My View: No Easy Answers for City Revenue

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Sunrise-MRICBottom Line: To Remain The Community We Love, We Must Give a Little, On Something

San Luis Obispo and Davis are very similar communities.  In fact, extremely similar in so many ways.  They are small college towns, heavily reliant on a university for labor, they have strong growth control mechanisms in place, and they face the crunch of an expanding university that is putting pressure on growth.  They each have a strong downtown that faces remarkably similar challenges.

However, as we reported recently, San Luis Obispo is thriving in one important place where Davis is struggling – sales tax revenue.  San Luis Obispo is doing $28,800 retail sales per capita compared to Davis’ $8400.  That puts San Luis Obispo ahead of West Sacramento and just behind Palo Alto near the top of our comparison cities, while Davis is more comparable to Claremont.

The revenue issue is a problem for Davis.  Right now, the city is surviving on one-time monies with a huge unmet need in terms of infrastructure.  While Davis is shored up with another half-cent sales tax until 2021, there is not enough for infrastructure needs, little margin for an economic downturn and little capacity to grow.

Without revenue increases, Davis will have trouble keeping its roads and bike paths in working condition, keeping its parks and greenbelts open, and continuing to provide the high level of city services and amenities that our community has grown accustomed to.

Unfortunately, Davis really cannot look to San Luis Obispo for answers here.  San Luis Obispo is blessed with advantages that Davis simply does not have.  Seventy-two percent of its retail sales are generated from people who do not live in the city.  That means tourism, which not only brings in sales tax in the form of restaurant and retail sales, but also TOT (Transient Occupancy Tax) from visitors staying at hotels.

San Luis Obispo is also a regional destination, meaning people inside the county come to San Luis Obispo for their major shopping experiences.

The San Luis Obispo model will not work for Davis.  There are some possible solutions for Davis – however, they will require changing the way we do things.

We see four potential solutions.

One possible answer lies in the data from Dixon, West Sacramento and Woodland.   Woodland may be a potential model for what Davis could do.  None of these cities are destinations.  They are not tourist areas and, while they have more developed retail, they are probably not generating revenue from outside sources.

Woodland in particular has a modest $15,800 per capita retail sales per year.  They have a more developed retail sector than Davis, with big ticket items like Walmart, Costco, Home Depot, Best Buy and the works.

Looking at Woodland, there is no inherent reason that Davis couldn’t increase its retail to where Woodland’s is.  That is nearly double what Davis produces.

However, the community in Davis has generally been opposed to building big box and bringing in other major national chains.  Target was a nail biter at the ballot box and most civic leaders have shunned the idea of bringing in another big box store.

A second answer is to bring back the push for an innovation center.  San Luis Obispo’s Assistant City Manager Derek Johnson explained to us that the city has an Economic Development Strategic Plan, has worked with the university, and is bringing in some high-tech startups and other companies.  They are taking advantage of the housing crisis in the Bay Area and are becoming a landing spot for some of those companies.

Davis is a more natural fit.  It is far closer to the Bay Area, closer to a population center, and home to a much more research-oriented university.

What Davis lacks is high-tech space.  That was what was identified in the Studio 30 report which focused on utilization of existing space, the addition of space at a place like Nishi (Measure A would have generated 300,000 square feet and already had interest from Sierra Energy), and the addition of a research or innovation park at another 2.5 million or more square feet.

In the last few years, Davis has lost a number of large companies, most notably Bayer-AgraQuest which moved its operations to West Sacramento – that means a loss in point of sales tax, in property tax and in jobs.  Davis also lost out on the potential Davis Innovation Center, which appears to be headed for Woodland due to more relaxed land-use policies.

Those are two prime examples of how Davis is losing out on potential revenue to its neighbors.  This is not a competition, but it is an example of why Davis is lacking revenue while its neighbors are far better-positioned.

Can an innovation and high-tech oriented plan produce the revenue that Davis needs?  That is a big question, but preliminary analysis suggested that adding the space would have been a huge start.

It would have parlayed the university’s ambitions with city-oriented space.  It would have allowed for technology transfer to drive economic growth for the city.  And it would have signaled to the university that it had a willing partner for future endeavors.

We have noted that other universities have invested in these projects.  There is the need for high-tech space for companies fleeing the high cost of living in the Bay Area.  And it might have induced the university to house the billion dollar plus World Food Center in Davis – with its jobs and potential multiplier effect of people working in Davis, eating at restaurants and buying our retail during the day.  This is what we call virtual tourism.

Improving high tech can also feed into another revenue stream – hotels and the transient occupancy tax.  The more high tech, the more conferences, the more regional interest, the more people will come to Davis to work and stay and the more revenue that can be generated through the TOT tax.

As we have noted in the past, leaders in Davis saw the second model as more Davis-friendly than the first.

A third model is the tax model.  In order to fund the city’s infrastructure, some think we need a parcel tax somewhere near $1700 or so and they figure with city needs and school needs, we could pass about $3000 per year parcel tax and be able to fund our city and schools without additional revenue growth.

Finally, we could look toward a more holistic approach and add some retail, some high tech, some hotels, some taxes and maybe be able to cobble together enough revenue to keep Davis the place that most people know and love.

Unlike some, I don’t believe we need to get rid of Measure R to do this.  We just need a commitment from the community that, in order to solve our problems, we have to give a little.  That doesn’t mean a huge incursion into our farmland on our borders, that doesn’t mean a Walmart Supercenter or becoming Everytown USA, it means making conscious decisions so that the next generation of residents can have the advantages that we all have had in this great community.

But if we are not willing to give, even a little, on something, even one thing, I fear that this community will not have the resources it needs to provide the amenities and services we all take for granted.  The next ten years are in the balance right now and we must figure out the best way to act.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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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76 thoughts on “My View: No Easy Answers for City Revenue”

  1. Biddlin

    “Unlike some, I don’t believe we need to get rid of Measure R to do this.  We just need a commitment from the community that, in order to solve our problems, we have to give a little.”

    Consider the possibility that you are tone deaf. I think the “community” has spoken quite clearly that they ” are not willing to give, even a little, on something,” and have done so repeatedly.

  2. Jim Frame

    Consider the possibility that you are tone deaf. I think the “community” has spoken quite clearly that they ” are not willing to give, even a little, on something,” and have done so repeatedly.

    I don’t see it that way.  The projects that were decisively rejected didn’t offer much.  Nishi, which had some appealing aspects along with a bundle of downsides, came very close to passing.  That tells me that a project providing the right mix of benefits and impacts will pass a Measure R vote.

    1. Grok

      I think Jim has this right. A better project can pass. Nishi had more to offer than early projects and did better, but it still had some deep flaws. They could have been overcome, but the developers pushed it to the ballot early and were tone deaf to community input. Nishi proved where the bar is, and I am optimistic that the next measure R proposal will be worthy of support.

      1. Don Shor

        I am optimistic that the next measure R proposal will be worthy of support.

        Really? And where do you think the next measure R proposal will be?
        I think the Nishi developers felt they gave as much as they could while still being able to get a reasonable return on their investment, especially given the uncertainties involved in that site. I doubt they are willing to give much more. Is there another one of the peripheral sites where you think a landowner and development team will be willing to go forward?
        My opinion is that if Nishi couldn’t pass, nothing can. Measure R has locked the city boundaries. The only way I see a peripheral commercial project going forward is if the city annexes the land first, then solicits proposals. And even that is politically shaky.

        1. hpierce

          I disagree… they tried to give something to everybody… in doing so, they alienated many… I was one… the insistence on a full MV connection to W Olive, promoted by many as an alternative to First as a route to campus, ‘killed the deal’ on my part… to me, that was a fatal flaw (the connection)… IMO, they should have run with an earlier proposal, rather than trying to “game” the J/R thing.

          J/R, IMO encourages folk to ‘count noses’ as opposed to proposing solid proposals… am pretty sure City planning staff may be telling developers the equivalent of “but will it play well in Poughkeepsie?”

        2. Grok

          Nishi is a problematic site. As Bob Segar, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Campus Planning and Community Resources, pointed out recently the infrastructure costs to connect Nishi to Olive Drive and the campus across Putah Creek and the railroad respectively causes the project to have a prohibitively large upfront cost to even begin development. He flatly stated that because of this the University is not interested in acquiring the land and he was unsure the project would be built as proposed even if Measure A had passed. He went on to state that the air quality was also a concern.
           
          To Don’s other point – I have a hard time imagining Davis voting to annex land for development with a measure R vote that doesn’t have some very specific parameters for what is going to be built there. That said, there is merit to the idea that the city design or at least heavily specify what would be built in a new development and then invite developers to submit proposals. Not sure where the Measure R vote would fall in that process.

  3. Frankly

    I don’t believe we need to get rid of Measure R to do this.  We just need a commitment from the community that, in order to solve our problems, we have to give a little.

    I would applaud this optimism if it were not based on fantasy void of reality.   Really?  It reminds me of a child living in an abusive house holding out hope that his parents that beat him beat him less if he just keeps explaining why it is not a good idea.

    The community is growing less interested in “giving” every day it grows more geriatric every day.

    Frankly (because I am) almost five years of my short life have passed since, after spending many, many hours and buckets of ink making the points you are making in this article (and doing what I suggested to get started… go visit other communities in the state asking why they are not so crappy like Davis NIMBYs claim Davis will be with more development), the actual result is watching the NIMBYs get stronger… hiring fake scientists to make up fake reports of fake health problems that would result from fake pollution… exploiting Davis’s affinity for victim sympathy with lies about those poor Olive Drive businesses and residents… making up lies about housing affordability to bring in class war tactics.

    Here is the thing you are not getting.  These are people that are ENEMIES of change.  They are not interested in “giving a little” of anything.  They are not reasonable people on this topic.  They should have a voice in the deicions, but not decision control.  Measure R is a giant mistake that gives them decision control over the future of the city.  It is the classic tyranny of the majority in Davis.

    You need to also consider time-value and capital-investment-motivation.   I have been listening to the people in the region that have some to invest, and they area crossing Davis off the list.  People in the region have a very unpleasant opinion of Davis as a result of these failed innovation parks.  It all stems from Measure R.  Unless it is defeated the inmates will continue to run the asylum into the ground.

      1. Frankly

        This is the most childish thing I hear repeatedly.

        If you hurt my feelings in opposition to my change-opposing tantrums, then I will throw a bigger tantrum.

        I lost complete respect for those that oppose development in this city.  They lied.  They cheated.  They wouldn’t listen to any reason other than the echo chamber in their heads.

        They completely own the label puckered-up-old, change-averse, NIMBY.

        1. Marina Kalugin

          jeesh….sounds like another example of the “oppressed become the oppressors”…or something…  I lost respect for some of the same developers, Davis engineering firms,  and the city council and  building and planning folks some decades ago…and did we need that lovely project Mike Corbett was proposing this last time around?

          and so on..

          nope we did not…and we would be in way more bad straits if that would have won..

          the city is in a bind due to the idiocy of the “water project”  and so on…

          just be thankful Nishi lost…

           

    1. Jim Frame

      It is the classic tyranny of the majority in Davis.

      Arguing against democracy isn’t going to get you very far in the United States.  The “tyrannized minority” has the same voting power as the “tyrannizing majority.”  If the former don’t care enough to vote, or to study the issues and figure out how to vote in their best interests, the system has a built-in remedy for that:  whichever side casts the most votes wins.

      The system also has a remedy for those who think Measure R should be overturned:  the referendum.  If you really think that Measure R is the problem, perhaps you ought to invest your time in and effort to overturn it.

      Since I don’t think Measure R is going to be (or should be) overturned, I suggest that we instead work toward convincing the City Council that putting not-quite-ready-for-prime-time projects on the ballot is a losing proposition.  Measure A came close; if it had been more fully vetted and tweaked, as was recommended by many, it might have made it over the bar.

       

       

      1. Frankly

        Three innovation parks just came and went Jim.  Your “prime-time” expectations are convenient for anyone that opposed them.  They are not reality.  Those developments were already better than most if not all others that came before them in other communities.  Where the hell do you and others get off believing you have a right to demand even more and better than all others?  Oh that’s right, you have Measure R.  So, back to my main point.

    2. Miwok

      Frankly (because I am) almost five years of my short life have passed since, after spending many, many hours and buckets of ink making the points you are making in this article (and doing what I suggested to get started… go visit other communities in the state asking why they are not so crappy like Davis NIMBYs claim Davis will be with more development), the actual result is watching the NIMBYs get stronger… hiring fake scientists to make up fake reports of fake health problems that would result from fake pollution… exploiting Davis’s affinity for victim sympathy with lies about those poor Olive Drive businesses and residents… making up lies about housing affordability to bring in class war tactics.

      Here is the thing you are not getting.  These are people that are ENEMIES of change.  They are not interested in “giving a little” of anything.  They are not reasonable people on this topic.  They should have a voice in the decisions, but not decision control.  Measure R is a giant mistake that gives them decision control over the future of the city.  It is the classic tyranny of the majority in Davis.

      ONCE – only once – I asked why people don’t get old, move to some small community and enjoy the solitude. Instead, they move, rent the old family place to students and manipulate the real estate market. Add in Student’s parents, the University, and voting away every retail opportunity OUT, then you get the happy situation you have now, well described by Frankly.

      When the City is ten years behind Road Maintenance, and with failing recreational parks and sports areas, they propose new and exciting things to keep the conversation going that they are TRYING to do something.

      The only thing people are doing for shopping in Davis is going ELSEWHERE. David has some nice figures, and for the sake of his article I would like to hear what he would do with the higher SLO numbers if he had them? I guarantee he would not try to catch up, as the article suggests he wants to see Innovation Parks, which DO NOTHING for roads and “retail per capita”. You have to have stores for that. the only thing Students are buying in town is food. Otherwise every place in town would be three stories tall for the over 28K captive customers they have.

  4. Don Shor

    “… there is no inherent reason that Davis couldn’t increase its retail to where Woodland’s is.”

    Actually, there are several inherent reasons Davis can’t do that. That opportunity probably slipped away in the 1970’s.

    “Target was a nail biter at the ballot box and most civic leaders have shunned the idea of bringing in another big box store.”

    Just for the record, the reason we have a Target store is that two sitting city council members actively courted Target Corporation to build here.

     “A third model is the tax model.  In order to fund the city’s infrastructure, some think we need a parcel tax somewhere near $1700 or so and they figure with city needs and school needs, we could pass about $3000 per year parcel tax and be able to fund our city and schools without additional revenue growth.”

    I suspect that is the only realistic short-term option left. Does your $3000 include both the city and DJUSD?

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        I would hope so, but that’s combined what the city and schools would need. But that doesn’t mean we can make up some of the revenue – especially in the short term that route.

        1. Barack Palin

           that’s combined what the city and schools would need

          And it doesn’t include the mello roos that some of us are paying.

          Sometimes I think it should be referred to as the Mello-Ruse.

        2. hpierce

          Actually, I used an old Ann Landers term (passed the newspapers’ scrutiny, for many years!)… the filter is sensitive, but it perfectly caught the synopsis… to reiterate/rephrase, if you are only in two M-R districts, you are lucky

          I’m in 4…

          [and I sincerely hope that the filter doesn’t pick up that ‘lucky’ contains 3 letters that appears in another word, which I definitely did not intend! An attempt to be ‘retro’ and humorous, failed…]

      2. Matt Williams

        David Greenwald said . . . “I would hope so”

        David, why would you hope so?  Are you arguing that Davis should abandon maintenance of its capital infrastructure (roads, bike paths, parks, buildings, structures, storm sewers, etc.)?

        1. Barack Palin

          Matt, do you really feel that the city would have an ice cube’s chance in Hell of ever passing local parcel taxes that exceeded $3000?

          For whoever it might concern…..1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10……take a deep breath

        2. Matt Williams

          BP, it is all about tradeoffs.  If the alternatives are laid out clearly and simply to the voters, they will have to weigh the relative value of those alternatives.  On the one side of the scale will be some combination of further deterioration of the streets, closure of facilities (imagine the Senior Center open only 4 days a week), cutbacks in public safety (both police and fire), closure of selected parks and pools and recreation facilities (imagine weekends only Little League Fields access) on the other side will be money.

          Back a while ago you complained that the $32 million per year for 20 years unfunded liabilities was “scare tactics.”  Given the recent investment return report from CalPERS, that $32 million per year is likely to go up another $5-7 million.

          The real question is what alternative plan does Ice Cube have?

        3. David Greenwald Post author

          Matt: I would hope it is a non-starter because it would price a lot of people out of the community and it is not the best way to address capital infrastructure needs.  I would support smaller parcel taxes as a short-term approach to deal with roads.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Matt’s point is correct though – and it’s the point that I was trying to highlight here. The problem we have is that each of the solutions seems to be a non-starter for a significant portion of people.

        4. Matt Williams

          David and BP, I don’t discount the points the two of you are making, but unless our community gets “honest” with itself, we won’t make informed (dare I say wise) decisions.  So, I’m going to lay out the cold, hard facts for the purpose of dialogue.

          With that said, David, the unfunded portion of the $10 million per year for the next 20 years for Roads and Bikepaths is only 28.4% of the Staff-reported unfunded liability total.  When you say, ” I would support smaller parcel taxes as a short-term approach to deal with roads” how do you think we should handle our capital maintenance of parks, recreation and buildings?

          With that said, Footnote 12 of the 2015 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) reports  “For the year ended June 30, 2015, the City recognized pension expense of $3,891,011” as well as an additional “$3,935,948 […] recognized as a reduction of the net pension liability in the year ended June 30, 2016.”  That is $7,826,959 total.  For discussion purposes, if CalPERS follows the same pattern of Employer Contribution escalation (shown in the prior posted graphic) as CalSTRS (from 8.25% to 19.1%), then the 2020 pension contribution could be as high as $18 million.

          To add insult to injury, Footnote 13 of the CAFR shows an annual OPEB contribution of $6,395,146.  Following the same CalSTRS pattern, the 2020 OPEB contribution escalates to just short of $15 million.

          That is a whole lot of cold, hard reality we are facing.

           

        5. Jim Frame

          if CalPERS follows the same pattern of Employer Contribution escalation (shown in the prior posted graphic) as CalSTRS (from 8.25% to 19.1%), then the 2020 pension contribution could be as high as $18 million.

          Does CalPERS require that the employer provide all of that, or are local agencies allowed to pass that responsibility along to the employees?

           

        6. Matt Williams

          Good question Jim.  CalSTRS is very clear about the contributions, but the same information is not easy to find for CalPERS.  That is why I used the word “if” in laying out the hypothetical scenario.

    1. Matt Williams

      Don, based on the current Staff-provided liability numbers for PERS, OPEB, Streets and Bike Paths, Parks and Recreation, and Buildings, the $3,000 would be for the City alone.  With the recent announcements by PERS (see Calpers earns less than 1% for the fiscal year compared to a long-term target of 7.5%) of its investment performance, it is not unreasonable to expect the current $114 million combined PERS and OPEB unfunded liability to double, and the annual contribution required by PERS to increase substantially as well.  If both of those things happen $3,000 will be a low number (with anything that DJUSD needs being over and above that).

      1. hpierce

        CALSTRS (School folk) are in worse shape than PERS, as is the UC retirement system…

        Not disagreeing, but this issue crosses many lines…

        GM and other private pension systems had similar problems, but got Gov’t to bail them and their pensioners out.

        Social Security has the same problem, only more so… a true Ponzi scheme…

        1. Jim Frame

          Social Security has the same problem, only more so… a true Ponzi scheme…

          That depends on how you define “Social Security.”  The Trust Fund is fine, and with minor tweaks it could continue fine indefinitely.  Congressional “borrowing” from the Trust Fund is where the flimflam sits.

           

        2. Matt Williams

          To give some perspective on hpierce’s CALSTRS point, the following is the CALSTRS Funding Plan published on their website.  Note how the Employer Contribution percentage more than doubles from 8.25% in 2014 to 19.% in 2020.

        3. hpierce

          Jim…

          Have you read :

          http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamiehopkins/2015/02/18/social-security-could-be-in-worse-shape-than-we-thought/#20876b6c75a6

          https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v70n3/v70n3p111.html

          ?

          The “trust fund” isn’t… current SS benefits funds are coming mostly from current employees… the system would break down completely if there were no more contributions, and if those currently working could only receive what they and their employers have paid to date… PERS and STRS are in much better shape than that…

          Look at your latest SS statement, see what you and your employer paid into the system.  Then figure out what that total would be as an annuity funded over the same period of time.  Do the math.  If you die within 3-5 years (guesstimate) after you go on SS, your annuity might work… other than that…

          If employees and employers had contributed the same %-ages towards a 401, 403, 457, etc., we would not have the problems we do in SS.

          When SS was established, 65 was near the mean of life expectancy… not so much any more… this means that those who died before 65, had their and their employers contributions ‘put back in the pot’ for others… including reduced benefits for survivors (unless your survivor gets a government pension, wherer they get zip…

        4. Jim Frame

          Social Security was never set up as an insurance program, because if it had been it never would have gotten funded — it would have taken too much up front.  Current contributions have always been used to fund current payouts.  The Trust Fund exists, but it’s been used as  a candy jar by congress.  If left unchanged, the funds will run out in the 2030s, but if the cap on taxed income is removed and the full retirement age advanced slightly, it can keep going much farther, certainly farther than we can predict most aspects of the economy.

          As for the value of my contributions had they been made in some other system, it’s not worth my time to calculate.  I had no choice about making them (still don’t), and I’ll have to roll with whatever the system delivers.

        5. Miwok

          hpierce. the only reason the UCRS is in trouble is because they Privatized it. It used to be fully funded, now they need more money.

          Fidelity Investments, if you are an investor.

  5. Topcat

    We just need a commitment from the community that, in order to solve our problems, we have to give a little.

    Perhaps a part of the “give a little” scenario would be to look at ways to cut back on spending.  Given the generous pay and benefits that many city employees get I find it hard to believe that there is no place left for belt tightening.

    I know that cost cutting can’t do the whole job, but I do think it should be part of the solution, even if it’s just a small part.

    1. Alan Pryor

      To Matt Williams re: Expenses

      Matt – I recall that the Finance and Budget Commission had a very explicit recommendation to the Council last year that there be no parcel tax until Finance and Budget work on the expense side of the City’s income/expense statement. Specifically, the F&B Commission was to pour through all of the City’s labor expenses lined up against programs and needs and see where there is wasted dollars that can be freed up for more pressing needs. That is what any reasonable businessperson would do if expenses exceed income. Why should I or other citizens either approve sprawl that we don’t need or want so the City has more revenue to throw away on wasteful programs or overpaid or unneeded employees. When is this expense side review going to get published or is this now a dead idea? If expenses are not examined, I and many other citizens will continue to oppose revenue-generating proposals without a corresponding tough look at expenses.

      1. Marina Kalugin

        hey, since I am “retiring” and this stuff is kinda my specialty, perhaps the city would open up all it’s books for me to help them with this project?     nah….how much you want to bet, Alan, they would not allow me to do that…..and, really do I want to???   nahhh

        I kept trying to do that at UCD…and some were not happy about that either…

         

        but that is some strong language, Alan….are you sure there are even unneeded personnel or wasteful programs? I could name a few programs without even looking…not so sure about the personnel part though…however, most of my friends from back in the day have happily retired or otherwise moved on…

      2. Matt Williams

        Alan, the December FBC recommendation to Council focused first-and-foremost on Capital Infrastructure Maintenance costs. the wording of that recommendation was as follows:

        Motion (seconded and approved by a 5-0 vote)

        That the FBC is recommending that the Davis City Council not approve any new tax measures or utility rate increases for placement on a ballot measure until such time that:

        1.  The staff provides a detailed scope of proposed and/or deferred capital infrastructure projects, as well as proposed new services.

        —       Said scope document shall include specific measurable success metrics for the proposed new services and projects, along with an inventory of the specific costs that will be incurred to provide said proposed services or complete said projects.

        —       Each deferred capital infrastructure project shall include its expected success metrics, as well as an anticipated budget.

        —       The scope document will be updated each year as part of the Budget adoption process.

        2.  The staff provides detailed report/s in conjunction with or as a part of the annual Budget adoption process documents submitted to City Council that reports the specific work done (accomplishments) the prior Fiscal Year on staff proposed services and project/s associated with item #1.

        3.  The staff provides detailed report/s in conjunction with or as a part of the annual Budget adoption process documents submitted to City Council that defines where the revenues collected from any new tax/increased tax measure(s) spent on services and/or projects other than the services and/or projects associated with item #1.

        Councilmember Swanson made a motion at the Council meeting 24 hours later to adopt the FBC Recommendation in its entirety, but no Council member seconded her motion, so it died.

        Ongoing operational expenses have been addressed by both Mayor Robb Davis and the FBC separate from the December 2015 FBC Recommendation as follows:

        Work to accelerate the completion of a full staffing analysis to determine match between service delivery needs and staffing, which will build on John Meyer’s April 2015 study completed last year, but largely unimplemented.  This should save $1 million per year in employee costs

        Accelerate the completion of a thorough Business Process Re-engineering engagement to address poorly designed, inefficient, ineffective service delivery processes. At its second April meeting, the Finance and Budget Commission recommended immediate funding of $575,000 in the current fiscal year for this effort.  That funding will come from the current year Budget surplus, and will be an investment in the community … a gift that keeps on giving budget savings year after year after year.

        All of the above is still being worked hard on by the FBC in conjunction with Staff.

      3. hpierce

        Marina… perhaps the UC system could do the same about opening THEIR books, including the years when UC employees and the UC system paid zero to fund retirement, figuring the State taxpayers would cover it…

        1. Marina Kalugin

          heck, you are preaching to the choir here…and yet, until the UCRP privatized to “save money” there wasn’t an issue.
          again, the forest is being missed for the trees by some….once the ” problem” started after the 2008 crash, the UC and employees started funding…it took a few years and it compounded quickly…the UC, departments and employees started paying in mounds.
          given that the state doles out fewer and fewer dollars for the education we are supposed to provide,  UC also asked the State to pay a few bucks as they have done for many a decade for “other” state employees….
          the gov refused without getting some “concessions” first….and when the Napo met with him in 2014  …illegally….and made these agreements, outside of her authority, the result  is the “new tier” which went into effect on 7/1/16   for all except the majority of employees……the majority being union represented positions….it is now part of the bargaining.
          the forest which is not being seen still, is this “new tier” will serve to further erode the viability of the pensions….truly critical for the UC as a whole, and for UCD especially….and especially in light of the other travesties of recent months…
          as I mentioned on many another thread, this will hurt many lower paid working families and yet the only ones who are “pleased” are the Napo, the gov, and others who have been trying to crash the UC system for some time
          the new “options” will only help out those who want to come for a few years and raise havoc and move on…not for those who dedicate their lives to the UCD>>.
          and, our best and brightest faculty on campus are constantly gone after by institutions of “higher” standing  – one of the biggest real costs on campus these days is the recruitment and startups of new faculty.
          in STEM, for an asst professor, all costs totalled now approach $2 mil each..
          and, it is often much higher for those brought in with tenure…
          retention is a huge issue…
          a huge cost, a huge workload and a huge burden on managers, chairs, and staff…

          and, the solution was not to further erode the only thing UC really has going in the cutthroat world of competing with the higher rated for the best, and due to not being able to compete in the salary arena, at least having the pension to help recruit and retain ..

           

           

           

  6. Jim Frame

     So, back to my main point.

    Your main point seems to be whining about Measure R.  At what point do you stop wishing things weren’t the way they are and start living in the real world?  Measure R is fact; it can’t be changed by a vote of the City Council.  The only routes to change are the ballot box or a successful court challenge.  I rate the likelihood of both at near zero.

    While I think infill offers some possibilities, I believe that a Nishi or a Mace Ranch innovation park is still the best route toward improving the revenue picture.  Neither will be quick or easy.

     

     

    1. Mark West

      “While I think infill offers some possibilities, I believe that a Nishi or a Mace Ranch innovation park is still the best route toward improving the revenue picture.”

      This is true, but we are competing for developers willing and able to fund such a project. With the community’s rejection of the Nishi proposal, we have announced to all those potential developers that Davis will be an extremely difficult place for them to make money (but an extremely easy place for them to lose lots of it). As a consequence, most will simply take their money elsewhere. Why should they bother dealing with the problems that the Davis community has created? I doubt we will see another proposal for commercial development on the Davis periphery for a number of years. Our ‘no on everything’ mindset has effectively removed that option from the table, just as our ‘no on large retail’ mindset took the retail solution off the table 20-30 years ago. The only choice we have left for addressing our fiscal shortfall will be to increase tax rates significantly.

      1. Miwok

        just as our ‘no on large retail’ mindset took the retail solution off the table 20-30 years ago.

        Good synopsis. I was living here in those days, worked here since, and could not believe what they were doing to the town then, and it made a decision easy to leave. If the City was voting down places to buy groceries, why live there? NOW the mindset has come to fruition. The only place Downtown in those days was Real Estate and Antique Stores, with 20K students hanging out.

        What were we expected to do? Yet the Vanguard is starting to think more critically, MAYBE other examples of thinking can be considered?

      1. Miwok

        What IS plausible is when all the studies have now been done, a New Developer will now come in and make it happen 0 UH- UC DAVIS?

        And no one will have to vote on it.

  7. Marina Kalugin

    this is funny ….the Nishi is revisited again….too funny and some interesting sides to some of the same players I thought I got to know on the other threads…..

  8. Jim Frame

     The only routes to change are the ballot box or a successful court challenge.

    Amending the above, there’s another way:  the City Council could choose not to put Measure R on the ballot and allow it to expire in 2020.  The obvious foil to this would be a citizen’s initiative, but that’s a pretty high bar to clear.  I rate this route as the one with the greatest chance of success, though I don’t believe that chance is much higher than the others.

    I’d also like to amend my language accusing Frankly of whining.  He doesn’t whine, though he does complain a lot.  “Whining” is an unkind word, and I regret having used it.  (Frankly might say that’s because I’m one of those people who makes decisions based on emotions instead of logic.  He might contend that there’s a rhetorical advantage to using loaded words, and that in fact I should have called him a “pathetic whiner” instead of just a “whiner.”)

  9. Marina Kalugin

    loaded words are only allowed on the DV if they are loaded in favor of the majority DV mentality…

    of course, I keep trying to tone down my words and it is not easy when there are bar brawls and explosions going on around…

  10. Marina Kalugin

    heck, if we were successful in creating the Ricci Demonstration Farm, instead of woodbridge we would have had that destination point also…

    correct, Eileen?    and David R….and (RIP)  Julie Partansky?….we even had 3-2 and then there was an election…

    lessee…. was it Lois who came on that year??? don’t recall…likely I have it in my many file boxes however……

    instead we had houses built that had toxic mold…ugghhhh

      1. Marina Kalugin

        oh yes.   I always “wanted to go” to Copia and “never had time”….I bet there were many others also that felt that way.   on the other hand, the Oxbow is doing famously….

        yes, and yes to a lot of what you say and also to much of what others share on this topic

        I would love to be back in the days of State market downtown and also Quessenberry’s ….things change and needs and wants change..

        however, it truly takes skill to figure out a successful model..

        for those who saw the County Fair mall kill off Woodland’s downtown and then the fall of the mall and the rise of Woodland’s downtown…

        some things are truly cyclical… while other things stay the same

        and answers are never black and white…

        however, on these issues, those who hang out here truly care and are passionate …and also passionately holding onto their own ideas also… thus finding common ground becomes difficult

        that is why I am for lots of choices and options…and one doesn’t get that in homogenous huge tract developments…

        all I am sure of, is that measures J/R have been a good thing ….while other council and city decisions may not have been so good.

        1. Matt Williams

          Oxbow Market (for those who haven’t ever been there, be sure to go.  Here’s a link.) is a straightforward, capitalistic, for-profit business. They self describe the Market as follows: “The tenant mix of Oxbow Public Market, which was opened by Oxbow Management LLC in 2008, is tailored to “the highly affluent and sophisticated tastes of both local and non-local visitors.” Is that a description that you (or anyone) associate with Davis?

        2. Marina Kalugin

          I think the oxbow is a great model and would be easily supported here,  perhaps on a smaller scale …I was typing a response with reasons when this thing bounced me off…. don’t feel like starting over..too beat now…heading back to bed…more later…

  11. Marina Kalugin

    btw…. what the Napo did to the UC retirement plan, effective 7/1/16…which was btw illegal and “decided” by the Napo and the Gov will make the UCRP also unsustainable going forward.

    After the gov got a longer than  20 years holiday of not paying a dime towards UC employee pensions, and when asked to start paying a dime,  he refused…and refused until that fateful meeting(s) in 2014…

    Of course, they both had their own agendas and that is why the UCRP is going to be in worse shape after that deal.

    did I mention yet, or rather in this thread, again…that even those meetings were “illegal”…sighh…

     

    PS. I only bring up this point on this thread because others were comparing the state, and other plans and pensions, and throwing around inaccuracies related to UCRP also…

    the UC pensions have served a purpose of retention of excellent faculty and staff…the new plan will not serve that purpose either…that was one of my beefs with ex Lawlor…but the highest ups, who bounce from place to place do not care so much about retention..

    1. hpierce

      Yes… but the fact is that neither UC nor the UC employees paid one dime into the pension fund , (for many years) that you will be receiving for many years, (hopefully)… you seem to expect the State taxpayers to make you whole…  may  all public and private employees expect the same…

  12. Don Shor

    The Vanguard might wish to convene a couple of focus groups to find out the state of awareness and attitudes about the city’s budget situation. Based on comments I’ve heard, I suspect you’d find a lot of this:

    • I thought the budget was getting better.
    • I heard that development ends up costing the city more than it makes.
    • What’s wrong with the roads?
    • Engineers always exaggerate that stuff.
    • I don’t mind driving a few miles to shop sometimes at those other kinds of stores.
    • Why don’t they just cut the budget first?
    • I don’t pay property tax.
  13. Edison

    I think David has stated the solution correctly. The city needs a multi-faceted approach to improve its budget, one that encourages more retail-hotel-conference centers, combined with innovation parks complementary to UCD and perhaps some modest parcel tax increase.  These endeavors need not be incompatible with Measures J/R.  As I’ve stated before, the impression I have in talking with others in our community is that Measure A (Nishi) would have passed if it had been structured differently; i.e., if it had not included housing and had been strictly an innovation park.  In particular, it might have fared much better if it had not included housing for students (because student housing is UCD’s responsibility).  It also may have passed if people such as myself had not been inundated with bothersome phone calls and door-to-door visits by uninformed students promoting the proposal, which certainly gave the measure a “student-centric” image.   I also think that the Mace Ranch innovation park proposal may have been successful at the ballot box precisely because it did not include student housing.

    If the City of Davis wants to encourage new innovation parks or a revival of the projects that have not come to fruition, it may also need to consider what it is willing to demand of the developers.  Requiring “gold” or “silver” LEED designation along with other sustainable attributes could in all likelihood make Davis innovation parks unaffordable for tech startups.  I believe that an earlier article by Matt Williams cited the relatively low cost of leasing currently vacant commercial space in West Sacramento, Roseville and other locales as an economic incentive for tech and R&D start-ups to not even seriously consider expensive “environmentally pure” commercial space in Davis.  The City at some point will need to decide what it wants: affordable commercial space for tax-revenue generating start-up firms that can leverage the research at UCD, or empty LEED “gold” commercial buildings that no one can afford to occupy.

    1. Matt Williams

      Good post Edison.

      For the record, I think it was someone else who cited the relatively low cost of leasing currently vacant commercial space in West Sacramento, Roseville and other locales, but that doesn’t change the fact that the point is a good one.

  14. Marina Kalugin

    actually, UCD is also leasing many of the Davis “commercial” properties as it is cheaper than building, and especially cheaper than building on campus

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