Op-Ed Raises False Alarm with respect to the Parking Task Force


Vanguard Commentary: Troubling Vote on ParkingA few months ago Glen Holstein came into the Human Relations Commission (HRC) meeting where I was a member, and he accused the Davis Downtown Parking Task Force of (1) discrimination against him because he was disabled, (2) violating the Brown Act in denying him as a member of the public the right to speak, and (3) violating the Brown Act through pre-orchestrating a vote outside of public view, among other things.

Glen’s complaint was taken seriously, and the staff liaison to the commission, Deputy City Manager Kelly Stachowicz, and I looked into his complaint.  After completing our research, both of us reached the same conclusion: the complaint was baseless.

On Sunday, Mr. Holstein attacked the findings of the task force and renewed the allegations he made to the HRC. Mr. Holstein has every right to his view on the issue of city parking and the task force’s findings; however, he is not entitled to make baseless allegations against the task force and staff.

He writes, “When the Davis Parking Task Force was starting, some members invited me to attend because it lacked parking consumers. At an initial meeting, questions I asked city staff about their commercial core parking reduction were as popular as innocence evidence is to prosecutors after convictions.

“It would have been easy to fix the task force’s lack of parking stakeholders at this early stage by including me, but it didn’t happen. At the very next meeting’s start, a pre-orchestrated vote (likely a Brown Act violation) specifically excluded me from the task force and erased the record of all I’d said at the last meeting. This wasn’t because I’m a disabled senior. The issues I’d raised were so dangerous they were flushed down the Orwellian memory hole.

“A group of “bicycle advocates” could facilitate this vote for staff because they were so over-represented on the task force they could dominate it despite hating cars and parking. Bicycles are a fine way to travel but their task force advocates seemed to value them most as icons of their moral superiority to those of us benighted enough to drive and park cars.”

He then targets his wrath specifically on Robb Davis, a member of the task force and candidate for city council, “Cultural historian D.H. Fischer described how persistent colonial folkways are in the modern secular world. An example is how American higher education carried folkways from its Puritan New England beginnings to college towns across the country like Davis. No doubt task force “bicycle advocate” leader Robb Davis wants to rid Davis of its cars and their drivers as dutifully as old Salem wanted its “witches” gone. If you vote for Robb, don’t say you weren’t warned.”

Brian Abbanat from the City’s Transportation Planning Division, who was staff liaison to the task force, told the Vanguard that some misunderstandings about the formation and purpose of the task force were at the basis of the initial dispute.

He told the Vanguard said that he believed Mr. Holstein was invited to participate in the meeting and that Mr. Holstein misunderstood the structure of the meetings to be a community workshop rather than a formal meeting of a government body, with a format and Roberts Rules of Oder the way commission meetings are conducted.

“At the first meeting he came up, took at a seat at the table that was for the task force members, and essentially participated in that second meeting as if he were a task force member himself.  No one really understood who he was or what his reason for being there was, but no one said anything at that meeting.”

Afterwards, however, there was discussion about how the meetings should be conducted and whether it was appropriate for a member of the public who was not a task force member to be participating in the way Mr. Holstein had up to that point.

At the following meeting, the task force took clarifying steps in order to formalize how public comment would occur at the meetings,” Mr. Abbanat stated. They allowed for multiple points during the meeting for public comment, allowing it to be more open than a council meeting for instance.

Brian Abbanat acknowledged that Mr. Holstein never really understood that. He believed what the task force was doing was simply a means to silence him. In reality, the group was attempting to maintain its ability to be productive. “He had a tendency to interject his opinions at times that weren’t entirely appropriate,” Mr. Abbanat stated.

At the point where the task force explained its Roberts Rules of Order procedures, Mr. Holstein stormed out of the room. Mr. Abbanat felt like at this point that they might have handled this a bit differently. “It wasn’t until afterwards that we realized that maybe he didn’t understand what type of format these meetings were. We didn’t make that clear,” he said. “By that time we had already lost him.”  Mr. Holstein has spoken out against the parking task force ever since.

Michael Bisch, a member of the Task Force wrote in a letter to the Enterprise, “Glen Holstein’s opinion piece last Sunday is an insult to the citizen volunteers and staff of the Davis Downtown Parking Task Force. His animosity directed toward the members of the task force in general, and Robb Davis in particular, is entirely misplaced and not based in fact.

“He should take his beef up with the City Council who appointed the individual task force members, not the task force itself. The task force is not to blame for Glen not being appointed.

“His animosity has blinded him not only to the facts, but to simple arithmetic. His claim that bike advocates were overrepresented is incorrect. There were two bike advocates by my count, whereas there were six downtown business and property owners. Even my children recognize that six is greater than two.

“And finally, contrary to his assertion, Robb Davis has no intentions of ridding Davis of cars and drivers. Robb seconded the decisive motion to proceed with the development of a third downtown parking structure and Robb continued to advocate throughout the proceedings for such a structure as part of a comprehensive parking management plan.

“Developing a third structure is a very odd way of ridding Davis of cars and drivers. I’ll leave others to debunk the remainder of his goofy assertions.”

Matt Kowta who chaired the Task Force meetings sent the following statement to the Vanguard:

There is no basis in fact behind Mr. Holstein’s allegation at the HRC.  His comment, which you quote from the Enterprise, illustrates a fundamental misunderstanding on his part.  He seems to imply that he was a member of the task force, or that he expected to be treated as a member of the task force, and the task force somehow deprived him of that.  As you probably know, the City Council appointed the task force members prior to the first task force meeting.  Mr. Holstein was never appointed, and the task force itself had no authority to appoint or remove members.  The short answer to your question is that Mr. Holstein became upset when I enforced some order in relation to when public comment would be given during the task force meetings.

The issues with Mr. Holstein arose in one of the task force’s earlier meetings, when he insisted on injecting his comments into the task force’s deliberations, rather than limiting his comments to the designated public comment period.

As task force chair, I tolerated a certain amount of those interruptions throughout that meeting, in the spirit of providing for public participation.  However, after reviewing the agenda for our February 2013 meeting, and recognizing the volume of background material that the Task Force needed to cover, I placed an item on the agenda for the February 2013 meeting to review protocols for public comment at the meetings.  Per that agenda item, the task force had discussion during the February 2013 meeting and decided to increase the opportunities for public comment during our meetings; however, what was understood, and what I believe upset Mr. Holstein, was that the task force was going to limit public comments to the designated time periods, so that the task force could conduct its business in an efficient manner.  There was no part of that action whatsoever which “specifically excluded” [Mr. Holstein] “from the task force”.  

Prior to taking the vote on the public comment protocol during the February 2013 meeting, the task force addressed an agenda item concerning approval of the minutes from the prior meeting.  There was discussion about whether it was necessary to attribute specific public comments to specific individuals and by majority vote, the task force agreed that that was not necessary.  My recollection is that no comments were deleted from the minutes.  The task force simply agreed that attribution of comments that were included in the minutes to specific individuals was not necessary.  That Mr. Holstein seems to think it was an action specifically intended to thwart him is a misunderstanding on his part.  I am aware of no activity that could even remotely justify the allegation of a pre-orchestrated vote on that item in violation of the Brown Act.  The fact that Mr. Holstein would make that accusation, and that the Enterprise would print it is, frankly, a disservice to the task force members who volunteered their time to serve the city.

Please see my letter to the editor that the Enterprise published on 3/12/13 on the issue, which emphasized that the task force sought public input at all of its meetings, and had in fact taken action to increase the number of points during the task force meetings when public comments would be invited. 

The Vanguard asked, in addition, perhaps you can explain if you think the recommendations were made with the idea of getting rid of cars in Davis?  And if not, what your view is of the various recommendations?

The assertion that the task force recommendations were made with the goal of getting rid of cars in Davis is absurd.  My view of the recommendations is that they balance the needs of all downtown users, but emphasize convenience and ease of parking for downtown customers.  To the extent that some may view the recommendation of paid parking in a portion of the downtown area during certain time periods as reflecting a goal of getting rid of cars in Davis, I would simply remind them that the task force’s recommendation on this topic was to use paid parking as a tool to try to achieve 85% occupancy of on-street parking spaces at peak periods.  

According to the literature the task force reviewed, 85% is the optimal occupancy level to ensure that somebody who wants to drive his or her car and park downtown will quickly and easily find a space, while maximizing the usage of the available spaces by downtown patrons through the increased turnover that would come about as a result of the spaces not being free.  Further, the task force included a recommendation for the City to dedicate resources to analyzing the need and planning for expansion of the downtown parking supply, as necessary to accommodate anticipated community growth.  The task force made additional recommendations which intend to make downtown a more hospitable place to walk, ride a bike, or use transit, and those actions would simply make alternative modes more attractive to those who can and wish to use them.  The by-product of that is more parking availability and less congestion for people who prefer to, or need to drive downtown.  Please see the op-ed piece that the Enterprise published under my name on 10/20/13 for further elaboration.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


About The Author

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

Related posts

31 thoughts on “Op-Ed Raises False Alarm with respect to the Parking Task Force”

  1. D.D.

    Davis’ bicycle advocates do not hate cars and parking. They are realists. They have a vision that we must protect our environment and our quality of life in Davis. The advocates I’ve had the pleasure to meet are passionate about Davis, and the health of our community. I don’t believe they “hate” crs, or parking. My daughter is a bicycle advocate in San Francisco. She uses a car, when absolutely necessary, and she appreciates parking places. She just prefers to use a bike, or walk, or use BART and Muni, 90% of her time.

    1. darelldd

      It turns out that we all live in a community that’s much bigger than Davis. And the health of that community should be important to all. I’m OK with using “our” community because the health of our environment doesn’t start and stop at the city limits.

      (As an aside, it turns out that more than a few people have assumed that D.D. and I are the same person. We are not, and I have no idea about D.D.’s identity. While I can understand the confusion (due to all three of my initials being D), rest assured that I only post under “darelldd” – my real name and initials)


        1. darelldd

          Ha. No, not in the least. I found it amusing that some folks asked about it. And one went do far as to ask why I’m making the same points with two usernames! Carry on, D.D.

          – D.D.D.

  2. South of Davis

    David wrote:

    > There is no basis in fact behind Mr. Holstein’s allegation at the HRC.

    Sounds just like the San Francisco HRC where ANY allegation from the left was studied and researched for years while EVERY allegation from the right was dismissed as having “no basis”…

    > His claim that bike advocates were overrepresented is incorrect. There were
    > two bike advocates by my count, whereas there were six downtown business
    > and property owners. Even my children recognize that six is greater than two.

    Did all six “downtown business and property owners” tell you that they are anti-bike? My kids know that you can be BOTH a “downtown business and property owner” and “bike advocate”. I’m a business owner that rides a bike more than most people and even though I don’t like the term (since “advocates” seem to be just a little less nuts than “activists”) I’ve often been called a “bike advocate”…

    1. darelldd

      >> (since “advocates” seem to be just a little less nuts than “activists”) <<

      We seriously need to start over on this. When did

      all become derogatory labels? Not one of them is, nor should any be considered that way.

      Are those who don't cycle, and who wish for more convenient car parking considered Automobile Activists? Makes no sense. We all have our own idea of what is best for our community. Tossing positive labels about as if they're insults is just… insulting.

      1. South of Davis

        Darell wrote:

        > We seriously need to start over on this. When did
        > Activist, Advocate, Environmentalist all become
        > derogatory labels?

        Why did you add “Environmentalist” to the list? It is fine to be an “Environmentalist”, but when someone self identifies as an “Environmental Activist” they are probably a little nuts (and think that chaining themselves to a tree or the desk of a logging executive is a good idea).

        Bike riders, bike lovers, cycling enthusiasts tent do be normal but when a person starts calling themselves a “bike activist” there is a good chance they are the type that like to block cars on the road around town (or head down to SF for Critical Mass to block LOTS of cars).


        1. darelldd

          I added it because I hear “environmentalist” used as a derogatory label just about every day. If you tack on “activist” to that, the speaker is usually wearing an ugly sneer.

          So if I understand your comments correctly, there is no positive activism. Only social disruption and damage? It seems to me, that you are an activist for the status quo.

        2. Alan Miller

          > the type that like to block cars on the road around town.

          Can you site an instance of bikes “blocking” cars in Davis? I’m not saying it didn’t ever happen, I’ve just never heard of any incidents. The CM’s in Davis have been peaceful AFAIK.

          1. darelldd

            Wow. I just glossed over the “type that like to block cars on the road around town.” Who the heck likes to block cars?

            I too, would like to hear more about this type. From my perspective as a driver, a cyclist and a pedestrian, I’ve been “blocked” more by automobiles on my daily travels than by anything else on the road (though I admit that today I was “blocked” by two turkeys and a coyote, but that’s a story for another time). And the traffic snarls I’ve been in – effectively all of them are caused by automobiles. A little fender bender on hwy 80 on a Friday afternoon can bring six lanes of traffic to a dead stop. Thousands of cars “blocked” by a couple of automobiles.

            So… after thinking about this for a while… are these bike activists that SOD is talking about out blocking cars with their cars? That’s just confusing.

          2. Don Shor

            I assume they’re referring to Critical Mass (http://daviswiki.org/Critical_Mass) but I can’t even remember the last time it occurred, nor do I remember it ever ‘blocking cars’. I do think that may have occurred in the Bay Area a couple of times.

          3. darelldd

            Hard to tell what South of Davis means sometimes…. the way he wrote it, “blocking cars around town” and “heading to SF for critical mass” were two different and compelling options for hating cyclists.

            In the end, we have “critical mass” of automobiles on our roads on a daily basis – a disorganized, inconvenient rolling mess that blocks all transportation and spews toxic exhaust. But that’s just part of our culture that we’ve comfortable with.

      2. D.D.

        “When did
        all become derogatory labels?”
        I believe that happened the same year that “feminist” became a word meaning “psychotic womens’ libber”. When in doubt, cast aspersions on the person’s mental health. There will always be verbal bullies in this world.
        – D.D., a proud woman and feminist. (This should put to rest any rumours we are one in the same. 🙂

        1. darelldd

          Indeed, sadly I could come up with a few more words that have been subjected to similar perversions. Feminist is certainly another classic example.

          You’ve got me there: Nobody has yet accused me of being a proud woman. 🙂

    2. Davis Progressive

      “Did all six “downtown business and property owners” tell you that they are anti-bike?”

      that’s not the point. the point is that the downtown business and property owners are not by definition bike advocates, he never stated they were anti-bike.

  3. Davis Progressive

    basically holstein acted like he was a committee member, disrupted the meetings, and was asked to conduct himself appropriately and took his marbles and went home. i don’t see that this plan is overly bike friendly, in fact, i would say the opposite.

    1. South of Davis

      DP wrote:

      > basically holstein acted like he was a committee member,
      > disrupted the meetings

      I have no doubt that this guy is a little nuts and disrupted the meetings. If we really want to solve problems we need to ignore the crazy “activists” on both sides but since it makes great “political theatre” I doubt this will ever happen.

      We will continue to get news vans flocking to cover crazy right wing activists with guns protesting a ranchers “right” to graze land without paying government fees and covering crazy left wing activists with bongs protesting a logging companies “right” to cut down a tree after they paid government fees.

      1. Davis Progressive

        you don’t seem to get it. you can’t just get up in the middle of the council meeting and speak, nor can just anyone sit at the dais. this is what apparently happened here.

  4. Michelle Millet

    Making it easier to bike downtown benefits everyone and I’m unclear why advocating to do so would be discouraged by anyone.

    When people chose to ride a bike downtown instead of drive they leave parking spaces free for those who choose to or need to drive. If I was a business owner or someone, like myself who does frequently drive into downtown, I would be encouraging any behavior that leads to less congestion and more available parking, and thanking the “bike advocates” for their efforts.

    1. Tia Will

      “I would be encouraging any behavior that leads to less congestion and more available parking, and thanking the “bike advocates” for their efforts.”

      Add to this the fact that anyone who chooses to walk or ride their bike is contributing directly to their own health and indirectly to the health of all by lowering automobile emissions, both their own, and those of the cars that will no longer need to circle to find parking spaces close enough to meet their perceived needs and you have a real win-win situation.

      1. D.D.

        I agree, Tia. And sometimes those perceived needs are parents with children in strollers who are well able to walk a few blocks. I recommend that parents get their toddlers out of strollers, and teach them to walk. It may help the childhood obesity rates in our country. Slow down, walk a little slower with your toddler. Use your stroller to carry shopping bags, water, and food from the farmers’ market.

        1. Tia Will

          “I recommend that parents get their toddlers out of strollers, and teach them to walk.”

          You just brought back a wonderful day after Mother’s Day memory for me.
          One of my greatest pleasures when my daughter was a toddler was to strap her into her “rainbow” leash which she would bring to me in anticipation of an outing.
          I would strap her in, put the loop around my wrist and she would proudly sashay
          “independently” the few blocks from our house to the park or a nearby shopping area. We would stroll until she got tired at which point I would pick her up or plunk her in the stroller and walk home with her asleep with a smile on her face.

          i can envision the same for many young parents who could park their car on the periphery or better yet, leave it at home, take their kids on a downtown adventure, and then go home for an adult pleasing nap time.

          Thanks for the memory.

        2. darelldd

          While we’re talking about kids…In Friday’s Enterprise, we had a letter to the editor that contained this gem:

          “Got kids? Try taking them on a bike.” (I’m paraphrasing in quotes, because I’m too lazy to dig the paper out of the recycle for the exact quote)

          The point being made was that bikes don’t work for all situations. And one of the situations in which bikes work amazingly well was used as an example for… why bikes don’t work. Why do non-cyclists so often enjoy telling cyclists how cycling won’t work?

          Kids? check
          Riding to school (in some fashion attached to or behind or on a bike) since preschool? Check.
          Still riding five miles each way in 8th grade? Check.
          Watching the long line of cars inching inching along, illegally parking and u-turning and getting “blocked” by other cars while trying to drop kids off at school? Priceless. And more than a little frightening.

          1. D.D.

            People in cars do scrary things when they are runnng late for work. A woman in an SUV almosted killed my son, she was backing up and did not look in her rear view mirrow. Another mom literally jumped off the sidewalk and scooped up my young son. That mom, at North Davis, years ago, was his guardian angel that day. And I never found out her name.

    2. Alan Miller

      >Making it easier to bike downtown benefits everyone and I’m unclear why advocating to do so would be discouraged by anyone.

      For a who’s who of “anyone”, see everyone who opposed — and those still sniveling — about bike lanes on Fifth Street.

      1. darelldd

        Good point. We’re changing the current four lanes on 5th street into five lanes (two vehicle travel lanes, one turn pocket lane, and two bike lanes). But all we hear is, “we have four lanes now, and they’re cutting that down to two!” One day the majority of our town will realize that if we all drove private automobiles for our transportation, that we’d have almost constant gridlock in town. Until then, we deal with Bob Dunning and his merry band of snivelers.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
Sign up for