by Alan Pryor
I found an admission last Tuesday night during the Nishi discussion to be very, very troubling. After a question to Mike Webb from Robb about how much Staff considered any GHG mitigation in their deliberations, Mike admitted that Staff really didn’t know much about it – notwithstanding the fact that the NRC and Cool Davis have been clamoring for mitigation since the earliest days of the Cannery deliberations.
Rather, Mike said, they looked at Nishi as a “learning tool” to be studied and “maybe” after they monitor it and study GHG emissions after a period of time could any lessons learned be applied to other projects in the future.
Well firstly, I don’t blame Staff for any of that. Mike was not making policy decisions. He was just doing his job as directed by you, our Council. And in fact, to his credit, he did that job with great demeanor and competency.
But, consider this, Nishi build-out will be completed by 2022 or 2023 at the earliest. According to the EIR, we then monitor it after 5 years to see how things went. So then only after 11 years, or by 2027 to 2028, will we be able to apply any lessons learned to any other projects.
But at this Council’s current rushed pace for economic development, within just two years you may have entitled the multi-billion dollar Mace Ranch project, two new 150 unit+ apartment developments, and a proposed 150 room+ Hyatt hotel, all of which will be presumably be approved with the same minimum bldg standards as allowed for Nishi and without any other GHG mitigation whatsoever.
My quick back-of-the envelope calculations indicate that these projects alone may end up generating in excess of an additional 60,000 – 75,000 tons of unmitigated GHG per year over and above the 12,000 tons per year you allowed for Nishi and the 15,000+ tons per year you allowed for Cannery.
Folks, by the time we learn our lessons from Nishi in 11 years, our Climate Action Plan will have been hopelessly decimated without any hope of ever reaching carbon neutrality by 2050 much less pulling back to 1990 levels by 2030 which, at the latest, is the consensus agreement from the Paris protocols that we have to turn this impending global warming disaster around.
The simple unavoidable fact is that we are on the verge of roasting our planet and destroying it not only for our children but for future generations for hundreds if not thousands of years.
So my question to all of you, our leaders, is this, “What part of that do you not understand?
On Mace Ranch
I truly believe that the most pressing crisis facing the entire human population over the next 25 years is not ISIS or Donald Trump. It is the impending worldwide global warming crisis we face due to unmitigated and uncontrolled GHG emissions.
So my views on development in Davis are not driven by whether we generate new jobs for UCD grads or build student housing or get enough money from development to build a news sports complex or replace playground equipment or even whether or not we can repave our roads.
My views on development are primarily driven by the main tenet of the Hippocratic Oath for Doctors – “First Do No Harm”. And by that I mean our primary responsibility in terms of ensuring sustainable growth in Davis that we firstly do not put our City’s Climate Action Plan into reverse gear by approving unsustainable development that spews out vast quantities of carbon pollution.
And that is exactly the direction we are heading after seeing the entitlements we have handed out first to the Cannery, then to the Conference Center, and last week at Nishi without even a fleeting thought to offsetting GHG mitigations.
Now I know (Mayor Pro Tem) Robb (Davis) has said that we will start getting a lot more of our energy from renewable sources if we form a CCE. And that certainly is a step in the right direction. But best guess estimates are that it will take us at least 10 years to get 80% of our electricity from renewable sources. But what about the greater than 55% of our City’s energy use that that comes from use of personal vehicles for transportation.
Mace will develop 230 acres of prime farm land and turn it into a parking lot for 8,000 cars coming and going each day. It will be the largest parking lot in the entire region. This project is the quintessential definition of sprawl and will generate from 35,000 to 46,000 metric tons of GHG per year (that’s 123 million pounds!).
If you believed anything about what Joe Minnicozzi said about Smart Growth when he was here in town, you would send this project back to the dust bin and instead start demanding truly sustainable in-fill projects.