Commentary: Sign of the Times

Civic Pool was leaking in 2014
Civic Pool was leaking in 2014

In the past week, we have been talking about the lack of sustainable future we have in Davis.  One example is the lack of money to maintain current facilities or to purchase and upgrade new infrastructure.

While the overall unmet needs number is staggering, in excess of $655 million over 20 years, perhaps a smaller example is needed in order to demonstrate the potential future.

On Saturday, Stacey Winton of the City of Davis sent out a note via Nextdoor regarding the closure of Arroyo Pool during the 4th of July weekend – “The rec pool has a pump malfunction and will not be open through the 4th of July holiday. The facility and the lap pool with the diving board will remain open. We apologize for the terrible timing and inconvenience.”

Imagine the long and hot summers in Davis without the public pools for the children to play in.

In his 2015 call to action, Mayor Dan Wolk asked the community “to join together in an effort I’m calling ‘Renew Davis.’”  At the time he said, “We’ve been resting a bit on our laurels. We need to challenge ourselves to think bigger and to renew our commitment to what makes Davis Davis and to ensure that we leave our children and grandchildren with a stronger Davis than the one we inherited.”

One of his calls was to reinvest in roads, parks and pools.  At that time, Civic Center Pool was leaking thousands of gallons of water each day.  Now the problem is a pump at Arroyo.  City staff has priced out the cost of a new pool at Community Park at $2 million.

Dan Wolk said in January 2015 that “although the pool has since been fixed, the larger issue of the state of our community assets remains of great concern.”

It is not that pools are necessarily our biggest or most pressing need, but rather that they serve as an indicator that aging infrastructure is liable to break down at the most inopportune times.  Two years ago it was a leaking pool next to City Hall, this year it is a pump shutdown over the 4th of July weekend.

A city staff report on revenue options in December laid out the dilemma faced by the city, “While there is general consensus around the concept that the City has a significant list of unmet needs, there are mixed opinions about what defines a need and whether new revenue should be pursued to address those needs.”

Staff goes on to note, “Most of the discussion has centered around infrastructure needs, specifically the city’s transportation infrastructure (streets, bike lanes, bike paths), although additional projects have been identified (pool enhancement and/or replacement, urban forest, city facilities, parks infrastructure, etc.) as long term concerns.”

The city council has done a good job at carving out about $4 million per year for roads, bike paths and sidewalks, but that still leaves the funding at least $4 million short per year.  While that represents an important step, it also means that, while we are addressing some roadways, we are actually falling further behind in our upkeep schedule.

The city council has also managed to save $8 million for use of one-time funding for infrastructure projects – another good step, but the $655 million per year figure suggests the need for about $32 million a year in ongoing money to really solve these problems.

Polling of the community has shown that things like pools represent “nice to haves” as opposed to road and other infrastructure costs.  But, in a real sense, it is our system of bike paths, greenbelts, parks and pools that represents a core identity for the city.

In February, the council looked into a variety of revenue options for the city to address unmet infrastructure needs.  But council remained divided on what the chief goal would be.  Some, like Mayor Dan Wolk and Councilmember Lucas Frerichs, favored an increased parks tax.

Matt Williams noted that our current parks tax at $49 per parcel, which was passed in 2012, was “leaving us with $315 million worth of capital infrastructure maintenance that we’re going to have to do to the parks surfaces and buildings.”  It was, in fact, passed knowing that we were only funding about one-quarter of our parks needs and that we would have to find the remainder of that funding at a later time.

Last week he noted there is probably another $5 million for pools not included in that $655 million.

In the February staff report, in addition to $2 million in renovations to Community Pool, there is about $100,000 in ongoing unfunded annual pool equipment needs.

A $50 per parcel per year tax would fund $1.4 million per year for 6 years and could have gone towards parks renovations and infrastructure upkeep.  But again, that was not seen as the top priority by many, myself included.

Unfortunately, the lack of consensus and the late date forced the council for a second time, the first being in the spring of 2014, to postpone a decision on an infrastructure tax.  The idea was that if the council was not going to go the general tax route, they didn’t need to rush to put something on the ballot.

However, the window to put something on the ballot for November is closing rapidly, and from current understanding there is no immediate plan for another revenue tax.

What does this mean?  It means that likely it will be another two years before we look to a revenue measure to fund critical infrastructure needs.  This is troubling.  As mentioned we are still underfunding roads, parks, and other infrastructure.

We have expectations for what Davis is supposed to look like.  We take for granted our services and amenities.  We take for granted that we have great assets like Community Park to celebrate the 4th of July, but now these assets are threatened and someone needs to step up to save them.

—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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68 Comments

  1. gaiusb

    Not only are there too few pools for families to access during the lengthy hot months in Davis but the pools that are currently open have very limited hours (1-5) because they are closed  for swim lessons.  Also- the remaining open pools are overcrowded during the hotter days.

  2. The Pugilist

    I’m definitely in agreement with the nice-to-have take on pools, but see the overall point that if the pools are closing and in disrepair it’s another sign of the downfall of Davis.

  3. nameless

    I think it is high time to ask the citizens opposing economic development how the city is going to fix the city’s infrastructure.  Higher taxes?  Good luck with that…

  4. dlemongello

    Not to say there are no issues, but to equate a pump going out than can be repaired as  “a sign of the times” because it was at an inconvenient time before a big weekend I think is a bit of an exaggeration.  We can all also just take the $655 million number as fact, or it could easily be inflated, according to the standards set by the people who determined it. There are some crumbling roads, but the ones that have totally been redone, though major thoroughfares, were not all that bad, not to mention the totally fine bike path from Community park leading to the overcrossing that for some reason was totally redone and even reconfigured.  Yes, I know that when a road falls below a certain level of degradation it is more per unit area to repair/maintain it.

    And yes, there is competition for pool usage, splashing around and cooling off vs. structured swimming/sport.

    1. Barack Palin

      I agree with dlemongello .  A pump went out on a busy weekend and some people are trying to make more out of that than needed.  Kind of like “never let a crisis go to waste”.

      1. The Pugilist

        The pump went out before the busy weekend,  you’re missing the hundred thousand dollars a year and deferred maintenance for the pools

  5. Roberta Millstein

    However, the window to put something on the ballot for November is closing rapidly, and from current understanding there is no immediate plan for another revenue tax.

    Why not?

    1. hpierce

      Because (primarily) there is the “secret handshake” between the City and DJUSD, that DJ goes first, and if there are any fish left in the pond, the city could fish… this is ~ 30 year tradition… look at history…

      After all, what is a better campaign slogan:  “It’s for the kids”; “It’s for roads”; “It’s for pools”; “it’s for parks/greenbelts”?

      Duh… follow the dots…

      The Editor in-chief of this blog will confirm that it is better to pass an assessment for 900+ for the schools than 200 for the City…

      1. Barack Palin

        Actually “It’s for the kids” is the better campaign slogan.  Being the case if they really thought this out the city should’ve gone first and then DJUSD.

        1. hpierce

          Duh… but it was thought out… the DJUSD board likely pressured the City (CC) to “back off” on any measure they (CC) wanted to propose…  at least they have done so before… repeatedly… the threat was along the lines of, “if you propose a measure that might impact ours, we’ll make sure you are portrayed as against kids/schools”…

          Gotta’ love the political machinations in this City…

  6. Topcat

    I wonder if it might make sense to charge higher usage fees for the pools and use the extra revenue collected that way for repairs and maintenance of the pools?

    1. hpierce

      The “break-point”, where higher fees really start cutting into use (thus, actually decreasing revenues) is lower than you might think, at least for recreational users… the organized swim groups have successfully kept their fees low, as well…

      1. Ron

        In general, I think that direct “users” of services (such as pools) are going to have to “step up” more, if they want to keep these facilities opened and maintained.  This might change the type of usage, to some degree.

        Not sure that taxpayers are in the mood to subsidize everything, given the other financial challenges that are frequently mentioned in the Vanguard.

        On a related note, I am also of the opinion that the condition of the roads is NOT dire, at this point.

        1. Ron

          Don:  My own experiences driving on Davis roads, comparing them with other communities, and comments from others on this same page.  It doesn’t stand out as (another) “crisis”, from my experience.  (As others have mentioned, I’m aware that it’s generally less expensive to perform proper maintenance.)

          Do you have a different opinion? (I just saw Misanthrop’s comment. I don’t generally drive in West Davis.)

          In any case, I suspect that a tax specifically designated for road maintenance might pass if it were placed on the ballot (assuming it’s needed). Matt mentioned something about a loss of (federal/state?) funding for road maintenance. (I assume that this affects other communities, as well. If so, I’m wondering what other communities are doing to address this.)

        2. Ron

          O.K., Don.  I agree.

          (A 104-page report.)  Not too interested in studying the entire report, but I’ll assume it says that more money is needed.

          Has anyone calculated the amount it would take (in the form of a specific tax, per parcel or some other unit of measurement)?

          I’m somewhat interested in how we got to this point, so that we know how to avoid it in the future.  Seems like Matt mentioned a loss of funding (throughout the state?), which might be a somewhat unexpected event.

          Again, I think that a specific road maintenance tax might be supported by the electorate.

           

        3. Ron

          In reference to my comment above (regarding a tax specifically for road maintenance), I would assume that apartment owners would pay a higher amount (based on the number of units in the complex).  If so, it would be more “fair” than the school board tax proposal, at least.

          Has the council entertained a proposal, specifically for road maintenance?

          And again, I’m wondering how this (apparent) road maintenance shortcoming/deficit occurred.

        4. hpierce

          Ron:

          I’m somewhat interested in how we got to this point, so that we know how to avoid it in the future. 

          A brief, “Reader’s Digest” answer… Gas Tax got diverted to the State (used to go towards road maintenance and street lighting)… Federal and State road funds got diverted to the State, who let SACOG and State entities decide where to spend it, primarily on big projects.

          When City PW engineers started noting the trend to have less money coming directly to the City, raising the alarms in the late 80’s, early 90’s, they were ignored… much more glamorous to use GF money of social and/or recreational purposes… much to their credit PW engineers kept raising the alarms, but got a “thank you for your input” response (but little/no funding)… in kind of a reverse “boy crying wolf” thing, if you know what the response will be, you feel less enthusiastic raising the alarms… you still do, but…

          A law of thermodynamics… things tend toward maximum entropy (in the case of roads, if you don’t apply “energy”/money, roads deteriorate and fall apart)… duh!

          As Pogo would say, “we have met the enemy, …”

        5. Ron

          Thanks, hpierce.  I appreciate the explanation.

          It seems that Davis is not alone, regarding this problem.  (I was wondering why roads in general – in many communities – seem worse overall, these days.)

        6. hpierce

          Ron:  the longer answer is even more interesting… where Finance and other departments were ‘jealous’ of PW enterprise funds somewhat ‘shielding’ PW from downturns in GF revenue, and so PW wasn’t even supported by key City staff as to roads… in fact, the PW roads crew (dealing with minor repairs/maintenance) was cut from four to zero a few years back…

          It was NOT PW who recommended that… came from “City Hall”…

        7. Ron

          hpierce:  Wow.  I guess these types of tax fund shenanigans don’t help with the “trust” issue, and make it more difficult to get anything approved by voters. Pretty difficult to maintain roads with “zero” personnel dedicated to it.

        8. hpierce

          Ron… I either did not explain well, or you misunderstood…

           I guess these types of tax fund shenanigans don’t help with the “trust” issue

          Wasn’t part of the bolded text… was a decision by CM and CC to cut GF funding to road maintenance, and, perhaps, to “punish” DCEA.  It was part of a trend… PW crews did minor patching and crack-sealing, to “buy time” by keeping moisture out of the road base (#1 “killer” of AC pavement… oxidation is # 2, but leads to moisture intrusion).  Crack sealing machine wore out… CM/CC unwilling to fund its replacement… the RIF happened a year or two later… apparently there were other ‘priorities’ for CM/CC for the use of GF $.

          Not “shenanigans”, as it was open, public, and a choice of where to spend GF $.  An unwise choice, in my opinion, but not “underhanded” as relates to the public… certainly was underhanded as to the employees involved, but goes more to employee “trust” of CM (not the current), and CC, than to “public trust”, as many of the public in Davis, doesn’t give a proverbial ‘”rat’s ass” as to City employees…

          Felt a need to clarify…

        9. Matt Williams

          Ron, hpierce has done a good job of summarizing the series of events/decisions that contributed to the current situation.  I would add one thing to the assessment, “Not “shenanigans”, as it was open, public, and a choice of where to spend General Fund $”   Municipalities like the City of Davis keep track of their assets, liabilities, revenues and expenditures using Fund Accounting, which is a very arcane.  When you look up “arcane” in the dictionary it says “known or understood by very few; mysterious; secret; obscure; esoteric”  For me personally, what that means is that even though the actions were open and public, what the actions meant, both in the short run and the long run was not understood by the citizenry.  The term “hiding in plain sight” applies.

          With that said, no amount of “assigning blame” will change the fundamental realities we are facing.  We can not turn back the hands of time.  We can’t retroactively “listen” to the good advice that the Public Works professionals gave over and over.  What we can do is be honest about our current (and future) situation and make some hard choices about what we want our community to be in 2030-2040-2050.

        10. Matt Williams

          Ron said . . . “On a related note, I am also of the opinion that the condition of the roads is NOT dire, at this point.”

          Ron, at the heart of your statement above is the same logic that caused the past City Councils to hear and discard the advice of their Public Works professionals.  As they say, a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.

          To help you get an appreciation of both the condition of our roads, and how that condition relates to broad industry knowledge I am providing a series of linked reports that Staff has provided to both Council and Commissions alike.

          September 5, 2015 Pavement Condition Index (PCI) by Street http://cityofdavis.org/home/showdocument?id=5223

          February 2013 Pavement Management Program presentation by staff to Council http://cityofdavis.org/home/showdocument?id=1003

          May 2013 Pavement Management Program update presentation by staff to Council http://cityofdavis.org/home/showdocument?id=1011

          December 2013 Pavement Management Program update presentation by staff to Council  http://cityofdavis.org/home/showdocument?id=1001

          Since you brought up the “compared to other communities” issue. As shown in the graphic below, the 2014 California statewide average PCI is 66. In 2014 the Davis average PCI was 58. Thanks to the recent work done that average has risen to 63 . . . still below the statewide average. The question those statistical averages raises is “Do the citizens of Davis believe that Davis should have a goal of being a below average California city?”

          EDIT: the comprehensive Pavement Management webpage on the City website is http://cityofdavis.org/city-hall/public-works/transportation/pavement-management

          http://www.davisvanguard.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/08-Pavement-Management-PCI-for-Other-Cities.jpg

        11. Ron

          Thanks, hpierce and Matt:

          I kind of figured that the decisions weren’t “hidden”, so my choice of words probably wasn’t accurate (at least regarding Davis taxpayers).  (I kind of like the word “shenanigan”, and sometimes look for opportunities to use it!)

          I guess the bottom line is that funds that were intended for road maintenance were shifted to some degree toward other uses (at various levels, within the government).  And presumably, this has occurred throughout California.  (As a side note, cities throughout California are also dealing with unfunded retirement/benefits.)

          Not sure if that’s the most accurate way to sum it up.

          1. David Greenwald

            For years, the city of Davis relied on state and federal money for roads. When that money dried up, the city was slow to shift general fund money to road repair. When the city was operating with declining revenues, it relied on deferring maintenance as part of the means to keep a balanced budget.

            The danger of the roads right now is not necessarily that they are in horrific condition – certainly driving on the roads, they are not good – it is the “S” curve increase in costs as conditions worsen.

        12. Biddlin

          “It seems that Davis is not alone, regarding this problem.  (I was wondering why roads in general – in many communities – seem worse overall, these days.)”

          Here, with  20+ years in public works, I have some expertise. The practice of “slurry sealing.” to put a thin Band-aid on roadways along with the seemingly endless cutting, trenching, resealing, only to have the next utility come along and do it again, as well as natural geological and seismic activity has left a lot of Western US municipalities with crappy roads and made lots of contractors rich, in the bargain. A an old fart, I’m inclined to believe doing it right the first time, (and getting a good look at what you’re building upon) is almost always cheaper and safer. As a public employee for four different agencies  over the course of almost 30 years, I can tell you politicians see it differently.

          BTW, my Town Car hit a crater a couple of nights back, near the DMV on Pole Line, lol.

        13. hpierce

          Biddlin… slurry seals have their place… for oxidized pavements likely to start cracking, which leads to water intrusion into the base/underlying soils, where the real deterioration begins.  The newer “rubberized” seals can greatly extend pavement life by keeping the water out, but you are correct that this is not a structural solution, and the main thing is to make sure the original structural section is appropriate, given expected traffic loadings, design life, and base soil strength.

          For Tia, a normal street (residential) has a TI (Traffic Index, a measure of traffic loading, usually based on a 20 year design life (assuming no maintenance)) is 4.0… for a bus route, independent of other traffic load measures has a minimum TI of 6.0… think Richter scale… 6.0 ~ 100 times the loading of 4.0.

          Current Davis design standards, for new street construction are based on a 40 year design life.  You can thank the City professional staff for that decision, based in large part to the realization that the City would continue to underfund street maintenance… that call was made about 6 years ago.

          Thank you, Biddlin for bringing some knowledge, and background, to the discussion.  Like you,I’m a “newbie” having only worked in the field for ~ 40 years… but I guess those trained in medicine or liberal arts, know much more than we, and we should bow to their expertise, opinions, and judgements.

           

  7. Misanthrop

    On all those little meteorites in the streets. If we call them meteorites we never need to fix the streets. I don’t know where Ron lives but over here in West Davis the streets are crumbling before my very eyes.

      1. dlemongello

        Colusa is the worst I’ve seen, just happened to be over there the other day and it stood out, I rarely go there. That is a street that justifies having work done on it.  It is sort of tucked away and probably gets very little traffic, but still.

  8. Tia Will

    An alternative view of roads spending.

    What I would like to see would be a comparison of how we might benefit from spending the same amount of money that we need to spend on road repairs on public transportation and/or the active promotion and facilitation of walking and biking. Our roads are designed for the benefit of those  ( including myself) who choose to use the most expensive and least healthful means of transportation namely the private automobile. So if we are truly looking to improving our future perhaps we might consider making investments in our future health as well as just our future convenience.

    1. hpierce

      And Tia, if we cut down on road maintenance, upon what surface would bicycles, buses, etc. travel upon?

      By the way, buses are particularly destructive to AC pavement… has to do with their suspension, weight, frequent stopping/starting… note the squiggly crosswalk lines at intersections that buses frequent… ‘shoving’ of the pavement.  Buses cause more damage than semi-trucks!

      As for motor vehicles, you also have UPS/FedEX trucks, moving vans, etc., etc.

    2. Matt Williams

      Tia, here is some information that may be a helpful first step in your comparison.  The graphic below breaks down the PCI condition of our streets into three categories . . . Arterial (our main community through streets), Collector (the secondary streets that funnel the vehicles from their neighborhood points of origin to the Arterials), and Residential Streets.  As you can see from the pie chart on the right side of the graphic, over half of our streets are Residential and the PCI condition of those streets is the poorest.

      http://www.davisvanguard.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/08-Pavement-Management-PCI-for-Streets.jpg

      Arterials, which is where the bulk of the Public Transportation activity happens only represent 25% of our streets and the PCI condition of the arterials is the best.  Arterials do get the heaviest traffic, so their repair events happen more frequently than other streets, so approximately one third of the street repair dollars are spent there.

      I am going to interpret your idea of “spending the same amount of money that we need to spend on road repairs on public transportation” as meaning a 50% redeployment of the Arterials dollars to Public Transportation, which means an overall redeployment of one sixth of the roads budget from Arterials. Collectors would add a bit more, bringing the total “savings” (redeployable to Public Transportation) to about one quarter of the budget.

      Residential streets pose more of a challenge because most of them are geographically remote enough from the desired destination.  What would be your Public Transportation approach for Davis’ residential streets

      Regarding bicycling, as you can see in the graphic below, the condition of our existing bike paths is considerably worse than the condition of our streets.  If we are going to pursue your strategy and increase the use of bicycles for primary local transportation, our attention to our bike paths will need to increase rather than be cut back.

      http://www.davisvanguard.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/08-Pavement-Management-PCI-for-Bike-Paths.jpg

      1. Tia Will

        Matt

        Thanks for the pie charts. Always nice to have basic factual information to work with. With my post, I am looking more at the long term picture. I am aware that the way we have currently configured out society around the private automobile will not change overnight, and that maintenance will have to be performed on our current infrastructure.

        What I would like people to at least consider is that we are not obliged to keep buying into and creating more of the same problems as “the way things are done”.What we have now is reflective of the choices of the past. It does not have to be our future. One of the main reasons that I ended up in favor of Nishi was its “walkability index” of 94. I saw this as a potential model for more housing not located on the periphery but within walking or biking distance of almost all necessities and amenities.

        I would like to see us move slowly in a healthier, less wasteful and less environmentally damaging direction. So to answer a few of the questions addressed to me :

        1. Yes, I realize that trucks including delivery trucks take a higher toll on roads. In the short term streets will have to be maintained at a passable level. However, with the possible exception of major arterials, I do not see a need for over zealous maintenance.

        2. With regard to travel by bicycle and the question of what I expect them to travel on, my answer would be very well maintained bike paths. We already have a good start in Davis and could build on that continuously to make biking safer.

        3. Again, my response to the issue about not enough roads is that this is not the problem. The problem is too many cars.

        4. As for maintenance, I also would strongly recommend user fees just as someone recommended for the pools, I would recommend user fees for parking and user fees for automobiles on our streets with exceptions made for those of limited mobility. It would seem that nothing speaks like money for much of our population. Make it more expensive to use our roads, and there will be less demand. For lower income folks, it would need to be offset by improvements in low cost public transportation, ride sharing and the like.

        It also would likely lead to more efficient planning. A recent example. My partner did the grocery shopping for the week by car, but forgot one item I had wanted. He was going to go back for it by car when I stopped him. We also had the choices of walking for it, or going without. I chose the latter. Hopping in the car to “just run out for one item” has become such a part of our lives that I doubt most of us even consider the broader costs of our lack of thoughtfulness.

        5. I suspect that in the not so distant future we will be seeing at least some deliveries done by drone which has the potential for limiting the need for UPS type deliveries by truck. I just find that our conversations about the “dire” state of our streets are mired in habit, “convenience” and a lack of appreciation of the harm that we do to ourselves, our community and our environment by our stubborn clinging to the private automobile as our principle means of transportation.

         

  9. Ron

    David Greenwald:  “For years, the city of Davis relied on state and federal money for roads. When that money dried up, . . .”

    Did the money “dry up”, or was it shifted somewhere else (as outlined by hpierce – pasted below)?  And, since this is a state-wide problem, are local communities pressuring the state to allocate funds as originally intended?  (My guess is “no”, or at least not effectively.) Unfortunately, I suspect that some will use this issue as an excuse to “push” unwanted developments as a “solution” (regardless of whether or not these developments would provide a significant net benefit.)

    From hpierce:  “Gas Tax got diverted to the State (used to go towards road maintenance and street lighting)… Federal and State road funds got diverted to the State, who let SACOG and State entities decide where to spend it, primarily on big projects.”

     

  10. nameless

    Ron: “Don:  My own experiences driving on Davis roads, comparing them with other communities, and comments from others on this same page.  It doesn’t stand out as (another) “crisis”, from my experience…

    It seems that Davis is not alone, regarding this problem.  (I was wondering why roads in general – in many communities – seem worse overall, these days.)”

     
    Which is it, you believe the roads are not in crisis or are?  Go towards the Post Office on the western side of the intersection on Russell going west to east.  Tell me that section of road isn’t terrible.  Fissures are opening up, which are a serious degradation of the roads.   The more the roads are allowed to degrade, the exponentially greater the cost to fix them.  Or is it that the state of the roads is an inconvenient truth for you when it comes to the issue of growth in economic development? By the way, I believe our city is rated to have the worst roads in the county (someone correct me if I am wrong).

        1. hpierce

          Meant as a clarification… many in town would have the same confusion of names… did not mean it as a “correction”… that would have different “nuances/tones”

      1. hpierce

        History note… Russell and Fifth didn’t always intersect… there is a “right turn lane” at DJUSD Admin offices… it was the old terminus of Fifth…

        To go onto Russell (old US 40/Lincoln Hwy), you would have had to turn left on B, travel a short distance, then turn right onto Russell…

        The curve connecting the two @ B was built in the 60’s as I recall…

        1. Don Shor

          I’m pretty sure that Russell was in the county and Fifth was in the city, once upon a time, since when College Park was built it wasn’t in the city limits.

        2. hpierce

          Don… pretty sure College Park and similar areas were annexed between 1945 to 1950…

          And, when College Park was built, Russell wasn’t “Russell”… County Road 32, US 40, Lincoln Highway were the names…

    1. nameless

      Ron: “Unfortunately, I suspect that some will use this issue [need for road repairs] as an excuse to “push” unwanted developments as a “solution” (regardless of whether or not these developments would provide a significant net benefit.)” 

      I repeat: “Or is it that the state of the roads is an inconvenient truth for you when it comes to the issue of growth in economic development?”

       

      1. Ron

        nameless:

        Again, see my responses (already posted on this page).  Probably a good idea to examine how the problems occurred (and whether or not the root cause can be fixed), before rushing into unwise “solutions”.  Again, it seems to be a statewide (not just Davis) concern.  (In that way, it seems to be similar to “unfunded” retirement/benefits.) I agree with your other statement that (local) road funds should not be spent on other purposes. (However, I assume that the recession may have been a factor, as well.)

        Regarding “economic development” – it seems that there are some opportunities.  However, I’m concerned that you and others may try (yet again) to push for unwise peripheral development as a “solution”, regardless of the “net benefit”.  Given your passion on the subject, I’m expecting you to help “lead the charge”.  (As I mentioned, it seems that the “pro-development” types are the ones who are “most concerned” about the condition of the roads. In other words, the legitimate concerns appear to be turning into a political “tool”, for those who keep pushing unwanted development, especially on the periphery.)

        1. nameless

          There is no question my support of well planned economic development was as a result of the tax revenue it could generate to repair the city’s roads.  Why is that a problem for you?  Again, you seem to indicate you don’t believe the roads are that bad and that somehow I am using the city’s need for road repairs as AN EXCUSE to push for economic development.  That is SO WRONG ON SO MANY LEVELS!  I DO NOT CLOAK MY PUBLIC POLICY PREFERENCES WITH HIDDEN AGENDAS.  WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET.  I have always been very clear that I supported well planned innovation parks because they have the potential to generate much needed tax revenue to fix the city’s rapidly deteriorating infrastructure.  I believe the Davis Public Works Dept. about the poor state of the city’s roads even if you don’t, altho I have no idea on what basis you derive your opinion in the face of stark reality.  I can only conclude that your rosier view of the state of the city’s roads is driven by your no growth bias.  Think about it, and try to be a bit more objective, because the reality is the current state of the roads is going to require much higher taxes.  If citizens balk at not approving higher taxes, the state of the roads will continue to deteriorate – exponentially.  THAT IS REALITY.

    2. Ron

      nameless:

      I understand the confusion.  I was stating that Davis roads don’t seem extremely bad from my own experiences, and that roads in other communities seem about the same.  Overall, all roads throughout California “seem” somewhat worse to me, than when I was younger.  (A subjective experience, based on memory as well.) 

      But, I acknowledge that it is important to properly maintain roads.

      I strongly suspect that some pro-development types will try to use this issue as a “justification” to push unwanted development, regardless of whether or not it would actually “solve” the concern.  (It’s interesting that the “pro-development” types are the ones who seem most concerned, regarding this issue.)

      (Also, please see my post above, which is partially repeated below.)

      Did the (gas tax, state, and federal) money intended for road maintenance “dry up”, or was it shifted somewhere else (e.g., as outlined by hpierce)?  And, since this is a state-wide problem, are local communities pressuring the state to allocate funds as originally intended?  (My guess is “no”, or at least not effectively.)

      1. nameless

        Ron: “I strongly suspect that some pro-development types will try to use this issue as a “justification” to push unwanted development, regardless of whether or not it would actually “solve” the concern.”

        Since you are so firmly in the camp of no economic development which you have arbitrarily decided cannot solve the problem of road repairs (I have no idea on what basis this opinion rests on), how do you propose funding road repairs?  What is your solution?

        1. nameless

          I assume from your nonresponse to my question you have no idea how the city is going to pay for road repairs?  I am not trying to put words in your mouth.  I am trying to figure out what you think is a solution.  I have heard some no growthers actually state they have no idea but expect the City Council to come up with something. Are you in that camp?

        2. Ron

          nameless:

          I thought I clarified this in other posts.  In any case, I’d first suggest fully exploring the reasons that the city is (now) “coming up short”.  (I’m really just learning about this issue, now.)  It appears that there is an ongoing diversion of gas tax, federal, state, and local taxes that were previously earmarked for road maintenance.  If so, then that’s the underlying “cause”.  (Not necessarily lack of economic development.)

          If that’s the primary cause, I’d examine ways to rectify it.  Where are the diverted funds now, and is it possible to ensure that they are used as intended, going forward?  For example, have cities throughout California (jointly) raised concerns with the State?  These are some of the questions I’d ask, before I’d look to “solve” the problem on a city-by-city basis.

          If this situation is permanent (and largely beyond any particular city’s influence), I’d look at what other “slow-growth” cities are doing, to address the shortcoming.  (For example, what are cities in Marin county doing about it?)

          If the answer is that cities now have to “solve” this problem on their own (individually), then I’d look for ways to do this, via taxes and/or economic development (possibly including a commercial-only development, beyond our city’s boundaries).  But, there’s a lot of assumptions built into that response that I’m not sure are true, yet.

          I kind of (generally) like Tia’s suggestion, to ensure that the costs of road maintenance are more directly paid by drivers.  (That seems to be the “gist” of it.)  However, I think that Tia’s response discounts the probability that cars will probably become less harmful to the environment, in the future (e.g., more electric cars, etc.). (Therefore, there may be less reason to “discourage” auto usage via higher fees, in the future.)

          The absolute last thing I’d do is suggest a peripheral development (with housing), which likely wouldn’t “solve” the problem (due to permanent/increasing costs associated with housing, more impacts on the same roads that we’re trying to maintain, etc.).  (Is that your “first” suggestion?)

           

           

  11. nameless

    hpierce: “Not “shenanigans”, as it was open, public, and a choice of where to spend GF $.  An unwise choice, in my opinion, but not “underhanded” as relates to the public… certainly was underhanded as to the employees involved, but goes more to employee “trust” of CM (not the current), and CC, than to “public trust”, as many of the public in Davis, doesn’t give a proverbial ‘”rat’s ass” as to City employees…

    I believe there were some “shenanigans” when the CM okayed putting road repairs and other inconvenient truths in an “unmet need” category and then the declared the budget “balanced”.  Talk about voodoo economics and not being truthful with the public!

    1. hpierce

      Have you considered that the CM was “following orders” from a majority of the CC, who wanted to avoid “the inconvenient truth(s)”?

      Remember, the CM ‘needs to count to three’ at any given CC meeting…

      1. nameless

        Either way, it certainly clouded the public process.  Altho I am not willing to let the CM off the hook as much as apparently you are.  Let me ask you this?  Who came up with the accounting trick of “unmet needs”?  Paul Navazio peddled it and I actually called him on it at a public meeting put on by the Vanguard.  Navazio looked very irritated. My guess is he was taking orders from the CM.

        1. hpierce

          Perhaps it was ‘parsed’, as ‘unmet NEEDS’, to allow the CC a “safe place to land”… note that it was identified as NEEDS, and unmet. The NEEDS were, indeed identified… the fact that the budget did not meet them was identified… if nothing had been said, you might have a point, but it was clearly identified, as I read “unmet needs”, that there may indeed be an iceberg out there that could sink a ship…

          The CC deliberately chose to not deal with the “unmet needs” which were identified… I suspect (but do not know) that the Mayor and probably most if not all of the CC actually knew the magnitude and nature of those…

        2. nameless

          To hpierce: The only thing the public heard was “balanced budget” – the general public doesn’t parse out “unmet needs category” and truly understand its meaning.  This IMO was a clear attempt to mislead handed to the then CC by the CM.  A CM with any integrity should have never allowed it.

  12. Tia Will

    hpierce

    I guess those trained in medicine or liberal arts, know much more than we, and we should bow to their expertise, opinions, and judgements.”

    Only in the areas in which our expertise should be respected as much as yours is in your areas. So perhaps you will bear your own comment in mind the next time that I advocate for a women’s or children’s or public health measure ?

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