By Dan Carson
Unanimity – or close to it – is hard to achieve in politics and local government. It’s a world focused on accumulating supporters, and when people group together in this or that camp, the impulse to look for strategic openings is high and the risk to staying silent is low.
That’s why I’ve been impressed by the overwhelming number of local leaders who are supporting yes on Measure A. They represent different constituencies, and they’ve advocated different things in the past, but all of them understood how important the Nishi Gateway is to solving ongoing problems in Davis.
Our current representatives in the state Legislature support Measure A: Senator Lois Wolk and Assemblymember Bill Dodd. So too do former Assemblymember Mariko Yamada and former Assemblymember Helen Thomson. Taken together (Wolk served in the Assembly), our local Assembly representation for the past 20 years supports Measure A.
Our current City Council voted 5-0 to put Measure A on the ballot, and each of them (Robb Davis, Lucas Frerichs, Brett Lee, Rochelle Swanson, and Dan Wolk) supports Measure A. Those running for re-election this year (Frerichs and Lee, as well as council hopefuls Will Arnold and Matt Williams, Jr.) also support Measure A. Former council members supporting Measure A total 11, and they include Jerry Adler, Ruth Asmundson, Bob Black, Mike Corbett, Bill Kopper, Joe Krovoza, Deborah Nichols-Poulos, Ted Puntillo, Maynard Skinner, Stephen Souza, and Ken Wagstaff. A few of the above served as Yolo County supervisors, and you can add to those voices Betsy Marchand.
Can anyone recall the last time the student government and business community were aligned on an item on the ballot? I can’t, but here we are, with the ASUCD, Graduate Students Association, Downtown Business Association, and Davis Chamber of Commerce in lockstep. Throw in the two major newspapers in our city, the Enterprise and the Bee, and you have a shockingly large consensus.
Why are all these voices on the same page? There isn’t a single answer. Conceived over eight years of negotiations, the Nishi Gateway project that would be authorized by a yes vote on Measure A has evolved and improved over time to build overwhelming consensus.
The schools get $450,000 a year plus $1.4 million in school impact fees. City services get up to $1.4 million a year plus millions in one-time benefits. The biking community gets a new route along Richards that will protect them cars and trucks. Environmentalists get solar panels at Nishi that will supply 85% of the power needed. The business community gets new customers downtown and R&D space at Nishi that will help establish new and growing companies. The campus community gets needed housing for students, job opportunities for students and faculty, and new routes to campus paid for at private expense. People in Davis concerned about traffic get the most significant solutions to traffic gridlock on Richards that we have ever seen, including the new bypass road to campus. People focused on the preservation of Davis neighborhoods get the first major relief to mini-dorms that we’ve seen in years. People concerned about the city’s debt get all of this without any new taxes.
We may not see this coalition emerge again in Davis politics, but for now our local leaders are overwhelmingly speaking with one voice in support of Measure A.
Dan Carson worked for 17 years in the Legislative Analyst’s Office, a nonpartisan fiscal and policy adviser to the California Legislature, retiring in 2012 as deputy legislative analyst. He now serves as vice chair of the city’s Finance and Budget Commission. This commentary reflects his views only and does not represent the position of the commission on this issue.