Entries categorized "Politics"

UPDATE ON COMMISSION MERGER ISSUE 4/14-24

by Elaine Roberts Musser

Finally the City of Davis commission  merger issue is being brought  back  to  some of the affected commissions for their feedback. Unfortunately city staff and some of the City Councilmembers are acting as if their terribly flawed plans for merged commissions are a done deal.  

For example, last week the city began recruiting members for two of the proposed merged commissions (Fiscal Commission; Transportation Commission). And, this Wednesday, the first of an expected series of hearings will be held at the Utility Commission, to review a mission statement drafted by the City Council Subcommittee  (Vaitla; Chapman) for the new Finance Commission that would be created by combining Utilities Commission with the Finance and Budget Commission.  The Utilities Commission staff report states that it is seeking feedback on the proposed scope of work for what it calls the newly created commissions.”  

These commissions have not been “newly  created,”  as the full City Council only approved them in concept  last January. It did not provide final approval in the form of official council resolutions and, in some cases, new city ordinances, that are needed to actually implement such mergers. 

  • The actual motion that was approved by the City Council “task(s) the subcommittee with continuing work on reviewing and revising the authorizing resolutions of each Commission…(with) bringing information back to the full Council for final review and approvals.”
  • That same evening City Manager Mike Webb advised the City Council: “… ultimately …

none  of  it  becomes  official until  the  City  Council adopts  updated  authorizing resolutions.”

The proposal to merge commissions is still extremely flawed: 

Disparate skill sets - Merging two commissions will require an incredibly steep if not impossible   learning  curve  for  commissioners   to   become   well-versed   in  disparate commission missions.

More  difficulty recruiting  applicants  -  Because  applicants  for  the  proposed  merged commission need expertise in both commission missions and meetings are apt to run long to cover all the ground required, it will be difficult to recruit citizens to serve on the merged commissions.

Time constraints - The agendas of commissions are often quite full.   A merging of two commissions  will  result in half as much  time  spent  on critical  issues and much  longer meetings.

Proposed scope inadequate, vague and unclear - The proposed scoping statements appearing in the city’s press release and staff reports for the new Finance Commission and Transportation Commission omit many functions of existing commissions and has been simplified so much that they are vague and unclear. The draft mission statements for the other commissions remain secret as of now. 

ONCE AGAIN, PLEASE VOICE YOUR CONCERNS ABOUT THIS TERRIBLE MERGER PLAN TO CITY OFFICIALS. MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD THROUGH EMAILS TO THE FULL COUNCIL  ([email protected]rg), AT  COMMISSION  MEETINGS  (the Utilities Commission meets Wednesday,     April 17, in the City Council chambers conference room), PUBLIC COMMENT AT CITY COUNCIL MEETINGS (next meeting is April

23) AND LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (to the Davis Enterprise, Davisite, and Davis Vanguard).


The Ever-Changing Justification for Widening I-80

Why can’t Caltrans Tell Yolo County the True Cost?

By Alan Hirsch

On Tuesday March 5th the Davis City Council will review and hopefully reverse the current city policy that endorses I-80  freeway widening for cars. This policy was set quietly in 2021 as two line buried  a 10 page policy  statement  on thing the city would lobby by an ad hoc committee of Lucas Frerich and Dan Carson.  But now I-80 has surfaced before council as a threat to the City Climate Change Plan its clear the current council needs to reexamine it if it want to be taken seriously on climate change.

The January 9th ye open staff report to reviewing the I-80 Draft EIR also heighten interest.. At that meeting,  Councilmember Will Arnold the former Caltrans Director Of Media Relations, shared Caltrans policy  which he  summarized:  believing  freeway widening will fix anything is the definition of insanity. (Link to transcript of Arnold’s remarks)

Every-changing Justification for I-80 Widening

Continue reading "The Ever-Changing Justification for Widening I-80" »


My ballot thoughts for March Election

By Alan "Lorax" Hirsch

I have again compiled my thought on  voting in Davis for the March 5th election.-- the 10th edition of my Davis Neighborhood Ballot flier (tm)

The two pages are posted below and at Facebook's Davis Ballot Talk  (scroll down) where you can find this and lot of other free advice. Or download here: Download Davis Neighborhood Ballot Rec v3 2 page 2024 03 05

My thoughts may be helpful....or not?

Occasionally people think I get it right ...but more usually its left.

Davis Ballot Flier page 1 of 2 2024 03 05

Davis Ballot Flier page 2 of 2 2024 03 05


Dark, Anti-Democratic Forces Sue the Davis Vanguard

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These dark forces are believed to be funded by the Dark Underbelly of Davis. 

In true Davis Vanguard journalistic style, no information on who the dark forces may be or why they are suing, but the Vanguard did ask for money to the tune of $100k.  Statement:

Continue reading "Dark, Anti-Democratic Forces Sue the Davis Vanguard" »


Davis Downtown names Brazil interim executive director

DirkBrazil
Dirk Brazil (courtesy photo)

(From press release) Former Davis City Manager Dirk Brazil has been named interim executive director of the Davis Downtown Business Association, effective Monday, Feb. 12.

He replaces Brett Maresca, who stepped down from the role on Jan. 26 to pursue other opportunities.

Brazil served as Davis city manager from 2014 to 2017, and as Yolo County assistant county administrator from 2006 to 2014. After retiring in 2017, Brazil worked as interim city manager for the cities of South Lake Tahoe and Alameda, and as the interim executive director of the Yolo Habitat Conservancy. 

“I’m looking forward to working with the DDBA board and their membership in the next few months to first, help them in their search for a new executive director, and second, to look into how best to possibly restructure DDBA into a more focused and effective organization,” Brazil said. “I’ll also seek collaboration opportunities with City of Davis elected officials and city staff, as well as UC Davis administration. There is a great deal of potential in these partnerships.”

Continue reading "Davis Downtown names Brazil interim executive director" »


Mike Thompson Vote No on Military Aid to Israel

Demand CeasefireBy Scott Steward

I think we are over the attempt to confuse antisemitism with calls for a ceasefire.  The implication that candidates must choose between fighting antisemitism or calling out genocide is false.  It is untenable that hate speech and aggression directed at Jews, Muslims, and Arab groups are on the rise in this country.  The coalition of Jewish voices for Peace, the Sacramento chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, Yolo for Palestinian Justice are united around stopping hate-motivated aggression and bias. 

While actual hate speech and alleged hate speech are confusing Mike Thompson's decision to call for a permanent ceasefire and humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, more than 2 million people are dying from starvation and disease, trapped in the "safe zone" of Rafah recently declared the next "military" target of Israel. Israel's anticipated aggression does not improve the chances of the return of hostages or the cessation of hostilities in the future. I conclude it's not meant to, Netanyahu stays in power only so long as Gaza is being attacked.

Mike Thompson can do his part to stop the killing of Palestinians and vote against unconditional $14 Billion to Israel's far-right government.  Israel is about to launch another "over the top" (Biden) military massacre. Pressure to do something to end this episode of the Palestinian trail of tears forced the Senate to include $9.1 Billion for civilians living in Gaza and the West Bank.  There should be no confidence that Israel would allow aid to be delivered without the possibility of the US conditioning military aid with proof of distribution of humanitarian aid.

Continue reading "Mike Thompson Vote No on Military Aid to Israel" »


Council Should Reverse Course on Merging Advisory Commissions

The Davis City Council Should Reverse Course on Merging Advisory Commissions

The Subcommittee on Commissions (Vaitla, Chapman) process for introducing the merging commissions concept was not accomplished in good faith.

The proposal was first made available to the public late on the Friday before last Tuesdays City Council meeting and was quickly put to a council vote Tuesday night. Even other council members were kept in the dark about the specific proposal until Friday. This was a devious, unfair and terrible process.

There was no material input from commissioners. Some commission chairs and vice-chairs were consulted about what was and wasn’t working in their respective commissions. But some commissioners said they were never asked about the radical plan to merge their commissions, and some commission chairs and vice-chairs testified that they were not consulted at all by Council members Chapman and Vaitla.

 

The Subcommittee on Commissions has refused to appoint applicants to fill commission vacancies for the last six months, causing commission quorum problems. The Finance and Budget Commission has not met for months and is now down to two members and effectively out of business. After months of waiting to be appointed, applicants move on to other things rather than sit around and wait. The claim that commissions must be merged because there are not enough applicants is a sham.

 

Merging commissions with two disparate areas of expertise would make them less able to accomplish either missionIf the mergers happen, the workload will double, and there will either be less time for discussion of issues or the meetings will have to run very long.  A commissioner is not likely to have expertise in both missions. For example, the Utility Commission has almost nothing in common with the Finance and Budget Commission, and the Human Relations Commission has nothing in common with the Civics Art Commission.

We, the undersigned commissioners, request that the City Council:

  1. Immediately reverse their preliminary action of approving moving forward with the concept of merging commissions;
  2. Then (a) send the City Council staff report on merging commissions to each affected commission (b) to provide full and proper feedback on the merger plan to the City Council, so (c) it could consider the merger plan in a future council discussion.

(Note: Anyway wishing to add their name to this petition can log on to change.org and search for the petition title, Reverse City Council Decision to Move Forward With Merging Commissions.)

Jim Cramer – Member, Tree Commission Member                     

Elaine Roberts Musser – Member, Utilities Commission     

Gerry Braun – Member, Utilities Commission                        

John Reuter – Member, Tree Commission                          

Alana Gamage – Member, Tree Commission                    

NJ Mvondo – Member, Human Relations Commission                          

Sheila Allen - Former Chair, Human Relations Commission                           

Colin Walsh - Vice Chair, Tree Commission                         

Margot Loschke - Former Chair, Senior Citizens Commission                   

Alan Pryor - Former Member, Natural Resources Commission                   

Eileen Samitz - Former Member, Planning Commission                    

Roberta Millstein - Former Chair, Open Space & Habitat Commission              

Larry Guenther – Former Member, Tree Commission                    

Connor Gorman – Member, Human Relations Commission

37 Davis residents and activists                  

 


Petition to protest the City Council's merging/eliminating citizen commissions

The City Council needs to re-think and re-do its current plan

By Roberta Millstein

Elaine Roberts Musser has put together a petition protesting the City Council's recent decision to move forward with merging some commissions, which would reduce expert citizen input into City matters and effectively eliminate some of the issues that commissions currently are able to address.  The petition asks for the City Council to stop its current direction and to give the proposed commission merging a better,  more thorough, and more inclusive analysis. I have no connection with petition, other than having signed it myself -- I am just passing along the word.

The petition is located here: https://www.change.org/p/reverse-city-council-decision-to-move-forward-with-merging-commissions-1e9f0d8d-0697-4f45-85ad-6a7720e2b8b3

(There are more signers than it would seem from the webpage, as ERM was collecting signatures prior to putting the Change.org online).

If you follow the link, you will see the reasons given for objecting to the Council's decision.  The petition ends with the follow requests:

  1. Immediately reverse their preliminary action of approving moving forward with the concept of merging commissions;

  2. Then a) send the City Council staff report on merging commissions to each affected commission, b) to provide full and proper feedback on the merger plan to the City Council, c) so it could consider the merger plan in a future council discussion

 

 

Continue reading "Petition to protest the City Council's merging/eliminating citizen commissions" »


Letter: Andrew Engdahl for Congress, Davis Farmers Market Feb 10th

Screen Shot 2024-02-04 at 10.12.55 AMAndrew Engdahl is a smart, principled vote for you, a healthy, affordable country, and a vote against military overspending and inhumane policies abroad—March 5th Congressional Primary. Of the people, he is not shy about showing his colors.  

Meet Andrew Engdahl at the Davis Farmer's Market on February 10th.  Hear him for yourself online:

https://www.instagram.com/p/C2vwXFEpT7b/ Instagram/TikTok

Andrew Engdahl is a long-time Sonoma County resident and Hodgkin’s Lymphoma survivor; his campaign goal is to win runner-up in the Primary Election (March 5th) and then square off with the incumbent, Mike Thompson.

Why should we tolerate military overspending, continued gun violence, and incarcerating the poor? Thompson is not fighting a future for most of us and has supported policies of corporate control of unaffordable housing, massive wealth inequality, slow-walking climate action, and the list goes on.

If your kids and their kids are looking at a better future, it will be because you voted for Andrew Engdahl. 

Scott Steward


League of Women Voters Supervisor Candidate Forum

League

The League of Women Voters Davis Area is having a candidate forum on Wednesday Jan 31 at 7pm for Yolo County Supervisor District 4.  There are 3 candidates.  The forum is at the City of Davis Community Chambers. Get tickets at: lwvyolosupervisorforum.eventbrite.com.

Candidates Sheila Allen, Yolo Supervisor’s Deputy, Antonio De Loera-Brust, Farmworker Communications Director, and Nathalie “NJ” Mvondo, Social Entrepreneur will introduce themselves to the community and answer League and community questions.
The forum will run from 7:00pm-8:30pm. Doors open at 6:45pm.

Council to Commit to De-Commissioning Commissions?

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There's some metaphor here... ask the Council about it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, January 30th, the City of Davis City Council will “Consider Recommendations Related to Commissions”. Please show up this evening - item 5 is scheduled for 7:20pm - or call the comment line at (530) 757-5693 before 4pm.

Let's look at some recent history first... and then tonight's meeting:

June 3rd 2021

“City Council Subcommittee and All-Commission Chair Meeting”. Video. 

This was a two-hour meeting between all Commission Chairs with then City Council member Lucas Frerichs - who chaired the meeting - and Gloria Partida.

It’s worth noting that two of the Commission Chairs - Bapu Vaitla and Donna Neville - are now on the City Council. Vaitla does not reference this meeting in the Council sub-committee proposal scheduled for this evening.

While the meeting is certainly worth a focused viewing, for now I will focus only on statements made at the meeting related to future activity (e.g. further similar meetings with Chairs, Council agenda items, etc):

“Hopefully not the last meeting” (Lucas, earlier in the meeting)

“Update to the City Council Coming shortly” (Frerichs @ 1:59:40 - it’s not clear if this meant any minutes from meeting would be passed along to Council)
“Hopefully on a regular basis” (Frerichs @ 2:00:00 - Referring to an intention for similar meetings with Chairs.)
“I’m sure that Kelly [Stachowicz] and Zoe [Mirabile] also will [...] put together some minutes.” (Partida - 2:01:00 - As no publicly-distributed minutes are taken, it’s not clear what this referred to. )

At the end Colin Walsh - the Chair of the Tree Commission -  asked about when there would be another similar meeting “in the not too distant future”.  Partida responded:  “It was pretty clear that that’s one of the main takeaways here… we will be setting that up”. She also said  “...What I heard was that people are we really wanting twice a year to meet this way…so I can [should or will be able to] confirm that”  (Walsh, Partida from 2:04:25)

Despite what Frerichs and Partida said or intended, there were no meetings - between Chairs and a Council non-quorum or in City Council - until February 2023, 20 months after the 2021 meeting. 

 

February 7th 2021

City Council Meeting. Community comments start at about 2:34. Some highlights:

* Alan Hirsch. gives a good comprehensive look at the overall poor state of things regarding respect for Commissions. 

*John Johnson - a member of the NRC -  talks about NRC not having enough time to do what it needs to

* Alan Miller suggests a great, truly-democratic and also streamlined idea for organizing the Council and Commissions. 

* Roberta Millstein makes clear the paternalistic functioning of Council and Staff

* Colin Walsh criticizes the generally low-quality process

Based on Colin Walsh's observation at the meeting, there were very few members of the Public at the meeting. This would indicate a likely lack of communication about the agenda topic. I also don’t understand why it was called a “workshop”, as it didn’t have this form.

 

Present Day:

Two pieces earlier this week in Davisite:

Council to Eliminate Tree Commission Tuesday

City Commissions Merger Proposals are Ill Conceived - Testify Tuesday

 

In the sub-committee report for today’s meeting: 

"The Council Subcommittee spoke with all AVAILABLE chairs (or vice-chairs) [emphasis mine] of existing commissions to receive their feedback on what is working in the present structure and what could be improved." [page 4]

"In reviewing the scopes and structure of each of the City's 14 advisory commissions, the subcommittee undertook the following research: [...] * Met with [ALL?] chairs and vice-chairs of each commission to gain a better understanding of what works well and areas of potential improvement, especially with respect to Council direction about what areas of commission activity would be most valuable; [page 7].

What actually happened? Did the Chairs and/or Vice Chairs coordinate with each other? Did they have the opportunity to e.g. get questions from Chapman and Vaitla and then get input from their Commission before speaking with Chapman-Vaitla?Are there minutes of these meetings?

The proposal would - in the long-run - have a total of approximately 28 fewer Commissioners than the current 98, so just under 1/3 less participation from the same city (and possibly expanding) population, with similar low to mid level staff, same senior staff and same council numbers, and still minimal involvement from youth (see below)

While there would be less staff hours, it's not clear if this will reduce staffing expenditure (I don't fully understand how staff gets paid when working evenings, etc)

The new language comes from state-mandates on General Plans, but it's clear that the "Element" names don't have to be included in the names of the related Commission.

We then have the proposed "Circulation and Active Mobility" - and they don't get the correct name for the BTSSC again!  - but I think that Circulation is a somewhat old-fashioned term which I believe - and not only superficially - relates to LOS (Level of Service)

The archaic and unusual name of "Circulation..." as the new name for what’s unfortunately and informally oft-referred to  as the "bike commission" with "....and Active Mobility" which in aggregate is… poor English (just like the current BTSSC, as “Bicycling” is a subset of “Transportation” (outside the sporting context) and “Street Safety” is mostly a quality of the situation, 

I would prefer e.g. “Efficient, Joyous and Safe Mobility Commission”, as it covers all forms of transportation using conveyances, walking, other means of travel, resources/climate change issues and the social sphere!

"The required Noise and Safety elements [of the Consolidation] are not listed; community engagement for these will be led by Staff.)" (page four) Seriously, what the actual f*ck?? Is there any actual logic for this or a similar and official mechanism in any other part of the proposal

There's a promise at the end that no one will have to leave, presumably Commissions will change as people term out, but will there will perhaps be more split votes for a long time due to math: 7 to 7, 6 to 6, 5 to 5, 4 to 4 votes (before Commissions "settle" again at 7 members.

There's NO proposal for a Commission of Youth Members/Youth Commission. About 90 cities and towns in California have these!  At the very least, there's no proposal for more youth OR age of minority-age ex-officios for ALL Commissions

There’s NO promise of more communications - via social media, the City’s website, etc - to encourage more attendance and attention of Commission meetings and ongoing work, inclusive of biographies of Commission members. One should not have to Google a Commissioner’s name to see their affiliations, job, a bit about their experience, etc.


City Comissions Merger Proposals are Ill Conceived - Testify Tuesday!

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The City Council is hearing proposals to consolidate commissions on Tuesday night. These changes have serious implications. Here are the proposals:

Continue reading "City Comissions Merger Proposals are Ill Conceived - Testify Tuesday!" »


Arnold calls $465mil I-80 Widening “Insanity"

Council Member & Former Caltrans Employee’s Remarks on I-80

Will arnold picture

Submitted by Alan Hirsch

Below is a transcription of Councilperson Will Arnold remarks on the I-80 widening for the video of the 1/9/24 Davis Council meeting. Arnold was the Manager of Media Relations at Caltrans HQ until August  2023.  His testimony adds to that of the Hi level whistle blower Jeanie Ward-Waller  She accused Caltrans of violations CEQA in moving ahead freeway widenings and I-80 project in specific. YoloTD Board has never asked their staff or Caltrans a single question about that in any open board meeting.

 (Link to city website with video see time stamp  3:51:29)

 

Thank you,  Mayor Chapman.

There is an important note I want to read:

‘Highway investments over the years have contributed to a dependence on automobiles and supported development patterns that have made walking, cycling and transit use inefficient, challenging and sometime dangerous in many parts of the state.  Highway investment have also contributed to the displacement and division of some neighborhoods and imposed noise and safety hazard on many others.

Further research over the past several decades had demonstrated that highway  capacity expansion has not resulted in long term congestion relief and in some cases has worsen congestion, particularly in urbanized regions. (ed note: all emphasis his)  Projects in urban area that add travel lanes result in changes in travel behavior due to a short-term reduction in travel time and improvement in reliability. This phenomenon known as “Induced travel” explains why adding capacity has rarely succeed in reducing congestion over the long term or supported alternatives to driving and more transportation efficient land uses.

Finally, highway expansions are costly. Expansion of the existing highway system means less available funding for other transportation needs and priorities as well as continued increase to long term maintenance costs for the existing system. As a result, we cannot continue the same pattern of highway expansion investment in California and expect different results.  3:52:52

Rethinking our approach to highway expansion programs will be a critical part of insuring we are working toward equitably meeting our climate change goals.  3:53:01 ‘

This is part of the state Climate Action Plan for Transportation Infrastructure, known as CAPTI. This is a document passed in 2021 by the state transportation agency signed by Davis Hi Alumnus David Kim, former (CA) Secretary of Transportation 

 They Know. THEY KNOW (Arnold emphasis), They know what we are saying it true. 

This isn’t a secrete in Sacramento, this it isn’t a secrete in any of the 12 Caltrans districts, even District 12 in Orange county. They know.

And yet, we reach these inflection points where it’s time to put our money where our mouth is as a state in how we invest our limited transportation dollars, and we each these inflection points and the same thing keep happening when we invest in what we know, which is more freeways, or lanes expecting a different result. 

Which we know is the definition of Insanity.” ends 3:54:18


Sign the Petition to block I-80 Yolo Widening

Will Arnold labels I-80 insanity but other won’t join him

By Alan Hirsch

At the January 9th council meeting, Councilman Will Arnold read Caltrans policy guidance to local districts offices. It states flatly freeway widenings don’t work and are contrary to state climate change plan.  He then said it was “the definition of...  insanity” to try widening one more time.  Arnold is a former high level Caltrans employee.

But in the city council did NOT support Arnold and the transit option and oppose widening due to abstentions by Gloria Partida (“I’m not sure” i.e.-we may need toll revenue) and Donn Neville (“I need more information”) .

Find the petition at: https://www.change.org/BetterYoloTransit

Why this petition matters

Continue reading "Sign the Petition to block I-80 Yolo Widening" »


I-80: No such thing as a Free $86m Lunch

On Tuesday, let’s hope council is more curious than YoloTD on DEIR

By Alan Hirsch

Funds
Slide from YoloTD slide presentation on I-80 DEIR December 11 when the  board decided it was OK with the DEIR and mitigation plan. It does not disclose that the DEIR requires Yolo commit to $50m/year mitigation spending.

At the YoloTD board meeting on December 11 the YoloTD staff the presented the I-80 project. After 6 public comment, and 16 ½ minute discussion they unanimous decided to accept the DEIR, it VMT mitigation plan, and the staff recommend alternate 4. HOT3+

These are the slide staff presented.

https://yolotd.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/2023-12-11_YoloTD-BoardSlides.pdf

No one at the meeting unpacked the ongoing financial obligation of mitigation that YoloTD took on as part of the DEIR

..... in turn for getting the $86 million in free starter money for the project

The VMT/GHG  mitigation plan is on slides 15-19—which lists all the 7 mitigation measures.

Its bit confusing so let me unpack – before the Tuesday council meeting.

Continue reading "I-80: No such thing as a Free $86m Lunch" »


Recommendation for revision and recirculation of the DEIR for the I-80 widening project

The following letter was submitted this morning by Dr. Stephen Wheeler and the Sierra Club Yolano Group as formal comments for the Yolo 80 Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR), addressed to Dr. Masum Patwary, Environmental Scientist C at the California Department of Transportation. A copy was also sent to the Davis City Council. The letter concludes by stating that the Yolo 80 DEIR should be revised and recirculated.

Dear Dr. Patwary:

This letter provides detailed comments on the Yolo 80 Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) on behalf of the Yolano Group of the Motherlode Chapter of the Sierra Club.

I have prepared these comments as an unpaid Technical Advisor to the Yolano Group. In my professional life I am a Professor of Urban Planning and Design in the Department of Human Ecology at the University of California, Davis, and Chair of the UC Davis Community Development Graduate Group. I have studied urban and regional planning topics for more than 35 years, including interactions between transportation systems and regional land use patterns, and was formerly chair of the City of Berkeley Transportation Commission and cofounder of the Bay Area’s regional transportation-land use-housing advocacy organization Transform. I am the author of urban planning textbooks used in universities worldwide, including The Sustainable Urban Development Reader (Fourth Edition, 2023), Planning for Sustainability (Third Edition to be published in late 2024), and Reimagining Sustainable Cities (2021). My awards in this field include the Dale Prize for Excellence in Urban and Regional Planning.

Let me say first that it’s very unfortunate that the Yolo 80 project has proceeded this far without better alternatives being considered. As has been widely known for decades, widening freeways does not fix congestion problems; it just defers them for a few years while increasing overall motor vehicle use, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, local air pollution, suburban sprawl, and related problems. The climate crisis gives particular urgency to the need to stop increasing road capacity and vehicle use. Although California is making progress in many sectors towards reducing its GHG emissions, transportation is one area in which it is not. Transportation is also the single largest source of the state’s GHG emissions, accounting for 38 percent of the total.

In order to meet California’s GHG reduction goals, the state has adopted policies that discourage road expansion and its concomitant VMT increases. SB 743, passed in 2013, required agencies to use VMT as a metric for analyzing transportation impacts of new projects after July 1, 2020 instead of Level of Service (LOS). Put another way, this bill made reducing overall motor vehicle use the goal of state policy rather than short-term reductions in road congestion. The California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA)’s Climate Action Plan for Transportation Infrastructure (CAPTI), adopted in 2021, establishes policy that “projects should generally aim to reduce vehicle miles traveled” and counsels agencies that “when addressing congestion, consider alternatives to highway capacity expansion such as providing multimodal options in the corridor, employing pricing strategies, and using technology to optimize operations.” However, Caltrans appears to be disregarding the state’s new policy framework with multiple projects including Yolo 80.

A certain amount of congestion isn’t bad in that it puts realistic constraints on the public’s behavior. However, if congestion is deemed to be a problem beyond that point, the academic and professional literature shows that pricing, better land use planning, and other demand management solutions (e.g. working with large employers to promote vanpools and transit use) are the best strategies. But Caltrans never considered those alternatives in the Yolo 80 case. It clearly wanted to widen the freeway from the start, and indeed appears to have illegally begun widening I-80 east of the Mace intersection and west of the I-50 split in early Fall 2023 well before the current environmental review was completed. This action  shows a high level of disregard for CEQA/NEPA processes, and we ask Caltrans to suspend construction activities on Yolo 80 until environmental review is completed and the environmental document certified.

The Yolo 80 DEIR has a great many deficiencies which require revising and recirculating the document. These include the following:

Continue reading "Recommendation for revision and recirculation of the DEIR for the I-80 widening project" »


Davis Covid Spike Makes National News

Humor by Alan Hirsch

Image0 28Ever since the  success of “Healthy Davis Together” right wing anti-vax crowd has been waiting to strike back.

It happen last week when the below Facebook picture from Central Davis made Fox Cable nightly news under the headline “Is A Covid Spike laying low older men?”

Fox of course was reframing a social media post  of where the administration was claiming to have brought down inflation for Christmas.

But then Newsmax ran the photo. Noting it was taken in Davis a 90% democratic  liberal college town, said it uncovered evidence of the secular “War on Christmas” ™. 

CNN hearing story was about “shots”  ran picture of another mass shooting—this one a Christmas day !

Fox picked that angle up, adding it was evidence of just another crime wave -- in a Democratic city--  after a home invasion.

One America Network then said it was reported they were “made in China“.  So their commentator conjectured they were clever disguises on spy balloons that were shot down.


Davis City Council are FOOLS to Declare a Davis Position on Israel-Palestine (this Tuesday Evening)

The Davis City Council is poised to pass a resolution this Tuesday night (12/12) on Israel-Palestine.

Last Tuesday a couple of dozen people spoke during general public comment regarding this upcoming resolution. About 95% spoke in favor of a ‘cease fire’ by Israel. The speakers appeared to be organized by Jewish Voices for Peace who had “Not in Our Name” t-shirts, along with several persons of Palestinian lineage. One Jewish man, not from Jewish Voices for Peace, spoke of Hamas as a dangerous organization.

Most who spoke asked for the resolution by the City of Davis to include a demand a ‘cease fire’. There were several who spoke of the genocide against the Palestinians. This word is a matter of intense debate and emotional weight. Others argue instead that Hamas had ‘genocidal intentions’ on October 7th but lacked the means to carry it out. While word definitions hold no inherent truth, groups of people define words to hold an agreed-upon meaning, and certain words and phrases invoke intense emotional reactions in regard to this conflict.

I had a clear message for the City Council last week: “Don’t Do It”. As some may know, I stand firm in the belief that cities should only conduct city business and not get involved in national or global issues, no matter how seemingly righteous or important. But the potential repercussions from this resolution goes so far beyond that. This resolution has the potential to damage Davis both within and from without . . . and needlessly. We all remember the long and tortured tale of the Davis Ghandi statue, another dip of the Davis toe into international waters. What could go wrong displaying a depiction of  ‘a man of peace’? What could go wrong with supporting a declaration ‘for peace’?

Continue reading "Davis City Council are FOOLS to Declare a Davis Position on Israel-Palestine (this Tuesday Evening)" »


Israel Needs to Ceasefire

Jew-for-ceasefireBy Scott Steward

I want to thank the City Council's Mayor Will Arnold and Councilmember Gloria Partida for placing a "Proposed Resolution Calling for Peace in Israel and Gaza" on the December 12 City Council Agenda. 

The current violence, persecution and loss of Palestinian lives is abhorrent. As much as Hamas is rightly condemned and routed for its most recent attack, it is not acceptable that Israel will not ceasefire and instead finds reason to continue to disproportionately kill thousands of civilians, mostly women and children, to randomly kill a small number of combatants. 

The continued use of a government's military to kill a functionally incapable combatant, and in so doing kill a vastly disproportionate number of millions of displaced civilians, with munitions and by furthering the conditions of starvation and disease, is a war crime

Israel needs to ceasefire. Thousands in Davis are part of this worldwide plea. 

The Council's ascent to consider a ceasefire resolution was supported by some 15 public speakers and 10 callers, with a hundred people in the gallery in support, at the December 5th City Council meeting.  1 voice of public dissent.  "Ceasefire and Peace in Israel and Gaza" That would be an improved title for the draft resolution.  Why the word ceasefire was so obviously left out of the entire draft resolution, can only be guessed. The public needs to tell our City Council to add back the word ceasefire.  [email protected]

Davis groups for human rights, Palestinian human rights, Jewish Voices for Peace have been organizing around a ceasefire since October 17th, joining vigils and peaceful demonstrations to remind our members of Congress to sign HR 786 a "ceasefire resolution." The UN is trying to pass a "ceasefire resolution."  No one in the City Hall chambers on December 5th, speaking for a City resolution in support of humanity and sincere peace and repair for Palestine and Israel, was speaking to anything other than a ceasefire resolution

I expect that Council members are honest about intending to constructively amend the draft resolution and to vote on the amended version on the 12th. Respectfully, Council, somewhere in the "Peace" resolution needs to be the word ceasefire.


A Critique of Village Farms

In reference to the Village Farms Scoping Session

The City has asked citizens to comment on the Village Farms project. Here are mine…

by David J. Thompson

The project is based on obsolete planning principles which feature the single family home.

Preponderance of SF homes in this era is absurd for a town that thinks it’s green.

Global Warming is guaranteed and increased by this car-centric planning model.

Too few market-rate apartments for a community with such a low vacancy rate for the past 30 years. The lack of market rate apartments means tens of thousands of Students and working people will continue over paying on rent given the continued low vacancy rate.

There should be many more market rate apartments to bring down the excessive rental costs in Davis. Most of the 55.7% of Davis households (the 36,780 renters) are already overpaying rent (more than 30% of income spent on rent is HUD guideline).

Dos Pinos housing co-op has been the most successful home ownership program in Davis. 38 years later it is still providing substantial savings for its moderate income owners. It helps families time and time again rather than a one off bonanza and it’s gone forever. There are 122 households on the waiting list for DP (60 units) and the list has been closed since 2017 (2021 info from DP). There are between 6-10 turnovers per year. Why was another Dos Pinos co-op not included in Village Farms?

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Response to Davis Enterprise Article on December 6, 2023: “City, County, UCD Gather for Annual Meeting.”

By Greg Rowe

A recent Davis Enterprise article described the annual meeting of the Davis City Council, Yolo County District 2 and 4 Supervisors and UC Davis administrators, held on December 5.  UCD’s on-campus student housing construction program since 2018 was glowingly portrayed by the university representatives. The reality is that UCD had for years resisted building an adequate supply of on-campus housing to meet the needs of its continued enrollment growth, and literally had to be dragged kicking and screaming into agreeing to finally address the problem.

Evidently forgotten amid UCD’s self-congratulatory presentation were the herculean exertions between 2015 and 2018 by a small alliance of dedicated citizens who committed countless hours working toward the goal of convincing UCD to address its student housing needs in a meaningful way. Those efforts focused on educating the Davis City Council and the Yolo County Board of Supervisors about UCD’s long-standing failure to provide on-campus student housing on pace with escalating enrollment, and the resulting negative community impacts. The group wrote countless articles, letters and a comprehensive “white paper,” met with UCD planners and elected officials, spoke at meetings of the UC Board of Regents, and documented the superior student housing accomplishments at other UC campuses. 

Early drafts of UCD’s Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) proposed to only marginally increase the percentage of students living in campus residence halls between 2018 and 2030. The university’s initial intent was to simply redevelop existing campus housing rather than aggressively increasing bed capacity with new construction.

It also appeared that UCD intended to dodge its housing responsibilities by continuing to “master lease”  apartment complexes in Davis for exclusive occupancy by UCD students. This “band aid” approach meant fewer apartments were available to workforce families. It also allowed apartment owners to avoid paying property taxes because the lessee, UCD, is tax-exempt.

Continue reading "Response to Davis Enterprise Article on December 6, 2023: “City, County, UCD Gather for Annual Meeting.”" »