Productive Six Months in the City

Wolk-Davis-2014

by Dan Wolk and Robb Davis

Happy Holidays!

This month, we will provide an update on our “six-month plan” to address key challenges facing our community, which we outlined after taking office in June. Next month, we will focus on what’s in store for 2015.

First, an update on the six-month plan:

* Water project/rates: The City Council reached a number of milestones in this area. First, we adopted water rates that are simple to understand, promote water conservation and — as judged by the scant 35 protests received during the Proposition 218 process (compared with thousands in previous efforts) — have ratepayer buy-in.

Second, we settled a long-running lawsuit regarding our water rates.

Third, the State Water Resources Control Board authorized a $95.5 million State Revolving Fund loan for Davis’ share of the regional water supply project, which will translate into millions of dollars in savings to our ratepayers.

And, lastly, UC Davis decided to exercise its option to join the water project.

* City manager: In October we hired Dirk Brazil, formerly Yolo County’s assistant county administrator, as our new city manager. Dirk is a longtime resident of Davis with strong organizational development and management skills, and a solid understanding of public agency administration.

The fact that he already has excellent relationships with Yolo County and UC Davis staff is a huge plus for us. We are very excited to have Dirk on the job and he has hit the ground running.

* Economic development: Our “dispersed innovation” strategy continues to move ahead as the key pillar of our economic development activities. We have received two proposals for innovation parks on the east and west periphery of Davis and city staff spent the autumn processing them and engaging in dialogue with the community regarding the development of these sites.

The Nishi project near Richards Boulevard continues to make great progress as well.

In 2015, the review processes will continue and the projects honed. Late next year, we anticipate that the City Council will make a decision about placing these projects on the ballot — as required by Measure R — for an early 2016 vote.

In the meantime, we continue to be excited about a variety of grassroots efforts — Davis Roots and Jumpstart Davis, for example — that encourage and foster an innovation and startup culture in our community.

* Investing in infrastructure: Although this year’s budget (and future projections) includes $3.4 million for roadway rehabilitation, more must be done — and not just in the area of road repair. The City Council has taken steps to fully assess all infrastructure maintenance backlog needs and the resources available or needed to address them, and has initiated a community conversation about a possible revenue measure to help fund such needs.

Working with the members of our Finance and Budget Commission, this will be a major part of the council’s workload in 2015.

* Employee morale: With the addition of our new city manager, a new City Council in place and the improving budget picture, employee morale is slowly improving. The council has set this as a goal for 2015 and beyond, and will work hard with the city manager to ensure that the heart of our city government — our employees — beats soundly.

* Affordable housing: Over the past six months we tasked staff with revising our municipal code to disallow the counting of accessory dwelling units toward satisfying affordable housing requirements. In addition, we have released RFPs and received exciting proposals for two city-owned properties — one on east Fifth Street and the other in South Davis — to be developed as affordable housing. The council will be examining each proposal in detail and making decisions in early 2015.

As you can see, it’s been a productive past six months. Next month we will share with the community our thoughts on what’s in store for 2015. Until then, have a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year.

— Dan Wolk is the mayor of Davis and Robb Davis is the mayor pro tem.

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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17 Comments

  1. Alan Miller

    Didn’t the Vanguard recently run an editorial about how unproductive the City Council has been?

    Can both be true?

    Is someone lying?

    Is one’s perspective stronger than the “truth”?

    Can our brains handle the seeming contradiction?

    Happy Holidays everyone!

    Or not.

      1. Alan Miller

        That glass contains SLIGHTLY LESS water than the total volume that could contain water but does not contain water, due to the curved bottom that takes up some space due to the design of the glass, and the filler of the glass not fully compensating

        That’s how I see the glass.

        And I’m glad it’s glass.  Glass rocks.  Porcelain is good.  Plastic sucks.

        Nothing like a fine beverage consumed from pure glass.

        1. Don Shor

          Well, this is the least I expect in this town. Please provide the formula that includes the displacement caused by the curvature of the bottom of the glass, adjusted for the crowning of the water due to surface tension and current atmospheric pressure.

        2. Alan Miller

          “Alan, sometimes you are a real pooch.”

          I think you meant peach.  Woof.

          “Please provide the formula that includes the displacement caused by the curvature of the bottom of the glass, adjusted for the crowning of the water due to surface tension and current atmospheric pressure.”

          To what end?!?!!!

    1. Davis Progressive

      “Didn’t the Vanguard recently run an editorial about how unproductive the City Council has been?”

      obviously they can’t both be true.  so let’s scrutinize…….

      water project – the council deserves credit for putting this issue to rest.  no quibbles here.

      city manager – find it interesting that robb davis is signing onto this one when he abstained.  i think this was a serious mistake.

      economic development – no progress has been made here since july.  the key questions and problems, all remain.  they could be about to get worse.

      infrastructure – haven’t done anything yet, probably have missed the 2015 window for a parcel tax.  big fail here

      employee morale: i would like to see evidence that morale is improving – i have heard several stories recently that its not

      affordable housing – okay they revised the municipal code to disallow adu’s – good job

      so i would say, of the six accomplishments listed here, two deserve credit.  and six even if they were legit, which they are not, would be a slow period.

      no credit from this anonymous poster with all due respect to robb davis who i have full confidence in.

       

       

      1. Robb Davis

        Not sure how much time I can/should spend responding to points here but let me say a few things in response to DP:

        1. “city manager – find it interesting that robb davis is signing onto this one when he abstained.  i think this was a serious mistake.”  You clearly did not read my statement on this hiring.  I said “I very much look forward to working with Mr. Brazil and my colleagues on City Council in the months and years ahead to address the many challenges our city faces. Mr. Brazil will find me to be a hard worker, a frank interlocutor and a collaborative problem solver. I expect that he too will work hard, build a solid team, and position the City Council to navigate the many decisions before us. My sense from my limited interactions with Dirk is that we will work very well together.”  Clearly, I had nothing against Mr Brazil and I have enjoyed very much working with him.

        2. “economic development – no progress has been made here since july.  the key questions and problems, all remain.  they could be about to get worse.”  We hired Heidi Tschudin, who is very ably shepherding the process with an aggressive timeline.  During the autumn I personally attended meetings with the Open Space and Habitat, Natural Resources, Finance and Budget and Bicycle, Street Safety and Transportation Commissions, as well as Cool Davis, to receive their feedback on guiding principles.  Heidi, Mike Webb and Sarah Worley did a great job soliciting their input, capturing it in its entirety and integrating it into the final guidelines that we will use to assess and guide project development.  This was no small task.  We also approved funding for an updated city-wide traffic analysis to prepare for Nishi and the innovation parks.  We just approved funding to study the Richard’s interchange.  The various projects are moving forward to complete required environmental impact reviews.  To say no progress has been made is incorrect in my view.

        3. “infrastructure – haven’t done anything yet, probably have missed the 2015 window for a parcel tax.  big fail here.”  We have put over $3 million into road repairs this year and that continues as a line item in the years ahead.  We also approved a consultancy to update cost estimates for other city-owned infrastructure so we can fully assess replacement costs and determine how to better budget for them.  We are also doing a fee study which will help us understand how to build infrastructure replacement costs into program fees.  We just approved a plan to move the water project pipeline project forward–construction underway in the spring.  To say we have done nothing because we have not yet determined taxing options is wrong.  

        I have said  it before and will say it again, if people look only to the actions taken on Tuesday evenings then you are missing the bulk of the work that goes on in this town.  I speak for my colleagues to say that every one of the actions to which I have just referred also require individual meetings with staff and the City Manager and various commissions.

        Is there a LOT more to do? Of course.  But a number of key issues are moving forward.  I am learning that the business of the city is far more like a marathon (which I have run) than a 5K (which I have run).  There are moments in a marathon when a burst of energy is required but most of it is simply a long run at a sustainable pace.  That is what we are doing.

        2015 is going to be a challenging year.  It will be a marathon.

      2. Matt Williams

        DP, some thoughts on your comments

        city manager – do you have any idea why Robb abstained?  To say that Robb’s abstention was a serious mistake requires a significant inference on your part.  Your saying that the hiring of Dirk Brazil was a serious mistake is based on at best a very small data sample.  Can you point to anything that Dirk has done wrong thus far?  Isn’t your assessment a bit of a rush to judgment.

        economic development – as I said to DavisBurns yesterday, our community (combined City and UCD) has a long, long woeful history when it comes to coherent, holistic economic development.  All significant development intitiatives and application considerations must be handled as a General Plan Exception (with all the attendant bureaucratic overhead), because our City’s General Plan GOALS, POLICIES AND ACTIONS — GROWTH MANAGEMENT — Policy LU 1.1 “Recognize that the edge of the urbanized area of the Citydepicted on the land use map under this General Plan represents the maximum extent of urbanization through 2010, unless modified through the Measure J process.” with section e. of the Standards/Actions supporting policy LU 1.1 stating, ” Create and maintain an effective growth management system designed to keep the population of the City below 64,000 and the number of single-family dwellings below 15,500 in 2010″  As a result progress has been understandably slower than most of us would ideally like.

        infrastructure – I’m one of the loudest drum beaters on the issue of deferred maintenance of our infrastructure, but with that said Bob Clarke has put together a very well-considered plan for moving forward with the funding that Council has appropriated, and that the roll out schedule for any roads infrastructure maintenance plan is going to mean disruption to the City’s residents (see 5th Street this year, as wll as B Street and 1st Street for disruption examples).  It is not unreasonable to believe that if we had the necessary financial resources, the infrastructure maintenance would not be able to go from “zero to sixty” immediately without producing howls of protest from the citizens.  We saw howls of protest about 5th Street, with dire predictions of coming of The Apocalypse, and how lhas that worked out.

        employee morale – when you have a history of compensation and benefits increases that have consistently and continually outstripped those of the general public (and of inflation), of course there is going to be push back when that largesse comes to a halt.  Further, the push back isn’t going to be a product of the employees’ brains, but rather of their hearts and/or groins.  Until subjective thinking converts to objective thinking, there will always be some level of residual, ongoing employee morale challenges.

  2. Anon

    “city manager – find it interesting that robb davis is signing onto this one when he abstained.  i think this was a serious mistake.”

    Serious mistake that Robb Davis abstained, or serious mistake that this particular city manager was hired?

    “economic development – no progress has been made here since july.  the key questions and problems, all remain.  they could be about to get worse.”

    Jumpstart, a social event for entrepreneurs, has begun, to foster a positive dialogue about economic development (kudos to Michael Bisch, et al).  The developers/city staff are moving forward with community dialogue, to learn what the concerns are so they can be addressed.  The city is in negotiations with UCD to further the Nishi project.  How can you say “no progress has been made since July”?  When moving a huge project like the innovation parks, the steps are small, steady and incremental.  No one can make questions and problems go away overnight, in a few months, or even in a year.  It will take time, negotiations, communication, reaching out to the public, collaboration over a period of years.  Setting the bar so high it cannot possibly be achieved is a recipe for failure.

  3. Miwok

    I love how the press release describes a $95 Mil loan as a “cost savings, of millions”. You can deal with that when another Wolk makes it to the State Assembly?

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