Why I Want an Innovation Park in Davis

By Jason Taormino

“What will an innovation park do for Davis?”

Many Davis voters, likely a majority of voters, do not work for a business and therefore have a different set of experiences than someone like me. I have started several businesses and worked in others.

I want to share my vision — which is fed by my experience in Silicon Valley, three years in France, two in Barcelona and time in several other cities, with an MBA along the way. I hope my comments will provide a glimpse from a different perspective.

I have no doubt that an innovation park or parks will draw new businesses to Davis. First hundreds, and soon a few thousand more people will be working in Davis earning high salaries. Following are my top reasons for welcoming such a change:

1.  I want my kids and your grandkids to have the option to live in Davis and work as a professional in their desired field rather than moving to the Bay Area, New York City, Portland, Seattle, etc.
2. I want fellow Davisites to experience the excitement of watching the next generation start a company, raise money, hire people, have kids, buy a house, coach soccer — becoming the next generation of proud Davisites.
3. With a stronger retail base supported by these new professionals, we won’t have to go to Sacramento or San Francisco as often. Eventually, Davis will have its own Apple Store.
4. More businesses will bring more people who will order chai decaf lattes, eat lunch or dinner at a restaurant and go out with their colleagues after work.
5. More businesses mean more taxes, in various forms, and we need their money to control Davis’ destiny.
6. Our aging population will increasingly have special needs — needs that may require additional municipal and community services — services that can be afforded only if we continue to attract younger, family-aged professionals and skilled workers.
7. The Davis schools need more well-educated parents who believe in public education and will participate in the schools.
8. Businesses in Davis generate as much tax revenue for the city as the property taxes on our homes. An innovation park could double that tax revenue to $20 million a few years. Palo Alto’s businesses generate $30 million annually.
9. With more business in town, fewer Davisites will need to commute, and more will have a chance to work in their hometown.
10. An innovation park will attract companies that are high-paying not just for the executives but also for the staff working on the manufacturing floor, in the labs and in the marketing department.
11. It will feel great to capitalize on our unique nexus of resources — university, relatively inexpensive housing (compared to the Bay Area), good public schools, great transportation, highly educated work force outside of the university, inexpensive housing in neighboring towns and proximity to mountains and the coast.
12. I want more people in Davis who can afford the homes that our aging population are now vacating.
13. I want to talk with parents on the sidelines of the soccer fields who are working for interesting companies.
14. I want to have young people experience the same struggles and joys as their parents without needing to be a professor at UCD.
15. I want to create a space for the next UCD hospital, so the doctors and nurses who already live in Davis can ride their bikes to work.
16. I want to see a growing cross-section of younger, technology company employees working and living in Davis to re-invigorate, strengthen and ensure our established traditions of community and business outreach and leadership.
17. I want Davis to thrive and control its future.

Jason Taormino is standing in for Doby Fleeman. He is an active member of the Davis Chamber of Commerce. This column first appeared in the Davis Enterprise.

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 appreciate your willingness to share your perspective. There is one point in which we are in complete agreement.

    I want Davis to thrive and control its future.”

    I also want this for our community. However, of your 17 points, eight contain the word “more” directly, and all except the last convey the idea that more equals better. I do not share this view point. More is simply that, more. It brings with it not only advantages but also its own share of burdens.

    What I would prefer for our community are the concepts of balance and harmony. Just as I do not believe that every corner “needs” its own Starbucks, I also do not believe that every community “needs” its own Target or its own Apple store. There is currently another thread on which many are posting that addresses the concept of enough vs excess. That is the thread on sugary beverages. We live in a culture that lionizes excess. This is true throughout all aspects of our consumer based economy and it is often to our own detriment.

    I write as someone who has been involved in business for my entire career. The business of medicine. From my perspective, business itself is not always about more. Sometimes less is the better choice. For my business, the best outcome over all would be for doctors to have less business due to decreased need  for curative services based on overall improvement of health. I know, in my role of a medical business woman, that more medicines, more surgeries, more interventions, more screening exams, while they may be better for my pocketbook ( at least if I were in private practice, which I am not), but it would not be better for my patients and might actually make some of them much sicker than if I had done nothing at all. I believe that the medical principle of “first, do no harm” might well be applied to other businesses as well and that this philosophy should be applied more broadly throughout our business community.

      1. Alan Miller

        You are oddly obsessed with my purple Aussie hat.  If you had a name instead of hiding behind your anonymous “hat”, that probably wouldn’t be be creepy.

  2. Frankly

    I also want this for our community. However, of your 17 points, eight contain the word “more” directly, and all except the last convey the idea that more equals better.

    Tia – We can easily reframe what you want as more.  More of the same.  More bikes. More pedestrians.  More density.  More affordable housing.  More farmland moat.  More taxes and more spending.   Everyone wants more.  Some of us just recognize that fact and are honest in our desires.

    I think the challenge though is how to balance your wants with the needs and wants of others.   You have a lot.  Are you willing to give up some of what you have to help support the needs and wants of others like Jason?

  3. Anon

    Tia: “We live in a culture that lionizes excess.”

    One man’s excess is another man’s necessity.

    You certainly seem to have a very negative view of this country and its people.  Perhaps you need to get out in the community/state/nation more, because in my experience there are so many citizens of this country who do not have much, don’t feel the need for much, and are quite happy.  There are others who have quite a bit, and are also very happy, and share their wealth w those less fortunate.

    Frankly, you sound a lot like my grandmother, who would always say she hated progress.  She had an old black wood stove for years, an old refrigerator that did not defrost automatically, a bathroom sink that looked like something out of the 1850’s.  She absolutely hated computers.  Her husband absolutely refused to go to the doctor, and remained deaf without hearing aids for years.  But once pushed to get more modern appliances by her frustrated children, my grandmother begrudgingly admitted they were an improvement, but still insisted the world was somehow getting “worse”.  In her day, there were no antibiotics; there was segregation; discrimination against gays, etc.  Women stayed at home while the man worked.  Who wants to go back to that?  She did!  I don’t.  Would you want to return to those times?

    Change is inevitable, but all change brings with it good and bad.  The idea is to minimize the bad and maximize the good.  To remain static is not possible – it is within man’s innate nature to always want to improve things, to explore the world around him and find out how things tick.  But there will always be a few diehards who fight against improvements and exploration – because they fear change, whether inevitable or not.

    1. Frankly

      Frankly, you sound a lot like my grandmother, who would always say she hated progress.

      Well Anon, I’m not your grandmother, and I don’t hate progress… in fact just the opposite.  I think you have me mistaken for Tia Will?


    2. Tia Will

      Dave Hart

      I saw the comment about the lattes as a bid for gentrification. I am very much in favor of change. I just do not agree with the idea that more latte drinking upper middle class folks living in bedroom communities in Davis is the kind of change that I would like to see.

      A few of the changes that I would like to see:

      1. I would prioritize the health and wellness of our community as at least equal to the financial well being. Now before anyone says, but health isn’t a local issue, the assertion is that I am change averse. That is not true and this is just one of the changes I support.

      2. I would like us to provide for those who actually need housing such as students and truly low income individuals.

      3. I would like our environment to be as important to us as  our short term financial gains.

      4. I would like us to admit that as long as the university is here, we will have a never ending steam of young folks in our community, some of whom will always chose and find ways to stay and some of whom will always move away. We are in no danger of becoming a retirement community as long as we have the ongoing youth supply that is UCD.

      5. I would like our community to be more, not less invested in green technologies and true cutting edge technologies not retreads of “innovation parks” that were cutting edge 20 years ago. I would like to see us partnering not with companies such as Mars and Monsanto but with companies that are truly interested in feeding the world through sustainable methods not through mass production of single crops to maximize the company profits through production of processed foods.

      6. i would like to be relatively unique in maintaining its own unique character instead of trying to become a Folsom, or a Palo Alto,  or worse yet a Vacaville or Woodland with their outlets and big boxes driving out the local owner and small businesses. We have enough of those communities. We have only one Davis.

  4. Davis Progressive

    i like some things that jason says.  for example, the need to increase tax revenue.

    but a lot of this is right out of the pro-growth playbook.  the idea that he wants his kids and grandkids to have the option to live in davis.  the need for more school children, etc.  that makes me less comfortable about supporting this endeavor because it seems to suggest we’re backdooring in population growth.

    1. Anon

      If we don’t start making this city attractive to young families with children, the city of Davis will become a retirement community.  Schools will close (Valley Oak already has), and the city will lose its vibrancy.  Do you really want to head towards a retirement community?

      1. Barack Palin

        I lived in San Mateo where housing is much more expensive than Davis and it never turned into a retirement community.  As long as we have the college Davis will always be vibrant.

  5. Dave Hart

    I like Jason’s positive vision for some kind of future for Davis and share the general thrust of it.  One area did give me pause.  Do we really need more “people who will order chai decaf lattes”?  You may have lost me on that one.  I can sign on to your vision if it were closer to “people who will order triple espressos with no room for cream.”

    1. Tia Will


      You certainly seem to have a very negative view of this country and its people.”

      I can see how my point of view might seem negative to those who believe that one is not capable of both loving this country and not believing in American exceptionalism. It might also be interpreted as “negative” to not believe that Americans are better than other people just by virtue of being American. It is true that I do not value American lives above the lives of those born elsewhere and I believe that America, like all countries has its unique set of strengths and weaknesses. I love America. I am very proud of our country when we are at our finest as when we chose as a society to help rebuild devastated countries after WWII, or when we chose as a nation to end Jim Crow, or when many of our citizens and our government chose to send themselves and/or our troops into West Africa to aide with Ebola control efforts. But I am not, and will not pretend to be proud or pretend that I believe that we are in the right when our actions are reprehensible as when we chose to torture, or when we chose to invade another nation which was no threat to us ( Iraq) or when we use drones to attack civilians in the name of protection against terrorists. Just because I can see, and am vocal about our errors and flaws does not mean that I do not love the country any more than not believing that my own children are not perfect angels, means that I have a negative opinion of them. My love of country is based on my belief of what we could be if we were to truly live up to our own stated ideals. To the extent that we fall short, we should accept that and strive to do better. I will never believe that we are living up to our vision when we are not feeding, supporting, housing , providing medical care and education for all of our children. I will never believe that we are achieving our highest potential when we are making avarice and the hoarding of wealth our highest values and goals. If you consider this negativism, so be it. I see it as valuing human beings over money and our environment over short term financial gain.  I see it as continually striving to live up to our vision of a society of equal opportunity for all.

  6. Michael Harrington

    “Why I want an Innovation Park in Davis”?


    Hmmmm …. because you want yourself, your entire extended family, and your real estate office members to all be nearly instantaneously wealthy when that 200 acre upzoning hits and you and your family and friends start selling lots?


    It’s like Covell Village in Nov 2005, but on a much larger scale.


    Just saying the obvious ….

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