Measure B Kicks Off with Rally Featuring Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry, Mayor Partida and Others

Cecilia Aguiar-Curry speaking at a press conference in March 2019 – Assembly photo

By David M. Greenwald

In years past when campaigns have kicked off it was the time for rallies, festivities and speeches, but during times of COVID, the Measure B team pushing for the passage of the Davis Innovation and Sustainability Center, like everyone else, has gone the virtual route and had their announcement and speeches via Zoom.

The event on Wednesday was hosted by Councilmember Dan Carson who, along with Mayor Gloria Partida, served on the council subcommittee. He said on Wednesday, “DISC would bring green jobs, affordable housing, and it would rely 100 percent on clean energy.”

He added, “This will be an historic campaign over the next sixty days to convince
the public to provide us the resources to help our school system and help our city to recover from this very very serious economic recession that we’re in.”

He noted that there were already 700 endorsements for the project and he announced the support of the Yolo County Democrats.

Mayor Partida said, “This event is 20 years in the making. Twenty years ago we dreamed about harnessing the potential on the UC Davis Campus. A Yes on B vote will make that dream a reality.”

She noted that she has lived in Davis for 31 years—30 of those years as a research scientist at UC Davis.

She said, “As a scientist I understand the importance of lab space. Lab space equals opportunity. Good lab space promotes collaboration, and the advancement of discovery, and that discovery can ultimately advance quality of life.

“This project is especially unique in that the improvement of quality of life for our area is not something we would need decades and multiple trials to wait for. Almost immediately our city and the region would benefit.

“It will benefit from affordable housing,” the mayor said. “And housing that will reduce vehicle miles traveled. That in turn will reduce greenhouse gas emissions —generated from people driving into or out of work for our area.”

Justin Siegel, a 14-year resident of Davis is a science professor at UC Davis and an entrepreneur with six different startups. He noted that, while there are a lot of opportunities, there are a lot of real downfalls he’s hoping to address through DISC.

He said that through the technologies he and his research team have developed, “we have spun out six biotechnology companies and many more in the pipeline.” But he said, “unfortunately, zero of those six are currently in Davis.”

This is not due to lack of interest and he went further, saying, “This was despite effort to locate here.” Many of his employees live in Davis. “There has literally been no space for biotechnology companies,” he said. One he managed to get in the region in Sacramento, but the rest are spread throughout the country.

He said there is a lot of great expertise and there are great biotechnology companies in Davis with local management.

“A viable biotechnology ecosystem has not been realized in our region,” he said. “The number one problem with that is there is no space.”

The timing, he argued, couldn’t be better for this, with a growing interest in biotechnology companies.

He argued, “The world epicenter research-wise for that is UC Davis—a world premier institute for sustainability.” He believes with capital from the Bay Area, it should allow our ecosystem to thrive if we have that one piece—that space we need.

“Even during COVID this is the right time—in the Bay Area, biotechnology companies are considered essential businesses,” he said. “Biotechnology is where the solutions for testing and therapies and vaccines are going to come from.”

Cory Koehler, Executive Director of the Davis Chamber, also spoke. The Chamber was naturally an early supporter of the project, and he believes this is a critical time and that in the end the project will win at the ballot box.

He said that the Chamber conducted two extensive surveys with local businesses during the pandemic. They heard from 125 local businesses. Over 70 percent reported experiencing a reduction in business income and almost half saw that as significant. Twenty-five percent reported laying off staff. Many reduced operating hours or now operate remotely. Sixty percent believed the business environment became worse rather than better over the last month.

Many are receiving assistance from the federal government and most were concerned about continuing once that assistance dried up.

“For the Chamber, we took the position of supporting wholeheartedly the project. It comes at a critical time,” Koehler said. “We believe that the project will give an overall shot to the landscape to the tune of $1.7 billion.”

He sees that as “generating jobs,” “local tax revenue” and “more customers to our businesses.”

Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry was the headline speaker. She has made economic development a priority as an assemblymember, noting that when the county and district loses projects, “my heart gets broken.”

She said, “We should be the epicenter of this whole entire district and region.

“This is about moving into the future for our children and our communities,” the assemblymember said. “For 30 years, the city of Davis… has discussed an innovation center to harness the cutting edge of technology and the capacity of UC Davis.

“That’s important to me for Davis and the entire region,” she said. “We have the opportunity right in our backyard to do this.”

She said, “DISC will help Davis realize the incredible possibility of the knowledge economy—clean tech and sustainable ag business going into this project will bring good local jobs, and help the young professionals in our community.”

She added, “We are talking about businesses solving great challenges.” She argued this is an opportunity to fight for this in our own backyard. She also believe,s with the housing provided in the project, it will help “to address the local housing affordability crisis.”

The assemblymember added, “DISC gives me hope—and we need hope right now.  We’re struggling.  This project is a potential possibility←this is an outstanding focus on sustainable affordable housing and will serve as a project leader for live-work spaces.”

She said, “I want us to be a leader.”

Measure B—DISC—will be on the ballot on November 3.

—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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  1. Keith Olsen

     help our city to recover from this very very serious economic recession that we’re in.

    We’re in a pandemic fueled recession.  We’re already seeing signs of the economy recovering.  Once a vaccine is introduced it will be off to the races.  In my thinking Davis doesn’t need a development on the outskirts of the city for economic revitalization.

    “This project is especially unique in that the improvement of quality of life for our area is not something we would need decades and multiple trials to wait for. Almost immediately our city and the region would benefit.

    I thought this project could take decades for buildout and the filling of the business properties?  In fact I think I’ve read that here on the Vanguard.

    clean tech and sustainable ag business going into this project will bring good local jobs

    Do we really know what types of businesses are going to be tenants and do we really know they will be clean tech or sustainable ag?



  2. Todd Edelman

    “to address the local housing affordability crisis.”

    The Assemblymember would have more credibility if she’d done anything about Leasemageddon, the current situation where thousands of UCD students have not been in town since as far back as March, can’t get anyone to take over their leases, in many cases are refused communication by property owners… and this seriously impacts small landlords, too.

    There’s empty rooms all around town, and in other rooms students (and presumably others) are doubling up in rooms because there have been no general price reductions. Doubling up in rooms during a pandemic, while other rooms are empty. I’ve written to Council, County and a UCD administrator I know about this… no response.

    It’s economic violence… and based on what I’ve seen on Facebook housing lists the disproportionate victims on the renter side are people of color. UCD has made accommodations for its on-campus housing, but beyond that its mainly offered legal advice and aid to individual students about their options.

      1. Todd Edelman

        It’s economic violence

        Consider a situation where someone is evicted through no fault of their own, or forced to move – as many have from the Bay Area, for example – because decisions were made elsewhere over which they had little direct control. Consider a mother and child who are forced to move into a women’s shelter due to abuse from a partner. They may be in a safe space, but likely their ability to make a living is disrupted.

        The violence in this specific case with leases is a by-product of all the mechanisms and desires at play. It’s not physical violence, but can also be very disruptive. Consider how the number of suicides and behavioral health issues have increased in the last six months.

        1. Keith Olsen

          Consider how the number of suicides and behavioral health issues have increased in the last six months.

          I think most of that can be attributed to COVID lockdown.


    1. Ron Oertel

      The Assemblymember would have more credibility

      All of the local politicians would have more credibility if they addressed the housing shortage that DISC would ultimately create, if it was actually viable beyond the stages which include housing.

      Especially those who lay claim to that particular type of concern.

      I’m not sure if they’re just downright ignorant, or if there’s some other reason they ignore that.

        1. Ron Oertel

          It’s not my conclusion.

          It’s in the EIR.

          You weren’t able to address it “the other day” as you claim. You asked that I answer your question, which ultimately showed that DISC would “consume” somewhere between 15-36% of the housing that would be built (as I recall), IF Davis grew 1% per year. (Which hasn’t even consistently occurred in most places throughout the region.)

        2. David Greenwald

          Au contraire the EIR Simply looked at housing needs based on their assumptions. From that you concluded  that we would have to build more housing was I believe that we can absorb it with into future growth.

        3. Ron Oertel

          Au contraire the EIR Simply looked at housing needs based on their assumptions.

          “Housing need” is the same thing as “demand”.

          From that you concluded that we would have to build more housing was I believe that we can absorb it with into future growth.

          You’re the only one who made a “conclusion” regarding the impact of that increased demand.  I pointed out that some (including you) claim that there’s already a housing shortage.

          There’s an implication in your statement that demand would remain constant, regardless of the increased demand created by DISC.  This does not reflect well on your credibility.



          1. David Greenwald

            The EIR looked at housing needs under a given set of assumptions. They didn’t conclude that the city would have to build more housing on that basis – you did.

        4. Ron Oertel

          Again, the EIR indicates increased demand as a result of DISC.

          This is not my “opinion”.

          Now, how the city would handle that is an open question.  But, I would conclude that it will increase pressure to approve another sprawling housing development. That’s the only conclusion I made.

          Increased demand as a result of DISC is not in question.

          A shortage will occur if thousands of jobs are added, but only 850 residential units. It’s calculated to be a need for 2,900 units (in addition to the 850) in the EIR. Again, this isn’t coming from me.

          These types of challenges from you are one of the causes of the lengthy, nonsensical exchanges that you and Don complain about (but then only focus on my responses).

    2. Todd Edelman

      Doubling up in rooms

      per Don Saylor’s update from today on Tuesday’s BOS meeting, there will be no doubling up…. in on campus housing. So there’s no comprehensive approach. It boggles the mind.

    3. Alan Miller

      It’s economic violence…

      I think it’s the reality of the consequences of a nasty new virus.  These consequences have hit people in very different ways through no fault of their own — some highly advantaged and others majorly scréwed.  I’m certainly in favor of programs such as eviction protections, but all the government’s horse’s all the government’s men aren’t going to be able to figure out the humpty-dumpty of disparities in who suffered how much due to the pandemic, much less fix it.

      1. Bill Marshall

        Much truth there… but we’ve been thru situations like this before, and, like a kidney stone, this will pass… may be much pain, affecting folk differently, to be sure…

  3. Todd Edelman

    The event also had a Q&A thing, using the Zoom feature for that. Only a few questions from the audience appeared… one of mine, not directly answered. Only questions that were answered appeared to all… so there were probably many more they declined to let everyone else see. A tremendous showing of openness in the background as our elected officials spoke, right?

    The promotion of the event referred to e.g. “luminaries” like Mayor Partida and Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry, and to the latter as being from Davis. Either sloppy copyediting or the people who supervised the writer don’t actually know.

    To be fair, Senator Dodd also seems to have not done anything about Leasemageddon.

    1. Ron Oertel

      Either sloppy copyediting or the people who supervised the writer don’t actually know.

      Not sure if that’s Spafford and Lincoln, but (based upon a confirmation email address), they were apparently involved with this.  I think they were also involved in “answering” the questions.

  4. Bill Marshall

    Courtesy of another poster….

    Feel free to use, if so inclined…

    I am inclined… more and more, based on posts I’ve seen…

    Given the posters, have gone from 50-50 to 95-5  on how I’ll vote on the Measure… thanks to the rhetoric/logic (lack of?) of certain posters…

    [Moderator(s), no personal attack there…]

    [But still fully expect that this will be ‘awaiting moderation’]

  5. Ron Oertel

    So here’s the No On Disc website, run by volunteers (who often contribute their own money, not driven by any financial gain that I can see).

    People who are concerned about traffic, greenhouse gasses, paving over prime farmland outside of a logical boundary for the city, potential use of city-owned greenspace to satisfy developer requirements, housing shortages, incorrect fiscal claims, etc.

    In other words, my kind of people. Thanks so much for doing this.

      1. Ron Oertel

        Not sure what your point is, but yes – they are.

        Although like all people – they are not all the same, nor are they consistently “anti-growth”.

        I’m sorry that they’re not “your kind of people”. I think we know who “your kind” are, these days.

      2. Ron Oertel

        Thanks, Keith.

        It probably would have been better if I said that they are people who have interests similar to mine, and that they possess personal integrity.

        Not that support or opposition to any given proposal is necessarily anything beyond that, in terms of “character”.

        Originally, I had not been planning to actively fight the MRIC proposal when it was a commercial-only (as originally planned).  (Partly due to influence from someone else.)

        Though I was never fond of the idea of paving over that site, and I’ve subsequently come to understand the additional pressure it would create to pave over another site, as well.  Even with the 850 units, of which 130 may (essentially) not be available to workers at all, due to income restrictions. (Unless they’re low-wage workers.)

        Of course, it doesn’t seem to be viable as a stand-alone commercial site, regardless.  Just like all the rest.

        So ultimately, I’d really like to see it stay the way it is.

      3. Alan Miller

        “In other words, my kind of people.”

        Barbra Streisand – “People”

        People who need people,
        Are the luckiest people in the world
        We’re children, needing other children
        And yet letting a grown-up pride
        Hide all the need inside
        Acting more like children than children

      4. Ron Oertel

        People . . . 
        who need people . . .
        to live within urban footprints . . .
        and stop sprawling outward . . .
        onto prime farmland . . .
        encouraging motor vehicles . . .
        and displacing owls . . .

        1. Ron Oertel

          I thought about that, after I typed that.

          In any case, I think I see who your role model was. Not quite at the Al Pacino level.

          Maybe some combination of Weird Al Yankovich, and Eddie Haskell (R.I.P.)

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