By Melanie Johnson
DAVIS, CA – On Wednesday, members of the Davis City Council met with representatives from the Yolo County Board of Supervisors to discuss their potential collaboration on two particular initiatives: electric vehicle “fleet procurement” as a subset of overall climate action initiatives, and funding for the expansion of the Yolo Adult Day Health Center.
Prefacing the discussion of climate action initiatives, Mayor Gloria Partida emphasized the monetary benefits of city and county collaboration, stating that “if there is a way to coordinate that with the county, maybe we can both save some money around the efforts that we’re putting out around climate action.”
Taro Echiburu, Director of Yolo County Community Services Department, provided city council members with an update regarding the county’s progress with their climate action initiatives.
Echiburu detailed the efforts of the Yolo County climate action commission, which “set a very lofty goal for the county to be carbon negative by 2030.” He specified, “The work of the commission is two-fold. Number one is to direct and help us with the preparation of the county climate action plan aimed at meeting this 2030 goal. And second…is to identify actions that might further those goals ahead of the preparation and approval of the climate action plan. We’re calling these early action items.”
One of these early action items which received particular attention in the discussion was “fleet procurement” of electric vehicles to be used by county staff and deployment of additional electric vehicle charging stations.
Echiburu described the increasing attention Yolo County has directed towards these initiatives, stating, “Over the last three years our board and the budget process have increased the profile of looking at alternative fuel vehicles as part of our internal policies . . . I make my staff prove to me that they can’t work with an electric vehicle before I approve a non-electric or hybrid vehicle.”
However, the county’s adoption of these initiatives is not a straightforward process. Echiburu identified the “chicken or the egg” problem, which arises when considering the implementation of these initiatives, raising the question, “Do we buy the vehicles first, or do we put the charging stations first?”
Chad Rinde, Chief Financial Officer of Yolo County, asserted the utility of prioritizing charging stations by explaining that one of the goals of this initiative should be “trying to remove some of these impediments so people feel comfortable, that the vehicle will be able to be charged and ready and accessible when they need it.” An issue of electric vehicle accessibility, in other words.
Overall, the proposal of this early action item was well-received by both the Davis City Council members and Yolo County representatives present. They mutually agreed to get joint-staffs together to assess the respective situations of the city and the county and address procurement at a future unspecified date.
In addition to the discussion of climate action initiatives, City Council members and Yolo County representatives also discussed potential expansion of the Yolo Adult Day Health Center located in Woodland. According to their website, the center “offers a diverse range of services for individuals and families facing the challenges of serious health problems such as dementia, chronic medical diagnoses, mental illness or brain injury.”
Chad Rinde described Yolo County’s existing efforts to expand the Yolo Adult Day Health Center’s present operation, in which they are partnering with Dignity Health, a California-based non-profit public benefit corporation.
The intended increase of the center’s service capacity from 60 people to 120 people daily will be accomplished by establishing a new site on the St. John’s Retirement Village campus and renovating the former Stollwood Convalescent Hospital in which the new facility would be housed.
However, Rinde made the council aware of the financial difficulties St. John’s is facing and expressed the need for the county’s provision of an alternative path forward to bridge the project’s present “construction escalation gap.”
In regards to these complications, Sheila Allen, Executive Director of the Yolo Healthy Aging Alliance, attempted to provide more context regarding the importance of this expansion to Davis residents.
She clarified, “there are many people that come from Davis that are transported over to the Adult Day Health Program; it’s a Medi-Cal program. If you have Medi-Cal and you would otherwise be in a nursing home, you could be eligible to receive adult day health, which includes not just a social aspect but also physical therapy, occupational therapy, nursing; all of those kinds of things; so it definitely has an impact on Davis residents.”
Allen elaborated upon the present situation at the Woodland facility, “a good number of people who were going over to the Adult Day Program decided not to go because there was a very long wait list, which is why the expansion was originally contemplated . . . By the time you decide it’s time to do adult day health, you need it then, not waiting until later. And many people have died on the waiting list to try to get in there.”
Davis City Manager Mike Webb concluded that the City of Davis’ American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding committee would consider the ARP funding request for the Adult Day Health facility alongside other items up for consideration and report back to city council on March 1.