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December 2021

Restoring the Roots of Life in a New Era

Existing gravel mining along Cache Creek. Photo credit: Charles Salocks


By Nancy Price and Don Price

Recently the Yolo County Planning Commission held two public hearings on the proposal submitted by Teichert Materials to carve a new open-pit gravel mine on the 319-acre Shifler farm, three miles west of Woodland along lower Cache Creek. If approved, the proposed gravel mine would operate six days per week for 30 years.

Climate advocates, the Yolo County Farm Bureau, neighboring residents of the Wild Wings community and others concerned about the project’s many environmental impacts spoke and submitted letters to the Planning Commissioners. After more than ten hours of discussion, the Commission voted 4-2 this month to recommend dramatically scaling back the project to protect prime farmland.  

Citizens raised concerns about formation of toxic methylmercury sediment in the wet pits already lining lower Cache Creek, risk of contaminated fish, and the potential that such deep mining could puncture holes in the groundwater table and contaminate  the water supply.

“This decision signals we are in a new era of planning for resilience and cannot ignore irreversible impacts to land, water and public health. Land that can be used to grow tomatoes and wheat to feed people should be used as if our lives depended on it – because they do,” observed Alessa Johns, a concerned citizen and retired UC Davis professor.

Many readers may not realize that gravel mining in Yolo Country goes way back to the 1870s. By the 1970s, concerns arose over the impact of open-pit mining in the main Cache Creek channel. It took until the mid-1990s for the county, the mining industry including Teichert, and a group of concerned citizens to restrict mining to outside of the main channel, create the Cache Creek Conservancy, and begin a program of remediation and restoration.

Continue reading "Restoring the Roots of Life in a New Era" »

Regarding the overturning of the Yolo Superior Court's decision on Trackside


A statement from the Old East Davis Neighborhood Association (OEDNA)

Residents concerned about the unique feel of Davis should be troubled by this ruling. By overturning the trial court, the appeals court implies that the City does not have to keep its own commitments as implemented in the ordinances and planning documents. The appeals court grants the City license to take any provisions agreed upon by the community to protect neighborhoods or specific resources and then interpret them in a way that best serves the interests of developers or other special interests.

When the City decided not to create a historical district for the 2001 General Plan, they opted instead for a conservation overlay district, having protections codified in the Design Guidelines and enforced in the zoning codes. Many community members and businesses, including OEDNA, worked to complete these documents, trusting that future City Councils would honor their intent.

A Mixed-Use Mass and Scale guideline states: "A building shall appear to be in scale with traditional single-family houses along the street front." And a zoning code states: "Wherever the guidelines for the DTRN conflict with the existing zoning standards including planned development, the more restrictive standard shall prevail." The Trackside Project as approved by the City clearly does not follow this directive. However, the appeals court decision ruled that the City has almost complete discretion in how it interprets and/or reinterprets its planning documents.

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Valley Clean Energy launches an innovative program for agricultural customers to reduce grid stress and save farmers money.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved a $3.25 million, 5-megawatt pilot program that simplifies energy pricing for agricultural customers and provides lucrative automation incentives to adjust schedules to match grid conditions.

VCE(From press release) Valley Clean Energy (VCE) is excited to announce that the California Public Utilities Commission has approved a $3.25 million pilot program to deploy automation systems, mainly for irrigation, that are responsive to the power grid at subsidized or no cost to farmers.

Partnering with TeMix and Polaris Energy Services, VCE will implement the 5-megawatt program starting in the summer of 2022. TeMix invented the technology that creates and transmits dynamic electricity rates that are sensitive to grid conditions, and Polaris is the leader in agricultural demand flexibility.

Building on state-funded research and development by TeMix and Polaris, the Agricultural Flexible Irrigation Technology (AgFIT) pilot program will provide VCE agricultural customers with automation systems and software to easily purchase energy at the lowest prices possible while meeting their crop and operational requirements.

The pilot tariff gives price signals through the simplified rates to incentivize farmers to shift their electricity use. Electricity is not just cheaper when renewables are plentiful; shifting the electricity load off expensive peak times reduces carbon emissions because renewables can be relied upon more heavily, rather than using more carbon-intensive electricity due to higher demand.

As seen in the previous pilot by Polaris and TeMix, growers in the program enjoy a bill savings of 10–15% for shifting energy consumption from the hours when the grid is under the greatest stress to hours when renewable electricity is plentiful. Additionally, incentives for the automation systems of their choice save approximately 30% on labor costs while improving crop quality.

Continue reading "Valley Clean Energy launches an innovative program for agricultural customers to reduce grid stress and save farmers money." »

Valley Clean Energy Hires New Program and Community Engagement Analyst

Sierra-1(From press release) Valley Clean Energy announces the hiring of Sierra Huffman as its new program and community engagement analyst. VCE is the local electricity provider for the cities of Winters, Woodland and Davis as well as the unincorporated portions of Yolo County.

Huffman is responsible for developing and implementing programs, maintaining stakeholder relations, opening avenues for community engagement, and using analytical methodologies to educate and inform. With nearly two years of experience with community choice aggregators such as VCE, Huffman has brought relevant skill sets to the team.

Before joining VCE, she created greenhouse gas reduction measures for Humboldt County’s Climate Action Plan and established long-term planning goals for Redwood Coast Energy Authority’s Repower+. Much of her work focused on energy prices and rates, electric vehicle adoption, rooftop solar installations, and gas appliance retrofits.

She also completed an internship with Silicon Valley Clean Energy before coming to Yolo County.

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Comments on DiSC 2022 Technical Memorandum

DiSC2022-conceptualmapBy Matt Williams

What follows are the public comments that I submitted to the Finance and Budget Commission (FBC) this morning regarding the Economic & Planning Systems, Inc. (EPS) Fiscal Analysis of DiSC 2022. The Technical Memorandum prepared by EPS can be found here. The 27 items included are not exhaustive.

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Waste Farmland for Bad Mobility?

Hiroshima_aftermath - Metaphor for DISC II
Hiroshima_aftermath - Metaphor for DISC II By U.S. Navy Public Affairs Resources Website - http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/images/historical/hiroshima.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=91928

Today at the monthly meeting of the Bicycle Transportation and Street Safe...


Yes, the Staff of the City of Davis again botched the name of the "bicycling commission", formally the "Bicycling, Transportation and Street Safety Commission" in L'il Bastard Son of DISC I, also known as DISC II.

Just a simple typo? Yes, the name makes no grammatical sense. When I was on the Commission I tried to change it. No success. Anyway, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Staff didn't notice the repeated error in the Staff Report for DISC II.

Whatever? OK, here's the summary of DISC II in regards to transportation:

They promise:

  • To contribute to a grade-separated crossing of Mace.
  • To hire a Transportation Demand Manager, who will solve transportation stuff in the future
  • To contribute money for stuff, in the future, like "carpool lanes" (sic*) on I-80 as part of the Multi-Million Dollar Unknown Lanes Project of Caltrans District 3.

The project is placed directly on I-80: When there's no congestion, which is still much of the time, it will take 15-20 minutes door-to-door from DISC II to much of UC Davis campus, West Sacramento, and so on. Downtown. It simply has no competition.

Certainly not from cycling! The planned residential area of DISC II is simply so far cycling-wise from everything that it should have been rejected by staff. There is no connectivity promised to South Davis, including Nugget and some nice restaurants etc around it. (Seriously, does anyone from Nugget HQ ride to South Davis Nugget by bike? Ha!!) Modifications to the Mace over-crossing of the Union Pacific ROW and I-80 to make it cycling-friendly (or better) and pedestrian-tolerant are absolutely necessary even without DISC II, and very expensive, and DISC II's leaders and Staff are planning nothing about it.

Is anyone even going to walk to Target? Perhaps kids will ride bikes to schools in East Davis, because they have no other choice aside from the parental automobile ferry.

Sure, some shuttles and so forth are promised, there's that Park & Ride, people without fare-free parking or cheap parking at their destination might take transit.

DISC II is planned to impact Roads 32A and B as a way to avoid Mace, even as right now the City and County are trying to create a safe route on 32A to the Bypass for people riding bikes.

DISC can't promise anything concrete, e.g. only a study on Mace. But then it will generate enough tax revenue many years from now? For now - and we need improvements now - the City couldn't even get the developers of the project to pay for removal and replacement of the slip lanes on Mace and Alhambra. Similar for the extended stay hotel on Mace and 2nd. And in South Davis, only the part of Chiles directly fronting the new hotel has been fully re-paved. The differential in illumination is so great that after passing the hotel one can barely see the road.

For over four years the City's  had a very greasy grip on the handlebars of our collective bicycle: There's been no senior civil engineer for transportation for all of that time. During the summer the City Council finally re-authorized a new budget for this position, and finally an executive search firm will be tasked to find someone. It's unlikely they will start before spring, too late to weigh in on DISC II, five years since the last one left.

Last time DISC I came to the BTSSC I dissented on support of a list of recommendations; I was on the sub-committee that developed what turned into that. In the end I knew that e.g. "lipstick on a pig" was too weak a metaphor for the nonsense of DISC I. It's the same for DISC II.

* Caltrans doesn't know what kind of extra lane it will be.



Diverse Group Opposes Teichert Shifler Gravel Mining Project at Dec. 9 Yolo County Planning Commission Hearing

I would like to alert you to the rapidly growing opposition to a 30-year deep pit gravel mining project proposed by Teichert, Inc. alongside lower Cache Creek in Yolo County, just three miles west of the City of Woodland.

The Yolo County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on this project as Item #12: consider a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors regarding certification of the Environmental Impact Report and approval of the Teichert Shifler Mining and Reclamation Project on a site west of Woodland, CA, including certification of the General Plan Amendment, Rezone, and other associated approvals.  The public hearing, via zoom or telephone,  will take place on December 9, beginning at 8:30 AM.

Nearby homeowners of the WildWings community, defenders of a unique Patwin-Wintun Tending and Gathering Garden, toxicologists, climate advocates and an Episcopal minister are among a diverse group urging the Yolo County Planning Commission to reject the Final EIR and oppose the rezoning of prime farmland to allow the gravel to be mined. 

Attached is a Comment Letter submitted on December 8, 2021 to the Planning Commission and signed by over 100 opponents of this ecologically destructive mining project.

Please contact the following individuals for further information and interviews:

Charles Salocks, Toxicologist, Retired, California Environmental Protection Agency, cbsalocks@gmail.com
Ann Liu, Retired CTA, UCCE Master Gardener, skip2mylew@gmail.com
Alessa Johns, Professor Emerita, University of California, Davis, alessajohns@gmail.com

Thank you,

Nancy Price

Download Memo to Commissioners and Supervisors on Teichert Shifler Issues Final

Continue reading "Diverse Group Opposes Teichert Shifler Gravel Mining Project at Dec. 9 Yolo County Planning Commission Hearing" »

Farmers Market open on Friday mornings before Christmas and New Year's Day

Yañez Farms sells distinctive, locally grown poinsettias at the Wednesday and Saturday Davis Farmers Markets. (Courtesy photo)

(From press release) The Davis Farmers Market will be closed on Christmas and New Year’s days, but open for special morning hours on the Fridays before each holiday.

On Fridays, Dec. 24 and 31, the market will be open from 8 a.m. to noon. It will have regular hours on (3 to 6 p.m.) on Wednesday, Dec. 29.  America’s favorite farmers market operates rain or shine in Central Park, 301 C St., Davis.

Year-round, the Davis Farmers Market is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Wednesday hours are 3 to 6 p.m. November through March, and 3 to 7 p.m. April through October.

Along with abundant farm-fresh produce, the Saturday market is a great place to do holiday gift shopping. Enjoy coffee and hot food, and peruse artisan crafts, market-logo merchandise, and surprising local ingredients for gift baskets.

For more information, visit https//davisfarmersmarket.org or visit it on Facebook or Instagram.

This Jew Says "Bring back the 'Christmas Tree'"


I identify as culturally Jewish. I lived in Prague for many years. Most know that Jews and Jewish culture were largely erased from what's now the Czech capital and much of central and eastern Europe from the 1930's through the 1980's.

In Prague and all over Czechia, "Christmas" as such has various traditions, most of which are similar to those in the USA. One thing which was quite unusual was the public selling of carp in public squares or similar areas. In the days up to Xmas, many would buy them and bring them home and put them in their bathtub for a few days before killing and eating them; others - probably more - had them bludgeoned to death in the street before bringing them home.

It was not pleasant to watch the second example; many Czechs would argue that fish had a very undeveloped nerve system and wouldn't feel much, and in any case it was not worse that simply buying meat at the market.

I don't like cooked carp. However, if this was a Davis tradition and E St Plaza was filled with tanks of water and carp and so on, I would still not get offended, more specifically to take special offense because I am Jewish (Jews were never deported from Davis, so that element is not an issue!).

What IS deeply offensive however, in Downtown Davis, is the "Holiday Tree". For starters, it's clear that this name for a winter pagan symbol for Christmas came about a couple decades ago because the State is not supposed to be involved in Religion. So it's thought that "Christmas Tree" is inappropriate. In schools there is education about different holidays that happen at different times of the year, though official holidays are another thing!

The deeper problem is the second issue, which is somehow Hanukkah, the Jewish "festival of lights" is only coincidentally around Xmas, and has no connection to it, at least historically (it's more consumerist in the USA, likely because of its proximity to the western Christian holiday - Eastern Christians observe it some weeks later, they use a different calendar - so there is a bit of a relationship, fine... though for myself and some other Jews it's a more modest affair - and while about a "miracle", it's not a religious holiday.)

The deepest problem is that the evening event traditionally connected with the Holiday Tree in Davis has almost zero Jewish anything. There's lots of Santa, songs and so on - some of which is not happening this year. Even the menorah lighting in Davis this year happened at the Cannery - in Prague, Chabad does it in one of many square in the city center. So if you're gonna call it a Holiday Tree - make it about everything happening around now - Diwali was not so long ago, tonight is the fifth night of Hanukkah, Xmas isn't for more than three weeks, then there's Gregorian New Year (like "Chinese New Year", though it's really the East Asian Lunar New Year...). There's also Winter Solstice - in the northern hemisphere -  obviously already connected with Christmas, but I think deserving distinction. One idea - to justify the felling and display of another tree in - or connected with Davis politics - is to make it truly inclusive and supporting of an inclusive event. But when there's no real connection between a holiday and another, the celebrations should be independent.

So as a Jew I am happy to celebrate Western Christmas with my fellow Christian, Christianish or other non-Jews. After Gregorian New Year, please take down the "Holiday Tree". Permanently. Next year, please put up a "Christmas Tree" in Downtown Davis.


‘Stuff the Bus’ in 5th Annual Holiday Food Drive

StuffTheBus_Flyer(From press release) Unitrans and the Davis Food Co-op are calling on the community to contribute to “Stuff the Bus,” a holiday food drive that is also asking for a few other of life’s necessities this year. Donations will go to the student-run Pantry at the University of California, Davis. The Pantry, a unit of the Associated Students of UC Davis, aims to ensure students in need don’t miss a meal or go without other basic necessities while trying to stay in school.

Look for the vintage Unitrans London double-decker bus on display in the parking lot of the Davis Food Co-op, 620 G St., from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, December 11 where volunteers will be receiving food donations. For donors’ convenience, the Davis Food Co-op will offer prepacked bags of groceries and other items — bags you can buy at the checkout stands, and staff will deliver the bags to the bus.

Children and adults alike are welcome to enjoy the view from the top deck of the bus as they drop off their donations. The first 50 donors will receive Unitrans passes good for 10 free rides.

The Pantry provided this list of suggested donations: new shampoo, conditioner, body wash, bars of soap, and other personal hygiene items; canned or boxed meals; gluten-free grains like quinoa; canned fruit and vegetables; canned or dry beans; canned soup; baby formula; rice; whole grain pasta — and please don’t forget the peanut butter and similar items.

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