Sunday, May 13, 2012

“Redevelopment in Davis” Presentation Is Yet Another History “Crystalizing” Document (58)


You Tube Video

I have previously blogged about how recent documents by thoughtful Davisites  “crystalize” Davis history so well that they are making future Davis histories much easier to write  (#48, March 25, 2012 and #07, August 28, 2011).

These crystalizing documents keep on coming! Now we have one addressing a very large change in Davis over the last quarter century.  

That change is called “redevelopment” and is otherwise described as the proliferation of new buildings and infrastructure improvements in the Davis Downtown (and yet other changes, such as increases in affordable housing, which I leave aside here).

Composed by Ken Hiatt, Director of the City’s Department of Community Development, and titled “Redevelopment in Davis,” it is an ode to “Davis Redevelopment Agency Accomplishments” (its title when presented to the City Council on May lst).

It is a tad awkward to ask people to read because it is a slide show with Hiatt’s oral commentary. You can view it (or versions of it), however, in at least three places:

Davis Enterprise, May 3, 2012
l. The presentation to the City Council on May 1 was videoed and is on the City’s website at:
According to the Enterprise article on this event, one fast-forwards the video to the 2:35 mark. And I notice City officials have also put a version of it up as a separate item on that page. Here it its URL:
http://cityofdavis.org/media/rda-accomplishments-2012-05-01.ram

2. I converted the 19 minutes focused on the Downtown to the mp4 format and uploaded it to You Tube, where it lives here:

Hiatt Presentation Title Slide
3. Much of the report is a series of “before” and “after” pictures of major building projects in the Downtown in the last 25 or so years. I excerpted most of these photos, set them up as one-picture before-after contrasts and made 18 of them into a slide show. It is the first item in the sidebar to the right on this page. (An in-progress work, it does not yet have sufficient captioning.)

As mentioned, Hiatt’s presentation is a celebration of the now defunct Davis Redevelopment Agency (DRA). Since there are not longer such agencies in California, obviously not everyone thought they were especially laudable. Indeed, I had and have personal misgivings about them--especially, their egregious misuse of the concept of “blight” and their tendency to be “welfare for developers.”

Putting such matters of morals to one side and looking only at what the DRA did, I think there is no doubt that--for better or worse--it was a huge force in forging the Davis Downtown we see today.
One of 18 "Before-After" contrasts in the
right-hand sidebar slide show "Downtown Redevelopment"

Of course, the DRA would not have been so active in the ways it was were it not for the philosophical, political and policy context established in the early 1960s and redirected in human-scale ways by City Councils starting in 1972.

So, a conjunction of 1) historical Council ideas and 2) redevelopment levers in the hands of astute, innovative, and active staff produced much of the Downtown we now enjoy. And, like many other bold and grand undertakings, it is shadowed by a history of moral dubiousness.