Sunday Commentary: Lessons I Took Away from the TedxUCDavis Event on Innovation and Carless Existence

Davis Mayor Dan Wolk opened the TedX UC Davis event on Saturday at the Davis Oddfellows
Davis Mayor Dan Wolk opened the TEDxUCDavis event on Saturday at the Davis Odd Fellows

In recent weeks, I have really gotten into watching TED videos – while TED has been around for years now, only recently have I begun to understand why it is so popular. For me it’s the inspiring ideas, and also the exposure to social justice work that you might not hear about in the mainstream press.

So when I had a chance to go to a local event featuring local speakers, I couldn’t resist and it did not disappoint. The first two speakers, in fact, embodied discussions that we have been having here on the Vanguard for the last week and beyond. Pastor Bill Habicht talked about innovation and Maria Contreras Tebbutt talked about breaking the car habit.

Bill Habicht told the story of when he first came to Davis and was  in charge of social justice programs at the Davis Community Church, he ran into Lawson – who many people know in this community and who sells the “Spare Changer” downtown. In 2005, Lawson was homeless and Pastor Bill asked him what he saw as the biggest problem facing Davis, and without hesitation Lawson said, “Shelter.”

He said that there were 120 homeless people at the time in Davis and only two beds. Pastor Bill said he could bring this back to the committee and we can discuss it, “But I gotta be honest, I don’t think we have the resources to build a shelter.” He said, “One of Lawson’s favorite phrases, ‘don’t give me excuses. Dream big and do it.’”

Pastor Bill Habicht
Pastor Bill Habicht

Pastor Bill said he brought in a group from the public and they “did dream big.” When they did, “the naysayers started to show up and we heard, there’s no money to do something like this. Where are you going to put it? The zoning won’t allow it and you are going to receive serious protests from the NIMBY’s.”

“Alas,” he said. “A year later, the Interfaith Rotating Shelter opened.” Seven years later, the Shelter has 1400 volunteers, numerous community groups, “and it only operates on a budget of $7000 per year.”

This is a great lesson for Davis, because, as I argued yesterday, we have this mindset of, instead of envisioning the possibilities, we find reasons why new things will fail. Yesterday, I put up the idea of a carless Nishi and the idea of food sharing.

But had Bill Habicht listened to the naysayers, we would not have the highly successful Interfaith Rotating Shelter that has made a huge impact on people’s lives.

The rest of his talk dovetails on community discussions of innovation.

“What made (the Shelter) successful?” he asked. “I think it has to do with adopting a mindset of innovation.”

Innovation, he explained, “is about building processes and structures to overcome the greatest challenges of our day. It involves risk. It involves creativity. And it involves movement.”

Pastor Bill then talked about how we build an innovation ecosystem in Davis. He argued that we need to stop doing strategic plans of action because we live in a fast paced society and by the time we have created the strategic plan, our target has “moved from here to here.” He said that an innovation mindset involves getting rid of the map and having the compass.

Habicht-Biggie-Small
Bill Habicht illustrates the Biggie-small principle

He said we need to take the “Biggie-small principal” which is the lesson he learned from Lawson – “dream big, start small.” “You have to dream and you have to start, you cannot wait until everything is perfect,” he added.

Pastor Bill talked about a new venture – Jumpstart Davis. “This venture really isn’t owned by anyone,” he said. It is a “place where everyone can gather together to figure out things to create this kind of ‘mesh network.’”

He also talked about the importance of co-working space such as the newly-opened POLLINATE Davis. “Co-working spaces are really critical to city innovation because it provides an open space for people of all sectors to come together.”

Pastor Bill argued the biggest challenge for cities and organizations “is changing the mantra from avoid failure at all costs to fail fast, fail often, fail forward.” He argued that this was the biggest challenge because from a young age we have been taught that failing means lack of success. “The reality is that failure is the only way that we learn,” he said.

Pastor Bill cited research called the “Marshmallow Study” which studies failure in terms of attempting to build the tallest marshmallow structure without it falling. Who did poorest? “Recent business school graduates. And the reason for this is because they adopt a mindset of ‘don’t fail.’”

Who performs the best? “Kindergartners. They’re all about having fun and they don’t really care if they fail. They just start working and they see what works and what doesn’t.”

He closed with the idea that “this town can be a leader in innovation” with the brilliant minds at the university and the students attending.”

One of my biggest struggles this week is pushing the city council, the community and the developers to “think big” on Nishi. People seem to be struggling with the concept that you could create a development which is right next to both UC Davis and the Davis Downtown, where you are within walking distance from Whole Foods, and biking distance from Safeway and the Co-op, without cars.

So it was great to hear local resident Maria Contreras Tebbutt talk about her journey to going carless. When she grew up in Davis, she rode her bike to school with the other kids. “Those numbers are plummeting recently,” she said. “Fewer and fewer kids ride to school, mostly because people are afraid.”

She talked about growing up in Davis, biking down Road 102 to Woodland, biking under the Richards underpass and the freedom that biking gave her. But then she moved to Sacramento, got a car and so by the time she moved back to Davis as an adult with her husband, they had his and her cars.

TedX-1-17-1
Maria Contreras Tebbutt discusses her journey to going carless

“I had a bike too,” she said. “But mostly I used it for entertainment, recreation, or getting a workout. But I never thought of it as transportation.”

Ms. Tebbutt talked about commuting and the anxiety and stress it caused her. “I was craving freedom and a simpler life,” she said. She then read a book called Divorcing My Car, and said, “It spoke to me and changed the way I thought about my relationship to my car.”

“I was married to my car. I was basically enslaved to my car and I needed a little more freedom,” she said.

She said she decided to take one of the easier roads to breaking the habit because “it had become an addiction in my life.” She batched her errands during the week to earn herself “a totally car free day at the end of the week.”

But she was still commuting to work and so she did more research and found a word that struck her – “telecommuting.” Computers at the time were new to her and “it never dawned on me to use the computer instead of actually physically going somewhere to do my work.” She moved her office, “instead of going to Sacramento, we stayed at home which worked well since I had a young child at home.”

She described a picture in the local paper on the front page, “Robb Davis’ family. The article said that they had committed to being car free, all four of them,” she said.

That was it. She said she was “blown away and totally intrigued.” She bought a cover for her car, put the car in the driveway and with that gray cover it essentially disappeared.” She added, “I put that place of honor to my bicycle in the garage.”

Ms. Tebbutt added, “I attached everything to the bike that I might possibly need to make it more enjoyable, pleasant and comfortable.”

Eventually it became such a hassle to take the cover off the car that “I finally decided to give it away. I divorced my car.” She got a trailer to take her five-year-old to school “like a little princess.” By the time her daughter was in fourth grade, she was able to bike on her own.

Her daughter is 23 now and never got a driver’s license. She graduated from a university in San Francisco and she is still car free. “I’m pretty sure that cost-savings alone paid her tuition,” she said.

It was fascinating to listen to her story of how she became car free, because it occurred at a time we were having these discussions on the Vanguard. I get that all of people believe that going car free is a choice, but why not have a neighborhood that accommodates that choice?

For me, listening to these talks reinforced my thinking from this past week – our need to think big and think outside of the box and find ways to make things happen – even if we end up failing, as long as our failure does not set us back but rather push us forward.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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64 Comments

  1. Barack Palin

    I get that all of people believe that going car free is a choice, but why not have a neighborhood that accommodates that choice?

    That’s fine, I don’t think anyone has a problem with that.  I think where you’re going to get pushback is there are those that want to take the choice of using a car out of the equation.

      1. Barack Palin

        Both.  I posted this on another thread but have those that want Nishi to be carless thought about the effect it might have on our downtown traffic and parking with all the people that might want to visit the Nishi area traveling to and using our downtown to park since they won’t be able to drive into or park in Nishi?

        1. David Greenwald

          A few thoughts on that. First, I think there is a sizable population that is already carless.

          Second, I know one councilmember is looking into the issue of car storage and there may be an alternative solution there.

          1. Don Shor

            I have always had employees who were carless. Davis is a pretty easy place to live and get around without a car. But in every case I can think of, it was an economic choice, and they aren’t likely to be the demographic that would be moving into Nishi. I expect these units will be at the higher price range for rental housing in Davis.

        2. Davis Progressive

          it is weird how hard it is to grasp the concept that there are thousands of students that have no car and that providing housing where they can get to where they need to go without a car is advantageous.

          1. Don Shor

            I wonder how many of the students renting in West Village are carless, and how they deal with the parking issue there. I’m sure somebody here has those answers.

  2. Barack Palin

    David, the problem with your vision that everyone should work together to make something happen and not look at the negatives is that everyone has to be onboard with the initial idea in the first place.  You want Nishi to be carless and you want everyone onboard to figure out a way to get it done.  What if others want Nishi to be very car friendly, with a good road system and ample parking to make their experience in Nishi so much better when they decide to drive their car there?  Are you going to try and make that happen, look at ways to get it done instead of being a naysayer?

    1. David Greenwald

      Well, from my standpoint, I see a carless Nishi as one possible solution to the circulation concerns. That doesn’t mean it’s the only one. Given the space considerations and limitations at Nishi, it seems like a waste to have a large, one story parking facility. I would like to see more density of housing as I believe that the current housing figures are too low and don’t begin to address real needs. So again, I see removing cars and their necessary parking as a solution.

      Is it the only solution? No.

      1. hpierce

        Obviously, a better solution would have Nishi be ALL parking and innovation park, freeing up the Solano Park area for no parking and much higher densities for residential.  Move ALL the residential units onto campus.  During the week the resident could be “carless”, and their car would be available for weekend, evening, breaks, etc.  The residents would have easy access to Whole Foods, downtown, etc.  Since most of the innovation center would be oriented to the University, it would make sense that the motor vehicle access to that be oriented to UCD, adding no additional traffic to Olive/Richards.

        Another advantage is the residential component, which doesn’t pay for itself, would be outside the city, and the revenue generating uses would be in the City.

        1. Matt Williams

          hpierce, I would be solidly behind what you propose if UCD’s track record on housing was better, but UCD’s own numbers don’t give me a lot of comfort on that score.

          In 2002 UCD committed to the UCOP and all the other UC campuses that they would raise their on-campus beds to 11,032 by 2011/2012. How have they done on that commitment? Rather than increasing the number of beds by the 5,480 that they committed to, they have actually decreased the number of beds, and according to their latest Student housing Strategic Plan do not expect to have as many on-campus beds in FY 2022/2023 (5,528) as they had in FY 2001/2002 (5,552). Here are the year-by-year numbers provided by UCD with links to the places on the UCD website where those numbers reside.

          Total Housing Supply from Page 21 of the November 2002 UC Housing for the 21st Century report, selected pages of which can be viewed at http://davismerchants.org/vanguard/UC%20Housing%20in%20the%2021st%20Century.pdf

          FY 96/97 = 4332
          FY 01/02 = 5552
          FY 06/07 estimated = 7332
          FY11/12 estimated = 11032

          RESIDENCE HALLS BED SPACE PROJECTIONS from Appendix G of http://housing.ucdavis.edu/__pdf/2008%20Strategic%20Plan.pdf

          FY 08/09 = 4528
          FY 09/10 = 4528
          FY 10/11 = 4309
          FY 11/12 = 4602
          FY 12/13 = 4427
          FY 13/14 = 4427
          FY 14/15 = 4827
          FY 15/16 = 4827
          FY 16/17 = 4827
          FY 17/18 = 4827

          Design Capacity – Total Supply from http://housing.ucdavis.edu/about/strategic-plan/2014/appendix-b.asp

          FY 14/15 = 4968
          FY 15/16 = 4968
          FY 16/17 = 4968
          FY 17/18 = 5178
          FY 18/19 = 5178
          FY 19/20 = 5178
          FY 20/21 = 5378
          FY 21/22 = 5528
          FY 22/23 = 5528

        2. Miwok

          Matt –

          they just fenced off some old dorms near Tercero so that will take a few out of circulation. They JUST finished the dorms in this link across the top of the map and put them on line for this fall, and took the box at the right out to rebuild them.

          http://housing.ucdavis.edu/maps/tercero/

          I should add the Lot 47, already jammed during school months before the top dorms were even done, now have twice as many students to serve. Only redeeming value, they have not moved the Dairy Barn yet so you can go pet the cows.

          1. Matt Williams

            Miwok, if you follow the link I provided to Appendix G of Student Housing’s 2008 Strategic Plan (page 41 of the document), they detail the various “ins and outs” associated with Capital Project Impacts

            Tercero South Phase II (new) added 579 beds in FY 2010/11
            Tercero South Phase III (new) adds 400 beds in FY 2014/15
            Leach (retire) removed 175 beds in FY 2012/13
            Castilian (retire) removed 505 beds in FY 2012/13
            Segundo High Rise Renovation* removed 798 beds during the one-year period of FY 2010/11

            It appears that they did not anticipate the 2014 Tercero changes when they published that 2008 Plan. However, if you click on the link I provided to the 2014 version of Student Housing’s Strategic Plan Tercero shows two entries … Tercero 3 adding 1,183 beds in FY 2014/15 and Tercero 4 adding 475 beds in Fall 2017. It seems like that box on the right of your map is Tercero 4, which is shown on prior UCD maps as the location of Leach Hall, which shows as 179 removed beds in FY 2014/15.

        3. KSmith

          They’re also removing Solano Park and Orchard Park (grad student/family student housing), and not all of those beds are being added back in in the Orchard Park remodel / Nishi projects. I’m not sure what the net loss is, though.

      2. Miwok

        Nice article, and what I take away from that may be, since I do not know the egos of the people presenting at this TED event, was it seems that they don’t care who gets the credit, and employ as many people as possible to build what is envisioned. Kudos!

        RE Nishi, Mr Greenwald and others want it to be carless. Well are you going to pick up the family and sign up to live there? This would be the only reason I see for people to pronounce how they want others to live.

        When you also make a community that has restaurants, shops, maybe even business and tourists, visitors and clients, you have to make it possible for them to get in and out. Delivery trucks are obnoxious enough in the Downtown, and you want to handle this how in Nishi?

        Logistics, as I mentioned in another post about seeing the beginning of the New Whislter back in the 90’s, showed me you cannot make thing smaller, but repurpose what you have to make it more attractive to use.

        The first thing I think of when people use bicycles is “how do you get the groceries home?”

        Tim

        1. hpierce

          “The first thing I think of when people use bicycles is “how do you get the groceries home?””

          We used bike baskets and/or a bike trailer.  And, as necessary, the car.

          1. David Greenwald

            When I used to live in DC, I had to carry my groceries onto the Metro and then walk them home. So what did I do – I only bought enough food that I could carry. Some people had mini-carts that they would push. So instead of one big trip to the grocery store, you would make two or three smaller trips during the week.

          2. Matt Williams

            In this town, where Nugget Markets sources almost all their fresh food locally, many people shop each day of the week, effectively using the supermarket as their refrigerator. That way they know that what they are cooking for dinner that night is the freshest that it can be … and nothing spoils before it is used.

        2. Tia Will

          Miwok

          This would be the only reason I see for people to pronounce how they want others to live.”

          This ignores the defacto situation that exists in the United States where we have adopted the car as the default mode of transportation for virtually everyone who does not live in a public transportation rich, high population density area. This did not have to be the choice, but it has been. Any one who would have a different preference has many fewer choices. This would seem to be to be the “pronouncement” about how others should live that you seem to eschew.

           

          1. Don Shor

            Public transportation is nearly always heavily subsidized, to a much higher degree than auto infrastructure. And the smaller the population base, the less cost-effective it is. Davis is an island in terms of available transit. We are fortunate to have UniTrans here, but transportation in and out of Davis has always been a problem. Solving that, unfortunately, requires coordinating between different counties and different metropolitan areas (Dixon is Bay Area, Davis is Sac from a metropolitan planning standpoint). So once again, the geographic situation and the demographics here don’t lend themselves to providing a regional solution.
            It would be quite expensive to provide more public transit, and the overwhelming preference of Americans (especially in the west) is for individual transit options.

        3. Miwok

          hpierce, haven’t been to Costco lately? You see the loads they haul out of that place? I don’t shop every day, and encouraging bike traffic means you can only haul so much, and MORE trips to shop for staples.

          Mr Shor, thank you for saying what I may not have said very well, nor as completely. Davis, historically has always been an island, until the Bridges were built.

          Tia, I regret the fact transportation has favored the car as much as you, maybe just a BIT less. In re-lining streets for bikes, sidewalks, and cars, the city has made it less safe for all. How many neighborhoods were “allowed” to be built with substandard streets, sidewalks and no bike lanes, then adopted into the City? These should never have been allowed by the county, OR never adopted into the city.

          All:

          Has this been because the government subsidies require this design, because the city would not say no to any chance for more tax money, or because more people move faster and more efficiently with this design? If you talk about growing the city, you have to keep them in their area of residence, because the city is not designed to have people running from Nishi to the North Davis to shops and recreate, then come back. Even with bicycles, the business park adds according to one person 1000 new employees that must have food and access, plus 650 residence apartments, that will have at least another 1000+ people. Adding even the first 1000 is going to be a load on Downtown, because the students’ populations are growing whether you have something at Nishi or not.

          1. Don Shor

            Davis, historically has always been an island, until the Bridges were built.

            In the 1980’s I had the great privilege to sit with some of the old-timers of the nursery industry at our local nursery association meetings. People like George and Richard Oki, Earl Lagomarsino, and others who had been in the business here for decades.
            Earl, whose family owned a long-standing seed business in Sacramento, had attended UC Davis in the 1930’s when it was basically the farm campus for UC Berkeley. He told us stories about driving to Sacramento in those days. Once the rainy season came, you couldn’t do it. I Street bridge was the only crossing, and getting to it through West Sac wasn’t reliable when everything got muddy. What is now the Yolo Bypass was just a muddy impassable mess in a normal winter in those days. On the plus side, in really wet years, Davis Ranch was relatively unaffected compared to Sac….http://www.mjbarkl.com/floods.htm

        4. Jim Frame

          What is now the Yolo Bypass was just a muddy impassable mess in a normal winter in those days.

          For a fascinating and engaging look at the history of Sacramento-area flood control, I highly recommend Battling the Inland Sea by Robert Kelly (1989).  Subtitled “Floods, Public Policy, and the Sacramento Valley,” the book describes in detail how we got from 1850 conditions to where we are today.

          1. Matt Williams

            I heartily second Jim’s recommendation. One of the most interesting books I have read ever in my life. Truly fascinating … and illuminating.

        5. darelldd

          The first thing I think of when people use bicycles is “how do you get the groceries home?

          By simply asking any one of the hundreds of people who shop by bike every day at any of each of our local grocery stores, you could answer that question and move on to another. You’ve seen the full bike parking at Whole Foods? At Co-Op? At Trader Joe’s?

          Google Grocery Pannier. Or Cargo Bike. Or Bike Basket. Or Bike Trunk. Or probably the best: carrying groceries on a bike. Choose images. Done.

          A set of high-end panniers costs about as much as a week’s worth of gasoline. And quite a bit less than the trunk that came attached to your car.

          Next question.

        6. Davis Progressive

          “Well are you going to pick up the family and sign up to live there?”

          are the houses for families or students?  i envision students living here.

        7. Miwok

          Thank you, Don Shor and Jim Frame for some great reading suggestions.

          Thank you, darelldd for the search suggestions, but I still see cases of toilet paper and paper towels overwhelming some bicycles, but since I have a motorcycle, I know I can get lots in those bags. I try not to waste an hour a day trying to shop.

          DP, I have lived in apartments that were “envisioned for students” – turns into chaos pretty quickly. One family below me a while back had two grad students, three kids, a dog and how many cats, and they seems to yell at the Kids/cats/dog as early as 4AM every morning. And I lived upstairs! I got out of there as soon as I could.

          Another place the tenants thought they could have parties and make as much noise as they liked, “because they paid their rent”. My comments just made me a target, Police were the only option to calm it down. They wanted to beat me up.

          DP, you may “envision” all you want, but reality is very different, especially when people are involved. High Density means High Stress. Some people like that.

    2. Matt Williams

      BP, as a discussion topic, let’s drill down into your concept of “Nishi [as] very car friendly, with a good road system and ample parking to make their experience in Nishi so much better when they decide to drive their car there.”

      First, what are the reasons that a person in a car would want to drive their car to Nishi?

      — For many people who live offsite, going to work is an obvious one, with the arrival of the car at the beginning of the work day, the stationary parking of the car for 9 hours and then the departure of the car at the end of the work day … for others who live offsite, public transportation will be their commuting choice.

      — For people who both live and work onsite, will they use a car to go to work?

      — For UCD students who live at Nishi, will they use a car to go to their classes?

      — For the occasional visitors to Nishi-located businesses, how will they define “a good road system”? Or will they be happy with an adequate road system that can handle their occasional (or one-time) visit?

      — For the occasional visitors to students living at Nishi, will their visitors predominantly come by car? Their student friends living in Davis or on the campus will probably come by bicycle or on foot just as often as not. Their visits from out-of-town parents and family will probably be car-centric, but here too it will be interesting to see how will those family visitors will define “a good road system”? Will they also be happy with an adequate road system that can handle their occasional (or one-time) visit if it means that the monthly rent for their child’s apartment is lower because of lower infrastructure creation costs?

  3. Frankly

    Davis is a pretty easy place to live and get around without a car. But in every case I can think of, it was an economic choice

    Absolutely.  The percentage of the population that is well-off and car-less is very small.  And I take great offense at this minority pushing of their lifestyle on others.  I appreciate their elevated sense of being and I remain impressed with their accomplishment.  But is THEIR lifestyle choice.

    There are many reasons to own and use a car… and constraining roads and parking to push this minority lifestyle onto others is just a bad idea.  It just creates a mess.

    Frankly (because I am), I see a commonality with the people that claim to be car-less in that they appear to have a lot of free time on their hands… more so than do the average working-adult.   I think there is a criteria of privilege being ignored.   Yes, some residents have made the choice… forgoing a better-paying job/career that demands they commute so they get to live a car-less Davis existence.  But many people don’t have that choice.   With our limited supply of jobs within the city, a very large percentage of our population must commute to and from their work.  And with our limited supply of shopping options, many need a car to shop outside of the community.

    I suggest that instead of artificial parking and road constraints to someone force people to give up their cars, those that want to see fewer cars should focus on improving our supply of jobs, and increasing public transportation options.  And we should absolutely keep working to improve bike access… just not at the expense of people that need to use a car.

    1. darelldd

      Making an area easier to navigate without a car is not the same as forcing a lifestyle on others.

      That said, why is it OK to force us to deal with the danger, inconvenience, congestion, noise and pollution of cars just because so many able-bodied people choose to use cars for their short, in-town trips?

      Those who seek change are “forcing” a lifestyle no more than those who work so hard to maintain the status quo.

      1. Tia Will

        “Forcing a lifestyle on others” can take many forms. It is not the one sided portrayal of those who would rather do without cars limiting those who favor them. I would like to provide an example.

        56 years ago in rural Washington my father died. Until that point the four of us had lived frugally and comfortably at the end of a dirt road in the house that my father had built by hand. We had one car which only he could drive and which he used to go to work in Bremerton, a 30 minute drive from our home and which he used sometimes to go to where he could still hunt deer and elk. Game birds were still plentiful within short walking distance from our home. We managed to continue living there  because we could walk to the schools or later the school bus along the unpaved streets which had no side walks. This was largely safe because you could hear a car coming from a long distance, and because of the lack of pavement the cars were forced to go slowly enough that there was plenty of time to allow for road “sharing.” Within a few years however, “gentrification” of our neighborhood began as those who had enough money to build large luxury homes on the surrounding view lots began moving in. They of course insisted upon paving the roads and the city obliged them. Unfortunately, none of these people saw the need for side walks, so these were not built. This take over by the wealthy, with their “every family must have at least two cars lifestyle”, effectively ended the “right to choose” for those of us having grown up with and still favoring the rural lifestyle. The deer, the rabbits, the birds, the berries, that were an integral part of our “choice of how to live” were all gone, in the name of their convenience. Gone was a safe walk to our destinations as fast moving cars became the dominant means of transportation. So much for choice.

        For those of you who see this as “necessary” and “progress” I would remind you that there are those of us who see the transition to a less automobile dependent way of living as both “necessary” and “progress” and feel it is those who will not consider this kind of change for even a very small portion of our housing as those who are standing in the way of change.

      2. darelldd

        Thank you, Tia. The whole idea that going “car free” is a choice, and that somehow driving a car is NOT a choice just mystifies me. And when those who wish to continue prioritizing private automobile transportation because “that’s just how it is, and some people can’t ride a bike,” well, it just gets silly.

        I was in too much of a hurry to post the bit above, and can’t edit now, of course. Here is what it was supposed to say:

        That said, why is it OK to force us to deal with the danger, inconvenience, congestion, noise and pollution of cars just because so many able-bodied people choose to use cars for their short, in-town trips?

        As Tia says, this “forcing” thing takes many forms. And there are too many folks who don’t realize that fighting for the status quo is forcing their chosen lifestyle on others.

        Frankly says:

        And I take great offense at this minority pushing of their lifestyle on others.

        And I take great offense at having to pay for the lifestyle of those able-bodied people who make the choice to drive  a couple of miles into town and “need” parking. I pay for it in real money, in wasted resources, in pollution, congestion and noise. And in reduction of quality of life. OK to force this “lifestyle” on me? I have no choice to live here and not participate in that, do I? (by participate, I do not mean driving. I mean that list that starts with “I pay for it…”)

        1. Barack Palin

          I pay all kinds of taxes for our local schools even though I don’t currently have any children in school, I pay taxes for bike only paths even though I don’t ride a bike very often, I pay all kinds of taxes and fees for things I don’t use, you get my drift?  I don’t use those things but “I pay for it”

        2. darelldd

          I pay all kinds of taxes and fees for things I don’t use, you get my drift?

          I certainly get your drift.

          Which one of these things lowers your quality of life? Which one increases congestion, pollution and noise? Which one inconveniences other’s travel? Which ones endangers our most vulnerable road users?

          I think you missed *my* drift.

          If I wish to optimize intra-city travel by something other than automobile, I’m accused of forcing my lifestyle on others. Yet what is happening today is that the automobile lifestyle is being forced on me. I maybe shouldn’t have emphasized the fact that I’m also subsidizing this thing that is forced upon me.

          Does that make my point more clear?

        3. Barack Palin

          Which one of these things lowers your quality of life? Which one increases congestion, pollution and noise? Which one inconveniences other’s travel? Which ones endangers our most vulnerable road users?

          Actually, automobiles raises my and many other’s quality of life, by being able to get around faster I now have more time to enjoy other things in life.  Yes cars increase congestion, but so do bikes and people, and many times bikes inconvenience my travel, especially in Davis.  I have no problem sharing the road with cyclists, it seems to be you who has a problem sharing the road with autos.

          Darell, didn’t you recently bring our attention to a law that states that bikes have the same rights to roads as cars?  So why now are bikers advocating for new developments in our city where only bikes will be allowed and not cars?  Sounds hypocritical to me.

          1. Matt Williams

            So why now are bikers advocating for new developments in our city where only bikes will be allowed and not cars? Sounds hypocritical to me.

            BP, first, there is no critical mass of people advocating for bikes allowed and not cars. Second, it isn’t bikers alone who are advocating for incentives to reduce the amount of surface area devoted to parking cars at Nishi. Mark West, myself and numerous others have criticized the currently proposed Nishi design for too little density. The biggest impediment to increasing the density of people using the site for work and/or their residence is is the amount of surface area devoted to parking cars at Nishi. That is not hypocritical … but rather a legal/planning reality.

        4. darelldd

          So why now are bikers advocating

          I am not a “biker” any more than you are a driver. Like you, I’m somebody who wishes to get places safely and conveniently.

          If your quality of life is predicated on faster in-town travel, and you base that on the assumption that a car will get you around Davis faster than a bike, then we should maybe consider having a fun door-to-door challenge. I choose to ride a bike in town because I can attend to my errands and return home in *less* time than it takes to drive. But anyway. I clearly will not be swaying your view on this, and have no burning desire to try.

          I’m a resident of Davis. And I, along with many who do not regularly ride for transportation, are seeing the benefits of allowing for comfortable, clean transportation that does not prioritize automobile travel, and parking, and all the costly destruction that comes along with it. If your easy access to high-speed travel in a multi-thousand pound vehicle for short trips trumps air and noise pollution, and constant fighting over parking, and tons more pavement, and danger to other road users – then you and I clearly have different priorities. And different metrics for “quality of life.”

          I would support your label of hypocrite if I were advocating that cars needed to be driving in the gutter, in lanes that are too narrow, dodging garbage and cracks and car doors.  Because what sort of “same rights to roads” is that??

           

  4. DT Businessman

    I’m extremely disappointed to have missed the TEDxSalon due to a last minute family emergency. Thank you, David, for sharing some excerpts and photos with us. It would be great if we could focus some of the discussion here on Bill’s comments from yesterday, which I find very powerful and provide a path to accomplishing great thing. And thank you, Dan, for the welcoming comments yesterday. Great sweater by the way!

     

    PS: Heads up! JumpStart Event, 6:30PM, Wednesday, Sophia’s. I’m really looking forward to the best one yet!

     

    -Michael

  5. Anon

    people believe that going car free is a choice, but why not have a neighborhood that accommodates that choice?

    A neighborhood that allows cars already accommodates the choice of choosing not to have/use a car! Why not allow for choice!

    Pastor Bill argued the biggest challenge for cities and organizations “is changing the mantra from avoid failure at all costs to fail fast, fail often, fail forward.” He argued that this was the biggest challenge because from a young age we have been taught that failing means lack of success. “The reality is that failure is the only way that we learn,” he said.”

    Success comes to those who fall or fail, but can pick themselves up, rise above their mistakes, learn from those mistakes, and move on to better things.  Success very often does not come to those who endeavor to be “perfect”, because perfection is never achievable.

    1. Miwok

      Strive for excellence, not perfection.H. Jackson Brown Jr., O Magazine, December 2003

      I think Davis has been an Excellent city to live and work, except when they try social engineering. There is not a lot of room for people who live an alternate lifestyle. They just keep trying to sell more expensive housing in smaller spaces.

      1. Davis Progressive

        i saw a photo yesterday, forget where, it was of a $750,000 home in manhattan.  i think we would call it a studio.  luckily we’re not there, but still.

    2. Davis Progressive

      “A neighborhood that allows cars already accommodates the choice of choosing not to have/use a car! ”

      i think you’re wrong.  a peripheral subdivision, three miles from campus and a long walk from the bus lines doesn’t accommodate much choice in whether or not to have a car.  the other aspect of this is the circulation issue that moving cars into and out of nishi will create.  i’ve talked to a number of my progressive friends – they all would be reluctant to vote for nishi because they are concerned about congestion on richards – they all said they would vote for if it were carless.

        1. Davis Progressive

          of course.  but that wasn’t necessary to my point which was that if you want to find ways to get nishi through a measure r vote, taking the traffic issue off the table is a good one.

    3. darelldd

      A neighborhood that allows cars already accommodates the choice of choosing not to have/use a car! Why not allow for choice!

      Quite true. Yet, a neighborhood that facilitates the use of cars removes the choice of having comfortable cycling and walking. It removes the choice of not having wide, paved roads and the paved parking that comes along with it. It removes the choice of not having oil-dripping, exhaust-spewing, multi-ton vehicles prowling the neighborhood. In the extreme, allowing for cars removes the choice of living somewhere without cars.

      Today we bend over backwards to allow the choice of driving a car into downtown. And that quite simply removes my choice of having a downtown that is not dominated by private automobiles.

      Why do I say that facilitating car travel removes the choice of comfortable *other* alternatives? Just ask any parent why they think it is unsafe for their child to ride to school in Davis. It is because of the danger posed by the cars on the road.

      1. Don Shor

        It removes the choice of not having oil-dripping, exhaust-spewing, multi-ton vehicles prowling the neighborhood.

        Again: many cars nowadays are hybrids or EV’s. As you know. And I think it’s safe to assume that the percentage of cars in those categories will increase as the years go by.

        1. darelldd

          Well, sure. That’s a bit of a tangent, though. I suppose I shouldn’t have stopped my list at oil and exhaust (and of course I didn’t… I at least included “heavy.”). Cars are still enormous for what we get out of them. On my street alone there is a Hummer, an Escalade  and a Range Rover that each commute (single occupant) to downtown Davis several times per day. Private automobiles still use tons of materials to move our little bags of protoplasm. Hybrids still burn liquid fuel. And the resources needed to build and maintain any automobile is orders of magnitudes higher than many of our alternatives. And then there’s that safety aspect that I mentioned elsewhere in these comments. Cars scare the parents of kids on bikes. Simple as that.

          Here:

          It removes the choice of *not* having automobiles prowling the neighborhood. Even if they’re powered by sunshine.

          Yes, I have a love-hate relationship with EVs. Its complicated.  🙂

  6. Tia Will

    Miwok

    “I think Davis has been an Excellent city to live and work, except when they try social engineering. There is not a lot of room for people who live an alternate lifestyle. They just keep trying to sell more expensive housing in smaller spaces.”

    I am unclear who you are referencing with the “they”s in this paragraph. Who do you see as doing “social engineering” ? Is this a reference to the city leaders or citizens who vote for their preferences by measures such as R ? Who is the “they” who just keep trying to sell more expensive housing in smaller spaces ” ?  Is this a reference to the developers for their profit motive, or to the city leaders in promotion of increased density ?

      1. Miwok

        Tia and Anon:

        I will go with, first, YOU, who want another place being developed to be completely different than YOUR neighborhood.

        Second I will go with the City, who sees something to inflict on new residences or developers to maximize income to the City. Social Engineering is when a City like Davis tries to engineer conformity at the expense of Innovation or lifestyles.

        You are saying “we can build this” and “here is the people we expect to inhabit it”. Maybe a different word than “Social Engineering is necessary? I appreciate your comments. Good questions.

          1. Matt Williams

            BP, wouldn’t it be more accurate as follows, “Or one might say we can build this but if you own a car and want to park it or use it there yit will cost you an incremental/additional monthly fee.”

        1. Davis Progressive

          that’s kind of a strange point.  so i can’t advocate for affordable housing since i don’t need affordable housing?  i can’t advocate for a co-op because i don’t live in a co-op?

          there was a stage of my life where a high density, student housing facility with no cars would be ideal for me.  now it’s ideal for people by kids age.  why is it so wrong to provide housing for people who aren’t in my station in life at this time?

        2. Miwok

          Yay, DP wins the prize!!

          Just because you “were once” there, that gives you empathy for what for you was a temporary station in life. It does not give you license to speak FOR them.

          Just as the $15 an hour “minimum wage”, when people make a living at it or are satisfied with their condition, you must plan for people who get there and never progress past it. They stall, for one reason or another.

          My economics don’t make sense for the way I live, but I will never live in another apartment. The people who live there and raise families, I have to understand why, and the fact it is not a “station in life” for them. They raise their families there.If you spend 20 years in a minimum wage job, why pay you more? Why aren’t they a manager or owner of a franchise? I attribute that to the owners not giving recognition or promotions or even training to help them.

          But then, for some people, prison is a step up from where they came from. That is why some go back so often.

        3. Davis Progressive

          you sidestepped the point – why can’t someone advocate for a project that they would never, could never live in?  you completely dodged that.

        4. darelldd

          Davis Progressive wrote:

           so i can’t advocate for affordable housing since i don’t need affordable housing?  i can’t advocate for a co-op because i don’t live in a co-op?

          Clearly there are those folks here who affix the label “social engineering” to anything that they don’t wish to see happen. And you forgot a big one… you aren’t supposed to even advocate for things you ARE a part of… provided you are in a minority.

          See (paraphrasing) “The carless minority should not be forcing a lifestyle on us” from Frankly.

          So no – you can’t advocate for something you aren’t part of, and you can’t advocate for something you ARE part of. The way things are right now is exactly how they’re meant to be. How they *should* be.

          Let the “free market” sort it all out.  :sigh:

          While we’re on “social engineering.” let’s get rid of all of our laws. I’m tired of stopping at traffic lights and only going 65 mph. Somebody is sure forcing their lifestyle on me! There oughtta be a law.

        5. Frankly

          While we’re on “social engineering.” let’s get rid of all of our laws. I’m tired of stopping at traffic lights and only going 65 mph. Somebody is sure forcing their lifestyle on me! There oughtta be a law.

          So you are equating laws to prevent traffic accidents to new rules forcing people to go car-less to saving the environment.  Now we know why the theories of global warming are so politicized… it creates a marvelous sea of justification for a minority of activists to control the lives of everyone else.

        6. darelldd

          Frankly –

          If you feel that our traffic laws are primarily to prevent traffic accidents, you need to research further.

          If safety is what you want, join me in advocating for 15 mph speed limit in all of Davis. Every single user of the road will be safer. And you will then soon realize that most of our choices are predicated on convenience. Mostly convenience for drivers.

          Nice tangent though! Good use of my flippant comment to generate yet another opportunity to call folks you don’t agree with, “minority of activists to control the lives of everyone else” even though you had to leap your logic even further for this one.  I don’t think I could ever hear that concept enough. If nothing else, I do enjoy your consistency.

  7. Tia Will

    Miwok

    I will go with, first, YOU, who want another place being developed to be completely different than YOUR neighborhood.”

    I doubt that you know what my neighborhood is like. So I will be happy to share. We are a very mixed neighborhood. On the corners that frame the entry to our street are three student housing cooperatives. Car ownership is not universal there. Biking is probably the most common form of transportation. Next are primarily student occupied apartments on both sides of the street. A mix of bikes and cars with the latter mostly owned by the older folks in one of the apartment complexes. These are followed by about 5 single family homes on each side of the street with a mix of occupations. Some folks work in town, some commute. There is a mix of walking, bike riding, motorcycle riding, train taking and individual car usage depending on the day of the week. There are a number of us who choose to walk or bike exclusively when going to the co-op or downtown due to our proximity. So how, was my statement advocating for the development of “something completely different than YOUR neighborhood”, unless of course you were referencing only Anon whose site of residence I do not know ?

    I chose my neighborhood precisely because it is mixed and not so car dependent. Had I not just purchased my downsized home within the past 4 years, and were Nishi being considered as a non car dependent community with extra charge if you want to have a car, I can guarantee you that I would be considering a purchase there if non students would be allowed. By the time it is built, I will likely be retired and thus almost completely car independent .

     

  8. Tia Will

    Today we bend over backwards to allow the choice of driving a car into downtown. And that quite simply removes my choice of having a downtown that is not dominated by private automobiles.”

    Anon asks what on the surface is a reasonable question. Why not allow choice ? With regard to the private automobile, I would say that we have gone so far in favor of this “choice” as to essential eliminate all others.

    1. The amount of money that we have chosen to put into roads and their constant need for maintenance has effectively destroyed the choices of those who would have preferred rail or perhaps the development of other technologies.

    2. The choice to pave over land has in the past ( as in my example of paved over habitat for wild life) taken away the choices to harvest and capture one’s own food. Thus the “choice” to have paved roads destroyed my “choice” to live rurally and ultimately forced my mom and I into an urban studio where we lived together for three years because that was all we could afford. While this is of course no longer true of Davis where essentially no one hunts or gathers, what is being ignored is that every demanded parking lot and parking structure takes away my choice to have that space dedicated to some other purpose such as shops, or a park or some other use.

    3. The choice of the private automobile is as Darlidd has pointed out is not a safe choice for the non car preferring populace. My preference is to walk. For me to walk to work from the North side of the tracks to the South is not a  safe choice. I have three choices. I can walk along partially unpaved strips along second street to the over cross near Sudwerk. Not very safe since there is no crosswalk along second within two blocks.

    I can use the Richards under pass. Definitely not safe as I have to negotiate the freeway off ramp which is unmetered and nearly blind at one point, and at which you cannot clearly hear a car approaching due to the freeway noise from the remainder of the cars on the freeway.

    So my “choice” has largely been eliminated, once again by those who prefer the private automobile.  I am at a loss as to how you can feel that your preferred means of transport is being threatened ( in even the tiny way represented by Nishi )when it has been the dominant mode eliminating entire lifestyles for the past 60 + years.

    And yes, Don, I acknowledge your point about hybrids and the like. However, this does not stop the dominance of the automobile with the deleterious and dangerous effects that Darlidd and I have already pointed out.

    1. darelldd

      I am at a loss as to how you can feel that your preferred means of transport is being threatened ( in even the tiny way represented by Nishi )when it has been the dominant mode eliminating entire lifestyles for the past 60 + years.

      I just need to highlight this. I should just paste it into every one of my replies instead of wasting all my time!

      Thank you for your insight, Tia.

      1. Matt Williams

        I would go a step further Darell … and ask the person how often in the next 10 years they expect they will have to or want to drive their automobile onto the Nishi property.

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