By David M. Greenwald
Tuesday’s commentary concluded that Davis is not in danger of becoming Elk Grove and I added the point not only now, but ever.
The discussion on Tuesday’s commentary focused heavily on Elk Grove and development in general. And not enough on the core point of the article—land mitigation.
A good example was this comment: “The point was, Walter, which looks like it escaped you, is that David is using Elk Grove’s current higher population to claim that Davis is not like Elk Grove. Well my point is that Elk Grove also had a population of 70,000 and look where it’s at now. How soon will it be before Davis is just like Elk Grove?”
Actually, that comment completely misses the point.
I baselined Elk Grove’s population disparity—currently 170,000 to 70,000—to demonstrate the huge gulf between the two cities.
But seemingly lost in the discussion was a key fact that I tried to lay out—mitigation land. I’m not going to reproduce the graphics here, but when you take the mitigation land, UC Davis land, and the Solano County border into account—the reality is that there really is not an opportunity for Davis to become Elk Grove because there will not be the land even available to sprawl onto.
If you are concerned about runaway growth in Davis—that window closed in 2000 not only with the passage of Measure J but also the passage of Measure O and the aggressive approach taken by the city to acquire and mitigate agricultural land.
So people concerned that Davis could become Elk Grove, should understand that the current proposals will not come close to doing that (the purpose of the 170K to 70K comparison) and the land mitigation will prevent that from happening in the future—particularly and ironically if Davis approves some of these Measure J projects.
That was the point of the article—and to some extent it was missed.
On the other side of the divide, so to speak, there are those who argue that the problem with these projects is that they are not nearly dense enough. I saw where Tim Keller made the comment, “The thing that nauseates me is the fact that we KNOW that single family housing developments are unsustainable in many ways…”
That’s a point that I think is amplified by the lack of physical space for Davis to advance outward.
I see where he suggests, on the same land, a land use scheme that would account for 19,500 additional homes and 56,000 additional people.
I’m sure that will drive the slow growthers into conniption.
I have had a number of conversations with developers and builders recently about the need to have a transparent discussion over economic feasibility of projects.
At the same time, I worry that even if we are somehow able to approve and develop all five of the projects, we will end up in the same place in a decade or two that we are now—except worse—and with even more limited ability to do anything about it.
The only thing I can assure people of is the following: if we look at Davis in 2030 or 2040, it will look VASTLY different than it does now. That is true regardless of what we attempt to do in the next few years.
The community is long past time to have a realistic discussion of the consequences of current policies and a discussion of what it wants the community to look like.