Sunday, April 26, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Refusal of grant funding may jeopardize future conservation efforts

By
From page A1 | November 17, 2013 |

Before the Davis City Council decides Tuesday whether to stick to the plan of placing a permanent conservation easement on the 391-acre Mace Curve/Leland Ranch property, it must weigh the potential impacts to the Yolo Land Trust.

And as the city learned last week, if the council walks away from the grant funding for the easement so that it can explore opportunities for a business park on the farmland, the impacts to the trust, which helped secure those dollars, could be substantial.

In a letter addressed to the city, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the state agency responsible for allocating such conservation money in California, says turning down the grant would hurt the land trust’s ability to secure funding in the future.

“Of greatest consequence to the city and Yolo Land Trust is how the return of grant funding affects each entity’s ‘closing efficiency,’ ” wrote Carlos Suarez, state conservationist for the NRCS, in a letter received by the city Tuesday.

“(Closing efficiency is) important for our conservation partners to remain competitive on future easement applications.”

Learn more

What: Davis City Council meeting

When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Community Chambers at City Hall, 23 Russell Blvd.

Watch it: Comcast Channel 16, AT&T U-Verse Channel 99 and the city’s website at www.cityofdavis.org/media

Regular agenda items of note:

* Final decision by the council on The Cannery project, a 547-unit housing development proposed for 100 acres of vacant industrial land in North Davis

Labor negotiations update: City staff recommends imposing last, best and final offer on Davis City Employees Association

* Decision on Mace curve conservation easement grant

Grant funding applicants, Suarez says, are ranked based on a criteria set forth by the NRCS, and closing efficiency sits high on that list.

Naturally, the Yolo Land Trust, which has helped landowners preserve more than 10,000 acres of land in the area, is concerned.

One representative of the trust said last week that a decision by the council to change course wouldn’t necessarily put their operation out of business, but there’s no question that future efforts to reel in conservation grants would be made more difficult.

“I don’t think it’s going to kill the land trust, but it’s going to hurt the land trust,” said Chris Scheuring, a board member.

This local decision also could carry statewide ramifications, as Suarez further writes in his letter that the failure to close this project — which received more than a third of the state’s total grant funding for conservation in 2011 — could reflect poorly on the NRCS, potentially “resulting in fewer dollars to the state.”

Further, if the grant is rejected, the funding would be returned to the U.S. Treasury, not to the state for future conservation projects.

News of the potential harm to the Yolo Land Trust, meanwhile, seems to have convinced city staff to pull back from its original recommendation in June to turn down the grant and explore business park opportunities for the land.

Instead, Rob White, the city’s chief innovation officer, will recommend to the council Tuesday to continue forward with the easement process.

“Based on the letter,” White said in his report to the council, ” … to ensure that the Yolo Land Trust was not harmed by rejecting the grant, staff recommends reaffirming acceptance of the NRCS grant and continue work toward a resell of the property with a conservation easement.”

The City Council first decided to reconsider accepting the grant after local business interests began approaching the city late last year with ideas of reshaping the farmland into a tech-business park.

With close proximity to Interstate 80 and its sheer 391-acre size, it was thought that this site would be the most lucrative location for the development.

David Morris, president of a seed-venture capital company called Capitol Corridor Ventures, had offered the city a deal to swap land north of Davis on which he had an option, for the city-owned property near the Mace curve with the intentions of developing it into a tech-business park.

If the council approves the grant, Morris’ idea for a business park on the farmland would be off the table.

Morris is the acting director of techDAVIS, the local tech-business association that helped the city hire White earlier this year.

While staff now is recommending against looking into a business park for this site, council members still could walk away from the grant Tuesday.

Per the council’s request during its Oct. 22 meeting — weeks before the letter from the NRCS surfaced — council members asked staff to return with different options for the land, including developing a business park there.

White will return with five possibilities for the site, including continuing on with the conservation easement process; turning down the grant, but not doing anything with the land yet; reselling the land without the easement; developing a portion of the farmland into a business park; or developing almost all of the acreage into a business park.

Only the first option would not require the city to turn down the grant funding.

The $3.8 million Mace curve property, now called Leland Ranch, was acquired by the city in 2010, in large part with Measure O funds, which are generated by a $50 parcel tax that voters in Davis approved in 2000 specifically for land preservation.

The rest of the land was paid for through an internal loan from a city roadway impact fee account of about $2.5 million.

Yolo Land Trust was awarded the $1.125 million grant in 2011 to pay for preservation of the farmland for the city.

— Reach Tom Sakash at [email protected] or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @TomSakash

Comments

comments

Tom Sakash

Tom Sakash covers the city beat for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at [email protected], (530) 747-8057 or @TomSakash.
  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Water and power have a troubling interdependency

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    New design submitted for conference center

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Bob Dunning: Fairness is an afterthought for them

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

    Los Angeles march to commemorate Armenian killings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Hostage deaths a reminder of risk of ‘deadly mistakes’

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Beginning tai chi classes start May 5

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    College Night set April 30 at DHS

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Walkers head out three times weekly

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4Comments are off for this post

     
    Got bikes? Donate ‘em!

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Tour of co-ops precedes Sacramento conference

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    School board hears report on health services

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A5

    Mamajowali will perform at benefit house concert

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

     
    Explorit: Celebrate International Astronomy Day

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Learn basics of composting in Woodland

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    Winkler Dinner raises funds for enology, viticulture activities

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Raptor Center welcomes visitors at May 2 open house

    By Trina Wood | From Page: A8 | Gallery

     
    Take a peek at region’s past at Tremont Mite Society’s social

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    BeerFest expands to include cider

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

     
    Mapping where human action is causing earthquakes

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: A9

    Hummingbird health: Appreciating the little things

    By Kat Kerlin | From Page: A12 | Gallery

     
    .

    Forum

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: B4

     
    The fight for gender pay equity

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4

     
    Thanks for supporting the arts

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Bike Swap another success

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

     
    Drink is a tasteless insult

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    It’s a depressing beat

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    .

    Sports

    Aggie Spring Game environment will up the gridiron fun factor

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Rare DHS track loss still full of highlights

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Lehner talks about the UCD student-athlete experience

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Reeling Blue Devils stop skid against Sheldon

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    DYSA roundup: Lester, Osborne lead Storm over Dixon

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    Lady Demons’ fundraiser a smash hit

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    Pro baseball roundup: River Cats lose their fourth straight

    By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B12

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

     
    ‘Ex Machina': The perils of playing God

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    Ceramicist works will be featured at The Artery

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    Chamber expands Korean sister-city opportunities

    By Felicia Alvarez | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    Car Care: Tips for buying your first ATV

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B6

    Subaru goes rear-wheel drive with sporty BRZ coupe

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: B7 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, April 24, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B5