A 6-Month Plan to Meet Our Challenges

Wolk-Davis-2
On July 1 Dan Wolk will become Mayor and Robb Davis will be sworn in as Mayor Pro Tem.

by Dan Wolk and Robb Davis

A week from this Tuesday, a new City Council and Mayor will be sworn in at City Hall. This is certainly an occasion for celebration and we invite the community to join us in this time-honored tradition.

But this year the celebration will be tempered by the significant challenges our community is facing. In fact, the very day it is sworn in the City Council will get down to business addressing a number of those challenges.

As the incoming Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem, we wanted to share with the community what some of those key challenges are – and our plan in the first 6 months of our tenure (between July 1 and our December recess) to address them:

  • Water Rates. The passage of Measure P clearly shows that although the community supports the surface water project, it does not favor the current consumption-based fixed rate (CBFR) model. As folks who have had concerns about CBFR, we can understand why. The City Council, along with members of the community and the Utility Rate Advisory Committee (URAC), is working on an improved rate structure and will look to have the new rate structure in place by this fall.
  • City Manager.  One of the most important decisions a city council can make is hiring a city manager. The City Council has received a number of applications for the current opening and will begin the process of interviewing and selecting a new city manager over this summer with a fall hiring date.
  • Economic Development. It has become clear that our community needs to do a much better job of harnessing the technology coming out of UC Davis, thus growing and diversifying our economy, creating jobs and expanding our revenue base. In addition to continuing our efforts to develop the Nishi property as a mixed-use innovation center (helped immensely by a recent $600,000 grant from SACOG), building a new hotel/conference center at Richards Blvd. and I-80, and reducing red tape at City Hall to create incentives and opportunities for redevelopment (denser, mixed-use buildings) in our downtown, this summer the City Council will review submissions for “innovation centers” and examine options for ballot measures to further these efforts.  We will continue to work closely with the Chamber of Commerce, Davis Downtown, the Chancellor, the County, and others on these efforts to facilitate the realization of a strong and growing economy that supports our community values and fiscal sustainability.
  • Investing in Infrastructure. The passage of Measure O was a huge relief to the community. But we are not out of the woods yet. We still have enormous infrastructure needs to address – including our roads, sidewalks, greenbelts, and pools. We cannot wait for the revenue streams flowing from economic development efforts to tackle these backlogs because their costs grow exponentially as they deteriorate with time. To address these, the Council plans to put a reasonable infrastructure financing mechanism on an upcoming ballot, perhaps as soon as November.
  • Employee Morale. Considering the difficult budget cuts and personnel decisions that have been made over the past few years, and the often-bumpy relationship between city employees and management, it will be important for the new City Council to build trust with the people who make our city what it is. To that end, we plan to have monthly meetings with employees to listen to their concerns, bring back the yearly employee recognition event and show (Dan and Lucas have even pledged to sing), and look at ways of reorganizing City Hall to make it a friendlier place to work – and for the public to visit.
  • Affordable Housing.Housing remains costly in our community – not just for low-income families, but those in the middle class. And with the demise of redevelopment, our community has lost its primary source of affordable housing funds. The city has initiated a discussion about how to move forward and the City Council will discuss those recommendations later this year.

These are only some of the challenges. But we are ready to work with our Council colleagues, city staff, and the larger community to tackle them. And together we will.

Dan Wolk and Robb Davis are the incoming Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem, respectively, of Davis.

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66 Comments

  1. Davis Progressive

    “Employee Morale. Considering the difficult budget cuts and personnel decisions that have been made over the past few years, and the often-bumpy relationship between city employees and management, it will be important for the new City Council to build trust with the people who make our city what it is. To that end, we plan to have monthly meetings with employees to listen to their concerns, bring back the yearly employee recognition event and show (Dan and Lucas have even pledged to sing), and look at ways of reorganizing City Hall to make it a friendlier place to work – and for the public to visit.”

    how far is that really going to go if you still have to go through another contentious round of negotiations?

  2. Frankly

    We cannot wait for the revenue streams flowing from economic development efforts to tackle these backlogs because their costs grow exponentially as they deteriorate with time.

    1. Then why weren’t you and the rest of the CC doing something much earlier? Why did the CC give away the Mace 391 opportunity which would have provided us needed cash much sooner?

    2. Why should we believe the CC in the wake of the Mace 391 giant mistake?

    From my perspective you want the tax increases to relieve the pressure of the job for the more difficult and necessary work we should expect. Yes it felt good to give away that $50-$100 million city asset to the Yolo Land Trust for a $500,000 loss. It cemented the liberal progressive environmental cause champion identification that helped strengthen the good Democrat political careers of Joe, Dan and Lucas. But it was an atrocious abuse of power to do this in light of our massive fiscal problems. It is in the same camp as previous councils giving out obscene pay and benefits to city workers. It was done for political reasons and was void of fiscal responsibility.

    The city does not generate enough tax revenue to fund its operations, infrastructure and its amenities. Tax increases would be the obvious solution if our local economy was not a fraction of what other comparable cities generate. We can clearly see the root problem… and we can clearly see the solution. Other cities with normal levels of economic activity have been growing their tax revenue and eliminating their deficits. Davis is stuck. It is stuck in a time warp. And the only thing we seem to be able to do is seek more and more tax increases.

    And with each and every new tax increase, the no-growthers get another several years of relief and our political leaders breath a sigh of relief not having to do the heavy lifting for developing a healthy local economy and sustainable budgets.

    And things will not change until the residents of this city vote no on the next tax increase.

    1. Don Shor

      Mace 391 was not a mistake. Annexing that site would never have passed. Now we are moving forward on other sites.

      the Mace 391 opportunity which would have provided us needed cash much sooner?

      Not true.

          1. Frankly

            Here is where you too are out of whack with reality and stuck in an irrelevant historical paradigm.

            Any vote to annex any property needs to be juxtaposed with the REAL fiscal problems we have and how the new development would help solve those fiscal problems.

            Mace 200 might very well not pass because it is not going to do enough to solve our fiscal problems. And if we get another tax increase measure passed, it will add to that sense that it isn’t needed right now anyway.

            When Dan and Brett met with a group of city business leaders, there was clear consensus that any tax increases needed to be temporary and linked to a revenue replacement strategy.

            I have witnessed enough of the CC antics to date to know that the room was played… that the CC never intended to put as much effort into economic development as they needed to… and would instead head again and again to the tax increase solution.

            Davis voters may very well decide that tax increases are worth it to keep the dream of the farmland moat alive. But my sense is that times have changed. If the factual and actual facts were presented, enough voters would have seen Mace 391 as having too high of an opportunity cost to absorb for the farmland moat.

          2. Davis Progressive

            that’s fine but here’s where you are out of whack with the current situation. there are 30-40% of the population that is going to vote against any peripheral development. in the mace 391 case, you had cross politics working:

            1. the yolo land trust
            2. open space and habitat commission
            3. don saylor was against the project because it was in provenza’s district
            4. provenza would have been against the project because he opposes farmland development without significant mitigation
            5. you had the weird cross-politics with nishi and the covell folks (whitcombe one of three principle owners)

            with all of that cross-current how do you get that approved?

            don saylor made it clear a month ago, he’s going to play politics with anything he’s not a player with and whitcombe and folks showed they will make life hard for projects that they are not backing both on whr and cannery (which fortunately didn’t need a vote).

            so you’re wrong and have no idea about the politics going on behind the scenes. and you dare to insult me as being out of whack with reality, did you know any of this?

          3. Frankly

            I know all of that. But you are discounting the power and resources of of the rest of the business community seeing the cash cow that was Mace 391, and getting the cost-benefit comparison in front of the voters.

            Frankly, there were a lot more tangible arguments for retaining and building a business park at Mace 391 than there were arguments against it from an average Davis voter perspective. You are talking about all the elite politicos and their interests. As we have seen time and time again in Davis politics, the fiscal conservatives will smack down those elite politicos when the arguments are sound.

            I have more faith in the intellect of the average Davis voter. They are not all myopic farmland preservation extremists like Don Shor. In fact, Don is an extreme minority in this space.

          4. Don Shor

            No I’m not an extremist, nor am I myopic. I have repeatedly described a reasonable policy that balances land conservation with development goals.
            And a campaign that was, evidently, going to be founded on demonizing the open space and habitat folks would have backfired so badly you’d be licking your wounds for years.
            You are flat-out wrong in your analysis of this, and DP is correct. Please tell me when

            the power and resources of the rest of the business community

            has ever prevailed in this community? A lineup of business leaders didn’t persuade the council. It wouldn’t persuade the general public. You need a collaborative process that brings together the land conservation and open space folks behind something that keeps our home-grown businesses here. That is now possible. It wouldn’t have been before. All your ongoing disparaging and insults don’t make your arguments stronger.
            You need to give it up. Your political analysis is surprisingly weak considering how long you’ve lived in this area.

          5. Davis Progressive

            “I know all of that. But you are discounting the power and resources of of the rest of the business community seeing the cash cow that was Mace 391, and getting the cost-benefit comparison in front of the voters.”

            i don’t see the business community as being that powerful in this community. they weren’t even able to get the council to reconsider their june vote.

        1. Don Shor

          Here we go again certainly applies to your continuous repetitions about Mace 391. You post it, I’ll reply. We can keep that up as long as you like.

          1. Frankly

            Karl Rove was/is a political consultant fond of making election predictions that turned out wrong… very wrong in 2008.

            I admire Karl Rove, but my point was that Don was making absolute predictions for something that he has absolutely no basis for making absolute predictions. It is a form of political spin… keep repeating something enough times and people will believe it.

            The problem with Rove is that the media game much more repetitive play to “hope and change” than they did his prediction.

            It is a sad shame given the outcome. Now we can only “hope it changes” again.

          2. Don Shor

            Don was making absolute predictions for something that he has absolutely no basis for making absolute predictions.

            Sure I do. The past voting behavior of Davisites.

      1. Frankly

        Annexing that site would never have passed.

        But annexing other sites will pass… when those sites are owned by others and their development plans will be tilted to the benefit of the developer and not the city?

        1. Don Shor

          Maybe they will. Obviously it depends on the specific plans (the devil’s in the details, as they say). It will take work. There’s about, IMO, a base of 35 – 40% in Davis who will vote against any development project. Another 20% or so are undecided, and 30 – 40% are predisposed to approving projects. That middle 20% is who we’ll need to persuade of the benefits of Mace 200 and the Northwest quadrant. Of the two, I think the Northwest quadrant site is going to take more community meetings and a lot of outreach.

      2. Mark West

        The Mace 391 decision may have been a good political option at the time, but it should never be viewed as a sound fiscal one. We did not use our City Commissions to evaluate the fiscal impacts of the different options in advance of making the permanent and irrevocable decision, nor did we have a community wide discussion on how the property could best be utilized to support the needs of the City as a whole. Instead we rushed into making an unsound and ill thought out fiscal decision based solely on the dubious notion that the Yolo Land Trust would be somehow harmed if we took the time to fully consider our options.

        Anyone interested in open and transparent government should be appalled by how that decision came about regardless of what side of the land use question they are on.

        1. Don Shor

          I was appalled by how the land swap proposal came forward, yes. The conservation agreement and ultimate disposition of the land was done fully above board, in front of commissions, with ample time for public comment. The council made its decisions in public. The only thing that people should be upset about was the attempt to derail it.

          1. Mark West

            When the other option came out, the CC should have put the conservation easement discussion on hold so that the other options could be publicly evaluated. There was no urgency to move forward at the time unless your agenda was to preclude full evaluation of the options. No commissions considered the fiscal impact of the various potential uses for this City owned asset.

          2. Don Shor

            As you know, a decision to cancel the conservation easement would have lost the grant that partially paid for it. The process of conserving the site would have had to start over, including applying for the competitive grants — at that point, from the standpoint of an unreliable partner. The only reason for putting it “on hold” to “publicly evaluate” other options would have been to scuttle the conservation process and go forward with development.

          3. Don Shor

            To quote Rob White:

            Could we technically still vacate the grant? Yes, but honestly it will create collateral damage to long-standing partnerships and relationships. As put to me by the NRCS assistant state conservationist, they don’t consider an easement a done deal until it is signed in ink at the courthouse steps. She shared candidly that others have negated a deal at the last minute, but realistically, this is not without consequences when you are a public agency like the city. So, to be fair, the community needs to be very aware of what this discussion means.

            What’s amazing to me is that you guys simply won’t let this go.

          4. Mark West

            The value of the grant was insufficient to justify the action taken, especially in light of the potential value that the City could have received by moving in a different direction. There would have been no harm to the City to delay their decision, and absolutely no harm to the Yolo Land Trust. Both claims were and are entirely bogus.

            “The only reason for putting it “on hold” to “publicly evaluate” other options would have been to scuttle the conservation process and go forward with development.”

            Fiduciary responsibility of the CC is the reason why they should have fully evaluated the other option when it became available.

          5. Don Shor

            Others do not agree with your assessment that “there would have been no harm to the City to delay their decision.” Others do not agree that was “entirely bogus.” Others including city staff and the entire city council.

          6. Davis Progressive

            “What’s amazing to me is that you guys simply won’t let this go.”

            that’s the thing that amazes me as well. it’s not like the issue is coming back SO LET IT GO ALREADY so we can discuss live issues. the horse is dead.

          7. Frankly

            “What’s amazing to me is that you guys simply won’t let this go.”

            What is not surprising to me… that you would like us to let it go.

            If it is a dead horse, it’s carcass is still fresh and stinking up the place.

          8. Don Shor

            So in a cogent discussion by the mayor and the mayor pro-tem, you couldn’t resist throwing it into the discussion, couldn’t resist calling me myopic and an extremist. And you call me ignorant, even though my view has been confirmed by Rob White and open space folks.
            And you do all that hiding behind a pseudonym. Come out of the closet if you’re going to be a serial insulter.
            Maybe you should stop now.

          9. Davis Progressive

            i’d like to be able to discuss other things on here like why mace 200 is not on the agenda for tomorrow as the countdown ticks towards zero.

          10. Don Shor

            Presumably because the responses to the city’s request are just coming in for today’s deadline. As Rob said, “I believe the Council will have several different options to consider on July 1, some of which occur this year and some of which occur next year.”

          11. Frankly

            Don Shor: So an anonymous poster on the Vanguard is citing an anonymous state official from North Dakota on behalf of his argument. And then our anonymous poster proceeds to vilify state administrators, accusing them of illegal behavior, without a shred of evidence.
            You’re not even close to being a reliable source on this topic.

            Well based on this you should not even be commenting on the topic at all. Because I certainly know a lot more about it than you do. So, why are you commenting?

            The NRCS FRPP Program did not receive funding this fiscal year, and so the program was rolled into the USDA NRCS Agriculture Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). Note that the Federal Government loves grant and loan programs and likes to come up with new acronyms by the truckload.

            The YLT is a Certified FRPP Entity. That already puts them at a significant advantage. You need to be managing 25 conservation easements to be qualified. The YLT have over 50 thanks mostly to Davis and Measure O.

            Here are the general federal and state ranking criteria for a FRPP grant:

            National Ranking Criteria

            1. Percent of prime, unique, and important farmland in the parcel to be protected

            2. Percent of cropland, pastureland, grassland, and rangeland in the parcel to be protected

            3. Ratio of the total acres of land in the parcel to be protected to average farm size in the county according to the most recent USDA Census of Agriculture

            4. Decrease in the percentage of acreage of farm and ranch land in the county in which the parcel is located between the last two USDA Censuses of Agriculture

            5. Percent population growth in the county as documented by the United States Census

            6. Population density (population per square mile) as documented by the most recent United States Census

            7. Proximity of the parcel to other protected land, such as military installations land owned in fee title by the United States or a State or local government, or by an entity whose purpose is to protect agricultural use and related conservation values, or land that is already subject to an easement or deed restriction that limits the conversion of the land to nonagricultural use

            8. Proximity of the parcel to other agricultural operations and infrastructure

            State/Local Ranking Criteria

            1. The location of a parcel in an area zoned for agricultural use

            2. The performance of an entity’s experience in managing and enforcing easements. Performance must be measured by the closing efficiency or percentage of parcels that have been monitored and the percentage of monitoring results that have been reported. Years of an entity’s existence shall not be used as a ranking factor

            3. Multifunctional benefits of farm and ranch land protection including social, economic, historical and archaeological, and environmental benefits

            4. Geographic regions where the enrollment of particular lands may help achieve National, State, and regional conservation goals and objectives, or enhance existing government or private conservation projects

            5. Matching funds requested from NRCS (50% is the maximum allowed)

            6. Accessibility of easement parcel to agricultural markets

            7. Entity’s farmland protection strategy and how the FRPP proposal corresponds to this strategy

            8. Adequate water supply and other on-farm infrastructure

            9. Demonstrated support for project from local community, government and non-government organizations

            Here is a link to the federal ranking sheet. Nothing here that shows any damage to the YLT.
            http://www.thesocialmisfit.com/FRPPRankingSheet.pdf

            Now look at an example of a state ranking worksheet. This is for Virginia but they are all standardized for the most part.
            http://www.thesocialmisfit.com/NRCSFRPPStateRankingSheet.pdf

            Look at criteria 10) a) for the score based on closing efficiency and tell me how the YLT would have been harmed.

            Like I said, it was a lie. It provided cover to three CC members that needed the cover for maintaining their no-growth friendships and to cement their good Democrat political careers.

          12. Don Shor

            So clearly it would affect the closing efficiency for future grant applications, and would have an adverse impact on

            9. Demonstrated support for project from local community, government and non-government organizations

            Thus a local official stated her judgment that it could affect future applications. You disagree. That is not a lie. It’s a disagreement. And it seems to be borne out by what you’ve posted as a possible impact: when a city that was very close to completing a conservation easement pulls out at the last minute, it shows bad faith. My recollection from the discussion then was that these grant dollars are shrinking and grant applications are very competitive.
            I’m going to leave it at that, because this is far off topic for this post by Dan Wolk and Robb Davis. I ask you again to please stop bringing up Mace 391 repeatedly.

          13. Frankly

            Oh Jesus Don. You are about as stubborn as they come. Let me guess… you have family that complains that you never want to admit you are wrong to something you are clearly wrong about. You need to let go and just admit when you are wrong. It will save on future therapy costs.

            The YLT has one of the strongest conservation partners on the planet in Davis. They benefit and have benefited tremendously from our Measure O boondoggle. They are what they are primarily because of Davis. You are being almost as disingenuous as them making this claim that they would be damaged.

            It is like giving candy to a kid every day and then telling him you have to stop for a day and then him claiming you damaged him and Don Shor agreeing with it.

          14. Frankly

            And you are adding nuanced reasoning to a process that does not include nuanced reasoning. You don’t understand how these federal programs work. These administrators are always motivated to go with the next opportunity to move money. They don’t get hurt feelings… and they certainly don’t used it against any quality participant. They are opportunists. They are also bound by the rules. And the rules don’t allow for that level of nuance you are applying.

            Again, you don’t have any experience with this stuff so you probably should not be commenting on it. You are digging yourself deeper in a hole you cannot climb out of.

          15. Frankly

            Come out of the closet if you’re going to be a serial insulter.

            I don’t come out of the closet just to satiate the serial hypersensitive.

            And you absolutely know that it would not change a thing in my posting and commentary. The only reason I have to use a pseudonym I am posting as a private citizen but my company was threatened by other posters, and was harmed by the actions of Governor Brown over something his staff found but did not like.

            Why would I put so much time into Mace 391? Because you and others with your views you are used to making gross mistakes in fiscal judgment and then counting on other people to forget about it and go away. That obviously has to stop because people with your views are making a big fiscal mess out of things.

          16. Don Shor

            Because you and others with your views you are used to making gross mistakes in fiscal judgment and then counting on other people to forget about it and go away.

            I support a balanced approach to land conservation, open space and economic development. I opposed one particular development proposal (Mace 391) but have repeatedly made clear that there are other sites that could be annexed for economic development. I am not counting on anyone to forget something and go away, inasmuch as I have — over and over — explained what annexation and development I consider reasonable and beneficial. You are obsessed with Mace 391. Obsessed with it. You won’t let it go. There are hundreds of other acres that could be developed now, and which (I assume) we will have an opportunity to discuss sometime shortly after July 1.
            So I am going to ask you publicly, specifically, right here and now, to please stop bringing up Mace 391 over and over again. Please stop vilifying anyone and everyone who disagreed with you on it. Your behavior is unproductive and potentially harmful at this point.

        2. Frankly

          at that point, from the standpoint of an unreliable partner.

          This point is BS. If was a lie.

          The total possible impact to the YLT was a 3% drop in their point scores for future grants. However, the YLT is already at the top of the list of high scores precisely because of Davis and Measure O. The fact is that the YLT would never be turned down for any future grant because they are the darling of NRCS.

          Don, you are ignorant on this. You need to do the research before mouthing the talking points. I expected more from you.

          1. Frankly

            how do you know that it was a lie? did you research and verify it?

            Yup.

            Also talked directly to my friends at the USDA, and my good friend who retired at age 55 two years ago as a chief of one of the state NRCS offices.

          2. Frankly

            what was his name and what specifically did he state?

            Not giving you his name since he is still political active in his state. Also, he was not happy with my opinion since he is a leftist and in his mind the means justifies the end. He just confirmed the statistical scoring method that is used for the grant awards, and agreed that the impact to the YLT would have been a non-issue for future grants. In his state the problem he is seeing (from his perspective) is that the land around his city has become more valuable to develop and so the land owners are not interested in conservation easements. He is a hunter so his dissatisfaction is specifically selfish that hunting land is being developed.

            I also confirmed from my USDA friends that there is pressure from administrators to “get the money out” and that drives much of the frenzy around a potential lost reward. Think of it as those administrators putting a notch on their spending gun and then having to deal with the loss of a notch. They don’t like it, and as IRS-gate show us, they will lie, cheat and steal to prevent it as long as they believe they will not be caught and have to suffer any consequences for it.

          3. Don Shor

            So an anonymous poster on the Vanguard is citing an anonymous state official from North Dakota on behalf of his argument. And then our anonymous poster proceeds to vilify state administrators, accusing them of illegal behavior, without a shred of evidence.
            You’re not even close to being a reliable source on this topic.

          4. Davis Progressive

            fair enough. my objection is that the 391 proposal would have lost at the ballot. i really don’t care about the yolo land trust issue.

  3. Don Shor

    It’s good to see this op-ed by Dan and Robb. I think there will be two key components to getting it done.
    1. Control of the agenda. It’s been frustrating watching the council spend lots of time on less-consequential things, and not take up higher-priority items.
    2. Better direction to commissions. If, for example, you’re counting on the ITF to provide recommendations, the council needs to provide deadlines (goals, if you prefer) and request updates. Commissions should speed things up, not slow them down.

  4. Good Government

    I really hope Mace 200 passes, and soon. It is absolutely the best location around Davis for a business park. Not voting for it because it “wouldn’t do enough” would be a terrible irony. Of course it won’t do enough. But it is a necessary first step.

  5. DavisVoter

    Is there a link to a map somewhere that shows us where Mace 200, Mace 391, and “Northwest quadrant” sites actually are? Do these correspond in some way to the “West” and “East” yellow blocks on the maps David posts? If so, how? Is there a map somewhere that is labeled with streets, etc. so I can understand the boundaries of the “5th St. Corridor” without having to rely on my weak visualiization skills?

  6. Alan Miller

    “The City Council, along with members of the community and the Utility Rate Advisory Committee (URAC), is working on an improved rate structure and will look to have the new rate structure in place by this fall.”

    How’s that going for y’all?

  7. Don Shor

    Affordable Housing.Housing remains costly in our community – not just for low-income families, but those in the middle class. And with the demise of redevelopment, our community has lost its primary source of affordable housing funds. The city has initiated a discussion about how to move forward and the City Council will discuss those recommendations later this year.

    It’s unclear to me what this means. “The city has initiated” — meaning staff is working up recommendations? What guidance has the city council given?
    What would it take to get the City of Davis to scrap entirely its ineffective, inefficient ‘affordable housing’ policies and start over from scratch? If ‘moving forward’ means figuring out another way to fund housing projects similar to what’s been done before, that would be a waste of money.

    1. DavisBurns

      I am curious about your objections to current affordable housing policies. I wanted to attend the workshops in order to figure out how they are funded or how they will be in the future. I listened to the discussion at the city council and didn’t understand most of what they talked about. I think when the number of partners and the funding is so convoluted, it is damned near impossible to hold anyone accountable.

      1. Don Shor

        My objection to the city’s affordable housing policies has several parts. It is very ineffective and inefficient; the cost per housing unit and cost per person is very high. It doesn’t address the greatest lack of affordable housing: rental housing for young adults. With an apartment vacancy rate below 2% for nearly every year that I’ve been here, young adults are paying high prices for scarce housing. Meanwhile the city’s ‘affordable housing’ program builds or funds units for a tiny number of young families who are lucky enough to somehow win the lottery (metaphorical) that distributes those units. We have affordable units sitting empty, affordable units that are poor quality. The history of the city’s affordable housing program is one disaster after another. As Rich Rifkin has often suggested, it would be far simpler just to hand lower-income people housing vouchers and let them find housing in the current market, and work to get more apartments, duplexes, quad-plexes built as market-based solutions to the lack of affordable housing.

        There are two biases that overwhelm the city’s housing policy. The assumption that apartments are just for students; there are lots of young adults who are NOT college students who need rental housing in this town. And the focus on young families as needing housing units as a seeming priority over all other low-income individuals. Less wealthy seniors and young adults get the short shrift.

        1. DavisBurns

          “it would be far simpler just to hand lower-income people housing vouchers and let them find housing in the current market, and work to get more apartments, duplexes, quad-plexes built as market-based solutions to the lack of affordable housing.

          I couldn’t agree more. In all I have read about affordable housing,the whole process is focused on the land owner, the designers, the various builders and the management companies and even the people who put the deals together. All these people get paid and make a tidy profit with little to no risk. You try to figure out the system from the end users perspective and it is truly Byzantine.

          The management companies spend a pittance on maintenance and there is no accountability. Or if there is, go to the city and ask them about oversight. The answer you get is. “It’s complicated”. The management companies have guaranteed 100% occupancy rate. The renter pay the subsidized amount then various agencies pay the remainder so management collects 100% of fair market value but there is also a state agency that verifies that they are actually renting to eligible people so the investors can collect generous tax credits. No one tells these free market players in a highly subsidized game what they can do with their profits. They get paid in dollars they can spend as they like.

          Meanwhile the renters have very little choice how they spend their subsidy even though HUD calls them Choice Vouchers. They are subject to lease conditions most of us would never agree to and their option is take it or leave it. Management is there to enforce the rules, collect the rent and do maintenance on the cheap, the really really cheap.

          When a renter decides to move the process is long involved and cannot be easily explained. Who among us would first inform management we intend to move BEFORE knowing if a new unit was available, if we qualify for that unit, how much the unit would cost us to rent and if the controlling agency has the funds to pay their share. These are poor people and they cannot take that kind of risk. I just went through this process with my daughter and two months after the move she is paying the same rent as she did for her former apartment and does not yet know what the actual rent on the new apartment will be.

          People make good money building those places but the end user purpose is to occupy the place, be grateful, and let the people with money continue to make a profit on their poverty. A system where we gave the poor people the money to rent on the open market would end the gravy train.

          One reason they cannot just give the end user the money, in my daughters case, is that would make her ineligible for the disability money she lives on. They would count that money as income but they don’t count all that other subsidy money. Because, IMO, the way it works is the poor only get something if enough of the right people make a profit off it.

          I question your statement about units standing vacant. There are waiting lists. Most places have hundreds of people waiting to get in. So what is your info on vacancy?

  8. Alan Miller

    “look at ways of reorganizing City Hall”

    One of the few powers politicians have over bureaucracies is to “reorganize” them. This always sounds good, but is usually nothing more than a rearranging-the-deck-chairs-on-the-Titanic exercise that ends up wasting everyone’s time and disrupting the day-to-day business of whomever is getting reorganized. So, no, please do something novel instead and don’t propose moving around the deck chairs. Thank you.

  9. Jim Frame

    This piece by Dan and Rob is a good start, but words are cheap, and the hard work lies in the implementation. My most fervent hope is that Dan will rise to the occasion, take the reins as mayor, and show me that I’ve been dead wrong about his ability and drive as a council member. I’d like nothing more than to eat my words in this regard.

    I’m more optimistic about Robb, because his motivations seem to be much more focused on the city, and less – as n not at all – on a political career. But he, too will have to prove himself by getting things done.

    The next few months are going be enlightening.

  10. DavisBurns

    If we are going to have an “innovation park” the Mace curve is the best place to put it. Those other sites have real access problems. There are good reasons the Nishi property hasn’t been developed. Not so sure about the measure R speed up. I really get it from the developers standpoint. Looking forward to hearing from both sides on this forum. Please, please can we stop bickering? It’s not just Mace 391, it’s the condemnation of city employees and past city councils. While history is relevant, we cannot change the past, only attempt to avoid past mistakes. We need to focus on where we are now and what actions we can take now.

  11. DavisBurns

    They scheduled five meetings. One remaining on July 21. I have managed to miss all of them but plan on making the last one.

    I tried to copy and paste the flyer and some handouts but didn’t work. Go to City of Davis, search for affordable housing workshop. They looked at history, constrains on funding, current inventory, planning, and the last one will be recommendations.

    I am concerned that the same architect that designed Cesar Chavez Plaza is designing the affordable housing for the Cannery. Cesar Chavez may look nice on the outside but it is a piss poor design. Read the only blurb available about it. It says all units have south facing windows like that is just what you want here in Davis! Some of those south facing windows have overhangs and awnings but the overhangs only help the second story units and the awnings are decorative so some are on north facing windows and there are many south facing windows that get the full force of the summer sun. Each apartment is basically three off set boxes, bedroom, kitchen and living room. There is no chance in hell that the prevailing delta breezes can be pursuaded to circulate around those corners. Then there is the issue of private management and lack of oversite and maintenance standards. After asking to have sprinklers fixed for a years, I wrote a letter to the Enterprise and posted pictues of broken sprinklers watering a lamppost during a rain storm and the sprinkler got fixed. It should not work that way, we put our resources into affordable housing, we should not walk away when it’s built which is what happens now.

  12. DavisBurns

    More on affordable housing. Twin Pines on F street is in stark contrast to ceasar Chavez. All units with south or west facing units have awnings, the floor plans are simple and oriented so every unit has good air circulation. It is a part of Mutual Housing, a non profit group. In December 2013, they got rid of private management and began to manage the units themselves. They have low turn over and many long term residents. It is a pleasant place to live and feel like you have a home I. A quiet community.

  13. Pingback: Council Emerges From Break with a Lot of Work to Do | .:Davis Vanguard:.

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