Thank you for considering declaring a local emergency. I am fully in support of that. I am writing to strongly urge that you add (something like) the following to the “Proclamation of a Local Emergency in Response to COVID-19”:
“The City will not take action on any major development projects during the emergency, including but not limited to the Aggie Research Campus (ARC).”
My reasons are as follows:
- Many, if not all, commission meetings will be cancelled. Major projects need proper review from the relevant commissions, as the City Council has recognized through its scheduling.
- Many citizens will be sick during this time, or caring for people who are sick, or caring for children who are home from school – or, I am sorry to say, grieving for those who have died. They will not be able to fully participate in the vetting of these projects. Consider, for example, the 500 page Subsequent EIR (not including attachments!) that was released on the day that it was announced that the schools will be closed. Many citizens will simply not have time to attend to this.
- Some citizens may not have the requisite internet access to fully participate remotely in communicating with the City Council.
- Citizen over the age of 65 will be particularly cut off from participating in civic events, since they have been advised to stay in their homes except for medical needs.
- All of the above also applies to members of the City Council as well as members of City Staff, as well as project applicants, their staff, their consultants, etc.
- Putting major projects on hold now will give applicants certainty and might save them money in the long run, especially since it may turn out that processing applications simply isn’t possible.
- We do not yet know what the full effects of COVID-19 will be. We may be facing a very different society with very different challenges once the emergency is over. It would be hasty to make any major decisions during this time, given that our priorities might be quite different in the future. We shouldn’t be making rushed decisions in the short term about projects that will affect the City for decades.
More informally – I will just point out that we are all distracted and concerned, facing many uncertainties and fears. Some people will have lost their jobs or be struggling to remain afloat financially. Many will simply be focused on getting through the day. No one can or should be asked to draw their attention away to major projects like this, which require substantial amounts of attention that none of us will be in a position to provide.
These are bad circumstances under which to be making major decisions.
In many ways, we have all been asked to put our lives on hold during this emergency. The City should be focusing its energies, efforts, and resources to helping the community through this. It will mean significant sacrifice for many. Non-essential things will need to be put on hold.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.
The above was sent by email this morning to members of the Davis City Council for its meeting tonight. Details of today's meeting are here. If you share these concerns, or have other concerns, you should email them to the City Council by 4 PM today at CityCouncilMembers@cityofdavis.org