Sunday Commentary: Trackside Debate Illustrates Need for CASP Update

New Trackside schematic

I have mixed feelings on the need to do a new General Plan.  Or at least a full new one.  An update of the Core Area Specific Plan (CASP) with updates on sustainability goals might be sufficient.  But one thing is very clear, we need to do a new Core Area Specific Plan and we probably should at least have the framework for building heights in the core before we decide on Trackside.

The issue of Trackside and discussions that we had in the comment section have cemented my belief that we need to work out the policy here first before we approve the specific project.

So again, let me explain that this is not an argument for or against Trackside itself.  There are a lot of other considerations at work and I think the neighbors have a number of valid concerns, especially those on the southwest portion of I Street just north of 3rd Street who will have their views fundamentally altered by the project.

When Trackside proposed a six-story building, it was an easy call to oppose it as too large for the spot.  On the other hand, I believe that a two-story building is too small.  As some have pointed out, given all the requirements we put on development, given land costs and construction costs, a two-story building is simply not viable.

Moreover, from a philosophical standpoint, I think putting a two-story building anywhere near the center of town is inefficient land use.

Does that mean that a four-story building is just right?  In principle, perhaps so.  In practice, in this specific case, I’m not ready to weigh in.

This is where I think we need guidance from the city’s planning documents.  And given that the current Core Area Specific Plan was adopted in November 1996 (two months after I moved to Davis), I think it is time for a full update.

For example, it states, “Maximum building height shall be reviewed as it applies to the building’s density and relationship to adjacent structures. This has typically been restricted to three stories in the Core Area. In the Downtown Core (Retail Stores) area, the first floor of buildings shall be pedestrian oriented. On-site parking shall not be placed in front of buildings along sidewalks; there should be unbroken pedestrian walks and short walking distances between uses.”

Moreover, I think that one key to the downtown area is to put five- or six-story vertical mixed-use buildings where there are currently mostly one- and two-story buildings.  That would allow for the ground level to be devoted to retail and pedestrian foot traffic, office space on the second floor, and then some residential uses on the upper floors.

In the absence of Redevelopment Agency (RDA) money, it is difficult to see how this will take place in any sort of rapid fashion, but rather it will likely be an evolutionary process that occurs over the next 20 to even 50 years.

Given the reluctance of citizens, including myself, to want to develop on the periphery, densification in the downtown area makes the most sense to meet both our commercial and housing needs.

If we set the downtown at 5 or 6 stories, that means, if we have a transition area, it will need to be along the periphery of the downtown that slowly transitions into the neighborhoods.

Trackside runs to the east of the railroad tracks but to the west of the residential neighborhood, which, it seems to me, puts it as a key transition area.

If you go up to six stories in the downtown, then it makes little sense to have a two-story Trackside.  On the other hand, the neighbors can argue that a four-story building across the alley from one- and two-story homes might not make much sense either.

The residents in Old East Davis bring up important points.  But to me they illuminate why we need to update the Core Area Specific Plan to lay guidance.

I agree completely with the view that, over the last few years, the downtown has built some buildings that are only a few stories in height, which again is a waste of precious land space in a key area.

Professor Emeritus John Lofland in his blog post pointed out a few days ago that “the brouhaha over Trackside is in part a result of an historical error appearing on pages 74 and 75 of the Davis Downtown and Traditional Neighborhood Design Guidelines.”

Trackside proponents, Professor Lofland notes, “point to the historical fact that the Davisville north-south railroad corridor development was of larger scale than the areas to the east and west. The scale of the proposed Trackside building is therefore simply a continuation of the large scale of the Downtown Rail Corridor that was created at the founding of Davis and that persisted until not very long ago. Trackside is consistent with, and is in the spirit of, that history, the argument goes.”

On the other hand, the opposition, he writes, sees this as calling for “a transition zone from downtown, from taller buildings to smaller residences . . . .”

He argues here that the opponents read the document correctly as a “transition” is implied in the title.

Professor Lofland then notes that he was a participant in the guidelines back in 2000, and that “no one, including especially me, was especially aware of (and/or appreciated the significance of) the hefty scale of structures along the tracks from the start of Davisville.

“The physical fact is that at the time the Guidelines were developed in the year 2000 period, evidence of that Rail Corridor’s former scale was not obvious.”

He concludes, “It follows that the Trackside Opponents are correct in using the Guidelines to support their opposition and to argue for ‘transition.’ But their advocacy is based on an historical error.”

While fascinating, where does that get us now nearly two decades later?  Again, I think it gets us to the need to set the maximum height in the core area, which I would argue should be five to six stories, and that would put the height in the transition area at three to four stories.

That probably means that Trackside will have to go down to three stories to gain approval, although four stories might not be unreasonable.

Is that enough for the neighborhood?  I don’t know.  Does that pencil out for the developer?  I’m not sure about that either.

But what I am sure about is that we should not set the height of Trackside until we figure out what the core area looks like.

—David M. Greenwald reporting



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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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67 thoughts on “Sunday Commentary: Trackside Debate Illustrates Need for CASP Update”

  1. Alan Miller

     we probably should at least have the framework for building heights in the core before we decide on Trackside . . . we should not set the height of Trackside until we figure out what the core area looks like.

    Amen brother Greenwald, amen.

    Professor Emeritus John Lofland . . . 

    A reminder that “emeritus” is a fancy word for “former” or “has been”.

    no one, including especially me, was especially aware of . . .

    So we are taking the word of a self-declared expert on Davis history who admits they weren’t even aware there were industrial buildings along the railroad tracks in the early part of the 20th century?

    “The physical fact is that at the time the Guidelines were developed in the year 2000 period, evidence of that Rail Corridor’s former scale was not obvious.”

    Yeah, in 2000 — and the same is true well over a half century ago.  So, we are supposed to base building mass on a couple of ghost buildings only a handful of folks in town ever saw?  What’s more, the historical height sited by the developers is a former water tank at the site, and water tanks don’t have people in them looking down on your backyard.

    He concludes, “It follows that the Trackside Opponents are correct in using the Guidelines to support their opposition and to argue for “transition.” But their advocacy is based on an historical error.”

    That’s like arguing that the rule and borders of Israel/Palestine can be definitively concluded by looking at who was there at some point in the past.  And somehow that argument always falls to the will of whomever is making the argument, while the opposition declare a “historical error” . . .  as with every other land dispute on Earth.  A glaring logic fail for a history professor.

    1. Howard P

      Where do you believe the elevated, redwood water tank/tower was, Alan?  And yes, that is a semi-trick question… but be aware, I was present when the tank I believe is referred to was torn down…

      And, even before it was dismantled, probably 95% (conservative #) of Davis folk didn’t even know it existed!  Folk using the height of that tank as a ‘precedent’ are so full of material that they probably have dark brown or black eyes.

      Am not questioning your main points… agree with most… consider my question Sunday trivia, not a refutation…

       

      1. Alan Miller

        Where do you believe the elevated, redwood water tank/tower was, Alan?  And yes, that is a semi-trick question…

        I believe it was at the northeast end of the property if memory serves, but I don’t have a photo in front.  What’s the trick?

        And, even before it was dismantled, probably 95% (conservative #) of Davis folk didn’t even know it existed!

        Was it a magic, invisible, water tower?

        Folk using the height of that tank as a ‘precedent’ are so full of material that they probably have dark brown or black eyes.

        While I understand what you are saying, careful:  that could be misinterpreted as racist ’round these parts.

        Am not questioning your main points… agree with most…

        I will vocalize a ‘Hallelujah’ !

    2. David Greenwald

      Alan – the real question is if you believe the core area could go to 5 or 6 stories, why do you think 3 or 4 is inappropriate for Trackside?

      1. Alan Miller

        why do you think 3 or 4 is inappropriate for Trackside?

        Those (numbers) are two very different questions, and are not literal in their interpretation only as numbers, but in details.

        One need only look at the ridiculous non-transition zones in some cities between new construction and a historic district to see that four stories to one-story is not ‘smooth’.  There is no ‘missing middle’.  Such a poor example exists in Fullerton, CA.  There is no transition.  It’s just a wall.

    3. Jim Frame

      What’s more, the historical height sited by the developers is a former water tank at the site, and water tanks don’t have people in them looking down on your backyard.

      As a point of reference, consider that Jim Kidd’s Mission Residences project on B Street is 4 stories and looks right down into Maynard’s back yard.

      I’m agnostic regarding the current Trackside proposal, but I thought the council erred in approving Mission Residences in its final form.

       

      1. Howard P

        The former water tank was NOT at that site (damn, gave away a hint to a trivia question, posed to Alan…)

        Suspect you know where it was, Jim…

      2. Alan Miller

        As a point of reference, consider that Jim Kidd’s Mission Residences project on B Street is 4 stories and looks right down into Maynard’s back yard.

        Yes it does.  Maynard showed a picture of the “wall of windows” that would overlook his backyard.

        I’m agnostic regarding the current Trackside proposal, but I thought the council erred in approving Mission Residences in its final form.

        I agree.

  2. Mark West

    Should the City wait for the new CASP before making a determination on the Trackside proposal? The simple answer is no because the project should be evaluated based on the regulations in place at the time the proposal was submitted. We cannot shut down processing of new projects while waiting for a visioning process that may take years to complete. That would be foolish, and likely create significant civil and legal liability for the City.

    Like it or not, this project will be evaluated using our current process, with the final determination made by the vote of the CC majority. I’m not going to predict how the CC will vote on the current proposal, but I will stand by my prediction that the project that ultimately is built on the site will be at least four stories tall.

     

    1. Ron

      Mark:  “I’m not going to predict how the CC will vote on the current proposal, but I will stand by my prediction that the project that ultimately is built on the site will be at least four stories tall.”

      If developers can’t find a way to make 3 stories work, perhaps the site will simply remain “as is”.  That’s o.k. with me.  I prefer providing an opportunity to keep the existing businesses right where they are, anyway. (I’m assuming that at least some of them would “disappear” – at least from that location, if the site is redeveloped and rents are subsequently increased.)

      “Problem” solved.

      1. Howard P

        If 3 is OK with you, why not 4?  If the rest of downtown goes 5-6, 4 looks like an appropriate ‘transition #’.  Existing SF can be 2.

        2-4-6… works for me…

        And the public alley IS the logical ‘limit line’… not the tracks…

        1. Ron

          Well, first of all – I’m not sure if the rest of downtown will (or should) go to 5-6 stories.  And, even if it does, that doesn’t mean that “transition areas” should be 4 stories.

          Regarding the difference between 3 and 4 stories, this is obviously significant to the existing residents who live adjacent and nearby to the site.  There’s no other buildings in that area which are 4 stories tall.  (Some are one-floor houses.) Do you honestly not see the significance, for the existing residents? Are you that insensitive? (I think I already know the answer, to that.)

          Regarding the “logical” limit line – I couldn’t disagree more. The railroad tracks are the logical delineation line between downtown and beyond.

           

        2. Mark West

          “Regarding the “logical” limit line – I couldn’t disagree more. The railroad tracks are the logical delineation line between downtown and beyond.”

          The community folks who wrote the GP and CASP disagree with your assessment. The delineation line is at the alleyway. West of the alley is zoned for commercial properties, residential to the East. It has been like that for multiple decades.

        3. Ron

          Mark:  “The community folks who wrote the GP and CASP disagree with your assessment.”

          The other day, several commenters asked me if the GP/CASP “should” be updated.  I did not answer, at the time.  Perhaps you’ve just provided at least some (limited) justification. (However, your response only suggests a delineation between commercial and residential. Therefore, perhaps an argument can be made that the “replacement” building be commercial-only.) I suspect that this wouldn’t be too interesting, to the owners/developers of that site.

        4. Ron

          That is, “commercial-only”, as it is now. Do you think that would be “popular”, with the owners/developers? (You know – to satisfy the market regarding the “enormous” need for commercial space? All those imaginary “start-ups”, which simply can’t find a space?) 🙂

          (Never mind the existing businesses that would likely be displaced.)

        5. Mark West

          “Therefore, perhaps an argument can be made that the “replacement” building be commercial-only.)”

          You might want to read the documents that you are commenting on. Mixed-use (residential over commercial) is the preferred approach to redevelopment in the core. Current City policy. The Trackside parcel is defined as part of the core and is zoned for mixed use.

        6. Ron

          Mark:  We were talking about two things.  One, the current use of the space.  The other was proposed changes to the GP/CASP. I tend to agree with others, that the proposed Trackside site is in a transition zone, and needs further clarification before anything is approved there.

          And, for reasons already discussed, it’s a logical location for a 3-story building (with appropriate setbacks, for the third floor).

          I’m not arguing against mixed use at the site, or in the core area.  (However, I would like to see the residential portion of mixed use “count” against the 1% growth cap.  It apparently does not count toward it, now.)  As you know, mixed-use developments are also not subject to Affordable housing requirements.

          On a related note, does anyone from the city actually check to see if the commercial portion of mixed-use developments is used for commercial purposes?  (I’m specifically thinking of the new Del Rio mixed-use development, in Mace Ranch.) What’s to prevent residents from using the commercial spaces for purposes other than commercial activities, in the long run?

           

        7. Howard P

          Ron, I didn’t say it should be 4 stories… I said, in effect, that should not be precluded as an option.

          We’ll agree to disagree whether the tracks or the alley is the “most logical”… existing uses are clearly on my side of that argument.  Significant differences in zoning on either side of the alley.  Existing.  Since at least 1972 — 45 years.  Probably more like 100… would have to look at the old Sanborn maps to verify.

        8. Ron

          Howard:

          That’s great!  I agree, and really do feel that sticking a 4-story structure there is not reasonable, for neighbors.  (That’s pretty much what it comes down to, from my point of view at least.)  I suspect that this is the primary issue, for neighbors.

          3-stories with a reasonable setback for the third story – good to go (I think)!  Now, that’s something that I’d look forward to.  (Probably more attractive than what’s there, as well.)

          Hope the existing businesses stay somewhere in Davis, though.  (That is, if the existing businesses determine that they must move to survive.)

          Perhaps hard-fought battles are often beneficial for planning, going forward. In the end, I’m thankful that there are so many who care and are willing to fight. (Sorry, Tia – I don’t think it will ever be a truly “cooperative” process.)

        9. Ron

          Oops – got overly-excited, and missed your phrase “should not be” excluded. Immediately focused on your “bolded” word. (Given our recent “disagreements”, I was kind of hoping that we’d agree on this, and responded too quickly.)

          That’s o.k. – you and others are entitled to your point of view.  Not going to argue it further, here.

        10. Howard P

          Do you realize Ron, that a three story structure and a four story structure might be the same height [depending on design]?  Are you concerned about height, or stories?

        11. Ron

          Good question, Howard.  Probably better-directed at nearby neighbors (my primary concern, especially given the close proximity of the site to neighbors). I suspect that many of them don’t want to engage on the Vanguard (as was the case with Sterling, the “B” street development, etc.). Perhaps a “losing game”, to do so.

           

        12. Tia Will

          And the public alley IS the logical ‘limit line’… not the tracks…”

          That depends on what criteria you are choosing to claim is “logical”. For me, as a resident of OED, the alley is not the logical choice, the tracks are. The reason is basic functionality.  When the north/south trains are passing through town, and frequently blocking this intersection for prolonged periods of time, there is no doubt where Trackside it is located. The answer is not downtown, it is in OED. The trains form a physical barrier, the alley does not.  Also the alley does not extend to the south. So regardless of where someone decided the dividing line “should be” either “logically” or “objectively” as a representative for the developer said, functionally, it is perfectly clear that it is at the tracks, not the alley.

        13. Mark West

          “there is no doubt where Trackside it is located. The answer is not downtown, it is in OED.”

          You are correct, there is no doubt. It is spelled out clearly in the CASP that the Trackside parcel is in the downtown core, and not in the old east Davis neighborhood. It has been that way for decades and that fact does not change just because a few newbie neighbors decide it should be different.

        14. Alan Miller

          If 3 is OK with you, why not 4?  If the rest of downtown goes 5-6, 4 looks like an appropriate ‘transition #’.  Existing SF can be 2.  2-4-6… works for me…

          But it’s not 2-4-6 — the first number is a “1”.

          And the public alley IS the logical ‘limit line’… not the tracks…

          I don’t know of a person in Old East who would agree with that, and not just for the purpose of this discussion.  We’ve always placed the border at the railroad tracks, and in every casual conversation about the subject that’s where people consider downtown to begin.  On all City documents except one (which uses the vague term “generally along”)  the neighborhood is defined by the tracks on the west and south.  The Core Area was brought over the tracks a decade or so ago as a complimentary overlay with the agreement of the neighborhood to support a mixed use proposal by Davis Lumber that was transparently proposed to the neighborhood with neighborhood input and cooperation and was tiered from 1-3 stories away from the neighborhood.

  3. Tia Will

    I am going to add a new dimension to the conversation that is almost sure to draw disagreement from both sides. With regard to our cities fiscal well being, much is made of the concept of “needs” vs “nice to haves”. Although not everyone agrees which particular project fits in which group, I have yet to hear anyone disagree with the basic concept.

    I see the same as applying to developments which want exemptions outside the zoning and design guidelines. For me, if a “nice to have” project wants to build within all guidelines, the project should be approved. If, a project fills significant needs ( as determined by the city council) then it may be reasonable to grant exemptions based on city need. With regard to the Trackside project my interpretation would be as follows:

    1. Proponents come in with a project that meets zoning and design guidelines – no opposition from me.

    2. Proponents come in with a project that is designed to meet very specific designated “needs” say for example, student housing, affordable housing, transitional housing  shelter for an at risk group ( foster youth transitioning into independent living), I would not oppose a compromise height ( 4 stories) and would actually advocate and possibly even volunteer to help with same.

    3. What actually happened. Developers brought forth a “nice to have”, luxury apartment design significantly outside both zoning and design guidelines without significant neighborhood input.They then held extensive meetings with the neighborhood which addressed multiple aesthetic and peripheral issues but not the core concerns of zoning and guidelines. They state two goals. Investment property for a group of local investors. Contribution to a stated city goal. It is my feeling that a “luxury apartment” building, even one located over first floor businesses while it may meet a city “goal” certainly does not meet a city “need”. This combined with the proposal clearly being outside the zoning and design guidelines is enough for me to stand in opposition.

    1. Mark West

      “It is my feeling that a “luxury apartment” building, even one located over first floor businesses while it may meet a city “goal” certainly does not meet a city “need”.”

      The City needs housing of all types, not just those that you approve of. High-density multi-family housing meets a specific need of the City. Your ‘luxury’ descriptor is of no consequence in evaluating the appropriateness of the project.

    2. Ron

      Tia:  The only part of your argument that I might “disagree” with is that nothing “prevents” this project from being occupied by wealthier students (e.g., International students who can afford a $40K-plus per year tuition), and/or those willing to share the space. So, in that sense, it might help meet the “city’s goal”. (And, once can always make an argument that it would “free-up” other units in the city, which then target the specific populations that the city council is apparently trying to “encourage”.)

      On a broader level, this type of argument leads me to question the viability/goal of “encouraging housing” for particular populations (other than Affordable housing – which has clear eligibility requirements).

      Of course, some developments (such as Sterling) are designed in such a way that it will probably be occupied almost 100%, by students.  (As you know, some of us believe that this type of structure belongs on campus.)

      Just saw Mark’s comment, as well. (Without specifically agreeing with him, it makes me wonder if “rich people need housing/love”, too? Or, should the city “discriminate” against them?)

      1. Ron

        Or, housing for faculty, for that matter.

        Again, none of this “causes” me to believe that the structure should be taller than 3 stories.   (Or, just leave it as is, if developers can’t find a way to make that work. Even within a 3-story limit, I sincerely doubt that developers would “give up”, in the long run. But – pretty sure that they won’t “like it”.)

      2. Tia Will

        Mark and Ron

        Your ‘luxury’ descriptor is of no consequence in evaluating the appropriateness of the project.”

        First, it was not my descriptor. It was the descriptor that the developer either gave, or allowed to be reported as such by the Enterprise.

        Secondly, some would have said the same about a new swimming pool, namely that it was useful to the community, would lessen the crowds at the public pools, would be an added amenity to our community. And yet got a lot of push back as a “nice to have” that we could afford and at least some who post here agreed with that assessment and with the concept of “needs” vs “nice to haves” as regards city finances.

        Third, I would like to reiterate that I do not consider my position to be discriminatory. As previously stated, if the proposed luxury apartment building were within zoning and design guidelines, and thus not requesting special favors ( aka exemptions) from the city with concomitant impacts on the neighbors, I would not object.

        Fourth, I do not believe that those of us who are wealthy enough to afford “luxury” accommodations need additional help in the form of exemptions from the city. If this were a project for a group with an actual demonstrated need, I would not oppose.

        1. Mark West

          “First, it was not my descriptor. It was the descriptor that the developer either gave, or allowed to be reported as such by the Enterprise.”

          True. for the first iteration at least. Have they used it since? You, on the other hand, use it consistently to disparage the project. It is a descriptor that you have adopted even though it is entirely subjective and of no real value in objectively evaluating the project. The City needs more high-density, multifamily housing, regardless of what extra descriptors you try to attach to a given project.

          “I would like to reiterate that I do not consider my position to be discriminatory.”

          Of course, you don’t. That doesn’t change the fact, however.

           

          “I do not believe that those of us who are wealthy enough to afford “luxury” accommodations need additional help in the form of exemptions from the city.”

          Are you looking to move into Trackside now? If not, you are not gaining any ‘additional help’ because you have no involvement with the project. Your wealth is immaterial to the discussion and your comment is nonsense.

           

        2. Howard P

          I find it curious, Tia, that in some areas, you seem ‘wedded’ to the rules/status quo in place… inviolable… in other areas, health care, universal income allowances, sugary drink taxes, not so much.  No need to respond… I trend to having core beliefs that would ‘upend’ society, and also fervently believe in following well-vetted rules.

          Some of our values are very similar, though the way we would have them realized are VERY different.

      3. Ron

        Tia:

        You used Mark’s quote, not mine.

        In any case, you mentioned “student housing”, as one of your preferred populations (in terms of granting exemptions, above).  However, you haven’t addressed the point I brought up, regarding “wealthy” students, and/or students willing to share the space.  (For example, the type of International student that can afford more than $40K per year in tuition.) Do you support an “exemption” for a Trackside project that might very well house (at least some) wealthier students? Also, what if it houses faculty, who make a decent salary?

        “Honest” question – is a 3-story structure an “exemption” at the Trackside location?

         

        1. Ron

          David:  The Trackside “requirements” are already in place?  What authority is establishing these requirements, at this time? (And – there’s no way around them?)

          Are these requirements in place at other rental properties?  Or, just Trackside?

          Also – what about faculty? And, is 3 stories an “exemption”, or is that open to interpretation? (Actually, my original questions were directed to Tia, regarding specific populations that she would support an exemption for. In practice, I think this is extremely difficult to accomplish – except for Affordable housing, which has clear requirements.)

        2. Ron

          And – wealthier International students have no credit?  (They just carry around huge wads of cash, all the time?) And if they have no credit upon arrival, they don’t take steps to establish it at some point? (For example, perhaps after staying in the dorms for a year?)

        3. David Greenwald

          Nothing is in place since there is no approved project or developer agreement.  I asked them how they planned to prevent students from living there and they explained by requiring everyone who lived in the place to pass a credit check.

          I knew some guys who made it big in their 20s during the dot.com era and a lot of them had huge six and even seven figure salaries, but no credit.  So they had to pay for everything in cash (or debit cards).  I know a guy who bought a Maserati with cash because he couldn’t get a car loan.  It’s weird stuff I know.

    3. Ron

      Tia:  “I am going to add a new dimension to the conversation that is almost sure to draw disagreement from both sides.”

      Hey – I just noticed that both Mark and I responded, above.  Your “prediction” came true!  (Although truth be told, my point is not that much different than Mark’s point, regarding the “wealth” of the “planned occupants”.)

      For what it’s worth – I believe you, regarding your desire to target some population groups. However, I suspect that anything built at the Trackside site will be at least partially occupied by students (one of the groups you specifically mentioned).

  4. Tia Will

    Your wealth is immaterial to the discussion and your comment is nonsense.”

    I agree with the first clause. Disagree with the second. It is not my wealth that is material. That of the people who will ( and won’t)be able to afford these units is highly material to the discussion. You state that we “need” all types of housing. I disagree. I believe that we “need” housing for those in actual need. The wealthy can afford housing in a variety of areas and already have choice. This is not true for the populations that I mentioned. I do not believe in the concept of “trickle down” housing any more than I believe in trickle down economics. What is most likely to happen when affluent people move out of their high priced single family houses elsewhere in Davis, which I have heard was a major motivator, is that there homes will be purchased by other affluent families, many from out of town, sometimes purchased in cash by those moving in from the Bay area flush with cash. Recently saw this with a home purchase my daughter made in Sacramento.

    I am unapologetic about my feeling that we should address the needs of our community before we go about gentrifying for the sake of the wealthy be they investors or tenants. The effect of gentrification is clear. Yes, those who are wealthy benefit. Those who are pushed out…not so much so. This is how our society on all levels is structured and I think it is a major contributor to the inequality of wealth distribution that plaques our society.

    Mark, I know that you and I see this issue from nearly completely opposite perspectives. However, I was of the opinion that we had an agreement to address each others ideas respectfully. Your comments would seem to indicate that you no longer are interested in maintaining a respectful tone.

    1. Mark West

       “before we go about gentrifying for the sake of the wealthy be they investors or tenants. “

      Gentrifying? Really?

      gen·tri·fy

      ˈjentrəˌfī/Submit

      verb

      gerund or present participle: gentrifying

      renovate and improve (especially a house or district) so that it conforms to middle-class taste.

      make (someone or their way of life) more refined or polite.

      You moving into the neighborhood with the intent of improving the house to fit your needs is a better example of the process.

      “Your comments would seem to indicate that you no longer are interested in maintaining a respectful tone.”

      All of my comments have been directed at specific comments that you have made. Please show me where I was disrespectful to you (and not just to your words). I am responsible for my words, but I am not responsible for your inference of my ‘tone.’

      “This is how our society on all levels is structured and I think it is a major contributor to the inequality of wealth distribution that plaques our society.”

      I think you may underestimate the impact your advocacy has on society and inequality.

      The Sum of Small Things: A Theory of the Aspirational Class, Elizabeth Currid-Halkett

      http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10933.html

       

       

  5. Tia Will

    renovate and improve (especially a house or district) so that it conforms to middle-class taste.”

    I accept the definition of the word gentrify. However, I do not agree that the purchase of my home and subsequent renovations are at all similar or relevant to what is proposed at Trackside.

    First, I have not structurally changed the existing property. Thus there has been no impact on the neighbors.

    Second, the upgrades that we have made have been considered to be improvements if the comments of neighbors are to be taken into consideration.

    Third, we did not change the usage of the property as is proposed at Trackside. My house was and remains a single family dwelling. Trackside as planned would be changing from business only to mixed use with the pros and cons inherent in that process both to tenants, investors, and immediate neighbors.

    As regards “tone”, it was you in a previous post that had suggested ( paraphrased) that more civility might be warranted and that you intended to attempt that. I consider the statement that you do not agree both more accurate and more civil than referring to someone else’s thoughts as “nonsense” or making personal and irrelevant comparisons between an individuals lifestyle and a project( for reasons stated above).

    1. David Greenwald

      My view is that any time these conversations turn from general policy isues into discussions about personal choices, it becomes inappropriate.

      1. Mark West

        I think the ‘honesty’ of someone’s comment is a valid issue in the discussion, regardless of the overall topic. When one’s life choices conflict with their advocacy, there is a good reason to view their comments as being disingenuous. Equally, when one attempts to ‘rewrite’ history to better meet their narrative (as was done elsewhere on this page by a different author), it is also worthy of note. I agree that it is easy for a topic to get sidetracked, but the cause for that is the dishonest comment, not the resulting correction.

        1. Ron

          I would agree with Mark.  For example, a pro-development, pro-business “free market” type of person deciding to appeal a decision to allow a privately-funded parking lot for a key hardware store, which also was not prohibited by current zoning (and was largely supported by the adjacent neighborhood, as well as most of the city).

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            “which also was not prohibited by current zoning”

            I’m pretty sure the argument made by Mark is that it did violate the CASP.

        2. Ron

          David:  Even if that’s true, CASP and zoning are two different things.  I recall that even Michael Bisch ultimately acknowledged that the parking lot did not violate existing zoning.

          Just the other day, you argued that updating CASP and the GP had essentially nothing to do with allowing new development.  (Something to that effect.) Perhaps another disingenuous argument, but I’d rather not get into that here.

          In any case, if that’s your response (instead of concurring with the primary point regarding “inconsistent arguments” – which was first alleged by Mark – apparently referencing another commenter), then I don’t know what else to say. (Except perhaps – really?)

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            No what I stated the other day is that the update to the General Plan will not increase new development.

            The point made is that the ACE Project violated design guidelines. Essentially, Lucas acknowledged that they did, but said so what. I’m not sure where we’re going with this. Perhaps you can explain.

        3. Ron

          David:  Rather than “re-inventing the wheel”, I’ll just re-paste what I wrote above:

          “For example, a pro-development, pro-business “free market” type of person deciding to appeal a decision to allow a privately-funded parking lot for a key hardware store, which also was not prohibited by current zoning (and was largely supported by the adjacent neighborhood, as well as most of the city.”

          “Oh – and also opposing adequate “in lieu of fees” to establish parking elsewhere, at least as I recall.”

           

           

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            And so my point was that while you mentioned it was not prohibited by current zoning, the point of the appeal was it was in violation of the CASP.

        4. Ron

          David:

          Considering Mark’s prior “free-market” type comments, noisy neighbors, etc., it’s an unusual argument for him to make. (I don’t recall Mark making arguments most of the other developments – even when they don’t adhere to actual/existing zoning requirements, or any “guidelines”.) Why did he suddenly “find religion”, on this one?

          And – it doesn’t explain his opposition (as I recall, at least) regarding an adequate “in-lieu of” fee, to ensure adequate parking nearby.  (Is that “discouraged” by the CASP, as well?)

        5. Mark West

          “which also was not prohibited by current zoning”

          Thank you, Ron, for providing an excellent example of one attempting to rewrite history to match their narrative. The majority of the CC stated that the ACE project violated the current zoning. They approved it anyway. Your statement is demonstrably false but don’t let the facts to get in the way of your delusions story.

        6. Ron

          Mark:  Suggest that you speak with Michael, regarding his comments on that (as noted above).  (That’s what I recall, and was relying upon. David did not disagree either, when I repeated that it did not violate existing zoning. See his comment, above.)

          If you’re now saying that the council determined that the parking lot violated existing zoning, then I’ll take your word for it. But, that’s the first I’ve heard of it.

        7. Ron

          And – it doesn’t explain his (Mark’s) opposition (as I recall, at least) regarding an adequate “in-lieu of” fee, to ensure adequate parking nearby.  (Is that “discouraged” by the CASP, as well?)

          I’d actually like to hear confirmation (from David, if possible) regarding Mark’s statement that the parking lot at ACE actually violated existing zoning. (Is that true, or not?) David seems to follow this stuff pretty closely, most of the time.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            So what I understood the complaint that Mark made, and I agree with and I believed the council majority agreed was this: “The project is inconsistent with the GP, the CASP and the Design Guidelines.” So if that what is meant by zoning, then I agree with that statement. If something else is meant, then I’d need to look further.

        8. Michael Bisch

          I acknowledged no such thing.  The Ace project was inconsistent with the GP, the CASP, the Design Guidelines and the zoning. That’s why it required a variance. If the project had conformed, it would never have come before the planning commission.
          40.14.090 Parking requirements.

          Off-street parking and loading facilities shall be required for all uses, subject to the requirements set forth in Sections 40.25.010 through 40.25.120, and the requirements of this section. The requirements of this section shall prevail in case of conflict.
          (a)    Construction of on-site parking shall not be allowed for office or commercial uses unless below grade or above the ground floor or an integral part of the building structure. Participation in a parking district as per Section 40.25.050, or in-lieu-of payments as per Section 40.25.060, shall be required.
          (c)    For projects within the downtown core district as defined within the downtown and traditional residential neighborhood design guidelines, access to on-site parking should come from an existing alley or non-prime retail storefront street.

          How can someone so consistently misrepresent the facts and the positions of others?

          In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtroʊl//ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory,[1] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[2] or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion,[3] often for the troll’s amusement. -Wikipedia

  6. Todd Edelman

    Okay. Eventually the UP ROW is going to be something else — around 3rd to 5th more likely just a transportation corridor, a Downtown Greenbelt and maybe… light rail IF density justifies it. Taller buildings here improve density and done right can also mitigate any noise from a rail vehicle. Actually all the properties here could conceivably have egress directly from the Greenbelt path or walkway along the tracks.

    Think of how convenient – fun, even! – it will be to get on a tram-train that starts in Woodland on Main St., with two more stops in our neighbor to the north… then speeds up for 7 or 8 miles or so before it stops at a dense, mixed-use update of of Covell Village – “Three times the density in 1/3 the space!” – and then heads Downtown with stops at 7th St and possibly one more before (the current site of) Davis Depot, before continuing to 1st St. with a stop at the Davis Commons Plaza on the north side of the new Davis Depot (for higher speed trains) then continuing to UC Davis…

    It’s really…. short… sighted to plan Downtown and its immediate periphery without considering the north-south sustainable transport corridor we need desperately in western Yolo County: “Gas station owners in Davis protest plans for light rail and density, saying that it undermines the bland, suburban character of the periphery of town that they’ve been cultivating for decades…”

    1. Alan Miller

      “Gas station owners in Davis protest plans for light rail and density, saying that it undermines the bland, suburban character of the periphery of town that they’ve been cultivating for decades…”

      Who in the heck are you quoting here?  Why would someone be opposed to something that is never (as in for generations) going to happen?

      1. Mark West

         “Why would someone be opposed to something that is never (as in for generations) going to happen?”

        What are you talking about Alan M.? It happens every night in Todd’s dreams, so it must be true (that appears to be the standard of proof around here anyway).

        1. Todd Edelman

          If we’re constructing buildings that are going to last at least a 100 years and some of them are going to be on a geographical border that might have different characteristics within that time it’s actually at the very least a rather banal task to have a contingency plan for that. If we want to encourage Woodland not to sprawl south there are many things we can do about it. If the Davis Depot is for technical reasons not a good match for the future faster rail station then we need to consider during the public process around the corner if Downtown also gets oriented to that station at a different location, especially if there’s a new development on the Nishi property. A Downtown of three, four or six mixed use stories is a great match for better collective transport and cannot be satisfied with parking minimums and peripheral single use parking structures.

          I see a discussion here where we don’t know what was actually present 100 years ago, where we know that probably some idealist protested against the destruction of downtown into single floor buildings surrounded by parking lots but was dismissed repeatedly, almost in a Pavlovian-fashion, though for sure not anonymously.
          In these discussions I see little about examples of personal experience, e.g. who’s actually lived in a dense environment without a car, with robust transit and lots of walking (and cycling, e.g. in Europe.) And not to pull the card in my spokes card, but do any of you ride a bike regularly for transport?

          Impressionable youth would self-immolate if they were attacked with your rubbery bludgeons of dismissiveness. I’m way past youth, but still it’s sad that I have to share this space – and possibly AARP membership – with such a stellar cast of naysayers.

          Thing is that everything I mentioned in the comment above is already taking some concrete steps.  I appreciate the concrete analysis on a range of issues  but I don’t quite understand your angry underbursts.

        2. Howard P

          There are a number of folk in town who,

          know what was actually present 100 years ago

          Folk who know ‘history’ from many sources… actually, pretty well documented in newspapers, photos, ‘oral tradition’, etc.

          I whole-heartily agree that the N/S right-of-way should be preserved, no matter what.  Even if it doesn’t get used for much for 100 years… acquisition of a new R/W would be highly problematic…

        3. Ron

          Todd:  “I’m way past youth, but still it’s sad that I have to share this space – and possibly AARP membership – with such a stellar cast of naysayers.”

          You truly a wordsmith, at times! 

          I suspect that the rail line will eventually be used as a bike path.  There’s been some discussion regarding that. (Hopefully, it will accommodate the Rascal-type scooters that we might need, if we’re still alive by that time.)

        4. Todd Edelman

          I know that in some study from a years ago there were projections of new homes etc that could be built in the abandoned ROW  — I assume this means between E. Covell and 5th because much of this has a street to its west and the rest is at least relatively wide.

          And on other hand, at the BTSSC meeting the other night – I was the only public person to attend both this month and last, you’re welcome – there was a discussion of improvements to 14th St. between F St. an Villanova. In comments I referred to the portion being discussed a bit more thoroughly – between Oak and F – as a kind “Main Street North”.

          Main Street North – which I think could be narrowed with the rest functionally-attached to DHS through the elementary school – is one block west of the Woodland Main St.-Davis-New Davis Depot-Old Davis Road tram-train route which would have a stop here – the first one south of the Covell Village-Cannery stop – thus in aggregate there’d be a contiguous sustainable transport corridor to Downtown, of course creating a loop with B St. Voila! The closer we can get the 14th stop to Vets, the better.

          If you want your grandchildren to have a good life, start planning now.

          1. Don Shor

            You seem to still be under the illusion that a lot of people want to travel back and forth between Woodland and Davis on a daily basis.

        5. Ron

          Don:  Some do so, now.  Probably more in the future (e.g., when the “Innovation Center” is built in Woodland, and as Woodland spreads further toward Davis). And perhaps vice-versa to a lesser degree – as Davis spreads toward Woodland.

          Probably not enough to support what Todd is suggesting, for the foreseeable future.  (Hopefully never, from my “stable population” point of view.)

          A bike path would be nice, though.

  7. Howard P

    Ron wrote,

    CASP and zoning are two different things.

    Slightly correct, technically, but in large measure, not… the CASP doesn’t change underlying zoning, that existed prior to its adoption, changes.  That said, changes in zoning need to be in ‘substantial conformance’ to the CASP, unless the latter is concurrently amended.

    For those other than Ron, am trying to clarify how things work.  Some will ‘listen’, others, not… they might take it as a derogatory, personal ‘attack’… not my intent.

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