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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Why Do Democratic City Councils Plan Housing That Republicans Will Live In?

As I confess, the title of this post is not mine. It was in fact donated to me, the name has been erased to protect the guilty. Many would be in fact, surprised to hear the source of this title, particularly people on the city council itself.

The title comes from a debate that stems from the county general plan update proposals and well beyond that. The notion has come down from the county that the city of Davis opposes such growth proposals because this is a rich, white, elitist town. While in a number of ways, that is arguably true, I have argued against this point repeatedly because I think the center of the motivation against growth has been not only about protecting agricultural land and open space, but also procedural points that the city of Davis and not the county use have land use authority on the city edge.

Where this issue begins to gain resonance in terms of housing developments, is that as we look at proposed housing we see designs that are increasingly for less dense, large homes, on large lots. Even affordable housing requirements have a number of problems. The number of set-asides is fairly small. Those that are set aside end up being limited equity homes, which make it easy for an individual to buy a home but difficult for an individual to improve their lot in life and buy another home down the line. The alternative to the limited equity model has been basically the policy whereby a person would purchase a house for a given price and sell it two years later at a market level for a huge expenditure. Needless to say, that is not a sustainable policy and it results in a loss of affordable homes.

However, in between the true affordable limited equity home and the market price home is basically no man's land. If Davis wishes to produce more affordable housing to the average middle income person, this is the bridge they need to gulf. How do you produce the $300,000 to $400,000 home rather than the $150,000 or the $600,000 plus home?

One suggestion has been to build enough homes to increase the supply enough that the housing prices will come down. That is a tricky strategy however because you have no a closed market for homes but rather an open, regional market for homes. That regional demand keeps the prices fairly high across the board. In short, I do not believe you can build your way out of this problem without producing enough problems that reduce the quality of life in Davis.

I do not have great answers on this question, but I do think that large amounts of growth will not solve the problem unless it makes Davis a less desirable destination, which I think is not anyone's goal when they advocate for growth. On the other hand, current housing policies are going to end up creating an elite Davis filled with Republicans.

So I have two suggestions, one of my own and one from another individual. My own suggestions is that we start by building smaller, denser homes on small lots, possibly duplexes in an effort to produce a market of $300,000 to $400,000 homes. As I went around town, there are actually such homes on the market for that value. These would be small homes, two to a lot, that would sell for a lower price than the average home which is far larger.

A second suggestion comes from my source and it is an intriguing idea on how to open up the housing market without large amounts of new growth. It has to do with owner occupancy. The idea is that we require owner occupancy of single-family homes. There are a large amount of homes in town that are not on the market for single-family residences because they are not owner occupied and instead rented out. The effect of that is to take a large number of would-be residences off the housing market. The city would change zoning laws to require owner occupancy. That would mean a large number of property owning companies would need to sell their homes and place them on the market, producing a good amount of homes for a decent price.

There still would be the need for new development, to serve the needs of those who are currently renting in town. There the city would designed new rental units and cooperative living arrangements to enable a place for the current renters of single-family homes to reside. This transition would take some time, but ultimately help free up a large number of homes for home ownership while still providing the current residents of those homes a good and affordable place to live. If done correctly, this could be achieved with a minimal amount of upheaval and controversy.

I think we all agree that current policies are not sustainable. Those of us who have concerns about protection of agricultural land and open space, would still like to be able to provide more affordable housing to residents and potential residents in Davis. However, that housing should not come at some of the huge costs of current policies. Moreover, current growth proposals largely do not address these issues.

One final point, new housing should not look like the cookie-cutter tract homes of many of the new subdivisions and neighborhoods. We need to strongly encourage housing construction that produces good and unique character of neighborhoods, so that they do not look like the mere extension of suburbia that you see in some of Davis' newer neighborhoods and many of Natomas'.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Friday, July 27, 2007

Charlie Brown will speak at the Vanguard's Party July 30

On July 30, 2007 the People's Vanguard of Davis will celebrate its first birthday from 7 to 10 PM at the Davis Odd Fellows Hall. There will be food, a no-host bar, and speeches from a broad array of local officeholders and politicians. Excess proceeds will go to the Yolo Crisis Nursery.

Congressional Candidate Charlie Brown will speak at the People's Vanguard of Davis' first birthday party. Brown, a retired Lt. Colonel in the Air Force, challenged sitting incumbent John Doolittle in 2006 in California's Fourth Congressional District. Despite the district being among the most heavily Republican districts in the Brown was narrowly defeated by three points last November.

With Doolittle facing possible indictment for improprieties stemming from contributions from Jack Abramoff and also from his wife collecting campaign money for consulting services, Brown has already announced he will change one of the most corrupt politicians in the country.

Other Speakers include: Councilmember Lamar Heystek, Former Candidate for District Attorney Pat Lenzi, School Board President Jim Provenza, and County Supervisor Matt Rexroad.

The emcees will be: Former Davis Mayor Ken Wagstaff and the "General" Dick Livingston.

The Party will be held Monday, July 30, 2007 at the Davis Odd Fellows Hall located at 415 2nd Street in Davis from 7 until 10 pm. Admission is $20.

Please RSVP as soon as possible as seating is limited and we are expecting a capacity crowd for this event.

Reisig's Errors Put All Gang Injunctions In Deep Jeopardy

Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig made a decision at some point that he could gain an injunction against the Broderick Boys simply by noticing one alleged gang member. To make matters worse, that alleged gang member did not even live in West Sacramento.

However, the 3rd District Court of Appeals ruled that Reisig failed to properly notice individuals who would be served with lifetime bans on activities that ordinary people could partake in. In the decision, the court ruled the district attorney failed to "demonstrate that service on one gang member of unknown rank was reasonably calculated to achieve notice in this case" and therefore this was a violation of the federal due process standard.

District Attorney Reisig had reasoned that by telling one individual, word would spread to the rest of the gang. However the judge ruled, "Whether he would tell others was a matter of chance."

The Sacramento News and Review is reporting that other district attorneys are now concerned that the ruling in this case will threaten their case. Last month, the California District Attorney's Association attempted unsuccessfully to get the California State Supreme Court to "depublish" the opinion.

As a published case, the ruling binds all courts in the state until and unless it is "depublished" or another Applellate District Court has the same issue come before it and decides it differently. The latter becomes a "split in authority" that only the Supreme Court can settle. Depublishing removes its affect on anyone except the parties to the case.

The News and Review article cites Ventura County Special Assistant District Attorney Mike Schwartz. Unlike Reisig, Ventura County did their job adequately, noticing 65 alleged gang members and also printing notice of the injunction in the local newspaper, according to the News and Review.

Now it seems that despite their dutiful efforts at noticing alleged gang members, their policy is in jeopardy due to another error that Reisig made that was uncovered due in large part to his failure to properly notice alleged gang members.

In addition to the failure to notice, "the Yolo County DA goofed when it defined the gang as an “unincorporated association” under state law, according to the appellate ruling."

The "unincorporated association" law in California allows for such status when two or more people associate for lawful purposes. The court ruled that since gangs serve no lawful purpose, that the unincorporated association law does not apply.

Many District Attorneys disagree with this ruling arguing that gangs do have lawful purposes such as hanging out or socializing. However it is unclear that those purposes are sufficient for this status. The primary purpose of gangs is for members to associate primarily for unlawful purposes.

According to the News and Review, prosecutors have increasingly relied upon the "unincorporated association" status as a means to enjoin gang members from activities. In fact, "32 gang injunctions against nearly 50 gangs around the state" have used this definition of "unincorporated association" as their principle means by which to gain injunction.
"Thus, by playing fast and loose with the notification process, the Yolo County DA may have exposed the vulnerability of the very foundation of gang injunctions."
The consequence of this is that defense attorneys will use this ruling to attempt to strike down gang injunctions in other locations.

By attempting to short-circuit the notification process, Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig may in fact bring down the entire gang injunction system in California and prosecutors everywhere may have to go back to the drawing board to design the next tool for fighting gangs. All of this happened primarily because Mr. Reisig had the temerity to attempt to notice only one individual. Had he not, the judge likely never would have looked at the "unincorporated association" clause.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Councilmember Souza Pursues Development Project

At the last council meeting, Councilmember Stephen Souza brought forward an item submitted as a councilmember for the next week's agenda.
"I will be submitting an item for next week's agenda, called Mace-Covell Gateway, LLC, better known as the Shriner's property for negotiation acquisition for organic farms, habitat, potential sports complex."
An objection was raised to a councilmember bringing forth their own development projects as opposed to going through staff.

According to Souza, the reason he is bringing it forward rather than staff is that:
"I am going to ask the question next week whether we want to take it into closed session to discuss."
According to City Manager Bill Emlen:
"Steve has had some discussions with staff and we're certainly prepared to participate in that discussion and possibly take the lead once we get direction from council... We kind of see it as an item submitted by a councilmember that would likely evolve into something where we take the lead."
A concern was raised that this would set a precedent of councilmembers bringing forward individual development projects.

Even Councilmember Ruth Asmundson seemed a bit apprehensive and suggested it be referred to the City Manager Emlen and City Attorney Harriet Steiner.

However Ms. Steiner responded,
"I think what we need from the council at the moment, or what Councilmember Souza wants is an open session short discussion on whether or not council is interested in pursuing the item. At that point council can give us direction as to what they want to do and then we [meaning staff] can take it from there."
Councilmember Don Saylor was supportive as well of the idea of Councilmember Souza as opposed to staff bringing this forward. He cited the amount of time needed to prepare this item by staff.

However, Councilmember Souza suggested that all he was going to do was bring forward a memo at the next meeting on this item and then get direction from council as to whether to proceed. If that is the case, it does not seem that staff would have a lot of work to do to prepare a similar memo that Councilmember Souza suggested he would write.

Steiner was then asked if there were other mechanisms in place that would allow the city to look into this issue and examine it. Her answer was no.
"Probably the short answer is no, I mean a lot of times developers or property owners will approach the city and approach the city manager or staff person and sometimes they approach a councilmember generally speaking a councilmember would then refer it to staff or at least discuss it with staff. But if it is something that staff doesn't have any direction from council to pursue on a policy level then generally speaking staff wouldn't pursue it... I think the issue is having to have the issue brought forward by the property owner, however that is brought forward, we would want some kind of direction from council before the staff spent any significant amount of time discussing it."
Some comments:

I am very uncomfortable with this process as it was laid forth on Tuesday night. I agree completely with the objections that it would set a new precendent for councilmembers to directly come forward with development proposals.

It is one thing for staff to examine a development proposal, determine whether it was something they could support pursuing, and then making and outlining their own recommendations for action. It is another for a councilmember to bring forth an item of this sort and become the water-carrier for a development proposal. Instead of staff fully examining the implications, you have a councilmember acting as advocate for developer interests. That seems inappropriate to me.

Staff comes forward with development proposals and other proposals all the time without first getting direction from council. They make evaluations based on the benefits to the city versus the costs of the project. On that basis, they make a recommendation to bring a proposal forward, study it, and finally implement it. This instead seems like a way for an individual councilmember to curry favors with a preferred land developer. That does not seem appropriate.

The staff suggested that this would be a quick and simple item that would simply relay council interest to the staff, who would then have the direction to pursue it more fully. However, suppose this does go forward as council decided on Tuesday. The next developer is going to say, hey wait, here is an easier avenue to getting our proposal on the agenda, and they too will try to get a councilmember on board to carry their water on their project.

It seems to me that there is a process already in place whereby these projects go forward. You do not see individual councilmembers taking up individual development proposals and trying to get them agendized. Why is that? I think this will be a very poor precedent that has now been set by council and staff. It seems simple on the surface, but it has many implications.

We shall see next week what this proposal entails. But this seems like a concerning development.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Debate: Should the Vanguard Eliminate Anonymous Posts

I have received a lot of feedback in the last few weeks on the issue of anonymous posters. The chief problem is really that there are a lot of people who post under anonymous and therefore it is difficult of keeping track of each individual.

The alternative has some drawbacks. In order to eliminate the anonymous feature, I would have to require people to register with google in order to post. They would still be able to hide their identity. I would not know who was registered under what moniker. And I would lay out instructions for registering under a given moniker.

But before I do take that step, I would like a full discussion. And I am also putting it up in a poll. I will take this under advisement, I will not be bound by the results.

Commentary: Rhetoric Continues to Fly Between County and Davis

There is an old adage in politics, that when one finds oneself in a hole, they ought to strongly consider stopping digging. After reading the article in the Woodland Daily Democrat on Tuesday, it seems apparent that not only are certain County Supervisors continuing to dig that hole, but others are actually jumping in with them and grabbing a shovel.

Supervisor Mariko Yamada has for several weeks now and really much longer than that, angered many of her former and would be supporters not only with her continued support for development projects along the Davis periphery, but for her apparent attitude toward her constituents--many of whom are dead set against suggested projects.

In this article she continues to take a swipe at those constituents:
"Yamada said the board will make its decisions based on what the board sees is best on what the board sees is best for the county. Although the process of negotiation is welcomed and preferred, the expressed interests of Davis' officials will not unilaterally dictate the ultimate outcome of the general plan.

'The relationship between the city and county may have to be re-examined,' Yamada said. 'We have an obligation to the county and we're not going to say, 'Oh, we're not going to address that because the mayor of Davis is saying no.''"
There are several different aspects of that statement that are troubling. First, this is not primarily about the mayor of Davis, this is about the city of Davis and most specifically the citizens of the city of Davis, half of whom Yamada *represents* on the board of supervisors.

Second, the city of Davis pays the county annually over $2 million precisely so that they do have a say over peripheral development on Davis' border. As long as the pass-through agreement remains, the county does have to listen to the city of Davis on such issues.

This demonstrates that Supervisor Yamada still does not get it. She is ignoring her constituents and insulting their intelligence.

While Supervisor Yamada has been outspoken about this in content and tone for several weeks now, she is now joined in the hole by her colleague Supervisor Thomson.

Supervisor Thomson complained about receiving a number of "vulgar and threatening e-mails." While there is certainly no justification for such emails, there are a couple of statements that do not sit right.

First, she is paraphrased saying that "the arguments against the proposals were misconstrued."

Supervisor Thomson's statement seemingly suggests that people did not properly understand the issues involved. And while I have not read the emails, the public who came forth last week, seemed to understand exactly the issues involved and the implications thereof. Ms. Thomson may disagree with her constituents, as she did last week, but I certainly would not suggest that proposals were misconstrued.

Second, Thomson suggests that this kind of behavior is endemic to both Davis and the Davis City Council when she says:
"I know that type of behavior does not occur within the city chambers of Woodland, Winters or West Sacramento..."
Thus implying that it does occur in the city chambers of Davis. Again, I would suggest that she not pick a fight with her city or her constituents. Ironically, she has acknowledged that the meeting last week of the Board of Supervisors was not well run.

Again, I do not agree with attacking emails, but given the gravity of the situation and the job that these people have signed up for, I would say it goes with the territory.

Also jumping into the fray is Davis City Councilmember Don Saylor, who apparently is taking his civility act to the County level. As we have suggested before, perhaps Mr. Saylor ought to worry a bit more about his own behavior and a little less about others.

Nevertheless, Mr. Saylor also shows his hand suggesting:
"I really was not happy about the threats and attacks on individual supervisors... I thought that was not necessary and even destructive."
Yet, many believe that the threat of recall and the recoil in general from the city of Davis is what finally caused the Board of Supervisors to at least temporarily back of the proposed joint study areas. Mr. Saylor needs to pick a side. To attempt to pander to both sides does not help the situation.

Questions continue about what to do next. It is clear both that talks need to occur and that the county is still posturing to continue this fight.

Last night at the Davis city council meeting, the suggestion was made by Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Asmundson that we need a change in composition on the city-county two-by-two. She suggested that Mayor Greenwald be replaced on that body with Councilmember Lamar Heystek.

This prompted an angry outburst from the Mayor who declared this was obviously an attempt to get her by the council majority.

As it turned out, it was only the Mayor Pro Tem acting alone, and the motion died for lack of a second.

While I do have some preferences for change on that board, and think it would benefit from having different and perhaps more accommodating personalities on it, the chief problem based on these public statements is not necessarily on the Davis side of things, but rather the county side of things. It seems clear to me that the two Davis County Supervisors have a clear agenda and do not appear to be willing to move on these issues. As such, changing the Davis Cit Council membership on this board, would do little to change the trajectory of talks.

Personally, I would like to see both sides swap one of their partners out for a more accomodating person--that approach may be more conducive to the spirit of cooperation. Nevertheless, the position of the city of Davis has to be to protect the pass-through agreement and oppose peripheral growth. That leaves the city and county to look toward other means by which to address some of the budgetary shortfalls registered by the county.

A key point needs to be made, chief among them is that you really are not going to generate a lot of revenue by having new development. The West Village is a net revenue loss for either the city or the county. The County Planning Department looked at the Northwest Quadrant back in February and found it did not produce sufficient revenue. Counties that continue to grow and development are not in fiscally better shape than counties that are not doing this. Development basically gives you a one-time boon in development fees. After that, the taxes generated from the housing for the county are more than off-set by the need for services. Development is not a means by which to balance the budget or even generate revenue.

All counties are hurting financially regardless of their growth policies. These issues need to be addressed at both the state and federal level. Decisions to cut services at those levels have caused them to fall to counties. And counties are last in line for state money. It is a tragic situation but it will not be improved by new development. It is that simple.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Commentary: Report Demonstrates Need for Public Safety Priority in City

It has become commonplace within this community to assume that I am against law enforcement because of my proactiveness on the issue of police oversight. I also believe in oversight for all aspects of professional life whether it be medical, legal, or safety standards. I simply believe that oversight is always needed as a protection to the public--regardless of the industry. It is not anti-contractor to have building inspectors. It is simply a recognition that a few bad contractors can ruin it for the thousands of good contractors.

In any case, a number of councilmembers have staked their name as being staunch defenders of law enforcement mainly because they were viewed in opposition of efforts to create civilian review of police operations.

However, in my view it is not simply enough to oppose oversight in order to be pro-law enforcement. Looking at city budget priorities that have been largely put into place by this current council majority, I have to question why anyone would consider them (the council majority) pro-law enforcement.

This is largely made clear, at least in my opinion, in a staff report that will come before the city council this evening.

What is clear from the staff report that we will examine in more detail shortly is that the city lacks the money at present to make the upgrades that we need to protect our citizens in the form of public safety.

The city faces serious budget constraints at present. And more importantly it faces serious budget inflexibility in the future.

As we discussed in March, city practices implemented repeatedly by this council majority have served to hamstring the budget process. Current policy has created a situation where a retired employee needs to have worked only five years with the city in order to receive medical benefits for life after retirement. Current policy has created a stratospheric rise in salaries and benefits--not for the rank and file employee but for upper management.

The result of this practice is not only are we paying a tremendous amount of the city's current budget to upper management, but we have produced a system whereby we are funding people long after they have left the system and we have done so for people who have not been longtime employees necessarily.

No only are we paying a large percentage of our budget to this now, but we will pay ever more in the future. We will have locked a large percentage of our budget away for entitlements and we will not have the budgetary flexibility to meet the needs of a growing and vital community especially in terms of public safety. We simply cannot continue down this path is we want a safe community.

Thus the staff is recommending three phases based on available budget. First, a phase based on changes that can be implemented immediately with minimal additional costs. Second, they would look toward flexibility and reallocation of money. Third, they would look toward new incoming revenue streams such as the Target store.

Our public safety is going to rely on the revenue stream from Target--which may or may not ever come to Davis and from which budgetary estimates are shaky at best?

What the report does not suggest is that many of these concerns could have been handled had the city looked at their budget a few years ago and done a better job of prioritizing their concerns. The bottom line here is that the city will find a way most likely to get the public safety the people need, but the people are going to have to pay for it and the citizens at some point should ask why.

The staff report argues:
"Simply adding “officers to the streets” will not address the overall needs of the Police Department in the long run. On the contrary, unless a sound management and oversight structure is in place first, the addition of officers may not meet community expectations for the type of service that the Department should provide. Furthermore, the addition of officers must be implemented strategically, with an eye on those community expectations and improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the Department."
This is an interesting finding. As the Ombudsman, Bob Aaronson, suggested in his report back in February, there at that time criticized the leadership, management and supervision within the department. With the arrival of new police Chief Landy Black, there is reasonable hope that that situation will improve.

However, I would also suggest based on my experience on a ride-along, conversations with members of the business community, and conversations with the public as a whole, that we do need to add more officers to the streets. Much of the time, the current level of patrol is sufficient to cover the city, but it is not sufficient to have a real presence in key parts of the city. Nor is it sufficient to cover the city when a major incident occurs. For example, I watched what happened when there was a simple fight at an apartment complex that led to an injury. Most of their manpower was at the scene of this incident--which meant during a prime time for parties and mayhem, there were not officers on the street that could handle party calls. There were not officers patrolling the street.

So while I agree that "simply" adding "officers to the streets" will not solve the problems, they will go a long way toward helping resolve some of the issues that this community has.

The report further states,
"there is no one response time standard in law enforcement. Police response times vary greatly depending on the type and priority of call received."
I agree. But where questions arise is why it takes a certain length of time to respond to what could potentially be serious calls downtown during key times. There was a broad daylight bank robbery where response time was questioned. I saw an incident personally where a fight could have been dangerous to the public at a popular Davis restaurant and it took the police over ten minutes to arrive.

We recognize that there are different priorities for different situations. No one is overly concerned if it takes the police half an hour to take down a report, but if there is a potentially dangerous situation, it is obvious to this layman that we need the manpower and flexibility to respond rapidly to such situations. And during downtimes, we could use the police presence in key areas to both deter troublemakers as well as foster relations with specific communities and neighborhoods.

Unfortunately none of this will happen unless the city can get control over the budget situation. And right now, they have not.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Monday, July 23, 2007

Commentary: Weintraub's Critique of Davis Fails to Understand the Fundamentals of Liberalism

I read Daniel Weintraub's critique of Davis in the Sacramento Bee: "Liberal town? Davis is white, wealthy and conservative" with somewhat mixed emotions.

After all I have been a strong critic of Davis' liberal persona at times. In fact, I was quoted in the Bee in January saying:
"Davis isn't as liberal as it thinks."
The irony however is that when I say that "Davis isn't as liberal as it thinks", I am in large part talking about the opposite things that Weintraub is talking about.

As many know, one of my main critiques of Davis has been the failure by some in this community to acknowledge what I have termed "the dark underbelly." The portion of Davis beneath the liberal veneer, that can allow incidents of racism and intolerance to brew without scrutiny. The denial on the part of some as to whether there have been problems in the past with practices by some police officers that call for police oversight. The problems that we have seen in the last year at the high school and junior high with racial incidence of intolerance and bigotry. The failure by school administrators to properly handle these incidents. These are parts of my critique on the persona of liberal Davis.

However, another aspect of this critique is in many ways the inconsistency between public rhetoric by officials and government policy. We see at the same time, members of the Davis City Council talking about environmentalism, talking about global warming, but at the same time supporting massive developments that will lead inevitably to traffic and pollution problems. Supporting the building of big-box retail stores that are globally unsustainable and add vastly to our carbon footprint both as a community and globally. There is a fundamental incompatibility with the expressed concern for global warming and the support for unsustainable policies at home.

Again this is my critique of Davis. Weintraub is complaining about Davis because Davis has failed to grow fast enough for his liking apparently--this in itself is somewhat of a myth. In the 1950s, Davis was a town of a few thousand people and it has grown to a town of nearly 70,000. Contrary to the slow-growth myth, Davis has been a city that has grown rapidly.

The editorial cites Supervisor Helen Thomson's daughter as not being able to buy a home in Davis--a topic that Supervisor Thomson brought up at the Board of Supervisor's meeting last week and that I criticized on this blog during that meeting. In fact, a friend drove me through a Davis neighborhood near the Covell site and I saw a large number of homes that Supervisor Thomson's daughter could afford--unfortunately, she was looking for them at the wrong time it seems. The housing market is considerably better now than it was a few years back.

Moreover, the solution to the problem of housing is not the kind of developments put forward by Supervisor Helen Thomson either at Covell Village which she supported or the county level which were shelved.

Mr. Weintraub writes:
"When Helen Thomson's daughter went looking for housing a few years ago in her native Davis, the cheapest thing she could find was a half-million-dollar fixer-upper.

The home reeked from the smell of too many cats, and the floors sloped. "If you dropped a marble at the front door," Thomson says, "it would roll through the house and into the back yard." Her daughter settled for a house in West Sacramento instead."
In fact, had Covell Village gone through, that is what largely would have been built--absent the cat odor.

The irony is that Davis is hardly alone in Northern California in terms of unaffordability of homes--and those communities largely run the gamut in terms of ethnicity and growth policies. The Bay Area particularly the east and south bay have had large growth and remain highly unaffordable. The basic problem is that demand exceeds supply and that will largely be the case regardless of growth policies--unless Davis is to grow so fast that it becomes more like Lodi and less like Davis. Is that really what we are aiming for?

I am still unclear as to how supporting sustainable growth, agricultural preservation, and environmental protection policies makes Davis conservative?

Have we changed our definitions here to make developers the vanguard of liberalism? To be liberal means to support rapid growth, paving over of agricultural land and nature preserves?

The irony of this is that the projects that have been supported would be building homes that are very large. These policies involve building homes that cost well over what Supervisor Thomson's daughter could afford. And in reality, they involve building homes that would house largely Republicans rather than Democrats.

And Mr. Weintraub believes that would be the hallmark of liberalism? By what grounds?

As Mr. Weintraub suggests:
"While the rest of California becomes more ethnically and economically diverse, Davis remains a mostly white enclave for wealthy, highly educated people... The city is 70 percent white and 17 percent Asian American, but fewer than 3 percent of its residents are African American and only about 10 percent are Latino."
In fact, as someone pointed out recently, Davis does remain ethnically less diverse than other areas of California, however, that does not mean it has not become more ethnically diverse than it had been. The figure of 70 percent white actually represents a strong downturn in the white population that in the 1980s stood over 90 percent.

Weintraub's solution like that of the Supervisor's last week is massive housing developments which would destroy the character of Davis.

I think there are a number of ways that we can have a larger and more diverse housing market without the massive developments, without building more $600,000 homes, without paving over prime agricultural land. I challenge our leaders to be creative and find news ways to do this. But I admonish people like Daniel Weintraub who suggest that if we do not follow the models by other communities to build, build, build, that makes us a bunch of rich conservatives.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Shake up Coming in the 8th Assembly District Race?

In late January, West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for California's 8th Assembly District. By the end of February he was joined by Yolo County Supervisor Mariko Yamada. Since that point, Cabaldon has racked up huge amounts of endorsements and has raised over $400,000. You would think this would give him a largely insurmountable advantage.

However, the Vanguard has received word from reliable sources, that a shake up in this race may be on its way and from a most unusual source. In 2002, then Yolo County Supervisor Lois Wolk defeated Mayor Cabaldon for the Assembly Seat. Assemblywoman Wolk, herself a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the 5th Senate district, is now termed out barring changes in the term limits law in February's primary. While she has not officially endorsed Mayor Cabaldon, she has been seen escorting him around, introducing him to key officials and constituencies.

Now the Vanguard has received word that she may be involved in recruiting another candidate--former Davis School Board Member and UC Davis Law Professor Marty West. Professor West served on the Davis Joint Unified Board of Trustees from 1997 to 2005. Professor West is also a distinguished law professor at UC Davis whose work has focused on civil rights, in particular gender equity.

If Professor West enters the race, that would make three candidates from Yolo County and none from Solano County. That would seem to leave the possibility wide-open that someone from Solano County could swoop in and have an outstanding chance at picking up the nomination. Rumors are speculating currently that there is a movement underway to find just such a candidate in Solano County. If that happens, this really does become anyone's race to win.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting