Game On: Will Arnold Throws His Hat into the Council Race

Will Arnold with wife Nichole
Will Arnold with wife Nichole

Suddenly the Davis City Council race has gotten a lot more interesting with a fourth candidate – a formidable one in the form of lifelong Davis resident Will Arnold – entering the race and joining incumbents Lucas Frerichs and Brett Lee, and challenger Matt Williams.

Mr. Arnold was born and raised in Davis, and is the son of late realtor Doug Arnold. His older sister, Cary Arnold, is a former President of the Davis Chamber. And Mr. Arnold has been a key fixture in electoral politics, successfully running the city council campaigns of Rochelle Swanson (2010) and Dan Wolk (2012), as well as the 2013 Water Project campaign. He was campaign manager of Dan Wolk’s 2014 Assembly campaign that finished third, just missing the cutoff for a runoff.

Will Arnold sat down with the Vanguard last week to chat about his candidacy. “I have been involved in community service as well as involved in our community’s decision making processes for a long time,” he said. Mr. Arnold noted he was born in Woodland Memorial and grew up in Davis. “I’m in this for the long haul. Davis is my home and it’s going to be my home forever.”

He pointed to his work, not only in electoral politics but with school charities, stating, “My commitment to serving our community is something that I hold very deeply and I see this as just another critically important opportunity to serve the community.”

Will Arnold is not just a candidate who was born and raised in Davis, he also has a commitment to the future with an 18-month-old daughter, and a son who was born a few months ago. He noted that they are slated to graduate from Davis High School in 2032 and 2034, respectively, “so that’s my minimum time horizon through which I view issues that would come before city council should I be fortunate enough to be elected.”

He said he is asking folks, “What’s your vision for Davis, twenty plus years from now?”

During the recession, he said, the community has had to do “triage” and make decisions “in order to save our city,” but he says “it’s critical that we really prioritize the long term in our decision making.”

So what does Davis look like in 2032, according to Will Arnold? He noted that he wouldn’t be living here if he didn’t “love” the community. So he said, “The most important thing is maintaining what we have.” He said that we “struggled to do (this) when the economy went so far south.” So, “if nothing else, we really have to focus on maintaining what we have. That’s infrastructure. That’s the character of the town. That’s the opportunities that our citizens have.”

Mr. Arnold said, “We’re on the uptick but I don’t think I have to tell you we still have some very harsh challenges that face us both financially but (for) all walks of life in town.” For him we have opportunities based on our location in the region, along the I-80 corridor, and adjacent to a world class university, “to foster some of the benefits that come out of that to ensure that (they) are felt by our citizens.”

Davis twenty years from now, he stated, “I’d like to think is not worried about how we’re going to pave our streets and doesn’t have a shuttered community pool… and things like that.”

Vanguard photo from 2010 Election Night, Will Arnold is checking the latest returns and Rochelle Swanson sees she will be elected to the Davis City Council
Vanguard photo from 2010 Election Night, Will Arnold is checking the latest returns and Rochelle Swanson sees she will be elected to the Davis City Council

Will Arnold pointed out that he feels “I really do have an open mind about these issues,” in his choice to focus more on the broader vision than perhaps the nitty gritty of the specifics of issues. He said, “I think it will be hard to pin me down as the X, Y, or Z candidate.” He noted that he loves and supports things like the schools, parks, bikes, and other things, but he said that “I’m not the schools candidate” or “the parks candidate” or “the bikes candidate.”

But the Vanguard did get into specifics on some of the key issues with Will Arnold.

On the city’s financial challenge, Will Arnold noted, “A city flush with money is said to have the roads paved with gold, I’d be happy if they were paved with pavement.” For him, we start with “diversifying our revenue portfolio.”

He argued right now, especially if you consider UC Davis part of the state, “We’re really a company town.” Those who live in Davis, “a great great number somehow, work for the state either through the university or the state of California.” He said putting “our eggs in one basket” was a source of difficulty when the great recession hit.

The citizens of the community, he said, have been “very very generous when it comes to supporting taxes” and have rarely if ever turned down a tax. “I think it’s an open question as to when that generosity ends – if it ever does – are we going to reach a tipping point at some point?” He is concerned that at some point people are going to say “that’s too much and we can’t afford it, and Davis is already hard to afford.”

However, “in the short term that’s a well we’re going to have dip back into, especially to address our immediate infrastructure needs.” He added, “there certainly aren’t any easy answers. There’s no pot of gold that we’re just overlooking.”

In addition to the council election in June, the city council is potentially looking at a revenue measure and possibly two Measure R votes by the end of this year.

Will Arnold said he is looking at Nishi and Mace with “an open mind.” In fact, he said, “I would even go a step further and say I see these with a little bit of excitement.” He said that he sees the potential for revenue diversification and argues “these are probably good places for these.” But, “the devil’s in the details.”

He said he likes Nishi due to “the idea of increasing our revenue or at the very least diversifying our revenue portfolio.” However, he noted that those revenue projections “swing wildly from one end to the other. That’s concerning.” He said the extremes on the projection side are so wide that it “gives me a little bit of pause.” He argued that “we need to nail down this revenue piece for Nishi, we can’t put the cart before the horse.”

Will Arnold noted that with Mace, which is not as far along, “With all things being equal, I’m excited about that project. I’m thinking it could be a very neat thing to have in town.”

He says he understands “why folks are talking about housing at Mace.” Similar projects, he noted, “do have housing.” However, Mr. Arnold said that “the main argument for having housing at the Mace Ranch Innovation Center is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” He said, “It’s my opinion that putting housing as part of the Mace Ranch project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it will reduce them to zero because there will be no project.”

He acknowledged that that is a political read on things, however, he argued “if you are a proponent of the project, you can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good here.”

On the revenue measures, he said, “We need it.” He argued that “we have critical infrastructure needs in our community, the community recognizes that.” He said, “I would find it very hard not to support a revenue measure – we just have to do it.” He was more ambiguous as to the form of that measure.

Roads are first and foremost for him. He said, “I like the parks, I’m on the parks commission.” But he said, “I don’t think it’s wise for us to mix the must-haves with the nice-to-haves.”

Will Arnold stated, “I would want any revenue measure that we decide to embark on to be used for our critical infrastructure needs.”

Will Arnold next addressed employee compensation issues. He argued that reduction by attrition “is not a good long-term strategy because it’s haphazard, there’s no over-arching philosophy being employed that we have the right mix of staffing levels. There hasn’t been long-term planning as part of that.”

At some point, he said, “we need to take a real look at what are the staffing levels that we need at these various departments.” He said that hasn’t happened yet and it would be a priority.

In a perfect world, “our teachers, firefighters, cops, nurses would be the millionaires and billionaires and CEOs, athletes and entertainers would have to come to the bargaining table every couple of years,” he said. “That’s not the world we live in. You’re never going to hear me denigrate their service… But the financial realities are what they are. We owe our community to have a handle on these costs. They are only going up and so tough choices have to be made.”

He was asked if our current compensation system, long term, was sustainable. He responded, “From a bottom line perspective it appears not to be.” He said, “We can do these financial projections and see at some point in the not so distant future, if everything stays the same, we won’t be able to afford this for very long.”

“If the math says no, then the answer’s no,” he said. “If we can’t afford to pay these folks, and we’re running out of money because of the way they’re structured, what’s the alternative?” He added, “Raising taxes just to maintain current service levels from staff – that’s going to be a tough sell to the community, I think.”

He said he’s looking for the middle ground that gives us the level of service this community deserves with the level of sustainability this community can afford. “I don’t think we’ve hit that sweet spot yet,” he said.

The Vanguard asked Will Arnold if he is a supporter of growing up, out, or not at all. He said, “I’m less interested in out than I am in up.” He sees growing out as having “a lot of environmental negative impacts both in travel miles, but we’re paving paradise if we’re doing that, we really are.”

Mr. Arnold said “I’m more inclined in densification, infill, making our core area more live-work in the core. I’m, generally speaking, [I] would be more excited about that as a project.”

He also acknowledged the concerns of neighbors in that process, saying that “we have to be cognizant of those issues and how much is too much at any given time and where are places that make sense versus places that don’t make sense.” He added, “I think there are places that do make sense to go up a little bit more. If we went up just a little more downtown that would alleviate a lot of our growth pressures that come.”

He said that these tensions are not unique to Davis, and at the same time acknowledged that impacts on people’s property and personal quality of life “are really legitimate concerns.”

On the other hand, he said, “The not all thing – no, not, never – it’s not my style to be close-minded like that. But in certain spots, no, we shouldn’t be building there.” In short, he’s not zero growth, but prefers infill to peripheral growth.

The filing period begins in mid-February right after Valentine’s Day. With the presumed absence of incumbent Dan Wolk who is running for Assembly, the period will extend into mid-March. In addition to Will Arnold, at this point Lucas Frerichs, Brett Lee and Matt Williams have announced as candidates.

—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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66 thoughts on “Game On: Will Arnold Throws His Hat into the Council Race”

  1. Barack Palin

    My first thoughts are he’s part of the Wolk machine and I can’t possibly vote for him.

    Then I read this and think maybe I could:

    He said, “It’s my opinion that putting housing as part of the Mace Ranch project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it will reduce them to zero because there will be no project.”
    He acknowledged that that is a political read on things, however, he argued “if you are a proponent of the project, you can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good here.”

    I also like his growth policy of infill over peripheral and his employee compensation answers.
    But alas, we often get promised many things during a campaign just to get slammed later.  Then you have the people that make excuses for the candidates who will say everyone makes promises they won’t keep in order to get elected.

    1. Adam Smith

      Exactly B.P.    We see candidates in primaries staking out certain positions, then walking those positions back in the general election.  Once they get in office,  all bets are off.   In my view,  the best way of determining how they will vote/act in the future is to look at previous actions and circle of friends/supporters.     Given my viewpoint, it will be difficult for Mr. Arnold to escape the “Wolk Machine” tag.

      1. Barack Palin

        I agree Adam Smith.

        We already have a mayor named Wolk, a city manager who worked for Wolk and now a candidate who is currently working for Wolk.

        I would hope before any election that candidates can be tied down to an actual position and not be allowed to be wishy washy in their campaign promises.

        For instance, I feel the issue of whether a candidate wants housing at MRIC is indeed something that needs to be expressed without any hedging.

        How about it Matt?

        1. Matt Williams

          BP, my extended answer to your question is posted below.

          With that said BP, here’s a question back to you.  Which is more important to you (a) no housing at MRIC, or (b) dealing with the clear demographic trend evidence that the number of 25-54 year-old residents in Davis shrank by 1,500 between 2000 and 2010 and the number of 0-19 year-old residents in Davis shrank by 900 in the same time period?

          For me, issue (b) is one of the two most important issues that Davis faces.  The demographic trend in issue (b) strikes right at the heart of the economic stability and sustainability of our community.

          The other key issue is being honest, clear, transparent, efficient and effective about the way we handle the City’s money.  That starts with an unwaivering commitment to paying our bills.

    2. Davis Progressive

      he seems a lot closer to rochelle than dan wolk on this stuff:

      “Raising taxes just to maintain current service levels from staff – that’s going to be a tough sell to the community, I think.”

      He said, “I like the parks, I’m on the parks commission.” But he said, “I don’t think it’s wise for us to mix the must-haves with the nice-to-haves.”

      in fact the latter sounds like brett lee.

      it’s hard to find something here i disagree with.

  2. Tia Will


    Then you have the people that make excuses for the candidates who will say everyone makes promises they won’t keep in order to get elected.”

    And then you have the people who have been around long enough to realize that the candidates are not making promises. What they are expressing is their point of view and preferences. In reading your quote from Mr. Arnold, I see no promise being made but rather an expression of his understanding of the situation that exists now as he understands it. That might or might not translate into a vote that you are happy with in the future.

        1. Matt Williams

          BP said . . . “Because you’re either for housing at MRIC or against housing as the project was first presented to the public.  It is a simple yes or no.”

          At this stage of the process I do not believe there is enough detail to support either a “yes” or “no” evidence-based decision about either MRIC in its entirety or a specific scenario of MRIC that contains a housing component.

          You have made a political calculation when you included the words “as the project was first presented to the public” in your question, and unless I miss my bet, you want any answer given to your question to be a subjective political calculation rather than an objective view of the evidence.

          The core principle of my platform . . . More Evidence-Based Decisions and Fewer Calculations . . . rejects your statement that it is a simple yes or no.

          With the above said, here is the evidence that does not exist at this stage of the process that I believe will be paramount in making an evidence-based decision about any housing at MRIC.

          (1) Is the housing being designed and entitled to be live/work housing matched to jobs creation events on the MRIC site?

          (2) Will the housing be distributed throughout the MRIC site or centralized in a “residential neighborhood” within MRIC?

          (3) Will the housing be designed and built so that it has a small physical footprint (will it be built “up”) or a large physical footprint (will it be built “out”)?

          (4) Will the proportion of Detached Single Family residences be low or high when compared to Attached Single Family residences?

          (5) How high will the ratio of Multi-Family residences be when compared to Single Family residences?  2:1? 5:1? 10:1? 20:1?

          (6) Following the pattern that currently exists in Davis for our innovation companies HM Clause, Schilling Robotics and DMG Mori (who collectively rent a large number of residences for their employees), will a substantial proportion of the rental units on MRIC be rented by the companies that choose to locate at MRIC for their employees?

          (7) How does the existence of housing contribute to the fiscal stability and fiscal sustainability of the City of Davis governmental entity?

          (8) How does the existence of housing contribute to the economic stability and economic sustainability of the overall Davis community?

          (9) How does the existence of housing contribute to the energy stability and energy sustainability of the overall Davis community?

          When I have answers to those questions I will be in a much, much better position to make an evidence-based decision about housing at MRIC.

        2. Matt Williams

          With the above said, I would like to share a timeline of objective evidence that relates to your subjective political calculation that is at the core of your words “as the project was first presented to the public.”

          I believe the City-sponsored dialogue about building/expanding the Innovation economy in Davis started with the creation of the Innovation Park Task Force (IPTF) in October 2010.  The IPTF completed its duties at the end of 2014, and was subsequently disbanded by the City Council. The IPTF Tasks included:

          Conducting business outreach and public discussion regarding community benefits and impacts of a peripheral business park;
          Evaluate peripheral opportunity sites, focusing on, Mace Ranch/I-80 and the Northwest quadrant as initial site options;
          Identify attributes of world-class next-generation university-related business park and how they would apply to a future business park in Davis;
          Return to City Council with summary of findings and recommendation on future peripheral business park.

          Housing was one of the many “attributes” that were identified and discussed, and anyone who takes the time to read the 39 pages of the December 11, 2010 Studio 30 presentation to Council (see this LINK), or the 81 pages of the November 13, 2012 Studio 30 presentation to Council (see this LINK) or in the will find that there are no uses of the word housing or even references to the concept of housing.  Although, it has been a while since I read all the individual assembled IPTF documents at the City’s IPTF webpage (see this LINK), I suspect that you will not find any discussion of housing in any of those documents.

          Housing entered the discussion when the City issued the RFEI on May 21, 2014, when City Staff included Guiding Attribute #12 (of 12) “Acknowledgement of communities current desire for no residential to be included” in the RFEI document.

          All the RFEI responses “acknowledged” Guiding Attribute #12 by submitting their responses without any housing component.  Because of the City direction, housing was off the table.

          When did housing come back on the table?

          The simple answer to that question is “On December 16, 2014, when Mike Webb, Sarah Worley and Heidi Tschudin gave Council an Innovation Center Update.” (see this LINK ) which reads as follows:

          CEQA Requirements for Alternative Analysis

          The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires analysis of a range of reasonable alternatives to the project, or the location of the project, which would feasibly attain most of the projects basic objectives and avoid or substantially lessen the significant effects of the project. The range of alternatives is governed by the “rule of reason” which requires the EIR to set forth only those alternatives necessary to permit a reasoned choice (CEQA Guidelines Section 15126.6). The feasibility of an alternative may be determined based on a variety of factors, including but not limited to economic viability, availability of infrastructure, and plans or regulatory limitations (CEQA Guidelines 15126.6(f)(1)).

          At this early stage in the process the staff believes that the following range of alternatives satisfies these criteria and is appropriate and necessary for meeting the requirements of CEQA and ensuring legal defensibility. These alternatives will evolve based on information that will be generated from the technical studies. They will be further defined as more information is known about the likely impact of the projects.

          1. No Project Alternative – This alternative assumes that existing conditions/uses continue on the project sites. This alternative is required under State law. This alternative would be analyzed at a “comparative” level but there would be considerable detail available through the setting sections of the EIR.

          2. Off-site Alternative – This alternative would assume development of the proposed project at an alternative site. The rationale for an off-site alternative generally is that it may avoid or substantially lessen the significant effects of the project. For the MRIC project the Off-Site Alternative would assume development only at the Davis Innovation Center site. For the Davis Innovation Center project the Off-Site Alternative would assume development only at the MRIC site. Because a full-scope EIR is being prepared for each project this means that the offsite alternatives analysis will be analyzed at a very detailed level referred to under CEQA as “equal weight” analysis.

          3. Reduced Site Size – This alternative assumes the full intensity of development on a smaller site. The rational for this alternative generally is to test whether a more compact urban form would avoid or substantially lessen the significant effects of the project. For the MRIC this would assume development of up to 2,654,000 sf on the 102 acre Ramos parcel closest to Mace Boulevard and I-80. For the Davis Innovation Center this would assume development of up to 4,000,000 sf on the 75-acre parcel immediately west of the Sutter Hospital property. This alternative would be analyzed at a comparative level but with additional detail provided where possible.

          4. Reduced Project – This alternative assumes 35 to 50 acres for short-term expansion of only one or two Davis businesses. It is assumes that this would include the Schilling Robotics expansion. The rational for this alternative is to examine the comparative level of impact associated with a small project that meets only short-term economic expansion needs. For the MRIC this would assume development of the western one half of the Ramos parcel described in Alternative 3 totaling ±50 acres and assumes a maximum of 500,000 sf of research and development uses. For the Davis Innovation Center this would assume the southern one half of the 75-acre parcel described in Alternative 3 totaling ±35 acres and assumes a maximum 500,000 sf of research and development uses. This alternative would be analyzed at a comparative level but with additional detail provided where possible.

          5. Mixed Use Alternative – This alternative assumes the introduction of a balance of high- density residential uses in both projects. The type of housing anticipated would be high density (over 30 du/ac), attached, multi-story live/work units designed specifically to house and support workers within the Innovation Center. It would include a mix of ownership and lease/rental units. Designs would incorporate green technology, high efficiency, compact form, with the latest technology and lifestyle features, and emphasis on low to no-vehicle use.

          Housing was not recommended for inclusion in project(s) during the RFEI process, nor are the applicants proposing housing as part of their proposals. However, CEQA requires that the lead agency test alternatives that could reasonably reduce significant impacts of the project. Staff anticipates that the project EIRs may identify significant impacts related to vehicle miles traveled, and air quality and greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, staff has concluded that a mixed use alternative will likely be necessary to satisfy CEQA requirements. There is a growing field of study that demonstrates that mixed uses can lower the traffic, air quality, greenhouse gas, energy efficiency, and related impacts of separated land uses. This alternative will test the possibility that a mix of innovation center and residential uses will generate lowered amounts of regional traffic, vehicle miles traveled (VMT), and greenhouse gas emissions as compared to the business-only proposals.

          During the review of the Guiding Principles with the various City Commissions, questions about the inclusion of a residential component were raised by the Bicycling, Transportation, and Street Safety Commission, the Natural Resources Commission, and Cool Davis.

          For each application research is underway to estimate job generation. The mixed-use alternative for each project will assume the inclusion of enough high-density units to achieve a balance of jobs and housing. The exact ratio of jobs to homes that might achieve this is under evaluation. As an example however, if it is determined that one of the applications would generate 5,000 jobs and that a jobs/housing ratio of 1.5 jobs per unit was defensible, then the mixed use alternative for that project would assume the need for approximately 3,300 units. To the extent that these units are reasonably foreseeable within of near Davis, the number of units assumed for integration into the mixed-use alternative may be lowered accordingly.

          RECOMMENDATION #4: Staff recommends that the City Council confirm the range of alternatives proposed by staff to be evaluated in the Innovation Center EIRs.

  3. SODA

    What’s his current employment situation? I think I remember hearing he started a political consulting firm? And were there any questions about future political aspirations?

    Is there a typo on the growth quote “I am less interested in growing up than out” then talks about densification and infill??  Can anyone give me tips on how to copy text and bring it down here to quote while on an iPad? It is problematic!

  4. hpierce

    I memory serves, Will has already been “mayor”… when he participated in Youth in Government program as a HS senior…  perhaps it’s HIS “machine” that D Wolk and Swanson benefitted from…

  5. Davis Progressive

    i’m pretty impressed with the depth of thought here.  the devil is in the details of course and he hasn’t drilled down into specifics, but that will be coming.

    1. hpierce

      My point, DP (and BP, from earlier), is from my experience with Will, he’s his “own man”…the ‘machine’ label is questionable… yes, between his ‘breeding’, the contacts he’s made, the energy he brings to things he works on, I think he’s got a good shot at this, and would probably be an excellent CC member. In my opinion, much more than one candidate who has 4 years to prove themselves…

      BTW, for those looking to use the “machine” label, what’s the difference between ‘machine’, ‘networking’?  Two sides of “the Force”?

        1. hpierce

          Don’t know when Will started with Lois… actually didn’t know he had, until reading this article… am assuming all of my experience with Will was pre-employment with Lois.  Had never heard of Craig Reynolds other than on this blog.  Still know zip about him except those who characterize him as the “dark lord”.  Probably doesn’t answer your question, but my response is truthful and complete.

          I have never heard anything negative about Will… only positive.

  6. Michelle Millet

    In the couple of years that I’ve been actively involved in local politics there are few people that I’ve come to know and work with that I like and respect as much as Will. I was thrilled when I learned he was running and I am grateful that he is willing to continue his service to the community as a council member. I look forward supporting his campaign.

      1. Michelle Millet

        Tough question. I’ll start by saying this, Will is one of the few people that I’ve worked in the Davis political arena that treat men and women with an equal amount of respect. A lot of men think they do this, but subtlety or not so subtlety sometimes they don’t (and it is the men who think the treat women as equals but actually don’t who scare me the most, no fears on this front with Will.)

        Ideally, we would have a few good women running as well. I won’t support someone just because they are a woman, but I would love to see a female candidate of the same caliber as Will in this race.

        I can tell you as someone who considered running there were a lot of barriers I faced as women. I could b*tch about them, but they are the same list you will hear from any women who has attempted to step into leadership positions that are typically held by men.

        I would encourage anyone who is really concerned about the lack of women in this race to think about how they can identify women who would make good leaders, encourage them to step up, and support them when they do.

        1. Michelle Millet

           A lot of men think they do this, but subtlety or not so subtlety sometimes they don’t.

          I will add that I encounter many women who also subtlety, or not so subtlety, (and whether they realized it or not) treat men with more respect than they do other women.

        2. hpierce

          Michelle… either to correct or expound on your thought about “equal respect”… my experience with Will is that he has equal respect for ALL people [but I believe he can recognize “jerks” etc., and probably does not respect them]… not limited to gender/race… religion… physical/mental challenges… veteran/pacifist status.

          My experience is he is very “respectful’ of all [except, maybe, if someone is a true “jerk”]

          Am glad, on so many levels, that he has decided to ‘enter the race’.   Not sure how my vote will go, but am favorably inclined.

      2. Alan Miller

        an all male slate for council in davis?

        Snarky answer #1: Literally, yes.

        Snarky answer #2:  This proves Davis is a sexist town!

        Snarky answer #3:  Blame the women who are not running!

        1. hpierce

          Duh, on all three points… the ‘slate’ up for election are to fill three current positions that are all male.

          Right on, Alan…

          If a male, female, lgbt (whatever), black, asian, muslim, catholic, protestant, jewish, atheist/agnostic person was to run, I’d be interested in hearing their views, not because of who they are, but what they want to do for the City!

        2. Barack Palin

          If a male, female, lgbt (whatever), black, asian, muslim, catholic, protestant, jewish, atheist/agnostic person was to run, I’d be interested in hearing their views, not because of who they are, but what they want to do for the City!

          Same here, for me it all depends on their message and who will most likely vote the way I feel on city issues.  It has nothing to do with their gender whatsoever.  We’ve had several female council members, Greenwald, Swanson, Partansky, Boyd, Ausmundson are a few that come to mind.   I’ve voted for Swanson and Greenwald in the past though   I’ll never vote for Swanson again because of some of her votes but not because I’m anti-woman.

        3. hpierce

          Special trivia question for the MLK holiday… who was the first woman to serve on the Davis City Council?  [no fair googling it!]  I had the pleasure of meeting her, chatting, years ago…

      3. Miwok

        What if one of the “Males” is Transgender? Gay? Jolly? Asexual? What are you really asking, DP? For a date?

        That is the problem with politics and jobs, you cannot be a success without being a certain race or gender. And yet Davis?

  7. Frankly

    I like most of what I am reading here except maybe the slight dig at peripheral growth only because I don’t see infill as being capable of creating the revenue diversification he so rightly addresses as our key need.

    Frankly (because I am) I think there is a big dose of ignorance on display with this argument to look toward infill development and densification as the better choice.  First, note the opposition to Trackside.  Second, and this is the key…  CONGESTION!

    The bike and carless utopia people are chasing lifestyle rainbows and unicorns.

    Our core area has a too small footprint to support significant infill.  The near-core residential residents won’t have it.  Even if we did allow redevelopment with high-rise multi-story buildings downtown to house new business, how the hell are those new hundreds of workers supposed to get to work?  The congestion caused by this ideological-driven growth direction would be legendary…. making us a mini-New York City.

    Davis is already super small and dense.  We are already congested.

    The way I look at it is that we have peripheral growth chips to spend.   The sky will not fall.  Davis will not turn into Orange County.  These are just irrational alarms from the standard growth alarmists.

    As long as we demand smart and reasonable designs with great transportation connections, each and every peripheral development will ADD to Davis’s charm and value and keep it a great place to live.

    Increased congestion is already causing Davis to lose some of its charm.

    I get the method here.  It is the same old scarcity vs. abundance approach.  One side thinks that by cutting the distance that needs to be traveled, by making driving a car difficult by making road lanes and parking spaces scarce, by increasing the tax that residents have to pay for maintaining the roads and parking spaces… that all of this will force people to bike or walk instead of driving.

    It is frankly a stupid approach.  It is stupid because it really does not work well and it causes a long list of terrible consequences.

    The intelligent approach is to design a city with adequate bike and pedestrian paths and lanes that make biking and walking a safe and reasonable alternative.  And reliable and easy to access public transportation. With an abundance of safe bike and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, and more reliable and easy to access public transportation, we would get more people making a personal choice to use these things.

    And in-between these new developments we need more accessible open space.  Studies done on resident levels of satisfaction for living in highly dense urban areas show a distinct difference when there are too few parks and open spaces.  If Davis just builds on every available piece of land within our current city limits, we will join those cities with low satisfaction because of the lack of open space.

    But adequate transportation infrastructure and open space takes money the city does not have because our local economy is too small due to the lack of commercial development, and because we tend to pay way too much for city labor.

    I may support Mr. Arnold for CC… I don’t know yet.  But I am on the lookout for any candidate that will honestly and intelligently face this debate over infill vs. peripheral expansion.

  8. Jim Gray

    What a breath of Fresh Air.  Will Arnold has Davis in his DNA.  I have known Will his whole life.  He is a wonderful man.  Thoughtful.  Hardworking.  A great listener.  A great father and brother.

    He is not strident. His only agenda is to serve Davis; the City that he loves.

    Nichole his wife must be wondering how many more hours a day can he devote to Davis? His mom Marti, a Davis High School Teacher for decades must be very proud of him.  His sisters as well.  And I know, that his dad Doug Arnold, is looking down from heaven, and has that little twinkle in his eye and is shaking his head, wondering if Will is crazy, but proud as he can be of Will.

    Whenever I see Will he brings a smile to my face.  He is pleasant, smart, ethical, engaging, thoughtful and full of life and gives back to the community that he loves.

    Will, thank you for stepping forward and deciding to be of service.  I will be supporting Will’s bid for the City Council and I encourage all of you to get to know Will.  Because if you do,  I’m sure you too will vote for him.

  9. Miwok

    reduction by attrition “is not a good long-term strategy because it’s haphazard, there’s no over-arching philosophy being employed that we have the right mix of staffing levels. There hasn’t been long-term planning as part of that.”

    This was the smartest thing I have read about what he said.  The CMs and CCs previously seem to be bringing up this excuse more often instead of addressing it. If they want WalMart instead of Davis, they can keep going the way they are..

    1. Frankly

      Walmart just announced they are closing 400 stores worldwide.  And here is the missing piece of your thinking.  The attrition happens because there is nobody willing to “close stores”.  We can have a wide shallow pool of city service, or we can close those nice-to-have services and have a deeper pool of service for those truly important things.

      We have chose the shallow and wide pool… and since nobody is working to trim its width, it just keeps growing shallower with growing unsustainable costs.

      1. Don Shor

        My guess is that any consultant looking at city staffing from a private-industry perspective would recommend rewriting the job descriptions for upper managers, and then streamlining management. We don’t have the exact numbers, but it’s easy to deduce that if they reduced full-time equivalents by 20% but didn’t actually cut overall payroll costs, then nearly all of that attrition was at the lower pay levels; i.e., staff, not management. I know Pinkerton did some rearranging of departments, but were higher-cost employees trimmed when that happened?

        I am heartened by Will Arnold’s rhetoric on this issue, because it seems that he is, for once, willing to look at analyzing the overall structure and management. I also am happy to see he has a priority of updating the General Plan. His comments here and in the Enterprise all seem to lead in the right directions. And I would be hard-pressed to find anyone more attuned to the Davis psyche, with a better pedigree, and with as good a temperament for the rigors of public service in this town.

      2. Miwok

        I do not know how you can lay off 100 workers over a period of years, then complain you are paying them “all too much”. I also do not know if these employees have been retrained and rehired as “consultants” or hired again as others have retired?

        Seems the shallow pool theory only makes “consultants and contractors” drool with the anticipation of whet I see in the City of Vallejo, where there are very few people doing work, most are supposed to be monitoring all the contracts.

        What I read is that every new administrator in the City get raises and offers, not to mention perquisites and benefits that are more than the predecessor.

        Historically some Services have been integrated into the City when it should stand on its own, or maybe be a part of the School District?

        Frankly, do you think waiting until “400 stores” is a little late? They get sales figures every hour, to see how their stores are doing.. Davis waited, how long, to address their roads? $100Mil?

  10. Barack Palin

    Reading Will Arnold’s position where he seems to be opposed to housing at MRIC so as to not kill the project my vote is heavily leaning towards Mr. Arnold.  No housing at MRIC is a very huge issue for me and many of my neighbors so I can’t vote for anyone who can’t make it clear that they’re against any housing there.

      1. Barack Palin

        Why? I honestly don’t understand what the big deal is.

        It was a big deal when Covell and Wildhorse Ranch were both shot down by a wide margin.

        I want the business park, but include housing in MRIC and it too will get shot down.

        1. CalAg

          It won’t pass a Measure J vote (the bait-and-switch insures defeat).
          There is a better location for high density housing across the street inside the Mace curve.
          It is an incompatible land use with R&D.
          The site is too small to begin with – if they want to density build more tech space.

        2. Matt Williams

          CalAg, why is locating the housing inside the Mace Curve any better than locating the housing on the MRIC site in multi-story work/live configurations?  Won’t a free-standing development remote from the Innovation Park be more likely to find its units bought by “bedroom commuters” rather than Innovation Park workers?

  11. Misanthrop

    People have been or are opposed to housing at Covell, Wildhorse Ranch, West Village, Nishi, B St., Trackside, Nishi, Toomy field, Mace innovation Center and Family’s First. Its no wonder there is a housing shortage in Davis.

  12. Tia Will


    I would like to correct one of your statements. In multiple meetings of the OEDNA, I have not heard one single person speak out against housing at Trackside. We are in near universal agreement that the size of the project is well outside the developmental guidelines for our neighborhood. It is not housing that is being opposed. It is this project in its current form that is being opposed.

  13. CalAg

    Misanthrop: You’ve left out the sites that got approved – Wildhorse, Cannery, Chiles Ranch, etc.

    Tia Will: It’s okay to be against Trackside. It’s a bad project. I don’t get this strange guilt that project opponents often project.

    1. Alan Miller

      Speaking without “strange guilt”, I echo Tia’s comments:  the neighborhood is universally in favor of housing at the Trackside site.

      An appropriate project would have ground level retail and a level of apartments above.  That is what the Design Guidelines call for and what the neighbors voted unanimously for twice at full neighborhood meetings.  Any designs that fell within the Design Guidelines would also be considered by the neighborhood.  That is not opposition to housing, nor is it an “anti-everything” attitude.  Do not paint our neighborhood with that broad brush.

      The traditional neighborhoods negotiated these Design Guidelines for the future; now that the future is here, the Design Guidelines are not “out of date”, rather, it is *time to implement them*.  Included in those guidelines are the agreement that multi-story, multi-use is appropriate in the central core itself.  With the Brinley sale, this transition to multi-story may begin over the next few years.  Specified transition zones are not central core, which is why they were called out with their own guidelines, including the block that contains Trackside.  Trackside is a fine and appropriate location for ground floor retail with a level of housing above.

      1. Don Shor

        One thing I would like to hear from each candidate is how they would view and respect neighborhood guidelines, commissions, and General Plan principles as they assess development proposals.

        1. Matt Williams

          Excellent question Don.  For me it is a straightforward decision tree.

          That decision tree starts with the Zoning Regulations, which are the regulatory manifestation of the General Plan principles.

          The first step in evaluating a development proposal is to determine if the proposal complies with those Zoning Regulations.

          Neighborhood Guidelines are a step down the decision tree from zoning regulations.  Neighborhood Guidelines fall into the “nice to have” category, while zoning regulations fall into the “must have” category. Once a proposal has been determined to comply with the zoning regulations it is then “refined” by evaluating it against the neighborhood guidelines.

          Regarding commissions, if the evaluation of a development proposal requires the creation of a special study (such as the transportation study for the Hotel Conference Center) then I believe the report that comes from the study should be reviewed by the respective City commission that has responsibility for that particular issue (for example the Bicycling, Transportation, and Street Safety Commission in the case of the Hotel Conference Center transportation/traffic study).

          The City website says “Boards, commissions, and committees (referred to collectively as “city commissions”) have a critical role in the City of Davis. Commissions provide another important avenue for determining the community’s feelings about an issue.”  An important part of determining the community’s feelings is communicating those feelings. Therefore, I believe any Commission reviewing a study report should formally make a recommendation to the Planning Commission of their findings.

          We also need to do a better job educating the public about the respective roles of the individual commissions.  For example, I believe the Nishi process has put the Finance and Budget Commission (FBC) in a position that is inconsistent with the FBC’s formally established mission/function/purpose.  In the process the lines of demarcation between the mission/function/purpose of the Planning Commission and the mission/function/purpose of the FBC have become blurred.  Given the size and gravity of the Nishi project, that kind of blurring is not a surprise, and the members of FBC have done a very good job of not straying into Planning Commission territory.

          Ideally, as part of the Business Process Re-engineering for City operations that the FBC has asked for repeatedly, a clear outline of how the Commissions work together can be created.

      2. Matt Williams

        Alan, the 137 page Design Guidelines (see LINK for full document) were created in a city-wide process in 2001. Regarding that Design Guidelines document:

        — Pages 109 through 112 focus on “Applying the Guidelines: Old East Neighborhood” with the original 2001 neighborhood map graphic shown on Page 109.

        — Pages 74 and 75 focus on “Mixed Use Transition Areas: Core Transition East” with a map of the portion of the original Old East Neighborhood that was rezoned in 2005 and moved out of Old East Neighborhood into the Core Area in the Davis General Plan and the Core Area Specific Plan.

        The public process that resulted in the rezoning of the parcels in the Core Transition East mixed use area began late in 2004 and according to the June 23, 2005 Staff Report provided to Council for their July 12, 2005 meeting:


        Presentations on the application were made to the Business and Economic Development Commission (BEDC, May 23, 2005), Downtown Davis Business Association Board of Directors (DDBA, May 18, 2005) and the Government Relations Committee (GRC) of the Davis Chamber of Commerce (June 7, 2005). The BEDC and the DDBA both voted in unanimous support of the proposed application. The GRC had no objections and determined they would take a more formal position at the time of a specific development application review. A neighborhood meeting was held on April 7, 2005. The five residents who attended were in support of the project.


        The July 12, 2005 Council Meeting Minutes reflect the following:


        Economic Development Specialist Sarah Worley provided details of the proposal to expand the boundaries of the Core Area Specific Plan to include four properties located between Third and Fifth Streets, change land use designations from General Plan General Commercial to Core Area Specific Plan Retail with Offices, and rezone from Commercial Service to Mixed Use.

        Mayor Asmundson opened the public hearing, and hearing no comments from the public, closed the public hearing.


        The City’s Zoning Regulations for Mixed Use (see this LINK) read as follows:


        40.15.060 Height regulations.

        (a) Structures shall not exceed three stories in height except as provided in Section 40.15.080. A building of more than two stories should be carefully designed to avoid appearance of excessive bulk. Development of parcels in the core area, as defined by the core area specific plan, shall incorporate the design principles found in that plan.

        (b) Mixed use and residential structures shall not exceed three stories in height except as provided in Section 40.15.080. A building of more than two stories should be carefully designed to avoid appearance of excessive bulk. (Ord. 924 § 4; Ord. 946 § 4, Ord. 1893 § 9, 10)
        40.15.080 Lot coverage; floor area ratio requirements.

        (b)    Lot coverage (with parking district).
        (1)    Mixed use and residential structures, eighty percent.
        (c)    Floor area ratio (FAR) shall be determined using the following chart:
         _ _ Base FAR = 1.5
         _ _ Buildings providing underground parking = Bonus up to 0.5 FAR
         _ _ FAR in the M-U district not to exceed 2.0 with bonuses.
        (d)    Floor area ratio bonuses. All projects applying for floor area ratio bonuses shall be subject to design review. Total amount of floor area ratio bonus shall be determined through the design review process. (Ord. 924 § 4; Ord. 946 § 4, Ord. 1893 §§ 11—18)

        You and many others have argued that six stories is not consistent with this M-U zoning regulation portion of the Municipal Code.  Absent a zoning variance, all the information above strongly supports that argument.

        However, is your statement in your comment above, “An appropriate project would have ground level retail and a level of apartments above” (which reads to me to be a two-story limitation) consistent with the 40.15.060 Height regulations provisions of the M-U zoning regulation?

        1. Alan Miller


          Don’t have time to read all that in detail now, but appreciate the research and I will read it.

          One thing the neighborhood will contend is that Core Transition East was “moved out of Old East Neighborhood into the Core Area”.  The neighborhood supported the inclusion in the core area plan because we supported the project concept proposed in meetings held with the major land owner, which was acceptable to the neighborhood and worked out long before there was any application.

          No one ever suggested that including the parcels in the Core Area Plan also removed them from Old East Davis.  This is a transition zone.  Old East Davis IS the historical East Davis, it is not given and taken away.

        2. Matt Williams

          Alan Miller said . . .  “No one ever suggested that including the parcels in the Core Area Plan also removed them from Old East Davis.  This is a transition zone.  Old East Davis IS the historical East Davis, it is not given and taken away.”

          What Alan has said above is really important . . . and a reason why all citizens should pay attention to the actions of government that impact their lives.

          Alan is very clear in his belief that the parcels in question were not removed from Old East Davis by the Council’s actions on July 12, 2005.  Unfortunately, when the legal documents were drawn up forResolution No. 05-220 – Amending the General Plan (#6-04) and Core Area Specific Plan (#6-04) of the City of Davis Relating to the Core Area Specific Plan of the City of Davis, the parcels very definitely were removed from Old East Davis (governed by the General Plan) and placed in the Core Area (governed by the Core Area Specific Plan. 

          20/20 hindsight tells me that amendments to the 2001 Davis Downtown and Traditional Residential Neighborhoods Design Guidelines should also have been included in the July 12, 2005 Council Agenda, but they weren’t . . . and now here we are in 2015-2016 dealing with the ambiguities that are the result . . . pitting Guidelines against Zoning Regulations.

          The same sort of thing happened in 2000 with the passage of Measure O with the final Ordinance language passed by Council being somewhat different than the understandings established in the Measure O election process.



  14. Tia Will


    Tia Will: It’s okay to be against Trackside. It’s a bad project. I don’t get this strange guilt that project opponents often project.”

    And I do not get this strange reference to guilt attached to comments that I have never made. Although I completely agree that it is ok to be against Trackside,  I just as firmly believe that it is ok to advocate for it. I also have never said that I believe it to be a “bad project”. I do believe that it is the wrong project for this site, but those two statements are not synonymous. I also don’t like the aesthetics, but again that doesn’t make it a “bad project”.

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