Sunday, March 1, 2015

Per Capita Davis: Paso Fino and Dalhart, Texas


From page A4 | September 04, 2014 |

Re=purposing vacant land: Done right, increased density via infill development can be a boon to residents by creating the conditions for neighborhood-oriented businesses within walking or biking distance. But if there aren’t businesses within a reasonable walking distance, then increasing density in suburban settings really only increases car traffic: more greenhouse gas emissions instead of less.

I spent some time recently with neighbors of the proposed Paso Fino development being discussed for a small plot along Covell Boulevard. They’re concerned that the proposed increase in density on this property will have lots of negative impacts, including poor traffic circulation, the removal of lots of trees and the city ceding a greenbelt to the project.

It’s hard to argue with that. It appears to be an increase in density that will not increase the walkability of the neighborhood, but instead will just increase car traffic.

Some time ago, in a previous column, I wondered about a “mother/daughter” approach to grocery stores. As I listened to the neighbors it occurred to me that perhaps instead of increasing housing density, the location could instead be re-purposed for small-scale commercial development. One or more grocery stores would be the “mother stores,” and a building on this site would be the “daughter store.”

Instead of driving to buy groceries, residents of the neighborhood could order and pay for groceries online, the mother store would deliver them in an electric mini-truck to lockers in the daughter store, and residents could walk to the site to pick up their groceries.

The property also could be configured to offer other benefits to the neighborhood, such as a space for a food truck that would be on site at designated times, as well as a meeting space for quilters, Scrabble players and kids’ clubs; a drop-off location for CSA boxes from local farmers; a location for delivery of online purchases similar to the “Swapbox” program in the Bay Area; perhaps even a coffee shop.

Figuring out how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in existing residential neighborhoods is a tough nut to crack. It’s unusual to have a vacant parcel in the midst of an existing neighborhood, and it offers the city the opportunity to think out of the box in meeting its greenhouse gas reduction goals. This, it seems to me, also could be an opportunity on other sites, such as the school district’s property on Grande Avenue in North Davis.

The Dust Bowl as prologue: Timothy Egan wrote an amazing book, “The Worst Hard Time,” that the New York Times labeled “a classic disaster tale.” The book is about the Dust Bowl. It’s an amazing story. I had no idea how bad conditions actually were. Nor did I know that this disaster was the predictable result of government policies and farming practices and could have been avoided had people heeded the warnings of scientists and others.

One part of the story is about how even at the peak of the disaster, some people refused to acknowledge its adverse affects. One “denier’ (here comes the connection to climate change), the editor of The Dalhart Texan newspaper, refused to acknowledge the disaster and excoriated anyone who said or implied that conditions were bad and getting worse. In his view, only positive news would do; bad news just drove people away.

Perhaps the most extreme expression of this was his initiation of the “Last Man Club.” He badgered folks to sign a pledge that they would never leave town; they would suck it up and stick it out. All the while, residents derisively labeled “Exodusters” could see the writing on the wall (that was about all you could see when the dust was blowing) and were leaving in droves. The club members were very macho, but not very smart. Interestingly, the Texas governor signed on to show solidarity.

Now to the point. I often wonder, as the “disaster in slow motion” that is climate change becomes more and more obvious, whether the strident deniers eventually will accept science and reality, or if they will have their own “Last Man Club”?

In the unlikely event that climate change’s predicted adverse effects are not realized, my hope is that those of us who are sounding warnings today will admit our error with huge sighs of relief. But it is my suspicion that as the adverse effects of our greenhouse gas emissions become more and more visible and damaging to the environment and the economy, the most vehement climate change deniers will stick to their disregard for science and refuse to acknowledge that humans are causing the “new abnormal.”

Of course, continued denial is not the only way out. In all probability, conditions will change gradually and the negative argument will evolve and take on new shape to explain these new conditions. I don’t think it is spoiling it for anyone who wants to read the book, but the newspaper editor, the most defiant and unaccepting of the Dust Bowl deniers, shocked his friends and fellow club members by announcing he was leaving town. He explained that his betrayal was not because he didn’t still believe everything he had said before, but rather because he had been offered a job in another town.

— John Mott-Smith is a resident of Davis; this column is published on the first and third Thursdays of the month. Send comments to [email protected]



John Mott-Smith



Sheriff: Mother ‘sole person responsible’ for infant’s death

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Rifle Team has a blast with competitive shooting

By Savannah Holmes | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Child abduction case in jury’s hands

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1

Pipeline project will soften water in 2016

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

Pig out at Farmers Market’s Pig Day

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1

Weekend storm drops snow, rain, hail in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Christie to Republicans: No rush to pick 2016 nominee

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Bob Dunning: Colon prep can be hard to swallow

By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

Scouts help fill STEAC’s pantry

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

Explore Asia at Arboretum storytime

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

MU Games closing in late March

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

Still no parole in toddler case

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

City offers wetlands tour

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Parole denied in 1987 killing spree

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Young patients bond with special stuffies

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Diversity theater group continues creativity workshops

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Radio talk show moves to Mondays

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Assault awareness campaign kicks off

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

UCD student with meningococcal disease is recovering

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

UCD student panel to cover anti-Semitism, Islamophobia

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

Yolo Food Bank hosts thank-you breakfast on Pig Day

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9



Milt Priggee cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: B4

Rowing: PE as well as life skills

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

Police complaint procedures drafted

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

Clarifying energy update letter

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

Weekly claw pickup necessary

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

Mars or ISIS? Similar outcome

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

City may get charged up over energy choices

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4

Design innovation centers for the 21st century

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

Speak out

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B5

A new perspective on life

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A7

Distant water crisis has lessons for Davis

By Marion Franck | From Page: A7

Call for study to settle if anesthesia poses risk to babies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7



Winning close games is the key for DHS softballers

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Aggie men get a bounce-back win at Cal Poly

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

The mystery continues: lowly Gauchos upset UCD women

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Devils get a soccer win despite finishing woes

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Sports briefs: Razo throws well as Aggies get a baseball win

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Defending champion Blue Devils have diamond holes to fill

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Republic FC falls to storied New York Cosmos

By Evan Ream | From Page: B10







Yolo Federal Credit Union honored for supporting business education

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

Online store will celebrate, mock People’s Republic of Davis

By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A10 | Gallery





Comics: Sunday, March 1, 2015

By Creator | From Page: B8