A Smart and Strategic Approach to Meeting Our Sports Field Needs

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Sports Complex Sites

By City of Davis Sports Complex Task Force

On Tuesday, July 19, the Davis City Council will review the final report of the Sports Complex Task Force. Below is the summary of that report. The full document can be found on the City of Davis web site as part of the agenda for the July 19 council meeting.

The Sports Complex Task Force was established at the direction of the City Council to assess the needs of the estimated 6,000 children and adults actively participating in sports teams in the City of Davis. The Task Force met from February through July 2016. During that time we reached out to every formal and informal sport team organization in the city, administered a detailed survey to better understand what sports teams existed in the city and where they practiced and played, and heard testimony from regional and local experts in the subject.

Davis Needs New and Improved Sports Facilities. Our work identified significant deficiencies in the facilities needed for games, tournaments, and practices. Other specific facilities requirements, such as a need for lighted fields, were also identified for a wide variety of sports organizations. Some teams must even travel outside of the city for practices and games because of the lack of facilities for them here. As a community, we have simply outgrown the number and type of sports fields that were largely built decades ago. More growth in the number of city residents and sports participants is on the way without plans in place to meet our future needs. Our survey showed hundreds of additional participants would be added in the near term if the fields needed were available.

While 6,000 is our estimate of the current number of participants, the vast majority of Davis’ young people – plus a fair share of adults living in the city today – have played on organized sports teams on Davis fields at some point in their lifetime. Clearly, however, the main losers in this situation are our children and youth – who comprise 86 percent of the current participants of the sports teams that responded to our survey.

As a result, Davis children and adults are missing out on opportunities to participate on sports teams that could help make us a healthier community and provide a legacy of good sportsmanship that could benefit our community as a whole. The new facilities could also enable local sports organizations to host regional tournaments that would bring in additional business for local hotels, restaurants, and other businesses. We are now often missing out on such opportunities because our fields are inadequate or too fragmented to attract such events.

Our Basic Strategy. We have concluded that these problems should be addressed through two distinct types of facility improvements:

  1. Developing a sports complex in a location that would not impact existing city neighborhoods with lights and traffic and parking, but that could be easily connected to existing city infrastructure.
  1. Reconfiguring and/or improving maintenance of a select number of existing fields to facilitate flexibility in their use with the goal of supporting a wide range of underserved and growing sports.

Developing a Sport Complex. A new sports complex that meets our community’s sports needs would require at least 50 acres, but a site of 125 acres or more would be desirable to address our long-term needs.

It will be important that a new sports complex have lighting for fields, storage and meeting space that could be shared by users, good transportation access and sufficient parking, and a design conducive to hosting regional tournaments for multiple sports. Safe access to the fields by bicycle should also be sought. Any facility should be designed to be efficient in the use of water and energy, minimize greenhouse gas emissions, and be sensitive to any surrounding agricultural operations, open space, and wildlife habitat. Collaboration with county officials would be necessary for any site outside of the city limits.

While the Task Force did not identify a preferred site for a new sports complex, we have identified several sites, including some not previously discussed in prior city studies, which meet our criteria. These locations, shown from west to east on the map, are (A) south of the Davis Municipal Golf Course, (B) outside the Mace-Covell Curve, and  (C) south of Davis Legacy fields.

Reconfiguring and Improving Existing Fields. Local basketball and other sports groups likewise demonstrated to us their ability and serious interest in undertaking efforts to build the indoor sports facilities they need that could be shared with volleyball, gymnastics, and other city programs. The needs of these various groups might be better met with new facilities sited in a more central city location rather than in an outlying sports complex — although the latter approach is possible and could be considered if they wished to participate in the development of an outlying new sports complex.

Other sports groups clearly do not need a new sports complex. We have identified improvements to existing infrastructure, primarily in the form of repair and improved maintenance, to address the needs of these sports groups. Also, a new all-weather lighted artificial field (ideally several) was identified as a critical need in the survey. This could be built as a separate project that could also benefit other sports groups.

A Community-Based Initiative to Build a New Sports Complex.  We suggest the first step toward a new sports complex be initiated by interested sports groups. They could establish a non-profit foundation dedicated to obtaining the private-sector funding and charitable contributions, and possibly also the land, to build and subsequently operate such a sports complex. We believe that such a community-based initiative is realistic and is likely, under the current circumstances, to achieve faster and better results than the public sector approach taken in some other communities we have examined.

We are lucky in the City of Davis to have two good examples of how community-based initiatives have led to splendid sports facilities that are great assets to Davis. The Blue and White Foundation undertook the fund-raising drive that provided a share of the funding needed to modernize Ron and Mary Brown Stadium at Davis Senior High School – a stellar and intensively used facility for football, track and field, lacrosse, and other high school sports programs.  Meanwhile, Davis Legacy has more than doubled its size to 16 high-quality soccer fields on donated land east of Davis at a fraction of the usual field construction costs without any public funding.

We are convinced that this innovative model could work again to provide Davis with the sports complex its youth and adult sports teams need. We believe that a well-organized and broad-based effort that highlighted the positive benefits of sports team participation for Davis children would prove successful. The baseball, softball, and soccer organizations likely to be at the core of such an effort, in part because of their need for specialized field space, have a sizable number of participating families and a longstanding practice of opening participation to all children regardless of skill level. In our survey, and public testimony, they demonstrated their commitment and capacity to undertake the fundraising and volunteer efforts necessary for such an effort to succeed.

The City of Davis would retain the responsibility for providing parks and recreation services for its citizens. While a community-based effort to remedy our deficiencies in sports fields is a promising new approach, it is important to also recognize that the city has an ongoing responsibility for providing park and recreation services that meet the needs of its citizenry.

Accordingly, the organization of the foundation and a sound business plan for its operation could unfold as the City of Davis played a limited but supportive role in helping it to build a new sports complex.  For example, the city could conduct a formal process to invite offers from potential donors of sites for such a facility, as well as to help determine the best site that meets the needs of both sports teams and the community as a whole. A future city investment in the project is also possible.

Next Steps. We recommend that the City Council request that the Recreation and Parks Commission conduct a public hearing on this Task Force report and, if the City Council subsequently concurs with our findings and recommendations, incorporate our proposals into the city goals that will be formally adopted for the 2016-18 cycle.

We believe this is a smart and strategic approach that could benefit the large numbers of children and adults participating in local sports teams, provide practical field expansion solutions for a city government mindful of its fiscal problems, and improve the overall quality of life for city residents.

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About The Author

Dan Carson worked for 17 years in the Legislative Analyst’s Office, a nonpartisan fiscal and policy adviser to the California Legislature, retiring in 2012 as deputy legislative analyst, and serves as a member of the city’s Finance and Budget Commission. This commentary reflects his views only and does not represent the position of the commission on this issue.

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70 thoughts on “A Smart and Strategic Approach to Meeting Our Sports Field Needs”

    1. quielo

      Maybe an ignorant question but if this went through would some of the current sports infrastructure be re-purposed? For example the little league complex would be redundant and could be a volleyball complex as an example.

      1. Matt Williams

        quielo, wouldn’t re-purposing it as infill multi-family housing be more appropriate? Wouldn’t volleyball be part of the proposed 125 acre sports complex?

        1. Carson

          I suppose they could make it into a hula hoop stadium for all I know….  Doubtful that the people living on B there would allow multi family redevelopment….   People seem to jump to conclusions freak out and say no to things before thinking.

  1. Dan Carson Post author

    Just one clarification: what’s published here today is not my personal statement but the actual language from the summary of the Task Force report.   While I support that final report it should not be appearing under my byline and it was not submitted in that fashion. The full Task Force membership also includes Kelly McCrory, Kevin Waterson, Fred Main, Laura Hall, Steve Hampton, Carson Wilcox, Bill Donaldson, Bruce Gallaudet, Will Arnold, Jason Bone, Alan Humason, Josh Lutzker, and Jeff Lorenson. I thank my colleagues for their work on the Task Force and thank the Vanguard for sharing the summary of their work with its readers.

  2. Tia Will

    quielo

    There is a large flat rarely used field there already and parking.”

    Is it the case that this field is now rarely used ?  When I lived in North Star until about 5 years ago, it was used every evening and weekend for soccer practice and games respectively.

    1. hpierce

      Northstar Park fields… a soccer referee’s ‘nightmare’… lousy soils, and was graded such (because of that), so that the center of the field was nearly as hard as the proverbial ‘hinges of hell’, the sidelines were “mushy”… knew a lot of ref’s who had ‘blown out’ their knees there… I ran X-country, so knew how to adjust stride, etc. to compensate… so I escaped, intact…

      By contrast, the fields known as the “legacy site” have great soils, and probably the best in the area for adult refs to “work”…

      Location is NOT the only reason to choose a site…

  3. Don Shor

    I’d guess the residents of Binning Tract and North Davis Meadows will have opinions about site A. Residents of far East Davis will probably be concerned about traffic from site B. Site C likely has the fewest near-neighbor issues.

    The funding of this and any city obligations for initial or ongoing costs are not clear from this article.

  4. Jim Frame

    What happened to Howatt Ranch?  I never thought it was a good place for a sports complex, but the city certainly spent a lot of time planning along those lines.

    Is it finally time to put Howatt Ranch on the market, either in fee or as mitigation land?

    1. hpierce

      Well, it could be sold in fee, with City retaining easements for flooding (the reason the land was acquired), and putting ag use covenants and restrictions on it… access to the site is the main problem… because of location, not bike/ped readily accessible, but I’d still not want to reject it from consideration…

  5. Don Shor

     

    “Developing a sports complex in a location that would not impact existing city neighborhoods with lights and traffic and parking, but that could be easily connected to existing city infrastructure.”

    So, instead, impact existing rural neighborhoods.

    I urge that sites A and B just be removed from consideration now, to save a lot of hassle.

    These facilities create very large amounts of traffic and noise, as well as night lighting. They aren’t something to impose on people who live out in the country, nor are they appropriate next to edge-of-city neighborhoods. As a rural resident, it always gripes me when people want to put annoying land uses near us. The only site that won’t make serious issues for nearby neighbors is the south Davis site. It also happens to have the best soil for this purpose, and is already in use.

    I drive by that site frequently on Sunday mornings. There are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of cars lined along the road at the field there. That is not something to foist on the residents of Binning Tract or North Davis Meadows, nor would it be well received by those who live on Mace Curve.

     

    1. Mark West

      “These facilities create very large amounts of traffic and noise, as well as night lighting. They aren’t something to impose on people who live out in the country, nor are they appropriate next to edge-of-city neighborhoods.”

      If not there, where? Where do you see a 125-acre site that is not located either in the country or next to an edge-of-city neighborhood?

      “There are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of cars lined along the road at the field there. That is not something to foist on the residents of Binning Tract or North Davis Meadows, nor would it be well received by those who live on Mace Curve.”

      The reason the cars are parked on the road is because they have failed to build enough off-road parking into the complex design. Parking was a major component of the space requirement for the previous sports parks proposed by the City, and will be with this one as well. Visiting teams coming to play at tournaments at the site won’t be riding their bikes to the fields, regardless of where they are built, so parking has to be included.

       

       

    2. Matt Williams

      I agree with Don and BP, both site A and site B have fatal flaws.  One need go no further than the organized Binning Tract resident opposition to the Davis Innovation Center to see how opposition to site A would get into action.  The argument would quickly come to the fore that a sports park with banks of nighttime lighting on tall poles would be significantly more intrusive on Binning Tract than the Davis Innovation Center would have been.  The residents of North Davis Meadows would probably join in as well. Site B has a number of fatal flaws, but the most obvious is that it is only 25 acres, not 125 acres.

      Site C not only does not have any readily apparent fatal flaws, it also has a significant already-existent presence.  Public transportation to the site would serve both the private and public facilities, making higher levels of convenient participation more likely.  Further, the land surrounding the existent site is owned by Angelo Tsakopoulos, who donated some or all of the land to AYSO for the recent expansion(s) of their existent facility there.

      1. Mark West

        “One need go no further than the organized Binning Tract resident opposition to the Davis Innovation Center to see how opposition to site A would get into action.”

        The only ‘fatal flaw’ was the decision to accede to the demands of the selfish Binning Tract residents. Are we to leave that property vacant in perpetuity simply because of their demands? How is that an example of managing City assets for the benefit of all the City’s residents?

        1. hpierce

          AMEN!

          So much for “fact-based”/rational decision making!

          If the “beginning point” is ‘can we sell this politically? Do we want to avoid any dissension’, before any rational analysis, we are in a serious world of hurt.

          1. Don Shor

            I am saying that I think it would be a waste of staff and council time to move forward on consideration of sites that are likely to have significant near-neighbor opposition. That’s part of the rational analysis. Did the commission convene with residents of the nearby neighborhoods to get input?
            When urban dwellers look at maps of the country and see blank places to put their high-traffic uses, so as to not disturb their own neighbors, I consider that self-centered and inconsiderate.

        2. Don Shor

          I think a revised project could have met the concerns of the Binning Tract residents. The developers apparently didn’t even try. Whether a revised project could pass a Measure R vote, hard to say. At this point I kind of doubt it. I think the only way that site will get developed now is if it gets annexed first.

        3. Matt Williams

          Mark West said . . . “How is that an example of managing City assets for the benefit of all the City’s residents?”

          I can think of a number of reasons.  The first is that while the site A land is owned by the City it isn’t under City jurisdiction.  It is under County jurisdiction.  The second is that a decision not to accede has costs, perhaps legal costs.  The third is that site A isn’t the only alternative on the table.  Site C is simply a better site with better soil, better access and no neighbors to complain about nighttime lighting.

          So, I ask you.  What incremental good does willfully picking a fight with the Binning Tract neighbors accomplish?

        4. Mark West

           Matt:  “I can think of a number of reasons.  The first is that while the site A land is owned by the City it isn’t under City jurisdiction.  It is under County jurisdiction.”

          Every site that is available to expand the City’s economic vitality is currently under County jurisdiction. Are you proposing following this same logic when addressing economic issues as well?

          “The second is that a decision not to accede has costs, perhaps legal costs.”

          Litigation has become a cost of doing business in the City. No matter what is decided, there is a potential for litigation costs.  Are you proposing that we stop acting out of fear of litigation?

           “The third is that site A isn’t the only alternative on the table.  Site C is simply a better site with better soil, better access and no neighbors to complain about nighttime lighting.”

          Is this conclusion based on an informed and educated analysis of the options, or something you pulled out of your hat?  Are you an expert in athletic field development? Do you know what types of soils are best for the different types of fields? Have you surveyed the residents about lighting?

          So, I ask .  What incremental good does willfully picking a fight with the Binning Tract neighbors accomplish?

          Who is picking a fight?  It was the residents of Binning who picked a fight against the Innovation park before the project was fully analyzed. So your solution is to never consider another use for the site because they acted like a bully the last time? Do you propose that the residents of Binning Tract should have a de facto veto over City policy and the disposition of City assets?

           

          1. Don Shor

            Do you know what types of soils are best for the different types of fields?

            Soils that drain faster are less susceptible to compaction, less susceptible to flooding, less likely to have down time due to rainy weather. Of the three sites, the south Davis location has the better-draining soil. My recollection is that heavier soils are also more expensive to develop into play fields due to the extra costs for drainage systems, and sometimes for special grading and other soil prep needed.

            A good starting point would be to look at the special drainage and septic plans that were needed for North Davis Meadows. I do know that residents of Binning Tract and ND Meadows have very heavy soil (verifiable on the LAWR soil map) and many have drainage issues, and that there have been flooding problems at Binning Tract in years past. Flooding and drainage at the south Davis site wouldn’t impinge on any residential areas; water would simply drain off as it is supposed to do, to the southeast.

            Have you surveyed the residents about lighting?

            I assume the committee did that.

        5. Matt Williams

          Mark West said . . . “Every site that is available to expand the City’s economic vitality is currently under County jurisdiction. Are you proposing following this same logic when addressing economic issues as well?”

          No, there is no connection.  You started with a discussion of City assets, I commented about the status of those City assets.

          Mark West said . . . “Litigation has become a cost of doing business in the City. No matter what is decided, there is a potential for litigation costs.  Are you proposing that we stop acting out of fear of litigation?”

          No, your question is based on a logical fallacy.  First, your question assumes that each site is evaluated in a vacuum.  Second, it doesn’t look at the relative litigation potential of the three sites.  Site C clearly has significantly (dare I say massively) lower litigation risk than Sites A and B.

          Mark West said . . . “Is this conclusion based on an informed and educated analysis of the options, or something you pulled out of your hat?  Are you an expert in athletic field development? Do you know what types of soils are best for the different types of fields? Have you surveyed the residents about lighting?”

          Yes, it is based on an informed and educated analysis.  As part of the extensive research I did regarding the Wastewater treatment Plant Upgrade alternatives, the issue of sports field irrigation with recycled water was a significant component of one of the alternatives.  I met with Ann Brunette more than once to review her work on sports park alternatives and she had me meet with Alex Park, Cameron Tattum and Tony Camarena, who have extensive knowledge and experience in athletic field development, maintenance and operations.

          Regarding lighting, Site C has no adjacent residents.  The closest residents are just under a mile away at Tremont Green at the corner of Dresbach Way and Marden Street.  In a 360 circle around site C there are no residents in over 80% of the circle, with the only residences in an arc between 212 degrees (the southeast corner of El Macero) and 277 degrees (the northeast corner of the Seville at Mace Ranch apartment complex).  By comparison, Site B has residences in 50% of the circle and Site A has residences in more than 50% of the circle.

          Further, regarding night lighting impact, the count of residences within a 2 mile circle of the three sites is even more striking.  Site A has all of North Davis Meadows, all of the Binning Tract, virtually all of west Davis north of Russell, and all of north Davis west of J Street and north of 8th Street.  Site B has all of Wildhorse, all of east Davis east of Poleline and all of south Davis north and east of the Montgomery-Danbury-Drummond intersection.

        6. Carson

          Do we have a # of “neighbors” that have a heckler’s veto on any city project?  is it 10?  20?  30?   we should just clear that up..   The fact that people see this is a fatal flaw” tells you they werent looking at any of the recent proposals seriously if a dozen homeowners whining can kill it.

          Binning tract.  Yes, that would be some major changes, no doubt.  But that land was always slated for a golf course expansion, lighted driving range, more parking, more cars anyway…

        7. Matt Williams

          Carson asks a very good question, and that is one of the things that the community dialogue should uncover.

          Having personally been involved with the radio tower relocation to the landfill, I can say from that experience that having no City of Davis residents living within 2.25 miles of the proposed site did not cause that application to sail through.  City residents concerned about light pollution were vocal, and the less than 20 rural County residents who lived within 2 miles of the site were active opponent.

          That radio tower experience also sheds light on Carson’s statement, “But that land was always slated for a golf course expansion, lighted driving range, more parking, more cars anyway…”  The radio tower site was in the middle of the very active Yolo County Land Fill.  That wasn’t a “being slated for” situation.  It was an “already is” situation.

        8. Mark West

          “radio tower relocation…City residents concerned about light pollution were vocal, and the less than 20 rural County residents who lived within 2 miles of the site were active opponent.”

          Yet another example of allowing the complaints of a few…

          The radio tower was considerably taller than field lights will be. The radio tower’s lights are designed to be seen at a great distance and are lighted at all times.  Field lights will only be on when the fields are in use after dark. Only rarely will a youth sporting event occur late into the evening and never all night. The comparison is simply not valid.

          Do the lights from the High School football stadium get in your eyes at night, Matt? How about the Little League lights or the ones at Playfields? This will only be an issue for those who already are prone to excessive complaining.

           

        9. Mark West

          Don: “Soils that drain faster are less susceptible to compaction, less susceptible to flooding, less likely to have down time due to rainy weather. Of the three sites, the south Davis location has the better-draining soil.”

          A large proportion of any proposed park will include paved parking and other forms of hardscaping. The quality of the soils under those sections are in many ways, not as important. Yes, the soils on the South Davis site are higher quality, but that may not be the ‘deciding characteristic’ when looking at the entire project. That is the value of fully evaluating multiple options, and not simply making knee-jerk assessments based on assumptions.

          1. Don Shor

            A large proportion of any proposed park will include paved parking and other forms of hardscaping. The quality of the soils under those sections are in many ways, not as important.

            Duh.

            Yes, the soils on the South Davis site are higher quality,

            Yes. The soil there drains faster and is less prone to compaction on the part where people would be playing.

            but that may not be the ‘deciding characteristic’ when looking at the entire project.

            It was the one I was addressing in response to your specific question to Matt:
            “Do you know what types of soils are best for the different types of fields?”

            That is the value of fully evaluating multiple options, and not simply making knee-jerk assessments based on assumptions.

            Yes. I discussed some of those other issues as well. As did Matt. No knee-jerk assessments here. Odd how you always seem to want to throw in the derisive adjectives.

        10. Mark West

           “I discussed some of those other issues as well. As did Matt.”

          It is rather difficult to make a rational assessment of a project when the project has not been fully described, yet both you and Matt made definitive statements about which site would be best based on very superficial analyses. You may well ultimately be correct as to which site is best, but we won’t really know unless we consider all aspects of the project and the proposed sites.

          As you have frequently argued in favor of saving the best land for farming and using the poorer quality lands for development, I find it more than a little surprising that you would be advocating putting this project on the best land available. The legacy soccer complex involves very little hardscaping (resulting in the insufficient parking you indirectly complained about before), with most of the project being open fields of grass.  Most of that project could be easily returned to farming if so desired. Not so with the infrastructure required for softball and baseball fields, let alone the acres of paved parking that will be required for the combined park. Without specific site maps and design criteria, I don’t see how a definitive conclusion at this point could be anything other than ill-informed and reflexive.

          1. Don Shor

            With respect to soil types, flooding, drainage, lighting, and near-neighbor impacts, it is very easy to come to some conclusions that are neither ill-informed nor reflexive. The south Davis site is already being used for sports. I consider it very unlikely that it will be returned to farming. It has the least impact as to lighting and traffic and noise on people living nearby. The conclusions Matt and I drew separately are based on obvious characteristics and don’t require site maps or design criteria.

        11. Mark West

          “The conclusions Matt and I drew separately are based on obvious characteristics and don’t require site maps or design criteria.”

          Yes, you looked at the ‘obvious’ and are disregarding everything else. The problem is that ‘the best’ result usually comes from factors that are considered in that big pool of ‘everything else.’ ‘Obvious’ answers are frequently wrong, and major decisions that are based on ‘obvious’ characteristics are in retrospect frequently viewed as having been poor ones.

        12. Matt Williams

          Mark, after reading all of your comments in this thread, it appears that you believe one (or both) of the other two sites are superior to Site C.

          I would be very interested to hear what those superior characteristics of Site A and Site B are.  That will help me be more informed. Are you willing to share your beliefs about the merits of Site A and Site B relative to Site C?

        13. Mark West

          Matt:  “Mark, after reading all of your comments in this thread, it appears that you believe one (or both) of the other two sites are superior to Site C.”

          If that is what you believe, then you need to work on your reading comprehension skills. I have criticized you and Don for jumping to definitive conclusions about the suitability of the sites before any analyses of the sites have been performed. Your decisions may be well-intentioned, but they are political ones based primarily on your own personal assumptions and biases, not fact-based or rational ones. Given my criticism, why would you think that I had joined you in your approach?

          When I have the data to make an informed decision, I will be happy to share my assessment.

        14. Matt Williams

          Mark, if that truly is your approach, then why did you go the ad hominem route rather than opine about the information and/or opinion that Don and I individually shared about the specific sites?  You chose not to dialogue collaboratively, but rather to criticize confrontationally.

  6. Misanthrop

    Best wishes in getting this done. Leadership is going to be key. James Hammond was a driving force in the much needed redevelopment of the high school football stadium. He also had the advantage of being the leader of the local education community that provided him the authority and gravitas to move the project forward with support from Blue and White and without much push back from the community. Running the usual gauntlet of Davis opposition to everything is always and likely in this case challenging.

    I personally would prefer site B. Seems more centrally located for the community. Site A is way out there and off of a decaying road. Not easy to bike there. All this talk about infill and densification shouldn’t lead to providing recreational space so far on the periphery that people can’t easily get there in a timely fashion except by car. It would be ironic to make Davis so dense that we would need to drive out of town to play sports. Perhaps we need to rethink our entire spatial paradigm.

  7. Dan Carson Post author

    The full report, which can be found on the city web site agenda for Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, provides more detailed discussion of funding and siting issues.  To respond to the specific questions above:

    The main idea is to create a nonprofit community-based foundation that would shoulder the financial and operational burden of building and operating a new sports complex similar to the way Davis Legacy has done.  The report proposes that the city partner with this entity and that the city have a limited but supportive role   The report says it is possible there would be some future city investment in the sports complex  but clearly proposes a community-based effort to try to make the project happen.  The report also urges that the city use available funding to help repair and better maintain existing fields that have fallen into disrepair

    The report mentions Howatt Field as a previously studied site but does not endorse any one site. It tries to expand the site discussion beyond those locations previously examined and argues that a fresh look at potential sites is warranted  We didn’t have the time and resources to pick the single best location

     

     

     

     

    1. Matt Williams

      Pugilist, based on Dan Carson’s article it appears that the direction chosen by the Task Force is a private sector one, with limited non-fiscal City support.

      Accordingly, the organization of the foundation and a sound business plan for its operation could unfold as the City of Davis played a limited but supportive role in helping it to build a new sports complex.  For example, the city could conduct a formal process to invite offers from potential donors of sites for such a facility, as well as to help determine the best site that meets the needs of both sports teams and the community as a whole.

      Dan concludes that paragraph with a statement that would appear to be Dead On Arrival.

      A future city investment in the project is also possible.

      I can see absolutely no way that the citizens of Davis will vote with a two-thirds majority to invest City funds in the project.  Any ballot measure to that effect would be DOA.

      1. The Pugilist

        My objection is not just fiscal and city resources.  It’s philosophical in that when we sports needs money, private money is easy to get.  But basic city functions are on the line and we can’t manage to find money for those.

      2. Dan Carson Post author

        Thanks for your comments, Matt, and I hope you will join in whatever further public hearings occur on this subject.  We are hoping to foster a community discussion about all of these issues.  I particularly hope it draws members of various city commission members into a collaborative interaction on these matters.

        One clarification for those of you who have not yet had a chance to read the full report:  the Task Force did not discuss let alone propose any tax increases for a sports complex or any other improvements to fields discussed in its report.

        1. Matt Williams

          Dan, one of the advantages of a private volunteer undertaking (like the Blue and White Foundation effort for the football field at DHS) is that the people who are engaged with respect to the benefit of the undertaking are the ones who volunteer to participate.  If you look at where I have volunteered to participate over the years it has been in

          Finance and Budget
          Water
          Natural Resources
          Senior Citizens
          Arts
          Health
          Land Use, and
          Housing

          As much as I am a sports fan, when it comes to the management of sports activities and sports organizations, I know my limits.  A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.  I will be very actively involved in the sports discussions that relate to Finance and Budget and the use/non-use of City Funds as it relates to the support of sports, but I will leave the rest of the discussion to those people who are closer to the daily nuts and bolts of sports activities and administration.

          With that said, I don’t think you are correct when you say, “the Task Force did not discuss let alone propose any tax increases for a sports complex or any other improvements to fields discussed in its report.” The article here and in the Enterprise is very clear in saying “A future city investment in the project is also possible.” It is hard to imagine that the Task Force chose to include that sentence in its report without any discussion.

        2. Matt Williams

          Carson, do you believe the following statement “A future city investment in the project is also possible.” is not fiscal in nature?  . . . is not a fiscal proposal? What kind of future city investment did you discuss as being possible?

          If you really believe what you just said, then you should be calling for the removal of the sentence from the report.

        3. Carson

          not at all.  It is an admission of an obvious fact, the omission of which would have been ridiculous.  If that is a “proposal” then that word has no meaning.  Quite simply, we discussed lots of different funding and construction models from other cities, other organizations, blue and white… the list goes on and on.  We discussed whether the city would drop a check for the complex, and decided no.  We discussed whether the community at large would pay the whole thing, fundraising etc…and decided that this was a great model to explore.  Whether it is staff time, land acquisition, infrastructure… WHO KNOWS…. some city funds will go towards any broad based and large project like this.

        4. Matt Williams

          Carson, how is it an obvious fact?  Are you saying that “future city investment in the project” is an obvious fact?  In a time where Staff has reported that the city has $655 million of unfunded liabilities over the next 20 years, where is the city going to get the funds to make that “future city investment”?

          I agree with you that the possibility of such a future investment is one of the elephants in the room when considering a sports park, but for you and Dan to both say that the Task Force didn’t even discuss that elephant beggars belief. Bottom-line, you discussed it.  Just admit to that and move on.  Don’t try and perpetuate the fairy tale that you didn’t discuss it.

        5. Carson

          If anyone is involved in a fairy tale it is you, reading peoples words like you are in wonderland. I said we discussed it at length.   several times.

          I said we didnt discuss any tax or fiscal proposals.  No “we should do this sales tax, we should do that parcel tax….”  discussions.  We simply said as a group that  we should inform people that any large city wide land and construction project has the possibility of city involvement financially.  You can keep trying to twist my words around to fit your needs if you want…. But I wont be falling for it.

           

          Staff time, isnt an investment?…. city planners, city manager’s time, and hours?  I am sure they would be GLAD to know that they dont have to worry about dealing with that any more.

        6. Dan Carson Post author

          Matt, we obviously did discuss the possibility of a city contribution to the project but we never assumed in our report that the city would do so. That’s why we focused on a community based initiative to raise the money to build and operate such a facility  We honestly believe this approach could work given the recent Davis Legacy success in their expansion without any cash contribution from the city

          You started this thread talking about how providing money for a sports complex would lead to the defeat of a tax measure. I then pointed out to you that the Task Force did not discuss nor does it propose a tax increase for the project.  You insisted above we must have discussed a tax hike.  I must again point out that a tax increase was not discussed or proposed  by the Task Force.

          I never said the potential for a city fiscal  contribution was not discussed.  Of course it was and it led to the statement in the report you have cited. But I did explain to you, and would do so again, that it was in the vein of Task Force members not wanting to rule out that possibility so early in the process with so many uncertainties ahead.  Carson Wilcox, our vice chair, has confirmed my account of what was discussed and how it was discussed.

        7. Matt Williams

          Thanks to both Carsons for clarifying your prior posts (Dan’s = “One clarification for those of you who have not yet had a chance to read the full report:  the Task Force did not discuss let alone propose any tax increases for a sports complex or any other improvements to fields discussed in its report.”  and Carson’s = “we definitely did not discuss any tax or fiscal proposals… Not part of our mandate.”)

          Since a major community theme in recent weeks and months has been “trust” and “honesty,” starting off the extended Sports Task Force community dialogue with an invitation to create another “bait and switch” controversy or “affordable housing exemption” controversy is unwise.

          Carson, no, Staff time is not an investment.  Staff time is an expense, and the cost associated with that time appears on an Income Statement, while investments appear on a Balance Sheet.  The following real life example illustrates the difference.  If you live in Davis each month you receive a PG&E bill for, amongst other things, the staff time required to deliver your electrical and gas services.  Paying for that PG&E staff time is not an investment on your part.  It is only an expense.  On the other hand, if you take some of your assets and purchase PG&E stock you are making an investment.

  8. Dan Carson Post author

    Your strong resume, especially your work on Finance and Budget and infrastructure, is proof you have plenty to contribute to a public discussion of this issue and I am glad you are doing so

    There was a general discussion and agreement by the Task Force not to close the door on the possibility of some form of city financial help on a sports complex in the future.  But I was present for every one of our 16 meetings and there was no discussion and there is no proposal by the Task Force to increase city taxes. What we discussed in great detail over a number of meetings was how to launch a community based initiative to fund the construction and operation of a sports complex.

    1. Matt Williams

      Dan Carson said . . . “There was a general discussion and agreement by the Task Force not to close the door on the possibility of some form of city financial help on a sports complex in the future.”

      Dan, being silent on that possibility would not have closed the door either. 

      The only thing that would have closed the door would have been for the Task Force to clearly state that no City investment in the project is needed/anticipated/desired.  By making the statement that the Task Force did, they are clearly saying (to this reader at least), “We, the Task Force, can’t say is what the City investment is going to be, but some form of City investment would be desirable.”

      1. Dan Carson Post author

        The Task Force did not assume any financial investment by the city would be made in the construction of a sports complex.  At this point, we don’t know what sports teams would wish to commit to participate in such a project, what facilities would be proposed to be built for them, where it would be located, what such a project would cost, and the answers to a number of other relevant questions.

        The group did propose that the city commit to a limited but supportive role if it determined it wishes to pursue such a partnership.  While the Task Force proposed a community based effort to raise the funding to build and operate such a sports complex it did not want to rule out some kind of future help by the city at this very early stage.  But there is no assumption by the Task Force that this will be necessary.

        To the contrary, the report states our collective view that a broad-based community effort to finance such a project could succeed. As the Task Force report notes, Davis Legacy was able to build and operate a major expansion of its fields without any city subsidies of its construction or operating costs. We think that model could be replicated.

        1. Matt Williams

          I understand all of that Dan, and it only underscores the question that looms large for me personally, Given the clear commitment that this will be a private, community-based effort, driven by the focused group of people who will garner direct benefit from the facilities, when/if they are built, why even mention a City investment of funds?  The supportive role makes total sense, but if I understand what you have explained, that supportive role is in the form of provision of time and effort and expertise . . . not in the form of investment of funds.  So why specifically and overtly mention the possibility of “a future city investment in the project”?

        2. Carson

          I dont understand the othering of the people who will benefit?  Who would “they” be?  They are the young boys and girls currently being woefully under served and under represented by this city.

          We mentioned that a possible city investment might be required mainly because the task force decided it would be farcical to declare at the beginning of step 1 of 1000 that it definitely would NOT require one…  And equally farcical to ignore the issue completely.   Anyone who thinks the city or DJUSD didnt have dollars in the new football field that blue and white worked towards is fooling themselves.

          It was not our mandate to decide that one way or the other.  Our mandate was to explore sites, processes, models.  If in the coming years, the city decides to finally pursue this, and budgets funding in any way… that is their and our choice.

        3. Matt Williams

          Carson, I’m not sure what you mean by “othering.”  Can you clarify?

          With that question asked, doesn’t the statement “the young boys and girls currently being woefully under served and under represented by this city” apply to all voluntary extracurricular activities in Davis?  How are the boys and girls who voluntarily play sports more under represented than (for example) the boys and girls who voluntarily play piano or band instruments?

           

      2. Carson

        By “othering”, I mean any action by which an individual or group becomes mentally classified in somebody’s mind as “not one of us”. read up on it here.

        when you say “the focused group of people who will garner direct benefit from the facilities”  That’s a pretty large “focused group”  This focused group is what… like 25% of the tax paying families in this town?  Let alone previous sports participants…

         

  9. Ron

    If “location” is a concern, I’ve got a great suggestion!

    The owner/developer of the proposed MRIC site apparently isn’t interested in pursuing a commercial-only development.  Perhaps a good site for a sports park?  (No nearby houses, surrounded by open space, easy access to the freeway/city.)

    1. Matt Williams

      Interesting suggestion Ron.

      If your suggestion were to happen, what alternative location(s) would you suggest the MRIC owner/developer use for a new innovation center proposal?

      1. Ron

        Matt:  “If your suggestion were to happen, what alternative location(s) would you suggest the MRIC owner/developer use for a new innovation center proposal?”

        My understanding is that the MRIC owner/developer isn’t interested in a commercial-only development (as demonstrated by their withdrawal from consideration).  However, I understand that there are other potential commercial sites/owners, as well (e.g., near Sutter hospital).

        Perhaps the MRIC owner/developer would be interested in working with those interested in pursuing a sports complex at the site (which wouldn’t require a Measure R vote, since it apparently would not have to be annexed).

      2. Matt Williams

        Ron, for the purposes of discussion lets look at a scenario where your understanding that “the MRIC owner/developer isn’t interested in a commercial-only development” is not correct, and that “their withdrawal from consideration” was a recognition on their part that the timing of a November ballot request was unrealistic (dare I say foolish).  Given a commercial-only development intention, what would your alternative site be?

        1. Ron

          Matt:

          Regarding a “commercial-only development intention” (on the part of the proposed MRIC site developers/owners), I think you’re making some assumptions that may not be true.  (It seems that the developer’s intention is something quite different than a commercial-only development, as demonstrated by their alternative proposals – which they were ready to “present” to voters, had the council agreed.)

          If the city is interested in encouraging commercial development, it seems wise to be looking at other alternative locations, as well.  This would presumably include the site adjacent to Sutter Hospital.   (I don’t know enough to comment, regarding the “preferred” location for commercial development.  However, the site of the formerly-proposed MRIC site appears to be well-suited for a sports park, which is the topic of this article.)  Perhaps the proposed MRIC site developers/owners would also be interested, since it wouldn’t require a Measure R vote.

        2. Frankly

          The Sutter Hospital site was proposed and then the developers pulled out after community feedback from the neighbors in that area that would aggressively oppose it.

          Also, the MRIC site has freeway exposure and better access and is a much better location for innovation park commercial development.

          Let me guess Ron, you live somewhere much closer to the MRIC location than you do Sutter Hospital.  Might your opinions on development simply be opposition to change near your back yard?

        3. Ron

          Frankly:

          I do value your input, regarding commercial development (since your business deals with this field, and you have a direct interest in it).  Perhaps this has something to do with your other suggestion, that commercial development not be subject to a Measure R-type vote?

          Both locations are near a freeway, and both developers withdrew their proposals.

          My house is somewhat closer to the MRIC site.  But, my main concern is residential development at the MRIC site.  (Or, for that matter, at the Sutter site.)  I don’t think there’s support for peripheral residential development in general, especially at this point. (And, as you’ve pointed out, residential development is a money-loser for the city, over the long term.)

          If either proposal is resurrected as commercial-only (something you once supported/advocated at the MRIC site), I probably won’t oppose it.  But, it seems that the developers are more interested in including residential development on the site (which I suspect will fail, if/when the developers propose it again).

          It seems like a fine site for a sports complex, as well.  Not sure if this might make money for the city, as well.  (Actually, commercial development does not seem to be a financial panacea for the city, either. I recall that Mike Hart, from Sierra Energy, said something like this, as well.)

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