Entries categorized "Politics"

Frustration Over Paid Parking Expansions

Paid-parkingNew citizen initiative filed in response

Frustrated by City Hall's insistence on paid parking expansions despite massive popular resistance, friends of downtown and concerned Davisites have filed a citizen's initiative to go on the March 2020 ballot. The proponents of record are Daniel Urazandi and Robert Milbrodt although many people have been involved in drafting the initiative. To become involved yourself come to a campaign organizing meeting at Steve's Pizza 6PM on Thurs June 20.

Public notice from the proponents:

Why an initiative?

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Mace Ranch Innovation Center reborn as Aggie Research Campus

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

By Roberta Millstein

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

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

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

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

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Proposal Triples Size of Homeless Shelter

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

By Colin Walsh 

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

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

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

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Davis Vanguard Fundraiser Post-Mortem

Developers and Council Get Cozy with the Vanguard

By Roberta Millstein, Rik Keller, and Colin Walsh

After having raised concerns about Sunday’s Vanguard fundraiser in a series of articles (most recently here), we thought we should give a quick summary of how it all turned out.

The event was scheduled to begin at 5 PM.  The three of us arrived a bit earlier than that.  Rik ordered a large pizza, which we munched on throughout the event.  We sat just outside of the back area of Lamppost Pizza that had been reserved for the fundraiser. 

Lee-speaking
Mayor Brett Lee speaking

We watched people trickle in and mingle in the designated area.  The event finally got started around 5:30 PM, beginning with David Greenwald speaking.  Mayor Brett Lee spoke immediately afterward.  There was no amplification of their voices and so we couldn’t hear much of what was being said.  According to the Vanguard’s own account, Lee discussed homelessness.  At this point, the only other City Council member in attendance was Dan Carson.

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Criticism of City Council For Ties To Davis Vanguard Continues

14May2019CityCouncilVanguard Defends Council

The following are comments that Roberta Millstein, Colin Walsh, and Rik Keller provided to City Council on Tuesday evening, May 14, during the open citizen comment period (these may not be verbatim as language could have been modified slightly during presentation or cut short due to time constraints).

14May2019GreenwaldIt should be noted that after we again criticized the City Council for their involvement with the Vanguard fundraiser, on Wednesday morning in the Vanguard “premium newsletter” David Greenwald attacked Colin Walsh several times after identifying him as a potential City Council candidate – and then proceeded to defend the current Council, which has three incumbents who may be running for re-election, on a separate issue.

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Davis Hosts Green New Deal Town Hall as Part of Nationwide Mobilization

WHAT:
Community members from Davis and surrounding areas will meet at the UC Davis Art Annex to discuss the ​Green New Deal and how to best address the climate emergency on Saturday, May 25th, from 10am-12pm. The event is one of more than 250 town halls for the Green New Deal taking place all over the country. It hopes to stimulate conversation and action on climate justice in the region.
WHEN:
Saturday May 25, 10 AM - 12 PM
WHERE:
UC Davis Art Annex 107
WHO:
● Sunrise Movement ● Yolo County Progressives ● Sierra Club (Yolano Group) ● UPTE - University Professional and Technical Employees ● YDSA - Young Democratic Socialists of America at UC Davis

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New study challenges Wiener’s approach to housing

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

By Tim Redmond

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

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

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Joe Biden is not the president we need

Progressive-montageIn a recent Davis Enterprise letter to the editor, Laurie Friedman writes that we need “a moderate candidate” for U.S. President, suggesting that “Biden would unify the country as he has broad appeal to blue-collar workers in the Midwest as well as Democrats generally.”

Must we make the same devastating mistake twice?

This was the same song that was sung four years ago for Hillary Clinton. Everyone assumed, against all available evidence, that progressives would turn out for Hillary “because Trump.”  She took their votes for granted as did her fellow centrists. Well, they didn’t show up, and now we have Trump.

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Bad traffic planning from the City

By Dan Cornford.

This city is just hopeless when it comes to traffic and traffic planning! It bases its growth plans (EIRs) on limited and outdated traffic surveys to begin with in order to hide the even worse congestion that will follow when current projects are built out.

The Mace fiasco is just one example of the city's hopeless traffic planning.

A microcosm of this is the situation now with 8th & L street closed (What the heck have they been doing on L street for ages?), and traffic on Covell one lane between F & Pole Line making east-west transit an ordeal with very few alternatives. Why do these same projects at the same time? Why do projects such as the one on the Covell bridge over rail line take an absurdly long time when I suspect that in many countries they could be done in a fraction of the time. Does the city monitor performance, or have late penalties or what?

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Urgent! Act today for CA 857 on Public Banking!

Your short calls can make the difference to get CA 857 through its first Assembly Committees!  This is the public banking bill that does so much good.

Please, this week, all you need to say is: Please support AB 857 the Public Banking bill that will enable California municipalities and counties — and the state as a whole — to charter their own public banks.

Many CA newspapers, the California Public Banking Alliance (https://californiapublicbankingalliance.org/)  and many of our state's local public bank advocacy groups support this bill. 

This week, your phone call can help flood the committee members’ offices to get this bill through these committee hurdles! 

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Extortion in Davis? Not from Measures J/R

Cannery-moneyBy Matt Williams

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

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

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Vanguard and City Council Ethical Challenges Persist

Screen Shot 2019-04-12 at 7.38.01 PMFour (or Five?) Times the Impropriety, Plus Potential Brown Act Violations

By Roberta Millstein and Colin Walsh

On Thursday, the Davisite published an article, “Mayor Brett Lee’s Fundraising for the Davis Vanguard Crosses a Line.”  Since then, the Vanguard has changed the format of its fundraising event to include four of the five members of the Davis City Council.  But this doesn’t make the event better.  The new format makes it worse – at least four times worse.  Plus, with four City Council members in attendance it will be nearly impossible to avoid Brown Act violations. 

First, let’s consider the changes in format and advertising of the Vanguard fundraiser.  The main change, of course, is from one councilmember attending the fundraiser (Brett Lee) to four councilmembers (Lee together with Gloria Partida, Lucas Frerichs, and Dan Carson) attending.  But the Facebook event page was also changed from saying that Lee would “host” the fundraiser to saying that the fundraiser will “feature” the four councilmembers, with Will Arnold (who is pictured in the photo associated with the event; see above) “unable to attend” while “there in spirit.”  It also states that “Each of the speakers will speak briefly and then take questions.”

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Mayor Brett Lee’s Fundraising for the Davis Vanguard Crosses a Line

BrettLeeVanguardFundraiserI like Mayor Brett Lee.  I donated to his campaign.  I endorsed him and put his lawn sign on my lawn.  I voted for him. I haven’t always agreed with his votes on Council, but that’s normal. But now Mayor Lee plans on hosting a fundraiser for the Davis Vanguard next month. This is an ethical breach that is different from a disagreement about policy or process.  Elected officials – especially those who may be running for re-election soon – should not be raising money for purported news outlets, as Mayor Lee is planning on doing for the Vanguard.

It doesn’t help that the Vanguard’s track record is none too clean.  David Greenwald, founder of and primary writer on the Vanguard, has exhibited a lack of journalistic ethics.  The Davis Vanguard is alleged to have participated in a political campaign in violation of its non-profit status; an IRS complaint was filed along with substantiating evidence.  It has developed a reputation for hostile attacks against commenters, forcing repeated changes to its comment policy (most recently to disallow anonymous commenters, although it’s not clear that this change in policy has helped improve the climate for commenters).  And it has failed to follow the Institute for Non-Profit News’s ethical guidelines by failing to be fully transparent about the funding of its news operations, particularly with respect to advertisements from local developers, calling into question its “editorial independence from all revenue sources to ensure news judgments are made in the interest of the communities they serve as journalists.”

Indeed, those very same ethical guidelines for non-profit newsrooms recommend avoiding “accepting donations from government entities, political parties, elected officials or candidates actively seeking public office.”

It’s surprising that Mayor Lee would want to associate himself with the Vanguard given all that improper behavior.  But that’s not the main issue.

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

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

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

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

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Petition to Restore Mace

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

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

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

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Did the Council Listen to Citizens on Parking? Process and Outcome

G-street-and-amtrakYesterday, I wrote an article wondering whether the City Council would listen to citizen’s objections to the downtown parking proposal, drawing attention to a pattern of problematic communication between Davisites and Council.  Last night, they unanimously approved what is being billed as a “compromise” between the proposal and what Davisites wanted (which was, for the most part, no change to what we have currently). 

How did the Council do? 

This being winter grading season at the University, I’ve got grades on my mind.  I give the Council a ‘C+’ for process and a ‘C’ for outcome.

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

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

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

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

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Failings of the Downtown Paid Parking Proposal

E-St-Graph-2By Dan Urazandi

The history of paid parking in Davis has unfolded outside my store window. From here, the center of downtown and the maelstrom of the debate on paid parking, I can see the cause of parking problems and effect of supposed solutions. I can see close to 40 spaces that have been removed over the years—the E st plaza cost 25, three more for the walkway through the lot, three given away to zipcar and uber, two to the crosswalk, at least two to bulb outs, some to bicycle parking in the street, two to the bus stops. This is just on one block. Throughout downtown nearly 100 spaces have been whittled away over the last 20+ years. I use hand count estimates since the city refuses to release hard numbers that would prove they caused the parking shortage. All these losses entailed removing a practical necessity, parking spaces that were being used many times every day, for aesthetic gains that are used far less often by far less people or serve no purpose at all. Now the city wants to tax every space because each is a valuable commodity, but they placed no value on them before wanting to monetize them.

This is the sort of firsthand evidence the Council needs to hear and heed. There are solid reasons why 90% of downtown businesses, customers and employees are opposed to the city's paid parking plan. The 70 businesses that entreated council to stop implementation represent generations of knowledge of how best to serve downtown Davis. The Chamber of Commerce, the vast majority of DDBA members and downtowndavis.org are all against the plan. Business is against metered parking because it deters people from coming and staying downtown, which is bad for business.

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Regarding Chiles Road Apartments / Loss of Commercial Site

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

To Davis City Council:

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

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

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Young Democratic Socialists Hold Launch Party for "College for All" Campaign in Davis

Screen Shot 2019-02-25 at 1.28.17 PM“Public college and universities tuition free? Damn right.” Bernie Sanders , most popular politician in the U.S. [1]

WHAT:

State funding for higher education has declined by 65% in the last four decades, part of a broader gutting of the U.S. public education system. In response, tuition and fees have more than quadrupled in California since 2000 [2]. At UC Davis, 49% of students take out loans during their time in school. These students graduate with an average debt of $19,124 [3].

The YDSA at UC Davis is launching Davis’ College For All campaign on Saturday March 2nd , 2019. The YDSA’s nationwide College for All campaign demands tuition-free public higher education through direct federal and state funding to fully cover living wages of all campus workers, student debt cancellation, ending all forms of government subsidies to for-profit institutions, and democratic representation for students, faculty and staff in all higher education budgeting decisions. Davis’ local YDSA chapter will be working to build a broad coalition with student organizations on campus, as well as working with campus workers in their joint fight against austerity.

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