The following letter was submitted by Todd Edelman to the Planning Commission for its meeting tonight, July 11, at 7 PM.
Dear Planning Commissioners,
First of all I would like to say that I consider it very unfortunate that the Downtown Plan Advisory Committee (DPAC) meeting is scheduled at the same time as the Planning Commission (PC) meeting. Tomorrow's Bicycling, Transportation and Street Safety (BTSSC) meeting has been cancelled, but - again - it was planned as simultaneous to that night's DPAC meeting.
Second - just so you know - the BTSSC is not apparently seeing this project. I am not clear why this is the case. Aside from their individual unique perspectives and goals, there is a welcome overlap in the scope of what the BTSSC and PC look at in regards to mobility. It seems that this will be missing from this evaluation. I write here on my own behalf.
JUMP down the page for my suggested SOLUTIONS
Nugget is by most accounts a great company that treats its employees well and offers great service and products (though so far the seeded watermelon on sale this year needs some help...). But the mobility profile for their retail locations bears no relation to our City's goals in our Council-approved Beyond Platinum bicycle plan from 2014: While the goal for bicycle trips for shopping is 30% by 2020, my multiple non-scientific visual surveys over the past 18 months at Nugget on E. Covell show a share between 2 and 4% at best. Even if a large, automobile-oriented market is informally considered to only be responsible for a 15% goal, this location only fulfills a fraction of it (and, by the way this 15% would need to be balanced by other destinations shooting for 45%!).
I mention this because there seems to be a total disconnect between projections for modal share in e.g. Draft EIRs and the Beyond Platinum goals (there is of course no similarly-constructed goal for transit share, walk share or not-by-car share.) In other words, Planning staff continually - if not always - asks for the PC to adopt and approve various projects and related which more or less explicitly state figures well below goals (WDAAC is a recent example; Nishi is not). I am not sure what to do about it, but "the perfect is the enemy of the good" is not what I would suggest as a good response. Still, if a project narrative said "we are ignoring ADA for most of our buildings" or that discriminatory policies would apply to a large fraction of housing units, would Staff recommend approval? (These analogies aren't perfect, but they're not absurd...)
The planned project (edit: for the Nugget headquarters and other office/R&D uses) at 4699 Alhambra is a generic, old school design that - save its more aggressive LEED-type stuff that has nothing to do with mobility - could appear in any suburban or somewhat peripheral location anywhere in the country. In its "Alternative Transportation" section of the web packet on pg. 44, it says only - more or less - that people working or visiting here can walk to a local bus stop. That's it! (And the packet states that both Unitrans A and B lines serve this location, but that's incorrect as the B goes nowhere near Mace Ranch. Other lines run nearby such as Unitrans Q and P, but while it's not clear why this is not mentioned what is clear is that all of these lines run only every 30 to 60 min, with a key connection on Unitrans A from e.g. the Davis Depot only every 60 min in summertime.) In sum it's easy to see why the packet pitched for approval projects less than a 5% transit mode share.
If the PC approves and adopts the Negative Declaration, etc. I strongly suggest that if possible you add the following as amendments/requirements for the developers and tenants. These are sustainable mobility fixes only and can only do so much to improve a project:
1) Only finish the parking area in a limited way at first, and keep others areas prepped for more parking if absolutely necessary or instead implement drought tolerant and otherwise suitable plants. So sort of "desire lines for parking".
2) Implement a physically-buffered bike path on Alhambra.
3) Remove the free right turns at Mace and Alhambra (isn't this general city policy?);
4) Acquire a fleet of Type 3 28 mph-assist electric bikes for employee use within Davis outside of the area, both from home to work and in-between facilities, and for visitors who arrive by train. These would include versions that can carry children safely (and of course…. multiple shopping bags!)
5) Host one or more charging docks for electric bike share bikes (Jump and any future operators) and subsidize free use in the immediate area (as a complement to the Type 3 bikes, for shorter trips;
6) Acquire a fleet of small electric vehicles mostly for journeys outside of Davis;
7) Contribute to an existing transit operator's plan to have a bus service that serves East Davis and Mace Ranch synchronized with Capitol Corridor services, or at minimum an electric-powered company shuttle just for this project, or immediate area;
8) Charge employees to park, while also providing free transit passes;
9) Support teleworking and/or four days a week and/or nine days every ten days job schedules.
Thanks for your hard work!
Deep Streets Davis
Member of the Bicycling, Transportation and Street Safety Commission*
*For identification purposes only.