Letter: Why Was Yes on Campaign Chair Involved in City-County Negotiations?

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by Don C. Price

The City’s staff report for the tax sharing MOU says the “discussions . . . have included the City Council subcommittee of Mayor Partida and Councilmember Carson, along with city staff, and the City Attorney.”

The staff report goes on to say “The Bradley-Burns sales taxes generated from points of sale on the project site will be shared 50% County and 50% City. This share applies to Bradley Burns only and not to the Davis local 1% sales tax as approved under Measure Q”

The involvement in this process of Councilmember Carson needs to be emphasized, because in the City’s financial analysis of DiSC presented to the Finance and Budget Commission in December, the City’s financial consultant EPS projected the City would get 100% of all annual sales tax revenues and the County would get 0%.  The negotiated terms of the MOU reported by both the City and the County reduce the City’s projected net tax revenue by over $350,000 per year, and reduce the City’s “best case” projection from $3.88 million to $3.53 million.

Since $3.88 million is no longer accurate, City should explicitly direct the Yes on Measure H campaign team to cease-and-desist any further use of the $3.88 million figure in its messaging or materials.  Given Dan Carson’s dual role as a member of City Council and as the Honorary Chair of the Yes on Measure H campaign team quickly and efficiently conveying that cease-and-desist statement should be easy to accomplish.

With all the above said, “Why was the Yes on H campaign chair involved in the City-County negotiations?” – negotiations that produced such an unfavorable result for the City?

Don C. Price is a Davis resident.

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30 thoughts on “Letter: Why Was Yes on Campaign Chair Involved in City-County Negotiations?”

  1. Ron Glick

    This letter raises a good point about how the tax sharing agreement marginally reduces the projected revenue to the city by about 10%. Sadly, it ends with an ad hominem attack on Dan Carson.

    Why is Carson involved? He has been involved since the beginning of the current proposal representing the city. It makes perfect sense that he would continue representing the city through these current negotiations. The implied argument that Carson has some conflict of interest falls flat. Unless you can show that he has personally benefitted from his belief, that the project he helped negotiate for the city, will be beneficial for the community this sort of continuous attack on Carson shows the pettiness of the No on H campaign.

  2. Keith Y Echols

    Uh…I’m not sure who else is supposed to be involved in a negotiation between the city and the county over tax sharing for the DISC project.  Carson is the project advocate on the Council.  It’s like asking why your primary care doctor is the one discussing all your meds with your proctologist.

    As for the results of the cut of the Bradley-Burns sales tax the county is taking; I guess the County felt it needed/required the revenue.  Does the author believe another Council member could have gotten a better deal?  I’m not sure what the point of the article is.  The result was negotiated and the net revenue number was revised.  What else were they supposed to do?

    1. Richard_McCann

      Keith E

      The problem is that Carson may have stepped over the ethical line. It’s as though your doctor is advocating for a surgical procedure that uses instruments that his friend’s company provides. It’s about appearances even if the results might not have changed. Given the City Staff’s vigilance about the Brown Act and related issues, this reflects yet another “oversight” akin to the BrightNight debacle that should not have happened.

      1. Keith Y Echols

        What exactly did Carson do that was unethical?   I’m not sure how you think this is all supposed to go.  It’s Carson’s job as a city council person to negotiate with the county for a tax sharing agreement.  He’s the lead guy on the Council to get DISC approved.  Who do you think was supposed to negotiate with the County? Caron’s interests line up with both the city and the developer.  So what’s the issue?  WHO ELSE SHOULD HAVE NEGOTIATED THE AGREEMENT?

        1. Matt Williams

          WHO ELSE SHOULD HAVE NEGOTIATED THE AGREEMENT?

          .
          There are an abundance of Council subcommittees, which are comprised of two Council members in 10 possible configurations of two as follows.  The answer to your question is “Choosing any of the 6 pairings that don’t have Carson.”

          Partida-Arnold
          Partida-Carson
          Partida Chapman
          Partida-Frerichs
          Arnold-Carson
          Arnold-Chapman
          Arnold-Frerichs
          Carson-Chapman
          Carson-Frerichs
          Chapman-Frerichs

        2. Keith Y Echols

          That’s a pretty glib reply.  You haven’t answered WHY?  Carson is obviously the guy leading the charge.  Why would the rest of Council act instead?  He’s the one that is the mostly strongly advocating for the project.  He probably has more knowledge about it than the others.  The Council all agreed to move forward with the project; why not have the lead guy be the one to move it forward?  No one has answered that.  No one.

          It seems to me that the NO Campaign just doesn’t like Carson.  Did he play a little politically rough?  Maybe….though there was no other way for him to get what he wanted accomplished (change the voter doc info); and that’s regardless of actually achieving it.  All I hear from the NO Campaign is whining about the YES Campaign and their people.  I find it distasteful.  The NO Campaign should focus on the issue.  It seems like the NO Campaign would rather just skip ahead to the next city council election and run against Carson and other Council Members they don’t like. All this comes off as petty.

          All that being said, as I was typing this the YES Campaign just called me on the phone.  I cut them off because I HATE BEING CALLED ON THE PHONE for political stuff.  I find it intrusive and offensive.

          1. Don Shor

            The council approved his role, so obviously they have no problem with what he’s doing.

            It seems to me that the NO Campaign just doesn’t like Carson. … All this comes off as petty.

            Yep.
            If you don’t like what the council majority did with regard to DISC, then run someone against Councilmember Carson and Mayor Partida who has a chance of winning. Otherwise, I suggest sticking to the issues.

        3. Ron Oertel

          Otherwise, I suggest sticking to the issues.

          “Issues” are defined by the authors of the articles.  And in this case, the comment is directly related to the issue.

          You can disagree with it, but it is the “issue” of the article itself.

        4. Matt Williams

          I agree with Don’s 5:43 comment.

          Keith’s 5:16 comment isn’t as easy to respond to, but I’ll give it a shot.  I realize this is 20/20 hindsight, but if the City had simply applied the Nishi/WDAAC MOU they would have saved themselves $180,000.  Sometimes simple is better.  I suspect, but do not know, that Dan wanted to have the DiSC MOU “be his” and in the process of doing that allowed the County to get a better deal than they had previously gotten.  Sometimes the “lead guy” can’t see the forest for the trees.

          JMO

        5. Keith Y Echols

          but if the City had simply applied the Nishi/WDAAC MOU they would have saved themselves $180,000.  Sometimes simple is better.  I suspect, but do not know, that Dan wanted to have the DiSC MOU “be his” and in the process of doing that allowed the County to get a better deal than they had previously gotten.

          Isn’t it more likely that the county wanted a different deal?  You’re assuming that if Carson had just asked for the previous deal, he would have got it.   I don’t believe that the DISC property is in Davis’ sphere of influence so the county has more say in the annexation process than other properties that may have been in the sphere of influence.

          1. Don Shor

            I don’t believe that the DISC property is in Davis’ sphere of influence

            If I recall, that area was removed from the Davis LAFCO Sphere of Influence 10 – 15 years ago. The rationale was to better protect the ag land, which was then done for the parcel to the north (Mace 391) via a conservation easement. The logic at the time was that it was protected by Measure J. This remaining part then became a focus of the ‘peripheral innovation park task force’ that led to the requests for proposals, and DISC/2 is what remains of that whole roundabout process.
            I even find an article where Doug Paul Davis and Sue Greenwald express concern about the LAFCO proposal.

        6. Richard_McCann

          The ethical question is whether he should have accepted the role as the honorary campaign chair if he also was in the role of negotiating the tax split with the county. And his stepping forward to push the lawsuit indicated that he had more than a figure-head role in the campaign. And then using the Council dais to defend his action as the campaign chair which is not among is official duties is another question.

          As for running someone against specific council members, it is not MUCH more difficult given the split into districts. Not only do you have to find interested individuals, but they also have to live in those specific districts. It is a very difficult task. And even then someone else might run and split the opposition vote. Dillan Horton had a very good chance on being on the Council until the districts were formed.  Districts have turned into the incumbency protection plan.

          1. Don Shor

            it is not MUCH more difficult given the split into districts.

            Assume you meant ‘now’ MUCH more difficult.

        7. Keith Y Echols

          The ethical question is whether he should have accepted the role as the honorary campaign chair if he also was in the role of negotiating the tax split with the county. 

          Why?  Caron represented the city and the project in negotiations with the county.   Was the project and the city at opposing sides on the issue?  No.  The city and project have aligned interests.  So this idea that Carson crossed some ethical line is absurd.

          No.  A bunch of sensitive types got their knickers in a twist because Carson played rough in trying to get something done in the only way possible (the courts).  Again, the stupid people point that he wasn’t overly successful.  But that isn’t the point.  He had something to contest and the only way to get what he wanted was to challenge it in court….which runs the risk of losing.  All this blather about the lawsuit is stupid.   So all this leads to a bunch of people that don’t like Carson and now throw baseless claims of unethical behavior.  There’ some weird belief by the NO Camp and the conspiracy theorists that the City Council needs to be apart from development.  That the CC is supposed to hover over the developer and punish them for every little thing that doesn’t go according to plan. The reality is that once the City and the developer come to an agreement over the project; they are partners.  They both are interested in getting the project completed to the best of their ability.  The CC and developer know that things change; things rarely go as planned.  The only part that is immutable are the baseline features.  Everything else they workout together as a team.  Carson is the lead guy on the Council for DISC….I don’t know why that’s such a hard concept for people to understand.

          As for running someone against specific council members, it is not MUCH more difficult given the split into districts. Not only do you have to find interested individuals, but they also have to live in those specific districts. It is a very difficult task. And even then someone else might run and split the opposition vote. Dillan Horton had a very good chance on being on the Council until the districts were formed.  Districts have turned into the incumbency protection plan.

          This sounds like whining.  The incumbents and challengers play by the same rules.  If there isn’t enough of a challenge to overcome the incumbents…..then the incumbents didn’t deserve to be voted out.  The loud and vocal folks (whatever the issue, campaign…etc..) always need a reality check that being loud, vocal and active doesn’t necessarily mean being politically strong.

      2. Todd Edelman

        Keith E.

        The reality is that once the City and the developer come to an agreement over the project; they are partners.

        There is no agreement and no partnership. It’s all been preparation. A vote of the citizens will decide if their city has agreed with and will partner with the developer.

        1. Keith Y Echols

          There is no agreement and no partnership. It’s all been preparation. A vote of the citizens will decide if their city has agreed with and will partner with the developer.

          The incredible arrogance of the hoi polloi in this city never ceases to amaze me.  Before a project can be brought to a Measure J vote the city and the developer have to agree on the project to be voted on.

        2. Todd Edelman

           hoi polloi

          Keith – People agree to have a meeting or number of meetings and lots of admin happens – and marketing – in the latest iteration of DISC posters there is a water feature with a stand up paddle boater – BUT this all normally evaporates if there’s no BIG AGREEMENT by voters in this case to make it actually happen.

        3. Keith Y Echols

          BUT this all normally evaporates if there’s no BIG AGREEMENT by voters in this case to make it actually happen.

          What is your point?  It’s like saying there’s not point in asking someone to marry them and agreeing to an engagement before the actual marriage.

          Should the unwashed masses be directly involved at all in annexation decisions?  No.  They should simply vote in or out the leaders that produce (or don’t produce) the results they desire.  But we’re stuck with Measure J.  So again, the process is that a project has to get the city onboard (to some degree) before it’s brought to the voters.   The city is a partner with the developer at this point.  So when bargaining with the County…the city and developer have aligned interests.

  3. Sharla Cheney

    Should I base my vote on which campaign leadership irritates most?  As we get closer to Election Day, I find myself unwilling to read or hear about anything related to candidates or measures, knowing that it will start to get ugly.  I usually shut it off a week out, but I see that I need to extend it to a month out.

    1. Keith Y Echols

      Bill, perhaps you can shed some light on this part of the discussion.  In a previous comment, I simply speculated that because the DISC property wasn’t in the Sphere of Influence that perhaps that was a factor in the tax revenue sharing agreement with the county (though I’m guessing it probably has more to do with wanting a bigger cut of a full blown business park than the more heavily residential projects that consume more city resources like WDAAC and NISHI. ).

      This is the last comment in the document about DISC and the sphere.  I think it’s what Don mentioned.

      City of Davis staff have indicated that the City does not wish to change its SOI at this time. On July 7, 2020, the Davis City Council took final action on the Davis Innovation and Sustainability Campus (DISC) which would have required expansion of the City’s SOI to accommodate the project. However, the project was rejected by voters at the November 3, 2020 election. In addition, City staff indicate that the City will embark on a comprehensive General Plan Update process beginning in 2022 which will inform the City’s SOI.

      Therefore, based on consultation with the subject agency and the Municipal Service Review (see MSR

      Checklist item 1b):

      Staff has reviewed the agency’s Sphere of Influence and recommends that a SOI Update is NOT NECESSARY in accordance with Government Code Section 56425(g). Therefore, NO CHANGE to the agency’s SOI is recommended and SOI determinations HAVE NOT been made.

      I’m not sure if this has any direct impact on DISC.  But it does emphasize what many have said about the City needing to get General Plan Update done before (if) more projects get pushed forward for approval and this keeps happening from a planning standpoint in a piecemeal way.

       

      1. Bill Marshall

        Like much of language, the term SOI has changed… in the older General plans, Davis’ extended to CR 29 to the north, to the Bypass on the east… Woodland’s extended down to CR 27 on the south, Bypass to the east…

        The original SOI’s were intended to ‘protect’ cities from County approvals of large development…

        Ironically excluding the DiSC site from the City’s SOI just might mean that the developer/applicant could apply to the County for approvals, skirting a JeRkeD vote, and if approved, City would get possibly 85-90% of impacts, County would possibly get 100% of revenues… food for thought… of course both City and County could deny the rezone/development of the site beyond Ag.

        Combination of financial and political courses of action…

        With the ‘death’ of RDA’s, and the presumed passing of the City/County “pass-through” agreement [sidebar:  an agreement many of the former CC members negotiated, amended from time to time], the ‘negotiated’ agreement makes sense, but I’m talking concept, not necessarily particulars… on the later, it’s beyond my ‘pay-grade’…

        But if I was the owner/applicant/developer, and felt strongly in the project, if the proposition fails, I’d strongly consider going to the County, pointing out it is NOT in the City’s SOI, and looking for my approvals there… but I am not, frankly (although I’m not ‘frankly’) a developer, owner/person who will personally benefit from the outcome of any development on the site…

        That’s my 2 cents, honest, thoughtful, reply to your implied questions… enjoy the mild spring day… I intend to, and no matter how I’ve chosen to vote on H, I’ll not lose sleep over any outcome…

        1. Keith Y Echols

          Ironically excluding the DiSC site from the City’s SOI just might mean that the developer/applicant could apply to the County for approvals, skirting a JeRkeD vote, and if approved, 

          But if I was the owner/applicant/developer, and felt strongly in the project, if the proposition fails, I’d strongly consider going to the County, pointing out it is NOT in the City’s SOI, and looking for my approvals there

          Bill, as far as I can tell from reading the County’s land use stuff; they’re pretty much of the belief that other than some specific unincorporated communities…pretty much all growth/development should be focused on the cities.  So I’m not sure to what degree the county would be open to approving a business park right next to Davis.

          On the other hand, I think more county approved projects may be in the cards for many counties in the future.   With the state pushing for more housing and many cities finding it difficult to keep up with the demands of the HCD or outright refusing.  The next logical step would be to push for more unincorporated communities to expand (and possibly become new cities).  And a logical step would be to tie new commercial development to housing.  Basically if you bring in new jobs you gotta plan for some new housing to go with it.

  4. Bill Marshall

    … as far as I can tell from reading the County’s land use stuff; they’re pretty much of the belief that other than some specific unincorporated communities…pretty much all growth/development should be focused on the cities.

    Yeah, they say it now… they did not say that years ago (pre-pass-through agreement)… think “past performance is no guarantee of future results… “, and “follow the (potential?) $,$$$,$$$”.

    Historically, ‘old’ Willowbank, El Macero Estates, Binning Tract, North Davis Meadows (original & 2), Barthels/Royal Oaks etc., were formerly approved by the County, near the City of Davis… think pendulums… they can ‘swing both ways’… not saying it would happen, but see absolutely no reason why documents couldn’t easily be changed (Davis has only two votes on the County BOS… you only need a ‘threesome’ to change County documents), and ‘stuff’ changes’…

    Mace Ranch Park got annexed to the City under the threat that it would be developed in the County… City would get the impacts, County would get most of the money… that was in the late ’80’s, early 90’s… paraphrasing an old song. “Yolo swings like a pendulum do…”  Given finances, I can easily see a pendulum change…  “I might be wrong, but I don’t think so…”

     

     

  5. Ron Oertel

    On the other hand, I think more county approved projects may be in the cards for many counties in the future.   With the state pushing for more housing and many cities finding it difficult to keep up with the demands of the HCD or outright refusing. 

    The population is DROPPING for the second year, in almost all of the near-coast counties.  (The overall population of the state also dropped for the second year in a row.)  And yet, the state is still requiring those cities to account for plans to “grow”.  Grow, damn it!

    Good luck with that.

    Especially if the state claims that they are attempting to pursue MORE development in a responsible manner, in a state with a declining population.

    The days of big growth are over and done with. The only people who deny this are the Wieners, Newsoms, YIMBYs, and the interests which support them.

    And to some degree, this includes the self-interested UC system itself. “Cancel those loan student debts”, they’re no doubt hoping for. Word is getting-around, regarding the value of some of those degrees.

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