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Regarding the overturning of the Yolo Superior Court's decision on Trackside

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A statement from the Old East Davis Neighborhood Association (OEDNA)

Residents concerned about the unique feel of Davis should be troubled by this ruling. By overturning the trial court, the appeals court implies that the City does not have to keep its own commitments as implemented in the ordinances and planning documents. The appeals court grants the City license to take any provisions agreed upon by the community to protect neighborhoods or specific resources and then interpret them in a way that best serves the interests of developers or other special interests.

When the City decided not to create a historical district for the 2001 General Plan, they opted instead for a conservation overlay district, having protections codified in the Design Guidelines and enforced in the zoning codes. Many community members and businesses, including OEDNA, worked to complete these documents, trusting that future City Councils would honor their intent.

A Mixed-Use Mass and Scale guideline states: "A building shall appear to be in scale with traditional single-family houses along the street front." And a zoning code states: "Wherever the guidelines for the DTRN conflict with the existing zoning standards including planned development, the more restrictive standard shall prevail." The Trackside Project as approved by the City clearly does not follow this directive. However, the appeals court decision ruled that the City has almost complete discretion in how it interprets and/or reinterprets its planning documents.

This ruling serves as a cautionary tale and a wake-up call. Neighborhoods must understand, based on the appeals court ruling, that they need to look closely at the specific language in land use plans as they are modified in the coming years. Neighborhoods should require very precise, quantifiable and mandatory provisions in the upcoming plans and implementing codes. There should be no ambiguity in interpretation, otherwise future City Councils will interpret provisions in ways that disadvantage neighborhoods and go against the promises made to protect those neighborhoods. Even more vigilance is needed going forward.

Most unfortunately, the City never felt a need to work in good faith with the Old East Davis neighborhood, which in fact has been pro-densification from the beginning, to come to a mutually agreeable solution at the Trackside site. Successful examples of such good faith efforts include the Sterling Apartments and Lincoln 40 (now Ryder) Apartments. Community members should expect more from the City of Davis.

OEDNA will remain active to keep our historical neighborhood intact while welcoming change and reasonable densification. We are open to working with the City, developers and neighbors, and are always ready to work with other neighborhoods facing similar issues. Though we are disappointed in the appellate court ruling, our mission and our determination are unchanged.

Comments

Larry Guenther

This statement is my own. The real tragedy for me, is the complete lack of City leadership to actually try and resolve the issues, instead of just picking winners and losers. The neighborhood of Old East Davis put forward an acceptable, and financially viable, alternative building. City Council and staff gave us no countenance whatsoever. University Commons was the same. Most of the issues that created grief with neighbors in that project were about design. That was another prime example where, if City Council really wanted to solve the problems, they could have brought the Neighborhood together with the developer to resolve the issues. City Council did NOT do that – they sided with the developer. Lincoln40, by contrast, approached Old East Davis, let us know their plans, asked us about our issues, worked to mitigate those issues with changes to the design, and presto – it’s up and filled. And now that the project is finished, we can confirm they came to us in good faith. It can be done that way – you have to want it to be done that way.

Todd Edelman

Are there other examples of when the same or similar court made a similar ruling?

Todd Edelman

Given my history, it's probably no surprise that I'm in agreement about the City's actions, but "neighbors" has many definitions: I don't doubt your description of Lincoln40/Ryder's efforts, but it's still not clear why the project was developed in a way that makes implementation of the 2016 Street Standards on east Olive nearly impossible or very difficult. The sidewalk was completely re-constructed below minimum width and the bike lane can only be wide enough if parking on the other side of the street is removed. Staff provided me an explanation, and I don't know how much the developers pushed them. The "neighbors" in this case are others on the street (whom I can't speak for) and everyone who uses the corridor, much higher numbers in the future when the connection to Pole Line is complete.

One could even go deeper and ask why the developers couldn't have contributed more to the crossing to Davis Depot - still not built and not clear when it will be - or question the construction of housing so close to I-80.

Alan Pryor

You cannot trust our City Council and Staff farther than you can spit when it comes to protecting our citizens and neighborhoods from rapacious and predatory developers

First the Cannery was allowed to weezle out of their affordable housing obligations with Staff and Council complicity. Then the City hands the Cannery developer a sweet-heart, multi-million dollar Community Finance District deal for which the Cannery residents are still paying. Then they let them off the hook for the 2nd below grade crossing under Covell. Our Council has collectively handed the Cannery developers tens of millions of dollars in goodies and got no concessions in return.

And now after the Bretton Woods (formerly West Davis Active Adult Community) developer has cancelled his contracts to sell over a hundred of the project's new homes to Davis residents and returned their deposits, he is now demanding, and Staff and Council are agreeing, to let the developer out of his commitments to sell 90% of the new homes in the project to buyers connected to Davis. This gives him free rein to sell every new home in the project to wealthy expatriates from the Bay Area instead of to locals as everyone expected. And the voters in Davis who voted to approve the project expecting to see it fill with elderly Davis residents are left holding nothing but their voting slips and empty promises.

So to see the Council and Staff stiff the Old East Davis Neighborhood Association and ram a behemoth of a project down their throats without any regards to real neighborhood needs or values is entirely consistent with the disdain with which Staff and Council treat their citizens while allowing the developers to have their way with the City's residents.

Like I said, we cannot trust our Staff and Council farther than we can spit.

George Galamba

This is what elections are for.

Karen L. Baker

First Trackside, then DISC 2022: my hope is that upcoming elections with these debacles in mind(and let's not forget The Cannery screwjob, Mace Mess, and the Bretton Woods bait and switch) will wake up our City Council; hopefully some of them will be "retired," and we can start in a new direction with the needs, priorities and viewpoint of residents put first instead of developers running the show.

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