Entries categorized "Land use"

Destruction of mature trees at WDAAC

Tree-stump
California black walnut stump after removal. Tree was north of Covell Blvd. and along the west side of the West Davis Active Adult Community development site.

By Greg McPherson and Larry Guenther

On a global scale, planting billion of trees to combat climate change will be for naught if we don’t stop clearcutting the Amazon and other forests. The same idea applies on a local scale. Tree Davis’s upcoming planting of 1,000 trees will matter very little if healthy, mature trees are removed from development sites. Large amounts of carbon dioxide stored in these big, old trees is rapidly released after removal, whereas it takes many years for young trees to acquire biomass and accumulate carbon.

In November Davis voters approved Measure L, which established Baseline Project Features to guide development of the West Davis Active Adult Community (WDAAC) property, which is located west of the Sutter-Davis Hospital and north of Covell Blvd. In early June we noticed that 14 large, old California black walnut trees were among a host of trees removed from the site. We wondered why these veteran trees were not protected in a greenspace buffer along Covell Blvd.

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A Tour of The Sustainable Living and Learning Communities

A IMG_8406A future focused interdisciplinary institution grows from the deep roots of UC Davis’s alternative communities.

By Colin Walsh

In an earlier article we discussed the new SLLC that binds together the Student Farm, The Experimental Community Gardens, the Domes, Design Lab workspace, and Project Compost and the Tri Co-ops (Pierce, The Agrarian Effort, and Davis Student Co-op). What had been distinct learning communities with similar values and commitment to student agency, are now a unified grassroots educational initiative that explores a broad range of principles and practices related to agricultural, environmental, and social sustainability. Together, they aspire to promote 4 values, according to the SLLC website: experiential learning, sustainability, community, and place.

We also looked at the Green Fellowship program, a new effort to “fund projects exploring student-led advancement of social justice, sustainable technology, and environmental sustainability at UC Davis” according to the website.

A_IMG_4047The Tour

On Saturday 5/11, as a very nice wine and cheese reception featuring food from the Student Farm and wine from the award winning Matthiasson and Farella wineries wound down (Steve Matthiasson and Tom Farella where in attendance), our tour guides gathered us together in the Eco Garden by the historic farm house at the student farm. We were welcomed warmly by our guides Carol Hillhouse and Nick Tamayo. Nick described his several years of experience with the student farm as he became ever more involved.

First, we walked through the Eco Garden, literally taking time to smell the flowers. Our guides took the time to point out plants and told us about the history and visions for the areas as we went.

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Mace Ranch Innovation Center reborn as Aggie Research Campus

West from Rd 30B - Sac skylineThe on-again off-again on-again business park proposal returns, with scanty detail

By Roberta Millstein

The proposed Mace Ranch Innovation Center (MRIC) is back, now reborn as the Aggie Research Campus (ARC).

In Spring 2016, the developers of the proposed MRIC decided to put the project on hold, citing “higher than expected costs” and a less-than-promising economic analysis.  This was actually the second hold on the project, the developers having suspended the project once before, then having brought it back, then having suspended it again.

When the proposal was suspended for the second time, some City analysis had been done, but some commissions were still in the process of analyzing the proposal, such as the Finance and Budget Commission, the Natural Resources Commission, and the Open Space and Habitat Commission (as I noted in a letter to the editor in the Enterprise after the first hold).

Now as UCD and DJUSD let out for summer vacations, the developers have returned to request that the City resume processing their application.  See the following letter addressed to the members of the Davis City Council:

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Proposal Triples Size of Homeless Shelter

Pauls-place-renderingCurrent Zoning Does Not Allow for 4 Story Project

By Colin Walsh 

Paul’s Place homeless shelter was announced on the front page of the Davis Enterprise yesterday noting how the very rapid growth of the Davis homeless population has overtaxed the old H street facility. This 4-story proposal will include 28 units, 4 emergency beds, “program space to connect people with public benefits, housing and employment opportunities and health and human services, as well as the basic services needed on a daily basis by those living outdoors: food, clothing, showers, restrooms and laundry facilities.” (link)

With the increasing local homeless population there is little doubt that solutions need to be found. Paul’s place would replace the existing well-worn Davis Community Meals 12 bed shelter at 1111H St.

One hurdle the new shelter will need to overcome to be built is the size of the proposed new building. At 4 stories tall it would be the tallest commercial or residential building between 5th St. and Covell. It will be the building in a half mile radius and the current zoning does not allow for 4 a story building.

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Open Space and Habitat Commission visits new City open space area

IMG_5897On Saturday, the Open Space and Habitat Commission had an officially noticed "meeting" – really, a stroll through the woods – on City-owned land to the west of the Putah Creek South Fork Preserve.  This land, approximately 10 acres in total, was purchased with Open Space funds in 2017 with the goal of providing more open space access for Davisites.  Most of the trail is already there (recently cleared by volunteers); the City plans to make small improvements like signage, removal of invasive plants, etc.

This post is my unofficial impression of our morning as a commission member, as documented through my phone camera.  It was a lovely hike and I hope you enjoy these pictures from the City's "backyard," which you can visit yourself if you care to.

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New study challenges Wiener’s approach to housing

Eminent economic geographers say that deregulation and upzoning will make gentrification in cities like SF much worse.

By Tim Redmond

Pretty much everybody who’s paying attention to the housing crisis in San Francisco – except, apparently, the Chronicle – is talking about the new study by eminent economic geographers Andrés Rodríguez-Pose and Michael Storper that argues against looser zoning rules as a solution to the housing crisis.

Even Richard Florida, who used to love the idea of cities attracting the young “creative class” (before he discovered gentrification) says the study is important. It’s the latest in a series of studies that challenge the notion that allowing the private market to build more housing will bring down prices.

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Extortion in Davis? Not from Measures J/R

Cannery-moneyBy Matt Williams

Extortion is the practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats.  Measures J/R clearly do result in additional expenses for a developer; however, the City (and the community) don’t receive any payments as a result of any of the provisions of Measures J/R.  The additional developer dollars are paid out (discretionarily) to third parties, like election campaign consultants, and advertising channels, and experts providing testimony, etc.

In the last 10 years I can only think of one example of “extortion”  and that example is one where the developer “extorted” an $8 million payment from the City.  Of course I refer to the Cannery CFD.  Not only did the developer receive that $8 million cash payment, but that $8 million payment cost the Davis taxpayers a total of $21.8 million in principal repayment, bond closing costs and interest payments.

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Local Sierra Club and Audubon Groups Raise Concerns about Burrowing Owls at Mace 25

Burrowing-owls
Buow picture taken by R. Millstein, 8/2017

Davisites may recall the large proposed business park, the Mace Ranch Innovation Center (MRIC), which would be sited on the farmland outside of the Mace curve to the east of Davis, subject to a Measure R vote.  The project proposal was withdrawn in 2016, but the commission on which I serve, the Open Space and Habitat Commission, has been told informally that the project may be re-proposed again in some form.  In its original form, the proposal included 25 acres of land purchased with funds from the City’s Open Space program, widely referred to as the “Mace 25.”  (See my op-ed in the Davis Enterprise, “How 25 acres of open space got into the MRIC proposal” for the history of how that occurred).

In response to the widespread belief that the MRIC proposal will back in front of the City, two local environmental groups have raised concerns about the presence of burrowing owls on the Mace 25: the local chapters of the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society. Note that burrowing owls have been designated as a “species of special concern” in California, and their numbers have been declining precipitously in recent years.

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Petition to Restore Mace

PetitionThe below petition is being circulated at change.org. It was started within the last 2 days - after the recent neighborhood meetings. At the time of this posting it already has 270+ signatures.

The petition can be signed here: **sign**

CITY OF DAVIS TO RESTORE MACE BOULEVARD TO TWO LANES (BOTH WAYS)

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Mace Mess

MaceMess1PETITION TO CITY OF DAVIS TO RESTORE MACE BOULEVARD TO TWO LANES (BOTH WAYS)

The “Traffic Calming” project on Mace Boulevard was unnecessary, was not properly presented to the residents of South Davis (especially the current residents), was obsolete and ill-conceived when the plan was completed in 2013, and since its installation has created massive congestion, dangerous traffic issues, more safety issues for the bicyclists and pedestrians it was purported to protect, rampant road rage, and in short has seriously disrupted the lives of all Davis residents and especially South Davis residents, as demonstrated by our daily experiences. 

Despite city planners’ insistence to the contrary, the changes to Mace have resulted in a situation where emergency vehicles will be unable to access neighborhoods and evacuations will be impossible to carry out.  No matter how many lights are flashing and how loudly the sirens wail, there is no place for gridlocked traffic to go to get out of first responders’ way.  When the area is gridlocked, side streets are also blocked, so there are no alternate routes for first responders either.  In some neighborhoods, the “improvements” have created issues for ADA access to vehicles, another safety concern.

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City Council Out of Step on Parking, Roads, Housing, and the Claw: Will it Impact the 2020 Council Race?

Checking-pulseTonight, the City Council will decide whether or not to convert approximately 32% of downtown parking to metered parking spaces, 7 days a week, 10 AM-10 PM.  The opposition to the City’s proposal from citizens and business owners has been vocal and voluminous. 

Will the City Council nonetheless vote to proceed with the plan?  And if they do, will voters next spring remember and think twice about re-electing incumbents?

This is not the first indication that the Council isn’t communicating well with its citizens. 

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Regarding Chiles Road Apartments / Loss of Commercial Site

Chiles-Project-2WThe following letter was submitted to the Davis City Council yesterday (March 15) and is reprinted here with permission of the author.  For background information on the proposed Chiles project, see this Davis Enterprise article. The Council will consider the project at its upcoming meeting on Tuesday, March 19.

To Davis City Council:

In reference to the Chiles Road apartment proposal, some seem to be claiming that there's a "shortage" of available commercial space (while simultaneously advocating for conversion of existing commercial space to accommodate residential development). If there is an actual shortage of commercial space, then the proposed conversion of the Chiles Road site (from commercial to residential zoning) is difficult to logically explain. One might think that (at a minimum), a mixed-use proposal might be appropriate and in-demand - assuming that one truly believes that there's a shortage of commercial space. (Also assuming that the city believes that commercial development is needed, to fill its coffers.)

In any case, this latest missed opportunity is surely something I'll remember, if/when the MRIC proposal arises again.

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Laundered Campaign Contributions Appear to Have Been Made to the Yes on Measure L Campaign by West Davis Active Adult Community

Money-launderingby Alan Pryor, Treasurer and Principal Officer of No on Measure L

INTRODUCTION

In previous articles pertaining to the financial disclosures of the Yes on Measure L/West Davis Active Adult Community campaign on the November 2018 ballot in Davis, I provided evidence showing:

  1. About $70,000 of campaign expenditures that were made by the Yes on Measure L campaign for attorney’s fees were probably illegal under FPPC campaign finance regulations as set forth in the FPPC Disclosure Manuals that provide guidance and requirements for such campaign expenditures.
  2. The Davis Vanguard ran daily ads from the inception of the campaign until voting day and for a substantial period beforehand. The payment for these ads is not disclosed on any financial statements filed by the Yes on Measure L campaign which may be a violation of FPPC regulations.
  3. A disclosed financial filing expenditure of $3,000 was made to "Froggy's" for food service for a Vanguard fundraising event. This is probably not an allowable campaign expense for the Yes on Measure L campaign under FPPC guidelines.
  4. Over $64,000 of non-monetary contributions to the Yes on Measure L campaign for “salaries” have been disclosed in campaign filings but the recipients of these salaries have been kept secret. Further, it is not known if these payments were for personal gain, which is prohibited by FPPC regulations, or may be otherwise disallowed under FPPC guidelines.

This information is more fully disclosed in the BACKGROUND section attached to the end of this article and referenced in previous articles I have written as disclosed therein.

In this article I report how the primary financial contributor to the Yes on Measure L campaign is the West Davis Active Adult Community entity itself, totaling $164,500. In 2017, West Davis Active Adult Community was formed as a Fictitious Business Name business under the charter of Doug Arnold Real Estate Inc. Doug Arnold Real Estate Inc was a California Domestic Stock Corporation whose Agent for Service of Process was David Taormino. However, Doug Arnold Real Estate Inc was dissolved in 2018, thus apparently rendering West Davis Active Adult Community as an orphan company without legal status in California.

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Requesting investigation into WDAAC and Yes on L allegations

Justice2The following was emailed to CityCouncilMembers@cityofdavis.org this morning

Dear Members of the Davis City Council,

I am writing to request formally that the Davis City Council send a letter to the Yolo County District Attorney and California Fair Political Practices Committee (FPPC) requesting investigations into the allegations against the West Davis Active Adult Community (WDAAC) and the Yes on L campaign, as described in the following article by Alan Pryor:

https://www.davisite.org/2019/02/yes-on-measure-l-campaign-violates-fppc-disclosure-laws-by-failing-to-report-davis-vanguard-ad-expen.html

(Or please click here if that link wraps).

Specifically, the article alleges:

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Yes on Measure L Campaign Violates FPPC Disclosure Laws by Failing to Report Davis Vanguard Ad Expenditures and Providing Inadequate Disclosure of other “Non-Monetary” Contributions and Expenditures

PileofmoneyBy Alan Pryor, Treasurer and Principal Officer of the No on Measure L campaign.

In an article I authored and published on February 12th in both the Davisite and Davis Vanguard, I vehemently disagreed with and disputed allegations that the No on Measure L campaign committed expenditure or finance reporting violations (see Background below). I noted, to the contrary, that California election law specifically disallows campaign monies to be used for these type of litigation expenses.

Further, I also disclosed that about $70,000 of campaign expenditures which were made by the Yes on Measure L campaign for attorney fees were illegal under FPPC campaign finance regulations as written in the FPPC Disclosure Manuals that provide guidance and requirements for such campaign expenditures.

In the course of investigating such expenditures and in recent commentary on-line by different observers, it was noticed that there were other areas of campaign expenditures that are inconsistent with financial disclosure standards of the FPPC. In particular, the Davis Vanguard ran daily ads since the inception of the campaign until voting day and for a substantial period beforehand. The payment for these ads is not disclosed on any financial statements filed by the Yes on Measure L campaign which is a violation of FPPC regulations

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The Yes on Measure L Campaign has “Unclean Hands” when Alleging Improper Financial Disclosures by the No on Measure L Campaign

Dirtyhandby Alan Pryor, Treasurer and Principal Officer of the No on Measure L campaign.

INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

The “unclean hands” legal doctrine is where one party in a legal dispute argues the other party is not entitled to obtain an equitable remedy because the other party is acting unethically or has acted in bad faith with respect to the subject of the complaint—that is, with "unclean hands”.

David Taormino is the principal promoter of the West Davis Active Adult Community (WDAAC) which was recently approved by the voters of Davis on the November 2018 ballot as Measure L. During the course of this campaign, a federal lawsuit was filed by the well-known Sacramento civil rights attorney, Mark Merin, against David Taormino and the City of Davis. This lawsuit alleged that a preferential “Davis-Based Buyers Program” in the Development Agreement signed between the Davis City Council and David Taormino was discriminatory and exclusionary in nature. Thus, it was illegal because it favored Davis residents or people connected to Davis who are predominantly white. However, this Development Agreement was NOT part of the ballot measure put before the Davis voters and the lawsuit was unrelated to the issues before the voters on the ballot.

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Yes on L lawn sign impropriety on Election Day

Yes-on-L-signThe sign to the left greeted me this morning as I went to vote at my polling place at the VMC.  It is, in my opinion, an example of improper electioneering.

Electioneering is not permitted within 100 feet of a polling place. Electioneering is defined by the California Election Code Section 319.5 as “the visible display or audible dissemination of information that advocates for or against any candidate or measure on the ballot within 100 feet of a polling place, an elections official’s office, or a satellite location.”

Although someone cut the "Yes" part of the sign out, it's clear that this sign is advocating for the WDAAC project and is thus prohibited.

You have to wonder about the real merits of a project when its proponents will stoop this low to promote it.


What Are Davis Residents Saying Against Measure L?

Luxury sprawlBy Rik Keller

The Yes on Measure L/West Davis Active Adult Community (WDAAC) campaign has been saying that opponents of the project are "against seniors" and has been making unsubstantiated claims that the No On WDAAC campaign arguments are "lies" [see: https://www.davisite.org/2018/10/uncivil-discourse-at-the-civenergy-forum.html]. In the added context of the Yes on L campaign spending about $250,000 in this election cycle compared to about $7,500 for the opposition (as of reports filed 10/20/2018), this kind of messaging from deep-pocketed special interest groups who stand to make millions from cynical voter manipulation is offensive.

The following is a sampling of some Davis citizen comments against the Measure L/WDAAC project from social media posts that demonstrate that Davis residents are seeing through the blizzard of marketing money and the false charges of the project proponents. To my knowledge, none of these are from anyone working/volunteering on the No On WDAAC campaign, nor were they solicited by the campaign. It is notable that a significant number of the comments were posted on the Yes On L campaign's own Facebook page posts/advertisements.

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What YES Does

ERC residents
Residents of Eleanor Roosevelt Circle regularly meet with their on site Social Services Coordinator

By David Thompson

With your YES vote for Measure L, these low income seniors will get to stay and live in Davis. Otherwise, there are few places for them to go.

Davis Low Income Seniors are People by the Numbers

How many low income seniors will get a home in Davis?

This energy flowing through my senior years comes directly from the Davis Community through the Eleanor Roosevelt Circle, thank you. Davis is a uniquely qualified community to establish new models of senior housing. Please vote yes on Proposition L to house more seniors.”

Diane C. Evans, Davis

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