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June 2021

Valley Clean Energy Appoints New General Counsel

Inder Khalsa Headshot(From press release) Valley Clean Energy, Yolo County’s locally governed not-for-profit electricity provider, has appointed Inder Khalsa as its new general counsel. Khalsa is an attorney with Richards, Watson and Gershon, a law firm that specializes in providing services to local governments.

Khalsa has advised the law firm on administrative and transactional public law matters for 16 years, with a particular focus on renewable energy, community choice programs, land use, planning, zoning, affordable housing, real estate matters and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

She also has expertise in the creation and operations of joint powers authorities such as Valley Clean Energy. Khalsa assisted in the formation and launch of Marin’s CCA—the first to launch in the state in 2010—and has represented other CCA programs since that time. She counsels local government agencies on all aspects of municipal governance, including the interpretation, application of and compliance with the Brown Act, Public Records Act, Political Reform Act and other ethics laws.

Continue reading "Valley Clean Energy Appoints New General Counsel" »

Re-imagine Policing - The Fight for Equity

Newrainbowflag2Comments for the City of Davis City Council on June 22, 2021

This is about Item Number 8 - Adoption of the Budget


My name is Todd Edelman. I’m a resident of east Davis and the son and grandson of Holocaust Survivors.

Equity is a process, not a goal. We fight for it, forever and always.

The fight for equity is recognizing and adopting - not only adapting - best practice from other communities.

The fight for equity is about being honest about our history and optimistic about our future.

In the fight for equity we support symbolic activities, but prioritize action.

In the fight for equity we recognize that our children don’t look like other children

In the fight for equity we recognize that our children DO look like other children.

In the fight for equity we never lose sight of the present in favor of higher political ambitions

In the fight for equity we listen to our Commissions, and take direction from unanimous Commission decisions. 

In the fight for equity we recognize that citizens run the City, and that elected officials and Staff serve them in a way that optimizes every tax dollar raised, with only the best tools. 

A City Council that is serious about its fight for equity will create a new Public Safety Department.


What is a Housing Trust Fund, and how can we strengthen Davis’s?

3 categories of housing needs
This diagram shows the continuum of housing needs  and some possible priorities for programs under each of the 3 needs categories

Background: On May 20, the Housing Element Committee (HEC) voted in favor of 10 recommendations, two of which related to Davis’s Housing Trust Fund, based on a draft document from Davis’s Social Services Commission (SSC). On May 9, the Planning Commission voted in favor of these two recommendations (and none of the other HEC recommendations). On June 15, members of the City Council expressed support for these proposals, although they did not vote on them officially.

By Georgina Valencia

The City of Davis has a Housing Trust Fund (HTF).  There are a number of cities throughout the State that have Housing Trust Funds.  The funds that go into the HTF account is designated for services and programs related to affordable housing.  Currently, the City has no designated plan with priorities and related programs as proposed by the SSC.  More specifically there is no sustainability planned into the programs the city currently offers.  Programs to date have been Ad Hoc and directed by the funds and programs the State decides that Cities should pursue.

Current funding sources for our City HTF come from: in-lieu fees, 1% fee from the sale of affordable homes, State Grants for CDBG and HOME funds, SB2 funds, rent from City owned affordable housing and more.  At any given time there is approximately $500,000 plus or minus in the HTF.

A few examples of real world issues that programs and funding in our HTF could correct:

Continue reading "What is a Housing Trust Fund, and how can we strengthen Davis’s?" »

Why eliminating single-family zoning is a terrible idea

Screen Shot 2021-06-19 at 4.18.46 PM

By Dan Cornford

On May 20, the Housing Element Committee voted in favor of 10 recommendations, one of which was the elimination of R1 (aka Single Family Housing, or SFH) zoning. Neither the Planning Commission nor the City Council weighed in on this recommendation as a body in their recent meetings concerning the Draft Housing Element, although some members of both bodies expressed interest in pursuing at least some weakening of R1 zoning. On the state level, SB 9 and SB 10 would eliminate R1 zoning.

Is this a good idea? Will it lead to affordable housing? Would it be good for the environment?

In short: No, no, and no.

Here are five reasons why eliminating R1 zoning is a bad idea:

Continue reading "Why eliminating single-family zoning is a terrible idea" »

Care Not Cops Protest

IMG_20210615_192926344(From press release) For over a year, the Davis community has been demanding changes to how the city approaches public safety, including the creation of a new independent Department of Public Health and Safety that emphasizes preventive solutions instead of the reactionary and punitive measures employed by police officers. To accomplish this, the community has asked the City of Davis to reduce the police budget and transfer those resources to properly fund this new department. After reviewing this year’s proposed budget, Davis community leaders are disappointed by the complete lack of consideration for community demands regarding increased health and safety resources. The city is considering hiring more police officers, and this year’s budget includes no new funding for social services and actually increases the police budget. 

A new department could employ social workers, civil servants, and mental healthcare professionals to take on tasks like mental and behavioral health calls, welfare checks, code enforcement, traffic enforcement, noise complaints, and more.

This Tuesday, June 15th,  Yolo Democratic Socialists of America held a car caravan through downtown Davis ending with a protest at City Hall to pressure Davis City Council to adopt a budget that reflects the community’s values. The budget is set to be adopted on June 22nd.

Continue reading "Care Not Cops Protest" »

The City of Davis Housing Element Update & Developer Web

What is fueling the push to radically rewrite Davis’s laws on development?

by Colin Walsh

“Pro-development activists try to trick you into thinking it helps the poor to destroy neighborhoods to make way for luxury condos.” 

“An agenda for building up the power base of the neoliberal right is not going to get too far in liberal beachheads like San Francisco or New York using the traditional Republican platform. It needs a new story that appeals to young millennials, and it has found it in the “pro-housing” language of the YIMBYs. But in the end, it’s pushing the same underlying principles: the way to a more efficient future is to destroy belief in regulation, public investment, and democratic participation, whether the arena is charter schools or health care or housing affordability.”

Nathan J. Robinson made these statements in a recent Current Affairs article. Let’s look at what is behind the YIMBY push in Davis.

The Davis Housing Element Update Committee (HEC) had its final meeting on May 26th where they voted to pass 10 motions that, if ultimately adopted, would radically change the development landscape in Davis. The recommendations include abolishing the 1% annual growth cap, doing away with single-family (R-1) housing zoning, removing checks, balances and public input from the approval process, and several other radical developer-friendly proposals. Neither staff nor the public were informed ahead of time of this discussion by the Committee. These radical proposals have since taken up most of the discussion at 2 planning commission meetings, and at the Davis City Council meeting on 6/15. To understand where these recommendations came from, one needs to understand the committee members and the web of developer and real estate interests surrounding the Committee. This chart helps paint that picture.


Continue reading "The City of Davis Housing Element Update & Developer Web" »

What the HEC is Going On? Part III

image from davisite.typepad.comConflicts of Interest in the City of Davis Housing Element Committee

 by Alan Pryor and Rik Keller

 Note: The preceding Part II in this series covering Brown Act violations is here:

 “Housing Element Committee members are expected to remove themselves from all discussions and votes on matters in which they have any direct personal financial interest.


In gauging such extra-legal conflicts of interest and/or duty, each member shall exercise careful judgment and introspection in giving priority to the interests of fairness and objectivity; if there is any reasonable doubt that the member has a conflict, the member shall refrain from participation in the committee’s deliberations and vote(s).” – City of Davis Housing Element Committee Ground Rules (p. 4)

Continue reading "What the HEC is Going On? Part III" »

What the HEC is Going On? - Part II

Under rugThe City’s Denial of Brown Act Violations by the Housing Element Committee and Certain of Its Members is Not Credible nor Factually-Based

 by Alan Pryor and Rik Keller

 Note: A subsequent Part III of this series will cover conflicts of interest of HEC members in detail


Last week the authors wrote a carefully-researched and well-documented article on the City of Davis’s Housing Element Committee (HEC) alleging several serious violations of the California state Brown Act open meeting laws prohibiting direct communications between members of jurisdictional bodies. As stated in that article, the composition of the Council-appointed HEC, which is supposed to represent a “diversity of interests” in the community, was instead primarily composed of development and real estate interests and their local supporters.

In our article, we also disclosed that several weeks ago, there were a last-minute series of policy recommendations very favorable to the real estate and development interests in the City that were suddenly introduced to the Committee by these same real estate and development interests. These recommendations, in direct violation of the Brown Act, were sent directly from one member of the HEC to the entire HEC.

The HEC then further violated the Brown Act in considering and voting to adopt the same recommendations without publicly noticing that these recommendations were being considered by the HEC. In essence, these recommendations were introduced secretly to the HEC and then voted upon without full public disclosure and scrutiny of the recommendations. Furthermore, the development and real estate interests on the Committee failed to adequately disclose conflicts of interest in terms of their investments and holdings in the City that would be impacted by these very same favorable recommendations approved by the HEC (see more on this point in the coming Part 3 of this series of articles).

Continue reading "What the HEC is Going On? - Part II" »

Civility, Facts and the Arroyo Park Zip Track.

By Joe Krovoza

At 7:40 pm Saturday evening (6/12) Janet went out to our backyard to pick greens for dinner. She heard a man say "...and that's where the nasty terrible people who hate the zipline and hate children live." [best possible paraphrase] Janet looked over the fence at who was saying this and there was a man standing there with his dog and children. He saw Janet and said something like, "and there's the terrible nasty woman who hates children." She said, "Excuse me? Would you like to talk?" (not threatening, certainly incredulous) but he ignored her and continued walking and talking to his children, repeating "that's the nasty terrible woman who hates children."

She was deeply shaken. Is this okay? Can’t we respectfully agree to disagree?

Casual zip track users and park visitors have no way of knowing how the sound of the zip track travels through our backyard and home. It comes, uninvited, into every room of our house every single time someone is on one of the two tracks. It is not a pleasant sound. It is metallic and jarring. It is impossible to focus on ordinary tasks while it is happening. Or to sleep.

Continue reading "Civility, Facts and the Arroyo Park Zip Track." »

Proposal to Eliminate R-1 Single Family Zoning is a Terrible Idea


Dear Davis City Council, Planning Commission, and Social Services Commission Members,

I would like to take a moment to address the idea of removing R-1 single-family zoning that is popular with developer interest groups and YIMBYs at the moment. This radical policy change would allow investors to buy single family houses in any neighborhood in the city and replace them with 4-unit or more multi-unit complexes. A good way to look at this type of proposal is as deregulation and trickle-down housing. The removal of R-1 zoning is often suggested by these pressure groups as a panacea for creating affordable housing and ending homelessness. There is mounting evidence that this is just not true, and I strongly recommend you read this article on the downfalls of trickle-down housing. https://www.housinghumanright.org/trickle-down-housing-is-a-failure-heres-what-you-need-to-know/?fbclid=IwAR2a_TkSVF0Zlb6pSMrZ7n3fL3SfLHAh354XQN3NZZuL6TNs85r5eST5iqc

In Davis we have a large demand for rental housing. That demand coupled with an abolition of R-1 single-family housing zoning will result in investors converting single family homes to 4 units or more (per lot) of student rental housing that will be leased at top dollar. This is most likely to occur in what are currently the most affordable neighborhoods, like Davis Manor. These are also the most diverse neighborhoods. This will increase the cost of housing in these neighborhoods. This is the opposite of creating the affordable housing that deregulation advocates claim will come as a result of their trickle-down theories. Deregulation will hurt the people who need affordable housing the most.

Continue reading "Proposal to Eliminate R-1 Single Family Zoning is a Terrible Idea " »

Surprising outcome and a few oddities at Planning Commission meeting

Housing-ElementBy Roberta Millstein

This is just a short update to follow on the Davisite’s earlier articles concerning the Housing Element Update (see here, here, and here).

This past Wednesday (June 9th), the City of Davis’s Planning Commission met for a second time to discuss the recommendations of the Housing Element Committee (HEC)-- the first meeting was May 26.  At the earlier meeting, most of the comments from the public concerned 10 recommendations that the HEC had passed.  And a good number of the comments came from UC Davis students who were apparently reading from the same script, since their comments were identical or nearly so.

So, one might have expected that the June 9 meeting would be more of the same.  But that was not the case.

Continue reading "Surprising outcome and a few oddities at Planning Commission meeting" »

California’s Huge Budget Surplus Provides Once in Lifetime Opportunity to Bury Fire-Causing Power Lines

Four power line fires map Sonoma Independent June 3 2022

By Nancy Price

Despite predictions of an even worse year for wildfires and power shutdowns than 2020, not one dollar of California’s immense $76 billion budget surplus is being allocated to actually prevent wildfires which is to bury overhead power lines.

Since 2017, four of the six most destructive fires have been sparked by overhead power lines. Burying just a tiny fraction of these lines that pose the highest risk of fires is by far the most important preventive measure to protect us from catastrophic fires and the terrible cost we pay with our lives, health, economy and environment. 

Preventing fires mean we can protect our forests that are much need carbon sinks so we can realize our state’s ambitious greenhouse gas reduction target to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045.

Burying overhead wires would also eliminate the expanding number of massive power shutdowns that liability-averse utility companies order because of the fire risks. These shutdowns impacted 2.5 million Californians last year, especially the elderly and infirm, whose lives sometimes depend upon medical machinery requiring steady electricity.

Continue reading "California’s Huge Budget Surplus Provides Once in Lifetime Opportunity to Bury Fire-Causing Power Lines" »

15 mph DESIGN SPEED in Davis!

My strong feeling is that all local streets - including Downtown - should have a 15 mph design speed. This is already a number most are familiar with, as it's used alongside e.g. speed tables on school routes and even the sharp turn from 2nd St to L St.

The design speed is a speed that most people feel comfortable moving at in motor vehicles. People on bikes can also feel a design speed, but they are nearly infinitely more inherently safe than motor vehicles to others in the public ROW. 15 is also a bit faster than most cycling speeds.Traveling by bike on most greenbelt paths in Davis at 15 mph feels too fast - the paths are under-built - and perhaps the biggest design flaw in post 1970's Davis, sadly and ironically complemented by the clinically-insane wideness of many streets in West Davis, Mace Ranch and South Davis... but also much older streets in Old North, etc.
Does it seem slow? Perhaps. However, consider that for most journeys by motor vehicle a relatively short distance is on local streets. So any journey lengthening will be minimal.
Or can it even be shorter? Yes! 15 mph speed design is best complemented by elimination of existing mandatory stops; to be replaced by yields. It's these often unnecessary stops that lengthen journey time the most. Getting rid of them also decreases pollution (gas, particles and noise) and makes people less likely to feel the need to speed to the next stop sign.
So it can be both safer and faster!

Continue reading "15 mph DESIGN SPEED in Davis!" »

Big problems at BTSSC meeting tonight!

2nd StRailway modification project along 2nd St. leads to subverted process and disrespected City policy.

The item "CCJPA 2nd Street Improvements 30% Design" is on the Consent Calendar for the Bicycling, Transportation and Street Safety Commission (BTSSC) today.

The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA), which runs the eponymous rail service with partner Amtrak, is planning to make modifications to the railway parallel with 2nd St, roughly between L St and the Pole Line. A significant part of the project will also raise, repave and re-stripe 2nd St - there's long been a problem with railway ballast making its way to the street - and include installation of an ADA-compliant sidewalk on the north side of the street, where no sidewalk currently exists up to the west end of Toad Hollow.

So far, so good? Unfortunately not. The item involving a significant infrastructure modification is only on the Consent Calendar and the changes to the street itself - aside from the new sidewalk, which is clearly a good thing - are not following the 2016 Street Standards, and the whole length of 2nd St is not compliant with the 2013 General Plan Transportation Element.

Continue reading "Big problems at BTSSC meeting tonight!" »

Letter from OEDNA Board, RE: Core Transition East in Downtown Plan

June 8, 2021
Mark N. Grote, Secretary
Old East Davis Neighborhood Association

City Council and Planning Commission Members
Planning Staff
Community Members

Re: Future of the Core Transition East

Dear decision-makers and community members: On behalf of the Old East Davis Neighborhood Association Board, I am writing to ask again for collaboration between the city, property owners and neighbors, to address the unique challenges of the Core Transition East as the Downtown Plan moves forward.  

Unique challenges of the Core Transition East parcels

The Core Transition East, located in Old East Davis just to the east of downtown, consists of four large parcels adjacent to the Union Pacific railroad tracks between 3rd and 5th Streets. Current planning provisions designate this area for neighborhood-compatible buildings that make appropriate scale transitions between the downtown core and the traditional, small-scale houses of Old East Davis.

The parcels of the Core Transition East present unique design challenges that are not met by the general building forms of the November 2019 draft Form-Based Code currently under review as part of the Downtown Plan. Some of the unusual features of these parcels are:

Continue reading "Letter from OEDNA Board, RE: Core Transition East in Downtown Plan" »

Unequivocally Bad Solar Panel Placement at Cesar Chavez Elementary .

This letter was sent to DJUSD on June 8.
Redwood tree
Dear Matt and Facility planning team,
I just saw the proposal for the placement of solar panels at CCE and it is unequivocally a bad placement.
The panels will cover the existing grass at the edge of the blacktop thereby creating more of a barrier between the grass and the blacktop.   This necessitates the destruction of two massive and iconic redwood trees.    Removing trees in itself is not a problem - if the result is inescapable.  In this case, it is not an inescapable result to place the solar panels in that suggested location.
The video clearly says that the benefits of this placement include  only 2 things.
Benefit 1) providing a solar shade structure.    This is not necessary if there were more trees on the grass AND if those trees were maintained AND if the children were allowed to use the grass and the pathway during school hours.  Did you know that kids at CCE are not allowed to use their own school yard (the grass) during recess?  Did you know that the trees that were planted at the edge of the track are mostly dieing? 
Benefit 2)  Preserving Blacktop.   Preserving blacktop is not a value of the community at large and nor is it a value of the parents of CCE, were you to poll them.  Preserving play space is important, and blacktop is important for certain kinds of play - but preserving it at the expense of creating what effectively amounts to a barrier between the children and the natural space of the field (where they should be allowed to play) is not a long term postive vision.
There are at least 3 other areas where the Solar panels could be placed.
1) On top of the new MPR.  Why are we building a new building that apparently cannot hold solar panels?
2) Shading the portable classrooms on the south side of CCE Campus.  These roofs would benefit from the shade and the industrial structures on campus would not take anymore of the campus footprint.  In fact, one could imagine the solar array shading any number of buildings on the campus in whole or in part.
3) Over the parking area.  Wouldn't the teachers appreciate a solar array over the parking area to keep their cars cool?
I don't claim to speak for anyone but myself on this issue.  However, I do believe I have a good sense of the pulse of the community.   This placement will be met with massive pushback from the community and I strongly recommend reconsideration as soon as possible.
Best regards
Joseph Biello
Parent of CCE Student and Neighbor
the DJUSD video mentioned in the letter can be viewed here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUn0h5tukbo
CCE Solar

What the HEC is Going On?

IMG_0744The Subversion of the Housing Element Committee (HEC) Deliberation Process by Hidden Development Interests

Note: Several recent articles in the Davisite touch on the subject matter discussed here: For other comments on the Housing Element’s failure to address affordability and the proposals being pushed by development and real estate interests, see Davis Housing Element Fails Affordable Housing (5/27/2021). See also Comments on Draft Housing Element from Legal Services of Northern California (5/25/2021) For comments on problems with the City of Davis’s decision-making process see Good decision-making process involves staff and City Council too (6/3/2021)

By Alan Pryor and Rik Keller

The City of Davis’s Housing Element Committee (HEC), which is supposed to represent a “diversity of interests” in the community, was instead co-opted by development and real estate interests. Two weeks ago, there were a last-minute series of policy recommendations that were sprung on the Committee by these same real estate and development interests in violation of Brown Act open meeting laws. The HEC then further violated these laws in considering and voting to adopt the recommendations. Furthermore, the development and real estate interests on the Committee failed to adequately disclose conflicts of interest in terms of their investments and holdings in the City that would be impacted by the favorable recommendations approved by the HEC.

This subverted process brings up important questions: Why has the City directed a process that has so little public input, especially from genuine affordable housing advocacy groups? How did the City staff allow so many violations of Brown Act laws regarding transparency and open government? Why did the City select HEC members with such a preponderance of real estate interests instead of appointing more representatives from the affordable housing community?

Continue reading "What the HEC is Going On?" »

Comments on Draft Housing Element from Legal Services of Northern California

Screen Shot 2021-06-06 at 11.20.18 AMConcerns raised about lack of public participation from all economic segments of the community without adequate time to review, among many other concerns. Additional changes are needed to comply with the law and provide the most effective strategies to address the critical housing needs facing Davis residents with low incomes.

Background: The City of Davis is preparing the 2021 – 2029 Housing Element to evaluate current and future housing conditions and identify housing sites to meet the community’s needs. Updating the Housing Element is a state requirement. The following letter commenting on the Draft Housing Element from Legal Services of Northern California was sent to the Davisite to post.

May 25, 2021

Jessica Lynch, Senior Planner
Department of Community Development and Sustainability
23 Russell Boulevard
Davis, CA 95616

Via email at [email protected]org
Re: Housing Element Update 2021-2029, draft submitted May 3, 2021

Dear Ms. Lynch and City of Davis Staff,

We are writing to provide comments on the Draft Housing Element released for public comment and submitted to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) on May 3, 2021.

As you know, Legal Services of Northern California (“LSNC”) is a nonprofit civil legal aid organization providing legal assistance to low income individuals and families throughout Yolo County. LSNC’s mission is to provide quality legal services to empower the poor to identify and defeat the causes and effects of poverty within our community. LSNC has represented tenants in Yolo County since 1967. Last year, we handled more than 900 housing cases, including almost 200 cases for Davis households. Through our work, we gain insight into the struggles of low- income residents in Davis.

We have prepared these comments in partnership with and on behalf of the Sacramento Housing Alliance, a nonprofit coalition that works to ensure that all people in the greater Sacramento region have safe, decent, accessible and affordable housing in healthy neighborhoods supported by equitable public policies and practices.

The draft element adequately addresses many of the statutory requirements. Our comments cover areas where additional changes are needed to comply with the law and provide the most effective strategies to address the critical housing needs facing Davis residents with low incomes. We, along with SHA, are happy to discuss our comments and provide additional input as the City incorporates our suggestions and finalizes the draft.

Continue reading "Comments on Draft Housing Element from Legal Services of Northern California" »

Good decision-making process involves staff and City Council too

Screen Shot 2021-06-03 at 4.27.34 PM

The following letter was emailed as a comment for tonight's special City Council Subcommittee on Commission Process meeting.

Dear City Councilmembers and Commission Chairs,

It is extremely difficult to comment on this item without knowing more about what will be discussed. However, one concern I have – and I will just have to see where things go today – is how this group became a “Subcommittee on Commissions.”

The original letter that triggered this subcommittee, a letter that I co-signed, was titled “A Proposal for Improving City of Davis Decision Making.”  It included provisions regarding City Commissions, but it was not limited to that.  It also included provisions regarding “transparency, information, disclosure, and public engagement” as well as provisions “for developing and making decisions on Staff proposals submitted for City Council action.”  It was not just about how commissions operate.

It would be a missed opportunity if this subcommittee were to narrow its concerns from the letter’s original scope.  Indeed, it would be a sad irony, given the letter was in part prompted by commissioners feeling that they were not being heard and seeing their communications to the city lost in translation.

Continue reading "Good decision-making process involves staff and City Council too" »

Commission Process, please

Todd Edelman, former member of the BTSSC, undated photo - https://www.starwars.com/databank/galactic-senate








Dear City Council, City of Davis,

I've a few concerns, questions and proposals for you in regards to this Thursday's City Council Subcommittee on Commission Process (Special Meeting)...

Questions and Concerns

1) Why is there no actual content in the report prepared for the meeting?

2) How can the public critically comment when we don't even know the actual, detailed content of the meeting until the beginning of the meeting? The immediately subsequent public comment period comes before everything else - not like typical general public comments at the beginning of the meeting - so will there be an opportunity for the public to respond to anything in the way they typically respond to a staff and/or e.g. developer report before Council or Commission discussion?

3) Is this also intended as a meet & greet for the many Chairs who have never met each other as a way to encourage pro-active or facilitate requested collaboration - not a bad thing!
Former Commissioner Palpatine, opponent of the Brown Act; Edelman. https://www.starwars.com/databank/galactic-senate
4) Item 4 includes "... Intent is to allow Commission Chairs to share recommendations, tips, concerns, ask questions of staff or the Council Subcommit-tee, etc" BUT when did the Chair or Vice-Chairs solicit such information from their Commissions?

Continue reading "Commission Process, please" »