Every Monday from here until the Election, the Vanguard will ask all five of the council candidates one question which they have precisely 250 words with which to respond.
Dan Carson, Kelsey Fortune and Bapu Vaitla are vying for District 1 while Gloria Partida and Adam Morrill are squaring off in District 4.
Question 1: Identify your top three priorities if you are elected in November
My top three priorities are affordable housing, climate resilience, and community cooperation.
With respect to housing, I will: 1) accelerate the production of permanent supportive housing and create a community navigator program to assist the unhoused; 2) pass an Affordable Housing Ordinance that strongly incentivizes the construction of units; and 3) increase transparency around the cost of development to improve our negotiating position with developers.
With respect to climate, I will: 1) launch a carbon mitigation fund to implement our Climate Action and Adaptation Plan; 2) expand sustainable transit options, especially by increasing bus routes and creating a network of micro-mobility options; and 3) enhance local capacity to generate clean energy by piloting micro-grids throughout town and investing in larger-scale solar energy generation.
With respect to community cooperation, I will: 1) implement a professionalized civic volunteer program that mobilizes the talents, time, and goodwill of our residents; 2) create a “CityLab” research center in which the City and UC Davis together identify key policy questions and seek grants to pilot innovative programs; and 3) give City Commissions a clearer voice in policy formulation while raising expectations of Commission output.
Some of these reforms will need financing. In the short-term, new streams of housing- and climate-focused state and federal dollars, as well as public-private partnerships, will help. In the medium-term, Davis must generate revenue from economic growth, and we can do so by promoting our identity as a center of sustainable food and energy innovation.
Please visit bapu4davis.org for more details.
- Our city faces a $5 million annual funding gap between projected tax revenues and the costs of maintaining basic city services that threatens the high quality of life we enjoy as Davis residents.
- A severe housing shortage is leading to homelessness and social inequality, too many commuters to our roads, and undermining of our economic progress.
- The profound negative impacts of climate change are subjecting us to drought, extreme heat events, dismal air quality from wildfires, and a risk of “super-cell” rainstorms and flooding.
I would simultaneously address all three challenges by completing and implementing our new downtown plan. This would generate additional jobs and tax revenues to help address our funding gap; add 1,000 units of housing for 2,200 persons; and reduce climate impacts by redeveloping a location where reliance on automobile use could be minimized.
The council’s legislative subcommittee on which I serve should work with our staff team to secure grant funding to fix city parks and infrastructure, build affordable housing, and fund actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Our city has secured tens of millions of dollars in grant funding and more effort here could pay huge dividends.
I will fight to ensure we follow through on the $84 million ten-year plan I co-authored to fix streets and bike paths; implement innovative Housing Element policies to spur new market-rate and affordable housing; complete our new city climate plan and accelerate ongoing efforts at Valley Clean Energy to shift to 100% renewable power.
If re-elected my top three priorities would be:
Smart land use policies are critical to ensuring our quality of life is protected. Ensuring we have clear directions on zoning codes will make it easier to find ways to create mixed use infill projects that create hubs of community, delineate a road map to a vibrant downtown and protect the safety of our children’s routes to school.
Economic development will create ways for us to continue to upkeep our bike paths, parks and fund our public safety, without raising taxes. Having a more dedicated point person from the city with GSEC, our DDBA and chamber will need to be implemented.
Affordable housing is the foundation for solving our homeless challenge. We must increase options available to provide creative solutions to this problem as well as work with our partners at the state and county level. An example is the Yolo County housing voucher program. The voucher program provides a way to incorporate affordable housing into the stock we already have and integrate people seamlessly into our housing community. The city can help by providing security deposits and other assurances of low risk to landlords that participate. Our department of housing and homeless services will be instrumental in working toward sustainable solutions. Furthermore, our affordable housing report will give certainty to obstacles involved in building more affordable housing. Knowing what those obstacles are is powerful for working towards overcoming them
I am compelled to run for council because of the climate emergency we are facing, the lack of action at the city level, and Davis’ potential to be a climate action and adaptation leader.
Climate is my first priority, and it is difficult to disentangle anything from our goal of carbon neutrality. This includes completing the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP), creating resilience centers, improving public and active transportation infrastructure, building affordable housing, and creating incentives for businesses and individuals to make changes.
Another priority is planning. The world is ever changing, and if we do not have quality plans for what we want for Davis, there is no way for us to realize the future we seek. I will prioritize implementing the Downtown Plan, completing the CAAP, and initiating a new General Plan. We have spent too many years responding to proposed projects rather than planning so we get the best for Davis.
Finally, fiscal responsibility is a priority. Our city continues to make decisions that will have permanent impacts on the city’s budget without considering the proper cost benefit analysis. Two recent examples that come to mind. First, the council placed DISC on our June ballot. Research shows that peripheral developments often end up utilizing more city resources than the tax dollars they generate. Check out Chuck Marohn. Second, the council authorized the purchase of a ladder truck for the city when sharing these costs with campus is fiscally prudent and makes our tax dollars go further.
1) Our roads and bike paths are crumbling
- Plan: Develop a GIS database of all streets and paths, assess their condition and devise a 10-year plan and budget to bring all roads and paths up to acceptable condition.
- Execute: Secure a ten-year contract, so all costs are known, with a large reputable contractor capable of delivering superior results, and investigate innovative materials and techniques in order to stretch the money as far as possible.
- Financing: Push for the adoption of a property tax linked to home value (this is protected from inflation and funding will increase over time) to fund municipal capital improvement bonds. Also negotiate with UC Davis for impact fees related to the obvious wear caused by Unitrans bus service.
2) Our urban forest is dying
- Plan: Divide the city into five zones and have a five-year rotation for assessing all city and street trees.
- Execute: Terminate the city’s current tree service contract, hire one city arborist to assess and plan tree maintenance, hire 6 tree service workers so that two crews can be operating within the city year-round.
- Finance: Utilize funds from terminated contract to fund positions and coordinate efforts with Tree Davis to supplement city staff’s efforts.
3) Lack of affordable housing
- Plan: Develop a new General Plan with extensive citizen input with a focus on workforce housing while emphasizing interconnectedness with the rest of the city to reduce private car dependent travel.