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December 2019

Why dropping SAT/ACT admission requirements isn’t a “dumbing down”

The tests do, in fact, discriminate against low-income students

Bubble-sheetBy Roberta Millstein

A recent letter to the editor in the Davis Enterprise decried the move to drop the SAT and ACT as part of the college application process.  The letter writer states that to get rid of these standardized tests would be to “dumb down” the educational process, suggesting that people need to accept that not everyone’s abilities are the same and that some students just need to work harder.  The letter writer rejects out of hand the suggestion that the tests “discriminate against minorities and the poor.”

Letters like this remind me that there are a number of facts about these standardized tests that are not well known.  So, in the interests of education (yes, a double meaning here), I thought it would be helpful to rehearse some of them.  I will focus on the SAT because that is the test I am more familiar with.

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Bats Ignored in Environmental Review for Mace Business Park

2019-12-23_17-43-09Will new ARC SEIR do better?

This letter was sent to Assistant City Manager Ash Feeney on December 23, 2019.


Dear Mr. Feeney,

I am writing to draw your attention to a significant omission in the Mace Ranch Innovation Center Project Final Environmental Impact Report dated January 2016. At no place in the FEIR is there any consideration for Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis), or for Hoary bats (Lasiurus cinereus).

Just over 2 miles from the MRIC/ARC site is “One of the largest seasonal Mexican free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis) colonies in California. An estimated 250,000 individuals strong.” (https://baynature.org/2013/07/25/yolo-bats/). This colony roosts under the Yolo Causeway bridge and has been well documented in the Davis Enterprise and the Sacramento Bee (https://www.davisenterprise.com/community/see-bats-at-the-causeway/, https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/environment/article31141712.html).

I have personally observed bats flying over the MRIC/ARC site during summer months, but there is no mention of bats in the FEIR, or any of the underlying documentation.

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Reflecting back on VCE's year

What a year it's been!

VCEBy Tom Stallard

The end of each calendar year offers an opportunity to sit back and reflect on the goals reached over the past 12 months and to look forward to a new year of possibilities and challenges.

At Valley Clean Energy — your local not-for-profit electricity provider— we’re working hard to fulfill our mission to deliver clean electricity, energy product choice and greenhouse gas emission reductions, all with local control at competitive prices.

Since June 2018, we’ve been serving 55,000 customers in the cities of Woodland and Davis plus the unincorporated area of Yolo County. That number will grow when customers in Winters are enrolled after the city became an official member of VCE this month.

Thanks to the creativity and dedication of our professional staff, and the visionary leadership of my colleagues on the board, the past year has been jam-packed with accomplishments. Here’s a brief review:

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We live in the most interesting of times.

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In the era of so much uncertainty there is plenty of reason for despair. But there is also plenty of reason for hope.

Energy has been buzzing to address the greatest challenges of our time in this time of urgent need.

Groups like the Sunrise Movement and the Youth Climate Strike are pushing forward national and local climate action at a pace never seen before. Labor groups are organizing for fair pay, secure employment, and dignity. Right here in Davis, there are groups and individuals developing local and national Green New Deal initiatives and support, and our City Council has passed strong climate goals for the next 20 years.

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University Mall proposing to become another Mega-dorm, EIR comments deadline is this Friday Dec. 20th

U Mall Fig 3-8 v3
By Eileen M. Samitz

The deadline for comments on the Draft EIR for the monolithic University Mall mega-dorm proposal (University Commons) is this Friday Dec. 20th at 5pm. The email addresses to send comments in are to City Staff at smetzker@cityofdavis.org  and elee@cityofdavis.org.

The proposal is to demolish all of U-Mall leaving only Trader Joe’s (the Arco station is not part of the project) and to replace it with a “mixed-use” project of a wall of 7-story buildings towering over the retail with 264 apartments with almost 900 “beds” (see attached illustration). 25% of the units would be 4-bedroom which makes clear, as the project name “University Commons” suggests, that it is targeting students. Since the City has approved almost 4,000 beds designed specifically for UCD students in four mega-dorms in the City already, the last thing we need is yet another mega-dorm.

The Russell and Anderson vicinity is already hugely impacted with traffic and this project would make it gridlock. U Mall now is difficult enough to find parking, yet the proposal wanted to add over 46,000 square feet of retail (the size of a Safeway grocery store) adding only 2 more parking spaces to support it!

This project proposal is too large and out of scale for that site, and would be luxury apartments with no affordable housing. None of this helps the City’s need for housing for our community’s workers and families and does nothing to provide affordable housing needed. In addition, it encourages UCD to continue neglecting to build the needed student housing on its enormous 5,300-acre campus with a 900- acre core campus. UCD is the only UC which has not agreed to provide 50% on-campus housing, yet it is the largest UC having so much land.

The U-Mall needs to redeveloped into an expanded and updated retail center which is the environmentally superior alternative in the EIR, not another mega-dorm, or possibly a dramatically scaled down mixed-use project if the parking and circulation can work. The City needs the sales tax and this site was intended for retail serving the entire community, not serving UCD’s student housing needs. The City needs the sales tax and this site was intended for retail serving the entire community, not serving UCD’s student housing needs. We have few sites left in the City to offer retail and this is one of the most important.

For information including the details of the project and the Draft EIR documents to review and comment on by the deadline this Friday Dec. 20th at 5pm please see the Davisite article posted today at:

https://www.davisite.org/2019/12/the-new-u-mall-proposal-a-monolithic-mega-dorm-fraught-with-problems.html


Rising homelessness in Davis: what comes next?

Tent

By Bapu Vaitla

It’s hard to talk about homelessness. Many of us in Davis consider ourselves to be compassionate progressives sincerely wishing to support our community’s unhoused, but we’ve clearly failed to find answers. Tensions are rising, with local businesses reporting aggressive interactions downtown and Police Chief Pytel stating at the last City Council meeting that “one of the greatest tragedies we have in the city right now” is the degree to which homeless people victimize each other, with serious violence and theft occurring continuously. The most recent debate concerns the proposed location of a homeless day respite center near L & 5th streets. Some residents have cited safety concerns, while others, including Chief Pytel, feel that the center is a necessary first step to meaningful change.

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The new U-Mall proposal – a monolithic mega-dorm fraught with problems

Davis needs an expanded retail project at U-Mall, not another mega-dorm

By Eileen M. Samitz

U Mall Fig 3-8

Project description

The owner of University Mall, Brixmor Property Group, has proposed a renovation of this important community shopping center that opened in 1966. The effort would demolish 90,563 sq. ft. of the existing University Mall building and replace it with a mixed-use development comprised of 136,800 sq. ft. of retail space, 264 multi-family housing units, and a 3-level, 246,000 sq. ft. parking structure.  The existing 13,200 sq. ft. Trader Joe’s store would remain, resulting in a shopping center with 150,000 sq. ft. of retail space. The ARCO service station on the southeast corner of the site is not part of the project. 

This “University Commons” project would total 795,300 sq. ft., meaning the retail space would occupy just 17% of the building area. The single greatest use of space would be the residential area, comprising 412,500 sq. ft., or almost 52%.  Parking would consume 246,000 sq. ft., or almost 31%.  Brixmor says the residential units could be rented by anyone, but concedes that most of the apartments will be occupied by students.  In other words, the project would become an ultra-dense residential project with window dressing retail that would likely focus on being student-serving, rather than the original intent of having businesses that serve the entire Davis community.

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Valley Clean Energy Welcomes Legacy Solar Customers

VCEThe Valley Clean Energy board of directors has adopted a policy governing how legacy solar customers — those who installed solar systems prior to VCE’s launch in June 2018 — are enrolled with the local electricity service provider.

“We’re thrilled to begin enrolling solar customers, also known as Net Energy Metered customers, beginning in January,” said Tom Stallard, VCE board chair and a member of the Woodland City Council.

“Solar customers have already demonstrated a financial commitment to renewable energy, and it will be great to have them in the fold, helping all of us take a big leap toward a more sustainable future for our communities.”

Beginning in January and continuing through December 2020, PG&E solar customers will be automatically enrolled in VCE service during their existing PG&E true-up month. As with all VCE customers, these solar customers will have the choice to opt out and stay with PG&E.

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Reducing and Preventing Homelessness

Homelessness
On Monday, December 16 at 6pm, the City of Davis Social Services Commission is hosting a free talk by Rohit Naimpally on evidence-based best practices to prevent and reduce homelessness. Rohit is the senior policy & research manager for J-PAL North America. J-PAL's co-founders recently won the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics.

This will be a good opportunity for us to discuss what we can do about the recent increase in homelessness in Davis and Yolo County. The talk will be at the Davis City Hall Community Chambers. 23 Russell Blvd. The event is free and open to the public.

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DJUSD Accused of Limiting Special Education Enrollment

Special Education System Fundamentally Conflicted

Daisy

By Aaron Wright

I wrote “Daisy Has Autism” to give a voice to those struggling with the state of special education services in Davis. “Daisy” was also a sorrowful goodbye to the town that I loved and called home for nearly 20 years. I felt obligated to shed a light upon the neglect, marginalization, and removal of disabled children from our community. I prepared for a backlash to my book, but I believed our community still capable of driving a legitimate discussion about the treatment of children.

Tragically, as publication neared, that confidence was destroyed. When DJUSD student Max Benson was killed at the school where our administration had placed him, the coverage in Davis was anemic. No discussion regarding the absence of an appropriate education program within the community to which he belonged took place. Had any non-disabled child in Davis been made to take a bus 80 miles a day because of a lack of educational materials or teachers, there would have been a furor.

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5G Health Hazards - FCC Overreach - Global Surveillance

5G BaseballPlanning Commission Meeting Tonight!

City of Davis, California

December 2019

Dear Davis Resident,

You may not have heard our town of Davis is facing an onslaught of new 5G antennas in our city without any public involvement or knowledge.  There has been no public notice given, nor letters sent to any residents living within 500’ of any of these proposed 5G cell sites.  The Davis Enterprise has also refused to publish any of our editorial comments related to 5G, nor do they publish or give comment mentioning any of our group’s multiple appearances at the City Hall giving public testimony during City Council and Planning Commission meetings, even though they were present, each and every time, taking notes.  It is obvious they do not wish to give any publicity on this issue.  They know there is a growing number of people against it and therefore, refuse to create any public stirrings or knowledge that 5G is even being deployed in our town.  I have never seen such stealth treatment by media-based news.

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Gracias, Señora Dopico,

Sra. D 2
            I think of you. The sun is struggling through thick clouds, looking to break free. I heard the news of your passing while I was in the midst of snow in cold upstate New York. I closed my eyes and there against the white of snow, in my mind bloomed the biggest most gorgeous flower with big petals. They were deep brilliant red in hue. The center was golden and bright yellow.  Vibrating in color. Surging in quivering glory. Bright. Giving. Receiving. Held.

            Boundless joy and exuberance bubbling into eternity. Living in the dead of frozen winter, yet flooded in light, love and energy. This is who you have been to this earth. The way you so beautifully dressed and shone your light, gave us permission to express ourselves a little more in a world where unbeneficial patterns have been ironed into generations, denouncing the boundless benefits of healing. Lies holding us captive. Trapped. I trust that you have bright light that you need to shine from a different angle. Your petals needed to continue to unfurl above the cloud cover.

            Thank you endlessly for walking up to me and inviting me to create flowers out of wool with you and our planets’ beautiful children. Each of us who have known you might well find out that a little magic ball fluffy light was placed into our pockets so that when we feel sad we can bring it out. Hey you never know- that ball of light might turn into the most gorgeous flower that you can imagine. Cheering you up from the inside out. It might turn into something else- hey you never know! Each one of us must remember the spirit that we truly are and know to be true to exhibit our fullest form. For now, and forever. Thank you for inviting us to blossom. To stand our ground and take root!!! Being light isn’t easy and we each must be a shoulder for each other to lean on.  As you truly have been, eternally.

Shining light.

Grateful. Forever.

Now.

Beaming.

From the heart.

Thank you,

Carey Ann Hunt

 


Larry Guenther announces candidacy for Davis City Council

Larry-CCAll members of the Davis community are invited to an event to announce Larry Guenther’s intention of running for City Council in the November 2020 election.

Rhonda Reed and Ken Gebhart will host the event at their home, 320 I St. in Davis, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12. The official announcement will occur at 7:30 p.m.

Although he will be running to be the representative for District 3, all members of the community are encouraged to attend. Light refreshments will be served and the event is free to all.


ARC Business Park EIR Comment Deadline Extended Again.

Irregularities Continue with ARC Proposal

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* see photo credit below

By Colin Walsh

Yesterday afternoon at 3:15 PM, Assistant City Manager Ash Feeney sent emails to several people announcing the deadline would be extended for scoping comments on the ARC supplemental EIR. The new deadline for submitting comments is Dec. 16 at 5pm.

This email came less than 2 hours before the previous, now-superseded 5pm 12/9 deadline.

Feeney pointed toward an announcement on the City website: https://www.cityofdavis.org/city-hall/community-development-and-sustainability/development-projects/aggie-research-campus

This is the second deadline extension for ARC comments.

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Skippy

Skippy
Skippy and family camping 1955

By Robert Pratt

It must have been my 8th birthday, I had been bugging my parents for a dog, a friend of mine had just got a golden retriever puppy and I was smitten.

The day of my birthday Dad, and I got in the truck and drove across town to a farm house with a compound of chicken wire, a crude lean to, and a barking dog, I stayed in the truck, I was beyond excited!

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ARC Project Recommended Sustainability Features

Recommended Project Alternatives for the Supplemental Environmental Impact Report

Rough-ARCmap-corrected-sustainabilityThe following comments were submitted to the City by The Aggie Research Center Working Group, an ad hoc committee of interested Davis environmentalists with experience in evaluating land use and planning issues in Davis, on December 7. The Group has collaboratively developed this set of recommended sustainability features for the project and submitted them to the developer in November, 2019. With his knowledge, these recommendations are now formally submitted as scoping comments to the supplemental EIR for the purposes of evaluating desirable sustainability alternatives for the project

Others who wish to submit their own written scoping comments can do so via the City of Davis Community Development and Sustainability Department, 23 Russell Boulevard, Suite 2 Davis, CA 95616 Attn: Sherri Metzker, Principal Planner or via electronic mail to smetzker@cityofdavis.org up until Monday, December 9, 2019 at 5:00 PM.

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I. SUSTAINABILITY PLAN

Functional Goal: Develop and implement a comprehensive Sustainability Plan and ensure sustainability commitments made in the Plan are embodied in the subsequent Development Agreement and implemented and maintained for life of project.

  1. Mandatory, measurable and enforceable.

  2. Equivalent in scope and detail to Nishi.

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Business park outside of Mace curve: More environmental review

Questions about traffic, area impacts, climate change

Rough-ARCmap-corrected-traffic-climateThe following comments were submitted by Roberta Millstein to the City of Davis. This is part 2 of 2; other comments submitted by Millstein and posted earlier addressed land use, parks/greenways and open space.  These comments serve as recommendations as to the scope and content of the supplemental environmental impact report (EIR) for the "Aggie Research Campus," a proposed massive ~200 acre business park on prime farmland outside the Mace curve, focusing on the changes in project and conditions from the previous Mace Ranch Innovation Center (MRIC) proposal.

Others who wish to submit their own written scoping comments can do so via the City of Davis Community Development and Sustainability Department, 23 Russell Boulevard, Suite 2 Davis, CA 95616 Attn: Sherri Metzker, Principal Planner or via electronic mail to smetzker@cityofdavis.org up until Monday, December 9, 2019 at 5:00 PM.

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The following questions need to be addressed by the Supplemental EIR for the “Aggie Research Campus” (please note that wherever I say “impacts” I mean “environmental impacts”):

Continue reading "Business park outside of Mace curve: More environmental review " »


Business park outside of Mace curve: environmental review

Rough-ARCmap-corrected-landuseQuestions about land use, parks/greenways and open space

The following comments were submitted by Roberta Millstein to the City of Davis today. This is part 1 of 2; other comments submitted by Millstein to be posted later [edit: see here] will address traffic/transportation, area impacts, and climate change impacts/interactions.  These comments serve as recommendations as to the scope and content of the supplemental environmental impact report (EIR) for the "Aggie Research Campus," a proposed massive ~200 acre business park on prime farmland outside the Mace curve, focusing on the changes in project and conditions from the previous Mace Ranch Innovation Center (MRIC) proposal.

Others who wish to submit their own written scoping comments can do so via the City of Davis Community Development and Sustainability Department, 23 Russell Boulevard, Suite 2 Davis, CA 95616 Attn: Sherri Metzker, Principal Planner or via electronic mail to smetzker@cityofdavis.org up until Monday, December 9, 2019 at 5:00 PM.

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The following questions need to be addressed by the Supplemental EIR for the “Aggie Research Campus” (please note that wherever I say “impacts” I mean “environmental impacts”):

Continue reading "Business park outside of Mace curve: environmental review " »


Davis Farmers Market offers free baskets, wrapping on Saturdays

The Davis Farmers Market turns into Gift Basket Central for the first three Saturdays in December, offering free baskets and wrapping of market items.

GBCbooth
The Gift Basket Central event at the Davis Farmers Market is the first three Saturdays in December. The market is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Central Park, Fourth and C streets in Davis.

(From press release) On Dec. 7, 14 and 21, shoppers can compile items for custom gift baskets, and have them wrapped for free at the market’s Gift Basket Central station, near the large oak tree. The service is available to anyone who purchases three or more items at the Davis Farmers Market.

Looking for ideas? Besides the abundant produce, market sellers offer preserved jams and sauces, lemon curd, honey, balsamic vinegars, olive oils, dried herbs, nuts and nut butters. There are sweets like dried fruit or chocolate-covered almonds, pistachio brittle, and local wines. Other items include handmade soaps and lotions, wreaths, hats and scarves.

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Davis Farmers Market loaded with crafts, gifts

Paintapot stuff
The Paint-a-Pot ceramics station is one of many food and craft booths Dec. 7, 14 and 21 at the Davis Farmers Market.

(From press release) Holiday shopping is a treat at the Davis Farmers Market, where patrons can cross off their gift and grocery lists with one stop. Along with the farm-fresh produce, eggs, meat and baked goods, there are local crafts, free gift baskets and holiday music on Saturdays, Dec. 7, 14 and 21.

During the holidays, the C Street sidewalk is dubbed Crafters’ Lane, with local artists selling custom purses, scarves, hats, sun spinners, aprons, pottery, candles, soap, lotion, wreaths, flowers, art, photography and more. Artist Heidi Bekebrede has a Paint-a-Pot booth, where patrons of any age can decorate a pottery item, such as a cup, bowl or ornament.

On the first three Saturdays in December, shoppers can compile items for custom gift baskets, and have them wrapped for free at the market’s Gift Basket Central station, near the large oak tree. The service is available to anyone who purchases three or more items at the Davis Farmers Market.

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