Commentary: We Can Blame the Judge If He Gets the Law Wrong

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In a recent column that has attracted some attention, Bob Dunning argues that Judge Samuel McAdam ruled correctly on Trackside and suggests that the city ought not “blame the judge for the law.” My problem – and I think the city has a similar view – is we don’t think the judge got the law right in this case.

Bob Dunning calls the ruling by Judge McAdam a “well-reasoned decision” and quotes from the ruling that “Trackside is not consistent with the city of Davis planning provisions governing the transition between the core area to the Old East Davis neighborhood.”

He then quotes Dan Carson responding, “The ruling is a disappointing setback that undermines the authority of city officials to make difficult and complicated, local land-use decisions.”

Bob Dunning in effect compares Dan Carson’s well-grounded comment to President Trump, writing, “Carson, of course, can say what he wants, as can President Trump and anyone else who doesn’t like a judicial outcome.”

Comparisons to Trump are quickly becoming the new Godwin’s law, which is an internet adage that asserts that all discussions devolve to a comparison of Hitler. From my perspective, comparing a dedicated local public servant to President Trump – especially in a community like Davis – is hitting below the belt.

While I have agreed with Councilmember Carson on a number of occasions in the past, I think he’s essentially right. As we will argue, the law defers a great amount of authority to local communities for land use decisions and my problem with Trackside is that the judge subjectively usurps some of that authority in invalidating the project’s approval.

Bob Dunning responds: “McAdam’s ruling was all about local control. He was merely telling the city in very reasonable terms that it is required to follow its own guidelines. Rather than undermining and hindering the city, he was simply pointing out where Trackside was deficient.”

The problem is that Bob Dunning kind of leaves out some pretty important stuff.

As I noted a few weeks ago in my Sunday Commentary, I come down in a very similar position as Mayor Brett Lee.

“Although I voted against the Trackside project, I believe the City Council does have discretion to decide as it did on this development issue,” said Davis Mayor Brett Lee. “I am surprised that the court felt otherwise.”

Like the mayor, I opposed Trackside in the fall of 2017. Like the mayor, I do not believe that Judge McAdam got this one right.

The problem that Bob Dunning completely ignores is the standard of review, which is the crux of the city’s argument along with the issue of FAR (floor area ratio).

As the judge explained in his own ruling: “The proper standard of review is abuse of discretion.”

He wrote, “Under this standard, the Court must defer to the factual findings on consistency of the City unless no reasonable person could have reached the same conclusion on the evidence before it.”

“No reasonable person” is the standard. So that means four of the five Davis City Councilmembers were unreasonable in granting this (and even the fifth, Brett Lee, believes that the city had the discretion here). That means none of the city staff were reasonable. None of the dozens of community members who supported this project.

The reasonable person standard creates a high bar and Judge McAdam subjectively argues that the city violates it by going too large. In order to violate a reasonable person standard, the law can’t be subjective and here the problem with Trackside is, while yes it is a large building, with size and mass that exceeds other buildings, it’s also on a larger parcel which exceeds the size of other parcels.

There is a way to evaluate size and mass within the confines of parcel size. That metric is FAR.

The city presents what I think is a compelling argument that basically this is a larger lot than usual and, therefore, instead of mass and scale, we should be looking at floor area ratio.

Floor area ratio is the relationship between the total usable floor area and the size of the lot on which the building is located. A higher ratio means that the building is more dense. Higher buildings are going to have a higher ratio.

What the city is arguing here is that the FAR of Trackside is within the guidelines specified in planning documents and the only the reason that the mass and scale are larger than other buildings is that Trackside sits on a larger lot.

The FAR of the building is 1.59. The limits in the zoning are 1.5 – however, with density bonuses for having a plaza and underground parking, it could raise the limit up to as high as 2.0. Without the underground parking, it is at 1.7.

Again, Judge McAdam rejected that argument, but is that objective or subjective?

Of course, none of these points in dispute get any airing by Bob Dunning.

Bob Dunning then plays judge and jury when he writes: “Can the city can appeal? Of course it can, but it will likely lose, given the depth and detail of McAdam’s ruling. The end result will be a loss of both time and money.”

What’s his legal basis for that viewpoint? The city very clearly believes that the judge overstepped his authority in ruling as he did. Based on the discussion during the oral arguments following the tentative ruling, Judge McAdam acknowledged he had not considered the FAR argument, which actually puts the project within the acceptable range of size according to the city’s zoning.

He uses the transition zone argument to overrule the city, but if the city is in fundamental compliance on FAR it is hard to argue that their approval marks an unreasonable departure from city planning documents.

That said, as I previously argued, the city is better off not continuing this fight. I think they made a mistake from the start approving this project prior to revisions to the Core Area Specific Plan, but that does not mean that the judge got this ruling right.

—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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64 thoughts on “Commentary: We Can Blame the Judge If He Gets the Law Wrong”

  1. Rik Keller

    Greenwald: in your multiple bites at the apple in multiple articles criticizing this decision, you have still never adequately summarized the ruling.

    One such statement includes: “the FAR… does not change or satisfy the fundamental planning policy that the project must be a transition from the Core Commercial Area to the Old East Neighborhood.”

    To the extent that Greenwald continues to misrepresent the ruling, Barr misrepresenting the Mueller Report is actually a close analogy.

     

    1. Craig Ross

      Rik is making the same mistake as the judge and Bob Dunning.  The reasonable standard is what he too is forgetting.  The point by the judge is fine, but it’s subjective.  The city basically argued that the project was reasonably sized based on FAR.  The judge ruled that the the project was disproportionate to size of other buildings, but ignored FAR was the guiding force.<strong>  The key is that the judge decided that the transition was the fundamental planning policy </strong> rather than the city’s size guidelines in the zoning.   If this was a policy debate, I might agree.  But given that it’s a legal debate with a standard heavily tilted toward the city, I agree with Greenwald and the city, not Dunning and Keller.

      1. Craig Ross

        Put it another way – there are competing interpretations of the law – the reasonable standard means in such a case, deference goes to the local land use agency.

        1. Jim Hoch

          “those who want to raise taxes and make living in Davis more expensive for all”

          Not “all” only more expensive for those that pay taxes which let’s off a lot the Vanguard crowd.

      2. Tia Will

        It is entirely possible for “reasonable people” to disagree.

        I think a reasonable person could conclude that FAR is not the applicable standard given the transitional nature of the site and that zoning, mass & scale should prevail.

        A reasonable person could also conclude that the city council was not acting as an impartial judge of facts, but rather was acting in favor of one set of local constituents over another based on biases. One city council member, initially an investor in the project, arguably should have recused himself based on personal, if no longer, financial bias. Two other members had no qualms whatsoever forcing a community into further negotiations with a developer when it suited their interests but refused to treat the Trackside investor/developers and the OEDNA in the same way in a classic case of picking local winners and losers.

        Another reasonable individual might have considered it prudent to await the opinions of the contracted consultants hired by the city with regard to downtown development prior to acting on the Trackside proposal.

        Finally, a reasonable individual might have found it more cost effective for all concerned if the Trackside developers and the OEDNA had consulted in good faith on a project that would have met the needs of all from the beginning, in which case the project would already have been built. Unlike what some readers may perceive, this never occurred, as in the words of one of the developers “We are not negotiating”.

        1. Mark West

          “A reasonable person could also conclude that the city council was not acting as an impartial judge of facts, but rather was acting in favor of one set of local constituents over another…”

          For instance, those who want the City to increase revenues to meet our financial needs through commercial development versus those who want to raise taxes and make living in Davis more expensive for all.

          “Two other members had no qualms whatsoever forcing a community into further negotiations with a developer when it suited their interests but refused to treat the Trackside investor/developers and the OEDNA in the same way…”

          Neither developer should have been treated that way. Development costs should be declared up front so they may be properly planned for. Late changes, as you seem to be advocating, increase the financial risk of a project and make all development less likely to occur.  A great approach if your desire is to block change but a terrible one if you want the City to evolve to meet the current and future needs of residents. There is no worse demonstration of this bad behavior than one CC member’s call for ‘another million’ prior to the final approval vote on Lincoln40, but sending the Hyatt project back for another round of negotiations after the neighbors had refused to engage the first time is another great example. The CC should be chastised for such behavior, not lauded.

           

          “Another reasonable individual might have considered it prudent to await the opinions of the contracted consultants hired by the city with regard to downtown development prior to acting on the Trackside proposal.”

           

          Someone else would need to go back an look at the dates to confirm, but my memory is that the Trackside project was submitted to the City before (perhaps as much as a year before) the CASP process was officially started. With a process that was expected to take at least two years, what you (and others) are advocating is that the developers should have been forced to sit on their hands for two-three years while the City got its act together. ‘No big deal’ when it isn’t your money on the line, I guess. In the real world though it sounds like a great way for the City to be sued and lose, at great expense to the community. Brilliant!

          “a reasonable individual might have found it more cost effective for all concerned if the Trackside developers and the OEDNA had consulted in good faith on a project that would have met the needs of all from the beginning…”

          The developers, in this case, have explained publicly that the OEDNA’s acceptable option would not meet the developer’s needs. What you are proposing then is not an agreement that ‘meets the needs of all’ but rather one that meets your (and OEDNA’s) needs. What might have made some sense is if in the course of the ‘negotiations’ OEDNA had offered to purchase the development rights to the airspace above three stories, making the smaller project more financially viable. I don’t recall that offer ever being put forward.

        2. Ron Oertel

          Mark:  “What might have made some sense is if in the course of the ‘negotiations’ OEDNA had offered to purchase the development rights to the airspace above three stories, making the smaller project more financially viable. I don’t recall that offer ever being put forward.”

          Seems to me that this “right” doesn’t actually exist, and therefore has no monetary value.

        3. David Greenwald Post author

          “It is entirely possible for “reasonable people” to disagree.”

          While that’s true, the legal standard here is abuse of discretion which relies on the reasonable person standard for the city to make decisions.

        4. Matt Williams

          NOTE: since publishing the comment below, I received a communication from another Davis resident noting that my bolded “to the best of my knowledge” disclaimer needs help, and as a result I was pointed to Section IV Community Form of Section pointing me to Chapter 1: Land Use and Growth Management of the General Plan. I will post a follow up comment below based on that Floor Area Ratio reference in the General Plan.

          I apologize to all for my failure to do sufficient due diligence to make my bolded words less prophetic

          but if the city is in fundamental compliance on FAR it is hard to argue that their approval marks an unreasonable departure from city planning documents.

          In all the discussion about the Trackside project proposal, consistently, over and over again, it has been pointed out that the “city planning documents” hierarchically come in three levels.  The City of Davis General Plan (see LINK) is the level with the greatest authority, and to the best of my knowledge the Floor Area Ratio standard does not appear in the General Plan.  Why is that important?  Well for the judge, the ruling is most heavily based on the provisions of the General Plan in establishing the standards of review.

          Arguably the Davis Downtown and Traditional Residential Neighborhoods (DTRN) Design Guidelines (see LINK) are the next level of authority, and to the best of my knowledge the Floor Area Ratio standard does not appear in the DTRN Guidelines either.

          Chapter 40 of the Municipal Code (see LINK) covers Zoning, and it is by most reasonable persons to be the third and lowest level standard in Davis.  Further, Section 40.01.070 of the Zoning Code explicitly states that “In their interpretation and application, provisions of this chapter shall be held to be minimum requirements. Where this chapter imposes a greater restriction than is imposed or required by other rules or regulations or ordinances, the provisions of this chapter shall control.”  and Article 40.13A DOWNTOWN AND TRADITIONAL NEIGHBORHOOD OVERLAY DISTRICT Section 40.13A.020 Applicability states “(b)    Wherever the guidelines for the DTRN conflict with the existing zoning standards including planned development, the more restrictive standard shall prevail. (Ord. 2066 § 1, 2001”

          As a result, this reasonable person sees legal reliance on the FAR argument moot because that FAR requirement is less restrictive than the Two and three story buildings should predominate” guideline that appears on Page 82 in the Third Street Special Character Area, which is reinforced by the graphical example on page 84 shown below

          https://www.davisvanguard.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Screen-Shot-2019-05-30-at-5.49.42-PM.png

        5. Matt Williams

          This comment expands on my bolded note at the beginning of my comment above.

          https://www.davisvanguard.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Screen-Shot-2019-05-30-at-6.29.01-PM.png

          The above General Plan section appears to cap the FAR at 0.65 in the designation for the Trackside parcel in Figure 11c on page 71 … with the 0.15 Mixed Use bonus.  But the Core Area Specific Plan needs to be queried … more to come.

          https://www.davisvanguard.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Screen-Shot-2019-05-30-at-6.39.26-PM.png

        6. Matt Williams

          This comment further expands on my bolded note at the beginning of my comment above.

          The provisions of the Core Area Specific Plan (see LINK page 29) further muddy the waters.  The maximum FAR for Core Retail with Offices, which is what the Specific Plan labels the Trackside site moves the base FAR up to 1.5; however, since the Trackside parcel is clearly designated as a Transitional Boundary, the last sentence “It is appropriate to consider less intensive , yet mixed use zoning in this area” appears to mandate a base FAR that is less than 1.5.

          https://www.davisvanguard.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Screen-Shot-2019-05-31-at-12.05.42-AM.png

          Regarding the bonuses, there is no “preservation of a designated historic structure.” There is no underground parking or “Trees Worth Saving” or preservation of Trees of Significance.”  The only bonus that possibly could apply is the 0.2 bonus for a plaza, although many have argued that the plaza is actually on the adjacent Union Pacific parcel, and should not be included in any FAR determination.

          So the reasonable person has to decide how far to reduce the 1.5 base FAR in order to comply with the “less intensive, yet mixed use” guidance for the Transitional Boundary.

          With apologies to Alfred, Lord Tennyson and the Charge of the Light Brigade, the reasonable person is faced with …

          1.5 FAR to the right of them,
          0.5 FAR to the left of them,
          Volleyed and thundered;
          Stormed at with shot and shell,
          Boldly they rode and well,
          Into the jaws of Death,
          Into the mouth of hell
          Rode the six hundred.

    2. Bill Marshall

      How can one misrepresent an untruth?

      “the FAR… does not change or satisfy the fundamental planning policy that the project must be a transition from the Core Commercial Area to the Old East Neighborhood.”

      Untruth, in the sense that the judge had/has no standing to interpret the word “fundamental” given the preponderance of evidence that decision by the CC was in ‘substantial conformance’ with City codes and policies.  And, the judge is supposed to give deference to actions of an elected, legislative body on a “tweener”.

      Had the judge directed the CC to reconsider its action, given the record, any member of the CC who voted for the approvals could have done that.  But the judge, indeed ruled wrongly (and stupidly, IMO), to direct the CC to invalidate the approvals.  Huge overstep of judicial authority.

      Also, the record does not show that plaintiffs exhausted their administrative remedies before filing suit… so, based on the record, the suit should not have been heard by the court.  It was not “ripe”.

      There are other procedural and potentially legal/constitutional problems with the decision… but, it will be up to the applicant/developer as to possible appeal of the decision… I strongly suspect an appeal would be successful… but there is financial risk, as the City will unlikely appeal unless all costs are borne by the applicant.

      David has basically got this right.  Dunning, despite his law school gig, has basically got this wrong.

      My money is on that it will not be appealed, and will (project, as approved) ‘shrivel on the vine’… and the status quo (aka same-same) will prevail… much to the satisfaction of many… very “progressive”…

      I say again… as to the project, I’m like a constipated person, “I just don’t give a $%&*…” … but I find the self-righteous, erroneous, posturing/attacking, ‘I told you so!’ folk extremely annoying, and fools who are in denial…

      Judge McAdam just got this so wrong… and 99.9% likely, will skate.

      1. Alan Miller

        I say again… as to the project, I’m like a constipated person, “I just don’t give a $%&*…” …

        Actually, a constipated person does give a S—, eventually, possibly with intervention.  And along those lines, though dost protest too much.  Everytime you WM make an eloquent though misguided essay on this topic, you feel the need to state how much you don’t care.  So actually the constipated analogy works well here.

        1. Alan Miller

          Well, perhaps a bit personal, pardon, but we’ve all put a great deal of our lives into fighting this project as proposed, and you just set yourself up with the constipation references :-(.  I am very unimpressed with ‘blaming the judge’ arguments.  I guarantee if the decision had done the other way, I’d be disappointed, but not out there ‘blaming the judge’.

        2. Bill Marshall

          I understand, I think, Alan…

          But you’re talking about an outcome that you and others desired.  Inherent bias. (?)

          But is it right for a team to cheer when they win, even if the main reason they won is that the ref either called a foul that shouldn’t have been called, or failed to call a blatant foul?  Guess a win is a win…

          The judge could have directed the CC to reconsider the approvals, and cite why… he didn’t do that… he directed the CC to invalidate/reverse their approvals… huge difference.  Based on the facts, the former would be reasonable… the latter was big time overstepping the scope of his authority.

          Had he ruled that the CC reconsider the approvals, pointing out flaws in reasoning, I’d not have engaged… but that is not how he ruled…

          Hope that clarifies… we may still disagree, but at least we’ll know why…

    3. Rik Keller

      It is very interesting that other commenters, along with Greenwald, still don’t actually reference and quote the judge’s decision. Nor do they understand how the legal standards related to consistency with the General Plan work.

      Just as one example, by no means did the judge ignore the FAR argument. He explicitly stated that other broader standards in the GP and CASP trump that argument.

  2. Ron Oertel

    From article:  “I think they made a mistake from the start approving this project prior to revisions to the Core Area Specific Plan. . .”

    (Translation:  Just wait until “after“.)  😉

    1. Bill Marshall

      Are we to understand that no revision of the CASP would be acceptable to you?

      Or just, tr%^^ing?…

      Your post is 67.5% off topic…

      But yours will remain, mine will be deleted by the moderator…

      1. Alan Miller

        stay on topic, stop attacking the other participants, and stop debating the moderation practices on the Vanguard.

        Good luck with that.

        With all the fanfare about everyone having a real name improving the level of civil discourse, I believe we can now declare that an abject failure.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            You should assume I’ve been otherwise occupied.

            “Would you support an updated guideline allowing a 4-story building at Trackside?”

            My problem with Trackside was not height related. I had a problem with the low number of units, the designation of them as luxury which didn’t seem to be the greatest need for the community, and the amount of hardship caused by such a project to the numbers did not seem to generate enough bang for the buck. In general, I’m not opposed to four stories in that location, but the other problems led me to oppose Trackside.

        1. Ron Oertel

          David: So, the short answer is “yes”, provided that they’re not “luxury units” (whatever that means).

          Didn’t you also advocate for the watering-down (or outright elimination) of Affordable housing in, or near downtown? (Due to concerns regarding “penciling out” for developers?)

          What type of “feasible, in-need”, 4-story (or above?) development would you support at Trackside?

      1. Alan Miller

        Translation is that once the new CASP is approved, the planning guidelines are up to date and the issue is defined.

        Translation:  We want future guidelines as we define them to regulate the site now, so we’ll just say obviously these are going to be the future guidelines so we’ll OK the project based on “the future we really really really really hope will happen.”

         

        1. Craig Ross

          Haven’t you been complaining for the last several years that the city hasn’t updated its planning guidelines?  Seems like an important place to start.

        2. Alan Miller

          Haven’t you been complaining for the last several years that the city hasn’t updated its planning guidelines?

          Participating in the process, yes.  Complaining – negative characterization, and I’d say most of Davis believes in updating the planning guidelines (and don’t have the same opinion on details).    That doesn’t mean I agree with a future that would allow the Trackside project as currently proposed.

          Seems like an important place to start.

          To start to update them, not as a start to changing standards to allow a 4-story building next to a 1-story home and call that a ‘transition’.  That’s as moronic as criticizing the judge’s decision.

        3. Craig Ross

          What makes you think the CASP/DPAC process is going to necessarily allow Trackside as proposed to go forward?

          Also, why is criticizing a judge’s decison, moronic?  It’s not like he’s a land use expert.  He’s probably never practiced land use law in his life.

        4. Alan Miller

          What makes you think the CASP/DPAC process is going to necessarily allow Trackside as proposed to go forward?

          I would say that decision is the elephant in the room at every meeting.

          Also, why is criticizing a judge’s decison, moronic?  It’s not like he’s a land use expert.  He’s probably never practiced land use law in his life.

          I’ll change ‘moronic’ to ‘immature’.  Rather than dealing with the issues, or accepting or advocating for appeal, the argument is ‘judge got law wrong’.  I would not be arguing that had it gone the other way.  I’d be embarrassed to.

        5. Craig Ross

          I don’t know why, judges get the law wrong a lot.  That’s why they have appelate courts, that’s why they have things called writs, that’s why you have lawyers on both sides who advocate, I fail to see your perspective on this that we somehow have to accept a ruling from a judge who probably has less expertise on landuse than either of the attorneys.

        6. Alan Miller

          One of the elephants Alan.  It is a multi-elephant room.

          I was speaking of the pink one.  I know it’s not PC to identify one by their color, but it’s the only way I could think to describe it to you clearly.

        7. Alan Miller

          I don’t know why, judges get the law wrong a lot.

          ‘I don’t like the decision’

          That’s why they have appelate courts, that’s why they have things called writs,

          Appelate court judges are more perfect, as are the writs they decree . . . ???

          that’s why you have lawyers on both sides who advocate,

          They do, but it’s not why they do . . .

          I fail to see your perspective on this

          I will not comment on your failure to see my perspective . . .

          that we somehow have to accept a ruling from a judge

          You don’t have to accept it . . .

          who probably has less expertise on landuse than either of the attorneys.

          Judges and juries make ruling on things they are not experts on all the time.  In fact, if a judge is not judging on judging, they are very unlikely an expert on anything else they are ruling on . . .

          I would be very bummed if the judge ruled the other way, but I wouldn’t be out in public declaring the judge’s professional character to be lacking.  To do so is embarassing, be you a commenter, a blogger, or a city councilmember.

  3. Alan Miller

    From my perspective, comparing a dedicated local public servant to President Trump – especially in a community like Davis – is hitting below the belt.

    From my perspective, a local blogger is repeatedly criticizing the judgement of a dedicated local public servant and judge — especially in a community live Davis — is hitting below the . . . . .  (even lower than the belt).

    1. Bill Marshall

      None of us (I think) have questioned the person, per se… just the decision rendered… some may equate the two… I believe McAdam greatly erred… legal/technical reasons…

      I think it’s a matter of me being willing to get into his face, which is way far above the belt… unless the person’s head was,  (connect the dots)…

      I say again, I care not about the project… but the decision was not well founded… if the decision had gone the other way, with similar (yet different) rationale, I’d be saying the same things…

      Alan, you’re making me reconsider my view that “inherent bias” is a myth, a political canard…

      But, you have a ‘stake’, and I do not, except for process… as to process, logic, yes, I have strong biases… I own that…

       

       

  4. Ron Oertel

    “Comparisons to Trump are quickly becoming the new Godwin’s law, which is an internet adage that asserts that all discussions devolve to a comparison of Hitler.”

    Pretty sure that there are some Trump supporters (possibly including some who no longer comment here) who would take exception to this comparison.

     

  5. Eric Gelber

    I think they made a mistake from the start approving this project prior to revisions to the Core Area Specific Plan ….

    Why was that a mistake? Because the project was not consistent with the current CASP?

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      It was a mistake because it doesn’t make sense to approve a project outside of a community-based planning process which is what is happening with DPAC.

        1. Alan Miller

          1996 is like yesterday to me.  One’s birth isn’t some magic date.   Laws, regulations and guidelines created before you birth may still be in effect.

        2. Alan Miller

          It’s context.  To you, the constitution of the US might as well have been written a billion years ago.

          And yet, despite how much some would like to radically change it, it is still the law of the land . . .

      1. Ron Oertel

        David: To bring it more out in the open, I’d like to essentially repeat my questions from above:

        You indicated (above) that height (e.g., 4 stories, or possibly above?) is not an issue for you regarding Trackside, provided that the development does not consist of “luxury units” (whatever that means).  You also stated that the number of units was “too low”.

        Didn’t you also advocate for the watering-down (or outright elimination) of Affordable housing in, or near downtown? (Due to concerns regarding “penciling out” for developers?)

        What type of “feasible, in-need”, 4-story (or above?) development would you support at Trackside?  And, what “targeted” amount of rent do you think qualifies as “non-luxury”?  And how would you ensure that this is the amount that’s actually charged – especially in the absence of Affordable housing requirements?

        Also, would you be disappointed if a new “community-based process” results in essentially the same restrictions that currently exist, at Trackside?

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Pretty much non-stop work today. However, I pretty much said what I am going to on Trackside.

        1. Ron Oertel

          David:  “However, I pretty much said what I am going to on Trackside.”

          I think you’re short-changing your readers, regarding this.  A Mueller-like decision.  But unlike Mueller (who actually doesn’t want to talk further), you keep talking about the “need”.  I suspect this will continue, without ever actually addressing or tackling the consequences of your advocacy, head-on.

          There’s nothing “wrong” with owning your actual opinions – even if they’re “unpopular” among some.  There is something wrong with being less-than-upfront, regarding them. (This is what politicians often do.)

        2. Ron Oertel

          Craig:  “Interaction” with (and between) readers is a primary component of the Vanguard’s business model.

          To your credit, you don’t “generally” and continuously write articles about a “need”, but then avoid talking about specifics and their consequences.  You come right out and say what you mean.

          You probably don’t have the same level of “political skill” as David.  Neither do I.

  6. Eric Gelber

    We Can Blame the Judge If He Gets the Law Wrong

    Where do you contend the judge got the law wrong? E.g., did he apply the wrong review standard? Did he misinterpret the law in some way? Or do you mean to say the evidence doesn’t support the finding that the project is out of compliance with the city’s planning guidelines? That’s a different matter and the distinction would be relevant in any appeal of the decision.

     

    1. Rik Keller

      Good questions, Eric!

      As I stated from the onset,  in Greenwald’s multiple bites at the apple in multiple articles criticizing this decision, has still never adequately summarized the ruling. And in dozens of comments in this article from people criticizing the decision, I have yet to see the actual substance of the decision discussed in any significant way.

  7. James Richie

    This is such a simple issue that people are over-complicating: does this decision help or hurt people? It hurts people who aren’t fortunate enough to be property owners and rewards those property owners of East Davis who were fortunate enough to buy in the 80s or 90s.

    Judges have two frequently competing responsibilities: interpret the law in regards to the case in front of them, or adjudicate towards those underprivileged and hurt by the prospective law. McAdam decided to favor property owners, it’s that simple. The peanut gallery can deliberate the merits of the decision.

    This is a great example of the case of Prop 8 in the late 00s. The law prohibited same-sex couples from marrying. A traditional judge would uphold the law as it was. A judge who cared about the mass citizenship and rights of it would demonstrate irreparable harm towards same-sex couples and repeal it. Frankly, this decision equates to that. Do no-growthers support the same model of law that prohibits equality in marriage? In this case, the model says yes.

    Candidly, I don’t like residents who don’t support equality. It’s incredibly disappointing to watch Davis move towards upholding inequality.

    1. Ron Oertel

      If anything, Trackside would increase the (monetary) value of surrounding houses.  So, it’s unlikely that this is the motivation of neighbors.  Setting such a precedent might also allow neighbors to “cash in”, by selling their properties for redevelopment.

      But, it would irrevocably change the neighborhood, for those who remain.  Including the folks who remain in one-floor, tiny houses almost adjacent to Trackside. Those are among the folks who would be “hurt”.

      I have trouble equating denial of gay marriage to changing zoning or guidelines to allow a particular housing development.

    2. Alan Miller

      interpret the law in regards to the case in front of them, or adjudicate towards those underprivileged and hurt by the prospective law.

      You advocate for judges acting as liberal activists rather than interpreting the law . . . are you sure you want to live in that world?

      McAdam decided to favor property owners, it’s that simple.

      It is not really that simple; this is merely your declaration because you didn’t like the decision.

      Do no-growthers support the same model of law that prohibits equality in marriage?

      Not being a no growther, I cannot speak for any or all of them.  I believe any adults should be able to partner as the mutually wish.

      Candidly, I don’t like residents who don’t support equality.

      I stopped beating my wife yesterday.  Thanks for asking.

      It’s incredibly disappointing to watch Davis move towards upholding inequality.

      A judge makes a decision you disagree with, and the above statement is your conclusion?   Connect the dots . . .

    3. Rik Keller

      James Ritchie: How does rejecting the approval of 24 luxury apartments that violate City planning standards represent not “supporting equality”. And how do you possibly conflate this with Proposition 8 trying to outlaw same-sex marriage?

      1. Ron Glick

        I think we need a lot more housing, but where I differ with Weiner is the same place as I differ with Trackside, that infill is great in theory but not so much in practice and that maxing out your property over the objections of your neighbors isn’t being a good neighbor. I have long advocated that we get rid of Measure R to allow more construction on the periphery where the impacts on existing neighborhoods are minimal.

        The thing I like about the article I linked is how many of the same arguments I have heard here in Davis or on the Vanguard that it debunks.

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