Contentious Mace Boulevard Construction Meeting at East Davis Fire House


by Matt Williams

Between 100 and 150 community members jammed the East Davis Fire House Wednesday evening from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Fifty of the community were provided seats, but the rest of the attendees were forced to stand.

The lucky 50 who got seats, or in the case of George Hague, former Planning Commissioner, who brought his own.

In attendance from the City were:
Mayor Brett Lee,
Council Member Lucas Frerichs,
City Manager Mike Webb,
Public Works Director Bob Clarke,
City Engineer Diana Jensen,
Assisant City Engineer (Traffic) Brian Mickelson, and
Acting Fire Chief Dennis Reilly.

Councilmember Frerichs trying to maintain audience decorum.

After a brief, and contentious, overview presentation by Mayor Lee and Brian Mickelson, close to 50 questions were taken from the audience, many of which were written on flip chart sheets and taped to the wall of the fire house.

A handful of the questions recorded by City Staff.

Acting Fire Chief Reilly responded to the fire safety concerns by noting that the concerns identified are not as bad as other places he has dealt with in his 44-year fire career. He noted that his experience is that once sirens and bull horns start blaring people and vehicles do get out of the way, even in the face of the tight quarters that the newly constructed concrete barriers create.

Acting Fire Chief Dennis Reilly fielding audience questions about impact on public safety.

Mayor Lee and Councilmember Frerichs assured the assembled multitude that they would provide answers to the questions they had heard.

Mayor Lee assuring audience that their questions will be answered by the City.

There were probably questions that were missed by the City Staff, so here on the Vanguard and in Nextdoor, participants who want to ensure that their questions are recorded and answered by the Mayor, Councilmember and/or City staff should either submit those questions in writing here and/or in, or submit them directly to the City at the following addresses:

Mayor Brett Lee who can be e-mailed at

Councilmember Lucas Frerichs who can be e-mailed at

City Manager Mike Webb who can be e-mailed at

For those who submit their questions here on there Vanguard or on Next-door, I will confirm that your question is actually in the list recorded by the City at the meeting, or is added to their list if it is not there.

Matt Williams
El Macero resident, and
Chair of the City of Davis Finance and Budget Commission

About one-third of the standing portion of the attendees.
Another third of the standees.


About The Author

Matt Williams has been a resident of Davis/El Macero since 1998. Matt is a past member of the City's Utilities Commission, as well as a former Chair of the Finance and Budget Commission (FBC), former member of the Downtown Plan Advisory Committee (DPAC), former member of the Broadband Advisory Task Force (BATF), as well as Treasurer of Davis Community Network (DCN). He is a past Treasurer of the Senior Citizens of Davis, and past member of the Finance Committee of the Davis Art Center, the Editorial Board of the Davis Vanguard, Yolo County's South Davis General Plan Citizens Advisory Committee, the Davis School District's 7-11 Committee for Nugget Fields, the Yolo County Health Council and the City of Davis Water Advisory Committee and Natural Resources Commission. His undergraduate degree is from Cornell University and his MBA is from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He spent over 30 years planning, developing, delivering and leading bottom-line focused strategies in the management of healthcare practice, healthcare finance, and healthcare technology, as well municipal finance.

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4 thoughts on “Contentious Mace Boulevard Construction Meeting at East Davis Fire House”

  1. David Greenwald

    Background on this story:

    The city of Davis for the last several months has been working on road repairs and upgrading the intersection of Mace and Cowell.  The city received a $3 million grant from SACOG to pay for improvements to bike and pedestrian safety, while at the same time getting money to resurface Mace Blvd. 

    Last week the council received some complaints and the city had scheduled the meeting for Tuesday night to hear community concerns and talk about the project.

    Complaints range from the fact that the construction has taken too long, traffic impacts, and the shrinking of lanes from five (two travel lanes each direction and one turn lane at traffic lights) down to three (one travel lane each direction and one turn lane at traffic lights).

    There is a broader problem having to do with Friday traffic that backs up from I-80 to the surface streets impacting traffic as well.

    On core of the problem: many residents have expressed frustration over increased travel times and questioned whether the changes have really made anything safer.

  2. Dave Hart

    I was there and would estimate there were closer to 100.  40 chairs were set out and about twice that standing, still, a very good turnout.  When asked for a show of hands to indicate which neighborhoods were represented, there were about 12 to 15 people from Pioneer Park neighborhood, about 10 to 12 signaled they were from Woodbridge, and about 10 indicated they were from Willowbank with one from Slide Hill Park.  The vast majority, 50 to 60, were from El Macero. 

    The crowd was animated, as they say.  Given the level of emotion, the meeting went pretty well in terms of hearing from everyone who had their hand up to speak or ask questions.  Statements and assertions far outnumbered questions as is to be expected when people are angry.  I think the city staff did a great job of getting those concerns down on paper whether they were in the form of a question or a statement. 

    One other observation is that the crowd was pretty good at working within the structure of the meeting, though there were some who would blurt out rejoinders while others were waiting their turn to speak.  One has to consider that very few people these days are used to working as equals within organizations with high levels of internal conflict and are thus unaccustomed to taking their turn and respecting others’ rights to an orderly process.  With a few more hotheads in the audience, the meeting could have easily spun out of control and been of no use to anybody.  So, kudos to City Manager Mike Webb and our two council members Brett Lee and Lucas Frerichs who kept things moving in a constructive direction.

    1. Matt Williams Post author

      I counted 5 rows of 10 chairs apiece, then 25 standing on each side and 10 in the back.  Dave and I are very close, and the difference doesn’t really matter.  Good turnout either way.

      I second all the points Dave makes in his third paragraph. 

      There were two issues that resonated quite a bit with the attendees, and definitely pushed them right up to the brink.  The first was the assertions of staff and the Mayor (Lucas had not arrived yet) that the City had sent notices to the affected parties.  One of the people who spoke to me was the owner of the office building at the corner of Mace and Cowell (diagonally across the street from the Fire House).  He was adamant that he was never sent any notice, either in mail, electronically, or by phone.  Based on the shouted comments, the City may also not have noticed any County residents (e.g. in El Macero and Willowbank). 

      The second was the unfortunate body language from Acting Fire Chief Reilly when questions were directed to him.  In his first answer he explained that he wasn’t in Davis for the planning process, and therefore it was a “not on my watch” situation for him, shrugging his shoulders as emphasis of a “what do you want me to do?” message.  For the next two questions all he did was repeat the shoulder shrug, without any words.  For the fourth question he gave the “I’ve dealt with worse places” response that Dave Hart has reported in a comment on  When Chief Reilly gave that answer, two people standing near me said “that may be true, but this public safety problem is one that the City has created by poor planning and could have been avoided, while the ones Chief Reilly is referring to have happened because of population growth in the City and UCD.”

  3. Dave Hart

    The absolute high point in the meeting for me was after a series of individuals were making the point that the city should bring out jack hammers, no other action was acceptable and if the city council members would not commit to that before the meeting was over, then it was time to mount a recall.  A woman who had previously given a very angry series of comments stepped up and pointed out that with her own background in construction, she understood that the project was nearly complete and that trying to halt it and stop all further construction activity was not reasonable or even desirable.  The construction company would have a great lawsuit against the city and so the net cost of stopping construction and ripping it all out would be far more expensive than letting it be completed.  That really helped get the meeting back into the realm of reality.  That’s what I think of when I imagine democratic action in our community.

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