By Michael Bisch
“This means that the city will have to maintain strong fiscal discipline lest the dramatic recent improvements in its fiscal condition be allowed to unravel. Moreover, the city must continue to be entrepreneurial and search out opportunities to gain additional revenues to support needed public services. This includes pursuing its aggressive efforts for economic development and conducting a rigorous review of what city assets are needed and could be leveraged through sales, leases or concessions for the benefit of the taxpayers.” –Dan Carson, Finance & Budget Commission, November 16th, 2014
This past weekend was a remarkable moment for Davis innovation, startups and economic development. Granted, I missed a significant amount of the Davis City Council’s Strategic Planning and Goal Setting retreat as I was assisting with the Innovation Booth at Farmers’ Market*. Nevertheless, it was quite clear from what I witnessed on Saturday that the City Council and City staff had a forewarning that Dan Carson intended to opine the very next day.
I have posted previously in the Vanguard that the Davis Chamber of Commerce, the Yolo County Visitors Bureau, Davis Downtown and City staff annually develop economic development “Shared Objectives” to be achieved and/or pursued over the following twelve months. I’m pleased to report that the City Council on Saturday adopted 10 of the 11 Objectives either as “Goals”, “Objectives”, “Tasks” or “Whatchamacallits” (you’ll have to ask the retreat moderator for the distinction between these terms). The only “Shared Objective” to fall by the wayside was Objective 11, RDA Successor Agency: Monitor and provide input.
The ten Shared Objectives adopted by the City Council this weekend were:
Nishi/Solano Park: Entitle the Nishi/Solano Park/Gateway/Downtown as part of a mixed-use, innovation district providing space for start-ups and tech businesses, as well as much-needed high-density housing in close proximity to UC Davis and downtown.
Downtown Parking: Better manage the supply of downtown parking by installing way-finding signs and phased implementation of the Downtown Parking Management Plan. Support City Council actions to authorize the staff time and financial resources necessary to implement the Council-approved action items. Furthermore, City Council action required includes formal direction for staff to contract a professional to collect parking occupancy, utilization, and turnover data on a quarterly basis.
Infrastructure Deferred Maintenance: Failure to maintain critical infrastructure and amenities is harming commercial activity, economic development efforts, and is negatively impacting quality of life.
Densification: Develop and adopt policies to encourage densification, especially in the Core Area and in existing business parks, as foreseen in the General Plan and Business Park Landing Strategy, providing for more commercial space, additional mixed- use development and accessory dwelling units. This work should clarify any inconsistencies that exist between the various and often conflicting design guidelines and zoning.
Shop Davis: Continue to develop and execute a program to shift 10% of community purchasing power to local businesses, with an emphasis on locally owned businesses. The business organizations have developed and initiated roll-out of a local shopping promotional program. Program is in initial stage.
Lead Organization: Davis Downtown
Support: Davis Chamber of Commerce
Proposed Next Steps:
Hotel/Conference Center: Support the rapid entitlement and construction of a conference center with hotel and ample parking in Downtown.
Cultivate a Culture of Entrepreneurship: Improve City business license application and processes and the physical environment in the Community Development Dept. to enhance and improve the experience for new and growing businesses and entrepreneurs in Davis.
Richards Tunnel Gateway/Welcome Arch: Meet critical deadlines as described by project MOUs.
Innovation Park: Support entitlement of land for an Innovation Center to provide opportunities for tech, advanced manufacturing and R&D company retention, attraction and growth.
Arts Alliance: Continue to support the creation and formation of a private/public partnership that supports and coordinates local artists and arts organizations, promotes and celebrates the uniqueness of Davis cultural resources and attracts regional, national and global recognition and visitors.
That’s not to say that the City Council didn’t adopt goals in other areas of community sustainability, such as environmental and social sustainability, because they most certainly did. But it’s truly remarkable that the business community, City staff and the City Council are resolute in pursuing strategies to create and foster a resilient, diversified local economy.
I’m also pleased to report that the City Council and City staff on Saturday repeatedly reaffirmed their commitment to executing a “Diversified Innovation Strategy” or as Rob White more aptly posted on the Vanguard recently, a “Citywide Innovation Strategy.” So, despite some Vanguard posters declarations to the contrary, execution of a diversified/citywide innovation strategy is most definitely the strategy that the City Manager, Dirk Brazil, and his staff have been tasked with by the City Council. And the business community has committed to partnering with the City to achieve these goals and objectives. Together with the Innovation and Economic Vitality Work Plan developed by Rob White and adopted by the City Council in April, the City has committed to significant economic development initiatives over the next 24 months. Dan Carson and his colleagues on Finance & Budget have reason to celebrate!
While I have your attention, I’d like to remind Vanguard readers of two more events scheduled for this week intended to focus community attention on innovation, startups and economic development:
- On November 19th, at 6:30pm, Sophia’s Thai Kitchen will be hosting the first “JumpStart Davis Cocktail Hour” networking event, a monthly mixer designed to strengthen and encourage the local startup community. The event will bring together entrepreneurs from all walks of life as well as startup supporters from the general community. The event is free to everyone. Details can be found here facebook.com/events/1508331572763622/?ref=br_tf
- On November 22nd, 9:30am to 11:30am, the Varsity Theater will be hosting a TEDxUCDavisSalon themed “Roots of Inspiration”. The event will highlight 4 speakers and 2 performers from the community who collectively examine the Roots of Inspiration as it means to them. Notable entrepreneurs Pam Marrone of Marrone Bio Innovations and Akshay Sethi of Ambercycle among others will be presenting. Details can be found here https://www.facebook.com/events/1535549980023072/ and tickets purchased here http://www.tedxucdavis.com or here http://www.eventbrite.com/e/tedxucdavissalon-roots-of-inspiration-tickets-9637296413
It is likely I missed some critical details from the Council Goal Setting retreat, no doubt Rob and/or individual Council members will jump in to correct and/or complete the record.
–Michael Bisch, Davis Downtown Prez
*Many thanks to Michelle, Chris, Mimi, Daniel, Alex and Matt for manning the innovation booth. Many thanks to Nina, Bill and Matt for event preparation. And thanks to everyone else for spreading the word!