Guest Commentary: Why I Support Measure H

Mayor Gloria Partida

By Gloria Partida

The quality of life for residents of a city depend on many things. Levels of crime, the availability of parks, recreation services, ease of commuting. As with any opinion the eye of the beholder drives the assessment of how good any one thing is and by extension what would ruin the goodness of said thing. Many of our conflicts about what is acceptable for growth in Davis hinge on what we find acceptable to our quality of life. Many of the arguments for why measure H would ruin Davis are tied to loss of GHG goals, loss of farmland, loss of time commuting, loss of downtown centric vibrancy, loss of small town living.

The loss of small town living or charm of Davis is probably the most honest reason people oppose growth. Because we, as a collective people, are slow to extend grace, it is difficult to lay our raw motives out for fear they will be judged and dismissed. Being honest also means we must also accept the negative in our motives. To outright say we must preserve no growth at all cost means we are willing to raise taxes to cover our high quality of life rather than diversify our tax base so that more than those able to pay higher taxes can live here. It 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 tension of competing needs and ideas is always difficult to resolve, but I believe they can be resolved when we work collaboratively towards a future that that is inclusive and future facing. Even when that future means change. We have heard the pros and cons of measure H. I obviously am firmly on the pro side. Not because I do not see or understand the arguments for the no side but because I believe the benefits outweigh the impacts. Because I believe the impacts of change, which we will find initially disruptive will become not only a regular part of our landscape but will positively transform our landscape and become more of the Davis culture we are so proud of. A culture that has always faced forward. That has always led not regressed.

I have heard that what we need is a vision plan and an economic plan. We have had those conversations and plans in the past and when the time for implementation happens we become stuck in analysis and fear.  Our world class University continues to challenge us to be a world class town. We have responded by not so politely saying no thank you. We ask for UCD to build housing for their students on their land, to drive their students further (producing more VMT and GHG) so they don’t exit onto our streets, to not have places that will attract students to our shared spaces. I see the University building coffee shops in West Village that do not help our tax base. Those will turn into mini marts, restaurants, gyms and a full University town right up against us with no open space in between that will take a huge piece of our revenue away. This is not a future that speaks to a thriving, vibrant city but to one that slips into mediocrity and decline.

I believe it is possible for us to collaborate on a shared vision that includes, infill, preservation of open space, filling of unused commercial space, transportation management and yes, some growth. Growth must be a part of our vison. If you are not growing you are dying. Growth as a culture drives vibrancy into not just our downtown, but into those unfilled spaces. It can change the math so that infill is actually feasible. It changes our culture so that we are an attractive place for companies to invest and not shy away from. For those that worry about the culture of charm, it also makes it possible for us to stop balancing our upkeep on the backs of homeownership so that grandchildren can live down the street from their grandparents. Yes on measure H is a step in saying yes to a future that is expansive and equitable and here I present my motive.

Equity:  Anne Riley, a professor in the Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health at the Bloomberg School, notes that neighborhoods have a profound effect on the outcomes of children.

“I think this is a wakeup call for understanding the power of neighborhoods to contribute to the crime and behavior problems that we see in our society,”  I believe it is our moral obligation to ensure we do not price people, especially young families out living in a place like Davis. We can mitigate the open space, the traffic the GHG. We will need to work harder to do it but our children and the children of others are worth it.

Shortly after I moved to Davis I had a set of nieces that came to stay with me. There mother had just passed away of AIDS and they were trying to find their footing. They were 11 and 12 at the time. Just as Davis has had been an open door to opportunity for me and my family and had set us on a path that was not limited by poverty and violence their experience living with me opened the same doors. I recall a road trip back to southern California where we stopped at a fast food restaurant and one of my nieces said can you not put this in Styrofoam because my aunt is trying to save the planet. They, despite difficult circumstance, managed to do extremely well. One has worked up the ranks of UCD without any real education and has managed to buy a home in Spring Lake where she regularly reminds people to drive slowly because there are children on the street. These are not the only people in my family that have relocated and have had their lives exponentially improved by having their zip codes change. This is the positive effect Dr. Riley has studied.

It goes beyond what the neighborhoods give to the children though. It is also about what the children give to the wider world. It produces people that are aware of and have extra resources to spend on saving the environment. Producing these people is just as important as preventing them from living here.

Gloria Partida is Mayor of Davis

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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10 Comments

  1. Ron Oertel

    The loss of small town living or charm of Davis is probably the most honest reason people oppose growth. Because we, as a collective people, are slow to extend grace, it is difficult to lay our raw motives out for fear they will be judged and dismissed. Being honest also means we must also accept the negative in our motives.

    I’d suggest not “guessing” what other people’s motives are, especially when you claim that they’re exhibiting a lack of “grace”.  But if you’d like, I’m sure that opponents can put forth some speculation of the “pro-DiSC side”, as well.

    My personal motivation primarily has to do with preserving prime farmland, outside of a logical boundary for the city.  Traffic is also a concern, but I sort of view that as “karma” for anyone that supports DiSC.

    Can’t answer for anyone else.

    It 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.

    That’s exactly what DiSC would cause – more people commuting into Davis, from other communities.  The EIR itself notes this.  There’s a reason that some 2,000 plus parking spaces are planned.

    That’s what happens when you promise to add 2,500 jobs, but only 460 housing units.  Many of which would not even be occupied by those working at the site.

    We ask for UCD to build housing for their students on their land, to drive their students further (producing more VMT and GHG) so they don’t exit onto our streets, to not have places that will attract students to our shared spaces. 

    Not following this.  How does asking UCD to accommodate their “invited guests” (as another commenter put it) “drive students further” (as you put it)? 

    Isn’t on-campus housing as “close as students can get” to their primary destination?

    And what does that have to do with DiSC, anyway?

    it also makes it possible for us to stop balancing our upkeep on the backs of homeownership so that grandchildren can live down the street from their grandparents.

    By “down the street”, I assume you mean Woodland (and other surrounding communities), since DiSC creates a housing shortage.  What other “down the street” do you have in mind?

    They, despite difficult circumstance, managed to do extremely well. One has worked up the ranks of UCD without any real education and has managed to buy a home in Spring Lake where she regularly reminds people to drive slowly because there are children on the street.

    You said it.  There’s your “down the street”.

    I recall a road trip back to southern California where we stopped at a fast food restaurant and one of my nieces said can you not put this in Styrofoam because my aunt is trying to save the planet. 

    And yet, you support a freeway-oriented business park outside of a logical boundary for the city. And one that creates a housing shortage, to boot.

    How much styrofoam production to you think that equates to?

    I’m surprised that you and others continue to put forth beliefs like this.

    It’s not even a point of view – it’s a denial of reality.

     

     

     

    1. Ron Oertel

      But at least you didn’t join your colleague in personally-suing opponents, backed by the developer.  Somehow, I don’t think it’s likely that you would do so.

      So, thanks for that at least – I guess?

  2. Richard_McCann

    What Ron O’s motivations are are not relevant–he is a resident of Davis and had no role in decision making or voting in this community.

  3. Keith Y Echols

    . I see the University building coffee shops in West Village that do not help our tax base. Those will turn into mini marts, restaurants, gyms and a full University town right up against us with no open space in between that will take a huge piece of our revenue away. This is not a future that speaks to a thriving, vibrant city but to one that slips into mediocrity and decline.

    I have said as much in the past as well.  Though on this blog I am famously (infamously?) known for being anti-student in Davis; I have advocated for the development of a student quarter in the city.  The goal of a student quarter isn’t to simply house all the poor students that attend a billion dollar university.  No it’s to capture sales tax revenue (which the Mayor points out as a potential issue) from students.   It blows my mind how something like Identity a new multi-story student housing building on Russell Blvd.  doesn’t have a bottom level (or bottom two levels) of retail for student entertainment.

    Here’s what I would like to ask of the leaders of the city:  What do the current residents of Davis get out of all these plans for growth?  I’d like to see some goals before I see all this grand planning.  I’ll start with an easy layup;  city fiscal stability.  So okay once the city’s fiscal situation is eventually stabilized what do the residents of Davis get for it?  An accelerated schedule for fixing roads?  Improved roads?  More rec services for residents?  I get that a static no growth policy will likely lead to a stagnant culture and possible future decay.  But that’s not a good enough (or tangible) enough of a reason for promoting growth.  There’s a cost for growth.  Losing those nice farm fields.  More people crowding the community.  More cars on the streets.  So make a case to the existing residence in Davis for sacrificing their current standard of living for something new and bigger.

    Me personally, I’m not anti-growth.  But I want a good reason for it.  I have my reasons but I think many need to hear them beyond vague and nebulous city fiscal issues and kumbaya happy growth vibes.

     

    1. Richard_McCann

      What do the current residents of Davis get out of all these plans for growth? I’d like to see some goals before I see all this grand planning. 

      That’s why we need a visioning process. We are going to have to dramatically change many aspects of our community in any case to both reduce GHG emissions and to accommodate the climate extremes that are already rolling in (5″ in a day, anyone?) This all should drive us toward a bigger conversation rather than just passively accepting whatever someone dreams up or drifting into decay.

      1. Keith Y Echols

         We are going to have to dramatically change many aspects of our community in any case to both reduce GHG emissions and to accommodate the climate extremes that are already rolling in (5″ in a day, anyone?)

        I’m all for doing whatever makes sense fiscally and environmentally.  But environmental initiatives to me have to prove that they will actually have a local impact.  It does no good if Davis does all these environmental measures by itself.  Then it’s just pointless virtue signaling to the rest of the region.

    1. Ron Oertel

      What Ron O’s motivations are are not relevant–he is a resident of Davis and had no role in decision making or voting in this community.

      Again, not sure what your continued doxing attempts have to do with any of the points made.  I have never discussed where I live or any other connection I may have to Davis.

      Don Shor, Don Gibson, the DiSC developers, some of the city staff don’t live in Davis.  As I recall, “Craig Ross” also said that he does not live in Davis. And yet, you don’t seem concerned about that, even when some of them comment on here.

      (Dan Carson actually appointed Don Gibson to the city’s housing element committee, to boot.)

      But a lot of those whom would be employed at DiSC (assuming that it’s successful) would be living in Woodland (e.g., as in Gloria’s cited example) – where you “won’t need to care what they think”, per your own (and Gloria’s) advocacy.

      For that matter, a large number of current students don’t live in Davis, either.  They live on campus, where they can’t even vote in city elections.  Given your view, why would you care about them, in regard to city planning?

      For that matter, what percentage of students actually “want” to live in Davis, after graduating?

      Why the “selective” caring?

    2. Ron Oertel

      And as far as the letter-writer is concerned, she does state that she lives in Davis.  She does not state where she works, however.

      So in this one example, there’s two possibilities:

      1)  She lives and works in Davis.  (In which case, there’s no stated problem that she’s attempting to resolve via an industrial, freeway-oriented business park.)

      2)  She lives in Davis, and works elsewhere.  (In which case, that could be viewed as an argument to move closer to where her job is located, which would also help “free up” housing in “oh-so-desirable” Davis.)

      Am I missing something, or is there some kind of ludicrous third option that would bolster your argument?

      But again, I don’t know why the folks who normally cry “housing shortage” are advocating for one, in the form of DiSC.

      No matter how many times this is pointed out, the response is “crickets”. (Periodically, responses are put forth which make even less sense than no response at all.)

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