Part 2 Candidate Responses to the Sierra Club Yolano Group Questionnaire for the 2022 Davis City Council Election
Part 4 Candidate Responses to the Sierra Club Yolano Group Questionnaire for the 2022 Davis City Council Election

Part 3 Candidate Responses to the Sierra Club Yolano Group Questionnaire for the 2022 Davis City Council Election

Sierra-club-yolano

Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions

Introduction - As has been our custom for over 20 years, the Sierra Club Yolano Group prepares a wide-ranging questionnaire and presents it to candidates in races of interest to our local membership. The questionnaire for the 2022 Davis City Council race received answers from all 5 candidates in the 2 of the 5 City Council Districts for which an election is held in November, 2022.

The candidates, listed in alphabetical order by their first name, are:

District 1 (West Davis): - Bapu Vaitla, Dan Carson, and Kelsey Fortune

District 4 (East Davis ) - Adam Morrill, Gloria Partida

Questions were asked in the following general categories :

Part 1 - Land Use and Housing Development – Peripheral Development

Part 2-- Land Use and Housing Development – Downtown Core and Student Housing

Part 3 - Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Part 4 - Transportation Management

Part 5 - Toxics in the Environment and Other Environmental Issues

Part 6 - Waste Management and Financial Contributors

Parts 1 and 2 in this series can be viewed by clicking on that article's title above which is linked to the earlier publication.

This is the 3rd in the series of articles and focuses on Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions and provides candidate responses to the following questions:

Question #1 - Greenhouse Gas Mitigation for New Development

Davis has declared a Climate Emergency and mandated carbon neutrality by 2040. Often 70% or more of a new project's GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions are due to transportation-related impacts which are not addressed in increasingly stringent building standards. Some have proposed that developers pay for mitigation of these GHGs because they cause public harm just as sellers of tobacco pay a tax for their associated public harm.

Do you support in principal a GHG mitigation fee on new developments in Davis and why or why not?  If yes, do you have any ideas how such a fee might be assessed or used by the City?

Question #2 - Commercial / Multi-Family Solar PV Ordinance

There currently is a mandatory solar PV requirement for new single-family home and low-rise apartment construction in Davis. However, there are currently no similar requirements for new multi-family housing projects greater than 3 stories or for commercial construction.

 

Do you support a proposed ordinance mandating solar photovoltaic systems on new multi-family housing, or commercial construction in Davis if not otherwise planned for a net-zero energy use?

Question #3 – Other Energy Conservation Measures

What additional steps could be taken by the City, its businesses, and residents that you believe would be most effective in reducing overall energy use and GHG emissions in Davis to meet our climate action and adaptation goals?

Subsequent articles in the series in the coming days will focus on each of the general categories in Parts 4-6.

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Part 3 - Energy Use and Greenhouse Gases (GHGs)

Question #1 - Greenhouse Gas Mitigation for New Development

Davis has declared a Climate Emergency and mandated carbon neutrality by 2040. Often 70% or more of a new project's GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions are due to transportation-related impacts which are not addressed in increasingly stringent building standards. Some have proposed that developers pay for mitigation of these GHGs because they cause public harm just as sellers of tobacco pay a tax for their associated public harm.

Do you support in principal a GHG mitigation fee on new developments in Davis and why or why not?  If yes, do you have any ideas how such a fee might be assessed or used by the City?

 

Responses from District 1 Candidates

Bapu Vaitla - I’m open, in principle, to a GHG mitigation fee. Regulation to internalize the costs of greenhouse gas emissions is necessary. The atmosphere is a public good, and emissions degrade the quality of that good. Developers should bear some of the cost of mitigation, for example by paying into a climate resilience fund. Such a fund would be earmarked for activities included in the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP).

The fee structure of such payments should be determined by the amount of embodied carbon in the buildings, the degree to which the development is linked to fossil fuel-free transit options, and how the imposition of such a fee affects the construction of necessary housing, especially workforce and low-income housing.

I believe that all new development in Davis should strive to be climate-friendly and transit-linked. Increased housing does not have to mean increased emissions. In fact, by densifying our population and increasing the demand for public transit options, new housing can reduce per-capita emissions.

Dan Carson  - In March 2019 I joined with my council colleague Lucas Frerichs and an ad hoc group of interested climate activists in co-authoring the resolution declaring a climate emergency and requiring an update to our 12-year-old climate action plan accelerate our shift to carbon neutrality for the City of Davis by ten years to the year 2040.  The Davis City Council recently approved a draft set of actions for the update to its Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP). I joined in voting for this important step to advance our climate plan on May 24, 2022. Action A-6 of that draft plan calls for the establishment of a carbon mitigation fund to collect voluntary and-or mandatory payments to mitigate local emissions activities, with collected funds used to support a range of local climate change-related projects.  The inclusion of this action in the draft CAAP means that it will now be subject to CEQA review and the preparation of a more detailed implementation plan by city staff in consultation with a panel of experts and others. 

I called for and my council colleagues agree to council action to direct staff and the city’s consultant to identify specific GHG emissions targets for 2030 and 2040 in the CAAP update, and, whenever feasible, score the GHG reduction benefit of specific proposed climate actions. In other words, I worked to ensure that the final CAAP included meaningful accountability measures so that council would know if the plan it ultimately adopted met the city’s GHG reduction targets. That scoring has now occurred, giving city policymakers critical information to write a plan that is meaningful and effective.

Kelsey Fortune -  I support limiting emissions from new development through fees. Using a monetary incentive linked to outcomes allows developers flexibility in how they choose to meet the standards we set.

First, I believe these fees should be assessed annually, not one time. Emissions from transportation are not a one-time cost, they are ongoing.

My initial plan to implement a tax on transportation emissions would be to charge a fee per parking spot built for new and existing developments. This would be simple to measure and assess, which is not always the case with transportation related emissions fees. In addition, this would provide ongoing incentive for land use innovation and funding to the City for mitigation and alternative infrastructure.

Responses from District 4 Candidates

Adam Morrill - I support mitigation fees on new developments assuming that they are not carbon neutral.  Fees could be levied via the Assessment District process, that way it is not a one-time payment but an ongoing source of revenue to be used to help mitigate the GHGs that result from the development.  However, there should be an emphasis in the design process of reducing GHGs to the lowest possible amount.  Another possible option, in addition to minimizing GHGs, would be to allow the developer invest in carbon capture either within Davis or the county to the extent that the investment would offset the GHGs from the development.

Gloria Partida - I support exploring any ideas that will get us to our goal. I am cautious of how these measures will impact vulnerable populations and populations with less means. Understanding how such a fee can be used to be most impactfull is very important. 

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Question #2 - Commercial / Multi-Family Solar PV Ordinance

There currently is a mandatory solar PV requirement for new single-family home and low-rise apartment construction in Davis. However, there are currently no similar requirements for new multi-family housing projects greater than 3 stories or for commercial construction.

Do you support a proposed ordinance mandating solar photovoltaic systems on new multi-family housing, or commercial construction in Davis if not otherwise planned for a net-zero energy use?

Responses from District 1 Candidates

 

Bapu Vaitla - I support a solar or net-zero requirement for all new commercial construction. I would support the same requirement for multi-family housing provided that an independent fiscal analysis does not suggest that this requirement impedes the construction of low-income housing. I would also argue that the City should offer photovoltaic subsidies for multi-family developments exceeding the inclusionary requirement by at least 5%, i.e., that agree to a 20% inclusionary percentage. This would incentivize both the transition to photovoltaics and the construction of affordable units.

Dan Carson - The Davis City Council has adopted a so-called “reach ordinance” that goes beyond state building code requirements to provide strong incentives for solar in commercial and multi-family housing. These efforts would be taken significantly further under the draft CAAP now under CEQA review which I have voted as a council member to approve on May 24, 2022. For example, draft action A-1 of our draft CAAP update envisions a broad effort to transition to high efficiency, zero carbon homes and buildings. Draft Action A-4 requires all-electric for new construction, and specifically calls for continuing to update the city’s residential and nonresidential reach codes to require all-electric new construction.  I expect that such requirements will apply to multi-family housing. Notably, council has already reached agreement in development agreements to impose such higher all-electric standards that go beyond the requirements of the reach code for particular projects such as the recent reauthorization of Chiles Ranch. I supported and advocated for this change as a councilmember.

Kelsey Fortune - I support the thought behind a solar mandate. However, as an economist, I generally disagree with command-and-control policies like a solar mandate. Mandates create incentive structures that favor specific technologies, in this case PV, which is not a solution alone. As we increase PV without sufficient storage to cover the afternoon ramp, we require additional combined cycle natural gas plants or vast increases in storage to handle the rapid change in net demand.

I would prefer a requirement for new development to meet specific energy and environmental standards with penalty fees for noncompliance. I believe that a net zero standard is appropriate but believe that people should be able to choose how they get there.

In addition to requirements for new construction, it is increasingly important to incentivize existing structures to retrofit and switch to fully renewable electric energy.

Responses from District 4 Candidates

Adam Morrill - If feasible (taking into consideration shading and roof orientation), yes PV should be required, unless it is planned for zero-net use.  Emphasis should be placed on installing PV in new parking lots, which will also reduce the urban heat island effect.  Additionally, installation on commercial buildings should be a priority as most power used during the working hours of the day when the solar energy is available.  However, PV is not the entire solution as we still lack an ability to store that energy for later use.  So, more emphasis needs to be placed on net-zero designs with performance-based standards.

Gloria Partida - Again I support exploring all efforts. Our future definitely should include PV on all buildings.

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Question #3 – Other Energy Conservation Measures

What additional steps could be taken by the City, its businesses, and residents that you believe would be most effective in reducing overall energy use and GHG emissions in Davis to meet our climate action and adaptation goals?

Responses from District 1 Candidates

 

Bapu Vaitla Transportation accounts for 74% of Yolo County’s greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon neutrality by 2040 is not attainable without a wholesale re-imagining of transport, especially with respect to public transit and micro-mobility.

The City can bolster public transit by: utilizing more roadway capacity in Davis for public transit; working to expand bus routes and frequency, especially to shopping centers and other common destinations; creating express buses for commuting between cities in Yolo County; and improving coordination between the various transit providers (Unitrans, Yolobus, Amtrak, shuttle services) to build a highly cohesive countywide network. All public transit vehicles should operate on alternative fuels, and the City can model this change by converting our municipal vehicle fleet as rapidly as possible.

The range of micro-mobility options has expanded in recent years—bicycles, electric bikes, scooters, trailers, and pedi-cabs are all important parts of a clean transit system. The City of Davis should incentivize the use or purchase of these options; for example, a public charging infrastructure for electric bikes and scooters would support the expansion of a rental program. These policies should be implemented in concert with parking and congestion pricing in the downtown core to disincentivize the use of fossil fuel vehicles. All of these reforms must include mechanisms to subsidize low-income residents.

Building energy is another major source of emissions. New buildings and buildings re-entering the sales market should be fully electrified, with appropriate subsidies to assist in conversion, especially for multi-family and low-income developments.

Dan Carson - As discussed above, I voted on May 24, 2022 to approve the draft CAAP actions referenced above. The actions were developed based on the submittal of more than 900 ideas to the city during an extraordinarily successful public outreach effort.  Among the promising approaches referenced in the draft plan that I supported  were proposals to encourage use of carbon-embedded concrete in construction, update the city’s EV charging plan to accommodate the expected rapid growth in EV vehicles, switch the city to an all-electric fleet, and transition existing homes to heat pumps and away from fossil fuels.   

Kelsey Fortune - The most important thing we can do as individuals is limit the amount we drive.

As a city, we need encourage, solicit, and approve development that allows people to live near where the work and play to limit the need for vehicles. Davis is uniquely suited for this type of planning as we already have robust bicycling culture and infrastructure. The city also needs to create incentives for businesses to encourage the use of active and public transit by employees and customers

Additionally, implementing pricing for having a vehicle in multifamily units and street permits would reduce VMT through decreased vehicle ownership while still allowing people to choose vehicle ownership if they deem it

These are only a few ideas that come from my personal experience living in Davis. The most important thing that the City Council can do is create a climate commission to collect ideas from our intelligent and involved citizens, work collaboratively with staff, council, local and regional partners, and push the city forward in an attempt to exceed our goals.

Responses from District 4 Candidates

Adam Morrill - The city needs to lead by example and take concrete steps to reduce its GHGs emissions before demanding businesses and the public do so.

The city should be installing PV systems on all city property where it is feasible.  Most city operations use power during the day, so if the city had a robust deployment of PV systems throughout its facilities, it could offset much of its energy use.  Additionally, many of the city’s building are old and energy inefficient.  Investments need to be made to retrofit or replace structures that are a continuous drain on the city’s energy use.  Also, the city should electrify the majority of its fleet.  Most city vehicles are not used continuously and thus could easily be charged through the PV systems as previously mentioned.

Gloria Partida - Most of our GHG come from transportation. Making it easy for people to move to electrified transportation and public electrified transportation will be important. Supporting conversion of residential and business heating to electric would help. Supporting jobs and housing in Davis so that residents do not have to travel out of town is equally important.

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The Sierra Club Yolano Group is a local Sierra Club group comprising members in all of Yolo and small parts of Solano and Colusa Counties. We can be contacted at sierraclubyolanogroup@gmail.com.

Comments

Ron O

Once again, Gloria takes the prize for the weakest/thin responses on here.

And what the heck is she talking about, in regard to "increasing housing and jobs" so that people don't have to travel out of town?

Something like DiSC would have increased travel into town.

And if you increase housing, how does that prevent those new residents from traveling out of town for work?

And if you increase both (equally), how does that prevent existing residents from traveling out of town for work? (The "problem" she claims to be trying to resolve?)

Yikes!

Nikki

I read the responses from the new candidates running and I feel a hunger and a desire to infuse new ideas and libido (life force energy) to our community. I favor Kelsey and Adam based off how their responses align with my own thinking. However, it's shocking to read the self-centered responses from Dan Carson who only highlights what he has done in the past rather than providing a vision or anything innovative to press towards in the future. It's shocking to think that Gloria Partida was our mayor for so long. The lack of interest she displays in responding to these immediate challenges our community faces is rather despicable in its own right. I think in my district, Adam has a good chance of unseating her.

Adam Morrill

Nikki,
Please reach out to me via email. I would love to speak with you.
adam@adam4davis.org

FYI - To let you know how dedicated I am WORKING for our community, I was tabling at Nugget today from 4-6pm in the 110+ heat making friends and gaining supporters. I know what it means to work hard and that’s what I plan on doing on City Council.

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