New Davis City Council Candidate Seeks to Bring Fresh Ideas To the Council

BrettLeeR

Davis has its first candidate for June of 2012’s City Council Campaign.  Brett Lee announced his candidacy in front of the US Bicycling Hall of Fame National Bike Museum on Third and B in Davis.

“I am running for city council because Davis faces some serious challenges ahead,” Brett Lee told a group of supporters on Saturday morning.  “I believe my work experience and background uniquely puts me in a position to help find solutions to our challenges while maintaining the character and values of our town.”

Mr. Lee is a longtime engineer for FedEx and also worked at their headquarters in Memphis in their Business Planning and Forecasting Department.   As a business planner he evaluated projects to determine feasibility and financial desirability.

He has recently begun a new career as an investment advisor.

Mr. Lee officially becomes the first candidate for the 2012 City Council election, while appointed Councilmember Dan Wolk has scheduled his announcement for October 21.

Incumbent Councilmembers Sue Greenwald and Stephen Souza are also up for reelection and, while neither has officially announced, both are widely expected to seek reelection.

Brett Lee told the Vanguard in a phone interview on Saturday evening he believes that, while he is committed to creating a responsible budget, there is nothing mutually exclusive about reducing costs and maintaining the level of services and amenities we have come to expect.

“I think we can reduce our spending while maintaining city services,” he said.

He related to his experience with Fed Ex and said, “Some people think of it as zero sum, but it’s possible to cut costs and improve our services at that the same time.”

Mr. Lee said that we have a choice in our approach to the budget, “We can either deal with it responsibly and set the city on track to be the sane, nice, normal amenity-rich community that we have come to expect or we cannot deal with it, try to put it under the rug, and then [in the future] it will be such a dramatic problem that we will either have a barebones, austere city budget or start pursuing bankruptcy or something crazy like that.”

“The magnitude of the problem,” he said, “is quite severe.”

Mr. Lee, in his policy statements, is critical of the city manager and prior councils, saying that he believes “Councils have not adequately dealt with the threats to the fiscal health and stability of the city.”

“The City Council must provide strong leadership and hold City management accountable,” Brett Lee said.  “We must adhere to a realistic and affordable city government.  I pledge to be a strong voice to accomplish that.”

On the city’s growth issue, he said in a written policy statement that any growth should be driven by the community’s needs rather than the agenda of a developer.

“The city’s growth should be community-driven, not developer-driven.  Growth should pay for itself, benefit the community and not add to the City’s cost burden,” Mr. Lee’s policy statement read.

In his interview with the Vanguard he expressed concerns about the current ConAgra proposal.  He pointed out that the voters recently rejected a Wildhorse Ranch proposal.

“Wildhorse Ranch has some nice features that I think the ConAgra proposal has,” he said.  “Clearly the Wildhorse Ranch proposal was nowhere to the level that the Davis voter, Davis Community member would accept.”

“The ConAgra as it is, does not look dramatically better if even better than Wildhorse Ranch, yet this thing is moving forward,” he added.

Mr. Lee does believe something should be built at the site, but thinks “We as a community should ask that what’s being proposed be something special and something that benefits the community as a whole.”

In his interview with the Vanguard, he argued in general that he sees a disconnect between the typical resident and city government on a whole range of issues from downtown parking, to ConAgra, and to water.

“That’s really what is driving my interest to be part of the city council,” he said.  “We need to make better decisions.”

Brett Lee also takes a critical but nuanced look at the water issue.

“In the long run, I believe we as a community need access to Sacramento River water.  Fifty to one hundred years from now, we do not want to lament the fact that we gave up on our chance for free access to the River water,” he said in his policy statement.

At the same time, he supports placing the water rate referendum on the ballot.

“I believe a commitment by the City of Davis to a long-term expenditure of this magnitude should be placed before all of the voters,” he said in a policy statement.

While he said that he is comfortable with the need for surface water and believes we will need that water, he was very critical of the city’s current policies.

“I think the rate structure is faulty,” Mr. Lee said.  He thinks it is possible to have a three tier, four tier, or even five tier water rate system.  “This would allow people the possibility of paying the same rates that they do today with the new system.”

That would require active conservation and the use of a very modest quantity.

“For someone on a fixed income who does not want to pay more for their water, it would give them the possibility to do so,” he said.

He argued this is not just a “subjective” “pie-in-the-sky” type proposal, as he has provided city staff with an example from the Monterey Water District.

“They have a five-tier system,” he said.  “In their first tier, it’s a very small tier, their plan did not have a rate increase at that level.”

The rates however went up dramatically for the next four tiers.

“Davis could do that if they wanted to,” he said.  “The requirements are that you don’t discriminate, that you don’t subsidize one group over another.”

He argued that this would be in the allowable criteria, because everyone would be in that first tier for their first x-amount of water usage – it would be a very small band.

“This would allow someone to maintain their freedom and ability to maintain their current costs,” he said.

He believes that such a system would create a real incentive to conserve water.

“The current system, how it’s structured and how it’s been planned out, conservation really isn’t a central point,” he said.

“They say it is because they assume a 20 percent water usage decrease,” he said, but added that in his proposal there would be an active plan to help people reduce their water usage if they choose to.

He made the additional point that there needs to be more thought as to whether the city should be contracting with a private or public entity on the water project.

Brett Lee noted that during the debate over power a few years back, “SMUD was certainly a better provider of electricity for their customers than PG&E was.”

“Do we really want to hand the keys of this essential city service over to a private entity?” he asked.

For Brett Lee, this is all part and parcel to the notion that we must not give up on our high expectations and standards as we address the major challenges we find.

“We must once again take pride in knowing that Davis is a progressive, forward-thinking town where we implement ideas that other communities seek to copy,” Brett Lee said in concluding his speech.  “I hope to be a part of that.”

—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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44 Comments

  1. E Roberts Musser

    I was fortunate enough to meet Brett Lee at a local event, and talk with him at length. I was very impressed with his general demeanor and common sense approach to problems. That said, I will take particular but major issue with one item mentioned in the article, which he needs to think about:

    [quote]“They have a five-tier system,” he said. “In their first tier, it’s a very small tier, their plan did not have a rate increase at that level.”

    The rates however went up dramatically for the next four tiers.

    “Davis could do that if they wanted to,” he said. “The requirements are that you don’t discriminate, that you don’t subsidize one group over another.”[/quote]

    The reason this idea of a first tier being very small may not work is that some entities are more capable of conserving waters than others. Individual residential rate payers are much more able to conserve, by taking shorter showers, changing over to drip irrigation systems and removing water guzzling lawns, doing full loads of laundry, etc. But landlords of apartment complexes, for instance, have no way of controlling the water usage of their individual tenants. Apartments are not individually metered, and to retrofit is prohibitively expensive is my understanding. There are businesses working on a very small profit margin that cannot conserve water. So the costs will have to be passed on to customers. However, customers can choose to go elsewhere or not use those business services, e.g. restaurants, which could cause these businesses to go belly up very quickly. Under the proposed rate structure, already commercial rates are considerably higher than residential rates, because commercial entities use more water. But to take the financial burden substantially off residential rate payers more than is already proposed could literally destroy our business community.

    [quote]At the same time, he supports placing the water rate referendum on the ballot.[/quote]

    And does Mr. Lee have a back-up plan if the referendum resulted in non-approval of the proposed water rate increases? Since he is “supportive” of the surface water project, if it were to be “delayed” for x number of years, for how long (what is the value of “x”?) and at what ultimate cost? Or is it is never approved, what then? I find the “nuanced” approach very suspect. Saying on the one hand one supports the surface water project, but on the other hand saying one does not approve of paying for it (or wanting to pay for it far into the unknown future), is disingenuous at best.

    The surface water project is a very, very complex issue. I can understand anyone’s reluctance to come down on one side or the other on the issue. But some of the vague rationales and language that are being used to appear to straddle the fence, while really being squarely on one side I find troubling. I do think questions about private versus public ownership, trying to develop a low income subsidy program or special tiered structure that would assist the low income, the possibility of cost overruns, are worthy of attention. But much of the debate has centered on unnamed sources of “expert” information, and wishful thinking that water quality standards will be eased, construction/finance costs will go down, and the deep level aquifers will continue to provide a reliable source of uncontaminated water far into the future despite subsidence and contamination issues that have already occurred.

    I encourage Mr. Lee to continue getting himself educated on this issue from various sources, not just one side of the issue. Talk to the business community, the citizen advisory committee that worked to lower the rates from 3.2 times the current rate to only 2 times the current rate for residential, the Dept. of Public Works, the two UCD experts who advocated moving forward with the surface water project first and foremost, among others. All of us are in this together, searching in earnest for the least expensive way to do this project responsibly in the long run. At this point, what other CCs did in the past is irrelevant – what we have is here and now. The new water quality standards will kick in 2017, and the city has to be prepared for ALL the consequences if we fail to start on the surface water project now.

  2. Don Shor

    Brett, do you support going forward with the water rate increases and the surface water project at this time? If not, when do you think the city of Davis should proceed with the water rate increases and the surface water project? What should the the city’s water source in the interim?

  3. Rifkin

    [i]”Brett, do you support going forward with the water rate increases and the surface water project at this time?”[/i]

    In a specific sense, it is irrelevant what a candidate for city council in June of 2012 thinks about the water questions. The current city council has already made its decision on this. If this issue makes it onto our ballot, the general public will override or accept the council’s decision before the next council is seated.

    I concede that in a general sense, you might want to know Brett’s answers to your question as a guide to how he thinks about topics which will come before the council if and when he is elected.

  4. Rifkin

    A brief thought on next year’s city council race … I think our city would benefit by having a longer period between the date we elect the new members of the council — June 4, 2012 — and the date the new members of the council are seated.

    When should they be seated? I would favor seating them on August 1. The council traditionally takes the month of August off, but meets on the 1st for a ceremonial meeting. Seating the new counicl in a ceremony would fit that tradition.

    Why wait almost two months? Three reasons:

    1. It gives those newly elected enough time to get up to speed on all of the topics at hand, especially the technical issues surrounding labor contracts and the budget. They can also use the August recess to get up to speed on other aspects of their new job, meeting with staff, members of the public, university officials, business leaders, etc.;

    2. The fiscal year ends on June 30. The council in place at the end of June will determine the budget for the next fiscal year beginning July 1. It makes a lot more sense to me that we employ the experience of all five incumbents to decide the budget for the next fiscal year. If we have two new members–as we had in June, 2010–we have way too much inexperience making such a crucial decision only a few days after they take their seats; and

    3. Every single labor contract (save the city manager’s) expires June 30. It is even more important that we have an experienced council in place to decide the contracts which will start July 1, 2012. It will be the current members of the council who determine (in closed door sessions) what direction the city is going to take with the next round of contracts. The newly elected member(s) will have no part in that, but will be expected, if they are seated immediately, to be up to speed on what went on in closed session, what all the changes mean, what all the continuances mean and how they should vote on the contracts in public session.

    Two years ago, it was sadly apparent to me that when Joe and Rochelle came into office, neither one was even close to being up to speed on labor issues. They ran saying they were going to be fiscally responsible, then they voted to approve the police contract, which had a lot of problems* that they did not understand. Joe and Rochelle were, of course, not involved in the closed door discussions for that MOU. So they seem to have decided to endorse the deal as if the majority left on the council did the best they possibly could.

    *It had some good reforms, too. It changed the bi-weekly scheduling for sworn officers from 84 to 80 hours, which has saved us overtime costs. And, despite the fact that members of the DPOA and the chief were already paying their full 9% employee pension funding share, it increased that up to 12% by adding 3% more for the employer share. … Where it was badly flawed was that it failed to reform the long-term problems of retiree medical, total employee comp growing faster than long-term revenues, and it did not create a new second-tier pension system (2% at 55) for new hires. Those were major, major flaws.

  5. nprice

    The current discussion of water rates is limited pretty much to the cost to design and build.

    The rates in regard to ongoing operation through the lifetime of the 15-20 year operation part of the contract have not been discussed and this is where the for-profit corporation will make the profits to return to “their” investors. The public relations effort has so far tried to convince us that Design and Build costs will be kept in line, cost over-runs will be monitored, and that the corporations will be held liable. But what about the day to day operational costs and inevitable rate increases over the lifetime of the contract? The City Council has said that they have the power over rates. Will there be the needed transparency from the corporation about operational costs to apply the oversight needed to discuss and approve or not request for rate increases?

    And, what about conservation? Many not-for-profit public water agencies are finding that with conservation and less water use, their incomes is less and have had to raise rates; what about a similar situation for the for-profit private corporation that, unlike the public sector, must return income to investors? And, what about extended family households that won’t fit into the narrow first band of water use? In Monterey County, this was found to disadvantage Hispanic and other household types.

    I hope Mr. Lee will advocate strongly for a Public-Public Partnership for operation, but, of course, this is not what the for-profit corporations, Veolia and United Water, bidding on the project want to agree to. The City Council and the Water Agency have failed to investigate this option and are selling us down the river.

  6. davisite2

    “Will there be the needed transparency from the corporation about operational costs to apply the oversight needed to discuss and approve or not request for rate increases?”

    This relates to my observation that there are real similarities( and potential problems) to the energy deregulation fiasco that “raped” the CA ratepayer not long ago. There is no way that there will be a level playing field between the Davis Council/city staff and the “firepower”, i.e. legal and accounting heavy-hitters with complex negotiating strategies, that multinational corporations will bring to the table.

  7. hpierce

    [quote]Mr. Lee is a longtime engineer[/quote]http://www.ieor.berkeley.edu/ will give you a good idea of what “industrial engineer” candidates are trained to do @ UCB… he may very well be a good choice. There are, I believe, no CA requirements for professional registration to call yourself an ‘industrial engineer’. He is not licensed as an “engineer” in the state of CA, based on a search of the state database.

  8. Don Shor

    Supporters (from Davis Wiki):
    Former Davis Mayors Ann Evans, Bill Kopper, Maynard Skinner, Tom Tomasi and Ken Wagstaff;
    former Davis Councilmembers Stan Forbes, Lamar Heystek, Mike Harrington and Dick Holdstock;
    community members Holly Bishop, Elisabeth Bogren, Robb Davis, Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald, Erin Gardner, Carolyn Hinshaw, Julia Hunter Blair, Brian Johnson, Carolyn Kopper, Dick & Rachel Livingston, Pam Nieberg, Bill Ritter, Rob Roy, Mark Spencer, Tansey Thomas, Diane Wagstaff and Lorraine Young.

  9. Rifkin

    [i]”But what about the day to day operational costs and inevitable rate increases over the lifetime of the contract?”[/i]

    I believe any rate increases have to be approved by the Davis City Council and the Woodland City Council, respectively.

    That said, I expect the councils to bend over if and when the operator asks for a rate increase. This ogus pitch of late, where rates double rather than triple, seems suspicious to me. The cost of the project has not been cut by 1/3rd. So after 5 years, I expect the council will again raise rates, perhaps to triple what they are now, or more, in order to finance the bonds.

  10. Brett

    Hi,
    Thanks for the questions Elaine and Don. I am not sure I will always be able to respond promptly to questions posted here, but if I can I am happy to.

    I think I need to more clearly spell out my position. It is not a nuanced position designed to please all. I am not an “all things to all voters” type of guy. I hope it will be ok that we can agree to disagree on some subjects.

    First I believe that we should acquire our surface water rights as soon as possible.

    This is based on my own investigations, my own environmental views, and discussions with the city engineers.

    However, I do believe that the rate structure as proposed should be changed.

    As has been pointed out, the city originally proposed (for the sake of argument here, I am going to approximate) a tripling of the rates. The City sent out the Prop 218 notices and then in the meantime, through the input of the community, they managed to bring those rates down to now a “doubling”. This is of course a welcome development, however does it not lead one to wonder about this? Why was there such a difference in rates in just a few short months?

    I mentioned the Monterey Water District example. There are 5 rate tiers for residential, and those tiers are based on a per person basis. So if two people live in a household, their usage qualifying for a tier 1 rate would be double that of a single person household. In addition there are corrections for lot size.

    Davis basically has proposed a two tier rate structure for residential. Use zero to X gallons and you are in tier one with a rate1, go above that usage and for each gallon above tier1 you are now paying rate2 which is a higher per gallon charge than rate1.

    I bring up the Monterey example because it serves as a counterpoint to Davis.

    Elaine, as you directly know the residential rates are different from the commercial rates. If an additional tier is added to the residential rates and the overall contribution to the overall cost from the residential side of the rates is the same – the proposed rates for the commercial side can remain as is.

    Within the residential rates side of things, I am not saying that everyone’s bill stays the same. I am saying that a narrow tier 1 be set that is perhaps for the first 50 gallons of usage. Perhaps 5% of the households would be willing to conserve water to fully remain in this tier. The point is that people will have the power to control this mandatory utility cost. If 5% choose to maintain their current level of expenditure, rates for tiers 2 and 3 would only need to change slightly from the current proposed the level.

    I would actually support having at least 4 tiers on the residential side (some single family residential users use over 1,000 gallons a day, I feel quite comfortable charging them even more per unit of water than the household using 750 gallons a day).

    ==

    And the question about wanting to place this issue before the voters?

    Yes, I support being able to vote on something like this. This is a mandatory fee increase; it is not like cable tv where we can opt out.

    Likewise, I will support the school tax renewal because I think it is good for our community, the schools, the kids, teachers, our property values, etc. However, I also support the fact that we the voters get to decide whether it passes or not. I am not sure I would feel comfortable letting the school board decide when my taxes go up.

    ==

    I believe that by placing the water rate issue on the ballot, two things will occur – the city will have the opportunity (will feel the pressure) to better match their proposal to the needs and wants of the community, and the city will be able to conduct more educational outreach to the community.

    I do think that the water project as proposed can be greatly improved; it is my hope that the water rate referendum allows us as a community greater voice in shaping and changing not only the water rate proposal but also the water project as a whole.

    I think the people of Davis are a fairly informed and thoughtful group. Past history has shown that we are quite capable of taxing ourselves more if we believe in what it is we are being asked to support.

  11. Don Shor

    Thanks very much for your detailed answer, Brett.
    Do you support going forward with the surface water project at this time, or do you believe it should be delayed?

    Personally, I think a tiered structure has much to recommend it, although it does amount to a cost shift to other users. The renters are a problem; there is simply no way to avoid the cost increase they are going to experience because it is indirect. I would support a tiered structure for business users as well, even though I realize that would very likely increase my own costs.

  12. Sue Greenwald

    Now, Brett, I am going to have to be as frank with your approach about the water project as I was with my friend Dan Wolk. There is no tweaking with the rate structure or timing of the increases that will make much difference when it comes to this project.

    You say:[quote]First I believe that we should acquire our surface water rights as soon as possible. This is based on my own investigations, my own environmental views, and discussions with the city engineers.—[b]Brett Lee[/b][/quote]Brett, we already have our surface water rights, and we will not lose them we work with the SWRCB.[quote]In the long run, I believe we as a community need access to Sacramento River water. Fifty to one hundred years from now, we do not want to lament the fact that we gave up on our chance for free access to the River water,” he said in his policy statement—[b]Brett Lee[/b][/quote]Everyone agrees with this, Brett, but it sidesteps the issue of whether we can pay for both the wastewater treatment plant and the entire surface water plant at once. If we postpone the project for 20 or 25 years, we will not have to lament anything in fifty to one hundred years, and we can obtain our infrastructure while keeping ratepayer costs more reasonable.

    The proposal I have put forward for postponing the project until we pay off our debt from the wastewater plant and early phases of the surface water project includes provisions that would ensure that the project gets completed, such as purchasing easements for the pipeline and building a fund to pay for the project completion during the 20 years or so in which we postpone it.[quote]However, I do believe that the rate structure as proposed should be changed. –[b]Brett Lee[/b]
    [/quote]Brett, as I have explained to Stephen, Dan, Joe and Rochelle, any “tiered rate” structure will just squeeze the banana.

    If we pay for the roughly $300 million in water-related capital improvements and permanent summer water rights simultaneously, there is no tinkering with the rates that will help. The fixed costs have to be covered. Neither will conservation help, again because the fixed rates will have to be covered, and because with rates at these high levels, everyone will be conserving. Low income people are conserving today, so their rates will increase by an even higher percentage as more affluent residents also start to conserve under the pressure from the high rates.

    Everyone will be conserving once the rates get this high, so it will just come down to whom we want to punish the most. If we base tiers on people per house, as you suggest, then costs will shift down even more to seniors on fixed income who are already conserving, and they will be terribly hurt.

    As Don Shor said, you either have to be in favor of going forth with both our wastewater treatment plant and surface water projects at the same time, or in phasing in most of the surface water project after we pay for all or most of the wastewater treatment plant and initial stages of the surface water project. There is no easy way out of this. Not to take a position is to accept that water/sewer/garbage bills will be extraordinarily high, regardless of rate structure, regardless of conservation, regardless of tweaking. Again, there is no middle ground on this one.

    Our average household water/sewer/garbage bills are currently estimated to be over $2,000 per year for an average single family house within six years even after the touted rate reductions, and engineers in the water field that I have talked with think they will end up much higher (you are free to disregard estimates of the engineers I have talked with if you wish).

    If we proceed as planned, we will have to accept ratepayer bills at these levels and higher for the next forty years or so, until the capital costs are paid off. The only alternative that will significantly change this outlook is to phase in the projects.

  13. Sue Greenwald

    [quote]The City sent out the Prop 218 notices and then in the meantime, through the input of the community, they managed to bring those rates down to now a “doubling”. This is of course a welcome development, however does it not lead one to wonder about this? Why was there such a difference in rates in just a few short months?–[b]Brett Lee[/b][/quote]I will tell you exactly how these “rates” were “changed”. First, these are just rates that were authorized, they have not yet been approved. If the projects cost more than anticipated or the interests rates are higher, council will just have to come back with another prop 218 hearing to increase rates futher.

    What staff did was to assume that we will get lower interest rates than they had previously assumed. They postponed the increases which will stay in place for the next 40 years or so by one year, and they postponed some of the surface water project components within the city of Davis to just beyond the six year schedule, so we will have to make up for that in years seven, eight or whatever.

  14. Bill Ritter

    [quote][b]Brett Lee for Davis City Council – New Energy, Solid ideas.[/b]

    Brett Lee is an industrial engineer and business planner with over 15 years of experience in the private sector helping major companies improve their efficiency, operations, productivity and service.

    [b]Brett’s statement:[/b]

    [i]My name is Brett Lee and I am running for Davis City Council. I am running because Davis faces some very serious challenges. To deal with these challenges, the City needs an independent, analytical problem solver with a good understanding of the Davis Community who is willing to tackle these issues head on.

    If elected I will work with my fellow council members to accomplish the following:

    [b]Protect the amenities of our community.[/b] I believe we can maintain and improve city services without increasing taxes. Davis is a great place to live due in part to the parks, greenbelts, and variety of recreational and senior services to which we all have access. We must maintain these amenities to keep Davis a desirable, attractive community.

    [b]Provide affordable and wisely managed water for Davis.[/b] In the long run, I believe we as a community need access to Sacramento River water. Fifty to one hundred years from now, we do not want to lament the fact that we gave up on our chance for free access to the River water.

    However, I support placing the water rate referendum on the ballot. I believe a commitment by the City of Davis to a long-term expenditure of this magnitude should be placed before all of the voters.

    I personally believe the proposed rate structure can be further improved to more strongly reward conservation. I believe the rate structure can be changed to assure that those who actively conserve water do not see double-digit rate increases.

    [b]Require that any growth be community driven, not developer driven.[/b] The city’s growth should be community driven, not developer driven. Growth should pay for itself, benefit the community and not add to the City’s cost burden.

    [b]Provide economic growth opportunities.[/b] We need a vibrant local economy. We must promote business friendly approaches that are in character with our values and benefit our community by providing jobs and local revenue.

    [b]Provide critical oversight to our City administration.[/b]. In recent years our City Management and prior Councils have not adequately dealt with the threats to the fiscal health and stability of the city. The City Council must provide strong leadership and hold City management accountable. We must adhere to a realistic and affordable city government. I pledge to be a strong voice to accomplish that.

    [b]Protect the character and viability of the downtown.[/b] The Davis Downtown is a treasure that should be protected and promoted. Our pedestrian, bicycle and auto-friendly downtown must be preserved. Any large scale parking garages should be kept on the periphery of the downtown. The City should not build ugly and inappropriate parking structures in the center of our downtown.

    [b]Promote improved pedestrian and neighborhood safety.[/b] Our quality of life is directly related to having safe, walkable neighborhoods and streets. All of us (kids, seniors, etc.) benefit when we make proactive efforts to improve safety. I am a supporter of the 5th Street Redesign efforts.

    [b]Promote landlord and tenant responsibility.[/b] Landlords should be held responsible if their rental properties are used as ongoing “party houses”. Too often, neighbors have the unenviable task of repeatedly asking tenants to behave in a considerate manner. At the same time, tenants are often unfairly denied their cleaning deposits, or do not receive prompt repairs on their units from unresponsive absentee landlords. While the best solution is for all of our community to observe the golden rule, I will work to create better City enforcement policies to protect the rights of tenants and neighbors.

    I have enjoyed the beauty, innovation and safety of growing up in Davis. Today the city faces enormous challenges. I believe I can offer independent solutions to solve those challenges. I want Davis to be more effective in its use of natural resources and make Davis once again a model for innovative community planning.

    As I campaign throughout Davis I shall look forward to speaking with all our citizens to listen and learn and share my ideas about how to preserve and improve our wonderful community. I ask for your vote. Please join me as I work to preserve and protect Davis.[/i][/quote]

  15. Bill Ritter

    [b]More about Brett Lee:[/b]

    Brett’s grandparents Mas and Ida Yamaguchi moved to Davis in 1948 where his grandfather worked at UC Davis as a professor in the Vegetable Crops Department. Brett’s mother Jane attended Davis High and graduated from UC Davis. Brett was born in San Francisco and later moved at age two to Davis. He attended Valley Oak Elementary School for kindergarten and part of first grade. At age five, he and his mother moved to San Francisco. For the next ten years, Brett spent his summers living with his grandparents in Davis.

    Brett attended the UC Berkeley School of Engineering, graduating in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research.

    The following year Brett enrolled at the London School of Economics studying Industrial Relations, graduating with a master’s degree in 1989.

    Brett has worked for The Flying Tigers Air Cargo Company as an industrial engineer where he performed staffing and performance improvement projects in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Japan and Taipei.

    He worked as an engineer for FedEx at their West Coast Hub in Oakland for ten years, responsible for productivity and service improvements, development of yearly operating budgets and cost justifications for new projects.

    Brett worked at FedEx World Headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee for four years in the Business Planning and Forecasting Department. As a business planner he evaluated projects to determine feasibility and financial desirability. He was actively involved in using Six Sigma and Lean Sigma approaches to service improvement and cost reduction.

    Brett has recently started a new career as an investment advisor.
    Brett is an avid weekend athlete and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS).

    Brett Lee is married to Marike Zwienenberg-Lee, a native of The Netherlands. She is a pediatric neurosurgeon at the UC Davis Medical Center. They have one two year old son, nine bicycles, and live in central Davis.

    [b]Supporters of Brett Lee for Davis City Council include:[/b]

    former Davis Mayors Ann Evans, Bill Kopper, Maynard Skinner, Tom Tomasi and Ken Wagstaff; former Davis Councilmembers Stan Forbes, Lamar Heystek, Mike Harrington and Dick Holdstock; community members Jos & Dekristie Adams, Holly Bishop, Elisabeth Bogren, Lee Bixon, Ron Clement, Vashek Cervinka, Robb Davis, Joel Friedman, Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald, Erin Gardner, Phil Gross, Carolyn Hinshaw, Julia Hunter Blair, Brian Johnson, Carolyn Kopper, Don & Yoshie Kyhos, Dick & Rachel Livingston, Polly & John Marion, Nora Oldwin, Pam Nieberg, Gay Powers, Don & Nancy Price, Bill Ritter, Rob Roy, Elizabeth Saft, Mark Spencer & Lorraine Young, Tim Starbuck, Tansey Thomas, Tim Townsend, Diane Wagstaff and Mas & Ida Yamaguchi.

    [b]To help with the campaign please contact:[/b]

    Dick Livingston, Campaign Manager: rpianoman@gmail.com
    Ken Wagstaff, Co-Chair: kjwag@dcn.davis.ca.us
    Lamar Heystek, Campaign Treasurer: friendsoflamar@yahoo.com
    Bill Ritter, Campaign Advisor: wwr3@sbcglobal.net
    Pam Nieberg, Campaign Advisor: pnieberg@dcn.org
    Julia Hunter Blair, Campaign Advisor: juliahb@dcn.org
    Carolyn Hinshaw, Campaign Advisor: aaagh@comcast.net

  16. davisite2

    “…..building a fund to pay for the project completion during the 20 years or so in which we postpone it.”

    Councilperson Greenwald’s plan would create a way for developers to make a MAJOR contribution to pay for the project’s infrastructure during this 20 year period. As it stands now, future developers will pay for the hookup connection, leaving current Davis residents to foot the bill for the bonds necessary to build the project. No one really believes that once this water pipe is in place, it will be not be used to deliver more water than estimated to be Davis’ current needs plus future slow growth.

  17. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Brett, we already have our surface water rights, and we will not lose them we work with the SWRCB.[/quote]

    You don’t KNOW that we will not lose them if we don’t exercise these rights.

    [quote]If we postpone the project for 20 or 25 years, we will not have to lament anything in fifty to one hundred years, and we can obtain our infrastructure while keeping ratepayer costs more reasonable. [/quote]

    Which is it, postpone 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30 years, all figures that you have suggested. Yet variances can be obtained for at most 10 years, even assuming you can obtain a variance, which is also questionable.

    [quote]The proposal I have put forward for postponing the project until we pay off our debt from the wastewater plant and early phases of the surface water project includes provisions that would ensure that the project gets completed, such as purchasing easements for the pipeline and building a fund to pay for the project completion during the 20 years or so in which we postpone it.[/quote]

    Which is at odds w the two UCD experts who insisted the best approach is to do the surface water project first and foremost…

  18. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Neither will conservation help, again because the fixed rates will have to be covered, [/quote]

    My understanding is that water conservation will indeed save costs on the wastewater treatment side… what I cannot remember off hand is if there were some savings on the surface water side as well. Also, some rate payers cannot conserve water, which is to the advantage of those that can. So that puts the residential rate payers at an advantage over the commercial rate payers.

    [quote]and engineers in the water field that I have talked with think they will end up much higher (you are free to disregard estimates of the engineers I have talked with if you wish). [/quote]

    Unnamed sources again?

    [quote]If the projects cost more than anticipated or the interests rates are higher, council will just have to come back with another prop 218 hearing to increase rates futher.[/quote]

    And voters can decide yet again by a Prop 218 process or referendum whether they are willing to pay any more rate increases. Meanwhile the Dept of Public Works in both cities and the Davis/Woodland JPA will be working very hard to keep the costs down knowing full well there is a danger any new rate increases will not be approved.

    [quote]What staff did was to assume that we will get lower interest rates than they had previously assumed. They postponed the increases which will stay in place for the next 40 years or so by one year, and they postponed some of the surface water project components within the city of Davis to just beyond the six year schedule, so we will have to make up for that in years seven, eight or whatever.[/quote]

    Isn’t postponement what you have been advocating for? Yet you decry it when a citizen advisory committee was responsible for achieving something you yourself have been advocating for…

  19. E Roberts Musser

    I very much echo Don Shor’s sentiments:

    [quote]Thanks very much for your detailed answer, Brett.
    Do you support going forward with the surface water project at this time, or do you believe it should be delayed?

    Personally, I think a tiered structure has much to recommend it, although it does amount to a cost shift to other users. The renters are a problem; there is simply no way to avoid the cost increase they are going to experience because it is indirect. I would support a tiered structure for business users as well, even though I realize that would very likely increase my own costs.[/quote]

    Also –
    [quote]The City sent out the Prop 218 notices and then in the meantime, through the input of the community, they managed to bring those rates down to now a “doubling”. This is of course a welcome development, however does it not lead one to wonder about this? Why was there such a difference in rates in just a few short months? [/quote]

    I was on the citizen advisory committee that worked to get the water rates down. Some of the surface water project will be delayed; some funding already collected from the wastewater side will be used to fund the surface water project; the assumption of the interest rates, as Sue has pointed out correctly, went from 6.5% to 5.5%. But if we delay the project too long, we won’t be able to take advantage of current market conditions to get more favorable rates on the cost of construction/financing…

    [quote]I mentioned the Monterey Water District example. There are 5 rate tiers for residential, and those tiers are based on a per person basis. So if two people live in a household, their usage qualifying for a tier 1 rate would be double that of a single person household. In addition there are corrections for lot size.

    Davis basically has proposed a two tier rate structure for residential. Use zero to X gallons and you are in tier one with a rate1, go above that usage and for each gallon above tier1 you are now paying rate2 which is a higher per gallon charge than rate1. [/quote]

    I don’t have any particular problem with fine tuning the tiered system, but tiers do not determine the timing of this project, a question that is crucial and needs to be answered.

    [quote]the city will be able to conduct more educational outreach to the community. [/quote]

    There has been educational outreach on this project for almost as long as I have been on the Davis Senior Citizens Commission, so we are talking a good four or five years. There is tons of information on the city’s website, at least five community forums over the last several months, articles in the media. The Dept. of Public Works has done just about everything it can think of to make rate payers aware of the issue. The problem has not been one of a lack in conducting more educational outreach. The problem is the rate payers don’t become engaged in the subject until it looks like it is going to hit their pocketbooks in the immediate future.

  20. Michael Harrington

    I am far from convinced that Davis needs surface water at any time in the future. The City has never done a full study of using the ground water supply system for indefinite use; the studies have been along the lines of “what do we need to do with the ground water wells in order to get us to surface water.”

    All of you are aware by now, right, that the rate hike ordinance passed by the CC on September 6 has rate increases that are far, far higher than the 14% that the CC thought they were voting on?

    Get out your calculator, do the delta from year one to year two, and you will see it is 20%, not 14. Also, remember that the rate hike dropped the floor of Tier Two well down into the old Tier One range, so your usage is far more likely to climb into the more expensive per cublic water of Tier Two.

    Also, remember that the percentage increases in the ordinance are compound, not simple. The second year’s % increase is based on the higher rate of year one, and so on.

    Sue and Brett: i am surprised that the two of you are so accepting of the staff’s position that the surface water plant is needed at all. I think both of you should wait to take that position until after the referendum repeals the rate hikes; the city will then have to property study the ground well system, and I have a feeling we are going to be pleasantly surprised that the facts are not what we have been told, or assumed.

    (I mean, seriously, look at the false statement that the rate hikes are only 14%, when the ordinance itself proves otherwise??)

  21. Don Shor

    [i]I am far from convinced that Davis needs surface water at any time in the future.[/i]
    How do you propose that Davis meet effluent standards using the current water supply?

  22. Sue Greenwald

    Don,
    Effluent standards will probably be attainable if the salinity levels are relaxed, which is possible. The problem is more one of long term supply.

  23. Brett

    Hi Elaine and Don,
    Sorry, I thought I had answered your question when I wrote that I thought we should acquire our surface water rights as soon as possible.

    I believe we should begin moving forward with a surface water project in the next several years.

    I do believe we need to “re-think” what we are doing here though. Are we simply replacing one source of water for another? Or are we presented with a golden opportunity to change the way we view and use water?

    Is it really reasonable that we use around 150 gallons of pure drinking water per person per day?

    I believe that we need a comprehensive water plan for our town that has specific and concrete water efficiency/conservation plans. I think we need a modern approach to using water, not an old fashioned approach. Once we have that, I believe it would be appropriate to move forward with a project.

  24. Don Shor

    [i] that has specific and concrete water efficiency/conservation plans.[/i]

    Since that would almost certainly affect my livelihood, I would need to know a great more detail about what you mean by that. Conservation is not an end in itself, it is a means to an end. What is your goal?

  25. Don Shor

    By the way, if that number is accurate it is quite good for the region. But it sounds low to me. Water use strongly correlates with ET rates, and I suspect Davis is closer to Woodland’s use than 150 gallons per day.

    “Statewide average urban water use is 192 gpcd (gallons per capita day). The
    average water use for the Sacramento Hydrologic Region is 253 gpcd. The
    average water use in Woodland (based on 2008 numbers) is 265 gpcd.”
    http://cityofwoodland.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=7902

    “Utilities Department employees said Tuesday that Sacramento’s per-capita consumption is now 280 gallons per day – well above California’s average of 192 gallons.”
    (March 5, 2009, The Sacramento Bee)

  26. Sue Greenwald

    [quote] believe that we need a comprehensive water plan for our town that has specific and concrete water efficiency/conservation plans. I think we need a modern approach to using water, not an old fashioned approach. Once we have that, I believe it would be appropriate to move forward with a project.–[b]Brett Lee[/b][/quote]Brett, you are completely sidestepping the issue of cost. While I am sure that you and your wife can easily afford the rates that will pay for the $300 million worth of infrastucture water rifhts that are planned, half of all Davis households get by on less than $60,000 a year.

    Water conservation will do VIRTUALLY NOTHING to help the problem of extraordinarily high water/sewer rates once we have to pay for $300 million worth of infrastructure and prepaid water. In fact, water conservation is not that important at all once we pay for the surface water infrastructure.

    We are already fairly frugal with water, and we will become even more frugal once the somewhat higher rates that we will need even the the absence of the huge project kick in.

    By what logic do you say that once we have water conservation plans in place, we should proceed with the surface water project? I just don’t get it.

  27. Sue Greenwald

    [quote]But if we delay the project too long, we won’t be able to take advantage of current market conditions to get more favorable rates on the cost of construction/financing…[b]E. Roberts Musser[/b][/quote]If you can do what no one else on the planet can do which is to predict interest rates in the future, then why aren’t you the wealthiest woman on earth?

  28. Adam Smith

    [i]If you can do what no one else on the planet can do which is to predict interest rates in the future, then why aren’t you the wealthiest woman on earth? [/i]

    Here is what we know about interest rates – at most maturities, they are at historic lows – this morning the 10 year treasury is at 1.88%. Since we know they can’t go below zero, then we know there is limited upside for Davis in waiting. It is a fairly easy call to say that the risk analysis for treasury rates suggests that there is more to lose than gain by waiting.

  29. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Effluent standards will probably be attainable if the salinity levels are relaxed, which is possible. The problem is more one of long term supply.[/quote]

    Anything is “possible”. The question is whether it is “probable” – more likely than not. Yes, the problem is also one of long term supply/reliability…

  30. E Roberts Musser

    Brett, thanks for responding so promptly and staying engaged on this critical issue.

    [quote]I believe we should begin moving forward with a surface water project in the next several years. I do believe we need to “re-think” what we are doing here though. [/quote]

    “In the next several years”? Does that mean now, 5 years from now, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30? And what would you suggest we do in the meantime if we are slapped with huge fines for not being in compliance/cannot obtain variances/water quality standards are not relaxed/subsidence occurs/construction and finance costs increase/costs of the surface water project increase the longer we delay – all problems the surface water project is designed to address. Two UCD experts brought in by Council member Greenwald herself advocated the surface water project be done first and foremost.

    Rethink what precisely? The tiered structure? Right now what we have to determine is if the project will move forward at all, and what are the fall back plans if it doesn’t…

  31. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Water conservation will do VIRTUALLY NOTHING to help the problem[/quote]

    The two UCD experts stated that the surface water project should be done first and foremost, and water conservation efforts instituted, to save costs on the wastewater treatment side… Water conservation is very much a part of the plan to save some costs…

  32. Sue Greenwald

    [quote] Two UCD experts brought in by Council member Greenwald herself advocated the surface water project be done first and foremost.– [b]E. Roberts Musser[/b][/quote]Elaine, as I have explained over and over, the report you are referring to was written before the salinity variance policy began and before the state announced it was reviewing salinity limits, thereby increasing the city’s options.

  33. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]If you can do what no one else on the planet can do which is to predict interest rates in the future, then why aren’t you the wealthiest woman on earth?[/quote]

    You have predicted construction costs/interest rates will improve over the next 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30 years, depending on which number you choose for a particular post.
    You have predicted a 30 year variance can be obtained, even tho the maximum is 10 right now.
    You have predicted salinity requirements will be relaxed.
    You have predicted our deep level wells will last for the next 40 to 60 years.
    You are predicting we won’t be steeply fined.

    If you can do what no one else on the planet can do which is to predict the future interest rates, construction costs, water quality standards, likelihood of increasing variance times, how long our deep level wells will last, how much the state will fine a city not in compliance, then why aren’t you the wealthiest woman on earth?

  34. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Here is what we know about interest rates – at most maturities, they are at historic lows – this morning the 10 year treasury is at 1.88%. Since we know they can’t go below zero, then we know there is limited upside for Davis in waiting. It is a fairly easy call to say that the risk analysis for treasury rates suggests that there is more to lose than gain by waiting.[/quote]

    And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out – just common sense!

  35. davisite2

    “….until after the referendum repeals the rate hikes; the city will then have to property study the ground well system..”

    This is reason enough to sign the referendum petition and repeal the rate hike in June. It must be evident to everyone that from the time that Saylor’s Council majority, in collusion with Weir, former head of the Davis Public Works Dept, drove this this project forward, in piece-meal fashion while trying to keep it under the political “radar”,for the past decade, there was only one narrative that was acceptable that held that the need for the surface water project was immediate and unchallengeable. Investigations that could have challenged this narrative were purposefully not pursued. A citizen referendum victory is the only way to move the Council Majority and city staff to SERIOUSLY study other alternatives and SERIOUSLY consider seeking a variance.

  36. Rifkin

    ADAM: [i]”Here is what we know about interest rates – at most maturities, they are at historic lows – this morning the 10 year treasury is at 1.88%.”[/i]

    Given your knowledge of the municipal bond market, what rate of interest would you expect the market will charge the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency to borrow roughly $170 million (for the water works) and for the market to charge the City of Davis to borrow $100 million for the sewage treatment plant?

    Keep in mind that special agencies (like the WDCWA) tend to have to pay high premiums over regular agencies (like the City of Davis). For example, the Davis Redevelopment Agency had to pay 8.625% interest on the taxable bonds it issued earlier this year.

    My guess the reason why the DRDA had to pay so much is because if it ever disbanded, it would be very hard for the bondholders to collect their money. That same sort of logic will hold true with regard to the brand new WDCWA. So you should not be too surprised if the bonds for the water works cost north of 8% per annum, despite our currently low interest rates.

    Also, this is a historically bad time to hire labor in California ([url]http://thetruthaboutplas.com/2011/10/03/california-governor-signs-union-backed-senate-bill-922-intended-to-end-local-project-labor-agreement-bans/[/url]), and labor will be a substantial part of the cost of the water works. Not only do we have prevaling wage laws which double the cost of salaries and add on other benefits set by the union workers, but we now are suffering from PLAs, which add even more expense to every project and slow down projects such that they will take years longer to finish.

  37. DT Businessman

    “Provide economic growth opportunities. We need a vibrant local economy. We must promote business friendly approaches that are in character with our values and benefit our community by providing jobs and local revenue.”

    Sounds good, Brett. Please list 3 specific policies and/or projects that you would pursue immediately to foster a vibrant local economy. Feel free to list more than 3 if you have more readily to hand.

    DT Businessman (aka Michael Bisch, Davis Commercial Properties, DDBA Co-Prez)

  38. Adam Smith

    [i]Given your knowledge of the municipal bond market, what rate of interest would you expect the market will charge the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency to borrow roughly $170 million (for the water works) and for the market to charge the City of Davis to borrow $100 million for the sewage treatment plant? [/i]

    Rich – as you know, municipal bond rates differ dramatically depending on whether the debts are general obligations of the city, or if the debt repayment is specifically related to income generated by the project in question. In addition, if the city is obligated to increase user rates to pay for the project (as many sewer/water projects are set up), then rates will be lower than if the revenue stream is generated otherwise. The redevelopment projects that you used as an example (let say a parking garage) are usually project related, meaning that debt repayment is not an obligation of Davis, but rather the project, which must generate parking fees to pay its debt service. Rightfully,these projects should carry relatively high interest rates.

    A project such as our new water system would likely carry much lower rates than the redevelopment, because of how the fees to repay its rates would be generated. According to Bloomberg, 10 year municipal bond rates are 2.14% today and 20 year munis are trading at 3.22. These are at or near historic lows.

    Sue’s argument re: interest rates is implausible. If you need to borrow money to complete a project, it would be extremely difficult to imagine a better rate environment in which to do it.

    I can’t really comment on the labor rate argument. In the non-union world, it is a fantastic time to negotiate labor rates for a project, but the prevailing wages issues may negate that….I just don’t know.

  39. Brett

    HI Elaine,
    I think of “several” as something like 2,3, or 4 years. Not sure why “next several years” would ever be construed as 15 or 20 years, but I suppose I should be more precise in my wording.

    Hi DT Businessman aka Michael Bisch,
    I would like to meet with the members of the DDBA and the Chamber very soon to listen to what they view as their priorities. I know enough to know that it is important to learn, rather than assume. I will be the first to admit I am not a business owner downtown and therefore my knowledge will be increased by talking to those who are.

    Having said that, I do believe that parking is an issue. I believe we should move promptly in establishing a comprehensive parking plan which is driven by present facts and future wishes. I think it is important that we have easy and convenient parking for those who wish to frequent our shops and businesses.

    I think it is important to continue and strengthen our efforts with the visitors’ bureau in promoting Davis as a great visitor destination. I would like to see us continue to increase the number of visitors to our town.

    I think it is important to make the value of “shop local/buy local” understood by all of our community.

    The above are not new ideas, many have worked hard on them already but I feel there is great value in continuing and strengthening our efforts on them. And as I said, as I continue my education process, I am sure I will learn about other worthy ideas worth pursuing that fit our community.

  40. Don Shor

    Just to clarify:
    you favor the referendum, meaning you favor the repeal of the water rates.
    You propose a tiered rate structure with a lower bottom rate.
    You favor going forward with the surface water project within 2 to 4 years.
    Is that correct?

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