Analysis: Economic Development Critical Component for Fiscal Sustainability

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Proposed Hotel Conference Center for
Proposed Hotel Conference Center for

It was last spring when the city of Davis finally rolled out the proposal for Mace 391.  But almost from the start there were problems with that proposal.  For one thing, the land was already designated to go into conservation easement and the proposal to do otherwise, under the best of circumstances, would have generated controversy.

But the rollout of that proposal was fatally flawed – a consent item on the agenda, a last-minute land swap proposal, a failure to brief, let alone engage, critical sectors of the community.  The result was a split council making a 3-2 decision with Joe Krovoza, Lucas Frerichs and Brett Lee opposing Mace 391.

That would not be the end of that discussion however as prominent business leaders – many of them worried after Bayer-AgraQuest left for West Sacramento, concerned that Schilling Robotics, Marrone Bio Innovations, and HM Klaus would be the next prominent Davis companies to leave – pushed to re-open the discussion.

However, when the Yolo Land Trust and the NCRS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) indicated that pulling the application at that late date would be detrimental to future Davis conservation efforts and the Land Trust’s reputation, the council unanimously rejected the proposal to re-examine a business park at the Mace 391 location.

Our view, however, is that those efforts were not in vain.  The discussion generated, first in June and then in September and October, has led to an emerging consensus, really, across the Davis political divide of the need for Davis to find business park space, not only to keep these companies in Davis, but also as a means to generate revenue.

The city of Davis is facing a $5.1 million deficit, which as we have discussed is actually more complex than that.  The city has ongoing revenue needs to pay for increases to employment compensation.  The city has needs to be able to pay for what has been deferred maintenance on roads, parks and city buildings.

In the short term, the city is looking to fill this gap first with a sales tax in June and then a parcel tax in November.

What is clear is that the city needs a long term strategy to generate more local tax revenue.  In 2006, the city put forward the Target proposal that was said to capture about $600,000 in sales tax revenue.  The measure was placed on the ballot and narrowly passed.

For the most part, the idea of additional sales tax revenue from peripheral retail is not an idea supported by those in elected office, those running for the city council, and perhaps large segments of the community.

The arrival of Chief Innovation Officer Rob White, as well as the discussion on Mace 391, served as a catalyst to reignite discussions of the Innovation Park Task Force.

Emerging from those discussions have been few concrete proposals and more discussion about how to dialogue with the community on the need for a business park.

In the next few weeks, the city is expecting the first concrete proposal to come forward on what is being called Mace 200.  These are the tracts east of Mace but to the west of Mace 391 that are owned by Ramos and Oates in one tract and Brunner in the other tract.

The proposed business park would need to go through a Measure R process that might place it on the ballot by November.

A 200-acre business park might be of sufficient size to house an expanded Schilling Robotics, HM Klaus and Marrone Bio Innovations, while also providing necessary land for startups and freeing up existing space.

At the same time, we have recently seen presentations on the University-Downtown Gateway district.  Unlike Mace 200, this district would have additional high density housing, both on the existing Solano Park site as well as the Nishi Property.

Moreover, it would have innovation space to allow university spinoffs that need the proximity of campus to help serve as a driver for new startups.

Along with this development is the proposal to fix the Richards-Olive Drive-1st Street area.  Proposals now look for a separate pedestrian bicycle entrance into town, fixing the traffic light sequence, and making the entire entry area into Davis more inviting.

In the same area we now have an application for a Hotel Conference center.

“The project would replace the existing single-story 43 room University Inn and Suites Hotel with a new seven-story 120 room hotel including a 3,000 square foot restaurant and 14,700 square foot conference center,” City Community Development & Sustainability Director Mike Webb told the Vanguard.

While financing is still a thorny area, this could be a critical means to boost city revenue through a Transient Occupancy Tax.

At the time, when the Redevelopment Agency was still around, the city believed that the hotel conference facility could generate around $100,000 in new property taxes to the RDA while it generated a whopping $350,000 per year to the Transit Occupancy Tax.

However, there are  huge hurdles to climb here.  The proposed seven-story hotel conference center is sure to generate controversy; Nishi is a Measure R property and needs to address access issues to the east on the already congested Richards Blvd.

There may be an additional proposal west of Sutter-Davis Hospital on the Binning Tract currently owned by Parlin.  The downside there is they seem to be insisting on housing.

There are also needs for discussion of better use of existing facilities.

There are proposals by the city looking to redevelop portions of the downtown, there are talks underway for relocating the railroad tracks that extend northward through Davis, which could free up vital space in the core of town for economic development.

There are continuing talks about potentially utilizing the PG&E site, as well as the City and School District Corporation Yards on 5th St.

One area that seems to be underutilized is Interland.  Right now, that is a single-level and very spread out business park.  If there is ever an influx of capital into this area, redeveloping and repurposing much of that space could generate a lot of additional space for startups and other small high tech businesses.

Davis is regionally just starting to capture the attention of the Sacramento region.  But, in many ways, there are huge opportunities.

But with these opportunities come challenges.  For one thing, any additional economic development not only has to accommodate and navigate through the land use policies, but it has to gain approval of the voters.

Many live in Davis for the high quality of life, the college town and small town atmosphere.  Any changes must be consistent with current community character.

On the one hand, I think those pushing for more economic development have a strong point that, without a new influx of capital and tax dollars, many of the great amenities and city services will become unaffordable.

On the other hand, I think those same entities tend to misread the community reluctance for growth as a means to hold onto high property values.  Many have lived here for decades and have no desire to sell their homes.  For them, this is not a means to protect property value, this is a means to protect the community from the degradation of sprawl and the fear that allowing additional development opens the door for even more development.

City leaders need to educate the public on the city’s precarious financial condition, lay out options for the community to move forward, but ultimately allow the key decisions to be made by the community at large rather than a small sub-portion of the stakeholders and people with a vested financial interest.

This will undoubtedly be a long, difficult and arduous process – but one where the future could be a good one for all involved, so long as the right decisions are made.

The sooner this discussion starts the better.  There needs to be economic analysis to show exactly how much revenue we can capture at each step of this process.  And the public – many of whom were caught unaware of the fiscal crisis – must be engaged from day one of these discussions.

—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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75 thoughts on “Analysis: Economic Development Critical Component for Fiscal Sustainability”

  1. Tia Will

    “In 2006, the city put forward the Target proposal that was said to capture about $600,000 in sales tax revenue”

    Do we know how much Target has actually produced in sales tax revenue ?

    1. Rob White

      Tia – as stated previously, we are unable to give specifics about any one retailer (pesky State law), but I can say that Target is performing well within its promised revenue forecasts.

  2. Doby Fleeman

    Somehow, community leadership is going to need to pull together a coherent and cohesive vision of how the ED card might play out in the city of Davis. This is what we need and now is the time.

    From his previous posts, it certainly appears that Rob White has the necessary toolkit of personal and professional skills to pull together the resources necessary to engage the community in a long overdue self reflection and assessment of our strategic strengths and weaknesses.

    It is unfortunate that we could not have been working in parallel these past several years on this initiative so that the community would have a better understanding today of the interrelationship between economic development and a community’s affordability index – i.e. what level of services and amenities is the community able to support and afford based upon its underlying economic activity.

    The CEDS report issued by the Business and Economic Development Commission in 2012 attempted to focus that discussion but died for a lack of support by the Finance and Budget Commission and a City Council that was otherwise consumed by the water issue and labor negotiations.

    Hopefully, we can now open a new chapter on this important front and begin the exciting task of exploring our full potential for creating stimulating new careers in fields of sustainable agricultural practices, biotechnology, alternative energy and other emerging fields of technology.

    Understanding this relationship between a vibrant and dynamic technology employment base (appropriate for the home of a world class research university) and its essential role fostering a vibrant and robust local economy is key as we pursue our understanding of how Davis can best help itself while also supporting the larger Sacramento region.

    1. Tia Will

      Doby

      I very much appreciated that you included “while also supporting the larger Sacramento region”

      I think that this is a critical component of what the role of Davis should be given our proximity to the university.
      What I have seen focused on too narrowly in the past are proposals for big box stores such as Target and other proposals to mirror what is already available in nearby communities. I feel that this is an outdated and short sighted model and am glad to see that there appears to be a greater focus on our unique strengths and possible contributions.

      I remain in complete agreement that any proposal needs to have solid numbers, projections and an assessment of
      the potential downsides as well as anticipated benefits. Robb White does seem like an individual who appreciates the necessity to consider all aspects of proposals.

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        To echo your comment about serving the larger Sacramento region, one of the interesting things about going to the Metro Chamber Leg Day event was sitting next to Rob White as one of the speakers named a whole bunch of accomplishments that either were directly about Davis or indirectly.

      2. Doby Fleeman

        Tia,

        With all the resources, brainpower and talent we have in Davis, it certainly seems that we should be able to craft a win-win strategy based around our core values and which amplifies upon all that is good about our community.

      3. Frankly

        “I remain in complete agreement that any proposal needs to have solid numbers, projections and an assessment of the potential downsides as well as anticipated benefits.”

        You keep repeating this. And you and I both know that it is only a blocking tactic. Because there are no alternatives for generating revenue to the city other than economic development. So, we are beyond the need to provide you or anyone else details in numbers so you can decide if you want to support it or not. We are at a point where that is a useless waste of time. What we should be doing at this point is smart designs to integrate as many of our city values as possible.

        But, unless you have an alternative plan for a fiscally sustainable city, we are beyond the need to justify economic develop to you or anyone else.

        Do you want to be part of the solution, or just part of the problem?

        1. Don Shor

          We are at a point where that is a useless waste of time.

          It’s a useless waste of time to see if a project pencils out? No. I think it was useful to know that the Cannery project ends up costing the city money several years down the road. It also provides an opportunity to explain why that is the case (city overhead costs).
          But we can’t really make the assessment until a developer or landowner has come forward with a specific proposal. And it is a given that it will be analyzed as to the revenues and expenses. The discussion we are at now, which is in the purview of the Innovation Task Force Commission, is more general: where could economic development occur, at what scale, and at what pace. There are some reasonable questions to ask: what is the likely rate of buildout and occupancy? What are the general revenue expectations for business parks of various sizes? I think the range of projections can be provided, and the underlying assumptions can be debated (how fast do you think a new business park would fill? what does an experienced real estate analyst think?).
          I see no problem with wanting those answers. I see the ITF commission as the venue. And of course, when the project is fleshed out, it is the council’s job to analyze the details. So as you choose which council candidate to support, you may wish to assess his or her fitness and skill in making that analysis.

          1. Frankly

            It is a useless waste of time to politicize the decision of a business park development on a detailed cost-benefit argument. Davis is filled with a bunch of smart people that are corrupted with a sense of decision-influence entitlement exceeding their actual understanding and experience. So, you have folks like Tia demanding to be explained every detail when she herself admits to having very limited business experience and understanding.

            All you need to know is this:

            1. City going broke due to lack of revenue that is directly attributable to much lower than average economic activity due to no-growth history.

            2. Increased revenue can only be derived from increased economic activity.

            3. Increased economic activity requires us to develop business parks on peripheral lands.

            So now we are a point where we no longer need to cost-benefit justify the developments… we just need to work on making them great developments.

          2. Davis Progressive

            “1. City going broke due to lack of revenue that is directly attributable to much lower than average economic activity due to no-growth history.”

            the city is going broke also because they failed to keep employee compensation on par with revenues.

            “2. Increased revenue can only be derived from increased economic activity.”

            increased revenue can also come from taxation. you may not like that, but perhaps tia and others don’t like your preference.

            “3. Increased economic activity requires us to develop business parks on peripheral lands.”

            no it doesn’t. in fact, several of the proposal listed in this article do not involve that. the city may get half a million in revenue from the hotel-conference center.

            so stop this nonsense that we are at a point where we no longer need cost-benefit analysis to justify development.

          3. Don Shor

            It is a useless waste of time to politicize the decision of a business park development on a detailed cost-benefit argument.

            Detailed being the operative word. It is not unreasonable to want to know what kind of revenues one could expect (project) from a business park on Ramos/Bruner or in the Northwest Quadrant. It is not unreasonable to want to project what costs the city will entail as a result; there are service costs that can be assigned to various types of projects for safety and public utilities and roads. We know, for example, that a hotel, a convenience store, and a business/commercial site will each have a different cost to the city for providing fire and police services.

            2. Increased revenue can only be derived from increased economic activity.

            Increased revenue to the city derives from taxation. Economic activity is one way to get more revenue from taxation.

            All you need to know is this:

            Probably not the best way to present an argument if you actually want to have a discussion. Useful with teenagers, but not peers.

          4. Tia Will

            “So, you have folks like Tia demanding to be explained every detail when she herself admits to having very limited business experience and understanding.”

            This makes the assumption that I am either unwilling or unable to learn about the subject. Both of which are untrue.

          5. Jim Frame

            So now we are a point where we no longer need to cost-benefit justify the developments… we just need to work on making them great developments.

            The latter statement is the reason we need to see a detailed analysis. It’s safe to say that the developer isn’t going to build something that he doesn’t think will provide a suitable return on investment, but it’s also safe to say that the developer is going to maximize that return to the extent he’s able. Similarly, the city needs to look carefully at the development details — including projected revenues of all kinds — to make sure it doesn’t approve a project that benefits the developer but not the city.

            I want to see a project that provides for the type of business growth we want *and* provides enough revenue to cover costs and backfill enough of the structural deficit to make adding the development impacts worthwhile.

          6. Rob White

            As usual, we have lots of great points leading to what will hopefully be a well engaged discussion across the community when we receive a proposal. I can state this much, the initial discussions being held with potential project proponents include these parameters:
            1. No housing on peripheral sites
            2. Must primarily serve the business clusters that have developed at UC Davis and in the research community – Agtech, Biotech, Medtech, Sustainable Manufacturing & Robotics/Engineering, Information Tech.
            3. Must be a considerable improvement on sustainability measures than comparable developments, i.e. superior aspects of LEED/green building, incorporate alt trans, reinforce our renewable energy and carbon reduction goals, and provide for cutting edge opportunities for future sustainability measures.
            4. Enhance the quality of life for our businesses and residences alike, to the extent possible
            5. Achieve a significant net positive, and on-going, revenue stream for the community

          7. SouthofDavis

            Don wrote:

            > I think it was useful to know that the Cannery project ends up
            > costing the city money several years down the road.

            It is important to remember that we can’t KNOW that the Cannery will “end up costing the city money several years down the road”.

            The only way we can KNOW what the Cannery will cost (or contribute) to the city “several years down the road” is to look in to the future.

            It is interesting to note that more “psychics” than “economists” predicted the stock market crash of 2008.

            Anyone that has ever played with an Excel spreadsheet knows that you just need to change one number to change a project from loss to profit.

            If someone is going to get up and say they KNOW that the Cannery will “end up costing the city money several years down the road that means they are also saying they KNOW what home values, parcel taxes, and sales tax revenue will be “several years down the road”.

            P.S. After reading economic projections for 30+ years most of them are not even close to what really happens…

          8. Don Shor

            Ok. Change “know” to “project” in my comments. Projections are all we can use in analyzing any future project.

          9. SouthofDavis

            Don wrote:

            > Projections are all we can use in analyzing
            > any future project.

            True and the people that “project” expenses will rise faster than revenue will show the project “costing the city money” while the people that “project” the revenue will rise faster than expenses will show the project as a money maker for the city. (I’m betting that there is not a single projection out there from 10+ years ago that shows the current parcel taxes even half as high)…

          10. Don Shor

            Sorry, but you don’t believe anybody about anything, as far as I can tell, and you have a consistent theme in your comments about these things. Are you saying we shouldn’t even bother to try to project revenues and expenses? If you question the results, you can always look at the underlying methodology.

          11. SouthofDavis

            Don wrote:

            > Sorry, but you don’t believe
            > anybody about anything,

            I don’t believe that people that have a reason to hide the truth will want the truth to come out (it is rare that a truly disinterested third party prepares a report).

            I also don’t believe anyone that “projects” exact numbers in the future.

            Most projections I see say something like “in year 10 the city will need to spend $45,323.34” when they should say we think there is a 60% chance the city will have to spend over $40K.

          12. Rob White

            I think the best we can do on this front is to be as accurate as possible with the inputs and use best practices to see what the projections might tell us. One truism that was stated is that projects are rarely judged on their forecasts but their performance over time. Having been involved in economic development for over 2 decades, I can count very few projects that performed as stated. Some did better (Raley Field in West Sac and Mori Seiki come to mind) and some did worse (Stockton Arena and Downtown Sac mall). It was largely dependent on a mix of project management, operations after opening, the economic conditions during operations, and context of site location and surrounding amenities. We can all point to something that just didn’t go as well as we had hoped. And for Davis, it is our job to be as sure as we can that all of the indicators are heading in the right direction and that we take advantage of an increasing opportunity, and not those of a waning economy (as we saw in 2007).

          13. DavisBurns

            My thanks as well. I also wonder about new locations for shilling et al to relocate and expand without looking at whether there will be a demand for the places they vacate. While we don’t want to lose those businesses we don’t want to end up with new facilities generating the same revenue.

            We had a business in one of the office parks off Pena Drive and business after business closed leaving the place mostly empty. I wonder what revenues the city collects from this type of development and if there are any efforts to attract or incentives to maintain tenants.

          14. Davis Progressive

            your point while a good one, misses the point that the three companies mentioned above are going to expand beyond anything we have at this point in time.

        2. Davis Progressive

          ” you and I both know that it is only a blocking tactic.”

          how is that a blocking tactic? shouldn’t we know if your preferred solution is likely to work before we implement it?

          “Because there are no alternatives for generating revenue to the city other than economic development.”

          but there are alternatives to the type of economic development proposals we implement

          “So, we are beyond the need to provide you or anyone else details in numbers so you can decide if you want to support it or not.”

          that’s absurd. we don’t need data because you’ve decided what your answer is?

          “We are at a point where that is a useless waste of time. What we should be doing at this point is smart designs to integrate as many of our city values as possible.”

          what’s a useless waste of time is floating a proposal that fails because you’ve lost patience.

          “Do you want to be part of the solution, or just part of the problem?”

          rhetorical nonsense

          1. Frankly

            “but there are alternatives to the type of economic development proposals we implement”

            So are you advocating a new measure for Davis voters to be able to approve or decline each business that might locate to the business park? Talk about absurd.

            Do you even understand what a business park is?

            Here is how it works…

            The business park is developed with maybe one or a few committed tenants and a marketing engine to attract new tenants. The build out of that park might take 10 years.

            So how can anyone predict the total revenue? We don’t know the full inventory of business that might decide to locate there.

            It is silly to keep asking those types of questions. We don’t need to ask those types of questions. We know that a business park will generate revenue for the city. We know this because ALL business parks throughout the nation generate revenue for their local governments. All cities throughout the nation are competing for the limited number of businesses that exist to locate in their community for the very reason that this is the ONLY way to generate SUSTAINABLE new revenue for the city.

            The SOLUTION is the business park. If you keep demanding that someone commit to specifics before you can support it, then you are part of the ongoing problem of too little revenue from too little economic activity.

          2. Don Shor

            We know this because ALL business parks throughout the nation generate revenue for their local governments.

            Actually there are business parks that have failed. Or that took much longer for buildout and occupancy than expected. Or somewhere in between (see: Redding).

            It is silly to keep asking those types of questions. We don’t need to ask those types of questions.

            Perhaps it would be better to ask Tia and DP what kind of information they are seeking. There are people who know how much different types of development yield and what their typical costs are. Perhaps if they put their questions in writing here, they could be collated and submitted to the ITF.
            Redding: “Cushman & Wakefield, an international firm, has been marketing the still-empty 700-acre business park for the past five and a half years.” http://anewscafe.com/2014/01/22/redding-switches-realtors-in-effort-to-spur-stillwater-business-park-sales/
            We’re not talking about a park that is filling slowly. It is EMPTY after five and a half years.

          3. Frankly

            That is in Redding, not Davis. Not on the busy I-80 corridor. It is not comparable in the least. Also, the timing was bad.

            But regardless, this does nothing to support your demand that someone commit to all the details before you agree to support a business park development. Obviously there were investors in that business park development that thought it was a good idea, and they would know MUCH more than any average Davis citizen about the costs-benefits-risks, etc.

            You seem to be making the case that if only those stupid developers would invite you to analyze all their projections you would be able to prevent them from making a mistake.

            And… what do you call a business park without business?

            Answer: open-space.

            You and Tia would be happy with that.

          4. Don Shor

            your demand that someone commit to all the details before you agree to support a business park development.

            I have never made such a demand. Ever. I have repeatedly stated my position on economic development with a high degree of specificity about where and how and what.
            Why do you continue, for months and months and months, to misrepresent my position on these things? When you know something is not true, but say it anyway, that is called lying. I will ask you again, as I have asked you before, to please stop lying about my positions.
            Redding is an extreme example. But it proved that your statement was wrong: “ALL business parks throughout the nation generate revenue for their local governments.”
            At least over a five year period, that business park has generated ZERO revenues.

          5. TrueBlueDevil

            a) I have seen no one propose a 700-acre business park here.

            b) Redding is in the middle of nowhere. They have a cool bridge. Davis has a UC campus, and is 15 minutes from Sacramento.

            You’re comparing apples to turtles.

          6. Davis Progressive

            “So are you advocating a new measure for Davis voters to be able to approve or decline each business that might locate to the business park? Talk about absurd.”

            i’m not. i’m asking that proper evaluations be performed by city staff. while the h/c center isn’t a measure j vote, it will require a conditional use permit.

            “Do you even understand what a business park is?”

            no boss, why don’t you explain it to me.

        3. Tia Will

          “And you and I both know that it is only a blocking tactic. ”

          No Frankly, I do not know it is a blocking tactic. When you state “What we should be doing at this point is smart designs to integrate as many of our city values as possible.”

          Those designs are not going to look so smart if they do not produce the economic prosperity that is needed by the city or if they cause unforeseen problems that cause need for financial outlay. Are you really going to tell me that you would start a new business without first drawing up a business plan ? Do you think I would have the support of my superiors if I said that I wanted to build a new hospital but didn’t think that I should have to provide any specific information about the need, the cost to build and staff, anticipated numbers of patients, anticipated generated revenue ?
          Heck, I can’t even ask to start a new clinical service without making a comprehensive business plan for it. But you are telling me, I should just trust you ?

  3. Frankly

    For one thing, the land was already designated to go into conservation easement and the proposal to do otherwise under the best of circumstances would have generated controversy.

    So, the current council points back at past councils for their complete lack of fiscal prudence and for pandering to their special interest groups to the detriment of the rest of us.

    And the current council decides to give away a city asset valued at $100,000,000.00 over a 10-year build out of a business park for what I understand was a $500,000 loss.

    Pot meet kettle.

          1. Frankly

            Oh I know that many people in this town do not think my way… but then math seems to be a pretty universal fact-based discipline. So I wonder if they are not so much “thinking”, and I am hoping that the math light-bulb will go on at some point.

            If we can just agree with the math then there is plenty of room to disagree on all that other stuff.

      1. Davis Progressive

        “And the current council decides to give away a city asset valued at $100,000,000.00 over a 10-year build out of a business park for what I understand was a $500,000 loss.”

        this refers to the decision by the council to put mace 391 into a conservation easement rather than a business park. frankly is a bit unrealistic in believing that the voters would approve that project in the required measure r vote.

        1. Mark West

          Actually, keeping Mace 391 out of the easement, but not building on it was probably the best use of the property. Having Mace 391 as an option the City could have used that as leverage to get the best deal, for the City and the people of Davis, on the Mace 200 or northwest quadrant parcels. If we didn’t like the deals that were proposed, we could always at least threaten to move forward on the land the City owned. Without that leverage, we are limited by what the land owners / developers want to do, which is why we have Parlin saying they want a housing component on the northwest quadrant site.

          We didn’t need to make the all-or-nothing decision that was made, but there were too many short-sighted people in the room (and on this blog) pushing their own agendas.

          1. Don Shor

            there were too many short-sighted people in the room (and on this blog) pushing their own agendas.

            I agree with that sentence, and disagree with all of the other ones in your comment.
            I am unsure why you would not want a housing component on the northwest quadrant site. Do we not need more high-density housing as well as more business development?
            Are you under the impression that we won’t ‘get the best deal’ on the Ramos/Bruner site proposal?
            And it is a given that we are always “limited by what the land owners/ developers want to do” — just look at Cannery.
            Until we got Mace 391 out of the way, literally nothing was going to move forward anywhere else. It’s off the table, and other projects are moving forward. You need to stop fermenting your sour grapes on this issue.

          2. Don Shor

            You and Matt and Frankly were the ones with the agenda, and would apparently stop at nothing to achieve it. Distortions, misrepresentations, lies, hyperbole, and collateral harm to the open space and ag communities were simply how you chose to do business if that’s what it took to get your way. I urge anyone who doubts me to just scroll back through the conversations on the Vanguard in September and October about Mace 391. I began to believe you were probably investors in the property, given your level of bile and vitriol.

          3. Frankly

            You are a kick Don.

            Too bad you cannot get that those of us pushing for fiscal responsibility are the moral and ethical ones. Working to save the city from those that stick their head in the stand still writing checks we cannot cash. Still giving up $100 million-dollar assets when we are looking at $100+ million dollar deficits.

            Talk about lies, distortions, misrepresentations.

            The Yolo Land Trust’s reputation is what it is primarily because of Davis. And come to find out I and others were correct in that the material impact to the Yolo Land Trust had the city council voted to retain that $100 million asset instead of giving it away for $500,000 less than we paid for it, was nothing. It was a hyped-up lie that gave cover to the nogrowthers.

            So, whine and cry and stomp your foot… get some low level USDA administrator to come up and tell yet another Federal government fib to help you get what YOU want despite the financial impact to a city that basically made your reputation in the first place, and that is heading toward major fiscal problems.

            Moral? Ethical? Nope. It was a fine display of greed. We have 5000 acres of open space preserved, yet this additional 391 was demanded so that the Yolo Land Trust could fatten their portfolio. Any corrupt Wall Street banker would recognize that type of move and give some hearty high-fives.

          4. Don Shor

            I supported the conservation easement for Mace 391 to protect prime farmland and to prevent further development to the east of that parcel. Now that it is in a conservation easement, and the adjacent parcels are city-owned, the Ramos/Bruner parcel can be developed without causing development pressure in any direction. Now the ITF can assess that site, and the properties in the Northwest Quadrant, and possibly inside the Mace Curve, as well as Nishi, for development of business parks. That is a good compromise that sacrifices some prime farmland but doesn’t increase development pressures on other sites, yielding potential revenues for the city and jobs.
            It is a balanced growth approach that could lead to several hundred acres being developed for businesses, helps to keep a couple of homegrown businesses here, and establishes a firm urban limit line on the east side of town.
            For you to claim the “moral and ethical” high ground on this issue is preposterous. You continue to paint those of us who advocate for balanced growth practices as greedy and demanding and whining and all the other ad hominems you like to throw around.
            I have been very clear about what sites and types of economic development I support. I have been very clear about what types of fiscal policies I support. Simply because you disagree with me, you persist in distorting and insulting me and all the others on the ‘other’ side of the issue. That says more about your character than it does about any validity of your arguments.

          5. Realchangz

            Don,

            From the Yolo Land Trust Website:

            “Why should you consider a Conservation Easement for your property?

            You are the owner and steward of your land and you want to preserve your land for future generations.

            You have built your legacy in a place you cherish and you do not want it to be subdivided and developed.

            You love Yolo County and you want to help preserve its rural and agricultural character.

            A Conservation Easement can provide you with:
            •Significant income tax reductions.
            •Significant estate tax credits.
            •Peace of mind that your property will be preserved and used the way you wish for all time.”

            Amongst its many other worthy efforts, it seems clear that a driving focus of the YLT is to assist private land owners with permanently securing their estates for future generations of family members, utilizing to full effect all available government subsidies to aide with monetizing the otherwise landlocked asset values of their properties in order to continue with their traditions of farming the land.

            This is clearly a noble and worthy cause.

            However, when such goals find themselves in conflict with the desires and needs of a community to secure its financial future – how appropriate is it for such a special interest group to be influencing the outcome of a public agency of which their primary member beneficiaries are neither residents nor taxpayers?

          6. Realchangz

            From my admittedly inexpert understanding, the property must be owned by a private landowner to be eligible for participation in the program.

          7. Don Shor

            Yet the property in question was owned by the City of Davis. As I recall, and I’m sure someone can correct me if I am inaccurate, the Yolo Land Trust acts as an intermediary, holding the conservation easement. The City then sold the property to a private landowner, who is aware of the conservation easement and gains no financial advantage from it. So your post actually had no relevance to the situation at Mace 391, though it certainly describes how many land trust conservation easements work.

          8. Realchangz

            Sorry, my misunderstanding. I didn’t realize that public sector agencies were eligible to apply for the NRCS grant funding under the program.

          9. Mark West

            Don: It doesn’t surprise me that you don’t understand the value of leverage during a negotiations. Nor does it surprise me that your immediate response is to attack the people you don’t agree with. You keep claiming that you support development, but that support always comes with significant strings attached. What would be interesting is to go back through the discussions about economic development over the past two years and see just how often you contradict yourself with your supposed consistent stance.

            No, I don’t think the City will get the type of deal they could have gotten if we still held the leverage that Mace 391 gave us.

            The only reason that we could not get a better deal with Cannery is because we allowed ourselves to get into a situation where the Cannery was the only available spot in the City to build upon. The developer held the upper hand. If we had an alternative site that could be used as leverage, we would have gotten a better deal. I actually thought that with that example directly in front of your face that you would have understood the value of leverage with Mace 391, but obviously not.

            By your own calculation last summer, the City needs something on the order of 1000 acres of business development to fully address our fiscal needs. That is why I don’t want more housing at the northwest quadrant. We have a greater need for the business space. Besides, the best place for high density housing is near the University, not on the periphery.

            It was only the short sighted who believed that nothing else could happen until Mace 391 was placed in an easement. Fiscally irresponsible and short-sighted.

          10. Don Shor

            Don: It doesn’t surprise me that you don’t understand the value of leverage during a negotiations.

            Of course I do. But that isn’t what would have resulted from the course of action you were advocating. Not at all.

            Nor does it surprise me that your immediate response is to attack the people you don’t agree with.

            Given your behavior on the Vanguard, Mark, specifically your ongoing personal attacks on me, that statement is the height of hypocrisy.

            You keep claiming that you support development,

            I have been very specific, so why do you use the term ‘claiming’?

            but that support always comes with significant strings attached.

            Really? What strings are attached to my support of Nishi? To my support of the process currently underway regarding Ramos/Bruner and Northwest Quadrant? Name one string I’ve attached to any of that. I call bullshit on this constant, repetitious canard of yours. It’s nonsense. Total nonsense.

            What would be interesting is to go back through the discussions about economic development over the past two years and see just how often you contradict yourself with your supposed consistent stance.

            Go for it. Give me a single example. Otherwise, time for you to withdraw your accusation that I’m inconsistent about economic development.

            It was only the short sighted who believed that nothing else could happen until Mace 391 was placed in an easement. Fiscally irresponsible and short-sighted.

            Actually, it’s a reasonable analysis borne out by subsequent events.

          11. Don Shor

            Just one example, Mark, of my alleged inconsistency on economic development. Still waiting. In the absence of any such example, I consider you’re just exhibiting the same disreputable behavior you showed last fall, over and over again.

          12. Frankly

            Well said. I agree.

            We gave away a very valuable asset only to appease the rabid land preservation extremists and contribute to their unending greed to build an ag land moat around the city and to prevent peripheral development of any kind.

            Don consistently contradicts himself and gets easily frustrated that we don’t just accept what he wants us to believe.

          13. Don Shor

            Same challenge: find an instance where I have contradicted myself on economic development issues. Otherwise withdraw the accusation.
            Also,

            rabid land preservation extremists and contribute to their unending greed

            is the kind of ad hominem I was referring to before. You really should stop.

          14. Jim Frame

            The only reason that we could not get a better deal with Cannery is because we allowed ourselves to get into a situation where the Cannery was the only available spot in the City to build upon.

            The only reason we didn’t (not “couldn’t”) get a better deal on the Cannery is because the City Council, in aggregate, didn’t want to. The city was under no obligation to approve the Cannery for residential development. We were under no serious threat of sanction under the SACOG fair-share obligation, though the threat of same was raised in order to drum up support. The Council majority decided that the negotiated deal was acceptable, and moved ahead with it. They weren’t forced.

          15. Davis Progressive

            but you have to get it through a measure r vote and with all of the turmoil, that wasn’t going to happen.

          16. Mark West

            If you are using the property as leverage, there is absolutely no need for a Measure R vote. That would only be required if you decided to move forward. You have to convince the other land owners that you are willing to make that choice, but you never actually have to. Besides, if we just held on to the land, in 5 or 10 years the fiscal reality may have finally sunk even to those with their heads in the sand.

            We owned the land. We already controlled whether or not it would be developed. There was no urgency to put it into a conservation easement, and doing so was fiscally irresponsible, even if we never chose to develop it in the future.

          17. Rob White

            Update – The development team that is likely to bring a proposal forward for the Northwest Quadrant has verbally assured city representatives that they are not planning to propose housing as part of an innovation park proposal.

  4. Frankly

    no it doesn’t. in fact, several of the proposal listed in this article do not involve that. the city may get half a million in revenue from the hotel-conference center.

    From my estimate the city needs to increase its general fund inflows from $47 million to $67 million per year in order to meet the basic budget requirements for general operating expenses, infrastructure and reserves.

    That might be short given the fact that there is non-road infrastructure maintenance backlog that hasn’t been estimated.

    How are we going to increase our revenues $20 million a year.

    If Measure O passes we get another $3.5 million.

    I have heard that we expect tax receipts to be stronger this year and maybe add another $1.5 million.

    So now we are only short $15 million.

    So, if not business parks, how do you propose we fill that gap?

    If I understand correctly, if we close a fire station and merge with UCD we can save another $5 million per year.

    1. Tia Will

      “If I understand correctly, if we close a fire station and merge with UCD we can save another $5 million per year.”

      If this is true, it gets us to 10 million and would have my strong support.

  5. Frankly

    There is another point to consider relative to a business park or two in Davis.

    Economies are always cyclical. There are boom and bust periods. If we don’t start a business park today and start filling it in a year or two, we will likely miss this boom cycle. And then we very well might have more vacancies than was planned or hoped for. But then who’s fault would that be?

  6. DavisBurns

    I can’t imagine how the Richards blvd location can handle the traffic from a seven story hotel but I guess that’s why we have traffic engineers. Does anyone know how many hotel rooms we have in Davis and the occupancy rate? Do we just assume that the developers know what they are doing and will be able to create the demand to make the conference center profitable, assuming that if it’s profitable for them it’s profitable for the City?

  7. Tia Will

    “Do we just assume that the developers know what they are doing and will be able to create the demand to make the conference center profitable, assuming that if it’s profitable for them it’s profitable for the City?”

    I think this is an excellent question. Perhaps one of our experienced businessmen or women would like to take a crack at it.

    1. Frankly

      Simply check the average vacancy rates of our existing hotels. I think they are much higher than average. When I have company events/meetings often we are unable to get enough rooms at area hotels and have to put people up in Sacramento.

      I think we have a lot of tax leakage from the lack of hotel rooms. Also, there is a lack of conference and meeting space.

      And if we grow our economy like we should, the need for these things will increase. The tax revenue derived from the hotel services needed by business is one of those secondary benefits of economic development that is material, but hard to predict.

      My preference would be something like this downtown….

      http://napa.andaz.hyatt.com/en/hotel/home.html

    1. Rob White

      They will appear about the same size in context to their surroundings, though I can’t speak to the actual height. Mrak is 5 stories and the proposed hotel is 7 stories. But not all stories are created equal. Though a rough gauge of a story height is about 10 feet, it is also dependent on clear heights for mechanical equipment (air ducts, etc). And newer retail is typically 20 feet or so on the first story. So, actual heights and stories can vary widely.

  8. Rob White

    Here is some new info that makes the case for a hotel conference center a bit more compelling… our neighbors to the east are seeing a significant increase in total occupancy rates and average daily room rates. This means our local Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) (which is a percentage of the nightly room rate) and our ability to retain overnight guests in Davis is an improving situation.
    http://www.bizjournals.com/sacramento/blog/morning-roundup/2014/03/sacramento-hotel-rates-occupancy-rise-again.html?ana=e_sac_rdup&s=newsletter&ed=2014-03-21

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