Commentary: City Looking in the Wrong Place For Demise of Davis Innovation Center Proposal

Proposed Mace Ranch Project
Proposed Mace Ranch Innovation Center Project

It is understandable that the first reaction by the city of Davis, upon hearing the news that the Davis Innovation Center had “paused” their proposed innovation park north of the Sutter-Davis Hospital, was to look inwardly – the city quickly determined based, on their conversations with the developer, that the problem was not internal.

That was the message quickly conveyed to the Vanguard when City Manager Dirk Brazil called on Tuesday evening with the news. It was quickly backed up with an email from Community Development Director Mike Webb and even a text on Wednesday from Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis.

However, the problem is not internal. The city of Davis has a professional planning team who worked with the applicants, after the Economic Development team led by Rob White, the Chief Innovation Officer, helped to bring the applications forward.

If we are looking to city staff we are looking at the wrong place. “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

Quickly, in the face of the apparent demise of the Davis Innovation Center, the spin has emerged. Several people have told me that, while unfortunate, the Mace Ranch location is by the far the more ideal location. It is off I-80. Mace Blvd. has the load capacity built in. It is not adjacent to homes. It has the freeway to the south, Mace 391 to the east and a little bit to the north.

All of which is true. But it all misses a key point. There are those who liken the development process in Davis to the local “spanking machine.” The developer steps forward, gets spanked and eventually the project either withers and dies or it goes through.

Personally, I think it is more akin to a meat grinder process. Everyone grinds on the developer, trying to extract what they can, tearing apart the project until there is nothing left.

When the Vanguard talked to Dan Ramos, representing the Mace Ranch Innovation Center proposal, Mr. Ramos put his best face forward. He talked about the fact that they are prepared to see this out. He diplomatically mentioned the fact that the pull out of their competition made the process more straightforward for them.

But the meat grinder has really not turned its focus toward Mace just yet. We need to remember it was Dan Ramos who called for potential changes to Measure R and the possibility of an advisory vote. At the time, we warned that messing with the machinery of Measure R would be a huge mistake, and Mr. Ramos and his team quickly recognized the problem and changed course, withdrawing their request.

Mr. Ramos’ message came at the wrong time, from the wrong place, but it was not exactly wrong.

While I have heard from some that the Mace Ranch property is the better location, not everyone shares that view. I know a number of people from the slower-growth side of the fence who are skeptical that the Ramos team can deliver a high quality proposal that can pass Measure R muster.

There are certainly those who look at the impressive list of projects by the Hines Corporation, which was a critical component of the Davis Innovation Center Team – they have constructed some of the state of the art innovation campuses across the world and are noted for designing the Facebook and Amazon buildings.

Will the Mace Ranch Innovation Center be able to survive this process? The scrutiny is now going to be completely on them to be able to deliver a product that the skeptical voters in Davis can approve.

This all comes at a critical crossroads for Davis. As Rochelle Swanson put it last year as we put forth the RFEI, the entire region is watching Davis to see what they will do. She said, “The region is wanting to know what are we doing and why aren’t we moving forward because they’re getting really worried because we have assets that nobody else has.”

As former City Manager and former UC Davis Vice Chancellor John Meyer put it, “The City is developing a reputation of supporting business development. A number of major businesses have chosen to locate in Davis. Should the City now dim its focus and investment in economic development, that action will be broadcast throughout the region by your competitors.

“While our regional leaders are all polite and publically supportive of one another, any move by Davis to reduce investment in economic development activities will be branded as a lack of support and will be whispered by surrounding communities to businesses under recruitment. Davis has assets that other communities envy, but only Davis can tell this story—do not expect others to do this on your behalf.”

Make no mistake – losing the Davis Innovation Center with the world renowned Hines Corporation is a huge bullet that has struck the city. There are rumors that they may simply move north to Woodland to build their project, where they do not have to face a skeptical public and a Measure R vote.

What signal does this now send to UC Davis? Will they go forward with plans for a third campus at the railyards in Sacramento? Will they jump over to Woodland and West Sacramento for their future projects, knowing that there is no certainty that any proposal can get approved in Davis? Or will they simply utilize their vast lands in Solano County and build their own innovation park on their own land and cut out the middle man?

In the end, as we started warning last month, Davis may win the battle over sprawl and lose the war.

I have been a strong supporter of Measure J and Measure R over the years. I strongly believe that the citizens of Davis needed to take charge after a period of rapid expansion in the 1980s and 1990s. But at the same time, I see us crippling ourselves when it comes to diversifying our economy.

Make no mistake – there has been a lot of celebration about the improving economy – but we still face struggles. There are employee compensation hits – OPEB and PERS still to come. We have hundreds of millions in deferred maintenance on critical infrastructure and we are now undermining our efforts by proposing grandiose recreation centers and sports parks rather than fixing our infrastructure.

Building innovation parks will be a slow and methodical process over a 20 to 50 year horizon. It will augment our finances without drastically changing our community, in my opinion.

But, after watching the meat grinder at work in the last six months, it comes down to what investors are going to risk $10 million to plan for and run a Measure R campaign – when they can go to Woodland and West Sacramento or even Dixon and Sacramento and do the same project and have a much better chance of getting it approved?

How can we save Measure R and preserve the necessary check on runaway sprawl while opening the door so that that protection doesn’t become a noose that strangles the entire ecosystem?

That is the question I have been thinking about. The answer actually goes back to something that Dan Ramos proposed at the wrong time, in the wrong circumstance, from the wrong person.

What if we modify Measure R so that for economic projects only – it cannot have any housing – we can have conceptual approval of a project. So, in other words, the voters can approve the annexation of 200 acres east of Mace.

An affirmative vote would be tantamount to putting that land inside the city and allowing the formal planning process to shape the project. That reduces the risk for the developer, who then just has to traverse a normal planning process.

If the voters do not like the location, size or type of project – they can simply block it. If they don’t trust the developers and the city to do a good project – they can vote no.

But, at least, then the developers wouldn’t have to risk tens of millions and the prospect of the voters turning down the project in the end. It is a modest change, although there would be a risk that the voters could approve a project, believing that they were supporting one thing and getting another.

But that’s the risk we take and the city would be risking that they could not get another project of this sort approved if the voters feel duped.

There are those who believe we don’t need an innovation park at all – that’s fine – they can vote no. I think it’s a low-level risk for both the voters and the developers, but it would result in a cleaner process.

Unfortunately it is too late for that to happen. We have already seen one project go down, and it would not surprise me terribly if the Mace Ranch Project did as well.

—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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72 Comments

  1. Tia Will

    In the end, as we started warning last month, Davis may win the battle over sprawl and lose the war.”

    the region is wanting to know what are we doing and why aren’t we moving forward because they’re getting really worried because we have assets that nobody else has.”

    I would like to reframe these two statements. If you see the welfare of the region as a “war” or a competition in which the cities that manage to attract the most businesses to their city emerge as “winners” while everyone else loses, then it would make sense to build as rapidly as possible. However, if you believe that the region with its various communities is interlinked and that the prosperity of one is linked to the prosperity of the others, then the rather drastic view of having to beat out other communities to be successful does not hold.

    I believe that cities can prosper utilizing their different strengths. The part of Rochelle’s comments that I agree with are that “we have assets that no one else has”. Amongst those assets is the physical presence of UCD. That is not going to change. If some components of the university locate in other communities because of either the need ( as in the university hospital) or for other logistical or political or financial reasons as in the World Food Center, this does not deprive us of the presence of the university. I do not believe that we have to develop along the lines of Palo Alto or Boulder or any other community in order to be “successful” as long as we do not define success as financial superiority over other communities in the region at the cost of those features that are unique to Davis.

    As for other communities in the region becoming “nervous” because we have assets that they do not have, I would think that they would welcome the opportunity for projects that are better suited to their models of community than they are to ours. How this causes anxiety for anyone other than the developers is a mystery to me.

     

    1. David Greenwald

      I believe there are people waging a battle against further development in the community. I have often supported those efforts. But at some point when you keep the spigot turned off the pressure will build up to the point where it released in an explosive manner in a way that you couldn’t anticipate. The better approach would have been to have managed releases to relieve the pressure. Do you prefer that analogy?

      1. Biddlin

        ” I have often supported those efforts. But at some point when you keep the spigot turned off the pressure will build up to the point where it released in an explosive manner in a way that you couldn’t anticipate. The better approach would have been to have managed releases to relieve the pressure.”

        But you have been  one of the “must be perfect” crowd, David. Now that the boiler is about to blow, you suddenly have changed your tune. Can you now gin up that level of concern in the other no-growthers or will Tia’s (and the other no-growthers’) view that Davis can remain in stasis without any new development prevail? (Of course, that view of Davis’ future as unchanging, is a literary definition of stasis. In pathology, stasis just means “stagnant.”)

        ;>)/

        1. Mark West

          DG:  “I never said perfect. I listed my criteria. I believe that they would have exceeded my criteria.”

           

          Every other opponent has their own criteria, and perhaps a reasonable expectation that their criteria will be exceeded as well. The problem is that none of you agree on the specifics of those criteria, just that you personally need to be appeased.  Combined, you create the demand for the perfect project and thereby stifle any meaningful economic development.

           

           

           

        2. Mark West

          Absurd?  How is your stating that you will oppose the project unless they meet your preconceived demands not indicating that you are an opponent?

           

           

        3. Davis Progressive

          i think you have to separate your categories.  some people use their standards as an excuse to oppose a project.  some people are sincere in wanting a better project.  perhaps your “opponent” category is too broad to be meaningful.

        4. Alan Miller

          How is your stating that you will oppose the project unless they meet your preconceived demands not indicating that you are an opponent?

          I believe it’s called giving a damn and having an opinion.  Your branding everyone as an opponent is absurd.  That’s a growth-at-any-cost attitude and it won’t fly.  Try Vacaville if you don’t want opposition and/or people who give a damn.

    2. Frankly

      This “benefit philanthropy for the region” argument really needs to be put to bed.  Is is a disingenuous argument because you have written criticism of US corporations outsourcing jobs to Asia… or like Hillary Clinton on her support of the Iraq war are you just going to say that you changed your mind and expect a pass from the media?… that you NOW see outsourcing of US jobs as just helping that global region?

      You don’t seem to understand or acknowledge one simple and important fact… that ALL money that flows to the government is derived from business economic activity.  That’s right ALL of it.

      Unless you want to implement a Marxist or Communist system where government owns and controls whole money-making industries and prevents the private ownership of property and the private use of resources to add value that can be traded for taxable profit, you are shooting blanks on you “let’s go regional” chant.

      If Davis keeps screwing up like you seem to advocate, Yolo, Solano and Sacramento Counties will simply exploit the situation and build next door to us… thereby extracting the benefits while saddling us with the impacts.

  2. Jim Frame

    What if we modify Measure R so that for economic projects only – it cannot have any housing – we can have conceptual approval of a project. So in other words, the voters can approve the annexation of 200 acres east of Mace.

    Measure J came about because the citizenry saw their elected officials approving projects the voters didn’t want.  At its core, Measures J/R is the voters saying, “We don’t trust you to make major land planning decisions because you’ve shown us that your narrow political interests come first.”  When a career-politician mayor proposes spending $25M on a new sports park in the face of $100M in unbudgeted capital maintenance costs, what reason is there for the voters to give up their land planning veto?

    1. hpierce

      Somewhat correct, Jim, somewhat not… the citizen-voters of Davis have always had the right and ability to overturn CC development decisions.  Prior to measures J/R.  Called “referendum”… was used against the Wildhorse project.  Remember?  Measure failed, and Wildhorse is Wildhorse.  The ‘no-growthers’ figured out that voters will tend to vote “no” if they aren’t sure.  That’s why the Wildhorse referendum failed.  Measure J was introduced to make sure that the tendency would work in their favor.  They had the advantage in Measure J that everyone tends to vote for the opportunity to have more input, particularly if their current rights are not explained.  Duh.

      If we got rid of Measure J/R, the citizens would still have the right and ability to overturn CC land-use decisions.  But the onus would be on those who oppose a project.  They don’t like/want that.  They want to use the Measure R process as a form of extortion.  And have done that well.  Wildhorse Ranch made many concessions (some of them quite stupid, as in offering abutting property owners freebie property) in anticipation of the Measure R requirement.  But not enough for those who either wanted more, and/or were BANANAS (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anybody).  No surprise that coupled with the automatic “no” voters who “aren’t sure”, and now someone needs to do a Fosberg Flop to clear the higher bar.

      Not advocating one way or the other re:  Measure R.  Let’s just keep our basic facts straight.

       

      1. Jim Frame

        If we got rid of Measure J/R, the citizens would still have the right and ability to overturn CC land-use decisions.  But the onus would be on those who oppose a project.  They don’t like/want that.

         

        With good reason — the people who want to sway politicians with money and power do so as part of their full-time jobs and with well-stocked coffers; the people who want to prevent bad land-use decisions used to have to do it in their spare time and on a shoestring.  The deck was stacked against them — opposing a project that had a well-funded media onslaught and elected backing was a huge uphill battle.  Measure J changed that for the better.

    2. Frankly

      So you support tyranny of the majority because you fear tyranny of the minority of elected representatives? If damn davisites spent a quarter of the time they spend railing in opposition to change to working to ensure the right politicians are elected and demanding that the right city employees are hired, we would have far less tyranny of the powerful minority.

      Measure J/R (and old Measure O) is basically a tool of land preservation activists and the NYMBY, change averse that is only enabled because of this fear of corruption in city decision processes that are supposed to be dealth with through the democratic election process.  And when you follow the fact patterns for the root cause of why there is a lack of trust in the results of the democratic process, it is the existance of public sector unions.

      And you can look at this as the potential negative consequences of the decades of public sector union payola… the city loses out on additional revenue production because the lack-of-trust Measure J/R and Old O… and so there is less in the kitty to fund more payola.

      If this CC tries to increase any city pay or benefits, they should be run out of town.  But my guess is that they will be allowed to do this yet again as the typical Davis voter lacks the motivation to agitate against it.

      One thing for sure, the give away of Mace 391 is turning out to be the glaring mistake I and others knew it to be.  These politicians should be run out of town only for that mistake.

      1. Davis Progressive

        i think vanguard’s proposal still addresses jim frame’s concern.

        on the other hand, i don’t see how mace 391 matters at this point, if you couldn’t get a 200 acre project approved, how are you going to get a 391 acre project approved.

      2. Jim Frame

        So you support tyranny of the majority because you fear tyranny of the minority of elected representatives?

         

        Tyranny doesn’t pertain — we’re talking about land use policy, not persecution of minorities — and while fear may reflect the way some people look at the world — I’m thinking maybe those who use the word in almost every post critical of someone else — it’s not the lens I use.

        By enacting Measure J/R, the voters took the single most important local jurisdictional land use decision — the rezone from ag to urban — away from elected officials and gave it back to themselves.  They did this by means of an open, legal and democratic process, and did so with a substantial majority.  They did not do this out of ignorance of their referendum rights, but rather in painful recognition of the enormous limitations associated with the latter.

        To anyone who thinks J/R is a bad idea, I suggest following hpierce’s suggestion:  see if you can qualify a referendum to repeal it.  And good luck with that.

        1. Michelle Millet

          By enacting Measure J/R, the voters took the single most important local jurisdictional land use decision — the rezone from ag to urban — away from elected officials and gave it back to themselves.  They did this by means of an open, legal and democratic process, and did so with a substantial majority.  They did not do this out of ignorance of their referendum rights, but rather in painful recognition of the enormous limitations associated with the latter

           

          Thanks you for articulating my thoughts on this so well.

          I heard this quote today in a TED Talk and I thought of Frankly’s comment regarding fearing the “tyranny of the majority” and thought it would be a far better response then one I could come with.

          The ancient Greeks, with all their shortcomings, believed in the wisdom of the crowd at their best moments. Democracy could not work without the citizens deliberating, debating, taking on public responsibilities for public affairs. And those who shunned politics – well, they were idiots. You see, in ancient Greece, in ancient Athens, that term comes from the root idio – ones’s self, a person who is self-centered, secluded, excluded, someone who doesn’t participate or even examine public affairs. The revival of democratic politics will come from you. And I mean all of you, everyone who stands up to the unchecked power. Whether it’s authoritarian leaders, plutocrats hiding their assets in tax havens or powerful lobbies protecting the powerful few, it is in their interest that all of us are idiots. Let’s not be. 

           

        2. Don Shor

          Generally those who oppose local growth control measures like J and R are those who feel that developers will plan cities better than their residents will.

        3. Frankly

          Generally those who oppose local growth control measures like J and R are those who feel that developers will plan cities better than their residents will.

          Geeze, you people need to take some political science classes and read a bit of American history.

          You vote into office elected representatives in our representative democracy that are empowered and required to make decisions for the benefit of the majority that are their constituents.

          Turning over the keys for complex decisions to the uninformed, reactionary and individually selfish majority is breaking with the design of representative democracy.  It is essentially changing one set of problems that are solvable with another set of problems that are not.

          Direct democracy is terribly flawed.  The founding fathers of our federal and state representative democracy absolutely knew this and took great pains to ensure we did not succumb to the destructive tendencies that had been previously proven to occur.

          Measure J/R is simply tyranny of the majority because we won’t hold our politicians responsible for doing a crappy job protecting the long-term welfare of the voters over their short-term selfish interests.

          1. Don Shor

            Geeze, you people need to take some political science classes and read a bit of American history.

            Geeze, you need to take some history courses to learn about the Progressive movement, particularly as enacted in Oregon and California. The referendum, initiative, and recall were created and enacted by voters as a check on corruption of the political process by special interests. Representative democracy can be terribly flawed as well. There is no perfect system. But Progressivism made it much less subject to corruption.

  3. Tia Will

    But at some point when you keep the spigot turned off the pressure will build up to the point where it released in an explosive manner in a way that you couldn’t anticipate.”

    Do you prefer that analogy?”

    Not really. As you know, I tend to dislike vague, catastrophic thinking. When one is worried that something may happen, it is important to be clear about what the specific concern is, not to generalize.

    When a patient tells me that she is afraid, my first question is what is she afraid of ? Then we can assess the realistic probability that what she fears could actually happen. For example if I see an 18 year old with a lump in her breast, the fear that she is going to die of breast cancer is so statistically improbable as to be hardly worth thinking about, let alone worrying. Frequently, the patient does not even know what she fears, she only knows that she is anxious, and this approach has no value for anyone, as blind fear tends to be incapacitating, not productive.

    In the case of the city, I see no “explosion” likely to occur. So what are the worst concerns ?  What real world disaster do you see occurring if it were decided not to proceed with either of these developments ?  Less funding for roads and infrastructure ?  Certainly, but also less wear and tear on that same infrastructure .  Less monies overall for the city. Certainly, but then there is not universal agreement that bigger or more is always better.

    I am fundamentally opposed to nebulous statements about “war” and “competition” and the “nervousness” of the “region” and  “meat grinders vs spankings” and would favor a balanced view of the pros and cons of each proposal as you have done in previous articles.

     

    1. Doby Fleeman

      Tia,

      Life is rarely a zero sum game.  Win Win is not the same thing as Lose Lose – even though the outcome is equal in each case.
       
      It would seem that due to circumstance, good fortune and your own hard work, that you – in pursuit of a career in the medical field – have followed the advice of Master Kan to  Disciple Kain:  “Choose wisely. Grasshopper.”    Throughout your career, the medical and healthcare industry and the need for its services has only grown.  In other words, from the standpoint of a career trajectory, your experience has likely been very different from those who might have chosen other paths for their livelihood.  As with everything, our career experiences play a big role in shaping our perceptions and our outlook on life.
       
      You may disapprove of David and John Meyer’s suggestion that Davis should ramp up its competitive pursuit of economic development opportunities, but every successful enterprise is engaged, to one degree or another, in such pursuits.  Your’s happens to be the field of healthcare services, but even there I suspect there is some little hint of competition between providers.
       
      More to the point, let’s take a more strategic look at the University and its ongoing challenges to find new sources of operating revenues.   It’s traditional funding model is under serious attack.   In this sense, the University is locked in a powerful struggle or competition for access to all important state funding.   This is reality, and reality has consequences.   It is not too difficult to imagine that all of our state universities will be looking for new, sustainable and reliable avenues to support program funding.
       
      Why wouldn’t each of the major campuses be looking aggressively at development of their own technology parks?  Take one look at the success of Stanford’s program, or Champagne-Urbana, or the State of Carolina’s Research Triangle development and it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to contemplate the opportunities.
       
      So, for those who support the notion that the university is the best place for new Innovation Centers – that’s a hard point to argue.   Just think of the opportunities to integrate both the best practices housing components that many are espousing for these parks, while also providing an important economic shot in the arm to our neighboring communities – not to mention the obvious benefits to university itself.  And, for Davis, it would be absolutely wonderful.  We could simply add on to our existing bike networks – you wouldn’t even need to drive to work.   And, just think what that could do for our school enrollment statistics, with all those young families with well-paying jobs living and working right next door.  Oh, yes, it might increase our housing prices a little more, but there’s bound to be some negatives.
       
      Life just doesn’t get much better.      
       

      1. Alan Miller

        And, for Davis, it would be absolutely wonderful.  We could simply add on to our existing bike networks – you wouldn’t even need to drive to work.

        Yeah, like the new bike path from the train station to Woodland that only has four intersections with cars.  Oh, yeah, there isn’t going to be one, because the cheerleaders of the so-called rail relocation want to develop the strip and pave it over with dense buildings with pre-loaded development rights money in order to fund the gap between the fraudulent federal flood money and reality.  So where does this magic new bike path go if not there?

        First, fix the freaking bumpy ass bike paths we have now.  Always the promise of the new, when we can’t even maintain the existing.

        Why, because maintenance ain’t sexy.

        1. Frankly

          Build three business parks designed for technology and innovation business, and then form a city public-private partnership with economic development entities and the university to attract these types of companies.

          Without the latter, the term “innovation parks” is less meaningful.

    1. hpierce

      Actually, there are only two “innovation parks” on the table, and one of those have pushed away from the table.  Suspect it was the brussel sprouts served.  Nishi is NOT an innovation park.  Far from.

  4. Biddlin

    “and would favor a balanced view of the pros and cons of each proposal as you have done in previous articles.”

    As long as nothing gets done…

    ;>)/

      1. Davis Progressive

        nothing is going to get done.  i predict ramos either pulls out or loses.  nishi will fail as well if they don’t fix connectivity.

  5. #me

    But it all misses a key point. There are those who liken the development process in Davis to the local “spanking machine.” The developer steps forward, gets spanked and eventually the project either withers and dies or it goes through.

    Personally, I think it is more akin to a meat grinder process. Everyone grinds on the developer, trying to extract what they can, tearing apart the project until there is nothing left.  David Greewnwald

    The City of Davis meat grinder …

    “We see an opportunity in the peripheral innovation parks – or else we wouldn’t even be discussing them,” Mayor Pro Tem Davis continued. “Now is the hard work or analyzing the benefits, analyzing the costs, not just the cost of putting them but the cost in terms of impacts and how we’re going to mitigate them, so that we can derive the maximum benefit that is foreseen.”

    Robb Davis said that the Cannery was a tremendous learning experience in that we really learned about the need and importance of “driving a hard bargain.”

    He said “if the city council votes to entitle one or more of the innovation sites, that’s the closest thing we come in a local government to printing money. We create tremendous potential value, not just for the developer (but) for our community.”

    However, the lesson of Cannery comes up here because we need to, in the developer agreement, make sure that we make the negotiations, as Robb Davis put it, “nail down the terms so that we can derive the maximum benefit.”

    http://www.davisvanguard.org/2015/05/mayor-pro-tem-explains-citys-commitment-to-economic-development/

    1. David Greenwald

      Except for one problem – the Cannery folks already had a development agreement. Had they stuck with that, the process would have been over. But instead they asked for CFD – which opened the process up again. That’s not what we’re talking about here.

      1. Alan Miller

        And when Mayor Joe tried to make sure that the connecvtivity issues were solved before the go ahead was given to the cannery, he was voted down by the rest of the council. The connectivity issues were the main issues. I’m not sure much was learned there.

  6. Michelle Millet

    No peripheral development, no matter how much it could benefit the community, will pass a Measure R vote, unless community members can have faith in the process that put the proposal on the ballot.

    They need to trust that the developer was acting with integrity and fairness, and not relying on their power and money to unduly influence the outcome. They need to trust that our elected officials are representing the community’s interests and not those of the of the developer, or their future political ambitions, and they need to trust the information they are getting from various news outlets are unbiased and uninfluenced by those attempting to benefit from the outcome.

    Unless these things happen any proposed project will be dead, long before a vote is cast.

    1. Michelle Millet

      I’ll add that messing with Measure R by taking control away from voters,  is not the best way to instill confidence in the process, and will most likely backfire, resulting in more distrust, and as result decrease the likely passage of any peripheral project.

    2. Biddlin

      “No peripheral development, no matter how much it could benefit the community, will pass a Measure R vote,”

      so long as the various nimby and no growth factions keep picking apart every last iota of each proposal and then misinterpreting/misrepresenting it as they please.

      ;>)/

       

  7. Tia Will

    Doby,

    Your’s happens to be the field of healthcare services, but even there I suspect there is some little hint of competition between providers.”

    This has definitely been true in health care in this country as a whole. It is not at all true within the Kaiser system. Because I have worked within Kaiser for the past 28 years, I have seen the benefits of a collaborative, integrated model rather than a competitive one. We are not in competition with our colleagues. We get paid the same by specialty whether we are doing clinic, consulting, operating or answering phone or electronic messages. We are not in competition for patients or for compensation. What this has produced in a system in which patient’s are taken care of as expeditiously as possible. This has certainly colored my view about the relative benefits of a collaborative vs a competitive approach in a business setting.

     

  8. Alan Miller

    I disagree with the idea that we need to save measure R. Measure r doesn’t need saving, because it will never be repealed. As long as the voters can vote to keep their property values high, They will. Nothing more to see here, move on.

    1. Don Shor

      As long as the voters can vote to keep their property values high,

      What makes you assume that is the primary motivation of Davis voters in passing Measures J and R?

      1. Michelle Millet

        If these proposals pass a Measure R vote, and all these promised new jobs come to Davis, there will be a much higher demand for housing, which I imagine would result in skyrocketing home prices.

        1. Michelle Millet

          Is that good, neutral, or bad, in your opinion?

          As a homeowner it would have finical benefits, but as someone who would like Davis to be an affordable place for people to live it would have negative consequences.

          One of the stated reasons for building these large scale “Innovation Parks” here is because Davis is desirable place for people to live. The problem with this is we don’t have close to enough housing to accommodate the number of jobs being created, which will create higher demand on our already limited housing supply. I think the consequences of this need to be seriously considered as move forward in this process. (I’m hoping this will be addressed in the Environmental Impact Report).

           

        1. Jim Frame

          As I said earlier, I believe Measures J & R were passed because most folk didn’t know about the referendum process…

           

          While I sometimes think that the electorate is poorly informed, anyone who’s been through a California high school civics class knows about the referendum.  Instead, I believe that the very high level of time, effort and money required to pass a referendum — coupled with some very unpopular land use decisions taken by city councils — is what brought J/R into existence.

      2. Alan Miller

        What makes you assume that is the primary motivation of Davis voters in passing Measures J and R?

        I doubt it’s the reason J/R passed, but I believe it’s the reason no J/R housing measure will ever pass.  For most, their home is their primary asset, and increasing housing stock decreases the increase in their primary asset.  Very very unlikely a majority would ever put idealism FOR growth ahead of a chance to maintain/increase the value of their property.  I predict all housing J/R votes will fail in our lifetimes, except perhaps Nishi as it may not seem as threatening to property values due to proximity to University and size.

        1. Don Shor

          I think most people who vote anti-growth do so as a reflection of their values, not the potential price of their homes. Voting behavior is like shopping behavior: it’s a lot more complex than just a consideration of financial gain or price.

        2. Frankly

          I think most people who vote anti-growth do so as a reflection of their values, not the potential price of their homes.

          Some points.

          1. I don’t think it is either-or, it is both.

          2. For people that recently purchased, they are absolutely against increasing inventory to a point that it decreases the value of their home… possibly putting them in an upside down equity position.

          3. For people thinking of selling to buy up or out, they are absolutely protective of their expected capital gains based on the current expected valuation of their home.

          These are all rational and logical reactions.

          It is the “reflection of their values” reactions that we should attack for being illogical and irrational… and frankly, selfish.

          Illogical because one only has to look back to see that Davis has already changed/expanded and these people are only drawing a new line in the sand for a city they apparently still love (after all the previous changes)… and that the university is growing and growth in population is already happening.

          Irrational because there are not any rational arguments being made other than “my values”… which is a just a placeholder for what are just emotional aversion to change… lacking even acknowledgment of all the other benefits for the alternative.

          Selfish… especially from those living here on a sizable lot and/or with more than one owned property… and pushing tax increases on others as the alternative to protect their “values”… which suspiciously also protect their monetary values.

          1. Don Shor

            You vote your values just as everyone else does. Apparently people whose values are different than yours are (in just today’s Frankly posts):

            illogical and irrational… and frankly, selfish…
            uninformed, reactionary and individually selfish…
            voting their
            short-term selfish interests…

            Well, no. They have different values than you do. That does not make them any of those things you ascribed to them, nor does it make you logical, rational, selfless, or informed.
            Contrary to your usual black/white dichotomous all-or-nothing thinking, you will find that opinions about growth exist along a spectrum. Many who oppose significant growth (as they perceive it) do so because they want to keep Davis much as it is now, or more as they remember it to have been. They foresee congestion, increased parking problems, perhaps even less community spirit. Nebulous things like the ‘small town feel’ that prompted them to move here in the first place.
            If we want to get projects passed, we will acknowledge those concerns and try to make sure the projects mitigate them to some degree. Mostly it may be a matter of perception. I don’t think a 200-acre business park is very big, but others think it is ‘too’ big.
            Telling people they are irrational, illogical, and selfish is pretty much going to shut off any conversation. You seem to be constantly arguing with the people you see at the far end of the growth-policy spectrum.

        3. Frankly

          You said it “nebulous things like ‘small town feel'”.

          They are nebulous.

          These and other emotives are all that are used to back what is a purely emotive, not rational, reaction to change.

          You like a small-town feel, then move to Dixon.  Problem solved.  Dixon does not have a world class university growing the population by about 650 people every year.

          When a person is in denial about the actual facts and keeps living in that artifical world using nebulous excuses explaining his position, then he is setting it up for many more problems.   Davis is not a small town and does not have a small-town feel.  This claim easily identifies the claimer as being quite a bit off.

          1. Don Shor

            You like a big-city feel, move to Palo Alto. Davis is a small rural city with a distinctive character. To many, it has a small-town feel. To say it “does not have a small-town feel” is to completely disrespect others.
            I’m sure that ‘small-town feel’ has something to do with why some of us came here to go to school, why some choose to live here, and why some wish to keep it somewhat as it is now.
            No, it’s not “purely emotive.” It’s not irrational.
            You don’t actually converse in a respectful manner, Frankly. You look down on everyone who disagrees with you, and disparage their viewpoints and their values. You do not contribute to a positive dialogue on the Vanguard.

        4. TrueBlueDevil

          Don, couldn’t the town meet most / all of it’s needs with a $150 or $200 per year parcel tax? Then w’ed be able to keep the small town feel, develop Nishi, develop maybe one innovation center, and call it a day.

          We could also add some public housing projects / Section 8 housing where the failed innovation center would have been located.

          1. David Greenwald

            Yes, but the last time the public was polled, $150 wasn’t going to pass.

        5. Frankly

          Don, I’m sorry.  You make the point that you came here and others came here and went to school and liked it because it was a small town.  It is no longer a small town.  As I have written numerous times, when factoring the student population on campus, this city is 75,000 in population.  What was it when you attended college?

          Palo Alto is 66,000 people.

          Davis is not a small town.  It is a medium sized city.  Yes, it has a small and charming downtown.  But so does Vacaville.

          This “small town feel” is a weird term.  How often do you come here and shop here and go to dinner here?  I do a lot and I don’t ever see you around town.  It is very, very congested down town and city most of the time.  It does not have “a small town feel” much of the time… probably most of the time.  Try driving across town during rush hour.  Again, our traffic is not small town traffic..

          And just repeating it and using victim mentality narrative to protect those that keep saying it is not changing the fact that it is a irrational and illogical narrative.

          You don’t even live here.  So I fail to see why you are so damn insistant that you KNOW.

          1. Don Shor

            Davis is a small rural city surrounded, as you endlessly point out, by farmland. PaloAltoEastPaloAltoMenloParkWestMenloParkMountainViewSunnyvaleSantaClaraAthertonRedwoodCity is part of a vast metroplex of contiguous cities comprising millions of people. Davis has no other city touching its borders. Palo Alto has no border that isn’t another city.
            Davis and Palo Alto have so little in common that I wonder at the common attempts to compare them. Every time I hear someone link them, I think “you want to kill a Measure R vote? Just keep doing that.”
            The rest of your post is just plain odd. I’ve been at 1607 Fifth Street for nearly 34 years. I helped landscape the friggin’ building that your business is in, and consulted about how to best protect the city street tree in front of it — long before you were there. I help Steve manage the annual color in front of his family’s pizza store. I go downtown nearly every day, shop there very regularly, drive across town very often. I deliver stuff all over the place, driving in nearly every neighborhood of Davis. I’ve done hundreds of consultations all over the city over my 33+ years in business. I know the soils and the trees and the traffic patterns and the demographics of Davis. I know this town far, far better than you do, I would guess.
            Any notion that Davis has traffic similar to anything in the Bay Area or coastal Southern California is laugh-out-loud funny.
            There is nothing irrational or illogical about my narrative. I make no “victim mentality narrative” — your usual default setting when you have nothing else to say.
            Where I live is irrelevant. I’ve been working in Davis, active in the downtown and in many other neighborhoods, for over three decades. I know this town very well. I do not appreciate your constant attempts to personalize these issues, particularly from behind your shield of anonymity. You’ve done this before. Please stop.

  9. Biddlin

    “I’m sure that ‘small-town feel’ has something to do with why some of us came here to go to school, why some choose to live here, and why some wish to keep it somewhat as it is now.
    No, it’s not “purely emotive.” It’s not irrational.”

    An honest characterisation of the majority.

    If we want to get projects passed, we will acknowledge those concerns and try to make sure the projects mitigate them to some degree. Mostly it may be a matter of perception.”

    But does that desire exist in the community, to any meaningful extent, except as a means to mitigate the effects of the bad economy on the city budget? It didn’t seem to take much sunshine up folks skirts to shift the civic focus in Davis. I wonder, especially after watching how the water treatment and utility wars divided the community and with the history the never-ending land-use war, if it will ever be possible to build consensus among the multitude of factions necessary to see a project through to completion?

    ;>)/

    1. Jim Frame

      I wonder, especially after watching how the water treatment and utility wars divided the community and with the history the never-ending land-use war, if it will ever be possible to build consensus among the multitude of factions necessary to see a project through to completion?

       

      I think it’s just a question of when.  At some point the roads will deteriorate enough and city services will be cut back enough  that even the most disengaged voters will start paying attention and decide to approve something like a business park or a tax hike.  In the mean time the rest of us will just have to try to keep the City Council focused on the things they can do now to minimize the damage.  Those include holding a reasonable line on labor costs and declining to chase after luxuries like a new sports park or aquatic center.

      1. Topcat

        Those include holding a reasonable line on labor costs and declining to chase after luxuries like a new sports park or aquatic center.

        Yes, our City Council should focus on essential infrastructure rather than “nice to have” items like a sports complex.  We can argue about a lot of the services and amenities we have in Davis, but I do think that there are areas the Council can cut back on without damaging the basic infrastructure.

  10. hpierce

    Don… re: your 10:08 post… untrue, and undermines your valid points…

    “Palo Alto has no border that isn’t another city.”  Palo Alto borders SF Bay on the east and unincorporated areas, including undeveloped areas to the west.
    https://www.google.com/maps/place/Palo+Alto,+CA/@37.42565,-122.13535,13z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x808fb07b9dba1c39:0xe1ff55235f576cf
    Please keep your wonderful credibility up by being factual.  You were 90% factually correct.  But you made a “blanket” statement that is factually incorrect.  Meant as a constructive admonition.

  11. Tia Will

    Don and Frankly

    Many who oppose significant growth (as they perceive it) do so because they want to keep Davis much as it is now, or more as they remember it to have been. They foresee congestion, increased parking problems, perhaps even less community spirit. Nebulous things like the ‘small town feel’ that prompted them to move here in the first place.”

    I agree with this statement and would like to add another dimension to it. There is another group ( or at least one of me) who opposes excessive growth (as I perceive it) for quite a different reason. I believe in change as the fundamental basis of human experience. I do not oppose change, or want to return to a previous state. However, I do see many of the proposals that are being put forward as expressions of our past ( which has created many preventable problems – such as traffic, congestion, decreased air quality, a sedentary and therefore less healthy population ) and not our optimal future. I also want change. But the change I would want would be based on rapidly changing dynamics in our society. I would promote more rapid change to an electronic based communication system not dependent on moving large numbers of people by private automobile. I would promote decreased dependency on our highways and thus less need for infrastructure maintenance. I would support the development of a downtown walking mall as the means to decrease downtown congestion. I do not see the downtown problem as too little parking, I see it as too many automobiles in too small a space.  I would promote the development of Nishi as an automobile limited project which would as far as I am aware make it effectively the only such project in our area, thus expanding choice, not limiting it.

    I am not change averse. I am against endlessly copying and repeating the mistakes of other communities leading to the problems that I have cited above. There are far better models of how to live in a small city environment that we could emulate if emulating is what we want to do. Better yet, we could look at our unique circumstances and assets and invent a model that is not subservient to models of the past 25 – 100 years. We do not need to be constrained by what we “know” because that is how our predecessors did it, but rather could embrace newer ways of communication, doing business, and thriving by maximizing what we have rather than constantly seeking “more” ( especially more of the same )as the solution to of our all problems.

    1. Topcat

      I would promote decreased dependency on our highways and thus less need for infrastructure maintenance.

      The proposed industrial parks are planned to be highly automobile dependent.  These projects will add many more automobile trips to our roadways. The people pushing these industrial parks have glossed over the additional congestion that these facilities will surely bring.

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