Monday Morning Thoughts: Mayors For Freedom to Marry; CFDs and Parcel Taxes; Innovative Communities

Marriage Equality Protest in Central Park from 2010
Marriage Equality Protest in Central Park from 2010

Will Davis Join Mayors for Freedom to Marry?

According to the staff report, Mayor Wolk received a request from the co-chairs of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, a group of mayors across the country who are supportive of same-sex marriage. The mayor was asked if the city of Davis would support an amicus brief (a brief filed with the court by someone who is not a party to the case) concerning the freedom to marry, in advance of the US Supreme Court considering the issue this term – which may well legalize same-sex marriages across the nation.

The Mayors for the Freedom to Marry are “hopeful that the Court will affirm the freedom to marry nationwide and bring the country to the national resolution for which the group has advocated.”

“The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office is drafting a friend-of-the-court brief and plans to submit it to the US Supreme Court. This brief should be available by February 20 for review, with a deadline to sign of March 2,” staff writes.

The brief will explain to the Court the harm to families and communities resulting from marriage discrimination, including:

  • Harm to citizens’ health and welfare
  • Impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of local governments as employers
  • Costs to businesses, including loss of tourism revenue

“The amicus, as described, meets with current city policy; the City of Davis has long supported same-sex marriage, most recently with Resolution 13-115: Resolution Reaffirming Support for Same Sex Marriage,” staff writes.

Staff also notes that there would be a “minimal cost” for the city attorney to submit the necessary forms in order to sign the brief, and the cost would be contained within existing budget.


What Impact Will a CFD Have on a Parcel Tax?

Results of Measure A show Mace Ranch opposing the Measure which passed 67.2 to 32.8, narrow exceeding the two-thirds threshold.
Results of Measure A show Mace Ranch opposing the Measure which passed 67.2 to 32.8, narrow exceeding the two-thirds threshold.

Assuming that the city can avoid the problems that ultimately doomed the Mace Ranch Mello-Roos issue, where the neighborhood was perceived to be paying for amenities that were community assets, most believe that a CFD would less transfer the costs onto the residents than create an upfront cash flow that would enable community assets and infrastructure to be placed into the agreement in advance.

However, there are pitfalls.

Mark Northcross, the city’s financial adviser, back in October said about the Cannery, “My guess is, it’s going to be a minimum $1500 per house, that’s twice as high as any other tax in Davis. By any standards of other cities in California that’s very reasonable, BUT, it’s going to be a lot more than any other house in Davis that’s paying a CFD.”

“If we’re going to cross that bridge, we need to be conscious that we’re doing it,” he stated.

In Mace Ranch, the fairness question “came down to why are we who bought homes in the newer parts of Davis going to be paying for $44 million in public improvements and not the rest of the community. Why is it landing on us?”

Assuming that the council can avoid these issues this time around, the $1500 per house per year Mello-Roos might be a cause for concern. Part of the problem is that there is a trade off at the beginning where the residents pay less for their homes but more in the form of taxes later.

Even though the resident will likely have a lower mortgage payment, the higher tax payment comes with a cost to the community. The perception to the voter will be that they are already paying higher taxes than the rest of the community and so when it comes time to vote for parcel taxes and bond measures they are more likely to vote against them.

The danger that the council should at least weigh, as it makes its decision on Tuesday on Cannery, is the possible impact on the parcel taxes. Obviously, Cannery will not be built in time to make a difference when the current school parcel taxes are renewed in 2016, or if the city ends up putting a tax measure on the ballot.

But locally, the school district does rely heavily on parcel taxes.

In fact, the past results on tax measures is notable. Measure O passed citywide at 58.9 percent but it failed in several of the precincts that make up Mace Ranch. On the school parcel taxes, Measure E (November 2012) failed in several of the precincts. Measure C (March 2012) passed in Mace Ranch, but Measure A, which narrowly passed citywide, failed.

The impact of Mace Ranch was not enough to cause any of the elections to fail district-wide, and Cannery will be considerably smaller than Mace Ranch, but in a close election, adding residents that may be less likely to pass tax measures could be decisive.


Rendering of Helsinki in 2050
Rendering of Helsinki in 2050

Innovative Communities

Back in January we had extensive discussions about some innovative design features of Nishi that we suggested that the city, university and developers look at, including high-density designs with limited automobile access – or even a carless development.

Along similar lines, we see an article on the future of Helsinki in 2050. Helsinki expected to add around 250,000 new residents by 2050, but, while the “city and its suburbs are growing, but so is its vision for dense, walkable neighborhoods and car-free transit. It’s a model for the future of urban smart growth.”

Forgot about the differences between Davis and Helsinki – they are notable and obvious. What I would like you to focus on is two things: the vision, and the fact that Helsinki is seen as the model for future urban smart growth.

The article notes, “Helsinki already ranks as one of the world’s most livable cities, but by 2050, it may top the list, especially as other cities struggle to figure out how to accommodate swelling populations in limited space.”

“Over the next few decades, Helsinki expects to add around 250,000 new residents. But the more the population grows, the fewer cars will be on city streets as Helsinki transforms itself into a network of dense, walkable neighborhoods that are virtually car-free,” the article continues. “Right now, like many cities, Helsinki has a compact urban core linked to far-flung suburbs by expressways. As the city grows, each suburb will change into a mini-urban center surrounding tram or rail stations.”

“Even though the city population grows, the use of the private car should not rise,” says Rikhard Manninen, director of the Strategic Urban Planning Division for the city. “Key to achieving this goal is improving public transport, densifying existing areas, and expanding the inner city.”

What do they envision? “Helsinki envisions its busy expressways becoming boulevards lined with new housing, sidewalk cafes, bike lanes, and trams and buses. Residents will run everyday errands on foot or by bike; the city hopes that homes, businesses, schools, and stores will all be close enough together that many people might not even have to commute anymore.”

They are looking to an expanded network of tram and metro station to connect the entire city. They are looking at new services, “like a “mobility on demand” app that the city is already beginning to test, will make it simple to call up a bus, taxi, or shared car or bike, exactly when someone needs it.”

On a smaller scale we argued that people could like a relatively car-free existence in Nishi, close to the university, the downtown and key amenities. When the need arises, a shared car or bike could be used.

“Helsinki is described as a green network city,” says Mr. Manninen. “We, for instance, have five ‘green fingers’ running through the city from sea to surrounding forest network. Most of the new development will be located on brownfield areas, residential areas, and on transforming motorway corridors.”

As we have noted many times, Davis has gone from the innovative city of bike lanes and Village Homes to a community that has rested on its laurels of 30 to 40 years ago. Creating a new and innovative future does not mean we emulate other communities, but rather that we forge our path, break out of our box, and create a future that we can all be excited about.

—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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103 Comments

  1. Tia Will

    I find the invitation to join the amicus brief regarding the right to marry very timely. We have been having an ongoing conversation regarding inclusivity and non discrimination on the Vanguard recently. I think that this would be a wonderful way to reaffirm to the members of our LGBT community that we are all equals in our community.

    1. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > I find the invitation to join the amicus brief regarding the right to marry very timely. 

      As most people know I am for equal rights for EVERYONE, but it seems like every time a small town mayor “takes a stand” on something they have no control over (say getting US companies out of South Africa or banning Nuclear Weapons) they end up spending a lot of time talking about the issues they have no control over and less time working on the issues they do have control over (say fixing roads, improving parks).  I’m also for free speech so I’m not going to tell the mayor what to do I just hope someone reminds him that if he “takes a stand” on the marriage issue (or Israel bulldozing homes) he will end up spending a lot of time talking about those issues and less time working on city issues…

       

      1. Davis Progressive

        i guess it depends on how you view amicus briefs.  it’s not like this is a resolution, there is actually a role for amicus briefs, granted they start quickly amounting to “me too.”

      2. Tia Will

        South of Davis

        I agree with you on issues on which the Mayor’s opinion has absolutely no impact. I see equality in our community, our state, and our nation as something that is very relevant to a mayor’s position within our community. Marriage equality is a home front, not a remote issue.

    2. hpierce

      The Federal courts have already spoken as to California, despite a vote of the people.  I see no reason to have Davis speak out on a matter that has already been decided for all its residents.  Unless of course the purpose is to rub noses into the ground for those who did not support the decisions handed down by the Courts.  It will however, be interesting to see if it comes off consent calendar, for those of those who 100% supported it to rub folk’s noses into it.  I’m betting it will be (excusing the expression) a “love fest”.

      1. Tia Will

        hpierce

        I do not see this as nose rubbing. I see it as an affirmation of the belief that  California got this right. Just because an action has been taken by a higher governmental power does not mean that there is universal agreement with that decision.

        Using a more dramatic example, the decision was made by a much greater power than myself, namely President Bush, to invade Iraq. That did not stop me from frequently, loudly, and in many different venues expressing my disagreement with this action. Likewise, I do not see it as “nose rubbing” to express agreement with current policy, especially with regard to an issue that remains controversial.

    3. zaqzaq

      Every time I hit a pot hole in the road it reminds me that our city council has yet to find the money for the needed repairs.  Any expenditure, to include the filing fee and time to discuss the request, is a drain on existing resources better spent on current needs.  The same goes for the MRAP.  When I hear a city council member talking about purchasing a $350,000 Bearcat for the police department when the $6,000 MRAP would have met the needs at a much lower cost I wonder do they get it?  At some point they will need to ask for a parcel tax to pay for the roads.  When they waste resources or display an attitude that we have the money for these things like the fee for the amicus brief when the money can be better spent elsewhere I become less inclined to trust them on the parcel tax.

  2. South of Davis

    David wrote:

    > the higher tax payment comes with a cost to the community.

    > The perception to the voter will be that they are already paying

    > higher taxes than the rest of the community and so when it

    > comes time to vote for parcel taxes and bond measures they

    > are more likely to vote against them.

    Using this logic why not make all the small business in Davis pay the sales tax and charge higher prices so people don’t have the “perception” of paying higher taxes and are more likely to vote to raise the sales tax yet again?

      1. South of Davis

        David wrote:

        > Because a sales tax isn’t a $1500 fee.

        Many people pay MORE than $1,500/year in sales tax (just about everyone with a long commute who buys a lot of gas and just about anyone who buys a new car)…

        1. Davis Progressive

          there is a difference between adding 7 or 8 percent to your purchase and plopping down a $1500 lump sum at the end of the year and wondering if you might not want to pay more.

        2. South of Davis

          DP wrote:

          > there is a difference between adding 7 or 8 percent to your purchase

          We now add 8.5% for every purchase in Davis (the sales tax is OVER 10% in some Southern California cities).

          > plopping down a $1500 lump sum at the end of the year 

          From what I have heard the CFD will be paid in two installments per year along with the property taxes.  Have you heard the Cannery developer asking for payment of “a $1500 lump sum at the end of the year”?

  3. Tia Will

    A car free core, or car free neighborhood  and mobility on demand are innovations that I  would readily support. This represents a healthier lifestyle, promotes longevity, promises a cleaner environment, and ultimately more free time if commuting is reduced. This is anything but regressive and could be a start in moving us towards less dependence on a fuel based transportation system. I suggest that anyone who promotes innovation give this concept a serious look.

     

    1. Davis Progressive

      i agree.  i’m surprised that we have not had more discussion of true innovative future planning along these lines.  if dan wolk really wants to “renew davis,” he should look at these type of things.  that would renew the progressive davis.

    2. Frankly

      A car free core, or car free neighborhood  and mobility on demand are innovations that I  would readily support. This represents a healthier lifestyle, promotes longevity, promises a cleaner environment, and ultimately more free time if commuting is reduced. This is anything but regressive and could be a start in moving us towards less dependence on a fuel based transportation system. I suggest that anyone who promotes innovation give this concept a serious look.

      This is a non-nonsensical utopian view unless you can figure out a way to get everyone living close to where they work, and most of the retail and other services required are also close to where they work.

      And from studies, people living in urban areas where they cannot afford a car and have to use public transportation, report greater levels of life stress.

      Sometimes I think you are not able to step outside of your own privileged existence and calculate the realities for how other people live and must live.  I’m fine with progressive utopian ideas but they need include practicality of implementation.  Just throwing up ideas and preferences lacking practical implementation is not helpful.

      1. DavisBurns

        I agree.  A new subdivision has to pay for its new infrastructure but the additional residents increase the use of the roads, parks and every community service.  At some point the additional numbers means we can’t just accommodate them with longer lines and less access.  We have to build new facilities like the library which is at capacity and add additional employees.  They will be hard pressed to understand that they have to pay for the additional services and the question of fairness will surface again.

  4. SODA

    As far as CFD, again what are the options for the CC?

    If they vote it down, then what?

    Again, it seems like the cart before the horse and that horse is waaaay out of the barn. A developer can ‘sell’ fancy amenities to a CC to get the project approved and then expect the city not them to pay.  What is the net revenue for the city if these fees are taken into account?  I know I am being simplistic and hope hpierce is kind this morning.

    I do’t remember any discussion of the CC about how the amenities would be paid when the project was discussed.

    Also, I saw that New Homes has selected a builder to build a large number of the houses; is that selection only made by them? Is there any oversight as to quality ?

    1. South of Davis

      SODA wrote:

      > I saw that New Homes has selected a builder to build a large number of the houses

      Who is the builder?

      I rode by the Cannery yesterday and was surprised to see that they already have a building on the site framed up…

      1. SODA

        From the web site and Enterprise:

        “The Cannery developers announced recently they had selected Shea Homes, the largest privately held home builder in the nation, as a builder for 120 houses in two neighborhoods at the 547-unit mixed-use development.”

         

        I don’t mean to be critical, but how innovative is Shea Homes? Someone feel free to make me eat crow (ugh!)

          1. Matt Williams

            DP, four questions …

            (1) When it comes to housing, what is “innovative”?

            (2) Is 100% of the residential units having 1.5 kw of solar each “not innnovative”?

            (3) Is New Home’s approach to universal design “not innnovative”?

            (2) Is inclusion of the Center for Land-based Learning’s urban farm “not innnovative”?

        1. Anon

          DP: “none of cannery is innovative

          You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but I am certainly free to disagree with it!  The Cannery won an award for its innovative style of Universal Design; urban farms.

        2. DavisBurns

          The Cannery houses should last 50 to 100 years.  It should be built for the future we anticipate.  Where are the roof top water collection systems and the buried cisterns to hold the water?  Just one example.  In fact, we may be facing a ten year drought.  That isn’t even building for the future, it’s building for current conditions.

          1. Matt Williams

            Rooftop collection and underground cisterns. That is an innovation that hadn’t crossed my mind. Good idea DB. Not expensive either.

        3. South of Davis

          Matt wrote:

          > Rooftop collection and underground cisterns.

          > That is an innovation that hadn’t crossed my mind.

          > Good idea DB. Not expensive either.

          If you do the math just 500 gallons of water weighs about as much as a SUV (construction cost would go WAY up if you wanted to store water on the roof).

          I don’t know many people that want to drink water from an underground tank fed by their rain gutters.  If you are going to only use it for irrigation you will need a separate water system making the plumbing cost go WAY up

          1. Matt Williams

            I don’t know many people that want to drink water from an underground tank fed by their rain gutters.

            The Department of Health would not let anyone drink that water.

      1. Tia Will

        DP

        if council doesn’t vote for it, then the developer has to front the costs themselves and hope to recoup them in houses.”

        Isn’t this precisely the way the “free market” is supposed to work ?  I also am very confused about why this is not simply the risk that the developer takes in this venture. Perhaps Frankly, who is always championing the concept that entrepreneurs, in this case the developer, deserves high rewards because of the risks they are taking. What risk are they taking if the city mitigates the risk for them ?  What rewards will the city obtain from effectively subsidizing the developers risk ?

        hpierce, Frankly, anyone want to take on financing 101 for me ?

        1. hpierce

          I thinks the “risks” have been taken.  What we see now is trying to either mitigate the risks, or cash in at a high profit.  I don’t believe that the builders will sell product for much, if any less one way or the other.  Might be different if there was a similarly sized project currently in play.  I’m not a “finance” person (just ask my spouse).  I kinda get the big picture, but can’t drill down to details well.

        2. DavisBurns

          As I understand it, the city will get more money up front if they approve the CFD.  If the price of the houses is higher, the buyer finances a larger mortgage which may price some people out of the market (but the cost to live in the house is the same).  The builder promised amenities to get the project passed.  They have to pay for it one way or another.  Either they charge more for the houses and re-coup the costs that way or they do a CFD, get a chunk of change upfront which makes their lender happy and maybe makes the city happy.  The fallout is the homeowners pay a bigger tax bill every year which makes them much less inclined to vote to increase their taxes which can prevent the whole community from benefiting from increased taxes.

          I don’t think the builder is taking any risk either way.  Because the builders are asking for the CDF, I assume they benefit from it because they have to leverage less money.  IMO the community suffers from the CDF in the long run.  The city benefits in the short run and I don’t see this city council as taking the long view.

          The bottom line is the builders will not lose any money either way.  The home buyers will pay for all those costs either way.  The city will get the same amount of money but risk the ability to raise money in the future.  The monkey is the net present value of the money.

        3. hpierce

          Davis Burns 1:34 post:  “As I understand it, the city will get more money up front if they approve the CFD.”  If true, even another reason not to approve a CFD.  If the purchase price is 15-20% less than it would be without a CFD, that purchase price is locked in under Prop 13, for the buyer.  The City would be behind the curve even faster, looking at revenue/costs.  That would be perpetual, given a lower market value knowing that the CFD payments needed to be made. Folks in Mace Ranch, I’m told,paid ~ $100/SF, while similar homes went for ~$125/SF (1995+/- reference point).

    2. DavisBurns

      If the CC votes it down, then the developer passes the cost on in higher home prices.  The question is, what are the incentives for the CC to vote for the CDF?  David should interview CC and ask that question.

      1. Michelle Millet

        The question is, what are the incentives for the CC to vote for the CFD?

        I would love to hear the answer to this question because I can’t figure how allowing a CFD to be put into place benefits the city, or the home owners  in any way.

  5. wdf1

    Vanguard:

    In Mace Ranch, the fairness question “came down to why are we who bought homes in the newer parts of Davis going to be paying for $44 million in public improvements and not the rest of the community. Why is it landing on us?”

    I think the issue is that any new community has to cover the cost of accommodating added capacity to the school district, whether it be building a new school or adding on to existing schools.  Mace Ranch got Korematsu Elementary and Harper JH.

    1. hpierce

      Semi true… folks in Mace Ranch payed twice… once for upgrading existing facilities (inc both Jr Highs) to accommodate them, and again, for Montgomery (outside their attendance area) and Korematsu.  Many families who had infants when they moved to Mace Ranch ~ 1994 (or subsequently), never had use of either of the “new” elementary schools nor Harper, even though their kids attended Davis schools thru HS.  The district actually tended to favor “old areas” with attending the “new schools”, while the new folk were sent to the oldest schools.  Mace Ranch folk had to send their kids to Valley Oak (unless they had a sib @ Birch Lane).  The District was very “crafty” in that, and also “acquired” the Wildhorse site, at an indirect cost to the Wildhorse folk, with no intention of developing it as a school, but as a free asset for “later”.  This is beginning to play out.

      Your comment is simplistic, misleading, and for most of the original residents of Mace Ranch, flat-out wrong.

      1. DavisBurns

        The CFD pays for more than schools.  It is all infrastructure.  I lived here when all the Mace Ranch stuff was going on but was neck deep in other stuff so all I remember was that it was a problem.  I don’t see how we would NOT have this problem again with the Cannery.

        Regarding schools, I was told the district had the option with the cannery of accepting a one time payment from the builders or opting to collect from the taxpayers on an ongoing basis.  They chose the later so everyone is on the hook for paying for increased school costs.

        1. hpierce

          You didn’t hear me.  The DJUSD has CFD’s for their infrastructure.  City CFD’s do not contribute to DJUSD facilities.

          “The CDF pays for more than schools.  It is all infrastructure.”  see above.  Mace Ranch pays into 2 City CFD’s AND 2 DJUSD CFD’s.

          “They chose the latter so everyone is on the hook for paying for increased school costs.” I’m hoping you mean ‘everyone within the Cannery project’.  If not, I have even a bigger bone to pick with DJUSD, and if they passed up a chance to get one time and/or additional funds from the Cannery project, there is NWIH I’ll ever vote for, and will most likely vigorously campaign against any and all DJUSD assessments whether they be new or continuing.

           

  6. Michelle Millet

    I’m confused, as I understand it the the developer agreed to pay for certain infrastructure/amenities in the developer agreement , and now they are asking to pass theses costs off to people who purchase the houses? How does this benefit anyone but the developer?

    1. Anon

      The possibility of setting up a CFD was in the development agreement.  It could benefit a homeowner that prefers to pay a monthly fee rather than purchase a more expensive home that includes the cost of infrastructure.  That said, I prefer the price of the house to be upfront, so the buyer is fully aware of the “full price” of the house.  Just my gut feeling at the moment.

      1. Michelle Millet

        It could benefit a homeowner that prefers to pay a monthly fee rather than purchase a more expensive home that includes the cost of infrastructure

        A homeowner paying a monthly fee to cover costs that the developer agreed to pay benefits the developer. A homeowner paying a corresponding amount for the price of the home benefits the community, as the owner will pay more in property taxes.

        Add to that the fact the Mello-Roos fees are not tax deductible. This negatively impacts the homeowner paying them.

        Seems like the only party to benefit from setting up a CFD is the developer.

        1. DavisBurns

          The way it works is whatever the builder builds the homeowner pays for.  The builder wants to provide as many goodies as he can to get the city to like the project.  Those same amenities are used as selling points for the project.  But the home buyer is not just paying for her house.  She is paying for a portion of the streets, lights, urban farms and parks.  It is all part of the cost of the house.  The builder wants to price the house low enough to sell but won’t sell it at a loss.  Every amenity is a part of the builder’s cost and gets passed on to the buyer.

          You can make this more complicated but basically this is the way it works.  I personally don’t think anyone building a project in Davis is taking a risk.  They will recoup their money and make a nice profit.

      2. hpierce

        Think about what you just said, Anon… if, as was my experience, at the end of the day, over a thirty year mortgage, it is a “wash” (except this CFD has a 40 year “mortgage” tied to it), then whether you paid it monthly thru your mortgage, or set aside the difference to pay the increment of your property tax, you’re paying the same.  Only someone who doesn’t understand math and interest rates would choose a 40 year, variable rate mortgage, over a 20-30 fixed rate mortgage.  Particularly at today’s rates.

    2. South of Davis

      If someone opens a coffee shop in town and agrees to pay for a bike rack out front and they pay for it why do you care HOW they pay for it (sell their bike, sell their comic collection, charge $0.05 more lattes or put a “donate for the bike rack” jar next to the “tip jar”)?

      1. Michelle Millet

        When the HOW could negatively impact the city’s ability to pass a parcel taxes to pay for basic infrastructure like road repairs I care.

        There is also the point made by hpierce:

        Forgot to mention another negative possibility… the CFD requires the issuance of bonds [thanks for reminding me SODA] and may well affect the City’s bonding capacity for other things the City might need), and or increase the interest rate due to increased risk.  But perhaps some would like to see Davis emulat

        Again its seem likes the only party a CFD benefits is the developer.

  7. Tia Will

    DP

    none of cannery is innovative.  we were sold out by council on that.”

    I largely agree with your first statement. I have a different perspective on the second. What I feel that the city was “sold out” by was individual interest groups within the community bargaining separately with the developer for their specific desired change and being willing to support the developer if their particular specification was met. The council then was faced with having to stand up to the developer without the backing of these groups. Bear in mind that this came down to a 3-2 vote in the end.

    We used to be a community that welcomed true innovation and being on the leading edge of environmentally sound planning. We have now seemingly given way to defining change only in terms of economically driven ventures in our community and are happy to emulate models that have been in existence in other communities for many years and call them “innovation” just because they would be new to us. I would like to see Davis once again embrace a leadership role in true innovation, not merely adopting financial models that are aging now even in the communities that started them.

    1. Anon

      Whose vision of “innovative” are we talking about?  You and I certainly don’t agree on what is “truly innovative” or even what is desirable in a housing development.

    2. Matt Williams

      I have a different perspective on the second. What I feel that the city was “sold out” by was individual interest groups within the community bargaining separately with the developer for their specific desired change and being willing to support the developer if their particular specification was met. The council then was faced with having to stand up to the developer without the backing of these groups. Bear in mind that this came down to a 3-2 vote in the end.

      I share Tia’s perspective.

  8. hpierce

    Another view:

    A couple of friends disclosed their tax rates to me, to share, as they are also opposed to more CFD’s.  One owns a home bought ~35 years ago, for just under 75 k, the other bought a home ~ 20 years ago, in Mace Ranch for just under 250 k. Both have fixed incomes.  Neither have school age children.

    The first pays ~ $2,200 a year in property taxes/assessments.  Of that, ~$1,250 is the “base tax” (~57%)[much of which, currently goes to the State, and then to the schools].  Between The DJUSD 2000 bond, the DJUSD Measure C, DJUSD Measure E, & DJUSD CFD1, that totals ~ $755, or ~ 34% of the total property tax bill.  The DJUSD CFD alone is ~ 9% of the total tax bill.  Also another 5% of the tax  bill goes to Los Rios Schools [JC] & Library (combined).  By contrast, between the City’s assessments (landscape and open space) together amount to ~ 3.5% of the total tax bill.

    The second pays ~ $5,700 a year.  Of that, ~$3,360 is the “base tax” (~59%)[much of which, currently goes to the State, and then to the schools].  Between The DJUSD 2000 bond, the DJUSD Measure C, DJUSD Measure E, & DJUSD CFD 1 AND CFD 2, that totals ~ $1387, or ~ 24.5% of the total property tax bill.  The DJUSD CFD’s alone are ~ 9% of the total tax bill.  Also another ~2.5% of the tax  bill goes to Los Rios Schools [JC] & Library (combined).  By contrast, between the City’s assessments (landscape and open space) together amount to ~ 2.5% of the total tax bill.

    The second has 2 Davis CFD’s:  one for ‘new development’, and one particular to the “developers'”  CFD.  It appears the proposed CFD is a “blend” of the two Mace Ranch CFD’s, in concept, but there also may be a “city-wide (new development) CFD” as well.  Unclear.  For the Mace Ranch home, the total of the City CFD’s is ~ $725, or ~ 13% of the total bill.

    CFD’s are “funny”:  arguably, a CFD to pay for streets, utility improvements etc., serving the development is not a tax, but an ‘assessment’.  [Note that improvement assessments are not “taxes” [by IRS rules], and may not be eligible for tax deductions, but that is a matter I’m not fully versed in].  This might make the homes cost less, IF market forces keep the “total” costs (acquisition of home + fees/assessment) the same as acquisition price with no fees/assessments.  There is really only one “new home” project in Davis right now. Therefore, if it is a seller’s market, the costs of subdividing the land being transferred to buyers is very likely just a bigger profit for the developer.

    There is also an equity issue.  “Affordable housing” doesn’t pay into the CFD, as currently proposed.  So, if the affordable housing is say, 20% of the housing, the “fair share” of the infrastructure needed to serve that housing becomes the obligation of the “market” rate units.  As will be the “community benefit” improvements that go beyond the actual infrastructure needed to serve the project.

    In Mace Ranch, where there were other housing projects competing in the market, my case 2 owner, with the help of a “finance guy” figured out it was a “push” over the life of the mortgage (30 years, which matched the assessment).  But interest rates on a mortgage were ~ 6.5 % at that time.  Today, if the assessments are not deductible as taxes, and instead added on to the purchase price, at today’s low interest rates, I think I’d choose to pay the additional amount, financed by my mortgage.  At least I’d know that the interest on the mortgage was deductible.

    The assessments proposed are not FIXED, so in the range given in the staff report, they could greatly exceed the $1,500 guesstimate, and will extend 40 years.  So, if a buyer is 30 years old when they buy, they’ll be 70 when those assessments end.

    If there were no CFD,  a buyer would have less risk, less likely to be approved for a mortgage that will end badly for them, and the developer would not be likely to get a windfall product.

    In Mace Ranch, I’m told the developer submitted nearly every invoice for their costs that they wanted the CFD to cover.  CFD’s are limited to paying for the LESSER of cost or value.  To exercise its fiduciary responsibility, City staff was initially overwhelmed by sorting through it all, and eventually, a private firm was brought in to do the ‘heavy lifting’, subject to city review of the criteria used to determine the amounts subject to reimbursement via the CFD.  More costs paid for by the CFD, and ultimately, the homeowners.  In my mind, with all the costs that MIGHT be claimed to fall within the parameters of being funded by the CFD, if approved, I don’t believe anything will be different with the Cannery than with Mace Ranch.  At least one of the Mace Ranch Park consultants has also been working for the Cannery developers, as a project manager, and I can see why.

    Moderator… please note I did not use either the words “ill-informed”, “missing a lot” or “stupid?” , until just now.

    I sincerely hope the CC does not further entertain a CFD, without “A LOT” of consideration, and if they do, they make sure the potential of abuse of the CFD or future blow-back are addressed.  Not to do so would be “ill-informed” and/or “stupid”.

    Darn, used the verboten words again… Moderator/David save me and the readers by banning me from future posts!  It’s physically impossible for me to do the [removed  by moderator] things other [removed by moderator] posters suggested when I last opined on this subject.

    Back on topic… given the size of assessments/taxes paid for the schools, the City and other entities, if I was living in an area subject to CFD’s [and, frankly, I am], I might well support a parcel tax, for the city, at or above the level David seeks for “support” for the Vanguard. I will NOT support any additional parcel taxes for DJUSD until I am convinced that teachers and particularly administrators “take the haircuts” that many demand of other public employees.

    1. SODA

      Before you disappear, hpierce, if the CC votes down the CFD, then what happens?

      The developer is obligated to provide the amenities he agreed to and therefore adds the costs to the homes and there is no bond, no ‘mello roos’?

      Thx.

      1. hpierce

        Basically, correct.  Supposedly, the Developer “pencilled things out” prior to entering into the Development Agreement, and acting on its approvals.  Scary if they didn’t.  The Development agreement only opened the door to City bonds and/or a CFD [Mello-Roos].  Did not oblige the City to cross the threshold (a few alliterations come to mind, but I’m still in the “dog-house”).  Worst case scenario appears to be that the project will be put “on-hold” or if things really get bad, abandons the project.  In either of those worst-case scenarios, just hope the developer is up-to-date on covering City’s processing costs, to date.

        Am guessing that too much money is on the table, with the “only game in town” factor, for the developer to stall or abandon the project.

        Forgot to mention another negative possibility… the CFD requires the issuance of bonds [thanks for reminding me SODA] and may well affect the City’s bonding capacity for other things the City might need), and or increase the interest rate due to increased risk.  But perhaps some would like to see Davis emulate Stockton, to justify drastically cutting City salaries, benefits, pensions, etc.

        1. Michelle Millet

          The developer is obligated to provide the amenities he agreed to and therefore adds the costs to the homes and there is no bond, no ‘mello roos’?

          This is my understanding.

        2. hpierce

          Didn’t word it that way, and not sure if you thought you were “replying” to me, but I strongly believe you are correct.  The only caveat, is what happens when someone “ignores their vows”.  The remedies can be messy/complex.  It is better that the conversation is happening now.  In my opinion, the discussion is over-due.

        1. hpierce

          Interesting dilemma… I don’t feel I can, credibly, without abandoning my “Clark Kent” disguise (no, I have no allusions for being super-whatever)… I do know that at least two, if not three, CC members know who I am.  Gotta think about this.

        2. Tia Will

          I urge you to send it to each council member via email: “

          This may be a moot point as I know that at least 4 members of the city council are regular readers of the Vanguard.

      1. hpierce

        Nuance understood.  Although, I was previously referring to the ‘comment’, not the person, but am pretty sure the poster equated the two, and convinced the referee to throw the flag for a ‘personal’ attack.

      2. Matt Williams

        Don, a lawyer might call that “a difference in name only” but I agree with you that that there is an important distinction, and the lawyer would be wrong … entitled to their opinion, but wrong nonetheless.

    2. DavisBurns

      Thanks for the information.  I’m with you on the CFD.  Better to finance it with your mortgage.  The CFD can last 40 years while I can pay off my mortgage.  Now we need to hear from the city as to any advantage they see with the upfront payment.

    3. wdf1

      hpierce:   I will NOT support any additional parcel taxes for DJUSD until I am convinced that teachers and particularly administrators “take the haircuts” that many demand of other public employees.

      Administrators had a 2% salary cut for a few years.

      1. hpierce

        Yes.  and unless you can cite another link, that 2% cut (which one could imply was 2% per year, over a few years, instead of a 2% cut one year, in the past few years) may have been restored.  http://djusd-ca.schoolloop.com/file/1368364197149/1376109407723/409457316954886862.pdf

        And if they weren’t already at the top level, they got a 5% increase EACH YEAR according to that table.  City employees have a 5 step range.  DJUSD employees, 10 or more.

        What has been demanded of many on this blog for City employees, in particular, whom I was referring to (the posters who advocate this), would take a 5-30% cut in salary, a bigger cut in benefits, and reduction/elimination of pensions and post retirement benefits, like healthcare.  District ‘administrators’ spend much less time on the clock, and adjusted for those hours, make more than a bit more than equivalent City administrators/managers.

         

        1. wdf1

          hpierce:   What has been demanded of many on this blog for City employees, in particular, whom I was referring to (the posters who advocate this), would take a 5-30% cut in salary, a bigger cut in benefits, and reduction/elimination of pensions and post retirement benefits, like healthcare.  District ‘administrators’ spend much less time on the clock, and adjusted for those hours, make more than a bit more than equivalent City administrators/managers.

          I don’t think you’ll find teachers sticking around Davis very readily with that kind of cut.  Nor admins.  Their salaries are generally comparable to those of neighboring districts.

          The district does not control how much to set aside for CalSTRS retirement.  The state controls that.

          How do you determine that district administrators spend less time on the clock than city administrators?  I find many regularly attending multiple evening events/functions per week.

  9. Anon

    Forgot about the differences between Davis and Helsinki – they are notable and obvious. What I would like you to focus on is two things: the vision, and the fact that Helsinki is seen as the model for future urban smart growth…”

    “On a smaller scale we argued that people could like a relatively car-free existence in Nishi, close to the university, the downtown and key amenities. When the need arises, a shared car or bike could be used.”

    You concede Davis and Helsinki are extremely different, then compare them anyway, advocating Nishi head in the direction of Helsinki, and go car-free.

    Secondly, your vision of what is “innovative” (going car-fee) may not be the vision others would like.  As usual, it is all about taking something away (the car, or parking space, or $$ thru parking fees), rather than allowing for options in preference.  Sigh…

    1. hpierce

      [tongue in cheek]  If you were to parse it as Nishi’s current plan should “sink” and those who love it should visit a proverbial hot place, [particularly with an Olive Drive only access] I definitely see a comparison.

        1. hpierce

          Je d’accord.  Meant to “make a funny”, but not at anyone’s expense.  I am strongly opposed to a Nishi plan without primary access to UCD, and/or anything other than bike/ped/emergency access to W Olive Drive.

          I truly hope that a single/primary access from Nishi to W Olive is truly DOA.

    2. Davis Progressive

      i read that portion a bit differently.  i don’t see it as a comparison, i see the essential point is here is something that another community is doing to plan for the future.  we should also make plans for the future.  that’s not a comparison but rather using one place as an example.

      “your vision of what is “innovative” (going car-fee) ”

      it’s not clear that’s his vision.  it is clear that he thinks we have some options in that area.

      1. Anon

        Huh?  It seems pretty clear to me that the Vanguard is advocating for a car-free Nishi.  DG wrote an entire previous article on it, if I remember rightly! Or am I going senile? LOL

        1. David Greenwald

          To clarify my position, I wrote a number of columns last month on Nishi. My goal was to push for conversation. One of the big problems that Nishi faces is connectivity, I therefore attempted to push some possible solutions to that, one of which was the possibility of Nishi as car-free.

    3. Tia Will

      Anon

      You talk about “take aways”, but consistently fail to mention what the installation of the car as the preferred mode of transportation has already “taken away” from those of us who would prefer a safe walking route to all destinations, less noise, less pollution, and less activity in our Emergency Rooms from car related injuries.

  10. Frankly

    I’m guessing from the map that the green area is higher liberal Dem and the red area is less so.

    Which brings up the ongoing interesting topic of left-leaning people more likely to like dense core areas, and right-leaning people wanting a bit of space between them and their neighbor.

    The question I always have… do liberals tend to be more dense, or does being around more density cause people to be more liberal?

    1. hpierce

      What you also need to remember, which David did not choose to point out, is the “red” area includes precincts that voted 66.3% in favor, and some of the green precincts voted only 66.8% in favor.  Information that is technically correct, but completely useless for drawing real conclusions.

  11. Tia Will

    Frankly

    Which brings up the ongoing interesting topic of left-leaning people more likely to like dense core areas, and right-leaning people wanting a bit of space between them and their neighbor.”

    I see this as a valid question which does not take into consideration a bigger picture. The question for me is what we are willing to pay ( not just in economic terms, but holistically ) for our preferred amount of personal space. Are we willing to surrender land that could be used for agricultural purposes or for parking lots, for green belts or for wider streets, for shops, or factories, or for integrative work spaces with places for all endeavors. What is our vision and which aspects of our preferred vision are core to our values and which can be negotiated. I see this is much more complex than just preferring more or less personal space and a questionable relationship between this preference and political ideology. 

    1. David Greenwald

      Sue Greenwald would often talk about the fact that the newer subdivisions attracted wealthier and more conservative people. I think part of it has more to do with who arrived first – the core areas were purchased when real estate was cheap and progressivism was at its core. The outer subdivisions were developed far later and the cost had gone up by that point, drawing more conservative residents. It’s on the margins however if you look at overall voting patterns.

      1. hpierce

        And Sue Greenwald was (in my opinion, and often, factually) SO wrong, on SO many things.  Everything you quoted from her, with any real effort could be demonstrated as wrong/incorrect. Her opinions, as you stated, are not worthy of spending the time (at least my time) to conclusively debunk.

        1. South of Davis

          David wrote:

          > Sue Greenwald would often talk about the fact that the newer subdivisions

          > attracted wealthier and more conservative people.

          Then hpierce wrote:

          > Everything you quoted from her, with any real effort could

          > be demonstrated as wrong/incorrect. 

          I agree with hpierce that Sue was wrong on many things, but she is dead on correct on this.

          Come on, is there even one person in Davis who is going to say the people that live in Lake Alhambra are poorer and more liberal than the people in Village Homes?

          There is not a single “conservative” part of Davis but there are “more conservative” areas and as a whole the newer and more expensive areas tend to be “more conservative” (I see more “War is not the Answer” signs and “Coexist” bumper stickers in the older parts of town)

           

  12. DavisBurns

    As we have noted many times, Davis has gone from the innovative city of bike lanes and Village Homes to a community that has rested on its laurels of 30 to 40 years ago. Creating a new and innovative future does not mean we emulate other communities, but rather that we forge our path, break out of our box, and create a future that we can all be excited about.

    Boy do I agree with this statement.  I just wish the Vanguard would get on board with real innovation and spend 25% of the coverage on innovation parks on the real opportunity we are ignoring right now.  The city council direction on the public power option is so timid, conservative and short sighted I can’t believe it.  Citizens have shown over and over that we support a public utility yet the council wants us to pursue a CCA which is just a buyer’s club.  The only reason I can find is we don’t want PGE to be mad at us.

    We have a fine example of a public utility in SMUD.  They have a democratically elected board of directors.  I lived in Sacramento when we voted to shut down Rancho Seco–a decision that would never have happened under PGE’s rule. It was pretty amazing to have the local control to make and implement that decision. SMUD users pay less for their electricity and SMUD conservation efforts far exceed those of PGE.

    Riverside is a university town much like Davis. RUMD contributes 10% of its revenues of $160 to their city treasury (2000).  This is on going revenue for the city unlike the as yet unbuilt innovation parks which may or may not pan out.  The residents of Riverside pay .10 for tier one electricity while Southern Cal Edison charges .15 for tier one service. The university  buys electricity from the city and works with the city on renewable energy research.  We could do this but we lack leadership with vision for the future.  We are being sold out and I don’t hear a single protest.

     

    1. hpierce

      “Citizens have shown over and over that we support a public utility yet the council wants us to pursue a CCA which is just a buyer’s club.  The only reason I can find is we don’t want PGE to be mad at us.”

      Well, as a “newbie” to Davis (only 40 years+), I’ll offer my comments/opinions. One reason is that the SMUD vote failed (I was [and still am] strongly in favor of going with SMUD)  Even if we had a “do-over”, and voted again, SMUD customers have veto power (excuse the pun),[ and as I recall the polling of current SMUD customers at that time was not favorable] so, right now, the CC is probably just accepting the reality that joining SMUD is just not a happening thing for the immediately foreseeable future.  Glad they are not pursuing a quixotic idea.

      I think forming our own utility, including acquisition of the existing infrastructure, assuming the deferred maintenance costs/liabilities of that infrastructure, hiring the people needed to operate, maintain, and bill for the electricity (I hope you don’t mean NG, too, ’cause that is even a WORSE idea/concept), and then add to that the utility customers (at least the vocal ones) demanding the most “green electricity” regardless of price, I want absolutely no part of that.

      As to PG&E being angry, I’d go with the famous Rhett Butler quote.

      As to even the proposal at hand, I still am very concerned about “the utility customers (at least the vocal ones) demanding the most “green electricity” regardless of price” issue.  But that’s just me.

      1. South of Davis

        I agree 100% with hpierce that it would be great to be part of SMUD (but I don’t see why the people in Sacramento would want us to join them).

        I’m also no fan of PG&E, but unless they “donate” all the stuff they own in Davis to the city I don’t see how anyone expects to have lower prices if we are forced by the courts to pay top dollar to “buy” everything  PG&E owns in town.

  13. dlemongello

    As a realist, I do not think there is any chance of making Nishi car free, so our energy should be spent on the absolute BEST way to deal with cars there.  I have no hesitation though to make it car inconvenient enough to really minimize how many cars go there.  But innovative connectivity is key.  I agree with the concept of Olive Dr. access only for emergency and bike/peds.  And I believe parking should be at a premium.  Make it worth taking public transit and make sure there is public transit to take.

  14. Tia Will

    hpierce

    Ok… so you wouldn’t mind a CC resolution citing Davis support for our past involvement in Iraq. Which by the way I was opposed to.”

    That depends on what you mean by “mind”. Would I agree with it ? No ? Do I think that our elected representatives have the right to make resolutions ? I believe that is part of what we elect them to do. So, would I personally speak out in opposition to it ? Yes. Vociferously and frequently. Would I mind it, meaning deny or oppose their right to do so ? No, I would not.

    1. hpierce

      Fair enough.  I understand where you are coming from, and your logic is consistent.  I guess you and I differ from the standpoint that in my calculus, it will not matter 1/10000 th of an iota, so I’ll again go with the Rhett Butler quote.  This year, next, within 5 years, the legal issue will be moot.  That is obvious.  Other issues/feelings will remain, but they will not be legal ones.

      I hope not 1 cent of staff time went into this farce.

      1. South of Davis

        hpierce wrote:

        > I hope not 1 cent of staff time went into this farce.

        As a long time political observer I’ve noticed that a “LOT” of (taxpayer paid) staff time goes to work on “votes” that do nothing other than take the load off the (campaign paid) staff and help the politician raise money from people that want to ban nukes, get the US out of South America or Save the Whales (or any number of things that the “vote” will not change)…

      2. Tia Will

        hpierce

        This year, next, within 5 years, the legal issue will be moot. “

        This would appear to be another area in which we differ. When there is an instance of injustice in a society, I believe that it is the responsibility of all to call it out and oppose it according to their own beliefs. It is frequently the actions of individuals who in the beginning may believe that their single action cannot possibly make a difference that galvanizes a community or a society into action. We have many examples of this in our own country. Rosa Parks tiny action of refusing to give up her seat became an iconic story that helped to set huge social changes in motion.

        We never know in advance when adding our voice to a controversy may have an impact. In my view it is our individual responsibility to speak up when and where we can to counter the injustices we see. I do not consider this a farce, but rather am in strong support of the Mayor, as our elected representative speaking out and joining forces with others who promote equality. If the Mayor’s participation were to speed the achievement of equality even one iota, then it would have been worth doing in my view.

  15. Alan Miller

    “Forgot about the differences between Davis and Helsinki – they are notable and obvious.”

    I’m not going to forget about the differences.  This idea that public transit will ever be anything decent is ludicrous, and public transit is my passion.  The problem is there is no density, and there never will be in sufficient numbers.  Remember, Unitrans serves one demographic in limited hours and limited dates — students during school.  And accept for a few express buses, Yolobus has barely expanded/changed in decades and runs one somewhat usable non-commute-hour service N and E if you have a lot of time to sit on the bus.  Large improvements would be expensive with limited benefits.  And this idea the so-called innovation parks’ transportation issues could be mitigated with public transit is ludicrous.  Too many people coming from dispersed population points — that is how our valley is.  Maybe a few shuttles from the train station and a diversion of a bus route into the park — that’s about it, and that is only as it approaches full build-out.

    Having said that, if there is ONE opportunity in Davis for a walkable sub-community with car minimization, it is Nishi.  With access to UCD and downtown and car access difficult, this would be the perfect location.  Even if through traffic to UCD were routed through Nishi, the rest of the housing portion could have car access minimized.  The developer would have to believe that there is demand for such a configuration sufficient for development profit.

    1. Tia Will

      Alan

      Unfortunately I agree with your overall assessment of the transportation realities in our region for the foreseeable future. I further agree with you that Nishi does represent such an opportunity and could serve as essentially a local “pilot project” for such a model for other cities. I do have one point of disagreement. I can see the core of downtown as another area which could be gradually converted into a walkable sub-community with limited car and truck access. I see advantages rather than disadvantages to the downtown merchants since taking people out of the cars and onto the streets would bring more people into their shops rather than just running from one shop to their car and leaving. It also might bring back some of the posters who claim that they never go downtown because of what they perceive as  parking problems.

  16. Alan Miller

    David, a couple of weeks ago you split your Monday morning topics.  Today, not two, but three in one.  I much prefer them in more, small bite-sized chunks.  Especially trying to follow the comments.

  17. dlemongello

    “Solar power your pre-wired home”-from the first section of The Cannery/New Home Company website

    “communities in the country. A 1.5K solar system will come standard with every home and residents can upgrade to net zero living with zero energy consumption and zero carbon emissions.” -from the last section of The Cannery/New Home Company website

    What do we make of these 2 statements?

    1. sisterhood

      I don’t live in Davis any longer so I guess I don’t have much reason to comment. But I wish all new homes built there were 100% solar, and I wish there was a one block area downtown that was car free. My last visit to downtown, last autumn during the weekend when students return, was not pleasant. Too many cars and moving vans downtown. Seemed like it took forever to walk around. Also, tried to sit outside close to Watermelon Music. It was a hot, humid day and the car fumes were gross.

  18. Anon

    “The city council direction on the public power option is so timid, conservative and short sighted I can’t believe it.  Citizens have shown over and over that we support a public utility yet the council wants us to pursue a CCA which is just a buyer’s club.  The only reason I can find is we don’t want PGE to be mad at us.”

    The City Council is forming a subcommittee that will look at CCEs, but this will also lay groundwork if the city chooses to go the direction of a POU.  Timing is everything.  The fact of the matter is that with the SMUD defeat, and two huge utility projects (new sewer plant upgrade project; new surface water project) with increased rates coming on line, citizens were not ready for another huge fight over establishing a POU.  However, in 5 years, with the possibility of new innovation parks coming on line that might generate considerably more tax revenue, there may be more appetite to take on the fight w PG&E to set up a CCE or POU. But the discussion has to start now, and will, facilitated by the new CCE Committee.

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