Most of the candidates showed up to a morning candidate’s forum at the Odd Fellows Hall put on by the Yolo County Association of Realtors. Ezra Beeman however, was unable to make it, and Colin Walsh sat in for the second time for him. Larry Guenther also could not make it.
The candidates were first asked about their view of Measure R.
Colin Walsh responded: “Ezra is a strong supporter of Measure J/R the citizens’ right to vote. That’s what it’s called, the citizens’ right to vote. It puts the final say on these large peripheral developments into the hands of Davis voters. I think that Ezra hopes that there will be projects that come forward that will be worthy of passage in the future. Measure J/R has certainly caused developers to up the ante in what they have brought in the past. He would absolutely back Measure J/R as it currently stands.”
Gloria responded: “When I think of Measure J/R, I think of that quote from the bible where ‘then there came a King that didn’t know Joseph,’ and if you’re familiar with that, sometimes you put something in place that made a lot of sense at the time and then things change. You just to adjust accordingly, I feel. It is about the voters of Davis. It is about putting the power into the hands of the voters of Davis. But I feel that Measure R/J has changed who those voters are in Davis. It has changed the community which it meant to preserve. It meant to preserve us being a close community, a tight community and now the only people that can afford to purchase in Davis are people who are not here. It does change the quality of who is in Davis and who is in relation with each other. I do believe in boundaries, I believe that boundaries are important, I come from LA, so I know what sprawl looks like – we have to do some modification of our Measure J/R.”
Mark West responded: “I absolutely oppose Measure R/Measure J. The reason why is it doesn’t do what we say it’s supposed to do which is to prevent sprawl and to protect farmland. It hasn’t done that – it’s just moved the sprawl someplace else either to Woodland or onto the university campus. So we’re not doing what we said we’re going to do with Measure R. What we need to do is put a hard boundary around the community – say this is how much we’re willing to grow over the next 25 years – and look at it again 25 years from now. If we have Measure R in place, we have to grow taller. So it’s a matter of either growing taller or growing out. I don’t want to see us sprawl everywhere. But Measure R, the way it’s written, it puts difficult decisions and complicated decisions about land use in the hands of people who don’t have the time to educate themselves on those decisions. It’s not the right for people to vote, it’s the right for people to not pay attention and prevent things from happening. Fifty-five percent our people, the residents of Davis, are renters and this dramatically impacts their cost of living. It’s just wrong. We need to get rid of Measure R.
Dan Carson responded: “I support the renewal of Measure R. I’ve been on record on this for years. I think there are important issues like this that I support for people to vote. I also understand that you cannot take away people’s right to vote on these development projects. There is a referendum process that would go forward for any controversial project. It takes just 4000 signatures. The folks who oppose the project could easily raise the money to collect the signatures in a day and then you have chaos because instead of a project like Nishi being acted on by the city council, and being placed on the June ballot… You would have a process in this case, where the default would have been that it would have gone on the June 2020 ballot – unless you were willing to pay for a special election. By going that route, you undercut the opportunity for the city to negotiate for the maximum benefit for us as Davis citizens. I am open to an inclusive discussion when we renew Measure R, it’s such an important matter I want to listen to everybody. And someone who says, I should close my mind and not listen to anybody’s suggestions for approving the measure, I think you should think twice about it. I will listen to what other members of the community suggest, but I believe this is a sound way to move forward with our city planning.
Linda Deos responded: “Measure J/R developed as kind of a balance between having representational government, our city council that we all have elected to make the decisions around land use and direct democracy where we, the individual citizens, can say hey no, we’re going to check and balance what’s going on in those decisions. I think that’s a wonderful balance that we have here in Davis, because so many people are very engaged in what’s happening. But there can be problems around the J and R situation of education, of people not being fully aware of what’s at stake in these votes. When you get this down to soundbites, there’s not a lot of education behind that which is why I think it’s very important to have a robust commission system. That we allow these projects to come before the commission, come before the city council and be fully vetted… I moved here in 2008, so in 2010, I did vote to renew, then, Measure R. In 2020, I too would be open to having a very full and robust discussion going forward. My inclination would be to renew it…”
Eric Gudz responded: “As a scholar in land use and transportation, a lot of my education at UC Davis – I was a master in science and transportation policy – and one of the big issues that we look at is sort of the interaction and sort of congruency or lack there of between land use and transportation. I look at this issue not only as a vote of the citizens, the right of the citizens of Davis, but I also look at this as just practicality of land use planning. Urban growth boundaries essentially are going to save us in the 21st Century. There is no question about that. The fact that we are able to consciously say what is built land, what is developed land, and what is designated as built and developed land, versus what is not, is going to be one of the biggest ringing bells that is going to help us achieve our sustainability goals and help us achieve some of our climate action goals into this century. With that I fully support the ability for us to be able to consider and reconsider urban growth boundaries in whatever form their take. However, I think there is a lot of work that can be done to make our particular growth boundary in Davis, better. I think there’s ideas we can introduce with hard and soft boundaries with our boundary in Davis, so we can provide additional incentives for project proponents to put certain things we would like to see in our community. Or kind of establishing more of a hard boundary, this is where we decide where the community needs to build out to over the next two or three decades.
Mary Jo Bryan responded: “I want to see Measure R work. So far Measure R has had no vote of approval for any project that had to come up against Measure R votes. To be honest, I did not vote for Measure J or Measure R. I felt the restriction of them was too strict and too kind of unwieldy. But now, I can see some real value of it, particularly if Measure R works. We’ve got two projects up for Measure R votes, in particular if these over 55 active community one can get past a vote of the people, then Measure R can work. I think Measure R was brought up in order to solve the issue of urban sprawl. If Measure R works, that means that there’s a way to get a development through a vote of the people to gain some of what we need. That’s probably a larger piece of land that can be reviewed before the project is presented to the people for a vote and everybody has input and that goes along with the update of the general plan. My position has always been, let’s update the general plan, let’s get a citizens’ review going and then let’s tackle a development project that will really meet the internal housing needs of Davis. And not just have another housing development that goes down in the vote of the people.
Luis Rios responded: “I support smart growth planning. I support home development. We have to do it in a smart way rather than just build and build. Look at Winters, Winters is a small town. The other day, I said Davis is a small town and I said Davis is actually a mid-size town. But I think it’s got that small town character. It’s a small college town. That’s why a lot of families with young kids move here for that type of environment. A safe community, good public schools – that’s why I’m here. I don’t want to live in Palo Alto. So we’ve got to think about how we plan for the future. I was born in 1970 at Davis Community Hospital off County Road 99. The opposite side of the West Active Community Development and next door to Sutter. There’s a plot of land – we could think about maybe doing affordable housing for middle class, working class families. My father worked in agriculture. He worked for the Romingers throughout Yolo County. I come from a working class family. We’ve got to think about those people that want to move to Davis for the quality schools, otherwise we’re going to have expensive homes and empty public schools. Is that what we want for Davis? That’s not what I want for Davis.
—David M. Greenwald reporting