By David M. Greenwald
Davis, CA – Evan Cragin’s piece yesterday caused a stir. It should have. I was out there on Wednesday last week when it happened. I was standing a few feet away and my recorder picked up her heckle and my transcriber caught it clear as anything.
My immediate reaction was disgust. Want to protest a policy or measure you oppose—go for it. There was a small contingent of No on H people with signs at the rally last week. Most of the time, they jockeyed with the Yes on H contingent for position and visibility behind the speakers. No problem.
I start having a problem when you start heckling. It didn’t happen much though, the contingent was well behaved, even civil. Until the end when the young lady, right after Congressman Mike Thompson talks about Pettus Bridge and Selma and walking across with John Lewis, when he finishes she loudly shouts, “Okay, Boomer!”
The comment was dismissive and insulting, but the timing made it all the worse.
I talked with one of the No on H principals afterwards. She was apparently angry that neither Thompson nor his office had responded to her concerns questioning Thompson’s support of Measure H in light of what she saw as Dan Carson attempting to squash free speech with his court action.
She thus became incensed that he was touting his commitment to voting rights in light of that.
She thought that was hypocritical and blurted out, “Okay, Boomer!” but realized later “that it was not the time or place for that.”
That about sums it up. Whether you agree or disagree with her beef, it wasn’t the time or place to make that point, especially in that manner.
As someone with a deep commitment to civil rights, I was moved by the Congressman’s comments and greatly bothered by her actions.
As Evan Cragin put it, “As a Political Science student, I was overjoyed when I transferred to UC Davis, despite knowing I would be one of very few Black students. I identified with Davis’ political culture; its passion for youth involvement, environmental sustainability, and, above all, civil, informed discourse. Every campaign and local representative I have worked with has prioritized civility, social, and racial justice, which is why I was so appalled when Congressman Mike Thompson came to Davis only to be disrespected.”
Cragin later wrote, “The No on H efforts are the same people suing nearly every housing project this decade, disproportionately forcing the working class to compete for severely limited housing. That coalition against new jobs and housing is unsurprisingly overwhelmingly White.”
I’m a bit surprised there wasn’t more blowback on the comments from this—probably before the new policy for commenting it might have generated more.
One person noted to me that the comment “suing nearly every housing project this decade” is false. If we are taking the statement literally, then they are right, nearly every housing project has not been sued.
But I didn’t view it as a literal statement. It was what I might call campaign hyperbole. Even so, five major projects since 2016 have in fact been sued—Nishi (twice), Lincoln40, Trackside, West Davis Active Adult. Given that there have been all sorts of other lawsuits (two hotels have been sued) and a number of threats of lawsuits, the point made here that this has burdened the working class attempting to compete for severely limited housing is accurate.
There is a cost to lawsuits—even when those lawsuits are understandable and justifiable, such as was the case with Trackside. Lord knows the local investors made a large quantity of mistakes in handling the neighborhood and the entitlement process.
It took seven years, however, to get through the process and beat back legal challenges. They had to go to the appellate court to get the Superior Court decision overturned and then it was not over until the Supreme Court declined to hear it earlier this spring.
You might have noticed the for-sale sign. The Sacramento Business Journal last week reported that the property, fully entitled, is now up for sale.
“After seven years of navigating risk and overcoming more challenges and delays than we thought possible, this exit strategy finally provides a financial return to our investors,” Kemble Pope told the Vanguard.
He added, “If not for the legal delays, we would have built the project and it would have been occupied for some time. Don’t forget, I started the Meridian Place process about a year after Trackside and it was delivered September 2018.”
Neighbors questioned whether the building was too large for the location—and they had a valid point. I questioned whether the intended clientele of empty nesters and/or professionals was the greatest need. But while those are valid concerns about the project, the basic fact is that it is yet another example of how difficult it is to build housing in Davis—and how expensive it has become.
I worry greatly about these forces creating a Davis that puts Davis out of reach of the traditional resident and makes it difficult for families to move into this vibrant college town.
I thought the remarks by Mayor Partida yesterday were very poignant.
“The loss of small town living or charm of Davis is probably the most honest reason people oppose growth,” she wrote. She noted that opposition to new housing “means we are willing to have people drive many miles for many minutes so that we save one or two minutes at a light. It means we are willing to squeeze the very community that makes our city what it is, namely the generations of families that know each other, out. It is easier to be willing to insist on these things when you add the virtue of preserving environment as part of the motive.”
The DiSC fight of course comes to an end this evening. As I wrote yesterday, I expect it to be very close. I would lean toward No winning, but wouldn’t be shocked if Yes won.
But after that, it becomes interesting again. The subcommittee of Gloria Partida and Dan Carson are the two seats up for election in November. Both have been unabashed supporters of housing and DiSC. Partida, in East Davis where the project resides, could be vulnerable and Carson, with his bullseye from his legal action, has earned the animosity of those in the slow growth community and perhaps beyond.
So stay tuned, things are only going to heat up more in Davis this year.