My View: Failure Is Not An Option for Business Park

Mace 200 is one of three proposals the city received
Mace 200 is one of three proposals the city received

Vanguard Favors Citizen’s Initiative in Spring 2015 – It is understandable that the developers of Mace 200 wish to eliminate their upfront risk of fully entitling a business park project, only to have their time and money seemingly wasted if the voters oppose the measure at the ballot.

However, we believe that, while it is understandable that the developers wish to eliminate that risk, by doing so they increase the potential that the project is simple voted down by the voters. Any attempt to circumvent or seemingly circumvent Measure R will shift the discussion away from the need for the project and the merits of the project and toward a discussion on Measure R and questions as to why the developers feared following the current process.

Failure is not an option here. We have discussed for months the need for the city of Davis to generate more revenue so it can continue to provide high levels of city services without the continued need for tax increases.

As one person told the Vanguard, if the project fails, regardless of the reason, it will be increasingly difficult for there to be major investment in Davis. Major companies looking to invest in Ag-tech will look to Winters, Woodland, West Sacramento and the county. The region is watching this very closely.

I have heard this from enough different people with different stakes in the process to believe it to be true.

Pushing for a November vote is not the right approach. This is not going to be a slam dunk. Any peripheral development in Davis starts with at least 40 percent of the public automatically against it. That means there is a narrow margin for error and any development will have to capture a segment of the population that supports Measure R, supports slow growth policies, but is willing to consider a good development that can produce tax revenue.

Pushing something on the November ballot now would not be advantageous to any development. The council is about to go to recess, and by the time the public gets back it will be early September and we will have eight weeks to make the case.

Fortunately, there is a way that the developers can attain their goal of lower upfront risk without messing with the machinery of Measure R.

A citizen’s initiative. As staff notes, “The initiative process places certain levels of land use authority in the hands of the voters, including General Plan amendments and zoning amendments.”

In order to get an initiative on the ballot, it requires valid signatures of 10% (for general election) or 15% (for special election) of the number of voters according to the last reported voter registration.

The Measure P folks with very little money were able to get sufficient signatures to get Measure P on the ballot and then get Measure P passed.

With the resources that the developers have, spending a relatively small amount of money could yield the necessary signatures to put the measure on the ballot. The advantage of this approach is severalfold.

First, instead of being a top-down approach, a citizen’s initiative starts with a base of several thousand voters who thought enough of the project to sign their names to put it on the ballot.

Second, it would avoid the perception that they were tampering with or trying to do an end run around the Measure R vote.

Third, they would be able to get citizen support first, and then work out the final details of the project.

There is a downside risk for the city, as the city must “accept an affirmative vote outcome and cannot overturn it, even if the City determines that it may not be in the best interests of the community for fiscal or environmental or other reasons.” The city would also lack leverage for a Development Agreement.

In our view, this is the optimal scenario, however. We see a spring 2015 vote as being preferable. In fact, running the land use and the parcel tax campaign concurrently might work to both sides’ advantage. The city could argue that the parcel tax is the immediate revenue needed for road ways, but the business park is the long-term revenue needed to avoid future taxes.

By going in March, the developers could spend the fall doing outreach and collecting signatures. We would have time for a robust discussion and then, in the winter, the campaign would have two months to make its case to the voters.

Rushing to a November election is not a good alternative. Council would have to take action no later than July 15 to submit documents to the county by their July 16, 2014 deadline. The council would have to include the final ordinance amendment language, with CEQA exemption determination on the ordinance amendment as well as the final ballot question language.

Aside from timing, the largest disadvantage faced by the developers placing their modified Measure R process to the voters is, as the city puts it, “It is unknown whether the level of detail provided will be adequate to satisfy the voters to the point where they are comfortable voting in the affirmative.”

We bring up the debate from 2009 when Wildhorse Ranch was placed on the ballot in a similarly timed ballot initiative as this one would be. The late council action forced the council to have to go back and clarify some of the developer agreements with the community and that produced objections from opposition that council had failed to put key provisions within the Measure J language and therefore the baseline features were not enforced by voter action.

While many problems ultimately doomed that project, the lack of enforceability of the agreements made by the developers proved too be a huge burden that they were never able to overcome.

Staff notes, in addition, “The level of required CEQA review for the Measure R modification is likely an exemption under the ‘commons sense exemption’ rule, and the project entitlements themselves would later undergo full review under CEQA concurrent with the project entitlements.”

The bigger problem that they note is uncertainty for the developer would not be eliminated, as “legal challenges can still be sought and citizen referendums can still require a project to go before the voters after the entitlement process.”

In other words, it is entirely possible that a measure that circumvents Measure R could have to face the voters twice. We know from past experience that referendums require 10 percent of the total voters and must be submitted within 30 days of the actions. However, we also know that the water referendum was able to meet that threshold back in 2011.

The letter from the Northwest Quadrant development team is instructive here.

John Hodgson wrote, “Our suggested approach is to work collaboratively with the City, the County, the Davis community, UC Davis and interested technology companies to create a proposal that works well for everyone.”

He continues, “In our view, significant outreach to all parties within a reasonable period of time is needed to assure the best possible innovation Center, and we further believe that such an approach is consistent with the process the City initiated in its issuance of the RFEI.”

Mr. Hodgson indicated that, while he does not believe it is good public policy or strategically wise to place a ballot measure on the ballot at this time, if the city is inclined to consider that approach, they are requesting the same treatment as the Mace Innovation Proposal.

“We believe it would be in the best interest of the City to ensure both proposals are covered by any such Council action,” he wrote. “We respectfully request that our proposal likewise be advanced.”

“We do not, however, believe that placing any proposal on the ballot at this particular time is good public policy, particularly given the City’s very recent receipt of this information and lack of public input and consideration,” Mr. Hodgson wrote. “The purpose and intent of the RFEI process are sound, and we believe it would be unwise to abandon it. It is unclear what purpose the RFEI served if the City disregards those submittals and elects instead to immediately place a project on the ballot with little public discussion.

That is our view, as well. We think a citizen’s initiative, in March 2015, is the best approach and the safest way to ensure that the business park has a chance to succeed.

A rushed 3-2 vote by council in the next three weeks will surely doom any project for November. If failure is not an option, the council must hold strong in order to ensure success.

—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.

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        1. David Greenwald

          If you believe that the up or down vote is the end of the game, and the only benefit is winning that vote, then, you are are correct a money on a lost vote is wasted. But if you believe there is a world after the vote, then the idea that money is wasted is only predicated on what the ultimate result is. Hence I slightly modified “wasted” to “seemingly wasted.”

          1. Mr. Toad

            Only if the discounted value of future returns exceed the present value of the expenditure. How is that working out for Parlin or Covell? However if I take the same money and invest it elsewhere ,say in a money market fund paying 0.1% interest I not only preserve my capital I actually come out ahead for the perpetuity of anti-development Davis.

          2. Barack Palin

            Toad, if you love runaway development so much just move to somewhere like Elk Grove or Natomas and then you won’t have to complain so much.
            Those cities are beautiful…………..

          3. Good Government

            “Runaway development”? Calm down. Even if all three of these very modest-in-size business parks come online, that would hardly be “runaway development” in the scale of the places you mentioned. Or, conversely, why don’t you move to Winters or Arbuckle if bucolic quaintness is your only desire. Those cities are beautiful…

          4. Barack Palin

            Why should I move, I’m not the one complaining about the current ambiance in Davis, I happen to like it the way it is. That being said I’m open to a business park as I do realise the need. Do you ever think about why Davis is a desirable zip code? It’s because it’s not Natomas or Elk Grove. I think it’s you that needs to “calm down”.

          5. Good Government

            But as you know, we’re struggling to keep it “the way it is”. Roads crumbling, schools closing (and in need of repair), the city underwater in its finances, etc. no one is arguing (at least no one here) for “runaway development”. Yet you compare those urging for modest growth to two of the absolutely fastest-growing areas in our region. It’s a classic straw-man argument. And I’m calling it out for what it is. No one wants us to be Notomas. But we might want to be Davis plus a little more of what makes Davis great.

          6. Barack Palin

            And if you read the whole blog I’ve already said I’m open to a new business development.

          7. South of Davis

            A business park (or two) will not turn Davis in to “Elk Grove or Natomas”…

            P.S. Is it just me, or did the “recent comments” (below the ads on the right) go away a couple days ago?

          8. David Greenwald

            No. The comments paginate after a certain number, you can access them by clicking see older comments button.

          9. South of Davis

            I noticed the multiple comment pages, but my questions is about the “recent comments” that used to be displayed on the right below the ads (starting below the button to sign the Free Ajay Dev petition) that I have not been able to see for a few days (on my PC, iPhone and iPad)

          10. David Greenwald

            There is something a little funky going on, but nothing has to my knowledge been deleted.

  1. Mr. Toad

    Failure is always an option when it comes to development in Davis. In fact failure is the preferred option of many. There are those that prefer failure and are willing to pay additional taxes to maintain our infrastructure and there are those that prefer failure and don’t want to pay additional taxes for maintaining infrastructure. Either way the premise that a landowner should play by the convoluted rules and spend a bunch of money doing so has no basis when the process hasn’t produced a single successful vote in 14 years.

    1. David Greenwald

      The title refers to the fact that putting a measure on the ballot in a manner in which it is unlikely to succeed would be extremely detrimental to the prospects for a business park to get built. There are no guarantees with any initiative, but I believe – and almost everyone I have spoken to agrees – putting a measure on in November with the modification to Measure R is a recipe for disaster.

      1. Mr. Toad

        Measure R is a recipe for disaster too. Take one part historical lack of fiscal restraint, add several shredded ballot measures, slowly stir the pot until the water system evaporates and bring the electorate to a boil fueled by piles of other peoples money. Then pour the slurry into a mold designed by 10,000 different voters. Voila! Caution: If things don’t turn out correctly its only seemingly a waste of money.

        1. David Greenwald

          I don’t agree. The two votes we have had occurred on a project that was huge without adequate traffic mitigation measures and a small project in the middle of the recession. That’s not really a fair test of Measure R.

  2. Tia Will


    “There is downside risk for the city as the city must “accept an affirmative vote outcome and cannot overturn it, even if the City determines that it may not be in the best interests of the community for fiscal or environmental or other reasons.” The city would also lack leverage for a Development Agreement.”

    I need a clarification. If after such a vote, the city is unable to overturn this vote even if additional information determines it to be detrimental to the city, how would this not constitute an “end run” around measure R since I can foresee the possibility of a very rosy picture of the project being presented by the developers and perhaps bought into buy the voters prior to a full vetting by both the community and City staff and council.

    1. Barack Palin

      I was wondering the same thing. Can an intitiative take precedant over Measure R?

      I agree with Tia Will, this all sounds like the same thing as having an early Measure R vote in the development process.

      1. David Greenwald

        The biggest advantage of the citizen’s initiative is that you start with a base of a couple thousand people supporting it rather than three councilmembers.

      1. Tia Will

        It is not the voting process that I distrust. It is the process for getting accurate information about a proposal out to those who would are being asked to sign the initiative. I can foresee the possibility of lovely glossy information pamphlets and highly motivated individuals touting the wonders of their proposal ( or paid proxies doing so) with their being virtually no vetting of those claims before signatures are gathered.

  3. Tia Will

    Mr. Toad

    “fueled by piles of other peoples money. ”

    I know that many people only really take note when they perceive that their money is at stake. I see something of more value to me than money at stake. So what do I value higher than my money ? My environment. My perception of a warm, welcoming community where, when I go out, i see many of my friends and acquaintances.
    I value open space and preservation of prime agricultural land over my money. I value the ability of my children and their children to be able to make similar choices to those I have today which they will lack if we develop rapidly thereby making all their choices for them.

    Now, I fully concede that my preference for paying for our amenities now with money from self taxation necessitates the use of “other people’s money”. What I think is being missed in this discussion is that the rapid growth proponents are essentially arguing for paying for our amenities by compromising “other peoples environment and lifestyle preferences”. So which does one value more highly, one’s money or one’s preferred lifestyle ? Either way, we are using some of “other people’s” resources.

    1. Good Government

      “My perception of a warm, welcoming community where, when I go out, i see many of my friends and acquaintances.” I think we all can agree on that. But how exactly would these business parks, or even (gasp) some more houses threaten that?

      1. Tia Will

        Good Government

        Fair question. I am making comparisons based on the relatively large number of communities in which I have lived including Gig Harbor, Washington, Albuquerque, NM, Long Beach, CA,
        Anaheim,CA, Santa Barbara,CA, Isla Vista, CA, Davis,CA ( for four years from 1979-1983),
        Fresno, CA, Tucson,AZ, Santa Clara,CA, Claremont,CA and back to Davis for the past 23 years. Of course, each community whether a town of 2000 at the time I was raised in Gig Harbor, to the large cities of Long Beach/ LA where I lived in my late teens to early 20’s each has its own unique character ( or lack thereof as in Anaheim).
        What I have seen is that the smaller the community, the more likely there is to be that
        “warm, welcoming” environment. The larger the community becomes, the more likely you are to encounter a higher proportion of strangers as you go about your daily business. I do not find this frightening as some posters have accused. It is simply a matter of personal preference to prefer a small city environment over that of a large city. I believe that it is disingenuous to claim that a larger population will not change the fundamental nature of the town or that it will not significantly adversely affect our infrastructure.

      1. Frankly

        Bingo. Warm only in our individual bubble of individual economic security… and in Davis… generally provided to us by the soft money of government… which then leads to a disconnect from understanding how that funding was initially derived.

      2. Tia Will

        Good Government

        I personally have never opposed increasing the housing capacity for students. I am firmly in favor of providing more low cost housing whether for students or for others of limited means.
        I have stood in opposition to the Cannery and similar automobile dependent, largely upper middle class enclaves ( predominant housing in the $400,000 to $ 600,000 range) which I do not feel is consistent with the Davis value set of environmentally sound, multimodal transportation connectivity, and “cutting edge innovations “which we have paid lip service to, but not implemented in this case.

        1. South of Davis

          Tia wrote:

          > I have stood in opposition to the Cannery and similar automobile
          > dependent, largely upper middle class enclaves.

          The Cannery is about a 10 minute bike ride to the business parks south of 80 (where Kaiser is located), about 10 minutes from UCD and is about 10 minutes by bike from the proposed Mace/I80 business park. Other than the extra few minutes in the saddle (due it’s location in “north” central Davis how is the Cannery more “automobile dependent” than the Central Davis homes built over the past 100 years?

          1. Tia Will

            South of Davis

            It is not the distance that seems to be the obstacle to alternative means of transportation. This is demonstrated in the low percentages of children who bike or walk to school as posted on previous threads. I believe that it is not the actual distance or time that is the factor motivating the use of the car instead of other modalities.

            I believe it is convenience, habit and the perception of normality. When one lives in an automobile dominant or
            “bedroom community”, using the car quickly becomes the norm.
            I lived in the “bird streets” just a couple of minutes further north, and know from experience that the vast majority of my neighbors ( and myself) tended to use our cars when our bikes could easily have been used given the actual distances involved.

            I guess now, we will just have to see which travel mode the inhabitants of the Cannery prefer. I hope someone will be keeping track to guide us in future community planning.

      1. Tia Will

        Nr, Toad

        You seem to believe that your perception of my beliefs is superior to my own.
        Like BP, and Don, I have repeatedly stated that I favor an increased tax and innovation park strategy. I don’t see how you interpret that as failure, unless of course, you perceive anything that does not meet your rapid growth preference as “failure”.

        1. Mr. Toad

          I said “I guess…” so I don’t claim to know your mind but I am confused when you say you favor a business innovation park because it seems to me you are saying you prefer higher taxes to preserve the infrastructure instead of economic growth. Perhaps I am wrong but your long steadfast opposition to growth that doesn’t fit into your very specific and unattainable parameters such as new affordable student housing or new housing below the price range of the local market while not wanting to undermine the local market, if somehow, miraculously, such housing could be produced, leads me to believe you are either being disingenuous by proposing things that are not possible or detached from the reality of the economy in which you choose to live.

          1. Tia Will

            Mr. Toad

            I firmly believe that we shape our world, including “the market” by our choices. I do not share your belief that affordable housing is not possible.
            At this point in time we are simply not making the choices ( both as a city and as a society overall) that would make it possible.

            If you don’t believe that we have the ability to change, I would like to offer some examples on a number of fronts.
            1) The speed with which we travel. Airline travel for the general population was a rarity 60 years ago when I was a toddler. Commonplace today.
            2) Socially we have gone from mixed race marriage being illegal if not “impossible” and now is common place.
            3) In the area of information, we have gone from the need for either extensive study ourselves, or the use of a skilled librarian to get esoteric information to our ability to access information with a few key strokes.
            4) Economically I have seen in my lifetime the movement from an individual having one virtually guaranteed job for life followed by a guaranteed pension, to our present situation in which an individual is more likely to work a number of jobs with no pension guarantee.

            Note that I am not passing judgement on whether any of these changes are good, bad or neutral. Only that dramatic change is possible if we have the willingness to make it. I do not see an endless cycle of need for maintenance of infrastructure = need for more growth = more pressure on the infrastructure = need for more growth to maintain it since no one wants to spend their money to pay for our own wants and needs. Those who favor this endless growth cycle seem to believe that they are the ones who are being fiscally responsible. What I see is an unwillingness to pay for our own expenses, and hoping that someone will come along who wants to help us pay for them. We could change this mind set. It is not impossible. Just look at all of the other things that we have changed over time.

  4. Barack Palin

    I really think the community is ready for a business park as long as the project looks good and has safeguards in place that will force the developers to stick to their word. We already are building housing at the Cannery along with new housing at Nishi so I feel any new housing at this time isn’t needed. Now if a business park creates more demand we can address more new housing at that time.

      1. Mr. Toad

        Group hug then let me rain on your parade. One of the worst things about Measure R is it causes each landowner to ask what can I get through the process instead of how does my plan fit the needs of the community. In a process guided by more representative government and less direct democracy, the idea that we should worry about the houses later is a perfect example of this. An honest process would address both the need for business development and the additional housing and infrastructure that the workers will need. Measure R results in a piecemeal instead of a holistic approach.

        1. Tia Will

          Mr. Toad

          “it causes each landowner to ask what can I get through the process instead of how does my plan fit the needs of the community”

          It is not measure R that forces this. It is the basis of our economy that causes developers and virtually every other participant in our economy to ask the question
          “what can I get out of the process” rather than how does my plan fit the needs of the community. No one is forced to do anything by measure R. The developers are as free as anyone else to make the calculations and take the risks of failure if they want the material rewards of success. I don’t like our economic system. But this is how it currently works for everyone. I fail to see why we should alter our city processes so as to protect this particular group.

          1. Mr. Toad

            Actually its not how it works for everyone. Most communities develop general plans and leave things to their elected officials. Measure R distorts and balkanizes our planning process. Look no further than Cannery and Covell which should have been mastered planned together but because of measure R became each land owner for themselves creating access issues at Cannery much to the detriment of both the people who will live there and the rest of the community as well.

          2. David Greenwald

            “Look no further than Cannery and Covell which should have been mastered planned together”

            That’s your opinion. My opinion and the opinion of others is that because the two properties fell into different land use categories, it was wise not to master plan them together. Cannery will be built in the next few years whereas Covell will likely not be built in the next twenty. So why the need to master plan them?

          3. Mr. Toad

            Two jurisdictions one requiring a measure R vote and the other not requiring such a vote and that was the key impediment. Bridging all the other issues between county and city could not even be contemplated by Conagra because of Measure R. The clear result is the transportation bottleneck at Covell and J. Its not opinion its tangible and if Covell ever gets developed and other access roads for ingress and egress become available people will wonder why it wasn’t done years earlier. The answer will be the balkanized planning resulting from measure R.

        2. David Greenwald

          “One of the worst things about Measure R is it causes each landowner to ask what can I get through the process instead of how does my plan fit the needs of the community. ”

          That’s one way to look at it. On the other hand, perhaps it forces them to move from what will make me the most money to what are the needs of the community (as embodied within the electorate).

          “Measure R results in a piecemeal instead of a holistic approach.”

          The lack of a community general plan process results in that as well.

  5. Frankly

    Here is the simple way to look at the problem and need. (Note posted something similar in another topic)

    Davis has a GF budget of $50 million per year.

    Palo Alto – a same-sized college town with its own world-class research university has a GF budget of $150 million.

    Davis must grow our GF budget to at least $100 million per year.

    If we increase our business sector to provide this additional $50 million of funding, then we are still only 2/3 the size and scope of Palo Alto’s business sector.

    We need about 600 acres of business parks, a $.05 sales tax increase (passed) and a $50 per month parcel tax to get us to that number. Or about 800 acres and no parcel tax increase.

    That is the compromise in my opinion. Davis is too far down the economic rat hole having our city agenda dominated by no-growth people for decades. That was a mistake in that we went too far. Now we have to catch up and correct for those mistakes. But we can still stop short of becoming the more urban city that you and others seem to fear or dislike.

    Davis cannot survive on 1/3 the standard for our local economy. We can do it at 2/3. And that should be okay with everyone except the most stubborn and selfish demands to not change.

    The good news is that we have the opportunity to do this. Most communities throughout the nation would think they had died and gone to Heaven with our opportunities.

    In the end we will still be a fantastic community… in fact, I absolutely envision a much better community. We will still be quirky and small and rural and bike-friendly. We will have more parks and more open space. More young professionals and more families. Better roads. More and better bike paths. More and better pools and sports fields. More job opportunities for local residents. Higher residential property values. More school funding. More students for the schools to stay open and get their matching funding.

    And what is the downside? We know the ONLY thing we fret about is traffic, and maybe crime. And I don’t buy the vanishing farmland and open-space argument… look at a map for Yolo County. We are talking about development along the major freeway corridor. Go off the freeway and there is lots and lots of farmland and open space. But with respect to traffic and crime, we already have quite a bit of both. Will it get worse in places, maybe. But then we have more money for traffic mitigation and public transportation options… and we can hire more police to patrol areas where they don’t currently have the staff to adequately cover.

    And pressure for more housing. That pressure already exists. We still have measure J/R. we can still reject it if we don’t like it.

    I would like to hear from those resisting the business parks what they list as their concerns to warrant opposition.

    1. Alan Miller

      I buy your overall argument. I don’t buy we can ever be at Palo Alto levels. There is simply a lot more money there. We should aim for our potential, not compare on unrealistic standards. Perhaps 2/3 is near our potential, I do not pretend to know.

      I don’t believe Davis will reject housing because “we” don’t like it. I believe owners are far more likely to vote, and I don’t believe owners will ever in a voting majority vote to lower their property values. I do believe a business park may pass a J/R vote, very much because it does not involve housing and therefore does not increase housing supply and thus potentially lower property values.

      Eventually J/R will strangle us. We may have neighbors to say hi to, but they will be upper middle class and upper class neighbors, with more and more homeless in the cracks and crevices to take advantage of bleeding heart services. Along with more and more so-called low-cost subsidized housing, which artificially raises the low-end above the lower-middle, and the result is no lower-middle class residents, who scurry off to Woodland, Winters and West Sacramento. I personally believe building a town without a lower middle class is elitist and undesirable.

      I am not against building on the periphery. What I am against is a weak City government that allows the developers of a project to rule the planning by crying poor. The City should have well-defined values that Council, Staff and Citizens demand of any developer. The developer should come knowing these Davis values, and within reason the Council and staff should fight for Davis values. Some of the “no growth at all” crowd formation and J/R passing is the result of reasonable folk turning jaded in years past watching some developers totally control the process. Coming in early and working with the community and showing good faith in supporting Davis values goes a long way.

      1. South of Davis

        Alan wrote:

        > supporting Davis values goes a long way

        Who’s “Davis Values” are you talking about yours, mine, Frankly’s, Don’s or Tia’s?

        P.S. It would not bum me out if some of the run down Davis homes with junk cars (or boats) in the driveways (or garages converted in to multiple bedrooms) sold to upper class/ivy league people (as long as they were not crazy people who tried to take over the high school volleyball team)…

        1. Alan Miller

          Yeah, that is a good point. I meant to say from agreed on values predetermined in a document such as a general plan and guidelines, rather than the City always deciding that most every project is an exception and needs special zoning, which is often developer driven. If the general plan were up to date, clear, and not always steered around, developers would be more likely to adhere to it ahead of time with proposals, rather than the games we play with a J/R world. Of course, it was no panacea before J/R either.

      2. Frankly

        I agree with most of this except home owners voted for the Cannery and it will serve to lower home values for a while when the supply hits the market.

        1. Don Shor

          Huh? Dan, Rochelle, and Lucas voted for the Cannery. I don’t recall anybody else voting for it. I also seriously doubt home values in Davis will drop even a tiny amount as those houses come on the market.

      3. Tia Will


        “We may have neighbors to say hi to, but they will be upper middle class and upper class neighbors, with more and more homeless in the cracks and crevices to take advantage of bleeding heart services. Along with more and more so-called low-cost subsidized housing, which artificially raises the low-end above the lower-middle, and the result is no lower-middle class residents, who scurry off to Woodland, Winters and West Sacramento. I personally believe building a town without a lower middle class is elitist and undesirable.”

        And I would agree with you if I believed that this would be the inevitable outcome.
        I do not believe this to be true. It is our individual choices that shape our world. Not everyone always opts for a” more is better” philosophy of living. A few real world examples.
        Robb Davis and his family, while doubtless economically capable of owning a car, have chosen not to do so for the past ten years. I am not the only individual who has chosen to downsize from a 4 bedroom in a bedroom community to a cottage in a highly walkable and much more eclectic part of town, not for financial reasons, but because I prefer the lifestyle and walkability. Your analysis is dependent upon money being the sole determinant of our choices. I do not believe that this is the case.

        1. Alan Miller

          I’m talking about overall economic ability to live in Davis, economics. It is not inevitable, it has already happened. Individuals can overcome this; a limited number can. Overall, there is a very small lower middle class in Davis relative to neighboring cities.

  6. davisite4

    When you say “Failure is not an option here,” what do you mean by “failure”? Is it failure of all three proposals, or would failure of, say, Mace 200 alone be considered “failure”?

    I think it would be a mistake to focus all of the attention on Mace 200. The NW proposal seems to have a lot going for it, including the attitude of the people proposing it and the lesser quality of the soil in that location as compared to the other two. If it’s failure of all three proposals that we really want to avoid, we ought to focus on the one that looks most likely to succeed with voters, and right now that looks to me like the NW proposal.

      1. davisite4

        It’s a factor. It makes the site more attractive than it would have been otherwise. But I’m still not crazy about the site, and find the NW site more attractive.

  7. Tia Will


    I am not in opposition to the concept of an innovation park or parks.
    I would take exception to a couple of your comments.
    1) Your comparisons of Palp Alto to Davis fall short for a couple of reasons. First, Palo Alto is not comparable to Davis in terms of its geographic surroundings being completely surrounded by other urban areas. While that may be fine forthe residents of PaloAlto, I believe that a majority of the citizens of Davis have demonstrated again and again their desire to maintain open space. I know that you feel we have achieved this already. However, some of us believe that it has been achieved only by the ongoing vigilance of those who prefer slow growth.
    Also there is a significant socioeconomic difference between the two cities.
    Median family income in 2009 (per Wikipedia) in PaloAlto was
    $ 120,000. The median income for a family was $74,051. Not a trivial difference when you consider the differential impact on discretionary spending in my opinion. A quick look didn’t give me the comparable current data but I do think it illustrates the point.
    2) You list a number of “mores” that you would like to see. I, on the other hand to not believe that “more” and
    “desirable” are synonymous. We simply differ in our values on this point. Also, you never bother to point out that
    as we accommodate more business and more people, there will be increased infrastructure demands and costs which will lead ultimately to demands for yet more growth. This is the downside that you choose to not acknowledge.

    1. Frankly

      “as we accommodate more business and more people, there will be increased infrastructure demands and costs which will lead ultimately to demands for yet more growth. This is the downside that you choose to not acknowledge.

      This does not make any sense.

      You don’t seem to get or accept that business is net positive cash flow to the city. The revenue generated to the city exceeds the cost of the infrastructure and services.

      I still don’t understand your “downside”.

      This is the frustrating part of this debate for me. I think those opposing peripheral business development don’t even know why they are opposing. I understand the opposition to housing because the added supply puts some downward pressure on residential real estate prices. More apartments can also cause rents to fall. I can understand the downtown merchants blocking peripheral retail to escape competition. I can understand some of the core residents blocking redevelopment and parking garages because they don’t want their quaint little shopping village to change. But I cannot get my head around the strong opposition… or even light weight blocking… of peripheral business innovation parks.

      What is it? Someone please explain it in succinct terms… the specific negative impacts they expect or fear.

      Don’t like “more”, or have “different values”, or “maintain open space”… again these are all really quite meaningless. They are more than nebulous.

      If you are afraid that the voter demographics will change just consider that Palo Alto workers vote Democrat down the line.

      I appreciate you at least responding. There is a bunch of crickets every time I ask this question. And in any case when someone cannot answer the question “what is it that you don’t like” in clear terms, they are not being completely rational.

      Please make a list of the negative things you expect to happen to you or to the citywith these three business parks being built. That will give us something tangible to discuss.

      1. Don Shor

        You don’t seem to get or accept that business is net positive cash flow to the city. The revenue generated to the city exceeds the cost of the infrastructure and services.

        You and others are going to have to quantify that and repeat it, because Sue Greenwald is arguing otherwise.

      2. Tia Will


        I have provided the information about which you are asking many times in various forms,
        You seem to want a list, so here it is.
        1. An innovation park ( to which I am not opposed as oft stated) will generate a demand for
        increased housing. Mr. Toad has accurately pointed out that it is not environmentally
        friendly to have large numbers of people commuting from adjacent communities.
        2. We already have a demand for increased housing in the form of university growth as
        Don has frequently posted. Thus I see yet more increased demand as exceeding our
        3. While the park itself may have financial benefit to the city, ( although it is not certain how
        much, since you and others are in agreement that this cannot be determined) it
        brings with it increased demands on the city . It will not in and of itself pay for the
        city’s increased infrastructure needs. Thus citizens who do not want to tax themselves
        more for city services and amenities will need more and more people to support their
        desires rather than being willing to pay for them themselves.
        4. These demands include increased need for infrastructure of all types which in turn carries
        more costs.
        More people = more cars= more pollution, more street building and maintenance costs,
        more congestion and longer travel times
        = need for more water
        = more demand for “convenience” shopping which you perceive as good,
        but I perceive as unnecessary redundancy ( Target )
        = more more need for city services of all types ( increased employee costs)
        = more waste and waste disposal needs
        I will agree with you that some of my preferences cannot be easily broken down into dollars and cents. However, I do not believe that intangibles can be discounted or that only quantifiable financial concerns are rational and worthy of discussion.
        Anyone who holds any religious or spiritual beliefs can attest that not all values can be measured in dollars and cents. These intangibles are frequently more important to me than is money. If you are going to call this irrational, I will not quibble with your definition of that word. I will however, assert that life’s intangibles are frequently as, if not more important than money.
        A few examples : How much would I have spent to save my daughter’s life ? The answer would have been everything I own. How much would you spend to save the life of a loved one ? Neither of us would be able to quantitate our love for our family member, but I am sure that each of us would understand the motivation to save their life.
        If only money counted, no one would ever donate any of their money to charity or volunteer their time. Clearly direct financial gain is not the only motivating factor. And it is not only bleeding heart liberals who donate. You yourself said that you and your wife volunteered in the schools.
        You and I would appear to exist at opposite ends of the Bell Curve of financial vs intangible values. Just because something is not quantifiable does not make it less valuable or worthy of discussion and it does not make those who value intangibles irrational. Take Ayn Rands world view which, you seem to admire, that each individual should act in their own perceived best interest. Should this only apply to material gain, or should it not apply equally if one’s highest values are intangible ?

  8. South of Davis

    Tia wrote:

    > Your comparisons of Palp Alto to Davis fall short for a couple of reasons.

    More than a couple (it is dozens)…

    > First, Palo Alto is not comparable to Davis in terms of its geographic
    > surroundings being completely surrounded by other urban areas

    You need to spend some time in the western part of Palo Alto (that is NOT) urban. With about 1/3 of the land in the Palo Alto city limits open space I bet is has more open space than Davis (this is not counting the adjacent Stanford Campus that is almost as big as Davis and close to 2/3 open space).

    Palo Alto is in one of the richest counties in America with some of the highest home prices in America and it borders another of the richest counties in America that has many cities with super high home prices (and super rich people). If that were not enough Santa Clara County has about one MILLION more people than Yolo County, so comparing Davis to Palo Alto is as big a waste of time as someone in Arbuckle saying that their pizza and beer sales should be as high as the pizza and beer places near the UCD dorms.

    1. Frankly

      General fund budget per capita is a reasonable comparison. Palo Alto’s is three times what Davis’s is. You guys can split hairs all you want, but the good residents of Davis want no fewer amenities than do the good residents of Palo Alto… and it costs money.

      I can go on.

      Santa Cruz


      They also have GF budgets significantly higher than Davis. Both more than $100 million.

      These are college towns with about the same population.

      Keep splitting hairs though… saying Davis is different.

      Yes, Davis is different… it is different because of the no-growth extremists that took control of the agenda years ago.

      Note to SOD… if Davis had more business in town we would also be more affluent.

      1. Jim Frame

        General fund budget per capita is a reasonable comparison. Palo Alto’s is three times what Davis’s is.

        Home prices in Palo Alto are 4 times those of Davis, so I don’t believe per capita GF budget provides a useful comparison.

  9. davisite4

    I would still like to get some clarity about the thesis of this article. Does “failure” refer to failure of all three proposals or just the failure of one, Mace 200?

      1. davisite4

        Ok, thanks — I didn’t get that at all from your article. Now that I understand your thesis, I agree that if failure of the first business park that is proposed would be very bad for Davis, then trying to modify Measure R in the way that has been suggested is a recipe for disaster. Also, I think that if it is very important that the first proposal (whatever it is) succeed, then folks ought to put their energies behind the NW proposal. I think the other two are uphill battles in a way that the NW proposal is not.

  10. Tia Will

    It would seem to me that in any business, the first requirement is a product or service that is desired by the target population. If a developer is sincere in wanting to remain or start up in Davis, what they need to do is to ascertain what is desired by the majority and tailor their proposal to meet those values. Isn’t this the heart of the “free market” that some of you so often cite ?

    It seems very backwards to me for a developer to come to the city with a plan that may or may not fully meet the previously established goals and values of the city and then try to convince us that this is really what we wanted all along. This is my view of the process that occurred with the Cannery. It is my sincere hope that this will not occur with “the first business park that goes on the ballot” or any other future proposal for that matter.

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