Commentary: On the Need for Economic Development

Mace Ranch Innovation Center

Critics who have put arguments forward such as the notion that relying on a single project to fix the budget – or that the city needs to right its budget without depending on a major project like this – actually ignore the point here.

Davis receives less in per capita sales tax than many other comparable cities, as our work from last summer demonstrates.  But it is actually worse than that – Davis heavily relies on auto sales, which is ironic for a community that purports to be green and wants to be on the technological edge.  Without finding ways to shore up its revenue generation, the city will struggle to be fiscally viable as it is struggling now, with the latest budget estimates showing an $8 million average revenue shortfall for the next 20 years at least.

I wasn’t always on board with the notion of a peripheral innovation park – in fact, in general I have opposed peripheral development in Davis.  The two largest peripheral projects – Covell Village and the Cannery – the Vanguard has opposed.

But my thinking began changing in the summer of 2013.  Bayer Crop Science announced it would be expanding its facility, which required it to move from Davis, where the company AgraQuest was founded, to West Sacramento which had space available to accommodate the company.

That move of a native Davis company that had been founded, grew, expanded, and been bought out by an international company was a huge blow to Davis, in both the loss of jobs and tax revenue.

The question at that point was what the future of economic development was in Davis.  But also, how could a city like Davis produce the revenue needed for a sustainable future?

Davis had spent much of the previous five years looking for ways to survive in the post-Great Recession world.  The proximity of the university gives Davis a fighting chance here, but, then as now, the question before us is whether Davis is simply going to be a university town that can spawn an array of startups based off their research components at the university, or whether it can be a destination for these companies as well, after they grow and mature.

If anything, now that we have truth in advertising, our fiscal situation is even more precarious now – at least on paper – than it was in 2013.

But the key point I came away with from a conversation between then-Chamber CEO Kemble Pope and City of Davis CIO Rob White was that Davis had a few options for economic development, but Davis did not want to go the regional mall route or the big box strip mall route.

As Kemble Pope put it, the Innovation Park Task Force laid out a roadmap that is “palatable to the community.”  Building on university research which gets transferred to the private sector in the form of jobs seemed at the time the route to take.  That has become all the more certain as we have seen the decline in local sales tax as the result of the continued expansion of e-commerce.

The problem that Davis faced, however, was laid out in the Studio 30 report.  In order to generate the kind of tax revenue needed, to retain the larger companies like Bayer AgraQuest or Schilling Robotics, or perhaps Mori Seiki down the line, Davis needs commercial space to accommodate growth of startups and development of small companies into larger ones.

If you read the now aging Studio 30 report, you will see that this is not an eggs-in-one-basket approach.  The Dispersed Innovation Strategy calls for utilizing space where it exists, in a number of places – some in the core, some near the university, some in the downtown, and some on the periphery.

The near-term strategy: “The Gateway (Downtown Research & University Innovation District) option offers the best close/in location due to the proximity to University and property owner and University interest, and should be pursued as the City’s top innovation center priority.”

However the key point raised is this: “The current isolated and dispersed sites that are available and appropriately zoned are not adequate in terms of size, location, or configuration (and related constraints) to address the emerging market need of an Innovation Center.”

Studio 30 instead called for, “A combination of one ‘close in’ hub or incubator with one (or in some future time, two) larger, less constrained (and presumably less costly) edge site offers the right mix of University proximity and identity with the expansion capability to address job growth and rapid business expansion.”

The two most logical sites were the two projects that came forward – one by Sutter-Davis and one east of Mace Boulevard.

However, as we now know, the Davis Innovation Center decided to suspend its planning and they have since moved their concept north to Woodland.  MRIC (Mace Ranch Innovation Center) has been beset by various issues and remains in suspension.

At this point, I tend to believe that MRIC is the last best chance in the near-term to develop a peripheral innovation park – something that can generate perhaps $10 million or more in city revenue on an annual basis.

Why do I believe that?  The Davis Innovation Center is not coming back.  There is no developer or landowner interested out there.  That doesn’t mean that will always be the case – but realistically, in the next twenty years, given the pace of development, I just don’t see anything emerging, and we need something within that time horizon.

That leaves MRIC, which has some advantages.  The land is near I-80 with easy access.  The land is bounded on the east by a conservation easement, on the south by the highway and only to the north is there a small stretch of contiguous land.  In short, this is not a sprawl-inducing development.

Are there other locations?  Covell Village remains land-locked and far from an accessible highway.  The south part of the community does not seem conducive to such a development, and the access road to the east seems unlikely as a location (that is where David Morris suggested a potential project that never got underway with Angelo Tsakopoulus).

As we reported on Monday, one does have the university, potentially, as a player.  Gary May, the new chancellor, comes from Georgia Tech in Atlanta, which has the successful  Midtown Innovation District.  The two most likely spots near the campus are at Nishi and the portion in the southern part of the university in Solano County that was considered for a potential public-private venture before being excluded in the latest LRDP.

UC Davis could also partner with Sacramento on utilizing the Railyards, where the World Food Center was briefly considered.

The problem with those ventures are that they would not benefit the city’s fiscal condition.  Thus I have concluded that MRIC is the best option in the near-term as a large expansive innovation center.

In the shorter term, ventures like Area 52 from Sierra Energy and the University Research Park will have to provide available space.  These ventures figure to accommodate the 300,000 square feet of R&D space that was lost when Nishi went down.

This is a crucial time for Davis – not only does it face serious fiscal challenges but it lacks jobs and opportunities for students graduating from college.  By developing an innovation center, we accomplish several of our goals while, I believe, maintaining Davis as the small and vibrant community that we all love.

—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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  1. Tia Will

    “the question before us is whether Davis is simply going to be a university town that can spawn an array of startups”

    Sometimes a single word can make all the difference. Your use of the word “simply” is one example. By this placement you seem to have indicated that there is something wrong with the concept of being a university town that emphasizes start ups over large scale manufacturing or other larger scale enterprises. From attending many community educational meetings dating back to when there were three innovation park concepts on the table, reading Vanguard comments and letters to the Enterprise, and considering the Nishi vote, I remain unconvinced that this is a majority opinion in Davis.

    As you rightly note, the Studio 30 report was a dispersed model, not single project, and as such is no longer in consideration. To hang on to a single project does not reflect the findings of this report. However, as you have also correctly pointed out, the Studio 30 report is now aging and may or may not reflect a sound approach given our current situation.

    I am neither for nor against MRIC given that there is no project to consider. What I do think is that given the unknowns surrounding the arrival of a new chancellor, the series of talks still in progress on various city design models, and the lack of current community input, that rather than pushing for a non existent project, now might be a good time to take a deep breath, take the time to get to know the new chancellor, and perhaps start a new community engagement with how we want our city to proceed given that the Studio 30 project has not come to fruition.

  2. Roberta Millstein

    Again I have to challenge the timing of this article, David.  As you well know, the Planning Commission is considering the EIR at its meeting on Wednesday.  But “the need for economic development” is not an argument for certifying the EIR.  You admitted this in a comment on the other post, yet you published yet another misleading article.

    1. David Greenwald

      I wanted to open a broader discussion than simply whether or not to certify the EIR because I think when we focus on the narrow, we lose sight of the bigger picture.

      1. Roberta Millstein

        But isn’t the time to have the broader conversation if/when the EIR is certified?  We have to answer the narrow question and then see where to go from there, depending on whether it is certified or not.  I can’t help but see your wanting to have the broader conversation now as your trying to influence the outcome of the EIR certification process.

        1. David Greenwald

          No I think the broader discussion has to enlighten the discussion on the EIR certification process.  Otherwise it takes place in a vacuum.

        2. Roberta Millstein

          “Enlighten.”  That’s a pretty vague term.  How does that not amount to inappropriately using the supposed desirability of a project as a reason to say that the EIR analysis is sound?

        3. Colin Walsh

          David, if you really want this project built, then you should be arguing that the EIR process be as rigorous as possible and all relevant questions come out at planning commission tomorrow. You should be urging the developer to pay attention to  the overall process and make it as transparent and above board as possible so the project will have community support when it comes to a vote.

          Instead tour urging to consider financial benefits over process and environmental impact may actually harm the project in the long run which would be a disservice to the developer and the community and actually works against your stated goals.


        4. David Greenwald

          What reason do you have to believe that the EIR process hasn’t been rigorous?

          So far I have seen:

          1. Concerns about the inclusion of the 25 acres in the study – when the city has not made a determination on what to do with the 25 acres

          2. Concerns about the 80% assumption for housing on an alternative that the council has weighed in on and said no to.

          3.  Concerns that there is no current project.

          Are there are other concerns?  I believe if and when a project comes forward, they will at least in part re-evaluate environmental impacts.  I don’t agree with the 80% assumption being problematic and given council”s views from last spring, not sure it’s a current point.  And the 25 acres still needs to be decided by council.

          Other than that, what am I missing to lead to be concerned about the EIR?

        5. Mark West

          “Now there are the questions you should be exploring and addressing in your article.”

          David is clearly looking at the bigger picture, part of which includes how we are going to pay our bills. It seems to me that it is you, Colin, who should be writing the article about the questions that concern you, rather than continually complaining about David’s choices.


        6. Roberta Millstein

          Because I’m not arguing whether or not the commission/ council should find the EIR sound.  That’s to be determined.

          Exactly.  It’s yet to be determined.  But it seems like you’re trying to sway (“enlighten”) that determination by talking about the supposed economic benefits. That’s what I am calling you out on.

          By all means, if/when the EIR is certified we should discuss the pros/cons of the project.  Now is time to discuss the EIR.

          Personally, I need to take a closer look at it.  I didn’t know that this was going to be coming before the Planning Commission this Wednesday until a few days ago.

        7. Matt Williams

          David Greenwald said . . . “What reason do you have to believe that the EIR process hasn’t been rigorous?

          So far I have seen:

          1. Concerns about the inclusion of the 25 acres in the study – when the city has not made a determination on what to do with the 25 acres

          2. Concerns about the 80% assumption for housing on an alternative that the council has weighed in on and said no to.

          3.  Concerns that there is no current project.”

          Colin Walsh said . . . “Now there [sic] are the questions you should be exploring and addressing in your article.”

          I’m willing to take a stab at exploring and addressing those three questions.

          1.  Whether to include or not include the City’s 25 acres in the EIR is really not an environmental impact issue.  It appears (to me at least) to be a political issue.

          To the best of my knowledge there are not any environmental components of those 25 acres that cause those acres to have any different environmental impact than the other 187.09 acres of the main project site.  For the record, the 16.49 acres of the Mace Triangle do have unique environmental impact characteristics, different from the 212.09 acres of the portion of the study area north of County Road 32A.

          The political issue regarding both the history and future of the 25 acres is very real, and must (in my opinion) be dealt with, but the CEQA process, and specifically this EIR, are not structured to address those political process issues.

          2. As was discussed in February (see LINK) the 80% assumption for housing is not consistent with the realities of the Draft EIR.  If you read the assumptions laid out in the 31 pages of material in the 8.2 Mixed-Use Alternative Description section of Chapter 8 of the Draft EIR (the Mixed Use Alternatives chapter) (see LINK) there is no reference to any claim that 80% of the 750-850 high-density units will be occupied by MRIC workers.  In fact, using the search function I could not find “80%” (or any other related occupancy key words) in all 219 pages of the Chapter 8 Mixed Use Alternative Analysis. Nor could I find any of those terms in Chapter 7 Alternatives Analysis.

          What I was able to find was the following:

          “To provide an understanding of how these results would change if fewer units were occupied by employees, additional sensitivity testing was undertaken for trip generation, VMT (Vehicle Miles Traveled) , and GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emissions. The sensitivity analysis examined the results if the number of units occupied by an MRIC employee was reduced to 75 percent , 50 percent , 25 percent , and 0 percent (no units occupied by an MRIC employee.

           The Mixed Use alternative would generate fewer daily trips than the project as proposed so long as at least 60 percent of the units are occupied by at least one MRIC employee.

          The Mixed Use alternative would generate less VMT than the project as proposed so long as at least 35 percent of the units are occupied by at least one MRIC employee.

           The Mixed Use alternative would generate less GHG emissions than the project as proposed so long as at least 53 percent of the units are occupied by at least one MRIC employee.”

          3. This concern is the one that has the most traction for me.  The problem I have with the current EIR is that the Mixed-Use Alternative was not placed on the table by the Ramos Team.  It was introduced by City Staff, when they came up with the CEQA-required alternatives.  I personally would find it useful if the Ramos Team would make an informative presentation to the Planning Commission that illuminates the following three things, (A) what their plans for the site are if/when the EIR is certified, (B) whether the mixed-use alternative is specifically in their future plans, and (C) if the answer to the second question is “yes” how do they foresee the deployment of that alternative in their plans.

        8. Howard P

          Thank you Matt, for exposing a canard.  Just like the Monsanto protesters who rounded 26% to 92%, am betting the 80% # is a ’round-up’ (pun unintended, but I like!) of the 75% you found.

          I have not fully drilled down to every page of the EIR, but the concept of a ‘sensitivity analysis’, particularly for traffic, is a reasonable/defendable approach, as to environmental impacts.

        9. Colin Walsh

          let’s be clear here:

          The results indicate that the Mixed-Use Alternative would generate more external daily trips when compared to the MRIC project with no residential units if the percentage of MRIC housing units occupied by MRIC employees drops below 60 percent for total daily trips.  – MRIC FInal EIR

          60% of the housing would need to be  occupied by MRIC employees for there to be no net gain of external daily trips by adding housing to the development. Adding housing to the development adds external daily trips if there is any lower percentage.

          Further even at 100% occupancy there is only a reduction in trips by about 2,000 out of 16,000 total additional trips.

          The real problem though is there is no discussion of a mechanism for how the developer would assure that any percentage of the housing would be occupied by employees, yet alone the high percentages Matt and David have argued can be done. Absent a proposal that demonstrates a mechanism to assure such high percentages of employees would choose to live on site, it should be assumed that including housing on site will increase car trips, not decrease.

        10. Matt Williams

          Colin Walsh said . . . “The real problem though is there is no discussion of a mechanism for how the developer would assure that any percentage of the housing would be occupied by employees, yet alone the high percentages Matt and David have argued can be done”

          Colin, I agree with you that that is the “real problem” (I would use the term “real challenge” but that doesn’t change the fundamental issue).  Further, the passage you have quoted from the EIR:

          The results indicate that the Mixed-Use Alternative would generate more external daily trips when compared to the MRIC project with no residential units if the percentage of MRIC housing units occupied by MRIC employees drops below 60 percent for total daily trips.  – MRIC Final EIR

          clearly discloses that challenge/problem.  As a result, as best as I can see, the EIR has discharged its responsibility to disclose the pertinent potential environmental impacts.  Do you feel the EIR is failing in its responsibility to “include sufficient information about each alternative to allow meaningful evaluation, analysis, and comparison with the proposed project”? (see bolded language below).

          Title 14. California Code of Regulations
          Chapter 3. Guidelines for Implementation of the
          California Environmental Quality Act
          Article 9. Contents of Environmental Impact Reports

          15121. Informational Document

          (a) An EIR is an informational document which will inform public agency decision-makers and the public generally of the significant environmental effect of a project, identify possible ways to minimize the significant effects, and describe reasonable alternatives to the project. The public agency shall consider the information in the EIR along with other information which may be presented to the agency.

          15123. Summary

          (a) An EIR shall contain a brief summary of the proposed actions and its consequences. The language of the summary should be a clear and simple as reasonably practical.

          (b) The summary shall identify:

          __(1) Each significant effect with proposed mitigation measures and alternatives that would reduce or avoid that effect;

          __(2) Areas of controversy known to the Lead Agency including issues raised by agencies and the public; and

          __(3) Issues to be resolved including the choice among alternatives and whether or how to mitigate the significant effects.

          (c) The summary should normally not exceed 15 pages.

          15126.6 Consideration and Discussion of Alternatives to the Proposed Project.

          (a) Alternatives to the Proposed Project. An EIR shall describe a range of reasonable alternatives to the project, or to the location of the project, which would feasibly attain most of the basic objectives of the project but would avoid or substantially lessen any of the significant effects of the project, and evaluate the comparative merits of the alternatives. An EIR need not consider every conceivable alternative to a project. Rather it must consider a reasonable range of potentially feasible alternatives that will foster informed decisionmaking and public participation. An EIR is not required to consider alternatives which are infeasible. The lead agency is responsible for selecting a range of project alternatives for examination and must publicly disclose its reasoning for selecting those alternatives. There is no ironclad rule governing the nature or scope of the alternatives to be discussed other than the rule of reason. (Citizens of Goleta Valley v. Board of Supervisors (1990) 52 Cal.3d 553 and Laurel Heights Improvement Association v. Regents of the University of California (1988) 47 Cal.3d 376).

          (b) Purpose. Because an EIR must identify ways to mitigate or avoid the significant effects that a project may have on the environment (Public Resources Code Section 21002.1), the discussion of alternatives shall focus on alternatives to the project or its location which are capable of avoiding or substantially lessening any significant effects of the project, even if these alternatives would impede to some degree the attainment of the project objectives, or would be more costly.

          (c) Selection of a range of reasonable alternatives. The range of potential alternatives to the proposed project shall include those that could feasibly accomplish most of the basic objectives of the project and could avoid or substantially lessen one or more of the significant effects. The EIR should briefly describe the rationale for selecting the alternatives to be discussed. The EIR should also identify any alternatives that were considered by the lead agency but were rejected as infeasible during the scoping process and briefly explain the reasons underlying the lead agency’s determination. Additional information explaining the choice of alternatives may be included in the administrative record. Among the factors that may be used to eliminate alternatives from detailed consideration in an EIR are:(i) failure to meet most of the basic project objectives, (ii) infeasibility, or (iii) inability to avoid significant environmental impacts.

          (d) Evaluation of alternatives. The EIR shall include sufficient information about each alternative to allow meaningful evaluation, analysis, and comparison with the proposed project. A matrix displaying the major characteristics and significant environmental effects of each alternative may be used to summarize the comparison. If an alternative would cause one or more significant effects in addition to those that would be caused by the project as proposed, the significant effects of the alternative shall be discussed, but in less detail than the significant effects of the project as proposed. (County of Inyo v. City of Los Angeles (1981) 124 Cal.App.3d 1).


      2. Howard P

        Certifying (or rejecting, with credible reasons as why it is inadequate, as a CEQA document) the EIR does not preclude any discussion of the big picture, nor does it “approve” anything.  I say for perhaps the 14th time, it is a disclosure document, of a project and alternatives contained therein.  Nothing more, nothing less.

        Saying it should be approved for Econ Dev reasons is bogus.  To say it should be rejected for econ impacts, “unknowns” (which can be dealt with amendments/additional assessments (supplements) under CEQA), are equally bogus.

        It has assumptions… it has analysis… it does not come to “conclusions”/recommendations (except how to mitigate environmental impacts).  Assumptions are given… unless someone can articulate cogently, specifically, why the analysis is flawed, it should be certified.  Future changes to the assumptions for a future project will require future analysis.  Then the CC and “people” can decide whether to approve a specific project for whatever reason they choose.

        Wake up, people!  Get a freaking clue about what an EIR is, and isn’t!

        Meant to be a tool, not a bludgon.

        1. Howard P

          BTW, CEQA has been grossly misused by those trying to throw wooden shoes into machinery (everyone knows the word “sabot”, right?), either by “threat”, or actual lawsuit.  Judges rarely throw EIR’s out or require additional review, UNLESS substantial evidence is presented that there are material defects (most, egregious) in the analysis.

          A very mild form of ‘terrorism’… used when cogent argument/facts fail.

  3. Keith O

    How many different ways can one subject be beat to death?

    So someone please tell us what good has come out of the endless Vanguard discussion about the need for economic development?

    It’s the same old arguments every day.


  4. Todd Edelman

    How does the frequently-congested I-80 provide “easy” access? Why is easy access to a highway seen as beneficial in a “… community that purports to be green and wants to be on the technological edge”? As I understand it the visualization is only that as there is no current project, but please notice that almost all the parking – 3,000 spaces or so (rounding down, I think) –  is in closer proximity to destinations – actual offices – than the transit center. If there is no housing almost everyone will drive to MRIC, because it will be at least marginally more acceptable than most transit solutions. If there IS housing who will want to live here if they are properly informed that approximately the southern half of the project is within the 500 yard dangerous-for-kids zone of a major highway? All the commercial buildings can have filtration and be over-pressured, but that’s not suitable for residential, and any leisure/dining/recreational location outside would also be in the same danger zone. Also, anyone that lives here would still tend to drive Downtown and everywhere else.

    True, the particle and gas effects of the highway may slowly decrease over decades as more fully-electric vehicles appear, but there will still be lots of low- and mid-frequency noise from the highest tech pavement and cars smashing through the air, especially if they are miraculously moving faster than now. With an all-electric highway there would still be noise — this could be solved to a great extent with a highway shed/hangar/above-ground tunnel over I-80 within city limits, but that would be crazy expensive, though with a good possibility for solar generation that would supply roughly 20% of current electricity needs in town, guarantee of a big contribution from taxes from the development itself and others, and a remote possibility for some kind of toll for this – hope you took your conceptuality vitamins this morning – anti-noise bridge.

    And yes, transit access could be improved by buses that circulate within unless of course it’s designed to distribute most people in the “last mile” by bicycle or foot. (This doesn’t mean only encouraging them to cycle, but making by far the best choice…). Transit access could be improved much more if the possible short-haul railway between Davis and Sacramento has an “East Davis” stop.

    IF housing gets back into the mix, IS there anyway to encourage MRIC workers to also be MRIC livers in tandem with a neighborhood that’s fully self-contained minus e.g. a Target – for obvious reasons – but also a satellite city office, a cinema, a wide variety of food for shopping or dining, a post office… can elementary school kids that live here easily get to Korematsu by foot or by bicycle (their parents’ labor, or theirs in older grades)? Is there any way to require x amount of MRIC workers to live onsite?

    Expected, unfortunate and not a joke… the question mark key on my laptop just broke.

    1. David Greenwald

      If you familiarize yourself with the literature, a key component of location if you need access to transit in order to be able to receive and transport.  You don’t want big trucks needing to traverse multiple narrow city streets.

      1. Todd Edelman

        Woah, there. Did I not propose some transit solutions? Perhaps exactly 0% of people will take Capitol Corridor to MRIC from Sac if they have to overshoot it. However, a well-synced-with-Capitol Corridor short haul could bring people from Davis Depot, in addition to from the west, but this might be a problem if it’s designed to run in gaps between existing services. A point-to-point bus from the Depot could actually be faster as it could distribute people within MRIC.

        Yes, of course it’s better for large trucks to be closer to arteries and, ideally, highways.

        Also, I realize that this was not strictly and directly about economic-ness.

        1. Howard P

          Believe you are incorrect, given the Unitrans A-line connects Amtrak with the intersection of Mace/Alhambra with pretty frequent service.  Extremely few Capitol Corridor riders get what amounts to door-to-door service.

          Only 3 miles from Amtrak to proposed site.  Few CC riders get that close by train.

        2. Todd Edelman

          Again, there’s this psychological thing about passing a location by train and even worse if you can see it, then having to backtrack by bus, and worse if that bus doesn’t go directly to the final destination.

          Even without MRIC, a train connection via the possible short haul from East Davis to West Sac and Sac would be very nice. To be fair it should be compared to a bus running in a dedicated lane on I-80 as far into Sac as possible…

        3. Howard P

          You’re perhaps from a “spoiled” background.  Capitol Corridors don’t even serve/stop at all the cities they run thru.  No stop in Dixon, for instance. [even though they built a station/platform, and grade separation! So much for ‘build it and they will come…’]

          3 miles a problem if you take a bus to within 1000 feet of your destination?  Passing your destination rather than needing to go another 2-5 miles beyond? Psychologically, that makes little sense.

          One quarter mile walking to/from a bus stop is a rule of thumb for bus travel being a viable option.  For trains, it is probably more like 5 miles… when there is a bus route nearby, for sure.

          You can bring a bike on the CC’s… a 3 mile bike ride, beginning and ending with “door to door” service is another viable option.  I’ve done that a lot over the years.

          As to the short-line concept… cost/rider, availability of “track time”, etc., means that has about 0.000001% chance of happening.  And less of a chance of it remaining viable, even if it was attempted.

          1. Don Shor

            The impression I’ve gotten is that counting on the trains to cooperate with local transportation is probably futile. They make their own decisions based on their own ridership data and revenues.

        4. Howard P

          Don… also there operational needs… easy for a bus to start and stop every 1/4 mile or so.  Not so with a train… if a train stops/starts too often, transit time dramatically increases (decel/accel/boarding time), and ridership tends to drop off (Alan M, feel free to affirm or correct).

          With the possible exception of the Emeryville/Berzerkley/Jack London Square cluster, it’s more like 20-40 miles or more between stops (Richmond is a “tweener”).  All those stops have easy connections to BART, Amtrak bus, and/or AC transit…

          Frankly (although I’m not) Davis is a bit exceptional too, but we have one of the highest Amtrak passenger boardings in the nation, particularly given our size. [on the East Coast, the Acela line has the highest, as I recall] We are also a stop for the Coast Starlight, and California Zephyr routes, but the CC’s are the “biggie”.

  5. Jim Hoch

    Not sure I can understand the concept. How can we be short of money if we are willing to give hundreds of thousands of dollars each to random strangers through affordable housing?


    There is cognitive dissonance here somewhere.

    1. David Greenwald

      You really need to study up on this issue.  Affordable housing money comes from either state/ federal subsidies or in-lieu fees from development.  That money in the latter is btw, one time.  Our fiscal shortfall is ongoing.


      1. Howard P

        And, the in-lieu fees are a ‘joke’… a cheap “out”… “affordable units”(SF), in my opinion, should be dispersed in all SF projects… with protections that they don’t go “market rate” after a few years.

        I believe that the main focus for “affordable” should be MF, not SF “for sale”.  Too many potential abuses/unintended consequences for the latter.

        I also take exception to some ‘affordable’ projects that provide high-level accommodations for purportedly low cost.  One needs shelter, with basic utilities, etc.  One does NOT need Nirvana.

        Just my opinion.

        BTW agree on the on-going costs of the City… that should be a serious concern.

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