By Alan Pryor
Dear Council members and Commissioners –
The Sierra Club Yolano Group is aware of the current controversy surrounding the placement of solar photovoltaic panels in parking lots at Sutter Hospital. To be clear, the Yolano Group supports both solar electrical generation and trees and realizes that sometimes these interests will conflict and compete with each other with respect to land use.
For instance, we actively supported Yolo County’s rapid expansion of ground-based solar PV systems but adamantly opposed their placement at Grasslands Park south of Davis on Mace Boulevard where it displaced a vernal pool and rare and endemic plants. We supported the deployment of wind turbines in southeastern Sutter County but opposed their placement in the Pacific Flyway near Clarksburg where their spinning blades could kill migrating and nesting birds. In each case there were acceptable alternative nearby locations where the alternative energy systems could be placed without adverse environmental impacts.
It appears that such an analysis of alternative placement sites for the PV panels at Sutter Hospital has not been performed and we support such a process to help ensure that the maximum environmental benefits of PV deployment are obtained. We understand that two city commissions are currently looking at this exact same question, the Tree Commission and the Natural Resources Commission, and that such a review will be completed and recommendations issued within just a few months.
The Davis community has numerous alternative energy and tree experts who can provide valuable input into these investigations for a measured deliberation which expertise should be fully utilized. We therefore request the Davis City Council defer final approval of the Sutter Hospital PV project until this Commission review, along with community input, is finalized and their final recommendations are issued.