An Historic Understanding Between Davis and Woodland
By Dave Rosenberg, Yolo County Supervisor, 4th District
"The undersigned Chairman of the Yolo County Board of Supervisors, Mayor of the City of Davis and Mayor of the City of Woodland, on behalf of our respective Board of Supervisors and City Councils, and on behalf of the constituents whom we represent, do hereby enter into this Memorandum of Understanding. We declare and affirm our mutual commitment to the protection and preservation of agricultural lands and open space, our desire to avoid urban sprawl, and our intent that there shall be no urban development North of County Road 29 and South of County Road 27 as between the communities of Davis and Woodland. This Memorandum of Understanding shall not preclude further actions by our respective Board and Councils, nor further memoranda of understanding to preserve agricultural lands and open space, to avoid urban sprawl and to curtail urban development as appropriate."
On September 4, 2002, Davis Mayor Susie Boyd, Woodland Mayor Dave Flory, and I, on behalf of the City Councils of Davis and Woodland and the Yolo County Board of Supervisors affixed our signatures to the above words in an historic Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU").
Those signatures culminated over six years of work on my part to create a community separator between the two largest cities in Yolo County: Woodland and Davis. In 1996, when I first ran for a seat on the Board of Supervisors, I proposed the development of what I called "The Greenline Plan", a series of memoranda of understanding between cities in Yolo County and the Board of Supervisors, creating community separators of agricultural land and open space. The goals, I thought then and continue to believe now, are worthy: preserve agricultural lands and create open space between our towns. No one wants the future development of Yolo County to result in our cities growing into one another. We see this happening in other counties. We don't want it to happen in Yolo County.
Frankly, it took a good six years for this proposal to develop. The current City Councils of Davis and Woodland, and the current Yolo County Board of Supervisors have developed a sufficient working relationship with each other and a sufficient level of trust that I felt the time was right to bring the issue to the forefront and seek votes.
The first such Memorandum of Understanding is, perhaps, the most important. It is the agreement between Davis and Woodland, our two largest cities currently separated by only a few miles of agricultural land. With only one "no" vote (by one Councilman in Davis), the City Councils of Woodland and Davis, and the Yolo County Board of Supervisors earlier this year authorized the Mayors of the cities and the Chairman of the Board to negotiate the Memorandum of Understanding and affix their signatures. The negotiation occurred over the summer and the actual signing of the MOU was accomplished on September 4.
The result is, frankly, awesome. By our signatures, some 11,623 acres of agricultural land and open space between Davis and Woodland will be protected from urban development. While the MOU is "non-binding", it is an important symbolic step for the county and the cities. The MOU now joins a long list of actions by our cities and the county to protect agriculture including a County and City General Plans, funds for agricultural preservation easements, a Pass-Through Agreement between the County of Yolo and the City of Davis, and land use policies that protect farmland.
Yolo County is rightfully proud of its agricultural heritage. However, we must continue to be vigilant and imaginative if we are to withstand the challenges of future urban sprawl, and protect agriculture into the 21st Century.