Entries categorized "Land use"

City Comissions Merger Proposals are Ill Conceived - Testify Tuesday!












The City Council is hearing proposals to consolidate commissions on Tuesday night. These changes have serious implications. Here are the proposals:

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Final I-80 EIR released - an embarrassment of errors that sets up Caltrans for Legal challenge

I-80- causeway narrower lane cross section
By Alan Hirsch

On Wednesday May 1, the 1971 page (plus 345-page appendix)- final EIR for yolo80 was released. The 139 comments take up nearly 71% of the pages.   – 108 of the 139 were from individuals, not government agencies, cities or  environment groups with paid staff.  This highlights the  fact this science-defying proposal from Caltrans has become “the most controversial freeway project in the state.” 

 NOTE: The last chance to comment on the funding will be at California Transportation Commission Meeting Thursday May 16, By Tuesday send any comments. (esp inadequately funded mitigation plan, induced demand negates any congestion relief, no environmental justice plan for tolls)
to [email protected]
Subject: Widening I-80 with a Expensive Toll lane.
Pro-Tip: use 14 or 16 pt font for short email.


The EIR concluded that despite the widening the freeway will generate 158M more miles of driving (VMT) a year...equal to adding over 11,000 more cars to the road and should be built based on “Statement of  Overriding concern” as it has benefit to reducing congestion- Even  though everyone agree this is wrong as congestion will return within less than ten years.  It is also strange given  their VMT Mitigation plan only offsets 55 Mil VMT miles year of the additional driving and ignores the nearly 50Million of additional a truck.

Adding capacity via toll lanes only guarantee richest member of community- and groups of Tahoe travelers  never faces congestion.

The EIR also ignores any analysis of increased danger from narrowing lanes and permanently removing shoulders. (see diagram)   

The ability of the proposed mitigation plan to provide a carbon/VMT offset is taken to higher degrees of absurdity to somehow claim the project tolls will fund adequate mitigations- and have money left for a social equity/environmental Justice  program into perpetuity.

Public not told about public hearing on toll levels.

Continue reading "Final I-80 EIR released - an embarrassment of errors that sets up Caltrans for Legal challenge" »

My Apology to the Citizens, Voters and Seniors of Davis

By David J. Thompson

I feel that I must ask the citizens and voters of Davis for your forgiveness relating to what did not happen with the 150-unit senior housing project assigned to Delta Senior Housing Communities (DSHC) at the Bretton Woods project. My apology is because in 2021 DSHC without a word to the City of Davis or the public abandoned the four-year Bretton Woods project. So what was promised to the public by DSHC is not going to happen.

From 2016 through 2021 I worked tirelessly on behalf of Delta Senior Housing Communities, Inc. (DSHC) to win passage of Measure J (approval of what is now Bretton Woods). If Measure J passed then DSHC would be given five acres of land to build 150 units of low-income affordable senior housing. Although I asked the President of DSHC to help me win passage he never did and in three years he did not attend any of the many neighborhood meetings or the twice weekly booth at the Davis Farmers Market. I think the DSHC President may have attended one event but in that four-year campaign none of the other three DSCH officers/board members ever attended any event or even wrote a letter of support to the Davis Enterprise. 

During that time I began to think that DSHC was hardly functioning as the board of a non-profit tax-exempt entity.

Continue reading "My Apology to the Citizens, Voters and Seniors of Davis" »

Sierra Club Endorses No on Measure M - No on the Floodwall in Woodland, CA

(From press release) Citing “the potential to induce sprawling growth”, the “potential adverse impacts on prime farm land”, “lack of proper public process”, devastating environmental and social outcomes including climate change, air pollution, and loss of biodiversity, the Sierra Club announces its opposition to Measure M in Woodland CA on the March 5, 2024 Special Municipal Election Ballot. Measure M is a vote to allow the construction of the Lower Cache Creek Flood Risk Management Project or, as it is referred to locally, the “Floodwall”.

In 2004, a majority of Woodland voters passed Measure “S”, which added a section to the Woodland Municipal Code that provides that the City shall not fund or take any action that supports the Lower Cache Creek flood barrier or a “substantially similar structure”.

A "No" vote on Measure "M" will keep that prohibiting language in the Woodland Municipal Code in its current form as originally enacted by Measure “S”, and will not allow City Council authorization for the construction and funding of the Lower Cache Creek Flood Risk Management Project.

The Lower Cache Creek Flood Risk Management Project consists of a 5.6 mile massive earthen structure from 6 ft to about 16 ft above grade, depending on its location, and the existing topography of the land. It will run east-west just north of the northern urban limits of the City of Woodland connecting to an existing levee on the Cache Creek Settling Basin.

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

Continue reading "Sierra Club Endorses No on Measure M - No on the Floodwall in Woodland, CA" »

Tree Davis Seeking Feedback on Plans to Transform Sections of Robert Arneson Park into Climate-Ready Landscapes

Arenson Park No Monument (1) (3)

(From press release) Wildhorse neighborhood residents and Tree Davis have been developing a concept to transform under-used portions of Robert Arneson Park (the park adjacent to the intersection of Moore Boulevard and Bonnard Street in Northeast Davis) into Climate-Ready Landscapes. Climate-Ready Landscapes are spaces that are visually vibrant, drought tolerant, and support local nature. At Robert Arneson Park, this will be in the form of pollinator gardens and mini-forests. The Robert Arneson Park concept is related to work that Tree Davis has been working on at the Memorial Grove in West Davis on Shasta Drive.

Tree Davis is seeking feedback about the concept from park users and other stakeholders to gain insights about what changes will work best. There will be two in-person feedback sessions at the park. Before proceeding with this project, it is important that the Wildhorse community and other park users are comfortable with the changes that are proposed for the park. Tree Davis staff will be tabling, answering questions, and accepting feedback on Thursday, January 25th from 2:30pm to 5:30pm and Saturday, January 27th from 8:00am to 12:00pm near the central rotary off of Moore Drive.

Those that would like to share their thoughts but are not able to come to the in-person sessions can share feedback through an online survey, which can be found at: https://forms.gle/AfjBDcvJV3wERngA9 To see the project plans and learn more, visit our website at: https://www.treedavis.org/robert-arneson-park/

Tree Davis is a 31-year-old local non-profit that was established by local leaders to ensure the health of the city’s urban forest. Over the years the organization’s focus has grown - today the mission is to improve the health and resilience of local communities by enhancing and expanding Climate-Ready Trees and Landscapes through direct action, community engagement, and advocacy.

Sierra Club Yolano Group comments on Village Farms scope of work

The following comments were submitted to the City of Davis by the Sierra Club Yolano Group on December 8. Transmitted via email to <[email protected]>

Biological Resources

1. The Biological Resources should be studied in detail as outlined in the 5 December 2023 letter from Madrone Ecological Consulting, “Subject: Summary of Biological Resources Surveys Planned for the Village Farms Project, Yolo County, California.” but with the following suggestions:

  1. In the Aquatic Resources Delineation study, we recommend the timing of the determination of the extent of wetlands be expanded to include any times in which the area is water-inundated rather than at specifically identified times because inundation can occur during variable periods.

  2. We recommend the then current leasehold farmer not perform any cultural activities resulting in soil disturbances, including planting of cover crops, until the all wetland studies are completed.

  3. In the analysis for rare plants, we recommend all historical records be consulted.

  4. All surveys performed for determination of Biological Resources should be performed by specialists approved or certified to perform such studies under CEQA guidelines and performed in accordance with CDFW protocols.

  5. Environmental evaluation should also be performed considering the Yolo Regional Resource Conservation Investment Strategy/Land Conservation Plan (RCIS/LCP) in addition to the Yolo Habitat Conservation Plan & Natural Community Conservation Plan (HCP/NCCP).


Continue reading "Sierra Club Yolano Group comments on Village Farms scope of work" »

A Critique of Village Farms

In reference to the Village Farms Scoping Session

The City has asked citizens to comment on the Village Farms project. Here are mine…

by David J. Thompson

The project is based on obsolete planning principles which feature the single family home.

Preponderance of SF homes in this era is absurd for a town that thinks it’s green.

Global Warming is guaranteed and increased by this car-centric planning model.

Too few market-rate apartments for a community with such a low vacancy rate for the past 30 years. The lack of market rate apartments means tens of thousands of Students and working people will continue over paying on rent given the continued low vacancy rate.

There should be many more market rate apartments to bring down the excessive rental costs in Davis. Most of the 55.7% of Davis households (the 36,780 renters) are already overpaying rent (more than 30% of income spent on rent is HUD guideline).

Dos Pinos housing co-op has been the most successful home ownership program in Davis. 38 years later it is still providing substantial savings for its moderate income owners. It helps families time and time again rather than a one off bonanza and it’s gone forever. There are 122 households on the waiting list for DP (60 units) and the list has been closed since 2017 (2021 info from DP). There are between 6-10 turnovers per year. Why was another Dos Pinos co-op not included in Village Farms?

Continue reading "A Critique of Village Farms" »

Response to Davis Enterprise Article on December 6, 2023: “City, County, UCD Gather for Annual Meeting.”

By Greg Rowe

A recent Davis Enterprise article described the annual meeting of the Davis City Council, Yolo County District 2 and 4 Supervisors and UC Davis administrators, held on December 5.  UCD’s on-campus student housing construction program since 2018 was glowingly portrayed by the university representatives. The reality is that UCD had for years resisted building an adequate supply of on-campus housing to meet the needs of its continued enrollment growth, and literally had to be dragged kicking and screaming into agreeing to finally address the problem.

Evidently forgotten amid UCD’s self-congratulatory presentation were the herculean exertions between 2015 and 2018 by a small alliance of dedicated citizens who committed countless hours working toward the goal of convincing UCD to address its student housing needs in a meaningful way. Those efforts focused on educating the Davis City Council and the Yolo County Board of Supervisors about UCD’s long-standing failure to provide on-campus student housing on pace with escalating enrollment, and the resulting negative community impacts. The group wrote countless articles, letters and a comprehensive “white paper,” met with UCD planners and elected officials, spoke at meetings of the UC Board of Regents, and documented the superior student housing accomplishments at other UC campuses. 

Early drafts of UCD’s Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) proposed to only marginally increase the percentage of students living in campus residence halls between 2018 and 2030. The university’s initial intent was to simply redevelop existing campus housing rather than aggressively increasing bed capacity with new construction.

It also appeared that UCD intended to dodge its housing responsibilities by continuing to “master lease”  apartment complexes in Davis for exclusive occupancy by UCD students. This “band aid” approach meant fewer apartments were available to workforce families. It also allowed apartment owners to avoid paying property taxes because the lessee, UCD, is tax-exempt.

Continue reading "Response to Davis Enterprise Article on December 6, 2023: “City, County, UCD Gather for Annual Meeting.”" »

Did Caltrans Piece-Meal Plan for I-80 corridor violate CEQA, ignore Davis impacts? 

Caltrans failure to do corridor wide EIR negated transit, wastes billions and did not call out cut thru impacts

Piecemealing Map I-80 corridor

 by Alan Hirsch, Yolo Mobility  

Transit works best as a network- you won’t get transit ridership if you just build just 1 or 5 miles of light rail, or upgrade just a few miles of Amtrak to 100mph service. You need to have interconnected regional system, especially with our dispersed land use patterns.  

Below is a Caltrans map from the long-hidden corridor plan, the “I-80  CMCP” shows the many widenings has planned or started in the  I-80 Corridor. These types of corridor plans, first required by SB1 (2017) reveal for the first time “piece-mealing” of freeway widening, I.E., breaking a corridor widening into  many small separate projects.   Each separate project is studied separately thru alternative analysis/EIR process so to assure transit alternative are small stand-and never pencil. And many of  project are so small they don’t even require at EIR.   

If fact, this is why piece-mealing is a violation of California Environmental Law. It has been cited by many others including a recent hi level whistleblower as how Caltrans systematically gets around environmental laws designed to address climate change.  

The corridor plan for I-80 (I-80 CMCP) was not released to public on Caltrans website until May of 2023, over 9 months after the Yolo80 EIR alternative were selected. In fact, this corridor plan did compare transit  vs highway alternatives. It concluded upgrading the Capitol Corridor Rail service to 100 MPH is 15x more cost effective to move people than the entire bundle of freeway widening shown on map (see Vanguard article).  

With many of the widening construction already are underway, one can wonder how many billions (with a B) of dollars in taxpayer money are being poorly spend because of this setup by Caltrans to preordain a result ? What sort of set back does this represent on meeting the state climate plan that required us to reduce driving and well as shift to electric cars to reduce our GHG’s. 

One can also note the Yolo causeway “bottle neck” and cut thru traffic in Davis did not just happen:  it was created by Caltrans by widening freeway to the west and it impact on Davis section of I-80  s shown clearly in  traffic studies.   

As for collaboration with communities in the developing corridor plans, a public record request of Yolobus/Yolo TD found no records in its files it was involved in developing the plan, and Caltrans has never presented the final or preliminary report or involved YoloTD board or Davis City or its Commissions in its development in a substantive way. Yet Caltrans lists these entities, as well as citizens groups like Bike Davis as involved with its development. Caltrans neglect of considering community impact is shown by Caltrans failure to list “reduce cut thru traffic” as a goal/purpose/need for their proposed Causeway widening on its project website

SAVE THE DATE: A Freeway Teach-In Nov 8th  

Davis Futures Forum on the Future of the I-80 Corridor 

Wed, Nov 8th 7:00-8:30  Davis Community Church Fellowship Hall, 412 C street 

I-80 traffic congestion is frustrating even the most patient among us! The Caltrans proposed solution has been to increase the number of traffic lanes, however many Davis citizens have expressed strong opposition noting the need for transportation alternatives. Further, a high level Caltrans executive has accused her peers of violating environmental laws by underestimating the negative impacts of the proposal. And research at the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies shows that attempts to address congestion by adding lanes only works for a short time before the lanes are filled again by new drivers. 

What is the solution? The public is invited to explore this question at a Davis Futures Forum talk and panel discussion. The keynote speaker is Professor Susan Handy, the renowned head of the National Center for Sustainable Development. Her presentation will be followed by a diverse response panel who will give us their thoughts about how best to move forward. The event will be held Wednesday, Nov 8th at 7pm in at the Davis Community Church. Please sign up in advance and you will receive advance material, a link to the real-time zoom and YouTube recording of the teach-in. 

It Does Pencil Out

2 + 2 = By Larry D. Guenther

We often hear from developers that a building required by existing zoning “doesn’t pencil out” and that they therefore must be allowed to build bigger. Several issues make this claim suspect.

First, developers never show the math they use to make this statement. Never.

Secondly, there appears to be no set building size that does ‘pencil out’. Proponents always ask for one more story. If the zoning is two stories, they insist it won’t work, but three will. If the zoning is 3, they need 4. If the zoning is 4, they need 5, etc.

Thirdly, there are plenty of examples that contradict these statements: the Roe Building on the SW corner of 3rd and C St. (3 stories, mixed use); Central Park West across from Central Park (2-1/2 stories, residential); Pizza and Pints (1 story, commercial); the most recent Ace Hardware addition on 3rd St. (1 story, commercial); The Arbors on C St. (3 stories, mixed use); the building on the SW corner of G and 5th St. (3 stories, mixed use), etc.

Fourth: developers site the increase in material costs as part of their reasoning (the number 15% is suspiciously common and has been cited before and during the Pandemic). While material costs definitely increase over time, they certainly increase far less than residential rents. Material costs are also a one-time expense, while rental income continues - and increases - for the life of the building.

Continue reading "It Does Pencil Out" »

I-80 News: Two Projects on Causeway, DEIR Release, Woodland

Traffic Congregation not relevant in EIR

By Alan Hirsch

All the weeks News on I-80, as best I understand it – The Headlines:

  • Draft EIR out Monday(?) – YoloTD Board meeting  comments needed
  • Two projects on causeway at once!  Pavement Rehab is not the Widening!
  • Yolo TD Chair Takes on UC Davis Transportation Experts
  • Does anyone remember NISHI? Will City of Davis ignore full I-80 impact?
  • What to watch For in Draft EIR
  • Is Causeway bike trail maintenance being hostage to road improvements?
  • Does City of Woodland’s New Tech Park  Project turns it back VMT in EIR?
  • Woodland says road Congestion is a “social inconvenience” and not relevant in EIR.

Draft EIR out Monday(?)

YoloTD executive director Autumn Bernstein wrote Friday she expects DED (aka Draft EIR+ other doc) will be released before the September 11 Board Meeting..  YoloTD has had earlier draft(s) for months so they likely will have slide prepared (which are not in Agenda Packet. I note YoloTD staff and board is OK with chair picking early DEIR traffic study to prove we need a wider freeway...seeming to ignore Caltrans long patterns of Understating Induce Demand Effects in its EIR, per UC Davis ITS studies.  The Caltrans website still post a promise the EIR will be out in Winter of 2021.

How to Comment at YoloTD meeting Monday 6pm.

Call or write/ What to say:  express concern the Caltrans may be continuing to understate Induce Demand impact in their models- as UC Davis ITS studies has shown . Express concern not enough priority is not being put on climate change.   Ask YoloTD to hire an independent expert to review and comment on Caltrans EIR VMT studies due to past UC Davis studies that show the agency has underestimate it.  

PLACE:  YoloTD Board Room, 350 Industrial Way, Woodland, CA 95776

ZOOM & Live comments: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/81573305113?pwd=VmFiZWNtSzZleVVGRVpmQ0swWnhpZz09

PHONE to zoom; : (669) 900-6833 Webinar ID:  815 7330 5113 Passcode:  135087

AGENDA  & Packet: https://yolotd.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/2023-09-11_YoloTD-BoardAgendaPacket.pdf

EMAIL  in advance: [email protected]:

Phone comment in advance (will be transcribed/ not read or played):  530 402-2819

Continue reading "I-80 News: Two Projects on Causeway, DEIR Release, Woodland" »

Council set to mis-spend $400,000 on Arroyo Park

By Janet and Joe Krovoza

In another instance of the consent calendar shielding requests for large financial commitments, city staff are asking Council Tuesday to approve more than $409K to build a "shade/picnic structure" at Arroyo Park.

When the Recreation and Park Commission voted to recommend its construction back in April of 2022, the estimated cost was $257K. Public bids revealing a far different cost estimate were opened only last month.

Should we really be spending scarce public dollars on this scale on a new "amenity" such as this, especially when people can't even walk their dogs at Arroyo without risking injury to their pets from burrs and thistles ($300 to pull a thorn from my dog's foot), broken irrigation pipes take literally months to repair, and ruptured pathways make it difficult if not impossible for people with mobility issues to get around?

This strikes us as a lot of money for what is basically six picnic tables, two barbecues and a roof. At a minimum, such a major commitment (which will incur ongoing expenses, consume turf, and threaten adjacent trees) certainly deserves the "separate discussion" its inclusion on the consent calendar precludes.

Let's also put this in context. The park already has two shaded open-air group barbecue areas  They are used, but don't seem overly so or impacted. Maybe we could add a few more picnic tables, update the barbecues that were put in 20 years ago, and save ourselves something close to $400K?

In any event, if a cost estimate is 60 percent higher than what was represented to the Recreation and Park Commission, it ought to go back to them for review. And such an item certainly shouldn't go straight to the City Council on consent.

Recommendation to the Davis City Council for Changes in Davis’ Affordable Housing Ordinance

By The Sierra Club Yolano Group Management Committee

June 27, 2023


The Davis Affordable Housing Ordinance is now implemented on a temporary basis. Renewal with some modest changes is anticipated this evening.

However, the existing Affordable Housing Ordinance has provisions which we believe do not provide social justice, equity, and fairness in terms of meeting the needs of the City’s low-income population because it is biased toward the financial benefit of developers rather than maximizing the availability of affordable income housing in Davis.

Following please find our recommendations for immediate changes to update the City's temporary Affordable Housing Ordinance for ownership development projects. Additionally, we suggest the City embark on a concerted effort to further revise the ordinance to make it more equitable and understandable to developers and the general public for both ownership and rental development projects as more fully described below.

Recommendation for Immediate Change

1) Eliminate Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) as an acceptable alternative to provide on-site Affordable Housing - Prior to the immediate renewal of the Affordable Housing Ordinance, we strongly recommend completely eliminating the provision whereby ADUs are allowed as fulfillment for up to 50% of a For Sale project’s affordable housing obligations as currently exists.

2) Substantially increase in-lieu fees if chosen by a developer as an acceptable alternative to provide on-site or offsite Affordable Housing - We recommend that in-lieu fees be substantially increased so that it is no longer a financially preferable option for developers to pursue.  We endorse the staff recommendation to have an "in lieu fee to represent the full cost to build an actual unit."

Recommendations for Further Changes in the Very Near Future

3) Increase the minimum percentages of affordable housing required in most developments -

a) For rental multifamily developments and ownership detached housing, increase the standard 15% requirement for onsite or offsite affordable housing units to 25% (15% Very Low Income and 10% Low Income).

b) For ownership and rental mixed use and stacked-flat condominiums, increase the affordable housing requirement from 5% to 10% (5% Very Low Income and 5% Low Income) and eliminate the exemption for such units in the core area from the requirements of the Affordable Housing Ordinance.

4) Increase the minimum parcel size for land donated to alternatively meet affordable housing requirements to 4 acres – Experts in the field of non-profit low income housing project financing have stated that land donation requirements of lesser sizes are not feasible to finance given the realities of financing requirements and available tax credits.

We elaborate on each of these recommendations further below.


Continue reading "Recommendation to the Davis City Council for Changes in Davis’ Affordable Housing Ordinance" »

How Big Does Davis Need to Be? A Lot Smaller Than Growth Advocates Want You To Think

Criteria for inclusion: stand-alone college towns with a population less than 90K and a public university larger than 10K enrollment. Dataset may not include every example of this, but diligent efforts have been made to be as complete as possible. The orange line shows the best-fit linear regression model. Any place above the line has more than its projected population based on enrollment. (Added 7:30 PM, June 23, 2023)

By Rik Keller

Tim Keller (no relation) stated in the article “Guest Commentary: How Big Does Davis Need to Be? College Towns Analysis Part 3 – Long-Term Planning” that “In previous articles we saw evidence that suggests that a population of 120,000 might be entirely appropriate for a university town such as Davis: It is the size of Ann Arbor, Michigan (home of the University of Michigan), Champagne-Urbana (home of the University of Illinois), and Lafayette Indiana (home of Purdue). These are all well-regarded and well-funded research universities of very similar size and character to UC Davis.”

For reference, the 2022 population of Davis was 67,048, and Tim’s number is a huge 179% increase above that.

The so-called “evidence” that he based this on was a very incomplete, cherry-picked, and in some cases factually-inaccurate, list of 17 universities and host towns to compare to Davis.

He stated “The trend that emerges immediately is that the population of a “university town” such as ours tends to be about 3x the size of its student body.”

I have access to a more complete database of 40 public research universities with enrollment of at least 10,000 students (and up to 50,000), located in distinct host towns with populations less than 100,000. Tim ignored the vast majority of these. It turns out that the median population-to-student enrollment ratio of these 40 college towns is almost identical to that of Davis (Davis is slightly higher), which completely undermines his argument that Davis needs massive population growth to support current university enrollment.

If Tim hadn’t approached the exercise with an endpoint in mind—his preconceived notion that Davis need to be much larger than it is—he could have done a more credible analysis. His limited cherry-picked data had some basic facts wrong. The 2022 population of Corvallis was actually 60,956 (not 95,184), and the population-to-enrollment ratio is actually 1.73. And he drastically understated the enrollment for the University of Indiana at 35,253, when Fall 2022 enrollment was actually 47,005. The population-to-enrollment ratio for Bloomington is actually 1.68. With Davis at around 1.9, these two cases, as well as the median of 1.82 for the larger dataset, indicates that Davis has more population per enrollment than the norm.

I won’t get into a critique right now of Tim’s notion that a simplistic and crude comparison of population size to university enrollment should provide prescriptive guidance. But suffice it to say for now that a more through examination of the facts using a more complete dataset of college towns, points to the opposite conclusion that he had.

Should we be surprised that one of the people behind the “Sustainable Growth Yolo” organization is advocating for massive amounts of growth based on faulty analysis and assumptions? I’m not sure why they aren’t more honest and just delete the “sustainable” part.

Rik Keller is a university instructor in communication studies and social work. He has two decades of professional experience in demographic analysis and housing policy & analysis in Texas, Oregon, and California after obtaining his master’s degree in city planning. He is also a 15-year Davis resident.

Letter: City Council moves toward an exclusionary Davis

What a sad Council night for Davis this past Tuesday.

Both projects put forward by the city Tuesday night are by design planning for an exclusionary Davis.

Both projects short us on affordable housing for the very low income and low income. They both set aside the lowest number of units ever affordable to VLI and LI units of any proposed annexation.

When David Taormino asked me to do the affordable housing for Bretton Woods I said I would if he doubled the land required for affordable housing.

David provided land for 150 VLI and LI apartments instead of the required 68 apartments.

Standing at the Bretton Woods Booth at the Farmers Market every Wednesday and Saturday proved my point. His willingness to do more VLI and LI units that he needed to was the critical element in winning community approval in a Measure J election.

I and Delta Senior Housing Communities (DSHC) are no longer doing the affordable housing at Bretton Woods but that one generous act had great impact and won community support.

With 378 acres to build why is Village Farms skimping on an extra four acres for housing VLI and LI people.

All that is needed is 1% (3.78 acres) more of the 378 acres.

Due to their skimping on both projects I am opposed to them both.

I don’t want the Davis that is being sold to us. It is a Davis with fewer doors for the poor.

That Davis will be richer and whiter and shun the poor working people.

Join me in demanding more from each project to build a more welcoming and inclusionary Davis.

David J. Thompson

Comparison of Village Farms Davis and Shriners Proposed Developments

Comparison of Village Farms Davis and Shriners Proposed Developments

by Alan Pryor

I. Introduction – Recent online comments suggested a side-by-side comparison of the features of several currently proposed development projects subject to a Measure J vote would be useful to allow readers to do an “apples-to-apples” comparison of the salient features of the projects. As a result, I prepared such a spreadsheet showing what I considered to be the most important features of the Village Farms Davis and the Shriners development projects.

The following general categories were considered in this analysis;

  1. Total Project Size and Buildable Acres
  2. Number of Market Rate and Affordable Housing Units and Density
  3. Area of Open Space, Roadways, and Proposed Mitigation
  4. Distances to Important Local Destinations and Public Transit Access
  5. Infill Potential vs. Sprawl
  6. Other Project Benefits to the Community

Information for the analysis was derived from public sources and/or filings made by the project developers and follow-up inquiries when additional information was sought.


II. Results – The results of this effort is shown in the following spreadsheet:

Continue reading "Comparison of Village Farms Davis and Shriners Proposed Developments" »

Development Planning Priorities for Davis

Note: As part of item 8 on Tuesday's City Council agenda, the City will consider an evaluation rubric as a possible tool for consideration of review of peripheral proposals. The following is an alternative rubric proposal.

Proposed by Judy Corbett, Alan Hirsch, Roberta Millstein, Alan Pryor, Bob Schneider, David J. Thompson, Colin Walsh, Stephen Wheeler, James Zanetto, and Sierra Club Yolano Group

1. Develop infill opportunities first

  • City to hire consultant or add staff to actively pursue and encourage implementation of the Downtown Plan and other infill opportunities.
  • Council action to initiate redevelopment of city-owned parcels on Fifth Street and communicate with potential nonprofit partners.
  • Council to approach school district regarding redevelopment of 5th Street properties.
  • Upzone parcels along arterial corridors and in shopping centers to a minimum height for mixed-use development so as to use land efficiently in central locations.
  • 100% affordable housing overlay zoning like the Cambridge model to create new affordable housing redevelopment opportunities in already developed areas. By focusing zoning changes only for affordable housing it gives affordable housing developers the opportunity to initiate redevelopment projects without competing against more lucrative for profit market rate developments for development sites.
  • Reduce parking requirements for these sites, including considering car-free housing on certain sites, along with low parking maximums, to encourage redevelopment & affordability; a package of policies to reduce motor vehicle use such as on-site car-shares, market pricing, good bike parking, transit improvements, etc.

2. Initiate and complete General Plan or Specific Plans updates.  This will provide a comprehensive look at the future and ensure consideration of cumulative impacts including traffic, water, wastewater and other infrastructure. A General Plan is preferred but an option might be a Specific Plan for the Northeast and /or Northwest areas. Any new planning process should be kept short and efficient so as to avoid the lengthy and expensive experiences of many past plans.

3. Peripheral development standards

Continue reading "Development Planning Priorities for Davis" »

Housing SB423 and SB4 California Senate

By David J. Thompson

Passage of SB 423 will make “Builders Remedy” permanent for cities not having an approved housing element. Bill neglects building housing for very low income households.

Two bills relating to housing and requirements affordable housing have been sent to the Senate Floor. Because Davis has not had its housing element approved by the State of California, our city is now open to “Builders Remedy”. SB 423 makes permanent that any housing can be built as long as it has 20% of the units for low income households. Under SB 423 most city oversight is removed.

My critique of these two bills (SB423 and SB4 Weiner) is that they do nothing (as far as I can tell) to provide housing for the most in need group of very low income households (VLI) in our city. They do however; push for units for low income households (LI) and that might be as much as the housing advocates could lobby for in these two bills.

If these low income units are the only ones built then a city will continue to not meet its VLI targets. Does that mean therefore most housing elements will be found out of compliance? And therefore, the builders remedy will be the only law of the land? I have a call into the Senate to pose this question. (This paragraph added today)

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Continued concerns regarding the Village Farms site including toxics, traffic, floodplain, unaffordable housing, unsafe bike/pedestrian access, and infrastructure costs issues

By Eileen M. Samitz and Pamela S. Nieberg

There can be no assumption that the Village Farms site is safe for development. It is surprising and disappointing to see a recent article attempting to dismiss the significant concerns that have been raised in the past and recently regarding toxics contamination from the former City landfill site and the former City sewage treatment plant which are immediately adjacent (north-east) to the Village Farms property.


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City Council is Jeopardizing their Proposed Tax Measure on the November 2024 Ballot by Withholding a Vote on New Peripheral Residential Development

By Alan Pryor

The Davis City Council recently decided at their April 4, 2023 meeting that they would explore all options for putting a new general tax measure on the November 2024 ballot while declining to place a peripheral housing project on the same ballot. The Council’s stated reasons are that they did not believe Staff had the “bandwidth” to process both ballot measures simultaneously and that they feared the controversy of placing a peripheral ballot measure on the same ballot as their preferred general tax measure ballot may harm the tax measure’s chances of success.

And at last Tuesday night's Council meeting they agreed to relegate all future peripheral Measure J/R/D housing ballot measure to special elections over at least the next few years. I believe this decision was shortsighted and made without a complete understanding of what motivates Davis voters to approve or disapprove of tax measures in Davis.

Aside from the obvious charge that the City is favoring adding new revenue to their coffers over providing needed housing in the community (after standing on their soap boxes and proclaiming the dire need for housing over and over again in the past), this decision displays a misunderstanding of the realities of Davis electoral politics and this lack of awareness may presage the failure of both the expected November 2024 general tax measure AND any new peripheral housing ballot measure on later special election ballots.

Let me explain.

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Recommendation to the Social Services Commission for Changes in Davis’ Affordable Housing Ordinance

The following was emailed as an attachment to the Social Services Commission yesterday for their meeting this evening (7 PM, Monday May 15) where they will be taking up proposed changes to Davis's Affordable Housing Ordinance.

by Roberta Millstein and Alan Pryor



The Davis Affordable Housing Ordinance (available at https://library.qcode.us/lib/davis_ca/pub/municipal_code/item/chapter_18-article_18_05?view=all) is now implemented on a temporary basis to account for changes in state law requiring economic justification if minimum affordable housing requirements for new projects exceed 15% of total housing units.  The current temporary ordinance is scheduled to expire on June 30, 2023, with proposed changes under consideration by the Social Services Commission at its May 13, 2023 meeting.

However, even with these proposed changes, the existing Affordable Housing Ordinance has provisions which we believe do not provide social justice, equity, and fairness in terms of meeting the needs of the City’s low-income population because it is biased toward the financial benefit of developers rather than maximizing the availability of affordable income housing in Davis.

We recommend the following changes to the temporary ordinance if it is renewed by the sunset date of June 30, 2023 and to a revised permanent ordinance.

  1. Eliminate ADUs as an acceptable alternative to provide on-site Affordable Housing - We recommend that Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) be completely eliminated as a way for developers to avoid constructing real Affordable Housing.

  2. Substantially increase in-lieu fees if chosen by a developer as an acceptable alternative to provide on-site Affordable Housing - We recommend that in-lieu fees be substantially increased so that it is no longer a financially preferable option for developers to pursue. 

We elaborate on each of these recommendations further below.

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