Freedom to Park Initiative Fails to Qualify

An initiative led by Dan Urazandi of Bizarro World that would have prohibited paid parking and mandated an increase of 120 auto spaces failed to qualify for the ballot by the December 27 deadline.

In an email dated December 27 from Mr. Urazandi to City Clerk Zoe Mirabile, he wrote: “There is no reason to meet today at the police department. The supposed professional we contracted with did not deliver signatures, thus we will not have a qualifying amount.”

The initiative drive was launched with Title and Summary on July 1, 2019 and the 180th day was December 27, 2019.  Under California Elections Code, “Signatures upon petitions and sections of petitions shall be secured, and the petition, together with all sections of the petition, shall be filed within 180 days from the date of receipt of the title and summary.”

The next opportunity to put such a measure on the ballot would not be until 2022 now.

Diane Swann of Bike Davis noted that the initiative “was at odds with the Davis Downtown Specific Plan, which has been over two years in the making and has benefited from broad public input. The consequences of this rigid and extreme FTP Initiative would have had profound negative effects on our downtown.”

She said, “By favoring the automobile, the Initiative was a step backward in flexible and equitable transportation at a time when forward progress–including alternatives to the automobile–is badly needed.

“The Initiative would have tied the City Council’s hands, by requiring another vote of the electorate to even amend it. Anyone tempted to sign a petition they do not favor ‘just to put it on the ballot,’ would be better off not pushing it forward.”

Finally: “UCD students living on campus and our school-age children are not eligible to vote in City elections. These people are most likely to ride a bike or walk and the FTP Initiative would have been to their detriment.”

The petition filed in July was a response to the council’s compromise vote which declined to put paid parking on surface streets but expanded it for surface lots.

The petition “[s]ets a baseline of 1888 auto parking spaces and 1888 bicycle parking spaces in downtown, an increase of around 120 auto and 240 bike spaces. It bans paid parking throughout Davis…”

They reason: “We started with the normal bureaucratic process. We talked with council and city staff, attended committees and made our argument clear. In return we were ignored and dismissed, so we have turned to the democratic process to go around the blockage of city hall.”

They argue: “Because the city has so grossly mismanaged the parking situation. While everyone was grousing about the lack of parking downtown, the city removed over 120 spaces. This can happen because the city never set a baseline for parking. Then after they caused the parking shortage they wanted to come in and ‘fix’ it by adding parking meters without even considering putting those 120 spaces back.”

Where would the added spaces go?

“The initiative doesn’t tell the city where exactly to put them, just that they need to add 120 vehicle spaces and 240 bike spaces downtown. The vehicle number was chosen to match how many spaces they have removed to put in bulb-outs, bike parking in the street, expand restaurant seating, repave 3rd St, etc. The bike number was chosen to make the amount of bicycle parking equivalent to the amount of vehicle parking.”

Had the initiative qualified, the city would have engaged in legal analysis.  There are two portions of this that may have been legally problematic.  The first would have been the cost without providing a funding mechanism.  But the more serious would have been removing bulb-outs, which include ADA-compliant ramps.

The Vanguard confirmed that under ADA law, in general, new regulations only kick in when upgrades or repairs are implemented.  But once in place, current ADA laws apply and therefore, while the city had yet to analyze it legally, there is a good chance that this initiative would have violated the law.

Mr. Urazandi did not respond to Vanguard questions and a request for comment.  City Manager Mike Webb and several councilmembers also declined further comment.

—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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24 Comments

    1. Tia Will

      To Jim’s comment, I would add my own dissatisfaction with the deceptive nature of the campaign. As I pointed out to one of the advocates, there is nothing “free” about free parking as the construction and maintenance of each parking space is costly. To this fact, I received no response at all.

      1. Ron Glick

        Tia, the parking spaces currently in existence are already constructed so all there is maintenance. Parking meter money was not going to be enough to fund new parking spaces.

      2. Bill Marshall

        Parking fees (in Davis) are barely enough to make up for the costs of metering, and enforcement.  They are fees, not taxes.  No real $$$ for add’l infrastructure.

  1. Todd Edelman

    “… The supposed professional we contracted with did not deliver signatures, thus we will not have a qualifying amount.”

    This means that they are placing blame on some formal issue or flakiness of another party? Surely they know (approximately) how many signatures they collected?

    1. Alan Miller

      “There is no reason to meet today at the police department. The supposed professional we contracted with did not deliver signatures, thus we will not have a qualifying amount.”

      Noticed the same thing as TE.  They blamed someone else in the end for the fact that few wanted to sign the petition.  Truly hilarious, mostly that they can’t see how that makes them look.

  2. Alan Miller

    Having said that, they do have points that should be addressed, and the City has done a terrible job of addressing parking-related traffic, implementing policies that do the opposite of what needs doing.   I have mixed thoughts about paid parking – it has issues but can be a management tool if implemented correctly – something I doubt will actually happen in Davis given the track record of the city on parking policy.

    Bulb Outs – despite someone here saying this isn’t true, bulb-outs were the implementing factor in the ‘Davis Dowtown intersection two-step’ where cars take off, can legally proceed through the intersection, a pedestrian steps into the intersection without looking, the car has to stop in the middle of the intersection, and all directions are now fouled and stopped.  They also squeeze out bikes at some especially-poorly-designed intersections.

    Bike Parking – the street bike parking is a hazard.  At first they had a flimsy reflective bollard at the end of the rows, but these came out years ago.  If anyone plows into one of the BLACK painted, low, mounted-to-the-street, metal bike parking stands, the city is monetarily accountable.  These should be removed, as obviously city crews can’t even be bothered to track and replace the reflective bollards.  I plowed into a low bike rack in a dark parking lot at high speed on my bike as a child, and I was heavily damaged.

    Street paving – we all know, no matter how we get around.  No need to explain.

    Restaurant spaces in former parking spaces – was confirmed a few favored businesses didn’t pay even a tiny fraction of the full cost of replacing the parking spaces with new ones, even if there were a place to do such a thing.  This should never be done again.

    The poor attitude of the initiative drivers and extreme nature of the solution doomed the initiative to failure – but they did have some points.  Unfortunately, between the bad taste left in everyone’s mouth and the city’s proven ability to only solve downtown parking by making it worse, things will pretty much remain as they are.

    Good morning People of Davis!   😐

     

  3. Tia Will

    To Jim’s comment, I would add my own dissatisfaction with the deceptive nature of the campaign. As I pointed out to one of the advocates, there is nothing “free” about free parking as the construction and maintenance of each parking space is costly. To this fact, I received no response at all.

    1. Don Shor

      Probably worth pointing out here that downtown merchants and/or property owners paid fees for the construction of the city parking lots. I have the information somewhere and will try to post it later.

      1. Mark West

        Yes, the property owners agreed to the assessments several years (decades) ago and have long since passed those costs on to their tenants and customers. I am unaware of any on-going special assessment to pay for the maintenance of the lots but will be happy to be corrected if one exists.

        1. Don Shor

          the property owners agreed to the assessments several years (decades) ago and have long since passed those costs on to their tenants and customers.

          Or paid themselves a little less at the time, since sometimes these things come out of the bottom line. Yes, I believe the assessments paid for the surface lots and one of the parking structures from about 1960 through about 1990.

        2. Bill Marshall

          If someone was really interested, the facts are in the records of the Finance Department (budgets), Comm Dev, and PW… subject to ‘record retention’ limits.

  4. Ron Oertel

    There is no evidence (as in “NONE”) that bicycle use (to/from downtown) will increase as a mode of transportation as a result of restricting or eliminating parking downtown.

    Downtown is on-track to become a new home for those who can afford it – and will only remain accessible for those living in it, or are within walking distance (e.g., neighborhoods in the immediate vicinity).  Which probably suits some people “just fine”. Some might even describe that (support for development, in this case) as a form of “NIMBYISM” – discouraging the “rif-raf” from accessing downtown, and “keeping it for themselves”.

    1. David Greenwald

      “There is no evidence (as in “NONE”) that bicycle use (to/from downtown) will increase as a mode of transportation as a result of restricting or eliminating parking downtown.”

      Is there any evidence that the removal of parking spaces was the result of attempting to increase bicycle use?

      1. Ron Oertel

        Not what I said.

        The “bigger issue” here is the residentialization that’s proposed, which will further impact the availability of parking, and which will ensure that downtown will become an enclave of those who can afford it (and/or, are close enough to walk to it).

        The effort to “residentialize” is related to (and intertwined with) the effort to restrict parking.

        What part do you “disagree” with? Are you suggesting that those new residences will be “affordable”?

      2. Ron Oertel

        The “gentrification” effort (and subsequent lack of parking) will no doubt impact some businesses, as well – perhaps even threatening their survival.

  5. Jim Frame

    Bulb Outs – despite someone here saying this isn’t true, bulb-outs were the implementing factor in the ‘Davis Dowtown intersection two-step’ where cars take off, can legally proceed through the intersection, a pedestrian steps into the intersection without looking, the car has to stop in the middle of the intersection, and all directions are now fouled and stopped.

    We have very different experiences in this regard.  I transit those intersections as a pedestrian and as the driver of a large-ish vehicle (Toyota Tundra) pretty much daily, and never have the problems you do.  In my opinion they are a wonderful addition to the downtown.

    1. Darell Dickey

      Same experience here except that I don’t drive a car in town much. I do study what happens though. Part of the confusion is that we do have some TERRIBLE bulbs in other parts of town. But most of the downtown ones were done correctly and do not impinge on the bike lane, etc. I’m amazed to find how many people think that all bulbs are bad, only to then actually look at the good ones downtown and reconsider the stance.

      There’s also the issue of people heading out into the street when there is already a car in the intersection… or a car starting across when it is obvious that a pedestrian is stepping out. None of this is due to the bulbs. The bulbs make the crossings shorter, and keep parked cars from impinging on the crossings. And that’s as it should be, IMO. It is much more comfortable to cross the street downtown with the bulbs in place.

  6. Bill Marshall

    Emptyprize article gives a double clue… about the petitioners, and the firm they “hired”…’Long Shot Political Consulting’… what were the petitioners thinking!?!?

    Methinks they deserved to be duped.

    Yet the petitioners say they have 90%backing of the citizens… yeah, right… that’s why they fell short in getting it on the ballot…

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