Commentary: Tearing Down our City’s Character

It took me a long time to realize why the vote on Third and B Street “Visioning” Project upset me so much. After all, there has been a long string of votes, most of them these days 3-2, that have upset me from this city council led by Stephen Souza, Don Saylor, and Ruth Asmundson. In fact, the only time I can remember prevailing on a contested vote was with the Anderson Bank Building, when Stephen Souza uncharacteristically switched sides. Other than that, it has been a loss after devastating loss. But this one really hurt in a way a lot of the others have not. This one as they say, was personal and unfortunately I’ve felt personal before from this council. But at least the last time it felt personal, I understand fully why it felt personal. This one was more elusive.

Then as I was driving past the neighborhood, I realized what was eating at me. This was my neighborhood. For many years, I spent more time in that neighborhood than I did where I actually lived. Everyday I would walk from either Central Park or Old North down to Third Street and from there to the Social Sciences and Humanities Building. I’d walk by Ciocolat, Navin’s, Roma, etc. I’d eat lunch at Rajas one of my favorite restaurants in Davis. I can see that journey in my head all the time, because I walked through it several times a day, almost everyday, for years.

And these days I talk to a lot of people and hear from a lot of people on various things in Davis. Honestly, I have not met a single person who does not have a financial stake in either the neighborhood or in the business community that supports this. I’ve even heard from people who do not follow Davis politics who start shaking their heads and asked a series of questions as to why the promoters would want to do this. Nobody gets this other than the council majority of Asmundson, Saylor and Souza, a few developers, and a few merchants. And I mean nobody.

This is a neighborhood that few live in, but most know and most like if not love. I think the comment made on the night of the council sticks with me most–why are we rewarding people for the failure to take care of their property? Because when you walk through the neighborhood you see some very nice old homes that have simply not been cared for. It’s not the students’ fault who reside in these homes. It is the fault of the absentee homeowners. And yet now they can go tear them down and rebuild and make a nice profit because the city council majority of Ruth Asmundson, Don Saylor and Stephen Souza wanted to “improve” the area.

There are lots of little things about this that bother me as well. Maria Ogrydziak is President of the DDBA and a property owner in the neighborhood. She was quoted in the Davis Enterprise as complaining that the 38 foot height restriction for her building was too restrictive.

Maria Ogrydziak said she would like to build either retail and offices or a townhouse project, depending on the zoning the council approves for her properties.

For her, the 38-foot height limit is restrictive, she said.

“With something like this, I think it’s important to be creative and when you’re so stringent about the height, you’re going to end up with that apartment building down the block from me,” she said. “It’s just like a pancake, one layer right on top of another, maxing out the height. If you want to have interesting roof lines, it completely disallows that, and it makes the parking very difficult to design underneath.”

Fortunately for Ms. Ogrydziak, her friends on the council specifically allowed her to build to 45 feet. And when some objected to the unseemliness of it, Asmundson was inclined to make all of them 45 feet in height.

How tall is 45 feet? 45 feet in comparable in height to the Chen Building. That’s how we want that neighborhood to look with a bunch of 45 feet buildings. If you want to know how that might look, walk up to G and Fifth and look at the Roe Building that is under construction and decide if that’s the vision that you have for Davis’ residential and historical neighborhoods.

It’s not my vision. I’ve grown tired of defending my Davis against this kind of encroachment. I’ve grown tired of people who want to completely remake the image and character of Davis. I believe most people in Davis would like to preserve that character. And frankly I have been tired of being accused of opposing all changes to Davis. I’m not. Give me something that I can support and I will, but this is not it. I think there are great things we can do in Davis and great changes that we can make while preserving the character of key places in Davis. But not here, and not this way. I think there are densifications even in this neighborhood I would support, but not three and four story condos, not tearing down these beautiful if falling apart bungalows.

One last point to make about the vote on Tuesday–the meeting went until 1:45 a.m. Now if you watched the meeting, you saw a series of questions from council to staff that really should not have been asked in public. I mean some of the questions asked were just baffling. And yet they went on and on for hours.

Now I point this out because Mayor Greenwald was not presiding over this meeting. Furthermore, Mayor Pro Tem Asmundson presided over this meeting. Asmundson complained a month or two ago that Mayor Greenwald did not know how to run a meeting, therefore that was the reason that the council meetings went so long. Well anyone who painfully stayed up and watched this council meeting will realize that Asmundson has no clue how to run a meeting or move it on. It was absurd. There has to be some kind of focus and some kind of structure to meetings, and this one just went on and on long past the time it should have stopped.

Unlike the meeting where Asmundson complained about Greenwald, this one was mostly on Asmundson. Because not only did she fail to take control of it, she contributed to its length by asking a series of questions that she should have asked staff in private. So should Councilmember Souza. Souza can at least be excused for asking questions that made no sense as he was suffering an allergic reaction to a wasp sting and was struggling along. Asmundson has no such excuse.

In all, it was a disappointing night and a very disappointing performance from council. The public got up and spoke and it was very clear that the council majority was paying little attention to them. They were too busy writing notes about what they were going to say in their concluding comments. If there is one thing that irritates me, it is when councilmembers have gone through a long process with the public and then they read their closing statements. Taking a note or two to remember points you want to raise is one thing, sitting and reading them is insulting to the public and it gives members of the public the impression that the elected official has no interest in public input. If you have your mind made up going in, at least fake it better.

—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:

Land Use/Open Space

68 comments

  1. Strange synchronicity:
    That the first response to Doug Paul Davis’s heartfelt response to what will be (hopefully NOT, somehow) architecturally speaking, the spamming of one of Davis’s few authentic neighborhoods should be…spam.
    –Brian Kenyon

  2. Strange synchronicity:
    That the first response to Doug Paul Davis’s heartfelt response to what will be (hopefully NOT, somehow) architecturally speaking, the spamming of one of Davis’s few authentic neighborhoods should be…spam.
    –Brian Kenyon

  3. Strange synchronicity:
    That the first response to Doug Paul Davis’s heartfelt response to what will be (hopefully NOT, somehow) architecturally speaking, the spamming of one of Davis’s few authentic neighborhoods should be…spam.
    –Brian Kenyon

  4. Strange synchronicity:
    That the first response to Doug Paul Davis’s heartfelt response to what will be (hopefully NOT, somehow) architecturally speaking, the spamming of one of Davis’s few authentic neighborhoods should be…spam.
    –Brian Kenyon

  5. This is a moment in time for Davis where one “puts up or shuts up”. How hard are YOU going to work to defeat Saylor and Souza in the 2008 Council election?

  6. This is a moment in time for Davis where one “puts up or shuts up”. How hard are YOU going to work to defeat Saylor and Souza in the 2008 Council election?

  7. This is a moment in time for Davis where one “puts up or shuts up”. How hard are YOU going to work to defeat Saylor and Souza in the 2008 Council election?

  8. This is a moment in time for Davis where one “puts up or shuts up”. How hard are YOU going to work to defeat Saylor and Souza in the 2008 Council election?

  9. “In fact, the only time I can remember prevailing on a contested vote was with the Anderson Bank Building, when Stephen Souza uncharacteristically switched sides.”

    I’m not unaware of the fact that there are two distinct factions on the council and so naturally, most of the time, all members of one faction will vote the same way on a contested issue. It’s no different in higher legislative bodies.

    That said, when it comes to historic preservation, it’s off-base to characterize Souza as “switching sides.” Stephen has been consistent in his time on the council in erring on the side of at least maintaining our merit and landmark resources. (As destructive as 3rd & B will be to the integrity of a mostly traditional neighborhood, it is very unlikely that any eligible resources will be demolished. And to my knowledge, Souza supported my idea of extending added protection to the WH Scott house.)

    By contrast, your good friend, the mayor, Sue Greenwald, has been more inconsistent. While she obviously would have voted with Lamar on 3rd & B, it’s unclear if that would have been motivated more by her personal concerns as a resident and property owner in that neighborhood or by broader concerns. The mayor has been the leader on the council for the destruction of the Hunt-Boyer tankhouse, for example. She seems to have no concern whatsoever that the mansion property was preserved as a living museum of Davis’s past and that the tankhouse is an integral part of that history.

    Much like Julie Partansky had a blind spot for some commercial developers who she was friends with, Sue seems to have a blind spot for projects being proposed by her friends, regardless of the damage they might do to the historical integrity of a city-owned resource.

    “I’d walk by Ciocolat, Navines, Roma, etc. I’d eat lunch at Rajas one of my favorite restaurants in Davis.”

    Navin’s, not Navines.

    “45 feet in comparable in height to the Chinn Building.”

    It’s the Chen Building.

    “If you want to know how that might look, walk up to G and Fifth and look at the Roe Building that is under construction and decide if that’s the vision that you have for Davis.”

    As you know, I lobbied for the lower heights in the 3rd & B project, due in large part out of concern for the University Avenue neighbors and the remaining historic resources. However, if you are saying the new townhouse project at 5th & G is too high, then I disagree. Tall buildings can be okay, as long as they don’t overwhelm the neighborhood they are in.

  10. “In fact, the only time I can remember prevailing on a contested vote was with the Anderson Bank Building, when Stephen Souza uncharacteristically switched sides.”

    I’m not unaware of the fact that there are two distinct factions on the council and so naturally, most of the time, all members of one faction will vote the same way on a contested issue. It’s no different in higher legislative bodies.

    That said, when it comes to historic preservation, it’s off-base to characterize Souza as “switching sides.” Stephen has been consistent in his time on the council in erring on the side of at least maintaining our merit and landmark resources. (As destructive as 3rd & B will be to the integrity of a mostly traditional neighborhood, it is very unlikely that any eligible resources will be demolished. And to my knowledge, Souza supported my idea of extending added protection to the WH Scott house.)

    By contrast, your good friend, the mayor, Sue Greenwald, has been more inconsistent. While she obviously would have voted with Lamar on 3rd & B, it’s unclear if that would have been motivated more by her personal concerns as a resident and property owner in that neighborhood or by broader concerns. The mayor has been the leader on the council for the destruction of the Hunt-Boyer tankhouse, for example. She seems to have no concern whatsoever that the mansion property was preserved as a living museum of Davis’s past and that the tankhouse is an integral part of that history.

    Much like Julie Partansky had a blind spot for some commercial developers who she was friends with, Sue seems to have a blind spot for projects being proposed by her friends, regardless of the damage they might do to the historical integrity of a city-owned resource.

    “I’d walk by Ciocolat, Navines, Roma, etc. I’d eat lunch at Rajas one of my favorite restaurants in Davis.”

    Navin’s, not Navines.

    “45 feet in comparable in height to the Chinn Building.”

    It’s the Chen Building.

    “If you want to know how that might look, walk up to G and Fifth and look at the Roe Building that is under construction and decide if that’s the vision that you have for Davis.”

    As you know, I lobbied for the lower heights in the 3rd & B project, due in large part out of concern for the University Avenue neighbors and the remaining historic resources. However, if you are saying the new townhouse project at 5th & G is too high, then I disagree. Tall buildings can be okay, as long as they don’t overwhelm the neighborhood they are in.

  11. “In fact, the only time I can remember prevailing on a contested vote was with the Anderson Bank Building, when Stephen Souza uncharacteristically switched sides.”

    I’m not unaware of the fact that there are two distinct factions on the council and so naturally, most of the time, all members of one faction will vote the same way on a contested issue. It’s no different in higher legislative bodies.

    That said, when it comes to historic preservation, it’s off-base to characterize Souza as “switching sides.” Stephen has been consistent in his time on the council in erring on the side of at least maintaining our merit and landmark resources. (As destructive as 3rd & B will be to the integrity of a mostly traditional neighborhood, it is very unlikely that any eligible resources will be demolished. And to my knowledge, Souza supported my idea of extending added protection to the WH Scott house.)

    By contrast, your good friend, the mayor, Sue Greenwald, has been more inconsistent. While she obviously would have voted with Lamar on 3rd & B, it’s unclear if that would have been motivated more by her personal concerns as a resident and property owner in that neighborhood or by broader concerns. The mayor has been the leader on the council for the destruction of the Hunt-Boyer tankhouse, for example. She seems to have no concern whatsoever that the mansion property was preserved as a living museum of Davis’s past and that the tankhouse is an integral part of that history.

    Much like Julie Partansky had a blind spot for some commercial developers who she was friends with, Sue seems to have a blind spot for projects being proposed by her friends, regardless of the damage they might do to the historical integrity of a city-owned resource.

    “I’d walk by Ciocolat, Navines, Roma, etc. I’d eat lunch at Rajas one of my favorite restaurants in Davis.”

    Navin’s, not Navines.

    “45 feet in comparable in height to the Chinn Building.”

    It’s the Chen Building.

    “If you want to know how that might look, walk up to G and Fifth and look at the Roe Building that is under construction and decide if that’s the vision that you have for Davis.”

    As you know, I lobbied for the lower heights in the 3rd & B project, due in large part out of concern for the University Avenue neighbors and the remaining historic resources. However, if you are saying the new townhouse project at 5th & G is too high, then I disagree. Tall buildings can be okay, as long as they don’t overwhelm the neighborhood they are in.

  12. “In fact, the only time I can remember prevailing on a contested vote was with the Anderson Bank Building, when Stephen Souza uncharacteristically switched sides.”

    I’m not unaware of the fact that there are two distinct factions on the council and so naturally, most of the time, all members of one faction will vote the same way on a contested issue. It’s no different in higher legislative bodies.

    That said, when it comes to historic preservation, it’s off-base to characterize Souza as “switching sides.” Stephen has been consistent in his time on the council in erring on the side of at least maintaining our merit and landmark resources. (As destructive as 3rd & B will be to the integrity of a mostly traditional neighborhood, it is very unlikely that any eligible resources will be demolished. And to my knowledge, Souza supported my idea of extending added protection to the WH Scott house.)

    By contrast, your good friend, the mayor, Sue Greenwald, has been more inconsistent. While she obviously would have voted with Lamar on 3rd & B, it’s unclear if that would have been motivated more by her personal concerns as a resident and property owner in that neighborhood or by broader concerns. The mayor has been the leader on the council for the destruction of the Hunt-Boyer tankhouse, for example. She seems to have no concern whatsoever that the mansion property was preserved as a living museum of Davis’s past and that the tankhouse is an integral part of that history.

    Much like Julie Partansky had a blind spot for some commercial developers who she was friends with, Sue seems to have a blind spot for projects being proposed by her friends, regardless of the damage they might do to the historical integrity of a city-owned resource.

    “I’d walk by Ciocolat, Navines, Roma, etc. I’d eat lunch at Rajas one of my favorite restaurants in Davis.”

    Navin’s, not Navines.

    “45 feet in comparable in height to the Chinn Building.”

    It’s the Chen Building.

    “If you want to know how that might look, walk up to G and Fifth and look at the Roe Building that is under construction and decide if that’s the vision that you have for Davis.”

    As you know, I lobbied for the lower heights in the 3rd & B project, due in large part out of concern for the University Avenue neighbors and the remaining historic resources. However, if you are saying the new townhouse project at 5th & G is too high, then I disagree. Tall buildings can be okay, as long as they don’t overwhelm the neighborhood they are in.

  13. Davisite,

    I support your challenge “to work to defeat Saylor and Souza in the 2008.” I worked to elect Heystek and Forbes in the 2006 election. The election loss of Stan Forbes to the council was truly unfortunate and has allowed the “gang of three” formerly the “gang of four” to continue their desecration of our community. Today’s commentary offers more evidence of the council majority’s lack of imagination and reverence for preserving the historic and cultural history of our community.

  14. Davisite,

    I support your challenge “to work to defeat Saylor and Souza in the 2008.” I worked to elect Heystek and Forbes in the 2006 election. The election loss of Stan Forbes to the council was truly unfortunate and has allowed the “gang of three” formerly the “gang of four” to continue their desecration of our community. Today’s commentary offers more evidence of the council majority’s lack of imagination and reverence for preserving the historic and cultural history of our community.

  15. Davisite,

    I support your challenge “to work to defeat Saylor and Souza in the 2008.” I worked to elect Heystek and Forbes in the 2006 election. The election loss of Stan Forbes to the council was truly unfortunate and has allowed the “gang of three” formerly the “gang of four” to continue their desecration of our community. Today’s commentary offers more evidence of the council majority’s lack of imagination and reverence for preserving the historic and cultural history of our community.

  16. Davisite,

    I support your challenge “to work to defeat Saylor and Souza in the 2008.” I worked to elect Heystek and Forbes in the 2006 election. The election loss of Stan Forbes to the council was truly unfortunate and has allowed the “gang of three” formerly the “gang of four” to continue their desecration of our community. Today’s commentary offers more evidence of the council majority’s lack of imagination and reverence for preserving the historic and cultural history of our community.

  17. Re: the length of the meeting and council question to staff.

    What really should have been done is to have two council meetings. The issues were very complicated: what was being done there was crafting significant changes to the documents that govern development in the core area, including the General Plan, the Core Area Specific Plan and the Downtown Conservation District Guidelines. These are laws being changed, and if you tweek one part carelessly you get a mess with unintended consequences or contradictions that get the City sued.

    The Planning Commission hearing went on almost until midnight to respond to public input. It took the Historic Commission two meetings that ran to 11:45 to get the job of done, and they didn’t even try to deal with all aspects of it that were peripheral to their purview, like traffic.

    Then the 200 page Staff Report for the Council hearing that told people what staff finally recommended be done with the recommendations of the Planning and Historic Commissions was issued late Friday. People – including the Council – had until Tuesday evening to figure out what happened and what else needed to be done with a whole lot of complicated issues.

    Most of the questions that council members asked were the result of meetings the individual council members had between Friday & Tuesday with neighbors, neighborhood associations and concerned citizens and in reaction to communications from the public and the recommendations of the Planning Commission and Historic Commission.

    The public gets to speak at a hearing, but they don’t get to question staff or the council. You have to get a Council member to do that for you, and then if the language of the document needs a change, they have to work with staff and the city attorney to get the language right.

    Everything that went on in the Council hearing is part of the public record of the EIR. It needed to be done in public and on the record in case there is a challenge to the EIR and so that the public knew what the heck happened.

    The questions, particularly those from Souza and Heystek, to staff were to thrash out some compromises to meet the concerns of the neighborhoods and the public. The language had to be worked out and it needed to be right and it needed to be done in public and on the record. That’s how democracy and “open meetings” work.

    Too much stuff in private between staff and council goes on already. That’s how we got a full-blown “deal” for a Target before the public knew what was going on. That’s why there’s a proposal to tear down the tank house, part of a historic property that’s listed on the the National Register, and build a private 3 story office building on public property between two publicly owned Landmarks. It was all worked out it private before even the Historic Commission was consulted about it, and the first most people heard about it or got a chance to say hey this is a lousy idea was at the Council meeting where the proposal was accepted and the exclusive negotiating agreement with the developer was signed onto.

    Sure, the Commissions and the Council could just rubber stamp the staff recommendations and everybody could go home and get a nice night’s sleep and then gripe about what happened for the next ten years.

    I don’t like 2am hearings any better than the next person, but if that’s what it takes in this town to to get the public’s business conducted in public, so be it.

  18. Re: the length of the meeting and council question to staff.

    What really should have been done is to have two council meetings. The issues were very complicated: what was being done there was crafting significant changes to the documents that govern development in the core area, including the General Plan, the Core Area Specific Plan and the Downtown Conservation District Guidelines. These are laws being changed, and if you tweek one part carelessly you get a mess with unintended consequences or contradictions that get the City sued.

    The Planning Commission hearing went on almost until midnight to respond to public input. It took the Historic Commission two meetings that ran to 11:45 to get the job of done, and they didn’t even try to deal with all aspects of it that were peripheral to their purview, like traffic.

    Then the 200 page Staff Report for the Council hearing that told people what staff finally recommended be done with the recommendations of the Planning and Historic Commissions was issued late Friday. People – including the Council – had until Tuesday evening to figure out what happened and what else needed to be done with a whole lot of complicated issues.

    Most of the questions that council members asked were the result of meetings the individual council members had between Friday & Tuesday with neighbors, neighborhood associations and concerned citizens and in reaction to communications from the public and the recommendations of the Planning Commission and Historic Commission.

    The public gets to speak at a hearing, but they don’t get to question staff or the council. You have to get a Council member to do that for you, and then if the language of the document needs a change, they have to work with staff and the city attorney to get the language right.

    Everything that went on in the Council hearing is part of the public record of the EIR. It needed to be done in public and on the record in case there is a challenge to the EIR and so that the public knew what the heck happened.

    The questions, particularly those from Souza and Heystek, to staff were to thrash out some compromises to meet the concerns of the neighborhoods and the public. The language had to be worked out and it needed to be right and it needed to be done in public and on the record. That’s how democracy and “open meetings” work.

    Too much stuff in private between staff and council goes on already. That’s how we got a full-blown “deal” for a Target before the public knew what was going on. That’s why there’s a proposal to tear down the tank house, part of a historic property that’s listed on the the National Register, and build a private 3 story office building on public property between two publicly owned Landmarks. It was all worked out it private before even the Historic Commission was consulted about it, and the first most people heard about it or got a chance to say hey this is a lousy idea was at the Council meeting where the proposal was accepted and the exclusive negotiating agreement with the developer was signed onto.

    Sure, the Commissions and the Council could just rubber stamp the staff recommendations and everybody could go home and get a nice night’s sleep and then gripe about what happened for the next ten years.

    I don’t like 2am hearings any better than the next person, but if that’s what it takes in this town to to get the public’s business conducted in public, so be it.

  19. Re: the length of the meeting and council question to staff.

    What really should have been done is to have two council meetings. The issues were very complicated: what was being done there was crafting significant changes to the documents that govern development in the core area, including the General Plan, the Core Area Specific Plan and the Downtown Conservation District Guidelines. These are laws being changed, and if you tweek one part carelessly you get a mess with unintended consequences or contradictions that get the City sued.

    The Planning Commission hearing went on almost until midnight to respond to public input. It took the Historic Commission two meetings that ran to 11:45 to get the job of done, and they didn’t even try to deal with all aspects of it that were peripheral to their purview, like traffic.

    Then the 200 page Staff Report for the Council hearing that told people what staff finally recommended be done with the recommendations of the Planning and Historic Commissions was issued late Friday. People – including the Council – had until Tuesday evening to figure out what happened and what else needed to be done with a whole lot of complicated issues.

    Most of the questions that council members asked were the result of meetings the individual council members had between Friday & Tuesday with neighbors, neighborhood associations and concerned citizens and in reaction to communications from the public and the recommendations of the Planning Commission and Historic Commission.

    The public gets to speak at a hearing, but they don’t get to question staff or the council. You have to get a Council member to do that for you, and then if the language of the document needs a change, they have to work with staff and the city attorney to get the language right.

    Everything that went on in the Council hearing is part of the public record of the EIR. It needed to be done in public and on the record in case there is a challenge to the EIR and so that the public knew what the heck happened.

    The questions, particularly those from Souza and Heystek, to staff were to thrash out some compromises to meet the concerns of the neighborhoods and the public. The language had to be worked out and it needed to be right and it needed to be done in public and on the record. That’s how democracy and “open meetings” work.

    Too much stuff in private between staff and council goes on already. That’s how we got a full-blown “deal” for a Target before the public knew what was going on. That’s why there’s a proposal to tear down the tank house, part of a historic property that’s listed on the the National Register, and build a private 3 story office building on public property between two publicly owned Landmarks. It was all worked out it private before even the Historic Commission was consulted about it, and the first most people heard about it or got a chance to say hey this is a lousy idea was at the Council meeting where the proposal was accepted and the exclusive negotiating agreement with the developer was signed onto.

    Sure, the Commissions and the Council could just rubber stamp the staff recommendations and everybody could go home and get a nice night’s sleep and then gripe about what happened for the next ten years.

    I don’t like 2am hearings any better than the next person, but if that’s what it takes in this town to to get the public’s business conducted in public, so be it.

  20. Re: the length of the meeting and council question to staff.

    What really should have been done is to have two council meetings. The issues were very complicated: what was being done there was crafting significant changes to the documents that govern development in the core area, including the General Plan, the Core Area Specific Plan and the Downtown Conservation District Guidelines. These are laws being changed, and if you tweek one part carelessly you get a mess with unintended consequences or contradictions that get the City sued.

    The Planning Commission hearing went on almost until midnight to respond to public input. It took the Historic Commission two meetings that ran to 11:45 to get the job of done, and they didn’t even try to deal with all aspects of it that were peripheral to their purview, like traffic.

    Then the 200 page Staff Report for the Council hearing that told people what staff finally recommended be done with the recommendations of the Planning and Historic Commissions was issued late Friday. People – including the Council – had until Tuesday evening to figure out what happened and what else needed to be done with a whole lot of complicated issues.

    Most of the questions that council members asked were the result of meetings the individual council members had between Friday & Tuesday with neighbors, neighborhood associations and concerned citizens and in reaction to communications from the public and the recommendations of the Planning Commission and Historic Commission.

    The public gets to speak at a hearing, but they don’t get to question staff or the council. You have to get a Council member to do that for you, and then if the language of the document needs a change, they have to work with staff and the city attorney to get the language right.

    Everything that went on in the Council hearing is part of the public record of the EIR. It needed to be done in public and on the record in case there is a challenge to the EIR and so that the public knew what the heck happened.

    The questions, particularly those from Souza and Heystek, to staff were to thrash out some compromises to meet the concerns of the neighborhoods and the public. The language had to be worked out and it needed to be right and it needed to be done in public and on the record. That’s how democracy and “open meetings” work.

    Too much stuff in private between staff and council goes on already. That’s how we got a full-blown “deal” for a Target before the public knew what was going on. That’s why there’s a proposal to tear down the tank house, part of a historic property that’s listed on the the National Register, and build a private 3 story office building on public property between two publicly owned Landmarks. It was all worked out it private before even the Historic Commission was consulted about it, and the first most people heard about it or got a chance to say hey this is a lousy idea was at the Council meeting where the proposal was accepted and the exclusive negotiating agreement with the developer was signed onto.

    Sure, the Commissions and the Council could just rubber stamp the staff recommendations and everybody could go home and get a nice night’s sleep and then gripe about what happened for the next ten years.

    I don’t like 2am hearings any better than the next person, but if that’s what it takes in this town to to get the public’s business conducted in public, so be it.

  21. “She seems to have no concern whatsoever that the mansion property was preserved as a living museum of Davis’s past and that the tankhouse is an integral part of that history.”
    I was under the impression that one option was to move it to the other side of the mansion.

  22. “She seems to have no concern whatsoever that the mansion property was preserved as a living museum of Davis’s past and that the tankhouse is an integral part of that history.”
    I was under the impression that one option was to move it to the other side of the mansion.

  23. “She seems to have no concern whatsoever that the mansion property was preserved as a living museum of Davis’s past and that the tankhouse is an integral part of that history.”
    I was under the impression that one option was to move it to the other side of the mansion.

  24. “She seems to have no concern whatsoever that the mansion property was preserved as a living museum of Davis’s past and that the tankhouse is an integral part of that history.”
    I was under the impression that one option was to move it to the other side of the mansion.

  25. I was one of the “lucky” concerned neighbors who was given a meeting with Souza. I was able to tolerate the first few minutes of the discussion, but it became patently clear that only “some” of the citizens of Davis were worth listening to, and others should just be patronized and lied to. He told us whoppers that, we later found out, were not factual. For example, he told us that the parking structure planned for 3rd and E Street was a done deal, the funding and buy-in from adjacent properties had already been taken care of, and that construction was about to get underway. He implied that we were just silly for being concerned about parking. At the actual Council meeting, we found out that that wasn’t true at all. He told us that there was sufficient redevelopment money to relocate many of the historic homes to the “historic home museum” that the City has so graciously purchased to plop what Souza considers to be worth saving (at the projected cost to the City of $15,000 each). I wanted to ask him why the City’s redevelopment monies should go to subsidize developers to make bucket-loads of money, but I didn’t think I was going to get an honest answer. When asked whether he was qualified to determine what structures were worth saving, he stated that he knew what structures he liked on B Street. At that point, I couldn’t handle any more and I was just sick of being patronized. Perhaps if I had come with a bag of money, the discussion would have had a more genuine tone, but as it was, I was just someone who owns property so close to the “vision”, that I felt threatened, hence the “nothing to see here, just run along” treatment. My parting words to Mr. Souza were that I was going to work as hard as I could to see that he did not get re-elected.

  26. I was one of the “lucky” concerned neighbors who was given a meeting with Souza. I was able to tolerate the first few minutes of the discussion, but it became patently clear that only “some” of the citizens of Davis were worth listening to, and others should just be patronized and lied to. He told us whoppers that, we later found out, were not factual. For example, he told us that the parking structure planned for 3rd and E Street was a done deal, the funding and buy-in from adjacent properties had already been taken care of, and that construction was about to get underway. He implied that we were just silly for being concerned about parking. At the actual Council meeting, we found out that that wasn’t true at all. He told us that there was sufficient redevelopment money to relocate many of the historic homes to the “historic home museum” that the City has so graciously purchased to plop what Souza considers to be worth saving (at the projected cost to the City of $15,000 each). I wanted to ask him why the City’s redevelopment monies should go to subsidize developers to make bucket-loads of money, but I didn’t think I was going to get an honest answer. When asked whether he was qualified to determine what structures were worth saving, he stated that he knew what structures he liked on B Street. At that point, I couldn’t handle any more and I was just sick of being patronized. Perhaps if I had come with a bag of money, the discussion would have had a more genuine tone, but as it was, I was just someone who owns property so close to the “vision”, that I felt threatened, hence the “nothing to see here, just run along” treatment. My parting words to Mr. Souza were that I was going to work as hard as I could to see that he did not get re-elected.

  27. I was one of the “lucky” concerned neighbors who was given a meeting with Souza. I was able to tolerate the first few minutes of the discussion, but it became patently clear that only “some” of the citizens of Davis were worth listening to, and others should just be patronized and lied to. He told us whoppers that, we later found out, were not factual. For example, he told us that the parking structure planned for 3rd and E Street was a done deal, the funding and buy-in from adjacent properties had already been taken care of, and that construction was about to get underway. He implied that we were just silly for being concerned about parking. At the actual Council meeting, we found out that that wasn’t true at all. He told us that there was sufficient redevelopment money to relocate many of the historic homes to the “historic home museum” that the City has so graciously purchased to plop what Souza considers to be worth saving (at the projected cost to the City of $15,000 each). I wanted to ask him why the City’s redevelopment monies should go to subsidize developers to make bucket-loads of money, but I didn’t think I was going to get an honest answer. When asked whether he was qualified to determine what structures were worth saving, he stated that he knew what structures he liked on B Street. At that point, I couldn’t handle any more and I was just sick of being patronized. Perhaps if I had come with a bag of money, the discussion would have had a more genuine tone, but as it was, I was just someone who owns property so close to the “vision”, that I felt threatened, hence the “nothing to see here, just run along” treatment. My parting words to Mr. Souza were that I was going to work as hard as I could to see that he did not get re-elected.

  28. I was one of the “lucky” concerned neighbors who was given a meeting with Souza. I was able to tolerate the first few minutes of the discussion, but it became patently clear that only “some” of the citizens of Davis were worth listening to, and others should just be patronized and lied to. He told us whoppers that, we later found out, were not factual. For example, he told us that the parking structure planned for 3rd and E Street was a done deal, the funding and buy-in from adjacent properties had already been taken care of, and that construction was about to get underway. He implied that we were just silly for being concerned about parking. At the actual Council meeting, we found out that that wasn’t true at all. He told us that there was sufficient redevelopment money to relocate many of the historic homes to the “historic home museum” that the City has so graciously purchased to plop what Souza considers to be worth saving (at the projected cost to the City of $15,000 each). I wanted to ask him why the City’s redevelopment monies should go to subsidize developers to make bucket-loads of money, but I didn’t think I was going to get an honest answer. When asked whether he was qualified to determine what structures were worth saving, he stated that he knew what structures he liked on B Street. At that point, I couldn’t handle any more and I was just sick of being patronized. Perhaps if I had come with a bag of money, the discussion would have had a more genuine tone, but as it was, I was just someone who owns property so close to the “vision”, that I felt threatened, hence the “nothing to see here, just run along” treatment. My parting words to Mr. Souza were that I was going to work as hard as I could to see that he did not get re-elected.

  29. when was the last time Rifkin
    was in the neighborhood in
    question?

    “Navin’s, not Navines.”
    was changed by owners to
    “Davis Copy Shop” months ago.

    “However, if you are saying the new townhouse project at 5th & G is too high, then I disagree. Tall buildings can be okay, as long as they don’t overwhelm the neighborhood they are in.”

    The idea here, if a gentle reader takes the time to consider ramifications, is that the sheer height of this structure could well set a precedent for out-of-scale structures in other neighborhoods, now that the pressure is on since Measure J put the kibosh on money-making developments on land adjacent to Davis outskirts.
    –Brian Kenyon

  30. when was the last time Rifkin
    was in the neighborhood in
    question?

    “Navin’s, not Navines.”
    was changed by owners to
    “Davis Copy Shop” months ago.

    “However, if you are saying the new townhouse project at 5th & G is too high, then I disagree. Tall buildings can be okay, as long as they don’t overwhelm the neighborhood they are in.”

    The idea here, if a gentle reader takes the time to consider ramifications, is that the sheer height of this structure could well set a precedent for out-of-scale structures in other neighborhoods, now that the pressure is on since Measure J put the kibosh on money-making developments on land adjacent to Davis outskirts.
    –Brian Kenyon

  31. when was the last time Rifkin
    was in the neighborhood in
    question?

    “Navin’s, not Navines.”
    was changed by owners to
    “Davis Copy Shop” months ago.

    “However, if you are saying the new townhouse project at 5th & G is too high, then I disagree. Tall buildings can be okay, as long as they don’t overwhelm the neighborhood they are in.”

    The idea here, if a gentle reader takes the time to consider ramifications, is that the sheer height of this structure could well set a precedent for out-of-scale structures in other neighborhoods, now that the pressure is on since Measure J put the kibosh on money-making developments on land adjacent to Davis outskirts.
    –Brian Kenyon

  32. when was the last time Rifkin
    was in the neighborhood in
    question?

    “Navin’s, not Navines.”
    was changed by owners to
    “Davis Copy Shop” months ago.

    “However, if you are saying the new townhouse project at 5th & G is too high, then I disagree. Tall buildings can be okay, as long as they don’t overwhelm the neighborhood they are in.”

    The idea here, if a gentle reader takes the time to consider ramifications, is that the sheer height of this structure could well set a precedent for out-of-scale structures in other neighborhoods, now that the pressure is on since Measure J put the kibosh on money-making developments on land adjacent to Davis outskirts.
    –Brian Kenyon

  33. Actually, the 4th & E Parking structure has little relevancy to the B St Parking problem, it’s too far away for either residents, their guests or patrons of the project area to use. People won’t walk that far or pay to park if they can park for free.

    However, here’s an item from the Council “Long Range Calendar”:

    Tuesday, July 17, 2007
    Downtown Mixed Use Parking Structure – Exclusive Negotiating Agreement

    As for who’s supposed to handle moving the historic houses, the mitigation measures & mitgation monitoring plan approved by the Council when it approved the “project” Tuesday stipulate that carrying out the mitigation (relocating the structure) is the responsibility of the owner/developer.

    On “tall buildings” like the Roe & McCormick Bldgs: if we have to have that kind of infill, the commercial core is where we want them, as long as they’re not right next to a historic landmark ruining its setting. But B Street isn’t the commercial core, it’s the edge of one of the 3 traditional (i.e. historic neighborhoods) that the “Conservation District) and design guidelines were supposed to protect.

    And isn’t it interesting that if we’re stuck with a Target, we’re going to get the classic one story big box with a huge parking lot, total lack of originiality. Why not a multi-story really dense development, 2nd & 3rd story residential, with parking garage, pedestrian friendly commercial fronting on the street with good public transit facilities including frequent shuttles to downtown & the university? Other places have done that kind of densification & infill.