Entries categorized "Politics"

City Council Should Heed Planning Commission’s University Mall Recommendation

Screen Shot 2020-07-09 at 2.54.07 PMBy Greg Rowe

Some Davis residents have publicly questioned the planning commission’s May 27 unanimous rejection of the University Commons redevelopment proposal.  After carefully evaluating this project for 18 months, I suggest that decision reflects the community’s expectation that the commission will uphold good land use practices and support neighborhood integrity.   

Instead of simply modernizing University Mall, the owner (Brixmor) wants to convert it to a large student housing complex with retail, offices and other features to purportedly serve community needs.  Brixmor’s March 2018 application included 174 housing units comprising 552 bedrooms within 208,606 square feet (sf). But 8 months later when the city issued an EIR “Notice of Preparation” (NOP), the apartments had increased by 90 units and almost doubled in area to 412,000 sf with 894 beds. There was no explanation for this increase.  

The NOP said the 264 apartments would consist of 66 one-bedroom units, 104 two-bedrooms, 28 three-bedrooms, and 66 four-bedroom units (25%), focused on student bed rentals. But as I explained at the May hearing, a 2019 survey of Davis apartment complexes revealed that 76% of surveyed units have only 1 or 2 bedrooms. Units with 4 or more bedrooms comprise just 6% of surveyed apartments, compared to the 25% sought for University Commons. These factors clearly reveal Brixmor’s intent to exclusively cater to student renters because families are better served by conventional apartments.

Continue reading "City Council Should Heed Planning Commission’s University Mall Recommendation" »

David Taormino and Bretton Woods Are Attempting a "Bait-and-Switch" with the Davis-Based Buyers Program

by Alan Pryor


David Taormino, the developer of the Bretton Woods senior housing development just west of Sutter Hospital, is trying to pull another fast one on the City of Davis' senior population. Taormino just proposed, and City Staff supports, that the Davis-Based Buyers Program be rescinded from the signed Development Agreement for the Project that already exists between him and the City. This local senior-preferential buying program reserved 90% of the 560 new homes in the project for seniors that have a pre-existing connection to the City of Davis. It promised that the project would be for local or Davis-connected seniors and not just a high-end enclave for rich retirees fleeing from the Bay Area.

This requirement to preferentially sell to existing Davis seniors was widely promoted and promised to voters in actual ballot language when the project was approved in the November, 2018 general election (then known as the West Davis Active Adult Community). Well, after Taormino and all his lawyers and the Davis City Council all loudly and adamantly proclaimed the project was definitely and undeniably legal in all respects, now David Taormino claims he has new "concerns" about the legality of the program and he wants to rescind it and its promises to Davis seniors. There has been no new legal opinion or justification provided by Mr. Taormino to substantiate this newfound concern.

Of course the real reason that Taormino has this newfound concern for the law is that he realizes that by selling his new homes to wealthier Bay Area expatriates instead of the local senior voters he so ardently-courted (but who have far less home equity in their existing homes), Mr. Taormino can probably get an extra 10 - 15% or more for each home he sells to out-of-towners. And he can market the homes to a whole lot more people than he would if otherwise restricted to Davis. 

But Taormino heavily sold this project directly to Davis senior voters by promising them that this project would be just for them and not cater to Bay Area transplants. He even collected hundreds and hundreds of names and email addresses of senior voters by claiming he was putting them on a buyers "waiting list" for the new homes and then proceeded to bombard them with campaign literature in the guise of project "updates" throughout the election campaign.

This whole bait and switch process is fundamentally dishonest and reprehensible. And for City Staff to recommend that Taormino be allowed to remove this obligation from the Development Agreement while getting really noting of substance in return, it shows City Staff is once again willing to play ball accommodating developers without regard to what is best for the City and, in this case, its senior residents.

Continue reading "David Taormino and Bretton Woods Are Attempting a "Bait-and-Switch" with the Davis-Based Buyers Program" »

Letter from Davis faith leaders opposing the changes in regulations on seeking asylum in the U.S.

To Whom It May Concern:

As faith leaders in Davis, CA, we strongly oppose the changes in regulations on seeking asylum in the United States being proposed by the Department of Homeland Security and the Executive Office for Immigration Review of the Department of Justice.   These proposals would effectively end our asylum system, block protection for people and families fleeing from persecution, and reverse decades of U.S. and International Law.  The changes would restrict the number of those admitted to the US, apparently on the unfair basis of wealth and status.  Thus, those with the means to fly into the US would not be affected if their flight was non-stop or only had one stop in another country.  However, those who have passed by land through two countries would automatically be barred.

The new proposed rule is long and complicated; however, a few of its new restrictions are particularly disturbing.  It would eliminate gender-based claims for asylum.  Women and LGBTQ asylum seekers would be disproportionately affected by this change. Not only would women be unable to seek asylum based on their experiences of extreme domestic violence, but even women fleeing sex slavery at the hands of terrorist groups could be denied.

Continue reading "Letter from Davis faith leaders opposing the changes in regulations on seeking asylum in the U.S." »

Is the Proposed Davis Innovation and Sustainability Campus a Land-Use Dinosaur Before It is Even Approved to be Put on the Ballot?

Is it a "Field of Schemes"?

FieldofschemesBy Alan Pryor


The COVID-pandemic has accelerated and likely made permanent huge increases in home-based, work-related remote telecommuting. This trend would dramatically decrease office space needs in sprawling business parks like the proposed Davis Innovation and Sustainability Center (DISC) (formerly known as the Aggie Research Campus (ARC), and before that, as Mace Ranch Innovation Center (MRIC)).

In turn, this reduced demand for office space will drastically decrease rental income from such large office developments. Because property valuations are strongly based on rental income, reduced rents will reduce property valuations which will, in turn, reduce property tax income to the City. And if such property tax income is sufficiently depressed in the future and exceeds the costs to the City of providing essential services to residents and business park tenants, the DISC project could turn into a net drain on City coffers.

Continue reading "Is the Proposed Davis Innovation and Sustainability Campus a Land-Use Dinosaur Before It is Even Approved to be Put on the Ballot?" »

Effects of Increases in City of Davis Employee Compensation from 2011 to 2018 on the City's Current Budget Crisis

Effects of Increases in City of Davis Employee Compensation from 2011 to 2018 on the City's Current Budget Crisis

by Alan Pryor


The actual average increase in total annual compensation (Pay and Benefits) for City of Davis full-time, year-round (FT) employees has been 5.9% each year from 2011 through 2018. This is more than twice the average annual rate of inflation of 2.8% during the same period as determined by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics for Bay Area Urban Wage Earners & Clerical Workers. The actual average increase in salary without benefits (Pay) has been 4.5%.

The actual average annual total Pay and Benefits paid to City of Davis FT employees in 2018 was $144,115.  Compare that to the average annual total Pay and Benefits of $118, 640 that would have alternatively been paid in 2018 if annual increases in total compensation had instead been held to the annual CPI increases since 2011.

Similarly, the actual average annual Pay (without Benefits) paid to City of Davis FT employees in 2018 was $97,834.  Compare that to the actual average annual Pay of $88,324 that would have been paid to FT employees in 2018 if annual increases in payroll-only compensation had instead been held to the annual CPI increases since 2011

For comparison, median earnings for FT private sector workers in Davis was $63,125 in 2018. City employees thus received an average 55% greater Pay ($97,834/$63,125) and 128% more in Pay and Benefits ($144,115/$63,125) than FT private-sector workers in 2018.

The annual differences between the actual total Pay and Benefits paid by the City to all FT employees from 2012 through 2018 and that which would have been paid if annual increases had instead been held to the CPI is very substantial and ranges from $3.645 Million in 2015 to $7.668 Million in 2018. On a cumulative basis, the City has paid in excess of $34 Million more to FT employees in Pay and Benefits from 2012 through 2018 had annual payroll increases otherwise been held to increases based on CPI. 

That additional money could have been very beneficially used in the intervening years to resurface many additional miles of the Davis streets and bike paths in most need of repair while still providing adequate annual increases in employee compensation to match inflationary pressures on their costs of living.

Continue reading "Effects of Increases in City of Davis Employee Compensation from 2011 to 2018 on the City's Current Budget Crisis " »

Yolo Democratic Socialists of America Night School: Understanding Capitalism

YoloDemocraticSocialistsOfAmerica(From press release) The newly-formed, fledgling Yolo Democratic Socialists of America is hosting its first ever Night School on Tuesday, April 28th at 6:30pm and we’d like you to join us! This is a reading group and political education initiative composed of Yolo community members. Our first discussion will be based on a short reading from “The ABCs of Capitalism” by Jacobin writer Vivek Chibber. We’ll discuss key concepts of political economy and relate theory to action in the real world, informing our strategies for collective action and transformational change.

Yolo DSA is radically inclusive. Anyone from any background can participate at no cost, as often or as little as they like. Which is to say, we really hope that if you’re interested you’ll be there! You can sign up at tinyurl.com/yolodsasubscribe or check out our Facebook page for more information.

Responding to Lee-Carson OpEd on BrightNight Solar Deal

Brightnight-greatdealBy Matt Williams

The commentary by Mayor Lee and Councilmember Carson in the Sunday Enterprise really does not address the core concerns that have consistently been raised by the community. In summary, those concerns are that the city used a non-competitive process which resulted in a low-offer and thus left money on the table while failing to go through a full public process that might have identified deficiencies in the offer by BrightNight.

After reading the Lee-Carson OpEd, I (and I'm sure many others) now have one additional major concern ... that it does not appear that the Council Majority has actually listened to the Public Comment voicemails, or actually read the Public Comment e-mails they have received.

Continue reading "Responding to Lee-Carson OpEd on BrightNight Solar Deal" »

Announcement for virtual watch party of "The Shock Doctrine"

Shockdoctrine-01While Americans worry about their health and how to pay rent, the Trump administration is giving corporations huge no-strings-attached bailouts and slashing environmental protections. What Naomi Klein calls "The Shock Doctrine" is in full effect: crises are exploited to push forward radical free-market policies that enrich the 1% at the expense of the working class. According to Klein, this is just the beginning. How do we prepare ourselves for what's next? What lessons can we learn from history? Most importantly, what is the positive vision for the future?

These questions are answered in the documentary based on Naomi Klein's book "The Shock Doctrine". Join the Yolo Democratic Socialists of America for a virtual watch party and discussion - our very FIRST event! Sign up here: http://tinyurl.com/yoloshock. All are welcome!

Did Our City Council Just Agree to the Absolute Worst Deal in the City's History?

Cfe371da68ff6f4005d6e0b94b79fd20By Alan Pryor

Over $121,000,000 may have been left on the table when Council approved a secretive, closed-door no-bid, 54-year land lease option and agreement for a photovoltaic system on 235-acres of City-owned land.

How many miles of Street and Bike Path repairs per year would $121 million pay for? What was Staff and Council thinking ??? 

Continue reading "Did Our City Council Just Agree to the Absolute Worst Deal in the City's History?" »

Davis City Staff Wants Council to Approve Two Fire Station Kitchen Remodel Projects for a Minimum of $422,000

Over $200,000 each for Kitchen Remodels During these Disastrous Times? - You Have Got to be Kidding Me !!!

Fire-dept-kitchenBy Alan Pryor

Davis and the entire world are in the midst of an economic meltdown for which nobody has a clue when it will end. Locally, Davis will be hardest hit by the huge loss of the transient occupancy tax (TOT) collected by our now near empty hotels and motels and the plummeting sales tax caused by the collapse of retail and auto sales. This will cost the City many millions in lost tax revenue just as the City's revenue needs will likely surge due to humanitarian costs.

Yet in the midst of this obvious economic calamity and according to a Consent Calendar item on this coming Tuesday's Council meeting agenda, Staff is asking Council for approval to spend another $43,000 on local architects Indigo | Hammond + Playle Architects (Indigo Hammond) for design/engineering of heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC) system upgrades and disability access improvements as part of the planned complete remodels of two kitchens in Fire Stations 31 and 32 in Davis. The two kitchen remodels are expected to cost over $422,000 for the remodels and this may not even include the additional costs for HVAC system upgrades and disability access improvements at one of the fire stations.

But get this, the kitchens are reportedly working fine right now!

If true, this is a foolhardy discretionary spending decision that the City is considering in light of the public health and economic perils we currently face. And this is from a City management that promised us that they were laser-focused on cost-containment when they asked us to renew the existing 1% sales tax on the recent March ballot less than 3 weeks ago.

Let me explain.

Continue reading "Davis City Staff Wants Council to Approve Two Fire Station Kitchen Remodel Projects for a Minimum of $422,000" »

Need to focus on essentials for City's COVID-19 Emergency

Covid19Dear Davis City Council,

Thank you for considering declaring a local emergency.  I am fully in support of that.  I am writing to strongly urge that you add (something like) the following to the “Proclamation of a Local Emergency in Response to COVID-19”: 

“The City will not take action on any major development projects during the emergency, including but not limited to the Aggie Research Campus (ARC).”

My reasons are as follows:

Continue reading "Need to focus on essentials for City's COVID-19 Emergency" »

Information & Questions about the ARC

The following comments were submitted by Greg Rowe, member of the Planning Commission, for the February 26 Planning Commission workshop on the Aggie Research Campus (ARC).  They are addressed to the Chair and staff liaison to the Commission, respectively.

Matt Keasling speaks to the Planning Commission, 2/26

Cheryl and Sherri:

As you know, I'll be out of town for the Feb 26 Planning Commission meeting; I’ll be leaving early Thursday AM. 

I met on January 7 for over 2 hours with Dan Ramos and attorney Matt Keasling (Taylor & Wiley).  Below are a few of the questions I asked, and their responses.  This information may be relevant to next week's workshop.

Continue reading "Information & Questions about the ARC" »

A crushing victory against Biden

MapBernie wins big in California

By Josh Jones

Bernie's big  California win keeps his delegate lead, but the press isn't reporting it.

When the general news outlets finally admit this, the ridiculous idea that Biden is ahead in delegates will go right out the window. 415 delegates come from California, almost double that of Texas, huge compared to any other state.

From the analysis I have been doing, Bernie must actually ahead in delegates overall, despite the pundits seemingly being unable to predict results for California, and only unable to do so for California.

Continue reading "A crushing victory against Biden" »

Provenza leads BOS motion for approval of new animal shelter JPA

Shelter pic
By Eileen Samitz

Like so many people in Davis, I am an avid animal lover.  I worked at UCD VMTH until I retired 5 years ago. I loved my work there and was privileged to help many animals during that time, but since retiring, I decided to volunteer with the local Yolo County SPCA which has helped backfill some of the gratification I got from my work. I also have coordinated the holiday pet basket charity annually for Mercer Clinic for the Pets of the Homeless for 25 years, but now one of my biggest concerns is the need for a new Yolo County animal shelter.

The good news is that there is a path now open to get there now thanks to the work of a number of people working with Supervisor Jim Provenza who serves with Supervisor Gary Sandy on the County committee working making a new animal shelter a reality. The first thing needed is the Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) which a number of entities have worked on to draft including Jim, Supervisor Gary Sandy, UCD’s Koret Animal Shelter program and the Yolo County SPCA.

This Joint Powers agreement which would change the structure of management for a Yolo Animal Shelter to be a shared responsibility, with shared input. This has been needed and the good news is that this JPA moved forward this past Tuesday at the Board of Supervisors meeting. The motion was led by Jim Provenza which, with his impassioned statement, passed unanimously by the entire Board of Supervisors. Jim has cared about this need deeply and even has a video posted making the appeal for a new Yolo animal shelter needed which you can view here:

I was present at the Board of Supervisors February 25hth meeting with several other animal lovers and advocates who testified and we were thrilled to see how Jim spoke so passionately about the need for this JPA to move forward and to help us to move forward on efforts for a new animal shelter. A non-profit was started a while ago thanks to a number of dedicated animals lovers called “Unleashing Yolo” to help fundraise for a new Yolo animal shelter. To learn more about it and to help by donating, the website is www.unleashingyolo.org 

In addition, there is another non-profit supporting this goal named “Friends of Yolo County Animal Services” which has a website at www.friendsofycas.org and are dedicated to helping improve the lives of animals and support adoption within Yolo County.

In short, I wanted to share this wonderful news, and to reach out to others who may want to help in this much needed effort and also, to urge people to please vote For Jim Provenza to be re-elected for Yolo County Supervisor, so we can move forward to make a new animal shelter a reality.

Green challenger for Dodd in State Senate District 3 race

NyhusWrite-in campaign is on the rise

(From press release) Karen Nyhus, a Green from Sonoma County, is challenging Bill Dodd (D-Napa) as a write-in to the California State Senate’s Top 2 spot on next week’s primary ballot.

Nyhus, a Stanford grad with a work history in government, education and nonprofits, is challenging Dodd’s status as a self-described “fiscal conservative” for a district that spans her native Sonoma County through Napa, Solano, and Contra Costa, to here in Davis. Nyhus calls Dodd a “blue dog” (conservative Democrat) and points out that he was a registered Republican as recently as 2013.

Running as a Green, she accepts no corporate donations, and think that’s a weak spot for Dodd. “He has taken money from the wine industry and PG&E, and it shows in his actions,” she wrote.

Continue reading "Green challenger for Dodd in State Senate District 3 race" »

Mace: The Voice of Experience

Comments regarding the ARC Business Park  delivered to the City of Davis Planning Commission on February, 26 by Charlene Henwood


12/26/19 – 4:26 PM South El Macero to Chiles 35 minutes plus can't get through intersection at Cowell on green light

My name is Charlene Henwood and I am a South Davis resident speaking with the voice of experience from over a year watching the Mace Mess unfold.

First, let’s set the record straight – despite the use of the word "Aggie" in the project name, the Aggie Research Campus (ARC) project has nothing to do with UCD.  It is not sponsored or sanctioned by the University.  It is a City/Developer collaboration to increase tax revenues to the City. However, according to the last fiscal analysis, after all of the construction is done, the City may reap only $1M dollars per year in net revenues after expenses.  To put this into perspective, the City has blown nearly $4M on making a hash of South Mace Boulevard, and they're still spending like drunken sailors trying to fix the mess they made.

Continue reading "Mace: The Voice of Experience" »

Letter: Linda will Lean In

Deos-for-supervisorIn Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg noted that “[t]he laws of economics and many studies of diversity tell us that if we tapped the entire pool of human resources and talent, our collective performance would improve.”

Here in Yolo County, it has been a whole decade since any representative from half of our entire pool of human resources and talent—the female half—has served on our Board of Supervisors. It is long past time to correct this lack of adequate representation…and that’s just one of the reasons I’m so pleased to endorse Linda Deos to represent the 4th District on our Board of County Supervisors.

My other reasons have to do with Linda’s excellent qualifications for the position. Linda has been my next-door-neighbor for nearly 12 years and I know her to be extremely intelligent, knowledgeable, hard-working, open-minded, a great listener, exceptionally friendly and very focused on community. Ours is a more interactive, more informed and more friendly neighborhood now, largely due to Linda’s energy and active presence. I know she has been working even harder in our larger community and that’s why I’m very confident she will make an excellent County Supervisor.   

I agree with Sheryl Sandberg that “[c]onditions for all women will improve when there are more women in leadership roles giving strong and powerful voice to their needs and concerns.”

Linda Deos is the right woman for the 4th District’s open leadership role on the Board of Supervisors. Linda will lean in to give strong and powerful voice to the needs and concerns of women—and of all of us—here in Yolo County. Please join me in voting for Linda Deos.

Belinda Martineau


Letter: Deos will bring new vision

Deos-for-supervisorOur Yolo County Board of Supervisors is in need of new vision, creative collaboration, diversity, and fresh ideas to deal with the myriad of challenges this county faces.

Therefore, I will vote for Linda Deos for Yolo County Board of Supervisors. We have a growing climate emergency that has not been addressed adequately by our supervisors. Linda Deos has presented a number of creative policy proposals and ideas to tackle this crisis. Regarding the problems of mass incarceration, cash bail, and the exploding homeless population in our county, Deos has offered solutions which could be implemented if she were to be elected to the Board.

I have worked with Linda in a number of settings, and find her willingness to listen, her desire and skill in working collaboratively, and her advocacy for the disenfranchised to be exemplary and inspiring.

It is time that we update the male-dominated Board and add a fresh female voice to our county government. Linda is a proven leader. Please join me in voting for Linda Deos for Yolo County Board of Supervisor.

Karen Friis

Blogger receives ARC docs before Commissions and citizens do

Sustainability-ARCBy Colin Walsh

On Thursday morning, a local blog referred to a set of environmental sustainability "guiding principles" released from the developers of the Mace ARC business park. I looked on the City's ARC website but I could find no such document. Puzzled, I emailed City Manager Mike Webb, and received the following response:

Dear Colin,

I am responding to this message on Mike's behalf.

David Greenwald contacted staff on Tuesday afternoon asking if we had received any new materials on Aggie Research Campus from the developer. The only additional item that we had received was their Environmental Sustainability Guiding Principles for the project. Considering a public document was requested, it was provided accordingly. The attached document was received last week from the applicant and will be posted to the City website later today along with the Natural Resources Commission memorandum when it is ready for posting. Our staff is not able to immediately post each document as it is received. We endeavor to post them in a timely fashion and it will be posted later today along with the staff memorandum to the Natural Resources Commission.

The Natural Resources Commission and the Planning Commission will both be receiving the document with their meeting packets consistent with our regular and accepted operating procedures for commissions. Staff will be seeking the Natural Resources Commission feedback on the applicant's proposed Environmental Sustainability Guiding Principles and the Planning Commission workshop is an informational project introduction. The packet for the Natural Resources Commission will be posted on the City website this evening and the Planning Commission packet will be posted tomorrow evening.

Thank you,

Ashley Feeney
Assistant City Manager

Continue reading "Blogger receives ARC docs before Commissions and citizens do" »

Followup to: Mace ARC Business Park Developer Trying to Omit Details until after Vote

Mac-ARC-map-under-mag-glassTree, Recreation and Parks Commissions will now review before the vote; still unclear what sort of project detail will be left out

By Roberta Millstein

On Tuesday, I published an article that detailed the fact that despite numerous requests and promises from the City, some key commissions would not be reviewing the Mace ARC Business Park until after the Measure R vote (see article here).  I had also forwarded my article to the Davis City Council.  Early yesterday evening, I received the following email response from Assistant City Manager Ashley Feeney:

Dear Roberta,

The ARC project has applied for a General Plan Amendment, Pre-Zoning, a Sphere of Influence Amendment and an Annexation. These are the land use entitlements that would be the subject of a Measure R vote should they ultimately be approved and referred to the ballot by the City Council. Baseline project features would also be established and memorialized as part of the Measure R vote. These initial entitlements would establish land use for the project area. The project will require future implementing entitlements that have been described on the City's ARC webpage.

Continue reading "Followup to: Mace ARC Business Park Developer Trying to Omit Details until after Vote" »