Sunday Commentary: Lessons from the Trackside Fight?

The neighbors’ revised proposal for Trackside 3.0, but the height differential between a conforming building and the current project is less than indicated here

In closing the chapter on Trackside now, someone asked a good question: what should someone do next time, that might be more successful?  By way of answering that I go through what I see as the key defining moments and I’m not sure, given the dynamics of the housing crisis and council preferences, that there was going to be another outcome.

A key point to understand is that the developers made a very critical mistake early – two of them: first they came out with a preposterous six-story building and second they failed to do proper outreach to the neighborhood.

That really poisoned the well with the neighbors, and that is understandable.  However, I think, because of that, the neighbors treated this as an adversarial process that continued after the much more reasonable four-story building proposal.

When Kemble Pope first met with me early in 2015 about the project, I suggested that three to four stories seemed reasonable.  I was horrified to see a six-story proposal come out, and do not believe that
served anyone well.

Some have suggested that having an outlandish first proposal allowed the developers to come back with four and get four.  But I’m not so sure.  By going with six, they created a much more contentious process than necessary, it prolonged the planning process perhaps by as much as a year (which added to costs, no doubt) and I think ultimately they may have gotten four anyway, with a much better and more collaborative process.

I do think the neighbors made some mistakes.  I think they were too contentious with their rhetoric.  I’ve made this point before, but if you look at the amount of energy expended and time and effort, I’m not sure what they ultimately got out of it.

Ultimately, for better or for worse, this came down to three or four stories.  As Don Shor put it in his comment addressing the same question: “This became a conflict between competing values of community goals and needs. I suspect every council member is on record somewhere as advocating for greater densification and acknowledging our severe housing shortage. That was put up against conserving the character of a neighborhood.”

In the end, what is the difference between three stories and four stories?  As Don Shor put and I agree, “For the person living next door, it makes a big difference. But once it became a binary choice between those conflicting values, one side has to lose.”

A point that was made to me later is that the entire debate over three versus four stories is a bit misplaced.  The term “story” itself has no defined meaning in terms of height.  And it was pointed out to me that means that a three-story building could have been 45 feet in height.  If that is the case, this building is only 47 and 1/2 feet to the roof and 50 and 1/2 feet to the very top.  So you are talking about maybe a five-foot difference between a conforming and a “non-conforming” building.

From the council’s perspective then, this was a very contentious battle over very little difference in the real impacts on the neighborhood.  And when forced to choose between competing values, they sided with the applicant.

One mistake made by the neighbors here was putting up their counter-proposal at three stories.  I hate to say that, because I think from most aspects that was the right thing to do – they wanted to show that they were willing to accept a building, just not that building and a larger footprint, but one not as large as the one offered by the developers.

However, by moving it to three stories, it cut out the possibility of realistic further negotiations.  And so, from a strategic standpoint, they needed to propose two stories and hope to compromise at three, rather than three hoping the council would side with them.

In the end I don’t know that there was much the neighbors could have done to change the outcome, but here are my suggestions:

First, they needed to take the higher ground in this debate.  Whether you want to call it a rhetorical gap or what, the language coming from the neighbors didn’t help.  The idea that “Davis was losing its soul” or that we were throwing out the design guidelines was over the top and not helpful.

While this is hard to do, the neighbors, in the face of what they perceived as arrogance from the developer, initially should have had the response that they were going to be the bigger people.

Second, I think the neighbors should have stopped with the design guidelines argument.  Instead of arguing that the project was throwing out the guidelines, they should have argued that the city’s CASP (Core Area Specific Plan) is outdated and we need to update it and delay the project until we can create the new guidelines – so that we don’t end up with a patchwork of developments in the core area.

Third, the point I would have raised over and over again is that this project is just providing for 27 units.  That’s not going to make a dent in the housing crisis.  It is also not addressing the greatest need for housing in this community.  In fact, I wonder how far you have to drop, it is not addressing student housing, it is not addressing housing for families either single or multi-family homes, it might be addressing “work force” housing – but on the upper end of the scale.  Having that debate over needs might have been helpful and would have forced the city to look into what kinds of housing we need going forward.

Fourth, the neighbors should have figured out how to best mitigate the impacts of four stories and attempted to address those.

Part of the problem I think they ended up with was no room for negotiations.  The council was willing to send Hyatt House back for conflict resolution and it worked.  Here, the neighbors I feel forced the council into making a choice between more housing and the neighborhood character – and Robb Davis and other councilmembers actually rejected the impact on the neighborhood.

And while some have criticized Robb Davis, here is the problem that the neighbors had – I went to some of the homes that back right against the alley and I can clearly see how especially a six-story building directly impacted those folks.  I didn’t get a real chance to see how it would impact them at four stories, with the highest portions set back a good distance from the alley.

But for the life of me, I don’t really understand the impacts on those who are not living at the SW quadrant of I Street.  Even at six stories, it is not clear that anyone to the north of Fourth Street or to the east of I Street would even see the six-story building, let alone the four-story building.

You start getting into subjective and nebulous impacts when you talk about growth pressures and traffic in the alleyway.

In the end, the council was locked into a binary choice and I think that was the biggest shortcoming in the neighbors’ ultimate strategy – they were picking between 27 and 15 units, three or four stories, and maybe as little as five feet in height.

Ultimately, I think that the dynamics were tilted away from the neighbors and I think, if that is a concern, then you are going to have to think about how to handle additional housing needs because our choices are clear – more density inside the community or the willingness to build outward.  Something has to give, and with Trackside that meant four stories rather than three – but also rather than six.

As I said earlier this week, once the developers went down to four stories, they were really in driver’s seat – but I don’t agree that is because they started at six.  I think if they had come out with four immediately, it would have been a far smoother process.

—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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49 thoughts on “Sunday Commentary: Lessons from the Trackside Fight?”

  1. Tia Will

    David

    I have a few comments about your impression which you might have seen differently had you been present at any of the negotiation meetings.

    1. Much has been said about how collaborative the developers were, however:

    -they at no time were willing to address the core issue of the neighborhood which was always the size and scale of the building. What they were willing to address were relatively peripheral issues such as limitations on where certain types of businesses could be located, how to mass the building and  alley issues which made them seem cooperative without ever addressing the core concern.

    – they did not engage in these negotiations at all until it was clear that six stories would not fly so unlike the Hyatt developers or the Lincoln 40 developers there was no spontaneous initial “outreach”.

    – over a year ago and ever since, they refused the community request to do a mock up of a three story building to see if there was a way that a three story conforming building could be designed that would pencil out. Their original architect had told us directly at a meeting  in response to my question that he would be happy to present such a design. That architect never showed up at any subsequent meetings and neither did a three story design. Steve Greenfield then on Tuesday, one year later, says to the council that interim building costs have increased so much that a 3 story building was no longer feasible. I would posit that they never had any intention to address a 3 story building secure in the knowledge that with Lucas not recusing himself, despite clearly having already approved of the project at six stories,  they had 3 votes.

    the neighbors treated this as an adversarial process that continued after the much more reasonable four-story building proposal.”

    Although you note that it was the developers who created the adversarial process, you then place the blame for the ongoing contentiousness on the neighbors. I find this quite ironic in view of the fact that you clearly have no idea of what occurred at those meetings.

    I don’t really understand the impacts on those who are not living at the SW quadrant of I Street.”

    Other than the safety concerns that I noted, and which the Mayor agreed with regarding safety on the 3 rd street corridor ( he directly made comments to a group of us about the need for traffic calming along this route) no one has claimed that there are direct impacts on those not living at that location. I myself have said as much to you in person and in multiple articles here. This continues to be brought up as a straw man argument against the neighborhood.

     “the council was locked into a binary choice”

    At no time was the council locked into a binary choice. As I pointed out with my general public comment about process they did have an alternative option. They knew this because it was the process they had chosen with regard to the Hyatt project. Expressed in reductionist terms what they had essentially done in that case was to say to the neighborhood either  enter into negotiations with the builders, or the council would approve the development as proposed. The council had exactly the same choice with regard to Trackside. They could have pressured the developers into negotiation on size and scale or informed the developers they would accept Trackside 3.0. Instead,they decided to take Steve Greenfields word with regard to “penciling out” with no presentation of evidence and no possibility for OEDNA to get the information requested by Will Arnold in his “gotcha” moment given that he met with the neighborhood and could have informed us that this would be information he wanted.  In this case they decided to side with the developers who were refusing to discuss the core issue ( size and scale) in negotiations.

    As for taking the “higher road” I have a different perspective. At no time did OEDNA want to force a nonprofitable project on the developers. We did not choose to play the game of “you say six, we say one. You say 4 we say 2. We were very willing to compromise at three in a compliant building. Instead we chose to be forthright from the beginning. We made a sincere request for an honest accounting of what 4 stories would look like, cost, and return. We requested the same for a 3 story building and were faced instead with refusal, and a one year delay.

    As for hyperbole and adversarial tone, it is quite annoying to me that only one side has been acknowledged for engaging in this. Will Arnold called out only ad hominem attacks from neighbors while ignoring all the letters, posts and public comment referring to the neighbors as NIMBY, greedy, selfish, not forward thinking, and my personal favorite “immoral”….as if those these were not ad hominem attacks. With regard to hyperbole, I saw no council mention of the grandiose language about hearkening back to the status of this site 70 or so years ago, no mention of how they had somehow convinced a group of students that this building is a “first step” in adding to the housing supply thus benefiting them as though Sterling, Lincoln 40, and Nishi did not exist and that therefore, somehow an extremely limited number of luxury apartments that none of them ( certainly not the student living in their car or the young woman who spoke about needing a third job) would ever benefit from was a “first step”. Talk about disingenuous hyperbole and not only from the developers, but from Lucas bringing up homelessness as something this project would address.

    Finally, I would like to state what I think the “high road” could have been achieved from both sides: 1. The developers could have honestly approached the neighborhood first ( others have done so). 2. They could have brought forth a reasonably sized initial offering. 3. Both sides could have refrained from any negatives whether name calling, twisting motives, assuming the motivations of the other side were known. 3. The two sides could have negotiated from the beginning and then and only then presented a proposal to the city ( this also has been done).

    However, this was not chosen despite the fact that the neighbors were fully willing to continue with negotiations. Thus what the council chose to do was to act in favor of the side that had never been willing to negotiate fully. The developers and city council decided in favor of continuing a divisive process that pits one group of citizens against another when all involved are aware that there are collaborative processes that could be pursued.

     

     

    1. Howard P

      I am leery/skeptical when ‘collaborative’ and ‘negotiation’ are used in the same paragraph.  They are very different processes.  Not “equal”.

      1. Tia Will

        Howard

        I am not sure if you were referencing David’s comment or mine, so I speak only for myself

        Usage was not intended to be interchangeable. However, either in my opinion would be preferable to the “winner take all ” approach which was utilized.

    2. Don Shor

      Once you reach the point where one side wants a three story building and the other side wants a four story building, I don’t see much room for compromise on that core issue.

      1. Tia Will

        Don

        Ordinarily I would agree with you. Except for two points, 1.we were initially informed by the developer’s that a six story building was what would ” pencil out”. So it seems to me that it might be that a four story building might also have been a “want” not a “need”.

        2. OEDNA did not feel that the sole remaining issue was 3 vs 4 stories, but rather whether a re configuration of the units or change in the number of units might be points for consideration that might have been both financially viable for the developers while remaining conforming.

        1. David Greenwald

          Tia: I guess I would have liked to have seen more of that discussion – configuration and less focus on the design guidelines, which I never thought you’d (your neighborhood) would win on.

  2. Tia Will

    Ron and Roberta

    Although I typically am not a single issue voter, I personally will not support any candidate who is unwilling to clearly state their position on the adherence to CASP vs planning by exception and on collaborative vs competitive processes.

      1. Tia Will

        David

        I think I already made that clear. I stated “have to state their position clearly”. I stand by that and by my preceding comment that I am not a single issue voter. I will  not vote for anyone unwilling to take a clear stand on any essential city issue and I consider this to be one.

    1. Roberta Millstein

      Although I typically am not a single issue voter, I personally will not support any candidate who is unwilling to clearly state their position on the adherence to CASP vs planning by exception and on collaborative vs competitive processes.

      It would be great to have those explicitly addressed by at least some of the candidates.

      1. Tia Will

        Which CASP?  The current one or the one that may yet be considered?”

        Both. I believe that past agreements should be honored until new one’s are agreed upon. What I find abhorrent is to go through the process which some people believed was an agreement between the city and its citizens, which applied to some, but not to all as determined by a vote of 3. I also believe that any future CASP should have a clear timeline, not some game of “oh, but its so old it doesn’t apply” from those who want change, vs “but its still valid” by those who want to play by the established rules.

        I will reiterate. I do not believe in planning by exception. I think that it reeks of favoritism and an uneven playing field with dispensation granted to some, but not to others.

         

        1. Howard P

          Please understand that the CASP, current and/or future, is a COMMUNITY document, not created by, or for, Old East, Old North, University Avenue, etc.  By and for the whole community.

          You’ve said you see no reason for you to participate in the next iteration.  Ok.  Your call.

          I hope you reconsider, participate, advocate, and then accept the results.  Your call.

          Just so you know, I agree that we should follow our documents, until they are changed by appropriate process.

          But if the original US Constitution had stood as ‘everyone agreed’ it should be formed… we’d still have slavery, women would have no right to vote, etc., etc. Those were changes brought about by ‘amendments’. 10 were done almost immediately after the constitution was written.

  3. dan cornford

    I could not agree more with Ron and Roberta:  “It remains to be seen how clearly candidates will express heir positions on growth and developmental issues.”  Thus far, and as has been the case for at  least a decade, all candidates, at least in their in initial announcements, are a mix of silent, vague, or at best straddling the fence on these issues.  With several Megadorm projects under consideration; the release of the UCD’s LRDP DEIR imminent, and Nishi 2.0 probably on the June ballot, they should not be allowed to get away with this indefinitely as Davis reaches a tipping point or Rubicon in terms of its development.  It is the responssibility of Davis residents to pin the candidates down on these issues.  And they should also remember opponents of Nishi 1.0 won last time despite being outspent 20:1 by their opponents.  There is  a MUCH large constituency than people realize concern about the irreversible cumulative impacts of these proposals that is NOT reflected in the comments of most DV readers.  On grounds of political expediency alone, it would be advisable for candidates to show their hand and take a responsible position on these growth issues.

     

    Finally, for those who have not read it, see Roberts’a excellent Op-Ed in the DE today on Nishi 2.0.

    1. Ron

      Dan:  “There is  a MUCH large constituency than people realize concern about the irreversible cumulative impacts of these proposals that is NOT reflected in the comments of most DV readers.”

      I suspect that you’re correct, regarding this.  Not sure why the Vanguard attracts a different crowd of commenters.  (Perhaps because the tone “starts at the top” of the publication.)

      Dan:  “And they should also remember opponents of Nishi 1.0 won last time despite being outspent 20:1 by their opponents.”

      And this time, there is no “innovation center” component to help offset the permanent, long-term costs to the city.

      By the way, here’s a link to Roberta’s article that you mentioned.  (I wonder how those recommended air quality studies are going?)

      http://www.davisenterprise.com/forum/opinion-columns/nishi-2-0-is-an-environmental-injustice/

       

    2. Roberta Millstein

      Thanks, Dan.  And agreed: “On grounds of political expediency alone, it would be advisable for candidates to show their hand and take a responsible position on these growth issues.”  Let’s have a genuine and open discussion and not more of the “mix of silent, vague, or at best straddling the fence” we’ve had in the past.

  4. Tia Will

    I guess I would have liked to have seen more of that discussion – configuration and less focus on the design guidelines”

    Respectfully David. You are a reporter. At any time you could have asked any of the board or Larry Gunther about the specifics and reported on them yourself. You could have asked me for details during any of the conversations that you and I have had and since I would not have known the answers, would have had the appropriate board member contact you. You could also have dropped by to discuss these  points with either Robert or myself since we have included these points in our weekly tabling conversations at Farmer’s Market ever since Trackside 3.0 was developed enough to be publicly discussed. The last time that you asked me about any of this was before Trackside 3.0 was ready for primetime and I told you that OEDNA would be happy to provide more information when available in a face to face conversation.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      I actually think I made that point clear quite a few times both in conversations and in columns. Again, my point here is that focusing on the design guidelines were not going to win the day – I wrote a column laying that out a month or more ago. Certainly right after Brett Lee’s appearance at the conclave to be sure. He made it clear – I think – that wasn’t the winning argument either.

  5. Eileen Samitz

    This article really does not help the situation with the outcome of the Trackside. It simply rubs salt in a very fresh wound of a neighborhood which tried very hard to work towards a reasonable compromise. Everything I have heard or read about the Trackside project “process” has made clear that this neighborhood did all it could to reach out and try to find a middle-ground solution. That was the three-story project proposal they made.

    This is not the first time that neighborhood concerns were not met with a fair and mutual compromise. There is a reason that we have planning guidelines, specific plans, zoning and a General Plan. The idea is to implement these planning documents, not to try to find ways around them.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      The column is a post-mortem – by definition it cannot help because the decision was already made. What is a fair and mutual compromise when one side says four and one side says three? The developer first proposed six, the neighborhood cried foul, and it was reduced. I think the problem here is that people are acting like there was a single objective best outcome when the reality is much more subjective.

    2. Tia Will

      Eileen

      The idea is to implement these planning documents, not to try to find ways around them.”

      I believe that used to be true. I no longer believe it is. Which brings me full circle to the question of why have planning documents at all if there is no certainty that they will be followed?

      1. Howard P

        I believe that used to be true. I no longer believe it is. Which brings me full circle to the question of why have planning documents at all if there is no certainty that they will be followed?

        That would indeed simplify things… no General Plan, no Specific Plans, no Zoning Code.  Let’s try that!

        Everything done by raw politics and/or fiat!

        1. Tia Will

          Howard

          Everything done by raw politics and/or fiat”

          In the end, that is exactly what happened here.

          1.We had one council member who through his prior investment in this project had already demonstrated that he approved the six story version. Are we now supposed to believe that he was able to impartially judge the merits of a smaller version ? I believe there surely was a moral imperative for recusal albeit not a legal one.

          2. We have one city council member who I have already acknowledged as an honest broker, but who already comes to the dais with a “grow as fast as we can” philosophy which she clearly believes should override all other concerns.

          3. We have two council members who I believe came to this issue with open minds and genuinely attempted to hear and consider all view points although their final votes differed.

          4. We have one council member whose motivations and thought processes were unclear to me until in his reasoning he showed his partiality by calling out only one side for misbehavior when it was clear both had behaved badly in some ways and by softball questioning of the developer and accepting word at face value, while playing “gotcha” with OEDNA by asking for information on the spot when he could equally well have asked for it during one of his community meetings thus providing OEDNA with the same chance to prepare as the developers had.

          I would call this “raw politics”with a clearly established uneven playing field.

           

           

    1. Ron

      Dave:  Per your article:

      “Yimby groups have received funding from founders of several hi-tech companies, including tens of thousands of dollars from Jeremy Stoppelman, a co-founder of Yelp, and the Open Philanthropy Project, which is partly funded by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz.”

      “Deepa Varma, director of the San Francisco Tenants Union, says it has been frustrating to see a new group come in and portray Latinos fighting for preservation of their neighbourhood as nimbys.”

      “Eighty-nine percent of the units that are to be constructed are going to be out of income range of the vast majority of the Latino population living in the Mission District,” argued project opponent Carlos Bocanegra of La Raza Centro Legal, a legal aid group.”

      I still wonder where all these “YIMBYs” were about 7 years ago, during the depths of the “other” housing crisis (in an opposite direction). In any case, they certainly seem unconcerned about existing populations.

       

    2. Tia Will

      Dave

      The irony that I see here is that I agree with these young folks. We should be providing housing for people in need. It is unfortunate that the young folks who spoke to council could not see that if they were really following this principle, Trackside was the wrong project as it provides 0 affordable housing for any of the groups listed groups. No affordable housing for students, for young families, for teachers ( as documented in other recent articles on salary), or any other identified low to moderate income group. Sure, one can pretend that one knows that downsizing will provide housing in town that these groups will be able to afford. But we all know that there is no guarantee. What I can guarantee is that if Trackside, even at six stories had been exclusively for at need groups, I would never have said or written a word against the project itself although I would still have objected to dropping it with no outreach to the neighborhood.

      1. Don Shor

        Trackside was the wrong project as it provides 0 affordable housing for any of the groups listed groups.

        Which is precisely the argument Eileen and others keep making about every other project proposal right now.
        Ask someone who builds affordable housing how profitable it is. If we wait for housing developers to build low-cost housing, nothing will ever get built. If you make a builder provide affordable housing, it will increase the cost of the other units. Builders aren’t altruists. Their investors aren’t philanthropists. Nobody is going to build any significant amount of low-cost housing because it isn’t profitable to do so. Builders and their investors will seek to build and market housing for the demographic that they see as having highest demand. New housing will always be above market rate for rent because it is new. The many add-ons that Davis requires in new housing construction, from energy conservation to affordable housing requirements, make all the housing more expensive overall.

        1. Ron

          Don:  “Builders and their investors will seek to build and market housing for the demographic that they see as having highest demand.”

          Not necessarily.  In fact, they will seek the highest return on their investment.  The luxury market probably has a smalller overall demand, but is likely more profitable.

          Until/unless developers “open their books” to the public, we don’t really know what (honestly) “pencils out” for them.  (If I recall correctly, there were statements that Paso Fino wouldn’t “pencil out”, unless the city-owned greenbelt was included as part of the development.  The end result seems to demonstrate the foolishness of relying upon such statements.)

          Even if development falls short of market demand, there is a limit regarding how much prices can rise. Factors such as other choices (and limited funds) come into play, at some point. As they say, you can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            The problem with your comment is that Don’s point was about affordable housing, not about general development. There is a reason why most affordable housing projects are not done by private, for profit developers but rather by non-profit, mutual housing – there is a reason why affordable housing is subsidized. By going taking your comment where you did, you completely distorted Don’s point.

        2. Howard P

          Why should they open their books?  Should you, in opining on growth/building issues?

          Should the City/community be in the business of deciding what risk and/or profit is acceptable?  Meant as an honest question, and honestly, I say NO!  But would be interested in hearing your opinion, and any reasons for that you’d like to share…

          Perhaps we should have the same criteria for any business seeking to be in Davis…

        3. Tia Will

          Don

          I agree with everything you say in your 8:13 post. And, I also believe that it is disingenuous for them to be portraying themselves as though they were building for the “good of the community”, as though they were altruists. I find it extremely dishonest to portray luxury apartments as improving the housing of students living in their cars or couch surfing, and extremely manipulative to have them show up post coaching prior to city council ( directly witnessed) to testify as though this will help them personally. I find it equally dishonest for investors to say they anticipate “little return” again as though they are acting for altruistic purposes as some apparently informed David.

          I do not see businesses, developers, nor investors as inherently evil. I understand that our current economic system is based on profits. However, I do not think that it is true that there is any place for outright dishonesty in business dealings such as occurred here. I do not believe that a “winner take all ” process is ever optimal or necessary. I know I will not see this change in my lifetime, but my plan is to keep pushing for honesty, collaboration, and an even playing field.

        4. Ron

          Howard:  “Should the City/community be in the business of deciding what risk and/or profit is acceptable?”  

          Not something I said.  However, if one relies upon developer statements (regarding what will “pencil out” in regard to development requirements/approvals), I’m pretty sure that you’re not going to get a complete answer.

        5. Ron

          Don:  “Builders and their investors will seek to build and market housing for the demographic that they see as having highest demand.”

          Ron:  “Not necessarily.  In fact, they will seek the highest return on their investment.  The luxury market probably has a smaller overall demand, but is likely more profitable.”

          David:  “By going taking your comment where you did, you completely distorted Don’s point.”

          Not seeing where I “distorted Don’s point”.

           

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Because you omitted his first sentence: “Ask someone who builds affordable housing how profitable it is. If we wait for housing developers to build low-cost housing, nothing will ever get built.” He’s referring to affordable housing. You’re taking that sentence out of context. You’ve completely misrepresented what he said.

        6. Ron

          David: As with many products, there are different “levels” of housing, which have different price points (and levels of profitability).  (For example, “luxury” housing might have higher ceilings, more spacious suites, higher-end fixtures and appliances, etc.)  Trackside has been described as luxury housing.

          In reference to Don’s statements, I don’t see that I’ve taken anything out of context.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Don’s comment is that affordable housing isn’t profitable. It isn’t. That’s why the developers who do affordable housing are usually non-profits with the projects heavily subsidized and that’s why cities and the state mandate it. This should be an obvious point. You took one statement by him and applied it beyond the scope of the affordable housing comment that he was making. That’s why I said you’ve taken his comment out of context. Again, this should be obvious.

        7. Ron

          David:  Actually, Don listed and responded to a quote that I don’t see anywhere else, on this page.  Also, he put his comment under my posting, for unknown reasons.

          Normally, most folks seem to use “capital A”, when referring to Affordable housing on the Vanguard.  O.K., I guess he was referring to that. (But, that’s not necessarily what some others have referred to, regarding Trackside.)

           

           

    3. Roberta Millstein

      Dave, interesting article, thanks for sharing.

      Ron has already picked out some of the more interesting bits, showing that this is not a clean have-have nots divide paralleling the generational divide, as some have said.

      (More negatively, it’s another bleeping-bleep article that talks about boomers and millenials as though there were no generation in between.  Hmm, what could it be that the two generations have in common that all of the articles are always about them).

  6. Tia Will

    Howard

    You’ve said you see no reason for you to participate in the next iteration.  Ok.  Your call.”

    I absolutely did not say that. What I said is that if the city is not going to honor the agreements made in this process, I see no point in spending time on it as a community. I did not say one word about my personal intent. I couldn’t possibly have as I have yet not decided upon my level of participation.

    I agree that we should follow our documents, until they are changed by appropriate process.”

    On this we agree. It is not that I have a slavish devotion to the previous CASP. It is that I believe that those documents should have been followed until updated. Or to use your analogy, I do not believe that a majority vote should have been allowed to differentially approve slavery or women’s suffrage for some  groups and/ or locations but not others.

     

  7. Tia Will

    Howard

    Should the City/community be in the business of deciding what risk and/or profit is acceptable?”

    I take a more nuanced position than a straight “yes” or “no”.

    1. If the proposal has no significant adverse affects on others in the community, my answer would be “no”,

    2. If the proposal is entirely within existing agreed upon zoning and guidelines, my answer would be “no”.

    3. If the proposal directly meets an agreed upon critical community need my answer would be “no”.

    4. However, if the project admittedly does not directly meet any critical community need ( I do not believe we have a need for a small number of luxury apartments), is not within previously agreed upon parameters, and admittedly needs mitigation ( as admitted by city staff) thus by definition causing adjacent neighbor harm, then my answer would be “yes”. If the city is granting exceptions and calling a halt to collaborative process, then it should be based on evidence, not just acceptance of developer claim. Will Arnold used this reasoning himself when he asked both sides if their designs ( Trackside 2 & 3) “penciled out” thus demonstrating that he considered this a valid consideration.

  8. Alan Miller

    There is  a MUCH large constituency than people realize concern about the irreversible cumulative impacts of these proposals that is NOT reflected in the comments of most DV readers.

    That’s great.  The people you talk about who don’t comment in the Vanguard can go up against the people that Rocehelle often mentions who don’t go to City council meetings and these two groups can have a fight to the death in Central Park where no one shows up and the last person standing wins.

    1. Ron

      Alan:  The folks who are concerned about the cumulative impacts of development proposals are often the same folks who don’t support throwing any particular neighborhood “under the bus”.

      They’re also the same folks who are attempting to encourage UCD to assume responsibility for its own plans (and not throw the city or students under the “Unitrans bus”).

  9. Richard McCann

    Again, David, I may sound like a broken record, I don’t think you’re third point “the point I would have raised over and over again is that this project is just providing for 27 units.  That’s not going to make a dent in the housing crisis” would have gained much traction. Everyone else saw this as part of the bigger picture on development of new housing. It was just one among many projects being considered. No single project is going to solve the housing problem.

    Instead, they might have made two points. First after discussion with a neighborhood resident last night, I think the biggest issue was that the developers did not appear to be dealing transparently with the neighborhood. That resident pointed out that other developers are doing a much better job of this. Compare and contrast could have been an effective counterpoint. I didn’t hear enough about this, and I could have been swayed on this individual project on that issue.

    Second, they could have put this more effectively in the context of the other projects and how a revised Trackside could fit into the overall solution while acknowledging that it was part of that solution.

    Instead, I heard much of the opposition as “moving the goalposts” which has been occurring in opposition to other projects. It’s unfortunate if the truly valid points got lost in the opposition’s message. I think it may have gotten muddied by who the neighbors allied with.

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