Monday Morning Thoughts: Why Davis Should Consider an Innovation Center

Agricultural technology could be a nexus for Davis’ economic development

When UC Davis first announced the World Food Center concept a few years ago, it argued it was a way to “promote innovative, sustainable and equitable food systems.”

“The renewed program intends to work on local, national and global scales to support scientific research, extension and policy developments at UC Davis that address these goals,” Kent J. Bradford, the newly appointed interim director of the World Food Center, said last year.

The idea then is to provide a program that can support scientific research which improves food systems.

In the meantime, one of the big challenges faced by the world is finding a way to shift the way energy is used away from fossil fuels – which create heat and electricity and also release greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, contributing to global climate change.

One of the goals of UC Davis is take their world class record for research on climate change and help create “a sustainable, equitable 21st-century economy, with new jobs across multiple sectors and new definitions of health and abundance for people, ecosystems and the planet.

“UC Davis is uniquely equipped to accelerate groundbreaking science and practical interventions that will benefit all.”

One of the goals of economic development here in Davis is a process of technology transfer – where research conducted at the university can be utilized and transferred into the private sector to create innovative new uses.

That is one of the reasons why, in 2013 and 2014, I supported the concept of an innovation center for Davis – finding ways to take the work performed at UC Davis and translating it into the private sector.

But what we have learned from the time of the Studio 30 report onward is that Davis lacks the available commercially zoned property to do this.  The Studio 30 report as well as the Innovation Park Task recommended Davis take about 200 acres on its periphery and use that land for creating an innovation center capable of the type  of economic development that can develop food research and green technology.

Critics keep pointing out that proponents of the Aggie Research Campus “claim” to be “concerned about local contributions to global warming, but are willing to ‘overlook’ a 4,340-parking space, peripheral freeway-oriented development on prime farmland.”

We keep hearing that this is going to be a peripheral and freeway-oriented development on prime farmland, but we do not hear the rest of the picture.

From a land use perspective, I find it ironic that some of these same people would be willing to support the research campus without housing on the site – even though the project without housing would actually produce far more in the way of impacts than the project with housing.

I would think they would want to support more housing on the site, which means more people are living on site and driving less.  But that is not the case.

In general, while I am in favor of more development than I was in 2006 when I started the Vanguard and in 2010, I really do not support much in the way of peripheral development and, as this weekend’s piece laid out, we really do not have a lot of space to go outward anyway.

But I think a lot of critics are missing a crucial point here.  While I do believe we need to reduce our VMT and carbon footprint locally in order to have the moral authority to act globally, I think some are fooling themselves into believing that acting locally is sufficient to start turning the ship around that is climate change.

It is not.  It is going to take drastic action on a global level.

I had this conversation back in 2013 and 2014 as I was first contemplating support of innovation parks.  At the time, I was largely opposed to building anything on agricultural land.

But it was pointed out by several people that we can preserve our agricultural land locally, but the real fight for food justice and against hunger and starvation were taking place globally, not locally.  And the biggest impact we can have locally is utilizing UC Davis’ research and global muscle.

In short, we can fight locally to preserve our few acres of agricultural land.  We can reduce our local carbon footprint.  And it is like stopping a drop of toxic leak into the ocean that is being poisoned on a global and unprecedented scale.

Our biggest contribution to this fight would be to focus, as Barry Broome suggested last year, on our core efficiencies – matching the values of the residents of Davis.

We can fight to save a few acres of ag land or we can help invest in the technology in terms of clean tech, green tech, and agricultural technology that can develop better crops and methods to help feed starving people around the world.

Technology that can help produce cleaner burning technologies, with ways to propel automobiles that burn cleanly and do not produce carbon emissions.

In short, whatever local impact that we have from encroachment on farmland or in terms of traffic will potentially be dwarfed by the benefit of such new technology.

Some will undoubtedly object here.  We can’t be sure that this kind of technology can be created.  We might simply be enriching wealthy investors without helping the poor.

I agree.  There are no guarantees.  But we are also well past the point of playing it safe.

We are not going to solve climate change by limiting VMT in Davis, but we could reduce it by developing the technology to grow food more efficiently and effectively in third world countries, or by producing green technology that helps reduce our GHG around the world.

—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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127 Comments

  1. Ron Glick

    “But what we have learned from the time of the Studio 30 report onward is that Davis lacks the available commercially zoned property to do this.”

    This is the fundamental problem with Measure R. Davis drew the boundaries too tight so that Davis doesn’t have the land for needed growth without all this extra process that adds impediments to development.

  2. Alan Miller

    Monday Morning Thoughts: Why Davis Should Consider an Innovation Center

    Oh thank God!  I thought it was 2020 coming up.  It was just a bad dream – It’s 2014!  And Davis is considering three innovation center proposals submitted by developers.  And we’re all five years younger.  And an innovation center is just a fancy name for a business park.

    “I want to go home . . . I want to go home . . . I want to go home . . . “

    1. Ron Glick

      Measure R created a ten year time warp. The question is if Davis will renew it and do the time warp again in another ten year Rocky Horror Show deja vu all over again where Yogi Berra meets Susan Sarandon at the laundromat and go out for pizza at Symposium while the community remains in a continuous spin cycle to infinity.

  3. Rik Keller

    The article states “ From a land use perspective, I find it ironic that some of these same people would be willing to support the research campus without housing on the site – even though the project without housing would actually produce far more in the way of impacts than the project with housing.”

    Have you looked at the EIR for the MRIC Mixed Use Alternative? One interesting thing is that the project with housing only had slightly reduced driving numbers over the non-housing project, and that was only because they used highly unrealistic assumptions, including that 100% of the housing would be occupied by project employees at the rate of about 1.6 employees per housing unit.

    1. Alan Miller

      including that 100% of the housing would be occupied by project employees at the rate of about 1.6 employees per housing unit.

      Do you have a link to that?  I’m not doubting you, I want a link, because that is outrgeous as a modeling assumption (I do semi-unrelated modeling management in my job — and the biggest ‘though-shalt’ is inputing accurate and realistic assumptions:  so if what you say is real, I am outgraged on multiple levels).  So, RK or the developer . . . come forward and site the link for your model inputs here – that should clear up a lot of who is spouting the BS here.

      I am generally leaning to support the project, but if the EIR is being fed by 100% BS modeling inputs, I will go to opposed, because I so oppose allowing lies to feed EIRs.  So, the Alan Miller challenge to both sides – put up or shut up!

        1. Bill Marshall

          BTW… a valid, honest EIR is still only a disclosure document.

          If the EIR is certified, that has no impact as to project approval/disapproval… just means that the facts are present to judge the project.

          Measure J/R provides twists… if CC denies the project, no Measure R vote… if CC approves the project, Measure R vote… opponents get two turns at bat.

          Perhaps a renewal of R could provide for a more level playing field… if approved by CC, electorate could overturn that… perhaps Measure R redux could provide that if the CC denied it, the electorate could approve it.

          Proponents/opponents would each have two turns at bat.

        2. Ron Oertel

          ” . . . just means that the facts are present to judge the project.

          Some of what might be referred to (by some folks) as “facts” are actually challengeable “estimates”, based upon assumptions. And if the assumptions are not accurate, it may not function very well as a “disclosure document”.

          Unfortunately, some may present those disclosures as “facts”.

    2. Rik Keller

      Alan M: here is a summary of my comments on that topic for the ARC Supplemental EIR (“SEIR”) scoping. The assumption in the MRIC  Mixed Use Alternative (“MU Alt”) was that there would be an average of 1.57 employees residing in each of the 850 on-site housing units, which is beyond ludicrous.

      The SEIR needs to provide realistic assumptions regarding residents of the proposed project who projected to be employees 

       

      The SEIR also needs to provide realistic assumption regarding the number of employees per household

       

      There is no justification to assume on-site housing will only consist of workers

       

      There is also no justification to assume that each household within the project that is occupied by an employee would have more than one employee (1.57 in each according to the MU Alt)

       

      A realistic adjustment of these figures based on current City of Davis rates as well as those from similar projects will show much lower rates of these than currently in the MU Alt. In turn these figures will have significant impacts on other areas that need to be recalculated such as traffic and parking

       

      For example, it is likely that without the extremely high number of employees assumed to be living on-site in the MU Alt, the traffic numbers would be worse for MU Alt than the baseline project

      .

      Parkland/ open space and open space needs will also increase because of the reduction of the overlap between employees and residents

       

    3. Rik Keller

      Alan M.: here’s two pages in Chapter 8 of the MRIC that discuss the assumption:

       
      http://documents.cityofdavis.org/Media/Default/Documents/PDF/CDD/ED/projects/Innovation-Centers/Mace-Ranch/Draft-EIR/8_Mixed-Use%20Alternative.pdf

      p. 8-128: “The non-residential portion of the Mixed-Use Alternative would generate approximately 5,882 employees. Utilizing the 1.62 employees per household figure, approximately 1,215 to 1,377 of the 5,882 innovation center employees are anticipated to live and work on the Mixed-Use Site. “

      p. 8-133: “Utilizing the 1.62 employees per household figure, approximately 1,215 to 1,377 of the 5,882 innovation center employees are anticipated to live and work on the Mixed-Use Site. Therefore, 4,505 employees are not anticipated to live on-site (5,882 total employees – 1,377 employees living on-site). In order to avoid double counting the parkland requirement for the alternative, the requirement has been calculated using the 4,505 employee figure.”

      1. Alan Miller

        So, they are literally saying every household will have 1.62 employees who will work on the site on average?  Is there a place on earth, sans a company town, that they can site as an example of this?

        OK, devloper’s representatives, your turn.  Tell me why RK is wrong.  If you don’t, I’m voting NO.

  4. Rik Keller

    This is a fundamentally ridiculous argument. Put in a retrograde auto-dependent, freeway-oriented peripheral office park because “we are…well past the point of playing it safe”?

  5. Alan Pryor

    In short, whatever local impact that we have from encroachment on farmland or in terms of traffic will potentially be dwarfed by the benefit of such new technology.

    What a hoot! I knew this argument was coming!…”We have to build the Aggie Research Center because it may save the world from all of the other overdevelopment that is going on. And, as Davisites, it is our obligation to save the world, right“?… So vote “Yes” on ARC!”

      1. Bill Marshall

        Wrong.  As parents it is our obligation to do as much as we can, and inculcate our children to do the same.  And teach them to inculcate their children to do the same… and so on, and so on…

        Laying it all on current parents sure sounds like a Jewish and/or Irish Catholic guilt trip kind of thing… I don’t buy it.

         

        1. Alan Miller

          Laying it all on current parents sure sounds like a Jewish and/or Irish Catholic guilt trip kind of thing… I don’t buy it.

          Those I generally parent to child, but I think I get your point.

      2. Alan Miller

        As a parent of people of future generations, it is our obligation to save the world.

        Three thoughts:

        • Billions of parents don’t see it that way.

        • With that attitude, you also take on the weight of the world (a heavy burden).

        • This largely explains the Davis Vanguard.

  6. Rik Keller

    UC Davis is pursuing its own “innovative center” at Aggie Square and has shown no interest in ARC.

    ARC is just a retrograde office park. This article is selling a pure distillation of snake oil.

     

  7. Alan Miller

    one of the big challenges faced by the world is finding a way to shift the way energy is used away from fossil fuels – which create heat and electricity and also release greenhouse gasses

    Yeah, we got to get rid of the nasty three:  heat, electricity and greenhouse gases.

    1. Bill Marshall

      Also, I wonder if anyone has estimated the metric tons of CO2 (a GHG) produced from human (and/or other animals) respiration… maybe a couple of dozen nukes could go a long way in solving the GHG thingy… we already have them, so no additional costs… or, would all the CO2 and other GHG emitted from elimination of animal life (decomposition, products of combustion) be worse?  You have to figure in zero emission from power plants, vehicles, etc.

      BTW, heat, in and of itself, does not generate GHG… the sources used to produce the deliver heat, do.

  8. Alan Miller

    I do believe we need to reduce our VMT and carbon footprint locally in order to have the moral authority to act globally,

    Davis (moral authority) to Xi Jinping:   “Shame!  Stop it!  Shame!  Stop burning coal!  (Much of it mined in the US and shipped to China to burn)  Shame!”

    I think some are fooling themselves into believing that acting locally is sufficient to start turning the ship around that is climate change.

    Um . . . I actually don’t think anyone is that stupid.

  9. Alan Miller

    but the real fight for food justice and against hunger and starvation were taking place globally, not locally.

    Thank you for saving the world from starvation, Monsanto!

  10. Alan Miller

    In short, we can fight locally to preserve our few acres of agricultural land.

    You mean the few acres left after we nuke Measure R and lay down for the new town of Woodlandwintersdixondavistonia?

  11. Ron Oertel

    As discussed in a recent article, I have significant doubts as to whether companies like Monsanto (which was since been absorbed by Bayer), as well as Schilling are out to “save the world”. (I’d suggest not rehashing those arguments, though.)

    Interestingly enough, David is essentially putting forth two opposing arguments, regarding “local contributions” toward global problems:

    1)  Local contributions to global warming from a 4,340-parking spot, freeway-oriented development “don’t matter”.

    2)  Local contributions to saving the world through technology (such as those pursued by Bayer and Schilling) “do matter”.

    Let’s just say that I “beg to differ”.

    (By the way – if anyone believes that ARC won’t ultimately cause further sprawl – beyond ARC itself, they’re kidding themselves.)

    1. David Greenwald

      Interestingly enough, David is essentially putting forth two opposing arguments, regarding “local contributions” toward global problems:
      1)  Local contributions to global warming from a 4,340-parking spot, freeway-oriented development “don’t matter”.
      2)  Local contributions to saving the world through technology (such as those pursued by Bayer and Schilling) “do matter”.

       

      This is largely accurate.  However, I would not consider them opposing and I would amend point to from “do matter” to “could matter.”

      The reason part one is correct is that Davis is a drop in the ocean

      The reason part two is not opposing the first point is that new technology that allows us to burn cleaner, find sustainable ways to produce food and could help us reduce emissions – that could happen – it doesn’t necessarily have to happen, it very well might not happen, but I believe we need to find ways to do exactly that and I see no contradiction between points one and two.

      1. Ron Oertel

        ” . . . that could happen – it doesn’t necessarily have to happen, it very well might not happen,”

        i just found that phrase kind of amusing. 😉

        As a side note (in reference to the earlier comments above), glad that your kid is o.k. – but unfortunate that he was immediately mugged upon venturing outside of Davis. (Of course, that kind of thing is now happening IN Davis, as well!)

    2. Bill Marshall

      And, if anyone thought Davis Manor (circa 1960’s) [Or, El Macero] wouldn’t ultimately cause further sprawl, beyond Davis Manor [or El Macero], they were kidding themselves.

      One person says logical growth, another says unreasonable sprawl.  Perhaps both are correct… depends how one defines terms with their ‘filters’.

      Are growth and/or sprawl inherently good, or inherently evil? Or just something else…

      1. Ron Oertel

        Those developments aren’t “job creators” – in excess of what the community needs.  As such, they do not “cause” additional sprawl in the same way as ARC would.

        The folks who claim to be worried about housing shortages/costs are often the SAME ones who are advocating jobs in excess of what the community needs!

        They’re also often the same ones who (periodically – depending upon the “situation”) claim to be concerned about local contributions to global warming.

        1. Alan Miller

          WM, your comments are bit non-sequitur.  I get your point, but what is the point of going back and discussing the past in today’s terms?  That’s just presentism.  And since you can only start from where you are . . . completely irrelevant.

          Actually . . . it could be relevant, if bulldozing existing housing to decrease the population of Davis where a viable option.

        2. Bill Marshall

          And, what we do now will be seen as ‘presentism’ 40-50 years hence… but likely, I’ll not be around to say “I told you so” then…

          You rightly judged my point… there is more than a tinge of hypocrisy in those “newbies”, coming from elsewhere in the last 35-40 years, who figure “I’ve got mine, no matter what” and would not give similar opportunities to others.  Some seem to see growth as a “taking” from what they already have, and they don’t like that much.

        3. Ron Oertel

           Some seem to see growth as a “taking” from what they already have, and they don’t like that much.

          Some make incorrect assumptions regarding the motives of others – even to the point of making assumptions that don’t correspond with logic.

          ARC, for example, could theoretically benefit “those who have theirs”, while further pushing out those who don’t.  And yet, “some” simply can’t (or refuse) to see this – regardless of how many times it’s pointed out.

          At a certain point, some (or at least “one”) realizes that “some” will continue sticking with their pre-conceived notions – regardless of logic.

      2. Ron Oertel

        Honestly, it’s sometimes difficult to determine what the “core values” of some commenters actually are.

        But yes – I just saw your 10:28 a.m., comment – and that is true. The question is, how much more sprawl should there be?

        It’s not as if there’s vast numbers of “potential” residents from outside the area, who are clamoring to live in Davis in particular. But, if you build it, they will come.

        1. Ron Oertel

          I don’t understand your question.  What “type” of growth are you referring to?

          By the way, the rate of California’s population growth is drastically declining, and that trend is expected to continue. What do you think of that?

        2. Mark West

          “By the way, the rate of California’s population growth is drastically declining”

          The rate may be slowing, but it has not turned into a decline. The population of the State will continue to grow, which means we still to need to produce housing to meet the needs of our residents. There is no projection that suggests that the population of California will decline in our lifetimes.

        3. Richard McCann

          “The question is, how much more sprawl should there be?”

          That’s the heart of the NIMBY argument–“I have mine, and I don’t want to share it with anyone else.” It’s simply selfishness that undermines working together to make our society better off overall. Tell us how your preferred option will help create jobs for generations after us, and help solve our societal and environmental ills. If you can’t describe those, then it’s simply selfishness that motivates your arguments. You can stand by that position, but don’t pretend any longer than you are looking out for anyone but yourself.

        4. Ron Oertel

          Gee, Richard.  Seems like I “struck a nerve”.  😉

          Again, I’d put the questions you ask back toward you, regarding pursuit of jobs beyond what a community needs – thereby “artificially” increasing demand for housing.

  12. Don Shor

    There is a strange, almost syllogistic attempt to equate ag science with Monsanto that has now been raised twice on this blog. It is weird that there is such a strain of anti-science in this town. But since it’s getting repeated now, it’s worth addressing.

    Here are some of the ag science and technology firms in the area, mostly pulled from a site that lists job openings.

    BASF Corporation (West Sac)

    Bayer (West Sac)

    BioConsortia *

    Corteva Agriscience

    Deerpoint Group Inc (Sac)

    Garton Tractor

    Hanumayamma Innovations and Technologies (Sac)

    HM. Clause *

    Intrexon *

    Land IQ LLC (Sac)

    Limagrain Europe

    NuFarm Americas

    Sakata Seed

    Seminis

    Syngenta

    Tauzer Apiaries

    Van Ruiten Bros

    Wilbur-Ellis (Dixon)

    Those with the * asterisk are located in Davis. All the others are located in Woodland, Dixon, or West Sac/Sac. This town would do well to encourage ag science industries to locate here.

    Ag science research focuses on:

    Increasing crop yields by increasing density, managing nitrogen, crop modifications to reduce pest losses, and much more.

    Improving crop yields in developing countries.

    Reducing inputs for crops:

                More targeted pesticides that can be used in smaller quantities.

                Selective herbicides that minimize non-target impacts and reduce ag impact on biodiversity.

                Reducing water use without loss of yield.

                Expanding crop production onto lower quality soils, areas with saltier water, etc.

                Better timing of fertilizers to reduce runoff and minimize ground water contamination.

                Mechanizing farm operations to reduce labor costs.

    Enhancing crop characteristics:

                Better shelf life.

                Earlier and later ripening.

                Pest resistance.

    These are just some areas of research and development both on campus and by private firms. The goals of increasing crop yields with less input are basic to reducing the climate change impact of agriculture. David is absolutely correct that research in ag science is integral to reducing world hunger and mitigating the impact of ag on climate change (and vice versa).

    The fact that these firms are locating nearby means that they see the benefits of proximity to UCD. The fact that they are going to Woodland reflects that city’s positive approach to economic development, with incentives and a much simpler planning and approval process for site developments. I recently spoke to someone whose firm located in Woodland, one that would be a natural fit for Davis. Why? The answer was basically, ‘they paid us’.

    1. Alan Miller

      There is a strange, almost syllogistic attempt to equate ag science with Monsanto that has now been raised twice on this blog.

      I resemble that remark.

      It is weird that there is such a strain of anti-science in this town.

      What’s even weirder is the strain of an almost religious-like orthodoxy of worship of science as some ultimate truth — um, in this town.

  13. Ron Glick

    Seminis was taken over by Monsanto and is now owed by Bayer who got it when they took over Monsanto.

    I’m not sure that the biggest improvements in the human condition from this area come from Schilling or Monsanto although I don’t dismiss the contributions these companies have made. The biggest contributions are probably from UC Davis scientists in plant breeding, plant pathology and mechanical engineering. The contributions these groups have made in everything from the tomato harvester to disease resistant rootstocks in walnuts to rust resistant wheat far outweigh the benefits of preservation of any commodity producing farmland that has been lost to development in Yolo County. What is truly sad is that the desire to protect farmland from development has resulted in UCD building on ag research fields that in my opinion has a far greater negative  overall environmental impact.

    1. Ron Oertel

      Even the “fans of Roundup” on here might note that Woodland is presumably pursuing “ag tech” companies – in regard to the “innovation center” that moved from Davis (and whose space there morphed into a pure housing development in the form of WDAAC).

      It’s not like they’re disappearing from the area.  Nor does it mean that UCD is suddenly going to start providing space for Monsanto/Bayer, or Schilling. (One would “hope”, at least.)

      I wonder if the Woodland housing/business park is having trouble attracting commercial tenants.  Haven’t heard much about it, lately. But whatever challenges they have would likely be faced by ARC, as well. (Except for the housing, of course.)

    2. Ron Oertel

      Not to mention West Sacramento and possibly Dixon, as well.

      (For all the Roundup fans who think a “local contribution” will save the world. The fact is that there’s plenty of space commercial space in the region to do so. And unlike Davis, those towns will “bend over backwards” to host them.)

      Some “civic-minded” individuals view the pursuit of Amazon distribution centers in much the same manner. And hey – we can probably find reasons that Amazon is “saving the world”, as well.

      1. Richard McCann

        So you are proposing that we instead push any environmental impacts to other communities instead, both from destruction of ag land (and those communities are in a better position to provide the agricultural services support than Davis, so this further undercuts the agricultural economies there), and increased commuting between UCD and those locations.

        If it’s so difficult to fill these developments, then you should have nothing to fear because there won’t be any increased traffic or housing demand without any new businesses. You’re arguing both sides here–either it will be too successful or too much of a flop. Pick which side you’re arguing from.

        1. Ron Oertel

          The motivation is housing – even in the other communities.  If ARC is somehow approved, we’ll see if the “subsidy” from housing is sufficient to subsidize a lack of commercial demand, when nearby communities are able to provide such space much less-expensively. 

          And unlike residential space, the “Davis market” for commercial space apparently cannot command a “premium”.

          No – I’m not “advocating” it (nor do you or I have any control over it), but it seems to be a fact.

        2. Richard McCann

          Ron O

          Your avoiding taking responsibility for your statements. You are ADVOCATING for these projects to be built in other communities by ADVOCATING for the rejection of a project here. You still haven’t answered why you fear this project if nothing is going to be built? The housing will not be coming without the commercial development, and if no businesses are interested and want to go elsewhere, nothing in the development will be built. (If you want to try to claim that residential will be built independently of the commercial, please provide evidence of that happening in this project, or even that it happened in multiple other projects elsewhere–no speculation allowed.)

        3. Ron Oertel

           You are ADVOCATING for these projects to be built in other communities by ADVOCATING for the rejection of a project here.

          I’m growing weary of responding to distortions like this. It’s not worth my time and effort to continue responding to these types of claims.

          Ultimately, these kinds of statements are a reflection of the Vanguard, itself.  And, the reason that many wisely refrain from commenting.

    3. Ron Oertel

      Don:  . I recently spoke to someone whose firm located in Woodland, one that would be a natural fit for Davis. Why? The answer was basically, ‘they paid us’.

      Just wondering what that means.

      1. Don Shor

        Don: . I recently spoke to someone whose firm located in Woodland, one that would be a natural fit for Davis. Why? The answer was basically, ‘they paid us’.

        Just wondering what that means.

        I don’t know their specifics, but Woodland does offer incentives to businesses to locate there, as do most other cities that have active economic development programs. http://www.cityofwoodland.org/403/Programs-Initiatives

        If there are any that Davis offers that anyone is aware of, feel free to email them to me at donshor@gmail.com.

        1. Ron Oertel

          Thanks – I’ll take a look at those. 

          The statement from the individual whom you spoke with seems to correspond quite well with my earlier statement regarding “bending over backwards”, in those communities.

  14. Ron Oertel

    Don:  It is weird that there is such a strain of anti-science in this town.

    There certainly was such a “strain” on this blog, in regard to air quality at Nishi.  It was a particularly virulent strain.

      1. Richard McCann

        There were no “science deniers” supporting Nishi. It was the failure of the Nishi opponents to provide real scientific basis for their claims. That is the scientific method–provide evidence supporting a hypothesis. The evidence provided showed that the air quality at Nishi was not substantially different than elsewhere in Davis. Go back and read the comment exchanges and the inability and/or unwillingness of the Nishi opponents to address the scientific concerns in their accusations.

        Their inability to provide sufficient evidence was why Colin and Roberta exited this forum and set up the Davisite to present an alternative, largely speculative, view of the world.

        1. Ron Oertel

          The evidence provided showed that the air quality at Nishi was not substantially different than elsewhere in Davis.

          Wrong, according to the preliminary results as I recall.

          Go back and read the comment exchanges and the inability and/or unwillingness of the Nishi opponents to address the scientific concerns in their accusations.

          I am not attempting to “defend” or even analyze the preliminary (scientific) conclusions one way or another.  But what occurred on here was not science.

           

        2. Craig Ross

          “ Wrong, according to the preliminary results as I recall.”

          The studies they did, did not show anything like what Cahill was claiming.  He then demanded money to do a further study and postpone the project by another two years, the city and developer declined.

        3. Richard McCann

          You recall incorrectly. Again, go back and reread the extensive discussions on this forum.  You can start here with my comments that point out critical flaws in Cahill’s study: https://www.davisvanguard.org/2017/10/monday-morning-thoughts-changes-trains-affect-nishi-assessment/. There are others in other articles as well. There’s also evidence in the other articles that Cahill misrepresented the relative risk of the site, e.g., that diesel PM emissions in fact differed little from the baseline background for Davis in general.

        4. Ron Oertel

          You’re (once again) referring to an article written by a political author, who is not conducting vetted science.  He is focusing exclusively on factors which support his advocacy, and which may or may not even be relevant.

          The more you comment regarding this issue, the more you’re demonstrating a lack of forthrightness regarding what constitutes a scientific process.

        5. Alan Miller

          Since the “Cleaner Trains Support Nishi” article was dug up, I’ll repost my brilliant comment from that day, lo so long ago.  While this is a serious comment, you might also go back and check out all my brilliant sarcastic witticisms, archived on the Wayback Machine for all time.

          —————————————

          Alan Miller October 31, 2017 at 4:16 pmIronically, Monday was the first day the Charger Locomotives operated on the lead on the Capitol Corridor.

          While the new locomotives are much cleaner, that will be it for improvements for a long, long time.  The freight locomotives from Union Pacific are not part of this initiative.  While there are fewer freight trains through Davis, they are much heavier, and freight trains have from one to nine units per train, average is about four locomotives, while passenger trains have one for local and two for interstate services.  Freight locomotives are a mix of the entire UPRR fleet, and many are quite old.

          While Union Pacific has some lower-tier exhaust cleanup systems, I don’t believe they run Tier IV’s.  Many of the locomotives are from railroads they merged with, and many locomotives pre-date modern exhaust systems.  Union Pacific does not keep road locomotives with certain exhaust systems in particular geographic areas.  The locomotives can run on a train for thousands of miles, and changing out locomotives to enter a specific area is quite costly and time consuming.  The railroad is federally regulated and not bound by local rules.  Some areas have tried to have UPRR run only certain locomotives, to no avail.

          Over time, the fleet will be replaced with newer locomotives with newer systems.  The change to a fleet with all Tier IV or better locomotives is likely to be several decades from now.  The change will be very slow and very gradual.

          As for diesel rail locomotives being “six times worse” than trucks, in what context?  Is that per unit, per horsepower, moving the same amount of freight, taking into account cleaner locomotives on this corridor, number of locomotives, atmospheric conditions — it just doesn’t mean much on its own.

          I’m glad there is less pollution coming from the railroad with the introduction of the Chargers, especially as I live 100′ from the mainline and my home is blanketed with diesel exhaust from about sixty trains per day.  But the truth is that the air pollution from hauling freight so overwhelms the passenger train pollution that the overall decrease is rather minimal.

          The State Rail Plan is a long-term vision that is not fully funded.  It gives direction, but nothing in it should be taken as near-term or a certainty.  The Capitol Corridor is maxed-out on the number of trains it can run, and it will be years before any new cars are available for service.  In other words, expect little change beyond some more Charger locomotives in the near-term.

          The Vision Plan for the Capitol Corridor is a long-term plan to electrify the corridor and moving the freight to an old trolley right-of-way that exists in the open lands south and east of Davis.  This is a fantastic vision, but it is unfunded, will cost billions of dollars, requires the cooperation of UPRR, and is decades in the future even if funding is found.

          The point is, very little is changing regarding the railroad and the pollutant output for many, many years to come.   So the idea this will strengthen the argument for Nishi is not true — this is a weak argument that should not be further pursued.

          Having said that, I fully support the Nishi project and find no validity in the air pollution argument.

        6. Richard McCann

          “You’re (once again) referring to an article written by a political author, who is not conducting vetted science. He is focusing exclusively on factors which support his advocacy, and which may or may not even be relevant.”

          What article are you referring to? If it’s my comment, I am professionally qualified to review statistical analyses related to environmental factors–I’ve testified before the California Air Resources Board. I was in fact pointing out that Cahill’s analysis did NOT support the case that he was trying to make. If the City hired someone to examine Cahill’s work, it could have been me, or someone with my training.

          “You are also bordering on personal attacks.”

          Disagreeing with your points is not a personal attack. However, when you fail to concede a clear point, it does indicate that you are unwilling to examine your own personal beliefs that are unsupported by the facts. Your total unwillingness to back off from any of your assertions when even shown to be false are what is drawing others’ ire.

  15. Ron Glick

    “There certainly was such a “strain” on this blog, in regard to air quality at Nishi.  It was a particularly virulent strain.”

    Virulent? Now that is laughable. Of course you can believe what you want and call it science but that doesn’t make it science. My favorite moment of the entire Nishi campaign was when Mike Harrington was at public comment and challenged the CC about the air quality with “Are you going to disclose the air quality to the parents of the students from Japan, North Korea, South Korea and China?”

    Actually said North Korea.

    I walked up to the Mike next and quipped “I’ll take the air quality at Nishi over the air quality in China any day.”

    Of course the first people I noticed wearing masks when Paradise burned and local air conditions became what might be recognized as virulent, although  the air quality people used something like “extremely unhealthy,” were Asian. These are people who know bad air quality when they see it.

    1. Ron Oertel

      I wasn’t referring to “Mike Harrington”, regarding scientific studies of air quality.

      I was referring to what occurred on this blog, in response to the actual studies. Which as I recall, were not allowed to fully proceed – despite a science-based recommendation to do so.

      Political blogs are generally not an unbiased source to discuss scientific findings. (And, that’s true regarding studies of chemicals used in agriculture, as well.)

      1. Don Shor

        I was referring to what occurred on this blog, in response to the actual studies. Which as I recall, were not allowed to fully proceed – despite a science-based recommendation to do so.

        Political blogs are generally not an unbiased source to discuss scientific findings. (And, that’s true regarding studies of chemicals used in agriculture, as well.)

        Several of us have specific academic and professional training in both of the areas you have cited and which we discussed. Your contention that it was just laymen discussing them here and elsewhere is not accurate.

        1. Ron Oertel

          It was a political process on here (and elsewhere, to some degree) – not a scientific one.

          There was one UCD scientist who actually specialized in the field, who (for the most part) did not participate on this blog.  Can’t say that I blame him, for avoiding the politics.

          Nevertheless, I vaguely recall some semi-personal attacks made against that “non-participant”.

        2. Ron Oertel

          Well, that’a convincing science-based argument.  😉

          Can you imagine what kind of personal attacks (and full-time “job” that it would become to respond and cut through the “noise” from hostile laymen), if that scientist actually participated on this blog? With each and every informal comment “dissected”, for the purpose of finding fault?

          There’s a reason that political blogs aren’t a viable source for scientific research and analysis. (And at that time, the Vanguard was even more “wide-open” for attacks from anonymous commenters.)

          1. Don Shor

            Your statement is false. There were expert witnesses with professional and academic credentials on both sides of the issue. It was discussed at length here on the Vanguard, and elsewhere. You agreed with one expert, not the others. I suggest you stop making false assertions about that debate. Likewise, there are plenty of us with training and education about agricultural chemicals. We can make factual statements about them that are evidence-based. Analysis and opinions can be weighed against that evidence. If you have questions about the credentials of any who make assertions, ask about that when the subject comes up. But a broad assertion that participants on the Vanguard aren’t qualified on these topics is simply false .
            This is way off topic now.

        3. Ron Oertel

          Don:  You’re the one who stated (in your earlier comment, above) that some are “anti-science” – and then took issue with the “response” to that comment.

          “Science” is not what occurs on this blog. (Other than the “political” variety.)

          I’d suggest leaving it at that.

        4. Craig Ross

          “ There was one UCD scientist who actually specialized in the field, who (for the most part) did not participate on this blog.  Can’t say that I blame him, for avoiding the politics.”

          And he was actually an outlier within his own field.  He was not subjected to personal attacks – people simply disagreed with him and stated why.

        5. Craig Ross

          I would also point out Ron that the level of discourse here – while at times testy – is actually quite a bit more civil than most places on the internet and more importantly at times very high level.  You like to put down the site, but I would argue that the level of discourse here is far higher than you get in most places.  If you disagree, read the Sac Bee comment section some time.

        6. Ron Oertel

          And he was actually an outlier within his own field.  

          He was not an “outlier” – he was the only one qualified to discuss his specific area of expertise.  No one in that specific field disputed what he found, based upon preliminary results.  He recommended further study, as I recall.  (Which was summarily refused.)

          Others did not have that type of knowledge.

          The point being that what occurred on here was not in any way a scientific process.  If anyone claims that, they’re simply undermining their own credibility.

          He was not subjected to personal attacks – people simply disagreed with him and stated why.

          Pretty sure that I recall some (limited) personal attacks – even though that scientist avoided direct participation on here.

        7. Ron Oertel

          In fact, no one on this blog was even qualified to conduct such studies. And yet, he was not part of the political process on this blog, which subsequently occurred.

          Talk about being “anti-science”. (Or, not so much as “anti-science”, but twisting it into a form which no longer had any resembalance to science.)

        8. Ron Oertel

          That’s just a flat-out false statement.

          Now, if you want to claim that others might legitimately weigh in on the health risks, that’s a different matter.  But, I recall that the studies were not allowed to proceed as recommended.

           

        9. Richard McCann

          Ron O

          This is very concerning that you cannot recognize how scientific findings are developed, tested and supported. That you were unable to acknowledge the validity of the criticisms. Thomas Cahill’s work clearly came up short, and I repeatedly pointed out his biases (including financial) in this work. I have reviewed other air quality studies (and work I did about a decade ago indirectly led to the firing of a CARB researcher for misconstruing particulate matter health impact studies.) Just because a researcher is a UCD professor does not make them a high priest of science who’s work is unassailable. That you are so blinded by your own biases that you cannot question a badly done and misinterpreted scientific study is too bad.

        10. Craig Ross

          Cahill was also dishonest.  He agreed to do the original study with a sampling that was off-sight, and then when it didn’t get the result he hoped for, he moved the goalposts.  That is why he wasn’t allowed to have further studies – no one trusted him.

        11. Ron Oertel

          Wow – you can see the “political spin” still in action on here, after all this time.

          Including a resurfacing of direct personal attacks against a scientist who didn’t even directly participate in the political process on this blog.

        12. Alan Miller

          There were expert witnesses with professional and academic credentials on both sides of the issue.

          If “science” is the absolute dogma so many in Davis see it as, how could there be “experts” on “both sides”?

          Hmmmmmmmmm . . .

        13. Ron Oertel

          Alan M.  I’m not sure, but I’m reasonably certain that the debate would primarily occur in academic circles/processes, rather than political ones.

          (Not that the scientific venue is entirely “pure”, either.)

          For what it’s worth, I never had a strong opinion regarding “air quality” at Nishi, mostly because I didn’t know if it could be adequately/reasonably mitigated.  Ultimately, if we can send people into outer space, I figure that we ought to be able to house them adjacent to a freeway – with sufficient mitigation.

          (That is, as long as they don’t venture outside the “spaceship” for extended periods of time without protection.)  😉

        14. Alan Miller

          He was not subjected to personal attacks – people simply disagreed with him and stated why.

          I disagree.  I personally attacked him.  I mean, I wasn’t a d*ck about it, but I called him a scientist using his title as a scientist to advance his political agenda.  That’s a personal attack in my book, and I stick by it.  And don’t get on my case, dear audience, CR started it, and I said this when he was still on our side of the great divide.

          I would also point out Ron that the level of discourse here – while at times testy – is actually quite a bit more civil than most places on the internet and more importantly at times very high level.  You like to put down the site, but I would argue that the level of discourse here is far higher than you get in most places.

          The Davis Vanguard itself would seem to disagree with you, given three major policy changes over the past few years that were allegedly designed to raise the level of discourse since so many people allegedly did not feel comfortable posting here.  And I allege it hasn’t helped.

          Cahill was also dishonest.  He agreed to do the original study with a sampling that was off-sight, and then when it didn’t get the result he hoped for, he moved the goalposts.  That is why he wasn’t allowed to have further studies – no one trusted him.

          Wait the what . . . ?  You back several posts “He was not subjected to personal attacks” (when he was alive), and then a few posts later say “Cahill was . . . dishonest”, a personal attack on him, now that’s he’s passed away?  I don’t think that passes the smell test, even using the standards of a Democratic Presidential Primary Debate.

  16. Rik Keller

    I guess when all other arguments fail, the default fallback position is “well, this sh*tty suburban office park is going to be built somewhere, so we might as well build it here.”

        1. Ron Oertel

          I’m “concerned” that you’re using the European format, regarding dates.  (Which actually makes more sense.)

          Next thing you know, you’ll start using the metric system (which was supposed to be adopted years ago, from what I recall).

          It’s a “slippery slope”, from there. (To what, I’m not sure.)

          🙂

        2. Alan Miller

          I’m “concerned” that you’re using the European format, regarding dates.

          I started doing that for audio recordings, so they would ‘sort by date’ properly in computer lists, and extrapolated to the rest of my life.  It does make more sense, and it’s in order.

          Next thing you know, you’ll start using the metric system

          I have, so that people would stop calling me NIMBY.  Now they call me NIMBM.

  17. Richard McCann

    No one is arguing for “another sh*tty” office park here. In fact, I’m arguing the exact opposite–Davis is able to extract much better conditions from its developers than other communities. And many of the benefits of those conditions accrue to the larger region. Davis just adopted new building standards for commercial and residential buildings that far surpass the standards for most of the other communities around here. We are considering more extensive sustainability plans for both downtown and new developments. That’s why we should invite these types of developments here where we can exercise more control over the larger regional impacts.

    1. Ron Oertel

      That’s why we should invite these types of developments here where we can exercise more control over the larger regional impacts.

      Yeah, those 4,340 parking spaces adjacent to a major freeway sound very “Davis-like”.

      1. Richard McCann

        vs. 8,000 to 10,000 spaces in another community, and with installed or prewired for EV charging, yes, it’s very Davis like. You’re not looking at the relative effects, and demanding perfection.

        1. Ron Oertel

          There’s no evidence of that.

          Other communities are (already) pursuing their own developments – including one that “moved” from Davis.  (With the initial site in Davis “morphing” into housing in the form of WDAAC.)

          There’s no evidence that ARC would also “shift” elsewhere. The motivation (from the developer’s point of view) appears to be the profit from housing.

           

           

        2. Rik Keller

          McCann: in order to be competitive in the marketplace, the project will require the same about of parking in a Davis as in other areas, perhaps more. Other office/business park areas such as in Rancho Cordova are located on immediately adjacent to light rail and are much more conveniently located to population centers.

          It will be an auto-dependent development requiring vast amounts of parking and generating a huge amount of travel emissions   No amount of fantasizing about some magic Davis  “mitigation” potion changes those facts.

           

           

        3. Ron Oertel

          Other office/business park areas such as in Rancho Cordova are located on immediately adjacent to light rail and are much more conveniently located to population centers.

          That’s true, and is a point I hadn’t thought of, previously.

          In addition (unlike the situation in Rancho Cordova), I-80 (as it goes through Davis) is actually a combination of Highway 50 and I-80 traffic.  (Limited to three lanes in each direction!)

          Although this is certainly “more information” than anyone needs to know, I’ll never forget the time I was in stopped traffic on the causeway, and had to pee.  I briefly considered how far of a “drop” it was to the flood zone/wildlife area, below.  Frankly, I was angry at how this perennial traffic jam was allowed to develop (and not the first time).

           

        4. Craig Ross

          But they don’t have UC Davis across town from them.  Davis has an opportunity to do some amazing things, fortunately most people are more open minded about it.

        5. Ron Oertel

          Depends upon factors such as price, availability of housing and parking, how much UCD actually builds, and whether or not they’re able to successfully continue pursuing new students.

          It is (and has been for years), a very low vacancy rate as far students are concerned. I strongly suspect that some of them would look at ARC housing, as well.

          Perhaps the students with cars will end up at places like ARC – in addition to the mini-dorms that they’ll remain in.

        6. Rik Keller

          Alan M.: don’t worry, yiu haven’t missed anything. The developer hasn’t “mitigated” anything. The current ARC proposal doesn’t have any further plans of alternative transportation modes than the MRIC did (essentially nothing). They are saying that they’ll need less parking now but have no plans  to justify that other than wishful thinking.

    2. Rik Keller

      McCann: even the MRIC EIR states that 92% of the traffic to/from the site is going to be by car, and more than 70% of all employees will be commuting by car from out of town. It’s just a retrograde, auto-dependent, freeway-oriented standard office park that now has a bunch of housing tacked on because the commercial/industrial development isn’t financially viable.

      In the current proposal, the developer is trying to get away with a provision of parkland at less than 1/3 of City-required development standards. They are trying to get away with minimal affordable housing.

       

      From a regional perspective, it’s a terrible place to put this type of development: the jobs-housing balance is already way off, there is already a net inflow if commuters, and commute times ante the longest in the region.

      1. Craig Ross

        Why wouldn’t the majority of the traffic be by car?  The EIR is going to be conservative in such estimates.  It’s then the job of the developer to mitigate for it.

  18. Ron Glick

    “It’s just a retrograde, auto-dependent, freeway-oriented standard office park that now has a bunch of housing tacked on because the commercial/industrial development isn’t financially viable.”

    Sadly, state of the art, not retrograde. If they do plan it for EV’s and mass transit it would be slightly forward thinking.

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