General Plan Update at City Council Last Night

Last night’s Davis City Council meeting saw a number of issues that were raised that we will be discussing over the course of the next few days.

I begin with a procedural fight over what will likely be one of the most contentious issues facing Davis over the course of the next 18 months–the update of the general plan.

Last night the key point in question was what body should be drafting the update to the General Plan. Staff came forward last night with a format that gives the appearance of citizen participation in the form of a steering committee. I say appearance because the council itself will appoint these members and they are likely to reflect a rather narrow cross-section of Davis residents

Mayor Greenwald and Councilmember Heystek opposed this option preferring that the council work to draft the new general plan themselves. The stated reason was that both members felt like this should be the primary responsibility of the elected council members rather than point “surrogates.”

Now the term surrogate drew a surprisingly angry response from Asmundson, who somehow found that term offensive. She considered it an insult to the people who would serve this role. (In the future, this will be fodder for a video clip, but in the meantime, a brief discussion is in order.)

I looked up the definition to the word surrogate and found it rather innocuous according to WordReference.com. The first definition is: “a person appointed to represent or act on behalf of others.” Hello? Is that not what they are doing?

Heystek clearly objected to the process, but it was far from clear that he of all people had any intention of being insulting to citizens who would participate in this process. Asmundson’s claim was completely without merit and her response was extremely disproportionate to the so-called offense.

The concern that Greenwald and Heystek have is that each member will draw from a very narrow group of people and that the division lines on the council will be reflected in who the councilmembers nominate to that committee. That part is obvious. The less obvious part is whether a group of 15 appointed by the commission and their likely 9-6 vote would have any greater weight than a 3-2 vote by the council itself.

I think there is a clear concern that this would give the council majority political cover to take whatever actions a body of 15 citizens recommend.

I also think that Heystek has a valid concern echoed in the comments by Eileen Samitz last night that this is the same council majority whose proposed project at Covell Village was overwhelmingly defeated, whose project at Second Street Crossing was narrowly passed, and whose own members were narrowly elected.

Why is that relevant? Because a likely 9-6 breakdown of the members of a steering committee would likely not reflect the sentiment and values of the community at-large.

That said, to be fully honest, I am not sure that any process is going to be completely fair short of competing visions going up for a vote. It is very obvious that the council majority will do what they want to do regardless of how the process is set up (and that’s not necessarily a criticism of them, that’s in fact their right as council majority). The only thing we can hope for is a fair and open proceedings that are recorded and can be shown in the light of day.

As such, projects such as this blog may be the best protection we have. The public needs to be informed and put pressure on the council to adhere to our vision of growth.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

Author

  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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Land Use/Open Space

40 comments

  1. The political theater launched last evening is errily parallel to what we are seeing in Washington D.C. Substitute our current gang of three for the Bush administration and you have our “deciders”, now hanging on to power by their fingernails, mouthing inclusive platitudes. Substitute this steering committee concept for the Baker-Hamilton Commission and the Pentagon group “recommendations” and you see that both are offered to defuse rising voter dissatisfaction and to shield the “deciders” from full accountability. I’m not surprised that Saylor called the steering committee plan, “genius”.

  2. The political theater launched last evening is errily parallel to what we are seeing in Washington D.C. Substitute our current gang of three for the Bush administration and you have our “deciders”, now hanging on to power by their fingernails, mouthing inclusive platitudes. Substitute this steering committee concept for the Baker-Hamilton Commission and the Pentagon group “recommendations” and you see that both are offered to defuse rising voter dissatisfaction and to shield the “deciders” from full accountability. I’m not surprised that Saylor called the steering committee plan, “genius”.

  3. The political theater launched last evening is errily parallel to what we are seeing in Washington D.C. Substitute our current gang of three for the Bush administration and you have our “deciders”, now hanging on to power by their fingernails, mouthing inclusive platitudes. Substitute this steering committee concept for the Baker-Hamilton Commission and the Pentagon group “recommendations” and you see that both are offered to defuse rising voter dissatisfaction and to shield the “deciders” from full accountability. I’m not surprised that Saylor called the steering committee plan, “genius”.

  4. The political theater launched last evening is errily parallel to what we are seeing in Washington D.C. Substitute our current gang of three for the Bush administration and you have our “deciders”, now hanging on to power by their fingernails, mouthing inclusive platitudes. Substitute this steering committee concept for the Baker-Hamilton Commission and the Pentagon group “recommendations” and you see that both are offered to defuse rising voter dissatisfaction and to shield the “deciders” from full accountability. I’m not surprised that Saylor called the steering committee plan, “genius”.

  5. Doug… I would like to create a flyer that gets the word out about Peoples Vanguard of Davis. I would post it around town . It’s your blog
    so do you have a problem with this idea? You could create the flyer yourself or I could do it and get it to you for your approval.

  6. Doug… I would like to create a flyer that gets the word out about Peoples Vanguard of Davis. I would post it around town . It’s your blog
    so do you have a problem with this idea? You could create the flyer yourself or I could do it and get it to you for your approval.

  7. Doug… I would like to create a flyer that gets the word out about Peoples Vanguard of Davis. I would post it around town . It’s your blog
    so do you have a problem with this idea? You could create the flyer yourself or I could do it and get it to you for your approval.

  8. Doug… I would like to create a flyer that gets the word out about Peoples Vanguard of Davis. I would post it around town . It’s your blog
    so do you have a problem with this idea? You could create the flyer yourself or I could do it and get it to you for your approval.

  9. I was not in town for the last general plan process, so I am new to this process. The steering committee suggested here may be a way to offload some of the work which will be extensive but may just be a way to buffer council members from being tainted politically if the process is rough. You know that the steering committee will be steered by the council every step of the way.

    It is interesting to note that the School Board can form a facilities best use taskforce to study and advise the Board on a possible reorganization of the schools in Davis and it is well-accepted. It is clear that the School Board does not have a plan in mind already and is not just going through the motions. The city council majority wants to form a steering committee to guide the general plan process (investigate, evaluate and advise) and the result is immediate suspicion.

  10. I was not in town for the last general plan process, so I am new to this process. The steering committee suggested here may be a way to offload some of the work which will be extensive but may just be a way to buffer council members from being tainted politically if the process is rough. You know that the steering committee will be steered by the council every step of the way.

    It is interesting to note that the School Board can form a facilities best use taskforce to study and advise the Board on a possible reorganization of the schools in Davis and it is well-accepted. It is clear that the School Board does not have a plan in mind already and is not just going through the motions. The city council majority wants to form a steering committee to guide the general plan process (investigate, evaluate and advise) and the result is immediate suspicion.

  11. I was not in town for the last general plan process, so I am new to this process. The steering committee suggested here may be a way to offload some of the work which will be extensive but may just be a way to buffer council members from being tainted politically if the process is rough. You know that the steering committee will be steered by the council every step of the way.

    It is interesting to note that the School Board can form a facilities best use taskforce to study and advise the Board on a possible reorganization of the schools in Davis and it is well-accepted. It is clear that the School Board does not have a plan in mind already and is not just going through the motions. The city council majority wants to form a steering committee to guide the general plan process (investigate, evaluate and advise) and the result is immediate suspicion.

  12. I was not in town for the last general plan process, so I am new to this process. The steering committee suggested here may be a way to offload some of the work which will be extensive but may just be a way to buffer council members from being tainted politically if the process is rough. You know that the steering committee will be steered by the council every step of the way.

    It is interesting to note that the School Board can form a facilities best use taskforce to study and advise the Board on a possible reorganization of the schools in Davis and it is well-accepted. It is clear that the School Board does not have a plan in mind already and is not just going through the motions. The city council majority wants to form a steering committee to guide the general plan process (investigate, evaluate and advise) and the result is immediate suspicion.

  13. “The city council majority wants to form a steering committee to guide the general plan process (investigate, evaluate and advise) and the result is immediate suspicion.”

    You raise a good point, and I suppose the difference is that we suspect that the council majority already has an outcome in mind–not a specific outcome but a general goal in terms of growth and such.

  14. “The city council majority wants to form a steering committee to guide the general plan process (investigate, evaluate and advise) and the result is immediate suspicion.”

    You raise a good point, and I suppose the difference is that we suspect that the council majority already has an outcome in mind–not a specific outcome but a general goal in terms of growth and such.

  15. “The city council majority wants to form a steering committee to guide the general plan process (investigate, evaluate and advise) and the result is immediate suspicion.”

    You raise a good point, and I suppose the difference is that we suspect that the council majority already has an outcome in mind–not a specific outcome but a general goal in terms of growth and such.

  16. “The city council majority wants to form a steering committee to guide the general plan process (investigate, evaluate and advise) and the result is immediate suspicion.”

    You raise a good point, and I suppose the difference is that we suspect that the council majority already has an outcome in mind–not a specific outcome but a general goal in terms of growth and such.

  17. It was evident last evening that the council majority has a clear intent to keep the “independent” steering committee on a short leash… Saylor was already pressing to make the 1% growth plan part of the Housing Element catachism even though it was created “out of whole cloth” by this council majority and implicitedly rejected by the voters when they rejected Measure X(The 1% growth myth being the main argument for the need of Covell Village). This current council majority has a public record of agressively pressing for a Davis growth policy that is out of snyc with the Davis voters. The voters have every reason to be suspicious of their plans.

  18. It was evident last evening that the council majority has a clear intent to keep the “independent” steering committee on a short leash… Saylor was already pressing to make the 1% growth plan part of the Housing Element catachism even though it was created “out of whole cloth” by this council majority and implicitedly rejected by the voters when they rejected Measure X(The 1% growth myth being the main argument for the need of Covell Village). This current council majority has a public record of agressively pressing for a Davis growth policy that is out of snyc with the Davis voters. The voters have every reason to be suspicious of their plans.

  19. It was evident last evening that the council majority has a clear intent to keep the “independent” steering committee on a short leash… Saylor was already pressing to make the 1% growth plan part of the Housing Element catachism even though it was created “out of whole cloth” by this council majority and implicitedly rejected by the voters when they rejected Measure X(The 1% growth myth being the main argument for the need of Covell Village). This current council majority has a public record of agressively pressing for a Davis growth policy that is out of snyc with the Davis voters. The voters have every reason to be suspicious of their plans.

  20. It was evident last evening that the council majority has a clear intent to keep the “independent” steering committee on a short leash… Saylor was already pressing to make the 1% growth plan part of the Housing Element catachism even though it was created “out of whole cloth” by this council majority and implicitedly rejected by the voters when they rejected Measure X(The 1% growth myth being the main argument for the need of Covell Village). This current council majority has a public record of agressively pressing for a Davis growth policy that is out of snyc with the Davis voters. The voters have every reason to be suspicious of their plans.

  21. A Saylor comment caught my eye in Claire’s Enterprise article reporting on last evening’s meeting. It would place the Planning Commission in an “awkward” position, he said as a reason for a steering committee rather than the council members themselves doing the Housing Element evaluation and making recommendations. So much for the concept of independent thought and judgements from the Planning Commission. Exactly what is the awkwardness of having members of the Planning Commission make independent judgements which may not be in agreement with councilmembers( who, of course,can disregard their recommendations)
    other than fear of retribution from their council patrons?

  22. A Saylor comment caught my eye in Claire’s Enterprise article reporting on last evening’s meeting. It would place the Planning Commission in an “awkward” position, he said as a reason for a steering committee rather than the council members themselves doing the Housing Element evaluation and making recommendations. So much for the concept of independent thought and judgements from the Planning Commission. Exactly what is the awkwardness of having members of the Planning Commission make independent judgements which may not be in agreement with councilmembers( who, of course,can disregard their recommendations)
    other than fear of retribution from their council patrons?

  23. A Saylor comment caught my eye in Claire’s Enterprise article reporting on last evening’s meeting. It would place the Planning Commission in an “awkward” position, he said as a reason for a steering committee rather than the council members themselves doing the Housing Element evaluation and making recommendations. So much for the concept of independent thought and judgements from the Planning Commission. Exactly what is the awkwardness of having members of the Planning Commission make independent judgements which may not be in agreement with councilmembers( who, of course,can disregard their recommendations)
    other than fear of retribution from their council patrons?

  24. A Saylor comment caught my eye in Claire’s Enterprise article reporting on last evening’s meeting. It would place the Planning Commission in an “awkward” position, he said as a reason for a steering committee rather than the council members themselves doing the Housing Element evaluation and making recommendations. So much for the concept of independent thought and judgements from the Planning Commission. Exactly what is the awkwardness of having members of the Planning Commission make independent judgements which may not be in agreement with councilmembers( who, of course,can disregard their recommendations)
    other than fear of retribution from their council patrons?

  25. …….. Saylor’s “awkwardness” statement is a vision that rejects the concept that a councilmember could actually find that an independent Planning Commission alternative opinion
    could raise important issues that would be welcomed and actually change the initial council recommendation rather than “rubber-stamping” it.

  26. …….. Saylor’s “awkwardness” statement is a vision that rejects the concept that a councilmember could actually find that an independent Planning Commission alternative opinion
    could raise important issues that would be welcomed and actually change the initial council recommendation rather than “rubber-stamping” it.

  27. …….. Saylor’s “awkwardness” statement is a vision that rejects the concept that a councilmember could actually find that an independent Planning Commission alternative opinion
    could raise important issues that would be welcomed and actually change the initial council recommendation rather than “rubber-stamping” it.

  28. …….. Saylor’s “awkwardness” statement is a vision that rejects the concept that a councilmember could actually find that an independent Planning Commission alternative opinion
    could raise important issues that would be welcomed and actually change the initial council recommendation rather than “rubber-stamping” it.

  29. I don’t know how late you watched last night, but the worst display by far was on the parks. Blatant dishonesty on the part of both Saylor and Souza on different issues. I was telling somebody today, talking about Rexroad, I disagree with Rexroad, probably will most of the time, but at least he tells you where he is, no parsing words. Watching it again, I was just disgusted with what I saw from the two of them. That’s going up tomorrow morning.

  30. I don’t know how late you watched last night, but the worst display by far was on the parks. Blatant dishonesty on the part of both Saylor and Souza on different issues. I was telling somebody today, talking about Rexroad, I disagree with Rexroad, probably will most of the time, but at least he tells you where he is, no parsing words. Watching it again, I was just disgusted with what I saw from the two of them. That’s going up tomorrow morning.

  31. I don’t know how late you watched last night, but the worst display by far was on the parks. Blatant dishonesty on the part of both Saylor and Souza on different issues. I was telling somebody today, talking about Rexroad, I disagree with Rexroad, probably will most of the time, but at least he tells you where he is, no parsing words. Watching it again, I was just disgusted with what I saw from the two of them. That’s going up tomorrow morning.

  32. I don’t know how late you watched last night, but the worst display by far was on the parks. Blatant dishonesty on the part of both Saylor and Souza on different issues. I was telling somebody today, talking about Rexroad, I disagree with Rexroad, probably will most of the time, but at least he tells you where he is, no parsing words. Watching it again, I was just disgusted with what I saw from the two of them. That’s going up tomorrow morning.

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