The recommendation of the Yolo County Planning Commission was for no development along city edges with the exception of Davis where there were not one but three proposals including the 2100 senior housing units at Oeste Ranch, and perhaps as shocking a 30 acre development to the east of Mace Blvd across from the current Arco Station.
The Yolo County staff’s recommendation was to oppose the Northwest Quadrant development proposal as they did not see it as a source of revenue for the county. Instead they recommended a joint special study area with city and county for this development.
The City of Davis came and delivered a united front.
First, Mayor Sue Greenwald spoke. She strongly favored a continuation of the pass-through agreement giving Davis and Davis’ City Council control over edge development. She considered a joint study session a violation of this pass-through agreement and this trust. The joint study group was not appropriate.
Greenwald did not oppose senior housing or special needs housing, however, she believes that the best plan should be determined by the City Council. She appreciated that county had financial problems as county services outpaces development proceeds, but argued that housing is not a good source of revenue (something that the staff recommendation by the county agreed) and argued that even retail development has diminishing returns.
Davis City Staffer Katherine Hess delivered a letter from City Manager Bill Emlen. She simply stated that development on the Davis periphery should be made by the city through a city process and she asked that the Board of Supervisors would concur with that.
Councilmember Don Saylor was in full agreement with Mayor Greenwald. He said that he appreciated that the county has real issues that need to be addressed and that the destinies of the county and city are intertwined. Davis has a process for dealing with its development and will be undergoing its own general plan update. He saw that as the appropriate agency and forum to address development issues. Moreover, while Davis does have a history of peripheral development it does not have a process for the Northwest Quadrant. He believes there are issues with housing for seniors and this may not be the most appropriate location or the best use of site given the distance from the core downtown area. Moreover he suggested that commercial development at Mace and I-80 are not “obvious” for us and mentioned that there are several commercial projects already in the works and does not want a new development area outside of the Mace Curve that could be detrimental to this development.
In general, the two members of the Davis City Council and one city staffer were united on this issue that the city and not the county should be the agency involved in determining where, when, and how peripheral development occurs. There were concerns about process and also specifics in this development.
Several Davis residents and notable progressives also spoke against this proposal.
- Rachael Livingston was concerned about congestion, traffic, air quality, and overall growth. She felt that this project was huge as it could add up to 6000 new people. While she too is a supporter of the need for senior housing, she was strongly opposed to changes in the pass through agreement and urged that there be additional meetings so that Davis residents unable to make this meeting could give their input into the process.
- Pam Nieberg added that this was bigger than the failed Covell Village project that was defeated by a 60-40 vote. And she hoped we could count on our own supervisors, Helen Thomson and Mariko Yamada to stand up for us.
- Norma Turner was stunned by this very proposal and very uncomfortable with the idea of a joint city-county study group which she saw as a ploy to inject the county in the process and produce the same results as those that proponents of this plan are seeking.
- Finally David Suder did not understand why Davis was singled out for growth and had a different approach from the rest of the county development. He argued city planning should be at the city level rather than county and echoed the concern that a large number of constituents were working and could not make this daytime meeting, thus he urged an evening meeting, preferably in Davis and in a larger meeting facility.
I will add having attended the Davis City Council meeting, that the Davis City Council was in a rare moment united on this issue and believed that the county needs to honor its pass-through agreements and that growth on the periphery of Davis should be determined by the Davis City Council rather than the County Board of Supervisors.
—Doug Paul Davis reporting