Thursday, April 24, 2014

Standing In: Can we fix the foolishness of Davis?

I love Davis, living here, the people, community, greenbelts and all the rest. While many of my friends are buying homes in the foothills or on the coast or even in other states as they plan for retirement, my wife and I are remodeling our Davis home and plan to retire and stay right here.

Like any great love, at times Davis is foolish. Really, really foolish. What I mean is, the city does very foolish things that just drive me crazy. Here’s my list:

* Cars — so many examples, but I’ll list them all under this heading. You’ll see the connection: “Let’s make driving slow and difficult so Davisites will abandon their cars” — what foolishness!

— It is insanity to reduce the downtown section of Fifth Street to two lanes … and totally unnecessary. For at least 20 years, we’ve heard about this and could have solved it long ago by widening Fifth Street. Just take out the strip of land between the sidewalk and street. Yes, the beautiful trees would have to go, but if we’d done this 20 years ago, we’d have beautiful, replacement trees lining the street now. The black walnut trees west on Russell Boulevard are being cut down; proof the city knows how to chop down trees.

— While I’m speaking about Fifth Street, why in the world does it not go all the way straight to Mace Boulevard? Only Covell traverses the entire city from west to east. Foolish.

— Likewise, we abandoned north-south through streets. Between Sycamore Lane and L Street, there are several such streets to move traffic well. But farther west and east? Nothing but winding, multiple streets — try going from Covell to Second Street east of L Street.

— Have you noticed that our stoplights changed about eight to 12 months ago? They used to have excellent response times in tune with the actual traffic. Now, we have left-turn signals going green when there are no cars in the lane. And, often the only green light is for a direction where there are no cars waiting. I fear for the safety of high schoolers impatiently waiting for a green light to cross Covell and giving up to cross on the red. Mark this well — a serious accident is going to happen because of the slow-to-change, illogical lights.

— Not building a new interchange/overpass between Mace and Richards was so foolish. We chose only to extend Pole Line Road over I-80 and lost an excellent opportunity for an extra interchange.

— Before Whole Foods, before Borders, there was a large vacant lot perfect for building a second tunnel for Richards Boulevard traffic. This would have allowed the historic Lincoln Highway tunnel to simply handle traffic going into downtown. We foolishly abandoned this logical traffic solution. So in the future, our only choice will be tearing down the historic Boy Scout cabin to fix this bottleneck.

* Another Davis foolish decision was to so strictly reduce housing construction that we now have a significant reduction in the number of children, already resulting in closing of one school. This trend will continue because young families are unable to afford homes here. And, no, the low-cost housing solutions during the past 30 years have not worked.

* While banning plastic bags is a foolish decision about to happen, you can still buy a box of the very excellent Nugget green plastic bags. Only $20 for 1,400 bags: sufficient for a lifetime of lining trash cans, picking up after your dog and carrying your lunch to work. None of the bags I get at Nugget are “single use” — all are used again.

* I am still unable to get over the foolish vote of the City Council years ago to proclaim Davis a “pro-choice” city by concluding that the label applies to both sides of this ongoing controversy. No one who opposes the killing of unborn children would call himself or herself “pro-choice”!

* Davis needs district elections if we truly want a representative government. Why not have five districts: south, east, north, west and central? What foolishness to continue with a city council of elites, like the U.S. or state Senate.

* It was so incredibly foolish to require a shopping center at Lake and Arlington boulevards, in the middle of far West Davis. It has struggled for customers from the very beginning. Far better would have been to locate the same center at Lake and Covell. Mace Ranch developers were not so foolish and refused to build an internal shopping center at Fifth Street and Alhambra Drive, as required by the city. Far better to build it at Alhambra and Mace.

Actually, Target now has a pretty good grocery selection, something our City Council apparently was unable to prohibit, in its micromanaging crusade.

Well, the final foolishness is my own. I voted years ago in favor of a shopping center where the southern half of Central Park now hosts our wonderful farmers’ market and many other events. I was wrong and foolish in my vote.

I’d like to see Davis admit its foolishness for at least one of the above. They are all foolish. Let’s fix them.

— Keith Redenbaugh arrived in Davis in 1982 and, with his wife Janet, raised three wonderful children. For the past four years he has thoroughly enjoyed his work and colleagues at Arcadia Biosciences Inc.

Special to The Enterprise


Discussion | 9 comments

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  • October 05, 2013 - 5:13 pm

    Nice article, many good ideas.

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  • Chris LambertOctober 06, 2013 - 8:04 am

    It seems that Mr. Redenbaugh's definition of "foolish" is primarily anything that interfere's with his beloved car culture. Odd, considering that it is becoming quite clear that fossil fuel use, and growth in general, has to stop if we are to retain a livable planet. Davis makes baby steps in the direction of sustainability, but at least they are steps.

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  • MattOctober 06, 2013 - 1:18 pm

    I messed up using this reply system... I think Citi Bikes would be really smart for the city.

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  • MattOctober 06, 2013 - 1:21 pm

    For the record my intent has been to reply to the article not the discussion posters.

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  • The World's Gone CrazyOctober 07, 2013 - 4:29 pm

    By setting the stop light with timers rather than the sensors that are in the street, has a couple of unintended consequences; cars sit and burn fuel at idle and many people divert to other streets so they don’t have to wait. Also remember bikes are supposed to sit at these lights, and occasionally do.

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  • LaureenOctober 06, 2013 - 11:28 am

    Thoughtful Ideas from author, would be great if we could get a diversity of people to put their thoughtful ideas out more in davis and get some collective ideas and actions from them. Seems like not just geographic diversity of ideas needed but also from differing generations and lifestyles. What I need/value from Davis may be different from you: retired, empty nester, people with young children, with teens, single parents, elderly in need of assistance, high schooler, disabled, elementary school children, middle schoolers, people of other cultures and or race, ucd students..etc. Maybe what I need may be different from what you need sometimes, but not always. Maybe sometimes the groups that have the least voice need to be served so the stronger groups do not overpower and dominate decisions and resources.

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  • MattOctober 06, 2013 - 1:16 pm

    I agree about the trees on fifth street. It's also very weird that you can't study gerontology at UCDavis or Sac City. I've already given up even thinking about growing old here. A lot of the people I've met who work in gerontology out here live in Vacaville. I'm interested in watching how much longer American river gets to keep their program. I also think HGTV could also make a funny show out here.

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  • Redenbaugh for Council....October 07, 2013 - 1:16 pm

    Well Said! Hope you sticlk around and help make some of things happen. Actions speak louder than words. But you have laid out a nice foundation!

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  • MattOctober 07, 2013 - 2:12 pm

    I'm suppose to be having a career in NYC, instead I work 12-14 hours caring for my mother. I was a minor and too uneducated about issues around aging to have made a difference when it mattered. There are more millenials then there are baby boomers so I'm going to go somewhere with people that have similar priorities as me. I may start watching Davis city council meetings as research... The Borders fiasco years ago turned me off of Davis politics; but again, UCD retirement policies have me having to be a full time family caregiver. All I can do is express my opinions and hope like minded people take up action.

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