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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Tsakopoulos Signals the End of His Proposed Development Along the I-80 Corridor

In a July 12, 2007 Sacramento Bee article Yolo County Supervisor Mariko Yamada was quoted as saying:
"I would like everyone to take a deep breath. Calm down... There will be no decisions on specific projects that will be entertained in terms of action on Tuesday."
As developer Angelo Tsakopoulos firmly understood however, the stakes were very high. A "yes" vote, might not have begun construction on the project. But as Tsakopoulos suggested:
"If they decide not to study it, it's all over."
Toward that end, Tsakopoulos and his supporters brought in a large number of activists, researchers, and representatives to the Yolo County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday.

In the end, the County voted by a 4-1 vote not to include the proposed study areas, including the Tsakopoulos proposal along I-80, in the general plan update.

One of the people that Tsakopoulos hired to promote his proposal was Bob Waste, a professor of public policy at California State University Sacramento.

The first Tsakopous article appeared in the Sacramento Bee on June 28, 2007. The next day, the Vanguard ran the article: "Commentary: Who is left to defend Yolo County Farmland?"

Like many other entities before it such as UC Davis, Tsakopoulos had his people, including Bob Waste, monitoring the Vanguard. Now that this fight was over, Tsakopoulos and Bob Waste will undoubtedly move on to his next fight, trying to woo the next community to approve his housing development by holding out the carrot of promise.

As the Sacramento Bee wrote on June 28, the recent plan was:
"similar in approach to efforts Tsakopoulos has made in Sacramento and Placer counties, where he offered to fund an NBA arena and a university, respectively, with the proceeds from new development on agricultural land that is now off limits to building."
Yolo County joins now a growing list of communities that said, "no" to the carrot for fear of the stick that inevitably would follow--massive housing developments of faceless, tract homes. Davis did not need to become the next Natomas in exchange for the potential promise of a stem cell research facility--should the project have generated enough money to fund it.

This was not a realistic way to produce either more affordable housing or a stem cell research facility. I understand the frustration of those for whom this research holds out a beacon of hope. But there are other issues at stake. Building housing developments on agricultural land is in the long run not a sustainable practice. If California is truly going to reach 60 million people in the next 40 years, we not only need to provide housing for them, but we need to feed them. It is difficult to do that when you are paving over prime agricultural land. It is also unrealistic to continue to develop in flood plains.

At the end of the day, the people of Davis dodged a bullet, while Tsakopoulos will move on, hoping the next community is a bit more amenable to his plans. I feel bad for those like Ami Daly who sat next to me at the meeting and Bob Klein who I met after the meeting, people who have a genuine passion for stem cell research. For them, hope was in the air, but for Tsakopoulos, the stem cell research center was simply a carrot to dangle in hopes of getting his urban sprawl development along the I-80 corridor. If he was genuinely interested in stem cell research he could have funded it without the requisite massive housing development on prime agricultural land. I hope that the necessary funding can be obtained to produce a research facility in a more appropriate location. If Tsakopoulos were to fund such a center at UC Davis, or at a more appropriate location it would leave an amazing legacy and hope for many.

I also believe that there are other and better solutions to housing costs other than the perpetuation of the same policies that drove up housing costs to begin with. More on that in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, Bob Waste and Angelo Tsakopoulos' proposal for a massive housing development exit from the Vanguard's community, and in the end, Davis and Yolo County are better for it.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Trader Joe's Poll Results

Friday, July 20, 2007

City Needs to Examine Water Issues Before the Final Bill Hits the City Ratepayers

The water issue is not an issue that has resonated with the Davis public just yet. In part, perhaps, because I think most people simply just are not aware of the magnitude of the increase in service charge they are facing in the coming years. Many families will be looking at a two to three fold increase (at minimum) in the coming years. We are talking about paying $2000 per year just in water.

Tuesday night the Davis City Council approved a resolution adopting the Yolo County Integrated Resource Water Management Plan (IRWMP). This is a regional plan that is broad in scope. In fact, so broad that the city produced a large and thick booklet. That booklet was delivered on Friday afternoon to the Davis City Council members--full of complex water-related issues.

Councilmember Lamar Heystek questioned the staff for delivering such a thick and dense document at such late a point. And while staff was apologetic about the completion time, there are a number of issues that could be brought up just from this fact. The Brown Act requires that all public meetings receive 72 hours notice. The city council agenda and packet are generally complete sometime on Friday afternoon. In technical terms that is around 96 hours plus in advance.

However, from a practical standpoint, there are problems with such timing. The basic information about agenda items is indeed available well in advance. However, anything dense or complicated has practical limitations. For instance, a member of the public probably would not be aware of the existence of this particular bound report until Monday. Thus from a practical standpoint, the public for some things really only has 24 to 36 hours notice. The weekend serves as time from the standpoint of the Brown act, but also as a dead zone in terms of the ability to learn about some of the more complex agenda items.

While all considerations have to be balanced with a practical understanding of the duties and tasks of city staff, a Thursday delivery date would push the time forward by 24 hours, but allow people time both during the week prior and the week of to more fully explore the council's agenda items.

Councilmember Heystek also introduced a substitute motion on Tuesday, to exclude from the report material related to the proposed but not passed water supply project. Though both Councilmember Heystek and Mayor Sue Greenwald made a valiant effort to convince Councilmember Stephen Souza onto their side, in the end, that substitute motion failed by a 3-2 vote and the main motion passed by a 3-2 vote.

In practical terms, this vote probably was only symbolic. Councilmember Stephen Souza made the point that this does not authorize anything new, and he is correct. On the other hand, as we have seen with this issue, much of what has been pushed along has been done either without votes from council to change course, or by piecemeal votes. One wonders if there will actually be a final vote on such a project or if at some point it be brought forth bit by bit into fait accompli status.

There are a number of questions about this project that need to be addressed. The first question is whether or not we need to have the water supply project at all. The city maintains that the water quality is not suitable presently. In fact, the water quality is perfectly suitable for drinking, what it is not suitable for is outflow back into the environment. That in itself begs a number of questions--chief among them, is whether we cannot deal simply with the present water supply.

The next question is whether we can, as Mayor Greenwald claims, rely on deep well aquifers to supply water for the next 30 to 50 years. That time, would allow for a number of things including allowing us to pay off the water treatment center, so that the residents of Davis are not hit with a double whammy of rate increases. The Mayor has especially objected to the lack of study from independent consultants and experts about the feasibility of such an alternative plan.

In part there needs to be a healthy skepticism about the current arrangement between the city and their hired water experts and consultants. Part of that skepticism is based on the idea that the same people asked to evaluate the water situation are the same people who would profit from the city adopting a water supply project.

Mayor Sue Greenwald has repeatedly suggested that the "experts" she has talked to have presented very different findings than have the city paid engineers and consults. Perhaps it is time that they come forth and speak before the public.

We also must question the size of the water supply project. As Councilmember Heystek suggested, the supply is far larger than the city's current needs, and he wondered aloud if the actual goal was to enable and facilitate growth rather than to fix a water supply problem.

Finally, we must again question the judgment of councilmembers such as Councilmember Don Saylor, who has voted each time to support and push this project ahead while at the same time, members of the West Yost Associates consulting firm have attended his campaign announcement party and undoubtedly in part helped to bankroll his re-election bid.

That leaves us with the vexing question as to whether we are getting the best governance or simply the best governance that money can buy.

It seems to me, that in the end, this entire water supply system might be our only choice. But it is estimated at this point to cost around $300 million. My guess is that the actual price will only be higher. I would like to see a concerted effort by city staff and our elected officials to take as many measures as possible to ensure that the solution that we have selected is the only reasonable alternative that we can take. It may end up being the course that we are presently on, but I would like for us to ask all the tough questions. In the meantime, I would like to see the same answers from people who will not financially benefit from these decisions as West Yost Associates will. In short, I want to hear from Mayor Greenwald's experts, it is time for her to stop talking about what they are saying and actually have them come forward and show us all what they have apparently told the Mayor. The public has the right to know.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Commentary: Deafening Silence on Covell Village by Dunning and Others

On November 17, 2006, Davis Enterprise Columnist Bob Dunning maliciously excoriated Councilmember Lamar Heystek when the Councilmember made the observation that Target was "by no means a mandate." Dunning responded surreptitiously that "target didn't need a 'mandate,' just one vote."

Imagine Dunning's outrage had the county decided to step in and prevent the building of the new Target. He would be arguing that the county was blatantly and willfully ignoring the will of the Davis voters and overstepping its bounds.

In 2005 the Voters of Davis voted down the Covell Village by a wide margin, a measure that Dunning if he did not outright oppose, certainly had strong leaning in that direction during the Measure X campaign. And now this past Tuesday the county both staff and supervisors were talking about resurrecting that project along with two others. What was Dunning's response? Was it outrage? Did he blast the County for usurping the will of the Davis voter? Did he hold Supervisor Helen Thomson, a Yes on Covell Village supporter, in contempt for ignoring the clear will of Davis voters?

I read his column from yesterday with great interest. But amazingly instead of going after the county for trying to thwart the will of Davis voters, Dunning is taking shots at the Davis City Council for trying to protect the right of the city to determine its own growth.
"YOLO CONTENDERS … boy, does our City Council like to think it's in control or what? … stunned that the county might actually try to have a say in the where and how of growth in this Yolo Wonderland, Councilman Steve Souza said "I want a strong and forceful letter sent to the county." … in other words, send the growth to Dunnigan …"
Hey it is not like the Davis voters didn't vote against one of the projects by a 60-40 margin. It is not like the City of Davis and the County of Yolo did not sign a pass-through agreement. It is not like the City of Davis is not due to pay the county $72 million over the next 18 years--more than the rest of the cities in Yolo County combined--not to develop on Davis' periphery. And it is certainly not like the Davis voters did not pass Measure J--a measure that Dunning claims he supported--that gives the Davis voters the right to determine what projects to approve and what projects they disapprove.

If Dunning wanted to be clever, perhaps he could have quipped that for the one time in our memories the entire Davis City Council agreed on something--that growth in Davis' sphere of influence, on its periphery, should be determined by the city of Davis and not Yolo County. Instead of signaling any agreement with the Council's apparent unanimity in this instance, he chose to mock the bedrock of our land use policies for the last 20 years, which is very telling. One can infer without much strain his ambivalence about the concept behind Measure J, which is up for renewal in 2010.

Hey it is easy to poke fun of Bill Kopper's efforts to stop this land deal. I too thought it was premature to talk recall before a vote was taken. But let me tell you something, Bob Dunning was dead wrong when he said on Friday that recall was "dead on arrival." At 3:45 pm yesterday, before the board of Supervisors took a very quick about face, the recall was alive and well and the General was coming down from the mountain to lead the charge.

And let me tell you something else, the amount of times that recall was raised by the public on Tuesday was once. But it was raised repeatedly, over and over again without prompting by members of the Board of Supervisors, specifically Helen Thomson and Mariko Yamada. They complained about it. They whined about it. It got under their skin. But at the end of the day, the threat of recall was one factor among many that led to the halt. No sir, the recall was not dead on arrival, it was very much alive.

I read in today's Dick Dorf column, Dorf's continued support for development at Covell Village. Mr. Dorf was a strong and outspoken supporter of Measure X. Sir, your side lost. Your side lost by a very wide margin. Do you really believe it when then Mayor Asmundson said, the "voters didn't understand what the 1,864-unit development offered" or that "We needed to educate the community better on the project," as she did April 30, 2006? Sir, we did understand the project, the costs, the liabilities, the traffic, the air pollution, the unaffordability and ultimately in large numbers decided to vote no.

Bob Dunning attacked Councilmember Heystek when he issued a mild statement about the closeness of the Target vote precluding a large mandate but said nothing when the County Board of Supervisors tried to overturn the landslide no-on Measure X vote.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Vanguard Celebrates Its First Birthday on July 30th--And you are ALL invited

The People's Vanguard of Davis is celebrating its first Birthday on July 30, 2007 and we are inviting the entire community to our party. This figures to be a light, entertaining, and irreverent night. There will be speeches and distinguished guests--all will be in good fun. Please join us! (For details click on the image above).

This is for everyone whether you agree, disagree. We're going to have fun and make fun of ourselves and live it up. All public officials have been invited. There will be a no-host bar, music, good food. We are going to have speakers and an emcee. It's all going to be light and funny. We'll have a speaker list available shortly.

We also need volunteers who can help set up, serve the drinks, and clean up. If interested, contact me as soon as possible.

The cost is $20, just enough to pay for the food and rental. If there is money left over, it goes to charity. THIS IS NOT A FUNDRAISER.

You can either pay at the door or you can send a check payable to the People's Vanguard of Davis to P.O. Box 4715, Davis, CA 95617-4715

We need to get a good head count, so RSVP as soon as possible. I look forward to meeting a lot of people who have read the blog but I have not met.

Commentary: Stem Cell Issue a "Trojan Horse" For Massive Development Along I-80

Perhaps the low point in the proceedings on Tuesday was when Miss Disabled California came to speak before the Yolo County Board of Supervisors, wearing her sash and spoke about how one day, she hoped that she would give up her crown because her condition would be cured.

Indeed, there was a full parade of individuals, many of whom either suffered from horrendous maladies or who had family members who had, that came up to speak about the need for stem cell research and specifically for the Tsakapoulos project that proposed developing 1500 acres of housing development and using the proceeds to fund a stem cell research facility in the area along the I-80 corridor.

The worst part about watching this, is that during breaks, I got to meet a number of people who had come here for the promise of the possibility of a world-class research facility promised by Mr. Tsakapoulos. 364 days out of the year, I would have been on the side of these people, fighting for funding for this new technology that promises to make for a better life for so many people.

Unfortunately, on this day, I was on the other side from them. For in my view, Supervisor Matt Rexroad was correct, "This was not a stem cell issue. It is a land use issue."

I would stop somewhat short however of requesting that their testimony be ruled out of order--"The testimony from these people should have been ruled out of order. It had no bearing on the issue at hand."

Had I been chair, I would have ruled that they could speak, but would probably direct them to tie back to the land use question, even if it was a mechanical statement at the end, "for that reason, please allow the joint study area to go forward" or something like that...

Supervisor Rexroad also complained about the use of official UC Davis letterhead for the purpose of political lobbying which implied that these positions represented the position of the university.
"The one remaining procedural issue I had from the meeting involves all the letters being passed around on UC Davis letterhead. Several went around the room yesterday. They were written on official looking letterhead by people with important titles that worked for UCD."
Supervisor Rexroad is sending a letter to Chancellor Vanderhoef asking for a clarification of the University's position on this issue.

In the meantime, last night, Elisabeth Sherwin of the Davis Enterprise reported that Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef had in fact released a statement.
“On behalf of the university, I support the research and the development of the kind of research park that would house such research,” he said through spokesman Mitchel Benson.

“As to where such a research park might be located, there would be obvious advantages to having it in proximity to the university, but communities in which the siting is proposed to occur would have to first deal with its pros and cons,” Vanderhoef said. “The decision, then, rests most appropriately with those communities and their elected officials.”
For me, this was a land-use issue, not a stem cell issue. Supervisor Helen Thomson suggested that she would "like to see Yolo County have a stem-cell research center somewhere." Supervisor Rexroad suggested that UC Davis would be a better location for such a research facility.

In the end, I would suggest that the Board of Supervisors work with the city of Davis and UC Davis to help bring a stem-cell research facility to this county, however, it needs to be in an appropriate location.

As I suggested 364 out of 365 days in the year, I support stem-cell research and would have been fighting right next to these people. But this was not the location to put it. Moreover, as I suggested to one of the advocates sitting next to me, why was there no discussion with the City of Davis about this? This went completely through the county. That was inappropriate.

Jim Provenza who is running for the Board of Supervisors to replace Supervisor Yamada was exactly right with several of his points. He called the Stem-Cell Research center a Trojan horse that is being used to sneak development in a location along Interstate 80 that is inappropriate for a number of reasons.

First, it would represent tremendous sprawl out to the east of Davis. It would abut the levy, which would place it into a flood zone and also a sensitive wild life area.

Moreover, it would bring in thousands of new residents onto a highway that is already congested to capacity. His description of it as the "congestion corridor" was very accurate.

We need to be clear on this point--the county in my opinion, ceded land use authority on the Davis periphery when it signed the pass-through agreement and took the city's money. But regardless of who controls land-use authority, this location is inappropriate for development.

When the point was raised that this location was inappropriate, one of the individuals there to lobby for stem cell research mentioned that without the capital investment, the research facility was not feasible. They also described in what ways the Proposition 71 was insufficient--one example was that state money could not be bundled with foreign investment.

These are all serious concerns. However, at the end of the day, I think it is inappropriate for people to come into this community and start demanding that we have huge developments in order for them to get their research facility. They do not live here and have to deal with many of the consequences. I would not go into someone else's community with such demands and then mock and dismiss the concerns of the community.

At the end of the day, I still firmly believe that there is not an inherent conflict between good land-use policy and good social policy. It is easy to dismiss such concerns---as many have--as being part and parcel to NIMBYism. NIMBYism implies that it is okay for other communities to take up these projects or other neighborhoods, but not ours. In fact, I do not believe that it is. What I believe, is no community should have sprawl forced upon it. That all communities need to look at their growth policies. That all communities need to value the environment, open space, and prime agricultural land. If we continue to pave ag land, how are we expecting to eat? I would question our reliance on constructing cheap tract homes that all look the same while constructing big-box retail that makes all cities look and taste the same. We need to retain our local flavor, our uniqueness, and our pride. These are not just values for Davis, they are values for all communities across the state and the country.

I am very saddened by what I saw on Tuesday, where I think people with legitimate issues, legitimate concerns, and who are committed to improving the lives of many individuals in a good and true manner, were used by developers in order change our land use policies. To me that was just not right and not fair. And so I say that the developers need to step up and find a way to fund this facility using good and smart land use policies that the citizens of Davis and Yolo County can tolerate.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hard Work Behind the Scenes by Heystek and Provenza Helped Save the Pass-Through Agreement

Most people have probably seen the blow-by-blow via the Vanguard commentary on the Board of Supervisors as it happened. It was a difficult, tense, but ultimately fun and fulfilling process to sit in the back of the room and blog. What was perhaps most amazing is that I was getting instant feedback from my comments not just on the blog itself, but from people in the room and by text message. Everyone in that room knew what was going on and being there in that room, along with 50 plus residents of Davis, most of whom were united in their conviction on this one issue, at least in my view had a profound impact over the final verdict.

What people however did not see was the hard work that happened from Sunday until the meeting convened on Tuesday morning. Much of that work, set the stage for what was ultimately a huge victory for those in Davis who have fought hard over the decades for the preservation of agricultural land and open space and at the same time for self-determination. This was first and foremost a debate over who should determine how we grow. (We will have a long conversation at a future date about stem cell research and social services--both of which I very strongly support and will work in the future to address).

On Sunday night, Davis City Councilmember Lamar Heystek and Davis School Board President Jim Provenza met with Yolo County Supervisor Mariko Yamada for approximately two hours.

As Heystek told the Davis City Council on Tuesday night:
"I was able to convene a meeting late Sunday night with School Board President Jim Provenza and Board of Supervisors Chair Mariko Yamada. The meeting was held in a public place and there were piping-hot mugs of coffee at the table. We weren’t there only as three elected officials from three of the involved jurisdictions. We were there as three Davisites discussing the issue jointly and rationally. After talking the issue through for over two hours, President Provenza and I were emboldened by a window of opportunity we were able to crack open. We were emboldened by the prospect that Chair Yamada would support a delay in Tuesday’s vote in order to join the City in a rational discussion – and this is very important – within the framework of the current pass-through agreement."
Both Councilmember Heystek and School Board President Provenza believed that the only way to save the pass-through agreement was somehow to get the Board of Supervisors to pause and not make a final decision. Instead, they suggested that they engage the city in a discussion over a variety of things. However, both Mr. Heystek and Mr. Provenza made it clear that the pass-through agreement was not on the table.

As Councilmember Heystek put it, "The City of Davis has never opposed engaging in the right discussion, on the right terms, under the right conditions." What they did object to, was a joint study area, where there would be direct talks about changes to land-use designations.

From the beginning on Tuesday, it appeared that the worst case scenario would not be on the table. Supervisor McGowan asked early on directly what "special study area" meant, and the answer was that it would be studied for possible future use but it would not be placed into the general plan EIR or cleared for development, nor would there be CEQA clearance. This was a key point, for the triggering mechanism for recall was placement of these areas in the county's EIR, where it presumably could be entitled and become a development area with a single vote. That appeared early on to be off the table.

There was a clear conciliatory tone coming from the Davis City Council at this meeting. Mayor Sue Greenwald asked for a removal of the study areas from the EIR. But then asked to work cooperatively, as the city and county have in the past and suggested both a willingness to compromise and cooperate.

Like the Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem Asmundson was very conciliatory in her approach. She suggested that the city and county sit down and have joint rational discussion of city and county issues. Before putting this in a study, we sit down and have a rational discussion and civil discourse toward a mutually beneficial outcome.

During the course of board discussion there seemed to be almost two mindsets. First, there was the acknowledgment by the Board of Supervisors, that what they were doing was generating a lot of fear and angst amongst citizens and their leaders from the city of Davis. There was a simple reason for that--no one from Davis understood exactly what the County's intentions were and there was limited communication. When the two bodies communicated formally or informally there was much dissension and a tone of arrogance especially coming from our own Davis Supervisors Helen Thomson and Mariko Yamada.

During yesterday's meeting Supervisor Yamada suggested at one point that there was a discrepancy between what was written and how people feel. That there was a lack of trust for the process. This was entirely correct.

And yet in the next breath both Supervisor Yamada and Thomson began lecturing the city of Davis--its residents and its elected officials in an arrogant and condescending tone. At one moment, they seemed to understand it, the next they were lashing out against it. They claimed that the recall for instance had no impact on their viewpoints, and yet they were the ones who raised it over and over again. No one from the public raised the issue of recall, but the Supervisors did, they were aware of it, and it clearly affected them, despite their pronunciations to the contrary.

Moreover Supervisor Helen Thomson remarked that no one had threatened the pass-through agreement. She pointed out that she signed the original pass-through agreement. However, any implementation of the plans that appeared to be on the table, would do exactly that--jeopardize the pass-through agreement between the city and county. I hope that was never the intent of Supervisor Thomson, but I think it was a legitimate fear that was shared not just by progressives to her left, but also her allies in Councilmember Don Saylor among others.

Supervisor Rexroad moved that the Northwest Quadrant and Covell Property be removed from the joint study area. Supervisor Chamberlain seconded the motion.

Supervisor Rexroad told me later, that based on statements from the meeting, he thought he had a third vote in Supervisor Yamada and was stunned when she not only voted against it but lectured him for even bringing it up for a vote. That motion failed by a 3-2 margin with Mike McGowan, Helen Thomson and Mariko Yamada voting no.

As Rexroad later wrote on his blog:
"My views on the hearing today were shaped by two primary considerations.

The first was that I think one of the most important services the county provides is protection prime agriculture land and developing appropriately. In fact, I would argue that may be the single most important service the county provides. To me it is more important than lots of other things. I mean it. Instead of viewing this as something that completes with more social services I view it as complimenting them for every resident of Yolo County.

The piece that mostly shaped my view on the Davis proposals is that I am a former Mayor. In fact, I am probably better suited in background and interest to be on a City Council than a Board of Supervisors. The key here is that I believe that the Davis City Council, as crazy and wrong as they may be sometimes, have the right to be wrong."
Some on this blog have disparaged Supervisor Rexroad either as not caring about county services or as being duplicitous on this issue. From my vantage point, Supervisor Rexroad has been for the most part very consistent on the issue of agricultural preservation. I disagree on his votes on social services and social issues, but I can respect his commitment at the same time to agricultural preservation, a value I share with him.

Following that vote, there is another bitter round of lectures from the dais mainly from Supervisors Thomson and Yamada. County Staff however requests a recess for 15 minutes. It appears that the efforts of Councilmember Heystek and Board President Provenza were futile and that this was going forward. Let there be no mistake here, at that moment, recall as an option was alive and well and there was a very strong unity in the ranks on that point.

However as the Supervisors came back something drastically changed. Another motion was taken and it passed 4-1. In this motion the concept of "study areas" was removed and no areas were identified or called out for potential development. The motion set aside all of the "red lines" (on the general plan maps) around Davis and hold discussions with the city of Davis. 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 have now removed all study area designations from the general plan update discussion. It did not completely remove discussion in the future of what were once the three study areas from General Plan consideration as the Rexroad-Chamberlain motion would have. In fact, Chamberlain ended up voting against the motion because it did not go far enough--he opposed development at those spots or any area around Davis as well as even discussing the subject, period.

Again, what it does do is first remove the specific areas from consideration--as they put it, "take the red lines off the map of Davis" (a reference to the county maps which had red lines to designate where the study areas' boundaries lay). And it did much of what Councilmember Heystek and Board President Provenza had asked--to engage the two governing bodies in fruitful discussion.

The process could have been much smoother. The tone from our Davis county supervisors should have been better. We could have been spared the lectures. But at the end of the day, we had prevailed, somehow, some way. The efforts of Mr. Heystek and Mr. Provenza will likely not be reported in the local papers, but they were instrumental in helping to move this process to the point where in the end, the considerations for development on Davis' periphery were removed from the General Plan.

My final thought on this is as follows. There is no one more committed to social services and the hope of stem cell research than many of the same progressives who fought against this proposal. However, this is not the way to achieve those ends. I hope, that when the heat diminished, the city and county can come together and find an appropriate location for a stem cell research facility and can work together to help the county provide vital social services to the elderly, the poor, and the disenfranchised. I do not believe that these values should be in conflict with the value of protection for the environment, agricultural preservation, and open space. We need to much as our leaders suggested yesterday, work together on a joint and mutually beneficial solution to this problem. And thanks in part to the work of our leaders Lamar Heystek and Jim Provenza, we will have a chance to do just that.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

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


As I write this, we are mere hours away from the showdown between the city of Davis and Yolo County that seems to be so unnecessary. The County of Yolo has legitimate concerns about revenue and the level of service, however, this is not the way to approach those concerns. Many people in Davis have spent decades in an effort to control urban sprawl and protect open space and agricultural land. If three staff proposed study areas are approved by the county today, much of that effort will be placed in jeopardy. There are many people who will not sit back and allow that to happen.

The Vanguard opposed the notion of recall just last week citing a number of concerns, however, if the county goes forward and places these projects in the County General Plan EIR, the calculations will change dramatically. At the very least, the Vanguard hopes that the county will hit the pause button and sit down and discuss with the city of Davis the concept of the pass-through agreement which provides a large amount of money per year to county, and determine the best road to go forward for both governmental bodies.

Reading press accounts of this impending showdown along with reader comments, there is a fair amount of misperceptions about just how this process works and what is in it for the county and the city.

The Sacramento Bee's editorial placed some of the blame for this battle on the backs of Davis growth policies:
"At the same time, Yolo County needs to end its confrontational approach with Davis. And the city needs to recognize its own culpability. By voting down housing projects such as Covell Village, Davis residents make it all but inevitable that county officials and developers will seek opportunities on the edge of town."
There are several implications of this statement that need direct rebuttal.

First, there is the notion that Davis has somehow not taken on its fair share of growth. In fact, Davis is in some ways "compelled" to grow at 1% per year by LAFCO. Davis is in fact in compliance with that growth rate. So to suggest that Davis has shirked its growth responsibilities is false.

Second, even if Davis had approved Covell Village, we would still be having these talks. Why? Because the county gets no revenue from the city based on housing developments or even growth. In short, we are having this discussion because of county level revenue shortfalls rather than because of city-based lack of growth.

Third, why is Davis the target for peripheral growth and a potential violation of the pass-through agreement? After all, Woodland and West Sacramento each have pass-through agreements and guess who pays the most to the county, by far? Davis. Davis pays far more than the other cities in the county combined to Yolo County. So why is the county putting the screws to Davis?

Fourth, there is a misperception that housing developments and growth in general equals revenue. That is fundamentally false. Housing developments in particular are net losses for localities. The city of Davis pays the county of Yolo far more in pass-through money than they would get if they developed on the periphery of Davis. It is that simple. The county of Yolo if it were to develop those three properties would get one-time developer fees in excess of the pass-through money, however, during the course of the agreement, the money from the pass-through agreement, estimated by the city of Davis to be $72 million far exceeds anything the county would get in development revenue.

We can see even in the initial county staff report doubt that development would produce the revenue that the county was looking to generate.
"On the residential side, staff is recommending against the addition of 2,100 residences within the unincorporated area near the northwest quadrant of Davis, as these units are not likely to have fiscal benefits for the county that would justify the growth given concerns regarding inconsistency with long-standing growth policies, provision of infrastructure and services, and effects on the city/county pass-through agreement."
That is the county report written at the end of January. They recommended against Oeste on the basis of insufficient revenue. Yet six months later, it and two other proposals are on the table.

Look no further than the discussion on West Village and the amount of money it would cost the city of Davis or UC Davis. Why? Housing developments are not economic boons--they are costly in terms of services provided by the governmental bodies which far off-set any tax revenue generated. Counties such as Sacramento that have attempted to generate revenue by growth, have lost money. Cities like Fresno which have attempted to generate revenue by growth, have been stuck in sprawl cycles that they cannot escape because the only portion of the development that generates revenue is in fact the developer agreement. The result is a boon of uncontrolled growth with little in return for the cities and counties. This is not the answer to a revenue shortfall.

Why Davis? Because apparently Supervisor Thomson is angry that Davis has rejected a number of what she perceived as good developments and apparently Supervisor Yamada believes this a way to generate money for her priority of social services. She wants to generate discussions with the city about ways in which the county can increase its revenue. At the end of the day, we are hopeful that an agreement can be reached and held to allow parties to step back and reconsider the implications of going forward.

However, make no mistake, there are too many people in Davis that have worked too long to preserve open space and ag land, and they will not sit back and allow two supervisors from Davis to undo their lifelong struggle. Those are the stakes in this battle and we will find out today what direction we go forward with. Do we forge ahead together and try to resolve the concerns of city and county or do we engage in a long and destructive war that in the end, all sides will end up losing.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Stay logged onto the People's Vanguard of Davis throughout this morning and possibly all day as we cover the County Board of Supervisors Meeting live from their chambers.

Monday, July 16, 2007

County Board of Supervisor's Meeting Format Draws Frustration as Showdown Nears

As the city of Davis and Yolo County brace for a potential showdown on Tuesday over three proposed "special study areas" on the Davis periphery which have been proposed for inclusion in the Yolo County General Plan Update, one side issue that has angered many has been the scheduling format that has been laid out by the Yolo County Board of Supervisors, or more to the point, the lack of a scheduling format.

The way things stand now, the board is prepared to hear each of the localities' plan individually and make a determination as to what to do on staff recommendations. The meeting is set to start at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, July 17, 2007. It would then run until lunch and break. Then the board would take up regular business at 1:30 until they concluded that business. Upon completion of that business, they would resume discussion on the General Plan Update.

Previously in February, the meeting ran until 11 pm. The format has caused a number of inconveniences to citizens and also localities who are affected by the proposed developments.

First, the county cannot pinpoint a time when a given localities proposals will appear on the agenda. That means that citizens planning to speak either have to stay all day or coordinate with others as to when to appear.

Moreover, representatives from the localities have work commitments and in the case of the city of Davis, a full blown city council meeting that evening.

The board meets during the day, meaning that people who work are often unable to go to these meetings. This may not seem like a big deal, but it gives an advantage to developers who have their representatives paid to be at the meeting, but not citizens who have to work.

People who cannot stay all day are thus left to guess as to when their item comes before the board of supervisors.

This entire set up seems un-democratic and to discourage rather than encourage participation. It does not make sense for the county to be taking up other business along side the general plan discussion. Moreover, it would make more sense to take up a few proposals at a time, so that everyone knows when their city or location will come up and can plan accordingly.

For items like this, it would make more sense to schedule an evening meeting, where they could take up four to six proposals at a time, discuss them within a period of time, and then have a series of these meetings.

The tension is especially high at this point because the perceived stakes are also high. The county is proposing three large areas on Davis' periphery be placed into "special study areas." As much as that is causing large concern, no one is exactly sure what this means--whether they go into the county's general plan EIR or whether that means a separate process is about to begin to study these areas and determine whether they should be entitled and their land use designation changed.

Regardless, this fight can be stopped tomorrow. The prognosis of this is clear--if the county votes against studying these three areas on Davis' periphery, the proposal dies. If however, the county votes to study these three areas on Davis' periphery, the fighting and war of words that we have seen this past week is just the beginning.

Efforts are presently underway to launch a recall effort if this process moves forward to a point where a single-vote of the board would lead to a land-use designation change. However, everyone seems hopeful that such a last resort can be avoided. Tomorrow's meeting will go a long way toward resolving precisely that question.

The Vanguard will be there--blogging live

The People's Vanguard of Davis will be at the meeting, blogging live with updates about progress and proposals that have come forward. Citizens of Davis should stay tuned and the Vanguard will provide them with a ballpark as to when the county will take on the issues for discussion on the "study areas" on the periphery of the city of Davis and alert them as to when the County begins discussion on the Davis items. Citizens who wish to address the board of supervisors, will have time to get up to Woodland and come speak at that point in time. Stay logged into the Vanguard for wall-to-wall coverage and breaking news of key events with regards to the General Plan Update as they happen.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Sunday, July 15, 2007

John Garamendi, Jr. Decides To Forgo Run For State Senate Seat

The Vanguard has received word that John Garamendi, Jr. has opted to not challenge Assemblywoman Lois Wolk for the Democratic nomination for the 5th Senate District. That leaves Assemblywoman Wolk from Davis as the only announced Democrat in a bid to succeed current Democratic State Senator Mike Machado.

In 2004, Mike Machado won a very hard fought battle against Stockton Mayor Gary Podesto. In a race that went back and forth up until the end, Machado ended up edging out Podesto by a margin of 52.2 to 47.8.

The closeness of that race and competitiveness of the district will likely make this race one of most heavily watched and financed State Senate races in the state. Indeed, the race has drawn a top notch Republican in Assemblyman Greg Aghazarian.

There is however, word now from some people close to the scene that has suggested that neither the Democratic leadership nor Senator Machado himself are convinced that Assemblywoman Wolk can win this seat. Part of that has to do with the southern portion of the district¬the locations that Wolk does not currently represent¬being larger than the north. In addition, that portion is much more conservative than the northern part.

There is thus increasing speculation that Democratic Party leaders are looking around for a top notched successor from the southern portion of the fifth district. Therefore, while Assemblywoman Wolk has dodged one large bullet, she may not escape without a hard fought primary election against a well-financed and party-backed challenger.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting