Entries categorized "Environment"

Particle Wars in Davis -  What you can’t see can kill you, Part II…

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The militarization of gardening?

A conversation about the proposed - and not - restrictions on toxic micro-particle hyper-distribution -  a.k.a. “leafblowing” - by three of your favorite local activists!

(COVID is Part I)

This evening the City of Davis Natural Resources Commission (NRC) will hold the first of two hearings on possibilities for leaf blowing restrictions. Here’s the memorandum - a supplement to Council’s approval of temporary leaf blowing restrictions from last October. It includes Commission and Staff proposals and results of the surveys on leaf blowing taken which were taken in June.

In summary, they are proposing a gas LB ban, time restrictions and user restrictions. Staff and Commission (sub-committee) proposals are broadly similar. 

What’s very important, however, is that there is a strong likelihood that there will be a complete ban at the state level on gas-powered equipment such as lawn mowers, edgers and so on… including leaf blowers and vacuums, or combined units. This means that any equipment-related ban in Davis that only affects gas blowers will be nothing unique in just a couple of years. 

The meeting is at 6:30pm

 

AirNow08062021
Leaf blowing prohibited on this day?...

AIR QUALITY and wildfire fallout:

Todd Edelman: There is no explanation of why the air quality-based restriction due to wildfire fallout  is based only on official AQI according to current City policy. For example, the very popular and relatively inexpensive Purple Air system could be used.  And Purple Air isn’t only used at private residences: The UC Davis environmental engineering dept has one on its roof for experiments. Lake County Air Quality Management District (AQMD) uses them for official monitoring outside of wildfire situations. The New Jersey Transit Authority seems to also use them for official purposes. Sutter Davis Hospital has them on their roof and inside. The elementary school at Beale Air Force Base has one, as does the Yolo Solano AQMD office in south Davis - they say they use it to recognize “trends”.

But perhaps the most important use of Purple Air is to determine local impacts of leaf blowing...

Previewonleafblowerstoryno2
Nope... no new restrictions if the air's bad AFTER 7:30am...

Darell Dickey: I have trouble with the concept that we can only ruin our air quality when the air is otherwise pretty good. We’re going to avoid dirtying the air when it is already bad? And then there’s my favorite part: Blowing will always create a local situation of AQI over 100, which should result in an immediate ban on blowing. 

I’m thinking that a good, logical way to present this is that if we’ve all agreed that 100 AQI is “bad enough” for us to ban activities that make it worse, then we should never be allowing the use of devices that make the AQI 100+. And this circles back to local air quality vs. relying entirely on one spot of data that’s outside of town to determine what we’re breathing in our neighborhoods at any given moment. 

If AQI 100+ is bad anywhere, then stop creating AQI 100+!

TE: There is nothing about how they determine how much ash is on the ground, though this is a condition of the lift of any AQI-based restriction according to current City policy. I have voiced this concern many times.

There were several times when the official AQI went over 100 during the day but not before 9AM; this was not mentioned in the memorandum, though I brought it up repeatedly in August in emails to the NRC.

LEAF-BLOWING, WILDFIRE SMOKE AND COVID-19

The proclamation from October 2020 that resulted in temporary leaf-blower restrictions mentions “COVID-19” 10 times, yet the current memorandum only mentions it once, and not directly in relation to smoke effects on those with who have COVID. Further, the October 2020 mentions no specific research at that time on wildfire smoke and COVID, but there’s new research not mentioned in the memorandum. 


AIR QUALITY, general:

TE: As far as I can tell leaf vacuums distribute lots of dust, and as they pick up inorganic matter as mentioned in the memorandum, I don't see how they will be allowed. But still, do people think that these things work as HEPA interior vacuums?

DD: True. But “lots of dust” from a vacuum situation is still way better than any blowing. It all needs to be in perspective as we’ll never arrive at “perfect.” Same way that electric cars aren’t perfect, but are better than gas cars, etc.

TE: Well, I think at least all the most dangerous and invisible stuff comes out the back...

DD: “Most dangerous” is not easy to defend. If the crap being stirred up produces a violent health reaction (allergies, asthma, etc), then the acute “most dangerous” thing is probably coming out the front. At least for those people who are severely affected.

The only way to call any of this “better” is if less crap is being put into the air…. As compared to doing it another way. And IMO, a vacuum is better than a blower. And leaving stuff where it is, is better than all of it.  The timing of the device usage is also important. I vacuum up deep leaves to mulch them and put them where they’ll help the yard vs. choke the plants. And I do it when the leaves are not dusty. It is a relatively benign activity.

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Purple Tahoe

 

LABOR:

TE: There's no suggestions related to the labor issue except for what may eventually be affected by a ban on gas-powered blowers. What are their wages, by the way? This is a basic question for labor related actions or studies.

DD: I hate the question where they ask the company how much it will financially destroy them. Of course the answers are all opinion, but it is presented and answered as fact. 

TE: Yes they should give figures or something. Is there possible funding from AQMD to transition out of all leaf blowing?

DD: Also, a significant percentage of landscaping businesses do not use any blowers. 

TE: Why is this? How is this influenced by opinions of consumers and of workers or their managers/companies?

DD: From what I can tell, the biggest concern from the citizenry is that they may have to pay more to the poor, under-paid folks. You know… the folks that they’re really concerned about harming with…. low wages.

Asking the yard-care business owners how bad it will be if blower use is restricted is like asking El Macero drivers how bad it will be if Mace loses one of its travel lanes. It is a total guess. It is based on everything else not changing. And they simply have no idea what the result would be. Might be higher health and better hourly wages for everybody. But of course most claim that it will just be devastating to their business. I didn’t hear one response about how it would be better for the workers who might get paid more for doing healthier work.

TE: I’ve repeatedly brought up this part of the issue, not only with the NRC, but also the Social Services Commission -- it needs to agree to provide feedback. Though leaf-blowing is not a job based on sustainable practices, there are many related jobs which are, and they require a higher skill-set. Tree trimming, building on-site composting facilities, triage of soil situations? No one should lose their jobs. 

 

LABOR AND PHASE-IN:

TE; There seems to be no scientific reasons for only phasing out gas blowers in City properties except for protecting some companies. Nothing about increasing wages, etc. The proposed start date Jan 1 (2023) is after most of the "leaf season", and over two years since the temporary regulations came into effect. This seems to be about giving enough time to buy new equipment, but this seems like a tiny expense compared to labor.

 

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Purple Nation

VIBRATION (Sound):

Roberta Millstein: You two are rightly focused on the air quality. But for a broader audience, you might also mention that these things are f*cking loud. Really f*cking loud. And that is for some a big part of why they are hated.

TE: I know that traffic noise is very bad for human health. One thing that’s worse about leaf blowing noise is that it can be unpredictable, especially if one’s neighbor is doing it -- but then also who memorizes the leaf blowing schedules of their neighbors or their yard sterilization services?

While most electric leaf blowers are quieter than gas-powered ones, it’s not guaranteed. And if an electric leaf blower is less powerful than a gas one, people may use it for longer.

 

OTHER:

DD: And the main reason that some give for the “need” of leaf blowers? No other practical way of clearing large paved parking lots. 

TE: Exactly, what are uses of LB's in terms of square footage or acres, etc?

 

CULTURE: 

TE: Yard work is good exercise if the air is clean. It connects one to their yards - even in a rental property - that other exercise outside cannot.

Leaf blowers and vacuums didn't exist in significant numbers until what, the 1980's? What did people do before that? Die, in their yards, under piles of leaves?

 

EFFECT ON TREE AND SOIL HEALTH:

TE: In the Memorandum there's nothing from the Commission or Staff in the recommendations about the benefits of leaving leaves where they fall, even though it’s already recommended on sources linked from the City's Tree pages and others.

The Tree Commission will hopefully offer feedback.

 

EXAMPLES / Best Practice in Other Places:

TE: There is mention of the other jurisdictions which have done partial to full bans, but not by name. They clearly have this list. There is no indication how many suffer significant wildfire fallout, though as many are in California certainly some have, and there's an assumption about why most didn't respond. Two have complete bans… who are they?

 

EFFECT ON OTHER USERS OF ROW (street, greenbelt, or another public space):

TE: There's nothing about how use of blowers contributes to the always non-permitted piles of yard waste in bike lanes. At the October meeting of BTSSC we need to pressure them into agreeing to providing an opinion on this, especially as a related item on yard waste in bike lanes has been sitting in the long-range calendar for many months as TBD. This issue has been going on for many years.

Proposed ban during the week is only til 8AM, even though many are commuting to school or work by then, by pedal or foot. So then they will be exposed full-on as they traverse the City.


Comments for the Natural Resources Commission review of DiSC 2022

TrafficThe following comments were shared with the Natural Resources Commission at its meeting last night and are reposted here with permission of the author.

This is Alan Pryor speaking as a former 12-year NRC Commissioner. I think it's telling to review a comment made by a Planning Commissioner at a hearing on this project last year.

"You want this to be the most sustainable, innovative tech campus in the United States. But you have come to us with a car-dominated, auto-centric proposal on the edge of town, far from the capitol corridor station, not linked to good transit, with huge parking lots and parking structures. Widening Mace to accommodate more traffic is not the answer. It's going to induce more traffic."

Nothing has functionally changed with this project since then except its size is been reduced by less than half but the applicant is now proposing transportation features that are even less conducive to non- automotive forms of transportation.

For instance the applicant is now refusing to construct the previously agreed upon off-grade crossing to allow arriving pedestrians and bicyclists to safely cross six lanes of Mace Boulevard during rush-hour traffic. How is that possibly welcoming to bicyclists and pedestrian employees arriving on the west side of the street or to school kids living at the project trying to get to school and back each day without a parent driving them.

Also, the original proposal was an environmental nightmare in that it projected over 83,000,000 lbs of CO2 equivalent emitted each year. The new estimate is about  45,000,000 lbs of CO2 equivalent per year - or about 4.5% of the City's current carbon footprint for this one project alone. All of these emissions would have to be later eliminated for the City to reach carbon neutrality by 2040 but the developer has not proposed how they will do this.

Continue reading "Comments for the Natural Resources Commission review of DiSC 2022" »


Use of American Rescue Plan Funds (ARP) to obtain an Urban Tree Canopy Assessment and Report

Street-treesThe following letter was shared with the Davisite this morning.

Dear City of Davis ARP Subcommittee:

The City of Davis' urban forest is comprised of trees, gardens, green spaces and other natural areas. This urban tree canopy provides a myriad of benefits making our communities cleaner, safer and healthier while reducing the costs associated with many services. Managing, monitoring, and enhancing this important resource is critical to sustained economic development and environmental health.

I am requesting that sufficient ARP funds are dedicated to allow for: (1) A complete analysis of Land Cover and Urban Tree Canopy; (2) Assess an Ecosystem Benefits Analyses, including: air quality, energy, stormwater, and carbon; (3) GIS-based and other tools to model strategic tree canopy development scenarios; and (4) Complete training for Davis Tree Canopy Partners, such as Tree Davis and the Tree Commission, on use of these tools to accomplish management objectives.

Urban Tree Canopy Assessment and Report (UTCAR) would be a onetime use of ARP Funds and benefits all living animals and humans regardless of gender and group stereotypes, including race, age, ethnicity, ability level, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation. An UTCAR would bring data from various studies to evaluate and understand the extent and value of the region’s trees and to provide a benchmark of the urban tree population, land cover, and the value of the current and potential future urban forest.

The data and tools produced will enable planners, managers, and commissioners to develop strategies for community development, air quality enhancement, energy conservation, stormwater management, and community forest management.

The UTCAR would be conducted in a manner that defines and quantifies various environmental and economic benefits of the region’s tree canopy, known as ecosystem services, focusing on air quality, energy use, stormwater, and carbon sequestration.

The dynamic modeling tools developed for this project would allow planners and managers to envision and plan their desired future urban forest. With these tools, users identify and prioritize strategic tree planting areas based on management objectives, and create alternative designs and cost/benefit scenarios at a regional-scale or for specific sites.

Though the City of Davis' urban forest is relatively young, it nonetheless provides substantial benefits that can be quantified, monetized, forecasted and enhanced over time with proper planning and management. To maximize the function and value of the urban forest resource, it is critical to target canopy increases strategically and to educate policymakers and citizens about the benefits of urban tree canopy.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Tracy DeWit


Leeward Renewable Energy, Valley Clean Energy Sign 15-year Solar-Plus-Storage Power Purchase Agreement for Willow Springs 3 Solar Facility

Project to provide 72MW of solar power, 36MW of battery storage for Valley Clean Energy customers

(From press release) Leeward Renewable Energy (Leeward) and Valley Clean Energy (VCE) announced today that they have entered into a 15-year solar-plus-storage Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) involving Leeward’s 72-megawatt (MW) solar and 36 MW (144 megawatt-hour) battery storage Willow Springs 3 facility in Kern County, California.

VCE’s board of directors approved the PPA on October 14. The Willow Springs 3 project will supply enough reliable, clean electricity for approximately 27% of VCE’s 125,000 customers in Yolo County, California, by the end of 2023. The agreement will also support VCE in achieving its goal of having a 100 percent carbon-neutral portfolio by 2030.

As part of the agreement, Leeward will contribute to VCE’s local workforce development and sustainability efforts in Yolo and Kern counties to support local hiring and training.

Continue reading "Leeward Renewable Energy, Valley Clean Energy Sign 15-year Solar-Plus-Storage Power Purchase Agreement for Willow Springs 3 Solar Facility" »


Letter to the Tree Commission re: DiSC 2022

Red leaves
One of Davis's urban trees

To Davis Tree Commission:

In regard to the DISC proposal (Item 6B on your agenda this evening),  I support your subcommittee's recommendations and encourage you to recommend them as a "baseline feature".

Given that the size of the proposal is already known, recommendation of a specific number of trees should be achievable (as it was during the previous iteration of the proposal).

I understand that the developer is proposing to satisfy shade requirements via the use of solar panels or trees. Unfortunately, this type of "choice" will increasingly be used by developers, as we've already seen in regard to Sutter Hospital's expansion. It may be that developers generally prefer solar panels, to help them meet other requirements (and to claim that a given proposal is "green", while simultaneously eliminating "greenery" in regard to trees).

At some point, the city itself will need to come up with a clear policy regarding the use of solar panels vs. trees for given situations. While either can be used in parking lots, trees (unlike solar panels) require soil and space to survive. As such, solar panels are suitable for a wider variety of locations (such as rooftops), while trees are not.

Until/unless the city comes up with a clear policy (supported by the tree commission), I would encourage the tree commission to not be distracted by an "either/or" choice, and simply focus its efforts on recommendations regarding trees and the benefits they provide.

Sincerely,

Ron Oertel


Comments to the Tree Commission concerning DiSC 2022

Screen Shot 2021-10-19 at 9.55.57 AMThe following was emailed to members of the Tree Commission this morning.  The Tree Commission is scheduled to discuss the revised MRIC/ARC/DISC project, now dubbed DiSC 2022, at its meeting this Thursday, Oct 21.  If you wish to comment on the project yourself, see instructions on the agenda for the meeting, located here.

Dear members of the Tree Commission,

I am writing to you as a former commissioner (10+ years) and Chair of the Open Space and Habitat Commission (OSHC), having completed my term last December. I was involved in analyzing what is now being called the DiSC 2022 project in all of its iterations, so I hope you find my comments helpful in your discussions.

I think it's great that you appointed a subcommittee to review all the materials, given that the changes are more extensive than the City has stated – this is not just a project that has been cut in half, as your subcommittee's analysis shows. I endorse your subcommittee's recommendations and encourage you to adopt them as a body in the strongest possible language, remembering that the only way to guarantee that a promised feature will be in the actual project is for it to be designated as a "baseline feature." A cautious route would have you even recommend that the relevant ordinances be satisfied (this was something that the OSHC did last time), since there is a history of the City Council bending its ordinances, including ordinances concerning trees (it is my belief that they did this in the recent Sutter parking lot decision).

Continue reading "Comments to the Tree Commission concerning DiSC 2022" »


Yocha Dehe Joins The Sierra Club, Yolo County Farm Bureau, And Residents, To Demand Sensible Cannabis Land Use Policy

Tribe joins suit calling for changes to flawed Cannabis Land Use Ordinance

(From press release) In an effort to hold Yolo County accountable for developing fair and sound cannabis land use policy, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation has partnered with the Sierra Club, Yolo County Farm Bureau, and local residents in a lawsuit to do precisely that.

The lawsuit does not seek to stop cannabis cultivation and related businesses in Yolo County, or to prevent County residents from profiting from the cannabis industry.  Rather, it would simply require the County to comply with California environmental law by evaluating the full and real impacts of cannabis cultivation, and mitigate those impacts, before adopting an ordinance regulating it.  Adhering to this process is what the California Environmental Quality Act requires, and indeed, these same requirements apply to every other regulated land use.

“The cannabis industry has a place in Yolo County, just as cannabis has a place in the medicine cabinets of many people in California,” noted the Tribal Council of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation. “But sensible cannabis permitting can’t happen until the County is clear-eyed about the problems overconcentration creates, especially in sensitive areas around schools, near cultural heritage sites, and in smaller communities like those in the Capay Valley.”

Continue reading "Yocha Dehe Joins The Sierra Club, Yolo County Farm Bureau, And Residents, To Demand Sensible Cannabis Land Use Policy " »


Report from the Open Space & Habitat meeting re: DiSC 2022

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The following was originally posted as a comment in response to the Davisite article Comments to the Open Space & Habitat Commission concerning DiSC 2022 and has been reposted here as an article with permission of the author.

By Ron O

In regard to the Open Space and Habitat Commission meeting last [Monday] night, here are some highlights:

The recommendation (from the article linked above) to request that the northern (approximately) 100 acres be established as agricultural mitigation was not discussed or considered by the commission. Two commenters reiterated this request. (The 100 acres was part of prior proposals.)

The commissioners proceeded to review and edit the recommendations made when the proposal included the northern portion of the site. The developer representative claimed that many of them no longer applied, since the northern site is not part of the current iteration. As a result, the commissioners edited and deleted large sections of the prior recommendations, on-the-spot.

As the meeting approached 9:00 p.m., the chair suggested that a second meeting be held, given the amount of work left to be done. However, several commission members were not able to attend an additional meeting prior to the October 18th deadline set by the council. The chairperson stated that the council put the commission in a "bad place", and stated that she was "very unhappy" about it. The chair stated that they had received the packet for review on the previous Friday afternoon (for this Monday meeting).

Continue reading "Report from the Open Space & Habitat meeting re: DiSC 2022" »


Comments to the Open Space & Habitat Commission concerning DiSC 2022

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The following was emailed to members of the Open Space and Habitat Commission (OSHC) on Sunday.  The OSHC is scheduled to discuss the revised MRIC/ARC/DISC project, now dubbed DiSC 2022, at its Monday Oct 4 meeting.  If you wish to comment on the project yourself, see instructions on the agenda for the meeting, located here.

Dear members of the Open Space and Habitat Commission,

I am writing to you as a former commissioner (10+ years) and Chair of the OSHC, having completed my term last December. I was involved in analyzing what is now being called the DiSC 2022 project in all of iterations, so I hope you find my comments helpful in your discussions.

To begin, I am pleased to see in the minutes from your last meeting the following: "[Ms. Reynolds] said the Commission also had the option of agendizing the Addendum to the project's Environmental Impact Report ("EIR") later this year if the Commission wanted to provide comments on the Addendum to the EIR. That meeting would have to happen before December when the project is scheduled to go before the Planning Commission, she said." I strongly urge you to do this. The OSHC has a history of productively discussing and giving comments on EIRs, as it did with earlier versions of DISC as well as Nishi and other projects, with the comments thoughtfully crafted from the Commission carrying more weight than comments from individual members. For example, you might wish to ensure that the biological surveys have been properly updated and that greater awareness of approaches to climate change are being taken into account, such as the lost opportunity for regenerative agriculture on the property if the project is built.

Another important piece of background: in the last iteration of the project, the developer kept insisting that Mace 25 was not part of project, even though it clearly was. This led to mistrust in the community. Because of that mistrust, people are now concerned that this smaller project without Mace 25 is just a foot in the door for the already rejected larger project to come later. I urge you to recommend that the developer state, as a sign of good faith, that this is not their intention — designating the ~100 acres to the north of the project as ag mitigation would be the clearest way to do that.

The rest of my remarks will focus on the Staff Report and related attachments, located online here.

Continue reading "Comments to the Open Space & Habitat Commission concerning DiSC 2022" »


Valley Clean Energy Begins Receiving Electricity From Large Central Valley Solar Project

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Installation of solar panels at the Aquamarine Solar Facility in Kings County, CA, 2021

(From press release) Valley Clean Energy (VCE) announced that it is now receiving power from a new solar park located in Kings County, CA. VCE signed a 15-year contract to purchase 50 megawatts (MW) of renewable power with Aquamarine Westside, LLC’s 250MW Solar project. This contract will replace current short-term power contracts, allowing VCE to deliver higher levels of renewable power at competitive prices.

The Aquamarine project is located in CIM Group’s Westlands Solar Park, a master-planned clean energy park with over 2GW of solar production potential.

Continue reading "Valley Clean Energy Begins Receiving Electricity From Large Central Valley Solar Project" »


Letter & motion from Tree Commission concerning Sutter tree cutting

Treecommissionmotion
This motion was approved unanimously at the Tree Commission's August 21, 2021 meeting.

 The following letter was approved by a unanimous motion of the Commission at their September 16, 2021 meeting and sent by staff to the City Council on September 17.  This issue will be in front of the City Council tonight.

From: City of Davis Tree Commission
To: Davis City Council

We are writing to request clarification and revision of the process for approval of tree removals from commercial property.

The resolution creating the Tree Commission (06-187) states that the purpose of the Davis Tree Commission is, "to act in an advisory capacity on tree related matters, including review and approval of tree removal requests."

Three large projects have recently had large numbers of trees removed without input from the Tree Commission. 205 trees in a two-phase project, currently in process (Sutter Hospital expansion & solar addition); 83 trees in a project to replace these trees with PV solar panels (Cousteau Pl.); 103 trees as site preparation for a new development (Bretton Woods).

These requests were never brought before the public or the Tree Commission, prior to being heard by the Planning Commission. They were also not brought before the Natural Resources Commission, or the 2-by-2 subcommittee between the Tree Commission and the Natural Resources Commission that is currently looking at the parking lot portion of the Tree Ordinance and how to maximize both solar arrays and tree canopy.

These three events alone total a loss to the City of 391 mature trees. These trees took one to several decades to reach maturity.

Tree Davis, working with the City of Davis, planted 379 new trees between October 2020 and April 2021. It took a lot of hard work by a lot of people to make that happen during the Pandemic.

Thus, in a year when a record number of trees were planted by the City and the community, the City of Davis has a net loss of trees for the year. It is especially disheartening in a time of Global Warming and in a city that prides itself on its tree canopy - a city that has qualified as a "Tree City USA" for decades. Add to this that the trees in these applications are mature trees, while the replacement trees will be small, and the loss to the community canopy is staggering. The Tree Commission believes strongly that we will not reduce our environmental impact by removing mature, established trees and reducing our tree canopy.

Surely there is a problem with our process when a community member is required to go before the Tree Commission to remove a single tree, but a corporation can remove any number of trees -including trees that were required for the approval of a development - without any Tree Commission or community input.

The Tree Commission respectfully requests that tree removals of twenty Trees, one Landmark Tree, or a project greater than, or equal to, five acres be subject to a similar process as for removals of City Trees. This request is consistent with recommendations made by this Commission regarding the update to the Tree Ordinance. The Tree Commission also respectfully requests that a process for tree removals by property owners be developed that is aligned with the City's goals regarding its urban forest and that the process emphasize transparency, accountability, and community engagement.

With respect,

City of Davis Tree Commission


Part 2 - Déjà Vu – Council and Staff Collude to Limit Review of the DISC 2022 Project by the City's Advisory Commissions...Again!!

Staff's and Council's Current Scheme to Limit Analysis and Input from the Commissions include Artificial, Arbitrary Deadlines Imposed on Citizen Advisory Commissions.

By Alan Pryor

Introduction

Readers will remember one of the primary complaints surrounding DISC 1.0 on the November 2020 ballot as Measure B was that the Commissions were intentionally and systematically excluded from fully participating in the review of the project through scheduling manipulations imposed by City Staff with Council approval. It appears that history is repeating itself which is the subject of this series of articles. Part 1 of the series (see https://www.davisite.org/2021/09/d%C3%A9j%C3%A0-vu-council-and-staff-collude-to-limit-review-of-the-disc-2022-project-by-the-citys-advisory-com.html) discussed the history of City Staff and Council ignoring input by both the Advisory Commissions and the public in many other important City matters.

This Part 2 in the series discusses the recent Council decision that greatly limits Citizen Advisory Commission input and recommendations for Baseline Features for the newly proposed DISC 2022 project now heading for the June 2022 ballot in Davis. The article is a detailed examination of the means by which the City Council and Staff are intending to again limit analysis and input from the Commissions by hamstringing the Commissions' ability to hold multiple meetings to review the DISC 2022 project.

Continue reading "Part 2 - Déjà Vu – Council and Staff Collude to Limit Review of the DISC 2022 Project by the City's Advisory Commissions...Again!!" »


DISC is back… and so is bad process

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Staff and City Council favor developer interests over citizen input

By Roberta Millstein

This past Tuesday (Sept 7), the City Council formally set in motion the process to evaluate the twice-reborn industrial park/hotel complex on prime farmland outside the Mace curve, now dubbed DISC 2022. Readers will recall that this project was handily defeated at the polls less than a year ago. Now it is back again with half the acreage, fewer amenities, and a smaller proportion devoted to revenue-generating commercial uses. 

Also back again is staff acquiescing to the developer's extremely short requested timeline. 

There have been some improvements in process this time around. The project was made a regular agenda item, allowing for greater citizen awareness and discussion, though apparently a number of people were still caught by surprise. And all of the relevant commissions are scheduled to be consulted from the outset, something that citizens had to fight for the last time. 

However, staff's Tuesday proposal was that each commission can only evaluate the project once. Why? The developer wants this on the ballot by June 2022 and staff wants to comply with that, stating there is not enough time for commissions to have more than one meeting concerning the proposal. Why do they want to go along with the developer?  Well, you will have to ask them, but it is certainly not a timeline that favors citizen input, remembering that commissions are intended to be a conduit for citizens to give feedback to the City.

Continue reading "DISC is back… and so is bad process " »


Seeds of Justice lecture and workshop series

(From press release) What is our responsibility as people who live, work, or worship in Davis to the original inhabitants of this land? What is the legacy of environmental racism? How can we heal and repair the harm? These and other critical questions guide a new educational opportunity being offered to the community this fall.

The Episcopal Church of St. Martin will bring a series of lectures and workshops, Seeds of Justice, to Davis to highlight the work of scholars and cultural practitioners in this region - the ancestral homeland of the Patwin-Wintun people.

St. Martin’s developed the Seeds of Justice program to understand the racialized history of the land here in the epicenter of gold, greed and genocide. Through storytelling, discussions and hands-on workshops, participants will study the resistance and resilience of Native Californians to the ongoing social and environmental impacts of settlers in this region.

“We hope this will be a safe, honest and transformative space for our community to grapple with the legacy of injustice to this land and her people,” said Ann Liu, Chair of St. Martin’s Care for God’s Creation Committee. “Everyone is invited to come and learn with an open heart and mind.”

Continue reading "Seeds of Justice lecture and workshop series" »


We need critical thinking from our City Council on climate change

By Mike Corbett

Given an understanding of what’s in the recent IPCC 6th report what would you expect a rational city council to do in response? Humans evolved because of our critical thinking abilities. So if a current city council possessed those abilities what would they be doing right now?

 You would expect them to convene a special meeting so the city could begin taking urgent steps to stop greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere as well as steps to sequester carbon from the atmosphere. They would make it a priority for their staff and commissions to find ways to take immediate steps to accomplish these crucial actions. 

 Since the Davis City Council declared a climate emergency two and a half years ago, little has been done. And as we approach the completion of the current climate action plan (CAP), our City's approach seems to be falling far short of what it should be. The recent survey of our citizens has revealed a very weak City understanding of all our options and what we should be doing today.  We need to employ more critical thinking.

 Critical thinking must first address the ability to find the most important thing or issue to focus on in any given moment or situation, from personal choices to issues within the global realm.  Additionally, critical thinking must start with the work of understanding a problem’s core by analyzing its depth and breadth. That means understanding the full context around the issue (in this case the IPCC report), and that means looking past biases or views that obscure the core of the problem.

Continue reading "We need critical thinking from our City Council on climate change" »


Architect says: Solar need not mean Tree Removal

Solar & Trees, Perfect Together

Solar and TREES - Page_1The following letter was sent to the City Council as well as to the Davisite.

These past few weeks have made it clear to almost everyone that we have a problem on earth. The climate is different, and we are all heating up. Trees help reduce the “island heat effect” in and around cities. When trees are in a parking area the temperature of the parking area is 10 to 20 degrees cooler. They help shade us, our cars and more importantly the pavement so that it does not reflect the heat.

Can solar panels and trees co-exist on the same site? Well, the short answer is yes. Of course, if your house in always in shade and you planned to put the solar panels on your roof you will not get enough power from the solar panels to pay for themselves in a lifetime. However, the standard philosophy that solar panels and trees cannot be placed near each other is nonsense.

Here in Davis we have before us a prime example. Sutter Hospital Phase 2 Project’s consultant proposes removing all the trees in the parking lot so that solar panels can be placed above the parked cars. City Council will be voting on an Appeal by Sutter Hospital from the approved City plan to permit the trees to be removed and NOT relocated as the City had required them to do so in its approval.

Solar and TREES - Page_2However, there is a solution that will save the trees AND provide even more solar panels. The solar panels can span over the driveways in the parking lot thereby allowing the trees to remain on the island median between the parked cars. The trees would be far enough away from the solar panels so as not to shade them. The shade from the trees will still shade some of the cars, and the solar panels will shade some of the cars as well. The accompanying drawing shows where the solar panels can be located, a sketch comparing our recommendation to the Sutter Hospital consultant’s approved plan and a sectional drawing showing the shading of the trees and solar panels on the cars. This recommended plan also protects the solar panels from possible future car fires in the parking spaces.

Hopeful,

Marcus Marino, AIA, NCARB


Statement from the Sierra Club concerning tree cutting at Sutter

Sutter-Davis-treesThe following letter was emailed to the City Council, the Natural Resources Commission, and the Tree Commission this morning

Dear Council members and Commissioners -

The Sierra Club Yolano Group is aware of the current controversy surrounding the placement of solar photovoltaic panels in parking lots at Sutter Hospital. To be clear, the Yolano Group supports both solar electrical generation and trees and realizes that sometimes these interests will conflict and compete with each other with respect to land use.

For instance, we actively supported Yolo County's rapid expansion of ground-based solar PV systems but adamantly opposed their placement at Grasslands Park south of Davis on Mace Boulevard where it displaced a vernal pool and rare and endemic plants. We supported the deployment of wind turbines in southeastern Sutter County but opposed their placement in the Pacific Flyway near Clarksburg where their spinning blades could kill migrating and nesting birds. In each case there were acceptable alternative nearby locations where the alternative energy systems could be placed without adverse environmental impacts.

It appears that such an analysis of alternative placement sites for the PV panels at Sutter Hospital has not been performed and we support such a process to help ensure that the maximum environmental benefits of PV deployment are obtained. We understand that two city commissions are currently looking at this exact same question, the Tree Commission and the Natural Resources Commission, and that such a review will be completed and recommendations issued within just a few months.

The Davis community has numerous alternative energy and tree experts who can provide valuable input into these investigations for a measured deliberation which expertise should be fully utilized. We therefore request the Davis City Council defer final approval of the Sutter Hospital PV project until this Commission review, along with community input, is finalized and their final recommendations are issued.

Respectfully submitted,

Alan Pryor, Chair

Sierra Club Yolano Group


Ill-advised Sutter Should Join Community in Exploring Alternative Locations for Solar Panels

Alternate solar locationsBy Alan Hirsch

The Davis Enterprise and Vanguard have now run five articles on Sutter Hospital’s Tree-to-Solar-Panel proposal to cut its most mature trees and install solar panels in the main parking lots. As noted by these articles, Sutter's proposal has quietly advanced below the radar for the most part.  Phase I was official approved by city staff administratively in 2019 without any public notice, and Phase II was approved without review of Davis Tree Commission or input from Tree Davis. In fact, city staff seem so cavalier about the process it issued a cutting permit for Phase II four month before the solar panels were approved.

Environmentalists do not object to the cutting of any trees per se. We simply request a public hearing and discussion to gather input and ideas from our community, which includes not just arborists but solar panel designers and patients, doctors, and nurses who might view the tradeoffs of trees vs solar panel differently than the engineers who proposed the solar design.

And as the accompanying diagram shows, there are choices. Use of the thirty acres Sutter owns north of the hospital has never been discussed. 

What is confusing is over 90% of proposed tree cutting is unrelated to the expansion of the hospital building; they are related only to replacing tree with solar panels in the parking lot. “Sutter Phase I” from 2019 artificially conjoined two projects: the hospital building expansion (in largely treeless area) and a parking tree-to-solar project. 

Then the new “Phase II” had no hospital constructions, only trees-to-solar.  Phase II is what is under appeal. 

Yet the media and commentary miss this complexity.   The writing about Sutter’s tree to PV proposal, including several letters to the editor and a Channel 13 TV news report, have jumped to the simplistic conclusion this is a binary either/or proposition: trees or solar.  Some letters in the Enterprise have labeled those who want trees even considered “false environmentalists.”  Other misinformed individuals have jumped to the conclusion that the quest to save a few trees will halt the entire physical hospital expansion plans.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Now is the time for the City Council to pause the tree cutting a few weeks to allow a Tree Commission meeting, at a minimum, to discuss the alternatives.  City staff could even put the item on the Tree Commission agenda for August 19th before the Council hearing.  Tree Commission Chair Colin Walsh has expressed a willingness to juggle their busy schedule to speed things along.  This would allow Sutter to move forward in a responsible and sustainable manner.

We believe Sutter medical staff and leadership have been badly advised by its contract engineers, architects, and city staff.  We hope the medical facility and other leaders to join the Davis community in making a request to the City Council to inquire if we can have both solar panels and trees.


Call on City Manager to immediately BAN leaf blowing! RIGHT NOW!

AirNow080620212pm, Davis - The air is now nearly twice as bad as what requires a ban on leaf blowing. The City updates its notification as needed at 730am. This morning the air was good...

Yesterday weather forecasters predicted that the smoke from various fires to the northeast would circle counter-clockwise at high elevations and then slowly descend on the north Bay Area and our area.

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Yolo-Solano AQMD issued an alert in mid-morning.



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This morning the smoke was easy to see, but the AQI was still good here as the smoke had not reached lower elevations. It started to do so in the early morning in Lake County, then soon in Napa and west Yolo.

 

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Late this morning...
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Quite curiously the Airnow distribution of data from the same monitors showed a lower AQI by half two hours ago, and at about 2pm nearly the same, getting close to 200 AQI.on Purple Air...
CleanestAirinDavis
The consistently cleanest part of the area right now - at lower left, just south of West Village, earlier today. This is the location of the City's only official AQI monitoring station. This is what the City uses to determine a leafblowing ban.
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It's been well over 100 AQI for at least two hours, and is the source of the image at the top. So why isn't the City issuing a ban? Click on image to read the City's explanation...

The Council and Staff would be singing us this fine song if we were making this up.... this threat to our health. But surely they realize that is extremely dangerous, a matter of equity, and of health as serious - at least temporarily - as COVID.

It's been nearly a year since the City issued conditions for a temporary ban on leaf blowing. I've asked and have never seen any data on how many warnings or fines were issued. The Natural Resources Commission's poll on leaf blowing only ended at the end of July, and they might not see what the staff has processed until late September, and might not make recommendations until late October, while we're already in the season of falling leaves... and four months into the wildfire fallout season :-(. (Oh, by the way... today is the 76th anniversary of the beginning of the first nuclear war.)

Leafblowersokay


Smoky Days Ahead!?! Leafblowers, Buses and Climate Shelters.

7.27-28_windsI just sent the following to the City Council, relevant Commissions (BTSSC, NRC and SSC), County Supervisors and Yolo Solano Air Quality Management District...

Per Weather.com the winds will shift to the north (and variants) at least part of this Tuesday and Wednesday. The prevailing south winds (from the south) have until now seem to have helped spare Davis and the immediate region (esp. to the west) from wildfire fallout from the huge fires east of Chico.

As the wind may not just shift until late Monday or early Tuesday, I hope that Staff will be prepared to put the leaf blower ban into effect. (Note that most of the combined air region has had Spare the Air days for most or all of last week, if only for ozone)

Davisinbottomleftcorner
Davis is in the lower left corner - https://fire.airnow.gov

Spare the Air means that Unitrans is free. Possible smoke and almost certain heat (esp on Wednesday through Friday) will in my understanding open our "Climate Shelters" at Vets and the Mary Stephens Library. As 14th Street is served by Unitrans buses (1 to 3 lines depending on the time of year and day of the week) it seems like a good and free way for many to get to the Climate Shelters, yes? It seems likely that Climate Shelters disproportionately serve lower income people who have less access to not only modern HVAC but also personal motor vehicles.

Unfortunately the free Unitrans service is in tiny print at best on the Share the Air notices (email or website), and as far as I recall has never been mentioned in the City's notices about the Shelters. All of these programs are happening, but the communication is not joined up, and few know about them

SparetheAir-Unitrans

Beyond this, I don't understand why Yolobus doesn't have free service during Spare the Air days. Do I understand this correctly? Can people in Davis get to Climate Shelters (or anywhere else urgent) during a smoke and/or wildfire fallout event by free public transport, but not anyone else in Yolo County?

Thanks for taking immediate action when necessary.... or preemptively!


Tree Davis Position on Sutter Davis Hospital Tree Removal

Sutter Parking Lot Shade Trees 1
Sutter Parking Lot Shade Trees

A recent article in the Davis Vanguard ("City Will Have to Weigh between Trees and Solar Panels at Sutter as Complaints Reign about Public Process," July 21, 2021) described a variety of issues concerning the Planning Commission’s recent approval to remove 205 trees in association with improvements to the Sutter Davis Hospital campus. Tree Davis appreciates the efforts made by David Greenwald and Alan Hirsch to bring this proposal into the public spotlight. The Tree Davis Board has these thoughts to share.

1) Our tree canopy is under increasing threat from decline due to old age, development, and climate change stressors like drought, wind, and pests. Tree Davis supports increasing measures to protect and preserve healthy trees and to grow our community canopy with climate-ready species. 

2) We recognize that in certain circumstances, retaining healthy trees may not be possible. Full mitigation of lost canopy, through planting either on-or off-site should be accomplished, as per our Tree Ordinance.

3) We support retaining mature tree canopy in parking lots when possible because trees can provide environmental and social benefits that PV arrays cannot, such as heat island mitigation, carbon storage, air pollutant uptake, beauty, stress reduction, and wildlife habitat.

4) Tree Davis believes that the Tree Commission’s charter should be updated to include consultation on individual project proposals because of the expertise they can provide. For example, the proposal to transplant 43 mature trees to another location at Sutter Hospital may sound reasonable, but, the benefits may not offset the costs in the long term. The failed effort in Woodland to transplant historic olive trees along Gibson Rd. is an example.

Greg McPherson
President, Tree Davis Board of Directors