Entries categorized "Housing"

Sierra Club Endorses No on Measure B - No on DISC in Davis, CA

Sierra Club endorsedCiting grounds of “excessive traffic, greenhouse gas emissions, and poor land-use and planning”, the Sierra Club announces its opposition to Measure B in Davis CA on the November 2020 municipal ballot.

Measure B is a vote to allow the annexation of approximately 200-acres of Prime farmland on the northeast periphery of the City and the development of a business park along with a 850-unit housing development. The project site is now farmed and serves as foraging habitat for numerous Special Status Species including Burrowing Owls, Swainson’s Hawks, and White-Tailed Kites.

The endorsement of the opposition to this ballot measure follows an extensive evaluation process by the local Sierra Club Yolano Group, the Sierra Club Mother Lode Chapter Political and Executive Committees, and the Sierra Club California Local Measure Review Committee.

The Sierra Club has long-standing official policies designed to minimize urban sprawl onto farmland and habitat and maximize intensive infill development. These include planning policies that further conservation of open space and preservation of natural areas and agricultural lands. The Sierra Club opposes sprawl as a pattern of increasingly inefficient and wasteful land use with devastating environmental and social outcomes.

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Ongoing safety problems with Pacifico

The following email was sent to the City Council on late Tuesday evening and is reprinted here with the permission of the author.

Hello Mayor Partida, Council Members Lee, Frerichs, Carson, and Arnold, City Manager Webb and Assistant City Manager Feeney,

My comment to the City Council regarding Pacifico didn't make it through tonight. Nevertheless, I briefly want to remind all of you of the situation in our South Davis neighborhood.

The acts of crime and intimidation are continuous and not getting better. In fact, random hostile acts of intimidation have increased in number and the act of crime itself has increased in severity.

The most recent incidents that have compromise safety and well-being include:

  • attempted rape
  • prostitution in the parking lot
  • theft and intimidation to Pacifico residents by Pacifico residents
  • loitering combined with heavy consumption of alcohol on the bike path and near homes
  • drug deals and coercion in the parking lot
  • bb rifle shooting on the green belt by a known violent and dangerous criminal who frequents Pacifico
  • a dumpster fire that was suffocating and threatened my family and home.

Those who currently have their safety and well being compromised due to the Use at Pacifico include:

  • my family and visiting family and friends
  • neighbors, families, and friends in homes (Oakshade West Neighborhood Association and beyond)
  • neighbors, families, and students in apartments/duplexes (Octave and Sharp and Flats, Avalon, Brisa)
  • neighbors and Pacifico residents, including disadvantaged women, children and elders - some of our most vulnerable.

These dangers affect everyone in this neighborhood. Many horrible things have happened and continue to happen.

I respectfully request that a plan for Pacifico be of top priority and the subject be put on the long range calendar. Thank you.

Gratefully yours,

Tracy De Wit

Support our local Religious Leaders Recommendation for Reconsideration of the University Commons project

Community input to the Council majority of Partida, Lee and Carson is needed now

By Eileen M. Samitz

Many thanks to the Davis religious leaders for the excellent article published August 22 in the Davisite.

This incredible and sincere outreach by so many local religious leaders to the City Council majority is impressive and their recommended action is so needed to be taken by Council majority now.  So everyone’s input to the Council is needed now, to support the recommendation to reconsider approval of the University Commons project, before this Tuesday’s August 25th meeting when the Council is scheduled to finalize approval of the project.

The Davis religious leaders group recommendation for the Council majority is to “take a pause and reconsider their approval votes” and to reject it. This terrible project does not offer any housing that is affordable. So, urging the Council to reconsider its approval is clearly the right thing to do for the sake of the UCD students, as well as the rest of the community needing housing that is affordable. The University Commons “affordable units” are affordable in name only, and it is an insult to even classify them as “affordable” with the rental prices they are projecting.

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Insufficient affordable housing at University Commons

Faith leaders speak out

19universitycommonsAt the Davis City Council Meeting on Tuesday, August 18, a 3-2 vote approved the University Commons Proposal. We, the undersigned faith leaders, express our disappointment at this decision. While we are encouraged by Brixmor's increase from 0% to 5% affordable housing at the 80% median income for Yolo County, we also contend that this is not enough.

While the specific decision regarding the University Commons is the spark to this conversation, the housing crisis in Davis and across our state does not begin and end with this decision.

As faith leaders in the Davis community, we have the opportunity to engage with individuals from many walks of life, ministering with people of diverse economic, racial, generational, and educational backgrounds.

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The disastrous University Commons mega-dorm proposal goes to City Council August 18 for final vote

New Staff report reveals even more issues


By Eileen M. Samitz

The Planning Commission’s 7:0 denial vote

The monolithic University Commons redevelopment proposal is heading for a final City Council vote on August 18. This project is completely out of scale for the surrounding neighborhoods and would create enormous impacts in the already heavily trafficked Russell Blvd. corridor and beyond. In addition to creating a 7-story, block-wide “wall,” the impacts from this project would negatively affect the entire community in many ways. 

The project’s many problems include the “rent-by-the bed” group housing format consisting of 894 beds which includes many 4-bedrooms apartments unsuitable for families. The City has approved four mega-dorms in the last few years; there’s no need for a fifth.  The Planning Commission voted unanimously to reject the project and its Environmental Impact Report (EIR) due to many reasons covered in a recent op-ed including the “significant and unavoidable” traffic impacts. Such a resounding denial rarely happens unless the project is as exceptionally bad as the University Commons proposal. The weblink to that op-ed with the many reasons for the Planning Commission’s rejection for the project and its EIR can be viewed here.

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Keeping My Commitment to the Community

Screen Shot 2020-07-31 at 7.51.43 AMBy David Taormino

The list of challenges for residential developers and builders in Davis is long and well known.

To be honest, our community’s reputation for opposing nearly all growth was a major hurdle when we presented Bretton Woods to 14 financially qualified and experienced national home builders. Almost all solicited builders turned down Bretton Woods without any consideration of the project’s merits, with its Davis location cited as their deciding factor. Several builders that turned it down are currently building in Spring Lake, aka “North North Davis,” where 80 percent of buyers come from Davis.

Voters approved Measure L in November 2018, with the understanding that Bretton Woods would be a community intended to accommodate current Davis residents, and that 90 percent of sales would be limited to Davis connected buyers. This was what I pledged, and my commitment to achieving this goal remains unchanged.

In October 2019, I asked the City, on behalf of the builder, to amend the Development Agreement (DA). The builder requested that the City remove the 90 percent Davis connected limitation from the DA for two reasons — they would have more autonomy if the market for Davis based seniors was not as substantial as expected; or if someone filed a discrimination-oriented lawsuit. Some in the community criticized this request to remove the language pertaining to the Davis Connected Buyers Program a “bait and switch.” I want to explain why that is not the case.

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Rebuttal to University Commons Staff Report


By Greg Rowe

This is a rebuttal to the staff report on the proposed University Commons project.  It falsely implies that limiting 4-bedroom units to 45% of the 264 units (or 119 units) is a developer concession.  But as stated in the EIR Notice of Preparation (November 16, 2018, p. 4), the developer originally proposed that 66 units (25%) would have 4 bedrooms. The 45% cap now offered is higher than the original proposal by 20 percentage points and 53 units. Specifying there would be no units with 5 or more bedrooms is meaningless because the original proposal had no such units.

The report asserts student oriented rental projects can have a beneficial impact by easing pressure on single-family neighborhoods and reducing competition for single-family rentals. That would be true if UCD's student population remained static, but UCD's July 16 "University News" confirms that UCD is continuing its relentless enrollment growth far beyond the City's ability to respond. UCD offered fall 2020 freshman and transfer admission to a record high 45,820 applicants, including 35,838 freshman admissions, a jump of 17.5% above last year.  The campus expects to enroll 9,500 freshmen and transfer students, or 5% more than fall 2019. The upshot is that UCD's student growth will outpace available housing no matter how many more student projects the City approves. The need for rental housing near campus for UCD employees has meanwhile not been addressed.

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Please Endorse the Planning Commission's Unanimous Vote Against the Umall Project


The following letter was sent to the Davis City Council and is reprinted here at the request of the author.

Dear City Council,

I am writing  to ask you to support the unanimous decision of the Planning Commission to not  approve the U-Mall project for all of the reasons they gave and the ones that were elaborated on in great detail by Commissioner Rowe. I will only highlight several key points.

Firstly, let it be noted that last week UCD projected that fall enrollment would be almost 40,000 students, or, I think, 13.6% above last year. I am a retired university professor and I have lived in university towns all my life in the US and UK. I am not anti-student. I continue to like living in a university town and that was one reasons I moved here in 2000 and bought my first house. However, I never imagined that UCD's rapid enrollment expansion would, and will further,  drastically re-shape the city. I don't have time to crunch a bunch of numbers but few cities in the US can have such a high proportion of students to its population. Furthermore, until about five years ago I was not aware of UCD's abysmal record, the worst in the UC system, of building on-campus student housing.

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City Council Should Heed Planning Commission’s University Mall Recommendation

Screen Shot 2020-07-09 at 2.54.07 PMBy Greg Rowe

Some Davis residents have publicly questioned the planning commission’s May 27 unanimous rejection of the University Commons redevelopment proposal.  After carefully evaluating this project for 18 months, I suggest that decision reflects the community’s expectation that the commission will uphold good land use practices and support neighborhood integrity.   

Instead of simply modernizing University Mall, the owner (Brixmor) wants to convert it to a large student housing complex with retail, offices and other features to purportedly serve community needs.  Brixmor’s March 2018 application included 174 housing units comprising 552 bedrooms within 208,606 square feet (sf). But 8 months later when the city issued an EIR “Notice of Preparation” (NOP), the apartments had increased by 90 units and almost doubled in area to 412,000 sf with 894 beds. There was no explanation for this increase.  

The NOP said the 264 apartments would consist of 66 one-bedroom units, 104 two-bedrooms, 28 three-bedrooms, and 66 four-bedroom units (25%), focused on student bed rentals. But as I explained at the May hearing, a 2019 survey of Davis apartment complexes revealed that 76% of surveyed units have only 1 or 2 bedrooms. Units with 4 or more bedrooms comprise just 6% of surveyed apartments, compared to the 25% sought for University Commons. These factors clearly reveal Brixmor’s intent to exclusively cater to student renters because families are better served by conventional apartments.

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Local Clergy Comment on Affordable Housing

The owners of the University Mall, the Brixmor Property Group, have applied to the City for permission to demolish the existing shopping center and replace it with a mixed-use project of 264 apartments and 136,000 sq ft ground-floor retail.

We also note that Commissioner Darryl Rutherford has stated that the Commissioners themselves had multiple objections. "I'm a little disappointed in what we're seeing here." He called the proposed affordable housing plan ($600,000 in lieu fees) "an atrocity" and a "slap in the face."

Historically, Davis once had one of the strongest inclusionary housing requirements in the state. That policy intended to create affordable units in every major rental project built in Davis, enabling low-income families to live in Davis, and create the possibility of a robustly diverse community. Many minority households whose members work in Davis are part of the low-income population and these affordable units were often their only entry to living and working in Davis.

However, of the 264 apartments being given permission to be built on the University Mall site in Davis, not one of those 264 units will be set aside as an affordable unit.

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David Taormino and Bretton Woods Are Attempting a "Bait-and-Switch" with the Davis-Based Buyers Program

by Alan Pryor


David Taormino, the developer of the Bretton Woods senior housing development just west of Sutter Hospital, is trying to pull another fast one on the City of Davis' senior population. Taormino just proposed, and City Staff supports, that the Davis-Based Buyers Program be rescinded from the signed Development Agreement for the Project that already exists between him and the City. This local senior-preferential buying program reserved 90% of the 560 new homes in the project for seniors that have a pre-existing connection to the City of Davis. It promised that the project would be for local or Davis-connected seniors and not just a high-end enclave for rich retirees fleeing from the Bay Area.

This requirement to preferentially sell to existing Davis seniors was widely promoted and promised to voters in actual ballot language when the project was approved in the November, 2018 general election (then known as the West Davis Active Adult Community). Well, after Taormino and all his lawyers and the Davis City Council all loudly and adamantly proclaimed the project was definitely and undeniably legal in all respects, now David Taormino claims he has new "concerns" about the legality of the program and he wants to rescind it and its promises to Davis seniors. There has been no new legal opinion or justification provided by Mr. Taormino to substantiate this newfound concern.

Of course the real reason that Taormino has this newfound concern for the law is that he realizes that by selling his new homes to wealthier Bay Area expatriates instead of the local senior voters he so ardently-courted (but who have far less home equity in their existing homes), Mr. Taormino can probably get an extra 10 - 15% or more for each home he sells to out-of-towners. And he can market the homes to a whole lot more people than he would if otherwise restricted to Davis. 

But Taormino heavily sold this project directly to Davis senior voters by promising them that this project would be just for them and not cater to Bay Area transplants. He even collected hundreds and hundreds of names and email addresses of senior voters by claiming he was putting them on a buyers "waiting list" for the new homes and then proceeded to bombard them with campaign literature in the guise of project "updates" throughout the election campaign.

This whole bait and switch process is fundamentally dishonest and reprehensible. And for City Staff to recommend that Taormino be allowed to remove this obligation from the Development Agreement while getting really noting of substance in return, it shows City Staff is once again willing to play ball accommodating developers without regard to what is best for the City and, in this case, its senior residents.

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Is the Proposed Davis Innovation and Sustainability Campus a Land-Use Dinosaur Before It is Even Approved to be Put on the Ballot?

Is it a "Field of Schemes"?

FieldofschemesBy Alan Pryor


The COVID-pandemic has accelerated and likely made permanent huge increases in home-based, work-related remote telecommuting. This trend would dramatically decrease office space needs in sprawling business parks like the proposed Davis Innovation and Sustainability Center (DISC) (formerly known as the Aggie Research Campus (ARC), and before that, as Mace Ranch Innovation Center (MRIC)).

In turn, this reduced demand for office space will drastically decrease rental income from such large office developments. Because property valuations are strongly based on rental income, reduced rents will reduce property valuations which will, in turn, reduce property tax income to the City. And if such property tax income is sufficiently depressed in the future and exceeds the costs to the City of providing essential services to residents and business park tenants, the DISC project could turn into a net drain on City coffers.

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BTSSC's Transportation Baseline Features for ARC/DISC

Sub-Committee will bring draft to full Commission meeting this week

MRICARCDISCfinalProposed Transportation Baseline Features for Davis Innovation Sustainability Campus:

Parking Lots and Internal Streets, Housing, Transportation Demand Management, Site Access and Traffic Mitigation Features and general Mitigation Features

The City of Davis (City) Bicycling, Transportation and Street Safety Commission (BTSSC) met on May 8, 2020 and formed a sub-committee on transportation baseline features for the proposed Davis Innovation Sustainability Campus (DISC; formerly known as the Aggie Research Campus) Project (Project). These draft features will be reviewed with the full BTSSC on June 11, 2020 with any resulting vote submitted to the appropriate city bodies, with a recommendation for the revised features to be included in “Baseline Project Features” submitted for voter approval of the Project pursuant to a Measure R vote. The draft of this sub-committee discussion is below.

Information on the June 11 meeting, including how you can comments, can be found here.

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U-Mall proposal inviting final input to Planning Commission this Wednesday, May 27th

“University Commons”, Still a Monolithic Mega-dorm Fraught with Problems

U-Mall Project proposal is still out-of-scale and the wrong design

Figure 3-8

By Eileen M. Samitz

Time is of the essence for anyone concerned about the inevitable negative effects that would come with almost 900 students living at University Mall.  The proposed “University Commons” redevelopment project and Final Environmental Impact Report (or FEIR) will be on the Planning Commission agenda for a public hearing next Wednesday evening, May 27th.  The commission is being asked to make a recommendation to the City Council on whether to proceed with the project.  As outlined in my article on December 15th, the proposed massive 7-story building will put another big concentration of students close to already heavily-impacted neighborhoods, without improving retail opportunities for Davis residents. 

It should not surprise anyone familiar with the University Mall area that the FEIR determines that the University Commons Project “…would result in significant and unavoidable impacts related to transportation and circulation.” The proposed project continues to pose many important but unanswered questions in terms of parking, neighborhood spillover outcomes and other concerns summarized below.

To make your opinion count, please send an email to the Planning Commission now, and leave a voice mail comment for the commission by following the directions in the agenda notice posted Friday on the City website. It is important to express your concerns by leaving your public comment voicemail, limited to three minutes any time before the meeting, or before the item during the Wednesday, May 27th Planning Commission meeting at (530) 757-5693.  Because public meetings remain off limits due to COVID-19, the Commission meeting will occur on Zoom (see the Zoom link for the meeting via the agenda link below), and recorded project comments will be read aloud to the commissioners during the meeting. To leave a public comment that will be read during the meeting, follow the May 27th agenda link below, and follow the instructions under “public comments”. The meeting be viewed via ZOOM or on cable TV on channel 16. Please be sure to review the staff report.

Here is the Planning Commission Agenda:


Here is the U-Mall EIR Staff report:


The FEIR and updated documents about the project are on the City website, at this link:


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Information & Questions about the ARC

The following comments were submitted by Greg Rowe, member of the Planning Commission, for the February 26 Planning Commission workshop on the Aggie Research Campus (ARC).  They are addressed to the Chair and staff liaison to the Commission, respectively.

Matt Keasling speaks to the Planning Commission, 2/26

Cheryl and Sherri:

As you know, I'll be out of town for the Feb 26 Planning Commission meeting; I’ll be leaving early Thursday AM. 

I met on January 7 for over 2 hours with Dan Ramos and attorney Matt Keasling (Taylor & Wiley).  Below are a few of the questions I asked, and their responses.  This information may be relevant to next week's workshop.

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UCD Grade Strike Starts Thursday

Screen shot 2020-02-26 at 4.35.10 PM(from press release) Dear Davis community,

Tonight at our General Assembly, we agreed to move forward in solidarity with the wildcats in Santa Cruz and see through our demands for a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). On Thursday, February 27, Davis graduate students will begin a grade strike for the Winter quarter to demand a COLA and to call on the University of California to rescind its threats of retaliation against wildcat strikers at UC Santa Cruz.

A grading strike is the withholding of grades by Teaching Assistants (TAs) designed to disrupt the everyday functioning of the University.

We will be releasing more information, resources, and FAQs in the coming days. Please check out our website and follow our social media for all of that.

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Blogger receives ARC docs before Commissions and citizens do

Sustainability-ARCBy Colin Walsh

On Thursday morning, a local blog referred to a set of environmental sustainability "guiding principles" released from the developers of the Mace ARC business park. I looked on the City's ARC website but I could find no such document. Puzzled, I emailed City Manager Mike Webb, and received the following response:

Dear Colin,

I am responding to this message on Mike's behalf.

David Greenwald contacted staff on Tuesday afternoon asking if we had received any new materials on Aggie Research Campus from the developer. The only additional item that we had received was their Environmental Sustainability Guiding Principles for the project. Considering a public document was requested, it was provided accordingly. The attached document was received last week from the applicant and will be posted to the City website later today along with the Natural Resources Commission memorandum when it is ready for posting. Our staff is not able to immediately post each document as it is received. We endeavor to post them in a timely fashion and it will be posted later today along with the staff memorandum to the Natural Resources Commission.

The Natural Resources Commission and the Planning Commission will both be receiving the document with their meeting packets consistent with our regular and accepted operating procedures for commissions. Staff will be seeking the Natural Resources Commission feedback on the applicant's proposed Environmental Sustainability Guiding Principles and the Planning Commission workshop is an informational project introduction. The packet for the Natural Resources Commission will be posted on the City website this evening and the Planning Commission packet will be posted tomorrow evening.

Thank you,

Ashley Feeney
Assistant City Manager

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Followup to: Mace ARC Business Park Developer Trying to Omit Details until after Vote

Mac-ARC-map-under-mag-glassTree, Recreation and Parks Commissions will now review before the vote; still unclear what sort of project detail will be left out

By Roberta Millstein

On Tuesday, I published an article that detailed the fact that despite numerous requests and promises from the City, some key commissions would not be reviewing the Mace ARC Business Park until after the Measure R vote (see article here).  I had also forwarded my article to the Davis City Council.  Early yesterday evening, I received the following email response from Assistant City Manager Ashley Feeney:

Dear Roberta,

The ARC project has applied for a General Plan Amendment, Pre-Zoning, a Sphere of Influence Amendment and an Annexation. These are the land use entitlements that would be the subject of a Measure R vote should they ultimately be approved and referred to the ballot by the City Council. Baseline project features would also be established and memorialized as part of the Measure R vote. These initial entitlements would establish land use for the project area. The project will require future implementing entitlements that have been described on the City's ARC webpage.

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Mace ARC Business Park Developer Trying to Omit Details until after Vote

Mac-ARC-map-under-mag-glassThe City’s promise to include full commission review is being broken

 By Roberta Millstein

The developers of the Mace ARC Business Park are avoiding a full analysis of their project proposal and omitting important project details until after citizens have voted on the project.  City staff seems to support them in this, and City Council isn’t asking any questions – even though they had already promised that the proposal would be seen by all of the relevant City commissions. 

Without a full public disclosure of the project and proper impartial commission analysis, citizens will not have the information they need to make an informed decision.

For those who don’t know the legal context, this project will require a city wide vote – because the 200 acres proposed for the ARC business park outside Mace Curve is outside the Davis City limits with an agricultural land use designation, it is subject to a Measure R (formerly Measure J, now Davis Municipal Code Chapter 41) vote.  One of the provisions requires:

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Affordable Housing & Community Space: A Renter Forum

For-renter-forumYolo County Supervisor candidate David Abramson will be hosting a ‘Renters Forum’ on Saturday, February 15 from 5:00-7:00PM. It will be held at Davis Coworking’s new downstairs event space, right next to Fluffly's Donuts and Subway.

It will be an opportunity for renters to share their stories and to get together to develop a vision for affordable, healthful, and climate-positive housing in Davis and Yolo County.

We will also envision how we can move forward in creating affordable and accessible cultural spaces to facilitate arts, music, and healthy activities in Yolo County.

All who are interested (renters and homeowners alike) are welcome to join. Light refreshments provided.

Max capacity 40. Please register in advance to ensure your seat! https://www.facebook.com/events/122783449070392/