The following letter was submitted to the Davis City Council yesterday (March 15) and is reprinted here with permission of the author. For background information on the proposed Chiles project, see this Davis Enterprise article. The Council will consider the project at its upcoming meeting on Tuesday, March 19.
To Davis City Council:
In reference to the Chiles Road apartment proposal, some seem to be claiming that there's a "shortage" of available commercial space (while simultaneously advocating for conversion of existing commercial space to accommodate residential development). If there is an actual shortage of commercial space, then the proposed conversion of the Chiles Road site (from commercial to residential zoning) is difficult to logically explain. One might think that (at a minimum), a mixed-use proposal might be appropriate and in-demand - assuming that one truly believes that there's a shortage of commercial space. (Also assuming that the city believes that commercial development is needed, to fill its coffers.)
In any case, this latest missed opportunity is surely something I'll remember, if/when the MRIC proposal arises again.
There appears to be a city-wide pattern of changing commercial zoning to accommodate residential development. Also, I understand that two of the three proposed innovation center sites have now been approved for housing, only. (Perhaps three sites, if one also includes the Cannery.)
Changing sites from commercial to mixed-use can also result in compromises regarding the viability and types of businesses that can occupy such sites, and results in changes to the type and cost of city services needed to serve such conversions. (I still wonder how many viable businesses are located at the Del Rio mixed-use development, for example. I understand that this is another site that was converted from commercial zoning.) And once again, the type and cost of city services generally increases, whenever residential development is included.
Also - assuming that there's vastly increased value resulting from the proposed rezoning, one might question the additional "watering down" of Affordable housing requirements, to accommodate the Chiles Road proposal. For example, I recall that the Families First / Sterling development occupies a comparable sized-parcel, but ultimately included a separate land dedication for Affordable housing, onsite. (The zoning for the Sterling site was also converted to accommodate that proposal.)
Ron [last name withheld at author's request]