Analysis: Should Davis Reconsider Conservation Easement on Mace 391?

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Morris-1.pngIn June, there is no way around it, the discussion on a potential land swap involving a parcel of land east of Mace, Mace 391, and the Shriner’s Property was a debacle.  There are many reasons for that, which we have discussed previously and will not go into here.  The process problems destroyed any chance to have a real conversation on the merits of the proposal – and there are, as well, some legitimate concerns.

Earlier this week, David Morris, who proposed this arrangement, repackaged the proposal and took the unique step of putting it out to the community and vetting the project proposal on the Vanguard where the public could ask questions, scrutinize the project, and criticize it if need be.

By offering us transparency and an open process that was lacking in June, we can now evaluate the project on its merits.

I want to clarify that my purpose in writing this is not to be a project advocate or proponent, but rather to facilitate further discussion.

This really comes down to a number of factors that we have been discussing rather vigorously over the last six months: (1) should Davis attempt to better utilize its proximity to UC Davis and become a location where new startups and university spinoffs seek to do business? (2) how can Davis better generate revenue to avoid having to make further cuts to city services? (3) what land is available for such projects? and (4) how can we best develop economically while preserving open space, ag land, and the unique character of our community?

The warning sign that came down was the move of Bayer/Agraquest, which was founded in Davis, grew up in Davis, but could not find a large enough landing spot to stay in Davis.  We have been told that there is at least one more Davis company in a similar position.  These are lost workers, lost tax base, and ultimately a loss in potential revenue.

The question comes down to where Davis can develop economically.  Frankly, there are not a ton of options, but here are a few alternatives that can be discussed.

First, we have the Cannery Project which sits on about 100 acres of land that is zoned for light industrial.  We have discussed this option fully, the landowners are not interested in a business park and people like Rob White, the City’s Chief Innovation Officer, do not believe the land is suitable.

Second, we have Nishi.  Nishi is centrally-located, to the university and the downtown.  It has significant access issues with Richards Blvd.  However, recast with access to the university, it may be viable.  However, it is probably too small a parcel for a significant business park location.

Third, we have Interland.  Everyone I have talked to likes the idea of redeveloping it and building it upwards.  It is away from residential areas but underutilized right now at a single story.

Fourth, we have Mace 391 and the proposal from Davis Morris.

Fifth, we have the subprime ag land to the west of Sutter-Davis Hospital, which might be viable as a business park even though its access would be 113 rather than I-80.

Sixth, we have the land in Solano County that is southwest of the university.  The disadvantage of that land is that it is not in Davis and not in Yolo County, which would mean Solano County would get most of the benefits financially and fiscally of the enterprises.

It has been told to me – and I do not know that this is true – that if we do not find land in Davis to support university spinoffs, the university will make use of that land.

Right now, the area of Mace 391 is in preparation to become a permanent agricultural easement.  A few years ago, this easement was greeted as a major victory in the fight for agricultural preservation and in the fight against the potential for sprawl and leapfrog development.

However, people like David Morris believe that this is not the best area to put into a permanent conservation easement.  He wrote on Monday, “Conservation easement on Mace 391 will have a significant negative impact on the City’s economic development potential.”

“Shriners is a much better conservation opportunity for our community than Mace 391,” he argued, and noted that the public would have the right to vote on “whether or not we permanently remove Mace 391 from consideration as a portion of a peripheral innovation park as envisioned in the City’s economic development strategy.”

“To build this innovation economy, a key part of the mix is a large technology park,” Mr. Morris writes.  “The 493 acres of land bounded by Mace Blvd, County Road 30B, County Road 105, and I-80 is the best location for a technology park in the entire Sacramento region.  This equates to approximately 400 net developable acres. “

The key to his proposal is the swapping of better land, in his view, to put into a conservation easement.

He writes, “If our community is going to be asked to give up the planned Mace 391 conservation easement for technology sector economic development, then a conservation easement on better acreage has to be offered in return.  If one’s overriding goals are agricultural land preservation and the creation of an urban limit, the best conservation acreage in the entire Davis sphere of influence is the 234 acre Shriners property immediately north of Covell Boulevard and east of Wildhorse.”

He argues that this is better farmland and makes the rather innovative proposal to turn it into the community farm that many of the proponents of Mace 391 in June were espousing.

He writes, “One of the objections to setting aside the NRCS grant was the loss of this community farm site.  As discussed above, there is an outstanding site for a community farm on Shriners.  Unfortunately, on June 11th the focus was more on process than on optimizing opportunities, so there is currently very little community awareness of the Shriners community farm alternative.”

He proposes giving “approximately 30 acres at the southwest corner of the Shriners property to the City for the purpose of establishing a community farm (this has a value to the City in excess of $1.125M in land and avoided infrastructure costs).”

He then writes, “As a condition of receiving the community farm site, the City will agree to grant CCV a no-cost option to purchase the Mace 391 property at the City’s purchase price of $3.8M and forego the planned conservation easement on the property.”

This matter would then go before the voters.

Mr. Morris writes, “CCV will place an initiative on the ballot so that the Davis voters can decide on whether or not a technology park will be annexed and entitled on the proposed 493 acre Mace site.”

If the initiative passes, the remainder of the Shriner’s property would be placed into a conservation easement.  There would be “752 additional acres necessary to satisfy the 2:1 ag mitigation requirement” which “will be put into conservation easements.”  And, he proposes that Capitol Corridor Ventures would “purchase the Mace 391 property for $3.8M, effectively repaying the internal loan from the Roadway Impact Fees and restoring $1.325M to the Measure O fund for new open space conservation efforts.”

So, while the city would be giving up a conservation easement on Mace 391, it would get Shriner’s, which has been a hotbed for controversy in the past, and 752 additional acres to satisfy a 2-1 ag mitigation requirement.

If David Morris is correct, this would lock in the land right around Mace 391 and prevent future sprawl out on the I-80 corridor.

And the voters decide on all of this.  If the initiative were to fail, the city would retain the community farm parcel on Shriner’s and Capitol Corridor Ventures would abandon “the Mace 391 purchase option and the City places the property into a permanent conservation easement.”

Ultimately, the voters would decide on whether to go forward with this proposal.

In the end, the question comes down to whether the public believes that land – much of it is not prime agricultural land – is suitable for a 400-plus acre business park.  That is a tough question and one that needs community discussion.

At least, this time around, the community is getting multiple chances to weigh in on the project and not face the pressurized conditions that existed in June.

—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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236 thoughts on “Analysis: Should Davis Reconsider Conservation Easement on Mace 391?”

  1. Don Shor

    Mr. Morris hasn’t answered the questions that were posed in response to his column by several of us.
    Do we need to re-post those questions here now? Mine was pretty simple: who are the owners, shareholders, and directors of Capitol Corridor Ventures? To elaborate: has anything changed about CCV since June, or is it still just David Morris?
    We are being asked to bring a long, above-board process to a halt, risking funds and losing an opportunity to protect some of the best farmland near Davis, to engage in a speculative land swap with unknown individuals.
    “He argues that this is better farmland…”
    This is a minor point, but I would appreciate his basis for this statement. I see no difference in soil quality, but I might be missing something.
    I believe the conservation easement should go forward as planned.

  2. Mark West

    Don: “[i]No, he said that in June and Matt Williams repeated it. Hence my further question above.[/i]”

    So the question was asked and answered, which you acknowledge, but you insist on repeating it anyway? Do you not believe him, or are you just trying to gin up distrust?

  3. Mark West

    Don: “[i]We are being asked to bring a long, above-board process to a halt, risking funds and losing an opportunity to protect some of the best farmland near Davis[/i]”

    No, we are being asked to extend the public comment time to make sure we are making the best decision for Davis’ future. We are not risking anything as we already own and control the land. Since the NRC has given the City an extension on the time to implement the easement and sell the land, there is no reason not to take a pause and reexamine the question. What is the rush Don?

    I don’t think anyone could argue that the Mace 391 parcel is a better location for a community garden and farm than the Shriners property. As David Morris pointed out in his proposal, the infrastructure to access the land safely is already in place at Shriners, but will require a multi-million dollar development at Mace 391. Does it not make sense to consider leveraging the work we have already done?

    There is no need to race into this decision, especially since in the case of the proposed easement, that decision is a permanent one. The Council should take a pause, and re-examine what is in the best interests of Davis, now and for the future. In the end they may well choose to go forward with the easement, but that should only occur after allowing Staff and the community to fully evaluate David Morris’ proposal.

  4. Don Shor

    [quote]So the question was asked and answered, which you acknowledge, but you insist on repeating it anyway? Do you not believe him, or are you just trying to gin up distrust?[/quote]
    I wish to know if anything has changed, Mark. That’s why I asked and why I extended the question with more detail. Hey, I’ve got an idea: maybe Mr. Morris could answer it, instead of Matt Williams, Mr. Toad, and Mark West.

    “Rush” and “race” aren’t terms I would normally use to describe a process that has been ongoing for at least a couple of years in terms of establishing the conservation easement. This is a last-minute Hail Mary to block that, as far as I can tell.

  5. Don Shor

    Medwoman: Dr. Morris 

Since I have no business experience of any kind, I am unclear on some of the terms and concepts you are using and what they mean to you as a business man and as a citizen of Davis. 

1.
    The benefits of economic development focused on building a robust technology sector include more jobs, more tax revenue to the City’s general fund, and increased quality-of-life.

    On other threads it has been noted that “increased quality of life” has markedly different meanings to different posters. On the one hand are those who perceive increasing population to 100,000 or so as leading to an increased quality of life, while others see this as detrimental to our quality of life. I am interested in your
    perspective on what constitutes quality.

    2.
    It’s all part of building critical mass and establishing an ecosystem where technology company executives, investors, entrepreneurs, business services providers, and a highly-skilled workforce can all see that Davis has a vibrant innovation economy that they want to participate in – and is not a dead-end street where relatively small companies are forced to leave because we can’t accommodate their expansion.

    I am not sure what you perceive as “critical mass”. From your own story of having built a company which you then sold, and starting several other smaller companies, and from your own examples of Marrrone Bio Inovations, Express Systems, Arcadia Biosciences, FMC Technologies Schilling Robotics, HM Clause, and
    Mori Seiki/Digital Technology Laboratory, it would seem to me that there has been and is a great deal of successful business development that has gone on all with the Mace 391 and Shriners maintained as open space. So while you seem to be saying that we have rapidly developed, you seem to feel that we have not developed enough. My question is “what would you consider “enough” or the optimal amount of development for a city of our size ?

    I am also puzzled by your use of the term “dead end street” with regard to opportunity to grow one’s business.
    From my rudimentary understanding of what happens with many start ups, including the first company of yours that you sold, is that if they are promising enough, they are eventually bought by larger companies. This would leave me to characterize the start up nature of Davis as a “launching pad” rather than as a “dead end street”. And this would seem to me to be a highly appropriate role for a small city affiliated with a university. I do not see a company moving to West Sac so much as a loss for Davis as an ongoing asset for the region. I am not sure what the advantage is of necessarily grow bigger locally. And where is the end point. What is the maximal tech company size that you see as desirable ?

    3.
    The residual 187 acres is too small to meet the long term needs of the City.

    What do you see as the minimal amount of acres that would be adequate to meet the “long term needs of the City”. What do you perceive as “the long term needs of the city? ”

    4.
    It is important to stress that placing a conservation easement on Mace 391 is permanent. It can’t be undone – ever – even if we really regret the decision at some point down the road and want to change our minds. As a consequence, our community is at an important inflection point.

    Would it not be equally important to stress that once a parcel of land is developed and built upon either for residential or business, it will not be going back to its original state? Take the Cannery as a prime example here in town, it started out as ag land, was used for many years as an ag based company site, and is now being proposed as “mixed use” ( read primarily residential). There is no guarantee that when something is built that it will in fact be occupied and or be financially advantageous to the city. My example would be the adjacent pads to the Target. Another example might be the vacancies at some of our local shopping centers.

    Finally, you specifically state that you are not a developer. However, it would seem to me from your article that you personally have quite a financial interest in the proposal that you are making. Do you think that this may be coloring your view of what is advantageous to the entire community ? Please correct me if I have misread your
    personal interest in this swap.

  6. Don Shor

    Robb: Many questions here (honest ones). Here are a few. 

1. Is Mr Morris proposing a ballot initiative that is NOT a Measure R vote? If so, how does the timing of that initiative fit with decisions that have already been made? Is this even in the realm of the possible? 

2. Mr Morris writes that the soils and water situation at Shriners is better than the 391 property. How so? The soil types are not identical but, if I am reading the Yolo Soil maps correctly http://casoilresource.lawr.ucd…lweb_gmap/ I do not see anything but “prime farmland if irrigated” across all these properties. Perhaps someone can correct me (please do, I am a soil novice). 

3. Where is this land? re:
    752 additional acres necessary to satisfy the 2:1 ag mitigation requirement will be put into conservation easements.

    4. Is 493 acres considered a “minimum”, an “ideal”? Why is a smaller site not possible? What is the smallest size that is still practical for such a park? What are the assumptions about size of structures “required” to attract new businesses to Davis?

    5. I am struggling to understand the real “bite” of the guiding principles. What will stop anyone who acquires the rights from requesting a zoning change (see Cannery). We “know” housing is more lucrative than tech parks (or don’t we?)

    I am interested in learning more about all of this–but especially the “logistics” of getting this on a ballot in any kind of realistic timetable given the CC recent decision about the swap. This all seems rather unreal to me unless Mr Morris is suggesting that the NRCS and the Yolo Land Trust are willing to offer a pause. If so, who is negotiating this pause? Has not the CC told staff to move ahead? Who is driving this process just now?

    Thanks for any help you can provide.

  7. JustSaying

    “(Morris) argues that this is better farmland…”

    Don Shor: “This is a minor point, but I would appreciate his basis for this statement. I see no difference in soil quality, but I might be missing something.”

    Not only is this a minor point, there appears no difference in the soil quality, according to Don. Both parcels are suitable for agriculture; both are suitable for development. Either will sustain a conservation easement. There’s no longer a need to continue arguing this point.

    Unless there are other, major considerations that make one or the other better, let’s pick the one that folks who are investing the money think will be the best candidate for successful business park development.

  8. Robb Davis

    Thanks for reposting my questions Don. Here are some of them with further precisions/questions:

    [quote]1. Is Mr Morris proposing a ballot initiative that is NOT a Measure R vote? If so, how does the timing of that initiative fit with decisions that have already been made? Is this even in the realm of the possible? 

[/quote]
    It would seem to me that what Mr Morris is proposing (upon further consideration) is to ask the CC to reverse its recent decision and then put this to a Measure R vote. Otherwise, he is proposing to use a ballot initiative to write and ordinance specific to this property. If he is proposing the former he is, essentially, asking the CC to return the NRCS grant money (it appears unlikely that they will allow further delays such as waiting until a Measure R vote occurs). If the CC does this and the Measure R vote goes down it will lose the funds necessary to place this property into an Ag easement for the time being at least. This seems like a large risk. Please correct me if I am wrong about any of this.
    [quote]2. Mr Morris writes that the soils and water situation at Shriners is better than the 391 property. How so? The soil types are not identical but, if I am reading the Yolo Soil maps correctly http://casoilresource.lawr.ucd…lweb_gmap/ I do not see anything but “prime farmland if irrigated” across all these properties. Perhaps someone can correct me (please do, I am a soil novice). 

[/quote]
    Okay, I went back to the soil maps and the following four types dominate on the property Mr Morris is seeking to develop (again, I would ask someone to correct me on this if I have it wrong):

    a. Sycamore complex, drained
    b. Capay silty clay
    c. Marvin silty clay loam (very limited on this property)
    d. Willows clay
    e. Willows clay, alkali, drained

    Of these, the first 3 (which represent the majority of soil on this site) are considered “prime farmland if irrigated”. The latter two are considered “farmland of statewide importance.”

    So… all of the Shriner property soils are “prime farmland if irrigated” and most of the soil on the property in question are the same. Those that are not are still considered farmland of statewide importance. Thus, I suppose it is possible to argue that Shriner has better soil but that is a bit of a stretch in my view. ALL of the land in question is currently being farmed and has been ever since I lived in Davis. I believe it was in tomatoes this year and some was in safflower last year.

    [quote]3. Where is this land? re: 752 additional acres necessary to satisfy the 2:1 ag mitigation requirement will be put into conservation easements.[/quote]

    So let me reword this question a bit and add a few more:

    What does the ordinance laying out the 2:1 mitigation require in terms of the proximity of such land to the City of Davis? (I am ignorant of this issue and would need help to find out where to get the answer so I am hoping someone here can help)

    Could such land, for example, be grazing land in the Dunnigan Hills?

    Could it be in Colusa County?

    Does it have to be an ag easement or merely an open space easement?

    [quote]4. Is 493 acres considered a “minimum”, an “ideal”? Why is a smaller site not possible? What is the smallest size that is still practical for such a park? What are the assumptions about size of structures “required” to attract new businesses to Davis? [/quote]

    And allow me to ask one further question (as a card carrying member of the BAC I am required to ask a bicycle-related question in every posting I make on the Vanguard 😉

    5. What about the bicycles connectivity of this site to Davis? The BAC has received written and verbal comment from the growing group of intercity bicycle commuters concerning safety issues along CR32A. If Mr Morris’ project were to go through it would create a much greater flow of traffic along that road. Would Mr Morris offer to develop, up front (not contribute to a “future” project as Con Agra is doing with Cannery) a Class I bike path running through the property and all the way to the causeway? If so, the Class I would be on the north side of the UP line and would require some means of crossing the rail line at the causeway.

  9. Robb Davis

    And one more question/proposal for Mr Morris:

    Why not take your proposal to the Yolo County Farm Bureau (and invite the Ag Commissioner to come too) and merely ask for their feedback on the proposal? Don’t go to “sell” it to them. Merely go and ask their opinion about it and what they would consider to be the best mitigation strategy if it were to go forward. Farmers think about such things all the time and their insights might be valuable to you. I realize that this is in no way required but I think we need to start having larger “community” conversations with all stakeholders for such large projects. I think you will find the farm bureau folks thoughtful and full of interesting/useful perspectives.

  10. David Morris

    Robb: Thanks for the constructive feedback. Similar efforts are underway and we will add your idea to the short list. Regarding your other questions, please contact me at davistechpark@capitolcorridorventures.com if you’d like to sit down for coffee and discuss. I’ll post another article down the road to address some of the issues raised on the Vanguard coverage.

  11. David Morris

    medwoman: Same offer to you even though you post under a pseudonym. If you are willing to trust me with your identity, I’d be happy to meet and discuss, and will commit to protecting you anonymity.

    I was on the faculty of the Medical School so we may already know each other?

  12. Don Shor

    Robb: [quote] If he is proposing the former he is, essentially, asking the CC to return the NRCS grant money (it appears unlikely that they will allow further delays such as waiting until a Measure R vote occurs). If the CC does this and the Measure R vote goes down it will lose the funds necessary to place this property into an Ag easement for the time being at least. This seems like a large risk.[/quote]
    Thank you. I believe this answers the question as to why we should proceed now with the easement. But as Robb said, please correct us if we are wrong about that.

  13. David Morris

    [quote]If the initiative fails:
    (1) The City retains the 30 acre community farm parcel on Shriners.
    (2) CCV abandons the Mace 391 purchase option and the City places the property into a permanent conservation easement.

    In foregoing the conservation easement on Mace 391 and optioning the property to CCV, Davis obtains the community farm site on Shriners regardless of the outcome of the initiative vote. One crucial difference between this proposal and the current Mace 391 plan is that the voters get to weigh in on the merits of the planned conservation easement, which until recently has been quietly moving through the system with very little public awareness. [from 09/09/13 article][/quote]

  14. David M. Greenwald

    So David, am I understanding correctly there will actually be two votes on this – one determining the easement and the other per the normal Measure R vote?

  15. Frankly

    I am taking a hiatus from posting as someone pointed out I was taking over the blog. However, since issues dealing with economic development are key to my profession and altruistic drive, I will contribute to those topics (Sorry Green and Golden).

    [i] Is 493 acres considered a “minimum”, an “ideal”? Why is a smaller site not possible?[/i]

    This is an area that I suggest those that don’t understand the commercial real estate market and economic development might continue to wade in over their heads. Let’s me try to simplify it for those people. The more you limit the size of the business park, the more you erode the number of prospective businesses that could occupy it. Conversely, the larger the business park, the greater the market for viable business prospects, and the greater the versatility for different plant layout and business designs.

    By limiting the size of the park – and hence the size of the actual properties that could be developed on the park – you limit the market of prospects that could locate here and remain here. If you make it too small, you make it difficult to market and occupy.

    This is not the same as residential property decision-making where a Davis resident would accept a smaller property to benefit from other city amenities. Business needs to plan for capacity needs and locate where those capacity needs can be met. Moving a business is expensive and disruptive. A business in growth mode has a strategic and tactical plan that includes facility capacity requirements. You don’t discount those requirements just because you can only find a smaller property in Davis. You go elsewhere.

    And if you think about it, limiting the size of an industrial park is largely nonsensical especially if that industrial park is going to be largely involved in the business of agriculture. I don’t hear anyone pushing for a smaller sized park also demanding that farms be kept small.

  16. David Morris

    David: We’re proposing one initiative to cover all the issues. The City gets the community farm site up front. Under this proposal the choice for the voters is:
    (1) preservation of Mace 391, or
    (2) a tech park on the southern part of Mace 391, preservation of the remaining 204 acres of Shriners including the ag park improvements consistent with the conceptual diagram I post 9/9/12, and preservation of an additional 752 acres of mitigation acreage required by annexation and entitlement. The community farm has a higher value to the community than the NRCS grant.

  17. Mark West

    Don Shor: “[i]”Rush” and “race” aren’t terms I would normally use to describe a process that has been ongoing for at least a couple of years in terms of establishing the conservation easement. This is a last-minute Hail Mary to block that, as far as I can tell.[/i]”

    Don, when exactly did the community engage in a conversation comparing the the choice between putting this piece of land in a conservation easement or using it for developing a technology center? You describe this as a ‘hail mary’ effort to block the easement, but in fact June was the first time that the community had two real options to compare. The CC did not turn down David Morris’ idea on the merits, but rather on process concerns. With the deadline extended for completing the easement, there is now time to evaluate the merit of the proposal and for the community to decide which choice is better. What you are advocating does indeed constitute rushing to a conclusion, but you obviously don’t want the community to make this decision since you already know what is best for us.

  18. Don Shor

    Posting for Michael Bisch aka DT Businessman:

    Not knowing the proposal details or the players previously, I purposefully have stayed out of this debate until now. But now we have some details, so I’m feeling more comfortable weighing in.

    1) Pretending for the moment that the community hasn’t been on the present course for many years; and

    2) Pretending the City Council is interested in revisiting an issue it settled just a few meetings ago; and

    3) Pretending the community prioritizes a peripheral innovation park development over open space preservation on its periphery;

    I fail to see how accepting Morris’ Mace 391 proposal is in the best interest of the community. What value is Morris’ bringing to the community at what cost? The value as far as I can determine is next to none, while the value that the community would forego is tremendous, in fact, tens of millions of dollars. Keep in mind, the city has long since identified, through its Innovation Park Task Force, that the Mace Blvd area is of strategic importance as an innovation park site. This is not some new Dave Morris revelation. Furthermore, the community presently owns virtually all of the assets required for the proposed project, whereas the assets that Morris’ is offering are of very little value. The community owns the Mace 391 property outright. The community has the flexibility to pursue a development itself, in partnership with neighboring property owners, or can solicit RFPs from developers thereby reaping substantial profits. Why should the community split these profits with Morris? The community has hired and is paying Robb White, its Chief Innovation Officer, to market such a project. Morris has none of these things. Morris himself acknowledges that he doesn’t even have the necessary development expertise. All Morris brings to the party is an option to purchase the Shriners property at FAIR MARKET VALUE. I fail to see the value being offered by Morris.

    The tens of millions of dollars in profit that the city would generate from developing the property itself (not so likely), in partnership with others (likelier), or through an RFP process (far more likely) could be utilized in all manner of ways to benefit the community including creating a venture capital fund to assist Davis-located start-ups. Presumably, the city could rely on techDavis to help promote the city-driven project as well as such a venture capital fund since those are the specific reasons Morris gave for creating techDavis and for soliciting donations from the Davis business community.

    Furthermore, should the City pursue development of an innovation park along Mace, the Shriners property purchase option no longer has any value to Morris. Morris may as well then assign the option to the City or the City could wait for the option to expire and purchase the Shriner property outright and put an agricultural easement on it to preserve it as open space in perpetuity. In any event, the Shriner property already is open space.

    The community farm issues is irrelevant to this debate. In a city-driven project, the city could develop the community farm project on the remainder of the Mace 391 parcel or shift it to the Shriner property once the city has acquired the Shriner property.

    The community through successive council action has determined that the best course is to take the NCRS grant and record the easement preserving the open space in perpetuity. If the community determines that a course change is needed, the community should keep its hand on the tiller and reap the profit from the voyage.

    -Michael Bisch

  19. Matt Williams

    Robb said . . .

    [i]”If he is proposing the former he is, essentially, asking the CC to return the NRCS grant money (it appears unlikely that they will allow further delays such as waiting until a Measure R vote occurs). If the CC does this and the Measure R vote goes down it will lose the funds necessary to place this property into an Ag easement for the time being at least. This seems like a large risk.”[/i]

    Don Shor said . . .

    [i]”Thank you. I believe this answers the question as to why we should proceed now with the easement. But as Robb said, please correct us if we are wrong about that.” [/i]

    Let me take a simple number crunchers look at the question that Robb Davis has posed. To do so I’m going to try and put the $1.125 million of NRCS grant money into context.

    1) In the “current” picture the City has fee simple title ownership of 391 acres and the proceeds of the $1.125 million NRCS grant.

    2) If I understand it correctly, in the “Morris” picture the City has ownership of 391 acres, no NRCS grant money, and $3.8 million that it will receive from CCV to replenish the Measure O funds used to purchase Mace 391 from Northwest Arkansas Bank.

    3) In the “current” picture the City will have to spend upwards of $1 million on water, transportation and safety infrastructure in order to make the dream of a community garden on the Mace 391 property a reality.

    4) In the “Morris” picture that water, transportation and safety infrastructure is already in place. There is a grade separated bicycle crossing of Covell that connects to the City’s existing network of bicycle paths. There is room on the north side of Covell adjacent to the bicycle underpass for a safely protected bus stop. There is a City water main available on the south boundary of the property in the Covell right of way and also on the west boundary of the property going into Wildhorse.

    When one calculates the fiscal bottom-line using those four inputs, both pictures have the same number of acres of equally valuable (from a soil quality perspective) farmland. In the “current” picture the City has no money, because the $1.125 million inflow from NRCS is offset by the upwards of $1 million of infrastructure cost outflow. In the “Morris” picture the City has $3.8 million of money and virtually no infrastructure cost outflow.

    There is a [i]de jure[/i] versus [i]de facto[/i] land conservation difference between the two pictures. The City’s fee simple title ownership in the “Morris” picture is [i]de facto[/i] conservation while the “current” picture includes de jure conservation.

    With that said, I ask Robb and Don the following two questions, 1) is that [i]de jure[/i] vs [i]de facto[/i] difference worth $3.8 million? and 2) is there anything that prevents the City from applying to NRCS for a grant for a [i]de jure[/i] Conservation Easement grant on the newly constituted Mace 391 with Shriners in and Parcel 033-290-04 out?

    That is my simple number crunchers perspective on the questions Robb has posed.

  20. Don Shor

    There is no such thing as a “de facto” conservation easement. [i]De jure[/i] is permanent (that’s kind of the idea). “De facto” holds until the next land developer comes along with some land swap proposal.

  21. Matt Williams

    Michal Bisch, your response above confuses me. You champion the City developing the Mace 391 property into an Innovation Park under the leadership of Rob White. How exactly would the City do that if the permanent Conservation Easement is placed on the properties? Can you help me with my confusion?

  22. Robb Davis

    Okay Matt – This is where I am still confused (apologies for being dense):

    You wrote: [quote]2) If I understand it correctly, in the “Morris” picture the City has ownership of 391 acres, no NRCS grant money, and $3.8 million that it will receive from CCV to replenish the Measure O funds used to purchase Mace 391 from Northwest Arkansas Bank.[/quote]

    So… what if the voters vote down the initiative? What happens to the $3.8 million? What happens to the NRCS grant? I have surmised that the city would lose that grant but I am not sure. Who can enlighten us about that? My concern is if the initiative fails (a not improbable outcome) the city will be out the amount of the grant and gain only 30 extra acres. Am I wrong? Please explain.

  23. Mark West

    Don Shor: “[i]De facto” holds until the next land developer comes along with some land swap proposal.[/i]”

    True, if the Community chooses to go that route. Why take the development option off the table if we don’t need to? We own the land outright so the property cannot be developed without the Community’s consent. We don’t need the easement.

  24. Don Shor

    Excellent. Let’s hold out for $50 million dollars. After all, “A technology park at this location represents an economic development opportunity for the City of Davis as large as $1.5-2.0B.”
    Then we could buy all the land to the east, and all the land to the north, and have a real urban limit.

  25. Robb Davis

    Frankly wrote:[quote]Is 493 acres considered a “minimum”, an “ideal”? Why is a smaller site not possible?

    This is an area that I suggest those that don’t understand the commercial real estate market and economic development might continue to wade in over their heads. Let’s me try to simplify it for those people. [/quote]

    My questions were honest questions Frankly because I am not an expert and I acknowledged that up front. I understand the gist of your argument but by the same token it is not helpful because it essentially says “bigger is best” and I see no real reflection on how the assessed “need” for a park is reflected in these numbers. You are the business guy–what market assessments have been done to suggest that this size park fits an actual current/future demand?

    Also, this statement is not helpful: [quote]I don’t hear anyone pushing for a smaller sized park also demanding that farms be kept small.[/quote]

    Farming, as it is done in Yolo County is extensive (except for a small but growing organic sector, which, however, could be done at scale). It takes large parcels of land to grow most of the world’s supply of tomatoes and almonds and nearly all its sunflower seeds. Anyone who wants to take extensively farmed ag land out of production should be challenged about how to maximize the density and efficiency of use of that land (see Interland). My question is about that efficiency–that density–and I think it is a proper question to ask given the unique nature of our ag land. (Oh, and before you and Toad go off on the lack of water to farm in California, let me repeat that in Yolo County water is NOT a constraining factor).

  26. Matt Williams

    Robb Davis said . . .

    [i]”Okay Matt – This is where I am still confused (apologies for being dense):

    You wrote:

    2) If I understand it correctly, in the “Morris” picture the City has ownership of 391 acres, no NRCS grant money, and $3.8 million that it will receive from CCV to replenish the Measure O funds used to purchase Mace 391 from Northwest Arkansas Bank.

    So… what if the voters vote down the initiative? What happens to the $3.8 million? What happens to the NRCS grant? I have surmised that the city would lose that grant but I am not sure. Who can enlighten us about that? My concern is if the initiative fails (a not improbable outcome) the city will be out the amount of the grant and gain only 30 extra acres. Am I wrong? Please explain.”[/i]

    Robb, my answer is only my own opinion, so take that for what it is worth. Right now the 391 acres is 100% conserved. Control of that conservation is in the hands of the City because they own fee-simple title to the land outright. If the City processes and completes the NRCS grant then the 391 acres is 100% conserved. Control of that conservation is in the hands of the Yolo Land Trust. If I understand Don Shor correctly, he simply does not trust the City to act as an ethical steward of the conservation status of the 391 acres. On the other hand, if I understand Mark West correctly, he does trust the City to act as an ethical steward of the conservation status of the 391 acres. The answer to your question really lies in the level of trust you have for 1) the power of “the Community’s consent” and 2) the Council’s integrity in understanding and acting on the Community’s consent.

    I wish I had a more cut and dried answer for your question, but it really boils down to a matter of each individual voter’s sense of public trust.

    With that said, it is very clear that we need people on the Council 1) who are wise, 2) who listen, and 3) who we can trust. As we look forward to the 2014 Council election those are three of the criteria that we should all prize highly. I believe Rochelle Swanson meets all three of those criteria, and I believe there is another candidate who might run who meets those criteria as well. I’m hoping that the City’s voters have good choices in June 2014.

  27. JustSaying

    This may have been answered when this issue first showed up a couple months ago, but:

    What is the need for the city selling off development rights in perpetuity (for only $1.12-million) on such a valuable property it owns fee simple now ?

    We currently have complete control of a large parcel for which the city may have an overwhelming need decades down the road.

    We don’t get to change our minds once the NRCS pays off this token amount.

  28. Frankly

    [i]The community has the flexibility to pursue a development itself, in partnership with neighboring property owners, or can solicit RFPs from developers thereby reaping substantial profits.[/i]

    Are you kidding Don?

    The city that takes 3 years to make a bad decision to ban plastic bags?

    The city that completely bungles the first land swap idea?

    The city that is so worried about control that it ends up with only one vendor to build and operate our new waterworks?

    [i] I understand the gist of your argument but by the same token it is not helpful because it essentially says “bigger is best” [/i]

    No that is not what I meant. There is an optimum size that offers enough real estate to meet the needs of the industry segments and those businesses we wish to attract. I understand that there are certain companies already pledging their interest.

    I find it almost breathtaking that you and Don, two of the smartest guys in the room, don’t seem to get your lack of consistency claiming that farming does not work without large tracks of land, but then apparently discount the same for other business.

    ALL businesses require an optimum amount of land to meet their needs. Farmers have a limit to what they can successfully utilize. But if they have excess capacity, they will obviously look for more land to farm. There is not a shortage of land to farm. There are fallow ag parcels for lease all up and down the valley.

    There is a valid question about what size of a business park is optimum. The problem I am having with this obvious push to make it a smaller project is that it is irrational in the scheme of things. Assuming most if not all of these businesses would be ag-related, what in the hell is the difference? One difference is that the land used as a business park would supply more good jobs, more tax revenue, would use less water, would dump less dust and chemicals into the environment, etc., etc., etc.

    Please, please… explain the downsides.

  29. DT Businessman

    Dave, I have no doubt that I don’t have a good set of facts. But now you have called for a public debate, so why don’t you enlighten me and others publicly instead of asking us to contact you offline.

    Matt, you, West, and Frankly are advocating for the City to forgo the NCRS grant and conservation easement. My respones to your advocacy is to say, there is no compelling reason for us to do a land swap with Morris should the City agree to forgo the grant and easement. Morris is not offering us anything that we need. The community owns Mace 391 outright. The community controls the zoning of Mace 391. The community controls the zoning of the Shriners property. The community has a well-compensated employee that was hired specifically to attract the kind of companies that would be suitable tenants of a Mace innovation park. The community is holding all the cards, while Morris is pushing on a string. Under those circumstances, why the heck would we leave all that money on the table for Morris to scoop up?

    -Michael Bisch

  30. JustSaying

    While I was mulling over my question, I see that you folks already have taken up the issue? I think it’s been answered, but the answer(s) make no sense to me.

    My math might not be that good, but it seems that the $1.2-million pays off only $467 a month over the first 200 years–and in today’s dollars for a property with a value that will dramatically increase over the same period.

    The opportunity costs the city looses seem astounding for such a tiny return.

    If I understand Don’s rationale, we just have to make a stupid financial and property decisions simply because we have some vague reason to fear our elected city council members…forever.

  31. DT Businessman

    Frankly, I’m the source of the quote, not Don. Hello? There is going to be significant public sector involvement in the project regardless. With or without Morris, this project is not going to be lightning fast. In many ways,the process will be similar to what’s happening at Nishi and I don’t see you having a cow about that project.

    -Michael Bisch

  32. Robb Davis

    Frankly – I am not discounting anything–I am genuinely trying to understand. When I see people now saying, for example, that Interland should have been developed with greater density, I think it is very reasonable to ask how the land will be developed. We probably differ on this but I say squeeze all the efficiency out of any land that is taken out of farming.

    I concur that a tech park in this area would/should favor ag innovation. No problem there.

    Let me challenge you on one thing you wrote:

    [quote]There is not a shortage of land to farm. There are fallow ag parcels for lease all up and down the valley. [/quote]

    Up and down the valley… maybe. In Yolo County? Show me.

  33. Don Shor

    [quote]The community has the flexibility to pursue a development itself, in partnership with neighboring property owners, or can solicit RFPs from developers thereby reaping substantial profits.

    Are you kidding Don? [/quote]
    Just to clarify: I was posting on behalf of Michael Bisch. He sometimes has trouble posting.

  34. DT Businessman

    I need to back up a moment. My last couple comments make it sound like a Mace 391 innovation park is moving forward. We have no reason to believe that’s the case, quite the contrary. This is all theoretical debating to what end I do not know.

    -Michael Bisch

  35. Frankly

    JS – Is it getting nasty? I don’t see that.

    Michael/Don – Sorry I misquoted.

    Michael, what is the fastest and most efficient way to get a right-sized business park built in Davis.

    That is what I support.

  36. davisite4

    David Morris, you’ve called for a community discussion, but then when people ask questions, you say that you’ll meet with them privately. Those of us listening along would like to hear answers to those questions too, questions which many Davisites have. If you have answers, please post them here and have that community discussion that you claim that you’re interested in having.

  37. DT Businessman

    Frankly, the fastest path to a Measure R vote is likely the quickest way to losing the vote (see consent calendar attempt). If your focus is on actually getting a park approved and developed, the path is probably longer. And voters are likely to get more excited about a project that generates 10s of millions in revenue, rather than what Morris is offering.

    -Michael Bisch

  38. David Morris

    davisite4: I just checked in on the blog. I would love to be able to respond in real time. Unfortunately, I’m generally not able to engage in a real time discussion. Meeting face-to-face is actually the most efficient way to answer questions.

  39. JustSaying

    Maybe, I’m just a little too sensitive today. And, this is the [i]Vanguard[/i], after all.

    Another question. Where can we look at the zoning for all the property along County Road 102 from Covell to I-5?

    I have a feeling that Davis feels far more compelled to stop any development on ag land than Woodland because of Yolo County policy. It’s just a gut feeling based on our discussions and frequent visits to Costco via lots of housing development to the north.

  40. Frankly

    Michael, I think your points are valid a need to be addressed by Dave. I’ve met him. He seems like a very good guy. He has credentials as having graduated from UCD, worked for UCD, starting and growing a spin-off business from UCD, and then forming organizations that are justify his involvement in the thing he is proposing here. He is reaching out to as many community leaders as possible to gather concerns and answer questions. We should all applaud that approach and take him up on it before jumping to conclusions.

    I think you also need to factor the community benefit, both direct monetary and indirect monetary, that would result from an actual park being build and occupied. As a business person I’m sure you know how to calculate risk/opportunity and return. There is compensatory value in the person that can put a project like this together and see it through. I am not averse to seeing a project sponsor and/or developer make some return on that work.

    Maybe there is some additional value to the transaction that the city deserves. I would have to analyze the entire proposal costs and benefits from top-to-bottom to make that determination. But in the end, all transactions where there are willing and free parties have to demonstrate enough win-win for those parties to agree.

    Unless there is leverage.

    And one area of yet untapped leverage I think exists in this town is to take the project benefits message to the younger voters and the silent majority. I think this message would have tremendous greater traction today than prior to say 2009. Prior to 2009 we all had great confidence in our economic future. Today there is a greater potential political wedge issue selling economic growth projects on their merit of tax revenue and good jobs… because more people are lacking confidence in that economic future.

    Frankly, I think those that feel compelled to go at blocking this like they have everything else would be making a big mistake. Better for them to work with the project sponsors to try to mold it into something they can best tolerate.

    And then there is the university finally getting fed up and working with Solano and Yolo County, Woodland, Winters, and Dixon… all of which would more quickly build on farmland and have no problem putting the development close enough to Davis to be a big uncontrollable thorn in our side.

  41. David Morris

    “And voters are likely to get more excited …”

    Michael: A built out tech park at this site represents about $1.5-2.0B in real estate and will generate $5-10M in annual tax revenues. There is also the opportunity for other revenue streams such as a per square foot assessment. In addition, the multiplier effects of the economic activity will also represent a major fiscal benefit to the community.

    It won’t happen as a public/private partnership (UCD tried that and failed).

  42. davisite4

    David Morris, you know what? People have been working on this for years. You are now looking to reopen a can of worms on an issue that the Council has already decided on. Reopening this can could take up a lot of time and money from a lot of people for an issue that benefits you, personally. If you don’t have the time to see this through properly, then you shouldn’t have started it. Make your answers public if you really want to have the community discussion that you say you want. Private answers don’t cut it. If you can’t answer individually in comments, then write another blog post. It doesn’t have to be in “real time.” We can wait. But don’t ask us to spend time on an issue that you yourself aren’t willing to put the effort into.

    You owe the community answers to these questions. Unless you expect to just wave a technology park and a little piece of land in front of us and hope that we fall all over ourselves and not notice that we’ve lost the beautiful open space around Mace Curve and prime farmland along with it?

  43. JustSaying

    [quote]“davisite4: I just checked in on the blog. I would love to be able to respond in real time. Unfortunately, I’m generally not able to engage in a real time discussion. Meeting face-to-face is actually the most efficient way to answer questions.”[/quote]This is a major disappointment, Davis Morris.

    I don’t see how meeting “face-to-face” with each of the questioners here is at all efficient. And it certainly isn’t responsive. Why even agree to a [i]Vanguard[/i] interview?

    No one is demanding “real time discussion” at all. How about catching up with the questions and answer them in the evening?

    I’m afraid you’ve made a mistake in kissing off the [i]Vanguard[/i] as a forum to educate Davis citizens about your proposals.

    Too bad, ’cause I think something like your concepts eventually will be needed and pass muster here. In the meantime, the no-growthers will be here, convincing enough to delay any development for decades.

    I hope you’ll reconsider.

  44. Mark West

    Michael Bisch: “[i]Matt, you, West, and Frankly are advocating for the City to forgo the NCRS grant and conservation easement. My respones to your advocacy is to say, there is no compelling reason for us to do a land swap with Morris should the City agree to forgo the grant and easement.[/i]”

    I don’t believe that I have publicly advocated for David Morris’ project, though I have advocated that his proposal should be evaluated fully and not rejected solely on procedural grounds. I do advocate that we reject the conservation easement on this piece of land since I believe it is in the City’s interests to maintain the option of developing this land at some point in the future.

    Unfortunately, David Morris is the only one to bring forward a proposal for the property so that is all we have available to assess.

    The City bought this land for roughly $10,000 per acre. If we accept the $1.2 Million grant and the conservation easement we will have to sell the land to someone to farm the property. That sale price will not be at $10,000/acre, but probably closer to 1/3 of that price. So we are not giving up our development rights in perpetuity for $1.2 million as JustSaying suggests, we are agreeing to lose $3.0 million plus transactions cost on the real estate deal and also give up the development rights in perpetuity in exchange for a $1.2 million grant. That doesn’t sound like a very good idea to me.

  45. David Morris

    “If you can’t answer individually in comments, then write another blog post. It doesn’t have to be in “real time.” We can wait. But don’t ask us to spend time on an issue that you yourself aren’t willing to put the effort into.”

    I will be posting other articles as the discussion continues. I have spent enormous amounts of time of this issue.

    I’m offering a plan to take Shriners out of the path of residential development in exchange for economic development of lands along the freeway.

  46. JustSaying

    Mark West, did we get a “good deal” at $10,000 an acre for this ag land? I can see that the price we’d get might be lower once a perpetual easement is attached.

    But, what would the financial picture be if we maintain it as city property and rent it out to a farmer until the city decides that there’s some higher and better use?

  47. Davis Progressive

    Mr. Morris: I apologize for posting anonymously, my job precludes me from using my real name. I think what you have done here is great and I applaud you for vetting it here, where you can get feed back. I understand you may be a bit overwhelmed, but I think most people are interested in continuing this discussion with you. And we understand if you want to answer the questions slowly and thoughtfully.

  48. JustSaying

    [quote]“I have spent enormous amounts of time of this issue.”[/quote]Not hardly enough if you’ve decided to leave all these questions on the table.[quote]
    “I’m offering a plan to take Shriners out of the path of residential development in exchange for economic development of lands along the freeway.”[/quote]Sounds good to me. But, this is Davis. This is an offer than can be (and will be) refused out of hand without even fair consideration.

    If it’s important to you, a one-way/top-down series of articles is inadequate to the task.

  49. davisite4

    David Morris,

    [quote]I will be posting other articles as the discussion continues.[/quote]

    Don’t bother posting another article unless you are going to answer the questions that have been asked here. Davisites are not stupid. We’re not going to forget the questions or decide they’re not important.

    [quote]I’m offering a plan to take Shriners out of the path of residential development in exchange for economic development of lands along the freeway.[/quote]

    You own the Shriners property, is that correct? So, if it is “in the path of residential development,” it’s because of your plans and no one else’s. Are you threatening us, saying that if we don’t give you what you want you’ll build on Shriner’s? (Also subject to Measure R, if I am not mistaken, so good luck with that).

  50. DT Businessman

    “Unfortunately, David Morris is the only one to bring forward a proposal for the property so that is all we have available to assess.”

    Mark, this is the perplexing part. The Innovation Park Task Force has been examining a Mace Blvd. innovation park for what 2,3, 4 years? Three of the sitting CC members were members of the task force and they didn’t realize that the conservation easement was going to severly restrict their abilities? How is that possible? But now that we know about it, if we’re just now finding out about it, should the community choose to pursue this course, the community should maximize its profit potential. It is complete bullshit to argue that the city is not capable of approaching Ramos with the proposition of rezoning the Ramos property, the Harris property, and the Mace 391, and then having Ramos and his partners develope the whole thing as an innovation park.

    -Michael Bisch

  51. Don Shor

    Without a parcel map, people may be a little confused as to which properties you’re talking about. I don’t know if this helps:
    [url]http://davismerchants.org/vanguard/PublicLandsandEasements.pdf[/url]][img]http://davismerchants.org/vanguard/PublicLandsandEasements.pdf[/img]

  52. David Morris

    “Mr. Morris: I apologize for posting anonymously, my job precludes me from using my real name. I think what you have done here is great and I applaud you for vetting it here, where you can get feed back. I understand you may be a bit overwhelmed, but I think most people are interested in continuing this discussion with you. And we understand if you want to answer the questions slowly and thoughtfully.”

    Davis Progressive: Thanks for your comment.

  53. DT Businessman

    Also, I find it amusing that the threat of a Shriners residential development is being waved to prod the community into a landswap. “If you don’t agree to the landswap, we’re going to develop the Shriner’s propery as a residential subdivision!” Good luck with that.

    -Michael Bisch

  54. Mr.Toad

    ” It takes large parcels of land to grow most of the world’s supply of tomatoes and almonds and nearly all its sunflower seeds.”

    Tomatoes are grown in many places, Florida and Mexico come to mind. Our Sunflower production is mostly for seed to grow large crops in other countries such as Russia. Almonds are almost exclusively a California product but even these are grown throughout the entire Valley from Bakersfield to Chico. There is nothing compelling about commodity production compared to the value added by high tech and biotech industry. While i agree that we should not be frivolous in taking land out of production for other economic activities i also believe that when comparing business models we should go with the one that generates the greatest wealth for the most people.

  55. davisite4

    David Greenwald, what invective? I did not call David Morris any names. If I sound angry, it’s because I am. I am angry that someone would start a process like this and then say that he doesn’t have time to address the questions that people have. I am angry when it seems like I am being threatened. I assume that I am allowed to be angry as long as I don’t insult anyone or use any foul language. Is that correct?

  56. Adam Smith

    We should thank David Morris for illuminating many readers about the potential of the Mace 391. Apparently the soon to be resurrected Innovation Task Force (which serves the Davis City Council) also recognized the potential of land in this area for such business park.

    First, how in world did Davis City Staff – Mitch Sears et al – convince the City Council to place a conservation easement on the property, which would prevent the property from ever being able to realize its value on behalf of the City? Seems like we need better alignment of the City Staff and the goals of the City.

    Mr Morris has asked for a no cost option to purchase the property at 3.8MM (the City’s purchase price more than 2 years ago), so that he can seek entitlements. Those terms would significantly undervalue the land in multiple ways. First, Ag land values have increased substantially since the city purchased the land. Secondly, Mr Morris leaves all the risk with the City regarding the zone change. If the property is entitled, he buys for below ag land value and far below the price of industrial land. If the land is not zoned appropriately, the city is stuck with the Mace 391, but gets a small bonus of a few acres for a community garden that is on the far edge of the community.

    There are many better ways to do this for the city. If the city council wishes to the see this process result in a technology park, they could seek to set up a partnership with an appropriate developer to entitle the property. That agreement would contain financial terms which would benefit the city significantly if the entitlements are ultimately successful. Or they could simply option the property at an appropriate price, and then give a developer time to obtain the entitlements. But there is no compelling reason to enter into an agreement with Mr Morris, without first seeking alternatives.

  57. David Morris

    Michael: I said I am presenting a plan to take the land out of the path of residential development. If CCV doesn’t exercise the option it remains in the path of residential development. Your idea that the City can somehow wait everyone out and buy the land is misinformed. The City does not realistically have the financial resources to take down the property.

  58. davisite4

    In what way is it in the path of residential development? Who is planning on residential development on the Shriner’s property? Again, wouldn’t this too be subject to Measure R?

  59. DT Businessman

    In the Morris proposal, the Shriners property is valued somewhere around $3.8M. The city could easily do a deal with Ramos, or another developer, with the Mace 391 property rezoned as research park clearing many times what Morris is offering, then turn around and purchase the Shriners property. Or is Morris saying the Shriners property isn’t worth $3.8M? Then how the heck did he get a purchase option with that strike price?

    Krovoza rightfully pointed out during the May debacle that he was being asked to forego the NCRS grant without being told the details of the Morris proposal. Now we know the details of the Morris deal and I for one cannot understand why the city wouldn’t reject it out of hand. The community owns the land, rezones it, thereby creating all the value and Morris takes the profit. How does that make any sense?

    -Michael Bisch

  60. Mark West

    Michael Bisch: “[i]Mark, this is the perplexing part. The Innovation Park Task Force has been examining a Mace Blvd. innovation park for what 2,3, 4 years? Three of the sitting CC members were members of the task force and they didn’t realize that the conservation easement was going to severly restrict their abilities? How is that possible?[/i]”

    Good question Michael, why don’t you ask them. In truth though, it doesn’t matter. The Innovation Task Force identified the location as a good spot for development and the City owns the land. Seems to me the smartest thing for the City to do is hold on to the land it in its current configuration. There is no need to realize the financial loss of the real estate deals, and cut off future development, just because.

    According to Rob White’s post this morning, the City Council has asked the Innovation Task Force to re-discuss step 4 of their recommendations, including looking at development on this piece of land (presumably with or without David Morris). Are you suggesting that we should just forgo that discussion?

    You clearly are opposed to David Morris’ idea for the property. Fine. Rather than grousing about his proposal (and him), why don’t you suggest a better one.

  61. DT Businessman

    “Your idea that the City can somehow wait everyone out and buy the land is misinformed.”

    According to Morris, the Shriner’s property owner is willing to sell for $3.8M. Why wouldn’t the owner sell to the city for the same price once the Morris purchase option expires? And why wouldn’t Morris transfer the option to the city for some nominal amount once the city makes it clear that it has no interest in pursuing the land swap? The city has all the negotiating power, Morris none.

    Although I see no incentive for the city to work with Morris in his role as a land speculator, I see plenty of opportunity to work with Morris in his original role as part of a group of Davis tech entrepreneurs providing investment capital to Davis startups. That afterall was the stated purpose of techDAVIS.

    So IF we want a tech park at Mace, let’s do it with Ramos and/or some other developer, with the city fully realizing the value that it’s creating, have Rob White attract research companies that desire a Davis presense, and have techDavis, provide the venture capital for UCD spinoffs and stat-ups.

    Win, win, win.

    -Michael Bisch

  62. DT Businessman

    Mark, I already have suggested a better one. Again, if we choose to go this route, we should develop together with the adjacent property owners (Ramos et al), or put out an RFP. Cities do both ALL THE TIME when they wish to develop city owned properties for higher and better uses. Davis has done it as well. This is not rocket science. UC Davis has had thousand of residential units developed on its property. Hello!

    -Michael Bisch

  63. Matt Williams

    davisite4 said . . .

    [i]”If I sound angry, it’s because I am. I am angry that someone would start a process like this and then say that he doesn’t have time to address the questions that people have. [b]I am angry when it seems like I am being threatened.[/b] I assume that I am allowed to be angry as long as I don’t insult anyone or use any foul language. Is that correct?”[/i]

    d4, as has been noted by other posters you were not in any way shape or form threatened, nor were any citizens or residents of Davis threatened. Mr. Morris does not own the Shriners property, so unless and until he does take ownership of the Shriners property he has no say in what the owners of that property do with the property. Me. Morris chose to commit personal money to purchase an option to purchase the Shriners property. He has clearly stated that his intentions for the property are to keep it in its current non-urbanized status, and to invest personal monies in order to enhance its agricultural use (amongst other things as urban farm on the south and a restored riparian habitat on the north). To the best of my knowledge the current owners have no interest in making any of the urban farm or riparian restoration improvements to the site. How does any of those facts constitute threats by Mr. Morris?

  64. Mark West

    Michael Bisch: “[i]Mark, I already have suggested a better one[/i]”

    Your idea can’t move forward with the conservation easement in place. Are you now in agreement that we should forgo the conservation easement at this time?

  65. Adam Smith

    [i]Your idea can’t move forward with the conservation easement in place. Are you now in agreement that we should forgo the conservation easement at this time? [/i]

    I don’t know about DTB, but from my standpoint, there should never have been consideration of a conservation easement on this property. So yes, forego the conservation easement. If this all falls apart, resell the land — ag land values are up significantly since the city’s purchase.

  66. davisite4

    Matt Williams,

    Davis Morris said, “I’m offering a plan to take Shriners out of the path of residential development in exchange for economic development of lands along the freeway.”

    That sounds like a threat to me. if we don’t develop the land along the freeway, we risk impending residential development of Shriners. But I’ve seen no evidence of impending residential development of Shriners. I’ve seen no evidence that Shriners is on that path.

  67. DT Businessman

    Morris is splitting hairs. Whatever the terms of the Morris option, the city can easily match them with the profit to be realized in developing the Mace 391 acres.

    Mark,I have some amount of heartburn whenever a peripheral development is being considered given we have done so little to make FAR more productive use of the land already developed. That said, I could probably get behind a compelling innovation park project. But let’s be clear, what I think about a peripheral project is immaterial. What matters is whether the CC wishes to reverse course. If they do decide to reverse course, the prudent thing to do is to reject the Morris proposal and fully maximize the profit potential of a very valuable city asset.

    -Michael Bisch

  68. DT Businessman

    Matt, I read the Morris comment the same as davisite4. Indeed, it looks like we were replying at virtually the same time with a similar response. The difference is d4 got angry, while I snickered at a threat with no teeth.

    -Michael Bisch

  69. Frankly

    The problem Davis Morris has by talking to some people about the benefit of permanently taking Shriners out of the picture for residential development… or any other development for that matter… is that those people believe they can prevent ANY and ALL development in ALL cases.

    But, I would simply point those people to the Cannery property. Of course that is not a done deal yet, but at some point my expectation is that the NIMBY, no-growth, and too-slow-growth-to-be-considered-as-not-being-no-growth people are going to have their hat and shorts handed to them… and then they will lament the fact that they didn’t take the opportunity given to be reasonable and have a seat at the design and decision table.

    Personally, I think Shriners will go residential if not this CCV project… unless the city buys it… but the city cannot afford to buy it…. The city cannot afford squat.

    One question, is CCV offering to build out the infrastructure as proposed on the Shriners property?

  70. Mark West

    Michael Bisch: “[i]Mark,I have some amount of heartburn whenever a peripheral development is being considered given we have done so little to make FAR more productive use of the land already developed. That said, I could probably get behind a compelling innovation park project.[/i]”

    I completely agree with this.

    [i]But let’s be clear, what I think about a peripheral project is immaterial. What matters is whether the CC wishes to reverse course. If they do decide to reverse course, the prudent thing to do is to reject the Morris proposal and fully maximize the profit potential of a very valuable city asset[/i].

    I agree to a point. The Council should evaluate all the options and choose the one that provides for the best long-term advantage to the City, even if that means delaying the decision for the foreseeable future. As long as the Innovation Task Force believes this property is a good option for future development, it is the conservation easement that should be rejected out of hand. The Council should have done so in June, and should have done so with our without David Morris and his proposal.

  71. DT Businessman

    Honestly, Mark, staff should have gone to council in May without any Morris entanglement. Instead of the discussion being framed the way you have done, it was all about who’s on the board of techDAVIS, what’s the entanglement with Rob White, what are the undisclosed conflicts of interest, what are the details of the Morris proposal, why was some of this being handled in closed session, who knew what when, why was there no formal business community support / why wasn’t the business community informed to provide support, etc. It was a 3 ring circus.

    -Michael Bisch

  72. davisite4

    One thing that has changed is that the City Council has told the NRCS that it is going forward with the easement and the grant. If one thought we would be throwing the Yolo Land Trust under the bus and blackening our eye with the NRCS in June, double that if we back out now. Really, who would want to partner or provide grants to a city that behaved in this way?

  73. DT Businessman

    I meant what had changed as far as all the weirdness that comes with the Morris entanglements? The questions were there in May and there still here in September.

    And while we’re delving into all this weirdness, can someone explain to me why the City is selling conservation easements for roughly $3,000 an acre while it’s buying them for $8 – $10,000? Or do I have my numbers wrong?

    -Michael Bisch

  74. JustSaying

    [quote]” If one thought we would be throwing the Yolo Land Trust under the bus and blackening our eye with the NRCS in June, double that if we back out now. Really, who would want to partner or provide grants to a city that behaved in this way?”[/quote]No need to bring up this threat again. It was thoroughly refuted by NRCS, verbally and in writing, when the council considered the original proposal.

  75. davisite4

    [quote]No need to bring up this threat again. It was thoroughly refuted by NRCS, verbally and in writing, when the council considered the original proposal.[/quote]

    No, it wasn’t. There was an informal email that said, “no hard feelings,” or some such. Plus the criteria explicitly state that success in using grants is a criterion for future grants. We’ve been over this before, too.

  76. Frankly

    [i]Plus the criteria explicitly state that success in using grants is a criterion for future grants. We’ve been over this before, too[/i]

    The NRCS deals with volatile land-use decisions all the time. Unlike some Davis residents, they don’t hold grudges. And even if they did, Davis is a long way away from causing one from NRCS since we are leaders in conservation easements.

    But last I checked, NRCS is part of USDA, which has a big part of its mission in economic development, and is an agency of the federal government biased toward Democrats who are gearing up to get their congressional asses kicked in the next election due to lousy jobs and unemployment numbers… and led by a President that is feeling that heat and telling all his agency heads to support jobs creation.

  77. davisite4

    [quote]The NRCS deals with volatile land-use decisions all the time. [/quote]

    Show me one instance where the NRCS repeatedly extended deadlines on an offered grant, only to be told, yes, yes, we want the grant, yes, yes, we’re doing forward, only to be told, oh no, sorry we sat on your money that could have gone to someone else, we’re flaking out and turning you down after all. And then the NRCS said, oh, ok, but no worries, I’m happy to keep giving you future grants so that you can flake out on us again in the future.

  78. JustSaying

    Give it up, davisite4. NRCS already has responded to this phony contention. The agency had operated this program for a long time, and you have no evidence that anything like what you’re threatening ever has happened. Show me one instance!

  79. Frankly

    davisite4 – I know quite a bit about USDA. I participate in one of their rural lending programs. They have numbers. They have to get the money out. There are not that many communities doing land conservation easements these days… in fact, more communities are trying to get more business in their area to help shore up their broken budgets.

    NRCS will look at any grant as an opportunity.

    Also, the managers of these programs have their performance rated for moving the money. They will look at each grant request on its merit without any bad feelings.

    And in any case, at the rate that federal employees retire, it is likely that we would be dealing with different people every few years.

  80. Matt Williams

    davisite4 said . . .

    [i]”Davis Morris said, “I’m offering a plan to take Shriners out of the path of residential development in exchange for economic development of lands along the freeway.”

    That sounds like a threat to me. if we don’t develop the land along the freeway, we risk impending residential development of Shriners. But I’ve seen no evidence of impending residential development of Shriners. I’ve seen no evidence that Shriners is on that path.”[/i]

    To see a threat in his words takes a logical leap on your part that simply does not compute for me. In one scenario Mr. Morris has a voice in the future of the Shriners property. In the other scenario he has no voice, and any decision about the future of the property rests in the hands of the current owners.

    Rather than delivering a threat, he appears to ge providing an opportunity for Davis that it otherwise wouldn’t have. Am I missing something?

  81. davisite4

    [quote]Give it up, davisite4. NRCS already has responded to this phony contention. The agency had operated this program for a long time, and you have no evidence that anything like what you’re threatening ever has happened. Show me one instance![/quote]

    They responded with an informal email, which has no weight and is counter to their written policy. I have more faith in the written policy. That’s my evidence.

  82. Frankly

    Matt – That is how I see it.

    I have heard through the rumor mill of involved high profile business people working to get a business park in Davis, that failure of this project might very well be their last straw. My sense is that UCD might be watching closely and willing to go to plan B.

    Wouldn’t it be fantastic to read about the university working with Solano County to develop a business park just south and/or west of Davis?

  83. davisite4

    [quote]Rather than delivering a threat, he appears to ge providing an opportunity for Davis that it otherwise wouldn’t have. Am I missing something?[/quote]

    Why does David Morris even bring up the possibility of residential development unless it is to try to scare us?

    I have no idea if he has a voice in the future of Shriners or not. But I know when I am being manipulated. You see opportunity. I see scare tactics. Dire predictions of what will happen to Davis if there is no tech park built are another scare tactic.

  84. Don Shor

    [quote]I have heard through the rumor mill of involved high profile business people working to get a business park in Davis, that failure of this project might very well be their last straw.[/quote]
    Then perhaps they should contact ConAgra.

    [quote]My sense is that UCD might be watching closely and willing to go to plan B.

    Wouldn’t it be fantastic to read about the university working with Solano County to develop a business park just south and/or west of Davis?[/quote]
    I don’t consider a business or innovation park on campus to be in conflict with any of these proposals. It would be fine.

  85. JustSaying

    davisite4, the agency’s official response to the specific question about this specific proposal is clear. The policy doesn’t contradict the agency’s statement in any way. Your reading of a general statement has no application and is not evidence.

    Both parties in this proposed easement have great track records; future proposals will weigh the value of the easement property to the program, and YLT and the city will suffer not one whit if they do not proceed with this one.

    Like Frankly, I have experience that makes this issue very definite for me. You should trust us on this.

    There are dozens of legitimate reasons being offered to proceed with the planned easement and ignore the new proposal. No need to belabor this speculation any more.

  86. davisite4

    [quote]Like Frankly, I have experience that makes this issue very definite for me. You should trust us on this. [/quote]

    I trust the Yolo Land Trust more than two anonymous posters. Go back and listen to the video from June. And if you have any doubt, ask them.

  87. Frankly

    Frankly is very reliable. You can trust me Don.

    [quote]To qualify, farmland must be, or have:

    -part of a pending offer from a State, tribe, or local farmland protection program
    -be privately owned;
    -a conservation plan for highly erodible land
    -large enough to sustain agricultural production
    -accessible to markets for what the land produces
    -adequate infrastructure and agricultural support services
    -surrounding parcels of land that can support long-term agricultural production

    Depending on funding availability, proposals must be submitted by the eligible entities to the appropriate NRCS State Office during the application window.[/quote]
    Here is the money granted through the USDA NRCS Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program…
    [img]http://www.cscdc.org/miscfrank/frlp.jpg[/img]

    Note how far down the list big ol’ CA is?

    NRCS is ALWAYS eager to give us more grants.

    Here you can go through the selection criteria: [url]http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcs142p2_011014.pdf[/url]

    I can’t seem to find the “turned down a past grant, so screw you next time” section.

  88. Frankly

    [i]Then perhaps they should contact ConAgra.[/i]

    Those same people say for sure with all the honesty and conviction of a typical uncaring, unfeeling well-off CEO type, that the Cannery property will simply not meet their needs.

    The is the one cool thing about those greedy one-percenters… they don’t have emotions so you don’t have to worry about that messing up the debate.

  89. davisite4

    [quote]I can’t seem to find the “turned down a past grant, so screw you next time” section.[/quote]

    I believe it’s right here, in this document: [url]http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detailfull/national/programs/farmbill/?&cid=stelprdb1046220[/url]

    Applications must provide, “Evidence of timely FRPP closings. Closing efficiency is the average number of months between the signing of the agreement or agreement amendment (attachment) for funding for a given fiscal year and the closing of the funded parcels. Closing efficiency will be determined based on closing data in the FRPP database.”

    I may not have exactly the correct document, but it was “closing efficiency” that Ms. Clark mentioned in her comments to Council in June. If we turned them down after diddling all that time, our closing efficiency would not be too stellar. And if we turn them down after another year of diddling, after say we were definitely going forward, it looks even worse. And as Ms. Clark said, it looks like CA doesn’t really need funds after all. I don’t see the evidence that NRCS is “always eager” to give us more grants. The fact that we are low down on the list implies the opposite conclusion.

  90. Frankly

    The fact that we are low down on the list is a factor of having fewer applicants, not because USDA-NRCS is holding a grudge.

    I work with these folks all the time. It is not that complicated. You have a need for their allocated money that meets the criteria, then they are eager to get it to you. The more money they move, the more attention their program gets. The more attention their program gets, the more chance they have to renew and possibly increase funding in subsequent years.

    Most of the USDA meetings I attend are related to how to promote their programs and get the money out. The USDA even does that for SNAP even though we have 50 million people using it.

    You are beating an invisible dead horse.

  91. Matt Williams

    Adam Smith said …

    [i]”First, how in world did Davis City Staff – Mitch Sears et al – convince the City Council to place a conservation easement on the property, which would prevent the property from ever being able to realize its value on behalf of the City? Seems like we need better alignment of the City Staff and the goals of the City.”[/i]

    That is a very good question Adam. One that I have asked myself. Based on personal discussions with Mitch and Michele Clark at Yolo Land Trust and Dean Kwasny and Alan Forkney at NRCS my best guess is what I will refer to as the gestation syndrome.

  92. Don Shor

    [quote]convince the City Council to place a conservation easement on the property, which would prevent the property from ever being able to realize its value on behalf of the City?[/quote]
    In the interest of preserving prime farmland and establishing an urban limit for the city, a conservation easement meets particular values for the city quite well. Those are established goals of the city, firmly supported in our planning documents. If you’re trying to protect farmland, the way you do it is by putting the most vulnerable farmland into conservation easements. The most vulnerable farmland is that which is next to an existing urban boundary.

  93. JustSaying

    [quote]“The most vulnerable farmland is that which is next to an existing urban boundary.”[/quote]Not if it’s owned by the city. It’s not at all vulnerable except to the will of the city–which is exactly the rights that the city should should retain.

    The funds should be used to purchase development rights from willing private property owners, principally farmers and ranchers who want a financial boost to keep in business. It’s a bit questionable to me that public funds are being used to buy rights on public lands, in fact.

    The fact that we get so little for what we’re giving up is even more questionable. Why didn’t we know about this before it got so far along, so far that developers had to try a last-minute delay in order for us to learn things were imminent?

  94. Mr.Toad

    The notion that building houses at Shriner’s is a threat is pretty weird. I mean the threat of houses?????? Oh the horror.

    Anyway the land at Shriner’s has no permanent protection from development. I’m sure that Morris is offering protection from development as a carrot not a stick. Sure there is measure R and fierce opposition to development but currently the land is owned in fee without restrictions other than current zoning. There are no conservation easements or other agreements offering protection at this time or going forward currently in effect.

  95. Don Shor

    Frankly: [quote]That is a made-up pseudo fact, and it is quite ridiculous.[/quote]

    [quote]Only about 40 percent of the land in the 11 Valley counties we studied is classified as prime or unique farmland, or farmland of statewide importance — which for simplicity we will call “high quality farmland” throughout this report. Yet, 53 percent of the land developed in the same counties during the 1990s had been classified as high quality farmland.

    Of particular concern is that in five counties — including San Joaquin and Stanislaus*, two of the Valley’s fastest growing counties that are also among the top 10 agricultural producers in the United States — more than 75 percent of all the land developed was high quality land.

    [b]The reason for the disproportionate development of high quality land in the Valley seems fairly straightforward. Most development is occurring immediately around the Valley’s cities[/b].[/quote]
    * and Yolo County.
    Source: [url]http://www.farmland.org/programs/states/futureisnow/qualityoflanddeveloped.asp[/url]

    JustSaying: [quote] It’s a bit questionable to me that public funds are being used to buy rights on public lands, in fact. [/quote]
    That is exactly what Measure O does. [url]http://daviswiki.org/November_2000_Election/Measure_O[/url]
    So you’ll have to take up your objections with the voters.

  96. Mark West

    Don Shor: “[i]If you’re trying to protect farmland, the way you do it is by putting the most vulnerable farmland into conservation easements.[/i]”

    If you are trying to protect economic development opportunities in town you don’t put conservation easements on one of the only two locations that your Innovation Task Force identified as appropriate sites for future development.

  97. Mr.Toad

    It seems that the city levered that measure o money pretty well with road money and Department of Agriculture money. The measure O money is a fraction of the total. All this is happening while the roads are in need of repair and the City is floating a bond to fix them. So its a simple measure O funded it answer.

  98. davisite4

    [quote]I work with these folks all the time.[/quote]

    Again, should I believe the written criteria that I linked to above, which you did not refute, together with the words of Ms. Clark of the Yolo Land Trust? Or should I believe the assurances of an anonymous poster and a vague email from the NRCS that says “no hard feelings” (which means, essentially, nothing)?

    I think any objective person would believe the written criteria and the Yolo Land Trust. It would be bad for us to turn this down after saying we were going forward with it. Not to mention the money for the grant thrown in the toilet for a speculative deal. And the loss of an opportunity to protect the open space ag land with an easement, which as Don Shor has been saying, is what Meausure O does. Values that I support. As do many Davisites.

  99. Mark West

    Davisite4: “protect the open space ag land with an easement, which as Don Shor has been saying”

    Don Shor is not a resident of Davis. You and I may choose to respect his opinion, but he has no say in what we should do.

  100. Adam Smith

    [i]In the interest of preserving prime farmland and establishing an urban limit for the city, a conservation easement meets particular values for the city quite well. Those are established goals of the city, firmly supported in our planning documents. If you’re trying to protect farmland, the way you do it is by putting the most vulnerable farmland into conservation easements. The most vulnerable farmland is that which is next to an existing urban boundary. [/i]

    But the city controls the land it decides to annex, and has a pass through agreement for which it pays a couple of million dollars per year to have control over what happens on its boundaries. What purpose does a conservation easement serve? Future generations of Davisites may not feel the same about peripheral development, or water may become a limiting factor for ag production in Yolo County, and then, the future generations will rue the day this happened.

    Further, the city should not be blocking the development on the few areas in which it has targeted to grow. This location is one of very few with access and visibility to I 80 and the rail road. Seems incredibly short sighted for the city to forever block its development.

    Hopefully Steve Pinkerton will do a better job than his predecessors of coordinating the workings of the individual areas of the staff and advisory boards.

  101. Don Shor

    In general, the method of preserving farmland and preventing urban development into prime agricultural soils involves three tools.
    Urban Growth Boundary (UGB)
    Agricultural Conservation Easements (ACE)
    Purchase of Development Rights (PDR)

    The usual process is to establish ACE’s on the land next to the growth boundary, and then buy development rights for lands beyond that point. That is because the prime ag land next to the urban growth boundary is obviously the most vulnerable to development. That is so obvious that I don’t know why someone like Frankly would call that a “made up pseudo-fact” and “quite ridiculous.” It is logical and provable.
    One journal publication I found describes “a band [of ACE’s] of 3 km width outside the UGB as the most strategic area to preserve farmland.”(Stoms, Jantz, Davis, DeAngelo; http://www.elsevier.com 2008, citing Dietzel et al 2005, if you’re interested).

    Mark: [quote]If you are trying to protect economic development opportunities in town you don’t put conservation easements on one of the only two locations that your Innovation Task Force identified as appropriate sites for future development.[/quote]
    It should be obvious to anyone who has been following these issues that we have here a classic conflict between values: conserving good farmland vs. economic development. The principle I follow is that a city in the midst of high-quality farmland should prioritize development to areas of lower quality soils. Mace isn’t the only place for a business park. There are two other sites, and if we exclude the Cannery site we still have one other site. So you choose the poorer soil for the business park.

  102. Don Shor

    [quote]Don Shor is not a resident of Davis. You and I may choose to respect his opinion, but he has no say in what we should do.[/quote]
    I am a property owner, business owner, longtime community member. I pay taxes here, and I generate sales tax for the city of Davis. My children attended school at DJUSD from K – 12. I was on school committees, I donate regularly to the schools and to community events and charities.
    How about you?

  103. davisite4

    [quote]Don Shor is not a resident of Davis. You and I may choose to respect his opinion, but he has no say in what we should do.[/quote]

    So what? He is right about what Measure O is for and how it works. If you don’t want to believe that because he isn’ t a Davis citizen (that’s a pretty weird reason to disbelive someone) look it up for yourself. Your comment is irrelevant and seems intended only to try to discredit Don Shor. Don Shor has a business in Davis and other connections to Davis and thus has an interest in what happens to it, whether he gets a vote or not.

  104. Mark West

    “we have here a classic conflict between values: conserving good farmland vs. economic development.”

    Not at all. The Innovation Task Force identified two sites appropriate for economic development around the City (as Rob White pointed out a third site was added as a re-development option). Two site out of the multitude of possible sites around the City. The only conflict is between people (like you) who want to block all development in town, and those that want an economically vibrant future for Davis. The two sites that were identified should remain available for development into the future. Whether or not the City ever chooses to develop them is a completely different issue.

  105. DT Businessman

    Don Shor, for the reasons he has stated, is as vested in the welfare of this community as anyone. Not that his opinion amounts to a hill of beans. 🙂

    Don makes a very obvious point. Mace Blvd. is an area of competing community priorities. For reasons that are not clear to me, he uses soil quality to favor the ag preservation priority over the economic development priority. I’m not following the logic that we should be elevating a criteria that is critical to ag preservation, soil quality, over a criteria that is critical to economic development, location.

    I readily admit that I am very conflicted on this issue. I really cringe at the notion of peripheral development when the already developed area is so low density and inefficient. On the other hand, we are currently imcapable of funding the services that our community values; therefore, increased revenue is critical to our community sustainability. It’s a real conundrum. But it makes it even more important that we get the biggest bang for our buck from every opportunity. I’m not suggesting that we always seek the perfect development. But I sure as shit am opposed to walking away leaving large sums of money laying on the table.

    -Michael Bisch

  106. Don Shor

    The Innovation Task Force was not charged with identifying high-quality farmland, or preserving open space, or conservation of natural resources. It is one commission of many, and those commissions reflect different values. The conservation easement has been reviewed, if I recall, by various other commissions as part of the long, public process of moving toward the decision that was ratified in June 2013.
    [quote]The only conflict is between people (like you) who want to block all development in town[/quote]
    That, of course, is not true. I have repeatedly stated where I support development. Why you would, like Frankly, choose to misrepresent my position on growth and development, I don’t know.

  107. Frankly

    [i]The most vulnerable farmland is that which is next to an existing urban boundary

    That is a made-up pseudo fact, and it is quite ridiculous.[/i]

    Don, I owe you an apology. I read the word “valuable” and not “vulnerable”. My bad.

    I understand your point, but then I make the same point that land next to existing urbam boundaries in the most vulnerable for being blocked from economic development.

  108. JustSaying

    [quote]“It’s a bit questionable to me that public funds are being used to buy rights on public lands, in fact.”

    “That is exactly what Measure O does. http://daviswiki.org/November_…/Measure_O
    So you’ll have to take up your objections with the voters.”[/quote]I thought it was clear that I was talking about federal funds, the ones that would pay the $1-million total pittance for eternity. I said nothing about Measure O.

    When the city already has all rights, why would federal funds be needed–that was my concern.

    And, the more this discussion goes on, the more I wonder who made the decision to sell off these rights for such an amount?

    And, where was the community notice that this was under consideration before it snuck onto the agenda two ninths ago? Obviously, this is a giant public issue, worth far more discussion than 50 plastic bag bans.

  109. JustSaying

    [quote]DS–“The most vulnerable farmland is that which is next to an existing urban boundary.”

    JS–“Not if it’s owned by the city. It’s not at all vulnerable except to the will of the city–which is exactly the rights that the city should should retain.” [/quote]I’m still interested in why you think this parcel is “vulnerable.” Vulnerable to what?

  110. DT Businessman

    Justsaying, to your point, why was this not being discussed at the Innovation Park Task Force all those years? Or maybe it was, I have no idea. There’s only so many things I can track.

    -Michael Bisch

  111. Mark West

    davisite4: “Your comment is irrelevant and seems intended only to try to discredit Don Shor”

    That is a reasonable concern on your part. But then…

    Frankly: “Wouldn’t it be fantastic to read about the university working with Solano County to develop a business park just south and/or west of Davis?”

    Don Shor: “[b]I don’t consider a business or innovation park on campus to be in conflict[/b] with any of these proposals. [b]It would be fine[/b].”

    A business park on campus or in Solano County will add nothing to the tax base in Davis, yet Don is fine with it. I believe that makes his place of residence a perfectly reasonable question. I don’t know where he lives, only that it is not in Davis.

  112. Adam Smith

    Preserving farmland is quite different than effectively blocking the development of one of the best located parcels for a business park – far superior to the Con Agra property. Again, the city controls all angles with respect to development of this parcel. There is absolutely no reason to block its development in perpetuity, by selling off the development rights for a mere pittance of what they would be worth if the marketplace understood that there was some reasonable likelihood that the Mace 391 could be valued as a business park.

  113. JustSaying

    [quote]Eligible land (for NRCS easement cost-sharing) must:

    –Be privately owned
    –Contain at least 50% prime, unique, statewide, or locally important farmland
    –Be subject of a pending (easement) offer (from NGO, state or local govt.)
    –Contain cropland, grassland, pasture land, or forest land that contributes to the economic viability of an agricultural operation

    The eligibility of the land and the landowner for each parcel must be established at the time the parcel is submitted for potential funding.

    Landowners also must meet the adjusted gross income limitation, earning less than $1 million in non-farm income for each of the past three years, unless more than 66% of the total gross income was from farm income.[/quote] Hmmm.

  114. davisite4

    Don Shor: “I don’t consider a business or innovation park on campus to be in conflict with any of these proposals. It would be fine.”

    Mark West: A business park on campus or in Solano County will add nothing to the tax base in Davis, yet Don is fine with it. I believe that makes his place of residence a perfectly reasonable question. I don’t know where he lives, only that it is not in Davis.

    We can argue the pros and cons of a business park in that location, but so what? That’s not the issue at hand. Nor is the issue at hand the credibility of Don Shor. I am going to judge his comments, and everyone else’s comments, one at a time, on their grounding in logic and facts. It does not seem to me to be unreasonable to think that a business park on or near campus might benefit the city of Davis in a variety of ways. But I haven’t really thought about it, and since that is not the issue on the table, I don’t see any point in thinking about it at this time.

    Don Shor is still right about Measure O, no matter which way you try to discredit him.

  115. Don Shor

    [quote]A business park on campus or in Solano County will add nothing to the tax base in Davis, yet Don is fine with it. I believe that makes his place of residence a perfectly reasonable question. I don’t know where he lives, only that it is not in Davis. [/quote]
    Oh, I see.
    I live on a farm outside of Dixon, down the freeway in Solano County. Though I don’t think you’re implying this, I would gain nothing from development of property adjacent to UC Davis in Solano County. Also, with respect to any landowners there who might seem to benefit from such development, remember that Solano County has a strict county-wide policy prohibiting development of farmland. UC can do whatever it wants with its own land, but the neighboring landowners aren’t likely to benefit in any way. And I’m definitely not one of them.
    I don’t think that an innovation park on campus would be a bad thing at all. Or some sites on Nishi for startups. Or some infill properties in South Davis or along Second Street. I think we could use all of those things.
    Obviously, for the tax benefits for Davis per se, it is best when that occurs within the city limits. But the county benefits, and god knows Yolo County needs money, from business development outside the city limits. And Davis gets the multiplier effect of any business development on UC property, inasmuch as a large percentage of those employees who work at such a site would spend money in Davis and many would probably live in Davis.
    [quote]There is absolutely no reason to block its development in perpetuity, by selling off the development rights for a mere pittance of what they would be worth if the marketplace understood that there was some reasonable likelihood that the Mace 391 could be valued as a business park.[/quote]
    Certainly there is, if your goal is to make and maintain an urban growth boundary. Once you develop that site, the next parcel over is vulnerable. And the next, and the next. Basically this whole argument is about what the urban growth limit for Davis should be, and what should be the criteria used to establish it. If Disney was proposing a theme park, or some racetrack owner in the Bay Area wanted to put a racetrack east of Davis, those would certainly bring jobs and taxes and other things to Davis. But there would be downsides, eh?

    [i]There’s always a higher land use value than farming.[/i] Always. That’s why you establish a policy designed to protect farmland, make an urban boundary, and stick to it, rather than debating it one parcel at a time. Michael Bisch has unwittingly illustrated the problem with his suggestion of developing [i]even more[/i] of the East Davis farmland into a business park. That threat is always there. There’s always a land developer who has a higher-profit alternative. That is why you put the best farmland that is on the edge of town into a permanent conservation status.

  116. DT Businessman

    Adam, I agree. It really is astonishing why any CC would give up so much value so cheaply either by means of a conservation easement or the Morris proposal. One really has to wonder who is negotiating on behalf of the community? It’s as if the work of the Innovation Park Task Force occurred in a vacuum.

    -Michael Bisch

  117. Adam Smith

    [i]Certainly there is, if your goal is to make and maintain an urban growth boundary. [/i]

    I agree that this city council should be able to determine an urban limit boundary for the citizens who live here today. They do this through annexation (or not) and zoning. I don’t believe that the no growthers should be able to set the urban limit line in perpetuity for future Davisites who may have a completely different set of values.

  118. Don Shor

    [quote]Preserving farmland is quite different than effectively blocking the development of one of the best located parcels for a business park – far superior to the Con Agra property.[/quote]
    I’ve pretty much given up on ConAgra at this point. I think they’ve got the votes. But the other site, if I recall, is the Parlin property, part of Northwest Quadrant, near the hospital.
    As to location, we seem to be being told that there is so much demand, that this is so urgent, that companies are flocking away from Davis for lack of sites, businesses that are genuinely anxious to locate here — that location doesn’t seem like it’ll be an issue. Build it somewhere, and it will fill up almost instantly, is the impression I’m getting.

  119. JustSaying

    [quote]“Or maybe it was, I have no idea. There’s only so many things I can track.”[/quote]You’d better get on top of things, Michael. We’ll probably find out that, over the past two years, this has had a series of three or four staff reports to the council, a couple hours of public comment, debate about the benefit-cost considerations, alternatives evaluations, etc.

    But, it surprises me that something this important would come to my attention for the first time a couple months ago.

    And, as you remember, the entire discussion then was about process and the thought that developers wanted to sneak something through to overturn an easement that already had community vetting.

    Nobody even made an effort then to sell the idea that the easement was needed in the first place. I think we all assumed that we already were all aboard that train. I just don’t recollect when it rolled through.

  120. Don Shor

    [quote]It’s as if the work of the Innovation Park Task Force occurred in a vacuum. [/quote]
    I think it would be more accurate to say that some of our city commissions act at cross-purposes to each other. Or are enacted and instructed to make recommendations based on different values. Don’t you think the Open Space and Habitat Commission might reflect different perspectives and council directives than the Innovation Task Force Commission?

  121. Mark West

    JustSaying: “[i]But, it surprises me that something this important would come to my attention for the first time a couple months ago.[/i]”

    Exactly! This was being pushed through without public involvement. There was no discussion of the merits of this easement.

  122. Matt Williams

    On Monday I called out Don for leveling [i]ad hominem[/i] attacks on David Morris rather than engaging the proposal at hand. In fairness the attacks on Don in this thread have been the same kind of shoot the messenger [i]ad hominem[/i] attacks. They are no more appropriate here tonight than they were on Monday night.

    Don personally, and Redwood Barn Nursery as a business, are significant positive contributors to the quality of life in Davis. Any statement or intimation otherwise is wholly and completely inaccurate. That would be like saying “Matt Williams never saw a development proposal that he didn’t like.”

  123. JustSaying

    [quote]“I don’t believe that the no growthers should be able to set the urban limit line in perpetuity for future Davisites who may have a completely different set of values.”[/quote]This, I think, is key to all of the back-and-forth that goes on here. Some folks have decided that Davis should not expand another foot east or north, and that future citizens and our city council should be forced to accept not only the values but also the needs of those of us who lived here in 2010.

    How presumptuous and foolish. Selling development rights to city-owned land just because we can’t trust elected leaders in 2085 or future generations to make the same decisions we want to make today?

    What happens when the city wants to develop yet another business park or housing development on the edge of town? We’ll be forced into…OMG!..leapfrog development–right over our chunk of ideal property that’s doomed to life as a quaint little farm.

  124. Mark West

    Don Shor: “Though I don’t think you’re implying this, I would gain nothing from development of property adjacent to UC Davis in Solano County.”

    I am not saying that you would benefit personally from this, I am pointing out that by your own words you are fine with Solano County getting the tax benefits of an innovation park and suggesting/implying that is because you are a resident of Solano County and not a resident of Davis. The topic at hand though is Davis, not Solano County, and therefor your opinion is of questionable value.

  125. Don Shor

    [quote]I agree that this city council should be able to determine an urban limit boundary for the citizens who live here today. They do this through annexation (or not) and zoning. I don’t believe that the no growthers should be able to set the urban limit line in perpetuity for future Davisites who may have a completely different set of values.[/quote]
    Ag conservation easements are a pretty standard tool for establishing a permanent urban limit, used in lots of places with varying degrees of effectiveness. They’re more effective if they’re part of an overall strategy, not just done piecemeal, but unfortunately this kind of thing is more often reactive. I.e., it is a response to a particular proposal. I’d much rather see a bigger plan that makes an urban limit line based on sound criteria [i]including[/i] soil conservation, habitat, open space, etc. Economic development potential could be a [i]part[/i] of that, but something needs to balance the profitability of land development against its other, less quantifiable values.

    A county-wide policy, such as Solano and Napa counties have, has many advantages. It can be made to sunset, subject to voter renewal (both Solano and Napa county voters recently renewed theirs). But we don’t have that here. Zoning is a very weak tool for preventing urban expansion onto farmland.

  126. Don Shor

    [quote]The topic at hand though is Davis, not Solano County, and therefor your opinion is of questionable value.[/quote]
    But Mark, as a business owner and land owner and community member in Davis, what happens here is of considerable interest to me at many levels. I don’t understand why you are persisting in personalizing this issue.

  127. Don Shor

    JustSaying: [quote]How presumptuous and foolish. Selling development rights to city-owned land just because we can’t trust elected leaders in 2085 or future generations to make the same decisions we want to make today? [/quote]
    Cities do that [i]all the time[/i]. Ag conservation easements are standard tools of land use planning. You are way beyond tilting at windmills if you think you are going to stop this basic practice which is widely used to establish urban growth limits. Are you saying you don’t think cities should ever use conservation easements? Would you like to see a map of how many there are already in Yolo County? Would you like links to articles about how widely they are used all around the Bay Area to do precisely what you are railing against?

    Seriously, folks: perpetual conservation easements are normal, common, and useful. They are used because they can be very effective in reducing the pressure to develop certain areas. There is an entire real estate market for land speculators, and it is based on people investing in the long-term increase in value of land based on its possible development someday. All you’re doing is saying ‘this parcel isn’t going to develop; take your plans and dollars elsewhere’.

  128. Robb Davis

    Wow–step away from the Vanguard for a few hours and it becomes almost impossible to catch up. However, this has sorted itself into a fairly straightforward disagreement about land use, if and how to expand the City, how and where to create an new business park and what to do about a critical resource (ag land). And there ARE some fundamental disagreements (no shock there).

    So, I think it is time for Davis’ version of a “Grand Bargain”. Let’s get all the landowners of peripheral properties together (including the City), huddle over some maps and have a facilitated discussion about limits, and parks, and swaps. I know, I know, this kind of thing never happens. BUT, all the landowners and stakeholders involved speak of their concern for the future of Davis and we are not talking about a HUGE group, so… let’s name the needs, examine the opportunities and discuss the tradeoffs. Let’s look at the whole, hammer out a bargain that allows landowners to keep their shirts and then put the whole thing to one big Measure R vote. There are certainly enough smart people in this town to pull this off. So let’s have the big, open dialogue we need.

    (And even though folks like Matt and Don don’t live in Davis, I think they should be allowed to participate)

  129. davisite4

    Some of you need to read the text of Measure O. See, for example:

    [quote]http://qcode.us/codes/davis/view.php?topic=15-15_17-15_17_010&frames=on[/quote]

    (the rest of the text is accessible from the same location).

    [i]The special tax levied in this article, if approved by two-thirds of the voters voting on the special tax will provide revenue for the acquisition, operation, and maintenance of lands and [b]easements[/b] for open space, habitat and agricultural uses and preservation in the areas surrounding the city.[/i]

    More than 2/3 of Davis’s citizens voted to tax themselves for the purpose of preserving open space through easements. The City Council, city staff, and city commissions have done nothing shady. They have been acting in accordance with the will of the voters.

  130. JustSaying

    [quote]“You are way beyond tilting at windmills if you think you are going to stop this basic practice which is widely used to establish urban growth limits. Are you saying you don’t think cities should ever use conservation easements?”[/quote]Of course, I’m not saying that. You’re taking my concerns much farther than I intended them.

    I’m for conservation easements to protect special places and for establishing growth limits. I just think the growth limit should not be set at the present city limits and locked in with a perpetual easement unless it happens to be there to protect some unique feature.

    I think an in-perpetuity decision should involve more of the community, particularly for something this close in.

    I also think that a community like ours, completely surrounded by great farmland, needs to maintain more flexibility. Most land well suited for agriculture also is well suited for urban development. Eventually, Davis may want or need to grow more than we anticipate today.

    Furthermore, a town whose growth is so impacted by things so out of our control (UCD-driven, of course) needs to plan for even more flexibility.

    Constricting our city limits with conservation easements (as opposed to using them for carefully determined outside growth limits) means that the university’s unilateral actions will change our community in ways we might not want.

  131. Linden

    It would seem to me that it would be more in accordance with Davis (in general} if we just put this tech park proposal to a vote of the people. This way the whole community gets to make the decision on this issue, not just a segment of the population. We should all have a right to weigh in on how our Measure O tax money is going to be spent, particularly in this case.

  132. Adam Smith

    [i]Zoning is a very weak tool for preventing urban expansion onto farmland. [/i]

    Perhaps, but that is because of poor general planning and weak leadership. Urban limit boundaries and zoning should not be permanently limited via conservation easements, especially when they are set immediately adjacent to the existing development. What else is as permanent as a conservation easement? Buildings can be razed, parks built on top of landfills, adaptive reuse is common. But not with a conservation easement — it is until perpetuity.

  133. David Morris

    In the staff report, Mitch Sears projects that the City will sell Mace 391 for approximately $1.35M. CCV is offering to buy the property for $3.8M – the price the city originally (over)paid for the land. In addition, CCV will extinguish the development rights on Shriners if we exercise the option to purchase Mace 391 (which are worth more than fee title to Mace 391). Add all this to the expense of an entitlement action, and the aggregate cost for the proposal is marginally worth taking the entitlement risk. At the end of the day, if the initiative fails, everything is back to status quo accept that the City has a community farm site served by a bike undercrossing and a signalized intersection and CCV has lost a pile of money. I am proposing this because I believe it is the right thing to do for the community. Thanks for all the constructive comments. Much food for thought.

  134. medwoman

    Mark West and any who have posted the desire for a “vibrant” community

    “economically vibrant future for Davis.”

    I see this phrase used frequently to describe a goal for Davis. I do not have the vaguest idea what this means to those who use it despite having asked on many occasions. I have stated explicitly my preferences for our community. I favor growth as slow as is tenable with law and the economic development and housing needs ( not wants) of our major affiliated driving force, the University.

    When one buys a home, one decides on what size based on what one can afford, what is available and personal preferences.
    If one is going to build on their own land, one uses a blue print and cost estimates. But you have to have designed the p,an and made the cost estimates first. Would any of you just start building on the basis of the phrase I want a big house to entertain lots of people?

    I am asking what I perceive as some simple questions:
    1) What do you consider the optimal amount of land for a tech park What is too small, is there such a thing as too large, and why ?
    2) What would you see as the largest company whose needs could be accommodated by Davis and/ or how many such companies can you envision fitting into the existing parcels being discussed ? How many employees would that entail ?
    3) What do you see as your preferred population for Davis, and why ?
    4) What do you mean when you use the word “vibrant” .
    Every fall when the students arrive our town increases effectively in size from 65K to 90K give or take a few.
    From my point of view we have a very vibrant (showing great life, activity, and energy) for most of the year.
    Since I live near downtown and walk through almost daily, I see this activity which already exceedes that
    of any of our surrounding communities ( Woodland,Winters,Vacaville,Dixon ). So please, in numbers,
    or dollars, or by something more tangible than a pretty buzz word, do you mean by “vibrant”?

  135. medwoman

    David Morris

    First, I want to thank you for your invitation to coffee and a personal conversation. I would enjoy meeting you and hearing your perspective.
    However, I use the Vanguard as a format for the public discussion of issues. Many times I have learned something new or seen things in a different way by reading about people’s concerns here. Especially those who see the world dramatically differently from my perspective.
    The public aspect of the discussion and different points of view is lost in a one on one discussion.

    I know from personal experience how hard it is to keep track of all of the questions that come in when you post an article.
    So, I am patient and Don has graciously shown his willingness to repost when issues get lost. I would prefer to get answers to my questions here
    where all can see the discussion and then consider a personal meeting if questions of a more individual nature remain.

  136. Mr.Toad

    I too have been out of the loop on the purchase and financing of this property. I imagine there are good reasons for that to have happened. Let me speculate how this might have come to pass.

    During the great real estate bust of the last few years this property goes into foreclosure and the city is presented with an opportunity to buy the land out of foreclosure cheaply. Currently farmland is going for about $15,000/acre, around $7.5 million is the current value just as farmland, but might have been less at the time. More likely the bank wanted the cash and the property off its books and sold it to the city for a discounted amount based on what the bank was owed.

    The City wanted to do the deal without much attention to prevent other potential bidders like what happened with Conaway Ranch when PG&E sold it. So the City had to quietly come up with the financing because it only had a small portion of the money from Measure O funds. As a result the City came up with a complicated scheme of tapping road funds, leaving the streets in disrepair and rapidly degrading (a part of the story that I think is under appreciated and misunderstood by the budget bashers here at the Vanguard). The City also came up with this land trust scheme to try to recover the road repair funds even though this meant locking up the land forever.

    As the conservation easement deal was getting ready to close somebody in the opaque machinations of Davis politics decided it was in the best interest of the City to stop the train. Was it a council member or staff member? I have no idea beyond my private speculations, but as has been laid out here by many with differing opinions including David Morris, Michael Bisch, Mark West, the renowned economist Adam Smith and myself who led off by calling it a no brainer to go a different way, a fuller, more transparent process would likely convince the community that the value added by developing the land as a business park would be far more beneficial to the community than preserving it in perpetuity. The Council, having examined the cost benefit analysis of the easement proposal was ready to quietly go a different way when somebody broke the story and the council pulled the plug in a way that turned out to be a temporary setback for developing the property.

    My guess is that the numbers are hugely in favor of development. Simply reading all the incentives David Morris is proposing gives you a taste of what is at stake. What i believe is needed now is a full open public discussion by the city on the merits of the competing visions. The time for quiet dealing and decision making on this issue is past. A full debate and possibly a popular election are merited. I think it was Dan Wolk who pointed out that the problem was the process not the decision to go a different way. I agree and I think the community will too when presented with all the facts because at the end of the day this one is a no brainer.

  137. Frankly

    Mr. Toad – Great closing statement. It summarizes the story I currently play in my head.

    To add context to this and other stories related to the actions of the city, one has to consider a few things.

    – The city has plenty of employee, but not enough with authority and skills to champion and manage big development projects.

    – The city employees are motivated to move the ball in ways that help them with job and benefits security.

    – The politics of Davis make getting almost anything done painfully slow to impossible. Sometimes it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission in these types of dysfunctional decision environments. Also, often the squeaky wheel is the clear minority, and making some unilateral decisions are politically safe even though it might cause that minority to go off in rage for not being told or not being allowed to participate in the decision.

    Don Shor and several others have made it clear (despite the nuanced attempts to paint it as otherwise), that they do not want any significant business development. They see Measures O and R as some perpetual proof that they stand on the high moral democratic ground. I sense that things have changed. I think the council senses the same.

    As late as early 2008, even though we were talking about the budget problems, in February of 2008 the national REAL unemployment rate was 4.9, property owners and those with investments in the financial markets still felt well-off. They saw the city budget problems as temporary, but delay able.

    That belief has been largely wiped away to be replaced with a genuine concern about individual and municipal financial viability. I don’t know… maybe Don and medwoman only hang with people at the high and low ends of the socioeconomic spectrum. One has it made, and the other gets taken care of. Most of the people I know are middle class folk and their views have drastically changed over the last five years.

    One last point I will make.

    Having participated in many discussions about many topics here, there continues to be a gap I have not been able to fill explaining why otherwise very intelligent and caring people on this blog would be so adamant about blocking economic development projects that would clearly benefit residents and the city. Here is what I have come up with to fill that gap. They are afraid that Davis’s politics will change. They are afraid that the ratio of left-leaning to moderate or right-leaning voters will change. That is the only conclusion that make any sense at this point. Because nobody loves farmland that much.

  138. DT Businessman

    There’s been some distortions overnight and this morning that I’d like to address:

    1) I did not say, and I do not support, revisiting the NCRS grant and the conservation easement. Peripheral development of any kind requires a very compelling case to gain my support, particularly in the absence of consequential action to make far better use of already developed land.

    2) The NCRS grant / conservation easement train has left the train and is far down the tracks. The time to have had the conversation regarding the competing community priorities centered at Mace 391 was 2 years ago, maybe even a year ago. The conversation now is all distorted by time pressures and after the fact.

    3) Why the Mace 391 community conversation failed to materialize 2 years is a mystery to me. The NRC was doing it’s thing, the Innovation Park Task Force it’s thing, there was overlap between the two in staff and and council members, why the disconnect?

    4) We can still have a productive community conversation regarding a smaller, but still substantial, innovation park on the Ramos and adjacent property. Instead, that conversation is being undermined by the controversy over the Mace 391 property. I don’t necessarily support such a project (the peripheral heartburn thing), but it’s a conversation that is definitely worth having and I only have 1 vote anyway.

    5)Matt’s complaints about attacks on Morris is really rubbing me the wrong way. I flew over a number of comments without fully reading them, particularly when they were off topic, but I don’t recall seeing attacks on Morris. I read, and I posted, numerous comments critical of the Morris proposal. I also read, and I posted, a number of comments regarding the unnecessary distractions Morris was bringing to the debate thereby undermining a substantive community debate. Furthermore, I’m having trouble understanding why Matt has failed to turn his passion for number crunching to the Morris proposal. Matt has compared the Morris proposal to the NCRS grant / conservation easement, but he has utterly failed to compare the Morris proposal to other possibilites such as a City RFP, City co-developing with adjacent property owners, etc. Why Matt has supported revisiting the Mace 391 property, but constraining the analysis to just 2 of many options is a mystery to me.

    6) It is beyond weird to submit a proposal for public discussion on the VG and then either not respond to questions and comments and/or to respond with, “Hey, let’s take this discussion offline”. Especially after the first attempt was on CONSENT CALENDAR, popping up out of nowhere, where no public discussion was forseen at all. What the hell is that all about?

    -Michael Bisch

  139. Matt Williams

    Michael Bisch said . . .

    [i]”Matt’s complaints about attacks on Morris is really rubbing me the wrong way.”[/i]

    Michael, go back and reread my “complaints” about attacks in [u]this thread[/u]. Those were about “attacks” on Don Shor, not on Dave Morris, and those “attacks” on Don were not made by you, they were made by Mark West. As they say in school, reading is fundamental.

    Michael Bisch said . . .

    [i]”Matt has compared the Morris proposal to the NCRS grant / conservation easement, but he has utterly failed to compare the Morris proposal to other possibilites such as a City RFP, City co-developing with adjacent property owners, etc. [b]Why Matt has supported revisiting the Mace 391 property, but constraining the analysis to just 2 of many options is a mystery to me.[/b]”[/i]

    It is not a mystery to me.
    — The simple reason is that no one has laid out any fiscal specifics for a City RFP scenario.
    — No one has laid out any fiscal specifics for a City co-developing with adjacent property owners scenario.
    — No one has laid out any fiscal specifics for an etc scenario.
    — Give me some specifics and in my role as a dispassionate analyst, I will be glad to crunch the numbers provided.
    — The sooner you get the numbers of those alternative scenarios to me the sooner I will be able to supplement the currently binary NRCS grant vs. Morris proposal analysis.
    — Do you have access to the numbers for those alternative scenarios Michael?

  140. davisite4

    [quote]Because nobody loves farmland that much.[/quote]

    Yes, we do. We love having food grown all around us and value what our region of the country can provide for us and for the rest of the world. We worry about the loss of farmland in California and the U.S. We like the idea of growing locally.

    We also love open space and defined borders. We hate sprawl. We’ve seen it, it’s ugly and unpleasant, and we don’t want to live in it.

    We like living in a medium-sized town and aren’t looking for explosive growth. If we wanted to live in a city, we’d move to Sacramento. We like that our traffic is manageable and that when we go downtown, we see people we know.

    We aren’t persuaded by the scare tactics that we will be in dire straits (of one form or another) unless this business park is built. We think there are better locations that aren’t being explored, locations that don’t use up prime farmland, eliminate open space, or produce sprawl.

    Some of you might not care about the things I’ve talked about here, or care about them to the same extent. But you don’t get anywhere by denying that many of us do care that much. You can talk about the money side of things all you want, but you will not be addressing our concerns by doing so.

  141. Don Shor

    Frankly: [quote]Don Shor and several others have made it clear (despite the nuanced attempts to paint it as otherwise), that they do not want any significant business development. [/quote]
    Complete crap. A total lie. Yet you continue to perpetuate this completely dishonest misrepresentation of my views. Why do you continue to lie about my positions on economic development?

  142. Don Shor

    [quote]maybe Don and medwoman only hang with people at the high and low ends of the socioeconomic spectrum. One has it made, and the other gets taken care of.[/quote]
    You know I’m in retail, right? So I interact with people at all ends of the socioeconomic spectrum every day, right? I think I probably interact with a much wider cross-section of the socioeconomic spectrum than you do on a daily basis. So again: nonsense.

  143. Don Shor

    [quote]They see Measures O and R as some perpetual proof that they stand on the high moral democratic ground. I sense that things have changed. I think the council senses the same. [/quote]
    I believe those measures, among others, reflect the will of the populace and electorate as best we can discern, since they are proven outcomes. If you believe otherwise, I will say this again: get something reflecting your views about development on the ballot. A measure to modify or rescind Measure R. A measure to overturn Measure H. Any of those will be fine. I will be very, very, very willing to wager on the outcome, and my wager will be that you are dead wrong about the ‘changed’ mood of the Davis electorate.
    Measure R renewed Measure J by a much higher margin than J originally passed. That’s evidence for my view. What evidence do you have for yours? Go ahead: get the council to put something on the ballot.

  144. JustSaying

    “The time to have had the conversation regarding the competing community priorities centered at Mace 391 was 2 years ago, maybe even a year ago. The conversation now is all distorted by time pressures and after the fact. Why the Mace 391 community conversation failed to materialize 2 years is a mystery to me. The NRC was doing it’s thing, the Innovation Park Task Force it’s thing, there was overlap between the two in staff and and council members, why the disconnect?”

    How could the community have had any discussion about this a year or two ago when one of our commissions didn’t even know another was rolling along?

    But, even if the NRCS million-dollar cost-share offer got this far without community discussion, it doesn’t need go any farther if it doesn’t well serve the needs of the community. The council didn’t even take a close look at it when it popped up on the consent calendar because of a competing proposal.

    I’m trying to look back further to see who came up with this idea and why and how the council considered it in the past. I haven’t yet found anything and would welcome and appreciate a reference or link or something from anyone who knows how to locate the background.

    I understand and share your irritation about how these recent alternatives are getting dropped on the citizenry. The good thing is that they make clear that there’s opportunity to revisit our plans with a better outcome almost guaranteed whether or not we go with the David Morris proposal.

    It’s never too late to correct a bad decision, unless it’s one that goes in perpetuity for peanuts. All of us get to rethink our efforts to deal with eternity right up until our last call. The city should reconsider now.

  145. Frankly

    [quote]Yes, we do. We love having food grown all around us and value what our region of the country can provide for us and for the rest of the world. We worry about the loss of farmland in California and the U.S. We like the idea of growing locally[/quote]
    A business park has non-material impact on any of these things except irrational worry. For that you must seek the help of certain medical practitioners.
    [quote]We also love open space and defined borders. We hate sprawl.[/quote]
    Open space can be designed into all development. “Defined borders” is a stupid, selfish, irrational and unreasonable concept unless you can cite the definitive impacts you are trying to prevent (other than “preserve farmland… which gets us back to my original point that nobody loves farmland that much).
    [quote]We like living in a medium-sized town and aren’t looking for explosive growth.[/quote]
    Fine. Read that again over and over again. Who is recommending explosive growth? As I have shown the data for over and over and over again, ALL comparable CA cities that are medium-sized have significantly more firms, jobs and business tax revenue per capita. Again – here is that sign of irrational thinking (or just feeling?)
    [quote]We aren’t persuaded by the scare tactics that we will be in dire straits (of one form or another) unless this business park is built. We think there are better locations that aren’t being explored, locations that don’t use up prime farmland, eliminate open space, or produce sprawl. [/quote]
    Quite ironic. You claim that you are not going to be swayed by the fear tactics of our city heading toward bankruptcy, overpriced real estate, too few jobs… and then you throw out the extreme fear tactics of sprawl, loss of open space and loss of farm land. Are you really that blind to the hypocrisy of your arguments? Again, another indication that you are irrational on this.
    [quote]Some of you might not care about the things I’ve talked about here, or care about them to the same extent.[/quote]
    It is obvious you care, but I don’t think you even know what you REALLY care about to warrant such extreme claims and positions. Either that or you are setting up proxy positions to hide your true intent.

    With this business park, we – the people of Davis and the people of the region and the people of CA – are not materially impacting any loss of open space or farmland, and we are not causing sprawl in a city that is already one of the most population dense medium-sized cities in CA.

    The way I look at it… over all the years we have been successful preventing sprawl and preserving open space and farmland, we have earned plenty of chips that we can spend on a business park.

    You guys run around and cry the the sky is falling. It is not.

  146. Don Shor

    [quote]over all the years we have been successful preventing sprawl and preserving open space and farmland, we have earned plenty of chips that we can spend on a business park. [/quote]
    Sure. Right next to the hospital. Oh, wait, isn’t that near where you live? Maybe that’s why you want this on the other side of town. You don’t want the traffic and congestion on your side of town. That’s it. It’s all West Davis NIMBYism!

  147. Frankly

    Don – I guess you have a short memory. Go back and read. Early on in another economic development topic you challenged me to tell you were I thought Davis could develop on the periphery and I was the one that pointed to all the land down the I-113 corridor north of the hospital and even north of North Davis Farms on the east side of I-113.

    I support development on those lands 100% even though I live in that area.

    Want to apologize?

  148. davisite4

    Frankly, your insulting me isn’t going to change anything. You don’t see things from my point of view. Fine. But know that you can’t persuade someone else unless you try to see their side of things. I value the open space [i]at Mace curve.[/i] I don’t want to lose [i]that space[/i]. I have lived in areas with sprawl and they are ugly and unpleasant. The towns lose their distinctiveness and become one busy street after another. At some point we have to draw the line, because we can always say “just one more development.” Mace curve is a place where I think a line should be drawn. And I am not the only one who thinks so. I need no medical practioners to brainwash me out of my values. Trust me, I do know what I really care about.

  149. DT Businessman

    Matt, publicly pointing out that my reading skills are deficient….is not cool!

    Matt, you are the research meister, not I. I’m confident you can find out the fair market value of entitled “innovation park” acreage with freeway frontage and a freeway on-ramp/off-ramp. The fair market value less the cost of procuring the entitlements, including Measure J costs, would be a good starting point for a meaningful conversation. Of course, it’s not clear to me whether the city would charge itself the same costs that it charges developers.

    If you recall, Mike Hart was insisting that the Conagra parcel, zoned research park, was worth $50k/acre, which I’m pretty sure is way, way low, given such land is currently trading for $200k-$300k per acre in Davis, although these comps are for much smaller parcels.

    -Michael Bisch

  150. Frankly

    Fare enough davisite4, but you too have come on very strong. I still think you and Don are approaching this from some irrational perspective. You are both highly intelligent and capable of objective reasoning, but for some reason you both have dug in your heels.

    I too have lived in many places throughout the United States including my time in Davis since 1974, and Davis has a LONG, LONG, LONG way to go before it is at risk of sprawl. However, it has a very short few steps to a cliff of fiscal sustainability and economic malaise. Plus, if you really have lived in and visited other comparable cities, you will easily note that we are looking rather shabby lately. Roads and city maintained landscaping is in bad shape in a lot of areas, and the downtown building and sidewalks are falling is disrepair. We are suffering opportunity costs for not making the city more vibrant and attractive due to lack of private business investment.

    Based on all the concerns you mention, a business park on the Mace curve is not going to hurt your lifestyle. It will likely benefit your lifestyle.

  151. David M. Greenwald

    “You guys run around and cry the the sky is falling. It is not.”

    I would point out here that a lot of people on both sides of issues claim the sky is falling. For some the sky is falling because we are about to develop on the periphery. For others its because we don’t have enough housing. For others its because we don’t have enough business and revenue.

  152. Don Shor

    [quote]Don – I guess you have a short memory. Go back and read. Early on in another economic development topic you challenged me to tell you were I thought Davis could develop on the periphery and I was the one that pointed to all the land down the I-113 corridor north of the hospital and even north of North Davis Farms on the east side of I-113.

    I support development on those lands 100% even though I live in that area.

    Want to apologize?[/quote]
    No, I want emoticons on this site, so you’d know I was joking.
    I also support the possibility of development around the hospital, which is why I don’t appreciate you continually claiming that I don’t support economic development.

    [quote]I still think you and Don are approaching this from some irrational perspective.[/quote]
    Our perspective is very rational if you are trying to establish an urban limit line and prevent development on prime agricultural land. You are essentially saying that our values are irrational. We just value different things than you do.

  153. Don Shor

    [quote]given such land is currently trading for $200k-$300k per acre in Davis, although these comps are for much smaller parcels. [/quote]
    So the city should hold out for $50 million for 391 acres. That would still be a heck of a deal for the developer.

  154. Frankly

    David, alright, but even those that claim the sky is falling with respect to sprawl and loss of farmland and loss of open space agree that we have city budget problems and need more affordable housing. Don Shor has argued that Davis does not need any jobs (something I completely disagree with, but at least it is clear that he has some facts to back his claim.)

    But since there is general agreement with the other two points, I think my “irrational sky is falling” claim sicks much better on those opposing this Mace curve business park.

    You can do a simple trend analysis on Davis’s budget situation projecting revenue based on the state and federal economic models, and it is objectively clear that we have an unsustainable fiscal situation. You can also see that we are extremely far from any reasonable comparison in terms of per capita firms and business tax revenue. The fallback from this from those anti-business park folks is that we need to cut spending. You and I both know the people making this claim, and they would be some of the first to scream bloody murder if we REALLY started to cut what was necessary. We saw it when the city let go of our over-priced tree trimmers.

    So, stepping back and trying to look at both sides in terms of which appear to have the most rational position, the anti-business park camp is clearly much father into irrational mode. I am trying to make sense of their position, and I cannot.

  155. David M. Greenwald

    ” Don Shor has argued that Davis does not need any jobs (something I completely disagree with, but at least it is clear that he has some facts to back his claim.) “

    I don’t think I’ve seen Don argue that Davis does not need ANY jobs.

  156. Don Shor

    [quote]I don’t think I’ve seen Don argue that Davis does not need ANY jobs.[/quote]
    No, Don has not argued that.
    I think a blog thread on how Davis can best deal with the revenue problem would be a good discussion to have.

  157. davisite4

    [quote]Our perspective is very rational if you are trying to establish an urban limit line and prevent development on prime agricultural land. You are essentially saying that our values are irrational. We just value different things than you do.[/quote]

    This.

    I am not saying that dire things will happen (that the sky will fall) if we build on Mace Curve. But we will have lost that particular open space and ag land, and that is a loss of things that I and others value.

    Again, I would like to see other avenues pursued for a business park. I am disgusted that we seem to be going forward with this Cannery project when that land is perfectly find for a business park (look at where business parks are situated w/in Silicon Valley, and then tell me it’s too far from the interstate. Nonsense).

  158. JustSaying

    “Sure. Right next to the hospital. Oh, wait, isn’t that near where you

    Outing a disagreeable, anonymous poster? Finally.

    Don, it only makes sense to agree to a perpetual easement at the present edge of development if we insist there’ll be no need for the city to expand another inch ever or if we’re okay with leaping over an ag preserve to meet our development needs in the future.

    I think you’ve made this determination, and that explains your stand more clearly that the ag land preservation argument. But, don’t you think that there should be at least some flexibility for those who come after us to make different decisions based on conditions decades down the road?

  159. medwoman

    Frankly

    “Having participated in many discussions about many topics here, there continues to be a gap I have not been able to fill explaining why otherwise very intelligent and caring people on this blog would be so adamant about blocking economic development projects that would clearly benefit residents and the city. Here is what I have come up with to fill that gap. They are afraid that Davis’s politics will change.”

    Perhaps part of the difficulty you have in filling in the gap of your understanding is that you continue to prefer making up stories about why we do what we do rather than taking our word for the rationale behind our actions.
    You are not alone. I am still awaiting answers to legitimate questions about your preferences and perceived minimal and maximal estates of what size
    Tech park and number and size of businesses you would find optimal.
    If you have time to post at length about the inner working of the liberal mind ,
    surely you could spare a little time to answer some basic questions from someone with no business experience.

  160. Frankly

    [i]No, I want emoticons on this site, so you’d know I was joking. [/i]

    Yes, I did not get your humor/sarcasm on that.

    [i]Our perspective is very rational if you are trying to establish an urban limit line[/i]

    Well, this is where your definition of rational and mine will converge. I am wired and experienced to evaluate most decisions in terms of cost-benefit, risk-return. By establishing an artificial boundary limit you are preventing Davis from expanding out, and forcing it to become more dense. You yourself have made the point that the university will grow. So, it has to accept a population increase.

    You have not sufficiently explained the value proposition for that vision of Davis for me to compute. A growing hyper-dense small city with dropping jobs and business tax revenue per capita does not compute as positive to me. I fail to get what attracts you to that vision. And, since you do not live in town, I think maybe you are missing that negative impact consideration for those of us that do.

    We don’t have enough qualify parcels for infill development. And the impacts from commercial development in and around residential areas is more problematic than is peripheral development. Just look at poor STEAC trying to put up a storage building!

    I support the Cannery being a business park but for the simple problem that business does not want to locate there. You must know as a business owner that you need to provide products your customers want to actually purchase.

    I frankly think you are hiding the fear that Davis politics will change if the demographics change to include more people working for private business. And you are using farmland and other things as proxies to prevent you from disclosing it.

    At least that would be a rational concern we could debate.

    But of course there remains that possibility that I am just to dense to understand the basis for your position.

  161. Don Shor

    JustSaying: [quote]Don, it only makes sense to agree to a perpetual easement at the present edge of development if we insist there’ll be no need for the city to expand another inch ever or if we’re okay with leaping over an ag preserve to meet our development needs in the future. [/quote]
    Frankly: [quote]By establishing an artificial boundary limit you are preventing Davis from expanding out[/quote]

    In one direction. I am advocating for a specific urban boundary line on the east side of Davis. It isn’t the only side. It isn’t the only place for a business park. It isn’t the only direction Davis can grow, should Davis choose to expand outward as well as densify inward. I haven’t drawn a line all the way around Davis and said ‘grow no more past this line’. I am advocating for one part of the urban growth boundary, and my primary reason has to do with preserving agricultural soil.

    [quote]I frankly think you are hiding the fear that Davis politics will change if the demographics change to include more people working for private business. And you are using farmland and other things as proxies to prevent you from disclosing it. [/quote]
    I think you are full of nonsense with regard to my motives, beliefs, and positions.

  162. Frankly

    [i]If you have time to post at length about the inner working of the liberal mind, surely you could spare a little time to answer some basic questions from someone with no business experience.[/i]

    LOL.

    Here is what I know. There are several businesses already interested in a Davis location. This is part of the drive for building the park. The proposed size and location of the park is to address the requirements of these prospective businesses.

    Why would anyone do the work to propose and approve this if they didn’t already have a good sense that there is a market for what they are proposing?

    The thing about this liberal (i.e., non-business I presume) mind is that you apparently cannot fathom the free-market optimization for development plans and investment, and think we have to know and control everything from a public-side top-down mechanism.

    The market dictates right size, not political anarchy or government bureaucrats lacking business sense.

    And I’m sure you want to know WHICH businesses are thinking about locating here. And they would be fools to disclose it until and unless there is a clear path for them, and a need to do so.

  163. Don Shor

    [quote]The market dictates right size,[/quote]
    The market, using that basis, would fill every inch of farmland between Davis and Woodland with commercial development. The market, using your criteria, created Natomas.

  164. Frankly

    The market does not dictate development, but if you are going to develop, you need a marketing plan that is real and achievable. So, if a business park is being proposed by people with tremendous financial skin in the game, then you can rest assured that those people have invested in a market study and pre-sales analysis to determine what size development they would need to be successful.

  165. Frankly

    Don, do you have the time and ability to post a map outlining all the large areas in and around Davis that you would support developing at some point in the future? I think that would be a good starting point getting down to brass tacks for where they are differences of opinion.

  166. Don Shor

    I’ll let Matt Williams start that process, because I believe he has a map that shows parcel lines that is more current than anything I have. It would be a very interesting discussion to have, and having a current and accurate map would really be important. I’m not averse to having a discussion where we all draw hypothetical urban growth lines, so long as people realize that usually the process is much more involved, including an update of the General Plan and other components.

  167. JustSaying

    “In one direction. I am advocating for a specific urban boundary line on the east side of Davis.”

    But, why? And, why is your line up against the present edge of development, rather than, say, a half mile out?

    Really, you’re not an advocate for specific urban boundaries to the north, south and west of Davis? (And, wouldn’t if a similar housing or business development proposal or a conservation easement opportunity popped up on a parcel that abuts present city limits/development?)

    You could have fooled me with your impassioned pleadings that Davis has some unique responsibility to value farmland preservation so highly above other municipal considerations.

  168. JustSaying

    Matt or Don, do you know where I could find maps that would show the kind of information we’ve been discussing (land capability, conservation easements, city limits and zones of influence or whatever, county and city zoning)?

    I’m particularly interested in the Road 102 corridor….

    Is Woodland operating with the same self-imposed constraints on development, annexation and development that we do even though we’re following the same county policies?

    Will we end up with Woodland shopping opportunities even closer to Davis?

    Will Woodland find space for a business park with easy access to I-5 before we can locate something close to I-80?

    Will Woodland keep building more houses for people who want the benefits of a Davis education (and can get them without since we’re unable to fill our schools with our own children)?

    These are the questions that keep me awake nights.

  169. JustSaying

    Never suggested that you might want to move there. (Although one of our acquaintances just moved to Dixon because the family could: 1.) afford the housing and 2.) figure the kids can continue in Davis schools since we’re bound to be disparate for outsiders to help us keep from having to close even more schools for years to come.)

    But, I’m still interested is seeing whether Yolo County cities operate on similar playing fields.

  170. Mr.Toad

    ” Here is what I have come up with to fill that gap. They are afraid that Davis’s politics will change. They are afraid that the ratio of left-leaning to moderate or right-leaning voters will change. That is the only conclusion that make any sense at this point. Because nobody loves farmland that much.”

    Frankly why do you always want to see this through some left right political dichotomy? I think I completely understand the positions of Shor, Medwoman and D4.

    Don is a land owner, a land trust type of guy as is best represented locally by Duane Chamberlain who was recently re-elected supervisor. Both clearly oppose development on farmland giving our farmland what i believe is a misguided excessive value.

    Medwoman, is a gynecologist. She deals with family planning issues, choices and consequences, everyday through her work. She has a Paul Ehrlic Population Bomb, limits to growth, Small is Beautiful 1970’s mentality and sees more people as placing negative environmental pressure on her environment. In fact she wishes Davis were smaller although I doubt her Malthusian predilections and negative growth desires would go to the point of hoping the 4 horseman of the apocalypse ride down upon Davis.

    D4 is much the same as Medwoman opposing growth because of its impacts on traffic and because he feels human development detracts from the beauty of the natural world. Even if farmland is not wilderness D4 prefers it to his feared alternatives ;more people, jobs and infrastructure.

    I believe these people are honorable in their beliefs. I can take them at their word. I don’t see the need to understand their thinking in the context of some absurd, useless, archaic continuum. I simply have a philosophically different view and believe their thinking is old, out dated and counter productive to the needs of the community today and into the future.

  171. Frankly

    Mr. Toad. LOL! Very nice. But I am thinking these subjects might better prefer me assigning political motives to their positions than this that you suggest.

    And honestly, because I am, I feel a bit of motivation to inject a bit more ideological diversity into the town, so this does drive a small percent of my interest to see more private business. As David has suggested, having liberal Democrats control all the pedals and levers of state and local government often leads to empty municipal coffers from the gross filling of the public employee union member pockets.

    But mostly, I just like to see a plentiful supply of good jobs, greater support for the university and greater business diversity.

  172. davisite4

    [quote]I believe these people are honorable in their beliefs. I can take them at their word. I don’t see the need to understand their thinking in the context of some absurd, useless, archaic continuum. [/quote]

    Thank you.

    [quote]I simply have a philosophically different view and believe their thinking is old, out dated and counter productive to the needs of the community today and into the future.[/quote]

    Yes, we have philosophically different beliefs. However, I believe yours are the ones that are outdated. They are the views that have gotten ourselves into our current environmental mess (not that you yourself are responsible, but the attitude of “development first” is). Our survival is tied to the land. We shouldn’t forget that.

  173. Matt Williams

    JustSaying said . . .

    [i]”Matt or Don, do you know where I could find maps that would show the kind of information we’ve been discussing (land capability, conservation easements, city limits and zones of influence or whatever, county and city zoning)?”[/i]

    Yes I do JS. Please e-mail me at [url]mattwill@pacbell.net[/url]. I have assembled a robust library of exactly those maps from the many and disparate sources from which they come. If you are concerned about maintaining your e-mail privacy we can meet in person and I can bring my PC with the electronic files and we can copy them onto a zip drive for you. I’m very partial to Konditorei as a meeting place, but I run into Toad at Mishka’s on an occasion or two if you would rather meet downtown.

  174. davisite4

    [quote]Here is what I have come up with to fill that gap. They are afraid that Davis’s politics will change. They are afraid that the ratio of left-leaning to moderate or right-leaning voters will change. That is the only conclusion that make any sense at this point. Because nobody loves farmland that much.[/quote]

    This really comes out of left field. Such a thing would never have occurred to me, and frankly, I doubt its truth. Even if Davis were to grow I don’t know that its politics would change much, or that growth would cause the change. They might, in fact, cause change in the other direction, as a reaction to the growth. But keeping a certain distribution of ideological beliefs is not a goal of mine.

  175. Frankly

    [i] They are the views that have gotten ourselves into our current environmental mess (not that you yourself are responsible, but the attitude of “development first” is).[/i]

    As he types this on a marvelous machine provided to him by that very thing he decries.

    D4, I think you are looking through the wrong end of your binoculars. Or you just have your eyes closed in a tight and perpetual frown.

    Loosen up a bit. Nothing is all bad, and nothing is all good. Sounds like you are on some environmentalist war path to eliminate enterprise and force us all to live in communal hemp huts eating only sustainable tubers and rodents.

  176. Don Shor

    [quote] I have assembled a robust library of exactly those maps from the many and disparate sources from which they come.[/quote]
    I’m also happy to upload and host any maps, or anything else, on my server and provide links for future articles and for reference.

  177. Matt Williams

    DT Businessman said . . .

    [i]”Matt, you are the research meister, not I. I’m confident you can find out the fair market value of entitled “innovation park” acreage with freeway frontage and a freeway on-ramp/off-ramp. The fair market value less the cost of procuring the entitlements, including Measure J costs, would be a good starting point for a meaningful conversation. Of course, it’s not clear to me whether the city would charge itself the same costs that it charges developers.”[/i]

    Michael, the steps you have laid out might in fact allow us to imagine a hypothetical value in a 40,000 foot scenario, but if you polled 1,000 businessmen/businesswomen after you assembled those imaginary numbers what would they say you had? “Peter Pan” was the first thought that came to my mind, but then I realized that “Tinkerbell” was an even more appropriate answer.

    Regarding the question you pose in your last sentence above, the phrase “The Lost Boys” completes the Disney allusion tri-fecta, because it is indeed totally unclear. As Frankly pointed out earlier in this thread, [quote]Related to any actions of the City, one has to consider a few things. 



    — The city has plenty of employees, but not enough with authority and skills to champion and manage big development projects. 



    — The city employees are motivated to move the ball in ways that help them with job and benefits security. 



    — The politics of Davis make getting almost anything done painfully slow to impossible. Sometimes it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission in these types of dysfunctional decision environments. Also, often the squeaky wheel is the clear minority, and making some unilateral decisions are politically safe even though it might cause that minority to go off in rage for not being told or not being allowed to participate in the decision.
    [/quote]

  178. Don Shor

    [quote]Also, often the squeaky wheel is the clear minority[/quote]
    On land-use decisions, there is no evidence of that, and there is good evidence to the contrary.

  179. davisite4

    [quote]Loosen up a bit. Nothing is all bad, and nothing is all good. Sounds like you are on some environmentalist war path to eliminate enterprise and force us all to live in communal hemp huts eating only sustainable tubers and rodents.[/quote]

    Sounds to me as though you are so desperate to win this argument that the best you can do is exaggerate and misrepresent others positions. As you have done here.

  180. JustSaying

    [quote]“I have assembled a robust library of exactly those maps from the many and disparate sources from which they come.”

    “I’m also happy to upload and host any maps, or anything else, on my server and provide links for future articles and for reference.”[/quote]Thanks, guys. I’m assuming you don’t have anything, Don, that fills my desire to look at Road 102 (Davis to Woodland) since I’ve appealed before.

    So, I’ll follow up with Matt for now. Probably via email since I can’t afford to subsidize his Konditorei addictive tendency.

  181. Don Shor

    Here’s one map: [img]http://davismerchants.org/vanguard/PublicLandsandEasements.pdf[/img]
    And this can be a useful link if you understand soil types: [url]http://casoilresource.lawr.ucdavis.edu/soilweb_gmap/[/url]

  182. Frankly

    [i]Sounds to me as though you are so desperate to win this argument that the best you can do is exaggerate and misrepresent others positions.[/i]

    My loosen up suggestion still stands.

    I don’t really care about winning any arguments as long as I get my way.

    You can quote me on that.

  183. DT Businessman

    Matt, I have no idea what you’re trying to say with the references to 40k feet, Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, Lost Boys, etc. Please try again in normal English.

    -Michael Bisch

  184. Don Shor

    Matt just sent me this map, which I now have backed up for future reference:
    [img]http://davismerchants.org/vanguard/20121001DavisAreaUSDALandCapabilityClassificationMap.jpg[/img]
    [url]http://davismerchants.org/vanguard/20121001DavisAreaUSDALandCapabilityClassificationMap.jpg[/url]

  185. Matt Williams

    In that soils map provided to me by Phil Hogan at NRCS in Woodland, it is very easy to see why both Don Shor and I see the area west and north of Sutter Davis Hospital as appropriate for urbanization. The light colored areas are Class IV, and in addition to being Class IV, they are alkalai soils as well. Virtually useless for farming.

  186. Matt Williams

    DT Businessman said . . .

    [i]”Matt, I have no idea what you’re trying to say with the references to 40k feet, Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, Lost Boys, etc. Please try again in normal English.

    -Michael Bisch”[/i]

    Its another reading reference Michael. You will answer your own question when you think about where you find Peter Pan, Tinkerbell and the Lost Boys.

  187. Adam Smith

    Thanks for the maps, especially the conserved lands map. If I am reading this correctly, there are no conservation easements within 1 mile of the city limits, excepting perhaps the Stanley easement, which not adjacent or very close to any commercial development potential. Furthermore, the city controls all the frontage on I80 all the way to the by pass. I believe the city controls a very effective urban limit line on the eastern boundary. There is no reason for the city to execute a conservation easement in order to block development on Mace 391, one of highest potential business park development areas for our town.

  188. Practical

    Adam, I have sent one more map to Don for posting on his website and here.

    Either tomorrow or Sunday I will be publishing an article that very specifically addresses the areas within 1 mile of the current City Limit.

  189. Don Shor

    Another map c/o Matt, this one from the Open Space and Habitat Commission:
    [img]http://davismerchants.org/vanguard/OpenSpaceProtectionStatusMap0413.pdf[/img]
    [url]http://davismerchants.org/vanguard/OpenSpaceProtectionStatusMap0413.pdf[/url]

  190. Matt Williams

    Adam Smith said . . .

    “Thanks for the maps, especially the conserved lands map. If I am reading this correctly, there are no conservation easements within 1 mile of the city limits, excepting perhaps the Stanley easement, which not adjacent or very close to any commercial development potential. “

    Adam, that is correct. In my discussions with the Habitat and Open Space Commission and Mitch Sears they see their efforts to date as accomplishing “about 30% of their mission.” In the next 24 to 48 hours I will be submitting an article here in the vanguard that deals with the other 70% . . . the areas that lie within 1 mile of the city limits.

  191. JustSaying

    “”Thanks for the maps, especially the conserved lands map. If I am reading this correctly, there are no conservation easements within 1 mile of the city limits, excepting perhaps the Stanley easement, which not adjacent or very close to any commercial development potential. ”

    “Adam, that is correct. In my discussions with the Habitat and Open Space Commission and Mitch Sears they see their efforts to date as accomplishing “about 30% of their mission.” In the next 24 to 48 hours I will be submitting an article here in the vanguard that deals with the other 70% . . . the areas that lie within 1 mile of the city limits.”

    This is the issue, of course, Matt. The rest of the city better wake up if the Habitat and Open Space Commission feels compelled to generate more easements within 20 feet of the present city limits until we’re completely fenced in for eternity?

    How long have you been engaged with this commission? Do you know the history of the easement under discussion? Who were the decision makers at the various critical points? When did the council get involved? Any links to enlightening documents?

  192. Mark West

    Matt Williams: “[i]Those were about “attacks” on Don Shor, not on Dave Morris, and those “attacks” on Don were not made by you, they were made by Mark West.[/i]”

    And brutal personal attacks they were. I pointed out that he wasn’t a resident of Davis, and that he didn’t support economic development in town. The first statement is true, the second my opinion, based on my personal experience and memory. Now it is true I have not lived here forever, just since 1959 (except for the 1980’s when I was off at school, which means I missed the bulk of Frankly’s musical career), and my memory is not as good as it once was, but I am having difficulty remembering any development project in Davis that Don supported. I’m not talking about his current list of theoretical projects that he might agree to support (if they meet his pre-conditions), but actual housing or business development projects that were proposed. I have no doubt that Don will prove my memory wrong, probably with some insignificant project, but for the nonce I will stick with my statement of fact that he is not a resident and my statement of opinion, that he does not support economic development in Davis.

  193. medwoman

    Frankly

    [quote]The thing about this liberal (i.e., non-business I presume) mind is that you apparently cannot fathom the free-market optimization for development plans and investment, and think we have to know and control everything from a public-side top-down mechanism.
    [/quote]

    Priceless . Now instead of answering my questions about your overall vision of what is best for the town, you have patted me on my pretty little liberal head and told me not to worry about it. Your “market” will take care of everything.

    This would be the equivalent of you in all honesty asking me to explain to you the steps necessary to do a hysterectomy and me telling you “don’t worry honey, it means you will never have another period”. So much for an honest conversation.

  194. Mark West

    Don: “Why are you personalizing this, Mark?”

    What part of my statement is false, Don? The part about Frankly having a musical career, ok, I’ll give you that one?

  195. Matt Williams

    JustSaying said . . .

    [i]”This is the issue, of course, Matt. The rest of the city better wake up if the Habitat and Open Space Commission feels compelled to generate more easements within 20 feet of the present city limits until we’re completely fenced in for eternity?

    How long have you been engaged with this commission? Do you know the history of the easement under discussion? Who were the decision makers at the various critical points? When did the council get involved? Any links to enlightening documents?”[/i]

    It would be reasonable to say, “Not engaged with it at all.” My first exposure was on June 11th when several H&OS members spoke to Council. I subsequently met with two members including the Chair in one on one meetings, and then spoke in public comment at their meeting this past Monday in the Club Room at the Veterans Memorial. I presented to them a vision I have for a balanced approach to ag farmland conservation, riparian corridor habitat restoration, salmon spawning habitat restoration, and a proactive approach to enhancing the economic sustainability of our community and balancing the municipal budget. I suggested to them that they might want to put a more in depth discussion on their agenda in the very near future. They took that under advisement.

    The history of the easement has been discussed, but is not under discussion at the current moment. Mitch Sears has made it crystal clear that the train has left the station and that NRCS has extended the timeline for completing the easement transactions until March 2014. He has said that unless and until he hears from Council that he should do otherwise, he is moving forward with the easement, full steam ahead. That is what he told the H&OS Commission on Monday as well. I respect and honor that statement by Mitch as well as his commitment to this easement.

    Regarding Council’s involvement in the easement process, everything I know is capsulized in the events of June 11th. I personally had never heard about the easement in any way shape or form prior to David’s first article about it here in the Vanguard. The person who spoke at public comment immediately after me on the night of June 11th was Steve Souza, who delivered an empassioned “bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” comment, noting his proud involvement in the original application for the easement grant as well as the many steps along the NRCS process. Other than that, I don’t know any other Council members who have been involved in it.

    Hope that answers your questions. I’m sure you will have more when you read my article this weekend.

  196. Frankly

    [i]This would be the equivalent of you in all honesty asking me to explain to you the steps necessary to do a hysterectomy and me telling you “don’t worry honey, it means you will never have another period”. So much for an honest conversation. [/i]

    medwoman, consider me more a GP than a surgeon with respect to business development. I don’t have all those answers, because I am not a business owner or CEO of a medium-sized ag-tech company, I am not a developer, and I am not an investor in business park developments.
    I have had four different careers:
    1. As an IT professional (manger/director/VP) working for a large bank;
    2. As an executive manager of a large HMO running a corporate project office, working with the sales and marketing divisions, and later managing a large staff IT technical engineers in the IT division.
    3. As a private consultant supporting private sector small business with their IT projects and general management (strategic planning, marketing, business process improvement and human resource management).
    4. And currently as the Executive Director of a small business (21 employees) that provides small business financing (primarily commercial real estate lending) with a mission to help create jobs in California, Nevada and Arizona.

    I think you asked me to define what size business park we would need and why.

    I cannot answer that specifically because I am not an insider to the marketing research that one would have to do to develop a business plan that would pencil out for that type of project.

    Certainly there are areas in this state where developers did the “if I build it they will come” thing, but that is in areas like Inland Empire where there were few barriers to land use. In Davis, the challenges are many, the risks and cost are great. Nobody would propose a development without prospective buyers lined up to occupy the space. That was my main point…. The size of the proposed project is based on the assessed market demand, and that market demand is backed by several companies that have already expressed interest to locate here. But I don’t have a list of businesses and their space requirements.

    What I do know is that business and commercial real estate are pretty much one in the same. The size of a property is almost as important in strategic planning as is operating capital and cash flow. Commercial real estate is generally sold on a price-per-square-foot basis. No business wants to pay for more space than it needs; but most business also doesn’t want to run out of space prematurely.

    In terms of size, a successful innovation business park would need to support a variety of businesses of varying sizes. I would expect ag-tech related business to require a greater square foot per employee ratio that other business… but again, I don’t know any specifics.

    I don’t think you can establish a park size benchmark from a public policy. You can restrict the size, but then you will jeopardize the success of the park because you would reduce the market of viable business that could locate here. At some size restriction the park is simple not viable because it is too small to support and attract enough business. So, what is that optimum size? It is the size of the project that is being proposed because the project sponsors know what it would take .

    If you tell my wife she needs a hysterectomy, we might get a second opinion from another doctor, but ultimately we need to trust those that have skills and experience in this discipline. The same is true for business economic development. Just trust that a project as proposed is sufficiently vetting by those with expertise in that discipline. Don’t attempt to participate in their “surgery”. Just accept or reject the project based on your own opinion. Either have the hysterectomy and accept the consequences.

  197. Frankly

    [i]The part about Frankly having a musical career[/i]

    I would not call it a career. Basically it was me trying to fake a bunch of people out that I could play guitar and sing in a band and make people dance. What I discovered is that after people in the audience had a few beers, we sounded great and they would dance!

    Don, I don’t see Mark getting personal as much as you seem to be hypersensitive to some claims. You have a very nuanced and complex set of opinions about economic growth and development; and frankly I think that complexity and nuance ultimately looks a lot like no-growth. It is true that you don’t live in the Davis area, and you own a business in the Davis area. I think that situation warrants some question.

    However, I have no doubt that your position is one that you believe is best for Davis. But it still looks largely like no-growth. Mark seems to get the same echo I am getting from you.

    I think mapping the areas you think Davis can grow will go a long way in helping me (and Mark?) get beyond that opinion of no-growth that seems to feel like a personal attack to you.

  198. JustSaying

    Don, so we can start with some housing developments, etc., from Oak Tree Plaza north to the Northstar Park area, filling in the fields that nor are surroinded on three sides by existing development?

  199. JustSaying

    I’m asking if you would “infill” in the specific area described that already is surrounded by city development? Or, leapfrog from one pocket of “poorer soils” to the next?

  200. Pingback: Mace 391: The Turning Point in Business Park Discussions | .:Davis Vanguard:.

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