Making Tough Choices on Global Warming at the Local Level

This year for the first time marks a real shift in the issue of the global warming. It seems that for years there was a destructive debate over the issue of whether global climate change was caused by human activities–a debate that fundamentally missed the point because while we had a political debate–often muted–on this question, we missed out on many opportunities to mitigate climate damage that would not have disrupted the economy and were things that we ought to do regardless of whether or not this issue exists.

However, this has all changed this year, you can see it in the focus from the scientific community, you can see it the production and publicity that Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” has received, and you can see in the response at the state, county, and local government levels.

Global warming is a well-documented problem that is far bigger than just the city of Davis. However, many of the changes needed on an international level begin with practices at the local level.

Tuesday night at the Davis City Council meeting, there was an agenda item on global warming and the things that the city needs to do to reduce emissions.

The real question I had after watching both the presentation and the council exchange following it is whether or not this is window dressing by the council majority to appear to be environmentally friendly and socially conscious or whether this marks the beginning of real changes–tough changes–that we have to make in order to affect the global climate and must be undertaken at a community-by-community level.

The city is putting together an action plan to reduce the carbon footprint which they claim is already low and already many of these items are in place. The big one of course is to drive less. Vehicle emissions represent a huge amount of the carbon problem.

An interesting thing that came up at the county level perhaps a month or month and a half ago was Duane Chamberlain, the County Supervisor who represents much of rural Yolo County talked about his conversations with local farmers about how much fuel they used per acre of their land. It was a fairly low number when he compared it to how much fuel was used in a medium density city neighborhood. You are talking about multiple dwellings on that land where people are using hundreds if not thousands of gallons of fuel individually, and you may have several dwellings on that acre. Whereas, Chamberlain was suggesting that many farmers perhaps used 40-60 gallons per acre.

And that is just driving fuel. What that suggests is in terms of carbon footprint, urban land use is much higher than rural land use.

The council majority of course suggests their support for these types of issues and yet their policies do not seem consistent.

At the previous meeting there was a long and sustained debate as to whether they should mandate solar panels for a new housing development. The council majority’s position was that it should be optional. If you have a commitment to reduction of energy usage, how can solar panels which are clean and sustainable uses of energy be optional?

Moreover, one of the big problems of the Covell Village proposal, was the traffic impacts. Increasing traffic adds greatly to carbon emissions because the higher the intensity of the traffic, the more vehicles idle and less efficient they use their fuel. Covell Village would have produced vast traffic problems and that would have increased greatly the amount of carbon emissions in Davis. That does not mean that we can never develop or add subdivisions or communities, but it does mean that we need to start planning for traffic, alternative transportation and cleaner burner transportation at the very least in conjunction with new housing development.

Then there is the entire Target and big-box issue. This is a corporation with a huge and vast global carbon footprint. This is the type of non-sustainable use of resources that we need to start changing. The debate over this was glossed over last fall. The Target building in Davis was marketed to the Davis consumer and voter as being green–the color of the building is green, it is put in a LEED certified building. As one person put it last fall–you can put a Hummer car dealership in a LEED certified building, that is not going to make it environmentally friendly or address the top concerns of global warming at a local level.

So the council majority is going to have to decide if global warming and reducing our carbon footprint is an actual priority.

Are they willing to make actual tough choices that impact people’s lives?

They talked about easy to implement plans that require “no vision” to implement–those are things that we can all agree on and we should do. But to really get into this problem we need to make tough choices on development and building construction and neighborhood planning.

There was also talk about not reinventing the wheel. I think Councilmember Lamar Heystek make the crucial point, “in terms of a vision, I think we need to look at what other communities do and then exceed them. I think competition is a good thing.”

Mayor Sue Greenwald finally pointed out that there was no mention in the action plan about city planning, land use patterns, floor area ratios for houses, she asked if there was anything about making use of land use planning. Staff gave a vague answer on this but suggested it was an important component.

Councilmember Saylor suggested at one point–“it is not a question of who is greener than the other one”–and yet I think it is exactly a question of that. Are some of the land use policies that this city employs consistent with the goal of dealing with global warming? I think Sue Greenwald was exactly right that this component of the discussion was largely missing.

Councilmember Souza made the point that the burning of fossil fuels is what is the primary source of greenhouse gas emissions and that in this area that is the consumption of gasoline. And I agree with that, what I was disappointed in is the lack of recognition that fuel usage is not merely a site-based problem. That if we consume goods that need transportation or that were manufactured elsewhere, guess what, we are contributing to the greenhouse gas emissions in a real way, even though the emissions are occurring elsewhere and the rest of the world is also doing the same thing.

Finally concern was raised by both Mayor Greenwald and Councilmember Heystek about the 18 month visioning process. Both suggested we should do things quicker. Mayor Greenwald was concerned that we would lose momentum and also fall behind what other communities are doing. Heystek suggested earlier in the discussion that this ought to be a one-year process rather than an 18-month process.

My overall concerns echo these–there are things we can and should do now and we also have to discuss the tough issues of land use, city planning, commercial development, and transportation.

Davis indeed does many good things environmentally, however, we should not pretend that the current policies and recent developments have moved us in the right direction.

—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.

Categories:

Environment

104 comments

  1. This is a good subject and I’m glad you raised it. I’ll address three areas where energy efficiency improvements can be made, their benefits, and drawbacks: housing, land use, and transportation.

    Energy Efficiency and Housing: First, should solar panels be mandated? An argument for that can be made since they can be integrated into the mortgage without too much effect and easily pay themselves back so should not count against the homebuyer in their loan qualification amount. However, solar panels are sensitive to placement, shade, and orientation. So long as roofs are built with enough southern exposure, then the mandate would work. However, solar panels are currently fairly large and a 2.5KW system like mine requires 18 good size panels and maybe as much as 250 sq feet. Keep in mind, solar rebates for residential purposes are not what they used to be so the cost is rising, unless the Governor’s bill to promote solar panel is implemented. Also keep in mind, PG &E is no friend of solar power and will not allow solar produces to overproduce, so there is no incentive to purchase a system larger than you need, so you usually end up with a system smaller than one that produces 100% of a household’s electricity requirements. Another option to mandate or strongly encourage is on-demand hot water. These also cover their costs very quickly through energy efficiency. If anyone attended the Green Expo at the Sac convention center a few weeks back, you’d have seen many interesting household energy improvement products.

    Transportation: Many improvements can be made locally, and if altruism were to work anywhere, this would be the place. But it does not fundamentally affect travel behavior. About 10% of all trips in Davis are by alternative mode. Unfortunately, this is considered phenomenal by US standards except in very high density cities. But, probably 90% of those are made by the students. So my guess is that Davis is only marginally better than other communities. Personal observations suggest Davisites are much more sensitive regarding the type of vehicles they drive. Far fewer SUVs, pickups, etc. than other communities (try visiting Texas). However, in the automobile realm, there is a huge opportunity being missed to encourage neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs). This town is simply the perfect location for families to dump the second car and purchase an NEV. It is a sad commentary that towns catering to seniors such as Lincoln have taken the lead on encouraging and implementing use of NEVs. There is a limit to what the City can do but they can be incentivized by, for example, allowing NEVs unmetered parking downtown, annual parcel tax credits (not sure how this would work considering taxes are administered by the County), and a major outreach campaign. I have been saddened by this supposedly “progressive” communities response to NEVs, which I will explain in my next post. Regarding bicycling and walking, distances and travel times are too great for many trips, especially with children, but a lot of progress can be made. Also, considering too many residential neighborhoods without support retail to “plug into” discourages walking and bicycling, despite the City’s overall relatively compact footprint.

    Land Use: The best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while still trying to meet objectives of affordable housing is will smart growth infill and redevelopment. For example, we need to intensify uses on many corridors so neighborhoods can “plug into” amenities within walking distance. This includes higher intensity mixed use residential along arterials. It will provide housing, reduce the number of automobile trips and the distances traveled. This could fundamentally change the character of many parts of town. However, in my opinion, for the better. These include the PG & E site, Downtown, Olive Drive north, 8th Street commercial strip mall, possibly 2nd street, the vacant Chiles Rd properties, Covell Blvd west of HWY 113, 5th Street/L Street area. Smart growth development in these locations would reduce the need for peripheral development. But there are real tradeoffs here and I imagine would push way beyond city residents’ comfort level.

    Development on the Covell Village site makes sense because it can be done in accordance with high energy efficiency, smart growth, urban design, and provide more amenities closer to a very large population base (Wildhorse, Mace Ranch, east Davis, etc.) that really only has the Nugget shopping center in close walking or bicycling proximity. With mixed use retail fronting Covell Blvd and Pole Line road, many trips (and energy) that are currently going to the Marketplace, downtown, or elsewhere in town by automobile, would occur within the Covell/Pole Line activity space.

    So my apologies for the long winded post.

  2. This is a good subject and I’m glad you raised it. I’ll address three areas where energy efficiency improvements can be made, their benefits, and drawbacks: housing, land use, and transportation.

    Energy Efficiency and Housing: First, should solar panels be mandated? An argument for that can be made since they can be integrated into the mortgage without too much effect and easily pay themselves back so should not count against the homebuyer in their loan qualification amount. However, solar panels are sensitive to placement, shade, and orientation. So long as roofs are built with enough southern exposure, then the mandate would work. However, solar panels are currently fairly large and a 2.5KW system like mine requires 18 good size panels and maybe as much as 250 sq feet. Keep in mind, solar rebates for residential purposes are not what they used to be so the cost is rising, unless the Governor’s bill to promote solar panel is implemented. Also keep in mind, PG &E is no friend of solar power and will not allow solar produces to overproduce, so there is no incentive to purchase a system larger than you need, so you usually end up with a system smaller than one that produces 100% of a household’s electricity requirements. Another option to mandate or strongly encourage is on-demand hot water. These also cover their costs very quickly through energy efficiency. If anyone attended the Green Expo at the Sac convention center a few weeks back, you’d have seen many interesting household energy improvement products.

    Transportation: Many improvements can be made locally, and if altruism were to work anywhere, this would be the place. But it does not fundamentally affect travel behavior. About 10% of all trips in Davis are by alternative mode. Unfortunately, this is considered phenomenal by US standards except in very high density cities. But, probably 90% of those are made by the students. So my guess is that Davis is only marginally better than other communities. Personal observations suggest Davisites are much more sensitive regarding the type of vehicles they drive. Far fewer SUVs, pickups, etc. than other communities (try visiting Texas). However, in the automobile realm, there is a huge opportunity being missed to encourage neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs). This town is simply the perfect location for families to dump the second car and purchase an NEV. It is a sad commentary that towns catering to seniors such as Lincoln have taken the lead on encouraging and implementing use of NEVs. There is a limit to what the City can do but they can be incentivized by, for example, allowing NEVs unmetered parking downtown, annual parcel tax credits (not sure how this would work considering taxes are administered by the County), and a major outreach campaign. I have been saddened by this supposedly “progressive” communities response to NEVs, which I will explain in my next post. Regarding bicycling and walking, distances and travel times are too great for many trips, especially with children, but a lot of progress can be made. Also, considering too many residential neighborhoods without support retail to “plug into” discourages walking and bicycling, despite the City’s overall relatively compact footprint.

    Land Use: The best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while still trying to meet objectives of affordable housing is will smart growth infill and redevelopment. For example, we need to intensify uses on many corridors so neighborhoods can “plug into” amenities within walking distance. This includes higher intensity mixed use residential along arterials. It will provide housing, reduce the number of automobile trips and the distances traveled. This could fundamentally change the character of many parts of town. However, in my opinion, for the better. These include the PG & E site, Downtown, Olive Drive north, 8th Street commercial strip mall, possibly 2nd street, the vacant Chiles Rd properties, Covell Blvd west of HWY 113, 5th Street/L Street area. Smart growth development in these locations would reduce the need for peripheral development. But there are real tradeoffs here and I imagine would push way beyond city residents’ comfort level.

    Development on the Covell Village site makes sense because it can be done in accordance with high energy efficiency, smart growth, urban design, and provide more amenities closer to a very large population base (Wildhorse, Mace Ranch, east Davis, etc.) that really only has the Nugget shopping center in close walking or bicycling proximity. With mixed use retail fronting Covell Blvd and Pole Line road, many trips (and energy) that are currently going to the Marketplace, downtown, or elsewhere in town by automobile, would occur within the Covell/Pole Line activity space.

    So my apologies for the long winded post.

  3. This is a good subject and I’m glad you raised it. I’ll address three areas where energy efficiency improvements can be made, their benefits, and drawbacks: housing, land use, and transportation.

    Energy Efficiency and Housing: First, should solar panels be mandated? An argument for that can be made since they can be integrated into the mortgage without too much effect and easily pay themselves back so should not count against the homebuyer in their loan qualification amount. However, solar panels are sensitive to placement, shade, and orientation. So long as roofs are built with enough southern exposure, then the mandate would work. However, solar panels are currently fairly large and a 2.5KW system like mine requires 18 good size panels and maybe as much as 250 sq feet. Keep in mind, solar rebates for residential purposes are not what they used to be so the cost is rising, unless the Governor’s bill to promote solar panel is implemented. Also keep in mind, PG &E is no friend of solar power and will not allow solar produces to overproduce, so there is no incentive to purchase a system larger than you need, so you usually end up with a system smaller than one that produces 100% of a household’s electricity requirements. Another option to mandate or strongly encourage is on-demand hot water. These also cover their costs very quickly through energy efficiency. If anyone attended the Green Expo at the Sac convention center a few weeks back, you’d have seen many interesting household energy improvement products.

    Transportation: Many improvements can be made locally, and if altruism were to work anywhere, this would be the place. But it does not fundamentally affect travel behavior. About 10% of all trips in Davis are by alternative mode. Unfortunately, this is considered phenomenal by US standards except in very high density cities. But, probably 90% of those are made by the students. So my guess is that Davis is only marginally better than other communities. Personal observations suggest Davisites are much more sensitive regarding the type of vehicles they drive. Far fewer SUVs, pickups, etc. than other communities (try visiting Texas). However, in the automobile realm, there is a huge opportunity being missed to encourage neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs). This town is simply the perfect location for families to dump the second car and purchase an NEV. It is a sad commentary that towns catering to seniors such as Lincoln have taken the lead on encouraging and implementing use of NEVs. There is a limit to what the City can do but they can be incentivized by, for example, allowing NEVs unmetered parking downtown, annual parcel tax credits (not sure how this would work considering taxes are administered by the County), and a major outreach campaign. I have been saddened by this supposedly “progressive” communities response to NEVs, which I will explain in my next post. Regarding bicycling and walking, distances and travel times are too great for many trips, especially with children, but a lot of progress can be made. Also, considering too many residential neighborhoods without support retail to “plug into” discourages walking and bicycling, despite the City’s overall relatively compact footprint.

    Land Use: The best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while still trying to meet objectives of affordable housing is will smart growth infill and redevelopment. For example, we need to intensify uses on many corridors so neighborhoods can “plug into” amenities within walking distance. This includes higher intensity mixed use residential along arterials. It will provide housing, reduce the number of automobile trips and the distances traveled. This could fundamentally change the character of many parts of town. However, in my opinion, for the better. These include the PG & E site, Downtown, Olive Drive north, 8th Street commercial strip mall, possibly 2nd street, the vacant Chiles Rd properties, Covell Blvd west of HWY 113, 5th Street/L Street area. Smart growth development in these locations would reduce the need for peripheral development. But there are real tradeoffs here and I imagine would push way beyond city residents’ comfort level.

    Development on the Covell Village site makes sense because it can be done in accordance with high energy efficiency, smart growth, urban design, and provide more amenities closer to a very large population base (Wildhorse, Mace Ranch, east Davis, etc.) that really only has the Nugget shopping center in close walking or bicycling proximity. With mixed use retail fronting Covell Blvd and Pole Line road, many trips (and energy) that are currently going to the Marketplace, downtown, or elsewhere in town by automobile, would occur within the Covell/Pole Line activity space.

    So my apologies for the long winded post.

  4. This is a good subject and I’m glad you raised it. I’ll address three areas where energy efficiency improvements can be made, their benefits, and drawbacks: housing, land use, and transportation.

    Energy Efficiency and Housing: First, should solar panels be mandated? An argument for that can be made since they can be integrated into the mortgage without too much effect and easily pay themselves back so should not count against the homebuyer in their loan qualification amount. However, solar panels are sensitive to placement, shade, and orientation. So long as roofs are built with enough southern exposure, then the mandate would work. However, solar panels are currently fairly large and a 2.5KW system like mine requires 18 good size panels and maybe as much as 250 sq feet. Keep in mind, solar rebates for residential purposes are not what they used to be so the cost is rising, unless the Governor’s bill to promote solar panel is implemented. Also keep in mind, PG &E is no friend of solar power and will not allow solar produces to overproduce, so there is no incentive to purchase a system larger than you need, so you usually end up with a system smaller than one that produces 100% of a household’s electricity requirements. Another option to mandate or strongly encourage is on-demand hot water. These also cover their costs very quickly through energy efficiency. If anyone attended the Green Expo at the Sac convention center a few weeks back, you’d have seen many interesting household energy improvement products.

    Transportation: Many improvements can be made locally, and if altruism were to work anywhere, this would be the place. But it does not fundamentally affect travel behavior. About 10% of all trips in Davis are by alternative mode. Unfortunately, this is considered phenomenal by US standards except in very high density cities. But, probably 90% of those are made by the students. So my guess is that Davis is only marginally better than other communities. Personal observations suggest Davisites are much more sensitive regarding the type of vehicles they drive. Far fewer SUVs, pickups, etc. than other communities (try visiting Texas). However, in the automobile realm, there is a huge opportunity being missed to encourage neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs). This town is simply the perfect location for families to dump the second car and purchase an NEV. It is a sad commentary that towns catering to seniors such as Lincoln have taken the lead on encouraging and implementing use of NEVs. There is a limit to what the City can do but they can be incentivized by, for example, allowing NEVs unmetered parking downtown, annual parcel tax credits (not sure how this would work considering taxes are administered by the County), and a major outreach campaign. I have been saddened by this supposedly “progressive” communities response to NEVs, which I will explain in my next post. Regarding bicycling and walking, distances and travel times are too great for many trips, especially with children, but a lot of progress can be made. Also, considering too many residential neighborhoods without support retail to “plug into” discourages walking and bicycling, despite the City’s overall relatively compact footprint.

    Land Use: The best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while still trying to meet objectives of affordable housing is will smart growth infill and redevelopment. For example, we need to intensify uses on many corridors so neighborhoods can “plug into” amenities within walking distance. This includes higher intensity mixed use residential along arterials. It will provide housing, reduce the number of automobile trips and the distances traveled. This could fundamentally change the character of many parts of town. However, in my opinion, for the better. These include the PG & E site, Downtown, Olive Drive north, 8th Street commercial strip mall, possibly 2nd street, the vacant Chiles Rd properties, Covell Blvd west of HWY 113, 5th Street/L Street area. Smart growth development in these locations would reduce the need for peripheral development. But there are real tradeoffs here and I imagine would push way beyond city residents’ comfort level.

    Development on the Covell Village site makes sense because it can be done in accordance with high energy efficiency, smart growth, urban design, and provide more amenities closer to a very large population base (Wildhorse, Mace Ranch, east Davis, etc.) that really only has the Nugget shopping center in close walking or bicycling proximity. With mixed use retail fronting Covell Blvd and Pole Line road, many trips (and energy) that are currently going to the Marketplace, downtown, or elsewhere in town by automobile, would occur within the Covell/Pole Line activity space.

    So my apologies for the long winded post.

  5. But while we can do as much as possible at the local level, reduction in greenhouse gases really needs to come from the state or federal government in the form of greenhouse gas emissions standards, CAFÉ increases, or fuel taxes, but benefits from GHG and CAFÉ standards take a long time to realize because of the turnover rate of the vehicle fleet. VMT fees and/or increased fuel taxes are the only immediate way to achieve wholesale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Considering the state legislature has not increased the fuel tax since the early 1990s and it doesn’t even keep pace with inflation, we can almost forget that option. It looks like the effect of peak oil on the market is having an effect as it was always assumed the $4.00/gallon gasoline was required to have an impact on automobile travel behavior.

  6. But while we can do as much as possible at the local level, reduction in greenhouse gases really needs to come from the state or federal government in the form of greenhouse gas emissions standards, CAFÉ increases, or fuel taxes, but benefits from GHG and CAFÉ standards take a long time to realize because of the turnover rate of the vehicle fleet. VMT fees and/or increased fuel taxes are the only immediate way to achieve wholesale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Considering the state legislature has not increased the fuel tax since the early 1990s and it doesn’t even keep pace with inflation, we can almost forget that option. It looks like the effect of peak oil on the market is having an effect as it was always assumed the $4.00/gallon gasoline was required to have an impact on automobile travel behavior.

  7. But while we can do as much as possible at the local level, reduction in greenhouse gases really needs to come from the state or federal government in the form of greenhouse gas emissions standards, CAFÉ increases, or fuel taxes, but benefits from GHG and CAFÉ standards take a long time to realize because of the turnover rate of the vehicle fleet. VMT fees and/or increased fuel taxes are the only immediate way to achieve wholesale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Considering the state legislature has not increased the fuel tax since the early 1990s and it doesn’t even keep pace with inflation, we can almost forget that option. It looks like the effect of peak oil on the market is having an effect as it was always assumed the $4.00/gallon gasoline was required to have an impact on automobile travel behavior.

  8. But while we can do as much as possible at the local level, reduction in greenhouse gases really needs to come from the state or federal government in the form of greenhouse gas emissions standards, CAFÉ increases, or fuel taxes, but benefits from GHG and CAFÉ standards take a long time to realize because of the turnover rate of the vehicle fleet. VMT fees and/or increased fuel taxes are the only immediate way to achieve wholesale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Considering the state legislature has not increased the fuel tax since the early 1990s and it doesn’t even keep pace with inflation, we can almost forget that option. It looks like the effect of peak oil on the market is having an effect as it was always assumed the $4.00/gallon gasoline was required to have an impact on automobile travel behavior.

  9. One more comment, as I stated in my previous post, I am quite disheartened by the Davis community’s response to NEVs. Allow me to tell you a story. We have friends who recently purchased a used NEV (I actually found it for them). This is a young family of four who are symbolic of the value system I thought represented Davis. They are extremely socially and environmentally conscious. Really good people, friends, and neighbors. They even considered selling the one car they own to become an NEV-only household. But two events really left a bad taste in my mouth regarding our “progressive” city.

    One day, our friend took her two children in the NEV to a donut shop. When she returned, there was a note on her steering wheel saying “I pray for the safety of your children” or something very similar to that. This is a completely appalling thing to do to someone and very much upset our friend. She even considered selling her NEV because it affected her that much.

    Another day, I’m riding my bike back from the train station and I stop at the 5th & L Street intersection heading north on L. I pull behind a cyclist who I see is talking to a woman in a Honda Civic with a child seat in the back. My friend is with her children in the NEV in the left turn lane on 5th Street waiting to turn left on L. I see these two people looking at my friend and shaking their heads. As I overheard their conversation, they said things like “I can’t believe that, that is so unsafe!” and “Can you believe that?” My heart just sunk and I couldn’t bring myself to tell our friends about this occurrence. This woman felt superior to my friend not realizing that the risk she was putting her child in a Honda Civic at freeway speeds was likely greater than driving an NEV on local streets. Does anyone make these kinds of comments about families on bike trains sharing the streets with automobiles. I’m sure some somebody in a Suburban is saying the same thing about her. What exactly is so unsafe about driving an NEV? I’ll address that subject in a minute.

    These are merely two circumstances that I’m even aware of. Who knows how many other similar conversations passing judgement on NEV owners are occurring around town? It is a disappointing commentary on this “progressive” community. It sometimes makes me second-guess Davis’ identity.

    So, for the record, let’s talk about NEV safety. First, NEVS are limited to 25 mph. So if they hit something, it will likely be at very low speeds. Second, they are very visible. They look different from other vehicles and are easy to see. Our sight is drawn toward them sooner than other cars because they are so distinctive looking. Safety is all about visual awareness and NEVs excel here. Third, I don’t know if there has been a single collision between NEVs and automobiles in Davis. Granted, NEVs are not subject to crash safety standards like cars and often don’t have doors, or the doors they do have are not designed for side impact mitigation. But NEVs should not be compared to regular automobiles. They are a vehicle classified between a bicycle and an automobile and are limited to streets with speed limits of 35mph or less. There is no evidence that NEVs are unsafe and our community should be supporting these vehicles not justifying a superiority complex and automobile usage based on bogus “safety” claims. Fourth, in this town we don’t ostracize bicycles that also share the road with automobiles based on “safety”, so why NEVs?

  10. One more comment, as I stated in my previous post, I am quite disheartened by the Davis community’s response to NEVs. Allow me to tell you a story. We have friends who recently purchased a used NEV (I actually found it for them). This is a young family of four who are symbolic of the value system I thought represented Davis. They are extremely socially and environmentally conscious. Really good people, friends, and neighbors. They even considered selling the one car they own to become an NEV-only household. But two events really left a bad taste in my mouth regarding our “progressive” city.

    One day, our friend took her two children in the NEV to a donut shop. When she returned, there was a note on her steering wheel saying “I pray for the safety of your children” or something very similar to that. This is a completely appalling thing to do to someone and very much upset our friend. She even considered selling her NEV because it affected her that much.

    Another day, I’m riding my bike back from the train station and I stop at the 5th & L Street intersection heading north on L. I pull behind a cyclist who I see is talking to a woman in a Honda Civic with a child seat in the back. My friend is with her children in the NEV in the left turn lane on 5th Street waiting to turn left on L. I see these two people looking at my friend and shaking their heads. As I overheard their conversation, they said things like “I can’t believe that, that is so unsafe!” and “Can you believe that?” My heart just sunk and I couldn’t bring myself to tell our friends about this occurrence. This woman felt superior to my friend not realizing that the risk she was putting her child in a Honda Civic at freeway speeds was likely greater than driving an NEV on local streets. Does anyone make these kinds of comments about families on bike trains sharing the streets with automobiles. I’m sure some somebody in a Suburban is saying the same thing about her. What exactly is so unsafe about driving an NEV? I’ll address that subject in a minute.

    These are merely two circumstances that I’m even aware of. Who knows how many other similar conversations passing judgement on NEV owners are occurring around town? It is a disappointing commentary on this “progressive” community. It sometimes makes me second-guess Davis’ identity.

    So, for the record, let’s talk about NEV safety. First, NEVS are limited to 25 mph. So if they hit something, it will likely be at very low speeds. Second, they are very visible. They look different from other vehicles and are easy to see. Our sight is drawn toward them sooner than other cars because they are so distinctive looking. Safety is all about visual awareness and NEVs excel here. Third, I don’t know if there has been a single collision between NEVs and automobiles in Davis. Granted, NEVs are not subject to crash safety standards like cars and often don’t have doors, or the doors they do have are not designed for side impact mitigation. But NEVs should not be compared to regular automobiles. They are a vehicle classified between a bicycle and an automobile and are limited to streets with speed limits of 35mph or less. There is no evidence that NEVs are unsafe and our community should be supporting these vehicles not justifying a superiority complex and automobile usage based on bogus “safety” claims. Fourth, in this town we don’t ostracize bicycles that also share the road with automobiles based on “safety”, so why NEVs?

  11. One more comment, as I stated in my previous post, I am quite disheartened by the Davis community’s response to NEVs. Allow me to tell you a story. We have friends who recently purchased a used NEV (I actually found it for them). This is a young family of four who are symbolic of the value system I thought represented Davis. They are extremely socially and environmentally conscious. Really good people, friends, and neighbors. They even considered selling the one car they own to become an NEV-only household. But two events really left a bad taste in my mouth regarding our “progressive” city.

    One day, our friend took her two children in the NEV to a donut shop. When she returned, there was a note on her steering wheel saying “I pray for the safety of your children” or something very similar to that. This is a completely appalling thing to do to someone and very much upset our friend. She even considered selling her NEV because it affected her that much.

    Another day, I’m riding my bike back from the train station and I stop at the 5th & L Street intersection heading north on L. I pull behind a cyclist who I see is talking to a woman in a Honda Civic with a child seat in the back. My friend is with her children in the NEV in the left turn lane on 5th Street waiting to turn left on L. I see these two people looking at my friend and shaking their heads. As I overheard their conversation, they said things like “I can’t believe that, that is so unsafe!” and “Can you believe that?” My heart just sunk and I couldn’t bring myself to tell our friends about this occurrence. This woman felt superior to my friend not realizing that the risk she was putting her child in a Honda Civic at freeway speeds was likely greater than driving an NEV on local streets. Does anyone make these kinds of comments about families on bike trains sharing the streets with automobiles. I’m sure some somebody in a Suburban is saying the same thing about her. What exactly is so unsafe about driving an NEV? I’ll address that subject in a minute.

    These are merely two circumstances that I’m even aware of. Who knows how many other similar conversations passing judgement on NEV owners are occurring around town? It is a disappointing commentary on this “progressive” community. It sometimes makes me second-guess Davis’ identity.

    So, for the record, let’s talk about NEV safety. First, NEVS are limited to 25 mph. So if they hit something, it will likely be at very low speeds. Second, they are very visible. They look different from other vehicles and are easy to see. Our sight is drawn toward them sooner than other cars because they are so distinctive looking. Safety is all about visual awareness and NEVs excel here. Third, I don’t know if there has been a single collision between NEVs and automobiles in Davis. Granted, NEVs are not subject to crash safety standards like cars and often don’t have doors, or the doors they do have are not designed for side impact mitigation. But NEVs should not be compared to regular automobiles. They are a vehicle classified between a bicycle and an automobile and are limited to streets with speed limits of 35mph or less. There is no evidence that NEVs are unsafe and our community should be supporting these vehicles not justifying a superiority complex and automobile usage based on bogus “safety” claims. Fourth, in this town we don’t ostracize bicycles that also share the road with automobiles based on “safety”, so why NEVs?

  12. One more comment, as I stated in my previous post, I am quite disheartened by the Davis community’s response to NEVs. Allow me to tell you a story. We have friends who recently purchased a used NEV (I actually found it for them). This is a young family of four who are symbolic of the value system I thought represented Davis. They are extremely socially and environmentally conscious. Really good people, friends, and neighbors. They even considered selling the one car they own to become an NEV-only household. But two events really left a bad taste in my mouth regarding our “progressive” city.

    One day, our friend took her two children in the NEV to a donut shop. When she returned, there was a note on her steering wheel saying “I pray for the safety of your children” or something very similar to that. This is a completely appalling thing to do to someone and very much upset our friend. She even considered selling her NEV because it affected her that much.

    Another day, I’m riding my bike back from the train station and I stop at the 5th & L Street intersection heading north on L. I pull behind a cyclist who I see is talking to a woman in a Honda Civic with a child seat in the back. My friend is with her children in the NEV in the left turn lane on 5th Street waiting to turn left on L. I see these two people looking at my friend and shaking their heads. As I overheard their conversation, they said things like “I can’t believe that, that is so unsafe!” and “Can you believe that?” My heart just sunk and I couldn’t bring myself to tell our friends about this occurrence. This woman felt superior to my friend not realizing that the risk she was putting her child in a Honda Civic at freeway speeds was likely greater than driving an NEV on local streets. Does anyone make these kinds of comments about families on bike trains sharing the streets with automobiles. I’m sure some somebody in a Suburban is saying the same thing about her. What exactly is so unsafe about driving an NEV? I’ll address that subject in a minute.

    These are merely two circumstances that I’m even aware of. Who knows how many other similar conversations passing judgement on NEV owners are occurring around town? It is a disappointing commentary on this “progressive” community. It sometimes makes me second-guess Davis’ identity.

    So, for the record, let’s talk about NEV safety. First, NEVS are limited to 25 mph. So if they hit something, it will likely be at very low speeds. Second, they are very visible. They look different from other vehicles and are easy to see. Our sight is drawn toward them sooner than other cars because they are so distinctive looking. Safety is all about visual awareness and NEVs excel here. Third, I don’t know if there has been a single collision between NEVs and automobiles in Davis. Granted, NEVs are not subject to crash safety standards like cars and often don’t have doors, or the doors they do have are not designed for side impact mitigation. But NEVs should not be compared to regular automobiles. They are a vehicle classified between a bicycle and an automobile and are limited to streets with speed limits of 35mph or less. There is no evidence that NEVs are unsafe and our community should be supporting these vehicles not justifying a superiority complex and automobile usage based on bogus “safety” claims. Fourth, in this town we don’t ostracize bicycles that also share the road with automobiles based on “safety”, so why NEVs?

  13. Correction on my first post: I meant to say that it is a sad commentary that Lincoln has taken the lead *over Davis* on encouraging NEV use. This is very much a missed opportunity considering our street network layout, lack of 6-lane arterials, etc.

  14. Advertisement for a 2008 Council seat should read: VISION and commitment are prerequisites. Bureaurcrats, “bean counters” and self-annointed Davis “royalty” need not apply.

  15. Correction on my first post: I meant to say that it is a sad commentary that Lincoln has taken the lead *over Davis* on encouraging NEV use. This is very much a missed opportunity considering our street network layout, lack of 6-lane arterials, etc.

  16. Advertisement for a 2008 Council seat should read: VISION and commitment are prerequisites. Bureaurcrats, “bean counters” and self-annointed Davis “royalty” need not apply.

  17. Correction on my first post: I meant to say that it is a sad commentary that Lincoln has taken the lead *over Davis* on encouraging NEV use. This is very much a missed opportunity considering our street network layout, lack of 6-lane arterials, etc.

  18. Advertisement for a 2008 Council seat should read: VISION and commitment are prerequisites. Bureaurcrats, “bean counters” and self-annointed Davis “royalty” need not apply.

  19. Correction on my first post: I meant to say that it is a sad commentary that Lincoln has taken the lead *over Davis* on encouraging NEV use. This is very much a missed opportunity considering our street network layout, lack of 6-lane arterials, etc.

  20. Advertisement for a 2008 Council seat should read: VISION and commitment are prerequisites. Bureaurcrats, “bean counters” and self-annointed Davis “royalty” need not apply.

  21. Brian: you bring up a good point on the NEVs and that is something that the city can do something about. I would like to see incentives and tax breaks for individuals who use NEVs. And perhaps stronger laws will be necessary down the line.

  22. Brian: you bring up a good point on the NEVs and that is something that the city can do something about. I would like to see incentives and tax breaks for individuals who use NEVs. And perhaps stronger laws will be necessary down the line.

  23. Brian: you bring up a good point on the NEVs and that is something that the city can do something about. I would like to see incentives and tax breaks for individuals who use NEVs. And perhaps stronger laws will be necessary down the line.

  24. Brian: you bring up a good point on the NEVs and that is something that the city can do something about. I would like to see incentives and tax breaks for individuals who use NEVs. And perhaps stronger laws will be necessary down the line.