Sunday Commentary: This Community Deserves an Honest Debate on Nishi

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We have just a few weeks until we find out the final answer from the community on the Nishi Gateway project.  In our view, the Nishi project addresses clear community needs for housing and jobs.  However, like every project, it has both challenges – in terms of infrastructure and location – and shortcomings.

The question that the voters must decide is whether the needs it addresses outweigh the shortcomings of the project and the challenges of the location.

In the months before the Vanguard’s founding, the community witnessed a very dishonest effort to sell them on a massive housing development, Covell Village, on the corner of Pole Line and Covell.  Had the Vanguard been around at the time, it would have delighted at the machinations of Pizza Gate and, as the Vanguard itself reported years later, the vast underreporting of campaign spending.

By contrast, this has been a fairly tame campaign.  However, as I moderated the debate, I was struck by some of the comments from the opposition.

The Vanguard has remained neutral in this campaign and, personally, I continue to see strong reasons to oppose the campaign as well as compelling needs for the project.  There are clearly legitimate arguments to oppose the project, but some of the claims made by the No Campaign have strained logic.

Here I will lay out what I consider to be five legitimate reasons to oppose the project, and then I will address several that the campaign has used that I think are less than honest.

First, Alan Pryor led his presentation with still photos of the traffic congestion on Richards Blvd – traffic congestion that exists now, without a project.  The Yes on A campaign and project developer will tell you that they have the answer to traffic congestion – and they are pumping in about $23 million to help fix the problem.  The solution is to widen the intersection of Olive and Richards, and divert some of the traffic to campus through the project.

Opponents will tell you that Old Davis Road is not set up to be able to handle that flow of traffic, just as we have seen that 1st Street isn’t, and that the project will simply move the point of congestion.

A legitimate argument can be made that we are putting 1500 beds and 1500 jobs in the most congested point of town and that the proposed mitigation will not address the problem sufficiently. Reasonable people may disagree with this point, but it is a reasonable and honest argument.

Second, why the city agreed to waive affordable housing requirements back in 2012 remains a bit of a mystery.  As I will argue shortly, I don’t believe there is anything illegal about what the city did, but, given the city’s needs for an affordable housing stock, I think the decision was rather appalling.  The city was able to negotiate about $1 million back in, however, by the city’s own measures, and they were entitled to about $70,000 per unit at one-quarter of the units.  The city will counter that the $1 million was a trade off for the need for the developer to pay for infrastructure like the grade-separated crossing – that’s a fair argument and one that can be hashed out between the proponent and opponents of the project.

Third is overall affordability of the units.  When the opposition pointed to the overall cost of the units and put a price at $2400 per unit, the proponents were quick to respond with a new number.  As new units and being somewhat larger, the cost to rent a unit will be a bit higher.  The developer believes, after considerable pushing, that the cost will be closer to $1800 per unit and that it will be split four ways.  They also believe that developing additional units will open supply and therefore decrease cost overall in the city.  Reasonable people can disagree on whether this makes it affordable, but at least this is a legitimate point.

Fourth, sustainability. This makes for an interesting debate.  The developers will argue that they rank very highly in sustainability, they received a grant early on and have the goal of having a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental design) Neighborhood design at Platinum.  However, they appear unlikely to get there and, while somewhat technical, that has to rank as a disappointment for the project.  The proponents will argue that building housing right next to campus will reduce vehicle miles traveled.  However, given the goals in the city at overall reduction in GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions, this seems to be fair game.

Finally, I still maintain that this is a project that does a little bit for adding housing (1500 units) and does a little bit for addressing innovation needs (325,000 square feet of R&D space).  However, I look at projects like USC Village (Retail and Innovation) or Poly Canyon Village (Housing) and feel we could have done more.  The question then quickly turns to does voting against the project – and therefore reducing housing, jobs, and R&D space to zero for 20 years – really make sense if what you wanted was more than this project offered?  Again, that’s a legitimate debate.

These are five reasonable points. The Yes on A campaign will argue that they can address those five points and that’s fine.  Let us have that debate.  It is subjective, honest, and helps us identify and address community goals.

However, I have to say, as someone attempting to moderate the forum on Wednesday, I was stunned when Alan Pryor made the argument that we don’t need jobs, we have plenty of jobs at the university, what we need to do is address the jobs-housing imbalance.

Like many, I like and respect Alan Pryor.  I think he has helped push the ball forward on a number of issues, and even when I have disagreed with him in the past, I think his involvement has been an asset to this community.

But the jobs argument does not fly.  My problem with Davis is that, unless you have a doctorate, there are not a lot of jobs in town for people in their 30s and 40s.  While there is some data that I am digging up to support that view, I will argue anecdotally here.  Perhaps this is a generational thing.

I have known my wife since we met in Davis in 1998. In that time, she has had zero jobs in Davis.  I would add that had I not invented my own business, I would not be working in Davis either.

Just for fun, I looked at a bunch of Davis’ young leadership, most of whom are in their 30s and 40s.  Remember, for instance, former Councilmember Lamar Heystek, elected to council in his 20s – he never worked in Davis during his tenure on the council.  Joe Krovoza was an exception – he was an attorney who worked as a staff member at the university.

Rochelle Swanson has spent most of her time on council commuting out of town, though recently she has tried to make a go of it by starting her own consulting company. Brett Lee, in his 40s, has worked in the Bay Area and now West Sacramento.  Lucas Frerichs spent most of his first term, in his 30s, commuting to Sacramento, although he recently got a job in town. Dan Wolk works in Solano County.  Will Arnold, another exception, was able to use resources left to him by his father to purchase a local business, but prior to that, he worked out of town.

School board – of five members of the board, only Law Professor Madhavi Sunder works in town.

Alan Pryor is correct that we have a jobs imbalance.  Every morning, a crew of people commute into town to work at the university.  But every morning another crew of people drive outside of town to work in Sacramento or to head west.  The university has some jobs, but the biggest thing that the university is looking to do is transfer research and technology to the private sector and what Davis needs is space for some of that R&D to take route in spinoffs and startups.

Second point, Alan Pryor on Wednesday continued to assert that the city broke the law on the affordable housing deal.  He bases it on two points, first that the project does not meet the definition for vertical mixed use.  Second, that the city could not or did not change requirements under the development agreement.

Robb Davis addressed both of these points.  He noted that “the City Council in 2013 allowed for affordable housing exemptions for denser types of housing—including so-called ‘stacked flat’ condominiums and vertical mixed use housing. Even before these ordinance changes, in 2012 when the City Council passed a resolution committing (reimbursable) resources to help fund Nishi project development costs, it included in its deliberations a statement about its intent to exempt the Nishi project from affordable housing requirements.  While this statement of intent was not binding on the current City Council, it did set the stage for project planning and created the clear expectation that there would be no affordable housing requirement.”

Alan Pryor argues that, because the first floor is not completely devoid of functions that are ancillary to residential use, it fails to qualify.  In the past, we have noted that the ordinance simply states that such use “does not include,” not “cannot include,” and moreover, we also showed it would likely be impossible not to have common areas, stairways, and other access points on the first floor.

To show that the project does not meet the exemption, we would need to see case law and here I think the opponents are playing fast and loose by co-mingling political arguments with legal ones.

The city has a second defense, though. Section 65866 of the State of California Government Code allows a city to approve deviations from otherwise-applicable regulations and policies through a Development Agreement.

Alan Pryor argued, again without citing case law, that this didn’t apply because 65866 mentions “rules, regulations, and official policies” whereas the affordable housing ordinance is a city ordinance.  The problem with that argument is that Mr. Pryor didn’t cite case law as to how courts treat an ordinance of this sort, which really can be changed at any time with three votes.

From a functional standpoint, the council could have voted to change the ordinance to exempt Nishi on a variety of grounds and it would have taken the same three votes it took to approve the development agreement.

A reasonable question is whether it takes a de facto action or a specific action to change the rules here.  Again, the opposition offers no case law.  This allows them to make political claims about illegality without backing them.  We won’t have a court weigh in on any of this stuff until after the election – there is something disingenuous about that approach.

Finally, while it is a lesser point, Alan Pryor, in attacking the $1.4 million revenue claims – which is certainly subjective and fair game for criticism, argued that the Finance and Budget Commission pulled out $700,000 or so in expected costs for police and fire.  He argued that both the police and fire chief argued for them.

What chief isn’t going to argue for more money for their department?  The reality is that the city is not going to hire any additional police and fire personnel based on the addition of Nishi in the city.  Given that, the money is only theoretical.  The Finance and Budget Commission was right to exclude those costs because, unless you have to hire more personnel, they aren’t real.

That leads us to the question of air quality.  The argument has been made that the location of Nishi between the rail and I-80 presents a huge problem for susceptible residents, particularly children, pregnant mothers and seniors.

This is a difficult argument to evaluate.  I would like to see someone independent make an assessment of the actual risk management.  For instance, in January Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis argued that if we examine the actual risk of the air quality issues, it is not as great as we might think. He explained, “What we’re hearing about this property is one in 4500 people will over the course of an entire lifetime contract a certain form of cancer. That’s not annually, that’s one in 4500 over the course of a lifetime. We’re talking about magnitudes of difference.”

He said, “These are minuscule risks compared to the risks that we face every day in our lives.”

Then there are the mitigation measures that several writers laid out in an op-ed yesterday.  They noted that planting an urban forest could help remove up to 50 percent of all airborne particulate matter and that the residential condos will have a particulate filter, which would remove 95 percent of air particulates.

So, if that information is correct, between the low risk and the ability to mitigate, this could be a non-issue.

That is certainly not enough to satisfy critics like Thomas Cahill or Alan Pryor.  While I appreciate the work done by the co-authors yesterday, I would feel better if we had a more independent analysis here.

Where does all of this leave us?  I think it leaves us about where we started.  Nishi provides us with about 1500 beds, the opportunity for R&D space that will lead to startups, tech transfer and jobs.  It provides living close to campus and downtown.

However, there are concerns about the affordability of the rental units, about traffic impacts and about air quality.

The voters have to weigh the benefits against the risks.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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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83 thoughts on “Sunday Commentary: This Community Deserves an Honest Debate on Nishi”

  1. Tia Will

    David

    David

    There are many points where I disagree with Alan Pryor and agree that the conversation should be completely honest from both sides. However, I am not so dismissive of his claim about the “lack of need for jobs” as you are. I think the format of the forum did not provide time for a broader analysis of his claim. I would like to address this from the specific points that you have made in this article.

    1. I do not believe that the issue is generational. I do believe it is a reflection of changing work patterns in our society by which we all are affected. There are very few of us who are going to have one job, in our preferred living situation for our entire lives.  Adding more jobs in one specific category ( tech) will not change this societal pattern. I am in my 60’s, have lived  in eight different communities in my adult life and have held over 10 different jobs during my adult life. In the past 25 years I have worked full time in Sacramento, 1/2 time in Sacramento and 1/2 time in Davis and now once again in Sacramento only. I did not move each time to be closer to my work. I made my decision based on a number of factors, some lifestyle, some economic, some based on my children’s considerations. Speaking anecdotally as you did, I see this as a common pattern not unique to Davis and one which more tech jobs in Davis will not change.

    2. I had to smile at your breakdown of the anecdotal examples you gave for several reasons. First, the examples that you provided are clearly divided, and not entirely illustrative of your point. You cite yourself and then state that had you not invented your own job, you would not have had one. Two points about this. .First, You did. You have successfully created a job ( non tech) which provides a service to our community. Is this not exactly what we would like people to do ? Success does not have to be about being payed a salary by someone else to do what they want you to do. . Secondly, you do not know that you would not be employed by someone else in Davis because you chose a different route that precluded a full time job in Davis. 

    Then you move on to the elected officials. you quoted Will Arnold as an “exception” however, failed to note that there is almost a 50/50 split in current distribution of jobs as you have described them. Swanson and Frerichs are now working in town, Davis regardless of the physical location of his work lives a car free life, and Dan and Brett work out of town. Sounds like a balance to me.

    3. We also do not share the belief that what learns in Davis should stay in Davis. I believe that UCD is and should be a driving economic force for our region and has the capability to be a driving economic force for the state and in focused areas for the country. Just as I do not see it as a “loss” to UCD if a very bright local high school student from DHS chooses to go to Berkeley or Stanford or Harvard, I also do not see it as a loss if a very bright UCD graduate chooses a graduate position, or a first job or an upward career move somewhere other than in Davis. I think that we can all agree that Davis cannot guarantee a high paying job for every student that graduates here and that it is ok to let individuals sort themselves out geographically according to their own values. If their top value is to remain in Davis, they will find a way. If their top value is more money, or a specific career track or a more urban atmosphere, then they will find a way to achieve that goal. 

    4. Finally, I am not sure that Davis needs to go beyond a provision of small start ups to help those who do graduate from UCD and want to remain to at least launch their careers and businesses. I do not believe that we are any more obligated to provide spaces for all individuals to stay in Davis their entire lives. Here we have entered a realm that I really do not like. The choosing of “winners and losers”. with special exceptions to city policies for those who are deemed “the winners” but usually as defined by already being successful. No one is suggesting that we provide lifetime Davis job security for doctors, or PhD psychologists, or pharmacists or any number of advanced degree holders in many fields such as the social sciences or philosophy or literature…..but we are currently considering doing just that for our already affluent businesses.

    But, I could be wrong. I eagerly await your more objective evidence.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      You’re looking at the job situation a bit differently that I did – I view it as even the people currently working in Davis have spent most of their careers working out of town. While Joe and Madhavi have worked for the university for extended periods of time, everyone else working in town has done so only a short term basis.

      When I say generational in perspective, I think for younger people in their 30s and 40s, they realize that Davis is a challenging jobs market outside of the university for young, educated, skilled career seeking employees.

    2. Frankly

      I have to give you a lot of credit.  You are one of the best at output oriented analysis.  That is when you decide the outcome you want and then devise analytical arguments in support of that outcome.  Maybe that is a skill you developed in your professional training.

      The problem is that output-oriented analysis, as designed, is meant to keep the focus narrow and on-track.  This is fine when the goal is to solve a specific problem, but not when there is a broad set of considerations and the goal is something more nebulous like how to best improve the human condition.

      The major piece you seem to leave out of your analysis is the change already occurring.  Taking this to a MD analogy, it would be like trying to diagnose and solve health problems for a patient afflicted with Werner syndrome where each remedy you might prescribe would take several months if not years to be effective.  The changes would be quickly-occurring and the remedies for problem would be slowing occurring.

      You seem to disregard or discount many of the city’s existing health problems while ignoring the quickly occurring changes that are happening and that will happen from UCD growth, while also continuing to demand that we slow down the pace of change in response.

      This really does come down to risk appetite.

      Your point to David:

      You cite yourself and then state that had you not invented your own job, you would not have had one. Two points about this. .First, You did. You have successfully created a job ( non tech) which provides a service to our community. Is this not exactly what we would like people to do ?

      Think about this.

      You say this is the way to do it.  Yet you are not willing to accept much risk of change in support of making it possible for more to do the same.   There is not enough space in this town for people to create their own job.  The lack of supply is making the costs too high.

      You are putting your low-appetite-for-risk-of-change above these things that would help improve the human condition as you advocate for (densification).   But change is happening and will happening.  There is nothing you can do to stop that change because it is societal and bigger than the Davis central planners have control over.

      I am really happy that you have decided to support Nishi.  But I can see in your continued posts you are doing so under some personal protest.  It appears to me that your support is still tenuous.

      Back to the medical analogy…. Davis is sick and needs remedies.   And Davis will only get sicker if we don’t work on applying those needed remedies in a reasonably-expeditious manner.  The challenge for you and everyone else is what do you support in remedies.

      The No campaign is basically ignoring and denying all these city health issues that are really detrimental to the human condition of many of our most vulnerable and needy residents… and they are manufacturing countering pseudo risks in an artful attempt at deflection.  If they get their way Davis will continue to change in ways that add more harm to these more vulnerable residents.

      That patient is sick and getting sicker.  When do we start applying remedies?  Nishi is the start.

      1. Tia Will

        Frankly

        You are putting your low-appetite-for-risk-of-change above these things that would help improve the human condition”

        Wow !  That is a whole lot of words to rebut an argument that I am not making. First it seems that you remain ignorant of the fact that I support Nishi as exactly what you said, a start. Then what a doctor does after making a “start” is to analyze the result and see how the treatment worked. What we do not do is to put the patient on every antibiotic that we have all at the same time in the hopes that something may work.

        You also chose to expend a bit of time of what I consider a complete misconception. I am not at all risk averse by nature ( otherwise I would have never become an ob/gyn, arguably one of the specialties that is of highest risk). I am actually willing to accept much more change than you are. I would like us to adopt a UBI. I would like complete leveling of the educational opportunities for all children ( not just Charter Schools for those lucky enough to win the admissions lottery).  I would like us to actively pursue a transportation alternative to the private automobile.  I would like us to adopt a contribution model as opposed to merely a money based model of city financing ( article coming), I would like our society to institute a specified number of years of public service ( non-military as an alternative to military) for all citizens as a required societal contribution.

        So you repeatedly claim that I am change averse, when what you really mean is that you are not on board with the types of radical changes that I can envision and promote.

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        I don’t understand the bellyaching Mike – I gave five legitimate reasons to vote against the project and then argued why some of your campaign’s points are wrong. That seems pretty balanced to me.

  2. nameless

    To Tia: I look at the issue of jobs much differently than you.  Currently this city does not have diversification in economic development.  The city is too dependent on tax revenue from car sales and restaurant service only.  As we saw in 2009, that is a recipe for fiscal disaster.  When an economic downturn hits, one of the first things people will pull back on is things like buying new cars and eating out.  The more we diversify economic development, the more fiscally sustainable this city becomes.

    1. Tia Will

      nameless

      I agree with everything that you have said in your post of 8:52 am. However, I do not see the recent MRIC and DIC proposals as true attempts  at diversification. I see them as catering to only one type of business, namely tech and its manufacturing spin offs.

      In 2014, I had returned from a trip to Vancouver where I had visited Granville Island which is a true mix of differing economic endeavors including a functioning cement factory, an arts college with many associated small businesses, artist studios, a public market, and small manufacturers of numerous types. When I proposed that Davis might want, not to emulate this model ( since if is of course located in a huge city with a vast tourist economy) but to think outside the 25 year old box of manufacturing centers rebranded as “innovation centers”, I was roundly, but not universally dismissed. Ironically, my main supporter was Robb White who was at that time our Innovation Officer. Robb was willing to at least concede that such a model would be more inclusive and should not be rejected our of hand.

      Regardless of one’s perspective, I think it is undeniable that these large centers are designed to accommodate a single type of economic endeavor. I do not see this as true diversification of our economy. I see it as exactly the same type of thinking that brought us what you are objecting to, namely the auto malls and university as the only two elements of the base of our economy. I would prefer true diversification that welcomes all types of endeavors and makes special “deals” for none.

       

      1. nameless

        MRIC and DIC would have tech companies of various stripes (ag research, IT research, biological research, etc), something the city essentially doesn’t have right now, which would diversify the economic development portfolio.

  3. nameless

    The question that the voters must decide is whether the needs it addresses outweigh the shortcomings of the project and the challenges of the location.

    Exactly, it is a risk assessment.  Does the potential for $1.4 million in tax revenue to the city, $23 million in traffic improvements, $400,000 to DJUSD, new jobs, R&D space, more student housing outweigh the perceived negatives that the project isn’t green enough, clean enough, and allows the developer to make too much money.  Pure logic tells me the answer to this one.

    This allows them to make political claims about illegality without backing them.  We won’t have a court weigh in on any of this stuff until after the election – there is something disingenuous about that approach.

    If the opposition truly believe in their positions, they would let the voters decide via Measure R.  Instead they have spread misinformation, disrupted public meetings, filed lawsuits, and the like, to poison the well.  In my view the opposition has very little credibility after stooping to such tactics.  It should also be noted that CEQA lawsuits are used specifically for the purpose of minority viewpoints stopping projects.  See:

    https://law.ucdavis.edu/centers/environmental/files/Rothman-article-Hernandez.pdf

    http://thesource.metro.net/2013/01/09/new-study-finds-that-ceqa-lawsuits-used-most-to-stop-infill-and-public-works-projects/

    http://www.planningreport.com/2015/12/21/new-ceqa-study-reveals-widespread-abuse-legal-process-non-environmentalists

  4. Michael Harrington

    Your list of Young Leadership and where they work ?   Where’s my name ? I live and work n town, served on the CC, and am only 60!  What’s with the ageism thing?

    The No on A Committee pledges not to use our experience and wisdom to take  advantage of the younger five CC members and two candidates who are all feverishly working to promote this site burdened by toxic air, jammed traffic, gushing giveaways of over $13,000,000 of public funds to three local fabulously wealthy families ( Whitcomb, Anderson and Ruff), and an embarrassing total lack of ANY affordable housing!

    And David your title uses the word Honest, then goes on to unfairly attack the NO position while ignoring YES problems, such as their telling the community the developer is paying for all the infrastructure ? We all know and Robb Davis pretty much has admitted that they gave the developers $11.5 million of affordable housing dollars to subsidize the cost of building the tunnel under the RR tracks into the core campus. Why don’t you talk about THAT, David?

    A few more weeks of this craziness …

     

    1. nameless

      Why doesn’t the No on A side admit how much they are costing taxpayers?  The costs of the lawsuit, as well as the “give away” of all tax revenue the project would have generated.  No R&D space, no new jobs, no student housing, no $1 million to the affordable housing fund, etc.

    2. Misanthrop

      Yes there is a thriving group of private lawyers in town but as David pointed out the dearth of jobs is for people in their 30-40’s who don’t have a doctorate. This is also an age group that supports our schools by producing most of the children in the schools. You are not in that group by age or because you have a J.D.

      At sixty you may think of yourself as young, at sixty you may feel young , but to a young person, at 60 you are old.

  5. Roberta Millstein

    David writes:

    I would like to see someone independent make an assessment of the actual risk management.

    Are you implying that Thomas Cahill is not independent?  What is the basis for your claim?  I think that’s fairly insulting.  One might think you are just seeking someone “independent” who supports your conclusions.

    1. Don Shor

      Actually, what I’d really like to see is a clearer explanation to the public of how risk assessment is done, what the criteria and parameters are, and what it really means in terms of exposure and health outcomes. For example, from my past training as a pest control operator, I can assess and compare different pesticides for their direct toxicity and what is known in general about their long-term health risks. It’s complex but explainable, particularly to a highly educated community. If someone asks me ‘is glyphosate dangerous?’, I can give a reasonable answer.
      As I said before, risk is relative. We all make decisions about risk every day, though usually not consciously. It would be useful to explain how that applies in the Nishi case.

    2. nameless

      I’m sorry, but Cahill’s credibility was shot when he advocated affordable housing next to the freeway for low income folks at New Harmony, but somehow has reasoned housing next to the freeway at Nishi is not acceptable.  We also don’t know how credible Cahill is – the “No” side very well may be paying him for his expert testimony.

    3. ryankelly

      It’s not that Cahill is not credible.  He’s not understandable to any one without a Ph.D.  Even your own analysis of his research made it appear that the risks are much greater than they are.  Cahill even testified before the planning commission that the site could support residential housing if the residential units were located on the north side of the property, many trees were planted and air filtration systems were installed – all of which the architects have done.  It doesn’t help that No on A campaigners are using outrageous phrases, such as the air being a “toxic soup,” again implying greater risk than actual risk.  When someone explains the actual risk in terms that the average voter can understand, we find that the risk is minor when compared to other risks that people face in day to day living and the benefits seem to outweigh these minor risks.

    4. hpierce

      I, for one, don’t think there is ANY reason to believe Mr Cahill is anything other other than independent… no evidence has come to light that he received any compensation for his efforts…  yet, I have almost a completely opposite view of the traffic engineer Mr H retained  HIRED to attack the hotel/conference center traffic/circulation analysis.  

      Many years ago, Professor Cahill actually taught a class that I took… him, I have respect for, even if I disagree (or am skeptical of) with some of his methodology and conclusions on this.

      For someone to characterize the Nishi site as having TOXIC air quality, puts a certain ‘presumptive’ presidential candidate’s hyperbole in the “minor league” category… perhaps Mr T should ratchet up to match Mr H…

      1. nameless

        I, for one, don’t think there is ANY reason to believe Mr Cahill is anything other other than independent…

        And if he is paid to testify in the lawsuit against Nishi?

    5. Roberta Millstein

      Don Shor, again, I would love it if you would work with Dr. Cahill to present the information in the way that you have in mind.  You could discuss mitigation and what it can achieve.

      nameless, I think the fact that Dr. Cahill was not opposed to New Harmony but is opposed to Nishi gives him credibility.  It shows that he is neither knee-jerk or development nor alarmist.  He has stated very clearly why this site is different from other freeway-adjacent sites like New Harmony: the elevated freeway, the prevailing winds, near a site of the freeway that backs up and has a lot of braking, the air inversion in winter, the proximity to the train tracks.  This is all much more than the impacts of just being near the freeway.

      ryankelly, I took what I said directly from things that Dr. Cahill wrote.  I do not believe that I misrepresented or exaggerated anything that he has said.  (For the record, I have not used the phrase “toxic soup”).  As for what Dr. Cahill said to the Planning Commission – yes, he did discuss mitigation.  But he has since said that the developers did not do all of the mitigation that he recommended and that even with mitigation the potential harms are still severe.  And you can see the full text (not just David’s selective reporting) of what he presented to the Planning Commission in the Nishi FEIR, where he states:

      “My recommendation: If the Planning Commission should decide to support the Nishi proposal, the threats from air-pollution (diesel and ultra-fine metals) are so grave that it should be modified to eliminate all residential housing.” (p. 2-81 of the Nishi FEIR)

      and

      “However, in present conditions, it is my opinion that causing people, and especially vulnerable populations spending much of their time on the Nishi property, to movie into a situation of such great potential harm is simpl[y] not supportable.”
      (p. 2-82 of the Nishi FEIR)

      1. Tia Will

        Roberta

         the potential harms are still severe”

        Yes, and a single case of Zika represents a very severe individual outcome as would a single case of Ebola. That does not mean that the likelihood of that event occurring is not miniscule. What I would like to see compared is the relative risk of a case of autism from freeway proximity to the relative risk of a pregnant woman being in a fatal automobile collision as she commutes from her home in Vacaville, or Woodland, or West Sac to her job at UCD.

        I do not know how to obtain the comparative data, but I do not think that it is reasonable to base your conclusions on one risk without fairly assessing the other. This is a point that, unless I have missed it, neither you nor Dr. Cahill have chosen to consider.

        1. skeptical

          Tia,

          Zika infection is a chance event.  The hazards at Nishi are not a chance event, they are a known danger.  Your analogy does not hold.  With Nishi, we are deciding whether to build in an area of known danger.  This is the equivalent of choosing to be biten by a mosquito known to have zika.  Professor Cahill, etal, are advocating we not accept the mosquito bite.  You seem to be wiling to accept the bite because of what you believe to be a minimal risk of infection.  That is an unsound basis for public policy.

          We no longer build with asbestos or lead, because we have chosen not to incur the known risks.  That is the same rationale being argued for Nishi.

        2. Roberta Millstein

          Tia, I don’t think you can assume that because a person lives in Nishi, they will thereby be driving less.  I see that the Cannery is advertising in the Bay Area.  Bay Area rent and home prices are insane, and believe it or not, we look cheap by comparison.  People do commute down there.  Or, a family could move to Davis because one person got a job here, but then the other family members need to drive to their jobs.  You cannot assume that living at Nishi means less driving.  But you can assume that anyone who is actually living there will be breathing the air.

    6. Marina Kalugin

      Yes.   what is that GONG sound…..he is a retired UC professor and he spends all of his own time and money on doing this for the good of the community…..   now who is throwing mud?

  6. Ron

    The title of this article is ironic.  As an example, there’s nothing “honest” about this statement:

    From article:  “The question then quickly turns to does voting against the project – and therefore reducing housing, jobs, and R&D space to zero for 20 years – really make sense if what you wanted was more than this project offered?  Again, that’s a legitimate debate.”

    It’s not a “legitimate debate”, when you frame the question in that manner.  But, I’m sure that the “crazies” will come out of the woodwork, to “prove” me wrong.

    Another example:  Failing to note that many workers commute via subsidized public transit, to jobs in Sacramento.  I did so for years, and never expected (or even wanted) the city of Davis to add development that might/might not change this.  (Even when I was younger!)

    It seems that David has been repeatedly attempting to incite a generational divide, regarding development policies.

    It’s time for David to acknowledge that he apparently supports the development. (Others connected to the Vanguard have already done so.) There’s nothing wrong with taking such a position, but it’s wrong to repeatedly state that one is ‘neutral”, when comments (and focus of the editor’s articles) indicate otherwise.

  7. Marina Kalugin

    Are you KIDDING?   all we see every day are Nishi Nishi Nishi…..and that is such a non-issue compared to the crashing of Gate, sidewalks which people trip over all the time, the REAL races which could make a difference….and the destruction of UCD by the “Pres” Napolitano…

    give me a break……Nishi

    1. hpierce

      Actually, GATE, Nishi are good examples to show the biggest threat (based on the various posts here) to Davis, and the country (based on the rhetoric usually used) is the “all or nothing” mentality that is so prevalent from the most ‘vocal’… I think this is what Tia alludes to as ‘dichotomous thinking’.

  8. Tia Will

    Ron

    It seems that David has been repeatedly attempting to incite a generational divide, regarding development policies.”

    This is a tactic that I abhor. But I do not think that David should be singled out. There are many others who have also jumped on this bandwagon. Frankly, Mark West, and Rochelle Swanson have all participated in this “ageist” approach.

    Like you, there have been times in my career when I was able to bike, use public transportation, ride share, and walk to my place of employment. This has been independent of my age and job status. The same is true for my partner who was able to take the train to and from work in Sacramento for years. I do not like and will not support age based arguments any more than I would support arguments based on race or gender. We are discussing a personal characteristic that is based on a factor that one cannot choose to alter. It is divisive by nature. I frankly find this “ageist” approach reprehensible and will challenge it whenever it is invoked.

    1. Mark West

      Ron: “It seems that David has been repeatedly attempting to incite a generational divide, regarding development policies.”

      Tia:  “This is a tactic that I abhor. But I do not think that David should be singled out. There are many others who have also jumped on this bandwagon. Frankly, Mark West, and Rochelle Swanson have all participated in this “ageist” approach.”

      When there are policies in place that favor one demographic group over another, who is responsible for setting up the inevitable ‘divide’ that develops, those who set up that discriminatory system and/or advocate for its continuation, or those who are fighting to change it?

      Davis’ development policies benefit older, established, property owners with good jobs (or retired from same) over those who are younger and just starting out with their professional lives. What is abhorrent and reprehensible are the actions of those fighting to keep the discriminatory policies in place in order to protect one’s ‘way of life’ and keep ‘those kind’ from moving into town.

      1. Ron

        Mark:  “When there are policies in place that favor one demographic group over another, who is responsible for setting up the inevitable ‘divide’ that develops, those who set up that discriminatory system and/or advocate for its continuation, or those who are fighting to change it?”

        This type of theoretical argument might make sense, if someone “changes” their values, based on personal changes in age or living situations.  (In other words, if one “suddenly” advocates for slow growth because he/she is older, or perhaps purchases a house.)

        My personal views regarding development and growth have pretty much stayed the same, over the years.

        I’m not sure of the age or living situation (or potential financial benefit of advocating for more development) by some who are strong advocates of more development.

  9. Marina Kalugin

    From article:  “The question then quickly turns to does voting against the project – and therefore reducing housing, jobs, and R&D space to zero for 20 years – really make sense if what you wanted was more than this project offered?  Again, that’s a legitimate debate.”

    huh?   we don’t even have the demand for all the stuff still coming on board……that is such an incorrect statement…..

    if things were done properly, the housing developers rushing at the cannery should be doled out a few a year each….that will ensure the demand is met, and that we don’t end up with what has happened many times before as mounds of new houses and apartments glut the market….after which there becomes a frantic “outreach” to fill those units….to search for the low-income in other cities who would love to relocate here… or those who are priced out of the more expensive bay area…

  10. Tia Will

    Marina

    Are you KIDDING?   all we see every day are Nishi Nishi Nishi”

    This is a clear issue of how different values and perspective comes into play. The Vanguard at various times has covered all of the issues that you mention. The election is drawing near and it seems only logical to me ( although I do not in any way determine content) that Nishi would command a major part of the news coverage at this time as we are about to vote on this project which, regardless of your position on it, is undeniably a major decision facing our community.

  11. Frankly

    There has always been a battle between the lifestyle demands of the old and young.  The difference today compared to the generations of young people after WW2 is that those past young people are now the old people and they control a much larger percentage of the opportunity pie.

    That is what the greatest generation worked and fought and died for… to make sure their children had it better… to make sure they had copious opportunity.

    And they greatly succeeded.

    Except for the fact that their offspring never learned the lessons of profound struggle and sacrifice.  The Greatest Generation produced the most selfish and entitled generation… the Me Myself and I generation.  A generation that consumed, consumed and consumed… that ate through the supply of  opportunities like locusts on a field…. and left, not only the stubble, but also the bill for having to clean up after.

    Today these My Myself and I generation old people don’t really care enough about the loss of opportunity for the younger demographic… because of the advantages they have achieved for their own offspring.  There isn’t really anything in their pursuit of self-interest driving them to support the acceptance of that irritating younger demographic.

    Ironically though, it is their well-off offspring that is the most irritating.

    Watch this and your head will explode.  https://www.viceland.com/en_us/video/vegas-with-tiesto-justin-bieber/56fae989be4ad699153772c6

    Moral shaming is justified here.   Those demanding protection of their precious old retired person lifestyle at the expense of those young people lacking the privileges of opportunity that they and their offspring benefited from deserve the criticism leveled at them.   Their privileged offspring are just clones… the same that have not had to experience any profound struggle of sacrifice.  The peers of these kids lacking such privileges (you won’t see them partying in Las Vegas) are the demographic we should be reaching out to with greater opportunity.  These are the future leaders we as a people will need to ensure continued greatness.

    We need to help raise up those from Fishtown, and fight those in Belmont that seek to horde opportunity for themselves.

    1. Alan Pryor

      The Greatest Generation produced the most selfish and entitled generation

      Wow! You and I actually agree on something…Don’t know what the hell that has to do with Nishi, though.

    2. Tia Will

      Frankly

      Off and on today, something has really been bothering me about your depiction of the “greatest generation” as all noble and the “boomers” as all greedy. I know that this kind of depiction suits your need for a black and white framing of issues. But it certainly does not tell the whole story.

      There are many boomers who exhibited extreme bravery and were willing to sacrifice. Some of them were Viet Nam vets. Some of them were conscientious objectors who paid for their decision not to fight in other ways. A few lost their lives in protest over what they saw an an immoral war. I myself lost one relationship to my own inability ( to my years long disappointment in myself) to adapt to my potential partner’s traumatic post war consequences which I could not understand at that time, but which we now recognize as PTSD. I do not see that there is an age related schism with respect to our willingness to step up and care for our Vets regardless of what war the participated in.

      And there does not now seem to be an age split in those who are shamelessly advocating for their own economic gain by demonizing those who are even lower on the ladder of prosperity.

      And unlike Alan ( post of 2:19), I do see a relationship between these issues, respect for the opinions and motivations of others, and Nishi.

      1. Frankly

        Tia – Thanks for your thoughts and counter points.  I know I don’t tell you enough how much I appreciate it even as you cause my hair to catch on fire!

        I have been thinking about it too.

        What I see is that during the time after WW2, in terms of what benefits general humanity in this country, the natural environment has improved drastically while the economic environment has been trashed.  I don’t even need to get into a detailed discussion to prove this point.  You and others on the constant drumbeat of looming environmental calamity would fail to win any argument that the natural world is less cared for today compared to 60-40 years ago when people just tossed their trash out the window of their moving car, and factories dumped whatever into rivers.  There seems to be two primary reasons why it continues to be an obsession of those on the left of politics.  One – they are wired that way… to fret about the last remaining fraction of every yardstick of “harm” that they can understand.   Two – it is politically convenient since stronger environmental regulations has an adverse impact on economic growth which increases individual self-sufficiency… and this leads to fewer Democrat votes.

        On the economic front, it has been economic growth-stiffing environmental and tax policy and big government meddling in the free market… that has combined with globalization/automation thereby leading us to a time when there are far too few opportunities… for all but the academically privileged… to realize the American Dream.

        And here is Davis we have this tremendous opportunity to leverage our fortune being home to one of the top research universities in the nation.  We have the opportunity to expand our economy so more people have opportunities to achieve the American Dream like we Baby Boomers have been lucky to realize.

        But for some of us old folks the answer is No.  And when you read the reasons given, they are more of the negative stuff of baby boomers, not the positive stuff you rightly point out.  It is the selfish Me-Myself and I.   Davis does not need more jobs!   Davis does not need more revenue!  Look at the environmental concerns!  Look at all the traffic!  Heck with those students!  They create messes in town and loud noise… I don’t like them anyway so who cares if they have to live in other communities?

        The Greatest Generation would never have behaved this way.   They were a people that understood sacrifice for the greater good of community humanity.  They were a generation that did everything they did for the benefit of youth to have a better life.  I think that they expected their spoiled and self-centered children to eventually come around to the same ideas and principles.  Many would be very disappointing in what we have become.

        We have saddled future generations with trillions of unfunded liabilities (hundreds of millions just in Davis) and yet the baby boomers reject business being built here because they don’t like the way the buildings look.

        If that isn’t a clear indication of selfishness, then I am out of examples for you.

        Being selfless means giving up things you value for the greater good.  What you tend to advocate for are things others should give up so you can retain the things you value.  That is classic baby boomer.

        1. Ron

          Frankly:  “You and others on the constant drumbeat of looming environmental calamity would fail to win any argument that the natural world is less cared for today compared to 60-40 years ago when people just tossed their trash out the window of their moving car, and factories dumped whatever into rivers.”

          I agree, that (in the developed world) we are more environmentally-aware than previous generations.  (Especially in California and some other states.) And, that (despite the repeated objections of many pro-development types), regulations have been enacted to help offset some of the effect of development/growth.

          I would argue that modern civilization still has an enormous impact on the environment/natural world (well-beyond its actual footprint).  Well beyond anything seen before, during the billions of years that our planet has existed.  And, that the vast majority of industrial development and population growth has occurred in the past century or two (a mere “blink of the eye”, in terms of the history of the planet).

          I would also argue that if, for example, you double the efficiency of automobiles, but put twice as many cars on the road, you’re right back where you started.  Same thing regarding all of our impacts (and use of resources).

          And, that none of this takes into account the rapidly-developing “second” and “third” worlds, where environmental regulations are often non-existent.

          We’ll see how this all works out.  (More likely, following next generations will have to deal with the impact.)

        2. Frankly

          Ron – you are basically circling around to the old “the world cannot handle the population” fear factor that has afflicted certain people for centuries and also adopting the forced scarcity “solution” which is not a solution, just a recipe for chaos of war against the haves and have-nots.

          The population growth of UCD is a known factor.  Forcing more scarcity of housing because of the fear of environmental impact over increased population is… well a bit crazy.

          Sometimes I wonder if there is something genetic or biological in people that fret so much about a dynamic and growing situation… made anxious by it and feeling the need to grab the levers of central control to just make it stop… even though it cannot be stopped.

          Our “the world is melting” President and his followers would like to destruct more global industrialism.  Funny thing though… when counties grow their economy and become industrialized, then birthrates fall.   So then we frog-march to the hymns of our global warming religion doing battle to save the planet… while our actions actually insure the global population continues to expand in all of these poor countries.  And here in Davis we use the religion of global warming to try and prevent those young people from starting a business and working for a living because they too might burp a few C02 molecules.

           

        3. Ron

          Frankly:

          I was making a more general point, in response to your statement that the natural environment (in general) is “better off”, today.  Not necessarily an argument regarding Nishi (which has already been rehashed, a number of times).

          But, in a larger sense, I don’t see endlessly-expanding population/development as a worthwhile (or sustainable) goal. I realize that I’m probably different from some others, regarding that view.

        4. Tia Will

          Frankly

          to achieve the American Dream like we Baby Boomers have been lucky to realize.”

          I do not see the American Dream the same way you seem to. My American Dream is not about future generations having more material goods or more wealth than I have. My American Dream is about my children living happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives. I is about their ability to pursue happiness, not about their ability to acquire wealth.

          Being selfless means giving up things you value for the greater good.  What you tend to advocate for are things others should give up so you can retain the things you value.  That is classic baby boomer.

          Wow !  This from the man who is worried that I might acquire a little bit of “his money” for one of my causes. I have never claimed to be “selfless”. But I am keenly aware that life is not “all about me”.  Every time I read a post of yours that decries losing “your money”, I wonder if you have made this realization.

        5. hpierce

          What you tend to advocate for are things others should give up so you can retain the things you value.  That is classic baby boomer.

          As a “boomer”, that is a totally BS statement… not true of any  the majority of my hundreds of relatives, friends, co-workers or acquaintances from that (my) generation… (well, maybe 2 or 3)… and, aren’t you a “boomer”, Frankly?  Are you a rare ‘exception’?

  12. Alan Pryor

    There are clearly legitimate arguments to oppose the project, but some of the claims made by the No Campaign have strained logic….I will address several that the campaign has used that I think are less than honest.

    Well, OK, we clearly know what your underlying premise is here, but let’s see just how well you back up your assertions. Let’s start with traffic.

    First, Alan Pryor led his presentation with still photos of the traffic congestion on Richards Blvd – traffic congestion that exists now, without a project. 

    I clearly represented in your forum that these pictures were taken to show existing traffic conditions. Showing these pictures goes to the heart of the City’s contention as reported in the Traffic Study in the EIR that existing levels of service of traffic through Richards and Olive is Level of Service C in the evening (when these pictures were taken) and Level of Service B in the AM peak rush hour as a baseline. They based this contention on measurements purportedly on one single day (Oct 14, 2014) for an hour in the morning and an hour in the eve.

    My pictorial observations simply show how conditions really exist in evening rush hour conditions to counter baseline assumptions claims in the traffic study. These lowered, thumb-on-the-scale baseline assumptions are specifically used to justify how wonderful traffic will be after the project improvements are made. But the contention I have made all along is that these baseline assumptions are bogus.

    Here is how Fehr and Peers reported baseline conditions in their traffic study in the Nishi EIR

    Richards Boulevard/Olive Drive

    AM Peak Delay – 15.4 seconds delay = Level of Service B
    PM Peak Delay – 20.7 seconds delay = Level of Service C

    And now here are the official designations of Levels of Service (LOS) for signalized intersections and Average Control Delay (ACD in secs) as described in the traffic study.

    LOS A – Represents free flow. Individual users are virtually unaffected by others in the traffic stream -ACD ≤ 10 secs

    LOS B – Stable flow, but the presence of other users in the traffic stream begins to be noticeable – ACD > 10 to 20 secs

    LOS C – Stable flow, but the operation of individual users becomes significantly affected by interactions with others in the traffic stream – ACD > 20 to 35 secs

    LOS D – Represents high-density, but stable flow – ACD > 35 to 55 secs

    LOS E – Represents operating conditions at or near the capacity level – ACD > 55 to 80 secs

    LOS F – Represents forced or breakdown flow – ACD > 80 secs

    Source: Transportation Research Board 2010 (Highway Capacity Manual)

    Now I am pretty sure you have mentioned in past Vanguard articles or posts that sometimes it has taken you 5 minutes or more to get from Research Park Dr. in South Davis through the downtown tunnel via Richards Blvd in the AM. That clearly is a LOS of F according to the above criteria. On the night that I took these pictures I timed how long it it took three identified cars to get from the top of the Richards overpass just to the entrance of the tunnel. Over the course of about ½ hour I timed 3 separate cars that took 4 min:35 secs, 3 min:18 sec, and 2 min: 10 secs. All of these took multiple light changes to get through the intersection. By definition, those are all LOS F. Yet the traffic study says we are less than 16 sec delay in the AM peak and less than 21 sec delay in the PM peak. Juxtapose those traffic study claims against the delays you claim to have experienced yourself and my own measurements and my photos and then please advise how you think my photos somehow were used dishonestly.

    Not only that, you start off your article by saying some of our claims are “less than honest” but conclude in the final discussion on traffic that “A legitimate argument can be made that we are putting 1500 beds and 1500 jobs in the most congested point of town and that the proposed mitigation will not address the problem sufficiently. Reasonable people may disagree with this point, but it is a reasonable and honest argument.

    Well, which is it, David? Are my claims “less than honest” as you stated opening the article or are our claims “a reasonable and honest argument” as you summarize the arguments over traffic impact. I don’t think they can be both at the same time unless you switched to some other parallel universe in the middle of your column writing. This otherwise just makes no sense.

    I think the obvious problem here is that you have never read the entire traffic report and looked at it with an objective and quantitative eye as evidenced by your appalling lack of specific knowledge and reporting on the details of this traffic study. So my question to you is, “Have you actually read the traffic report?”

    Yet you otherwise seem perfecting content to offer completely contradictory statements as to whether or not I and/or the No on Nishi campaign are being honest in our objections to the specific methodology used to determine baseline conditions and the conclusions subsequently reached in the traffic study used to justify the project.

    To me, the obvious question you should have asked is “is the traffic study honest in its baseline assumptions of LOS?”. If not then they entirety of the traffic study is suspect. But I do not see your questioning their integrity in your dismissive little missive.

    I agree with the above posts that point out you proudly proclaim your neutrality on Nishi then spend the entire article questioning the No on Nishi honesty but give a pass on everything that might question the veracity of Yes on Nishi claims.

    I will give you the benefit of the doubt and suggest that offering up these contradictory opinions of the honesty of my and the No on Nishi campaign’s proclamations based only on your casual observations (no quantitative assessment at all) is just shoddy reporting on your part based on personal opinion reporting rather than intentionally being “less than honest” yourself.

    Today is quite busy for me but I will try to get back to challenging your other obviously cheap and one-sided shots challenging the honesty of our claims on the Affordable Housing Exemption, Sustainability, Affordability of the Housing, and Jobs. But I will close this missive stating this article has not been your finest hour in advancing your oft-stated claims of impartial and honest reporting.

  13. Michael Harrington

    I nearly always send all technical material to the Davis Vangaurd, including all the Nishi traffic documents.

     

    Alan, the facts and law and good planning favor the NO side so David has little to work with when he publishes these pieces where he clearly favors YES, but cannot find specific support for that view.  So it comes out in the muddle you see above: headlines implies he will out all the fraud he thinks might be in the NO side, doesn’t find any, and ends with a limp finger in the air to let the voters decide.

    (Sorry David, but Alan is correct.)

    1. Marina Kalugin

      hmmmmm… I also thought that sometimes Alan was out there…it was fitting when he spoke in FAVOR of the water project and had to come back to lead No on Fluoride….too funny..

      We are moving outside of Davis…just closed on OUR new place nearby…where we have our OWN>>.water  – that was the last straw…  right now my water bill is $180/month…and it is only going to go up…..need to be off the grid and outside the clutches of the crazies all over town…

      ps…due to health issues, the water and electric are a necessity for family members…..we tried to get solar, but the woodbridge single story roof which is as high as a 3 story allow NO sun on our yard, nor our roof nor even our front yard…. cannot wait to get out of THIS nuthouse….

      1. nameless

        Your water bill is $180 a month?  Do you have a leak or just leave your hose running all the time?  Or do you mean your City of Davis service bill is $180 a month, which includes water, sewer, trash collection, storm water management?

  14. Tia Will

    Frankly

    There has always been a battle between the lifestyle demands of the old and young”

    Your choice of words is always fascinating to me. What you describe as a “battle” I would describe as at most a difference of perspectives and lifestyle preferences. Also not all families experience “a battle”. Some families do great in maintaining their family cohesiveness through generations such as those that maintain a family farm, or family restaurant, or even if not all working for the same company, an area of mutual interest such as many family members engaged in education, or medicine, law or politics.

    And they greatly succeeded”

    It is true that the “greatest generation” greatly succeeded in two spheres. They turned the United States into a colossal military power and they generated enormous amounts of wealth. In other areas, they met with less success. Some of their technological triumphs also spawned today’s mess of air pollution, aging ( and not maintained either by them or by us) infrastructure, a love of convenience over quality ( processed foods as my favorite example), a terrible disparity in the distribution of wealth which our generation has maintained and exacerbated.

    Except for the fact that their offspring never learned the lessons of profound struggle and sacrifice”

    Let us not forget that “we” are the products of their parenting. Also do not let us forget that there are notable exceptions to this greed and “me” oriented thinking. Robb and Nancy Davis are the most diligent and consistent proponents that I know of an alternative to our consumer driven lifestyle. Many others who have similar values are dismissed as “aging hippies”, change averse, NIMBY’s, tree huggers, environmental whacks or hypocrites if we have not achieved Robb like consistency, no matter how we might be trying.

    Moral shaming is justified here.”

    I am really tiring of your moral shaming and name calling. Let’s see how far you are will willing to extend this moral obligation. I believe that you have stated that you and your wife live in Stonegate. While I have not been in Stonegate in years, my recollection was that it was composed of nice, three and four bedroom houses in a fairly luxurious setting grouped around a man made water feature. Now I have a question for you which I would never have asked if you had not attacked me personally many, many times. How many of your spare bedrooms do you rent out at below market value to students or young working people who cannot afford more expensive digs ?  If your answer is none or less than full occupancy, I call out hypocrisy because you clearly have spare rooms that you are not choosing to share. My son is currently renting out three bedrooms at under market rate, to three occupants so as not to create the mini dorm experience that others are creating. We have frequently had either family members, extended family, or guests who could not afford their own housing packed into the “guest room” in our two bedroom, one bath bungalow. Does that make me more morally virtuous than you ? I do not believe so, but I am growing weary of your seemingly endless profession of my moral inferiority.

    Have you organized a community association in Stonegate to identify either an empty or underutilized ( in your eyes, of course) home or homes that could be torn down in order to put up a six story luxury apartment building ?  If not, why not ?  Not zoned for that you say ?  Well welcome to how the immediate neighbors to the Trackside project feel.

    And why do we exalt suffering and sacrifice ?  We are wealthy enough, both as a town,  as a nation that we should, in my opinion, be providing enough for everyone to live on, and equal educational opportunity for all of our children instead of clinging to the obvious myth that if we just provide enough jobs then everyone has an equal opportunity.  We should honor everyone’s work and contribution, not just those that we artificially deem worthy of a “paid job” leaving to fend for themselves many that work just as hard and put in just as many hours. As opposed to focusing on the merits of sacrifice, I would prefer to focus on the merits of contribution to our society ( article coming).

    1. Frankly

      While I have not been in Stonegate in years, my recollection was that it was composed of nice, three and four bedroom houses in a fairly luxurious setting grouped around a man made water feature.

      Well you should get out more.  I live far away from the lake, as do most people that live in Stonegate because there are only a few of those houses and they are quite expensive.  Mine is a smallish 3-2 home on a lot much smaller than yours with two story neighbors blocking sunlight and eliminating privacy.  Although Don Shor helped us pick out some good bamboo in planters that is helping to increase the privacy if not the sunlight.

      My son is graduating from college this month and will move back into his room until he can find work that allows him to move out.  I have another that will “graduate” from the military in a bit over a year, and will be using his GI bill to complete his college and will likely also live here for a while.

      The other bedroom is an office and craft room because we don’t have other options given the small size of the house.  We also have aging parents that need to stay here periodically because even though they live outside of Sac, their doctors are all in Davis where they used to live.

      I would consider renting out a room if we had space and we did not need it assuming Davis REALLY lacked the land to develop on rather than it being artificially constrained by the no-growth, change-averse NIMBYs.  But there is plenty of land available, so why?

      Looking forward to the coming article. I am sure I won’t have anything to post in debate… 😉

      1. Tia Will

        Frankly

        But there is plenty of land available, so why?”

        So in other words….mine….in the same way your are prone to distort my position…..since someone else’s land is available, and since Tia is available to call “immoral” why should we inconvenience ourselves ?

        1. Frankly

          Give me a break Tia.  Drive around the outskirts of Davis.  There is no shortage of land to build on.  But you don’t support that.  You also don’t support significant infill.

          You are always so quick to donate more of my money to taxation to dole out to those needy folks.  Why then won’t you at least support a development like Trackside that provides needed housing units for those needy folk?

          You always counter with things that lack feasibility.  For example, you say you would support it if it was affordable housing.  Right.  A six story affordable housing complex instead of what was proposed.  First, it is financially impractical since your governor raided the RDA cookie jar to give to teachers because he and his political ilk had already given too much to the state prison guard union.  When you add all the liberal do-gooder code and amenity requirements that have been piled on year after year, you cannot build new affordable housing without public assistance… that does not exist.  Second, I think you know that you could lay low in opposition since enough other people in your neighborhood would ensure it was DOA.

          The only practical way to reduce the cost of housing in this city and every other city is to increase the supply relative to the demand.  To bad we did not keep Mace 391 to build some housing.  As I recall, you fully supported putting that in a permanent ag easement.

      2. Tia Will

        Frankly

        on a lot much smaller than yours”

        I am unaware of having stated my lot size.

        But there is plenty of land available, so why?”

        So in other words….mine….in the same way your are prone to distort my position…..since someone else’s land is available, and since Tia is available to call “immoral” why should we inconvenience ourselves ?

        1. Tia Will

          Ron

          I’m not sure of the age or living situation (or potential financial benefit of advocating for more development) by some who are strong advocates of more development.”

          I can certainly enlighten you about the situation of some who are fast growth advocates. Some are actual and/or potential investors in local projects who would stand to gain financially from these projects being accepted. Some that I have spoken to are “well healed” in the same sense that I am, who would like the thought of themselves living nearer to the central area and so would benefit from some of these infill projects. Some are individuals ( usually local business owners) who hold as a goal a “more vibrant” downtown, rarely named as such, but clearly since they believe that this will improve their business as well as those of their friends and associates. The predominant pattern is not as Mark West would have you believe that they are disinterested third parties who simply want what is “best for the community”. As a matter of fact, some of these same voices felt that a reasonable approach was to simply bulldoze all of Old East Davis, with no regard for the preferences of those living there now, and simply building “vibrant infill projects” to suit their vision for our neighborhood.

          This is not to say that those of us in Old East Davis and some of the other neighborhoods who are fighting to maintain the character of our own neighborhood are not acting in what we perceive as our own best interest. Clearly we are. But at least in my view, we are honest enough to admit that we are attempting to protect our own interests, while many of the “rapid growth” promoters would have you believe that they are morally superior and looking out for others. Don’t believe it.

          On each side, there are likely a few philosophic purists who generally believe the “party line” of which ever side they favor.

          For the most part, what we have is those who favor preservation of what we love along with gradual incorporation of more people into our community versus those who have no problem giving up someone else’s life style in order to promote their goals of rapidly increasing population.  This is not a case of the the “old vs the young” nor is it the “good guys” vs the “bad guys” regardless of the rhetoric to the contrary.

           

           

        2. hpierce

          Uh, you know Tia, that if your address is known, or if you are on a block that pretty much has all lots the same size, your lot size is public record, right?  Transparency…

      3. Marina Kalugin

        but STONEGATE is still way more expensive and desireable than the fast food and automalls and dollar stores…you know in those areas of east and south Davis….

        says one who first bought a house in East Davis and then bailed to South Davis….did MY due diligence and then Woodbridge was built anyway…

        then we got measure R passed……..

        let’s see anyone remember the PINK Book and the RED book?

        If you don’t have kids who are in their late 20s early thirties or not any kids at all  you may have missed that..

        How about PACE?    Parents Advocating for Children’s Education?

        or course I could have been married to the first guy then…that is why I post under both names…  maiden and first hubby’s….

        Yes, it is the same names always but the sides DO shift around…..

  15. Michael Harrington

    Nameless: please identify which public meetings the NO side has disrupted ?  Or were you just on a negative roll and hit POST before you read it ?

    1. nameless

      The list of meetings the “No” side on various campaigns in Davis has disrupted public meetings is too long to list… it could go on for miles…

  16. Odin

    Excellent article, but once again the Yes proponents claim “they believe…”,  “we think that…”, “we project that”…and then claim us No folks don’t like facts.  It makes no sense.  Why shouldn’t I vote against it just on the basis that I prefer open space?  Why shouldn’t I vote against when “I believe” it will make Richards/Olive worse?  And why shouldn’t I vote against just because I do not believe it’s in our cities best interest and “believe” we can achieve better?  Why shouldn’t I trust developers when the Sacramento region has a history of developers pouring tons of money into politics trying to convince us that their projects will “benefit the community” only to find out that they had no intention to do what they propose and that, in fact, it was all about their bottom dollar?  I know the Yes folks will respond (as they’ve done before) with statements about lack of housing, increased revenue, jobs…the normal sell job.  The university put us in this mess and are just sitting back letting us argue about it.  Where is their commitment for housing?  All I see on campus is new buildings going up for additional venues or studies.  Why aren’t THEY doing more to house students or provide jobs?  Anyway, the debate on here seems senseless at this point.  It’s split between believers and non-believers, just like religion, and I you can’t convince me anymore than I can convince you, so let’s just let it go to vote and stop this BS about how our side is wrong and how your side is wrong.  Both sides are right.

    1. Marina Kalugin

      good one…when those with the media are on the wrong side…oops the other side….then that is what is going to be pushed…and tis why back in the day, one did not discuss politics nor religion in polite company…

      now we can add all the numerous other protected groups…. but as someone who was very fat a lot of the time, why is it still okay to call someone a fat ass?  why is THAT not protected yet…

       

  17. Tia Will

    Mark West

    those who set up that discriminatory system and/or advocate for its continuation, or those who are fighting to change it?”

    I am not sure how old you are, but I am confident that I have been “fighting to change our discriminatory system” for longer than you if been able to vote, if not longer than you have been alive. Just like in my conversations with Frankly, I view the root causes of our inequality differently. And I do not see your “grow our way to equality” as a solution to our current discriminatory system. If it hasn’t worked in the past 50 years, I strongly doubt that just building more on the same premise is going to be successful.

  18. Tia Will

    hpierce

    Uh, you know Tia, that if your address is known, or if you are on a block that pretty much has all lots the same size, your lot size is public record, right?  Transparency…”

    I am fully aware of this. I think that you might be more appropriately addressing this to those who choose to attack from the safety of anonymity. Who is being more transparent, the person who posts under their own name, knowing anyone with enough interest can find them and obtain what ever information is in the public sphere……or the individual who chooses to hide behind a pseudonym ?

    For a little more transparency, size of lot is not always a huge plus. For some it will be. For others it is just another additional cost of upkeep. Some who are prone to see things in only one way, in accordance with their preconceived notions will continue to badger on the same point. Some, such as you have proven to be, will be aware that there are nuances to everyone’s situation.

     

  19. Marina Kalugin

    yes, and one can even go onto the YOLO county website and see who paid what for what house and who the owner of record is…

    just look up the house numbers…

    Not to mention that anyone who is a state employee, including UCD has their salaries posted every year….

    not too easy to hide stuff unless you are Dodd or Aguilar…or Trump or Obama or Clinton…

  20. Marina Kalugin

    yes, and the developers will espouse the coziness of no sidewalks and narrow streets, where there is no parking and often few garages…..yes, it is cozy and the developers can squeeze in that many more houses….right??    – however it is due to the coziness and we lap it up…don’t we?

  21. Marina Kalugin

    in the meantime, no one cares any more about the Assembly race and that Kropp only got a couple of comments on his nice intro…and the world of Davis….has even forgotten the Chancellor also..

    it is all Nishi, Nishi, Nishi…..get a grip…

  22. Alan Pryor

    Continuing my opposition to David’s piece alleging dishonesty in the No on Nishi campaign (see above for part 1)

    Davis claims neutrality but then states, “Here I will lay out what I consider to be five legitimate reasons to oppose the project, and then I will address several that the campaign has used that I think are less than honest.” Once again, David has completely contradicted himself because the five legitimate reasons are the exact same ones that he says No on Nishi uses less than honestly. Go figure! But let’s go through and dissect his faulty logic.

    Regarding the exemption from the Affordable Housing Ordinance which No on Nishi claims is illegal, David states about one argument, “The problem with that argument is that Mr. Pryor didn’t cite case law as to how courts treat an ordinance of this sort…. “And he repeated this objection (no case law cited) three more times within the space of a few paragraphs. Yet immediately before and after these statements David makes his own legal interpretations of the law and/or supports Robb Davis’ interpretations but does not cite a single case law to support his or Robb’s pontifications either. So I am criticized for not citing case law but David supplied none himself to support his interpretations or referenced any citations by any other legal authority to support the City’s legal position and we are to accept his word as fact.

    Let me think for a moment because I know there is a word to describe this brazen double-standard…
    Oh, I know, it is called “hypocrisy”.

    Regarding my statement that the City does not need any more jobs nearly as much as it needs more housing, David exhibited the typical developer knee-jerk reaction harshly criticizing me as if I had just slayed the City’s first born child.

    But David did not provide any objective information to substantiate his own shrill response that we need more jobs. In fact he states, “While there is some data that I am digging up to support that view, I will argue anecdotally here” and then proceeds to provide personal information about his own and his wife’s local employment history and where current Council members work or have worked and suggests we take him at his word. Unfortunately, the facts speak otherwise.

    In fact, the facts were presented in the Vanguard itself in the previous day but David chose to ignore these. In the Cannery EIR under the section 3.12, Population and Housing, the following information is provided,

    “In 2008, there were 18,249 jobs in the City of Davis (Analysis of the Value of Economic Development and Potential Employment Growth in the City of Davis, 2010) and 21,143 jobs at UC Davis (UC Davis Employee Population by Fund, 2012)… the City’s jobs:housing balance is approximately 0.70:1. Combined, the City and UC Davis have a jobs:housing balance of1.46:1.(Emphasis added).

    Since a jobs-housing balance of 1.0 is considered ideal, this indicates that the City needs to increase its housing stock by 50% relative to the number of jobs to achieve this balance. I would suggest that David’s referencing his anecdotal information while completely ignoring hard, quantitative objective facts otherwise available to him in his own blog is the most disingenuous and dishonest response I have seen in some time.

    OK now, on to the affordability of the housing. Every time I stated that the estimated rental price of $2,400+ for rental an 1,100 sq. ft apartment, I referenced the fact that this was based on an independent estimate by the City’s own hired consultant that the average rent projected for the apartments would be $2.20/sq. ft (Nishi Property Development Framework Plan, – the “Goodwin Report”, Table 2, January 4, 2016).

    The developer howled when this number was used claiming I cherry-picked the apartment size to misconstrue the data. Yet the 1,100 sq ft apartment size is the exact median apartment size with exactly 176 larger units and 176 smaller units. What could be more fair in reporting the data than picking the median apartment size and applying the estimated average rental price to it? Sounds reasonable doesn’t it?

    Apparently not to the developer and not to David as he reports, “The developer believes, after considerable pushing, that the cost will be closer to $1800 per unit and that it will be split four ways.  They also believe that developing additional units will open supply and therefore decrease cost overall in the city.  Reasonable people can disagree on whether this makes it affordable, but at least this is a legitimate point.”

    What makes this a legitimate point? Because the developer stated it and David agrees with it? How absurd that David implies my reporting of the exact facts in the report by the City’s own hired financial consultant is somehow dishonest and is trumped by made-up data by the developer. Wow…and David still claims this hit piece is impartial and he is “neutral”.

    David normally does a pretty good job walking an impartial line when he actually claims neutrality on an issue. But in this hit piece he has gone way beyond standards of impartial and honest reporting by claiming No on Nishi has been dishonest. This is because he supports his thesis with personal opinions and conjecture rather than objective facts and substantial evidence otherwise available to him. It seems that David calling the No on Nishi campaign dishonest while he contradicts himself and intentionally dismisses available hard data is very much akin to the pot calling the kettle black. I hope this does does set a new low bar for Vanguard reporting or David may very well have to look for that job in Davis he claims he cannot find.

  23. Marina Kalugin

    Just now, as I was taking a break from Nishi, and trying to relax…we got a knock on the door….we didn’t answer….the person knocked LOUDER  and woke up my husband from a nap…

    I grumble over to the door and yell who is it….the loud voice responds I’m hear for a survey…

    I said who are you with…he said Yes on A…..   I loudly say get lost…he didn’t hear…so I say it louder..

    Us old people get grump when we are tired…

    So I open the door and say who is paying you…he says no-one…he is a volunteer.  so I say who are you with…and he says the Nishi Gateway Project…….and I say, you didn’t see the shredded yes on A flyers on our walkway…he says he wanted to give us the benefit of the doubt…

    by then he was tired of 20 questions….and said, since I said get lost, he was gonna get lost.

    What this nice clean cut student…likely an engineer, law student wanna be, poli scie major  – you know the type…and very quick with a response  so much more likely an attorney wanna be or planning department wanna be…..well,  what he does NOT understand is that he is walking up and down a street of those of us who live in the sames houses where the developers lied on the Ricci to Woodbridge….and many of the same suspects are still on the Nishi…

    Many of us are old and grumpy now……. and anyone new just moved here as several original homeowners have died in recent weeks……

    I should have invited him back to see the crap fence those developers put up…and the 3 story roof line on a supposed single story restriction…now it is FEET high also and not just single story.. the falling apart sidewalks and invite him in to read some very old articles about the toxic mold….

    My husband said should he give me a stick to run after him with…     LOL

  24. Marina Kalugin

    yes and blah blah….and  the “independent” studies….is that like the “independent investigator” hired by the Napo in the case of Katehi???

  25. Marina Kalugin

    PS>   and I noticed the guy as he was walking backwards down the walkway writing down our address…  I said be sure to note that my husband and both sons are also no and my husband yells out “and the cat” also…

    they almost got killed on that intersection many a time while riding bikes to the HS or the JH before the bike overpass…and still preferred Richards to the overpass one from South Davis…it because it was faster and not as steep….

  26. Tia Will

    Frankly

    You also don’t support significant infill.”

    You don’t consider Nishi significant ?  Interesting, I am pretty sure the Tim Ruff does.

    more of my money to taxation”

    And my own which you always choose to ignore. You are pretty quick to want mine for “defense”.

    You always counter with things that lack feasibility.”

    Only because you cannot imagine a way forward that is not a copy of the past 50 years, that having gone so superbly well for everyone…..right ?

    As I recall, you fully supported putting that in a permanent ag easement.

     

    A six story affordable housing complex instead of what was proposed.”
    I never proposed a six story affordable housing complex. I support respecting the zoning and development guidelines as I have stated multiple times. I also support those of us who are affluent provide more from “our” not “your” money to aide those who have not been so fortunate for whatever reason to accumulate the surplus that we both know that we have. 

    As I recall, you fully supported putting that in a permanent ag easement.”

    Your memory betrays you. I had no strong feelings about that at all. I asked questions, which you seem to feel is also out of bounds for me, since if I am not for you, I must be against you, but never came to a firm conclusion about how I felt.

    The only practical way to reduce the cost of housing in this city and every other city is to increase the supply relative to the demand”

    On this, I believe that you are correct. But two problems. I do not believe in changing zoning, or making other exceptions to help one’s already affluent friends. I also do not believe that it is optimal to build housing for the affluent and then hope that the benefits of that will “trickle down” to those who are in actual need of help in securing housing. I believe in contributing to our communities. The affluent do not need our “contributions”. The poor do. So to whom should we direct our contributions?  You favor the former. I favor the latter. Simple. We just disagree.

  27. Eric Gelber

    … why the city agreed to waive affordable housing requirements back in 2012 remains a bit of a mystery.  

    What’s the mystery? A deal was cut with the Nishi developer at the expense of low income residents. The Robb Davis quote in the article pretty much says as much:

    Even before these ordinance changes, in 2012 when the City Council passed a resolution committing (reimbursable) resources to help fund Nishi project development costs, it included in its deliberations a statement about its intent to exempt the Nishi project from affordable housing requirements.  While this statement of intent was not binding on the current City Council, it did set the stage for project planning and created the clear expectation that there would be no affordable housing requirement.

    The 2012 commitment made to the developer was not only kept in this instance, it was codified in 2013, thereby making permanent an inexcusable loophole to the City’s  affordable housing requirements. The ordinance could have been limited in scope–to small, compact infill projects–but it was not. It applies even to very large peripheral developments, like Nishi, thereby legitimizing the deal made in 2012.

      1. Eric Gelber

        I know it doesn’t fit your narrative; but, the timing/sequence of events and the plain language of the ordinance suggest otherwise.

  28. Jim Leonard

    If the interchange is modified the way the developer says it will be modified, Richards will be experiencing more traffic jams, not less. CalTrans says Olive Drive must be closed, so that traffic is redirected to the I-80/Richards intersection. At that intersection, the developer would have a traffic light. The traffic light would guarantee traffic backing up onto I-80.

    Now there’s a problem at the Richards Blvd./Olive Drive intersection with drivers having to stop for the traffic light before going through the tunnel, going left, or going right. It’s stop and go traffic and, naturally, we get traffic jams. If Richards is modified according to the plan, more traffic will be going left and the same amount (at least) traffic will be going through the tunnel. The same amount of time will be used to accommodate this increase in traffic. Necessarily, we will have longer, slower lanes of traffic.

    Now, supposedly the proposed new tunnel under the railroad tracks will help alleviate the traffic problems. This is only partially true if Union Pacific agrees to having the tunnel constructed and if the university agrees as well. Neither of these entities have agreed and maybe won’t agree. So, according to the agreement, there will be no extension of Olive Drive to the west. And no Nishi development will be built. Instead something will be built with the developer getting a price boost on the land he owns and the city getting what–more expenses for infrastructure?

    This project looks foolish, partially thought through as to the real consequences for Davis. It is an embarrassment that the City has chosen to come up with a project this poorly planned. It is appalling and humiliating that the City thinks it can rely on P.R. to sell this deficient project to us.

  29. Rob White

    All of the arguments on the issues, pro or con, are based on studies and/or modeling done by experts. The ones completed by the City are very extensive (as required by CEQA and Davis policies), while others that are being cited are somewhat less rigorous. But, no one really ‘knows’ what’s going to happen.

    The question voters are being asked is what they want to do with the information they have been provided. The Nishi Gateway project has been crafted to provide these opportunities:

    * Alleviate traffic at Richards Blvd./Olive Drive/I-80.

    * Provide R&D space for researchers and startups, many of which are associated with UC Davis.

    * Provide housing for students (and others) within close proximity to campus.

    * Generate the opportunity to create new jobs.

    * Support the sustainable, walkable downtown that Davis wants.

    The argument that we should ‘believe’ one researcher’s model/study and ignore all of the rest is simply not genuine. That is where the ‘believe Cahill, but don’t trust the City’s studies’ discussion breaks down pretty fast. Instead, I invite you to read all of the studies (one generated by the City and the ones generated by others)… and then make your own choice, based on best available data and information. The ones down by the City can be found on the City’s website. The ones by others are available if you email them directly, but have not been posted for all to access at their leisure.

    There is no magic bullet… but there is a lot of opportunity to act on these ‘Davis values’ that everyone talks about: walkability, sustainability, student housing near campus (instead of mini-dorms), more access points to UC Davis and downtown, and finally, support for UC Davis programs (and their startups in agriculture, vet science, medicine, engineering, and environmental solutions).

    Now that all of the studies are done, the choice is clear… a ‘Yes for Measure A’ means we are working on solutions and taking advantage of opportunities. A no means we are waiting for the prefect solution, immobilized by the chance we might fail… and there are never any perfect solutions. Just really good ones, like the Nishi Gateway.

    1. Roberta Millstein

      Rob, can you be more specific about where these other studies concerning the air quality at Nishi can be found?  I asked a direct question about alternative studies at the Vanguard’s Measure A debate last week because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t overlooking something, but the response that the “Yes on A” side gave talked only of mitigation (which didn’t help because Dr. Cahill has said that he thinks there will still be health risks even with the proposed mitigation).

  30. Rob White

    Roberta

    You can see the original air quality modeling/studies in the Draft EIR, posted here:

    http://documents.cityofdavis.org/Media/Default/Documents/PDF/CDD/ED/projects/Innovation-Centers/Nishi/Draft-EIR/4.03-Air-Quality.pdf

    The Final EIR has responses to comments from federal, state and local regulatory agencies as well as the community (this include Dr. Cahill’s), which can be found here:

    http://cityofdavis.org/city-hall/community-development-and-sustainability/development-projects/nishi-gateway-final-eir

    1. Roberta Millstein

      Ok, I looked through the first link, and I am not seeing radical differences between those findings and Dr. Cahill’s findings.  Some relevant points:

      Measurements were taken for 10 days.  (When?  I couldn’t find this info.  Winter, summer, weekend, weekday?  That matters because of inversion and traffic).

      Diesel PM corresponds to an incremental cancer risk level of 235 in one million above the background level of cancer risk from TACs.

      BAAQMD specifies a cumulative threshold of an excess cancer risk of 100 in a million for new sensitive receptors who would be sited in proximity to multiple TAC sources – so, the report concludes, this risk is substantial.

      Ultra fine particulates – exceed annual CAAQS and NAAQS – also considered to be a substantial risk.

      The study doesn’t find the proximity of the UP Railroad to be significant because it’s not a railyard.  But it doesn’t consider whether, as Dr. Cahill has said, there is significant braking and accelerating of trains in this location.  So, this seems to be an oversight.

      The data on possible connections to autism is fairly recent and is also not part of the report.

      In spite of these possible factors not being taken into account, the report still concludes that even with mitigation there would be a substantial increase in health risks and that the impact would be significant and unavoidable.  In part, this is because there is still some uncertainty in the studied health risks.

      The report chose to err on the side of caution.  Shouldn’t we?  Or should we decide that others bear a burden to benefit the rest of us without having willingly and knowingly chosen to do so?

  31. Tia Will

    Roberta

    The data on possible connections to autism is fairly recent and is also not part of the report.”

    In part, this is because there is still some uncertainty in the studied health risks.”

    The report chose to err on the side of caution.  Shouldn’t we? “

    As a doctor who makes these kinds of risk assessments on a daily basis, the answer for me is a clear…..”It depends”.

    What it depends on are:

    1. What is the strength of the data ?  In the case of a “possible connection” with no known proof of causality at all as is the case for autism, I would say this should not be a consideration. We don’t generally practice medicine based on “but what if”. If we did, we would not have analgesics, antibiotics, chemotherapeutic agents, vaccines…..

    2. How strong is the reliance on “expert opinion” ? In medicine, unlike in the courts, expert opinion is considered the weakest form of evidence, not the strongest. It would appear that the health care concerns regarding Nishi are based almost solely on the expert opinion of one individual. Despite the obvious expertise, experience, and independence of Dr. Cahill, his opinion on this remains just that, his opinion.

    3. What are the potential dangers of not building Nishi ?  What I have not seen you ever address is the real, not theoretical or implied, health danger of not putting housing on this site using the assumption that these students will be arriving and will have to live somewhere. Are we not putting those who would prefer not to drive cars at much higher known risk by not allowing them housing opportunities within a walking/biking distance of most of their destinations ?

    4. Since the health risk dangers are either very low numerically, or speculative as in the case of autism, what are the benefits that must be weighed against those risks ? The benefits of location. The benefits of increased housing geographically located so as to benefit the the downtown and  community as a whole. The benefits of new business opportunities optimally located.

    I have approached this issue cautiously over a long period of time. It is only recently ( within the past couple of weeks) that I made my decision. It was based on exactly the same kind of risk benefit analysis I make when deciding whether to offer a specific course of treatment for my patient. I know that every single treatment I offer, including doing nothing, has a unique set of benefits and risks. I practice very conservative medicine finding healthy lifestyle to be the best approach. Medical approaches are next using first those with the least known side effects and advancing to more potential for harm slowly and carefully. Surgery and its many potential complications as the last resort, but I act without hesitation when that is needed. This is the approach that I used when deciding on Nishi. I will freely admit that …..”but what if ? ” with out clear cut quantifiably significant risk, is not high on my list of priorities.

    1. Roberta Millstein

      Tia,

      Yes, you make risk assessments every day.  But it is ultimately (I hope!!) your patients who make the decision of what to do, not you.  You recommend, they decide.  Here, we are deciding.  So, we should keep in mind the potentially large numbers of people would not consent to living there if they knew the risks.  (And if anyone thinks I am wrong in that, I invite the developers to write a clear, one page fact sheet describing the known studies, and see how many people want to live there.  See if the developer is willing to make that a condition of people living at Nishi – that they have to be given a clear fact sheet and be giving an opportunity to ask questions about it from a neutral party.  I highly doubt the developers would agree to that).  And we should act to protect them in any case, just as we do when we close restaurants that do not pass health inspections, rather than letting people “live on the edge.”

      Of course it would be better to have more evidence and more voices.  But it is worth noting that Dr. Cahill is part of a team, and that he has co-authors on the papers he cites.  He is not a lone voice.  Most scientists are not comfortable in the advocacy role, and with Rob White’s recent hit piece, you can see why.  And it is also worth noting that Dr. Cahill called for more studies before building on the site.  Finally, it’s not just “his opinion.”  He is basing his opinion on the studies that he and others have done.  That’s what we always have to do; there’s no getting out of that.

      As for risks to students of driving, I am pleased to see that the university is finally stepping up and offering more housing.  Perhaps now that they seem to be a willing partner, they can step up and provide even more, as Eileen S. suggested in a thread last night; we can make those 3-story buildings into 4 story buildings or even more.

      Tia, I respect that you and I are weighing the risks differently.  But I do think that this is not fully analogous to medical practice.  It affects far more people for far longer and without their clear consent.

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