Vanguard Commentary: Council Actions Continue to Undermine Public Participation

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Vanguard Commentary: Troubling Vote on ParkingOne of the hallmarks of civic dialogue is the notion of public engagement.  Council has often lamented the lack of public engagement and participation on critical items before the Davis City Council.  At the same time, while this city council has proved a marked improvement over previous councils on many fronts, this council has at times proven willing to completely disregard the public participation process.

In December of 2012, the WAC had been meeting for nearly a year, analyzing the city’s water project and developing a very innovative water rate structure.  The city’s consultant had developed a relatively standard water rate structure which used meter size as a proxy for peak consumption.

Frank Loge and Matt Williams, two members of the WAC, then developed an alternative metric which use refined the fixed-cost component by using summer usage as a proxy for peak consumption.  The result would be to reduce the fixed costs on the low end users and transfer those costs back to the high end users making the charges far more proportionate to actual use.

The WAC had voted to support the recommendation of CBFR to council, however, there was push back by some in the community, and led by Mayor Pro Tem Dan Wolk, the council in December 2012, directed the WAC to re-examine the Bartle Wells model, to the point where Mr. Wolk refused a friendly amendment to allow the WAC to reconsider the CBFR model as well.

Ultimately the WAC decided by a narrow vote that they could not in good conscience support the Bartle Wells model and ultimately the council opted for a compromise approach of two years of Bartle Wells and three years of CBFR in the Prop 218 they issued to the public.

By itself, the actions of the council there may obscure the issue which has been increasingly obvious – they commission a group of citizens to advise them on a policy matter, the citizens study that policy matter, take public input, and ultimately issue a recommendation.  The opponents to that recommendation then complain to council and the council will often ignore the time and work of the citizens and bow to political pressure.

This is close to what happened with the Mission Residence.  In this case, however, it was a previous council that had facilitated the B Street Visioning process, where they brought together a vast amount of interests in the community and got neighbors along B Street and in Old North Davis to agree to redevelopment of the area under certain conditions and restrictions.

Last year, a developer came forward with a plan that violated those agreements in terms of height restrictions and density.  These were conditions that the neighbors agreed to in the process and the council unilaterally just ignored them and approved the changes.

That brings us to the Downtown Parking Task Force.  This issue of paid parking is clearly one of more controversy than the other recommendations.

Did the City Council need to go to an external task force in order to deal with the issue of parking?  No, the city had internal staff that could have studied the issue and come forward with recommendations.

Instead, they decided to go to the task force route, probably to get community buy in and create political cover for any difficult decisions they had to make.

So, for one year, the task force of citizens engaged in the public process.  They waded through thousands of pages of survey results, parking counts, and other data.  They read case studies, listened to public testimony, expert testimony and what they arrived at reflected a near consensus on most issues.

Clearly, not everyone supported the paid parking proposal.  Jennifer Anderson voted against that proposal, but supported the other proposals.  They voted on the proposals independently and then voted on the entire package.  The entire package passed unanimously.

That structure enabled the task force members to express disagreement with individual issues while expressing support for the entire package.

Was the entire package perfect?  By no means.  The issue of paid parking is clearly controversial in the community.  The issue of a new parking structure will be difficult to both locate and finance.

On the other hand, they recognized that outside of the supply issue there was a distribution issue that needed to be addressed because people who were in the downtown for the long term were over-utilizing the free parking and remedying enforcement issues by periodically shifting their parking from block to block.

In the meantime, owners clearly were under-utilizing X permits.

However, as a package deal the task force felt like this would work.  It was approved by both the Davis Downtown and the Chamber.

The problem now is that one of the members of that task force disagreed with the outcome.  That’s fair and perhaps that individual is correct.

This is now about public process and how the council establishes the framework of that public process.  The individual has gathered a group of property owners, they met behind closed doors, they have commissioned a study of their own customers and have not been willing to disclose those results as of yet.

This has not been a public process, there has been no external public or oversight.

As we reported on Wednesday, they came up with their list of recommendations for implementation.  Some of them very well may be good ideas.  But some are likely to create huge problems – for instance adding X permit parking in old North Davis is liable to create a war between Downtown and Old North Davis residents.

Likewise, the proposal to add X permit parking to the east is likely to raise complaints from that neighborhood association.

On the other hand, the idea of an increased in lieu fee may be a good idea.

However, this is still a process issue.  The city council commissioned the parking task force to provide recommendations and they have acted on those recommendations.  They asked a group of citizens to give up their time from their busy schedules to come up with a plan.

It was not a perfect plan, but it was a very good start.  The council needs to respect the time and efforts of the group that they commissioned.  It is not as though the council ignored the concerns of the business community.  The body included Jennifer Anderson, Alzada Knickerbocker, Rosalie Paine, Michael Bisch, and Lynne Yackzan.

The council needs to respect the process that they established.  If they end up undermining the work of the Downtown Parking Task Force because a group of citizens who had the ability to participate in the original plan are speaking out more loudly or forcefully than other groups, they have undermined their own process.

Citizens are going to look at this and state, why should I spend my limited time helping the city and advising the city if they are simply going to undermine their own process any time another group of citizens speaks out?

Democracy is not the rule of the mob or the group who screams the loudest wins.  We need to have clear processes and guidelines for moving forward.

Michael Bisch in a comment yesterday on the Vanguard cited excerpts from the Vanguard April 2 article on a separate subject, Athletic Director Dennis Foster.

“In speaking to Dennis Foster, a lot of things became clear. The biggest thing he said is that the level of micromanagement, complaining by the parents and meddling by upper administration, is unique to Davis. He has spent years in Natomas and the climate there is very different.”

“This is part of the culture in Davis that has to change – coaches need to be allowed to do their job, in his opinion, and in our opinion you could replace ‘coaches’ with teachers and with city employees, across the line.”

“Unfortunately, the more I talked with Dennis Foster, the more I realized that this problem is really far bigger than athletics. I heard the same complaints from him that I do from city employees, city councilmembers, school board members and teachers.”

“We need to decide as a community what kind of community we want and we need to start trusting the people we hire to do their jobs. It is one thing to scrutinize policy level decisions made by elected officials, it is another to micromanage site level decisions, whether they are made by coaches, teachers, or other low level employees.”

Mr. Bisch wrote, “The effort from the Downtown Property Owners, whoever they may be, is more of the same. This kind of action is rampant resulting in an ungovernable community. While community volunteers or appointees are conducting the community’s business in public operating under democratic principals, working hard to form consensus (albeit not always unanimity), unknown individuals are working hard behind the scenes at opposing ends. What’s the point of even having an agreed upon process, requesting volunteers, and engaging in a public dialogue if it’s only to be undermined from those not willing to respect the process or the work of the volunteers?”

The three examples we provided, the Mission Residence, the WAC, and now the Downtown Parking Task Force illustrate a problem with this council.  We talk about engaging with the public and forming consensus and compromise and then, at the first opportunity, the council undermines that compromise when someone screams louder.

To be clear here, our issue here is with the process and our issue is with how the council conducts itself.  The citizens of Davis have every right to express their views and disagreements at every step of the way.  The council, however, needs to create clearer guidelines for the use of citizen advisory groups, and respect the amount of work and the work product that arises from those efforts.

—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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56 thoughts on “Vanguard Commentary: Council Actions Continue to Undermine Public Participation”

  1. Barack Palin

    Here you go again David trying to have it both ways. I and many others have complained that because of advisory commission recommendations we now have a plastic bag ordinance, a smoke ordinance as well as other things that have been imposed on the public just to have you and some of the commission members push back that it’s not on them, it’s the council that made those decisions. So yes, it ultimately comes down to what the council decides is best and they take responsibility for it. To complain now that the council doesn’t do what the commissions recomend comes off as more that you and others just didn’t like the outcome this time.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      I think you misunderstand the issue here. The issue here is not that the council needs to specifically implement the policy recommendations of the task force. They are as you suggest the ultimate policy makers. The issue I raise here is one of process and setting forth that is fair to all involved. Also, this is not a commission that comes forth with a policy, this was a commissioned task force that was specifically tasked by the council to do this particular task.

      1. Barack Palin

        The commission came up with many recommendations, the council adopted some/most and decided against others. Why do you think it’s unfair? Is this not the process? This is all coming off as some having a fit because they didn’t get their way on paid parking.

      2. hpierce

        It’s hard to envision a “fair” task force when the CC chooses them. Maybe we should have a ‘lottery’ process, where volunteers apply, their names put in a hat, etc. Suspect those chosen by a given CC member will tend to reflect the appointing member’s views.

        1. Tia Will

          hpierce

          While I agree that a CC member appointment will tend to reflect the appointing members views, I do not believe that this necessarily means the task force is “unfair”. We do not have unanimity of viewpoint on the City Council and therefore I would assume that appointees would also vary in their perspective if your working hypothesis about appointing those of similar view point is correct.
          A random draw in my view is just as likely to lead to an “unbalanced perspective” on an issue as does allowing CC members with opposing views to nominate.

  2. D.D.

    “We need to decide as a community what kind of community we want and we need to start trusting the people we hire to do their jobs. It is one thing to scrutinize policy level decisions made by elected officials, it is another to micromanage site level decisions, whether they are made by coaches, teachers, or other low level employees.”

    Davis is a very engaged community. Citizens are passionate about their little village. It takes a village to raise a child. That’s why I moved from Natomas (a stone;’s throw from Natomas High School) to Davis. I opted to rent in Davis, when I could haved owned a 3 bedroom home in Natomas. In Natomas, when my kids were toddlers, they were in daycare and co-existed with a wide variety of children. But I noticed something odd with the neighborhood kids. Starting in middle school, the ethnic groups started to segregate. Each group started to walk home from school separately. Up to middle school, they all played together. My husband & I made the conscious decision to stop saving for a mortgage in Natomas, and move our kids to a rental in Davis NO REGRETS. My children were raised in a micro-managing little village of neighbors who cared about each other. Yes, sometimes they meddled and cared “too much”. But I will take my neighbors in Davis any day of the week. Sadly, I could not afford to retire in Davis. My state paycheck just wouldn’t cover our expenses. I left Davis with bittersweet memories. I love my new town, and my new neighbors. But Davis, with all its micromanaging passionate citizens, is still where I’m proud to say, we raised our kids.

  3. Mr. Toad

    Commission members are often passionate about their issue area and don’t take wider concerns into account. The elected officials are responsible to and hear from a wider portion of the electorate. It is exactly because they are elected that they get the power to represent and decide and not the appointed commissioners. In other words you were just making this point the other day arguing that the school board should only appoint someone who will not run in November. The buck stops at the council as it should.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      We’re not talking about a commission here. We are talking about a task force that was made up of stakeholders in this process that was asked to perform a specific task.

    2. Barack Palin

      Well stated Toad, many who gravitate to these commissions have agendas and the council’s job is to try and filter through that. I often email the council members my concerns so I’m sure they also take other input into consideration before coming to a conclusion. This all comes off as there are some in the community that aren’t happy that the council decided against paid parking so they’re now attacking the process.

      1. Michelle Millet

        This all comes off as there are some in the community that aren’t happy that the council decided against paid parking so they’re now attacking the process.

        Again my concern is not with the decision, it is about how and why the decision was made.

  4. Tia Will

    “I and many others have complained that because of advisory commission recommendations we now have a plastic bag ordinance, a smoke ordinance as well as other things that have been imposed on the public just to have you and some of the commission members push back that it’s not on them, it’s the council that made those decisions”

    I am not understanding your point here. Can you give an example of when a commission or advocacy group has not taken credit or responsibility for an outcome that they publicly favored or as you stated “push back that its not on them ?”

  5. Michelle Millet

    My concern with this process is not necessarily that the Parking Task Force recommendations were not adopted, it is why they weren’t adopted and the process that led to that decision.

  6. Tia Will

    Barack Palin

    “many who gravitate to these commissions have agendas”

    It is my guess that anyone who takes the time to write to city council members, or to speak to the council at public comment, or to write on the Vanguard or a letter to the editor, has “an agenda”. The difference that I see is that when one serves on a task force , there is data that is sought out by that group and often multiple presentations from folks with varying points of view. There is some standard of objectivity and evidence that is sought out and considered over time with differing viewpoints represented prior to arriving at recommendations. One difficulty I see in weighing more heavily the “loudest voice” is that it does not take into account the deliberation that typically goes into task force process and merely concedes to the wishes of the most vociferous.

    1. Barack Palin

      Who’s to say that it’s not the commission that ends up being the “most vociferous” over others who don’t have the time or want to serve for whatever reasons? Yes the commissons will seek out data and viewpoints but what’s important is how that info is processed. If a commission member has an underlying bias or agenda are you going to tell me that that doesn’t enter into their final recommendation?

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        I think Tia presents what I see as the fundamental difference between the two. The task force is commissioned and selected for a specific task. A commission is more like a standing committee with consistent scope and representation but generally not specific directives. In the top down process, where the council appoints people for a certain task, I think the need to set clear process direction is needed. In the bottom up process, the council has the ability to take the advise or leave it. Council acted on bags and green waste and other issues because they chose to, not because some commission tied their hands. Council appointed the parking task force because they chose to and gave them direction to study the issue. I’m not arguing that they have to adhere to the recommendations, but I am concerned that an unofficial group of citizens from a very narrow segment of the community has created a parallel process governed by secret meetings and surveys rather than open government and transparency.

      2. Tia Will

        Barack Palin

        “If a commission member has an underlying bias or agenda are you going to tell me that that doesn’t enter into their final recommendation?”

        I suggested no such thing. I merely pointed out that this is equally true of any citizen who chooses to engage in a public debate over policy issues. Do you feel that Ms. Anderson and supporters have less of an “agenda” than a member of a task force ?

        And, I think David has it right that while the commissions and task forces work is out in the open for all to see and consider, this is certainly not true of those who conduct their “studies, surveys, polls ” or other “information gathering” in secret and will not disclose how they arrived at their conclusions.
        This reminds me very much of a previous council member who frequently made reference to anonymous experts who chose not to make their opinions known to the public and therefore whose opinions and / or expertise were unable to be challenged in a public format.

  7. Tia Will

    Mr. Toad

    “Commission members are often passionate about their issue area and don’t take wider concerns into account.”

    This could equally well be said of those who opposed paid parking downtown. Do you suppose that Jennifer Anderson and those supporting her took into account the “wider concerns” of the residents of Old North Davis and Old East Davis when she made her proposal regarding “X” permits for those areas ? I find it quite ironic that Ms.
    Anderson, the beneficiary of some of the closest public parking spaces in town is proposing the use of neighboring communities as what amounts to community subsidized parking to enhance access to benefit her private business.

  8. Mr. Toad

    I actually almost agree but I would go the other way. Why is it that property owners believe they have special rights to a public resource, the streets? My property doesn’t include the street why not get rid of all the permitted parking restrictions all over town. You go on so many streets where parking is permitted and there are no cars then people want to tax parking to build a big ugly parking structure. Look at College Park, no densification there. Big lots with off street parking, permitted on street parking and no cars there at all during the day. Put meters there sell permits for non-residents and make lots of money for the city and provide a public benefit to the larger community undercutting the university for the benefit of the city. People could park for less and walk to the university leaving more parking free downtown. Oh we can’t do that. Why not? Privilege. Or look at the same thing throughout that entire area; Oak, Eureka, Miller, Park, and 8th st.

    1. Tia Will

      Mr. Toad

      I would agree with your approach as long as you expanded it beyond ” that entire area. If we were going to open up parking in publicly held spaces, it should be done uniformly throughout the entire city. This would certainly have the advantage of treating all members of our community equally and fairly. However, I don’t believe this concept will gain much traction with either business or homeowners.

      1. Alan Miller

        Perhaps you were not in our neighborhood yet when the Capitol Corridor expanded operations and the parking lot filled up for the first time and forever thereafter. For a couple of years, Amtrak patrons filled the first several blocks fanning out into East Davis, even in spots that were not parking. I have photos of cars parked perpendicular to the curb, across peoples’ driveways, blocking 2nd Street alley, tilted up on the rail bed. No resident could leave in the morning or they could not park within a block or two of their residence; it was utter chaos. This is especially a problem as a percentage of early residences were built without driveways. We invited the blocks not yet affected to join us, as obviously the problem would migrate further into the neighborhood. They chose not to and are now affected and I am sure the permit boundaries will expand. There are necessary reasons for permits.

        1. Tia Will

          Alan,

          You are right. I had not yet arrived, but have been informed of those days. I also understand that virtually every neighborhood will have its rationale for special treatment. Some will sound more rationale than others depending on what we ourselves have experienced and our world view. I was not putting eliminating special parking zones forward as a solution, but merely pointing out that it would “level the playing field” across the entire community if it is “fairness” that we are seeking and if we measure “fairness” as everyone receiving exactly the same treatment regardless of circumstance. My post was made in response to Mr. Toad
          who seemed to be advocating this approach for a limited area only.

          1. Alan Miller

            Understood. However, it would not be “fair” because most neighborhoods outside of the influence of the core and the university are only impacted by resident’s own cars. Permits are a response to a real shortage of parking and are unique to each neighborhoods circumstances. There is nothing fair about neighborhoods near the core being overrun by non-resident cars.

          2. Matt Williams

            Well said Alan. One of the challenges that a parking shortage creates is that reality that absent some sort of orderly process, market forces will cause those neighborhoods near the core to be overrun by non-resident cars in a disorderly way. So the question would appear to be, “How orderly do you want the invasion to be?”

            The Amtrak lot is a case in point. It is my understanding that because the parking there is free, there are a substantial number of Amtrak commuters who drive over each morning from their residences in Sacramento in order to take advantage of the free parking at the Davis lot instead of paying for parking at the Sacramento train station lot. The market truly does work, and every one of the Davis Amtrak Lot spaces that is taken up by a Sacramento resident results in a diminution of the service provided to Davis residents.

          3. Tia Will

            And I wonder how many of these Sacramento commuters end up spending even small amounts of money in Davis while they are here.

  9. D.D.

    “You go on so many streets where parking is permitted and there are no cars then people want to tax parking to build a big ugly parking structure. ”
    I agree with Mr. Toad. Davis does not need to pave over a little section of its paradise to put up a parking lot.

  10. Davis Progressive

    the problem here is obvious. jennifer anderson did not like the outcome. she was outvoted on the task force. instead of accepting that democratic result, she found a group of like minded property owners, engaged in secret meetings with these owners and apparently city staffers like mike webb, and did an end-run around the task force. NOTHING LIKE THAT HAPPENED WITH THE NRC, BARACK PALIN.

    1. Barack Palin

      D.P., the problem here is obvious, those that wanted paid parking are now attacking the process because they can’t deal with not getting their way.

      1. DT Businessman

        The BP comment is nuts and completely divorced from reality. The plan advocates wanted a plan that works; it’s not about paid parking. I can assure you there were at least 5 task force members that did not want a paid parking component, but agreed to it as part of a comprehensive parking plan. It was clear from the data, case studies, etc. that many of the other components are either ineffective or less effective without the limited paid parking component. Those that are advocating for the plan are not paid parking Nazis; rather, are interested in implementing effective solutions as opposed to kicking the can down the road. And far from attacking the process, the advocates of the plan are asking that the Council respect the Council-created process. BP would have us believe the world is upside down.

        -Michael Bisch

        1. Barack Palin

          Please Michael Bisch, in my opinion the only reason you are backing the plan and want the council to respect the process is because you agree with it.

          1. DT Businessman

            Of course I agree with the plan. I agree with the CC objectives, the process, and the outcome. There are elements that I think could have been better or slightly different, but that’s the nature of teamwork. And of course I support the plan. I’m going to spend a year of my life working on a plan to better manage downtown parking and then not support it? That’s nuts.

            I’m not objecting to that part of your comment. I’m objecting to you saying the motivation is to implement paid parking. That part is false. The motivation is to meet the Council objectives. The limited paid parking is one of 19 “means” to the desired “end”. And then there’s your bizarre claim that the plan advocates “are now attacking the process because they can’t deal with not getting their way.” You have it exactly backwards.

            -Michael Bisch

          2. Barack Palin

            From David’s article:

            “To be clear here, our issue here is with the process and our issue is with how the council conducts itself.”

          3. DT Businessman

            The quote you cite is referring to the new Property Owner Group behind-closed-doors process, not the CC-approved process. That said, the CC isn’t even fully following it’s own process anymore. The process at this point has become hijacked. It’s 100% politically driven (election, positioning for higher office, lobbying, ect.). It’s no longer fact based, or data-driven. That’s why many of the comments are now of the 2+2=5 variety with the “1” being discussed behind closed doors.

            -Michael Bisch

          4. Barack Palin

            To all who are arguing the process, if the task force had come up with a plan that you didn’t like and the council had changed it and implemented a plan that you did like you would all be fine with the process. Am I wrong?

          5. DT Businessman

            BP, all of your argumentation is divorced from goals, processes and outcomes. Your comments and this very question indicate you’re making it up as you go along. If I agree with the process and the goals and the plan conforms with both, how then am I going to disagree with the plan?

            What’s happening currently is you have individuals who never agreed with the process or the objectives, or more than likely are completely unaware of both, so of course they disagree with the plan. Unfortunately, the CC is siding with these individuals and are now at odds with their own process and objectives.

            PS: You might note that the CC-discussion March 25th was complete divorced from the CC-approved objectives as well. I don’t recall hearing a single reference to them.

            -Michael Bisch

  11. Tia Will

    Barack Palin

    So could it not be equally true that the only reason you are opposing the plan and want the council to not respect the process is because you disagree with it ?

    In my opinion, comments, including my own above, addressing the motivations behind a comment are more than a little silly. Of course we all have our own agendas and promote what we perceive as being in our own best interest.

    Can we not take that as a given and attempt to address the actual issues being discussed ?

  12. Michelle Millet

    The elected officials are responsible to and hear from a wider portion of the electorate.

    So then why is this okay with you?

    an unofficial group of citizens from a very narrow segment of the community has created a parallel process governed by secret meetings and surveys rather than open government and transparency.

  13. DT Businessman

    It’s a mystery to me why no one seems to care what the CC-approved mission and objectives were. In case I have that wrong, here they are (slightly paraphrased from the CC resolution):

    -Foster downtown as destination, both for Davis residents and for visitors.

    -Advance the redevelopment of the downtown to provide mixed-use, residential, retail and service along with significant increase to parking.

    -Reconfiguration of parking and streets, maximizing utilization and convenience for customers.

    -A comprehensive downtown parking management plan is needed to review, manage and execute parking plans intended to achieve Council goals.

    -A task force consisting of representatives from both the downtown and the broader community can effectively guide development of a comprehensive downtown parking management plan.

    -The task force is to be convened to identify issues and solutions for addressing downtown parking issues including identifying short-, mid-, and long-term actions to address parking management and supply.

    There can be no doubt that the task force achieved its CC-approved mission. The controversy is over the task force not having achieved the unstated mission of others.

    -Michael Bisch

  14. Amanda Kimball

    For what it’s worth, I was a member of the Task Force, and here is a letter I sent to the rest of the Task Force yesterday:

    Hello Fellow Downtown Davis Parking Task Force Members,
    I tried to forward this to the Parking Task Force after the Council’s discussion of it 2-3 weeks ago, but we weren’t officially dissolved until last night, so now we can freely communicate amongst ourselves. By now, I’m sure you’re aware of various letters to the editor, and the alternative parking recommendations that have recently been submitted to the city by some of the downtown business owners, and which was reported in the Davis Vanguard this morning.

    I am saddened by the effort to undo all of our hard work. I believe that both paid parking and building a structure are controversial topics for which we need to carefully discuss an implementation plan that carefully weighs and caters to each of the various perspectives (as did our process for developing the recommendation package in the first place). Please read the rest of this message, which I wrote 3 weeks ago and is still applicable today, if not even more so given recent developments.

    In case you did not attend last Tuesday night’s council meeting, I think it is very important for you to hear what happened. Recall that we made 19 recommendations, one of which one was to charge a small fee for on-street parking within a two-block radius, and another of which was to begin planning for a new structure in the downtown core. Kudos to Robb Davis who pointed out that the complete package was our compromise between a number of equally valid view points and urged the council to adopt it as a complete package.

    You should all know that the implicit compromise that we made with each other has been broken. A member of the Task Force has spoken out against one of our recommendations. This was done repeatedly and emphatically through emails, letters to the Enterprise editor, and public comments. This behavior re-opens the debate that the Council had tasked us with resolving. I am saddened, because I know the extensive research we did, and the lengthy process we engaged in to make sure that every viewpoint got heard. Our package cleverly weighed all viewpoints equally. Re-opening this issue brings us back to the hot-tempered and emotional battlefield of special interests that I thought we had successfully left behind.

    Because of this pressure, the Council members avoided both implementing paid parking AND exploring any new structures. While this is a wise starting point, we on the Task Force know that it won’t solve our parking problem. We all agreed together on our complete package. Let’s make sure the Council Members hear from those of us who believe in adopting the entire package as recommended, not just from one special interest group on one side of the spectrum.

    Amanda Kimball

    1. DT Businessman

      Thank you, Amanda, for providing the proper perspective, this part in particular:

      “Kudos to Robb Davis who pointed out that the complete package was our compromise between a number of equally valid view points and urged the council to adopt it as a complete package.”

      What we are witnessing these last weeks is the demise of the compromise between the equally valid view points by certain parties intentionally circumventing the agreed upon process.

      -Michael Bisch

  15. Mr. Toad

    Nothing will ever solve your parking problem short of building a giant mall on the periphery that kills the downtown. Parking shortage is a condition of a healthy business environment. You can work around the edges of that to try to improve things but you won’t ever “solve” it.

    1. Matt Williams

      If your post were a submitted answer to a test question in school Toad, it would earn a D minus grade. Your biases toward peripheral housing growth color your answer enough that it is like a plaintive Roy Orbison ballad.

  16. DT Businessman

    It’s interesting how some Vanguardians beat their chests for more economic development, but when you identify a constraint to commercial activity and propose effective solutions to minimize the constraint, all of a sudden they’re in opposition. “Well, I want economic development, but not that kind of economic development!”

    -Michael Bisch

  17. Tia Will

    DT

    I am a little perplexed by your choice of the word “interesting” used to describe this position.

    ““Well, I want economic development, but not that kind of economic development!”

    Are you using “interesting” as in intellectually interesting and worthy of pursuit for understanding ? If this is the case, there are tomes written about the role of self interest as it affects economic and public decision making.

    Are you using “interesting” to mean that you are curious about their specific rationale for their position and would like to hear more about how they arrived at their preferences ?

    Are you using “interesting” to mean that you feel it is ironic, or perhaps even hypocritical to favor economic development of one sort over another sort ? If this was your intent, I would say it would apply to virtually everyone equally, as we all have our favored areas for development, or lack thereof. The only think that makes posters on the Vanguard any different is that they have chosen this as one of their favored means of self expression.

    I was just not sure what point you were making.

  18. Alan Miller

    Matt & Tia,

    I don’t know if you are still following this thread; I was away a couple of days and saw Matt’s response to my comment. It requires a response:

    “The Amtrak lot is a case in point. It is my understanding that because the parking there is free, there are a substantial number of Amtrak commuters who drive over each morning from their residences in Sacramento in order to take advantage of the free parking at the Davis lot instead of paying for parking at the Sacramento train station lot. The market truly does work, and every one of the Davis Amtrak Lot spaces that is taken up by a Sacramento resident results in a diminution of the service provided to Davis residents.”

    The above is fundamentally in error, and feeds into the mistake that the downtown business community and the City have once again made that is going to lead them on a long and costly path that will result in nothing. I was on the Downtown Davis Parking Committee when the Amtrak lot was renegotiated to allow for evening Davis parking; this was put forward by Estelle Shiroma and myself and accepted by the State CTC ONLY because all parties including the train riders agreed there was excess capacity at the Amtrak lot in the evenings and it could be opened up to downtown patrons without affecting train riders.

    The reason Sacramento area residents travel to Davis is partially the free parking, but a much larger reason is convenience. Unless you live in/near downtown Sacramento or can take public transit to the downtown Sacramento station, it is faster and more convenient and cheaper — EVEN IF DAVIS CHARGED for PARKING — then driving into downtown Sacramento during commute hours, parking, then walking the now 4-5 minute walk out to the new platforms (congratulations Sac & Feds on spending $50 million to make transportation worse and losing 10% of your riders) and then doing the reverse in the evening.

    The fact is, anyone who gets to Davis after 6:30am has to park in the parking structure and pay anyway, or park at least three blocks into Old East Davis past the two neighborhood parking districts for free. I know several Sacramento commuters who do one of these. Bottom line: charging for parking will have a small affect on reducing Sacramento commuters coming to Davis, and will also have a small affect to reduce a certain percentage of Davis commuters from taking the train anymore, not good with Capitol Corridor patronage dropping and supposedly we are a City that encourages use of public transit. For those who do not know, the cost of a commute to the Bay Area is a few hundred dollars a month; tacking on another $40+ may throw some people over the edge and back to driving.

    Furthermore and most important, THE AMTRAK PARKING LOT DOES NOT BELONG TO DAVIS. Some downtown business leaders refuse to believe or accept this and fantasize the lot as state-subsidized free parking for Davis. The lot was built with state funds for the use of all state residents to ride the train. Davis literally CANNOT keep non-Davis residents from using the lot. The only way that can happen is if either: 1) Davis buys out the state for the funds the state put into the lot — very unlikely with the state of the city; OR 2) If the CTC holds stakeholder hearings and no stakeholders (such as train riders) object to non-stakeholders using the lot — very unlikely since the state funds were for train riders to have parking.

    What is confounding to me is that I neither the City or Downtown will accept this as fact. What Estelle and I negotiated for the Downtown businesses has literally brought more money into nearby dowtown businesses for over a decade now. Some commuters were mad because we couldn’t get them back the use of F Street garage for free (a temporary arrangement long ago) and couldn’t get them free parking at 4th street, the site we were able to negotiate for $3/day – $40/mo parking. The business leaders were mad because the Amtrak lot wasn’t made available all day for non-Amtrak patrons. The fact is Estelle and I accepted these realities and saw an opportunity to get all stakeholders to agree and brought the idea of opening the lot after 5pm to free downtown parking — now even more valuable with the boom in the restaurant business — and got the CTC to agree since we had consensus. This was a win for the downtown businesses.

    The CTC will never allow non-train riders to park in the lot during the day. The CTC is a powerful agency, and one of their responsibilities is to safeguard the purpose of projects funded with state taxpayer money. Like it or not, the Amtrak parking is for the people of the state of California. I am not saying this because it is my “side” of the argument. I wish to save the City and Downtown businesses a lot of trouble and staff time wasted on a futile pursuit. You can wish the Amtrak lot as Davis parking all you want; it never will be. What we have with open parking after 5pm is a sweet agreement that Downtown Davis should be grateful for. The agreement with the state is unlikely to get any better than that.

    1. Matt Williams

      Alan, thank you for the informative and thoughtful response. It does prompt a lot of questions for me that probably would best be discussed over a cup of coffee or something stronger. I see in what you have presented a path to a better solution that both honors all of the history and commitments that have gone before, and provides a better solution in the off hours. I look forward to our conversation.

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