Commentary: Top Issue and Most Elusive Goal in This Community is Fiscal Sustainability

Pothole-Sky

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This is probably not a fair indictment, but in the last 12 to 18 months, it seems that we have forgotten that the city’s fiscal health remains perilous at best. With an improvement in the economy and the passage of the sales tax, the city has moved into a very tentative black area, but that fiscal health is fragile at best.

At the outset I want to make it clear that, while I am supportive of the idea of creating adequate and quality space for athletics in this community, as exemplified by the photo of my daughter playing soccer this past week, I am concerned that the discussion on sports parks will be stacked in favor of support without enough representation on that body to be able to speak authoritatively to the fiscal challenges we have as a community.

I want to very briefly rehash where we stand in terms of the core fiscal health of the city.

First, we are in the black right now. The projections from the city, however, do not offer a lot of optimism here. First, the only reason we are in the black is that we passed a half cent sales tax. When that sales tax sunsets in 2021, we would immediately return to a structural deficit unless we pass a renewal.

While some have argued that the revenue projections are very conservative, I argue that the spending projections are just as conservative. We are assuming basically no increase in salaries over a decade period of time. We are also assuming that the overall economy continues to improve – something that, between the stock market and the modest jobs report this month, should at least be called into question.

Second, economic development will help but it is not a panacea. The revenue projection for the innovation park is about $2.1 million. We can improve that revenue with better cost savings. There may be ways in which the revenue projection was very modest. But remember that is the projection at build out, which is about 25 years away. Even if that number is $5 million, the revenue projections will help, but they will not solve our fiscal problems. Those who believe that economic development will help justify employee compensation increases are not looking at these numbers closely enough.

Third, the city is no longer committed to another round of employee compensation cuts. Last spring, City Manager Dirk Brazil effectively took employee compensation cuts off the table. That means that we are looking at a flat line to slightly increasing payroll costs at best. That doesn’t include likely increases to pensions or health care costs.

Fourth, the city is looking at a huge deferred maintenance deficit. We have laid out the costs of roads. Unfortunately, the state was not able to reach agreement on a transportation bill that at least could have tossed $3 million our way. We credit the city council with creating $4 million in ongoing general funds for roads, but City Manager Dirk Brazil acknowledged that is not enough.

Those costs do not include the costs for current park needs, current swimming pool needs and current building needs. We are hoping to get a number on that this fall at some point.

The bottom line is that the fiscal picture for the city is currently stable, but changes to the economy could push us right back into the red. We have a roads crisis, where we are facing hundreds of millions in costs.

Our priority needs to be to fix the stuff we have, to make sure we are not seeing depreciating roads, bike paths, sidewalks, parks and greenbelts, where costs rise faster than the funding we have to fix them. That needs to be our focus.

I understand why the council wanted to separate the issue of the sports complex from the issue of the infrastructure needs. However, I see a lot of danger embedded here.

First, I think we need to recognize that there is really one pie here. The pie does not have boundaries that end in one jurisdiction or another. So we have a school district that is likely to push for a renewal of the parcel tax that will require a two-thirds voter approval.

The city is looking into a utility user tax – I have expressed concerns about such a general use tax in that the money cannot be assigned to a given purpose. That allows enterprising elected officials sufficient leeway when determining the use.

But now add the potential need for a sports park. That could become a competing need.

My preference would be to solve the biggest problem we have first, which is a lack of resources to do the basic functions of municipal government – that means providing city services and paving our roads.

Once we secure that, I could see us creating a balanced committee to look into the needs of a sports park.

But we need to be mindful of not only the costs to build that sports park and where that money would come from, but also where the ongoing money is going to come from. My concern here is that people who commit to funding the maintenance now will likely not be involved in five to ten years when their kids have exited the system.

The plausible scenario I see is that the sports community steps up, gets some sort of modest tax passed, it gets approved because no one wants to be against youth recreation and sports. They start off funding the maintenance, but then we hit tough economic times, the original leadership group is replaced with people who did not commit to funding the maintenance, and in five years or ten years, they come to the council with a crisis.

The city is cash strapped, but can’t say no, and takes on the ongoing maintenance costs at the expense of other infrastructure needs.

The bottom line for me, however, is we need to prioritize and remember what our number one challenge is: ongoing funding for core city functions. Until we solve that problem, we have no business expanding our commitments.

—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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45 Comments

  1. Tia Will

    David

    The plausible scenario I see is that the sports community steps up, gets some sort of modest tax passed, it gets approved because no one wants to be against youth recreation and sports. They start off funding the maintenance, but then we hit tough economic times, the original leadership group is replaced with people who did not commit to funding the maintenance, and in five years or ten years, they come to the council with a crisis.”

    That could certainly happen. We have the example of it in our community. Those of us who use cars ( myself included) wanted streets for our cars to drive on. Unfortunately many of us ( myself not included) do not want to pay enough in taxes to maintain the infrastructure that we wanted built. Everything that you say about sports facilities could equally well be said about our streets. It is my strong belief that if we want something, we should be willing to pay for it. The logical outcome of this for me is that if we want our city to stay “in the black” then we need to be willing to extend the tax which got us there if that is what it takes.

     

    1. Frankly

      Unfortunately many of us ( myself not included) do not want to pay enough in taxes to maintain the infrastructure that we wanted built.

      There is that pesky word “enough”.

      But I think you should change that point to read:

      Unfortunately many of us ( yourself included) have voted to elect politicians that have far over-spent on government employees and given them millionaire retirement benefits to reward them for campaign contributions instead of spending it on road and infrastructure maintenance.

      I was just thinking about this.  The government employee wants another raise which will then give her an immediate and equal retirement raise.  To fund that raise, Tia gets to raise all of our taxes.  And now all of us-non government employees not only get a cut in our compensation, but we have less to save in our 401ks and we lose the benefit of compound interest depending on how many years we have left until our retirement.

      Said another way, assuming a 40 year old person that additional $100 per month going to the government employee as a net present value of $100,000 or more; while the net present value for the person paying the additional $200 per year tax is a -$50,000 (negative) or less.

      All those people having their retirement age and lifestyle negatively impacted just so we can be so generous to those government employees working for the unions that fund the politicians.

      1. Anon

        Yes, the problem in the past is that no reserve fund was set up to pay for infrastructure repairs.  The money went for other things. Then inconvenient truths like infrastructure repairs and employee benefits were dumped in an “unmet need” category, a magic wand waved, and the budget declared “balanced’! Talk about slight of hand!

      2. Tia Will

        Frankly

        Unfortunately many of us ( yourself included) have voted to elect politicians that have far over-spent on government employees and given them millionaire retirement benefits to reward them for campaign contributions instead of spending it on road and infrastructure maintenance.”

        I doubt that you have any idea who I did or did not vote for in the relevant elections.

        You say that you believe in personal responsibility. And yet your unwillingness to step up and pay for what you expect if it involves taxes argues against that position, in my eyes.

        1. Tia Will

          DP and Anon

          I do not doubt that this is the majority position and so will likely prevail. I just see it differently. I see it as doubling down on an old an ill advised transportation system while ignoring other projects that would improve our health and wellness in the long run. I fully accept my minority view as such.

  2. Mark West

    “Those of us who use cars ( myself included) wanted streets for our cars to drive on. Unfortunately many of us ( myself not included) do not want to pay enough in taxes to maintain the infrastructure that we wanted built.” [emphasis mine]

    Herein lies the fallacy.  We did not choose to not pay enough in taxes, the City Council chose to ignore the infrastructure needs and spent the money on total compensation instead.  This has been going on for years, and the legacy continues today.

    To become a fiscally sustainable community we need a comprehensive solution that includes reducing expenses (especially on retirement programs), increasing taxes and investing in economic development to create more jobs and increase the tax base.  Even with all this however we will still fail if the City Council spends the money in an irresponsible manner.

    We need to be looking at our fiscal situation with a long-term focus.  It took several years to dig the fiscal hole we are currently in, and will take several more to get out. With that in mind, we should be thinking about what infrastructure we want to have 20-40 years from now, and starting the process of acquiring those things now, while we also repair and improve what we have.  If we have $100 million in needs and another $50 million in wants, why not invest in both so that our current generation will be able to enjoy some of the benefits of the purchases we are making for the next one? Let us take a responsible look at all of the City’s infrastructure resources, sell off what is not needed, repair what still has a useful life and replace that which does not, and finally, invest in the new that will improve the lives of those who live here now and in the future. It really isn’t that difficult, IF we address the problem with a comprehensive, long-term approach.

    The only real question however is do we want to be able to invest in our children’s future (and their children’s), or do we want to just pour more money into the giant hole that is the public employee’s and career politician’s retirement program?

     

  3. Topcat

    …remember what our number one challenge is: ongoing funding for core city functions. Until we solve that problem, we have no business expanding our commitments.

    Yes.  I just wish that our City Council members all believed this.

  4. Davis Progressive

    first of all i think we need to address core issues of the city – things that if they fall apart won’t work.

    it’s easy to point the finger at the employees, but unfortunately a lot of that is sunk costs, moreover employee costs are tremendously trumped by infrastructure costs.

    i would prefer to get our house in order before embarking on expansive projects.

    1. Mark West

      “moreover employee costs are tremendously trumped by infrastructure costs.”

      I believe the long-term obligations for infrastructure and total compensation for employees are on about the same order of magnitude for the City. They are both huge issues.

       

  5. Don Shor

    So with my property tax bill in front of me, here are most of the current parcel tax add ons:

    http://davismerchants.org/vanguard/propertytaxaddons.png

    How much is going to be added for a sports park? It’s a project with a high up-front cost and significant ongoing costs. How likely is it that the parcel tax would need to be increased later to cover those ongoing costs?

    1. Mark West

      Your tax bill may not have to go up much at all if we increase the tax base through economic development, sell off unneeded assets and reduce expenses by controlling compensation/retirement costs.  The issue is how best to manage our resources. Looking at our recent past, we had a $100 million asset that we paid someone else to take off our hands.  If we manage the remainder of our assets with the same approach and determination we might make your tax bill rise quite a bit.

      The answer to your question depends entirely on our approach.

        1. Frankly

          Mace 391…  that $100 million asset that we peed away for  a $500,000 loss.  Too bad we didn’t put 200 acres in easement and leveraged the remained for an innovation park with a sports park included.

          We basically gave the finger to all those community members wanting useful open space to appease all the farmland preservation extremists.

          Life is about choice.  We all suffer the consequences of bad choice.

          1. Matt Williams

            DP, while your point has merit from a cash flow perspective, does it hold water with respect to an asset value perspective?

            With that asked, it is worth noting that the farmer who bought the Mace 391 parcel from the city for approximately $4,000 per acre (the price of row crop agricultural land) is currently in the process of planting a nut orchard. Orchard land throughout Yolo County typically sells for in excess of $10,000 an acre, which begs the question, “Why did the city sell the land at a row crop price per acre, when it could have sold it at an orchard price per acre? If they had done so, the sale would have netted the city 250% of what they actually sold it for … and such a sale would not have required a Measure J/R vote.

            Although Frankly’s inner moppet is quite frequently very money conscious, I’ve found that his inner moppet is even more process conscious … and the process lesson that we all were exposed to in the Mace 391 circus is not a “move on” item for Frankly.

        2. Frankly

          RE: Mace 391.  I stood at the podium in front of the council before they made this fateful and eroneous decision to tell them to not allow this unique opportunity to disappear.

          They did.

          Anyone that supported that decision has no right to ever to demand a sports park that we lack the funds to spend on it.   And I will be here forever to call them on it and remind everyone again and again of the lack of fiscal prudence containted within that decision.

          I will only allow it to be water under the bridge when I convinced we have learned something.  So far not enough.

        3. Mark West

          “Anyone that supported that decision has no right to ever to demand a sports park that we lack the funds to spend on it.”

          No, those who supported that decision have no right to whine about their tax bill, or about how much it is going to go up.

          1. Don Shor

            Actually, Mark, I have the right to discuss my tax bill any time I want, with anybody, without regard to your or Frankly’s ‘rules’ for behavior on the Vanguard. The city is not in the land development business. If you are proposing that the city should sell peripheral farmland to finance a sports park, maybe you should just come right out and say that. It might reframe the debate somewhat.

            Your financial credibility on this issue is hanging on your previous assertion that you would only support a sports park in the context of a fiscally responsible environment. My guess is you’ll support it no matter what, and then carp from the sidelines about what future councils do, as usual.

          2. Matt Williams

            Don Shor said: “The city is not in the land development business.”

            During the public comment last night Alan Hirsch made a very interesting suggestion to the Council that relates to Don’s comment above. Alan said (paraphrased somewhat), There is a parcel of land (approximately two blocks of Downtown) that has been put up for sale by its current owner. From a revenue generation perspective, it makes sense for the City to consider purchasing that parcel, which will result in taking the parcel off the property tax rolls. The reason that makes fiscal sense is that currently 15 cents of each property tax dollar comes to the city. The remainder goes to the State, the County and the School District. If the city purchased the property, it would retain 100 cents of each property tax dollar.

            The City could retain on a contractual basis the same property management resources that the current owner uses to manage the property, so no additional City employees would be needed in the scenario that Alan proposed.

            Alan was not the first person I have heard that idea from. It makes a lot of fiscal sense. It could make a lot of operational sense. Does it make sense vis-a-vis Don’s comment above?

            It is definitely an outside-the-box idea.

        4. Davis Progressive

          “Anyone that supported that decision has no right to ever to demand a sports park that we lack the funds to spend on it.”

          most people supporting the sports park will give you a blank look when you mention mace 391.  they weren’t paying attention.

        5. Mark West

          Don Shor:  “Actually, Mark, I have the right to discuss my tax bill any time I want, with anybody, without regard to your or Frankly’s ‘rules’ for behavior on the Vanguard.”

          I never mentioned you Don.  Feeling guilty?

          “If you are proposing that the city should sell peripheral farmland to finance a sports park, maybe you should just come right out and say that. It might reframe the debate somewhat.”

          Never suggested it, and frankly never considered it.

          Your financial credibility on this issue is hanging on your previous assertion that you would only support a sports park in the context of a fiscally responsible environment. My guess is you’ll support it no matter what, and then carp from the sidelines about what future councils do, as usual.

          I was responding to Frankly and never mentioned you Don.  I’m not surprised however that you have chosen to make this personal. I’ll play.

          The Mace 391 decision was fiscally stupid, and was described as such at the time. I suspect that you knew that to be true, but you really didn’t care because the only thing that was important to you at the time was to lock up that piece of land in perpetuity.  You advocated taking a City asset, conservatively estimated to be worth $100 million – an amount that incidentally would have gone a long way towards addressing our unmet needs – and giving it away.  In fact you argued that the City Council shouldn’t even discuss other options for the property or take the time for the finance and budget commission to weigh in.  We gave away the asset, actually lost money on the transactions, so effectively we paid someone else to take it, and all we got in return was what? Nothing.

          In short Don, you had no problem spending other peoples money to buy the ‘toy’ you wanted at the time, yet now you are having a little snit over your taxes going up because of someone has suggested spending money on a different ‘toy,’ in this case a park that may be used and enjoyed by generations of children to come.

          Who exactly has a credibility problem?

          I support investing in a sports park as one part of a comprehensive approach to addressing our fiscal crisis, and I have said so consistently. I believe if we collectively use a bit of imagination and manage to look beyond the ends of our noses, we will be able to find a path that will address all of our fiscal needs while also allowing us to invest in our future. Unfortunately that is unlikely to happen due to people such as you Don, who are unable to see beyond their own narrow self interests.

          1. Don Shor

            I never mentioned you Don….I was responding to Frankly and never mentioned you Don.

            Except that we were just discussing my property tax bill, weren’t we? Cute, but not credible, when you attempt to pretend things like this.
            The rest of your diatribe is your usual stuff. Anyone who wants to revisit the debate is welcome to do a search in the Vanguard archives. Mace 200 is more likely because Mace 391 is in an easement.
            If you want this sports park, Mark, I suggest you change your approach.

            I support investing in a sports park as one part of a comprehensive approach to addressing our fiscal crisis

            It’s an expense, not an investment. And spending money on something is not “addressing our fiscal crisis.” You talk elsewhere like a strict fiscal conservative, but you want an expensive sport park. That’s the problem.

  6. Anon

    First, we are in the black right now. The projections from the city, however, do not offer a lot of optimism here. First, the only reason we are in the black is that we passed a half cent sales tax. When that sales tax sunsets in 2021, we would immediately return to a structural deficit unless we pass a renewal.

    We are NOT IN THE BLACK RIGHT NOW!  When you figure in unmet needs like unfunded employee benefits, and the backlog of infrastructure repairs/maintenance still unaddressed, we are NOT IN A POSITIVE POSITION.  I think the confusion here comes in calling a budget “balanced”.  It may be “balanced” from an accounting point of view, but as a practical matter it is not truly balanced.  If you dump inconvenient truths such as road repairs into the “unmet need” category, it does not make for a truly “balanced” budget!

    Second, economic development will help but it is not a panacea. The revenue projection for the innovation park is about $2.1 million. We can improve that revenue with better cost savings. There may be ways in which the revenue projection was very modest. But remember that is the projection at build out, which is about 25 years away. Even if that number is $5 million, the revenue projections will help, but they will not solve our fiscal problems. Those who believe that economic development will help justify employee compensation increases are not looking at these numbers closely enough.”

    Remember, the Economic Impact Report on the Innovation Parks did not include the possibility of creating a tax assessment district, which could bring in quite a bit more income than the projected $2.1 million, which is a worst case scenario.  However, we also have to remember the projections of $2.1 million (or more with a tax assessment district) are at BUILDOUT in 20 years.  We have to fix roads and address other unfunded needs long before that.

    My preference would be to solve the biggest problem we have first, which is a lack of resources to do the basic functions of municipal government – that means providing city services and paving our roads.”

    Absolutely agree here – it should be “fix it first” before adding any new amenities such as a sports park.  Gov’t has a very bad habit of spending on frills, then claiming there is not enough money to address basic needs as an excuse to raise taxes.  If any new tax is proposed, it should be used to fix our roads/bike paths first and foremost.

    1. Davis Progressive

      We are NOT IN THE BLACK RIGHT NOW!  When you figure in unmet needs like unfunded employee benefits, and the backlog of infrastructure repairs/maintenance still unaddressed, we are NOT IN A POSITIVE POSITION.  I think the confusion here comes in calling a budget “balanced”.  It may be “balanced” from an accounting point of view, but as a practical matter it is not truly balanced.  If you dump inconvenient truths such as road repairs into the “unmet need” category, it does not make for a truly “balanced” budget!

      i think you guys are in agreement, you have just broken it down differently.  david separated the general fund from the infrastructure needs, but at the end of the day, we need to pay for both.

      1. Anon

        No, we are NOT IN AGREEMENT!  I think there is a fundamental messaging problem here – and it is critical to getting the accurate message out to the public what the real financial picture is. To say the city is IN THE BLACK is ridiculous, IMO, bc it is not taking into account all the unfunded liabilities.

        1. Davis Progressive

          it depends on how you define black.  and i think the vanguard’s point is that while we are technically in the black – that position is very fragile, we have huge liabilities, and therefore it would not take much to turn us red.  and help that we had been expecting from economy and the state may not arrive.

  7. Sam

    The city already can’t pay for its crumbling roads, has $120,000,000 in unfunded retirement benefits (using terrible assumptions in the calculation) and a budget that goes deep in the red in a few years. Why not build a sports park? At least we can be like Stockton build some nice things before we head to bankruptcy court.

    FYI-CalPERS is going to consider a recommendation to lower their investment targets. This will increase Davis’s required annual contribution to the pension plan putting the budget deeper into the red.

  8. Misanthrop

    Watching the council meeting last night there seemed to be an age divide with the usual senior empty nest suspects against a sports park complaining about the fiscal condition of the city or noise, traffic and lighting. On the other hand the middle aged parents who want places for their children to play want to study the possibilities.

    Sadly the lack of affordable housing for most young families means that this is going to be a difficult nut to crack since Davis will be full of these empty nesters for a long time. I simply hope that when the proponents grow older and become empty nesters they don’t forget how they were treated by the generation that preceded them and are kinder and more supportive of those who come after.

    1. Frankly

      This is breathtakenly wrong.

      It is really quite simple.  The city does not have enough discretionary funds to pay for a sports park.  Those two council members you applaud are exactly in the pocket of past politicians that put us in this unfortunate situation.  In fact, those two will work hard to give even more away to the unions and employee groups that help get them elected… and also because they are both also government employees caring for their own.

      Instead of road and infrastructure maintenance and more amenities for the community, we instead bought us a bunch of warm and fuzzy feelings giving millionaire retirement benefits to our city employees… at least 5% of which are working in non-essential roles.

      I am an empty nester and I absolutley support building a new sports park… but only after the city is fiscally solvent and has reserves to spend on a sports park.

      1. Misanthrop

        But do you want fiscal solvency through austerity or economic development? If Davis would simply get out of its own way we could both right the ship and provide the amenities. What is killing Davis is the people who want to hold the line on development and then complain about not being able to afford the infrastructure we need to make this a great place to live.

        Like those opposed to trackside who don’t want to go up then also oppose going out and then say we can’t afford what we have and certainly can’t add on more. Not everyone wants to live in the bed these people are making for the town. Not everyone wants Davis to limit its potential but mostly its these older people who seem to want to stand in the way of everything and you could see the divide on display last night on the sports complex issue.

        1. Matt Williams

          Misanthrop said: “you could see the divide on display last night on the sports complex issue.”

          Actually you couldn’t see that divide on display last night at all. Elaine Roberts Musser has been banging the drum for economic development for quite a while. She wants to see the numbers to be sure that the economic development is not negative or unsustainable. I have been very vocal about how fiscal responsibility requires additional revenue streams to pay for the level of amenities and quality of life we already have. Like Elaine (and many others) I want to see well supported numbers to be sure that the economic development is not negative or unsustainable. At least one other “empty nest senior” speaker has similar thoughts.

          Actually, I can’t remember a single public commenter last night who I would say fits your “stand in the way of everything” description. One of the possible reasons for that may be that the contemplated Sports Complex location is neither prime nor productive farmland. It is an abandoned City Land Fill, as Eileen Samitz pointed out in her comment.

          Misanthrop also said: “But do you want fiscal solvency through austerity or economic development?”

          First, it isn’t either/or. Many people would argue that you can have both austerity and economic development simultaneously. Second, I don’t think any of the commenters last night were arguing for fiscal austerity. Rather they were arguing for fiscal accountability and responsibility. I personally start with the fact that we have to pay our bills before we make any additional nice-to-have purchases. Based on information shared with the Finance and Budget Commission and the City Council, the amount of the current balance of our unpaid bills is somewhere between $100 million and $200 million. A very large portion of that is because we have spent our money inefficiently and ineffectively. Your word “austerity” means stop spending altogether. The words “accountability and responsibility” mean spend our money efficiently and effectively, not with austerity, but with prudence.

    2. Matt Williams

      Misanthrop, since I was one of the “senior” speakers last night (also one of the “fiscal responsibility” speakers) I can relate to the point that you raise. It is a solid observation … on that ties into a discussion that I had later in the evening, specifically that the middle aged parents cohort in Davis is (1) “transient” because the children grow out of the need for and interest in the sports facilities, and (2) “renewing” because of added births of children and new middle aged parents who move into the community. So, ignoring both the parents and children associated with the middle aged cohort is unwise and possibly even unrepresentative.

      With that said, you raise another very good point in your second paragraph when you say “Sadly the lack of affordable housing for most young families means that this is going to be a difficult nut to crack since Davis will be full of these empty nesters for a long time.” The results of the two most recent US Census reports tell us that Davis has much, much more than “a difficult nut to crack.” Specifically, according to those official Census numbers:

      — In 2000 Davis had 4,004 residents 65 and older (5.4% of the total) and in 2010 5,597 residents 65 and older (8.5% of the total)
      — In 2000 Davis had 3,252 residents between 55 and 64 years of age (6.6% of the total) and in 2010 5,878 residents between 55 and 64 (9.0% of the total)
      — In 2000 Davis had 13,698 residents between 20 and 24 years of age (22.7% of the total) and in 2010 17,200 residents between 20 and 24 (26.2% of the total), with the vast majority of those residents being UCD students.

      As you can see those three groups grew from 34.7% to 43.7 % of the Davis population. The rest of the story is that

      — In 2000 Davis had 23,170 middle aged residents between 25 and 54 years of age (38.4% of the total) and in 2010 21,630 middle aged residents between 25 and 54 (9.0% of the total)
      — In 2000 Davis had 16,184 children with ages between 0 and 19 years of age (26.8% of the total) and in 2010 15,317 children between 0 and 19 (23.3% of the total)

      As those population patterns clearly show, the middle aged adults and their children went down from 65.3% of the Davis population to 56.3% of the Davis population. In a time when the city as a whole grew by over 5,300 residents, the number of middle aged adults and their children actually declined by over 2,400. That means that the empty nesters and college age students increased by 7,700 in that same period.

      What does that mean? It is easy to argue that in terms of the sports facilities that means the absolute demand has declined by over 6% in that 10 year period, and the relative demand has declined by over 13%.

      Demand for sports facilities is not the only part of Davis that is impacted by the shrinkage of the numbers of middle aged parents and their children. The DJUSD is impacted. Almost all of the retail businesses in Davis are impacted because the 25-54 age cohort is the “retail engine” of economic activity. For the most part, services (especially restaurants) tap into all age groups, but retail businesses rely on people who need to buy things, and the 25-54 year olds and their children do that much, much better than the other groups do.

      Circling back to the point in my first paragraph, Davis is not “renewing” itself in a sustainable way.

      1. Anon

        Yet if we push for economic development like the innovation parks that generate substantial tax revenue, it will bring younger folks back into Davis, and might be able to pay for a new sports park.  But it will take 20 years to completely build out an innovation park.  In the meantime, we have existing roads, buildings and pools to maintain, and should not build new facilities we cannot afford to erect, operate and maintain.  Fix what we already have first and foremost.  I would say this if I were 18, 48, 68 or 88!

        1. Matt Williams

          Well said Anon.  That plan sounds almost holistic. To make an informed decision the community needs to continue the current process of assembling and sharing objective data.

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