Sierra Club Endorses No on Measure H

by Alan Pryor

Citing grounds of “excessive traffic, greenhouse gas emissions, and poor land-use and planning”, the Sierra Club announces its opposition to Measure H in Davis CA on the June 7, 2022 municipal ballot.


Measure H is a vote to allow the annexation of approximately 100-acres of Prime farmland on the northeast periphery of the City and the development of a business complex, hotel-conference center, and retail along with a 460-unit housing development. The project site is now farmed and serves as foraging habitat for numerous Special Status Species including Burrowing Owls, Swainson’s Hawks, and White-Tailed Kites.

The endorsement of the opposition to this ballot measure follows an extensive evaluation process by the local Sierra Club Yolano Group, the Sierra Club Mother Lode Chapter Political and Executive Committees, and the Sierra Club California Local Measure Review Committee.

The Sierra Club has long-standing official policies designed to minimize urban sprawl onto farmland and habitat and maximize intensive infill development. These include planning policies that further conservation of open space and preservation of natural areas and agricultural lands. The Sierra Club opposes sprawl as a pattern of increasingly inefficient and wasteful land use with devastating environmental and social outcomes.

While the Sierra Club is strongly supportive of efforts to stimulate economic development and provide housing, particularly for working families, we do not support the DISC development which will turn over 100-acres of productive Prime farmland into a massive, sprawling, auto-dependent business park”, said Alan Pryor, chair of the local Sierra Club Yolano Group. “Although some on-site housing units will be constructed, there is no mechanism to ensure that the housing will be occupied by workers at the development project itself”. 

This development is inconsistent with official Sierra Club land use policies encouraging infill development. Instead, the project is reminiscent of peripheral, sprawling, car-centric developments of earlier times that encourage long-range commuting. It is the antithesis of smart urban planning”, added Mr. Pryor.

Of particular concern is the 12,000+ daily auto trips projected to result from the development adding further congestion to an already bottle-necked City thoroughfare, Mace Blvd., and the I-80 freeway. In addition to the wait-times and traffic disruption, this excessive traffic is the primary contributor to the over 22,000 metric tons per year of additional greenhouse gases projected to be produced by the project.  This DISC project alone would increase the greenhouse gas footprint of Davis by almost 5% jeopardizing the City’s mandate of carbon neutrality by 2040. 

This project further suffers from the lack of an integrated transportation infrastructure plan. The project proponents only claim that a Transportation Demand Management Plan will be created in the future once zoning entitlements are approved by the voters. But the promoters do not guarantee any reductions in actual traffic counts or reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. This is not acceptable from an environmental perspective.

The project is also an example of the City allowing sprawl onto peripheral farmlands through exceptions to the General Plan rather than focusing on updating this important planning document. Properly planned, instead of depending on commuter traffic for viability, a project at the site could offer an important opportunity for meeting development needs in Davis in a manner that reflects Davis values – vibrant integrated and connected neighborhoods in a mixed use setting, affordable co-housing, community gardens and edible vegetation, appropriate commercial and live-work buildings, all bordered by protected farmland and open space.

Working towards these goals necessitates a General Plan update or an Area-Specific Plan. Piecemeal speculative development, focusing on one project at a time, will preclude this important planning opportunity to consider community needs and values.

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32 Comments

  1. Ron Glick

    “…said Alan Pryor, chair of the local Sierra Club Yolano Group. “

     “…Alan Pryor, speaking as a principal officer and treasurers of the no on measure h campaign, …”

    Sierra Club Endorses No on Measure H
    By Alan Pryor

    1. Ron Oertel

      Not actually seeing your second quote in the article, but I do see this:

      The endorsement of the opposition to this ballot measure follows an extensive evaluation process by the local Sierra Club Yolano Group, the Sierra Club Mother Lode Chapter Political and Executive Committees, and the Sierra Club California Local Measure Review Committee.

       

       

    1. Ron Oertel

      Don’t know if the Sierra Club committees mentioned reviewed the article, but I would guess that the reasons for their position are the same.

      Would you or Ron G. care to talk about the actual issues which caused the Sierra Club to oppose the proposal? If it makes you both feel better, maybe you should just view the article as written by Alan P on behalf of the Sierra Club. Or, complain to the Sierra Club if you think Alan P is not representing the Sierra Club’s position.

      In any case, it makes sense that an individual (especially a leader) would have very similar reasons for being part of both groups.

      “No on H” is more than an individual, as well.

       

  2. Craig Ross

    The actual issue seems to be a rather sizable and blatant conflict of interest between Alan PRYOR’s role on the No on H Committee and his role on the Sierra Club Board.

    1. Ron Oertel

      How is that a “conflict of interest”?

      I would expect those positions to be exactly the same regarding this proposal, though it did have to go through a review process with the Sierra Club, as noted.  There’s nothing hidden, here.

      Nor is anyone getting paid.

      It’s not as if a sitting council member is having his personal legal costs picked up by a developer (on behalf of a development proposal), for example.

      1. Keith Olson

        It’s not as if a sitting council member is having his legal costs picked up by a developer (on behalf of a development proposal), for example.

        Ron, you beat me to it.

      2. Ron Glick

        I don’t know if there is a conflict of interest or not. I didn’t make any editorial comment. However your comment Ron O. does raise a question of whether or not he recused himself from the process at the Sierra Club or if any of his participation could have biased the process at the Sierra Club?

        What I do find questionable is the lack of disclosure on his part of the two or three roles he is playing in this press release. But since you raise the issue, did he disclose his various roles to the Sierra Club Mother Lode Chapter Political and Executive Committees, and the Sierra Club California Local Measure Review Committees?

        1. Ron Oertel

          What I do find questionable is the lack of disclosure on his part of the two or three roles he is playing in this press release. But since you raise the issue, did he disclose his various roles to the Sierra Club Mother Lode Chapter Political and Executive Committees, and the Sierra Club California Local Measure Review Committees?

          I didn’t “raise the issue” at all, as is there is no issue to raise. The article does not appear to be a press release in the first place.

          Bill was kind enough to list contact information from the Sierra Club.  Why don’t you contact them to find out?  Maybe you can ask them to withdraw their position (or improve their processes?), based upon your concerns.  🙂

           

        2. Ron Glick

          Why bother? I’m sure the No on H campaign can see my concerns and respond. So far, The Davisite has censored two of three comments I posted there, neither of them any more inflammatory than what I have posted here. As of this time that is as much response as I have received.

          One commenter did respond with a question about my original post, the same one I posted here, wondering what my point was? It also pointed out the Sierra Club process as you have.

          I responded that I would let the readers connect the dots themselves but that I questioned if there was disclosure about the various positions Alan Pryor was holding and if there was any ethical responsibility to disclose those relationships.

          My comments were not printed on that other Website.

        3. Ron Glick

          They were busy with their lives and have now posted my remarks at the Davisite. I apologize for getting over my skis and jumping to the conclusion that they were censoring my comment. My bad!

        4. Matt Williams

          Ron, I just went to the Davisite and I see three comments by you.  There doesn’t appear to be any censoring happening.  Is that correct?

          Ooops! I should have read on to see your comment and apology above. So please accept my apology to you for getting over my skis as well.

        5. Alan Miller

          The Davisite has censored two of three comments I posted there.

          I was about to go over my skiis and post:  “What?  Does every blog in this town not believe in hearing the opposition and having open dialog, and instead to purge the comments of the opposition as to be so objectionable that delicate human eyes cannot handle?”

          But I won’t, as I see the Davisite doesn’t do that.  They’re just slow.

      3. Craig Ross

        Because he has a formal role on one body that influences the formal role on another. And as Glick points out, he has not disclosed his duties to each entity.

        1. Ron Oertel

          he has not disclosed his duties to each entity.

          How do you know what he has, or hasn’t disclosed?

          You think they don’t know?  Look at the contact list that Bill M. provided.

        2. Ron Oertel

          I can tell you that EVERYONE associated with No on H “knows”, as well.

          I’d suggest that you, Ron G., Bill M., and the Vanguard itself “investigate” this allegation. You’ll probably win a Pulitzer.

        3. Ron Glick

          Of course the locals know but did the people at the higher levels of the Sierra Club know Pryor was wearing two hats? That is my question and its only a question not an accusation.

          Also the point of my original post was to let readers know the various roles he is playing and decide for themselves.

          I’m at six posts, sorry Don, this will be my last today.

        4. Ron Oertel

          If you’re going to ask questions like that, find out what the processes/requirements for disclosure are, first.  Assuming there are any, regarding your concern.

          The “higher levels” of the Sierra Club, for example, would likely be happy to tell you about that. Do some research, before throwing out allegations.

          My final comment as well, for today.  (The shot clock cut me off several times.)

  3. Keith Olson

    Of particular concern is the 12,000+ daily auto trips projected to result from the development adding further congestion to an already bottle-necked City thoroughfare, Mace Blvd.

    Commonly referred to as the “MACE MESS”.

      1. Keith Olson

        “Mace Mess” refers to the redesigned southern portion of Mace Blvd

        LOL, I didn’t know there was an official definition.  Did you look it up in a dictionary or something?

        If one is stuck on the Mace curve simply trying to get a burrito at Guadalajara on a Friday afternoon one might also refer to that as part of the Mace Mess.

  4. Keith Y Echols

    The Sierra Club would protest Ikeda’s expanding on to an additional acre of farm land.

    While the Sierra Club is strongly supportive of efforts to stimulate economic development and provide housing, particularly for working families, we do not support the DISC development which will turn over 100-acres of productive Prime farmland into a massive, sprawling, auto-dependent business park”, 

    The problem is that there is no viable alternative for economic development that has been identified.  And no, laughable craptacular ideas about solely utilizing existing infill or building significant infill for a serious commercial business park is a pure pipe dream.

    So here’s the thing; the NO’s need to show a pathway to economic….I guess for lack of a better word…”optimization”.  Which would basically be contracting city services and other costs while at the same time at least maintaining the existing standard of living within the city (which I argue is also craptacular based on the retail and restaurant variety available here).

    That being said; the YES expansionists also need to show their target financial goals for optimization and realization of revenue to city services and ultimately quality of life for the people of Davis.  I believe in smart growth; a mix of necessary peripheral development and especially infill development….with hopefully an eventual emphasis on the latter.  The NO people are right to worry about economic plans that need continuous expansion.  What is the endgame for that expansion….or targets or goals?  You can’t fall into the trap of needing to endlessly expand to make the local economy function.   Expansion requires initial sacrifice (in this case some farmland and East Davis traffic).  There needs to be a goal to make that sacrifice worth it.

     

    1. Ron Oertel

      You are wrong, regarding what the Sierra Club generally endorses or opposes.

      They previously endorsed a local development proposal near DiSC, as I recall.  It was voted down.

      I am no longer a member of the Sierra Club myself, for various reasons.  Though I support much of what they do.

      1. Keith Y Echols

        You are wrong, regarding what the Sierra Club generally endorses or opposes.

        I’m basing my comment on personal experience.  The Sierra Club will back off if you preserve like 10 acres for every one you develop as a mitigation measure (I’m sort of exaggerating).  So basically, they can be bought off like anyone.

    2. Ron Oertel

      Tried to add (but was cut-off):

      Since you mention Ikeda’s, it’s worth noting that this proposal would (also) annex the land in which it sits on.  Thereby (probably) ensuring its destruction, at some point.

      Of course, this doesn’t mean that the owners themselves would necessarily be “unhappy” with that result.

  5. Don Shor

    While the Sierra Club is strongly supportive of efforts to stimulate economic development and provide housing,  — Alan Pryor

    It would be useful to have some examples of economic development projects and housing projects that have been endorsed by the local Sierra Club.

  6. Jim Frame

    The Sierra Club butting in on local issues is what prompted me to drop my membership decades ago.  The state and regional bodies appear to rubber-stamp the local chapter recommendations, and the latter are controlled by a small group.  I regards these endorsements as unreliable.

    I’m probably a No vote on DISC, but not because of the Sierra Club.

  7. Alan Miller

    I’d suggest that you, Ron G., Bill M., and the Vanguard itself “investigate” this allegation. You’ll probably win a Pulitzer.

    Greatest.  Comment.  Ever.

    Of course the locals know but did the people at the higher levels of the Sierra Club know Pryor was wearing two hats?

    I believe you all have this Sierra Club thing backwards.  The Sierra Club has a bottom-down structure where the local chapter basically calls the shots and is, in essence, the top.

    I ran a non-profit that was trying to get the “Sierra Club” to take an oppose position on a statewide project.  What we found was one local chapter that was directly affected took an oppose position, while another than was more ‘in favor of the concept’ was in support.  We also went to discuss with a “higher” (lower) level office in S.F. and my impression was it was pretty much a lawsuit factory of staff lawyers who sued on behalf of chapter issues.

    I’m not and never have been a member, but had a fair amount of contact and that was my impression.  Anyone is welcome to fine-tune or tear-apart my impression.  Also may be different today than 15 years ago.

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