Minicozzi’s Model Applied to Davis

Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis makes his remarks during a panel discussion on Tuesday evening
Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis makes his remarks during a panel discussion on Tuesday evening

Before a large crowd at the Veteran’s Memorial Theater, Joe Minicozzi came to Davis Tuesday to do two talks in a program called “Dollars and Sense.” One of his central points was to show how land use policies generally create inefficient uses of land. One of the starker models he demonstrated is that, downtown, mixed-use land produces far more revenue per acre than the types of economic uses many communities promote, in particular big box and malls.

The question is how does this model apply to Davis?


Joe Minicozzi showed the model of Davis, where most of the big and high density tax dollars are clustered in the downtown as expected. There are a couple of interesting “purple” spikes outside of the core area, mostly representing high-density housing.

Mr. Minicozzi acknowledged he did the analysis relatively quickly. The map was telling. One problem the city has is large swaths of gray which is untaxable land. Some of this is owned by the university.

Another interesting feature is that Target and the area along Second Street does not show up as a high value per acre. Some of that is due to the Walmart effect. Target, while it is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certified, is certified at the lowest level. But, more importantly, there is a lot of wasted space.

Later in the presentation, Mr. Minicozzi showed a model grocery store from back east, Publix, where the parking was actually on top of the store, so the footprint is compressed. Right now, Target may generate the city sales tax and property tax, but most of the parking lot, a huge expanse, is unutilized as a value generator.


Joe Minicozzi walked the community through places that generated poor value versus good value. The Oakshade Town Center sits at $1.5 million an acre, and In-N-Out Burger at $2 million, but the average single-family home on the other hand generates $2.5 million per acre. The Lexington apartment complex is double a single-story office building. The best utilization is the F St. mixed-use which has retail below and hotel above, and then the G St. mixed-use is off the chart at $19.4 million per acre.


He said, “People say once you have this data, what do you do with it?” He said, for one thing, you need more purples here.

Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis during the panel discussion stated, “I think we have an opportunity to see our city differently when we see pictures like this.” He said one of the take away messages he got from this is “[i]n our decision making processes, we use a variety of things… the way we have always done it, we tend to look at gross numbers, often we don’t look at rates or proportions at all. What the challenge to me here is, that by looking at data in a new way, we have an opportunity to step back from the biases and rules of thumb that heretofore maybe guide our decision-making and try to bring to the surface exactly what is driving our decisions.”

The mayor pro tem noted that we need to start modeling actual costs in a geographic sense. He noted that, as we push out to new areas, there are greater costs for the infrastructure. “I think looking at costs, not just of service provision but cost of the infrastructure that will have to be repaired and how we model it,” he said noting costs with fixing the roads. “But do we think about it in terms of the costs based on the location of that infrastructure?”

He said this is not a push for new tax differentials, “but I do think it’s worth examining what’s generated on the city versus the costs of moving in that direction.”

The mayor pro tem also noted “all of this non-taxable land in our city.” He called UC Davis “a wonderful asset.”   He said, “There is a cost when the university purchases or significantly leases properties” that can be removed from the tax rolls. He wants to analyze “the costs and benefits of sharing the space together.”

While there are many advantages to partnering with the university that Robb Davis cited, he said we also have to be mindful that there is the potential for losing that space as a revenue generator when the university does occupy it.

“Seeing data presented in this way… opens up all our minds to different ways to model other data,” he said. “We’re not just concerned about revenue value per acre. We’re also concerned about things like revenue per ton of greenhouse gases emitted by property.”

Bob Lindley, an architect in town since 1988, also spoke. “I’m completely blown away by what I’ve seen (in the presentation),” he said. He noted that next time he presents a project to council or the planning commission, he will reference some of the benefits to downtown development and other types of development that brings more density.

“We are not just talking about more density for Davis, but what is appropriate to increase the city of Davis in a way that can be attractive and a place that’s wonderful to live,” he added.

He noted that, while it’s difficult to refute hard numbers, as an architect he is tasked with satisfying goals for many people within the community. He said, as an architect, he is often not involved with critical questions: “is this a good thing to do, is this a good place to do it?”

For them it is opportunity driven, as “we are given a site and asked to make the most of it.” At the same time, architects have a commitment to ideals such as sustainable architecture.

“For mixed-use to work well, it really has to have the right location to begin with. We rely on good planning guidelines, we rely on zoning to inform where we will build a building and what size it will be,” he explained. “There’s a lot that can happen in Davis to make that process a little bit more flexible.”

Former Mayor Joe Krovoza
Former Mayor Joe Krovoza

Former Mayor Joe Krovoza stressed that he is neither in office nor running for office as he gave his remarks. He noted that the previous council brought in former City Manager Steve Pinkerton “because Steve knew how to run the numbers on projects and every single project that came up and Steve and I were sitting in his office thinking about the infrastructure costs and thinking about the revenue we would generate.”

He said he was delighted to hear Joe Minicozzi speak, but also noted that this type of thinking does go on in this city.

Mr. Krovoza shared what he called “the incredible constraints” that we all live with in Davis. He said, while there are lots of areas where we might see opportunities to redevelop, “in Davis we have a very conservative land owner population, downtown and otherwise. People have legacy properties that they’re making very nice revenue off of and the idea of tearing it down, building it denser and financing it and crossing their fingers that they’ll find tenants for it is pretty daunting.”

He referenced the 3rd and 4th and E and F parking garage, which had redevelopment money which was about to go away backing it. He said at the time he was interested in the project “if we [could] get the land owners on the Third street side or Fourth Street side to play so that we [could] build something that’s truly innovative – and you know what, we couldn’t do it.”

He said, “We had redevelopment money, we were going to give them parking and… they wouldn’t budge.”

Mr. Krovoza noted, as well, that cities and counties are actually competitors rather than partners for tax revenue. The state and county set that tax revenue take, “and the city gets what the city gets.” Some properties around the city get decent tax revenue, but most do not.

He said, “It is very hard for the city often to make the infrastructure (costs) pencil out when the county is getting such a nice percentage of revenue.”

Another factor, he said, is that there is regional competition, and many businesses want single-story buildings. “We can’t say to an industrial company we have this really cool land downtown and we just need you to go up five stories when there’s a community neighboring us that might say yes, you bet.”

The former mayor called the Cannery process “terribly disappointing.” It took the former city council six months to “agree to a pro forma to calculate the amount of profit that the Cannery developer was going to make.” As mayor he refused to negotiate a developer agreement until we knew some sense of what the profit would be on the project.

He argued that, at the time, there was probably $25 to $50 million that the city could have negotiated for that project. “You all know what I wanted – I wanted bike paths (and) grade separated bike crossing on the southeast and the southwest of that project,” he said. He added, “We couldn’t find the $3 or $4 million to have the grade separated bike crossing.”

“We have to have a council that will have people like you telling them to negotiate hard,” he said.

—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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88 thoughts on “Minicozzi’s Model Applied to Davis”

  1. Alan Miller

    One problem the city has is large swaths of gray which is untaxable land.

    Yeah, like Central Park in New York City.  All that untaxable land.  Shameful.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      Except that New York’s Central Park is surrounded by the most dense valued land per acre in the world. That isn’t a good comparison. And the big concern is the large number of parcels owned by non-taxable entities rather than open space.

    2. Frankly

      This brings up a point I have made many times.  The most coveted neighborhoods in high-density urban areas are those that are in close proximity to vibrant economic activity and parks.  If we want to do high-density, then we need to plan for more common open space in and around the residential developments.

      And then this tax revenue per acre valuation needs to take a more macro approach.  Because open-space parks are going to return zero dollars per acre… in fact, there are going to cost much more than they bring in.

      Compare that to less dense single-family residential where all the developed acreage brings in tax revenue and the property owners maintain their private open space.

      Do the lovers of high density really expect all taller buildings and no new park space?  I think not.  And by factoring more park space into the per acre valuation, I think it shoots some holes into Minnicozzi’s model.

      1. hpierce

        Let’s see… the City approved Central Park West, and Mission Residences in close proximity to OUR Central Park.  Both pretty high density, given the development footprints.  One is built, the other in the works.  Those would be two good data points to support or refute the speaker’s theory.  Davis-style.

        1. hpierce

          Oh, forgot Crepeville, with commercial downstairs and residential above.  3 data points.

          Oh and where the old Narcissa Pena house was… 4 units instead of one.  4 data points.

          Frankly, sounds like more ‘objectivity’ is needed to see how the speaker’s concepts might relate to Davis…

      2. CalAg

        Do the lovers of high density really expect all taller buildings and no new park space?  I think not.  And by factoring more park space into the per acre valuation, I think it shoots some holes into Minnicozzi’s model. @Frankly

        Great point. Along the same line of argument, most mixed use doesn’t provide adequate on-site parking – so another public subsidy that doesn’t get included in the tax/acre calculation.

        1. Matt Williams

          CalAg, parking was a question that was posed to Minicozzi in the 4:00 session. He scrolled through his slides and noted the ones that incorporated parking into their structures, and also referenced the cost of parking provision in his discussion of the costs of municipal services graphics that showed those costs below the horzontal line that was the separation point of the value histograms (above the horizontal line) and the costs histograms (below the horizontal line).

  2. Tia Will


    I had heard it rumored ( forgive me but I honestly don’t recall where) that Kemble Pope presumably representing the Trackside Development was also involved in organizing and/or supporting this presentation. Can you verify or rebut this statement ?

    1. Barack Palin

      Yes Tia, that’s one of the reasons I wanted to know who sponsored this.  From what I can gather the presentation seems to fit the Trackside model and anyone else who wants to build higher buildings in the downtown very well.  Was this just by coincidence?

      1. Mark West

        “Was this just by coincidence?”

        There was nothing in the presentation – at least as reported here – that would be considered earth shattering or new, unless of course you fail to understand that the denominator is every bit as important in an equation as is the numerator.  High density construction brings in more tax money per unit of area than does sprawl, multistory buildings bring in more tax money per unit of area than do single story ones, and high density apartments bring in more tax revenues than do single family homes on the same piece of land.  Wow, who’d a thunk it?

        It isn’t coincidence, it is simple math and common sense.  The Trackside project fits the model because the developers understand how to maximize the value of their land and see the benefit to the City of sound land use practices.

        1. Frankly

          I was thinking the exact same.

          From my perspective this is the environmental sustainability activitsts, Davis no-growthers, land preservation extremists and developers of tall building projects… all attempting to combat the innovation park argument of needed renenue increases.

          If tax revenue per acre is the primary pursuit, then we should absolutely develop more of the farmland around us.

        1. Davis Progressive

          she’s a sustainable communities advocate – smaller, more dense development.  there’s nothing nefarious about it per se, but that’s her shtik and has been for a very long time.

      2. Matt Williams

        BP, as I watched Mincozzi present his material he was very upfront about his biases. He very clearly stated that he is a designer by trade, and loves to both do design and honor the effort of designers that have gone before him. He was very clear in his statements about existing/historical buildings being the results of the efforts of those designers that have gone before him. He was also very clear about the “expected useful life” of comparative buildings. He showed in successive slides a 100-year old stone building and a new WalMart building and asked the audience which one they expected would be still standing 50 years from now. With his biases for leveraging the quality of construction of existing buildings, he then presented his data driven information about revenue/value.

        With the above said, what do you see as the relevance (or lack of relevance) of Mincozzi’s data-driven approach to any project in Davis?

        1. Davis Progressive

          “With the above said, what do you see as the relevance (or lack of relevance) of Mincozzi’s data-driven approach to any project in Davis?”

          i do think this is the key question that everyone’s suspicions are causing us to avoid.

          1. Matt Williams

            Agreed DP, and I think that is because Davis as a substantial history of putting political considerations ahead of evidence when making decisions. At the risk of repeating myself, we need more evidence-based decison making and less political calculation.

            It also does not help that we have a General Plan that is dysfunctional because its stated maximum allowable population for Davis is 64,000. As a result each proposal that changes a land use designation and would impact Davis’ population must be handled withing the constricted silo of a General Plan Amendment. Anon hit the nail on the head in another thread when he/she said:

            The problem here is that the city does not have an updated General Plan that accommodates the policy of densification. Instead, it has a politically charged and inequitably murky policy of “Densification via Zoning Variance” (DZV).

            DZV not only is an impediment to planning at a holistic level rather than a specific project level. It also contributes to the general level of citizen distrust, because DZV is an inwardly-focused (exclusive) application processing reality rather than an outwardly-focused (inclusive) planning reality.

            That problem with our General Plan needs to be fixed sooner rather than later, both for increased community trust and for better planning.

    2. Mark West

      I have no knowledge one way or the other. but if Kemble was involved in arranging for the speaker, would that in your mind affect the validity of the data presented?

      1. Tia Will

         if Kemble was involved in arranging for the speaker, would that in your mind affect the validity of the data presented?”

        No. However, it might provide a different perspective on Mr Pope’s thinking. Although Mr.Minicozzi’s presentation was money and data driven, he also stressed several times the concept that the citizens first have to decide what they want their city to look like in the future. Mr. Pope has a vision in which not only is the core densified, but the transitional areas are essentially redefined as core since he wants to extend densification beyond the core to transform the historical neighborhoods rather than transition from these neighborhoods into the core. It would seem that if Mr. Pope is sponsoring this speaker, perhaps he is willing to consider the impacts of his own position on the advice to consider what we want Davis to look like as a first step, not as an after thought secondary to short term economic gain of developers and investors.

    3. CalAg

      Tia: From the Daily Democrat …

      The unusually broad coalition sponsoring Minicozzi visit here is led by the Yolo County Board of Realtors, which obtained a key National Association of Realtor SMART GROWTH grant with the guidance of Judy Corbett, director emeritus of the Local Government Commission.

    4. aaahirsch8

      I was one of the subcommittee of the Monday-Indigo Group that help bring Joe Minicozzi to Davis.
      Success of this event had many parents, and many folks from different, often competing sectors of the community stepped forward to make it come together in a very short time.  This was by design. 

      This was Davis at its best starting a deep community discussion based on a common set of facts and framework
      Success of this event had many parents, and many folks from different, competing sectors of the community stepped forward to make it come together in a very short time.  We wanted EVERY sector of the community involved so the message did not seem as it was part of any particular agenda.  So, yes, Kemble Pope helped pave the way to engage the Downtown Davis Assoc and Chamber members in a meeting with Joe… well as the Sierra Club, Cool Davis, Monday group at Indigo (DARP–where the idea began-about 1/3 of who’s member of  OEDNA), and Realtors, and The City and Supervisor Don Saylor. And JUDY CORBETT.  (especially Judy..of village home/local government fame).


      A picture is worth a thousand words…

      Over 200 Davisites heard Joe’s message and saw his pictures on Tuesday….and learned about his method of taking a Financial MRI of the community by ge0-mapping it’s the tax base.

        As Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis said, it really helped visual learner gain a new understanding of our City.  A picture is worth a thousand words. 

      Clearly some change is need for Davis to become a more financially, and environmental sustainable community but today the discussion is fractured, which might lead to council and developer working in isolation to putting together plans that large sectors of the community will oppose due to lack of trust…which will go down in a Measure R vote next year.   

      Joe Minicozzi tools might help over come this.
      For sustainabilty, we need to build a community consensus…really a new general plan…that helps evolve in a way that benefits ALL Davisites.     

      My personal hope is these maps will help people, as Joe said, “put aside their prejudices and look a the data”. If we can make financial facts visible to the entire community, not just the insiders and CPA among us–and thus build more trust and move us toward a community consensus.

          1. Matt Williams

            This time you have lost me as opposed to losing DP. Isn’t Agenda 21 a Roswell acronym?

          2. Matt Williams

            Thanks Don. I stand corrected. If the Agenda 21 reference had come from DurantFan I’d have made the connection.

            TBD, I apologize for my confusion. Agenda 21 appears to be a UNO (United Nations Organization) rather than a UFO.

        1. KSmith

          There are tons of conspiracy theories going around re: Agenda 21, so it’s not dissonant that several people mentioned tinfoil hats and UFOs. See, for example:

          Basically, an element of the far right believes that this voluntary United Nations set of guidelines for land use is mandatory and involves people being displaced (probably into FEMA camps) so that the “elites” (Bilderbergs? Illuminati? Council of Foreign Relations? Someone…) can better control whatever is left over.

          Oh, and so the animals can reclaim their habitats and the human population reduced down to 500,000,000 because Georgia Guidestones. And this plan is hiding in plain sight in the art murals in Denver International Airport.


    1. TrueBlueDevil

      Agenda 21 is a controversial United Nations plan / agenda for what the UN calls “smart growth”. It was a product of the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, and has been subsequently updated. It is a 700-page document.

      According to Wikipedia: “In the United States, over 528 cities are members of ICLEI, an international sustainability organization that helps to implement the Agenda 21 and Local Agenda 21 concepts across the world.”

      Some Americans believe that Agenda 21 will deprive them of their property rights. Arizona and Alabama have fought Agenda 21. Towns like Danville CA are fighting the implications of Agenda 21’s “smart growth” which might mean low-income mid-rise or high-rise development in their small cozy downtown area.

      I picked this cite for Davis Progressive – Democrats Against Agenda 21.


      1. Davis Progressive

        way to side track an important discussion with something that has nothing to do with it.  the discussion focused on maximizing revenue through efficient use of the land.

        1. Matt Williams

          dp, I agree with you in principle, but also want to again point out that Minicozzi’s presentation and the evidence analysis behind it, did not solely focus on revenue/land value. It also covered municipal services cost. Land value is a much simpler data point to discuss than municipal costs with all their multiple facets. There is a “market” that establishes (and adjusts) land value. Land value is also the direct progenitor for property taxes. Minicozzi structured his presentation using KISS, but he did not ignore the other much less simple components of the whole picture.

  3. Misanthrop

    Found this to be of interest and foretells the future of Davis if we don’t change course. If we choose to go up not out the economics might pencil out for the developers, the city treasury and Hurpies (Hip upwardly mobile rural professionals) but for young families looking for a nest to raise kids in things will remain bleak with inadequate space for the kids to play.

    1. Frankly

      Isn’t it fascinating how we can ignore the simple explanation and falsely claim complexity?

      Want more affordable housing, build more housing.

      Want more sustainable tax revenue, open up more land for business development.

      Instead, we do the oposite and then wring our hands about how “complex” our problems are.

    2. Michelle Millet

      But for young families looking for a nest to raise kids in things will remain bleak with inadequate space for the kids to play.

      Bleak? Inadequate places for kids to play in Davis?  We have a very small yard that my kids never play in. They basketball in the front with all the other neighborhood kids. (shh don’t tell anyone, I know this activity is frowned upon). They play out on the big communal greenbelt with all the other neighborhood kids behind my house. Plenty of kids live in apartment complexes were they don’t have a private yards at all, luckily in Davis there is park on almost every corner. Where does this idea that kids need a private yard in order to have some place to play come from?

  4. CalAg

    Re: comments by Robb Davis

    Kudos to Davis for bringing up one of the big elephants in the room. When UCD occupies commercial space in Davis, the City gets no tax revenue and the taxpayers have to subsidize the municipal services costs. More insidious is the opportunity costs to the City when prospective high-value end users land in other jurisdictions because too much premium space is occupied by UCD. We need a complete inventory of all space occupied by entities that do not pay property taxes so that we can understand the scope of the problem and engage with UCD on the issue.

    Re: comments by Krovoza

    When is this guy going to crawl under a rock and go away? While he may not be running for elected office, he is certainly running hard to try to rehabilitate his reputation and create a mythology about his leadership. Pathetic. He was handed (1) an unprecedented 3 1/2 year term as mayor, (2) an expanding economy, plus (3) a Council-adopted economic development strategy in late 2010 – and he completely squandered the opportunity.

    Not only did he fail to advance Nishi or the innovation parks, he effectively hung a “Closed for Business” sign in front of City Hall.

    Worst. Mayor. Everrr.

    1. Frankly

      Joe makes very good points/comments here.  I absolutley disagree that he was the worst mayor ever.  Of course that opinion all depends on your agenda.

          1. Don Shor

            He carried Davis over Dan Wolk in the last election. You don’t like him. Any other generalization you make about Joe Krovoza such as “universally disliked” have no foundation.

        1. Davis Progressive

          that’s largely a meaningless statement.  it’s like sayin, he’s disliked by the voters except when he’s not.  in fact, we outpolled dan wolk in june, a few weeks before the end of his tenure.  and you can’t claim that people were just trying to get rid of him as he was gone regardless.

      1. hpierce

        Neither have you have been paying attention long enough… over the last 40 years, none of the ones cited are WME, but all were certainly in the lowest decile (OK, to be nice, lowest quartile, but ONLY to play nice).

  5. Anon

    Let me come at this discussion from a different angle.  From a purely numbers point of view/on paper, perhaps we can all agree that the more dense the project, the higher $ per square foot it generates in property taxes and sales tax revenue.  But if that were the only consideration, then all this country would have is ultra dense cities, right?

    But not everyone cares for dense living.  Not everyone wants to tear down existing structures to make way for ultra-dense projects.  As Alan Miller noted, parks may not generate sales tax revenue or property tax, but life would sure be awful without green space full of grass, trees, and in our case drought tolerant plants.  I would argue land-use planning has to take into account not only how much in the way of property taxes and sales tax is generated, but other values as well, e.g. green spaces, historical preservation, aesthetics, different lifestyles.

    The Cannery is a perfect example, which I am sure will be a lovely project when completed.  Some folks see the Cannery as the wave of the future – urbanized living.  Very dense, with a central clubhouse and park.  Almost no yards around houses.  To me, it reminds me of city tenement living – and I personally don’t care for it.  I used to live on a half-acre wooded lot – it was fantastic!  But that is a personal preference.  I find the close living in CA awful – where I can literally reach out my window with a ten foot (or shorter) pole, and touch my neighbor.

    However, the reality is densification is the wave of the future.  Gov’ts see it as a way to minimize infrastructure costs like roads, water/sewer pipes, transportation.  If cities/towns cluster residential housing and businesses close together, the cost of infrastructure in decreased significantly.  But I would argue from a personal perspective, it also reduces quality of life.  It is a matter of personal perspective.  It is no different than the idea that some people would like to live in downtown Davis to be near everything, while others would much prefer to live in the outskirts away from the downtown.  In other words, for some the preference is to visit the downtown, not live there.  It is whatever floats your own personal boat.

    Another issue, which Frankly brought up in another Vanguard thread, was the fact that the land Target sits on would have been vacant, but for Target.  (Same goes for Mori Seki, Schilling, etc. on the Second St corridor).  So was it better to allow Target there, even though not the most efficient use of the land, or leave the land vacant where it essentially earns no sales tax?  Clearly if would have been more efficient dollar wise to build a huge 30 story high-rise there where Target is, but what developer would be willing to do so and would the city have allowed it?

    Former Mayor Joe Krovoza also points out some tough realities with building in Davis that a developer has to grapple with, that include other considerations.  Bottom line – $ in sales tax generated and property tax are not the only metric a city or developer takes into account when a project is proposed/planned/executed. Should $ be a consideration? Of course! The only consideration? Of course not!

    1. Frankly

      Anon – This resonates with my thoughts completely.  I like my neighbors but I don’t want then any closer than the 10 ft currently separating us.

      And as I wrote above, if tax revenue per acre is the primary consideration, then we should be developing much more of the farmland around us.

    2. CalAg

      Anon: Resonates with me as well.

      But I would argue from a personal perspective, it also reduces quality of life. 

      Your points about QOL and personal preferences are very important. A lot of Millennials and GenXers that are starting families are looking for good schools, yards, parks, and low crime. If Davis doesn’t begin to effectively compete for these individuals, the dream of a robust technology-sector economy in Davis is DOA.


  6. TrueBlueDevil

    Agenda 21 / Minicozzi are probably pro Trackside, pro dense low-income housing, and pro public housing downtown, with a high “walkability” score and public transit.

    1. aaahirsch8

      Don’t read in too much to the data….I heard 2nd hand that Joe Minicozzi questioned Trackside’s scale…


      Growth wants to happen in Davis….and we need it financially.

      SO…..Where’s it gona go?  I vote for the existing parking lots downtown that generate NO tax revenue today and are a drag on our economy. Why not build one over the Train station parking lot?  All of Lake Short Drive in Down Town Chicago was built on piles over a Rail yard! 500 ft deep piles! (now no longer a rail yard…but I remember it growing up)

      Why not have School district sell off its  old 1 story building and parking lot next to downtown to make that valuable land taxable?   Or close down outdated Downtown Pool and Gym by city hall and sell it to a developer make that land Taxable again….and move the pool to Community Park (rehab the pool there with something modern)?

      There are problems with all these, I am sure, but if we are considering the radical move of expanding the City Boundaries by 200 acre far out of town (away for the University!) , why can’t we also consider radical stuff like this.

      We are told I-companies and employee, we are told want to be near housing, the university and community gathering places….so why should we not be consider putting an Innovation District in the heart of our city as a viable option?  The I park EIR did not consider infill as it arbitrarily set “200 acre” as the minimum amount? Why?

      We can zone 25 acre for shilling robotic manufacturing the edge of town if they want this, but lets put the knowledge workers and medium/smaller business near to the core of town and the University where they want to be.  Near the train station!  Their is even TOD money to subsidize this…might work the same as Redeveloment money to stimulate things.   City as not yet explored.

      The Mace Park I park is no closer to the University and Dixon. I don’t understand how the Mace I park has no advantages for companies over Dixon other than a Davis Zip code…..







      1. CalAg

         … the radical move of expanding the City Boundaries by 200 acre far out of town … @aaahirsch8

        I’m curious to understand why you see this as radical.

        (1) Annexing MRIC would be represent a minor 3.1% increase in the size of Davis.

        (2) The last annexation was Wildhorse in Oct-96 (419 acres). Annexing MRIC would equate to a 0.16% annualized increase in the size of Davis over the last 19 years.

        (3) The property is contiguous with the city and only 2.8 miles as the crow flies to UCD (it’s not far out of town).

        (4) At buildout in 20-40 years, it will represent a loss of just 0.078% of the prime farmland in Yolo County (or 0.0026% on an annualized basis assuming a 30 year buildout).

        (5) We’re already more than 3 times denser than Ashville, NC – the model of densification being evangelized by Minicozzi.

        From my perspective (based in part on the hard data listed above), annexation of a de minimis 200 acres into Davis this seems glacial – not radical.

  7. Dave Hart

    The “Value per Acre” graphic is stunning.  I would like to see similar graphics for parameters like “Indebtedness per Acre”, “Water Use per Acre”, “Bicycles per Acre”, “Cars per Acre”, “Solar Panels per Acre”, “Lawn Area per Acre” and on and on.  Pictures are indeed worth a thousand words.

    One thing in that graphic that jumped out at me was the non-taxable status of the PG&E corporation yard.  Why is that?  I know for a fact that PG&E is in business to make money and that the value of their corporation yard must be significant.  Imagine the amount of purple that should or could be there if it were taxed or developed appropriately.

    1. Frankly

      How about “positive contribution to the human condition value per acre”.  Liberals tend to discount and ignore a lot of human condition  vaue while fixated on their pet ideological pursuits.  They smuggly cling to their feelings of environmental and social superiority while relying on so many things they would be without should we adopt the extreme measures they demand.

    2. Anon

      Dave Hart: “The “Value per Acre” graphic is stunning.  I would like to see similar graphics for parameters like “Indebtedness per Acre”, “Water Use per Acre”, “Bicycles per Acre”, “Cars per Acre”, “Solar Panels per Acre”, “Lawn Area per Acre” and on and on.  Pictures are indeed worth a thousand words.

      Hey, how about similar graphics for “Produces most Oxygen per Acre”?  LOL

      1. Alan Miller

        Hey, how about similar graphics for “Produces most Oxygen per Acre”?  LOL

        Hey, how about similar graphics for contributors to the Vanguard comments section for “Produces the Most Hot Air per Article”?   LOL-squared

    3. Matt Williams

      Dave, in his presentation Minicozzi also displayed graphics that went beyond the value/revenue information in the graphic below that represented by the vertical histogram bars above the horizontal access (ground level). Those below the horizontal axis “balancing” vertical histogram bars showed the costs of services and impact on quality of life. He did not delve deeply into the details of the below the horizontal access “costs” to the community, but he did point out that in addition to the normal budgetary dollars for the cost of services, his group had incorporated other measurements such as “percentage of homes that had no automobile” to better understand the impacts on both a city’s infrastructure and the quality of life for its citizens.

      As I looked at the very tall histogram spike to the east of 113 and to the north of University Mall, it quickly became apparent to me that that the components of that spike were the multi-story, highly student focused apartments on Wake Forest and Guava. Minicozzi’s mentioning that they have data about numbers of households with no automobile, I quickly hypothesized that the percentage of cars underneath that particular land value spike would be very low, and as a result the contribution of that particular land value spike to the deteriorization of Davis’ streets would also be very low.

      Given our past discussions about Nishi and possible market based strategies for decreasing the amount of land area devoted to automobile parking spaces by voluntary reduction of automobile numbers by the residents, Minicozzi’s awareness of “below the line” impacts resonated with me both as a citizen and as a member of the Finance and Budget Commission.

      1. Dave Hart

        Matt, are you saying there is a “Net Value per Acre”  chart?  I would like to see that one.  I would not be surprised to see my home parcel as a net negative even with my brown lawn and solar panels.

      2. CalAg

        As I looked at the very tall histogram spike to the east of 113 and to the north of University Mall … @ Matt Williams

        I was also curious about that spike. The problem is that this is not the only hyper-dense student cluster in town. Kind of looks like an anomaly. The purple spike in South Davis also doesn’t make any sense.

        We need to see the underlying data.

        It’s a public record now that Saylor released it to Minicozzi.

        1. aaahirsch8

          The public Tax data is available on can look it up now. YOU can look up the parcel’s tax…and your neighbor taxes also! First find the map, get the parcnel number then search the tax rolls.  And also get the parcel size to get the “Tax Potency” as Joe calls it.

          To obtain the entire county file costs $500….But with the help of County Sup Don Saylor we got it free..but we had to sign a non-disclosure that it would be only used for the Minicozzi presentation and analysis.



        2. Matt Williams

          Minicozzi stated in his 4:00 presentation that the tall histogram behind University Mall might be a data anomaly, but when you think about it, the University has just done extensive renovations upgrading the vacant Castilian North and Castilian South student housing, transforming it into the 4 stories tall 8th and Wake which is 275 units of 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom suites. New construction all 4 stories tall. It may be a data anomaly, or it may simply be that since the University doesn’t have to pay property taxes on the assessed valuation there were no factors keeping the valuation low.

        3. CalAg

          “It may be a data anomaly, or it may simply be that since the University doesn’t have to pay property taxes on the assessed valuation there were no factors keeping the valuation low.” @Matt Williams

          If it’s University property then it should be gray. The spike is probably an anomoly. In fact, I would take the whole graphic with a grain of salt until the results can be validated. It has the feel of a quick and dirty first pass.

          1. Matt Williams

            CalAg, Minicozzi was very up front about the first-pass nature of his work with the Davis data. The scope of the engagement as defined by the sponsors did not include anything other than a first pass. His own words in the 4:00 presentation were that “that spike could be a data anomaly.” My sense of his presentation was that he was not trying to provide answers, but rather he was trying to illuminate some of the important questions we should be asking ourselves as a community.

            Tia Will’s October 2, 2015 at 6:24 am comment at the bottom of the Comments section of this article poses some additional questions. What Minicozzi and Tia are both asking are components of the larger question “What do we want Davis to be 25 years from now?”

      3. C.Forkas

        Wouldn’t  our tax value “spikes” be very skewed by Prop 13? The newer properties would have much higher revenues at the same height making the visual less useful.

        1. Matt Williams

          Yes they would . . . and Minicozzi acknowledged Prop 13 as an externality that needs to be incorporated into any more in depth analysis.  He showed the 4:00 presentation a graphic of all the states in the US that have followed California’s lead and adopted their own form of Prop 13.  Visually, it looked like that number was between 15 and 20 states.

          Minicozzi was very up front about the first-pass nature of his work with the Davis data.  The scope of the engagement as defined by the sponsors did not include anything other than a first pass.

  8. Michelle Millet

    I think it was the toads that were behind this evil plan to bring a speaker to Davis. I heard they want a 2nd story at their house at Toad Hollow and they are trying to get the city to pay for it by making the argument that it will increase the tax base of the land by the post office.

    1. Alan Miller

      Are you an investor in the Toad Hollow project as well as Trackside, Michelle?  Perhaps you should run for Toad Council.  But then if you did both you’d have to recuse yourself from making toad-related decisions.

      Decisions, decisions . .  .

      1. Michelle Millet

        Wouldn’t by definition all the projects in Toad Hollow be toad related? How does that council get anything done? This is some evil plot. I blame Robb Davis, I’m not sure why, there is no real reason too, but that doesn’t seem to matter on the Vanguard.

      1. Tia Will


        It seems like it should be at least one consideration – do you disagree?”

        I agree. As soon as the preliminary envisioning has been agreed upon. The elephant in the room is that we cannot even agree on what is core and what is transitional.  At the talk, an acquaintance and I were discussing the Trackside proposal specifically. He is for it, I am against in its current form. His comment was that anything within a half mile of the downtown should be considered core. Using that standard one would have to argue that my home, specifically purchased because it was 50 year old bungalow in a mixed neighborhood and certainly overdue for renovation at the time I purchased it should also be bulldozed so that some group of investors could put up their multistoried building. After all, I am living within 1/2 mile of downtown.

        My point is not who is right and who is wrong. My point is that there is no agreement. We do not agree on the basic definitions. We do not agree on underlying values ( preservation vs renovation ). We have no explicit agreement on exactly how many people we are planning to accommodate over what amount of time. We have no agreement over exactly what our financial and societal goals are in 5, 10, 20, 50 years. We use words like sustainability, with no agreement over what that term actually means. I agree that  growth is one necessary goal for which to plan.  But it is only one consideration. I have a huge problem with our current approach of addressing one project at a time with no current agreement  by the majority of our community through a collaborative process for how we want our city to evolve.


        1. Matt Williams

          Tia, yesterday afternoon at the Chamber’s Government Relations Committee meeting Doby Fleeman was making the same point as you make . . . that Davis has no Vision of what it wants to be in 2040 or 2050.  Doby has argued long and hard for the Davis community to commit to a Visioning process that would actively address the questions you pose in your second paragraph.  To date there has not been enough interest in knowing the answers to those questions from a broad enough proportion of the Davis populace to translate idea into the action needed to prepare for such an event.

    1. Matt Williams

      BP, I would expect that to be one of the multi-faceted criteria, but one of many.  For example, September 8th economic study presented to the Finance and Budget Commission by EPS (Economic and Planning Systems, Inc.) (click on this LINK for their presentation slides) showed between a $2.8 Billion and $3.0 Billion annual contribution to the economy within the City Limits and another $200 million annual contribution to the Yolo County economy outside the City Limits (those numbers are shown in Table 1 of Exhibit 1 on page 60 of the 199 page document.  They also estimate that of that $2.8 to $3.0 Billion, $2.2 Million will go to the City coffers.  That means less than one tenth of one penny of each of those $3.0 Billion will go to the City.  So, which is more important to you, Barack Palin, the $2.2 Million per year added to the City’s coffers or the $3.0 Billion per year added to the local Davis economy?

    2. Tia Will


      So are we going to base future development on how much goes to the city coffers?”

      I think that this a more important question to ask than the question that I did ask about the sponsorship of the event. The name of the presentation included the words “dollars and sense” so from this, it was clear to me that the emphasis of the talk was going to be about the economics of development. I found Mr. Minicozzi’s view to be one of interest and I am glad that I attended the talk. The reason that I keep alluding to one phrase that he used several times, that of needing to first determine what we want our city to look like and then decide how we want land use to support that decision, is being down played in the discussion.

      As other posters have noted, we have an outdated general plan and are proceeding in a disjointed fashion at this point in time, neither honoring the existing plan, nor deliberately designing a new one. Is it any wonder that you have name calling and questioning of motivations, building of financial alliances among locals who are acting in their own perceived best interests while claiming each side claims that they are acting for the good of the community. I would like us to begin with Mr. Minicozzi’s first precept. Envision what we want our community to look like in the future and then make the planning decisions that support that visions.

      Now I realize that there is a contingency of developers and investors who believe that they have the correct vision and that if the rest of us would just get out of the way, they could implement their transformation of our city in the image that they desire ( and from which they will profit). The problem is that they have not worked collaboratively to get their vision either accepted as proposed or perhaps modified so as to transition ( as in the case of the Trackside proposal) from the core to the surrounding neighborhood.


  9. Anon

    Tia Will: “I have a huge problem with our current approach of addressing one project at a time with no current agreement  by the majority of our community through a collaborative process for how we want our city to evolve.

    You, me and Councilmember Brett Lee all have the same concern.  We definitely need an update to our city’s General Plan.

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