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Friday, March 30, 2007

Friday Briefs

County Proposals For Joint Study Areas

The County Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday to approve the following (courtesy of an email from Katherine Hess to the Davis City Council):
1. Meet with the City of Davis through the 2x2 process to allow for joint exploration of revenue producing uses and opportunities regarding development adjoining the City.

2. Designate a joint “special study area” in the area north of Covell Boulevard and west of State Highway 113 (the Northwest Quadrant), by both the County and the City of Davis, to allow for joint exploration of revenue generating opportunities and “special needs housing” (such as housing for seniors), to take advantage of the proximity to the University, University Retirement Community, Sutter-Davis Hospital, and other nearby social services.

3. Add 383 acres of commercial and mixed uses at the northwest corner of the intersection of Covell Boulevard and Pole Line Road, through the use of a joint “special study area” overlay by both the County and the City of Davis to allow for joint exploration of revenue producing uses and opportunities, as well as to allow for coordinated planning with the adjoining Hunt-Wesson cannery property

For the areas along I-80 east of Davis:

4. Add 30 acres of highway commercial use at the interchange of Chiles Road and Interstate-80 and 13 acres of commercial use at the interchange of Mace Road and Interstate-80, south of County Road 32A. (County staff recommendation)

5. Look at the entirety of the I-80 corridor for research, science park, and biotech businesses.
More on the Joint Study Areas

In response to yesterday's blog entry, Mayor Sue Greenwald told me that she was concerned that Don Saylor while opposing the joint study area on I-80, made comments that indicated that he was not opposed to it for the Covell Property and Northwest Quadrant.

This would indicate that both Councilmember Saylor and Souza have both expressed some measure of support for "joint study areas" with the city and county.

There is concern expressed by several people that this means that the council majority was trying to use the county general plan update process and the county's support for joint study sessions to force growth on the periphery of the City of Davis.

Dunning Goes After ACLU

In early March, we reported that the ACLU had written a letter to the Davis Joint Unified School District supporting the Valley Oak Elementary School remaining open based on concerns about it being the sole minority-majority school in the district.

As we reported then:
"The ACLUNC is deeply concerned that a decision to close VOES [Valley Oak Elementary School will violate the constitutional rights of its students." Furthermore they suggest "Because VOES is the only elementary school in the Davis Unified School District where students of color represent a majority of the student body, we believe that a decision to close VOES would have a racially disparate impact on students of color."

"It is also our understanding that closing Valley Oak School will seriously disadvantage those students who would otherwise have attended VOES. Such a closure will deny its students equal access to education in at least two ways. First, the lack of transportation to different schools will result in many children missing early morning classes because of their long walk, thus significantly limiting their class time and increasing their truancy. Second, there is no guarantee that English Language Learner programs will be provided for students who need them at their new schools. English language teachers assert that even an interruption in class time, let alone depriving students of the class altogether, will result in a harmful impact, which will obviously be aggravated if the students are sent to a school without an ELL program."
Yesterday Bob Dunning weighed in this letter from the ACLU that was subsequently withdrawn. In fact, I would suggest that the issues raised by the initial letter indeed had merit. There are concerns about the closing of Valley Oak Elementary School will seriously disadvantage those students. There are concerns about the transportation issue. There are concerns about the EL program's ability to move without seriously disrupting the positive education provided to many students. So in fact, it would potentially have a harmful impact.

Contrary to Mr. Dunning who just over a month ago laid out his liberal credentials for me (or at least asserted them), I think the ACLU's original letter was right on the mark. These are essentially the arguments made by the Davis OPEN folks that Mr. Dunning has strongly and rightly supported. And their only mistake in my opinion, was that they withdrew the letter under apparent pressure from some in the community.

However, I think reasonable people can disagree on this point. Mr. Dunning has every right to disagree with the ACLU and as he has shown in the past, dislike the ACLU (look no further than last spring's long drawn out feud with former Mayor Bill Kopper).

What I think is less defensible is this point:
Although no one knows quite how it happened — and all the locals swear they had nothing to do with it — the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California inserted itself into the Valley Oak controversy at the last possible moment by firing off a letter to the Davis school board that pretty much sealed Valley Oak's fate for good.
What evidence does Mr. Dunning have that the letter from the ACLU "sealed Valley Oak's fate for good?" The letter was not discussed by the board. The letter was not mentioned in private by the members of the board who voted to close Valley Oak. The conversations I had with some of those members focused on finances and declining enrollment as did their public statements. If Mr. Dunning has evidence to the contrary, please step forward with it because I see none and he offers none. He says nothing as to back up that claim. Offers no further comments even on that sweeping assertion.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting