The Natural Resource Commission needs to look into the ARC Business Park
By Colin Walsh
A schedule of Davis Commission meetings for the ARC Business Park was posted back in November that included some tentative hearings before certain City Commissions but seemed to omit other important Commissions. Notably absent were dates before the Natural Resources Commission, the Recreation and Parks Commission, and the Tree Commission. It should also go to the Unitrans Advisory Committee.
In this article I will address examples of why the ARC Business Park must go before the Natural Resource Commission (NRC).
The NRC’s “Function/Purpose” is stated on the City of Davis website. It states that the NRC, “Reviews and makes recommendations relating to maintaining the quality and quantity of the city's water supply and wastewater treatment processes, and promoting water conservation.” With a proposed 1.6 million square feet of office/R&D/Laboratory space, 884,000 square feet of Advanced Manufacturing, 850 new housing units, a new hotel, and 15 acres of parks, there is no doubt ARC would have a significant municipal water draw and an increase in Davis waste water. These issues clearly fall within the purview of the NRC and need to be addressed by the NRC Commission prior to the project going to the Davis City Council.
The earlier EIR for the MRIC/ARC project also notes that, “the inclusion of residential uses would likely generate higher energy, water, and solid waste source emissions” (P. 8-41). Again, this falls exactly under the purview of the NRC Commission.
The NRC’s “Function/Purpose” goes on to state that the NRC, “Reviews and makes recommendations pertaining to the degradation of air quality in the Yolo-Solano-Sacramento region.”
The EIR demonstrates in table 8-5 and then notes, that emissions from the proposed project “exceed the applicable YSAQMD thresholds of significance.” This results, “in a contribution to the region’s nonattainment status of ozone and PM, and could violate an air quality standard or contribute substantially to an existing or projected air quality violation, and a significant impact would occur” (P. 8-42). This is all clearly under the purview of the NRC. It is the NRC’s job to look at this significant air quality impact and make recommendations to the City Council.
The NRC’s “Function/Purpose” states the NRC, “Reviews and recommends ways to implement the Yolo County Solid Waste Plan and improve city-wide recycling efforts.” Obviously, a project of this scale would have waste that the NRC needs to consider especially considering the huge commercial and research facilities that will be located in ARC.
The NRC’s “Function/Purpose” states the NRC “Advises on ways to promote the use of renewable sources of energy.”
The ARC project description planned development zoning has a first of its kind in Davis planning designation, “Renewable energy generation and storage facilities.” This clearly falls within the purview of the NRC and should be looked at by the commission. Considering the zoning designation doesn’t even exist in the current Davis Municipal code and would need to be created for the new development, the NRC should absolutely be evaluating and offering input on this new zoning type and it’s proposed implementation at ARC.
The NRC’s “Function/Purpose” on the City website goes on to state the NRC, “Advises on environmental matters relating to global warming, and toxic and hazardous substances.’ There is no doubt that the 15,000 additional car trips a day predicted in the EIR are a concern in relation to global warming. The energy costs of construction, and choice of materials etc., as they relate to global warming, fall within the purview of the NRC.
The EIR also states that greenhouse gas “emissions would still be considered a substantial increase, and the impact would remain significant and unavoidable.” (p. 8-75) a breakdown of the GHG emissions can be found in table 8-9. These aspects of the ARC project clearly fall within the purview of the NRC and need to be vetted by the commission.
Additionally, the November 5th,2019 staff report to the City Council recommending new environmental studies of the ARC project noted that “it is [the traffic consultant] Fehr & Peers’ professional opinion that the proposed ARC project may result in new significant impacts, or substantial increase in the severity of significant impacts previously identified in the MRIC EIR.” This new significant increase in traffic must be considered by the NRC for the resulting increase in GHG Emissions.
This is not intended as an exhaustive list of the reasons ARC needs to go before the Natural Resource Commission, but they are very strong examples of how ARC must be evaluated by the NRC because it falls under so many parts of the NRC’s Function/Purposes as listed on the City of Davis Website. The City of Davis staff needs to be sure the NRC and other appropriate City commissions have the opportunity to properly vet the ARC Business Park proposal in a timely way, and the City Council needs to make sure this happens.