By David M. Greenwald
Davis, CA – In April, the City Council determined that it would not pursue a land use/Measure J measure for the November 2024 ballot.
Councilmember Bapu Vaitla explained, “To me, in terms of the November 2024 ballot, that is my priority, to ensure that the fiscal needs that are unmet right now are met to carry out a community engagement process that’s robust, that’s authentic, that will culminate in a revenue measure, is gonna require a lot of staff time.”
Bandwidth is an issue as well.
“I’m concerned then that staff time is, if we do move forward with one or more of these proposals, taken away from that revenue effort,” he said. He added, “I’m also aware that, uh, there is a, which we didn’t talk about in the last agenda item, but there’s a ballot measure that’s slated to be, on the statewide ballot that would greatly limit the ability of local governments to raise revenue going forward.”
He said that while “one hopes it loses, but one doesn’t know. So the November 2024 date seems really critical for the future fiscal health of the city, and I’d like to prioritize that above any development proposal.”
Instead of proceeding with what they considered to be a rush to get a Measure J project properly evaluated with an EIR and other legal requirements, council directed the Council Subcommittee of Mayor Will Arnold and Councilmember Bapu Vaitla along with staff to undertake the following next steps:
- Focus staff efforts on implementation of the Housing Element (including zoning amendments and infill housing enhancement mechanisms), the Downtown Plan, and other approved projects such as Nishi, Bretton Woods, Chiles Ranch; 715 Pole Line, Plaza 2555, Research Park Mixed Use, Olive Drive Mixed Use; and
- Complete an analysis of City owned properties for potential affordable/workforce housing opportunities and other infill housing opportunities, and return to City Council with recommendations; and
- Develop housing type and price point desired targets, working with DJUSD and other stakeholders; and
- Develop a proposed framework to engage the community in visioning for future housing needs and peripheral growth expectations as a second stage (Downtown Plan was the first stage) of the General Plan update; and
- Create a Council subcommittee comprised of B. Vaitla and J. Chapman to investigate infill opportunities with goal of achieving Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) obligations.
But those cheering the idea that there will not be a vote in November 2024 might stop when they realize it is only a very temporary reprieve.
Staff came back with a recommendation that would bring the first project as a special election in March 2025 – just four months after the November 2024 election.
Staff created a basic timeline to make available election dates in 2025 or later.
“An EIR will take a minimum of 12 months to prepare and process from securing an EIR consultant through a final EIR public hearing,” staff writes. “A well thought-out project description is necessary to avoid delays in an EIR preparation as the scope of the EIR must be inclusive of all project parameters.”
Staff added, “The considerations raised by the subcommittee and staff in the April 4, 2023 report remain, and available bandwidth of staff, the community, Council and commissions will affect the timing for any given project review.”
They added, “Should the City Council wish to provide direction to proceed with preliminary review and EIR preparation for any of the annexation projects for a 2025 ballot, having as much lead time as possible prior to the desired election date is ideal.”
Not included in the staff report is any discussion of a possible ballot measure that would create potential affordable housing exemptions to Measure J which might therefore impact this time table.
In April, Mayor Arnold noted that Measure J elections are “flashpoints” and “causes of schisms.”
He said, “We see some of the scars of an election that was nearly 20 years ago that are still fresh today.” He continued, “We have repeatedly over the last few years subjected the community to these battles.”
He noted that he thought there would be a benefit to the community of “having at least one election cycle off from one of these fights.”
He added, “The worst possible outcome, in my opinion, is that we fast track, which I think there’s no way around saying we would be fast tracking one of these proposals for a November 2024 election. And in part, because we fast tracked it, it fails after a long, hard fight, we’re going to be right back here, maybe with one fewer of you here in the room, having this exact same conversation in 2025.
“That’s an unacceptable outcome,” he said. “It gives me no pleasure to be the last nail in the coffin here, saying we are intentionally taking November 2024 off the table for one of these elections.”
The mayor at the same time noted that “this is a long-term process that we will be participating in that will hopefully culminate in at least one of these passing and being built, and then another one, and then another one so that we can meet what I imagine will be our 2030 RHNA requirement that is going to require that we go outside of our current city boundaries to meet those numbers.”