Guest Commentary: Sierra Club Endorses Measure D

by Alan Pryor

Citing grounds of “preservation of agricultural lands and open space, in-fill development and densification, and citizen oversight of sound land-use planning “, the Sierra Club announces its endorsement and support of Measure D in Davis CA on the November 2020 municipal ballot.

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Measure D is a ballot measure renewal of an existing City of Davis ordinance, “The Citizens’ Right to Vote on Future Use of Open Space and Agricultural Lands”, which gives the citizens the right to make the final decision on projects proposing to develop open space or agricultural lands within or adjacent to the City. It was originally approved by the voters in 2000 as Measure J and overwhelmingly renewed as Measure R in 2010.

The Sierra Club has long-standing official policies designed to minimize urban sprawl onto farmland, conserving habitat and natural areas, and maximizing intensive infill development. The Sierra Club opposes sprawl as a pattern of increasingly inefficient and wasteful land use with devastating environmental and social outcomes.

The Sierra Club is strongly supportive of efforts to provide sustainable and affordable work-force and family housing and to stimulate local economic development”, said Alan Pryor, chair of the local Sierra Club Yolano Group. “However, we also believe this is most advantageously accomplished by allowing informed community input and final say on important decisions regarding peripheral growth”, added Mr. Pryor. “This measure provides a healthy sanity check on proposed development projects involving farm land or open space.”

The endorsement and support for this ballot measure follows an extensive evaluation process by the local Sierra Club Yolano Group, the Sierra Club Mother Lode Chapter Political and Executive Committees, and the Sierra Club California Local Measure Review Committee.

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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22 Comments

  1. Ron Glick

    When has the local Sierra club ever endorsed a Measure J/R project?

    What is the average age of the local Sierra Club board?   60? 70?

    What percentage of the local Sierra Club board are homeowners? 100%?

    What percentage of the local board members have zero net energy homes? Solar Panels? Electric Cars?

    1. Matt Williams

      Ron G, your comment shows a mastery of the ad hominem principle.  I believe your Measure D commentary would have a whole lot more impact if it stuck to addressing the message rather than attacking the messenger(s).

      Further, let’s assume the answers to your questions are (1) 2009 (2) 60 (3) for discussion purposes let’s say 100%, but it may be lower (4) for discussion purposes let’s say 50%, but it may be either higher or lower.      What is the next step of your Measure D argument now that you have answers to your questions?

      For the record, I am not a member of the Board of either the Sierra Club or the local chapter of the Sierra Club.

    2. Alan Pryor

      Mr. Glick – Perhaps if your efforts were constructively directed to something other than just whining about things on the Vanguard (or occasionally before Council), you would have more of an impact and feel less frustrated and inclined to take cheap potshots.

      For instance, if this is really a issue of major importance to you, why did you or your cohorts not bother to even write a ballot statement opposing Measure D? Or why did you not form a political committee to formally oppose Measure D?

      Instead you simply sit on the sidelines and take pot shots at other advocates who are actually in the game and actively advocating for their positions. That’s called arm chair quarterbacking and is lazy person’s out.

      If you really want to change things, simply get involved and perhaps then you’ll find your positons are taken more seriously.

      1. Ron Glick

        More advice from the opposition. I can live without it. There is little point maybe you didn’t notice we are in a pandemic. Why is it incumbent on me to do any of those things? You may not take me seriously but hey that’s how I feel about the local Sierra Club too so what goes around comes around. After all the Sierra Club was once a great environmental brand fighting to save the redwoods and the wilderness but when did the local chapter do anything besides try to keep others from having homes. People who have homes who couldn’t care less about the living conditions of others.

  2. Ron Glick

    “Ron G, your comment shows a mastery of the ad hominem principle.  I believe your Measure D commentary would have a whole lot more impact if it stuck to addressing the message rather than attacking the messenger(s).”

    Sort of a passive aggressive personal attack Matt.

    I always find it laughable when people give political opponents on an issue advice.

    The Sierra Club has endorsed  yes in 1 of 6 J/R votes. That is 16%. So generally its fair to say they are anti-development. How do you know the average age Matt? As a professional numbers guy you know better than to make it up. I actually suspect its older. Why is this relevant? Because you have a generational divide of  Boomers who have homes, as you recognize by pegging the home ownership rate at 100%, although again, I doubt you know for sure, against the Millenials and other generations that follow them.

    “(4) for discussion purposes let’s say 50%, but it may be either higher or lower.      What is the next step of your Measure D argument now that you have answers to your questions?”

    A little Don Rumsfeld there Matt. Remember when he claimed about fictitious weapons of mass destruction “We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.”

    In other words he had no idea and you don’t either Matt so please stop making it up. What is your real number on the personal commitment to a smaller carbon footprint of the local Sierra Club board. 50% plus or minus 50%.

    Why is this relevant? Because they are demanding all this stuff for new housing that they don’t have themselves. I find this hypocrisy odious.

     

    1. Matt Williams

      Ron G, your aggression isn’t passive.  It is active.  But nonetheless I will bite.  I each time I provided a number I added the disclaimer that the number was possibly wrong and provided for the purposes of discussion only.  I did that because I don’t see the demographics of the Sierra Club Board members being at all relevant to addressing the housing shortage itself.

      Further, there was nothing passive about my comment to you.  It was very direct.  As such, let me very directly restate it.  I believe your Measure D commentary would have a whole lot more impact if it stuck to addressing the message rather than attacking the messenger(s).

      One of the key issues you never bring up is how to make the new housing that is built affordable.  You never take to task the developers for the fact that the houses they build are over sized and have too many amenities to be affordable for your young families looking for starter homes.  I strongly suspect that the example couple you mentioned earlier in the week who bought their starter home in Cannery had to pay well over $500,000 for that home.  Why aren’t you advocating for getting the average price of new homes under $500,000 (an arbitrary value I chose for the purposes of discussion) by making them smaller and less luxurious.  Think Levittown.  The resistance to smaller. more affordable homes like that isn’t coming from the Sierra Club.  It is coming from the developers, whose personal profit from smaller homes is … smaller.  Steve Sherman and Mike Corbett have been exceptions to that recently, but exceptions don’t make the rule.

      Regarding your final sentence, reasonable people can agree to disagree reasonably … but usually the word “hypocrisy” doesn’t creep into such reasonable conversations.  I believe your Measure D commentary would have a whole lot more impact if it stuck to addressing the message rather than attacking the messenger(s) for what you see as hypocrisy.

      JMO

      Note: I’ve made my point, and will let it lie there unless the discussion veers toward actually discussion ways to make new housing built in Davis more affordable.

      1. Ron Glick

        Measure J/R make passing at the ballot box more important than sound planning. When all these people demand both zero net energy and affordability  they never seem to ask themselves if those demands are in opposition to each other. When they fail to lead by example by demanding that newcomers live a standard that they fail to live by themselves they are being hypocritical. Just yesterday someone was talking about VMT  without acknowledging that they themselves drive to work in a nearby city. It gets tiresome listening to all this holier than thou nonsense from people who act like their poop don’t stink.

        1. Don Shor

          When they fail to lead by example by demanding that newcomers live a standard that they fail to live by themselves they are being hypocritical.

          Without getting into any of your other points, Ron, I can confirm that Alan P’s lifestyle is net-zero-energy. In fact, it’s net-negative-energy. So I don’t know why you’re pressing this point when you don’t know them personally.

        2. Ron Glick

          Don I have no doubt that there is plenty of negative energy in this town. Are you suggesting that Alan P is the Sierra Club? While that is a possibility I would not not be surprised to find out that is the case. Are there others? I didn’t realize that calling out the Sierra Club was a personal attack on Alan P. I specifically tried to not attack anyone by name and have avoided doing so.

          1. David Greenwald

            It was pointed out to me that the endorsement was not strictly a local decision. The statewide Sierra Club was part of it. I believe the local one has a bunch of people on the board – most of whom you probably know pretty well.

  3. Bill Marshall

    your comment shows a mastery of the ad hominem principle. 

    Sort of a passive aggressive personal attack

    Two good examples of “de-escalation” techniques (another thread)… NOT! [I’m adding a third!]

    1. Bill Marshall

      Spoke too soon… Mr Pryor trumped (pun unintended) Ron G and Matt many times over in his 12:27 post… so much for a “kinder, gentler”  VG, focusing on issues… no surprise there, tho’…

  4. Ron Glick

    “I believe the local one has a bunch of people on the board – most of whom you probably know pretty well.”

    So getting back to my original question

    What is the average age of the people making these decisions? Do they all own homes? Are the homes zero net energy?

      1. Ron Glick

        Not really but my guess after looking at their website is the average age of the locals is in the 70’s. My point is that the interests of the local Sierra Club and the people who would benefit from projects that will be blocked or never submitted under Measure D are widely divergent.

  5. Jim Frame

    Measure J/R make passing at the ballot box more important than sound planning.

    As though absent J/R we’d have sound planning.  J/R or no J/R, the city has only go/no-go authority over how and where it grows outside its current boundary.  The city can’t annex land against an owner’s will, and it can’t tell an owner what he may build on his land.  The city is dependent upon the owner/developer’s proposal; it can offer suggestions of what it would like to see on a potential annexation, and with a willing developer can, in theory, substantively shape a proposal.  But it can’t override an owner/developer’s desire to build whatever maximizes the ROI, and affordable housing hampers rather than helps ROI.  So pre-J/R (and post-1960s-era limited demand for high-end housing hereabouts) all you got were proposals that offered a few benefits along with a slew of high-end growth.  Chasing affordable housing under those circumstances imposed a heavy price.  Various CC’s played the game because they wanted to build things and feel like they were solving problems, when in many cases they were just making them worse.

    Vote Yes on Measure D!

     

  6. Richard McCann

    There is at least one much better alternative to Measure D/R/J. The City should prepare a full model development agreement for each type of development that specifies the required baseline features and social benefits. The model agreements would then be put before the electorate for approval. Subsequently a development proposal accepting the appropriate model agreement would not go before the electorate but would gain approval from the Planning Commission and City Council, with no provision for making the agreement less stringent. If a developer wants to modify the model agreement, then the project would go before the electorate as it would now. This path gives developers the assurance that they need to manage their risks. It is difficult to assemble the financing required under such uncertainty.

    We have examples of such model agreements from the Nishi I sustainability study and the NRC comments on DISC.

    There may be other alternatives that can replace or run in parallel with this concept.

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