Mayor Krovoza on Economic Development; Supportive of East Mace Innovation Park

Mayor Krovoza on Economic Development; Supportive of East Mace Innovation Park
Mayor Krovoza on Economic Development; Supportive of East Mace Innovation Park

During his State of the City address, Mayor Joe Krovoza took a broad view, at times praising the success of proposals he opposed.  One such instance was his seeming support for the economic development proposal.

The mayor began by praising the work of techDavis in bringing in Chief Innovation Officer Rob White to Davis.  “We’re proud to be one of the few cities in America that has a chief innovation officer,” he said acknowledging that “Rochelle Swanson absolutely led on the council to bring in a chief innovation officer.”

Davis, through its Cap-to-Cap work, he said, “showed that we’re going to leverage our great ties with the university to help the region and to help ourselves move forward with good jobs.”

The mayor was praising of the work of the Chief Innovation Officer, Rob White, for his “constant outreach to business,” “partnering with UC Davis, we need somebody whose right at the door of the UC Davis Entrepreneurship Center and the college of Engineering.”

“We all know about our Davis Roots project,” he said.  “We’ve taken our Hunt Boyer Mansion, we’re really in our second round of companies, in there now that are incubating and setting up roots in Davis.”  “TechDavis is putting an extra $250,000 into Davis Roots,” he added.  “TechDavis is also putting another $250,000 into a wet lab startup.”

He mentioned another $100,000 into the Hacker Lab here.  While he referred to techDavis, it was actually Capitol Corridor Ventures that made those contributions. “All great investments to really spur innovation within the city, in partnership with the university,” he would add.

“The big piece that the city can do is we can entitle lands for business development,” he said.  “In the Fall of 2010, Don Saylor when he was Mayor got started our innovation park task force.  That was to look at where we can put businesses in Davis, in a somewhat dispersed way, and they identified four areas around the city totaling 450 acres, where we could do a business park development.”

“That preceded the recent discussions the city had about the Mace Curve land.  We have accelerated or re-looked at the Innovation Park Task Force piece,” he continued.

Those four lands are the Nishi Lands, East Innovation Park outside of Mace Curve with over 200 acres, the West Innovation Park near Sutter Hospital, and then “recognizing that the downtown is its own innovation district.”

January 27, 2014 at 5:30 is the next meeting of the Innovation Park Task Force at the Community Chambers.  Those will continue to meet on the fourth Monday of each month.

At the same time, Mayor Krovoza trumpeted the fact that the city had preserved 391 acres outside of the Mace Curve as open space.  “This is exactly what the voters wanted with Measure O and we’re putting those dollars to work in a way they expected,” he told the Chamber crowd, many of whom likely disagreed on this point.

Late in his talk, in response to questions about revenue from economic development, the mayor stated, “We could be, as soon as November of this year, have a citizen’s initiative on the November ballot with regards to the east innovation park and maybe some of the other lands around town,” he said.  “All of these areas except for the downtown innovation area will require a Measure J/ Measure R vote.”

“So whatever we bring forward, we need to make sure it matches our community values in sustainability as well as our economic development side,” he noted.

“200 acres is what’s available outside of Mace if that recommendation of the Innovation Park Task Force were taken up,” Mayor Krovoza continued.  “200 acres is actually a pretty good amount of land.  These companies that are thinking about coming here – unless they’re a real big one – but the moderate sized companies that we see in Davis with 100 or 200 employees, they generally need 25, 30, 35 acres to put down a footprint.”

“So we could be putting six, seven, eight new companies or keeping six, seven, eight companies that need a little bit more space on that 200 acres,” he stated.  “I hope that when we get that on the ballot, that’s put on in a good way with a nice balanced approach so that we can get that approved and keep things going.”

He did say, “I have been nervous to overreach… in some of the economic development areas for fear that we might set ourselves back.  I’d like to make sure we take some good, cautious steps forward so that we keep the trend going.”

The mayor’s approach on this process is interesting.  Back in October, Mayor Joe Krovoza pushed back against a 391-acre or larger business park that some have been pushing on the Leland Ranch property east of Mace Blvd.

“I will not support the motion on the floor,” he said.  “I am completely puzzled.  For the three years I have served on this council, we’ve been considering straight up in public forums the option of a wonderful open space easement that we’ve been using our open space funds to acquire.”

“We concurrently embarked upon the Innovation Park Task Force study to look for lands around the city that we can open up for economic development,” he noted.  “We constructed a process with city council members, planning commission members, and business and economic and economic development commission members to serve on that (task force).”

“Many of you in this audience attended those meetings,” he said.  “You participated in those meetings.  That process resulted in the identification of by my estimation of approximately 450 acres around Davis, California, that can be opened up for economic development and business park.  And for that entire process, this land use easement was considered to be surrounding one of the major parcels of that recommendation.”

“That’s one reason why we recommended the 200 acres outside the Mace Curve because it had this wonderful land conservation potential around it,” he added.

The mayor was out-voted 4-1 on whether to have a full discussion of the Leland Ranch/Mace 391 property,

Ultimately, the council, fearing ramifications down the road to Yolo Land Trust and the ability of the city to gain future economic easements, decided unanimously to move forward with the grant proposal for the easement on Mace 391.

While the process surrounding Mace 391 was difficult and at times awkward with real concerns about process and transparency, some have acknowledged that, while it is true that they cannot call this a successful process for a variety of reasons, they acknowledged that the discussion on Mace 391 has made the overall prospects for getting a business park much more likely.

Prior to the 391 discussion, there appeared little chance for success on a business park, that still might be a tall task, but consensus is developing on the need for economic development.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

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

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  1. Realchangz

    Not to diminish the Mayor’s leadership skills and public relations acumen, which were both on full display at the Chamber luncheon, but the task before the Council is that of bringing along the community.

    That task will require the legitimate modeling tools that provide the necessary evidence that a large-scale innovation/business park/s have the potential to significantly improve community, business and municipal finances and our overall quality of life in Davis.

    Who is going to champion that effort? Who is going to push that effort? How are we going to pay for that effort? When are we going to take up the issue in earnest – beyond reconvening further task force discussions?

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