Entries categorized "Health"

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!


DISC 2022 Transportation - Planning Commission falls for Developer's Trick

TrapBacThe trap was set likely shortly after "DISC  2020" was defeated by voters.  When the developers of this peripheral sprawl - or I'll be nice and call it West West Sacramento - were planning to re-introduce it last year for a vote this year - they realized that a key demand was a grade-separated crossing of Mace. So they removed it from the Baseline Features... fully-intending to agree to do it as a concession.

Back story

The City Council-approved Street Standards (2016) don't mention e-bikes at all. What this means is that the width, curvature, and proper siting of infrastructure that would optimize the use of e-bikes - in particular the Type 3 variant that has assistance up to 28 mph - is totally missing in Davis, or more immediately in concepts, plans as well as development agreements and baseline features in current and near-future projects.

To address this, over two-and-a-half years ago when I was on the Bicycling, Transportation and Street Commission (BTSSC) I got support for adding an item to the long range calendar which would address it; this first appeared on the LRC in September 2019, with a possible date of December 2019 for the agenda. (It is abbreviated somewhat erroneously as "intersection design guidelines / standards"). It has been pushed back repeatedly since then, and the BTSSC did not support forming a sub-committee about it during 2020.

What this means is that significant concepts and projects which could alleviate transportation problems, such as Reimagine Russell, the new-ish Class I multi-user path on the south side of Russell (chronically and clinically-referred to as a "bike path) or smaller projects all over the city are not future-proofed for the increase of modal share for cycling we desperately need to improve everything from climate impacts to conviviality to fitness to transportation crashes. Our city is simply too large now in size to have a significant modal share with "acoustic" bicycles. Not convinced? Look at the low bike modal share from peripheral areas of town in the UCD Campus Travel Survey, which shows low share even for people with campus destinations where car parking is not always convenient, and not fare-free. It's not hard to extrapolate - necessary, as the City has essentially refused to do its own counts for years - that almost no one regularly rides from Mace Ranch or some other peripheral areas to Downtown for a coffee or beer - sort of the most normal thing in the Universe in a bicycle-branded cycling city.

SurveyCycling
UCD Campus Travel Survey 2019-2020 (pg. 30) - By bike, DISC is just over four miles from ARC, a central point on campus when considering agricultural facilities. This distance has about a 10% modal share for cycling, and includes mostly students, many who don't have their own cars.



However, as we can see from the example above, the faster type of e-bikes are quite expensive. I've seen nothing lower than just over $3,000. Though important - or all - major arteries in Davis - should be optimized for this type of bike - the idea is not only to optimize for them but make safe for all users, including on acoustic bikes - it cannot mean that this type of bike should be essentially required to live here and enjoy the purported high quality of life. Infrastructure optimized for fast bikes is also a significant improvement for all bikes, as it's direct, requires a minimum of stops, is not shared with motor vehicles... or pedestrians and dogs.

To be more precise, the goal should be the 15-Minute City. This is a relatively new standard or classification of a very, very old sometimes organic strategy to make key locations in a city within 15 min from anywhere else, for all means of transportation. This seems to also serve as a kind of proof of the bicycle modal share results in the Campus Travel Survey. It's definitely something that should be part of our new General Plan, or even worked on earlier by a joint Commission process (BTSSC, Planning... perhaps Natural Resources and Social Services...). I would argue that it should also be about effort, so a 5 or perhaps 7-minute walk is the equivalent of a 15 min bike ride. I've said that if kids can't walk unaccompanied 5-minutes from where they live to buy ice cream cones, it's a failure (and that's just one example, a single ice cream place or a truck at DISC doesn't make it sustainable.)

It's also quite important to be reminded that the City of Davis has for over four years not had a senior civil engineer with a transportation focus. Many projects have gone forward - sometimes to completion, often with significant flaws - without the benefit of this experienced and wise counsel.

 

Last Night

At the Planning Commission review of Disc 2022 last night - and early this morning - I was actually quite impressed by the comments from multiple Commissioners regarding negative transportation issues of the planned project, and even the general discussion about its unavoidable impacts and uncertainly of benefits from transportation demand management... well, at least earlier in the discussion. Commissioner Shandy was particularly right on with her criticism of planned widening of Mace - presented by the developer as a kind of unquestioned religious observance - contradicts claimed benefits for people cycling and walking. There were other positive and thoughtful comments by a majority of Commissioners.

I knew that the grade-separated crossing of Mace was a kind of sneakily-hidden prize and tried to point out in my sort of sloppy recorded comment that that a safer crossing of Mace would not on its own make DISC 2020 excellent for cycling (this is better than "cycle-friendly"), because of distance from Downtown and places further west, and besides that, safe crossings directly to the south along Mace across 80 would cost many millions and be very complicated (and at least in my head I know that Caltrans District 3 and the Yolo County Transportation District have withdrawn the earlier plan - it was supposed to be built first! - of a new bike and ped bridge across the Bypass as part of the I-80 Managed Lanes Project.)

Screenshot from 2022-01-13 02-14-21
Just an aside about the bandied about "globally-known sustainability of Davis": This was the air quality last night shortly after the meeting was over (via Purple Air)

 

 

The Trap is Sprung

Though it was fully-intended to be a positive thing and I will give credit to Commissioner Shandy, the discussion and lead-up to a vote turned sour when she proposed that a grade-separated crossing of Mace and a Class I trail across the undeveloped land south of Harper Junior High would make her feel better about the planned Mace widening and other traffic impacts. She suggested nothing about safe cycling and walking connections to other places, such as the Nugget and popular restaurants across 80. But the problem is that, for example, the area planned for housing at DISC 2022, on the north and eastern side of the project area, is more than 15 minutes away by bike from Downtown and at leat 20 to 25 minutes away from the UC Davis campus that is the raison d'être for DISC 2022! Moreover, the route has almost no optimized cycling infrastructure the whole way (varied from local streets to arteries, no protected bike paths, lack of priority at stops, etc... there is no proposal for any of this in any proposed development agreement or baseline features). But mainly it's too far by bike... never mind walking! Most of the time people - with free or with un-bundled parking - will take I-80 between campus and DISC, even more so to many facilities etc on the west side of campus related to agriculture. I-80 is such a fantastic route much of the day that nothing can compete with it, including shuttles and express buses, which I am sure will at best have a tiny modal share.  This creates huge challenges for any development more than 15 min away from key locations, and it means simply that they should not even be considered. (Oh, wouldn't it have been great if staff were directed to work on the General Plan and told the developers that there was no capacity to work on stuff that would very likely be in violation of a progressive outcome for it?)

So the Planning Commission has recommended the two elements mentioned above that are supposed to address problems on Mace to the City Council. My conclusion is that the developers will signal their intention to accept them - perhaps with a little drama - and the Council will praise them for doing so. But again, even with everything promised (e.g. shuttles, TDM) and not promised (e.g. e-bike-optimized infrastructure) there's still no place for DISC. Still no way to successfully do something better than I-80 via private vehicle for anything but a minority. There's really nowhere to walk to from DISC. Hopefully the voters will see through this ruse and others and reject DISC 2020.

Galadrieltempted
In the ALTERNATIVE timeline, Lady Galadriel was tempted by but in the end did not succumb to the Power of the Grade-Separation ring

 

Denethor
In the REAL timeline, Lord Denethor, Steward of Gondor, was consumed by the Grade Separation Ring and driven mad.

 

 

Question

Last night I was quite surprised when the developer said with much conviction that baseline features were not necessary to enforce the creation of certain designs and programs at DISC 2022, as these would be required by CEQA. Then why have baseline features as a solution for any of these things, in all the discussion for years up until now? If a reader could enlighten me I would truly appreciate it.

Afterword

I am all for more housing - for all income levels, but with a significant proportion below market and lower income - and workplace and related development in Davis. I have never said I was against these things in any local discussions, for example in the Davis Vanguard. But they have to be infill, they have to be on greyfields such as parking lots, industrial areas along 5th St - not only the PG&E yard - and in the eastern side of South Davis and other areas much closer to Downtown and especially for what DISC 2022 purports to be about much closer also to campus. With electric shuttles on fixed routes, optimized cycling infrastructure, a new connection across 80 around L St., mixed-use above (existing) parking lots and so on many if not close to all of the actual benefits of a project like DISC 2022 can be realized. It's not impossible, it's not rocket science, it simply requires conviction, creativity and less b.s. and false claims about sustainability. Hopefully Council, Commissions... local media... and organizations such as Bike Davis and Cool Davis re-direct the citizenry towards an alternative to DISC or a truly sustainable version of it... closer to and integrated with the City of Davis and the UC Davis campus.


Russell Sprouts Little Imagination

ReimagineInvertedDoes imagination require or at least benefit by transparency and a truly robust public process?

For a year or so the City of Davis, UC Davis and Yolo County have been working with the private consultancy Toole Design and the public to "Reimagine Russell Boulevard".  City of Davis staff plan to update the City Council at this Tuesday's Council meeting.

Following are comments I made on the survey which was planned to close on November 12th but is open as of this moment...

My comments are split into two parts: First I focus on the process, next on the design. Process, today. Design, tomorrow (or Tuesday morning).

*****

1 - The project inexplicably has two websites, one for "administrative" reasons. There's never been an explanation for this.

2 - On the admin. website there is a list of representatives of some sort from the city, the Community Steering Committee.  Two of them told me that they were not happy that it was only a sounding board and not really official - and there's no way specific way indicated to reach them. Additionally I was informed by a Committee member that they were not provided access to raw data from the first survey earlier this year. My impression is that the City learnt its lesson from the Downtown Plan process and decided to formally reduce democracy in the project. If no one visits the admin. website they won't even know about these people. At the very least the budget of nearly half a million dollars (!) didn't allow the consultants and so on to do more than a few public sessions over a year's time.

Continue reading "Russell Sprouts Little Imagination" »


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

Screenshot from 2021-08-19 17-42-32
The militarization of gardening?

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

(COVID is Part I)

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

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

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

The meeting is at 6:30pm

 

AirNow08062021
Leaf blowing prohibited on this day?...

AIR QUALITY and wildfire fallout:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LEAF-BLOWING, WILDFIRE SMOKE AND COVID-19

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


AIR QUALITY, general:

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

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

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

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

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

Tahoe08222021
Purple Tahoe

 

LABOR:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

LABOR AND PHASE-IN:

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

 

Screenshot from 2021-07-24 05-43-02
Purple Nation

VIBRATION (Sound):

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

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

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

 

OTHER:

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

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

 

CULTURE: 

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

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

 

EFFECT ON TREE AND SOIL HEALTH:

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

The Tree Commission will hopefully offer feedback.

 

EXAMPLES / Best Practice in Other Places:

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

 

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

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

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


Farmers market vendors, staff resolve to mask up

DFMVaccinatedSigns
The Davis Farmers Market Alliance board passed a resolution on Sept. 20 that all staff and vendors will wear masks at the markets. All of its staff and more than 90 percent of its vendors are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. (Wendy Weitzel/Courtesy photos)

(From press release) In its continued commitment to public safety, the Davis Farmers Market Alliance board adopted an emergency protocol on Sept. 20, requiring its staff and vendors to wear masks.

The Davis Farmers Market is doing its part to keep a ‘Healthy Davis Together,’ ” said Randii MacNear, executive director of the market. “Come visit us and be extra safe – with our open-air shopping and 100% masked sellers and employees!”

The emergency protocol was part of a resolution from the nonprofit’s board of directors, noting that “despite the outdoor nature of the farmers markets run by DFMA, and despite compliance with all local, state and federal rules, the markets can be crowded spaces.”

The resolution continued, “in furtherance of its commitment to public safety and out of respect for its 44 years of community support, the DFMA Board of Directors wishes to implement COVID prevention protocols that are stricter than applicable local, state and federal rules.”

Although the market is outdoors, in a setting where masks are not required, most vendors and shoppers already wore them. The temporary rule does not require shoppers to wear masks. The protocol is in effect Sept. 22 through at least Dec. 12. The board plans to review the rule by early December, and consider whether to extend it.

Year-round, rain or shine, the Davis Farmers Market is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays in Central Park, 301 C St. Wednesday hours are 3 to 7 p.m. through October, then closing at 6 p.m. November through March. Special holiday markets are Wednesday, Nov. 24, noon to 6 p.m.; and Fridays, Dec. 24 and 31, 8 a.m. to noon. It will be closed Dec. 25 and Jan. 1. For more information, visit https//davisfarmersmarket.org or visit it on Facebook or Instagram.


Letter & motion from Tree Commission concerning Sutter tree cutting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With respect,

City of Davis Tree Commission


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

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

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

YSAQMDwarning08062021
Yolo-Solano AQMD issued an alert in mid-morning.



DavisAir8620211015am
This morning the smoke was easy to see, but the AQI was still good here as the smoke had not reached lower elevations. It started to do so in the early morning in Lake County, then soon in Napa and west Yolo.

 

DavisAir8620211125am
Late this morning...
AirnowBryant0806202111am
Quite curiously the Airnow distribution of data from the same monitors showed a lower AQI by half two hours ago, and at about 2pm nearly the same, getting close to 200 AQI.on Purple Air...
CleanestAirinDavis
The consistently cleanest part of the area right now - at lower left, just south of West Village, earlier today. This is the location of the City's only official AQI monitoring station. This is what the City uses to determine a leafblowing ban.
Archerleafblowing2
It's been well over 100 AQI for at least two hours, and is the source of the image at the top. So why isn't the City issuing a ban? Click on image to read the City's explanation...

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

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

Leafblowersokay


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SparetheAir-Unitrans

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

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


WWJTD?

How to take back some control in the COVID era

IMG_0530
Your author, walking the walk

By Roberta Millstein

With COVID cases re-surging in California and locally as a result of the highly transmissible “delta variant”, it is hard not to feel powerless.  Maybe you got vaccinated (I hope so – if not, please do).  Maybe you are still wearing a mask when indoors in public places (I hope so – if not, please do – Yolo County is now recommending it).

And yet, we sit here and watch the numbers rise yet again, the product of yet again opening too soon even as the voices of many epidemiologists told us not to.  Our political leaders bowed to public pressure and who suffers?  Well, everyone, individuals and businesses alike.  We’ve taken the shortsighted route and with numbers trending up again we’re headed back to the bad scenarios we thought we left behind.

What can we do?  I ask myself, WWJTD?  That is, What Would John Troidl Do?  In these times I am especially missing the wise guidance of John Troidl.

IMG_0515I don’t know for certain what he would say, but as he did so many times while he was still alive, I expect he would urge us to get tested regularly.  Yes, even if you’ve been vaccinated.  Being vaccinated dramatically reduces your chances of contracting COVID, but it doesn’t eliminate the possibility entirely, and I don’t think it eliminates the possibility of transmitting the virus, either.

Continue reading "WWJTD?" »


Vague lanes solving regional pains?

Davis80
Not the Caltrans project! This is the author's concept for a bypass to and from the Bypass.

On July 1st Davis Vanguard covered the announcement of Federal funding of 86 million dollars for the Yolo-80 Managed Lanes project.

I appreciate most the comments of Alan Miller, Alan Pryor and Richard McCann. I hope I can add something below.

The MTC area gets a lot of income from its bridges, and uses it for public transportation. Consider that Davis and SACOG-area drivers pay into this when driving south to San Jose, west to Oakland and San Francisco, and so on, but people from those areas make no similar contribution our region – really, the east side of the Northern California Megaregion – when traveling to Davis or Sac or of course towards Lake Tahoe.

Caltrans dropped the long-promised new bike-ped bridge across the Bypass, replaced by some improvements on the west side of the Bypass. Combined with new infrastructure such as separated lanes and a lot of shade trees in West Sac,  the  whole corridor could be optimized for faster e-bikes and provide a good alternative for many, especially in east and the east part of South Davis. But… nope! Or so it seems.

The graphics in the Caltrans presentation on the Yolo 80 Corridor planned for the BTSSC meeting this Thursday show only buses in the managed lanes, which is not what’s really planned for the managed lanes. Nasty! The managed lanes are mostly in added lanes, and if these lanes are available for private vehicles off-peak, for a premium, or free for a carpool then induced demand happens - see also Alan Pryor's comment in the Vanguard article - and we eventually lose.

It’s also not clear how this project interfaces with the 80-Richards project.

It’s not clear how much congestion there will be during the long construction period.

It’s not clear if any general re-paving will decrease noise (new technology makes this possible).

It’s probably unlikely that Caltrans will support a discount on Capitol Corridor during the construction period.

But yeah, rail. What’s up with the future Capitol Corridor improvements? How does this project related to our impending new General Plan? My favorite idea is to build a highway bypass south of town and then put the railway below grade so that it also no long splits the City in two (in retrospect, it would probably have been better to not build anything south of the 80-rail corridor). Anyway, all the new space roughly in the center of Davis could be the location of a lot of new dense, mixed-use development which could facilitate low-vehicle ownership or at least use, as it would eventually be convenient to UCD and Downtown by bike, to both Sacramento and especially the Railyards, and to points to the west by rail. It would also be much quieter in parts of the City with this sort of ring-road solution. In general terms it would complement my concept for building above 113 roughly between Russell and Covell. I've also proposed a noise-mitigation and solar-generation project for the I-80 corridor through Davis.

Related to this whole thing and that next to last point, over three years ago when I was on the BTSSC I initiated a sub-committee on 80 and related. It never went anywhere and was dissolved as the other Commissioner who joined it moved to Sacramento and no one else on the Commission wanted to pursue this... route. Sigh. Please demand that BTSSC members ask some hard questions this Thursday!

 
 

15 mph DESIGN SPEED in Davis!

SD15
 
My strong feeling is that all local streets - including Downtown - should have a 15 mph design speed. This is already a number most are familiar with, as it's used alongside e.g. speed tables on school routes and even the sharp turn from 2nd St to L St.

The design speed is a speed that most people feel comfortable moving at in motor vehicles. People on bikes can also feel a design speed, but they are nearly infinitely more inherently safe than motor vehicles to others in the public ROW. 15 is also a bit faster than most cycling speeds.Traveling by bike on most greenbelt paths in Davis at 15 mph feels too fast - the paths are under-built - and perhaps the biggest design flaw in post 1970's Davis, sadly and ironically complemented by the clinically-insane wideness of many streets in West Davis, Mace Ranch and South Davis... but also much older streets in Old North, etc.
 
Does it seem slow? Perhaps. However, consider that for most journeys by motor vehicle a relatively short distance is on local streets. So any journey lengthening will be minimal.
 
Or can it even be shorter? Yes! 15 mph speed design is best complemented by elimination of existing mandatory stops; to be replaced by yields. It's these often unnecessary stops that lengthen journey time the most. Getting rid of them also decreases pollution (gas, particles and noise) and makes people less likely to feel the need to speed to the next stop sign.
 
So it can be both safer and faster!

Continue reading "15 mph DESIGN SPEED in Davis!" »


Remembering John Troidl

John TroidlIt is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of John Joseph Troidl.  The Davis Enterprise has the story here.  As regular readers of the Davisite know, John was a passionate defender of public health, whether it was proper protocols and practices for COVID-19 or poor air quality at the Nishi site.  His postings to the Davisite can be viewed here

John had a PhD in public health as well as an MBA, and he also taught public health at several universities.  He was an advocate for Health in All Policies and wanted Davis to adopt it.  He was never afraid to fight the good fight and stand up for what he believed in, but always with a smile and an easygoing manner. 

I will miss him.  I encourage people who knew him to put their remembrances and thoughts in the comments below.


Yolo SPCA now has kids face masks as well as new fabric designs in adult sizes for fundraiser

Spring kids and adult mask sizes
Children’s and Adult’s Mask Patterns: (Note: only children’s masks have adjustable elastic)
Small child’s masks (3-4 year old or small 5-year old) (top row) #17 Rainbow hearts and paws; #20 - Happy kitties; #23 - Happy dogs
Medium child’s masks (5-12 year olds) (center row) #18 - Rainbow hearts and paws; #21 - Happy kitties; #24 - Happy dogs
Adult masks (bottom row) #19 - hearts and paws; #22 - Happy kitties; #25 - Happy dogs

Yolo County SPCA now has masks for the entire family in our “Spring-has-Sprung” fundraiser for the Community Cat Kindness Fund. There are also some new fabric patterns! The children’s sizes come in 3 fabric designs have adjustable elastic (via beads) and come in a small size for a 3-4 year old (or a small 5 year old), or a medium child’s size for 5-12 year olds. We also have the matching adults’ sizes in these 3 newest fabrics (see photos). These masks make wonderful gifts as well, particularly if you need to mail a gift since they are so easy and inexpensive to mail.

#19 Rainbow hearts and paws adult mask
#19 - Rainbow hearts and paws - adult (close-up)

We encourage ordering early for the best selection and since some of the original fabric designs are in limited supply. To cover its costs, we ask for a minimum donation of $15 per mask. These masks make great gifts and are easily mailed to gift recipients inexpensively. All of the masks have bendable nose bands and are made of quality materials, including the Cali Fabrics elastic and made with 100% cotton fabrics, including a very soft tea-dyed muslin for the inner fabric.

Continue reading "Yolo SPCA now has kids face masks as well as new fabric designs in adult sizes for fundraiser" »


Better main shot cropped_REDCity is blocking bike lanes?

The City of Davis' only response to recent crashes in the vicinity of Pole Line Road and East Covell Blvd has thus far been Enforcement1. Actively, the Davis Police Department has been monitoring some locations in the area.  Passively, the City has placed a
radar speed sign on WB East Covell between Manzanita and Baywood Streets, right about here.

Why is the radar speed sign in the bike lane? The City places similar signs - and they and private contractors place various construction signs - off to the side on streets when there's space to do so, so they clearly understand the advantage of doing so. But when there's no space, they place the signs on the side of the street, and on most collectors and arterial streets in Davis this means it's in a bike lane.

"Putting a radar feedback sign on Covell to invite drivers to slow down: good. Putting a sign in bike lane: not good," says Nicolas Fauchier-Magnan, the President of Bike Davis, who usually goes by Nico.

"Obstructing the bike lane, on a street where drivers routinely go 50 mph or more is simply irresponsible. 

"Come on, City of Davis," continues Nico. "You should know better, and you can do better. Please fix this terrible blunder before someone gets hurt. There is plenty of space on the grass, outside of the bike lane, to safely place this sign."

Continue reading "" »


LWV hosts forum on California health-care reform

LWV-DavisJoin the League of Women Voters Davis Area on Wednesday, Nov. 18 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. for a free virtual voter-education health-care forum, “The Future of State-Based Health Reform in California.

With health-care reform back in the news, the event will consider what California can implement a state-based financing approach to a system that provides universal care, controls costs and improves outcomes.

Dr. William Hsiao, an internationally known health economist at the Harvard T. H. Chan School Public Health, will give a 25-minute presentation on the health, economic and political background for reform and his views of how to move ahead with a single-payer plan in California.

Cindy Young, a leader in the California single-payer movement with more than 30 years of experience as a policy analyst for organized labor, will comment on Dr. Hsiao’s views and offer her own perspective.

Continue reading "LWV hosts forum on California health-care reform" »


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:

Continue reading "Leaf blower ban - contact City Council today" »


League of Women Voters offers look at health-care reform options

Uncertain about the difference between a single-payer system and a public option linked to the Affordable Care Act?

The League of Women Voters Davis Area will offer an educational program on Zoom from 7 to 8 p.m. Oct. 1 to help voters understand and compare the two choices. “Health-care Reform: Demystifying Future Health-care Options” aims to help voters better understand candidate positions in upcoming presidential debates and election forums.

The online event will feature two speakers: Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, a statewide health-care consumer advocacy coalition, and Jodi Reid, executive director at California Alliance for Retired Americans, a statewide senior advocacy organization working to improve quality of life for seniors.

Speakers also will discuss the challenges Yolo County residents and providers have faced before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To help speakers address questions from the public, please submit them in advance to komalh@lwvdavisarea.org. Audience members will be able to submit questions at the forum as well.

Use the following link to register for the event:  https://bit.ly/351CSuc. A Zoom link will be sent two days before the event.

The League of Women Voters Davis Area is a non-partisan organization committed to voter education and voter registration. To learn more, go to www.lwvdavisarea.org.


Ongoing safety problems with Pacifico

The following email was sent to the City Council on late Tuesday evening and is reprinted here with the permission of the author.

Hello Mayor Partida, Council Members Lee, Frerichs, Carson, and Arnold, City Manager Webb and Assistant City Manager Feeney,

My comment to the City Council regarding Pacifico didn't make it through tonight. Nevertheless, I briefly want to remind all of you of the situation in our South Davis neighborhood.

The acts of crime and intimidation are continuous and not getting better. In fact, random hostile acts of intimidation have increased in number and the act of crime itself has increased in severity.

The most recent incidents that have compromise safety and well-being include:

  • attempted rape
  • prostitution in the parking lot
  • theft and intimidation to Pacifico residents by Pacifico residents
  • loitering combined with heavy consumption of alcohol on the bike path and near homes
  • drug deals and coercion in the parking lot
  • bb rifle shooting on the green belt by a known violent and dangerous criminal who frequents Pacifico
  • a dumpster fire that was suffocating and threatened my family and home.

Those who currently have their safety and well being compromised due to the Use at Pacifico include:

  • my family and visiting family and friends
  • neighbors, families, and friends in homes (Oakshade West Neighborhood Association and beyond)
  • neighbors, families, and students in apartments/duplexes (Octave and Sharp and Flats, Avalon, Brisa)
  • neighbors and Pacifico residents, including disadvantaged women, children and elders - some of our most vulnerable.

These dangers affect everyone in this neighborhood. Many horrible things have happened and continue to happen.

I respectfully request that a plan for Pacifico be of top priority and the subject be put on the long range calendar. Thank you.


Gratefully yours,

Tracy De Wit


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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Sutter Davis Hospital Farmers Market celebrates the big 1-0

Fruitful-partnership(From press release) Call it a decade of deliciousness or a tradition of nutrition. The Sutter Davis Hospital Farmers Market celebrates 10 years of bringing farm-fresh produce and local foods to employees and visitors on Thursday, Aug. 6, as the nation celebrates National Farmers Market Week.

“Fruit and vegetables are foundational to healthy living – and when they’re farm-fresh and locally grown? That’s good for everyone,” said Rachael McKinney, CEO of Sutter Davis Hospital. “In our simplest form, Sutter Health is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to health and wellbeing – both inside and outside the walls of our hospitals. The weekly market at Sutter Davis has easily become one of my favorite days of the week, where I can stock up on fresh produce and local items for my family, as well as interact with the community, our employees and patients. We are proud of this partnership and the benefit to the community it provides.”

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Looking for leadership to do the right thing this time around

COVID-19 is all about concentration

Png-clipart-crowd-cartoon-characters-illustrationBy Roberta Millstein

We were flattening the curve.  We were staying at home.  We were doing the right thing.  Then our leaders – county, state, and federal – blinked.  They caved to pressure from the business community to “open up.”  And they opened up even where it made no sense to open up: bars, restaurants, churches, movie theaters. Now the prevalence of COVID-19 is far worse in our region than it ever was.

Here is what our leaders should have said to the business community:  “If we open up, cases will spike and we will have to shut down again.  Not only will it be costly to ramp up only to have to close down again (especially for restaurants), but also, it will delay an economic recovery even further.” In other words, they should have led.

Instead, they somehow expected that families and friends from different households wouldn’t get together even though people were getting together in bars.  And now they blame citizens instead of blaming themselves for putting out a mixed and inconsistent message.

There are some sensible ways to open up, but they require paying attention to “The Six C’s” (Note: I have modified this from others):

Continue reading "Looking for leadership to do the right thing this time around" »