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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Commentary: On Public Involvement in the HESC Process

On Thursday, the Davis Enterprise ran a front page story on the Housing Element Steering Committee's weighing of public opinion on how Davis should grow over the course of the next six years until 2013.

Kevin Wolf, the chair of the HESC suggested that two email campaigns could have affected the results.
"Days before the workshop, an e-mail went out to senior citizens on a mailing list advising them to write that a site known as Covell Village should be ranked high on the list.

Another e-mail, sent by a housing committee member, also focused on Covell Village but encouraged people to nudge it down the list of possible sites for development."
First of all, I do not agree that these two efforts were synonymous as Mr. Wolf treats them. The first was sent out by a representative for a developer, it specifically recommended that the Covell Village site be ranked more highly. However, included in there, were specific instructions on just how to do that. It included a step by step form to instruct people how to fill out the form, what items to select in order to maximize the Covell Village site.

The other email simply told people to come to the meeting and vote against Covell Village. If the representatives from Covell Village had done that, no one would have raised a big stink about it. It was only the method that drew the ire of people.

But there is more to what Mr. Wolf said.
"'Our committee talked about the problem a workshop has in that it won't provide us with a representative sample of what the Davis community thinks, but more the activist community,' Wolf wrote in an e-mail to The Davis Enterprise. 'From my perspective, the lobbying to bring people to the workshop dramatically lowers the usefulness of the results.' "
I very strongly disagree with Mr. Wolf here and for one simple reason: who was he expecting to come to the workshop under any conditions?

There is simply no condition under which the activist community--those for slower growth and those representing the developer community would not be the vast majority of individuals who attended the workshop.

Those are the people who pay the most attention. Those are the 10% of the population engaged in the issue. There is no way that this format would have generated attendance commensurate with the rest of the population.

So if that is Mr. Wolf's concern, then this format was never going to produce anything other than that kind of breakdown regardless of attempts by both sides to mobilize their specific group.

Tomorrow, I will talk more about the issue of density that came up at the City Council meetings, at the HESC meetings, and the paper.

Overall my thoughts on the HESC are of two minds. On the one hand, I am appreciative of the HESC for working very hard to achieve some measure of consensus, which is not easy with a diverse group. And also to take seriously the charge they were tasked with.

However at the end of the day, I really do not see the need for this kind of effort. I understand the desire to evaluate each area for potential growth and perhaps this document or report that they produce will have value beyond 2013. But as things stand right now, I'm not sure this effort was needed.

The RHNA guidelines mandate only about 500 additional units between now and 2013. That would be just a small number of projects and fankly if the council is going to approve Lewis, Simmons, and the Horse Ranch, they are essentially done.

That leads to another question as to why, as I have asked several times, they have the HESC process if they are moving on outside of that process.

Finally, the key issue is one that the council will decide and that is the 1% growth now guideline rather than mandate, apparently. The council meeting on Tuesday will see the debate over that issue.

The council's decision on growth rate will determine just how many of these recommendations are actually acted upon.

Getting back to the original point of this piece, I understand the desire to get public input on this process, but it seems clear to me and anyone else that a workshop, is going to bring out the people who are already engaged regardless of the outreach to include others. And, the engaged are much more extreme and polarized in their views on growth than the public as a whole. As the result of that, I do not see a way that we can avoid the type of outcome that Kevin Wolf laments. The attendance is never going to be representative of anything other than the activist community. There is just no avoiding that.

So, if the HESC wanted to get broader public input, they might have considered a different approach.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Friday, February 08, 2008

Friday Vanguard Stories

Guest Commentary: Home on the Range

by Matt Williams

DPD began yesterday’s column by stating, “It is not altogether clear what the results of the workshop were and how much they will affect the final decisions made by the panel.” Thanks to some superb work by Planning Department Staff in producing several Summary documents, the Housing Element Steering Committee was able to quickly decide that Community Workshop #2 essentially ratified the decisions the Committee had made in the 12 months leading up to the Workshop.

One of the Summaries the Committee reviewed, listed the nine ranking changes on six different sites that were suggested by 15 or more people at Station 4 of the Workshop. Although it was clear by the Covell Village comments numbers that any attempt to “hijack” the workshop had failed (and failed badly), the only meaningful takeaway from the ranking change suggestions was that the Public had a hard time understanding how the Committee could be looking at “unrealistic” sites like PG&E. “Come on guys and ladies, get real. I know you think this exercise is hypothetical, but believe me there are people (even in Davis) that believe everything they read – including rankings of future housing development sites.”

Any person who is interested in Housing in Davis should consider the Additional Summaries of Comments at Workshop #2 a must read. It was handed out in paper-copy draft form to the Committee last night. Hopefully, Staff will get the finalized electronic version of this Summary on the HESC website soon, so everyone has access to it. For those who could not be at the meeting, in the draft paper copy, Staff grouped the 285 Comments they received at Station 5 of the Workshop into the following categories. Each category included the text of all the comments in that category.
  • Housing Density and Intensity near Downtown and Neighborhood Nodes
Supportive of Higher Densities (11 comments)
Concerns about Density (6 comments)
Infill and Sprawl (4 comments)
Affordable Housing (1 comment)
Location (5 comments)
Other (3 comments)
  • Housing Development Within the City as Compared to Peripheral Sites
Infill (16 comments)
Conditions for Development on the Periphery (14 comments)
Neighborhood Design (2 comments)
Agriculture Related (5 comments)
Other (4 comments)
  • Variety of Housing Types
Affordable Housing (10 comments)
Moderate Housing (2 comments)
Compact Housing (11 comments)
Student Housing (2 comments)
Senior Housing (24 comments)
Mix of Housing Types (3 comments)
Other (4 comments)
  • General Comments (159 comments in total)
Growth (46 of the 159)
*** Opposed to 1% Guideline and/or No Growth (38 of the 46)
*** Neither Pro nor Con the 1% Guideline (3 of the 46)
*** Conditional Pro Growth (5 of the 46)
Supportive of Son of Covell Village (5 of the 159)
Opposed to Son of Covell Village (9 of the 159)
Comments About Other Sites (8 of the 159)
Site Development Feasibility (1 of the 159)
Lewis Cannery Site Timing (3 of the 159)
Agriculture (1 of the 159)
Infill (4 of the 159)
Housing Needs and Groups (7 of the 159)
Affordable Housing (2 of the 159)
Housing Mix, Types, Densities, Sizes and Prices (1 of the 159)
Downtown and Neighborhood Centers (1 of the 159)
Mixed Use (3 of the 159)
Business, Industry and Jobs (5 of the 159)
Sustainability (6 of the 159)
Taxes, Revenues and Fiscal Impacts (9 of the 159)
Community Design (4 of the 159)
Infrastructure (1 of the 159)
Transportation and Parking (5 of the 159)
Neighborhood Impacts (6 of the 159)
Preserve Community Character (8 of the 159)
Miscellaneous Comments (8 of the 159)
Other Comments Too Risque to Print (2 of the 159)
In yesterday’s column DPD raised a very interesting point, “In some ways I feel that this process is almost ad hoc. And that decisions are being made on each of these steps independently. There are different maps and different processes. And the result will be what exactly? Does the public or even our leaders on council know?” What I heard and read last night was that the Davis community took this Workshop seriously, and has given the Committee, the Planning Department Staff, and most especially the Council well-thought-out feedback on possible approaches to Housing in the coming days, months and years. Hopefully, that message will be carried to all the individual processes that deal with Housing. The reality is that unless we the people make that happen, it won’t happen. I guarantee that the comments on the 1% Growth Guideline will be used at Tuesday’s Council meeting when they discuss the 1% Guideline.

Now that I have covered the factual content of last night’s Committee meeting, let me turn to the theatrical parts of the evening’s activities. City Finance Director, Paul Navazio got out his top hat, cane and Capezios for his dance around the question of how (and whether) Housing Development “pencils out” in Davis. Paul shared some very interesting material, and the words of his bottom-line answer to the question were “It depends.” I didn’t hear it that way. I heard, “Most of the time the answer is No, but in some special circumstances the answer may be Yes.” The problem for me is that those special circumstances revolve around building more “Million Dollar Houses” (Paul’s words), and that is the one housing type that this City does not need more of.

For me, Paul’s presentation and comments make Tuesday’s City Council discussion about the 1% Guideline all the more important. Mark Siegler advocated “a pause” in the coming months (and possibly years), so that we can really understand what kind of housing will make the most sense in Davis. Workforce housing and affordable housing do not “pencil out” in a financial analysis, but they do contribute to the vibrancy and sustainability of our City. Single-family, detached homes over $500,000 do “pencil out,” but they will make Davis even more of a bedroom community. Is that what we want? I for one hope not.

UC Davis Faculty Report Blasts UC Davis for Low Wages and Lack of Benefits for Workers

Yesterday a press conference was held by a newly formed faculty group to demand UC status for UC Davis Foodservice workers after the completion of a lengthy report on the conditions of food service workers at UC Davis as a result of the university's practice of outsourcing their work to Sodexho.

Joining the the faculty group were Sodexho and also Direct UC Davis workers, West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, Community Activists, ASUCD Senator Albert Parnell.

The Progressive Faculty Group at University of California Davis (PFG) released a report entitled yesterday "From the Shadows: How the University of California, Davis Contracting-Out Fosters Workers Poverty" criticizing university administrations' practice of contracting-out food services.
"Most of these Sodexho workers are people of Color with the breakdown being, 39 percent Latina and Latino, 16 percent African American or black, 8 percent Asian or Pacific Islanders. As a result of this institutional relationship between the university and Sodexho, the mostly minority workers belong to a subclass within the UCD community receiving far worse wages and benefits and having worse working conditions than those workers in the same jobs as those workers directly employed by UC across the university system. And UC Davis is the only UC that does not directly employ their food service workers."
According to the report the impact of the university contracting out its labor is multifold. First it leaves employees vulnerable:
"Sodexho’s drive to maximize profit margins has significant impact on the working conditions of contracted-out UCD workers. While UCD workers have union representation these workers are at-will employees and vulnerable to Sodexho’s whims when it comes to changing wages, benefits and working conditions."
As Fred Block, Professor of Sociology in his comments yesterday at the press conference argued:
"It's not just the pay and benefits that makes this a violation of the principles of community, it's the fact that these employees, have no protection against arbitrary management decisions. They are at-will employees, they can be fired for no particular reason. They deserve the same protections that university employees have."
Contracting out also has a severe and negative impact on wages:
"Even with recent changes in wages and health care benefits for contracted-out workers, their compensation is far below that of comparable workers at other UC campuses. Until recently a contracted-out Cook III earned only $10.85 starting wage, which is 36% less than a UCD Medical Center Cook doing the same work. Despite the fact that UCD administration and Sodexho succumbed to worker and community pressure to improve contracted-out worker wages, their wages continue to be 5 to 9% below those of workers doing the same work at the UCD Medical Center in Sacramento."
Furthermore the report shows the relationship between wages for Sodexho workers and the cost of living, what it would take to be able to live on a salary:

"It takes a full time hourly income of $22.03 to support a single parent family in the Sacramento Region, which is 103% more than a contracted-out UCD Food Service worker makes."

West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon spoke to this issue during the press conference and its impact on this region:
"There's hard data that proves the case and the impact of the University's employment relationship, wage structure focusing on this campus, for this community living in poverty. I'm here because where are these folks living. Where are the workers who are employed by Sodexho but really working for the university living their daily lives? Many of them are residents of my community, West Sacramento, because it's a more affordable place. And the impacts of poverty, university inspired poverty, on people and families affects the town in which I live in.

I see this every day, folks who have inadequate health care, who don't have the wages in order to make basic needs for their families. So it's not just a question of what happens on the campus but the impacts on neighborhoods and communities throughout this area."
Health care and the affordability of health coverage is devastating to Sodexho workers.
"As the cost of health care has skyrocketed, affordable benefits are essential for workers to maintain a healthy standard of living. The lack of affordable benefits for contracted-out workers in conjunction with their poverty wages has exacerbated the already dire circumstances workers’ families live with daily. Until the first of this year, health care benefits provided to contracted-out UCD workers were 95% more expensive than the benefits directly employed UC workers receive. As UCD administrators and Sodexho were compelled to make changes to contracted-out workers wages, they were also compelled to make recent changes in their health care benefits. Unfortunately the changes have been inadequate to meet the basic needs of
working families - too little too late."
As the faculty group finds, even with the additional stipend of $100, the cost for family coverage is 41 percent greater for Sodexho workers than UC employees and thus remains out of reach for many contracted-out workers.

As the Progressive Faculty group wrote in their press release:
"We heard stories from workers in dire situations such as Esther Juarez who needed emergency medical treatment in a life and death situation and is now strapped with tens of thousands of dollars of medical debt due to lack of health care coverage."
ASUCD Senator Albert Parnell came to show support for the Sodexho workers not just for himself but on behalf of other ASUCD Senators.

"There's been resolutions in the past that ASUCD brought up that show the support and that show that we're hear in solidarity for these workers so that they can live a comfortable life... So they should not have to worry about whether they should choose to pay for the medications or have to put food on the table for their families and themselves. $11 per hour is not a lot of money. It's nowhere near living comfortable and being able to survive. It's nowhere near being able to know that if you ever get injured, or if your health is even in jeopardy, that you can go to the hospital and not have to worry about co-payments that are going to jeopardize whether you are going to be able to put food on the table for your family or your kids or whether you are going to put your health in jeopardy."
Speaking yesterday as well was Joe Moreno. As we mentioned last week, Joe came to meet President Bill Clinton and then suffered a serious incident with his heart because he could not afford to pay for his heart medications. He is just out from the hospital but his condition remains precarious. He told me that his heart no longer beats normally. He has about 15 percent of capacity. He will be on medication the rest of his life and he's not even sure he will be able to resume his full work.

He told the crowd of supporters:
“I am a contracted out Cook at UCD and I have been with Sodexho for 2 years. I have a heart condition, which requires me to take 5 different medications. The problem is that because of the low wages and the expensive medical insurance, I have been uninsured; the medications would cost me $400 a month, which I just can’t afford. I used to be on medical public assistance, but then I got cut off of that by the state about a year and a half ago. Now I save up the medication that I do have and only take them when it gets really bad. Lately I feel like all my strength is gone, and I get weak easily and have shortness of breath which makes it hard for me to walk. I’m hoping to be able to get medical insurance this year.”
The worst part for him is affording the co-pay. And sadly none of this would have occurred had Sodexho offered better health care last year. For the rest of his life, he will live with this fact. Joe is not alone as we have described numerous workers who have suffered greatly from lack of affordable health care. This day and age, health care cannot be a luxury, it is a necessity. And those who do not have it will have a greatly diminished life span and a greatly diminished quality of life. The worst part to me is that the people making these decision are not only public employees but they are living in great comfort receiving compensation of well over $100,000 and in many cases over twice that. We are not talking about a tremendous among of workers, it seems that it would only be right for them to get decent and affordable health coverage. How difficult would it be to have them able to attend the university health center and receiver adequate care and treatment?

Community member Lourdes spoke representing the Gospel Justice Group of St. James Catholic Church:
"I'm standing here for Esther, for Lidya, and for Joe - three UC Davis campus food service workers who I know. I believe that the ability to work to earn a living is a right of all people. All workers have the right to a fair wage, to organize themselves, and to work in good conditions. This is NOT happening on campus for the SODEXHO Food Service Workers!"
For these reasons, the fight will go on and the report as released is very critical of university practices. How much longer will this community allow this university to continue to operate as it has?
---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Valley Oak Supporters March For Charter School

A group of roughly 40 students, community members, and Valley Oak students marched from Valley Oak elementary school to City Hall yesterday evening to push support for a charter school.

Last month, the Davis Joint Unified School Board voted by a 4-1 margin to reject the resolution to amend the charter and last night they were expected to take up the original charter and reject that as well.

Following the march, an interesting situation developed as a group of Valley Oak Hispanic families came to the board meeting and spoke. Their spokesperson claimed that they were misled by the charter petition's Spanish translation. They claimed that it suggested that the petition was to keep Valley Oak itself a community school rather than a charter school. The petitioners were accused of using the Hispanic Community as political pawns.

However, in speaking to a number of the parents after their comments during the public comment session in Spanish, it seems that many want to send their children to the Valley Oak Charter school.

The Vanguard intends to follow up on this development today.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Thursday Vanguard Stories

Davis Growth Discussions To Continue Tonight

Tonight at 7 PM at the school district conference room the General Plan Housing Element Steering Committee will meet in part to discuss the results from the workshop two weeks ago.

It is not altogether clear what the results of the workshop were and how much they will affect the final decisions made by the panel. It seems that there were only nine ranking changes on six different sites that were suggested by 15 or more people. Three of these dealt with Covell Village and two Nishi.

Only two of the suggestions were to raise the ranking. That included the Lewis Cannery project which was recommended from Medium to High. And the full Covell Village property which was also recommended from Medium to High.

(see all eight summary charts of the workshop).

A few quick thoughts on these changes and then some more general comments.

First, the recommended move of PG&E makes some sense. I know it is a convenient area to consider since it is infill and not all that useful at this point in time. However, from what I understand the city would have to pay the moving costs for PG&E to relocate their property and that would run around $60 million. I know the Mayor has been a strong advocate for this project and location, and perhaps there is some aspect of this I am missing, however right now I tend to agree with the comment: "Not realistic for development."

Two of the Nishi proposals were lowered one from high to low and one from medium to low. I agree with that. Access is a huge concern. Right now realistically it looks like you would only have access from Olive Drive by car. That is a highly congested area as it is and adding more vehicle traffic would just be problematic. The bicycle access plans are a good idea, but this is just not realistic until you fix the traffic.

Many suggested that Signature be reduced from medium to low. In general, sprawl is opposed by the public. This is really something that our city leaders need to take into consideration. I do not believe that the sports park development is a sufficient reason to develop inside the Mace Curve at this time.

Then the 800 pound gorilla--Covell Village. There were significant recommendations moving the development in both directions. The traffic congestion issue is the big one that led voters to reject it in the first place but a close second would be the sprawl factor, the agricultural land factor and the very fact that the voters just rejected this a little over two years ago.

On the plus side, you have people citing it as a unique infill location (it is not infill), a great location for senior community, and close to shopping and schools.

The bottom line, is that you can argue that it is close to downtown relatively speaking, but overall it is a bad place to grow the way that Davis is currently configured. You simply lack the infrastructure and access to put more people in that location. There is no freeway access. All traffic would have to dump onto Covell, and Woodland is developing down Road 102, which means that traffic is going to be going from Davis to Woodland.

At the end of the day, I'm not completely unhappy with the way the HESC process has played out. But there are a number of concerns that I will go into briefly.

First, if Covell is the 800 gorilla, the 1% growth rate is the brontosaurus. Everything that was done by this committee now depends upon how much we should grow. At the last council meeting, the council majority, specifically Councilmember Don Saylor and Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Asmundson, talked about the need for housing. I just couldn't disagree more at this point in time given the housing market, given the strains on city budget and infrastructure. People think of housing as a means to raise city revenue but you basically get a modest one-time development fee, and we do not get enough for that to begin with, but that is far trumped by the cost for service.

Bottom line here is there seems little or no need to surpass RHNA guidelines which adds just under 500 units in the next six years.

Second, I think we need to take a more holistic approach here. And I'll divide these comments two-fold.

The council has recently heard from the Simmons property folks and the Horse Ranch development. These two projects are moving along at this time along with the Lewis Property. That's three developments that are moving forward outside somewhat of the confines of the HESC. That does not make a lot of sense from the perspective of the work done by this committee and planning for the future.

Along the same lines we have multiple factors moving at the same time. We just spoke about the sphere of influence from LAFCO which will be discussed in February and March. The council is discussing the 1% growth rate next week. You have new RHNA numbers about growth allocation and fair share of growth. You still have the Yolo County general plan with the fact that those study areas are apparently not dead. Along with that you have the pass-through agreement. You have the HESC. None of this is being discussed in totem. How do all of these factors contribute to the overall growth picture?

In some ways I feel that this process is almost ad hoc. And that decisions are being made on each of these steps independently. There are different maps and different processes. And the result will be what exactly? Does the public or even our leaders on council know?

By the end of March we should have a good idea of the answers to some of those things--but on April first will our leaders be able to tell us what the future of Davis looks like?

Add one more point--is the council majority going to continue to support Measure J as we currently know it? A lot of these decisions are being made suggesting that Measure J will protect us from growth. It permeates each issue. But will they keep it in place in the current form?

These next few weeks of discussions should tell us a tale. We'll have to find out where we stand after that.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Pizza Fundraiser on behalf of Injured Davis Police Officer

Steve's Pizza of Woodland is hosting a fundraiser Thursday (today) to benefit a Davis police officer who lost part of his leg in a motorcycle accident.

The event is sponsored by the Woodland Police Department.
"Twenty-five percent of the proceeds from all dine-in, takeout and delivery orders made between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. Thursday will go toward the family of Trevor Edens to help with his medical expenses. The restaurant is at 714 Main St. in Woodland.

Edens, 33, lost the lower half of his left leg on Dec. 30, when his personal motorcycle collided with a vehicle at a Roseville intersection. Edens was off duty at the time.

Those wishing to participate in Thursday's fundraiser must present a flier for Edens to receive a donation. Fliers are available at Steve's Pizza, and several officers will be distributing them at the restaurant on Thursday. "
Quick Comments:

What I am going to do is give a check directly to the Woodland Police Department in addition to buying a pizza. After all, any excuse I have to get pizza, I have to take. Plus I want to reward the generosity of Steve's Pizza and help Officer Edens. I hope you can all help out.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Valley Oak March Tonight

Contact County Board of Education in Support of the Valley Oak Charter School

February 21, 2008 marks the first potential date that an appeal to the County Board of Education would occur. The Valley Oak Charter School proponents are asking the public write in to the board in order request that they approve a Valley Oak Charter School.

Click here for sample letter

Send the letter to County Superintendent of Schools Jorge Ayala and all five of the board members. Residents of Yolo County only vote for one of the board members. They vote by district. The district numbers correspond with the County Supervisor districts. Thus Davis residents would either be represented by Davis Campbell (District 2) or Joseph Thomson (District 4). However, since all members will vote, it is recommended that all five members of the board be emailed the letter.

Valley Oak March Thursday at 5:30 PM

Join us as we walk from

Valley Oak Elementary School to the District Offices at B Street

5:30pm~ Line up at Valley Oak

6:00pm~ Walk to the Board Meeting

7:00pm~ School Board Meeting Begins

Bring flash lights and jackets.

Also it might be a good idea to leave a car (van) near the District Offices and one at Valley Oak.

Please help and carpool on the way back.

Make signs and wear Valley Oak shirts.

No matter how you feel about this issue, come and support the children of Davis!!

Children and Adults:

Remember to respect others and their views!

Valley Oak Charter is still very much alive!!!

Why Join the Walk

· Valley Oak Charter was denied by the Davis School Board Jan. 24th, 2008 with a 4-1vote, stressing budget. This went against the recommendation of their newly hired Superintendent.

· The law states five reasons for denying a charter and the district’s budget is not one of them. One Board member stressed that the law should be changed, revealing a lack of understanding for why the law was written.

· While planning our appeal and talking to the County School Board, we were informed that our Charter has not yet been denied and the attorney for the district also plays a roll with the County School Board and he will need to be replaced during the charter appeal, due to conflict of interest.

· The Charter is on the Davis School Board Agenda for Thursday, February 7th, 2008, to be denied due to its educational plan. News to us! It turns out that only the resolution of the charter application that the Superintendent and the Charter worked on was denied.

· We plan to submit our appeal to the County School Board Friday, February 8th, 2008.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Wednesday Vanguard Stories

Will LAFCO Changes to Davis' Sphere of Influence Open the Door to Growth on the Periphery?

Lost in the shuffle was a report in the Davis Enterprise that Davis' sphere of influence would be reduced by LAFCO.

In the Davis Enterprise article this is presented as a means to "preserve more prime agricultural land."

Claire St. John of the Davis Enterprise writes:
"'The changes from the existing SOI, adopted in 1988, reflect the likely boundaries and best growth areas for the city,' the consultant, PMC, wrote in a report. 'The primary differences between the 1988 adopted SOI and the proposed SOI include the removal of several prime agricultural areas, moving the university property within the 10-year SOI and adjustment of areas to reflect where growth is likely.'

A reduction of about 400 acres is proposed, most of which is prime agricultural land. The proposal also includes some re- jiggering to reflect where Davis is likely to grow in the future."
However before this can be approved, there will be a public process and a discussion of at the February 26, 2008 Davis City Council Meeting. This discussion takes place two weeks after the discussion of Davis' one percent growth rate.

The article suggests both Davis Supervisors are concerned about the new boundaries.
"Thomson and Yamada, who also serve as Yolo County supervisors, said they would prefer to see the sphere of influence stretch more to the west of Davis where services such as a hospital, nearby grocery store and other amenities already exist. To include those lands could give Davis more control of its growth and avoid having development forced on it as happened with Mace Ranch.

'By failing to include that property, the city was caught off guard,' Yamada said.

'The question in 1986 was if Davis was taking its fair share of growth,' Thomson added. 'Some people didn't think so and they ganged up and Davis has been paying for it every since. You don't have to grow to the sphere. It's just that that's what you evaluate when you look at annexation.'"
The larger concern however, might be the fact that if areas are not included in the sphere of influence, they might not be covered under the pass-through agreement. That means that the county might have a greater ability to develop on Davis' periphery or close to Davis' periphery under a new arrangement.

Councilmember Stephen Souza, an alternate on LAFCO is quoted in the Enterprise article:
"When reached later, Souza, who is also a Davis City Council member, said Davis now has control over its borders under Measure J. That measure requires voter approval on any General Plan change from agriculture to urban use.

'We have placed a provision in our municipal code that allows us to have ultimate control over any development outside the city of Davis,' he said. 'I believe we should control our own destiny, we should not be controlled by others. When I say 'we' I mean we, the citizens of Davis.'

Any border development needs to be discussed with the county and vice versa, Souza added. That hasn't been the accepted practice in recent years, Thomson said.

'We shouldn't be talking at each other, we need to be talking with each other,' he said. 'We affect each other.' "
In addition to the Davis City Council meeting, LAFCO will take up public comment on the proposed sphere of influence on the evening of March 31, at the Davis City Hall.

One of the issues that must be clarified is whether shrinking the city's sphere of influence instead of protecting prime agricultural land will actually leave it more vulnerable. Davis has Measure J in place to protect its periphery and require a citizen vote. Davis also a pass-through agreement with the county that enables it to have a say in development on its periphery. If changes to the boundary alter that arrangement, we could be looking at a repeat of what happened last summer.

Additionally, the county has not taken the three studies areas proposed at that time off the table, but they might have an easier track elsewhere including along the I-80 corridor if this comes to pass.

Davis residents need to watch this with great interest in the coming weeks.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Election Night: Unity 2008

For one night at least, Davis Democrats were just Davis Democrats. Friend and foe. Adversary and ally alike shed their labels and lined up under the big tent. Democrats got together last night at Lamppost Pizza for the Yolo County Young Democrats Election Night Party.

For local Democrats, races are officially on. Proposition 93 was defeated at last count 53-46. That means that Lois Wolk, although she faces no primary challenge, will face the fight of her life when she takes on fellow Assemblyman Greg Aghazarian. Supervisor Mariko Yamada and West Sacramento Mayor Christopher both were at the party last night and will square off for the Democratic nomination for the 8th Assembly District. The winner will almost certainly be the next Assembly representative in the heavily Democratic District. Jim Provenza and John Ferrera will square off for the open 4th Supervisorial District currently held by Ms. Yamada.

The shocker is the national results however. Senator Hillary Clinton won the biggest prize of California, currently 52-42. But Barack Obama won more states, as of last count 13 with New Mexico still too close to call although Senator Obama leads narrowly. The popular vote is nearly evenly split. The delegate count far from decided, but most likely also evenly split. Most pundits had felt the best Senator Obama would do would be 7 to 9 states. So he outperformed expectations there. On the other hand, it seemed many felt that he could take California, but that was never a context.

That leaves amazingly enough the Democratic nomination completely up for grabs. Pundits argued that Senator Obama did not have to win the election outright last night, if he stayed close he would have the momentum and resources to win a prolonged battle. That will be put to a test now as the races move on past Super Tuesday no closer it seems to a winner.

The same cannot be said for the Republicans. Though hardcore conservatives railed against him, Senator John McCain won every single big prize last night, most of them winner-takes-all states. The biggest loser was former Governor Mitt Romney. And Governor Mike Huckabee won some Southern contests playing a spoiler roll for Gov. Romney. That nomination is all but sewn up for McCain, and we shall see if the party can unite behind him.

Meanwhile for Davis and Yolo County, it is game on. Just under four months until the election for the Democratic nominees for Senate and Assembly, and the non-partisan but heated battles for Supervisor and City Council.

For one night though, it seemed like everyone was on the same side.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting