Sunday Commentary II: The End of Paradise

Candidates Forum on Saturday/ Photo by Eunah Cho of Davis Media Access
Candidates Forum on Saturday/ Photo by Eunah Cho of Davis Media Access

If you look at polls of residents of Davis, they consistently rate the quality of life in Davis as high, and they tend to believe that the finances of the city are good and things are going well. To me, there is a disconnect between the views expressed by the typical citizen and the realities I see in following the politics and governance of the city on a day to day basis.

There was a comment at yesterday’s city council candidates’ forum that really struck me, and it was made by Will Arnold. He made the comment that you won’t hear him talk about renaissance a lot, but you won’t hear him talk about crises either. The renaissance, of course, is Mr. Arnold’s reference to Mayor Dan Wolk and, at the same time, his effort to separate himself from the mayor’s rosy prognostications from earlier this year.

A lot of people I talked to yesterday following the forum, which Davis Media Access videoed and will be posted online when available, were laudatory of the forum and the candidates themselves – who seemed to be focused on critical issues and not bogged down with over-exuberant rhetoric.

While some may call me a “Debbie Downer” or, as one reader noted a few weeks ago, I see a crisis everywhere, but the crises never seem to come to pass. I tend to see myself as a realist – I chose to live as a renter in this community rather than a homeowner in another community. But if we do not fight to change our trajectory, there is trouble around the corner.

The reality is that the Vanguard was often on the front lines of warning the community about real crises – unfunded liabilities, unmet needs, unsustainable employee compensation, roads, and other very real issues. Some we have averted through strong action by the city and council, others have just been forestalled, while still others are mounting and they simply have not collapsed the system as of yet.

The problem, I think, that we face is that not enough people are paying enough attention. Last week everyone was up in arms about the prospect of hunting the Davis turkeys. This week, sadly, some person decided to run over a poor bird out of fun and malice. But as someone pointed out to me, why don’t people in this community get as energized about the budget?

The answer there is obvious – but the biggest problem that we now face as a community is that most people do not know the danger that is lurking behind the corner. People love Davis, its engagement and vibrance, even if they are turned off by the political machinations.

I was relieved yesterday to listen to the five council candidates and I realized that, even though they may not all agree on the solutions to the problems, they all get that there are problems. That is a far cry from 2008 when two incumbents proudly boasted that we had a balanced budget with a 15 percent reserve, a mere four months before the entire system would collapse.

The problem that I see is that I don’t think the community as a whole understands it. The Vanguard readership most certainly does.

Right now the biggest problem I see is surprising disengagement by huge segments of the Davis population – who enjoy the amenities of the community, but are not aware of the threat posed to all of them.

In December and January, our mayor would point to a renaissance, arguing that our budget is balanced and resilient while we are reinvesting in our infrastructure.

What I see, on the other hand, is a very fragile balanced budget on paper only. One projection has the city facing somewhere in the neighborhood of $655 million in unfunded liabilities. We have focused heavily on roads for the last six or seven years, mainly because it took that long to get the council to put real resources into it, but at this point we are spending $4 million and need to be spending at least $8 million a year on roads.

We have a parks tax that pays for about a quarter of our parks needs. We have several hundred million in unfunded city infrastructure needs above and beyond parks and roads.

Costs continue to expand. I think the stunning statistic is that, despite the city council’s efforts to rein in spending in 2009 and 2013, and despite the fact that personnel was reduced through attrition by about 100 employees in the last seven years, we are actually spending much more per employee now than we did in 2008.

Our budget is balanced primarily because we passed a sales tax measure in 2014 and, when that goes away, so too will our balanced budget.

As a community we take pride in our parks, greenbelts, bike paths, pools and other amenities. We like our fire department (although some of us are concerned about compensation costs) and our police. The budgetary threat we face is huge and long-term. We can supplement things with taxes, but in the longer term if we do not find ways to diversify and increase our revenue from business, Davis will be more unaffordable and those vital services will be threatened.

The other huge issue, aside from the ongoing budget crisis (yes, I believe it is a crisis), is the rental housing crisis (yes, there’s that word again). I have laid out this issue numerous times in the last few weeks.

The bottom line is this: the university is growing. The university is not providing housing to accommodate the additional students. The city is not growing in terms of housing and we are increasingly crunched in terms of vacancy rate and the availability of housing for students and renters.

To me this is a numbers game.

For years the vacancy rate has been absurdly low and now it is around 0.2 percent. At the same time, the university is expanding the number of students admitted. We are expecting about 1100 more new students next fall than we had this fall.

The university, as we have reported multiple times, has made it clear they cannot or at least will not build enough housing to accommodate the increased student population.

Some have suggested that the solution here is clear – that UC Davis simply “needs to drastically slow down their student population growth and drastically speed up the provision of their on-campus student housing.”

But others point out that neither is likely to happen, and many question whether the city has any real influence over that decision.

Others point out that the idea that UC Davis needs to slow its population growth is an anathema. After all, do we really want fewer kids to get a UC Davis education simply because it causes problems for our city planning?

The danger that the city faces is a demographic issue. As we have noted, 57 percent of housing units are rental properties and 55 percent of Davis residents live in rental housing. Right now, the majority of those are students who do not vote or do not vote locally.

However, as pressures rise, that may change and, without a long-term solution, those renters could out-vote local property owners and make major changes to long-standing city land use ordinances, including Measure R, and they could have an impact on the viability of future housing projects like Nishi.

It is not clear if that scenario would happen, but if the pressure of student growth continues to hammer into a housing market that cannot or at least does not expand, something may have to give.

The community that many love is at risk right now. The next council term will determine which path we go forward on issues like economic development, jobs, land use, rental housing and the budget. If our leaders do not step up to address these crucial issues full on, we will face an existential crisis in Davis (yep, that word again).

—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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103 Comments

    1. Biddlin

      Lol, from the hyperbolic,
      “The End of Paradise”
      I feared my favorite town in the Sutter Buttes had washed away or been swallowed up by the earth.

      Spoiler alert, Davis isn’t Paradise, by any stretch of the imagination. Towns don’t need to be perfect to be perfectly lovable, by the way.

  1. Matt Williams

    David Greenwald said . . . “What I see on the other hand is a very fragile balanced budget on paper only. One projection has the city facing somewhere in the neighborhood of $655 million in unfunded liabilities. We have focused heavily on roads for the last six or seven years, mainly because it took that long to get the council to put real resources in, but at this point we are spending $4 million and need to be spending at least $8 million a year on roads.”

    For those who are interested, here is the background on the $655 million in unfunded liability.
    In the last 120 days City Staff has presented to Council the following:

    On 12/1/2015 Public Works Staff presented their Draft 2016 Pavement Management Report to Council in which they said “to approach a truly sustainable pavement management system will require investment of $10 million annually” for 20 years.  (see http://documents.cityofdavis.org/Media/Default/Documents/PDF/CityCouncil/CouncilMeetings/Agendas/20151201/08-Pavement-Management-2016-Update.pdf )  After some debate over the inflation rate that Staff had used, Council accepted the $10 million a year for 20 years projection.On 2/2/2016 Public Works Staff provided Council with a Building and Park Facility planned maintenance and capital improvements funding requirement of “Total costs for a 30 year timeline for all buildings estimated at $37.7 million,” and “Total costs for a 20 year timeline for all parks is estimated at $317 million.” (see http://documents.cityofdavis.org/Media/Default/Documents/PDF/CityCouncil/CouncilMeetings/Agendas/20160202/05F-Facilities-Assessment.pdf)

    In December 2015 the City’s just published Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) reported that the Unfunded OPEB liability is over $61 million (page 93) and the Net Unfunded Pension liability is over $53 million (page 83).(see http://documents.cityofdavis.org/Media/Default/Documents/PDF/Finance/CAFR-Documents/Davis-2015-Comprehensive-Annual-Financial-Report.pdf)

    Some quick addition shows 200 plus 37.7 plus 317 plus 61 plus 53 equals 668.7.  Allowing for some existing funding for roads from the General Fund results in the “$655 unfunded” figure.

    All in the public record.  All presented to Council.

    1. Frankly

      Well done post Matt. This is saved in my favorites.  It seems that we can use these numbers now as the de facto numbers.

      We have been waiting desperately for these number for the last several months as we debate the magnitude of need for city revenue and city spending.

      1. Mark West

        One additional point about these numbers.  In the case of the roads (and perhaps the other projections as well) the ‘$10 million per year for 20 years’ does not fix the roads, but maintains them at slightly below the current acceptable standard. The $200 million investment keeps the roads in their current dilapidated state (on average) but prevents them from getting much worse (and thus much more expensive).  The cost of bringing the roads back to the condition we had 10 years ago will be much greater than $200 million.

        1. Frankly

          Good point.

          I would add one more point.

          With all the rain, I think the cost has increased and the urgency has increased.  Go out and drive around and note all the new large cracks and potholes that have developed over the last several weeks of rain.

          Michelle Millet is complaining about green piles making it dangerous for bikers… however, I expect someone will get seriously hurt hitting one of these large cracks or potholes.  Then we will be able to call it a real “crisis”.

  2. Matt Williams

    With the above unfunded liabilities laid out, there is an active plan for dealing with them being actively pursued by Robb Davis and the Finance and Budget Commission.  Robb presented it from the dais, but there was no discussion by any of the other Council members.  The text of the plan appears at the bottom of this comment. That plan coupled with the FBC Tax advice to Council in December is a combined effort.

    Tomorrow night the Finance and Budget Commission will receive a detailed presentation from Public Works and Parks staff on the $37.7 million for Buildings and $317 million for Parks.  That will begin a process of sorting out what are the highest (and lowest) priorities.  The FBC meeting is in Council Chambers at 7:00, and if you are at all interested in the City’s financial future, I hope you will attend.

    Staff will also be identifying (without any numbers) the portions of the City’s capital infrastructure for which the maintenance liability still need to be assessed . . . including all the underground infrastructure (storm sewer, water and sanitary sewer).

    —————

    Cost Containment as an Element of Fiscal Resilience

    1a. Undertake a full staffing analysis to determine match between service delivery needs and staffing.

    1b. FBC discussions have not only embraced a staffing analysis (building on John Meyer’s study last year), but we have also discussed the belief that a thorough Business Process Re-engineering engagement is necessary as well. Staffing poorly designed, inefficient, ineffective service delivery processes makes no sense. Einstein said it perfectly, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

    2. Based on 1, consider best ways to provide services going forward with focus on (a) training workers to take on multiple tasks (as is happening already) and (b) consideration of targeted and appropriate outsourcing of services.

    3. Examine all means to further reduce growth in compensation costs including analysis of OPEB options (as other CA cities are doing).

    4. Create more transparent and accessible accounting systems that enable a more precise estimation of costs of specific services—building on work done by the Fee Study consultants.

    5. Promote a more aggressive analysis with the County and other cities, via LAFCo, of shared bidding, service, and consulting options to reduce duplication and obtain scale efficiencies.

    6. Determine what current city programs might be candidates for reduction or elimination and which we want/must keep.

    7. Determine what current city infrastructure we could/should shed (buildings, properties) to reduce expenditures related to them.

    Though not a cost containment item, we should also receive an analysis of all non-enterprise fund balances to determine if/how we can use these funds to meet current needs.

    ——————-

    That the F& B C is recommending that the Davis City Council not approve any new tax measures or utility rate increases for placement on a ballot measure until such time that:

    1. The staff provides a detailed scope of proposed and/or deferred capital infrastructure projects, as well as proposed new services.

    — Said scope document shall include specific measurable success metrics for the proposed new services and projects, along with an inventory of the specific costs that will be incurred to provide said proposed services or complete said projects.

    — Each deferred capital infrastructure project shall include its expected success metrics, as well as an anticipated budget.

    —- The scope document will be updated each year as part of the Budget adoption process.

    2. The staff provides detailed report/s in conjunction with or as a part of the annual Budget adoption process documents submitted to City Council that reports the specific work done (accomplishments) the prior Fiscal Year on staff proposed services and project/s associated with item #1.

    3. The staff provides detailed report/s in conjunction with or as a part of the annual Budget adoption process documents submitted to City Council that defines where the revenues collected from any new tax/increased tax measure(s) spent on services and/or projects other than the services and/or projects associated with item #1.

    1. Frankly

      Matt – You keep posting this and I note that there are infrequent comments posted when you do.

      First, let me say that it is a logical action plan that matches similar best-practice approaches in the private sector world.

      But I think it needs to be at a higher-level for better consumption by the regular people.

      We are really talking about two steps:

      1. Make a prioritized list of all the city services/functions and their associated costs.

      This will require an effort to work with voters to get feedback to assess the relative value of all discretionary services and expected service-levels.  It will also require an upgrade to the city’s accounting and financial management systems, and more work by the FBC.  Basically it is going to require a true cost-accounting system/method.

      2. Develop and implement a city-wide economic resilience strategy-plan based on the previous that includes:

      A. Measures/actions to increase revenue;

      B. Measures/actions to reduce spending per unit of service;

      C. Measures/actions to cut and/or increase service and service-levels that are within budget.

      Of course there is a lot of more granular activities and actions contained within these two high-level steps, but I think it is the basis for what is being recommended and at this higher-level explanation it will be more likely to be understood and discussed.

      1. Matt Williams

         
        Point well taken Frankly.  I am guilty of repeatedly banging that drum . . . very consciously beating it … and I will keep on beating it.
         
        Even with that repetition in the Vanguard and other venues, in the past 48 hours we have heard three of the five Council candidates say:

        “our fiscal house is in order” and

        “we are $4-5 million short of taking care of our infrastructure needs” and

        “That’s not where we are right now.  We are not doing triage.  We’re not out of the woods, but we have a little bit of breathing room I think is fair (to say).

        Those comments from the candidates tell me that there is a significant knowledge gap with respect to our fiscal situation. 

        The modest General Fund surplus in FY 2015-2016 (reported to be in the vicinity of $3 million because of greater than expected tax revenues) is not “breathing room” when viewed in the context of the $655 million unfunded liability.  It is hard to imagine how anyone could say “our fiscal house is in order.”  

        With that said, I can not argue with the approach you describe.  It contains different words than Robb and the FBC have used, but the drum beat is very much the same.  Please feel free to join the percussion chorus.

    2. Miwok

      Matt, this is a very comprehensive approach, but like the nearby UCD, they operate much like the City. Whatever they can’t hide, they will let it get soooo bad they get some “gift from Heaven” or Grant to get caught back up. It is their strategy. They are way past building for the future, because they are so far behind their past.

      Meanwhile the Press Release of their “success” is already written.

  3. Mark West

    “Our budget is balanced primarily because we passed a sales tax measure in 2014 and, when that goes away, so too will our balanced budget.”

    Our budget is ‘balanced’ only because we don’t include the unfunded liabilities in the budget. If the City had to operate under the same accounting standards required of businesses, we would be insolvent.  Our balanced budget is an accounting gimmick provided to politicians (by politicians) to hide the true extent of their spending from the public.

  4. Tia Will

    David

    A few questions for you.

    Our budget is balanced primarily because we passed a sales tax measure in 2014 and, when that goes away, so too will our balanced budget.”

    Since this kept us from going over any hypothetical cliff, it would seem to me that the most prudent course of action would be a continuance of this tax. Your thoughts ?

    The other huge issue aside from the ongoing budget crisis (yes, I believe it is a crisis) is the rental housing crisis (yes, there’s that word again). I have laid out this issue numerous times in the last few weeks.”

    Actually it would seem to me that you have been drawing attention to these “crises” for as long as I have been aware of the Vanguard, so for at least six years. Would you mind laying out your timeline for these “crises” since it would seem to me that you have been highlighting them for at least that long ? While I realize that the “crisis” timeline is going to vary with one’s world view, with that of a doctor being very short, usually minutes to hours to days when considering patient care, I think that six years would be a relatively long time for an ongoing “crisis” even at the city level.

    The city is not growing in terms of housing and we are increasingly crunched in terms of vacancy rate and the availability of housing for students and renters.”

    This is not quite accurate as written. The city has grown in terms of housing during my time here. There have been numerous apartment buildings, and residential developments during the 30 + years that I have been associated with Davis. Unfortunately much of that has not been designed with the needs of the student population in mind such as our most recent housing adventure, the Cannery. In these projects, I see a lack of a coherent vision for how to meet the needs of the city and the university. We do not seem to be averse to using our land to build “luxury” accommodations which are advertised as increasing our housing stock, but in reality only do so for the most affluent, while bemoaning the conversion of supposed single family residences into mini-dorms.

    My ongoing issue with your painting our problems as “crises” is that I do not believe that this promotes a thoughtful, evidence based approach to what are clearly significant issues. “Crisis” implies the need for immediate action, even if that action may be suboptimal or may generate more problems for us in the future.  Reactions to “crises” are frequently stop gap measures which are designed to buy enough time to develop a more comprehensive plan. I do not see this as a good approach to city planning.

    This is my key objection to the “grow as fast as we can mentality”. Growth, whether population, business, tax base or any other kind of “growth” can be beneficial if needs based and well planned. However, growth in and of itself is neither good nor bad. It is either appropriate for the situation, or not. In Davis, we have two polarized schools of thought, one in which rapid growth is the answer to our problems, and one in which slow growth is optimal. I do not know of anyone who believes that no growth is an option. I believe that going into a “crisis” mode over our very real issues does not promote consideration of what is most appropriate, but pushes us towards a reactive rather than proactive mind set.

  5. Frankly

    But as someone pointed out to me, why don’t people in this community get as energized about the budget? The answer there is obvious

    David, if it is so obvious, then by all means please share.

      1. Frankly

        Ok.  Makes sense.

        I would also add.

        3. I like spending a lot on public sector compensation because I am a public sector employee.  We should just keep raising taxes on everyone else so that my cohort is well-paid.

    1. dlemongello

      Budget is complex and overwhelming and needs therefore complex broad based solutions.  By comparison, a “solution” would be fairly direct and simple regarding turkeys (ignore them, kill them (not proposing just noting as one option), relocate them.

  6. Ron

    Tia:  “Crisis” implies the need for immediate action, even if that action may be suboptimal or may generate more problems for us in the future.  Reactions to “crises” are frequently stop gap measures which are designed to buy enough time to develop a more comprehensive plan.  I do not see this as a good approach to city planning.

    Well-said.

      1. Ron

        Frankly:  “Not really well said unless you have a tendency for denial or an agenda to block growth and change.”

        Or, maybe if one prefers carefully-made, planned changes.

        As you’ve noted, no one can completely block growth and change.  However, some may use a “crisis” to justify their own agenda, regardless of the impact on the city.

        1. Frankly

          I agree with you here as written.  But…

          In business we use the term “reasonable” in most agreements between parties.

          And one way to gauge a level of reasonableness is to compare to the averages.

          And when we compare Davis to the averages, there is nothing reasonable about our rejection of growth… especially economic growth.

          If you are unreasonable over a period of time and it has lead to problems in the present, it is not reasonable to expect that problems can be effectively solved without some over-compensation to make up for those years of unreasonableness.

          If Davis had done a reasonable job spending within our means.  If Davis had done a reasonable job growing our economy along with our population growth.  If Davis had done a reasonable job working with UCD to jointly plan housing development needs.  If Davis had done these three thing then change could be careful, slow and infrequent.

          However, Davis has done a lousy job at all three, and so here we are in need to over-compensate to catch up.

          The lesson here is that extremism for most things is an unsustainable approach and the costs will mount and eventually there will be a reckoning required to pull back to a point of reasonable.  And once we resettle into a more standard model, we should practice being more incrementally reasonable and balanced in our choices and decisions so as to not have to accept the future shock of the big changes required to again re-balance to a point of reasonable.

      2. Tia Will

        Frankly

        Not really well said unless you have a tendency for denial or an agenda to block growth and change.”

        Or maybe I just has a very different perspective based on my life experiences. So let me share with you how one doctor sees the issue using a medical analogy.

        You  ( no not you  personally, just play along ) are involved in a life threatening collision. The ER doctor correctly assesses a crisis situation, puts in IVs, gets blood replacement going and calls in the trauma surgeon and appropriate operating team. Great !  You survive in the short term. But no one will have done you any favors if they fail to realize two non emergent but highly salient points.

        # 1 You have a bleeding disorder that will be life threatening to you at some point in the future if not identified and appropriately treated.

        #2 The reason for your collision was that you were driving under the influence due to your alcoholism. If this problem is not appreciated and correctly and thoughtfully addressed in the long term, this kind of collision is more likely to occur in the future putting you and those around you at risk.

        What I see over and over in Davis is a reactive approach to what are viewed as “crisis” situations when what is needed is a short, medium, and long term factually based assessment of the needs and desires of our community and a deliberate collaborative effort to address them according to an order of prioritization. I am aware that you see this as “denial” and “stalling” on my part, which is interestingly enough, exactly how I view your adversity to new greener technologies and the adoption of a  healthier lifestyle with a smaller environmental “footprint” in what I see as the obvious need for these changes.

        1. Frankly

          Thanks for that analogy.

          The “bleeding disorder” is our overspending on city labor.

          The “alcoholism” is the no-growth, NIMBY, change-aversion that has led Davis to have a general fund budget that is at least 50% smaller than it should be for a city our size.

          The “crisis” is that these things are clearly causing an looming and inevitable crash.

        2. Mark West

          Instead of creating yet another make-believe scenario that doesn’t address the issues, why don’t you try proposing a solution to the problem instead.  We need to nearly double our current General Fund budget in order to cover the roughly $30 million in annual payments required to meet our unfunded liabilities. How do you propose raising that $30 million in a sustainable manner while also addressing the housing shortage and the loss of young families from town?

  7. Misanthrop

    “Actually it would seem to me that you have been drawing attention to these “crises” for as long as I have been aware of the Vanguard, so for at least six years.”

    David’s record hasn’t been as an advocate for housing. He has only come to this lately as the housing situation has become absurd beyond all reason. David has, for a much longer time, been a slow growth farmland preservationist, a position he still mostly supports. Even his current view that we must let some of the pressure out of the kettle or face a rebellion against Measure R renewal reveals his ongoing commitment to his economically unsustainable views on growth and loyalty to his elite upbringing in San Luis Obispo. A position he holds even at the expense of the less fortunate students and working class of Davis a group which, I believe, David would consider himself a member.

     

  8. Tia Will

    Frankly

    You posts on this topic are artful hyperbole combined with creative denial.”

    We have some points of agreement. I agree that my posts are sometimes “artful” and “creative” ; )

    We also have some real and substantive points of agreement. I am completely in agreement with your appreciation of actual numbers as being considered by Robb Davis and posted by Matt. I have frequently stated that I favor an evidence based approach and the city budget is no exception.

    I do find it somewhat ironic that you feel that my objections to what I see as the over used term “crisis” are what is “hyperbolic” rather than calling out the doom sayers for their hyperbole. The city of Davis has had significant significant problems since I have been here with growth or the lack thereof  being a major one. It is equally “hyperbolic” to claim that there has been “no growth”as it would be to claim that we have net all our housing needs. It has been and is my position that what is needed is an objective look at our needs, wants, and resources, both economic and others, not decision making based on your preferences or my preferences but on a factual analysis. Robb, Brett, Matt and others in leadership and prominent community positions seem to be moving the conversation in the right direction and this I appreciate greatly.

     

     

    1. Frankly

      I have never said there has been no growth.

      Here is my position.

      1. Davis need to support housing growth of 1-2% per year to do our fair share supporting regional housing needs.

      2. Between around 1970 – 2000, Davis has done its fair share and a bit more.  But from about 2000 – 2016 we have not.  So, we need to play a bit of catch-up and build some more housing over the 1-2% per year level.  But after that we should stick to the 1-2%

      3. UCD is responsible for all student housing needs above what is provided by Davis’s 1-2% housing growth commitment.

      4. While Davis has done a reasonable job with housing growth over the last 40 years, over that same period it has done a lousy job allowing commercial development to support our local economic needs.  As a consequence we need to play more aggressive catch-up building out our inventory of available commercial properties.

  9. Tia Will

    Mark

    why don’t you try proposing a solution to the problem instead”

    You mean like the many, many times that I have posted my preferences for increasing taxes on a number of items, like paying for the amenities that we use such as parking downtown and at the various shopping centers, like becoming less road dependent by using our private automobiles in a more responsible manner, like favoring some of the increase in businesses proposed on a scale that is compatible with our current community rather than deciding that we should become another cookie cutter community of national chains and manufacturing plants ? I believe that I have stated my preferred solutions again and again. I am not asking you to agree. But perhaps acknowledgement that I have made proposals would certainly be a step forward to an honest conversation.

     

      1. Tia Will

        Why don’t you try proposing feasible solutions to the problem instead?”

        I do not see anything “unfeasible” about choosing conservation and a smaller “footprint” lifestyle as part of the efforts to address our very expensive lifestyle. I do not see anything unfeasible about asking people to pay for what they use. Nor do I see anything “unfeasible” about pushing for cleaner, healthier technologies.

        We changed from an agrarian society to the car dependent society that we have now. What exactly other than intransigence is stopping us from making healthier, more environmentally sound and less costly changes now ? What other than laziness and the desire for personal convenience is stopping us from living much healthier and environmentally damaging lives ?

        Some of our community, Robb Davis and family, being outstanding examples, are leading the way as personal examples of this commitment. So it can be done. It is unwillingness, not lack of ability that is driving our quest for “ever more” as our highest ideal.

        1. Frankly

          Let’s try it this way Tia.  You tell me what cities you want Davis to be like and we will do the comparison.  Maybe you can help me discover another place that backs your assumptions that we can be the way you advocate.

          If we cannot find another city that fits you model, then your ideas lack feasibility.

          And no, you don’t get to make the claim that all those other cities are less capable than Davis to get your utopian status…. that somehow we just need to be more creative and smarter than all the rest.   Unlike you I travel to all those cities and work with many of the leaders in those cities, and if anything, Davis is plagued with a significant lower capability of leadership to become that one and only Tia utopia.   And our voters are also less savvy and less sophisticated in many areas than would be required even if we had the leadership.

          By the way, Davis already has higher taxes than most if not all of these comparable cities.

    1. Mark West

      Tia:

      Put some numbers on your wishlist. Show how they add up to a sustainable $30 million per year. If your preferred solutions won’t pay the bills, what is your plan B?

      “But perhaps acknowledgement that I have made proposals would certainly be a step forward to an honest conversation.”

      You certainly have posted a great number of words on the topic and have repeatedly stated your ideas for how life and society should be different than it currently is.  So far, however, in all of those words I have yet to see a single proposal from you that will actually pay the bills in the real world.

      We need an immediate and sustained net influx in excess of $30 million per year to pay for the ‘lifestyle’ that you have enjoyed the past few decades. Honestly, when are you going to start paying the bills?

  10. Tia Will

    “Frankly

    As is often the case with doctors, you and I have a different assessment of our patient’s short and long term needs and how to address them.

    The “bleeding disorder” is our overspending on city labor.”

    On this point, we agree at least in part on the diagnosis. But I see the “treatment” as eliminating the disorder with the least invasive approach possible, not calling in a whole host of new specialists and technologies to address what can be best handled by “life style changes”. Use less, and you will need less is not a bad motto.

    “The “alcoholism” is the no-growth, NIMBY, change-aversion that has led Davis to have a general fund budget that is at least 50% smaller than it should be for a city our size.”

    I see the “alcoholism” in terms of the endless quest for “more”. Only more whether it is another drink, or another housing development or another manufacturing park, or another Target…..only more and things will be better. This is the true addictive paradigm that we need to wean ourselves away from. More is not synonymous with better and we need to address that reality.

    1. Miwok

      “The “bleeding disorder” is our overspending on city labor.”

      Thanks for building Morale, Tia.

      If you don’t have competent people in City positions, train them or get them out, but pay them so their efforts are on the City work they must competently do, not part time jobs or standing in line for Food Stamps, like many UCD employees do.

      Many committees around town are Volunteers, again splitting their time between their work and their community, and if they are just interested, not competent or well informed, the recommendations to the City are useless.

      1. Tia Will

        Miwok

        Thanks for building Morale, Tia.”

        I am not sure how you ended up attributing this quote to me. This was a quote from Frankly with which I expressed partial agreement. My position is that with regard to some of our city groups ( namely the firefighters) we compensate more than do comparable communities to our own detriment, while other groups (such as our police)  are underpaid using the same measure. I think that this is factual, and whether or not it is good for morale is certainly not dependent upon any decision or comment that either Frankly or I have made.

        Nor did my comment have anything to do with the efforts of our citizens who choose to volunteer their time, so I am puzzled about the relevance of that comment. Can you clarify ?

        1. Miwok

          I apologize, your refusal to reply under another person’s comment apparently was hard for me to track. Too many Quotation marks…

          Volunteers come in all sizes and abilities, that is what that comment applies to.

          the various commenters about Employees Compensation are best directed to Dirk, unless you know of some people personally that waste their time while in the employment of the City.

  11. Don Shor

    Tia Will: “Our budget is balanced primarily because we passed a sales tax measure in 2014 and, when that goes away, so too will our balanced budget.”

    Since this kept us from going over any hypothetical cliff, it would seem to me that the most prudent course of action would be a continuance of this tax. Your thoughts ?

    City of Davis sales tax is currently 8.5%. I think it is assumed by the political leaders and budget managers that the recent sales tax increase will be renewed.

    http://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/county-government/supervisors-will-look-at-two-tax-measures-for-november-ballot/

    One for roads, another for universal pre-school. Those two together would likely push our local sales tax to 9 – 10%.

    There comes a point when people see too many tax increases without commensurate budget restraint, and begin to vote against subsequent tax measures. Each increase in the local sales tax probably begins to endanger parcel taxes for the schools and parks.

  12. Tia Will

    Don

    There comes a point when people see too many tax increases without commensurate budget restraint, and begin to vote against subsequent tax measures. Each increase in the local sales tax probably begins to endanger parcel taxes for the schools and parks.”

    So my response to this is that what is needed is both adequate taxation and commensurate budget restraint. I do not believe that I have ever said supported one without the other.

    1. Mark West

      Once again, Tia, how do you net $30 million in increased revenues with new taxes and budget restraint (Remember, our total General Fund budget is only $50 million)?

      Do we cut $30 million worth of City jobs?  We tried that. Cut 100 FTEs, or roughly a quarter of the workforce.  What was the result? Our costs for compensation went up.

      The sales tax increase was projected to bring in a little more than $4.5 million. Shall we increase the sales tax another 3.5% to 12% total (before the County increases)?  Maybe that will do the job.

      You want paid parking, great! I completely agree, but how many dollars per hour will we need to charge to net $30 million? What happens to our sales tax revenues, not to mention our local businesses, when shoppers decide it is cheaper to drive to Woodland than to pay for parking at the usurious rates required?

      Frankly has posted several times that the ‘average’ California City the size of Davis, has a General Fund budget that is roughly twice ours. Why, because they have commercial and retail developments that provide the greater revenues, exactly the things that you have consistently opposed. We would be paying our bills today if we had only the ‘average’ amount of commercial development, and we could be doing it without raising taxes on residents and slashing services to the point of making Davis both unaffordable and unlivable.

       

      Instead, as you have repeatedly advocated, we dream about utopia, ignore reality, and demand that the next few generations pay for our current ‘lifestyle.’

      1. Jim Frame

        We tried that. Cut 100 FTEs, or roughly a quarter of the workforce.  What was the result? Our costs for compensation went up.

        I’d be interested in seeing the total savings resulting from staff cuts.  Were those cuts strategic from an overall service delivery standpoint, or merely opportunistic (e.g. laying off the low-wage new-hires)?

         

        1. hpierce

          Can’t give the docs, as they probably don’t exist [convenient]… however, they were not “strategic”… positions were eliminated (not a lay-off, per se, as there was no intention to re-hire) [tree-trimmers]… Street Maintenance positions, when vacant, were deleted from the budget… retirements, elsewhere in the Departments, were either left unfilled, deleted, or used as ‘promotional opportunities’ and the position from which the promoted employee came from was eliminated.  Perhaps St Steve or the former HR Director could elaborate/refute.

          Am not aware of even a single position, other than tree-crew folk, where a position was eliminated with a current ‘occupant’…the Tree-trimmers position eliminations, IMO, were not strategic, but rather “message” to DCEA.  Perhaps St Steve or the former HR Director could elaborate/refute.

  13. CalAg

    “The danger that the city faces is a demographic issue. As we have noted, 57 percent of housing units are rental properties and 55 percent of Davis residents live in rental housing. Right now, the majority of those are students who do not vote or do not vote locally.

    However, as pressures rise, that may change and, without a long-term solution, those renters could out-vote local property owners and make major changes to long-standing city land use ordinances, including Measure R”

    So, according to Greenwald, the solution is to build more multifamily housing so that the UCD students don’t get restless and vote down Measure R? Really?

    The classic solution to the problem of finding yourself in a hole is to stop digging. I’m much more concerned about how to grow and support the 25-55 demographic – you know, the people who contribute most to the local economic engine and provide children for the schools.

    1. Mark West

      “I’m much more concerned about how to grow and support the 25-55 demographic – you know, the people who contribute most to the local economic engine and provide children for the schools.”

      I agree, this is a critical issue. Jobs and housing are how we support this demographic. We can provide the jobs by improving our economic vitality with commercial and retail growth. That piece is pretty straight forward. The housing piece is probably harder to address. As we see with the Cannery, we put forth so many demands on new residential developments (community farm anyone?) that the houses are anything but affordable. The older/smaller homes around town that should be our ‘first home’ stock are tied up by investors and rented out as mini-dorms. We might be able to free up some of those homes by building apartments, thus reducing the demand for mini-dorms, but we would need to build a lot of apartments to have any meaningful impact. The only way that I see pushing these homes towards owner occupied is by increasing the costs for investors with new fees and taxes for operating their rental properties.

    2. hpierce

      Meant as an honest question… aren’t the schools at least somewhat “elastic”?  If we can’t provide additional children for the schools, why can’t they “downsize” (teachers, Admin., facilities, support)?  I like the idea of  increasing the number of school-aged children in Davis… just don’t see that rationale of having the impetus being “the schools”.  I see a broader reason to have a diverse mix of age groups.

      1. South of Davis

        hpierce wrote:

        > Meant as an honest question… aren’t the schools at least somewhat “elastic”?

        > If we can’t provide additional children for the schools, why can’t they “downsize”

        > (teachers, Admin., facilities, support)?

        The people who work for the school district don’t want to “downsize” (close schools or eliminate jobs that their friends have) so as the number of young families continues to drop and well educated people continue to have less kids Davis will just continue to let more and more kids that live outside the district come to school here and get us to vote for more parcel taxes to pay for it.

        1. CalAg

          “Davis will just continue to let more and more kids that live outside the district come to school here and get us to vote for more parcel taxes to pay for it”

          Not sustainable and very risky.

    3. David Greenwald

      “The classic solution to the problem of finding yourself in a hole is to stop digging. ”

      I’m confused by what digging you want to stop

      1. CalAg

        (1) Building more rental housing for disaffected students that threaten to take over the City (per your argument).

        (2) Pushing unhealthy ratio of owner occupied to rental housing further out of whack by building more multifamily.

        Take your pick.

  14. Tia Will

    “I’m much more concerned about how to grow and support the 25-55 demographic – you know, the people who contribute most to the local economic engine and provide children for the schools.”

    I am going to be more even more direct on this point. I do not believe that it is good social policy to “provide more children for the schools”. I believe that it is the job of the schools to provide for the children that are here.

    For those of you who do not like social engineering, the idea that we should decide as a city how many individuals of each age range we need in order to support any given social institution, be it the schools or the university or the 25-55 age range, or how many seniors we need to fill our existing assisted living facilities is the epitome of social engineering. Our institutions exist to serve the population, not the other way around.

    1. noname

      I agree with you 100 percent, Dr. T. I also find it interesting that, according to a story in the Davis Enterprise, the city’s school population is expected to grow steadily in the coming years — and not because of intradistrict transfers either. I guess there are more than a few of us in the 25-55 demographic still around.

    2. Frankly

      Demographics matter.  Our institutions exist to serve all demographics.  Policies that benefit one demographic group at the expense of another are unfair, harmful, unethical and immoral.

        1. Mark West

          CalAg: “our housing policy is heavily skewed in favor of…seniors and students.”

          David: “For good reason”

          Our housing policy is skewed in favor of seniors and investors/landlords, and not for good reason.  Our policies have ignored the needs of everyone under the age of 50 due to our focus on meeting the demands of the retired and soon to be so. The students and young families are left to compete for the rental stock, with the students winning out due both to their greater number and their willingness to cram together in large numbers. Since Davis is not a retirement community, our policies must meet the needs of all residents, not just those looking to preserve their little piece of nirvana.

          1. David Greenwald

            I don’t see how you fix this problem without addressing the needs of rental housing.

        2. Mark West

          “I don’t see how you fix this problem without addressing the needs of rental housing.”

          You can’t.  Nor can you fix the problem if your top priority is protecting the property value and lifestyles of the landed gentry. We need to build more apartments, condominiums and townhouses, in multiple projects of various sizes spread throughout the City. Our priority should be meeting the needs of those who will be the future of Davis and not those who remain stuck in the past.

          1. David Greenwald

            I consider the property value argument a red herring – I don’t think many are motivated by that. I don’t think even a relatively moderate amount of new development is going to lower property values. Most people who own homes in Davis are in it for the long haul, not to sell it.

        3. Mark West

          “I consider the property value argument a red herring”

          Since a large proportion of our housing stock (majority?) is owned by investors I think property value is, in fact, a major consideration. ‘Lifestyle’ protection is the concern most frequently voiced, however.

          1. David Greenwald

            But those “investors” are not reflective of voters as a whole. And most of them are pro-development.

        4. Mark West

          “But those “investors” are not reflective of voters as a whole. And most of them are pro-development.”

          I doubt that assumption is true. It probably is true for the property management companies, but not so for the many investors with one or just a few homes.

          1. David Greenwald

            Unfortunately we have no data here, only assumptions. That makes for a problematic discussion and a problematic course of public policy.

        5. CalAg

          “For good reason. But if we were able to meet the needs of students and seniors, it would free some up for my demographic.” David Greenwald

          We can call this the “Greenwald theory of trickle-down housing.”

          Provide the resources to those that already have more than their fair share in the hopes that the benefits will trickle down to those that have gotten the short end of the stick.

          The housing stock is out of balance. Too much multi-family. Too many renters relative to owners. This is fundamentally changing the character of Davis.

          The smarter way to approach the demographic problem is to build smaller family-friendly homes for the 25-55 demographic.

        6. Matt Williams

          CalAg said . . . “The smarter way to approach the demographic problem is to build smaller family-friendly homes for the 25-55 demographic.”

          That solution sounds good in theory, but is severely challenged in reality.  Sydney Vergis and I wrestled with this issue when I was On the DJUSD’s Nugget Fields Divestiture Committee.  The young parents (or parents-to-be) in Sydney’s age bracket were more than happy to express theoretical demand for smaller single family homes, but when they were confronted with the comparative lot sizes of Woodland homes and comparably priced Davis homes, their “theoretical” demand never became “actual” demand, and they purchased their kid-friendly homes in Woodland.  Empty nest young professional families probably are more inclined to buy in Davis, but the minute that they think about play space for kids or kids-to-be things change.

        7. Matt Williams

          Theoretical demand . . . agreed. Actual demand from couples with children . . . I suspect not so much.

          I will be glad to sit down with as many young couples as you can find who represent actual demand.

          As a real-life example of what I mean, the developers of Willowbank Park, after unsuccessfully marketing the 14 units of their development that fit your criteria, came back to the City with a revised plan that made the yards larger . . . and the prices of the SFRs rose into the high $700’s.

        8. CalAg

          “… that fit your criteria …”

          Regarding your predictable knee-jerk rebuttal – you have no idea what my criteria are for smaller family-friendly homes designed to serve the 25-55 demographic.

        9. Matt Williams

          CalAg said . . . “Regarding your predictable knee-jerk rebuttal – you have no idea what my criteria are for smaller family-friendly homes designed to serve the 25-55 demographic.”

          Not a rebuttal.  That would be appropriate for a debate.  Simply a sharing of information that I have gleaned from both that DJUSD Nugget Fields experience and subsequent interactions with people who have chosen to buy houses in Woodland rather than in Davis.  They clearly wanted to live in Davis (theoretical demand), but wanted the larger yards and lower prices of Spring Lake (actual demand) even more.  It is all part of a dialogue.

          With that said, I am very interested in hearing about what your criteria are for smaller family-friendly homes designed to serve the 25-55 demographic in Davis.  I am all ears.

           

      1. Tia Will

        Frankly

        Demographics matter.  Our institutions exist to serve all demographics.”

        I agree with this. One problem that I see is that favoring any specific demographic is problematic. That is equally as true whether it is seniors, or demonizing seniors in favor of the 25-55 demographic, or saying that we must fill our schools with more students.

        If one believes in a free society, then one has to accept that one cannot control whether others choose to have children .It was either you or your doppelgänger that once stated on this blog that it was selfish of people not to have children so as to propagate your favored demographic over others. One also has to accept the fact that each person has the right to act in what they see as their best interest and that of their own children/family/neighborhood. But we interestingly enough, we don’t all perceive the same options as “best” and this becomes a source of bitter contention, when it should simply be an issue to address.

        1. Mark West

           “One problem that I see is that favoring any specific demographic is problematic.”

          I agree, which is why we need to stop favoring the 55+ demographic and their desire to maintain their ‘lifestyle’ at the expense of everyone else.

      2. hpierce

        David, your 5:39 post re: concerns about property value being a “red herring”…

        You are in serious denial… affordable projects are VERY subject to activists worried about that, even if they have learned to couch their terms in other ways…, including “traffic”, “congestion”, and sometimes “crime” (although that has been refuted so often, most have abandoned that latter “argument”… current example… suspect that part of the Rancho Yolo angst is about fear of rent increases for their spaces, or even “re-development” of the park …

        In the late 70’s, early 80’s the City gave SF entitlements out with an eye-dropper… then it was very evident that “property-values” was in play as an argument to limit new SF housing stock… and then, the developers supported it, as it increased the value of their paper lots.  at the time,mortgage interest rates were in the double digits.

        ‘Supply and demand’ are real as to affordability/property values in Davis… even if folk are in it for “the long haul”, many thinking ones are aware how valuable their existing homes are… for ‘estate purposes’, security if they ever need to go the reverse mortgage route, etc.   It’s not just ‘flippers’, and is definitely not a ‘myth’.  Probably 80% of homeowners DO NOT think in terms of property values, but ~ 20% probably do… and tend to be the most vocal.  But they have learned that the “property value appreciation” thing doesn’t sell well (pun intended).  So, they use terms like ‘traffic’, neighborhood “values” (read ‘property values’), ‘quality of life’ (realtors use that a lot), etc.

        To us, the property value is a nice side benefit, but it’s mainly shelter, and our “place” to live.

  15. David Greenwald

    Part of what is blocking 25-55 demographic – I’m one of them btw – is lack of housing options.  Not only is lack of new homes a problem, but lack of rental housing has pushed more and more students into single family homes and prevented the 25-55 group from finding places to live.

    1. Frankly

      Well yes, but in relative terms your housing problem pales in comparison to the problem you would have in the Bay Area.

      What it really comes down to is the cost of housing relative to the economic opportunity that residents have to earn enough to pay for the cost of housing.

      This is the imbalance that Davis has.

      Even you with your non-profit blog would benefit in increased income from more local business like mine that would support you.

  16. The Pugilist

    “So, according to Greenwald, the solution is to build more multifamily housing so that the UCD students don’t get restless and vote down Measure R? Really?”

    Seems reasonable that if we have a shortage and can build a few apartments, we can at least alleviate some of the pressure even if it doesn’t solve the problem.  No?

    1. CalAg

       

      We can’t build enough student housing to make the problem go away – particularly in an environment where Katehi can simply bring in more students if/when the student housing demand softens.

      1. David Greenwald

        You are correct, we can’t build enough to make the problem go away, but Sterling and Nishi would be close to 3000 bed, that along with what the campus is planning to do would take a serious crunch into the number. I’m not saying those are the only possibilities, but it doesn’t take a huge number to cut into the need.

        1. South of Davis

          David wrote:

          > Sterling and Nishi would be close to 3000 bed

          Does anyone know how many apartments/bedrooms they plan to build on the Cannery site and when the apartment construction plans to start?

        2. CalAg

          “You are correct, we can’t build enough to make the problem go away,” DG

          I’m glad that you finally get this. Now the next step is to understand the implications of the fact that the City controls supply but UC controls demand.

          It is a fool’s errand for Davis to further distort its unhealthy balance between MF and SF when UC can increase enrollments without any regard to the planning needs of the community.

          On top of the 5,000 student hit from Katehi’s 2020 plan, we’re also going to be hit with UCD’s allocation of in-state students from Napolitano’s recent plan to add 10,000 new in-state students system-wide by 2018. The Katehi and Napolitano decisions directly increase housing demand in the City of Davis, and neither were made with the advice and/or consent of city leadership.

          The near-term impact of the Katehi/Napolitano actions will be a population increase of >10,000 for Davis and surrounding communities when you also factor in faculty, staff, grad students, and families.

          Davis can’t adsorb this and we shouldn’t try. The best we can do is try to maintain a sustainable city and this means more attention to the 25-55 demographic and jobs.

          1. David Greenwald

            “I’m glad that you finally get this. ”

            I consider this patronizing. Particularly since I’ve never said otherwise.

  17. Mark West

    Tia Will: “Our institutions exist to serve the population, not the other way around.”

    I agree with this statement, and what the demographic shift is telling us is that the institution of City Government is not serving the needs of the 25-55 demographic. We are doing a fine job of preserving what was for the retiree population, but we have failed to provide opportunities for the younger cohort. It isn’t a matter of one or the other, but rather our goal should be to balance the needs of those at the end of their professional lives with those at the beginning of theirs. The demographics data shows the impact of placing too much weight on protecting the lifestyles and home values of those 55 and above, and not enough on creating good jobs and entry level housing for young professionals.  The young professionals are here in the community, we are just doing a poor job of meeting their needs. It is time for the institution of City Government to change and start addressing those needs.

    1. Frankly

      So why wouldn’t a soon to be retiree like Tia live plan on living in Sun City in Lincoln Hills with all the other retirees?  Or maybe Dixon where she could have that small rural city feel that she so desires?

      I am guessing that those places don’t have the vibe she likes… a vibe that is provided to Davis by the university that resides here…. a university that is funded by the students that attend here.

      And so Tia benefits from that vibe but opposes housing development, commercial development (more good jobs) and downtown services that would help “pay it back” to those students that are the reason the vibe exists.

      From my perspective that is the essence of selfishness and greed.  Or at the very least it is thankless.

      I think Don Shor made the point that Davis without UCD would be Dixon.  That seems about right.

      If folks like Tia don’t want to live in Dixon and want to retire in Davis, they better start paying it forward in support of the reasons they like living in Davis and not Dixon.  Those reasons are the students.

      1. South of Davis

        Frankly wrote:

        > I think Don Shor made the point that Davis without UCD would be Dixon.

        Since Davis has never voted down a school parcel tax more and more young families are buying lower cost homes in Dixon, not paying any parcel taxes and sending their kids to school in Davis.

  18. Ron

    Regarding the 35-55 demographic (who presumably want to purchase houses), we’re nowhere close to finishing the Cannery.  (I went in there a few weeks ago, and they told me that prices actually dropped due to weak demand.)  Some of the houses in the Cannery include granny units, which could be rented out.  Chiles Ranch is coming up soon, as well.  There may be others in the pipeline.

    Regardless, I don’t buy into the argument that the lack of a particular demographic is a reason to abandon controls regarding sprawl or accept developments that drastically change the character of any particular neighborhood.  Nor do I buy into the argument that we need to abandon controls or accept such developments, because we’re afraid of what the next election might bring. (Frankly, I think the arguments will continue, regardless.)

    Many people who live in Davis actually work in Sacramento.  I did this, for many years.  A “lack of good jobs” is not an accurate statement, really.  (City finances may be another matter.  However, this is due to the endless construction of new residences, without controlling costs (or – matching costs with revenue).

    Davis is the only city in the entire region that places some reasonable controls on development.  (I wish that other cities would consider this, as well.)  Regardless, Davis is still growing (and will continue to do so).  Developers will continue to try to chip away at those controls (or eliminate them entirely).

  19. Frankly

    The weak demand in the Cannery is due to the combination of greed and land preservation extremism.  The land preservation extremism means little land to develop on.  The greed is the developer trying to cram big houses on tiny lots to maximize his profit.

    Nobody wants a big expensive house on a tiny lot.  They would rather have a smaller still expensive house on a larger lot.

    They are dropping the prices because of their mistakes building a stupid compromise that nobody really wants.

  20. Frankly

    However, I’m frankly getting tired of debating this, with people who don’t see the value of maintaining controls on growth.

    Everything is relative.  You may look like a no-growth extremist to some.  I might look like a no-control growth advocate to others.  I think if you expect to convince people to develop your view of what controls on growth are, you will be frustrated and disappointed.  The best you can do is make your case to convince those that don’t yet have a strong opinion.

  21. Ron

    Frankly:  “Everything is relative.  You may look like a no-growth extremist to some.  I might look like a no-control growth advocate to others.  I think if you expect to convince people to develop your view of what controls on growth are, you will be frustrated and disappointed.  The best you can do is make your case to convince those that don’t yet have a strong opinion.”

    That is indeed good advice.  I suspect that most of those who read these forums already have an opinion, or a tendency to lean one way or another.  I think we all sometimes become frustrated when anyone implies that our goals are formed primarily by self-interest, etc. (regardless of one’s point of view).  I have respect for your opinion, since you state your self-interest “up-front” (e.g., commercial loans).  I also don’t doubt that you honestly believe your statements (and often make valid points).

    1. Frankly

      True – I am in the business of creating jobs throughout the state by financing the properties that small businesses need.  I know small business very well. And facility is key.  Business begins, exists and grows generally around their commercial property.  There are really just three primary ingredients (assuming products or services of value): human talent, capital and facility.  My job is focused on the last, and some of the second.  Davis has a lot of the first.

      I believe we should all be free to pursue our own self interest, as long as it is not causing material harm to others.  But we should give back in some way to compensate for what we get.  In my view the way to give back should be based on improving the human condition… especially for young people that need to start their path to making a good life for themself.

      And the way I look at it, we are blessed to live in Davis… to have the wealth or income that allows us to own a home here… or even rent here.  And one way to give back improving the human condition is to support some development… espcially commercial development… because a good job is one of greatest contributors to improving a human’s condition.

      That’s my perspective on it all.

  22. Misanthrop

    “I consider the property value argument a red herring – I don’t think many are motivated by that.”

    LOL, obviously written by someone who has never had an equity stake in a home.

    “But those ‘investors’ are not reflective of voters as a whole. And most of them are pro-development.”

    Mike Harrington is not pro-development but he owns a number of properties. The same can be said about Sue Greenwald.

  23. TrueBlueDevil

    Given the never-ending discussions about racism and diversity issues here, I’m surprised David didn’t cry wolf over the candidates all being white males. Is it possible they are all the worst variety, straight white males?

    Second, in his analysis, where are his racism-is-everywhere concerns?

    Roads appear to be an issue everywhere in California. On residential streets in Sonoma this weekend, the roads were shockingly poor. Going over the Richmond Bridge, I saw through pot holes to the rebar below.

        1. hpierce

          Ah, the Thai that binds… (sorry, couldn’t resist)… in our extended family, we also have several mixed race families… all are doing quite well…

  24. Misanthrop

    “Second, in his analysis, where are his racism-is-everywhere concerns?”

    He probably figured he would let the racists raise the issue and so he didn’t bother.

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