Mayor Pro Tem Explains City’s Commitment to Economic Development

Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis
Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis

In yesterday’s Vanguard, Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis said, “Fundamentally what we’re trying to do is diversify our economic landscape – diversify the opportunities for businesses to come and stay here. Diversity the employment picture, so we don’t just have a couple of major employers, but we have a more diverse set of employers providing jobs in the future.”

He said that while “innovation” has been the main topic of conversation, the reality is that what we are trying to do is create more diversity.

John Meyer in his report on City Hall called for “doubling down” on economic development efforts. The report stated, “I believe the City should ‘double-down’ on its investment in economic development activities.”

“The City is developing a reputation of supporting business development,” he said. “A number of major businesses have chosen to locate in Davis. Should the City now dim its focus and investment in economic development, that action will be broadcast throughout the region by your competitors.”

John Meyer elaborated on the point that the “[c]ity has made phenomenal progress on Economic Development.” He made a point that he doesn’t think got enough regional play – the city of Davis beat out Chicago to get Mori Seiki. “It’s on an amazing trajectory,” he said. But he warned that we “have to make sure the foot is on the accelerator. The region is very competitive.”

Robb Davis noted that that comment got a lot of attention. “I think John is just saying that we can’t lose momentum. We need to keep looking hard to again figure out how we can nurture startups, how we can provide opportunities for them to grow within Davis, where we want to be. Attract companies that want to be here because of the proximity with the university. And just continue to do the heavy-lifting that it requires to create that diversified economy.”

“I think his statement is just born out of the fact that we don’t want to say that we’ve arrived,” he said. “The economic situation is improving, it looks like we’re getting our reserves back up, we’ve got it figured out. I think what he’s suggesting is that we need to continue working hard to create the diversified economy that is going to make us more resilient.”

He said that we should not sit back just because the economy is improving. “To me,” he said. “It’s about intentionality.”

“Rochelle and I have avoided saying that we have made a decision on one or more innovation parks,” he said. “That’s really true. I think what we’re both interesting in doing along with staff is really counting the cost.”

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

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

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

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

“So doubling down to me is that we don’t lose site of the fact that we need to do our homework, we need to stick to the guiding principles that we’ve already laid,” he said. He said that in the next few weeks those guiding principles will be coming out. Then, he said, we need to stick to those principles.

Robb Davis strongly disagrees with the idea that the city is backing down from the innovation parks. “We are doing exactly what we need to do to move the decision point… To make it so that we have the information we need – economic, environmental – to make a decision.”

“We can’t move any faster,” he said. “If there’s less talk about it, it’s because we’ve done exactly what Meyer has suggested, we’re doing the hard work of moving them forward so that we can make an informed decision.”

He is under no illusion that this is not going to be challenging. The mitigation measures and issues like housing figure to be very difficult discussions that still need to be addressed. But he says that will be based on facts derived from the studies that are taking place now.

This will allow us to “make our best informed judgment about whether we should move forward and under what terms.”

He said that they are working to do exactly what the community wants: “A deliberate, transparent, development agreement process that is not subject just whims of people in the community, but is really guided by principles.”

He said, “I don’t see any backing down. I don’t see any backing away. I honestly don’t know where that fear comes from.”

Robb Davis returned to the point that this is not a done deal from his perspective. “I sit here today and I can tell you I don’t know how I’m going to vote on one, two, or three of these sites,” he said.

He explained that, right now, he does not have the economic analysis, the traffic analysis, the EIR, and doesn’t know what mitigations are going to be required and doesn’t know what the developer will be asked to do in the development agreement.

Instead, he said that there is a process that will enable staff to do the work required so that a solid decision can be made.

“The decision that is made has to be based on the best evidence that we have about the impacts and opportunities with this project,” Mayor Pro Tem Davis continued.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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44 Comments

  1. Davis Progressive

    so the basic answer to what is going on is that we are waiting for the eir, traffic studies, economic impact reports to see what they say and then we will see how to proceed.

    1. SODA

      A  timeline might be a good graphic way to present this issue. Dates can be flexible but would be  a graphic way to describe and summarize the process. ??

  2. Frankly

    I have a sense that Robb Davis is navigating a sort of neutral ground of support for the innovation parks that funnels ten thousand non-economic considerations.  I think maybe he has a strong orientation toward the question of local housing for the population of workers.  Related to this, I think there is a sort of high drive to make sure we get the strongest sustainability features and amenities possible in these parks.  This all certainly makes sense given that Robb both walks the walk and talks the talks of a bike-ridin’, low-carbon-impact, sustainable environment, kinda’ guy.

    Maybe this is the best we will every be able to get with Davis city political leadership to champion economic development… non-economic sustainability goals being the dog waging the tail of economic development.

    Personally, I think it is too much tail waging the dog and as a consequence the innovation parks are troubled city projects.  I think without city leaders that are strong dedicated champions of economic development that weigh economic sustainability as an order of magnitude more important than all those other Davis DNA feel-good pursuits, we will likely get bogged down in decision morass and see our economic opportunities melt away to other communities that don’t get bogged down.

    With respect to the innovation parks, we seemed to start strong and had some momentum building.  Then there were a bunch of those Davis DNA feel-good issues taking up CC business, and then the Cannery CFD… and city work on the innovation parks seemed to be pushed back down in priority.

    What I seem to be reading in response to my concerns about lack of focus and lack of progress on the innovation parks is “a lot of CC and staff work is being done that the general public does not see nor appreciate.”   That very well might be the case.  But meanwhile we get rosy, but glaringly incomplete, reports that the city finances are golden.  This all leads to me being somewhat skeptical that we do have support of the CC and city for moving these innovation parks forward with adequate urgency.

    1. Don Shor

      What I seem to be reading in response to my concerns about lack of focus and lack of progress on the innovation parks is “a lot of CC and staff work is being done that the general public does not see nor appreciate.” That very well might be the case

      As you undoubtedly know with any development proposal, plans get submitted and then get routed and rerouted through various departments. I’m sure that’s where they are right now. What exactly do you want the city council to do while that is happening? Have an update at every council meeting about the status of the paperwork? Seems like that would be kind of a waste of time in the already over-stuffed council agendas. But I’m sure you could contact Mike Webb or other staff people about the status of the various proposals.

  3. Robb Davis

    so the basic answer to what is going on is that we are waiting for the eir, traffic studies, economic impact reports to see what they say and then we will see how to proceed.

    Yes.  Whether you think this is wise or not, this is the way every project of this type in every community must progress.  There are some who are convinced that the innovation parks are, a priori, an unquestioned “good”.  I understand that but my responsibility, as an elected official, is to base my decision making on a full evaluation of the impacts, required mitigation, the potential fiscal benefits, the economic costs and the potential multipliers that such projects bring.  To do any less is to not take my fiduciary responsibility seriously.  So, yes, I will wait and then I will proceed using the data and information to make an informed, rather than a faith-based, decision.

    A  timeline might be a good graphic way to present this issue. Dates can be flexible but would be  a graphic way to describe and summarize the process. 

    You can see a general timeline here.  I think staff may be developing a more detailed timeline that will be posted.

    I have a sense that Robb Davis is navigating a sort of neutral ground of support for the innovation parks that funnels ten thousand non-economic considerations.  

    Your comment merely points out that I have a different sense (more comprehensive/more holistic?) of what economic development is than you.  In my interview with David I pointed out an example of documents that Santa Clara (just one example of many) uses to describe their economic development efforts.  It is interesting in the breadth of issues that that city considers when talking about economic development.  You mention housing as one issue.  In a recent CC meeting I called out our housing situation as a crisis and I stand by that.  I have repeatedly pushed for a consideration of how to include dense, multi-use, housing in these projects and I will continue to do so because THAT represents responsible land use planning in my view.  I think if you ask them, the proponents of these projects will tell you they agree with me on this.

    Then there were a bunch of those Davis DNA feel-good issues taking up CC business, and then the Cannery CFD… and city work on the innovation parks seemed to be pushed back down in priority.

    Your modus operandi seems to call everything you do not personally prefer as “feel good.”  Others might refer to a consideration of the broad array of issues you call “feel good” as responsible planning–planning that does not pretend we live without environmental or natural resource constraints–that we operate within a complex system in which decisions rarely if ever have no impact on other considerations.  In my position I have a front row seat to real world discussions about the very real constraints in which we must make decisions about economic development.  I make my decisions trying to hold the many conflicting “needs” and “ends” in mind (in tension).  I find your thinking far too linear and not well adapted to the complex system represented by a city, a bioregion and and a planet.

    But meanwhile we get rosy, but glaringly incomplete, reports that the city finances are golden.  This all leads to me being somewhat skeptical that we do have support of the CC and city for moving these innovation parks forward with adequate urgency.

    So you clearly were not paying attention to the discussion of the 3rd quarter budget update on Tuesday night.  I know it was late at night when it came to us (around 8:30 pm) but the reality is that nearly all the CC members present, while expressing satisfaction about the direction City finances are going ALSO expressed concern that we stay focused on the very real and very large maintenance backlogs and replacement needs related to roads and City streets.  So, I would say you are wrong in concluding that the analysis is glaringly incomplete.  CC members are clear that we understand the challenges before us.  Budget discussions are not sexy and they get almost zero press unless a “crisis” is named so it is not surprising that you are unaware of what is being discussed.

     

  4. #me

    In a recent CC meeting I called out our housing situation as a crisis and I stand by that.  I have repeatedly pushed for a consideration of how to include dense, multi-use, housing in these projects and I will continue to do so because THAT represents responsible land use planning in my view.  I think if you ask them, the proponents of these projects will tell you they agree with me on this.

    Just to be clear, are you advocating for housing on the Mace and/or NEQ sites? A simple direct answer would be appreciated.

    The contradiction here is that the City is arguing that we need to annex land for tech companies in order to generate revenue that we need to remain solvent while retaining our high quality of life.

    Every acre of residential takes land away from revenue generation and puts additional burden on the general fund since – as the progressive community routinely points out – residential doesn’t pay for itself.

    1. Robb Davis

      #me –  Yes, I have raised the issue of creating multi-use housing on these sites since the earliest discussions I was involved in as a CC member and believe it must be considered (“advocating” is not the right word).  I will evaluate the cost of residential over the long-term just like I will evaluate the cost of the commercial elements of the parks.  I do not believe multi-family, mixed use housing has the same cost profile to the city as low density, single-family residential housing but I need to see the data.  And BTW, the need for housing of this type pre-dates the discussion of innovation parks as I tried to make clear.  This is a decade long (or more) problem that is starting to have real impacts on SFR housing (conversion to dorms) in the core and beyond.  In addition, adding housing will likely be a critical piece of mitigating VMT.  I know most everyone disagrees with me about this stance but I think we must (and in fact we are via one of the EIR alternate scenarios), analyze some form of mixed-use housing on these sites.

      1. Frankly

        It sounds like this is heading to a mixed-use development vision instead of a business-focused innovation park vision.  I agree that this direction will likely kill the innovation parks.

        This is a “perfection is the enemy of the good” pursuit in my opinion.

        I agree with #me above in that every acre of land that is designated to housing instead of business will subtract from the long-term net positive revenue stream that is the primary justification for the business parks.

        Davis is largely a bedroom community with a higher than average percentage of the population commuting outside of the city to and from their place of employment.  The innovation parks will take 20 years to populate.  During that 20 years there will be housing turn-over that will result in more people living and working in town.  At some point we might recognize a need for more housing and then we can and should consider allowing more housing.

        But much of the housing shortage is the result of UCD growing its student population without a coordinated plan working with the city to provide adequate new housing.  That should be a separate problem to solve without saddling the innovation park projects with added risk of defeat.

        1. Barack Palin

          At some point we might recognize a need for more housing and then we can and should consider allowing more housing.

          That’s where I’m coming from too.

        1. Robb Davis

          Don and others – First of all, you should all understand that I am one CC member and am NOT speaking for anyone but myself about this.  You can contact the developers if you want their direct opinion about the housing issue but my sense is that they are not opposed to it.  Only the development agreement–voted upon by all members of the CC–will determine the “permit” vs “require” vs “no housing”.  For me to proclaim that I expect a certain outcome would be premature.  I am merely saying that I have called for an analysis of this option for good reasons: mitigation may point to it as needed AND we already have a housing crisis in this community that we must take into account as we consider these projects.

          Franky wrote:

          That should be a separate problem to solve without saddling the innovation park projects with added risk of defeat.

          I have no idea why you believe this. When the subcommittee met with Commissions and community groups to develop the “Guiding Principles” several of them (Cool Davis, Finance and Budget, Transportation) raised the question of housing and possibly necessary.  These groups are far from homogeneous in their perspectives on the centers and they too are citizens.

          The idea that housing is somehow a “separate problem” demonstrates again how differently you and I approach the concept of economic development.  I find your piecemeal approach simplistic.  This “non-systems” thinking without a clear focus on the ends we want to achieve as a community is what creates bad development projects in my view.  If I believe one or more of these centers represents an important contribution to the community then I MUST be able to articulate their tradeoffs, costs, benefits–broadly writ, not in isolation from the other needs of our community.

        2. Robb Davis

          And thus (Frankly, BP, others) who think housing would be a terrible idea… Contact your CC members and give them your opinion.  I remain open but believe we MUST analyze the potential.

        3. Frankly

          So, housing is not important enough to prevent the CC from voting to give away nearly 400 acres of city-owned peripheral land for a $500,000 loss, but it is important enough to change innovation parks to mixed-use developments and risk killing them in Measure R votes?

           

        4. Robb Davis

          Okay, Frankly… Keep living in your self-imposed bitterness about opportunities foregone.  These are decisions about today and tomorrow born out of constraints and opportunities imposed by EVERY past decision made by this Council (and other elected bodies beyond the control of the city).  But nurse your hurt and bitterness, rehearse it every chance you get. Just realize that doing so provides no leadership about what needs to be done now, given what is.

          Again, this is ONE CC members speaking.  It is not too late to have your voice heard on this.

        1. Davis Progressive

          and people may not pass a measure r vote if it has traffic impacts and explodes vmt.  people are going to find an excuse not to pass a measure r vote.

    1. hpierce

      Robb makes an important point… the analysis, including, and particularly the EIR’s, MUST analyze the potential for housing.  The EIR is a ‘disclosure document’.  Even if the decision is NO housing, the pros/cons of that decision is supposed to be considered before the decision.

      1. Frankly

        I think the EIR must include an analysis of housing impacts to the local city and the surrounding areas, but I’m not aware of any requirement that an EIR for a designated commercial development must include a housing option.  It sounds to me like we are chasing a live-work business campus type idea.  Maybe that is the innovative thing to do, but it will likely cause a Measure R vote failure.

  5. #me

    I never though I would see a progressive council member publicly supporting annexation of farm land east of the Mace curve for residential.  Strange days.

    Some obvious questions:

    1. Where is the location of the required 2:1 ag mitigation? This question has been repeatedly been asked by others and ignored. Perhaps councilmember Davis will answer. Is it top secret? Is the plan to try and finesse a double count of the Mace 391 easement? Why the lack of transparency?

    2. If residential is critical, then why is the Signature property inside the Mace curve not on the table?

    More on this later.

    1. Robb Davis

      I never though I would see a progressive council member publicly supporting annexation of farm land east of the Mace curve for residential.

      Well, to the extent that this refers to me #me, you have it wrong on two fronts:

      1) I have not made any statement supporting annexation at this time.  Did you read what I wrote above: I am trying to make an informed decision accounting for all the facts.  HOWEVER, I want to make sure that IF these move forward (it takes 3 votes to send it to the voters), that they have the features that will make them the best possible projects for Davis.  My job is to try to figure out how to get the best deal for the City SHOULD they move forward.  Why would I not ask that housing be considered in that scenario?

      2) I have never claimed to be a progressive, don’t know what that means in this context and so am not sure why you apply it to me (if indeed you are).  I am a “localist” who tries to figure out how to take the conditions, constraints and local realities into account when deciding what will be good for the community and the region.  I will fail at times to make the right decisions but my decisions are born out of a desire to weigh the various needs/constraints/ends we want to achieve.  I do not think along “unitary” lines of causality or effect, nor do I live in a “binary” world of good/bad.

      1. #me

        Robb: You dodged both questions.  I’ll ask them again in a different form.
        1. Where is the location of the required 2:1 ag mitigation? Have you been informed?  If so, why has this information not been disclosed to the public?
        2. Since there is an active debate in the community about housing to serve the tech parks, if the owners of the Signature property inside the Mace curve wanted to provide this housing would you vote to accept their application?

        1. Robb Davis

          #me – Forgive me for “dodging.”  I was on my way out and responded quickly without reflection:

          1. The 2:1 Ag mitigation will be determined as part of the development agreement.  I, and I assume other CC members have indicated preferences to the proponents.  However, the actual mitigation will be a function of availability and cost, I assume.  So, there has been, to my knowledge, no detailed discussion of this issue but it will be part of the DA.  I have been involved in none.

          2. I must admit that I have not thought about the property in question but it is my understanding that it would require a Measure R vote (again, I have not discussed this with staff or anyone so I may be wrong).  My answer would be to say it depends on the type of housing proposed.  I am not in favor of expanding low density, SFR but realize some of the difficulties in developing MFR and/or student-oriented housing.  That is what we need to start developing more of across the city.

          While I will not ask the question to you that is burning in my mind, I will say that your posts and way of posing questions is uncannily like those of several other anonymous posters who have been on the VG over the past two years.  These posters have “called me out” on several occasions and once I answer a single question insist that I answer, in detail, every one.

        2. hpierce

          Robb, re your 8:14 post.

          Fact… annexation of the land ‘under the Mace Curve’ will require a Measure R vote.

          Likely ‘fact’… LAFCO will likely pressure the City to annex that land if the City annexes the proposed Mace Ranch site (don’t like “islands” or “peninsulas”).

          Opinion… if the Mace site is chosen, City should annex the area under the curve, even if it is zoned as Ag under the City zoning.  It’s a ‘stupid’ parcel, in that DJUSD annexed part of it to the city, leaving the rest of the area marginal for farming… there is even a narrow strip of land between Harper and Mace Ranch that was excluded from that political annexation.  There is the potential for providing housing there to serve the MR IP proposal, with a 4-way intersection @ Rd 30 H, and/or a grade separated X-ing.  The residential development could be deferred, if desired, but the annexation would make sense.

          Bias:  don’t do a “stupid”… The MR site is superior for extension of existing utilities to serve.  The other proposed sites have significant issues re:  sanitary sewer service (main issue, not the only one).  The residential component, if any, can clearly wait (5-10-25 years, whatever).  To not make basic plans would be a “stupid”.

    2. Davis Progressive

      1. we don’t know yet because that is part and parcel to the developer agreement

      2. because the owners of the signature property did not come up with an ip proposal

    3. Don Shor

      I never though I would see a progressive council member publicly supporting annexation of farm land east of the Mace curve for residential.

      Nobody is proposing annexation of farmland for residential. The proposal is for a business park. There is some discussion of having some residential component to that business park, presumably a small percentage. The property next to it is firmly locked into ag conservation, so annexing the remaining parcel there yields no risk of further development. Annexing it for a business park is a reasonable compromise now that Mace 391 is protected.

      1. #me

        Don:  How do you know it will be a small percentage?

        Whatever the number, under this scenario some land will be annexed for residential development with residential entitlements. I personally think the voters are going to react very negatively to the bait and switch.

        In my opinion, residential may be a legitimate issue, but slipping some into the parks with the lame arguments I’ve heard is a prescription for DOA.

        1. Don Shor

          Don: How do you know it will be a small percentage?

          Because any significant residential component would be a major change to the plans that have already been put forward to the city and presented to the public.
          These are business parks. Any residential component would be part of the business properties, as far as I can tell. I don’t think the developers are interested in developing housing. Live/work units in this kind of setting are generally part of the existing structures, such as condominiums on the top floors. I don’t think you’re even looking at “residential entitlements” in any normal sense. There are residential units on top of various downtown projects, on top of a commercial building between 2nd and 5th that I’m aware of, etc. Are you opposed to that?

        2. Robb Davis

          In my opinion, residential may be a legitimate issue, but slipping some into the parks with the lame arguments I’ve heard is a prescription for DOA.

          Please explain re: “lame arguments”

        3. #me

          DS: No. Definitely not opposed to residential on upper floors but don’t think that would work in a tech park. Living above an R&D lab for example might not even be legal if chemicals, biologicals, and /or radiation are used. I assume what is being contemplated for the tech parks are dense residential projects like you see in the Nishi Plan.

          1. Don Shor

            I don’t think the developers are contemplating that. I don’t think Robb Davis is contemplating that. I don’t think there’s a council majority that would support that. So I don’t know why you assume it.

  6. Davis Progressive

    so help me understand this barack – and i ask this with all sincerity.  i understand those who believe that housing will undermine the measure r process.  what i don’t understand is why you would support a park as long as it doesn’t have housing.  i mean, if you have a park and you put in some townhouses integrated into the main design so that some of the people who work there, can live there and not have to drive in – why is that bad?  assuming that the acreage is constant?

    1. Barack Palin

      We’re being told that we need revenue, and because of that many people, myself included, have come around to accepting business parks to create that revenue.  Now it seems as if the business parks are going to be an end around to push more housing.  DP, you make it sound like it’s not going to be that much housing (some townhouses) but I think we all know better.  If and when the business parks are built and the jobs are forthcoming then the housing will come.  But if new housing is  pushed now I’m going to bet the business parks get defeated.  Anyway, we have 600 units coming online over the next few years in the Cannery, plus the Nishi housing, plus some other smaller developments in town.  It’s not like we’re not providing any new housing.

  7. Frankly

     
    Does Davis really need to build more housing in support of the innovation parks?

    Nope.

    – Palo Alto has about the same population as Davis (~66,000).  Palo Alto is 26 square miles; Davis is 10 square miles (surrounded by a partially complete farmland moat.)

    – Palo Alto has 27.3 million square feet in commercial and industrial space.  Davis has less than 3 million square feet.

    – Palo Alto has a 3% unemployment rate.  Davis’s rate is near 7%

    – Palo Alto has 4,500 acres of parks.  Davis has 400 acres. 

    – Palo Alto has a general fund budget of ~$150 million.  Davis’s general fund budget is ~$50 million.

    – Total housing vacancy rates are about the same… at 5.2%, but Palo Alto housing is about double the cost.  The median family income is about three time that of Davis.

    – Both cities claim about the same number of people that live and work in the city (about 11,000)

     
    But the real glaring difference (other than the number of acres of parks) is the job-to-housing ratio.
     
    The daily population change in Palo Alto is +81.4%.   In Davis the daily population change is -19.3%

    Palo Alto has more than three jobs for every home. Davis has less than one job per home.

    Now Davis does have more farmland preserved.  And we have about 4 times the miles of bike lanes/paths as does Palo Alto.  That allows us to ride our bikes out to stare at all that farmland that we cannot touch.
     
    So clearly we don’t need to fret about not having enough farmland preserved around the city.  And clearly we don’t need to fret about not having enough bike lanes and paths.
     
    But clearly we do need to agree that we are way out of whack in comparison to Palo Alto in economic development and the city tax revenue it derives.
     
    We are way out of whack in the amount of commercial and industrial real estate and acres of land available for commercial use.
     
    Lastly, Davis is clearly a bedroom community that is out of balance with nearly 20% of our resident population leaving to work outside of the city.  Palo Alto is also out of balance with the equivalent of 80% of its worker population living outside of Palo Alto and commuting there to work.
     
    The point here is that Davis has capacity to add business and workers without fretting about housing.   In fact, we would be doing the sustainable thing not building more housing so to limit more people from buying here and work elsewhere.    Housing will turn over and we will likely get closer to parity where the population remains about the same during the work week. 
     
    Palo Alto’s 4,500 acres of parks are another glaring difference.  Those additional acres of parks add a lot of life value to Palo Alto’s residents.   But the parks take money to maintain.   And money to maintain parks derives from business tax revenue.  

    Lastly, because people like to live where they like to live, and it is not always the same place they like to work.  San Jose implemented a shuttle service that goes between S.F. and San Jose.   If we really want to be innovative, we would be pursuing that type of thing instead of building more housing that we don’t really need.

      1. hpierce

        Don, only (hopefully) if someone can define “a commitment to regional transit planning” in concrete, measurable terms.  Even then “planning” is one thing, “executing” is another.  Can’t tell you of all the “planning” that has gone on in Davis, Yolo County, and the region, without actually accomplishing the goals.  Not dismissing your thought, am suggesting it needs “teeth”.

    1. sisterhood

      “Now Davis does have more farmland preserved.  And we have about 4 times the miles of bike lanes/paths as does Palo Alto.  That allows us to ride our bikes out to stare at all that farmland that we cannot touch.” 

      When my kids were toddlers I moved from Natomas to a rental in north Davis. I gave up a goal of home ownership for what I thought was superior elementary schools and a healthier lifestyle. (Bike and walk to school, long bike rides on the greenbelt behind my home on the weekends, easy access to farmers’ market, parks, etc.) I was disappointed in the administration of North Davis Elementary, although the teachers were for the most part stellar. Many mothers of rambunctious boys held the same opinion…

      When my kids were in junior high, I applied for and was accepted into a DACHA home. I promised them we’d never have to move from a rental again, due to rent increase. I finally felt settled and even referred to Davis as my “hometown”. I’ve never felt as connected to a community since the tiny town I was raised in Massachusetts.

      My DACHA home was sold out from under me. I rec’d a couple of days notice that I would be allowed to bid on it if I had the cash. Ironically, I was just put unexpectedly into a position where I could have raised the cash, if I had been given a fair warning. Alas, my cute little home was sold to the City on the auction block in West Sac. As soon as I could, I retired and moved to another more affordable community.

      No one will tell me where my DACHA carrying charge went. No one will tell me where the new DACHA residents’ rents are listed in the budget. The city knows they bought those homes for a song. Just own it, for crying out loud. I’m not going to sue anyone. I just hope Davis doesn’t make the same “affordable housing” errors again, when you build new business parks.

      Thank you.

       

  8. Robb Davis

    Now it seems as if the business parks are going to be an end around to push more housing

    BP–How can you claim an “end around” when examining the potential for housing on-site is built into the EIR?  This was not done in secret and has been raised in at least 3 public meetings.  IF, and it’s a big if, housing were ever to be a part of the centers it would be spelled out exactly in the DA how many, what kind, what density, what parking, and where.  This is not some plot, this is the basics of comprehensive analysis and planning at work in front of your eyes.  The very thing I thought everyone wanted in this town.

    Further, the main reason this is being looked at is because the traffic and other impacts of these projects is significant.  I suppose people want it all: good jobs (nearby) but no increased traffic, revenue streams but no new taxes, the right kind of companies but full centers, connections to the university but no loss of revenue when the university buys property, all Davis’ amenities but no additional fees, a secure water system but no increased rates… and on it goes.  I cannot promise to make all those dreams come true.  All I can do is be honest about the tradeoffs and how we might address them.  To dismiss an analysis of housing as part of the innovation centers (and I repeat that housing IS a feature of innovation centers around the nation) seems extremely short-sighted to me.

  9. Gunrocik

    First of all, kudos to Robb for venturing into the jungle of Vanguard posters.  Second, while one must include residential as part of the CEQA analysis — including residential in any  Measure R vote will guarantee failure.  The good citizens of Davis want to protect their grossly over priced housing at all costs.  Those of us who moved here post growth-controls want to make sure to protect those horrific prices we paid, and those who moved here pre-growth control want to protect their massive windfall.

    Even if a token amount of housing were added, it isnt going to house these workers — most of it will likely go to house our growing student population — who can outbid all but the highest paid workers for both homes and apartments.

    The majority of the workers in our innovation park will find Spring Lake and Dixon just fine — and if they have kids, they can add them to the 7% of our school population already attending from those communities.  There will also be some folks crazy enough to move to West Sac and deal with the Causeway and West Sac’s extensive gang activity.  But if it is a two income family with the other income working at the Capitol, West Sac may be worth the risk.

    In any case, your typical worker isn’t going to being able to outbid that investor for a dodgy east Davis fixer and most won’t be interested in paying rent at a rate that could gain them a home in an adjoining community.  There will be some, but as Davis’ prices continue to reach into the stratosphere — you will see most of the new workers opting for a more sane living situation.

    The combination of more jobs and more students will continue to push Davis into Bay Area level rents and home prices – but we really  don’t have any choice since the public flatly  refuses to increase housing supply.

    We bascially  have two choices:  we can add jobs and balance our city budget or we can refuse to add jobs and watch our city budget continue to diminish along with our quality of life.  Without more jobs, we won’t have four pools, we won’t be able to maintain half of our parks and greenbelts, we won’t be able to maintain our current police force and we won’t have any roads left to drive on.  Yes, the city budget is getting a little better, but every penny will need to go into ever increasing pension costs — none of it will add to our quality of life.

     

     

     

     

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