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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Yamada's Proposal for Countywide Talks Goes Back Two Years

On Friday, February 23, 2007 Elisabeth Sherwin of the Davis Enterprise wrote that "Davis Councilman Stephen Souza and Yolo County Supervisor Mariko Yamada are eager to bring the city and county to the table to talk about a cooperative future."

The implication of this article was that Supervisor Yamada and Councilmember Souza were working jointly on a plan to bring the city and county into talks. This is in fact untrue.

The bulk of the article suggests that the idea put forth was by Souza.

However, the article fails to mention that this is not a new idea. In fact, Supervisor Yamada introduced this idea to the County Board of Supervisors in January of 2005, a full two years ago. However, it quickly became apparent that Yamada lacked the votes to win approval of her proposal and in fact was the only Supervisor to support the idea. So instead of putting it up for a vote, she asked that the memo she wrote to her colleagues setting forth her idea be submitted to the County file for the public record.

During the course of last week as Yamada learned of the article being written by Ms. Sherwin, Yamada sent both Ms. Sherwin and Councilmember Souza a copy of her two year old memo--however this was not mentioned in the Davis Enterprise Article. The basic idea was that the County and City Governments collaborate and cooperate on the drafting of a new general plan. "I believe that our current General Plan process provides an excellent initial opportunity for a “council of governments” to listen to each other about the future of Yolo County," Yamada wrote.

Dated January 25, 2005 the memo contained a proposal for a Yolo County Council of Governments (YCCOG).

Yamada wrote:
"Recent events, including the Gateway Auto Mall issue, the issuance of the SMUD Annexation Feasibility Study, and the challenges in scheduling an Yolo County “all-electeds dinner”, have reinforced my observations over the past year that we may wish to consider a more structured communication mechanism between the County and our four city partners in Davis, West Sacramento, Winters, and Woodland on issues of mutual concern."
Yamada concluded:
"Dialogue among Yolo County officials is not a new idea, but one that continues to reinvent itself. Should our Board agree in concept with going forward with a “Yolo County Council of Governments”, or YCCOG, I would request that this idea be explored with each of our City partners, and that our CAO and appropriate departments be asked to analyze further what staff impacts would result from the development of a more regularized discussion opportunity among the various governments in Yolo County.

It is not my intent to “add another meeting” to our already overflowing schedules, but to suggest that there may be a better way to communicate among ourselves—at least annually--on issues of countywide significance."
Advocates of slow growth have been concerned that these talks would be used to force growth upon the cities on their periphery. However, what is ironic is that had this structure been in place two years ago and there was a joint body in existence, much of the concern about development on the northwest quadrant of Davis may have been alleviated because there would have been improved communication between the city and county bodies about their needs and concerns with regards to development and also county resources and services.

As we have discovered in the realm of foreign relations--talking is never a bad idea. It may not resolve differences and bring common understanding, but it is preferable to the alternatives.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting