My View: We Don’t Need Radical Change, but We Do Need to Break Paralysis

Sunrise-MRIC

Contrary to some, I don’t see Davis in a renaissance, I see it in a slow and long decline.  My slowly evolving view begins in 2008, when it became quite apparent that the official council line that we had a balanced budget and a 15-percent reserve was not backed up with solid and supportable evidence.

What was clear to me then was that the city was not on solid fiscal ground.  We had unsustainable pensions.  We had a huge and growing unfunded liability for retiree health.  And we had a large and growing number of unmet needs.  This was evident before the great recession, but it became obvious to the community after the economy collapsed.

The economy has improved but we are by no means out of the woods.  If anything, the improving economy shows us to be in more trouble than we probably recognized during the recession.

The biggest fiscal problem that we face is that our unmet needs have continued to grow.  We have roads that – while we are funding them at $4 million per year, after years of fighting for some general fund dollars – need at least twice that amount.  We have made headway there, but the deferred maintenance is still over $100 million.

We have parks infrastructure that is badly underfunded, we have bike paths, sidewalks, greenbelts, sports facilities and city buildings that all need an influx of money.  We can quibble over the amount – earlier this week Matt Williams of the Finance and Budget Commission suggested the number was $655 million over 20 years, Mayor Robb Davis thinks it’s less.  Either way, it’s a lot of money that we do not currently have funding for.

One of the problems that Davis faces became obvious when we ran the per capita retail sales figures and found Davis was near the bottom in comparable cities.  Among cities near Davis, Woodland has twice the per capita retail sales, while Dixon and West Sacramento have more than three times the retail sales.

This is not a new problem.  When we have put together task forces – D-Side, the Innovation Parks Task Force, the Studio 30 Report – the lack of sales tax revenue has been found to be a key driver.  The plan sought to utilize the university as a driver of economic development. The notion of technology transfer takes research from the university and transfers it to the private sector, generating products that come from research, startups which become the basis for new companies, and jobs.  Ultimately, economic development will generate sales tax and property tax revenue for the local community.

The key was to create space with which to put not only startups but also companies wanting to move to the area to take advantage of a world class university.  Indeed, many companies are looking at places like Davis because, while we think our costs are high here, they are nothing compared to the Bay Area.

Unfortunately, the places where we identified those spaces are now all defunct.  Nishi was supposed to provide 300,000 square feet – it was defeated narrowly at the polls.  Financing issues, potential opposition, and difficult politics led to the demise of both peripheral research park locations, Davis Innovation Center (north of Sutter-Davis) and the Mace Ranch Innovation Center (east of Target).

We have lost out on opportunities to generate revenue to pay for our basic infrastructure needs and to continue vital city services.  Right now there seems to be no plan on how to replace that lost revenue potential.  Even parcel taxes and other tax revenue seem to be off the table.

Can we cut costs more?  That’s a difficult question.  In the last eight years we have seen the number of employees reduced by a quarter – nearly 100 employees.  And yet, because of increased costs, particularly for pensions and retiree health, while the city general fund has actually increased in that time, employee costs have gone way up.

Can we cut salary and benefits and still remain competitive to hire quality employees?  Can we do so without massive labor strife, since revenues are technically increasing (though slowly)?  Certainly we cannot cut half our general fund costs, so I think primarily we are looking at the revenue side of the equation.

I also think it bears looking further into our community’s spending power.  Jeff Boone in a letter notes the loss of some iconic Davis downtown stores.  It is important to recognize that we did not just lose tax revenue when the innovation parks and Nishi went away, we lost potential jobs to young professionals who would be coming into town and be the demographic that spends the most on retail.

We are suffering then, not just from lack of retail supply and leakage out of town, but also from loss of retail demand.  You cannot make that up with more taxes and cutting costs.

Mr. Boone writes, “Compared to all other comparable communities, Davis has about only about 50 percent of the supply of commercial retail property per capita. It is the law of supply and demand causing Davis commercial rents to escalate.”

He adds, “The lack of development also results in fewer professional jobs and a constrained housing supply, which in turn cause Davis to be under-represented in young professionals and young families — the demographic that spends the most money at retail locations.”

This leads him to conclude: “So our retailers get the double whammy… too few paying customers per capita and too high commercial rents. When the business numbers no longer pencil out, the business has to either find lower-cost space or else close down.”

I get accused of a lot of things on here.  This isn’t about changing the worldview radically.  I still am a slow-growther at heart.  I still believe in the preservation of agricultural land, a small and compact community surrounded by farmland.  I do not wish to see a bunch of big box stores proliferate in this town, a large sprawl of retail on our city edges, or swaths of tract homes where agricultural land can be.

I still believe we can preserve the city we have – but our current trajectory is strangling it.  If we do not act soon, this will not be, in ten years, the community we all love. We will not be able to provide the amenities, the services and basic infrastructure without some change.

It doesn’t have to be radical change.

The model of many of these research parks is modeled after a university – with high-tech building, open space and a campus-like set up.  The innovation parks would be an extension of the university into the private sector and that can be done on a limited amount of land in a way that fits with our broader community.

We don’t need to create a huge amount of new retail on our edge, we can be more efficient with the land we have.

And we don’t need to add large peripheral subdivisions, as long as we can find infill spots to house students who are growing in number.  The university can house a majority of the new growth, but that doesn’t mean we can’t add some of our own to take the stress off existing neighborhoods and the dwindling supply of single family homes.

I believe that, with a modest amount of change, we can preserve the greatness of this community, but not if we become paralyzed with inaction and allow the perfect to become the means to stop the good.

A growing number of people are frustrated that we are unable to get past this paralysis.  We can take modest steps to prevent the deterioration of this great community.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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109 Comments

  1. Misanthrop

    “I still am a slow-growther at heart.  I still believe in the preservation of agricultural land, a small and compact community surrounded by farmland.  I do not wish to see a bunch of big box stores proliferate in this town, a large sprawl of retail on our city edges, or swaths of tract homes where agricultural land can be.”

     

    Eight years later you are still singing the same song even though you know its a failed vision. Instead of taking on the gridlock monster, aka Measure R, you try to schmooze it with the same nonsense of infill that all the neighbors hate. All this does is perpetuate the gridlock that you claim to abhor. You seem to forget that there are many who find this gridlock preferable and couldn’t care less about the consequences.

    1. David Greenwald

      It’s failed vision to allow no growth at all, it’s not failed to have limitations on growth.

      “You seem to forget that there are many who find this gridlock preferable and couldn’t care less about the consequences.”

      On the contrary, that’s the purpose of the piece to present an alternative vision to the current paralysis.

      1. Frankly

        I agree with Misanthrop to a large degree here.  There is too much fatalism in this oft-repeated alternative vision of growth.

        I do not wish to see a bunch of big box stores proliferate in this town, a large sprawl of retail on our city edges, or swaths of tract homes where agricultural land can be.

        Several points come to mind…

        1. Farming is only one use of land.  Land around the periphery of a city experiencing real organic pressure to grow (as apposed to one where developers and speculators are proposing new building as a catalyst to growth) is valuable in its potential utility to the people of that city.  All Davis land currently developed was farmland at one time.  Central Park was farmland.  Look at the high utility derived from that land for the city.  Should we turn in back into farmland because that is the right thing to do?  That would be foolish.  Just as locking peripheral land into permanent agriculture easements is foolish.

        2. Fear of Big Box (FOBB).  Do you shop at Costco?  Target?  Home Depot? Walmart?  Office Max?  If you do then your criticism of big box stores is hypocritical… or at least an indication of cognitive dissonance.  Again, there is shopping utility that benefits the community members.   Getting hung up on some weird aesthetic twitch about larger stores is frankly quite silly.   Beautiful little Danville even has a Costco.

        3. “Sprawl” isn’t the issue here.  It is only a “Fear of Sprawl” (FOS).   Sprawl is a term that was coined to explain what happens to communities when they grow outside of the periphery in un-smart ways and then build to connect desperate developments in un-smart ways.  Sprawl characteristics are large housing tracts with strip malls and only car-traffic connectivity.   Peripheral growth done in a smart way is no more sprawl-like than is existing Davis development.

        4. Infill sucks.  We have learned beyond a shadow of a doubt that even those claiming to support a smaller and denser city over peripheral growth will buckle down in opposition to attempts to densify land in their backyard.  I could see this from miles away during the original debates about the innovation parks… those opposing them or questioning them over the use of farming and natural habitat making the claim that we should instead be focusing on infill.  Well they were either lying or proven incapable of projecting their true emotional response to infill.  Infill development causes a trigger of emotions that the average Davis resident is incapable of controlling.  There is no getting to a rational decision making point.  People get amped-up and then there is only going to be a binary fight of those demanding we nothing and those demanding we proceed with the project.

        5. Congestion sucks but irrational thinking about it sucks more.   I think Davis residents are sometimes incapable of compartmentalized thinking with respect to cause and effect.   They travel in town and note that it is more and more congested and then develop a sort of angry-position that we need to STOP GROWING.  And then they block development because it looks to them like growth.   But their real dislike is congestion.  And they are just irrational in their processes of this.  Congestion is relieved by expansion not by refusing to expand.

        There are neighborhoods in dense large cities that are very congested and then there are those that are not congested.  Congestion is simply a factor of where the people of that community and/or visitors from outside the community want or need to be.  In Davis we say we don’t support any peripheral retail development, and then we scream to block any infrastructure improvements to our mandated primary and only major retail location… our downtown… because we don’t want any more traffic there.  Did I mention “irrational”?

        1. Chamber Fan

          Frankly – I agree with many of your points, but you’re wrong on farming.  Farming land is the next world crisis.  With population growth and climate change, we can’t afford to lose productive farmland.  Re-think that view.

        2. Don Shor

          Fear of Big Box (FOBB). Do you shop at Costco? Target? Home Depot? Walmart?

          Nope.

          Office Max?

          Yes. They’re not “big box.” The store meets Davis store-size limits and is in an existing neighborhood shopping center. Also, Carousel went out of business. But it’s clear that online shopping is a huge threat to Office Max.

          Farming is only one use of land. Land around the periphery of a city experiencing real organic pressure to grow (as apposed to one where developers and speculators are proposing new building as a catalyst to growth) is valuable in its potential utility to the people of that city.

          You and I will never agree on the conservation of prime agricultural land. But it doesn’t mean I’m irrational. A sound land use policy would focus on less-prime land or sites that don’t engender development pressure, and that’s what the task force did. Peripheral sites have been identified for development. A couple of years ago I was pretty hopeful they might actually be moving forward by now. But now I don’t see that happening any time soon.

          Just as locking peripheral land into permanent agriculture easements is foolish.

          Ag easements and urban limit lines are valuable planning tools by which a community can choose the direction and nature of its growth. They are anything but foolish. They determine where development can and cannot occur. Simple as that. They don’t mean no-growth, slow-growth, or fast-growth. It all depends on how they are used.

        3. Frankly

          Frankly – I agree with many of your points, but you’re wrong on farming.  Farming land is the next world crisis.  With population growth and climate change, we can’t afford to lose productive farmland.  Re-think that view.

          Chamber Fan – It is in fact a myth that California is dealing with a scarcity of quality farmland.  California lacks the water access to farm all of it.  Millions of acres of farmland with high quality soil lays fallow because of the lack of water.  And ironically it is farming that uses most of the available water.  So our farming capacity issue is water not land.

          So, while we have so many acres lying fallow due to the lack of water, to continue to demand conservation of farmland over the use of the land that would actually benefit humanity is asinine.

          1. Don Shor

            Here we go again. Yolo and Solano counties do not lack for water for our farmland.
            And you could stop using terms like “asinine.”

        4. Chamber Fan

          Not sure how well versed you are on this issue.  California passed the Williamson Act which spends between $35 and $38 million per year to preserve farmland and yet California is losing roughly 50,000 acres of farmland a year to urbanization.

        5. Frankly

          Nope.

          Well you are weird then.  Because most do shop at big box.  Please admit that because you know it it be a fact… and that your are being disingenuous inserting your weirdness as a proxy for all NIMBY shopping behavior.

          They’re not “big box.” The store meets Davis store-size limits.

          Don, this is is a prime example of FOBB.   There isn’t any rational basis for this argument from you.  So the Davis big box chain store called Office Max has less square feet than another.  What the hell difference does that make?  Is is just your aesthetic twitch about size that bothers you?  Really, please explain what the difference is to the Davis DNA to have a smaller or larger national chain located in our city limits?   Because from my perspective your position here is completely irrational.

          You and I will never agree on the conservation of prime agricultural land. But it doesn’t mean I’m irrational. A sound land use policy would focus on less-prime land or sites that don’t engender development pressure, and that’s what the task force did. Peripheral sites have been identified for development. A couple of years ago I was pretty hopeful they might actually be moving forward by now. But now I don’t see that happening any time soon.

          Yes, they will not in part because of your pseudo religious principles about favoring the preservation of farmland above other land uses that would better serve our community and better benefit the human condition.

          1. Don Shor

            Why are you so consistently insulting on the Vanguard? It is unnecessary. You throw up straw man arguments, insult anyone who dares to disagree with you, make absurd leaps of logic about our comments. You personalize everything in the most ludicrous and offensive manner.
            I don’t get it. You’re a smart guy, but it’s really hard to talk to you.

          2. Don Shor

            By the most common definition, a big box retailer is anything with a square footage greater than 50,000. Usually it refers to four retailers: Walmart, Home Depot, Target, and Lowes. Though originally big box stores were about 80,000 sq. ft., most now are over 100,000 sq. ft.

            So the Davis big box chain store called Office Max has less square feet than another. What the hell difference does that make?

            It makes a huge difference in planning because of the impact larger stores have on existing neighborhood shopping centers and downtown retail by the way they change traffic patterns as well as via direct competition.

            your weirdness…NIMBY…aesthetic twitch…completely irrational….pseudo religious principles….

            Please stop using this kind of language.

        6. Frankly

          Here are the stats…

          http://www.farmlandinfo.org/statistics/california

          The sky-is-falling narrative about vanishing California farmland is a myth propagated by NIMBYs and others that are generally against development.

          Water is the issue.  And ironically (despite the myths of the NIMBY no-grower) is that it is farming that is consuming all the water.  There is too much farmland and not enough water.  Much of California is desert, arid and near-arid… including this area with less than 20″ of rain per year.

          Agriculture from a non ag-religion perspective.

          https://www.westernwatersheds.org/watmess/watmess_2002/2002html_summer/article6.htm

          By far the greatest impact on the American landscape comes not from urbanization but rather from agriculture. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, farming and ranching are responsible for 68 percent of all species endangerment in the United States.

          Agriculture is the largest consumer of water, particularly in the West. Most water developments would not exist were it not for the demand created by irrigated agriculture.

          If ultimate causes and not proximate causes for species extinction are considered, agricultural impacts would even be higher. Yet scant attention is paid by academicians, environmentalists, recreationists and the general public to agriculture’s role in habitat fragmentation, species endangerment and declining water quality.

          Developed and rural residential make up 139 million acres, or 6.1 percent of total land area in the U.S. This amount of land is not insignificant until you consider that we planted more than 80 million acres of feeder corn and another 75 million acres of soybeans (95 percent of which are consumed by livestock, not tofu eaters) last year alone. These two crops affect more of the land area of the U.S. than all the urbanization, rural residential, highways, railroads, commercial centers, malls, industrial parks and golf courses combined.

          Land use should demand a comprehensive consideration not blocking from myth-making.

           

          1. Don Shor

            Much of California is desert, arid and near-arid… including this area with less than 20″ of rain per year.

            Yolo and Solano Counties do not lack for water for our agriculture. We have stored water in Indian Valley Reservoir and Lake Berryessa, and sufficient groundwater.

        7. Frankly

          It makes a huge difference in planning because of the impact larger stores have on existing neighborhood shopping centers and downtown retail by the way they change traffic patterns as well as via direct competition

          Change traffic patterns?  What does that mean?  What are you talk about?  Change traffic patters?  So your problem with larger stores is that they change traffic patterns?

          Ok, now direct competition I get.  So are you just against existing stores having competition?

          You need to do better than this Don.  Why is a smaller Office Max less of a problem than a larger Office Max?  Their pricing is the same because they are both a chain.  Are you seriously going to make the case that the difference is changed traffic patterns?  If so, what difference would there be between a larger and smaller Office Max?  Or what about a smaller Office Max in a shopping center verses a larger one that is stand alone?

          Can’t you see why I pointing out the lack of rational thought here? It does not make any sense unless is is just aesthetic.

          What are the actual, material and measurable terrible differences between your larger Office Max, and the one that seems to meet your opinion of acceptable size?

          1. Don Shor

            Peripheral shopping centers direct traffic away from existing neighborhood shopping centers and downtown. That’s obvious. The drop in sales can be quite significant, and the impact is not just on those retailers directly competing with new ‘category-killers’ but also on the small stores nearby that benefited from the foot traffic and tangential sales. The retail development along eastern Woodland is contributing to the decline of the County Fair mall, just as the mall itself adversely affected downtown retail in Woodland over many years.
            A small OfficeMax in a neighborhood shopping center can help to strengthen that shopping center, just as a Big 5 can. Walmart on the edge of town decimates the neighborhood shopping center. That is the whole point of the store size limitation.
            It is not irrational. I again urge you to stop being insulting. It has nothing to do with aesthetics. It is a simple, well-documented effect that big-box retailers have on existing retail in a community. I don’t care if there’s an Office Max. I don’t care if Walmart wants to open small stores (they have done that). I don’t care if there’s a 35,000 sq. ft. Target store in an existing neighborhood shopping center. Yes, it is the size and the location that is the problem with Big Box.
            We’ve had this conversation many times before. Retailers are advised by industry consultants to expect a 30% loss of business in the first year that a big-box retailer opens if they have significant overlapping inventory. Whether or how they rebound from that varies, but it’s very difficult to do so. More often they have to adjust to the lower revenues, and many cannot. If they’re in a small neighborhood center, the whole center is affected as the shoppers go elsewhere. I have watched this play out in nearby communities.

        8. Frankly

          Don & Chamber fan – I am irritated with the narratives that give ammunition to those that block development.  I see cake and eating it too.  We cannot own an extreme demand to preserve farmland on our periphery and then complain that peripheral development is blocked.  We cannot exclaim our fear of sprawl and big box and then complain when peripheral development is blocked.  We cannot demand that all of our aesthetic demands for keeping the lots behind our back yards free from taller buildings and then complain that we are getting more traffic and car use.

          These are irrational positions in my view.  It is trying to have cake and eat it too.

          What we need to do in stead is all start supporting SMART development and stop with the fear arguments.

          1. Don Shor

            That picture was taken in 2011. Despite that lake level, at no time during the recent, historic drought, did Solano Irrigation District cut back on their water deliveries to farmers. At the bottom of the drought (2014) Indian Valley allotments were withheld. That was an unusual event. Farmers turned to groundwater, and some fallowed their land. That doesn’t happen often here, and with the cities no longer pumping groundwater it is likely that conjunctive use of surface water and groundwater will allow farmers to plant in all but the worst drought years.
            Yolo and Solano counties do not lack for water for our farmers.
            Your points about California’s aridity ignores the vast plumbing of our water system, and is also largely irrelevant to farming in our region.

        9. Don Shor

          ….locking peripheral land into permanent agriculture easements is foolish.

           Peripheral growth done in a smart way is no more sprawl-like than is existing Davis development.

           Let me give you an example of how good land use planning, coupled with urban limit lines and conservation easements, could work (be “done in a smart way”). Let’s say we’re looking at a 30+-year planning horizon.

          There are several parcels of farmland north of the Covell Village site that, taken together, would connect the east side of Northstar with the west side of Wildhorse.

          Much of the soil in that area is Pescadero clay. As anyone living on that side of Northstar can tell you, it’s heavy, drains poorly, and is not prime agricultural land.

          The property to the north on the east side has non-conforming uses such as the paintball and go-kart club and a solar test site. It might be suitable for a sports facility.

          Annexing and developing those parcels would be perfectly logical from a land-use planning standpoint. It is basically peripheral (especially if you assume that the Covell Village site will be developed some day).

          Since it would create development pressure on the land immediately to the north, an urban limit line could be drawn that would take that out of development for a fixed, long period of time. Land even further north could be put into ag easements to permanently fix the northern border of the city at that point, helping to create a greenbelt between Davis and Woodland.

          This isn’t pro-growth, fast-growth, or slow-growth. Nothing in this dictates the pace of development. Fast growth would be annexing and developing it all at once. Slow growth would be phasing it in. It’s simply planned development over many decades, using simple planning tools, with sound land use principles intact.

          This is not “irrational.” It’s a process of planning and developing guided by values that include conservation.   

          If the adjacent sites are prime agricultural land, or important wildlife habitat, or sometimes just a particularly popular view, then the limit lines and conservation easements are even more important.

          I could see a scenario where land along Chiles Rd in South Davis gets consideration for some development purposes, and where land due east of El Macero Estates (the part in the city, not El Macero itself) gets proposed for housing expansion.

          That is all prime ag land. A compromise could include annexation of some land for housing, annexation along Chiles for commercial development and a sports park, an urban limit line to the south, and conservation easements beyond that. There’s one major landowner down there that might be willing to make that kind of a deal. It would be a fight, because it would involve annexing some of the best farmland in the world. But as I said, it could be a compromise, and it could be done in a way that reflects the values of conservation while allowing some development.

          In effect, the deal would be ‘we’ll allow this much, but no more’. Developers know where they can build. Home buyers know what’s likely to go in next door. Land is conserved, but housing and commercial development is allowed.  This is not “irrational.”

        10. Frankly

          THAT… Is not irrational.  Thanks for the picture and ideas.  I think the dialog needs to change from what should not do to what we should do.  Like you have written here.

          My perspective is one where Davis needs to expand and so all adjacent peripheral land is valuable for development consideration.

          I would not support, and do not support, development of prime farmland outside the adjacent periphery and any more than we need to catch up to what can be considered a healthy standard inventory of commercial, residential and retail properties.

          I get very irritated with arguments to take options off the table when are so far out of balance.

        11. Tia Will

          Frankly

          Do you shop at Costco?  Target?  Home Depot? Walmart? “-  No

          Office Max – rarely, and only since the local stationers went out of business.

          “Sprawl” isn’t the issue here.  It is only a “Fear of Sprawl”

          This was the same mantra being sung by the developers in Orange County as they steadily destroyed orchards and strawberry fields saying that there were so many that it made no sense to preserve them……until there were essentially none left to preserve.

          But their real dislike is congestion”

          It is you who have recently cited your dislike of congestion with several posts about irritation with longer waits. There is a relatively simple mitigation for congestion. There is little congestion for bikes, and none at all for pedestrians. One has only to re organize their life so as to avoid discretionary car trips or to choose to make them during less congested times. Except for those who are mobility limited…but I truly believe that this is not the problem. Our never ending love of our cars and our convenience is the real underlying problem here.

           

      1. Frankly

        Already asked that question but Mike does not have any ideas or else he keeps them to himself.

        Frankly (because I am), since Mike is such a smart guy I know he knows that there is not any feasible path in cutting more spending to achieving a balanced budget… but it is a great deflection tool for his no-growth stance.

  2. Biddlin

    You offer nothing, David,

    “And we don’t need to add large peripheral subdivisions, as long as we can find infill spots to house students who are growing in number. ” Are students the only one’s who need more housing in Davis? No. You, yourself acknowledge, ” the dwindling supply of single family homes.”  As you well know, housing needs can change unexpectedly, but in Davis, a growing family is usually SOL if they want to stay in town. Several very “modest” proposals have been shot down in the past few months by the usual fear mongering and intimidation tactics of the preservationists. What they are preserving, of course is their strangle hold on Davis’ future.

  3. Ron

    From article:  “. . . and the dwindling supply of single family homes.”

    David, have you visited The Cannery, lately?  I did, earlier this week.  I recall that the builder that I visited told me that they’ve sold about 1/3 of their lots/homes.  I did not check with other builders, but the development is nowhere near complete.

    How much of the “workforce housing” (including single-family homes) at the (soon-to-be-constructed) Chiles Ranch are “available” (or soon will be)?  How about the soon-to-be-constructed Grande development? (And, at West Village?)

    How many more should be built, before you acknowledge that the supply is increasing, not decreasing?

    And again, affordability is a different subject.  Housing costs are rising everywhere.  And costs will remain higher in Davis (compared to surrounding communities).

    1. David Greenwald

      Ron,

      When I said dwindling supply, I am referring to the fact that more and more single-family homes are being converted into rental units and mini dorms. The projects that you are citing bring in perhaps 600 to 700 sfh’s but I don’t think that’s even keeping pace with the rate of conversion let alone supplying the next wave of housing for professionals and UC employees.

      1. Grok

         but I don’t think that’s even keeping pace with the rate of conversion

        This seems beyond unlikely. If you have evidence to show this, please offer it.

        The Cannery is advertising in the Bay Area, I assume that’s because the local demand has not been strong enough, or at least local demand for that type of housing at the prices they are asking has not been strong enough.

        1. Matt Williams

          Grok, demand is sensitive to price (the price elasticity of demand). The Cannery has priced its residences in the $400 per square foot range (often higher than $400) and the Davis demand has said “our demand is not that elastic” or “that price per square foot is out of our price range”  If Cannery were pricing its residences in the originally proposed $325-$340 per square foot range many of the current Davis residents who currently can’t afford to buy in the Cannery would say “that 15% to 20% price reduction makes a Cannery home a lot more affordable.  It may actually be in our price range.”

        2. Chamber Fan

          That didn’t seem like what you were hinting at.  It seemed more like you were questioning a claim that we were losing SFHs faster than we were building them.  The evidence that Matt presented suggests that the problem might not be need and demand, but price.  The problem you have is you can get a house in South Woodland (AKA North North Davis) for far less and not that much more in the way of commute time, so why wouldn’t you do that?

        3. Matt Williams

          Grok, that wasn’t what I heard you hinting at.  What I heard you hinting at was that the demand for housing that David and others were arguing exists in Davis was/is a figment of their imagination.

          So to be clear, you agree that there is substantial housing demand in Davis, but that it is sensitive to pricing, and the Cannery chose to set its prices at a level above the existing Davis housing demand’s willingness to pay.  Is that accurate?

        4. Grok

          Matt, my statement was not so cryptic. It  acknowledges that I am only talking about a softness in demand for the type of housing at the asked price in the Cannery. I am sure there would be substantial demand for housing in Davis at a low enough price. There is a state wide housing shortage after all. Exactly what that price is, and what substantial means probably need to be better defined.

          Interestingly Davis was recently named the best school district for your buck (cost of living) in California. https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/studies/best-school-districts-california-2015/ So at least by that measure it would be hard to argue that homes are over priced. Of course there are lots of other measure that could be used.

          I think what Ron was trying to point out, and what I am supporting is there should be an accurate assessment of what the supply is, and that David has not done so here and that his numbers are a low ball. Inaccurate numbers are not that helpful.

          Demand is probably a little harder to measure but I don’t doubt there is demand. I think the bigger questions are how big is the demand. How persistent is the demand. And what price range is the demand willing to bare for what type of housing. We have already seen that maybe the Cannery is outside that range.

           

        5. Matt Williams

          Grok, your statement and Chamber Fan’s are two peas in a pod.  You each let your rhetoric get ahead of you.  You made a bold statement calling Cannery out, and then added some fine print as an after thought. I suspect most people never read past your word “enough.”  You have very finely developed skills at creating sound bytes/bites. “I assume that’s because the local demand has not been strong enough” was worthy of your No On Measure A Facebook memes.  It was a PR statement, pure and simple . . . with a trap door included just in case you needed a speedy exit.  Chamber Fan is an amateur, while you are a professional.  As I said to Ron earlier, my reading of what he said (which you have very faithfully and accurately quoted) was that Chamber Fan let his passion and frustration overtake his reason.  Here is what I said to Ron.  With some minor adjustments it could have been addressed to you as well.

          Ron, yes I did miss that post by Chamber Fan, and I can see how your black/white interpretation of his words is consistent with the Manechean approach you frequently take.  I can also see a significant amount of both sarcasm and frustration (you’ve been there and done that) with the either/or approach you and Grok and Eileen take to the exclusion of a both/and approach.  Chamber Fan has consistently argued for both/and, so this momentary slip into your world of either/or is pretty much an anomaly.

          With that said, your point is acknowledged and understood.  His/her words can certainly be interpreted the way you have interpreted them.

        6. Grok

          Matt.

          Just because you don’t like the material from the No on A campaign because you supported Measure A, doesn’t make it dishonest or untrue. I can understand how you are bitter, after supporting a loosing Measure and getting thoroughly beaten in the city council election. If you had been a vocal opponent of A you probably would have won, but I respect that you didn’t alter your views just for political expediency. Better to run on your honest views even if they are out of sync with the city and loose, than to be dishonest – I respect that.

          The fact is I posted a balanced statement about demand for housing in the Cannery acknowledging that demand would change at a lower price, or if it were a different type of housing. the fact that Cannery homes have been slow to sell and the company has been advertising in the bay area says a lot about the demand for housing in the Davis housing market.

        7. Matt Williams

          Grok, you misunderstand.  I thought the No on Measure A Facebook material was a stroke of genius.  In my opinion it was the difference maker in the election outcome.  Was it politically hyperbolic?  Absolutely.  Lots of material produced in hotly contested political campaigns is hyperbolic.  Was any of it dishonest or untrue.  I personally do not think so, despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth of many people who posted in the comments section of the Enterprise.

          When have you seen me ever post a single comment that was either explicitly or implicitly bitter about the Measure A outcome.  I was very clearly on record that both “No” and “Yes” were very bad choices.  It never, never should have been placed on the ballot as a choice for the voters to make.  Nothing has changed my viewpoint on that.  Nothing will.

          Your “thoroughly beaten” perspective on the Council election is interesting.  Just after the election I went to the Election Results Archive and did an analysis of all the Council elections since 2000.  In that time period there were 52 total candidates. My vote total was 13th out of those 52 and the 12 candidates above me were all elected, and 9 of the 10 candidates whose vote totals were the next ones below mine all got elected.  Bottom-line, the fiscal responsibility and overall process reliability/transparency message that was the core of my campaign resonated with a large percentage of Davis.  That was the synchronization with the city residents I was seeking.  Your memes were entertaining.  The comments posted on your No on Measure A Facebook page were enlightening.  They gave voice to the sentiments of voters.  That is how democracy works.  The fact that Davis has several hundreds of millions of dollars of unfunded liabilities (an updated number will be coming from City Staff in the near future, so I won’t repeat the one that is currently on record) is not entertaining.

        8. Matt Williams

          Grok said . . . “The fact is I posted a balanced statement about demand for housing in the Cannery acknowledging that demand would change at a lower price, or if it were a different type of housing. the fact that Cannery homes have been slow to sell and the company has been advertising in the bay area says a lot about the demand for housing in the Davis housing market.”

          I personally don’t agree that your comment was balanced.  A balanced statement would have flipped the structure so it read something like the following:   The Cannery is advertising in the Bay Area, I assume that’s because their high, above-market prices for the type of housing they are offering has produced a suppressed local demand that has not been strong enough for their liking.

          I also realize that my opinion on how balanced your statement was and whether you intended it to be a sound byte is simply opinion on my part, and as opinion, it isn’t going to be agreed with by everyone.   Its just my personal take.

        9. Grok

          So your impugning my integrity based on the order of ideas in a single sentence, but you agree the components of a fair and balanced statement are included in the sentence.

          Alternatively I would suggest it is a very fair and balanced statement.

      2. Grok

        The projects that you are citing bring in perhaps 600 to 700 sfh’s 

        West Village alone is adding 624 students this fall.

        In the near future housing for an additional 475 faculty and staff will be added in West Village too.

        Your 600-700 sfh’s number is just not real.

         

        1. Chamber Fan

          Too many assertions.  I believe the 600 to 700 were in the city, by my reading, not including UCD.  But UCD is only adding 500 SFH’s in ten years, so it’s not like there’s going to be a glut on the market.

        2. Grok

          Don, UCD also added 500 beds at Trecero for this fall, so they actually added a total of 1,124 new beds this year. I was only talking about West Village because that was one of the areas Ron specifically mentioned above, and seemed to be ignored by David when he under counted how much new housing is coming on line.

          ChamberF – Like I said to Don, I brought up West Village because Ron mentioned it specifically and David ignored it. It will likely be built much quicker than the 10 year time frame you suggest. Part of it is projected to begin construction within the year. This part of West Village was approved in the last LRDP, so it does not to go through the LRDP approval process again to begin construction.

          Don’t get me wrong, I think UCD should do much more. I am particularly galled by their lower density housing proposals when we are looking at building 6 story student housing in the City. At the same time it just makes no sense to under count what UCD is actually doing when assessing the housing situation in Davis.

        3. Chamber Fan

          Grok – My point is that they may well built in less than ten years, but according to the LRDP that’s all they are going to build.  The combined plan for faculty and staff housing in the city and at UCD – even if most of the houses in the city go to employees of UCD, which I doubt – is less than what UCD is planning to add

        4. Ron

          Chamber Fan:

          Since you’re one of the commenters who has repeatedly expressed concerns over the University’s enrollment plans, I’ll assume that you’re also planning to attend one of the three scheduled meetings that the University has arranged, to gather additional community input regarding their unsettled/draft housing plans.  (Or, that you have otherwise expressed your concerns to the University.)

        5. Chamber Fan

          You’re pretty presumptuous.  My view is that the university has done their share and that it’s time for the city to step up.  Perhaps I’ll write Mayor Davis with that viewpoint.

        6. Grok

          ChamberF. maybe you should go take a nap or something. “your point” is a point that I already made above in the very post you seem to want to argue with. UCD is not doing enough.

          I agree with Ron, you should come to the 3 input meetings for the LRDP and encourage UCD to build more housing. Please post a copy of your letter to UCD here on the Vanguard.

        7. Ron

          Chamber Fan:

          Really?  I’d suggest that you’re in the minority (but perhaps not on the Vanguard), and that folks like you are the reason that the University that the city will have to deal with large-scale housing development proposals that stretch city resources and impact neighborhoods within city limits (and perhaps beyond).

          I think I can see where the problem lies, now.

          And Grok, I’d suggest that you re-read Chamber Fan’s post. I think you misunderstood it.

        8. Grok

          I am going to have a hard time taking anyone seriously on the dire needs to build more housing in Davis unless they submit comments to UCD asking for more on campus housing. Davis residents are being asked to have 6 story student housing built immediately adjacent to their 1 story residences while UCD only plans to build 4 story buildings on their 5,000+ acre campus.

        9. Ron

          Chamber Fan:

          The University’s plans to increase enrollment are the primary driver for growth/development (and are also the primary excuse for those who have been “waiting in the wings” for a reason to challenge Davis’ slow growth plans).

          And, residents are left to “dance” to the University’s (draft) plans, without actually being a full partner in those plans.  (I recall that another commenter once said, when the University says “jump”, folks like you say, “how high”?)

        10. Chamber Fan

          Ron:  So what?  You’re saying we don’t benefit from the university?

          Grok: Again, you are focused only on the university.  I think the city should accommodate students with additional housing.

        11. Matt Williams

          Grok, I haven’t seen Chamber Fan say he/she “won’t ask the University to do more.”  In fact I have very clearly seen him/her say that the University should absolutely be asked to do more . . . and expected to do more.

        12. Ron

          Matt:

          Here is what Chamber Fan said (above):

          “You’re pretty presumptuous.  My view is that the university has done their share and that it’s time for the city to step up.  Perhaps I’ll write Mayor Davis with that viewpoint.”

          Seems pretty clear to me, that Chamber Fan will NOT be asking the University to do more, and is suggesting something almost entirely opposite (possibly to the mayor).

          I’m not sure how we can discuss more complex issues online, if you can’t even see this. (Perhaps you missed the comment?)

          Of course, Chamber Fan is free to express whatever views he/see chooses to do.

        13. Matt Williams

          Ron, yes I did miss that post by Chamber Fan, and I can see how your black/white interpretation of his words is consistent with the Manechean approach you frequently take.  I can also see a significant amount of both sarcasm and frustration (you’ve been there and done that) with the either/or approach you and Grok and Eileen take to the exclusion of a both/and approach.  Chamber Fan has consistently argued for both/and, so this momentary slip into your world of either/or is pretty much an anomaly.

          With that said, your point is acknowledged and understood.  His/her words can certainly be interpreted the way you have interpreted them.

        14. Ron

          And, as usual, Matt finds a way to impugn my character, to cover-up his oversight (while suggesting that I’m responsible for Chamber Fan’s response, and simultaneously suggesting that Chamber Fan “didn’t mean it”).  I’m used to this from Matt, so it doesn’t particularly bother me.

          🙂

        15. Grok

          Matt,

          ChamberF does say he doesn’t think UCD should be asked to do more.

          My view is that the university has done their share and that it’s time for the city to step up.  -ChamberF

        16. Grok

          Grok: Again, you are focused only on the university.  I think the city should accommodate students with additional housing. – ChamberF

          Actually I am more focused on the fact that you are unwilling to ask the University to build more student housing. I am telling you that unless you do I can’t take you seriously as an advocate for student housing.

        17. Matt Williams

          Grok, I am very clearly on record with UCD’s Planning Department as wanting UCD to build more housing. Further, I am on record that I want UCD to comply with their commitment in the 2002 UC Housing Taskforce.  I have been on record that way continuously each and every year since 2008.  Yes, I will be attending all three meetings. I look forward to listening to thir presentations and reading their materials.

        18. Matt Williams

          Ron said . . .  “And, as usual, Matt finds a way to impugn my character, to cover-up his oversight (while suggesting that I’m responsible for Chamber Fan’s response, and simultaneously suggesting that Chamber Fan “didn’t mean it”).  I’m used to this from Matt, so it doesn’t particularly bother me.”

          Ron, I didn’t impugn your character.  I simply said you prefer to live in a binary world.

        19. Ron

          Matt:

          You’re labeling me in a simplistic manner (as you’ve done with others), and apparently you don’t like to admit oversights.  Oversights are usually not a big deal, but instead of simply acknowledging them and moving on (without commenting on what you see as the “character” or “tendencies” of the other commenter) appears to be a deflection.

          A more confident response is to simply acknowledge when you’re wrong about something (which usually isn’t a big deal, anyway).  No one is right all the time.

        20. Matt Williams

          Ron, what is it about my words “Ron, yes I did miss that post by Chamber Fan” that isn’t an open, transparent and clear admission of my oversight.  Further those were the very first nine words of my comment.  Those words of admission weren’t buried in the comment, they were up front right at the beginning for everyone to see, read, digest and cogitate.

          How would you have recrafted the words of that admission to be more clear?

        21. Ron

          Matt:  “How would you have recrafted the words of that admission to be more clear?”

          I wouldn’t have included the statement, below.  I recall that you included something like this previously, when you overlooked the word “unless” regarding our communications regarding the TOT.  So, rather than simply acknowledging an oversight, you chose to make statements regarding your opinion of my views (and imply that I caused Chamber Fan to “momentarily slip”). You also attempt to “paint/categorize” some other commenters with the same “broad brush”, regarding their views.

          You also mentioned my “interpretation” of Chamber Fan’s statement, which was actually pretty clear.

          From Matt:  “I can see how your black/white interpretation of his words is consistent with the Manechean approach you frequently take.  I can also see a significant amount of both sarcasm and frustration (you’ve been there and done that) with the either/or approach you and Grok and Eileen take to the exclusion of a both/and approach.  Chamber Fan has consistently argued for both/and, so this momentary slip into your world of either/or is pretty much an anomaly.”

          “With that said, your point is acknowledged and understood.  His/her words can certainly be interpreted the way you have interpreted them.”

        22. Matt Williams

          Ron, your response above captures the difference between you and me very well.  Most of what you are discussing is about feelings.  In all my posts I work hard to eliminate any feelings, preferring to walk down a more academic, dispassionate line.  Eliminating the words you have suggested guts the response of its academic content and leaves it as simply a feelings post.

          As an academic exercise I will go back to your past posts over the last 60 days where you have unilaterally admitted that you have let your feelings bubble over in the heat of the battle you were waging with whichever poster at the time.  I only made that reference to encourage you to walk in Chamber Fan’s shoes.

          Bottom-line, I’ve gotten to the point where I expect you to always be waging a battle, treating dialogue as a competition.  Since I have virtually no reason to battle, and don’t see dialogue on the Vanguard (and in the broader Davis community) as a competition, I find myself responding to your posts less and less.  That is too bad, but it is what it is.

        23. Ron

          Matt:   “Eliminating the words you have suggested guts the response of its academic content and leaves it as simply a feelings post.”

          Uh, huh.  (“academic content” – stated with a “straight face”, I guess.)

          It has nothing to do with “feelings”.  It’s simply a matter of acknowledging a simple (and in this case unimportant) oversight, and moving on without attempting to turn things back on someone who pointed out an error.

          I’d suggest that you’re engaging in a “unilateral” battle, at the moment.  I have no interest in it, or “feelings” about it.

           

           

        24. Matt Williams

          No battle Ron, just responding to you each time you respond to me.  I was trained by my grandmother that that is the courteous thing to do in a conversation.

          The only person I turned anything back on was Chamber Fan, the very person you and Grok were attacking.

          You have a very different discourse method than I do. That is crystal clear.

        25. Chamber Fan

          Wow, didn’t realize there was a long conversation continuing in my absence.  Just clarify here, I don’t feel attacked but definitely feel misrepresentation.  My view is that UCD has already agreed to do more, but the city and in particular certain people who post here a lot – Grok, Ron, and Eileen – are not willing to do more in the city.  They want to put this all on the university.  I don’t agree with that approach, I see the university and city as having a symbiotic relationship and therefore if the university expands, we should accommodate some of that growth with housing.

        26. Ron

          Chamber Fan:

          I’m glad that you didn’t feel “attacked”.

          I can’t speak for Eileen or Grok, but perhaps I can clarify my position a little further.

          I’m not against all potential residential development, in the city.  However, I don’t support making drastic changes to current city zoning based solely on the University’s plans to increase enrollment, without adequately addressing the needs of its own students.  Also, as noted above, the University’s housing plans are in draft form, and they are still seeking input from the community.  Although the University has been somewhat more responsive lately, they have not been fully cooperative (or collaborative) with the community, regarding their plans.  It seems that they don’t view the city as a true “partner”.

           

        27. Matt Williams

          I’m amazed that you can say that with a straight face Ron.  You and Grok are the second most effective tag team on the Vanguard (only surpassed by David and Highbeam).  Sometimes I think Toscanini orchestrates the two of you.  Thanks for the humor.

        28. Ron

          Matt:  I’m quite serious about my response.  City planning and zoning (and the impacts of proposed developments which require significant changes to accommodate them) is not a “joke”, to me, especially in a relatively dense/compact city such as Davis.  (I hope it’s not a “joke”, to you.)  And, I’m not sure if I ever even met “Grok”.

          Also, it appears that the zoning changes which are being discussed (e.g., to accommodate large-scale apartment complexes) will not make a positive contribution towards the city’s already-challenging financial situation, to say the least.

        29. Matt Williams

          Ron said . . . “Also, it appears that the zoning changes which are being discussed (e.g., to accommodate large-scale apartment complexes) will not make a positive contribution towards the city’s already-challenging financial situation, to say the least.”

          That is a very interesting and forceful statement Ron.  What evidence do you have to support that position?  To the best of my knowledge not a single member of FBC has seen financial statements/projections for either Sterling or Lincoln 40.  Have you seen financial statements/projections for either of those projects?

        30. Grok

          Grok, Ron, and Eileen – are not willing to do more in the city.

          I think you will have a hard time finding posts from me to support this. i cant speak for Ron and Eileen.

    2. Matt Williams

      Ron, in order to be in compliance with the City of Davis’ 1% Growth Cap Ordinance, no more than 260-280 building permits can be issued in a calendar year, which means, that even if there were no other building permits being issues for non-Cannery addresses, New Homes would have to (under the provisions of the Ordinance) space out the building of their units over a full two years.

      The 2015 Annual Housing Element Progress Report filed with the California Department of Housing and Community Development shows a total of 105 building permits were issued for new residential units. 9 of the 105 were for Secondary Units and 2 were for Apartment Units, leaving 94 as Above Moderate SFRs.  The report does not break those out by location, so it is not possible to know (from the report) how many building permits Cannery pulled in 2015, but I will track down that information early next week.

      Of course we all know that The Cannery isn’t the only organization filing for building permits, and for every non-Cannery building permit applied for, the annual 260-280 Cap number available to Cannery is reduced by one.  The following projects represent 198 units that have either pulled building permits in 2016 or will pull building permits in 2017.

      Del Rio Live Work – 16
      Mission Residences – 14
      Villages at Willowcreek – 35
      213-217 C Street – 2

      416-420 J St Residences – 4
      Berry Bridge Cottages – 8
      Creekside Apartments – 72
      Grande Subdivision – 41
      Paso Fino Subdivision – 6

      1. Ron

        Matt:

        That is interesting information, and I didn’t realize that New Homes had to “space out” their construction over two years.

        However, when I dropped by there earlier this week (and visited one builder), I was told that there were some (relatively?) “quick move-in” homes.  I’m not sure what that meant.  However, the bottom line seems to be that if one has sufficient funds, homes are available in The Cannery.  And, there are what I’d describe as lower-cost townhouses in The Cannery, as well.  (I didn’t check availability of those.)  There are also houses with “extra” units, that can be (and apparently are) rented out.  (Should help offset the cost of purchase, for some buyers.)

        In general, I’ve noticed that builders seem to wait until they have interested buyers, before constructing large numbers of units.  (Not just in Davis.)  This seems to be a change from previous practices, when large numbers of units were built, prior to sale.

        Sort of like stores not carrying too much inventory, these days.

        1. Ron

          Matt:

          Now that you brought it up, how would an apartment complex (with large numbers of units available simultaneously) be accounted for, under the 1% growth cap that you mentioned?  Just wondering. (Your example above discussed individual building permits, in relation to the 1% cap.)

        2. Matt Williams

          Ron, I have a request in to the City for the Ordinance language.  When I get that, I will be able to give you an informed answer.

          How do you believe they should be accounted for?

        3. Ron

          Matt:

          Thank you.  In reference to your two questions above:

          1.  I believe I had heard about the 1% growth cap previously (but had forgotten about it). Therefore, I appreciate the reminder.

          2.  If it doesn’t include apartment complexes, I’d suggest that we don’t actually have a 1% growth cap.

           

        4. Matt Williams

          Ron, your statement 2. is very interesting.  Why do you believe that?

          Remember, that the 1% Growth cap was enacted by Council in 2008 (somewhat in conjunction with the Housing Element Steering Committee process), based on the realities that existed at that time.

        5. Ron

          Matt:

          If you have a policy which states that growth (meaning an increase in the number of housing units) is capped at 1% per year, it’s meaningless if particular types of housing (e.g., large-scale apartment complexes) are excluded from that policy.

           

           

        6. Matt Williams

          Ron, what you appear to be saying is that every single unit should be counted against the Cap and that affordable units should specifically not be excluded?  Am I hearing you correctly?

          Do you think the Cap should have hard annual boundaries?

        7. Ron

          Matt:

          Not sure why you’re asking this series of questions, but here’s my response.

          If some units are excluded, then it’s not a 1% cap by definition.  You’re now asking me if there “should” be an exclusion for affordable housing?  My response is that I’m not sure, and that it might depend on the circumstances.  In any case, I would not support an exclusion for market-rate housing (including apartment units).

          Regarding “hard” annual numbers, that seems to inflexible, due to the nature of construction. (I suspect that you were making such a point, by asking me.) Perhaps it’s an average, over some period of time?

          Since you’re asking my opinion, what’s your opinion? Also, if affordable housing is not “excluded”, might you support giving a priority to affordable housing (over market rate housing)? (Just another possible scenario.)

          I’ll try to watch for your response, when you find out additional information regarding the actual ordinance.  Thanks for looking into it.

        8. Matt Williams

          I am asking you the questions so that the dialogue is balanced, with thoughts and ideas and interactions coming in equal parts from the participants.

          My own belief about boundaries is that they absolutely should be hard and annual . . . and there should very specifically be no rollover (or catch up) provisions from year to year.

          For example, the following set of annual building permit numbers are from the 2015 Annual Housing Element Progress Report filed by the City of Davis with the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

          2015 – 105

          2014 – 13

          2013 – 54

          2012 – 188

          2011 – 122

          2010 – 21

          2009 – 27

          2008 – 27

          2007 – 43

          2006 – 104

          2005 – 250

          If the Annual 1% Cap “standard” number is 250, with hard annual caps with no rollover each year would have a Cap of 250.  However with rollover (or averaging provisions) the 146 “unused” building permits from 2005 would be added to the “standard” 250 from 2006 and make the actual Cap number for 2006 equal to 396.  The kind of averaging you have proposed would produce similar consequences.

          2015 – 0

          2014 – 4

          2013 – 10

          2012 – 12

          2011 – 74

          2010 – 0

          2009 – 0

          2008 – 3

          2007 – 11

          2006 – 59

          2005 – 78

          Note: those Affordable units are not in addition to the Total Units numbers, but rather are included in those Total Units numbers.

  4. Edison

    David makes many good points, as do others. Housing affordability is a challenge everywhere. KCRA (Channel 3) had a story on Friday about the pace of apartment construction in Sacramento not being anywhere close to meeting the demand, so as a result rents have risen quite a bit since a year ago. A number of the new renters are coming from the Bay Area, so they find Sac region rents are a bargain in comparison.  In terms of the Cannery, I’ve heard (second-hand) that a leading local Realtor thinks many of the Cannery buyers are likewise from the Bay Area; I think the single family homes there are expensive, but again, they probably seem like a bargain to those living in the Bay Area.

    In terms of the Nishi project, I might have been inclined to vote for the project if it had been solely comprised of an innovation park.  The housing component was troublesome to me, particularly because the developer was overtly targeting students.  I was offended by the constant barrage of students calling me on the phone and going door-to-door in our neighborhood. I’m no expert in political campaigns, but I think the project proponents may have made a mistake by deploying so many students. Many of us feel we pay enough in state and local taxes as it is to support students, the UC system, and the demands on our infrastructure created by the students.

    Yes, Davis needs more retail, but that is also a challenge in this age of internet shopping. During the past year I’ve purchased hiking boots, backpacks, hiking shorts, rain jackets, parkas and even hiking socks on line because no local store (not even REI in Sacramento) had what I wanted.  I got free shipping and did not need to waste time and gasoline driving from store to store. True, the items came on a UPS truck, but that truck has a regular route in our neighborhood and would be driving past my house anyway.  (Plus, the UPS truck runs on CNG.) I can usually time the truck’s arrival within a 30-minute time span.

    Yes, there are many challenges in Davis, but I don’t think there are any perfect solutions. I’ve been an advocate for zero population growth since the early 1970s and still am. I can’t think of many benefits that accrued from the doubling of the world population from 3 billion to 6 billion in the 35 years between 1964 and 1999. California might have remained a great place to live if that had not happened. I’m not necessarily saying all of the problems in Davis would be less severe if the state population and UC’s enrollment had not increased so much, but those problems might at least be a little more solvable.

    1. Topcat

      I’ve been an advocate for zero population growth since the early 1970s and still am. I can’t think of many benefits that accrued from the doubling of the world population from 3 billion to 6 billion in the 35 years between 1964 and 1999. California might have remained a great place to live if that had not happened.

      Yes, I share your view that human population growth is leading to many problems.  It’s interesting that the environmental community seems to be so oblivious to the long term consequences of population growth.

      1. Ron

        Topcat:  “It’s interesting that the environmental community seems to be so oblivious to the long term consequences of population growth.”

        This is something I’ve noticed, as well. At times, I’ve suspected that they’ve been reluctant to acknowledge or address the concern, due to political considerations. It’s caused me to question the direction/goals, of some of these groups.

        1. Misanthrop

          The three posts above about population growth strike at the heart of the problem with the if we don’t build it they won’t come anti-field of dreams approach to Davis planning. Davis is not some isolated enclave, we are the host community to a major university that produces high quality graduates bearing diplomas that add value to the people earning them. Standing there with your fingers in the d_ke isn’t going to change the macro-economic realities driving the growth of this community. All you are doing is making it harder on people who want to come here. By denying these realities on the local level and not building the infrastructure needed you are playing development whack-a-mole with its additional negative environmental impacts.

          As for the water versus arable land debate between Frankly and Don again its macro versus micro. The locals have enough water but the water can be moved elsewhere if there is a surplus because we develop land here for other uses. I believe Conaway Ranch is already selling water to other areas. So Frankly is correct, the limiting factor in ag commodity production is water, arguing otherwise is absurd. Arguing that arable farmland is limiting is a myth in the Central Valley of California. As you drive down the valley the signs don’t say no land no food they say no water no food.

          1. Don Shor

            Yes. Sell our water down the valley. Great plan. I find it amazing that anybody here could actually advocate that with a straight face.
            We have enough water for our farmers. We should not sell our water rights elsewhere.

            The locals have enough water but the water can be moved elsewhere if there is a surplus because we develop land here for other uses.

            Conaway Ranch would be selling Sacramento River water down the valley. That isn’t where Yolo or Solano county farmers get their water, except for a few in Yolo County who happen to be along the river. We get our water for farming from Cache Creek into Indian Valley Reservoir, or in Solano County from Lake Berryessa, and in both instances also from groundwater. We don’t have a clear mechanism for selling our water elsewhere even if somebody actually wanted us to do that.
            So Frankly is not correct that “the limiting factor in ag commodity production is water” in Yolo or Solano Counties. Elsewhere in the state, perhaps. A few water districts have water shortages rather chronically. Some rely on state water in ways that they probably shouldn’t. But that is completely irrelevant to our growth or planning or agricultural issues here. Why he keeps saying this, I do not know.

          2. Don Shor

            As you drive down the valley the signs don’t say no land no food they say no water no food.

            To answer in kind: Westlands water district doesn’t need or deserve our water.

        2. Misanthrop

          You are trying to change the argument about farmland preservation into one about water rights. The fact of the matter is that we don’t need to preserve every inch of farmland. It is not the limiting factor for commodity production and water is. You are letting your predilections drive your arguments. Building on some of the land around Davis is not going to reduce crop production in any meaningful way as those commodities will be produced elsewhere. The fealty to the farmland preservationist scene is more about romanticism of those days of yesteryear than the realities of the present needs of this community.

          1. Don Shor

            The fact of the matter is that we don’t need to preserve every inch of farmland.

            And I have never said we have to “preserve every inch of farmland.” Conservation of prime agricultural land, and wildlife habitat, should be one of the goals we consider as we plan. Good planning will conserve prime ag land to the greatest extent possible, and will disincentive annexation of prime farmland.

  5. Michael Harrington

    Frankly:  Sorry but the city organization and budget are the CC’s territory. They need to put some realistic proposals on the table.    They have staff to help.  How about start with that fabulous 5-0 motion approving a checklist from F and B Commission on steps to take ?  (Matt, if you have the motion details may I ask you to post them ?)

  6. Misanthrop

    “Standing there with your fingers in the d_ke isn’t going to change the macro-economic realities driving the growth of this community.”

    The censors took the “i” out of d_ke. Now that is hilarious.

    [moderator] There is a filter which reacts to certain words automatically. I don’t know which words trigger the filter. I just find out when it happens. And if it happens, I have to edit the word or it will pull the post every time the spam filter runs again. So in order for your post to show, I had to edit it. And I had to edit this one as well.

    1. Biddlin

      Is it not possible to edit the filter? It seems you have very little flexibility and control. This “format” has been very vexing for me to use, since the upgrade.

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