Councilmember Carson Talks about 2019 Accomplishments and Disappointments

Dan Carson

The Davis City Council is nearing the midpoint in the 2019 year.  This is the first full year of the new council under Mayor Brett Lee and Mayor Pro Tem Gloria Partida.  Thus far in 2019, issues like paid parking, Mace Boulevard and Pacifico have dominated, while issues like fiscal sustainability, housing, Measure R and the like have waited their turn.

The council this year acted to implement a revised paid parking program that leaves street parking as free but imposes a cost on several surface lots.  It has moved to revise the Mace Blvd. redesign after stakeholders and nearby residents complained about congestion.  Finally, it has asked for an RFP (Request for Proposal) on Pacifico, as it looks to potentially revise that affordable housing project.

Dan Carson is just under a year into his first term and the Vanguard checked in with him to see his assessment for how things were going so far.

Vanguard: What three things do you think the council has done well this year so far?

Dan Carson: I’m glad to see that the city has moved forward on a number of specific actions to make the city more efficient, help generate new revenues, and address our $8 million annual fiscal gap.  We’ve revamped our approach to city budgeting and begun taking a series of admittedly boring but specific and meaningful actions to improve city finances.  For example, we created a two-year budget process to free up staff time for other purposes and are refinancing old high-interest bonds to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in new revenues for city coffers.  We are reviewing how city workspace can be consolidated or relocated to free up surplus city land that could be used for housing or economic development.

We’ve moved forward on providing more desperately needed rental housing, including approval of the Chiles Road apartment project for family and workforce housing. We won a legal challenge to the Lincoln 40 student housing project (a decision we hope is not appealed).  And, per our agreement with UC Davis, the campus has begun construction of more than 3,000 beds on-campus, the biggest student housing project in the United States.

Finally, we’re starting to gain momentum on much needed economic development efforts. We’re working more closely with our partners in the regional Sacramento Economic Development Council, including participation in a trip they sponsored for city officials to the North Carolina Research Triangle, to help us fashion a more effective City of Davis economic development strategy.  The Food and Economic Development (FED) group added some great new ideas about enriching the city’s food culture and economy, and work is under way to build a new corporate headquarters in our city for Nugget Foods and a new Marriott Residence Inn extended stay hotel.

Vanguard: What are your disappointments?

Dan Carson: I’m disappointed about some episodes, like the controversy over Mace Boulevard, which demonstrate that our city still needs to improve its communication skills.  But I am already seeing the dividends of the council direction last fall to focus on improving our follow-through on citizen complaints and making our messaging about these situations more clear and understandable. But city staff understands that more effort is needed here.

Vanguard: What do you want to see get done in the next six months?

Dan Carson: I’m excited about the work ahead.  By this fall we must decide whether to renew our one-cent city sales tax that provides roughly $9 million out of our $60 million General Fund budget for public safety and parks and road repair. We are moving forward with work on a new downtown plan (that will continue into 2020)  that should make investment in new housing and jobs more enticing to investors and make our downtown a more enjoyable and culturally interesting place for visitors.  We are setting aside funding to start updating our Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, an effort for which there is a lot of local community energy. Given the serious concerns about what is happening to our worldwide and local climate, I’d like to see that effort get a solid start in the next six months.

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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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  1. Rik Keller

    Dan Carson is in the local newspaper today. Excerpts:

    “Ruled McAdam in a well-reasoned decision, “It is the conclusion of this court 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…..

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

    Carson, of course, can say what he wants, as can President Trump and anyone else who doesn’t like a judicial outcome….

    Since the Old East Davis folks have reasonably stated they are not against redevelopment of parcels in their neighborhood as long as they conform to the city’s own design guidelines, it would be wise for the city to take Trackside back to the drawing board and do it right this time.

    Accusing a competent judge who did his homework of usurping local control does nothing to advance the ball in this case.”

    1. Craig Ross

      Keller fails to mention he is quoting a Dunning column – not exactly an objective news source.

      Dunning, as the Vanguard pointed out this morning, failed to seemingly understand the standard of review here, the reasonable person test, and the subjective nature of Judge McAdam’s ruling.

      Not sure what any of this has to do with this article, but if Keller is going to post this stuff, he might want to be a bit more even handed rather than trying to simply slam Carson based on a biased and incomplete Dunning column.

      1. Eric Gelber

        Craig – The link provided clearly identifies the source as being a Bob Dunning column. I’m not sure how the column shows a misunderstanding of the legal standard of review. Would you have criticized the ruling as being “subjective” if the result had been in favor of the City? I found this post to be related to the article insofar as Dan Carson apparently did not identify the Trackside ruling as one of his disappointments. Perhaps the outcome was not unexpected.

        1. Bill Marshall

          That is indeed, the two-edged sword… remember that when a judge rules against something that … you hold dear, support, advocate for… or, just in general…

          Is the message never question a judge’s judgement?  Or just a moment of word-play (which I get, have done, and support)…

          Some question … (fill in your own ‘decisions’ by judges… )…

          So judges are perfect in their rulings?  Really?  Dred Scott?  Guess we should not question that ruling, lest we be judged… yet we have, and find it a abhorrent aberration of justice…

          The case in discussion rises no where near close to that… but as Dad said, “it was not that I didn’t like High School, it was just the Principal of the thing”… his tongue fully in cheek (the upper one).

          Still, McAdam either blew the call, or weakly documented his call (I assert, both)… opening up the appeal option… finances may well close that off… but is that how justice should work?  He had options he chose not to take… remanding matter back for a re-consider…  he chose a directive for a complete “do over”… inappropriate..

          He showed poor judge-ment….

  2. Moderator

    I have removed numerous comments. You know who you are and why. Just stop. Comment on the article, be civil, and stop sniping at each other.

  3. Bill Marshall

    One of the achievements missed is allowing CM & staff to do what they do best… day-to-day services… supplying water when you turn on the faucet; making “things” go away when you use sink, flush toilet; responding to medical emergencies; dealing with other potential emergencies; keeping the lights on –streetlights, traffic signals;  etc., etc.

    In short, things folk take for granted, but by funding, or other ‘support’, enable the City to perform the basic functions — the core reasons the City came into being 102 years ago…


  4. Todd Edelman

    In regards to Mace and 

    communication skills,

      I’m not disagreeing that this was a problem, but the still very un-fixed problem is primarily of bad design and secondarily of extremist entitlement of some people. In regards to the latter, probably most of them live in the County but are in many respects a functional part of the City. Indeed, if compassion is the highest form of communication, the morals of these “folks” made them psychospiritually-deaf, blind and numb, manifested in what is fair to describe as pre-meditated – though unintentional – murder of children.

    I am not sure what can be done for them, but my anti-disappointment is manifested in my only slightly-reserved confidence – from what I know – about what the team tasked with “fixing” Mace. A partial re-design of Mace – based on the latest expertise in transportation management and respect especially of our unique culture and goals – will make pleasing improvements on the current situation for all reasonable users.

  5. Alan Miller

    the morals of these “folks” made them psychospiritually-deaf, blind and numb, manifested in what is fair to describe as pre-meditated – though unintentional – murder of children.

    I take it you are not running for Yolo County Supervisor anytime soon.

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