Update on Economic Development Objectives

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Proposed Hotel Conference Center for the spot currently occupied by University Park Inn and Caffe Italia
Proposed Hotel Conference Center for the spot currently occupied by University Park Inn and Caffe Italia is one of the ten objectives laid out last August.

Last week during our discussion of the proposed innovation parks, it was brought up that insufficient attention was being paid to other parts of the city’s economic development plan. Last August, the Davis Chamber, Downtown Davis, and Yolo County Visitor’s Bureau put forth a joint list of objectives.

These objectives were developed by the three organizations in joint collaboration. They then came to the city as a unified voice.

We asked the city to provide us with an update on where the ten objectives stand.

The city noted that “this increased collaboration on their part has enabled the City to streamline certain of our communications efforts without sacrificing quality, for example reducing three separate 2×2 meetings each month (one with each organization) to one meeting per month, rotating the organizations each month.”

The city was hoping to have the joint meeting on August 25, but it may end up happening later due to scheduling conflicts and the change in leadership at the Chamber.

The city notes, “We still find challenges on who is taking lead and on realistic expectations about what can be accomplished with existing resources and over a year’s time.  That is not to say these objectives are useless – quite the contrary.  The objectives can help to focus all of the partners and provide a platform for continued conversations as we do our monthly check-ins.”

Here are the ten objectives with the response from the city provided verbatim.

Objective 1 Entitle the Nishi/Solano Park/Gateway/Downtown as a mixed use, innovation district that would provide space for start-ups and tech businesses, as well as much-needed high-density housing in close proximity to UC Davis and downtown.

The City was awarded nearly $600,000 in grant funds for sustainability planning for the Downtown University Gateway District, including a substantial contribution toward preparing the EIR. Consultant contracts are anticipated by the end of August. All community members are encouraged to join the conversation for the community based planning process at www.NishiGateway.org.

Objective 2 Arts Alliance: Continue to support the creation and formation of a private/public partnership that supports and coordinates local artists and arts organizations, promotes and celebrates the uniqueness of Davis cultural resources and attracts regional, national and global recognition and visitors.

In September, the City Council will be considering a contract with a non-profit agency such as Yolo Arts for identifying the arts district activities, forming and nurturing an Arts Alliance, and related activities. Some of the funding will be from Development Agreement contributions from The Cannery. Other funding sources will need to be identified.

Objective 3 Richards Tunnel Gateway/Welcome Arch: Meet critical deadlines as described by project MOUs. Phase 1 is now currently estimated to be completed by mid-October 2013.

The City has applied for federal TIGER grant funds for design and engineering of the Davis Arch and other improvements to the Richards Boulevard corridor. Decisions on funding awards are anticipated in early 2016.  (This project has grown from its original concept, and the timeline for completion has extended with that growth!)

Objective 4 Innovation Park Task Force: Support the completion of the Task Force Recommendations as described in the Council Resolution’s Action Plan in order to provide opportunities for tech, advanced manufacturing and R&D company retention, attraction and growth.

One to three applications for Innovation Centers are anticipated by September 2014. EIR and project management consultant contracts are anticipated by the end of August.  In July, the City Council appointed two Councilmembers (Davis, Swanson) to serve on a subcommittee charged with identifying overarching expectations for Innovation Center projects that represent community goals.

Objective 5 Buy Local Davis: Continue to develop and execute a program to shift 10% of community purchasing power to local businesses, with an emphasis on locally owned businesses.

This is an effort of Downtown Davis and Chamber.  Downtown Davis has developed an app highlighting Davis businesses and has a logo that implores people shop Davis, as example.

Objective 6 Downtown Parking: Better manage the supply of downtown parking by installing way-finding sings and accurately determining daily peak utilization of existing parking capacity. Support an action plan that will increase the supply of parking in Downtown Davis.

In late 2013, the City Council “accepted” the report of the Downtown Parking Task Force but has not taken any specific actions for implementation.  This item will return to the City Council for additional discussion in the fall.

Objective 7 Densification: Develop and adopt policies to encourage densification, especially in the Core Area, as foreseen in the General Plan, providing for additional mixed-use development and accessory dwelling units. This work should clarify any inconsistencies that exist between the various (and often conflicting) design guidelines and zoning.

(The city did not have an update here but noted: “Objective 7 is more of an ongoing effort, policies that council considers as they consider projects.”)

Objective 8 Hotel/Conference Center: Support the rapid entitlement and construction of a conference center with hotel and ample parking in Downtown.

The owner of the University Park Inn and Suites has submitted an application for a hotel conference facility on Richards Boulevard. The City convened a series of stakeholder meetings in June to provide input on preliminary plans. Public hearings are anticipated in fall 2014, after revisions are received from the project team.

Objective 9 CalTrans Community Identity Signage Program: Investigate and identify opportunities with this program for signage along I-80 and Highway 113.

YCVB was working on this one, but they did not get very far with CalTrans.

Objective 10 RDA Successor Agency: Monitor and provide input.

Oversight Board meetings continue to be scheduled as needed. AB 2493, if revised as the City has requested, would allow use of the 2010 bond proceeds for critical redevelopment efforts, such as Nishi, Richards Boulevard improvements, and the hotel conference facility.

—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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21 thoughts on “Update on Economic Development Objectives”

  1. John

    I think the real thrust of Michael’s recent comments was that few of the ten objectives were prompting either community dialogue or specific action steps from either the businesses and consumers in town on the one hand, or the City on the other hand. Perhaps Michael can jump in and clarify what he really meant. My interpretation might be wrong.

    With respect to City actions the article states the following: “The city was hoping to have the joint meeting on August 25, but it may end up happening later due to scheduling conflicts and the change in leadership at the Chamber. The city notes, “We still find challenges on who is taking lead and on realistic expectations about what can be accomplished with existing resources and over a year’s time. That is not to say these objectives are useless – quite the contrary. The objectives can help to focus all of the partners and provide a platform for continued conversations as we do our monthly check-ins.”

    I echo the City’s statement wondering “who is taking lead and on realistic expectations about what can be accomplished.” What are the relative roles of Davis Downtown and the Chamber of Commerce and the City of Davis and UCD? It seems that all four of those organizations have a part to play in achieving the objectives, and having them collaborating together would seem to be preferable to each acting separately. Perhaps Michael, as the President of Davis Downtown, can shed some light on both the respective roles and any attempts at collaboration.

    1. DT Businessman

      My question to David was why is he focusing on only one element of ED if we’re at such a critical community crossroads. It’s a pretty simple question. And it remains unanswered. Why all the effort in delving into hidden motivations and sub-plots?

      PS: Given some disingenuous comments that have followed (i.e. failing to differentiate between covering and championing), I’ll rephrase the question. Given we’re at such a critical community crossroads, why champion only one priority out of a set of ED priorities? Is it prudent to only champion one ED priority? Why not champion the full set?

      -Michael Bisch

      1. John

        Michael, there have been multiple articles in the Vanguard regarding the activities to date that pertain to Objective One. There are three partners in that Objective. Two of those partners, the City and the land owners have announced a timeline where the Measure R/J vote will happen at the earliest in November 2015. The third partner, UCD, is hesitant that the Measure R/J vote will happen that soon, probably more like November 2016 or later. Given that on the ground reality, what is there to champion?

      2. John

        Regarding Objective Two, again what is there to champion that isn’t already being championed by John Natsoulas? Look at all the tangible progress that has been made in covering walls all over Davis with murals.

        The recent ceramics show was a major draw.

        What isn’t being championed that you want championed?

      3. John

        Regarding Objective Three, while the City waits for word on the TIGER grants, what activities are taking place? Or is everything dependent on the Federal funding? What can be championed absent that funding?

      4. John

        Objective Four is what it is.

        Regarding Objective Five, as President of Davis Downtown, the creator of the Buy Local davis app, what PR materials have you shared with the Vanguard? If you can’t walk the walk, how can you expect David to talk the talk?

      5. John

        Regarding Objective Six, Downtown Parking has gotten extensive coverage in the Vanguard. There appear to be diametrically opposed factions in this issue. Doby and Jennifer on one side and you and others on the other side. Which side’s cause should the Vanguard champion?

      6. John

        Objective Seven Densification is a project by project effort. Interestingly enough the most recent renovation project proposed for 3rd and G Streets is only for two stories, and is supported by the Chamber (for sure) and Davis Downtown (I believe). Why aren’t the Chamber and davis Downtown howling about this lost densification opportunity? Anything less than three stories would appear to be a violation of Objective 7. Four stories like the Chen Building would be much more appropriate, as well as a much better championing of Objective 7. In your opinion should the Vanguard be screaming about that Objective 7 failure?

      7. John

        For Objective Eight the Vanguard has covered the Hotel Conference Center progress in very positive terms and frequently. What additional Objective 8 championing are you looking for?

  2. Davis Progressive

    “This is an effort of Downtown Davis and Chamber. Downtown Davis has developed an app highlighting Davis businesses and has a logo that implores people shop Davis, as example.”

    so is this working Mr. Bisch?

  3. Mr. Toad

    Whatever has been done on parking to date the problem seems solved. Whenever I go downtown there is never any problem finding parking. Even when I go at peak times there is plenty of parking. I don’t even need to go around the block once.

      1. Mr. Toad

        And June, July, September and December. I think its important to recognize that parking is only a partial year problem because it raises the unit cost of solving it as if its a year round problem.

        1. DT Businessman

          Yep, just like classrooms, restaurants, movie theaters, roads, power grids, water projects, waste water plants, etc.. It’s a well known fact that planners always design infrastructure capacity around off-peak, off-season demand.

          And we should definitely design all our infrastructure around Toad’s anecdotal info instead of the actual counts.

          -Michael Bisch

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