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Davis, California

Friday, April 19, 2024

Davis City Council votes to preserve Mace 391 farmland

On Nov. 19, the Davis City Council discussed the Mace 391 farmland. The property is located on the Westside of County Road 104, east of Mace Boulevard, north of Interstate 80.

Members of the council had to decide whether or not they should maintain the original preservation agreement for this land or if they should make all or part of the property a business park. The council decided to stick with the plan of placing a permanent conservation easement on the 391-acre Mace Curve/Leland Ranch property.

Mayor Joe Krovoza, a member of the City of Davis Council, believes preserving agricultural lands is a unique part of Davis.

“The big picture here is that the City of Davis has a fantastic tradition of taking themselves for something called Measure O and these funds are dedicated for the purchase of lands to make sure that agricultural lands remain in open space,” Krovoza said. “This has built up a multi-million dollar fund to preserve open space. We used these funds to help purchase the Mace property.”

The City Council meeting minutes from Nov. 19 state two of the pros in conserving the land: the land will maximize farmland protection and it will allow agricultural research fields in close proximity to potential innovation of business parks.

Different companies had approached the Davis City Council about opening a branch in Davis on this property.

Some of the cons are that conserving this land narrows potential uses of the property to only traditional agriculture, and that the property is spread out and poorly configured.

Emma Zent, a fourth-year English and history major, believes that the cons outweigh the pros. She appreciates that Davis values its farms, but believes development is needed.

“It would of been a better decision to develop it,” Zent said. “The Davis population is growing and we need to provide resources for that. I believe they are proposing to add 5,000 more students in the next five years, right now there are not enough resources for that. It is a difficult decision because the farmland in Davis is an important part of the heritage but at the same time it is a growing city and it needs a little more development than what it has right now.”

In the Nov. 19 meeting, the Davis City Council members discussed five different options as to how they could use the property. The five different options were: Finalize the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation easement, status quo — keep property as a city-owned asset, resell Mace 391 without NRCS conservation easement, use portion of Mace 391 for business park, and the last option was to use most of Mace 391 for business park.

Maureen Burns, a third-year economics major, believes that Davis already has an ample amount of farmland and should have perhaps gone with one of the last two options listed above.

“Well honestly, I think both plans have benefits as well as drawbacks,” Burns said. “But because Davis is already surrounded by so much farmland and is heavily agriculturally-based, there is no need for ‘preservation.’ I definitely think Davis could be developed more in other fields than agriculture, and I think Davis residents are lacking in some resources that other major college campuses have. So I don’t think the decision to conserve the Mace Farmland was the best use of the land around Davis.”

The California Agricultural Properties Inc. official document on the preservation of the Leland Ranch states, “The property will be sold with an Agricultural Conservation Easement in place that will be held by the City of Davis and the Yolo Land Trust. The easement will merge the three parcel and restrict the future urban development of the property.”

Ellana Piotter, a second-year international relations major, believes this preservation is necessary.

“Preservation for sure will be beneficial for Davis. I think Davis is an ag town not a tech town. It would be helpful to have it and expand but at the same time we have some of the best ag programs in the world so we should cater to providing opportunities in that field,” Piotter said.

Piotter also stated that she believes letting industries take Mace 391 would harm the Yolo Land Trust. The Yolo Land Trust is an organization that was founded in 1988. It seeks to conserve Yolo County’s numerous natural resources including Mace 391.

When asked what his stance on Mace 391 is, Krovoza explained why he thought the land should be preserved as open space.

“Davis has 400 acres around the city that is designated for business parks,” Krovoza said. “So we already have lands designated for development. My view was that we should develop those areas before we designate another huge piece of land for that.”

In order to preserve this land, the Davis City Council applied for and got a grant for $1.1 million from the federal government.


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