Council Makes Move to Separate Sports Parks, Pool from Tax Discussion

A Sports Complex is one of the potential projects listed by the city
A sports complex is one of the potential projects listed by the city

At least two dozen people spoke on Tuesday at public comment. As expected, many were members of the sports communities – little league, softball, soccer, swimming and even tennis. They all brought a similar message – our facilities are badly in need of upgrade or of altogether new facilities. However, council delivered one message strongly on Tuesday night – the discussion about a sports park, swimming pools and other sports facilities needed to be separated from the tax discussion.

While Robb Davis made it a point to state he favored a parcel tax over the Utility User Tax (UUT), the rest of the council seemed content to move forward on the process where the issue would come back in the fall when the council hopefully has more clarity on the exact infrastructure needs.

Councilmember Rochelle Swanson made the motion that the city have a Davis sports park complex advisory committee or task force like the city has done in the past for other major infrastructure. She asked that it be brought back in the first meeting after the summer break.

“There’s a lot of concern about what the subject matter of the vote is,” Councilmember Swanson explained. “My fear is that we’re going to lose a lot of momentum whether it’s support for a tax which is what we need.”

The council was clear on the need to separate the issue of the sports facilities from the tax conversation.

Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis stated, “I think we have to divorce the conversation about a sports park from the UUT or any type of tax measure that we would eventually have.” He added, “In my opinion we need to look at the existing infrastructure backlogs that we have for roads, key city building, the fleet… and other key infrastructure needs.”

The mayor pro tem pushed the council to keep its goals in mind. After enumerating some of these goals, he stated, “These are things that are in our goals and what they’re designed to do is they’re designed to position us to be able to create clarity for the community about what it’s going cost to fix the things we already have.”

“I believe strongly that we need to follow through on those goals,” he said. “At this point in time we do not have a goal related to the creation of a sports park. We did not set that goal last fall.” He added, “We want to be very cautious about adding new goals but we don’t exclude that possibility. But if we do, that means we need to be able to alleviate staff time and take it off something else.”

He stated that he is unwilling to take back time on the things he mentioned related to goals one and six, regarding fiscal sustainability and infrastructure.

Councilmember Swanson said that, instead of having a discussion of our sports infrastructure needs, we have people coming forward from various sports saying “please fund us, please fund us.” She said there are opportunities here to address sports needs but at the same time “bringing clarity to our tax measure. So that folks feel comfortable because I do agree with a lot of people when they say a general advisory vote makes them uncomfortable – they’re worried about what’s going to happen in two years. How do we give our community assurances?”

Councilmember Brett Lee stated that he wanted to talk about the roads and infrastructure needs that he saw as more pressing than sports parks and pools.

But Councilmember Swanson explained, “I think that was my purpose, so that we can focus on the roads and the current infrastructure, was by taking this piece out… and allow us to delve into our existing infrastructure issues.”

Robb Davis added, “We need to clear the decks on this, we need to move the conversation about sports parks which is not even a city council goal at this point, we need to move it aside, do our homework, look at all of the options for improving what people need – but we need to focus our attention on the fundamental backlogs that we have already identified…”

Lucas Frerichs said that he is agreement that we need to put core infrastructure – roads and parks, which in many cases are in disrepair – as a priority. However, “I also think that there is an ability for us to envision a future in this community that is grand and also is achievable. That includes building a sports park.”

Robb Davis stated, “By moving this away from the UUT, I am not expecting this to inform the UUT.” He said if we go in the direction of a UUT, that needs to be about core infrastructure needs.

After agreeing to have an advisory body on sports facilities, the conversation moved back to the core issue of the Utility User Tax.

Mr. Davis said that we need to “have a full accounting of the backlogs that exist in this community.” He noted that a year ago he voted against putting a measure on the ballot, believing that we needed a fuller accounting of our needs. A year later, he is glad to see those studies being implemented.

“I think it’s important, before we put a ballot measure out,” the Mayor Pro Tem explained, “that we have clarity on the things that we’re actually asking them to cover. Then we have a plan in place for addressing those needs.”

“I think it’s premature to talk about an amount… until we have an accounting of the costs,” he said. He was concerned, however, “that what we’re going to find is that our needs probably outstrip our ability to raise resources to cover them.” He said, as a city we need to figure out a long-term strategy for doing that – economic development will come to a point where we have extra resources.

Mayor Pro Tem Davis said, “In an ideal world, I would prefer to support a parcel tax.” He said while he thinks it’s “regressive,” “the accountability that comes with it is important. I don’t see energy for that.” There is no recommendation from his colleagues on it. The only way he would feel comfortable with a UUT is if the city council lays out the goals and objectives he laid out earlier in the evening.

Lucas Frerichs pointed out that this has been an ongoing discussion for a long time but at some point we need to take action on it. They have until February to figure out the specifics. “I think it’s imperative for us to continue to have this community conversation and dialogue with folks to have community awareness that we are going to be pursuing some sort of revenue measure,” he said. Most likely, he said, that would be in the form of a Utility User Tax.

City Manager Dirk Brazil explained that, at this point, they have the guidance they need. They need to get all of the information that they possibly can so that they can “have something that is going to pass muster with the public – we have a lot of outstanding issues that have to be buttoned up before we can say this is the amount we need and this is what is going to be covered.”

However, as Robb Davis reiterated at the end, “I have no illusion that we’re going to be able to raise enough money to cover all of the backlogs that we currently have.”

—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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  1. Barack Palin

    First United Airlines computers go down grounding the airline worldwide, then the NYSE computers fail and the Davis Vanguard site is down.  Chinese attack?  Vast right wing conspiracy?

  2. Tia Will

    other key infrastructure needs. “

    As a community, I believe that we are making a mistake if we do not consider “recreational areas” in the broadest sense within our community as a “key infrastructure need.”

    I have not yet formed an opinion with regard to a sports complex, or any specific recreational structure such as pools vs tennis courts vs soccer fields. However, I am alarmed that many of our citizens who spoke last night at city council do not seem to place human health on the same level of importance as our streets and paths. I realize that as a doctor, this focus on individual and community health is both a product of my profession and fundamentally shapes my view of the world.

    However, it has been demonstrated here in commentary, acknowledged locally, regionally and nationally that we have an epidemic ( not used hyperbolically) of obesity and yet in our rhetoric and our actions, we continue to downgrade one of the mainstays of obesity prevention, namely sports and physical activity in general, in favor of our roads. I find it deeply disturbing that we continue to place that which would tend to keep us healthy starting with the lifelong habits that we develop as children as a lower priority than facilitating that which keeps us unhealthy, namely excessive use of the private automobile.  Yes, our roads are in extreme disrepair and need tending to. 



    I would argue that the bodies of an alarmingly large percentage of our population are also in extreme disrepair and the way to end that intergenerational lack of good health is not to place this aspect of our well being as individuals and members of a healthy, thriving society on a back burner. Rather our leaders should acknowledge the lack of wellness as the crushing burden that it is and encourage every step towards a healthier population in the future. 

    1. Davis Progressive

      “As a community, I believe that we are making a mistake if we do not consider “recreational areas” in the broadest sense within our community as a “key infrastructure need.””

      robb admitted that we don’t have the funding to pay for all of our needs even sans the sports complex.  the roads and bikepaths and sidewalk situation is truly a public safety risk.  i think david made the point well during public comment – with all of the people worried about not having parks and soccer fields and baseball fields and tennis and swimming – what happens when kids start getting hurt because the roads are in disrepair?

      no one talked about the fact that uut’s have very low passage rates – so tia, where are you getting the money?

      1. Tia Will

        so tia, where are you getting the money?”

        In keeping with my philosophy that we have an obligation to pay for what we want ourselves, I agree with Rochelle that we will need to think in terms of “creative financing”. I am thinking in terms of not eliminating any options at this point :

        1) Taxation – either UUT, parcel tax, sales tax, usage tax all as possibilities, and all recognized to have their pros and cons

        2) Public / private partnerships – geared to the well being of the community rather than the well being of any individual business. I can envision fund matching as an option as I believe that Rochelle was implying might be a possibility. We seemed to be able to “help” the developers of the Cannery. So why is it that we cannot “help” those who would benefit in terms of both short and long term health by our financial aide ?

        3) Business parks as a number of frequent posters keep heralding as the only feasible option for a sustainable revenue flow to the city. I do not believe that these should be left out of the discussion. However, I do think that it is extremely important that the proponents keep in mind the long timeline, which will not address our current problems, and the additional need for infrastructure with both immediate and long term costs which the proponents seem to consistently leave out of their one sided arguments in favor of these projects as an unmitigated good for the city.

        4) Grants – I have not heard much about seeking these although I do seem to recall a brief mention of this possibility previously.

        5) The completely ignored savings from less spending needed on health care if we were to invest in wellness instead of relatively futile attempts to control and manage the diseases related to obesity and a sedentary lifestyle once it has gotten established during childhood.


  3. keithvb

    If the sports complex is such a good idea then those who want it should figure out how to pay for it. It should be a self-supporting venture.

    I’m opposed to new taxes for new projects.

    1. Topcat

      If the sports complex is such a good idea then those who want it should figure out how to pay for it. It should be a self-supporting venture.

      Yes, I wish the Council could understand this point.

      1. Miwok

        probably to gain the hundreds of sports people in davis onto his side.

        While they may need a “new” Sports Complex, I have only read about it here, and was interested to learn it was to be built on the site of a previous landfill. True? If so they fail to maybe heed the experience of SF Bay area people when a developer built houses on a former landfill and the people had toxics and items coming up through the ground.

        A previous proposed sports facility in Placer County was denied thirty years ago when the County Supes decided the safety of the spectators was in danger because of the landfill next to it, and the methane in the existing site would have put them at unacceptable risk.

        So Davis proposes this? They cannot remodel and upgrade what they have? I ask because I have only friends who tell me what they have experienced. When  rates for softball teams were raised, many went to Dixon or Vacaville. It makes me wonder how much they charge, and are these “fees” a maintenance fee or a fee that also represents the true cost of the facility including future needs and replacement?

        Of course moving it off budget makes it go away? Just like the roads.

  4. Frankly

    I’m pleased with Robb’s leadership and most of the other CC members’ agreement to put this sports park idea on the back-burner.  I am also pleased that Robb brought up that he prefers a parcel tax over a UUT tax.   I know the CC and staff are thinking that the 2/3 vote is a problem and that a parcel tax is more regressive (I disagree with that, but leave it for another day), but the UUT tax is going to be fought with the message that this CC and future CCs are not bound and can use the funds to give raises to city employees… and I think that message will create real problems for getting 50%+1 votes.

    I think it is a better approach to lay out the true need and then propose a parcel tax that meets that need.  But make it a temporary tax that is replaced by the revenue that would derive from economic development… primarily innovation parks.

    The REAL disappointment here is that it seems economic development has completely off the radar from this discussion of taxation to pay for our unfunded liabilities and infrastructure maintenance… and also for our future demand for more amenities.    I wish I could have been at the meeting, but I had a work event.   But based on this report my sense that economic development as a solution for our long term revenue needs has lost momentum and been replaced with an interest to just increase taxes… again.

  5. Barack Palin

    Our child population has been declining over the last few decades as our residents are aging.  Why the need for a new sports park and pool now?


  6. Tia Will

    But based on this report my sense that economic development as a solution for our long term revenue needs has lost momentum and been replaced with an interest to just increase taxes… again.”

    I also am sorry that you were not there Frankly. I also was not there but was able to watch from home. Having seen the whole discussion, I do not believe that your perception is accurate. What I saw was an awareness that there are immediate needs ( both in terms of dangerous conditions both in terms of non sports and sports related infrastructure) and long term needs which are the only ones that would be met by such projects as the innovation parks. I do not believe that the current city council does not understand the difference between the timelines involved.

    I believe that they are working in a methodical fashion on both the short and long term financial needs, not just a short term fix with more taxes although, as you have stated in previous posts, there will be the need for those as well even if every proposed innovation park were to go forward.

    Why not repair/upgrade what we have?”

    As was mentioned in public comment, the answer to this question may be that because what we have in terms of pools and other sports facilities is so old and outdated that repairs and upgrades may be more expensive than replacement. Now, I do not know that this is factual information, but I would certainly hope that city staff is considering the relative cost of ongoing patching and repairing to replacement over both the short and long term to determine what would be most cost effective.

  7. Eileen Samitz

    I do very much appreciate that there was at least a Council majority which supported separating the sports complex issue from a tax measure intended to focus on infrastructure repairs, such as our damaged roads and community pools and other existing recreational facilities.  However, I am still concern about how this can be accomplished with a User’s Utility Tax.  If a Parcel Tax  is used instead of a Users Utility Tax, it is more likely to be supported by more than 2/3’s of Davis voters since it would clearly define what it is intended for. Despite the 2/3 vote needed, a Parcel Tax would secure the public’s confidence that they would know how, and what the money would be spent on.

  8. Tia Will

    From some of this mornings posts, it would appear that some folks are not aware of the action already taken by the CC on Councilmember Swanson’s proposal to bifurcate the issue of the sports complex from that of the UTT or other tax measures related to infrastructure. I think that this unanimous decision on the part of the council to convene a separate task force to consider the issue of a sports facility or facilities in a “dispersed” model as partially tongue in cheek alluded to by Ms. Swanson, was a very wise decision but seems to have escaped the attention of those who are continuing to object to the inclusion of the consideration of the sports complex in the same conversation as the remainder of the infrastructure issues.

    I just wanted to make clear that this separation which seems so desired by some, was already made by the council last night.


  9. Mark West

    BP:  “Why the need for a new sports park and pool now?”

    Adage: “When is the best time to plant a fruit tree?  10 years ago.”

    You don’t build infrastructure for what you need today, but for what you anticipate needing tomorrow. If we are serious about expanding our economy and creating jobs through economic development, then we need to anticipate that these new businesses and jobs will in the long run change the demographics of the town.  It won’t happen overnight, but it will eventually.

    The facilities for youth baseball and softball in town are already inadequate.  With the anticipated changes in Little League rules coming in the next few years, the current fields will no longer be viable for most competitions.  There are several other fields around town that are suitable for baseball practice, but not for competition.  There are currently only three fields in town available for for use by Davis Youth Softball, but only one of those is suitable for girls over the age of 12.  None of these fields have lights available, severely limiting access to the fields much of the year. The other softball fields in town are used primarily for adult slow pitch, and only available for youth teams at fairly expensive rental rates.  There is a very nice field at the High School, but so far the School District has restricted access to that field despite the promises made by the School Board.  Soccer has a number of additional options around town, but even with that advantage, they are bursting at the seems for available space for both practice and games.

    The proposed youth sports complex should have been built more than ten years ago, and if it had, it would be fully utilized today.  The 50 meter pool should have been built as proposed when the City built Manor Pool back in the 70’s (or later when Arroyo and Emerson pools were built), but short sighted ‘leaders’ and neighborhood wags decided that a neighborhood recreational pool was more important.  About the same time the City of Woodland managed to figure out how to use a 50 meter pool for recreational purposes, but that apparently was beyond the ‘vision’ of the people of Davis.

    I don’t have a problem with the decision made by the CC last night, and I appreciate the leadership shown by Robb Davis to keep the focus on the Council’s stated priorities, but that does not change my unwavering support for improving and expanding our facilities for youth sports.




    1. Davis Progressive

      mark – i just can’t help thinking your view on this goes against your view on everything else…

      “You don’t build infrastructure for what you need today, but for what you anticipate needing tomorrow.”

      first of all, we have competing needs today and limited resources.  so the question is how do you prioritize your spending?

      “The proposed youth sports complex should have been built more than ten years ago, and if it had, it would be fully utilized today. ”

      and ten years ago we shouldn’t have given away our sales tax money to the firefighters

      we shouldn’t have put less than $10 million into roads over a 15 year period

      we shouldn’t have given the employees unions double figures pay increases

      we shouldn’t have bumped up retirement pensions to 2.5/3

      we shouldn’t have ignored unfunded retiree medical.

      in short we f’ed up ten years ago and now we have to pay for those mistakes.

      1. Mark West

        DP:  I don’t disagree with any of what you said.  We absolutely need to clean up the mess that was made in the past, including getting rid of the ‘leadership’ responsible for creating that mess. Why we continue to put faith in the people who created these problems is completely beyond me.

        I have stated repeatedly that our response should be a comprehensive approach that plans long-term to deal with all of the shortcomings, including repairing and in some cases, expanding our infrastructure. Unfortunately what we cannot do is undo any of the mistakes that have already been made, especially with regards to employee compensation.  All we can do now is stop the bleeding by not continuing to provide those gold-plated benefits to new hires, and by reducing the number of people we are paying those benefits to.

        ” ten years ago we shouldn’t have given away our sales tax money to the firefighters”

        We cannot take the money back, so instead outsource the Fire Department services through the University.

        “shouldn’t have put less than $10 million into roads over a 15 year period”

        Figure out how much  money we need, then create a tax funded bond measure to cover all that cost.  It took 20 years of neglect to get to the current decrepit state, and will take at least that long to recover.

        “We shouldn’t have given the employees unions double figures pay increases. We shouldn’t have bumped up retirement pensions to 2.5/3”

        Outsource the jobs, cutting our long-term liabilities. Control the compensation costs of any new hires required in the future.

        “we shouldn’t have ignored unfunded retiree medical.”

        We never should have offered it in the first place.  Retiree Medical should be 100% funded by the employee.

        “in short we f’ed up ten years ago and now we have to pay for those mistakes.”

        Yes, but your list is incomplete.  We should have expanded our local economy through economic development instead of turning the town into a bedroom community for public employees.  We should have expanded our retail base so that residents could buy what they needed without having to drive out of town.  We should have redeveloped our downtown so that it became a vibrant driver of the local economy instead of a place for college age kids to get drunk.

        There are a lot of consequences from past mistakes that we need to deal with, and there is no time like the present to get started.  We don’t need another commission to talk about it all again, we need to start implementing. If the response is that we have too many problems to deal with so we cannot plan for the future, then we will never accomplish anything.  If the CC refuses to act, get a new CC. We need to focus out our needs, now and for the future, and get to work on all of them, one step at a time. In other words, a comprehensive approach.


        1. Frankly

          Well done Mark West!  I very much like this back and forth between you and DP.  DP lobs the good serve and you keep smacking aces over the net!

          Like you, I don’t have a problem with a clear and transparent new tax request put to the voters to fund new amenities like a new sports park and/or improvements to our existing facilities.  We can all do the cost-benefit analysis like we do for supplemental parcel taxes to fund the schools and vote yes or no.  This is for the kids, and frankly, I see there being a similar assessment of value to the kids.  In fact, I think some kids develop more life skills on the field than they do in the classroom.

          Ultimately, I would prefer that we have the surplus revenue from an adequate local economy to fund things like new sports parks.   I also think we are squandering an opportunity to include this type of amenity into one of the innovation parks… to get the developer to help pay for it.

          But if we want to fund new goodies outside of developing the revenue streams to pay for them in our economy, then put it up for the voters to decide if they want to tax themselves to get it done.

          1. Don Shor

            I agree that this proposal should be voted on separately and via a parcel tax, and think the council took the right action. I doubt there is a developer willing to include it and I think trying to get that would probably delay or impede development of the peripheral sites. If a site is good for a business park, it’s probably a waste of space to include a sports facility of any size there.

        2. hpierce

          Frankly, you must not play tennis much.  “Aces” are serves that land fair and cannot be returned.  What I think you are describing is a “put-away shot” (or, if you’ve charged the net, and hit it with an overhead motion, a “smash”).  I take no position on the rest of your post.

        3. Frankly

          Frankly, you must not play tennis much.  “Aces” are serves that land fair and cannot be returned.

          Yikes.  Yes.  LOL.  Used to play tennis until the left knee said no more.

          What do you call that serve return that scores?

          1. Matt Williams

            Frankly: “What do you call that serve return that scores?”

            A Return of Serve Winner

        4. hpierce

          “Return shot (volley)”, unless it can’t be returned, and if the latter, also a “put-away” shot.  Always sweet when you can do it.

        5. Frankly

          If a site is good for a business park, it’s probably a waste of space to include a sports facility of any size there.

          Not necessarily.  There are a lot of research and business parks around the nation that include recreational areas that are used by the employees of the park and people of the community.   Having this amenity in the park would increase the attraction to business that would decide to locate here because a nice place to work attracts the better talent.

          Also, there is the open space mitigation requirement.  Why can’t a sports park be considered part of the open space mitigation?  I know you want it to be 100% farmland easements, but then Measure O doesn’t support that extreme demand.

          1. Don Shor

            There are a lot of research and business parks around the nation that include recreational areas that are used by the employees of the park and people of the community.

            Nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t sound anything like what the proponents of the sports park are asking for.

            Why can’t a sports park be considered part of the open space mitigation?

            It probably can under some circumstances. We’d have to read the law that the voters passed.

            I know you want it to be


  10. CalAg

    The REAL disappointment here is that it seems economic development has completely off the radar …

    Civic amenities, like the proposed sports park(s), are an integral part of economic development. The problem is that the City leadership doesn’t yet appear to fully understand this.

    The technology sector is now clustering in geographic regions where their workforce wants to be. If Davis doesn’t transform itself into a place where Millennials and Gen Z’s want to live, the economic development strategy will not produce the kind of revenue that the City is counting on. Vacant tech parks don’t produce tax revenue.

    Davis has an urgent need to transform itself into a place where the average UCD grad in the technology sector might want to put down roots. This is not a nice to have. Right now we are doing D minus work at best.

    1. Barack Palin

      Davis has an urgent need to transform itself into a place where the average UCD grad in the technology sector might want to put down roots. This is not a nice to have. Right now we are doing D minus work at best.

      It’s rather curious that you say this being that Davis has some of the loftiest property values in the region because it’s a highly desired place to live.

      1. Frankly

        It isn’t just that it is a highly desired place to live, it is that it artificially creates a housing scarcity and that scarcity is exacerbated by the growth of UCD housing needs.

      2. CalAg

        BP: I don’t think you understand. Explain how lofty property values equates to a desirable place for Millennials and Gen Z’s to put down roots. We’ve made a living in Davis off of the fortunate circumstance that we suck less than Woodland, West Sac, Sac Metro, Dixon, and Vacaville. That’s not going to drive growth of the technology sector in Davis (assuming we can even entitle enough land to get any attention). There’s lots of much better options out there.

  11. Anon

    As much as a parcel tax has more appeal, since it would ensure the revenue generated from the tax is spent on repair/maintenance of existing infrastructure, polls have shown a parcel tax will never be approved by voters because of the 67% voter approval threshold required.  However, if a utility user tax (UUT) is CRAFTED PROPERLY, it has a decent chance of passing, because it only requires 51% approval by voters.  IMO, the following would have to be accomplished in order for a UUT to be successful:

    1. City staff and City Council need to reaffirm its commitment to building momentum for innovation parks.  Since CIO Rob White departed, there has been no messaging coming from the city about the innovation parks.  That should change very quickly now that the new CIO just came on board last night.

    2. The Potential Capital Projects list (Attachment 1 in the city staff report about a potential UUT), that lays out the city infrastructure requirements and desires, needs to be separated into “need to have” and “nice to have”; then prioritized in order of necessity with road maintenance being first and foremost; with approximate costs attached to each item on the list.

    3. An advisory measure needs to accompany a UUT, which clearly lays out what the revenue generated by the UUT should be spent on.

    4. The UUT should sunset in 5 years, so that a reassessment can take place as to whether the spirit of the UUT was followed and whether it should be renewed.

    Still to be determined is what utilities will be taxed (water? sewer? sanitation? gas & electric? cable television/internet?); how much the tax will be (1%?, 3%?, 5%?); how long the tax will last (2yrs? 5yrs? 10yrs?).  City staff and the City Council have a lot of homework to do, to convince citizens that this tax is necessary, for how long it is necessary, to raise how much money, and to pay for what things.

    I do believe after last night’s public comment and ensuing City Council discussion, City Council members realized that funding a new Sports Park with a UUT is a nonstarter.  Certainly a Sports Park could be a separate ballot measure that citizens may choose to tax themselves for.

  12. Tia Will

    Davis has an urgent need to transform itself into a place where the average UCD grad in the technology sector might want to put down roots.”

    I believe that BP has this right. Davis already is a place where the average UCD tech grad, as well as grads in many other areas do want to put down roots. Many, if not most of my colleagues in the medical field went no further than Berkeley for parts of their education and there are large numbers of folks in the human, veterinary, dental and  mental health professions who got all or part of their education at UCD and then decided to either stay on or return. This is true in my recently or nearing retirement age group and it is equally true of many of our new hires in their late twenties and early thirties.

    1. Biddlin

      “I believe that BP has this right. Davis already is a place where the average UCD tech grad, as well as grads in many other areas do want to put down roots.”

      You just won’t allow them any real place in Davis to do so.

      (Here come the denials,deflections and hypotheticals)


    2. CalAg

      “I believe that BP has this right. Davis already is a place where the average UCD tech grad, as well as grads in many other areas do want to put down roots.”

      This is simply not a true statement. We don’t have adequate housing. We don’t have adequate jobs. While there is a small cohort of grads that want to stay, the large majority are happy to leave. The quality of life in Davis doesn’t cut it for young single professionals and DINKs. Most young families are priced out.

      And even those that want to stay often can’t, thanks to the moat.

      These are simple facts that you can get confirmed by talking to folks in the Alumni Association.

      We can’t seem to face the truth in Davis. The city is stagnant and largely irrelevant. We will have to do a lot better if there is going to be a meaningful amount of technology sector growth.

      1. Frankly

        I think both DP and you are correct in that grads WANT to stay, but for the lack of jobs and other inhospitable factors, they CHOOSE to leave.

        And then this tends to exacerbate the problem because lacking this mid-20 to late-30s professional-class and creative-class demographic those that do manage to stick around start to get unsatisfied with life here lacking adequate social opportunities.  If you are not an old teenager-young 20-something, or if you are not a gray-hair… you can start to feel out of place in Davis.  That is not a good thing at all.

        But hey, we can feel good about saving all that farmland from… SPRAWL (

        1. Tia Will

          grads WANT to stay, but for the lack of jobs and other inhospitable factors, they CHOOSE to leave.”

          I do not dispute this comment. I was one of the grads that did exactly this. I moved out of Davis when that was necessary and moved back to Davis when it became feasible for me to do so. I did not then, and do not now believe that a city has the responsibility to provide a home of the desired size and amenities to every young professional. Every decision we make be it growth, or stabilization or size will have adverse consequences for someone.

          Those who love Davis enough to return will find a way to do so. Those who see better opportunities elsewhere will choose to take those. Millenials and gen Xers are no more homogenous as individuals than is any other demographic. Some would prefer a small city atmosphere. My son is an example of this. Some will prefer the excitement of a larger city.  My daughter is an example of this. Is this not the heart of the “freedom of choice” that is advocated by some when the choices happen to align with their values. What is being envisioned by those who would grow rapidly is converting Davis into a much larger city thereby depriving those who would prefer it remain smaller of their preference and essentially stealing the opportunity from future generations to even consider a “smaller is better” option in the future. Do we really feel compelled to make every decision for the upcoming generations through our actions ?

        2. Frankly

          But you came back because you were lucky to have a job opportunity that paid you well enough that you could afford to live here.  People generally do not come back to Davis unless they can afford to live while working within commuting distance.

          And that is the problem I have with your position demanding a small and dense, car-less society.  Your arguments here are so contradicting it is impossible for me to see them as rational.

  13. Eileen Samitz


    I did see that bifurcation advocated for by Council member Rochelle Swanson and strongly supported by Council member Robb Davis, and I do greatly appreciate that. What I am saying is I am not understanding, how can the public can be assured that monies from a User Utility Tax is not going to be used sometime in the future, for a Sports Complex?  Monies from a User Utility Tax basically goes into the General Fund.

    1. Anon

      See my points above – make sure an advisory measure accompanies a UUT that lays out exactly what the tax revenue will be spent on, it sunsets in 5 years, and an analysis is done on what is NEEDED before any UUT is proposed.

      1. SODA

        The issue is how binding is advisory….

        I was surprised, given the amount of discussion in public comment and amongst some of the CC, that they went ahead with the UUT rather than have a more robust discussion of parcel vs UUT and what advisory might mean. To me, I do not trust the CC to ‘mean what they say’ unless more binding than that!

        It was also interesting and Brett tried to get the discussion more focused onto the tax rather than the sports lobbying.

    2. Tia Will

      Hi Eileen,

      Yes, I appreciated that from your comment. Some other posts implied that the author/s were still thinking that they two were being considered together.

      However, a bigger issue for me is at what point does one decide that a council or council member has earned the trust to act in the way that they say they will act ?  Will we forever hamstring ourselves and not raise enough money even to cover immediate needs ( since everyone seems to agree that the innovation parks even if they would provide a steady stream of revenue would not do so for a number of years) because of the mistakes of the past made by a completely different council?  I for one would be willing to move past the decisions made by previous councils and give the current council members a chance. To not be willing to do this at some point is just another form of paralysis. And, why would we believe that the council would choose wisely in term of innovation parks, but believe that they would not act wisely in terms of or tax dollars ?

      I feel that there has been enough consistency demonstrated to earn trust. Just one example for each council member to demonstrate my point.

      Dan Wolk had made it clear before he was initially voted on by the council  that one of his major priorities was the health and well being of children and families.We subsequently voted him back onto the council  He has consistently demonstrated this commitment in his actions.

      Lucas Freirichs had stated his commitment to the principle of infill and has remained consistent to this in is public and private actions.

      Rochelle Swanson made economic development a key of her candidacy and has taken consistent steps towards this goal.

      Both Robb Davis and Brett Lee made fact and evidence based decision making ,transparency and collaborative approaches keys to their candidacies and have been consistent to these principles.

      It is critical to realize that trust is based on the belief that an elected official will behave in the way that they have said that they will behave, not in the belief that they will act only in the ways that are in alignment with our own preferences.  I believe that it is time to set aside old mistakes and let the current council members do the job that we elected them to do.

  14. keithvb

    Seems like a lot of folks are looking forward to paying yet another special tax.

    What’s wrong with the sports complex being a self-supporting venture?

    Where is the money to remove the old unmaintained sports facilities?

  15. Eileen Samitz


    My understanding is that an Advisory Vote is not binding and that’s why the term “advisory”is used. Please let us all know if you find out information otherwise.

    1. SODA

      agree Eileen and that concerns me too and I am not willing to take a chance at least not if it was today. Maybe one of the lawyers can give us a more definitive answer. Anon’s post does not clear it up for me!

  16. Tia Will

    Hi Soda,

    I am not willing to take a chance at least not if it was today”.

    Given that an advisory vote is not binding, what would give you enough confidence to make you willing to “take a chance” ?  I am ready to do so based on the actual performance of our council members to date based on the congruence of their campaign statements and their subsequent actions as stated in my previous post. What would it take for you ?

    1. David Greenwald

      The problem is that even if you trust the current council based “on the actual performance” standard, the council changes in a year, and then three years. So do you trust an unknown future council based on this one’s actual performance?

      1. hpierce

        By your assertion, even though we vote for council members, you philosophy seems to be NTAAE (Never Trust Anyone Anytime Ever).  I hope, fervently, that a City Council 25 years from now, doesn’t feel bound by things we think are “all right and relevant” today.  Would you REALLY want today’s CC acting on ‘precedents’ set 25 years ago, with different facts, understandings that applied 25 years ago?  Even 10 years ago? Even 5?

        Or, is what you are really saying is don’t trust the CC, because you don’t trust the voters who elected them, or the voters that will elect future Councils?  That sounds damn CONSERVATIVE to me.

        1. Davis Progressive

          we got into this mess because we collectively either ignored what our elected leaders were doing or trusted that they knew what they were doing.  given our voters insistence on voting for popular people like dan wolk, i see little reason to trust the electorate.  the left and the right share core distrusts of government – in different ways and on different issues.

        2. hpierce

          OK… you don’t trust the electorate.  So, we should stop the ‘farce’ of having a City Council.  And we should stop the ‘farce’ of voting on Measures like R/J, etc.  We should stop the ‘farce’ of voting on parcel taxes, sales taxes, UUT.  OK, if the electorate cannot be trusted on any of these things, how should we proceed?

        3. Davis Progressive

          i don’t see a way around having a city council, so i would prefer a group of vigilant citizens monitor government – that’s why i support the vanguard.

  17. Tia Will


    So do you trust an unknown future council based on this one’s actual performance?”

    Of course not. But….
    I see that as the wrong question. The more appropriate question in my mind runs along the lines of hpierce’s post. Do we trust our ability as voters to make the best choices of whom to represent us. Sometimes we choose wisely, sometimes not so much so depending on each of our own priorities. Often the “best choice” from Frankly’s point of view will not be the “best choice” from my point of view. So part of my selection process as I have gotten older and matured in my career is does this particular candidate take a broad perspective of the well being of the community, do they consistently do what they have said that they will do ( or if they change their mind, do they do so on the basis of a reconsideration of all the facts now available to them )? Do they use an evidence based approach to problem solving ? When they make a mistake, as all leaders will, do they own it and do the best they can to make amends, and do they learn from it and not repeat the same error ?

    At some point in a representative democracy, we must be able to trust our elected leaders, which ultimately means that we must be able to trust ourselves.

    1. Davis Progressive

      “Do we trust our ability as voters to make the best choices of whom to represent us.”

      i don’t.  the average person in davis doesn’t even know the big issues facing us.

      1. hpierce

        And, there are many who know of the big issues, but the depth of their understanding is at best, ankle-deep.  Focussed on slogans, dogmas, instead of constructive approaches to reality.  Your alternative?

    2. Frankly

      Tia – Well said.

      But there is a problem that has come to light over the last several decades…

      In this model of representative democracy that I tend to demand we honor, and that you seem to echo above, there is the expectation that politics is a temporary role served by those that take time out of their private lives.  The politicians brings his/her connections and perspectives from those governed to ensure priorities are for the benefit of the governed.   Unfortunately what has happened is that politics has developed into its own industry and career pursuit.  The second related problem is that paid career politicians become just another type of public-sector employee.  They get access to the same benefits… although sometimes even greatly enhanced… that the government employees get.  And then when these government employees get to organize labor groups and become legal-sanctioned, but largely unregulated, political action entities with a single agenda of enriching their management and membership… well then we have corrupted the original working design of representative governance.   We in fact have a very clear conflict of interest with respect to political power and public money.

      I have been fascinated talking to my new employee who’s family is from the Philippines.  The conflict of interest in that country is on the other side of the fence… it is private business pulling the puppet strings of the politicians.   In fact, most of the politicians are actually operatives of businesses… family-owned businesses for the most part.  The politicians don’t get paid very well, but they pursue a good living from the paybacks from business that get the government contracts.

      Liberals and Democrats are on a tear using their pals in the liberal media to foment the narrative that big business owns government.  Socialist Bernie Sanders is making political hay from this narrative.   But in this country it is not the case… especially in the State and the City.  Democrats run the show in the State and City.  And Democrats are in bed with labor.  And with this, and because elected political positions have been transformed to be more LIKE labor, there is always going to be this push and pull for spending priorities that benefit labor… over the expense of other things that voters would favor.  For example, since our CC members qualify for OPEB, does it not make sense that they would vote to keep the OPEB benefits rich?

      Even if we elect the “right” candidates for our City Council, the problem we have is that most will likely gravitate toward this tilt toward favoring labor.  It might be a small tilt, but over time the impacts are accumulative… and destructive.

      In this type of political environment I think we need clear controls as to the authority and transparency for use of funds.   And ideally we need to eliminate the ability for public-sector labor to organize and collectively bargain.

      This is why we should reject the UUT and any general fund tax.  Local politicians cannot be trusted, not because all politicians are the wrong people, but because the system we have causes them to tilt in the wrong direction in favoring funding priorities.

      1. Tia Will


        I know that there is an expectation that politics will ba temporary position, because you have stated so. I do not share this expectation. I see political leadership much like I see any other human enterprise. It can take years of training and practice to develope the skills necssary to become a truly effective leader in many fields including public service. Just as we would not be particularly well served by training a surgeon and then sayingafter 5 or 10 years, ok now you are termed out and you need to go back to the farm, or into the classroom or home to bake cookies, I do not think that politicians should be arbitrarily limited in their careers either. I would only impose one limit on them.

        I feel that once elected they should serve out the term for which they were elected prior to running for higher office. I believe this because a politician has in effect made a personal covenant with the people who elected him to serve for a fixed amount of time, and barring over riding personal circumstances such as healthy or family emergency, that is what they should do.

    3. Barack Palin

      I’m sure when the store was given away in 2004 that the citizens back then had thought that they too had elected the “right” candidates.

        1. Frankly

          I think we need to give citizen commissions more authority for demanding information, and all revenues need to have legal mandates around how the money can be spent.  And there needs to be completely transparent reporting for money in and money out and long-term obligations.  Then the citizens commissions would have the responsibility of getting audit reports and reporting to the people.

          City staff, and to a less degree, city politicians, are too much fox guarding the hen house.

          As a tax-paying partner employer of all city staff and even the CC, I would implement a right to work policy, and implement professional HR and HR policy, and stop negotiating collectively with the labor groups or unions.

          I would document performance goals and implement a monetary incentive/penalty performance program to help motivate performance that is good and right for the city.  I would have a commission oversee this.  And an outside professional HR team handle conflicts.

          I would implement a city-wide survey system to help establish policy priorities.

          I would implement a policy that says no city politician can run for other office while in office.

          I would eliminate OPEB and convert all defined benefit pensions to defined contribution plans and implement a cost of living adjustment keyed to the local economic consumer price index.  But first I would do a compensation study comparing city jobs to the private sector and adjust total compensation to be in line with the private sector.  In the end, the city employee should be fairly compensated.

      1. Barack Palin

        DP and I do agree on some issues, just as I also agree with you once in awhile hpierce.  So does that make you and I more alike than you would want to own up to?

        I would want some ironclad guarantees before I would vote for giving the council free rein on any utility tax where I and others would be paying much more than any proposed $150 parcel tax.

        As far as trusting the voters to vote for the right candidates so 2004 wouldn’t happen again, I also agree with DP that you can’t rely on that in Davis, after all our populace voted for Obama with over 80% of the vote.

        1. Don Shor

          As far as trusting the voters to vote for the right candidates

          The candidate pool doesn’t always give an indication as to fiscal policies, and voters’ decisions aren’t always based entirely or even primarily on fiscal issues. When you were choosing among Ruth Asmundson, Stan Forbes, Mike Levy, Lamar Heystek, and Rob Roy, which was going to be the most fiscally conservative? Would that have been your deciding factor?

  18. Anon

    SODA: “agree Eileen and that concerns me too and I am not willing to take a chance at least not if it was today. Maybe one of the lawyers can give us a more definitive answer. Anon’s post does not clear it up for me!

    I would totally agree that a parcel tax would be best, because it would ensure what the tax revenue from the parcel tax would be spent on.  But the reality is it takes 67% voter approval, and polls showed a parcel tax will never pass muster with voters – it is DOA.  So that leaves us with a utility user tax (UUT), which only requires 51% voter approval.  But unfortunately it is a general tax, so there is the danger that it could be spent on anything.  So the question becomes how can we craft a UUT to ensure the tax revenue generated is spent on what the current City Council promises.  Unfortunately there is no guarantee, but there is a high probability a UUT will be spent on what it is supposed to be spent on if the UUT is crafted in such a way that:

    1.  City Council makes clear the UUT is only a temporary measure, by having it sunset in 5 years, so that it can be reassessed and voters can decide if it should be renewed in light of how it was spent.

    2.  It is accompanied by an advisory measure which makes clear specifically what the money is intended for in the voters’ minds.

    3. Before any UUT is proposed, the City Council makes sure to take the list of capital projects laid out in the staff report, separates the “need to have” from the “nice to have”; prioritizes the projects in order of necessity, and accompanies each item on the list with a price tag.  Then a thorough analysis should be done on just what the UUT should be spent on in order of necessity as laid out in the prioritized list.

    4.  The City Council and city staff recommits to building momentum for well planned innovation parks that will generate substantial tax revenue as the city’s long term goal for future fiscal sustainability.

    The City Council will have to justify, before it puts any UUT on a ballot, how much the UUT should be (1%?, 3%?, 5%?), on what utilities the tax will be (water? sewer? sanitation? gas&electric? cable/internet service?), and for how long the UUT will last (1 yr? 3yrs? 5yrs?).  Is it a perfect guarantee?  No.  Will it be a fairly good way to ensure the money is spent where it is supposed to go?  I think so, especially if it sunsets in a short number of years, so that voters can cut the money off if it is not being spent as intended.

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