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Roberta L. Millstein
Davis, CA
I am a Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Davis; my research is in the philosophy of science, the history & philosophy of biology, and environmental ethics. I serve on the Open Space & Habitat Commission for the City of Davis. The opinions expressed herein are my own and do not represent my employer’s views in any way. Nothing posted here should be considered official or sanctioned by my employer or any other organization I’m affiliated with.
Recent Activity
Robert, my reaction was similar to yours -- a lot of the questions seemed odd to me and I had a sense that some questions that should have been asked were missing, but Colin put his finger on exactly what those were. On the former, yes, why would we want to add bells and whistles to the train station? Shopping? Museums? Activities? Is there some reason that we just want people to go to the train station? Seems to me that it would just make the parking at the station worse and hurt the rest of downtown. Does someone think that if you make the station a destination, people will take the train more often? I have a hard time imagining that. I'd take the train more often if it ran more often, if it were on time more often, and if it were easier to get to where you wanted to go once you got to the end station. E.g., at the Santa Clara station, you're in the middle of nowhere. Now, Davis probably can't fix most of this stuff on its own, but maybe it could work with other municipalities to fix things.
Toggle Commented Jun 14, 2019 on Davis Amtrak Survey? at The Davisite
Good point, Keith. As your comment implies, conditions have changed a lot in three years. I think the EIR will need to be modified.
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The on-again off-again on-again business park proposal returns, with scanty detail By Roberta Millstein The proposed Mace Ranch Innovation Center (MRIC) is back, now reborn as the Aggie Research Campus (ARC). In Spring 2016, the developers of the proposed MRIC decided to put the project on hold, citing “higher than... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2019 at The Davisite
Robert, I have to rush off, so I'm going to be a bit briefer than I'd like to be in response to all the issues you've raised. Re: 2 - Colin just noted a similarity. He didn't say it was identical or even comparable in all respects. So I am not sure what your complaint is. You seem to be taking him to be saying more than he is. Re 3 and 4: I don't have the legal expertise to say whether the zoning complies or not, but it's hard for me to believe that this issue won't come up. I took Colin only to be saying that it is an issue that is likely to be raised. I thought exactly the same thing when I read the Enterprise article -- that we'd be hearing about zoning and the height of the building. Re 5: Can you point to some of that vetting? This is the first I'd heard of the project. Of course, maybe there were neighborhood meetings, not publicized more generally? As for whether it would be a reach to say that people will be called out if they do challenge the project -- really, that seems like a stretch to you? You've called out Colin just for pointing out questions that will likely arise. Anything with housing is contentious. Anything with homeless is contentious. Anything with housing first is contentious. Anything with lots of stories is contentious. I find it hard to believe that this won't be hot all around. As for your final note, why does Colin have to take a position on the project? Maybe he's waiting to see how the discussion unfolds. I know that I am, having just heard about the project from the Enterprise article. Again, he's pointing to some issues that may arise. It seems like you keep wanting to make more of this than there is, and then criticize him for it.
I had fun participating in this event honoring Davis's wonderful trees. I nominated the Torrey Pine in the arboretum. I encourage Davisites to check out the Great Trees and to nominate others!
Toggle Commented Jun 8, 2019 on Great Tree Search Update at The Davisite
Thanks for the comments and links, Todd. I think they help support and flesh out my theme of making things better for both cyclists and drivers.
Toggle Commented Jun 5, 2019 on Making Biking Convenient at The Davisite
Good point, Nancy, thanks. I hope that comes out in the discussion tonight.
My understanding is that the major question in front of the Council is whether to continue to pursue a municipally-owned broadband network. The Broadband Advisory Task Force (BATF) says yes; staff says no. I am here to support the BATF recommendation. I was astonished to see Dan Carson's editorial in... Continue reading
Posted Jun 4, 2019 at The Davisite
I'm glad you liked the photos, Rick, and thanks for the helpful info. Good question about maintenance. I can't remember if we've discussed that specifically at any point, but I believe that the staff member who maintains our other open spaces will have primary responsibility, and I expect that the City will continue to welcome volunteer help when necessary. It seemed to me that the trail did not wash out so much as get covered with tree debris, and that's what the volunteers cleared. This year, of course, brought quite a bit of tree debris. I imagine that other, less rainy years will require much less maintenance.
I am not the best person to ask about the history of Putah Creek (but there is a lot out there if you Google) or how much agriculture currently relies on it (quite a bit, I think). My understanding is that efforts to divert the creek south because of the flooding began in the late 1800s. If you know where the Putah Creek South Fork Preserve is (also a great place to take a walk/hike), the area depicted in my post is literally right across the street. To get to the Putah Creek South Fork Preserve, go south on Mace Blvd -- it's about two miles from where Chiles intersects with Mace. The existing preserve is on the left side of Mace; the new property is on the right side. Unfortunately, the parking lot cannot currently be used, but you can park alongside the road, or, of course, bike there.
Assuming we had the money (a big "if") and were in a position to do a project like this (another big "if"), I'm not sure there would be much sentiment for it. Just to pick one aspect, I don't think most would be too happy with the Arboretum lakes being dry during some parts of the year.
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On Saturday, the Open Space and Habitat Commission had an officially noticed "meeting" – really, a stroll through the woods – on City-owned land to the west of the Putah Creek South Fork Preserve. This land, approximately 10 acres in total, was purchased with Open Space funds in 2017 with... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2019 at The Davisite
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Donna, thanks for your comment. I agree with everything you say here and it is a good illustration of why making things better for cyclists does not have to make things worse for cars, although as you point out so well, what has been done recently at Mace and L aren't good for either cyclists or cars. I look at all of the concrete and the path I'd have to wend as a cyclist to go up Mace and I think, "I would not want to bike that at night." As you say, way too much concrete for to run into by accident.
Toggle Commented Jun 1, 2019 on Making Biking Convenient at The Davisite
Ron, yes, a piece talking about how statewide bicycle infrastructure projects have typically made winners (bikers) and losers (drivers) would be good. Send it my way and I will post! I'm glad you've found the environment a friendlier place to offer one's thoughts. The invitation to post articles here is, of course, not just open to you but to all Davisites, and I hope that others take me up on it! Since we all have full-time jobs here and are just doing this on the side, we'd appreciate the help. Plus, we want to represent a diversity of voices from the Davis community.
Toggle Commented May 31, 2019 on Making Biking Convenient at The Davisite
Ron, yes, Jeff and I were making different points, but I thought they were complementary. You say, " I understand that Jeff's comments failed to take into account the possibility of closing off a traffic lane (for bicyclists), as an example." But I can flip that on it's head and say, "Ron, you fail to take into account the possibility that you can have additional cyclists without closing a lane." And in that case, it's a win-win: fewer cars on the road, so less traffic. Don't assume the worst case scenario. :) It is true that making driving more miserable can motivate people to bike, and I do wrestle with that in my post. But I think there is a limit to that because you don't want to bring too many negative consequences, like harm to local businesses or cars sitting in traffic producing CO2. I think it's worth exploring other alternatives with no or fewer negative consequences. I'll just ask that you not rule them out as ineffective before we've even had the conversation, e.g., I think that UCD's GoClub really does work, and if we could figure out something like that for the City it could make a difference (or lots of small things could add up -- combine that with classes to help adults, not just students, navigate City roads, combine that with some streets better lit, for example). Let's give this a try. As for the overpass at Olive, maybe others can comment on that. I don't know enough about it.
Toggle Commented May 31, 2019 on Making Biking Convenient at The Davisite
Ron, you keep insisting that helping bikers will mean hurting drivers. I take it that Jeff's point, which seems right to me, is that everyone out of a car and onto a bike or other public transport can't help but improve car traffic, everything else being equal. I realize that everything else isn't always equal, but the fact that more bikers means fewer cars on the road has to be factored into the equation.
Toggle Commented May 30, 2019 on Making Biking Convenient at The Davisite
Ron, Well, I'm not sure what would make a difference. That's why I'd like to get people who study these sorts of things involved. Sometimes just getting a certain number of people to do something (like bike more) has a way of snowballing. Bike Davis has given out bike lights from time to time, and done other things to promote safe cycling (I wanted to acknowledge that, which I probably should have in my article). I just think we can do more.
Toggle Commented May 30, 2019 on Making Biking Convenient at The Davisite
Ron, I'm not convinced that everything that will make people feel safer or be safer will make things worse for cars. To give some examples: 1. More bike training classes offered by the City 2. Better lighting on certain roads (yes, there are potential worries about Dark Sky Ordinance here which would need to be discussed). 3. Incentives for people to bike. 4. More green striping of the type at, say, B and 5th (we'd need to examine how well those actually work). And other suggestions I'm sure that others can think of. I am by no stretch of the imagination an expert on any of this. But 1-4 are all examples of things that might incentivize people to bike without making driving worse. All I am saying in this article is, let's ask people: "What would it take for you to bike more often?" and see what they say. I'm sure there are suggestions that we might not want to take up, some of them because of other consequences like making things significantly worse for driving. But other suggestions might be fruitful. Seems like the sort of project some grad students or post docs in a relevant field might be interested in taking up.
Toggle Commented May 29, 2019 on Making Biking Convenient at The Davisite
Eric, Yes, other places are certainly less safe for biking than Davis. But my thought is, if some people aren't biking because they feel unsafe (and Donna's comments confirms my view that there are), then telling them things could be worse won't help, won't motivate them to bike. On the other hand, maybe there are some things we can do to make people feel safer or be safer. All I am saying is, let's explore that. And yes, there have been some recent egregious cases like L Street that have seemed to go in the exact wrong direction. Definitely, let's not do that! But let's also explore positive solutions for how we might make things better for people.
Toggle Commented May 29, 2019 on Making Biking Convenient at The Davisite
Ron, I thought I was pretty clear in saying that I wasn't talking about biking replacing driving altogether, but rather, increasing the amount that people bike. What can we do to make that happen without making car traffic worse? That is my question. Donna, yes, that's the sort of concern that I think we need to hear more about. What can we do to make people feel more safe while biking? That seems like a worthwhile issue to address, and to tie my response to Ron to yours, a way to try to get more people to bike more often.
Toggle Commented May 29, 2019 on Making Biking Convenient at The Davisite
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Is making driving worse our only alternative? By Roberta Millstein When I read the Davis Enterprise op-ed on roads, driving, and biking last month (“Infrastructure, what is it good for?”), I was sympathetic. After all, it does seem to make sense to call out the “operative principle” that “if only... Continue reading
Posted May 29, 2019 at The Davisite
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Thank you so much for your comments, Eileen. They help fill out the picture. I hope that others comment here with their reflections and rememberances of Tom Cahill. Like you, I extend my sincerest condolences to Ginny and the rest of Tom's family.
Toggle Commented May 26, 2019 on Honoring Dr. Thomas Cahill at The Davisite
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A man whose outstanding science was matched by his humanity By Roberta Millstein On Saturday, a packed St. James Catholic Church paid their respects to one of Davis’s most esteemed and well-loved sons, Dr. Thomas Cahill, better known to his friends and family as “Tom.” Tom’s achievements were many; they... Continue reading
Posted May 26, 2019 at The Davisite
Agreed, Nora. Well said. We need proper community processes that maintain the things that we value.
Hi again Eric, Post mortem doesn't necessarily have the connotation that you give it. See, e.g., this usage: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postmortem_documentation "A project post-mortem is a process, usually performed at the conclusion of a project, to determine and analyze elements of the project that were successful or unsuccessful. " We chose to listen from the outside (keeping in mind that we were not exactly far away -- literally one table over from the reserved area) so that no one could claim we were interfering with the event. We have been subject to accusations in the past and wanted to make it crystal clear that we had no intentions of interfering. And we followed through on that. Our comment on the sound was simply to point out -- as we did -- that other patrons of Lamppost who might have wanted to hear would not have known that their Councilmembers were speaking on issues that they might have been interested in. The Vanguard could have made more of an effort to welcome in the others who were there. But I'm not sure why you're focusing on that or on the pizza. I think it's clearly not our main point. Was the event a success? Well, there were at most 25 people there. And as we said at the end of the article, it felt like the Vanguard and the Council were doubling down on their cozy relationship. As you say, it was ill-conceived from the start.