Sierra Club Yolano Group – Davis City Council Candidate Questionnaire, Part 4

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

The Sierra Club will not be making a Davis City Council endorsement this year “since all candidates were perceived by our management committee as being equally qualified and all did very well in responding to our series of questions.”

The Sierra Club assessment of the Davis City Council candidates is as follows:

The Sierra Club Yolano Group has carefully assessed all of the answers submitted by the four Davis City Council candidates in response to our questionnaire. Although there are some minor differences of opinions between candidates and we do not agree with all candidates on all issues, we find all of the candidates are equally worthy of receiving Sierra Club endorsement for this elective office. All demonstrated a remarkable understanding of the general environmental pressures facing the City and our planet and all seemed genuinely cognizant of the necessary urgency in responding to this challenge. Indeed, in our opinion this is the most environmentally knowledgeable and committed slate of candidates to ever run for City Council in Davis. Unfortunately, Sierra Club rules prevent endorsement of more candidates than there are available open seats in an election so the Sierra Club Yolano Group must take a ‘no endorsement’ in this Council race.

The Vanguard will break the responses into a five-part series.

13 – Do you support the addition of parking meters on downtown streets or in downtown city-owned public parking lots or parking structures and why or why not?

WillArnold2016Will Arnold:

I think folks will gladly pay to have a spot to park downtown, especially if technology makes it easy. I believe some paid parking has to be part of a comprehensive parking strategy.

Frerichs-Announce-2016-5Lucas Frerichs:

I’m not supportive of individual parking meters (too much visual clutter, in my opinion) but I am supportive of the concept of paid parking. I’d like to see additional paid parking lots, including at the 3rd/4th E & F lot, and the train station lot be paid parking lots.

Also, as mentioned above…the City also owns an unpaved lot on the west side of Richards and Olive Dr., which could easily be paved, and accommodate approx. 50 spaces, including ensuring that it’s a paid parking lot to gain some revenue.

Lee-Brett-HSBrett Lee:

Yes, absolutely.  We need to encourage students to park on campus when they go to class, and not take advantage of our “free” parking downtown.  And we need to encourage employees to park in the existing garages.

I support a partnership with the Davis Downtown Business Association where we reward our frequent shoppers and diners with reduced parking costs.  So for example if you make $50 worth of purchases downtown a month you could get your parking at half price for the month.

IMG-23Matt Williams:

I would prefer seeing the paid parking recommendation of the Downtown Parking Task Force implemented first. Paid parking will produce a howl of protest from many in the Davis business community whose argument will be that changing from free parking will drive their customers away.  I believe an efficiently installed and managed paid parking system can actually provide better “free” parking for the customers of Downtown businesses than the current system.  In today’s computerized cash register world, providing a rebate to a customer at the time they make a purchase to compensate them for the cost of their parking will make the parking “free.”  Once a month the business’ sales software would tally the total of the rebates provided, and submit that to the City for reimbursement from the paid parking revenues.  That means window shoppers will pay for their parking, as will entertainment seekers.  The net amount left over after the expenses are paid will go to the City coffers.  It will in all likelihood be a modest amount.

14 – Small particulate pollution is the leading cause of respiratory disease in the Central Valley. Davis has implemented a wood smoke ordinance that allows complaints to be filed against wood burning residents if they are producing visible smoke from a non-EPA approved wood burning device and it adversely affects a “reasonable” person. However, the police department will not respond to complaints during nighttime hours when almost all wood-burning occurs.

Why or why not do you support this ordinance, and what changes, if any, would you support to it?

WillArnold2016Will Arnold:

Using our police officers for ordinance enforcement presents a number of problems not unique to wood smoke, and I am open to exploring alternatives. I support the limits set by the wood smoke ordinance, and I believe they do not set an unreasonable burden on homeowners given the real health impacts.

Frerichs-Announce-2016-5Lucas Frerichs:

I voted in favor to enact the woodsmoke ordinance, while on the City Council, and have tracked violations of the ordinance in my own neighborhood during the winter months.

I’ve been frustrated with lack of enforcement, and will support additional aspects of enforcement, including first talking with our new Police Chief, Darren Pytel, about what he is willing to do. I think we could get him to commit to some level of real enforcement.

Enforcement is the key on this issue, because the overall number of serial offenders is actually pretty small, but the enforcement will help get them to (mostly) comply.

Lee-Brett-HSBrett Lee:

We need to have the city be able to respond to nighttime complaints.

IMG-23Matt Williams:

This is a public health issue.  As a member of the Natural Resources Commission, I voted in support of the current ordinance because it focuses on public health.

To properly answer the nighttime Police enforcement question, I would need to better understand the Police Department’s reasons for their non-enforcement decision.

15- Pesticide/herbicide use continues to be the primary method for control of insect and plant pests by the City of Davis. Use of some of these chemicals has increased or plateaued in recent years. Currently, the City’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is only an advisory position and there have been citizen complaints of new pesticide use in previously restricted portions of public parks.

What administrative changes or changes in specific practices do you believe can be implemented to reduce overall pesticide/herbicide use by Davis and to encourage the use of least toxic controls by the City and its contractors?

WillArnold2016Will Arnold:

As a father of young children who frequently travel and play in the parks and greenbelts, I am a passionate supporter of ridding our city of these chemical poisons. I am disappointed that their use has increased, as I believe that is a major step backward for our community. I am a strong supporter of our IPM position and am in favor of the City taking a stronger role in reducing and eliminating pesticide use, wherever possible and as soon as possible.

Frerichs-Announce-2016-5Lucas Frerichs:

Similarly, our new Parks Department Director, Dale Sumersile, is now on the job, and she has been quite amenable to these types of changes…she just needs to be asked.

One aspect of issues previously was that we had the City’s HR Director also serving as Parks Director, and no real amount of attention was being paid to important issues like IPM, affecting the city’s parks/greenbelts, and our citizens.

We need to ensure that Martin Guerena has the backing of the Parks Director to reduce pesticide/herbicide usage citywide.

Lee-Brett-HSBrett Lee:

I support a full review of our pesticide/herbicide use and practices.  We need change the way we frame the question.  Rather than “why shouldn’t we use a substance”, we need to ask “why should we use a substance”.  We need to ask what other practices would address why we think we need to use pesticides/herbicides.

IMG-23Matt Williams:

As a member of the Natural Resources Commission (NRC), I heard at least two presentations by the City’s IPM Specialist.  I believe the NRC should make recommendations to the Council regarding the optimal IPM approach.

Bottom-line, the current public process with the NRC looking into this issue should be completed before additional alternatives are advocated

16 – Glyphosate (the active ingredient in Round-Up) has been declared a probable human carcinogen by the WHO and was recently added to California’s Prop 65 list of carcinogens.

Do you support a ban on the use of glyphosate by the City of Davis and its contractors in parks and open space areas accessible to the public?

Will Arnold:


Lucas Frerichs:

Yes, I support a ban on glyphosphate use by the City in parks/open space/greenbelts. We need to find alternatives, but more fully utilizing our IPM coordinator, Martin Guerena will allow us to do just that.

Brett Lee:

Yes.  I have been on record as supporting the elimination of these.

Matt Williams:

I am not well enough informed about either the WHO declaration or the recent addition to California’s Prop 65 list.  I defer to the experts on this issue.

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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    1. Barack Palin

      Just as another commenter pointed out, all these candidates are vanilla and just mirror what the others are saying.  Not one of them stands out.

      How many in the community support paid parking?


      1. Matt Williams

        BP, I think you will find considerable difference between the candidates when it comes to the Cannery CFD and the recent Employee MOU process and outcome.  Further you will find considerable difference with respect to the Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade.

        You just need to know where to look.

      2. Matt Williams

        Also BP, you choose a very narrow focus rather than engage the fact that for Davis residents making purchases in the Davis Downtown, their parking would be free . . . and the retail businesses providing services to those customers would be providing free parking for their customers.

        With that said, implementing the Parking Task Force’s paid parking recommendation is no simple matter, and since I submitted my answers to the Sierra Club on March 20th I have taken the time to do some additional research about how to implement an optimal solution for Davis’ parking problems.  Part of that research was to sit down for an extended discussion with Jennifer Anderson, owner of Davis Ace Hardware, to better understand her strong opposition to paid parking, and to hear what alternatives she might have.  It was a lively and very productive discussion.

        One of the alternative solutions Jennifer pointed to was the current plan to bring back the latest technology version of the license plate recognition cameras that are mounted on the roof of the Parking Enforcement vehicles that currently patrol/monitor/enforce parking in Davis.  The argument put forward in that alternative is that that technology would put an end to the “reparking” problem that Davis currently has with the yellow chalk on the tires system.  The camera system software/database would be able to identify a vehicle that had simply gotten around the 2-hour limit by moving the vehicle from one parking space to another (or simply rolled the vehicle’s wheels while in the same space in order to prevent the chalk from being seen).  Jennifer argued that the camera system eliminates one of the biggest drawbacks to meters, which is that people will simply change their parking habits and park in the areas that fall outside the boundaries of the metered areas.  It was Jennifer’s understanding that the Davis Police were expecting delivery of the new cameras and software very soon, and that implementation of those cameras would be expedited.

        Armed with that alternative, I spoke to a number of the strong advocates for installing meters, to see if the camera system would be work as a good alternative to meters.  The most frequent answer I got was “Yes, but . . . “ The concern that was most frequently raised after the “Yes, but . . . ” was that the activities of visitors to Davis very frequently exceed two hours, with at least an hour for a meal, followed (or preceded) by some combination of two hours for a movie and an indeterminate amount of time for shopping at Davis’ downtown businesses.  In short, they believed having a two-hour camera enforced limit would drive business away from Downtown in a way that paid parking at meters would not.  Their argument was/is that visitors to Davis are much more willing to pay for parking in Davis than Davis residents are, and that our downtown businesses need that influx of visitors in order to stay in business.

        So I found myself presented with a choice between well thought out input from different sources that had considerable merit.  The conclusion I came to is that these two approaches are not as incompatible as they initially seem to be.  In fact, a blend of these two alternative may well be the optimal solution.  That blended solution would be installation of meters in a concise/limited area of Downtown where the kind of serial activity that exceeds two hours is most prevalent.  The computerized rebates system I described in my Sierra Club answer would ensure that Davis residents would continue to benefit from free parking when they shop in that concise/limited metered area, as well as ensuring the ability for visitors and residents alike to enjoy the combination of a meal and other activities without having to worry about getting a parking ticket.  The areas outside that metered area would be patrolled by the camera system equipped vehicles to (A) eliminate the “reparking” problem that currently gobbles up huge swaths of parking spaces, as well as (B) eliminate the parking problem in residential neighborhoods that UCD students are causing when they drive to Davis, park on the streets for free and walk to their classes at UCD.  Those UCD students who reside in housing outside Davis should be using University-provided parking, not City parking.

        So my question to you BP is, “Is that a solution you could support?”

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