Entries categorized "Politics"

City-County-UCD 2X2X2 “Town Hall” meeting Thursday Oct. 17th 6:30pm -8pm at Genome Center on UCD campus

This important semi-annual meeting is for updates from the City, County and UCD regarding UCD housing needs and impacts.

(Click to enlarge)

By Eileen Samitz

In case you are one of many who are not aware of this important semi-annual “Town Hall” meeting, there will be a City-County-UCD 2X2X2 meeting tomorrow Thursday, Oct. 17th at the Genome Center on the UCD campus in the first-floor auditorium. One wonders why this community meeting is not more conveniently located in the City as was publicly requested early on; the map attached explains where the Genome Center is. To get to it take Hutchinson Drive and turn south on Health Sciences Drive which will lead to a parking lot (see map above).

Since UCD is imposing enormous housing needs on Davis these meetings for updates are only twice a year so this is an important meeting to attend to give input particularly about the slow progress of any additional on-campus housing being produced and the overall deficiency of how much on-campus housing is being planned. For citizens concerned about the impacts on Davis due to UCD’s lack of on-campus housing for its rapidly growing student population, please attend. Anyone wishing to testify will be given 3 minutes to testify. The agenda can be viewed at:

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League of Women Voters/Civ Energy meeting. Topic: Housing

(From press release) The League of Women Voters Davis Area and CivEnergy are holding an educational meeting on the General Planning process in Davis. It is the first in a series of free, educational forums on housing that are open to the public. The meeting will be held at the New Harmony Mutual Housing Community, 3030 Cowell Boulevard in the Community Room from 6pm to 7:30pm on Wednesday October 16.

This series hopes to begin the discussion on a major community issue: Housing. This includes housing policy, affordability, homelessness and such issues. These events also give the City of Davis residents the opportunity to educate themselves and provide input on the issues above and help steer the housing element of the development of the General Plan update process.

Sign up for a free ticket at Eventbrite.

The League of Women Voters Davis Area was recently restarted in May 2019. They will be accepting donations at this event to offset costs for future educational meetings and forums.

Aggie Research Campus (ARC) Planning Considerations

ARC-map-Oct2019The following memo was sent yesterday to the newly-formed City Council Aggie Research Campus (ARC) subcommittee, composed of Mayor Pro Tem Gloria Partida and Councilmember Dan Carson, with cc's to City Manager Mike Webb, Assistant City Manager Ash Feeney, and Principal Planner Sherri Metzker.

By Greg Rowe

The following comments and suggestions are respectfully offered for your consideration, in the spirit of facilitating a comprehensive evaluation of the proposed ARC project.  The subjects are not arranged in order of priority or importance.  I full acknowledge and recognize, as stated on page 2 of the October 8 City Council report (agenda item 5E), that the project will be scheduled for future commission meetings.  I also concur that, as noted on page 9 of the same report, “In sum, there will be a series of subsequent entitlements at which time more definitive detail will be proposed,” and there is “…the potential for building locations or other features to shift during the final planned development process.”

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City Council makes promises about proposal for business park outside of Mace Curve

ARC-location-overviewGood outcomes in spite of bad process at Council meeting

By Roberta Millstein

As I and others had requested, at Tuesday’s meeting the Council pulled the items concerning the Mace Ranch Innovation Center (MRIC)/Aggie Research Center (ARC) from the Consent Calendar, meaning that there could be a brief presentation, public comment, and discussion and vote from the Council.  Unfortunately, it got personal and unpleasant at times (more on that below).  But there were a number of good outcomes from the meeting.

My main reasons for wanting the items pulled was to let more Davisites know that the City was moving forward with the ARC, to inform people that there was a project description available on the City’s website, and to get more information about what was going to happen moving forward.  Those goals were achieved on Tuesday.

In particular:

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City moving forward on 200 acre business park outside of Mace Curve

Aggie Research Center (formerly, Mace Ranch Innovation Center) on Tuesday’s Council Consent Calendar

Location of proposed ARC, with sunflowers and corn. Picture taken by R. Millstein 9/2019

By Roberta Millstein

Back in June, I noted that developers had asked the City to resume processing their application for a massive ~200 acre business park on prime farmland outside of (i.e., to the east of) the Mace Curve.  Things were mostly quiet over the summer.  Now, with a pair of items on the Tuesday City Council Consent Calendar, the City is moving forward on this application before the project has even been presented publicly. 

The Council agenda notes, “All matters listed under the Consent Calendar are considered routine and non-controversial, require no discussion and are expected to have unanimous Council support and may be enacted by the Council in one motion in the form listed below” (emphasis added).

Item A on the Calendar concerning the so-called “Aggie Research Center” (or ARC; formerly Mace Ranch Innovation Center, or MRIC) authorizes “the City Manager to enter into a contract with Economic and Planning Services (EPS) to prepare an updated study of the market demand assumptions, the economic impact analysis, the fiscal impact analysis, and the financial feasibility analysis and public financing evaluation for the Aggie Research Campus.”  Item E on the Calendar appoints a City Council subcommittee for the project (Partida/Carson).

Yet ARC proposal has not been presented to City (at least not publicly), its Commissions, or its citizens.  The ARC proposal has been modified from the previous one – which was also not fully vetted (see link at the beginning of this article).  Why is the City planning on moving forward with the proposal without discussion and public input?

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City releases election district draft maps

Maps available here. Public input needed!

By Roberta Millstein

Today, the City of Davis released five draft maps for proposed districts for future City Council elections: three 5-district maps and two 7-district maps.  Recall from my previous post that it may be difficult to change the number of districts once the City decides, so that decision itself is as important, if not more important, than the maps themselves.

The maps are below, with their relevant data.  You can click on any image to enlarge it.

Important deadlines are coming soon for the City’s District Election process:

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Irony abounds at Davis City Council meeting: Armored Rescue Vehicle and Communication

ARVIs the City really committed to better communication?

By Roberta Millstein

At its Tuesday meeting, the Davis City Council received a detailed presentation about how the City can improve its communication.  Then the Council immediately threw that information out the window and approved an Armored Rescue Vehicle (ARV).

The presentation on communications was detailed and professional.  Among its recommendations was to make use of City Commissions whose members “are very engaged and are uniquely qualified to help serve as City messengers in the community and disseminate updated information.” The report also outlined many venues through which the City can communicate better with its residents, including communicating with residents that are otherwise difficult to reach.

The Council seemed to receive this presentation positively, asking only a few questions of clarification.

Then late in the meeting – around 10:30 PM – the City began the agenda item to discuss whether the City should acquire an ARV. After a presentation from Chief Pytel, the City took public comment. It was scathing.

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Davis rejected the MRAP - should it buy an ARV instead?

ARVThe following letter was submitted to the Davis City Council by email on September 23, 2019.

Dear Davis City Councilmembers,

I am writing to express my views on Item 09 of September 24th's agenda, concerning the obtainment of an Armored Rescue Vehicle.

After the huge outcry and discussion over the MRAP, I am extremely surprised to see that this is being proposed as a recommended purchase by staff. I would have thought that staff would recognize Davisites' great interest in such issues, and would have scheduled time for discussion and getting citizen input before making a recommendation. I urge you not to make a decision at the Sept 24 meeting but to instead use it to get input and discuss, allowing for further input after the meeting.

In the absence of that discussion, my own view is that the ARV is a MRAP-lite.

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Davisites, it’s time to draw your district maps

Productive Saturday meeting has some surprises

By Roberta Millstein

Yesterday I attended the first half of the Sept 21 Community Workshop on City Council District Elections. There were about 12 Davisites in attendance. 

Paul Mitchell gave a similar presentation to the ones that had he had given at two previous City Council meetings, but with two very positive and welcome changes: not only was there a bit more detail, but also we had the chance to ask him questions and follow-up questions. 

After the presentation, attendees were encouraged to try to draw their own district maps of 5 or 7 districts, using the principles outlined (see here), emphasizing especially the need to have contiguous districts of roughly equal size.  According to the procedure outlined, the demographer will take these maps into consideration when proposing draft maps for citizens and the City Council to look at. 

What follows is an assortment of things that were “news to me” and hopefully will be of interest to other Davisites, concerning: 1) combining North Davis with Wildhorse, 2) precinct-level data vs. census-block level data, 3), the importance of getting the number of districts right, and 4) possible consequences of 2022 re-districting.

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Lack of info on forming districts for new City Council election process

And no response from the demographer hired by the City for requests for that info

By Roberta Millstein

As we’ve posted about previously (see, e.g., here and here), the City of Davis will soon be deciding on districts for City Council elections.  No longer will Davisites vote on 5 councilmembers at large – instead, they will get to vote on one person from their district (with the number of districts still undecided – 5 or 7 are the numbers most discussed).

As part of this process, the City has asked citizens for their input on “communities of interest.”  (Note that worksheets proposing communities of interest are due by tomorrow, Sept 20).  At two City Council meetings, demographer Paul Mitchell presented information to help Davisites make their recommendations (see slides from his presentation here).

While his presentation was excellent and informative, once I took at closer look at the slides, I realized that we were not being given enough information to make informed recommendations.  To show the problem, here is one of Mitchell’s slides showing voting precincts with population numbers:

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Initial Thoughts on the Move to District Elections for the Davis City Council

Neighborhoods-and-precinctsHow to form districts and how many, how to select Mayor

By Roberta Millstein

Last night at its regular meeting, the Davis City Council began the community discussion of how we should move forward with district elections for the Council, the decision to do so having already been made.  No decisions were made and no votes were taken, although some preliminary preferences were expressed by Councilmembers. 

Here are just some quick thoughts of mine after watching the livestream of the meeting from home.  No doubt my views will evolve as the process continues. 

First, if you missed the meeting, I highly recommend watching the presentation from demographer Paul Mitchell; videos from meetings are posted here, slides from his presentation are available here.  It was clear and informative, including explanations of what constitutes a community of interest and the idea of being functionally contiguous.

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  • We acknowledge the happy problem that the capacity of the JDF far exceeds the demand for secure detention of Yolo County juveniles, and that the county’s ongoing operational costs for the facility are high.
  • We know detained youth benefit from personal connections and support from family and community, and therefore access and proximity to these resources is fundamental to their continued well-being.­
  • The current situation places all genders of youth together, which has its risks, but also offers significant benefits, most notably:
    • proximity to family and a very engaged community; and
    • reduced exposure of our Yolo youth to influences, likely found in the Sacramento facility, of other incarcerated youth whose knowledge, experiences, and affiliations may encourage harmful impacts;
    • no contact with adult
  • The current construction to expand and renovate the Yolo County adult jail facilities requires temporary relocation of the adult booking facility, during a construction period of an estimated 18-24 months.
  • The current expansion and renovation will increase adult jail capacity to over 450 beds and improve medical and mental health services at the adult
  • During the past five years youth from under-resourced neighborhoods in Woodland, Knight’s Landing, and West Sacramento have been disproportionately represented among JDF admissions. Most impacted is the Broderick neighborhood of West Sacramento, which has suffered years under a gang injunction, lacks youth programs, and locks its school yards to the public when school is not in session;

THEREFORE, we respectfully request the board act to:

  • Ensure any agreements to place Yolo youth in the Sacramento County JDF are restricted to not more than the time required to complete the Yolo County Jail
  • Provide transportation funding to family and encourage, through economic incentives, community support for visitation at Sacramento JDF during the construction
  • Forgo additional expansion of Yolo County adult incarceration by transferring authority for use of the JDF to the Sheriff. Rather than expand jail capacity, we should seek alternatives to pre-adjudication detention, which currently accounts for a majority of the jail
  • Preserve funding for Reinvest cost savings into meaningful community engagement and youth development resources.
  • Use this time-limited construction period to engage youth, their families, and the impacted communities to work with the Chief Probation Officer to develop recommendations for youth development and alternatives to juvenile detention options in Yolo County and to guide the community engagement

Destruction of mature trees at WDAAC

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

By Greg McPherson and Larry Guenther

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

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

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What Rich Rifkin Doesn’t Understand about Ethnic Studies

Rifkin-ethnic-studiesIn arguing against ethnic studies, he inadvertently demonstrates the need for it.

By Roberta Millstein

When I was in college, I saw little need for Women’s Studies courses.  My thinking was that discussion of important contributions from women should be included throughout the curriculum. 

Some thirty-five years later, they still aren’t.  Neither are the contributions of racial minorities.  Yet some people still sing the same song that I song in college.  They have failed to learn what I  learned the hard way – that change doesn’t just happen on its own, and that sometimes you need what might seem like an imperfect solution in the interim in order to get to the point where you can implement a better solution. 

We need ethnic studies now.  We’re not at the point where we can just integrate the work of racial minorities into the curriculum.  I wish we were there yet, but we’re not.

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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. 

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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