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