Nishi Cheating City Out of Affordable Housing

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Affordable Apartments, Davis CA Davis Vanguardby Martha Teeter

The plight of the poor and homeless was brought home to me when I met a woman with two Ph.D.s who was homeless in Davis. Her delight was to go to the UC Davis Library to read as much as possible, until her health deteriorated due to homelessness.

I am myself a Ph.D. retired professor and this affected me deeply. I am now passionate about helping homeless find an innovative solution to their housing problem. I am working with an interfaith group on innovative housing — an autonomous village for homeless.

This and other housing for the low-income and homeless is highly dependent on funds or land put aside by developers for affordable housing. Nishi is cheating the city and the community out of affordable housing by contributing only a token amount toward affordable housing. The $9 million in fees they claim will appear only in five to 10 years, but they’re needed now.

The City Council exempted Nishi from in-lieu fees of $11.5 million for affordable housing. Instead, developers will build luxury two-bedroom, two-bath apartments with rent estimated independently as $2,400 per month. This will in no way serve typical UCD students or the low-income and homeless. Read the factual arguments against Nishi on Pages 32 and 33 in the Combined Sample Ballot sent to all Davis residents.

Further, Nishi’s low-lying location next to a major highway constitutes a toxic challenge to the health of occupants of the Nishi property. This has been pointed out clearly by Tom Cahill, a physicist at UCD, and reported in The Enterprise.

Don’t be fooled by the slick ads at our door and signs along the highway or by the nine pages on Nishi in the Combined Sample Ballot booklet. It shows that the residences are next to Interstate 80, and the isolated parks and trees are unlikely to mitigate the considerable noise and air pollution.

No on Nishi is the only sensible vote for caring Davis citizens.

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51 thoughts on “Nishi Cheating City Out of Affordable Housing”

  1. South of Davis

    Martha wrote:

    > Nishi Cheating City Out of Affordable Housing

    But never explains how they are “cheating” (aka “acting dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage”)…

    > I am now passionate about helping homeless find an innovative

    > solution to their housing problem.

    Thanks for helping the poor, but sadly the “homeless” (aka people who have seeping next to the railroad tracks for years) are not “homeless” because apartments are not “affordable”.  We could build 1,000 units in town and charge 25% of market rent and we will still have people that are “homeless” living next to the railroad tracks.

    P.S. Martha hit many of the No on A lies (including my first time reading “toxic challenge” (vs. “toxic soup”):

    Nishi is cheating the city and the community… Lie… (mixed use is exempt from affordable housing)

    The City Council exempted Nishi from in-lieu fees of $11.5 million …Lie…(mixed use has been exempt for years).

    with rent estimated independently as $2,400 per month… Lie… (the No on A people came up with this “rent” by multiplying an independent rent per foot number for multiple unit types to a single unit) see:

    https://www.davisvanguard.org/2016/05/guest-commentary-debunking-2400-rental-figure-nishi/

    his will in no way serve typical UCD students… Lie… Nishi will rent to a majority of students.

    1. Eric Gelber

      Let’s not conflate the issues of homelessness and the need for affordable housing. Affordable housing meets the needs of moderate, low, and very low income families who are priced out of the market.

      The Affordable Housing Ordinance does not exempt mixed use developments but it does exempt stacked condominiums. That is the result of a commitment made to the Nishi developer in 2012 that was kept when the ordinance was amended in 2013. The Council could have lowered the inclusionary requirement but, instead, chose to eliminate it altogether. The Nishi developer could have chosen to include affordable units anyway but, instead, chose to make a payment equivalent to a paltry percentage of what would have been in lieu fees.

      Davis needs housing, but housing that comports with Davis values. In my opinion, Nishi doesn’t meet that standard.

      1. Frankly

        There is no way to create affordable housing as defined by a social justice perspective after RDA was killed and raided by the Governor to pay off his teacher union friends.  Hence, the only way we can move to make housing more affordable is to build more so there is a greater supply of housing to meet the demand.

        Voting no on Measure A / Nishi ensures less affordable housing.  You can certainly make the case that you are voting no out of principle for disliking the reduction in affordable housing dollars that the city would have otherwise extorted from the developer; but you don’t get to sit on the moral high ground for any practical assistance to affordable housing by voting no.

        1. Tia Will

          Frankly

          There is no way to create affordable housing as defined by a social justice perspective after RDA was killed and raided by the Governor to pay off his teacher union friends”

          I simply do not agree with this statement. While it is accurate to say that we cannot do it with RDA funds, it is inaccurate to say that we cannot do it. We could do it. We are an affluent community that could choose to tax ourselves for specific projects, or fund raise for projects, or use specific fees such as paid parking for projects. We choose not to do any of these things. But it is a matter of choice, not a matter of impossibility.

    2. Rodney Robinson

      Excuse me but the mixed use exemption applies to infill development.  The Nishi is not an infill project as it is outside the existing city limit line. It is adjacent to the city but not within therefore it is not infill. Hence not appropriately exempted from city mixed use standards.

       

      1. David Greenwald

        The language makes no mention of infill: “Stacked flat” condominiums or residential units within vertical mixed use developments are exempt from the requirement to provide designated affordable housing units.”

        1. Eric Gelber

          Correct. The ordinance doesn’t refer to infill. The staff report at the time the exemption was adopted, however, says the purpose was to benefit small infill projects. Nishi is neither small nor infill.

      2. Matt Williams

        Rodney’s concern about the definition of the term “infill” is legitimate.  It is also legal in nature, subject to a determination of the courts.  Nothing that the voters do, or don’t do at the polls regarding Measure A will affect that court determination at all.  It is a wholly separate issue from the political question the voters are currently considering.

  2. Tia Will

    Don’t be fooled by the slick ads at our door and signs along the highway or by the nine pages on Nishi in the Combined Sample Ballot booklet.”

    I agree that one should “not be fooled by the slick ads….”

    I also feel that one should not be fooled by claims not backed by demonstrable facts. Amongst these would be:

    1.” constitutes a toxic challenge to the health of occupants of the Nishi property.” This is not what Dr. Cahill pointed out. Dr. Cahill’s information suggests but does not prove that there is a significant challenge here. He was calling for more research, not claiming certainty on the issue as this statement implies. What is being weighed are certain vs speculative risks and this statement implies that the actual risk is known.

    2. “the isolated parks and trees are unlikely to mitigate the considerable noise and air pollution.”

    This assertion seems to be under dispute depending on whose expertise one chooses to rely. Don Shor, a local expert on trees and plants seems to feel that considerable mitigation could be achieved in a timely manner. For me, this is within the realm of speculation, not fact to be claimed by one side or the other.

    No on Nishi is the only sensible vote for caring Davis citizens.”

    There are many ways to view the pros and cons of this project. I do not believe that there is only one “sensible vote” for “caring” Davis citizens. I do not believe that either side has the undisputed moral high ground here and do not like this form of emotional manipulation any more than I like the name calling that I have objected to from the “Yes” side previously.

    1. Roberta Millstein

      Tia, you’ve cast this as “certain vs. speculative,” but that’s a false and inappropriate dichotomy for science.  No science is “certain”; all of it can be overturned by evidence.  That doesn’t make it speculative.  Claims can be supported by more or less evidence, and there is quite a wide range there that goes well beyond speculative without ever reaching certainty.  Dr. Cahill’s claims are well-supported, even though more evidence would be even better.  But the right thing to do when you have a red flag is to get more evidence, not to forge on ahead and hope that the red flag is mistaken.

      As for castigating Martha for claiming certainty, I don’t see where she has said that; you’ve read that in.  Will you continue to criticize the “Yes” side for its claims that proposed mitigations will be sufficient?  I haven’t seen you do that until now, even though many such claims have been made.

      1. ryankelly

        Roberta, You don’t get to castigate people for seeing more speculation than certainty in the expert opinions given regarding Nishi.  We know that you oppose Nishi, but you shouldn’t pretend to be holder of moral and ethical standards for city development for people in Davis.

      2. Tia Will

        Roberta

        No science is “certain”; all of it can be overturned by evidence.”

        This is almost, but not quite accurate. There is what is considered “established fact”. I will give a concrete example. Antibiotics are capable of killing bacteria. I do not believe any of us who do not have philosophic or religious objections would not give our child an antibiotic if they had a serious infection even if there were no current studies proving the broad statement that “antibiotics kill bacteria”. Now we might argue about the best antibiotic to choose, or the specific risk/benefit ratio of a given antibiotic, but we would not place our child’s life at risk to challenge the basic established premise that antibiotics can save the lives of those with bacterial infection.

        Dr. Cahill’s claims are well-supported”

        Dr. Cahill’s claims with regard to asthma and cardiovascular disease may be well supported. I do not know because I have not spent time on the original articles nor the statistics. His claims ( or the exaggerated claims of some supporters) for autism are not well-supported from my point of view as an obstetrician.This leads me to wonder whether his claims with regard to the other issues may not also be overstated. I have been very careful not to over step the boundaries of my specific area of expertise.

        With regard to Nishi, we know that there is a statistical risk of death by automobile collision that is greater than is the risk of walking. This is established fact. We do not know the numeric risk for this particular site. What we not know is the increased risk of cardiovascular disease, or asthma, or autism that is associated with the proximity to the I-80. at this site. This is what I am referring to as the speculative risk.

        As for castigating Martha for claiming certainty….”

        I disagree with your objection. The quote from Martha that I was referencing is the following :

        No on Nishi is the only sensible vote for caring Davis citizens.”

        It sounds like a declarative sentence spoken with certainty to me.

         

        1. Roberta Millstein

          Tia,

          Yes, antibiotics are capable of killing bacteria in many circumstances.  But, as I am sure you are well aware, bacteria can also evolve resistance to antibiotics.  So, not only are there no studies that prove “antibiotics kill bacteria,” there are studies that disprove it.  Instead, the claim should be something more like: given bacteria in their current state of evolution, some antibiotics are capable of killing some bacteria.  I believe that there is very strong evidence for that claim.  But that could change over time with the overuse of antibiotics (which I hope does not happen).

          I am glad you have changed your language from the extremes of “certainty” and “speculation” to “well-supported” and “not well supported.”  That is closer to the sort of nuance that I think is appropriate for discussing science.  It is true that we don’t know the precise risk at Nishi.  It is doubtful that we could ever know that, given the vagaries of winds, traffic, etc (that is, the risk is a moving target).  But again, that doesn’t mean we know nothing.  We can combine what we know from the studies with what we know of the site to make our best judgment of the risks.  As for comparing it to the risk of walking, I have now challenged you on several occasions to say what the basis is for your claim that the residents of Nishi will be driving less by living there, but you have not responded.  That is, you don’t know where the residents of Nishi will be working or other places that they may need to travel regularly.  I recall that the project includes something like 1500 parking spaces?  That doesn’t sound like car-reduced living to me.  And, as I have also said before, why not advocate for more housing at the University, as Eileen Samitz is?  That would also be walkable/bikable with fewer health risks.  Wouldn’t that be the more cautious solution from a health perspective?  After all, even if you think the research is speculative, it still might turn out to be correct.

          Look back at your point #1.  You’ll see that you were accusing Martha of saying that Dr. Cahill’s claims were certain.

  3. nameless

    FACT: To vote “no” on Nishi will mean $1 million dollars will NOT be placed in the affordable housing fund.  How the heck does voting “no” on Nishi in any way help to increase affordable housing in Davis? If anything, it robs Davis of more affordable housing!

    1. Eric Gelber

      Nameless:

      FACT: To vote “no” on Nishi will mean $1 million dollars will NOT be placed in the affordable housing fund.

      Apparently, some can be bought off cheaply.

      Frankly:

      … the only way we can make housing more affordable is to build more …

      Do you seriously believe housing costs in Davis will come down enough to be affordable to those with low and very low incomes simply by increasing supply?

      1. Frankly

        Do you seriously not understand the economic effects of supply and demand and the need to start building more housing at some point to add to the supply?

        1. Frankly

          Nice. Respond to a question with a question instead of answering.

          Nice.  Chastising me for not answering the question instead of answering the question.

          So why are Woodland housing prices 60% of Davis housing prices?  The answer is that the demand for housing is Woodland is lower relative to the supply when compared to Davis.

          And in Davis we have a pent up demand.  We need to start building more housing.  There is no silver bullet unless UCD commits to building 12,000 additional units in the next five years.  It has not and it will not.

          Let’s say we do build some subsidized housing in an attempt to create affordable housing.  Most students qualify as low income.  Without a good vacancy rate of student rentals, the new supply of subsidized affordable housing would just be occupied by students.

          What demographic are we trying to help with government subsidized affordable housing?

          This point is really mute though because

  4. Frankly

    I am going to venture an educated guess that most of the people actively opposing the Nishi development on the grounds that it shorted the city on expected money for affordable housing voted for Jerry Brown and are supportive of the CTA.

    Governor Brown killed RDA for the teachers union… to take from the RDA programs the property tax appreciation derived from the improvement of land that would have otherwise NOT been improved from lack of funding and lack of private development interest, and thus cause it to be given to the education system as the State was busy spending its tax revenue to buy off the California Prison Guards union and other state employee unions.

    The destruction of RDA was just another in a long list of public-sector tools and programs being consumed by the insatiable need for Democrat politicians to make millionaires out most public sector union members as a payback for their campaign contribution and free campaign labor.

    What has Davis lost?

    Here is the list of what RDA previously help us do:

    – Mace Blvd over-crossing improvements.

    – Richard Blvd improvements

    – Poleline road over-crossing

    – Putah Creek bike underpass

    – Davis train depot

    – Reconstruction of 10 downtown intersections.

    – Core area draining and lighting improvements.

    – Expansion of Central Park

    – 1st and F  parking garage.

    – Improvements to 5th and G Plaza

    – Chen building improvements

    – 3rd and C mixed use projects

    – Bistro 33 retain historic city hall

    – Varsity Theater renovation expansion

    – Miska’s Cafe / Hunt Boyer Tank House renovation

    – US Bicycle Hall of Fame Museum

    – 670 new affordable dwelling units

    – Preservation of 118 affordable units

    – 27 renovated affordable units.

    – New Harmony (the last one I think)

    Now RDA is no more and there is currently no way to do any of this.  So, slap yourself on the back for supporting the politicians and political policies that supported the elimination of RDA.  You have a lot to be proud of… NOT.

    1. Don Shor

      Governor Brown killed RDA for the teachers union… to take from the RDA programs the property tax appreciation derived from the improvement of land that would have otherwise NOT been improved from lack of funding and lack of private development interest, and thus cause it to be given to the education system as the State was busy spending its tax revenue to buy off the California Prison Guards union and other state employee unions.

      Do you ever stop spinning everything through your narrow hard-right partisan lens?
      He did it to help balance the budget and to increase funding to schools, and then proceeded to direct that funding to the districts that were most in need.

      There are successor agencies and legislation has been passed, if I recall, to allow cities to resume similar tax-sequestering mechanisms — but with more stringent oversight.
      RDA’s had completely drifted from their original purpose. They had nothing to do with blight. Affordable housing was just one of the many things they funded, and much of the other stuff had little to do with actual urban needs. They were a boondoggle, short and simple, in many of the areas where they existed.
      It always amazes me that any serious conservative would support RDA’s. Just look at their history.

      1. Frankly

        Do you ever stop spinning everything through your narrow hard-right partisan lens?

        My facts reported on RDA have much less to do with a partisan lens than does your continued attempts to defend this governor that has consistently sided with the teachers unions that have been his primary campaign money and manpower suppliers.

        And here is another example… http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jan/08/local/la-me-0108-brown-education-20110107

        In one of Gov. Jerry Brown’s first official acts this week, he sacked the majority of the state Board of Education, replacing several vocal proponents of charter schools, parent empowerment and teacher accountability.

        A broad range of educators, policy makers and others say the move was widely believed to be the handiwork of the California Teachers Assn., which heavily supported Brown in his gubernatorial campaign. The union’s support will be vital if he, as expected, places measures on the June ballot to temporarily raise taxes to ease the state’s budget deficit. It also appears to delay a key vote about parents’ power to reshape failing schools — an effort opposed by the union — leading to strong criticism of the governor from fellow Democrats.

        “No doubt about it, this is in part looking at the November election first and foremost, and then of course upcoming elections,” said former state Sen. Gloria Romero, a Los Angeles Democrat.

        The 11-member state Board of Education has a seemingly dry set of kindergarten-through-12th-grade education responsibilities but recently, it has inserted itself into the most controversial topics in California classrooms: the evaluation of teachers based on their students’ performance, charter schools and the turnaround of failing schools.

        Don: It always amazes me that any serious conservative would support RDA’s. Just look at their history.

        Almost every program that funnels money from government programs to the private sector is fraught with cronyism and corruption.  So using this as the argument to kill RDA is just a convenient deflection of the real reason.  Because it was feeding other union members, the State had less and less money to send to schools that needed more and more money to feed their union members.  So RDA was the attractive cookie jar to raid.

        And now all those projects that so benefited Davis… nothing else like them can be done… unless we allow private for-profit development and demand they also improve our infrastructure.   How is that working?

        1. Don Shor

          Brown has bucked the teachers union on many occasions. AB 375 for one, Prop 30 just this year. He has not “consistently sided with the teachers union.”
          This is the partisan spin you can’t resist:

          Because it was feeding other union members, the State had less and less money to send to schools that needed more and more money to feed their union members.

          In Frankly’s world, more money for schools just means more money for unions. You can’t get that out of your head. So a governor who promises to restore school funding and then does it is “feeding unions.”
          You have an unnatural hostility to unions that colors everything, and a personal animosity to Governor Brown.
          He eliminated the RDA’s because he was balancing the budget and considered them wasteful. If the city wants to build affordable housing or embark on downtown beautification projects, it can run those through the regular budget process.

          Almost every program that funnels money from government programs to the private sector is fraught with cronyism and corruption. So using this as the argument to kill RDA is just a convenient deflection

          You can’t seriously think this is a rational statement. You, Frankly, just basically said: RDA’s were corrupt. They involved cronyism. But there was no good reason to kill them.
          Turn in your conservative card. You no longer deserve it.

        2. Jim Frame

          Almost every program that funnels money from government programs to the private sector is fraught with cronyism and corruption.

          You mean like the SBA loan program?  Judging from the 990s, senior staff at California Statewide do quite well from such “cronyism and corruption.”

        3. Frankly

          Oops…  Missed this one.

          Yes, the program had bad CDC actors and the SBA took them out.  And the SBA is still working to gain more muscle to deal with some banks abusing the program.

          Bu the design of the SBA 504 program should be a model for most of government.  It is a non-subsidy program… No taxpayer money is required… The program is self-funding.  It certifies private non-profit business to do the customer-facing work, and then oversees and regulates the crap out of them (including guidelines for compensation, etc.)

          I sort of laugh at your comment in comparison to what management and professional staff in most government positions make including their retirement benefits.  Do you really want to go there?

          RDA was a useful and working program that lacked sufficient oversight and regulation.  It was abused by some, but also provide tremendous value as a tool to make community improvements that now cannot be done.

          But hey, we know we need to keep up that trend for 50-some-year old retired government employee millionaires.  That is more important.

    2. Don Shor

      Here is the list of what RDA previously help us do:

      – Mace Blvd over-crossing improvements.

      – Richard Blvd improvements

      – Poleline road over-crossing

      – Putah Creek bike underpass

      – Davis train depot

      – Reconstruction of 10 downtown intersections.

      – Core area draining and lighting improvements.

      – Expansion of Central Park

      – 1st and F parking garage.

      – Improvements to 5th and G Plaza

      – Chen building improvements

      – 3rd and C mixed use projects

      – Bistro 33 retain historic city hall

      – Varsity Theater renovation expansion

      – Miska’s Cafe / Hunt Boyer Tank House renovation

      – US Bicycle Hall of Fame Museum

      – 670 new affordable dwelling units

      – Preservation of 118 affordable units

      – 27 renovated affordable units.

      – New Harmony (the last one I think)

      Great list. Which of those were solving blight?

      1. Frankly

        The goals and regulations for RDAs did not have that narrow focus that you keep repeating.

        Although the redevelopment of blight was certainly one goal, there was also the goal to revitalize a deteriorating area… that is a broader goal than just “blight”.   But redevelopment agencies existed primarily to reduce unfavorable economic and social conditions in existing communities… a much broader goal.

        RDAs worked to…

        – Build or rehabilitate housing for working families,

        – Upgrade roads, water systems and other public works and infrastructure,

        – Building  community centers, parks, libraries, public safety buildings and other
        community facilities,

        – Helping small businesses by revitalizing down towns and injecting new life and economic activity into older retail and downtown shopping districts (Winters has really benefited from this),

        – Redeveloping rundown or blighted neighborhoods, which can help reduce crime and increase opportunity for struggling communities,

        – Beautifying communities through landscaping, improvement of neighborhood streets and creation of greenbelts.

        And now that is all gone thanks to old-teacher-union-controlled Governor Brown and the Democrats in complete control of this state.

        1. Don Shor

          This site sums it up well:

          Why did Gov. Jerry Brown push to end redevelopment agencies?

          Brown argued that the state could no longer afford redevelopment in a budget crisis. Redevelopment is contentious because of the financial advantage it provides redevelopment agencies and their community sponsors, primarily cities, over school districts, counties and other property tax recipients. He argued that the money would be better spent directly on schools and core city and county services, such as police and fire protection.

          The state also has been footing the bill indirectly. Since voters approved a proposition requiring minimum funding for education in 1988, the state has had to make up the difference for some of the money reallocated from schools to redevelopment agencies.

          There also have been examples of abuse and questions raised about how effective redevelopment agencies have been at combating blight. A few examples were noted in a recent report by the state controller.

          http://californiawatch.org/dailyreport/explainer-end-redevelopment-agencies-14624
          Just a reminder that we had a budget crisis, and this was one component of solving that budget crisis. Governor Brown isn’t controlled by the teachers union, as they would be the first to tell you. Your personal bias about this governor fails to allow you to see his basically pragmatic nature.

          If there are worthy projects, including affordable housing, a city can budget for them or float bonds. Or the state can fund those, as was proposed by a couple of legislators last year. The RDA’s were subject to abuse and had very little oversight. They were basically municipal slush funds that had outlived their usefulness. If they are reborn, it needs to be with much more accountability.

        2. Frankly

          This is the same BS fed to the ignorant.  And apparently you buy it too.

          For a lot of RDA development the tax revenue that the greedy teachers union wanted would not have existed except for the RDA program.  The program resulted in improvements to the property that increased the property tax as the property became useful and higher-valued.  The schools shared in this growth in tax revenue… but the Democrats, the Governor and the teachers union collaborated to take it all by killing the program.  It was a like a windfall profit tax.  Except that in this case they looted the money and killed the producer.

          1. Don Shor

            The program resulted in improvements to the property that increased the property tax as the property became useful and higher-valued.

            The property values in the RDA district of Davis increased faster than in the rest of town? Are you sure? And it did so because of these projects, not just because of the increase in property values all over California? Really? You can prove that? Of course you can’t.
            There is no logical basis to the RDA usage in Davis. It was created and existed to fund the overpass, some road projects, and the pass-through agreement. That’s it. It outlived that use about a decade later. But like most tax spigots, it continued to flow because nobody wanted to turn it off. And you support this.

      2. hpierce

        Don… affordable housing was also within the appropriate purview of RDA funding… but you are correct… there are a number of projects listed that serve neither purpose, credibly… perhaps if the money had not been spent for questionable/inappropriate projects, we’d have amassed reserves for true “blight” or affordable housing.

    3. Tia Will

      Frankly

      derived from the improvement of land that would have otherwise NOT been improved from lack of funding and lack of private development interest, and thus cause it to be given to the education system as the State was busy spending its tax revenue to buy off the California Prison Guards union and other state employee unions.”

      I agree with some of your points and certainly appreciate your objective listing of projects. However, I would like to point out the subjective nature of a couple of your claims.

      You state “improvement of land that would otherwise NOT have been improved from lack of funding and lack of private development interest”. As we know from how contentious this issue is in Davis, there is not universal agreement on what is perceived as “improvement of land”. Some see agriculture as a higher value than building either housing, parking, or business parks. You may not agree, but it is undeniable that some people view it that way.

      With regard to “lack of private development interest”. This is for me the same as saying “not enough money in it for me”. That may well be the case, but is not the fault of those in government. This is exclusively the decision of the private interests involved.

      Now RDA is no more and there is currently no way to do any of this.”

      Again, only partial agreement. There is no way to do any of this with RDA funds. There is not “no way to to any of this”. There is no way that we choose to fund any of this. Davis is a very affluent community. We could choose the route of taxing ourselves more for very specific projects, or holding developers to the letter of financial obligation without exception, or raising money for specific projects through specific fees such as paid parking downtown. It is not that we do not have options. We simply do not choose to do so.

       

       

      1. Frankly

        Davis is a very affluent community. We could choose the route of taxing ourselves more for very specific projects, or holding developers to the letter of financial obligation without exception, or raising money for specific projects through specific fees such as paid parking downtown. It is not that we do not have options. We simply do not choose to do so.

        This list includes ideas that are fanciful and lack feasibility, or that don’t work because private money expects a return or else it goes elsewhere.

        If these ideas are so good, then we would have never needed RDA to begin with.

        1. Don Shor

          We didn’t need the RDA. The history of the Davis RDA was that it was created to fund a freeway overpass. It had nothing to do with blight or redevelopment in any literal sense of either word.
          The only reason the RDA money existed was because the state backfilled the tax revenues to the schools. It was a method of taxing some residents to pay for projects elsewhere in the city, sort of near to where they lived. South Davis residents’ taxes went to pay for the overpass and a bunch of other stuff, only because the state made up the difference to the school district. Projects should be considered and funded on their own merits, not through some Rube Goldberg tax/spend scheme.

        2. Frankly

          We didn’t need RDA?  How about you look at that list I provided and delete most of them as not being done and then come back with a more thoughtful answer.

          1. Don Shor

            If those projects were worthy and necessary, they could have been funded by standard issue of municipal bonds and other budget processes. The RDA was not necessary for them. Meanwhile, while that money was going to those projects, the city was traveling down a path of unsustainable long-term fiscal insolvency. We were buying pretty baubles while the treasury was draining dry.
            And you support that and claim to be a conservative.

  5. Misanthrop

    I’ve heard that Jerry Brown killed redevelopment to fund teacher union priorities but I wonder if that was all. Remember Jerry Brown spent a number of years as Mayor of Oakland. I often have wondered if the way redevelopment money was spent in Oakland made the Governor think that redevelopment wasn’t worth the investment?

    1. Frankly

      If you look at the state budget history leading to the death of RDA, you will see drastic increases in prison costs primarily driven by bloated state prison guard labor costs… and this then led to difficulty for the state to keep school funding levels as mandated by law.  The quick fix was to find more local money that the state could control.  RDA was the ticket.  Then the Democrat state political machine with help from their always trusted state teachers union friends, started the campaign to bring up every problem they could find with RDA and get the ignorant and partisan public on their side (for example, making claims that RDA was only for blight and yet it was misused… not true).

      Now those those that are aligned with the teachers unions and other public sector labor bankrupting the State and cities across the state, and those that defend Old Moonbeam Brown no matter what he does… have partnered to change the narrative that RDA was bad for all of us… and so good riddance.

      Well then, look at that list I provided and tell me that RDA wasn’t good for Davis.

      1. Don Shor

        have partnered to change the narrative that RDA was bad for all of us… and so good riddance.

        No, there were useful projects, and not-useful projects, and there was waste and cronyism and mis-prioritization of budgets.
        The RDA funds were a tax that should have been subjected to sunset provisions, should have had narrow goals and considerable oversight and accountability. They had none of that.

        started the campaign to bring up every problem they could find with RDA and get the ignorant and partisan public on their side (for example)

        The state controller’s review of RDA’s found major deficiencies and inefficiencies. It was a system that had long outlived its original purposes. I am neither ignorant nor partisan on this issue, Frankly. I am an advocate for good government and transparency. Short of major revision to the whole process, the simplest way to reform it was to do exactly what the governor did: abolish them, start over with much more focus and oversight, and keep to the original mission.

        1. Don Shor

          Now let’s address the topic at hand with respect to RDA funds. Which part of Davis has the lowest-cost housing with the greatest need for upgrades for the residents? East Davis. How much RDA funding was spent in East Davis? As far as I know, and following the law governing RDA’s, that would be zero. Zero dollars. Why? Because the structure of RDA funding requires that the projects be in the redevelopment district.
          As I said repeatedly at the time, there are areas that meet the definition of blight in Davis, and especially did at that time. The two moribund shopping centers and Olive Drive. How much of the RDA tax funding went to improve the east Davis shopping center that sat vacant without an anchor tenant for years? Zero. Zero dollars. Why? Because the structure of RDA funding didn’t allow it. That shopping center isn’t in the redevelopment district. Same with the decaying shopping center in West Davis. Could tax dollars have been spent to improve them, provide signage, dress up the roadways? Sure. But not RDA funds.
          How much RDA funding got spent on Olive Drive?
          So Bistro 33 got funding. The bike museum got funding. But the actual blight in Davis was not addressed.
          If we are going to address affordable housing via taxpayer dollars, it would be equitable to do so with a tax that is levied on all of Davis, not just on South Davis and downtown properties. If we are going to provide affordable housing, it should be possible to locate it in other parts of town — which couldn’t happen via RDA funding.
          RDA funding forced the Davis city council (which was also the RDA governing body) to make budget priorities in a warped, unfair, inefficient, inequitable manner.

  6. hpierce

    If we are going to address affordable housing via taxpayer dollars, it would be equitable to do so with a tax that is levied on all of Davis, not just on South Davis and downtown properties.

    So Don, are you saying that since So Davis’ tax money (where a home assessed @ $450k pays the same property tax amount as a $450k home outside the RDA) goes to schools and affordable housing, the other areas should have a property tax surcharge to “even things out” as to those two items?

    You post is unclear…

  7. nameless

    Tia Will: “We are an affluent community that could choose to tax ourselves for specific projects, or fund raise for projects, or use specific fees such as paid parking for projects. ”

    Not everyone in Davis is affluent!  And they would not be able to handle the magnitude of the increase in taxes you have in mind…

  8. nameless

    Don Shor: “Do you ever stop spinning everything through your narrow hard-right partisan lens?

    He did it to help balance the budget and to increase funding to schools, and then proceeded to direct that funding to the districts that were most in need.

    Gov. Brown did what he normally does, coming in with a hatchet rather than trying to parse out the wrongdoers.  What I mean by this is that there were communities that abused RDA, but there were many others that acted very responsibly.  Instead of cracking down on those that were misusing RDA funds, Brown instead conveniently chose to eliminate RDAs – and most of that money was sucked right back into funding the state bureaucracy and never made it to local schools/gov’t.  See: http://www.lao.ca.gov/analysis/2012/general_govt/unwinding-redevelopment-021712.aspx

    The budget assumed that the increased school funding from these two bills would raise $1.7 billion in 2011–12 (with most of the funds related to payments made by RDAs opting into the ABX1 27 program and a smaller amount resulting from increased school property taxes resulting from ABX1 26). Legislation adopted in March 2011 related to education directed the Department of Finance (DOF) to adjust the Proposition 98 calculations so that these increased funds would offset 2011–12 state General Fund spending obligations for schools.

    Gov. Brown did exactly the same thing to address CA’s drought situation.  He blanketly demanded a water conservation target for all cities in CA of 25%, regardless of how much each city had previously conserved or wasted, and demanded nothing of farmers who use 80% of the state’s water.  Only when it became political suicide for Gov. Brown did he put any restrictions on agriculture’s use of water and how farmers manage irrigation.  In consequence, we have wealthy homeowners still using copious amounts of water compared to other poorer communities that have some folks completely out of water.

    IMO Gov. Brown’s actions have been disgraceful, including his actions regarding the Public Utilities Commission… a whole other level of corruption and shameful behavior…

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