Davis, Let’s Be Resilient And “Double-Down” On Economic Development!!

innovation-park-ex2By Jim Gray

I was disappointed to read that the Davis Innovation Center near Sutter Davis has been put “on hold.” I offer the following observations and encourage the citizens of Davis and our elected officials to do what our former City Manager and Vice Chancellor John Meyer has offered which is to “double-down” on economic development and keep our “foot on the accelerator.”

SKK Development, Hines, and the rest of the development team had the experience and expertise to have delivered on this project. So what happened? My sense is that there was just too much risk and not enough certainty given the Measure R vote, the checks kept getting bigger (probably $1-2 million dollars already spent), and the time to a real payday kept getting pushed out with no end in sight. Most investment decisions come down to opportunity cost and the allocation of capital. If there are other projects that can be delivered with more certainty, for a greater return and less risk, those projects will most likely attract and retain the investment dollars. These innovation park projects likely will take 25-50 years to build out, no different than Mace Ranch in East Davis or University Research Park in South Davis. The capital expenses are front loaded and it will be years before the investors get their investment back and even longer before they make a profit.

Let’s wish the previous developer team all the best. The obstacles to success are not just about city approvals and processes, but also market and economic conditions. The competition and forces affecting value are not only the other proposed parks in Davis or about getting approved by the Davis voters, but they also include the competition from thousands of acres of already zoned business park land within the region. At the macro level, more and more businesses and their employees are shifting to more urban settings from the suburbs and not only manufacturing but also service jobs are getting globalized. Many users and investors are re-evaluating the suburban office business model..

So what does this mean for the citizens and community of Davis?

As Mayor Dan Wolk says, we need to “Renew Davis” and may I add, to reinvigorate, retain, and attract great companies, institutions and jobs. Clearly, this is a setback to the City. But the City staff and the City Council are not to blame. Fostering economic development is not a sprint or even a marathon. In this case, it is a “relay ultra-marathon.” Let’s reflect on lessons learned, find another team or even invite other sites, and pass the baton to someone to run the next leg.

This is amongst the best City staff and Council that I have seen during the past 35 years. They are to be commended on their efforts to stimulate economic development. We should thank them, encourage them to be resilient, and ask them to stay focused on economic development for Davis. A City and its leaders have to think long term and make plans and investments for 50+ years to leave a legacy for our future generations.

I offer these observations and suggestions in the spirit of focusing forward.

  1. The City should continue to encourage Mace Ranch/Ramos and Gateway/Nishi, the applicants currently pursuing innovation park proposals, to keep working with the City to gain approval. The City shouldn’t reduce their aspirations and stated goals of what they want in exchange for entitlements, but we need to streamline our regulatory processes! City staff and the paid consultants need a gut check on how complex it is to gain approval in Davis. The level of minutiae being studied and evaluated is unbelievable, enormously time consuming and expensive. Everyone needs to be aware of the real costs and the forecasts for breakeven and returns. If the projects don’t pencil out, they will never get built. About 15 years ago, the University of California at Davis sponsored a request for proposals to build a business park on University land near the UCD off-ramp of I-80. World class developers competed, a team was selected, and then as the plan evolved, and the costs became clear, and the alignment of interests and risks and rewards became more clear, and then like now, the developer put the project on hold.   But that doesn’t mean give up. It means that as a City and as a University we have to learn our lessons. We need to consider choosing more affordable properties for development that can be phased and paid for as they build out and that will become sustainable more quickly.
  2. Developing and offering competitive sites will serve us as a community long term. Companies want choice, and competition will help the remaining applicants stay focused and will likely lead to better projects. And we as citizens of Davis should not put all of our eggs related to future job growth in one basket.
  3. The City of Davis might consider new public/private partnerships for the underutilized land and facilities of the City and the School District. The City, School District and County all have a mix of latent resources that could be refurbished and enhanced or scraped and redeveloped as infill commercial sites for new labs and offices. Consider the current Civic Center, the Public Works yard at 5th and Pole Line, and potentially relocate the community garden next door to it and then add the School District yard next door. Now we are talking about an infill site with real scale. Then there is the paint ball/go kart track. How about crafting a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) dealing with municipally owned properties? Clearly there are tradeoffs, but it would be valuable to consider.
  4. As a community we give lip service to economic development, but we have a difficult time approving and implementing real estate development as a necessary component of economic development. Economic development that relies on real estate development is a tough and lengthy process. We have a critical shortage of modern facilities for businesses to start, grow or flourish within our community, and we must address it.
  5. Finally, let’s as a community along with our Council and City staff amend and fine tune Measure J/R. We can still manage our growth in a manner that makes us a more vibrant, dynamic, affordable and sustainable community.

Davis needs to develop the real estate infrastructure required to lead us into the future. Our forefathers and mothers had the vision to build a railway station, to gain a charter and obtain the land for the University farm now UC Davis. We have had a great downtown evolve. The University evolved and brought us the Arboretum and diversified its offerings beyond Agriculture and Life Sciences to include Medicine, Law, Management, Arts, the Mondavi Center and much much more.   We have great schools a highly educated work force, and a high quality of life. We have much to be proud of. Going forward we need leverage our existing assets and position Davis for the future. We cannot miss a long overdue opportunity to bring creative, innovative world-class jobs and companies to Davis. Carry on, double-down, and let’s make it happen!

— Jim Gray is a longtime Davis resident, a Senior Vice President and shareholder of DTZ Commercial Real Estate and a commercial real estate broker and developer for over 30 years.

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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133 Comments

  1. Doby Fleeman

     
    Jim,

    It’s great to have the voice of a long time resident with a true understanding and appreciation of the risks inherent, for the developer, in promoting transformative development efforts.  Thanks for weighing in with a positive message that challenges us to think more broadly about prospects for the future.
     
    People often seem to forget the distinctions between the risks involved, particularly in Davis, between residential housing projects versus large, commercial developments – particularly commercial developments that focus on attracting and retaining world leading technology companies.
     
    Uncertainty is often the greatest impediment to exploration and investment.  So, in a very real sense, it is in the best interests of both the community (with its concerns over the future direction and needs of the community versus the impacts of potential new development), and the prospective developer (with its concern over the uncertainty of project approvals and future market demand) to encourage a public/private partnership to aggressively explore what this new, clean-slate, built reality might offer.
     
    Such a collaborative approach would help to insure that community values and community visions did not end up as second fiddle to the preferences of the development community. By the same token, this is not to say that these developments become some free candy shop for the community.  A truly collaborative approach would help all parties to better understand the realistic challenges, constraints and potential opportunities available.
     
    What do our citizens need in order to truly understand what their future Davis might need, and how it might look 20 to 30 years in the future – along with how we expect to pay for those improvements?

    So, how do we get from here to there?  When do we start the process of exploration? Who is to lead the conversation?    How do we insure that all voices will be heard in the process?  It seems these are the real questions we need to be asking if we are to effectively confront today’s log jam of fear and uncertainty.

    1. Miwok

      As a Downtown guy, Doby, you must more acutely aware of this than most of us. Good thoughts to the author and this comment from Doby.

      One thing I used to see in my small town was the County and City, knowing growth in important for survival of the community (many small towns are speed bumps now, as you know), made a plan, to benefit the community, put the word out, and asked for input and maybe a vote. Land was earmarked and some infrastructure was planned before they had a vote on it.

      Here – they imagine some grand scheme, hire consultants to do  a “study”, solicit bids or RFEI proposals, talk is generated, and before anything gets voted on. Cart before the Horse. And all the way, someone gets money that should have been spent in the community. People are feeling like they are being scammed for the benefit of a few. Then people make it political.

  2. Frankly

    This is a well done piece from one of the most knowledgeable and respected resident real estate experts.   Jim hits on some very key points and he does in a way that should not ruffle any feathers.  But I think he is not frank enough on some other points.

    Frankly, (because I am), there needs to be more admonition about the screwed up politics of Davis.  Namely, we are a voter-empowered city of liberal-conservative reactionaries that bark about anything and everything… throwing temper tantrums about any and every potential change that generates even the most minor of impacts.  And we tend to elect politicians either constrained in their ability to get anything substantive done, or else happy to just keep the peace while taking responsibility for only feel-good policy changes that everyone can sing Kumbaya about.

    Jim does a great job singing the praises of the city and the people in it, while also advocating for change.

    I cannot be that complementary.  I see significant dysfunction at play and it has become the absolute enemy of the good.  Unfortunately there are no easy fixes for what ails us.  The cat of empowered, disruptive, change-blocking expectations is out of the bag and will scratch and claw at any attempt to put it back.  So, we will spiral downward in one missed opportunity after another… to a point where we will not be provided any more.  Our regional neighbors will be only too happy to accept what we reject and high-five each other for their blessed luck to have dysfunctional Davis around to generate it.

    1. Davis Progressive

      “Frankly, (because I am), there needs to be more admonition about the screwed up politics of Davis.  Namely, we are a voter-empowered city of liberal-conservative reactionaries that bark about anything and everything… throwing temper tantrums about any and every potential change that generates even the most minor of impacts.”

      frankly, because you are, your pissing into a gale which is not going to be heard and is only going to get your face wet.  you’re not going to win a battle like this, waged in this way, in a city like davis.  you can’t change everyone’s mind.  where i think you can make headway is at the margins and i think jim gray actually paints a decent way forward.

        1. DavisBurns

          Yeah, Frankly! Bring in the Facists bulldozers! If we just obey the dictates of the growth at all costs class, those projects will get built no matter who objects or who gets hurt! Now that’s the way to get pesky citizens with non-conformist ideas out of the way (let’s build some concentration camps for dissenters–more money for private prisons and private profit). Democracy is just too messy and inefficient so let’s not let the liberals vote at all…voting is a privilege for the privileged class.

        2. Frankly

          Wow Davis Burns.  I surprised that you didn’t throw in the Nazi reference too.

          I love the old game being played… defend actual extremism by accusing the opposition of demanding extremism.

          Please settle down and do a bit of math.   With math you should easily see that Davis is far, far away from any slippery slope of anything close to what you are in opposition of… and well on its way down the slippery slope of decline from what you would defend.

        3. TrueBlueDevil

          I think the Progressives should support a large development of low income and Section 8 housing. Then tell me how horrible a small Innovation Center would be. Maybe add some room, too, for another mobile home park and a (medicinal) marijuana grow.

      1. Alan Miller

        [moderator] Request that we not use the term Fascist at all on the Vanguard. Thanks.

        Which, ironically, is a bit of f*****t declaration.

    2. TrueBlueDevil

      Good points. I expect more development in Dixon in the future, and then company employees can still live commute to Davis, and we lose the revenue benefits.

      About being “frank”, I think the City Manager / head bean counters need to spell out how the costs will skyrocket if there unmet backlog on roads and other critical infrastructure facilities are not met. Is it $120 million now, $200 Million in 5 years (with the set aside for some road work), and $400 million in 10 years? I recall reading that if we let roads crumble beyond a certain point, the costs just skyrocket.

      The empty city lots make for an interesting consideration. I also think we should put a good deal of thought into locating some sport courts here – softball, soccer, etc – so that all of our children and community don’t have to travel out to some exterior mega-sports complex. Current sports facilities augmented by a few new additions may forestall the need for some new megaplex, and allow citizens to walk or bike to competitions, and then have a drink or pizza downtown. Study the cost-benefit / ramifications.

      I think some of the new architectural plans also look very unappealing, like the proposed Nishi hotel. Why is everything modern, cold, ugly? If we made the look and feel softer and more inviting, it might deflect some of the negative reactions. I like the redwood-shingle look, trellis, vines.

      1. Davis Progressive

        “I expect more development in Dixon in the future, and then company employees can still live commute to Davis, and we lose the revenue benefits.”

        i think the development is less going to be in dixon and more the south side of the uc davis campus.

        second, part of the problem right now in the city is we lack “bean counters” – the finance director has just retired.  the city manager doesn’t have a background in finance.  so a few years ago we had paul navazio and steve pinkerton, now we really lack anyone with that kind of background.

        “Why is everything modern, cold, ugly?”

        you end up in a matter of taste, obviously not everyone views it as cold and ugly.

        1. TrueBlueDevil

          I believe we already had one report / estimate that showed how road repair costs skyrocket with the delay in repair. I’m not sure we need a new person, just someone with a bully pulpit and some basic math skills to bring those realities to life.

  3. Davis Progressive

    here’s a problem: where are the progressives?  they seemed disengaged from the political process but will show up to thwart change.  somehow the community needs to reengage the progressives in politics.

    1. Frankly

      I think Davis does not really have many “progressives”… more change-averse reactionaries sprinkled with some agitated social justice crusaders and left-leaning politicos.

      We are really not progressive.  At best, we only follow other communities for the feel-good policies.  The Toad Tunnel was the last progressive things done… and I’m sure you appreciate the magnitude of benefit derived from that unique policy decision.

      If you disagree, please provide a list of things done that justify this “progressive” label.

      1. Davis Progressive

        i agree with your point that davis isn’t that progressive – although with the caveat that i think you misinterpret the term in general.  that said, that wasn’t really my point.

    2. davisite4

      If the community wants to engage progressives in the process, it needs to take their concerns seriously, not ridicule and exaggerate them.  It needs to convince people of the benefits of and the need for development, not just assume (as this article does) that more economic development is good and needed.  If you want to engage people you have to meet them where they are (not necessarily literally, although that can help) and actually listen to what they have to say and acknowledge their concerns.  I have not seen any such behaviors from the pro-development forces in town.  Then they are surprised when the progressives aren’t on board.

      1. Topcat

        …It needs to convince people of the benefits of and the need for development, not just assume (as this article does) that more economic development is good and needed.

        And the pro industrial parks folks need to talk about the negative impacts of such development including more traffic congestion, loss of agricultural land, need for more infrastructure, more water usage, and the inevitable pressure for more housing that will result from more people in town.  If those of us that don’t want to see Davis go the way of Vacaville or Roseville are ignored, then don’t be surprised if there is a defeat when this thing comes up for a vote.

        1. davisite4

          Agreed.  It’s not like the voters are unaware of these negatives.  So, the developers need to address them head on, not sweep them under the rug, “nothing to see here.”  How are they going to be mitigated?  What is going to be so beneficial about the business parks that we put up with these negative impacts?

        2. Doby Fleeman

          Exactly.  Is it really so difficult for our City Council members to see the wisdom of these comments?  It’s not up to the industrialists to explain to the community why their developments will add value to the community. 

          Of course they will, but only the community can define what constitutes “value added”.  Until the citizens of Davis are provided with a legitimate platform to express their concerns, their dreams, their expectations – along with a discussion of how we might expect to pay for all these important programs and amenities – the entire exercise is a waste.

          1. David Greenwald

            ” It’s not up to the industrialists to explain to the community why their developments will add value to the community. ”

            I don’t think I agree on that point.

  4. DanH

    Excellent article. I agree that Measure R needs some serious modification for 2020. The Ramos idea for an advisory vote makes sense and so does a change to a simple majority for passage.

  5. Alan Miller

    Our forefathers and mothers had the vision to build a railway station

    Or perhaps they were just tired of sitting on a bench in the rain while waiting for a train.

  6. Robb Davis

    A few thoughts/reactions.

    1. I appreciated the thoughtfulness of the article and the specific recommendations.  There is certainly something here for city officials, citizens at large, and business people and investors to consider.
    2. I don’t expect Jim to respond here but a question I have concerns this statement: “…the time to a real payday kept getting pushed out with no end in sight.”  I am not sure what this means given that nothing in the timing has changed since last July.  Indeed, timelines have been respected.  Perhaps Jim is referring to the overall development environment.  From the City’s perspective we were moving quickly to bring these before Council so we could vote on whether to place them on the ballot next year.  Nothing was pushing that back.  I explicitly asked the D.I.C team members this question.
    3. Jim wrote: “The City of Davis might consider new public/private partnerships for the underutilized land and facilities of the City and the School District.”  I cannot, of course, speak for the school district, but I can say that one of the purposes of conducting a citywide update of property inventory is to determine what sites might be appropriate for redevelopment.  This is dealt with in two different locations within the City Council goals with action expected later this year and next.  I am also curious in regard to “public/private partnerships” what people have in mind, what models are out there and what people suggest in this regard.  Again, keeping in mind the “ends” of a more diversified and resilient economy, what are some other public/private partnership models we might consider?
    4. Finally (for now), Jim wrote: “Finally, let’s as a community along with our Council and City staff amend and fine tune Measure J/R. We can still manage our growth in a manner that makes us a more vibrant, dynamic, affordable and sustainable community.”  I have heard David mention this and now Jim.  I would be very interested in seeing specific proposals from those who support amendment or fine tuning.  Measure J was passed as a citizens’ initiative and I would like to hear what citizens have to offer in terms of concrete proposals in regards to modification or fine tuning of Measure R.  This is sure to be a contentious issue but I would be interested in what those with specific ideas have in mind.

      1. Davis Progressive

        exactly.  if you pushed the vote to the first part of the process, then if approved, the council could entitle the property as any other.  you would just have the admonition that there be no bait and switch – it has to remain economic development with no housing.

      2. Alan Miller

        The specific proposal I have seen over the last couple of years is to have the Measure R vote earlier in the process.

        So citizens can vote on a vague plan that will be detailed later.

        1. Don Shor

          Citizens would vote on the annexation and zoning change, the council would control the details of the plan within general guidelines set by the vote. Details would be part of the development agreement. By the way, I’m not advocating for or against this; it’s just what has been discussed here before over the years.

  7. Robb Davis

    Don – I have heard that too but wonder how that fits with the ordinance–especially the parts I highlight below (the point being, how specific must the “baseline project features” be and how early in the process can they, realistically, be defined):
    (By the way, anyone who wants to brush up on the ordinance can start here and go to Chapter 41

    Any application for an amendment or modification of the land use map that proposes changing the land use map land use designation for any property from an agricultural, open space, or urban reserve land use designation (e.g., agricultural, open space, agricultural reserve, urban reserve, environmentally sensitive habitat, Davis greenbelt) to an urban land use designation or from an agricultural designation to an urban reserve designation shall require:
    (A)   Establishment of baseline project features and requirements such as recreation facilities, public facilities, significant project design features, sequencing or phasing, or similar features and requirements as shown on project exhibits and plans submitted for voter approval, which cannot be eliminated, significantly modified or reduced without subsequent voter approval;
    (B)   Approval by the city council, after compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act, the State planning and zoning laws and any other applicable laws or regulations; and then
    (C)   Approval by an affirmative majority vote of the voters of the City of Davis voting on the proposal.

    1. Davis Progressive

      i think you just need an exemption to circumvent that requirement for projects that are economic development and no housing.  the voters still need to approve it, but in concept only.

      1. Jim Frame

        i think you just need an exemption to circumvent that requirement for projects that are economic development and no housing.  the voters still need to approve it, but in concept only.

         

        DOA.   Voter approval “in concept only” is a green light for the CC to get creative with words and do whatever it wants.

        1. hpierce

          Yes, and if they did so, they would be subject to recall just as would any action they took be subject to referendum.  50% + 1.  I realize this is a hard concept to grasp.

        2. Jim Frame

          Yes, and if they did so, they would be subject to recall just as would any action they took be subject to referendum.  50% + 1.  I realize this is a hard concept to grasp.

          It’s an easy concept to grasp — despite your repeated sarcasm to the contrary — but a very difficult one to implement.  Thus the likelihood that the voters would not choose to surrender their veto.

           

      2. hpierce

        No… it needs to be revised, but in such a way that it applies to all major projects.  The other alternative (that I believe is practical), is total repeal, and use the referendum process as necessary.

        1. David Greenwald

          I don’t think you’ll get the votes to repeal it and it will be very difficult to modify it. Putting housing in would doom any effort to tweak it.

        2. hpierce

          Well, I wouldn’t seek the votes, as there are too many fools who don’t realize the power they had before measures J/R.  The “difficulty” amending it doesn’t have anything to do with the ‘wisdom’ to do it.  Fools will be fools, and they will have to deal with that.

          I’ve gotten beyond needing to change fools’ minds. I will challenge their purported “facts”, if they are not facts, so as not to grow the population of fools.

        3. hpierce

          “Putting housing in would doom any effort to tweak it.”  Stated as a fact, not an opinion.  [after all, you are a ‘reporter’] The opinion may well be valid.  But, it is not a FACT.

          And yes, feel free to ‘connect the dots’.

          1. David Greenwald

            You’re correct, meant as my opinion (though I’d probably attach a lot of certainty behind that opinion, it is in the end, my opinion).

  8. Frankly

    2. I don’t expect Jim to respond here but a question I have concerns this statement: “…the time to a real payday kept getting pushed out with no end in sight.”  I am not sure what this means given that nothing in the timing has changed since last July.  Indeed, timelines have been respected.

    Project timelines are only part of the consideration for investment in a project like this.  Outside of external forces that impacted the cost-benefit feasibility, I suspect that the realization of mounting internal city-approval-related costs and opposition pushed the project over the edge for no longer being feasible.

    The unfortunate thing from my perspective is the CC and city staff decisions and behavior leading up to this unfortunate decision by the developer appear to synch nicely with the outcome.  You have written quite strongly in opposition to my assertion that not enough was being done on the economic development front.  Well if I was just to shift to measuring outcomes and not doing so much speculation, my early assertions seem very well founded.

    If symbolism matters, then city leadership has symbolized a turn against economic development even as we are told that great work is being done to promote it.   Either that or the front-line support for economic development was darkened as everyone put on their detailed analysis hats to help make perfection the enemy of the good.

    And what do we have to show for all of that?  One dead innovation park and another on the ropes.  In the end maybe all we get is more high density housing at Nishi… the thing that we just can’t seem to stop wringing our hands about and a thing that will just make our fiscal problems worse in the long run.

    1. Doby Fleeman

      Point is, it doesn’t really matter exactly what Jim meant by his observation.  He answers the question in the following two sentences:

      Most investment decisions come down to opportunity cost and the allocation of capital. If there are other projects that can be delivered with more certainty, for a greater return and less risk, those projects will most likely attract and retain the investment dollars.

      As I intended to emphasize in my earlier comment: Uncertainty is often the greatest impediment to exploration and investment.

      Often it’s not about “not doing anything wrong”, but rather “trying to doing every within your power to demonstrate your unwavering commitment to seeing the process through to a successful conclusion” and that “everything” often includes a lot of hand holding along the way – particularly when you are asking a private investor to go at risk on hundreds of millions of dollars.  If we’re not prepared to recognize that reality, and respond accordingly, then we’re not prepared to be playing in this league.

    2. Robb Davis

      Well, Frankly, it appears that you are insisting on having your pound of flesh.  The decision by the Davis Innovation Center partners to put their project on hold simply MUST be the fault of the City Council and staff.  It must be!

      The unfortunate thing from my perspective is the CC and city staff decisions and behavior leading up to this unfortunate decision by the developer appear to synch nicely with the outcome. 

      What behavior, precisely, are you talking about–and I mean specifically?  Because the decisions have been to do exactly what is required by law and best practices to move a project forward.  So, tell me exactly what we have done–what decisions we have made that precipitated their decision?

      Well if I was just to shift to measuring outcomes and not doing so much speculation, my early assertions seem very well founded.

      But they remain assertions without any basis in causality.  Interestingly, I have had two extended conversations with the principals and they have mentioned NOTHING along this line.  Perhaps you or someone you know has other information.  Please, bring it to the table.  Don’t be shy.  What have they told you that they were unwilling to tell me?

      If symbolism matters, then city leadership has symbolized a turn against economic development even as we are told that great work is being done to promote it.   Either that or the front-line support for economic development was darkened as everyone put on their detailed analysis hats to help make perfection the enemy of the good.

      Again, what exactly have we done that symbolizes a turn against economic development?  Please be specific.  

      The detailed analysis you decry here is the simply the nuts and bolts of putting a project like this together from a regulatory and economic assessment perspective.  The consultant we have on board shepherding the process is highly respected in the region and the state and assures me that what we are doing is simply standard operating procedure.  No “perfection enemy of the good” going on here–just people doing their jobs to get this done.

      You have your narrative but there are other narratives out there as to why the proponents pulled out.  

      How about this one:

      The proponents looked at the Davis community and saw no active support for their project.  They were aware of detractors–a few people who had concerns, but they saw no one stepping up with active support. They saw no one coming forward from among the population asking what proponents could do to make their project a success.  They saw so-called supporters on the VG lashing out at opponents, but they did not see that ardor translated into active support. They saw no supporters showing up at public meetings or during the listening tour.  They concluded that there was no strong community support for their project.

      They also realized that Davis is not the kind of community with strong support for start-ups–there are very few local investors investing locally (Davis Roots an execution).  They saw a very lightweight “start-up ecosystem” and it concerned them because they want to fill their park with successful companies with strong local support–not just heavy hitters from out of town who have no commitment to the community.

      They also experienced a whispering campaign that suggested their project was less well suited than the other one.  This did not come from no-growthers but from community members who publicly supported the innovation parks.  They realized that Davis development is “inside baseball” and realized that they did not have the support they needed.

      Why not engage this narrative and ask what you can learn from it?

      1. Don Shor

        The proponents looked at the Davis community and saw no active support for their project.

        You mean Frankly and his friends weren’t organizing outreach and political activities on behalf of these peripheral developments they favor so strongly?

      2. Frankly

        Robb – thanks for responding.  You make several interesting points that warrant further discussion.

        First though I need to explain something about the difference between private and public “outreach” and advocacy for peripheral land use.  And while we are on this topic, let’s not forget about the CC decision on Mace 391 and the private advocacy for it to not be pissed away on the continued farmland moat pursuit.   I know, I know… there are a thousand reasons why the CC had to concede to the Yolo Land Trust and USDA untruths that they would be harmed by a decision by the city to do the economically prudent thing… but the sad fact remains that the CC did NOT do the economically prudent thing.  You see, in addition to economic considerations of that decision being dismissed, it was also a lost opportunity for a teaching moment by city leaders.  That teaching moment was to say that our economic ecosystem, and not our natural ecosystem, was the most need of repair and that we voters in Davis better get behind the need to repair our economy or else.

        But back to your points.

        There are several problems with this expectation that the private business side of the Davis population can somehow push the economic development builder up hill.

        1. As you know there is a limited inventory of private-side business folk in this town.  And many are small retailers that have benefited from the lack of competition resulting from the blocks on growth.  And look at other cities… they staff the economic development resources.  Instead, we staff for open space acquisition.

        2. Any business leader that pushes for new development will be immediately denigrated in this partisan divide and conquer political climate where “corporations”, “CEOs”, “business owners”, etc… are branded as evil and/or only pursuing their self-interest at the “expense” of the “people”.   Just look at what Don Shor writes about the Kings Arena in downtown Sac to get a flavor of that tactic.

        3. Unlike public-side business, most private-side business today is hyper-competitive.  Business leaders cannot so easily take time off to develop and run a political campaign to sell voters on the benefit of peripheral development for economic expansion.

        Again, what exactly have we done that symbolizes a turn against economic development?  Please be specific.

        – The railroading of Steve Pinkerton

        – The silencing of Rob White

        – The rise of the demand for housing to be included in the parks

        – The Dan Carson factor… inferring that our budget problems are over since we have a surplus

        – The hand wringing over the competition between parks, instead of advocacy for all

        – The lack of substantive and ongoing communication from leaders in city government focusing on economic development instead of the din from fluoride, bags and MRAPs.

        The big roadblock is simply one of land-use.  The comparisons are all there in plain sight for everyone to see.  Davis is so far outside the standard deviation of economic metrics that we should not even really be debating IF we should develop business parks… the debate should be simply WHAT we want the business parks to look like.

        There is no doubt in my mind that you and other CC members and many city staff are working hard for the city.  My complaint is that there has been a clear focus away from economic development leading up to the Davis Innovation Center developers pulling out.

        Remember that the governor killed RDA to give more money to his political benefactor CA teacher unions.  In killing RDA he wiped out a lot of the public AND private resource infrastructure that previously helped shepherd economic development.

        But again, we are talking about land-use here.  That is a public policy challenge that cannot be overcome by private parties… especially when the reception from our elected officials is at best lukewarm.

        1. Robb Davis

          Frankly–so the reason the DIC partners pulled out is because of all the things that have angered you about Council decisions over the past year.  You have freighted their decision with everything you dislike about local governance.  I get it but don’t find it helpful.

          In terms of causality (why the partnership put their project on hold):

          Mace 391 happened long before the partnership came to town.  If it was a “flashing red light” they saw it long before they submitted anything.
          Pinkerton was gone before they submitted a proposal.
          Whatever you perceive to have happened with Rob White the fact remains he and Sarah set up an ambitious work plan that NO member of staff or Council has thwarted.
          Dan Carson does not work for the city and does not speak for the city government. You may as well blame Dave Ryan of the Enterprise for writing about the improving revenue picture.
          No staff or CC has wrung their hands over competition–most thought it was a good thing.  Loading 3 projects onto a single ballot may have been a problem (that was called out) but it was far from hand wringing.
          The lack of ongoing communication… I am confused by that one.  You have not been to the listening tour sessions.  You have, apparently, not followed discussion of the ongoing fiscal challenges the city face that CC members have addressed over and over in Council meetings.
          All the “side issues” you name are part and parcel of running a city the size of Davis.  As I have said before, so many things we do on a week to week basis form the foundation of solid and sustainable growth but you conveniently (continue) to ignore them. Why?

          I am sorry, I am just not seeing your point. I do know this: when people in this town really want something, they tend to give up weekends, evenings and part with their own money to get the word out, table at the market, go door to door, etc.  I see that busy business people cannot do that, I am just saying that that is how successful campaigns are run here.

          I am going to let this conversation go Frankly.  We clearly do not agree.  You feel the city failed in some systemic way and is responsible for the decision, I feel it is far more complex than that.

          Yes, this is about land use and the voters, until something changes about Measure R, have the final say.  My job is to make sure if I send them something on a ballot that I have done my level best to provide a project that is in the City’s interests.  That is what we have been working towards.

        2. Frankly

          Perceptions are reality Robb.  You can argue the facts from your perspective, but I am far from alone in having the perception that the city is doing more to kill these projects than to move them along to fruition.

          I agree that the reasons that DIC pulled out are more layered and complex than this; but it then connects to my disappointment that city leaders have not put economic development as the highly-visible, top-level focus.  This is pushing a giant bolder up hill.  We all need to be working to push it up, not standing on it jumping up and down on it and demanding more concrete be added to it.

          Believe it or not Robb, when you and other CC members talk, people listen.  You have the power and influence to move the needle with voters to be more supportive and less skeptical of these projects.

          I think Doby has advocated for a facilitated visioning process that incorporates the myriad of Davis DNA wants and desires.   Personally, I think we have spent enough time and effort with visioning and planning, and we are only left with this peripheral land-use challenge.  But I would support anything that helps move us forward to a collective recognition of voters that we must support peripheral economic development.  Who will lead that effort if not our elected representatives and the city staff?  As we can see by the decision of the DIC, the private side will not invest in it unless there is some reasonable clear path.

        3. Miwok

          I do not know how detailed these proposals are, or Interest statements, but I only remember a bid my dad submitted for building a part of a plant in Indiana years ago. Another builder came in with a bid $10K under on about a $250K project, and my dad always put in specifications for floor strength, nuts, bolts, windows, doors, etc. They got the job, but specified none of it, and at the ribbon cutting, they walked into a building with no floor. Dirt. When asked “how much is that” the guy said $10K.

          So how detailed are these proposals going to the voters? Concepts? Nice Drawings? Press releases? Seen all that. What else?

          Also, how many of the elected officials have ever turned a shovel and seen a project through? Are they getting the “Sales Pitch” take on it, or working from experienced people’s reviews, which some of you seem very experienced at looking over?

        4. Frankly

          Miwok – this is different.  The Developer is developing a project that he will sell off to various buyers.  He has to make the project fit the needs/wants of prospective buyers.  In other words, we don’t need a lot of detailed specifications because of the difficulty the developer would face selling a building without a “floor”.

          Also, we have copious city, state and national requirements for development that precludes a developer from not including a “floor”.

          Now, there are the all the goodies that the city wants, and those need to be spelled out in the developer agreement with the city.  Many of those are not in the developers best interest (benefit the city, not help increase the value to the prospective buyer) so the city needs to not only make sure the agreement includes these things, but also must demonstrate that it will enforce them.  We can see from the recent CFD decision for the Cannery that the city sometimes does not enforce these agreement terms.  That needs to change.

        5. Miwok

          Thank you, then they really do just sell the “sizzle” and not the steak?

          The drawings they present are not the way it will look in real life? I can see the problems..

  9. Doby Fleeman

    Quoting my earlier comment, David wrote:

    ” It’s not up to the industrialists to explain to the community why their developments will add value to the community. ”

    I don’t think I agree on that point.

    David,

    Does that mean you disagree with my subsequent statement:

    Of course they will, but only the community can define what constitutes “value added”.  Until the citizens of Davis are provided with a legitimate platform to express their concerns, their dreams, their expectations – along with a discussion of how we might expect to pay for all these important programs and amenities – the entire exercise is a waste.

    In the end, who is it that makes the call?

     

      1. Doby Fleeman

        We have no argument here, but most communities would see the inherent value in a proposal to bring a clutch of well-paying, leading edge job opportunities to town.   If you take that point as a given, then the conversation can pivot to a more, in-depth conversation and analysis of how to best fit that opportunity into the community.   The real excitement and challenge lies in managing the process to a successful outcome for the community.   If the community isn’t interested in the basic proposition, as they say, you can’t make a horse drink.

        I’m simply trying to make a point which thus far seems to have eluded the conversation:

        The true challenge for the developer is convincing clients and tenants to occupy the space they have imagined.  Of this, there is no sure guarantee.   Somehow, we seem to have discounted this component of the equation to zero – as if it has no consequence to the calculus behind the effort.

         

         

         

  10. Frankly

    ” It’s not up to the industrialists to explain to the community why their developments will add value to the community. ”
    I don’t think I agree on that point.

    This is a very interesting comment… and I think it demonstrates some the Davis dysfunction.

    Certainly the devlopers of something unique like the Kings Arena in dowtown Sacramento needed to explain how it would add value to the community.  But two points… one – it would have probably never happen without Mayor Kevin Johnson championing it.  Two – business parks are ubiquitous in their benefits to a community and are rarely blocked by members of the community BECAUSE MOST EVEN SLIGHTLY EDUCATED PEOPLE CAN EASILY COMPREHEND THE VAULE!

    What are we really talking about here?

    We are talking about a situation where Davis has elevated the dime-a-dozen professional critic to power to block almost anything and everything that they can find even the smallest reason to dislike.

    I get the draw to this “empowerment of the people” measure R thing and I understand why some people are so protective of it now that it is acquired.  But it is not good.  It is not good because visionary and leaderhship skills are not ubiquitous.  They bless a minortiy that are the movers and shakers… the people that create the type of spaces we like to visit and are amazed by and awed by… that bring people together in work and play.  These great visions are rarely recognized organically and incrementally.  If they do the beneficiaries are very fortunate and the luck will be fleeting.  

    The great and sustainable designs are the ones conceived of and executed by this smaller subset of leaders and visionaries.  Measure R emasulates these people and hands the controls to those that don’t do well with dynamism and change.  Measure R gives power to the change-averse, blocking-types.  The non-leaders and non-visionaries.

    It really should not be the responsibility of the developer to try to change the minds of all these empowered change-averse, blocking types… primarily because most of them will never be convinced because they lack the ability to visualize a future state and are therefore fearful of it.  However, elected politicians could move the needle if they would only do the work of the leading champions siimilar to Kevin Johnson and the Kings Arena.
    But, we really seem to be screwed from both ends.

    1. Frankly

      Let me add something.

      Grand visions can be realized collaboratively (to a point), and I would support that.  However, until and unless we do something to prevent the nervous change-averse from blocking progress… and collaborative design effort will be a waste of time.  Those that want to block change will continue to want to block change no matter who works on the design.

    2. Don Shor

      The Kings Arena is one of the best arguments FOR Measure R that I can think of. No special interest garbage like that would happen in Davis, because the public would automatically have the opportunity to vote it down.

      1. Frankly

        The Kings Arena downtown is a big win for the city of Sacramento.  It will cause a revitalization… is already causing a revitalization (you do know that the K Street Mall was heading toward bankruptcy, right?) of the entire area.  The “special” in your “special interest” claim are basically the people of the community.

        1. Barack Palin

          My son works close to the new arena.  Much of that area was/is an eyesore with many vacant businesses.  My son says he is already seeing a revitalization of the area because of the new arena.

        2. Don Shor

          The Kings arena is going to be a traffic nightmare for the whole region, and is costing the city of Sacramento hundreds of millions of dollars. It is a fiscal disaster, a planning disaster, and of marginal benefit to the downtown. K Street Mall has been teetering on bankruptcy for as long as I’ve lived here.
          The Kings Arena is the best argument you could come up with in FAVOR of Measure R. The Kings Arena plan should have gone to a vote of the public.
          http://www.fieldofschemes.com/2014/05/12/7295/final-kings-arena-plan-sacramento-would-take-roughly-226m-loss-to-keep-team-in-town/

        3. Barack Palin

          Another example is ATT Park.  That area was also an eyesore before the new stadium went in.  Now it’s a booming example of what a shot in the arm the new park provided.  New restaurants, businesses and just a general total revitalization of the whole district.  Before you wouldn’t dare go in that area, now it’s a go to place to visit.

        4. Frankly

          Don – there is something disconnected in your criticism of the downtown arena.  You do realize that many people chose to live in highly congested urban areas with copious economic opportunities and lots of things to do?   You seem to overlay your chosen lifestyle to live on a rural farm on everyone else.

          Look at LA.  Staples Center and American Live… that area has driven the revitalization of the entire downtown.  Condos are going up.  Public transportation is being beefed up.  Young professionals are flooding there.  What would you have preferred, that those things were never developed and instead it was used for a community farm?

        5. Frankly

          The Kings Arena plan should have gone to a vote of the public.

          Your disconnected arguments against it are prime evidence that many development projects should never be handed to the voters.  They lack big picture objectivity and vote based on their small picture emotional responses.

          1. Don Shor

            My arguments are not disconnected, Frankly. The Kings Arena will cause significant traffic issues in the area. That was identified by the EIR and is described as not being possible to mitigate. That will affect all of us. The place for a sports arena, if you are going to build one, is peripheral. Arco was a more appropriate site than downtown.
            This thing is a gift to the Kings owners, it fleeces the taxpayers of Sacramento. It is a traffic planning nightmare. Certainly nobody who considers himself a conservative should approve this use of taxpayer funds. Any development project of this magnitude and with these unmanageable adverse impacts should be put before the voters. The mayor, who is incredibly arrogant, and the city council were simply afraid to do so.

        6. Alan Miller

          you do know that the K Street Mall was heading toward bankruptcy, right?

          Largely due to the City of Sac ineptitude and subsidizing unsustainable businesses to move into the area while keeping out businesses that could succeed at market rate, instead of investing in area infrastructure.

        7. Frankly

          So Don wants the inmates running the asylum.

          So, Don, where you also against Raley Field being built?  Look at all that traffic!  Such a travesty!

          And the next professional soccer stadium at the old rail yard… what about that?  I know that Davis liberals tend to like soccer and dislike NBA and NFL… I think they are sort of neutral on MLB.

          I wanted the Kings to remain on the periphery for selfish reasons because it is pretty easy to get in and out of the parking lot.  However, the Sacramento downtown had been growing quite decrepit with boarded up stores and more vagrants than shoppers.  Everyone that knows anything about the economic status of the downtown is excited about the new Arena.   Check the cost of housing in the area… prices have shot up over 25% over surrounding housing inflation just because of the buzz.

          1. Don Shor

            I don’t care what type of sports are being played. I’m not sure what your cheap shot about what kind of sports “Davis liberals” prefer is all about. My concern is the traffic and the financing.
            Raley Field

            is one of the few professional sports facilities in the nation built without a public sector contribution. Although constructed using bonds financed by the River City Stadium Financing Authority, bond payments are paid from ticket, concession, advertising, and other revenues, not taxes.

            It does not create significant traffic issues on the highways nearby. It cost $47 million. The new Kings Arena will cost $470 million and is being paid for by looting city parking fees, by tax give-backs, and the city gains nothing from the arena’s revenues.

          2. Don Shor

            So Don wants the inmates running the asylum.

            So Frankly wants developers planning cities.

        8. Frankly

          So Frankly wants developers planning cities.

          Don’t be silly Don.

          We have zoning, and protocol for changing zoning.  We have the EIR requirements.  We have planning and development departments and we have construction codes.

          Developers do not plan cities, they plan developments.  Our city leaders and the planning staff should plan the city.

          Letting voters plan the city is the worst of all methods because there are no standard and controls that voters are held accountable to follow.

        9. Frankly

          The Kings Arena is about a 50/50 public-private partnership.  There is a significant body of evidence that downtown sports arenas/fields that are financed with a public-private partnership provide a significant net benefit to the public.  There are very few arenas and parks that are 100% private financed.

          But like for Davis economic development you discount those benefits and rail against impacts based only on your lifestyle choices.   This is a bit of a selfish perspective from my perspective.

          Personally I dream of taking the train to a Kings game and going to dinner and having a few cocktails before taking the train back home.  That is one of my selfish reasons for wanting the arena downtown.

        10. Frankly

          The economic model includes spurring additional commercial development that increases revenue to the city over time.  Most of the studies done on other parks fails to include this.  One reason is the practical problem of deciding when any new development was the result of the arena or other factors.  The other problem is that most of the “studies” are driven by groups and people that have a political grind against government funded economic development in general.  They start their studies with a method of modeling only that which meets their goal.

          Staples Center and AT&T Park are prime examples.

          Even Sacramento already has seen a spurt in residential and commercial development as a result of the new Kings Arena.  property values are up and so is property tax revenue.

          Those in opposition to the project will work furiously to discount the growth in other development as being connected to other factors, but then they would be mostly wrong.  As someone that rubs shoulders with people that invest in downtown Sacramento, the buzz is real.

          A key to predicting a net positive or net negative impact is to assess the total opportunity for regional economic growth.  Sacramento downtown, like South San Francisco where AT&T park was built, are areas poised for tremendous improvements.  Staples Center is a different animal.  The buzz there is the gentrification that is going on… the increase in high-rise housing and young professionals and high-tech business.   The economy of the area is improving, but more importantly the social and environmental aspects of the area are improving.

          Sacramento downtown with the river running through it is a diamond in the rough.  The Kings Arena combined with Raley field and the Professional Soccer stadium at the rail yard… they are the projects that will tip the balance to more city investment and growth.  I highly recommend investment in downtown Sac real estate if you haven’t already.

  11. Jim Frame

    What I find so curious are these repeated claims — by Frankly, hpierce, et al — that the expressed will of the electorate — expressed not just once, but twice — needs to be overturned because it’s not in the best interests of the electorate.

    1. Frankly

      Just like Davis liberals want to legislate choice of food for the electorate because it is not in the best interest of the electorate.  The reason that we steer clear of direct democracy is that the electorate will generally vote for short-term gain/pleasure/comfort, over long-term health.

      1. Jim Frame

        The reason that we steer clear of direct democracy is that the electorate will generally vote for short-term gain/pleasure/comfort, over long-term health.

         

        The claim about short-term / long-term is debatable, but the fact is that we’ve not steered clear of direct democracy, we’ve implemented it twice.

        1. hpierce

          Actually, what you said is incorrect.  There were also referenda on both Wildhorse and Mace Ranch [direct democracy, using your terms].  Both prior to Measure J/R… both were to overturn the CC decisions… both failed.  Both were via “popular vote”.  You are entitled to your opinions, but…

    2. hpierce

      You mischaracterize my position… big time… the referendum process has always existed.  As a result, I see no reason for Measure R/J.  I have never disputed the electorate’s right to vote on major land use decisions.  For me, it’s “time/place/manner.”

        1. hpierce

          That is true.  It is also true that my opinion/experience, after talking to many people who voted for those measures, is that the overwhelming majority thought that was the ONLY way they’d have a chance to vote on land use decisions.  And they were wrong.

          And you still mischaracterized my position, and lumped me in with someone I do not agree with on the vote process. But you have chosen not to acknowledge that. fine.

        1. hpierce

          My understanding is it’s 5% of the # of voters in the previous general election signing a petition for the referendum.  Think I explained this recently.

          Measure J/R changed the onus for voting on land use decisions… there is also the recall procedure (for CC members) think that is also at the 5% level.

          My opinion is that the no-growther’s knew that when in doubt, voters vote “no”, when Measure J was proposed.

          Happened @ Covell Village and Wildhorse Ranch.  Surprisingly, did not happen with Target.

          I wouldn’t be surprised if the no-growther’s would like to see Measure J/R amended to require a 67%-75% vote to affirm an annexation/development.  Hell, lets make the standard 99.5% to annex land…

        2. Jim Frame

          hpierce
          May 18, 2015 at 8:57 pm

          No… it needs to be revised, but in such a way that it applies to all major projects.  The other alternative (that I believe is practical), is total repeal, and use the referendum process as necessary.

          I interpreted this to be a statement about your beliefs regarding Measure R.  If it wasn’t, then I retract my association between you and Frankly and apologize for the mischaracterization.

        3. hpierce

          Jim… I say 3 times… I believe in the right of the electorate to overturn CC land use decisions.  I believe that it should not necessarily be an “automatic” hurdle.  Referendum/Measure J/R are popular votes… right now that means 50% +1… I’m convinced that many posters here would like to see the vote be more than that, and, given the electorate’s inclination to vote “no” if they aren’t FULLY supportive, even the 50% + 1 is a pretty high bar to clear.  That’s after opportunities to oppose/kill @ PC AND CC.  The Davis version of the “three strikes” law.  You have to clear 3 votes to proceed.  If you are shot down @ PC, you do not proceed unless there is an appeal.  If you get shot down by CC, you’re dead, unless you go for “initiative”.  With Measure J/R, you have to go to a general vote.  Even if PC and CC vote unanimously for the project.  Sounds fair to me…  if you are a BANANA.

          We are not a democracy, we are a republic.  In a democracy (a ‘true one’) we would collectively decide/vote on every aspect of civic life.  What consultant was selected to do work for the city, what employee should be promoted, what employee contracts should be approved, whether we should buy office supplies from every specific vendor, etc.

          Some would like that.  I don’t.

        4. Jim Frame

          Not sensitive, I just don’t want anyone to think that Measure J/R and the referendum are comparable processes.  Relying on the referendum means that the rezone goes forward unless the voters mount a labor-intensive and expensive campaign in a very limited amount of time to stop it; Measure J/R means that the rezone has to be approved by the voters or it fails.  They are two very different animals.

        5. hpierce

          And, Jim, I accept the acknowledgement that you mischaracterized me… I know you to be a person of high ethics, even tho’ we may disagree on issues.

  12. Alan Miller

    Agree with Don on this one.  Sac ain’t SF or LA and never will be.  Also, SF and LA weren’t foolish enough to build the think smack in the core.  The area will get some benefit right at game time, but most people will flood out quickly, and downtown remains the barren wasteland it’s been for years due to Sac’s insanely poor policies for downtown.  They subsidize connected, unsuccessful businesses that survive until the subsidy runs out, and then they go under and the owner writes then off as a loss.  Meanwhile, city blocks remain vacant as they have for decades now.  The arena isn’t going to turn that around, and is a fiscal noose around the city.  The traffic before and after game time will be horrific.  This could have been placed slightly out of downtown, but right in the core is a crock of a plan, and the way they pulled it off bypassing a vote was shameless.

    1. Davis Progressive

      “Sac ain’t SF or LA and never will be. ”

      never is a long time.  i don’t think anyone would have expected san jose to become what it has become.

    2. Frankly

      AM – I think you are very wrong here.  We can wager.  If we are both here a few years after the arena is open, I suggest the loser of this pay for a King’s game, hotdog and beer.

      1. Alan Miller

        I suggest the loser of this pay for a King’s game, hotdog and beer.

        Not interested in ball games, don’t eat meat, and don’t drink.

        You’ll have to change the terms of this bet big time.

  13. Davis Progressive

    don: i don’t see that the arena is going to have regional traffic impacts.  first of all, it’s replacing an existing arena.  second, we’re talking about 41 days a year for games.

        1. Barack Palin

          My wife used to love the Kings.  Then there was that very questionable playoff loss to the Lakers about a dozen years ago and my wife wrote off basketball because she said it was fixed.  She stopped watching, I tried to tell her the game wasn’t fixed, that just couldn’t happen.  Well a few years back a ref from that game came out and said the game was rigged and that the refs were purposely favoring the Lakers.  My wife was vindicated.

        2. Frankly

          BP – This is funny.  We had season tickets (beginning the first year of the Kings, and through their run) with another family, but sold off most of payoff games to pay for the rest of the season.  We were watching that game at home on the big screen TV.  At the end I had to iron a shirt for a business meeting the next morning (like Mitt Romney, I used to iron my own shirts), the iron did a little spitting thing and I proceeded to take it to the back yard with a hammer and destroyed it (I really always hated that iron).  Then I came back inside and my wife was crying.  I said “what are you crying about”, she said “the Kings losing the game”, and I said, quoting the famous like by Tom Hanks in “A league of Their Own”, “THERE IS NO CRYING IN PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL!”

          Our friends who had slithered away as the Kings, who were getting one bad call after another and noting my agitated words about this to the TV, lost… later provided us with a purple colored iron and hammer, and a little plaque that says “There is No Crying in Professional Basketball”.  They hang in our rec room… which is also painted purple and black.

          Having played the game in my younger good knee days, I was absolutely sure the Kings got robbed by the refs.  So I was vindicated too when the story broke.

          It is true that the Kings continuing to be a bottom performer will lessen the positive economic impact.  Hopefully the capitalize on their high draft pick this time around to match their success landing DC.

          1. Don Shor

            This is why I feel that you are not particularly rational about this topic. Sports fans tend to favor sports complexes, regardless of the negative impacts. And sport complexes are always sold as bringing great economic benefits to a region — even when there is a solid body of evidence demonstrating otherwise. You simply discredit the studies that don’t prove your bias, and you definitely have a bias.
            The same thing is already playing out here in Davis. I’m sure the advocates of the sports complex on (_________ choose your site this time) will tout the economic benefits, the ripple effect on the economy, etc. It’s Standard Operating Procedure.

        3. Barack Palin

          I don’t know Don.  All I can tell you is my son used to play hockey at the Bladium which is now a parking lot for ATT Park.  Before the park was built that whole area was one big pig stye, now it’s all built up, beautiful and bustling.  I would for sure say that ATT Park was worth the investment.

          1. Don Shor

            Wikipedia:

            When it opened on March 31, 2000, the ballpark was the first Major League ballpark built without public funds since the completion of Dodger Stadium in 1962.[11] However, the Giants did receive a $10 million tax abatement from the city and $80 million for upgrades to the local infrastructure (including a connection to the Muni Metro)

            So, they used public funds to mitigate some of the impacts, and didn’t use taxpayer funds to build the park. I can’t speak to any traffic effects, since it just replaced Candlestick which had roughly the same capacity.

        4. Frankly

          This is why I feel that you are not particularly rational about this topic. Sports fans tend to favor sports complexes, regardless of the negative impacts.

          True, but not me.  I would never support any public funding participation in any sports park or arena if I did not believe there would be a net return exceeding other investment alternatives.

          And you can just reverse this argument to say that those that are not fans of sports will tend to discount the benefits and amplify the costs.  And this too is an irrational response.

          1. Don Shor

            I would never support any public funding participation in any sports park or arena if I did not believe there would be a net return exceeding other investment alternatives.

            I doubt that you have any evidence that the City of Sacramento will receive a net return exceeding their tax/parking fee expenses. I think you are just assuming that they will. Do you have a spreadsheet showing that this will be true? That the city will gain revenues by the agreement they made with the Kings owners? Did you even look at the agreement, and review it as to its contents for costs to the city and projected revenues?
            If you did not, then you are simply allowing your bias to lead you to the conclusion that “there would be a net return exceeding other investment alternatives.”
            That is a bias that arises from you being a sports fan. I doubt you would feel the same way about the City of Sacramento ‘investing’ in, say, an opera house (nor, for the record, would I). There might be valid cultural reasons for doing that, but probably not good fiduciary ones.

        5. Frankly

          So, they used public funds to mitigate some of the impacts, and didn’t use taxpayer funds to build the park. I can’t speak to any traffic effects, since it just replaced Candlestick which had roughly the same capacity.

          You are splitting hairs on this.  If you want to make the case that there should be some limit to how much or what percentage that the city funds, then fire away.  But in the case of AT&T park, the city could have provide much more of the funding and still derived a significant net benefit. For Staples center where the city contributed $71MM of $330MM to build it:

          Summarizing this information, the City has received or will receive $3,850,863.35 in benefits in excess of direct costs per year over the life of the agreement with the Developer according to the various agreements between the City and Developer.

          http://controller.lacity.org/stellent/groups/ElectedOfficials/@CTR_Contributor/documents/Contributor_Web_Content/LACITYP_008662.pdf

           

          1. Don Shor

            The city should, as in the ATT park, use their funds to focus on mitigating the adverse impacts of traffic and congestion. Doing that creatively in such a way as to minimize the cost to taxpayers is even better. That is all a reasonable use of city funds. Unfortunately, the adverse effects of locating an arena in downtown Sacramento can’t be mitigated. That’s why it’s poor planning. And just outright handing a windfall to the owners of the Kings, largely for the purpose of keeping them in Sacramento? Poor use of tax funds, and certainly something that should have been put before the voters. But the mayor and his council allies were simply afraid to let the voters decide.
            I think it’s likely that we’ll see a similar effort here in Davis, with all the same arguments, just on a much smaller scale.

          2. Don Shor

            Do you think that the City of Davis should give tax breaks to businesses that want to locate here?

        6. Frankly

          Do you think that the City of Davis should give tax breaks to businesses that want to locate here?

          When did I ever say that?  Davis is in a unique position with the university and proximity to other regional business, technology and science resources.   Unlike other communities that HAVE to do special give aways to attract business, ALL DAVIS HAS TO DO IS ALLOCATE SOME LAND!

          And we can’t even do that.

          What a bunch of hand-wringing dolts we are.

          So do you support a $400-500 per year parcel tax increase to make up our funding gap to keep Davis 10 square miles in area even as UCD will add 7000 people per year to the population?

          1. Don Shor

            When did I ever say that?

            Sorry, I was actually just asking. It’s a common practice, and was done in the case of at least one of the sports franchises we were talking about. So I wondered if you support that kind of thing in general, and if you think Davis should do that.
            No, I don’t support a $400 – 500 parcel tax increase. I support building business parks at Mace 200 and next to the hospital, and I support an innovation park with some high-density housing at Nishi.

        7. Frankly

          I think every region, city or state has to compete for business to locate there.

          I feel like ideology dulls the ability to accept the simple truth that all tax revenue derives from business activity.  You can tax me all you want, but if I am not working making income, there will be nothing to tax.  And with nothing to tax there will be no money to pay government employees to tax them.

          Again, all tax revenue derives from business activity.

          So, if you don’t have enough business activity in your city, county or state… then yes, you might offer up something to help attract business.

          The entire state of New York is giving new companies that locate there 10 years of no state taxes.  That is the Grow New York program spearheaded by Governor Cuomo.

          But I don’t think Davis needs to do this.  That is our wonderful luck and opportunity.   But we cannot even leverage that luck and opportunity because of the lack of leadership and all the liberal-conservative-reactionaries that allow their nervous twitches about change impacts rule their voting habits.

          Maybe, if we take a long time to figure out that we have to grow our economy, and by that time Davis has been branded as a place that few businesses want to locate to because of our screwed up politics… then maybe at that time will need to extend some extra benefits to attract those companies.

          1. Don Shor

            because of the lack of leadership

            What exactly do you think the city council members and the city staff should be doing that they aren’t presently doing to expedite or facilitate the peripheral parks?

        8. Doby Fleeman

          Don,

          I, too, support further exploration of potential developments at the several Innovation sites.  It’s obviously premature to discuss the necessity or rationale for potential tax incentives for the developers.  As we saw in the case of Mori Seiki, some minor concessions may be appropriate simply for political reasons.  When you are competing with an offer like that proposed in Chicago – worth an estimated $7MM – it’s important to show you’re still interested.  I guess we’ll have to see how all the numbers shake out.  At some point it gets down basic math – but the significance of critical mass cannot be ignored.  You get a named, franchise player, and sometimes you can build an entire team around that one player.  Good news is – we already have our franchise player.  Now all we need to decide is do we want to build a team.

    1. Alan Miller

      don: i don’t see that the arena is going to have regional traffic impacts.  first of all, it’s replacing an existing arena.  second, we’re talking about 41 days a year for games.

      RT will be limited in what it can carry, or serve.  Those 41 days are the days of the impacts, plus any music or other events the arena holds.  The ARCO area poured out onto the system away from the core — this arena will dump out onto city streets and right into the central X’s of the highway system, all at once.

      What you are correct on is it won’t be a traffic problem on the days there are no games!

  14. rfinch

    [The following is the Letter to the Editor from me, published in the Davis Enterprise May 1, 2015. My letter is the only contrary opinion I’ve seen in the Enterprise.]

    Our City Council is up to no clear good.
    First, Community Choice Energy. Why is it suddenly so important Davis get involved in this? We can choose a green energy source for our electricity from PG&E. Why is the council trying to collectively bully us into more “choices”? What’s it going to cost us?
    But far more serious is the council’s hardline push for “innovation,” its optimistic euphemism for development gone wild. From what I read in this newspaper, influential people wouldn’t mind at all seeing Davis go the way of San Jose: Pour asphalt over the farm lands and grow, grow, grow. With a chief innovation officer now a full-time city employee, we are forced to pay someone to advocate for what many of us do not wish for Davis.
    These decisions were clearly made months or years before, and the council is just searching for a plausible justification for a predetermined outcome. It’s dishonest government, and Davis deserves better.
    Ralph Finch
    Davis

    I’m going to write another letter to them, but it’s obvious the fix is in for pro-growth.

    1. Miwok

      Ralph, you should know they want high walls with graffiti all over them, not fields with trees and crops they cannot identify, except in the grocery. The only trees they want to see is the Greenbelts where the City controls the ecosystems, under careful management of the electorate. 🙂

    2. Topcat

      But far more serious is the council’s hardline push for “innovation,” its optimistic euphemism for development gone wild. From what I read in this newspaper, influential people wouldn’t mind at all seeing Davis go the way of San Jose: Pour asphalt over the farm lands and grow, grow, grow. With a chief innovation officer now a full-time city employee, we are forced to pay someone to advocate for what many of us do not wish for Davis.

      I agree with you Ralph.  It is distressing to see the advocates for growth pushing ahead with little concern for the long term adverse consequences.  It is especially galling that we taxpayers are paying a high salary for someone to ramrod this proposal through.  This position is essentially a pro-growth lobbyist on the public payroll.

    3. Doby Fleeman

      Ralph & Topcat,

      I can’t really argue with your sentiments on this point:

       It is distressing to see the advocates for growth pushing ahead with little concern for the long term adverse consequences.

      I imagine that is how it both looks and feels when it appears all the momentum is directed towards entitling a series of transformative new land uses devoted to the creation of well-paying, technology oriented new jobs – without any articulated plan or process for soliciting much need and valuable input from the community.  I wish I had something more substantial to offer you on this point, other than to encourage you to demonstrate continued patience with the process and trust in our elected leadership.  Somehow, I’m guessing that even after they have unveiled all their reports that you and others are going to have a truckload of additional questions about how all this can be expected to improve our community for the better and why it is supposed to be such a benefit – when all you can imagine is a cascade of adverse consequences.  The community deserves those answers.

      As for the highly paid advocate for economic development, at least he has succeeded in opening this dialogue – perhaps debate is more apt – within the community.   It seems we have had a litany of past city managers and finance directors, all paid rather well, who have left us holding the bag on hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid, prior period expenses and deferred maintenance on things as basic as our roads.   In that context, perhaps its worth giving a fair hearing of what’s to be said for economic development – that is, unless you would all prefer to simply write a check to make up the difference for all those years of overspending.

       

      1. Topcat

        It seems we have had a litany of past city managers and finance directors, all paid rather well, who have left us holding the bag on hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid, prior period expenses and deferred maintenance on things as basic as our roads.

        On this point I can agree with you 100%  Our past Councils have badly mismanaged City finances with little regard for the future.  This has left us in this horrible position that we now have a group of people that see our only way out of this mess is do what cities like Vacaville and Roseville have done and push ahead with growth plans.

        1. Doby Fleeman

          I would like to remind you what is responsible for the nexus of this interest in exploring potential, best-in-class research park development opportunities in Davis.   To your references concerning Vacaville and Roseville, the whole point is that we are Davis, home to a world class research university, and we offer a unique value proposition within our region.   Because of this unique opportunity, it is the view of many that we have it within our collective means to command a far superior class of development than found anywhere other than the Bay Area.  The challenge, it seems, would lie with our execution of a development strategy  which borrows the best from other world class university communities, while designing in features which help us avoid the problems experienced by communities like Palo Alto, La Jolla and Irvine.

          If nobody in the community is up to either discussing or exploring that challenge, then so be it.

        2. Topcat

          The challenge, it seems, would lie with our execution of a development strategy

          The proposals that have been put forward are for pretty standard automobile commuter oriented industrial parks.  The plans have ignored the larger impacts on the community (more traffic congestion, loss of agricultural land, more water use, more energy use, lack of housing for the employees, loss of wildlife habitat…those darn burrowing owls again 🙂 ).

        3. Doby Fleeman

          Topcat,

          Sorry, but it seems like we’re back to the world of financial limitations.  Why do all of our Downtown employees have to commute to Davis in their cars? In Boulder, for example, the City underwrites programs that encourage use of public transit systems, offering free bus passes to Downtown employees.  Sounds great, eh?  Only rub, free bus passes cost money, and the City of Davis doesn’t yet even have its own commuter bus service.  I have mentioned before the system of FREE Shuttle buses in Park City, Utah – a town identified by our community development department as a leader in Downtown parklets.   Such a shuttle system could easily accommodate many of the round-town and home-to -work transit needs of  future Innovation Center employees, but where are these free shuttle going to come from?  Should this be SACOG’s responsibility?  Point being, it is entirely possible to talk about sustainable, alternative solutions to mitigate new conditions, but if there is no interest in coming to the table, either to learn or share or discuss – then the conversation will quickly die a premature death.

      2. Frankly

        Ralph & Topcat,

        I want to respect your shared opinion against economic development, but I don’t see you providing any other alternative suggestions for how a city of 75,000 people that is growing by about 600 per year because of the university… is to stop growth while also paying its bills.   It seems that you just taking a stand expecting someone else to work some currently undefined miracle.

        Maybe you can correct me here and share what you think we should do to fix our budget deficits and pay for our unfunded roads and infrastructure maintenance and our unfunded city employee retirement benefits.

        Or do you think it is appropriate to keep kicking that can down the road to the younger generations so none of us has to accept any negative impacts from economic development?

        Please consider that I have lived her for 40 years and don’t like more traffic or more people any more than either of you do.  But Davis is already a highly congested medium-sized CA city and it is only going to grow in population because of the university.  We have failed to develop our economy along with the growth in housing over the last 30 years.   We are out of balance big time.  Our general fund budget is about half of what it needs to be for a city our population and with expectations for services.  Business is the lifeblood of all tax revenue.  Everything derives from it… is secondary to it.

        Again, I see a big gap in this opposition to economic development and the reality today.  Are we to just all stick our heads in the sand and hope the problem goes away?  How is that helpful?

        1. Topcat

          …share what you think we should do to fix our budget deficits and pay for our unfunded roads and infrastructure maintenance and our unfunded city employee retirement benefits.

          Yes, I understand that the long term financial situation of the City is not good.  I find it puzzling why we are seeing happy talk articles from our Mayor saying that the financial situation is improving so much that we can now consider such things as a sports complex and employee raises.

          What I would like to see the City Council do is to adopt a goal of “living within our means”.  I don’t pretend that this will be easy or popular with the citizens.  Some of the strategies to accomplish this goal might include eliminating the “nice but not necessary” city positions, raise fees for city facilities to cover costs, turn over some functions and facilities to private non-profit organizations (senior center, art center). I would also like to see the City eliminate all employee overtime except for extreme life threatening emergencies.  The city could also raise more money by increasing traffic enforcement.  We seem to do a great job of parking enforcement as I see lots of parking tickets being issued.  What if the police started enforcing the law against using cell phones while driving?  How about more speed enforcement?

          I think that the City could go a long ways towards financial responsibility if it ran more like a company that had financial viability and sustainability as goals.

          I can already anticipate the response to these ideas that it’s “just a drop in the bucket” and that we’ve already cut City employment to the bone.  I understand these arguments, but I certainly have not seen any effort to have an honest discussion about cutting expenses to work towards financial sustainability.

  15. Frankly

    I have been involved in a nice debate about Davis being a small town or a medium-sized city.

    Here are the facts.

    The current population is about 66,000 plus about 6,000 living on-campus.  That is 72,000 people.

    In addition, thanks to the success of UCD, it will add 600 students and 25 new UCD employees to the campus each year.

    So in 10 years our population will be at least 78,250… and likely closer to 80,000 given the meager housing growth we allow.

    The USDA defines rural in California as being communities with a population less than 25,000.  Even the USDA (who ironically has their West Coast office in Davis) defines Davis as a metropolitan city that is part of a larger metropolitan area.

    Why does this matter?

    First, let’s all agree that Davis retains some attractive small-town charm even as it has grown.  This is primarily its core area, as the periphery is not much different than most other communities (residential neighborhoods with neighborhood shopping centers.)  The difference with Davis is almost entirely its smaller and denser core downtown area.   But this is not all rosy.  The attractive downtown core is becoming congested to the point of being less attractive to many in Davis.  It is overrun by captive-customer students much of the time.  The restaurants and shopping choices more and more serve students and less and less other residents.  But nevertheless, most of us still love our downtown and don’t want to see drastic changes.

    Putting that point aside for the moment, the reason that our designation as a small rural town or a medium-sized city matters, is that the financial needs of a small rural town and a medium-sized city are significantly different.

    The truth is that Davis has grown out of its small town britches.  Also, the region has also grown away from its “cow town” focus, to be a thriving and growing metropolitan area.  Some of us want to just keep patching the same farmers’ clothing and hope there isn’t a catastrophic RIP.  But others see clearly that day coming… actually looming.  The next recession will take us down hard.

    The very first thing we should do is come up with a realistic and honest city budget.   What does it really take to keep the lights on, fund all the services we demand and meet all our financial commitments made?   Once we have that, we next have to figure out how to balance that budget.

    Just demanding that Davis is still a small rural town won’t get it done.   Change needs to happen primarily because change has already happened.

    1. Don Shor

      The current population is about 66,000 plus about 6,000 living on-campus. That is 72,000 people.
      In addition, thanks to the success of UCD, it will add 600 students and 25 new UCD employees to the campus each year.
      So in 10 years our population will be at least 78,250… and likely closer to 80,000 given the meager housing growth we allow.

      If no new housing is being built in town, and no new housing is being built on campus, how will the population grow to 80,000?

      1. Frankly

        There is new housing in the cannery, and I hear that the cost of housing is causing more students to double up sharing a bedroom.   And if Nishi is developed, it is primarily high density housing that would likely be filled with students.   I support Nishi with high density housing.

        As for innovation park employees, they will have a job and a car or bus or train fare and can live outside of Davis.  But the students really cannot and should not live far away from the campus and so we need to accommodate them.

      2. Topcat

        As for innovation park employees, they will have a job and a car or bus or train fare and can live outside of Davis.

        It’s unlikely that there would be any employees at the industrial parks commuting by train as the facilities are too far from the train station to be practical.  There might be a few that would commute by bus, but I expect the vast majority would commute by car.  A few (very few) might commute by bicycle.

        1. hpierce

          I believe you are right, in the main, but given the subsides that Davis gives to YoloBus, and Unitrans, I’d think there is some room to give employees @ an innovation center passes to use transit.

        2. Alan Miller

          The issue with transit is always convenience.  By the time you get to downtown Sacramento to board the train, walk the insane distance to the platform, take the train, wait for the bus, wind through Davis, and reach your destination . . . about 70 minutes from Rancho Cordova, as opposed to 35 minutes by car . . . well?

        3. Topcat

          I’d think there is some room to give employees @ an innovation center passes to use transit.

          Given the inconvenience and extra time involved in using transit it is unlikely that industrial park employees would use it as long as they have access to free parking.  One of the main drivers for state employees who work in downtown Sacramento to use transit is the lack of free parking in downtown Sacramento.

        4. Alan Miller

          One of the main drivers for state employees who work in downtown Sacramento to use transit is the lack of free parking in downtown Sacramento.

          Exactly.  I am a huge transit believer.  As such, the realities of where and why it will not work must be realized, including car vs. transit realities for low-density, easy-freeway-access business parks.  Saying transit will significantly solve the transportation issue is largely green-washing.  It could help, but transit options must be well-thought-out, modeled, convenient, go from where large numbers of people live to where they work, and funded on an ongoing basis.

        5. Doby Fleeman

          Phew!  Well, that explains the transportation dilemma, and what we should do with the Innovation Centers.

          Obviously, they should all be built around a new UCD campus in Rancho Cordova/Aeroject environs –  where employees and students could bike or walk to work from brand new apartments and homes, easy access to light rail, a bike ride to the malls, and 25 minutes closer to Tahoe.

          Now, back to how we plan to foster a sustainable local Davis economy…….

      3. Gunrocik

        We can grow to 80,000 very easily.

        Talk to anyone who lives in the neighborhoods north of campus.   Every year  homes currently housing 1-2 seniors are being converted to a mini-dorm.  The more mini-dorms, the more quickly the rest of the retirees will be selling their homes to vacate their neighborhood, since it is turning into a giant frat house.

        And it won’t just be the homes right next to campus. I’m guessing the pressure will head all the way up to Covell. The student ghetto will also likely creep east of campus as well, you are already seeing the vast majority of more affordable East Davis homes being snapped up by investors as well.

        At the rate we are going, 80,000 residents may be a conservative estimate!

        Ironically, I’m guessing that many of the residents fleeing are also resolutely no growth — and don’t realize that their neighborhood is being overrun because of our restrictive growth policies.  If there were more homes and apartments being built, investors wouldn’t be buying up homes near campus for $400 per foot and cramming ten students into the home to cover their $800,000 purchase price.

        I guess the $800,000 they are putting in their pocket upon sale is a nice consolation prize for having to leave their neighborhood.  That bonus equity will help pay for the assisted living facility they will be moving to someday.

         

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