The Growth Issue in the Council Race

Council-Race-2012

A few years ago, growth was the key battle line that divided candidates – for the most part it was the battle between slow growth, slower growth, and stopped growth.  With the collapse of the real estate market, along with the impact that Measure J and now Measure R have on Davis politics, growth has taken on a secondary role.

Right now is the debate over ConAgra and a number of infill sites.  The Davis Enterprise recently asked the candidates about their views on growth.

Looking at the question narrowly, we still see some interesting differences on the candidate’s stances on growth.

Lucas Frerichs responded, “Some growth will happen; the key is how it happens. Measure J/R means that peripheral projects must reach a very high standard to receive approval from citizens. I much prefer infill/densification to address the city’s future housing needs.”

Sue Greenwald responded, “I would like to see significant townhouse and condominium development on underused parcels within walking distance of downtown, such as the 27-acre PG&E site at L Street between Second and Fifth and the 40-acre Nishi site that lies west of Café Italia and north of I-80, along with some apartments and student housing on the Nishi and housing on a portion of the Hunt-Wesson.”

“I am opposed to peripheral development. Studies have shown that peripheral residential development does not cover its costs to the city,” Brett Lee responded.  “A compact city footprint benefits us all – we have less traffic, we’re more bike- and pedestrian-friendly and we have a greater sense of community.”

Stephen Souza responded, “Housing and growth will always be a challenge for Davis. We need a paradigm change and new ideas in how we go about meeting our housing needs. The housing we build must meet the needs of our community, be affordable, and be environmentally sustainable.”

“In analyzing recent population trends in our community, two things jump out. First, the cohort aged 25 to 44 – young families – is shrinking in our community. Second, the cohort aged 55 and over is growing significantly. This is very concerning, particularly with respect to young families. The future vitality of our community is dependent on that demographic, so their decline is particularly worrisome,” Dan Wolk responded.

He added, “Housing will play a crucial role in addressing these trends. Whether through infill, the Cannery Park project, or other smart growth measures, we need to focus on providing more affordable, adequate housing for young families.”

With ConAgra being the big development currently on the front burner, we look over the past few weeks to see the candidates’ views on the site.

Brett Lee has come out against the current proposal.  “I am opposed to the current proposal for the ConAgra site. I believe that the current proposal represents a wasted opportunity.  As one of the last large parcels of undeveloped land within the city’s borders, it is important to make the best use of that land.”

“The current proposal is for the land to be used for 80% residential and 20% commercial,” he said.  “I believe a use that would fit our community needs more appropriately would be 50% business park/commercial, 25% senior housing, and 25% small sized (sub 1,000 sq ft.) work/live loft style for sale units.”

“We would benefit from having more senior housing options. An infill project located near downtown would be appealing, as would a senior-friendly project at ConAgra” Brett Lee said in the recent Enterprise article.

Stephen Souza has said that ConAgra should be around 3 to 1 residential to business. In response to a Vanguard question he said, “The business community has always stated that there is limited demand for commercial space on the Cannery site. The Cannery site does however provide an opportunity to accomplish the City’s goals of adding essential senior, workforce, student, and young family housing.”

Sue Greenwald has long been an advocate of a business park on the ConAgra site and back at the Chamber Debate she stated that, on the ConAgra site, she personally took the lead “to re-zone that to neighborhood compatible high-tech businesses and I was very disappointed when the council majority started to re-zone it…a bird in hand is worth two in the bush. Nishi is a wonderful site but the infrastructure costs are far less…”

Lucas Frerichs said, “If the Con-Agra site is developed, then it should be a mixed use project, and the applicant is entering the draft EIR phase of the project.”  He added, “A mixed-use project at the Cannery site does not preclude the development of some of the space to be used for high-tech startups.”

He argued against a project that is all business park, arguing it “is the wrong way to go, particularly since the site is so far away from both the Hwy 113/Covell interchange or the I-80/Mace interchange. Imagine the truck traffic along Covell Blvd, if it is entirely a business park. There should be a mix of housing/commercial uses, and there are numerous things that need improvement there before any development is acceptable.”

Dan Wolk has been in favor of housing at the ConAgra site.  In February he voted in favor of the EIR for the current proposal believing that this project will provide housing for young families and seniors.

In the recent Enterprise article he said, “Whether through infill, the Cannery Park project, or other smart growth measures, we need to focus on providing more affordable, adequate housing for young families.”

He has argued, “Using it primarily as a business park, despite its zoning, is not a truly viable option.”

The final part of that is, if not a business park at ConAgra – where?

Dan Wolk responded to a Vanguard question, “Besides the envisioned business park components of Nishi and the Cannery, it’s not clear to me that additional business park development on the periphery is needed at this time.”

Stephen Souza responded, “I absolutely believe we need a business park to accomplish our economic development goals. I would like to see such a business park/Innovation Hub/mixed use development at the Nishi site. Indeed, I have already voted in favor of such a development, along with a council majority.”

Sue Greenwald responded, “No developer is going to agree to develop a high tech business park if they feel that they can get to council to give them more lucrative residential zoning. This has been the problem with the Hunt-Wesson. Council has always signaled that they will buckle.”

But she did offer one alternative, “The Nishi is also an excellent option if the western access can pencil out, but it needs to be annexed. The Hunt-Wesson has all of the infrastructure in place, Nishi doesn’t, so Nishi is less likely to pencil out for a developer.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

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

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79 Comments

  1. SODA

    I would be interested in the candidate’s opinion of the New Harmony site being built in South Davis. It looks massive, ? By far one of the largest complexes to date.

  2. Brett

    In anticipation of the comments that are sure to follow this article, I would like to point out a couple of things.

    1.If you would like to build residential, buy property zoned as residential.
    2.If you want to build a clothing shop buy property zoned for retail.
    3.If you would like to be a farmer, buy land zoned for ag use.

    Now, if you happen to own land that is not zoned for the purpose you wish to use it for, the rules are that you may ask the city to rezone your land.

    I think it is clear that you as the applicant will benefit from the rezoning (why else would you be asking?), what the Council / planning staff should try to ascertain is the rezoning request in the best interest of the community as a whole.

    Isn’t that as it should be?

    Let’s be direct here, there are people who purchase ag land on the periphery of the town for the sole purpose of future development. They have no interest in using the land as it is currently zoned. They are hoping to have the land rezoned so that they can use it for something else. There is nothing wrong with people speculating on land, just as there is nothing wrong with people speculating in the stock market.

    However, it should not be assumed that just because someone wants to have their land rezoned for a different purpose, we should just go ahead and do it. It is our responsibility to make sure that it is in the best interest of our community whenever we make zoning changes.

    My default assumption is that we should follow the zoning regulations.

    On a side note: The whole business park suitability debate of ConAgra vs Nishi I think is a bit misplaced. ConAgra is 10 minutes from the freeway- that is no more of a deal breaker than the fact that Nishi will have to undergo a Measure J/R vote. Building and filling a business park will be challenging regardless of the site chosen. We will have to work hard to attract businesses to our community and importantly we will have to work hard to keep existing businesses in our community. The office vacancies on 2nd St for all those years clearly point out that it is too simplistic to think “if you build it, they will come.”

  3. JustSaying

    The problem with a business park at Hunt-Wesson is that nobody wants one there. No business wants to develop such a thing at that location and no business wants to be there. All we have is Sue’s wishful thinking that has produced nothing in all these years other than a restrictive zoning that keeps any development from happening there.

    What has the city done to draw the desired types of businesses and to initiate a “business park”? Did we actively work with UCD when it announced a desire to undertake such a project, including development of the Nishi property? Did we do anything to encourage a park-like use instead of random, hopscotch development of the massive amount of property along Second Street?

    As Brett points out, we’d have to work hard to attract and to keep park-type businesses. But, we haven’t, even when redevelopment money was easy. Instead, we set up a redevelopment area and strategy aimed at enhancing our downtown, drawing car dealers and providing windfall profits for those lucky or connected enough to get ahold of an “affordable” house.

    Now, we we’re out of any money that could be used for incentives to draw business park businesses or to help subsidize development of a park itself. And, we’re so broke that we’re insisting that future developments cover all infrastructure costs.

    How about Davis residents? Can we even claim that Davis folks support such a business park development (even one that’s “neighborhood friendly”). Certainly not, when we have to reserve Hunt-Wesson for the purpose because we’re so worried about undergoing a business park Measure J/R vote.

    No one who has the capability, the money or the power to make it happen, wants a business park at Hunt-Wesson. It’s time to move on. Time to build a tomato processing plant or a nice, new neighborhood at the site.

  4. Mr.Toad

    ” ConAgra is 10 minutes from the freeway- that is no more of a deal breaker than the fact that Nishi will have to undergo a Measure J/R vote.”

    But it will add a lot of truck traffic in an area that is already densely residential.

    It would be better and safer to let some speculator who had the foresight to buy on the periphery west of the hospital make a profit in the interest of better planning. It should be noted that there is a great deal of animosity towards land speculators that, I believe, drives much of the anti-growth agenda. The irony of it is that many of these speculators are members of some of the oldest families in the community. It is the later arrivals who are the most anti-growth.

  5. Frankly

    Good points Mr. Toad.

    I live in West Davis and scream at traffic, yet I support peripheral business development in that 113 corridor. I makes complete sense. The city needs the tax revenue.

  6. medwoman

    I fail to see any irony in speculators being members of some of the oldest families in the community while later arrivals are.more anti growth.
    People have the right, and certainly will act in what they perceive to be in their own best interest.

    As Brett pointed out, “it is clear that you as the applicant would benefit from the rezoning……what the Council and planning staff should try to ascertain if the rezoning request is in the best interest of the community as a whole. This is the point at which I think there is the most controversy.
    There are those who seem to believe that what is good for the developer is necessarily good for the community, and there are those who do not.
    This is about a difference in vision for the community and what we see as optimal in the short, medium, and long term for our community.

  7. Mr.Toad

    Yes the council should tell the developers what we want and squeeze their margins to boot. Sadly the measure R process is an impediment to this sort of rational planning. The notion of greedy developers trying to maximize their profits without regards to the needs of the community seems to drive a great deal of opposition to projects on the periphery.

  8. DT Businessman

    “There are those who seem to believe that what is good for the developer is necessarily good for the community, and there are those who do not.” -medwoman

    This is an exceedingly odd statement. I don’t know anybody who holds this view, medwoman. On the other hand, I know plenty of people who recognize that all parties to an agreement MUST gain some benefit otherwise they will not enter into the agreement. If one party is insisting on an outcome in which the other party assumes risk, but no benefit, guess what? It’s unlikely that the parties will reach agreement.

    -Michael Bisch, Davis Commercial Properties

  9. medwoman

    “I don’t know anybody who holds this view”

    Then we are certainly interpreting some of the posts in favor of developing ConAgra as yet another largely relatively high priced singly family housing development with a few embellishments thrown in very differently.This advocacy has been put forward on many threads here on the Vangard over a long period of time. To me, at least some of these folks see the developers best financial interest as being in the best interest of the city. I disagree for a number of reasons. I fail to see what you see as “odd” about this statement.

  10. DT Businessman

    medwoman, what you see as “some of these folks see the developer’s best financial intererst as being in the best interest of the city”, I see as recognition that NO development will move forward unless there is a benefit to the city AND the developer. It is pointless to insist that the developer enter into a development agreement in which the developer recognizes insufficient benefit to justify the risk. Just as it is pointless for the developer to insist the city enter into a development agreement in which the city recognizes insufficient benefit to justify the costs. It’s a 2-way street. All too often, posters here opine as if it were a 1-way street. Neither party can dictate to the other. Lack of agreement results in default to the status quo. Some may embrace the status quo. Some may recognize an opportunity cost. We shall see how this tension plays out.

    -Michael Bisch, Davis Commercial Properties

  11. Mr.Toad

    Since you are on the topic of whoppers. How about this whopper from Sue in yesterday’s Enterprise on housing.

    “I would like to see significant townhouse and condominium development on underused parcels within walking distance of downtown, such as the 27-acre PG&E site at L Street between Second and Fifth and the 40-acre Nishi site that lies west of Café Italia and north of I-80, along with some apartments and student housing on the Nishi and housing on a portion of the Hunt-Wesson.”

    Sue has been touting PG&E for at least three elections. Nishi is a terrible place for housing wedged between a railroad and a freeway it will have too much noise and air pollution and limited access. Yes more student housing with limited access in isolated ghettos. Hunt-Wesson, Sue wants to wait out Conagra as long as it takes. So she is for projects that are ill suited or have been demonstrated to have no chance of happening as she describes them. A more honest answer would have been that she doesn’t want any housing.

  12. Mr.Toad

    Then she adds this fabrication as if repeating the big lie will make it true.

    “That said, I don’t think that building more for-sale houses will create affordability because the price of Davis homes is ultimately determined by our high quality of life; demand for our housing is regional and even national.”

    I would like to see substantiation for this one.

  13. Mr.Toad

    Of course the idea that we should not build housing because people will want to live here is pretty laughable. The idea that we shouldn’t build it because we can’t control who will live here is a pretty disgusting argument in my opinion.

  14. Mr.Toad

    Just to put the lie to Sue’s absurd idea that supply and demand does not apply to Davis, every time we talk about building housing people on here complain that we shouldn’t build housing in a weak market, forcing people under water further down.

  15. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Of course the idea that we should not build housing because people will want to live here is pretty laughable. The idea that we shouldn’t build it because we can’t control who will live here is a pretty disgusting argument in my opinion.[/quote]

    Mr. Toad, think about this – if we build a bunch of housing not needed by Davis residents, that will result in paying higher taxes to afford the necessary services that will have to be instituted, how are current Davis residents going to be able to afford this? And who do you think is going to move into all that new housing? Davis residents? Really? It is far more likely out of towners will snap up these homes, yet current Davis residents may be forced out of their own homes bc they cannot afford to pay the higher taxes…

    I’m not saying no growth is a good policy – but smart growth is…

  16. Mr.Toad

    Of course Sue is claiming she wants new housing. She just doesn’t want any project that will ever be built so arguing further that out of towners want to live here is just another shibboleth to scare people with code talk that in my opinion intimates race and class to exclude people. If we are going to decide who gets to live here who decides? Usually the market decides. Since we have under built these “regional others” are likely to be richer and better educated. We can also insist before zoning changes on a mixture of housing types that fit the needs of the community; rentals, senior, smaller starter homes, etc.

    You want smart growth but Sue wants no growth and that can be proven through her actions in 12 years on the council of being for things that will never get done while opposing things that can get done.

  17. Frankly

    Smart growth requires a coordinated economic and residential development plan and effort.

    Sacramento has one of the worst economies of any big city in California because it grew fat, dumb and happy having the all the state government business as an expected reliable revenue source. So, the area built way more housing than local business required. It because a bedroom and retirement community with the rest supported mostly by its own residential construction industry activity. Now it is in double trouble as the government coffers are dry and there are not enough area jobs.

    The issue we are facing is simply a lack of regional and local fiscal sustainability resulting from poor economic development. To get there we need to understand the horse (economic development) comes before the cart (residential development), but both are necessary to pull the required load.

    So, provide an economic development strategy/plan, and then provide a residential development plan that supports it. Create jobs and then create housing for the employees. It is not rocket science unless your hidden agenda is to prevent one or both.

  18. Downtown Resident

    “if we build a bunch of housing not needed by Davis residents, that will result in paying higher taxes to afford the necessary services that will have to be instituted, how are current Davis residents going to be able to afford this?

    current Davis residents may be forced out of their own homes bc they cannot afford to pay the higher taxes… “

    Current Davis property owners would not have to pay an extra dime, due to California’s regressive property tax structure enshrined in the state constitution since 1978. Long-term Davis property owners have long had their share of local taxation subsidized by the very out-of-towners so many folks in Davis fear would destroy this town.

  19. Downtown Resident

    “if we build a bunch of housing not needed by Davis residents, that will result in paying higher taxes to afford the necessary services that will have to be instituted, how are current Davis residents going to be able to afford this?

    current Davis residents may be forced out of their own homes bc they cannot afford to pay the higher taxes… “

    Current Davis property owners would not have to pay an extra dime, due to California’s regressive property tax structure enshrined in the state constitution since 1978. Long-term Davis property owners have long had their share of local taxation subsidized by the very out-of-towners so many folks in Davis fear would destroy this town.

  20. medwoman

    Jeff

    “So, provide an economic development strategy/plan, and then provide a residential development plan that supports it. Create jobs and then create housing for the employees. It is not rocket science unless your hidden agenda is to prevent one or both.”

    Again, we come perilously close to agreement. So far, I have not seen a comprehensive development or strategy plan that spells out, in terms even a gynecologist can understand, exactly what is being advocated with projected dollars attached so that those of us who are not versed in business models can understand what is being proposed and hope to have a chance of understanding what it would look like, and what it would cost the city in environmental, social and safety concerns as well as in purely economic terms. Then, and only then do I think it would be reasonable to make a decision whether or not what is advocated is good for the city. So far, what I am seeing are generalizations about “high paying jobs” and creation of “prosperity”.
    Compared to many of the surrounding communities, Davis is “prosperous”. What is the target ? What goal will satisfy those who are promoting growth ? Forgive me, but as a surgeon, I really want to know the facts or at least projected statistics before I embark on a major change in practice. I really believe that we should behave the same way in community planning.

  21. medwoman

    Jeff

    “So, provide an economic development strategy/plan, and then provide a residential development plan that supports it. Create jobs and then create housing for the employees. It is not rocket science unless your hidden agenda is to prevent one or both.”

    Again, we come perilously close to agreement. So far, I have not seen a comprehensive development or strategy plan that spells out, in terms even a gynecologist can understand, exactly what is being advocated with projected dollars attached so that those of us who are not versed in business models can understand what is being proposed and hope to have a chance of understanding what it would look like, and what it would cost the city in environmental, social and safety concerns as well as in purely economic terms. Then, and only then do I think it would be reasonable to make a decision whether or not what is advocated is good for the city. So far, what I am seeing are generalizations about “high paying jobs” and creation of “prosperity”.
    Compared to many of the surrounding communities, Davis is “prosperous”. What is the target ? What goal will satisfy those who are promoting growth ? Forgive me, but as a surgeon, I really want to know the facts or at least projected statistics before I embark on a major change in practice. I really believe that we should behave the same way in community planning.

  22. Frankly

    [i]”Long-term Davis property owners have long had their share of local taxation subsidized by the very out-of-towners so many folks in Davis fear would destroy this town.”[/i]

    This is a valid point.

    I purchased my current house 22 years ago for about $200k and it recently appraised for around $500k. Using those two figures, if I sold my house today the new buyer would pay 2.5 times greater property tax than I do. However, given the lack of (and high cost) of housing, it is more likely that I would be moving out of town and not buying another home in Davis. So, Davis loses the opportunity for me to buy up or buy down (depending on my needs) to add yet another fat tax payment to the system.

    This is just another example of the high cost of Davis change-aversion, NIMBYism, and statism.

    Related to this… as our population ages… we will have even more of this since the older we get the less we tend to like change.

    My goal is to inspire some needed change now before I get to that point!

    The irony here is that it is most of the same people blocking development that voted for the politicians that gave away the store… so that we can no longer afford to support their change-less Davis existence.

    To add to this irony, the same people block most business development so that our per capita sales revenue stays flat or drops.

    This reminds me of typical business challenges I have dealt with.

    When negotiating change, most stakeholders tend to respond based on an assessment of “what’s in it for me”. It is natural to resist change lacking benefits; so a key is to identify all the benefits and explain them well. Still, you will never get all stakeholders on board. In the corporate world, the best practices for dealing with this are the following:
    1.Demand that after a collaborative discovery and planning process to vet all concerns and ideas and inventory and communicate all costs, risks, opportunities and benefits, a management decision is made and everyone has to support it.
    2.People that continue to block progress after the management decision are disciplined and eventually terminated if they don’t stop.
    3.There is a process at progress milestones to collect input that is used to determine “estimate to completion” and then a management decision to cancel or continue.

    Obviously we cannot manage change the same way in the public sector. However, we can and should consider our own behavior related to change. Are we just chronic cranks and blockers? Are leaders and champions of change doing a good enough job explaining the costs, risks, opportunities and benefits? Do we have a good enough planning process? Do we give stakeholders enough of a feeling that they have a voice… and that there are milestones to check and make sure the change is still warranted?

  23. Frankly

    [i]”Long-term Davis property owners have long had their share of local taxation subsidized by the very out-of-towners so many folks in Davis fear would destroy this town.”[/i]

    This is a valid point.

    I purchased my current house 22 years ago for about $200k and it recently appraised for around $500k. Using those two figures, if I sold my house today the new buyer would pay 2.5 times greater property tax than I do. However, given the lack of (and high cost) of housing, it is more likely that I would be moving out of town and not buying another home in Davis. So, Davis loses the opportunity for me to buy up or buy down (depending on my needs) to add yet another fat tax payment to the system.

    This is just another example of the high cost of Davis change-aversion, NIMBYism, and statism.

    Related to this… as our population ages… we will have even more of this since the older we get the less we tend to like change.

    My goal is to inspire some needed change now before I get to that point!

    The irony here is that it is most of the same people blocking development that voted for the politicians that gave away the store… so that we can no longer afford to support their change-less Davis existence.

    To add to this irony, the same people block most business development so that our per capita sales revenue stays flat or drops.

    This reminds me of typical business challenges I have dealt with.

    When negotiating change, most stakeholders tend to respond based on an assessment of “what’s in it for me”. It is natural to resist change lacking benefits; so a key is to identify all the benefits and explain them well. Still, you will never get all stakeholders on board. In the corporate world, the best practices for dealing with this are the following:
    1.Demand that after a collaborative discovery and planning process to vet all concerns and ideas and inventory and communicate all costs, risks, opportunities and benefits, a management decision is made and everyone has to support it.
    2.People that continue to block progress after the management decision are disciplined and eventually terminated if they don’t stop.
    3.There is a process at progress milestones to collect input that is used to determine “estimate to completion” and then a management decision to cancel or continue.

    Obviously we cannot manage change the same way in the public sector. However, we can and should consider our own behavior related to change. Are we just chronic cranks and blockers? Are leaders and champions of change doing a good enough job explaining the costs, risks, opportunities and benefits? Do we have a good enough planning process? Do we give stakeholders enough of a feeling that they have a voice… and that there are milestones to check and make sure the change is still warranted?

  24. Frankly

    medwoman: [i]”Again, we come perilously close to agreement.”[/i]

    I don’t know if this should be cause for celebration or cause for concern!? 😉

    See above… did this answer your question?

    For me the primary goal is sustainable city finances while providing needed services at reasonable service levels.

    The city gets money and spends money. What it spends has to balance with what it gets. It is that simple. I am open to discussing just about any vision of this city having a balanced budget. Right now we are living way above our means trying keeping our town small, quirky, quaint and anti-business.

  25. Frankly

    medwoman: [i]”Again, we come perilously close to agreement.”[/i]

    I don’t know if this should be cause for celebration or cause for concern!? 😉

    See above… did this answer your question?

    For me the primary goal is sustainable city finances while providing needed services at reasonable service levels.

    The city gets money and spends money. What it spends has to balance with what it gets. It is that simple. I am open to discussing just about any vision of this city having a balanced budget. Right now we are living way above our means trying keeping our town small, quirky, quaint and anti-business.

  26. Mark West

    [i]”Forgive me, but as a surgeon, I really want to know the facts or at least projected statistics before I embark on a major change in practice.”[/i]

    Davis is headed for bankruptcy. If that is not enough reason for you to consider “a major change in practice,” then I don’t know what else to say.

    How we change is an important discussion. Standing pat will simply ensure failure.

  27. Mark West

    [i]”Forgive me, but as a surgeon, I really want to know the facts or at least projected statistics before I embark on a major change in practice.”[/i]

    Davis is headed for bankruptcy. If that is not enough reason for you to consider “a major change in practice,” then I don’t know what else to say.

    How we change is an important discussion. Standing pat will simply ensure failure.

  28. Don Shor

    I just had one of those business-walk visits from the group that is doing surveys for the city. Question 3 was something about what change I would like to see, what concerns I have. My answer: grow carefully.
    Economic development, as expressed on these threads by various people, ranges from some narrow projects to bigger development proposals. I don’ t think Jeff, Mark, psdavis, Michael B, or Mr. Toad would all agree on what it means, much less the others participating here.
    But “grow carefully” isn’t the same as “stand pat,” nor does it embrace large housing projects or, necessarily, business parks.

    As I said on another thread, I see some areas of consensus:
    Develop Nishi.
    Accept some greater density and taller buildings downtown.
    Allow more flexible zoning for both business and higher-density housing in downtown and some adjacent areas.
    Encourage downtown improvements that are minimal cost to the city.
    Encourage positive marketing campaigns (Buy Local Davis) that are minimal cost to the city.

    And I see some areas where there could possibly be progress, depending on what the issues are:
    Seek greater flexibility, assess impediments about developing Pads A – D near Target.
    Assess issues creating high vacancy rates in some neighborhood shopping centers.

    There are also housing plans approved, underway or not, that will increase the housing stock somewhat.

    So if someone supports all that, but isn’t necessarily supportive of any bigger projects at this time or in the near future, is that person in favor of or opposed to “economic development?”

  29. Don Shor

    I just had one of those business-walk visits from the group that is doing surveys for the city. Question 3 was something about what change I would like to see, what concerns I have. My answer: grow carefully.
    Economic development, as expressed on these threads by various people, ranges from some narrow projects to bigger development proposals. I don’ t think Jeff, Mark, psdavis, Michael B, or Mr. Toad would all agree on what it means, much less the others participating here.
    But “grow carefully” isn’t the same as “stand pat,” nor does it embrace large housing projects or, necessarily, business parks.

    As I said on another thread, I see some areas of consensus:
    Develop Nishi.
    Accept some greater density and taller buildings downtown.
    Allow more flexible zoning for both business and higher-density housing in downtown and some adjacent areas.
    Encourage downtown improvements that are minimal cost to the city.
    Encourage positive marketing campaigns (Buy Local Davis) that are minimal cost to the city.

    And I see some areas where there could possibly be progress, depending on what the issues are:
    Seek greater flexibility, assess impediments about developing Pads A – D near Target.
    Assess issues creating high vacancy rates in some neighborhood shopping centers.

    There are also housing plans approved, underway or not, that will increase the housing stock somewhat.

    So if someone supports all that, but isn’t necessarily supportive of any bigger projects at this time or in the near future, is that person in favor of or opposed to “economic development?”

  30. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Pay for it with developer fees;
    Lions and tigers and out of towners, oh my.[/quote]

    Trust me, developers fees will not cover the costs of the necessary services of any new developments – they never do…

    [quote]Current Davis property owners would not have to pay an extra dime, due to California’s regressive property tax structure enshrined in the state constitution since 1978. Long-term Davis property owners have long had their share of local taxation subsidized by the very out-of-towners so many folks in Davis fear would destroy this town.[/quote]

    Many seniors on fixed incomes and families w young children would end up being shoved out of their own homes if the taxes in Davis increase to cover the costs of any new development. Other commenters above have this right – bring the jobs first so that tax revenues increase to pay for the costs of any new city services needed, then build the housing… smart growth principals…

  31. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Pay for it with developer fees;
    Lions and tigers and out of towners, oh my.[/quote]

    Trust me, developers fees will not cover the costs of the necessary services of any new developments – they never do…

    [quote]Current Davis property owners would not have to pay an extra dime, due to California’s regressive property tax structure enshrined in the state constitution since 1978. Long-term Davis property owners have long had their share of local taxation subsidized by the very out-of-towners so many folks in Davis fear would destroy this town.[/quote]

    Many seniors on fixed incomes and families w young children would end up being shoved out of their own homes if the taxes in Davis increase to cover the costs of any new development. Other commenters above have this right – bring the jobs first so that tax revenues increase to pay for the costs of any new city services needed, then build the housing… smart growth principals…

  32. medwoman

    Mark West

    I don’t think you will get ant argument from antone who has been paying even cursory attention that the city is in a serious fiscal situation. However, your response is emblematic of my point. It is completely bereft of any concrete suggestions with substantiating data. I am not a businessman or community planner, so I am unable to sort options out for myself any more than you or DT Businessman or Kemble Pope would be able to address the best surgical approach to hysterectomy. I am not ashamed of my ignorance in these areas in which I have no expertise.
    But what I would find useful would be actual plans, rationale and numbers from those who are promoting various plans so that I could have a reasonable chance of weighing the pros and cons of each. Don and Rich have attempted to do this in limited fashion. I have not seen any such statements from those who are quick to accuse the more cautious amongst us as statists, or Nimby, or change averse or whatever other pejorative is passing today for thoughtful discussion.

  33. medwoman

    Mark West

    I don’t think you will get ant argument from antone who has been paying even cursory attention that the city is in a serious fiscal situation. However, your response is emblematic of my point. It is completely bereft of any concrete suggestions with substantiating data. I am not a businessman or community planner, so I am unable to sort options out for myself any more than you or DT Businessman or Kemble Pope would be able to address the best surgical approach to hysterectomy. I am not ashamed of my ignorance in these areas in which I have no expertise.
    But what I would find useful would be actual plans, rationale and numbers from those who are promoting various plans so that I could have a reasonable chance of weighing the pros and cons of each. Don and Rich have attempted to do this in limited fashion. I have not seen any such statements from those who are quick to accuse the more cautious amongst us as statists, or Nimby, or change averse or whatever other pejorative is passing today for thoughtful discussion.

  34. Frankly

    I think I need to add “cautious” to my list of blocking and or delaying attributes that include statists, NIMBY, and change-averse since I don’t want to mischaracterize any personal tendencies related to this topic.

    Just remember that a decision to delay is still a decision with risk of being wrong. “Caution” can just be just a softer label for change-aversion. I have a cautious business partner to complement my greater urgency to act. I have to remind him constantly that working to be 100% sure might mean you are too late to the party when you finally decide to go. We have been late to the party before and I hate that more than I hate being there too early with the wrong outfit.

    Medwoman – I’m still not sure what you are after. I’m not in a position to offer detailed plans. I can’t speak for Mark, but I assume he also does not have the time or resources to develop detailed plans. What I am advocating is that the city leaders offer detailed plans; but that those plans need to focus on developing the economy of the city as part of the solution to get us to sustainable finances.

    There are a number of ideas that have been floated about. See Don’s previous post. I agree with all of what he suggests, but I would add some peripheral business development and peripheral retail development along the 113 corridor. Don hates that and says it will kill the downtown. I think if the downtown is revitalized and expanded, it will survive just fine. Otherwise it is going to die anyway because Woodland, West Sac and Dixon are going to get more of our business.

    On the expense side, we need renegotiated MOUs, 3-person fire engines, and staffing cuts.

    Let’s try this…

    First – Do you consider the city financial situation to justify changes to our revenue inflows and expense outflows?

    Two – If you do NOT, then where do you see us heading as a city assuming more of a status quo? If, you DO, then what do you propose we do to solve the problems?

  35. Frankly

    Related…

    The DOW continued its decline today just wiping out all gains for the the year. This because of continued poor employment reports combined with the financial failures in socialist Europe.

    I think it is safe to say that the statute of limitations has run out blaming Bush and conservatives for bad economic times. The evidence is in and, as bad as bad right wing governance has been for people, left-wing governance has been an order of magnitude worse. We all need to explore our ideological ideas and expectations for what a good life means and can be going forward. Locally and nationally, we need to understand that we are in an economic competition for money that funds all the nice things we want in life (programs to educate our kids, feed the poor, take care of the sick… pristine nature, organic food and renewable energy sources… are all very expensive despite the bohemian lifestyle claims of their most focal advocates). Conservatives like me probably need to get used to our public institutions having to take care of more people until and unless we can get our collective economic heads out of our asses and get the local, state and national economy growing well again.

  36. medwoman

    Jeff

    Let’s try this. A close female relative of yours needs a hysterectomy. One gynecologist thinks it should be done with one particular technique.
    Another strongly favors a diametrically opposing technique. Would you simply go with the one that made the best sounding generalization or would you like to hear details about costs, relative recovery times, potential risks of each approach. I suspect that you would prefer the more detailed discussion. Hopefully this will give you an illustration of where I sit with city planning. I am sorry that I am not willing to accept on face value anyone’s opinion be it Don’s or your reassurances that you think a revitalized downtown will survive peripheral business development ” just fine” without supporting evidence. Would you take my word for surgical technique in the face of controversy without any supporting data ?

  37. Frankly

    medwoman, look at it this way… after assessing cause (and we absolutely know the cause of our fiscal problems) there is a finite number of treatments for morbid obesity. I use this example because it better fits our situation than does a hysterectomy, IMO.

    Unlike your hysterectomy example, there is no question of need… unless by my example you accept morbid obesity as something you can live with until the patient becomes less active and dies early. And, there is no question here that the patient will die early (go bankrupt). I assume with your hysterectomy example, you are insinuating that the patient is not terminal and has a lot of creative treatment options. However, there are no magic bullets of treatment nuance with our obese patient. It is not an over-active thyroid, or some organic metabolism issue. This is just a patient that over-ate, is still over-eating… and will not exercise.

    The way I see it the recommendation is diet and exercise and a change to a healthier life-style. You are asking “what does the diet contain”, and “show me the design of the exercise plan”. Those are questions only the people involved in planning and executing the treatment can answer.

    The other problem comparing medical problems with our city fiscal issues… the practice of medicine is all about protocol. There are creative processes for diagnosis… and some maladies like certain cancers are treated with a highly variable protocols. However, treatments are a set of defined and repeatable steps and tasks. Dealing with the city fiscal problems will be a program made up of many projects. Projects are defined as being temporary, [b]unique[/b] and having a beginning and end. You target a set of goals, plan the work, work the plan… and then end the project. You define a one-time protocol and then discard it when you are done (except for lessons learned for the next similar project).

    In the discipline of business project management the first steps are discovery and vision. Discovery is the data collection and analysis phase. This is where problems and opportunities are explored. Next is the vision phase. This is where leaders – using the findings of the previous from all the smart business analytical types – paint the broad vision of a future state that is the target. They also lay out the primary goals to achieve to measure progress to the target. This is good place to start collaborating and gathering input from stakeholders to solidify the vision. That is where we are.

    Next is the planning phase. This is where the analysts and task experts get together to flesh out the detail for what needs to be done… the how, what, when, where, and who. They also assess risks and opportunities in a quantitative way (since they know what the work will take). You can’t really estimate an effort until planning… and there are plenty of times that project feasibility dies after fleshing out the work to be done. Those were my most career challenging times… taking the bad news to senior executives with a vested interest in their vision… telling them it cannot be done within the budget.

    My point here is that this is not the time to debate the level of detail you are looking for. We don’t need to do this. All we need to do is agree that the financial status quo (morbid obesity) requires treatment or not, and the general vision and goals for treatment. Deciding what diet (staff/programs to cut, etc.) and what exercise (ways to bring in additional revenue) are going to be secondary and require a more detailed tradeoff assessment for each item. We can offer up general ideas, but I am certainly not qualified or knowledgeable enough to – for example, list the positions to cut, or the programs to cut. I also can’t say that a particular business park or retail project will be feasible. All I can do right now is contribute to the vision for treatment of the morbidly obese patient that once was healthy and fair.

  38. Don Shor

    [i]”I think I need to add “cautious” to my list of blocking and or delaying attributes…”
    [/i]
    I support all kinds of things in the realm of economic development, but because I urge that we do things carefully I’m obstructionist? The definition of economic development seems to be pretty loose around here.
    IMO the next council will only have the resources and time to focus on the things I’ve described as having general consensus.
    There is a committee working on assessing peripheral sites for a business park. I would love to see an actual impartial analysis that incorporates the very skeptical analysis that psdavis, Michael Bisch, and Matt Williams just provided on another thread. But I consider any move toward that kind of annexation and development to be very far out on the planning horizon, if at all. Peripheral retail, IMO, is a complete non-starter, certain to spark the kind of epic electoral battle that will polarize all other economic development momentum.
    Let’s focus on what’s doable now, and not try to push for the most aggressive expansion.

  39. Mark West

    medwoman: I generally don’t waste my time explaining things to anonymous posters. Sign your name and I will be happy to have a conversation with you. If you won’t do it publicly, send me an email and introduce yourself. markw@romingerwest.com

    Jeff: ‘[i]Next is the vision phase. This is where leaders – using the findings of the previous from all the smart business analytical types – paint the broad vision of a future state that is the target.[/i]’

    I appreciate your description of project planning; you did that much better than I could have. Michael B. has detailed all the ‘visioning’ that has already been accomplished. The problem is not vision, it is implementation. We need to stop dithering and start acting. As you have said before, not acting is itself a decision with consequence. For far too long we have collectively chosen ‘not acting’ as our approach and the result is we are facing financial ruin. We need leaders who will implement change, not fight it.

  40. Don Shor

    [i]The problem is not vision, it is implementation. We need to stop dithering and start acting.[/i]

    I guess I need to know what the action items are that are on [i]your[/i] list. You and Jeff and others don’t all seem to have the same checklist.

  41. hpierce

    [quote]We need to stop dithering and start acting.
    [/quote]The new City Manager, & the HR Director appear to be good at this. “fire, aim, ready”, seems to be their mantra.

  42. Mark West

    Don: I gave you my list a couple of months back if I recall. Surprisingly, it looks much like your own. Where I differ from you, and Jeff for that matter, is on the issue of peripheral development. Jeff is for it, at least at some specific locations, you seem to be completely opposed regardless of the location, and I am indifferent. If I were going to develop a criteria for choosing a site for development however, the first item on my list would be the quality of the soil. If it is high quality farm land, don’t build on it, ever. If it is indifferent farm land, maybe build if other characteristics make is suitable. In terms of the appropriate direction of growth for the City, my choice would be up.

    I don’t have a preferred population size for Davis. I have lived and worked in both large and small cities and find that both have their charm. When my parents moved to Davis to go to UCD, they knew everyone on campus and probably knew most of the residents in town. I didn’t even know everyone in my High School class. Everything changes. Besides, can anyone really tell the difference on a daily basis between a town of 65,000 and one of 85,000? If the population jumped 20,000 in a year – probably. If it grew that much over 10 years – probably not.

    Unfortunately what doesn’t seem to change is this notion that we should ‘keep Davis just the way it is.’ Stagnation has never been an attractive option to me. When we join together and agree on a visioning plan and then fail to implement it, stagnation or decline are all we can hope for. Michael B. can give you the list of visioning plans that different groups have come up with, and which our leaders have committed to implement. As far as I can tell, nothing has been done. The problem is not a lack of vision, it is a lack of will to implement.

    For example, when our leaders acknowledge that we need ‘infill development’ and then point to PG&E as the ideal site, all they are saying is ‘let’s not do anything right now.’ When they allow a retail site to remain vacant for years while waiting in vain for their ‘preferred store’ to arrive? Stagnation. Decline. Economic collapse.

    We have no one to blame but ourselves. Davis was economically challenged (and a retail wasteland) when I was growing up here. It still is. When are we going to pull our heads out and do something about it? ‘Smart growth’ is not ‘no growth.’ It is time for us to decide if we are going to be smart.

  43. DT Businessman

    “The problem is not vision, it is implementation. We need to stop dithering and start acting.” -Mark West

    Mark is spot on. To use medwoman’s metaphor the patient is flatlining with dramatic blood loss. We need to stick an IV in and replace the lost blood. The stimulus Don proposed is a good start. But instead, medwoman wants to study the situation a bit more, but not pay for the study, so the study doesn’t even happen (this is no exageration, but is exactly the case as no economic strategic plan has been funded or undertaken these past 4 years). Indeed, she wants to give the patient a haircut and pedicure while not funding the study that she says is needed before action can be taken to save the patient.

    My metaphor is a bit unfair to medwoman, but accurately describes the current condition. What is fair to assert is that “studying” in this community is code for “stopping”.

    Fortunately, many actors in the community have given up on forming political consensus and have simply started “acting”. That’s why we are currently seeing many little smaller, piecemeal improvements in the downtown. We simply cannot wait for the council to get its act together. And this is a good thing. We need to create conditions where the private sector can try things, some will work, some will fail, but we will explore, innovate, and progress.

    -Michael Bisch

  44. Don Shor

    medwoman and others are probably unaware of the many planning documents that have been created and that are available on the city’s website. I read these, and I’m sure others who participate here do, but I expect we are a very small minority. The minutes of BEDC and the innovation park task force are also useful. They are usually in the agenda, rather than separately posted.
    [url]http://cityofdavis.org/ed/Comprehensive ED Strategy/[/url]

  45. medwoman

    DT Businessman

    I would say that your characterization is while whimsical enough to make me smile, accurately depicted as unfair. To save the hemmorrhaging patient, one has to know where to place the lines.Will a big bore IV in a vein suffice or do we need a cut down or a peripheral line ? making the wrong decision may be as fatal to the patient as doing nothing. Also, what kind of blood or blood products are we going to give, and in what amounts. The wrong decision could again prove fatal. And finally, I have no idea where you got the idea that I “do not want to pay for the study.
    I have said repeatedly that I do not believe that the wealthy myself included are overtaxed but rather quite under taxed.

    “We need to create conditions where the private sector can try things, some will work, some will fail, but we wiill explore, innovate, and progress.”
    I have no problem with this statement as long as the private sector is responsible for cleaning up the messes engendered by their failed
    “explorations”. However, the entire community pays in terms of loss of aesthetics and blight when someone fails and simply walks away from their failure leaving behind an empty and deteriorating space as we have seen a number of times in this town. Just because consensus does not occur as rapidly as some might want does not mean it is not important.

  46. psdavis

    “There is a committee working on assessing peripheral sites for a business park. I would love to see an actual impartial analysis that incorporates the very skeptical analysis that psdavis, Michael Bisch, and Matt Williams just provided on another thread. But I consider any move toward that kind of annexation and development to be very far out on the planning horizon, if at all. Peripheral retail, IMO, is a complete non-starter, certain to spark the kind of epic electoral battle that will polarize all other economic development momentum.” Don Shor

    Just to be crystal clear, I have never (not even once) advocated for additional peripheral retail.

    In point of fact, my position is that community-serving peripheral retail should be prohibited from the tech park. I would not have a problem with a very limited amount of project serving retail that is unambiguously specified in the Measure J/R project description.

    To take it a step further, I would also expect that the terms of the annexation would prohibit any up-zoning of the property to retail or residential. If properly articulated, this language could provide more stringent protection than currently exists under Measure J/R.

    The point is that we desperately need a credible tech park to try and capture those high-value opportunities (like DTL, Genentech (Dixon), etc.) that come along from time to time. If we don’t have entitled, shovel-ready land, we are not even in the game.

    If we annex land for a tech park there should be an up-front mutually-acceptable agreement between the city and the property owners which stipulates that the land remains in agriculture until in is needed for tech (and only tech).

  47. Don Shor

    Although there is nothing wrong with considering sites for larger tech firms, Davis is probably going to see better results by focusing on sites for smaller firms. Genentech is a case in point. Now owned by Roche, they laid off hundreds of employees in the Bay Area in 2010. They were supposed to bring 160 jobs to Dixon, but they aren’t currently listed among the top employers there ([url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dixon,_California#Top_employers[/url]).
    A large site dedicated to a single user is much riskier than a smaller site open to smaller companies. And it is the latter that seems best suited to the sorts of spin-off companies that UCD generates and attracts.

  48. medwoman

    Don

    You are correct. I was completely unaware of the availability of these documents. Thanks for raising my level of awareness. I suspect that my reading of these will be roughly akin to learning a new “language” just as I had to in medical school. So bear with me while I attempt to catch up.

  49. Frankly

    [i]”The problem is not vision, it is implementation. We need to stop dithering and start acting. As you have said before, not acting is itself a decision with consequence. For far too long we have collectively chosen ‘not acting’ as our approach and the result is we are facing financial ruin. We need leaders who will implement change, not fight it.”[/i]

    Mark, I am with you 100 percent on this. The other problem with delay is examples like medwoman… she has become newly concerned stakeholder. This is another lesson of project management: momentum. The longer you keep the analysis/vision phase open, the greater the probability you will never get anything done because new stakeholders develop and want a say. Critics are a dime a dozen, but real leaders willing to take calculated risks and get it done are in very short supply. We need to cut off debate about “what” to do at some point, and shift to focusing on how, when, where, who… etc.

    I would add to medwoman’s tendency to use medical analogies the point that we are not talking about a situation where a choice to develop some project is life or death. In economic development we can afford to take some risks. We need to take some risks. Perfection. Batting 1000. Zero impacts. These are not attainable goals. So to demand those means we will stall and delay and never do anything worthwhile.

    My only interest in opening up the vision box to analyze the feasibility of peripheral annexation and development of the poorer quality farm land on HW-113 between Covell and Co. Rd 29.

    Although maybe not the best example, politicians blocked oil drilling in ANWR Alaska using the explanation that it would not help gas prices because it would take 10 years to get to production. That was 10 years ago. You are correct, we keep dithering, stalling, wringing our hands over our fear of impacts to our views out our windows… meanwhile we don’t have enough private-sector jobs and we keep cutting services and laying off public-sector employees. It is aggravating. I keep asking where the real leaders are. I think we are starting to see an awaking of this need, but it is still too slow in coming.

  50. psdavis

    Don: I never said anything about a large site devoted to a single user. I’m talking about about a large site devoted to multiple mid-size, established users. Opportunities to recruit these high-value end-users to the community are very rare. We need to have entitled, shovel ready land waiting in our inventory so that we can compete for these opportunities when they occur. The land can be farmed until needed.

    Jeff: The problem with the area you mentioned is infrastructure. The Mace site can leverage the infrastructure that went in for Mace Ranch and the water tank. I believe the high speed data trunk runs parallel to I-80. Also, don’t forget proximity to existing services (not to mention and underutilized interchange).

    In addition, the land is contiguous with the existing development along 2nd street, and extending the corridor to the east makes sense in terms of synergy and critical mass.

    I agree with most of the points you and Mark are making.

  51. Don Shor

    [img]http://davismerchants.org/vanguard/eastdavissoils.png[/img]
    [url]http://davismerchants.org/vanguard/eastdavissoils.png[/url]
    Source: [url]http://casoilresource.lawr.ucdavis.edu/soilweb_gmap/[/url]

    Bottom line: all the soils east of town are prime farmland.

  52. Frankly

    This is another great discussion on the economic development (i.e., revenue) end of our need to solve city fiscal problems.

    On the other side, we have over-spending and the looming crisis of our unfunded public-sector pensions.

    From the WSJ today:

    [b]As Costs Soar, Taxpayers Target Pensions of Cops and Firefighters[/b]

    [url]http://www.cscdc.org/miscjeff/pensioncosts.pdf[/url]

    Related the prior discussions about the costs of delay, this part of the problem stands front and center. Any city politician not attacking it with urgency, is not a worthy candidate in my mind.

  53. Frankly

    Don, thanks for the diagram on soil quality. I thought I read at some point that the soil between the hospital and CR 29 is sub-standard quality. psdavis makes the point that all the farm land that Davis resides on is prime. This does bring up a good point about community development in areas where there is a lot of ag business. How can you NOT develop on farm land?

    The way I see it, if Davis is resisting peripheral development to preserve farm land; but other communities are doing much less of this… then Davis is paying a potential high cost (much lower city sales revenue) for little benefit (few acres saved).

    From what I can see, Davis has earned more than enough chips resisting the type of sprawl prevalent in other growing California cities. We can safely spend some of those chips to expand a bit without having to flog ourselves over guilt of doing the wrong things.

    One more point about preserving farm land. Ag business consumes most of our fresh water, dumps chemicals into the environment, and continues to be one of the largest entitlement programs for the country. All of this makes me suspect that the demand to preserve farm land is simply another proxy for the cautious, change-adverse, NIMBY, statists to prevent growth and development of any kind.

  54. Don Shor

    If you want to build on soil that is not prime farmland, scroll around and look on the map for Pescadero Silty Clay and Pescadero Silty Clay, saline-alkali. The two places that you find those are somewhat west and northwest of the hospital, and (drum roll, please) on a broad swath of the Covell Village site and north of ConAgra. So it seems that the best place to build a stand-alone business park would be, in fact, ConAgra. The other would be north of Covell, north of Stonegate.

  55. Don Shor

    [i]”…cautious, change-adverse, NIMBY, statists to prevent growth and development of any kind.”
    [/i]
    So the opposite of these folks would be the reckless, change-happy, BWDW*, anti-statists who want unbridled growth and development of every kind?

    * Build Wherever Developers Want

  56. Don Shor

    [i]How can you NOT develop on farm land? [/i]
    By using soil maps as one of the determinants of where development will be allowed, and retaining ag zoning for land where the soil is best suited to farming.

  57. medwoman

    “to expand a but”

    Ok, I’ll ask again, what is a “bit”? What do you see as the optimal population size for Davis, and why ?
    I agree, that to do nothing is also a choice. My optimal city size for Davis has already been surpassed. I would have preferred a total population of around fifty thousand for reasons I have placed on a number of posts.
    When one is deciding on optimal size for anything one wants to build, develope, or grow, isn’t it important to decide upon optimal size before you get started ? Think about a family. Didn’t most of you have a discussion about how many children you might want to have before you got started? I doubt anyone responsible ( and whose religion does not nandate it) ever says “let’s just grow “a bit” and see what happens. It is not “handwringing or dithering” to think not only can we afford both economically, emotionally and socially, not only the diapers and onesey’s now, but 18 + years of food, clothing, medical bills, education, etc. For the city, the impact of changes made will last well beyond those 18 years.
    As someone who has lived in communities as small as 2000 and as large as several million, and so am aware of the pros and cons of each as a lifestyle choice, I have put my preference out there.
    How about actual numbers from the rest of you on both sides, with rationale ?

  58. Frankly

    [i]”What do you see as the optimal population size for Davis, and why ?”[/i]

    I think it is impossible to set a number to control for without causing a lot of negative consequences… like we see today. It is also a back-asswards way to plan a community.

    We need to first focus on the economy with smart economic development. Then we need to execute a residential development plan matching the expected needs for housing. IMO, having more Davis residents living AND working in the town make it a better place to live… especially if we increase the scope and diversity of business residing here.

    With smart growth plans, we will grow.

    Davis is in that space where we are too large to be small, and too small to be large. However, our future prospects will continue to decline without economic growth… and housing growth to support it. There are plenty of communities that have grown larger than Davis that are still fine places to live. Traffic and parking are already painful, so what exactly do you fear having a larger population?

  59. medwoman

    Jeff

    “Davis is in that space where we are too large to be small, and too small to be large. However, our future prospects will continue to decline without economic growth… and housing growth to support it. There are plenty of communities that have grown larger than Davis that are still fine places to live. Traffic and parking are already painful, so what exactly do you fear having a larger population?”

    As I have stated many times, it is not about fear. It is about personal preference. One of the main reasons that I moved back to Davis from much larger communities was precisely because I wanted to raise my family, and now eventually retire in a small town atmosphere without the social and intellectual isolation that I experienced growing up. For those who prefer a more urban setting, there are many available. for those who like bedroom communities, they also abound. What is in relatively short supply are towns in which one can walk anywhere, virtually anytime in what one foreign visitor described as a ” garden like setting”. This is what Davis means to me and what I would like to preserve. I am willing to be taxed more, I am willing to volunteer, I am willing to add affordable housing for those who need it. What I am not willing to do is to concede that no thought need be given to population size in advance, that there are not costs as well as benefits to growth, that there is no such thing as enough growth. At some point in time, for families, communities, towns, cities and nations, there surely must come a time when enough is enough. For me, Davis has passed this point already. I do not think it unreasonable to ask others about their preferences.
    You chose not to answer the question at all but just to belittle the idea that there is any point in asking.

    As for the assertion that “Davis is in that space where we are too large to be small, and too small to be large”,
    I do not have the vaguest idea what this means. Are you asserting that there is some substantive reason that a town of 65,000 cannot exist in the long run ? If so, please site your evidence. It seems to me that you are just making up this concept since ” small” and “large” are comparative terms.

  60. Don Shor

    The voters of Davis, in 1986, expressed their preference as to how Davis should grow. Paraphrased from Mike Fitch’s history, here from the Davis Wiki:

    [i]”According to Mike Fitch in his book Growing Pains, Measure L contained three guiding principles:

    Davis should grow as slowly as it legally could;

    Future growth should be concentrated on lands already within the city limits and additional annexations should be discouraged; and

    The county should not approve development on the periphery of Davis unless the city gives its stamp of approval by ruling it consistent with the Davis General Plan.

    Measure L included several findings, including the beliefs that “the prime agricultural land surrounding Davis is a resource of local, state and national importance” and “the growth of Davis is an issue best determined by Davis citizens without outside pressure or influence.”[/i]

    I think that reflects the views of a majority of Davisites a generation later, but it wouldn’t be unreasonable to put it on the ballot again.

  61. Frankly

    Who the heck do we want to be like when we grow up?
    [img]http://www.cscdc.org/miscjeff/cities.jpg[/img]

    I am assuming that sales revenue per capita represents the general economic development status of each city/town.

    Alameda is the only city I can find so far that has sales revenue per capita lower than Davis.

    Alameda in the news…
    [quote]The projected Alameda general fund budget shortfall for the 2012 to 2013 fiscal year has grown from $4.4 million to $5.1 million. Part of the problem is rising pension costs for city employees in the public safety and miscellaneous categories.

    A presentation prepared by city staff for a May 29th City Council budget session is now projecting general fund deficits of $5.1 million to $8.7 million annually from 2013 to 2017. Through that same time period, expenses are projected to rise at a faster rate than revenues.

    The city is projecting a general fund balance of just $11 million, or 15% of the total budget, for the end of fiscal year 2012 to 2013, unless corrective actions are taken. The projected deficits would run down this balance to a negative in fiscal year 2014 to 2015.

    Property taxes are a significant contributor of city revenue, but city data shows that the median sales price in Alameda has been in steady decline since 2005.

    The city is also projecting significant growth in its Calpers pension contribution rates for public safety and miscellaneous employees, as measured from the 2009 to 2010 fiscal year through 2016 to 2017.

    In response, the city is proposing a hodge-podge of reduction efforts, including reducing the overtime budget for the fire department, eliminating un-filled positions, cutting the parks and recreation budget, and shuffling expenditures around.[/quote]
    I’m thinking that we could never afford medwoman’s vision for Davis as a garden retirement community. We have just been in denial until the money ran out.

  62. Frankly

    Don, correct me if I am wrong, but this is the first year Folsom is having concerns about a shortfall. Also, their remedies are more plentiful at this point. Sure, they still spent like drunken sailors… the point is that they have more revenue per capita and it delayed the impacts from the long recession… and they don’t require cuts near as deep as Davis.

  63. Don Shor

    Ok, I’ll correct you. You’re wrong.

    “Folsom had a 2009-2010 budget deficit of $4.1 million. As a result,
    city officials sought to cut their operating budget by another 5.2 percent starting July 1, 2010,
    eliminating up to 50 more city jobs. Officials explained that the cuts were necessary due to
    lower general fund revenue and higher costs in the 2010-2011 fiscal year.” (http://www.kayescholer.com)

    City and county governments all over the state are having budget problems. If you’re going to keep focusing on the per capita sales tax revenues, you’ll need to also show that there is a correlation between high per capita sales tax revenue and healthy municipal budgets.

  64. Frankly

    Thaks Don, I really did not know that and didn’t take the time to check. However, in retrospect it is not surprising. It seems just about all cities in California have overspent no matter what revenue they managed to bring in.

    Let’s try this.

    Folsom’s budget 2008-2009
    – General fund = $70MM
    – All funds = $243MM
    – Sales Tax Revenue = $17.7MM
    – Population = ~70M

    Davis’s budget 2008-2009
    – General fund = $40MM
    – All funds = $134MM
    – Sales tax revenue = $9.3MM
    – Population = ~64M

    [i]”you’ll need to also show that there is a correlation between high per capita sales tax revenue and healthy municipal budgets.”[/i]

    No, I really don’t. It is clear that Folsom brings in much more sales tax revenue per capita than does Davis. Spending is the other end of the statement of activities which does not correlate with revenue when cities are all spending more than they take in. Assuming Davis had Folsom’s per capita tax revenue, in the 2008-2009 year we would have had another $6MM in inflows to our city budget. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

  65. Don Shor

    A city has revenues from property taxes, sales taxes, and any special taxes the voters choose to levy on their property owners and shoppers. Davis residents have chosen to increase those special taxes to pay for the things Davis residents like.
    If our existing vacancies and existing retail-zoned properties were dealt with, we’d have more sales tax revenues.
    I have previously explained that I believe Davis has lower per capita sales tax for reasons of geography, demographics, and history. I believe that will continue to be the case.

  66. medwoman

    Jeff

    “I’m thinking that we could never afford medwoman’s vision for Davis as a garden retirement community.”
    And I am thinking that you are respond ending to what you would like to think I am saying because it is easier to caricature and deride than what I am saying. Please read the description of what I saw this weekend, entered on a different thread this am, and tell me who you would feel would not be in support of such a community regardless of age. I also have expressed to you my difference of opinion that we ” cannot afford it “.
    Many of us who live here certainly could afford to put in more both in terms of taxes, voluntary contributions and volunteering of time to make it happen. To claim that the only way to “progress” is endless growth is to close one’s eyes to other possibilities.

  67. Frankly

    medwoman: Actually your posts recently on this topic have provided me an epiphany for how others might be thinking differently about Davis factoring it into their retirement plans. It gave me a new perspective. Thank you for that.

    In comparison, I don’t expect to retire here in Davis. My wife and I frequently talk about what we want to do. We talk about having a place in a city like Seattle or San Francisco… or maybe somewhere in Arizona, and a place in the mountains. But mostly we talk about where we think our two boys will settle. This is still a good 15+ years away for us, so I could certainly change my mind between then and now. However, at this point I do not see Davis as an appealing retirement destination.

    While I am living here, I am more apt to advocate for a more vibrant, dynamic and enterprising city. I am having a lot of trouble hiring qualified young professionals. Those with families choke on the low supply and high cost of housing. They lament the lack of convenient shopping and services. Singles pull their hair out from boredom. In fact, one star employee that I managed to attract away from a competitor in San Francisco three years ago recently moved back to Novato and is commuting because of the lack of other single professionals. Frankly, I am contemplating moving our office to the East Bay because of this problem. If you are an academic type with a career in education, or a planned retiree that likes the low-key vibe, and you live within walking distance of the core area… then maybe Davis already have everything you need. However, there are problems for many of the rest of us.

    The biggest of these problems is fiscal viability. Your ideas to volunteer and contribute more taxes to make up the funding gaps are non-starter ideas for most of the population. And these things only add to the struggles for attracting young professionals to the city.

    So, the way I see it, your desires keeping the population, scale and dimensions of the city from increasing are at conflict with the needs of others. However, that is always the case when it comes to city planning… we all have our desires and needs that contribute to the vision we support. I would be more apt to accept your vision if the city had a viable economy. Right now I don’t see any way to address the funding gaps other than cutting city expenses by layoffs, pay and benefit cuts, and reduction in services AND increasing revenue with economic expansion.

  68. Don Shor

    [i]Right now I don’t see any way to address the funding gaps other than cutting city expenses by layoffs, pay and benefit cuts, and reduction in services AND increasing revenue with economic expansion.[/i]

    Nobody disagrees with that. The differences arise as to the extent and specifics of the cuts and economic expansion.

  69. medwoman

    Oops, let’s try again.

    Jeff,

    I really appreciate that you do seem to be undstanding my point better.
    I would like to share a little more about this. When you mentioned that some of the singles are “pulling their hair out” , I agree. Some are. My own two kids are currently living in Berkeley. But some prefer the slower pace and warmer community. Several of both my sons and daughters friends have chosen to stay specifically because they like the smaller town atmosphere of Davis. Others leave for awhile for a “more vibrant lifestyle”
    And then come back here to raise their families because they recognize what a wonderful family oriented place it is. Like you, I will be making my retirement location decision based partially on where my kids decide to settle, and like you, that is a number of years down the road. I do think it is important to consider a couple of factors. You are not planning on being here for the long haul. I may or may not be. However, when I made the decision to settle in Davis, I was aware of the slow growth disposition of the town and factored this into my choice of a lifetime location. I know many people older than I am who have similar values to mine, and also made the “small town choice”. From this point of view, those who want to not live here, but do business here, or those who want to live here a while and then move onto to somewhere more appealing to them, will be making changes that they do not have to pay for, or live with in the long run. These are for the most part changes that cannot be reversed and so are “at conflict with the needs” of those who choose Davis specifically for its small town nature.

    I would disagree that my ideas of higher taxation and volunteerism are non starters for most of the population. I would be vry interested to learn for example, what percentage of the population volunteers now. I woulda also be interested to learn what percentage of the population would be willing to step up and do or pay more if the question were put this way: Would you be willing to donate a few hours a week if it meant we could
    Keep a swimming pool open, or keep your green belt maintained, or keep your pay ground open, or continue name your favorite schoo
    l program ? I think we simply don’t know for two reasons. One, we have never had this deep a recession in most peoples memories and so have not had to look at things in this way. We have never chosen to see exactly what people would choose to do if they had the opportunity to choose a more collaborative rather than such an individualistic benefit model. Perhaps it would not be so bad to see what could be accomplished by collaboration.

  70. medwoman

    Jeff

    “We talk about having a place in a city like Seattle or San Francisco… or maybe somewhere in Arizona, and a place in the mountains.”

    One other thought, and then I’ll give it a break. You and I are in the fortunate economic position of being able to consider retiring in a place such as San Francisco or Seattle and having a rural or near rural escape home. My partner and I also have such discussions. However, for many of all age ranges that I have met through my work, in the schools, and through sports and other community activities, they will never have this option.
    They can afford only one home, no additional ” cabin in the woods” and for many, not even extended vacations. For many of these folks, Davis is their only shot at a slow paced, small town atmosphere. I don’t see it as any more noble to ignore these folks needs and preferences than it is to ignore the needs and preferences of those who want a faster paced lifestyle. One major difference I do see, is that there are abundant “faster paced” choices available. The type of lifestyle offered by Davis is rapidly vanishing.

  71. Frankly

    medwoman,

    I agree that at some point we need to give this a break!

    First, I am supportive of volunteerism. However, I think a paid part-time workforce of residents is the way to go. We have a gem of a population of smart young people that need to work to help pay for their rising education costs. We have a growing population of under-employed adults. We have a percentage of the population retiring young. We have a well-educated population that can help in the classroom. We can leverage all of this and reduce the number of public sector full-time employees. My sense is that is where we are going. We used to just hire people to do the work, but the political connection with the public unions has made this approach too expensive.

    [i]”You and I are in the fortunate economic position of being able to consider retiring in a place such as San Francisco or Seattle and having a rural or near rural escape home.”[/i]

    First let’s clear up the myth that I am in any wealthy class. While I agree that some cannot afford a second home, or alternate retirement destination, for many it is just a matter of spending priorities and good financial management. If I can do it, many others can do it too. Also, I plan to work later in life to pay for the early benefit of this asset.

    But getting back to the topic of city growth and development; obviously we need balance in our plans. We need a level of economic activity that supports our city, but complements our city.

    [i]”One major difference I do see, is that there are abundant “faster paced” choices available. The type of lifestyle offered by Davis is rapidly vanishing.“[/i]

    Although I get your point, I really don’t agree with this statement. There are quite a few communities in California with a slow pace. You are welcome to stay at my cabin in the city of Chester to experience it… things move so slow there you would think time was standing still. That is part of the reason I wanted a place up there instead of using my discretionary money to buy-up in Davis.

    The slower lifestyle locations tend to be rural communities. That was my point about Davis being too large to be small and too small to be large. It is a city facing somewhat of an identity crisis. It has a world-class research university, 25,000 energetic students and other residents with higher than average education and affluence. When school is in session the population swells to close to 100,000.

    There are good reasons why the type of lifestyle offered by Davis is vanishing. The primary one is that cities the size of Davis cannot survive doing so.

    When I ask no-growth/slow-growth folks for an example of another California city our size they cite as a model for Davis… there are none. I think Don or wdf1 had suggested Eugene Oregon as an example… but then Eugene has a Home Depot and a Costco. I know we Davisites are smart, but I don’t think we are so smart that we can figure out some new, unique, sustainable low-economic footprint design never done before.

    Frankly I think you and others are fighting a losing battle putting so many constraints on growth and development. I understand the reasons, but I think some of them are driven by fear-of-change. You and others seem to fear that anything greater than the slowest growth and development will ruin the character of the city. I think more aggressive economic development and growth will improve the character of the city. More importantly though, I think we cannot afford not to more aggressively develop our economy and grow… even with tax increases and volunteerism.

  72. Don Shor

    Actually, it was Corvallis, not Eugene. Eugene is very different. And the Home Depot at Corvallis was controversial.
    Moreover, as you point out often, every city is unique and it’s hard to make direct comparisons. I’ve mentioned Arcata, but as you have noted it is much smaller. And as I’ve looked more into it, Arcata seems to have a symbiotic relationship with Eureka, much as Davis does to some degree with Woodland.

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