Mayor’s Corner: Mayor Reiterates Opposition to MRAP

Wolk-Dan-headshot-2014by Dan Wolk

This is the second installment of the “Mayor’s Corner,” a monthly column intended to provide an update of what’s happening at the City Council and introduce any new policy initiatives. And even if our town muckraker, Bob Dunning, poked fun at my first effort (my favorite line: “Quick, honey, grab the No-Doz”), I respect him for being able to write a column multiple times a week as opposed to my once a month. It’s not easy!

City Council Update

This past month has been an eventful one. Most notably:

  • MRAP. On August 26, the City Council voted to have staff return with options to get rid of the 20-ton, mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicle acquired by our police department from the Department of Defense. As I stated at the time, when it comes to help from Washington we, like most communities, have a long wish list; but an MRAP is not on that list.
  • Water. The City Council reached two major milestones in the important area of water. First, we settled a long-running lawsuit regarding the city’s water rates, which among other things provides more funds for the city’s low-income rate assistance program. Second, we adopted a new water rate structure that is fair, simple and, as judged by the small number of protests received during the Proposition 218 process, has ratepayer buy-in. (Only 35 protests were received as compared with thousands in previous efforts to adopt different water rate structures.) The rates will go into effect on November 1.
  • City Manager. The City Council has made significant progress on the search for a new City Manager. From a total pool of 88 applicants, the City Council narrowed the field significantly and has recently been in the process of interviewing a select number of highly qualified individuals. We are now nearing the final stages of this comprehensive process and a final selection will be made soon.
  • Affordable Housing. Just this week, the City Council made two major decisions that will significantly promote affordable housing in our community. First, we initiated the process to reverse a controversial move implemented last year to allow accessory dwelling units (ADUs) – without any restriction – to count toward a future developer’s affordability requirements. Second, we will issue requests for proposals for two sites the city owns, which could yield dozens of affordable units for low-income families to be able to live in Davis.
  • Rail Relocation. In collaboration with Yolo County, the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency, and the cities of Woodland and West Sacramento, our community has received a federal grant in the amount of $171,180 to study the relocation of the north-south rail line that currently runs through the middle of town. Our region shares a vision of relocating that rail line and opening it up for community use.

Upcoming Items

  • Paso Fino Of significant interest to the community is the proposed “Paso Fino” infill development project in the Wildhorse subdivision.  Many in the community are understandably concerned over how much housing should be permitted, the possible loss of an existing open space/greenbelt buffer, and the possible removal of nine Canary Island pine trees.  At the same time, others are interested in providing smart, infill housing at the site.  It is important to stress that no decisions have been made on this project at the City Council level.  The project is set to go before the Planning Commission on October 8 and is tentatively slated to go before the City Council on October 21.
  • Davis Neighbors’ Night Out. DNNO takes place on Sunday, October 12. This annual event is a fun way to get to know your neighbors better via a block party. And better yet this year the city is applying for a Guinness Book of World Records award for the most neighborhood potlucks on the same day. To find a gathering near you – or to sign up to host one – please visit
  • Run the Davis Turkey Trot with the Mayor and City Council. The annual run/walk event put on by Davis’ own A Change of Pace has become a beloved tradition for many in our community, including my own family. I plan to participate again this year along with members of the City Council (all of us will simply try to keep up with Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis). Please consider joining us. It takes place on November 22. For more information, please visit
  • Apply to be on a Commission. Despite the aforementioned columnist’s good-natured ribbing about city commissions last Sunday, we really do have some important citizen advisory bodies which help the City Council make decisions, and we are looking for applicants for several of those commissions.  If you are interested in a great way to volunteer for the community, please visit

More Information

I hope you’ve enjoyed this installment of the Mayor’s Corner. To contact me for any reason, please email me at or call me at 530-574-4360. The city’s website is

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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  1. Tia Will

    I am posting this question publicly since others may have the same question.
    The Mayor’s corner published today states that the city is seeking volunteers for commissions. The city website states that the application period closed on Sept. 25th.
    Clarification ?

  2. Alan Miller

    “Our region shares a vision of relocating that rail line and opening it up for community use.”

    This is the lie being sold to the public. It’s easy to create a vision when everyone sees in the request the piece of the pie that they want. Once the real details and the costs come out, and I mean years from now, not in the study that’s being funded now, that’s when the fighting will begin.

    The developers see the land for profit. Everybody gets what they want.

    This is an incredibly expensive and complex project and if it happens it will be decades in the future. It will set aside affordable options for alternative trasportation, flood control, and local seeking of funds for what is in reality largely unrelated projects, linking them only for the seeking of federal funds, and at a joint cost of pushing the projects into the future and dependence on federal sources, always causing strings and cost attached.

    If you are seeking relief for our one to two round trip a day line, don’t expect it anytime soon. Rather than seeking short-term remedies, our region is seeking a wasteful boondoggle we don’t deserve. Yes I said it. The grade crossings seeking to be removed are not high accident rate crossings. Other jurisdictions have much higher train frequencies and accident rates and deserve the funding if anyone does for improvements.

    So the backers or so-called visionaries claim the funding will come from federal flood control money. But this catastrophic 25-year flood event will likely happen before the Fremont Trestle is removed if they tie the project to this giant Yolodoggle. It will delay the project and be an incredibly costly solution to the flood problem, because the rail relocation isn’t necessary. All that is needed is a cheap rail connection and some transfer and/or haulage agreements, all much cheaper, faster and simpler.

    West Sacramento can go after their own funds for their worthy rail relocation project. Davis and Woodland should concentrate on seeking funding for a rails-with-trails project from Woodland to Davis, doable in a decade if we fight like hell for it, and a Faro Drive to Donner Drive grade-separated bike/pedestrian trail and bridge over the tracks, doable if we fight like hell for it, in five years.

    Instead, will we sit on our our Laurels waiting for federal pennies from heaven and let these great projects pass, because “well, they’re gonna move the tracks someday, aren’t they?”.

    Make no mistake, the so-called rail relocation as a whole, just for the new rail construction starts at $100 million, and it goes up from there. Additional costs could include land acquisition costs, lawsuits, toxic cleanup, a key party dropping out, regulatory delays, EIR redistribution, cost overruns, toxic soil and water cleanup, UPRR design demands, grade crossing requirements from CPUC, land acquisition delays, structure demolition, and environmental mitigation. And those are all LIKELY.

    Don’t count on your pie in the sky yielding key lime anytime soon.

    1. Davis Progressive

      “This is the lie being sold to the public.”

      i get that you disagree with rail relocation, but questioning the motivations and calling people liars seems below the board.

      1. Alan Miller

        What board?

        There are liars out there on this project. They know the truth they are hiding. I’m not saying the mayor is lying, I’m saying he’s repeating the concept lie that was fed to him. When you are unnecessarily looking to spend federal dollars in the nine-figure range, I consider that far worse than simply lying, I consider it outright fraud. Of course, it is done all the time in government, and is “legal” #cough# #cought#. It is perfectly acceptable to steal from the people of the United States if we are “lucky” enough to have a powerful politician who can steer other people’s dollars en masse our way. Some may even call it “economic development”. We may “benefit” locally in jobs and, #cough# #cough# “infrastructure, but nothing is “created” in the end.

    2. Jim Frame

      a Faro Drive to Donner Drive grade-separated bike/pedestrian trail and bridge over the tracks

      Alan, are you aware of any engineering or even conceptual plans for this? Given the large rail clearance requirements, I’m having a hard time envisioning how this would work.

      1. Alan Miller

        Faro overcrossing was discussed a couple of weeks ago regarding the Covell Blvd. transportation study at the City Council meeting. The folks who did the Covell study recommended that the money considered for a Covell grade separation instead be used for traffic/alternate transit calming improvements throughout the Covell corridor and the addition of the Cannery to Faro overcrossing over the railroad. The overcrossing was also discussed during the Cannery talks, but was considered an “add on” later, possible when Covell Village is built. The clearance needed for a structure over rail is 23 1/2 feet. The cost is in the $3-5 million range. The major cost is the need for ADA compatible slope or elevators. The idea of a path over to Donner I brought up in public comment, to connect the NE (Wildhorse) to N Davis for bike/ped without having to go down to Covell and interact with all that transit. Eventually, it would be desirable to have grade sep for this path under Pole Line, but costly so at a later phase. The Covell study group had conceptually the path turn north parallel to F St. and U back down to grade. This was not to the point of preliminary engineering.

        1. hpierce

          A Faro alignment over-crossing is, well, insane. A crossing just south of where Anderson connects to F is feasible, and was promoted by Davis PW for years. It would be expensive.

          It would land on the ‘Covell Village’ site (yeah, anathema). That doesn’t mean Covell Village would have to be developed. Eminent domain could be used.

          Getting over to Pole Line makes sense. The alignment may well affect “farm-ability” on the CV site.

          Crossing Pole Line would best be accomplished near the south end of the Nugget Fields site, or at the north end of Wildhorse.

          A Donner grade separated crossing is about 10% as viable of the chances of a party of pioneers of the same repute.

          1. Jim Frame

            A Faro alignment over-crossing is, well, insane. A crossing just south of where Anderson connects to F is feasible, and was promoted by Davis PW for years.

            They both sounded insane to me, until I realized that you could make the west side approach parallel with F and then turn 90° at the top. Given the required rail clearance and the height of the rails above F Street (it looks to be around 4 feet or so from Google StreetView), you’d need 370 feet or so of ramp in order to meet ADA requirements (I can’t remember how frequent and how long the intermediate landings have to be). That’s a lot of ramp…

          1. hpierce

            The ramp can be accommodated on a city parcel, just south of Anderson… the parcel les between the ponds and F.

    3. Miwok

      I have not read to where people want to relocate the rail line, but any right of way that lends itself to link Woodland and Davis, with maybe some public transportation usage would be welcome. Instead of adding capability like light rail, you want to move the line? Closer to the University? Split the city in another place? Elevate the line for passenger use? If you build for the future, look at the needs now, IMO.

      I also made this pitch about the rail that USED to be used for everything on the link to Sacramento, now only entertainment and occasional freight.

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