Sunday Commentary II: The Lack of Vision Paradox, Part I

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Innovation-Park-example

In her debut column with the Vanguard, UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi put forth a vision: “UC Davis can spearhead the transformation of our region to take its place as one of the top four regional economies in the state of California alongside Los Angeles, San Diego and the Bay Area. UC Davis as the top Land Grant University and Davis as a signature community in the U.S. and around the world are ready to play a key role in this transformation.”

For the last two years since the city of Davis hired Rob White as Chief Innovation Officer and since Mace 391, we have been having a discussion that, while focusing on the specifics of policy proposals ‒ whether it be Mace 391, the Innovation Parks, Nishi, Cannery, the Urban Farm and others ‒ have focused on the vision of the future of Davis.

One thing that that discussion has been missing, of course, has been the 800 pound gorilla in the room – UC Davis. After several efforts to engage UC Davis failed to connect, it is ironic that a simple and direct email to the chancellor bore fruit. The chancellor, over a series of columns, is going to show a very thorough vision for what the future could look like and the role of the city of Davis.

Where this goes, of course, I cannot predict. However, the vision that the chancellor offers pales in comparison to my growing sense of this, the city of Davis, which I think lacks clear vision and goals.

Instead, what I see is a patchwork of goals and policies that could threaten to undermine this entire endeavor. Mayor Dan Wolk perhaps came closest to this vision with his “Renew Davis” plan, which itself is a vague patchwork of goals from economic development, to investing in infrastructure, clean energy, healthy families, and better partnerships with the region.

On the other hand, we have from the city council guiding principles for development. Back in December, the staff created “Guiding Principles” to “better define community values and clarify community expectations for evaluating and guiding refinement of proposed Innovation Centers. The principles provide a framework for community evaluation of the two projects. They will be used as one of several evaluation tools for assessment and comparison of the innovation center proposals.”

Of course, there is nothing wrong with the principles ranging from density to sustainability to mitigation, to LEED construction, to transportation and the need for alternative transit, to fiscal considerations.

But again, these are specific guidelines for projects, rather than some sort of a vision.

The lack of an overall vision has led us to a series of problems in the last two months that do not appear to be easily reconciled. None of these are new issues – we have discussed them at length. But I believe they are part of a larger problem – our piecemeal approach, lack of overall vision, and lack of community consensus for what the future looks like.

The CFD

The issue of the CFD (Community Facilities District) at Cannery is a good case study for all three of these problems. When the city council, by a 3-2 vote, approved the Cannery development they left open the potential for a CFD to be negotiated later.

Last month, the council asked staff to come back with a CFD proposal, again by a 3-2 vote. In the newspaper this morning is a story on the CFD, where Councilmember Lucas Frerichs is interviewed. He argues that refusing a CFD would come at the cost of the delay in amenities and infrastructure.

The developer stands to benefit from a projected $11.8 million sale, of which the city would only receive about $750,000.

My problem with the CFD is the process. We are extending a large benefit to the developers to the tune of $11.8 million. As we have argued previously, the justification that a CFD will be offset by lower purchase costs is problematic at best, given what Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis correctly describes as a seller’s market where the demand will severely impact the ability of the homebuyers to be able to reduce the purchase price.

To me, the CFD illustrates the lack of an overall plan by the city. The cost of building homes is the same whether you are building the homes in Davis or Woodland or Timbuktu. However, the community dictates the purchase price of that home and Davis allows the developer to make a much higher return on their investment than in other communities.

The city of Davis has allowed that community asset to benefit the developers, while retaining little for themselves. We have in essence, sold low.

Community Farm

The issue of the community farm has come up again. Despite the vote by the council, I think the concept itself is on life support.

We have pushed forward what I believe is an incomplete conception of what an innovation park is or will bring. As I noted yesterday, part of the innovation future of this community is going to be in agricultural technology, the expansion of food justice, and farm-to-fork notions, as well development of sustainable agriculture.

As the Mace Ranch Innovation Center proposal suggests, “The site, given its size and location, is suitable for research programs for green technology and sus­tainable agricultural research.” The applicants noted “the agrarian nature of the site” and wrote, “There are tremendous opportunities to support sustainable food research, agricultural energy, envi­ronment, health, and innovative ways to bring new technologies and products to market.”

In a very real way then, the community farm would be an ideal addition to that concept, and would help to create a better transition to the ag-urban boundary that will be present in this location.

The lack of an overall vision means that we are evaluating a community farm based on local factors, rather than trying to understand how it would fit into a broader picture of an agrarian based innovation park system and our overall support for the notion of food justice and local organic produce.

Competition

The concern has rightly been raised about the competition of three potential Measure R votes, either at the same time in March 2016 or in close proximity. We have Nishi, Mace Ranch Innovation Center, and Davis Innovation Center all scheduled to be ready to consideration at roughly the same point in time.

Part of the problem is that we laid out a vague notion that we needed innovation parks and economic development. What we did not develop was an overall vision for what these parks would look like, what the community needs  in terms of increased tax revenue, and how much we could expect to fill on an annual basis for a 20-year build out.

It is not that we have not studied these issues to death. The Studio 30 report, for instance, identified the three areas under consideration. However, they also projected a much smaller build out time.

With an overall vision, perhaps we would not be flying by the seat of our pants on these issues. In addition to the three Measure R votes, we also have the proposed Hotel Conference Center on Richards and now the Panatonni Business Park south of I-80 off of Chiles and Cowell.

At some point we need to make difficult decisions on timing and scope, but we have pushed those difficult conversations back, while at the same time failing to create an overarching vision – the result could be fatal to this process, as we have put forth an ad hoc patchwork of proposals without considering the overall view.

Lack of Innovation

The Nishi property illustrates another set of pitfalls. The first problem is that Nishi is geographically well suited for development, in that it is an awkward farming tract and is next to the university and in walking distance from downtown. However, Nishi has serious circulation and connectivity issues.

Exacerbating those problems are issues that UC Davis has had with its own portion of the overall plan, dealing with issues at Solano Park and approving access to the university through the northwestern portion of Nishi.

But with challenges also come opportunities. We have put forth a number of innovative and outside-of-the-box suggestions for dealing with these issues.

For me, this comes down to finding innovative ways to deal with issues such as sustainability and transportation that can be models for the future. Unfortunately, our lack of overall vision is limiting our ability to push for truly innovative design features, and so golden opportunities at Nishi could pass us up.

Lack of Community Engagement and Consensus

A segment of the population has been behind the push for economic development and innovation. However, Davis has a strong slow-growth to no-growth current and, without a broader community discussion and consensus building, we might be planning and spending millions on projects that have no chance of being implemented.

While the Binning Tract situation that we illuminated last week is localized, small, and perhaps limited to those few dozen citizens who are not Davis residents, it does illustrate a potential drawback to this approach.

The Vanguard has consistently pushed for more community-based discussions on issues like the city’s fiscal situation, the infrastructure needs, and of course the innovation parks, but the city has been slow to respond.

The Vanguard sponsored a community forum back in October on Innovation and is now about to unroll a series of five forums over the course of the next six months or so.

But even that may be too little and too late. We feel that opportunities to reach out to the public at a time when there was a consensus concern about the budget have been lost.

In part two of this discussion, I will discuss ways in which we can solve some of these problems by establishing an overall vision and framework for the future and how we should mold our visions into the overall vision offered by Chancellor Katehi.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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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19 thoughts on “Sunday Commentary II: The Lack of Vision Paradox, Part I”

  1. Don Shor

    Actually, Davis has a pretty clear vision as expressed in the General Plan. It reflects a conservative (small c) community with respect to growth and development. If you don’t think it reflects current Davis values, then you should push for an update to that, because the General Plan is the guiding document for planning overall. Updating the General Plan is the only way you will go through a process that allows for full community engagement on these issues and create a framework for the future shape of the city.

    The city also needs a more formal cooperative, collaborative process for addressing issues with the university. But that requires a willingness on the part of the UC administration, and an interest on the part of the council majority, to raise issues pertaining to housing, transportation and development. At least with respect to housing, I haven’t seen that interest on the part of the city leadership.

    1. Davis Progressive

      i think david has in the past called for an update on the general plan.  and maybe that’s where this is headed, i don’t know.  but i think the general plan is outdated in particular in terms of how the city plans to incorporate economic development into the fabric of the ideas expressed in your comment.

  2. hpierce

    Question:  How many acres is Nishi?  If 25 Acres or more, why wouldn’t we swap the Mace area parcel for that, and we’d have an urban farm, the property has “ag” access to the southwest, and the site has all the bike/ped access that would seem to be missing for the Mace area piece.  An urban farm at the Nishi site would not generate the GHG problems of the proposed development, nor the traffic on Richards corridor, and would not require much in the way of utility extensions, crossing(s) of the UPRR, nor significant increases in demand for emergency, social and other City or County services.  Seems like a no-brainer.

    Unless of course, you are the property owner or an affiliate that wants to make a wad of money on it.

    And, rest assured, if the CFD for the Cannery moves forward, the Nishi developer will want a CFD to pay for the crossings of UPRR, connection improvements (bike/ped already exist) to W Olive Drive, and anything else they think they can get.

    1. Don Shor

      I think it’s about 45 acres. If you do what you’ve proposed, you lose the housing component. Also, I understand the owners had a lot of trouble ever getting anyone to farm the site commercially due to the location. And somebody will surely object that the highway gas fumes will poison the produce. 🙂

      1. hpierce

        Of course the owners did.  Once the development group acquired the property from the Nishi’s, the incentive was to demonstrate that it was not economical to farm the 45 acres, arguing for development.  Same tactic was used when some of the members of the development team that bought the Nishi property, and had it annexed from Solano County to Yolo County, to make it more developable (sp?), granted an easement to YCFCWCD to align the Covell Drainage channel so as to cut off a piece of property from he adjacent ag area, then come back a few years later and insist that it could no longer be successfully farmed, and should be developed (now known as Covell Park Northstar).  Same tactics.

        Before the developers entered the picture on Nishi, it was farmed.  Expect that the developers jacked up the lease payments to ensure that they could claim it was no loner “farmable”.

        Don’t see where the location is substantially different.  Am assuming the “highway gas fumes” part was tongue in cheek, but somewhat in the same vein, what better place to grow plants to absorb CO2?  Or, in another vein, why should we choose to put more people living in those “highway gas fumes”?  I know. “produce lives matter”, but still…

    2. Topcat

      An urban farm at the Nishi site would not generate the GHG problems of the proposed development, nor the traffic on Richards corridor, and would not require much in the way of utility extensions, crossing(s) of the UPRR, nor significant increases in demand for emergency, social and other City or County services.  Seems like a no-brainer.

      Yes, I think that Nishi would be a good site for an “Urban farm” for the reasons expressed here.

  3. Tia Will

    Don

    And somebody will surely object that the highway gas fumes will poison the produce. ”

    And would such a comment have any validity ?

     

    1. Don Shor

      It isn’t anything I would worry about. But people are notoriously inconsistent and emotional with respect to the principles of toxicity and risk assessment.

  4. Doby Fleeman

     
    While guidance and support from the university are essential and invaluable to any meaningful discussion of a visioning process, it is not their task to help the city get its act together.  At some point, it is the responsibility of the host community to recognize the critical importance and essential need for a community driven visioning process if we are to get anywhere with our evaluation of Innovation Centers, Community Farms, Transportation Planning, Sustainable Energy and the like.
     
    Unless the community is willing to cede leadership to the university on this visioning issue, it remains the responsibility of the community (which includes the university) to first recognize and acknowledge that it has a legitimate need for a visioning and planning process.  Based on the tone of today’s commentary, apparently we aren’t there yet.
     
    Based on the Vanguard’s apparent disinterest to date, I assume that I am speaking to deaf ears, but I will continue to remind you and your readers that the City Council in July of 2012, under the leadership of Councilmembers Swanson and Krovoza, approved phase one funding for a report issued in September 2012 and titled “Davis California Visioning Study – Step One – An initial Draft Roadmap”.
     
    The background interviews for this report included a number of the senior leadership from UC Davis, the Davis City Council, City of Davis Staff, Davis Chamber, local businesses, and members of Cool Davis.  This process was only the preliminary stage one recommendation for a nine month process that would fully engage all stakeholders in collaboration towards the objective of a shared community visioning process.
     
    The impetus for the process was an outgrowth of the initial efforts attempted by the DSIDE working committee.  Most of the participants in that process were pretty frustrated with its progress and it had become apparent that professional guidance from a recognized leader in sustainable community planning was a logical next step.
     
    Each is entitled to his or her opinion of the work done by the William McDonough Partnership, which includes International recognition for their conceptual master planning for West Village, but few would suggest they are not well qualified to at least help facilitate a community conversation towards a goal of a shared community vision.
     
    Bottom line, funding for the balance of the work outlined in the preliminary Roadmap report – which was envisioned to be shared equally by the city, the university, the business community, and hopefully the county – would have required close to half a million dollars.   Amidst all of the other competing budgetary and program challenges facing the city, the initiative stalled out.
     
    I just wanted to set the record straight.  IMO it is not for a lack of recognition of the need for a Visioning process.    It is all about the will to follow through with that recognition and funding, together with our ability to convince our partners at the university that their host community is serious about following through with the process,
     
    As individual voices, all we can do is try to move the ball down the field.  No doubt, you and other members of the Vanguard community have your own thoughts and recommendations concerning the best approach to organizing a process intended to achieve some workable form of a shared community vision.  I look forward to your future commentaries on this important subject.
     

    1. Anon

      Thanks Doby, for setting the record straight.  I think what you stated really needed to be said.  Mark West’s further point below on the issue is spot on.  Much work has already been done on visioning, but there isn’t the funding or collective will to carry it through is the problem.  Further visioning isn’t going to get the job done, but is more likely to result in competing visions that will do nothing but slow the process down.

  5. Mark West

    Davis doesn’t have a visioning problem.  Our problem is that we fail to act to fulfill our visions after spending time and money developing them. As a consequence instead of moving forward with a community wide focus, we just jump around in an ad hoc fashion responding to the artificial ‘crises’ of one special interest group or another.

    Our problem is not a lack of vision, it is a fear of action.

    1. Anon

      I will go one step farther.  Our problem is that very vocal special interest groups, who do not necessarily represent the majority view, try using every trick in the book (lawsuits, initiatives, etc.) to impose their views on everyone else.  So it takes a massive effort on the part of the majority to overcome all obstacles put in the way of moving forward.

      1. Matt Williams

        When you look at what the political reality that existed when the Founding Fathers of this Nation drew up the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution it is no surprise that “the majority view” has to go the extra mile in order to impose its view. The Founding Fathers so distrusted entrenched authority that they made it very hard for authority to be entrenched … instead any group that believes they are “the majority,” has to demonstrate (and redemonstrate and redemonstrate) that they indeed are the majority. That is our 18th Century legacy.

  6. Anon

    The city of Davis has allowed that community asset to benefit the developers, while retaining little for themselves. We have in essence, sold low.

    How has the city retained little for themselves?  The Cannery is going to make sure to incorporate Universal Design in the homes; an urban farm is included; at least one new bike crossing (and perhaps two) will be built, etc.  What more do you think the city should have asked for and didn’t?

    The lack of an overall vision means that we are evaluating a community farm based on local factors, rather than trying to understand how it would fit into a broader picture of an agrarian based innovation park system and our overall support for the notion of food justice and local organic produce.

    There is a presumption here that the vision for Davis is an agrarian based innovation park system, which may not be the case at all.  A lot depends on what businesses choose to locate in an innovation park.  Why would Davis want to limit itself to only agrarian based businesses, or support only those types of businesses.  I think that would be extremely short-sighted.  How about biomedical research?  How about information technology research?

    Part of the problem is that we laid out a vague notion that we needed innovation parks and economic development. What we did not develop was an overall vision for what these parks would look like, what the community needs  in terms of increased tax revenue, and how much we could expect to fill on an annual basis for a 20-year build out.

    I am not necessarily disagreeing that Davis needs a clearer vision of what it wants to be.  However, not everything can be “planned out” to the gnat’s eyebrow.  Often things need to be allowed to “evolve” over time.  There is no way Davis can know for certain what businesses will want to locate in an innovation park, for instance.  Nor would it necessarily be in the best interests of the city to be extremely prescriptive of what the innovation parks will look like.  It would literally stifle creativity to be too exacting.  And what would be wrong with bringing in more tax revenue than we need?  It would allow for a better level of services in this town, which would be a refreshing change.

    Unfortunately, our lack of overall vision is limiting our ability to push for truly innovative design features, and so golden opportunities at Nishi could pass us up.”

    How so?  The problems with Nishi are currently being worked on by UCD and the city.  Why isn’t it possible for these two to come up with “truly innovative design features”?

    The Vanguard has consistently pushed for more community-based discussions on issues like the city’s fiscal situation, the infrastructure needs, and of course the innovation parks, but the city has been slow to respond.

    The Vanguard sponsored a community forum back in October on Innovation and is now about to unroll a series of five forums over the course of the next six months or so.”

    With all due respect, how many people show up at Vanguard events in regard to public planning relative to the number of voters in Davis?  Not many.  Secondly, I have no doubt community based discussions will take place, when there are more definitive plans on the table.  To have community discussion too early in the process only gives ammunition to the naysayers, pointing fingers at how vague the plans are and the opportunity to start ripping the project to shreds.  That seems to be the “Davis way”.

  7. Frankly

    To me, the CFD illustrates the lack of an overall plan by the city. The cost of building homes is the same whether you are building the homes in Davis or Woodland or Timbuktu. However, the community dictates the purchase price of that home and Davis allows the developer to make a much higher return on their investment than in other communities.
    The city of Davis has allowed that community asset to benefit the developers, while retaining little for themselves. We have in essence, sold low.

    I agree with this with the one caveat that we acknowledge that it is more difficult and more costly to get a development approved in Davis.  Developers keep at it in part because there is a greater potential return.  So Davis should not expect that it gets to harvest 100% of that premium over the standard cost of materials and labor to build.   There needs to be a mindset of shared benefit.

    With respect to vision… while I appreciate and generally agree with the Vanguard… and have often levied the same criticism for our highly-educated, but business-unsophisticated, little city… there is the problem of citizenry meddling beyond visioning.

    I suppose that greater participation in a renewed visioning process that leads to an updated general plan can be put to good use to satiate the nerves, and reduce the expectation of more granular control for change, of those more change-averse voters.  But I remain convinced that Davis has sort of let the cat out of the bag with respect to the mindset of the average Davis voter’s influence and voice to get their way.  And because of this, a comprehensive and up-to-date vision for the city is not 100% of the solution we need.

    I was in Bismark North Dakota last year visiting friends.  These are well-educated retired high-level government employees of the federal government.  We had not been to Bismark for a few years and were astounded by the amount of new development and change as we drove from the airport through the city.   I asked a number of questions about the different construction projects that we passed… primarily asking what the project was and the details for what it would be when complete.   For the most part my friends only knew the basics.  The did say that they were anxious about the way the city was growing.  But the general tone of responses was “what are you going to do?”

    This got me thinking about Davis and how the average resident seems to be a nosy, busy-body by comparison.  Not only do we have a say in the majority decision for allowing any peripheral development, but it seems as if we feel an expectation to be part of the project planning and design team.   Not only that, but we reserve the right to change our mind at any time and demand that the plans and design change to suit our opinions.

    The problem is one of leadership.  We have had too many weak leaders.  They either try to fly under the radar to get things done and then fold like a cheap tent when the citizens discover the ruse and demand something else.  Or they try to make everyone happy and end up with a compromise that emasculates the potential vision and value we could have enjoyed.

    The only types of policy that we see strength on are those safe (already passed the political-orientation test) things like banning plastic bags.

    Davis is a town where there are always going to be a bunch of people pissed off that they did not get their way.  What we need is process.   We need a robust process that covers visioning to project completion.   And we need to treat that process like a bedrock principle that cannot be challenged.   Within this process are the mechanisms for complaints and demands to be heard.  Then at some point decisions need to be made and we move on to the next step and the next project.   Those continuing to complain because they did not get their way need to be tuned out.

    The bottom line here is that a small percentage of people are truly capable to create and execute on vision.  The problem with Davis is that we allow all the other vision-lacking people too much power to flail about in fits of opposition.  With a rigorous visioning, planning and decision-making process we can accept input from all, but then, after the decision, the leadership needs to grow a pair and tell the protestors to sit down and shut up.

    1. Miwok

      The problem with Davis is that we allow all the other vision-lacking people too much power to flail about in fits of opposition.

      Frankly (because you are), this underscores many of the City and State problems with their “vision”. If a good idea is around it will be diluted and complicated until it is no longer worth discussing. A business owner leaving for South Dakota told us that he was able to hire twice as many employees, facilitate moving the California ones if they wanted to go, and had a house twice as big there for the same costs.

      The reason Davis developers make so much is they sell a property at three times the cost, and still build the cheapest tract house they can get away with. Whole neighborhoods are built without sidewalks, codes be damned, and then annexed by the City and County who then have to leave them substandard, or improve them at a cost of $$$$.

      When I have considered buying anything, I look at the quality, and beyond the press release, there isn’t much. This is, like you state, people who want to get credit more than they want things well executed, and built. The sorry part is you have to get their approval to get anything done. It’s why I moved and will never live there again.

    2. Doby Fleeman

      I fear that conflating a Visioning Process with a General Plan Update is a serious mistake.

      The ink wasn’t even dry on the 1986 GP Update and already changes were being made.

      This is the challenge and consequence of developing a General Plan without a community supported Vision.

      The last general plan never even thought about considering the long term economic sustainability of the community.  It was conducted during a period in which the prevailing sentiment was Build Baby, Build – until it became too much.

      Like it or not, we’re in a different era now.  Issues like Who, What and How is going to be paying for long term infrastructure and maintenance were never given a second thought.  Municipally speaking,  local and state governments were operating with a virtually unlimited credit card – a credit card requiring no minimum monthly payments with an option to pass the payment obligation along to some future generation of taxpayers.

      Times have changed, and so must our methods of addressing the issues.  Since we’re now talking about paying our full carrying costs in real time, ever more people are going to start asking basic questions about our program and spending priorities and how it is likely to affect them and their quality of life – as a resident and a taxpayer.

      Whether it’s your CFD’s or your Community Farms, or your Sustainable Power – things are going to get more complicated before they get simpler.

      Just sayin, in that context, it sure seems like there would be a whole lot less friction if we, as a community, had some shared vision and framework within which to discuss and negotiate their resolution.

  8. Doby Fleeman

    Particularly with respect to the next to last paragraph of the letter below, any thoughts or reactions to former Mayor Krovoza’s comments issued in July 2012 concerning the intended role of the McDonough Visioning initiative?

    Letter from Mayor Krovoza ‐ Posted on the City of Davis Website

    Open Letter to the Davis Community:

    If you want to take a trip and have an end destination in mind, chances are you’ll consult a map prior to departure.

    The Davis community, including sustainability advocates, the business community, and the university, acknowledge that we sit at a crossroads with our approach to business development. We have the ability and wherewithal to help guide new business developments, poise the community to take advantage of the synergy between our world‐class university and our dynamic existing business community and potentially carve out long‐term, environmentally sustainable economic cores for Davis.

    To ensure that we have an economic development roadmap that is reflective of our community’s environmental values, representatives from UC Davis, the business community (through the Davis Chamber of Commerce), the Cool Davis Initiative and the City Council will be working over the next few weeks with William McDonough + Partners to scope out the process to create our community roadmap.

    William McDonough + Partners is a uniquely qualified design, planning and consulting practice. William McDonough, the firm’s founding partner, has played a prime role in defining sustainable design for more than two decades. Many of McDonough’s approaches were developed with German chemist Michael Braungart and presented in “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things”.

    The practice has created pioneering architecture and community designs that consider the long‐term consequences of design; several are recognized landmarks of the sustainability movement. The initial roadmap is a small step that we hope will inform a more significant Visioning Process, which will in turn facilitate a dialogue between community stakeholders in Davis, articulate the shared values in the community, and define the guiding principles to frame action plans to achieve long‐term economic vitality for Davis. This roadmap will lay out the process for our community to determine what our long‐term, sustainable economic system should look like.

    We are excited that this discussion is underway and that we have the backing and support of our community partners. Once the Visioning Process is determined, we will be sharing ways that you, as a community member, can share your thoughts and provide your input…

     

  9. TrueBlueDevil

    David wrote: “After several efforts to engage UC Davis failed to connect, it is ironic that a simple and direct email to the chancellor bore fruit.”

    This is interesting. Did her gatekeepers put up too many roadblocks?

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