Mistake to Delay Road Repairs

road-repairby Michelle Millet

Walk outside your front door, ride your bike on the greenbelt or drive anywhere in Davis and one thing is clear, our paved surfaces are in need of repair. Because previous city councils balanced their budgets without setting aside money to pay for these infrastructure needs, the city does not have the funding necessary to fix our crumbling sidewalk, bike paths and roads.

Last Tuesday, City Councilmember Brett Lee made a motion to put a $48-per-year per parcel tax on the November ballot. The revenue generated from the tax would have been earmarked specifically for the repair and maintenance of our sidewalk, bike paths and roads.

Unfortunately, Lee did not get support from his council colleagues on this motion.

Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis said that before the public was presented with a parcel tax, a fuller accounting of the city’s infrastructure needs should be determined.

Councilmembers Lucas Frerichs and Rochelle Swanson expressed concern that there was not enough public support for passage of a parcel tax, which requires a two-thirds majority. They also said they are unsure whether they want a tax that addresses only road repairs instead of one that also includes funding for recreational infrastructure costs, like tennis court repairs or the construction of a 50-meter competition pool complex.

Ultimately, the council voted to put the decision off until spring, a decision I believe is a mistake. Waiting to fund the roads ultimately will cost taxpayers more money.

In 2013, the city received a pavement management report that claimed that if Davis did not immediately spend $150 million on road maintenance, it soon would be facing a $444 million deficit due to the exponential cost associated with delaying road repairs. The longer we wait, the more it will cost, and these costs will continue to rise at an exponential rate.

I believe mixing the costs associated with vital infrastructure and amenities in one tax measure is unfair to voters. While these amenities make Davis such a wonderful place to live, I don’t think people should be forced to pay for them in order to have functional sidewalks, bike paths and roads.

About The Author

Related posts

68 Comments

  1. Tia Will

    Michelle

    I think that there are actually two separate issues here. I know that you are aware of this from our conversations
    and so am posting this for those who may not have been following this issue.

    1) Whether there should be a complete accounting of all outstanding city needs prior to proposing a tax
    or whether we should vote on a “roads” tax before all of the other costs are known ( Robb Davis’ point).
    I see a real danger in not having a full analysis prior to putting forward a limited tax. I see this as a very
    similar situation as what contributed to our current difficulties. It was the general lack of awareness of the
    road situation that contributed to their deterioration in the first place. My concern is not a 50m pool,
    but rather what else we might be missing that might come back to haunt us just as the roads have if missed.

    2) The “nice to haves”. This is in my opinion a separate issue which should not be equated with the need for complete information about the entirety of our infrastructure.

    1. Michelle Millet

      Robb has a distinct position on this issue. He is NOT advocating that amenities be included in a parcel tax that also funds road repair. Sorry if that was not made clear, this was a letter to the Enterprise so I was limited to 350 words. I believe Robb makes a very legitimate argument that a full analysis of our infrastructure needs to be done so that people have a better understanding of the fiscal situation. But in the meantime, and this is where Robb and I disagree, I think a funding mechanism should be put in place to start repairing the roads, sidewalks, and bike paths.

        1. Michelle Millet

          My concern, we could come up with an infinite number of reasons to take a bite.

          The state of our roads, sidewalks, bike paths effect everyone in this community. Fixing them should not be used as leverage to get our other infrastructure needs met.

      1. Mark West

        The $50 parcel tax was a ‘band aid’ for the roads, not a solution. Worse yet, it did not consider the other infrastructure needs that the City faces for, as Robb pointed out, the City has not analyzed the extent of the problem yet. If we are going to vote to raise taxes again, we should be voting on a proposal that has a significant impact in addressing the backlog of our infrastructure needs, not simply doing something (anything) to make people feel better.

        The reality is that band aids make kids feel better, even though they frequently offer little or no medical benefit.

  2. Tia Will

    Michelle

    I think that there are actually two separate issues here. I know that you are aware of this from our conversations
    and so am posting this for those who may not have been following this issue.

    1) Whether there should be a complete accounting of all outstanding city needs prior to proposing a tax
    or whether we should vote on a “roads” tax before all of the other costs are known ( Robb Davis’ point).
    I see a real danger in not having a full analysis prior to putting forward a limited tax. I see this as a very
    similar situation as what contributed to our current difficulties. It was the general lack of awareness of the
    road situation that contributed to their deterioration in the first place. My concern is not a 50m pool,
    but rather what else we might be missing that might come back to haunt us just as the roads have if missed.

    2) The “nice to haves”. This is in my opinion a separate issue which should not be equated with the need for complete information about the entirety of our infrastructure.

    1. Michelle Millet

      Robb has a distinct position on this issue. He is NOT advocating that amenities be included in a parcel tax that also funds road repair. Sorry if that was not made clear, this was a letter to the Enterprise so I was limited to 350 words. I believe Robb makes a very legitimate argument that a full analysis of our infrastructure needs to be done so that people have a better understanding of the fiscal situation. But in the meantime, and this is where Robb and I disagree, I think a funding mechanism should be put in place to start repairing the roads, sidewalks, and bike paths.

        1. Michelle Millet

          My concern, we could come up with an infinite number of reasons to take a bite.

          The state of our roads, sidewalks, bike paths effect everyone in this community. Fixing them should not be used as leverage to get our other infrastructure needs met.

      1. Mark West

        The $50 parcel tax was a ‘band aid’ for the roads, not a solution. Worse yet, it did not consider the other infrastructure needs that the City faces for, as Robb pointed out, the City has not analyzed the extent of the problem yet. If we are going to vote to raise taxes again, we should be voting on a proposal that has a significant impact in addressing the backlog of our infrastructure needs, not simply doing something (anything) to make people feel better.

        The reality is that band aids make kids feel better, even though they frequently offer little or no medical benefit.

  3. Mr. Toad

    The question isn’t over need versus want the question is how you get 2/3 to approve of a tax. Remember this is not a simple majority rules situation.

    The reality is that Davis is paralyzed by direct democracy at the ballot box . We can’t move forward in a timely fashion on economic development because of measure R and we can’t get a tax to repave the roads because of the 2/3 requirement for passage isn’t supported by the polling. I wonder does the 2/3 requirement come from prop 13? So there you have the current state of affairs under the anti-tax and anti-growth sentiments in our community. The combination of these two conservative philosophies, fiscal conservatives and land use conservation, have sent Davis into infrastructural decline. Our roads, schools, trails and pools all will continue to get worse before they get better. Interesting that policies that were designed to keep us from growing have instead led us into decline.

    One personal question for the author if she doesn’t mind responding. Where does your family swim?

    1. Barack Palin

      Toad, do you think it’s fair that other people can vote to tax parcel owners when they have no or little skin in the game? The 2/3’s vote requirement is the only thing that somewaht balances it out.

      1. Tia Will

        BP

        I realize that you specifically addressed this to Mr. Toad, but I also have a thought about it.

        “Fair” is often in the eye of the beholder.

        I think that non property owners voting on a parcel tax is no more nor less “fair” than those of us who have higher incomes voting on a sales tax that we know will pose a higher burden on those with lower incomes.

          1. Tia Will

            BP

            Oh, you mean like foreign wars on the national level, or state highway maintenance even if you don’t drive, or like helping to educate the children of others even for those who have never had children getting progressively closer to home.

            We live in a system in which every single one of us has, at some point in time voted for someone else’s money to be spent in ways of which they would not approve. Don’t think so ? Well if you have every voted for a Republican for any nation wide office, I guarantee that you were voting to spend my tax dollars in ways that I would not have them spent.

            So why, in your mind is it only “liberals” who are spending “other people’s money ” ?

          1. Mr. Toad

            Yes that is how it works. The problem in Davis is that not enough people vote. If more of our renting population voted you might get something done about the dreadful treatment of renters in this town by the universally poorly rated property management here and some property owners.

          2. Mr. Toad

            “Representation with taxation” I think you mean no representation without taxation. Still I think you really mean you don’t want to pay taxes imposed by a simple majority. Personally I’m okay with majority rule. Its funny when people argue the community doesn’t support a tax increase to fix the roads when the poll showed 58% approval. The correct argument is that the council doesn’t have the support of a super majority. That makes it a completely different debate.

          3. Barack Palin

            What I meant to say was representation without taxation. Thank God for the 2/3’s vote because it at least gives the people that actually have to pay the tax a fighting chance.

          4. Davis Progressive

            what you meant to say is you want to live in a good community without water, roads, or services.

          5. Barack Palin

            Not at all, where did I say that? The conversation was about the fairness of requiring a 2/3’s vote on parcel taxes.

          6. Davis Progressive

            well you have in the past opposed the water project and the rate hikes. you oppose taxes. how are you expecting to finance our current services, road repairs, and water infrastructure?

    2. Michelle Millet

      We generally swim at Manor pool but I’m thinking about just filling the huge pot holes on the bike path behind my house with water and using those instead.

  4. Mr. Toad

    The question isn’t over need versus want the question is how you get 2/3 to approve of a tax. Remember this is not a simple majority rules situation.

    The reality is that Davis is paralyzed by direct democracy at the ballot box . We can’t move forward in a timely fashion on economic development because of measure R and we can’t get a tax to repave the roads because of the 2/3 requirement for passage isn’t supported by the polling. I wonder does the 2/3 requirement come from prop 13? So there you have the current state of affairs under the anti-tax and anti-growth sentiments in our community. The combination of these two conservative philosophies, fiscal conservatives and land use conservation, have sent Davis into infrastructural decline. Our roads, schools, trails and pools all will continue to get worse before they get better. Interesting that policies that were designed to keep us from growing have instead led us into decline.

    One personal question for the author if she doesn’t mind responding. Where does your family swim?

    1. Barack Palin

      Toad, do you think it’s fair that other people can vote to tax parcel owners when they have no or little skin in the game? The 2/3’s vote requirement is the only thing that somewaht balances it out.

      1. Tia Will

        BP

        I realize that you specifically addressed this to Mr. Toad, but I also have a thought about it.

        “Fair” is often in the eye of the beholder.

        I think that non property owners voting on a parcel tax is no more nor less “fair” than those of us who have higher incomes voting on a sales tax that we know will pose a higher burden on those with lower incomes.

          1. Tia Will

            BP

            Oh, you mean like foreign wars on the national level, or state highway maintenance even if you don’t drive, or like helping to educate the children of others even for those who have never had children getting progressively closer to home.

            We live in a system in which every single one of us has, at some point in time voted for someone else’s money to be spent in ways of which they would not approve. Don’t think so ? Well if you have every voted for a Republican for any nation wide office, I guarantee that you were voting to spend my tax dollars in ways that I would not have them spent.

            So why, in your mind is it only “liberals” who are spending “other people’s money ” ?

          1. Mr. Toad

            Yes that is how it works. The problem in Davis is that not enough people vote. If more of our renting population voted you might get something done about the dreadful treatment of renters in this town by the universally poorly rated property management here and some property owners.

          2. Mr. Toad

            “Representation with taxation” I think you mean no representation without taxation. Still I think you really mean you don’t want to pay taxes imposed by a simple majority. Personally I’m okay with majority rule. Its funny when people argue the community doesn’t support a tax increase to fix the roads when the poll showed 58% approval. The correct argument is that the council doesn’t have the support of a super majority. That makes it a completely different debate.

          3. Barack Palin

            What I meant to say was representation without taxation. Thank God for the 2/3’s vote because it at least gives the people that actually have to pay the tax a fighting chance.

          4. Davis Progressive

            what you meant to say is you want to live in a good community without water, roads, or services.

          5. Barack Palin

            Not at all, where did I say that? The conversation was about the fairness of requiring a 2/3’s vote on parcel taxes.

          6. Davis Progressive

            well you have in the past opposed the water project and the rate hikes. you oppose taxes. how are you expecting to finance our current services, road repairs, and water infrastructure?

    2. Michelle Millet

      We generally swim at Manor pool but I’m thinking about just filling the huge pot holes on the bike path behind my house with water and using those instead.

  5. Tia Will

    Mr. Toad

    “We can’t move forward in a timely fashion on economic development because of measure R and we can’t get a tax to repave the roads because of the 2/3 requirement for passage isn’t supported by the polling”

    I would like to rephrase your statement from a different perspective.

    We can;t move forward on a time line that I prefer with economic development …..”

    Since I first arrived in Davis in 1979, I have seen a lot of development, both economic and housing.
    I have seen more than I would have preferred when I first decided to make Davis my home.
    But I am not pretending that this is or should be a universally held belief. My desire for as slow a growth rate as possible under the law is just as sincere as your desire for rapid growth. My vision for the city of my preference is based on lifestyle choice over personal economic benefit, not only for myself but for my children and theirs.

  6. Tia Will

    Mr. Toad

    “We can’t move forward in a timely fashion on economic development because of measure R and we can’t get a tax to repave the roads because of the 2/3 requirement for passage isn’t supported by the polling”

    I would like to rephrase your statement from a different perspective.

    We can;t move forward on a time line that I prefer with economic development …..”

    Since I first arrived in Davis in 1979, I have seen a lot of development, both economic and housing.
    I have seen more than I would have preferred when I first decided to make Davis my home.
    But I am not pretending that this is or should be a universally held belief. My desire for as slow a growth rate as possible under the law is just as sincere as your desire for rapid growth. My vision for the city of my preference is based on lifestyle choice over personal economic benefit, not only for myself but for my children and theirs.

  7. Mr. Toad

    I’m not advocating rapid growth but rather a rate that addresses the needs of the community, region and state. The problem is we have lagged and under grown for so long that there is much pent up demand for growth. Advocating for a rate as low as legally possible belies the fact that you would prefer no growth at all but can’t make the argument that we should break the law (oh go ahead and deny it). That argument has always been a no growth shibboleth uttered by the most ardent no growthers in the community so even if you deny it there are others who don’t or at least say it with a revealing sarcastic grin. You want to claim that you are the reasonable voice when in reality your view is one that undermines our ability to address our declining infrastructure and is leading to what no growth has become, negative growth of infrastructure, public amenities and public services. I would prefer a growth rate that rights the ship from the excesses of liberal spending and conservative growth rates and as Michelle rightly points out the longer we dither the worse it will get. Of course whether decline is good or bad is in the eye of the beholder. From my vantage point its bad but I’m sure there are those who would prefer a Davis with fewer paved and more gravel roads, who don’t care about our schools, parks and pools because perhaps they don’t have kids at home and don’t want to pay for other peoples children. People who enjoy the benefits of living in a college town but don’t really care for the university or its mission and wish it was still the size it was before Clark Kerr’s master plan.

    1. Tia Will

      Mr. Toad

      “your view is one that undermines our ability to address our declining infrastructure and is leading to what no growth has become”

      I don’t see how you can adhere to that belief when I have posted repetitively that I would be willing to be taxed much more than I am now in order to pay for our infrastructure and that I favor such development as would genuinely enhance our relationship with the university. Being an alumni, I probably am as pro university as you are.

      I just see the mission of the university in perhaps a different light than you do. The university of 30 years ago allowed me to attend on a fraction of what it costs today. I was eligible for grants for which I am sure I would not qualify today. And our government was still actively promoting students who would work in hardship areas for a fixed amount of time in order to pay back for the coverage of their education instead of treating them like they were applying for national security jobs when indeed they were applying for local AmeriCorps positions.

      We also seem to differ on another point. You repeatedly paint our choices as deteriorate or grow. Only two. No possibility for balance, no other possibility for financing the choices that we have already made. I think that balance is a third route. I believe that we have both the ability and the obligation to pay for those items both the “critical and the nice to haves” that we have chosen and not essentially use up the land, environment and all future choices of future generations because we would not take on the responsibility of paying as we go for what we use but always wanting to use up more in order to pay for our own choices.

      1. Mr. Toad

        I don’t think Americorp existed 30 years ago. I believe it was a Clinton era program. I understand what you are saying about the cost of education but that is a totally different discussion. Although the model Katehi is following is to transfer technology from the university to the private sector and then have the new wealth creation fund the university through philanthropic donations and royalty payments. Like it or not it is the model that most of the major universities are adopting. We are lucky that we can be one of those universities and harvest the wealth created by the development of our most talented human capital.

        I do appreciate that you are willing to pay up but sadly Davis is in a situation where we can’t get a 2/3 supermajority who will vote to bail us out and because of measure R we can’t get anything built in time to bail us out so as I said the combination of anti-growth and anti-tax sentiments is causing the infrastructure to decline. The good news is that unlike some other communities we have plenty of options should we ever get our heads out of the sand.

  8. Mr. Toad

    I’m not advocating rapid growth but rather a rate that addresses the needs of the community, region and state. The problem is we have lagged and under grown for so long that there is much pent up demand for growth. Advocating for a rate as low as legally possible belies the fact that you would prefer no growth at all but can’t make the argument that we should break the law (oh go ahead and deny it). That argument has always been a no growth shibboleth uttered by the most ardent no growthers in the community so even if you deny it there are others who don’t or at least say it with a revealing sarcastic grin. You want to claim that you are the reasonable voice when in reality your view is one that undermines our ability to address our declining infrastructure and is leading to what no growth has become, negative growth of infrastructure, public amenities and public services. I would prefer a growth rate that rights the ship from the excesses of liberal spending and conservative growth rates and as Michelle rightly points out the longer we dither the worse it will get. Of course whether decline is good or bad is in the eye of the beholder. From my vantage point its bad but I’m sure there are those who would prefer a Davis with fewer paved and more gravel roads, who don’t care about our schools, parks and pools because perhaps they don’t have kids at home and don’t want to pay for other peoples children. People who enjoy the benefits of living in a college town but don’t really care for the university or its mission and wish it was still the size it was before Clark Kerr’s master plan.

    1. Tia Will

      Mr. Toad

      “your view is one that undermines our ability to address our declining infrastructure and is leading to what no growth has become”

      I don’t see how you can adhere to that belief when I have posted repetitively that I would be willing to be taxed much more than I am now in order to pay for our infrastructure and that I favor such development as would genuinely enhance our relationship with the university. Being an alumni, I probably am as pro university as you are.

      I just see the mission of the university in perhaps a different light than you do. The university of 30 years ago allowed me to attend on a fraction of what it costs today. I was eligible for grants for which I am sure I would not qualify today. And our government was still actively promoting students who would work in hardship areas for a fixed amount of time in order to pay back for the coverage of their education instead of treating them like they were applying for national security jobs when indeed they were applying for local AmeriCorps positions.

      We also seem to differ on another point. You repeatedly paint our choices as deteriorate or grow. Only two. No possibility for balance, no other possibility for financing the choices that we have already made. I think that balance is a third route. I believe that we have both the ability and the obligation to pay for those items both the “critical and the nice to haves” that we have chosen and not essentially use up the land, environment and all future choices of future generations because we would not take on the responsibility of paying as we go for what we use but always wanting to use up more in order to pay for our own choices.

      1. Mr. Toad

        I don’t think Americorp existed 30 years ago. I believe it was a Clinton era program. I understand what you are saying about the cost of education but that is a totally different discussion. Although the model Katehi is following is to transfer technology from the university to the private sector and then have the new wealth creation fund the university through philanthropic donations and royalty payments. Like it or not it is the model that most of the major universities are adopting. We are lucky that we can be one of those universities and harvest the wealth created by the development of our most talented human capital.

        I do appreciate that you are willing to pay up but sadly Davis is in a situation where we can’t get a 2/3 supermajority who will vote to bail us out and because of measure R we can’t get anything built in time to bail us out so as I said the combination of anti-growth and anti-tax sentiments is causing the infrastructure to decline. The good news is that unlike some other communities we have plenty of options should we ever get our heads out of the sand.

  9. Davis Progressive

    “I’m not advocating rapid growth but rather a rate that addresses the needs of the community, region and state.”

    you are advocating for rapid growth and have stated elsewhere you have no problem with a 100,000 to 120,000 person davis.

    1. Mr. Toad

      I think I said we should grow to that level by 2050 which would be a 2% growth rate. Hardly does the word rapid apply although I’m comfortable even with a 3% growth rate that would get us there by 2038.

      1. David Greenwald

        Those are pretty fast growth rates. You’re talking about adding another Wildhorse size development every two years or so with a 2 percent growth rate.

  10. Davis Progressive

    “I’m not advocating rapid growth but rather a rate that addresses the needs of the community, region and state.”

    you are advocating for rapid growth and have stated elsewhere you have no problem with a 100,000 to 120,000 person davis.

    1. Mr. Toad

      I think I said we should grow to that level by 2050 which would be a 2% growth rate. Hardly does the word rapid apply although I’m comfortable even with a 3% growth rate that would get us there by 2038.

      1. David Greenwald

        Those are pretty fast growth rates. You’re talking about adding another Wildhorse size development every two years or so with a 2 percent growth rate.

  11. tj

    Liability — I’d sure like to see the roads and sidewalks and pathways in safe shape.
    And I wonder if there’s liability for the city when roads, etc are not appropriately taken care of.
    Recently, I saw a stop sign near the Co-op but drove past it because, as it turned out, the limit line was completely worn away. Instead, I stopped at what appeared to be the limit line, a line which was actually across the other side of the little intersection.
    The city seems to have money for some things, like re-doing 5th street, or fireworks, but not for transportation safety including cars and bikes and pedestrians.

  12. tj

    Liability — I’d sure like to see the roads and sidewalks and pathways in safe shape.
    And I wonder if there’s liability for the city when roads, etc are not appropriately taken care of.
    Recently, I saw a stop sign near the Co-op but drove past it because, as it turned out, the limit line was completely worn away. Instead, I stopped at what appeared to be the limit line, a line which was actually across the other side of the little intersection.
    The city seems to have money for some things, like re-doing 5th street, or fireworks, but not for transportation safety including cars and bikes and pedestrians.

  13. Tia Will

    tj

    I understand the frustration and genuine concern that you are expressing about needed repairs and their potential downside costs.

    However, I do not think that comparing the entire backlog of roads, sidewalks, and pathways to the fireworks strengthens your case. This would be on the order of magnitude of saying the one should not bake a cake with candles for one’s toddlers birthday because you are unsure that you will be able to finance her entire college education.

    1. Barack Palin

      LOL, Tia Will didn’t you just say when confronted about how little good the plastic bag ban does in comparson to one flying to Hawaii for vacation that every little bit helps?

      1. Barack Palin

        That would be in the order of magnitude of saying one should not pack their tooth brush in a plastic bag when flying to Hawaii because a little oil is used to produce that plastic bag.

  14. Tia Will

    tj

    I understand the frustration and genuine concern that you are expressing about needed repairs and their potential downside costs.

    However, I do not think that comparing the entire backlog of roads, sidewalks, and pathways to the fireworks strengthens your case. This would be on the order of magnitude of saying the one should not bake a cake with candles for one’s toddlers birthday because you are unsure that you will be able to finance her entire college education.

    1. Barack Palin

      LOL, Tia Will didn’t you just say when confronted about how little good the plastic bag ban does in comparson to one flying to Hawaii for vacation that every little bit helps?

      1. Barack Palin

        That would be in the order of magnitude of saying one should not pack their tooth brush in a plastic bag when flying to Hawaii because a little oil is used to produce that plastic bag.

  15. Tia Will

    BP

    You made me smile. I certainly did. And it is true as I freely agreed with Rich. However so does the magnitude of the impact. I am less worried about the impact of a single plastic bag ( say with your toothbrush in it), than I am about the cumulative effect of plastics of all types on our environment.

  16. Tia Will

    BP

    You made me smile. I certainly did. And it is true as I freely agreed with Rich. However so does the magnitude of the impact. I am less worried about the impact of a single plastic bag ( say with your toothbrush in it), than I am about the cumulative effect of plastics of all types on our environment.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

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