Updated: Sep 25, 2020
From: Delaine Eastin, Former Superintendent of Public Instruction Subject: Comment in Support for DISC
Date: June 25th, 2020
To: Davis City Council
To the Davis City Council,
I write to you in support of the Davis Innovation and Sustainability Campus and ask you to vote to approve the project to be put on the ballot for November. I believe that this project will benefit our community in numerous ways, and in this letter I hope to highlight several areas that are of particular interests to me and to share my perspective on why I believe that the Davis Innovation and Sustainability Campus is needed and important for the future of Davis.
As someone who has been deeply involved in thinking about education and education funding in municipal, regional, and state government for many years, I believe that the Davis Innovation and Sustainability Campus, Measure B, can be a significant boon to education in Davis and throughout the region. First, with respect to DJUSD, I believe that an important aspect to consider is the importance of steady growth to the financial health of a school district. Wild fluctuations in enrollment, whether that is positive or negative, present enormous challenges to a school district which faces large fixed costs and obligations. The past twenty years in Davis have seen real challenges to DJUSD’s enrollment numbers, and I believe the addition of 850 housing units which will attract many families at the Davis Innovation and Sustainability is a positive outcome for DJUSD in terms of helping to stabilize and strengthen the district’s enrollment. These funds are also supplemented by the estimated $1.33 million in school assessments and bond levies the Davis Innovation and Sustainability Campus is expected to provide annually to DJUSD at project buildout.
Beyond tangible fiscal benefits, I encourage the citizens and leaders of Davis to also consider the opportunities this project can create to improve the human capital of DJUSD students through internship opportunities, jobs, and private-public partnerships that can be created between the companies who locate at the Davis Innovation and Sustainability Campus and DJUSD. This also holds true for students at our local community colleges, UC Davis, Sacramento State and other surrounding educational institutions. I am particularly enthusiastic about the potential benefits this project can bring to support UC Davis by providing space for the expansion and retention of research facilities here in Davis, creating the opportunity to expand private-public partnerships between the university and companies who locate at the Davis Innovation and Sustainability Campus, and providing employment opportunities for UC Davis students, faculty, and faculty spouses among others. As one of the finest public research universities in the world, UC Davis is a jewel that our community rightly cherishes; approving this project will be a meaningful step we can take to continue to support this institution which has defined the history and character of Davis.
Another issue which is of great importance to me is environmental sustainability. During my time in the California State Government, we took great strides in promoting sustainability across the state for individuals, businesses, and public entities. It is my view that development offers us a chance to leverage private capital to continue this important work, and it is why I am very encouraged by the commitments this project has made towards advancing environmental sustainability. I particularly support the project’s commitment to using 100% renewable energy which would make it a national leader in this respect. Its use of bio-swales to recapture stormwater runoff is similarly forward thinking. The Davis Innovation and Sustainability Campus will also plant at least one thousand trees which will sequester carbon for hundreds of years, provide habitat, and reduce the urban heat island effect. The project will make substantial improvements to public transit and multimodal transportation which builds upon Davis’ long legacy of promoting alternative transportation that reduces carbon emissions from travel.
When I entered the state government, a big priority for me was to expand Californian’s, and especially our students’, access to technology. We Californians have been international leaders in technological innovation and can be proud of industries and technologies we have developed here in our state. I believe the incredible success we have had as a society in fostering entrepreneurship and innovation is built on the wise decisions we have made as a society to invest considerable resources to support public institutions like UC Davis who have pursued and developed cutting-edge research, the private-public partnerships we have built with innovative enterprises around the globe, and the strong support we have given to creating the necessary conditions and support for entrepreneurs to dream and discover the next technological marvels that change the world. In my view, the Davis Innovation and Sustainability Campus represents a marvelous opportunity to continue to advance innovation and entrepreneurship and reap some of those benefits here in Davis.
Finally, I think that it is important to acknowledge what a wonderful benefit the creation of more than 5,400 estimated jobs can have on our community. Sometimes the effects of these jobs and the opportunities they create are hard to understand beforehand. By definition, these jobs do not exist yet, and so the positive impacts they can bring to the lives of the project’s future employees and our community are difficult to understand in a tangible way. But we should not let this difficulty make us lose sight that each of these jobs represents an opportunity for someone to improve their life and pursue their dreams. Each of these jobs provides the means for someone to raise a family, to participate in this community, and to achieve a fulfilling life. In my view, the economic damage our society is currently facing only highlights the importance of creating employment opportunities that provide enormous benefits not only to those who are employed, but for the communities who host the businesses that create these economic opportunities. Davis has long been a forward-looking community in many areas. It is my belief that the Davis Innovation and Sustainability Campus is an important project for Davis’ future and will bring substantial benefits to our community for decades to come.
I urge you to approve this project to be placed on the ballot and urge the citizens of Davis to support the Davis Innovation and Sustainability Campus for the manifold benefits it will confer to Davis, the region, and the world.
Former California State Superintendent of Public Instruction