Entries categorized "Housing"

DISC 2022 Transportation - Planning Commission falls for Developer's Trick

TrapBacThe trap was set likely shortly after "DISC  2020" was defeated by voters.  When the developers of this peripheral sprawl - or I'll be nice and call it West West Sacramento - were planning to re-introduce it last year for a vote this year - they realized that a key demand was a grade-separated crossing of Mace. So they removed it from the Baseline Features... fully-intending to agree to do it as a concession.

Back story

The City Council-approved Street Standards (2016) don't mention e-bikes at all. What this means is that the width, curvature, and proper siting of infrastructure that would optimize the use of e-bikes - in particular the Type 3 variant that has assistance up to 28 mph - is totally missing in Davis, or more immediately in concepts, plans as well as development agreements and baseline features in current and near-future projects.

To address this, over two-and-a-half years ago when I was on the Bicycling, Transportation and Street Commission (BTSSC) I got support for adding an item to the long range calendar which would address it; this first appeared on the LRC in September 2019, with a possible date of December 2019 for the agenda. (It is abbreviated somewhat erroneously as "intersection design guidelines / standards"). It has been pushed back repeatedly since then, and the BTSSC did not support forming a sub-committee about it during 2020.

What this means is that significant concepts and projects which could alleviate transportation problems, such as Reimagine Russell, the new-ish Class I multi-user path on the south side of Russell (chronically and clinically-referred to as a "bike path) or smaller projects all over the city are not future-proofed for the increase of modal share for cycling we desperately need to improve everything from climate impacts to conviviality to fitness to transportation crashes. Our city is simply too large now in size to have a significant modal share with "acoustic" bicycles. Not convinced? Look at the low bike modal share from peripheral areas of town in the UCD Campus Travel Survey, which shows low share even for people with campus destinations where car parking is not always convenient, and not fare-free. It's not hard to extrapolate - necessary, as the City has essentially refused to do its own counts for years - that almost no one regularly rides from Mace Ranch or some other peripheral areas to Downtown for a coffee or beer - sort of the most normal thing in the Universe in a bicycle-branded cycling city.

SurveyCycling
UCD Campus Travel Survey 2019-2020 (pg. 30) - By bike, DISC is just over four miles from ARC, a central point on campus when considering agricultural facilities. This distance has about a 10% modal share for cycling, and includes mostly students, many who don't have their own cars.



However, as we can see from the example above, the faster type of e-bikes are quite expensive. I've seen nothing lower than just over $3,000. Though important - or all - major arteries in Davis - should be optimized for this type of bike - the idea is not only to optimize for them but make safe for all users, including on acoustic bikes - it cannot mean that this type of bike should be essentially required to live here and enjoy the purported high quality of life. Infrastructure optimized for fast bikes is also a significant improvement for all bikes, as it's direct, requires a minimum of stops, is not shared with motor vehicles... or pedestrians and dogs.

To be more precise, the goal should be the 15-Minute City. This is a relatively new standard or classification of a very, very old sometimes organic strategy to make key locations in a city within 15 min from anywhere else, for all means of transportation. This seems to also serve as a kind of proof of the bicycle modal share results in the Campus Travel Survey. It's definitely something that should be part of our new General Plan, or even worked on earlier by a joint Commission process (BTSSC, Planning... perhaps Natural Resources and Social Services...). I would argue that it should also be about effort, so a 5 or perhaps 7-minute walk is the equivalent of a 15 min bike ride. I've said that if kids can't walk unaccompanied 5-minutes from where they live to buy ice cream cones, it's a failure (and that's just one example, a single ice cream place or a truck at DISC doesn't make it sustainable.)

It's also quite important to be reminded that the City of Davis has for over four years not had a senior civil engineer with a transportation focus. Many projects have gone forward - sometimes to completion, often with significant flaws - without the benefit of this experienced and wise counsel.

 

Last Night

At the Planning Commission review of Disc 2022 last night - and early this morning - I was actually quite impressed by the comments from multiple Commissioners regarding negative transportation issues of the planned project, and even the general discussion about its unavoidable impacts and uncertainly of benefits from transportation demand management... well, at least earlier in the discussion. Commissioner Shandy was particularly right on with her criticism of planned widening of Mace - presented by the developer as a kind of unquestioned religious observance - contradicts claimed benefits for people cycling and walking. There were other positive and thoughtful comments by a majority of Commissioners.

I knew that the grade-separated crossing of Mace was a kind of sneakily-hidden prize and tried to point out in my sort of sloppy recorded comment that that a safer crossing of Mace would not on its own make DISC 2020 excellent for cycling (this is better than "cycle-friendly"), because of distance from Downtown and places further west, and besides that, safe crossings directly to the south along Mace across 80 would cost many millions and be very complicated (and at least in my head I know that Caltrans District 3 and the Yolo County Transportation District have withdrawn the earlier plan - it was supposed to be built first! - of a new bike and ped bridge across the Bypass as part of the I-80 Managed Lanes Project.)

Screenshot from 2022-01-13 02-14-21
Just an aside about the bandied about "globally-known sustainability of Davis": This was the air quality last night shortly after the meeting was over (via Purple Air)

 

 

The Trap is Sprung

Though it was fully-intended to be a positive thing and I will give credit to Commissioner Shandy, the discussion and lead-up to a vote turned sour when she proposed that a grade-separated crossing of Mace and a Class I trail across the undeveloped land south of Harper Junior High would make her feel better about the planned Mace widening and other traffic impacts. She suggested nothing about safe cycling and walking connections to other places, such as the Nugget and popular restaurants across 80. But the problem is that, for example, the area planned for housing at DISC 2022, on the north and eastern side of the project area, is more than 15 minutes away by bike from Downtown and at leat 20 to 25 minutes away from the UC Davis campus that is the raison d'être for DISC 2022! Moreover, the route has almost no optimized cycling infrastructure the whole way (varied from local streets to arteries, no protected bike paths, lack of priority at stops, etc... there is no proposal for any of this in any proposed development agreement or baseline features). But mainly it's too far by bike... never mind walking! Most of the time people - with free or with un-bundled parking - will take I-80 between campus and DISC, even more so to many facilities etc on the west side of campus related to agriculture. I-80 is such a fantastic route much of the day that nothing can compete with it, including shuttles and express buses, which I am sure will at best have a tiny modal share.  This creates huge challenges for any development more than 15 min away from key locations, and it means simply that they should not even be considered. (Oh, wouldn't it have been great if staff were directed to work on the General Plan and told the developers that there was no capacity to work on stuff that would very likely be in violation of a progressive outcome for it?)

So the Planning Commission has recommended the two elements mentioned above that are supposed to address problems on Mace to the City Council. My conclusion is that the developers will signal their intention to accept them - perhaps with a little drama - and the Council will praise them for doing so. But again, even with everything promised (e.g. shuttles, TDM) and not promised (e.g. e-bike-optimized infrastructure) there's still no place for DISC. Still no way to successfully do something better than I-80 via private vehicle for anything but a minority. There's really nowhere to walk to from DISC. Hopefully the voters will see through this ruse and others and reject DISC 2020.

Galadrieltempted
In the ALTERNATIVE timeline, Lady Galadriel was tempted by but in the end did not succumb to the Power of the Grade-Separation ring

 

Denethor
In the REAL timeline, Lord Denethor, Steward of Gondor, was consumed by the Grade Separation Ring and driven mad.

 

 

Question

Last night I was quite surprised when the developer said with much conviction that baseline features were not necessary to enforce the creation of certain designs and programs at DISC 2022, as these would be required by CEQA. Then why have baseline features as a solution for any of these things, in all the discussion for years up until now? If a reader could enlighten me I would truly appreciate it.

Afterword

I am all for more housing - for all income levels, but with a significant proportion below market and lower income - and workplace and related development in Davis. I have never said I was against these things in any local discussions, for example in the Davis Vanguard. But they have to be infill, they have to be on greyfields such as parking lots, industrial areas along 5th St - not only the PG&E yard - and in the eastern side of South Davis and other areas much closer to Downtown and especially for what DISC 2022 purports to be about much closer also to campus. With electric shuttles on fixed routes, optimized cycling infrastructure, a new connection across 80 around L St., mixed-use above (existing) parking lots and so on many if not close to all of the actual benefits of a project like DISC 2022 can be realized. It's not impossible, it's not rocket science, it simply requires conviction, creativity and less b.s. and false claims about sustainability. Hopefully Council, Commissions... local media... and organizations such as Bike Davis and Cool Davis re-direct the citizenry towards an alternative to DISC or a truly sustainable version of it... closer to and integrated with the City of Davis and the UC Davis campus.


Letter from DISC developers to Davis Automobile Association

AutoCenter
It took some digging but I found a key letter from the DISC developers to the City of Davis Association of Private Motor Vehicle Sellers and Suppliers:

Dear CDAPMVSS,

Following are what we plan on the primary characteristics of DISC in regards to your organization’s mission:

1 – Most of the day a connection by private automobile to Downtown Davis, UC Davis and West Sacramento will be extremely convenient and fast.

2 – A private automobile will be required to conveniently and quickly travel to Pioneer Elementary, Nugget (on Mace) and surrounding stores, and of course to the Davis Auto Mall (identifiable by its bicycle logo from I-80).

3 – Travel by cycling and walking to Harper Junior High and Korematsu Elementary will be significant until a crossing guard is killed and two students are injured at the intersection of Alhambra and Mace. In response we plan to place small posters at bus stops in the area to direct drivers to slow down. We were going to pretend to compromise and pretend to return to our spoken-only agreement the construction of a grade-separated crossing of Mace but in the end the Council didn’t ask for it.

4 – Travel by automobile to schools outside of east Davis will be the majority mode, especially to Davis High School, and drivers will threaten students crossing E. Covell to get to Birch Lane Elementary, crossing F and 14th to get to North Davis Elementary and the high school.

5 – The TDM plan will determine that carshare is not interesting for nearly all residents who have opted to rent a parking place near their home.

6 – Caltrans has confirmed that they have no interest in assisting in building a safe and dedicated bicycle and pedestrian facility across I-80 in the vicinity of Mace, similar to their same position on the I-80 Managed Lanes project.

7 – Some residents will ride cargo bikes to Target and surrounding shops until a user is killed at the corner of Mace and 2nd.

8 – The Chevron station at Mace and 2nd will gain business.

9 – Mode share of the fare-free shuttle to Davis Depot and Downtown will be insignificant due to duration and inability to match fluctuating schedule of Capitol Corridor trains due to problems outside of their control, such as shipping traffic on the Carquinez Strait that requires bridge interruption.

Thanks, the DISC development team.


No DiSC Baseline Features to Reduce Traffic and Related GHG Emissions will Produce even Greater Adverse Environmental Impacts than Those Projected in the EIR

The following email was sent to the Planning Commission this afternoon.

Dear Planning Commissioners:

Firstly, I sincerely apologize for the late hour at which these these comments are delivered to you.

I understand you have received a letter yesterday from Roberta Millstein discussing how the Baseline Features have been throttled back at DiSC 2022 relative to DISC 1.0. However, her communication only discussed the Baseline Features which were originally proposed for DISC 1.0 and then materially weakened or removed entirely in DiSC 2022.

There were a number of other important recommended Baseline Features proposed by various Commissions which never saw the light of day in either DISC 1.0 OR DiSC 2022. This communication focuses only on those unaccepted Baseline Features recommended by the Natural Resources Commission that could have profoundly beneficial impacts in terms of reducing expected traffic problems and reducing GHG emissions otherwise associated the project

According to the EIR, transportation represents 78% of the 55 million lbs of new GHGs projected to be produced by the DiSC project. In fulfilling their project review objectives, among many worthwhile suggestions, the NRC in particular recommended 3 very clearly identified Baseline Features for the project to reduce adverse traffic impacts and associated GHG emissions from the project. All were rejected by the Developer of the project.

We recommend that the approvals for this project not be granted until the Developer has agreed to the NRC-recommended Baseline Features identified below.

Respectfully submitted,

Alan Pryor

Continue reading "No DiSC Baseline Features to Reduce Traffic and Related GHG Emissions will Produce even Greater Adverse Environmental Impacts than Those Projected in the EIR" »


Dramatic reduction in Baseline Features in DiSC 2022

Screen Shot 2022-01-11 at 9.10.17 PM
The following email was sent to the Planning Commission in the evening of Jan 11, 2022.  (The agenda for the meeting can be found here):

Dear members of the Planning Commission,

I am writing concerning item 6A of your meeting tomorrow (Jan 12), the public hearing on the DiSC 2022 project.

As you may recall, for a project that will be facing a Measure J/R/D vote, the Baseline Features (BFs) are key.  The BFs are the only features that are guaranteed parts of the project.  In contrast, any features that are part of the Development Agreement can be changed by the City Council.  So, in terms of what the project is, and what the voters will be voting on, it is extremely important to know what the BFs are.

As it turns out, a number of BFs have changed or been eliminated in the change from the old DISC (rejected by voters in Nov 2020) and the current DiSC 2022 proposal.  Here is my count:

  • 19 BFs essentially unchanged
  • 2 features enhanced
  • 5 BFs changes due to reduction in the size of project (e.g, less housing)
  • 7 BFs that offer a weaker version of feature unrelated to changes in project size
  • 13 features eliminated altogether (appeared in old DISC but not in DiSC 2022).

Of course, whether these changes are important or not is for you and others to determine, but some of them are arguably important.  Indeed, there are changed or eliminated features in each of the main categories, reducing the sustainability, housing, transit, etc., features of the project.

I urge you as Planning Commissioners to query the developer about all of these changes in order to determine if they are justified.

Attached please find a spreadsheet that shows these changes.

The BFs for old DISC can be found online in the following document: http://documents.cityofdavis.org/Media/CommunityDevelopment/Documents/PDF/CDD/Aggie%20Research%20Campus/20-111%20-%20DISC%20Project%20Ballot%20Measure.pdf

Sincerely,

Roberta Millstein
Davis citizen
Former chair, Open Space & Habitat Commission

**** Download Baseline feature comparison *****


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

Tside-3-3rdst-house-sml

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

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

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

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

Continue reading "Regarding the overturning of the Yolo Superior Court's decision on Trackside" »


Comments on DiSC 2022 Technical Memorandum

DiSC2022-conceptualmapBy Matt Williams

What follows are the public comments that I submitted to the Finance and Budget Commission (FBC) this morning regarding the Economic & Planning Systems, Inc. (EPS) Fiscal Analysis of DiSC 2022. The Technical Memorandum prepared by EPS can be found here. The 27 items included are not exhaustive.

Continue reading "Comments on DiSC 2022 Technical Memorandum" »


Part 2 - Déjà Vu – Council and Staff Collude to Limit Review of the DISC 2022 Project by the City's Advisory Commissions...Again!!

Staff's and Council's Current Scheme to Limit Analysis and Input from the Commissions include Artificial, Arbitrary Deadlines Imposed on Citizen Advisory Commissions.

By Alan Pryor

Introduction

Readers will remember one of the primary complaints surrounding DISC 1.0 on the November 2020 ballot as Measure B was that the Commissions were intentionally and systematically excluded from fully participating in the review of the project through scheduling manipulations imposed by City Staff with Council approval. It appears that history is repeating itself which is the subject of this series of articles. Part 1 of the series (see https://www.davisite.org/2021/09/d%C3%A9j%C3%A0-vu-council-and-staff-collude-to-limit-review-of-the-disc-2022-project-by-the-citys-advisory-com.html) discussed the history of City Staff and Council ignoring input by both the Advisory Commissions and the public in many other important City matters.

This Part 2 in the series discusses the recent Council decision that greatly limits Citizen Advisory Commission input and recommendations for Baseline Features for the newly proposed DISC 2022 project now heading for the June 2022 ballot in Davis. The article is a detailed examination of the means by which the City Council and Staff are intending to again limit analysis and input from the Commissions by hamstringing the Commissions' ability to hold multiple meetings to review the DISC 2022 project.

Continue reading "Part 2 - Déjà Vu – Council and Staff Collude to Limit Review of the DISC 2022 Project by the City's Advisory Commissions...Again!!" »


Smoky Days Ahead!?! Leafblowers, Buses and Climate Shelters.

7.27-28_windsI just sent the following to the City Council, relevant Commissions (BTSSC, NRC and SSC), County Supervisors and Yolo Solano Air Quality Management District...

Per Weather.com the winds will shift to the north (and variants) at least part of this Tuesday and Wednesday. The prevailing south winds (from the south) have until now seem to have helped spare Davis and the immediate region (esp. to the west) from wildfire fallout from the huge fires east of Chico.

As the wind may not just shift until late Monday or early Tuesday, I hope that Staff will be prepared to put the leaf blower ban into effect. (Note that most of the combined air region has had Spare the Air days for most or all of last week, if only for ozone)

Davisinbottomleftcorner
Davis is in the lower left corner - https://fire.airnow.gov

Spare the Air means that Unitrans is free. Possible smoke and almost certain heat (esp on Wednesday through Friday) will in my understanding open our "Climate Shelters" at Vets and the Mary Stephens Library. As 14th Street is served by Unitrans buses (1 to 3 lines depending on the time of year and day of the week) it seems like a good and free way for many to get to the Climate Shelters, yes? It seems likely that Climate Shelters disproportionately serve lower income people who have less access to not only modern HVAC but also personal motor vehicles.

Unfortunately the free Unitrans service is in tiny print at best on the Share the Air notices (email or website), and as far as I recall has never been mentioned in the City's notices about the Shelters. All of these programs are happening, but the communication is not joined up, and few know about them

SparetheAir-Unitrans

Beyond this, I don't understand why Yolobus doesn't have free service during Spare the Air days. Do I understand this correctly? Can people in Davis get to Climate Shelters (or anywhere else urgent) during a smoke and/or wildfire fallout event by free public transport, but not anyone else in Yolo County?

Thanks for taking immediate action when necessary.... or preemptively!


City of Davis and the (Near) Future of Rail Travel

L21spanish

Virtual Public Workshop! Thursday, July 15 from 530 to 7pm

 

I wrote the Bicycling, Transportation and Street Safety Commission (BTSSC) earlier today:

To the BTSSC,

I strongly suggest that the BTSSC set up an ad-hoc sub-committee about Link21 so that it can stay engaged long-term, receive and process community input and then at the appropriate time make recommendations to the City Council.

The City of Davis is a small tomato in a huge pot of soup in this matter, but the railway proportionately bisects the City of Davis more than other town along its current route between Oakland and Davis. Davis grew around the rail and I-80 corridor in a way that - especially in the last 60 years - did not facilitate multi-modal travel based on the railway. A typical regional or suburban station like Davis in much of Europe would have multiple bus lanes that terminate at the station and hundreds of secure bicycle parking space for all kinds of bikes, suburb connections for walking and cycling for all directions, and a lively place for activity in front of the station, instead of a parking lot. The City has made some progress in this area of late, but, for example, there are still many who want a new parking structure at the station, and voters thankfully - but only narrowly - disapproved a new development project far from the station with no good cycling connections to it, lots of parking and imagined good access to I-80.

I had tried to form a sub-committee nearly three years ago about the I-80 Managed Lanes Project, but it was terminated shortly after Commission approval because the second member moved to Sacramento. While I appreciate the healthy skepticism the BTSSC had about the Managed Lanes Project at the last meeting, I believe it prudent to get ahead of the game as much as possible for this even larger project that relates to both the Managed Lanes Project as well to our Downtown and General Plans, as significantly improved rail service would facilitate the creation of a lot more carfree or carlite households in town. As you seem to recognize, the worst outcome of the Managed Lanes project will do nothing but worsen traffic in town and literally throw a rotten tomato at our forming Climate Policy. The worst Managed Lane implementation will not support railway travel until perhaps many years from now, and indirectly, when thousands of Davis residents, frustrated with increased congestion and pollution, surround Caltrans District 3 HQ and bombard it with stinky, rotten tomatoes genetically-modified to annoy "deaf" state officials and narcissistic automobilists.

TomatoesAs a robust railway powered by renewable energy is a key tool in fighting Climate Change, I would also suggest you consider making the sub-committee a joint one with NRC, and Social Services too in order to help ensure that the system is accessible for all households.

The person who seems to be the current project manager for this part of the Megaregion, Jim Allison from Capitol Corridor, is very approachable and helpful. The Link21 sub-committee would be wise to also connect with other - especially smaller - communities along the corridor in order to create common, expected and seamless last-mile connections to their stations, and dense and proximate housing that makes good public transportation possible. All the pieces are necessary, but the puzzle has to be solved by everyone. I think that I prefer the tomato to the puzzle metaphor.

Thanks,

Todd Edelman"


You might be a YIMBY if...

Affordablehousingmeme

By Rik Keller

You might be a YIMBY[1] if:

  1. You advocate for zoning deregulation and “filter down” affordable housing thinking those are very different from Reaganomics, deregulation, and trickle-down housing.

  2. You are a “faux-gressive” who laces your rhetoric with terms like “social justice” and “equity” and “sustainability” without thinking of the impropriety of appropriating and co-opting those terms; meanwhile, the effects of the policies you promote kick people of color out of their homes in lower-income areas  and promote unregulated sprawl  onto farmland or habitat.

  3. You pretend that people who point out the deep connections of your movement to development real estate interests and funding are “conspiracy theorists.”

  4. You need a foil to vilify, so you pretend there are organized NIMBY[2] groups that want nothing built anywhere ever, then ferociously battle this strawman.

  5. You claim we have “under-built” housing for decades and blame it on the NIMBY boogeyman without evidence.

  6. You think that because you took one economics class in college and learned one thing (the “law” of supply and demand, not really a law at all), you understand complex housing markets and that your simplistic prescriptions are “solutions”.

  7. You engage in naive magical thinking, conjuring up a world where if you build more housing, only the people you want to move in, move in—no rich out-of-town investors! —and developers will want to build so much housing that prices will drop, reducing their profit margins.

  8. You claim affordable housing activists who advocate for specific affordable housing programs are too naive to understand how free market capitalism and Econ 101 will benefit them.

  9. You avoid even mentioning actual programs that produce affordable housing such as inclusionary zoning programs and funding public housing.

  10. You believe that “build baby build” is the only answer and eschew all other solutions or even suggestions as to how to get affordable housing built.

  11. You don't care where you build. It could be next to a freeway, in a historic neighborhood, on prime farmland, or wherever—just build.

  12. Your movement belittles, insults, and vilifies anyone who points out the flaws in your reasoning as a way to distract from the real issues.

  13. You try to start class wars and generational wars, pitting the middle class (especially older) against people with lower incomes, in favor of high-income developers.

 

[1] YIMBY stands for “Yes In My Back Yard.” However, since YIMBYs often advocate for building in other areas outside of where they live, YIYBY (“Yes In Your Back Yard”) might be more accurate, albeit not as easy to say. “BANANAS” (Build ANything ANywhere AlwayS) is another suggested acronym. Self-identified YIMBYs have been making their presence known in Davis.

[2] NIMBY stands for “Not in My Back Yard.” No one actually calls themselves this; it’s an insult that YIYBYs (see previous footnote) like to sling against anyone who tries to argue for good projects and good planning.

 


What is a Housing Trust Fund, and how can we strengthen Davis’s?

3 categories of housing needs
This diagram shows the continuum of housing needs  and some possible priorities for programs under each of the 3 needs categories

Background: On May 20, the Housing Element Committee (HEC) voted in favor of 10 recommendations, two of which related to Davis’s Housing Trust Fund, based on a draft document from Davis’s Social Services Commission (SSC). On May 9, the Planning Commission voted in favor of these two recommendations (and none of the other HEC recommendations). On June 15, members of the City Council expressed support for these proposals, although they did not vote on them officially.

By Georgina Valencia

The City of Davis has a Housing Trust Fund (HTF).  There are a number of cities throughout the State that have Housing Trust Funds.  The funds that go into the HTF account is designated for services and programs related to affordable housing.  Currently, the City has no designated plan with priorities and related programs as proposed by the SSC.  More specifically there is no sustainability planned into the programs the city currently offers.  Programs to date have been Ad Hoc and directed by the funds and programs the State decides that Cities should pursue.

Current funding sources for our City HTF come from: in-lieu fees, 1% fee from the sale of affordable homes, State Grants for CDBG and HOME funds, SB2 funds, rent from City owned affordable housing and more.  At any given time there is approximately $500,000 plus or minus in the HTF.

A few examples of real world issues that programs and funding in our HTF could correct:

Continue reading "What is a Housing Trust Fund, and how can we strengthen Davis’s?" »


Why eliminating single-family zoning is a terrible idea

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By Dan Cornford

On May 20, the Housing Element Committee voted in favor of 10 recommendations, one of which was the elimination of R1 (aka Single Family Housing, or SFH) zoning. Neither the Planning Commission nor the City Council weighed in on this recommendation as a body in their recent meetings concerning the Draft Housing Element, although some members of both bodies expressed interest in pursuing at least some weakening of R1 zoning. On the state level, SB 9 and SB 10 would eliminate R1 zoning.

Is this a good idea? Will it lead to affordable housing? Would it be good for the environment?

In short: No, no, and no.

Here are five reasons why eliminating R1 zoning is a bad idea:

Continue reading "Why eliminating single-family zoning is a terrible idea" »


What the HEC is Going On? Part III

image from davisite.typepad.comConflicts of Interest in the City of Davis Housing Element Committee

 by Alan Pryor and Rik Keller

 Note: The preceding Part II in this series covering Brown Act violations is here:

 “Housing Element Committee members are expected to remove themselves from all discussions and votes on matters in which they have any direct personal financial interest.

 

In gauging such extra-legal conflicts of interest and/or duty, each member shall exercise careful judgment and introspection in giving priority to the interests of fairness and objectivity; if there is any reasonable doubt that the member has a conflict, the member shall refrain from participation in the committee’s deliberations and vote(s).” – City of Davis Housing Element Committee Ground Rules (p. 4)

Continue reading "What the HEC is Going On? Part III" »


What the HEC is Going On? - Part II

Under rugThe City’s Denial of Brown Act Violations by the Housing Element Committee and Certain of Its Members is Not Credible nor Factually-Based

 by Alan Pryor and Rik Keller

 Note: A subsequent Part III of this series will cover conflicts of interest of HEC members in detail

 Introduction

Last week the authors wrote a carefully-researched and well-documented article on the City of Davis’s Housing Element Committee (HEC) alleging several serious violations of the California state Brown Act open meeting laws prohibiting direct communications between members of jurisdictional bodies. As stated in that article, the composition of the Council-appointed HEC, which is supposed to represent a “diversity of interests” in the community, was instead primarily composed of development and real estate interests and their local supporters.

In our article, we also disclosed that several weeks ago, there were a last-minute series of policy recommendations very favorable to the real estate and development interests in the City that were suddenly introduced to the Committee by these same real estate and development interests. These recommendations, in direct violation of the Brown Act, were sent directly from one member of the HEC to the entire HEC.

The HEC then further violated the Brown Act in considering and voting to adopt the same recommendations without publicly noticing that these recommendations were being considered by the HEC. In essence, these recommendations were introduced secretly to the HEC and then voted upon without full public disclosure and scrutiny of the recommendations. Furthermore, the development and real estate interests on the Committee failed to adequately disclose conflicts of interest in terms of their investments and holdings in the City that would be impacted by these very same favorable recommendations approved by the HEC (see more on this point in the coming Part 3 of this series of articles).

Continue reading "What the HEC is Going On? - Part II" »


Surprising outcome and a few oddities at Planning Commission meeting

Housing-ElementBy Roberta Millstein

This is just a short update to follow on the Davisite’s earlier articles concerning the Housing Element Update (see here, here, and here).

This past Wednesday (June 9th), the City of Davis’s Planning Commission met for a second time to discuss the recommendations of the Housing Element Committee (HEC)-- the first meeting was May 26.  At the earlier meeting, most of the comments from the public concerned 10 recommendations that the HEC had passed.  And a good number of the comments came from UC Davis students who were apparently reading from the same script, since their comments were identical or nearly so.

So, one might have expected that the June 9 meeting would be more of the same.  But that was not the case.

Continue reading "Surprising outcome and a few oddities at Planning Commission meeting" »


Letter from OEDNA Board, RE: Core Transition East in Downtown Plan

June 8, 2021
Mark N. Grote, Secretary
Old East Davis Neighborhood Association

City Council and Planning Commission Members
Planning Staff
Community Members

Re: Future of the Core Transition East

Dear decision-makers and community members: On behalf of the Old East Davis Neighborhood Association Board, I am writing to ask again for collaboration between the city, property owners and neighbors, to address the unique challenges of the Core Transition East as the Downtown Plan moves forward.  

Unique challenges of the Core Transition East parcels

The Core Transition East, located in Old East Davis just to the east of downtown, consists of four large parcels adjacent to the Union Pacific railroad tracks between 3rd and 5th Streets. Current planning provisions designate this area for neighborhood-compatible buildings that make appropriate scale transitions between the downtown core and the traditional, small-scale houses of Old East Davis.

The parcels of the Core Transition East present unique design challenges that are not met by the general building forms of the November 2019 draft Form-Based Code currently under review as part of the Downtown Plan. Some of the unusual features of these parcels are:

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What the HEC is Going On?

IMG_0744The Subversion of the Housing Element Committee (HEC) Deliberation Process by Hidden Development Interests

Note: Several recent articles in the Davisite touch on the subject matter discussed here: For other comments on the Housing Element’s failure to address affordability and the proposals being pushed by development and real estate interests, see Davis Housing Element Fails Affordable Housing (5/27/2021). See also Comments on Draft Housing Element from Legal Services of Northern California (5/25/2021) For comments on problems with the City of Davis’s decision-making process see Good decision-making process involves staff and City Council too (6/3/2021)

By Alan Pryor and Rik Keller

The City of Davis’s Housing Element Committee (HEC), which is supposed to represent a “diversity of interests” in the community, was instead co-opted by development and real estate interests. Two weeks ago, there were a last-minute series of policy recommendations that were sprung on the Committee by these same real estate and development interests in violation of Brown Act open meeting laws. The HEC then further violated these laws in considering and voting to adopt the recommendations. Furthermore, the development and real estate interests on the Committee failed to adequately disclose conflicts of interest in terms of their investments and holdings in the City that would be impacted by the favorable recommendations approved by the HEC.

This subverted process brings up important questions: Why has the City directed a process that has so little public input, especially from genuine affordable housing advocacy groups? How did the City staff allow so many violations of Brown Act laws regarding transparency and open government? Why did the City select HEC members with such a preponderance of real estate interests instead of appointing more representatives from the affordable housing community?

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Comments on Draft Housing Element from Legal Services of Northern California

Screen Shot 2021-06-06 at 11.20.18 AMConcerns raised about lack of public participation from all economic segments of the community without adequate time to review, among many other concerns. Additional changes are needed to comply with the law and provide the most effective strategies to address the critical housing needs facing Davis residents with low incomes.

Background: The City of Davis is preparing the 2021 – 2029 Housing Element to evaluate current and future housing conditions and identify housing sites to meet the community’s needs. Updating the Housing Element is a state requirement. The following letter commenting on the Draft Housing Element from Legal Services of Northern California was sent to the Davisite to post.

May 25, 2021

Jessica Lynch, Senior Planner
Department of Community Development and Sustainability
23 Russell Boulevard
Davis, CA 95616

Via email at jlynch@cityofdavis.org
Re: Housing Element Update 2021-2029, draft submitted May 3, 2021

Dear Ms. Lynch and City of Davis Staff,

We are writing to provide comments on the Draft Housing Element released for public comment and submitted to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) on May 3, 2021.

As you know, Legal Services of Northern California (“LSNC”) is a nonprofit civil legal aid organization providing legal assistance to low income individuals and families throughout Yolo County. LSNC’s mission is to provide quality legal services to empower the poor to identify and defeat the causes and effects of poverty within our community. LSNC has represented tenants in Yolo County since 1967. Last year, we handled more than 900 housing cases, including almost 200 cases for Davis households. Through our work, we gain insight into the struggles of low- income residents in Davis.

We have prepared these comments in partnership with and on behalf of the Sacramento Housing Alliance, a nonprofit coalition that works to ensure that all people in the greater Sacramento region have safe, decent, accessible and affordable housing in healthy neighborhoods supported by equitable public policies and practices.

The draft element adequately addresses many of the statutory requirements. Our comments cover areas where additional changes are needed to comply with the law and provide the most effective strategies to address the critical housing needs facing Davis residents with low incomes. We, along with SHA, are happy to discuss our comments and provide additional input as the City incorporates our suggestions and finalizes the draft.

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Davis Housing Element Fails Affordable Housing

Housing elementOn 5/26 the City of Davis Planning Commission met to discuss the draft housing element. The Housing Element is a state mandated component to the Cities General Plan since 1969, California has required that all local governments update the Housing Element on regular intervals to meet the housing needs within the community. The City of Davis is receiving comments on the 2021-2029 housing element through July 1st at 5pm. you can learn more about the 2021-2029 Davis Housing Element here Link .

What follows are the comments of Rik Keller to the Davis Planning Commission.

__________

5/26/2021

To: City of Davis Planning Commission

From: Rik Keller

Re: Housing Element Update

I have been a long-term affordable housing consultant and advocate since the mid-1990s. Locally, I have recently advocated for increased affordable housing for various projects in the City review process...

  • see: https://www.davisvanguard.org/2018/06/examination-affordability-nishi-projectmeasure-j-expensive-overcrowded/

...and for more equitable and inclusive housing policies in general:

  • see my 3-article series here: https://www.davisite.org/2018/10/keeping-davis-white-land-use-policy-is-a-civil-rights-issue.html

I am a strong advocate for addressing exclusionary housing practices. We already have tools in place to counter “snob”/exclusionary zoning. These include inclusionary zoning (IZ) policies that the City of Davis has in place as part of its Affordable Housing Ordinance [AHO] (see Article 18.05 of the Davis Municipal Code: http://qcode.us/codes/davis/view.php?version=beta&view=mobile&topic=18-18_05)

Unfortunately though, the City of Davis has drastically weakened its IZ policies in the past decade. In 2011, in response to pressure from development groups, it suspended its Middle Income Ordinance that was targeted to provide housing affordable to the local workforce. And in early 2018, the 25-35% requirement for inclusionary/affordable housing in the City’s Affordable Housing Ordinance (AHO) was reduced to 15% “temporarily” because of a need to respond to State rules. In the almost 3.5-years since, the City has been promising to update its IZ requirements, but has repeatedly broken its own deadlines, and hasn’t completed the required studies to update it.

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Another Letter to Planning Commission - serious flaws with Davis-Connected Buyers Program

Dear Planning Commissioners -

At the upcoming Planning Commission meeting this Wednesday you will be presented with the newly proposed "Davis-Connected Buyers Program" for the Bretton Woods Project. This new proposal has serious flaws and is essentially gutless in terms of ensuring that a large percentage of new homes are sold to existing Davis homeowners thus freeing up current local housing stock for new families as promised by the developer in the actual language on the ballot in the Measure J/R vote in 2018.

I have written a detailed article published in the Davisite about the new program and its shortcomings that are so severe that it renders the program practically non-existent. To see the article click on the following title, Bretton Woods Attempts Another Bait and Switch with Its Davis Based Buyers Program.

In summary, the new Davis-Connected Buyers Program states that it will have prospective buyers sign a disclosure form identifying their link to Davis but that it also allows ANYONE to refuse to sign the disclosure form because they are a member of a protected class based on any race, gender or gender identity, ethnicity, religion, etc. I myself could refuse to sign the disclosure form simply because I am a straight married white agnostic male and the developer's new proposal says that would allow me to buy a new home even if I otherwise had no links at all to Davis. The developer also claims that they will not investigate or demand proof of any "protected status" claims because he does not want to intrude on the prospective buyers privacy. In other words, the developer will take any and all buyers thus opening the floodgates to anyone who wants to buy there and has the wherewithal to engage in bidding wars.

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Letter to Planning Commission Expresses Concerns with Bretton Woods Davis-Connected Buyers Program

Below is the text of a letter submitted to the Davis Planning Commission for its April 14th meeting expressing issues and concerns with the Bretton Woods Davis-Connected Buyers Program.

Commissioners:

I write to express concerns with the Davis-Connected Buyers Program (DCBP), which is scheduled to be presented at the Planning Commission’s April 14, 2021 meeting. I am disappointed that this agenda item is an informational update only rather than an action item. That suggests that the City Council is not interested in further commission input or recommendations on the DCBP and that its approval by the Council as submitted by the developer is a fait accompli.

I am now retired but have nearly four decades experience with state and federal fair housing laws. I was an attorney with Disability Rights California, California’s designated non-profit disability protection and advocacy organization, for 26 years and subsequently held positions as Chief Consultant for the Assembly Human Services Committee and as legislative director for the California Department of Developmental Services. I am also a former member of the Davis Social Services Commission.

Provisions of the DCBP do not make sense and the program will almost certainly not achieve its purported purpose. Most importantly, as has been alleged—including in a lawsuit challenging the DCBP that was subsequently dismissed without prejudice on procedural grounds—the DCBP is likely to perpetuate, and possibly exacerbate, existing racial disparities in Davis as compared to the region.

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