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September 2019

VCE Workshops to Answer Solar Customers’ Questions About Upcoming Enrollments

VCE(From press release) Valley Clean Energy will host two public workshops in October to review upcoming enrollments for PG&E customers who have solar panels.

The workshops, which are designed to review VCE’s solar policies and answer customers’ questions, are set for:

  • 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2, in the Community Chambers at Davis City Hall, 23 Russell Blvd. in Davis, and
  • 5:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 14, in the Council Chambers at Woodland City Hall, 300 First St. in Woodland.

Residents of Valley Clean Energy’s service area who had solar panels installed on their roofs or property prior to VCE’s launch in June 2018 have continued as PG&E Net Energy Metered (NEM) customers. That’s about to change, as VCE begins enrolling these customers starting in January 2020.

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Irony abounds at Davis City Council meeting: Armored Rescue Vehicle and Communication

ARVIs the City really committed to better communication?

By Roberta Millstein

At its Tuesday meeting, the Davis City Council received a detailed presentation about how the City can improve its communication.  Then the Council immediately threw that information out the window and approved an Armored Rescue Vehicle (ARV).

The presentation on communications was detailed and professional.  Among its recommendations was to make use of City Commissions whose members “are very engaged and are uniquely qualified to help serve as City messengers in the community and disseminate updated information.” The report also outlined many venues through which the City can communicate better with its residents, including communicating with residents that are otherwise difficult to reach.

The Council seemed to receive this presentation positively, asking only a few questions of clarification.

Then late in the meeting – around 10:30 PM – the City began the agenda item to discuss whether the City should acquire an ARV. After a presentation from Chief Pytel, the City took public comment. It was scathing.

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Response to UCD Chancellor’s Housing Task Force, “Turning the Curve on Affordable Student Housing”

Affordable-housing-task-forceAs a followup to Greg Rowe's letter concerning UCD's seeming failure to follow the recommendations of its own Affordable Housing Task Force, below is a memo sent by Rowe on September 15 to Mayor Brett Lee, Councilmember Lucas Frerichs, City Manager Mike Webb Yolo County Supervisors Jim Provenza and Don Saylor, giving a more detailed response to the recommendations of the Task Force. The report of the Task Force can be found here.

This memo is a revised version of a memo sent to the City’s Social Services Commission, which received a presentation on the UCD Chancellor’s Housing Task Force (“Task Force”) on October 15, 2018.[1]  The comments are keyed to specific text in the Executive Summary and other pages of the Task Force report, indicated by bold font.

  • Page 4, paragraph 2: “A dramatic 47% upsurge in Davis campus enrollment programs between 2000 and 2017 has outpaced local housing affordability, helping drive up rents in the City of Davis by over 31% (in inflation adjusted dollars).”
    • Comment: This tremendous enrollment spurt was arguably the single greatest factor responsible for the sharp upsurge in Davis rents.
  • Page 4, paragraph 3: “Far too often, housing costs and unsettled and even abusive housing circumstances undermine students’ educational experiences while they attend… Bold action is needed.”
    • Comment: Again, this is a problem brought on by UCD's failure to moderate admissions and build on-campus housing on pace with growth in the student population.

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Davis rejected the MRAP - should it buy an ARV instead?

ARVThe following letter was submitted to the Davis City Council by email on September 23, 2019.

Dear Davis City Councilmembers,

I am writing to express my views on Item 09 of September 24th's agenda, concerning the obtainment of an Armored Rescue Vehicle.

After the huge outcry and discussion over the MRAP, I am extremely surprised to see that this is being proposed as a recommended purchase by staff. I would have thought that staff would recognize Davisites' great interest in such issues, and would have scheduled time for discussion and getting citizen input before making a recommendation. I urge you not to make a decision at the Sept 24 meeting but to instead use it to get input and discuss, allowing for further input after the meeting.

In the absence of that discussion, my own view is that the ARV is a MRAP-lite.

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UCD grants to homeless students treat the symptom, not the cause

Affordable-housing-task-forceUCD seemingly ignores recommendations of Affordable Student Housing Task Force

By Greg Rowe

A recent article described UCD grants to homeless students. This program treats the symptom and not the cause: UCD’s continued failure to construct affordable campus housing matching enrollment growth.

Last year the Chancellor appointed an Affordable Student Housing Task Force, which was guided by the assumption that improving housing affordability “…is part of the campus’s fundamental responsibility to students.” The June 2018 task force report had 15 recommendations, some which would directly boost housing affordability.

Unfortunately, UCD has seemingly ignored the most meaningful recommendations, including:

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Davisites, it’s time to draw your district maps

Productive Saturday meeting has some surprises

By Roberta Millstein

Yesterday I attended the first half of the Sept 21 Community Workshop on City Council District Elections. There were about 12 Davisites in attendance. 

Paul Mitchell gave a similar presentation to the ones that had he had given at two previous City Council meetings, but with two very positive and welcome changes: not only was there a bit more detail, but also we had the chance to ask him questions and follow-up questions. 

After the presentation, attendees were encouraged to try to draw their own district maps of 5 or 7 districts, using the principles outlined (see here), emphasizing especially the need to have contiguous districts of roughly equal size.  According to the procedure outlined, the demographer will take these maps into consideration when proposing draft maps for citizens and the City Council to look at. 

What follows is an assortment of things that were “news to me” and hopefully will be of interest to other Davisites, concerning: 1) combining North Davis with Wildhorse, 2) precinct-level data vs. census-block level data, 3), the importance of getting the number of districts right, and 4) possible consequences of 2022 re-districting.

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Great turnout for Davis's climate strike

Davis's students lead the way

By Roberta Millstein

Joining climate strikes around the world, yesterday Davis's students led a march of their own, starting at the Veteran's Memorial Center and heading down B Street to collect in Central Park for speeches and activities.  Our students did us proud, with many Davisite adults showing up to support them as well.  Although the concerns and fears expressed are serious and real, it was a positive event in that we were all out there to connect with each other and work for a common cause. 

This is not the first climate-related event in Davis and hopefully it will not be the last. In particular, we need to press the City to follow through on its Climate Emergency Resolution of March 2019

Here are some pictures from the beginning, middle, and end of the event.

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Lack of info on forming districts for new City Council election process

And no response from the demographer hired by the City for requests for that info

By Roberta Millstein

As we’ve posted about previously (see, e.g., here and here), the City of Davis will soon be deciding on districts for City Council elections.  No longer will Davisites vote on 5 councilmembers at large – instead, they will get to vote on one person from their district (with the number of districts still undecided – 5 or 7 are the numbers most discussed).

As part of this process, the City has asked citizens for their input on “communities of interest.”  (Note that worksheets proposing communities of interest are due by tomorrow, Sept 20).  At two City Council meetings, demographer Paul Mitchell presented information to help Davisites make their recommendations (see slides from his presentation here).

While his presentation was excellent and informative, once I took at closer look at the slides, I realized that we were not being given enough information to make informed recommendations.  To show the problem, here is one of Mitchell’s slides showing voting precincts with population numbers:

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VCE Tops Renewable Goals – Delivers Cleaner Energy at No Extra Cost to Customers

VCE(From press release) Valley Clean Energy, Yolo County’s public power supplier, reports that even cleaner and greener energy has been delivered to its electricity customers than was projected at last year’s launch.

“One of our core goals is to supply Woodland, Davis and unincorporated Yolo County with cost-competitive clean energy,” said Tom Stallard, Valley Clean Energy board chair and a Woodland City Council member. “I’m happy to report that this year VCE has exceeded this goal while still matching PG&E’s rates.”

An analysis of VCE’s 2018 power content revealed that the community choice energy program’s Standard Green electricity portfolio included 48 percent renewable energy (all from wind power sources) and was 85 percent carbon-free, Interim General Manager Mitch Sears reports. The majority of VCE customers receive Standard Green energy.

That exceeds original VCE program goals of 42 percent renewable energy, with 75 percent of the total carbon-free, Sears says.

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Speaker on Davis 2060: Trees or Tucson?

Treelined-street(From press release) Unshaded asphalt will burn you: it reaches over 150 degrees in the summer.

So, with forecasts now estimating Davis temperatures will rise to rival today’s deserty Tuscon, shade trees will determine if we will still be able to walk, bike, or even comfortably wait for a bus on summer afternoon.  Or even walk your bare-footed dog.

The Davis’s climate resiliency plans will be putting shade trees front and center, and to that end the City has obtained a ½ million dollar grant to develop a new Forestry Master Plan.

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Tickets still available for The Village Feast

Guests sit at long tables under the sycamore trees at Davis' Central Park at the 2018 Village Feast. Photo credit: Hanna Schoenberger

(From press release) A few tickets remain for The Village Feast, a culinary event Sept. 28 that celebrates Farm to Table month in the Sacramento region.

The event, from 1 to 4 p.m., immediately follows the Davis Farmers Market in Central Park, 401 C St., Davis. It is presented by Davis Farm to School and the Les Dames d’Escoffier International, Sacramento.

The Village Feast follows Le Grand Aïoli tradition of late-summer feasts of Provence, France, where aïoli — golden garlic-mayonnaise — unites people and food for a gastronomic celebration. Guests bring their own best dinnerware, flatware and cloth napkins, setting the scene for a long, leisurely meal under the shade of the sycamore trees. Wine glasses are provided.

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Valley Clean Energy meeting, Thursday, Sept. 12

VCE(From press release) The Valley Clean Energy board of directors will meet at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12, in the Council Chambers at Woodland City Hall, 300 First St. in Woodland. The meeting is open to the public.

The board — which includes members of the Woodland and Davis city councils and the Yolo County Board of Supervisors — is expected to adopt residential time-of-use rates and receive an update on potential acquisition of PG&E wire and pole assets.

The meeting agenda is available at https://valleycleanenergy.org/board-meetings/.

VCE, the local electricity provider, launched in June 2018 and provides cleaner energy at competitive rates to 55,000 local customers.

VCE Costs the Same as PG&E But Delivers More

By Tom Stallard

It’s been a long hot summer, but those cool autumn days aren’t too far off…

And thanks to Valley Clean Energy, local electricity customers are not paying any more to run their air-conditioners than they would have paid under PG&E. At the same time, they are reaping the environmental benefits of a greener energy portfolio.

Community choice programs like VCE can keep their rates competitive by buying electricity through a process that encourages private energy companies to compete to provide clean, renewable power.

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Initial Thoughts on the Move to District Elections for the Davis City Council

Neighborhoods-and-precinctsHow to form districts and how many, how to select Mayor

By Roberta Millstein

Last night at its regular meeting, the Davis City Council began the community discussion of how we should move forward with district elections for the Council, the decision to do so having already been made.  No decisions were made and no votes were taken, although some preliminary preferences were expressed by Councilmembers. 

Here are just some quick thoughts of mine after watching the livestream of the meeting from home.  No doubt my views will evolve as the process continues. 

First, if you missed the meeting, I highly recommend watching the presentation from demographer Paul Mitchell; videos from meetings are posted here, slides from his presentation are available here.  It was clear and informative, including explanations of what constitutes a community of interest and the idea of being functionally contiguous.

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