Mayor’s Corner: Affordable Housing and the Arts Alliance

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Councilmember Lucas Frerichs

(Editor’s note: This month, Dan Wolk writes, “For this week’s column, I’ve asked my friend and colleague, Councilmember Lucas Frerichs, to stand in. Enjoy! (And thanks, Lucas!)”)

By Lucas Frerichs

Well, 2015 is already off to a fast start, and spring is definitely on its way, especially with all the daffodils and fruit trees blooming around town. I appreciate Mayor Wolk allowing me to provide an update through his February “Mayor’s Corner” column.

In addition to some of the larger items the City Council has been working on — such as the hiring of a new city manager, the Woodland-Davis surface water project, numerous innovation park proposals and The Cannery infill community — I’m going to provide a brief update about several additional items that we’ve been working on at the City Council level, most of which you’ll be hearing more about in the coming year.

* Affordable housing: At our Jan. 13 meeting, the council voted to revise our municipal code to disallow the counting of accessory dwelling units (ADUs, or “granny flats”) toward satisfying affordable housing requirements.

In addition, on Jan. 20, the City Council awarded a one-acre city-owned affordable housing land dedication site on Hackberry Place in South Davis to the BerryBridge Partners team, led by former Davis Mayor Mike Corbett. It is expected that eight for-sale homes, marketed as workforce housing, will be built there.

The council also has received at least seven individual responses to our request for proposals for the city-owned affordable housing land dedication site on east Fifth Street. We are currently having a financial feasibility analysis performed on each of the proposals, and after that is complete, the full council will examine the proposals in detail and make a decision later in the spring.

* Arts Alliance: We recently heard an item at our Feb. 3 council meeting, where a council subcommittee of Rochelle Swanson and myself, in conjunction with city staff, brought forward an item for full council consideration: the potential creation of a local Arts Alliance.

While the council supported moving forward with staff doing more work on the feasibility of such an arrangement, there is quite a bit more of work to do, including continuing to engage with folks in the Davis arts community. The proposal evolved from several years’ worth of work:

— On May 15, 2012, the City Council stated our intent to establish downtown Davis as a Cultural Arts and Entertainment District. Cultural Arts and Entertainment Districts reflect the unique strengths of their cities and contribute to a creative and innovative environment, and are typically a collaboration of public, private and nonprofit entities.

— On Oct. 30, 2012, the City Council further prioritized the development of the Cultural Arts and Entertainment District with a short-term action item to implement a plan for an Arts and Entertainment District. The plan was to include priority projects/efforts, funding sources, management responsibilities and interaction with UC Davis.

— The city convened a one-day Arts Forum on Feb. 19, 2013, with objectives of establishing better communication and collaboration among the arts groups within the community/campus, and to develop a joint action plan for advancing the Arts and Entertainment District and related efforts.

The Arts Forum and subsequent meetings included people from arts, civic, business and cultural organizations within Davis and Yolo County. In addition to the meetings, city staff did outreach to individuals in community.

— On Sept. 24, 2014, council directed staff to explore funding options for the Alliance, as well as determine an appropriate governance structure, establish funding needs and draft a funding plan. Utilizing initial feedback from participants, staff created three scenarios for an Alliance. (The three scenarios were intended to provide a starting point for discussions.)

They are: 1. Incubate the Alliance through an existing organization. 2. Morph the Civic Arts Commission into an Alliance or 3. Contract with an individual to provide Alliance services. The options were circulated to generate additional feedback, commentary, questions and ideas.

Over time, city staff and members of the council subcommittee determined the best option would be to have the Arts Alliance function as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) and as a subset of an existing entity, i.e., the Yolo County Visitors Bureau.

Numerous priorities for the Arts Alliance were discussed, including:

* Determine parameters of the Cultural Arts and Entertainment District to encompass all parts of the community;

* Continue to enhance the arts presence and arts community in Davis;

* Provide the coordination and nurturing of the arts community;

* Promote and market Davis, including the university, as a must-see arts community;

* Seek funding opportunities;

* Create partnerships;

* Increase tourism and community awareness; and

* Be a point of contact for the City Council and city staff for issues relating to city activities.

We have now tasked staff with next steps for the Arts Alliance, including:

* Working through logistics with City Attorney;

* Subcommittee and community stakeholder conversations;

* Conversations with YCVB;

* Creation of by-laws;

* Creation of MOU with city/YCVB;

* Determine how executive board members and Alliance members are selected;

* Internal city determination as to how maximize potential staff resources; and

* Return to City Council with final articles of incorporation and MOU.

For more information regarding these, or any city-related items, please email me at lucasf@cityofdavis.org or call me at 530-219-6270.

— Lucas Frerichs is a member of the Davis City Council.

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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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12 thoughts on “Mayor’s Corner: Affordable Housing and the Arts Alliance”

  1. zaqzaq

    Instead of the above fluff piece I would prefer that Dan and Lucas take the time to explain their thoughts on the CFD.  Especially how providing $12 million to the developer is in the best interest of the city.  Looking at our roads I wonder how $12 million might address this issue.  Do they think that the CFD will impact the new residents of the Cannery project when voting on parcel taxes?  Much of what Davis provides to its citizens is included in the parcel taxes. Robb Davis wrote out a detailed explanation concerning his vote and responded to reader comments. It is time for Dan and Lucas to man up and provide their thoughts in a similar manner.

    1. hpierce

      Interesting thought… for city projects for infrastructure, 1% of the construction cost was (is?) set aside for “art in public places”.  If the CFD moves forward, arguably public financing of public improvements, will the “arts community” be holding their hands out for that 1% of $12 million?  Nice.

      Might help explain Lucas’ vote. Nah…

    2. Davis Progressive

      i’m of mixed feelings here.  on the one hand, i agree, it would be nice for more substance.  on the other hand, it’s clear these pieces are really information pieces for those who don’t follow council as closely as we do.

      1. zaqzaq

        Not my intention.  Lucas wrote the article in Dan’s spot so I addressed the issue to the two of them.  I would like to get the rationale for the vote from all three.

    3. Matt Williams

      zaqzaq, you appear to be presenting an either/or alternative.  I see value in the information Lucas has shared in this article and while I would like to understand more about the CFD decision process, I don’t think it warrants elimination of the information contained herein.  A both/and approach would be my preference.

      1. zaqzaq

        Matt,

        I am not say there is not value to the information although I would still describe it as a fluff piece.   Instead I see that the CFD as a more controversial issue and would like to see Lucas, Dan and Rochelle explain the rationale behind their vote which I would characterize as a gift to to the developer with no value to the city.

  2. Don Shor

    I would be curious to hear from Dan and Lucas whether they are concerned about the 0.3% apartment vacancy rate, and, if so, what the current council might be doing to address that.

    1. Matt Williams

      Excellent suggestion Don.  Perhaps the Vanguard could run a regular feature . . . Questions Submitted to the Mayor’s Corner  with the submitted questions forwarded on to the Mayor.

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