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?
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.
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