Sierra Club Yolano Group 2018 Council Candidates Part 5 – Transportation Management and Toxics in the Environment

by Alan Pryor

The Sierra Club Yolano Group recently provided a questionnaires for Davis City Council candidates in which we asked for written responses on a wide range of environmentally-related issues of importance to our local electorate and our members in the following general categories:

An introductory article in the Davis Vanguard explaining the process and listing all of the questions together can be found at https://www.davisvanguard.org/2018/04/sierra-club-yolano-group-2018-questionnaire-davis-city-council-candidates/.

Because of the extraordinarily large number of candidates vying for the 2 available seats and the amount of space it would require to report all of the responses in a single article, we are reporting the answers in one or two general categories per day. This is the 5th in this series and will have questions and answers on Transportation Management and Toxics in the Environment.

This article asks questions about the following issues in order:

  • Bicycle Use
  • Downtown Parking
  • Pesticide Use Reduction
  • Wood Smoke

Additional articles with questions and answers in other categories will be provided in subsequent articles in the order of the categories given above. Previous Vanguard articles with questions and candidate answers in other general categories can be accessed by clicking on the link following the category in the list above.

This candidate responses are in the same order for each question to facilitate review. The order in the first article on Land Use and Housing Development was originally arranged alphabetically by last name. The first two names were subsequently lowered to the last two slots in subsequent articles which practice will continue throughout the series.

Sierra Club policy only allows endorsements of candidates up to the number of seats being contested – or two in the case of the current Davis City Council race. Given the obviously strong environmental credentials of most of the candidates, and in all fairness, we are unable to limit our support to only two candidates from this very qualified field in this election. Thus, the Sierra Club Yolano Group must take “No Position” in this race. That said, there are some notable differences between the candidates in general and on specific issues so we provide Davis voters and our members with the questions and the candidates’ responses for their consideration.


Issue – Bicycle Use

Question

Davis prides itself on being a bicycle-oriented city with miles of bike lanes and paths throughout the community to facilitate bike use as an alternative form of transportation. Yet, the bicycle mode-share in Davis has dropped in recent years

What would you propose to make the bicycle a more viable and safe transportation mode in Davis?

Answers

Gloria Partida –

We should maintain our bike lanes and work with schools to promote biking. We should also consider implementing a yield for bikes at stop signs for riders over 18 years.

Luis Rios –

The City needs to invest on guarded bike lanes, safer pathways and overall bike infrastructure. The following can be implemented to improve the City’s bike riding community:

  1. Design a bicycle road network throughout the City
  2. Invest in outreach and marketing on bicycle safety
  3. Promote electric bike-sharing programs and offer incentives
  4. Seek funding opportunities for energy-efficient modes of transportation

Mark West –

According to a recent consultant’s report, the bicycle mode share in Davis is greater than in any other city. The bicycle is already a viable and safe transportation mode in Davis and I don’t see expansion of the mode share as a high priority item for the City when compared to more acute needs. That said, we should continue to incorporate bicycle and pedestrian connectivity as a priority in development and redevelopment plans.

Ezra Beeman –

I think the key to more biking is to make it safer, faster and more

convenient for able bodied people.

I would work to implement Brett Lee’s vision for improving all of the above. Further to this, I would look to improve our biking thoroughfares, including adding safety barriers, to make biking the fastest, safest and most convenient way to get around Davis.

Mary Jo Bryan –

I am supporting both Parcel Taxes.  Our bike lanes and paths are in great need of maintenance and repair. I appreciate the signs and warning lights at crosswalks. I ride my bike and walk the paths and bike path safety is a major concern for me.

I support the park maintenance tax. Maintaining our parks, greenbelts, pedestrian walkways, bike paths, and wildlife habitats is a major part of what defines our city, and keeps Davis, Davis.

I support the street and bike path tax – our streets and bike paths are in serious need of both maintenance and repair.

Daniel Carson –

The city has and continues to encourage bicycling through restriping streets and intersections, providing bicycle-only cycles on traffic lights at critical intersections and other measures. It must work with Caltrans to ensure that sufficient accommodation of bicycles is included as part of the planned Causeway expansion, including the potential for improved connections for Davis-Sacramento bike commuters. It should also look for further opportunities in the future for new developments to provide bicycle- and transit-only routes to high-destination locales such as the campus or large retail centers.

Finally, when UC Davis comes forward with its campus expansion plans, we should negotiate whatever mitigation measures are necessary to accommodate the increased number of students heading to and from campus by bicycle.  For example, the city and the campus have discussed in the past moving the bike path on the south side of Russell Boulevard and west of Highway 113 away from the trees next to Russell that are causing severe damage to this bike path.

Linda Deos –

We need to convert major arteries such as Anderson, Covell, Cowell, L Street, and Pole Line into more bike friendly routes. I support the work being proposed for Anderson to do just that. I also support improving the quality of our bike paths located throughout town and through our parks and greenbelts. I hope that with the passage of Measure I in June we can get this done. I also would like to see more bike parking – including areas with covered bicycle parking.

I hope that with the introduction of electric assisted bicycles we will see an increase in ridership.

Eric Gudz –

First step we can take is to ensure the passage of the transportation infrastructure tax in June. Our pathways are in really bad shape and years of neglect are taking their toll. We all know cyclists who’ve had to make hospital trips due to the state of our bike paths and roads– we’re already paying a fortune. It’s time to acknowledge the truth: that no one will bail us out on this one. We’ve got to buckle up and fix this problem ourselves. Additionally, we need to ensure that we examine points of conflict and multi-modal intersections to ensure that we are ensuring sufficient right-of-way for our bicyclists and active transportation users. Weaning our roadways designs off of an auto-centric model will be the way forward into the next century of Davis

Larry Guenther –

Bike viability comes with safety and accessibility.  I would like to look at reducing vehicular traffic downtown and reducing the speed limit to 15 mph.

We also need to improve bike connectivity throughout Davis, e.g. Mace overcrossing, Olive/Richards intersection, and Richards overcrossing.

I think a bicycle/pedestrian undercrossing on Olive Dr. at Richards would be a vast improvement for all modes of travel at the Olive/Richards intersection.


Issue – Downtown Parking Structure

Question

Do you support the construction of a new automobile parking structure near or in the downtown core and why or why not?

If yes, where would you like to see it located, how large should it be, and how should it be paid for?

Answers

Gloria Partida –

I support the construction of a parking structure at the Amtrak lot paid for by transportation funds and grants. I also think that regular bikes should be provided at parking lots for sharing with patrons to downtown.

Luis Rios –

No. I would not support a new car parking structure in the downtown area because the future of transportation methods may be changing and evolving. With limited space, the City needs to explore zipcar stations and bike-sharing racks in the area. Other options should be explored in lieu of a massive parking structure.

Mark West –

No. Stand alone parking structures are a poor use of resources. What we should focus on in the core is redevelopment of the private and public surface lots into mixed-use projects with retail and other commercial on the bottom, residential above, and parking hidden behind and below.

Ezra Beeman –

This is only a near-term solution. When not bicycling or walking/running, ride sharing and automation are the future. We will probably need a solution for the next 10 years, based on transport studies. I note that the current parking garages are almost never full.

Improving our utilization of existing assets should be prioritized. I want to see the data on congestion periods, and drivers of this congestion. If a cost benefit assessment shows a new structure is the best way forward, then we should build it near, not in, downtown. Drawing the traffic into the core is counterproductive.

The best site appears to be on Hickory Lane with a railroad undercrossing into the downtown. This is in the general plan, yet the city has neglected to establish a funding program to make this happen. This site can displace rail commuter parking from inside the triangle, freeing up more day parking in the core. There are lots of funding sources: the remaining redevelopment money, an assessment district, parking/permit fees, impact fees from surrounding project approvals, etc

Mary Jo Bryan –

I would support additional peripheral multi-story parking structures, convenient to downtown, carefully designed for aesthetic, safety, accessibility and convenience.   I would provide incentives for parking in the parking structures, i.e. free with receipt validation, long-term parking and employee parking. The Chamber could work with local restaurants to provide additional incentives.

I believe the city is already looking at the Amtrak station parking lot, which I would support. The Downtown Davis Plan Advisory Committee will also be evaluating sites and making recommendations.

Daniel Carson –

The state’s repeal of redevelopment funding mechanisms will make it much more difficult for the city to finance and build an expensive new downtown parking structure to increase parking supply.  Until this problem is solved with new funding help from the state or federal government, or until economic conditions change such that privately anchored redevelopment of downtown sites with additional parking becomes possible, I believe the city should focus on these approaches:

— Phone apps that help persons driving downtown find available parking spots more easily.

— Promotion of bike-friendly events to encourage individuals to travel downtown without their cars.

— Developing a new downtown plan that explores the potential for adding rental and owner-occupied housing for persons, such as students or up and coming UC Davis faculty, interested in a car-free or, at least, less car-dependent lifestyle.

— Exploring the potential use of city land, such as the parking lot adjacent to the Amtrak depot, for high-rise housing for Davis residents interested in using the Capitol Corridor to commute to work in Sacramento or the Bay Area.  The city could also investigate whether such a project could generate the money needed for additional parking spaces at the train depot.

Linda Deos –

In planning for the next twenty years, I don’t see building new automobile structures to be in our best interest financially. This is because car ownership is steadily decreasing year by year and thus the alleged need to further subsidize automobiles lessens. My one exception may be the parking area next to the train depot. I say this based on feedback I’ve heard from the downtown business owners who see a need for employee parking on the outside edge of downtown. I’m not yet convinced of such a need, but I want to hear more from these folks before I conclusively say no.

I would also like the City to enter into agreements with the owners of private parking lots; e.g., Bank of America, to use their parking lots in the evenings and on week-ends

Eric Gudz –

As a scholar of transportation and land use, I can say with certainty that we do not have a parking supply problem in Davis; we have a parking management problem. I would heavily advocate for additional parking management and transportation demand management solutions to be thoroughly considered before we hit our city’s struggling budget with a  70-80 million dollar parking structure (which might even be obsolete in 15 years with automated vehicles). We need to be building for the future of Davis, and we need to be thinking about transportation alternatives that complement our community’s goals for sustainability. We can also explore options for incentivizing our downtown employees towards a park-and-ride solution in coordination with Unitrans utilizing space on our town’s periphery to free up downtown parking for patrons and residents.

Larry Guenther –

No.  I would like to improve the existing parking infrastructure first.

  • Re-vamping the X permit system to be more efficacious at getting employees to park outside or at the perimeter of downtown.
  • Work with downtown banks to reduce branch size and possibly partner with the City to allow use of their lots by people other than only their customers.
  • I am in favor of the current plan for paid parking downtown.
  • We need to stop using the automobile as the central concern of our land-use planning.

Issue – Downtown Parking Meters

Question

Do you support the addition of parking meters on downtown streets or in downtown city-owned public parking lots or parking structures and why or why not?

Answers

Gloria Partida –

I do not support this as I do not see how this would help and it would be a burden on employees and lower income patrons.

Luis Rios –

No. Parking meters will not attract more shoppers. Many local business owners do not support parking meters. Although, it may be a revenue for the city, downtown businesses must be involved in any decision on parking meters.

Mark West –

Yes, to better manage our parking inventory. The method of implementation, and the continued monitoring of the results will be critical for success.

Ezra Beeman –

No, there are better ways to manage parking: replace parallel parking with slant parking, redesign the configuration of existing parking areas to minimize ingress/egress drives, provide designated downtown employee parking and incentives for using that area or for non-vehicle transit, work with DJUSD to incorporate a parking structure in the redevelopment of their B Street facility, etc.

Mary Jo Bryan –

At this point I do not support parking meters, especially on city streets.  I want to encourage people to come downtown and at this time my generation does not because of lack of parking and lack of retail stores.  However, revitalization of the downtown is a goal of the Downtown Davis Advisory Committee, and I am attending as many meetings and focus groups as I can.

Daniel Carson –

I support the City Council’s decision to experiment with paid on-street parking in a quadrant of downtown Davis to see if providing a fiscal incentive through parking meters could open up more parking availability for customers by creating more frequent turnover in parking spots and by encouraging more peripheral parking by employees of downtown businesses and other longer-term parkers.  However, as a council member, I would pay close attention to the detailed implementation of the program to ensure it does not have the unintended adverse effect of chasing away customers from our vital downtown core.  We must monitor how these changes affect parking behavior, and we must also monitor carefully how they affect downtown businesses. We should be open to fine-tuning this effort as we go or even taking a step back if we aren’t getting the results we all want.

Linda Deos –

Yes. I believe that by property managing our parking through the use of smart meters we can assure parking availability in our downtown. I also see this as a step toward making our downtown more pedestrian and bicycle friendly.

Eric Gudz –

Yes, because the truth is that parking is not free. The true cost of a covered parking space is nearly $9.00/hour, and if you aren’t paying that, it’s being subsidized by a variety of means for you to not have to bear that cost yourself. In order for us to meet our sustainability goals and better manage the supply of our parking, we need to support more realistic parking management solutions (like paid parking) and use price points to better distribute the impact of parking throughout our town. This will reduce the amount of congestion downtown and will likely improve the air quality in the process as less cars will be circulating in search of parking. That, coupled with the utilization of those parking funds for transportation alternatives and active transportation initiatives will help to get even more citizens out of their cars.

Larry Guenther –

Yes.  They have been shown to be effective at addressing parking issues.  I think this needs to be partnered with making the X permit system more effective.  (See above)


Issue – Pesticide Use Reduction

Question

Davis recently immediately banned the use of pollinator-killing neonicotinoid class of pesticides and phases out the use of the herbicide glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Round-up product) over a 3-year. However, the City Council declined to require that only certified organic pesticides be used in the City’s Parks and Open Spaces as recommended by the Natural Resources Commission and endorsed by the Sierra Club Yolano Group.

Do you support restricting pesticide use on City properties to only those certified as “organic” and why or why not?

Answers

Gloria Partida –

I support restricting pesticide use everywhere.

Luis Rios –

Yes. I support the elimination of pesticides in the city parks and greenbelts. I support certified organic pesticides for open spaces, city parks and greenbelts. When elected, I will push to approve a policy that would support certified organic products only for our green spaces. As a son who lost a father from multiple myeloma, I am against dangerous and toxic resources.

Mark West –

‘Organic’ is not synonymous with ‘safer.’ The City should focus on resident safety and not buzzwords.

Ezra Beeman –

Yes, common sense, safety, cost, align with community desires on this issue. Also, heeding the desires of our community, commissions and community volunteers encourages civic engagement, which I value.

Mary Jo Bryan –

I will support and work for pesticide free parks in Davis.  I believe that for everyone’s health, we should only use organic certified material in our parks.

Daniel Carson –

It is important that our city pursue environmental policies that are safe for our citizens, especially children, and for pets and wildlife. For this reason, I support the recent “green parks” initiative adopted by the City Council.

I would need to better understand the impacts of public health, on park operations, and the fiscal implications of the organics-only policy that you propose before reaching a decision as a council member and would welcome having that discussion with members of your organization and the experts on this subject matter who reside in our community, conduct research at UC Davis, and serve on the city’s Natural Resources Commission.

Linda Deos –

Yes. I, along with thousands others, are frequent users of our parks, greenbelts and open spaces. I am appalled that we are not already using organic pesticides in these areas and would support only using certified organic pesticides because doing so is in the best interest of not only ourselves, but also the wildlife.

Eric Gudz –

Yes – I support the transition of our parks to use only certified organic pesticides and working towards an organic park certification for the city. We have known the detrimental effects of these chemicals for quite some time, and it’s time for some bold action on this front that’s more in line with our core values as a city.

Larry Guenther –

Yes.  We need to stop spreading poison in our environment.


Issue – Wood Smoke

Question

Small particulate pollution is the leading cause of respiratory disease in the Central Valley. Approximately 50% of winter ambient air particulate pollution is related to residential wood burning and a number of Davis residents have complained of nearest-neighbor wood smoke pollution causing respiratory distress. Davis has implemented a wood smoke ordinance that allows complaints to be filed against wood burning residents if they are producing visible smoke from a non-EPA approved wood burning device. However, the police department will not respond to complaints during nighttime hours when almost all wood-burning occurs.

Why or why not do you support this ordinance, and what changes, if any, would you support to it?

Answers

Gloria Partida –

I support this ordinance.

Luis Rios –

Yes. The City needs to look into night-time wood-burning. There needs to be a wood-burning policy that is effective at all hours of the day or night. Perhaps, the City can issue citations or fines for residents wood-burning during the nighttime. With the proper research and direction, the City can implement a better policy aimed at curbing non-EPA approved wood burning devices. Perhaps, the City can inspect the home once a complaint has been filed to ascertain the type of burning device.

Mark West –

The ordinance is fine as it is. I do not see any reason to alter the ordinance or its enforcement.

Ezra Beeman –

We could implement an integrated approach here that uses the City’s energy company to market programs to convert wood burning stoves, as I have, to natural gas, for example.

The program would include outreach so that the community is aware of the impacts of the smoke on the vulnerable in the community. I think we should treat violating of smoke ordinances the same way we treat other ordinances, like noise, etc. If police are not responding, then that should be raised as a complaint, which is reported on.

Mary Jo Bryan –

This is a Public Health Issue and I support it.

Daniel Carson –

As someone who has lived with asthma for many years, I support the city ordinance and have no changes to propose.  I appreciate your stated concerns about police responses to complaints and would like to learn more from you about this situation.

Linda Deos –

I support this ordinance. I have asthma and wood smoke is one of my biggest triggers. I am not alone in having this condition. I would like to see further enforcement of the ordinance; however, I recognize that we are short staffed in the police department and that this may be seen as a lower priority. However, why have this law if it’s not going to be enforced?

Eric Gudz –

I do support this ordinance, and I would be interested in started a dialogue with the Police Department as to their challenges for enforcement. I would need to hear more from their perspective before providing a policy direction on this particular issue.

Larry Guenther –

I support this ordinance.  I have not investigated it adequately to form an opinion on changes I would make.


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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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16 thoughts on “Sierra Club Yolano Group 2018 Council Candidates Part 5 – Transportation Management and Toxics in the Environment”

  1. Don Shor

    There is no organic herbicide that is as effective as glyphosate. The organic herbicide, Scythe, that is recommended by the commission is actually more toxic to the applicator (city staff) than glyphosate, and requires more frequent application. On roadside areas, the use of the organic herbicide would require more frequent applications, exposing city staff to greater risk of working near auto traffic. A good example can be seen right now on the PoleLine overpass, where weeds are growing that could have been killed with a single application of glyphosate earlier in the season.

    Glyphosate is systemic, killing the growing crown and root system of the weed generally with a single application. Scythe only kills the top leaves, requiring multiple applications, and is much less effective on weeds that grow from stolons, rhizomes, or have a rosette growth habit.

    The city had adopted a policy greatly reducing the use of glyphosate by the careful use of Scythe where appropriate, and by combining the two herbicides where that was deemed most effective. This was recommended by the city’s IPM coordinator, and had significantly reduced the use of glyphosate in the city. The data is available.

    The policy adopted by the council is a triumph of emotion over evidence. Glyphosate is a very low-risk pesticide. Organic alternatives are actually higher risk. to the applicator. The policy needs to be revisited with input from experts. The public needs to understand that “organic” does not mean safer, and the impacts of policies on city employees should be fully understood.

    1. Ken A

      Thanks to Don for a great post.  I am a “in the closet” Round up user since I really do meet a lot of people in town that would not let their kids come over if they knew I used Round up in our yard.

      P.S. To Don Is there any scientific reason why the most fertile soil in the world seems to be the soil under cracks in the concrete and under gaps between roads and gutters.  Even “with” the use of Round up nothing seems to grow faster than the weeds in cracks and gaps…

  2. Jim Hoch

    Mary Jo Bryan lives in the only area in Davis without bike paths, Rancho Yolo. Anyone riding north/south or east/west in that area of town needs to ride around the trailer park.

    Given her professed support for bike paths what is her plan to correct this problem?

    1. Howard P

      Funny… always considered Rancho Yolo a great cut through on a bicycle… hardly any traffic, and a true “share the road” development, even with no signs… is a bit of a ‘maze’ tho’, first time you use it…

      1. Howard P

        Actually, I support MHP’s… affordable housing… if well built, well managed… manufactured housing, on rented land… the occupants can own their structure, build equity in that… many of the tax advantages (you can get a mortgage on manufactured housing, able to deduct interest, and personal property taxes)… many newer manufactured housing is well built, and pretty energy efficient… and pretty liveable…

        Just saying…

        1. Ken A

          I don’t want to bash MHCs, but few MHC owners “build much equity” and just like renting furniture or leasing cars it is almost always a bad financial decision to buy a “manufactured home” on land you rent  (even if a sale of the park does not result in increased pad rent or if estate taxes don’t force a sale of the park and you have to to walk away from your “equity” since it almost always costs more to move a MHC than it is worth).

          P.S. To Howard I have ridden through Rancho Yolo but it is not a “great cut through” since it always faster to cut across the bike trail past Greystone east of the park than to cut through Rancho Yolo…

        2. Howard P

          Ken A … most of the time when I used RY for a cut thru, there was no such thing as ‘east of Greystone’ pathway… ag fields… Fifth Street ended at the east end of RY…  and was only a half a street…

        3. Jim Frame

          able to deduct interest, and personal property taxes

          The ability to deduct mortgage interest and real estate taxes has been rendered moot for most MHP dwellers (and a good chunk of SF dwellers, too) due to the recent increase in the standard deduction.

           

        4. Howard P

          Thinking further… the amount of personal property tax and mortgage interest that a MH owner would have, their likely tax bracket based on income, they probably couldn’t itemize before or after the tax law changes… both would be under the standard deduction…

          Good point, Jim…

  3. Craig Ross

    Gloria: “I do not support this as I do not see how this would help and it would be a burden on employees and lower income patrons”

    Obviously she didn’t read the parking management report that lays out how this would help.  The employees would be given x-passes.  If a $1 discourages lower income patrons, then they are probably not patrons.  What discourages most patrons is having no place to park.

  4. Alan Miller

    >The best site appears to be on Hickory Lane with a railroad undercrossing into the downtown.

    That is a great idea, the exact same idea I pushed for over a decade for the City to buy the Calori lot and do just that.  But that ship has sailed.  Hickory Lane is soon to be no more as Lincoln 40 is covering it and the City ceding it to them.

    >the potential use of city land, such as the parking lot adjacent to the Amtrak depot, for high-rise housing for Davis residents

    The odd footprint and limited space on that land and the single entrance over a railroad track with no other egress will preclude this.

    1. Todd Edelman

      Alan, so your understanding of the Lincoln 40 plans is that a ped-bike under-crossing is not possible any longer, even if Union Pacific allowed it?

      They are far away from starting construction. As you’ve said, an under-crossing can be much shorter than an over-crossing.  An under-crossing will add value to Lincoln 40 and other housing on Olive and aggregates nicely with the near-future connection to Olive from Pole Line, whereas the conceptualized over crossing – with a total of THREE loops – lands at the edge of the Depot plaza (with a route to Downtown through the parking lot for kids on bikes – d’oh!) is just a pain in the ass.

      An under-crossing can optimize travel between the Depot, Downtown and the likely 3rd St bicycle-priority route to and from campus. An over-crossing solution shows a complete disregard for active transportation-preference, bicycle modal share and climate goals in Davis, is likely a dizzying clusterf*ck for people in wheelchairs. It kills brain cells because it is so pathetic.

      I expect all the City Council candidates to show their strong support for an under-crossing this week at the Davis Downtown charette and at future public comments at City Council, BTSSC and Planning Commission meetings.

      1. Alan Miller

        TE, an under-crossing is totally doable.

        An over-crossing as you state is an embarrassing CF.

        However, the Pole Line – Olive connector design was bad and now is good.  So there is hope.

        What is no longer possible is building a parking structure on the old Calori property on Olive Drive, as Lincoln40 was approved at the site, as was the abandonment of  Hickory Lane.

        I don’t know why you “expect all the City Council candidates to show their strong support for an under-crossing”.   I doubt many understand the issue.

         

  5. Todd Edelman

    Eric Gudz and a few others rock the parking meters answer, except that – and this also applies to Gloria Partida’s answer – this question really starts with what we want Downtown (better transit and bike access, for example) and how we’re going to pay for it.

    We need to access Downtown, perhaps by driving, hopefully by other means if it’s convenient, fun, affordable and safe.

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