Entries categorized "Land use"

The City of Davis Propaganda Machine & Sky Track - Tales of the Bizarre

Last night, less than an hour after the Rec & Park Commission meeting considered Sky Track #large echo & trumpets#, a bizarre posting appeared on a Facebook Page with the City Logo that reads like an oil company trying to claim environmental brownie points after running an oil tanker into a reef full of penguins:


The capstone of the posting: "The City of Davis and its staff work diligently to ensure a vibrant community that enhances the quality of life for residents, families, children and students."

Oh please.  Gag me with a spoon.  Make me vomit.  I'm heading to the vomitorium to hurl chunks.

Who wrote that, and why?  What is really going on here that the City has that written in an hour, and up on the web?   It's too perfect.  Why would a City website post something so vomitously self-serving?  That's not what cities do . . . they are government, not private.  Cities shouldn't make proclamations about how great the city and its staff are.  I've met several great City staff btw.  This isn't about how great or not great any particular staff is.  It's about the fact that it is not government's place to toot it's own horn -- and we should all be asking:  why is it doing so in this case?  Something is rotten in West Davis.

And why is the City providing a forum so City residents can get into a Facebook war?  So assholes can berate and belittle the neighbors for what, having an issue with the constant sound of metal grating on metal?  I had no idea the degree of vitriol from users and abusers of the zip-line. What part of 'metal grating against metal' don't you people understand?  This isn't rocket science, it's not even sound science.  We all fucking know that metal on metal and a constant grating noise next to where we live can destroy daily life.  That isn't a sound you just get used to.  We don't need paid sound scientists to use meters and numbers to justify my love when we all know whatever the damn meter says that 'metal grating on metal' is an awful sound.  I have not been so disgusted by some Davis people since the Trackside defenders.  

More on the Facebook forum There are those playing the 'envy card' -- 'you own a house!' - imagine the gall of someone owning a house in Davis :-|.  There are those playing the 'you hate children' card, even though they say they never minded any of the sounds or children playing or shrieking in joy -- only the grating of metal on metal.  There are those playing the 'you get special treatment' card, even though the Krovozas and others are getting shat on by asshole zip-line users/abusers and City government.  There's the 'you knew there was a park there when you bought your house' card, even though the Krovoza's pointed out repeatedly that they moved in next to a park and had no problem with that, the zip-line came much later and that is the only and specific noise issue.  Metal on Metal!

And why is the City now a propaganda machine?  Not that many years ago if I wrote to the City Council, two or three Councilmemebers would write me back with their personal response.  Now an 'information officer' sends me a pre-packaged response about how my email was sent to all the Councilmembers.  This is a new position paid for with your taxpayer money, and what we get is pre-packaged pablum.  Now the propaganda machine is expanded to bizarre City-serving Facebook posts with forums for citizens to berate citizens.  The City isn't a corporation that needs a slogan that it "enhances the quality of life for residents, families, children and students."  Why are we putting up with this shit?

That meeting last night was bizarre.  Truth is lies.  Words are reality.  Coneheads roam City parks.  All that virtual meeting proved to me is a lot of people got dropped on their heads as infants.

Anyway, have fun playing 'Spot the Flaming Davis Assholes' as you read the comments in the Facebook page  :-|

P.S.  Why do we call it Sky Track with capital letters like it's some special thing with a proper name -- instead of "that fucking zip line" ? :-|

Letter: Growth and Gridlock in Davis

Isn’t there a better way to provide funding for city services than paving over prime agricultural land with an industrial park? We have an internationally recognized agricultural research university and the city is proposing to despoil the very essence of that educational field: the land. The university hasn’t asked for this project or even endorsed it.

I’ve lived in Davis for 37 years and have watched leaders plead again and again for sprawl on our periphery, touting the need for often-delusive revenue to cover unchecked city spending. Like many, I put roots down in Davis because it offered what I desired most, excellent, innovative city planning, strong schools, and a strong city spirit. In the past, Davis was known nationally as a charming small college town with abundant bike paths and lanes, surrounded by farm land and open space.  I left southern California specifically because of regional gridlock and air quality. Why are Davis leaders trying to replicate those problems here?

Are we in a race with other communities to build the most car-centric, traffic-choked developments: Is there something inherently wrong with maintaining  a small community that values its neighborhoods and agricultural roots?  Why don’t city leaders demonstrate some  economic creativity and re-imagine a  government that can sustain itself without gobbling up all the open space that surrounds it.  Or shall we let regional developers dictate our future?

The commuter gridlock that has already invaded East and South Davis is spreading throughout the city. Is this to be our future?  Besides death and taxes, it’s the one sure thing that will happen if the proposed development, Measure H, passes. Yes, ‘more cars are coming anyway’ as a result of the ‘Waze’ traffic app. Why make that worse by adding another 12,000 car trips to the mix?

 Please help maintain the current quality of our city and vote No on Measure H.

C.H. Pickett

The Whole Story about DiSC’s Claim of $3.88 Million Net Revenue to the City

Seven ways in which the City and the Yes on Measure H campaign make DiSC 2022 appear economically far rosier than is likely

By Matt Williams

The City and the Yes on Measure H campaign literature for the DiSC project emphasize that one of the important benefits to the City of Davis General Fund is a “$3.9 million net revenue gain for the City of Davis annually to address the city’s $7 million funding gap and maintain our quality of life without a tax increase.”

The net annual revenues projected to accrue to the City that have been presented to the voting public use the most optimistic “best case scenario” to make their pitch … but other less rosy scenarios exist.  During the December meeting of the Davis Finance and Budget Commission (FBC), Commissioner Jacobs suggested multiple times that it would be helpful to City Council if the consultant were to run the analysis using a worst-case and best-case scenario.  Unfortunately, that suggestion was not implemented by the City.

Scenario analyses are particularly valuable here in Davis because, for a variety of reasons, past development projects in the City have rarely yielded the revenues the City expected to them to produce. The $3.88 million surplus projected for this Measure H project may be the theoretical best case, but it does not recognize potential adverse impacts on this rosy projection. As shown below, if all of the seven impacts quantified in this document are considered, net annual revenues to the City could actually result in a deficit of $770,000.

Continue reading "The Whole Story about DiSC’s Claim of $3.88 Million Net Revenue to the City" »

PBE welcomes No on DiSC to public forum

(From press release) The Davis Progressive Business Exchange will meet from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 4, at Lamppost Pizza, 1260 Lake Blvd. in West Davis.

The topic will be DiSC, the Davis Innovation Sustainability Campus. After supporters spoke last month, Matt Williams will speak on May 4, representing the No on DiSC campaign. Davis voters will be asked to vote on this issue on June 7 as Measure H.

The public is invited to these free open forum events. Contact Bob Bockwinkel at 530-219-1896 or e-mail G Richard Yamagata at yamagata@dcn.org for  information.

Letter: Time to say "No" to DiSC

ClockOne of the few benefits of COVID has been people’s heightened awareness around the climate crisis. For me personally I have made significant lifestyle changes regarding my transportation choices and frequency of travel, started purchasing second hand clothing, and committed to eating sustainably produced foods.

I would like to think that our City Council would also have learned and grown more conscious of their leadership’s impact on Davis during this urgent time when we need to reduce our carbon footprint. Look no further than the DISC development (Measure H on the ballot) to see how they have failed to grow.

The new 2022 iteration of DiSC will, according to the Sierra Club, create “excessive traffic, greenhouse gas emissions, and poor land-use and planning.” DiSC will “increase the city’s carbon footprint by 5%.” It is frightening to see the City Council push so hard for this massive development of office space, a big hotel, and fancy condos on the outskirts of town near an area of Davis already burdened by poor planning decisions (e.g., Mace Mess).

Meanwhile one council member, the notorious Dan Carson, took the time and small- minded perspective of suing the citizens of Davis themselves who operate the No On DISC campaign. What an incredibly unconscious and egocentric move! Is this the government we have to help us create radical change to address climate crisis issues?

As an average citizen who works from home for a non profit, is married to a Davis school teacher, and believes a better world is possible if we all contribute, I would kindly ask you to open your minds to voting No on Measure H in the June ballot. Learn more at VoteNoOnDisc.com campaign site.

Nikki Martin

Letter: Measure H misrepresents itself

Greenwashed-trafficDavis voters rejected DISC in 2020. We didn’t want environmental and quality of life costs for all in exchange for economic gain for few. So the developers hired a PR firm to reframe the issue as Measure H, or to lie so blatantly as to make Loki swoon.

They say paving 102 acres will “preserve agricultural land,” that DISCs 12,000 more cars daily will “make driving easier” and “speed up commutes” (quotes direct from Yes on H). They think a population that is in favor of downtown, open space, clean air and minimal traffic will vote for a project that is the antithesis of these because they put a bicycle on their lawn signs.

They hope Davisites are too stupid to see through greenwashing newspeak and they need the councilpeople they own to maintain a pretense of environmentalism while vigorously campaigning for a freeway sprawl development that’s as carbon neutral as Charles Koch’s vacations. In future I suggest the developers save the corporate PR money and I can suggest equally believable slogans like “Trees Favor Axes,” “Snails For Salt” and “Turkeys Love Thanksgiving.”

Dan Urazandi

Should Measure H be renamed to Measure M – with "M" for Misleading?

By Matt Williams

Over the last few weeks there has been a lot of discussion about Dan Carson's lawsuit over ballot statements that were alleged to be “objectively and verifiably false and/or misleading.  Honorary Campaign Chair Carson and the Yes on Measure H campaign team have had their day in court (pun intended), but it turns out that the language in the Ballot Arguments is just the tip of the “objectively and verifiably false and/or misleading” iceberg in the ongoing consideration by the voters of the DiSC 2022 proposal.

So, grab your Titanic deck chairs, and we will navigate some icy waters as the communications from the Yes On Measure H campaign team take you over, around and through their own “false and misleading” assertions about the benefit DJUSD will get from the DiSC project.

Our narrative starts in early March when Amy Haug, whose name is prominently featured on their website as a member of the Yes on H campaign team, contacted the leaders of the various PTA/PTO organizations conveying the following message:

I am not trying to bring this to you in a partisan way, just to bring information.  I have already talked to the DHS PTA in the announcements part of their meeting and am scheduled to talk to Emerson, DaVinci and Harper this month.  There is some really important things that parents should be aware of on the upcoming ballot measure.  Here are just some of the benefits of the DISC for parents specifically:

  • The developer has been negotiating with the school district and have agreed to a one-time donation of $2.3 million and a yearly donation of $700,000 every single year thereafter directly to the DJUSD.

To the credit of the leaders of the various DJUSD PTA/PTO organizations, they did some research on Measure H and determined that it does not have direct relevance to the mission and purpose of their respective PTA/PTO.  As a result, they unscheduled the pending Yes On H presentations.

Before jumping forward from early March to early April, I ask you to take note of the words “negotiating” and “donation” in that Yes On Measure H message.  Both the referenced $2.3 million and $700,000 are legally mandated fees/taxes/levies that all homeowners within the DJUSD boundaries pay each year in their Yolo County Tax Bill.  I can not remember when any of those fees/taxes/levies were negotiable for any taxpayer … or could even vaguely be considered to be a “donation” to DJUSD.  In fact, whether it was intentional or not, the use of the terms “negotiating” and “donation” is both false and misleading.

Continue reading "Should Measure H be renamed to Measure M – with "M" for Misleading?" »

Will the supposed $3.9 million net revenue gain to the City ever really come?

By Matt Williams

The City and the Yes on Measure H campaign literature for the DiSC project emphasize that one of the important benefits to the City of Davis General Fund is a claimed “$3.9 million net revenue gain for the City of Davis annually to address the city’s $7 million funding gap and maintain our quality of life without a tax increase.”

Where does that $3.9 million projection come from?

The source is the December 2021 financial analysis prepared by the City’s financial consultant (EPS) and presented to the Finance and Budget Commission (FBC) in December 2021.  In that analysis, Tables B-1 and A-2 provide the specific relevant net revenue data, and both those tables are copied on the other side of this handout. 

At what point in time does the $3.9 million net revenue gain actually happen?

As Table B-1 clearly shows, the $3.9 million Annual General Fund Surplus only happens when DiSC is fully built out (at the end of Phase 2B). 

When does full buildout actually happen?

According to Table A-2 from the same EPS financial analysis, the end of Phase 2B isn’t projected until the end of the 12th year of the project (at the end of 2034). 

What is the net revenue gain in the years prior to full buildout?

Table B-1 shows that the net revenue gain is only $333,000 in Phase 1A, and $1,351,000 in Phase 1B.  Both those numbers are small fractions of $3.9 million.  Only when the project reaches the end of Phase 2A ... projected by EPS to be at the end of the 9th year of the project (the end of 2031) ... does the projected net revenue gain get to 90% of the $3.9 million, with the final 10% not coming until three years later.

How solid is the 12-year projection for achieving Full Buildout? 

Given the fact that the DiSC development team has publicly stated that they will not be doing any marketing until after they achieve a positive result at the ballot box from Davis voters on Election Day, that 12-year projection is highly speculative.  Under those conditions, full buildout could just as easily take 25 years, or not happen at all.  If full buildout never happens, then the $3.9 million net revenue gain never happens.

Continue reading "Will the supposed $3.9 million net revenue gain to the City ever really come? " »

Councilmember Carson wants Davis citizens he sued to be responsible for his developer-paid legal fees

Upside-down-farmland(From press release) Yesterday afternoon, Davis City Councilmember Dan Carson's attorneys filed a brief in Yolo County Superior Court on his behalf, seeking $76,358 from the six named Davis citizens in his failed lawsuit. Councilmember Carson's lawsuit attempted to delete more than 25% of the ballot Argument against Measure H. That would amount to more than $12,700 for each individual named in the lawsuit: Mike Corbett, Stephen Wheeler, Darell Dickey, Juliette Beck, Roberta Millstein, and Alan Pryor, the authors and signers of the ballot argument.

"The individuals who Carson has targeted are not wealthy industrial park developers like Dan Ramos who has paid for Councilmember Carson’s attorneys thus far. “They  are community members, and community members who have integrity and are well respected," stated Pam Gunnell.  Gunnell further stated that “Understanding who these community members are is critical to understanding No On H. Michael Corbett was the developer behind Village Homes who most recently has built a small affordable housing project in South Davis. Dr. Stephen Wheeler is a professor of urban planning and design in the department of human ecology at UC Davis, and author of “Planning for Sustainability, Reimagining Sustainable Cities” and “The Sustainable Urban Development Reader.” Darell Dickey is a former Bicycle Advisory Commissioner, long-time member of the Davis Bike Club, and proponent of safe bicycling in Davis. Juliette Beck is a long -time climate change activist, mother and candidate for Yolo County Supervisor. Dr. Roberta Millstein is Professor Emeritus in the UC Davis Philosophy Department, specializing in environmental ethics and philosophy of biology; she is a former Chair of the Open Space and Habitat Commission. Alan Pryor is retired and serves as the Chair of the Sierra Club Yolano Group and is a former 12-year member of the City of Davis Natural Resources Commission. “

Councilmember Carson and Dan Ramos have both acknowledged previously that Ramos, the developer behind the DiSC project on the June ballot as Measure H, is bankrolling Carson’s attorney's fees. If Carson prevails in his request for award of attorney fees, these individuals would be legally compelled to pay Yes on H's fees. Presumably Developer Ramos would then be reimbursed for his attorney costs to sue the authors and signers of the No on H argument.

Continue reading "Councilmember Carson wants Davis citizens he sued to be responsible for his developer-paid legal fees" »

Despite No on DiSC's success in court, Councilmember Carson still thinks that the citizens he sued with developer money should pay legal fees

Triplepunch(From press release) In a Yolo County Superior Court filing on April 22, the No on Measure H campaign rejected Councilmember Dan Carson’s latest court filing arguing that six Davis residents should not have their legal bills paid as a result of his spurious lawsuit.  The legal bills in question are those incurred by the No on Measure H campaign defending against Carson's lawsuit that attacked the No on H ballot statement. The No on H campaign believes that the lawsuit was a blatant attempt to squelch their free speech rights.

Further, Carson’s latest filing states that Carson himself intends to file to collect attorney fees from the 6 individual Davis citizens he named in his lawsuit! However, while Carson's wants the six Davis residents he sued to be financially responsible for all of Carson's attorney fees, it turns out that all of Carson’s legal costs are actually being bankrolled by the DiSC developer.

In a reply brief filed in Yolo County Superior Court, the No on H campaign called Carson’s actions “a tried and true political tactic to deplete the opposition’s financial resources through whatever means possible, because in politics, money itself is speech.”

“Petitioner Dan Carson, a City Councilmember and representative of the developer-backed Yes on H Committee, initiated litigation that would have prevented Real Parties in Interest Alan Pryor, Michael Corbett, Stephen Wheeler, Darell Dickey, Juliette Beck, and Roberta Millstein (“Real Parties”) from expressing relevant opinions about the Davis Innovation and Sustainability Campus 2022 (DiSC 2022),” the brief says.

Real Parties were forced to obtain counsel to defend their speech rights, depleting campaign resources. Even worse, Petitioner has now threatened to file a fee motion against these six private citizens for payment of Petitioner’s attorney’s fees, even though he did not achieve the results he sought in his Petition for Writ of Mandate,” the brief continues.

The case is a triple punch designed to stifle comment, reduce campaign activity, and financially punish citizens who simply engaged in protected political speech in the ballot pamphlet. Unlike Petitioner, who made the choice to come to court, these six Real Parties were dragged unwillingly into this forum by the filing of this lawsuit. These individuals should be made whole, and the attorneys who took this case on a partially contingent basis should be fully compensated for successfully defending Real Parties’ right to present their ballot argument as they intended,” the brief concludes.

Continue reading "Despite No on DiSC's success in court, Councilmember Carson still thinks that the citizens he sued with developer money should pay legal fees" »

Sierra Club Endorses No on Measure H - No on DISC

DISC overview shot

(From press release) Citing grounds of “excessive traffic, greenhouse gas emissions, and poor land-use and planning”, the Sierra Club announces its opposition to Measure H in Davis CA on the June 7, 2022 municipal ballot.

Measure H is a vote to allow the annexation of approximately 100-acres of Prime farmland on the northeast periphery of the City and the development of a business complex, hotel- conference center, and retail along with a 460-unit housing development. The project site is now farmed and serves as foraging habitat for numerous Special Status Species including Burrowing Owls, Swainson’s Hawks, and White-Tailed Kites.

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

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

While the Sierra Club is strongly supportive of efforts to stimulate economic development and provide housing, particularly for working families, we do not support the DISC development which will turn over 100-acres of productive Prime farmland into a massive, sprawling, auto- dependent business park", said Alan Pryor, chair of the local Sierra Club Yolano Group. "Although some on-site housing units will be constructed, there is no mechanism to ensure that the housing will be occupied by workers at the development project itself”.

This development is inconsistent with official Sierra Club land use policies encouraging infill development. Instead, the project is reminiscent of peripheral, sprawling, car-centric developments of earlier times that encourage long-range commuting. It is the antithesis of smart urban planning”, added Mr. Pryor.

Of particular concern is the 12,000+ daily auto trips projected to result from the development adding further congestion to an already bottle-necked City thoroughfare, Mace Blvd., and the I-80 freeway. In addition to the wait-times and traffic disruption, this excessive traffic is the primary contributor to the over 22,000 metric tons per year of additional greenhouse gases projected to be produced by the project. This DISC project alone would increase the greenhouse gas footprint of Davis by almost 5% jeopardizing the City's mandate of carbon neutrality by 2040.

Continue reading "Sierra Club Endorses No on Measure H - No on DISC" »

Why NO on DiSC


By Marc Thomas

The work from home trend in the business world has been slowly emerging and accelerated by COVID. Recently, Apple and other product companies are instituting a 3 day per week to Twitter which is now near 100% remote. And many are relocating to lower cost areas and reducing their real estate foot prints/costs.

Other companies have gone totally remote, and many hardware/tech startups, such as the hardware/software startup I currently work with “started up” with a full remote team and does not have an office. The closest two team members are about 50 miles apart, the furthest two are probably 10,000 miles. It required a new way of organizing a team, collaborating, building and testing prototypes, getting approvals and overall, resulted in a considerable reduction in operating expenses, no bay area salaries, and zero expensive office costs…zero!. It was such a significant opex reduction that in addition to team members spending more time with families, the company was able to offer really good benefits appreciated by all.

Startup businesses do not need expensive real estate for start-up, scaling, or going into mass production. One Mountain View startup in autonomous robotics took the steps to migrate from a Silicone Valley “old” model to a more agile and lower cost distributed organizational structure starting in SV, moving a short distance to Oakland, then fully embracing a remote model with team members all over the world and a manufacturing facility in Detroit! These changes enabled a more company friendly funding model as they were able to conserve cash by spending on what mattered, people and product, rather than on expensive facilities in expensive areas paying typical salaries demanded by Bay Area and CA professionals.

The DiSC “business/innovation park” does not recognize this rapidly changing business trend, fails to recognize that there are lower cost (and local) areas to scale if the company must be local, and the housing portion will not solve the “affordable housing” challenge (remember the bay area residents with cash and the ability to work remotely), and does not address the environmental infrastructure and tax implications in depth and detail never-mind turning good/great agriculture land into concrete.

At the current rate of change in the “work from home” trend, building an innovation/business part today will result in the empty and dead business parks of the future: Consider what Amazon did to “malls”...

Any startup founder/team must have a very good story to tell an investor why they are spending the equivalent of multiple team members salaries and cash for a building space/office that is unnecessary, or used for a small percentage of the time at best, and increases burn rate without accelerating time to market or improving product.

The desire (and need) to incubate companies locally is supportable, but incubating companies does not require the DiSC project as there is plenty of space in Davis to build out and or up.

And I know another Davis company that has been here for 7+years, with 50+% of employees currently being remote, and going full remote by years end.

Citizens try to recoup costs resulting from spurious lawsuit

Scales-of-justice(From press release) Today in Yolo Superior Court, the attorneys for the citizens who wrote and signed the No on Measure H ballot statement, filed a motion for an award of legal fees and costs they incurred in their defense of a lawsuit filed by Davis City Councilmember Dan Carson. Carson had previously sued the ballot signers claiming their ballot statement was false or misleading.  

The citizen Defendants (the “real parties”) named in the Carson lawsuit retained legal representation on a partially contingent basis which permitted the attorneys to seek an award of their legal fees if they were successful in defending the ballot language against Carson’s claims.  

The Defendants’ filing states The Court outright rejected three of Petitioner’s challenges and adopted Real Parties’ suggestions for the two modest edits it ordered.” 

Alan Pryor, the Treasurer of the No on DiSC campaign and one of the Defendants stated “Carson’s lawsuit requested whole sentences in the ballot statement be stricken by the Judge. In his final ruling, however, made only two small changes that were suggested by authors of the statement.” 

In my experience, it is highly unusual for a sitting public official to sue their own citizens over ballot arguments,” said Beverly Grossman Palmer, an experienced election attorney and partner at Strumwasser & Woocher. “None of the attorneys in my firm can recall a similar situation in any of our collective years of practicing election law.”

Continue reading "Citizens try to recoup costs resulting from spurious lawsuit" »

Councilmember Carson sued me for signing a ballot statement

6F907AC2-43BA-422A-A5DC-F4974707938FBy Roberta Millstein

Two weeks ago, I was stunned to learn from a Davis Enterprise article that I and other signers of the Argument Against Measure H (Argument Against DiSC) were being sued by none other than Councilmember Dan Carson, who is serving as the “Honorary” Chair of the developer-funded Yes on DiSC campaign. Measure H is on the June 7 ballot; DiSC is a proposed development project on 100 acres of mostly prime farmland outside the City limits, adjacent to I-80 and Mace Blvd.

Apparently, the suit had been filed on the last possible day. I waited to be served papers, but none ever arrived. I did receive a phone call, later learning that Councilmember Carson had obtained my phone number from a Commission Chair. I was extremely surprised to learn that he would do something like that, especially since he apparently did not let on what he wanted my phone number for. It is still unclear whether Councilmember Carson funded this lawsuit himself or if someone else funded it; he has refused to answer several people who have asked him.

With a tight deadline for the ballot to be printed by the County, citizens opposed to DiSC suddenly found themselves having to find a lawyer within a matter of days (like, two days) and the prospect of spending tens of thousands of dollars to retain one — well in excess of the budget for the entire grassroots campaign.

And what was the suit about?  Well, perhaps Councilmember Carson thought that he could pull the wool over a judge's eyes, but the judge found no problems with our contention that DiSC is in violation of the City's General Plan or our contention that there would be unmitigated greenhouse gases from the project or that there were almost no commitments.

Continue reading "Councilmember Carson sued me for signing a ballot statement" »

DISC is anything but ‘sustainable’

Annexation Area DiSC 2022_070721By Stephen M. Wheeler

Davis residents have begun receiving calls and mailings from backers of the so-called Davis Innovation and Sustainability Campus (DiSC 2022) in preparation for the June 7 election, when the project will be on the ballot as Measure H.

Don’t be fooled by the rosy promises and endorsements on the developer’s materials: DiSC represents neither innovation nor sustainability. It is another big piece of suburban sprawl promoted by one of Davis’ most aggressive sprawl-builders, Dan Ramos.

DiSC is essentially a greenwashed business park. Business parks are a traditional, much-discredited economic development approach in which cities designate a large area of land on their periphery for whatever commercial development they can manage to attract. These projects are highly motor-vehicle-dependent and undercut efforts to revitalize more centrally located downtown areas.

DiSC materials talk about bike and pedestrian connections, renewable energy, use of native and drought-tolerant species for landscape design, energy-efficient construction, and shuttle buses to downtown. This is greenwashing. These environmentally oriented details are nice (and many are required by existing regulations).

But they aren’t nearly as important as the fact that 1.34 million square feet of new commercial space would be allowed by a freeway exit far from downtown. Approving huge projects that will build out over 20-plus years — almost certainly in different ways than originally envisioned — is just not a good way for a city to move towards sustainability.

Continue reading "DISC is anything but ‘sustainable’" »

Old East Davis Requests Review of the Trackside Project Appellate Decision

Mandala-oednaThe Old East Davis Neighborhood Association (OEDNA) is requesting review by the California Supreme Court of the recent appellate court decision on the Trackside development project, in the case of OEDNA vs. City of Davis.

We are doing this because we believe that the City should be faithful to the plain meaning of its planning and zoning rules, and because we want to preserve the setting and feeling of our historic neighborhood.

By convention, land use policies adopted by a California city can be interpreted by the same city when the policies are applied to specific projects. While this sounds logicalgiving cities flexibility and local controlif understood too broadly, the conventional view could allow a city to reinterpret planning policies in ways that violate their original meaning and intent.

In the Trackside case, the Yolo Superior Court found that the City of Davis overstepped its discretion in approving the project, which does not conform to the City’s land use policies for mass and scale transitions between the downtown core and traditional neighborhoods.

To our dismay, the appeals court reversed the Yolo court’s decision, and in doing so claimed that the City has almost unlimited discretion in the application of its planning policies.

Continue reading "Old East Davis Requests Review of the Trackside Project Appellate Decision" »

Promises Made...Promises Broken!

Broken promisesHow Ongoing Complacency by the Davis City Council Allowed the Bretton Woods Developer to Renege on Many Election Commitments Made to the Voters of Davis

Part 1- A Specious Lawsuit by the Bretton Woods Developer, David Taormino as agent for the Binning Ranch Company LLC,  Forces the University Retirement Community (URC) to Abandon Plans to Construct an Enhanced Memory Care Facility at the Project Site. The Developer Proposes to Alternatively Construct 30 Detached Senior Homes which Seemingly Violates the Supposedly Immutable Voter-Approved Baseline Features of the Project but Which Could Result in Millions Dollars of Additional Profits to the Developer.

By Alan Pryor


This is Part 1 of a planned series of articles discussing how the City Council is approving entitlements for the Bretton Woods project that violate the project's supposedly unchangeable Baseline Features. These Baseline Features were contained in ballot language presented to voters and upon which the voters relied when the project was approved at the polls in November 2018. The approved entitlements also completely change key provisions of Development Agreement between the Developer and the City that was also very prominently presented to the public prior to the vote.

Continue reading "Promises Made...Promises Broken!" »

Four Car Washes Near 80 & Mace?

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

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

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

My concerns are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not the Road to Not Waste Water

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


Communication, Outreach, Process

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


Traffic Risks

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

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

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


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



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

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

Heat Island? Facing South towards Cowell Blvd.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Zoning (and more about process...)

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

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


In Conclusion...

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


Developers deploy paid operatives

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

By Rik Keller

I have provided a graphic illustrative of the corrupt local political environment. [Mr. Keller requested that this graphic be displayed during his comments, but unlike a pro-DiSC comment, his graphic was not displayed].  It shows self-promotional information from the local lobbying firm Spafford & Lincoln. In the bottom right corner you can see that they claim credit for deploying and managing 1,000+ operatives. As some of you may be aware, most of their business is done for the biggest special interest in town: real estate developers.

Developers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on campaigns to try to push their projects down our throats. This money flows through Spafford & Lincoln and then who knows where? There’s no regulation. It’s a dirty money slush fund.

One of their strategies is to pay operatives to call, and to organize other callers who often know nothing about the project, some of whom probably don't even live in Davis. It’s a classic “astroturf” maneuver. Ask yourself: how many times have you experienced these meetings being spammed and being played by these operatives reading from their scripts?

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Why is DiSC back?

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

DISC overview shot

By Roberta Millstein

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

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

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

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

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