Commentary: The Question Now Is Whether Measure R Works

Now that 2018’s political season is over, we can step back and start evaluating things.  When we began the year, we knew there were likely to be two Measure R campaigns and we knew that, prior to this year, Measure R had not seen a successful project.  Now it’s seen two in less than six months.

Dan Carson’s comment was: “Measure J and R can work, at least if the losing side does not try to nullify the election results with legal actions that are at odds with the spirit of Measure J and R.”

But not everyone agrees with that view.  One of posters asked an interesting question: “Did it work here?  Would it have worked if the project had been rejected?”

He then said, “I think Measure R didn’t work in this case as imo the project didn’t deliver the type of housing that Davis really needed, was exclusionary and not dense enough.”

Another person I ran into, an adamant opponent of Measure R who voted no on the project, told me that Measure R was supposed to prevent these types of projects from being approved because it should discourage low density peripheral projects.

However, I believe that one problem here is looking at this from an outcome-based perspective.  Measure R is supposed to be process-based, not outcome-based.  I understand Dan Carson’s point, however, his point is that if Measure R simply meant every project coming before it would be defeated, the process would prove unworkable.

From that perspective then, Measure R did in fact work and really work as advertised.

A quick history lesson will bear this out.  In 2005, the city had come off a period of rapid development, Covell Village coming on the heels of Mace Ranch, and Wildhorse was another very large, sprawling peripheral housing development.  That the voters would heavily reject it makes sense.

In 2009, in the midst of the worst Post-WWII recession and housing market collapse, the voters were in no mood to approve housing.

By 2016, the world was different, but Nishi could not quite overcome mistakes such as the lack of Affordable Housing and perceptions that it would worsen the worst traffic corridor in Davis.  It failed, but for the first time was competitive.

This year’s projects show, I think, an understanding of what kinds of development can work in Davis; they avoided the mistakes of the past – huge traffic problems, angry-near neighbors.  But the projects also reflect the focus in the community is now on finding ways to build housing, and therefore the efforts to stop these projects fell on deaf ears – other than the core of committed slow-growthers combined with folks with project specific opposition.

From that perspective, Measure R has worked as it is supposed to.  With two wins in 2018, the voters in 2020 will see that Measure R doesn’t mean the end of all projects.  From that perspective, the best thing that slow-growth voters could do was to allow approvals this year.

But if Measure R is about process not outcome, I have growing concerns about it, based on what we saw in 2018.

The first problem is that it is not clear that Measure R is producing better projects.  What we saw in 2018 is not the victory of quality over profit, but, in a lot of ways, the victory of expediency over quality.

One of the attack lines by the opposition to Nishi was that the council felt that Nishi 1 was superior to Nishi 2.  In some ways that was correct.  Nishi 1 had a mix of housing, it had an innovation center and was mixed use.

Was it clearly better than Nishi 2?  I’m not sure I can fully agree there.  Nishi 2 had some advantages.  It had more student housing, which is probably better for that site, particularly with concerns over the long-term exposure to freeway particulate matter.  It also had more student housing which, if built, would help our student housing crisis.

While I preferred the innovation center, truth be told, with what is happening at Sierra Energy and the University Research Park, it’s not clear that we lose much if anything there.

Truth be told, I preferred a third option there, as I have expressed before – a high density, mixed use project that combines student housing with retail and R&D, much like the USC Village.

Did Measure R lead to a better result or a less optimal one?  Depends on your perspective.

What is clear is projects that do not have direct impacts like traffic or near neighbor effects are more likely to pass, and ones that generate deep seated opposition are less likely to pass.

But my biggest problem with Measure R is the nature of the campaigns.  I have made this point a lot of times, but the lesson of early defeats of Measure R projects has been to attack it and turn it into the devil.  That was generally fairly easy with Covell Village (too large), Wildhorse Ranch (wrong time), and Nishi 1 (no affordable and traffic impacts).

But what about projects like Nishi 2, which had limited traffic impacts, or WDAAC, which also didn’t have much in the way of immediate impacts?

To defeat Measure R projects, you must attack them.  They are terrible by nature.  You have to attack the integrity of the process.  You have to attack the integrity of developers.  You have to attack everything.

Colin Walsh tried to do that with Nishi, and finally Sandy Whitcombe had enough and labeled his attacks “Weird Red Herrings.”  Even some of his allies on that day admitted that they cringed at some of his claims.  His attacks, as it turned out, did not work.

But that approach did not work with Nishi and it was approved easily.  And it didn’t work with Measure L, it was also approved easily.

So does that mean Measure R is okay because the bad campaign tactics did not work against some of the projects?

It feels like we have devolved to the point where Measure R battles are waged, not over big ideas, but with a mudslinging approach whereby every project, in order to defeat it, faces microscopic scrutiny and severe mudslinging.  The tactic is throw mud everywhere you can and hope to defeat it.

We see words used like “dishonest,” “misguided,” “illegal,” “ignorant,” “racism” or “discrimination” “exclusionary,”  and these are regularly used by the project opponents – does this lead to good discourse?  A healthy process?  Good planning?

The opponents of the project will point out that the Yes side threw their share of mud as well.  In the forum, Jason Taormino threw down the “Trump” card preemptively in his opening statement and stayed on the attack as well.

My thinking on this is that there has to be a better way.  The daily mudslinging in this campaign is not good for the community.  It serves to further divide and polarize it.  These battles can’t be good for the community.

At the end of the day then, as we look toward the next cycle which will feature a Measure R renewal, I think we have to think about ways to de-escalate.  That conversation, like many, needs to start now and hopefully lead us to a new path by the time we decide what to do about Measure R.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


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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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62 thoughts on “Commentary: The Question Now Is Whether Measure R Works”

  1. Rik Keller

    It very interesting how David Greenwald is attempting to smear the opponents of Measure L after the fact. The No On WDAAC campaign was substantive and made well-documented and researched  assertions about the WDAAC project.

    After months of vague allegations of lies and Greenwald going so far as to sit down with the developers to try to document these, all the Yes On L campaign could come up with was a sad multi-color highlighted print-out of the No campaign literature with unsubstantiated allegations. The community forum echoed this:

    [Tia Will October 15, 2018]:
    I attended this forum as a neutral party to assist CivEnergy…My impression of yesterday’s forum presentation would have driven me away from the project even if I had previously been favoring it. The reason was to be found in Jason Taoromino’s opening statement. Despite the requests from introducing speaker CivEnergy’s Bob Fung, and the moderator Linda Deo’s specific requests to stick to the facts and issues avoiding personal attacks, Mr. Taoromino ignored this request completely. His statement found above accused the opponents of lying and using Trumpian tactics. Later he made multiple charges that they “do not care about the seniors of Davis”.  He does not seem to realize that one of Trumps repeated tactics has been to accuse opponents of that which he himself is doing. He did this with a dismissive, argumentative, and arrogant manner that I found more in line with Trumpian tactics and/or a recent Supreme Court confirmation hearing than anything stated by the opposition. I do not like bullying tactics and I certainly did not appreciate this aggressive approach.

    My bottom line is that when proponents of any change resort to attacking their opponents rather than simply arguing for the benefits of their own proposal, a much closer review of the proposal is warranted as they are obviously deflecting away from issues they would prefer not to discuss.”

    Another observer stated about the forum:

    The Yes on L side came in hot in its opening statement, forgoing the opportunity to tell the audience the positive points about the WDAAC.  Instead, WDAAC developer Jason Taormino accused the No side of taking a page from Trump’s playbook and charged them with telling “big lies” and “little lies.”  Not only was this uncivil, but it was a missed opportunity to inform voters who haven’t been following every back and forth in the newspapers and online.
    The Yes side got on track for a little while after that, but in response to a question about the whether the inaptly named “Taking Care of Our Own” buyer’s program would be racist in its effect (as opposed to its intent… [because] “our own” are disproportionately white), Taormino, rather than responding, derided the No side’s detailed and substantiated case as “baloney,” declared that the No side just doesn’t want to take care of Davis’s seniors, and asserted that this was just a sport to them.  He further accused the No side of being against every development project.

    At best, these kind of unsubstantiated and derogatory remarks are a distraction from the issues.  They are intended to discredit the person rather than the argument, implying that listeners should discount what the opposing side is saying.  The No side understandably felt obligated to defend itself, and so audience members end up deprived of what could have been a thoughtful discussion about a very important and complicated issue. 

    At worst, these kinds of personal attacks have a chilling effect on our democracy.  When people have volunteered their time to engage in political discourse, they should not be subject to personal attacks for their trouble.  This is not the anonymous internet, where such attacks are bad enough; this a community small enough where neighbor passes neighbor regularly.  No one needs that kind of hostility from their neighbor.  And knowing that they might be subject to that kind of hostility, who would want to participate?  Or participate again, once they’ve been attacked? Frankly, our democracy is under enough attack as it is; we need all hands on deck, not hands bloodied and beaten from our neighbor’s stomping on them.”

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      “It very interesting how David Greenwald is attempting to smear the opponents of Measure L after the fact. ”

      I don’t think this was a smear of the opponents after the fact or during the campaign either. I believe that the decision to file the lawsuit was a mistake, talking to people of color on Tuesday night, most of them were repulsed by the argument (and worse) and had similar reactions to Gloria Partida. I don’t think you guys ran a great campaign. I noted in my analysis that the problem with Measure R campaigns is that the No side attempts to throw as much mud as possible in order to convince the voters not to vote for a project and I believe that’s accurate and accurately reflects what happened. I do agree that both sides did this to some extent, especially at the forum and apparently the Democratic Party endorsement was like an extension of the forum, and that’s unfortunate and comes into my broader point that we have to find a better way to do this. I think both sides frankly could cite different passage to bolster their point about which side was more negative – but both go to my core point that I don’t think the way this campaign was conducted was to the benefit of the community and I have not seen you own any of your part of that.

      1. Mark West

        I opposed this project from the start for a very specific reason, though I respected the approach that David T. took with his community outreach and campaign.

        Some of the opposition to the project was presented in a thoughtful and informative manner. Eric G.’s comments here, in general, were an excellent example of how to present reasoned arguments without inflammatory invective. I did not always agree with his reasoning but did agree with his approach.

        On the other hand, Rik K.’s and Alan P.’s campaign behavior and other antics nearly resulted in changing my vote to a yes. I am sure I am not the only one to have a similar reaction to their ‘efforts.’

        1. Howard P

          Mark… share your opinion as of being inclined to vote no, but the bs of the “no”  inclined me to vote “yes”… but, at the end of the day, got rational, and voted “no”… and wished I didn’t have to vote on it at all (I oppose J/R… will NEVER vote for an extension!!!).

          I agree with you, Mark, that some of the “no” folk were rational (including me, opposing it for issues less travelled)… others, not so much…

          That said, can easily live with the vote…  last time I checked, the sky is not falling…

        2. Mark West

          Alan M.: “I pretty much agree with your evaluation above.  What was your “specific reason”, if you can share?”

          I do not support discriminatory housing, even when it is legal. Age-restricted housing is discriminatory housing.

        3. Alan Miller

          MW, thanks for response.  I agree on that, although I further didn’t agree on the Davis-only, especially as it played out to meet legal requirements.  I also believe all restrictions will be out the window after the first round of buying, making the whole program a way to convince voters via tears (seniors, children, puppies) to vote for a single-family-home style project they otherwise wouldn’t vote for.

          I personally found both the developer and the vocal opposition both to be distasteful and their own worst enemies.

      2. Rik Keller

        Mark West: I think Eric Gelber did a great job of summarizing and identifying the exclusionary and ddiscriminatory aspects of the project.

        And this statement of his was a needed shot of reality and context in opposition to the head-in-the-sand approach of some city leaders.

        “affirmatively adopting a policy that knowingly favors a largely white demographic and thereby statistically disadvantages non-white buyers, which will not only fail to improve the current racial imbalance but, by design, will most likely exacerbate it.”

        And:

        “Council Member Partida was right to point out that the phrase “Taking Care of Our Own” has a Trumpian ring to it. But she missed the point that it’s not just the tagline that is Trumpian; it’s the policy itself. The Davis-Based Buyers Program is explicitly intended to prohibit those deemed to be outsiders from purchasing 90% of the homes in WDAAC. Intended or not, because of the demographics of Davis vs. the more diverse population of the region and the state, excluding outsiders would have the effect of perpetuating Davis’ comparative racial imbalance. The policy, not just the tagline, is the philosophical equivalent of “America First” and it is the functional equivalent of Trump’s proposed border wall.”

         

         

      3. Rik Keller

        David Greenwald said: “talking to people of color on Tuesday night, most of them were repulsed by the argument (and worse).”

        Interesting. Looking at the social media posts of the No On WDAAC campaign, one finds quite the opposite of Greenwald’s extremely limited viewpoint. There was a broad range of people of color interacting with the posts and supporting the campaign.

        If Greenwald was interested in this, he could have spent some time looking into that. He would have found a far more diverse range of people supporting the “No” campaign than, just to name one example, exist in the Davis Vanguard comments section. These are the voices and viewpoints that get drowned out by massive infusions of developer cash into local campaigns.

        1. Eric Gelber

          Rik – David may have been referring to a conversation with Pocahontas who, as you recall, was shown in a photo disseminated by Yes on L to be a supporter of WDAAC.

        2. Alan Miller

          Has social media called out and identified costumed “Pocahontas” so that Davis can personally chastise her?  Or perhaps to obtain her records of being at least 1.4% native American so that she may be forgiven?

        3. Rik Keller

          Eric: Let’s not forget that she was not only photographed in the Yes On L booth, but Jason Taormino declared that “Pocahontas loves seniors.” He definitely has very strong opinions about who does and doesn’t like seniors.

  2. Rik Keller

    Let’s look at a small slice of the level of discourse was responsible for in this campaign:
    ***The WDAAC project is being sued for fair housing/civil rights violations for discriminatory impact against racial/ethnic minorities. The lawsuit is based on decades of case law and legal precedent. David Greenwald said lawsuit is “dangerous playing of the race card.”
     

    *** In his subscription-only newsletter, David Greenwald published private information purportedly about the lawsuit plaintiff in an effort to doxx him and question his legitimacy.

    ***The Fair Housing Council of Orange County (FHCOC), an organization founded in 1965 that receives close to $1/2 million annually in HUD funding, wrote a letter to the City of Davis about fair housing violations and possibly illegal marketing language by the WDAAC project. David Greenwald attempts to smear them and say they are “not an official group, but rather a private 501c3 located in Santa Ana with a more official sounding name.” He later secretly edits out that assertion without publishing a notice standard to ethical journalistic practices

     

    *** Despite the FHCOC letter referencing decades-old fair housing guidelines commonly used in the housing industry and which a local disability rights/fair housing attorney provided background for (“some of the earliest cases under the FHAA focused on advertising for developments, which marketed themselves as communities for “active adults.” Such advertising was determined to be a not so subtle way of discriminating against people with disabilities who were not traditionally “active.” Similarly, advertising a senior housing development as an “adult” community, gives the impression that families with children are not welcome in even the 20 percent of homes that are not age-restricted”), David Greenwald wrote an entire article calling the letter “strange” and tried to undermine the credibility of both the long-standing guidelines it referenced as well as the authors’ credibility.

     

    ***WDAAC published a half-hearted apology for its project motto “Taking Care of Own” that a Davis City Council member described as ringing “with a distinctly Trumpian tenor that effectively delineates “us” from “them.”” The WDAAC developer also pledged not to use phrase anymore. Then the developer both continued to use a slight variation of the phrase and subsequently used the exact phrase in multiple event advertisements in the past week. David Greenwald said nothing.

     

    ***Another fair housing organization, Project Sentinel–a “full-service non-profit Fair Housing agency serving the Bay Area and portions of Central California, including all of Sacramento County and West Sacramento in Yolo County”–wrote a letter that the WDAAC project “will raise a serious barrier to an important housing opportunity for non-white individuals living in the area, and will promote further segregation of an already segregated community.” It also mentioned the issue of the highly problematic use of the “active adult” marketing language” raised by FHCOC. David Greenwald said nothing, but continues to make allegations against the No on L campaign like those in this article.

    1. Howard P

      It is what it is… fait accompli… whine if that helps you… keep looking to modify the project (developers said some aspects were fluid), and as to the discriminatory thing, suspect you have allies with Eric et moi… [me, definitely]

      Am thinking, based on posts, we may have a ‘second bite of the apple’ as to preferences… there should be none… not seniors, not ‘activity’, not racial/ethnic (either way… I’d oppose a quota for ANY group)…

      What is done, is done… best to focus on what can be (including the outcome of the ‘preference’ BS)…

      Some things can be changed, others cannot… wisdom is knowing the difference, then acting/promoting for changes that can be made.

      Avoid “whining”…  futility… just a suggestion…

       

      1. Alan Miller

        Am thinking, based on posts, we may have a ‘second bite of the apple’ as to preferences… there should be none… not seniors, not ‘activity’, not racial/ethnic (either way… I’d oppose a quota for ANY group)…

        Agree BUT, does that mean we get to vote on it again, sans preferences?  Because without them, it’s just a suburban housing tract, and would Davis vote for THAT?

        I suspect this was the plan all along.

        (Seniors, children, puppies.)

        1. Rik Keller

          Alan: I suspect you are right. Despite claiming beforehand that all important parts of the project would be in the Baseline Features  so that the project would have a “contract” with the voters and we would know exactly what we were getting, somehow a lot of stuff didn’t make it there.

          So, the project can now easily just dump various plans and get a Council sign-off, with no re-vote required. Classic bait and switch.

        2. Howard P

          Interesting… folk who regaled against certain aspects, want no remediation to resolve their objections, moving forward, without a new vote… fascinating…

          And tres weird…

          I can say this as someone who voted “no”…

          Perchance if those concerns were allayed, they would have voted yes, making the margin of approval bigger? I think not…

  3. Eric Gelber

    It feels like we have devolved to the point where Measure R battles are waged, not over big ideas, but with a mudslinging approach … The tactic is throw mud everywhere you can and hope to defeat it.  … We see words used like “dishonest,” “misguided,” “illegal,” “ignorant,” “racism” or “discrimination” “exclusionary,”  and these are regularly used by the project opponents …

    Mudslinging. Definition: “an attempt to discredit one’s competitor, opponent, etc., by malicious or scandalous attacks.”

    I take issue with the characterization of all arguments against a project proposal as “mudslinging.” While some of the attacks on WDAAC were unnecessarily inflammatory, to make a factual statement that the project is exclusionary, or to render a legal opinion that the buyers’ preference policy is discriminatory and possibly illegal, is neither malicious nor scandalous; it does not constitute mudslinging.

    A senior housing development, by definition, “excludes” families with children. That was the intent of the exemption in fair housing law. The Davis Based Buyers’ program, by design, discriminates against individuals who don’t have a connection to Davis, as defined.

    We can have reasonable differences of opinion over whether a senior housing development, even if legal, is good policy. We can come to different conclusions as to whether a buyers restriction is illegal due to its unintended discriminatory impact. But to accuse those who make such arguments of engaging in mudslinging is, itself, mudslinging.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      “I take issue with the characterization of all arguments against a project proposal as “mudslinging.””

      True, not the point that I was intending to convey.

    2. Howard P

      Agree with David’s response, somewhat… nuance… can you (Eric) acknowledge, at least for some, on either side of the issue (or other issues) that there has been s**t -slinging, mud slinging/pasta slinging?

      If you think all posts are honest and innocuous, free of spin, bias… I differ.,,, but retain the right to defer…

    3. Rik Keller

      David Greenwald said: “talking to people of color on Tuesday night, most of them were repulsed by the argument (and worse).”

      Interesting. Looking at the social media posts of the No On WDAAC campaign, one finds quite the opposite of Greenwald’s extremely limited viewpoint. There was a broad range of people of color interacting with the posts and supporting the campaign.

      If Greenwald was interested in this, he could have spent some time looking into that. He would have found a far more diverse range of people supporting the “No” campaign than, just to name one example, exist in the Davis Vanguard comments section. These are the voices and viewpoints that get drowned out by massive infusions of developer cash into local campaigns.

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        I pulled those words from comments/ articles/ arguments by members of the Measure R team. The campaign is over, there is no propaganda. There is a need for a discussion about how things can be done better next time.

        1. Rik Keller

          David Greenwald states “there is a need for discussion about his things can be done better next time.”  Yes, and it starts with the Vanguard.
          For example, look at this embarrassing ploy from September in which, as Greenwald describes, “the Vanguard sat down with Mr. Taormino and his development team” and produced a highlighted markup of No on WDAAC material that alleged 5 different categories of 97 total falsehoods.

          https://www.davisvanguard.org/2018/09/developer-claims-97-misstatements-opposition-wdaac/

          This ridiculous effort fell flat, and the Yes On L team never provided documentation of these claims. But the fact the Greenwald actively solicited and facilitated this type of behavior, and then published it (including every single one of the marked up pages) is but one indication of the types of things that need to change.

          As numerous commentators have pointed out, the Yes On L continued their Trumpian strategy of unsubstanstiated claims of “lies” as the centerpiece of their CivEvergy public forum, but all Greenwald could publish in response were mealy-mouthed “both sides” platitudes.

          In contrast, Greenwald was only to happy to try to smear fair housing organizations in existence for decades as the official recipients of federal fair housing grants as “not official groups”. He then completely ignored another letter from a fair housing group—Project Sentinal in Northern California—that affirmed the same arguments as the lawsuit and the first fair housing organization.

          There is a lot that needs to change.

        2. Howard P

          So, Rik… the VG must reflect your view?  David in particular?  Doesn’t sound much like ‘free press’… one of those nasty constitutional things that need to be repealed?

          The VG provides a forum for ‘free speech’… should we modify that constitutional nasty, too?  Actually wouldn’t apply here, because neither the VG, David, or you are “the State”…

        3. Ron

          Howard:  How is what Rik (or David, for that matter) not an example of “free speech” (within the confines allowed on the Vanguard)?

          I’d like to thank Rik (and Alan P.) for the work that they’ve done, apparently in an entirely selfless (not selfish) manner.  In other words, standing up for what they believe is right, in the face of significant opposition (and downright hostility).  A perfect example of free speech.

          Eric was probably the most persuasive (and diplomatic) regarding some of the concerns. I appreciate what he did, as well. But, Rik’s research and analysis formed the basis of those concerns.

          But, other than the legal challenge, it’s time to move on.  I suspect that many voters were aware of the issues brought up, but supported the proposal regardless.

          There’s not likely going to be any more peripheral proposals for at least awhile, in a housing market that’s declining.

  4. Ken A

    I’m wondering if Rik thinks that the The Fair Housing Council of Orange County Just happened to be reviewing potential housing developments (hat may never be built) at a County ~400 miles north of their office for fair housing issues or if it was a hail Mary pass by the no on L people (that probably could not find a fair housing group in any of the other 57 counties in CA that cared about this).

    I’m also wondering if Rik thinks that the plaintiff in the lawsuit really truly wants to buy a home in the WDAAC, is not aware that many homes in the development are scheduled to be available for people with no connection to Davis and thought a lawsuit (vs. contacting the developers to ask to put down a deposit) or if the almost all white No on L people called the guy they are talking about when they say “all of my fiends are not white” and paid him to file a lawsuit.

    1. David Greenwald

      Rik has used the term “doxing” but we are talking about a litigant in a live dispute.  It will be for a court to determine whether this individual has standing to sue and from what my research suggested – he may not.  Therefore this seems like a matter of some public interest.  There will also be immediate questions as to whether the suit is germane.  That’s if this suit even goes forward at this point.

    2. Howard P

      “all of my fiends are not white”

      Oops/typo, or Freudian?  I assume typo… the alternate interpretation doesn’t fit my understanding of you… but maybe I’m wrong…  no need to clarify… “typo”… [I ‘dumb thumb’ a lot!]

      Enjoy the day!  Clear, sunny, and the wind has died down, at least for a bit… best to you and yours…

  5. Jeff M

    Measure R is supposed to be process-based, not outcome-based.

    I agree, and thus it is not needed because we already have the standard process of governance for vetting and deciding development projects.  It is the process of representative democracy that includes the local elected officials, the planning commission and the planning and development staff.  It includes plenty of community input and ability to register ideas and opposition.  It includes copious rules, codes, laws and regulations to make sure it fits within progressive guidelines.

    Something happened to the children of the 60s which has led them to believe that they require a people’s protest process with a connection to the legal system to achieve anything in politics.   They run on emotional steam that ends up a giant coordinated tantrum led by well-educated and well-funded professional activists and attorneys.  Measure J was initiated by the same, and it passed because Davis is over-represented by the children of the 60s.

    We already have the process.  But, in addition making voters unhappy about the results, Measure R serves to also deconstruct the effectiveness and value of that existing process by continually circumventing it.  The opposition, instead of working within the community to influence a better result, go instantly to the outside attack.  They set up the us-against-them campaign and push fear, uncertainty and doubt into the heads of our benevolent old PHD Hippies and idealistic young people voter cohort.

    One of the primary problems with direct democracy mechanisms is that they foment binary tribal war.  Representative democracy forces people with opposing viewpoints to the table.  And human psychology is such that face-to-face interaction generates better cooperation than does outside media-powered voter influencing.

    We are seeing the same at the nation level.  Democrats protest and Republicans hold rallies… and they more often elect those that are good at protesting and good at leading rallies.  Our politicians join in with divisive rhetoric because the media feeds off this conflict as cheap and easy tabloid reporting that sells copy.

    At the local level we are making the same mistake with Measure R.  We need to scrap it and get back to the process of cooperative optimization of policy through representation.

    1. David Greenwald

      “I agree, and thus it is not needed because we already have the standard process of governance for vetting and deciding development projects”

      I think its important to understand you are stating a subjective comment – and your opinion on it – as though it were fact.  The question would be – is the standard process sufficient?  People disagree on that point.

      1. Jeff M

        The standard process includes a constant improvement mechanism that is voting out the representatives that don’t fit your views and values, and replacing them with people that do.

        However, I am not surprised with your reaction here as you live in that space of protest for progress.  I think you just need to think more deeply about your identity and how this contributes to not seeing how that approach foments divisiveness and destroys cooperative approaches.

        Look at it this way… say you have a large organization and the shareholders are 10% activists that lead the employees in protest that the media reports to force decisions to be made by management… instead of working with management to find cooperative ground.   The latter is binary us against them.  And there are few organizations that survive, thrive and grow with this type of approach.  In fact, most of them with this type of approach will fail.

        1. David Greenwald

          Your response suggests that you don’t understand my point which was not to necessarily disagree with your core idea but rather to point out that you have expressed it as though it were an objective reality rather than the subjective opinion that it is.

        2. Jeff M

          Of course it is an opinion.  But also including objective points… including that it makes no difference in outcomes in terms of the percentage of satisfied voters in the end.

          Also, it is costly… money spent on the politics of the thing that could otherwise go to benefit social justice cause.

          Frankly if you look at political spending these days it is a great money-making sandbox industry for lawyers, professional activists and the media… of which you hold title in the last two.

      2. Mark West

        “The question would be – is the standard process sufficient?  People disagree on that point.”

        What the question should be – is the Measure R process an improvement over the standard process?

        After nearly 20 years I think it unquestionably can be stated that the Measure R process makes development more expensive in town, so if your goal is to deter development, then Measure R has been a success. This is especially so when combined with all the other demands and exactions that the community has placed on new developments.

        I think the better assessment though is, has the Measure R process allowed for the development that the community needs to remain fiscally viable and sustainable? There I see Measure R as a complete failure as the increased financial risk associated with the process has blocked the expansion of our commercial sector, which we desperately need to generate good jobs for our residents and revenues for the City.

    2. Alan Miller

      One of the primary problems with direct democracy mechanisms is that they foment binary tribal war.  Representative democracy forces people with opposing viewpoints to the table.  And human psychology is such that face-to-face interaction generates better cooperation than does outside media-powered voter influencing.

      Truer words . . .

      1. Eric Gelber

        Representative democracy forces people with opposing viewpoints to the table.  And human psychology is such that face-to-face interaction generates better cooperation than does outside media-powered voter influencing.

        Which is why Congress works so well. … Oh. Wait.

        1. Jeff M

          The problem is the agency thing… conflict of interest.

          It steams me that government has layers and layers of requirements to mitigate conflict of interest in private business while pretty much ignoring the worst of the same in government.

          If I am your agent, and that is what I am if I am your political representative, I should be 100% focused on your interests.  I should have zero conflicts of interest where my motivations would potentially cause me to be unqualified as your agent.

          At the national level the primary conflict of interest has been the blending of politics and media celebrity.  The role of national politician attracts charlatans that are in it for the fame that they then leverage for cash.  This is no different than celebrities… it is all about PR and name recognition.

          However, this does not really exist at the local level.  You would be generally very hard pressed to make the case that our local politicians have any agency problem.  Especially in our rabid constituency that will dig for any dirt they can find to defeat policy they don’t like.  I for one have made the case that our previous Mayor was biased in his focus on particular social justice cause and symbolism other than fiscal matters… but bias based on identity and professional experience isn’t an agency problem unless he was using his position of Mayor to benefit his bank account or his friend’s bank accounts.  He was prioritizing issues based on his desires, but from my perspective that is part of the representative system.   If Davis voters like that focus then they will elect those that have that focus.

        2. Robb Davis

          When he ran for office, the previous Mayor (knowing he was only 1 of 5 voting) said that he would prioritize getting more multi-family rental housing built, dealing with homelessness and addiction, and creating more fiscal transparency and taking actions to deal with the city’s fiscal challenges.  Of the three, the previous Mayor spent, by far, the most time on the first and third items.  All three remain challenges, none were “solved” but it is incorrect to say that “social issues” were what the previous Mayor focused on.  More importantly (to the issue of representative democracy), the former Mayor won the election and the responsibility to represent the community, based on his stated priorities.  Call these “biases” if you will, the previous Mayor referred to them, transparently, as priorities.

        3. Jeff M

          I don’t think what you wrote and what I wrote are at odds.  You were a good Mayor but your agenda was based on your interests which were based on your biases.  And that would be the same for any politician.

          My point was/is that there is a difference between the agency problem and bias.   A politician pursuing a vision based on consistent values demonstrated is the right stuff.  If you are consistent and elected on those traits we would expect the consistency to continue in office.   Certainly a change can occur in office as the duties of the office are often obscured until in office.

          Representative democracy works when the representative goes in to serve others and not him/herself.   Jim’s point is correct.  The thing that troubles me is the glaring inability of the average voter to recognize the difference between the bias of conviction and demonstrated conflict of interest.

  6. Rik Keller

    What does Dan Carson mean by “Measure J and R can work, at least if the losing side does not try to nullify the election results with legal actions that are at odds with the spirit of Measure J and R.”

    If a federal judge agrees with the lawsuit alleging fair housing violations and discriminatory effect, why would Dan Carson want the project to go forward? Does he think the “spirit” of Measure J/R is discrimatory?

     

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      Remember, this isn’t the only Measure R project and not the only one being sued. But I think it’s reasonable to leap to the conclusion that he does not believe that a federal judge will agree that the lawsuit – if allowed to stand – violated fair housing.

      1. Rik Keller

        DG: but the WDAAC project goes through if the judge does not uphold the lawsuit, therefore there would be no “nullification.” So what does Dan Carson mean by the “spirit” of Measure J/R?

        Let’s not forget that he, as you, likes to conveniently forget/ignore what the phrase “internal housing needs” means in Measure R and the City’s broader land use policy context.

        https://www.davisvanguard.org/2018/09/guest-commentary-internal-housing-needs-davis/

         

        1. Howard P

          what does Dan Carson mean by the “spirit” of Measure J/R?

          Ask him (Carson)… he is the only one who can answer (authoritatively)… why did you post that question here?

          Once you ask him, feel free to post his reply..

    2. Eric Gelber

      It’s important to note that the relief requested in the current lawsuit is to enjoin implementation of the Davis-Based Buyers’ Program, not to prevent the project from being built.

  7. Craig Ross

    Late to the party here but Rik and Alan seem to not want to own up to the fact that they really hurt the campaign focusing on issues like fair housing, going negative each time they had the chance to.  I was yes all the way, but I know a number of people who were influenced to vote yes or reconsider their no vote by the poor campaign run by the opposition.  I think this will hurt Measure R.

    1. Eric Gelber

      Rik and Alan can speak for themselves; but, as someone who has dealt with housing discrimination issues professionally for decades, I differ strongly with your view that raising fair housing concerns is “going negative.” Civil rights issues should not be swept under the rug. Apart from the No on L campaign, moreover, a lawsuit was filed challenging the legality of the Davis-Based Buyers’ Program, and two fair housing organizations expressed fair housing concerns with aspects of the project; so, the issues would have been raised one way or another.

      People have all sorts of reasons for supporting or opposing ballot measures. But that’s not a reason for ignoring fair housing concerns with a proposed development.

      1. Craig Ross

        I disagree on the core of your argument here, but let’s leave that aside for a second.  It wasn’t a good political argument in Davis.

        First you have a small group of conservatives who are likely to see any race-based argument as being illegitimate.

        Second you have a vast majority of white progressive voters who may be politically liberal/ progressive, but are largely uninterested in the race/ social justice argument.

        Third you have a group of people of color who saw this as GLoria Partida did – a group of older white anti-development people attempting to appropriate civil rights messages into a housing development.

        Given all of that, the number of people receptive to this message who would react in your direction was exceedingly small while the number of people who would reject this message or ignore it was exceedingly large.

        It was bad politics which is why it didn’t work.

         

        1. Ron

          What actually occurred is that a majority of voters wanted to approve this proposal, which they did – thanks to Measure R.

          The political arguments were most likely irrelevant, to most.  I have yet to see anyone “change their mind” (one way, or the other) as a result of such arguments.

          In fact, a majority are probably not that interested in arguments on the Vanguard, or what’s stated on here. Perhaps don’t even read it.

        2. Howard P

          What occurred was 100% of the people’s elected representatives voted to approve the project… then it was subject to the measure R vote…

          a majority of voters wanted to approve this proposal, which they did – thanks to Measure R.

          Really?  I think not…

          The ONLY positive thing is that the vote did not negate the normal process…

          BTW, folk… Measure J/R votes take the pressure off PC and CC… they can pass the responsibility off… they do not need to be accountable…

        3. Ron

          Howard:  Measure R is part of the normal process. There are processes that are followed before proposals reach voters.

          Since you had concerns regarding WDAAC (that you wouldn’t share on the Vanguard, when asked), I’m wondering if you shared your concerns during those processes (e.g., commissions and council reviews), before it reached voters.

          In any case, perhaps you’d want to compare Davis’ process with those in Healdsburg, where voters had previously restricted housing units to an average of 30/year, with no more than 90 during a three-year period.

          They’ve just approved a measure to allow 50 additional units of Affordable housing per year (up to 150, over three years).

          Pretty sure that I can find lots of other examples of growth/development limits (both in terms of sprawl and density), throughout California.

          https://sfbay.ca/2018/11/06/healdsburg-voters-approve-more-multi-family-housing/

        4. Howard P

          Ron… you are wrong… I did share my concerns… but, unlike some, didn’t  repeat them each time I posted on the subject.

          Guess “normal” is in the eye of the beholder… my links to/presence in, this community go back over 40 years… Measure J/R are not “normal” to me (feel free to differ if you are a ‘newbie’)… most communities (actually, vast majority) in CA do not have such a mechanism…

          You know not of which you speak, IMHO, unless perhaps you mean “new normal”… also a very subjective, and therefore, questionable term.

          Perspectives… subjective…

        5. Ron

          I asked you at least a couple of times what your concerns were, regarding WDAAC, since you stated that you did not support the proposal. There was no response, although I suspect that you may have provided your reasoning prior to those occassions.

          Perhaps more importantly, your response does not address whether or not you actually made your concerns known, during the “normal” commission and council reviews of the proposal, before it appears on the ballot.

          Since you apparently voted against WDAAC, you’re the one who was actually attempting to negate the “normal” process – using your definitions and logic.

           

    2. Howard P

      Note to all… there are two “Alans” who regularly post… Alan Miller and Alan Pryor… both use full names (perhaps a new “norm”?)… suggest folk use at least last name initial when referring to a post by “Alan”… but, I’m semi-anonymous, so have no right to opine…

  8. Eric Gelber

    It was bad politics which is why it didn’t work.

    You could be right.  Which, I guess, is one reason I chose to become one of those dreaded social justice warriors instead of a politician.

    1. Ron

      Eric:  It’s pretty clear that you actually care about the issues you brought up.  Thanks again for doing so, in a manner that was respectful and thoughtful. (Some others on here have pointed this out, as well.)

       

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