By David M. Greenwald
Davis, CA – It may surprise people to realize that as recently as 2012 and even into 2014, land use was not on the radar of the Davis City Council. Between the real estate collapse and the 75-25 route of Measure P in 2009 as well as the easy reelection of Measure J in 2010, land use seemed like a settled issue in Davis.
The pendulum has since swung back. There have been five Measure J votes since 2016. Affordable housing is listed by many voters as the top issue facing Davis. And a measure not even on the ballot in November might be the most important issue.
I had to laugh when a commentor noted, “It is also curious that this survey begins with a backward looking question about Measure H instead of a forward looking question about decisions likely to come before the CC. Disc is dead but the Sierra Club begins by beating a dead horse.”
The answer given by Alan Pryor was accurate: “Probably more can be told of a candidate by what they supported or opposed in the past than by what they tell you they will support or oppose in the future.”
That’s true. But it actually goes beyond that. DiSC 2022 or Measure H is not only an important indicator of future votes, it is THE defining feature of this election.
One reason why Dan Carson appears to be in hot water and is facing two challengers is his decision to file a writ and challenge the No on H ballot language—and then, perhaps even more fatefully, his decision to seek attorney fees.
Gloria Partida in the meantime steered clear of that controversy, but her decision to twice support DISC and be on the subcommittee has earned the ire of at least some in the East Davis district that heavily opposed the measure.
As we have discussed many times, the voters have generally not punished councilmembers for supporting ballot measures the voters have opposed. But, with district elections, that could change.
So, given those dynamics, isn’t Measure H—which is the backdrop for the council election—what everyone should be leading on? In fact, I would argue all three of the questions in the survey are immensely important.
In both races, we have clear dividing lines for the voters to decide—and that’s what we want and what a survey is for.
On Measure H, in District 1, Bapu Vailta said, “I supported Measure H on affordable housing grounds.” At the same time, “There were many good reasons to vote no on H; many people whose opinions I deeply value did so. Affordable housing should not be the only consideration when evaluating proposals, and DISC was flawed in many ways, including its traffic impacts and its effect on prime agricultural land.”
Vaitla was critical of Councilmember Carson, whose actions he called “a dangerous precedent.” He added, “It will not and should not appear again on the ballot.”
Carson has not really addressed the lawsuit issue, but he didn’t back away from his support for Measure H, adding, “However, the voters have spoken and defeated the measure. After the election, I promptly stated publicly that I accepted their decision in keeping with our democratic process.”
Finally, Fortune said, “I did not support DISC. This project would have exacerbated our current housing shortage and created thousands of new commuters.”
District 1 voters will have a range of options here.
Meanwhile, with two candidates in District 4, Adam Morrill said he opposed Measure H and listed the reasons.
Gloria Partida supported Measure H and argued, “I believe that we need a diversified tax base support a resilient economy for when a downturn or other circumstance such as the loss of retail trends, pandemics or unforeseen situations happen.”
Again, the voters get a pretty clear choice.
They were also asked about the proposed peripheral housing projects on Covell and Mace.
Vailta said, “Of the three proposals that have been submitted thus far for the North/Northwest Davis periphery, I prefer Shriners. On-the-Curve and then Palomino have serious weaknesses.”
Carson noted, “To my knowledge, an official building application has been submitted to the city for only one of the three projects mentioned in this question and the council has not yet discussed whether the city should process any of them should applications for the additional projects mentioned come our way.”
He said, “Until such information comes forward, there is insufficient information to allow me to determine their merit and what if anything should happen with them.”
Fortune said, “In general, I am not a fan of peripheral development. I believe that at the very least, all three of these projects need to be improved.”
Adam Morrill said, “I oppose any developments that are not currently part of the General Plan, whether they are good for the community or not. “
Meanwhile, Partida said simply, “Every project that is to be put forward to the voters should meet all our planning requirements.”
On Measure J modifications, Vaitla does not support any modifications, Carson believes the measure could be improved on, and Fortune indicates that she is not in favor of direct democracy in general but “I understand the distrust that currently exists. As I am opposed to sprawl, I support the current renewal of this measure as it stands.”
Adam Morrill only supports removing the sunset date, while Partida said, “I believe that the community should have an opportunity to weigh in on the measure as it did when it was first adopted. I believe the current residents should be allowed to examine it and have a voice in its future.”
I learned a lot just from this brief interchange. The Vanguard will be asking questions of the candidates starting very shortly—and following up on some of these are a way to go.