Comments for the Natural Resources Commission review of DiSC 2022

TrafficThe following comments were shared with the Natural Resources Commission at its meeting last night and are reposted here with permission of the author.

This is Alan Pryor speaking as a former 12-year NRC Commissioner. I think it's telling to review a comment made by a Planning Commissioner at a hearing on this project last year.

"You want this to be the most sustainable, innovative tech campus in the United States. But you have come to us with a car-dominated, auto-centric proposal on the edge of town, far from the capitol corridor station, not linked to good transit, with huge parking lots and parking structures. Widening Mace to accommodate more traffic is not the answer. It's going to induce more traffic."

Nothing has functionally changed with this project since then except its size is been reduced by less than half but the applicant is now proposing transportation features that are even less conducive to non- automotive forms of transportation.

For instance the applicant is now refusing to construct the previously agreed upon off-grade crossing to allow arriving pedestrians and bicyclists to safely cross six lanes of Mace Boulevard during rush-hour traffic. How is that possibly welcoming to bicyclists and pedestrian employees arriving on the west side of the street or to school kids living at the project trying to get to school and back each day without a parent driving them.

Also, the original proposal was an environmental nightmare in that it projected over 83,000,000 lbs of CO2 equivalent emitted each year. The new estimate is about  45,000,000 lbs of CO2 equivalent per year - or about 4.5% of the City's current carbon footprint for this one project alone. All of these emissions would have to be later eliminated for the City to reach carbon neutrality by 2040 but the developer has not proposed how they will do this.

Continue reading "Comments for the Natural Resources Commission review of DiSC 2022" »


Use of American Rescue Plan Funds (ARP) to obtain an Urban Tree Canopy Assessment and Report

Street-treesThe following letter was shared with the Davisite this morning.

Dear City of Davis ARP Subcommittee:

The City of Davis' urban forest is comprised of trees, gardens, green spaces and other natural areas. This urban tree canopy provides a myriad of benefits making our communities cleaner, safer and healthier while reducing the costs associated with many services. Managing, monitoring, and enhancing this important resource is critical to sustained economic development and environmental health.

I am requesting that sufficient ARP funds are dedicated to allow for: (1) A complete analysis of Land Cover and Urban Tree Canopy; (2) Assess an Ecosystem Benefits Analyses, including: air quality, energy, stormwater, and carbon; (3) GIS-based and other tools to model strategic tree canopy development scenarios; and (4) Complete training for Davis Tree Canopy Partners, such as Tree Davis and the Tree Commission, on use of these tools to accomplish management objectives.

Urban Tree Canopy Assessment and Report (UTCAR) would be a onetime use of ARP Funds and benefits all living animals and humans regardless of gender and group stereotypes, including race, age, ethnicity, ability level, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation. An UTCAR would bring data from various studies to evaluate and understand the extent and value of the region’s trees and to provide a benchmark of the urban tree population, land cover, and the value of the current and potential future urban forest.

The data and tools produced will enable planners, managers, and commissioners to develop strategies for community development, air quality enhancement, energy conservation, stormwater management, and community forest management.

The UTCAR would be conducted in a manner that defines and quantifies various environmental and economic benefits of the region’s tree canopy, known as ecosystem services, focusing on air quality, energy use, stormwater, and carbon sequestration.

The dynamic modeling tools developed for this project would allow planners and managers to envision and plan their desired future urban forest. With these tools, users identify and prioritize strategic tree planting areas based on management objectives, and create alternative designs and cost/benefit scenarios at a regional-scale or for specific sites.

Though the City of Davis' urban forest is relatively young, it nonetheless provides substantial benefits that can be quantified, monetized, forecasted and enhanced over time with proper planning and management. To maximize the function and value of the urban forest resource, it is critical to target canopy increases strategically and to educate policymakers and citizens about the benefits of urban tree canopy.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Tracy DeWit


Leeward Renewable Energy, Valley Clean Energy Sign 15-year Solar-Plus-Storage Power Purchase Agreement for Willow Springs 3 Solar Facility

Project to provide 72MW of solar power, 36MW of battery storage for Valley Clean Energy customers

(From press release) Leeward Renewable Energy (Leeward) and Valley Clean Energy (VCE) announced today that they have entered into a 15-year solar-plus-storage Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) involving Leeward’s 72-megawatt (MW) solar and 36 MW (144 megawatt-hour) battery storage Willow Springs 3 facility in Kern County, California.

VCE’s board of directors approved the PPA on October 14. The Willow Springs 3 project will supply enough reliable, clean electricity for approximately 27% of VCE’s 125,000 customers in Yolo County, California, by the end of 2023. The agreement will also support VCE in achieving its goal of having a 100 percent carbon-neutral portfolio by 2030.

As part of the agreement, Leeward will contribute to VCE’s local workforce development and sustainability efforts in Yolo and Kern counties to support local hiring and training.

Continue reading "Leeward Renewable Energy, Valley Clean Energy Sign 15-year Solar-Plus-Storage Power Purchase Agreement for Willow Springs 3 Solar Facility" »


Letter to the Tree Commission re: DiSC 2022

Red leaves
One of Davis's urban trees

To Davis Tree Commission:

In regard to the DISC proposal (Item 6B on your agenda this evening),  I support your subcommittee's recommendations and encourage you to recommend them as a "baseline feature".

Given that the size of the proposal is already known, recommendation of a specific number of trees should be achievable (as it was during the previous iteration of the proposal).

I understand that the developer is proposing to satisfy shade requirements via the use of solar panels or trees. Unfortunately, this type of "choice" will increasingly be used by developers, as we've already seen in regard to Sutter Hospital's expansion. It may be that developers generally prefer solar panels, to help them meet other requirements (and to claim that a given proposal is "green", while simultaneously eliminating "greenery" in regard to trees).

At some point, the city itself will need to come up with a clear policy regarding the use of solar panels vs. trees for given situations. While either can be used in parking lots, trees (unlike solar panels) require soil and space to survive. As such, solar panels are suitable for a wider variety of locations (such as rooftops), while trees are not.

Until/unless the city comes up with a clear policy (supported by the tree commission), I would encourage the tree commission to not be distracted by an "either/or" choice, and simply focus its efforts on recommendations regarding trees and the benefits they provide.

Sincerely,

Ron Oertel


Credit Where Credit is Due

People PowerBy Larry Guenther

At Tuesday's meeting, (10/19/2021) City Council acted on recommendations made by a Council subcommittee, one of two subcommittees to look at the issue of "Reimagining Public Safety." Most of the discussion and credit for these changes was focused on the work the City Council subcommittee did. While the Council Subcommittee did do real work on producing these recommendations, there was a mere mention of the work done by a Joint Subcommittee of the Human Relations, Police Accountability, and Social Services Commission. Councilmembers and staff made almost no mention at all of the contribution from the rest of the Community.

The Joint Subcommittee did an enormous amount of work and research to make Nine Recommendations to City Council for changes that would create a more effective and just Public Safety system. Members of the Joint Subcommittee included: Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald, Dillan Horton, Judith MacBrine, Don Sherman, Susan Perez, Bapu Vaitla, Matthew Wise, Sheila Allen, Emma O’Rourke-Powell, and Judith Plank.

Additionally, many community members put in countless hours of work, research, and thought that laid the ground work for the Nine Recommendations and, in fact, created the roadmap for the path the City is taking. Yolo People Power and the Yolo Democratic Socialists of America were two community groups that took the lead on this issue. Julea Shaw, Jordan Varney, Morgan Poindexter, and Francesca Wright of Yolo People Power stand out. These women were instrumental in analyzing Police Data, researching non-traditional and successful Public Safety programs in other municipalities, and educating and organizing community members. 

If you see any of the people mentioned in this letter, please thank them. Their work has been instrumental in moving Davis Public Safety to a more effective and just system.

Innovation and change comes from the Community.


Criticism of failure to restore strong affordable housing policy draws attack from Carson

Sterlingby Colin Walsh

I delivered this comment to the Davis City Council on 10/19/21 and received a very unprofessional attack from Council Member Carson in return. The comment was given in relation to the "Affordable Housing Ordinance – Extension of Alternative Rental Housing Requirements and Preliminary Scope of Work for an Update of Affordable Rental Housing Requirements" agenda item in which the Council voted to extend the weak interim inclusionary affordable housing ordinance.

-----

On February 6 of 2018 the Davis City Council approved the 2nd attempt at the Nishi project. This project had what has proven to be an unworkable exclusionary affordable housing that forces people accepted into the affordable housing to sharing a room. What’s worse is the combined cost of the two people who share the room is higher than that of market rate single room.  Worse there are only 264 affordable beds out of 2200 beds. Beds not units. Most of the market rate is not shared.

Continue reading "Criticism of failure to restore strong affordable housing policy draws attack from Carson" »


Comments to the Tree Commission concerning DiSC 2022

Screen Shot 2021-10-19 at 9.55.57 AMThe following was emailed to members of the Tree Commission this morning.  The Tree Commission is scheduled to discuss the revised MRIC/ARC/DISC project, now dubbed DiSC 2022, at its meeting this Thursday, Oct 21.  If you wish to comment on the project yourself, see instructions on the agenda for the meeting, located here.

Dear members of the Tree Commission,

I am writing to you as a former commissioner (10+ years) and Chair of the Open Space and Habitat Commission (OSHC), having completed my term last December. I was involved in analyzing what is now being called the DiSC 2022 project in all of its iterations, so I hope you find my comments helpful in your discussions.

I think it's great that you appointed a subcommittee to review all the materials, given that the changes are more extensive than the City has stated – this is not just a project that has been cut in half, as your subcommittee's analysis shows. I endorse your subcommittee's recommendations and encourage you to adopt them as a body in the strongest possible language, remembering that the only way to guarantee that a promised feature will be in the actual project is for it to be designated as a "baseline feature." A cautious route would have you even recommend that the relevant ordinances be satisfied (this was something that the OSHC did last time), since there is a history of the City Council bending its ordinances, including ordinances concerning trees (it is my belief that they did this in the recent Sutter parking lot decision).

Continue reading "Comments to the Tree Commission concerning DiSC 2022" »


Yocha Dehe Joins The Sierra Club, Yolo County Farm Bureau, And Residents, To Demand Sensible Cannabis Land Use Policy

Tribe joins suit calling for changes to flawed Cannabis Land Use Ordinance

(From press release) In an effort to hold Yolo County accountable for developing fair and sound cannabis land use policy, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation has partnered with the Sierra Club, Yolo County Farm Bureau, and local residents in a lawsuit to do precisely that.

The lawsuit does not seek to stop cannabis cultivation and related businesses in Yolo County, or to prevent County residents from profiting from the cannabis industry.  Rather, it would simply require the County to comply with California environmental law by evaluating the full and real impacts of cannabis cultivation, and mitigate those impacts, before adopting an ordinance regulating it.  Adhering to this process is what the California Environmental Quality Act requires, and indeed, these same requirements apply to every other regulated land use.

“The cannabis industry has a place in Yolo County, just as cannabis has a place in the medicine cabinets of many people in California,” noted the Tribal Council of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation. “But sensible cannabis permitting can’t happen until the County is clear-eyed about the problems overconcentration creates, especially in sensitive areas around schools, near cultural heritage sites, and in smaller communities like those in the Capay Valley.”

Continue reading "Yocha Dehe Joins The Sierra Club, Yolo County Farm Bureau, And Residents, To Demand Sensible Cannabis Land Use Policy " »


Bicycling, Transportation, and Street Safety Commission needs a DiSC 2022 Subcommittee

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The following letter was emailed to the BTSSC this morning.

Dear members of the Bicycling, Transportation, and Street Safety Commission,

I am writing to you as a former commissioner (10+ years) and Chair of the Open Space and Habitat Commission (OSHC), having completed my term last December. I was involved in analyzing what is now being called the DiSC 2022 project in all of its iterations, so I hope you find my comments helpful in your discussions.

I understand that at your meeting this Thursday, Oct 14, you are only deciding whether to establish a Davis Innovation and Sustainability Center (DiSC) Subcommittee, with the meeting to discuss the project as a commission to come later.  I am writing to strongly urge you to establish a subcommittee now.  The OSHC reviewed the project last week and expressed frustration that there were many issues that they did not have time to discuss; see this report of the meeting.

Given the changes in the project – which you have not been fully presented with, but I believe that they are more extensive than you might imagine – and your commission's thoughtful and considerable recommendations from the last time, a subcommittee is absolutely essential for sorting through all the documents to figure out what has changed and how your recommendations might change as a result. 

I note that your packet for this meeting only includes a two-page description of the project.  The OSHC was given a more extensive project description that you might find helpful; see Attachment 2 of this document.

Here is an example of one large change that the BTSSC might be interested in commenting on and that a subcommittee could consider. The original proposal stated that "DISC will construct a grade-separated bicycle and pedestrian crossing on Mace Boulevard connecting to local and regional trails (see p. 14 of this document).  This was to be a baseline feature, meaning it was a guaranteed part of the project; indeed, the only way to guarantee that a promised feature will be in the actual project is for it to be designated as a baseline feature. 

However, in the current DiSC 2022 proposal, the developer promises only to "acquire and dedicate land to accommodate a future grade-separated bike/ped crossing of Mace Blvd to be located north of the Mace Drainage Channel" (see p. 18 of the document given to the OSHC that I linked to above).  As I read this – and I encourage you to ask the developer about this directly – if the project were to go forward, there may or may not end up being a grade-separated bike/ped crossing of Mace Blvd as part of it, since they are only promising to acquire land to make a crossing possible in the future, and it's not even clear that the acquisition of land is a baseline, i.e. guaranteed, feature.  If I am right, this would be a loss of a significant feature of the project, one that I expect your commission would want to weigh in on.

Again, this is just an example – I imagine that there are other such changes that a subcommittee could find, but that it would be difficult to discover if only one meeting is allocated to the issue, with materials appearing just a few days before.

So again, I urge you to vote now to form a subcommittee, to look at the materials I have provided, and to ask if there are other relevant materials that would help you in your decision making.

Sincerely,

Roberta Millstein


Report from the Open Space & Habitat meeting re: DiSC 2022

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The following was originally posted as a comment in response to the Davisite article Comments to the Open Space & Habitat Commission concerning DiSC 2022 and has been reposted here as an article with permission of the author.

By Ron O

In regard to the Open Space and Habitat Commission meeting last [Monday] night, here are some highlights:

The recommendation (from the article linked above) to request that the northern (approximately) 100 acres be established as agricultural mitigation was not discussed or considered by the commission. Two commenters reiterated this request. (The 100 acres was part of prior proposals.)

The commissioners proceeded to review and edit the recommendations made when the proposal included the northern portion of the site. The developer representative claimed that many of them no longer applied, since the northern site is not part of the current iteration. As a result, the commissioners edited and deleted large sections of the prior recommendations, on-the-spot.

As the meeting approached 9:00 p.m., the chair suggested that a second meeting be held, given the amount of work left to be done. However, several commission members were not able to attend an additional meeting prior to the October 18th deadline set by the council. The chairperson stated that the council put the commission in a "bad place", and stated that she was "very unhappy" about it. The chair stated that they had received the packet for review on the previous Friday afternoon (for this Monday meeting).

Continue reading "Report from the Open Space & Habitat meeting re: DiSC 2022" »


Comments to the Open Space & Habitat Commission concerning DiSC 2022

Screen Shot 2021-10-03 at 8.45.43 PM
The following was emailed to members of the Open Space and Habitat Commission (OSHC) on Sunday.  The OSHC is scheduled to discuss the revised MRIC/ARC/DISC project, now dubbed DiSC 2022, at its Monday Oct 4 meeting.  If you wish to comment on the project yourself, see instructions on the agenda for the meeting, located here.

Dear members of the Open Space and Habitat Commission,

I am writing to you as a former commissioner (10+ years) and Chair of the OSHC, having completed my term last December. I was involved in analyzing what is now being called the DiSC 2022 project in all of iterations, so I hope you find my comments helpful in your discussions.

To begin, I am pleased to see in the minutes from your last meeting the following: "[Ms. Reynolds] said the Commission also had the option of agendizing the Addendum to the project's Environmental Impact Report ("EIR") later this year if the Commission wanted to provide comments on the Addendum to the EIR. That meeting would have to happen before December when the project is scheduled to go before the Planning Commission, she said." I strongly urge you to do this. The OSHC has a history of productively discussing and giving comments on EIRs, as it did with earlier versions of DISC as well as Nishi and other projects, with the comments thoughtfully crafted from the Commission carrying more weight than comments from individual members. For example, you might wish to ensure that the biological surveys have been properly updated and that greater awareness of approaches to climate change are being taken into account, such as the lost opportunity for regenerative agriculture on the property if the project is built.

Another important piece of background: in the last iteration of the project, the developer kept insisting that Mace 25 was not part of project, even though it clearly was. This led to mistrust in the community. Because of that mistrust, people are now concerned that this smaller project without Mace 25 is just a foot in the door for the already rejected larger project to come later. I urge you to recommend that the developer state, as a sign of good faith, that this is not their intention — designating the ~100 acres to the north of the project as ag mitigation would be the clearest way to do that.

The rest of my remarks will focus on the Staff Report and related attachments, located online here.

Continue reading "Comments to the Open Space & Habitat Commission concerning DiSC 2022" »


Valley Clean Energy Begins Receiving Electricity From Large Central Valley Solar Project

20210419_155046
Installation of solar panels at the Aquamarine Solar Facility in Kings County, CA, 2021

(From press release) Valley Clean Energy (VCE) announced that it is now receiving power from a new solar park located in Kings County, CA. VCE signed a 15-year contract to purchase 50 megawatts (MW) of renewable power with Aquamarine Westside, LLC’s 250MW Solar project. This contract will replace current short-term power contracts, allowing VCE to deliver higher levels of renewable power at competitive prices.

The Aquamarine project is located in CIM Group’s Westlands Solar Park, a master-planned clean energy park with over 2GW of solar production potential.

Continue reading "Valley Clean Energy Begins Receiving Electricity From Large Central Valley Solar Project" »


Soroptimists offer cash grants to women

LYD Flyer 2021(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 encouraged to apply for the Soroptimist Live Your Dream: Education and Training Awards for Women.

The application deadline is Monday, Nov. 15. This year, Soroptimist International of Davis will present several awards, ranging from $1,000 to $4,000. The top recipient’s application will advance to regional and possibly the international level, where she could receive up to $15,000 more. Recipients may use the Live Your Dream Award to offset any costs associated with their efforts to attain higher education or additional skills and training. This may include tuition, books, childcare, transportation or other education-related expenses.

Applications are available at https://bit.ly/LYDA-apply.

The Live Your Dream Award provides more than $2.8 million in cash awards to head-of-household women in need each year. Since the program’s inception in 1972, more than $35 million has helped tens of thousands of women achieve their dreams of a better life for themselves and their families.

A study conducted by The Fels Institute of Government, a research and consulting organization based at the University of Pennsylvania, confirmed the efficacy and impact of this program. It improves the recipients’ quality of life; builds their confidence; strengthens their self-determination and makes them want to, in turn, help others. Helping women in this way has the demonstrated effect of leading to stronger communities, nations, and the world.

Besides the Live Your Dream Award, Soroptimist International of Davis provides local girls with tools to achieve their education and career goals through its Dream It, Be It: Career Support for Girls program at King High School. It also funds high school scholarships, annual grants to nonprofits that align with the Soroptimist mission, and anti-trafficking efforts.

Soroptimist is a global volunteer organization that provides women and girls with access to the education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment. It was founded in Oakland in 1921, and is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Soroptimist International of Davis was chartered in 1954. Local members join some 75,000 Soroptimists in 122 countries and territories to contribute time and financial support to community-based projects benefiting women and girls. Its core values are gender equality, empowerment, education, diversity and fellowship.

SI Davis members are meeting virtually. Learn more at https://www.sidavis.org/.


Particle Wars in Davis -  What you can’t see can kill you, Part II…

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The militarization of gardening?

A conversation about the proposed - and not - restrictions on toxic micro-particle hyper-distribution -  a.k.a. “leafblowing” - by three of your favorite local activists!

(COVID is Part I)

This evening the City of Davis Natural Resources Commission (NRC) will hold the first of two hearings on possibilities for leaf blowing restrictions. Here’s the memorandum - a supplement to Council’s approval of temporary leaf blowing restrictions from last October. It includes Commission and Staff proposals and results of the surveys on leaf blowing taken which were taken in June.

In summary, they are proposing a gas LB ban, time restrictions and user restrictions. Staff and Commission (sub-committee) proposals are broadly similar. 

What’s very important, however, is that there is a strong likelihood that there will be a complete ban at the state level on gas-powered equipment such as lawn mowers, edgers and so on… including leaf blowers and vacuums, or combined units. This means that any equipment-related ban in Davis that only affects gas blowers will be nothing unique in just a couple of years. 

The meeting is at 6:30pm

 

AirNow08062021
Leaf blowing prohibited on this day?...

AIR QUALITY and wildfire fallout:

Todd Edelman: There is no explanation of why the air quality-based restriction due to wildfire fallout  is based only on official AQI according to current City policy. For example, the very popular and relatively inexpensive Purple Air system could be used.  And Purple Air isn’t only used at private residences: The UC Davis environmental engineering dept has one on its roof for experiments. Lake County Air Quality Management District (AQMD) uses them for official monitoring outside of wildfire situations. The New Jersey Transit Authority seems to also use them for official purposes. Sutter Davis Hospital has them on their roof and inside. The elementary school at Beale Air Force Base has one, as does the Yolo Solano AQMD office in south Davis - they say they use it to recognize “trends”.

But perhaps the most important use of Purple Air is to determine local impacts of leaf blowing...

Previewonleafblowerstoryno2
Nope... no new restrictions if the air's bad AFTER 7:30am...

Darell Dickey: I have trouble with the concept that we can only ruin our air quality when the air is otherwise pretty good. We’re going to avoid dirtying the air when it is already bad? And then there’s my favorite part: Blowing will always create a local situation of AQI over 100, which should result in an immediate ban on blowing. 

I’m thinking that a good, logical way to present this is that if we’ve all agreed that 100 AQI is “bad enough” for us to ban activities that make it worse, then we should never be allowing the use of devices that make the AQI 100+. And this circles back to local air quality vs. relying entirely on one spot of data that’s outside of town to determine what we’re breathing in our neighborhoods at any given moment. 

If AQI 100+ is bad anywhere, then stop creating AQI 100+!

TE: There is nothing about how they determine how much ash is on the ground, though this is a condition of the lift of any AQI-based restriction according to current City policy. I have voiced this concern many times.

There were several times when the official AQI went over 100 during the day but not before 9AM; this was not mentioned in the memorandum, though I brought it up repeatedly in August in emails to the NRC.

LEAF-BLOWING, WILDFIRE SMOKE AND COVID-19

The proclamation from October 2020 that resulted in temporary leaf-blower restrictions mentions “COVID-19” 10 times, yet the current memorandum only mentions it once, and not directly in relation to smoke effects on those with who have COVID. Further, the October 2020 mentions no specific research at that time on wildfire smoke and COVID, but there’s new research not mentioned in the memorandum. 


AIR QUALITY, general:

TE: As far as I can tell leaf vacuums distribute lots of dust, and as they pick up inorganic matter as mentioned in the memorandum, I don't see how they will be allowed. But still, do people think that these things work as HEPA interior vacuums?

DD: True. But “lots of dust” from a vacuum situation is still way better than any blowing. It all needs to be in perspective as we’ll never arrive at “perfect.” Same way that electric cars aren’t perfect, but are better than gas cars, etc.

TE: Well, I think at least all the most dangerous and invisible stuff comes out the back...

DD: “Most dangerous” is not easy to defend. If the crap being stirred up produces a violent health reaction (allergies, asthma, etc), then the acute “most dangerous” thing is probably coming out the front. At least for those people who are severely affected.

The only way to call any of this “better” is if less crap is being put into the air…. As compared to doing it another way. And IMO, a vacuum is better than a blower. And leaving stuff where it is, is better than all of it.  The timing of the device usage is also important. I vacuum up deep leaves to mulch them and put them where they’ll help the yard vs. choke the plants. And I do it when the leaves are not dusty. It is a relatively benign activity.

Tahoe08222021
Purple Tahoe

 

LABOR:

TE: There's no suggestions related to the labor issue except for what may eventually be affected by a ban on gas-powered blowers. What are their wages, by the way? This is a basic question for labor related actions or studies.

DD: I hate the question where they ask the company how much it will financially destroy them. Of course the answers are all opinion, but it is presented and answered as fact. 

TE: Yes they should give figures or something. Is there possible funding from AQMD to transition out of all leaf blowing?

DD: Also, a significant percentage of landscaping businesses do not use any blowers. 

TE: Why is this? How is this influenced by opinions of consumers and of workers or their managers/companies?

DD: From what I can tell, the biggest concern from the citizenry is that they may have to pay more to the poor, under-paid folks. You know… the folks that they’re really concerned about harming with…. low wages.

Asking the yard-care business owners how bad it will be if blower use is restricted is like asking El Macero drivers how bad it will be if Mace loses one of its travel lanes. It is a total guess. It is based on everything else not changing. And they simply have no idea what the result would be. Might be higher health and better hourly wages for everybody. But of course most claim that it will just be devastating to their business. I didn’t hear one response about how it would be better for the workers who might get paid more for doing healthier work.

TE: I’ve repeatedly brought up this part of the issue, not only with the NRC, but also the Social Services Commission -- it needs to agree to provide feedback. Though leaf-blowing is not a job based on sustainable practices, there are many related jobs which are, and they require a higher skill-set. Tree trimming, building on-site composting facilities, triage of soil situations? No one should lose their jobs. 

 

LABOR AND PHASE-IN:

TE; There seems to be no scientific reasons for only phasing out gas blowers in City properties except for protecting some companies. Nothing about increasing wages, etc. The proposed start date Jan 1 (2023) is after most of the "leaf season", and over two years since the temporary regulations came into effect. This seems to be about giving enough time to buy new equipment, but this seems like a tiny expense compared to labor.

 

Screenshot from 2021-07-24 05-43-02
Purple Nation

VIBRATION (Sound):

Roberta Millstein: You two are rightly focused on the air quality. But for a broader audience, you might also mention that these things are f*cking loud. Really f*cking loud. And that is for some a big part of why they are hated.

TE: I know that traffic noise is very bad for human health. One thing that’s worse about leaf blowing noise is that it can be unpredictable, especially if one’s neighbor is doing it -- but then also who memorizes the leaf blowing schedules of their neighbors or their yard sterilization services?

While most electric leaf blowers are quieter than gas-powered ones, it’s not guaranteed. And if an electric leaf blower is less powerful than a gas one, people may use it for longer.

 

OTHER:

DD: And the main reason that some give for the “need” of leaf blowers? No other practical way of clearing large paved parking lots. 

TE: Exactly, what are uses of LB's in terms of square footage or acres, etc?

 

CULTURE: 

TE: Yard work is good exercise if the air is clean. It connects one to their yards - even in a rental property - that other exercise outside cannot.

Leaf blowers and vacuums didn't exist in significant numbers until what, the 1980's? What did people do before that? Die, in their yards, under piles of leaves?

 

EFFECT ON TREE AND SOIL HEALTH:

TE: In the Memorandum there's nothing from the Commission or Staff in the recommendations about the benefits of leaving leaves where they fall, even though it’s already recommended on sources linked from the City's Tree pages and others.

The Tree Commission will hopefully offer feedback.

 

EXAMPLES / Best Practice in Other Places:

TE: There is mention of the other jurisdictions which have done partial to full bans, but not by name. They clearly have this list. There is no indication how many suffer significant wildfire fallout, though as many are in California certainly some have, and there's an assumption about why most didn't respond. Two have complete bans… who are they?

 

EFFECT ON OTHER USERS OF ROW (street, greenbelt, or another public space):

TE: There's nothing about how use of blowers contributes to the always non-permitted piles of yard waste in bike lanes. At the October meeting of BTSSC we need to pressure them into agreeing to providing an opinion on this, especially as a related item on yard waste in bike lanes has been sitting in the long-range calendar for many months as TBD. This issue has been going on for many years.

Proposed ban during the week is only til 8AM, even though many are commuting to school or work by then, by pedal or foot. So then they will be exposed full-on as they traverse the City.


Please Re-Open G Street

Davis10 copy

By Adele Shaw

I’m sharing this letter with people in Davis who might not be aware that retail businesses on G Street are suffering from the street closure.

I’m an artist and one of 65 local artist/owners of The Artery Gallery located at 207 G Street. When the City issued “Temporary Use Permits” (TUP) and closed G Street, we supported it. But as an unsupervised, unkempt bacchanal unfolded we began to look forward to G Street’s re-opening.

The original re-opening date of August 5th came and went. No information came from the City of Davis as the closure was extended without a word to affected businesses. Today, our customers continue to rant with frustration over the street closure’s unkempt conditions and filth.

A permanent closure of the street will likely cause the death of many of the non-restaurant businesses on G Street.  The city issued TUP’s during “emergency” times but they’ve created another emergency all together- an inequitable restaurant takeover on G Street. It may look like a party when you’re picking up a pizza or having a beer, but it’s not an equitable, harmonious party.

Non-restaurant businesses on the 200 block of G Street outnumber the restaurants more than 2:1 (24 retail, consulting or other businesses to 11 restaurants). Yet the retail, consulting and other businesses on G Street continue to suffer. We’re experiencing diminished income and are losing customers because of the street closure. I expect this will get worse as the winter comes.

I wonder what’s the purpose of closing G Street?

Is it a thoroughfare for pedestrians from one place to another? No.

Does it provide pedestrian access a particular destination? No.

Is it part of a multi-modal urban network to develop and foster a downtown core with flourishing businesses of all kinds? No.

Continue reading "Please Re-Open G Street" »


Farmers market vendors, staff resolve to mask up

DFMVaccinatedSigns
The Davis Farmers Market Alliance board passed a resolution on Sept. 20 that all staff and vendors will wear masks at the markets. All of its staff and more than 90 percent of its vendors are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. (Wendy Weitzel/Courtesy photos)

(From press release) In its continued commitment to public safety, the Davis Farmers Market Alliance board adopted an emergency protocol on Sept. 20, requiring its staff and vendors to wear masks.

The Davis Farmers Market is doing its part to keep a ‘Healthy Davis Together,’ ” said Randii MacNear, executive director of the market. “Come visit us and be extra safe – with our open-air shopping and 100% masked sellers and employees!”

The emergency protocol was part of a resolution from the nonprofit’s board of directors, noting that “despite the outdoor nature of the farmers markets run by DFMA, and despite compliance with all local, state and federal rules, the markets can be crowded spaces.”

The resolution continued, “in furtherance of its commitment to public safety and out of respect for its 44 years of community support, the DFMA Board of Directors wishes to implement COVID prevention protocols that are stricter than applicable local, state and federal rules.”

Although the market is outdoors, in a setting where masks are not required, most vendors and shoppers already wore them. The temporary rule does not require shoppers to wear masks. The protocol is in effect Sept. 22 through at least Dec. 12. The board plans to review the rule by early December, and consider whether to extend it.

Year-round, rain or shine, the Davis Farmers Market is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays in Central Park, 301 C St. Wednesday hours are 3 to 7 p.m. through October, then closing at 6 p.m. November through March. Special holiday markets are Wednesday, Nov. 24, noon to 6 p.m.; and Fridays, Dec. 24 and 31, 8 a.m. to noon. It will be closed Dec. 25 and Jan. 1. For more information, visit https//davisfarmersmarket.org or visit it on Facebook or Instagram.


Hiding the DISC 2022 EIR update

DISC2022 Secret2 Comments to City Council on 9/22/2021 regarding the DISC 2020 EIR process

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Dear members of the Davis City Council,

I would like to object to the way the City is doing business in relation to the DISC EIR.

On the consent calendar of tonight’s agenda is a staff report detailing the actions taken by the City Manager while the council was in recess. Buried on the last page is a single line item disclosing that the City Manager approved almost $100,000 for an addendum to the EIR for the DISC project.

Previously, approval of this type of contract was done by council and the staff report revealed important information to the public about the EIR process. Several of us objected at that time that it was not enough information, and this time around we have even less information. The City should not advance the EIR of a major project like this - in secretive ways.

Further an addendum is not appropriate because there are significant new factors that have not been considered by the previous EIR.

  1. There are changed circumstances due to COVID and how office space is used. This must be analyzed in the new EIR.
  2. The new project has a much Higher proportion of the project dedicated to freeway adjacent retail. This is likely to have larger impacts on the downtown and must be studied. 
  3. The previous biological surveys are now outdated and need to be redone.
  4. Further revelations about the severity of climate change and how that will affect the project both in terms of adaptation and mitigation should also be considered in an update to the EIR.

Therefore, I also call on the Council to set a public scoping meeting for the new EIR immediately.

Please  ask that this item be pulled from the consent calendar and instruct the City Manager to immediately make the contract with Raney and outline of work be made public.

Thank you for your Consideration,

Colin Walsh

 

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Roberta Millstein, Consent calendar, item 4 D

Buried in this item is a line of a spreadsheet showing that the City manager approved payment to Raney Planning & Management to prepare a CEQA addendum for the new DISC 2022.

Two years ago, this approval was its own consent item, with documentation supporting the recommendation, and it had to be pulled from consent at the request of citizens.  Two years ago, staff originally thought an addendum to the previous EIR would be sufficient.  Then they said a supplement would be required – a higher level of analysis.  Some of us objected this still wasn’t enough.  Then they ended up needed to do hundreds of pages of a more detailed Subsequent EIR. 

It seems like the same mistakes keeping being repeated – at the last meeting, I and others highlighted the rushed process for DISC 2022 with not enough commission input, and now again with both old and new DISC we have a truncated EIR process without enough justification and transparency for the proposal to do just an addendum.

We still haven’t been given much information about this project, yet we are being told again that an addendum to the EIR will be enough.  The pandemic makes everything uncertain, particularly traffic and office occupancy.  They will need to figure out a way to project for that.  Downtown businesses are even more financially precarious and so the impact to them needs to be reconsidered.  And of course the biological surveys need to be redone, particularly for sensitive species such as the burrowing owl and various bat species.  Finally, the impacts of drought, fire, and smoke in our area due to climate change have become evident; these must be re-evaluated as well, especially in light of the loss of potentially mitigating agricultural land and increased traffic.

I request that this item be pulled from the consent and that the City manager be instructed to immediately make public the contract with Raney and outline of work to be performed.

I further request a public scoping period, including a public scoping meeting, on the updated EIR.

Thank you.


Davis is Home of Northern California's Zombie Bike Ride!

Graphic(From press release) On Sunday, October 31st between 12pm–3pm ride along the Davis Bike Loop and encounter Zombies, brought to you by The Davis Odd Fellows Lodge, The Bike Campaign and nearly 70 sponsors, collaborators and media partners!

DancersWe are delighted to be partnered with Bike City Theatre Company and their team of sketch writers, directors and actors to provide an unforgettable experience! Join us for fun, laughs, photo ops, and a Mirror Image Dance Company Thriller performance!

SkydivingTHAT'S NOT ALL – Watch zombies fall from the sky, compliments of Skydance Skydiving (details to come)! Finally, join our after party in downtown Davis at Davis Common, at 500 1st Street, where attendees can enjoy a live DJ as well as a fantastic array of food, drink and dessert options from 3:30-5:30pm. Then it is time for the kids to trick-or-treat ? at dozens of downtown businesses!

There are NO ADMISSION FEES. This is a FREE community event. There is no starting or ending point for the bike ride. Riders can hop on the Davis Bike Loop at any location and ride in either direction. Details on Skydance Skydiving's zombie skydiving performance to come.

Continue reading "Davis is Home of Northern California's Zombie Bike Ride!" »


Letter & motion from Tree Commission concerning Sutter tree cutting

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This motion was approved unanimously at the Tree Commission's August 21, 2021 meeting.

 The following letter was approved by a unanimous motion of the Commission at their September 16, 2021 meeting and sent by staff to the City Council on September 17.  This issue will be in front of the City Council tonight.

From: City of Davis Tree Commission
To: Davis City Council

We are writing to request clarification and revision of the process for approval of tree removals from commercial property.

The resolution creating the Tree Commission (06-187) states that the purpose of the Davis Tree Commission is, "to act in an advisory capacity on tree related matters, including review and approval of tree removal requests."

Three large projects have recently had large numbers of trees removed without input from the Tree Commission. 205 trees in a two-phase project, currently in process (Sutter Hospital expansion & solar addition); 83 trees in a project to replace these trees with PV solar panels (Cousteau Pl.); 103 trees as site preparation for a new development (Bretton Woods).

These requests were never brought before the public or the Tree Commission, prior to being heard by the Planning Commission. They were also not brought before the Natural Resources Commission, or the 2-by-2 subcommittee between the Tree Commission and the Natural Resources Commission that is currently looking at the parking lot portion of the Tree Ordinance and how to maximize both solar arrays and tree canopy.

These three events alone total a loss to the City of 391 mature trees. These trees took one to several decades to reach maturity.

Tree Davis, working with the City of Davis, planted 379 new trees between October 2020 and April 2021. It took a lot of hard work by a lot of people to make that happen during the Pandemic.

Thus, in a year when a record number of trees were planted by the City and the community, the City of Davis has a net loss of trees for the year. It is especially disheartening in a time of Global Warming and in a city that prides itself on its tree canopy - a city that has qualified as a "Tree City USA" for decades. Add to this that the trees in these applications are mature trees, while the replacement trees will be small, and the loss to the community canopy is staggering. The Tree Commission believes strongly that we will not reduce our environmental impact by removing mature, established trees and reducing our tree canopy.

Surely there is a problem with our process when a community member is required to go before the Tree Commission to remove a single tree, but a corporation can remove any number of trees -including trees that were required for the approval of a development - without any Tree Commission or community input.

The Tree Commission respectfully requests that tree removals of twenty Trees, one Landmark Tree, or a project greater than, or equal to, five acres be subject to a similar process as for removals of City Trees. This request is consistent with recommendations made by this Commission regarding the update to the Tree Ordinance. The Tree Commission also respectfully requests that a process for tree removals by property owners be developed that is aligned with the City's goals regarding its urban forest and that the process emphasize transparency, accountability, and community engagement.

With respect,

City of Davis Tree Commission


Sutter Tree Removal Sets Terrible Precedent

Sutter lotA letter to the Davis City Council from Don Shor

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To the members of the Davis City Council,

This letter is in support of the appeal by Alan Hirsch of the tree removal permit, issued for Sutter Health, for the removal of 63 trees in order to make room for the installation of solar panels in their parking lot.

My concerns are about the process, the city’s overall policy for tree conservation, the efficacy of the mitigation proposed, failure to account for the value and many intangible benefits of trees, and the disturbing precedent of valuing solar panels over trees.

We need a discussion of the city’s commitment to an adequate and sustained urban tree canopy, clarity about which commissions would be best for actual oversight on an advisory basis, and how the process of removing large numbers of trees should be evaluated by staff, commissions, and the council.

Process.

I do not fault the city staff for this. These are policy issues that have been brought to the fore by the sheer number of trees being removed via a single application. There should be some threshold at which a removal that affects the city’s urban forest to this extent is not simply done by administrative review.

Mitigation.

The proposed mitigation needs to be evaluated by tree professionals. The recommendation by the NRC that the mature trees be moved reflects this lack of expert input. It is unlikely to succeed and would be a misdirection of resources.

Better planting of their entire parking area would be a better use of funds if it were done correctly. That includes new trees to shade as much asphalt as possible, with consideration given to the reduced options due to the presence of solar panels and shading issues. More open soil areas are needed to improve infiltration of natural rainfall and allow successful root development. Climate-ready landscaping should be installed wherever trees can’t be planted.

In fact, the city’s overall tree removal mitigation strategy needs to be evaluated with a particular emphasis on parking lots, both because they are especially important for urban heat island effect and because few, if any, of the parking lots in Davis meet the city’s 50% shading requirement.

Continue reading "Sutter Tree Removal Sets Terrible Precedent" »