Commentary:Economic Development – The Next Frontier in Davis Politics?

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Downtown_Davis1_2008When Kemble Pope sent me his comments from last Tuesday’s council meeting, which began with an economic summit, I figured his comments would be controversial. What I did not guess was that his comments would trigger a lengthy discussion of Davis economic development policies.

In the coming election, it is a foregone conclusion that issues like water, the budget and the environment will be front and center.  Development is omnipresent, though somewhat diminished, since the days of Measure J votes and dwindling non-Measure J land parcels.  But perhaps a sleeper issue is economic development.

In recent years we have seen a much stronger and more serious push toward economic development as Davis realizes that the days of relying on auto sales are numbered.  Davis approved big-box development in the form of Target, and likely will not revisit that issue.  The city is using its remaining RDA funding to build a Hotel-Conference center where Caffé Italia currently resides, hoping to bring in precious tax money from that.

But the next frontier is clearly university spin-offs.  The university, under the leadership of Linda Katehi, when she is not battling for her career with the pepper-spray debacle, is pushing to increase its profile – and bring in over $1 billion in money for research and development that can be spun into precious native and indigenous history.

What we are seeing is a push from the business community.  In part, it is embodied in new Davis Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kemble Pope, who perhaps brazenly and perhaps with good justification laid down the proverbial gauntlet last week when he called for the ouster of the city’s economic development team.

Wrote Mr. Pope: “Let’s plan now for the loss of Redevelopment Agency funding. Failure to plan really is planning to fail. Please ask for help from the community now to make the necessary budget adjustments so that we can minimize services lost.”

He then added, “To that end, consider dissolving the City’s entire Economic Development department and eliminate all staff positions related to the department. Set a date certain in the month of March and these organizations will come back here and present a succession plan to take over those responsibilities.”

To us this was a call to action, suggesting that the economic development folks had been too cautious and not aggressive enough in moving forward a plan.

I stand by my comments that most everyone supports economic development in this city.

However, leaders in the business community are increasingly getting frustrated and impatient by the lack of quick movement on these issues.

This is embodied within the comments by Davis Downtown Business Association Co-President Michael Bisch, who challenged my comments on Sunday where I said, “Everyone supports, I think, business development. We support the idea of high-tech spinoffs from the university and figuring out better ways to capture the valuable point-of-sales tax revenue.”

Mr. Bisch quickly responded, “To put it bluntly, this comment is divorced from reality. There are any number of loud voices in the community that do not share this view.”

He added, “There are many more voices in the community, even on the council, who share the view, but work at cross purposes or do not act to further the objective at all.”

“I mentioned at the economic presentations this past Tuesday that it will be extremely difficult to effectively engage in economic development without addressing 3 aspects of our local political culture:  1) Community Sustainability (environmental, social, and economic) 2) Intolerance of creativity and innovation  3) Barriers and constraints to fostering a robust local economy.”

The problem here, I think, is not that some people support economic development and others do not.  The problem that Mr. Bisch is actually citing is that there is no agreed-upon path toward getting to where we want to go.  There is no consensus on what the future vision should be.

I would say, as I said before, “I agree that we generally need to figure out ways to expand our business community.”

But Mr. Bisch would respond: “Such ways are figured out on a daily basis; unfortunately, they generally are met with a hail of criticism ‘NO’ crowd and apathy and flip flopping by the council.”

This is the problem, I think, in that Mr. Bisch believes that as the business community sits around talking mainly to themselves and comes up with visions and proposals as to how they see things, going forward, that they have not taken into account that there is a broader community that has conflicting values.

Put simply, there are those who support business but oppose any expansion of the city into the periphery.  This is the issue involved in the re-zoning of ConAgra without testing in some measurable way whether the citizens would support, through a Measure J vote, some sort of peripheral business park.

There are those who wish to bolster the downtown, but are reluctant to see the downtown expanded upward.

The bottom line is that the impatience on the part of the business community, while understandable, needs to reflect more recognition that they may not have the support of the masses of people who vote for councilmembers.  And so if they get frustrated that the city is not moving fast enough, they need to understand why the city is not moving fast enough.

In the past I have proposed to Mr. Bisch and others a form of dialogue on these pages to enable the business community and the political community and other folks in this city to exchange ideas and visions.

I do not see consensus yet.  What I see is a lot of hard work by those in the city and those in the business community to come up with a vision, but little outreach into the world of the soccer moms and softball dads.  Little outreach into the environmental community that remains strong.

That is not to say that I do not share the frustration of many with the effectiveness of city staff on a whole host of issues, including many that I laid out last week.  But to really move forward requires a much more shared vision than I think is in existence now.  It requires patience and more hard work.

I see a lot of frustration in the words of people like Michael Bisch and Kemble Pope.  I understand where that comes from.   I am less certain that in the long run it will serve them well.

The bottom line is that to do what you think needs to be done will take the city councilmembers and the public to buy into it.  Try to see what will happen when you attempt a Measure J vote and you will see what you are really up against.

—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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126 thoughts on “Commentary:Economic Development – The Next Frontier in Davis Politics?”

  1. DT Businessman

    David, I commend you on generally quoting me in context above. I’d like to correct/clarify 3 items that may lead to misunderstanding.

    1) I do not support peripheral development, save for Nishi/Solano/Gatway. I’m a strong advocate for densification to ease pressure for peripheral growth and to foster a sustainable community. I think I’ve been pretty consistent in this matter over my 4 years in Davis.

    3)Those that battle over ConAgra, I not being one of them, are not battling over whether to develop it. They are battling over how to develop it. Every protagonist I’m aware of has conceded that it should be developed. My only comments on the record pertaining to ConAgra have been to correct faulty statements regarding demand and absoprtion for housing and commercial space and the impact on fostering a sustainable community. I have also applauded Don Shor’s notion that if housing is to be built on site, it would ideally be high-density housing for ownership and rental to meet the existing, let alone, future high demand for such product.

    3)”…lack of quick movement”? 4 years into a recession/faltering recovery, significant city service cuts with many more on the way, the schools getting hammered, the time for quick movement has long since come and gone. Now it’s all about playing catch-up. Hello?

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

  2. DT Businessman

    As to the article above generally, let’s be clear here. We can call it the Kemble initiative for reference purposes, but the call to action is broad based across the business community. I for one look forward to reviewing a detailed proposal. I have in no way ever advocated for a city staffer to be fired. On the other hand, the council would be foolish to not examine every viable option, every serious proposal. Not knowing the details of the proposal, how can any open minded person reject it out of hand?

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

  3. Mr.Toad

    “3)Those that battle over ConAgra, I not being one of them, are not battling over whether to develop it. They are battling over how to develop it.”

    Actually there was just discussion about Brett Lee being opposed to developing Con Agra as a centerpiece of his campaign.

    David said: “I agree that we generally need to figure out ways to expand our business community.”

    But then you oppose everything that doesn’t meet with your narrow view of perfection. Funny you use the word expand because you oppose expansion through support of J and R. This town is all locked up and that has worked for a decade or more but the unintended consequences of no growth politics are coming home to roost first with a decline in enrollment through the failure to have an adequate housing program and the loss of housing that should have been built here being built in Woodland. Next to suffer will be infrastructure as the costs of water and parks strain those who can’t afford them coupled with those unwilling to pay. Then you will see businesses that would start up here going to Dixon, Woodland, West Sac, Vacaville (think Genentech) or Sacramento. At some point Davis must realize that the costs of no growth are no longer worth the benefits.

  4. DT Businessman

    The cruise ship Davis has run aground and is taking on water. The lookout had called out a warning, the State had fouled the rudder and propellers, but the ship’s officers were too busy glad-handing with the passengers up on deck to take corrective action. 4 officers have now abandoned ship, 1 new officer has been helicoptered on board, the remaining officers realize there’s a serious problem, but the passengers scarcely noticed the deck chairs lurch as the ship ran up on the reef. The officers are intermittently fighting among themselves, glad-handing with the passengers on deck, calling may day, or studying the charts to set a course not realizing they can’t sail anywhere since the propellers and rudder are fouled and they’re taking on water. Some of the crew are taking effective action, but quite a few are off-duty and asleep in their bunks, or recreating. Meanwhile, no one has noticed that at least half the bilge pumps are not even functioning, which is why the ship is still taking on water. What needs to happen is for the officers to get their act together, immediately order the repair of the bilge pumps no matter what it takes, seal the hull, send divers overboard to clear the rudder and the propellers, get off the reef, and set a new course to reach their destination.

    It reminds me quite a bit of the Deepwater Horizon where the platform is on fire, the superstructure is being shredded by explosions, the captain and some of the crew are in a lifeboat with the throttle wide open, wondering why they’re not making any headway, all the while the lifeboat is still tethered to the platform.

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

  5. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]I do not see consensus yet. What I see is a lot of hard work by those in the city and those in the business community to come up with a vision, but little outreach into the world of the soccer moms and softball dads. Little outreach into the environmental community that remains strong.[/quote]

    I think the Economic Development Roundtable, and the subsequent Economic Development Strategy [b][i]were an attempt at outreach[/i][/b] to the general community. Unfortunately some of the statements made by the business community were somewhat negative, which was not a propitious beginning, and IMO should have been left to a more appropriate time/venue. However, any negativity that occurred was far out-shadowed by the positive vision statements made by representatives from UCD/Roots/Yolo County Visitors Bureau. (Bravo to BEDC for this event!) However, some reactions/statements from one City Council member in particular were also counter-productive, and show what an uphill climb the business community has in furthering economic development.

    In consequence, I would make the following suggestions to the business community:
    1) Bring together representative members of UCD, DSIDE, DDBA, Chamber of Commerce, BEDC, and other members of the business community, and perhaps other interested members of the public (call it the Economic Development Strategy Committee (EDSC)), and hammer out a consensus strategy for business and economic development. This would have the advantage of creating a groundswell of support from various segments of the community. Come up with what I would call a “starter strategy” of small achievable goals to begin with.
    2) Then approach the City Council for what I would call a “check-in”, and force a vote on the “starter strategy”, so that all can agree on at least a few easily achievable items that will set the stage for bigger and better things to come.
    3) If the City Council cannot get its act together and agree to some sort of “starter strategy”, then the EDSC needs to work together on its own to further economic development working behind the scenes to further its goals.

    The idea is to create a groundswell of support, so that naysayers are essentially left in the dust, as unreasonable/obstructionist. I have gone through various sorts of obstructionism to get things off the ground (Triad, Senior Housing Guidelines, Carlton Plaza Davis, to name a few). Sometimes one has to resort to going through side windows or through the back door, if the front door is locked and barred from entry…

    Just a suggestion…

  6. newshoundpm

    I agree with Mr. Toad & DT Businessman. The residents of the City of Davis and all of its liberalness has gotten the City painted into a corner. UC Davis had been the driver of prosperity in Davis, but with state cuts to education and the state of the economy in general, this economic force is no longer able to keep up with damage done by such constraints such as Measures J & R. Too many people want a simple and painless solution, because they have had the luxury of receiving it in the past. Davis needs to wake up before it is too late.

    I should also comment that I found David’s comments about Chancellor Katehi a tad ironic. He appears in his words to be supportive of what she is attempting to do as an economic driver for Davis. Yet he also seems to support her ouster as Chancellor due to the pepper spraying incident. I think that Chancellor Katehi was one of the few bright lights of hope for Davis’ future and was deeply saddened by the fact that she has taken so much heat for what occured. (We’ll wait to see what the Reynoso report says, but I think she did not make any major mistakes, and certainly not one that should lead to her dismisal.) However, there appear to be significant numbers that want to see her go, and that would be a travesty for UC Davis, the city and the region. I truly believe she is a visionary with the right vision and the ability to get a good amount of what she seeks to accomplish done. She’s not perfect, and certainly is not a crisis communications specialist (and appears to either not have received good advice during the crisis, or not taken it), but I believe she is Davis’ best hope for its future of economic development.

  7. hpierce

    [quote]but the unintended consequences of no growth politics are coming home to roost first with [b]a decline in enrollment[/b] through the failure to have an adequate housing program and the loss of housing that should have been built [/quote]First, I am neither “pro-growth”, nor “anti-growth”. That being said, I do NOT believe that ‘stable’ nor ‘increasing’ enrollment of school-age children is a “goal”. If the existing residents have more children, enrollment will rise, even absent new development. If significant new development, aimed at aging seniors, is approved, that doesn’t necessarily translate to increased enrollment. I see no need to ‘grow’ in order to preserve job opportunities for teachers, administrators, planners or any other public employee. Ironically, most of recent cuts in the City workforce has come from maintenance/operational sectors, as opposed to planning, etc. The infrastructure we have is not declining, even absent new development.

  8. Mr.Toad

    I thought his dependent clause about Katahi out of sync and behind the curve. I think she lost the battle but survived the war. The turning point was when she was asked about resigning and she pointed out she had raised $770 million for the university. Still I agree its a tell in this story, The real story is when she said enough is enough about constraints to growth while threatening to proceed with her plans to create spin offs in other communities. Yes, enough is enough.

  9. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]He appears in his words to be supportive of what she is attempting to do as an economic driver for Davis. Yet he also seems to support her ouster as Chancellor due to the pepper spraying incident.[/quote]

    I spotted this too, which neglects to mention the questionable/illegal role students played in the debacle…

  10. DT Businessman

    “The infrastructure we have is not declining, even absent new development.” This is what I mean by the passengers not having noticed that the ship has run aground and is taking on water. David has reported at length on the deferred road maintenance. David has also reported at length on the need for significant water infrastructure upgrades, either well and/or surface water infrastructure. These are but two of many infrastructure challenges we are confronted with and are having extreme difficulty addressing.

    The ship doesn’t have to go down. It can definitely be saved, we have the skills and resources. But it requires effective, determined action.

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

  11. Rifkin

    R. Kelly ([url]http://www.lasentinel.net/UserFiles/File/010512/R_ Kelly.jpg[/url]): [i]”What happened with the (Business &) Economic Development Commission and how would Kemble’s proposal junction any different than this?”[/i]

    See this ([url]http://cityofdavis.org/meetings/business/2_27_2012_Combined_Packet.pdf[/url]), beginning on page 4.

  12. Ryan Kelly

    Rich, So I see they have a plan. How would Kemble’s proposal function different than this? Why can’t Kemble bring his resources to bolster these activities? Why can’t Kemble work with what’s already there, rather than just focus on firing a couple of staff and having a private group assume responsibility?

    To me, his proposal is not well thought out. I think he blames the staff for doing the work they are directed to do by the City Council or for working on projects brought to them (and paid for) by developers and landowners.

    I also think that Kemble doesn’t really know what the staff are required to deal with on a daily basis.

  13. Dr. Wu

    The term “economic development” means lots of different things to different people. For many cities in the last decade it meant more retail (read big box) and in some cases more housing. Retail does bring in sales taxes and has to be part of the mix but most people in Davis (myself included) also want to keep our downtown.

    Economic development departments also tend to become captured by Chamber of Commerce types. I’m all for more business in Davis but only if it meets community standards. I don’t want us to be like Elk Grove or even Roseville–not that ther is anything wrong with it.

  14. Frankly

    [i]”I do not support peripheral development, save for Nishi/Solano/Gatway. I’m a strong advocate for densification to ease pressure for peripheral growth and to foster a sustainable community. I think I’ve been pretty consistent in this matter over my 4 years in Davis.”[/i]

    Michael, is the the common position of the DDBA? Densification means taller structures. I’m not sure how this works for expanding retail as retail generally occupies street-level floor space. What is the vision here?

  15. JustSaying

    [quote]“I stand by my comments that most everyone supports economic development in this city. However, leaders in the business community are increasingly getting frustrated and impatient by the lack of quick movement on these issues.[/quote]I haven’t seen any evidence that this has been true for 10 years so so. Unless you count people [u]saying[/u] “I like apple pie” as being in [u]support[/u] of something.

    What do you consider “quick movement”? Other than Target, the city staff and city council have been fiddling around for a decade with a series of failed “affordable housing” projects, a ZipCar program that duplicated UCD’s, kicking out the city’s youth for a never-open bicycle storage, moving Mishka’s into a nicer building for some reason, the Hanlees $1-million loan giveaway, various “sidewalk improvements,” etc.

    Apparently, we figured the Davis Auto Mall would support our municipal government and our cute downtown forever. What has our city government done in the past 10 year to [u]support[/u] economic development?

    It’s difficult to talk about “quick movement” when it’s hard to credit much movement at all.

  16. Mr.Toad

    Densification in Downtown means going up and less sunlight at street level. The parking structure is a good example; cut down the trees and put up a big heat island that blocks light from the street. How do you densify downtown while maintaining its ambiance. Look at the new house on B across from the park. A failed attempt at victorian revival. Why? Its too tall so it loses its stylistic charm.

    Densifying downtown while maintaining its cultural vibrancy is an oxymoron. A better plan is to give up on trying to keep Davis locked into artificial borders that have no geographic basis, keep downtown what it is and build on the periphery.

  17. Sue Greenwald

    I agree with Dr. Wu that “economic development” means different things to different people.

    I support high-tech and related University economic development in order to help with new job creation, which is our nation’s number one problem and also to help shore up support for our state University system. The reality is that the legislature will be more sympathetic to University funding if we can show that it is creating jobs.

    That said, it probably will not help the city’s budget significantly, and we should not over-promise in that department. Economic development will not be likely to bring significant new net revenue to the city unless we impose a city income tax, and that is not likely. So we should be honest about that.

    To my thinking, the Nishi is the best site for high-tech development if we can obtain funding for an underpass under the railroad tracks so that auto traffic can exit out the under-used UC Davis I-80 exit.

    After talking to some folks at the University yesterday, I am much more optimistic about this.

    I also support requiring that somewhat more land at the Hunt-Wesson site be required to maintain its existing neighborhood-compatible high tech/non-profit/community use zoning.

    Between the Nishi and the Hunt-Wesson, we should have enough high-tech and non-profit land available for awhile.

    Again, I oppose significant densification in the commercial core, in order to preserve the character of downtown and due to parking issues. I think that parking should be available for our ground-floor retail, restaurant, arts and entertainment customers. The Nishi should be able to provide a lot of customers for our downtown if the University and the city restrict restaurant uses in the Nishi/Mondavi/Solano Park area.

    Hopefully the PG&E property will be available at some point in the future.

    The Nishi property is 40 acres. The PG&E property is 27 acres. Both are easy walking distance to downtown. The entire commercial core looks to be only about 25 acres (I should get staff to measure it accurately). So we have a huge amount of room to develop on the underused land adjacent to the downtown without having to destroy the character of downtown. (I am not opposed to a few taller buildings, particularly on G Street by the tracks, but I think we should be very selective).

  18. Frankly

    There is a bunch of reasonableness in what Michael, Dr. Wu, Toad and Sue has written here. I see 90% common shared goals and maybe 10% conflict. I think the downtown can be densified a bit, but the streets are not wide enough and there is too little set-back to support the erection of a wall of 4-story structures. However, it would seem we can support a taller structure here and there. I think of State Street in Santa Barbara. There are a mix of tall and less-tall structures up and down the street and although there tends to be a bit more shade, it is still has an attractive and vibrant feel.

    I think our downtown needs to expand… replacing some existing residential lots with commercial redevelopment. I also think we need to accept some greater peripheral development.

    My idea for densification is “shopper/visitor densification”.

  19. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]That said, it probably will not help the city’s budget significantly, and we should not over-promise in that department. Economic development will not be likely to bring significant new net revenue to the city unless we impose a city income tax, and that is not likely. So we should be honest about that. [/quote]

    If high-tech startups generate more business with the addition of more retail/restaurants, then ultimately that will generate more sales tax revenue, no? I think you have to take a wider view of economic development and its multiplier effect. Otherwise the city is going to tend to stagnate, which is not a good thing. Thus far we have kept away from stagnation (which is to our credit as a city), but we could do a whole lot better if we could join w the university in developing startups that generate the need for more business, including generating more business downtown and elsewhere…

    I agree with your assessment of the Cannery – there should be more business park and less residential. And the residential needs to be more apartments than anything else. As for the PG&E site, it would be a great place to expand business, but from what I can tell, PG&E does not seem to be a willing partner in that vision. Nishi can be worked out if willing minds put their heads together…

  20. Don Shor

    [i]”I agree with your assessment of the Cannery – there should be more business park and less residential. And the residential needs to be more apartments than anything else.”[/i]

    Unfortunately, with the plan that was put before the council, and the vote of the council, this will not happen. I believe there is presently a 3-vote majority on the council to proceed with the plan as presented. The net effect would be removal of the last large parcel within the city limits that has significant business potential, and a housing development that does nothing to solve the current and projected low-cost housing shortages.

    This is an example of how the council is proceeding with projects that are at odds with economic development. Unfortunately, the council also blocked the parking/retail project. It is hard for me to point to anything this or the prior council have done to further economic development. Somebody please prove me wrong with an example.

    Goals of affordable housing, retail development, and parking/circulation solutions are not being addressed by the council. They are simply taking projects on an ad hoc basis and responding to whatever interest groups exert the most pressure.

  21. Don Shor

    Sue:[i]After talking to some folks at the University yesterday, I am much more optimistic about this. [/i]

    That is good news. What coordinated effort can be set up to move Nishi forward? 2×2? A Chamber-sponsored commission? I am afraid that nothing will happen if there isn’t some prodding by the council.

  22. Sue Greenwald

    [quote]If high-tech startups generate more business with the addition of more retail/restaurants, then ultimately that will generate more sales tax revenue, no? I think you have to take a wider view of economic development and its multiplier effect — [b]E. Roberts Musser[/b][/quote]As I said, I support high-tech development and other university-related economic development, but the fiscal benefits to the city are probably neutral.

    The jobs will bring a bit extra sales tax, but remember, they also cost a lot of money to service. Think, for example, of all the bank hold-ups and the recent burglaries of our high-tech companies. Remember, we have to pay for the police costs, the investigations, etc. This is all paid for out of city coffers. If we annex the Nishi, we will need police coverage for the entire area, along with road and street tree maintenance, etc. It all costs money. The touted “multiplier effects” are wildly exaggerated.

    That said, University-related development will hopefully create new jobs for our country and bring income tax to the state government. It will help the University’s relationship with the legislature. It will bring more restaurants and shops that will improve the quality of our lives, and will bring interesting people to town.

  23. Sue Greenwald

    [quote]That is good news. What coordinated effort can be set up to move Nishi forward? 2×2? A Chamber-sponsored commission? I am afraid that nothing will happen if there isn’t some prodding by the council.–[b]Don Shor[/b][/quote]It’s happening. Our staff is working with their staff. I get the impression that the University is highly motivated now.

  24. Mr.Toad

    Sue Greenwald : Business development at Cannery, PGE, Nishi

    No, no, maybe. The kids are watching Peter Pan and I think I just saw Sue in Never, Never Land.

    Now if you were to master plan Cannery and Covell you might come up with something. I think Emlen tried this but Con Agra didn’t want to pay the cost and with measure J now R you can’t blame them. PG&E is not going to happen because they don’t seem willing to sell and Sue has been incapable of creating the kind of political coalition that would encourage PG&E to engage.

    This is the problem of mixed signals people are describing. Sue is only willing to do it her way and her way isn’t happening. You can’t force land owners to develop so wish as you might Sue saying Christmas isn’t going to make it fly.

    So there you have it Sue intends to be an impediment to growth both economic and residential unless it is done how she envisions it.

    I just have to bash this one point because it really strikes at the heart of the attitudes of so many, popularly represented by Sue, and, that is the idea that growth will increase crime. This fear of the unknown, I believe, lies at the root of much of the no growth attitude found in Davis. If Davis grows and has a more robust economy there will be more revenue and more jobs. More jobs equals less crime. When people are working they are less likely to commit crime. The best antidote to a kid getting into a gang is that kid having a job.

    Pandering to peoples fears about crime is hardly keeping your campaign positive Sue!

  25. DT Businessman

    Sue, I’m pleased to hear that you have reversed your previous, strident position against Nishi/Solano/Gateway/Downtown and have joined myself and others in supporting it. I disagree with everything else you have posted above and will try to carve out some time later this evening to respond in detail.

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

  26. Mr.Toad

    “What do you consider “quick movement”? Other than Target, the city staff and city council have been fiddling around for a decade with a series of failed “affordable housing” projects, a ZipCar program that duplicated UCD’s, kicking out the city’s youth for a never-open bicycle storage, moving Mishka’s into a nicer building for some reason, the Hanlees $1-million loan giveaway, various “sidewalk improvements,” etc. “

    Trader Joes a huge success.

  27. Mr.Toad

    Although after twelve years on the council I would ask Sue Greenwald to list her accomplishments. Aside from the merry go round in central park what has she brought to Davis?

    For the community I would ask are you better off today than you were 12 years ago?

  28. Sue Greenwald

    [quote]Sue, I’m pleased to hear that you have reversed your previous, strident position against Nishi/Solano/Gateway/Downtown and have joined myself and others in supporting it—[b]DT Businessman Michael Bisch.[/b][/quote]Stop being untruthful, Michael. I have always said that I support the Nishi if we can get access out I-80. Until yesterday, I have never gotten an indication from the University that were they interested. Now they are. That has been my position all along.

    By the way, Michael Bisch, I was one of a small group of activists who, along with Noni Storm and Phil Gross, encouraged the other activists who were fighting the Gateway Mall to accept a business park at Nishi as a compromise. This was about 15 years before you came to town.

  29. Sue Greenwald

    [b]@Toad:[/b]I have accomplished an enormous amount Toad, but you could never appreciate it because you are just too angry at me for being successful at slowing residential growth.

  30. Sue Greenwald

    A few examples, Toad: How about bringing the Varsity theater to Davis (we were the only university town I knew of that did not have an Indie theater when got on the council; bringing Bistro 33 to the historic city hall (a council majority was initially in favor of a local city recital hall); convincing a slender council majority not to institute an increase in pay and rank of 10 firefighters, saving the city over $400,000 a year, and, Mr. Toad, I single-handedly, after a long, long campaign, managed to get the council to hire Dr. Tchobanoglous and Schroeder, thereby saving the city $80 to $100 million on the wastewater treatment plant.

    Mr. Toad, these things would not have happened if I had not been on the City Council.

  31. DT Businessman

    “Stop being untruthful, Michael. I have always said that I support the Nishi if we can get access out I-80.”

    I’m pretty sure Sue is the one being untruthful here. I’m fairly certain that whenever I advocated for developing Nishi/Solano/Gateway/Downtown, Sue was adamantly opposed saying it was “not possible” to get proper access. My retort consistently was that there were some pretty smart people who felt the access could be worked out. David, Don, can we get a fact check here? I realize David that you’ve consistently advocated against this project, but I still think your capable of an honest fact check.

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

  32. Mr.Toad

    Bistro 33, Varsity Theatre, saving money on firefighters who had already overpaid, and opposing water development as proposed. Water development is stymied yes you have made all development harder. So really you are answering with what you have stopped as for what you have done, Bistro 33 and the Varsity Theatre. I’ll give you saving solar panels. Still not much to show for twelve years. Anything else? What do you plan to accomplish in the next 4 years? Oh don’t forget getting Don elected to Supervisor.

  33. Rifkin

    [b]SUE:[/b] [i]”I support high-tech development and other university-related economic development, but the fiscal benefits to the city are probably neutral. … remember, they also cost a lot of money to service. Think, for example, of all the bank hold-ups …”[/i]

    I may be wrong, but I’d bet good money that there has never been a bank hold-up in Davis as a result of a high-tech company opening up shop here. In fact, I would bet just as much that a PhD in bio-chemistry has never robbed a Davis branch of US Bank, Wells Fargo or Bank of America. I am less sure about First Northern Bank. So I will give you that one.

  34. Sue Greenwald

    [quote]Water development is stymied yes you have made all development harder.-[b]-Toad[/b][/quote]No Toad, reducing the cost of the wastewater treatment plant by $80 to $100 million did not stymie anything. It just saved $80 to $100 million.

    [quote]Sue was adamantly opposed saying it was “not possible” to get proper access.–TD Businessman Michael Bisch[/quote]The University had been cool about Nishi exiting through the University-I80 interchange when I had spoken with them in the past. They seem to have reconsidered.

    Why don’t you just agree that this is a good think, Michael Bisch, instead of being so personal and vindictive?

  35. Mr.Toad

    I don’t hate Don Saylor or you, Sue. But the discussion here is about economic development as Don Shor points out so I want to get back to the topic of the day.

    So let me recapitulate Bistro 33, the Varsity, but I want to qualify personally that I would have preferred not losing the Palms to Winters and retaining them in one of those venues. Saving the Solar Panels north of town and the merry go round in Central Park. Anything else you want to claim responsibility for bringing to town? What do you plan to accomplish in the next 4 years?

  36. Sue Greenwald

    [b]@Mr. Toad:[/b]I was willing to do what it took to bring the Palms to the Varsity; the other councilmembers were not. Feel free to ask the owner of the Palms to confirm that.

  37. Sue Greenwald

    Unfortunately, I cannot take credit for the merry-go-round, as much as I would like to. If I had not been on the council, there would still be a merry-go-round in central park.

  38. Mr.Toad

    Yes we are back to your inability to get things done due to your failure to work with other members. So do you have anything else that you can tout? After all its been 12 years.

    Looking forward what would you like to accomplish in the next 4 years in the area of economic development.

    These are quite straight forward questions.

  39. Mr.Toad

    Let me explain and rephrase. Your tenure is marked by a history of opposition but this thread is about economic development. So what have you accomplished in twelve years? What have you brought to town in the area of economic development? So far you have claimed credit for the Varsity and the Bistro. Pretty thin resume in this area. Again would you like to add anything to the list? If you want another term what economic development would you like to bring to town? This is a straight forward series of questions. Certainly after 12 years you should run on you record and your vision. I’m just trying to find out what is in the record and what is your vision of the future.

  40. Mr.Toad

    Mike:”The Cannery proposal Is just more same-o same-o.”

    It doesn’t need to be but the community refuses to look at the bigger picture and do a master plan for both Covell and Con Agra.

  41. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]As I said, I support high-tech development and other university-related economic development, but the fiscal benefits to the city are probably neutral.

    The jobs will bring a bit extra sales tax, but remember, they also cost a lot of money to service. Think, for example, of all the bank hold-ups and the recent burglaries of our high-tech companies. Remember, we have to pay for the police costs, the investigations, etc. This is all paid for out of city coffers. If we annex the Nishi, we will need police coverage for the entire area, along with road and street tree maintenance, etc. It all costs money. The touted “multiplier effects” are wildly exaggerated.

    That said, University-related development will hopefully create new jobs for our country and bring income tax to the state government. It will help the University’s relationship with the legislature. It will bring more restaurants and shops that will improve the quality of our lives, and will bring interesting people to town. [/quote]

    You “support” high-tech development/other UCD economic development, BUT…

    Bank holdups might happen, which could possibly cause the city to maybe hire extra police, which perhaps may cause any such economic development to be only net fiscally neutral – or net neutrally fiscal, whichever sounds best (LOL)…

    But any new jobs created would bring income to the state and the university, which will bring more restaurants and shops to Davis, THAT WON’T HELP THE ECONOMY, but it will improve the quality of our lives…

    And you are for economic development? Really? Doesn’t sound like it to me. Sounds more like double speak for “it will never pencil out on the fiscal bottom line”…

  42. E Roberts Musser

    Jobs bring vitality/money to a community one way or another, and is the economic engine that creates prosperity if done correctly. We are missing a golden opportunity to join with UCD to move forward with facilitating high-tech start-ups in our community. If we don’t move forward, UCD will surge ahead without us, and leave our fair city in the dust…

  43. Mr.Toad

    Target, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Dollar Tree, Nugget, Grocery Outlet, Forever 21, Novozymes, Agraquest, Marrone Bio Innovations, Strelitzia, Mark West Winery, Arco, Mondavi, the Hotel by Mondavi, USDA, getting rid of the Tank House and building the New Mishka’s, West Village, the Roe Building, the new Bank on 5th and G.

    Can you claim credit for any of it Sue?

  44. Mark West

    Mr. Toad: “[i]Marrone Bio Innovations, Strelitzia, [b]Mark West Winery[/b]…[/i]”

    I am happy to be included in a list with such excellent businesses and organizations, but the name of our company is Rominger West Winery.

  45. DT Businessman

    Whether by self-employment or by agreement between an employer and employee, jobs are the fundamental building block of our society as we now know it. Jobs pay directly or indirectly for all governmental services. They are the direct or indirect source for all property taxes, sales taxes, income taxes, transfer payments, federal and state grants, even pensions, social security, and investment income is derived from somebody somewhere producing a good or a service. It is not possible to have a sustainable community without jobs and job creation. I challenge anyone to dispute the foregoing assertions. That Sue doesn’t grasp this concept is one of her fundamental flaws.

    It was particularly embarrassing to watch Sue argue at length with the SACOG representatives in a December council meeting over their projection that Davis would generate somewhat less than 1% p.a. job growth over the next 25, maybe it was 27 years. Really? We’re not even capable of producing 1% job growth? That’s incredible. But then it occurred to me that she was probably correct. As long as she is on the council our local economy will continue to underperform.

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

  46. medwoman

    Mr Toad

    Your list does much to illustrate a clear divide in the community in terms of our vision for Davis. You start your list with Target. As I am sure you are aware, there was an almost 50/50 split in the community about the desirability of a Target. Reading the commentary from some of the more active proponents of growth, one would think that this is a “good guys” vs the obstructionist “bad guys” when what we really are working out iraq radical differences in our ideal vision for the future of Davis. I think what the pro growthers tend to forget is that many of us do not believe that growth and improvement are synonymous and certainly not the kind of growth by sprawl and duplication that we see predominate in this area.

  47. Rifkin

    [i]”I am happy to be included in a list with such excellent businesses and organizations, but the name of our company is Rominger West Winery.”[/i]

    Out of curiosity … since Charlie Rominger passed away, are you now the sole proprietor of your company? Or did one of Charlie’s relatives assume his position?

  48. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Target, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Dollar Tree, Nugget, Grocery Outlet, Forever 21, Novozymes, Agraquest, Marrone Bio Innovations, Strelitzia, Mark West Winery, Arco, Mondavi, the Hotel by Mondavi, USDA, getting rid of the Tank House and building the New Mishka’s, West Village, the Roe Building, the new Bank on 5th and G. [/quote]

    Mr. Toad, thanks for bringing to our attention all the economic development that has transpired, despite resistance in some quarters. This points to my comment that the city has not stagnated – but it could be so much more if we would join UCD in their efforts to encourage high-tech start-ups…

  49. Mark West

    Rifkin: [i]”Out of curiosity … since Charlie Rominger passed away, are you now the sole proprietor of your company? Or did one of Charlie’s relatives assume his position?”[/i]

    No Rich, I am not a sole proprietor and yes, the Romingers are still actively involved in our operation. If you are still curious, just check out the website [url]http://romingerwest.com[/url].

  50. Mr.Toad

    Dr. Med,

    I actually agree with you that we shouldn’t embrace everything that anyone wants to build or every business but I asked Sue what in twelve years she wants to claim as success related to economic development. It is open ended and straight forward question. So far all she has claimed was The Bistro and the Varsity. So even if you take a narrow view of growth that is a slim portfolio of accomplishment after 12 years. I also asked about her vision for the next four years related to economic growth and she has not yet replied so its fair to assume she is still formulating a reply. The other candidates might want to share their visions as well.

    As for Target and Nugget in both cases the opposition before their opening was much greater than the acceptance by the community after. This is something that we should consider carefully when we see opposition to new growth. I wonder how many opponents of Wildhorse now live there.

    I’ll tell you what I’d like is a big box electronics store like Best Buy that carries Apple products. We bought a computer in Vacaville. While there we saw others from Davis I recognized. The clerk lived in Davis. I thought this is crazy why don’t we have a store like this in Davis?

  51. Don Shor

    Big box electronics chains aren’t exactly prospering, much less expanding, right now. Nor is there any place for one to locate here. Unless, of course, they were willing to build a store smaller than 40,000 square feet, locate on one of the pads next to Target, or remodel and fill some of the existing vacant space in one of the existing shopping centers.
    Don’t hold your breath.

  52. Frankly

    [i]”Big box electronics chains aren’t exactly prospering”[/i]

    While Internet sales are taking a growing bite out of consumer electronics bricks and mortar sales, now is actually the best time to consider opening a store like Best Buy. Real estate is more affordable, rates are low and the economy is starting to heat up again.

  53. Don Shor

    Why should we build on peripheral land and try to have every kind of store other cities have? Doing so harms the downtown and harms the neighborhood shopping centers. Thus you end up killing those — as every city around us has done — so you can have the exact same stores those other cities have. Why would Best Buy open on 113 when they have a store on Rd 102 in Woodland?
    Circuit City. CompUSA. You want to build another giant store on the edge of town and watch it fail?

  54. Mr.Toad

    Because it is more time and energy efficient to bring the stuff to town in one truck than to have lots of people drive down to Vacaville or Woodland or someplace and it keeps dollars at home. Curiously, I don’t think a big electronics store would hurt Davis business much. Other than Radio Shack or Target, both big chains, I don’t think there is an outlet for diversified electronics in town.

  55. Frankly

    [i]”Why should we build on peripheral land and try to have every kind of store other cities have?”[/i]

    – Increased product and brand options for local residents.
    – Attract shoppers from outside the area.
    – Generate more sales tax revenue.
    – Why are the other cities doing it if is such a bad idea? Are they just all a bunch of ignorant dweebs that can’t measure up to our Davis economic development brain trust?

    [i]”Doing so harms the downtown and harms the neighborhood shopping centers.”[/i]

    – Not necessarily.
    – Some competition is good. Lack of competition is bad.

    [i]”you end up killing those — as every city around us has done”[/i]

    – Not necessarily. Davis’s downtown is not at risk of dying.
    – Eliminating peripheral retail and commercial development makes sense only if you are attempting to preserve your downtown as some sort of protected work of art or some historical district.
    – There is more to consider here. We should not protect our downtown from any impacts at all costs.

    IMO, Davis’s downtown is okay but not worthy of so much praise. The lack of competition, lack of churn, lack of redevelopment… it has resulted in a shabby and declining look. It is lacking the vitality that you would expect for having all our shopping eggs concentrated in the primary core basket… and having all the students and residents with higher than average discretionary household income.

    We can’t buy men’s clothing. Women’s and children’s clothing options are limited. Electronics options are limited. Furniture options are limited. Appliance options are limited. Building supply options and tool brands are limited. Housewares options and brands are limited. Sporting goods options and brands are limited. A lot of things are limited.

    Tax receipts are limited.

  56. Frankly

    Not necessarily; although I do think they adjust their product selection to local shopper demographics.

    Consumer electronics is a HUGE category. The products are complex with arrays of different features. Target carries the low and low-mid level models, and some of the most popular from a price-point perspective. However, they do not carry higher-end brands and models. They also limit the brands and models they carry. They do not have employees trained to provide sales support.

  57. Don Shor

    
[i]- Attract shoppers from outside the area. [/i]
    A Best Buy wouldn’t attract shoppers from outside the area. All the surrounding communities have them.

    
[i]- Generate more sales tax revenue.[/i]
    [i] 
- Why are the other cities doing it if is such a bad idea? Are they just all a bunch of ignorant dweebs that can’t measure up to our Davis economic development brain trust? [/i]

    Notwithstanding your snarky references, you answered your own question. I would say: if you want to kill the city’s downtown, every surrounding city has shown you the model for how to do it. All of them followed your logic, chasing sales tax revenues.

    

[i]”Doing so harms the downtown and harms the neighborhood shopping centers.” 

- Not necessarily. 
- Some competition is good. Lack of competition is bad.[/i]

    Peripheral retail development always harms the downtown and neighborhood shopping centers. Always.

    [i] 

”you end up killing those — as every city around us has done” 

- Not necessarily. Davis’s downtown is not at risk of dying. 
[/i]

    Because the downtown and neighborhood centers are protected by the planning principles I’ve described! You would undo exactly what has kept them from NOT being at risk of dying! You can’t have peripheral retail and have a healthy downtown and neighborhood shopping. They are directly at odds.

    [i]- Eliminating peripheral retail and commercial development makes sense only if you are attempting to preserve your downtown as some sort of protected work of art or some historical district. [/i]

    NO, what you are trying to preserve is a healthy mix of retail, entertainment, and commercial. You don’t get that if you kill the retail.

    
[i]- There is more to consider here. We should not protect our downtown from any impacts at all costs.[/i]

    We haven’t. There are neighborhood shopping centers.

    [i] 


IMO, Davis’s downtown is okay but not worthy of so much praise. The lack of competition, lack of churn, lack of redevelopment… [/i]

    Again (and again and again), Davis has a much healthier downtown than any surrounding city, and that is for a reason.

    [i] 

We can’t buy men’s clothing. Women’s and children’s clothing options are limited. Electronics options are limited. Furniture options are limited. Appliance options are limited. Building supply options and tool brands are limited. Housewares options and brands are limited. Sporting goods options and brands are limited. A lot of things are limited. 

Tax receipts are limited.[/i]

    Men’s clothing stores and department stores have never succeeded here. How many more Gottschalks do we need to go through? You and I aren’t enough of a customer base, Jeff. There are plenty of building supply and tool options, just not in the format you prefer. Housewares are readily available. Sporting goods are available. On and on.
    Again: Davis should not try to emulate the shopping options that are available ten minutes in three directions. Davis should focus on what it does well: small retail, entertainment, and dining.

  58. Don Shor

    [i]They do not have employees trained to provide sales support. [/i]
    LOL — neither does Best Buy. Fry’s, CostCo, and WalMart have pretty much killed off all the mid-range electronics chains.
    When I was debating against Second Street Crossing, the two things people most often mentioned (I always asked) as being deficient in Davis was clothing for young kids (cheap) and consumer electronics. Somebody should tell Target to get on the ball, comply with their development agreement, and figure out how to bring those to the two pads they were supposed to make progress on within two years of opening.
    Your idea of a peripheral retail site on farmland north of Davis on 113 is DOA. Not a chance.

  59. Frankly

    [i]”You can’t have peripheral retail and have a healthy downtown and neighborhood shopping. They are directly at odds.”[/i]

    You seem to see things in only black and white. I suggest you consider that this is limiting your ability to maintain credibility debating this subject. In fact, you sort of sound like one of those “no new taxes under any circumstances” GOPers that you like to complain about from time to time.

    [i]”Your idea of a peripheral retail site on farmland north of Davis on 113 is DOA. Not a chance.”[/i]

    Interesting Don. You do know that ALL development in this area has been on farm and ranch land, don’t you? I don’t know what we are protecting… the view of dead and brown grass while driving to and from Woodland to shop at Costo and Home Depot?

  60. Mr.Toad

    “When I was debating against Second Street Crossing, the two things people most often mentioned (I always asked) as being deficient in Davis was clothing for young kids (cheap) and consumer electronics. Somebody should tellTarget to get on the ball, comply with their development agreement, and figure out how to bring those to the two pads they were supposed to make progress on within two years of opening. “

    Okay Don, fine with me, and it wouldn’t require that much more police time sucking up all the tax revenue that Sue is so worried about if someone else drives off with an ATM.

    Hey Don make it happen and you will be able to claim more economic development success than Sue will be able to claim after 12 or perhaps 16 years of service to the community.

  61. Adam Smith

    [i]Again (and again and again), Davis has a much healthier downtown than any surrounding city, and that is for a reason.
    [/i]

    Don, I know you have made this point over and over, in relation to peripheral development. But the comparison should not be against Vacaville and Fairfield. The comparison should be against an economically similar city – a small city, whose economy is supported by a large, non-permanent base of consumers (ie students) and citizens that have well above average stability of income (because of UC Davis – the economy in Davis is much better than those cities).

  62. Don Shor

    [i]You seem to see things in only black and white. I suggest you consider that this is limiting your ability to maintain credibility debating this subject[/i]
    What I am describing — the evisceration of existing shopping areas, downtown and neighborhood — by peripheral development has been studied and documented so thoroughly that I don’t really feel the need to prove it to you. Peripheral retail is one of the worst planning mistakes a city can make. What I don’t understand is why there are still people in this town who think it is a reasonable option. I understand why land developers prefer it. But it is inimical to healthy urban planning.

    [i]Interesting Don. You do know that ALL development in this area has been on farm and ranch land, don’t you?[/i]
    Of course. And as time has gone by people have recognized the loss of farmland. Also, peripheral development is the defining characteristic of urban sprawl, whether it is on farmland or just open space.

    You would be proposing annexation of county land. The pass-through is basically dead. So the county would have no reason to give up the property tax so that Davis could gain sales tax.
    You would be violating the core principles of the General Plan.
    You would require a vote of the public.
    DOA.

  63. Frankly

    [i]”What I don’t understand is why there are still people in this town who think it is a reasonable option.”[/i]

    What you and a few others seem to ignore is the need for tax revenue to run the city. It would be wonderful if all we had was parks and open spaces and our small village downtown and tree-lined streets filled with cute affordable houses filled with all well-off families able and willing to tax themselves extra to pay for it all. We want it all, but we also don’t want to pay for it. Hell, we won’t even pay for a system to deliver quality water. Mr. Harrington exemplifies this “cake and eat it too” attitude… blocking everything that impacts his lifestyle without any apparent solution for dealing with our long-term fiscal problems.

    A city requires commercial activity/transactions to generate net tax revenue. You seem to think all these other cities are the dumb ones allowing their downtown to decline. My view is that we are the dummys with our head in the sand refusing to accept our financial reality. The auto mall concept is dead. Where are we going to get the tax revenue we need to continue to pay for our parks, our schools, or police and fire protection?

    We want to maintain the “human scale” of the downtown (code for we don’t want to change it much). We want to reject peripheral development. We reject rate increases for needed infrastructure. We won’t lay off public employees or reduce their pension benefits. We will likely reject supplemental parcel taxes in the future.

    What do you suggest Don? How do we close the fiscal gap? Other cities have expanded their economic development mission to close their gap. I think we cannot afford to be so unique.

  64. David M. Greenwald

    “What you and a few others seem to ignore is the need for tax revenue to run the city.”

    It sounds good to say that, but the reality is that each additional big box is going to produce declining margin tax revenue. You are not going to get a lot of shopping from out of town because the same stores are everywhere, we were told Target would produce $600K net, has it been anywhere near that? When you are staring at $7 million in cuts, I don’t think a few hundred thousand IF YOU CAN EVEN GET THAT is going to make much difference.

  65. Frankly

    [i]”each additional big box is going to produce declining margin tax revenue.”[/i]

    How so? Even if Target is net $250k per year it is $250k per year that we otherwise do not have.

    Using your train of logic, we should just outlaw ALL retail since it is such a drain on tax revenue.

    Of course that argument is ridiculous… although it sounds good to say it.

    Looking at this another way, by not having allowed Target to be built, we would in fact be taxing every resident a portion of this missing $250k to “protect” the charm of our downtown. Don’t you find it interesting that Target has not impacted the charm of our downtown? So what is the real cost of so much economic development risk aversion? I guess you could make the case that it was worth $250k per year to protect Alphabet Moon from closing… never mind that it is likely that Amazon.com and Woodland Target was more responsible for it closing than was Davis Target. But then this detracts from the main point… we cannot afford this level of merchant charity. Do you really think we can afford $1 million over four years for dubious protection of the likes of Alphabet Moon?

    Like Don and Mike, you are only coming up with negatives.

    What positive ideas do you have for closing the fiscal gap?

  66. Don Shor

    [i]What you and a few others seem to ignore is the need for tax revenue to run the city.[/i]
    So you want to build shopping in the county? Or I assume that you want to annex the land for this idea.

    What is this “missing $250K” you are talking about? That is a complete fiction. Sales tax revenues to the city are down. We have no idea what the impact of Target was. We do know that downtown stores have closed. Remember all the ones that closed right after Christmas 2009, as well as Alphabet Moon? And we have this:
    [img]http://davismerchants.org/vanguard/citysalestaxwtarget.jpg[/img]
    Target was not provably beneficial [i]in any way[/i].
    As I’ve said before, what I would suggest is working to get the existing retail sites filled. Fill the vacancies in our existing shopping centers. Press Target to honor their development agreement and get retail going there. Make proposals that are within the city limits and comply with the planning guidelines that every other business (except Target) have worked with.
    Good planning is not “merchant charity.” I am curious: are you able to sustain an argument without being insulting? Give it a try.

  67. Don Shor

    Just as a reminder, here is what that statewide sales tax was doing in the same time period:
    [img]http://davismerchants.org/vanguard/statesalestaxchart.jpg[/img]
    The same curve. So what exactly did Target do for us?

  68. Frankly

    Don, again, no solutions. Only criticism.

    Like David, you seem to be making a case that retail development does not bring in tax revenue. Well then, let’s just eliminate ALL retail then and we can all drive to Woodland. We can make the downtown into a big park with lots of trees and sunlight.

    [i]”Good planning is not “merchant charity.” I am curious: are you able to sustain an argument without being insulting?”[/i]

    I’m sorry you find that insulting. I frankly can’t think of another label for what you seem to be advocating. The downtown has not suffered as a result of Target. You cannot prove it has. I can prove it has not by walking around downtown after and thinking back to what it was like before. From this, I can make the case that Target has actually improved the downtown since there are several new restaurants that have opened. You also cannot prove that Target has not improved net tax revenue. The evidence is conveniently convoluted in the recession. One idea is to take the statewide drop in retail sales, and compare it to Davis. I will give that a shot when I get the time.

  69. Frankly

    [i]”Fill the vacancies in our existing shopping centers.”[/i]

    Sorry Don, I glossed over this the first time. Since Westlake Market is going down I don’t see how this is going help. Neighborhood markets achoring these micro shopping centers has proven to not work.

  70. medwoman

    Mr.Toad,

    “As for Target and Nugget in both cases the opposition before their opening was much greater than the acceptance by the community after. This is something that we should consider carefully when we see opposition to new growth”

    Your evidence for this assertion is ?

  71. Frankly

    Don, giving some more thought to your idea about filling the vacancies in our existing shopping centers, thanks for this positive idea.

    I have some questions:

    1. What vacancies?

    2. Why aren’t they filled?

    3. Is this all you would do to bridge our tax revenue gap?

  72. Don Shor

    [i]Sorry Don, I glossed over this the first time. Since Westlake Market is going down I don’t see how this is going help.[/i]

    I have no idea if it is or not. The South Davis shopping center has lots of vacancies. At this point, Common Grounds and Dos Coyotes are the only tenants in one corner. Target has four pads to move on. I feel as though I am repeating myself.

    [i] You also cannot prove that Target has not improved net tax revenue.[/i]

    I just did.

    [img]http://davismerchants.org/vanguard/citysalestaxwtarget.jpg[/img]

    Want the state curve, to compare?

    [img]http://davismerchants.org/vanguard/statesalestaxchart.jpg[/img]

    [i]”Or I assume that you want to annex the land for this idea.”
    

That is how it is done.[/i]

    Why would the county allow that? They would lose revenue. And do you really think this could win a Measure J vote?

  73. Don Shor

    [i]3. Is this all you would do to bridge our tax revenue gap?[/i]

    I don’t know of anything else that would work. I don’t think your proposals would work. Davis has a lot of very small stores and few very big ones. Woodland and Vacaville have more very big stores and far fewer small ones. You get a lot more sales tax per square foot from small stores than you do from big ones. We would have a lot more sales tax revenue if the shopping centers were fully leased. But I don’t know how you get shopping center owners to behave rationally.
    Ultimately the revenue gap has to be bridged by a combination of spending cuts and taxes. That means revised contracts, renewal of the local taxes, and passage of the state sales tax to reduce the demands on local revenues from state government. I don’t see sales tax as a panacea here. I don’t think your proposal would significantly increase sales tax revenues. Target has NOT increased sales tax revenues.

  74. Mark West

    Don: [i]”We do know that downtown stores have closed. Remember all the ones that closed right after Christmas 2009, as well as Alphabet Moon?[/i]”

    The recession noticeably hit our business in April of 2009. Target opened in the middle of October of that year. How can you reasonably argue that two months of Target being open was the cause of those businesses closing after Christmas rather than the impact of the ‘great recession?’

    As for Alphabet Moon, it could well be argued that the lack of convenient parking downtown was as big a contributing factor to its demise as was the Target.

  75. Mark West

    [i]”Target has NOT increased sales tax revenues.”[/i]

    Don: Your graph does not support that conclusion. All it shows is that sales tax revenues have declined or been stagnant since well before the start of the recession. As far as you know the tax revenues could have dropped even further without Target. The only thing you have to back up your statement is your bias against large stores (unless, apparently, we are discussion Davis Ace).

    How about you and David stop fighting to keep Target and Borders out of town and let us all have a reasonable discussion about solutions to our problems today.

  76. DT Businessman

    There is much I disagree with Jeff on, but he makes one point that is telling in my view. We are indeed upside down. Doing nothing is not an option. The voices of “NO” are part of the problem, not the solution. If you are not prepared to execute a constructive strategy, please step aside. Mr. Toad has asked Sue Greenwald repeatedly for her strategy, I have yet to read a compelling response. Her suggestion to do nothing until the PGE and development magically comes to fruition is an abdiction of leadership. Who in their right mind wagers the welfare of their community on an outcome that they have little or no ability to influence?

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

  77. Don Shor

    [i]As for Alphabet Moon, it could well be argued that the lack of convenient parking downtown was as big a contributing factor to its demise as was the Target.[/i]
    The “lack of parking” for Alphabet Moon didn’t cause her 25% loss of business.

  78. Don Shor

    Jeff said, “You also cannot prove that Target has not improved net tax revenue.”
    The chart I posted clearly shows that Target has not improved net tax revenue.
    I said “Target has NOT increased sales tax revenues.”
    The chart shows that Target has not increased sales tax revenues.
    Mark replies: “Your graph does not support that conclusion.”

    I’m arguing about big box this time, Mark, because Jeff specifically is proposing a big box store in a specific peripheral location that is not in the city limits.

  79. Adam Smith

    Don –

    We need to know how many dollars in sales taxes that Target is generating to answer the question of whether Targetl is meeting the expected sales taxes. Where can we find a definitive answer regarding sales taxes from Target?

    I know this – there is is a lot of shopping that my family used to do at Target in Woodland that is now done at Target in Davis. The store appears to be doing well.

    Don has made the point that peripheral retail is detrimental to downtown retail. Why is that? It’s because the combination of selection, price and parking is more attractive than what is available downtown. The periphery doesn’t have to be where development happens, but if that is the only place that a city makes available, then that is where it will happen. And, if the city doesn’t allow the types of retail that consumers want to visit, then many consumers will choose to shop elsewhere.

    I’ll say this again and again and again – comparing the Davis retail situation to Vacaville or Fairfield is an inappropriate comparison. The student population provides an additional 35,000 consumers, many of whom are relatively immobile for shopping purposes. The university employment base provides a much more stable income stream than the employment base of Vacaville or Fairfield.

    Our downtown should be thriving, but instead it borders on morose. We need anchor retail to draw folks to the city center, pedestrian mall areas with lots of outdoor seating for restaurants, vertical development with ground floor retail with living spaces above (think Roe bullding) and adequate, easy to access parking.

  80. Don Shor

    Mark, you are misinterpreting what I said.
    “The” cause? No. “A” cause? Probably.

    I said: [i]”We have no idea what the impact of Target was. We do know that downtown stores have closed. Remember all the ones that closed right after Christmas 2009, as well as Alphabet Moon?”[/i]

    You said: “[i]How can you reasonably argue that two months of Target being open was the cause of those businesses closing after Christmas rather than the impact of the ‘great recession?'”[/i]

    There is never a single factor when a business closes. Target is one factor in the decision-making process of the owner, who can certainly see the trajectory and knows what is likely to occur. We have loads of data about what happens to smaller stores when the bigger stores open. Owners just have to decide how long they can hang on with lower income and reduced staff.

  81. Don Shor

    Adam: [i]”We need anchor retail to draw folks to the city center, pedestrian mall areas with lots of outdoor seating for restaurants, vertical development with ground floor retail with living spaces above (think Roe bullding) and adequate, easy to access parking.”[/i]

    I agree with all of that.

  82. Mark West

    Don: I have answered your question more times than you have asked it, you just don’t want to hear my answer.

    [i]”The “lack of parking” for Alphabet Moon didn’t cause her 25% loss of business.”[/i]

    And neither did Target. Do you remember the recession Don? Started before Target came to town and as I recall we are still struggling to get out of it.

    But to address your point in another way.

    Think for a moment who shops at stores like Target. Obviously people looking for good prices, but also those who are looking for the convenience of making multiple purchases at one location rather than having to shepherd two or three kids from one store to another trying to buy household necessities and a birthday present before taking Johnny to his friend’s party. If you were the one in a hurry, dealing with two or three small children, would you choose to shop downtown where you will spend several minutes looking for a parking spot, walk a few, maybe several, blocks moving from store to store and still not find what you need (other than the present) or would you drive to Target and get it all and have a shopping cart to help carry the packages and the kids. Parking (or lack there of) and convenience are often bigger issues than the price differential.

    The core could well function in place of a store like Target if there was a mix of small and medium sized stores that combined offered all the necessities of life (at least it could if there was also sufficient parking). There isn’t that mix in Davis and in my memory, there never has been, and as long as we block significant redevelopment, there never will be.

    As I have said before, I preferentially shop in town. That said, early afternoon on a weekday leaving from the winery I will spend less total time (travel, parking, shopping) if I drive to the Home Depot in West Sacramento then I will if I go to Davis Ace, and I am more likely to find what I need. Until that situation changes, the downtown will continue to deteriorate as a retail center. Don’t worry though, we will have plenty of bars to drown our sorrows in and offices full of lawyers willing to threaten to sue anyone who tries to do something constructive (i.e. change anything).

  83. Don Shor

    I know why people shop at Target and Home Depot. I also know the harm they do. That isn’t the point.

    No, Mark, you have not answered my question. I am asking you [b]specifically what you are proposing.[/b] Another big retail store on the edge of town? A retail complex of some sort? Where? You make a lot of arguments in favor of big box, and denigrate my arguments against it. So, let’s cut to the chase. Jeff has suggested a large retail development north of Davis on Hwy 113.
    What are you proposing?
    Where?

  84. DT Businessman

    “The core could well function in place of a store like Target if there was a mix of small and medium sized stores that combined offered all the necessities of life (at least it could if there was also sufficient parking). There isn’t that mix in Davis and in my memory, there never has been, and as long as we block significant redevelopment, there never will be.”

    If Vanguardians don’t recoginize the validity of Mark’s statement, the cause of identifying and addressing challenges to fostering a sustainable community is hopeless.

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

  85. Mr.Toad

    A big box next to Target is fine or outside the city limits is OK too. It not like the county couldn’t use the revenue either.

    I bought a kite at Alphabet Moon cost twice as much as one a friend got of similar quality at Costco in Woodland. Don’t blame Target for the demise of A. Moon blame reality. But anyway where is the competition that a big box electronics firm is going to hurt? Its in Woodland, Vacaville or Natomas not in Davis. i challenge you to tell me who in town would be hurt?

    Med, How do I know because the parking lots are full and i don’t hear people saying they don’t shop at Target or Nugget in protest.

    I just wanted to add that Korean tool outfit on second street. Huge economic gain for the local economy. Were you in on bringing that project here Sue?

  86. Mark West

    Don: [i]”You make a lot of arguments in favor of big box…”[/i]

    No, I do not argue in favor of big box, I’m just not opposed to it. I argue in favor a mixture of retail options in town, small, medium and large stores spread in various places around town such that the majority of shopping needs are available conveniently. I want to see an end to the ‘protectionist’ mode of managing retail in town, thinking on a whole town basis, not just downtown. I think the neighborhood centers should be expanded and freed from the requirement of a grocery store anchor. I think some of our non-retail commercial buildings should be rezoned to allow retail, thereby increasing the number of small centers around town. I think the City should hold a design competition to ‘re-imagine’ the downtown core, much like Sacramento did for the Capital Mall (on a much smaller scale obviously), then we should use all means to push through the redevelopment necessary to implement the winning design. Most importantly, I think the City Council and staff need to stop their micromanaging of business development in town. Set the standards with zoning, and then get out of the way so that the market can grow within those boundaries. Efforts to determine the winners and losers as is now all too common, hurt everyone. Finally Don, I don’t favor expanding the town. All that I propose can be accomplished within the current City limits, but we first have to ditch the moribund system and approach that we are currently wedded to.

    [i]”…and denigrate my arguments against it.”[/i]

    I do not denigrate your arguments, or for that matter, you. What I denigrate is your insistence of turning everybody who disagrees with your rosy view of Davis as being in favor of sprawl and big box. I denigrate your absolute refusal to discuss the topic without throwing your anti-big box propaganda in the face of anyone who dares to talk about change. This is not a black and white issue Don and until you allow yourself to see in color again, you denigrate your own opinions, and I am afraid, yourself.

  87. Frankly

    Adam: [i]”We need anchor retail to draw folks to the city center, pedestrian mall areas with lots of outdoor seating for restaurants, vertical development with ground floor retail with living spaces above (think Roe building) and adequate, easy to access parking.”[/i]

    Don: [i]”I agree with all of that.”[/i]

    I agree with all that too.

    However, I don’t think there is not enough retail sq. ft. in the downtown core area to satisfy anywhere near all the shopping needs of residents and prevent so much sales tax leakage. Also remember that there is strong opposition to growing the scale of the downtown; and there is strong opposition to redevelopment that disrupts existing business. There are a LOT of problems with this view that we can put so many of our retail shopping eggs in the downtown core area basket.

    I think much of the opposition to peripheral development (e.g., Target) has been the NIMBY syndrome. Yes, there are those that wring their hands over concern about impacts to the downtown, but there are many more people living outside the core area that lament core area shopping travel time, parking difficulties, lack of selection and relatively high prices. The reason I like the 113 area is that it would not impact too many residents. It is a fairly neutral area with great access potential. The increased traffic would be mostly 113 – which has plenty of capacity – and not surface streets. We would get shoppers from Woodland and Winters and Dixon and Sacramento.

    I’m frankly surprised this has not been talked about more.

  88. Don Shor

    Mark, I was responding to a specific proposal (again) from Jeff for a big box peripheral retail project. In fact, most of what you see as my fixation on big box is due to people making proposals for big box. I urge that any discussion of retail, commercial, and residential development just stay entirely away from the pointless proposals that involve annexing land and building things that are bigger than existing stores.

    Regarding your specifics:

    [i]I think the neighborhood centers should be expanded and freed from the requirement of a grocery store anchor.

    I think some of our non-retail commercial buildings should be rezoned to allow retail, thereby increasing the number of small centers around town.

    I think the City should hold a design competition to ‘re-imagine’ the downtown core, much like Sacramento did for the Capital Mall (on a much smaller scale obviously), then we should use all means to push through the redevelopment necessary to implement the winning design.

    Most importantly, I think the City Council and staff need to stop their micromanaging of business development in town. Set the standards with zoning, and then get out of the way so that the market can grow within those boundaries.

    Finally Don, I don’t favor expanding the town.[/i]

    [b]I agree with every single one of those.
    [/b]

  89. Frankly

    [i]”The core could well function in place of a store like Target if there was a mix of small and medium sized stores that combined offered all the necessities of life (at least it could if there was also sufficient parking). There isn’t that mix in Davis and in my memory, there never has been, and as long as we block significant redevelopment, there never will be”[/i]

    Michael, hopefully we get a chance to chat about this tomorrow, but I am still not getting the vision for this given the limits of retail sq. ft. combined with the opposition to building taller buildings. Are you thinking the core area retail expands into existing residential areas?

    I vacationed on Oahu this year. The town of Kailua has a small Macys in centered in their core area. I thought that would be perfect taking over the retail space on the east side of E Street between 2nd and 3rd. How does anything like that happen in our downtown?

  90. Don Shor

    Davis Ace is the downtown anchor retail. Redevelopment that has been discussed on the G Street side between 3rd and 4th (I think; I’m not looking at a map). Yes, retail could expand into some of the residential, as there is already the right zoning in some cases.
    Some kind of parking structure with ground level retail would obviously be part of the mix. Somewhere.
    A retail strategy isn’t just downtown, in spite of all the focus of these discussions. Aside from the neighborhood centers, which really need to be the focus of considerable effort — some kind of pressure on the owners, or something — we have pockets of retail that aren’t in specific neighborhood centers. There is retail down the street from us on 5th, and there is room for more. Olive Drive provides lower-cost space for service businesses, and really needs some circulation improvements. There is still some land on 2nd. More flexible zoning might be needed. If the BEDC wants to do something tangible, a review of zoning and recommendations for re-zoning could be a project for them.
    And then there is always South Davis.

  91. Mr.Toad

    Davis Ace is overpriced. The owners are nice people and have tremendous goodwill but competition from a second hardware store or big box should be welcomed by the community.

  92. DT Businessman

    “…but I am still not getting the vision for this given the limits of retail sq. ft. combined with the opposition to building taller buildings.”

    Jeff, yet you think developing along the 113 corridor is politically more feasible? Go ahead, rally your 7 or 8 troops (if that) and have at it. Mark’s points at 10:25pm last night are incredibly astute.

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

  93. Frankly

    [i]”Jeff, yet you think developing along the 113 corridor is politically more feasible?”[/i]

    I don’t know. I suspect that it may be no more or less feasible than significant downtown redevelopment. I don’t really have a dog in this fight. I don’t care what the vision is as long as we develop and execute a plan that maximizes our opportunities to:

    1. Bring in tax revenue
    2. Improve shopper convenience

    It seems reasonable to look at the 113 corridor for some peripheral retail. It also seems reasonable to redevelop the downtown. However, I admit that what seems reasonable to most of the rest of the world probably won’t happen in this town. We excel at being quirky and amateurish at economic development.

  94. E Roberts Musser

    To Jeff: I’m a bit puzzled why you are so gung ho about peripheral retail, when we have entire shopping centers with huge vacancies. Don’t the suggestions below made by Mark West and seconded by DT Businessman sound more reasonable/doable/productive?

    [quote]I think the neighborhood centers should be expanded and freed from the requirement of a grocery store anchor.

    I think some of our non-retail commercial buildings should be rezoned to allow retail, thereby increasing the number of small centers around town.

    I think the City should hold a design competition to ‘re-imagine’ the downtown core, much like Sacramento did for the Capital Mall (on a much smaller scale obviously), then we should use all means to push through the redevelopment necessary to implement the winning design.

    Most importantly, I think the City Council and staff need to stop their micromanaging of business development in town. Set the standards with zoning, and then get out of the way so that the market can grow within those boundaries. [/quote]

  95. Frankly

    Elaine,

    I’m not so gung ho about peripheral development as I am honest about shopping habits and convinced (at this point) that the benefits outweigh that the liabilities for the entire community… all things considered.

    However, I am not rejecting this view from Mark. In fact, I have on numerous posts advocated for the same type of downtown revitalization.

    Where I am more skeptical is the small neighborhood shopping center idea… regardless if it is anchored by a grocery store or not. I live in Stonegate and have the Westlake shopping center as an example for how this small neighborhood retail mall concept is problematic.

    My perspective here is that average resident shopping expectations do not match their vision of city retail. They are, in fact, being somewhat dishonest. We like our product choice, we like our brands, we like our great prices. It takes a lot of retail floor space to carry everything and leverage economies of scale to provide discounts. If we don’t allow it in town, then we drive to Woodland to get it. I do it, and I see a lot of my neighbors doing the same. There is a minority that sticks to their guns… consuming less, accepting more limited choices, and paying more for their products. However, I think the majority like big box and have come to expect big box. They still shop at big box… just not in Davis. So, Davis is experiencing sales tax leakage.

    My thinking that we should have some more peripheral big box retail is also driven by the sense that there are a lot of people that don’t want the downtown to grow. We don’t want the downtown to grow, small neighborhood shopping centers are problematic with high vacancies, and we don’t accept peripheral retail. However, we also want our schools and parks funded. Something has to give, don’t you think?

    Again though, I am not militant in my idea for allowing some more big box peripheral development. I have an open mind. A robust downtown revitalization plan would go a long way in convincing me away from the peripheral development idea.

  96. JustSaying

    A possible solution from today’s [u]SJ Mercury News[/u]: Walnut Creek’s downtown is bouncing back. New retailers (Anthropologie, Neiman Marcus, Tuesday Morning, The Village project, and others) have joined Tommy Bahama, Tiffany, Coach, Cole Haan, Forever 21, Urban Outitters and Sephora. [quote]“Walnut Creek has a good, solid demographic, but not necessarily a top-level demographic.”[/quote]Sounds a lot like Davis. We could even improve our ability to draw even more of “a critical mass at an outstanding location” by announcing a discontinuance of our failed affordable housing program.

    Let’s forget about trying to get more automobile dealers and filling up the cannery with businesses that none of us ever will enter, and go with upscale retailers in our downtown. Solves many of our problems, and people won’t bypass Davis to go shopping in Woodland.

  97. Frankly

    [i]”Upscale retailers in our downtown.”[/i]

    I am with you 100%. That is exactly what I would like to see. In addition, I would like to see more upper-scale restaurants and other entertainment options.

    How do we do that?

    Where do we put them?

    Does Davis Ace Hardware fit in?

  98. JustSaying

    You mean the Davis Downtown Dead Zone? No, Davis Ace Hardware doesn’t fit in Nor does the [u]Enterprise[/u]. Both businesses would make bundles selling their downtown properties, and moving to, say, second street.

    A few more dumpy downtown buildings could go as well. We don’t need to keep all of them. Remember the big fight over the Aggie Hotel? Seems as though we survived that improvement–time to bulldoze the rest of the block.

  99. medwoman

    “Our downtown should be thriving, but instead it borders on morose. We need anchor retail to draw folks to the city center, pedestrian mall areas with lots of outdoor seating for restaurants, vertical development with ground floor retail with living spaces above (think Roe bullding) and adequate, easy to access parking.”

    “our downtown is not in danger of dying”

    “I don’t see people not shopping there (Target) in protest.

    I had to smile when I read this series of comments form posters who seem to favor rapid economic growth.
    First, compared to the local communities, Davis has a thriving and vital downtown. Because of where I work and live, I am downtown every evening and the streets are full of people shopping and eating out. Hardly what I would call “morose”. Could it be better as in the Walnut Creek example, certainly. I would very much melcome an Urban Outfitters although some of the others mentioned might be a little pricey for our student population and we already have forever 21. If the downtown is not “in danger” then what is the rush to change during a recession ?
    As for the Target, an especially big smile since I personally will never shop there. Yes, in protest of building yet another Target when there were already nine of them within a 30 minute radius of some part of Davis and of the hypocrisy of their “green” promises while discarding shelving because it was cheaper to dump it than to return the over ordered stock. Same for some recycling. I know because I know the employees ordered to do the dumping. Big boxes are not good environmental stewards regardless of promises they make and I believe that this is part of the Davis commitment. There are some of us who simply do not believe that economic growth is not the sole determinant of the value of a community and that lifestyle should be an equal determinant of community development.

  100. biddlin

    Don and Sue- A couple of years ago I looked for affordable retail space in downtown Davis to open a consignment nick-knack and guitar shop . I was disappointed to find it expensive to lease usually with electrical issues ranging from insufficiency to “who the heck wired this ?”

  101. biddlin

    That said, if you want to preserve the “character ” of downtown, you need to attract funky, niche retail . The downtown that I remember from the late 60s and early 70s was vibrant and attractive, if a bit too noisy for some maturing and recent residents ! Unfortunately, you need to renovate every so often .

  102. medwoman

    Mr Toad

    I have been doing some thinking about your past comments about what you seem to see as a generational split in interests with the older residents pitted against students and young families.I do not share this assessment. I will illustrate with my own story, which I do not believe is so unique.
    I first arrived in Davis as a medical student at age 26 in 1979 . I shared apartments for four years in the old north Davis vicinity and managed nicely with only a bike. One of the things that I liked the best was the small town atmosphere at that time. Yes, it took some planning in terms of shopping trips and the like, but was very doable. My career development then took me away from Davis for the next 9-10 years during which time I got married and started my family. At age 40 I returned to Davis with my husband, my two year old and pregnant with my second child. The reason for our return ? We felt that the now, small city environment was the best choice in which to raise our children. We had multiple other opportunities in various locations throughout California and chose Davis specifically for its unique blend of smallness, proximity to the university and to multiple other natural and cultural ammenities. I am now approaching 60 . I have chosen to stay in Davis for the same reason that I chose to return. I love the small city ambience. I love knowing who owns what shop and their history and that of their family. I love feeling safe walking downtown at any hour of the day or night as I have for the past 20 years. I love our environmental awareness and yes, sometimes our environmental quirkiness. What I want to emphasize is that the things that I value the most about Davis now approaching 60 are the same things I valued at age 26, at age 30, and at age 40. This is not all about a generational split. Some of this remains simply a difference of vision for the future of Davis. I believe that there is a large portion of our community, regardless of age, that does not see growth for the sake of economic growth as the only value worth pursuing for Davis, and that preservation of our small city character is of equal importance with economic development.

  103. JustSaying

    “I believe that there is a large portion of our community, regardless of age, that does not see growth for the sake of economic growth as the only value worth pursuing for Davis, and that preservation of our small city character is of equal importance with economic development.”

    Except for your poison pill (“growth for the sake of economic growth”), I tend to agree that “preservation of our small city character” is a desire that crosses age lines. What’s not to like about our delightful little town? Except for the local anarchists, everybody loves the place.

    We can find any kind of fast or otherwise cheap restaurants, although we have to drive to find quality dining. We’ve got arts that people would die to have in their town, although we have to drive to see our great Palms Playhouse. We can find most any little nut and bolt at our two downtown hardware stores, although we have to drive to get appliances and building supplies at a competitive price. We can buy most any moderate automobile at our ugly Mace entrance to Davis, but we have to drive someplace else after going online to find a better price. And it goes on….

    So, as long as I can drive to Sacramento or Woodland or Vacaville, I’ll be lovin’ livin’ in Delightful Davis.

    But, is there a price to pay for keeping Davis Davis, for keeping economic growth and development to a minimum? Does this strategy heve the old unintended consequences problem–or, maybe, God forbid, intended consequences–of excluding diversity?

    And do we care that our own children, new UCD graduates and young families of people who work in Davis can’t afford to live in the town we love best because our “affordable housing” program is a joke and we fight every proposed housing development?

    As our young folk move out and seek homes elsewhere, it does more than require us to drive somewhere else to visit our grandchildren. We end up with schools that have to recruit students from outside to keep our schools open, albeit with larger classes that result in a worse education, by stealing other districts’ state funding.

    Can we afford to maintain and improve city services that help make Davis the town that’s worth keeping the way it was and is? If not economic development, what will save what we want to have here? The status quo will not finance continuation of our vision of our “small city character” much longer.

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