The Sierra Club Monday officially endorsed the individual candidacies of Rochelle Swanson and Robb Davis for the two open Davis City Council seats in the June 2014 election. The endorsement process followed an exhaustive review of the responses of all city council candidates to a series of questions about their positions on environmental matters in Davis.
According to Bob Schneider, Conservation Chair of the Sierra Club Yolano Group, “I appreciate Rochelle’s strong environmental core values and demonstrated voting record supporting a sustainable city.”
Alan Pryor, Chair of the Yolano Group, stated about the endorsement of Robb Davis: “Robb embodies the principles of a sustainable low-energy lifestyle and a commitment to helping others in the community similarly reduce their carbon footprint. His unending advocacy for improved bike safety and mode-share in Davis and his deep understanding of other pressing environmental matters in Davis serves as a leadership model for others in the community.”
While the Sierra Club has had and probably will have differences with the candidates on specific issues in the future, the Club appreciates the solid commitments and efforts these candidates have made to improve the general environment and sustainability in Davis and proudly supports their candidacies.
The following are the candidates’ written responses.
Question: What additional steps by the City and residents do you believe would be most effective in reducing the city’s carbon footprint and environmental impacts?
In partnership with PG&E, the state and other entities, rebates and incentives should be utilized to increase energy efficiencies in homes, apartments, businesses and public entities. A large swath of the single family homes in Davis (e.g: Mace Ranch, Wildhorse, parts of South Davis) are now 20+ years old and could benefit from appliance and HVAC system updates. The Cool Davis Initiative is a good start but information needs to get to home and business owners. We should also continue to enhance and advertise safe routes to schools and expansion of electronic check in for student bike riders which could increase student bicycle riding and decrease auto emissions. Education of residents on smart cooling techniques for the Davis summer (such as close shades and windows in the morning and open at night) could decrease much of the high energy use in the summer. We almost never put on the air conditioning when using this technique in conjunction with our whole house fan. An evaluation of the public transportation system could also help to reduce the carbon footprint for those that cannot use bicycle transportation. This is particularly important for seniors[divider]
A full implementation of the newly approved comprehensive Beyond Platinum Bicycle Action Plan over the next five years is one critical way to reduce the city’s carbon footprint. As noted in the plan: “In Davis, the transportation sector is responsible for 57% of the city’s total GHG emissions with personal vehicles accounting for over 75% of all transportation emissions, or 43% of total emissions.” By achieving the stated goal of a 30% bicycle mode share for all trips in Davis, this plan will contribute to reducing GHG. The plan is comprehensive and will require the participation of, and cooperation among, many city actors including non-profits, the business community, DJUSD, and the University.
Another step will be to increase the use of public transit by proactively taking actions to change the perception of the Unitrans bus system from that of a “student” bus system to that of a community bus system. This will require marketing efforts as well as considering changes to the hours of operation. While challenging, moving mode share out of automobiles and into public transit will further reduce GHG. This step is reflected in one of the 19 recommendations from the Downtown Parking Task Force.
It is important to note that most of the parking management tools are designed to allow people who drive into the downtown to quickly find a parking space. It is estimated that when occupancy rates exceed 85%, three out of four cars circulating in an area are in search of a parking space. Better management of parking to reduce occupancy rates will reduce CHG emissions by enabling people to get out of their cars more quickly.
The implementation of a “buy local” campaign in cooperation with Downtown Davis would also provide an opportunity to encourage purchases in town, potentially decreasing trips to remote out of town locations.
I believe there is more we can do in regional cooperation to reduce the number of car trips to and from our city, and I would like my time on the City Council to be characterized by finding ways to promote alternatives to automobile use within our city and between our city and other locations (especially to cities in Solano County to which we are only minimally connected by public transit). Given the high contribution of personal transportation in the production of GHG, I believe investments in alternatives to automobile use are critical to CHG emission reductions.[divider]
It is first necessary to understand what is under the City’s control. Environmental impact includes just about everything, so there needs to be a more specific question to be answered here. Carbon footprint reduction could include continued work on building standards to reduce heating and cooling needs and working to promote traffic flow that reduces fuel consumption[divider]
Transportation remains the number one generator of greenhouse gas emissions in the city of Davis. The easiest, most cost effective way I can think of to reduce two trips a day for Davis residents is to work with the DJUSD to have more students bike to school, I elaborate more on this when I answered the bike question below.
I think the City should utilize a community solar farm. By my estimation 40% of Davis homes are too shaded to install solar panels effectively. When I was launching “Solarize Davis,” a program to crowdsurf solar panels, a number of homes that wanted to go solar were unable to do so. I have always wanted to try a community solar farm that homeowners could buy into, a big reason why I support a POU because I doubt PG&E will let it happen. A solar farm provides the same electricity as a rooftop system but with its increased economies of scale is cheaper and homeowner concerns about roof damage are completely negated.
Ringing Davis with community farms is my endgame when it comes to the city’s efforts for zero waste. The city should create a community compost where our green waste and compostable foodstuffs (all a part of our mandatory recycling/compostable ordinance) will be delivered too. This compost can be used to nurture community farms. I attended four different DJUSD schools and my favorite school was Fairfield elementary for the sole reason that each student had a garden. Nowadays the “Garden for every student” has really taken off with the “Farm to Forks” program and I think class field trips to community gardens and farms can develop lifelong habits for a healthy lifestyle. “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” grants are available and in conjunction with our Measure O money the city can establish an urban fringe comprised of community farms.[divider]
The City needs to continue to implement the Climate Action & Adaptation Plan. While it is important to always be looking forward and adjusting policies to reduce the city’s carbon footprint, we need to utilize the Plan in place that has been overwhelmingly supporting by our community. The most effective policies are those that encourage the greatest amount of adoption and compliance. While it may be tempting to hit the tightest targets and follow the most aggressive path to carbon neutrality, non-compliance and opposition stymies progress and excludes those looking for a balanced approach they can financially manage and incorporate into their daily lives.
Additional steps include, but are not limited to:
-support the education and outreach to residents and businesses on the latest option available to fund renewable energy sources (PV, insulation, upgraded appliances) and reduce water consumption. We must go to the individual homes and businesses to inquiry about interest and provide concrete information directly applicable to that person. Simply holding events and outreach meetings will only capture a small percentage of the community.
-financial and educational support throughout the k-12 system, public and private, to provide safe biking and pedestrian routes and sufficient bike parking to support every student able to commute to school the means to be successful.
-Improved infrastructure for electric and hybrid cars
-An updated review of fleet and leased vehicles to systematically replace and upgrade to reliable and cost effective zero emission vehicles.
-identify funding sources to encourage solar panels over existing parking lots ( i.e. market rate loans via city resources)
-Require new paved parking surfaces to have solar panels that also incorporate a sustainable ratio of trees to provide additional shade canopy and CO2 conversion.
Question: Do you support a proposed ordinance mandating solar photovoltaics on new single family, multi-family, or commercial construction in Davis if not otherwise planned for a net-zero energy use?
It is always smart to encourage expansion of solar for homes and businesses. I am concerned about a mandate. The city should put ordinances and permitting procedures into place that makes solar a positive choice and easy choice to make. There are already many mandates for building housing with some strong requirements for energy efficiency that I support. A different way of encouraging solar is PACE (Property Assured Clean Energy) programs for building assessments associated with the house. This could be a means to finance energy efficiency upgrades or renewable energy installations for buildings.[divider]
I would say yes definitely in the case of housing that is well sited/suited for solar voltaics. Further I strongly support an option to pay for off site (but within the city) solar photovoltaics if the site in question is not well sited/suited to their installation (because of planned or existing tree canopy for example).
In the case of commercial construction (which I assume means retail, office sites, research facilities, etc.) flexible approaches may make sense. By flexible I mean options that would permit developers to offset carbon emissions (implied by uses) by contributions to other carbon emission reduction activities such as local transit support, or residential solar support programs. Such offsets should provide direct carbon emission reductions based on agreed upon local offset options.
The above assumes on my part that the “end” we wish to achieve by “zero net energy” is a reduction in GHG emissions associated with energy production and delivery. I would also like to suggest that such an ordinance would be best implemented (due to positive incentive opportunities) if the City were to achieve the goal of a publicly owned utility and we may want to consider phasing such an ordinance with the achievement of that goal.[divider]
No. I would not consider promoting use of solar photovoltaics until cost is both initially and in the long-term competitive with other sources of electricity. This is an issue of housing affordability as well as energy efficiency or GHG reduction.[divider]
Absolutely. Davis has close to 1500 residential photovoltaic systems already. The DJUSD has taken it upon itself to install solar carports in several of its schools and a growing number of commercial buildings such as the Co-op.
While a lot of good work was done on the Cannery I was frustrated that we had to persuade the Developer to put 1.5kw on each home, something like that should be mandatory. Honestly, the way solar prices are these days I suspect 3kw was perfectly reasonable and even requiring net-zero is doable.
An ordinance will do the trick but I suspect modifying the general plan to require all developers to include certain energy use requirements would be the best way to go. Any planning should be done as a holistic approach including energy, water and affordable housing use.[divider]
I am on the record supportive of the concept of mandating PV [photo voltaics] on all new construction. Before we can adopt such a mandate, City staff in partnership with our community partners in sustainable energy need to further explore, analyze and consider what factors the community is willing to forgo to encourage remodels and sustainable construction. I have, and will continue to, raise concerns that a sole focus on new construction bypasses the larger source of GHG emissions coming from existing structures.
Question: A number of discussions have been had by the City Council about the advisability of a City Publicly-Owned Utility in which the City of Davis could acquire the electricity transmission assets of PG&E within the City. Recognizing that many details need to be resolved, what are your general feelings on this subject?
In general, I support investigating the feasibility of a Publicly Owned Utility for Davis and I have supported it in the past. I am very concerned regarding the recent commitment of up to $600,000 during these difficult fiscal times for the city to investigate this approach. This is something that should wait until we have stabilized our budget and funding is available to reasonably assess. We have already gone through something similar in 2006 and PG&E, with its vast resources, effectively stopped it. I would like to have a well-timed discussion in the future, but not now.[divider]
My general feelings are that the power production and transmission industry is in a period of major upheaval as it moves to a widely dispersed power production and transmission model. We are seeing, in real time, a move towards more localized power production; a move that will result in a much more resilient system.
This transition offers great opportunities for the City of Davis but in the short run will lead, no doubt, to great resistance by Investor-Owned Utilities whose business models are not evolving rapidly enough to adapt to these seemingly inevitable (and desirable) changes. The Investor-Owned Utilities simply are not equipped to support a widely dispersed and locally controlled system and will fight it in the years ahead.
This does not mean that I think we should shrink back from walking forward into this future but rather that we will need strong leadership at all levels of City government to face the inevitable challenges. Thankfully we have, among our citizenry, some of the nation’s most knowledgeable and experienced experts in the field. From conversations I have had or observed with several of these people I believe that they are willing and ready to help us develop a solid plan to move forward in a timely and robust way towards a POU. I am agnostic as to exactly how our POU should or will be structured, but will support the efforts of these individuals, and local groups such as the Valley Climate Action Center to provide City staff and the City Council with expert advice on how to proceed.[divider]
My requirement for seriously considering a Davis POU are that it be clear from the outset that a City owned electric utility must be as reliable as what it replaces and provide electricity at rates that are competitive with PG&E. This should not become a feel good project that increases costs to Davis residents. Something that I have yet to hear about is any discussion of inherited charges that would be carried over from the current private utility to a City owned utility.[divider]
As someone who has sold solar panels across Northern California I can confidently say that there are better alternatives to PG&E. I wholeheartedly support the notion of a public power company and as a city council member I am willing to fight the good fight with PG&E to bring public power to Davis. It was the original effort to bring SMUD to Davis that got me interested in city politics (and may very well have contributed to me choosing a career in solar). One of the prongs of my campaign platform in fact is bringing public power to Davis. PG&E was far less expensive back in 2006 than it is today yet the people of Davis voted 64% to 36% to bring SMUD into Davis, it is clear that the people of Davis are looking for an alternative to PG&E.
While the idea of DMUD is a good one I think starting with a CCA like Marin County and eventually moving into our own utility is a better one. Marin Clean Energy is currently less expensive than PG&E for residential and commercial use. Marin Clean Energy also has a generous Feed-In-Tariff which contributes to a distributed energy supply.
PG&E currently has a Feed-In-Tariff but it is so far below the levelized cost of energy it is not worth homeowners taking part in it.
A POU will also increase the supply of our electricity coming from Renewable Energy Sources. A POU can enable my dream of a community solar farm and allow us greater flexibility when working with UCD to come up with new energy sources.[divider]
I am on the record supporting the exploration of Davis pursuing a publicly owned utility (POU). In general, I believe a POU is reflective of our community’s collective values of energy conservation and self-reliance that allows the greatest flexibility of choosing the greenest energy sources.
As I have raised the point in a number of public meetings, the study has to be phased and prudent in the spending of city dollars in furtherance of a viable energy solution. If we are able to determine it is both feasible and the right move for Davis, then I am supportive. Having a POU in Davis is a complex subject with a number of pros and cons. One major concern for me is the potential loss of the infrastructure which currently is in place of manpower, equipment, and expertise for when natural disasters or other causes of power-loss occur. We need to explore all of the advantages and disadvantages to a POU to understand the positive and negative consequences so that we can make an informed decision. While we explore the potential for a POU, I believe we must continue to consider other models of green, renewal energy solutions that get us closer to independence from non-renewable energy sources.
Question: Davis has adopted a Zero Waste Resolution striving to achieve zero waste by 2025. As part of this program they have restricted distribution of single-use plastic bags by stores and/or imposed a fee on store-provided paper bags starting July 1. Do you support this ordinance and why or why not? Many cities have also restricted food service industry use of non-recyclable or non-compostable food service and drink containers. Would you support or oppose such restrictions in Davis and why or why not?
Yes, I support this ordinance. Since a stay in Germany in 1994 I have been using cloth bags for my shopping trips. With plenty of bags in my vehicles and near the door I almost always remember. Single use bags are a waste of plastic and a long term environmental waste problem. I do however think that take-out food should be allowed to use biodegradable materials and bags in order for the food to safely get home.
I would also support an ordinance that would restrict non-recyclable or non-compostable food service and drink containers as a means to decrease single use, non-recyclable containers. Each step that we take to decrease plastic and other non-recyclables will be better for our environment.[divider]
I support the restriction on single use plastic bags because there are other options that are reusable and I see little added cost to consumers or merchants of promoting behavior change towards such options. A ban is preferred to charging a fee.
I do not support charging a fee on store-provided paper bags. Such bags provide a reasonable fallback to those who forget reusable options and the store can decide to charge a fee for such a service if it desires. Traditional unbleached paper bags are biodegradable and have gardening and composting uses. I do not fully understand the need to require that a fee be imposed on them.
Given the options that are now available to food providers I would be open to engaging in a conversation with them to develop a program to restrict the use of non-compostable, non-recyclable containers. This may begin as a voluntary program but experience with food service at the Wednesday night Farmers’ Market in Davis leads me to conclude that such a restriction could be reasonably implemented more broadly and could evolve into a city-wide restriction.
I should add one note to this topic (and others here related to mandatory programs): I do have some concerns about how compliance will be assessed or enforced given the reduced work force in all City departments. Any policy or ordinance that requires action by a broad group of actors comes with the need to enforce compliance. I will acknowledge that enforcement is an issue that I need to better understand going forward as I doubt that, in the short run at least, we have the City workforce to assure full compliance. This is not an argument for voluntary approaches but rather an acknowledgement of the limits to effectively enforcing mandatory restrictions in the face of constrained City resources.[divider]
I do not support city control of retail packaging, including plastic bags. The city has enough to do, and is not doing an adequate job of, providing routine services to be spending its time and resources trying to control people’s lives. I personally support use of recyclable and compostable packaging, but this is a bigger picture issue, while cities need to focus on community services.[divider]
I supported the plastic bag ban. I grew up in the outskirts of Davis and driving into town I have seen hundreds if not thousands of plastic bags being blown around. On a windy day in particular the landfill “Fence” is simply inadequate to keep plastic bags in the landfill.
What I loved about the plastic bag ban is that it was a win win for everyone. By not having to pay for thousands of plastic bags and being able to charge for paper bags stores could eliminate one cost of doing business. The landfill will be able to dramatically cut hours down since they wont have to constantly pick up litter flying around and volunteer hours will be saved from littering and will be able to help out in other areas.
I would support restricting non-compostable or non-recyclable food service and drink containers. Styrofoam in particular is a material that needs to be replaced with a compostable option. Banning the non-compostable foodware is the first step. The second step is to come up with a system that collects all of the compostable/recyclable material and have it be directed to DWR. If we follow in the steps of San Francisco, Food Service Waste Reduction is the next step before an eventual mandatory composting and recycling program.[divider]
I have supported the Zero- Waste Resolution and continue to support it. I am on record supporting the restrictions on single-use bags and the other components of the Climate Action and Adaption Plan. I support the restrictions on plastic bags as it is further reduces impacts on the landfill, the immediate community and the long-term overuse of non-renewable resources. I support moving to recyclable and compostable containers. I have personally advocated for this in the restaurants in which I have been associated. I believe we need to include the food service industry on what products work well. All these products are not created equal. Not all food products can be used in all compostable containers, but can be used in recyclable containers. The City must also do its part to support diversion. Increased recycle and compost cans throughout the city. Until we mandate the move to more sustainable food and drink containers, those that utilize these green containers are at an economic disadvantage to those that do not. However, any mandate or restriction must address and incorporate the needs and concerns of those regulated.
Question: The long term waste management plan for the City of Davis calls for mandatory commercial and residential food scrap composting and recycling. Do you support these measures and why or why not?
It makes quite a bit of sense to make commercial and multifamily food waste collection and composting as easy as possible. I support a system that makes it easy to happen and closes the loop with composting and use of this compost. Commercial kitchens and multifamily recycling potentially generate the greatest amount of compostable materials that can be centrally collected and composted.[divider]
I support diversion of food scraps from our waste stream. However, I have not yet seen an evaluation of the voluntary commercial food scrap composting program initiated by the City. So while I support the long-term plan I would like to assess and fully understand the experience to date on this program in order to develop the most effective program going forward. (Also see my caveat above concerning enforcement).
My only concern about a residential food scrap composting program is that I do not fully understand at this point how people who actively compost on their properties will be able to opt out of a City-wide program—what evidence will they need to provide of their personal composting, for example. There are many citizens who actively compost—even in multi-family dwelling units like where I live. I need to understand better how their voluntary efforts will fit within a City-wide program and, again, I am uncertain what “mandatory” means in relation to residential food scrap collection. What does enforcement look like?
Despite these questions I fully support efforts to develop a city-wide composting program, which will be a mix of on-site individual composting for some residents and off-site collective composting for other residents[divider]
Stop and think that this question includes mandatory “residential food scrap composting.” Are we supposed to create a back yard police patrol? Composting can be promoted (we do it at home), but I would not expect residents to be forced to compost or pay for enforcement. There may be merit in working with restaurants to recycle food waste, if this is not already being done.[divider]
I do, San Francisco has absolutely taken a leadership role in its efforts to become a zero waste city. They have surpassed 80% waste diversion and are well on there way to becoming the first city in the United States to be truly zero waste. I look forward to the day when our city can have mandatory “Fantastic Three” bins outside each home. In order to ease people into the process I think we should take a step-by-step approach like San Francisco did. We have already banned plastic bags the next step is to focus on food service waste reduction and construction debris recovery ordinance. Once people get used to the idea that zero waste is both feasible and ultimately good I think a mandatory recycling program can be passed without a major uproar.[divider]
I am on the record supporting commercial and residential food scrap composting. This cannot become mandatory until the city and our waste management partners have the infrastructure to make it successful. Many trash enclosures do not have the space. Many commercial properties have tenants that are not connected to the landowners. The education and mentoring is going to be essential to success. I support these measures because it is essential to divert as much waste as possible from the landfill. I support this management plan and feel that it is a major recycling of nutrients for our agriculture.
Question: The City has proposed a hybrid system of green lawn and food scrap waste collection using a new single, green waste bin. Green tote bins will be used year-round for yard waste and food scraps with periodic additional use of the claw to pick up streetwise piles of green waste at specified times or during selected seasons? Do you support this practice and why or why not? If yes, should the costs for these special pickups be rolled into general waste pick-up rates or be charged to the individual property owner using the “claw” pick-up services?
Initially I supported the change as a way to increase the amount of green and food waste that was collected but as I have studied the issue further and heard from many citizens I now do not support the change at this time. I am concerned that the economic impact and environmental impact is not fully thought through for this change. Some issues that need further investigation include the cost of converting to large plastic bins for the entire city vs. container-less street pick up, environmental costs of making bins, will the new method be more fuel efficient, duplicative waste removal because larger items do not fit in bins and have to be picked up with claws anyway. In my campaign walking this has been the most discussed issue and I have not found anyone that supports the change. I am also concerned about charging families a new fee to support this program. Some will see this as a new tax and there may be other areas where the city would be more interested in getting support from the community, such as the parks parcel tax renewal. As a long term solution we need people to be encouraged to change landscaping to be less water intensive which will likely produce less green waste and make residential composting easy or provide access to the commercial or multiunit composting system that I do support.[divider]
Containerization paves the way for a residential food scrap diversion program and I support removing loose green waste from city streets. However, the most current iteration discussed by the City Council on February 11 makes little sense to me. It would seem to allow continued placing of loose materials onto the street while adding to the overall cost of green waste collection by requiring containers. A hybrid system only makes sense if there is a strong incentive to use containers by requiring those placing green waste in the streets to pay for each pickup. The only caveat I could envision would be a city-wide pickup during leaf drop season.
I am concerned that despite many years of talking about containerization we have arrived at a system that will continue to allow the placing of green waste on the street with no hope of enforcement of ordinances related to pile size or location (such as in bike lanes). The City does not effectively enforce current loose placement standards and the new system could lead to large piles placed for long periods of time in the street—precisely because there is no effective enforcement of pile placement or size or, in the future, dates at which people can deposit green waste.
I am also concerned that we have made what appears to be little effort to enable citizens to compost green waste on site. Would it possibly be more cost effective for the City or DWR to invest in mobile wood chipping equipment that could allow for neighborhood level composting of tree limbs, for example?
I feel that we have a ways to go to create a reasonable program that also accounts for the fact that green waste deposits on some streets DO represent an unreasonable hazard for bicyclists. As a Bike Advisory Commissioner who has sought to work with staff for several years on this issue, I can attest to the fact that there is little stomach for enforcement of green waste standards and even less concern about the real hazards posed by green waste deposits on some streets. Despite efforts to reach reasonable solutions to these challenges the BAC has been routinely frustrated by the lack of movement on this issue. This opinion is my own and does not represent a view of the entire BAC.[divider]
Use of green waste bins will end up costing more than the claw, and I oppose this change. It is also a stupid idea to expect yard waste in a tree city to fit into bins. All I have to do is to look up and down the street to see that there is much more yard pruning, raking, and clippings materials than will fit into bins. These yard materials are already being picked up and made into chipped and composted materials available for other uses. What are the alternatives? I have a pickup and can haul it to the landfill myself. Other residents will simply pay landscape gardeners haul it away. This is going to cost much more to get to the same result as our current weekly pickup service. The proposed hybrid system will require the cost of keeping the claw maintained and personnel available to use it, purchasing and picking up trash from another set of bins, and of private hauling of yard waste between seasonal use of the claw. This will greatly increase cost for a marginal improvement in recycling.[divider]
I do. When my parents were planning to move to Davis the first thing they asked the real estate agent was why we had smelly piles of decomposing trimmings everywhere. I think the recently adopted hybrid system will improve the safety of our streets and contribute to our zero waste goals. In particular I think it is a good step towards eventually requiring a mandatory recycling/composting ordinance.
For the sake of fairness I believe the special pickups should be charged to the individual property owner.[divider]
I am on the record not only supporting the hybrid system, but I also helped guide the policies that I believe have the greatest chance of success and accessibility for all residents. As a green city with an enormous number of trees which help us manage our carbon footprint, it is clear that these trees need management to maximize their lifespan. This requires pruning on a schedule that varies greatly for the many species of tree that we are fortunate enough to have and enjoy in Davis.
The claw should continue to be used seasonally. The blessing of a tree rich community brings a lot of leaves and branches. Since Davis is such a green city, with a significant amount of pruning needed for the maintanence of landscaping and trees in our local residential, commercial as well as our City right of way areas, we need to analyze the data and determine if this new suggested system would work. It is premature for me to make a decision as to whether the costs should be shouldered by all or charged to an individual. I believe we need to be ever vigilant of unintended consequences. If community members fearful of high charges for removing the green waste from trees and landscaping we could see systematic removal of trees, plants and other foliage that becomes a loss for us all.
Question: The Davis City Council has called for a voluntary city-wide 20% reduction in water usage over the next 4 years. Do you support this measure and why or why not? What water conservation measures would you recommend as being most productive and cost-effective?
Yes, I support the voluntary 20% reduction over 4 years. Water is a precious resource and we live in a semi-arid climate even during regular rainfall years. With the potential of an extended drought we must be even more mindful of our water usage and make a commitment as a community to save where we can. The city could provide information to citizens and classes on decreasing water usage. I am particularly interested in changing the local ordinances to allow gray water retrofitting of existing homes and providing incentives for gray water systems for new construction when it can be installed at a much lower cost. I also support the local permaculture movement that utilizes our yards and other green space for low water edible crops. Also, the city, school district and homeowners could install smart water irrigation systems that utilize a moisture detection system rather than a timer which would greatly decrease over watering.[divider]
I fully support this measure for several reasons. First, the fiscal integrity of our water rates is built upon such reductions (across all user groups). Second, according to discussions I have had with tree and gardening experts, there is evidence that many of our public and private spaces are over-watered. Third, while the City has taken the wholly necessary step of diversifying our water supply, we live in a semi-arid region in which maximum conservation of a limited resource should be encouraged. There are many landscaping options that are both attractive AND involve the use of drought-tolerant plants that require little watering.
There is really no reason that we cannot, through voluntary measures, encourage the “re-greening” of our town into a landscape that fits within the ecological realities of our bio-region, is aesthetically pleasing, and uses less water.
The foregoing should make it clear that I believe the most productive and, in the medium- if not short-term, most cost effective means of water conservation concerns external (outdoor) use. In the summer, up to ¾ of the water we use in the city is for external use. It is anticipated that most of the projected 20% savings in the years ahead will come from reducing external use including reducing irrigation in parks and greenbelts as alternative landscaping and other conservation methods are phased in.
Reducing water use is also fiscally responsible. Maximizing the efficiency of irrigation in both public parks and schools translates into cost savings for both City residents and School District residents.[divider]
The city should provide services at the cost of providing that service to its residents. Conservation is a natural result of increasing cost, and I oppose using higher rates to force behavior. This is not our reason for having city governments. The current water rates are not fair to single family users, and if they stay in place, there will be a much larger than 20 percent reduction in use along with withdrawal of large irrigators from the city system. The end result of these policies will be much higher rates on remaining customers to pay fixed costs that are being put in place based on bad, and in some cases self-serving, assumptions. This is just asking for trouble in the future.[divider]
I absolutely support this measure. I went into great detail on it so please read my attached addendum for my full answer.
About 60%-70% of the water consumed during the summer months is used for landscape irrigation, so this is a logical area for water conservation Focusing on alternative landscapes that utilize native plants and/or drought tolerant species may be one way to maintain quality landscapes while using less water. The city of Davis is already connected to the UC Davis Arboretum and their Arboretum Allstars® – many of these plants are non-invasive natives that bloom frequently and require little water. Furthermore, these plants often have few pests and are consistent with a bee friendly urban landscape. Two other important contacts that the city has not engaged are The Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on campus and the California Center for Urban Horticulture. These UC Davis entities are interconnected and focus on Sustainable Backyards from both a drought and pollinator perspective. In fact, the CCUH is sponsoring a program (with the CA. Department of Water Resources) entitled Get Ahead or Get Parched: Six Ways to Survive the Drought. The main focus of this workshop (to be held April 9th) is on managing landscapes during drought. In addition, the CCUH is involved in research designed to evaluate drought tolerant plants and turfgrass. A recent study evaluated the response of 19 species of turfgrass to drought. (http://ccuh.ucdavis.edu/industry/media/UCRExtremeDeficitIrrigationStudy2012.pdf). UC Verde Buffalograss (developed jointly by scientists at UC Davis and UC Riverside) was one of the better performers. This turfgrass can be viewed on the grounds adjacent to the Hyatt Place on the UC Davis campus. Staying current with research can provide the best scientific information on what may be best planted in urban landscapes under reduced irrigation.[divider]
I voted yes for the voluntary city-wide reduction and I will continue to support this target. I support this and other conservation measures since we must do our part of limiting the pull on the water supply locally, regionally and statewide.
Just as we need to implement energy audits to help consumers on energy use, we need to provide support for water use audits. I am also on the record advocating for the exploration of “cash for grass” and other education and support for changing out grass for native plants. Meanwhile, we can encourage the use of water saving devices and appliances such as use of water flow controllers, and water efficient toilets and washing machines. Encouragement of drought tolerant landscaping, year round pool covers, rain water capture, gray water capture and other strategies that can be easily implemented by the average Davis resident.
Question: Do you support or oppose municipal water fluoridation in Davis and why or why not?
For the current water project, the current city council has already decided to not fluoridate Davis water. As a public health nurse, former First Five Commissioner, School Board member and health advocate I support community municipal water fluoridation. This kind of public health measure is important for reducing the City’s retiree health benefits costs as well as the health benefits costs of current employees. The reduction in oral health (dental) costs for ALL families in Davis who benefit from fluoridation can help to offset the increased cost of water precipitated by the conversion of our water system from well to river water. Finally, eventual fluoridation accomplishes important social justice goals of reducing health disparities among the different subgroups in our town who are our friends, neighbors, and residents of Davis.[divider]
As a public health professional this is an extremely difficult issue for me to deal with. I would note two key points before discussing the merits of fluoridation in Davis.
First, as a general rule, the preferred response to a given public health problem, when possible, is to use approaches that are not reliant on repeated individual behaviors to achieve the end. This is why public health professionals favor things like immunization programs (though requiring initial behavioral choices by individuals), water treatment, wastewater treatment, food fortification, and smoking restrictions (for second hand smoke reduction).
While some may dispute the notion that community water fluoridation is truly a behavior-independent approach to preventing tooth decay, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still does refer to it in these terms: “For 65 years, community water fluoridation has been a safe and healthy way to effectively prevent tooth decay. CDC has recognized water fluoridation as one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.”
And this raises my second point: as a public health practitioner I must acknowledge that I cannot be expert in all areas of public health interventions. And so while I have become quite proficient in dealing with the public health challenges and responses to infant and child nutrition or malaria prevention and treatment (for example), I lack the detailed understanding of the best approaches to prevent cavities. In such cases I rely on the advice of agencies such as the CDC, WHO and the American Public Health Association (APHA). These organizations have affirmed the value of community wide fluoridation while acknowledging the need to set clear standards for its delivery.
I cannot deny that these two realities strongly condition me to support community wide fluoridation.
However, as a public health practitioner I have also had to deal with several situations over the past 25 years in which preferred public health interventions ran into significant public opposition. These included widespread opposition to the introduction of tetanus toxoid immunization in the Assaba region of Mauritania, the introduction of HIV/AIDS education programs to young people in Northern Nigeria, and the introduction of family planning education and service delivery to women in several areas of Mauritania.
In each case a preferred public health intervention had to give way to a search for alternatives because of community opposition. Without going into details what I learned from these instances is that when there is significant opposition it is incumbent on public health practitioners to step back, re-examine the ends to be achieved by the intervention, engage in dialogue with those in opposition to the proposed program and then work collaboratively to develop a way forward that honors the concerns of the opponents while providing services to achieve the critical ends sought.
Though I watched the debate about community wide fluoridation from a distance last summer, I was struck by how it lacked, at times, a sense of true dialogue. I was pained by how motives were questioned. I was troubled by the seeming inability, at times, to return to a discussion of the ends we were trying to achieve as a community.
At this point I am fully willing to engage the two sides in this issue in discussions to see if we can find a way forward to achieve the ends which I would state in terms of reducing cavities among our citizens—especially children whose economic situation does not permit them to have regular dental care. Though some data exists I would insist on a renewed effort to more precisely define the nature of the problem and seek ways to address it in ways acceptable to each side. I very much doubt that my approach will please either this organization or my colleagues in the public health community but my experience suggests it may be the best way forward at this time.
As an elected official I need to listen to constituents and subject matter experts with an open mind. New ideas for maximizing public health continue to come forward with considerable regularity, and collaboration with those new ideas open additional opportunities for progress beyond the ones we currently know about.[divider]
I think that people can make up their own minds about using fluoridated tooth paste, and we don’t need to spend money forcing it on everybody else.[divider]
When I was contemplating my run for Davis City Council I attended many city council meetings and the first big issue I watched being hashed out was Fluoridation. I walked in not feeling particularly strongly either way but walked out being strongly against fluoridation.
The science is outdated and not all that compelling when it comes to the effectiveness of fluoride in improving children’s health. I did not like that It was being pushed through without a mandatory city vote. I did not like that it was going to cost 2.5 million to start with $600,000 yearly expenses.
I am unconvinced that there is not some sort of cheaper way to bring fluoride directly to the low-income children. Inundating the entire water system to target a few hundred children seemed like a brute force method of doing things when a scalpel is needed.
Probably most compelling of all was a friend of mine called me when she heard I was running for city council to tell me that fluoridation had discolored her teeth growing up. The detrimental health effects associated with fluoridation at the very least seemed to match any beneficial health effects associated with fluoridation.[divider]
I voted to oppose municipal fluoridation in the Davis water supply. I believe direct application of fluoride to those at risk is the most cost effective and socially responsible action to prevent dental carries. Many residents opposed the addition of fluoride in the overall water supply. The evidence was not compelling enough to convince me that putting fluoride in everyone’s glass, regardless of access to dental care, was reasonable when compared to the risks. Supporting fluoridation in the overall water supply when there was such strong opposition would have been short sighted and put the overall success of the water project at risk.
Question: Do you support increased height of buildings in the downtown core to allow for more residential/commercial uses and, if yes, what is the maximum height in structures that you would support?
Yes, I support vertical in-fill in the downtown core. I would work with developers, planners and community members to identify the correct maximum height but I would absolutely support 3-4 floors as we have seen in some recent examples for housing and retail mixes. In my role as the Executive Director of the Yolo Healthy Aging Alliance we completed an assessment of senior needs and housing and transportation ranked high in gap areas identified. Many persons stated their desire to live downtown to address their housing needs and decrease need for transportation.[divider]
Yes, a centerpiece of my campaign is to increase the efficiency of land use within our current city footprint. This is important to me for several reasons: First it is clear that the farmland surrounding our community is a unique global resource for food production and taking land out of agricultural uses must be done with great care. Second, I believe that the densification of our downtown (the foundation of which is mixed-use buildings that provide both housing and retail/commercial office space) is one critical element of a comprehensive economic development plan that will broaden our city’s revenue base. Third, I believe a denser core characterized by mixed use encourages the return of small retail into the downtown making it possible for people to walk or bike to most destinations, thereby reducing carbon emissions from transportation-related shopping, entertainment and dining trips.
I would support three or “three and a half” story buildings in the core and higher ones on a property such as the Nishi site.[divider]
I need more information about current restrictions on building height and mechanisms for making exceptions to give a specific answer to this question. In general, I do not have a problem with increased building height to accommodate mixed residential/commercial uses, but this needs to be compatible with overall neighborhood character and uses.[divider]
Some densification in the form of two stories is in the long run both inevitable and I believe necessary. The building with De Veres on the bottom and shops on the top is my favorite building in our downtown and I would not mind seeing more of it. I will draw the line when it comes to buildings with 3 or 4 stories however. All the other downtowns I have been to that subscribe to the up and up philosophy lose a certain character once enough of the downtown has been converted.
The new building near the farmers market that is three stories tall is exactly what I do not want in our downtown, its ugly and I think detracts from the downtown shopping experience. I do not want to see Davis convert to skyscrapers and I think that restricting the core to two stories while I am on the city council can expand our revenue base and increase the number of businesses in our downtown while simultaneously keeping our small-town charm.[divider]
I support the increased height of buildings in the downtown and other parts of the community where appropriate. I do not support the notion of density simply for the sake of density. There is a sensitivity that must be addressed to nearest neighbor uses, integrity of the site, impacts on parking, impacts on natural lighting and noise, as well as the integration to the surrounding building and parcels.
I do not have a maximum identified height I would support absent a specific proposal with specific metrics and location. By proscribing a specific height based solely on aesthetics or other non-construction and financial metrics we could inadvertently prevent anything more than the existing status quo.
This is just the first part of the questions. The Vanguard will run the final eight answers by each candidate later in the week.
—David M. Greenwald reporting