Councilmember Carson Talks about Support for DiSC 2022

Councilmember Dan Carson

By Silverio Rizo Llamas

DAVIS, CA – Davis City Councilmember Dan Carson says that Measure H can help maintain the city’s high quality of life without raising taxes and is where “Davis needs to go next.”

In an interview with the Vanguard, City Councilmember Dan Carson, an outspoken proponent of Measure H, made his case for why Davis voters should approve Measure H this time around. Carson believes that Measure H will help provide the solutions we need as a community to deal with climate change, while helping the city with its budget deficit, traffic congestion, and housing problems.

When asked how Measure H would help the Davis community, Councilmember Carson began by addressing the improvements to traffic. “We have a report, an independent report, from a traffic consultant, that says that after this project does improvements at 23 specific locations, that they’re on the hook to pay for,… traffic conditions in the future will be better, if this project goes ahead then if it does not.”

He continued by explaining that “his project could save people…up to a few minutes, at certain intersections, because of all the commitments that its required to make.”

Councilmember Carson also explained that Measure H would help provide solutions that we will need as a community to deal with climate change. He referenced the “strong interest” that UC Davis has in addressing food security issues stemming from climate change, such as reduced agricultural yields. Carson believes this new technological facility will help deal with the modern day climate issues.

Carson also pointed to the beneficial financial impact this project would have on the city of Davis. He explained that the city is currently operating on a budget deficit of about 7 million dollar per year, and will be operating at a deficit for the next 20 years according to an independent financial report. Carson explained that the figure did not include any new city spending but rather the maintenance of city infrastructure and services.

He explained that the city had three choices to address its budget deficit. The city could let its infrastructure deteriorate and reduce city services and programs, increase taxes, or opt for economic development.

Carson believes that increasing taxes to address the funding gap would not be easy, as the city had failed to pass a ballot measure that would raise taxes to address the funding gap a few years ago. He believes that economic development will really improve the city’s fiscal responsibility. According to Carson the “project will produce a net fiscal benefit of a little bit under 4 million dollars per year at full buildup,” even in its reduced version.

Carson also talked on the environmental impacts of Measure H. He said that the plan is committed to being “carbon neutral” by 2040, on track with the city’s commitment. The Councilmember says “it needs to be a 100 percent clean energy project” and that any clean energy it could not produce would be purchased from Valley Clean Energy.

However, the opposition allege that “DiSC alone will increase the City’s carbon footprint by almost 5%, completely derailing the City’s ability to meet its carbon-neutral goal by 2040.”

He alleged that the opposition attempted to distort the total number of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, in the arguments against the measure on the ballot. “The opposition tried to make that (total number of GHG emissions) seem more objectionable, by trying to convert that number into pounds.”

Carson explained that the problem with this decision is that they used “troy pound measurement, which is a 19th century measurement that nobody uses anymore except (for) precious metals, instead of the standard pound definition.”

As such, he says that the judge, in a lawsuit he filed on behalf of the Measure H campaign, struck down the 55 million pound measurement and “wrote in the 20 thousand metric ton number.”

Carson explained their attempt to have the judge strike down the opposition’s title, stating they had “unmitigated greenhouse gas emissions.” He said that the judge said “that there was credibility in (their) view” but because it was “a single word in a headline” it would give the impression that the project would not be fully mitigated.

However Councilmember Carson found this line of reasoning problematic as he believes that fooling anyone “into thinking that there’s no mitigation at all, (would be) … a disservice to voters.”

When asked how this plan was different and better than the previous plan that had been narrowly rejected by voters, Carson said that the new plan tried to reduce office space as much as possible while focusing land use on the wet lab and advanced manufacturing. Carson explained that having “more of the project taken up by advanced manufacturing means that it involves fewer employees on a per square foot basis and thus lesser traffic impacts.”

He continued by explaining that the “advanced manufacturing portion of the program is what really gives the financial pop for the city of Davis.” Carson believes that high tech businesses and manufacturers will “disproportionately” help the city financially without competing with local business and the Davis downtown. He predicts that advanced manufacturing will create demand for certain goods that local shops and businesses will most likely fill.

The Councilmember also believes that voters should consider housing when making their choice in June. Carson explained that city ordinance requires projects like DiSC to have 15 percent of the units available for affordable housing and explains that this project exceeds this by committing to 18 percent of affordable housing.

Overall, Councilmember Carson believes that the strongest argument in favor of Measure H is that it would help Davis “advance and enhance who we are.” He believes it is “where Davis needs to go next, and in an environmentally responsible way. It’s consistent with our values around here.”

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  1. Ron Glick

    “Carson believes that the strongest argument in favor of Measure H is that it would help Davis ‘advance and enhance who we are.’” 

    A totally meaningless conclusion. Dan was doing well talking about traffic mitigation and tax receipts for the city. Then at the end he dropped the ball with that empty platitude.

    Perhaps someone could address the 23 specific traffic improvements and whether they will actually help.

    1. Ron Oertel

      Perhaps someone could address the 23 specific traffic improvements and whether they will actually help.

      And if they do so, perhaps they could discuss them in light of the other proposals for that same area (e.g., Palomino Place, Shriner’s, the “other half” of DiSC, the space inside of Mace curve . . .).

      And then run both a traffic and fiscal analysis of THAT, as part of an overall cumulative environmental impact analysis.

      And while we’re at it, ask him why all of the other developments that have been approved to date are creating a deficit, and the reason that “this time will be different”.

      And when do you suppose that Carson will start talking about who/how his legal bills were paid, when he sued his own constituents (and lost)?

      1. Aaron Wedra

        I was a viewer of the courtroom trial and read both statements from for and against about the verdict. Two of the four of Carson’s objections were recognized as having validity. I wouldn’t call that a loss. It was all very enlightening to learn about political speech, how it is protected, and how there is a lot of room for stating opinions and predictions. Also room for the different ways language can be construed. There is language around the word unmitigated that I first construed as meaning “no mitigation whatsoever”.  However when folks read the ballot language for this measure, the truth is that unmitigated in this instance is more of an opinion and prediction that there will will be aspects that may not be fully mitigated.”

        By the way, hey Dave G., I misspelled my name when registering (oops). Can you change it to Aaron Wedra please.

  2. Matt Williams

    Davis City Councilmember Dan Carson says that Measure H can help maintain the city’s high quality of life without raising taxes

    I’m glad to see that Dan Carson has added the word “help” to the above statement.  According to the City’s consultant … in the best case scenario … at full build-out … DiSC will produce an annual  net positive contribution to the City Budget of $3.88 million.

    How far will those best case scenario dollars go in covering the annual Budget Shortfall (Funding Gap), which the City report below (provided to Council at the beginning of COVID) below says is $291 million in the 20-year period between 2020 and 2039.  That is $14.55 million per year.

    Subtracting $3.88 million from $14.55 million leaves the City with a best case scenario remaining annual shortfall of $10.67 million per year.  I will be interested to hear from Dan Carson how he plans to cover that $10.67 million each Budget year.  Is he making a George H.W. Bush pledge of “No more taxes?”  Inquiring minds want to know.

    1. Don Shor

      Subtracting $3.88 million from $14.55 million leaves the City with a best case scenario remaining annual shortfall of $10.67 million per year.

      Hence the original task force proposal for three peripheral commercial sites as well as expanded commercial development downtown and along Fifth Street.

      1. Ron Oertel

        Probably should have made it four, for good measure.

        Five would probably be overkill.  At that point, the city would need to send out checks to all residents to give-away the surplus.

        However, they could start saving other planets that way, as well. So there’s that. I’d go with at least three for Davis, and one for each of the other planets in the solar system. Fortunately, Pluto is no longer a planet, so we can just let that one be.

  3. Matt Williams

    In the comment above I referred to the annual net positive contribution to the City Budget of $3.88 million as “best case scenario.”  One of the reasons I say that is that the $3.88 million only happens at Full Buildout.  According to the City’s fiscal analysis performed by EPS the best case Phase 1A annual net positive contribution will only be $333,000, which rises to a best case of $1,351,000 in Phase 1B.  The full calculations by EPS are shown below.

    If the voters approve Measure H, Phase 1A will not begin until 2025 and Full Buildout isn’t forecasted to  happen until at least the beginning of 2037.

    So that $14.55 million annual Budget Funding Gap will not get reduced by DiSC until 2023, and then only by $0.33 million … leaving $14.22 million still unfunded.  Those are the cold, hard facts provided by the City’s own numbers.

    1. Bill Marshall

      Those are the cold, hard facts estimates provided by the City’s own numbers.

      Facts aren’t facts, until they are.  Estimates, projections are not “facts”, other than it is factual that they were made… they may, or may not, be reasonable, but they are not “facts” in the commonly accepted sense… it is a fact that it is sunny today (9:55 AM)… it is not a ‘fact’ that there will be a ‘sunrise’ tomorrow… a reasonable projection, but not a fact.

      1. Ron Oertel


        DiSC might actually cause these numbers to be worse, due to a belief that it will solve the city’s fiscal challenges.  Thereby derailing any other effort to address the larger problem.

        Who knows how many ladder trucks and staffing, social workers, Mace Messes, salary increases (and associated pensions) would result due to a belief that “someone else” will now pay the city’s bills. The bills created due to the fact that existing developments aren’t sufficiently paying those bills, but “somehow” – this one would. (Since this time would be different, of course.)

        Not to mention the cost of additional housing that will also be pursued, as a result.

        1. Bill Marshall

          And, the sun may implode later today… I wonder… might just happen… who knows?  What if?  Shouldn’t THAT be taken into account in everything we do?

          Why isn’t that taken into account in the CEQA and/or economic analysis?

          Good points Ron O…

        2. Ron Oertel

          You’re the one who questioned the estimates.

          Seems to me that there’s already a lot of relatively-new commercial development along Second street.  Was that intended to “save the city” from itself?

        3. Bill Marshall

          You’re the one who questioned the estimates.

          Factually, as often the case, you are incorrect… I did not question the estimates… I acknowledge and accept the estimates as reasonable estimates, in point of fact…  I DO question when ‘estimates’ are portrayed as ‘facts’…

          Factually, it is as reasonable to assume that the estimates are under-estimates, as much as over-estimates… but you appear to have a ‘diode’ mentality where estimates can only be wrong in one direction… to ‘prove’ your assertion, your ‘agenda’… I do not know that for a ‘fact’, but it is a ‘reasonable projection/estimate’ given your past assertions.

          Have a great day… the sun is shining… at least for now…

        4. Ron Oertel

          Was just pointing out that costs are not necessarily “fixed”, and that having access to more money inevitably causes cities to spend more money. In the case of Davis, they’re even choosing to spend more money in advance of having more money.

          Consistently incurring additional costs for which they have not budgeted for, apparently due to a belief that someone (or something) else will pay those bills in the future.

          That’s how the situation occurred in the first place, and not just in Davis.  What’s different this time?

          Is the argument that larger cities are more fiscally-solvent than smaller cities? (If so, I don’t think that’s backed up by reality.)

    2. David Greenwald

      “In the comment above I referred to the annual net positive contribution to the City Budget of $3.88 million as “best case scenario.” One of the reasons I say that is that the $3.88 million only happens at Full Buildout. ”

      While true that in the model, the net $3.88 happens at build out, that doesn’t mean that the projection is a best case scenario. It means that using their moderate assumptions, the net benefit happens upon buildout.

  4. Dave Hart

    Why do I keep having the feeling that voting no on DISC because the city has been profligate in spending decisions in the past is like saying I won’t take that job that gives me an extra $10,000 a year because I’ll just fritter it away on beer and fried food?

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