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Davis, California

Friday, April 12, 2024

City of Davis strives to protect open space

Northstar Park, located north of Covell Blvd. in Davis. (KATE SNOWDON / AGGIE)
Northstar Park, located north of Covell Blvd. in Davis. (KATE SNOWDON / AGGIE)

City staff to host workshop, creates survey to collect feedback from residents

The City of Davis and the Open Space and Habitat Commission (OSHC) are engaging in an outreach effort to collect ideas and recommendations from Davis residents about the city’s Open Space Program.

As part of the project, the city will host a public forum from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on March 9 in the Davis Senior Center’s multipurpose room, located at 646 A St. The city has also developed an online survey to gather feedback from the public about the Open Space Program.

The survey is designed to collect feedback about Davis’ open space areas and how they should be improved in the future. City staff will use the results from the workshop to make recommendations to the Davis City Council for updating the city’s Open Space Acquisition and Management Plan.

During the three-hour workshop, city staff and members of the OSHC plan to educate Davis residents about Measure O and what has been done with the funds of the voter approved parcel tax during the 15 years it has been in place.

“Open space is natural land that is preserved or protected and won’t be developed,” said Tracie Reynolds, property management coordinator for the City of Davis.

In this case, open space does not refer to parks throughout the city, but is more focused on farmlands and wildlife habitats.

At the meeting, citizens will be given the opportunity to discuss how they would like tax revenue reserved for open space to be spent for the next 15 years.

Reynolds explains that a lot of the open space areas that Davis residents have access to are maintained using city funds. The city has responded by offering financial support to acquire, protect, and maintain the lands.

The city created it’s official Open Space Program in 1990 in an effort to protect agricultural lands and other open spaces around the Davis community.

The city passed Measure O in 2000 to fund acquisition and maintenance of open space. According to the City of Davis, thanks to the funds, the city has protected more than 2,800 acres of farmland and habitat areas within the Davis Planning Area. Additionally, the city purchased about $22 million worth of conservation easements which allow the city to keep the land in its natural form and prevent development.

“Before the passage of Measure O, the Open Space Protection Tax Fund, the city relied on sporadic and unreliable funding sources to acquire and preserve open space,” according to the staff report presented to the City Council last month.

The voter approved parcel tax received more than 70 percent of the vote and has served as a stable source of long-term funding for the acquisition and conservation of open space lands.

“Having open space is extremely important, not only is it associated with better general health, but green spaces with trees also help the environment,” Davis resident Mason Jones said.

Research by Deakin University suggests that parks and nature contribute to increased physical, mental and spiritual health, in addition to enhancing social relationships and improving the environment.

Davis residents have the ability to vote on taxes that will fund the expansion of open space lands. Additionally, they can approve new projects that build agricultural land. These rights are given to Davis residents through Measure O and Measure R.

Reynolds adds that residents greatly contribute to the support for protecting open space in Davis. Michael Rios, associate professor of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Design at UC Davis, explains that the benefits of open space are vast and vary in each case.

“Creating open space preservation can be used as a tool to basically preclude any type of growth,” Rios said. “There are multiple benefits; it just truly depends on their type, scale and what purposes they’re being used for.”

Written By: CARLA ARANGOcity@theaggie.org


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