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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
This is a beautiful essay and I appreciate it for the personal things in my life. But when it comes to climate change and the havoc it will wreak and has wreaked on the living things on this planet, I find it hard not to have an impending sense of doom or panic.
Toggle Commented yesterday on It is all on schedule at The Davisite
I just want to respond to a couple of points raised above. This wind event may have been stronger than most, but big wind events large enough to blow massive amounts of leaves off the trees as well as large branches occur pretty much every fall. And when they do, a lot of stuff is in the street, including big branches. No one has to put it in the street. The City needs to plan for this. The current schedule is inadequate. Even ordinary wind produces debris in the street this time of year. Again, this needs to be addressed.
Toggle Commented 6 days ago on Bring the Claw Back at The Davisite
Thanks, Eileen. Like you, I worry that the skids are greased on this project. The questions that Rik, Colin and I were asking should have been asked by Council. Instead they were prepared to accept it without question. For those who don't know the history of Mace Ranch in the 1990s that you refer to, here is an accounting of it on the City of Davis's site: Heads up, Davisites, indeed.
Thanks, John. You're right, public health is of great importance and your expertise in this area is sorely needed. I'm glad you're getting involved and hope that others do too.
Other issues unfortunately went unaddressed By Roberta Millstein At Tuesday's City Council meeting, an item concerning updating the old Mace Ranch Innovation Center (MRIC) Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the new Aggie Research Campus (ARC) proposal was pulled from the Consent Calendar, allowing for staff and Council discussion of the... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at The Davisite
Thank you for your kind words, John. I'm glad you found the article helpful. Indeed, I encourage everyone to come on Tuesday.
Transportation consultant believes ARC may result in new significant impacts or a substantial increase in the severity of significant impacts. By Roberta Millstein After the controversy over the approval of the Mace Ranch Innovation Center (MRIC) Environmental Impact Report (EIR) back in February 2017, and after having to pull the... Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2019 at The Davisite
What do you want your downtown to look like? How many stories do you want it to be? By Roberta Millstein Here are three ways to find out more about the draft Downtown Davis Specific Plan: Watch the Opticos Video Presentation to DPAC The October 24th Opticos presentation to the... Continue reading
Posted Nov 1, 2019 at The Davisite
By Roberta Millstein Middle Earth Tower, UC Irvine: Opened Fall 2019, one 7-story building, houses 490 students As Colin Walsh documented in his article on last week’s “town hall” meeting between UC Davis, the City of Davis, and Yolo Country, the meeting was unfortunate in a number of respects and... Continue reading
Posted Oct 24, 2019 at The Davisite
By Roberta Millstein This is just a brief post to let Davisites know about some upcoming housing-related discussions. At 6 PM on Tuesday (Oct 22) just prior to the regular Council meeting in the Community Chambers, there will be a City Council and Planning Commission Joint Discussion. The two planned... Continue reading
Posted Oct 18, 2019 at The Davisite
Here is some additional important information about the meeting:
Thank you, Greg, for this important analysis. On the history of Ramco (the developer) and Mace Ranch that Greg refers to, Davisites might find the following useful: I know you've been calling for a cumulative effects analysis for awhile now. Davis has approved a number of large projects recently, some of which are not yet online. This one-at-a-time approach is not healthy. Time to take stock.
Good outcomes in spite of bad process at Council meeting By Roberta Millstein As I and others had requested, at Tuesday’s meeting the Council pulled the items concerning the Mace Ranch Innovation Center (MRIC)/Aggie Research Center (ARC) from the Consent Calendar, meaning that there could be a brief presentation, public... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2019 at The Davisite
Aggie Research Center (formerly, Mace Ranch Innovation Center) on Tuesday’s Council Consent Calendar Location of proposed ARC, with sunflowers and corn. Picture taken by R. Millstein 9/2019 By Roberta Millstein Back in June, I noted that developers had asked the City to resume processing their application for a massive ~200... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2019 at The Davisite
Hi Alan, We did share the Facebook event on our Facebook page (located at, a good way to follow us), but I recognize that not everyone is on Facebook. We share all of the event/press releases that are sent to us, but the StrEatery one was not sent to us. Maybe I am a little overly cautious about not posting things that I have not been given permission to post, but I'd rather err that way then the other way. For that matter, we're happy to post op eds/letters/thoughts/pictures that are sent to us, too. ;) So, send us your stuff! :) Roberta
Toggle Commented Oct 4, 2019 on Fine food and fun at the StrEatery at The Davisite
Can this be a quarterly event? By Roberta Millstein On Thursday evening, the Davis Food Co-op and Land & Ladle, in partnership with COOL Cuisine Davis, put on an event dubbed the StrEatery, held adjacent to the Co-op on 6th St. About a dozen food trucks were there, offering cuisines... Continue reading
Posted Oct 4, 2019 at The Davisite
Thanks, Bob. I summarize some of the main rules in a post here: which drew on a presentation made to the City Council; slides here: But I think the answer to your question is, no, the criteria are not quite the same, and doubtful that the districts could be the same. For one thing, the area of people who can vote in school board elections is geographically much larger than the area of people who can vote in the City Council election. For another thing, proximity to schools weighs much more heavily in the former than in the latter, which would also take into account cohesiveness of neighborhood, shopping at common locations, common interests, similarity of residents ("communities of interest"). In both cases, the populations represented by each district have to be roughly equal in number -- which given the difference in size of the total geographic area, might on its on mean that the districts couldn't have the same boundary lines (I haven't done the math to confirm that). I hope that explanation was clear... if it wasn't, I can try to explain it better. As for whether there is an advantage to both having 5 or both having 7, even if the districts themselves are different -- maybe? I haven't thought about that.
Maps available here. Public input needed! By Roberta Millstein Today, the City of Davis released five draft maps for proposed districts for future City Council elections: three 5-district maps and two 7-district maps. Recall from my previous post that it may be difficult to change the number of districts once... Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2019 at The Davisite
That's a really good idea, Todd. It would highlight the tradeoffs that are being made when the CC makes decisions like this. Some folks were talking about trying to push for a "Health in All Policies" approach in Davis (, but I'm not sure what happened to the effort.
Is the City really committed to better communication? By Roberta Millstein At its Tuesday meeting, the Davis City Council received a detailed presentation about how the City can improve its communication. Then the Council immediately threw that information out the window and approved an Armored Rescue Vehicle (ARV). The presentation... Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2019 at The Davisite
I agree with pretty much everything you say here, Ron. There were indeed (at least) two problematic components to the way that the "Picnic Day Incident" was handled. Yes, having an unmarked vehicle was part of the problem, but so was the aggressive approach. It sounds like you agree with that. I agree that we also need to consider costs and whether Woodland's MRAP, which I believe we can call on if we "need" it, isn't already serving the intended purpose.
I don't think the questions are entirely separate. One of the issues is, how and when do police decide what a "dangerous situation" is, and how does it change their behavior and attitude when they think they are entering a "dangerous situation"? To give one example: Let's recall what happened when a group of young people were dancing on the corner near Russell and College Park, and the police u-turned into the crowd so that people had to step back. The police acted aggressively, and the crowd responded aggressively. Imagine what might have happened if instead the police had parked nearby and walked up and talked calmly with the dancers, urging them back to the sidewalk. Now imagine what happens when instead of a police car, the police are driving an armored behemoth. They are now treating the situation as a dangerous one, and I venture to say that had they had an ARV (and felt compelled to use it, because such purchases must be justified with use) the situation would have been even more accelerated than it was. The basic point is about how police view the citizens they serve and how equipment like this affects the attitudes and behaviors of those who use them, not to mention citizens attitudes about the role of the police. Here I am talking about the increased militarization of the police. So, given all that, yes, we are then asking if the purchase of such a vehicle is needed or justified, although of course there are other components to that question, such as whether that money could be better spent for other purposes, including other police purposes.
Eric, to take your second point first: although Nora can speak for herself, I took it that her point about Officer Corona is that some would use her death as a justification for buying this vehicle, but that it doesn't really justify buying the vehicle because it wouldn't have helped. As for your first point, you agree that we should look at "necessity." Well, one aspect of "necessity", it seems to me, is looking at what has happened in the past. Of course, we should also look at what has happened in comparable cities, but I haven't denied that. Otherwise, how do we judge how much security we need? How do we measure the tradeoff between security's cost and other harms? It would certainly be possible to pay for a lot more security than is necessary, bringing little benefit for a lot of harm. The question is where the ARV falls here. I am not convinced that its benefits outweigh its harms, but then, a big part of my point is that this needs more discussion and shouldn't be decided tomorrow night.
Thanks, Nora, for your comments and for the link. I agree with everything you've said. Natalie Corona's death was so awful and tragic, but like you I have a hard time seeing how an ARV would have changed anything. And the risk is, as you say, militarization, which would be bad for the community at large and especially for people of color. So, at best, this is unneeded, and at worst, harmful.