Guest Commentary: City Council Is Jeopardizing Proposed Tax Measure by Withholding Vote on Residential Development

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Covell site in 2005

By Alan Pryor

The Davis City Council recently decided at their April 4, 2023, meeting that they would explore all options for putting a new general tax measure on the November 2024 ballot while declining to place a peripheral housing project on the same ballot. The Council’s stated reasons are that they did not believe Staff had the “bandwidth” to process both ballot measures simultaneously and that they feared the controversy of placing a peripheral ballot measure on the same ballot as their preferred general tax measure ballot may harm the tax measure’s chances of success.

And at last Tuesday night’s Council meeting they agreed to relegate all future peripheral Measure J/R/D housing ballot measures to special elections over at least the next few years. I believe this decision was shortsighted and made without a complete understanding of what motivates Davis voters to approve or disapprove of tax measures in Davis.

Aside from the obvious charge that the City is favoring adding new revenue to their coffers over providing needed housing in the community (after standing on their soap boxes and proclaiming the dire need for housing over and over again in the past), this decision displays a misunderstanding of the realities of Davis electoral politics and this lack of awareness may presage the failure of both the expected November 2024 general tax measure AND any new peripheral housing ballot measure on later special election ballots.

Let me explain.

My Background in Davis Ballot Measure Elections

Firstly, before delving into the nuances of why I believe this decision by Council is fraught with danger with respect to obtaining passage of both a tax measure and a later peripheral housing ballot measure, it might be useful to readers to know of my experiences with ballot measure processes in Davis.

In fact, I have been very active in advocating for ballot tax and infrastructure measures and against peripheral housing measures in Davis elections over the past dozen years. Following are the Davis ballot measures for which I served as both Principal Officer and Treasurer in campaign committee filings with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC);


But to be fair, while I served as both the Principal Officer and Treasurer for each of these campaign committees, most of the campaigns had a dedicated cadre of citizens who also played instrumental roles in the campaign. In particular, current Mayor Will Arnold played a decisive role managing all voter outreach and communications during the Measure I campaign in support of the new Water Project. That ballot measure would almost certainly have gone down to defeat without his efforts. Large numbers of devoted citizens also played out-sized and instrumental roles in the Measure A, B, and H campaigns to defeat those peripheral projects. All of those ballot measures would have certainly had different outcomes had those many citizens not undertaken such key supporting roles in those campaigns.

The point I am making by disclosing my past electoral campaign involvements is that I believe it has given me a pretty good sense of the pulse of the community and what drives people to make decisions on municipal measures in the voting booth.

Why I Now Support Placing a Peripheral Housing Project on the Davis Ballot in November 2024

It is this understanding that has led me to the conclusion that the highest likelihood of success of both a tax measure and a peripheral development project is if they are both placed on the same November 2024 ballot instead of deferring placing a peripheral development measure on a special election ballot in 2025 or later.

Admittedly, some have found it surprising and have accused me of betraying the “progressive cause” because I am now advocating for placing at least one peripheral housing project on the ballot in November 2024 and stating that in doing so it increases its likelihood of success. I can appreciate why this has raised eyebrows and the ire by some in the community. After all, I have consistently opposed almost all such peripheral development projects in the past and have never actively advocated for any peripheral project to be placed on a ballot or supported such a project once it is on a ballot.

The reason I am now advocating for a peripheral housing project be placed on the ballot as soon as possible is simple, Times Have Changed!

As others have adequately noted and discussed, new state-mandates require cities to submit plans to the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) that identify potential sites that can be developed for residential housing over the coming years. The stated goal of these mandates is to increase housing stock (particularly affordable housing) to substantially higher levels. Whether you agree with such mandates or not, until they are overturned by a court of law it is a reality with which all California cities must now address. If cities do not comply with these requirements by submitting plans accepted to HCD showing a pathway to increase their housing stock, the state may impose severe penalties including removing some control over local housing development from the local government. And they have already filed lawsuits against some communities for such failure to comply with these state mandates.

Such loss of local control opens the door to developers bypassing normal city control of housing project entitlement through, for example, imposition of the Builders’ Remedy. In addition, the state may also sue to remove local policies that they claim inhibit orderly mandated minimum levels of housing development. Davis has already had two submittals to HCD rejected for not meeting the minimum standards required for approval. While Staff claims they can rapidly rezone a number of properties within the City to come into HCD compliance, some observers otherwise feel this is wishful thinking on the City’s part particularly given the recent loss of proposed housing when the University Commons project was allowed to downsize from a multi-story mixed use housing and commercial development to a single story commercial only project; thus taking 100s of apartments out of the expected housing pipeline.

Should the City’s proposal to HCD continue to be rejected and eventually result in litigation against the City to impose more housing development, the obvious target of any such litigation likely would be to overturn the City’s voter-approved Measure J/R/D allowing citizens the right to vote on peripheral housing projects in Davis. I believe this to be a real and urgent concern. So to potentially save the authority of Davis voters to approve or deny future peripheral projects, I am advocating that the City place on the November 2024 ballot at least one of the currently proposed 4 larger peripheral projects now pending before the City.

Why Waiting to Place a Peripheral Housing Development Project on a Special Election Ballot after the November 2024 Ballot is Fraught with Risk of Failure

Others have opined, with reasons I functionally agree with, that placing a peripheral project on a special election ballot in the future may be “setting it up for failure” – see “Sunday Commentary: Staff Recommended Timeline Seems To Set Projects Up For Failure”. I will not belabor the reasons given in the article as readers can easily read it themselves. But suffice it to say that special elections are always low turn-out events and lead to ballot successes by those most able to energize their voters. This may not bode well when a majority of voters might be somewhat approving of a peripheral housing project but not sufficiently engaged to actually cast a ballot when they are otherwise not inclined to vote for other reasons.

Why Placing a General Tax Measure on the November 2024 Ballot without Coextensively Placing a Housing Development Project on the Same Ballot Probably Lessens the Likelihood of the Tax Measure Passing.

The most important aspect of securing the passage of a general tax measure is to gain the trust of the voters. The public must inherently trust that the City will spend the proceeds of the raised taxes responsibly. They must also be convinced that the City is operating efficiency and exercising spending restraint through cost cutting measures implemented by the City. And they must also trust that the City is also doing all it can to obtain the money it claims it needs through other means before going to the voters and asking them to open their wallets.

With respect to ensuring their citizens tax dollars are being spent responsibly, the easiest way to to clearly specify and commit for what the tax revenue will actually be used. This restricts how the money can be used and is generally required for parcel tax measures such as the City’s existing Parks Tax and the Open Space Tax.

Unfortunately, in this regard the City is at a distinct disadvantage because they are apparently opting to place a tax measure on the ballot as a general tax measure instead of as a parcel tax measure. Examples of a general tax measure would be an increase in the sales tax or a new utilities tax. However, a general tax measure cannot specify how the monies will be spent which in itself places a much greater burden on the taxing agency to convince voters they will be responsible stewards of their money in order to entice them to part with their money.

The reason Council is opting to place a general tax measure on the November 2024 ballot is simple and was clearly and openly discussed in the Council meeting on April 4th. That is, a general tax measure only needs to a simple majority to pass whereas Proposition 13 mandates parcel taxes need to pass with a two-thirds (66.67%) vote.

Toward that end, a great deal of discussion at the Council meeting was about how the Council can “engage” the public and convince them of the real financial needs of the City. When Public Comments were taken during this agenda item, I spoke of the even more critical need for the City to demonstrate to voters that they are exercising fiscal restraint and cost containment that almost every household in Davis does to balance their own budgets.

Unfortunately, in my opinion no such trust now exists on the part of the majority of the electorate in Davis. Many see their parks deteriorating and their streets crumbling compared to the level of infrastructure care seen in other nearby communities while hearing of extravagant spending on “nice to have” rather than “need to have” expenditures—e.g the $2,000,000 ladder fire truck purchase plus the million dollars to redesign/rebuild the downtown fire station to accommodate the larger truck plus the associated annual million dollar price tag for additional fire department personnel to operate the truc—and all the while the City otherwise would have continued access to UC Davis’s ladder fire truck only a few miles away.

The City will also have executed two new employee contracts with their labor unions between now and November 2024 and there is a high likelihood that annual employee raises granted though these new contracts will have already exceeded any amounts expected to be obtained through any general tax measure. It will be a difficult ask of voters to approve a new general tax increase if the Council has to explain to voters they have just granted annual increases in City employee salaries over the past 18 months that already exceed the amount of new monies raised through the tax increase.

To offset this perception of profligate spending on Council’s part, they really need to demonstrate that they are also very actively and aggressively seeking out new sources of revenue to supplement any proposed general tax increases. And probably the only way near term is to demonstrate this to voters is to place a peripheral housing project before the voters that could potentially generate tens of millions of new dollars in construction taxes and other fees—and at the same time addressing the perceived acute housing shortage in Davis and minimize the possibility of the City not reaching its state mandated housing goals as discussed above.

Can Our City Council and Government Walk and Chew Gum at the Same Time?

This question was posed in comments to a recent editorial about the decisions facing the City Council over having both a tax measure and a peripheral housing measure on the same ballot in the November 2024 election. This was in response to the Council’s excuse stated on April 4th to justify not placing both measures on the same November 2024 ballot is that they did not think that Staff had the “bandwidth” to prepare and process both ballot measures at the same time. This is a disingenuous argument because completely different rank and file staff personnel are involved in preparing and processing each of the tax and peripheral housing project ballot measure.

For instance, preparing and processing a tax measure primarily involve the Finance Department at the City whereas preparing and processing a peripheral housing project ballot measure primarily involve the Planning Department. Of course there will be some overlap in required activities and the final authority for ensuring things are done correctly to properly get these measures on the ballot rests with the City Managers office. But I hope the Council is not really claiming that with an annual full-time employee count of over 300 employees at a total compensation cost to the City of well over $53,000,000 in 2021 (the last year for which I can obtain accurate figures), that the City does not have the resources to manage this process. Plus the City can also hire contract Planners to assist in processing routine building applications freeing senior Planning Dept Staff to concentrate on a large peripheral developments.

A Final Note: As stated by Mayor Will Arnold when discussing the basis for the decision to delay a vote on a peripheral housing project, he did not want to controversial housing measure on the ballot because it might compete with the voters attention and cast a shadow on the tax measure. Actually the converse is probably true. Having a local peripheral housing measure on the ballot would perhaps draw more attention away from the tax measure and lessen the public’s focus on the City’s fiscal operating shortcomings. The City otherwise just does not have a compelling story to highlight to voters as to why they need the money and how they would use it. It might not be a bad thing to draw attention away from this fact with a peripheral project ballot measure that sucks up all the electoral air.

In summary, I believe the Council’s decision to pull away from putting a peripheral housing measure on the same November 2024 ballot as their planned general tax measure was short-sighted and based on misunderstanding of how voters currently view Davis City government and their general wary and mistrustful mood.

I otherwise believe a peripheral project on the same ballot actually enhances the prospects of passage of both ballot measures. There is still time to get such a housing measure on the 2024 ballot because a EIR will likely only take 6 months to prepare and not the year that Council is presuming. In any event, Council should direct Staff to start the process immediately. If the Council is correct in their assessment that the project is not ready to be put on the November 2024 ballot by June of next year, then any such delays can be attributed to the developer and the developer’s EIR consultant and not the presumed “bandwidth” of City Staff.

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46 thoughts on “Guest Commentary: City Council Is Jeopardizing Proposed Tax Measure by Withholding Vote on Residential Development”

  1. Ron Oertel

    Admittedly, some have found it surprising and have accused me of betraying the “progressive cause” because I am now advocating for placing at least one peripheral housing project on the ballot in November 2024 and stating that in doing so it increases its likelihood of success.

    YIMBYs claim to be “progressive”, as well.  Just pointing out that the word has no meaning anymore (if it ever did).

    The council is already viewed as pro-development (as you’ve pointed out).  Are they supposed to making decisions to place development proposals on the ballot (or favoring one, or the other) based upon the chances of success in the first place?

    I can appreciate why this has raised eyebrows and the ire by some in the community. After all, I have consistently opposed almost all such peripheral development projects in the past and have never actively advocated for any peripheral project to be placed on a ballot or supported such a project once it is on a ballot.

    I understand that you were not opposed to Nishi II, when the vehicular access from Richards was eliminated from Richards. And that the same developer was involved with both Nishi II, and Covell Village. Also, the Sierra Club itself (of which you’re the local leader) supported Wildhorse Ranch (which has now morphed into the Palomino Place proposal).

    As far as the state’s requirements, name one city within a few miles of the coast which is sprawling outward as a result of those requirements.  The “need” to sprawl outward to address those requirements is a complete and total red herring.

    Again, the state’s efforts will fail in the first place – statewide.  And why is it that the Palomino Place developer is still pursuing a Measure J vote, while simultaneously pursuing the builder’s remedy?  Could it be that builder remedies don’t “pencil out” – even on undeveloped agricultural land?

    And if they “do” pencil out, what’s to keep a 400-acre proposal from subsequently pursuing the builder’s remedy on the entire site – regardless of any development agreements or baseline features “promised” to voters?

    But even if the choice is made to approve a sprawling development to address the RHNA requirements, it doesn’t take a 400-acre proposal (e.g., the one you favor) to do so.  (One that doesn’t even totally address them in the first place, for that matter.)

    The city is going to have to address the current round of RHNA requirements regardless of any subsequent approval of a peripheral development.

    For that matter, the city doesn’t even know what the future requirements will be. Approximately half the cities in California haven’t even addressed the current round of RHNA requirements. And yet, some are already worried about future ones (of which we have no idea what they’ll even be – years from now)? Really? I’d expect that from David, but not you.

    1. David Greenwald

      “And if they “do” pencil out, what’s to keep a 400-acre proposal from subsequently pursuing the builder’s remedy on the entire site – regardless of any development agreements or baseline features “promised” to voters?”

      The Development Agreement itself would preclude a Builder’s Remedy.

      “But even if the choice is made to approve a sprawling development to address the RHNA requirements, it doesn’t take a 400-acre proposal ”

      What do you think it would take to get another 2000 to 3000 units in Davis on top of the 2000 in this cycle?

      “some are already worried about future ones”

      City gets hammered when it doesn’t plan, and gets hammered when it does.

      1. Ron Oertel

        The Development Agreement itself would preclude a Builder’s Remedy.

        So?  How would the state attorney general view that “agreement”?

        What do you think it would take to get another 2000 to 3000 units in Davis on top of the 2000 in this cycle?

        I don’t even think the mandates in the current cycle will actually be built – anywhere in the state.  Neither do you.  Especially in regard to the affordable mandates.

        What do you think will happen when the current round of mandates turns out to be a complete and total bust?

        And again, I’ll turn this question back to you: How are other cities (the vast majority of dense population centers along the coast) planning to address these mandates, since they’re not expanding outward? When you can answer that question, you’ll have your answer regarding how Davis can do so.

        I already told you my answer: They won’t, except on paper. Which will (in the not-too-distant future) will show itself as a complete and total failure. The YIMBY groups which are monitoring this will ultimately help show it – even if the subsequent reaction isn’t what they hope for.

        The state itself is going to be under a lot of pressure, in more than one way.

        1. David Greenwald

          “I don’t even think the mandates in the current cycle will actually be built – anywhere in the state. Neither do you. Especially in regard to the affordable mandates.

          What do you think will happen when the current round of mandates turns out to be a complete and total bust?”

          I think you’re leaping to a law of conclusions not warranted by facts so far.

          First of all, as I have said, I believe that local communities will fall short of their housing targets under RHNA.

          However, I also believe that the housing figures that are built will be a measurable increase over the previous period. As such, they will not be a total and complete bust. I don’t expect the state to get there in one round, but I do see a lot of progress.

        2. Ron Oertel

          I think you’re leaping to a law of conclusions not warranted by facts so far.

          Coming from someone advocating for current development proposals to (supposedly) address future RHNA requirements (in future years).  At the same time that the city hasn’t even addressed the current cycle.

          First of all, as I have said, I believe that local communities will fall short of their housing targets under RHNA.

          Exactly.  And those aren’t “targets”, by the way – they’re effectively “mandates”.  The reason being that YIMBY groups and the state are monitoring this, and will (attempt) to take action against cities which don’t meet those mandates.  Even prior to the next round of RHNA mandates.

          Unless they start “toning down” their approach, and start using words like “targets” – as you did. In which case the entire farce will further expose itself.

          However, I also believe that the housing figures that are built will be a measurable increase over the previous period.

          I don’t see how (to any significant degree), in a state with a declining population, declining housing market, facing a budget deficit (which impacts the ability to fund Affordable housing), and an exodus of businesses, to boot.

          As such, they will not be a total and complete bust. I don’t expect the state to get there in one round, but I do see a lot of progress.

          Uhm, those “mandates” are supposed to be addressed in the current round.  So, when they’re not – is the state planning to “pile on” the current mandates onto the next round of mandates?  (Personally, I’m finding this entire situation amusing, at this point.)

           

  2. David Greenwald

    Should the City’s proposal to HCD continue to be rejected and eventually result in litigation against the City to impose more housing development, the obvious target of any such litigation likely would be to overturn the City’s voter-approved Measure J/R/D allowing citizens the right to vote on peripheral housing projects in Davis. I believe this to be a real and urgent concern.”

    I think Alan’s right here.  I believe there is a serious risk to Measure J unless the community is willing to approve housing.

    1. Ron Oertel

      I think Alan’s right here.  I believe there is a serious risk to Measure J unless the community is willing to approve housing.

      There’s a word for that – “blackmail”.  Why even have Measure J, if it’s (supposedly) under constant threat?

      Again, there’s nothing in the state’s mandates which forces cities to annex land.  The mandates only address land within cities.

      The mandates supposedly weren’t intended to encourage sprawl in the first place. In fact, that effort (and the politicians behind it) originate from cities which aren’t expanding outward. Of course, they never actually address the root causes regarding the war they’ve declared on their own constituents, but that’s because those interests helped get them elected in the first place.

      Ironically, I suspect that the state’s mandates might result in more peripheral proposal rejections from voters, since developers may then pursue the “builder’s remedy” on those sites – regardless of any development agreements or baseline features promised to voters.

        1. Ron Oertel

          You’re apparently applying “legal” terms to the implied threat.

          It is effectively blackmail. But that’s not the most-important point in my comment.

          1. David Greenwald

            It’s not effectively blackmail because all “we” are doing is anticipating a consequence.

          1. David Greenwald

            Except there is no threat, “vote for this, or else.” The statement is, if we fail to approve some projects, we expect that HCD or the AG will take some actions including potentially filing a lawsuit that could invalidate Measure J.

        2. Ron Oertel

          The statement is, if we fail to approve some projects, we expect that HCD or the AG will take some actions including potentially filing a lawsuit that could invalidate Measure J.

          What part of the word “threat” do you not understand?

          Do you not understand how ridiculous this makes you appear?

          1. David Greenwald

            “Do you not understand how ridiculous this makes you appear?”

            Whatever dude.

        3. Ron Oertel

          But even more concerning is the fact that you’re creating and spreading this implied threat – repeatedly. Of course, some of this arises from the council itself, because they SUPPORT the state’s efforts in the first place. Have they joined with the others in the League of California Cities to express concern regarding the state’s mandates? Something tells me that’s a big fat “no”.

          You WANT this to occur (or more accurately, you’re hoping that some who read your articles will be intimidated by the threat – and vote for some sprawling proposal as a result). As such, you’re the only one who is engaging in a form of blackmail, at this point.

          The folks who read this can see right-through whatever you attempt to do.

          And not just in this article, or limited to this issue. EVEN IF THEY AGREE WITH YOU – they know how you operate – each and every single day.

          And again, the threat itself is conjecture. Just as my conjecture is, regarding a very different outcome.

          1. David Greenwald

            “You WANT this to occur”

            I would actually prefer that we just build the housing that we need. I think it’s better if that’s a community decision.

        4. Ron Oertel

          Thanks for posting my 10:18 a.m. comment – I didn’t think you’d do so.

          I would actually prefer that we just build the housing that we need.

          I don’t know what that means.  The city has lots of housing – including active listings right now (both “for rent”, and “for sale”).  And there aren’t a lot of new jobs being created in the city (or perhaps even on campus, at the moment).

          In addition (like it or not), Woodland (in particular) has been absorbing a lot of growth that might otherwise occur in Davis. And will continue doing so. So it’s not like newcomers (or even those migrating “from” Davis to Woodland) are short on places to live, locally.

          And the very people that some are trying to attract to Davis (e.g., less-wealthy families) are the very ones looking for “more for their money” (in terms of square footage, garage space, etc.). And Davis cannot compete with Woodland regarding those amenities, for the price. (Now, I don’t know why any community would want to attract that specific population in the first place, but that’s another subject.)

          think it’s better if that’s a community decision.

          Well, that would be Measure J.  But some prefer to threaten that, to get their way.

      1. Walter Shwe

        There’s a word for that – “blackmail”.  Why even have Measure J, if it’s (supposedly) under constant threat?

        There should have never been anything like Measure J in the first place. State laws usually supersede local ordinances.

        Federal laws supersede state and local laws. State laws supersede local laws.

        https://dysartwillis.com/the-difference-between-national-state-and-local-law/#:~:text=Local%20laws%20are%20specific%20to,State%20laws%20supersede%20local%20laws.

  3. Matt Williams

    Kudos to both David and Ron for conducting a controlled, thoughtful, reasonable dialogue today.

    Both David and Ron deserve credit for taking a half step back from their usual polarized rhetoric in the discussion today.  Both of them made their respective message(s) accessible to the Vanguard readers, and neither of them fell into the trap of a Dan Ackroyd-Jane Curtin “ignorant slut” interchange.  They both have my thanks.  Hopefully it is a template for future controlled, thoughtful, reasonable dialogue on this subject.

    The one quibble I have revolves around the word “blackmail.”  For me a more accurate descriptive term is “fear mongering.”  The message Ron is trying to convey doesn’t get lost in semantics if “fear mongering” replaces “blackmail.”

    1. Richard_McCann

      I’m not sure that I agree with this assessment. Ron tries to control the dialogue by using his unique definitions of works such as “progressive” and “blackmail” that do not comport with anyone else’s definition. He tries to do the same thing with “sprawl.” He doesn’t own the singular right to define key terms, and his unwillingness to concede that his definitions are incorrect poisons any discussion because he is trying to establish the goal posts right where he’s standing already without relying on any other authority. That’s totally unacceptable in a fruitful discussion.

      1. Ron Oertel

        I’m not sure that I agree with this assessment. Ron tries to control the dialogue by using his unique definitions of works such as “progressive” and “blackmail” that do not comport with anyone else’s definition.

        When a proposal is presented as, “vote for this, otherwise you lose Measure J” – I’d call that “blackmail”.

        As far as “progressive” is concerned, I’ve heard more definitions of that (including from people fighting each other regarding development) than I can count. Even from people I often agree with.

        He tries to do the same thing with “sprawl.”

        That one is pretty clear, actually.  And not dependent upon politics (until someone makes it that way).  At its root, it’s a word that’s related to “spread”.  As many of our stomachs do, during the holiday season. And as cities do throughout the region, state, and country (and the world, for that matter). Even when population is declining, as has been the case in California for the past 3 years.

        He doesn’t own the singular right to define key terms, and his unwillingness to concede that his definitions are incorrect poisons any discussion because he is trying to establish the goal posts right where he’s standing already without relying on any other authority. That’s totally unacceptable in a fruitful discussion.

        I definitely don’t “own” those terms, and neither do you.  As I recall, you’re the only one who has claimed the right to define those terms.

        As with political labels (e.g., “progressive”, “liberal”, “progressive”, “conservative”) these terms are unimportant to me (and to most people, I suspect).  Might make good political talking points, but it bores me at least.

        But for sure: When the argument is that you either vote for a given proposal (or “some” given proposal) – or lose Measure J – that’s blackmail. Do you have a better word for it?

        Extortion, perhaps? (Actually, that might be the more-applicable description compared to blackmail.) I’ll go with “extortion”.

        1. Walter Shwe

          It’s neither blackmail or extortion. It’s state law, whether or not you agree with it or not. It’s merely the laws of the State of California. You continually conflate the law with the concepts of blackmail and extortion in the comments to this article.

        2. Ron Oertel

          Threats to Measure J are “state law”?

          News to me (and anyone else).

          Threats are key components of both blackmail AND extortion. Take your pick – either one would apply. (Extortion is a more accurate description.)

          Extortion is the practice of obtaining benefit through coercion.

          Coercion (/koʊˈɜːrʒən, -ʃən/) involves compelling a party to act in an involuntary manner by the use of threats, including threats to use force against that party.[1][2][need quotation to verify][3] It involves a set of forceful actions which violate the free will of an individual in order to induce a desired response. These actions may include extortion, blackmail, or even torture and sexual assault. For example, a bully may demand lunch money from a student where refusal results in the student getting beaten.

          (Interestingly-enough, I used the “lunch money” example in an email I sent to David and someone else, earlier today – prior to even finding this.) Note the relationship between blackmail and extortion, as well.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extortion

          1. Don Shor

            I really don’t know why you’re doubling down on your use of these terms.
            The officials who would be able to remove Measure J have not made any threats.
            David has made a prediction. He is not advocating for that outcome, nor does he or anyone else on the Vanguard have any ability to make it come to pass.
            To predict that failure of the electorate to pass a Measure J vote could lead to state action against Davis is not blackmail. It is not extortion. It is not coercion. It is not a threat. It is a prediction based on analysis.

        3. Ron Oertel

          I really don’t know why you’re doubling down on your use of these terms.

          Probably because they’re an accurate description.

          The officials who would be able to remove Measure J have not made any threats.

          Not a relevant point, in regard to the threat.

          David has made a prediction. He is not advocating for that outcome, nor does he or anyone else on the Vanguard have any ability to make it come to pass.

          True – someone who sent both me and David an email today described it as “fear-mongering”.  In this case, essentially the “messenger” for those who might follow-through on that threat.

          To predict that failure of the electorate to pass a Measure J vote could lead to state action against Davis is not blackmail. It is not extortion. It is not coercion. It is not a threat. It is a prediction based on analysis.

          Again, I’ve already posted the definition.  Threatening to remove Measure J (regardless of “who” attempts it) if a peripheral development isn’t approved is absolutely a threat, and a textbook example of extortion.

          Pointing it out is fear-mongering, on behalf of those who might follow through on the threat. Essentially, the “messenger” on behalf of the Godfather.

          We’ve gone through this type of thing before, regarding the words “sprawl” and “poach” – the latter of which DJUSD engages in to avoid “right-sizing”.

          These are all accurate descriptions.

          If you have a better word to describe the stated threat to Measure J (if the electorate doesn’t “comply”), have at it. Though truth be told, I suspect that the fear-mongering itself is not accurate.

          So unless the attorney general starts spewing forth nonsense on here, maybe it should just be taken with a grain of salt.

        4. Ron Oertel

          David has made a prediction. He is not advocating for that outcome . . .

          To clarify, I’m not sure what David’s goal is at the moment.  I suspect that he’s hoping to convince folks to vote for Measure J proposals by referring to the potential threat (loss of Measure J, which obviously would not be initiated by David personally).

          Ultimately, I don’t think this is going to be a successful/winning campaign strategy, as most people don’t like to be threatened. But if he thinks that’s the way to go, more power to him. 🙂

          It would be nice if the council challenged the state (as city officials do elsewhere), but I guess that’s too much to ask. This council is in lockstep with the state in the first place – in effect acting as their obedient “messenger” – just as David does. Which, of course – is great for those who support the state’s war against cities (including possibly Davis) in the first place. Almost as if Wiener and Newsom appointed them, personally. (I have no explanation for this, as the populace – more often than not – does not subsequently go along with them.)

           

        5. Walter Shwe

          Extortion, perhaps? (Actually, that might be the more-applicable description compared to blackmail.) I’ll go with “extortion”.

          State officials are merely seeking to enforce existing state housing laws. State officials are supposed to enforce state laws. Otherwise, people would be able to continuously violate state laws with impunity without fear of any consequences. It’s really only extortion or blackmail in your own mind Ron. No other commenter here has agreed with you that what state officials are doing constitutes anything like blackmail or extortion.

        6. Ron Oertel

          State officials are merely seeking to enforce existing state housing laws. State officials are supposed to enforce state laws. Otherwise, people would be able to continuously violate state laws with impunity without fear of any consequences.

          That’s a different subject.  Now, we could talk about the corruptive influences which lead to state law, but that’s also a different subject.

          It’s really only extortion or blackmail in your own mind Ron.

          To suggest that one has to vote for a given sprawling proposal (or any proposal at all, for that matter) in order to “save” Measure J is a form of extortion.

          No other commenter here has agreed with you that what state officials are doing constitutes anything like blackmail or extortion.

          Have you seen “who else” generally comments on here (or more accurately – consistently challenges my comments)? If those folks aren’t agreeing with me, that’s a GOOD sign! The harder they push back, the more I know I’ve touched a nerve.

          And it’s not “state officials” who are engaging in the extortion.  However, they have created the environment in which some will attempt to extort a vote, to “save Measure J”.

          In other words, “vote for sprawl, or you won’t be able to stop ANY of it”.

          Someone like you (who doesn’t support Measure J) should probably vote against ALL of the proposals, if you (like David) think that doing so will lead to the demise of Measure J.

          I have concluded that “extortion” is a more accurate word than “blackmail”, in this case.

        7. Walter Shwe

          To suggest that one has to vote for a given sprawling proposal (or any proposal at all, for that matter) in order to “save” Measure J is a form of extortion.

          Exactly who then is suggesting that Davis voters must vote in favor of any new housing developments or Measure J will go by the wayside? Is it David or me perhaps? I have never even hinted at that.

        8. Walter Shwe

          A troll is Internet slang for a person who intentionally tries to instigate conflict, hostility, or arguments in an online social community. Platforms targeted by trolls can include the comment sections of YouTube, forums, or chat rooms.

        9. Ron Oertel

          Exactly who then is suggesting that Davis voters must vote in favor of any new housing developments or Measure J will go by the wayside? Is it David or me perhaps? I have never even hinted at that.

          In this particular article, it’s primarily Alan P.  Explicitly, in this case.

          But David has done so, as well (e.g., in other articles).  From Alan P’s article, above:

          Should the City’s proposal to HCD continue to be rejected and eventually result in litigation against the City to impose more housing development, the obvious target of any such litigation likely would be to overturn the City’s voter-approved Measure J/R/D allowing citizens the right to vote on peripheral housing projects in Davis. I believe this to be a real and urgent concern. So to potentially save the authority of Davis voters to approve or deny future peripheral projects, I am advocating that the City place on the November 2024 ballot at least one of the currently proposed 4 larger peripheral projects now pending before the City.

          I’m not necessarily “blaming” Alan P for this (or even David).  It could be that they’re correct, though it may be more likely that this “prediction” will lead to an outright revolt.

          Though I still don’t know why Alan P favors one 400-acre proposal in particular. Especially since he’s (more often than not) on the “slow-growth” side of the spectrum. I’ve spoken to him about this, but still don’t understand it.

          That’s o.k. – he’s just one person, same as everyone else. Various “slow-growth” advocates periodically come out in favor of one proposal or another. (But geez – this one is 400 acres on prime farmland – which he himself acknowledges.)

          But again, if you or any other person opposed to Measure J believes that voting against any or all of the proposals will result in the overturning of Measure J – that’s probably what you should do. I’d encourage you to do so, for that matter.

  4. Dave Hart

    Based on Alan Pryor’s history of exaggeration and selective fact finding on projects like the Bretton Woods project, I have a hard time believing any “analysis” he issues.  He and his group have successfully poisoned the political atmosphere around development and now, all of the sudden, we are to believe his analysis is enlightening.  My impulse to vote in favor of peripheral development projects is unreasonably undermined by my emotional reaction to the NO people who have always lined up. Or did I dream all of this?  Why isn’t it obvious that the city council may see this same problem of guilt by association with a tax measure?  Everyone of them, except Vaitla, has been on the receiving end of unfair vitriol over Measure J votes.  Corrupt, in the developers’ pockets, etc.  If I were on the council, I would reasonably want to separate the vote on any issue I care about and a tax measure with its high threshold. What do people like Alan Pryor with his history on Measure J votes have up their sleeve?  Paranoid?  Maybe.  Lack of trust in the traditional NO crowd? Absolutely. Just how I feel. Sweet justice would be for Measure J to be ruled illegal and this NO crowd would have itself to blame. That’s IS a dream of mine.

    1. Ron Glick

      I agree  with Dave Hart that few people would punish the community by voting no on a tax increase because they are upset the City Council is not putting a Measure J vote up in November of 24. Although skipping 24 is stupid, a tax increase to address the structural deficit will likely pass or fail on its own merits.

      1. Dave Hart

        Very little passes or fails on its own merits in this town when the “witch hunt” mentality conflates that which is evil with an issue that might otherwise be decided on its merits.  Am I alone here?  Guess so.  I refuse to act as if a late change of heart, for whatever reason, is equal to “good analysis”.  Just because one likes the message is no reason to trust the messenger. I will likely vote for all but maybe the Shriner proposal and the arguably gigantic Pioneer project which is so expansive and all encompassing that it defies analysis in the short term. But I sure ain’t voting yes on Whitcomb’s just because Alan says it’s okay. I voted no on it 15 years ago, like Alan, for emotional reasons unrelated to “TRAFFIC”.

        1. Ron Oertel

           will likely vote for all but maybe the Shriner proposal and the arguably gigantic Pioneer project which is so expansive and all encompassing that it defies analysis in the short term. But I sure ain’t voting yes on Whitcomb’s just because Alan says it’s okay. I voted no on it 15 years ago, like Alan, for emotional reasons unrelated to “TRAFFIC”.

          Shriner’s is even worse than Covell Village II, as is 100% Housing DISC.

          As far as Covell Village Act II: a 400-acre peripheral development, primarily consisting of single-family housing, wrapping around The Cannery. If was half that size, then it would compare with Shriner’s (in terms of size).

  5. Richard_McCann

    I find Alan’s analysis to be insightful and I generally agree with it (and there aren’t obvious details where I would disagree.) His consideration of the needs of the larger community needs is enlightening. A true progressive has an open mind that doesn’t rely on rigid ideological concepts. A true progressive bases on decisions on the principles of using reasonable, manageable democratic process while protecting the rights of groups that have been historically repressed, redistributing wealth towards those who are less well off while maintaining critical societal structures, and protecting the whole environment, not just the local one. It’s all a balancing act, not just applying simplistic slogans–that’s for the MAGA crowd.

    1. Ron Oertel

      A true progressive has an open mind that doesn’t rely on rigid ideological concepts. A true progressive bases on decisions on the principles of using reasonable, manageable democratic process while protecting the rights of groups that have been historically repressed, redistributing wealth towards those who are less well off while maintaining critical societal structures, and protecting the whole environment, not just the local one.

      Wow.  Do you mean something like the Davis-connected buyer’s program at WDAAC?

      It’s all a balancing act, not just applying simplistic slogans–that’s for the MAGA crowd.

      Oh, yes – definitely bring them into it.  Always a popular “go-to” dog whistle – even when they’re not around at all.

       

    2. Ron Glick

      Richard, asking for more study is is often a delay tactic or a way to cast doubt. The housing debate has gone on for years, people know the issues. The developers know the issues as is evidenced by the way they have incorporated those issues into the five proposals waiting to be processed by the city. A new study is unlikely to illuminate the issue further. If there is some new information to be gathered by more study I wonder what it could be?

  6. Ron Glick

    the most o

    I’m not sure about cross contamination as fallout but I spoke with someone in the know yesterday who pointed out that people get angry if you don’t put something on the ballot and they get angry when you do put something on the ballot.

    My response is I have been the most outspoken opponent of Measure J in the city but it is the system we have and until people wake up to how divisive and broken this process is we may as well get over the fact that this process makes people angry.

    1. Ron Oertel

      I’m not sure about cross contamination as fallout but I spoke with someone in the know yesterday who pointed out that people get angry if you don’t put something on the ballot and they get angry when you do put something on the ballot.

      No one, other than perhaps the Covell Village II developer, is “angry” about “not putting something on the ballot”.  And even he probably isn’t angry – as he’d have no reason to be.  For that matter, other developers submitted proposals prior to the Covell Village II developer.

      I’ll speculate further, and state that none of the commenters (and probably none of the readers) on here are waiting for one of these developers to build a house for them.  If they are, they don’t know how to use Zillow – and probably don’t have the mental capacity needed to qualify, buy and own a house in the first place.

      The people arguing for more housing on here are doing so for other reasons – including “sprawl for oversized schools”. Which astonishingly-enough, they don’t even try to hide (even those on the council). You’d think that they’d at least not admit it.

      1. Walter Shwe

        I’ll speculate further, and state that none of the commenters (and probably none of the readers) on here are waiting for one of these developers to build a house for them.  If they are, they don’t know how to use Zillow – and probably don’t have the mental capacity needed to qualify, buy and own a house in the first place.

        You are referring to natural housing turnover that occurs not just in Davis and Woodland, but all significantly sized communities in the United States. If you were to list here perhaps 30 homes for sale simulateously in Davis, I might believe your contention that there is no additional need for housing in Davis.

        1. David Greenwald

          Here’s the thing – if you are looking at listings, you are not necessarily getting a good picture of the market.

          I have two anecdotes on this.

          A few years ago, I had an employee looking to move to Davis. They looked at apartments. Each time they actually went to check out a place it was already rented. At one place they were told that several dozen people had filed applications for a single room. They ended up having to rent a room from someone at a house and even that took several months.

          On for sale housing, a friend recently told me that she and her significant other had been looking to buy a home in Davis to be able to stay here. Every home was either way out of their price range, or if it was in their range, and they put in a bid, there were at least ten other people putting in bids as well and they didn’t get a single house that was on the market in their price range. Eventually they found a place in Natomas. Looking at listings doesn’t mean those homes are available and can be purchased, there is fierce competition for them even now.

        2. Ron Oertel

          Here’s the thing – if you are looking at listings, you are not necessarily getting a good picture of the market.

          That’s where most people start.  There’s listings on there right now – reasonably priced, suitable for families.  I’ve been posting them periodically on here, as well.

          I have two anecdotes on this.
          A few years ago, I had an employee looking to move to Davis. They looked at apartments. Each time they actually went to check out a place it was already rented. At one place they were told that several dozen people had filed applications for a single room. They ended up having to rent a room from someone at a house and even that took several months.

          Rentals are taken-up by students, for the most part.  And that’s also who they’re marketed to.  (This may change.)  Not intended to be insulting, but I’m surprised that you’re able to pay enough salary for anyone to rent anything, anywhere.

          On for sale housing, a friend recently told me that she and her significant other had been looking to buy a home in Davis to be able to stay here. Every home was either way out of their price range, or if it was in their range, and they put in a bid, there were at least ten other people putting in bids as well and they didn’t get a single house that was on the market in their price range. Eventually they found a place in Natomas. Looking at listings doesn’t mean those homes are available and can be purchased, there is fierce competition for them even now.

          I’ve checked some of them over the past few weeks, and they were available.

          As you know, the housing market went crazy (nationwide) during the pandemic.  This has changed now, primarily as a result of rising interest rates.  Again, there’s houses that are available and reasonably-priced.  One of my “hobbies” is to look at the market – not just in Davis.

          Again, I’ve seen several in the low $600K – low $700K range that are quite nice, and in good locations in Davis. Which remained for sale long enough for anyone to snag one. With more popping up all the time.

          But again, you already know that the market went crazy for a period of time (nationwide), and is just now starting to open up again. Inventory (nationwide) is starting to increase, though one of the problems is that folks locked-in low interest rates that they’re not willing to give up. (In other words, the federal reserve created the “shortage” – nationwide – by juicing the market with low interest rates.)

          All of this was predictable. They shouldn’t have allowed the rates to remain so low for such an extended period, only to raise them so quickly, now. I don’t know why the experts responsible for those decisions couldn’t see that coming.

  7. Ron Glick

    It will be interesting to see what happens when Neville is seated. Perhaps having a full Council will change the dynamics on putting something on the ballot. Time will tell.

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