On Apr. 15, the Davis Progressive Business Exchange (DPBE) hosted Mayor Dan Wolk at the International House to speak about the Renew Davis proposal.
Various business leaders from Davis and other nearby cities gathered to briefly introduce their businesses and to listen to Wolk.
Bob Bockwinkel, chair of the DPBE, explained that the DPBE has been around for 10 years and includes many different businesses. It consists of 30 to 40 different business and nonprofits, Bockwinkel said.
“We have members who are [from] different businesses [who] share information about their businesses and we also have public figures so that we know what’s going on in our community,” he said.
DPBE hosted Wolk at their weekly meeting because of strong interest in Davis politics and current events.
“We always want to be informed about what is going on in the rest of our community. We also know that we are very lucky to have a lot of people with a lot of expertise and that’s one of the reasons why Davis kind of stands out,” Bockwinkel said.
Wolk outlined the five main points of the Renew Davis Proposal at the meeting, which include furthering economic development; reinvesting in roads, parks, and pools; securing clean energy, promoting healthier families and creating a better partnership between businesses.
“There’s a lot of good happening right now in Davis,” Wolk said.
Wolk did not fail to point out what he believes are problem areas, however. The Sewer Treatment Plant, which is 40 years old, needs reinvestment, he said. He also spoke about the Surface Water Project, a project that will provide a more diverse water supply of 18 million gallons of surface water. The project is in development and has strong roots in Woodland. Wolk hopes that support for the water project will continue.
Several attendees expressed concern over the increasing cost of housing in Davis. In response to this issue, Wolk discussed The Cannery, which is 100 acres of land purchased by ConAgra that will provide space for hundreds of homes, businesses and parks.
“The Cannery has universally designed elements, is environmentally sustainable and [is] multi-generational,” Wolk said.
According to Wolk, Davis needs to do more, by not simply using what the forefathers of Davis built but by renovating it and growing it.
“We need to further economic development by building a University Farm for the 21st century to grow the University, ensure that technology coming from the UC is harnessed here…we need a place for these businesses to stay and not grow to a certain extent and then leave,” Wolk said. “It just helps in terms of providing jobs and it helps the city out.”
Wolk also touched upon the subject of roads, parks and pools.
“Our roads are in great disrepair and we need to spend millions just to maintain them,” Wolk said.
Referring to clean energy, Wolk expressed that Davis has done a lot in terms of its effort to protect the environment. Wolk referred to Community Choice Energy, which allows residents to continue using the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) as their main service provider but at the same time, allows more of their power to come from renewable sources such as solar panels.
“It’s important to recommit to [promoting clean energy],” Wolk said.
Wolk also spoke about healthy families, naming proposals such as getting rid of sodas in kids meals.
The last major point that Wolk elaborated on was “being better partners.” According to Wolk, Davis needs to create better relationships with schools such as UC Davis, and with other cities and counties.
“[Building these relationships] would benefit everyone,” Wolk said.
Jean Ye, a long-time resident of Davis and a retired UC Davis researcher said she wants to see Davis businesses flourish.
“I’m more interested in coming to this meeting as a parent because I have a college graduate and … I care about more business coming to Davis … I wish Davis would be a magnet to attract businesses because Davis has the best lifestyle,” Ye said.
Wolk said that he believes the five points are not all there is to the idea of Renew Davis.
“I think it’s important to recognize that within these five larger items are different things that I didn’t mention, environmental sustainability for example … But yes, those five I see as being the main things that I would like to focus on,” Wolk said.
The Renew Davis proposal has launched as far back as January of this year. The next step in the fulfillment of the Renew Davis initiative is to run the work through the city council, city staff and ultimately the community.
“There’ll be progress on a certain schedule; studies are being done, [and] are going to come back to council … later this year and we’ll presumably vote on what we want to do with them,” Wolk said.
After votes, there will be an evaluation of the revenue measure that will be ready in a month. Following the revenue measure, the budget will also return.
“Renew Davis is sort of multiple-faced; [each project has] kind of [its] own schedule,” Wolk said.
For residents who want to take part in the Renew Davis project, the first step is to get informed, Wolk elaborated.
“If you feel passionately about it, get involved in the actual election … it’s about renewing our commitment to Davis,” Wolk said.
Graphic by Jennifer Wu.