Entries categorized "Land use"

How much housing is being built in Davis?

The answers might surprise you.

Sterling-project-under-construction
Sterling project, 2100 5th St, under construction (611 beds)

 By Roberta Millstein

Recently on NextDoor and elsewhere, Davisites have been disagreeing about whether Davis is building enough housing or whether it needs more.  The discussions have become particularly relevant in light of two potentially large projects: the University Commons project (264 residential units / 894 beds) and the so-called Aggie Research Campus (ARC), which proposes 850 units as part of the larger proposal for a massive 200 acre business park outside of Mace Curve.

But to answer the question of whether we have enough housing or not, Davisites need to know how much is in the pipeline.  I suspect that most Davisites don’t know the answer to that question, even if they’ve been paying attention.  This article is the result of my attempt to figure out the answer. 

If you just want the answers I calculated, here they are: the housing that is now in the pipeline will accommodate more than 10,000 additional people in the City and more than 20,000 additional people in the City and UC Davis combined.  The details of those answers are below.

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Wiener’s housing deregulation bill is back!

It's an unfunded mandate for an unproven assumption about affordable housing

48hillsyimbywiener
Sen. Scott Wiener, shown here with Yimby leader Laura Foote Clark, says he thinks people who fear displacement from market-rate housing are “quacks.” Photo credit: 48hills

By Tim Redmond

State Sen. Scott Wiener will hold a press conference and rally in Oakland Tuesday/7 to announce that he’s re-introducing a new version of his housing deregulation bill, SB 50. It will need to get through committee and off the Senate floor this month.

Yes, SB 50 is back– with some amendments, and the current opposition of the San Francisco Board of Supes (which means the city’s official position on the bill is Oppose).

The East Bay Times calls it a Zoning Reform Bill, but it’s much more than that. It’s a measure that, in essence, would force California cities to rely even more on the private sector to address the housing crisis.

It does not offer a penny of state money for affordable housing. It doesn’t do anything to mandate that cities limit office development until they have adequate housing for the workforce. It starts and ends with the assumption – unproven and by some accounts just wrong– that greater density will lead to lower housing prices.

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Bats Ignored in Environmental Review for Mace Business Park

2019-12-23_17-43-09Will new ARC SEIR do better?

This letter was sent to Assistant City Manager Ash Feeney on December 23, 2019.


Dear Mr. Feeney,

I am writing to draw your attention to a significant omission in the Mace Ranch Innovation Center Project Final Environmental Impact Report dated January 2016. At no place in the FEIR is there any consideration for Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis), or for Hoary bats (Lasiurus cinereus).

Just over 2 miles from the MRIC/ARC site is “One of the largest seasonal Mexican free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis) colonies in California. An estimated 250,000 individuals strong.” (https://baynature.org/2013/07/25/yolo-bats/). This colony roosts under the Yolo Causeway bridge and has been well documented in the Davis Enterprise and the Sacramento Bee (https://www.davisenterprise.com/community/see-bats-at-the-causeway/, https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/environment/article31141712.html).

I have personally observed bats flying over the MRIC/ARC site during summer months, but there is no mention of bats in the FEIR, or any of the underlying documentation.

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The new U-Mall proposal – a monolithic mega-dorm fraught with problems

Davis needs an expanded retail project at U-Mall, not another mega-dorm

By Eileen M. Samitz

U Mall Fig 3-8

Project description

The owner of University Mall, Brixmor Property Group, has proposed a renovation of this important community shopping center that opened in 1966. The effort would demolish 90,563 sq. ft. of the existing University Mall building and replace it with a mixed-use development comprised of 136,800 sq. ft. of retail space, 264 multi-family housing units, and a 3-level, 246,000 sq. ft. parking structure.  The existing 13,200 sq. ft. Trader Joe’s store would remain, resulting in a shopping center with 150,000 sq. ft. of retail space. The ARCO service station on the southeast corner of the site is not part of the project. 

This “University Commons” project would total 795,300 sq. ft., meaning the retail space would occupy just 17% of the building area. The single greatest use of space would be the residential area, comprising 412,500 sq. ft., or almost 52%.  Parking would consume 246,000 sq. ft., or almost 31%.  Brixmor says the residential units could be rented by anyone, but concedes that most of the apartments will be occupied by students.  In other words, the project would become an ultra-dense residential project with window dressing retail that would likely focus on being student-serving, rather than the original intent of having businesses that serve the entire Davis community.

Continue reading "The new U-Mall proposal – a monolithic mega-dorm fraught with problems" »


ARC Project Recommended Sustainability Features

Recommended Project Alternatives for the Supplemental Environmental Impact Report

Rough-ARCmap-corrected-sustainabilityThe following comments were submitted to the City by The Aggie Research Center Working Group, an ad hoc committee of interested Davis environmentalists with experience in evaluating land use and planning issues in Davis, on December 7. The Group has collaboratively developed this set of recommended sustainability features for the project and submitted them to the developer in November, 2019. With his knowledge, these recommendations are now formally submitted as scoping comments to the supplemental EIR for the purposes of evaluating desirable sustainability alternatives for the project

Others who wish to submit their own written scoping comments can do so via the City of Davis Community Development and Sustainability Department, 23 Russell Boulevard, Suite 2 Davis, CA 95616 Attn: Sherri Metzker, Principal Planner or via electronic mail to smetzker@cityofdavis.org up until Monday, December 9, 2019 at 5:00 PM.

~~~

I. SUSTAINABILITY PLAN

Functional Goal: Develop and implement a comprehensive Sustainability Plan and ensure sustainability commitments made in the Plan are embodied in the subsequent Development Agreement and implemented and maintained for life of project.

  1. Mandatory, measurable and enforceable.

  2. Equivalent in scope and detail to Nishi.

Continue reading "ARC Project Recommended Sustainability Features" »


Business park outside of Mace curve: More environmental review

Questions about traffic, area impacts, climate change

Rough-ARCmap-corrected-traffic-climateThe following comments were submitted by Roberta Millstein to the City of Davis. This is part 2 of 2; other comments submitted by Millstein and posted earlier addressed land use, parks/greenways and open space.  These comments serve as recommendations as to the scope and content of the supplemental environmental impact report (EIR) for the "Aggie Research Campus," a proposed massive ~200 acre business park on prime farmland outside the Mace curve, focusing on the changes in project and conditions from the previous Mace Ranch Innovation Center (MRIC) proposal.

Others who wish to submit their own written scoping comments can do so via the City of Davis Community Development and Sustainability Department, 23 Russell Boulevard, Suite 2 Davis, CA 95616 Attn: Sherri Metzker, Principal Planner or via electronic mail to smetzker@cityofdavis.org up until Monday, December 9, 2019 at 5:00 PM.

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The following questions need to be addressed by the Supplemental EIR for the “Aggie Research Campus” (please note that wherever I say “impacts” I mean “environmental impacts”):

Continue reading "Business park outside of Mace curve: More environmental review " »


Business park outside of Mace curve: environmental review

Rough-ARCmap-corrected-landuseQuestions about land use, parks/greenways and open space

The following comments were submitted by Roberta Millstein to the City of Davis today. This is part 1 of 2; other comments submitted by Millstein to be posted later [edit: see here] will address traffic/transportation, area impacts, and climate change impacts/interactions.  These comments serve as recommendations as to the scope and content of the supplemental environmental impact report (EIR) for the "Aggie Research Campus," a proposed massive ~200 acre business park on prime farmland outside the Mace curve, focusing on the changes in project and conditions from the previous Mace Ranch Innovation Center (MRIC) proposal.

Others who wish to submit their own written scoping comments can do so via the City of Davis Community Development and Sustainability Department, 23 Russell Boulevard, Suite 2 Davis, CA 95616 Attn: Sherri Metzker, Principal Planner or via electronic mail to smetzker@cityofdavis.org up until Monday, December 9, 2019 at 5:00 PM.

~~~~

The following questions need to be addressed by the Supplemental EIR for the “Aggie Research Campus” (please note that wherever I say “impacts” I mean “environmental impacts”):

Continue reading "Business park outside of Mace curve: environmental review " »


Business Park Developer Accused of Providing Misinformation

Lawyer
Attorney representing the business park defends a questionable table at the EIR scoping meeting.

Last minute release questioned

Attorney's for the Massive Mace Business Park dubbed "ARC" provided the City of Davis with a letter and tables in preparation for the EIR scoping yesterday. The City posted these documents to the City Website and emailed them to select individuals. Unfortunately these documents have come under scrutiny for possibly containing misinformation.

The City of Davis did not vet the information before releasing it to the public and injecting it into the EIR process. In the words of City Manager Mike Webb, "These documents were submitted by the applicant and therefore are appropriate to posted to the city web site as such."

When asked if the "City has opened itself up to litigation by sending false and misleading information out in advance of tonight’s meeting," Webb stated, "The City, as you know, does not edit documents that are submitted by the applicant. "

The letter below details some of the problems with the applicant's last minute release:

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University Commons: Public Meeting and Environmental Review

Public comments on Draft Environmental Impact Report accepted through Dec 20

University-commons-site-plan
Brixmor Property Group, University Commons Illustrative Site Plan

(From press release) The City of Davis Planning Commission will conduct a public meeting on the University Commons Project Draft EIR, as described below, at a meeting beginning at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 11, 2019 in the Community Chambers, City Offices, 23 Russell Boulevard, Davis, California. Please contact the Department of Community Development and Sustainability for the approximate time this item will be heard.

Project Description:

The Planning Commission is scheduled to review the Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that has been prepared for the University Commons Project located at 737-885 Russell Boulevard, known as University Mall. The proposed project would demolish approximately 90,653 square feet of the existing University Mall building to create a new mixed-use development. Buildout of the proposed project would result in the addition of 264 new multi-family residential units and approximately 136,800 square feet of retail space, not including the existing Trader Joe’s building, which would be retained as-is. The proposed 264 multi-family residential units would include a mix of unit types with a total of 622 bedrooms and 894 beds. The ARCO gas station is not part of the proposed project or project site and would also remain unchanged.

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Post-Carbon Potluck & Mace business park environmental review

Rough-ARCmap-corrected copyTwo important events at almost identical times, but synergy possible

By Roberta Millstein

Attend a climate crisis potluck or give comment on the scope of an environmental review?  Both?

The first event: the Davis Post-Carbon Association (DPCA) is having a potluck this Monday, Dec 2 in the Davis Library: Blanchard Room 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. You can meet fellow residents who are taking action and learn how you can join the effort!

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Massive Mace business park comment period extended

Scope of environmental review is in play.

Buow-says-hunhBy Roberta Millstein, Colin Walsh, and Rik Keller

The period for commenting on the scope of the environmental review of the Mace business park, dubbed “Aggie Research Campus” (formerly Mace Ranch Innovation Center, or MRIC), a proposal to build a ~200 acre project on prime farmland outside the Mace curve, has been extended until December 9.  

Edit added Wed, 9 AM: We have learned from Ashley Feeney, Assistant City manager, that there is another change to the previously scheduled meeting Monday Dec 2 meeting, discussed below.  Instead of being a pure open house, "the planning consultant will be making a brief presentation at the beginning [of the] meeting on Monday further explaining the supplemental EIR scope and process. They will be available to explain process and answer questions throughout the meeting as well. The applicant will also have representatives there to answer questions about the project."

Here is some of the backstory and explanation about the comment process.

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Thursday's Caltrans Workshop Key to Davis Growth and Climate Future

IMG_6919By Alan Hirsch

On Thursday Caltrans will hold a workshop on the future of the I-80 corridor, Davis’s Connection to the rest of the World.  It will be in the Blanchard room of the Library at 6:30pm.

Caltrans will be considering different options to deal with transportation demand in this corridor.

Will they just address only thru traffic, i.e. Tahoe Snowbirds...or real needs of people who live in the corridor, for example transit needs that can’t be met by slow, limited stop and expensive Capitol Corridor Train service or the anemic and unreliable Yolobus service?

If you care about traffic on Mace Blvd...or how we can have accommodate economic growth in Davis -- like the proposed 12,000 (!!!)  trip a day Aggie business park on Mace curve  -- this is the meeting to go to.

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Business park outside of Mace curve takes another step

Notice of Scoping Meeting and Preparation of a Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR)

RoughtARCmap-corrected
Rough map showing approximate outline of proposed business park - Corrected from earlier image, which did not show full scale of project

What follows is the official notice of a meeting that you can attend to give input on the Supplemental EIR on the so-called "Aggie Research Campus," formerly named "Mace Ranch Innovation Center."  The project would include not only offices and R&D space, but also housing and a hotel, with ~4300 parking spaces total.

Information on the project can be found on the City of Davis's website, here.

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Some important clarifications on EIR updates for the ARC

Other issues unfortunately went unaddressed

ARC-location-overviewBy Roberta Millstein

At Tuesday's City Council meeting, an item concerning updating the old Mace Ranch Innovation Center (MRIC) Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the new Aggie Research Campus (ARC) proposal was pulled from the Consent Calendar, allowing for staff and Council discussion of the issue in addition to public comment.

Five commenters addressed the item, including three commenters whose prepared comments appear in a sister article to this one.  Together, these comments made clear why an issue this substantive should never have been on the Consent Calendar in the first place, which is meant for uncontroversial issues that don’t require discussion.

Interestingly, in stark contrast to the last meeting where ARC was on the Consent Calendar, there were no student speakers in support of the project, corroborating the appearance that the previous speakers were coordinated and arranged.

Issues raised included:

Continue reading "Some important clarifications on EIR updates for the ARC" »


Three comments concerning updates to the ARC EIR

Three-commenters

Many concerns raised about the proposed environmental analysis, timeline, and more

At Tuesday's City Council meeting, an item concerning updating the old Mace Ranch Innovation Center (MRIC) Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the new Aggie Research Campus (ARC) proposal was pulled from the Consent Calendar, allowing for staff and Council discussion of the issue in addition to public comment. 

However, it was a very packed agenda, and so Mayor Lee limited comment time for all citizen speakers on all items to 2 minutes rather than the usual 3.  What follows are the prepared comments from Roberta Millstein, Colin Walsh, and Rik Keller, which are more extensive than the actual comments that they had time to present.  (The City Council's response to these comments is described in a subsequent article).

Continue reading "Three comments concerning updates to the ARC EIR" »


City smuggles ARC EIR decision onto Tuesday’s Consent Calendar

Transportation consultant believes ARC may result in new significant impacts or a substantial increase in the severity of significant impacts.

ARC-location-overviewBy Roberta Millstein

After the controversy over the approval of the Mace Ranch Innovation Center (MRIC) Environmental Impact Report (EIR) back in February 2017, and after having to pull the most recent son-of-MRIC item from the Consent Calendar (the project now misleadingly dubbed “Aggie Research Campus” or ARC), you would think that the City Council would have learned its lesson not to try to smuggle important items on the Consent Calendar, where items are meant to be uncontroversial and passed unanimously without any staff presentation or discussion from Council or citizens.

If you thought that, as I did, you were mistaken.

Readers may recall that the ARC is a proposal for a ~200 acre business park with housing and hotel to be built outside Mace curve on prime farmland.  When the City Council approved the EIR, they knew it was very possible, even likely, that updates to the EIR would be needed in light of changes to the project or changes to relevant conditions, such as traffic.  Now that the City is moving forward with evaluating the new ARC proposal, the time has come to revisit the EIR.

Staff is recommending that the Council authorize the City Manager to enter into a contract with Raney Planning & Management, Inc. to prepare a Supplemental EIR and to approve a budget for that purpose, to be paid by the applicant.  However, there are at least three potential concerns with this recommendation.

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Homeless "Respite Center" Proposed by School Bike Route Receives Pushback

Picture3By Colin Walsh

An ad hoc group of Davis residents have started a Change.org petition opposing the location of the Homeless Respite Center. The new Homeless center is proposed for adjacent to the Dave Pelz Overpass near second street. Those opposing the location seem to clearly state that they support services for the homeless like this project, but not next to a thoroughfare for school children on bikes.

This Item was moved forward by the Davis City Council on July 30, 2019. The project would contain “tough shed” type buildings and likely a designated camping area. It is unclear if there will be water or sewer services or what staffing might be provided by the City.

In the staff report, "staff estimates that the day shelter could accommodate up to 40 individuals at one time and the overnight shelter could sleep up to 15 individuals" but with the addition of a camping area as suggested by council member Frerichs the site may be able to accommodate more.

When the Council addressed this issue on July 30th 2019, the staff omitted from their report and presentation to council that the Dave Pelz overcrossing was a safe route to school. There is no part of the staff report that addresses the impact of a homeless encampment on the bike and pedestrian through-way.

This is the table of advantages and disadvantages from the July 30, 2019 Davis City staff report:
Respite-Center-FTable 4.pdf
This very expensive overcrossing was built to better connect South Davis and East Davis, especially to provide a bikeable route to school for South Davis Junior High Kids.

The petition can be signed at  https://www.change.org/p/davis-city-council-no-homeless-shelter-for-schoolchildren-s-safety

The petition reads as follows:

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Heads up on more City housing discussions

By Roberta Millstein

This is just a brief post to let Davisites know about some upcoming housing-related discussions.  At 6 PM on Tuesday (Oct 22) just prior to the regular Council meeting in the Community Chambers, there will be a City Council and Planning Commission Joint Discussion.  The two planned topics of discussion are:

  • Should there be policy preference for work force housing over student-oriented housing?
  • What is the future direction for affordable housing in Davis, including at risk housing, and with the nature of the interim housing policy, what should be enforced?

Other housing-related items will be covered during the regular Council meeting.

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City-County-UCD 2X2X2 “Town Hall” meeting Thursday Oct. 17th 6:30pm -8pm at Genome Center on UCD campus

This important semi-annual meeting is for updates from the City, County and UCD regarding UCD housing needs and impacts.

Genome-center
(Click to enlarge)

By Eileen Samitz

In case you are one of many who are not aware of this important semi-annual “Town Hall” meeting, there will be a City-County-UCD 2X2X2 meeting tomorrow Thursday, Oct. 17th at the Genome Center on the UCD campus in the first-floor auditorium. One wonders why this community meeting is not more conveniently located in the City as was publicly requested early on; the map attached explains where the Genome Center is. To get to it take Hutchinson Drive and turn south on Health Sciences Drive which will lead to a parking lot (see map above).

Since UCD is imposing enormous housing needs on Davis these meetings for updates are only twice a year so this is an important meeting to attend to give input particularly about the slow progress of any additional on-campus housing being produced and the overall deficiency of how much on-campus housing is being planned. For citizens concerned about the impacts on Davis due to UCD’s lack of on-campus housing for its rapidly growing student population, please attend. Anyone wishing to testify will be given 3 minutes to testify. The agenda can be viewed at:

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The current Davis General Plan opposes Sustainable Response to Climate Change

Note: Wednesday, the Davis League of Women Voters will host a presentation by Davis Deputy City Manager Kelly Stachowicz on The General Plan "What Is It and Why Do We Care!", 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM, 3300 Cowell Blvd

By Jon Li

Davis’ General Plan expired in 2015, like old milk in the back of the refrigerator.

The current 2002 Davis General Plan (Housing element update 2010-15) is an update of the 1974 Plan.  That plan was once ecologically innovative but the California Building Code superseded Davis’ code in 1990.

            The 1987 General Plan had so little public participation that it was quickly out of date.   In 1993-4, 16 Davis committees worked on policies for a new general plan in such areas as youth, seniors, art, social services, community computer networks and economic development, as well as the state mandated plan elements like housing, transportation infrastructure, public safety and open space.

            Any innovation died there.  A group of anti-growth activists prolonged the process several years, and buried the innovation in the back of the plan.  The only thing that matters about the current Davis General Plan is kill any economic development because it might cause change.

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