Council Weekly Questions: Support for Measure R

The Vanguard is launching its weekly question series that will go from today to the election with 11 questions.  Unlike previous years, the Vanguard has a hard cut off both for length (250 words) and time received.

Question 1: Do you support renewal or repeal of Measure R when it expires in 2020?  If you support renewal, what if any modifications would you seek?

Dan Carson

As I have said publicly for years, I support the existing requirement for approval by Davis voters of proposals to annex agricultural and open space lands to the city for new housing or commercial development.  I voted “yes” for both Measure J and Measure R.

I am hopeful that voters will approve annexation proposals that benefit the city and respect our shared Davis values favoring smart and sustainable development.  I also believe there are further opportunities to provide additional housing and commercial space within the city limits through smart and sustainable infill projects.

Finally, while I personally do not have any specific proposals to amend the existing language of Measure J/R, I welcome any suggestions that may come forward from Davis citizens to improve the measure.

I also will assess how the update to the General Plan that the city will soon begin informs future decisions about renewal of Measure J/R. A measure as important as this one to the future of our city warrants an inclusive and collaborative discussion before it is sent back to the voters for renewal.

Linda Deos

I have been a long time supporter of Measure R. I voted to renew it in 2010. I would, however, support amendments which would serve to strengthen it by ensuring even greater public participation in the proposed project. If amending Measure R is not the best means to ensure greater public participation, I fully support renewing Measure R in 2020 as it is currently written.

After attending numerous commission and council meetings, I’ve been especially struck by the lack of information provided to city commissioners who are asked to weigh in on many projects brought forward. I’ve also seen the real frustration from our volunteer commissioners that their respective efforts and time have been for naught due to their inability to truly weigh in on proposals.

Either through amendment of Measure R, or through some other appropriate means, I support adding provisions which would serve to strengthen the process for reviewing future projects by ensuring even greater public participation in the proposed project. Let’s look at an amendment requiring more specificity as to the details of the proposed project before it can be presented to the city Commissions and/or an amendment requiring that the Commissions be given the opportunity to review the proposed project again if it has gone through major revisions after the Commission had initially reviewed it.

Strengthening the review process assures our voice is heard and enables all residents to be a part of creating the kind of Davis we want to have in the future.

Mark West

I support the goals of Measure R, to provide for controlled, measured growth to meet our internal needs and to protect farmland. Unfortunately, in the 17 years since it was first enacted, we have not seen any new annexation of land by the City for either residential or economic development, resulting in both a severe housing shortage and an equally severe fiscal crisis. This artificial scarcity has increased rents and the cost of living in town, while also resulted in sprawling leapfrog developments in both Woodland and at West Village, with the consequent destruction of valuable farmland.

I believe that Measure R is a serious impediment to our ability to address our housing and fiscal challenges. If our goal is to meet the needs of our residents while protecting farmland, then we should do so by being careful about which lands we use for expansion, and by being efficient in how well we utilize those lands. Smart, measured growth is our best approach to addressing our housing and economic development needs. Measure R, as currently implemented, has not allowed for smart, measured growth. Consequently, I do not support the renewal of Measure R in its present form, nor do I have any proposed modifications for improving its implementation.

Mary Jo Bryan

Measure J, the Citizens’ Right to Vote on Future Use of Open Space and Agricultural Lands, was passed by Davis voters in 2000, and became part of our Municipal Code.

In 2010 Measure R extended the sunset date to December 31, 2020.

The City of Davis’ existing General Plan was adopted in 2001, amended in 2007, and in January 2017, a citywide General Plan update began with a series of public meetings and workshops that broadly represent the diversity of interests in the Davis community at large.

For me the General Plan Update and the 2020 voter decision about Measure R share similar timelines, and also should share a similar future.  They both need broad citizen input through public meetings and workshops.

We are updating our General Plan because our society and community are very different now than they were in 2000-2001.   What our citizens feel about those differences must inform both the General Plan Update and the future of Measure R.

We need to actively and thoroughly collect that will of the community so that Davis’ future reflects a well-informed consensus both in its General Plan and in its Municipal Code … the current legal location of the Citizens’ Right to Vote on Future Use of Open Space and Agricultural Lands.

That collective will of the community will inform the Council regarding how to put the future of Measure R on the 2020 ballot.

Gloria Partida

Measure R has been a double edged sword for the city of Davis. It has defended the city from rampant growth, sprawl and poorly envisioned design.

At the same time it has driven housing prices up and changed the whole character of who is able to live in Davis. No longer can generations of Davisites grow legacies of future homeowners. No longer can UCD students stay as young adults or return with families. Like many measures enacted in response to a problem it is in need of a revision. However just the suggestion of such a thing sends people into a panic with visions of paved acreage and a looming Hollywood sign erected on the closest thing we have to a hill. The fear sadly is real.

Without growth control cities grow often poorly. Especially when driven by a leviathan of innovation, progress, and magnet for people seeking opportunity and higher degrees. Measure R for many is the last strand of control they have on a vision of Mayberry RFD.

What people do not realize is that displeasure works both ways. A dissatisfied, frustrated and energized student base along with young middle class families and those generations of children that call Davis home but cannot live here have a chance to vote Measure R down in 2020.

It is time to offer an alternative. I see a modification where we give people a vote on where and how much growth we accept provided the growth is fully planned and vetted.

Larry Guenther

I support Measure R and – if elected – will vote to put it on the ballot.  If amendments are proposed I will look at them, but I will not vote for any change that weakens the intent of the measure.  People say that Measure R is causing the housing crisis.  I disagree.  I believe Measure J/R votes have failed because the proposed projects were not perceived by voters as sufficiently improving the city.  If we are going to develop on open space/ag land, the bar needs to be high: ideally, proposals would be dense, fiscally positive for the city, reduce reliance on the automobile, and integrated into the City’s transit system.

Eric Gudz

Urban Growth Boundaries are good for towns like Davis. They’re one of the many factors that go into our high quality of life. But the Davis dream that we’ve all come to love is becoming available to fewer and fewer people. We need to take a look at this process and make a couple small changes to reduce the uncertainty involved and take some pressure off of the housing market without sprawling outward and paving over our prized open spaces.

I think we should consider placing hard parameters on projects proposed on Davis’ periphery or a similar mechanism to increase transparency and awareness of each project’s various features. These parameters will ensure that only a certain caliber of project can make it to the ballot in Davis and voters can make their decision knowing that every project that comes before them meets a certain standard.

In the past, that was CEQA (or the California Environmental Quality Act), a review process that few voters are familiar with. But it’s obviously not enough, considering a Measure J/R project has never been approved by the voters to move forward. What the new specific parameters are, we should determine the best way Davis knows: an open dialogue of engaged citizenry.

We may end up seeing fewer proposals, but of those we do see, we will know they will have a higher chance of satisfying our community’s values.

With those caveats, I support renewing Measure R on the ballot again in 2020.

Ezra Beeman

I am a strong supporter of Measure J/R and support its renewal. This measure ensures that developers craft projects that meet the Davis community’s high standards for things like housing needs, affordability, open spaces and sustainability. Whether a project is subject to a measure R/J vote or not, the City should be engaging in community-driven planning processes.


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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. Matt Williams

      Keith, your comment above is reminiscent of the long-running conversation you and I had two years ago.  The question (as posed) presumes that Council members should dictate to the citizens as opposed to listen to the citizens.

      By your comment, you appear to be comfortable with dictatorship like that, and only want to know the terms of the dictatorship.  I personally want to be represented by people who are willing to actively listen to the citizens.

      I do appreciate the clarity of some of the answers above, regardless of whether they are stating that their mind is already made up, or are stating that listening to the will of the current Davis populace is important.

      With that said, I agree with you that some of the candidates’ answers do not provide a clear path forward.

      1. David Greenwald

        Matt’s point in my view is spot on here. One of the thoughts I have had even though I asked this question is how much the view of the candidates on Measure R matter when ultimately the matter will go to the voters to decide.

        1. Ron

          David:  Some want to eliminate, or drastically change the renewal measure that’s presented to voters.  Therefore, voters may effectively not “get to decide”, depending upon which candidates get into office (and the unknown changes they might make to the renewal measure, itself).

          That’s why it matters, regarding the candidates’ positions regarding Measure R renewal.

          1. David Greenwald

            It reminds me of the discussion in 2010. People were afraid of what the council would do as it was the council that has put Measure X on the ballot and controlled council with a perpetual 3-2 vote. But the public process fleshed out the community’s thoughts and the council put up a straight renewal. I suspect that the public process will play out in a similar way this time and the council will act accordingly.

          1. David Greenwald

            Why do you suspect I’m completely wrong? Were you around in 2010 or aware of the general attitude of the council majority at that time towards Measure R? Remember it is Brett Lee, Will Arnold and Lucas Frerichs already on the council for 2020, so which of those are going to vote to kill or drastically alter Measure R? I just don’t see it.

        2. Ron

          I’m not entirely sure of their positions, especially if a revision is proposed.

          Again, if you ultimately want the measure to possibly be messed with or eliminated at some point, then there’s lots of choices (other than the two clear supporters of the measure – as is).

          1. David Greenwald

            And if one ultimately believe that the measure will not be “messed” with, then there are other issues that are of greater concern.

        3. Howard P

          Perhaps (if is legal, and I believe it is) it’d be a good idea to put two measure R items on the ballot… one to renew as is (which I would strenuously vote NO on), and one to amend/revise it to make it more rational (which I might vote ‘yes’ on, depending on the provisions).  If they both pass, the one with the most votes wins.

          One way to do that is have the CC put the revised one on the ballot, and those who want the status quo can put their measure on, as a ‘citizen initiative’..

          If both fail, Measure R will “sunset”… I could accept that outcome, too.

          1. David Greenwald

            I think that would be an extraordinarily bad idea. I don’t understand why we don’t trust a public process to allow the council to gauge the pulse of the community and them put a measure on the ballot that the community will back.

        4. Matt Williams

          David, do you agree that that is precisely what Mary Jo has proposed in her answer to the question?

          There is a natural synergy between the public process that is informing the General Plan Update (see the City website page for a description of that process) with an initial focus on the Downtown Davis Plan.  The meetings and workshops of that process (as well as additional supplemental meetings and workshops) are a perfect place to be soliciting the thoughts of Davis voters and residents and businesses about the future of Measure R.  Jeff and Keith and Ron and everyone else can come and weigh in with their thoughts about what has worked well in the 18 years of Measure J/R and what has worked poorly.


        5. Ron

          David:  Do you mean like how they gauged the “pulse of the community” regarding Trackside and B Street, for example?  And, Nishi 1.0, Covell Village, etc.?

          I don’t think there’s sufficient support to “re-examine” the pulse of the community regarding Measure R, or to elect candidates who wish to do so in some unknown manner.

        6. David Greenwald

          Matt: For the most part – I don’t recall specific outreach meetings in 2010, but for the most part, the council took its cues from the public which in 2010, in the heart of the recession and coming off the thumping of Measure P, was not interested in tweaking Measure R.  I think the debate will be more interesting this time, but the result may end up being the same.

        7. David Greenwald

          Why do you think they misguaged the pulse of the community on Trackside and B St?  On Nishi, they put it on the ballot, it was defeated.  Isn’t that how the process is supposed to wok?

        8. Ron

          David:  “On Nishi, they put it on the ballot, it was defeated.  Isn’t that how the process is supposed to work?

          Yes, it is.  Some candidates want to take away that process, or possibly mute it in some unknown manner.

          1. David Greenwald

            I do think that’s separate from your question about Nishi. That said, as I was thinking about it, I think a significant revision as Measure R sunsets is an extraordinarily bad idea. You end up with potential noise there – did people oppose the measure because they oppose Measure R or did they oppose it because they oppose the revisions. It puts the people who support Measure R but oppose the revisions in a real bind.

        9. Howard P

          Well, David, that means, that  is most likely it will be ”a take it, or leave it thing”… that will be the only choice voters will have… not whether to amend/revise, just to say yes or no as to final product.  Given the flaws in the current system, it either gets fixed to address the flaws or I’m a solid NO, and do my best to convince others that the zealots have their hands over their ears, and are willing to have their way, knowing that they can scare folk out of total repeal/sunset.

          In any event, I’m not losing sleep over it.  Although philosophically opposed, it has been great for my market values…

      2. Keith O


        The question (as posed) presumes that Council members should dictate to the citizens as opposed to listen to the citizens.

        Matt, as a voter if I’m for the renewal of Measure R doesn’t it make sense that I woud want a candidate that was also for it’s renewal and not a candidate that was uncommitted?

        1. Matt Williams

          It is your right to take that kind of exclusive position/approach.  I personally don’t see Council members as representing individual interests, rather I see them as representing the whole community.  I don’t want them to be prejudiced for a specific solution before a decision.  I want them to be open-minded and listen inclusively to a broad cross section of the community, and then make an informed, representative decision after that thorough listening has been completed.

        2. Keith O

          Then going with what you want we should only elect council members who have no political party or biases and come to the council being totally neutral.  Not going to happen.  People elect candidates who they feel will represent their intersests the best.

    2. Jeff M

      I think you and I agree on many things, but not this.  Measure R is allowing the inmates to run the asylum.  The goal of any community experiencing growth pressure is to have robust and sophisticated smart growth.  A comprehensive general plan, and form-based codes that spell out design features.  And a well-participated and well-run planing commission that helps insure the voice of all reasonable people in the community are heard and their issues, concerns and dreams have a voice.

      Cities that have these things don’t need a Measure R.  Davis should have these things and not need a Measure R.

      Measure R is a poster child for the law of negative unintended consequences (although some that support it fully intend the consequences).

      Any candidate that speaks out strongly in support of Measure R and against changes to it will not get my vote and will also be a target of defeat for the N I M B Y – Resistance.

      1. Matt Williams

        Keith and Jeff, you are both citizens of this fine burgh and in theory the Council represents both of you equally.

        How do you think they should measure and weigh your sentiments in the next 24 months?
        How do you expect them to reconcile the stark contrasts of your respective beliefs/positions?
        How representative of the community as a whole (or alternatively the 40,4017 registered voters) do you think your respective positions are?

        I’m sure Ron is out there pounding the drum in alignment with Keith’s position.  It would be democratic of him if he would comply with the Vanguard comment policy and append the one letter initial of a last name to “Ron.”  If he did, his voice would be “heard.”

        1. David Greenwald

          The answer is simple.  Jeff will one for one set of candidates.  Keith and Ron for another.  I will vote for a third set of candidates on the basis of issues other than their position of Measure R.  The winner will determine the policy direction of the community.

          1. David Greenwald

            Eee, ahh, no. There are some possible solutions. One would be to have a straight up and down vote on Measure R separate from the question of revisions. The other, which I wouldn’t recommend would be to have competing measures. A third, would be to put the proposed revisions on the ballot prior to the expiration of Measure R so a no vote doesn’t kill the Measure.

        2. Matt Williams

          But you said that the Council election in the coming months will determine the fate of Measure R.   “Jeff will one for one set of candidates.  Keith and Ron for another.  I will vote for a third set. The winner will determine the policy direction of the community.”

          That means (to me at least) that political posturing and calculated rhetoric by nine citizens is more meaningful to you than building on an already-in-place inclusive public process to gauge the will of the citizenry.

          With nine candidates for two positions we are much more likely to see an election campaign period that is more like 2016’s Trump-Clinton than 2014’s Davis-Swanson-Munn-Parella-Allen.  This year’s Council candidates will be carefully shepherding their respective core constituencies, and being vocal on controversial issues will lose them more votes than it will gain them.  As a result there is unlikely to be robust dialogue about those controversial issues … and that means the will of the people on those specific issues will have little or no opportunity to be heard.

          The General Plan Update process will be largely immune from those “I want to be elected” concerns.  Virtually no one on the Downtown Plan Advisory Committee is looking to get elected … and the process of that Committee is removed from the Council Election political theater.  An inclusive process like that would be a terrible thing to waste.

          1. David Greenwald

            “But you said that the Council election in the coming months will determine the fate of Measure R. “Jeff will one for one set of candidates. Keith and Ron for another. I will vote for a third set. The winner will determine the policy direction of the community.””

            I meant in a broader way than just Measure R.

      2. Tia Will


        Measure R is allowing the inmates to run the asylum.”

        Nurse Ratched heartily approves this statement. She firmly believes that she should maintain ( via 3-2 vote) a firm grip on power regardless of what the citizens….er…inmates might feel is the best course for the city.

        1. Jim Frame

          With nine candidates for two positions we are much more likely to see an election campaign period that is more like 2016’s Trump-Clinton than 2014’s Davis-Swanson-Munn-Parella-Allen.

          At this point I don’t have much hope that this election is going to represent a coherent will of the people — there are simply too many candidates for too few seats.  Dan Carson has the organization and endorsements that virtually assure him a spot, though I think his winning tally will be based more on name recognition than policy positions.  (I’m not denigrating his policy positions, I simply think the majority of City Council voters don’t know much about those for whom they vote.)   I think the No. 2 is anybody’s guess.  I believe the Measure R effect will be limited to sinking the prospects of Mark West, the one candidate who has come out unequivocally against it.  Those candidates who publicly favor Measure R or waffle about unspecified amendments will contend for Dan’s crumbs, but it’s going to be hard for any of them to break out of their own little constituencies and grab a winning share of the votes.

          But who knows, maybe the students will finally get riled up enough to vote in numbers and deliver a surprise result, or maybe Mark will convince a whole lot of people to relinquish their power over annexations.  The outcome will certainly be interesting, but I can’t say that I see this as a very hopeful election cycle.  (Say, I wonder if the Russians are funding some of these campaigns…)

  1. James R

    Thank you Mark for taking the strongest stance against the growth-inhibiting Measure R. It’s unfortunate, though, to see other candidates so indecisive against its renewal.

    It would be interesting to see which of the council candidates are property owners, and if so, where they live in relation to potential development sites. That could inform why they take such regressive stances.

    1. Eric Gelber

      That could inform why they take such regressive stances.

      Interesting use of the term “regressive.” It seems that the regressive position here would be allowing Measure R to simply sunset, thereby returning to the pre-Measure R days. That said, I agree with Keith that there was a lot  of equivocation here and a lack of specifics on how Measure R might be modified moving forward.

      1. Mark West

        A renewable urban line limit would be a more honest approach to the issue, as it would define the allowable expansion for a period of time and separate the annexation decision from a project’s design and approval, thus removing the extreme financial risk of the public vote.

        As it stands, Measure R is simply a regressive tax on renters to benefit wealthy property owners and is a serious impediment to the community’s economic growth and opportunity.

    2. Jeff M

      I agree.  Mark seems to be the most direct and honest and knowledgeable in consideration of Measure R.  Ezra is just another no-growth protector of property values.  Mary Jo sounds like a politician. So is Larry.   Dan is walking a line too far in support of those that block change… which is disappointing given his experience on the Budget and Finance Committee where he has been involved in many hours of work and discussions that clearly show that Davis is in deep financial doggy doo because of our lack of development over the years.

      The others appear to be open to at least changing Measure R to serve the people and not just the No-Grower tribe.

    3. Tia Will


      As an example of just how divided we are as a community, I feel the same as you have expressed, just on the other side of the issue. I will consider support for Measure R as a major part of the decision of whom I will support and vote for.

  2. Ron

    So, it appears that Ezra and Larry are strong supporters of Measure R.

    If you want it possibly “messed with” or eliminated, then there’s other candidates.  (Seems like Linda is a supporter as well, but not sure of the viability of her idea.)

  3. Don Shor
    The council can do nothing and let Measure R expire.
    The council can put Measure R on the ballot for renewal exactly as it is presently worded.
    The council can modify Measure R and put the modified version on the ballot.
    The council can put a revised version of Measure R, and the old version of Measure R, on the same ballot.
    Any of those options would be decided at a council meeting, agendized in advance, and debated in public with public input.
    Any group of citizens can put a new version of Measure R on the ballot by initiative.
    Any group of citizens can put the current version of Measure R on the ballot by initiative, even if a revised version is on the same ballot.
    More than one version can be on the same ballot.
    Whichever version gets the most votes, wins.
  4. Todd Edelman

    As a complement – and it’s more important, perhaps – I’d like to see specific visions for both the Downtown and General Plans. How we shape these in the next couple of years informs an R-related vote more than anything else, perhaps.

    We feed children because we want them to grow up and get taller. We fatten geese. Children are like good, dense cities and car-dependency is like foie gras! We can’t expand out until we go up, unless we want to continue our vision of narcissistic cruelty to each other and the planet.

    I want to hear more specifics from candidates that mention ecological footprint, joy, internalization of costs, how social neighborhoods reduce crime, the absurdity of I-80, elimination of parking minimums and switch from LOS to VMT.

  5. Alan Miller

    We fatten geese.

    To eat them.

    the absurdity of I-80

    I, too, would love to see the candidates respond to this . . . strictly for the entertainment value.

  6. Alan Miller

    allow the council to gauge the pulse of the community and them put a measure on the ballot that the community will back.

    “A yes vote will maintain or increase your property values”

    That should do it.

  7. Tia Will

    I would like the candidates to explain their perception of the difference between money and value. I suspect at least a couple of them do not make a differentiation between the two.

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