Sunday Commentary (on a Monday): An Old Fashioned Pitch-Battle Over Growth and Land Use

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woodland-dcc-3Forget the Davis City Council, the most compelling electoral battle this year will be for the 5th Supervisorial District, where two heavyweights will slug it out over the most contentious of all local issues – land use.
While Measure J has muted the issue of growth in Davis – and that issue has even been supplanted, at least temporarily, by the budget and now water – there is no such limitation on the Board of Supervisors.
Last week, Woodland Mayor Artemio Pimentel entered the race and came out firing with both guns blazing at two-term incumbent Duane Chamberlain.  Dispensing with any sense of subtlety or niceties, Mr. Pimentel went right to the point.

“I can do a better job with regard to being a supervisor that represents the 5th District,” Mayor Pimentel told the Vanguard.  “The issue for me comes down to being able to be a collaborator and an effective communicator between the city of Woodland, the rural communities and the County of Yolo.”

There has been no stronger advocate of the preservation of farmland than by Duane Chamberlain, himself a longtime farmer.  He has been an absolute stalwart against new projects that would encroach on current farm land.

However, his style has attracted criticism from some of his colleagues.  They argue that he is unwilling to compromise and they find him difficult to deal with.

Artemio Pimentel argued that he and Duane Chamberlain “would be on the same page on that particular issue,” the protection of farmland.  Mr. Pimentel told the Vanguard that he has advocated for “the protection of prime ag-land within the city of Woodland.  I will continue to push for that and that will be one of my main goals as a county supervisor.”

But it is clear that Mr. Pimentel would be less like Duane Chamberlain and Jim Provenza and more like Matt Rexroad and Mike McGowan when it comes to issues of growth and development.

This battle was set up by another battle over redistricting back in September.  At that time, a 3-2 Board Majority of Don Saylor, Matt Rexroad, and Mike McGowan approved a plan that would break up the 5th District’s as the county’s only rural-majority district.

Some at that time expressed concern that redistricting would result in the loss of commitment for Ag Preservation, as the Board shifted the traditionally rural district represented by Duane Chamberlain to a Woodland-based district.

Supervisor Provenza at the time expressed concerns that redistricting would turn the 5th District into a second Woodland District, as it now is 70% comprised of Woodland residents and 30% rural, while previously it was 40% Woodland, thus “basically turning it into an urban district.”

There’s an opportunity for a farmer or a person with a rural background to get elected,” he said. “In the new district it’s going to be extremely unlikely.”

The Vanguard asked whether this was political or just the way it happened to work.  At the time Mr. Provenza was not sure, though he noted that Woodland had wanted two supervisors, and under this configuration they should be able to get that.

“Don [Saylor] had said that you couldn’t do a rural district, because the math didn’t work for one person, one vote,” Mr. Provenza said.  “That’s not true at all because the map that I drew was the same in terms that each district had about the same number of people.  The deviation in each district from the perfect number was less than two percent on all of the proposed maps.”

Now Supervisor Chamberlain’s vote to keep the 5th District rural is being turned against him.

“He fought for Woodland to basically be broken up into three supervisorial districts when the Woodland City Council unanimously voted against it.  We wanted to have two strong members of the Board of Supervisors – he disregarded our request,” Mr. Pimentel told the Vanguard.

He also charged that Duane Chamberlain fought for basically the preservation of the current district, which he considered a move for self-preservation over democracy.  “I just don’t understand why some of the positions that he has taken have not been in the best interest of the city of Woodland,” the Mayor said.

Critics such as Dino Gay of the Woodland Record have noted Art Pimentel’s close ties to developer Paul Petrovich, who helped to develop the Gateway Projects.

He wrote, “Pimentel has consistently shown that he favors Petrovich and his development projects, both in the heart of the historic downtown and in the massive and unnecessary Gateway annexations.”

Mr. Pimentel noted that it was Mr. Chamberlain’s opposition to the Gateway projects that is one of the reasons for his candidacy against him.

“Both of those he’s opposed continuously,” Artemio Pimentel said, “I feel that that is the wrong approach especially when he’s representing such a large portion of the city of Woodland.”

He also cited Clark Pacific, which he believes has the ability to create 250-300 jobs in the City of Woodland.  According to Mr. Pimentel, Duane Chamberlain has repeatedly opposed the project.

The project, he said, has wide support, and Mr. Pimentel said further, “That’s something that I just don’t understand, where his position is coming from and why he’s taken the position of opposing job development and job opportunities for the residents of Woodland.”

One thing that should be clear right now is that the issue of growth crosses political lines.  Mr. Chamberlain, a Republican, has often been closely aligned on issues of growth with Jim Provenza, a Democrat.

Progressives who support protecting the environment and limiting growth have often joined with conservatives concerned with the impact of urban sprawl and growth, to oppose new development.

Some have already injected race and partisanship into this race.  That would be an unfortunate misread.  Mr. Pimentel came out swinging on the issue of development and Mr. Chamberlain’s alleged unwillingness to work with and compromise.

“The issue for me is effectiveness,” he said.  “Yes, you can have a county supervisor who votes against every single development and gets absolutely nothing for the rural communities and the locations where some of these projects could potentially be developed.  That is easy to do.”

“What should be done and what Mr. Chamberlain and any supervisor should be doing is looking at ways of where we can compromise to make sure that we provide the most effective plan to actually preserve agricultural land while balancing some of the needs of the cities and some of the needs of the communities within the rural area,” he responded.

“It doesn’t do anyone any good for a county supervisor to just oppose a project and not be able to work with the rest of his colleagues,” Mr. Pimentel added.  “That is going to be a big difference between Supervisor Chamberlain and myself.”

While Mr. Pimentel talked about his rural roots and the fact that his parents were farmworkers, he also angered many in the Latino Community by not coming out stronger against the shooting of farmworker Luis Gutierrez (read his May 2009 Vanguard Interview).

Mr. Pimentel did not take strong positions, either, on social services, which have been slashed badly in recent budget cuts, or on AB 109, which is the prison realignment law that the county is currently grappling with on prison expansion.

While those figure to be important issues, the line of demarcation will be on growth and development, and here we see two strong candidates who will go to war on this issue.  If nothing else, it should be fun to watch.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

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

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22 thoughts on “Sunday Commentary (on a Monday): An Old Fashioned Pitch-Battle Over Growth and Land Use”

  1. Mr.Toad

    “There has been no stronger advocate of the preservation of farmland than by Duane Chamberlain himself a longtime farmer.”

    “While Mr. Pimentel talked about his rural roots and the fact that his parents were farmworkers,…”

    There it is.

  2. medwoman

    Mr. Toad

    There what is ?
    Being a farmer does not make you either rich, uncaring, or racist. My grand parents were subsistence farmers. So basically the same as farmer workers with major debt.
    Having had poor parents does not provide any guarantee about one’s present or future priorities. My ex husband and I came from economically poor backgrounds. He is extremely conservative and I am probably about as liberal as can be found. This race should be focused on the values and priorities of the two candidates, not their ethnic or social backgrounds.

  3. Mr.Toad

    “This race should be focused on the values and priorities of the two candidates, not their ethnic or social backgrounds.”

    This election, like all elections, will be decided by whatever the voters decide is important. Funny that you use the metaphor of race for the election while denying the importance of the word in its other context. Perhaps a freudian slip? Of course to a bunch of white middle class liberal Davisites issues other than the backgrounds that helped develop the world views of the candidates may be most important but for the first and second generation of poor mexican immigrants still trying to move into the middle class having someone who represents their dreams and desires may be paramount.

  4. Dino

    Mr. Toad,

    Your comments are very similar to those of a Woodland Journal blogger who went by the handle of “ricardo flores magon.” By chance, did you apply to fill the Woodland City Council vacancy left by Jeff Monroe?

    Yes… I posted that under a previous story. I also posted the following that relates to Pimentel’s position on growth:

    Woodland Record, Dec. 19, 2009

    Downtown multiplex process scrutinized: Ties to Pimentel campaign

    http://woodlandrecord.com/down…1076-1.htm

    Since November 30, 2007, the Woodland Journal/Woodland Record has produced are over 350 articles that connect the dots to questionable city planning that revolves around the Pimentel/Petrovich partnership. Of course, it’s not all Pimentel… you can trace favoritism back to city manager Richard Kirkwood and council members David Flory and Matt Rexroad (Pimentel’s mentor and author of the Urban Limit Line).

    If you want to dig deeper, opponents of the Urban Limit Line clearly saw into the crystal ball as the ULL became the Grow-To Line. Petrovich’s Gateway I and Gateway II are the results of that manifest destiny. Pimentel made sure of that.

  5. Don Shor

    Here is Dino’s link: [url]http://woodlandrecord.com/downtown-multiplex-process-scrutinized-ties-to-pimentel-campaign-p1076-1.htm[/url]

    Dino, we don’t try to ‘out’ anonymous or pseudonymous blog participants here.

  6. rusty49

    “This race should be focused on the values and priorities of the two candidates, not their ethnic or social backgrounds.”

    Thanks, Medwoman. We finally agree on something. 🙂

    This whole electing someone based on him being latino, black, white or whatever is totally racist. I’ll never forget after I voted in the 2008 election at the Wildhorse clubhouse I was getting in my car when I overheard a white lady saying “I voted for Obama because he was black but also liked Alan Keyes”. Obviously only about race and nothing to do with politics because one is very liberal while the other is conservative.

  7. Mr.Toad

    Never posted there Dino but great minds think alike.

    Following up on my above point you are right about Matt Rexroad also being in favor of bringing in Clark Pacific and their jobs so its not just a liberal/conservative dichotomy. It might be better defined as conservation of the current paradigm at all costs against a vision of economic development and jobs in a more balanced approach.

    When I go to Target in Woodland or any of the stores on that side of town I often see ex-students working. While these service sector jobs may seem unimportant to a Davis professional they sure beat what Chamberlain’s vision offers, more work on a tomato harvester.

    One other point about preservation, its not like we are talking about Yosemite. This area has little of the pre-spanish ecosystems left. So what we are talking about is preseving an economic order, that while it has its merits, should not be the sole focus of local government

  8. Dino

    Don,

    The connection to the handle “ricardo flores magon” has more to do with the perspective of the blogger. Just as readers can see a trend in your comments, readers should know the trend of “Mr. Toad.”

    Ricardo Flores Magon was a Mexican anarchist who lived from 1874 to 1922. The issue of race in this election was brought up by Mr. Toad, so the possible connection is relevant.

  9. Dino

    Mr. Toad,

    If you read the comments from the blogger whose pseudonym is “Ricardo Flores Magon,” you might reconsider your conclusion of a great mind. Considering you claim to never have posted there, I’m curious about your deduction that his comments were the product of such a mind.

    Regardless, Chamberlain accurately represented his constituents who live in the rural area surrounding Clark Pacific (a concrete company, not an agricultural-based company like the former Spreckel’s Sugar factory). And to down-play Pimentel’s connection with Rexroad to a simple backing of Clark Pacific is misleading. Woodland’s unnecessary growth due mostly to Petrovich projects does not reflect good planning over the past decade. And guess who has led the way with poor planning? Just as Target and Costco could have been better placed (or built with some sense of sustainability), so could have Clark Pacific been placed in the vast wasteland Woodland calls the industrial area.

    You should know that Chamberlain grew up in Orange County. He personally experienced a complete obliteration of farmland at the expense of development. Sure, Disneyland is an economic powerhouse, but Clark Pacific, Target and Costco hardly provide the economic stimulus of a theme park – especially when those businesses could have been located elsewhere within existing city limits (not within the Grow-To Line). Chamberlain can see through the Petrovich partnership (Gateway I and II), so should Davis Vanguard readers.

  10. Mr.Toad

    “This whole electing someone based on him being latino, black, white or whatever is totally racist.”

    Maybe, but a group that represents 30% of the population never having someone like themselves in a position of some authority, someone who knows what it feels like to be in that 30%, is that somehow less than totally racist?

  11. Rifkin

    DAVE: [i]”Last week, Woodland Mayor [b]Artemio[/b] Pimentel entered the race and came out firing with both guns blazing at two-term incumbent Duane Chamberlain. … [b]Artemio[/b] Pimentel argued that he and Duane Chamberlain “would be on the same page on that particular issue,” the protection of farmland. … “Both of those he’s opposed continuously,” [b]Artemio[/b] Pimentel said, “I feel that that is the wrong approach especially when he’s representing such a large portion of the city of Woodland.”[/i]

    Why are you now calling him “Artemio,” when Mr. Pimentel is widely an comonly known as “Art”? You don’t refer to James Provenza or to Matthew Rexroad. You have never called me Richard Rifkin in your articles. You don’t call Don Saylor or Don Shor “Donald.” It is weird that you have decided now to call Art Pimentel “Artemio.”

    You might notice that Yolo County Elections calls him “Art” Pimentel ([url]http://www.yoloelections.org/sites/elections/archives/20080603/woodland.html[/url]).

    As recently as December 8 of this year, the Vanguard called him Art Pimentel: [quote]Woodland Mayor Art Pimentel told the Bee that they believe they can move forward on their own. [/quote] You did the same thing last February in a column about the Gutierrez shooting: [quote]Woodland Mayor Art Pimentel told the Daily Democrat that he “is hopeful the community can move on. He is pleased with the outcome of the federal Gutierrez investigation.”[/quote] Given the history of David Greenwald trying to play one race or one ethnic group against another*, I have to wonder if this switch from Art to Artemio is a ploy to get Hispanics to rally around Mr. Pimentel? Is the Vanguard secretly in the Pimentel camp? Something seems odd about this name switch. It feels like some behind the scenes operative is pulling the Vanguard’s strings?

    *This starts pre-Vanguard when David Greenwald tried to claim that the Davis Police Dept. was racist and employed racial bias against minorities in Davis. That was the esstential topic of this blog at the beginning. It also appeared to be Greenwald’s inspiration for starting this blog as someone other than himself, writing his pieces as “DPD.” He never said why he finally came out of the closet as the author of this blog.

  12. rusty49

    “So what is the Republican party in the South today?”

    The South tends to be conservative and Republican, so I would say that most are voting on those “merits”. But for the ones voting only because of a politician’s race then they’re also racists.

  13. Rifkin

    [i]”While these service sector jobs may seem unimportant to a Davis professional they sure beat what Chamberlain’s vision offers, more work on a tomato harvester.”[/i]

    Do you have any idea how much people who work on a tomato harvester in Yolo County are paid? Those Target jobs you speak so highly of pay minimum wage, which is $64 per day minus taxes, FICA and other deductions. The men who operate tomato harvesters make 2.5 times as much per hour. This year, the typical worker on a tomato harvester in our county made $150 per day (cash).

    Farm labor may be harder work, especially when the weather is bad. But it is not minimum wage or even low-skilled work. In fact, a big difference is that those workers who are great at their jobs–because they are paid for their productivity and not their hours worked–make much more. A Davis-based farmer told me (a few years ago) that the best itinerants who work for him can usually take home $1,000 per week. (I do wonder if the wages would be lower if the government did not give our farmers so much in welfare payments?)

  14. medwoman

    Mr. Toad

    “Of course to a bunch of white middle class liberal Davisites issues other than the backgrounds that helped develop the world views of the candidates may be most important but for the first and second generation of poor mexican immigrants still trying to move into the middle class having someone who represents their dreams and desires may be paramount.”

    I have two problems with this line of reasoning:
    1) It assumes that “white middle class liberal Davisites ” share the same set of issues and values. If you have followed postings on other issues, such as the water project and rates, that is demonstrably not the case. Also some of us who fit your description come from rural and traditionally excluded ethnic, economic groups and have not lost that perspective even if our current lives are not centered around it.
    2) “someone who represents their dreams and desires may be paramount. Again, I would be hesitant to state that someone’s ethnicity makes them more likely to represent an assumed homogeneous set of dreams and desires. both Obama and Cain self identify as black, but don’t necessarily represent the same set of “dreams and desires.”

  15. Mr.Toad

    Those Target jobs you speak so highly of pay minimum wage, which is $64 per day minus taxes, FICA and other deductions. The men who operate tomato harvesters make 2.5 times as much per hour. This year, the typical worker on a tomato harvester in our county made $150 per day (cash).

    Are the tomato guys exempt or evading?

    Of course the tomato work is seasonal and $150/day may seem like a lot to you but is not to everyone. What I do know is the work on a tomato harvester is not favored by those I work with that have intimate knowledge of it. Maybe it pays more because otherwise there would be a lack of supply of labor to do it not because its such a gravy train.

  16. Rifkin

    [i]”What I do know is the work on a tomato harvester is not favored by those I work with that have intimate knowledge of it.”[/i]

    I concede I don’t know anyone who works on a tomato harvester. I have done in my time labor which is far, far more odious*, though. My knowledge of the amount they make comes from a farmer and frankly is a bit dated (at least 2 years ago).

    [i]” Maybe it pays more because otherwise there would be a lack of supply of labor to do it …”[/i]

    I would guess you are right. Generally, jobs which are difficult, require some kind of physical strength or result in physical pain or have an element of danger pay more money.

    That said, I cannot imagine anyone thinking that operating a tomato harvester is physically more difficult than harvesting tomatoes by hand. Not only do the harvester operators make a lot more money–because the machine makes them so much more productive–all farm labor jobs which involve stooping over and hand-picking fruits or vegetables are terribly hard on the body (esp. the back) over time.

    *I once worked as a “chink” operator in a salmon cannery. The “chinking machine” (so-called because of the ‘ka-chink’ sound it makes) is used in fish-canning factories. It is supposed to do everything to get a fish ready for its can: cut the head and tail off, strip the species of all of its fins, and gut and clean the fish, all automatically. What happens in reality is that it works on around half of the fish which come through. The rest are cleaned up by workers who pull the fish off the line to get rid of a fish-head which did not get lopped off, or to do the same to any other part which does not belong in a can. As the “chink” operator, you have to feed fish into the “chinking machine” and you have to stop it and clean it out or repair it every so often when it fails to function properly. For 16 to 20 hours per day (minus 15 minute breaks every two hours), you get bits of fish and blood and guts spit out at you, standing beside the chinking machine. It’s cold, wet, filthy and stinky work. The days are very long, because you have to arrive early to warm up the machine and stay late to clean it properly. Yet I remember operating that machine fondly. If I had not gotten hired on as a deckhand on a salmon Seiner, I would have happily kept working as a chink operator for my summers in Alaska.

  17. Rifkin

    This is tangentially related to farm labor work: It may come as a surprise to those who have not experienced it, but the MAJORITY of seasonal workers in Southeast Alaska (in fishing, canneries, forestry and mining) are Latinos**, primarily citizens of Mexico who either have valid working papers or somehow have fake but passable working papers. I happen to be fluent in Spanish, and that fact allowed me through conversations to learn what the common work pattern was (in the period I was in Alaska) for the Mexicans who go up to the Southeast every summer: They normally would work in the spring in California or Oregon, planting crops in March and April. They then would go up to Alaska and work in the seafood industry from May to September. And finally they go to Washington for the fall apple harvest. After that, they return to Mexico (or El Salvador or Honduras, etc.) to reunite with their families for the winter.

    In the ’80s, such a work-year could produce an income of about $30,000 for a healthy young man. That was plenty to live off and help out family members back home. Some even collected unemployment when they went home. I helped friends who didn’t know too much English to fill out the unemployment forms.

    What I don’t know is if this system still exists for them. The ease to cross the border illegally is no longer there. I never knew who was or who was not illegally working. But those workers were all treated the same as far as I could see: if they worked hard, they made money. Period. Same for non-Latinos. The only real difference was, due to family concerns and language barriers, few Latinos stayed in Alaska year round, and thus few rose up the ranks in the companies they worked for.

    **I am not sure when Latinos became the majority of Alaska’s seasonal workers. That was not the case in the mid-1980s when I worked up there. But Latinos were a big and growing minority, back then. The source of my comment that they are now a majority comes from a friend of mine who works for NOAA. That is the agency which inspects the seafood industry. (As it happens, those inspections are optional. But almost all companies pay to have the inspectors come, because for very little cost, they can sell their canned and fresh-frozen seafood for a much higher price if it is stamped “Inspected by NOAA.”)

  18. Dino

    Read the new Woodland Record article “2011 in review: Pimentel “put on blast” during Jan. 18 council meeting, subsidies revealed for Petrovich.”

    [url]http://woodlandrecord.com/in-review-pimentel-put-on-blast-during-jan-council-meeting-sub-p2383-1.htm[/url]

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