”  Wants to attract more people from out of town to come.  Cited the Musical Theater as an example.  Suggested bringing in more programs to get people from out of town to come in.  That would promote economic development.  Suggested that there are entities that could come in that the Davis City Council does not have a great relationship with and hopes to improve upon that.  “I intend to listen to all points of view from all people, and not dismiss anyone’s point of view out of hand.  This is your job, so mingle.”

The next question was only given to Sydney Vergis.

Question: What innovations would you make to our city’s economic development efforts?

Vergis: She talked again about establishing these free zoning districts.  “Certainly this is a nice opportunity for the city to promote sustainability and also promote economic development.”  She also talked about, “how to make our economic development department more responsive to meet your needs.  We would enthusiastically recommend that the city council develop a look-down management tool that’s been developed by the Sacramento Metro Chamber.  The concept behind this is that it tracks information requests and service requests from you, the business community, and it’s especially important when looking at requests that involve multiple agencies.”  This will make the city more responsive to the business community’s needs.

Final portion gave each candidate a minute to respond to a question.

Question: Our budget has grown faster than our population in the last ten years, how would you address this?

Krovoza:  He argued we need to be sure we are projecting things out as far as possible.  “We need to make conservative estimates about what’s going to happen in the economy.”  Made a pledge to take a tough and hard look at the budget free of “politics or alliances as can be made on the tough issues of making sure the city finances are set straight.”  He said, “with regards to finance, it’s going to be Davis-first, there are going to be tough decisions to be made.  I look forward to making them to betterment of the city.”

Question: If elected, how would you use technology to increase productivity for a smaller more efficient government?

Li: Said in 1993 he invented the Davis Community Network and others took it over.  He said we need to get connected as first step.  “What we can do now is create more of a sense of how the economy is working in the city of Davis.”  He again pointed that the viable system model will perform that function.  “We don’t know what the economy of the city of Davis will look like, and the government doesn’t either.”  He continued, “As much as I like Ken Hiatt, they don’t know much about the economy in Davis.  We need to know what we’re doing, I think we can use technical information to do that.”

Question: Our population is aging, how do we best accommodate those needs?

Swanson: We need to look at our needs now, “we often use aging as this giant umbrella term that is far too generic for what is happening.  Some people age and they age well and they’re healthy.  Some don’t.  Some start the process of aging where they are dealing with health issues” early and some late.  Given that, we need to assess what our needs are and what we can do.  She said it’s not a sixty second answer on such a complex issue.

Question: As a councilmember, how do you see yourself interacting with the Davis Chamber of Commerce?

Vergis: Cited her past experiences.  “I have been honored to work with the Downtown Business Association and BEDC for a number of years through my work on the BEDC certainly running a county planning agency, I was also involved with conducting public outreach meetings and conducting interested agency hearings that included many business interests that combined in this really positive effort to work towards planning for that community in a positive direction that accommodated both economic growth and good planning.  So hopefully that’s something that I can bring to Davis.”

Question: What do you think are the three greatest challenges facing the city today?

Watts: First, he cited the budget.  “The city has a gigantic budget problem that needs to be fixed.”  Second, “the inattentiveness of the city council to the needs of those who are not demographically represented on the city council.  That’s students, that’s young people, that’s the homeless, that’s all sorts of people that are without a voice on the city council.”  He continued, that there is an entire population of the city, half the city, “there are students and they are part of this community and they’re not represented on the city council.  They don’t feel like the people [in the city, in the downtown, in the business]… like they’re respected and it is important that they have a voice on the city council.”  He said that right now Lamar Heystek is that voice, but he’s leaving the city council.  “Many of you were students once, imagine what you would feel like if you lost your one voice on the city council.”

—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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  1. E Roberts Musser

    Is it just me, or are a lot of these questions poorly drafted, loaded questions, use terms that are confusing?

    “Aside from the required planning commission, the City of Davis currently staffs 15 optional commissions… if you were to retain only five, which ones would they be and why?”

    Loaded question… no matter how you answer you will get into trouble unless you just don’t answer the question.

    “Which locations in the city are prime infill sites for residential development?”

    Is this a memorization contest to see who can recite all the infill sites?

    “In recent years our schools have faced higher enrollment, how would you work more closely with the school board to assure sustainable school enrollment growth?”

    The phrase “in recent years” is over how long a period of time? The last time I heard we were facing declining enrollment!

    “How would you ensure that labor-management issues relating to the performance of employees is resolved?”

    This question is so vague/confusing in its terms, I don’t understand what it is asking…

    “Everyone talks about economic development, how would you define economic development for a city that is not growing?”

    Not growing in what?

    “If elected, how would you use technology to increase productivity for a smaller more efficient government?”

    What do you mean by the word “technology”?

  2. David M. Greenwald

    [quote]“In recent years our schools have faced higher enrollment, how would you work more closely with the school board to assure sustainable school enrollment growth?”

    The phrase “in recent years” is over how long a period of time? The last time I heard we were facing declining enrollment! [/quote]

    I take responsibility for that, that was my typing error. We’re not really facing declining enrollment either, but that was the question.

  3. Don Shor

    “In recent years our schools have faced higher enrollment, how would you work more closely with the school board to assure sustainable school enrollment growth?”
    It’s been well over a decade since the Davis schools had enrollment increases, but the enrollment hasn’t been declining much either. More to the point, I just don’t understand the question.
    I found these questions and answers pretty unsatisfactory.

  4. Greg Kuperberg

    Elementary school enrollment has in fact declined in DJUSD. It isn’t falling further at the moment, but the declines in early grades are still working their way through the system. A relatively large class is graduating this year, and there are also relatively many students in junior high school compared to first grade.

  5. David M. Greenwald

    This is from last week’s Enterprise:

    [quote]The projections don’t predict a whole lot of change: Under one set of assumptions (“Projection A”), the district’s enrollment will drift downward gradually from 8,526 students now to 8,238 students in 2020. Under a slightly different set of assumptions (“Projection B”), enrollment will remain stable, going from 8,526 students now to 8,507 in 2020. [/quote]

  6. Don Shor

    Here are the enrollment figures I compiled around the time the district was debating closure of Valley Oak:

    2007-8 8484
    2006-7 8647
    2005-6 8537
    2004-5 8642
    2003-4 8705
    2002-3 8827
    2001-2 8760
    2000-1 8642
    1999-2000 8336
    1998-99 7943

  7. Greg Kuperberg

    Well yes, Don, those are the numbers. On average, enrollment has fallen by 1/2 of a percent per year from its high in 2002, which is when city expansion ended. This is on the same scale as growth decisions in Davis in general, except with the opposite sign.

    In 2008-09, which is the last year of published data, DJUSD had the second-largest enrollment in 11th grade in its history. Meanwhile early grades are well off their highs. I don’t know how things will look in 2020, but I think that the gradual decline will continue four years out. It is true that eventually it would reach a steady state — but it will be a while before it returns to where it was in 2002-3.

    It’s an interesting development, to have a school district that shrinks slightly while state education continues to expand.

  8. Don Shor

    It doesn’t appear to be all that unusual. Here are the statewide figures (pdf):

  9. Greg Kuperberg

    Okay, on that point I stand corrected. I didn’t think it was so, but state school enrollment is indeed going down. I don’t know whether the explanation is a lower birth rate or something else. A lower birth rate is not unlikely given that the birth rate in Mexico has dropped dramatically in the past several decades.

    Even so, DJUSD is one of the best school districts in the country. For those who value education, it’s sad to see a success story shrink. Even if it’s only shrinking slowly.

  10. Rich Rifkin

    [i]”A lower birth rate is not unlikely given that the birth rate in Mexico has dropped dramatically in the past several decades.”[/i]

    It’s much more strongly correlated with the U.S. birth cycle, which has (since the end of WW2) risen up to a peak and then fallen back and the risen again to a peak. The smaller class sizes in the state are mostly a byproduct of a birth trough a few years back.

  11. Rich Rifkin

    There is more to the story that I did not know when I posted the above (5:23). It is also the case that since 1990, the pregnancy rate in the United States has been falling quite a bit ([url]http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr58/nvsr58_04.pdf[/url]). [quote] The 2005 pregnancy rate of 103.2 pregnancies per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years is 11 percent below the 1990 peak of 115.8. The teenage pregnancy rate dropped 40 percent from 1990 to 2005, reaching an historic low of 70.6 per 1,000 women aged 15–19 years. Rates fell much more for younger than for older teenagers. [/quote] A declining pregnancy rate is different from a birth trough, which I wrote about above. A birth trough is the result not of lower rates of pregnancy but lower rates of women in their childbearing years as a percentage of the total population. The two are not mutually exclusive and when they happen together they increase the rate of decline in school aged children.

    It is also worth noting that the abortion rate has also declined.

  12. Greg Kuperberg

    [i]It’s much more strongly correlated with the U.S. birth cycle[/i]

    That may be, but the birth rate in the United States has only changed slowly, while the birth rate in Mexico has fallen fast. As recently as the mid 1980s, the total fertility rate in Mexico was twice as high as in the United States, while now they are about equal. (This is according to the Google public data explorer.)

    The ripple effect in California of that colossal social change in Mexico may well be greater than the much smaller shift in the United States, even though the connection to the latter is stronger.

  13. Rich Rifkin

    [i]”As recently as the mid 1980s, the total fertility rate in Mexico was twice as high as in the United States, while now they are about equal.”[/i]

    NAFTA accelerated that trend in Mexico, as more women were moved off of the family-farm economy and moved into the industrial or modern economy.

    It is pretty much true all over the world, when countries modernize their labor practices and industrialize, women have fewer children. Islamic countries, though, have bucked this trend somewhat. And even in non-Muslim countries, Muslim minorities tend to have much higher birth rates ([url]http://www.brookings.edu/opinions/2003/03middleeast_taspinar.aspx[/url]).

  14. Don Shor

    I wonder if Jon Li would like to expand more on this comment: “He went on to call the General Plan, “a waste of time.” Perhaps there is context that is missing here.

  15. David M. Greenwald

    I don’t think he personally did, it sounded like one of his lawschool friends did, I didn’t quote that statement, but it was something like the guy was hassled and they pulled his ID, found out he was a law student, and let him go.

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