Nishi Project’s Fiscal Benefits Extend to the City of Davis and Beyond

West-Olive-Nish-Improvements

By Dan Carson

Critics of Measure A and the Nishi Gateway project are making up imaginary fee numbers, shouting about giveaways to developers, and claiming that the project is a money loser for our citizens. In reality, my analysis below shows that this economic development project will be a bonanza for our city, our schools, the county, and many other governmental agencies in the region.

As you might know by now, our city’s Finance and Budget Commission, of which I am vice chair, found that in the long run at full build-out the project could bring up to a $1.4 million net fiscal gain to the City of Davis. That’s roughly the equivalent of the money the city receives each year from the existing $49 per parcel parks tax.

Most of the new revenue will come from increased property and sales tax revenues and an assessment imposed on the development to offset city services costs. The combined revenues will more than pay for fire, police, parks, public works, and other city services, because infill projects like this one require relatively less city staffing to serve new residents and employees than urban sprawl.

Please note that the one-time and ongoing fiscal benefits identified here are expressed in current dollars, and that the arrival of much of the funding would occur as the project is built and occupied. Thus, the actual dollar amounts collected would in many cases be much higher than shown here after adjustments over time to reflect inflation and escalation in property tax values.  Even so, the net annual fiscal gain described above is actually small potatoes compared to many of the other benefits that the city, and the larger community and region, would gain if Measure A is approved by Davis voters on June 7.

For starters, the fiscal estimates above don’t include the generation of sales taxes from the actual construction of the project. Nor do they take into account all the economic spin-offs from the project – specifically, higher property tax revenues likely to result as demand grows for additional commercial space for new business-to-business enterprises. These factors could ultimately put millions of dollars more in city coffers

The Nishi applicant is obligated to build and deliver to the city about $29 million in public infrastructure. This includes an extension of Olive Drive and a new railroad undercrossing that will divert traffic from the Richards tunnel and route it instead through the innovation center into campus. Under the ballot language of Measure A, the costs of these improvements are borne by the developer and cannot be paid by city government, a provision that cannot be changed without another vote of the people.

The infrastructure package includes an elaborate new network of parks and greenways – amenities that were significantly expanded at the urging of city commissions and citizens during the development review process.  The parks and greenway space alone, which will include new bicycle and pedestrian connections along Putah Creek, will be at least 14 acres or almost three times the size of Central Park. Any citizen of Davis will be able to access and enjoy these new park facilities, which are estimated to cost the developer in excess of $7.6 million to improve when engineering and other “soft” costs are included.

The project applicant will be required to ante up $9 million in various one-time development impact fees for water and sewer hook-ups and traffic impacts.  Part of the estimated $4.8 million in roadway impact fees may be used for a new bridge at the east edge of the project near Putah Creek to avoid conflicts between cars and bicycle traffic. About $3 million of that sum will be spent as the project’s fair-share contribution to improve the Richards/Interstate 80 interchange, including a separate and safer north-south track for bicycle commuters.

An additional $3 million in development impact fees, by my estimate, will be collected on a one-time basis to address the city’s costs for storm sewer services, open space, public safety, and general facilities. Construction taxes imposed under the city Municipal Code will amount to an additional $3.4 million. The city has often used such revenues in the past to help maintain city streets and bike paths and for other public capital improvement projects.

Another $1.2 million in community enhancement funds will be contributed by the project to the city’s affordable housing trust fund, and among proposals for civic arts, establishment of a local carbon offset program, and improved management of downtown parking systems. Also, the developer is paying additional fees to fully offset the costs of the planning and permitting process.

The benefits from Nishi will flow beyond city government.

The Davis Joint Unified School District has concluded that the impact of the project is so small, due to its commercial space and orientation toward student housing, that it would have little impact on local school enrollment. Nonetheless, Davis schools will benefit if Measure A is approved. A Davis Joint Unified School District analysis concluded that the project would generate $1.4 million in one-time development impact fees that would be available for the construction or reconstruction of school facilities.

In addition, the developers will eventually pay school parcel taxes, special assessments, and property tax assessments that together will generate about $462,000 annually. About $72,000 of these annual payments will reduce the burden on other existing taxpayers by paying off outstanding debt service for school facilities.

Add to the benefits for education about $190,000 per year that the project would eventually generate for the Los Rios Community College District in regular and special bond debt property tax assessments. The County Office of Education would gain about $110,000 for its programs to oversee area schools and assist children with special educational needs.

Technically, in addition to these amounts, Nishi Gateway will generate almost an additional $2 million in property taxes annually that will be used for the support of schools. However, because, under voter-approved Proposition 98, the state is financially responsible for meeting school funding levels, these additional property taxes generated by Nishi will actually free up state funds that can be used for other purposes, such as health and social services programs, corrections, and public universities like UC Davis.

Various other local agencies would gain from the approval of Measure A.  The library system would gain $125,000 annually in property and parcel taxes. The project would generate $126,000 annually for Solano County Water Agency, which handles certain flood control issues locally, and $11,000 each year for the Yolo County Resources Conservation District, which addresses wildlife habitat concerns, from the property tax.

The exact fiscal benefit that Yolo County would derive from Nishi will depend on forthcoming tax-sharing negotiations with the city. A complete analysis of county fiscal impacts is not available publicly. But my analysis indicates that the net fiscal benefit to the county from the development of Nishi will likely be substantial.

The county government’s main costs for public services for lands that have been annexed to cities are providing criminal justice, health, and social services. However, very few calls for police services will come from commercial areas in Davis, and Nishi’s relatively young population of students and workers is unlikely to generate much demand on the county’s “safety net” programs. Many students and faculty will go to UC Davis for help when they need it.

Moreover, the positive economic fallout from Nishi Gateway would help the finances of governmental agencies across Yolo County.  Nearly $144 million in economic activity and 800 jobs resulting from the construction of Nishi Gateway is projected to occur outside the Davis city limits. This translates into higher personal incomes, which usually leads to increased sales tax collections, for West Sacramento, Woodland, Winters, and unincorporated county areas.

County revenues would gain in several direct ways. If the city and county ultimately negotiate an even split of property taxes, even though the city will be responsible for providing most public services, the county would receive $227,000 in property taxes annually. Proposition 172, a half-cent sales tax established to support public safety programs, and other tax sources could bring the county’s annual tax revenue boost to $500,000.  The county would also collect about $2.3 million in development impact fees on a one-time basis to support a broad range of county-operated programs.

Instead of providing “giveaways,” this project will financially support programs and projects that benefit all of us in Davis and Yolo County. All of this depends, of course, on your support for Measure A.

Dan Carson worked for 17 years in the Legislative Analyst’s Office, a nonpartisan fiscal and policy adviser to the California Legislature, retiring in 2012 as deputy legislative analyst. He now serves as vice chair of the city’s Finance and Budget Commission. This commentary reflects his views only and does not represent the position of the commission on this issue.

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52 Comments

  1. MidCentury

    Part of the estimated $4.8 million in roadway impact fees may be used for a new bridge at the east edge of the project near Putah Creek to avoid conflicts between cars and bicycle traffic. 

    Shouldn’t this bridge be required for the project? The project is what is going to impact the existing bicycle path, so why doesn’t the project pay for it? If we use roadway impact fees within the project area, that seems like a giveaway to the developers.

     

    1. Dave Hart

      I agree here.  Based on the graphic above, I’m all in on Measure A if it were to happen as proposed.  I may not be ready to walk a precinct for Measure A, but a binding commitment to make this proposed improvement alone is enough to make me consider it.  And that from a person who walked my precinct to stop the widening of Richards back in the 90’s.  The No on A people have emotionally committed and nothing will change their minds, but wide circulation of this proposal should nail down all of the pedestrian/cyclist community for a Yes on A vote.

  2. Dan Carson

    MidCentury,

    There is nothing unusual about using part of mitigation fees from a project to pay for things like improved bicycle connections.  Take a look at Tuesday’s council agenda for The Cannery bicycle connection.

    But I would also offer this additional perspective that I hope you will consider.

    While I was not a party to the development agreement negotiations, I do know it involved lots of give and take between the city and the applicant over various commitments required to make it a reality. As noted above, this project involves an estimated $29 million in costs for backbone on-site infrastructure.  In the course of the processing of this project,  for example, the costs of parks and open space, which were a part of this infrastructure, were roughly doubled in part to public feedback from citizens and commissions who wanted more extensive park features. Was that a “giveaway” to the public?

    So, I look at the project as a whole and try to judge whether the overall package of commitments provided a good deal for the city. I find it does, and have documented in the analysis above the extraordinary fiscal benefits that will flow to the city, DJUSD, the county, and other local agencies.

    Part of my basis for concluding we have obtained a good deal is the independent analysis of land economics for Nishi that the city had done by a consultant who is expert in such work. (The work was directed by the city, but billed to the Nishi developer.) That analysis showed how much of a financial burden the project could bear so that the city could calibrate its negotiating demands appropriately. That analysis is a public document that is available on the city web site, and that was discussed at our Finance and Budget Commission meeting in January 2016 in a public forum.

    My judgment from reviewing that analysis, and asking lots and lots of questions about it along with my commission colleagues, is that the city and the applicant struck a reasonable balance between getting a fair return for city taxpayers from the project while also taking into account the huge benefit to the city from the very costly infrastructure that will divert traffic from the Richards tunnel through the Nishi project directly to campus.

    People can disagree about this, of course. My judgments are based upon my 17 years experience working as a nonpartisan fiscal and policy analyst for the Legislative Analyst’s Office as well as my experience working for the Solano Economic Development Corp. I personally prepared hundreds of fiscal analyses at the LAO and supervised the work on hundreds more as a director and then deputy.

    1. MidCentury

       

      While I was not a party to the development agreement negotiations, I do know it involved lots of give and take between the city and the applicant over various commitments required to make it a reality. As noted above, this project involves an estimated $29 million in costs for backbone on-site infrastructure.  In the course of the processing of this project,  for example, the costs of parks and open space, which were a part of this infrastructure, were roughly doubled in part to public feedback from citizens and commissions who wanted more extensive park features. Was that a “giveaway” to the public?

      No, it isn’t a giveaway at all. The City will rezone the land from farmland to commercial raising the value of the property by millions of dollars. That’s where the big giveaway occurs.

      This could be a good project. It just isn’t there yet, and arguing that it’s the best we can get or it’s now or never just isn’t true.

       

       

      1. Ron

        MidCentury:  “The City will rezone the land from farmland to commercial raising the value of the property by millions of dollars. That’s where the big giveaway occurs.”

        “This could be a good project. It just isn’t there yet, and arguing that it’s the best we can get or it’s now or never just isn’t true.”

        Exactly.

      2. The Pugilist

        Actually for Nishi, it is now or never.  So the question is whether the project is good enough now for you to support.  Whether we are better off having the 1500 beds for college students and 1500 jobs for when they graduate or an imperfect piece of farmland.  That’s the question.  They aren’t going to spend another $10 million on a problematic measure R process if this loses.

        1. Don Shor

          They aren’t going to spend another $10 million on a problematic measure R process if this loses.

          Nobody is. They’d be completely nuts to even try.
          Alan says:

          The No on Nishi argument is to vote the project down and send it back to Council for renegotiation on better terms for the City. And if Ruff cannot deliver a project that is more favorable to the City then he can sit on the non-productive property and stew or he can sell the property to a more experienced developer that can deliver.

          We would have three projects that didn’t make it. We’d have a track record of Davis voters rejecting proposals for both housing and business development. Any new developers would face the same litigious team that wants more money and more concessions. You can’t seriously believe that there are developers out there just champing at the bit waiting to take on this project.

        2. The Pugilist

          Indeed part of the reason that MRIC pulled out is they lost an investor because they didn’t want to throw good money on top of bad in this climate.

  3. The Pugilist

    Has the No on A campaign completely collapsed?  I see lots of articles, new proposals from Nishi and the yes side, but little response from the No on campaign.  Whenever Harrington posts, he fails to answer questions.  That’s not a good way to run a campaign.

      1. The Pugilist

        Signs are not necessarily indicative of votes.  Are you seeing letters to the editor?  Are you seeing Op-eds?  This place was flooded with negative comments in 2009 with Measure P.  I don’t see anything like that right now with Nishi.

        1. Barack Palin

          Actually there have been several letters to the editor and Op-eds against Nishi.

          Just giving the facts even though I’m most likely voting for Nishi.

    1. Alan Pryor

      “Yes” is such a positive message.

      Ok, then. “Yes” it is. “Yes to Unaffordable Housing” and “Yes to Developer Give-aways”

      ……H’mmm…maybe not

  4. Alan Pryor

    LACK OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING – There is no mention of the biggest give-away of all – the illegal affordable housing exemption by which the developer avoided building 154 affordable housing units or, if otherwise approved by the Council, in-lieu fees of 154 units x $75,000 per unit = $11,550,000. I have read the City’s Affordable Housing Ordinance in detail and wrote about it for the Vanguard –  http://www.davisvanguard.org/2016/03/guest-commentary-city-developer-violated-citys-affordable-housing-ordinance/. In this article we discussed that the only way in which the Nishi project could be exempted is if the projects were vertical mixed use developments. However, the baseline features and project zoning before the voters ensure Nishi will have residential or ancillary uses on the ground flow thus negating the hoped-for exemption. Further, there are clear and specified procedures which both the developer and City must follow in order to receive or grant such an exemption or modification of the standard requirements of the ordinance as further discussed below. There are no records showing such a process was undertaken that are available on the City’s website supposedly containing all project documents (http://www.cityofdavis.org/city-hall/community-development-and-sustainability/development-projects/nishi-and-downtown-university-gateway-district). Thus it appears that the both City and developer are in direct violation of the City’s Affordability Housing Ordinance.

    I have also reviewed Robb Davis’ subsequent article in which he claims there are certain loopholes  through which the City is allowed to grant this exemption – http://www.davisvanguard.org/2016/04/guest-commentary-city-not-violate-affordable-housing-requirements-nishi/. But none of these hoped-for, after-the-fact loopholes apply to the specifics of the Davis Ordinance as the courts will ultimately determine.

    INADEQUACIES OF ECONOMIC ANALYSIS – Some are now projecting that the R&D office facilities will never be built because of the costs associated with building large scale commercial projects in Davis as evidenced by the pull-outs of both the MRIC and North Davis Innovation Centers. This changes the whole analysis of Mr. Carson’s rosy forecast but, amazingly, the Finance and Budget Commission or City never did an economic analysis of what the returns are IF these components are not built. Also amazing is the fact that the Finance and Budget Commission never did a year-by-year cash flow analysis from City’s perspective when they came up with their grandiose claims even though it was requested by the Council.

    Having come from the private business sector, these oversights are dumbfounding. But it appears that such precision risk analysis is not a standard practice in government accounting in which Mr. Carson has spent his career. This is unfortunate as such information would have been quite illuminating in analyzing the likelihood the City will ever achieve these economic goals and what cash flow deficiencies they might see in intervening years during build-out.

    1. Don Shor

      1. It’s not a giveaway.
      2. You’re not a lawyer.
      3. It would be odd to do an analysis based on someone’s speculation that the project might fail (“Some are now projecting that the R&D office facilities will never be built”).

      1. Alan Pryor

        It would be odd to do an analysis based on someone’s speculation that the project might fail

        Requiring a downside risk analysis and cash flow analysis is a standard business practice and one that any banker would require of any private lender. Is it so far of a stretch to think that the R&D/office portion of the project might be delayed indefinitely? It’s not like Ruff has any experience in large-scale commercial R&D/office project development. And to say that his new partner, Sierra Energy, is going to “help” him bring it to market is almost laughable. That is a company that has never had a single viable full-scale commercial project operating during their many years of operations and has never done any real estate development. Where is the commercial  development expertise on the team?

        1. Don Shor

          never did an economic analysis of what the returns are IF these components are not built.

          What will be the yields if nothing is built at all on the site?

      2. Alan Pryor

        What will be the yields if nothing is built at all on the site?

        That is what the Yes on Nishi folks want the argument to come down to but this is a one-sided and false argument. That is, Yes on Nishi says either we accept the bad deal the City has negotiated with all of its give-aways and warts or there is no deal at all. The No on Nishi argument is to vote the project down and send it back to Council for renegotiation on better terms for the City. And if Ruff cannot deliver a project that is more favorable to the City then he can sit on the non-productive property and stew or he can sell the property to a more experienced developer that can deliver.

        1. The Pugilist

          We either take $1 million for affordable housing or affordable housing gets nothing.  I dn’t see how given that alternative, we have a bad deal when clearly if you read state law and city ordinance the stacked flats are exempt and the council has the authority to change city ordinance on the fly in a development agreement.

        2. DavisforNishiGateway

          Let’s be very clear; if Nishi does not pass, there will be no renegotiation. The Nishi property owners have worked for eight years with the City and UC Davis to create a project that helps address some of the most pressing issues currently confronting Davis. This has been a long and involved process involving partners who have over 100 years combined experience developing property in the community. Voting Yes on Nishi delivers many needed and tangible benefits to Davis. These include $1.4 million annually to fund city services, $400k annually for DJUSD, 1500 good local jobs, R&D space specifically identified as an important catalyst in the Studio 30 Report commissioned by the City, quality student housing that helps avert an increase in mini-dorm conversions, compact flats that allow seniors to downsize and live downtown in turn freeing up available housing stock, $1 million to Affordable Housing, 80% bikeshare making this the first project in Davis history to exceed the Beyond Platinum Bicycle Action Plan, millions invested in traffic solutions, and much more. Voting No on Nishi means zero dollars for the City, for Davis schools, for the County, or for anyone. This means higher taxes and a reduced quality of life. It means more traffic and greenhouse gas emissions due to more commuters. It means more families being pushed out of Davis neighborhoods due to mini-dorm conversions. It means more businesses and start-ups moving out of Davis.

        3. Ron

          DavisforNishiGateway:  “Let’s be very clear; if Nishi does not pass, there will be no renegotiation.”

          Given your statement,  I suppose that your choices are pretty much limited to 1) farming, 2) selling the land to the University or another party (if the current proposed development is not approved).  It doesn’t seem likely that a developer would hold the land indefinitely, for farming.

          1. Don Shor

            Why would the university want to buy it? Why would they bother?
            We really need to put this notion to rest. There is no “back to the drawing board” for the Nishi site.

        4. Ron

          Don:  “Why would the university want to buy it?  Why would they bother?
          We really need to put this notion to rest. There is no “back to the drawing board” for the Nishi site.”

          I would put this another way.  Who else would buy it?  Even Misanthrop acknowledges that the University will eventually build lots of housing for its students.

          A University-owned site (without vehicular access to Olive Drive) would ensure that the University takes responsibility for it, gain greater control, reserve housing for students, and would receive any benefit (that would otherwise go to the developer, not the city).  Although we are sometimes dissatisfied with the decisions that the University makes, it still owned by the public.  I’d rather see the University benefit, rather than a developer.  Students living on campus still help support the local economy (via purchases and sales taxes), without generating much cost.

          Historically, developers are quite adept at ensuring profit for themselves (whether or not the city receives any benefit).  In general, that’s a primary reason that housing continues to be built, even though it doesn’t generate sufficient revenue to cover costs.

        5. Ron

          Don:  “What possible incentive would the university have to pay anything for that land?”

          To provide student housing that will eventually be built, campus buildings, research facilities, etc.

          And – it will be much less expensive to purchase, if Measure A fails.  (Again, I’d rather see the University benefit, compared to a wealthy developer.) The zoning change that Measure A would provide is the real “gift” to the developer. They are speculators.

          1. Don Shor

            They own 5,000 acres already! What possible reason would they have to spend a penny on this site? Seriously. This doesn’t make any sense.

        6. Ron

          They own 5,000 acres already! What possible reason would they have to spend a penny on this site? Seriously. This doesn’t make any sense.

          For the same reason that Nishi supporters are stating that it’s a great site.  (Proximity to the University.)

          Some of those 5,000 acres are rather distant from the heart of the University.

          Someone pointed out that it appears (visually, from the freeway) that the Nishi site is already part of the University.  Perhaps it will eventually be that way.

          There has been no shortage of construction activity on the main part of the University (including sites very near Nishi).

          I’m not suggesting that this will definitely occur, but I think it’s a distinct possibility, if the current development proposal fails.  Might end up being a great deal for the University, provide better housing options for students, and less negative impact for the city.

        7. Frankly

          Ron dear, with all due respect (and I do), you have demonstrated in this exchange with Don that you are significantly limitied in your understanding of the topic you are debating.  You are grasping at staws and pulling stuff from your _ _ _.

          You have the one and only best offer on the table.  There is  no half-_ _ _, no-growther compromise that will magically appear.

          Here is some free business education for you.

          Developments like this cost many millions in private capital.  The people or entities that have the money have all of the leverage… except for the city that can approve or decline the project.  That is all the power you have here… one vote to approve or decline the project.  You have ABSOLUTELY NO CONTROL OR INTEREST in the money leverage.  So just stop demonstrating your foolishness projecting how others will spend THEIR money.

          If it fails to win enough votes to go forward it will remain a brown field.  And that will be your legacy… contributing to keeping it a brown field.

        8. Ron

          Frankly:  “The people or entities that have the money have all of the leverage… except for the city that can approve or decline the project.  That is all the power you have here… one vote to approve or decline the project.  You have ABSOLUTELY NO CONTROL OR INTEREST in the money leverage.  So just stop demonstrating your foolishness projecting how others will spend THEIR money.”

          You’re right, regarding the leverage that each voter has.  And, you’re also right that it’s speculation, regarding what may happen if the development is rejected using the one power that voters have.  (It’s also speculation to state that it will remain in farming, indefinitely.)

          If the development is rejected, the developer has stated that he won’t negotiate further.  If one believes that, then the choices for the developer are 1) farming, and 2) selling the land to another party.  Given the physical limitations of the site, I speculated that the most likely buyer would be the University.  The University has certainly engaged in other contracts with “those in power” (those with money), to build housing and other University-related projects.  (Just look around campus at all the new buildings.)

          I view the developer’s statement as a “scare tactic”, designed to convince voters that the current proposal is the only feasible option to develop the site. (For those who believe that the best option is to develop it.)

           

      3. Tia Will

        It would be odd to do an analysis based on someone’s speculation that the project might fail”

        Again, speaking as a likely yes voter, no odder than it is to do an analysis only based on someone’s speculation that the project is going to be a spectacular success.

        1. Dan Carson

          Tina,

          The conclusion that the dispersed innovation strategy adopted by the city, and that the commercial R&D components of the Nishi project, have an excellent chance to succeed is not based on speculation but on a series of independent studies that relied on the expertise of professional economic analysts.

          They did the kind of analysis Alan claims that he wants, but in a different order. They first determined whether the market demand would exist for innovation centers and then, subsequently, upon concluding that the market was there for them, assessed the fiscal impacts that would result from  specific projects if they were built.

          Then, at the direction of the City Council, the city Finance and Budget Commission independently analyzed all of that information and came to the conclusion that the economic studies were reasonable and credible.

          The four studies I cite that support the city’s case are listed below, along with the links to them. They are all public documents that have been openly discussed and available for a long time. Our commission spent nine months going over the materials and collectively asking hundreds of questions about their conclusions, so set aside some reading time. You will need it.

          This is not speculation. This is reasonable, fact-based, analysis by professionals.  The reports are:

          Studio 30. http://cityofdavis.org/home/showdocument?id=3260

          Bay Area Economics. 
          http://cityofdavis.org/home/showdocument?id=3282

          Economics and Planning Systems (July 2015).
          http://cityofdavis.org/home/showdocument?id=3284

          Economics and Planning Systems (September 2015). http://cityofdavis.org/home/showdocument?id=3953

          The weight of evidence here is pretty overwhelming that Nishi will succeed as an economic development project. Just count the companies leaving town because they can’t find the right space they need.

          Happy reading.

        2. Alan Miller

          They did the kind of analysis Alan claims that he wants, but in a different order.

          Never say “Alan” around these parts without using a last name.

  5. skeptical

     
    The affordable housing give-away is more like $27 million.  Alan Pryor is merely estimating the loss of in lieu fees, which are inadequate to build an affordable unit.  As has been repeatedly reported, multifamily units cost about $175,000 each x 154 units = $26,950,000. 
     

    1. DavisforNishiGateway

      Although Nishi is exempt from any fees having to paid towards affordable housing, Nishi will contribute $1 million. That is $1 million the city won’t have if Nishi is voted down. There is no giveaway here. Nishi is contributing what the City Council obtained from negotiations.

  6. Doby Fleeman

    Alan,

    Yours is essentially the same question I have asked for the past two years:

    amazing is the fact that the Finance and Budget Commission never did a year-by-year cash flow analysis from City’s perspective

    However, I have posed the question from a slightly different perspective:

    From the City’s perspective, why not construct a year-by-year budget comparison between a “basecase” projection of our current budget, assuming low to no growth in new employers over the next 20 years, versus an alternative year-by-year budget which incorporates the projected outcomes with the innovation centers and the jobs they would bring?

    The Nishi Innovation Hub is a key element in this comparison, for it would serve as the magnet hub connecting any new Innovation Centers with the research being undertaken at the university.  This is the model currently found at leading research university communities across the country.

    You have to admit that costs and infrastructure investment in the Davis community over the next 20 years, with or without new employers, will only continue to rise – particularly as the community adapts to a larger subset of senior residents and seeks to invest in more and better options for public transit.

    I would think that a finance guy like you would relish this type of analysis in order to more realistically assess the fiscal capacity of this community to support the types of future needs we can foresee over the next twenty years.  Perhaps I’m wrong, and perhaps the ability of the city to finance its dreams isn’t really part of your equation.

    1. Alan Pryor

      I would think that a finance guy like you would relish this type of analysis in order to more realistically assess the fiscal capacity of this community to support the types of future needs we can foresee over the next twenty years.

      Yes I would absolutely like to see that analysis too. Never said I would not. And the fact that it has not been done is very worrisome to me and further erodes my confidence that the City has a financial management model in place that critically looks at these costs and risks. But let’s face it…when the City started to talk about these needs they immediately got mired in the fight over how can we get a big new sports complex and an Olympic pool instead of laser focusing on how we can fix our crumbling roads and contain exploding employee compensation costs on a per employee basis.

      1. Doby Fleeman

        OK, so never mind the jobs and new creative energy this project would bring to the community. Other than moving forward with this cornerstone new development effort – Nishi Innovation Center being the case in point – to begin building for this future economy – what does the No on Measure A have to offer in terms of constructive community dialogue that would help to address our very real, near term fiscal challenges?

        More and larger parcel taxes? Higher sales taxes?   What is your strategy?

        I certainly don’t profess to have all the answers, but this project would seem key to the future in terms of building upon the successful traditions of developing new opportunities in and for this community – whether that be university research, new medical innovations, or new careers in sustainable energy and agriculture.

        1. Alan Pryor

          What is your strategy?

          I was chair or co-chair or treasurer on the Parks Parcel Tax, the Water Project vote, and the most recent Sales Tax increase measure. In all 3 I was asking for a “Yes” vote from Davis voters. This is the first time I have ever lobbied for a “No” vote for anything in Davis so I am far from the typical Davis naysayer.

          I am on record as supporting a “large” parcel tax for “roads only” on two conditions:

          1) It does not result in a reduction of monies otherwise budgeted for roads in the City’s annual budget, and

          2) The recommendations of the F&B Commission are implemented requiring a top to bottom analysis of the budget with an laser focus on containing costs.

          Cost containment has never been part of the equation in Davis. It has always been just to get new revenue and spend it. We will never be able to “spend” ourselves to prosperity until fiscal discipline is imposed on our City government.

          All I am asking is for the City to run itself responsibly like any private sector business would do. And that mean always looking at new ways to contain costs not just new ways to spend money.

          I know that is a radical concept here in Davis.

  7. skeptical

     

     It is a giveaway.  It shouldn’t be too difficult to imagine someone down the road seeking a parcel tax to build affordable housing.

    Once you appeal to the law for guidance, you have lost your argument.  The law is our servant not our master. 

    It would be odd to do an analysis based on speculation, yet that is exactly what is happening.  The revenue and cost projections to the City are nothing but speculation. 

    1. ryankelly

      Yes, I did.  Ruff came out looking much better, Mike.  This is the first time that you mentioned the hassle of construction to address Richards Blvd as a reason to vote against it, which is pretty silly.

      Do you realize that the term “voodoo economics” comes from Bush Senior’s campaign against Reagan?  It was a campaign slogan that you’ve adopted without any knowledge or expertise in the area of economics or understanding of the project’s finances.  Telling, there’s this quote from the article attached: “Harrington said he’s leading the charge against Measure A. He plans to commission an economist to study the economic impact and offer an independent analysis.”

      What they left out was that you are representing a client in a lawsuit against the City over the project.

       

       

      1. Alan Pryor

        He plans to commission an economist to study the economic impact and offer an independent analysis.

        So you have a problem with that? I have been asking for that for months. The financial analysis done by the City was obviously inadequate in analyzing downside risk and cash flow implications. Don’t you think it is better to know than not know? If things are as rosy as Mr. Carson suggests, a completely independent review would bear that out. Failure to get a 2nd opinion is just dumb if you are considering a major medical procedure for yourself or for a City to embark on an major economic undertaking. The Bicycle, Transportation, and Traffic-Safety Commission also asked for a 2nd opinion of the traffic study but to no avail.

        What they left out was that you are representing a client in a lawsuit against the City over the project.

        So you have a problem with that too? Allowing private citizens to seek redress against business or governments that act improperly is a cornerstone of our legal system which is viewed as a model by many countries around the world. Would you rather have a single party government like China where they rule by decree without any recourse? That only works if you happen to be a member of the ruling party

        So with tongue firmly in cheek I have to ask, “What are you?…some kind of Commie?”

  8. Michael Harrington

    The City violated the Measure R process, the AHO ordinance, and CEQA.  We told them several times about these problems, and they would not continue Nishi to November.  The case is appropriate.

    1. The Pugilist

      You’re not making an argument, you are making assertions, and haven’t backed them on here.  I understand you want to try your case in court, but this isn’t a court.  If you want to use those arguments here you need to back them up, otherwise you’re being dishonest.

      You’re also being dishonest implying if they just waited you would have supported the project, when you know you were never going to do that.

  9. 2 cents

    I agree with Ryan.  Ruff had more factual information and presented the project for what it is. The argument put forward by Harrington was not an argument at all but a question “why are we doing that?” Ruff seemed to provide the answer.

    Also, Ryan is also right in that voodoo economics was synonymous with Reganomics which George H.W. campaigned against initially but which in hindsight did help the U.S. economy. Based on the information that I see, Nishi could certainly help the Davis economy as well.

  10. Tia Will

    Dan

    I appreciate your posting the articles for my reading pleasure. I will add them to my weekend reads. But you do not have to convince me. At this point, I consider myself pro Nishi. However, my point about “speculation” even if based on evidence remains the same. I don’t know if you remember the claims made about how much Target was going to bring in to the city, and how easy it was going to be to attract businesses to the other pads. The results did not match the claims although there was some addition to the city coffers and other businesses were eventually attracted.

    Although I have absolutely no experience with city planning and development, in my 50 or so years of observation, developers tend to paint far rosier pictures of the benefits of their proposals than communities typically see, and detractors paint far more pessimistic pictures. I was merely pointing out that both sides tend to exaggerate their claims, and it remains speculative about how the pros and cons will actually pan out in the end. Unfortunately, one does not know until after the build which side was closer to the truth and either way, we live with the consequences.

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