Commentary: How to Move Forward as a Community

Microphone

A few years ago, I was sitting in a meeting of the Innovation Parks Task Force, and, while there was a good-sized audience in the room for this type of meeting, it was glaringly obvious that the room was missing a good part of our community. Indeed, I would wager to guess there was no one in that room who voted No on Nishi (this was probably in 2013, two and a half years or so before the vote).

It was not a monolithic group.  There was definitely a group of hard core development supporters, but also another group that I would call moderates – people that would support some projects but not others.

At the time, I noted that, in order for this effort to be successful, we needed to broaden the discussion.  While I don’t believe anyone disagreed, no one seemed able to bridge that gap.  Some have suggested that some of the critics of growth were invited to attend, but did not do so for a variety of reasons.

We never got to see what a project without housing, either north of Sutter-Davis Hospital or out at Mace, could do.  There is a long list of reasons for that, but I think toward the top of the list are the high costs of development in Davis, coupled with high risk. There are some whom I have talked to who believe that the very model of an innovation park without anchor housing is doomed.

But the bottom line, I felt at the time, is that any effort that did not reach across the room to capture the opposition to development – the people who voted against Covell Village and voted for Measure J – was doomed to failure.

Nishi came very close to passing as it was. In the end, a core of people who had actively opposed Covell Village ended up voting for Nishi.  But, in a narrow verdict, it was not quite enough.

So I want to make it clear where I stand, because there was some confusion on Saturday with my column.  First, I believe that a Measure R project can pass in Davis.  Second, I support the concept of citizen-based planning and the ability for citizens to weigh in on the future of their community, with a vote on projects outside of our current city boundaries.

Within the current system, I do believe there is room for some reforms that can help to mitigate costs and uncertainty for investors, while at the same time providing the kind of safeguards our citizens need.

But the first step needs to be to create a process that brings everyone in the community into the room, and right now that process does not exist. As much as I believe that the council vote on Measure A was less important than some believe, the fact remains that the council voted 5-0 to support Measure A, there were no candidates that opposed Measure A, and yet 52 percent of the community opposed Measure A.

That means we will start out with a disconnect between the views of the incoming council on Nishi and the views of the community on Nishi.

What makes this process difficult is that there is no uniform agreement, even among the leaders of the No on A campaign, of what it might take to gain passage.

For instance, for Michael Harrington a critical issue is mitigation land.  For those who believe he is blowing smoke, he has been very consistent with me on this issue over a very long period of time.  I had conversations with him on this dating back to 2007 in explaining his opposition to Covell Village.  He ended up supporting Wild Horse Ranch because of the mitigation land issue.

And he has a point when he noted that, in the case of the owners of Nishi, they own valuable land on the city borders “that would make any new project even more interesting.  But they refused to disclose it.  So our conclusion was, right or wrong, that they planned to use the usual junk land out in the county that city staff lets these exterior developers use.”

While I take some issue with some of his rhetoric during the campaign, I know, at least for Michael Harrington, disclosing the location of the mitigation land up front would make a difference.

We know for some that the issue of sustainability would have been a deal maker.  In a more inclusive and public planning process, we could identify key issues such as sustainability features.  While I am sympathetic to the developer on the issue of LEED certification, I do believe that we can lock in framework that would require a development to meet minimum thresholds for sustainability – those could be defined during a public planning process.

Traffic impacts definitely (and rightly) sunk Covell Village and probably sunk Nishi as well.  I think the plan that the developers had in terms of the corridor upgrades and a new route to campus were good. The voters probably needed the city to do more upfront to fix Richards Boulevard – even now, with the students out of town and traffic a good deal lighter, driving from Montgomery to A Street has extensive delays due to poor light sequencing.  Re-routing traffic should have been done early on.

The affordable housing deal was an unexpected issue – it certainly caused some of the housing and social justice advocates to balk at support they might have otherwise given. The optics looked bad, that you had a project that was exempted from affordable housing, and then a relatively small giveback ($1 million as opposed to $11 million under the ordinance) – that didn’t help.

There is a lot of frustration, animosity and outright anger on both sides. Distrust is high. Filing lawsuits is a good way to increase tensions and a poor way to conduct public business, unless the suits are completely necessary.

My personal belief is that, on the issue of housing, we cannot afford to wait to see if the university will fulfill its promises and obligations.  That can be part of the strategy, but not the entire strategy.  We should have a process to identify locations and types of housing to accommodate student needs.

Second, we need a reasonable strategy for economic development. Whether that involves figuring out a way to bring back proposals for the two peripheral sites, or an alternative, remains to be seen.

Those are my personal beliefs. I know some will criticize this to say that I am presupposing an outcome – the community and process has to come up with the outcome, and it may not be aligned with the one I personally support.

My suggested path forward would be to create a broad community panel that could act like the Housing Element Steering Committee back in 2007 – workshops, outreach, facilitation.  My suggestion would be that each councilmember get to name up to five people for that panel with a mindset that they should be picking from across the community and making sure that a sizable percentage of people who opposed Measure A be on that panel.

The idea would be to get community buy-in from all sectors on a path forward.

Will it work?  I don’t know.  But what I do know is what we are doing right now is not working. So let’s find a better way. The Vanguard stands ready to assist in this process.

—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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110 Comments

  1. Biddlin

    “My suggested path forward would be to create a broad community panel that could act like the Housing Element Steering Committee back in 2007 – workshops, outreach, facilitation.  My suggestion would be that each councilmember get to name up to five people for that panel with a mindset that they should be picking from across the community and make sure that a sizable percentage of people who opposed Measure A be on that panel.

    The idea would be to get community buy in from all sectors on a path forward.

    Will it work?  I don’t know.  But what I do know is what we are doing right now is not working.  So let’s find a better way.  The Vanguard stands ready to assist in this process.”

    As a facilitator and mediator in several such efforts in Sacramento over the years, I applaud your suggestion. As an outside observer of Davis city politics, lower case “p,” over the past decade, I am not optimistic about the chance for success. The recent failure of Nishi and the divisive, disingenuous campaign to insure that old roots not be disturbed illustrates, to me, the complete lack of goodwill from such a powerful, if not sizeable fraction of the community and indifference/intransigence from another perhaps equally sized group. I think some of those who voted for Measure A are going to get tired of waiting for  change and move on to other communities, taking their ideas, talent and productivity with them. I wonder if the rest, like a small axe, will finally fell the great tree in the path of social commerce or will that heritage oak be a victim of its own diseases and parasites?

  2. davisite4

    Here’s another thought.  People are still angry about Mace and about Measure A.  You’ve been printing a steady drumbeat of articles dealing with innovation centers and there has been month and months (years?) of unpleasant comments back and forth.  Maybe the community needs a break.  I know you think these issues are urgent, but we won’t make any progress if we just keep fighting on from our current angry state.  An alternative would be to talk about other ways of improving the city’s finances, such as the revenue tax you mentioned yesterday or infill projects.  Maybe if we can come to agreement on something we can ease our ill will (or at least take a break from it) and come back to this with fresh eyes and a renewed spirit.

      1. davisite4

        No, we need a break from discussing big developments (as your vitriolic comment below illustrates perfectly) and need to discuss other ways of bringing money into the city.

        1. nameless

          And what other ways would those be?  More taxes? Service cuts?  Both unpalatable.  There is an old saying: “Be careful what you wish for”.  The No folks and the rest of this city are going to find out how true that saying is I suspect…

        2. davisite4

          nameless, go back and read my original comment, where you will find the answer to your question.

          The more people comment on this page, the more support I see for my view that the community needs a break from this conversation.  There is nothing productive here, only anger and frustration on both sides.  Vanguard, how about it?  Let’s take a break on discussing large-scale peripheral development.

          1. Don Shor

            The more people comment on this page, the more support I see for my view that the community needs a break from this conversation

            The problem is, the next conversation we’ll need to be having is how big a parcel tax will be necessary and when. And unfortunately for those who wish to take a hiatus from discussing economic development, that’s a key issue in the future rate of taxation that the voters will need to approve.
            A sound budget strategy would involve keeping costs contained, modest tax increases for unmet needs, and a long-term economic development strategy to develop more income sources for the future. The nature of that economic development strategy is now seriously in question, since we have far fewer options. That leaves more cost-cutting and higher tax increases. So as you consider how high you want the parcel tax to be, keep your eye on the long-term budget numbers — particularly in the out years when the sales tax measure comes up for reconsideration.

        3. Ron

          Don:  “And unfortunately for those who wish to take a hiatus from discussing economic development . . .”

          Let’s define “economic development”.  I can already see that this means a peripheral development (with housing), for those who keep pushing for it.  (Without even knowing if it would provide a net benefit, for the city.) Of course, they also tend to disregard the net drain on city finances that housing usually causes.

          If supporters of this want to keep pushing, there’s nothing that anyone can say or do to stop them.  However, I think they’ll be even less successful, if they continue to try to force everyone to accept that view.

          Somehow, the city has survived without Nishi or MRIC, for quite a long time now.  And, we even had paved roads, apparently before funds were diverted for other uses.

          1. Don Shor

            Let’s define “economic development”. I can already see that this means a peripheral development (with housing), for those who keep pushing for it.

            Not necessarily and I don’t think you’ll find most people wanting or expecting housing in any peripheral development. It just fit naturally with Nishi due to proximity to downtown. The dispersed economic development strategy developed by the Innovation Park Task Force included strengthening the downtown as a business hub and also analyzed redevelopment along Fifth Street.

            Of course, they also tend to disregard the net drain on city finances that housing usually causes.

            Somebody needs to review the economic assumptions underlying this assertion, as it is made repeatedly and accepted as fact. It’s not necessarily the case. Development, housing or otherwise, provides fees for the city up front, and tends to make money for the city overall for the first several years. Ultimately it is the escalating cost of city services (read: payroll and associated costs) that makes it so it doesn’t pencil out in the long, long run. And housing above a certain value, built in lower-density neighborhoods, either provides net revenues over the long haul or at least breaks even (I don’t have the figures at hand; hopefully someone else will find the previous discussions of this issue). Unfortunately, big expensive houses on large lots solve none of our current problems.

        4. Ron

          Don:  “Not necessarily and I don’t think you’ll find most people wanting or expecting housing in any peripheral development.

          “The dispersed economic development strategy developed by the Innovation Park Task Force included strengthening the downtown as a business hub and also analyzed redevelopment along Fifth Street.”

          Excellent goals.  I don’t think that anyone is opposed to those goals.  (Not sure what economic development was pictured along Fifth Street, however.)

          Don:  “Ultimately it is the escalating cost of city services (read: payroll and associated costs) that makes it so it doesn’t pencil out in the long, long run.”

          There are two factors:  1) amount of taxes collected over time, vs. 2) escalating costs of services (which still has no mechanism in place, to hold them in check).  In contrast, there’s already a mechanism to limit the amount of taxes collected (e.g., Proposition 13).

          I guess that “Exhibit A” is Davis, itself, along with many other cities throughout California.  So far, additional residential development has not “solved” the city’s financial challenges.  It seems that this will continue to be true.

          No one seems to be addressing the underlying cause of inadequate funding for road maintenance (diversion of gas tax, federal, state, and local funds that were intended for road maintenance – throughout California).  It seems that this is what mostly caused the problem.  (Not arguing against “economic development”, but it seems that at one time, the city managed to function with the current level of “economic development”.)

           

        5. Matt Williams

          Ron said . . . “No one seems to be addressing the underlying cause of inadequate funding for road maintenance (diversion of gas tax, federal, state, and local funds that were intended for road maintenance – throughout California).  It seems that this is what mostly caused the problem.”

          Ron, your statement above is strange.  How exactly do you expect local jurisdictions to address the underlying cause for the cutbacks of funding for road maintenance?  The Feds in Washington DC came to their senses and realized that their overcommitment of funds to build roads was unsustainable.  The State of California came to a similar realization and enacted similar cutbacks.  The gas taxes aren’t being diverted to non-transportation uses.  The gas taxes simply are not sufficient to cover all the accrued expenses that the overbuilding of roads and highways created.

          The local jurisdictions were so used to receiving the federal and State largess, that when the message came through loud and clear that the gravy train was being severely cut back, and the local jurisdictions were going to have to maintain their own assets, they didn’t respond appropriately/responsibly.

          As Walt Kelly was fond of saying, “We have met the enemy, and they are us.”

           

        6. Ron

          Matt:

          Not sure why you think my comment was “strange”.  I’m just trying to determine exactly what happened, regarding the apparent “elimination” of previously-received funding for road maintenance.

          You often ask me what I would “do”, regarding a particular concern.  The first thing I would do is try to understand exactly what caused the concern, and whether or not it can be corrected. If you look at the history of my comments regarding this subject over the past couple of days, you’ll see that this is what I was attempting to do.

          Your response suggests that the concern is not unique to Davis. Therefore, I’m wondering what other communities are doing to address it.

          What would you do about the concern (other than ask me)?

        7. Matt Williams

          Ron said . . . “Your response suggests that the concern is not unique to Davis. Therefore, I’m wondering what other communities are doing to address it.”

          Ron, the answer to your question is pretty straightforward.  The other communities are either (A) stepping up with local funds to maintain their streets/roads, or (B) not stepping up with local funds, and as a result letting their streets/roads deteriorate in much the same way Davis has.

          Those are the two ends of the spectrum.  Needless to say there local jurisdictions (cities and counties) that fall into gradations between those two ends, where those local jurisdictions are stepping up with only a portion of what is needed to maintain their local roads/streets.

          I have LINKED the CalTrans document, “Transportation Funding in California 2014″ that does a good job of showing how the transportation funds are collected and distributed.  Bottom-line, the fiscal realities of the Great Recession caused the Feds and State to introduce an element of fiscal accountability (some would say fiscal sanity) into their Transportation Funding landscape.  As a result the gravy train for the local jurisdictions (cities and counties) came to an end.

    1. Ron

      davisite4:  “Maybe the community needs a break.”

      Agreed, and I’ve pointed this out previously.  However, some pro-development types immediately jumped on me, when I said this.  I question the motivations underlying (some) statements.

  3. nameless

    First, I believe that a Measure R project can pass in Davis.

    And you base this belief on what?

    For instance, for Michael Harrington a critical issue is mitigation land.  For those who believe he is blowing smoke, he has been very consistent with me on this issue over a very long period of time.”

    Harrington did not sue the city over ag mitigation, but on the issue of traffic.  Seems to me Harrington also claimed Nishi was in an area of “toxic soup” and other such nonsense.  So forgive me if I don’t buy into the notion that Harrington is not “blowing smoke” when he claims ag mitigation is the critical issue for him.

    While I take some issue with some of his rhetoric during the campaign, I know, at least for Michael Harrington, disclosing where the mitigation land would be up front would make a difference.”

    How so, when in fact Harrington complained about every aspect of Nishi, from traffic, air pollution, city giveaways, etc. ad nauseum as well as ag mitigation?  

    We know for some that the issue of sustainability would have been a deal maker.  In a more inclusive and public planning process, we could identify key issues such as sustainability features.  While I am sympathetic to the developer on the issue of LEED certification, I do believe that we can lock in framework that would require a development to meet minimum thresholds for sustainability – those could be defined during a public planning process.

    The No side sought certification that was impossible to achieve – and that was the plan – no growth.  From an article in the Davis Enterprise: “Net positive energy (California goals), passive house design, the most current LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) v.4 Platinum and Living Buildings are at the current innovative standards for sustainability and discourage building on farmland.”  Note the last phrase: “discourage building on farmland”.  The No side is demanding not only NET POSITIVE ENERGY but NOT BUILDING ON FARM LAND.  How was Nishi ever going to achieve such absurd demands?  I think we all know the answer to that. 

    Traffic impacts definitely (and rightly) sunk Covell Village and probably sunk Nishi as well.  I think the plan that the developers had in terms of the corridor upgrades and a new route to campus were good.” 

    How did traffic impacts probably sink Nishi if the plan the developers had in terms of corridor upgrades and a new route to campus were good?  Or are you arguing that the No side misled the public on traffic issues by claiming the developer’s plan was no good when in fact it was?  Whose fault was that?  Certainly not the developers.

    The affordable housing deal was an unexpected issue – it certainly caused some of the housing and social justice advocates to balk at support they might have otherwise given. The optics looked bad, that you had a project that was exempted from affordable housing and then a relatively small giveback ($1 million as opposed to $11 million under the ordinance) – that didn’t help.

    Sure it was an “unexpected issue”!  Since when do citizens get to decide affordable housing exemption standards?  I thought that was the purview of the City Council?  

    There is a lot of frustration, animosity and outright anger on both sides. Distrust is high. Filing lawsuits is a good way to increase tensions and a poor way to conduct public business, unless the suits are completely necessary.

    Distrust is high because the No side intentionally sewed the seeds of distrust using whatever tactic was necessary to get their way, including filing lawsuits, disrupting public meetings and Farmers Market tabling as well as spreading disinformation.  Unfortunately the public bought into their nonsense.  Now the public is going to suffer the consequences – because the only way I can see for the city to get out of its fiscal mess is to raise taxes.  If voters fail to approve higher taxes, then the roads continue to deteriorate along with other city infrastructure.  We have the NO SIDE to thank for this state of affairs!

    Second, we need a reasonable strategy for economic development. Whether that involves figuring out a way to bring back proposals for the two peripheral sites, or an alternative, remains to be seen.

    And what “reasonable strategy” would that be?  Council member Swanson has pushed hard her entire tenure for economic development and where has she gotten for all her tireless efforts? 

    My suggested path forward would be to create a broad community panel that could act like the Housing Element Steering Committee back in 2007 – workshops, outreach, facilitation.  My suggestion would be that each councilmember get to name up to five people for that panel with a mindset that they should be picking from across the community and making sure that a sizable percentage of people who opposed Measure A be on that panel.

     
    A supersized panel of disparate voices is going to solve our city’s problems?  LOL  Not likely!

    1. Eric Gelber

      Sure [the affordable housing deal] was an “unexpected issue”!  Since when do citizens get to decide affordable housing exemption standards?  I thought that was the purview of the City Council?

      Yes, affordable housing exemption standards are within the purview of the City Council. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences if voters believe the Council made an error in judgment. This issue was unexpected only for those who don’t take the issue of inclusionary housing seriously enough.

      1. Rich RifkinWDE 73

        GELBER: This (affordable housing) issue was unexpected only for those who don’t take the issue of inclusionary housing seriously enough.

        So now that Nishi was defeated, how much extra “affordable housing” do we have in Davis? How many more available apartments do we have because a self-righteous majority voted it down?

        What some people in Davis seem to not understand is that the most effective program to make rental housing affordable in Davis would be to increase the supply of rental housing, be it expensive rentals or down-market. A greater supply helps all renters at all income levels. A lesser supply hurts all renters at all levels.

        Ideally, the vacancy rate in apartments should be about 5 percent. That is neither pro-landlord or anti. It’s a balance. If the apartment vacancy rate moved above 5 percent, tenants would be in a strong position to negotiate cheaper rents (and secondarily houses which are now rentals might come up for sale to new home buyers).

        Unfortunately, because we keep voting down every Measure J/R development and because we seem to oppose high-density infill and because student housing on campus has not grown fast enough, our rental vacancy rate is extremely low. I think it was 0.2% last time it was measured. That causes our rental housing to be unaffordable to many people; and a lot of those without the means end up living in other cities and driving over here. So another issue with our low vacancy rate is how bad it is for the regional environment. However, I am sure those self-righteous voters who opposed Nishi will still call themselves environmentalists, no matter what havoc they wreak.

        1. Eric Gelber

          Rifkin asks:

          So now that Nishi was defeated, how much extra “affordable housing” do we have in Davis? How many more available apartments do we have because a self-righteous majority voted it down?

          Answer: The same number we’d have if Nishi had been approved.

          That’s the problem.

          … Self-righteous majority who voted it down

          It is just this kind of repeated, condescending arrogance of the pro-Nishi faction that turned off many voters.

        2. Rich RifkinWDE 73

          So the self-righteous folks voted down Nishi because it did not have any “affordable” units for rent and they won the election and now we have no new units of any sort. As a result, the self-righteous have made life marginally worse (i.e., more expensive) for everyone who is trying to rent in Davis.

          It’s a shame that people are able to vote without having any understanding of the law of supply and demand. There is not a city in the world which is favorable to most renters because it has followed a policy of forced “affordable” housing. Not one.

          Davis, FWIW, was a much more affordable city before these self-righteous types decided we needed “affordable” housing. Our affordability was a byproduct of allowing developers to meet or exceed demand. But now we have a terrible shortage, which itself makes Davis unaffordable to many, and the self-righteous are telling those of us who support more housing that we are arrogant. I guess it is a contest of the arrogant against the ignorant, and at the ballot box the ignorant are undefeated. … Congratulations.

        3. hpierce

          The irony, Rich, is that in the mid 70’s to early 80’s, it was the developers (locals) and small builders (also) who sought to minimize the new housing (except apartments) in Davis… to rachet up the market value…

        4. Rich RifkinWDE 73

           in the mid 70’s to early 80’s, it was the developers (locals) and small builders (also) who sought to minimize the new housing (except apartments) in Davis… to ratchet up the market value…

          I don’t believe this is true. I can tell you with certainty that was not the case of any of the 1970s developers who were interviewed by the Davis Historical Resources Management Commission in 2015. Not one. What all of them told the HRMC — as part of the City’s historical resources survey update which covered developments in Davis from the mid-1940s through the mid-1970s — was that they were shocked by the change in culture in Davis which began around 1971 (prior to the move to the far-left on the City Council).

          Prior to the rise of an anti-growth philosophy in Davis, developers were used to drawing up plans, finding investors and bankers who thought the plans were good, discussing their projects with city staff and making changes to meet the city’s needs, and then easily getting approval from the Planning Commission. Very often in the mid-1970s, developers who had completed early phases of a much larger subdivision would suddenly run into a roadblock, where the PC or the City Council would kill all new development. So they had invested lots of money in infrastructure, but it sat idle for years because the politicians in Davis would not let them build. It was not just one or two developers who said this. It was all of them. They included Al Smith, John Whitcombe and his partners in Tandem, the Stanley-Davis Co., Streng Bros., John Simmons, the Corbetts and all sorts of much smaller developers who just had a single subdivision.

          It’s possible that by the late-1970s, after years of being hamstrung by the PC and the CC, the developers adjusted to the new political environment and decided it was best to not propose anything new. Perhaps that is what you mean by a desire “to minimize new housing.” But that would have been a result of the anti-growth attitude that the new-leftists in Davis brought to our City’s culture.

  4. Frankly

    In posting here, I am temporarily breaking with my decision to no longer participate on this community blog.  I stopped when I realized that my irritation with no-growers had turned to raw anger.  David has made the great point in the past that progress moves at the rate of trust.  It also moves at the rate of respect.  And I developed an opinion of limited to no respect for the majority of the people that voted no on Measure A… especially those that led the charge.  So, I have limited respect for more than 50% of the population of the city that I have lived in for 40 years and have a business in.  Not a good place to be.

    We had three development projects on the table over the last couple of years that 99.999999% of the cities in the rest of the country would have about killed to have in their community.

    But we said no.

    I agree with Biddlin here except mine is not a lack of optimism, it is a very clear acceptance of the futility of ever supporting another significant development in this city while Measure R exists.  It is a classic tyranny of the majority.

    Davis has the misfortune of being populated with a certain demographic and personality type that either don’t get it, or are just stuck in stasis mode.  The only way for me to attain and hold some level of calmness living here and having my business here is to accept it.  With all due respect to my neighbor, when a guy like him gets to call the shots for the city’s housing and economic development direction… well let’s just say Davis is stuck in the economic development minor leagues.  It is more than ironic that this is the case when Davis plays host to one of the best research universities in the nation.

    So I am putting my efforts into Woodland, Winters, West Sacramento and Dixon to help develop the regional economy… cutting Davis out as as much as possible.  As my business grows, I will work on moving to one of those places.  Davis has demonstrated that is undeserving of people like me that would, at age 56, be working on starting and growing business that provides good jobs and tax revenue to the community.  We will go to where we are better supported and appreciated.  And Davis can continue its trend of being a haven for wealthy landlords.

    Until and unless Measure R is overturned, I doubt there will be another significant project ever proposed.  I certainly will not be spending a minute or a dime in support of any new project while Measure R is on the books.

    1. nameless

      Don’t give up on Davis just yet.  I’m not sure Measure R will get renewed.  I know I will not support it and others I have spoken to feel the same way.

      1. Frankly

        I don’t have a lot of confidence in Measure R being overturned.  Everyone that voted against Measure A would likely vote against over-turning Measure J/R and a number of people that voted yes on Measure A would also likely vote against over-turning Measure J/R.

        I would use the examples of Don Shor and Barack Palin for the latter.

        I am not giving up on Davis as much as I have just reset my expectations to a level of reality.  I thought there were enough people in the community that got it and would vote with their head.  That was proven incorrect with Measure A.

        For example, a good friend of mine that is a long-term resident told me she voted no on Measure A.   I asked why and she said because of what the developers were doing to Redrum burger.  I asked if she frequents that place.  Her answer:  “no, it is too hard to get to and the wait is too long.”

        So I either get frustrated and mad at my friend, or I just accept that this is the type of people that Davis is full of.  I assume Tyler Schilling is currently working on a Davis exit plan, as are other businesses in town.  Certainly any that might have been entertaining the thought of moving here within the innovation parks have crossed Davis off their list.

        Of course there are people like yourself and others that get it and will continue to work tirelessly to try and improve the economic vitality of this city.  But the lesson is/was that there are too many here that would defeat any and all significant development projects.  Being a business man, I know when to cut losses and reset expectations.

    2. Michael Harrington

      Dear Neighbor Frankly:  thank you for sharing your concerns.  I get it.  But there are so many things behind the scenes that never get posted about or publically discussed.  I have had a few private meetings with local business people, and I would like to meet with you, anytime, to give you the big picture.   I absolutely have hope for Davis adding some reasonable economic development projects.  I can tell you with 75% confidence where and how.  The Nishi developers went about it the wrong way, and I can and will tell you how, and what they need to do to make something happen over there.  But so far, they refuse to talk to us.    They arrogantly think they can “do the David” and get approval in about a year of a slightly smaller project with a pinch of affordable housing on site.

      “Doing the David” is our new phrase to describe what David Greenwald has been writing about:  Yes voters will surely approve a slightly smaller project with some crumbs of affordable housing, to swing a few hundred NO voters, and then Nishi wins the next time.  Easy!  Cheap!

      Well …… I think Nishi is using that delusional concept as the basis for refusing to discuss a global political and legal settlement for a new version of Nishi.  (Just today:  they told us to go pound sand …)

      So “Doing the David,” which I believe is hugely supported by the well paid hourly file advisors who took Ruff and Whitcomb and the others down this road, is going to lead to another fiasco, and much larger loss for them at the ballot.

      Since Nishi refuses to discuss a global settlement, all we can do is plan and get ready.  Our Committee is much larger now, from the 4-5 of us in February when everyone said we were going to lose our shirts.  And we know far more about the technical details of their project, and we know far better how to fairly and accurately inform the voters of the major issues.  The next opposition campaign, unless there is a global settlement, will be much, much larger than the first.

      We support reasonable economic development in Davis, done the “Davis way.”

      So “Doing the David” is not going to work, Mr. Ruff.  My office phone is 530-759-8440, and I am right here, ready to talk to your lawyers, and, hopefully, you and your partners directly involved in the conversations.

      MJH

    3. Alan Miller

      I stopped when I realized that my irritation with no-growers had turned to raw anger.

      That’s the first step at Raw Anger Towards Davis No-Growthers Anonymous (RATDNGA).

      Of course, you just “temporarily” relapsed, which is a dangerous sign.

  5. Mark West

    What did the Developers of Nishi gain by ‘working with’ the activists in town to find a compromise project? A more expensive project that these same activists then worked to kill using disingenuous and false arguments. In the end, the only result from the ‘engagement’ was the Developers lost more money, and the community lost an opportunity to increase our economic vitality.

    If we were a community interested in real compromise, David’s idea might be successful.  With our current environment of activists who feel entitled to use any means to get their way, all it will do is create another commission that will slow down the process of development to an even slower ‘snail’s pace’ than exists today, with decisions from the commission ultimately being ignored by the voting public and our existing group of opponents (just as with our current system).

    We already have a system that allows for community involvement. Most of the residents of the City choose not to engage in that process for the simple reason that it is not important to them.  Adding another layer of ‘involvement’ will not increase participation, it will just increase the opportunities for opponents to ‘slow down’ and ‘muck up’ the process and increase the costs for the Developers and the City. We should be encouraging participation in the processes that we already have and working to make those processes more efficient, not adding to the already formidable number of hoops that developers have to jump through in order to help our City evolve and prosper.

    1. hpierce

      Funny… y’all never note that much of City professional staff, particularly in development review, are also citizens/residents of Davis… my experience is that they also represent a cross-section of the community, and historically were an important part of the “vetting” process… but they’re just “minions”, right?

      1. Mark West

        I have repeatedly argued that we should allow our professional planning staff to do their job and allow our processes to function as they are designed, so I don’t see where your characterization of my comment is valid.

        I personally would prefer fewer commissions sucking up staff time and a more focused process based on educated decision making. Adding yet another commission moves us in the wrong direction.

        1. nameless

          I agree that a supersize commission on economic development is beyond silly – it is completely unworkable.  We had an Business & Economic Development Commission that never should have been disbanded… another stupid move by the city.

      2. nameless

        Who even implied that hpierce?  I personally think Mark West has this right, altho I would go a step farther.  IMO the City Council/city staff as a whole did not overtly support the innovation parks but took more of a neutral public role.  Other cities would have been rolling out the red carpet for an innovation park.  In a town like this, the City Council and city staff need to be pro-active participants in pushing for well planned economic development.  (A vote to approve in and of itself is not enough.)  Instead, the City Council chose to fire the city’s CIO (and CM) and declare the budget “balanced” at a critical juncture for economic development/innovation parks with the worst timing possible.  As a result, the DIC project moved to Woodland.

        1. hpierce

          So, you wish to see City professional staff as “promoters” and not as neutral analysts?  Bet there is about 2/3 of Davis citizens would not be so inclined, and half of them would prefer that staff is are consistently “nay-sayers”/strong skeptics to anything proposed…

        2. nameless

          hpierce: The city’s CIO promoted economic development.  Why not the City Council? If they won’t even openly support economic development why should the citizens believe in it?

        3. Misanthrop

          The city council didn’t fire the city manager. Several members did create an environment that may have led the CM to seek other opportunities.

          “My suggested path forward would be to create a broad community panel that could act like the Housing Element Steering Committee back in 2007 – workshops, outreach, facilitation.”

          What difference has that task force made? It was a huge waste of time.

    2. The Pugilist

      Mark: What the developers of Nishi gained was a project with a chance to win, that it didn’t doesn’t negate the value of their efforts.

      1. Mark West

        I don’t think the project put forward to the voters had any better chance of winning than the original proposal would have had. Community engagement on a broad scale can improve a project, but trying to appease a small group of activists has proven to be a waste of time, effort, and money. These activists do not represent the community as a whole, just the narrow views of the anti-development faction.

    3. Alan Miller

      We should be encouraging participation in the processes that we already have

      Says the guy who criticized the residents of Old East and Old North who participated in creating the Design Guidelines, and then declared the Design Guidelines out-of-date as soon as they became relevant.

      1. Mark West

        “Says the guy who criticized the residents of Old East and Old North who participated in creating the Design Guidelines, and then declared the Design Guidelines out-of-date as soon as they became relevant.”

        Never said that, or even suggested it.  If you have proof otherwise show it.

        I criticized you and your neighbors for attacking a project in front of the City Council before the project had even been submitted to the City for consideration. Your actions were abhorrent and a perfect example of the ‘entitlement’ that I discussed above.

        As for the design guidelines, they are just that, guidelines, and are not set in stone. They should be considered seriously, but when justified for the good of the City, set aside. Zoning regulations intended to protect the ‘character’ of existing neighborhoods create as many problems as they purportedly solve. Our decisions should be based on what is best for the City as a whole, not just what a hand full (or two) of neighbors want.

        1. Tia Will

          Our decisions should be based on what is best for the City as a whole, not just what a hand full (or two) of neighbors want.”

          I agree that our decisions should be based on what is best for the city as a whole. I would however, like to paraphrase your second phrase to read, not just what a hand full of our developers and investors want.

          The neighbors would never have felt inclined to attack a project in front of the City Council before the project had even been submitted had they been informed of what the project entailed before they were reported in the Enterprise as being in agreement with a project that had not even been described to them. If you are going to report on less than optimal behavior, let’s be sure that we are considering the less than optimal behavior of all involved.

        2. Mark West

          “The neighbors would never have felt inclined to attack a project in front of the City Council before the project had even been submitted had they been informed of what the project entailed before they were reported in the Enterprise…”

          If you didn’t like what was written in the Enterprise, the appropriate response would have been to write a letter to the Editor. What you did instead was selfish, self-righteous, and frankly, abhorrent.

           

        3. The Pugilist

          I don’t think her complaint was about what was written in the Enterprise, it was that the developer failed to meet with them before going public.  And what they came out with was a non-starter.

        4. Alan Miller

          If you didn’t like what was written in the Enterprise, the appropriate response would have been to write a letter to the Editor. What you did instead was selfish, self-righteous, and frankly, abhorrent.

          We did write a letter to the editor.

          What we didn’t like was otherwise than what was written, and I would describe the abhorrent behavior we observed, but currently is not a time to be criticizing anyone due to good faith actions of parties involved.

          I am not going to research everything you ever said on the matter, but as you claim exactly what I accused you of may not of happened as written, but it isn’t worth my time so I’ll just apologize to save money (time).

        5. Ron

          Alan:

          I’d react the same way as you (and others), if I lived next to that proposed development.

          In a larger sense, the Trackside development proposal shows what will occur repeatedly, if the city continues to entertain large-scale development proposals in existing neighborhoods.  (I recall that one of the objections was the physical size of the proposed building. I assume that it also would require a change in existing zoning to accommodate it.)

          I would also argue that what’s “best for the neighborhood” is often what’s “best for the city”, as well.  In any case, I would not advocate “sacrificing” anyone’s neighborhood.

  6. nameless

    Frankly: “For example, a good friend of mine that is a long-term resident told me she voted no on Measure A.   I asked why and she said because of what the developers were doing to Redrum burger.  I asked if she frequents that place.  Her answer:  “no, it is too hard to get to and the wait is too long.

    And this is precisely the problem I am talking about – the No side spreading disinformation and using whatever other dirty tactics are necessary to stop growth of any kind and the city, by remaining neutral, allowing the No side to control the message.

      1. nameless

        The developer never got that message out (offering a better place to locate), or at least was drowned out by poisonous gossip perpetrated by the No side…

        1. The Pugilist

          The developer inexplicably hired a bunch of kids to run their communications campaign rather than an experienced company.  They fumbled the message for months and allowed the no side to build up their case unimpeded.

        2. nameless

          Pugilist, I actually agree with your assessment of the college kids.  They needed a certain amount of intense training before running with the ball.  At first their message was canned and not very convincing, but towards the end they got much, much better and were quite convincing.  The No side on the other hand just spewed out so much garbage one could hardly keep up with the mud slung in hopes it would stick.

          But I think part of the problem is the developer and kids were not prepared for the vicious onslaught that came – who would have thought affordable housing would have been an issue? It was ridiculous. Traffic I get, but affordable housing?

        3. Alan Miller

          It was ridiculous. Traffic I get, but affordable housing?

          Traffic was ridiculous, too.  Most people don’t get what affordable housing really is:  subsidized housing.  Most people never get that far and just picture Davis residents who will magically pay lower rent.

        4. Eric Gelber

          who would have thought affordable housing would have been an issue? It was ridiculous. Traffic I get, but affordable housing?

          You apparently get issues that impact you directly (traffic). But affordable housing for low and very low income families? Ridiculous. Unfortunately, nameless, it’s not all about you.

    1. Tia Will

      nameless

       the No side spreading disinformation and using whatever other dirty tactics are necessary”

      The spreading of disinformation and using whatever other dirty tactics are necessary is certainly not unique to the “No” side on Nishi. The vitriol was being spread by both camps in the form of name calling and has certainly been used by promoters of other projects. See my comment of 4:58 for another example disinformation by project proponents.

  7. Misanthrop

    No growth has won. No wonder the no growthers want to take a time out. Problem is UCD isn’t stopping their plans to add students because Davis doesn’t want them. Frankly is correct as long as a Measure R type ordinance is in effect nothing gets done that will make much of a difference and Davis will have budget problems, a declining infrastructure and ridiculously high rents. Also there will continue to be bitter nasty fights over infill that make Davis less livable for the demographic Davis needs most, young families seeking a suburban lifestyle in which to raise children.

      1. nameless

        In defense of the no growthers (and believe me I hate to defend them), the rapid growth spurts that were not well planned and resulted in a drain on the city’s general fund is what got us a backlash in the form of Measure J/R (it is the reason I initially supported J and then R – but no more).  We need smart growth, not boom and bust cycles.

      2. South of Davis

        The Pugilist wrote:

        > No growth has prevailed.  The history of Davis shows periods of

        > rapid growth and slow growth.  The tide is turning – albeit slowly.

        It is important not to put all the “no growth” people in one box.  Most of the people I know that voted No on A just want to keep the number of places to live in Davis down to help keep their home values high.

        In 2009 when Wildhorse Ranch went down in a landslide that average home in Davis had dropped in value by over $100K since the peak in 2006.  Today when Nishi almost passed most homes in town are worth as much or more than 2006 and people feel better when their homes have gone up by over $100K in the past few years.

        1. Jim Frame

          Most of the people I know that voted No on A just want to keep the number of places to live in Davis down to help keep their home values high.

          I can’t dispute the sentiment among your circle of friends, but I will say that in over 40 years of living in Davis — 37 of them as a homeowner — I’ve never heard anyone I know even suggest that they support limiting new housing in order to prop up their home values.  Thus I heavily discount the notion that this is a popular perspective.

           

    1. Michael Harrington

      The CC was so hell-bent on the three Hail Mary Projects around the city’s borders that they completely ignored UCD ramping up new enrollments and not providing housing for most of those new students.  Eileen has worked tirelessly to correct that negligence, and I think and hope that there may be more pressure from the new CC on UCD to keep its prior deals, and expand.

       

      If I were on the CC, I would organize a sit-in at Mrak until there was a signed solution to the UCD related housing crunch, or at least a clear and fast process to reach one.  But no, our CC members were out shilling for Nishi this spring, especially Lucas.

        1. Michael Harrington

          Pug:  then show me the record of what the CC has done to confront UCD on this critical issue.   I think everyone was enthralled by the Chancellor and her power, and no one wanted to rock that boat.  I’m not picking on Robb Davis, but the entire CC and the Planning Department.  And this is not just hindsight.  It all was happening when we were busy with the water project, another 5-0 CC debacle that we had to reverse 2x by voter action.

          Nishi makes the 3rd time in 5 years we reversed 5-0 CC decisions.

           

          So far as I can see, there is no plan to reduce costs, and increase revenues, now that the Hail Mary passes fell far short.  So what is it going to be, CC?  Show us your plan!

           

          Or are you quietly encouraging Nishi to refuse to talk to us and “Do A David”?

        2. The Pugilist

          I find it interesting that you are berating council and completely unaware of the work that Robb Davis did to get UCD to change their LRDP.  You guys want to credit Eileen Samitz with pressuring UCD, has she worked behind the scenes with UCD staff or simply made comments in public?  I wonder how much you really know what’s going on.

        3. Ron

          The Pugilist:  “I find it interesting that you are berating council and completely unaware of the work that Robb Davis did to get UCD to change their LRDP.  You guys want to credit Eileen Samitz with pressuring UCD, has she worked behind the scenes with UCD staff or simply made comments in public?  I wonder how much you really know what’s going on.

          Can you “enlighten us” regarding what you think is going on?  I’m not familiar with Robb Davis’ efforts.  For example, did Robb do this on his own, with direction/agreement of the full council?  (Or, perhaps Robb can elaborate, directly?)

          I’m more familiar with Eileen’s efforts, which resulted in a number of us expressing our thoughts to the University and other entities regarding campus development.  I’ll assume that you were not involved in that effort.

        4. Ron

          Thanks, Don.

          Regarding protocol and process:

          Was this done with direction and permission of the full council?  (Presumably, they would be interested in such efforts.)

          Also wondering about the timing and frequency of the meetings (“after his election” – as stated in the reference/link that you provided?)  For example, something that occurred two years ago may not have had much effect, regarding the University’s recent decision.

          Again, these questions were directed at “The Pugilist”, or Robb, directly.  (Either way, I’m hoping that Robb will elaborate.)

      1. Don Shor

        The CC was so hell-bent on the three Hail Mary Projects around the city’s borders that they completely ignored UCD ramping up new enrollments and not providing housing for most of those new students.

        The verbal agreement with UCD was the result of work by council members (including Robb) and Dirk Brazil, supported by pressure from Eileen’s group. Your characterization is not only wrong, it’s insulting.

    2. Tia Will

      Don

      I think that might be a good idea. Can you remind me the categorization of that land as far as agricultural use. I seem to remember you posting on this previously.

        1. hpierce

          As Don knows, but for others, generally poor drainage = not prime farmland… often alkaline…

          Also a problem for any landscaping, except for plants adapted to poor soils…

          Most of it is also in the floodplain… not only in the path of, but provides storage to minimize flooding downstream… that storage would need to be replaced nearby…

  8. Michael Harrington

    Where’s a signed MOU with action items, timeline, some accountability?  Without that, we are zip, no where, tilting at the moon.

  9. Misanthrop

    “It all was happening when we were busy with the water project, another 5-0 CC debacle that we had to reverse 2x by voter action.”

    The water project was the best quality of life improvement I have seen in 25 years. The water quality is so much better  that a coffee shop owner told me he turned off his reverse osmosis filters. Salt concentration is down from under 400 ppm to under 100 ppm. People all over town are turning off water softeners. The debacle is only in your mind. I might even try to grow hydrangeas.

    1. hpierce

      Yeah, but the problem is the ‘availability’ of water… the no-growthers wanted limits of water to control growth… Marin County’s “no-growth” is largely driven by water supply and the fact that 101 is about the only major N/S transportation corridor… it wasn’t about rates, it was a desire to make sure the spigot was as small as could be… it was spun as a “cost” issue…

  10. nameless

    Michael Harrington: “I absolutely have hope for Davis adding some reasonable economic development projects.  I can tell you with 75% confidence where and how.  The Nishi developers went about it the wrong way, and I can and will tell you how, and what they need to do to make something happen over there.  But so far, they refuse to talk to us.    They arrogantly think they can “do the David” and get approval in about a year of a slightly smaller project with a pinch of affordable housing on site.

    Who is running this town?  Apparently Michael Harrington is going to be our new economic development czar – a legend in his own mind.   Exactly who is being arrogant Mr. Harrington?

    The next opposition campaign, unless there is a global settlement, will be much, much larger than the first.

    The word “extortion” comes to mind.

  11. Tia Will

    Mark

    What you did instead was selfish, self-righteous, and frankly, abhorrent.”

    I know that you believe so.  I obviously disagree with your assessment. I believe that public comment before the city council is open to expression of personal beliefs. The developer was using a different public venue, for the dissemination of the idea that the neighbors had been fully informed and accepting of the project when that in fact was not the case. So why is it selfish, self righteous, and frankly abhorrent, to express one’s honest beliefs in one public venue, but ok to lie in another public venue ?

  12. Tia Will

    The Pugilist

    I don’t think her complaint was about what was written in the Enterprise, it was that the developer failed to meet with them before going public.  And what they came out with was a non-starter.”

    Actually, both objections apply.

  13. hpierce

    Slightly off-topic… Alan M…

    In your opinion, is the Lincoln40 project an opportunity to get a grade separated crossing (ala Emeryville) between the Olive Drive area and the Amtrak station/downtown?  I’m thinking it is, but would appreciate your thoughts…

    1. Alan Miller

      In your opinion, is the Lincoln40 project an opportunity to get a grade separated crossing (ala Emeryville) between the Olive Drive area and the Amtrak station/downtown?

      I have testified this in front of the City Council on at least two occasions.  The developers know they need to do this and have secured right-of-way in the project for this purpose.  This will not be an easy pull, no matter how on board all the parties are.  What I will not go for is any situation that could end up with a Cranbrook Court H-Street tunnel to Cannery Abortion Cluster F— for this scenario.  We know better know that good intentions are not commitments.

      I am generally supportive of this project, though it is out my living-room window, as so far the developers have been up front and forthcoming with the neighbors, taken our suggestions, and doing a decent job of a never-pretty task of moving low-income residents. They have a real problem with how they are going to deal with Olive and Richards, and they know it. They need alternative transportation options, and this is it. They still are going to have a traffic problem with one-way-out.

      1. Matt Williams

        Alan, if you go to the following LINK  you will find the December 3, 2007 Staff documents regarding SACOG Project Number 07-12-07 titled Olive Drive Bike/Ped Undercrossing of UPRR” with the local agency as the City of davis, and the local agency partners as Davis Joint Unified School District, Capital Corridor, and Union Pacific Railroad. The Scope of Project description is as follows:

        Discussions with community groups recommended construction of a undercrossing of the railroad tracks from Olive Drive to the north side of the tracks near the Amtrak Station to be a preferred alternative. This alternative has brought the support of UPRR, local school officials and the CPUC staff.

        The project will link the Olive Drive neighborhood to the downtown business center, provide a safer access to the University and local schools and provide access to the Amtrak Station and transit hub of the City. This project will also provide better and safer access from the commmunity to the US40 Bike Path, which runs from the east end of Olive Drive approximately 3 miles to County Road 105. The US40 path is a significant corridor for bicycle commuters between Sacramento and Davis.

        The City of Davis is known for its community outreach efforts and interest in engaging the public in the discussion of issues impacting the City. This project is in response to significant interest from many different community groups, including; the Olive Drive neighborhood, the Davis Joint Unified School District (DJUSD), the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR), the Capital Corridor (CPUC), the Downtown Davis Business Association (DDBA) and the University of California at Davis (UCD). Letters of support from some of these groups are included in this application. Meetings have been ongoing with UPRR and CPUC staff looking at options to improve access across the rail corridor. The DJUSD is in the process of redefining the attendance boundaries and has identified safe access from the Olive Drive neighborhood as a major issue in their decision making. All this is to say that significant public outreach has been taking place for some time on this project.

        If funded, the project would initiate public informational meetings and workshops to allow for more comment on the plan. Public meetings will also be held via a number of City Commissions that will have an interest in the project, including the Bicycle Advisory Commission, the Safety and Parking Advisory Commission, the Historic Resources Management Commission and others. Presentations and community comments would also be received from the DJUSD at Board meetings and possibly meetings with individual school PTA groups.

        The Olive Drive neighborhood represents one of the lower socio-economic areas in Davis and is predominantly rental housing mixed with some retail businesses. A significant percentage of the Olive Drive population includes either minority families, or low income families working in the service industry. Much of the local service industry employment is in downtown Davis. Another notable segment of Olive Drive residents are low-income students attending the University who must cross the tracks to access the University to attend classes and to access shops and stores in the downtown.

        The benefit of this project to the low income and minority populations in Davis will be to provide a much safer and shorter access to the major destinations. This project will eliminate individuals from having to make a choice between crossing the UPRR tracks illegally at grade, or to go out of their way through a very congested and challenging intersection at Olive Drive and the I-80/Richards interchange. No burden to this segment of the City’s population is expected as the primary beneficiary of this project will be the lower income and minority residents of Davis.

        DJUSD passed Resolution 32-08 “Support for Safe Routes to School Grant Application” on November 15, 2007.  The CPUC sent a letter of support on November 28, 2007

      2. Jim Frame

        I’m still scratching my head as to how an undercrossing from Lincoln 40 would work.  I can understand the Olive Drive side, as they have all of Hickory Lane to daylight the tunnel.  But it seems to me that on the I Street side they’d have to block access to most of the fronting parcels in order to reach Third Street and still comply with ADA slope limitations.

        The only other way I can figure it’d work is if they acquired the Cable Car Wash property (which might be a UPRR easement, I don’t recall) and run alongside the railroad to reach Third Street next to the railroad.

  14. ryankelly

    David, I suggest that you leave development alone for awhile. Seems like we will have to wait for the next generation to figure this out.  10-15 years from now will do it.

  15. Frankly

    Breaking my rule again.  This is related to the housing shortage.  Basically this is to combat the brain-dead and/or disingenuous opposition to the development of more market-rate housing with the point that it lacks “affordable” housing.

    http://www.lao.ca.gov/Publications/Report/3345

    Some fear, however, that these benefits would not extend to low–income Californians. Because most new construction is targeted at higher–income households, it is often assumed that new construction does not increase the supply of lower–end housing. In addition, some worry that construction of market–rate housing in low–income neighborhoods leads to displacement of low–income households. In response, some have questioned whether efforts to increase private housing development are prudent. These observers suggest that policy makers instead focus on expanding government programs that aim to help low–income Californians afford housing.

    In this follow up to California’s High Housing Costs, we offer additional evidence that facilitating more private housing development in the state’s coastal urban communities would help make housing more affordable for low–income Californians. Existing affordable housing programs assist only a small proportion of low–income Californians. Most low–income Californians receive little or no assistance. Expanding affordable housing programs to help these households likely would be extremely challenging and prohibitively expensive. It may be best to focus these programs on Californians with more specialized housing needs—such as homeless individuals and families or persons with significant physical and mental health challenges.

      1. quielo

        I know Jerry Brown is not that popular on this forum though he really has the right idea. Dedicated “affordable” units are nothing more than a gift of public funds to individuals. They also seriously distort the market as people who receive this gift will hang on to it forever and reduce the options for other people. I also understand that affordable units need to be given to people on a regional list rather than local low paid workers so these units may not actually reduce the need at all. Is this correct?

        1. Alan Miller

          Q!  You are a person that doth speaketh my language!

          You are correct!!!  If only everyone who meant well understood the realities of “affordable”.

          If anyone thinks Davis can through it’s own butt-squeezing will change the rental market, especially for students, through subsidization, just ask any student renting in Berkeley, Santa Cruz or Isla Vista just how far well-meaning, left-leaning, intention goes

        2. hpierce

          Yet, besides MF rentals there is a housing type hat has proved to be sustainably ‘affordable’… mobile home parks… manufactured housing can be considerably less expensive (per sq ft) than “normal”… current ordinances, and ‘sensibilities’ will probably preclude that as an option… yet, Rancho Yolo is a valuable niche… as I understand it, the residents own the “structure”, and lease the land, pay utilities, etc.  If they “move on”, they sell the unit and may gain equity in the process…

          Perhaps we should re-visit that as an option… modern “trailers” are more energy efficient than the structures in ‘Slater’s Court’, probably healthier/safer… perhaps that site deserves an “upgrade”.

          BTW, a mini tornado, on the path to go over the Rancho Yolo folk, indeed did so, but the damage as to a big tree @ the cemetery (uprooted), and many roofs (loss of roof tiling (composition shingle), no major structural) in Davis Manor, east of Pole Line in the late 80’s… Rancho Yolo was unscathed… another myth busted…

          But it did indeed sound like a freight train when it went thru (myth confirmed)… it skipped our house but on either side, there was damage… that’s why I prefer living in earthquake country rather than tornado country…

        3. quielo

          Alan Miller,

           

          It’s amazing how many people don’t understand some very fundamentals of housing. People talk about low affordability and advocate for expansion of Section 8 while Section is one of the main drivers of unaffordability. Section 8 at it’s core is a subsidy for landlords and by providing a “floor” for rentals jn many markets dives up prices. Likely there is little section 8 but in many places it comes down to a decision between lowering the price of a rental or accepting section 8.

           

  16. quielo

    In some Latin America countries the politicians use government money to give an individual a free house, generally through a lottery. We are not far off this with many of our policies.

    Again, I’m a newcomer and don’t really care much about affordable housing in Davis. It’s not like LA or the Bay Area where you have to go beyond a reasonable commuting distance to find a place to live. With the 113 Woodland is 10 minutes away and other cheaper places are close as well. I really don’t “get” the affordable housing issue but I presume it’s a Davis thing like banning bags here because they are a problem in third world countries.

     

    However if I do care about increasing housing without expanding the town or increasing light pollution. The easiest way is to increase density along the larger streets. F, B, 8th, 5th, Anderson, and others have these old duplexes that take a lot of room and provide little housing. Replacing them with 2-3 story units of micro residences of 300-400 sq feet with cars strongly discouraged.

    Perhaps including a zipcar or two per building with a credit for usage included in the rent would do the trick.

     

     

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