The Truth About the Cannery’s Connectivity Problems

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senior-housingBy Lydia Delis-Schlosser

Response to Eileen Samitz’s Op Ed Article last Sunday: Public discussion and vigorous debate are fundamental to the American political process. Analyses from differing perspectives can illuminate a path to reasonable compromises that result in fair, equitable, economically practical solutions. That process becomes subverted, however, when proponents of one view denigrate and disparage others who have legitimate but contrasting ideas.

That, unfortunately, has occurred throughout the past several years of deliberations about The Cannery project proposed for the site of the demolished Hunt-Wesson processing facility on East Covell Boulevard.

The op-ed article titled “A great project for Davis” that Eileen Samitz wrote was filled with misleading assertions about my work and the intentions of the owners of the adjacent land that had been envisioned for Covell Village.

The article falsely stated:

“Covell Village developers have been making such aggressive attempts to derail The Cannery project.”

TRUTH:

During the years I have worked with the partners who proposed the Covell Village project, they never did anything to trample The Cannery. We have, however, been critical of the lack of overall planning for the area and the project’s inadequate bike and pedestrian connections. The present design lacks sufficient off-street bike paths and properly located separated grade crossings, giving rise to concerns about bike and pedestrian commuter safety.

From our design experience we presented a bike and pedestrian infrastructure concept that we believed would provide solutions for the residents of The Cannery, the surrounding community and the city. We proposed ideas that would make The Cannery a better project.

The article falsely stated:

“They recently demanded that The Cannery pay $9 million for unnecessary bike paths and roads through their Covell Village agricultural land.”

TRUTH:

We have never demanded a monetary amount for anything. That assertion is a fabrication.

The article falsely stated:

“Early on in the planning process, The Cannery asked for an easement to allow a bike path along the edge of the Cranbrook Court apartments, owned by one of the Covell Village developers, but he refused.”

TRUTH:

The owners of Cranbrook were always willing to negotiate the easement. ConAgra did not want to coordinate an agreement and never formally or informally asked us to meet to explore possible opportunities.

When ConAgra officials first proposed The Cannery we met with them to offer our assistance in improving their connectivity problems – just as we had with Lewis Homes. ConAgra declined our overture, and stated in writing that “they had allowed for effective circulation and connectivity and were able to stand alone as a new neighborhood.”

The article also falsely stated:

“Physical challenges and the persistent easement denial by the Covell Village developers remain significant problems.”

TRUTH:

We have been willing to discuss possible solutions all along.

This past Oct. 22, we met at the Cranbrook site with City Council members, city staff and the engineer from ConAgra and walked along the property to examine the feasibility of a bike connection through that area. Participants there that day noted that existing buildings and mature trees challenged the ability to meet minimum width requirements. The bike path would have to pass not only over the Cranbrook property but also through the Pine Crest Apartments land, owned by another independent party, in order to reach the H Street tunnel. As far as we know, neither ConAgra nor the City has approached or negotiated with Pine Crest owners.

There was further concern because such a route would require young children riding to school to pass through a very long corridor in an isolated area hemmed in with chain link fencing on both sides and no escape routes until reaching the tunnel. That route, alongside the railroad tracks, behind the apartments, and past the storage side of Davis Rent All Center, would be dangerously secluded from nearby streets.

The article also falsely stated:

“…a bike tunnel to vacant agricultural land in the county is an obvious ‘camel’s nose under the tent’ regarding the development of the Covell Village site.”

TRUTH:

To the contrary, if The Cannery is approved and constructed without adequate bicycle transit infrastructure, its future residents, and existing residents in the impaced areas, including Wildhorse, would recognize and demand resolution of the existing deficiencies that endanger cyclists and pedestrians along Covell Boulevard between Pole Line Road and F Street and north on Pole line to Moore. If anything, that demand for infrastructure would encourage development of the adjoining Covell site with incorporation of such infrastructure as a condition of its approval. Inclusion of bike and pedestrian improvements now would, if anything, diminish public pressure for development of the adjoining land.

The article also falsely stated:

“Additional opposition by the Covell Village developers has been stirred up by their hired representative Lydia Delis-Schlosser, who is an active member of the local bike organizations… The Covell Village developer’s representative has persisted in trying to motivate the local bike groups and others to support all of the Covell Village developers’ unreasonable demands for excessive bike paths… Apparently influenced by Delis-Schlosser, the Bike Advisory Commission made a late request for yet a second multimillion dollar grade-separated crossing ‘to the east’ of The Cannery.”

TRUTH:

Eileen Samitz’s assertions are erroneous and constitute a personal attack on me. I am not a member of any of any local bike organizations.

The separated grade crossing to the east has been a requirement of Mayor Joe Krovoza, and requested by local bike organizations from day one of this project.

Ms. Samitz’s accusations are wildly off the mark. This was anything but a “late request.” Individual members of the of the City’s Bicycle Advisory Commission (BAC) have, for years, had concerns about transportation accessibility and bicycle routes to and from The Cannery project, and have expressed those concerns at multiple venues, only to see the project plans unchanged over the years.

I had absolutely no influence on the BAC’s pursuit of the second separated grade crossing to the east. The concept is not new, but it makes perfect sense, solves some of The Cannery’s bike and pedestrian connectivity problems, and becomes a key component of a comprehensive connectivity plan.

In Closing:

For the past year and a half we have spoken with countless community members, City Council members and planning commissioners. Everyone agreed that The Cannery needed better connectivity than what was initially proposed, prompting us to continue advocating the bike-pedestrian connectivity concept publicly with the hope that the decision makers would encourage the developers to incorporate the infrastructure necessary to provide safe bike and pedestrian connections that would integrate The Cannery with the surrounding community.

And that’s the truth.

Lydia has been a Davis resident for more than 35 years and is a UC Davis graduate. A professional designer and project coordinator, she also has headed countless volunteer activities to improve Davis School environments and sports programs. She has two sons who are graduates of Davis High School. An avid cyclist and believer in using alternative transportation as often as possible, she daily rides the Covell corridor to the Davis Athletic Club, Oak Tree Plaza Shopping Center and into the downtown, and is intimately aware of the shortcomings of these locales for recreational, commuting and avid cyclists.

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14 thoughts on “The Truth About the Cannery’s Connectivity Problems”

  1. B. Nice

    I’m confused I’ve heard over and over again, from multiply sources, that Cranbrook was unwilling to negotiate the easement, and would give no reason why. Is this false?

  2. SouthofDavis

    Lydia Delis-Schlosser wrote:

    > Public discussion and vigorous debate are fundamental
    > to the American political process.

    So is spin, half-truths and lies we get all three from Lydia…

    > Analyses from differing perspectives can illuminate a path to
    > reasonable compromises that result in fair, equitable, economically
    > practical solutions.

    To make it clear while I personally don’t care if the Cannery or Covell Village is ever developed, I would vote to give developers the OK to develop both parcels if I had the chance.

    > That process becomes subverted, however, when proponents of
    > one view denigrate and disparage others who have legitimate but
    > contrasting ideas.

    We do have a lot of lying anti-developer bashers in this town, but that does not mean that developers should become lying slow growth bashers…

    > The op-ed article titled “A great project for Davis” that Eileen Samitz wrote
    > was filled with misleading assertions about my work and the intentions of
    > During the years I have worked with the partners who proposed
    > the Covell Village project,

    You are trying to hide something here when you don’t give the years you have worked with the Covell Village developers since attorney Ron Johnson can stay with a straight face “During the years I have worked with Daniel Marsh he has not killed anyone”…

    > they never did anything to trample The Cannery.

    I’m guessing that you plan to hang your hat on the dictionary definition of “trample”, To beat down with the feet so as to crush or bruise when you claim that the “feet” of the Covell Park developers have never beat down on the Cannery…

    > We have, however, been critical of the lack of overall planning for the
    > area and the project’s inadequate bike and pedestrian connections.

    Without telling us who the “we” is you basically say you have done everything Eileen said you did, but are using different words to describe it.

    > The article falsely stated:
    > “They recently demanded that The Cannery pay $9 million for unnecessary
    > bike paths and roads through their Covell Village agricultural land.”
    > TRUTH: We have never demanded a monetary amount for anything.
    > That assertion is a fabrication.

    Did they ask the Cannery developers to pay for bike paths through Covell Village (while blocking bike paths across the street), jut not ask for a specific “monetary” amount?

    > The article falsely stated: “Early on in the planning process, The Cannery
    > asked for an easement to allow a bike path along the edge of the Cranbrook
    > Court apartments, owned by one of the Covell Village developers, but he refused.”
    > TRUTH: The owners of Cranbrook were always willing to negotiate the easement.
    > ConAgra did not want to coordinate an agreement and never formally or informally
    > asked us to meet to explore possible opportunities.

    You don’t mention anything about Lewis homes (ConAgra has not had the property back for that long)…

    > Eileen Samitz’s assertions are erroneous and constitute a personal
    > attack on me. I am not a member of any of any local bike organizations.

    If someone claimed I was a member of a bike organization in town I would not call it a “personal attack”. I’m not a (dues paying member) of any bike group but it is not a stretch for someone to think I am if I ride with the same group to the Montecito Dam a few times. Have you “ever had anything to do with” or “worked with” bike groups while not a dues paying “member”? Since you are not a member of any local bike organizations will you tell us that you always ride and train alone?

    The separated grade crossing to the east has been a requirement of Mayor Joe Krovoza, and requested by local bike organizations from day one of this project.

    > For the past year and a half we have spoken with countless community
    > members, City Council members and planning commissioners.

    Who is “we”?

    > Everyone agreed that The Cannery needed better connectivity than
    > what was initially proposed

    Not me (or many others I know) so this is a lie.

    > And that’s the truth.

    How ironic that she puts, “And that’s the truth” after stating that EVERYONE agrees that the Cannery needs better connectivity.

    > An avid cyclist and believer in using alternative transportation as often as possible,
    > she daily rides the Covell corridor to the Davis Athletic Club, Oak Tree Plaza Shopping
    > Center and into the downtown, and is intimately aware of the shortcomings of
    > these locales for recreational, commuting and avid cyclists.

    I also ride my bike most days in the same area (for years cutting through the Greenbrier office parking lot to get to the DAC), and while Davis may not be perfect (there is not a bike repair & air station like they have at the Co-Op every ¼ mile) it is basically a cycling Shangri-La compared to 99.9% of the US (Robb does not need to list the cities in the Netherlands that are better)…

  3. Davis Progressive

    SOD: the way you format that, i have no way to follow it.

    “I’m confused I’ve heard over and over again, from multiply sources, that Cranbrook was unwilling to negotiate the easement, and would give no reason why. Is this false? “

    i’d like to hear this as well.

  4. SouthofDavis

    Davis Progressive wrote:

    > SOD: the way you format that, i have no way to follow it.

    Lydia ended her post by writing in the third person making this past post a little tougher to follow, but basically I will say who wrote something to quote them like:

    “Davis Progressive wrote:”

    then put the quote after “>” (like many people do in the format of the mail software and newsgroup readers in the early 90’s):

    “> SOD: the way you format that, i have no way to follow it.”

  5. Alan Miller

    [quote]> Everyone agreed that The Cannery needed better connectivity than
    > what was initially proposed

    Not me (or many others I know) so this is a lie. [/quote]

    Wow, seriously?

    [quote][Davis] is basically a cycling Shangri-La[/quote]

    Wow, seriously? Fifth Street and most of downtown ain’t no Shangri La. I almost got clipped and flipped last night by a white pickup truck on Fifth. That don’t happen in Shangri La.

  6. SouthofDavis

    Alan Miller wrote:

    > Fifth Street and most of downtown ain’t no Shangri La.

    So ride on 4th (until you get to the bike path at L)…

    Why not write how hard it is to ride on I80 to “prove” Davis is not great for bikes?

  7. B. Nice

    [quote][Davis] is basically a cycling Shangri-La[/quote]

    This didn’t happen by accident. It happened because a majority of people in this town value bike connectivity and they fight for it.

  8. Eileen Samitz

    Sorry for this very late posting but I got home late from work and it has taken a while to write all of my responses. I will break it up into separate parts to address all the points an to make it easier to read.

    [quote]The article falsely stated:
    “Covell Village developers have been making such aggressive attempts to derail The Cannery project.”

    TRUTH:
    During the years I have worked with the partners who proposed the Covell Village project, they never did anything to trample The Cannery. We have, however, been critical of the lack of overall planning for the area and the project’s inadequate bike and pedestrian connections. The present design lacks sufficient off-street bike paths and properly located separated grade crossings, giving rise to concerns about bike and pedestrian commuter safety.
    From our design experience we presented a bike and pedestrian infrastructure concept that we believed would provide solutions for the residents of The Cannery, the surrounding community and the city. We proposed ideas that would make The Cannery a better project.
    [/quote]

    The problem here Lydia is that:

    1) The Covell Village developers are clearly trying to get a significant amount of bike and vehicular infrastructure and an emergency vehicle road but on their land for free, not for altruistic reasons, but to increase the monetary value of their land to develop it.

    2) It would seem to be the job of the City to do planning of connectivity and circulation, etc. for our community not yourself and the Covell Village developers. It would also seem that the City would be more objective as compared to the Covell Village developers are clearly have an agenda to lay the groundwork for developing Covell Village and want the Cannery to pay for that infrastructure. If the Covell Village developers are willing to pay the $9 million dollars for all of these roads through Covell Village, please let us know.

    3) It seems pretty clear that the Covell Village developers also seem to think that it is they who should be doing the city planning, rather than the City staff and the citizens of Davis. This was evident during the Measure X issue as well.

  9. Eileen Samitz

    [quote]The article falsely stated:
    “They recently demanded that The Cannery pay $9 million for unnecessary bike paths and roads through their Covell Village agricultural land.

    TRUTH:
    We have never demanded a monetary amount for anything. That assertion is a fabrication.
    [/quote]

    Let me re-phrase this Lydia:

    The Covell Village developers want $9 million worth of Covell Village infrastructure constructed on their 386 acres of ag land, but the Covell Village developers want the Cannery to pay for it. (Note: the map of all of these bike and vehicular roads was published in the Enterprise a few months ago when Lydia was advocating for it representing the Covell Village developers.)

    [quote]The article falsely stated:
    “Early on in the planning process, The Cannery asked for an easement to allow a bike path along the edge of the Cranbrook Court apartments, owned by one of the Covell Village developers, but he refused.”

    TRUTH:
    The owners of Cranbrook were always willing to negotiate the easement. ConAgra did not want to coordinate an agreement and never formally or informally asked us to meet to explore possible opportunities.
    When ConAgra officials first proposed The Cannery we met with them to offer our assistance in improving their connectivity problems – just as we had with Lewis Homes. ConAgra declined our overture, and stated in writing that “they had allowed
    [/quote]

    It is astonishing that you make this claim. There have been meetings with the Covell Village developers and bike advocates (including Bike Advisory Commission members) asking for an easement on the Cranbrook Court Apts. site owned by one of the Covell developers. WHY IS THE COVELL VILLAGE DEVELOPER NOT ALLOWING THE EASEMENT ON THE CRANBROOK COURT APTS. SITE?

  10. Eileen Samitz

    [quote]
    The article also falsely stated:
    “Physical challenges and the persistent easement denial by the Covell Village developers remain significant problems.”

    TRUTH:
    We have been willing to discuss possible solutions all along.
    This past Oct. 22, we met at the Cranbrook site with City Council members, city staff and the engineer from ConAgra and walked along the property to examine the feasibility of a bike connection through that area. Participants there that day noted that existing buildings and mature trees challenged the ability to meet minimum width requirements. The bike path would have to pass not only over the Cranbrook property but also through the Pine Crest Apartments land, owned by another independent party, in order to reach the H Street tunnel. As far as we know, neither ConAgra nor the City has approached or negotiated with Pine Crest owners.
    There was further concern because such a route would require young children riding to school to pass through a very long corridor in an isolated area hemmed in with chain link fencing on both sides and no escape routes until reaching the tunnel. That route, alongside the railroad tracks, behind the apartments, and past the storage side of Davis Rent All Center, would be dangerously secluded from nearby streets.
    [/quote]

    Ok. So the City and the Cannery developers were finally allowed to come onto the Cranbrook Court Apts. land to do measurements recently (which until now the Covell Village developer owner had denied). But, now you are bringing up all these reasons why you think it is not a good bike route? So are you opposing the Bike Advisory Commissions recommendation on this bike route? Pine Crest Apts. is irrelevant if your employers continue to deny the easement on Cranbrook Court Apts. since easements are needed on both apartment complexes.

  11. Eileen Samitz

    [quote]The article also falsely stated:
    “…a bike tunnel to vacant agricultural land in the county is an obvious ‘camel’s nose under the tent’ regarding the development of the Covell Village site.”

    TRUTH:
    To the contrary, if The Cannery is approved and constructed without adequate bicycle transit infrastructure, its future residents, and existing residents in the impaced areas, including Wildhorse, would recognize and demand resolution of the existing deficiencies that endanger cyclists and pedestrians along Covell Boulevard between Pole Line Road and F Street and north on Pole line to Moore. If anything, that demand for infrastructure would encourage development of the adjoining Covell site with incorporation of such infrastructure as a condition of its approval. Inclusion of bike and pedestrian improvements now would, if anything, diminish public pressure for development of the adjoining land.
    [/quote]

    This is another astonishing statement of yours. You imply that the Covell Village developers really aren’t trying to resurrect the development of the Covell Village site. But, the Covell Village developers have a letter in the public record from April 9, 2012 regarding their recommendations for the EIR scoping, and this is one revealing point they submitted reads:

    “Specific suggestions for additions to the EIR scope:

    1) Eventually the neighboring property will be developed. We suggest that consideration should be given to the overall interrelated impacts of the two pieces of property. For example, assuming a build-out of the neighboring property at 1,200 units would enable adequate evaluation of the potential impacts to the area. Such a comprehensive evaluation would provide a basis by which the City could assess fair-share financial obligations to the Cannery now and to the neighboring site when it develops.”

    Just to clarify, “the neighboring property” referred to by the Covell Village developers is the Covell Village site. So please, the intention of the Covell Village developers trying to jockey for a position to try to resurrect Covell Village is very clear. This is not about the altruism of the Covell Village developers.

    Finally, your last section I am not going to address because I already explained the late request issue was that the BAC did not request the second bike crossing until after a year after the EIR scoping period.

    In short, this is really about the political agenda that you have been hired to carry out by the Covell Village developers. All of it is in the best interest of the Covell Village developers, not our community. If you want to do something helpful, ask the Covell Village developer who owns Cranbrook Court Apartments to step up and allow the easement on this site. If he really wants to help, he would donate the easement to the community.

  12. B. Nice

    Wow. This all seems very ugly. I wish that the Bike Advisory Commission had been left out of it. They should be thanked for their service to the community not used as a pawn in this battle.

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