Parcel Tax should focus on roads, not $10 million pool complex

Community_PoolBy Michelle Millet

My public comment given during June 24 Council Meeting regarding the inclusion of funding for a $10 million dollar 50- meter pool complex with a parcel tax that would fund road, sidewalk, and bike path repairs.

Over the summer my family plans to spend a lot of time at the Manor Pool complex in East Davis. It’s a very nice facility that houses a diving pool, with both high and low diving boards, a lap pool, and a zero entry pool, in addition to a water slide and a splash pad area. The Arroyo complex in West Davis has two pools, and the city also maintains Civic Pool on B St. for organized aquatic activities.

UC Davis operates the “Rec” pool that is open to the public, Hickey Pool, which has seven 25-yard lanes, is heated, and is open year round to the public, plus the Schaal Aquatic Facility, which features an Olympic size 50 meter pool.

The past few summers my kids have participated in the Aquamonster Swim Team summer program, which offers team practices at Davis Swim and Fitness, the El Macero Country Club, Hickey Pool, and the Schaal Aquatic Facility.

The point I’m making is probably clear, we have a lot of options when it comes to pools in Davis.

Over the past 6 months between attending council meetings, helping with the Measure O Booth at the Farmer’s Market, and working on Robb Davis’ campaign for city council I’ve come to have a pretty good understanding of the dim fiscal situation the city is facing.

I’ve learned about the reductions the city has made in staffing and services over the past 5 years.

I’ve watched city employees come to public comment and talk about the financial hardships they were going to face resulting from the cuts that were made to their compensation packages.

I’ve seen the stress my friends who work for the city face wondering if they are going to loss their jobs.

In 2013 they city received a pavement management report that claimed that if the city did not immediately spend $150 million on road maintenance, they would soon be facing a $444 million deficit due to the exponential cost associated with delaying road repairs.

It is for this reason, that I would be willing to support and campaign for a parcel tax in the fall that addressed road, sidewalk, and bike path infrastructure repair and maintenance.

I will not be willing to support this tax if it includes money for a 10 million dollar, 50-meter pool complex, that would ultimately only serve the recreational needs of less then 5% of our population.

I realize that the groups who use our public pools for organized aquatic events feel that their needs are not being met by our current infrastructure. My guess is that there are many groups in this community who feel the same way. For that reason I would be willing to considering supporting a parks and recreation tax in the future that addresses a more comprehensive list of amenities, but in my opinion this needs to be done after and separately from a parcel tax that addresses the city’s truly essential infrastructure needs.

About The Author

Michelle Millet is a 25-year resident of Davis. She currently serves as the Chair of the Natural Resource Commission.

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  1. Tia Will

    “I will not be willing to support this tax if it includes money for a 10 million dollar, 50-meter pool complex, that would ultimately only serve the recreational needs of less then 5% of our population.”

    And i agree with this limited statement. What I see is being missed is that there are actually two separate issues that have not been clearly defined in the message being put out by those who favor the 50 m pool, in Michelle’s comments, or in the comments of Councilman Lee.

    Issue number one : should we combine funds for road, greenbelt, and sidewalk repairs with funds for a new 50 m
    pool ? My answer to this question is “no”. In this case we are talking about funding clearly
    needed maintenance with funding for a “nice amenity”.

    Issue number two : should we combine funds for road, greenbelt, and sidewalk repairs with funds for repairs on
    current pools which may soon outlive their usefulness if not maintained. My answer to this
    question is “maybe”. If one considers the availability of pool space for those who would
    otherwise not have access to one as critical, as I do, for health and safety reasons as well as
    for recreation, then the answer will be yes. If one only considers the recreational aspects,
    then the answer will be “no”.

    What I object to is portraying this as though it were only about the 50 m pool when it is about so much more.

    My recommendation would be that these two issues be considered separately. I would encourage the advocates of a 50 m pool to voluntarily pull back and work on a later request for funding as Brett Lee suggested.
    I would suggest that Brett Lee, Michelle, and all of the council consider whether a request for critical maintenance of the pools that currently exist but are in need of repair be considered just as they would the maintenance needed on other critical infrastructure such as roads, greenbelt, and sidewalks.

    1. davisite4

      But maybe it doesn’t make sense to dump all the money that it would take to fix the old, crumbling pools. (I have heard $7 million). Better to spend the extra amount for a new 50m pool, which the pool user groups have said they will help with, and also reap the financial benefits of having regional meets at the 50m pool. Plus releasing Civic Pool back to the community would leave the City with a valuable piece of property at Russell and B.

      1. Michelle Millet

        I have no argument with your logic. What am I am arguing is that their should be a distinction made on any future tax between necessary infrastructure repairs and amenities.

        If we were in a situation where the public did not have access to essentially 7 public pools (3 at Manor, 2 at Arroyo, Civic, and Hickey) I would consider putting funding of pool repairs/construction of a pool into the “necessary” infrastructure column, but that is not the case.

        I aslo do not believe the desires of the aquatics community should be put above the needs of the other recreational groups in our community, especially given the abundance of facilities at their disposal.

        1. davisite4

          Michelle, my comment was really directed to Tia and not to you, suggesting that if she thinks repairing pools is important, she might consider that given their current state it might make better financial sense to build a new pool rather than fix the old. That’s the sort of decision that we’ve all faced, e.g., do you put money into an old car or buy a new one? At some point, it doesn’t make sense to put money into the old anymore.

          But to direct my comments more towards your views, Michelle, I think you’re mistaken when you say that the aquatics community has an abundance of facilities at their disposal. Again, I think you’re overlooking the sorry state of those facilities and also overstating the availability of some pools (e.g., Shaal, which is expensive and not very available). I think you’re also overlooking Tia’s point about the life-long health benefits of swimming. Those swimming groups you mention get kids in the water not just to splash around, but get them to learn how to swim for exercise and make it fun. Those swimming groups literally represent swimmers of all ages — small children through the elderly. If you’ve seen an older person who swims regularly, you’ve see a person who looks far younger and and tends to be far healthier than others of their age. We should be supporting these groups and getting more people involved, not letting our pools fall into disprepair without taking action. And as I have mentioned elsewhere, it is also important to remember that the swimming groups are willing to contribute $$ to the new pool and its maintenance, but they can’t do it alone, and again, as I have mentioned elsewhere, you have to take into account the investment recouped by regional swim meets.

          In short, I see what you are saying, but it doesn’t seem to me that you are seeing the whole picture.

          1. Michelle Millet

            “Abundance” is a relative term. Compared to other communities I think it is fair to say that Davis has an abundance of aquatic facility options, including a 50-meter pool.

            I’m not under estimating the importance of what these user groups are doing, it is very important, what I’m questioning is the need for them to have a 50-meter pool at the price tag of $10-million to do it in, and I’m questioning their request to put this luxury item-which I think would great to have- on the same tax measure as road repairs.

            I think we should fund pools, but I’m wondering why the aquatic community feel that their need for a 50-meter pool should be put above the needs of other recreational users in our community, whose facilities are also, and in some situations, in more need of repair.

          2. Davis Progressive

            i understand their request, but i think the public is unlikely to back an emergency tax for a luxury item.

        2. Ken

          Of the 3 pools at Manor, only one is a lap pool. The others are a diving pool and a wading pool, both of which are too small and too shallow for water polo, lap swim, and swim meets, including high school swim meets. Arroyo has two pools, but one is a recreation pool. Neither pool can support high-volume year-round use. Arroyo’s heater, for example, cannot keep the pool heated if the pool is uncovered more than a few hours a day. Manor’s bathrooms are have an open construction, so they’re essentially outside. Neither facility is centrally located and easily accessible for people before, during or after work.

          Hickey and Schaal are owned by the University pool, but there is very limited availability and University uses take priority.

    2. Dorte Jensen

      Hi Michelle,

      I’m glad to see that you have appeared again on the Vanguard. I was checking for your posts since June 22 (Sunday) when I responded to your comments to me regarding the Council raise. Did you see that response? It starts, “Hi Tia and Michelle” and appears near the bottom of the following link:

      Please let me know if you have further comments.

    1. Davis Progressive

      how is conservative to be against supporting a pool. i think brett lee is right – the pool is nice to have. sometime i’d like a chance to vote on having it. but we’re in an emergency and those need to be reserved for need to have.

    2. Michelle Millet

      Conservative voice, yeah that sounds like me. What do you think Frankly, I’m a ready to become a card carrying member of a conservative party because I want to vote yes on tax to pay for parks and recreations needs separately from voting yes on tax to pay for road repair?

      1. Michelle Millet

        Now that I am a conservative I should probably get rid of my of I “heart” Hillary Bumper Sticker huh? And my “Good Riddance Bush” one.

        1. Barack Palin

          I’ll take that “Good Riddance Bush” one and cross out Bush and write Obama over it if you don’t want it anymore. I know how you like to recycle things.

  2. Mr. Toad

    The infrastructure of this community is crumbling. Its wells, pools, roads, parks and schools are all in need of major upgrades. Meanwhile the residents who have opposed any and all efforts to grow our local economy are balking at paying for the quality of life they have demanded to the point where property owners demand approval of the voters before even making a proposal that goes beyond much more than a fancy back of the envelope sketch and the University tells us to kiss off by proposing a third campus valued at a billion dollars in Sacramento.

    The anti-growth and anti-tax conservatives of Davis have remade Davis changing it from the vibrant, growing university town it once was into a declining one with declining k-12 enrollment and facilities, road conditions, water quality and housing affordability. As Bob Weir sang “I may be going to hell in a bucket, babe. But at least I’m enjoying the ride.”

    1. Davis Progressive

      you’re missing a key problem here. the people who ran the city from 2002 until 2010 did extremely poor fiscal management of the city – they spent far more based on the property tax receipts at the time than would be long term sustainable. they failed to invest in roads and infrastructure. the community has been remade because we have had to deal with the aftermath.

      i’m not anti-tax, i voted for every tax measure there was, but we need to get a roads tax through before we can tackle less critical infrastructure. the polling bears that out.

      1. Davis Progressive

        from the enterprise article:

        “Asking about specific projects in the city, bike path repair outranked every other project for support, while maintenance and enhancement of city parks was slightly behind that, and streets and roads was third.

        A new sports complex drew the most opposition along with a new 50-meter swimming pool.”

        1. Davis Progressive

          i don’t buy into this anti-tax conservative bs you keep spouting.

          2007 – parcel tax passed with 70%
          2008 – parcel tax passed with 75%
          2011 – parcel tax passed with 67.2%
          2012 – parcel tax passed with 72.3%
          2012 – parcel tax passed with 69%

          2010 – sales tax renewed at 74.5%
          2012 – parks tax renewed at 84%
          2014 – sales tax increase at 58%

          so other than the sales tax measure, the city of davis has passed every tax in the last eight years with more than 67 percent of the vote. there is no anti-tax movement in this community. your comment is bs.

    2. Frankly

      The anti-growth and anti-tax conservatives

      The anti-tax group is conservative, but the anti-growth group is bipartisan.

      The pro-tax group is liberal.

      The pro-economic-development group is bipartisan but tilts more conservative.

      There are some in the pro-economic development group that think we can grow the economy through densification. There are some in the no-growth group that say they support densification only as a tactic to give them credibility in their opposition to peripheral expansion, but in reality they don’t support densification either. And this group is bipartisan but tilts liberal… and is mostly the core residents.

      And one more thing… this blaming conservatives for anything in this town is laughable since there are so few of them and as DP points out there is a clear trend of supporting any and every tax measure.

      Liberals have to take primary responsibility for the mess we are in, because they have been the ones driving and controlling the agenda for decades.

      1. Davis Progressive

        mr. toad believes (whether that statement is serious or not is another story) that david greenwald is conservative, you have to put that into perspective.

  3. davisite4

    Michelle (in reply to your June 26, 2014 at 2:31 pm comment),

    In other things you’ve written (e.g., about reduce/reuse/recycle) you’ve struck me about your willingness to do your research. So, I think if you do a little more research you’ll see that the pools you’re saying are “available” to the swimming groups are not in fact available. The groups I am talking about include Davis Aquatic Masters, Davis Aquadarts, Davis Aquastarz, Davis Water Polo Club, Davis High School Swim Team, and Davis High School Water Polo Team. Of Davis’ four public pools (Civic, Community, Arroyo, and Manor), only Civic and Community pools are centrally located and capable of operating year-round, which limits capacity and opportunities for existing user groups. You keep referring to the 50m pool at Shaal but the university has priority and that leaves very little time for the other groups (at best they get a little more in summer). And when a pool breaks in the way that Civic’s pool did last winter, it’s not like a paved path that’s bumpier than you’d like — it becomes completely unusable. So again, we either wait for these older pools to break completely, as they will no doubt do soon, or we pay to fix them, which seems short-sighted, or we let the swimming groups do the fundraising that they are good at and build a new pool that can serve them all (keep in mind that a 50m pool can be swum in the “horizontal” direction, allowing for many more lanes of use at one time) and bring in money for the town during swim meets.

    1. Michelle Millet

      I’m not recommending that we not fund the pools, nor am I against the idea of building a 50 meter pool complex. What have I a problem with is equating the importance of building a 50-meter complex with fixing the roads, sidewalks, and bike paths.

      Again, I’m sure there are lots of user groups in this community who feel their needs are not being met by our current infrastructure. I’m not understanding why the aquatics users feel that there needs are more important then these other groups, and thus should be given special treatment by being singled out on a tax measure.

      1. davisite4

        I don’t think that fixing the pools is as important as fixing the roads, sidewalks, and bike paths. And I don’t think that the needs of the pool users are more important than other user groups. What I think is that, as with the roads, we are at a point in time where it makes sense to fix them now rather than to keep putting money into pools that are older or to let them become completely non-functional.

          1. davisite4

            Well, I don’t think the case has been made clear for the pools OR the roads. I think if more people understood the situation they’d be more willing to go along with the proposed tax. So, I am trying to do a small part in at least making the situation clearer about the pools. (When someone says things like “why don’t they just use the 50m pool at Shaal?” then I know they don’t have the full story). There are others who can speak better about the road situation than I can.

        1. Michelle Millet

          I do think adding funding for a 50-meter pool would kill a parcel tax. I’ve spent the past 6 months listening and talking to people about the financial situation the city is in. How on one hand do we explain how broke we are and that we are in desperate need for funds to fix our roads, after we just raised the sales tax, and then say, oh yeah and we are going to build a 10 million dollar 50-meter pool complex.

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