Entries categorized "Downtown"

Dangerous Depot

Depot1
The 30% Design (excerpt)

 

Necessary ADA improvements at Davis Train Station are complicated by toxic over-promise of shared infrastructure.

Facilities essential to support modern train-bike multi-modal travel a vague promise.

City Council plans to sign an MOU with Amtrak at their meeting today; a update of the “30% design” for station modifications will also be presented. 

Starting in around 2012 the City of Davis - in cooperation or partnership with Amtrak and Capitol Corridor - began to attempt improvements for multi-modal access to the Southern Pacific Railway Depot, aka. Davis Depot, Davis Amtrak etc. In 2018-2020 this continued with an outreach program to determine desires and consider possibilities. (There are some bad links there, here is the Final Study). In subsequent years and through the present day Amtrak and Union Pacific made the City aware of a national program to ensure that Amtrak stations are ADA-compliant.

I fully support the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and related ideas in mobility equity, and have actively done so for a long time. I applied the general principles to a train station optimization concept I worked on when I lived in Prague nearly 20 years ago, and - back in the USA in the past ten years for a water shuttle in the Estuary between Alameda and Oakland, and in Davis in regards to continued lack of a sidewalk from Old East Davis east of L and more acutely as an overgrown lot forced people to walk on 2nd Street. 

 

Depot1a

Unfortunately, however, the absolutely late and totally necessary ADA improvements also planned for Davis Depot, while ostensibly improving the lot for people with mobility challenges will likely create not continual yet repeating complications for these users and people who use bikes or walk.

And it’s all completely unnecessary. 

While safe infrastructure for everyone moving not by private vehicle is a necessary entitlement, there’s only a Federal law for people with mobility challenges, not - yet - for people riding bikes. So while I will focus on what I now am coining as TOPoS - toxic over-promise of shared infrastructure - I will also highlight the lowlights of barely vaguely planned bicycle facilities at the train station. 

 

TOPoS

One doesn’t have to spend a long time on NextDoor forums focused on Davis to see a most often justified call for people to “slow down on Greenbelts” when riding bikes, and especially e-bikes and e-scooters. It’s anti-social when people do this, but what do we expect? Enforcement will never solve this, and technology fixes such as used on parts of UCD campus for shared micromobility devices don’t work with private micromobility devices, and may not for a very long time. The Greenbelt paths are in many parts of town the only active transportation (and dog walking etc.) corridors free from motor vehicles. While it’s an advantage that some go above or below arterial streets, I believe the actual physical and sound distance from motor vehicles that’s the biggest plus. Bike lanes do not provide this, slip lanes (free right turns) are especially good at encouraging people to take Greenbelt paths… to the detriment of other users.

I formally considered that the Greenbelt paths are underbuilt - i.e. too narrow, in too many cases with unnecessary bollards at egress points to the street grid and some bad sightlines, too - but increasing width where possible may only serve to increase the velocity of users. 

Please note that many are called “bike paths” when - technically-speaking - they are multi-use paths. More on that in a moment….

Our current Class II bike lanes on most arteries are often not enough for side-by-side riding, an insult and more when many arteries have two lanes in the same direction.

What’s necessary is protected bike lanes - cycleways - on major arterial streets, optimized for the two general cruising speeds of their users - slower bikes and some e-scooters & faster bikes and e-bikes and some e-scooters… approximately 13 mph and 20-23 mph. They need to be wide enough to permit someone a faster device to pass two riding side-by-side going slower. That’s a necessary way to get more people to cycle in Davis and do it safety. This won’t happen if we ask people on e-bikes that travel at 20 mph without much effort to be nice, etc, or some “bike lanes for everyone” campaign. 

So, how does TOPoS relate to ADA-compliance at Davis Depot?

Well, we’re not at the train station just yet….

 

Depot2
From my 2007 Concept for Prague's Main Train Station


The Davis Wall 

While developers etc name many things (proposed) in Davis somewhat to fully-fictionally - e.g. “Village Farms” - not village and ex-farms, Oaktree Plaza - removed oak trees - “Village Homes” - sorry to go anti-sacred cow but where’s the cobbler?,  “Palomino Place”  - lack of horses, you know, like Wildhorse, ‘North Davis Creek” - like it as a wild feature but not as a development, whose creators seem to have created that name… what about the huge barrier to cycling and mobility device use running east-west across the lower third of Davis?

Every existing grade-separated crossing of I-80 and/or the railroad tracks has approximately an 6.5% to 8%. The exception is the section of  the Putah Creek Parkway multi-user path going under the train tracks and up to the Arboretum.. The section going up from under I-80 to Research Park Drive is steep too, but fortunately short.

The new section of the multi-user path that’s part of the 80-Richards interchange project and which goes under its new ramps will have a 4.2% gradient. This is a standard design practice for multi-use paths, though some go to 5%. To be ADA-compliant everything above 5% needs railings and repeating short sections of max 2% gradient.  Thus, the existing over-crossings on Pole Line and even the Dave Pelz bridge are not compliant. The new over-crossing of SR-113 in Woodland is 5% or less

The planned campus side of the Promenade over-crossing will be 4.2%, but the project side - the City side - will be 8%.  

Why 8%? Because there’s apparently no space for a longer route on the project side. Why 8%? Because the full City Council brought what was then generally known as “Nishi 2.0” forward to a citywide vote without an agreement with Union Pacific that there would be an undercrossing (that would be under 5%). Why 8%? Because pro-Nishi 2.0 materials showed a visual of an undercrossing, whereas the actual text of the development agreement said “grade-separated crossing”. It was a con-job, and so sloppy and apparently embarrassing that it was not officially-revealed by the City until May 2023 that Union Pacific officially-rejected the undercrossing proposal that the developer and partners made in the fall of 2018, a few months after the Nishi 2.0 vote. The gradient is so unusable that City staff agreed months ago that likely nearly everyone traveling by foot, mobility device or bike from Promenade towards campus (and Downtown) will use the existing under-crossing mentioned above on the Putah Creek Parkway. (A proposed mitigation of the I-80 “Improvement Project” is a widening of the multi-user path along the Downtown side of the Arboretum, but the undercrossing (tunnel) will not be widened, so it will remain a pinch point.) 

The 'Davis Wall" is nor necessarily above-grade. It's a barrier caused by both infrastructure and institutions. Minor walls in Davis could also include the H St "Bike Tunnel" towards F St, or a lack of active transportation crossings of SR-113 - even though they are at-grade and level - or even the noise produced by all road infrastructure

 

Are we almost at the train station?

Going back around ten years, the City performed an audit and outreach process related to walking and cycling access to schools in the City. Amongst other things, it correctly and wisely revealed that children living on East Olive Drive had a huge barrier to get to Montgomery Elementary, closest as the bird flies (and to other schools such as Peregrine or in East Davis, etc).

The solution was a ramp from the east end of Olive Drive to Pole Line, thus forming an aggregate multi-path towards Montgomery heading down and under Pole Line, under Cowell Blvd, past Playfields Park, etc.

The ramp had to get up to Pole Line BUT also leave room for the Olive Drive off-ramp from WB I-80 to remain open. To be clear, the latter was not stated at the time, not when it was finally decided by Caltrans to close the exit - though it’s not yet structurally-closed: This may be an innocent contingency in case there’s a complication in construction of 80-Richards, or Caltrans may decide to change its mind.

The resulting ramp is ADA-compliant, no more than 8%. As mentioned above, everything else in the region and beyond - I scoured recent, relevant recipient designs from the Active Transportation Program, a Federally-funded program administered by the State of California and provider of most of the funding for the Olive-Pole Line connector - is 5% or less. 

From my unfortunately non-conclusive research on the issue, I provisionally-conclude that it was never, ever the intention of ADA to result in 8% ramps that are about 400 long and shared with people on bikes. The gradient and length creates multiple issues:

  • It’s difficult to control speed whilst heading down on a bike, and above 12 mph or so the ADA-required undulations cause a bike and its human to nearly jump. 
  • The relative lack of width combined with mentioned speed doing down makes collisions between users going in opposite directions a possibility.
  • The gradient makes it difficult for people on non-e-bikes to travel up; this is made worse by the undulations which make it hard to get any kind of rhythm IF one can muster the strength and stamina. 

It’s not really good for anyone except for people on e-bikes, and more or less impossible for e.g. parents taking children to school with non-electric cargo bikes. This is the epitome of non-equitable infrastructure, especially in a “family”, “bike” etc etc. Davis. 

(Why did this happen? I will take part of the blame, as I was on the Bicycling, Transportation and Street Safety Commission at the time. But I am not a licensed etc. traffic engineer. The licensed etc. traffic engineering firm that designed it didn’t say a thing… the licensed etc traffic engineer for the City of Davis… didn’t exist at the time. There was no senior-level traffic engineer in Davis from 2017 until 2022.  I also think that the funder should have noticed these technical issues, and returned the grant application for revisions.)

Please think about these issues when you observe people using the Connector - How many people get off their bikes to go up? How many are actually using it at all?

 

Station Access from Olive

It’s worth noting that the approval for what was then called Lincoln40 and is now Ryder Apartments included both a below-Street Standards width for the newly-built sidewalk on the project side of Olive as well as a hard “no” to bring the bike lane up to the Street Standards minimum, and the same for the bike lane on the south side of the street. This would have resulted in less land for the Apartments. 

(As part of the promised closure of the on-ramp, there’s been some vague promise of a shared street concept for Olive. It’s also worth noting that the bike lane-ish space on most of the EB side, east of In & Out has cars parked in it. Staff has refused to change it and the police have not enforced a thing).

The easement on the west end of Ryder - is it too short to allow for a 5% grade from the sidewalk at Olive Dr to the underpassage? It’s not clear: The 30% seems to show a path that’s two-thirds 8% grade closer to the station and then level in its remaining third to Olive. The original concept back during the Lincoln40 approval process had some kind of corkscrew-based overcrossing. A better approach - well, from Pole Line - would have been a long ramp with a mild gradient situated in what’s now the back of the Ryder property, circling to the undercrossing. Sigh. I think a good traffic engineer could have identified it as a partial solution. 

 

OK, we’re finally at the train station!

Lack of Specific Design Experience?

WSP - designing the station improvement for Amtrak -  is a huge, multinational engineering firm with a massive portfolio even just in the train station/mobility hub sub-sector, with many prominent examples that will facilitate the expansion of sustainable mobility across the country and beyond.  That’s not up for debate. 

Based on a short discussion with its engineers present at the outreach event earlier this year, they’ve worked with Amtrak on many ADA-improvement projects. That’s great. 

What I don’t see on their website is a lot of… bikes. Cycling is just one part of a robust sustainable mobility program, but I just don’t see any highlighted examples for cycling infrastructure nor for ADA infrastructure for train station access combined with cycling infrastructure not necessarily focused on train station access. I am happy if I am in error about this… but the bottom line perhaps is that I don’t see any evidence of an earlier or under-construction WSP project relevant to our specific needs in Davis. 

I’ve not had time to research it in detail, but I don’t think Amtrak has a coherent, strategic plan for bicycle and rail multi-modality. (Again, prove me wrong!). If there’s not much there, then it’s fair to assume that WSP didn’t have a lot of direction on the matter. 

If no one cycled in Davis, and everyone arrived at Davis Depot by car or bus and walked or went by mobility device etc to the platforms, things would be okay. (As the entire station is not being rebuilt - this could include a large plaza with a very, very gradual gradient leading to bicycle parking and above that the platforms accessed by escalator or elevator - things would be amazing. This is basically the template for new or rebuilt train stations in the Netherlands. )

But okay is good. Great would be a 100% elevator path option for people in mobility devices from both sides of the station; the current plan only has an elevator between the underpassage and the new center platform. The “okay” is ADA-compliant, and for this and other reasons if I was only walking to the train I would not mind that it takes more time than in the current design (rail services will have shorter delays while approaching the station that might make up for that). 

But not everyone who is arriving at Davis Depot is coming by car or bus and foot and mobility device etc, and many people traveling this way in both directions - from Downtown or Olive Dr, South Davis, Promenade - are not going to or from the trains at all.

Their 30% Davis Depot design, however and sadly, builds upon the TOPoS qualities of the Olive to Pole Line Connector. It contains:

  • An undulating ramp on both sides of the station. 
  • A bicycle wheel gutter on the wide, expressive stairs. (This solution should only be used to retrofit existing stairs, not in new builds. The best underground bike parking facilities have very long ramps which are sometimes cycleable; platforms are accessed as mentioned above in the Dutch example.)
  • In addition, the overall design contains:
  • No hint of bicycle parking on the Olive Dr side of the station
  • Only some kind of vague mention of bike parking on the Downtown side, and nothing for large, cargo bikes, or the more expensive e-cargo bikes. (Imagine if SUV’s couldn’t be parked at the station). 
  • No provision for eventually connecting toward J St (this would enable people walking or cycling from the east to avoid any freight train blockages and in aggregate with the crossing to Olive Dr would make illegal encroachment of the track areas less likely)
    No provision for eventually connecting under H St, and even to a below-grade entrance of the new apartment building in the old Ace home furnishings space).
  • Too much regret at “losing” car parking in a City that is supposed to prioritize active transportation. We’re not yet called Not the Car Parking Capital of the USA for nothing. 

 

Here are some scenarios to illustrate the issues, with approaches from all directions and origins:

A family from South Davis heads toward the train: an adult with two kids in a fancy e-cargo bike - manages the climb up Pole Line but struggles on the way down the Connector, fortunately mostly without any other traffic. After heading down Olive they make a more than hard right onto the ramp which has a similar gradient to the Connector. They share the ramp - train departure is approaching -  with a few people walking at one speed, a single person in a motorized mobility device going a bit faster and some people on bikes originating in Downtown headed towards Olive Dr from the opposite direction. They reach the Downtown side. The kids get out of the bike and the adult pushes the heavy bike up the long steep ramp. They walk to the short-term design bike parking (Varsity racks etc which are currently used), lock their bike, walking down the stairs, walk up the ramp to the platform. When they return to Davis Depot at the end of the day the bike is, quite obviously, not there. (Option is that what’s not there is a fancy adaptive bike). 

An individual who uses a manual mobility device comes from South Davis by car via Richards Blvd. They are slowed by congestion in the Richards Tunnel, park in an ADA space and then take the ramp to the underpassage and attempt to take the elevator to the platform. The elevator is not working, so they have to take the ramp. They barely make the train. 

Two UCD students who live in South Davis travel by bike from Downtown. They’ve had a beer each, are only a bit tipsy, below the legal limit. They head down the undulating ramp, perhaps a bit too fast, but it’s steep. They don’t notice that the train has just arrived.  At the hairpin turn, one loses traction but recovers a bit just before nearly slamming into someone with a guide dog who lives on Olive Drive, headed Downtown.  The other stops at the bottom just as people from the arriving trains start arriving at the bottom of the ramp. 

A Ryder resident who uses a motorized mobility device exits their building via the west entrance, and has to immediately head to the left, using the sidewalk, turning right onto the sidewalk on Olive and then over to the ramp. Not direct and a waste of time. 

These are all worst-case scenarios, and certainly more likely when there’s a concurrence of uses: People going to or from trains, people headed to or from Olive Dr with no train objective… and multiple user types: walking, mobility device, slow bike, fast bike, heavy bike etc.). It won’t be like this all day; it might be like this at peaks. It cannot be made un-toxic with enforcement, signage or slogans. It makes the Depot more dangerous than it should be. 

Language, language: Note that the 30% design shows a “bike/ped easement” and a “bike-ped connection” for what’s formally a multi-use path that’s optimized for people using mobility devices, ideally without the presence of people moving faster than them. 

 

Depot3
From my Concept for Davis Depot

Solutions?

I sent in comments and a design concept to the BTSSC in advance of their April 13, 2023 meeting that’s referenced in the Staff Report for tonight’s meeting. That meeting was not recorded. I saw no reference to my design or comments in the minutes and Commissioner comments apparently focused only on the underpass or overpass options, nothing about gradients, shared use, bike parking etc. 

Following the outreach events earlier this year - which were quite informal and according to tonight’s Staff Report again focused only on over- or under- I drew up a more detailed concept for modifications, and discussed this in person with City of Davis Staff in March of this year. I’ve developed a bit further, so here goes nuthin’....

The main strategic elements are:

  • Separate users on the most problematic sections of the project area.
  • Create a more direct path for target users using mobility devices covered by ADA.
  • Reduce unnecessary transits through the station whilst maintaining a desire to use active transportation through and to/from the station.
  • Reduce unnecessary visits to the platform by people meeting arriving passengers. 
  • Reduce unnecessary transits by motor vehicle through the Richards tunnel
  • Plan for likely significant demand from residents of Promenade, only one intersection and a short, mostly level ride away. 
  • Amend formal agreements as necessary related to provision of private vehicle parking at Davis Depot, and negotiate use of part of the parking at Ryder.

The main implementation elements are:

  • Creating a continuous elevator choice for people with mobility devices covered by ADA. This will mean two more elevators: One on the plaza side and on the Olive Dr side.
  • Implement a 4.2% (ideal) or max. 5% grade max path on the Downtown (plaza) side prioritized for people on bikes, but as backup in case the plaza-to-underpassage elevator is out of service. It should include markings etc to maintain safety within the parking lot. 
  • Implement a 5% grade max path on the Olive Dr side, prioritized for people on bikes. (If the space is too short within the current easement, either extend the easement into Olive Dr or add length within (below the parking lot grade), or add a second back up elevator)
  • Create an ADA-compliant path directly from the west egress of Ryder Apartments to the Olive Dr side elevator. 
  • Create an inviting seating area oriented towards the elevator and stairs on the plaza side, so that arriving passengers - not heading to their cars - will know exactly where to meet. Include cover for shade and inclement weather, and space for e.g. a small food cart or two. 
  • Implement ADA-only parking on the existing Ryder lot (so people don’t have to drive through the Richards tunnel.)
  • Design under passages on plaza side to facilitate further phase under passages towards J St and G St. 

 

Bicycle parking: 

Strategy: Create an equal level of bicycle parking security for all train passengers, whether for all-day or overnight,

Implementation:

  • A small amount of short-term parking, e.g. for people doing station business or waiting for arrivals. 
  • Group-room based parking based on technology and structures used by BikeLink (operator of the current bike lockers) at BART stations such as Ashby and Embarcadero. Include space for bikes of all reasonable sizes. These parking rooms will be expandable: They will have a fixed portal area but can be extended by addition of glass and metal as demand warrants: 
  • The plaza side group room will be located close to the elevator. 
  • The Olive Dr side group room will be built over the under-passage, with access from the Ryder parking lot (note that many private properties in Davis allow transit between the local street grid and e.g. Greenbelt paths). Build close to the elevator: People who use the bike parking, Ryder residents and mobility device users will be encouraged to use the elevator. 
  • Relocate short term parking racks to Downtown or other needed areas.
  • Relocate/sell e-lockers to local or regional Park(Bike)& Ride facilities. 

Note on passive and other communication about likely under passage congestion: Users transiting the under passage will learn that if there’s no train on the platform or approaching it, there’s less likely to be users just getting off the train. While signage as a solution will not likely not be effective, it might be useful to consider some kind of active sign, e.g. a pictogram of a train etc, that is lit up during the a specific period of time, e.g. 5 minutes before every train departs and 3 to 5 min after it leaves. This may help normally better behaving people be more aware of possible issues. 

Staff told me that the ideas for bike parking on the Olive Dr side of the station were appreciated and they promised to ask some questions about gradients on the Olive side. They said they would look into a design that would allow for further undercrossings towards J St and under H St. 

In early April I corresponded about the issue with staff from Capitol Corridor. It was made clear to me that ADA-access was Amtrak’s priority, not cycling, and that funding could not be used for improving cycling, at least not as a priority of the project, but that further cooperation was possible between all the partner

My response at this juncture - which I hope I have made clear by now - is that if the station and approaches do not respect the true and equitable limits of shared space, barrier will remain for the user of mobility devices, and for ADA compliance. A lack of optimization in this area will also improve bike & rail multi-modality less than it could, and will improve conditions for cycling and walking in Davis less than it could.


Davis Downtown names Brett Lee as executive director

Lee_DDBA
Brett Lee (Courtesy photo)

(From press release) Former Davis Mayor Brett Lee has been named executive director of the Davis Downtown Business Association, effective June 3.

Lee replaces Brett Maresca, who stepped down from the role on Jan. 26 to pursue other opportunities. Former Davis City Manager Dirk Brazil has been interim executive director since Feb. 12.

Lee served on the Davis City Council from 2012 to 2020 – the last two of those years as mayor. He’s a third-generation Davis resident and is raising his 15-year-old son here. Lee has degrees from UC Berkeley and the London School of Economics. For the past nine years, he has worked as a process improvement engineer for Farm Fresh to You, a subscription-based organic produce delivery service of Capay Organic farm.

Kevin Wan, president of the Davis Downtown board of directors, is thrilled to welcome Lee. “His existing relationships with city staff and his experience with the politics of Davis make him the perfect fit to lead Davis Downtown and champion our mission. Since his days on City Council, he has always been an advocate of our downtown, especially for clean and safe streets, which – year after year – is a top concern with our membership. His skill set will be a tremendous asset to help us navigate an evolving economic landscape.”

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Open Discussion: Bob Dunning Terminated by Davis Enterprise Owners (an Al's Corner Exclusive)

Adfc46d7-dadc-4553-a16a-0777ff3b922bIn a bozo move by the owners of the Davis Enterprise, Bob Dunning was terminated without so much as a thank you after 55 years of service to the paper (and Davis).

Shelley Dunning pays a very sweet tribute in a 7-minute video on her Facebook page:

facebook.com/shelleydunning

She also outlines how cold the termination was.  I doubt that will sit well with the Davis community.

Bob's column will continue at: 

thewaryone.com

Please share your thoughts here in comments regarding this poorly-handled move by the owners of the Davis Enterprise.

Full disclosure:  Bob Dunning once wrote a column about how I should be on the City Council :-|

Note:  Pardon the pictured haircut, Bob, this is what A.I. gave me when I described the incident!


Picnic in the Park returns to Davis on May 1

PIP2023
Patrons enjoy the first Picnic in the Park of the 2023 season. The annual Davis Farmers Market tradition returns in May, and runs every Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m. through September in Central Park. (Wendy Weitzel/Courtesy photo)

(From press release) The music, food and family fun of Picnic in the Park returns to the Davis Farmers Market on May 1.

The popular event is every Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m., May through September. A local band plays each night. There’s children’s entertainment, loads of food vendors, and plenty of opportunity to gather as a community. October through April, there’s a traditional farmers market on Wednesdays, from 3 to 6 p.m.

Upcoming bands on the 2024 Picnic in the Park schedule are: Cold Shot (dance party) on May 1; 5-Star Alcatraz (indie, alt rock) on May 8; Kindred Spirits (folk rock) on May 15; Penny Lane (Beatles) on May 22; According to Bazooka (indie, folk, pop) on May 29; The Teds (rock) on June 5; Island Crew (beach tunes) on June 12; and Julie and the Jukes (classic blues) on June 19. Bands are still being booked through September. Check the entertainment schedule at https://www.davisfarmersmarket.org/entertainment-schedule/.

Tables and chairs in the Market Food Court are sponsored by A Grand Affair Party and Event Rentals. They are for use while enjoying market-purchased food. Patrons are encouraged to bring their own chairs and blankets for picnicking on the lawn.

During operating hours, the market will have an open-container permit, allowing patrons to consume alcohol, whether it’s canned beer from one of the four Davis breweries rotating each week, a bottle of wine from Heringer Estates, or a beverage they brought from home. Check the brewery rotation schedule at https://www.davisfarmersmarket.org/2024-beer-schedule/.

Picnic in the Park will focus on family-friendly children’s activities and music, along with a wide range of food made from market ingredients. There is a clown, face-painter and children’s activities. The Davis Schools Foundation is organizing the pedal-powered carousel.

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Reply from city staff concerning Sierra Club's downtown housing recommendations

The following email was received by members of the Sierra Club Yolano Group Management Committee yesterday (Apr 4, 2024) in response to the email outlining the recommendations of the Sierra Club Management Committee for Davis downtown housing projects:

Thank you for taking the time to send us your thoughts on the downtown Davis housing projects.  While your email has been received by the City Council members, I want to take this opportunity to respond to your comments.

  1. As you have correctly noted, both the Lumberyard project and the project at 240 G have a 5% affordability requirement. Both of these projects applied for approval when our housing element was not certified and our new inclusionary ordinance had not gone into effect and were therefore afforded the ability to lock in the previous affordability rate of 5%.  Our new inclusionary housing ordinance, which complies with State Law, limits the affordable housing cap to 15%.  The City of Davis cannot require more than 15% as we are unable to demonstrate that it is financially feasible to construct a project with more than 15% affordable units included.    The project at 4th and G, which proposed 20% affordable units under a different provision of the law, is not moving forward as it has been withdrawn.
  1. As you know, parking is not required in the downtown Davis specific plan area. The Lumberyard project has no associated parking while the 240 G project has some underground parking.  Both projects are providing a space for a shared car and pick up space for a ride share car.  Disabled parking is not required if no parking is required. Therefore, the 240 G project will have some ADA accessible parking.
  1. Both of the referenced projects have provided large, indoor bike storage rooms within their projects. Charging stations will also be provided.
  1. Both of the referenced projects have planned for large recreational spaces. 240 G has space planned on the roof of the building.  The Lumberyard includes more traditional space planned for the interior courtyard areas of the project.
  1. Both projects are being conditioned to plant and maintain landscaping in accordance with city standards.

Please let me know if you have any further questions or comments.

SHERRI A. METZKER

Community Development Director


Recommendations to the Davis City Council for Downtown Housing Projects

Submitted for consideration by the Davis City Council from the Sierra Club Yolano Group (email sent 4/2/2024)

March 30, 2024

Recently, several housing projects have been proposed for downtown Davis: one at the site of the former Hibbert Lumberyard at the intersection of G Street and 5th Street (“The Lumberyard”), one at the site of the former Regal Cinemas Davis Stadium 5 at the intersection of G Street and 4th Street, and one at 240 G Street. 

We write to express our strong support of these sorts of infill projects, projects that would increase housing density in Davis, allowing for more efficient use of land and creating the potential for reduced-carbon lifestyles. However, we have concerns about the details of the projects and urge that they be addressed prior to approval:

  1. Increase affordable housing. Davis’s greatest housing need is for affordable housing, yet only the 4th and G Street project provides for a reasonable percentage of affordable housing (20%, in accordance with the “Builder’s Remedy” that they are applying under). The other two projects are only proposing 5% affordable housing, which does very little to address Davis’s affordable housing needs.  Equity demands that a higher percentage of affordable housing – at least 20% – be included in all future downtown housing projects. 5% is totally unacceptable. If Proposition 1 funds become available, the minimum required percentage should be increased to 25%.

  2. Increase feasibility of a car-free lifestyle for all potential residents. Two out of the three projects (the Lumberyard and 240 G Street) provide for very little parking. We commend the attempt to foster a car-free lifestyle that could be possible in the downtown, especially if increased numbers of residents are able to attract more retail businesses.  However, the units should be feasible for all, and car-free lifestyles can be difficult for those with mobility challenges, including but not limited to some elderly seniors.  Thus, the housing projects need to facilitate other ways of getting around by including, for example, an area for taxis/Uber/Lyft/DoorDash/etc. to pick up and drop off.  Projects should provide a minimum percentage of parking spaces for people who have Disabled Person (DP) placards.  Putting funds toward improving public transportation in the downtown (including microtransit) – or having dedicated vans are other options that we strongly recommend; developers should work with the City and UCD on this, with subsidized passes provided for people with low incomes.

    We understand that some members of the community think that there should be parking minimum requirements for downtown housing projects. However, to create a walkable, active transit oriented lifestyle (which many younger people in particular have been asking for), we need fewer, not more, cars downtown.  This is the best way to achieve our climate goals. We have suggested a variety of ways to try to make it easier for everyone to live downtown, but other solutions may be possible and feasible; the City should consult with relevant experts, such as disability access professionals.

  3. Support use of vehicles other than cars. Car-free lifestyles can be facilitated with bicycles, e-bikes and e-scooters. To that end, projects should be required to set aside a sufficient number of covered spaces for these vehicles relative to number of bedrooms and units.  Moreover, San Francisco’s recent experience (https://www.sfchronicle.com/sf/article/bike-scooter-battery-fire-17869505.php) has shown that some of the batteries for e-bikes and e-scooters can be fire hazards.  Davis should look to NYC’s ordinances (they are ahead of other municipalities) as a way to mitigate the risk of fire when e-bikes and e-scooters are brought indoors.  To further facilitate the use of these vehicles, charging stations should be provided.

  4. Ensure a high quality of life for residents. Living in a dense environment can be physically and psychologically challenging if it is not done correctly. This can be ameliorated by providing greenspace, rooftop gardens, etc.  The City of Davis should work with developers to identify community garden space and/or spaces where residents of these housing developments can grow food or plants (e.g., on balconies or window boxes).  Again, this is an equity issue.

  5. Require planting and maintenance of trees and landscaping. One of the goals of the Davis Climate Action and Adaptation Plan is to “...create a cooler city with more urban forest and green space for people and habitat.” To help further that goal, developers should fund the planting and maintenance of trees in internal plazas and along public sidewalks, using best practices for producing a street canopy developed in concert with Tree Davis and the Davis Tree Commission.

Thank you for your consideration of these recommended changes.

Respectfully submitted,

The Sierra Club Yolano Group Management Committee

The Sierra Club Yolano Group is comprised of over 1,400 Sierra Club members from Yolo County, a portion of eastern Solano County, and a portion of southern Colusa County.


Three Davis Farmers Market vendors featured in new Food Network show

BiteGroup
Contestants and judges pose with Guy Fieri on Aug. 1, the day the “Best Bite in Town” was filmed in Davis’ Central Park (Courtesy photo)

(From press release) Six Davis restaurants are featured in the premiere of Food Network’s newest series “Best Bite in Town,” which airs Sunday, April 7 at 10 p.m. Three of those restaurants are vendors at the Davis Farmers Market, and will be available at the Saturday, April 6 market in downtown Davis.

The six restaurants are Handheld Sweet & Savory Pies, Hikari Sushi & Omakase, The Hotdogger, Sudwerk Brewing Co., Tommy J’s Grill and Zumapoke. From 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Handheld, The Hotdogger and Zumapoke will be at the Davis Farmers Market, in Central Park, 301 C St. in Davis. The park is where the competition segment of the show was filmed. The winner will not be announced before it airs.

For the show, filmed in late July and early August, Guy Fieri sends a trio of judges, his buddy Noah Cappe and acclaimed chefs Tiffani Faison and Jet Tila, to hit the food scene in Davis. Each judge selects two restaurants, trying everything from college hangouts and local pubs to bicycle-friendly eateries and high-end sushi. After tasting a wide variety of delicious food, they select one dish each to take to a crowd-packed showcase in Central Park where a panel of Fieri judges taste and determine which restaurant has the best bite in town.

Continue reading "Three Davis Farmers Market vendors featured in new Food Network show" »


Davis Downtown names Brazil interim executive director

DirkBrazil
Dirk Brazil (courtesy photo)

(From press release) Former Davis City Manager Dirk Brazil has been named interim executive director of the Davis Downtown Business Association, effective Monday, Feb. 12.

He replaces Brett Maresca, who stepped down from the role on Jan. 26 to pursue other opportunities.

Brazil served as Davis city manager from 2014 to 2017, and as Yolo County assistant county administrator from 2006 to 2014. After retiring in 2017, Brazil worked as interim city manager for the cities of South Lake Tahoe and Alameda, and as the interim executive director of the Yolo Habitat Conservancy. 

“I’m looking forward to working with the DDBA board and their membership in the next few months to first, help them in their search for a new executive director, and second, to look into how best to possibly restructure DDBA into a more focused and effective organization,” Brazil said. “I’ll also seek collaboration opportunities with City of Davis elected officials and city staff, as well as UC Davis administration. There is a great deal of potential in these partnerships.”

Continue reading "Davis Downtown names Brazil interim executive director" »


G Street Reimagined

G Street Reimagined-1
(Click to see larger version)

By Architect Marcus Marino of Design M Group

On October 4th, the engineering firm hired by City planning staff presented their options for G Street to the community for comments. The Davis Enterprise newspaper wrote an article on this but neglected to mention the alternative plan prepared and presented by the Davis architectural firm, Design M Group. The firm’s architect, Marcus Marino, explained the major differences between his proposal and the City planning staff’s proposals.

The City of Davis has reduced G Street to a 20-foot wide pedestrian/emergency vehicle area in the center of the street. City Planning’s proposal is to keep the sidewalks for pedestrians as well. Design M Group proposes a different plan: pedestrians use the center width of the street while using the existing sidewalks and sides of the street for restaurant seating, store display areas, or parklets with kiosks. This plan could enliven the pedestrian area, allowing a more cohesive atmosphere for the extension of the restaurants and potentially increasing revenue for the City of Davis.

Design M Group proposes making G Street level from the pedestrian area to the sidewalks by milling the street and using an outdoor, raised flooring system. This raised flooring would permit stormwater to continue to flow in the same way that it does now, potentially reducing costs to the City. Design M Group’s proposal also aims to have a simpler and more cost-efficient way to correct the parking area near 2nd Street.

G Street Reimagined-2
(Click to see larger version)

The most dramatic part of the proposal was the suggestion to build gateway signs over the entrances to the G Street area as an homage to the original Davis Arch that stood from 1916 to 1924. The gateway columns would be conical, like those of the original Davis Arch, and they would be built with perforated stainless-steel material that would be lit from the inside—creating a starry night sky effect as people walked by the structure.

Downtown advocate Aaron Wedra has closely followed both the City's and Design M Group's plans and expressed his view by stating, "I believe Design M Group's recommendations offer more substantial improvements to the pedestrian area of G Street than what the City has considered up to this point. The City has repeatedly emphasized adding strand lighting and street art (and other small improvements), but so much more could be done. This space is our city’s historic main street and, considering its proximity to the train station, could serve as the gateway to downtown. Putting a gateway arch on at least the South entrance would bring a lot of life to this pedestrian space. Additionally, Design M Group’s plans make much better use of the entire width of the street. The City’s current plans seem to partition the street into at least five segments unnecessarily."

Design M Group’s architectural renderings can be seen at https://smartzgraphics.wixsite.com/design-m.


Thursdays in The Davisphere canceled for 2023

(From press release) Thursdays in The Davisphere, the concert series launched in 2022 by Davis Downtown, is on hiatus until 2024.

The board of the Davis Downtown Business Association decided this month to cancel the 2023 event, planned for Oct. 26 in Central Park. In 2024, the organization is looking to bring Thursdays in The Davisphere further into the downtown core, to add vibrant energy to its downtown member businesses.

DDBA Executive Director Brett Maresca said several factors led to the difficult decision. The postponement gives the organization time to raise funds and plan for a spectacular 2024 series.

The inaugural season of Thursdays in The Davisphere was weekly in September and October 2022, thanks to funding from a city of Davis grant to revitalize local businesses emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic. A follow-up survey showed a nearly 90% approval rating of the event, citing the energy and vibrancy it brought to the downtown. Davis Downtown provided a designated nonprofit beneficiary to receive a portion of proceeds from beer and wine sales.

Davis Downtown is recruiting sponsors and vendors. Sponsorships would allow the organization to offer multiple Thursdays in The Davisphere events in 2024. For details, email [email protected].

Davis Downtown leads and energizes the downtown as the primary business, entertainment and cultural center of Davis. Alive with activity seven days a week, downtown Davis draws locals and visitors alike to experience fine food and beverages, retail, professional services, arts and entertainment in an extraordinary and sustainable gathering place.

  • For more information on The Davisphere, visit thedavisphere.com.
  • Learn more about Davis Downtown events and programs at davisdowntown.com.
  • To stay abreast of activities, sign up for the Davis Downtown email newsletter at davisdowntown.com/subscribe.
  • Follow Davis Downtown on Facebook at @davisdowntown and on Instagram at @davis.downtown.

Hot Davis Days Cars & Coffee is Sunday

CoffeeAndCars
Attendees enjoy the 2022 Hot Davis Days Cars & Coffee event. (Chris Lossin, CPP, Aperture Alley Photography)

(From press release) Davis Downtown will present its third annual Hot Davis Days Cars & Coffee event on Sunday, Aug. 13 in Central Park, 301 C St.

The event, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., is free for participants and attendees. Vintage, new, electric and other specialty vehicles are welcome. No registration necessary. Participants are asked to bring their cars to the Farmers Market Pavilion between 9:30 and 10 a.m. Once that area is full, overflow vehicles for the show may park on C Street, between Third and Fourth streets.

Patrons and participants may enjoy treats from Upper Crust Baking, and coffee from Pachamama. Davis Downtown is collaborating with several other groups to make this year the largest and best Cars & Coffee event yet. These include the car-enthusiast groups Cars and Coffee Sac, Davis Motorsports and Yacht Club Premier Car Club.

For details, visit https://davisdowntown.com/hot-davis-days-cars-coffee/. For additional information, email [email protected].

Davis Downtown leads and energizes the downtown as the primary business, entertainment and cultural center of Davis. Alive with activity seven days a week, downtown Davis draws locals and visitors alike to experience fine food and beverages, retail, professional services, arts and entertainment in an extraordinary and sustainable gathering place.


Ageist, Racist... and not the only collective bicycle solution we need

OBISinclusion
From a presentation I did about bike share in Germany the year after my team's first place win in an international bike share design competition with more than 100 competitors.

The authorities in Greater Davis* (City of Davis and UC Davis) plan to introduce a shared micro-mobility system starting this September (the introduction of e-scooter share and re-introduction of e-bike share). It is the topic of an informational item today at the July meeting of the Bicycling, Transportation and Street Safety Commission (BTSSC) at Davis Senior Center, 530pm in the Activity Room. The planned operator is Spin. (The staff report mentions Lime, a lot -- they are the operator in Sac and West Sac and seemed to have been the operator-in-waiting here through at least the end of 2022).

There was e-bike share in Davis and UC Davis from 2018 until 2020, when Jump, its operator, cancelled it due to lack of use due to COVID-related UCD class cancellations and remote learning. Non UC-users were not considered, or at least were left in the lurch. (It's worth noting that during this time bike share use in other cities increased due to aversion to public transport...)

Following I will address the issues mentioned in my headline, and then briefly will comment on some other features of the draft agreement. There's way too much to address in one article - hopefully the Commission is able to sort through the staff report in a holistic way.  If you want to skip to my juicy accusations of ageism, racism and far from ideal use as a mobility solution, see the sections below entitled 18 and Where's the Fleet?

To step back a bit - and also to educate Commissioners because there's now been 100% turnover in the BTSSC since 2018 and only one of two key City staff members still on board since then - and turnover also at UC Davis TAPS - here's a list of issues for micro-mobility share in our region from the beginning, and also some stuff about my professional history with bike share. Some of the following is anecdotal - as indicated - not due to lack of trying, and mostly because discussions with the private entities involved in operator (and sponsorship) are private, and apparently e.g. NDA's come into play.):

2000s: The advertising and street furniture giant JCDecaux approached the authorities in Lyon, France about sponsoring a new bike share system - there were earlier ones in other European cities, but this was the first one with technology broadly similar to what we have today - in exchange for an exclusive on their main business, a mentioned. This set a template for corporate sponsorship of bike share, especially in the USA, where we have - for example - bike share in NYC sponsored by Citicorp, and in many general east-of-the-Mississippi cities by Blue Cross-Blue Shield (BCBS) associated entities.  In my view, this marriage to corporate sponsors has had some negative impacts, which I don't consider as in any reasonable trade-offs: Citicorp controls banks and real estate loans, and thus directly affects the lives of many of its users outside of their bike share monopoly; BCBS-associated companies have in a rather insidious (ironic) way have healthwashed-with-bikes their opposition to Medicare for All-type plans. This reliance on direct corporate funding is wholly unique to micro-mobility share in the USA, and locally (Capitol Corridor, Regional Transit, Unitrans and Yolobus are mostly supported by passenger fares, government subsidy... including Unitrans by the City) and a small amount by advertising on properties, and in some cases gives control to a private entity with no related regulation, no way for citizens - aside from shareholders - to have a democratic influence.

2003: While leading a study visit to Germany from Prague we were introduced to the bike share system run by the German National Railway Operator. It was early technology, e.g. a staff person told me that the put on pretense that the bikes could be found via GPS trackers, but there were actually none in place.

2009: A team consisting of myself (I was based in Berlin at the time, operating as Green Idea Factory), a Swedish mobility consultant and a Swedish industrial design firm won one of two first prizes for a detailed concept for a dockless bikeshare system in an international competition in Denmark. The concept is articulated further in a presentation I created in 2010.

2017: Sutter and Kaiser were both asked to be main sponsors of bike share in the Sacramento region. Anecdotally, Sutter objected because it wouldn't want Kaiser-branded bikes on its properties, and Kaiser objected because vice-versa. So....no sponsorship happened. Without naming these companies by name, this information came from at the time City Councilmember Frerichs and the now former head of JUMP.

2018: Before the pilot started in the region, the operator JUMP was purchased by UBER. The pilot started in Davis without input from the BTSSC, because Staff wanted to start by "bike month" in May of that year. Also around this time West Sacramento started negotiations to work with a different operator, but were talked out of it.

2019: The BTSSC was only allowed to formally review the system after a year. At the time  I was on the BTSSC and I wrote a critical report, mentioning age and weight limits and other issues.

2019: Since the beginning, throughout this year and into 2020, there was a issue about bikes being parked in a way which would encumber or threaten others. Leaving aside how this compares to what car and delivery truck drivers do, it was something that needed to be addressed. Staff was very resistant for a time  to the idea of parking bikes in the street "like a motorcycle" - and people were doing this on their own, but it was not officially-sanctioned -  but then when I came forward with a detailed proposal - at the time I was still on the BTSSC - but was then told that staff had already decided to do it. See also. Unfortunately this was never officially put into practice by the time that JUMP ended bike share operations in spring 2020. Spin operates on the campus of UCSD, and their parking instruction video is over five years old, and hardly anyone has watched it. Rules need to be intuitive.

2019: OK, possibly in 2018? The City had BTSSC members and others tested perhaps six different types of e-scooters in anticipation of their possible allowance for general use by City Council.

Early 2020: JUMP cancelled bikeshare through the region, as mentioned. The staff report doesn't mention that a  great deal of its bikes and supporting technology was simply and literally trashed.

2022: Bikeshare and scootershare started again in Sacramento and West Sacramento, operated by LIME (who purchased JUMP from UBER) with government financial sponsorship (something not happening with Davis/UC Davis.)

 

Spinbike
Is this the bike they're planning to use here? Can't tell if there's a way to secure something in the rack... if not, that's a deal breaker! https://www.spin.app/s-300

 

18

From its beginning as a pilot just in Sacramento, bike share in the region (this plan joins non-connected systems in Sacramento and West Sacramento), has had a minimum age limit of 18.  It's critical to understand that there is no state regulation preventing anyone who is able to ride a bike from using the type of e-bike - a Class 1 e-bike - that Spin will provide, and e-scooters require only any classification of driver's license (so at lowest, 16 for the latter, and perhaps state ID's do not count.)

Lower-income families have fewer mobility options, generally-speaking (e.g. fewer cars, prohibitively expense train tickets, etc.) and youth members of these households even more so. Brown and Black people are disprotionately-represented in these households. So not only is the proposed agreement between the City of Davis, UC Davis and SPIN ageist, it's also racist.

 

Unanimousv

Violation of Federal Law (in the previous bike share system), Elected Official and Staff hijinks

Around the time of my 2019 critical report - linked above, and mentioned in it - I suggested that the lower-than-18 age limit - not supported by State regulation on the utilized Class I e-bike - was in violation of the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, a Federal Law that is, in a way, an age-related version of Title VI of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, as the City of Sacramento - a partner in the regional bike share system - was receiving Federal money to install bicycle parking racks as these were determined to be necessary to account for the increase of bicycles. The response from SACOG was that as the rule was that of the bike share operator and not the City of Sacramento or its government partners - they were off the look. A brazen loophole, in their view, obviously to intimidate me into not pursuing the matter! (Lucas Frerichs was aware of this or perhaps even helped direct SACOG staff on this matter.) At the time, former City of Davis senior planner Brian Abbanat - now working for Yolo Transit District - even wrote me as a BTSSC member an email - responding to my article in Davisite - telling me to not spread implications etc that the City was in violation of the law. Despite all of this - and to their great credit - the BTSSC unanimously supported my motion to recommend that the City Council ask JUMP and SACOG to consider lowering the age limit. The City Council did put this on their long range calendar but never acted on that, and dropped it once JUMP pulled service, and left it off once bike (and scooter) share discussions starting again. Some Councilmembers - perhaps Arnold and Partida - did ask about the issue during a meeting in 2022, but around the same time the City of Davis and UC Davis were already planning to go it alone on micromoblity share, though at that City Council meeting a now former representative of SACOG, Kirk Trost, said based on in his experience in developing bike over the region over the previous decade, there were essentially no operators who allowed people under 18. This is false on a national level (NYC, Philadelphia...) and in California (Los Angeles, Long Beach...) all allow people to use e-bikes from under 18.

Institutionally-speaking, not only SACOG and the City of Davis are blocking youth mobility, but also the board of DJUSD. Back in 2019 I met with Cindy Pickett when she was President - or just a member: She was willing to support a min. 16 age limit, BUT no one else on the Board was interested.  Thanks for trying, Cindy! (Also about bringing back school buses...)

 

Peerage

My concept has for a few years been not simply that the entry level for bike share is under 18 (and for scooter share from license-accquisition) but that that it's peer-based. In other words, that one can use bike share - again, no government age restrictions apply - at the same time as their peers. My specific example would be that it start with ascending 10th graders, i.e. from the first week or so - pending administrative processing, etc - of the summer before 10th grade.

How is this better than strict temporal demarcations? For a start, 15 year-olds are likely to be friends with people both older and younger: Not everyone is the same age at the beginning of summer before 10th grade, nor during the school year, etc. So - in theory - with peer-based mobility share - a 14, 15 and 16 year-old who are good friends could all ride bike share bikes together from the start of the mentioned ascending period. A peer-based system wouldn't split friends up: Consider the extreme alternative: A group of students all under 18 who can't use bike share but CAN drive, or a mixed group, all of whom can't use bike share but CAN drive.

Wow, what a great reward, mobility milestone, etc... and perhaps before they're already (emotionally-invested) in getting a driver's license (which apparently they need to use the scooters, irony!). Right? Unfortunately: Crickets. This would be a first in the country, or perhaps anywhere.

 

The RFP

In the end the Request for Proposals (RFP) - see pg 66 - made a very, very soft ask for below 18 age limits. Way too soft for a city and university that chronically self-congratulate in regards to equity and inclusion. Srsly, are we applying Hate-Free too narrowly?

20. How do you intend to serve users who are less than 18-years of age? The City of Davis would like to provide shared bicycles to community members 16 and up, which could include non-electric devices as part of the device mix. [...]

The answer to this (see pg 3.):

Age. All users must be 18 and over. In accordance with state and federal law, this policy protects the best financial interests of Spin’s customers and their organization since the minimum legal age of consent in most contracts (including user agreements) is 18 years or older. Staff understands the strong interest in allowing for people 16 and over to use these devices, however, all of the vendors had a minimum age of 18 years old.

  • It's not clear to which "state and federal law"(s) they refer to. Adults (who are also guardians of minors) can sign off for them on any number of things, including marriage. There's only a state law requiring a driver's license for e-scooters and being at least 16 to operate a Class 3 e-bike (again Spin bikes are Class 1)
  • Spin's "customers" (the parents and guardians) are fully capable of deciding how to protect their financial interests, and those of their children/charges.
  • It's not clear who are "all of the vendors": It's not mentioned in the staff report, i.e. there's no listing of who submitted bids or proposals aside from Spin (Operators of the systems mentioned below all allow under-16's: Philadelphia, Bicycle Transit Systems; NYC and Washington, D.C., Lyft; Long Beach, Social Bicycles (who split off from what became Jump), Los Angeles, B-Cycle.)  That Lime only allows 18 and over's is only their decision... call it a "business decision", you know, like making cluster bombs...  or we can call it's: Lawyers 1; Davis youth, 0.

Other Cities Better than Davis / UCLA 1; UCD: 0

As mentioned above, under 18's can use shared e-bikes in major cities such as Philadelphia and NYC, the nation's capital, and in California in Long Beach and Los Angeles. All require some form of parental or guardian permission and formal responsibility. In sum these systems provide tens of thousands of electric assist bicycles to minors.

What's significant about the bike share system run by Metro, the public operator in L.A. (inclusive of Hollywood, Venice, etc.)  is that it is also expanding to cities such as Culver City, is already in Santa Monica, and - significantly - the UCLA campus. (How is a university campus relevant to under 18's? Well, many so-called child prodigies and other very high achievers skip a grade or more and enter university before age 18. Some also participate in summer programs, or use various facilities during the year, such as I did at UCLA when I had an AP history class in high school near the university. Do we want 16 and 17 year-olds visiting our city for serious academic reasons to be denied shared micromobility?)

 

Icing on the Cake of Anti-Equity

As many - including micromobility share - operators know well, users frack with age limits. What this means is that, for example, there are technical limits to how they can prevent anyone using a smartphone with their app on it connected with a credit card. Spin seems to hint at new countermeasures in the staff report, BUT this might partly bluster, similar what the Germans did nearly 20 years ago, as mentioned above.

More important, let's see how this likely works in practice: In most cases parents/guardians know the rule but allow their child to 'cheat" for any number of reasons. It seems likely that parents who tend to do this are less risk averse in regards to some financial issue that comes up as a result. So this would indicate a further anti-equity bonus in the form of a bias  in the system for wealthier families. To be clear, I've not done research on this, but it seems like common sense.

 

Spinscooter
Is the scooter Spin will be bringing here? It's worth noting that about four years ago several operators brought scooters to town for staff and commissioners to test out. That didn't happen again... https://www.spin.app/rides/spin-6

e-Scooters

"Micromobility" - my blog engine can't decide if it needs a hyphen - is a bit of a new term, so I've perhaps conflated some things above between e-bikes and e-scooters. BUT as mentioned above, one only has to be 16 with a driver's license (from other states and countries?) to use an electric-assist scooter in California. So the ascending thing doesn't apply.  Otherwise most of  the planned to be codified ageism and racism applies! Hooray! YES, from what I have seen all operators have a min. age 18 limit for scooters.... and Davis and UC Davis are refusing to take a stand about it. #equitydeferstotheman

 

Where's the Fleet?

Is the planned system what we really need to get a very, very wide range of people and campus in the city on comfortable, fast enough, well-built and appropriately designed bikes?

Nope.

Every year... thousands of faculty, staff and especially students appear in Davis. Some have not ridden a bike in some time, some don't know to ride... these and many more don't actually know what is a useful bike for Davis, many don't have time to research and pick one out. Useful bikes are also hard to get, though selection is getting better - I think that some Dutch academic-related people are warned about this in advance: I have two Dutch-built bikes which were never sold retail in the USA... left by former Aggies...)

1872B826-001A-4966-87D7-6BE4AC9633F5

The bike pictured above -  or ones like it - is a poster child for absolutely not the bike to offer to students or others in Davis:

Cons: 

Loud, inefficient tires, bad for cornering on pavement and in rain

No fenders

No semi-built in lights or built in lights

No way to carry cargo

No bell!

Pros: 

Not a big loss of money if it breaks down or is stolen (A newer model is only $300)

Nevertheless, this is a type of bike that's extremely common on campus. Many also don't fit well, even if purchased new. 

Note that aside from the one thing in the Pro column, I am not talking about the quality of the bike, likely warranty or lack of local bike shop support. This is about design. 

What the UC Davis campus (and probably many other UC and CSU campuses) really, really need is a fleet system of some sort. There are various business models, but the main criteria could be:

1) Suitability for local terrain and surface conditions: This means a relatively narrow gear range, or perhaps one relatively low gear, and therefore only 3 to 5 speeds. This means tires suited best for streets and possibly a bit of gravel, so that a student bike can fulfill at least a bit of a spontaneous recreational need. 

2) Cargo equipment suitable for carrying a large student backpack and two bags of groceries, possibly even some kind of low security (for groceries, not laptops)

3) Built in lights with power from other than batteries 

4) Low step, with three sizes to accommodate nearly all rider heights

5) Security system consisting of a tough main lock, front wheel security nuts and Dutch style frame lock for the rear. 

5a) Possibly some dedicated locking design based on typical bike share, but the bikes will still need to be parked in random places, so that only goes so far. Unfortunately these bikes probably can't be unique enough  in a way which facilitates locking-to-itself.

This system would be a complement to normal bike share (um, non-ageist, non-racist bike share!)

Though as mentioned the business model may vary, one idea would be that every student is assigned a bike by request at any time which will be of the appropriate size for the individual, and easy to identify with a color, a number and some tech-facilitated means connected with a smartphone app. This bike would be maintained by some outgrowth of the Bike Barn etc, or even farmed out to local bike shops (who would, after all, be dealing with a set design with the same parts etc. The bikes would have to be un-lockable by related staff so that can be picked up where they parked, broken down etc 

Cost? Yes, this will be expensive, though not relative to the existing costs of tuition and fees. 

The advantages cannot be over-stated:

Reliable bikes, optimized for student and related close urban lifestyles.

Predictable lighting.

A slow downsizing of chronically under-lit, poor fitting (size and use) , mechanically and pneumatically-sub-optimal crap bikes that fill every possible nook and cranny in the city and campus... wasting space, wasting time, avoiding safety, making it easy for driver-identified people to complain.... filling the city and campus bike racks with rusting junk that takes a huge amount of capacity, time and money to deal with.

WHY has this not been discussed to date in Davis?

Examples from the region and abroad. Some of the fleets are designed for a particular locale, such as a corporate campus, others are designed for an entire country, still others for long-term use:

Google campus bikes

Swapfiets

OV-Fiets

This is a new sub-topic for a longer discussion, but it very BADLY needs to happen.


Bite into Davis Downtown’s Burger Battle

FalafelBurger
The Badmash “Gangster” Burger at Falafel Corner is competing in the Davis Downtown Burger Battle. It features lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, thousand island sauce, mayonnaise, house-made secret sauce, American and Swiss cheese, bacon and egg. (Courtesy photo)

(From press release) Davis restaurants are offering lots of juicy reasons to head downtown this month, as eateries compete for the title of Best Burger.

Nearly a dozen restaurants are taking part in the 2023 Davis Downtown Burger Battle, and the list is growing. Patrons are the judges, assigning points for every featured burger they try. It’s a great chance for burger fans to show support for a favorite establishment – and try some new ones. Entries include beef, veggie and vegan burgers, and some creative combinations of toppings and breads. Each participating eatery features one contest entry. Judges may rate one or all burgers – one entry per restaurant.

The eatery with the highest-scoring burger will receive a trophy and bragging rights. Throughout July, burger tasters scan a QR code at their table (request one if not available), and score the burgers for taste, presentation, creativity, patty, toppings and bun. Grading in each category is from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest). In early August, the restaurant whose burger has the highest average score is declared the winner.

So far, participants include Third & U Café with a jalapeño burger, Bull ’N Mouth with its Down the Hatch Burger, Cloud Forest Café with a Valley Veggie, The Davis Food Co-op with The Vegan Vaquero Burger, El Patio Fresh Mexican Grill with a Mex Burger, Falafel Corner with a Badmash “Gangster” Burger, The Halal Guys, Handheld Sweet & Savory Pies with a Brie Burger wrapped in dough, Steve’s Pizza with a Sticky Burger with maple syrup and peanut butter, Tommy J’s Grill & Catering with its Firehouse Burger, and Village Pizza & Pints with a Gorgonzola Burger with Bacon.

Read full descriptions of each restaurant’s burger entry at https://davisdowntown.com/2023-burger-battle.

Downtown Davis businesses still wishing to participate in the program may visit https://bit.ly/BBregistrationform to sign up.

Davis Downtown leads and energizes the downtown as the primary business, entertainment and cultural center of Davis. Alive with activity seven days a week, downtown Davis draws locals and visitors alike to experience fine food and beverages, retail, professional services, arts and entertainment in an extraordinary and sustainable gathering place.


A Tale of Two Crossings: Nothin' from nothin' leaves nothin'

* If Nishi can't be built, there's nothing to trade as a mitigation
* Dedicated bike-ped crossing of the Yolo Bypass was quietly cancelled after years of promises.

NishiPLcomparison1

 

Tonight's City Council Agenda item on the 80 Yolo Managed Project was already covered critically and nearly exhaustively last weekend in the Davis Enterprise and yesterday here in the Davisite and in the Davis Vanguard.

 

A Bridge That Can't Be Built...

I arrived in town after Nishi 1.0 (retroactively supported a concept that would involve a complete redesign of the 80-Richards interchange inclusive of a parking structure and Park & Ride for regional buses which would have minimal impacts on Richards) and was against Nishi 2.0 because I don’t think that there should be housing (buildings with windows people open!) so close to the noisy and arguably otherwise-polluting interstate, but it’s not why I am suggesting that the proposed “multi-modal” mitigation is a fallacy. I agree with others that no VMT mitigations should happen with this project, and am trying to make clear that the plan of Caltrans and its erstwhile partners are also a mess from a technical point of view. (There's also the sheer ironic delight of trying to facilitate the construction of a project using these VMT credits - as it were - to make the Nishi space noisier and more polluted next to a widened interstate.)

The 80-railway corridor is a wall for people on bikes, but so is the railway on its own.  See Pole Line over 80 at lower right in the illustration above. It’s incredibly long because it has to go very high over the railway tracks, more so than to get over 80 itself (to better understand this, picture the crossings over 113 which are much lower as they only need to accommodate trucks.) First of all, this – and all the over-crossings of 80 in town – are simply not comfortable and suitable for people on normal bicycles, especially carrying children, and especially if they can make the journey by private motor vehicle or e-bike.   The over-crossings have around a 6 to 7% grade, nearly twice as high as the Dutch standard: So to make it comfortable for hundreds of people to go from Nishi to campus it would have to be nearly twice as long. Look again at the view of 80 at Pole Line: There’s no space for this unless it’s very circuitous and indirect and lands behind the Shrem Museum or just by the entrance to Solano Park from Old Davis Rd. (The red line in the top of the image is only as long as Pole Line, and it needs to be much longer.) And that’s just for cycling. Imagine walking this at least twice a day. Motor vehicles including buses can obviously do this, but that's no one's definition of "multi-modal".

I feel confident in saying that since a motor vehicle, bus, bicycle and walking connection is part of the agreement for Nishi, and as Union Pacific forbids an under-crossing, there’s no way to build Nishi unless it’s returned to the voters. There’s nothing to mitigate here as nothing can be built for mitigation.

***

A Cancelled Crossing...

For years a dedicated and new bicycle-pedestrian bridge across the ‘Bypass was promised in the project. In 2020 – when I was still on the Bicycling, Transportation and Street Safety Commission (BTSSC) – the notification that it was dropped some months earlier was only indirectly mentioned in a summary for a BTSSC meeting by the primary liaison for the City of Davis at the time, Brian Abbanat (former City of Davis Senior Planner; now he’s in a similar role for Yolo County and co-presenting Tuesday evening.) A couple of years later when this was mentioned to the other co-presenter, YCTD head Autumn Bernstein, she said it was not funded: I believe that the aggregate truth – to be precise as possible – is that Caltrans dropped it, never told any of the local interested groups about it (e.g. Bike Davis, Davis Bike Club) through their liaison Abbanat and that it wasn’t part of the initial, funded proposal to the Federal Government. Our City, County and State government representatives were silent about this betrayal in our so-called "USA cycling capitol".


Letter: Hibbert’s 224 Apartment Proposal Will Have NO Parking and NO Poor

This Loophole Must Be Removed

Hibbert’s SB 330 development avoids the Builder’s Remedy which at least requires 20% of the units for Low Income (LI) so on the face of it for 224 units projected there should be 44 units for low income households.

So by adding a measly 8,000 sq. ft. retail to a four story project, Hibbert’s avoids providing 33 low income units. Under SB 330 only 11 low income units are proposed which is 5%. None of units will serve very low income (VLI) households which is the city’ biggest gap in meeting the RHNA numbers of 580 VLI.

The project is exclusionary by design.

For the Hibbert’s site proposal under SB330 there will be no parking requirements. Think of the impact on G street neighbors and the Co-op in particular. Where will 250-300 vehicles park in the neighborhood?

David J Thompson


Davis Downtown launches new eGift Card

EGift Card Design 2023(From press release) Davis Downtown today launched a new eGift Card, encouraging people to shop locally.

The virtual card program allows shoppers to spend them at any participating Davis Downtown merchant or restaurant, and offers the gift-giver the peace of mind that their money is supporting local businesses.

Brett Maresca, executive director of the Davis Downtown Business Association, said the organization frequently gets requests from the city, UC Davis, sporting leagues, schools, PTAs and others for this kind of card.

“By providing this opportunity, we can keep dollars local that often end up going to Amazon or other large chains outside our community,” Maresca said.

These cards are made available through Yiftee, a company that started in 2012 to “Keep Local Dollars Local,” as its motto states. It has more than 450 community cards across the nation, generating millions of dollars for small businesses. These eGift cards work like a credit card when a customer redeems them. There’s even a platform for companies, nonprofits, schools and other entities to buy them at a discount for quantities of $1,000 or more. Email [email protected] for bulk purchase inquiries.

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Davis must grow up, not out

By Judy Corbett, Robert Thayer, Stephen Wheeler and James Zanetto

The Feb. 5 Davis Enterprise article stating that the City Council will examine ways of pre-approving housing developments on sites at the periphery of Davis in order to meet the city’s long-term “regional housing needs” allocation runs counter to the entire momentum of urban development economics and city finance.

It is well known that by building dense, vital downtowns, with multi-story housing and walkable amenities, cities may not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions but actually build more positive property tax flows. Building at the periphery does the exact opposite by reducing income per acre from property taxes while increasing infrastructure maintenance including roads, water, sewers, flood control, street trees, police, fire and garbage collection.

Jeff Speck, author of “Walkable City Rules,” (Island Press, 2018) states that “communities that fund infrastructure with an eye to long-term return will invest in compact, mixed-use development — especially in historic districts — and not in sprawl.”

Beginning with the 1974 “Costs of Sprawl,” considerable research studies have shown that dense urban areas return far more revenue per acre than peripheral, auto-oriented development; the former actually subsidize the latter. (See the case studies website of Urban3: https://www.urbanthree.com/case-study/ )

Since the new Davis Downtown Plan addresses this, at least in the short term we need to avoid peripheral development that does not pay for its own ultimate financial impact on a wide range of city services. Portland, Ore., and the smaller California cities of Pasadena, Petaluma, Hercules and Lodi are examples of communities where the advantages of building strong downtowns can be observed today.

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Is this one block on G St. the best choice?

Screen Shot 2023-01-16 at 8.50.05 AMBy Diana

Is the one block on G St. the only area in downtown Davis suitable for a community gathering spot?  Don’t we have the accessible E St. plaza that was converted from parking spaces to a community gathering area, complete with staging for entertainment and communal activities, that would better serve the downtown and the public?  Public funds were used to make this happen in 2000.  Did I see an announcement a year or so ago, either from The Davis Enterprise or from the Davis downtown business association, of plans for a remake of E St. plaza at considerable cost paid for with federal funds?  Wouldn’t that project and space make better sense, financially and economically, for redevelopment by the city with the very same goals in mind for making a safe and comfortable gathering spot for the community in downtown Davis?

Another possible area for the city of Davis to consider in their quest to develop community friendly space is to enhance an area of Central Park with user friendly spaces that would promote community.  Wait!  There’s already something there: Davisphere! “What is The Davisphere? It is a vibrant, eclectic & electric communal atmosphere where there is entertainment for all ages. The idea was based on the simple premise that positive energy builds when people get together and enjoy themselves. The Davisphere symbolizes community encompassment, vibrancy, the Earth we share, and a place of belonging.”  It’s located right here in downtown Davis thanks to the efforts of DDBA.

Screen Shot 2023-01-16 at 8.53.10 AMWhat about having the city work alongside the property owners of Davis Commons on 1st and Richards Blvd. to create the kind of open air community space the city is striving for?  The one-acre, semicircular park bordering the businesses located in the heart of downtown Davis could be a spectacular gathering spot.  This could happen without hampering local business with undemocratically government enforced street closures.

I’m thankful to Davis for providing the 63 miles of bike paths and 102 miles of bike lanes throughout the entire city so that cyclists are able to navigate our town safely. Do we really need to take one more block for bicycles if it means damaging local businesses to the point of endangering the entire downtown? The time and expense it takes to operate a business is huge and when it all goes south the independent owner is devastated!  Are you aware of how many businesses have closed in the last 2 ½ years in downtown Davis? At last count there were multiple dozens! How many more before the lights go out in downtown Davis?

Reopen G St. and look for a better alternative that make sense.


A pedestrian-only area would be neat…let's reactivate G Street!

G Street GuideBelow is a recent letter, shared with the Davisite, to our council members to provide input on the upcoming January 17th meeting, addressing Item 4: G Street Closure Update.

Sent by email on January 14, 2023 

Good day to you council members,

It has been two years and six months since we closed G Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets to vehicular traffic. I helped plan for this closure, as I was staff at the Davis Downtown Business Association (DDBA) at the time. The DDBA worked closely with City staff Ash Feeney and Sarah Worley. I talked to business owners, created infographics (such as the one attached), and monitored this pedestrian-only area frequently when it was considered a part of the City and DDBA's Open Air Davis initiative.

We were all very satisfied with our efforts to support downtown businesses, especially restaurants, and keep them open during COVID-19 shutdowns.

Ever since we converted a portion G Street to a pedestrian-only area, there have been pleas from the business community for one of two things to happen:

1) Open this area of G Street again for parking, or

2) Beautify and activate this area of G Street and take advantage of a rare pedestrian-only conversion

I personally have always been a strong advocate for the latter option; however, I do understand the point of view of those who prefer the former option. In the following sections, I will expand upon these two options; describe the mounting pressure for action; and explain how we can make Davisites happier.

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Why DiSC matters for the City Council election

Some of DiSC’s proponents called it a tiny city. That suggests it is a microcosm of Davis as a whole and all of the issues it faces.

DCC with DiSC in background-2By Roberta Millstein

In a recent interview with the Davis Enterprise, Gloria Partida said that “I know that people right now are very focused on what happened with Measure H” but that being a member of Council is “not a one-issue job.”

However, Measure H represents a large number of central and key issues that future Davis City Councils will have to weigh in on.  It would have been bad for Davis in variety of ways, as Davis citizens widely recognized when they rejected the project by an almost 2-1 margin. 

Thus, a candidate’s stance on Measure H speaks volumes about their values and how they would govern.  Gloria Partida (District 4), Dan Carson (District 1), and Bapu Vaitla (District 1)  were strongly in favor of Measure H.  In contrast, Kelsey Fortune (District 1) and Adam Morrill (District 4) strongly opposed Measure H.

As the No on Measure H campaign emphasized in its ballot arguments and campaign literature, each of the following issues was relevant to the proposed project. In no particular order:

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