City Council Candidate Question 6: Vision for Davis in 20 Years

Candidates Forum on March 12/ Photo by Eunah Cho of Davis Media Access
Candidates Forum on March 12/ Photo by Eunah Cho of Davis Media Access

For the next eight weeks, the Vanguard will be sending the Davis City Council candidates weekly questions.  They have 250 to 350 words.

Question #1: Do you support Measure A (Nishi) – why or why not?

Question #2: While the city’s budget picture has improved, the city is still in need of funding for things like roads, parks, greenbelts, pools, buildings, as well as some unfunded retirement needs – what measures would you support to increase city revenue and why?

Question #3: What is your reaction to MRIC being paused and as a council member what would you do to move us forward on economic development?

Question #4: In September a murder at KetMoRee caused the community to reflect on its downtown policies. But Davis overall is changing in terms of crime and types of crime and related challenges. What is your view of policing in Davis? You can discuss issues such as staffing, resource priorities, community outreach, police oversight, and transparency like body worn cameras.

Question #5: In light of the demise of the UC Davis Chancellor it is important to remember that there are critical issues that the city and university need to work together in cooperation.  One of the biggest has been housing where UC Davis is planning to add 9,000 staff, students and faculty to its population over the 10-year planning period, and the university will not be able to house them all on campus. 

How would you as councilmember take the lead on this issue: explain your plan both in terms of working with the university and in terms of planning for Davis’ future in terms of what portion of this growth, the city is prepared to take on and how?

Question 6: Describe in 250-350 words, your vision for what Davis looks like in 20 years.

IMG-23Matt Williams:

My vision is to maintain and continue our quality of life in an economically and socially sustainable way — preserving Davis as a community that nurtures our lives and the lives of our families.

The future of Davis is currently at a crossroad, and what Davis looks like in 20 years depends on which direction we choose to take.  If you were ever inclined to “vote your pocketbook,” now is the time to do so.

The decision we make in this Council election will chart our future … stay the course toward bankruptcy or take a new road toward long-term sustainability.  Our journey is all about choices of how and where we spend our money.

Our current direction is to mortgage our future the same way we have done recently by:

  • Letting our infrastructure deteriorate by deferring critical repairs;
  • Surrendering $10 million and receiving $0 in return when the Council as a whole approved the Cannery CFD;
  • Siphoning $1 million a year for 30 years of taxpayer money ($30 million total) out of the local economy and giving it to out-of-town bond brokers;
  • Wasting $4 million per year by borrowing millions of dollars at a 6% interest rate while simultaneously squirreling away over $100 million in investment accounts that earn less than 1%;
  • Giving unsustainable pay raises to employees through Consent Agenda decisions; and
  • Reducing the levels of municipal services as they are pushed aside by rising retirement benefit costs, such as CalPERS projection of a 22% increase in employer contribution rates by 2021.

If we choose to continue on our current path, Davis will face the specter of bankruptcy long before the 20 years elapse.

That bankruptcy would most likely be managed by imposing an additional, painful, perpetual tax of $2,000 per parcel (with future additional increases likely).

On our current path the future is higher taxes, declining levels of service and reduced housing values … an alarming vision that takes real money out of our pockets in unnecessary, avoidable taxes, and passes a fiscal mess on to our kids (who won’t be able to afford to live here).

A better choice is to elect people to City Council because they are committed to more than collegiality, and want to fix this mess . . . people who want to represent all the people rather than special interests like out-of-town developers, downtown property investors, and public sector unions.

WillArnold2016Will Arnold

When I announced my candidacy, I made reference to my three children, two of whom are under two years old. What kind of community we pass on to the next generation is not a mere academic exercise for me.

No one, myself included, wants to see our community change in any major way. I believe this is a driving motivation for those who work hard fighting against projects they believe will change our community, like the surface water project or the Nishi Gateway.

But here’s the problem: We are changing, whether we like it or not.

Our world, our region and our university are all growing, rapidly. The needs of our residents, neighbors and partners continue to evolve. And we are limited in what changes we can control, as individuals or as a community.

The choice to resist change at all cost is itself a choice, and it has a steep costs.

Census figures show that, in 1980, nearly 30% of Davis homeowners were under 35. By 2013, that number had fallen to 4%. This is a major change, and is already affecting quality of life for our entire community.

Our public schools suffer from declining enrollment, which has led to declining revenue and an inability to address structural needs. Our municipal infrastructure crumbles beneath our feet, as we drive and bike over bumps and potholes, pools and parks are shuttered, and our storm water system – to name one under-the-radar infrastructure need – is on its last legs.  Such decline, if allowed to continue, negatively affects our quality of life and the value of our homes.

I have repeatedly called for a new General Plan so we can take an holistic view of our needs and address them in a comprehensive way. But that is a long process, and we have immediate unmet needs. In my opinion, we also have a few modest and reasonable proposals to address them. This is why I am a vocal supporter of Nishi and Mace, and why I am cautiously optimistic that consensus can be reached on a number of infill proposals.

Frerichs-Announce-2016-5Lucas Frerichs

2017 is the 100th anniversary of Davis’ incorporation as a city. I’m quite excited and optimistic about “Davis of the future”. Active engagement is the hallmark of our community; over time, we’ve worked together to chart our own course, rather than settle for the conventional notions of the day…think of such innovations as the nation’s first bike lanes (50th anniversary in 2017), curbside recycling program, energy efficiency standards – adopted by the State of CA (now Title 24), innovative planning and design (Village Homes), commitment to open space and strong agricultural heritage. Davis continues to be one of the brightest gems in California’s crown.

We’re now drawing upon our deep community commitment to craft a new vision and direction for Davis. A new city General Plan is needed to guide us in the 21st century.  Sustainability is paramount, and must be applied across the spectrum: whether in finance/budgeting, investment in our infrastructure (water, roads, energy system, broadband, and additional community amenities), environmental planning and adaptation to climate change, as well as truly innovative economic development and a renewed commitment to community caring.

Davis has challenges-like all communities- ie. how to adequately fund community needs, how much housing to build- where and for whom); even from the looming effects of climate change.  What sets us apart is that Davis possesses the ingenuity, resources and strong will for collaboration to overcome challenges put in our way.

The Davis/UC Davis community also serves as the educational hub of the Sacramento region, which allows us to be leaders on a regional scale, but as the home of UC Davis, we’re positioned to help solve some of the most pressing global challenges in the 21st century.

I’ve often said that Davis is one of, if not the most, disproportionately influential communities in California due to the multitudes of residents who work for, or are engaged in, all aspects of governance and research for our great state.  Davis thought leaders, whether at the state, UC Davis, or in our own city, are making key decisions and findings that will influence the direction of California and the world.

Lee-Brett-HSBrett Lee

20 years from now, it would be nice if the city’s finances were in good shape: our pension obligations were properly funded, our street maintenance backlog was eliminated and we were paying the true maintenance costs of our infrastructure. The money for this would come from increased revenues from higher value added businesses located in town.

It would also be nice if the current footprint of the city were similar to what it is today; the lion’s share of the growth occurring from infill densification.  Thoughtful, sustainable design that respects the character of the neighborhoods (like the Pena project at 4th and C).

It would be nice to have downtown that had more mixed use buildings 2,3 and 4 stories tall with independent retailers on the ground floor, and office space and residential units above.

Our existing business park areas were fully leased and utilized with additional capacity through increased density.

Our design standards would not only reflect sustainability principles (LEED, GHG emissions, etc.) but also reflect a wider range of sizes and shapes of units that would contribute to increased affordability at the middle range of the market.

Apartment complexes would be designed to provide students an easy car-free way to go to and from campus and also encourage students to become more integrated into our community.

The downtown “bar scene” would become “the downtown arts and entertainment scene” through the addition of live music venues and other activities that do not primarily revolve around the consumption of alcohol.  The downtown would provide fun for a wider variety of ages not just the 21-25 year olds.

Our current parks and greenbelt system would be supplemented by true open space lands on the perimeter of our city that could be used for nature walks, dog walking, mountain biking and general wild spaces for kids and families to roam.

We would have a low crime community that continues to be bike friendly with better designed roads and paths that make walking, biking and driving safer and more convenient.

And, it would be nice if we had a citywide weekly poem.  A poem posted on the city’s website, the Davis Enterprise’s front page and the Davis Vanguard’s home page each week.  The poet laureate could make the selection each week.

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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  1. hpierce

    Somebody needs a geography refresher… D street is a block away from C Street…

    I know today is Friday the thirteenth… is Comedy Central providing the material today?  The “press release” from the ‘Yes on A’ folk had me laughing…

  2. Marina Kalugin

    And, this is why I am only voting for Matt…

    He is the only one to call a spade a spade…and the cannery $10mil to pals of the current council….that is why he is the only one truly worthy.

    If you are for Matt, vote only Matt….the others are All too alike……

    and they can split the difference for the other two seats…

    That, my friends, is how to get real people who truly think on the council…..

    I also have my faves of the others, but without Matt we will continue to have giveaways to the developers…who are much more well versed in this game….fortunately many of the peons in the field know them better than  those who contribute to them…

    1. Michael Harrington

      Marina:  hate to say it but Matt is strongly in favor of Nishi even though he admits the project is seriously screwed up and he would not have voted for it.   “Was he for  it before he was against it?”  Is that the sort of performance you expect from a guy who might be the sweet vote at 1 am with CC Chambers filled with angry residents over a big policy?


  3. Marina Kalugin

    PS>  I like Will… he is a nice guy… I bought my first house from one of his relatives…and Doug was a truly nice guy also, RIP…..but the only reason Will has so much money in his coffers is because he was born into the Real Estate dynasty in this town…..and yes, he is a wonderful person.and so forth…but if you read the statements of all but Matt one would truly think this a group of hippies sitting around passing a joint around… been there done that….and then I voted for Black and Poulos

    Everyone knows the Arnolds and yet, my agent kinda did a creepy thing at the last minute to close the deal…I never used her again for any of my other purchases and sales….you see …even though I am loyal…and did I care how many properties she bought or sold……nah…

    I also learned that the nice guys can be manipulated….huhhh….not saying that is the case here….but…


  4. Marina Kalugin

    Oh and by the way, Will,   get rid of the common core and expand GATE and we won’t have declining enrollment…..folks of means are bailing the public schools in Davis in droves…

  5. Marina Kalugin

    nahhh….lucas is too much like the good ole boys….and guess what he is…

    and, many may not know the truly secret partner Dave Taormino of the Arnold Dynasty….he is not spoken about too much…but most of the big developments in decades he also had a foot in the door.

    The reason, Will old pal, that the infractructure it crumbling is because of continuing poor choices related to development and letting developrs get away with what they do…and the city looking the other way at what the big guys do while harassing the small homeowners…

    Look at the sidewalks in Woodbridge…and compare to much older sidewalks in the downtown..

    With Will that will expand as his family and friends benefit of not only a friend but a family member….not that there is anything wrong with that…


    1. hpierce

      That is a truly ignorant/ill-informed comment…  unless you believe 2 to 12 lot subdivisions are “big developments”… whatever…

      Taormino was developing as early as 1985… small projects, never a major “player”, as far as SF units… minor commercial, as well…

  6. Marina Kalugin

    and, sorry, but I didn’t find a single idea to rebut with Lucas….did he really go blah blah blah and not have a single idea to even share………..   looks like it…..

    he must be an attorney….not that there is anything wrong with that either…


    1. hpierce

      Did you not see Lucas’ creds as to profession?  Listed in the Voters Guide as UC Community Relations Manager (his ‘statement’)… see also,

      Personally, I believe you’d have more credibility if you actually got facts straight… Lucas does not appear to be a licensed attorney/lawyer… he does not claim to be… I am not a “supporter” of Lucas, but I do believe in “facts”… more and more your posts are devoid of them, or purport “false facts”… please re-consider… I appreciate your opinions, insights, but please don’t pollute those with ‘facts’ that are demonstratively false… I actually offer this as a friendly admonishment…

  7. Marina Kalugin

    by process of elimination, the only other one left who I will not name and who I have liked over the years, actually had a nice vision and some ideas   – good job however, your real problem is to hang with lucas and paint a rosy picture when truly things are not all kumbaya….

  8. Michael Harrington

    Matt: the city is not going bankrupt.  That is fear-mongering.  We can and will fix things, but not by approving horrible projects like Nishi.

    1. Don Shor

      The city has long-term structural deficits that can only be solved by increased revenues or cost cutting. It is almost guaranteed now that the temporary sales tax increase will be permanent. Our property tax bills — yours and mine — will probably need to increase by $2000 per parcel at least, probably more. Pinkerton cut 20% from the staff without an actual decrease in employment costs. So the trajectory of the city’s finances is most assuredly toward technical bankruptcy OR significantly higher tax cuts along with very significant service cuts.
      Projects like Nishi will bring in revenues directly and indirectly. It will reduce the amount of tax increases needed, and will allow the city to continue to provide the services and amenities Davis residents expect.

      1. hpierce

        the temporary sales tax increase will be permanent

        C’mon Don… without getting metaphysical, the only things that are “permanent” include gravity, mortality, and most chemical reactions… let’s get real in the words we use…

        1. Don Shor

          The day the sales tax reverts to the previous amount, the city is instantly bankrupt. So I stand by my statement.
          “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” — Ben Franklin

          (ps: I said “It is almost guaranteed…”)

        2. hpierce

          Exception noted… but “almost” and “permanent”?  There is a linguistic, and logical disconnect, unless the words follow one another… even then what does “almost permanent” mean?  Something like “a little bit pregnant”?  “Yes or no”?

          1. Don Shor

            It means that in our lifetimes and those of our children it is very unlikely that the sales tax in Davis will ever go down again. I seem to recall that it was presented as a temporary measure, a bridge to fiscal stability.

  9. Marina Kalugin

    Dear all…..sometimes I have the facts but as I say I have been out of the loop for a bit.. instead of wading through mounds of stuff, I am happy to have someone set me straight….it is easier…

    Like with Lucas  – so he is not an attorney…he was just acting like a typical one….talk on and on and say nothing…….it was kinda a joke but I know many don’t think I am funny…

    And, as far as Matt…..I never expect to agree with anyone 100% ………

    and we all have our reasons why we are passionate about some things …I find most folks here much more passionate about many topics…, unlike the typical folks in the general  masses…..those who are  busy eating fast food and watching “reality” TV>…

    and, gee…..ignorant?    lol…..    sorry  I don’t have time to be digging around in my old file boxes and looking for the Taormino developments over the decades….but some day when I retire I may have some time…

    in the meantime, if anyone has the time, and the data should not be hard to locate….it would be interesting to see a list of the various developments in town per year, and who provided the funds, which engineers were on the project, which builders, et al….   many of the same and most familiar faces will show up…. a lot…

    Have a good night all.

  10. sisterhood

    “Apartment complexes would be designed to provide students an easy car-free way to go to and from campus and also encourage students to become more integrated into our community.”

    Brett, that sound wonderful.

    Students- car free is not that inconvenient and not impossible. Some of you already know that. The ones that choose their parents’ hand me down cars, or new cars they received as a high school grad present, (or something in between,) think about your future without a private car. You may really enjoy it.

    Your poem idea, I have several suggestions. I like that idea a lot.

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