The Vanguard has a new home, please update your bookmarks to

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

LIVE FROM WOODLAND: The County Determines the Future of Davis

Feel free to post comments and questions, I'll try to answer them. This is all ad-hoc...

Thank you to Beth Gabor (Yolo County Public Information Officer) and Sup. Mariko Yamada for arranging for me to blog live and thanks to Sup. Matt Rexroad for requesting the county make the entire building a wireless hotspot. May the city of Davis follow suit.

Alright I'm all set up here and will be posting frequent updates, particularly when Davis comes up. We have many dignitaries in the crowd including three of Davis' councilmembers Lamar Heystek, Ruth Asmundson, and Don Saylor, several former Mayors Maynard Skinner and Ann Evans, former Supervisor Betsy Marchand, School board member Gina Daleiden. The place is packed with developers and their consultants, activists, and government officials. The supervisors are all here ready to go.

Interesting comment by Yamada when they were talking about the probations department, she made a side-comment that they might be here for the general plan because they might want future housing.

David Morrison is up, presenting the opening of the general plan process. He affirmed that these projects at this point "do not represent any commitment by the county" but rather are the next step in the process that will culminate next summer and only then will these projects be final.

They are recommending that they take up each item individually and vote on each item individually.


They are beginning with a brief overview of each project, area by area, and map by map.

Just about talking about the overview of Davis.

Davis is Map N, O, P if you are keeping score at home...

Davis Northwest quadrant, one of four special study areas--revenue opportunities or special use housing, no precise acreage or plans--special study area is a "placeholder" for the twenty year period. Not identified in process as new growth area, EIR would not assume building in this area unless board gives different direction. Key factors: proximity to Binning Farms, undeveloped lots below, community forums to existing development.

Davis i-80 corridor--one of four study areas--life science, biotech, research uses, smaller lots were for commercial use, no specific project for this area but did for the two smaller areas. This area will be id'ed through policy areas in general plan. Only two small areas id'ed as new growth areas. Will assume land use changes for 43 acres but not for the bulk of 1500 acre corridor as part of preferred land use alternatives.

McGowan question: what does this mean?

Answer: Would not be included in general plan EIR or cleared for development, no CEQA clearance.

Covell Area is also a special study, general plan would assume 383 industrial uses on this property, general plan would assume existing land use designation not the change to residential that the study area would look into.

My comment: this is a key distinction that is the reason behind the recall--the fear that this would be placed into the general plan EIR and then become entitled with land use changes. If what they are saying now is correct, this step seems to fall well short of that possible fear. But we will have to stay tuned on that.

Staff is recommending they take up the items in order. Will they?

Beginning with Clarksberg--Marc Wilson up speaking first, for those who know him...

(I'm now going to pause with periodic updates as to what areas are being discussed and perhaps some decisions if they are notable).


Dunnigan is now on the clock

Democracy of, by, and for the developers? That is what is produced with daytime meetings. Fortunately, Davis is in the house. Former Mayor Julie Partansky is here and will be speaking out against this proposal. Former Mayor Bill Kopper is here.

A bit of debate now over the process as to whether they should be discussing specifics, rather than just on concepts... Mariko is arguing we should think in concept, McGowan and Rexroad are both suggesting we vote on something... specifics and put something on the map.

Rexroad: We will be punting all day. We might as well be in punt formation and kick away.

Jim Provenza, candidate for County Supervisor is sitting next to me. Masud Monfared of Parlin Development is sitting two seats over.

Motion on Dunnigan passes 3-2 with Rexroad and Chamberlain vote against

Bill Emlen here now ready to speak, two minute break

Davis is up next...

Davis three special studies areas discussion

50 cards for Davis! Davis is in the house

I have a note that suggests it is a good thing if the county does not vote onthese right now, the longer drawn out, the better.

Sue Greenwald--up first, thanks Rexroad and Chamberlain, asks for more time. Argues against Mace and I-80 first. Talks about pass-through agreement and the $72 million going from Davis to County in exchange for refraining of land use changes. Impacts Davis immediately. Asks for Covell and Oeste to be removed from EIR. Asks to work cooperatively--have in the past--willing to compromise, cooperative. Take three study areas out of general plan EIR. If interested in senior housing, come to us within our pass-through agreement. Suggests using 5 or 10 rather than 683 acres.

Roman Reid--speaking in favor of stem cell research from a wheel chair. Talking about Yolo County Innovation corridor as a means to alleviate his suffering.

Rexroad objects that this is not relevant to land use discussion. Yamada very rudely dismisses his objection. Suggesting that when he becomes chair he can run the meeting as he chooses...

Former Mayor Bill Kopper speaks against placing any maps in the EIR. Talks about the amount of money paid to the county in exchange for non-development, this is more than any other city in the county. Directs remarks to Helen: disagree with the path that the voters have taken in Davis, but honor their decisions. Asks her if she wants this fight. Please honor the vote of the city council. Honor the wishes of the city council.

In response: Helen reads from the pass-through agreement, talking about how it allows the county to determine development, Helen says that this does not mean they will authorize urban development.

Another disabled person speaks--Miss Disabled California.

Jim Watson came to speak out against these proposals.

Karen Minor, another disabled individual comes forward

Correction from above, McGowan not Chamberlain voted no with Rexroad.

Julie Partansky, former Mayor up, agrees with Kopper and Greenwald. Opposed to study of three areas, wants city of Davis to make land use decisions, likens it to an invasion rather than cooperation. Davis city council united by this issue.

Cindy from Ottawa Canada, supporting the innovation corridor proposal.

Jim Leonard from the Flatlander comes forward. Opposes, talks about it from a process and democratic stand point. Likens it to the national situation, talks about democracy stolen at a national and a local level.

Another researcher up from UC Davis. Supporting stem cell research. Director of UC Davis Biotechnology Program.

Rexroad interjects that UC Davis has plenty of land that can be used.

Jack Milton--seconds point of Kopper, Partansky, and Greenwald.

Dr. Robert Klein: supports innovation corridor. Mariko and ATK have done a good job of stacking these people in this meeting.

Helen applauds Klein

Jim Provenza up next... opposes the study session. Makes a strong statement about the city determining land use decisions in urban areas. All of the project discussed would ultimately violate the pass-through agreement. Sounded note of discussion. Favors stem cell research, opposed of Stem Cell Research being used as Trojan Horse to allow other unwise development in the county/ periphery of Davis. Asks for joint discussion. Called the innovation corridor, a congestion corridor.

Mariko applauds notion of joint discussion.

Bob Waste up next, works for ATK, Obviously in favor of the IC.

Mike Shepley up next. Talks about assurances and who can be against getting people out of wheel chairs. The reality is that we are looking at increased subdivision for housing, large amounts of housing--in fact all of these projects will be doing massive housing developments.
Used a bunch of marital metaphors to suggest this will not lead to happiness and fulfillment.

Pam Marone--self-proclaimed entrepreneur, integrated pest management, arguing in favor of biotech and high tech investment and development.

Norma Turner--mentions the scope of West Village on the periphery of Davis in addition to the three development areas... Davis squeezed on both sides, West Village is underway. No mention at all about West Village in the GP. Complained about the timing of the meeting.

Jeanie Jones: Talked about land use needs and what it takes make tier one property to establish development. In favor of IC. The need for visibility from the freeway (why is that a need for a research facility???). Basically saying there are several needs for the facility, and this location provides them.

Jean Jackman: Asks for the study areas to be removed. talks about broken trust. Talks about the work that has been going on that will be rendered moot. Erosion of democracy. Local control.

Another person talking about the need for stem cells. (hey folks Stem Cell research is great, just not there). Lou Vismarro speaks for it and calls Yamada a leader on this in the entire state.

Holly Bishop is speaking against the proposal. Lacks infrastructure, water, sewers, etc.

My neighbor, Ami Daly, speaks in favor of the IC. She was a nurse at children's hospital in Sac, now exec director of stem cell research organization. (Again I strongly favor stem cell research--just not there--at UC Davis would be perfect).

Rebecca Wu speaking for Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald... The “Pass-Through Agreement” allows us, as citizens of Davis; the right to determine the future of our city. It allows us as citizens to determine if we want to be surrounded by acres and acres of urban sprawl, or if we want our borders to have the beautiful agricultural land and open space, that for decades, has defined Davis. She addressed both Helen and Mariko for their contributions to the community and asked for them to honor and protect our heritage and our commitment to open space.

Wu speaking for herself became very passionate about her commitment to open space and the defense thereof in Davis.

Sally Parker of the Flatlander, argued against study areas. Suggested that Covell Village was opposed by a 60-40 margin of Davis voters, asked how many of them won by that margin back, McGowan raised his hand.

Research director of Psychology spoke in favor of IC.

Ann Privateer, 100 best places to live in Money Magazine, Davis not on the list, all of them under 50,000, many under 10000 people. Many people do not want to like in big cities. Describes population problems with 70K people.

Liver doctor supports stem cell research... (Do I have to say it again?)

Pam Nieberg, Co-chair of Yolano Sierra Club. Opposed to peripheral development, against bringing Covell Village. Davis does not want these massive developments on the borders. Davis should determine what it needs and what it does not need. ATK not proposing the stem cell research, proposing a 7500 development and the funds from that will go to SCR. (Great speech by Pam).

JD Stack, Sac Area Regional Tech Alliance. Guessing he's going to talk about IC. No position on properties under consideration. Brings up UC Davis. UCD with private companies leaves to good jobs and great innovation. Supports IC.

Mark Spencer--quotes Gandhi, "he must hurry in order to catch up with his people." Suspects someone has taken a wrong turn, and you are not wherever your constituents are. Your positions on these things do not trump your relationship with your constituents. Stem cell research is not the issue. SCR into this discussion divides people who agree on SCR against each other. Land use proposal, not a SCR proposal.

Break coming at 1 pm.

Did not catch the name, but he is speaking passionately against conflating stem cell research with land use. Arguing against sprawl and massive development.

Helene Wagner--school teacher, asking to exclude three parcels from general plan and honor pass-through agreement with the city of Davis. I'm for stem cell research. This is a land use issue, let's not pull the heart strings. Let Davis vote for themselves.

Bob Thomas--represents ATK family. "Stop urban myths." ATK supports study on 1500 acres, family not interested in building on 2800 acres. Will honor policy on ag pres, mit. habitat and farmland. Question is should we study the area--no specific plan at this time.

Katherine Hess, Ruth Asmundson and Don Saylor next...

Hess: city of Davis number of concerns... Violation of principles of Pass through agreement. Asks for two proposals to be removed. Concerns with special study areas--not sure what study area means with respect with city and county. Hopes that study area means no changes to map without w/o mutual consent of city and county.

Helen: is it a GP update in Davis or a housing plan?

Hess: Housing plan but will impact GP overall.

Asmundson: Davis is altogether on this issue--first time ever. Supports what Mayor Greenwald said. Pass through agreement most important thing we've done with city and county and hopes that we can honor it. Sit down and have joint rational discussion of city and county issues. Before put this in a study, we sit down and have a rational discussion/ civil discourse, mutually beneficial outcome.

Saylor: Represent adding 40-70% of existing land use acreage in city. Healthy and sustainable community that has healthy and sustained growth. Planning outside of boundary area, threatens this planning. Cannot implement mitigations when these proposals come forward. Points out none of these people have talked to anyone in city of Davis about IC. In general, would prefer that this would occur through dialogue rather than current approach. Constitute moves that we would see as growth-inducing.

Nancy Price: Speaks to SCR issue. Concerned about lobbying effort on this project.


Talking about break at 1 pm. 12 more people from Davis.

Meeting has resumed...

Susan Pelican: Lives on Road 95 in Woodland. Complains that all of these projects are developer driven; Davis wants citizens to decide for the citizenry, Davis wants to protect its own environment and its own community to survive. Wants to keep agriculture and strengthen it.

Don Reid: From Fremont. Does know stem cell politics--stem cell politics. Never heard of developer wanting to give 80 percent of proceeds away. Cannot separate use of land from the use of the land. A hasty no might cost something that we might never have a chance at again.

Carolyn Kopper: AKT can build the stem cell center on the UC Davis campus, just as Mondavi's donated wine institute. Asking for us to pay for this with massive urban sprawl, traffic congestions, and air pollution. Stem cell center should be Davis' citizens decision.

Karen Bloomquist: Many citizens voted for Measure J. Many voted against Covell Village and it lost. Wants the county to adhere to those decisions by Davis residents.

Lyle Smith--Big proponent of stem cell research and bringing it to Davis; this about AKT bringing Natomas to Davis. I have a big problem with this. Talks about big financial risk on this. Questions loss of ag land and building on a flood plain.

Randy Yakzan--Two key issues in Davis. Very large developer, UC Davis, an approved project on the city of Davis. If this had been a private developer there would have been many studies. Thinks the county has the duty to look at the region because of this. These are complex issues around Davis. It is appropriate for the county to lead the study. Agrees city and county should discuss. (Mr. Yakzan is the managing partner of the Oeste Ranch)

Glenn Holstein: That little space between Davis and Woodland--best place to grow tomatoes and where rare species of hawks live. This is a delicate area. Talks about the geology of the area--soils, well-watered, delta breeze. Spoke of Democracy and the fact that sometimes don't like it when people don't vote right. Establishment supported covell village. Voters voted it down. Now feels like they are punishing the people of Davis for their vote.

Yamada interjects: clarifies that at no time has there been a discussion of abolishing the pass-through agreement.

Steve Hayes: 34 year resident of Davis and Yolo County. California Dept of Water Resources. Supports comments from Mayor Greenwald. Requests honoring pass through agreement. Asks for compassionate way to respond to citizens pushing this and find a way to support this without the other development. Likened it to burning down a barn to cook a pig. Managed to unify the city in a way that we have never seen before.

Peggy Hayes: Teacher. Appreciates stem cell issue. But still thinks not time and place for this. Concerned about losing country and her democracy.

Matt Williams--struck by black and white depiction of this issue. Talks about stem cell research as a means to help people. Also has a 600 signature petition signed asking for no residential development to take place on the SE comments. Hearkens to Rexroad's comments--this may be a good idea, but it may be the wrong place. This boils down to money, AKT would like to develop somewhere and make money. That development does not have to be on the prime agricultural land. Asks for AKT to mitigate development, fund the research, and provide the research. Doesn't believe right place is in the southeast quadrant.

Constance McKee: Land use is a compromise between air, water, land, and people. AKT has proposed something that would be a compromise. Hopes in a discussion going forward some of the presuppositions can be set aside. 66 percent of people in this area voted for stem cells. (Again may I say it!!!) Said Woodland is a nice town but could use a few more jobs.

Bruce McKenzie: Davis is a nice place to live. I'd to see the city of Davis stay the same as it was--it was 40K now it is 70K. City of Davis made it clear that we did not want Covell Village.

Helen Thomson asks meaning of special study

Answer: area of specified future study in general plan. Right now it is a concept that have been directed to address. The assumption would be agriculture but would include possibilities to study certain areas as directed. Nothing specific, only a discussion between the two entities.

What would the wording in the plan say and what would that require you to do?

Engage communities in a dialogue as to how to address those properties. Not our intent to address them as landuse overlays. No change in general plan designation or zoning. Only looking at areas of future interest in conjunction with the discussions with other entities.

Chamberlain: opposes stem cells in that location. Wants to respect vote at Covell. Wants to work with cities not against them.

McGowan: First said that we should not tell Davis where we should have their growth. But somehow we need to improve this dialogue a little bit. I think the county should take some responsibility in improving that. Heard that in the council statements--a note of improving communication. Need to respect a city's definition of themselves. Blaance that against some pressing demands for the county--those have to do with revenue issues. Disheartening to hear this disconnect between what the board believes in, its history and the perception out there. Protect unique differences between the communities. Troubling to here reaction toward my colleagues on the political side--vote people out who have dedicated their lives to trying to represent you.

I would like to take the lead from my collleagues of Davis--adult conversation, less charged conversation--representing needs of Davis with growing needs of County.

I have no idea where McGowan stands on any of this and he spoke for a long time.

Helen Thomson speaks next. Shares concerns about talk about democracy and process. Speaks about the services that county provides. Speaks directly to recall effort--says back gets stiff, becomes rigid, and becomes angry when she hears these threats.

Says she signed first pass-through agreement.

Says she doesn't like fact daughter cannot live there. (in fact there are plenty of homes that she can afford just not the overpriced house like the one her parents live in).

People are feeling victimized--she's rather surprised by that. Feels this was an open process that people should have been aware.

Thomson continues to lecture the community about how they are wrong and she is right.

Yamda goes next--what about Rexroad?

Also speaks about cost of homes. Talks about her lack of living in this area as not being a determinate of the merit of her arguments.

Says she would be the last person on this board who would say we ought to throw out the pass-through agreement. It is my view, that the county has subordinated its land use authority through the pass-through agreement.

I don't think we should we should allow the fiscalization of land use become the politicization or terrorization of land use.

Yamada instead of diffusing the situation, is ratcheting up the heat.

Have a sense that county is disrespected as well. You might feel disrespected, but we feel disrespected as well. Not an enemy. Not trying to invade the borders. Says she is the city of Davis.

Proposes that she is not prepared to remove her responsibility to what is a higher order discussion to 2030 because she is threatened.

Yamada lecturing community on principals.

Wants to try to propose that we set aside, this is too threatening--symptomatic of the tremendous lack of trust. This is too threatening. She wants to set aside these areas. Not prepared to say no to study, but willing to set aside.

Yamada: Not prepared to remove this.

Rexroad makes punting analogy.

Helen Thomson: One thing that would help would be to remove the 1500 acres along the I80 corridor, doesn't see this as a good site for housing. Doesn't see a proposal. Doesn't see this as acceptable.

Yamada said no residential. Also thinks this is too large in terms of acreage.

Prolonged discussion now about what to do...

McGowan wants to get rid of the red lines on pieces of dirt.

McGowan: suggested considering development around Davis but seemed to suggest only if they could make the political case so as to not produce this kind of angst.

Mariko finally starts to make sense. Suggests a discrepancy between what is written and how people feel. The board is FINALLY getting the fact that people do not trust the process right now.

McGowan: County can always do what it wants if it is willing to violate the pass-through agreement.

Rexroad: Moves to remove Northwest Quadrant and Covell from the Joint Study Area

Second by Chamberlain

Thomson argues against. Argues FOR Oeste. Wants at least a discussion on Oeste.

Rexroad: Thinks if this is to be developed it should be in the city of Davis by the city of Davis.

Yamada argues against Rexroad. Now she lectures again.

Motion fails 2-3 with Thomson, Yamada and McGowan voting against. (Let this end the discussion about Rexroad).

Thomson wants to do it again but take away the line.

Yamada, McGowan, and Thomson, voted to retain the NW Quadrant and Covell Village in joint study areas.

Recess until 4 pm

Everyone is reading this blog--supervisors, developers, staff, family members, etc. So perhaps I will say the following: if your intent was to diffuse tensions between the city and the county, what has occurred in the last hour has been the exact opposite. The city and its residents do not want the county and county supervisors lecturing them as to what we should or should not take offense to. The Davis supervisors voted against Rexroad's proposal. I do not see where they are going now. I still do not know how we can fix this thing unless we take this threat off the table first, and then discuss it second, once the threat was removed.

Staff announces a solution: There was a break for supervisors to meet with staff behind closed doors.

Final vote:

Motion is made to set aside all of the "red lines" (on the general plan maps) around Davis and hold discussions. Basically this removes the proposed study areas from the general plan and authorizes some form of discussion in the future. The supervisors, based upon this vote, reversed their previous vote and now have removed all study area designations from the general plan update discussion.

Yamada proposes if necessary to bring in a professional mediator to help with discussion. Staff is suggesting an avenue for discussion as a policy matter. Staff wishes to pursue as a matter of policy further discussions.

Vote passes 4-1 with Chamberlain dissenting (he just wanted to kill it completely, no discussions in the future). Saylor and Asmundson spoke in support of this compromise.

It appears at this time, that the citizens of Davis and their city council have prevailed upon both Davis Supervisors and the entire board to reverse the course of planning staff's recommendations and thereby have removed all massive developer projects in and around Davis from the general plan update process.

Thank you to everyone for following this issue so closely and thank you again to county staff for accommodating this live blog.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting