Sunday Commentary II: Balancing Land Use Needs

Agricultural Technology could be a nexus for Davis' Economic Development
Agricultural Technology could be a nexus for Davis’ Economic Development

On Friday, Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis laid out thoughts about “the Ends of Economic Development Efforts.” He posed three questions, (1) What is the City of Davis’ role in helping develop and nurture the innovations flowing from UC Davis? (2)  What are the “ends” of economic development in Davis? (3) What are the appropriate means for achieving these ends?

But the discussion really focused on a fourth unasked question about peripheral growth. The mayor pro tem addressed this in a comment on Saturday morning: “Personally, I will remain very conservative about peripheral growth (I made that clear when I ran for office and I still feel the same).  Our farmland (despite what some posters here continue to insist) IS a global resource.”

Robb Davis presented his comments on the collaboration between UC Davis and HM.Clause. But as Jim Gray pointed out in a comment, “The Innovation Lab that you delivered your remarks at is not in the Davis City Limits—it is actually located in the un-incorporated Yolo County. The collaboration that you were acknowledging is actually not taking place within the boundaries of the City of Davis! The region and the global agriculture are benefiting but the infrastructure investment in this case was not made in Davis. The University and Clause had to not only go off campus but also out of the City to house the Innovation Center.”

Jim Gray’s perspective is: “Infrastructure and investment and innovation is taking place around us but increasingly Davis is missing out on that opportunity because of poor land use planning.  We argue and bicker about growth – and yet if we are not careful we will not leverage our real resources and promote community and economy.”

Mr. Gray’s comment brings to mind the news that Kaiser is proposing building a medical center of 1.2 million square feet in the railyards in the northwest corner, while there is a proposal for a soccer stadium that would hold up to 25,000 in the northeast corner of the railyards.

I asked someone familiar with the situation how that would impact a potential World Food Center in the railyards and some felt it made it more likely.

As another poster points out, “There is some balance to be struck with land use based on the regional and local need.” That poster argues that blocking development on Davis’ peripheral land results in development of land elsewhere with Davis suffering from lost opportunities.

Increasingly, I find myself as centrist in this discussion. I think there are merits on both sides of the equation. The key is finding a way to balance the need for economic development with the need to preserve prime agricultural land, which the mayor pro tem rightly points out is a global resource.

Toward that end, I was a strong opponent of Covell Village and would continue to oppose housing on peripheral agriculture land. I understand we have housing needs, and I am supportive of high density housing on Nishi and near UC Davis, which would minimize the need for addition VMTs (vehicle mile traveled) for students and professors commuting to campus.

I also believe that the two sites designated as potential innovation centers are good choices. While I understand that the residents of the Binning Tract are concerned about traffic impacts and infrastructure, the land proposed for development north of Sutter-Davis is actually relatively poor agricultural land. If we have to develop land on our periphery, this is a good choice.

It will take infrastructure improvements and mitigation measures, but I think it would have been feasible had the applicants not pulled out.

On the other hand, the Mace 200 land is promising because it is already surrounded by land in conservation easement, lessening the possibility for sprawl and leapfrog development.

The need for Davis to develop a reliable tax base is driving some of my support for these projects, but as I read the discussion yesterday, I was struck by how Davis-centric my thinking has become.

Part of the problem we face is that we are no longer just a city-island of Davis, but rather part of a regional ecosystem – borrowing the parlance of economic development. As such, we need to think more as a region and less as the city of Davis.

One thing we have to understand is that UC Davis has an ambitious plan to become an academic power. Davis is its immediate neighbor, but UC Davis is increasingly thinking regionally and beyond.

The World Food Center makes some sense going into the railyards where it can be in an urban center. On the other hand, there is also a realization that part of the mission of the World Food Center will be educational, and for faculty and students there is a reluctance to cross the causeway to teach and attend classes.

That suggests that there might be dual functions for the World Food Center – some of which might be better situated for the main Davis Campus and some for the concept of a third UC Davis campus that, as the university put it, would “bring together policy, education and outreach at the nexus of food and health, will be part of a long-range strategy that will require the acquisition of dedicated resources and development of partnerships.”

On a regional level we have several issues to consider.

First, we have the housing issue. There has been some talk about the possibility of housing and a mixed-use component at the innovation parks. Many are reluctant to touch the third rail for a Measure R vote – and perhaps housing is not best situated in Davis, with lack of available land, restrictive land use policies, and the accompanying high costs.

We continue to believe high density campus or near-campus housing (like Nishi) are the order of the day. But to the extent that the region can improve its transportation network, perhaps housing is something that should be considered regionally and placed in locations where land is plentiful and costs are cheap.

That requires a regional approach to dealing with transportation needs. Simply jamming more cars on an aging and increasingly outmoded freeway system seems to be the hallmark of poor planning and limited thinking.

From the university’s perception, it needs space for its goal of technology transfer. If it cannot rely on the city of Davis for innovation centers and space for startups, then UC Davis may look regionally to Woodland, West Sacramento, or the Sacramento railyards, but it could also look inwards to Solano County and lands that UC Davis already owns.

From Davis’ perspective, that is not a great solution. We still get hammered with the traffic and other impacts but do not get the direct benefit of the economic development.

As we move forward we need to look at a balancing of needs: protection of agricultural land remains important, development of our tax base remains important, balancing our local and regional needs will become increasingly important as well.

However, my fear is that as long as we remain paralyzed in the first-level land-use debate, we will not be able to look at this problem on a regional basis and solve it for the best interests of Davis and the region as a whole.

—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.

Related posts

33 Comments

  1. SODA

    In this discussion of peripheral growth, I mention the uniqueness of the Nishi property in its proximity to UCD, over the railroad tracks from Solano Park. To my kowledge there is no other such close raw land left between town anf gown. I understand there is collaboration between the city and UCD over planning issues such as vehicle access, but I urge more: we could really maximize the momemtum of both properties in an innovative way either by combining the innovation part of the equation or by designing more innovztive housing. For example (and just one) is including a form of senior housing on Nishi would provide an intergenerational mix and give seniors a walkable, busable access to downtown, Arboretum, etc. Please, UCD and City: maximize this opportunity!!

  2. Tia Will

    SODA

    I could not agree more that Nishi is a wonderful opportunity for a truly innovative project. One problem that has been cited again and again is the traffic impacts. However, even within this problem is the grain of a solution. Traffic congestion can be seen in different ways. It can be seen as the lack of sufficient infrastructure to support the automobile demand. Or it can be seen as too many automobiles for the current infrastructure. The first is relatively fixed as there are very difficult to resolve issues with routing of traffic through this area.

    However, we could choose something entirely different for our community. We could add another choice to our current mix of transportation options. We could make this an automobile limited neighborhood. For those who have spoken in favor of “choice” in the past ( meaning that everyone should have the right to have a car) please name the neighborhood in town where automobiles do not dominate the transportation choices. Where is the choice of neighborhood for those who do not want to defer to the needs of cars in their neighborhood ?

    Could not Nishi be a truly mixed neighborhood as you say with elders, professorial aged folks, students, and families all sharing a safe, convenient, walkable  location equally.

    1. SODA

      yes Tia, agree. I went to the two Innovation Park open houses and Unitrans is on track for Nishi run and there will be access over to Old Davis Rd around by Mondavi. not ideal.

  3. Matt Williams

    Jim Gray:  “The Innovation Lab that you delivered your remarks at is not in the Davis City Limits—it is actually located in the un-incorporated Yolo County. The collaboration that you were acknowledging is actually not taking place within the boundaries of the City of Davis”

    Many moons ago during discussions here on the Vanguard posters questioned whether I as a then-resident of El Macero should be voicing my thoughts on City issues.  My answer then is the same as I would give Jim Gray on this issue.  Davis as a community is more than just the portion within the City Limits.  HM Clause’s South Mace facility is definitely part of the Davis community, and the activities there enrich us all.  The geopolitical constraints posed by HM Clause’s location outside the formal legal definition of “the City” are easily dealt with if the interested parties collaborate with one another to optimize a win-win scenario.  In fact, HM Clause has been practicing that kind of collaboration here in the Davis community for decades.  They leverage the intellectual capital of UC Davis.  They provide employment for UC Davis graduates.  They contribute to the sustainability of our community.  When Campbell’s Soup decided it no longer needed its seed research facility here in Davis, instead of seeing the facility shuttered (like Monsanto on 5th Street) and the employees scattered to jobs in other parts of the country (or the world), HM Clause stepped up and organically grew by acquiring both the Campbell’s Soup facility and employing the Campbell’s Soup employees. By doing so HM Clause contributed to the sustainability of the Davis community.

    HM Clause also found that they and the former Campbell’s employees benefited from the “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” rule when the existing HM Clause scientists and the Campbell’s scientists began collaborating together.  Those collaborations resulted in a decision by HM Clause management to repurpose the newly acquired Campbell’s facility into the new Innovation Center that Robb Davis visited and wrote about.

    Looking at HM Clause and their recent actions one can see a model/template for the kind of businesses and business actions that make an Innovation Center in Davis different and even unique.  There is intellectual capital at UC Davis that resonates for companies that operate in the agricultural innovation business sectors . . . just as it has for HM Clause.  Those are the kinds of companies we would be wise to be adding to the Davis community.

    1. Jim Gray

      Matt:  I understand that many folks whether they are on campus in West Village, or in Willowbank or in El Macero or the Binning Track also consider themselves part of the “broader Davis Community”.  The broad quality of life and the patchwork fabric of municipal jurisdiction is a “blurred distinction” until you get into the “nuts and bolts” of representative government and into shared rights and responsibilities.

      The broader argument has to do with municipal services.  El Macero has a separate “community service district” to deal with Sewer and Water and public safety issues. Binning track and Willow Bank as well.  West Village is another model..  Those residents don’t pay Davis municipal taxes.  When jurisdictional islands are created which don’t have shared municipal rights and responsibilities it leads to jurisdictional silos. It also leads to additional loss of contiguous public services and has probably contributed more to sprawl than any other factor in California.

      The Nishi land was in Solano County until that was changed to Yolo County about 25 years ago. An election law keeps a city from being in two counties.  That was a necessary jurisdictional first step to allow future annexation and the ability to connect to Sewers — Water – Storm Drain and public Safety.  It was also precipitated because the Solano County Sheriff had difficulty patrolling the area on the south side of Putah Creek. How tax dollars are shared including property and sales tax is what funds public service. It also establishes voting rights for citizens and establishes public service responsibilities.

      Agricultural labs that don’t and can’t connect to Municipal Sewer and Municipal Water systems is an issue that most people “just sweep under the rug”… But read some of the findings of the Water Resources Agencies about discharges that go into Septic and Drains/Creeks from active labs. Also to many Corporate Citizens they would prefer that their sewer and water went to a municipality than incurring the cost and uncertainty and regulatory burden of handling and treating their own discharges.

      The Broad issue in my mind is that Davis and the Counties (Yolo and Solano) and  UCD via the Regents of the University is it’s own “municipal agency”  and they all need to  collaborate,  to share , to protect the environment, to protect the citizens and to provide representation. We have a framework for much of that in place but increasingly Davis doesn’t provide its fair share.  And in my mind Davis and the region are setting a course that is unfortunate.

      The point I was making is that it is a bit Ironic that the most recent innovation lab between the Univeristy and the Business Community was taking place in the unincorporated County not in the Davis City Limits.

      Why can’t we just say that innovation and collaboration and public infrastructure and economy and community are important and admit that the land use policies of the City of Davis are a current obstacle?  The need is great and apparently if the City of Davis  doesn’t want to allowadditional facilities for commercial endeavors  the Univeristy and the Business/Scientific communities will find other locations to collaborate.  And in my mind that is Davis’ Loss!

      We have a great university town! But we have to be careful that our actions or our inactions might encourage those attracted to our University to find places to do science, research, community service, and education not within our City.

      If  or when the Wold Food Center — locates in Rail Yards, or Natomas — will that start the process for a  great portion of our future academic and community infrastructure and amenities to find their way to Sacramento as well?  And how will that serve the City of Davis?

       

      1. Matt Williams

        Jim, the nuts and bolts distinction is blurred much like the broader community view is blurred. The El Macero County Service Area contracts with the City to operate its water system and its sewer system for the same municipal fees that all City of Davis residents pay. Willowbank residents have individual agreements with the City of Davis water system to operate their water system. Fire services are provided to non-City residents by the City Fire Department.

        When I contacted the County Emergency Services Office after Hurricane Katrina as the President of the El Macero Homeowners Association to get informed answers to the questions about the flood risk associated with a Yolo Bypass Westside Levee break, I was directed to Rose Conroy and Bill Marshall, both City employees, who coordinated (at the time) the Flood Emergency Response preparedness programs for “the broader Davis community.”

        On the other hand, as a member of Yolo County’s Health Council, I learned firsthand how a whole range of social services are provided by the County within the City Limits of Davis. “Blurred distinctions” is indeed a very good description.

        With that said, I would like to see us as a community (and personally as an individual), engage the challenge that you give us when you say, “The Broad issue in my mind is that Davis and the Counties (Yolo and Solano) and UCD via the Regents of the University is it’s own “municipal agency” and they all need to collaborate, to share, to protect the environment, to protect the citizens and to provide representation. We have a framework for much of that in place but increasingly Davis doesn’t provide its fair share. And in my mind Davis and the region are setting a course that is unfortunate.” Many people will focus in on your words “increasingly Davis doesn’t provide its fair share”, and I would really like to understand what you mean by that, but at the same time it is important to not lose sight of the larger collaboration message you are making.

  4. Frankly

    Well-written and balanced article.

    One thing missing.

    When you march forward deliberately down a path that you later to find has put you in a bad location, you have to reverse course to some previous point that puts you in a good location.

    Davis is 72,000 people with a 10 square mile city footprint.  Statistics are not readily available for assessing the use of that 10 square miles, but it is clear from observation looking at other comparable cities that the ratio of residential to commercial real estate in Davis is completely out of whack.   Even though we lack enough student housing (and UCD shares most of the blame for this as their share of university-managed housing for students is less than half of that for other comparable universities), the 10 square miles of Davis city land is a much higher ratio of housing rather than commercial.

    We can look back in blame at this path we have taken that has led to so little commercial developed land… for example, the Davis downtown merchants and landlords that dislike competition, anti-growth activists that dislike change, and liberal voters that dislike big box stores and corporations… but regardless of the reasons we find ourselves down a path that has put us in a bad location of having too little commercial space, and too little economic activity to support a city our size.

    With all the hand-wringing by some about the size of the innovation parks (200 acres) Davis can easily justify 1000 acres of additional commercial development.  That 1000 acres is only 1.5 square miles… making Davis 11.5 square miles instead of 10 square miles… and still keeping us one of the most population-dense small cities in the state.

    The point here is that we have really been living a lie thinking we could just build a farmland moat around us and resist change and economic development.  The pressure has been building to grow our local economy because we have historically resisted necessary economic growth. Those demanding balance need to recognize that the balance is already tipped way too far toward the farmland and open space preservation side.  It is an extreme position to keep demanding more and more of our valuable peripheral land to be locked up in permanent agriculture easements in light of the REAL needs this city faces.  It is an extreme position to oppose peripheral innovation parks in light of the extreme population density we already have combined with the lack of available commercial space per capita.

    Farming is not a religion… it is simply one type of business. Most acres farmed in CA are farmed by corporations.  Farming as a business is an inefficient use of land… one that uses a lot of precious water… when there are opportunities for higher-value uses that provide much greater returns to a much greater number of people in the community and region.

    Instead of taking an extreme farmland protection position… instead of opposing controllable direct change that leads to uncontrollable indirect change and lost opportunities…  the population and city leadership needs to start embracing that change and start working to ensure it is the best and smartest development that our population of smart people can get done… and that allows us to reap the benefits.

    If we do not grow the local economy by allowing more peripheral acres to be developed for commercial use, Davis will continue to spiral downward in regional irrelevance and fiscal insolvency.

    1. Don Shor

      With all the hand-wringing by some about the size of the innovation parks (200 acres) Davis can easily justify 1000 acres of additional commercial development.

      Maybe we can just work to get 200+ acres annexed and built for now. The main obstacle to economic development is not, apparently, your change-averse zombies, but in fact it is local political infighting. Until we learn the story about how that all has played out, we really don’t have much else to talk about.

      Annexing land for development at any scale requires an update of the General Plan, working with LAFCO, consultation and negotiation with the county, and approval of the voters. It can be done well with careful consideration of best land-use policies, in conformance with the planning documents of city and county. Or we can have a bunch of ad hoc battles about individual project proposals that someone wants to try to shoehorn into some peripheral parcel. The latter is simply not likely to make it past the voters. You have to get public input.

      And at the moment we have to see what it impeding progress locally. There’s a story there, but for some reason that story isn’t getting investigated and written.

      1. Frankly

        Well we know that at least two of the three CC members are in bed with the no-growth camp and likely also in bed with Saylor.  And we know the history of the EDC and Rob White conflict.  Then you have CC members like Robb Davis making his point about preserving farmland as a campaign commitment (and yes, here comes that brainy nuanced retort that attempts to walk the razors’ edge of being firmly centered in every policy debate).  Brett and Rochelle have been very quiet… but assuming they are both more in favor of moving more aggressively on the innovation parks and peripheral development in general, the change averse zombies would seem to be aided and abetted enough with the others to get their way.

        We lost the most compelling and exciting of the two innovation parks already.  So, the odds of getting one built dropped by 50%.

        1. Don Shor

          Well we know that at least two of the three CC members are in bed with the no-growth camp and likely also in bed with Saylor.

          This is one of the curiosities to me. Those two are mutually exclusive to a very large extent. Nobody in Davis would consider Don Saylor “no-growth.”

        2. Robb Davis

          Then you have CC members like Robb Davis making his point about preserving farmland as a campaign commitment (and yes, here comes that brainy nuanced retort that attempts to walk the razors’ edge of being firmly centered in every policy debate). 

          Huh?  Just because your consistently Manichean worldview allows you a choice of only black or white, does not mean that others of us inhabit that world. Most of us live with tradeoffs, many shades of grey and the hard choices that come with a more nuanced and systems approach to decision making.

          Two further things:

          1) It was NOT MERELY a campaign promise.  It represents an ongoing commitment that I NEVER hid during the campaign.  And yet here I am, working hard to move projects that would use farm land forward.  I know, it makes your multivariate-challenged mind hurt, but there it is.

          2. Firmly centered in very policy debate?  Cannery CFD?  MRAP? affordable housing RFP? CDBG funding choices? Do you need others?  Maybe I don’t understand what you mean.  Most people don’t see any razors edge in my stance on these.  In fact, I have been accused of being too rigid.

          On the innovation parks–no one on the City Council has spent more time than me making sure that we are moving them forward in a way that will enable a rational, informed, evidence-based decision.  No one.  You are apparently ill-informed about how things get done here.

          Wild speculation about motives and launching missives from this space?  Get’s nothing done.  Nothing.

          Attending meetings with staff and commissions, meeting with the community, reviewing reports, meeting with proponents, providing guidance to staff on negotiation stance, etc? That is how things get done.

          (And my Sunday afternoon preparation for Tuesday’s CC meeting was going so well)

        3. Matt Williams

          Frankly, your comment above bewilders me. First you say that “we know that at least two of the three CC members are in bed with the no-growth camp” Then you go on to refer to Robb Davis in a way that appears to indicate that he is not one of the “two” in your first statement. Then you refer to the “quiet” of Brett and Rochelle in a way that appears to indicate that neither of them is one of the “two” in your first statement. So, by process of elimination that leaves Dan Wolk and Lucas Frerichs as the “two of the three CC members.”

          Care to clarify?

          And while you are at it, did you really mean to say “we know that at least two of the five CC members are in bed with the no-growth camp” in your first sentence?

        4. Frankly

          Matt – LOL.  Yes, two of five.  I must have been thinking of the American Idol judges.

          A majority of the CC are not big on peripheral innovation parks.  Who are they?

        5. Frankly

          Huh?  Just because your consistently Manichean worldview allows you a choice of only black or white, does not mean that others of us inhabit that world. Most of us live with tradeoffs, many shades of grey and the hard choices that come with a more nuanced and systems approach to decision making.

          Robb, just testing to see that you are still reading the Vanguard.  Not disappointed!

          Believe it or not, I am very much into tradeoff analyses and decision support.  I consider this one of my defining skill-sets.  But I will admit that I am at times impatient and even irritated with what I consider to be unnecessary delays.

          I have to sometimes remind my more decision risk-averse business partner that “a decision to delay or do nothing is still a decision”.  I can see the anxiety in recognition of this.  It is a personality conundrum… the patterning of overwhelming fear of displeasing someone or self with a wrong choice.

          As a CC member, you tend to eventually get to that place of choice and then you make it and stick to your guns.  I appreciate and admire your commitment to choice once made.

          But, IMO, part of the reason you are working so damn hard is that you seem intent on becoming a subject matter expert on every policy issue… not only the technical details, but the also getting copious feedback from your constituents until you get to a place of confidence-in-support-and-opposition for your decision.

          Here is a recommended exercise for you… go back and recount every policy decision you have voted on as  a CC member and honestly assess if you voted differently than your initial inclination.  My guess is that few if any of your votes changed after spending all that time for you due diligence.

          At least that is how it played out for me doing the same exercise.  My initial inclination (some call it gut feel) ended up matching my final decision 95% of the time.

          We elect people to serve expecting them to rely on their judgement earned from their previous life experience.  Of course there is a discovery and vetting process for each stated position or decision, but there is a line or limit to what is useful and what is harmful within a context of leadership.

          Ideas have momentum and they can be paralyzed with ineffective decision-making.  Also there are economic cycles and business opportunities have a shelf life.

          I hear a lot of words from this CC about support of economic development.  But we don’t see much material or tangible actions.  In fact we have just the opposite… innovation park developers pulling out.

          The real conversation about this started 3 years ago.  And when might we see an innovation park on the ballot?  It appears that Nishi and housing has taken the lead and the innovation parks have been pushed away.

          What I keep hearing is “trust me”.  Unfortunately, even though you might be the most trustworthy CC member to ever serve, the institution is tarnished beyond a point of trust.  There is great suspicion that we are moving back to business as usual.  And unfortunately we are not seeing the type of progress that would tend to eliminate the suspicion.

          Too many delays.  Too little tangible actions and results.  Indications that we are going in the opposite direction.  Comments from you that you are a farmland preservation kinda’ guy.   None of this looks good from my perspective.  Everyone says they support economic development, but in a muted and non-committal way.

          1. Don Shor

            I hear a lot of words from this CC about support of economic development. But we don’t see much material or tangible actions.

            Seems to me the Mace park is in the development phase, with the developer still working with staff, and Nishi is in process of negotiation with UC and the city. What ‘actions’ would the public be likely to be seeing while they are processing stuff and hashing out details at meetings? What exactly are you, Frankly, looking for?

          2. Matt Williams

            Believe it or not, I am very much into tradeoff analyses and decision support. I consider this one of my defining skill-sets. But I will admit that I am at times impatient and even irritated with what I consider to be unnecessary delays.

            Too many delays. Too little tangible actions and results. Indications that we are going in the opposite direction. Comments from you that you are a farmland preservation kinda’ guy. None of this looks good from my perspective. Everyone says they support economic development, but in a muted and non-committal way.

            Frankly, there is a very practical problem that both Staff and the Council and in many cases the project proponents face. That problem is that the current City of Davis General Plan lists a maximum population for the City of 64,000. Since we are already at a level that is higher than 64,000 each application that changes land use designation must be processed as a General Plan Amendment, which means lots of redundant work, redundant cost (for all parties) and “siloing” applications in isolation rather than looking at their impact on and synergy with other similar proposals. It means that virtually everything is reactive rather than proactive.

            The solution to that problem is to bring to current the Land Use Element of the General Plan. All the citizens should have an opportunity to weigh in on any proposed changes, and an open and transparent process is a step that needs to be done sooner rather than later.

        6. Davis Progressive

          “Well we know that at least two of the three CC members are in bed with the no-growth camp and likely also in bed with Saylor. ”

          i’m confused by this comment?  who are you talking about?

        7. Frankly

          Then why isn’t the city leadership pushing for a general plan update?

          If the maximum is 64,000 and we are already over 64,000 then it seems that the plan is already obsolete.

          One way to resist change while denying that you are resisting change is to slow it down so much as to effectively kill it.  That seems to be the prevailing strategy here.

          1. Matt Williams

            That is a good question. Davis went over 64,000 during the Saylor – Souza – Asmundsen Council, and the argument put forth at that time was that we could not afford the cost of updating the General Plan. The sad thing is that the 2007-2008 Housing Element Steering Committee Process could have been used as the basis for a selected update of the General Plan, but it wasn’t done then for reasons that were never explained.

            The decision makers in all of that were the same decision makers who kept the Leland Ranch Conservation Easement application process a closely guarded secret for close to two years. However, since virtually all of the then present participants are either gone or reassigned, belaboring what happened in the past accomplishes little. Kind of like castigating the Mace Innovation Park proposal for Dave Morris’ missteps with respect to Mace 391 / Shriners. We can’t change the past. We can only affect the future.

      2. Robb Davis

        Matt

        The solution to that problem is to bring to current the Land Use Element of the General Plan.

        Frankly

        Then why isn’t the city leadership pushing for a general plan update?

        I requested this several months ago and have followed up since.

        1. Matt Williams

          And you should be thanked for taking that proactive step Robb. Consider my personal thanks as the first in what I believe should be a long list of thanks from others posted as comments here in the vanguard (and throughout Davis).

  5. Tia Will

    Farming is not a religion… it is simply one type of business”

    I agree that farming is not a religion. But I strongly disagree that it is “simply one type of business”. The implication of this statement is that all businesses are equally valuable. This is simply not true. Farming produces food, a product necessary to sustain life. Much manufacturing and sales involves items that no one actually needs. They may make life more convenient, or pleasant but they are not necessary. One thing that I see lacking in the uncritical desire for growth ( willing to back big box stores, or automobile dealerships, or “innovation parks” without full consideration of the potential downsides as well as the supposed benefits, is that it is lacking the initial evaluation that is essentially in any major life decision. What are the actual needs. This should always be the first consideration. Then we can get around to what I prefer vs what you prefer. I am not seeing a definitive needs assessment here that does not start with the assumption that we are in competition with the region, not collaborators for the well being of the region.

  6. Frankly

    Farming produces food, a product necessary to sustain life.

    This is too simplistic to wake up my brain to respond.

    In summary there are a lot of products and services required to sustain life other than farming.  And farming as we know it with the capability to produce and distribute enough food to actually feed everyone owes that capacity to many other products and services that require land for commercial use other than farming.

    Sometimes I think you must have dreams of being a foraging Indian instead of a person of modern times.  It is like you are discounting everything other than air, water and just enough food to provide the calories and nutrients needed to survive.  This extreme minimalist stance appears to be your religion, IMO.

  7. Tia Will

    This extreme minimalist stance appears to be your religion, IMO.”

    Why do you assume that everyone has to have one ? Religion that is. Could it be so that you can more readily tuck them into some arbitrary niche that allows you to already know in advance what they believe rather than actually thinking about what they are saying ?

    1. Frankly

      One definition of “religion” is:

      a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance

      By the way, how much land does Kaiser require for their business operations?  And do they just locate far away from the population centers so they can preserve farmland?

      Looking at the soils map it appears that the Davis Kaiser facility is on prime farmland.   Convenient isn’t it?

      1. Don Shor

        “Supreme” being the modifier in that definition which makes your usage incorrect.

        Looking at the soils map it appears that the Davis Kaiser facility is on prime farmland. Convenient isn’t it?

        No, it’s poor planning. The Kaiser facility should have been next to the hospital on that much poorer soil.

        1. Frankly

          Hard for students and core area seniors to bike to that location.  And what about all the traffic that would happen concentrating those two large health provider facilities together?

          The point is that Davis has previously made the decision to develop on prime farm land for uses other than farming because it provides great benefits to the community.

          1. Don Shor

            because it provides great benefits to the community.

            Actually, the reason peripheral land (prime ag or otherwise) is developed should be pretty obvious and isn’t necessarily related to the highest and best use of that land, or to any conservation ethic, or anything other than the fact that it is peripheral and easy to develop.
            Are core area seniors biking to Kaiser on a regular basis?

    1. Frankly

      If the council does not want to do it, then it comes down to making sure they are not re-elected.

      If the public as a whole does not, and it is because of ignorance, then it takes strong leadership to educate and move them to support.

      If the public as a whole does not and it is because of stubbornness, then it takes even stronger leadership to do the right thing for them despite their stubbornness.

      I have two senior employees doing the same job… one noted the need for changes that would improve the work, but would take effort… the other stubbornly resisted.   The first one took a leadership approach and got the changes done over the constant protests and blocking of the first.  It was a slog to get it done.   Now the changes are paying benefits and the resistant one just ignores all the previous trouble caused and wants to be involved in the changes… because the benefits are clear.

      Less than 15% of people are visionary… capable of visualizing a future state…  and a percentage of them are capable of planing the work and executing on the plan.   These are leaders.  And often no good deed goes unpunished.   A large part of the other 85% will froth and fight and attempt to block and dismantle the project over the fear of the unknown.  They cannot envision a positive future state and are prone to change-aversion.  They want things kept stable so they don’t feel anxious.  Or they support change that removes existing anxiety caused by chaos or dynamic forces.

      They are largely stasis and they would lead a much less rich life if not for the dynamists fighting them all the time to change for their own good.  Dynamists seek anxiety of change and can be reckless, so the stasis folk have a role to play.  But after needs assessment and feasibility assessment, decisions need to be made and projects need to be launched.  Change has to happen regardless of those unable to accept it.

      Good leaders don’t hold a grudge for the road blocks caused by those that block.  They celebrate the accomplishment and the fact that those lacking visioning capability now have the clarity they need to throw in support.

      Where is the leadership for Davis’s innovation parks and economic development?  Rob White was one… he was visionary and working to educate the ignorant.  That is probably enough in this town to override the stubborn.  But he is gone and there is nobody doing the education part.  There is nobody stepping to the front to plan the work and execute the plan. There is nobody willing to get all bruised and bloodied doing the right thing.

      There are those working on it in a passive academic Kumbaya fashion, and it is not enough.

      1. Don Shor

        There is nobody stepping to the front to plan the work and execute the plan.

        The point I am making is that they are moving forward. Someone is presently doing the work and executing the plan. There just isn’t anything to talk about at the moment. I guess if you have questions, you could email Mike Webb or something.
        If somebody could somehow get the other plan back on track, that would be great. But we don’t know what blocked it.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for