Unitrans Ending Free Rides on Spare the Air Days for 2018

(Press release) Unitrans did its part to “Spare the Air” 15 days in a row, waiving fares for all riders July 27-Aug. 10, but, unfortunately, can no longer spare the expense and will discontinue the free-ride program from Monday, Aug. 27, through the end of the year.

Unitrans“With the high number of wildfires this year, Davis and the surrounding area experienced an unprecedented number of Spare the Air days, more than Unitrans anticipated in its annual budget,” said Jeff Flynn, general manager of the UC Davis and city transit system, which is operated by the Associated Students of UC Davis.

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Davis Tenants Clean & Green Bill of Rights - Message no. 1

DSCN4761By Todd Edelman

On the left in the photo is a new filter for our AC/furnace; on the right,  one about 60-75 days old including two weeks of wildfires. This is, of course, used inside the house, so everything here has come inside though we've had the doors and closed almost all of the time for the past couple of weeks.

These are MERV 13 filters (which our landlord is paying for! Thanks!) Two technicians from Blake's said that a filter of this high value is suitable for our fairly modern HVAC. These are what's planned for use at Lincoln40. When they get this black and clogged up they also start to whistle a bit in the holder as air is trying to go around them, which at least raises energy costs.

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Winters Putah Creek Park – Case Study of a Failed Project

Putah-creek-friends2Note: This is a follow-up to yesterday's post that described the lawsuit filed by the 501(c)3 non-profit Friends of Putah Creek; it is also authored by Friends of Putah Creek.

Description of the Project

The Winters Putah Creek Park project is a perfect example of good restoration intentions going awry and resulting in serious degradation of creek habitat by massive alteration of the natural form of the stream bed. This is being called “geomorphological engineering”.

The project was designed by the Solano County Water Agency (SCWA) to alter the streambed and riparian floodplain in three phases along the entire 1.2 miles of Putah Creek flowing through the City of Winters. The first phase was begun on the upper 1/3 end of the creek in 2011 by nearly clearcutting a mature riparian forest of native and non-native trees alike, from stream bank to stream bank, and importing over 70,000 cubic yards of alien, clayey fill. The soil was graded flat and smooth with a slight 2 percent slope toward stream. The floodplain and channel were heavily compacted and stream was left with only a narrow channel through the center of the former streambed. The final depth of the compacted fill varied from about 2 to over 12 ft.

Stream and floodplain features such as wetlands, ponds, swales, back-channels, undercut banks, and deep pools that create ecological diversity and complexity were completely eliminated in this process. The newly-formed barren floodplain was soon replanted with thousands of native plants. The intention was to quickly provide a fully functional riparian habitat complete with undercut banks and creek-side shading suitable for the entire food chain to thrive.

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Lawsuit Filed Challenging Adequacy of Environmental Review of Winters Putah Creek Park Project

Putah-creek-friends(Press release) On June 18, a lawsuit was filed by Davis Attorney Don Mooney, Esq. on behalf of his client, the 501(c)3 non-profit Friends of Putah Creek. The defendants named in the lawsuit are the Solano County Water Agency (SCWA) and the Central Valley Flood Control Board (CVFCB).  The lawsuit alleges that the CVFCB improperly approved an Encroachment Permit allowing the SCWA to continue to perform radical stream alterations on Putah Creek though the City of Winters and immediately downstream without doing appropriate environmental review as required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The lawsuit demands that the CVFCB require the SCWA to perform the requisite environmental review before proceeding with further work in the Putah Creek floodplain.

BACKGROUND OF THE WINTERS PUTAH CREEK PARK “RESTORATION” PROJECT AND LACK OF ENVIRONMENTAL COMPLIANCE - The Winters Putah Creek Park project is a so-called streamrestoration” that as initially proposed would have minimally disturbed the Putah Creek floodplain through the City of Winters by removing only invasive plant species and replanting the floodplain with native species. A Master Plan and Mitigated Negative Declaration that covers the Winters Putah Creek Park project was prepared by the City of Winters over a decade ago and is the only CEQA-related environmental review of the project.

These original plans were to be the guiding documents for all subsequent work and primarily focused on improvement of the riparian forest along the Creek by defining what plant species were to be preserved and lists invasive species to be removed. The plan stated that all native trees should be protected from damage, and only removed if deemed a hazard or “an impediment to approved renovation projects”. Annual work plans were to be provided for public review but, to date, no specific plans documenting what native trees and shrubs were to be removed have been submitted.

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Response to Rich Rifkin: Not all species are created equal, but all deserve our concern

In a recent post, I pointed out that the Endangered Species Act is under threat, and that responding to that threat requires our attention at the national, state, and local levels.  As if on cue, in a recent op-ed in the Davis Enterprise Rich Rifkin dismisses potential effects on three species at the Field & Pond site: the tricolored blackbird, the valley elderberry longhorn beetle and the golden eagle.

Picture attribution: By Tsuru8 - Own work http://www.tsuru-bird.net/image.htm, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8708549

 I don’t really have an opinion about whether there should be a B&B and regular parties on the Field & Pond site.  It strikes me as a classic land use conflict, and I can see both sides of the argument.  But regardless of the merits of either side, and regardless of the motivations of either side, the impacts on those three species need to be examined. 

Rifkin states that all you need to do to assess impacts is ride a bicycle and look.  When he went, he saw “a few structures, native trees, a large pond” as well as a doe and a fawn “chilling,” and he thinks that’s enough to determine that the blackbird, beetle, and eagle species won’t be affected.  Well, sorry, but that’s not how you evaluate impacts on endangered species (or threatened species, or species of special concern).[1]

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More on recent problems with the Davis Enterprise

News-stock-photoBy Eileen Samitz

I appreciate this Davisite article and completely agree with its response to the defensive Enterprise article by Tanya Perez. However, the problem with the Enterprise goes far beyond the few mentioned. The Enterprise needs to become more even-handed and print the comments and concerns of the wide variety of community members, instead of focusing on and reflecting personal opinions of its new editor Sebastian Oñate so often on its Forum page.

Further, it is inexcusable that the Enterprise's publishers would tolerate the condescending comments posted by its new editor, Sebastian Oñate (on Twitter) ridiculing Davis community members and their submitted writings to the Enterprise. His predecessor, Debbie Davis, was a professional who respected all opinions, regardless of whether she agreed with them or not, and would never have behaved so unprofessionally and disrespectfully towards the community.

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A response to Tanya Perez on the purpose of the Davis Enterprise

Perez-and-Beckett In Sunday’s paper, Tanya Perez writes a spirited and mostly reasonable defense of the Davis Enterprise, but she doesn’t quite get it.

Lamenting the loss of eagle-eyed editor Debbie Davis, AP news stories, and the like, Perez writes:

The Enterprise aims to give you the information you cannot get elsewhere. We know you have Google, so you can look up the recipe sections we no longer carry. You can Google comic strips you miss, or AP News stories or national headlines.

 We are trying to give you context for local issues. And we are working to tell you what people in our immediate area want to know. That is our core mission [emphasis added].

Right on.  This is certainly why I subscribe to the Enterprise – why I subscribed as soon as I moved here and why I continue to subscribe.  I am always a little baffled when people say they don’t read the local paper.  I think it’s important to know what is going on around us, even more so than what is going in the state or nation.

Where I think she misses one of the core missions of a local paper, however, is where she writes:

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Thinking Globally and Acting Locally (and Beyond) for Endangered and Threatened Species

British-Columbia-eagleThere are important lessons to be learned from the case of the bald eagle.  The Endangered Species Act (ESA) – now under threat itself – is important, but as the bald eagle shows, we have to use all the tools available to us at the local, state, and national levels to protect endangered and threatened species.

The iconic bald eagle is considered a success story of the ESA, although the truth is a bit more complicated than that.  Before the ESA was passed in 1973, the bald eagle was covered by preceding legislation such as the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940.  Two other actions are considered crucial to the recovery of the bald eagle in the U.S.: the banning of the pesticide DDT in 1972 and the subsequent importing of eagles from Canada to the U.S. in the 1970s.  Together, these protections and actions allowed the bald eagle to be removed from the list of endangered species. 

Although the bald eagle still has some protections within the U.S., its delisting under the ESA does present some challenges; for example, prime bald eagle habitat can be developed on without facing legal challenge.  Thus, we should not rest on our laurels too much, even for a success story like the bald eagle.

Moreover, at the national level, the ESA is under attack.  As the New Yorker summarizes:

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Women for Water Research swim Trans Tahoe Relay

On Saturday, July 21, I had the opportunity to join five other UC Davis-affiliated women to swim the Trans Tahoe Relay.  The Trans Tahoe Relay serves as a fundraiser for Keep Tahoe Blue, but we also swam to support the  Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC) and the Center for Watershed Sciences (CWS).  The day was sunny, the water was cool, clear, and refreshing, the mountains ringing the lake were beautiful.  It was an exhilarating, fun, tiring, and fulfilling day.

Just to give a sense of size of the lake and its surroundings, here I am with my guard poodles at a Lake Tahoe overlook in August 2014.

The Trans Tahoe Relay is a race that crosses the northern end of Lake Tahoe from east to west at a part of the lake where it is 10 miles wide.  (The lake overall is approximately 22 miles long and 12 miles wide – it’s a very large and deep lake!).  Teams are composed of six swimmers each, with a support boat.  (We owe big thanks to TERC for providing us with a boat and to TERC’s director, Geoff Schladow, for piloting the boat).  The rules are that each swimmer swims for 30 minutes, and then takes turn swimming 10 minutes each, until the 10 miles is completed.  On our team, after our first leg each of us did two 10-minute legs, with two members of the team doing a third 10-minute leg.  So, we didn’t break any speed records, but we were happy with our result anyway!

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Pedestrian, bike, and auto safety in Davis

Davis has a well earned reputation for being concerned about safety......why, we even invented bike lanes in Davis! And many other towns have copied us.

But we started bike lanes DECADES ago when the town had a much smaller population and much less traffic.  How are we doing these days?  How are we doing in 2018? 

Is Davis considered a safe town to ride a bike in?  To be a pedestrian?  To be a pedestrian if you are a Senior Citizen? Or a child?  How ARE we doing?

I am prompted to ask this by an article I read in today's LA Times about traffic flow and safety in LA, the Land of the Automobile.  Here's the article:  http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-speed-trap-20180722-story.html

So, if anybody knows if there is an evidence-baed information on transportation safety in Davis, I would sure appreciate your letting me know about it.  It would be great to see a report which examines different locations in Davis, different modes of transportation, different transportation users, multiple year trends, etc.  Thanks!


Shamanic + Clown + Healing

36703475_415183308992980_8406250334082564096_nThis is probably not the combination of words you were expecting.

By Carey Ann Hunt and Colin Walsh

Leif in Motion and Shamaniclown.net are holding their first free Playshop titled Begin Big Change!. It will be Sunday July 22nd, 10:00am to 12:00 at Davis Holistic Health Center. 1403 5th Street, Suite B.

You read that right - Shamanic Clown.

Should the idea of a healing shamanic clown experience even be taken seriously? Yes and No and that, folks, is exactly the point.

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Statement from the One By One Rescue Project on the separation of Yolo SPCA from Yolo County Animal Services

SpcadivorceEffective today, July 1, 2018, Yolo SPCA is no longer contracted with Yolo County Animal Services. As many of you know, as a rescue organization, we have pulled many dogs from YCAS over the past 3 years and during that time, we have gotten to know the programs there very well. For those who don't know, Yolo SPCA has been contracted with YCAS for many, many years so this change is a major event to happen at YCAS. Yolo SPCA is it's own organization, a non-profit, just like us, who has partnered with YCAS, the county operated shelter, to provide a variety of services. The services primarily provided by Yolo SPCA include operating the behavior modification program, managing the shelter intern program, posting all the rescue pleas for at risk animals, facilitating adoptions, and a myriad of other services. They also supported the shelter run foster program and volunteer programs. These services have been critical in increasing the live release rate at the shelter and are all programs are widely promoted and supported by the No Kill Equation which aims to save the lives of treatable animals. Any rescue who has worked with this shelter has encountered Yolo SPCAS staff. Anyone adopting a dog from the shelter has more than likely worked with Yolo SPCA staff. The impact Yolo SPCA has had on saving lives in Yolo County is immeasurable. Anyone who has encountered the Yolo SPCA staff knows how hard they work and how instrumental they were in getting the shelter to where it is today.

We know this is long but it's a story that needs to be told. We've been sitting on it, trying to come up with the right words to say to convey how upset we are and how very much we intend to do everything possible to right this wrong, and we feel it's time to speak out.  We ask that you read the entire post.

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Bad process leads to mediocre decision on pesticide use in Davis, and not without wasted time and effort from staff and citizens

PesticideapplicationAt its November 7, 2017 meeting, the City Council voted to change its Integrated Pest Management (IPM) policy, as well as ban the use of neonicotinoids (implicated in colony collapse disorder in bees) and a phase-out of glyphosate (often sold as Roundup, listed by the State of California as a probable human carcinogen). The decision was a mixed bag, containing some good elements and some bad.  This article describes some of the events that led up to that decision.  I write now because, with a new Council just seated, I hope that some of the bad process chronicled here can be avoided for future decisions.

This piece will of necessity be a bit lengthy.  And that is part of my point.  It took far too long for this issue to come to the City Council for a vote.  At every turn certain staff members[1] sought to delay and subvert the will of commissioners, of citizens, and even of City Council members.  As Jon Li says, sometimes one has to ask, “who is in charge in Davis?”

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Response to Davis Enterprise Article, UCD LRDP Goes to Regents

WestvillageBy Greg Rowe

The recent Davis Enterprise article about UCD’s 2018 Long Range Development Plan going to the Regents for approval on July 18 warrants rebuttal. UCD proclaims the LRDP builds on the success of the 2003 plan “…and charts ambitious sustainability and housing options…”  But this statement ignores that the 2003 LRDP expected that 36% of total enrollment of 30,000 students would live on campus by 2015-16, but in reality UCD missed the mark by 1400 beds, with only 29% of the 3-quarter average of 32,663 students that year living on campus (most in freshman dorms which they had to vacate for sophomore year).   

In addition, a Board of Regents student housing report issued in November 2002 expected UCD would house 38% of its students by 2012 (with a goal of 40% living on campus) but by 2015-16 only 29% lived on campus, translating to a shortfall exceeding 1800 beds. While UCD’s new housing goals seem ambitious, it obscures the fact that UCD has consistently surpassed enrollment projections while under-producing the housing needed meet the needs of its expanded enrollment.  The previous Chancellor’s overly ambitious “2020 Initiative,” which aimed to boost enrollment by 5,000 more students than required by the Regents, significantly exacerbated the student housing shortage.

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Considerate Decision by Council Regarding Public Comment Process

CityCouncilJul2018Last Tuesday, the subject of public comment procedures was on the City Council’s agenda. Incoming Mayor Brett Lee had proposed some potential changes such as limiting general public comment to 45 minutes, with remaining speakers coming back at the end of the meeting, and shortening individual public comment from three minutes to two and a half minutes.

The intention of the changes was potentially to try to expedite the meetings in the spirit of greater efficiency. However, there were a number of citizens’ emails sent to Council objecting to the proposed changes and around a dozen citizens testified, urging the Council not to make these changes. It was clear that there was a Council majority who wanted to try alternative methods to the proposed changes to manage public comment. These alternative methods, including use of the 1-,2-,3- minute method for public comment when there are many speakers (that is, encouraging commenters to speak for only one or two minutes, instead of the full three allowed, and giving those speakers priority in the queue), served as a great relief to many people whom expressed concern about the original proposals.  But it was helpful for the issue to be discussed with the public, explaining the unintended consequences that would result from forcing people to return at the end of the Council meeting to testify, particularly when an item they wanted to comment on likely would have already been voted on.

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Cool new nutritional informational program in Kern County!

Kern County Public Health Department has launched a new voluntary informational program for people and families dining at Kern County restaurants.

Restaurants can seek to qualify as 'Certified Healthy" if they meet several specific criteria including:

Program criteria

Here is the list of criteria that restaurants must follow to qualify for the Certified Healthy program. These can be met either as part of the regular menu or with a lite menu.

  • At least six menu items under 500 calories
  • An option for fruits and/or vegetables as a side item for meals
  • At least one salad option
  • Whole grain bread as a side option
  • At least six menu items with less than 30 percent of sodium
  • Meal items with less than five grams of saturated fat
  • No meals exceeding 2,000 calories
  • Offers at least five vegetarian meal dishes
  • A non-fried fish option
  • At least four items containing 10 grams of fiber.

Check it out here!

Hauling Agriculture

Tomato truckBy Tom Owczarzak

When I was in college I drove tomato trucks during the summer to make money for the year. It’s one of those crazy jobs where you work sixteen-hour days, every day, for about 80 days.

At the time, I thought I was making good money – I wasn’t.

But the real hook was that you were working so much you just never had time to spend it – you ended up saving a big chunk of dough – even, if like me, you suck at saving money.

And that is huge for a college student.

It was just a miserable job.

I have always had a thing for jobs that pushed me beyond some limit.

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Downtown/Core Planning Should Be Part of a Holistic, Organic Plan for Davis Overall

Davis-neighborhoodsBy Nancy Price

I'm glad for Chris Jones' alternative vision. In my opinion, the process has been hijacked by special commercial interests, outside planners, the Planning Department and the City Council. Having attended two meetings, seems to me the community is being railroaded by the process, stirred up by the dream that downtown redevelopment that will cure Davis' ills, especially the economic "problems," and be the city of the future.

Though the process appears to be democratic and fully participatory, the outside consultants were rude, didn't answer questions honestly and without bias, and dismissed others...treating many participants as lacking the requisite "credentials" and education on planning to participate meaningfully. How many of our tax dollars are being spent on this process?

Yes, the town square concept described by Chris Jones has historical, traditional roots with major state institutions clustered around the square or central commons: church, school, administrative and judicial offices, financial institutions, etc. But let's be honest, cities all over the world are made up of neighborhoods that replicate the same concept on a smaller scale.

Here I offer another alternative. Why create a downtown that is a central place in the economic/social hierarchy? That's how we in Davis have always thought of the downtown - the "Main Street." In fact, after a few of us "saved" Central Park from being a three-tiered shopping mall, we created the first Core Area Task Force..maybe that was 1987 or 88 or 89. We have always had a very protective attitude toward the "core" and tried to ensure peripheral malls would not compete with the core.

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Nugget... or Fool's Gold? (4699 Alhambra Drive, Office/R&D)

In the development process in Davis, is there an elephant in the room (or the City Council chambers)? Source: https://www.santoro-london.com/en/products/Fruity-Scooty-Notebook-Elephant

The following letter was submitted by Todd Edelman to the Planning Commission for its meeting tonight, July 11, at 7 PM.


Dear Planning Commissioners,

First of all I would like to say that I consider it very unfortunate that the Downtown Plan Advisory Committee (DPAC) meeting is scheduled at the same time as the Planning Commission (PC) meeting. Tomorrow's Bicycling, Transportation and Street Safety (BTSSC) meeting has been cancelled, but - again - it was planned as simultaneous to that night's DPAC meeting.


Second - just so you know - the BTSSC is not apparently seeing this project. I am not clear why this is the case. Aside from their individual unique perspectives and goals, there is a welcome overlap in the scope of what the BTSSC and PC look at in regards to mobility. It seems that this will be missing from this evaluation. I write here on my own behalf.


JUMP down the page for my suggested SOLUTIONS



Nugget is by most accounts a great company that treats its employees well and offers great service and products (though so far the seeded watermelon on sale this year needs some help...). But the mobility profile for their retail locations bears no relation to our City's goals in our Council-approved Beyond Platinum bicycle plan from 2014: While the goal for bicycle trips for shopping is 30% by 2020, my multiple non-scientific visual surveys over the past 18 months at Nugget on E. Covell show a share between 2 and 4% at best. Even if a large, automobile-oriented market is informally considered to only be responsible for a 15% goal, this location only fulfills a fraction of it (and, by the way this 15% would need to be balanced by other destinations shooting for 45%!).

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