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The Nishi Project Will Make Downtown Traffic Worse

By John Troidl

I don't get it: If I read the YES ON J (pro-Nishi) material, it seems like they are saying that there will be essentially no ("limited") traffic impact if the Nishi development is approved and actually built.

 How can that possibly be?

There are 700 parking spots planned for the Nishi property. One for each housing unit, right there fronting the highway. Wait, that's just one parking space for each apartment.... 1/3 of a car for each bed located at Nishi.

Nishi-OldDavisRdI bet the parking lot will be jammed as many of those units will be 3 bedroom apartments..... but only one parking spot for each apartment which are supposedly isolated from the rest of town. And how about their guests and family members? Delivery service such as Amazon and Papa Johns? Do we really expect that everyone is going to bike into Nishi? Not in the real world.

The way the traffic is directed in the NISHI model it will NOT be physically linked to Richards Boulevard but it WILL be linked to 1st Street via Old Davis Road on one end and to the area near the Hyatt Hotel on campus on the other end. In order to get to Trader Joe's or the Graduate on Russell or Tres Hermanas near AMTRAK the students will need to circulate through campus and then arrive on the streets of Davis in their many cars. This simply means that the traffic is redirected away from Richards and the overpass, but traffic does not in any way disappear from downtown Davis or elsewhere. C'mon, Nishi folks who claim there will be no traffic ipact.... give me a break!

On the other hand, if students were allowed to live on an interesting, vibrant residential campus at the Core UCD campus they would be much closer to class, the library, athletic fields and all the other resources on campus and much less likely to need a car, saving their families that expense and the rest of us the additional traffic and crowding.

This better solution is so obvious, it seems like I would not be needing to bring it up, but here it is:  If we create opportunities for students to live on campus there will be less traffic and lower expense for the students, their families, and Davis residents. If, on the other hand, we restrict them to living off campus, they will spend more on transportation and create more traffic for all of us Davisites.

The choice is clear........


Nancy Price

John, thanks for taking the time to write. Have you thought of submitting to the Davis Enterprise as a LTE, or to the Davis Vanguard? And let's also mention the carbon footprint of this excess traffic that could be mitigated if students were housed on campus. You'd think students would be mobilizing to demand housing on campus as the impacts of global warming will be great for their generation.

Dan Cornford

Absolutely spot on. I wrote an Op-Ed piece for the DE arguing this before this Nishi 1.0 vote as even then Nishi advocates were denying any traffic impacts. Even if, and it is definitely an IF, access to most vehicles via Olive drive will be denied, John is absolutely correct and the cumulative traffic impacts will be massive when you combine Nishi with the other off-campus projects already approved and those in the pipeline. Nishi will make things that much worse but even without we are talking 10,000 or so people being added to the UCD Campus and core downtown area over the next few years!!!! Many Davis eyes may be rolling at the endless debate over Nishi but take it from me that increased traffic and parking issues will resonate with them like nothing else. I urge John and other readers of the Davisite to put this great piece out by any means possible from posts on Nextdoor, letters to the DE et al.

Eileen Samitz


Great points, but actually plenty of traffic will be going from Old Davis Road to Richards for many students for regular trips to get groceries at Safeway or other services in Oakshade Shopping Center in South Davis as well.

The alternative for potential Nishi residents for groceries or other services would be as you say, Old Davis Road to La Rue Rd. to Russell Blvd. to University Mall where Trader Joe's is. So Davis will get plenty of traffic impacts from Nishi if it is approved in all directions from its 700 cars as well as incoming deliveries and visitors as you also point out. The Yes on Nishi "Less Traffic" claim is ridiculous.

John Troidl

Of course! When I went for a walk this evening to buy a sandwich at my local grocery, I passed a couple of signs that said, "YES ON J: Student Housing Next To Campus Means Less Traffic". That's just not true. Putting 700 new apartments and 700 new parking spots ANYWHERE but on campus means more traffic in Davis. How could it not? Anybody who shops for more than a sandwich is surely tempted (and likely) to use that car to carry the bag(s) of groceries. Let's be realistic: Who wants to carry a bottle of gin or a stack of steaks on a bike rack?! :)

sarah tetcher

Students on campus also drive cars all around Davis. They still need to go to the grocery store, Target, etc. Find a better argument.

John Troidl

Sarah, actually my point is quite well taken. Perhaps you have not attended a "residential campus", but I have. (Also commuter campuses, too, so I guess I have a bit of a broad experience base).

On well-designed residential campuses, there are dorms, dining halls, gardens, recreational facilities, sports facilities, libraries, movie theaters, gift stores, bike shops, and more..... many have grocery stores on campus as well. In these environments there is little need for students to EVER leave the campus, except for off campus volunteer work and off campus paid work and to return home during school breaks.

So, the routine need for these students to drive is quite minimal and in fact many residential colleges restrict automobile use by students. Guess they kind of want them to focus on their school work and related activities and not have to incur the (unnecessary) expense of operating an automobile.

So, there you go! :)


sarah tetcher

I have attended colleges with both residential and commuter campuses. We had some of the amenities that you mentioned (as does UCD), all of which were higher priced and did not have the same selection as off campus stores. A university is not a cruise ship, nor a business, and university resources should be maintained for providing education research, not amenities.

Why on earth would a student never leave campus? To live in a bubble with only students? Are we expecting students not to work, not to volunteer, not to intern, not to bring their children to school, not to be an active part of the community in which they live? A student who never leaves campus will be in no way a productive member of society after graduation. Without students spending money, even small amounts, no college town would have a thriving downtown or be able to support independent businesses, since students are often the main clients.

Regardless of city limits, universities are part of the community in which they exist. If anyone has moved here within the last 100 years, they must have known there was a university here, and students in town are a part of that. It is offensive to expect that the city of Davis exists for the purpose and privilege of those who can afford to choose where to live based on where they'd like to send their children to school.

Roberta L. Millstein

Sarah, just a quick reply to challenge a couple of your assumptions. I lived on campus for all four years, as did most of my peers. We were in a small town and while we did venture off campus, most time was spent on. It was less expensive, not more expensive. I think I and my classmates have still managed to be very productive members of society, and the town is still thriving. I am involved in my community and work in my community.

I did not move here because I wanted to raise my children here, since I don't have any children. I moved here because I got a job here. Surely I am not the only one.

Again, I'm just saying that your assumptions are questionable and somewhat insulting.

John Troidl


Maybe in your haste to rebut my post, you overlooked this content from my last comment:

".....except for off campus volunteer work and off campus paid work and to return home during school breaks." I welcome student contribution to our community.

But Davis is first and foremost a FAMILY TOWN and secondarily a college town. The town existed before the university did. There are many, many, many residents in Davis who have no affiliation with the university whatsoever.

This may be confusing to some who see the university as an overwhelming presence in town, driving out young families and lower income individuals who cannot compete with students for housing, but this is and should be a FAMILY TOWN first and foremost.

Thank you!


sarah tetcher

The phrase "family town" is beyond insulting. I think Roberta will agree!

Roberta L. Millstein

Clearly, people have different visions for Davis and different views about what it is. My own view is that Davis is many things: historically, I believe, first a train town; also a family town; also a university town with students, faculty, and staff, also people who like the small town life or who have found other employment here or who are here because of someone else.

John Troidl

"The phrase "family town" is beyond insulting." ....... really? I have never heard that complaint before! Particularly from real estate people who often sell to ..... wait for it.... families! But have not heard that complaint from many others either. Davis has a well known reputation throughout the Sacramento Region for the highest quality public schools. You know, K-12. The people who attend those come from ..... wait for it.... FAMILIES! And the safety features of our town including the mandatory beverage preference for milk or water at our restaurants was intended to benefit.... wait for it.... FAMILIES! The Summer Recreation Camps/Activities offered by the City of Davis are for.... well, let me see.... could it be FAMILIES! The Davis Art Center with its programs for kids and..... wait.... FAMILIES! The parcel tax for schools and the library.... who are the principal beneficiaries? Well, that would be FAMILIES! The list goes on. This is almost so obvious that I feel funny writing it up.... but there it is: Davis is a family town! There are other facets to its make up, for sure, but family town is at the core.

sarah tetcher

Really? People without children don't buy houses, don't use the library, don't want a functioning fire and police department, and don't want children to be healthy, and don't care about the education of others' children in the community? News to me, and most certainly offensive.

Davis became a magnet for wealthy people with children after developing a reputation for good schools, which was a direct result of people associated UC Davis moving to Davis as the university grew and valuing education enough to invest in good schools. This is a fact, not an opinion. As is the fact that a family does not necessarily include children, nor is a student necessarily not part of a family, either as a child or parent.

John Troidl


I am sorry you had such a bad experience with the residential college that you went to: "We had some of the amenities that you mentioned (as does UCD), all of which were higher priced and did not have the same selection as off campus stores." That was not my experience.

Nor does a university HAVE to be the high priced provider of amenities. I remember a time when the meals at UC Davis were reasonably priced. And then some genius at the University decided to contact out food service to a corporate entity which raised the prices through the roof. Yep, another screw up in "customer relations" for the University.

You also say that: " A university is not a cruise ship, nor a business, and university resources should be maintained for providing education research, not amenities."...... well, I did not suggest that UC Davis deck itself out as a cruise ship but I don't think that having first class athletic/recreation facilities; some refreshing natural settings for meditation and relaxation (like the Arboretum); dining facilities with a full range of healthy, moderately priced food, etc etc is too much to ask, do you?

The campus should be an attractive place to live.... or do you think UCD students deserve less?


Sue  Greenwald

Exactly. During the normal school year, the designated downtown entrance/exit is already gridlocked!

Years ago a traffic consultant's report said that this intersection had free flow of traffic. I called the city's traffic engineer at the time and told her that the report had to be mistaken, because during rush hour when the University is in session, there is already gridlock at Old Davis Road as it enters First Street during the afternoon, and B Street outbound is completely backed up because of the First Street traffic.

She thought about it, and then mentioned that they only count the traffic going one way and then they double it. But the traffic is not equally divided. It goes towards campus in the morning and away from campus in the afternoon. No one seemed to know which lane they measured. She acknowledged that this could have possibly explained the false finding that there was no existing traffic gridlock arising from traffic at First and Old Davis Road.

I talked with a University staff member at the time, and was told that the University shared my concerns and that they were going to do their own traffic study before approving the project.

Apparently this Chancellor does not share the concerns about the existing traffic gridlock at Old Davis Road, First Street and B Street.

They need to do a new traffic study when things get back to normal. But I have little faith in this council or this University administration will do the right thing.

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