Bicycling, Transportation, and Street Safety Commission needs a DiSC 2022 Subcommittee

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The following letter was emailed to the BTSSC this morning.

Dear members of the Bicycling, Transportation, and Street Safety Commission,

I am writing to you as a former commissioner (10+ years) and Chair of the Open Space and Habitat Commission (OSHC), having completed my term last December. I was involved in analyzing what is now being called the DiSC 2022 project in all of its iterations, so I hope you find my comments helpful in your discussions.

I understand that at your meeting this Thursday, Oct 14, you are only deciding whether to establish a Davis Innovation and Sustainability Center (DiSC) Subcommittee, with the meeting to discuss the project as a commission to come later.  I am writing to strongly urge you to establish a subcommittee now.  The OSHC reviewed the project last week and expressed frustration that there were many issues that they did not have time to discuss; see this report of the meeting.

Given the changes in the project – which you have not been fully presented with, but I believe that they are more extensive than you might imagine – and your commission's thoughtful and considerable recommendations from the last time, a subcommittee is absolutely essential for sorting through all the documents to figure out what has changed and how your recommendations might change as a result. 

I note that your packet for this meeting only includes a two-page description of the project.  The OSHC was given a more extensive project description that you might find helpful; see Attachment 2 of this document.

Here is an example of one large change that the BTSSC might be interested in commenting on and that a subcommittee could consider. The original proposal stated that "DISC will construct a grade-separated bicycle and pedestrian crossing on Mace Boulevard connecting to local and regional trails (see p. 14 of this document).  This was to be a baseline feature, meaning it was a guaranteed part of the project; indeed, the only way to guarantee that a promised feature will be in the actual project is for it to be designated as a baseline feature. 

However, in the current DiSC 2022 proposal, the developer promises only to "acquire and dedicate land to accommodate a future grade-separated bike/ped crossing of Mace Blvd to be located north of the Mace Drainage Channel" (see p. 18 of the document given to the OSHC that I linked to above).  As I read this – and I encourage you to ask the developer about this directly – if the project were to go forward, there may or may not end up being a grade-separated bike/ped crossing of Mace Blvd as part of it, since they are only promising to acquire land to make a crossing possible in the future, and it's not even clear that the acquisition of land is a baseline, i.e. guaranteed, feature.  If I am right, this would be a loss of a significant feature of the project, one that I expect your commission would want to weigh in on.

Again, this is just an example – I imagine that there are other such changes that a subcommittee could find, but that it would be difficult to discover if only one meeting is allocated to the issue, with materials appearing just a few days before.

So again, I urge you to vote now to form a subcommittee, to look at the materials I have provided, and to ask if there are other relevant materials that would help you in your decision making.

Sincerely,

Roberta Millstein


Report from the Open Space & Habitat meeting re: DiSC 2022

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The following was originally posted as a comment in response to the Davisite article Comments to the Open Space & Habitat Commission concerning DiSC 2022 and has been reposted here as an article with permission of the author.

By Ron O

In regard to the Open Space and Habitat Commission meeting last [Monday] night, here are some highlights:

The recommendation (from the article linked above) to request that the northern (approximately) 100 acres be established as agricultural mitigation was not discussed or considered by the commission. Two commenters reiterated this request. (The 100 acres was part of prior proposals.)

The commissioners proceeded to review and edit the recommendations made when the proposal included the northern portion of the site. The developer representative claimed that many of them no longer applied, since the northern site is not part of the current iteration. As a result, the commissioners edited and deleted large sections of the prior recommendations, on-the-spot.

As the meeting approached 9:00 p.m., the chair suggested that a second meeting be held, given the amount of work left to be done. However, several commission members were not able to attend an additional meeting prior to the October 18th deadline set by the council. The chairperson stated that the council put the commission in a "bad place", and stated that she was "very unhappy" about it. The chair stated that they had received the packet for review on the previous Friday afternoon (for this Monday meeting).

Continue reading "Report from the Open Space & Habitat meeting re: DiSC 2022" »


Comments to the Open Space & Habitat Commission concerning DiSC 2022

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The following was emailed to members of the Open Space and Habitat Commission (OSHC) on Sunday.  The OSHC is scheduled to discuss the revised MRIC/ARC/DISC project, now dubbed DiSC 2022, at its Monday Oct 4 meeting.  If you wish to comment on the project yourself, see instructions on the agenda for the meeting, located here.

Dear members of the Open Space and Habitat Commission,

I am writing to you as a former commissioner (10+ years) and Chair of the OSHC, having completed my term last December. I was involved in analyzing what is now being called the DiSC 2022 project in all of iterations, so I hope you find my comments helpful in your discussions.

To begin, I am pleased to see in the minutes from your last meeting the following: "[Ms. Reynolds] said the Commission also had the option of agendizing the Addendum to the project's Environmental Impact Report ("EIR") later this year if the Commission wanted to provide comments on the Addendum to the EIR. That meeting would have to happen before December when the project is scheduled to go before the Planning Commission, she said." I strongly urge you to do this. The OSHC has a history of productively discussing and giving comments on EIRs, as it did with earlier versions of DISC as well as Nishi and other projects, with the comments thoughtfully crafted from the Commission carrying more weight than comments from individual members. For example, you might wish to ensure that the biological surveys have been properly updated and that greater awareness of approaches to climate change are being taken into account, such as the lost opportunity for regenerative agriculture on the property if the project is built.

Another important piece of background: in the last iteration of the project, the developer kept insisting that Mace 25 was not part of project, even though it clearly was. This led to mistrust in the community. Because of that mistrust, people are now concerned that this smaller project without Mace 25 is just a foot in the door for the already rejected larger project to come later. I urge you to recommend that the developer state, as a sign of good faith, that this is not their intention — designating the ~100 acres to the north of the project as ag mitigation would be the clearest way to do that.

The rest of my remarks will focus on the Staff Report and related attachments, located online here.

Continue reading "Comments to the Open Space & Habitat Commission concerning DiSC 2022" »


Valley Clean Energy Begins Receiving Electricity From Large Central Valley Solar Project

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Installation of solar panels at the Aquamarine Solar Facility in Kings County, CA, 2021

(From press release) Valley Clean Energy (VCE) announced that it is now receiving power from a new solar park located in Kings County, CA. VCE signed a 15-year contract to purchase 50 megawatts (MW) of renewable power with Aquamarine Westside, LLC’s 250MW Solar project. This contract will replace current short-term power contracts, allowing VCE to deliver higher levels of renewable power at competitive prices.

The Aquamarine project is located in CIM Group’s Westlands Solar Park, a master-planned clean energy park with over 2GW of solar production potential.

Continue reading "Valley Clean Energy Begins Receiving Electricity From Large Central Valley Solar Project" »


Soroptimists offer cash grants to women

LYD Flyer 2021(From press release) Women who serve as the primary wage earners for their families and seek financial assistance to further their education or training are encouraged to apply for the Soroptimist Live Your Dream: Education and Training Awards for Women.

The application deadline is Monday, Nov. 15. This year, Soroptimist International of Davis will present several awards, ranging from $1,000 to $4,000. The top recipient’s application will advance to regional and possibly the international level, where she could receive up to $15,000 more. Recipients may use the Live Your Dream Award to offset any costs associated with their efforts to attain higher education or additional skills and training. This may include tuition, books, childcare, transportation or other education-related expenses.

Applications are available at https://bit.ly/LYDA-apply.

The Live Your Dream Award provides more than $2.8 million in cash awards to head-of-household women in need each year. Since the program’s inception in 1972, more than $35 million has helped tens of thousands of women achieve their dreams of a better life for themselves and their families.

A study conducted by The Fels Institute of Government, a research and consulting organization based at the University of Pennsylvania, confirmed the efficacy and impact of this program. It improves the recipients’ quality of life; builds their confidence; strengthens their self-determination and makes them want to, in turn, help others. Helping women in this way has the demonstrated effect of leading to stronger communities, nations, and the world.

Besides the Live Your Dream Award, Soroptimist International of Davis provides local girls with tools to achieve their education and career goals through its Dream It, Be It: Career Support for Girls program at King High School. It also funds high school scholarships, annual grants to nonprofits that align with the Soroptimist mission, and anti-trafficking efforts.

Soroptimist is a global volunteer organization that provides women and girls with access to the education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment. It was founded in Oakland in 1921, and is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Soroptimist International of Davis was chartered in 1954. Local members join some 75,000 Soroptimists in 122 countries and territories to contribute time and financial support to community-based projects benefiting women and girls. Its core values are gender equality, empowerment, education, diversity and fellowship.

SI Davis members are meeting virtually. Learn more at https://www.sidavis.org/.


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

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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

 

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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...

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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.

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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.

 

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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.


Please Re-Open G Street

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By Adele Shaw

I’m sharing this letter with people in Davis who might not be aware that retail businesses on G Street are suffering from the street closure.

I’m an artist and one of 65 local artist/owners of The Artery Gallery located at 207 G Street. When the City issued “Temporary Use Permits” (TUP) and closed G Street, we supported it. But as an unsupervised, unkempt bacchanal unfolded we began to look forward to G Street’s re-opening.

The original re-opening date of August 5th came and went. No information came from the City of Davis as the closure was extended without a word to affected businesses. Today, our customers continue to rant with frustration over the street closure’s unkempt conditions and filth.

A permanent closure of the street will likely cause the death of many of the non-restaurant businesses on G Street.  The city issued TUP’s during “emergency” times but they’ve created another emergency all together- an inequitable restaurant takeover on G Street. It may look like a party when you’re picking up a pizza or having a beer, but it’s not an equitable, harmonious party.

Non-restaurant businesses on the 200 block of G Street outnumber the restaurants more than 2:1 (24 retail, consulting or other businesses to 11 restaurants). Yet the retail, consulting and other businesses on G Street continue to suffer. We’re experiencing diminished income and are losing customers because of the street closure. I expect this will get worse as the winter comes.

I wonder what’s the purpose of closing G Street?

Is it a thoroughfare for pedestrians from one place to another? No.

Does it provide pedestrian access a particular destination? No.

Is it part of a multi-modal urban network to develop and foster a downtown core with flourishing businesses of all kinds? No.

Continue reading "Please Re-Open G Street" »


Farmers market vendors, staff resolve to mask up

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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.


Hiding the DISC 2022 EIR update

DISC2022 Secret2 Comments to City Council on 9/22/2021 regarding the DISC 2020 EIR process

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Dear members of the Davis City Council,

I would like to object to the way the City is doing business in relation to the DISC EIR.

On the consent calendar of tonight’s agenda is a staff report detailing the actions taken by the City Manager while the council was in recess. Buried on the last page is a single line item disclosing that the City Manager approved almost $100,000 for an addendum to the EIR for the DISC project.

Previously, approval of this type of contract was done by council and the staff report revealed important information to the public about the EIR process. Several of us objected at that time that it was not enough information, and this time around we have even less information. The City should not advance the EIR of a major project like this - in secretive ways.

Further an addendum is not appropriate because there are significant new factors that have not been considered by the previous EIR.

  1. There are changed circumstances due to COVID and how office space is used. This must be analyzed in the new EIR.
  2. The new project has a much Higher proportion of the project dedicated to freeway adjacent retail. This is likely to have larger impacts on the downtown and must be studied. 
  3. The previous biological surveys are now outdated and need to be redone.
  4. Further revelations about the severity of climate change and how that will affect the project both in terms of adaptation and mitigation should also be considered in an update to the EIR.

Therefore, I also call on the Council to set a public scoping meeting for the new EIR immediately.

Please  ask that this item be pulled from the consent calendar and instruct the City Manager to immediately make the contract with Raney and outline of work be made public.

Thank you for your Consideration,

Colin Walsh

 

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Roberta Millstein, Consent calendar, item 4 D

Buried in this item is a line of a spreadsheet showing that the City manager approved payment to Raney Planning & Management to prepare a CEQA addendum for the new DISC 2022.

Two years ago, this approval was its own consent item, with documentation supporting the recommendation, and it had to be pulled from consent at the request of citizens.  Two years ago, staff originally thought an addendum to the previous EIR would be sufficient.  Then they said a supplement would be required – a higher level of analysis.  Some of us objected this still wasn’t enough.  Then they ended up needed to do hundreds of pages of a more detailed Subsequent EIR. 

It seems like the same mistakes keeping being repeated – at the last meeting, I and others highlighted the rushed process for DISC 2022 with not enough commission input, and now again with both old and new DISC we have a truncated EIR process without enough justification and transparency for the proposal to do just an addendum.

We still haven’t been given much information about this project, yet we are being told again that an addendum to the EIR will be enough.  The pandemic makes everything uncertain, particularly traffic and office occupancy.  They will need to figure out a way to project for that.  Downtown businesses are even more financially precarious and so the impact to them needs to be reconsidered.  And of course the biological surveys need to be redone, particularly for sensitive species such as the burrowing owl and various bat species.  Finally, the impacts of drought, fire, and smoke in our area due to climate change have become evident; these must be re-evaluated as well, especially in light of the loss of potentially mitigating agricultural land and increased traffic.

I request that this item be pulled from the consent and that the City manager be instructed to immediately make public the contract with Raney and outline of work to be performed.

I further request a public scoping period, including a public scoping meeting, on the updated EIR.

Thank you.


Davis is Home of Northern California's Zombie Bike Ride!

Graphic(From press release) On Sunday, October 31st between 12pm–3pm ride along the Davis Bike Loop and encounter Zombies, brought to you by The Davis Odd Fellows Lodge, The Bike Campaign and nearly 70 sponsors, collaborators and media partners!

DancersWe are delighted to be partnered with Bike City Theatre Company and their team of sketch writers, directors and actors to provide an unforgettable experience! Join us for fun, laughs, photo ops, and a Mirror Image Dance Company Thriller performance!

SkydivingTHAT'S NOT ALL – Watch zombies fall from the sky, compliments of Skydance Skydiving (details to come)! Finally, join our after party in downtown Davis at Davis Common, at 500 1st Street, where attendees can enjoy a live DJ as well as a fantastic array of food, drink and dessert options from 3:30-5:30pm. Then it is time for the kids to trick-or-treat ? at dozens of downtown businesses!

There are NO ADMISSION FEES. This is a FREE community event. There is no starting or ending point for the bike ride. Riders can hop on the Davis Bike Loop at any location and ride in either direction. Details on Skydance Skydiving's zombie skydiving performance to come.

Continue reading "Davis is Home of Northern California's Zombie Bike Ride!" »


Letter & motion from Tree Commission concerning Sutter tree cutting

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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


Sutter Tree Removal Sets Terrible Precedent

Sutter lotA letter to the Davis City Council from Don Shor

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To the members of the Davis City Council,

This letter is in support of the appeal by Alan Hirsch of the tree removal permit, issued for Sutter Health, for the removal of 63 trees in order to make room for the installation of solar panels in their parking lot.

My concerns are about the process, the city’s overall policy for tree conservation, the efficacy of the mitigation proposed, failure to account for the value and many intangible benefits of trees, and the disturbing precedent of valuing solar panels over trees.

We need a discussion of the city’s commitment to an adequate and sustained urban tree canopy, clarity about which commissions would be best for actual oversight on an advisory basis, and how the process of removing large numbers of trees should be evaluated by staff, commissions, and the council.

Process.

I do not fault the city staff for this. These are policy issues that have been brought to the fore by the sheer number of trees being removed via a single application. There should be some threshold at which a removal that affects the city’s urban forest to this extent is not simply done by administrative review.

Mitigation.

The proposed mitigation needs to be evaluated by tree professionals. The recommendation by the NRC that the mature trees be moved reflects this lack of expert input. It is unlikely to succeed and would be a misdirection of resources.

Better planting of their entire parking area would be a better use of funds if it were done correctly. That includes new trees to shade as much asphalt as possible, with consideration given to the reduced options due to the presence of solar panels and shading issues. More open soil areas are needed to improve infiltration of natural rainfall and allow successful root development. Climate-ready landscaping should be installed wherever trees can’t be planted.

In fact, the city’s overall tree removal mitigation strategy needs to be evaluated with a particular emphasis on parking lots, both because they are especially important for urban heat island effect and because few, if any, of the parking lots in Davis meet the city’s 50% shading requirement.

Continue reading "Sutter Tree Removal Sets Terrible Precedent" »


A rare compilation of photographs and images of the historic Davis Arch

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Davis Arch image

(From press release) Enjoy a rare compilation of photographs and images of the historic Davis Arch. When scrolling through the images, please pay attention to the captions for each.

Included below is a brief history of the creation and ultimately the destruction of the Davis Arch that includes the establishment of the Chamber of Commerce and the Women's Improvement Club. It is interesting to note that the Chamber still puts on occasional cleanup days, a tradition as old as the chamber itself.

See the individual photo captions to learn more about the rise and fall of the arch as well as its revival in multiple murals and other media.

An excerpt from "Davisville '68 The History and Heritage of the City of Davis":

Continue reading "A rare compilation of photographs and images of the historic Davis Arch" »


Part 2 - Déjà Vu – Council and Staff Collude to Limit Review of the DISC 2022 Project by the City's Advisory Commissions...Again!!

Staff's and Council's Current Scheme to Limit Analysis and Input from the Commissions include Artificial, Arbitrary Deadlines Imposed on Citizen Advisory Commissions.

By Alan Pryor

Introduction

Readers will remember one of the primary complaints surrounding DISC 1.0 on the November 2020 ballot as Measure B was that the Commissions were intentionally and systematically excluded from fully participating in the review of the project through scheduling manipulations imposed by City Staff with Council approval. It appears that history is repeating itself which is the subject of this series of articles. Part 1 of the series (see https://www.davisite.org/2021/09/d%C3%A9j%C3%A0-vu-council-and-staff-collude-to-limit-review-of-the-disc-2022-project-by-the-citys-advisory-com.html) discussed the history of City Staff and Council ignoring input by both the Advisory Commissions and the public in many other important City matters.

This Part 2 in the series discusses the recent Council decision that greatly limits Citizen Advisory Commission input and recommendations for Baseline Features for the newly proposed DISC 2022 project now heading for the June 2022 ballot in Davis. The article is a detailed examination of the means by which the City Council and Staff are intending to again limit analysis and input from the Commissions by hamstringing the Commissions' ability to hold multiple meetings to review the DISC 2022 project.

Continue reading "Part 2 - Déjà Vu – Council and Staff Collude to Limit Review of the DISC 2022 Project by the City's Advisory Commissions...Again!!" »


Déjà Vu – Council and Staff Collude to Limit Review of the DISC 2022 Project by the City's Advisory Commissions...Again!!

Part 1 – A History of Staff and Council Circumventing or Ignoring Citizen Advisory Commissions in Davis

by Alan Pryor, Former NRC Commissioner

Introduction

This is Part 1 in a series discussing the recent Council decision that greatly limits Citizen Advisory Commission input and recommendations for Baseline Features for the newly proposed DISC 2022 project now heading for the June 2022 ballot in Davis. Readers will remember one of the primary complaints surrounding DISC 1.0 on the November 2020 ballot as Measure B was that the Commissions were intentionally and systematically excluded from fully participating in the review of the project through scheduling manipulations imposed by City Staff with Council approval. It appears that history is repeating itself.

This Part 1 in the series will discuss the history of City Staff and Council ignoring input by both the Advisory Commissions and the public in many other important City matters. It will be followed in Part 2 by a detailed examination of the means and schemes by which Staff and Council similarly intend to limit Commission review and input in processing of the DISC 2022 project.

Background

Francesca Wright, a founding member of Yolo People Power, had a scathing editorial in Tuesday’s Davisite concerning the City Council 's continued failure to meaningfully address police reform in Davis over the year (see https://www.davisite.org/2021/09/wanted-leadership-substance-on-public-safety-not-spin.html). Ms. Wright claimed this failure is still occurring despite unanimous approval of a 9-point plan for reform presented to Council by 3 different citizen Advisory Commissions and a petition signed by over 800 citizens calling for immediate action on the Commission recommendations. Said Ms. Wright about these failures,

It has been over a year that community members have been asking City Council to create meaningful structural change in how we address public safety. We have marched. We have sent public comments to City Council meetings. We have analyzed local police traffic stop and crime data, researched the underpinnings of public safety as well as examples of effective public safety practices.

...We have met individually with each council member. Over 800 people signed an open letter to the Council. Three council-appointed commissions unanimously supported nine recommendations on public safety.

...This may be the most public pressure exerted on any council in the 23 years I have lived in Davis California. And after all of this, how has the current city council responded? … they have not advanced Davis’ vision. This is not leadership. This is maintenance of the status quo.  To have meaningful change we need effective visionary leadership.

This is reminiscent of Staff and Council behavior in ignoring Commission and public input in many other important but questionable decisions unilaterally made by Staff and Council over the past several years and calls into question whose interests they are really representing behind the dais.

Continue reading "Déjà Vu – Council and Staff Collude to Limit Review of the DISC 2022 Project by the City's Advisory Commissions...Again!!" »


Wanted – Leadership Substance on Public Safety, Not Spin

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By Francesca Wright

It has been over a year that community members have been asking City Council to create meaningful structural change in how we address public safety. We have marched. We have sent public comments to City Council meetings. We have analyzed local police traffic stop and crime data, researched the underpinnings of public safety as well as examples of effective public safety practices.

We have sent petitions. We have met individually with each council member. Over 800 people signed an open letter to the Council. Three council-appointed commissions unanimously supported nine recommendations on public safety.

Our former Mayor offered a road map of how to create a Department of Public Safety that could position the City of Davis to become a leader in evidence-based prevention and early intervention.

This may be the most public pressure exerted on any council in the 23 years I have lived in Davis California. And after all of this, how has the current city council responded?

We have witnessed performative rhetoric, an increased police budget, and the most modest changes possible. All while numerous other cities are taking progressive steps forward, the very kind we’ve been urging the City of Davis to take. Our “fair city” is falling farther behind the curve.

Continue reading "Wanted – Leadership Substance on Public Safety, Not Spin" »


Sudwerk named top U.S. Brewery & Brewer of the Year

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Sudwerk won gold medals at the 2021 Great American Beer Festival for The People’s Pilsner and Backyard Hero American Lager. It also won Brewery & Brewer of the Year (Courtesy photo)

(From press release) Sudwerk Brewing Co. of Davis won the coveted Brewery & Brewer of the Year award ­– and two gold medals – at the 2021 Great American Beer Festival.

Put on by the Brewers Association, the 35th GABF, which concluded Friday, Sept. 10 in Denver, is the most competitive beer contest in the nation. The 2021 event included 9,680 entries from 2,192 breweries representing all 50 states plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. For the second year in a row, the festival portion of the event was canceled due to COVID-19.

Sudwerk won gold for The People’s Pilsner, out of 161 entries in the Bohemian-Style Pilsner category. The Davis brewery also earned gold in the Contemporary American-Style Lager category, for its Backyard Hero American Lager, out of 63 entries. Sudwerk head brewer Thomas Stull and the brewing team were named best brewer of the year.

Sudwerk is one of the most award-winning breweries in the Sacramento region. Most recently, Märzen Amber Lager won a gold in the same contest in 2019, and a silver in 2018. The People’s Pilsner won a bronze in 2019. Sudwerk chose not to enter the 2020 contest because of the strain of the pandemic.

Continue reading "Sudwerk named top U.S. Brewery & Brewer of the Year" »


DISC is back… and so is bad process

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Staff and City Council favor developer interests over citizen input

By Roberta Millstein

This past Tuesday (Sept 7), the City Council formally set in motion the process to evaluate the twice-reborn industrial park/hotel complex on prime farmland outside the Mace curve, now dubbed DISC 2022. Readers will recall that this project was handily defeated at the polls less than a year ago. Now it is back again with half the acreage, fewer amenities, and a smaller proportion devoted to revenue-generating commercial uses. 

Also back again is staff acquiescing to the developer's extremely short requested timeline. 

There have been some improvements in process this time around. The project was made a regular agenda item, allowing for greater citizen awareness and discussion, though apparently a number of people were still caught by surprise. And all of the relevant commissions are scheduled to be consulted from the outset, something that citizens had to fight for the last time. 

However, staff's Tuesday proposal was that each commission can only evaluate the project once. Why? The developer wants this on the ballot by June 2022 and staff wants to comply with that, stating there is not enough time for commissions to have more than one meeting concerning the proposal. Why do they want to go along with the developer?  Well, you will have to ask them, but it is certainly not a timeline that favors citizen input, remembering that commissions are intended to be a conduit for citizens to give feedback to the City.

Continue reading "DISC is back… and so is bad process " »


Seeds of Justice lecture and workshop series

(From press release) What is our responsibility as people who live, work, or worship in Davis to the original inhabitants of this land? What is the legacy of environmental racism? How can we heal and repair the harm? These and other critical questions guide a new educational opportunity being offered to the community this fall.

The Episcopal Church of St. Martin will bring a series of lectures and workshops, Seeds of Justice, to Davis to highlight the work of scholars and cultural practitioners in this region - the ancestral homeland of the Patwin-Wintun people.

St. Martin’s developed the Seeds of Justice program to understand the racialized history of the land here in the epicenter of gold, greed and genocide. Through storytelling, discussions and hands-on workshops, participants will study the resistance and resilience of Native Californians to the ongoing social and environmental impacts of settlers in this region.

“We hope this will be a safe, honest and transformative space for our community to grapple with the legacy of injustice to this land and her people,” said Ann Liu, Chair of St. Martin’s Care for God’s Creation Committee. “Everyone is invited to come and learn with an open heart and mind.”

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We need critical thinking from our City Council on climate change

By Mike Corbett

Given an understanding of what’s in the recent IPCC 6th report what would you expect a rational city council to do in response? Humans evolved because of our critical thinking abilities. So if a current city council possessed those abilities what would they be doing right now?

 You would expect them to convene a special meeting so the city could begin taking urgent steps to stop greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere as well as steps to sequester carbon from the atmosphere. They would make it a priority for their staff and commissions to find ways to take immediate steps to accomplish these crucial actions. 

 Since the Davis City Council declared a climate emergency two and a half years ago, little has been done. And as we approach the completion of the current climate action plan (CAP), our City's approach seems to be falling far short of what it should be. The recent survey of our citizens has revealed a very weak City understanding of all our options and what we should be doing today.  We need to employ more critical thinking.

 Critical thinking must first address the ability to find the most important thing or issue to focus on in any given moment or situation, from personal choices to issues within the global realm.  Additionally, critical thinking must start with the work of understanding a problem’s core by analyzing its depth and breadth. That means understanding the full context around the issue (in this case the IPCC report), and that means looking past biases or views that obscure the core of the problem.

Continue reading "We need critical thinking from our City Council on climate change" »