This week we had a chance to look at various positions taken by the three candidates for Yolo County Board of Supervisors on a variety of issues, many of them relating to the environment. As supervisors, of course, they won’t necessarily play a huge role in some of the land use issues, but it does give us a sense on where they are coming from.
For instance, other than perhaps negotiating a tax share agreement, the Board of Supervisors will not play much of a role in the Aggie Research Campus. However, it does give the public a sense for where they are coming down on key land use issues.
The most favorable to the project was probably Jim Provenza, who could not take a position. He noted that “issues related to taxes, annexation, and mitigation will come before the Board of Supervisors if the project is approved by the city council and the voters. It is important that I consider information from all sides before deciding.”
He added, “While I support economic development, I have concerns about the project and have raised these concerns to the developer and the city.”
In his answer he laid out concerns about farmland: the benefits of the project should outweigh the loss of farmland; mitigation should be real and require permanent protection of other farmland of equal or better quality in the county; and the land designated for permanent protection must be actually threatened with development. Also he mentioned traffic, housing, and tax sharing.
David Abramson expressed concerns about the environment but did not take an overt position on the project, writing, “Let’s look at all of the climate and community impacts. We are at a moment where the City of Davis has declared a climate emergency, and recognizes the need to offer a just transition towards a green economy. How does new development either help or hinder that goal?”
He argued: “I think any project of this size should be carbon-neutral and include the requisite affordable housing units built. We need to create supportive pathways for carbon-neutral, transit-oriented, and equitable development.”
Finally, Linda Deos was decidedly against the project.
“I don’t support ARC at this time,” she writes. “I need to see more traffic studies and less parking spaces. I also don’t want the developers to get credit for open space by using City-owned land. My other concern is the type of housing that will be built. What the County needs built are smaller (affordable by design) multi-family units; not more single-family homes.”
I don’t read that quite as a definitive no from Ms. Deos, but it is close.
On Measure R itself, all three candidates were supportive of Measure J/R.
Jim Provenza specified: “I support Measure J/R in its current form. County land on the periphery of Davis is mostly farmland. A decision to develop it for other purposes should not be made lightly. Any loss must be fully mitigated. I trust the voters to decide.”
Again, except as voters, they will not play any sort of role on Measure R’s renewal.
Where they will play a larger role is on agricultural land preservation.
David Abramson noted, “Yolo County is unique in that sprawl is very much limited and development of cities are directed to infill within the cities. I am very grateful that Yolo County has protected farmland and development of natural lands, and I will continue to fight for open space preservation and infill development.”
Jim Provenza said he was responsible for Yolo County’s three to one mitigation for the loss of farmland, which he called “one of the toughest in the state.”
He added, “Unlike the City of Davis ordinance, it does not permit stacking of agricultural and habitat easements. Enforcement of this ordinance will help us to protect farmland in the future.”
Linda Deos in part responded, “I believe it is critical that we ensure that rural counties like Yolo that have committed to preserving farmland and avoiding sprawl, are fairly compensated by the state.”
It is interesting – a few years ago the big issue facing the county was whether there would be county-supported housing development. In 2007 especially the county was proposing creating study areas on the border of the city of Davis, but that generated huge pushback and ultimately the county backed down and the issue has largely disappeared.
For the most part, on land use issues, there do not seem to be huge differences between the candidates.
—David M. Greenwald reporting