Entries categorized "Ethics"

Local Clergy Comment on Affordable Housing

The owners of the University Mall, the Brixmor Property Group, have applied to the City for permission to demolish the existing shopping center and replace it with a mixed-use project of 264 apartments and 136,000 sq ft ground-floor retail.

We also note that Commissioner Darryl Rutherford has stated that the Commissioners themselves had multiple objections. "I'm a little disappointed in what we're seeing here." He called the proposed affordable housing plan ($600,000 in lieu fees) "an atrocity" and a "slap in the face."

Historically, Davis once had one of the strongest inclusionary housing requirements in the state. That policy intended to create affordable units in every major rental project built in Davis, enabling low-income families to live in Davis, and create the possibility of a robustly diverse community. Many minority households whose members work in Davis are part of the low-income population and these affordable units were often their only entry to living and working in Davis.

However, of the 264 apartments being given permission to be built on the University Mall site in Davis, not one of those 264 units will be set aside as an affordable unit.

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Letter from Davis faith leaders opposing the changes in regulations on seeking asylum in the U.S.

To Whom It May Concern:

As faith leaders in Davis, CA, we strongly oppose the changes in regulations on seeking asylum in the United States being proposed by the Department of Homeland Security and the Executive Office for Immigration Review of the Department of Justice.   These proposals would effectively end our asylum system, block protection for people and families fleeing from persecution, and reverse decades of U.S. and International Law.  The changes would restrict the number of those admitted to the US, apparently on the unfair basis of wealth and status.  Thus, those with the means to fly into the US would not be affected if their flight was non-stop or only had one stop in another country.  However, those who have passed by land through two countries would automatically be barred.

The new proposed rule is long and complicated; however, a few of its new restrictions are particularly disturbing.  It would eliminate gender-based claims for asylum.  Women and LGBTQ asylum seekers would be disproportionately affected by this change. Not only would women be unable to seek asylum based on their experiences of extreme domestic violence, but even women fleeing sex slavery at the hands of terrorist groups could be denied.

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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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Family-Friendly Father’s Day Walk in Davis to Protest Racial Injustice

(From press release) On Sunday, June 21, 2020, Parents of African-American Children - Davis (PAACD) is hosting a family -friendly walk in Davis to honor the victims of racial injustice and police brutality and highlight the importance of talking to children early about race and racial prejudice.

The walk will begin at 9 am at Playfields Park (2500 Research Park Drive) in Davis and continue on the bike path to John Barovetto Park (about 2.6 miles). At 11 am, at John Barovetto Park (4400 Alhambra Drive), the group will stand in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to remember George Floyd and all the victims of police brutality.

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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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Should Davis defund the police?

By David Abramson

The City of Davis Finance and Budget Commission is meeting tonight at 6:30 to discuss proposed budget cuts, including that of the Davis Police Department.

Written comments can be submitted by 4:30 today to FBC@cityofdavis.org or can be given live during the meeting: https://www.cityofdavis.org/city-hall/commissions-and-committees/finance-and-budget-commission/agendas

My guess is this will be on the 6/16 City Council agenda, and further comments will be needed directly to City Council, but the commissions are a good place to start.

See below for the letter I submitted.

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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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We have a problem in Davis

F7403023-8B59-4518-B391-D57E2C32E247By Emily Hill

White people of Davis, this is relevant here, too:

One of the fundamental things wrong with police culture is solidarity with violent colleagues. 

You may have seen the video of police in riot gear pushing over a 75 year old man who started bleeding from the head while the other officers present walked by him, seemingly unconcerned.

Two officers have been suspended and ALL 57 of the city's emergency response team resigned from the team in solidarity with their dangerous coworkers. There have been no consequences for the officers who stood by and did nothing. None of those 57 should be in any position of community authority, let alone with a service weapon.

This is not a problem "over there". This extends to Davis.

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Celebration of Abraham statement on killing of George Floyd

Celebration of Abraham (COA), a Yolo County interfaith organization for over 17 years, is saddened and outraged at the killing of George Floyd and expresses our deepest condolences to his family. We are anguished at the continuous violence black Americans have suffered throughout the history of our county—slavery, Jim Crow, mass incarceration and the senseless killings at the hands of white vigilantes and law enforcement.

We understand that many in the law enforcement community, including the Davis Police Chief, are horrified and speaking out against the systemic racism and militarism in policing.

Celebration of Abraham encourages all to reflect and to take action so such acts of abuse of power are no longer the norm. "Othering," as discussed during one of COA's community conversations, is a divisive force that is among the roots of the problem. As humans, we are programmed to organize information we take from the world into categories. For much of recorded history, humans have used categorical differences to justify fear or power relations between groups. Our religions have within them the capacity to unite us, though there are those who use these traditions to divide us. Our Abrahamic faith traditions tell us to value the other.

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Davis Soroptimists present community grants

Communicare
A baby gets a checkup at a Communicare Health Center. A Soroptimist grant will fund a new postpartum group for moms in need. Courtesy photo.

(From press release) This spring, Soroptimist International of Davis awarded $6,500 in funds to like-minded nonprofits through its annual Community Grants program.

The following organizations received awards:

  • Communicare Health Centers received $2,000, to supply a new postpartum group providing moms and babies with the best start possible through education, community support and health care.
  • Thriving Pink earned $1,500 for educational workshops to support local breast cancer survivors.
  • Yolo Diaper Bank received $1,000 to purchase the supplies needed to wrap and deliver 100,000 diapers over the year to agencies that distribute diapers to families that would otherwise not have enough.
  • Yolo Children’s Fund was awarded $1,000 to meet the needs of girls and teens who are abused or disadvantaged. It funds special projects, needs or educational enrichment that would otherwise go unmet.
  • Short-Term Emergency Aid Committee received $1,000 for legal documents to help individuals get housing, employment and aid, especially women who need to support their children or escape violence.

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Responsibility in the age of Covid-19

County's decision shifts the responsibility from government to individuals

Yolo-dashboard-5-26-2020By Robin Rainwater

I've been contemplating the rapidly shifting landscape in Yolo County heavily this week. Not just Yolo County, but in California as a whole. Over the last several months, the Covid-19 pandemic brings me to my data roots and plagues my change management heart. I've spent time using data to influence healthcare policy and over the last few months, I have immersed myself in the data on many levels. I have been helping people in my community understand the data and data trends so that they can make informed decisions for themselves, their families, and communities. I've felt an increasing need to inform more people as I've watched things beginning to unravel because of the balance between economy and preservation of life. A balance that is precariously tipping in a direction that frightens me.

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Pride Festival canceled; rainbows remain

RainbowUmbrellas2019
Davis Pride Festival attendees huddle under rainbow umbrellas at the May 17, 2019, event. The 2020 festival has been canceled but there are other ways the community can share the spirit during June is Pride month. (Wendy Weitzel/Courtesy photo)

(From press release) In 2019, it poured rain on the May 19 Davis Pride Festival. But something amazing happened when the rainbow umbrellas came out. Community members huddled closer and supported each other.

In 2020, we all can be those umbrellas. While we can’t gather physically, we can huddle virtually to support each other in that same spirit, said Gloria Partida, founder of the Davis Phoenix Coalition.

Members of the Coalition, which organizes Davis Pride, were disappointed the pandemic forced the cancellation of its annual festival, originally scheduled for May 17. However, they are getting creative with June is Pride Month 2020 – celebrating virtually and visually. DPC is discussing ways to observe and interact that still connect us during physical separation.

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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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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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Support the Yolo Food Bank

VCE(From press release) As the COVID-19 pandemic ramps up in the Yolo County region, many of us are wrestling with the hardship of confinement and with other, more tangible, constraints. That’s precisely why it’s more important than ever to be our best selves during these times.

Businesses have closed, countless workers have been laid off, and everyone has been asked to shelter in place. Many who have lost their jobs may not be able to pay rent or buy food for their families.

The Yolo Food Bank — always an important resource in our communities — steps in during these times to provide food for those in need. Food Bank representatives say the number of requests for help is on the rise and is expected to increase dramatically in the coming weeks.

Valley Clean Energy, which is focused on the health and well-being of the communities it serves, has donated $2,500 to the Yolo Food Bank in the hope that others might also contribute during this pandemic.

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