Entries categorized "Environment"

Hold your pets! Hold your breath! FIREWORKS are back!

Dog-fireworksAt this Tuesday's City Council meeting, May 10th, at 630pm, less than one month ahead of Celebrate Davis and less two months ahead of the 4th of July, the City Council is planning to authorize pyrotechnic displays at these events.

For the past two years due to COVID and/or wildfire smoke issues, spring and summertime fireworks have been suspended for the most part. Wiith all the other stresses on our families, it's been a literal lifesaver for dozens or more pets typically killed, injured or traumatized by fireworks, and a small measure to keep the air clean as many took their last breaths due to the pandemic. It's likely that wild animals also suffer. Some may also have supported the cancellation in solidarity with communities nearby that burnt in recent years.

We breathed in the smoke from fires in Paradise, so why are we allowing toxic combustibles to be launched into the sky, also as many of us do all we can to help people attacked by larger pyrotechnics in Ukraine?

Sadly, it's claimed that pyrotechnic displays fulfill the Council Goal to "Support an array of festivals and celebrations that will culturally enhance and engage our community [and] promote equity..."

Cultural? Engagement? EQUITY?

We can have fun and safe events that promote community and patriotism without fireworks!

What can we do about it? Many cities around the country have replaced fireworks displays with lazer light shows. The Council - or at least Mayor Partida - and a representative of the Davis Chamber of Commerce - organizer of Celebrate Davis - are aware of this and have engaged with citizens in past years. So it's unclear why this is only on the Consent Calendar, presumably to be passed without comment.

We need to comment immediately, in advance of the Council meeting! By email - before 3pm on Tuesday - to or by calling in starting at noon that day at 530-757-5693 and leaving a message of up to two minutes in length. Please voice your opposition (and why), ask for a light show instead of fireworks, and for the item to be pulled from the Consent Calendar so that it can be discussed.

It may also be useful to contact the Natural Resources Commission which is having a special meeting on Monday at 630pm about the City's climate actions (CAAP), by email to by10am Monday and/or by calling in live at 530-757-5693 as a general comment at the beginning of the meeting, or you can probably relate this issue to climate change and alternatively can call in during public comment for the CAAP item.

Please copy emails to the Davis Chamber of Commerce: and or call them at 530-902-7699 or contact them separately with the same message as above.

City Council links: https://documents.cityofdavis.org/Media/Default/Documents/PDF/CityCouncil/CouncilMeetings/Agendas/2022/2022-05-10/03N-Fireworks-Display-Authorization.pdf + https://documents.cityofdavis.org/Media/Default/Documents/PDF/CityCouncil/CouncilMeetings/Agendas/2022/2022-05-10/City-Council-Agenda-05-10-22.pdf

NRC link: https://documents.cityofdavis.org/Media/CityCouncil/Documents/PDF/CityCouncil/Natural-Resources-Commission/Agendas/20220506/2%20Agenda%20Natural%20Resources%20Commission%20Special%20Meeting%20Agenda%20May%209,%202022.pdf

Davis Chamber of Commerce links: https://www.davischamber.com/celebrate-davis.html + https://www.davischamber.com/

Finally, Nugget Markets is the Title Sponsor of Celebrate Davis. They and other sponsors such as Dignity Health and Kaiser Permanente would probably not want to be associated with a potentially great event that is toxic and worse for families. Contact them, too!


What should Davis's "Resilience Hub" be?

The City Council approved spending of American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds at its most recent meeting, including $400,000 for "climate resilience hub/climate action needs." This being the only money they allocated related to climate change, it seems especially important to think about what such a hub might look like. Below are relevant documents from the City's Utility Commission.

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From: Resilience Subcommi1ee
To: Utilities Commission
Re: More definitive vision of Resilience Hub Date: October 20, 2021

The Resilience Subcommittee offers the following ideas and questions to the Utilities Commission to help formulate a vision of how a Resilience Hub could be beneficial to Davis and the specific qualities we would like to have in a Davis Resilience Hub.

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Resilience is the ability of people and communities to anticipate, accommodate and positively adapt to and thrive amidst changing climate conditions and emergency events.

Resilience Hub is a local facility to enhance community resilience by providing reliable essential services when emergency events occur and other community benefits under normal conditions. A resilience hub typically:

Continue reading "What should Davis's "Resilience Hub" be?" »


Unitrans Turns 54

Campus and City Bus System Celebrating 54 Years in the Community

54thAnniversaryFlyer00001 54thAnniversaryFlyer00002(From press release) ASUCD Unitrans, the City of Davis and UC Davis local bus service, is turning 54 on Friday, March 4! To celebrate, Unitrans is running one of our vintage London double decker buses on a special, free campus to downtown lunch shuttle from 11 AM to 1 PM. In addition, Unitrans will host refreshments and giveaway items outside at the Memorial Union Bus Terminal from 11 AM to 1 PM. At noon, to celebrate our community's transit legacy, all three functioning vintage London double decker buses and two new modern double deckers will "parade" through downtown on 2nd and 3rd Streets from the Memorial Union Bus Terminal. The vintage buses have not been in service since March 2020 and Unitrans has used the last two years to refurbish and repaint the buses. Unitrans hopes to reintroduce the vintage buses into limited service in spring 2022.

https://unitrans.ucdavis.edu/news/2022-02-22/unitrans-turns-54-celebrate-with-us-on-friday-marc/


Four Car Washes Near 80 & Mace?

Car wash center sign
Poorly-Photoshop'd modification of "Davis Auto Center" sign on Chiles next to I-80

I have been engaged for a couple of weeks on the subject of the proposed car wash at 480 Mace (at Cowell Blvd.), and have written about it.

I am not sure when the following items appeared on the City's website, but I see now that there's also a plan for a "new service station, a convenience store and carwash, a separate retail building, and related site improvements" at 4810 Chiles AND to "maintain the existing carwash [and] construct a new 2,832 square-foot convenience store" and implement related features at 4480 Chiles, which already has a car wash.

My concerns are:

1) The public notification and project documents for the 480 Mace proposal make no mention of the simultaneous process for 4810 Chiles, for which Mr Njoku says he's aiming a hearing on March 23, 2022, though I believe Sherri Metzger said at the PC meeting tonight that this was not guaranteed - nor for 4480 Chiles, which Mr Lee says will have a hearing "soon". This is two weeks after the re-scheduled Planning Commission hearing for 480 Mace. What's the CEQA comments deadline for 4810 Chiles? The sum of this seems to be that perhaps a week before the re-rescheduled Planning Commission hearing on 480 Mace, the residents of 4735 Cowell Blvd who received the 500 ft notice that proposed car wash will receive another for the second car wash at 4810 Chiles, as will other commercial addresses within the 500 ft radius BUT significantly also the Ellington Apartments, which have their main entrance on El Cemonte, and a small shared border with 4810 Chiles. Is the 4810 Chiles applicant going to be making the same mistake as 480's in regards to a lack of outreach. (The letter about the requested continuance from the 480 Mace applicant which was shown at the PC meeting tonight thanked Staff for circulating the announcement and mentioned they were doing similar on NextDoor. Nothing else.

Car wash plan mapOn the left the two existing car washes; on the right two proposed.
Note that proposed ones are directly adjacent.

2) The Traffic Studies for 480 Mace and 4810 Chiles make no mention of each other. I had already written about my concerns for the overlap for design and signalling changes for 480 Mace proposed mitigations and the Mace Re-Design non-approved plans, and this makes me even more curious.

3) The Traffic Study for 4810 Chiles seems to show egress from NB Mace, but it's not clear if it's open, one-way etc. The Study mentions no mitigations for it.

4) The available documents for 4810 Chiles include maps which marginally at best show El Macero Village and Ellington as "Apartments", not e.g. perhaps 500 people or more within 500 ft.

5) The documentation for 480 refers to the proposed buildings having visual elements similar to those nearby, but this is not inclusive of what's proposed for 4810 Chiles, which looks objectively remarkably different (and subjectively incredibly generic and ugly.)

Circle K
Proposal for 4810 Chiles... yeah, ugh...

6) I understand the current zoning, the district plan already referred to by Staff as "out of date", but don't see how it makes sense to have a total of four car washes in close proximity to each other (three mentioned and the one behind the Chevron station at Mace and 2nd St.) and why it's been encourage or allowed to be pursued. Given the very close timing of 480 Mace and 4810 Chiles including the lack of time and effort for community input for 480 Mace, it also seems like a race. Perhaps the Planning Commission won't approve them but what if it does, because...

7) Two of the proposed car washes are so close that their vacuums - or loud stereos played by customers - may be able to be heard by visitors to the other location, and more critically by the apartment complex that lies partially directly in between them, El Macero Village Apartments, where I live, except during the times that the sound of I-80 is louder, but then this all has at least a subjective cumulative effect.

8) Fehr & Peers has done the Traffic Studies for both 480 Mace and 4810 Chiles, and also the design plans for the Mace Re-Design. For the former two they are working for the applicants and for the latter for the City (and County?). It's not clear if their work for the City for the Re-Design of Mace has been used for 480 - or also 4810 Chiles - but it seems so as in the Study for 480 they suggest mitigations for areas - namely, the intersection of Mace and Cowell - for which they've also proposed concrete design modifications at the direction of the City. Is this all perfectly normal?


Not the Road to Not Waste Water

Poor Outreach, Questionable Process, Certain Traffic Risk, Likely Noise, Unlikely to Meet Shading Goals, Possible Toxic Micro-particulates... Do Plans to Recycle Water Make this Car Wash Acceptable?

 

Wide view of proposed car wash
Curious visualization provided by the applicant: Less than 50% shading of non-planted areas, with some trees not appropriate for Davis, no dirty or clean cars... and one person riding a bike on the sidewalk.

 

The Planning Commission is holding a hearing scheduled for March 9, 2022 on the proposed Express Car wash at 480 Mace (at Cowell Blvd), and on this date it will presumably vote on recommendations for the project, which will be brought to the Council at an unspecified later date. See the above link for information about a community meeting on February 24 -- The public comment period ends today.

In my view there have been mistakes in outreach and process, and there are likely multiple negative impacts - mostly due to traffic and noise - of the proposed business at THIS location, only some which have been addressed - or mentioned at all - in the available documentation.

A significant amount of the documentation is on the subject of how the facility will re-cycle water. It's not clear why the self-identified eco-friendly City of Davis doesn't already require this of all similar facilities, nor why the project applicant was not encouraged to - or on their own - partner with one of the existing facilities less than a few minutes away - to allow an update for water-saving and the newer-style hybrid full- and self-serve car wash proposed for this site.

I've made a list of issues below to make this easier to digest, and for me to focus upon! Perhaps only some of these things bother you, perhaps some you've not considered....

I live at the other side of the apartment complex next door and have no financial interest whatsoever in this location nor this type of business.

 

Communication, Outreach, Process

+ Their documents from December promised "community outreach", yet they didn't organize it until after people complained following an article in the Davis Enterprise and a public notice sent out in early February to addresses within 500 ft of the proposed project site.

+ They did no outreach to the Pioneer Elementary School community until one was scheduled due to community pressure. It's not clear how this community has been notified about the sole meeting.

+ They've done no specific outreach to residents especially on the west side of El Macero Village next door, where at least six units are in line of sight to and close to 14 industrial vacuums that will start to be used seven days a week, and from 7AM to 7PM in the summer.

 

NooutreachMOD
A promise but nothing except under pressure - From the City of Davis website, and on there from last year (if you knew where to look) and in advance of the setting of the date hearing in the Planning Commission.

+ This was not brought to the Bicycling, Transportation and Street Safety Commission, which actually looked at the Mace Re-Design a week after the public notice about this was sent out.

+ It was not brought to the Natural Resources Commission, which would make sense to me due to its noise and even potentially positive water impacts, assuming people stop using another facility or don't wash their vehicle at home.

+ It was not brought before the Tree Commission. Though there's little being done to remove existing trees, developers do obligations for a certain amt of tree cover within a certain number of years.

 

NotconnectedwithMaceMessMOD
On February 7, 2022 Planning Staff told me " Mace Corridor Project is a separate process. This project is not directly related and will not conflict with Mace Boulevard modifications. I assume you are familiar with what is happening and know about the Feb 10 BTSSC meeting when they are scheduled to discuss the corridor.

 

Traffic Risks

+ The Traffic Study suggests mitigations within the geographical scope of the Mace Re-Design project, with a final design the Council will vote on in March, before they've had a hearing on the proposed car wash.The proposed mitigations affect the same built features and signalization equipment. Is the intention that Planning Commission will recommend changes that the Council will decide in the scope of the Mace Project, before they decide again on the same elements at the car wash hearing?

+ The Traffic Study makes no mention of the driveway of El Macero Village, which is perhaps less than 50 feet from the proposed Cowell Blvd driveway for the car wash.

+ The Study proposes multiple mitigations for traffic impacts including a left turn pocket into the car wash from EB Cowell, which is in the footprint of the current EB driving path into the El Macero Village driveway.

 

TrafficMOD1
Paths used related to the project if there are no physical modifications that prevent movements. RED is motor vehicle movements, Blue is people riding bicycles, Green is people walking. Note that movements to and from the area at the right (east), El Macero Village, were not part of the Traffic Study.

 

 

+ The Study proposes mitigations solved by staff guiding customers, signage and some hard features (which physically-restrict turn movements, etc), u-turn allowances and so, all at an already busy intersection along a Safe Route to School for children from west of Mace who attend Pioneer ES, and including a bus stop for two NB Unitrans lines. Though there seems to be significant storage space inside for vehicles to queue waiting for a wash, an overflow will go into Mace, just north of the bus stop, and along a Class II bicycle facility.

+ A local tree expert has already spoken in Council that he doubts the tree coverage plans, e.g. the visuals show shading on areas besides concrete, when only the concrete, asphalt etc counts.

NoSetBackNoTreeCover
Heat Island? Facing South towards Cowell Blvd.

 

+ My research has shown that the industrial vacuums typically used for self-service at car washes don't have HEPA filters. It's not clear if micro-particulates from vehicle cleaning will affect nearby areas, e.g. the apartments nearby. This issue is not mentioned in the project documentation.

+ Planning Department Staff told me that the South Davis Specific Plan is "out of date" yet "not formally rescinded". The links he sent me were from 1987 and earlier. Though a car wash is allowed, lots of other things are also allowed. See here,

NoSetBackDetail
Out of Code? The Davis Municipal Code requires a 25 ft set back, but in the plan - the dotted area is the eastern limit of the property - the residential district is about 15 ft from the structure. See http://qcode.us/codes/davis/view.php?topic=40-40_16-40_16_050&frames=on

+ El Macero Village, next door, is very close to I-80. Units have modernized windows, but it's very noisy it they're open. People living nearby already have this burden to deal with. There's no car wash in Davis which has multiple self-service vacuum cleaner stations located so close to so many residences, and open so early AND late. (The only roughly comparable site is Cable Car, but it opens an hour or two later and closes an hour or two earlier, depending on the season. It doesn't have 14 vacuum units, let alone 21 in total like the proposed car wash.)

+ In many places in California it's not legal to wash a vehicle in front of one's house, and in Davis only  due to the drought do we have the minimal required mitigation of a nozzle on every hose. I recall using a car wash in San Francisco in the 1990's, and pretty sure that at the time all car washes had to recycle water. Why is "Eco-Davis" so far behind in this aspect?

+ Presumably the applicant has a business case, and this "pencils out" for them and any investors. But is this accessing an untapped market (people that never wash their cars or do it at home) or will it serve people who currently use facilities elsewhere in town or nearby? If the latter, is it helping reduce lines and waits at these places, or just taking business away? Has there been a detailed study on this? It's great to have a car wash that recycles water - and I have a car, too, which I like to keep clean - but this location simply presents too many challenges and risks in noise and traffic safety and environmental degradation.

IMG_20220214_141807(1)
This is a view from the entrance area at the second story apartments to the east of the project. The applicant produced no visualizations from this point of view. The proposed wall of seven feet in height will be just a little taller than the bushes next to the fence. It's likely that some of the vacuum bays will be in view of the apartment windows, which are closer and have a different angle than this view.



I always prefer a locally-owned business when I have the choice. It's not relevant to me if they're
successful immigrants and new to the region or country or have been in town for a long time, and that's not something that the Planning Commission should find particularly relevant.

 

Zoning (and more about process...)

The area has changed a lot since 1987, it's way more built up, and Mace is now seen by many tens of thousands of people as a legit bypass of I-80, and it's not clear what the Re-Re-design will change. The proposed site is immediately next to a residential site - and from what I see the proposed set back is too short, it's about 15 ft from a structure on the east side of the lot to the residential property line - and we know a lot more about negatives of sound then we did decades ago, though the applicant says it will be just at legal limits at peaks (stereos of customers mentioned in a discussion on NextDoor were not taken into account). So just the fact that this is an industrial site right next to a residential one makes it somewhat unique, and of course wealthy people in town and City Council members don't live next door, and on top of that, the aforementioned specific conditions tell me that a lot more communication from the City and from the applicant should have been done, rather a single meeting scheduled only after people wrote the City with comments.

Perhaps it needs to be re-zoned. The world has changed since the early 1980's when zoning was sorted out for this location. Possibly for housing. New housing could have considerable mitigation for noise, with special windows, building materials and dense greenery Without any parking, which would just be a waste of space, and expensive to build underground, and to make up for not building it higher than 35 ft. The lot is roughly half the size of the lot next door, which has over 100 two and three-bedroom apartments, but also considerable space used for parking, green space and recreation areas. So perhaps up to 50 one to three bdrm apartments with a central atrium.

 

In Conclusion...

Formal problems such as an improperly limited traffic study, the over-lapping approval situation with the Mace Re-design, an apparently not enthusiastic position on community outreach, especially to most relevant elementary school, the unclear outcome of the Mace project (besides the formal overlap) and sensitivity of the area, perhaps newly realized, due to the shooting incident and collision in the past couple of weeks, tells me that we should all thank the applicant for trying to make a better car wash and create a few well-paying jobs with good insurance benefits, but to do it in another location -- perhaps working with one of the current car washes not so far away to convert it to this more modern type.

 


The Sierra Club Sues Yolo County to Demand Sensible Environmental Safeguards in Open Pit Aggregate Mining

The Sierra Club joins a lawsuit with a local citizens' group, Yolo Land and Water Defense, calling for changes in flawed Yolo County aggregate mining regulations and for appropriate further protection of lands and waters adversely affected by existing mining practices.

Sierra-club-yolano

(From press release) The Sierra Club has partnered with local residents in a lawsuit filed today to hold Yolo County accountable for environmental protection and restoration of farmland while continuing to develop sound open pit aggregate mining policy.

The lawsuit does not seek to stop aggregate mining in Yolo County. Rather, it will simply require the County to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act ("CEQA") before allowing Teichert Inc. to develop a new 320-acre mine on prime farmland adjacent to Cache Creek and several miles west of Woodland.

This would require the County to fully disclose and evaluate the real adverse environmental impacts of open pit aggregate mining as currently allowed by the County and to commit to mitigation strategies to reduce those impacts. Adhering to this process is what the law requires, and indeed, these same requirements apply to every other regulated land use in the County and State.

Continue reading "The Sierra Club Sues Yolo County to Demand Sensible Environmental Safeguards in Open Pit Aggregate Mining " »


Local Mom and Climate Activist Juliette Beck Considers Run for Yolo County Supervisor

BeckJuliette Beck, a lifelong social and environmental justice advocate, mother and caregiver, filed over 200 signatures on Wednesday with the Yolo County Elections office to stand as a candidate for District 2 County Supervisor.

“I am testing the waters to see if there is community support for a strong progressive, woman candidate and climate champion in Davis and Winters,” said Beck.

Beck moved to Davis with her husband Nick Buxton in 2008 when she was pregnant with their first daughter to be close to her sister and brother-in-law who had moved to Davis a few years earlier. She loves Davis and is grateful to the community for nurturing their young family over the last thirteen years.

Beck has been an active parent volunteer at Cesar Chavez Elementary and a strong advocate of outdoor learning during the COVID pandemic. Over the years, she has enjoyed coaching soccer, biking as a way of life, working in the school gardens, supporting the local youth climate strike movement, and raising her family including her two daughters and energetic dog, an “Aussiedor,”  Luna.

“I want to thank the dozen volunteers that pitched in to collect over 200 petition signatures in less than a week. Juggling family, work and personal well-being is not easy during the ongoing pandemic, but clearly people are concerned about climate change and want to help do all we can to make a difference to our children’s future,” said Beck.

Continue reading "Local Mom and Climate Activist Juliette Beck Considers Run for Yolo County Supervisor" »


Bike Parking is Complicated?

YoloBypassDRAFT
 
Using a battery-powered common angle grinder, Darell Dickey works with the Davis Police Department to cut locks from abandoned bikes found in the city. He knows first hand that the soft metal of the Lightning Bolt racks is often easier to cut than the locks themselves. ROAM's creators claim that the lock takes 2500% more time to cut than a - presumably typical - U-lock. If ROAM eventually provides full coverage in Davis and UC Davis - note that there is no plan to equip racks on private property - and people really want a bike, won't they simply take a predictably short amount of time to cut the city racks?  (Inset photo from ROAM brochure attacked to Staff Report. Right hand photo taken in Davis in Fall 2017.)

 

Tomorrow on UC Davis campus and at the monthly meeting of the Bicycling, Transportation and Street Safety Commission (BTSSC) a new shared public bicycle lock will be introduced, followed by pilots and local research...

I'VE not seen the lock in use and the presentation doesn't contains imagery that's clearly actual photography - and not the much more helpful video - but for now have comments and questions for the lock developers, City and UCD partners....

  • The BTSSC and other complementary bodies have not created a new strategy for bicycle security, have not asked to do so, and have not been asked to do so.
  • City of Davis Staff are implementing new programs using City property without Council approval.
  • The locking system seems over-complicated, dependent on smart phones, Cloud-connectivity and electrical power supply (both on the locks and system servers) to function properly, or at all.
  • It’s not clear that the City and UC Davis c
    Roam1
    From ROAM's brochure, attached to the Staff Report
    ampus will end up having the same program, or if one body might accept it and the other not. (Despite the reality of the City-Campus Mobility District, transportation engineering and planning, organization and promotional activities and infrastructure standards of the City and Campus are mostly formally separate aside from cooperation on, for example, Unitrans and the Reimagine Russell visioning project. There's a plan to allow shared e-scooters on campus but not in the city -- a big mistake in user-friendly transportation policy.)
  • The promises of resistance to defeat and plans for distribution seem exaggerated, and it’s possible that the City would have to pay for it despite being instrumental in development of a commercial product. If the project goes forward, its users in Davis should not have to pay for the system though user fees, or indirectly. The City is looking into this, but it's not clear if the ROAM creators will take responsibility for it, or other sources will be sought.
  • The system does not work with non-Lightning Bolt (LB) racks (unless there’s a variant for other modern types).
  • Aside from the system used on UCD campus, it’s only for racks on City property, this leaves out a tremendous number of LB-equipped parking spaces, many of which present significant opportunity for theft due to lack of supervision or supplemental security (e.g. bicycle rooms). It’s important to note all of these properties are in fact semi-public and still required to observe local regulations for bicycle storage.
  • It’s not clear if the system will actually be available on semi-public property. In some cases this will mean that ROAM-equipped and non-equipped racks will be in close proximity. This seems to be a direct contradiction of the “everyone” claims of the concept’s authors.
  • If the system IS available for use on semi-public property but only via opt-in, i.e. by choice of the property’s managers or owners, it may further widen the gulf between the haves and have nots in bicycle parking in Davis, as there are a significant number of (improvised) parking spaces at commercial properties and residences which have no racks, LB or otherwise. This is in direct contradiction of the authors' claimed benefits and violates equity principles for Davis as lower quality bicycle-parking is likely over-represented at more modest rental properties (This would be solved starting with a truly-equitable policy of the City, initiated by the Council and discussed and prepared for actualization by recommendation of relevant Commissions, e.g. the BTSSC and Social Services.) There's also no explicit mention of DJUSD properties - i.e. users such as students at primary and secondary schools, even as a future goal (yes, inclusive of the magic "everyone"). Bicycle theft on these campuses is a huge problem that the administration is not solving. The theft of  a bicycle can be traumatic for people in this age group, especially if their family has difficulty replacing it. Why isn't this community involved at the first stage? Isn't there considerable value in the user experience of a younger person who might have difficulty with some over-complicated systems?
  • City Staff promised new bicycle parking regulations as long as two years ago, but nothing has come of it (only the registration program which is mostly the work of an outside entity, and ROAM). Five years ago, the City initiated a plan to improve bicycle parking at Davis Depot, and eventually added longer lockers, which fit the long-tail type of cargo bicycle. Five years ago the City declined to pursue acquiring facilities that would accommodate larger cargo bikes or bikes with  trailers for Davis Depot. Prior to the pandemic there were some ideas about adding over-sized bicycle parking in the one of the under-utilized buildings at the Depot, but nothing's come of it.

 

273615950_1541649452881847_7777620194860680555_n
There's secure parking for this vehicle at the train station... (Image: Urban Cycling Institute on Facebook)
Bike-Europe-Pon-Takesover-Urban-Arrow-1024x695
... but not this one (Image: Urban Arrow)

The Bike Lock design:

What makes it take “25 times” more time to breach than…. what? A cable lock, a top-of-the-line U lock? My chain and lock combo takes at least 3 to 4 minutes to cut in the field with an angle grinder  – ROAM takes 90 minutes?

It’s “Cloud Connected”: What happens when it can’t connect for any number of reasons, as other systems can’t sometimes? Does it become unusable?

Right now the “Lightning Bolt” locks take less time to cut than the more expensive hardened locks. The main reason it’s not happened a lot is likely due to the psychological disincentive of damaging city or university property, as opposed to personal property. Will existing racks be modified to be more resistant to quick cutting?

Presumably the alarm sound comes from a small hole etc that’s also protected from water intrusion – have their been tests to seal this without setting off the alarm?

If the QR code on the lock is damaged how can the user disable the lock?

If the user loses their phone or its battery is dead, how the can the user disable the lock?

How many regular bicycle users don’t have mobile phones?

Is there a way for people who don’t have mobile phones to use the system?

What supplies the power to the locks? A separate battery on each holding piece that requires a swap for a recharged battery? How often does it need to be recharged?

Have there been tests where a unit’s alarm and lights were activated in the present of people not connected with the project? If so, what was their reaction?

All the visuals in the attached promotional brochure are visualizations - no photos. Presumably some exist as they are being introduced BEFORE the BTSSC meeting and before its members formally-reviewed it. 

*****

I went through the entire staff report and interleaved comments and questions. It's long and it's here.

 


Toward a Fossil Free UCD

Fossil free UCD

UC Davis, long recognized as a leader in environmental sustainability, is taking a bold first step to confront the sizable carbon emissions that result from its own daily operations and contribute to the climate crisis. The campus has officially announced that it is drawing up concrete plans to electrify both of its campuses with the goal to eliminate the use of fossil fuels.

In October 2020, an informal group of UCD students, faculty, staff, and alumni met with Chancellor Gary May and other campus officials to press for a commitment to go fossil-fuel free, eventually resulting in the creation of a new Campus Advisory Committee on Sustainability. Branding itself Fossil Free UCD, the group met with Chancellor May again in December 2021 and presented a petition signed by over 1300 UCD affiliates, including more than 260 faculty, 795 students, and 135 alumni. The petition called for the Chancellor and other UC Davis leaders to commit to ending the use of fossil fuels as a source of energy for UCD’s campuses by 2030, and to develop a plan for doing so in 2022. 

 As members of this group, we are motivated by three ideas: 1) the urgency of acting now to try to avert the worst local and global consequences of global heating, including wildfires, extreme rainfall, extreme heat, hurricanes, drought, flooding, sea level rise, damaged ecosystems, species extinction, and changed disease vectors, 2) UCD’s core missions of education, research, and service to local and global communities and its longstanding commitment to environmental sustainability, and 3) UCD’s power and obligation to lead and inspire others to decarbonize rapidly.  Other universities are also taking steps to eliminate fossil fuels in this way, including Stanford, Oberlin, and Ball State.

Continue reading "Toward a Fossil Free UCD" »


Why is DiSC back?

Note: The following comments made at the City Council's Feb 1, 2022 meeting.  The City Council, as expected, decided to proceed with putting the project on the ballot for voters to decide.

DISC overview shot

By Roberta Millstein

DiSC is back. But why is it back? Is it any better than the project that voters rejected just a little over a year ago?

It has no new features. Indeed, the developer initially deleted a bunch of features from the proposal and, after pushback from the Planning Commission and others, has now added some of them back in. But at best that only restores the status quo to the previously rejected project.

It is a reduced project, but half of huge is still huge. It’s the size of one Cannery instead of the size of two Canneries.

It’s still a freeway-oriented and car-oriented project that will massively impact traffic on Mace Blvd, I-80, and adjacent Mace Ranch surface streets. As a consequence, the greenhouse gases from the project will shred the City’s already weak carbon neutrality commitment. Nothing the developers can do on site can change that, since most of the climate change impact would be from commuters to and from the site. Vague promises of possible transportation improvements don’t change this climate killer either.

Continue reading "Why is DiSC back?" »


DiSC 2022: Same Old Choices

Im-with-herBy Larry D. Guenther

On Tuesday, the City Council will decide whether or not to put DiSC 2022 on the ballot again. DiSC 2022 is a new version of the project on the outside of the Mace Curve that was voted down in its last iteration. It is now about half the size of the previous project. One of the Council’s goals is economic development. Another of the Council’s goals is Carbon Neutrality by 2040. In our current development paradigm, these goals are contradictory. That’s because our current development paradigm is centered around the automobile and commuting workers.

Approximately three quarters of our community’s total Green House Gas Emissions (GHG’s) come from transportation (78% projected for DiSC) - and the lion's share of that is single-occupancy vehicles; i.e. commuters. Hence the problem. DiSC is designed for commuters - it is designed in the current paradigm. The EIR for the DiSC project says that this project alone will increase the City’s total GHG’s by 4%. The EIR also states that this project will not allow the City to reach its carbon neutrality goal. These are not statements from opponents, this is from the project’s EIR.

There is scientific consensus that if the average global temperature increases by 1.5°C, our environment (that is to say, ‘we’) will suffer extreme and irreversible negative consequences. There is also scientific consensus that the average global temperature has already increased by 1°C. Additionally global GHG’s - the primary cause of increased temperatures - are still rising. This project would continue that trend.

Continue reading "DiSC 2022: Same Old Choices" »


Seven California Community Power Members Contract for 69 Megawatts of Long Duration Energy Storage

Project marks first major procurement milestone for CCA Joint Powers Agency

Participating CCAs
Participating CCAs

(From press release) At the January 19 California Community Power (CC Power) board meeting, members of the Joint Powers Agency voted to enter into an energy storage service agreement with REV Renewables for 69 megawatts (MW)/552 megawatt hours (MWh) of long-duration energy storage.

The REV Renewables Tumbleweed project will be a CAISO grid-connected, lithium-ion battery storage resource located near Rosamond, in Kern County, California, with an expected online date of 2026.

“Long-duration energy storage is a vital resource, needed to amplify the value of renewable power and accelerate California’s shift to a clean, reliable and affordable grid,” said Girish Balachandran, California Community Power board chair and Silicon Valley Clean Energy CEO. “This first project is an exciting milestone that shows how CCAs work together to advance our shared goals in the transition to a carbon-free grid.”

The California Public Utilities Commission Mid-Term Reliability Procurement order (Decision 21-06-035) requires all CPUC-jurisdictional load-serving entities, including CC Power members, to procure from energy storage facilities capable of discharging for a minimum of eight hours. This project satisfies approximately 55% of the long-duration storage compliance requirements of the participating members.

Continue reading "Seven California Community Power Members Contract for 69 Megawatts of Long Duration Energy Storage " »


Leaf blowing is also a habitat and a labor issue!

GettyImages_1036532218-1-1536x1029
https://funnyordie.com/2020/09/25/108532/leaf-blowers-are-the-work-of-the-devil/

 

Progress is progress, but perhaps lost in the progress to reduce the harm caused by leaf blowers to creatures large and small - with university degrees, naked, multi-legged or winged - is the need to make sure that changes in practice don't interfere with the ability of property maintenance workers to make a living and to improve their work environment, wages and skill sets... all while improving nature in our corner of the Universe.

This evening the City Council will take the long-awaited next step to study the use of leaf blowers in Davis. The agenda item should start on or after 7:20pm.

First of all I appreciate the findings of the Natural Resources Commission, though I wish their recommendation was for an earlier complete phase out than 2024. A major fault, however, is that the recommendations do not apply to commercial areas. The problem seems obvious: Pollution caused by gas blowers or stirred up by electric blowers affects adjacent properties - which may be residential, part of the proposed eventual ban - and really everywhere because of, you know, air.

Another way to look at it is that we currently ban leaf blowing when AQI reaches 1oo if that threshold is crossed by just before 7AM - and then there's no decision for a ban for another 24 hours no matter how many firestorms spring out of hell during the interval - based on an air monitor that's outside of the City, just south of West Village. But then it's okay for your commercial neighbor to blow 20 feet from your open window with your asthmatic child.

That doesn't make sense and it's perhaps I am not explaining it clearly... but I make no apologies: The proposal, though an improvement on the current state of things, is too complicated and therefore hard to enforce. By the way, commercial properties are also the residences of numerous animals who simply happen not to be human.

 

Yards are Habitat!

Leaf blowing makes yard clearance of what's perceived as waste far too easy. This kills habitat for creatures small and larger ones that eat them.It depletes trees of food. It makes it easy to put yard waste in the street, including bike lanes, even though the latter is not allowed. This threatens children on bikes. Leaf blowing is dangerous for children and other living things. It's been city guidance for years to let leaves degrade where they fall, or alternatively compost them on site. (Clean those concrete paths with a broom and a rake, very clever!)

The choice is simple: Phase out all use of all leaf blowers, allow leaf vacuums IF they don't also pollute, and ban gas-powered equipment. Do this all as soon as possible.

There's also a recommendation from the Recreation and Parks Commission based on their perspective which is that gas blowers work better than electric blowers so there needs to be more money for lots of batteries and such like -- but the way I see it is like this: In relation to air quality and the state of living environment in the city, the NRC has clear priority over Rec and Parks. It's a mistake to consider them equal - or equally relevant - Commissions on this issue.

 

It's time to bring a labor angle into this, friends!

There's more Commission missions about the emissions missing from these missives: About labor. All these guys - mostly guys - disproportionately Latino - who need jobs, jobs that are good for them, get better and give them more in healthy challenges and pay.

The leaf blowing survey results in the staff report and Commission recommendations detail the nuances of companies and how they work and what tools they use. It's not really explained why some use manual tools and some use electric - aside from the AQI-based bans. But to make things simple let's say that banning the use of blowers increases the amount of work needed, and expenses. With a deep ecological perspective it's simple to say that the people that benefit most from this - owners of properties - are simply entitled. The leaf blowing solution is artificial. 

It's not pleasant work. We need to humanize it. The goals here likely to keep the same number of people employed and to increase wages, while we improve the environment. It has to be this. We can't settle for less.

Our aim must be to improve the skill sets of workers, by having them care in a more nuanced way for yards... to plant, to collect acorns, to add habitat for bees... to build boxes and other structures for on-site composting.

We don't have a labor commission, but we do have a Social Services Commission. Perhaps also Utilities or Fiance and Budget have a role to play? Overall - and clearly - this is an equity issue and it can't be solved only through input from Natural Resources and Parks and Rec. But to be clear, it's up to the workers themselves to decide what they want.

The Council needs to go forward on the best recommendations made so far but then send this work back to these additional commissions and the citizens for more input and wisdom. We have a tremendous number of experts in related disciplines at UC Davis who will want to help. We have labor experts in the county and region who have to help.  It's not simply a matter of copying best practice from other progressive cities, but improving upon it!


Letter from DISC developers to Davis Automobile Association

AutoCenter
It took some digging but I found a key letter from the DISC developers to the City of Davis Association of Private Motor Vehicle Sellers and Suppliers:

Dear CDAPMVSS,

Following are what we plan on the primary characteristics of DISC in regards to your organization’s mission:

1 – Most of the day a connection by private automobile to Downtown Davis, UC Davis and West Sacramento will be extremely convenient and fast.

2 – A private automobile will be required to conveniently and quickly travel to Pioneer Elementary, Nugget (on Mace) and surrounding stores, and of course to the Davis Auto Mall (identifiable by its bicycle logo from I-80).

3 – Travel by cycling and walking to Harper Junior High and Korematsu Elementary will be significant until a crossing guard is killed and two students are injured at the intersection of Alhambra and Mace. In response we plan to place small posters at bus stops in the area to direct drivers to slow down. We were going to pretend to compromise and pretend to return to our spoken-only agreement the construction of a grade-separated crossing of Mace but in the end the Council didn’t ask for it.

4 – Travel by automobile to schools outside of east Davis will be the majority mode, especially to Davis High School, and drivers will threaten students crossing E. Covell to get to Birch Lane Elementary, crossing F and 14th to get to North Davis Elementary and the high school.

5 – The TDM plan will determine that carshare is not interesting for nearly all residents who have opted to rent a parking place near their home.

6 – Caltrans has confirmed that they have no interest in assisting in building a safe and dedicated bicycle and pedestrian facility across I-80 in the vicinity of Mace, similar to their same position on the I-80 Managed Lanes project.

7 – Some residents will ride cargo bikes to Target and surrounding shops until a user is killed at the corner of Mace and 2nd.

8 – The Chevron station at Mace and 2nd will gain business.

9 – Mode share of the fare-free shuttle to Davis Depot and Downtown will be insignificant due to duration and inability to match fluctuating schedule of Capitol Corridor trains due to problems outside of their control, such as shipping traffic on the Carquinez Strait that requires bridge interruption.

Thanks, the DISC development team.


No DiSC Baseline Features to Reduce Traffic and Related GHG Emissions will Produce even Greater Adverse Environmental Impacts than Those Projected in the EIR

The following email was sent to the Planning Commission this afternoon.

Dear Planning Commissioners:

Firstly, I sincerely apologize for the late hour at which these these comments are delivered to you.

I understand you have received a letter yesterday from Roberta Millstein discussing how the Baseline Features have been throttled back at DiSC 2022 relative to DISC 1.0. However, her communication only discussed the Baseline Features which were originally proposed for DISC 1.0 and then materially weakened or removed entirely in DiSC 2022.

There were a number of other important recommended Baseline Features proposed by various Commissions which never saw the light of day in either DISC 1.0 OR DiSC 2022. This communication focuses only on those unaccepted Baseline Features recommended by the Natural Resources Commission that could have profoundly beneficial impacts in terms of reducing expected traffic problems and reducing GHG emissions otherwise associated the project

According to the EIR, transportation represents 78% of the 55 million lbs of new GHGs projected to be produced by the DiSC project. In fulfilling their project review objectives, among many worthwhile suggestions, the NRC in particular recommended 3 very clearly identified Baseline Features for the project to reduce adverse traffic impacts and associated GHG emissions from the project. All were rejected by the Developer of the project.

We recommend that the approvals for this project not be granted until the Developer has agreed to the NRC-recommended Baseline Features identified below.

Respectfully submitted,

Alan Pryor

Continue reading "No DiSC Baseline Features to Reduce Traffic and Related GHG Emissions will Produce even Greater Adverse Environmental Impacts than Those Projected in the EIR" »


Dramatic reduction in Baseline Features in DiSC 2022

Screen Shot 2022-01-11 at 9.10.17 PM
The following email was sent to the Planning Commission in the evening of Jan 11, 2022.  (The agenda for the meeting can be found here):

Dear members of the Planning Commission,

I am writing concerning item 6A of your meeting tomorrow (Jan 12), the public hearing on the DiSC 2022 project.

As you may recall, for a project that will be facing a Measure J/R/D vote, the Baseline Features (BFs) are key.  The BFs are the only features that are guaranteed parts of the project.  In contrast, any features that are part of the Development Agreement can be changed by the City Council.  So, in terms of what the project is, and what the voters will be voting on, it is extremely important to know what the BFs are.

As it turns out, a number of BFs have changed or been eliminated in the change from the old DISC (rejected by voters in Nov 2020) and the current DiSC 2022 proposal.  Here is my count:

  • 19 BFs essentially unchanged
  • 2 features enhanced
  • 5 BFs changes due to reduction in the size of project (e.g, less housing)
  • 7 BFs that offer a weaker version of feature unrelated to changes in project size
  • 13 features eliminated altogether (appeared in old DISC but not in DiSC 2022).

Of course, whether these changes are important or not is for you and others to determine, but some of them are arguably important.  Indeed, there are changed or eliminated features in each of the main categories, reducing the sustainability, housing, transit, etc., features of the project.

I urge you as Planning Commissioners to query the developer about all of these changes in order to determine if they are justified.

Attached please find a spreadsheet that shows these changes.

The BFs for old DISC can be found online in the following document: http://documents.cityofdavis.org/Media/CommunityDevelopment/Documents/PDF/CDD/Aggie%20Research%20Campus/20-111%20-%20DISC%20Project%20Ballot%20Measure.pdf

Sincerely,

Roberta Millstein
Davis citizen
Former chair, Open Space & Habitat Commission

**** Download Baseline feature comparison *****


Sign the Petition: PRESS PAUSE on the Teichert Shifler Mining and Reclamation Project

This is a summary of our longer Petition that can be found and signed at https://chng.it/fJWfym9Gx6

We are Yolo residents concerned about the potential adverse impacts of the Teichert Shifler Mining and Reclamation Project. On Tuesday, 11 January at 1:00 pm the Yolo Board of Supervisors will discuss and vote on the application. We urge the Supervisors to vote NO.

Here we emphasize Risk of Water Contamination, Loss of Prime Farmland, and Liability.

Continue reading "Sign the Petition: PRESS PAUSE on the Teichert Shifler Mining and Reclamation Project " »


Mercury Contamination in Cache Creek: We Need More Answers

By Charles B. Salocks, PhD

 Teichert Construction is applying for a Yolo County permit to mine gravel on more than 250 acres of land in lower Cache Creek west of Woodland that is now being used for agriculture.

This proposal is problematic because the Cache Creek watershed naturally contains substantial deposits of mercury ore. It includes a US EPA Superfund site, Sulphur Bank Mercury Mine, located at the east end of Clear Lake.

According to the Environmental Impact Report (EIR), at the end of 30 years the mined property will be reclaimed: approximately two-thirds of the land area will be converted back to agricultural use and one-third will become a permanent water impoundment (or ‘pond’) and turned over to the County. The property will not be restored to its original state, at least not in the foreseeable future.  

A toxic compound called methylmercury is produced by certain types of bacteria that live in water and sediment where the concentration of dissolved oxygen is very low. This condition can occur at the bottom of ponds or lakes, such as the reclaimed water impoundments in lower Cache Creek where open pit mining has already occurred.

Continue reading "Mercury Contamination in Cache Creek: We Need More Answers" »


Restoring the Roots of Life in a New Era

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

 

By Nancy Price and Don Price

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Valley Clean Energy Hires New Program and Community Engagement Analyst

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

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

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

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

Continue reading "Valley Clean Energy Hires New Program and Community Engagement Analyst " »