Commentary: What Disappointing End to MRIC Means for Big Picture of Economic Development in Davis



In the spring of 2014, Davis had three projects on the front burner to create the space needed for an economic development program, which appeared to have a world of possibility for this community.  With the apparent defeat of Nishi at the polls and the withdrawal now of both the Davis Innovation Center and the Mace Ranch Innovation Center, Davis appears on the cusp of missing out on a huge portion of the technology transfer wave from UC Davis.

On Monday the Vanguard urged the council and the community not to adopt an immediate and automatic “no” answer to even looking at the possibility of fast-tracking the MRIC project onto the November ballot.

During the council item on Tuesday, it became clear, even as the hour grew late, that it would take a major commitment and a heavy-lift from the developers, council, staff and the commissions to make the project work.

Reality sunk in for not only the council but for myself.  The lift was going to be too heavy.  I think the message from Robb Davis, a strong supporter of the project, should have made this clear.

He argued that “what’s most important is bringing forward a project that can pass.”

“It’s going to be difficult to nail down the level of detail that makes it possible to pass it on the ballot,” he said.  “I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say this doesn’t have a prayer with the voters.”

He would add, “I have an optimism about this project.  I have a belief that it can pass.  But I know what it takes to pass…” Again, the mayor pro tem was arguing that this isn’t a project that can pass.

Robb Davis was 100 percent correct here.  We saw where Nishi fell in June and part of it was the belief by some that the project was rushed on the ballot and needed to have additional details worked out.  MRIC, under these circumstances, would be Nishi magnified by 100 on that complaint.  The residents of this community would have claimed the process was rushed and they would have been 100 percent correct.

Unfortunately, the frustration by the developer comes through in the letter. Dan Ramos writes, “The reception to our proposal was disappointing, with a majority of the Council expressing a variety of concerns and focusing on perceived obstacles to its implementation.”

He adds, “Foremost among these, despite the fact that we’ve already been working with the city for about four years on our proposal, was a desire to have our revamped project undergo substantial and costly additional processing before the matter is referred to the voters. And it was clear that a majority of the Council is not inclined to proceed with referring our proposal to the electorate for a November 2016 vote.”

Mr. Ramos would have been better advised to count to three before sending that letter.  I can understand his frustration, but the fact is that the council, I think in this case, having just been through Nishi, was rightly wary of rushing through another project.

I firmly believe that a good project could have been placed on the ballot for March 2017 that would have avoided these issues.

It is my belief that this is a huge loss for our community.  I understand the concerns of some about jumping Mace Curve, but the reality is that this project would have been bracketed by a conservation easement.  The 218 acres of land on Mace Curve and the 200 or so acres north of Sutter-Davis hospital would have set up this community for the next 50 years or more to absorb economic development and technology transfer from the university that would have enhanced our community and provided critical revenue to continue to provide us with the services and amenities that are in peril now.

The economic crisis in this community is real and, unless we find revenue sources, the next 20 years will see a slow decline in the quality of life we now take for granted.

As though to pour salt on our wounds, Dixon City Councilmember Jim Lindley illustrated our loss with an opportunistic post, noting, “The City of Dixon is ready and willing to welcome an innovation center to town.  We have hundreds of acres on I80 that are within 4 miles of UCD.  We are well aware of the long-term benefits to our community and recognize the value of working with the development community to quickly bring the project to fruition.”

He added, “We of course do not have all of the problems with hand-wringing and fretting over every inconsequential project detail and therefore are much easier to work with in delivering projects.  We have a robust citizen engagement process and our folks are business friendly.  In fact, we welcome all businesses to Dixon that have experienced difficulty with Davis.”

Where Do We Go Now?

Where does the apparent finality of the loss of MRIC leave us?

Right now, Nishi is in a holding pattern.  The final election results will be available on June 22, reportedly.  There is perhaps a 30 percent chance that the remaining ballots will flip the results.

More likely, Nishi will have to consider its options and, given the close outcome, it may well come back in 2017 with another iteration.

Sierra Energy, who was partnering with Nishi, has been expanding Area 52 and has hinted that they will come back with another option if Nishi is unsuccessful.

Unfortunately, that likely means the resulting loss of more Davis-native companies like Schilling Robotics, that will need land space to expand their operations – or follow companies like Bayer-AgraQuest out of town.

Some have suggested that Davis can now focus on infill in the downtown area. There was mention yesterday in a comment about the Joe Minicozzi presentation.

However, I think there are two primary problems with that idea.  While I found his presentation compelling, the fact is that, given costs in California and the loss of redevelopment, there is likely not the capital to be able to do large-scale redevelopment and densification of the downtown area.

The second problem is that, while small and dense infill might enhance land value ratios, as Mr. Minicozzi explained, it doesn’t provide us with the space for expansion of existing companies like Schilling.

I think we need to revisit the work that has already been done here.  In 2012, the city council passed a resolution that the city would “pursue a ‘Dispersed Innovation Strategy’ offering flexible space (scalability) supporting needs of growing and new businesses.  A combined approach of near-term close-in hub with mid-term, larger less constrained edge sites offer the best mix of University proximity and expansion capability for the City…”

One of the first suggestions was that we utilize existing space.  However, even within that dispersed model there was a recognition that we lacked sufficient space to pursue even a near-term strategy.

The near-term strategy: “The Gateway (Downtown Research & University Innovation District) option offers the best close/in location due to the proximity to University and property owner and University interest, and should be pursued as the City’s top innovation center priority.”

However, right after the near-term strategy was also a mid-term: “The East and West ‘edge’ sites offer viable options for location and size of larger innovation centers meeting needs of growing mid-sized companies, and should be continued to be explored as part of a mid-term Dispersed Innovation Strategy.”

It is important to understand what Studio 30’s report indicates. “Studio 30’s research suggests that the City pursue a broad strategy to attract innovative businesses that offers a number of sites that are scalable and range in size so the community can accommodate an incubator, startups and expanding businesses. Some should be directly in contact with the University. This mix of small and large sites allows the city the flexibility to successfully attract, grow and retain innovation businesses. External sites have the potential to support the most jobs because of their size and ability to accommodate a wider variety of both size and type of businesses.”

But here is a key point raised by Studio 30, “The current isolated and dispersed sites that are available and appropriately zoned are not adequate in terms of size, location, or configuration (and related constraints) to address the emerging market need of an Innovation Center.”

The study continues, “With available reasonably priced land and effective marketing to innovative high tech companies, Studio 30 estimates Davis could absorb up to 10 percent or around 100,000 square feet of the 1-1.5 million industrial/office square footage absorbed annually in the Sacramento region. Because of this Studio 30 estimates Davis needs at least 200 acres for business development and expansion over a 20 +/- year time horizon.”

They continue, “A combination of one ‘close in’ hub or incubator with one (or in some future time, two) larger, less constrained (and presumably less costly) edge site offers the right mix of University proximity and identity with the expansion capability to address job growth and rapid business expansion.”

So, from the start, Studio 30 recognized that, while in the short-term they were suggesting we pursue a small location – because that’s what we had, ultimately that wasn’t going to suffice.

Unfortunately at this point, all of the identified spots have fallen by the wayside due to land use concerns.  But the reality is that the city lacks the revenue to continue to provide the level of service citizens have grown accustomed to, and maintain our infrastructure.

In short, while people worry that development will result in the loss of our small community, the lack of providing at least some land for economic development may do the same.

While I do not want to see Davis sprawling in all directions, I also do not want to see Davis riddled with decaying road infrastructure and closed parks and schools.  I believe a small compromise on land use would have enabled us to thread the needle to achieve both goals – of small as well as sustainable.

Right now, we are  in danger of losing the latter as we hang onto the former.  The next few months will be interesting to see the direction of the pivot.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


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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60 thoughts on “Commentary: What Disappointing End to MRIC Means for Big Picture of Economic Development in Davis”

  1. Tia Will

    But the reality is that the city lacks the revenue to continue to provide the level of service citizens have grown accustomed to and maintain our infrastructure.”

    I would like to suggest a friendly revision of this comment.

    But the reality is that the city lacks the revenue to continue to provide the level of service citizens have grown accustomed to and maintain our infrastructure at our current level of taxation and with our current traditional thinking about how to use other community resources.

    Your premise also ignores the fact that adding innovation parks on the periphery of town without additional housing will increase either the need for said housing ( thus increasing infrastructure and amenity costs) or promoting commuting from outside communities each which raise their own sets of problems. The innovation parks without any mixed use component are, in my opinion, not a good fit for our community because of those pesky side effects. This provision of housing at the same site thus avoiding at least some of this pitfall was ultimately what got me to a “yes” on Nishi. I would hope that going forward, we could at least think about the possibility of addressing our two needs, revenue and housing” from a more holistic point of view.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      “But the reality is that the city lacks the revenue to continue to provide the level of service citizens have grown accustomed to and maintain our infrastructure at our current level of taxation and with our current traditional thinking about how to use other community resources.”

      Your amendment isn’t necessary. Taxation was clearly laid out as one possible means to increase revenue.

  2. ryankelly

    It helped not that Roberta Milstein wrote a letter to the editor complaining about the timeline, effectively starting the campaign in opposition. This was a project that the commission had already looked at and weighed in on. She didn’t even wait to look at it again to see if the few concerns that it had were addressed before launching the campaign. Harrington was already circling with his plans for a lawsuit.  Learning from Nishi, even with broad endorsement and community support, a project will not pass. With shaky support and active opposition, it is dead in the water.  I think we need to move on and look at urban renewal, build denser and build up. This will be as controversial, but not require a Measure R vote.

    1. Roberta Millstein

      I started a campaign?  That’s news to me. I think you’re vastly overstating the effect of one of my letters. It quickly became clear that people on all sides of the issue saw problems with the timeline. And, once again, you have misrepresented what I said for reasons unknown.

  3. Fred

    Lets not forget that it was Ramos who was demanding the compressed timeline so the project could be on the November ballot, and the only explanation he offered was that they absolutely had to have it at the time of the general election so there would be larger turnout.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      He said that publicly. I still believe that there are two issue drivers here. One was the financial partners. Two was Schilling.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          I’m providing you with additional information to augment the public record. My belief is based on my conversations with the councilmembers and the applicant.

        2. hpierce

          Fred, you can believe whatever you want to… David characterizes himself as a “reporter” and therefore is entitled to “protect his sources”…  not a public record, but according to “reporters”, we are to assume they are ‘facts’.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            I don’t ask anyone to assume what I say are facts. But my job is to get information otherwise not available to the public on why November was asked for and to the best of my ability, I have done that.

        3. Fred

          Ramos could have been more forthcoming. In any case, the council gave Ramos every opportunity to bring a new proposal back or to work on a different timeline but Ramos chose not to.

        4. The Pugilist

          Ramos screwed this up for sure.  He waited until way too long, there wasn’t enough time proceed and then issues a tight timeline ultimatum.  When he didn’t get a positive response (understandbly so), he took his legos and went home.

        5. The Pugilist

          Fred and hpierce: I did want to add this.  The Vanguard provides a free service to the community.  Some of us, support it financially.

          I don’t understand the tone you guys took when David provided you with additional insight and information.

          Fred you wrote, “You can believe what ever you want, what we have to go on is the public record.”

          Hpierce, you provided a somewhat snarky response as well.

          When David explained the basis for his opinion, neither you offered any sort of apology.

          I think a lot of people take for granted the long hours, lack of sleep, and effort David puts into this every day.

          Just an observation.

        6. Fred

          Thanks Pugilist, I appreciate your note and I had already been thinking about the subject. I think there are 2 things that are confusing to me about David’s postings.

          1) The word believe. David wrote “I still believe that there are two issue drivers here.” that suggest to me that this was speculative based on personal beliefs not on additional information. If this was based on additional information then that could have been better stated, which it was later.

          2) When is David the voice of the Vanguard and when is he just David. The article written yesterday “Commentary: Measure R Has Not Produced a Good Community Planning Process” was filled with I and belief statements and seemed to come close to the line for what a non-profit can voice politically. I assumed it was just written from David’s point of view and not the organization. And I assumed that again today with his comment above. Admittedly it must be a tough line to walk, is David just David, or is David the Vanguard whenever he posts.

          I would suggest that the Vanguard needs to be careful about publishing information without sources, or that is phrased as beliefs and be careful that its editorial and news are clearly distinguished.


        7. Alan Miller

          I would suggest that the Vanguard needs to be careful about publishing information without sources, or that is phrased as beliefs and be careful that its editorial and news are clearly distinguished.

          Surely you jest.

      1. South of Davis

        Fred wrote:

        > Images of animal cruelty don’t belong here. 

        Is it “cruel” to beat a horse if it is dead?

        P.S. Since everyone that posts to the Vanguard is not a native born American (or Brit) some may not know that when most people talk about “beating a dead horse” they are not really planning to head to the glue factory with a baseball bat…

        1. Biddlin

          I wanted to post a “beating a dead horse.” gif, because I really believe that the Davis voters have spoken and the message is clearly that they don’t want any development. That was the mildest , a cartoonish animation. Killing the golden goose would also be apt, but I felt the dead horse captured the real spirit of the issue.

          “Its just not necessary to post the GIF.”

          Perhaps as a subconscious response to the recent outbreak of logorrhea on the site, I have been trying to make my points as succinctly as possible, while insuring that even the most umbrageous are illuminated. It is your right to be offended, not to censor others.

          Thank you for your reasoned indulgence, Don.

  4. Misanthrop

    “We of course do not have all of the problems with hand-wringing and fretting over every inconsequential project detail and therefore are much easier to work with in delivering projects.  We have a robust citizen engagement process and our folks are business friendly.  In fact, we welcome all businesses to Dixon that have experienced difficulty with Davis.”

    A better description of the chokehold on development and its consequences that is Measure R was never written.

    David writes: “I firmly believe that a good project could have been placed on the ballot for March 2017 that would have avoided these issues.”

    I think any California based campaign consultant would tell you that you can’t pass this kind of thing in a special or off year election. I would be amazed if Nishi was brought back for another vote before 2018 and more amazed if doing so allowed it to pass. It will be interesting to see what happens next with Nishi. Will it pass with late ballots? Will it come back in a year or two for a second try? Will they try to go to the county or the UCD? Will they sell it for mitigation land and never develop it? I have no idea.

    What I do know is that Davis has screwed itself with Measures J/R and 16 years of no annexation has stymied our ability to generate needed revenue for the city, allowed our infrastructure to deteriorate raising the need for local citizens to pay additional taxes, increased our negative impacts on global warming through additional miles traveled by people who live elsewhere but commute here for work or school and is changing the landscape in ways that sound better in theory than in practice much to the disliking of many residents.

    1. Fred

      There Misanthrope goes again. Davis needs to be protected from itself. We the elites know best. Whatever you do don’t let regular people vote on when new land is annexed to the city. Regular people just can’t be trusted with such important decisions.

  5. Mike Hart

    Relax folks… There has never been a better time for innovation in the history of Davis! We have made a tremendous amount of progress in the past few years.

    •The University, after decades of being the hermit kingdom when it came to intellectual property, has actually opened the doors and is actively supporting the formation of businesses around IP coming from the campus.

    •The City, after so many years of being actively anti-business, has completely turned around and not only unanimously supported the development of innovation parks but has spent money to hire people in support of making this happen.

    •The People, after several stinkers got turned down by the Davis voters under Measure R(J) in the past; the Nishi project essentially broke even.  As one of the developers of this project I am not even a little disapointed by the outcome- it was a learning experience and it will pass by a wide margin the next time. That being said, I am still holding breath unti the final vote count…

    •The Ecosystem, In Davis we used to be able to host its entire entrepreneural community around a lunch table (Salquist, Akers and Soderquist) now we have a thriving ecosystem being developed!  Davis Roots, Green Drinks, Jumpstart, Davis Angels, The Big Bang, Citris, Venture Catalysts and the Entrepreneurship Academy to name a few organizations.  Dozens of new business leaders have joined the community in recent years! In five years we will look back at this list of pioneers and chuckle as theier numbers will be cubed.

    •Area 52.  Not to toot our own horn here- but this is huge.  We have invested millions (and quite a few more to go) in creating a 38,000 square foot business accelerator, heavy incubator and restaurant for the community.  Every day we are touring new companies looking to locate here and use the facilities being developed and offered.

    •Finance. Rasing money in this area was incredibly difficult in the past.  Now I routinely talk to people in Davis talking about raising $10, $12 and $100 million funds for innovation HERE.  We just had a $650 million equity fund locate HERE in Davis.  My own company, Sierra Energy just partnered with a $2.5 Billion equity fund.  In short- this city is doing great.

    I think that the timeline for what we proposed at Nishi still makes sense, we will need a place for people to “graduate” their start-ups to over the next few years.  The 325,000 square feet at Nishi will be a great start and I think correctly sized to do the task in about 4-5 years.  I do think that the other locations considered by the city will be needed as well over time.

    I guess what I am saying is that now is not the time for hand wringing, moping or complaining about the process. Davis innovation is accelerating at an amazing pace for our community.  It is entirely appropriate that the community adopt a “go-slow” approach in growing to meet this opportunity- it is a huge change and it should be approached with caution.

    For my part, I am going to finish Area 52 over the next year and ensure that there is a series of great new business opportunities for our community for the future.  Where they will go after that is up to the voters!

    1. Tia Will

      Fred and David

      So we have a public version which seems to some, myself included, unlikely. With a developer that has been far, far from transparent about their motivations, it is almost inevitable that those of us trying to make rationale sense of what is happening and trying to judge the plan ( that hasn’t yet been submitted) on it’s merits, which we don’t know, will tend to fill in with what ever happens to make the most sense to us. Presented with a vacuum of information, humans will tend to fill the void. This is hardly a productive way to proceed.

      I wish that we could encourage those who would influence others to change our city would choose a route of complete openness and honesty. We all know that there are pros and cons to each course of action. So my plea to developers would be, since hopefully you know the pros and cons of your trade better than most of us, please just tell us straight, what will your project bring us ( range of possibilities), what will it cost us ( range of problems), what is the bottom line “pencil out” for you. Same thing for our council members. Same for the no growthers. What do you see as the pros/cons/costs and benefits. Straight up. No scare tactics. No drama. Just what you see as the facts. We are adults. We can take it. And I think that many of us grow very tired of the hyperbole, name calling and pretending that our side is on the side of the angels, when no, it is just one way of looking at the issues.

    2. Tia Will

      Mike Hart

      I really want to thank you for the summary of changes that this community has accomplished over the past few years. I think that this, coming from a businessman in our community is a very refreshing change from the must grow faster or stagnate that we frequently hear as specific projects do not get advanced. No, Davis is not closed for business. We may not be embracing large industrial parks, but we are thriving in other areas and I really appreciate your comments on this aspect of our community.

      1. Fred

        I have been thinking a lot about Mike Hart’s post and I agree with it and really find it refreshing. Tia is right too. Davis is may be picky, but it is not closed for business as some would assert. We need to embrace the positive as you have done in your posts. Frankly, people running around spouting “its just the same ‘ol Davis is closed for business” actually does more harm than good by creating a belief that Davis is worse than it is. I am tiered of people badmouthing my city like that. Your optimism is appreciated.

        1. hpierce

          OK, what tier?   0-5 years, 5-10, 10-15, 15-20, etc?  I’m a “newbie” came here in ’72, and even with a 2.5 year break, this is my home town too!  Lived here nearly 2/3 of my life, but freely admit I’m a “newbie”… attended UCD, fell in love here, married here, raised kids here… still a “newbie”

  6. Fred

    The City council was willing to bend over backwards to help Ramos get this on the ballot in November, but the council was also very realistic about what it would take to have the project pass. for those of you who need a review, here is a condensed version of the MRIC presentation and council discussion – under 20 min.

    1. nameless

      Frankly, the City Council as a whole was pretty negative that night.  In fact it was touch and go whether they would even allow Ramos to move forward.  Ramos must have figured if the City Council is this negative, so too will be the public.  Now is the time for the City Council and city staff to reach out to Ramos again and work together to bring this project forward again in a way that will be more productive.

      1. Matt Williams

        nameless said . . . “Now is the time for the City Council and city staff to reach out to Ramos again and work together to bring this project forward again in a way that will be more productive.”

        I don’t think that was ever in question nameless.  The only thing that was in question was the November ballot timeframe.

      2. Fred

        I think the city council was rightly concerned about the compressed time frame that Ramos demanded, watching the video of the meeting you can tell that they are doing their best to give Ramos every opportunity to pull it off. Swanson even begs the audience and the general public to help the Ramos get his act together. No, I think every member of the council wanted to be able to support this, and Ramos defeated himself with his start stop application and insistence of a rushed timeline.


  7. The Pugilist

    From the start, a lot of people said that Dan Ramos could never pull this off.  Since we didn’t have a lot of alternatives, we had little choice but to hope for the best.  But you know, when he suggested exemptions to Measure R, we should have known better in June 2014.  Hopefully there is a plan D.

  8. nameless

    I think everyone should stay tuned.  My guess is that neither of these projects is dead.  Call me an optimist.

    As I said in another thread, I think there have been some missteps by the city/City Council.  I also think opponents have been very underhanded in their tactics to defeat innovation parks.  So it behooves the City Council/city to be more proactive in promoting the innovation parks in the next go round, and to better control its messaging to be more consistently supportive as an entity in its entirety.

    I also think there have been missteps by the developers themselves, some as a result of mixed messages by the City Council/city staff, some self-inflicted.

    Being smart is not as a result of never making mistakes.  Being smart is learning from one’s mistakes.  My guess is all parties concerned, city staff, City Council, developers, have all learned some invaluable lessons and will proceed accordingly.  I have little doubt both Nishi and MRIC will come back, and most likely much improved…  🙂

    1. The Pugilist


      I once heard a speaker say that when you’re an optimist you’re never disappointed because he new day holds new possibilities.

      Unfortunately I tend to go the other way, my natural tendency is for optimism but experience has taught me to expect the worst.

      But we’ll see

    2. Tia Will


      I hope you are right, especially about the much improved part.  And if indeed they were to come back improved enough to gain approval, would that not speak in favor of Measure J/R and the efforts ( if not the tactics) of the opponents. Isn’t the whole point here to get the best project possible ?

      1. hpierce

        Usually, entitlements, under law, should be approved if they meet/exceed “standards”, placed in Codes, properly enacted… what is the standard for “best”?  Please articulate, so folk can know what to enact as a “standard”… otherwise, your comment reminds me of, “I’m thinking of a number between one and a thousand… guess wrong, no approval”.  Yet, if we adopted a standard of 999, suspect there would be a vocal group to urge for 1500.

        What is a fair standard for those who would develop their property?  Hard to hit a target if you don’t know what your are aiming for…

        I do not anticipate a reply… much easier to say something is unacceptable than to articulate what is acceptable… an inherent problem with R/J….

  9. Biddlin

    ” In short- this city is doing great.”

    So the infra-structure improvements and deferred maintenance and public pension issues are all solved? Good deal.

    I can’t imagine any developer bothering to try and build in Davis. There are too many other opportunities that don’t require jumping through all the hoops, just to get another rejection from the voters. They  have spoken, repeatedly, and it makes financial sense just to build elsewhere. We, in nearby Sacramento, welcome new development that enhances the financial security of our city.

    My animated graphic is intended as humor, but you folks might ponder: Who’s the horse and who’s got the whip?

    1. Mike Hart

      I think where we would disagree is the notion that the city has to be “saved” by developers.  Public pension problems are self-inflicted and the remedy is not coming from any of the projects being considered.  Deferred maintenance being solved through additional development is like trying to drink your way out of alcoholism.

      Sacramento is a great city, so are West Sac, Dixon and Woodland- they are entirely appropriate for many kinds of business.  Davis is unique, we don’t have to cater to everyone and we shouldn’t try.  We are on a very steep upward curve right now with the right kind of innovation coming online.

      And a final note- “I can’t imagine any developer bothering to try and build in Davis” misunderstands how developers think and work.  The high barriers to entry for housing in Davis create insanely high prices per foot and the very low vacancy rates.   This is extremely attractive to ANY developer.   In truth, the city council could pour syrup on the developers, roll them in crushed walnuts and chase them down the street with sticks and they will be back in a few months with a new plan.  Unlike Sacramento and other cities, Davis doesn’t have to try.  Developers will just keep coming.  Eventually, the right plans will be accepted.

      1. Biddlin

        ” Developers will just keep coming.  Eventually, the right plans will be accepted.”

        I know you don’t have any dispensaries over there, so where do you get your smoke? It must be top-shelf.

      2. Fred

        Mr. Hart has this exactly right. The damage done to the cities budget with the huge Wildhorse and Mace ranch developments was predicted and opposed at the time they were approved by narrow majorities at City Council (no offence to those who live there, this has nothing to do with whether they are nice places to live, or that the people who live there are good people). Though they were broadly opposed it was an uphill fight before Measures J/R were in place to make these better projects. This earlier irresponsible run away growth is the reason Citizens of Davis passed Measures J/R.

        1. Barack Palin

          Curious, why was Wildhorse a bad project?  I live in Wildhorse and am paying about an extra $1000/year in CFD parcel taxes than most other homes in Davis.  So please explain how Wildhorse is a drag on city finances?  Honest question.

        2. Misanthrop

          Its a good question and can be applied to the other projects that got voted down as well. Covell Village, Nishi and Wildhorse Ranch. The homes in Wildhorse and Mace Ranch seem to have appreciated in value over time. If the vacancy rate is this low now how low would it be with out Wildhorse or Mace Ranch? The supposition that all these developments are bad is really strange and not supported by the facts on the ground.

          Waiting for that perfect project sucks for those looking to live here who don’t already do so.

        3. Fred

          Wildhorse seems to be a very nice place to live with nice City supported amenities. I don’t have the specifics at my finger tips right now, but it boils down to housing developments are good money makers for developers, but difficult for cities to maintain financially overtime without added commercial and industrial base.

      3. Don Shor

        Public pension problems are self-inflicted and the remedy is not coming from any of the projects being considered. Deferred maintenance being solved through additional development is like trying to drink your way out of alcoholism.

        Economic development is intended to increase revenues to the city as one of the three parts of solving our budget problems. Higher taxes, lower spending, and increased and more diverse revenue sources are the only options. If we don’t increase revenues that way, we need to cut payroll and services even further, and/or increase taxes more than we already have to do. I’m really not sure what you’re trying to say here.

        1. Mike Hart

          This is an off-topic issue, but my opinion is that most new residential development adds little net revenue to city coffers over the new costs it imposes.  An innovation park on the other hand is a relatively small amount of new services required but creates a huge flow of new income.

  10. Misanthrop

    Mike I’m glad there is all that energy and capital going into creating a start up culture  here. I hope you are right about the future and the developers will keep coming but I’ll believe it when I see it. I’m not such a risk taker and don’t have the kind of capital required that I could afford to lose, so it seems foreign to me that others are willing to go to the expense of developing a plan and financing a campaign only to have it shot down at the polls. Still for all I know you may be right that for people with much more money than I the potential rewards make it worth the risk to try to run the Davis gauntlet. Still right now I don’t see how the impending loss of Schilling’s new factory or the Davis Innovation Center’s plan to go to Woodland or UCD plan to build a third campus in Sacto can be seen as a positive for the Davis community.

  11. Misanthrop

    Fred said: “There Misanthrope goes again. Davis needs to be protected from itself. We the elites know best. Whatever you do don’t let regular people vote on when new land is annexed to the city. Regular people just can’t be trusted with such important decisions.”

    But here is the problem Fred, you have it backwards, its the elites that are voting to not annex anything. Under Measure R you must live in the city to vote. If you live on campus you are excluded. If you live in  Old Willowbank or El Macero or anywhere beyond the city limit  like Patwin, the end of F St., Binning Track, the Davis Golf Course  or  along Road 29 you don’t get to vote on a Measure R proposal. I spoke with some college kids who lived in West Village who were disappointed they couldn’t vote on Measure A. Had they been allowed to participate Measure A would likely be ahead right now. If you want a true democratic process that isn’t elite you would allow any voter who lives in the Davis planning area to participate.

    Then you have all those people who work at UCD but commute from surrounding communities because they can’t afford to live in Davis but would like to live here. They don’t get to vote in a Measure R vote. I was at the Rec Pool the other day enjoying the benefits of living close to UCD talking with a guy who was there with his kids. He grew up in Davis but can’t afford to live here so he lives in Woodland but spends lots of time here on family activities and generating much more GHG’s than if he lived closer to his parents and his kids activities. He doesn’t get to vote on Measure A.

    Then you have our international students, Post Doc researchers and migrant workers who are here for a few years or more as renters trying to deal with the consequences of our 0.2% vacancy rates. They don’t get to vote in our elections because they are not citizens.

    Look at the census data on who lives in Davis. Its largely college educated people with high incomes and households with at least one person with an advanced degree. If that isn’t a description of “elites” I don’t know what is. So in fairness Fred there are lots of people being excluded from our decision making process under Measure R who have an interest in the outcome of Measure A. Whatever you want to believe about who gets to participate and their social status, direct democracy, under Measure R is less than the utopian solution those who like ballot box planning portray it to be.

    1. Fred

      Why stop there, maybe the people of west sac, woodland and Dixon should vote in city of Davis elections. Heck what about the Capay Valley after all farmers from there sell food at the Davis farmers market.


  12. ecotect

    It is just not the right kind of development with what we know about urban sprawl and the more smart tax-based planning revitalizing core area planning.

    The Living Community Challenge provides a holistic ideology providing a framework addressing Equity, Beauty, Health & Happiness, Place, Energy and Water that can be a community/citizen collaboration-building goal.

    It is an excellent follow-on to the Davis General Plan that is not being implemented as intended.

    There are plenty of opportunities for development within the Davis boundary. Significant grants and state funding are available for communities that do deep sustainability such as the Living Community.

    We cannot work effectively on reversing climate disruption by restoring and regenerating ecosystems if we are working within an ego-system.

    We need leadership that understands the need for projects that are regenerative in nature: people get very excited about the techniques, technologies, and new ways of thinking that result in positive contributions to the health of ecosystems and a reduction of human impact — which is what the Living Community Challenge guides through the questions it asks one to explore and goals to pursue.

    1. hpierce

      Can you put all of that into a concrete set of standards?  That someone could understand and base a proposal on, knowing that it would be a ‘yardstick’ they can be measured by?  If not, “just wind”… perhaps a ‘foul wind’, if you catch my drift…  don’t know if I want to ‘inherit the wind’…

    2. nameless

      From the internet on Living Community Challenge:

      “The Living Community Challenge is an exciting new program by the Institute to help planners and developers rethink how they design their community-scale projects, and provide a compliance review process at the master planning stage and certification for fully built community or campus scale projects. Whether your project is a street, block, corridor, small or large neighborhood, or campus—it has a home in the Living Community Challenge.”

      I don’t see anything in here that would prohibit MRIC to be part of such a program.

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