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.”