The new Yolo County Courthouse has just celebrated its “grand opening.”

On August 24th, Yolo Sun published a letter to state and local officials responsible for Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance at the new Yolo County Courthouse.

In this letter (please see earlier article, below on blog scroll), we detailed numerous violations and deficiencies with disabled parking and route of travel to the new courthouse.

Since writing that letter, a number of the issues we raised have been addressed — but others remain.

Judicial Council of California has sent a reply letter (please see below).

Two Sets Of Stop Signs

Based on our letter, the City of Woodland has installed stop signs on Lincoln Avenue at Sixth Street to help protect pedestrians, including the disabled, travelling from both parking lots to the courthouse.

However — somehow overlooked — was our letter’s indication of necessary installation of stop signs at the intersection of Oak Avenue and Sixth Street.  Yolo Sun has again requested city action.

The city greatly needs to install stop signs on Oak Avenue at Sixth Street to protect pedestrians using the 171 courthouse parking spaces located in the more distant of the two public parking lots, as well as pedestrians — including disabled persons — who must (are directed to) there cross Sixth Street from the closer parking lot.

As of today, the city has still not done so.  The new courthouse is filling these lots on a near-daily basis.  How long does the city intend to delay the imperative installation of this second set of stop signs?

Reply Of State Judicial Council

Construction of the new courthouse was financed and overseen by the state-level Judicial Council of California (JCC), which bears primary responsibility for its ADA compliance.

Published below, is the reply letter received from the JCC, promising to rectify several of the deficiencies we raised.  For example, it has promised to add one ADA-required, van-accessible disabled parking space, found missing from the original courthouse allotment.   JCC also promised to add signage at the parking lot across from the Police Station to discourage jay walking on Sixth Street, which pedestrians will be tempted to do to avoid as much as an extra block of travel distance between that lot and the courthouse.  Neither of these promised improvements has yet materialized, but we suppose JCC can be taken at its word and these remedies will soon be forthcoming.

Unfortunately, JCC’s reply fails to correct the most serious problem facing disabled persons traveling from their parking spaces to the courthouse – namely, the two and a half to three block distance they have to negotiate, as well as facing traffic hazards along the way, passing across two busy driveways (for the courthouse and the police station).

No Solution Yet Provided

JCC’s letter of reply addresses these concerns about unreasonable distance and hazards faced by the disabled – related to potential ADA violations — but without providing any satisfactory solution.

Our letter to JCC outlined several potential solutions, such as leasing parking for disabled persons from the large lot of Woodland Joint Unified School District (directly across Sixth Street from the courthouse).  Believably, this lot already has new signage disinclining casual parking by courthouse visitors — disabled or not.  Leased parking arrangements would allow the courthouse to direct disabled persons into this much closer lot; while, expanding regular parking within its lots several blocks away.

Other potential solutions also exist, for bringing disabled persons within a reasonable distance of travel from the courthouse door.

Yolo Sun will continue to act, monitor and report on these issues, as well as continue to seek solutions for these courthouse deficiencies.

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From:  Judicial Council Of California

September 4, 2015

Re:  New Yolo County Superior Courthouse (Courthouse)

Dear Mr. Harris

Thank you for your interest and concern relative to Americans Disabilities Act (ADA), and its applicability to the above Courthouse as expressed in your letter to the Judicial Council of California (JCC) ADA coordinator, Ms. Linda McCulloh. I would like to advise you that the plans for this building were developed under the regulations set forth in the 2010 California Building Code (CBC), and the accessibility requirements in the CBC while in conformance with the ADA, in some instances are more stringent. As with all of our Projects, the plans for this project were submitted for approval to the compliance unit within the Division of the State Architect (DSA). We received such approval prior to construction.

Despite receiving such approval, the safety and concern for all of the visitors to the Courthouse is paramount for the Judicial Council of California, as well as the local Court. Prior to establishing the parking lots that you describe, much effort was made to determine that their location and path of travel was as close as possible to the entrance to the Courthouse. Obviously, as in many downtown areas, there is a limit to the number of sites available. In the case of this project we were able to find sites that did provide a path of travel over new and existing sidewalks. Unfortunately, we did not control or have the ability to clear a path of travel through the Railroad Museum site, contiguous to the northern boundary of what you refer to as “Lot A”.

However, notwithstanding the above DSA approval, and in support of making accessible accommodations as convenient as possible, we are in the process of adding one van accessible space parking space in “Lot A”. We also requested the City of Woodland Public Works Department to review the placing of stop signs at Sixth Street and Lincoln. After completing an engineering study, they have installed a stop sign at that location. We are also in the process of placing signage directing the pedestrian path of travel to hopefully preempt jaywalking. Other potential parking spaces are dependent on their availability and the City of Woodland’s enforcement policies over which we have no control.

Again, thank you for your interest in this matter and we will advise you when the additional space is available.


Loren “Mike” Smith, Project Manager

Judicial Council of California



Honorable Kathleen M. White, Presiding Judge, Yolo County Superior Court

Mr. Shawn C. Landry, Court Executive Officer, Yolo County Superior Court

Mr. Matt Rexroad, Chairman, Yolo County Board of Supervisors

Mr. Patrick S. Blacklock, County Administrator, Yolo County

Mr. Tom Stallard, Mayor, City of Woodland

Mr. Paul Navazio, City Manager, City of Woodland

Mr. Martin Hoshino, Administrative Director, Judicial Council of California

Mr. Bill Guerin, Director, Capital Programs, Judicial Council of California



(Editor’s note — this is an Open Letter to City of Woodland Planning Commission.)

City Of Woodland Planning Commission Members:

The 38 acre Prudler Project (on East Street, adjacent to County Fair Mall (CFM)) is coming before you next Thursday, based on a September EIR from Raney Planning and Management, Inc..

As you are aware, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires consideration of a “range of reasonable alternatives to the proposed project” (CEQA Guidelines Section 15126.6[a], [f]), which may “substantially lessen” its various environmental effects.

For the Prudler Project, there are a mixed-use Environmental Impact Report (EIR) alternative and a reduced density EIR alternative — both of which are relatively suspect choices for EIR alternatives — since continued commercial zoning on this parcel (once set aside for a “Phase Two” of CFM (ponder that)), has already, long been generally dismissed; as well, the Prudler Project “Objective” of “not competing” with County Fair Mall — is directly contradictory to any re-installation of commercial zoning on this parcel.

Also, Project developers have no good reason for wanting to reduce density below 5 units per acre (to 3.3/acre), nor any good reason to believe the city will ever insist on an even lower density than what they desire.  While this particular alternative should indeed (for planning perspective) be included and considered, it is essentially a second EIR-alternative strawman, alongside the mixed-use alternative.

These are pretty curious choices for an EIR alternatives analysis; since: Where is the increased density EIR alternative?!

Although obvious that the reduced density alternative will create less environmental effects – short term – it is not so clear that this is the case – long term.

In fact, this very (city planning) subject has arisen before.

Urban Limit Line Ordinance

City voters have long ago adopted an election ballot measure creating an Urban Limit Line Ordinance.

Providing profound gravity for the imperative of including an increased density EIR alternative of the Prudler Project, is the fundamental need to address the city’s Urban Limit Line Ordinance, so as not to be leaving expanding problems and issues of the (even currently) urgent need for higher densities . . . off into an unknown future — which is an apparently unanalyzed environmental effect / impact of this Project.

The city’s Urban Limit Line Ordinance is a (2006) ballot derived measure, directed to: Ensuring that the city is continually evaluating the potential for increased residential densities within all significant projects, such as the Prudler Project.

Certainly, such voter originated policy should not be (somehow) implemented under the city floorboards (as I’ve previously been advised by city planning staff, may indeed be occurring); rather, implementation / application of this Ordinance must be a formal component / element related to all significant residential (or commercial) projects.

A decade has passed since the city’s Urban Limit Line Ordinance was voter-adopted; yet (perhaps somewhat due to economic conditions), it has not seen the light of day within city policy until the currently active (2035) re-iteration of the city’s General Plan.

Apparently, there is no reference, at all, to the city’s Urban Limit Line Ordinance within the EIR for the Prudler Project.  Application of this Ordinance would obviously have fostered inclusion of an increased density alternative within the EIR for the Prudler Project.

Prudler Project Objectives

All Prudler Project “Objectives” (possessing significant legal recognition under CEQA) would plainly be in harmony with consideration of an increased density version of EIR alternative.

Local ballot-based law mandating such consideration, with project objectives being consistent, involving such a relevant / pivotal parcel (please see below) — all three facts argue for the presentation of an increased density EIR alternative.

Yet, it was not included within the Project EIR.  Could this odd lacuna be due to the Project proponent (developers) simply not wanting to have, to consider or to properly evaluate any increased density alternative?

A mixed-use EIR alternative was included for consideration, despite the fact that it sharply conflicts with Prudler Project “Objectives”, likely included because the developers anticipate its being found unacceptable, alongside the reduced density alternative, simply strawman types of alternatives, not essentially competing within the overall EIR analysis — against the developers’ desired project concept.

“Alternatives analysis” is the primary foundation / vehicle / venue of public policymaking under CEQA and reasonable comportment demands consideration of truly reasonable alternatives, not strawman alternatives which actually displace genuine and proper alternatives, such as, in the present situation – due to absence of consideration of an increased density EIR alternative.

Key Parcel For City Urbanization

This parcel occupies a very key location, between CFM and the city’s civic complex & sports park, adjacent to the city’s East Street Corridor (Specific Plan Area) — long directed toward attempting to advance proximate urbanization.

As well, this parcel is very easily accessible to public transportation — quite nearby the very hub of local and regional bus service at CFM, with convenient, regular routes passing by it on a daily (~hourly) basis.

With about 70% of Spring Lake Specific Plan yet to even be built out: Why does this city need yet another round of such low density, Spring Lake type development upon this key, easily urbanizable parcel, a parcel so clearly susceptible to the longstanding zoning percept of promoting the “highest and best use” of property?

Such a civically useful, higher density EIR alternative seems to have been carefully avoided, because of city catering to these recent developers; when, this original project (a first foot in the door, regarding altering what was long ago perceived as excessive commercial zoning nearby CFM) was focused upon —  fairly affordable — senior housing (for which there remains a great local need).

The existing range of EIR alternatives for the Prudler Project is unreasonable.

City In Concert With Developers, Attempting CEQA Circumvention

The city is attempting to again (along with the example of Spring Lake Central Project, now the subject of preliminary litigation for similar reasons) unlawfully promulgate a broad and essentially unexamined (by CEQA EIR) expansion of: Low density, large lot development (for the wealthy), which so very few folk can afford, exacerbating our locally pivotal homeownership divide.

Seriously adverse and unlawful zoning decisions will exist, by the Planning Commission accepting this starkly flawed Prudler Project EIR, which is positioned directly against the city-designated concept of promoting: “Life-cycle housing,” set forth within the (adjacent and here quoted) Spring Lake Housing Element,  reflecting General Plan principles.

Fiscally, would not the city make added (needed) development fees by approving increased densities?

According to city officials, the city loses about $100,000 per acre by lowering densities from 15 to 8 units per acre.  If the city goal is to raise development-fee revenue, why is it not considering an increased density EIR alternative for the Prudler Project?

All things considered, we have a suspicious and untenable situation involved with Planning Commission consideration of the present (flawed) EIR for the Prudler Project, since it lacks an increased density alternative, which would “substantially lessen” (CEQA Guidelines Section 15126.6[b], [c]) numerous, overall, long-range, environmental effects / impacts (such as related to: city infrastructure efficiencies, public-transportation / pedestrian accessibility, public-transportation reinforcement, preservation of open space, compact development (lesser sprawl), important issues of CFM commercial viability, provision of affordable housing and affordable homeownership, etc.), as well as formally and properly implementing the city’s Urban Limit Line Ordinance.

You must reject this flawed Prudler Project EIR and direct city staff to prepare a lawfully acceptable EIR, which includes an increased density alternative.


Bobby Harris


Woodland City Council has provided millions of dollars of developer subsidies at Spring Lake Specific Plan, millions of dollars which would otherwise be required to be spent for affordable homes within the Plan.

These city subsidies, millions of dollars going into developers’ pockets, involve its affordable housing program and inclusionary zoning ordinance.

Alongside these massive and questionable city subsidies, a municipal code section directly related to these matters has mysteriously disappeared; while, transparency is clearly achieved regarding the city’s stark equivocations about the feasibility of affordable homeownership at Spring Lake.

Two Spring Lake Projects’ Inclusionary Zoning Postures

Woodland City Council approved two Spring Lake projects on May 5, 2015.

Spring Lake Central Project is 105 aces, with 375 single-family homes and 232 apartments on 9 acres; Cal West – Optimistic Partners Project is 45 acres, with 225 single-family homes, 190 of which are counted for purposes of the city’s inclusionary zoning law (Municipal Code Chapter 6A-5-20).

Inclusionary zoning, also known as inclusionary housing, is an American term which refers to municipal and county planning ordinances that require a given share of new construction to be affordable by people with low to moderate incomes. Woodland’s ordinance allows the City Council to adopt a proportion of either 10% or 20%; currently, 10% is the law.

With a slight concession, in the midst of receiving immense and unreasonable city largesse, the developers of Spring Lake Central Project accepted that 41 affordable homes must be provided at the revised Project, since it was reducing overall residential densities.

Cal West – Optimistic Partners Project is required to produce 19 affordable homes.

In-Lieu Fees And City Housing Issues

What’s known as “in-lieu fees” can be paid by developers – in lieu of – building affordable homes — if the city “demonstrates” with “substantial evidence that there is no feasible alternative” to using such fees, in other words — that affordable homes are not feasible to construct and sell.

However, the city has not engaged in any such “demonstration” of “no feasible alternative” to these in-lieu fees (Municipal Code, Chapter 6A-5-20(d)).  The city has failed to respond to repeated requests by Yolo Sun for whatever material (“substantial,” according to city law) evidence exists to believe the city has made and adopted such a formal “demonstration” of the infeasibility of affordable homes in Spring Lake.

The city has created a sliding-scale formula for assigning in-lieu fees, matched to housing densities, resulting in $1.59 million in funding which the city intends to use for facilitation of rental-housing projects, in direct violation of numerous provisions and regulations of the Spring Lake Housing Element (please see prior Yolo Sun article regarding legal Notice to Woodland City Council).

$1.59 Million For Rentals, Or $8 Million For Affordable Homes

The city’s inclusionary zoning law uses an outdated illustration of its mandate, relating the requirement of spanning the “affordability gap,” then estimated to be ~$100,000, based on a home cost of $250,000.  Cost of Spring Lake Central homes will begin around $450,000; so, today’s “affordability gap” would probably be more like $200,000 and up.

41 affordable homes would easily amount to well over $8 million of mandated developer resources required to be used for affordable home construction at Spring Lake Central Project.

Instead, Woodland City Council has chosen to accept only $1.59 million of in-lieu fees from these developers, for illegal use with rental-housing projects, based on obvious, numerous and fundamental violations of city law.

Thus, the city has lost about $6.4 million on this deal, overall, although unlawful prioritization of rental-housing greatly aggravates this situation.

Feasible In One Project, Proven Infeasible In The Other?

Interestingly, the Cal West – Optimistic Partners Project has an “option,” approved by the city council, of either paying in-lieu fees or building affordable homes.

In other words, the city council believes that affordable homes are indeed feasible within a nearby location at Spring Lake — just not in the Spring Lake Central Project — where it must be “demonstrated” as infeasible to lawfully collect $1.59 million of in-lieu fees, which the city desires for its (unlawful) use to promote rental housing.

Well, which is it, feasible or infeasible?

Also, how is it that Cal West – Optimistic Partners Project can ride the legal fence with inclusionary zoning?

City law requires that only it (the city) may initiate use of in-lieu fees and only where affordable homes are proven to be infeasible.  Here, the city seems to have (unlawfully) delegated to developers its basic authority, improperly ceding to developers’ “option,” its own role of determining the feasibility of affordable homeownership.

Clearly, legal inconsistency appears in this situation.  In-lieu fees being allowed, piecemeal, while the feasibility of affordable homes also exists — directly contradicts the city’s inclusionary zoning law.  The city is playing fast and loose with its housing law.

Transparent prevarication by the Woodland City Council is surely revealed by such multiple, bald equivocations about the feasibility of affordable homes at Spring Lake.

City Disappears Key Code Section

Alongside these calamities against public interest, is the fact that a directly relevant municipal code section (to in-lieu fees) has simply disappeared.

The missing code section is: 6A-3-50(B)(2)(a).  Inquiry to the city clerk indicates an empty folder, where the paper copy of this section would / should be, and it is not listed within the city’s municipal code.

Yolo Sun has repeatedly requested the city to resolve this strange mystery, to no avail.

This key code section is specifically referred to within the Spring Lake Housing Element as being the basis for city determinations that affordable homes are somehow found “not suitable” in a particular project; but where, “there is certainty that the required units for which the in-lieu fees are being paid will actually be built on a designated site in the proximate area, in a timely fashion consistent with the Ordinance and Specific Plan.” (Spring Lake Specific Plan Housing Element, Regulation 3-6.)

Since the city intends to use this $1.59 million from Spring Lake Central Project for the (clearly unlawful) purpose of facilitating rental housing, such a municipal code provision would be a hard obstacle.  Of course, the city has attempted to avoid a dense fabric of other obstacles, by simply ignoring them; perhaps, this one more was too many.

The question is: What actually happened to this key code section?

It has not been repealed and plainly was once on the books.  Its disappearance is fairly suspicious, as well as potentially affecting in-lieu fee related housing policy recently adopted by the city council.

It was pivotally referred to in the city staff report relevant to removal of the 50-unit (project) cap from the overall ordinance process for in-lieu fees.

Until June, 2014, city law recognized that use of in-lieu fees within large projects would defeat the basic purpose of inclusionary zoning.

Based on this disappearing code section, city council action erasing this 50-unit cap, if challenged, would likely become null and void.


This self-explanatory Notice (per state Government Code Section 65009(d)), prepared by Yolo Sun‘s editor, is filed with City of Woodland on September 8.

Legal process involved, is that the City has 60 days to respond to this Notice; thereafter, its causes of action will accrue and 180 days are allowed to file a formal lawsuit.



September 8, 2015; Page 1 of 8

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN — Pursuant to California Government Code Section 65009(d) — Woodland City Council approval of the Spring Lake Central Project is in violation Government Code Sections: 65913(a)(2, 3), 65913.2(a), 65864(b), 65866 and 65867.5(b).

This NOTICE specifies in pertinent detail issues raised by City of Woodland resident, Bobby Harris, within his testimony expressing general concerns and disputes about its deficiencies regarding affordable homeownership, related to Woodland City Council action on May 5, 2015, approving an adversely revised / amended Spring Lake Central Project.

Specification of Deficiencies

Deficiencies include:

(a) Imposition of planning design criteria (Government Code, Section 66418(5, 9)) for purpose of “rendering infeasible” development of proper dwellings for economic segments of this community requiring / desiring affordable homeownership (Government Code, Section 65913.2(a));

(b) Imposition of planning design criteria (Government Code, Sections 65913.2(a), 66418(5, 9)) for purpose of disabling and circumventing City of Woodland’s inclusionary zoning ordinance, wherein such developmental infeasibility (item (a), above) triggers collection of in-lieu fees (Woodland Municipal Code, Chapter 6A-5-20(d)(1)), intending the unlawful diversion of in-lieu fees thereby obtained (involving multiple violations of Spring Lake Specific Plan Housing Element; please see Descriptive Narrative, below), from supporting provision of local affordable homeownership opportunities, to uses outside of the legal nexus for such fee collection, assisting local rental-housing development;

Notice to Woodland City Council

September 8, 2015

Page 2 of 8

(c) Failure of City of Woodland to make a “diligent effort” (Government Code, Section 65913(a)(2, 3)), through its administration of land use and developmental controls and the provision of regulatory concessions and incentives, to significantly reduce housing development costs and thereby facilitate the development of affordable homeownership;

(d) Elimination from the Spring Lake Central Project of zoning categories for 15 and 20 dwelling units to the acre (item (a), above), the only zoning categories reasonably accessible / available for affordable homeownership;

(e) Avoidance by the City (item (a), above) of feasibly using “small lot development” (Woodland General Plan Housing Element, pp. 80-81), the City’s use of which is purportedly designed / intended to increase feasibility of affordable homeownership by significantly reducing development costs;

(f) Violation by the City’s Spring Lake Central Project Development Agreement, of Government Code, Sections 65864(b), 65866 and 65867.5(b), resulting from item (b), above.

Descriptive Narrative

“The SLSP [Spring Lake Specific Plan] is intended to be a ‘life-cycle’ community,” indicates its Housing Element (Section 3 of the Plan): “Life-cycle housing” means that “people can, theoretically, remain in or near their neighborhood their whole life[, through]: “Diversity in housing stock[.]”

“Life-cycle housing [leading the SLSP Housing Element’s presentation] makes good business sense,” it continues; “[b]y tapping many market segments, land absorption occurs more rapidly, which is a factor in increased developer profit. Diverse housing creates its own demand as families move up through the market. [  ] The social network (what is often referred to as ‘small town’ atmosphere) can remain intact, as children, adults and seniors all live within a neighborhood.”

This Notice pertains to the fact that Woodland City Council approval of Spring Lake Central Project starkly abandons this basic SLSP percept.

Notice to Woodland City Council

September 8, 2015

Page 3 of 8

The SLSP Housing Element plainly states (p. 3-5) that: “Since the multi-family / single-family split is already built into the Specific Plan planned land uses, the affordability requirements are achieved on [  ] a project-by project basis, based on the density category of the project.”

Thus, SLSP projects must be independently designed expressions of its central theme of establishing “life-cycle housing.”  Obviously, Spring Lake Central Project fails to satisfy this “intention” of SLSP Housing Element, because it extinguishes all opportunity for affordable homeownership.

Moreover, collection of in-lieu (of building affordable, for-sale homes) fees is being formulated and designed for diversion away from opportunities for affordable homeownership, toward municipal support for rental housing.

Woodland City Council has violated Woodland Municipal Code, Chapter 6A-5-20(d)(1), by failing to satisfy its fundamental provision: “Only the city may initiate this in-lieu fee option and only where it is demonstrated based on substantial evidence that there is no feasible alternative.” (Emphasis added.)

There exists no such infeasibility “demonstrat[ion] based on substantial evidence,” related to City of Woodland’s inclusionary zoning ordinance and policies to create affordable homeownership.

Thus, Woodland City Council approval of Spring Lake Central Project also violates SLSP Housing Element Regulation 3.6, which demands such a “demonstrat[ion],” as well as mandating : “[C]ertainty that the required units for which the in-lieu fees are being paid will actually be built on a designated site in the proximate area, in a timely fashion consistent with the Ordinance and Specific Plan,” contrary to the city’s plan of in-lieu fee use for rental housing.

Purportedly, the SLSP Housing Element “encourages the construction of [affordable] types of housing products, rather than traditional ‘garden-style’ apartments, which are often the only type seen in multi-family densities.” (SLSP Housing Element, p. 3-6.). This policy fails, due to items (a) and (b), above.

Notice to Woodland City Council

September 8, 2015

Page 4 of 8

With regard to affordable homeownership in a “life-cycle community,” SLSP Housing Element Regulation 3.8 is also violated by Woodland City Council approval of Spring Lake Central Project: “Notwithstanding whatever programs / methods are ultimately used to implement the affordable housing obligation, the required end result is that the calculated number of affordable units will be built in a timely fashion and be spread throughout the Plan area, including throughout each neighborhood.”

Specifically noting affordable homeownership opportunities, SLSP Housing Element Regulation 3.11 demands that: “The affordability requirement for each project [ ] is to be met on the project site to the greatest feasible degree.”

Since Woodland City Council approval of Spring Lake Central Project has violated its Municipal Code, Chapter 6A-5-20(d)(1), by failing to satisfy its fundamental provision: “Only the city may initiate this in-lieu fee option and only where it is demonstrated based on substantial evidence that there is no feasible alternative[,]” (emphasis added), such approval clearly violates SLSP Housing Element Regulation 3.11.

In addition, SLSP Housing Element Regulation 3.14 is violated by Woodland City Council approval of Spring Lake Central Project: “Affordable units shall be the same ownership-type as the base units that generate the need (e.g., for-sale for for-sale, rental for rental).”

Woodland City Council obviously contemplates using in-lieu fee money, derived from for-sale units, for application to rental units, by approving a particular formula for this purpose, plainly abridging the requirement of Regulation 3.14, about no mixing of “base units” (for-sale / rental units).

Such an unlawful purpose of in-lieu fee diversion displays a prominent motivation: Establishment of an unlawful ‘slush-fund,’ to be used at the utter discretion of Woodland City Council, for the purpose of fiscal support for various rental housing projects, under influence of meeting its regional housing allocations under adverse circumstances created by the State of California’s repeal of redevelopment authority.

Notice to Woodland City Council

September 8, 2015

Page 5 of 8

Spring Lake Central Project starkly fails to embody the bedrock objectives of SLSP Housing Element — (H-1)  “Offer housing for all segments of the population;  (H-2)  Offer a true mix of types of housing product and density of housing.”

SLSP Objective (H-2) — emphasizes — that there must be a “true” mix of housing product and densities, not the inadequate mix of expensive homes and “garden apartments,” approved within Spring Lake Central Project.

Fundamentally creating and controlling these multiple violations, of the SLSP Housing Element and of Woodland Municipal Code, Chapter 6A-5-20(d)(1)) is: Deficiency (a), above: Imposition of planning design criteria (Government Code, Section 66418(5, 9)) for purpose of “rendering infeasible” development of proper dwellings for economic segments of this community requiring / desiring affordable homeownership (Government Code, Section 65913.2(a)).

Lot and unit size and configurations are, of course, paramount to providing affordable housing. Minimum lot sizes within SLSP are 2904 square feet (R-15) and 2178 square feet (R-20/R-25) (minimum lot widths of 30 and 40 feet). By the city’s “small lot development” regulations, however, these apparently minimum lot sizes seem limited to only “small lot subdivisions,” likely not useful for dispersing smaller units into a “true mix” of housing products, as intended by SLSP Housing Element (Objective H-2). Minimum unit size is 850 square feet. Maximum lot coverage is 50%.

Contrast these SLSP requirements with the minimum lot size under Los Angeles’ Small-Lot Development Ordinance: 600 square feet, with a 16 foot widthMaximum lot coverage is 80%. Such pivotal innovations are implied by the Housing Element — in its rhetoric, but missing in its process.

It is indisputably evident that City of Woodland has imposed design criteria, “render[ing] infeasible” all reasonable ability for development of affordable homeownership in Spring Lake Specific Plan and its (SL) Central Project. Affordability is, at its root, governed by lot size and coverage and unit size.

Notice to Woodland City Council

September 8, 2015

Page 6 of 8

The SLSP Housing Element (p. 3-6) outlines a “wide range” of zoning, from three to twenty-five units to an acre, which “will enable a variety of housing products.”  However, within all zoning categories reasonable for affordable homeownership, such products are limited by design criteria (lot size and coverage and dwelling size), unlawfully “rendering infeasible” this provision of the Housing Element (Government Code, Section 65913.2(a)), directed to ensuring all economic sectors / interests of the community have access.

SLSP already deviates from the citywide goal of 35% (lowered to 29%, to accommodate added “estate-style” homes) of units being within the “multi-family” categories (15 -25 units to an acre), the only residential zoning categories reasonably accessible for affordable homeownership.

This deviation is accomplished by use of a fee-based fund on housing projects, resulting in the creation of 74 “off-site” rental units. (SLSP Housing Element, pp. 3-2, 3-3, 3-5, 3-8, 3-10.)  In this regard, a broader platform of inclusionary zoning at SLSP has already been significantly compromised, (pre)-shifted toward lower densities, with less room for affordable homes.

Spring Lake Central Project represents a total abandonment of affordable homeownership, predicated on violations of city law and policies related to the key concept of “feasibility,” by unlawful imposition of design criteria.

Also, “Because of the features built into the Plan to increase affordability “by design” [  ] the City has concluded that the market will result in moderate income units without the need for specific requirements in the Plan. As such, Plan achieves consistency with the General Plan with regard to moderate units through development regulations and site-design requirements.” (SLSP Housing Element, pp. 3-3, 3-5, 3-6.)  References here appear related to rental housing, not to affordable homeownership.

Apparently, homeownership for anyone not within upper-income economic classes, has become infeasible; while ironically, the city purports that its “design” criteria will somehow “increase [ ] affordability.” Design criteria and feasibility are inextricably relevant to affordable homeownership, of course.

Notice to Woodland City Council

September 8, 2015

Page 7 of 8

Here involved, is the fact of the city’s relevantly fundamental design criteria: (a) minimum lot size, (b) maximum lot coverage, (c) minimum unit size, all adversely contributing to thus unavoidable practical circumstances, wherein affordable homeownership has been “render[ed] infeasible,” obviously contrary to the intent of Government Code, Section 65913.2(a).

Such “infeasibility” of affordable homeownership, though, while thus caused by the city — also has been unlawfully assumed by the city — with its blunt abridgement of its municipal code (Chapter 6A, noted above).

The city is “rendering infeasible” affordable homeownership at Spring Lake Central Project, through its imposition of unreasonable design criteria in violation of state law, in a way which also violates the city’s bedrock housing law and policies relevant to “feasibility” of development of affordable homeownership.  One may even reverse the arbitrary (and capricious) order of these tightly interwoven legal calamities.

It appears that: If Woodland City Council had ever actually undertaken, in earnest, to provide the nature of formal City “demonstrat[ion],” demanded by its own housing ordinance, such an exercise would tend to reveal the profound failure of its essential design criteria to perform toward facilitating affordable homeownership, and such a paradigm shift of understanding may have predicated reform, as moved within instant causes of action.

Feasibility of local homeownership and governmental accountability merge as goals of instant causes of action, in harmony with state law.

Additionally, another compound state law – city law violation exists, in that Government Code Sections: 65864(b), 65866 and 65867.5(b), which govern city development agreements, require that such agreements be consistent with local law / ordinances. Since the city has violated its municipal code (Chapter 6A), through its Spring Lake Central Project Development Agreement (by unlawfully invoking collection of in-lieu fees), as well as violating its housing policies and regulations, directly relevant violations of state law accrue in conjunction with instant causes of action.

Notice to Woodland City Council

September 8, 2015

Page 8 of 8

Acceding to development agreements which violate city policies and state law likely involves multiple motivations for the city – (a) establishment of a ‘slush-fund’ for use in meeting its regional housing allocations with respect to rental housing; (b) accelerated collection of SLSP development fees connected to overleveraged debt, presently paid by annually using about $2 million (a third) of city sales-tax revenue; (c) general and various local pressures to best accelerate long-overdue SLSP development, in order to eventually move forward subsequent city developmental plans / intentions.

However, although thus motivated to accelerate SLSP development, according to senior city officials, altering zoning from 15 to 8 units an acres, as occurred within this adverse revision of Spring Lake Central Project, actually loses the city about $100,000 per acre in development fees.

Both the city and Spring Lake Central Project Developers have distinct motivations related to using design criteria for “rendering infeasible” development of affordable homeownership. Although SLSP’s Housing Element declares that the concept of “life-cycle housing makes good business sense,” these developers are strongly wedded to out dated, traditional, cookie-cutter, subdivision formats and strongly disinclined to productively receive purported “encouragement” from the city toward up-dating their views — especially when city rhetoric is gravely undermined by imposition of design criteria “rendering infeasible” such very development.

Conflict over such relevant design criteria, between the city and Spring Lake Central Project developers, is thus no (essential) ingredient of the city’s violation of Government Code Sections 65913(a)(2, 3), 65913.2(a). Imposition of unreasonable (and unlawful) design criteria by the city, in the context of development of affordable homeownership, with assent and collusion of relevant developers, might even be of a more common mold, than that of city – developer conflict.  Either way, it injures public interest.

Inclusionary zoning is a valuable tool for civic equity and social cohesion of communities; it is not a convenient fount of funds to further what is fast evolving into a fundamentally, structurally reinforced, economic chasm within our community.



The new Yolo County Courthouse is scheduled to begin initial operations on Monday, August 24, 2015.

However, an investigation by Yolo Sun has discovered a number of serious, even glaring deficiencies related its compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).

These deficiencies have recently been brought to the attention of relevant officials at various levels of responsibility for the new Yolo County Courthouse, by means of the six-page letter from Yolo Sun‘s editor, published below:

August 19, 2015


Ms. Linda McCulloh

ADA Coordinator

Judicial Council of California

455 Golden Gate Avenue

San Francisco, CA 94102-3688


Ms. Julie Ann Burton

ADA Coordinator

Yolo County Superior Court

725 Court Street, Room 102

Woodland, CA 95695


Dear Ms. McCulloh, Dear Ms. Burton:

With the new Yolo County Courthouse scheduled to officially open next week, I want to bring to your attention some serious deficiencies made in parking for disabled persons. These deficiencies include violations in the number of disabled parking spaces; distance from disabled parking to the Courthouse; and serious pedestrian traffic hazards between the parking lots and the Courthouse. I believe all of these issues involve violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

For recipients if this letter who may not be familiar with public parking for the new Courthouse, let me describe the layout. The Courthouse itself fills the entire block on Main Street in Woodland between Fifth and Sixth Streets. The Courthouse faces Main Street and a secure, employee parking lot is directly behind the building. The Woodland Police Department fills the entire block directly south of the Courthouse.

Public parking for the Courthouse is provided in two separate lots located on Sixth Street two and three blocks south of the Courthouse. Land for


these lots was purchased from Union Pacific Railroad and is situated on the opposite (east) side of Sixth Street from the Courthouse. Lot A is closer to the Courthouse and is on the north side of the intersection of Sixth Street and Oak Avenue. Oak itself is two blocks from Main Street. The second Lot B is still farther from the Courthouse south of the intersection of Sixth and Oak. Public disabled parking for the Courthouse has been consolidated for both lots in the southwest corner of Lot A.

Following are the perceived deficiencies with the disabled parking that is being provided:

Violation of number of spaces for persons with disabilities

The ADA allows disabled parking for separate lots to be grouped together in one lot so long as the number of spaces is determined according to each of the separate parking facilities. The Courthouse has done this and is providing a total of eight disabled parking spaces in Lot A. Seven of these are regular disabled parking spaces and one is van accessible. However, based upon a total of 65 parking spaces in Lot A and 171 in Lot B, the ADA requires a total of nine disabled parking spaces for both lots (three for Lot A and six for Lot B). Furthermore, the ADA also requires that one of every six disabled parking spaces, or fraction thereof, must be “van-accessible.” Lot A contains only one van accessible parking space and based upon nine overall spaces, Lot A is supposed to have not one, but two, van accessible spaces. So, the Courthouse needs to add one more disabled parking space and it must be van accessible.

(See: Section 208.2 Minimum Number of Parking Spaces; 2010 Standards for Title II and III Facilities: 2004 ADAAG—ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities; also ADA Update: A Primer for State & Local Governments. US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division)

Unfortunately, this oversight cannot be corrected by simply restriping one of the existing disabled spaces. Van accessible spaces require wider space alongside the van, as well as direct access of a designated width to a sidewalk so as to avoid people in a wheelchair having to travel in traffic areas and behind parked vehicles.


Distance from Courthouse

As noted above, disabled parking is located in the southwest corner of Lot A, at the corner of Sixth and Oak. This places it a full two and a half blocks from the entrance to the Courthouse. While the ADA does not prescribe fixed distances between disabled parking and the building it serves, it does say that “(p)arking space that serves a particular building…shall be located on the shortest accessible route from parking to an entrance….”

(See: Section 208.3 Location; 2010 Standards for Title II and III Facilities: 2004 ADAAG—ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities)

Considering that disabled persons typically suffer from mobility and respiratory problems, requiring them to walk two and a half blocks does not seem reasonable. In fact, most disabled persons will have to walk even farther than two and a half blocks, since all persons using Lot A will first have to walk in a southerly direction away from the Courthouse in order to cross Sixth Street at the intersection with Oak. This brings up the serious issue of traffic hazards between the parking lots and the Courthouse.

Traffic hazards

Regardless of where they park in Lots A and B, all pedestrians—including the disabled—will be forced to cross at the intersection of Sixth and Oak to get to the west side of Sixth. This is the only sidewalk that goes from the parking lots to the Courthouse. The sidewalk on the parking lot (east) side of Sixth doesn’t extend beyond the edge of Lot A itself. A metal barrier has been placed there and beyond the end of the sidewalk is a dirt lot.

It’s obvious that there will be a temptation for all pedestrians—disabled and otherwise—to avoid first walking considerable distances away from the Courthouse in order to legally cross the intersection of Sixth and Oak, only to have to double back toward the Courthouse on the opposite side of Sixth. Instead, pedestrians will be tempted to walk across the planting strip surrounding Lot A or exit against traffic at the parking lot entrance on Sixth and then to jaywalk across Sixth Street directly in front of the Police Station. This would be not only illegal, but dangerous as well.


Assuming pedestrians—including the disabled—follow the signs and cross at the intersection of Sixth and Oak, they face a number of serious traffic hazards along the way to the Courthouse. First, there are no stop signs on Oak Avenue, so traffic will be turning onto Sixth Street without having to stop while pedestrians are crossing Sixth. Worse yet, all pedestrians from Lot B will have to cross both Sixth Street and Oak Avenue without traffic on Oak having to stop.

Second, all pedestrians will have to cross two employee parking lot entrances on the west side of Sixth –one at the Police Station and the other at the Courthouse itself. This, too, is something the ADA strongly discourages.

Finally, all pedestrians from both lots—including the disabled—will have to cross Lincoln Avenue, directly behind the Courthouse, without the benefit of any stop signs on Lincoln. Needless to say, this is extremely dangerous given the fact that the Courthouse itself will be generating increased traffic in the area and the public parking lot for the Police Station is adjacent to the intersection of Sixth and Lincoln.

Possible solutions

I don’t want to point out problems without offering some possible solutions.

Regarding the absence of stop signs on both Oak and Lincoln, the City of Woodland should consider adding them immediately, along with painted pedestrian crosswalks at both intersections.

In order to significantly shorten the distance that disabled persons must travel from parking lot to Courthouse, immediate consideration should be given to relocating the required disabled parking to one of the following locations: (1) Part of the lawn area directly in front of the Courthouse; (2) Renting space in the parking lot at the Wiseman Building across from the Courthouse; or (3) Rent/borrow excess space available in the parking lot of the Woodland District Office of Education building also across from the Courthouse.


The impetus for the investigation that has led to this letter was information unveiled at the Woodland City Council meeting on July 7, 2015, when it passed an ordinance establishing a Preferential Parking Area in the vicinity of the new Courthouse. This was a perfectly understandable effort by the City to preserve on-street parking for residents and businesses in the area from encroachment by visitors to the Courthouse.

In preparation for the Council hearing, a map was presented showing the two remote public parking lots, as well as restricted on-street parking surrounding the Courthouse. Most of this restricted parking is set aside for public safety vehicles and certain County officials. Despite the preparations that were being made for preferential, non-public parking near the Courthouse, it was apparent that no one at the City of Woodland level was giving serious thought to parking needs of the disabled. While it was probably never the City’s responsibility in the first place, in response to questions by Council members City staff wrote off the problem by noting that vehicles with disabled parking placards and license plates are allowed to park almost anywhere on city streets or at meters without restriction, including time limits. While it wasn’t mentioned at the hearing, the law also allows disabled vehicles to park without restriction within the newly established Preferential Parking Area. The only places where disabled vehicles cannot park is in white and yellow loading zones and in red no parking zones.

This somewhat unsatisfactory discussion of disabled parking issues led us to begin inquiring just what serious provisions were being made for ADA-compliant disabled parking. The first thing we learned is that the Judicial Council of California is responsible for construction of the Courthouse, purchase and construction of the parking lots and adherence to the ADA. However. Since the City is responsible for traffic and parking on city streets and Yolo County has assumed responsibility for issuing parking permits within the Preferential Parking Area, this letter is being sent to individuals at all levels of responsibility for the new Courthouse.

The ADA celebrated its 25th anniversary just last month and there is no denying the positive benefits it has had in bringing disabled persons into greater participation in public life. Those responsible for our new Courthouse need to seriously reconsider and correct some of the impediments that are


now apparent. I would appreciate being kept informed of progress along these lines.


Bobby Harris

cc: Martin Hoshino

Administrative Director, Judicial Council of California

Honorable Kathleen M. White

Presiding Judge, Yolo County Superior Court

Shawn C. Landry

Court Executive Officer, Yolo County Superior Court

Matt Rexroad

Chairman, Yolo County Board of Supervisors

Patrick S. Blacklock

County Administrator, Yolo County

Tom Stallard

Mayor, City of Woodland

Paul Navazio

City Manager, City of Woodland




Its business since the Great Recession being only “break-even,” Pearson’s Appliance will close its doors in mid-August.

Pearson’s Appliance has been a solid fixture at Second and Main Streets in Woodland, for decades, leaving behind a very large, vacant downtown storefront smack in the middle of this City, again illustrating a continually reoccurring syndrome of a chronically gap-toothed Main Street.

So, what happened?  It’s easy to understand; it’s the same thing that happened to downtown Cranston’s Hardware fifteen years ago. Don and Patty Manhart, then operating Cranston’s, plainly said that because Orchard Supply and Hardware and Home Depot had opened on East Main Street, Cranston’s would soon have to close, because the wholesale margins were not competitive.

Enormous, chain-based retail corporations, Orchard Supply and Hardware and Home Depot bought hundreds, of which Cranston’s bought dozens.  Although Cranston’s provided often needed expertise and loyal (legendary) customer service, it could not match new pricing margins being commercially permitted within proliferating commercial districts, outside of the city’s downtown.

As Don and Patty Manhart clearly knew, local folk would begin coming into Cranston’s to discover what they needed — and then easily go on over to its newly approved and uncompetitive competitors — to actually make their purchases.

Don and Patty certainly didn’t want to endure such approaching commercial atrocity, after so long a good run for Woodlanders.  So, they closed Cranston’s doors.

This hard lesson has lately been learned by Pearson’s Appliance.  Its employees describe the very same scene as the Manharts predicted would reoccur on Main Street, if the city council continued to approve peripheral development projects, most often chain-based retail businesses which discount knowledge / expertise and customer service, but undercut basic commercial margins of local merchants.

“People come here with their pads and pencils, trying to discover what to do [with various appliance needs],” indicates an employee of Pearson’s; “but, after we help them understand what they need to know, they go on over to” the large. chain-based stores, “to save a hundred dollars.”

These huge chain-based stores often “don’t have people with enough actual experience with these products (of which Pearson’s inventories a great variety); they just stock a few popular products, but buy them at a margin we can’t compete with,” expresses a long-time employee.

Pearson’s is not giving up (only on Woodland); it’s soon opening a new store in Napa (where the commercial climate is better), as well as retaining its other existing store near Fairfield. Woodland is then left with another vast, downtown edifice in dire need of a purpose.

The owner of the downtown Sears store, the last remaining appliance shop on Main Street, has in the recent past said that if provided the right deal on Woodland’s periphery (like Gateway Center), he might consider a move from what would become yet another vast edifice, in dire need of a purpose.

What has happened to the pivotal and historical Cranston’s building?

It’s now become very quiet, seemingly perpetual insurance offices, obviously a severe downslide from the pedestrian traffic which Cranston’s used to provide. Downtown Main Street thrives on strong retail (and entertainment) businesses, not opaque offices, on its ground-floors.

Cranston’s had (has) a wonderful mezzanine, made to order for an ebullient Main Street; now however, it is abruptly ensconced outside of general downtown access, setting a quite awkward fashion of downtown devolution.

Of course, it is assumed that Woodland’s current Mayor, Tom Stallard (who owns this building as well as other downtown buildings) has done fiscally well to secure a long-term lease with this insurance outfit. Otherwise, as well, the downtown area may have become / remained even more gap-toothed.

Problems appear to arise, though, within the general political atmosphere of this City, for decades, involving achievement of a proper balance between Woodland’s downtown (historically) retail area and its commercial outskirts. Apparently, that’s why there is presently such an unappealing (inappropriate, service-oriented) tenancy in the historical Cranston’s building.

Woodland city planning documents are replete with terse announcements that the future of Woodland’s downtown area is destined to simply be antique / boutique shops and restaurants / entertainment venues.

Major retail is yet again being forced from Woodland’s downtown, because of decades of continuous commercial sprawl which has relentlessly undercut the City’s historical culture.

The basic question seems to be: Why did city councils over decades believe that some kind of “free market” (whatever that is) best dictates our intricate community complexion, that (historical) downtown commercial ventures based on devoted and expanded customer services (as opposed to corporate-margins) would not flourish amidst historical restaurant and entertainment options?

Of course, when the city council (~1991), based upon its “free market” type of political / civic ideology about local planning sense and entertainment uses, approved a new movie theater complex at County Fair Mall – far outside of the downtown area — the gradual slide into downtown ruin was bound to occur.

Sudden closure of Pearson’s Appliance, can now be seen the latest chapter in a long and sad saga of ongoing downtown blight, seemingly caused by the city’s inability to – weave together – local (historical) downtown commercial uses into a stable community fabric.

Some persons fault Woodland for not having a grid-like downtown (such as in Davis); it has to simply make do with a long Main Street. Well, interviews with many local folk reveal that — when there was still a thriving Main Street (until the 1980s) — they would walk up one side of downtown Main Street and then down the other, maybe making several rounds.

Vibrant Main Street atmosphere may someday rekindle such activities, but Pearson’s Appliance will be gone.


Interviews with several merchants within the two block span of Woodland Main Street surrounding Heritage Plaza (at Second Street) have revealed the City is meaningfully ignoring their previously filed letter — signed by fourteen (14) relevant merchants (please see below) — objecting to closure of Main Street between Second and Third Streets on Saturdays, until about 1 p. m., for purposes of locating the tiny and struggling Woodland Farmers’ Market.

One downtown business employee (born and raised in Woodland) couldn’t understand why the Farmers’ Market — with its presently (historically) slim profile — would not easily fit within the general Heritage Plaza area — going on to say that the Market’s abrupt closure of Main Street on Saturday mornings has definitely interfered with normal business traffic at a key time, indicating that  “many of our customers come here from Davis and we’ve had confusion and complaints about this situation,” during recent months.

Consequent to receiving this letter about a month ago, the city reopened Second Street just southerly of Main Street on these occasions, but closure of Main Street remains, between Second and Third Streets.

Downtown merchants recounted recent (yet slight) contact with City officials, confirming the City’s intention to rebuff affected, complaining merchants and allow closure of Main Street for locating the market, during the remainder of this season (through mid-October), despite Woodland Mayor Tom Stallard’s previously stated intention of perhaps finding “another solution.”

Upon Stallard’s prior remarks, one downtown merchant had already (weeks ago) commented: “He’s just B***S****** us, he won’t change a thing.  This is his baby.”

Also of great interest, it seems that some limited conversations between downtown merchants and City officials have revealed that the Woodland Farmers’ Market — manager — was supposed to – had agreed to – as a condition with the City, of this Main Street closure – have both polled affected downtown merchants about this proposal prior to its adoption / implementation and reported to the City with their responses and concerns.

No downtown merchants were ever so polled or advised by the market manager and it was a complete surprise to them when one Saturday morning in May — Main Street was suddenly closed to accommodate this market — according to several merchant accounts.

Apparently, Woodland City Hall officials never even followed up with the farmers’ market manager about such processes — upon which this Main Street closure was supposedly premised.

Clearly, neither the farmers’ market manager nor city hall fulfilled their (seemingly recognized) obligations toward the welfare of downtown merchants.

However, such significant failures of city policy and conduct will apparently not serve to deter the city from continuing on its course of further alienating these downtown merchants, who simply don’t believe there is any good reason for this Main Street closure.

Has this sort of thing happened before?

In 2012, a petition signed by thirty-six (36) downtown Main Street merchants (from Third to Elm Streets), directed toward then councilmember Stallard’s (council adopted) odd notion of painting downtown red curbs gray, was totally ignored by city hall.

These gray curbs led to a continuous calamity within downtown parking, warnings and citations — quadrupling — during the months following this sudden and confusing change to the downtown traffic system.

That petition, signed by the vast majority (36) of downtown Main Street merchants, was entirely ignored, swiftly disappearing into who knows where, similar to the instant case.

Today, fourteen (14) merchants upon only a few blocks of downtown Main Street are petitioning city hall for relief from its unnoticed and unnecessary (combined with its process failures — obviously unreasonable) closure of Main Street on Saturday mornings, when suitable alternatives clearly exist.

Downtown Merchants Endorsing The Letter To City Hall (published below):

The Gifted Penguin

Corner Drug Company

Oak Tree Antiques

Bella! Hair Salon

Jackson Medical Supply

Sweetie’s Café

Main Street Antiques

The House Dresser

The Cup and Saucer

Cascade Creations

Remember When Emporium

Dixie’s Paws and Claws

Woodland Gold and Sliver

Pearson’s Appliance

Letter to Woodland City Hall :

Being strong supporters and contributors to the economic wellbeing of Downtown Woodland, we would like to address the First to Third Main Street closure every Saturday from 6am to 1pm, sometimes later.  First, we must say we have been advocates of the Farmers Market and encouraged them to join us Downtown at Heritage Plaza.  However, we are strongly opposed to closing Main Street every Saturday.

This closure has severely impacted our sales and access to our businesses in the following ways:

  1. No customers, therefore no sales.
  2. No sales, therefore no sales tax revenue.
  3. No parking availability for two full blocks, barriers send customers off of Main Street away from businesses and a majority of our Saturday customers are those driving down Main Street.
  4. Allowing market vendors to park on Main Street obstructs the view of businesses from potential customers.
  5. Lunch time is generally the peak of Saturday business, Main Street being shut down until after 1pm has caused a massive decline in that business.
  6. Access to businesses is limited to walking traffic only and many of our customers are elderly and not highly mobile.
  7. There are no vendors between Second and First Street even though the street is closed.
  8. The market is small and does not draw a large number of customers.
  9. Market customers have proven that they generally only shop at the market and not our businesses.
  10. During summer the majority of our business is done in the morning when it is cooler, Main Street being shut down prevents much of this.

We are deeply offended that the city would make the important decision to close Main Street every Saturday through summer and into fall without any discussion with the businesses directly affected by the closure.  Also, none of the affected businesses were notified in any way whatsoever about the closure leaving us to find out on our own on the first day of the Farmers Market.  The impact of this unilateral decision has definitely injured our relationship with the city, a partnership that we have enjoyed and appreciated over the years.

As you know, we have always been proponents of a clean, safe, family friendly atmosphere in our Historic Downtown.  We have been instrumental and supportive of one time street closures for special events that draw a large crowd, such as Trick or Treat on Main, Stroll Through History, Christmas Parade, the recent vintage car show, Movies on Main, etc.  We have always encouraged other groups to use Heritage Plaza and the adjacent parking lot for special events. Downtown businesses have endured successive Main Street closures for curb repair, street repair, building of the courthouse, sidewalks, etc.  It has been difficult and negatively impacted our businesses and sales, but was necessary while closing Main Street on Saturdays for the market is not.

We are asking that you communicate with Main Street businesses before considering any street closure that would directly affect us.  We also request that the Farmers Market move back to Heritage Plaza or Freeman Park, as soon as possible, for the convenience of our customers and the overall wellbeing of the businesses that have chosen to operate on Main Street.  We do welcome the Famers Market to our Downtown as a partner in our business relationship.



Downtown Main Street merchants between First and Third Streets in Woodland have written a letter (published below) to City Hall vigorously complaining about the recent, sudden and totally unnoticed closure of this portion of Main Street during Saturday mornings, as a new location for the Woodland Farmers’ Market.

Main Street has been closed in this manner since May, from 6 a.m. until about 1:30 p.m., which severely cramps regular business, while not balancing such distress by the creation of sufficient new business to compensate, indicates Woodland Gold and Silver owner, Brandon Hodges, who wonders why undermining longtime downtown merchants is necessary to help evolve the longsuffering Farmers’ Market.

“We’re part of the core of downtown commerce and shouldn’t be injured in such a thoughtless way,” says Hodges, referring to proximate and peeved downtown business proprietors.  He relates tales of various city problems, frictions and nonsense, arising during these several Saturdays of Farmers’ Market occupation.

Saturday Morning Conflict

“Saturday mornings in the summer are prime business hours,” declares Hodges, “people like to get out and shop when it’s still cool.  Closing off Main Street at this time is a huge and unreasonable intrusion.”

Of course, such is precisely the cool-morning, business-timing theory of Woodland Farmers’ Market, although conflicting with downtown commerce because of this Main Street closure, unless and until it reaches satisfactory, justifiable attendance levels.

Freeman Park would be a much better market location during this summer, strongly believes Hodges and merchant cohorts.

Installation of a traffic-signaled crosswalk over Main Street, between Freeman Park and the new county courthouse, should become a beneficial factor for this market location, these merchants envision.

Current location of Downtown Woodland Farmers’ Market is apparently being partially driven by the willingness of two downtown merchants in this vicinity to allow public use of their restrooms during Market hours.  Hodges describes being told that the City doesn’t want to pay for portable toilets, although such toilets are being used at the Tuesday Woodland Farmers’ Market located near Woodland Memorial Hospital.

For decades, Woodland Farmers Market has struggled to discover a real home, fluctuating locations from Main Street (a long time ago) to Heritage Plaza to Freeman Park to County Fair Mall and Woodland Memorial Hospital.

Closing Main Street to accommodate the present phase / dimension of downtown Farmers’ Market activity is unjustified, believes this group of merchants, who clearly express their being — “deeply offended” — by the obtuse way the City of Woodland has handled these affairs.

Murky City Responses

Woodland City Manager, Paul Navazio, has responded to Hodges with the following remarks:

“Brandon – than you for forwarding your email and letter.  We are aware of concerns expressed by some businesses and it is helpful to have then clearly articulated.  City staff will confer with the Farmers’ Market to address concerns as best we can under the current arrangements and agreements we have in place.  We will keep the Council members apprised as to our progress….several of them have relayed businesses’ concerns, and we also have a Downtown sub-committee that can assist, as needed, in this regard.”

Hodges expresses great apprehension about what Navazio means by:  “Address concerns as best we can under the current arrangements and agreements we have in place,” fearing that this city position intends to continue on the present course of Main Street closure, through October, an especially unappealing prospect for “severely impacted” downtown merchants.

Contacted by Yolo Sun, Woodland Mayor Tom Stallard seems to recognize the growing existence of a serious problem. “I’m already working on another solution,” responds Stallard, although he hasn’t yet revealed the nature or details of this other “solution.”

Letter to Woodland City Hall :

I [Brandon Hodges] am emailing this letter on behalf of the many Downtown Woodland businesses being negatively affected by the current location of the Saturday Woodland Farmers Market.  Those businesses affected include, but are not limited to, Woodland Gold and Silver, The House Dresser, Corner Drug Company and The Gifted Penguin.

[Hodges indicates his belief that several other proximate businesses also heartily endorse this letter and will become signatories.]

Being strong supporters and contributors to the economic wellbeing of Downtown Woodland, we would like to address the First to Third Main Street closure every Saturday from 6am to 1pm, sometimes later.  First, we must say we have been advocates of the Farmers Market and encouraged them to join us Downtown at Heritage Plaza.  However, we are strongly opposed to closing Main Street every Saturday.

This closure has severely impacted our sales and access to our businesses in the following ways:

1. No customers, therefore no sales.

2. No sales, therefore no sales tax revenue.

3. No parking availability for two full blocks, barriers send customers off of Main Street away from businesses and a majority of our Saturday customers are those driving down Main Street.

4. Allowing market vendors to park on Main Street obstructs the view of businesses from potential customers.

5. Lunch time is generally the peak of Saturday business, Main Street being shut down until after 1pm has caused a massive decline in that business.

6. Access to businesses is limited to walking traffic only and many of our customers are elderly and not highly mobile.

7. There are no vendors between Second and First Street even though the street is closed.

8. The market is small and does not draw a large number of customers.

9. Market customers have proven that they generally only shop at the market and not our businesses.

10. During summer the majority of our business is done in the morning when it is cooler, Main Street being shut down prevents much of this.

We are deeply offended that the city would make the important decision to close Main Street every Saturday through summer and into fall without any discussion with the businesses directly affected by the closure.  Also, none of the affected businesses were notified in any way whatsoever about the closure leaving us to find out on our own on the first day of the Farmers Market.  The impact of this unilateral decision has definitely injured our relationship with the city, a partnership that we have enjoyed and appreciated over the years.

As you know, we have always been proponents of a clean, safe, family friendly atmosphere in our Historic Downtown.  We have been instrumental and supportive of one time street closures for special events that draw a large crowd, such as Trick or Treat on Main, Stroll Through History, Christmas Parade, the recent vintage car show, Movies on Main, etc.  We have always encouraged other groups to use Heritage Plaza and the adjacent parking lot for special events.
Downtown businesses have endured successive Main Street closures for curb repair, street repair, building of the courthouse, sidewalks, etc.  It has been difficult and negatively impacted our businesses and sales, but was necessary while closing Main Street on Saturdays for the market is not.

We are asking that you communicate with Main Street businesses before considering any street closure that would directly affect us.  We also request that the Farmers Market move back to Heritage Plaza or Freeman Park, as soon as possible, for the convenience of our customers and the overall wellbeing of the businesses that have chosen to operate on Main Street.  We do welcome the Famers Market to our Downtown as a partner in our business relationship.



[Editor’s note: This is the second, supplemental news report, on the topic of Woodland’s current water situation, following an initial report found further down-scroll.  Please find the first supplemental news report, immediately down-scroll.]

Friday afternoon, June 12, the California Water Resources Control Board (WRCB) issued an Order affecting state water rights in an unprecedented manner, prohibiting all diversions established after 1902.

Riparian-based water rights were also affected, with only about half of such interests accepting the state’s offer (ending June 1) to voluntarily restrict their diversions by 25% in order to avoid worse cuts — which have now been implemented.

The WRCB wrote in its official Order (linked below), that even worsening water access is quite likely.

The state began regulating surface water in 1914 and water rights established before then are legally classified as “senior,” contrasted with “junior” rights.

Woodland has acquired two water rights, one of each general type, but neither of which is as reliable as before the ongoing (4th year of) drought.  The state has previously halted 2015 diversions for “junior” water rights.

Woodland’s (Term 91) allocation using its “senior” water right was (seasonally) curtailed on April 30.

Here is the official data from (WRCB):


Previously, such curtailments would be lifted around the onset of the rainy season, but new odds have begun to shift toward much greater uncertainty.

Sufficient water must now become available to restore access to many more “senior” water-rights holders, never yet affected, before finally reaching the level of service for Woodland’s (Term 91) right, which has been regularly curtailed in minor amounts during the dry season, yet only 40% of its allocation was available in 2014, an initial signal of this severe drought.

Another very serious concern exists regarding the general absence of a state snow-pack (for the first time in recorded history), the regular source of replenishing reservoirs which source Woodland’s water rights.  This water-storage system was designed for mining snow-pack, but the climate is now changing.

Rising temperatures will reduce state snow-pack, even when precipitation eventually arrives, continually challenging the state’s reservoir system to adapt.  Presently mandated to protect against floods, by keeping space in reserve for that purpose, reservoirs may have to be re-prioritized toward filling-up, to a reasonably maximum extent.

So, several large obstacles are arising against Woodland’s confident access to surface water:  (a) many more “senior” water-rights holders (their numbers are increasing in unprecedented ways) must now be made whole, ahead of Woodland;  (b) absence of a state snow-pack will largely disallow any reservoir-filling, until whatever rainy season arrives;  (c) future snow-packs are relatively in jeopardy;  (d) state water-management policy must rapidly evolve with multiple challenges, carrying unknown consequences for Woodland;  (e) and then, of course, there’s the ongoing drought, itself.

Here is a link to the WRCB’s (detailed) Order of June 12:


Perusal of this document is encouraged for local residents who want to best understand such matters.


This supplemental news report is published to best provide Woodlanders (indeed, Yolo County in general) with what they need to know, regarding the prior article of Yolo Sun, alongside the most conscientious and reliable (long-range) weather forecast interpretation which is presently available for California (please see below).

Some local folk believe (this specific view has come directly from the mouths of high city officials) that an impending El Nino event may serve to solve Woodland’s water woes; while in actuality, this topic is much more complex (as well as, interesting).

Yesterday (June 11), statewide news reports indicated a strengthening of the El Nino phenomenon of Pacific Ocean warming, possibly leading to increased precipitation for California (in general).  Here’s a representative snippet from San Jose Mercury News (SJMN):

“Currently, an ocean area that scientists call the “3.4 region” along the equator near South America that is considered a key indictor of El Niño trends is 1.2 degrees Celsius, or 2.1 degrees Fahrenheit, above the historic average. That departure from normal is twice what it was a year ago. And the trend is expected to keep growing.

“Supercomputers at NOAA, NASA and other world-leading scientific institutions are projecting the temperatures in that ocean region to hit 1.6 degrees Celsius, or nearly 3 degrees Fahrenheit, on average by September. The last time temperatures there reached that level in a September was in 1997, when they hit 2.3 degrees Celsius, or 4.1 degrees Fahrenheit, above average. What followed was among the wettest winters in California history, similar to another strong El Niño year, 1982-83, with California receiving twice as much rain as normal.”

What does this potential strengthening of the current El Nino actually mean for Woodland?

Mainstream journalism (such as SJMN) usually tends to vastly generalize around such key, localized (even Northern California type) details.

Weather West

However, there exists a blog uniquely devoted to these sorts of details: Weather West   ( http://weatherwest.com ).

Weather West displays the work of Daniel Swain, alumni of UCD and now at Stanford.

Weather West has provided unique and valuable California weather and climate information, as well as profound discussion of such, since 2006.

Daniel Swain is a PhD candidate in the Department of Environmental Earth System Science at Stanford University. A member of the University’s Climate and Earth Sciences Dynamic Group, Daniel studies the changing character of extreme meteorological events, with a focus on the role of persistent large-scale atmospheric patterns. He holds a B.S. in Atmospheric Science from the University of California, Davis.

June 3 (El Nino) Essay By Weather West

On June 3, Weather West published a lengthy and intriguing essay about El Nino and the continuing (4th year) California drought, reaching a level of intricate weather interpretation not found within the mainstream press.

Some local folk have suggested, for example, that next winter California may experience something akin to what Texas has recently seen.

Says Weather West:

“Given the strengthening El Niño event, do the drought-busting Texas floods suggest that California will be in for the same experience next winter? Not really–well, at least not directly. The kind of weather pattern that led to the Texas floods–persistent, moist deep convection (thunderstorms) with self-organizing characteristics (i.e. mesoscale convective complexes) aren’t really possible in California. We don’t have anywhere near the kind of warm, moist, and unstable conditions made possible in Texas by the proximity of the Gulf of Mexico, and large-scale atmospheric conditions near California are also generally unfavorable for this kind of event.”

“During weak El Niño events, this effect is less profound, and the end result can often be relatively weak versions of both the subtropical and sub-polar jet vying for influence over the East Pacific. The net effect can be quite variable; if California’s lucky, we see moist storms originating from both regions, but if we’re unlucky, we can largely miss out on storm systems taking both trajectories. If we composite the most recent weak El Niño episodes, the average effect in California actually appears to be a slight drying during the winter months–directly contrary to the El Nino mythology that pervades the Golden State.”  (Emphasis added.)

Related to strong El Nino influences, Weather West expresses:

“However, things are a quite a bit different during a strong El Niño event. When East Pacific sea surface temperatures become sufficiently warm, large-scale atmospheric temperature differences between the tropics and the mid-latitudes are big enough to strengthen the subtropical jet quite substantially over the portion of the East Pacific that is most relevant for California wintertime precipitation. This enhanced subtropical jet can greatly enhance the strength of low-latitude storms west and even slightly south of California, and also makes it easier for such systems to tap into the rich tropical and subtropical atmospheric moisture reservoir that exists at lower latitudes. Additionally, storms during strong El Niño years have the potential to be more convectively unstable due to increased lower-atmospheric temperature and moisture, leading to an increased likelihood of intense localized downpours. In other words: a strong El Niño event tends to result in a jet stream structure that 1) steers more storms toward Southern California, 2) is favorable for stronger storms at a lower latitude in the East Pacific, and 3) affords pre-existing storms greater potential access to warm, moisture-rich air masses.”

Thus, even in a strong El Nino, odds are that much of Northern California could be left relatively dry.

Weather West further describes relevant matters (emphasis occasionally added):

Will El Niño end California’s extraordinary, multi-year drought during Winter 2015-2016?

“Almost certainly not. Over the past four years of very low precipitation and record-shattering warmth, truly enormous water deficits have accumulated throughout California. On a statewide basis, the Golden State would need to see substantially more than an entire year’s worth of extra precipitation fall to eliminate the long-term deficit in a single year (in other words, a year with much greater  than 200% of average). Since California’s all-time wettest years (typically associated with very strong El Niño events) have historically involved a doubling (200%) or less of annual precipitation, California would probably need to experience its wettest year on record (by a fairly wide margin) to erase ongoing deficits in a single year. While it’s not physically impossible, that would be a very tall order, indeed. And a winter like that would most likely bring a whole host of other problems.

“Could a strong or very strong El Niño in 2015-2016 substantially mitigate the California drought and/or lead to serious flooding?“Absolutely. If the developing El Niño event reaches a strong or very strong intensity and maintains its strength through winter 2015-2016, the odds of experiencing persistently wet conditions next winter will increase. The occurrence of frequent precipitation events during significant El Niño winters increases the probability that antecedent hydrological conditions will be moist if and when heavy precipitation events do occur, increasing the risk of flooding. Also, since the trajectory of Pacific storms during strong El Niño winters tends to be from a much lower (more southerly) latitude, air masses during rain events tend to be warmer and moister overall.

“This can have several effects, including higher snow lines and more rapid runoff, greater precipitation intensity overall, and an increased risk of deep moist convection (which can produce very high rainfall rates even in the absence of mountainous topography). It’s important to note that almost all of California’s major flood events result from land-falling “atmospheric rivers,” which tend to be more frequent (but not necessarily more intense) during El Niño years. Therefore, a major flood can easily occur during any winter, El Niño or not. Still, for upper-tier El Niño events, there is definitely an increased risk of above-average precipitation and flooding during the cool season.

“Since strong El Niño events increase the likelihood of wet California winters, it does stand to reason that a strong El Niño in 2015-2016 could provide at least partial (and perhaps substantial) drought relief. A wet winter would most likely allow most of California’s major reservoirs to fill, though those who operate California’s dams and reservoirs are heavily constrained by flood control mandates. Surface soil moisture would increase, and drought-stressed forests and ecosystems would benefit substantially in the short term. Stress on urban water supplies would be reduced as demand decreases, and supply increases.

“But even a tremendous amount of water falling from the sky won’t completely alleviate all of California’s drought impacts. And if much of this hypothetical precipitation were to fall as rain rather than snow in the Sierra Nevada, longer-term water storage wouldn’t be boosted nearly as much as it would otherwise.

“California is currently witnessing firsthand what happens during its first year in recorded history without a measurable springtime snowpack, and it’s becoming quite clear that warming temperatures aren’t very compatible with the snowmelt-dependent water storage infrastructure currently in place.

“The Pacific Ocean, on the whole, remains extraordinarily warm (even in regions geographically far removed from those used to define El Niño), and is expected to remain so for the foreseeable future. This means that even if heavy precipitation does return to California next winter, temperatures will likely remain well above the long-term average.

“And just to reiterate a key point from above: we still don’t know for sure whether strong or very strong El Niño conditions will ultimately develop (nor whether they will persist until winter, when they are most relevant for California). Confidence is starting to increase in current projections, since we’re now emerging from the Spring Predictability Barrier and most dynamical models are still suggesting the potential for a powerful event. But when we concatenate all the various uncertainties discussed above, there’s still something of an open question regarding what happens in California next winter.

“At this point, it’s fair to state that the likelihood of experiencing a wetter-than-average winter (and, perhaps, flooding) is increasing, but simultaneously that the risk of the California drought continuing into 2016 is nearly 100%. Needless to say: it will probably be a very interesting year to come for weather and climate-watchers in the Golden State. Stay tuned!”

Yolo Sun greatly encourages Woodlanders to stay up to date regarding Northern California’s general weather conditions and drought forecasts, by means of this valuable blog.

October 2015
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