Council Agrees to Core Area Advisory Committee


The Davis City Council on Tuesday had a discussion of the consent item which created an advisory body for the Core Area Specific Plan update process.  It is anticipated that the advisory group would meet monthly over the course of a 15- to 18-month period.

“The CAAC will provide a diversity of viewpoints that are broadly representative of the community to the greatest extent possible,” the staff report read.

Members would be appointed as follows:

  • Organization self-appointments. 6 organizations would be asked to self-appoint 1 representative each (2 would be voting and 4 would be non-voting ex-officio). The main reason for non-voting members is that their City commission will later be making recommendations on the results of the planning process.
  • Selected after an application process. Written applications would go to the full Council, each Council member would select 2 CAAC members, and the full Council would ratify all the CAAC members.
  • A total of 16 members (consisting of 12 voting and 4 non-voting ex-officio).

Several neighborhood groups approached the city with a request to be on the committee as an automatic member.

The six organizations that would appoint members under the proposal were: Davis Downtown, Davis Chamber of Commerce, Planning Commission (ex-officio), Bicycling, Transportation and Street Safety Commission (ex-officio), Finance and Budget Commission (ex-officio), and UC Davis Administration (ex-officio).

The remaining ten would be appointed by council after an application process.

Rhonda Reed, representing Old East Davis Neighborhood Association (as well as standing in for Old North as their representative had a conflict), told the council, “We feel our neighborhoods do merit having a seat at the table.  Each neighborhood is different, has different issues and we represent three-quarters of the planning area that’s under focus for the change in the general plan update.”

Alan Miller, who also lives in Old East Davis, said that “one way or another the neighborhoods will be heard and it’s a matter do you want, after the fact, banging on the door or would you rather we were just there, represented as part of the committee of something that very much affects our interests.”

Mayor Pro Tem Brett Lee pointed out that the list is suggested: “This list is not one-person per row.”  In the second group, “The idea,” he explained “is here are some attributes we may look for and consider when we select the ten additional members.”

The idea is that each councilmember would put two people forward and the whole council would vote on that.  “These are some attributes we might look for as we evaluate the applications,” he said.

Councilmember Rochelle Swanson said, “Normally I would be hesitant about a large group.  But sometimes we can’t be scared about the wieldliness of it.”

She expressed some concern that, while both Davis Downtown and Davis Chamber, for example, are representative organizations, the membership is likely not to have uniform interests.  “We’re making long term changes and I think investments,” and you have people who rent businesses and people who (own) businesses, she said, who might not have the same interests.  “That’s my concern,” she said.

Councilmember Lucas Frerichs said, “One thing I worry about is it getting too large.”  He agreed that these were about attributes, not specific representation from the population.  He said he expects representatives from the various neighborhood associations to apply for the various positions on the committee.  The other possibility he said, “is some of these people could be wearing multiple hats.”

Councilmember Swanson said that people “want to be heard, but they don’t feel comfortable coming to these chambers.  They don’t feel comfortable, they think it’s so obvious that one side represents… there’s been more of a chilling of a us versus them (within the audience).”

She wants people to feel free to apply and not fear that it will be just the typical people who are heard on a subject, advocates for a certain position.  She wants the council to reach out their hand more, to reach people who might be reluctant to come forward.

Mayor Robb Davis was concerned about expanding ex-officio.  The ex-officios in this process are members of the commissions who would have a chance to weigh in and vote when the matter came to their respective commissions rather than on this committee.

Will Arnold said, “I am supportive of having the neighborhood associations each have a voting member on the body.”

Councilmember Arnold moved the staff recommendation with three additional voting members, each a representative from three (Old North, Old East, and Rice Lane) of the four neighborhood associations mentioned.  That is in addition to the six automatic members, of which only Davis Downtown and Davis Chamber would be voting members and 10 that are selected by the council.

Rochelle Swanson put in an amendment to call them liaisons rather than ex-officio members.

That leaves 19 members, 15 of which are voting members.

—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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34 thoughts on “Council Agrees to Core Area Advisory Committee”

  1. Todd Edelman

    A diverse group seems likely; ultimately the Planning Commission will make a recommendation and then… will this all come down to a 3 to 2 vote in City Council sometime in early 2019?

    The CASP Update is in a sense the interior (or inside, dense, etc.) space counterpart to the open space that is subject of Measure R, but the number of voters is considerably different (!). Is there a logic to this? (Downtown shares its southwest border with Nishi, too…) Rather than the counterpart it seems that it instead should be the corollary.

    I think we need a Measure on the 2018 ballot that gives citizens a non-binary vote…. on the multiple-choice findings of the CASP Advisory Body.

    1. Howard P


      Todd… Measure R (formerly J) was not about “open space”… except as ‘window dressing’/pretext/slogan.  Like they say, “you had to have been there”…

      1. Todd Edelman

        Well, that’s helpful! Anyway, it’s still about growth or lack thereof, or growing smartly or dumbly. Davis can’t do the cutistorical downtown like Winters and Woodland, but it can build upwards and it can create Northern California’s largest pedestrian zone. This is a big change and people should own it, and so they ought to be polled, ideally on several options as I mentioned. There will be other agendas, but I struggle to take you seriously in this as you’re not a transparent entity, or rather… a fully solid one.

      1. Howard P


        Councilmember Rochelle Swanson said, “Normally I would be hesitant about a large group.  But sometimes we can’t be scared about the wieldliness of it.”


  2. Howard P

    Back on topic… that large and diverse a group will need one or two credible leaders, within the group, to produce a meaningful outcome… given past comments, and contrary to reason, planning staff can probably only have a supportive role… more is the pity… there are good staff who could lead, but the problem will be the “snipers”…

    I hope the CC and groups choose reps who can focus on the ‘common good’, and consensus building, rather than just their own ‘interests’… otherwise, this may end up being a divisive exercise in futility…

    1. John Hobbs

      “I hope the CC and groups choose reps who can focus on the ‘common good’, and consensus building, rather than just their own ‘interests’…”

      Historically, you’d agree that the odds are against that, right?


      1. Howard P

        Ah… two ‘snipers’ already, helping to make my point…

        We need to move towards the position that Don takes… I’d hope to see a document, that has basic consensus, but only a fool would think there wouldn’t also be minority reports on some issues… which is the other danger… that reps get so detailed, so specific, that consensus is actually impossible.

        Even ‘specific plans’, should avoid putting “too fine a point on it”…


        1. Ron

          Howard:  Referring to someone who may have a fundamentally different vision of the “common good” (from you, and/or Don) as a “sniper” is virtually guaranteed to undermine the process. (That is, unless such folks are effectively screened out of the selection process.)

        2. Ron

          To screen out the “snipers” (which may include half of the population, from your perspective), a “screening subcommittee” (consisting of “like-minded” individuals) should probably be formed.  🙂

          Not sure who gets to decide the makeup of the subcommittee. (For that matter, I’m still not sure what the “common good” is, at least from your point of view.)

  3. Tia Will

    Hi Ron

    Seems to me that there might not be consensus regarding the definition of “common good” in the first place.”

    Oh for the lack of a “like” button. This I believe is the heart of the issue. What seems to one individual as the “common good” may be fraught with over riding “downsides” when seen from a different perspective. Being an optimist, and having a preference for collaborative processes having come from a system in which this approach has been almost universally adopted, I am very hopeful for this process.

    1. Matt Williams

      Finding it hard to come agreement on how to measure what “the common good” is not unique to Davis.

      Back in 2003 a team at Santa Clara University developed a framework for moral decision making.  Their paper discussed five different approaches to thinking ethically, one of which was the “Common Good” approach.  

      The challenge that implementation of the Common Good approach faces is providing a benefit to all individuals. Many would say that is a quest for perfection that proves to be the enemy of the good.  The Utilitarian approach would seem to most closely align with our Country’s democratic form of government.


      ·       First off there was the Utilitarian approach, which was developed in the 19th century to determine what laws were morally best.  To analyze an issue using the Utilitarian approach, we first identify the various courses of action available to us. Second, we ask who will be affected by each action and what benefits or harms will be derived from each. And third, we choose the action that will produce the greatest benefits and the least harm. The ethical action is the one that provides the greatest good for the greatest number.

      ·       Next there was the Rights approach.  Developed in the 18th century, this approach dealt directly with an individual’s right to choose for him or herself. 

      ·       Then there was the Fairness or Justice approach which is rooted in the teachings of the ancient Greek Philosopher Aristotle who said, “equals should be treated equally and unequals unequally.”  Meaning that everyone should be treated equally with no favoritism shown or discrimination.  This is a common aspect of most businesses today because of the anti-discrimination acts and equal opportunity employer (EOE) laws in effect. 

      ·       The teams’ next approach was the Common-Good approach.  The team states that this approach focuses on “ensuring that the social policies, social systems, institutions and environments on which we depend are beneficial to all.”  So to make a decision based on the common-good of all involved in the decision would be to make sure that that outcome provides a benefit to all individuals. 

      ·       Last discussed was the Virtue approach which “assumes that there are certain ideals toward which we should strive…” 

      “Thinking Ethically: A Framework for Moral Decision Making”, Velasquez, et al. 2003

      Online Article from Santa Clara University.

  4. Ron

    Matt:  “The ethical action is the one that provides the greatest good for the greatest number.”

    Might that number include people who theoretically might move TO Davis (e.g., if more housing is built)?  Or, does it just include existing residents?  And, if they theoretically *might* move to Davis, how would we know or measure if they’re better-off by not moving to Davis?

    Taking it a step further, by accommodating an ever-increasing population without question, does this (ultimately) harm and threaten the entire population? (Not to mention the natural environment.)

    1. Ron

      And no – I’m not just playing “Devil’s Advocate”, here. (Although I realize my “step further” question is broader in scope than the CASP.) Still, densifying the city does impact quality of life for all residents.

      Seems like the city has no plan, regarding the ultimate level of density that it’s pursuing.

      1. Roberta Millstein

        In its original formulation, utilitarianism treats all equally (not giving greater weight to some in certain groups over others in different groups), and considers all who are likely to be affected by the action under consideration.

      2. Mark West

        “Seems like the city has no plan, regarding the ultimate level of density that it’s pursuing.”

        We do, it is called the General Plan and you might benefit from reading it.

        1. Ron

          Gee, thanks Mark.  I was under the (apparently) mistaken impression that the city was proposing changes to specific areas, starting with the downtown area. I seem to recall that some believe that downtown stretches even beyond its boundaries. (Must have been imagining all of this.) Well, I guess that Trackside has been settled at 3 stories, then? Great – then no need to argue, anymore.

          Now that you’ve pointed out how wrong I am, perhaps you wouldn’t mind telling me the ultimate level of density (e.g., population by area, or total) that the city is pursuing?  (Might save me a lot of reading.)

          Or, perhaps your position is that the city is not even considering changes to height limitations, etc.

        2. Ron

          Oh – and no more megadorms, which bypass existing zoning and create a host of planning challenges (including traffic concerns and unfunded bicycle overpasses).  Great news!

          Glad to see that you’re on board with ensuring such structures are the responsibility of UCD to coincide with their plans to increase enrollment, primarily via International students who have the ability to pay $42K in tuition.

          Perhaps there’s “consensus” here, after all!


        3. Mark West

          Dear Ron…

          I didn’t say that the plan wasn’t due for an update, I just pointed out that there is a plan, which you conveniently ignore when it suits your purposes. The rest of your blather is just that…

          Read the plan, Ron, or continue to post from a position of ignorance.

          “perhaps you wouldn’t mind telling me the ultimate level of density”

          Current policy is to grow at no more than 1% per year, with most of that from infill. The ultimate level of density will be determined by how long that remains current policy. When I learn how to see the future I will give you an answer, until then, you are on your own.

        4. Ron


          I don’t really want to fight with you, so I’ll ignore some parts of your response. 

          Regarding the 1%, thanks for pointing that out.  However, I recall that mixed use developments are not counted, regarding the 1% annual cap.  (And, that the cap is based upon units, not necessarily expected number of occupants.)

          When I stated that there was “no plan”, I was primarily referring to a lack of “goal” regarding the ultimate population of Davis, and how “dense” it should be.  (As you alluded to, 1% of units compounded annually and indefinitely, with significant loopholes, would not address this question. Therefore, I maintain that there is no “plan”.)

          There also does not seem to be a plan regarding the overall percentage of apartment dwellings, vs. single-family dwellings (for any given area, or the city as a whole).


        5. Ron

          Oh, in addition to the mixed-use exemption, Affordable housing developments are also apparently not included in the growth cap.

          Not sure if a one-bedroom unit is counted the same as a four-bedroom unit, in terms of the cap. (Of developments that are planned as double-occupancy/bedroom would also have a greater impact.)

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