What measures would you take in order to contain city costs - please consider in your answer: employee compensation, city infrastructure including roads, city services including police and fire.
Davis has no financial buffer after the longest period of continuous economic growth in modern history. That is poor planning. Going forward, we need automatic smoothing mechanisms to prepare for recessionary periods. Here are the first four short-term steps I would have taken six months ago to ensure a balanced pandemic budget.
First, implement robust campaigns to incentivize local spending. A large portion of our community saw little change to their income. What did change were their habits. Had we immediately put funds towards creating outdoor spaces and promoting the survival of local establishments, Davisites would have formed different pandemic habits than they have now.
Second, levels of service should not decrease, but the delivery of these services can shift to more fiscally responsible options. For example, reporting crimes like bicycle theft should be done online with necessary accommodation available. Another example of excessive response would be the five police officers, EMS, and fire truck I witnessed respond to address a single person downtown.
Third, consultants go first. The city needs to better utilize our knowledgeable community members who are willing to offer their expertise.
Fourth, pause research projects. As a researcher, I understand the importance of gaining knowledge to inform decisions going forward. However, if we cannot find grants to fund these at this time, they may need to wait.
Long-term is a different story where much of the budget is tied up in pensions and benefits. The first three steps apply, but here are my other long-term suggestions.
This is just a start. Over the next year, I plan to go through each department's budget in great detail, speaking to the department head and at least 10% of the total employees in the department, and identify five suggestions from an outsider's perspective to increase efficiency. As an economist, efficiency is a passion.
Thank you, Mesara, for a fantastic conversation. You represent the incredible talent, intelligence, leadership, and work ethic of the young people in our community. I hope to be a part of your work to engage and empower young voters.
Each Friday we have a chance to see, in 250 words, how all nine candidates line up. Here's my week seven answer.
Various councilmembers have voiced support publicly for Black lives. However, data from the Davis Police Department shows that the Davis Police disproportionately stop Black people in particular. If elected to council, how would you address racial profiling or disproportionate policing?
I appreciate that councilmembers have voiced their support for the Black Lives Matter Movement. However, as with the Minneapolis City Council, we need to be asking, is this performative? Do these people place themselves at the forefront of public events to perform their alliance, but fail to use their power to affect actual change? Do they continue to approve the purchase of militarized equipment for the Davis Police? Does their privilege mean they are so far removed from the problems that they don’t feel the urgency?
When asked what I will bring to the council, my answer is action. I don’t show up for the photo op. I show up to find out what is needed, so we can begin implementation. I will create a department of public safety and allocate jobs that can be done by civilians to civilians to reduce the interactions of all citizens with police. I will create a Commission for Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity that will be composed solely of underrepresented individuals and push for minority overrepresentation on all commissions because when we exclude voices, we don’t end up with the best solutions. I am listening, learning, and ready to push forward.
Each Friday we have a chance to see, in 250 words, how all nine candidates line up. Here's my week six answer.
The city undertook the Davis Downtown Plan through a citizen-based commission. Discuss your thoughts on the plan - address issues like: (A) Form-based code, (B) densification, (C) Mixed-housing and residential housing in the downtown, (D) Parking and your overall thoughts on the plan going forward.
This should be done for the entire city in the form of an updated general plan. Davis needs to be forward looking, and our community is well equipped with engaged and knowledgeable citizens to make an appropriate plan.
Form-based code gives developers concrete direction of what Davis is looking for as well as making the process faster for allowable changes and new infill development and allowing for appropriate flexibility within acceptable specifications.
Densification is the most sustainable way for Davis to move forward. Specifically building more in underutilized spaces and areas near downtown and campus without historical significance. This means working with neighborhoods to decide what would fit in currently and moving forward.
Mixed use is an amazing use of space. Allowing people to live where they work and play provides businesses a built in customer base and makes living without a private vehicle increasingly possible.
We allocate almost one third of downtown to streets for free. Let’s reallocate some of this space to businesses and pedestrians. I prefer decreasing reliance on private vehicles overall to specifically pricing parking downtown. If parking is priced in the future, I disagree that these funds should be spent only on improvements within the downtown neighborhood. Pricing parking does not only impact downtown. Things like public transit and bike path infrastructure across town would be obvious complementary uses for funds raised from parking fees.
Davis cannot remain the same in an ever-changing world. Let’s plan for the future we want.
A short introduction with Autumn.
Check out the other candidates and measures on Davis Media Access' website.
Each Friday we have a chance to see, in 250 words, how all nine candidates line up. Here's my week five answer.
Everyone says they want affordable housing. But with the loss of Redevelopment funding, actually building it is difficult. If elected, how would you change the affordable housing ordinance and what policies would you pass to ensure that affordable housing can get financed and built at the level you advocate?
Things like affordable rent by the bed allows property owners to charge higher prices for a unit by increasing the occupancy of a two bedroom to four people for instance. This is unacceptable. The current affordable housing ordinance offers too much flexibility and opportunities for developers to get around providing units at affordable prices. Building market rate housing in Davis will make money. Period. Rents and housing appreciation are so high, and vacancy rates so low that we can and should ask more of developers and current development.
I would recommend a simplified affordable housing ordinance for rentals that includes the following or something similar.
I'm not the only young candidate for city council this year. I joined Connor and Dillan for a conversation hosted by the Davis Vanguard. Check it out!
The League of Women Voters Davis Area held fantastic forums over the weekend. Check out their City Council District 5 forum!
In case you missed it, the Davis Enterprise wrote a piece about my campaign.