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DiSC 2022: Same Old Choices

Im-with-herBy Larry D. Guenther

On Tuesday, the City Council will decide whether or not to put DiSC 2022 on the ballot again. DiSC 2022 is a new version of the project on the outside of the Mace Curve that was voted down in its last iteration. It is now about half the size of the previous project. One of the Council’s goals is economic development. Another of the Council’s goals is Carbon Neutrality by 2040. In our current development paradigm, these goals are contradictory. That’s because our current development paradigm is centered around the automobile and commuting workers.

Approximately three quarters of our community’s total Green House Gas Emissions (GHG’s) come from transportation (78% projected for DiSC) - and the lion's share of that is single-occupancy vehicles; i.e. commuters. Hence the problem. DiSC is designed for commuters - it is designed in the current paradigm. The EIR for the DiSC project says that this project alone will increase the City’s total GHG’s by 4%. The EIR also states that this project will not allow the City to reach its carbon neutrality goal. These are not statements from opponents, this is from the project’s EIR.

There is scientific consensus that if the average global temperature increases by 1.5°C, our environment (that is to say, ‘we’) will suffer extreme and irreversible negative consequences. There is also scientific consensus that the average global temperature has already increased by 1°C. Additionally global GHG’s - the primary cause of increased temperatures - are still rising. This project would continue that trend.

We do not have to choose between economic development, housing, and the environment. We just need to build in a new way. We need a new paradigm. The idea that we must have either economic development, or reduce our environmental impact is a false choice. We can do both, we just have to do development differently.

Will City Council choose to prioritize its development goals, or its environmental goals? We’ll find out Tuesday night. If we stopped building for commuters, we could do both.

Comments

Donna Lemongello

I'm pretty sure the first iteration had a housing component to try and have people be able to live and work there, so as to not develop for commuters, except of course there is not actual control over who lives vs. works where. HOW do you propose to develop without creating commuters? Please elaborate.

Todd Edelman

... and in the final Davis Enterprise article prior to the Council meeting about DISC 2022 this Tuesday, a full 1/3 is devoted to the grade-separated crossing issue, as well as the related connection to the network of "trails" in Davis. https://tinyurl.com/mr29wj78 + https://www.davisenterprise.com/news/council-to-decide-tuesday-whether-to-put-disc-on-june-ballot/

What's bizarre is that Davis doesn't have trails or bike paths, per se, but the second term appears all over the staff report, with additions such as "Class I..." -- but a Class I path is by definition a multi-user path.

Beyond these nuances of language chronically slopped around in our oh-so-educated small city, there's that "network". What are they describing? From the proposed connecting point at the east end of housing in Mace Ranch, there's a motley variety of local streets, paint-only bike lanes on major and minor arteries all the way to Downtown and UC Davis. It will always be a tiny minority of people at the proposed DISC 2022 who will regularly visit Harper Junior High or the more distant and circuitously-connected Korematsu Elementary. A connection to these places does not significantly improve the project.

Despite the recommendations of the BTSSC and the NRC, there's nothing in the draft DA to connect the project to the east end of South Davis for the purpose of active transportation. It's unlikely that the Council will push for these recommendations, and even if they do, the detail is that funding for this critical element - and also a Class IV path along 2nd St, per the BTSSC - will only be proportional to use by residents, visitors and workers at DISC. As there is no plan from Caltrans to do anything here - e.g. there's no mention of it in the I-80 Managed Lanes project and the City's not pushed for it - what it means is that it will possibly not be built for decades. (Note that several years ago the Lincoln40/Ryder developers pledged a large proportion of the funding necessary for a crossing of the train tracks from Olive to Davis Depot, but applications for complementary funding have not been successful.) The DISCvelopers shouldn't be responsible for paying all of it - though it would be a nice show of their commitment to stuff they go on about, i.e. carbon neutral this-or-that - but that's not the only issue. The other significant issue is that no one from DISC will ride a bike to the closest and most attractive shopping center. It's appalling that no one on the Staff and apparently the Council realizes how anti-"Davis" this is.

There is huge potential to building housing on or on top of the many large parking lots mainly at large shopping centers within Davis, some which have close connections to Downtown and/or UC Davis. There's huge potential to to develop, re-develop and inter-connect the light industrial and commercial sites on both sides of I-80, thus forming a basis for the synergy-goal at DISC. For example the buildings off of Research Park Dr are way shorter than they could be. There's a lot of possibility for further density. The inter-connections would be provided by at least one more bridge for pedestrians, bicycle and small electric shuttles -- the latter would also connect to the housing-on-parking-lots on a fixed, automated route, and also to Downtown and Davis Depot.

Donna Lemongello

Throwing out a few more thoughts. 1) Farmland has to stop being the place to develop, the mention of densification and parking lots strikes a chord 2) It has to become much more inconvenient to drive places and much more convenient to not drive but rather bike or use public transit instead. 3) the developments need to be powered by renewables.

Nancy Price

Readers here might keep in mind that any descriptions of and plans for improved traffic circulation, public transportation and "network" of trails set outlined by the developer are just that: descriptions and plans unless included in the Base Line Features. If they are only in the Development Agreement, there is no hard and fast guarantee they will magically appear.

Larry D. Guenther

Where? In the shopping Malls around Davis. Similar to the University Commons development, but with actual input from the community. Shopping malls are A) all on transit corridors, B) all have at least one existing transit stop, C) are all one story, D) all have a grocery store, E) are ALL closer to Campus than DiSC. In my opinion, the failure of the University Mall development was a failure of leadership, representation, and imagination. City Council is basically locked into the false choice "this development, or no development." The issues neighbors had with UMall were, in my opinion, design issues. If Council members had actually represented the interests of their constituents and forced a redesign of the project, it could have been a win-win. The two no votes were made safe in the knowledge of the project passing, while appearing to be against the project. Why didn't those two no votes suggest a redesign taking neighborhood concerns into account?

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