Entries categorized "Environment"

Valley Clean Energy Calls for Support for Local Wildfire Victims

VCEAs wildfires continue to rage throughout California and elsewhere in the West, residents, ranchers and business owners in the greater Winters area are putting their lives back together after seeing their homes and businesses go up in flames.

Valley Clean Energy, the local electric generation service provider, urges locals to join the agency in offering support in the form of donations to the Greater Winters Fire Relief Fund created by the Rotary Club of Winters. VCE contributed $1,500, and so far, nearly $40,000 has been raised toward a goal of $60,000.

Many of the fire victims live outside the Winters city limits and are “our friends, our extended family, business owners, and parents to classmates of our children,” says Winters Councilmember Jesse Loren, a member of the VCE board of directors.

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Leaf blower ban - contact City Council today

By Todd Edelman

City of Davis people... why has there not been a ban on use of leaf blowers in the nearly month-long wildfire fallout event?

Why do feel the need to remove every leaf and bit of dirt from our landscapes?

Why do we allow ourselves to send dust clouds and noise to our neighbors when we might not even know their names?

Why do some falsely portray a ban as an assault on a largely Latino workforce?

WRITE the City Council NOW!

Agenda - September 15, 2020

Item 6 (8:15)
Natural Resources Commission Recommendation on Updating/Strengthening Leaf Blower Ordinance and Request for City Council Direction (Public Works Utilities & Operations Director Stan Gryczko/Management Analyst Adrienne Heinig)


Recommendation:

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Sierra Club Endorses No on Measure B - No on DISC in Davis, CA

Sierra Club endorsedCiting grounds of “excessive traffic, greenhouse gas emissions, and poor land-use and planning”, the Sierra Club announces its opposition to Measure B in Davis CA on the November 2020 municipal ballot.

Measure B is a vote to allow the annexation of approximately 200-acres of Prime farmland on the northeast periphery of the City and the development of a business park along with a 850-unit housing development. The project site is now farmed and serves as foraging habitat for numerous Special Status Species including Burrowing Owls, Swainson’s Hawks, and White-Tailed Kites.

The endorsement of the opposition to this ballot measure follows an extensive evaluation process by the local Sierra Club Yolano Group, the Sierra Club Mother Lode Chapter Political and Executive Committees, and the Sierra Club California Local Measure Review Committee.

The Sierra Club has long-standing official policies designed to minimize urban sprawl onto farmland and habitat and maximize intensive infill development. These include planning policies that further conservation of open space and preservation of natural areas and agricultural lands. The Sierra Club opposes sprawl as a pattern of increasingly inefficient and wasteful land use with devastating environmental and social outcomes.

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No on DISC signs now available

E538AF89-DD67-40D4-AAE5-84E5FE1BBF5EThe No on DISC - No on Measure B campaign announces that its signs are now available, free, for use on your lawn or street facing window. This creative and attractive sign uses humor to point out three major flaws in the project: increased traffic gridlock, increased greenhouse gases, and loss of burrowing owl habitat. 

You can request your sign at https://www.VoteNoOnDISC.com/, where you can also learn more about the problems with this massive business park proposed on prime farmland outside the Mace Curve. You can also donate to support the cause and volunteer to help by writing a letter to the editor or through other means. 

“Like” the campaign on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/VoteNoOnDISC/


University Commons: Will Council grandfather in another Tree Blighted Parking Lot?

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This is a picture of one of the large "successful" trees the landlord planted years ago when the University Commons development first opened. Note the massive scar as a result of neglect of pruning (lower limbs need to be removed so they are not broken off by trucks driving by),  And again rocks placed around the base of the tree that get hot and both stifle growth. Most trees in this lot have rocks any arborist will tell you hurt trees, but maybe the landlord is based in Tucson.   Why does this happen? What is the solution? The City Arborist is stretch thin and has no time to inspect commercial parking lots to assure landlords are caring for trees, so we get to city's 50% shade requirement. This is why we need to require landlords to reimburse the city the cost of hiring an outside arborist to provide tree maintenance oversight. Council required this for the DISC development,  why not University Commons too?

By Alan Hirsch, City Lorax 

This Tuesday, the city council will address details to permit a 7 story dorm proposed for University Commons/Trader Joe's shopping center.

There is debate about it size, height, affordability, type of units in the build.

But there is one fact everyone agrees on:

IF it follows the current city policy it will end up in the middle of an unshaded parking lot full of stunted trees.

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Letter: Endorsing Walsh for Davis City Council

Roberta-with-Colin-signI write to endorse Colin Walsh for Davis City Council District 2. I first met Colin when he was working on the campaign against Nishi 1.0. I was immediately impressed by his passion and dedication. He often worked late into the night and was concerned to get every detail right. Since then we've worked on a number of initiatives together, including the community blog, Davisite.org, which fosters neighborly dialogue in Davis.

Another example: Since last fall when the MRIC Mace curve business park project resurfaced to become ARC and then DISC, Colin has read thousands of pages of documents, attended Council and Commission meetings, asked hard questions, and made thoughtful suggestions, all on his own time as a citizen committed to good process and careful analysis. He raised concerns about the compressed timeline for community engagement and about the inadequate affordable housing proposed by the developers.

His comments to the Open Space and Habitat Commission on the DISC business park were particularly helpful to me as a commissioner. He pointed out that the bat studies at the site were insufficient, an issue that might otherwise have been overlooked, and urged that the Prime farmland at the site weigh heavily in any decision. I also appreciate his work as a member of the Tree Commission, arguing for a greater number of trees in the project (alas, the recommended number was rejected by the developer, but the number was increased somewhat).

So when Colin says that he will solicit community and commission input, you can believe him. When he says he will analyze thoroughly and ask hard questions, you can believe him. When he says he will foster open and transparent government, you can believe him.

Colin is committed to social justice and the environment and would make an outstanding Councilmember. Whether or not you are in his district, you can support him with an endorsement, lawn sign, letter to the editor, or donation. See his website at walsh4davis.com for details. If you are in District 2, please give him your vote.


Roberta Millstein
Chair, Open Space and Habitat Commission
(speaking for myself alone)


Valley Clean Energy donates face masks to RISE Inc.

Mask donation
Angel Barajas, a member of the Valley Clean Energy board of directors, left; and Tessa Tobar, center, program and community engagement specialist for VCE; present some of the 500 washable face masks to Tico Zendejas, executive director of RISE Inc.

(From press release) Valley Clean Energy (VCE), the local electricity provider for Yolo County and the cities of Woodland and Davis, is doing its part to keep local residents safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

VCE purchased 500 high-quality, washable and U.S.-made face masks and donated them to RISE Inc., a nonprofit organization that serves the Latinx community and has organized the delivery of social services to western Yolo County for more than 30 years.

Woodland City Councilman Angel Barajas, a member of the VCE board of directors, said RISE was chosen to receive the gift because it “does an incredible job servicing residents in the rural Yolo County region.”

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Valley Clean Energy makes new hire

R_Boyles(From press release) Valley Clean Energy is pleased to announce the hiring of Rebecca Boyles as its new director of customer care and marketing. In this position, she is responsible for all customer touch points, including outreach, marketing, programs, key accounts and customer policy development.

Boyles joins Valley Clean Energy after spending four years in progressively responsible positions in customer care and billing operations at MCE (formerly Marin Clean Energy). Her additional leadership experience includes chairing the Billing Operations and Customer Care Committee for CalCCA, the statewide community choice energy association, as well as directing social media for the communications team at the Women's Environmental Network.

Prior to working in the utilities sector, Boyles focused on stakeholder engagement at Future 500, a nonprofit that advises Fortune 500 companies on sustainable business practices and community relations.

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Valley Clean Energy - 2 Years Strong

VCE(From press release) During these trying times, it’s more important than ever to take note of the good news that’s worth celebrating.

“Please join us as we mark the anniversary of Valley Clean Energy,” said Don Saylor, chairman of the board of directors of the not-for-profit public agency and a Yolo County supervisor. “We’re two years strong as of June 1, and it’s all because of you, the VCE customers who support us in taking charge of our clean energy future.”

People who suffer from asthma and other lung-related conditions have been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, so cleaning up the air in California has become even more important for everyone.

“That’s just what VCE has been doing these past two years, by offering people cleaner, greener electricity and an option for 100% carbon-free power,” added Dan Carson, VCE’s board vice-chair and a member of the Davis City Council. “And we’ve only just begun.”

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BTSSC's Transportation Baseline Features for ARC/DISC

Sub-Committee will bring draft to full Commission meeting this week

MRICARCDISCfinalProposed Transportation Baseline Features for Davis Innovation Sustainability Campus:

Parking Lots and Internal Streets, Housing, Transportation Demand Management, Site Access and Traffic Mitigation Features and general Mitigation Features

The City of Davis (City) Bicycling, Transportation and Street Safety Commission (BTSSC) met on May 8, 2020 and formed a sub-committee on transportation baseline features for the proposed Davis Innovation Sustainability Campus (DISC; formerly known as the Aggie Research Campus) Project (Project). These draft features will be reviewed with the full BTSSC on June 11, 2020 with any resulting vote submitted to the appropriate city bodies, with a recommendation for the revised features to be included in “Baseline Project Features” submitted for voter approval of the Project pursuant to a Measure R vote. The draft of this sub-committee discussion is below.

Information on the June 11 meeting, including how you can comments, can be found here.

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Not so much “community” in the BrightNight solar deal

47036D8C-C262-42A2-A15A-D4433024F394By Matt Williams


Intentions and goals are only words unless they are accompanied by accomplishments, and when it comes to accomplishments, especially in the realm of renewable power, City Hall is very good at "talking the talk" but not very good at “walking the walk.”

That is a bold statement.  Is it factual?  The answer to that is “Absolutely!” and the evidence of how little actual accomplishment the City has achieved is illuminated by looking at a side-by-side timeline of the City and Yolo County from 2011 to present.

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Volunteers Needed to Keep Davis' Parks and Pike Paths Aesthetically Pleasing and Green and Pesticide-Free

ProdiamineThe following is reprinted with permission of the author.

To: Recreation and Parks Commission

From: Alan Pryor, Member of the Hazardous Material Subcommittee of the Natural Resources Commission (but communicating as a private citizen)

Date: May 6, 2020

Re: Volunteers are Needed to Keep Davis' Parks and Pike Paths Aesthetically Pleasing and Green and Pesticide-Free

Commissioners -

During the very broad discussion on the state of the City's finances at last night's City Council meeting, the tone was very somber as the City discussed a potentially dire revenue shortfall of up to $10M this year with the economy and City income possibly taking 6 – 7 years to fully recover.

City Manager Mike Webb summed up Staff's presentation with the announcement that he has directed all department heads to seriously begin to consider all possible cost cutting measures in their department. Basically, we can expect across the board cuts to all department budgets and the Department of Parks and Recreation will certainly not be exempt from the pain.

This projected revenue shortfall could have immediate and lasting effects the aesthetics of our parks and greenbelts if not mitigated in some fashion. I have spoken to this group in the past on several occasions during public comments and have been an outspoken advocate about the beneficial impact that volunteerism in park maintenance can have on minimizing the effects of Park's maintenance funding shortfalls and elimination of the use of pesticides.

The current negative impacts of the pandemic on City revenues and budget shortages only reinforces the need for the City to broadly engage volunteers in our City to assist with basic park maintenance tasks such as weeding and spreading mulch if we want to maintain our parks without a wholesale return to massive herbicide use. Fortunately, the City Council has recently specifically directed Staff to explore the advantages of the use of public outreach and volunteer labor in park and bike path maintenance.

Let me explain.

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Valley Clean Energy Seeks Local Renewable Contracts

VCE(From press release) Valley Clean Energy has announced that it plans to purchase renewable energy from qualifying local projects. The solicitation, “2020 Local Renewable Request for Offers,” is now public and can be found on VCE’s website at https://valleycleanenergy.org/solicitations-rfps/.

As the name implies, the solicitation is focused on procuring energy produced very close to where it will be used — in Yolo County or the six adjacent counties.

This local request for offers is consistent with VCE board direction and the agency’s vision to pursue procurement of cost-effective local renewable energy. The solicitation also aligns with VCE’s procurement goals, which seek to provide 80 percent renewable energy by 2030, with up to 25 percent of that provided by local resources.

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Responding to Lee-Carson OpEd on BrightNight Solar Deal

Brightnight-greatdealBy Matt Williams

The commentary by Mayor Lee and Councilmember Carson in the Sunday Enterprise really does not address the core concerns that have consistently been raised by the community. In summary, those concerns are that the city used a non-competitive process which resulted in a low-offer and thus left money on the table while failing to go through a full public process that might have identified deficiencies in the offer by BrightNight.

After reading the Lee-Carson OpEd, I (and I'm sure many others) now have one additional major concern ... that it does not appear that the Council Majority has actually listened to the Public Comment voicemails, or actually read the Public Comment e-mails they have received.

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Hop on your bike for fun, exercise and exploration – even now

BikeBasketGroceries
May is a great time to use your bike for essential errands like grocery shopping. (Adobe Stock photo)

May is (still) Bike Month

By Wendy Weitzel

Social distancing might keep us from hosting in-person events, but it doesn’t stop us from getting out for solo bike rides or trips with other members of our household.

Hopping on a bike is a great way to enjoy the spring weather, get some exercise, and feel mentally refreshed. The practice not only relieves stress, it may start a healthy habit worth keeping down the road. And it’s absolutely allowed during the shelter-in-place order, as long as you maintain at least 6 feet physical distance.

Wearing a face covering is not required while engaging in outdoor recreation such as walking, hiking, bicycling or running. However, anyone engaged in such activity must comply with distancing requirements. Everyone should carry a face covering with them, to use if needed.

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Don't Miss Out on your Utility Rate Discount

VCE(From press release) The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on everyone in Yolo County. Some are able to shelter in place, work from home, and continue to receive a paycheck. Others are providing services to others — sometimes at personal risk. Still others have been laid off from their jobs and are having trouble paying for rent, food and utilities.

“If your income has suffered in the past months, we’re urging you to check on your eligibility for a utility rate discount during these trying times,” says Valley Clean Energy board chair Don Saylor, a Yolo County supervisor.

California utilities provides rate discounts to income-qualifying customers. In Yolo County, these programs include the California Alternate Rate for Energy Program (CARE), which provides a discount of 20 percent or more for electricity and natural gas, and the Family Electric Rate Assistance Program (FERA), which provides an 18 percent discount for electricity. Valley Clean Energy and PG&E offer the same special rates.

Local residents whose income has changed significantly due to COVID-19 may now be eligible for these rates, even if they weren’t able to qualify before the pandemic.

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Why Lock Out Our Trees?

The draft Davis Downtown Specific Plan needs to address trees.

Cork oak
Giant cork oak downtown

The mature tree canopy in downtown Davis is an invaluable historic, environmental, and economic asset. It is a legacy we are fortunate to inherit and its future rests in our hands. Ideally, because of our informed stewardship the next generation will inherit a healthier and more extensive tree canopy resource.

The draft Davis Downtown Specific Plan (DDSP) allocates 25 pages of guidance to the design and placement of signage, but nothing to canopy conservation and the integration of new trees into downtown development. We do not believe that this omission reflects the level of value that our city officials, business leaders, and residents place on trees in our commercial area.

Tree Davis has submitted written comments that include these recommendations to bolster the inclusion of trees in the DDSP.

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The ARC SEIR Transportation Impact Analysis is neither adequate nor complete

The following was sent to the Bicycling, Transportation, and Street Safety Commission (BTSSC) and the City as written comment by Matt Williams on April 8, the day before the BTSSC meeting.   The opinions expressed in the public comment are as an individual, and not as a representative of any organization.

First, I would like to thank Sherri Metzger, Ash Feeney, and Fehr and Peers for providing the Excel spreadsheet I requested containing the data from the tables from pages 42 through 161 of the SEIR Appendix F, Volume 2 – Transportation Operations Analysis Technical Appendix.

Second, my deep dive analysis of the intersection data in the spreadsheet produced the following substantial concerns.  At the end of this memo, I provide a Recommendation that I would vote for if I were a member of the BTSSC.

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Did Our City Council Just Agree to the Absolute Worst Deal in the City's History?

Cfe371da68ff6f4005d6e0b94b79fd20By Alan Pryor

Over $121,000,000 may have been left on the table when Council approved a secretive, closed-door no-bid, 54-year land lease option and agreement for a photovoltaic system on 235-acres of City-owned land.

How many miles of Street and Bike Path repairs per year would $121 million pay for? What was Staff and Council thinking ??? 

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Request for Reconsideration of Solar Lease Option Agreement and Term Sheet with BrightNight

Bright-night

The following letter was sent to members of the Davis City Council today.

We respectfully request that the Mayor and Council place an item on tonight’s or a future council meeting agenda to reconsider its approval of Item 9 of the March 24, 2020 Solar Lease decision. In its reconsideration we believe Council should (1) direct staff to research the fiscal, legal and business issues identified in this letter, and (2) pending the results of that research, rescind Council’s approval of the Item 9 resolution to allow the City Manager to execute the Lease Option Agreement and Term Sheet (collectively, the “Agreement”) with BrightNight that will “give the solar energy company an Option to Lease up to 235 acres of city-owned land near the City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant on County Road 28H for a Commercial Solar Farm and Solar Energy Testing Facility.”

Our review of the Agreement to date has uncovered serious concerns which we believe have not been fully considered by the City, and that the resolution and lease, as written, establish a legal arrangement that is harmful and disadvantageous to the City and residents in several respects. We, individually and collectively, stand ready to work with staff to facilitate their research of these issues. We are preparing a detailed document fleshing out each issue, which will be available shortly on request.

In summary, the issues are as follows:

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