My View: DiSC Failed, Now What?

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Davis, CA – DiSC failed for a second time last week and, while the numbers aren’t all in, there is no way the outcome is changing.  Here’s the thing—”no” is not a long-term viable strategy.  Why?  Because the same problems that existed before still exist.  All “no” did was close off a path to solving the problem, it did not solve the problem.

That’s the real problem here.  The problems that this community face are at the same time acute and masked by the overall prosperity of the community.  Lack of revenue, lack of housing for families, lack of resources to continue to keep up our quality of life and our schools are all just below the surface, and for the last decade or two we have been able to survive because of our overall affluence—but just because we have survived, it does not mean we are currently prospering.

For UC Davis, they already were not counting on Davis.  That’s why they were only lukewarm toward this and the preceding project.  They have put most of their eggs into expanding into Sacramento where they have a supportive council and don’t have to contend with a hostile community and Measure J.

UC Davis is perhaps the UC best positioned to take off in the 21st Century.  They have room to grow, but I think what we are going to see is more student enrollment in Davis and more investment in Sacramento—the worst of both worlds if you are Davis, because we will have to contend with the impacts of enrollment growth without a lot of the benefits.

From Davis’ perspective, what is the alternative to DiSC?  Just as I don’t think we will infill our way out of our housing and affordable housing problems (to paraphrase City Manager Mike Webb), I also don’t see a viable strategy to infill our way out of our lack of innovation space.

All we have to do is read the Studio 30 report from a decade ago to realize why an internal strategy does not work.

The report concluded: “The current isolated and dispersed sites that are available and appropriately zoned are not adequate in terms of size, location, or configuration (and related constraints) to address the emerging market need of an Innovation Center.”

It explains, “With available reasonably priced land and effective marketing to innovative high tech companies, Studio 30 estimates Davis could absorb up to 10 percent or around 100,000 square feet of the 1-1.5 million industrial/office square footage absorbed annually in the Sacramento region. Because of this Studio 30 estimates Davis needs at least 200 acres for business development and expansion over a 20 +/- year time horizon.”

DISC 2020 provided that 200 acres.  DiSC 2022 would have provided half that.

The recommendation at that time: “Land Use Strategies Studio 30’s research suggests that the City pursue a broad strategy to attract innovative businesses that offers a number of sites that are scalable and range in size so the community can accommodate an incubator, startups and expanding businesses. Some should be directly in contact with the University. This mix of small and large sites allows the city the flexibility to successfully attract, grow and retain innovation businesses. External sites have the potential to support the most jobs because of their size and ability to accommodate a wider variety of both size and type of businesses.”

The study conducted at that time did not see sufficient space to pursue an internal strategy.  That has not changed in the ten years since the report has been released—if anything, it has gotten worse.

Some have been recommending we undertake a new economic development plan.  I have been extremely skeptical of that approach.

First, I have seen it largely as a delay tactic.  Look how long it has taken for us to do and approve the downtown plan.

Second, as noted above, it is not clear to me why we need to do another plan when the Studio 30 and Innovation Park Task Force report are all relatively recent and the basic facts on the ground remain the same.

Third, while it is noted that there has not been community consensus moving forward from the 2010-12 process, what makes anyone believe that will improve going forward?  The community remains just as divided and that probably will not change.

I have seen arguments that we don’t need a “massive” business park outside of town and the city has existed “this long without it.”

One of the big problems, I believe, is in fact the failure of leadership from the council on the issue of economic sustainability.  I remember a decade ago when the city polled the citizens ahead of a possible parcel tax and found that the vast majority of residents thought our fiscal situation was fair to good.

As much as a certain councilmember has been and will face blame for the demise of DiSC 2022, the bigger picture is that the council has never really made a long and concerted effort to educate the community on our fiscal challenges.

The result is that four ballot measures that aimed to address some of the ongoing financial shortfall have now failed—Nishi in 2016 with a small R&D component, the parcel tax in 2018, DISC in 2020 and now 2022.

Back in 2020, as he was leaving, City Manager Steve Pinkerton went to service organizations, neighborhood associations and community groups to present to them about the city’s faltering fiscal situation.

Since then, that has not happened.  In fact, since then, the message has been largely just the opposite.  While Robb Davis warned about the need for cost containment, the city council has steadily approved budgets for COLAs for city employees, and in recent years approved expensive spending projects—including the ladder truck—that are of questionable need.

Whether you can justify having such a truck or not, the message is clear—you are claiming that we need new revenue but you are spending money before it even comes in.

So what happens?  In the short term, nothing.  This is still a pot of boiling water that is being slowly heated.  It’s a bit like climate change.  The changes are at first imperceptible.  We have a population of voters who are largely homeowners from decades ago who didn’t have to purchase their homes for $800,000 and whose families are long since grown.

The next generation is more precarious.  Younger families do not have housing and cannot afford to move here.  Schools have declining enrollment.  The local economy other than the university lacks jobs and spinoff jobs are increasingly going elsewhere, not to Davis.  Our ability to pay for infrastructure is stretched thin.

The core of this community therefore is losing something, but slowly enough that people do not see the alarm.  We all like our small town, lack of traffic, lack of social problems, but that has changed dramatically even in the 25 years I have lived here, and that will change even more during the next decade.

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Related posts

41 Comments

  1. Don Shor

    Given the way recriminations are flying after this last election and the level of polarization that now dominates political discourse locally, I don’t think economic development is going to be on the council’s radar for the next year or so at least.

     

    1. David Greenwald

      Depends what you mean by that.  If a project comes up, they can’t just ignore.  In terms of economic development in the abstract, at some point they are going to address a General Plan Update and it will be there as well.

  2. Jim Frame

    “Because of this Studio 30 estimates Davis needs at least 200 acres for business development and expansion over a 20 +/- year time horizon.”
    DISC 2020 provided that 200 acres.  DiSC 2022 would have provided half that.

    DISC 2020 provided about half of that 200 acres:  101.9 ac.  The remainder of the 194 acres on the site went into housing (27.4 ac.), parks, ag buffer, easements and roadways.

    DiSC 2022 provided about 1/4 of that 200  acres:  51.1 ac.  The remainder was similarly distributed as above.

    Granted, any commercial development is going to lose some of its gross area to roads and such, but trying to sell either of the DISC versions as fulfilling the goal of the Studio 30 report doesn’t work for me.  Propose a cutting-edge business park there and I’ll be inclined to support it; propose housing there and I’ll likely oppose.  (Make all of the proposed housing affordable and I’ll reconsider, but watch out for all the pigs flying around.)

    1. Keith Y Echols

        Propose a cutting-edge business park there and I’ll be inclined to support it; propose housing there and I’ll likely oppose. 

      I’m thinking that a business park doesn’t get built in Davis without housing.  I think the housing component of a project offsets the financial risk of developing a business park that is subject to a Measure J.    No company is going to commit to space at a new business park that is subject to an annexation vote; especially in a town that has yet to  vote to annex and build a business park.   So a project with housing in a a region where housing is in short supply is the financial guarantee that financiers will look for.

      1. Don Shor

        I’m thinking that a business park doesn’t get built in Davis without housing.

        The vote results for Nishi 1 and DISC 1 and 2 suggest that a business park with housing won’t get built, either.
        We need to get away from this mindset that people want to live in business parks. IMO the housing component dragged down the DISC project. It also yields less revenue for the city, which was the whole point of the 10+-year process of seeking a peripheral business park.

        1. Matt Williams

          We need to get away from this mindset that people want to live in business parks.

          .
          Don’s comment needs some context.  If you are thinking “people” in a generic sense, then Don is correct; however, if “people” means the typical employee of a high tech startup, then I believe Don is wrong.  When you were in your early to mid 20’s working 12 hour days for sweat equity in the start-up, being able to roll out of your bed and walk a very short distance to your workplace to put in another 12 hour day, is ideal.  Working in direct proximity to your workplace is very frequently part of the entrepreneurial ethos.  The efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity of that kind of immersion into your job is the rule rather than the exception in start-ups.

          My concern about an innovation park in Davis without that kind of housing is that the executives of companies looking to locate in Davis are going to be asking “Where are my employees going to live?”

          DiSC 2022 abandoned all pretense that the housing in their project was for the workers.  Having the issuance of building permits for housing tied to commercial leases would have been a step in the right direction, and having the commercial tenants able to sign master leases for the housing so that their workers would be served by the housing would have been another step in the right direction.

           

          1. Don Shor

            Well, sure. I don’t have any problem with integrating some residential units within the commercial buildings themselves. I delivered plants for a patio on a loft residence of one of the 2nd Street commercial buildings. Great view, the breeze was fantastic, and they told me it was very quiet at night. I don’t think they even needed a variance for that. But we don’t need hundreds of stand-alone houses in a commercial district.

            the executives of companies looking to locate in Davis are going to be asking “Where are my employees going to live?”

            In a nearby housing development.

        2. Keith Y Echols

          Don, you’re missing my point.  I’m not talking about the voters. Business parks with housing are likely necessary for FINANCING the project in Davis.  No financing.  No project.  No need to bother with a voter or campaign.

          You can sell the voters almost anything if you structure it correctly and even more importantly message it correctly.  The YES campaign were morons in their the messaging with the voters.  I’ve said before that I was mostly in favor of the project and I thought very little of the YES campaign every time I interacted with them.  The key to getting a project approved is to tell the voters what they get out of it.  Simply saying the city is getting tax revenue isn’t going to cut it.  You have to tell voters specifically what they are going to get and if necessary tie some of that revenue directly to specific things.  Like traffic management/roads. Security/police/social services.  Rec services….etc…   tie some of the future potential tax revenue to those things and then say: Vote for H!  and Improve Roads!  Better Traffic!  Better Community Security/Services!  Better Parks/Safer Trees!

          1. Don Shor

            Business parks with housing are likely necessary for FINANCING the project in Davis. No financing. No project. No need to bother with a voter or campaign.

            So pardon my ignorance, but how, then, do business parks get built without housing? I mean, we see them, they exist, they seem to function. Why is it possible elsewhere but not here?

        3. Keith Y Echols

          Why is it possible elsewhere but not here?

          Because of Measure J.  Why would anyone (bank, equity investor…or possible future tenant) back a project that has to get past voters who have shown no history of backing business park projects?  To the outside world (outside of Davis); Davis is an economic no fly zone…unless you’re catering to students.  In most other cities a business park goes through the normal (already risky) process of annexation.  Land development as an investment is already risky…it’s like the venture capital of real estate investment.  But adding on a Measure J vote is like investing in seed stage (early stage start up) companies with lottery tickets.  But if you throw in housing….given the state of the housing market (at least up until the last month or so), the housing shortage…etc… a housing project will add some likely reduction in financial risk to the project….because you know those houses are going to sell and probably sell at a significant premium.  That reduction in investment risk can help to get financiers onboard to fund the project.

        4. Ron Oertel

          because you know those houses are going to sell and probably sell at a significant premium.

          That demonstrates market demand for housing, not a business park.

          Interestingly-enough, the site of the Davis Innovation Center was approved for housing (in the form of WDAAC), after the innovation center failed (on its own accord).

          And yet, some claimed that voters would favor a business park, over housing via a Measure J vote.  (Turns out that was just a bunch of noise.)  Seems like folks look for every hair-brained opportunity that arises to blame Measure J for “something” or other.

          Of course, Measure J doesn’t explain the reason that the failed Davis Innovation Center added 1,600 housing units after its “move” to Woodland.  (To a site that was previously zoned strictly for commercial development – years ago.)

          Of course, Measure J also doesn’t explain the reason that the owners of The Cannery flat-out refused to consider a commercial development, and have been trying ever since to eliminate the small amount that was planned there.

          Nor does it explain the decision by Nishi to abandon the commercial component of that development. (Which some suspect was only included to bypass Affordable housing requirements in the first place.)

          Regarding Nishi, voters weren’t “rejecting” the commercial component. They were rejecting additional traffic at Olive and Richards.

          64% of the voters rejected DiSC, as of now. With a pretty healthy turnout, at that.

          Seems to me that the “innovation center” advocates might want to find something more-productive to do with their time.

        5. Jim Frame

          Why would anyone (bank, equity investor…or possible future tenant) back a project that has to get past voters who have shown no history of backing business park projects?

          Because the market analysis says it’ll make everyone involved a lot of money.  And if the market analysis doesn’t say that, then the market doesn’t really value a business park in Davis.  And if the market doesn’t really value it — sees it only as a commodity that can be had for less in West Sacramento — then I’d rather they go to West Sacramento instead of building more houses for wealthy Bay Area retirees in Davis.

          We’ve been told repeatedly that proximity to UCD has value.  If that value is so small that a business park without housing isn’t feasible, then it’s too small to worry about.

          As to where the employees of a business park are  supposed to live, I see the question of housing in Davis as much larger than where DiSC employees are going reside, and essentially separate from the question of economic development.  The housing question as very complex, since the market doesn’t appear to want to build housing for the income levels that need it most.  Solving that problem is going to be tough enough with focused effort; trying to solve it by including housing in an economic development project is foolish.  They’re separate problems, and should be treated as such.

           

        6. Matt Williams

          As to where the employees of a business park are  supposed to live, I see the question of housing in Davis as much larger than where DiSC employees are going reside, and essentially separate from the question of economic development.  The housing question as very complex, since the market doesn’t appear to want to build housing for the income levels that need it most.  Solving that problem is going to be tough enough with focused effort; trying to solve it by including housing in an economic development project is foolish.  They’re separate problems, and should be treated as such.

          .
          The bolded part of Jim Frame’s comment is the crucial part, but I would replace the words “the market” with the word “developers”

          The home buyers in the market want to buy a home for as low a price as possible as long as the home has the features they desire. That is true regardless of the income of the home buyer.

          Developers want to build houses that will make them the most money.  The houses they want to build rarely are “affordable” by the “income levels that need it most.”

          In a nearby housing development.

          .
          In the survey that the City of Davis conducted just before COVID arrived, the #1 issue was “housing affordability.”  New homes in a nearby housing development are not going to address that #1 problem.  In today’s CalMatters column, Dan Walters says:

          “The state’s median home price of $834,000 — nearly twice the national figure — means that only a quarter of California families can afford such a home, those with household incomes of $160,000 and above.”

          Combined, the above information does a pretty good job of defining the housing challenge that Davis faces … finding a way to make the average price of any new homes built in Davis no more than $600,000 … ideally no more than $500,000.  Developers are not going to do that for us.  We are going to have to work with Sacramento to find funding sources that can be directed toward accomplishing that task.

          The long and successful history of affordable housing  projects in Davis … often co-operatives … gives us a clue about where to start.  The developer of these affordable projects frequently starts with a land price of $0.  Working with Sacramento to explore the possibilities of using some of the State’s budget surplus dollars to purchase land that is then dedicated to a new affordable housing project, is well worth exploring.  Aggie Village on First Street is affordable because the home buyers do not buy the land, only the dwelling.  That may be a model that is well worth pursuing in order to keep the homes permanently affordable..

        7. Ron Oertel

          We’ve been told repeatedly that proximity to UCD has value.  If that value is so small that a business park without housing isn’t feasible, then it’s too small to worry about.

          Good point, but DiSC did not have “proximity” to UCD in the first place.

          The “Davis Innovation Center” was closer, before it “moved” 7 miles up Highway 113 (and added 1,600 planned housing units, in the process).

          As to where the employees of a business park are  supposed to live, I see the question of housing in Davis as much larger than where DiSC employees are going reside, and essentially separate from the question of economic development. 

          As far as younger, somewhat less-wealthy families are concerned, they’re already living in Spring Lake.  And it’s still under construction.  More of them will be living at the 1,600 housing units discussed above.

          UCD itself is likely the largest employer in Yolo county.  Davis itself is “irrelevant” compared to that.

          What, exactly – is the “problem” that’s supposed to be addressed?

          But even in places such as Spring Lake, a “normal” (single-family dwelling) costs around $600K and up.  Though with the housing market “cooling off” (read “crash”), let’s see if that pace continues.

          One thing for sure – no one wants to purchase a house that’s declining in value, just as they don’t want to purchase declining stocks.

          In other words, folks seem to like to “buy high”, and “sell low”.

          The housing question as very complex, since the market doesn’t appear to want to build housing for the income levels that need it most.  Solving that problem is going to be tough enough with focused effort; trying to solve it by including housing in an economic development project is foolish.  They’re separate problems, and should be treated as such.

          I have a broader question, than this.  How many “poor people” should a given community plan to house, in regard to the fiscal impacts?  And is the problem actually “not enough” housing, or a discrepancy between income/resources, vs. housing costs (for the “type” of housing preferred)?

          What population is being targeted, with this type of goal? Are we referring to people who would *potentially* move TO Davis, if they could score a “normal, single-family house” for $600K?

          If so, good luck with that. Nor do I know what the purpose is, in regard to those who might move to Davis.

          See the comment above regarding the minimum $600K for a “normal” single-family house in Spring Lake, for example.

          Again, I ask what the supposed “problem” to be solved actually is. As well as its fiscal impacts, if pursued.

          And at what point would the development activists consider the “problem” to be “solved”? (Again, the problem itself hasn’t even been defined, let alone the viability of a solution.) What metric is to be used, here?

        8. Richard_McCann

          Ron O

          … And you’re wrong about Measure J not creating all of that housing in Woodland’s business park and elsewhere. Measure J creates a scarcity of housing in Davis so whenever the opportunity to build housing in close proximity to Davis (including in Woodland where you live) housing is added in with whatever justification is possible. Keith E is entirely correct that Measure J makes business parks so much riskier here that the developers need to throw in the more stable revenue with assured demand built in (due to the scarcity created by Measure J) to finance a project.

  3. Matt Williams

    For UC Davis, they already were not counting on Davis.  That’s why they were only lukewarm toward this and the preceding project.  They have put most of their eggs into expanding into Sacramento where they have a supportive council and don’t have to contend with a hostile community and Measure J.

    In my opinion the biggest reason UCD has focused on Sacramento is because their Medical School faculty there are much, much, much more entrepreneurial than the Davis Campus faculty is.  The reasons for that is pretty simple.  First, new developments in human medicine have much more immediate potential value in Returns on Investment.  Second, medical doctors are by nature entrepreneurial, and don’t see the advances of one of their peers as a threat to their standing in the University’s political pecking order.  That produces a “go for it” culture on the Sacramento campus.  For the most part that same culture does not exist on the Davis campus.

    JMO

  4. Matt Williams

    The report concluded: “The current isolated and dispersed sites that are available and appropriately zoned are not adequate in terms of size, location, or configuration (and related constraints) to address the emerging market need of an Innovation Center.”

    .
    There is a HUGE flaw in the Studio 30 report (it really isn’t an analysis), there is absolutely NO evidence that supports the presence of an “emerging market need” for an Innovation Center.  No market segment analysis.  No absorption projections based on experience in other markets with agricultural universities like UC Davis.  Nothing from Ames.  Nothing from Ithaca. Nothing from West Lafayette.  Nothing from Madison.

    1. Richard_McCann

      Some have been recommending we undertake a new economic development plan.  I have been extremely skeptical of that approach.
      First, I have seen it largely as a delay tactic.  Look how long it has taken for us to do and approve the downtown plan.
      Second, as noted above, it is not clear to me why we need to do another plan when the Studio 30 and Innovation Park Task Force report are all relatively recent and the basic facts on the ground remain the same.
      Third, while it is noted that there has not been community consensus moving forward from the 2010-12 process, what makes anyone believe that will improve going forward?  The community remains just as divided and that probably will not change.

      I agree with Matt the Studio 30 study was inadequate. Identifying potential spaces without delving into what businesses could and should be in those spaces isn’t an economic development plan. The Innovation Park Task Force similarly was short  on vision. There was no consensus to form around. (BTW, Pinkerton left in 2014, not 2020, and that’s a long time ago now.) That lack of vision is why Anya and I wrote the Vanguard article in 2018 about one potential vision built around a sustainable food economy. There needs to be bigger community buy in, without focusing on what commercial property is available where, before we both update the General Plan and consider further projects. That community discussion needs to include why its important to have this discussion. Other than platitudes, we really haven’t been presented a coherent, compelling case since at least 2014, and maybe not since the 1990s.

        1. Richard_McCann

          Yes, but we won’t know until we try. I honestly have not seen a true conversation about this. The only voice I’ve heard that truly objects to any added economic activity that is properly focused is Ron Oertel’s, and he doesn’t live here. (That’s why allowing him to post here is so counterproductive–he’s not representative and not a valid stakeholder.) The various individuals in Davis who generally object to new projects I know fairly well (and are regular contributors to the Davisite), and I believe that they are willing to engage in this discussion. The important factor is not to just leave the choice of which businesses show up to a private developer or property owner. Their choices need to be directed and constrained in various ways. It might even be that the anti-project faction endorses a project if certain elements are agreed to. Creating a set of sustainability and social welfare guidelines to be included in the baseline features is another solution that can gain support. We just have never even begun to try these solutions.

          1. Don Shor

            The important factor is not to just leave the choice of which businesses show up to a private developer or property owner. Their choices need to be directed and constrained in various ways. It might even be that the anti-project faction endorses a project if certain elements are agreed to. Creating a set of sustainability and social welfare guidelines to be included in the baseline features is another solution that can gain support.

            I’m not quite following this. Zoning determines the nature of the business at a site. Are there other criteria you want to apply? What do you mean by sustainability and social welfare guidelines?

        2. Ron Oertel

          That’s why allowing him to post here is so counterproductive–he’s not representative and not a valid stakeholder.)

          Again, you don’t know that – and those are two separate things. Though no one is a complete “representative” of someone else’s views in the first place.

          And frankly, it’s none of your business. The Vanguard doesn’t require commenters to disclose or discuss anything about themselves, other than their name.

          As far as being “counterproductive”, you can always just ignore what I write. (In fact, you previously mentioned that you were doing so, but apparently you can’t resist.)

        3. Matt Williams

          Is there even a possibility of consensus?

          .
          It really depends on how you define consensus.  But I agree wholeheartedly with Richard that (1) we won’t know until we try, and (2) I have not seen a true conversation about it.

          What we have seen is a unilateral autocracy … with a very small proportion of the population attempting to impose its will on the rest of the city..

          The important factor is not to just leave the choice of which businesses show up to a private developer or property owner. Their choices need to be directed and constrained in various ways.

          .
          That is so well said that it deserves to be said twice (and again and again and again thereafter).

          I’m not quite following this. Zoning determines the nature of the business at a site. Are there other criteria you want to apply? What do you mean by sustainability and social welfare guidelines?

          .
          In principle what Don has said makes a lot of sense.  The problem here in Davis is that we abandoned the principles of Zoning decades ago.  To see proof of that, all one has to do is go to the counter in the Community Development department in City Hall and look at the large Zoning map that is on the counter under a sheet of plexiglass.  The most frequent Zoning designation on that map is “PD,” which stands for “Planned Development.”  Why? because no one … not the developers, not the City employees … has made any effort to abide by the rules of the Zoning Code.  Everything is subject to negotiation, and the result is that Council approves General Plan Exceptions for almost 100% of the proposed development and/or redevelopment projects.

          How do you spell ANARCHY?

        4. Richard_McCann

          Don

          Form based zoning, which is the new approach that is being used in the Downtown Plan, the type of business isn’t determined as specifically by the zoning code. The Downtown Plan does envision to a certain extent the type of businesses to be attracted, and that same exercise can be done in the General Plan update. Sustainability and resilience is one aspect. (See the article by Anya and me that describes this approach. [David, can you please add us to the authors index so I can easily find these articles?]) Social welfare is another important aspect. (Turns out Milton Friedman badly erred in asserting that business management should only care about shareholders. He ignored the importance of corporations as cornerstone social institutions.) All of these factors should be in the economic vision, General Plan and baseline features standards for new developments.

  5. Jim Frame

    Again, I ask what the supposed “problem” to be solved actually is.

    In my opinion, the goal is for everyone who works in Davis to be able to find and afford a home in Davis if they want one.   Not necessarily buy a house — some jobs will never support home ownership — but a home appropriate to their circumstances.  (“Home” in this context running the gamut from mobile homes to apartments to co-ops to condos to single-family houses.)  In other words, jobs-housing balance.

    I don’t expect that goal ever to be fully attained, but we’ve got a lot of room for improvement.

    1. Ron Oertel

      My question weren’t really directed at you in particular, but I appreciate the response regardless. (I just used your comments to try to bring up larger questions.)

      Your goal sounds reasonable, though I’m not sure if that can actually be measured.  For that matter, it might have already been “achieved”- as far as it is actually achievable.  People move in and out of housing and jobs all the time.

      Davis has (relatively) expensive housing, but is not really a job center.  UCD is a primary employer, as is downtown Sacramento.  (Including for those living in Davis.)

      In other words, Davis probably shouldn’t be anyone’s first choice to pursue a career, unless it’s with one of the relatively few higher-paying companies/entities.  So if you’re commuting to Davis for a low-paying job (but living elsewhere), this doesn’t seem like the best choice to make.

      Davis is a great town to live in (for the valley, at least), while commuting to places like downtown Sacramento.  But downtown Sacramento itself is not very appealing to live in – at least not in my view.

      I’d hate to think that anyone is stuck in a low-paying job (anywhere), on a permanent basis.

      But this is one of the reasons for concern regarding DiSC.  That is, it would have created more demand for local housing (causing even more people to have to “commute” to Davis.)

      My question (for general thought) is how much any given city should be expected to pursue/support Affordable housing, since it is exempt from many of the taxes (and may be occupied by those who simultaneously rely upon a lot of local services – such as local schools).

      While the occupants usually don’t have many resources/funds to help support a city, itself.

      There just seems to be a push for “more”, without really defining or measuring anything.  While citing statewide statistics, which aren’t going to be much impacted by what a given city approves.

      For that matter, it seems inefficient (in many ways) to house low-income workers in high-cost cities.  Seems like this is the most expensive option that can possibly be pursued (regardless of method used). And ultimately, it’s a subsidy for employers, themselves.

      I’m a bigger fan of rent control (compared to Affordable housing), as it doesn’t permanently-limit an individual’s ability to earn more money as their career progresses.  Nor does it have other restrictions, such as a requirement to continue working for a given employee.

      I see Affordable housing as a potential trap for the occupants, themselves.

      Just my thoughts, anyway.

    2. Richard_McCann

      A failure to acknowledge that there’s a housing problem here and that Davis is a dynamic local economic engine for the regional economy that has a responsibility to provide jobs associated with the university is the trait of someone unfamiliar with the Davis community and the issues that it faces.

  6. Don Shor

    With respect to housing, the next big push is going to be for workforce housing. I suggest David will need to make a post and sticky it to the top which defines affordable housing vs workforce housing, since they aren’t the same thing.

    There are many workers in the service and retail industries in Davis who need housing. It is likely to be rental housing at the lower end of the pay scale (retail, restaurant, home cleaning, etc.). It could be home ownership for those in the professional services, education, and public safety (teachers, police, firefighters), but only if the next housing subdivision includes a range of housing prices.

    A two-income household at, say, teacher’s pay could qualify for a home loan, but there’s almost no inventory for them in Davis. If they want a house with a yard, they’re buying in Woodland, Dixon, or West Sac.

    As for commercial development, the entire peripheral strategy is now gone. So what’s left is redevelopment in the city limits. That won’t be sufficient for the city’s fiscal needs, so tax increases are likely.

    Here are some of the research centers at UCD that are churning out graduates and possibly spinning off business startups. 
    https://caes.ucdavis.edu/research/centers.
    Hard to say where those graduates will now live and work, or where the startups will go.

    1. Ron Oertel

      A two-income household at, say, teacher’s pay could qualify for a home loan, but there’s almost no inventory for them in Davis. If they want a house with a yard, they’re buying in Woodland, Dixon, or West Sac.

      There’d be less need for teachers, if they chose to “right-size” the school system to coincide with the actual, Davis-generated “need”.

      As it is, I suspect that a significant number of newer teachers live in Spring Lake, and take their kids with them to Davis schools.

      And, they aren’t going to move to Davis – regardless.  And that will remain the case for any additional hires, as well (assuming that the school district continues to resist “right-sizing” the Davis school system.)

      Enrollment is dropping throughout California – including in Woodland and Yolo county.

      So if there’s a “problem”, perhaps its with school districts themselves (regarding their self-interested resistance regarding reality).

      Eventually (no matter how hard they kick and scream), they’ll be forced to confront reality.

    2. Richard_McCann

      I disagree that peripheral commercial development is now gone, but it will be more difficult. It will require proactively recruiting developers with an approach that provides much more assurance of approval. Our passive acceptance of whomever shows up isn’t going to work so we need to change the direction of this ship. Increased taxes may be the threat that gets some traction. I said to Keith E in the other blog thread, we need to agree on the problems to be solved as part of this visioning process.

      1. David Greenwald

        I think you’re part right here. The city is probably going to have to figure out a pre approval to get commercial. That’s going to be difficult to sell to the voters as long as Measure J remains.

        1. Don Shor

          It will require proactively recruiting developers with an approach that provides much more assurance of approval.

          The city is probably going to have to figure out a pre approval to get commercial.

          I don’t see a way forward with these ideas.

          1. Don Shor

            what does the expression “a way forward” mean to you?

            I think it’s time for other people to answer that question.

        2. Matt Williams

          I believe there is a lot of wisdom in your answer Don.

          I also believe that the expression “a way forward” is another way of saying “a Community Vision” and currently Davis does not have a Community Vision … either in its General Plan or in the minds of its residents and stakeholders.

          Said another way, Davis does not know what it wants to be.  There are lots of individual beliefs about what Davis wants to be, but no community agreement on that.

          Richard McCann and I and others have frequently been saying that Davis’ #1 priority should be to have an open and frank discussion about what kind of community Davis wants to be.

           

        3. Matt Williams

          The most successful visioning efforts share five key characteristics.

          1. They understand the whole community

          Visioning promotes a shared understanding of the whole of a community and the full range of issues shaping its future. It also tries to engage the entire community and key stakeholders in this conversation.

          2.They reflect core community values

          Visioning seeks to identify a community’s core values – the deeply held beliefs and ideals shared by its members. Such values inform the idealistic nature of the community’s vision.

          3. They address emerging trends and issues

          Visioning explores emerging trends driving the community’s future and the strategic issues they signal. Addressing these trends promotes greater foresight, and adds rigor and realism to the community’s vision.

          4. They imagine a preferred future

          Visioning produces a statement describing the community’s preferred future. The vision statement represents the community’s desired “destination” – a shared image of where it would like to be in the long-term future.

          5. They promote local action

          Visioning produces a strategic action plan. The action plan serves as the community’s “road map”, moving it closer to its vision in the near-term future.

          ———-

          Having and “living” a Vision is designed to create both a shared sense of direction and a framework for future community decisions and concrete goals and strategies for action. In addition, there can be many secondary benefits that derive from the Visioning process, such as:

          — Enriching public involvement by expanding the terms and scope of civic engagement;

          — Fostering new leadership in citizens who have not been previously active in public life;

          — Promoting active partnerships among government, business, civic, and nonprofit organizations; and

          — Strengthening community cohesion and “social capital.”

        4. Richard_McCann

          I’ve proposed one way forward already. Preparing a set of baseline features and having voters preapprove projects that adhere to those, Developers that don’t want to can go through the standard Measure J/R/D process. I think we can persuade the most ardent Further, a community visioning process might figure out how to invite development of certain parcels that fit that vision.

          I’ve successfully overcome “that will never happen” objections at least 4 times in my professional career:

          – Closure of Rancho Seco nuclear plant

          – Decommissioning of the Klamath River hydro complex

          – Conversion of 2,000 large agricultural pumps from diesel to electricity to improve air quality in the Central Valley

          – Ongoing transfer of utility services for up to 300,000 mobilehome spaces to the serving utilities

          There are workable solutions to any problem if there’s first an agreement on the commonality of the problem to be fixed. Keith E is right that we need to take this first step to have a successful visioning process.

           

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for