Thursday's Caltrans Workshop Key to Davis Growth and Climate Future

IMG_6919By Alan Hirsch

On Thursday Caltrans will hold a workshop on the future of the I-80 corridor, Davis’s Connection to the rest of the World.  It will be in the Blanchard room of the Library at 6:30pm.

Caltrans will be considering different options to deal with transportation demand in this corridor.

Will they just address only thru traffic, i.e. Tahoe Snowbirds...or real needs of people who live in the corridor, for example transit needs that can’t be met by slow, limited stop and expensive Capitol Corridor Train service or the anemic and unreliable Yolobus service?

If you care about traffic on Mace Blvd...or how we can have accommodate economic growth in Davis -- like the proposed 12,000 (!!!)  trip a day Aggie business park on Mace curve  -- this is the meeting to go to.

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Major Olive Drive Mixed Use Project App. Only Disclosed After Questions Raised

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Another example of big development lacking public disclosure is on tonight's City Council Agenda

By Colin Walsh

The City of Davis failed to disclose a significant new 76 unit project proposal on Olive Drive (addresses 1031, 1037, 1041, 1047, and 1055), just down from the corner of Richards and Olive, until a contract for environmental review was placed on the consent calendar for the Nov. 19 meeting. Even then the City failed to disclose ANY of the application information until citizens asked for it. With the documents only released on mid Friday afternoon before a council meeting Davis citizens are left with little opportunity to review the pages of material.

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Linda Deos responds to anti-Provenza op-ed

Supervisor race kerfuffle

Linda-Deos
Linda Deos, candidate for Yolo County Supervisor

By Linda Deos

Last week, the United States House of Representatives began impeachment hearings, focused on the President’s decision to withhold Congressionally approved military aide from Ukraine in exchange for dirt on his political opponent. This same week, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court indicated it might take away DACA, President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, threatening millions of young immigrants with potential deportation. These actions highlight the vast powers of the state, and the ways they can be wielded against innocent people.

We live in the City of Davis, often referred to with a bit of pride by longtime, liberal residents (and consternation by more conservative ones) as ‘The People’s Republic of Davis.’ But we are also the city that made national news a few years ago when protesting students were pepper sprayed by campus police. And now we are a city where a longtime Enterprise columnist casually referred to a group of Davis residents as “Trumpian” for writing an op-ed in the paper.

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Business park outside of Mace curve takes another step

Notice of Scoping Meeting and Preparation of a Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR)

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Rough map showing approximate outline of proposed business park - Corrected from earlier image, which did not show full scale of project

What follows is the official notice of a meeting that you can attend to give input on the Supplemental EIR on the so-called "Aggie Research Campus," formerly named "Mace Ranch Innovation Center."  The project would include not only offices and R&D space, but also housing and a hotel, with ~4300 parking spaces total.

Information on the project can be found on the City of Davis's website, here.

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The Flag on My Porch

FlagBy Colin Walsh

So my dear neighbors I want to tell you about the flag I just hung on my porch. You probably recognize it. It has been increasingly popular in recent years as more people display it. It has come to be a symbol of pride for many, but others find it surprisingly controversial. I want to tell you why I put it out.

It all started over the last few years. Increasingly there are kids at my house who view gender very differently than my friends and I did growing up. There is really a whole range of ideas that have been represented among the young people that come and go from my house and that is just what I know about.

Sadly, as I have talked with these young people, I have learned that many of their parents are unaccepting of their self-perception. For example, I know one young man coming of age who identifies male, but their father insists on calling them by their very feminine birth name. There are others who, I have learned, struggle with their parents over whether or not it is OK to love or desire the gender they have realized they do. It makes me sad to think of the pain not being accepted by their parents causes them, so I started thinking I might fly a flag in front of my house, so they know they are welcome here.

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It is all on schedule

BoardsBy Tom Owczarzak

I’ve been replacing a rotten deck this week. It is a pretty standard task in my world. Replacing rotten things. The fact of the matter is that nature wants to break down non-living things and return them to their cellular state. Once something stops growing, like wood, nature brings a variety of tools to bear to break it apart. Sun, rain, insects – all in the toolbox.

It provides a pretty serious level of job security.

So, when I am working on these projects, I think of myself as part of the toolbox as well. Although I have tools of destruction on my side that speed it up considerably. And like the other natural elements that work toward deterioration, I try to return the material to some form that can be re-used by nature.

I have taken almost every part of a house and re-purposed it into another part of another house a multitude of times. My last house was built almost entirely out of three other houses. Wood, tile, stone, even leftover paint have all been used with impunity.

And it usually makes me think about the cycle of things. How one thing turns into another which turns into another.

When I was teaching in college, I used to tell students that reincarnation was nothing more than composting. The various parts of us eventually become the parts of other things. And in that way, we are reborn thousands of times.

And these days I have been looking around the world at all the things that people are despairing about and thinking the same thing.

There is nothing in this universe that lasts forever. Nothing. Eventually, they will rot and deteriorate or just be worn down and need to be replaced. It is not a tragedy. It is life.

The Buddhists say that most of the grief in life comes from trying to hold on to these impermanent things. And when we can accept the impermanence then we can be freed from this endless cycle of sadness.

I kinda buy into the idea even if I still get attached to things. Not holding on to the people I love is a near impossible task. And their passing brings about tremendous suffering. But I do believe that everything passes and our relationship to that is life defining.

Sometimes I find myself wanting to broadcast some grand message to the world. To try to get a couple things across to everyone. And I mean everyone. Lately it has been this message. That there is nothing permanent in this world. And change is not a tragedy. It is natural.

That we can live our lives without the impending sense of doom or panic. That we can accept the change as it comes – even if we are attached to the things that are changing.

Basically, that all things, good or bad, pass. And, if we have faith, these things will come around again. Not in the exact same way but in some manner.

And, most importantly, that it all works out in the end. I believe that.

Happy Wednesday everyone. I hope you can find some acceptance for the things that change in your life today. Maybe it is something small or maybe it is ground-shaking. But it is all on schedule and part of the glorious ride called life. And if you are having trouble accepting it – that’s cool too. There’s room for that as well. It will all work out in the end either way.


United Methodist Alternative Giving Fair Benefits Non-Profits

(From press release) Benefit the greater good while shopping for the holidays at the Davis United Methodist Church Alternative Giving Fair, Sunday morning, November 24, from 9:30 to 1 pm. 

The fair will include homemade items, handicrafts from around the world, calendars, cards and other seasonal items.  All proceeds benefit non-profits, such as Heifer International, Sierra Club, Grace Garden, Sahaya International, and United Methodist service projects.  The church is located at 1620 Anderson Road in Davis. 

Davis United Methodist Church is a reconciling and an inclusive community of faith.  Church services are Sundays at 8:30 and 11:00.  For more information, visit www.davisumc.org or contact the church office at davisumc@davisumc.org or 530-756-2170.


Winters Votes to Join Valley Clean Energy

VCE(From press release) The city of Winters is the fourth local jurisdiction to join Valley Clean Energy, Yolo County’s not-for-profit public clean power electricity agency. The cities of Woodland and Davis as well as the unincorporated area of Yolo County are already members, having launched the agency in June 2018.

At its Oct. 15 meeting, the Winters City Council passed a resolution approving the terms of membership in VCE as well as the first reading of an ordinance authorizing implementation of the community choice aggregation program for all electricity customers in Winters. The second reading and adoption of the ordinance occurred at the Nov. 5 council meeting.

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Bring the Claw Back

Diminished yard waste pick up proves woefully inadequate

By Colin Walsh

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Fallen palm fronds dwarf the organic carts the City has provided to put them in North Davis.

This past August while many were away on vacation the Davis City Council voted to greatly diminish street yard waste pick up that many refer to as "The Claw." For decades yard waste pick up had been routine with The Claw visiting neighborhoods weekly. But over the last few years the City has slowly reduced the service. This last reduction has certainly gone too far.

Arguments made for reduction included cost savings for the City, bicycle safety, and improved general City appearances.

The savings were not fully realized because Recology ended up charging a lot more than expected. As the August 13th report to the City Council states, "The reasoning for the higher rate is the potential that the same volume of material may be collected (occurring during alternate weeks as opposed to every week) and the landfill fees for the volume totals make up the bulk of the per unit rate. In addition, labor costs associated with the pick-ups are anticipated to be higher as it will likely take longer to pick up in one week the same amount of material previously set out over two weeks."

In the last 2 weeks we have now seen that the bicycle safety and appearance goals have not only not been met, the situation has gotten considerably worse. There was a significant windstorm on Sunday 10/27 that left large amounts of debris in yards and on the street. Homeowners fairly quickly responded by pulling the debris into the street in violation of the City's new rules. Under our old Claw schedule pick up would have begun immediately. Under the new schedule debris sat in the streets for much longer. In many places it may be more than 2 weeks.

Informal reports from around the City indicate it is likely The Claw is well behind schedule and yard waste piles are still sitting out in neighborhoods where it was already due for pick up.

What follows is an unscientific photo essay from around town showing some of the problems.

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Some important clarifications on EIR updates for the ARC

Other issues unfortunately went unaddressed

ARC-location-overviewBy Roberta Millstein

At Tuesday's City Council meeting, an item concerning updating the old Mace Ranch Innovation Center (MRIC) Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the new Aggie Research Campus (ARC) proposal was pulled from the Consent Calendar, allowing for staff and Council discussion of the issue in addition to public comment.

Five commenters addressed the item, including three commenters whose prepared comments appear in a sister article to this one.  Together, these comments made clear why an issue this substantive should never have been on the Consent Calendar in the first place, which is meant for uncontroversial issues that don’t require discussion.

Interestingly, in stark contrast to the last meeting where ARC was on the Consent Calendar, there were no student speakers in support of the project, corroborating the appearance that the previous speakers were coordinated and arranged.

Issues raised included:

Continue reading "Some important clarifications on EIR updates for the ARC" »


Three comments concerning updates to the ARC EIR

Three-commenters

Many concerns raised about the proposed environmental analysis, timeline, and more

At Tuesday's City Council meeting, an item concerning updating the old Mace Ranch Innovation Center (MRIC) Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the new Aggie Research Campus (ARC) proposal was pulled from the Consent Calendar, allowing for staff and Council discussion of the issue in addition to public comment. 

However, it was a very packed agenda, and so Mayor Lee limited comment time for all citizen speakers on all items to 2 minutes rather than the usual 3.  What follows are the prepared comments from Roberta Millstein, Colin Walsh, and Rik Keller, which are more extensive than the actual comments that they had time to present.  (The City Council's response to these comments is described in a subsequent article).

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MACE MESS: CALLING IT WHAT IT IS

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By Char Henwood

Here’s what it is, folks:  the Mace Mess is a very bad design.  It was bad when conceived in 2010, bad when the design was completed in 2013 (without a traffic study), and bad when installed (against South Davis residents’ strenuous objections) in 2018-2019.  We’ve lived with it for a year, and it is still a bad design.  At least one bicyclist has been seriously injured and ended up with a plate with 10 screws in her forearm.  She was not hit by a car – the bike trough got her. 

Here’s what the Mace Mess is not:  It was not and is not a response to a safety issue.  There were no bicyclist/pedestrian car-involved accidents on Mace in the 10 years prior to the installation of the Mace Mess.  Residents have reported over 120 traffic incidents to the City Council since March of 2019 following completion of the Mace Mess project. From the perspective of South Davis residents, it appears that none of this information has been given to the design team that is theoretically developing an improved design to fix Mace.   It’s a miracle only one person has been seriously injured so far. 

The Mace Mess is/was not an attempt to promote a safe bike route to schools.  The initial Mace project was intended to improve the sidewalks and to repave Mace and the bike lanes.  The safe route to schools rhetoric was tacked on ex post facto to get grant money from SACOG.  With SACOG and BTSSC input, the project was expanded to turn Mace, a major artery for South Davis, into a “residential” street, and to “force residents out of their cars” because South Davis residents are “too car-centric.”  Agricultural businesses South of Mace that use Mace to get their equipment across I-80 were never consulted.  The City admits they did not do a traffic study; they just barged in with a doctrinaire attitude and strong-armed the project to completion.  Now we have a dangerous design that the City would rather not fix because they might have to repay SACOG some part of $3M in grant money.  BTW, South Davis residents have not been able to get answers to questions about SACOG’s position on modifying the current (need I repeat it?) VERY BAD design. 

The Mace Mess is not a pitched battle (as represented by the bike lobby) between young parents concerned about their children’s safety and ancient and vociferous residents who don’t care if other people’s children are injured.  Older South Davis residents sent their kids off to Pioneer and other Davis schools without concern and know that there was never a safety issue on Mace.  The bike lobby seems to want bicyclists to believe that the bike lanes will be taken away if Mace Boulevard is restored.  This is not what residents asked for and it is puzzling when people who are looking directly at proposed corrections with bike lanes represented on the slides react as if the bike lanes will be taken away.  The City has cherry-picked input on the Mace Mess bike troughs, when in fact for every bicyclist who has said they like the bike troughs there have been as many (plus some representatives of bicycling clubs)  who have pointed out that they are dangerous. 

South Davis residents who drive (even the old ones) do not get up in the morning determined to run over bicyclists and pedestrians.  South Davis residents understand how navapps work.  South Davis residents understand that congestion on I-80 and navapps are big contributors to congestion on Mace.  South Davis residents just want Mace redesigned so that congestion clears as quickly as possible.  In short, we want the City to fix what it broke – Mace Boulevard.   It is pretty hilarious (and/or infuriating, take your pick) that the consultants’ possible solution that provides the second-best travel time on NB Mace is close to the original configuration, and that that the possible solution that provides the best improvement in NB Mace travel time is the old configuration plus a traffic light at Montgomery. 

Until the last few months, the City has been reluctant to admit they made a terrible, expensive mistake and to accept the responsibility to fix it.  Claiming that the Mace Mess is solely the result of I-80 traffic and navapps, thus providing the City with a much-desired excuse to not fix what they have broken, is irresponsible. 

And if the Mace Mess isn’t fixed, someone is going to be seriously injured or worse because it’s a VERY BAD DESIGN. 

 


Downtown Parking and Virtue Signaling

6a017d3c4588ca970c0240a44d33e1200c-800wiBy Glen Holstein

While collecting signatures at the Farmer’s Market for the initiative to facilitate Davis parking we found most folks taking the time to stop signed.  A few, however, were quite hostile and wanted walking and biking to be the only method of Davis travel by making driving so onerous by means like limiting parking that folks would abandon cars.  This war on cars supported by key city staff and partially enabled by the city council is what’s made our initiative necessary.  Its results are all around us:  traffic clogging structures causing gridlock at Mace Boulevard, meter schemes that reduce parking convenience, elimination of former parking areas, lack of the traffic light synchronization that eases traffic flow in Sacramento and Woodland, and new longer waits at signals that have increased red light running. 

All this has done nothing to eliminate cars.  It has only excluded from central Davis those too disabled to walk or bike and those wanting to use their vehicles to make purchases.  Meanwhile sprawl is facilitated by making free commercial lots at the edge of Davis or in other towns more attractive.

Extremists who want Davis transportation limited to walking and biking claim it’s about climate change, but it’s not.  Diverting traffic from the core to more distant places makes climate change worse, not better.  So does causing vehicles to idle at every red light as they inch across town.  Even those in hybrid or electric vehicles are frustrated by these unnecessary and harassing delays.

What it is about and only about is virtue signaling so the few in their spandex suits can feel morally superior to the rest of us.


City smuggles ARC EIR decision onto Tuesday’s Consent Calendar

Transportation consultant believes ARC may result in new significant impacts or a substantial increase in the severity of significant impacts.

ARC-location-overviewBy Roberta Millstein

After the controversy over the approval of the Mace Ranch Innovation Center (MRIC) Environmental Impact Report (EIR) back in February 2017, and after having to pull the most recent son-of-MRIC item from the Consent Calendar (the project now misleadingly dubbed “Aggie Research Campus” or ARC), you would think that the City Council would have learned its lesson not to try to smuggle important items on the Consent Calendar, where items are meant to be uncontroversial and passed unanimously without any staff presentation or discussion from Council or citizens.

If you thought that, as I did, you were mistaken.

Readers may recall that the ARC is a proposal for a ~200 acre business park with housing and hotel to be built outside Mace curve on prime farmland.  When the City Council approved the EIR, they knew it was very possible, even likely, that updates to the EIR would be needed in light of changes to the project or changes to relevant conditions, such as traffic.  Now that the City is moving forward with evaluating the new ARC proposal, the time has come to revisit the EIR.

Staff is recommending that the Council authorize the City Manager to enter into a contract with Raney Planning & Management, Inc. to prepare a Supplemental EIR and to approve a budget for that purpose, to be paid by the applicant.  However, there are at least three potential concerns with this recommendation.

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Reisig Endorsement Raises Concerns About Provenza

As the race for District 4 County Supervisor begins to take shape, we are surprised to see incumbent Jim Provenza advertise that he is “proud to have [Yolo DA] Jeff Reisig's endorsement.”

To us, it doesn't feel that long ago that we were fighting to bring change to the Yolo DA's office, and so naturally we view Supervisor Provenza's embrace of DA Reisig with concern.

Lately (especially since the closer-than-expected 2018 election), DA Reisig has tried to fashion himself as a “progressive prosecutor.” We find this hard to square with his record of fighting progressive reform.

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Learn more about the draft Downtown Davis Specific Plan

What do you want your downtown to look like?  How many stories do you want it to be?

Downtown Davis Plan and Amtrak Study Workshop FlierBy Roberta Millstein

Here are three ways to find out more about the draft Downtown Davis Specific Plan:

  1. Watch the Opticos Video Presentation to DPAC
    The October 24th Opticos presentation to the Downtown Plan Advisory Committee (DPAC) is available for viewing on the City video archives under  at https://www.cityofdavis.org/city-hall/city-council/city-council-meetings/meeting-videos – click on "Other."  The Opticos presentation at the DPAC meeting begins at about the 05:00 minute mark on the video and goes until 1:02:00. The presentation provides a good introduction and overview of the Draft Downtown Plan and also touches on the Draft Form Based Code.  It is followed by about 1.5 hours of DPAC questions and comments if interested in that part of the meeting.

  2. Community Meeting/Open House – Saturday November 2nd at 1:00 PM
    This Saturday (tomorrow) there will be a Community meeting at the Davis Community Church starting at 1:00 PM. It is for the general public and anyone is welcome. There will be a brief presentation at 1:30, but will primarily be an open house format for the public to come at their convenience. See flier above.

  3. Other Meetings
    Other meetings include a DPAC meeting scheduled for November 14th for committee discussion about the draft plan and two training sessions on the Form Based Code for code users scheduled for November 20th and December 11th. Meeting information is available at: https://www.cityofdavis.org/city-hall/community-development-and-sustainability/planning-and-zoning/downtown-davis-plan/news-and-updates.

The draft Davis Downtown Plan itself is here: https://www.cityofdavis.org/city-hall/community-development-and-sustainability/planning-and-zoning/downtown-davis-plan. The Draft Downtown Davis Specific Plan and Draft Downtown Form Based Code are available for a 90-day public review and comment period ending January 14, 2020. Public comments should be submitted using the online comment form.

More information on the Davis Amtrak Access and Connections Study is here: https://www.cityofdavis.org/city-hall/city-manager-s-office/davis-amtrak-access-and-connections-study

 


Davis Post Carbon Association

DPCAGreetings Residents of Davis!

Let us introduce you to the Davis Post Carbon Association, a grassroots organization bringing together the community to address climate issues both locally and globally. We want to transition out of a carbon-based economy to a post-carbon economy by 2040. Post-carbon means (1) sequestering more carbon than we are emitting (also called being carbon negative), (2) designing our communities so that we regenerate natural resources, eliminate waste, and live in alignment with the needs of nature. We have six core goals to help the community fulfill this intention before it may be too late for our planet.

  1. Include everybody in our community so we can transition together instead of having to figure it out on our own
  2. Educate each other about the science of sustainability and how to apply it to our lives as individuals and members of a community
  3. Work with homeowners and businesses to help private organizations transition. 
  4. Work with government to help public infrastructure transition
  5. Support labor unions, activist groups, faith-based groups, and other organizations in their efforts to transition
  6. Raise funds to support the efforts of community organizers, educators, project facilitators, and to finance modifications of private and public infrastructure, lands, and operational systems (transportation, waste-management, energy utilities, etc)

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As the fires rage and the blackouts continue, Newsom ducks

The guv sounds tough -- but he has no plan. And he's ignoring the only (obvious) solution to the current and future crisis.

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Gav talks tough about PG&E — until it comes to solutions.

By Tim Redmond

Gov. Gavin Newsom is sounding all harsh and tough toward PG&E as Northern California burns out of control again and the blackouts continue.

At a press event that he promoted on Twitter, Newsom said that PG&E’s “years of greed, years of mismanagement, years and years of putting shareholders over people are over.”

Watch the video: It’s classic Newsom. “We will hold them to account,” he says. “We will restructure” the company when it gets out of bankruptcy.

And then … what?

How is that “restructuring” going to work if PG&E remains a privately owned utility that sets up its own corporate structure? How are we going to “hold to account” a company when it’s already in total collapse – and Newsom has no plan to address that except to ask Warren Buffett to buy it?

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Soroptimists offer cash grants to women to boost their education and training

Live Your Dream 2019 updated(From press release) Women who serve as the primary wage earners for their families and seek financial assistance to further their education or training are urged to apply for the Soroptimist Live Your Dream: Education and Training Awards for Women.

Applications are available at bit.ly/LYDA-apply, or by emailing Soroptimist International of Davis at sidavis@soroptimist.net.

The application deadline is Nov. 15. This year, the Davis club has $6,500 for grants, which will be awarded in amounts between $500 and $3,000. The top recipient’s application will advance to the Soroptimist Sierra Nevada Region level, where recipients could receive thousands more. The program culminates with three $10,000 awards. Recipients can use the Live Your Dream Award to offset any costs associated with their efforts to attain higher education or additional skills and training. This includes tuition, books, childcare, transportation or any other education-related expense.

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VCE Pays Back Startup Loans Early

VCE_loan_repaid_early
Pictured left to right: VCE Board member and Yolo County Supervisor  Don Saylor, VCE Chair and Woodland City Council member Tom Stallard, VCE Board member and Davis City Council member Lucas Frerichs, and VCE Interim General Manager Mitch Sears

(From press release) Valley Clean Energy’s board of directors has announced that the local community choice energy agency is repaying its start-up loans early, years ahead of schedule.

VCE was formed in 2016 as a joint powers agency comprising the city of Davis and the unincorporated area of Yolo County. The city of Woodland joined later, in 2017. Each agency lent VCE $500,000 to cover program implementation costs with a requirement that the loans would be repaid with interest.

“Now, after less than 1½ years in operation, we are repaying the loans — far ahead of schedule,” said Tom Stallard, a member of the Woodland City Council who chairs the VCE board of directors. “The agency’s firm financial footing allows us to do so.”

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