Council Candidates Address the Most Important Issues Facing the City

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As we start ramping up our coverage of the 2018 Davis City Council election, we asked each of the candidates to identify the top three issues facing the city.

They were instructed to keep their responses brief and some simply listed three issues, which was perfectly fine.

Here are their responses.


Dan Carson

I see three priority areas:

  1. It’s vital we address an $8 million annual funding gap faced by the city and develop a more stable economic base. We can’t maintain and improve the stuff we all love about Davis — our parks, bike paths and greenbelts — unless we take responsible, innovative, and thoughtful actions.
  2. We need an inclusive and thoughtful engagement as we plan for the next wave of UC Davis growth and concerns like student housing. We need a process in which everyone is heard, concerns are understood, and the dialogue is focused on developing a healthy long-term town-gown partnership.
  3. Third, like nearly every community in California, we’re grappling with sustainability amid growing pressures: homelessness, a shortage of affordable housing, and climate change. Our Council’s task is to ensure that the burdens are shared appropriately between taxpayer support and volunteer efforts — and that we’re getting the job done.

Linda Deos

Here are the three most important issues I see facing Davis:

  1. Providing adequate/affordable housing for working families, students, and seniors;
  2. Fixing our crumbling roads, bike paths, and sidewalks; and
  3. Creating more economic development so that we can meet our city’s ongoing fiscal responsibilities.

Gloria Partida

  1. Housing
  2. Homelessness
  3. Economic Development

Larry Guenther

  1. Housing
  2. Fiscal Sustainability
  3. Community relations and transparency: healing, what I and others I speak to perceive as an increasing distance between city governance and community process and desires.

He added a quick note: “I will note that I do not believe that these issues, except perhaps the third, can be completely solved in one or even two City Council terms, but we must start making decisions that work toward those goals in a way that maintains Davis as a city worth living in for ALL its inhabitants.”

Mary Jo Bryan

(The) most important issues facing Davis from my prospective all revolve around the word “uncertainty”

  1. Housing Uncertainty – (a) diversity of housing types, (b) range of cost both for residents and students, and (c) conversion of single family residences into student “dorms”
  2. Davis Financial Situation Uncertainty (Revenues, Operational Costs, Capital Maintenance Costs, Outlook/Sustainability, etc.)
  3. Planning Uncertainty – we need an update of the General Plan sooner rather than later

Eric Gudz

1. (Growth and Housing ) Address the realities and regional environmental impact of our community’s decisions on growth, which have manifested for our community in the form of:

a. an acute housing crisis and severe supply shortage
b. less dollars sent and less economic development to our downtown
c. tensions within our community-driven growth process and city/neighborhood relations

2. (Community Relations) Pool our resources, networks, and partners (regional and university) together to:

a. Properly provide a diversity of housing options, both on and off campus, until we hit 5% vacancy
b. Redesign and reform our developer relations, university relations, and our neighborhood relations processes
c. Identify and implement policy pilot programs oriented around cost-saving measures (i.e. pilot program for performance-based pavement evaluation, significant savings on pavement repair costs)

3. (Develop a vision for 2040 Davis) Encapsulate these realizations along with other current realities of Davis and codify them in our next General Plan update (with a specific and intentional focus on a robust Housing Element)


There is a lot of commonality in the answers.  Do you agree with these priorities?  What else would you add as key issues to be addressed during the campaign?

This is the readers chance to put issues on the Vanguard agenda to ask the candidates as the campaign moves on.

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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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40 thoughts on “Council Candidates Address the Most Important Issues Facing the City”

  1. Keith O

    Questions candidates need to answer:

    What types of taxes do you prefer, just parcel taxes that falls mainly on just homeowners or other initiatives like sales tax or UUT’s where everyone has skin in the game?

    Besides adding taxes for roads and parks will you be looking at adding taxes for affordable housing and homelessness?

    Are you for or against rent control?

    Where do you stand on new periferal housing developments?

    What’s your stance on the development of new business/industrial/innovation parks?

    Will you press UCD to build more on campus housing for its students and staff?

    As a council member will you stick to just local city issues or be addressing national concerns as past councils have strayed?

     

    1. Don Shor

      What’s your stance on the development of new business/industrial/innovation parks?

      I agree, and feel this has fallen off the radar recently. I would say overall economic development policy, with special consideration of sites in and outside the city limits, should be a focus of discussion.

      1. Eric Gudz

        Thanks for breathing some life back into this point Don. Our team and movement has been focusing our economic development policy thoughts around the conceptual vision of what innovation really means for a series of communities like Davis moving into the future. It’s a word that get’s used a lot, and it means different things to different generations.

        Thinking about the next generation of Davis and their future families, we will be focusing our platform around providing a diversity of incubation and innovation spaces (for folks with various degrees of access to land/capital) as well as bolstering our start-up/entrepreneurial initiatives as they relate to the work already being spearheaded by the campus and community.

        We will be posting more of our policy positions and related research on our website at: http://www.gudz4davis.org as the campaign develops (we are just getting started)!

  2. Todd Edelman

    Good ones, Keith O(pinion)!

    With all due respect to the candidates – and Eric Gudz – who I support – got tagged but not included? – for most of them it was sort of an Onion-esque predict. I wish I was as optimistic about healing of disconnects and more certain that uncertainty was not as important as it seems to be.

    Reflecting upon those two things… are we having an existential crisis? Maybe ya should ask the kids: “Which candidates are going to be most likely to create policies that – in the long term – keep you in the town after you leave high school or when you start to grow a family?”

    But back to one comment from Mr. O: I would not say a huge amount of anything is spent on “national concerns” and anything that is… simply shows that no man – no one – is an island. Regional concerns are important, however. In this sense our town borders are somewhat arbitrary and functionally a bit too misunderstood.

    1. Eric Gudz

      My additions to the piece were just updated, but I appreciate the mention. 🙂

      “Which candidates are going to be most likely to create policies that – in the long term – keep you in the town after you leave high school or when you start to grow a family?”

      I couldn’t agree more with this statement Todd! We need to be looking towards the next twenty years of Davis, and how we plan to move forward into the future as a community.

  3. Tia Will

    Predictably enough, I have a concern that was not addressed by any of the candidates. While all addressed economic health, none addressed physical health. Individual and public health is one of the major measures of the well being of a community. It has been traditional to say that this is a county responsibility. What most people do not see is the county desire for increased collaboration with its individual communities.

    I would like each candidate to discuss how they would work with the county to promote the health of our residents.

    1. Dianne C Tobias

      Hi Tia!

      Before another commenter responds that the city has no role in ‘our’ physical health, let me agree with you and ask that you drill down a little further: I see a role in mental health awareness if not services especially in the area of homelessness which I see one or two candidates mentioned. (Was surprised not more did). And what about the role of the city in the opioid ‘epidemic’. And promoting physical health through exercise and diet areas?  Am I close?

    2. Eric Gudz

      Thank you Tia for shedding light on public health, especially mental health. I’m excited to share more about my thoughts and ideas around this series of issues, especially because mental health and state of well-being is often the “elephant in the room” that’s not mentioned for many public policy discussions.

      My years working in a Medical Transition Unit at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky as a Captain revealed much about medical treatment to me, especially for veterans. In fact, it was due to the need of helping veterans who were struggling with PTSD and Opioids that led me to Drug Policy Reform.

      I continue to be a very strong advocate for increased education and public awareness of the seriousness of mental health issues, especially when it concerns fighting the stigmas associated with mental health that prevents more open and honest discussions in the public realm. It’s okay not to be okay, and we must do more to ensure we as a community look at mental health issues with as much seriousness and priority as we do with a broken leg or diabetes.

      This is definitely a big concern for our most vulnerable citizens, such as those without a home. Between the campus forums in January around mental health and some of the work done by the Veteran Community around mental health next year, expect to see much more on this issue!

  4. Todd Edelman

    More good detailed answers:

    “In areas within 15-min. cycling distance of the UCD campus and along major roads that will support frequent transit service I support construction of integrated housing with flexible use – student-, family- and elder-focused features, at least 50% BMR, and carfree with exceptions for disabled persons and certain trades and professions.

    Further, most elder housing should be built within a 10-min. walk of Downtown.”

    “While the cycling and walking modal share especially at junior high level is extraordinarily impressive, I am extremely frustrated that the DJUSD refuses to have a school bus program, especially as our city does not base school assignment for students based on geographical catchment. I urge them to gather support and signatures now so that a school bus tax – or school bus bit added to other tax measures – can be voted on in June at the same time people vote for Council. With funding in place there is no excuse for the continued chaos of the school drop off in this active transport-oriented community.”

    “There is no way to implement a regionally-responsive Park & Ride system at Davis Depot with parking in front of the station, nor for a future, kinder, more pedestrianized Downtown to be served primarily by very close-by parking, and also for 50% of students living at Nishi 2.0 to access cars that can be driven across the space to campus and across campus to other areas of town.

    A partial solution for all of this to create two new parking facilities: One – a structure – on top of the 80-Richards interchange – this would serve the Davis Depot, Downtown and the east portion of Nishi and connect to them with driverless, electric minibuses running 24/7 on fixed routes, and the other – two relatively small at-grade longitudinal lots on either side of I-80 or a structure at the far west end of the space, with access only to the highway, constructed in tandem with the I-80 HOV/shared lane project of Caltrans.

    The creation of the new parking facility outside of the street grid near Downtown will enable the elimination of a considerable amount of street parking and the transformation of the two upper levels of the parking structure on 1st St. into an amazing venue with a public rooftop.”

    1. Todd Edelman

      Keith O(tazka*): I am not running for Council. (FYI, on Thursday evening I will be sworn in as a Commissioner for Bicycling, Transportation and Street Safety, the wise, moral and extremely objective body that’s arguably the Soft Supreme Court of Mobility and Street Interactions in Davis. Its main job is to advise the City Council on transportation and related matters.)

      Cindy and Keith: My comments are from me, an activist… speaking as a private person.

      *Czech word for “question”.

    2. Cindy Pickett

      Thanks for clarifying. It would be great to talk to you more about how to improve school drop-off. I am concerned about the safety of the students, and I’ve witnessed all sorts of near-misses and non-misses. I don’t think a school bus system is the answer, but I agree about the chaos.

      1. Don Shor

        The city, school district, and volunteer groups have quite a lot of resources available already to give parents the information they need for bike safety and non-auto access.
        http://cityofdavis.org/city-hall/public-works/bike-pedestrian-program/street-smarts
        http://cityofdavis.org/how-do-i/find-safe-routes-to-school-maps
        http://cityofdavis.org/city-hall/public-works/bike-pedestrian-program/street-smarts/print-download-safe-routes-to-school-resources
        https://www.djusd.k12.ca.us/saferoutes
        https://www.cooldavis.org/2017/03/22/car-free-davis-brush-up-on-bike-safety-skills/
        http://blog.active4.me/

        One Unitrans line (the T line, I think) supplements the existing schedule for secondary school students.

        1. Todd Edelman

          Don, those are all great resources… for when an elementary school student lives within what they or their parents perceive subjectively as walking or cycling distance to school.  But about 40% on average among Davis elementary schools and 60% for Cesar Chavez – with its Spanish Immersion program – do not live in the neighborhood — my comment above referred to “geographical catchment”.

          Yes, some do cycle and many more can come bike with the help of their parents, but… this is another “elephant in the… classroom”. Unitrans can’t really deal with kids younger than 5th grade or so – their general manager told me so – and it doesn’t make sense for Unitrans to support the two oldest grades of elementary school when their buses drive by the homes of their younger schoolmates.

  5. Howard P

    Yeah… this topic is most appropriate for brainstorming questions/topics… one of the rules of brainstorming, is no criticism of the suggestions by others… would be nice if we could approach it that way… if not, I’ll feel free to attack some of the ideas presented thus far that just appear “stupid”/inane/clueless to me… and I know that would not be helpful…

    1. Keith O

      if not, I’ll feel free to attack some of the ideas presented thus far that just appear “stupid”/inane/clueless to me… and I know that would not be helpful…

      Why not, it has never stopped you before……

      1. Moderator

        The comment section of the Vanguard would be much more useful and productive if various participants would stop sniping at each other. Please focus on the issues at hand and avoid the personal conflicts.

  6. Howard P

    I’d also see a subtopic I’d be interested in… financial and good governance… whether a candidate supports directing and empowering staff to followup on the examination of the “right-sizing” of City staff… mentioned in the Meyer report, and had some support of CC…

    When you look at the abundance of folk, classified as “management”, and the dearth of folk “on the line” (particularly in maintenance/field ops), we are not right sized… some functions (most day to day finance tasks, like billing, for example?) could be contracted out, others definitely not…

    I’d like to hear candidates’ thoughts on those concepts.

      1. Howard P

        That might come, if those elected direct staff to get that info…

        There is the Meyer report… John knows the City well… as do I.

        Remember, this is supposed to be brain-storming…

    1. Eric Gudz

      This is a tough one for sure, and an area that will require significant examination as our city’s financial situation becomes more dire. The difficult reality we must accept collectively is that these examinations of our own shop are absolutely essential with any budget discussion we have, and we as a collective community must become more comfortable having these discussions moving forward.

      I’m supportive of a “right-sizing” examination of our City Staff, if nothing else to provide greater transparency and accountability for the citizens of Davis so that we can decide on the next steps as a community in the near future.

      More to follow on this topic thread for certain over the next few months; thanks for bringing it up!

  7. Eric Gudz

    Late to the party! (family matters kept me occupied yesterday).

    1) (Growth and Housing ) Address the realities and regional environmental impact of our community’s decisions on growth, which have manifested for our community in the form of:

    a. an acute housing crisis and severe supply shortage

    b. less dollars sent and less economic development to our downtown

    c. tensions within our community-driven growth process and city/neighborhood relations

     

    2) (Community Relations) Pool our resources, networks, and partners (regional and university) together to:

    a. Properly provide a diversity of housing options, both on and off campus, until we hit 5% vacancy

    b. Redesign and reform our developer relations, university relations, and our neighborhood relations processes

    c. Identify and implement policy pilot programs oriented around cost-saving measures (i.e. pilot program for performance-based pavement evaluation, significant savings on pavement repair costs)

    3) (Develop a vision for 2040 Davis) Encapsulate these realizations along with other current realities of Davis and codify them in our next General Plan update (with a specific and intentional focus on a robust Housing Element)

  8. Roberta Millstein

    How ‘bout we cut the highfaulitin’ vague language and be a bit more direct:

    How much/how fast do you think Davis should grow in terms of numbers of residents?  How much/how fast do you think Davis should grow in terms of commercial development?  Should our emphasis be more on one type of growth than the other?

    With respect to both types of growth, should it grow up (be denser) or out (consume open space) or both?

    1. Keith O

      How ‘bout we cut the highfaulitin’ vague language and be a bit more direct:

      I agree, vague is the word.  We need to get direct answers to questions, not end arounds.

      1. Sean Raycraft

        I agree with this sentiment, although I am not sure specific numbers should be tossed out casually, only because I dont think there is good enough data available, yet.

        1. Roberta Millstein

          Even something rough would be an improvement from what we have now.  Otherwise it’s just platitudes that everyone would agree with and are completely open to interpretation.

        2. Keith O

          Yes, answers that leave a lot of wiggle room.

          For instance, if a candidate is asked are you for or against rent control a simple one word answer is all that is needed, ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

  9. Sean Raycraft

    Whenever we are talking about housing and the city council, the discussion gets complicated quickly. For what its worth, I think what davis ought to do is densify, and have rental market infill projects. We ought to build up, not out to help meet the needs of our citizens.

    1. Jeff M

      Why do you believe higher density and building up is a better choice… especially with the evidence that NIMBYs come out of the neighborhood woodwork to defeat it?

        1. Howard P

          Technically, they are the same… if the CC represented the community at the 50% level the CC vote would be 2.5 to 2.5 … that can’t happen… so, by rounding, 50% +1 = 3-2… you could also argue that a 3-2 CC vote is a 60% vote… just about 10% short of a ‘super-majority’… just saying…

  10. Howard P

    Ok… am geek (when I’m not being a snarky troll)… but just heard the street sweeper going by…

    I’d like to know how the candidates view the solid waste successor to DWR… services (garbage, recyclables, lawn/yard waste, other organics, street sweeping)… contracted vs. city?… validation/reduction/enhancement of existing services?

    We often don’t think of basic City services… yet, those are the reasons the city was formed… emergency services, water supply, sanitary sewage disposal, drainage, etc.  It wasn’t for parks, recreation, social services… good topic as we are finishing our 100 years as a City…

    Goes to both finances and priorities

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