Given that Davis likes to vote on just about everything, a curious citizen asked me the other day if I thought The Cannery project would pass muster with the well-educated and well-heeled residents of Davis if it were put on the ballot.
A tough question, given that voting in favor of anything is rare in this town, with the exception of the very close and contentious vote to approve Target a few years ago.
Now, if they put messing with what we put in our bodies by adding fluoride to our water supply to a vote, that one would fail, just as it did by a whopping 61-39 percent margin recently in my hometown of Portland. I base that judgment on the fact that Portland is the city Davis leaders aspire to imitate — call it “Portland Envy” — so if Portland’s against it, we should be, too.
The about-to-be-enacted plastic bag ban is a close call, though I’m sure the many details of it, including the absolutely unexplainable requirement that stores charge everyone 10 cents for a paper bag, would fail miserably with the voters.
But The Cannery? Other than the usual suspects who come out of the woodwork to oppose anything that involves hammers and nails, I don’t sense much passion in town on either side of this issue.
I live within two blocks of the old cannery and I can’t get excited about it one way or the other. I’m sure it will increase traffic in the neighborhood to a degree, but not in an unmanageable way. And, for a while at least, it’ll probably knock down property values all over town based on that old supply-and-demand stuff we all learned in third grade.
It’s not surprising that property values would drop, given that it’s been a long time since we’ve had a brand-new development in town with a significant number of homes for sale.
Then again, for those of us who are happy with our humble dwelling and plan to occupy it until the End of Time, property values aren’t of much concern.
So the question of what the voters would do with this project if they were allowed to express their opinion in a binding measure remains unanswered.
But we don’t have to look very far into the past to realize that a much, much smaller project just a few blocks down the road — Masud Monfared’s Wildhorse Ranch — failed miserably at the polls, as did the very large Covell Village project, also very near The Cannery.
It was clear from both of those votes that homeowners were indeed concerned about what an increase in the supply of homes would do to their property values. They may not have said so publicly, but when they pulled the curtain on Election Day, they voted “no.”
I will say this: I like the name. The Cannery conjures up a gritty, blue-collar, grapes-of-wrath feel that’s distinctly missing in a town made up of Village Homes, Stonegate, Wildhorse, Mace Ranch, Lake Alhambra Estates, North Davis Farms, Oeste Manor, Redwood Lane and College Park.
The cannery itself was a visible sign of just how much our area was dependent on agriculture, humming 24 hours a day, attracting hard-working men and women from all over the county — many of whom could never afford to live here — and belching tomato soup-like fumes into the fall air for all of us to enjoy.
One of my older sisters worked the “line” at the cannery to earn money for college and still credits her experiences there for teaching her lifelong lessons about the value of putting in an honest day’s work.
If The Cannery can provide housing to meet the needs of a mix of old and new residents, I think we can all learn to live with it.
Build it and they will come.
— Reach Bob Dunning at firstname.lastname@example.org