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January 2023

Welcome to Al's Corner - "Pouring Gasoline on the Dumpster Fire of Davis Politics" - February 2023

image from www.sparkysonestop.com

February starts early at Al's Corner !  To kick off the month, here are some ground rules:  at Al's Corner, you are welcome to make (judged by some others to be) glib comments that you think are humorous in regard to articles pertaining to tragic situations !   See below:

Continue reading "Welcome to Al's Corner - "Pouring Gasoline on the Dumpster Fire of Davis Politics" - February 2023" »

Gavvy's Delusions

Regarding Mass Shootings:

Gavvy Newsom: <i> "What the hell is wrong with us? Society becomes how we behave. We’ve allowed this to happen. It doesn’t have to be this way. It wasn’t always this way. Decades ago it wasn’t this way. We’ve allowed this to happen.” </i>

Us who? We who?

Continue reading "Gavvy's Delusions" »

Comments on Inclusionary Multifamily Rental Housing Ordinance Review

Rik Keller, Housing Consultant and Affordable Housing Advocate


Davis City Council comments 1/17/2023

Item 5: Inclusionary Multifamily Rental Housing Ordinance Review 


I have comments on the product and process:


1) It is an overly simplistic, opaque study with bad assumptions.

  • The pro forma analysis has a lot of “black box” qualities: Doesn’t show the calculations used or major assumptions, so it is not possible to adequately vet, double-check, and critique the methodology, assumptions, and calculations.

    • The study doesn’t use a sophisticated pro forma analysis: it is very crude and basic and doesn't allow changes in parameters of things like number of stories, unit sizes, and parking construction types and configurations.

    • Because of this simplistic and opaque approach, it doesn’t offer flexibility in analysis or running different scenarios beyond the very limited canned ones shown.

  • One terrible assumption: it considers one major parameter as given---the underlying land price. 

    • If even the 100% market units don’t reach the 12% IRR threshold in the pro forma, then that tells me that the land price assumption is too high because we have had recent development proposals for multifamily development

    • The fact is that land value varies by its scarcity and demand.

    • This is a massive flaw as the City’s own density, parking, and inclusionary requirements have large effects on this parameter and hence development feasibility.

    • If you increase affordable housing requirements, you reduce the bidding demand price for land

    • In reality, land costs are not fixed and are influenced by the IRR that projects can achieve. If you make more affordable units required, that should actually lower land costs because the rate of return is now lower.

  • Another issue: bringing up reducing/eliminating development/impact fees as the only feasible way to make projects work. If projects don’t cover their own impact costs, you are increasing City debt and subsiding developer profits. I’m shocked that this is the only solution put on the table by the consultants.

  • There is also a statement on page 39 that “No incentives are needed in a policy that requires 15% - 25% of small, workforce units.” However, there is no data or analysis provided for this assertion. 

    • In actuality, small units don’t usually end up providing affordability. The most expensive components of units are the kitchens and HVAC systems. Small units have much higher per square foot costs.

    • The City of Davis has seen this inefficiency in the exorbitant proposed rents for the Olive Drive Mixed Use Project even after eliminating parking requirements.


2) Ironically, one good thing about the study is that it shows the City’s planning failure in targeting densities and incentives to get maximum production of affordable units.

  • It states “Downtown’s new form based code does a great job at removing barriers to development. Unfortunately, this limits our options to offer development incentives as part of the policy.” and the “Residential high density zone encourages development that is denser than what is typically seen in areas outside of Downtown Davis and already removes commonly known barriers to multifamily development.”

  • But a terrible assumption of the report is that the City can’t modify its density and parking requirements so that they can be used as incentives for increased affordable housing requirements.

    • If you allow too much default density and reduce parking requirements in a given zoning district up front, you have given away for nothing incentives that you could offer for affordable housing production.


3) There is a failure in City’s process with the Housing Element Update lead to this.

  • It has now been almost 5 years since the City scrapped its Affordable Housing Ordinance (AHO) for its interim ordinance that drastically weekend Inclusionary requirements.

  • After breaking deadlines multiple times, back in May 2021, staff stated that it would finally provide a “comprehensive update” to the AHO as part of the HEU. But the HE just ended up kicking the can down the road further.

  • The very limited nature of the report under review right now demonstrates the need to comprehensively address housing policy, not do it piecemeal like this.

  • We must think holistically:

    • The City lost an opportunity with the HEU, and needs to to re-group with actual affordable housing advocates leading policy rather than an advisory group stacked with development interests that pushed failed free-market trickle-down approaches.

    • A proper approach is to carefully craft incentives such as increased density and reduced parking requirements that offset affordability requirements. Simply having large allowable densities and allowing by-right development without strengthening affordability requirements is bypassing half of the equation. Density does not necessarily (and usually doesn’t) equal affordability. Providing half of the equation in terms of incentives without receiving the other half in terms of actual commitments to affordability is missing the point.


Conclusion: This study is a poor excuse for a comprehensive analysis of the City’s actual policy option for increasing affordable housing production. The analysis put its thumb firmly on the scale to try to justify a weakening of the City’s inclusionary housing requirements. They claim that the requirements eat into developer profit margins and make it so projects won’t “pencil out,” In contrast, actual economic analysis of  the results of implementing inclusionary programs does not bear this out:

  •  “The most highly regarded empirical evidence suggests that inclusionary housing programs can produce affordable housing and do not lead to significant declines in overall housing production or to increases in market-rate prices” (National Housing Conference’s (NHC) Center for Housing Policy: “Separating Fact from Fiction to Design Effective Inclusionary Housing Programs.” https://nhc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Separating-Fact-from-Fiction-to-Design.pdf


The City should use evidence-based local policy solutions that further goals for inclusive, equitable, and affordable housing solutions.This process and product is not adequate.

Is this one block on G St. the best choice?

Screen Shot 2023-01-16 at 8.50.05 AMBy Diana

Is the one block on G St. the only area in downtown Davis suitable for a community gathering spot?  Don’t we have the accessible E St. plaza that was converted from parking spaces to a community gathering area, complete with staging for entertainment and communal activities, that would better serve the downtown and the public?  Public funds were used to make this happen in 2000.  Did I see an announcement a year or so ago, either from The Davis Enterprise or from the Davis downtown business association, of plans for a remake of E St. plaza at considerable cost paid for with federal funds?  Wouldn’t that project and space make better sense, financially and economically, for redevelopment by the city with the very same goals in mind for making a safe and comfortable gathering spot for the community in downtown Davis?

Another possible area for the city of Davis to consider in their quest to develop community friendly space is to enhance an area of Central Park with user friendly spaces that would promote community.  Wait!  There’s already something there: Davisphere! “What is The Davisphere? It is a vibrant, eclectic & electric communal atmosphere where there is entertainment for all ages. The idea was based on the simple premise that positive energy builds when people get together and enjoy themselves. The Davisphere symbolizes community encompassment, vibrancy, the Earth we share, and a place of belonging.”  It’s located right here in downtown Davis thanks to the efforts of DDBA.

Screen Shot 2023-01-16 at 8.53.10 AMWhat about having the city work alongside the property owners of Davis Commons on 1st and Richards Blvd. to create the kind of open air community space the city is striving for?  The one-acre, semicircular park bordering the businesses located in the heart of downtown Davis could be a spectacular gathering spot.  This could happen without hampering local business with undemocratically government enforced street closures.

I’m thankful to Davis for providing the 63 miles of bike paths and 102 miles of bike lanes throughout the entire city so that cyclists are able to navigate our town safely. Do we really need to take one more block for bicycles if it means damaging local businesses to the point of endangering the entire downtown? The time and expense it takes to operate a business is huge and when it all goes south the independent owner is devastated!  Are you aware of how many businesses have closed in the last 2 ½ years in downtown Davis? At last count there were multiple dozens! How many more before the lights go out in downtown Davis?

Reopen G St. and look for a better alternative that make sense.

A pedestrian-only area would be neat…let's reactivate G Street!

G Street GuideBelow is a recent letter, shared with the Davisite, to our council members to provide input on the upcoming January 17th meeting, addressing Item 4: G Street Closure Update.

Sent by email on January 14, 2023 

Good day to you council members,

It has been two years and six months since we closed G Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets to vehicular traffic. I helped plan for this closure, as I was staff at the Davis Downtown Business Association (DDBA) at the time. The DDBA worked closely with City staff Ash Feeney and Sarah Worley. I talked to business owners, created infographics (such as the one attached), and monitored this pedestrian-only area frequently when it was considered a part of the City and DDBA's Open Air Davis initiative.

We were all very satisfied with our efforts to support downtown businesses, especially restaurants, and keep them open during COVID-19 shutdowns.

Ever since we converted a portion G Street to a pedestrian-only area, there have been pleas from the business community for one of two things to happen:

1) Open this area of G Street again for parking, or

2) Beautify and activate this area of G Street and take advantage of a rare pedestrian-only conversion

I personally have always been a strong advocate for the latter option; however, I do understand the point of view of those who prefer the former option. In the following sections, I will expand upon these two options; describe the mounting pressure for action; and explain how we can make Davisites happier.

Continue reading "A pedestrian-only area would be neat…let's reactivate G Street!" »

Caring for Our Earth, Caring for Each Other

Celebration-of-abraham-logo(From press release) The Celebration of Abraham, a long-time interfaith organization in Yolo County, extends an invitation to the whole community to join us for our 20th annual community conversation:  “Caring for Our Earth, Caring for Each Other.” Helen Roland, President of Celebration of Abraham explained, “It seemed fitting that our 20th anniversary community conversation theme revisits one of our earlier events of caring for creation, and at the same time expands to reflect a common thread in the Abrahamic faiths recognizing a relationship between stewardship for our earth and for humankind.” The topic was arrived at by a multi-faith group of Celebration of Abraham members who gather monthly to plan for the event.

Regardless of spiritual traditions, all are welcome to join in the virtual ZOOM gathering from 3 pm to 5 pm on Sunday, February 5. Please register here: https://bit.ly/CeleAbraham20.

Continue reading "Caring for Our Earth, Caring for Each Other" »

The City's Failure to Plan for Emergencies

Fixing power pole
PG&E crew working into the night to fix a leaning power pole near Cesar Chavez Elementary

By Roberta Millstein

The recent storms have made it amply clear that the City lacks any sort of coherent plan for dealing with storms (and presumably other sorts of emergencies).  Every action taken in response to the recent storm was late, and in some cases, inadequate. 

Yet these storms were comparable to other big storms that Davis has experienced in past years.  And even if they weren’t, the storm that occurred over New Year’s Eve and into New Year’s Day ought to have been a warm up, with lessons learned for the storms Jan 4-8, all of which were well-predicted by weather forecasters. 

The City seemed to make things up as they go.  To be clear, I am not faulting rank-and-file staff, who clearly were working hard under difficult circumstances.  It has also been reported that the City did a good job finding shelter for people lacking housing.  I am grateful for these efforts.  I am faulting the City Council  and the City Manager for failure to provide leadership.  There should have been plans in place for these kind of events long ago.

Here are the areas that need to improve.  I have broken them into short-term, medium-term, and long term, in the sense that the things in the short term can and should be fixed right away.  The others will take a little longer.

Continue reading "The City's Failure to Plan for Emergencies" »

"The Fun Habit" Author at Avid Reader

!!RuckerAvid Reader Bookstore to host Mike Rucker (who grew up in Davis) author of "The Fun Habit" Thursday January 12, 2023 at 6pm. Avid Reader is located at 617 2nd Street Davis, CA.

<<From Press Release>>

“Far from being just a feel-good exhortation or collection of fun activities to embark upon, this title brings an in-depth, science-backed exploration of happiness, through the lens of having fun.” — Library Journal

"This cheerful debut trumpeting the importance of joy…is a fittingly entertaining guide."
 Publishers Weekly

"Psychologist and fun lover Mike Rucker has written an enjoyable treatise on the art of bringing more play and joy to life." — Shelf Awareness

“Rucker’s book is full of sound, sensible, and sometimes surprising suggestions for creating space for renewal, connection, and joy.” —Psychology Today

It’s hard to deny the fact that most people want to be happy. But doesn’t it feel like the harder we try to find happiness, the more elusive it becomes?

Until recently, Dr. Mike Rucker had spent most of his life engaged in the pursuit of happiness. Yet even when all his happiness “boxes” were checked—he was married with kids and a successful career, well-traveled, physically fit— he didn’t feel all that happy. It wasn’t until Mike suffered two back-to-back personal losses that it began to dawn on him how much energy he had been expending grasping for an ideal life and criticizing himself when it seemingly always fell out of reach. In focusing on a lofty, abstract concept, he had discounted day-to-day pleasures—in particular, he had neglected to have fun.

Continue reading ""The Fun Habit" Author at Avid Reader" »

Nonprofits: Apply for a Soroptimist grant

(From press release) Soroptimist International of Davis is accepting applications from local nonprofit organizations for its annual Community Grant funding. The deadline is March 7.

For 2023, the club has $3,000 budgeted for Community Grants, which give a boost to local projects that improve the lives of women and girls. Nonprofit organizations whose work supports the Soroptimist mission are encouraged to apply for up to $3,000. Awards will be distributed in late spring. Applicants will receive notice of their application’s status by May 1.

Grant applications are evaluated for their alignment with the Soroptimist mission, vision, core values, community impact and feasibility. Any nonprofit, including previous recipients, can apply. Applicants are asked how the requested funds would address the needs of women and girls in Yolo County, and support Soroptimist core values of gender equality, empowerment, education and diversity.

To apply, visit https://www.sidavis.org/grants. Questions may be emailed to Grants Chair Mary Chapman, Community at [email protected].

Soroptimist is a global volunteer organization that provides women and girls with access to the education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment. Soroptimist International of Davis has several fundraisers a year, and reinvests all of its profits in its programs and projects. Signature programs include Live Your Dream: Education and Training Awards for Women, and Dream It, Be It: Career Support for high school girls. It also funds high school scholarships, anti-trafficking efforts, and these Community Grants to area nonprofits.

The international service club was founded in Oakland in October 1921. SI Davis was chartered in 1954. A second club, SI Greater Davis, chartered in 1985. Local members join some 75,000 Soroptimists in 122 countries and territories to contribute time and financial support to community-based projects benefiting women and girls. For more information on the club, visit https://sidavis.org or like its Facebook or Instagram pages: @SoroptimistDavis.

Smoke menace

PastedGraphic-1 5
By Darell Dickey

Polluted air makes me sick.

Every year when the cold settles in I am precluded from working in my yard and taking walks. I cannot participate in outdoor activities due to the air pollution produced from fires lit by Davis residents.

The EPA informs us that burning organic matter releases numerous toxic air pollutants including benzene, formaldehyde, hydrocarbons, and of course fine particles. Smoke can trigger asthma attacks as well as heart attacks, stroke, and heart failure. In my case the smoke from fireplace burning aggravates my autoimmune disease and advances my heart disease. Though many people in Davis suffer serious health risks associated with air pollution, and though the city has declared a Climate Emergency, the City of Davis has no firm rules against fireplace burning.

Instead of treating the toxic smoke appropriately as a health hazard, the City of Davis defines it as a “nuisance,” the same as an over-grown yard or another unsightly condition. And the smoke is considered a nuisance only under limited conditions.

Continue reading "Smoke menace" »

Please Pick the Side of Democracy


By Colin Walsh

Please pick the side of Democracy.

Tonight, the City Council has the opportunity to set in motion their own private pick of the successor to Lucas Frerichs for the District 3 Council seat, or they can side with democracy and let voters decide.

I can certainly understand the temptation to save money and sidestep elections and appoint their selected candidate (likely Donna Neville). After all, the council all endorsed each other and almost always votes together. Even our newest council member Bapu Vaitla arrives as a consummate insider with strong relationships with the other council members. I mean really the Davis power clique has dominated the last elections and has every reason to believe their handpicked appointment would win in an election anyway. After all – the inside candidates dominate in fundraising, endorsements, and opportunities in all recent council elections.

The mechanism for picking might look like this - we would probably see the Council set in motion a process where they would pick the pickers. The council could appoint a committee to go through the process of interviewing and evaluating candidates and then pick exactly the same person the council would pick. After all, the council would surely pick the pickers that would pick the council’s pick of choice anyway - all while the voters of district 3 would be left picking their noses.

But maybe district 3 would vote differently than the power clique prefers. They certainly should have a chance to pick for themselves.

Some argue precedent, that the council has picked replacements candidates in the past, but things are different now with district elections. All of the current council members are elected by voters from specific districts and not by district 3 voters. District 3 voters deserve the chance to pick their own council person without interference from the candidates representing the other districts.

Even if the council chooses an election sometime in the future, but picks an interim council member, it amounts to the biggest endorsement they can give providing a very unfair advantage to their pick in the election. Better to leave the seat open until the voters of District 3 can vote democratically for the council member to fill the remaining term that Frerichs has left behind. Frankly if district 3 voters are upset about not being represented for a period of time, they should send their complaints to Frerichs who abandoned his council seat mid term for a better paying gig.

Let’s face it, the council has been voting in lockstep on just about every major issue for years now. A vacancy for a few months is not going to make a big difference in outcome. Especially considering the lockstep council would likely just pick another person to join them in lockstep.

Or maybe the council will pick democracy and district 3 can pick the next council person to represent them. One can hope.

Welcome to Al's Corner - "Pouring Gasoline on the Dumpster Fire of Davis Politics" - January 2023

image from www.sparkysonestop.com

I woke up this New Year's morning and the Davis Vanguard wouldn't load.  I thought God had smiled down upon me and Davis and our civic nightmare was over -- The Davis Vanguard was GONE!!! 

But a couple of hours later it loaded again.  Shit.

God fails again.

So I would wish you all a Happy New Year, but why?

But is there hope?  I dunno, I got some letter from an anonymous sender referencing articles in the "California Globe" from October 2021 and April 2022.  Seriously, I don't know who sent it to me, but they knew my mailing address.  The article they referenced seems to refer to:

New IRS Complaint Against Non-Profit Davis Vanguard News Service

By Katy Grimes, October 22, 2021 3:35 pm


AND . . .

Attorney Says Non-Profit Davis Vanguard News Service ‘Continues to Violate’ Despite IRS Complaint

By Katy Grimes, April 22, 2022 10:33 am


Each is subtitled:  "It is unfair and illegal for the Vanguard to receive tax-free status and revenue to develop a website and then use that website to campaign for/against certain candidate".  The cover letter for the anonymous letter has just one sentence in a sea of white:  "Why Isn't Anyone Reporting on This?"

So what the hell is this? Doesn't the attorney so-named know that unless someone actually sues and wins, or the IRS takes action, there is no determination of legality?  And doesn't the sender realize that someone named Katy Grimes is, indeed, reporting on this -- so the assertion that no one is reporting on this is refuted on the next page.  But maybe they mean -- in Davis?

And then it occurred to me, the letter wasn't anonymously sent:  maybe there was no sender.  No human sender.  The letter may have been 'immaculately sent', if you will.  Yes, God Almighty Its-Self has chosen me to post this information on Al's Corner!!!  God has chosen ME to Save Davis!!!

God, I'm honored.  I will obey.

Maybe it will be a half-decent 2023 after all :-|

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