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

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Sierra Club and Davis Neighborhood Coalition Candidates Forum

Last week, the candidates for Davis City Council participated in a candidates forum sponsored by both the Sierra Club and the Davis Neighborhood Coalition. For a variety of reasons it has taken an unusually long amount of time to compile the answers from this forum. The group asked very detailed, very tough, and very penetrating questions that required lengthy and thoughtful response. [One note, since I am pulling out what I found interesting, do not assume that a short answer or quotation reflects lack of detail by the candidate on a particular issue. Due to the length of this entry, I have divided the debate into sections so that readers can more easily jump to issues that are of most interest to them].

Measure J

Measure J is a question that will likely be asked at each and every forum. There is a basic alignment on this issue where four of the candidates: Mayor Sue Greenwald, Councilmember Stephen Souza, Rob Roy and Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald all basically favor retaining Measure J as it is written.

Within that there are some differences.

Stephen Souza still would like to see some sort of sunset:
"The duration of Measure J should be consistent with the time horizon of the General plan update horizon."
Cecilia has consistently argued for Measure J's permanence:
"I am in favor of keeping Measure J in its current form and making it permanent."
Sue Greenwald discussed why it is not permanent:
"The reason that Measure J is not permanent is that at the time Measure J was written, our City Attorney felt that it would not stand up in court if it outlasted our General Plan. This is the reason that a sunset was written into the measure. I would be interested in obtaining other and more current opinions on this matter."
Both Don Saylor and Sydney Vergis want some sort of modifications to the policy.

For Ms. Vergis:
"I am also supportive of transparent government and feel that the document itself is cumbersome - My suggestion is that we take a look at Central Valley versions of Measure J, that convey the same information, mandates, policies, and objectives- but do it in a more efficient and succinct way. My position is that if we can non-substantively make any of our public documents more readily available for community dialogue, we should do so."
Don Saylor:
"By the time this ordinance sunsets it will have been more than ten years since its drafting. In considering the language of the successor measure, we should thoughtfully review our experience over the past decade and the potential for changing needs of our community. It is possible that the community may want to strengthen the language in some manner."

As the point was raised earlier, the writers of Measure J wrote it in such a way that it would be difficult to find loopholes, that's one of the reason that the document is lengthy (but I would argue not technically complicated). Any attempt to streamline the process would likely result in a weaker document that is more easily circumvented.
Neither Saylor nor Vergis seem to favor making Measure J permanent.

"I think there is wisdom in the initial concept of a sunset of Measure J and in having it its successor tied to the timeline of the next General Plan."
"On making Measure J permanent- we have only had one exercise of Measure J. I am interested in seeing its application more than once before passing deciding that in its current form that it is ready to stand the test of time."
City-County Relations

City and County relations formed the backdrop of another question. Here the candidates discussed past problems with the county and the pass-through agreement. This is an issue where there is more agreement than disagreement reflecting the unity that we saw last year among the council on the issue of county imposed peripheral growth on Davis' city edge.

" there have been concerns that the existing Pass-Thru-Agreement, passing on a portion Redevelopment funds generated by property taxes in South Davis and Downtown that would otherwise be used for various improvement projects, to the County as a way to provide a financial disincentive for the County to develop on the City's periphery) do not provide enough incentive to protect the City sphere from County controlled commercial/residential growth- these concerns were heightened when the County considered looking at land use "Study Areas" within the City sphere of influence.
As the County struggles with its own finances and takes on new, unexpected State-mandated costs (like parole costs)- it is important the City leadership work closely with the County to reach solutions that benefit all."
"During the County’s General Plan Update the relationship between the city and the county was strained to say the least. What I liked about this process was that the city’s concerns were heard. What I would not like to repeat is the lack of good communication through both the city/county 2 x 2 and staff to staff about both bodies’ concerns. We could have worked jointly to create constructive solutions for the county’s need to finish its GP update and the city’s need to determine the destiny of what happens to land next to the city’s borders. There is always a need to have engagement through dialogue before action is taken. We have 2 existing means of exchanging information but those meetings have not been taking place on a regular basis."
"A backdrop for City/County relations over the past four years has been the County’s work to update the Yolo County General Plan and the ongoing struggles the County has faced with mandated services and diminishing revenues. In the course of this update, several sites were considered throughout the County for residential, commercial or industrial development. Four of those sites were located within the Davis Planning Area and were identified as “joint study areas”. This situation presents the clearest example of competing underlying interests over the past four years; the County’s interests in revenue generation and reconsideration of some land use planning policies came into conflict with the City’s interest in controlling our own future within the planning area.

After considerable public input and deliberations, these four sites were removed from active consideration. However, it is clear that similar issues of this sort will continue to emerge. It is essential that we strengthen the ongoing communication between the City and County on these and other critical matters."
Sue Greenwald:
"It was distressing to see the county talk changing its general plan to include growth on the borders of Davis. This was a violation of the terms of the City-County pass-through agreement, which is a legally binding document. If the county were approve that general plan change, we could have kept about $50 million dollars of redevelopment agency tax increment and, as I said at the supervisors’ public hearing I politely pointed out that we could sure use $50 million, but it would put us in a very adversarial relationship."
Rob Roy:
"I would rather not see the great periphery scare of 2007 repeated. The county needs to uphold the statutes of the “pass-through agreement.” Essentially we pay the ransom of a couple million dollars in tax revenue so the county needs to let the city of Davis do the planning for urban development and not pressure us with invasion. I do not want to see something like the Mace Ranch debacle of the 1990’s repeated, except this time on Davis’ Northwest quadrant.

The city must work with the county to be sure that our sphere of influence is respected. I am of the camp that believes Davis only needs to go as fast as the demand we have from within. We should not build just because we can. Slow and steady wins the race and the race is to be the best city we can be."
"I believe that the relationship between City of Davis and Yolo County was unnecessarily strained. Davis and Yolo County have signed the pass-through agreement which transfers over $2 million per year from the city’s redevelopment agency to the county in exchange for the county to leave all land use decisions—particularly development decisions—in the hands of the city. I strongly support the pass-through agreement and the principles behind it. The county did not communicate with the city about their intentions or what was meant by the term “study area.”

An issue that had a great deal more disagreement was the issue of water--water supply and waste water treatment. The Souza, Saylor, and Vergis position is that we need to embark on a waste water treatment facility and the water supply project simultaneously.

"The major challenge is meeting the strict regulations set forth in the current 5 year permit without excessive customer rate increases or consumption of natural resources. The water standards have been established by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board. These standards are established in order to protect birds and aquatic habitat. If we fail to meet these standards with the needed wastewater plant and water source upgrades, we could face fines or regulatory action against our city.

We currently do not meet the standards when it comes to bacteria and discharge into the Willows Slough and the Yolo Bypass. In order to meet these bacteria, salinity and selenium standards, the city needs to upgrade to a tertiary treatment method. This cost is a challenge but the Regional Board does not take the cost into consideration. The main source of our water is intermediate aquifer wells. These wells are old and need to be replaced with deep aquifer wells. At the same time we are proceeding with acquiring surface water rights."
"With regard to water- our trade-offs will be the decision between significant cost versus the risks relating to groundwater capacity, future costs of construction, time (it has taken the City over 15 years to get to this point- how long will it take to get back here again?), and probable increases in permitting costs and complexity."
"Provision of clean water and compliance with waste water discharge requirements are core service issues that have reached a critical point in history on our watch. There are several variables at play in this set of issues. I believe that we must ensure that the water supply for our city is reliable and meets acceptable quality standards. We must ensure that the water we discharge meets minimum standards set by state and federal agencies and does not harm wildlife habitat or endanger downstream human users. These state and federal standards have become more and more stringent based on scientifically valid assessments of the contaminants. We are on a timetable to meet the current standards and would face severe financial penalties (fines calculated on a per day basis for each type of violation) if we fail to advance toward a compliant process.

Water conservation programs are a central component of these efforts and are part of the plans under consideration. Finally, we must work to contain costs for rate payers and be sure that they have complete information about these projects. Davis is not alone in this. Cities throughout the valley are facing similar needs and costs. In fact, the Davis ratepayers currently enjoy some of the lowest rates in the region and will not be out of the range even after these improvements are implemented."
On the other hand, Sue Greenwald, Rob Roy and Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald are also concerned about the costs to the public and the need to embark on both projects simultaneously.

Rob Roy:
"Yes these are interrelated. We need to work on educating Davisites about how to have drought tolerant landscaping. Lawn maintenance uses an excessive amount of water. I think it is going to be expensive to buy all those water rights. We need to treat this problem with preventative steps and not with an expensive cure. There is nothing wrong with bringing back the old “if its yellow let it mellow” policy. I look at a place like Australia that is facing severe water shortages and they are facing a draught after they guzzled up their pristine water sources on bad irrigation and swimming pools. We need to educate our citizen, encourage conservation, and reward those that do so by using a tiered pricing scale for water use.

While some may say that we are put in the tough position that we must act before the costs rise eve more as we at a projected $300 million. We also have to figure out our options. We have to understand that technology may improve so if we go ahead with this project haphazardly will be stuck with a $300 plant that is already an antiquated system.

Our aquifers have never failed so this push for more water supply is the wrong direction. We need to curtail demand. As a councilmember I will not be voting yes on anything that drastically increases water demand."
Sue Greenwald:
"About 20 years ago, the city built a wastewater treatment facility that no longer meets regulatory requirements. Hence, we must build a new wastewater treatment facility – we have no choice. We are, at the same time, planning to proceed with a project to import surface water. If the city of Davis goes forward with both the water and the wastewater projects, the costs are currently estimated to be over $360 million, and climbing. This cost is staggering. It will double, or perhaps triple, our current sewer and water bills. Compare a $1,300 to $2,000 dollar annual increase in our water/sewer bill to a school parcel tax of $200 a year, or a public safety tax of $150 dollars a year, and you can see what I am talking about.

Paying water/sewer fees this high will severely hurt the ability of our schools to pass the taxes that they need, and the city the pass taxes needed to maintain a high level of city services.

First, I fully understand with and sympathize with our public works department’s commitment to undertaking these two staggeringly expensive projects. Their job is the provide us with the best possible sewer and water service. But our job as City Council, and a time of fiscal crisis, is to make hard decisions and prioritize.

I have talked with leading University experts in surface water, groundwater, water conservation reuse and water economics, and a top government official in water rights and wastewater permitting. I posed the question: would it be possible to phase in the two projects, i.e., postponing the surface water project until the wastewater project is paid off. The reaction that I got was that this option would certainly be worth exploring, if the ratepayer is really looking at project costs of over $360 million."
Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald:
The City of Davis is facing the unenviable task of having to deal with a water supply issue and a water treatment issue. These two projects will be very costly to ratepayers down the road; therefore, it is incumbent upon the city to study all available options. I have been concerned at the current trajectory of talks and the implication that the city will undergo a water treatment capital improvement at the same time that it develops a new water supply system that diverts water from the Sacramento River to the city of Davis."
Cecilia wants to see:
"The feasibility of deep well aquifers as an interim solution to prevent the simultaneous expenditures to hit ratepayers."
She continues:
"There are serious concerns about the water supply issue. The current quality of water is problematic not so much on the supply end, but on the discharge end. However, there are also problems with the Sacramento River solution. It may not be available at all times, and certainly not in dry months, and perhaps not at all during dry years.

That means that this may be an illusory solution. The amount of water we would have under ideal conditions would be enough to water a city twice the size of Davis, which makes one wonder if the goal here is to accommodate future growth beyond current needs."
Fiscal Issues Involving the City of Davis

There are also considerable differences on the view of the city's fiscal situation.

Sue Greenwald:
"What has happened to the school district could happen to the City. We need more straight talk about the city’s fiscal situation. Davis currently faces a $1.5 million budget deficit, in addition to a $6 million shortfall in identified unmet needs, including over $2 million in annual roadway, bike lane and sidewalk maintenance.

Revenue generating options are important, but are limited -- even cities dominated by freeway malls are facing fiscal crises. The net sales tax revenue between Davis and Vacaville is under $100 per household per year– a drop in the bucket compared to the $1,500 per year or greater increase in our sewer and water bills year if we go forth with the wastewater and surface water projects. And remember, we couldn’t be Vacaville even if we wanted to –the market isn’t there.

We have to start prioritizing our expenditures, and making responsible decisions. And sometimes, we have to learn to say no, even if it costs us a few votes in the next election."
Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald:
"I am very concerned about the financial situation of the city of Davis. Contrary to claims that we have balanced the budget, we are running large deficits in terms of the overall budget and also in terms of unmet needs. Sales taxes will not solve all of these problems. Most concerning is the growth in pensions and other funds that are producing a structural deficit.

The city is looking toward a series of new taxes which will coincide with rate hikes in water and new parcel taxes for the schools and library.

The city has rising needs for law enforcement and fire protection, and public safety is a top priority to keep our city safe. The city has made a continuing commitment to keep our parks, and continuing commitment to provide good city services. Something has to give at this point.

We cannot continue on our same trajectory in terms of new spending without finding additional sources for revenue. As a councilmember, I will be very reluctant to continue to ask the tax payers of Davis to pay more in terms of taxation. "
Rob Roy:
"The obvious challenges are the retirement packages of city employees. We are going to have to negotiate a new deal that we can afford so we don’t turn into Vallejo.

Sales tax leakage is not a fatal problem for our city While I want diversification of retail to increase sales tax revenue I still have the Target project on my mind. It is a sad state of affairs for our unique city that a bigbox store was used as the catalyst to declare victory on retail diversification."
Don Saylor argued that if re-elected:
"I will continue to be a voice of fiscal responsibility on the Council, insisting on another tenet of sustainability: living within our means."
"The primary role of the City Council is to assure that our basic city services are operating effectively. We have a strong appetite for high quality city services and must pay for those services. Over the past four years we have devoted significant energy to making sure our city works and I am heartened by the strong satisfaction levels shown in our recent survey of Davis residents.

Our city’s continued fiscal stability hinges on increased economic vitality consistent with our community identity as the home of a world class research university and a great place to live. As a community, we have made conscious decisions to forego many of the common approaches cities in California have taken to generate revenues. The ongoing challenge we have is to generate sufficient economic activity to sustain our service levels."
Meanwhile Souza argued that:
"We have adopted budgets that begin to address these unfunded unmet needs. Some of the options are: restructuring of departments, economic redevelopment, high tech business recruitment, options for park tax renewal/replacement with Real Estate Transfer Tax, 911 fee, renewal of sales tax as is or with a ¼ cent increase for streets, roads and bike paths, Municipal Service Tax, Public Safety Tax, program cost recovery, and excess fund set aside."
Finally Sydney Vergis:
"Currently, our budget is balanced; which means that under existing assumptions, the City will be able to provide the services this year that it provided last year with expenditures not exceeding revenues. However, the City has a range of unmet needs including: transportation and bike infrastructure upgrades, public safety service staffing and infrastructure needs, required upgrade to our wastewater treatment plant, and probable need for new water infrastructure as conjunctive use is explored."
For her the solution lies here:
"The most 'obvious solutions' are in the form of our upcoming renewals of the Parks Tax and Half Cent Sales Tax; examining all of the City's internal operations and determining how to make use of existing resources more efficiently prior to asking the community for more money; and compliance with recent changes in reporting law- GASB 45 requires that governmental entities include a valuation of unfunded retiree health liabilities at the start of next year- the City has implemented GASB 45 early. Raising our internal awareness of our unfunded liabilities (our obligation to provide payments or benefits – but have no funds for all or part of those obligations) will help us to better plan for future expenditures."
Historic Preservation

The candidates were also asked to create an ordinance relating to historic preservation and creating incentives to avoid demolition by neglect.

Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald:
"One of the biggest problems we saw during the debate on the Anderson Bank Building, which was ultimately saved from renovation that would have destroyed its historic integrity was the use of deterioration of the building as a reason to justify renovations. This is akin to awarding property owners for allowing their property to degrade. We do not have much in the way of historic buildings left in Davis."
Sue Greenwald:
"With the exception of the tank house, which was not built to the same standards as our other structures, I don’t see evidence of demolition by neglect. The cottages that are in bad shape could all be rehabilitated. I would prefer to see an ordinance forbidding the demolition of specific older structures."
Rob Roy:
"All property owners must maintain their homes. Preserving the charm and architectural culture of Davis is very important to me. I do not want the city to become a gentrified Anywhere USA.

The loss of the Terminal Hotel was a severe blow to the preservation of cultural history in Davis. The building itself containing the mural of the original Davis arches as an attempt to mitigate the loss of the actual arches. The Chen building, while not horribly unappealing with his mix use and second story set backs."
Don Saylor:
"I am reluctant to create an ordinance from whole cloth.

Our community has a number of historically significant structures. We have sound policies in place at the local, state and federal levels for review of the use and adaptive reuse of those structures and we have a very strong process for review of any proposed demolition or relocation of such structures. We also have a very strong code enforcement ordinance in place.

While some general discussion of the phrase “demolition by neglect” has occurred within our community, the Historical Resources Management Commission has not to my knowledge actually defined this or considered alternative approaches. I would look to that Commission and the Planning Commission for advice on whether an additional ordinance would be helpful in this area."
Stephen Souza:
"Balancing historical preservation, property rights and environmentally progressive planning decisions is a complicated act.

Consensus can be reached if our entire community is aware of the trade-offs involved in these difficult decisions.

To issue a blanket code for the preservation of structures that may not be historically relevant nor adhere to the spirit of environmental progressivism would be a mistake. However, there is a place for minimum maintenance in the context of voluntary neighborhood associations, deed restrictions, Historical Resource Commission designated structures and rental units."
Sydney Vergis:
"One of the difficulties with implementing a Historic Minimum Maintenance Code for the City of Davis is that enforcement would be based on complaints as opposed to pro-active City efforts to nurture budding historic communities. One of my overarching interests is in how a local jurisdiction, how the City of Davis, can provide incentives for individuals to move in positive directions- whether it be encouraging residents and businesses in a greener, more energy efficient direction, or in other policies such as historic preservation.

I propose an alternative that strengthens the City's existing policies on historic properties- The Mills Act is legislation that allows cities the power to enter into agreements with property owners of historic buildings. The Mills Act encourages preservation, maintenance, and restoration of designated historical properties through property tax savings. An Agreement has a minimum term of ten years and specifies what preservation, maintenance, and respiration efforts will be made by the property owner; and the County Assessor determines what the property tax relief will be."
parking, street safety and transportation

The next question asked about parking, street safety and transportation. Each candidate had their own focus.

The most interesting debate here was over the issue of street safety on fifth street.

This led to a discussion about re-striping of fifth street.

Sue Greenwald's discussion of the issue triggered an interesting exchange between herself and Don Saylor.
"I would like to see synchronized traffic lights at all intersections on 5th street, with pedestrian crosswalks and pedestrian and perhaps bicycle traffic lights. I favored restriping 5th Street for a trial run. I carefully read the consultant’s report, and the consultants determined that the restriping would not slow down East-West traffic."
She went on to say that she had voted for restriping but the measure failed.

Don Saylor then said that he too had voted for restriping but Sue did not remember him doing so. Don Saylor was adament.

That night, I received multiple emails to check on this assertion since it did not gibe with people's recollections from that meeting. Someone sent me the minutes from the meeting and according to the minutes from the meeting in July of 2005, Sue Greenwald proposed restriping fifth street and received no second to her motion.

Decline in bicycling

The candidates were asked as well to address the issue of the decline in bicycling:

Don Saylor:
"I believe that this reduction in the percentage of work commute trips by bicycle is correlated with an increase in the number of work commute trips overall and an increase in the percentage of commute trips involving people driving from Davis to destinations in other cities and people driving from other cities to work in Davis."
Stephen Souza:
"Since the early 1990’s, Davis has had more growth farther away from the core than any other time in our history. At the same time, the percentage of those who both live and work in town has decreased. Many argue that our bike culture, that we hold so dear, has not been successfully passed on to new residents. While that may be a contributing cause, we must also consider the overwhelming success of Unitrans.

According to Geoff Straw, General Manager of ASUCD Unitrans, yearly per capita (of enrolled UCD students) ridership has increased from 58.52 in ‘90/’91 to 141.55 in ‘06/’07. Although students may be riding their bikes less, that does not translate directly into more car trips. We now have a successful transit system in place that has replaced some bike ridership.

However, there is still work to be done to get our residents out of their cars and onto bicycles. We must do a better job of convincing Davisites that it is possible and safe to take care of household and family errands and tasks on a bicycle. Part of this cultural shift begins with the city. The bikeway system in our community is continually being improved (a new bike and pedestrian tunnel under Covell Blvd to Mace Ranch has its Grand Opening on Friday!) There is still much work to be done in the city including double striping a majority of bike lanes around town."
Sydney Vergis:
"Bringing the Bike Back is one of my personal passions... To re-establish biking in Davis, we could focus on these three areas: Educating, Encouraging, and Enabling bike usage."
Her plan looks toward safety, access, and celebration.

Rob Roy:
"The obvious answer to this question is that the Mace Ranch and Wildhorse subdivions are more likely to cater toward “bedroom community” individuals that work outside of Davis. It is a shear mathematics’ problem: if the population expands with a disproportionate amount of people that live in but do not work in Davis then the cited statistic in this question is going to keep decreasing. If this trend keeps going, at one point will we have to change the city’s logo?

Our bicycle culture is following the same trend as our environmentally innovative developments and rejection of nation change, we blazed the trail, rested on our laurels, and now other communities have usurped us. I do enjoy the new Covell pedestrian/bicycle underpass and I already see many Harper Junior Highers using it on days that I work on that campus. I still believe that bikes are treated as an afterthought as to how our roads are designed."
Sue Greenwald:
"As we have grown in a suburban fashion, it is not surprising that we have more auto trips. The further people must travel, the more likely they are to use autos. Manys residents are commuting to work. I believe that we could do a lot more to make calm our traffic and to make street safer for bicycling. I would like to see a safe routes to schools program, and more driver and bicyclist education. We need more bicycle parking and continued investment in our bicycle infrastructure. At the Yolo County Transportation Board, I have been advocating for the Woodland/Davis bike lane for better bicycle connections between Davis and Sacramento. I need to finish the green waste line striping and to enforce it.

In our land use decisions, we should build more houses near our jobs and more jobs near our houses. Currently, I believe we have two good options for achieving this goal. One is to keep the Hunt-Wesson site zoned for high-tech, residential- compatible zoning, as it is in easy biking distance of so much of our housing... The best current site is the PG&E site at 5th and L Street. This large 27 acre parcel could bring a lot of much needed high-density urban housing to downtown in biking distance to campus, without harming the character of the historic sections of downtown."
"As councilmember the first thing I would do to promote bicycling in the City of Davis would be to make a concerted effort to maintain what we have—bike lanes, bike paths, and greenbelts. These are the pride of this community and a priority to maintain.

As previously mentioned, creating easy access to key locations in town and linking them up will encourage more people to bike rather than drive.

I have a concern about our green waste dumping into bicycle lanes. This creates havoc for cyclists who have to both dodge potential hazards from tree clippings and potential hazards from motor vehicles. Unfortunately the green containerization pilot program drew widespread complaints from citizens in affected areas. Most communities have already gone to a containerization program. I will work with the residents of these affected areas to find a good compromise. The double lined bike lane is a good start, but there is more that we can do and bicycle hazards are not the only reason for containerizing our waste. However, as councilmember, I will never impose things on residents and neighborhoods. People have put their hard earned savings into their homes and we need to respect that...

As councilmember I would work to have additional bike loops added to encourage cycling by having various loops such as the Green Loop (5 miles) and the Red Loop (3 miles) and the Blue Loop (1 mile) added to the existing, approximate 12 mile Davis Bike Loop."
neighborhood shopping

Finally the candidates were asked about neighborhood shopping.

Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald:
"As a neighbor of the West Lake shopping center, I have experienced first hand the loss of a neighborhood grocery store. For many, Rays and Food Fair were poorly run and small grocery stores with high prices. The owner of this facility allowed the shopping center to degrade and has since tried to use this as an excuse to change the square footage and put in a convenience store rather than a grocery store. Once again, we cannot reward people who allow their properties to degrade and then complain that businesses cannot succeed.

The loss of this store has meant more trips two miles away to Safeway. More car trips. More gas used. More carbon released. From a human perspective it takes a minimum of half an hour to do a simple trip to the store that could have been done in ten minutes before with a brief walk—even when there is only a handful of items needing to be purchased.

As councilmember I would strongly support not only maintaining our neighborhood stores, but encouraging more neighborhood stores as a means by which people can do at least some of their shopping for key items. I believe that grocery stores can succeed in West Davis if they are well-run and fill a niche. I believe the same can occur in other parts of town, such as East Davis and Central Davis."
Sue Greenwald:
"The City has limited options. We can refuse to rezone the land, and hope that the landlord lowers the rent and recruits actively and succeeds in finding a grocer, and we can help, to the extent possible, recruit. I believe that the council should not rezone the current grocery store site unless the West Davis neighborhood decides that this is the right thing to do.

I am interested in listening to ideas that the West Davis neighborhood might have concerning how to bring shopping to the area.

I have tried to be pro-active, but obviously have not had much success...

The profit margin is small for grocery stores, and they have to do a lot of volume to survive. When the city approved so many larger supermarkets, it was clear that it was likely to hurt the peripheral markets. I am looking for good ideas that might lead to a solution."
Rob Roy:

"It is very important that every Davisite should have access to local grocery shopping. Grocery shopping is a task that can be done via bicycle easily if the distance is not too vast. No part of Davis should suffer at the expense of another and it is frustrating to see West Davis loose its grocery store and have their junior high sitting in limbo on the cutting block while everything is shiny and new on the on the side of town. When West Village there is going to be a big demand with a desire for easy access to grocery shopping so it is pertinent that the council help to bring the supply. Trying as best as we can to follow the community written general plan is my policy.

I’m still upset that State Market left its last store in University Mall as it left people living on campus practically far from grocery stores and leaving many to resort to Rite-Aid. Allowing neighborhoods to go without grocery stores is a bad sign for the community orientated and bike friendliness of Davis. While the folks near the Davis Manor shopping center are relatively close to the Nugget or the Co-Op the folks in West Davis are high and dry.

There are issues with current landlord at Westlake and the council should work closely with him to be sure that his property upholds the city’s zoning and contain grocery stores. The city’s governance should not let prime space sit idle. If a rising tide lifts all boats then the businesses sitting next to blighted empty space unfairly sink and this harms the neighborhood, and therefore the community as a whole."
Stephen Souza:
"Under direction from the City Council, City Staff and the Business & Economic Development Commission we should continue to work towards fulfilling the intent of the General Plan’s neighborhood grocery store policy.

More funds should be directed toward a robust market analysis that would help determine exactly what types of stores, and goods sold therein, would be profitable in each location. The determination of realistic lease terms for these spaces should also be considered. That analysis could then be used to lure and convince the right business to begin operations.

The City must also make it uncomfortable for owners to sit on an empty store site and neglect its upkeep. It has recently come to my attention that the owners of Westlake Shopping Plaza filled in their grocery store loading dock with dirt. They may have also violated the City’s Nuisance and Abatement code by neglecting the parking lot and lighting. I have asked staff to look into this matter. I have also expressed to staff in the clearest terms that if violations of our municipal code have occurred, the offenders should be fined the maximum amount until they are in compliance. This process should be standard operating procedure in all neighborhood grocery centers."
Sydney Vergis:
"These centers not only offer us a sense of community and diversity, but also can help us lead greener lifestyles. As energy prices rise due to peak oil, proximity to basic services such as grocery and retail stores will become more and more valuable as a way to reduce our vehicle trips, carbon footprints, and consumption of non-renewable energy sources. We need to ensure that our neighborhood centers and downtown core remain viable and vital.

We need to plan for the future- consumer interests are already shifting away from vehicular travel as a preferred mode of transport- but as a community, we need to ensure that we have the infrastructure to promote and support alternative transportation modes (walking/biking). Neighborhood shopping centers are a vital component to supporting a more environmentally conscientious future.

The City Council can play an important role in fulfilling the intent of the General Plan's neighborhood grocery store policy. The neighborhood shopping center in West Davis is struggling without a grocery store anchor. This is one of my main areas of interest."
Finally Don Saylor:
"Westlake is the site of three failed attempts to operate a small supermarket. Various factors contributed to these failures, including store management, poor location of the center with little street traffic, competition from larger stores in Davis, and customer loyalty to other stores in Davis. At any rate, it is arguable that the market does not support a small supermarket.

That does not mean that a grocery store would not be possible at this location. I agree with many that a store larger than a convenience store and smaller than the failed stores has not been given adequate consideration."
---Doug Paul Davis reporting