Commentary: Making the Case to the Public on Innovation Parks

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innovation-center

I have already seen a few emails from residents in the vicinities of the various proposed innovation parks expressing concerns about need for the project, location of the project and traffic impacts.

The planning process at this stage can be difficult because the developers and proponents are speaking conceptually, in general terms, about the project. The people who live near innovation parks and proposed locations are thinking specifically about how to handle things like traffic impacts and other impacts to their way of life.

The points that I think need to be made early in the process are why we need an innovation park at all. That is a critical element that I have not seen in the pushback, if you want to call it that, from the community. This is the case we have been laying out from the start and the public really needs to understand it.

The city faces a continued fiscal crisis. This is not a small problem that will be fixed in the short term. We passed a sales tax measure in June, but our problem is far bigger than that. We have huge and compounding costs due to deferred maintenance – the roads that are on the verge of catastrophic failure, parks that have millions of infrastructure costs, pools that are leaking and have huge maintenance costs, and city buildings badly in need of upgrades.

The city does not have funding in place to address those needs. And, while the city is still trying to shore up its compensation system, in the long term we are facing ever-increasing taxes, loss of amenities, closure of parks and green belts – or we can attempt to build our tax base.

Davis has one of the lowest sales tax captures per capita in the region, and so the question is how best to shore that up. We do not have existing space to meet those needs – that case needs to be made very clearly to the public. So, while we can look to the downtown, densification and bringing in startups, in terms of generating the revenue that we need, we need space and the only place we have space is on the periphery.

We have kind of assumed here – and I think the polling by Godbe supports this – that the public would be more amenable to university research that spins off to new startup companies, and growing high-tech companies moving into these spots, rather than relying on big box retail, which would be another option.

I might be biased here, but the fiscal analysis is black and white and clear as anything – we cannot maintain the services that we have on the tax revenue that we generate. That is a relatively easy case to make to the public.

Second, we need to address the “where” issue, because yeah, I get that people living in portions of the community value their open space and current living conditions. I don’t think the argument that people are now living on what was once new developments really addresses the point.

Unfortunately, while I agree with those who wish to improve existing space, we need new space to generate the kinds of sales and property tax revenue that will make our budget sustainable.

While Davis is looking at Nishi, which is closer to the university and the downtown, we really don’t have the volume of space needed in that location to generate the revenue that we need.

I have heard people talk about the need to create a community vision – I get that. I have heard that from both sides of the aisle. Those who want Davis to expand its innovation parks but believe that we need a vision to get there, and those who are probably stalling for time.

I am not opposed to a community vision effort, but I think time is largely ticking on this, the time to act is now, and so if a vision effort can facilitate and get us on the same page within the current time frame, go for it. If it slows us down, I think we can rely on the facts to make this case.

The community needs to be shown in a concrete way what this can look like. At some point we will have proposals, EIRs, and other more specific means to know. But in the shorter term, I think we can show the public the possible by showing them examples of good innovation parks (and perhaps some bad ones, to avoid the pitfalls) and how they can both fit in with and enhance this community.

The final point to make for now is that the public needs to understand that this is at an early stage. Yeah, I get it, there are chances that there will be environmental impacts and traffic impacts. That is why we have environmental impact reports. That is why we have traffic engineers who will help develop a way to create these parks without huge traffic impacts.

These are things that can be addressed later in the project and I will tell everyone right now, if the city and developers do not come up with good solutions to real concerns, I’m not going to support the projects and neither should anyone else.

We are not handing them a blank check here. That is why we have Measure R.

At the same time, we face very real dangers and we cannot afford to let the search for perfection be the death of the community as we know it. Imagine Davis without its parks, greenbelts, bike lanes, and pools. Imagine a Davis with crumbling roads, buildings in disrepair, and no means to raise additional revenue.

Some will say this is a scare tactic. But I have poured over these numbers for years and they aren’t getting better. I voted against Covell Village and Target, but this is something that we need if we value the Davis we have. If we build it right, it won’t be a detriment to the community but rather an enhancement.

But we can’t concede this battle or it will be lost before it begins.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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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131 thoughts on “Commentary: Making the Case to the Public on Innovation Parks”

  1. Tia Will

    David

    I remain a three, not a four on the innovation park concept. However I do take exception to several points you have made.

    “this is something that we need if we value the Davis we have”
    This ignores the concept that if we make these particular changes, the Davis that “we have”
    will fundamentally not be the “Davis that we have now”. Some are going to like this, some are not, but to frame this as “saving the Davis that we have now “is erroneous.

    “we cannot maintain the services that we have on the tax revenue that we generate”
    I would modify this to read “the tax revenue that we currently generate”. This does not mean that we could not choose to tax our selves more. It also misses the point that with each of these new additions will come new costs. At what point do we feel secure that we will have
    “grown ourselves out of the economic problems created by past poor choices” without having created yet more need that we then have to expand further to ameliorate. I am always skeptical of the idea of simply growing out way out of problems.

    “there are chances that there will be environmental impacts and traffic impacts”
    These are not chances, these are certainties. The bet that is being made here is that the outcome will be worth the downsides. I would say that this burden of addressing these certainties is on those who are promoting the change for their benefit.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      Tia: I subscribe to the view that Davis is going to change because the present arrangement is not sustainable. The question therefore is which changes us the least.

      1. Mark West

        Dr. Will: “This does not mean that we could not choose to tax our selves more.”

        Dr. Will is correct, we can choose to further raise our taxes, and in the process make Davis a more expensive place to live for everyone (thus protecting her perceived ‘way of life’) or we can choose to grow our economy, providing job opportunities for our youth and lowering everyone’s tax burden (thus improving all of our lives).

        We have effectively been following Dr. Will’s preferred prescription for the past several years, failing to invest in our economy, raising taxes and increasing services while ‘protecting’ one thing or another. This is a big reason why the City is going broke, why our tax rates continue to go up, and why we have a deficit of several thousand jobs compared to a typical California City of our population.

        We have a clear choice, and as David points out, the only certainty is that Davis is going to change. We can choose to continue on our current path of decline, or we can invest in our future and create something better. The details are important, and there are many questions that still need to be answered with regards to the proposed projects, but there is no doubt that choosing to invest in our economy will provide the greater benefits to our community as a whole.

    2. Barack Palin

      We’ve already taxed ourselves enough. I and many others don’t have a doctor’s salary to always come back to the same old trough of just taxing the people more.

      1. Anon

        This is a crucial point – some are willing to tax themselves more because they can afford it. There are many who cannot afford it, and would be forced to leave town, making Davis even more unaffordable than it already is. It will also head us toward being a retirement community, because young families typically cannot afford higher taxes because of all the expenses of raising kids.

      2. hpierce

        Taxing themselves… works… taxing OTHERS so that I may make a ‘tax’ contribution, not so much.

        Perhaps those of means, who would prefer mainly a tax revenue solution, should seriously consider supporting Davis becoming a ‘Charter City’, AND imposing a local, graduated income tax for increased revenues. More progressive than a parcel tax, and we could exclude, say, $50,000/year. Those between 50k-100k, 1%… 100k-200k, 2%… 200k and above, 3%. I could support that more readily than another parcel tax.

        Higher income folks could write-off a portion of the local tax.

        1. Tia Will

          hpierce

          Agreed. And I would point out that I have stated many times that not only would I be amenable to such a solution, it is how I believe that taxation should be handled. Those of us who have most successfully navigated the financial aspects of our society should indeed be willing to pay more. I would happily pay much more in what I have, money, rather than lose what I value more, again.

          However, what I feel is being disregarded here is that I will not be allowed to do this but rather, I will “pay” more, but not in terms of money. My “contribution” will be the degradation of the lifestyle that I prefer due to the unwillingness of others to contribute in the way I prefer. There are many ways of paying…..not all are monetary. This will not be the first time that I have “payed” with the loss of my preferred lifestyle. It will be the third. All three times will be because people who stand to gain financially have decided that the best solution is to “grow our way out” in what they see as the “only solution”. I watched my rural hometown go from a population of
          2000 in a fishing / farming community to a 65,000 tourist and millionaire playground with the complete destruction of a way of life. I was certainly not a “rich doctor at that time” and I didn’t favor it then.
          I watched this happen in Orange County where strawberry fields and orange groves disappeared in favor of strip malls, fast food chains and large shopping malls. I was not a “rich doctor” then either, I was working minimum wage and I didn’t want it then either. I understand the point made by Anon in a previous thread that Target’s and Applebee’s and the like are liked by some and convenient to have. My point is that they are already ubiquitous. The trend in this country is relentlessly towards
          “developing” over land and natural resources in favor of money, convenience, more “choices” of places to eat and shop ( never mind that most of the time the “choice” already exists within 30 minutes of where you are.

          What is being ignored in this endless quest for “expansion” is its cost in terms of our environment, our enjoyment of anything that does not involve the expenditure of money and most important of all, our children’s future choices. It is this “growth will solve everything” mind set that I feel is unsustainable…..not in the next five to ten years, maybe not in the next fifty …..but certainly as a species, we simply cannot believe that “growing out way out ” is a sustainable long term solution… and yet, it is the only solution that I see being put forward and has been since I was a child.

          1. Tia Will

            If the city offered a plan by which this could be arranged, I would totally be on board. I do not have any more idea of how to make this happen than most of you would have on how to do a hysterectomy.

          2. Barack Palin

            I’m sure if you write a check to the City of Davis General Fund they will be more than happy to cash it.

    3. Davis Progressive

      “This does not mean that we could not choose to tax our selves more. It also misses the point that with each of these new additions will come new costs. ”

      as someone noted, taxing ourselves more puts more strain on low income/ fixed income residents. the new additions come with costs, but so too does more taxes.

      1. Tia Will

        I do not believe that taxation has to place more of a burden on the poor.
        We have the ability to change our tax codes or offer subsides to off set the increased cost to the poor. What we do not have is the will to make the necessary changes.

  2. Frankly

    I am reading a book recommended to me by DT Businessman and a couple of other posters. It is Startup Communities by Brad Field. It is basically the story of Boulder Colorado becoming a business startup and entrepreneurial center. It is an interesting read.

    In 1970 the population of Boulder was about the size of Davis today. IBM already had located their data storage division there. There was one of two other large private employers at the time. So in that respect, Davis is not quite a good match. We have several small-mid sized tech companies in our midst, so we are not a complete business backwater by comparison… assuming we can keep them… but Boulder definitely had an advantage out of the starting gate when the information economy started to blossom.

    But reading of the history of the city of Boulder and the country of Boulder, and all the current planning information, there is a glaring difference between them and us. The difference is the inclusion of economic development and the expectation of urban growth. Boulder residents largely had it and have it, Davis might be coming around to it, but has previously lacked it.

    Few residents of Boulder seemed to envision their city as a bedroom and retirement community as is the case with Davis. They had bigger and better things in mind for their city… and they seemed to understand that change was inevitable and they had to participate in designing and executing the change instead of attempting to block it.

    Compared to Davis, the level and quality of participation in Boulder’s change planning and design has been orders of magnitude stronger.

    I see us at an inflection point in leadership. Davis has previously been led by the enemies of change. The defeat of John Munn, a candidate who despite his strong fiscal conservatism was strongly aligned with the no-growth camp, in the last CC election was an indication that the tide has turned.

    What we need is an infusion of greater entrepreneurial leadership. Not just in the business area, but in all area. For example, even our environmental pursuits seem stuck and following. We chase bag bans and green container policies as if we are having an anxiety attack about falling behind in our liberal progressive image… not because we have a grand vision and are pursuing a grand vision. And our open space preservation is amateurish. Other communities use these valuable opportunities to create usable open space… while Davis’s programs seem to be led by people with a myopic goal of just adding acquired acres to their portfolio and resume.

    We need these peripheral business parks for a number of reasons, but one is that we need an infusion of creative class people to help us lead Davis back to the level of prominence that we deserve… and one that leverages the significant brain trust the town is blessed with.

    And like for the people of Boulder, we will all benefit from it.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      “I see us at an inflection point in leadership. Davis has previously been led by the enemies of change. The defeat of John Munn, a candidate who despite his strong fiscal conservatism was strongly aligned with the no-growth camp, in the last CC election was an indication that the tide has turned.”

      My analysis was that Munn fell short largely because he focused exclusively on fiscal and water issues and was unable to address other substantive issues. Given the small margin of his defeat, I don’t really see it as a defeat of the no-growth camp. JMO>

      1. Frankly

        So – Is you point that the no-growthers and enemies of change are still in power?

        I know that I would have voted for Munn had he not been in the no-growth camp.

        So related to this, why did Sheila Allen fail so badly. She came in will all those liberal progressive vibes.

          1. hpierce

            Jim… do you believe in the existence of “the machine”, or are you just acknowledging the ‘perception’ of “the machine”?

            I agree that the Peterson/Crawford debacle (good word for it), and comments/actions related were a factor, and perhaps another “machine” that might exist that would support Robb Davis (as I did, but independently of a possible “machine” — in fact, IN SPITE of that theoretical “machine”)

          2. Jim Frame

            Jim… do you believe in the existence of “the machine”, or are you just acknowledging the ‘perception’ of “the machine”?

            The term “machine” is overblown; I think it’s more than perception but less than Tammany Hall. I don’t believe there’s a top-down big-money kingmaking hierarchy holed up in a smoke-filled room, but I do believe that the close-knit network of political activists centered on the county Democratic Party apparatus often leads to consensus candidate selection and support from within the network. That support, in the form of contributions, endorsements and advice, can be difficult for an unconnected candidate to overcome. Further, I think that those co-dependent relationships make it difficult for an elected official to take action that goes against the explicit or inferred will of the network. Not that examples to the contrary can’t be found, but I do believe it has been, and to some extent still is, a powerful factor in local politics.

            At the City Council level, that power has been in decline since Saylor, Souza and Asmundson left office. The need to actually begin cleaning up the mess they made finally became too dire to ignore, and we saw Brett, Rochelle and Joe ascend to the dais in response. (Sue was always the outsider elected, but was so difficult to work with that she finally alienated herself out of office. More’s the pity, as for years hers was the only voice speaking out against the unconscionable budget actions that her colleagues whitewashed for public consumption.)

            I think the “machine” aspect is most evident in the stepping-stone officials, the ones for whom a Council or DJUSD seat is a resume-building stopover on the way to higher office. In their best moments they work very, very hard to make the city a better place, but in their worst they trade the good of the city for political capital. Sometimes I wonder if they do this consciously or not, but — my cynical perspective aside — the result is the same.

    2. Bill

      Glad you’re reading it Frankly! It’s a start… and I think Davis can move forward toward becoming an innovation hub. But we have a lot of work ahead of us. And you’re right, “What we need is an infusion of greater entrepreneurial leadership. Not just in the business area, but in all areas.”

      From my perspective, it’s not a lack of ability, it’s a lack of compelling vision. If we get the right people on-board, I believe a compelling vision can be developed. The question is, will the nay-sayers work to put up roadblocks or help to remove them?

    3. Tia Will

      “we will all benefit from it.”

      We will all benefit from it if our highest aspiration is to grow economically at the cost of other factors. Those of us who perceive this as a loss will not benefit from it.
      I understand that this is the change that will occur. I accept that and will continue to do as much as possible to mitigate what I see as the negative consequences. But what I see as extremely disingenuous, if not dishonest is too repeatedly sell this as a benefit to all. It is not.

      1. Frankly

        I repeat. We will all benefit from it.

        Look at it this way doctor.

        It was reported that Farah Faucet rejected chemo therapy because she would loose her hair. She died young.

        Steve Jobs also rejected cancer treatment because of his stubborn views and distrust of doctors and was sure he could solve his own health problems with diet. He died young.

        Here is where you are… you have other “doctors” telling you that the city is sick and needs certain treatment. And as a result, the city will be much more healthy and not suffer the death of insolvency.

        Yet you refuse the doctor’s prescription because of your stubborn views, distrust of private business development and because you are worried about losing your hair (metaphorically speaking).

        The difference here is that we all occupy the metaphorical body.

        1. Mark West

          Frankly: “The difference here is that we all occupy the metaphorical body.”

          Exactly, and as a consequence our discussion should be focused on what is best for that ‘metaphorical body’ as a whole, and not on the wants or needs of one individual component part. In fact, I would argue that while our individual wants/needs/preferences will absolutely impact how any one of us will vote in the end, those same wants and needs have absolutely no place in the discussion of what is best for the community. This is not a discussion about what is best for Frankly, or on finding a new job for Matt, or how much tax Barack Palin needs to pay next quarter, it is a discussion on how best to deal with the City’s fiscal crisis and our community’s economic future. We need to address this issue on the basis of our collective needs and values, not those of one, two or five verbose individuals.

          Dr. Will: “But what I see as extremely disingenuous, if not dishonest is too repeatedly sell this as a benefit to all.”

          If we are successful in solving the City’s fiscal crises and securing our economic future, it will be a benefit to us all, even those who do not like it.

        2. Tia Will

          Frankly

          As usual you have decided to tell me why I feel as I do instead of considering what I have actually said. I do not believe that the answer is to attempt to grow our way out of financial difficulties that were caused by misuse of funds. I do not believe perpetual growth is a sustainable strategy. I do not believe that monetary value and economics are the only values worth considering. I know you disagree, but let’s please be honest about what we are disagreeing about.

          1. Frankly

            Where did I write that I am telling you why you feel the way you do?

            My post was to explain the consequences of your position using an analogy that I expected you to understand.

            Can you not connect with that analogy, or are you just refusing to listen?

  3. noname

    This constant drumbeat of “We must approve an ‘innovation center’ or else” reminds me of the meme with someone holding a gun next to a dog: “Do X or the puppy gets it.”
    No innovation center will be getting my vote unless I actually believe the numbers pencil out in such a way as to truly benefit the city financially. I don’t want to hear about some academic study or a paper funded by development interests. Show me the numbers. Be specific. Convince me.
    Unfortunately, I’m already skeptical about developers’ promises. The Cannery project is underwhelming. I was told that a vote for Target would be a huge sales tax boon for the city. Ha. And look at al those long-term vacant buildings surrounding Target. Why were those approved again? Look at the vacant office space on the south side of I-80 near Drew Ave.
    I don’t relish the idea of higher taxes either. But if we’re not going to cut our city employee costs further, than what choice do we have? Reduced city services? Maybe that’s the price we as residents pay for electing past leaders who made promises that we can’t afford.

    1. Anon

      Target generates at least $200,000 a year for the city, is my understanding. It is not overwhelming, but certainly a net positive. However, I do agree with your point that any innovation park has to pencil out to generate significant sales tax revenue. It is also my understanding that there will be a push by the city to create a assessment district for these innovation parks that should generate a steady stream of tax revenue to the city’s general fund. Robb White has conservatively estimated it to be about $12 million a year. Now it is not clear to me how much of that would go to the county, which is another wrinkle that needs to be worked out ahead of time. Nevertheless, there is tremendous possibility here, that should not be ignored, but be embraced (with caution).

      1. noname

        Rob White, until recently, had half his salary paid for by someone who has develop interests in the city. I know he is widely respected on this board, but I take everything he says with a large grain of salt.

        1. Davis Progressive

          i thought that was when he was initially hired and once the city recognized the bad perception, they changed the arrangement. regardless what part of the statement “conservatively estimated it to be about $12 million a year. ” we have seen enough numbers rolled out to know there is validity there and that doesn’t include the construction fees.

        2. Rob White

          I want to clear up the misconception on my salary and compensation – The originally approved way that my salary would be shared with the private sector (approved by Council in March 2013), was changed in July 2013. Not because any one entity was funding me (in fact the model was to have 36 different business entities across all sectors equally funding my position, both local and regional), but because no one wanted the perception to persist. It was a reasonable change. But the change is now over 15 months old… yet it keeps cropping up like the latest dandelion in an otherwise healthy garden. I think it’s time to pull that thing out by the roots and be done with it. 🙂

          1. noname

            I’m sorry, but your past fast financial connection to David Morris (and others with development interests) is not a misconception, nor is it irrelevant. You may wish it to disappear, but Davis residents can decide for themselves what to do with the information.

          2. Davis Progressive

            alright, i’ll ask the question another way: why does this concern you? what are you afraid will occur because of the relationship?

          3. Rob White

            Noname, no need to apologize. You’re incorrect, but you are welcome to your opinion. For those that do care to have the facts, I don’t have, haven’t had, nor was ever planned to have a financial connection with David Morris. He set up an org (techDAVIS) that has a board that then asked for contributions to fund an agreement made with the City back in March 2013. It was an above board agreement, which was published, reviewed by the City attorney, and then City Council approved it in a public forum. The concept was actually mine and was modeled after a successful public-private partnership in San Leandro where a single private company pays half the salary of the CIO.

            I am also sure it is not lost on the Vanguard readership that an anonymous poster is making accusations about interests that are less than obvious. I have been open book about this from the beginning. Perhaps you should do so as well? 🙂

          4. noname

            Don’t like the message, so attack the messenger, eh? I cherish my First Amendment rights, but I also cherish having a job. Sadly, my employer frowns upon employees speaking publicly about hot-button issues.

            You say you had no financial connection with David Morris. According to TechDavis’ website, David Morris was one-half of TechDavis’ board. TechDavis supplied funding for half of your salary. Now I suppose TechDavis could have generated all that money from donations from nuns or martians and perhaps not a penny came from Mr. Morris or anyone else who wants to see more development in Davis. But I doubt it.

            Mr. Morris is now promoting, or at least has promoted, 200 acres just east of the city for a business park.

            No need for an apology, Mr. White. You’re entitled to your opinions, too.

          5. Matt Williams

            noname: You say you had no financial connection with David Morris. According to TechDavis’ website, David Morris was one-half of TechDavis’ board.

            While the error in your statement above is understandable noname, there is much more current information available about TechDavis’ board than the information you shared. If you Google “TechDavis” you will find an October 20, 2013 Davis Enterprise article (see http://www.davisenterprise.com/business/techdavis-names-new-board-members/ ) that states:

            TechDAVIS has expanded its nonprofit board of directors to include four more technology sector leaders from the Davis area.

            The additions are Pam Marrone, founder and CEO of Marrone Bio Innovations, which held a successful $61 million IPO in August; Ken Ouimet, co-founder and CEO of Engage3, a provider of on-demand, comparative retail intelligence and digital marketing services; Zachary Wochok, president and founder of the Wochok Group, LLC, an international management consulting firm; and Grayson Beck, co-founder of Aduro Laser, which develops precision laser cutting tools.

            These new directors join the existing board, which includes Robert Medearis, co-founder of Silicon Valley Bank and local entrepreneur, and David Morris, founder of Capitol Corridor Ventures, tech entrepreneur and former member of the UC Davis medical faculty.

          6. Rob White

            Noname – As was pointed out above, that WAS the agreement. That agreement was terminated after only 3 months. At that time, the City Manager crafted a different agreement directly with techDAVIS that has nothing to do with funding the CIO position, in any way. As the record will reflect, my salary comes from just the City. And that has been the situation since early July 2013. But discussing this 15 months later does lead me to echo the sentiments of DP above.

          7. Tia Will

            Rob

            In your quest to pull “that thing out by the roots and be done with it” I think that you are missing the essential point.

            It is not that anything nefarious was done or that this was a dishonest approach. I believe that it is a reflection of the mind set that you had and that you continue to have, and for which you were hired. That is the mind set that growth is the solution to our problems. This mindset is aligned with the business portion of our community. It is not aligned with the vision of the no to slow growthers. You have been honest, open and straightforward with your approach. However, it is a mindset as you clearly know that is not shared by everyone. I think that you should just own it in the same way that I own the fact that I remain an advocate for growth as slow as possible , for preservation of a vanishing way of life (rural, small town/city) as opposed to aggressively turning ourselves into yet another urban center.

            Would anyone not think it ridiculous if I were pretend that my views are somehow representative of everyone in the city and that everyone would benefit from doing things “my way”. However, there is a major difference between us. I am not being payed by the citizens of the city for my activities. You are. Those of us who see things differently do not have a hired city advocate, say a ” Davis lifestyle preservation officer”. So if you believe that the folks who are not aligned with your view point are ever going to stop pointing out that you are not aligned with their view, I think you are mistaken. I agree with you that the way in which you were hired should be dropped since it is a moot point. You were hired to represent a specific favored set of solutions and you are doing that job well. Trying to both represent, and distance yourself from that perspective will not be a winning solution. My recommendation would be to just do your job which you are doing very well, and do not worry about those of us who point out that we have differing points of view.

          8. DT Businessman

            “This mindset is aligned with the business portion of our community.” -medwoman

            What medwoman needs to “own” is her prejudice in regard to the business community. What’s “ridiculous” is her “mind set” that the Davis community is monolithic in respect to growth*. There are Davis business owners who are no growth, slow growth, smart growth and pro growth on steroids. The wide spectrum of Davis business owner opinion on this subject can be seen daily on the VG. Any characterization to the contrary indicates gross ignorance and prejudice.

            *That the term “growth” continues to be used so recklessly continues to amaze me. Are the posters using the term in regards to housing growth, commercial RE growth, expansion of the city limits, increasing productivity, increased economic activity, greater efficiencies, or what? These are all widely differing things.

            -Michael Bisch

    2. Frankly

      ““We must approve an ‘innovation center’ or else” reminds me of the meme with someone holding a gun next to a dog: “Do X or the puppy gets it.”

      The “puppy” in this case are the:

      – City services
      – City infrastructure
      – City employees

      And yes, if we don’t grow our local economy to increase tax revenue, the puppy will get it.

      Maybe you are okay with that, but my guess is that you are either ignorant of the true city financial situation, or you are in denial. Neither is admirable.

      And if you don’t like innovation parks or other economic development, then you should come to the table with your alternatives. Because critics are a dime a dozen and more problematic than helpful at this point. By part of the solution, not just a continued part of the problem.

      1. noname

        A dime a dozen, eh? Well then you certainly have your work cut out for you, particularly with your paint-everything-in-black-and-white approach and general condescension.

        I’ll vote for a business park, but not blindly. I’m well aware of the city’s “true financial situation.” I’m also aware that approving a dozen business parks tomorrow would not eliminate the likely need for more cuts and more taxes in the short term..

        But you keep up the Do-What-I-Say-or-You’re-Stupid campaign. I’m sure it will serve you well at the Measure R vote.

        1. Davis Progressive

          i agree with you on frankly, i think he’s his own worst enemy. that said, i agree with his overall point about the costs and why we need to examine innovation parks.

          1. Frankly

            LOL.

            This reminds me of so many children.

            “If you hurt my feelings, I will oppose the thing just because of you!”

            Do you actually think deeply about this point that Frankly “is his own worst enemy”. What the hell does that mean anyway. Either I am right or I am wrong. Make your case if you think I am wrong. I actually listen.

            Listen… don’t listen. Then you will be responsible for the outcome. If you need someone to hold your hand and make you feel good about yourself to encourage you to do the right things… then look somewhere else. This is not my style and never will be my style.

        2. DavisBurns

          I am with you. When the innovation park cheerleaders on this blog start showing me numbers, I will try to be convinced. Right now INNOVATION PARKS are the rage across the country. I suspect the folks who WILL make money on the “parks” have a real nice budget for promoting them. They are creating a demand for something we didn’t know we needed until they came along. Follow the money.

          1. Davis Progressive

            i think you are factually incorrect on several points.

            first, the business park/ innovation park discussion goes back a long ways, but it got serious with the 2009 and 2010 workshops.

            second, what is unique about this discussion in davis is that while there are people who stand to make money off this, they weren’t the ones driving the discussion in 2009 and 2010

            third, instead, the push came from the city, the community and the council and it was really not until the rfei, that we finally really saw developers enter the discussion.

          2. Matt Williams

            Right now INNOVATION PARKS are the rage across the country.

            Interesting comment DB, where are you seeing that rage blooming? Very few communities have an innovation engine like a research university like UCD or an applied research facility like the Lawrence Livermore Labs. It seems like the critical mass of communities that are able to harness an innovation stream is limited. Davis is one of the few that are in that position.

        3. Frankly

          “Serve me well”?

          Believe it our not, it is those trying to get this done that are attempting to serve all of us well despite our own selves.

          I didn’t write that you are stupid. I wrote that you appear to be ignorant about some things. Otherwise you would not have written what you wrote.

          And I stand by the point that critics are a dime a dozen. You still have not written what you would do to solve our SEVERE budget deficits. How about putting your opinion on the line here… or do you just feel more satisfied cutting down what others are trying to do to help?

          1. noname

            ” …. or do you just feel more satisfied cutting down what others are trying to do to help?”

            HA! Pot meet kettle.

            As I’ve said before, I would vote for a business park, if I believe it pencils out. In either case, it’s clear we’re going to need both higher taxes and cuts. Unless you plan to make a large voluntary contribution to the general fund, I don’t see any other way in the short term to pay for the bills that have been sent to us by poor decisions of the past.

          2. Frankly

            I think you are right. We already did get a sales tax increase. And I expect we will end up with a $50 or maybe $75 parcel tax. I doubt anything higher will be approved. I think even this will have the potential to fail a 2/3 vote. But it would be just enough to do the minimum road maintenance… assuming it isn’t pilfered again to pay city employee pay and benefit increases. It will not cover pools and other infrastructure… and the roads will still fall behind. And over time the budget deficit will continue to take us toward fiscal insolvency.

            From mine and others’ calculation the city would need a $600-800 per year parcel tax increase to take care of its obligations and satiate the NIMBY, no-growth, change–averse crowd. It will not happen. We will be far short. So we need to grow our local economy to increase business tax receipts. And we either can focus on retail, or innovation business, or both.

  4. Anon

    David Greenwald: “At the same time, we face very real dangers and we cannot afford to let the search for perfection be the death of the community as we know it.”

    Well said!

      1. Anon

        No, I don’t think David necessarily sounds “pro-development”, but is being pragmatic about the need for the city to generate tax revenue. There doesn’t seem any other way to do it than economic development, be it an innovation park or big box retail, other than to keep raising taxes and/or cutting programs – which is not sustainable in the long run. An innovation park stands to make the city a whole lot more money than big box retail. I would say those who are willing to embrace an innovation park with some caution but with an open mind are using common sense, rather than sticking to ideologies. Using common sense is much healthier all the way around. No one should really be pro-growth or anti-growth, but should be for “smart” growth. This is going to be very tricky, however, because obviously the developer wants to make lots of money (nothing wrong with that unless it is at the expense of the citizens), but the citizens will have to bear the impact of any downsides to the development. Nevertheless the city stands to gain a great deal of money to its general fund assuming the development agreement is done in a way that hugely benefits the city. Then, and only then will citizens be willing to bear with a little annoyance and inconvenience to gain a whole lot of fiscal stability.

    1. Tia Will

      Anon and David

      “the death of the community as we know it” seems to me to be an inevitability. Continued growth to bail our self out of past financial mistakes is as much
      a “death of the community as we know it” as is decline in city services. If you do not believe this to be true, please look at Orange County. Now I am sure that those who benefitted and continue to benefit financially from the conversion from an agricultural community to an urban sprawl, high density population area with readily available “convenient” shopping, malls and fast food chains “enjoy” the convenience of what they have. I also think it is important to recognize that this has been brought about at the expense of a way of life that was preferable to others. Those “others” may be dehumanized by calling them “NIMBY” or other derogatory terms, but I can assure you, they are people with personal preferences just like everyone else, no more or less selfish than anyone else who advocates for their own preference.

      1. hpierce

        Guess it’s a good thing that the folks who lived in and loved Davis in the late 60’s didn’t feel the same way and as ardently as you do, Tia… else neither you or I could have this conversation.

        Not sure I want a community where someone has to die or move elsewhere in order to free up a spot for a “newbie”.

  5. Jim Frame

    Re: John Munn, I don’t see his defeat as indication of a change in voter sentiment, but rather the result of his unique credentials as a Republican anti-tax curmudgeon who was suing the city over the water project.

    With regard to the innovation parks, I think the developers have to convince the electorate that their projects will attract the kind of clean businesses that will mesh well with UCD and the “new economy” *and* will generate above-average tax revenue to the city. It won’t be easy, but if they’re serious, I believe it can be done.

          1. Frankly

            Do you know anyone stacked up in opposition, or that “report” to be skeptical (trying to mask their opposition) to be working on helping to come up with solutions to our fiscal problems?

          2. Tia Will

            Frankly

            “Do you know anyone stacked up in opposition, or that “report” to be skeptical (trying to mask their opposition) to be working on helping to come up with solutions to our fiscal problems?”

            That depends entirely on what you consider “working to help”. If you consider attending planning meetings and community outreach sessions to express concerns at the beginning rather than waiting and trying to sabotage at the end…..you can count me as one. If you consider making one’s point of view and ideas on how to mitigate impacts to city council both at public comment and in letters to the CC ‘working to help”….you can count me.

            If you only consider buying into your vision of growth at all costs “trying to help”, then I believe that you are correct. You will not find any slow growthers in that group.

    1. Matt Williams

      Re: John Munn, I don’t see his defeat as indication of a change in voter sentiment, but rather the result of his unique credentials as a Republican anti-tax curmudgeon who was suing the city over the water project.

      I believe if John Munn had stated at the Chamber PAC Forum (the first one of the election season) that he was recusing himself from the water lawsuit, the negative reaction to that appearance of a conflict of interest would have been effectively mitigated, and he might have come in second to Robb Davis.

      Interestingly enough, Tom Adams is in a similar (but much more difficult to resolve) situation in the School Board election. There is a perception/belief on many people’s part that Tom’s 9 am to 5 pm employment by the California Department of Education is in conflict with his desired role as an elected member of the DJUSD School Board.

      1. Jim Frame

        Having worked with Tom for several years on the Cesar Chavez Site Council, I have no such qualms about his dedication to the Davis school system. And I believe his qualifications are second to none in this campaign.

        1. Matt Williams

          That is good to hear Jim; however, based on the conversations that I have overheard in various venues around town, there are people who do not have the benefit of your experience, and what they are expressing is a gut feel that the word “Beware” is in order.

          I don’t feel that way myself. I see Tom as a very viable candidate who is definitely one of the top contenders for one of my three votes.

  6. DavisBurns

    So if I pay more taxes and the cost of housing goes up, my investment in my house brings me a bigger profit when I sell it. What’s the downside? Do the people in exclusive gated communities worry when the value of their property goes up? Tell me the downside of no growth? Our children can’t afford to live here? Most kids leave home and go where the jobs are. Can kids who grew up in San Francisco afford to buy a house there?We have to worry UCD graduates can’t afford to stay in the community? Really? Let’s say they move to San Jose to work. Houses are more expensive there and in Sunnyvale and Palo Alto. Speaking of Palo Alto, houses cost more there too. They have research parks, excuse me, innovation parks. Where do those employees buy houses?

    If we expand our boarders and meet Woodland halfway, don’t we increase the demands on our infrastructure resulting in expanding the number of city employees and isn’t that one of our current pressing problems–paying salaries and benefits. When we grow, we increase the wear on our roads and we have to build more roads. I want to know that any new development will not be an ultimate drain on our resources. I go back to the Cannery. For ten years it pays the city more than it costs the city. In 2024, it will cost the city more to provide services than the development pays the city. That sort of decision seems like a recipe for financial insolvency in the long run.

    Here is information from the League of California Cities. It is ten years old but the problems haven’t really changed.

    Most non-retail development will not pay for itself, requiring subsidies from retail development. Economic development is impaired because housing & manufacturing don’t pay for themselves.
    ■ Property tax is most appropriate for local property-related services, but cities are unable to access sufficient amount and the frozen allocations (AB 8) no longer reflect service delivery responsibilities.
    ■ The decline of city property tax revenue has left cities seeking other revenues.
    • Promotes aggressive sales tax consciousness
    • Housing, industrial uses often cost more in public services than they generate in tax revenues
    • In non-full service cities, much property tax revenue goes to special districts, less to the city, creating even greater dependence on other revenues, especially sales tax to fund
    police, parks, planning etc League of California Cities

    1. Anon

      The downside to no-growth policies is that eventually it is unsustainable. Cities that do not grow become retirement communities where schools have to be shut down for lack of students. We have already seen this play out in Davis to some extent with the closure of Valley Oak. In order to pay for all those city services, either the city has to grow through economic development or taxes have to be raised and/or services have to be cut. But at some point taxes will end up so high even the wealthy will have a problem sustaining the cost.

      You claim that most non-retail development will not pay for itself. How do you know this? If the city were to form an assessment district, and force all businesses within an innovation park to pay an assessment per square foot, that could represent conservatively a $12 million a year stream of tax revenue for a 200 acre innovation park that would benefit both the city and the county. What is your solution to the budget deficit situation in our city, if there is to be no new development?

      1. DavisBurns

        That information was from the League of California Cities, as I said in the post. Davis isn’t alone with the financial problems we have. The whole report is an interesting read. It IS 10 years old but I think the problems remain the same. What I require to seriously consider a new development is some information on their track record. Not an unreasonable requirement. http://www.californiacityfinance.com/FinancingCities_PUB.pdf

        We have a systemic problem with financing our cities. I am not convinced this solves the problem.

      2. Jim Frame

        Cities that do not grow become retirement communities where schools have to be shut down for lack of students. We have already seen this play out in Davis to some extent with the closure of Valley Oak.

        I don’t believe there’s an inherent nexus between growth and sustainability. Under the right conditions, a small city can attain a stable mix of different age groups that allows it to maintain a relatively fixed population and still fund schools, parks and other amenities. (The Valley Oak closure was the result of building Korematsu when it wasn’t needed, rather than a “grow or die” scenario.) Homes become available when people die, children grow up and leave, some of them stay and raise families of their own, career changes take families into and out of the community.

        “The right conditions” may be hard to attain in Yolo County, since there are a lot of Bay Area retirees who want to get out of the metropolis and are able to trade their Bay Area home for a new Davis home plus a bunch of cash. And UCD growth certainly produces an upward drag on Davis residential demand.

        But the notion that we have to grow rapidly in order to remain viable as a city doesn’t hold water, in my view.

        1. Anon

          Depends on what you mean. I would not ever promote “fast growth”. What I do promote is “smart growth”. “Smart growth”: enhances the community, is at least a net fiscal neutral to the city (and preferably a net fiscal positive), and makes the inconveniences and net negative worth it.

  7. Frankly

    Read up folks. “noname” and “DavisBurns” are the face of the opposition. You can keep trying to talk sense them, or realize that the only way to save the city is to get it done over their constant and unrelenting noise of opposition.

    If you think there is reasonable middle ground, I am afraid to tell you that you would be wasting your time looking for it.

    Their position is to block any and all growth and demand that others figure out how to solve our fiscal problems.

    Nothing is going to change their mind.

      1. Frankly

        I can read what you write noname. You came out casting suspicions that Rob White is a hired gun for corporate interests and in that and other things you have written you have identified yourself as a committed soldier to defeating innovation parks. Might you be convinced otherwise? I would be willing to bet that you will not be convinced otherwise no matter what facts are provided.

        And another indication is how quickly you grow prickly and defensive at my challenges to your points that are no more pointed and sharp than are your challenges and points in opposition.

    1. Don Shor

      They’ve been rather specific. This isn’t “the opposition.” You can talk sense to them by showing them the numbers, or, as they and Tia Will have said:
      Noname:

      I would vote for a business park, if I believe it pencils out….Show me the numbers. Be specific. Convince me.
Unfortunately, I’m already skeptical about developers’ promises.

      DavisBurns:

      When the innovation park cheerleaders on this blog start showing me numbers, I will try to be convinced.

      You, Frankly, are the one who tends not to see “reasonable middle ground.” I see no reason for you to polarize the discussion with your either/or rhetoric.

      1. Frankly

        “Show me the numbers”?

        We have been through this over and over and over again. Numbers have been provided. They are all going to be speculative because you don’t know what companies will eventually locate here. You don’t know how long it will take to fully populate the business parks.

        Come on Don, you know what this is. Anyone that says “show me the numbers to convince me” is one – ignoring what has already been published, and two – demanding commitments to details nobody can produce.

        The Vanguard needs to have an archive of some of this data so we don’t have to keep rehashing it. But my guess is that noname and DavisBurns would just say they don’t believe it and want proof.

        1. Tia Will

          Frankly

          This post is the classic “just trust me argument”.
          Would you accept that from a surgeon ? You shouldn’t. While it is true that your surgeon cannot guarantee you a perfect outcome, it is also true that you should never, never allow them to operate on you without full disclosure of the risks as well as the benefits of any planned surgery. This is what you are expecting the citizens to accept when you state any “numbers are speculative” so we should just “do it”. I would seem them more in terms of probability than speculation. No one is asking for perfection in prediction. We are asking for….and in my opinion, not yet getting is “full disclosure”.

          1. Frankly

            It is not “just trust me”, it is “you are not listening so why should I keep repeating myself.”

            Here is the thing. I don’t need to keep trying to convince people that clearly indicate to me that they are not really interested in being convinced.

            I know what I know about change management. And one thing I know is how to read the positions of people so that I optimize my use of time for “selling” the idea.

            With every big change there will be 1/3 that get it, 1/3 that are against it, and 1/3 that are open to influence.

            I sell to the 1/3 that get it and the 1/3 that can be influenced. I don’t waste my time engaging with the 1/3 against it because they will vote against it no matter what. I debate them for the benefit of the 1/3 that still have and open mind.

            When someone writes that they will only vote for an innovation park when they have proof that it will bring in enough money or net positive benefits, depending on what else they write, it can be a very strong sign that they are in that 1/3 opposed.

            You yourself have read thousands of words explaining how revenue would derive and estimates for how much, yet you still write primarily in opposition. Just like the fluoride issue, you are not going to move from your position.

          2. Tia Will

            “one thing I know is how to read the positions of people ”

            Forgive me if I believe that perhaps your ability to “read the positions of people” may be related to your having learned how to read in our
            “crappy” public schools. My evidence is how often you have been wrong in your assumptions about my motivations and activities.

  8. DavisBurns

    “Their position is to block any and all growth and demand that others figure out how to solve our fiscal problems.

    Nothing is going to change their mind.”

    Frankly, I doubt anything will change YOUR mind. You’re doing a little projection there. And please, refrain from telling ME what my position is. That’s my job. You state you position. I state mine. I don’t tell you what you think or believe and you return the courtesy.

  9. Bill

    And this is exactly why so few people actually participate in the discussions. It is constantly side 1 attacking side 2. Where’s the discussion forum where people can put their minds together to find middle ground and mutually-beneficial outcomes? That’s the much harder task and one I wish the DV forum would start working towards.

    1. Frankly

      Bill – I appreciate your points and perspective. Do we ever move on acknowledging data points and facts, or do we get stuck in an endless loop of the same arguments before or against?

      Maybe I need to just check out from the discussion the let the broken record keep skipping.

      I see Davis on a precipice of decisions that will either lead to continued greatness, or decline. I am not very tolerant of people on the side of decline. If they have questions or other ideas I am all ears. But just taking critic shots at those working on solutions is a tactic I don’t like.

      1. Don Shor

        Perhaps because I’m in retail, I don’t find it surprising or difficult that one has to repeat data points over and over in order to sell something. You have new people moving in and out of the discussion, some answers beget more questions. Skepticism is healthy and working through the talking points early in the process is useful.
        So, people who are still being persuaded will want to know
        roughly how much tax revenue each business park is likely to generate.
        — they might be pleasantly surprised to learn about the assessment district proposals for these sites.
        — They may reasonably ask how quickly sites might build out, how a Davis business park would compare in that regard to other cities. They might have reasonable questions about the market here — given, for example, that there are hundreds of thousands of square feet of vacant office space and cheaper land in nearby communities. Is Davis likely to fill with tenants fast? My instinct is yes, but a commercial broker could give a better answer.
        — They may wonder how the city’s expense situation got so bad, and what is being done to prevent wasteful spending from simply draining any new revenues.
        It really isn’t that onerous to answer the questions people have. And it’s going to have to be done, pleasantly and in a positive manner, over and over and over again if you want a Measure R vote to pass. I know you sell stuff for a living, so I’m surprised you’re so prickly about this.

        1. Bill

          Personally, I’d like a simple, one-sheet piece FAQ. I think it would help me understand the implications of a Tech Park if it were concise. For example:

          Projected Tax Revenue: ______
          Year till full implementation (if approved): ______
          Comparison with similar cities: _____ | _____ | ______

          There are a lot of numbers being throw around in these discussions and it does get confusing at times.

          Does such a FAQ exist? If so, can someone post a link please.

          1. Frankly

            Bill – There was some work done here: https://www.davisvanguard.org/another-giant-council-mistake/

            This was for Mace 391.

            Mace 391, like any other future business, research or innovation park, would have resulted in a similar set of direct and secondary economic benefits. Based on these study comparisons, the 10 year estimate of these direct and indirect monetary benefits to the city is $20 million.

            This 10-year direct and indirect tax revenue benefit valuation compares with a recent city estimate of $12 million for developing the smaller adjacent developer-owned Mace 200 parcel.

            The estimate assumption is that it would take 10 years to fully populate a park, and the development fee revenue would peak and decline up until full build out, but property tax and other secondary tax revenue would build up until full build out and then become a semi-reliable annual income stream. The annual income stream would be 40-50% of the 10-year revenue amount.

            So each 200 acre parcel that is developed into an innovation park should return $12 million over 10 years, and thereon $5-$6 million per year.

            So, if we started today, in 2024 the city would have brought in $36 million more in tax revenue, and would enjoy a $15 – $24 million per year annual revenue increase.

            These numbers are net positive economic impacts. The actual gross revenue to the city would be more (don’t know how much more), but obviously the city has initial and ongoing costs associated with peripheral development. However, those ongoing costs for a business park are much less than they would be for retail (which tends to bring in greater revenue) and residential (which tends to be a net negative drain on a city after 10-15 years).

            Of course you might want to cry over the Mace 391 “spilled milk”. Since we owned that land we could have developed and sold the lots as ready to build and netted another $50 million in city revenue.

          2. Don Shor

            So each 200 acre parcel that is developed into an innovation park should return $12 million over 10 years, and thereon $5-$6 million per year.

            It’s worth noting that there is at least one moderately large tenant evidently ready to move in, Marrone has also expressed interest if I recall, and I think that others who spoke at the council meeting in 2013 indicated expansion plans. So it’s not being unreasonably optimistic to expect a faster buildout of at least one of the business parks.

      2. Tia Will

        Frankly

        “But just taking critic shots at those working on solutions is a tactic I don’t like.”

        I have not seen you in attendance at any of the outreach forums….. so I am wondering how you know that those with differing points of view from you are “just taking critical shots”.

        1. Frankly

          I don’t know who is attending the meetings. That is correct. But attending the meetings is not “working on solutions” if the result is continued opposition and no alternative proposals.

          I have been unavailable for every one of the scheduled events. My professional and personal life is pretty busy and has been overly so the last six months. I can blog in between meetings and tasks when I am at the office and traveling for business.

          However, I am planning to attend the Oct 16 event (currently clear on my calendar).

          I have also been involved with and have applied for greater participation to help on the city budget and finance.

          So, maybe in the future I will have a better idea of who is actually working to help solve problems and who is just loading up on any and all ammunition they can find to fight change.

          1. Jim Frame

            On a more positive note, the 1/3 open to influence is exactly the group that needs to be convinced of the benefits of approving an innovation park. That’s not going to happen in response to a “lead, follow or get out of the way” admonition, nor to a couple of glossy rainbows-and-unicorns mailers. Many of those folks are going to want to see independent credible numbers quantifying the purported benefits so they can have confidence in their decision. The Measure R bar is high, and a tepid outreach campaign isn’t going to clear it.

          2. Frankly

            There are two fact patterns here.

            One is the path toward developing business parks.

            The other is the path toward city fiscal insolvency.

            Of course they both exist and are both connected… in fact, the second is the primary impetus for the first. But the problem is those prone to dismissal of the need or consideration of the second.

            It is never a good idea to go problem solving before there is agreement to what the actual problem is. The arguments I read from some challenging the innovation park movement are absolutely indicative of denial, dismissal, rejection or just stubborn refusal to accept… the severity of our financial situation. It is an inconvenient truth for them.

            Now – do you think there are people that really do not understand this? Can they be made to understand?

            From my perspective we should be at the 80-20 rule… where 80% have enough information and the remaining 20% will probably never get it. But within that 80% that should have enough information (because they are intelligent and curious people and there has been a lot reported about our budget situation) 1/3 of them are still making points that fail to address the fiscal problems.

            The closest they come is to suggest completely unreasonable solutions like repealing prop-13 and implementing some MORE progressive tax system that soaks the rich and supplements the poor.

            I’m sorry but I don’t have patience for this type of thing. It is an exercise in futility to debate details with people only willing to process and accept a portion of the details. They identify themselves as simple enemies of change when they dismiss inconvenient truths that are the definition of the problem and the basis for the change. They identify themselves as people more driven to win their personal victory than to do the right things for the community.

            Just so you understand my position, if we could lock Davis into its current footprint in population and geographic size and cover our expense nut, I would support it. But the pragmatic businessman in me cannot suffer fools that fail to participate in solutions only participate in criticism of others working toward solutions. Those people are nothing but impediments. And if there are enough of them, they will defeat a business park measure no matter what work is done to try to convince them otherwise.

            And I am 100% in demand of smartly-developed business parks and a city that retains (actually improves) its charm, amenities and attractiveness.

            But if these enemies of change do defeat business park developments, I will be sure to perpetually remind everyone that they are responsible for the ongoing negative fiscal consequences.

          3. Don Shor

            (because they are intelligent and curious people and there has been a lot reported about our budget situation)

            Where? Certainly on the Vanguard, but I suggest a google search for “Davis Enterprise city budget.” See what you get.

          4. Frankly

            Ok – So based on this we should shift from talking about innovation parks, and go back to talking about the fiscal problems. Maybe this is where I am wrong… I would expect most people to know about it. The country, the state and cities up and down the state… all with serious budget problems. It has been reported and reported and reported. Davis has also been reported as having serious budget problems.

            But your point is that we have not provided the voting population enough information on the budget problems. Is that correct?

          5. Don Shor

            Yes, I think that Davis residents are probably under-informed about the budget situation. Did you see the number of Davis Enterprise articles on the topic in 2014? Anecdotally, I would say people have a vague sense about it but are not aware of the particulars.

            It has been reported and reported and reported.

            I think this statement is not accurate.

          6. DavisBurns

            “they dismiss inconvenient truths that are the definition of the problem and the basis for the change. They identify themselves as people more driven to win their personal victory than to do the right things for the community.”

            But Frankly, isn’t this just what the climate change deniers do? Dismiss the inconvenient truths that are the basis for change?

          7. Frankly

            DavisBurns – RE: climate change and inconvenient truth.

            Yes, I think some ignore the inconvenient truths, but on both sides of the global warming debate.

            The problem here is that you are comparing an extremely complex and highly variable scientific theory that is positioned as fact, to the other which is simple and definitive accounting and math… where there is no wiggle room to explain it away.

          8. Frankly

            Yes, I think that Davis residents are probably under-informed about the budget situation.

            I reached out to some other people who’s opinion I also value, and I now agree with this.

            So I will work with some folks to address that and try to educate the masses.

            This has led me to adopt a new principle: “Just because I live in the most educated little city in America, and my education level is less than what many other of the smarter people achieved, don’t attribute my understanding to their understanding.”

      3. DavisBurns

        “Bill – I appreciate your points and perspective. Do we ever move on acknowledging data points and facts, or do we get stuck in an endless loop of the same arguments before or against”

        Frankly, YOU can’t move on if anyone disagrees with your “facts” because you seem to think if we do not agree with you it is because we are wrong while it is possible it is you that is wrong. Then you tell people what they believe which is disrespectful. It IS possible to have an intelligent discussion that includes listening to each other, disagreeing with each other but remaining respectful. We can share information, interpret facts many different ways, be convinced on some points, find some common ground and learn from each other. It is useful to LISTEN to other opinions and the presentation of facts with an open mind. I feel like your mind is closed and yet that is what you accuse others of. Notice I said, I feel? Maybe your mind isn’t closed but when you metaphorically point your finger and make accusations, that is the behavior of someone with a closed mind. I am interested in what happens in my community. I can provisionally support an innovation park but being cautious doesn’t make me wrong. I have serious doubts that additional growth will benefit the community so no, I do not want more growth, BUT we don’t always get what we want. Just because I do not support growth, I am not the enemy. That is the Fox News dichotomy. It divides and it destroys common ground. If you want four business developments and I want none and we get one or two haven’t we both gotten some of what we want?

        My mind isn’t closed because an innovation park might be the best of several bad options. Let’s make an effort to respect each other’s opinions because three different facts can mean very different things to different people.

        1. The weather forecast is for rain tonight starting around 11.
        2. The high school is playing football tonight.
        3. Tonight there is a new moon.

        Thank god, rain at last!
        This is homecoming! Thank god it isn’t raining yet! Those new lights are great for night games!
        This is my best chance to see the stars this month AND the sky is clear. By the time they turn off the stadium lights, my window of opportunity will be gone.

    2. Tia Will

      Bill

      Some of us are working to try to do just that. The upcoming Vanguard sponsored event at Mori Seiki is planned as a forum to present both sides of the current discussion of “innovation parks”. Please come. We are truly hoping that this will prove to be an open, honest, civil discussion format.

        1. Frankly

          I have October 16 beginning at 6:30 PM at the Mori Seiki building. Good question about per-registering. I assume not, but we should get that confirmed. I don’t think there is a fee.

      1. Bill

        Thank you Tia. I appreciate that invite. Unfortunately, I can’t make the meeting on the 16th. If there are any daytime meetings, I’d be interested in that.

        In terms of outreach, I’d like to suggest that the group undertaking outreach explore some other outreach approaches. In-person, evening meetings don’t work for a lot of people, especially young families. Maybe an online presentation coupled with a google+ hangout or group skype or gotomeeting. There are a lot of 21st century tools out there that could assist with outreach efforts.

  10. Anon

    It is my understanding that if a 200 acre innovation park is built, an assessment district would be formed, and an assessment charged to each business per square foot, that has a conservative potential of generating $12 million stream of income per year to the city. Now obviously when the innovation park is first built, it is not “fully built out”, so would generate less income than in later years. It takes approximately 10 years for the innovation park to be built (not sure if that means developed to accept businesses or fully built out). Typically innovation parks need less in the way of police and fire services. Less in police services because they supply their own security. Less fire services because their operations do not require it. Innovation parks also generate significant construction fees and sales tax on large items. One wrinkle that would have to be worked out is how much of the tax revenue generated would be shared with the county.

    1. Don Shor

      Anon: excellent summary.

      It is my understanding that if a 200 acre innovation park is built, an assessment district would be formed, and an assessment charged to each business per square foot, that has a conservative potential of generating $12 million stream of income per year to the city.

      So it is easy to do the math and see what revenues 2 or 3 such parks could bring in. I assume this is not being considered for Nishi because of the very different nature of that development? So it would be useful to have some range of likely revenues arising from that project as well.

      Now obviously when the innovation park is first built, it is not “fully built out”, so would generate less income than in later years. It takes approximately 10 years for the innovation park to be built (not sure if that means developed to accept businesses or fully built out).

      I am curious if an objective local commercial broker could give an estimate of this time frame. Perhaps it would build out faster in Davis, due to pent-up demand.

      Typically innovation parks need less in the way of police and fire services. Less in police services because they supply their own security. Less fire services because their operations do not require it.

      Less compared to what? Less compared to various other developed uses, yes. Certainly not less compared to unannexed raw farmland. So the other side of this question is what are the actual projected increased costs from annexing and building a peripheral business park.

      Innovation parks also generate significant construction fees and sales tax on large items.

      The sales tax is much harder to estimate, I’m sure, because we simply don’t know what businesses would locate there.

      One wrinkle that would have to be worked out is how much of the tax revenue generated would be shared with the county.

      Yes. And that is quite a wrinkle. Perhaps one of our county supervisors could share his thoughts on the subject.

      1. Frankly

        I have heard that the pass-through agreement currently nets the county about $3MM per year.

        The interesting point about this is that the county might build a business park next to our periphery – scrapping the agreement because they will net more than $3MM per year from it.

        I keep expecting Solano Country to step up with an offer to build a CUD-connected business park in South Davis. If I were living in Solano County, I would be working on that to exploit the dawdling of Davis.

        1. Don Shor

          I doubt that the two Davis supervisors would vote to end their political careers by doing that. I doubt that the supervisors from other districts would want to set that precedent. So I think the likelihood of the county building anything directly adjacent to the city limits over the objections of the city is vanishingly remote.

          Solano County won’t be building anything, because the land is being locked into conservancy agreements in the most likely locations. That is a top priority of Davis, Dixon, and those land trust organizations.

          1. Matt Williams

            Solano County won’t be building anything, because the land is being locked into conservancy agreements in the most likely locations. That is a top priority of Davis, Dixon, and those land trust organizations.

            I agree with Don 100% regarding Solano County. Further, in addition to the conservancy agreements that may be in place, Solano County has a version of our Measure J/R that covers the whole County. So any urbanization of agricultural land to the south of Davis would have to go to a County-wide vote. NOTE: land owned by UC Davis is probably exempt from that requirement.

        2. Don Shor

          I have heard that the pass-through agreement currently nets the county about $3MM per year.

          Total? So the city needs to craft a deal for the peripheral development(s) that recoups for the county their lost property taxes from annexation, and maybe at the same time the terms of the pass-through agreement could be reconsidered.
          I assume that the RDA legislation that is on the governor’s desk may be a factor in all of this.

          1. DavisBurns

            Don, it would be helpful if the vanguard would run a piece about the process, from the city’s perspective, of how a business park is developed. Assume there is approval to develop one piece of land. What happens next? Is assessment district is formed? What are the different ways in which the city collects money? What expenses does the city incur?

            The cannery is on going and while it’s residential, it’s a development. What expenses does the city pay? Do we have to increase fire and police services, upgrade sewers, maintain roads, clean sewers, pay for electricity for street lights and other maintenance costs? So a look at the costs and expenses for a current project would be a place to start.

            Then maybe we could look at a scenario where Shilling or Mori Seko expands. We have numbers on the revenue and surely we can make some estimates on what they cost us in services. If we have ballpark numbers for an existing business, then we could look at that same business if it expanded and also factor in the space it leaves empty.

            An exercise like this would help people make a judgement about how an expansion of an existing business would improve city finances. As Tia Will says there will be other non monetary impacts but if we have some tangible numbers we can have a less speculative discussion. And more productive.

  11. Anon

    To Don:
    1. Nishi will be treated differently, since it is a mix of business and housing. Thus there will be no assessment district in so far as I am aware.
    2. Talked to someone in the city today, who indicated the 10 year time frame for an innovation park is for a fully built and filled one.
    3. Innovation parks do not need the same level of police and fire service as residential development. I would agree that it would be necessary to determine what the costs to the city any innovation park will be.
    4. It is my understanding that there is a huge potential for sales tax revenue for larger items. Unfortunately I do not remember the specific details as to why this might be a large revenue generator. Someone who is in the business world might be able to explain it better.
    5. The tax revenue sharing issue is interesting. Apparently the county cannot collect any more than what it provides in services – in other words it cannot make a profit.

    1. Mark West

      ” It is my understanding that there is a huge potential for sales tax revenue for larger items.”

      There certainly is a huge potential for sales tax revenues from the sale of large equipment, but an even larger potential for property tax on unsecured property used in manufacturing and research. Sales tax is a one-time tax at the point of purchase. Property tax is paid annually for all the equipment owned by a company and all of the property improvements made by a business. If you purchase a $1 Million piece of equipment to use in your operations, you pay sales tax at the time of purchase (which may or may not provide money to the City), and pay property tax for every year that piece of equipment is owned by your company (which does provide income to the City).

      1. DavisBurns

        When we owned a business with three wind tunnels here in Davis, we paid the county taxes based on the value of our equipment. The county keeps a portion and a portion goes to the city. We also paid taxes on the improvements on the space we leased and we paid the owner to make the improvements. We paid the city taxes on our GROSS income.

        I’m not sure these business will be selling tangible products but then I am a bit unclear as to what products or services they will be providing…new strains of drought resistant wheat? Patents? I did understand we were not looking for manufacturing. Would they be consulting, selling their expertise? I have read they will take research funded partial by private companies using University facilities and personnel and commercialize it ( the research ) with some sort of additional private funding.

  12. DavisBurns

    David, see the posts above that appears to be 8 to 10 spaces wide? That needs to be fixed–really hard to read. Yes I could post it in the other place but the example is here. Also light gray text is back in the reply box.

  13. DavisBurns

    Somewhere up there someone wanted to know why I thought innovation parks were the hot new development twist in the country.

    MSU – We’re building a world class research park—the place where potential becomes reality. Montana State University Innovation Campus is the ‘best place’ for intellectual capital, specialized facilities, bold entrepreneurs, and R&D companies to come together to innovate, create, and change the world.

    Norte Dame
    Whether you have an emerging idea or a well-developed business, Innovation Park at Notre Dame provides a dynamic environment for your venture to accelerate. We’re here to share our business expertise and vibrant facilities to help entrepreneurs Connect, Collaborate and Commercialize. So please, take a look around and make Innovation Park at Notre Dame your new business address

    Joinn Parks
    JOINN Innovation Park is the emerging biotech campus for life science research and development companies in the biotech cluster – San Francisco Bay Area. JOINN Innovation Park offers full service laboratories and offices for companies ranging from early-stage discovery groups through Contract Research Organizations, as well as comprehensive pre-clinic research services.

    Tallahassee. Spanning over 208 acres of pristine Florida landscape, Innovation Park is home to more than thirty-five cutting-edge research and manufacturing organizations. Research and technology breakthroughs pervade Innovation Park, from the development of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math educational software to a Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM) that achieves the highest scanning transmission resolution in the world among commercial TEMs!

    Penn State
    Innovation Park at Penn State is a 118-acre business park that provides companies with multiple real estate options. Residents of the Park have access to Penn State resources and the support services to transfer knowledge from the University to the marketplace.

    Also, Charlotte, Northern Virginia, LSU, Hamilton Ontario, Missouri, Manassas, Minnisota, Prince William County, Santeria Fe. There are more.

    1. Matt Williams

      DB, Montana State’s is clearly new.

      Notre Dame’s opened in 2009 and covers 12 acres. It appears to be an Incubator … an Innovation Park in name only.

      Joinn Parks covers a total of 8 acres. It describes itself as a Biotechnology Acceleration Campus providing laboratory space for lease. It is the repurposing of one of the buildings on the Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals site in Richmond, California.

      According to their website, Innovation Park of Tallahassee has been the hub of scientific research in North Florida for the past 25 years. Innovation Park has been the heart of Tallahassee’s technology future. The university-related research park was established as a unique location for the technology industry and government scientists to work hand-in-hand with such prestigious research universities as Florida A&M University and Florida State University. Innovation Park is home to a wealth of high-tech and research-based facilities that are creating the technology of tomorrow. Tenants represent the university, governmental and industrial sectors. With the technological infrastructure already in place and a positive business climate supported by state and local government, Innovation Park is a prime location for companies seeking an edge over the competition.”

      Innovation Park at Penn State was created by the University in 1989 and opened in 1994.

      So, Montana State’s appears to be both hot and new. Penn State’s and Tallahassee’s are anything but new, although they clearly do match reasonably well the type of Innovation Park being discussed for the East and West sites. Notre Dame’s and Joinn’s are much closer to what is being considered for the Nishi Gateway site (Incubator/Wet Labs)

      I’m not going to research Charlotte, Northern Virginia, LSU, Hamilton Ontario, Missouri, Manassas, Minnisota, Prince William County, and Santeria Fe, but my suspicions are that like Penn State’s and Tallahassee’s, they are not new, but are almost surely evolving and serving.

  14. DavisBurns

    I just did a google search. I attended MSU so got something in the mail with INNOVATION PARK on the cover so I knew there were others. We may be special but not so special that we are the first and only. I figured that was a decent sample. Like you, it didn’t seem worthwhile to look at everyone. If this idea has been around awhile and there are examples with history, maybe we can look at profitability, impacts on communities, failure rates, maybe some ideas of pitfalls and risks. I could never buy into that Field of Dreams mentality–build it and they will come.

    But I still maintain, it’s the hot new thing and either it’s a business model whose time has come or there are folks with vested interests doing a lot of promotion.

    1. Anon

      I agree that if this is not a “new idea”, and innovation parks have been around a while, it would be important to look at previous track records of existing projects to avoid problems and maximize the positives. Just makes good sense to do so. Whether an innovation park significantly benefits the city will depend on how well it is planned, built out and operated.

    2. Matt Williams

      DB, I still believe “new” is a stretch. With that said, your term, a business model whose time has come would explain why there is “new” discussion happening around 25 year-old facilities/campuses. Looking at the history of both Tallahassee and Pen State, they appear to have begun life as extensions of the on-campus research facilities of Florida State University and Penn State University respectively. What appears to have changed for both those universities is that they have made a commitment (much like UCD has) to accelerating the transfer of the results of their research into the private sector, so that the products of the research can benefit a significantly broader mass of people. So the commitment toward having research actually move from the academic sphere to the applied sphere appears to be what is “new.”

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