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