Councilmember Swanson Issues Blunt Statements on the Future at Measure A Kickoff Event

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Councilmember Rochelle Swanson delivers the keynote address at the Yes on A Kickoff at the Natsoulas Art Gallery

The Yes on Measure A campaign formally kicked off on Thursday with a good sized crowd at the Natsoulas Art Gallery in Downtown Davis.  The event featured a notably and unusually large number of students and people under 30.

The Vanguard was invited mainly to report on the remarks made by Councilmember Rochelle Swanson, the keynote speaker for the event.

Councilmember Swanson talked about the importance of Nishi, which she said “is especially important for all of the young people in the room because we are at a pivot point right now.”  She said that “whether or not this is approved at the ballot box, and whether or not we actually put words into action, it’s your futures.”

“A lot of people that are opposing this campaign,” she said pointedly, “they got theirs.  They’re done, they got their home.”  She said, “I think it’s time to really call it like it is.”

She issued an apology to the business community “and all of the people that supported me looking for a leader and to have real leadership and lead from the front.  I think that a lot of us have been getting it wrong, we’ve been careful, we’ve been concerned as we should be… but we stopped being audacious a little while ago.”

“When the economy was down – we all were on board about revenue, we all were on board about what are we going to do about jobs, what are going to do about saving our downtown,” she said.  “Frankly, we all got a lot a bit complacent.”

“This isn’t about innovation parks, or a tech park, this is about jobs,” Councilmember Swanson stated.  “I know a lot of people like to use innovation like it’s a bad thing, but the reality is we have to innovate jobs that are being replaced by computers and automation and by changes in industry.  That’s what innovation is and that’s what we do.  That’s what UC Davis does, that’s what Sac State, that’s what the JC’s do.”

Yes-on-A

“We are an education mecca and need to behave like it,” she said.  “We’re the home of UC Davis – and we’re not doing the part in our community.”

Ms. Swanson noted that she was at a Greater Sacramento conference the past few days, and that “a lot of companies want to be in Davis, they don’t want to be in other communities.”  She said, while they were “all very excited,” at the same time it was “depressing” because “we saw the metrics.”  “We are 58 percent higher in our region over other regions on dependence on government jobs,” she said.  “We don’t have any diversity and those are going to shrink.”

Rochelle Swanson noted that Davis likes to brag that it’s the second most-educated city in the country.  “Wrong,” she said.  “We’re not.  We’re not even close.”

She said, “We’re eighth in California and everybody else is in the Bay but us.”  She said, “But how much longer is that going to happen?”

Her answer, “Not much longer.”  She cited the stat out of UC Davis – 75 percent of grads leave the region.

“We’re not paying it forward if we don’t get involved,” she admonished.  “People made this community great for us.  People before us.”

She said that “people are going to complain about traffic, about affordable housing, that’s what I see on the signs.”  Ms. Swanson explained why we have a problem on Richards – “it’s because we’re broke.”  She said, “We are broke and we need revenue and the revenue is going to come from tax measures or from jobs.”

A large audience with large numbers of young people
A large audience with large numbers of young people

One of the problems, she said, is that students wanting to do an internship have to get in their car, drive into Sacramento or Roseville and then drive back to go to their first class.  “That’s why we’re so far behind,” she explained.

She said the difference between Madison (Wisconsin), Raleigh-Durham (North Carolina), or Boulder (Colorado), “the difference is they have innovation centers.  They don’t have a small one, they have a couple of them.  This is step one.”

“This is not we do this, we get this done, we’re done,” she said.  “We’re not done.  We can’t rest.”

“I can tell you what’s going to happen if this does not pass,” Rochelle Swanson warned.  First, we tell the region that we had our stuff together for a brief time, but we don’t anymore.  “More importantly it tells the Bay Area, we are a ‘no go’.”

She said, “I am working consistently on a weekly basis to land some pretty amazing companies here – they want to be here.  In the last month I have met with two multi-million dollar investment funds.  Guess where they want to have their investment fund at?”

She said they want to come to our innovation centers, but they can’t because one of them is on hold.

“I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, I want to be excited.  I’m normally the cheerleader – but we need to be scared.  When you see people sit there and say, we don’t need this, think critically, use your education –why?  How does it affect them?  Do they have kids in our schools?”

Project Manager Tim Ruff laughs at the Measure A video
Project Manager Tim Ruff laughs at the Measure A video

She noted that we should be scared about the number of inter-district transfers we are relying on.  “We are educating everyone else’s kids, we keep passing parcel taxes, and our schools are still falling apart,” she said.  “This campaign is directly tied to that.  We got to tell that story.”

“Start challenging those people who want us to be an innovative community,” she said.  “Ask them why.”  She added, “Are they going to pop out a dollar checkbook?  $500 per parcel.  According to one of my colleagues who is very good with numbers, $5000 per parcel.”

“We have millions and millions of dollars in debt, in back maintenance, which is catching up to us because future councils, and future community leaders did not see the long term impacts of the recession, they didn’t see what was going to happen when the job markets were changing.”

She went back to the issue of traffic and noted, “If you drive around all of our roads, not just Richards, there has always been a will to improve things, there just hasn’t been money.”

The take home point was, “We are at an inflection point of our community.”  She said, “We have a .2 percent vacancy rate in Davis – that is not going to cut it.  We need to quit being scared – housing prices aren’t going to fall because we have a couple of innovation centers.  Or because we have grad student housing so we don’t lose people back to the Bay.”

Students examine the project display
Students examine the project display

She called the 75 percent exit rate for UC Davis grads “mind blowing.”  She said, “The same things are cited every time, no job, no housing.  But no jobs is the bigger one.”

“I’m going to be more courageous, I’m going to think more critically, and I’m going to get back in people’s faces when they say that we don’t need this.  But I can’t do this alone.  It takes three on the dais but it takes a whole community to come together.”

She said, “One of the things that they talked about this week at the retreat – is that you look at the region like an engine and you need to have six pistons – I think we need eight, I think we’re a V-8 region if we do it right – we are one of those pistons.”

“If we don’t do our part, nobody else can do their part,” she said.  “We are the home of UC Davis and we need to behave like it and own it and be able to do the jumpstart and be able to be the thing that makes everybody else excited.”

She read a quote: “Vision without execution is a hallucination.”  Thomas Edison.

She said, “That is what we’ve done – we’ve planned, we’ve planned.”  “Paralysis by analysis, Davis gets an A-plus in that.”  She added, “But I love this community.”

Her ask, “Think critically.  Be strong.  Be courageous.  We can’t afford to allow other people  to handle our responsibilities.  This is an inflection point.  I cannot lead without other people being behind me and being in the same direction.

“This is the one thing we got to preserve what we have.  People are scared of change.  Things are going to change and not for the better, but for the worse if we fail in this vote.”

Yes-on-A-18

Yes-on-A-19

Tim Ruff addresses the audience
Tim Ruff addresses the audience

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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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92 thoughts on “Councilmember Swanson Issues Blunt Statements on the Future at Measure A Kickoff Event”

  1. Barack Palin

    She called the 75% exit rate for UC Davis grads “mind blowing.” 

    What is the average rate for grads leaving the community of most colleges?

    At UCD we have @ 8,000 grads per year so if we are retaining 25% that’s a healthy influx of 2000 grads that become residents per year.

    I don’t see 75% of grads leaving as a problem.

    1. Frankly

      I think there is a good VG article and discussion related to this.  I see your point, but then I think there is also an opportunity cost to factor.  We have them here and have to put up with their student ways.  Then about the time they grow up and could be giving back to the community after spending the previous 4-6 years urinating and puking all over us, we say bye-bye.  Maybe 25% staying is a good number, but I suspect we are losing not only 75%, but 75% of the more talented and capable.  The 25% that remain are probably the liberal arts grads that work in coffee shops and restaurants and demand a higher minimum wage and vote for CC members that keep over-paying the city employees.

  2. Biddlin

    Go, Rochelle! Good luck! I’m betting you lose, but it is a battle worth fighting. It appears that “Those who got” in Davis are formidable foes.

  3. Tia Will

    BP

    Agreed. If we had that many former students staying in the community every year, how long would it be before we looked exactly like the most congested parts of Silicon Valley look now. Is that really the vision that Rochelle Swanson has for the community ?

    “But I love this community.”

    Does she ?  Or does she not realize that the kind of change for which she is advocating at the speed she is advocating will forever preclude future generations from enjoying the advantages of the community that she claims to love. Must we always be looking at other communities with envy for what they have that we do not ?  Why cannot we not appreciate the strengths and beauty of our own community without attempting to turn it into the next Silicon Valley ?

    1. Frankly

       Why cannot we not appreciate the strengths and beauty of our own community without attempting to turn it into the next Silicon Valley ?

      First point… you are being hyperbolic.

      Second point… have you even looked at the roads and considered the several hundred million in unfunded liabilities?

      Or, are you just a denier of these truths that are inconvenient to your views?

  4. Barack Palin

    I’m leaning towards voting yes on Nishi but think about the fiscal benefits of this project.   All it will take is Swanson and a couple of her coherts voting to give firefighters and police the same type of raise they recently gave out to other employees and the Nishi revenue is gone.

  5. Tia Will

    I am writing as someone who is currently in support of and will probably vote Yes on Nishi. However, I found Rochelle’s comments both hypocritical and appalling.

    “A lot of people that are opposing this campaign,” she said pointedly, “they got theirs.  They’re done, they got their home.”  She said, “I think it’s time to really call it like it is.”

    “It takes three on the dais but it takes a whole community to come together.”

    Last Saturday, while at Farmer’s Market, I stopped to speak with a group of very young, eager students who were tabling for Measure A. One young women, prior to knowing my position, informed me that the opposition was just a bunch of greedy people who already had their homes in Davis. I wondered first where she had gotten this idea, and secondly who had coached her on her tabling technique. I guess I need look no further. If I were someone who based my decision on glib and insulting comments, she would have successfully just changed my vote from a “yes” to a “no”.

    Now this is not surprising coming from a student, part of whose job in life is to learn how best express ideas and influence others. But from a City Council member and leader who claims to represent the entire community this kind of divisive classist, ageist, good guy vs bad guy view of the world is appalling.

    There are good reasons for supporting Nishi. There are good reasons to oppose it. A true leader will be happy to point out both and then explain why they believe that their position should hold sway. The thought that belittling the views of others in this manner is worthy of expression at a public event is clear evidence that the speaker was not, at least on this occasion, acting as a representative of the entire community, but rather was willing to pit one part of her constituency against another to further her goal. Hardly consistent that it takes the entire community coming together, when you yourself are writing off those who do not agree with you.

    And please note, I am not “twisting her words”, I am taking her at her word.

     

    1. Misanthrop

      The young person at the table probably got that line from me. Perhaps you are a little miffed by being called out by people who view people like yourself differently than you view yourself.

      1. Tia Will

        Misanthrop

        The young person at the table probably got that line from me. Perhaps you are a little miffed by being called out by people who view people like yourself differently than you view yourself.”

        Since I am unacquainted with the young woman in question, and since she was unaware of the Vanguard, and since I was clearly on the same side of the issue as she, but much more knowledgeable about the issues ( as pointed out by one of her fellow tablers…..not me) I doubt she had the ability to form any valid view of me at all. Miffed had nothing to do with it. Why would she have “called me out” on an issue on which we are on the same side ?

    2. Mark West

      RS:  ““A lot of people that are opposing this campaign,” she said pointedly, “they got theirs.  They’re done, they got their home.”  She said, “I think it’s time to really call it like it is.”

      TW: “But from a City Council member and leader who claims to represent the entire community this kind of divisive classist, ageist, good guy vs bad guy view of the world is appalling.”

      Rochelle nailed it!  She is exactly right and I am happy to see her come forward as a leader. We need to rescue the City from the undue influence of the irrational and selfish and create a positive future for the community. We have hundreds of millions in unfunded obligations which will require much more than a ‘bake sale’ to address. Creating jobs through business development is the obvious way forward, and Measure A is the first step. Lead, follow, or get out of the way.

        1. Frankly

          Not really Jim.  You can lead to an alternative.  I don’t think you really understand the point of this statement.

          Critics are a dime a dozen.  They are really quite useless at some point after we have debated all the pros and cons of something and need to make a decision and move on.  We should just use them to raise the water level at the lake so I can launch my ski boat at the ramp.  At least then they will be doing somebody some good.

        2. hpierce

          A lovely sound bite that appeals to simple minds and dismisses the views of others.

          Sorry Jim, however “dismissive” Mr West was, in your opinion, you sure replied “in kind”… something about an eye for an eye?

           

        3. Mark West

          Jim Frame:  “A lovely sound bite that appeals to simple minds and dismisses the views of others.”

          Funny, and to a point, true, but then again so is “just say no,” which is clearly the unstated mantra of many of the noisiest opponents of progress. I have been anything but simple-minded in my calls of for a comprehensive solution to the City’s fiscal problems. A combination of business development (and concomitant job growth), tax increases and cost containment, are hardly simple-minded ideas. The simple-minded approach is to continue with the policies that created the mess in the first place, which is exactly what the opponents to Measure A are advocating.  When I hear solid ideas from those who disagree with me, I listen and learn from them.  When I hear gibberish, I dismiss it for what it is. I am happy that Rochelle has decided to step forward and actively lead and trust that the community will get behind her. I hope, Jim, that you will choose to do more than simply be another critic.

           

        4. Jim Frame

          I don’t think you really understand the point of this statement.

           

          I think I do.  To paraphrase, “Everyone needs to think like I do.”

          The sound bite appeals to simple minds that can’t see past the false universe of choices, i.e. either lead, follow or get out of the way.  That universe actually contains many more choices, among which are not to lead, not to follow and not to get out of the way.

          But hpierce has it right, it was my inherent resistance to those with no authority trying to tell me what to do that elicited my response.  I suppose a more direct response would have been a simple “No,” especially since that’s more polite than “Stuff it.”

        5. hpierce

          Jim… re:  your 4:05 post… Amen… feel free to call me out if I do a “tit for tat” thing…  am capable of it (and, have done it) when I’m not listening to ‘my better angels’…

      1. Tia Will

        Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”

        The phrase frequently trotted out when one has nothing of substance to say. As usual, you have chosen to act as though I am opposing “progress” when what I am actually doing is asking for our leaders to be representative of the entire community, not dismissive of those who have legitimate concerns.

        1. hpierce

          So, by the “entire community” if there is 15 % who believe in “x”, 65% who believe in “y” (which is mutually opposed to “x”), and the  rest undecided/couldn’t care, do you expect the ‘leaders’ to champion the 15%?

          Just looking for clarification… hypothetically…

    3. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      >  I found Rochelle’s comments both hypocritical and appalling.

      But didn’t let us know what she felt was hypocritical or appalling.

      Unlike Tia I don’t know what people are thinking and maybe the majority of people opposed to Nishi just want to “protect people from living so close to I80 exhaust fumes”, but I find it interesting that everyone I have met that is opposed to the Nishi project owns real estate in town (and many of the No on A signs are posted on the lawns of people who own multiple properties in town)…

      P.S. To Tia do you know of even a single person looking to buy a home in Davis that has publicly come out against Measure A?

      1. Tia Will

        South of Davis

        I put the two quotes that I found, in the same speech, to be hypocritical. I made no claim to “knowing what Rochelle is thinking”, I quoted her words as reported by David.

        I also have no idea why you are questioning me about “who has come out against Measure A” since I have stated repeatedly my own likely support for it ?

      2. Jim Frame

        I find it interesting that everyone I have met that is opposed to the Nishi project owns real estate in town (and many of the No on A signs are posted on the lawns of people who own multiple properties in town)…

         

        There’s an important distinction to be made in this regard:  that between individual homeowners and those whose business (primary or secondary) is owning and managing rental real estate.

        I can see how someone who makes his/her living (or substantial percentage thereof) from renting houses or apartments might oppose any development that adds housing.  It wouldn’t be a very community-oriented approach, but it can be defended as a legitimate (if somewhat cut-throat) business decision.  However, the charge we hear more often — and the one apparently made by Rochelle — is that people who own only the home they live in selfishly oppose new development in order to protect and enhance their investment.

        I can’t recall a single person of my acquaintance who has ever expressed the latter view.  I know it’s not something that ever crosses my mind, and didn’t even when I owned a rental property many years ago.  I’m inclined to believe that it’s a perspective held by very few.

    4. Frankly

      Tia – Here is your problem on this topic.

      You don’t like the being lumped into this bad guy column and resent it when others attempt to put you there.

      If I can take a stab at distilling down your position (I’m sure you will correct me if I am wrong), you would prefer everyone of means just pay more taxes to fund city services instead of growing our local economy to do so.  You connect that position to your greater “scarcity” position… that everyone can and should lead a less material life.  That we can and should all have smaller and more energy-efficient houses and cars… and in fact we should just get rid of the cars.  And those without means to afford housing in this city should be subsidized by those of means (the basic socialist Marxist principle of “from each according to his ability, to those according to his needs.”)

      The problem with this position is that it is fanciful.  It is completely infeasible.  I think you know this.

      In summary you would rather see higher property taxes and higher sales taxes, but implemented in some progressive form where the more income you make the more you pay and those below a certain line of income pay nothing… and even get subsidized.  Never mind for the moment that the federal and state government already does that to extreme and thus there is much less money in the kitty to fund these idea of yours… the hard fact is that there are absolutely no mechanisms in place to even support these idea.

      You can’t just throw out these fanciful ideas without explaining how you would implement them and expect others to see them as credible.   You tend to throw them out with the expectation that someone else should do that work.

      If you could explain how it could be done, I might get behind it.  But it can’t and you won’t so I won’t.

      We can raise property taxes and sales taxes, but then we would raise them on people of all income levels.

      And even if we could find some way to implement this fanciful idea for the rich to pay more to keep Davis more to your liking, you seem to gloss right over the negative considerations.  Namely that we would forgo the local jobs and we would forgo having enough housing for the students.

      And despite your hard work to seek some nuanced middle ground above the fray of the bad guy label, this is absolutely a point worthy of criticism.  You have a nice home and a nice rental property in town.  You have a very good job.  Why do you think you should be above this level of criticism for advocating for development policy that prevents so many others from the same?

  6. MidCentury

    There are already opportunities for innovation companies to locate in Davis.

    http://www.loopnet.com/California/Davis-Commercial-Real-Estate/3/

    The ones that really want to be here find a way to make it work. The ones that don’t are likely not a good fit for the community anyway. Companies like Schilling Robotics started in a garage space on Olive Drive. I bet the low rent and humble beginnings were critical in the company’s  initial success. A fancy new building with high costs makes it harder for a fledgling company to succeed. Make no mistake; Nishi is about generating revenue through development more than providing a location for startups. It could be an OK project, but it’s just in a location with fatal flaws.

    1. Frankly

      You seem to be a bit out of your league understanding business and the facilities they need.  By the way, do you live in an apartment or a house with a yard?

      1. MidCentury

        Frankly
        April 28, 2016 at 10:27 am

        You seem to be a bit out of your league understanding business and the facilities they need.  By the way, do you live in an apartment or a house with a yard?

        As a business owner, and as part of a successful startup, I have a pretty good idea of what kind of facilities a business needs.

        You seem to be out of your league trying to stereotype opponents of this project.

        1. Frankly

          A fancy new building with high costs makes it harder for a fledgling company to succeed.

          First, where do you suggest they get old buildings with lower costs?

          Second, since you are so business savvy, what do you think the cost to the business will be selecting a building that does not meet their space needs?

  7. Michael Harrington

    The No on Nishi committee often chats with many of those young, super nice people on the Yes side. Almost all are being paid very good money indeed to promote Yes.  They are generally not aware that there are no affordable units for students or that the air quality will be very hazardous to lungs.

    All  this chaos and public expense for maybe 660 luxery apts and some business space that could go many other places in Davis?

    Sad indeed

    1. Tia Will

      Frankly

      If I can take a stab at distilling down your position “

      You know what I would just love ?  I would love it if you didn’t attempt to “distill my position” or “guess what I am thinking. I have stated many, many times here what I would prefer….a balanced approach with increased taxes, increased businesses appropriate to the nature of our communities proximity to the university, and more responsible spending. When you, or Mark, or any other grow as fast as we can proponent says essentially the same thing, you agree. When I say it, because my prioritization would be different from yours, it must not be what I really mean.

      You connect that position to your greater “scarcity” position… that everyone can and should lead a less material life”

      I have never connected that position to “scarcity”. I do believe that we should strive to leave a less material life. But that is not about scarcity. Good heavens, look around you. We are far, far away from scarcity. What we actually have is far, far too much. We are awash in too much. Too much food, so we throw tons away. Too many cars clogging our roads. Too many products to be sold with advertising everywhere to convince us that we “need” some product that has never been shown to be of any benefit of all. Too much advertising of products whose only effect is to sicken and ultimately kill us ( cigarettes ? sugar packed products ?) We live as though the earth had endless resources and in doing so we destroy the environment. This is not about scarcity, it is about responsible and sustainable use.

      You have a nice home and a nice rental property in town.  You have a very good job.  Why do you think you should be above this level of criticism for advocating for development policy that prevents so many others from the same?”

      I have answered this point many, many times but I guess I can keep repeating since you keep asking. Because I felt exactly the same way about development when I was sharing a room and did not know if I ever would have a good job and property. I will ask you the same question that I asked South of Davis. At what lower level of affluence would you believe in the consistency of my motivation ? Would you have believed when I was sharing that room ?  How about when I had enough money to rent my own room ?  My own apartment ? Did I only become greedy and selfish when I was able to buy my own house ?  If that is true, how do you explain my consistency of thought regardless of my financial circumstances ?  Don’t worry….I am fully expecting to hear “crickets”.

  8. Misanthrop

    Rochelle you are my hero. Its about time people started taking off the gloves to fight back against the sclerotic Davisites who got theirs and don’t care about anyone else.

  9. WesC

    75% of grads leave the region.  The “region” is all of the Sacramento area of which Davis is actually a pretty small part.

    I also do not see this as a problem.

  10. noname

    “I’m going to be more courageous,” Rochelle Swanson says, “except when it comes to pulling compensation packages we can’t afford off the consent calendar. Then I’m going to blame someone else for not doing that.”

  11. Jim Gray

    Congratulations to the Yes on Measure A Committee for such a good and positive campaign launch. As the Vanguard reported there was a very good sized crowd of supporters with a wide mix of ages and diversity representative of the City and the Campus.

    Rochelle Swanson’s remarks were so important and such a change in approach.  Rochelle characterized that our City is at a crossroads — as she called it an “inflection point”. We can either be passive and let the debate be set by the forces of “no-growth” and “fear of change crowd” or we can — as Rochelle did– focus on the positive and what will be lost if we don’t pursue  the opportunities.

    Long term  community benefits and civic amenities like jobs, additional student housing, 20+ million dollars in private infrastructure enhancements, cutting edge design , internship opportunities, close proximity of innovation and collaboration with the core campus… etc etc…There are so many reasons to support Measure A.

    The debate is being re-focused..It is not so much what will the detrimental impacts be if Measure A is approved… But what will be the  lost opportunities and benefits if Measure A is not Supported?

    I want to commend the Measure A Advocates for such a positive campaign launch and publicly thank Rochelle for her leadership and well articulated insights!

    1. Doby Fleeman

      Jim,

      I wholeheartedly agree with your comments about the launch and about Councilmember Swanson’s enthusiastic and heart-felt belief in the importance of new employment opportunities for today’s younger generations.

       

      I am disappointed however that the analysis conducted by the city’s consultants seems to have stopped with their singular attention to the amount of taxes generated and potential environmental impacts of the projects.   Obviously important parts of a responsible review, but far from the whole story.

      What really has been missing is this connecting of the dots between our needs and our very real potential to provide meaningful and well-paying employment opportunities for today’s workforce. Even more, it is disappointing there has been so little discussion about the incredible benefits to local school districts (specifically in the areas of funding and scholarships), opportunities to match aspiring young students with internships in new technology companies, and the boost in local philanthropy that has been so well documented in communities across the country where new technologies have been successfully harnessed to produce new product together with exciting new careers.

      In the coming weeks, hopefully we will be hearing more about such success stories and the opportunities they could present, and the differences they could make, for our citizens of Davis.

      To refrain Councilmember Swanson’s comment “we are at pivot point right now” and that point really needs to be brought home to the Davis community.  That is the task remaining.

  12. The Pugilist

    There are a lot of important things in here.

    1.  We need jobs

    2. We need rental housing

    Rochelle referred “paralysis by analysis” there is a compendium to that – “paralysis by analysis of minutiae.”

    The reality is that most of the people who are against Nishi have a job and they have and own a home.  So we hear about affordable housing from people like Michael Harrington who have been opposed to affordable housing.  And we hear about traffic.

    If you were offered a job that required you to commute through traffic – would you take it?  Of course.  But when someone else is offered a job – 1500 someone else’s in this case, suddenly congestion becomes a road too far.

    We have opportunities that we are squandering and it’s sad because this is not going to be a great community for long at the rate we are going.

  13. Frankly

    I think I just fell in love with Councilmember Swanson.  Where has she been all my life?

    Seriously, it is about time somebody on the CC took this mantle and started to drive home the message.   People that are against Measure A are people against Davis’s future as a viable and relevant city.

    I could not attend last night, but I am very happy to hear that there were a lot of young people present.  In many respects, Measure A is part of a current and growing social and economic war between the youngs and the olds.  Unfortunately the youngs often don’t understand enough about life to correctly identify their allies and enemies.  However, I think they understand this vote.

    1. MidCentury

      People that are against Measure A are people against Davis’s future as a viable and relevant city.

      Wrong. People against Measure A believe this particular project still has more negatives than positives.

      1. Mark West

        There may well be some (or many) that feel that way. The problem, however, is that we have a real world process that results in one specific project being put before the voters.  Our decision is not between this project and some hypothetical ‘better’ one, it is between this project and no project. If the only positive aspect of the project was the restructuring of the Richards Blvd entrance into the City, for me it would be worth moving forward. The fact is, though, that this project will bring many additional positive benefits to the community. I could name several things that would make the project ‘better’ from my perspective, but this work is the result of years of planning, discussion, and compromise, and consequently will never be 100% positive for everyone. We have several critical problems that we need to address, and the Nishi project is a step forward in solving those problems.  It is not perfect but it is orders of magnitude better than no project.

  14. nameless

    Michael Harrington: “The No on Nishi committee often chats with many of those young, super nice people on the Yes side. Almost all are being paid very good money indeed to promote Yes.  They are generally not aware that there are no affordable units for students or that the air quality will be very hazardous to lungs.

    The No on Nishi committee often harasses the many young people on the Yes side, as well as tries to prevent community members from reaching the Yes table.  The bright students representing the Yes side do not feel affordability or air quality are issues of very much importance relative to the benefits Nishi has to offer.

     

    1. Alan Pryor

      The No on Nishi committee often harasses the many young people on the Yes side, as well as tries to prevent community members from reaching the Yes table

      I have been at the No on Nishi table for the entire time at every Wednesday and Saturday Farmers Market since we started tabling except for one Saturday when I left early after setting up. The relations between the student hirees for Yes on Nishi and the No on Nishi volunteers have always been courteous and friendly. Some often come over to chat and we exchange jokes for a bit and then we all go back to work.

      But “…harrasses the many young people…”? “…tries to prevent community members from reaching the Yes on Nishi table.”..? This has NEVER, EVER happened. How can one respond to such non-specific, anonymous, over-the-top, mud-slinging charges like this except to say they are BIG, BOLD-FACE LIES.

    2. DavisforNishiGateway

      For once, Mr. Harrington, Mr. Pryor, and I are all in agreement. The interactions between the two sides at the farmer’s market have been quite respectful. All of the people involved in both camps care deeply about the future of Davis–we just have very different opinions regarding what it should be and how it should be accomplished.

  15. Michael Harrington

    Actually, the Yes people often come over to our table to chat.  And sometimes we stop by their table.  Both sides know how it works, and we don’t block tables.

    The big news for me is why did the CC do nothing to fix city government and its budget for the last several years, while throwing these three hail Mary passes for the three exterior projects?  Even if they had won, there would be no money to the city for years and years.

    The Nishi numbers are basically voodoo economics.  Carson’s assumptions are rosy but not realistic.   And none of that income stream will come until the project is done, rented, sold, occupied.  So meanwhile the City will pour millions and millions of our money into it?  What’s our city government budget going to do in the meantime?  Continue to suck air.

    Thanks, CC, for doing nothing to help for the last several years, while you waste enormous public money, CC agenda time, and public volunteer energy and time on these exterior projects.

    1. Misanthrop

      Fix city government from the mess Mike Harrington created when he gave the cops and fire fighters retroactive unfunded 3% at 50 pensions when he was on the Council. The people who are there now are trying to fix things Mike, and they have done a lot but, people like you keep getting in the way.  Then you brazenly criticize them for not being fast enough at digging the city out of the massive hole you created but never take responsibility for creating.

  16. Michelle Millet

    Whether or not you agree with her sentiment Rochelle stepped up to the plate and took a strong stand on a politically charged issue.  For that she is hero to me.

    I agree with her, our current leaders have been to careful when discussing growth issues. I’m thrilled Rochelle is taking the lead on this issue  and I’m happy to finally feel like I have someone to follow.

    1. Michelle Millet

      Oh Alan (Pryor), I’ve been on the Natural Resource Commission with you long enough that your fear and intimidation tactics no longer work on me:-)

      Thankfully they don’t appear to work on Councilmember Swanson either. Hopefully the rest of the council will be brave enough to follow her lead and begin actively supporting this project as well.

      1. Tia Will

        Michelle

        I have no problem with strong advocacy for one’s own position. I have a lot of problem with the kind of divisiveness generated by pitting one group of people against another by stereotyping and vilification. And, I find it particularly unseemly coming from a community leader.

  17. Misanthrop

    http://marketrealist.com/2016/04/fmc-technologies-1q16-earnings-miss-estimates/

    Schilling(FTI) reported first quarter results and I think we can see that the oil glut didn’t cause them to pull out of MRIC. From an analysis of the report:

    “Will order backlog improve FTI’s performance in 2016?”
    “Although falling upstream capital expenditure and lower prices for FMC Technologies’ products remain its concerns going into 2016, the company’s management is upbeat about subsea service orders.”
    “In FTI’s 1Q16 earnings press release, John T. Gremp, FTI’s chairman and CEO, said, ‘While operators’ reduced capital spending continues to delay large deepwater projects, we believe that our subsea service orders will remain fairly resilient in 2016.’”
    My guess then is that the reason MRIC dropped the bid to build in Davis is because of the anti-business climate created by Measure R and Mike Harrington’s lawsuit machine exemplified by the one he and Nancy Price filed against Nishi. We will know definitively if Schilling announces a new factory in West Sacramento in the near future.
    You can read the four part analysis of FMC Technologies by clicking on the link at the top,

  18. larryguenther

    So the jobs thing.  It sounds neat and all, but I think we already have thousands of jobs nearby.  At the University.  Many thousands of staff.  But most University staff do not live in Davis because they cannot afford it.  They live in Dixon, Woodland, Winters, and West Sacramento.  Many are also young or middle-age with children; precisely the demographic that is shrinking fast in Davis.  I think what we need is affordable housing for middle-income people.  I am a fan of innovation, but I think where we need to innovate is providing housing for and attracting middle-income families that is not sprawl.  Jobs by themselves don’t do near as much for a city as residents.  All those University staff who commute into Davis do not spend their money here.  They don’t shop at our grocery stores, eat at our restaurants, or buy from our local businesses.  And they don’t pay property taxes in Davis.  We’ve got jobs.  What I think we need is a way to make those workers residents.

    1. Michelle Millet

      Larry- Why do you consider this project sprawl? One of the main reasons I’m supporting Nishi is because of it’s close proximity to downtown. People living and working in walking distance to downtown will have a lot of positive impacts on our local economy.

      I agree with you regarding housing. We need more high density affordable housing, but those projects seem to meet a lot of resistance in this community as well.

      On a different note, we should get some people together and go boating this summer, it’s been too long…..

      1. larryguenther

        Apologies.  I didn’t mean to imply Nishi is sprawl.  Nishi is definitely *not* sprawl.  My issue was that merely attracting jobs isn’t enough.  We HAVE jobs.  We need affordable, attractive housing options for middle-income people.

        I’d love to go boating!

         

    2. Misanthrop

      I agree Larry but the problem is that housing for families is considered sprawl. Also lack of new supply over the last 20 years has resulted in pent up demand and driven prices up to the sky. The only way to bring prices down is by adding supply even though this means nice profits for developers  who get in first until the imbalances in the market reach equilibrium. We also lard up new housing with all sorts of bells and whistles and taxes that make it less affordable.

      Sadly we want any new project to be all things to all people and then demand that it be affordable too. As long as Davisites say no to projects because it doesn’t satisfy every demand we will never get out of the hole.

      The reality is we need student housing, family housing and senior housing.

      1. hpierce

        Sadly we want any new project to be all things to all people and then demand that it be affordable too.

        Truer words seldom spoken…  it could have been added, “you want fries with that?”

        And, “do you want catsup” (but that has too much sugar…)

      2. larryguenther

        I disagree that housing for families must be sprawl.  The current paradigm may equate family housing with sprawl, but paradigms can change.  Cities all over the world have solved this problem.  We can solve it too.

    3. larryguenther

      The previous comment is not meant to imply that Nishi is sprawl – it’s not.  It is also not meant to imply that I am opposed to Nishi.  There are obviously pluses and minuses and I need to sort them before the June election.

  19. Don Shor

    Nishi is a key part of the dispersed economic development strategy developed by the Innovation Park task force, part of an ongoing effort by citizen commissions to assess how Davis can:

    — Provide sites for startup/moveup businesses, including those that spin off from UCD;

    — Increase business activity downtown to help local businesses, provide jobs, and increase tax revenues to the city via the ‘ripple’ effect of new businesses and housing;

    — Provide tax revenues for the school district.

    — Nishi also provides some new rental housing in a desperately short housing market, located close to campus and the downtown, and shows promise for beginning the process of alleviating the traffic issues along I-80 and Richards.

    There are long reports available about the suitable sites for such development. The problem is getting a workable plan for the locations that have potential. Here we have a willing landowner and a developer who has worked with the council and staff to put together a plan that makes use of a difficult site and provides benefits to the city.

    Nishi is the only remaining part of the business development component of our economic recovery strategy. Reduced services, more staff cuts and higher taxes are going to happen in any event, especially with the suspension of the other two business parks. The only question is how severe those cuts, and how high those taxes, are going to be. The less we grow business, the more we raise taxes and the more we have to cut the amenities that Davis residents want.

    It seems very unlikely that this project can be renegotiated. It is much more likely, if the voters reject Measure A, that we will end up with no business/innovation park any time in the next decade. There is a large backlog of unmet financial needs in infrastructure, roads, and employee benefits. If we don’t grow revenues, it’s going to get worse.

    Even in a voting population as liberal as Davis, there is a limit to how much you can raise the parcel and sales taxes. It’s almost a given now that the sales tax increase will be permanent. Do you want to increase it more? At what point do voters have to choose between roads and school taxes? Business activity creates revenues for government. The way to keep Davis the way you want it – with good schools, nice parks, healthy trees, bike paths, good roads – is to make sure we have stable financial resources.

    At some point you have to allow your council members and staff to put together the best development agreement they feel they can. It’s a tradeoff of benefits to the city versus income to the developers. The reason supporters of Measure A urge you to look at the agreement in toto, rather than picking out certain parts you don’t like, is because it is an agreement, the product of negotiations.

    As Atticus says in To Kill A Mockingbird, a compromise “is an agreement reached by mutual concessions.” If you tug at one thread on the skein, the whole thing unravels. And then you have nothing. No economic development strategy, and all the unmet needs steadily getting worse.

  20. Doby Fleeman

    Larry & Michael,

    This is pretty interesting that Michael agrees we need more housing.  I’m am wondering, however, where he thinks it should be constructed.

    As for your comments about the plethora of jobs at the University – that is definitely a true statement.  But one of the essential points you are missing is that UCD is not Davis – a point you seem to clearly acknowledge.

    This point is very important on two counts when it comes to discussion of sustainable communities.  One, none of the sales taxes collected or paid by all of that activity transpiring on campus finds its way to Davis municipal coffers. Secondly, the university pays no property tax and therefore is not generating any corresponding property revenue stream to the City of Davis in connection with all of those office buildings, classrooms, dormitories, restaurants and service buildings – housing all of those UCD employees.

    Likewise, all of UCD’s customer who are spending most of their days on campus are at least as likely to be purchasing that extra latte, Red Bull, or mid-day meal on campus as they are in Davis.

    So, it is actually a twofold issue, this discussion about private sector, technology employers – namely, if they are located in Davis they pay property taxes in Davis.  If they are physically located in Davis, then the employees are more likely to be purchasing their gas, their lattes, their bike tires, their kids diapers, and their lunches at a business located in Davis.  Same goes for their customers and vendors.

    None of these dynamics address the point you are making about the need for housing, but the other part of Councilmember Swanson’s comments seeks to address the profound revenue shortfall to meet our mounting costs of deferred maintenance and unfunded benefits.   By definition, these are problems that previous Councils were never required to address – and which present major challenges for our current electeds.

    If you are willing to take a more multi-level approach to the situation in Davis, it may become somewhat more clear why the need for additional, new, private sector employers withing the Davis zip code.  I’m guessing we would all be curious to know what kind of housing you and Michael envision if not the general type of high density housing envisioned at Nishi and as similarly proposed at MRIC.

    1. larryguenther

      I apologize if my comment implied that I am opposed to Nishi.  I am not.  I am looking at it with an open mind and trying to sort facts from opinions.

      1. Doby Fleeman

        It’s only to be expected there will be lots of questions when the challenges have been so poorly laid out.  You and I clearly have very different views on what constitutes lots of jobs.  I have focused on the shortfall in technology jobs – employers that traditionally pay lots of property taxes and generate significant sales and personal property taxes through their purchases.  And yet, there has really been no discussion of this issue. Over time, the absence of employers like Bayer, ADM, Monsanto and others begins to leave a serious hole in our tax base – not to mention the cumulative effects of their missing payrolls.  It would be nice to see and hear some discussion of this issue – unless everyone is content to simply absorb more and higher local taxes.  But, then again, we really aren’t being honest about that conversation either.  On these two points its not about analysis paralysis – its more about issues avoidance.

  21. Misanthrop

    http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Not-enough-housing-Move-to-the-sticks-survey-7379779.php

    An interesting poll on S.F. housing shows that we are just like the city. The majority wants housing built out of the Bay Area as the article states:

    “What’s unfortunate is that pushing housing outside the region still doesn’t solve the problem of supply and affordability in the Bay Area. It simply means that fewer working families and workers in lower-income jobs can afford to live here.”

    While they understand the need for housing they are more honest about density:

     “Although most respondents wanted more housing, along with an improved transportation network, to be built outside the Bay Area, 56 percent of residents were also open to new housing in their neighborhoods. However, only 37 percent supported high-density housing in their areas.”

    And just like Davis they don’t want housing built where they live:

    “Wunderman said most residents understand the problem and believe more housing needs to be built, but he believes policymakers are going to have a hard time getting projects approved, with 39 percent of residents in the survey saying they don’t want new housing of any kind in their neighborhoods.”

    The problem that Davis has is that we have Measure R that keeps us from building on the periphery and then we have the same  nimby sentiments about infill. The good news is that we have plenty of land to annex and build on if we ever want to honestly and forthrightly deal with our housing shortage instead of pretending that our housing policies aren’t creating a commuter economy to U.C. Davis from surrounding towns that increases greenhouse gas emissions more than Nishi does without its platinum LEED certification.

  22. Tia Will

    hpierce

    do you expect the ‘leaders’ to champion the 15%?”

    Fair point. And the answer is “no”. But I would also expect that a true leader would be above vilifying them and calling them greedy or implying that she knows the true motivation of the 15% and this is exactly what, in my view, Rochelle Swanson chose to do. I respectfully do not consider an attack on a faction of the community as a “positive approach” as Jim Gray opined. In fairness I was not present at this event and so am unable to speak for the tone of the rest of the event.

    1. Michelle Millet

      To be fair Tia there is a small  contingent of people in this community who behave like, for lack of a better word, bullies. Or to put it more kindly, like two years olds throwing temper tantrums when they don’t get everything 100% the way they want it.   This is who I believe Rochelle is referring to, and I stand behind her calling them out. This is how you stop bullies.  For these people getting their way becomes more important than doing what is best for the community. In my opinion we need to stop listening to them. The only power they have is what our community gives them. They rely on the  majority of the community remaining complacent, and their ability to  scare councilmembers into listening to them. I’m thrilled Rachelle is willing to stand up to these bullies or two-year-olds depending on how you want to look at them, I hope the rest of the City Council, and the community,  follows her lead.

      1. Ron

        Michelle:  “To be fair Tia there is a small  contingent of people in this community who behave like, for lack of a better word, bullies. Or to put it more kindly, like two years olds throwing temper tantrums when they don’t get everything 100% the way they want it.”

        It seems ironic to say this (presumably regarding those who oppose Measure A, and/or otherwise support slow growth), given Rochelle’s statements in the article above.  (Along with some others’ statements on the Vanguard, at various times.)

        In reality, I think this type of behavior occurs on both sides these issues.  It’s probably (generally) more difficult to recognize it, if you agree with the position of the commenter.

        Sometimes, it makes me reluctant to post on the Vanguard.

         

        1. Michelle Millet

          Ron I’m usually on the “same side” of be people I’m referring to. Even then I have major problems with their tactics. They are destructive to this community and the causes we both happen to support. They do not build community, they destroy it. It makes it really challenging for those of us who happen to agree with the cause they are fighting for or against to get anything productive done. It’s actually embarrassing sometimes to be associated with them, and I often find myself apologizing for their behavior.

          (Come sit in on a Natural Resource Commission meeting and you can see in action exactly what I’m talking about).

          Yes this happens with people on both sides of every issue, and I will always fight against this type of behavior even when it’s coming from the people on my side.

        2. Ron

          Michelle:  “Ron I’m usually on the “same side” of be people I’m referring to.  Even then I have major problems with their tactics.”

          It’s funny – from your earlier comments on the Vanguard (e.g., MRIC with housing, Nishi,), I viewed you as a “pro-development” minded person, at least by “Davis standards”.

          It’s funny how we all view ourselves.  Some who think of themselves as “slow-growth” might, in fact, support a lot more development than others in that same “camp”.  (And, vice-versa.)

           

          1. Don Shor

            Apparently I’m a pro-growth change-averse NIMBY land-preservation extremist in the pocket of developers.

        3. Michelle Millet

          Ha! I’m definitely in the slow growth camp. Was not a big fan of MRIC, but liked it better with housing than with out, so was pushing for that alternative

          Much happier with Nishi given its proximity to downtown. I think it is a good project and I’m happy to be supporting it as a slow grower.

      2. Tia Will

        Michelle

        For these people getting their way becomes more important than doing what is best for the community. In my opinion we need to stop listening to them. The only power they have is what our community gives them. They rely on the  majority of the community remaining complacent,”

        This view presupposes that these individuals are intent on “getting their way” instead of “doing what is best for the community.” You are not acknowledging the possibility that these people may perceive that their way is what is best for the community. You are also ignoring that there may be many others here sympathetic to their position, but who do not appreciate their tactics. There are “bullies” on both sides of this issue as I well know having received a private email from one of the more prominent pro growth advocates in our community telling me that I have no morals. Why ?  Because I disagreed with his position on a particular issue.

        I know our culture encourages us to develop a good guy vs bad guy view of the world with ourselves and those who agree with us consistently cast in the “good guy” role. I simply do not see things that way and will call out this kind of behavior ( as exemplified by either Rochelle Swanson or Michael Harrington) whenever I see it.

  23. Tia Will

    hpierce

    Ironically, I’m strongly tending to oppose Measure A… the access to W Olive issue…”

    I don’t see anything ironic about this at all. What I see, is that you, like everyone else who is opposing Measure A, has a concern that they see as completely legitimate. What I find difficult to understand is how frequently we see people belittling the genuine concerns of others.

     

    1. Ron

      Tia:  “I don’t see anything ironic about this at all.  What I see, is that you, like everyone else who is opposing Measure A, has a concern that they see as completely legitimate.  What I find difficult to understand is how frequently we see people belittling the genuine concerns of others.”

      Agreed.  (And – coming from a council member now, as well.)

  24. Frankly

    Woodland will supplant Davis as the better city in 5-10 years if not sooner.

    Davis’s downtown will continues its trend to becoming a student entertainment center.  Woodland will have the inventory of affordable single-family housing that will attract families.  Davis’s homes will continue to be over-priced and only affordable by the old not-yet-dead old people that bought them decades ago.  And once they kick or move to a care facility, those homes will be snatched up by investors to be converted to student housing.  Woodland will build an innovation park or two.  Woodland will have the jobs and the injection of smart and young professionals and young families that provide the core vitality of a city. The woodland downtown will be revitalized… in fact already is being revitalized.

    Davis schools will continue their marginalization of lower-income minorities as fewer of them can afford to live in the city and the slide further away from the norm of the academically-privileged.

    Or Davis get’s its head out of its rear and approves Nishi and finds a way to bring back MRIC…

    Woodland will still become a better place to live and work… but maybe Davis can prevent becoming more crappy by comparison.

    1. Misanthrop

      Woodland has already received business that left Davis for a more business friendly location. I’m sure that some here will be happy that Monsanto left. Schilling will likely go to West Sac. Still Davis has one thing these other places don’t have, a UC campus. Or to steal from the Wizard of Oz. Davis gives one thing Woodland doesn’t give, a diploma.

      The weird thing is the next Chancellor of UCD is going to build lots of housing on UC land and the city won’t get a cent of property tax revenue from it. Why its considered sprawl for Davis to annex land for housing but if you build the same housing at UC isn’t it sprawl anyway? West Village is built on some of the best farmland soil in the world. The one thing that is certain is Davis’ anti-growth policies makes no sense.

      1. Frankly

        Explain something to me that makes factual sense, and I will accept it and respect if even if I disagree.  But pick an argument that makes no rational sense, and I quickly see the hidden agenda.

        Your point is one that that I have repeated… and it shoots holes in the arguments of those opposing student housing being developed on the periphery.  It really does not matter from a perspective of sprawl, traffic and farmland preservation if the housing is built on vacant peripheral land owned by UCD, or owned by some private land owner.  The impacts will be the same.  The only major difference is that if build on UCD land, Davis would not get a cent of tax revenue from it.

        Those making this argument that UCD needs to build the housing and not any private developer on peripheral land are simply hedging their bets that UCD would NOT build the housing.

      2. Topcat

        The weird thing is the next Chancellor of UCD is going to build lots of housing on UC land….

        With the projected growth in the student population, we certainly need UCD to step up and build a lot more student housing.

    2. Tia Will

      Frankly

      Woodland will supplant Davis as the better city in 5-10 years if not sooner.”

      And this statement is totally dependent, of course, on your definition of the word “better”. If you define better as bigger then I would agree. If you look at a more holistic picture of each community fulfilling a unique role within the region, then perhaps not so much so.

       

       

      1. Frankly

        Better roads.

        Better downtown.

        Better jobs and career opportunities.

        Better relationship with UCD.

        Better relationship with the region.

        Better relationship with the county.

        Better restaurants and entertainment (except for the Mondavi Center).

        Better shopping.

        Better schools.

        Better housing choices.

        Better city budget.

        Better traffic flow.

        Better population diversity.

        But for someone like yourself that wants Davis to be her sleepy retirement village, a less vibrant and more shabby and dis-repaired city of just old people and students might be more to your liking.

  25. Tia Will

    Frankly

    Now who is being irrational ?  Please state one single quote of mine in which I stated that I favored a “shabby and dis-repaired city of just old people and students. I do not pretend to be wide enough to know what the exact demographic of our city “should be” unlike some others who post here. I have stated, and will stand my ground, that I believe that we should be willing to pay for the amenities that we want ourselves. I have also posted a number of ways in which I believe that we could get started on this project of paying as we go which you routinely either dismiss or ignore.

    I am sure that you know that I am not a city planner any more than you are a gynecologist. However, I think that as two rational people we might be able to agree that there are a number of different ways that city planning can occur, and a number of different ways that a hysterectomy can be accomplished. Just because we cannot spell out all of the details ourselves does not mean that these are impossibilities or that the only way that we know to achieve it is the only way.

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