The developers have formally filed their application for the Mace Ranch Innovation Center, but the bigger news may be polling data released from an April poll conducted by JMM Research that shows strong early support for the Innovation Park Project.
Between April 11 and April 18, the polling company conducted a 400 interview survey within the city of Davis about the Mace Ranch Innovation Center. These were characterized as “likely voters” with a margin of error of plus or minus five percent.
They read the following description: “In November, there may be a measure on the ballot asking voters whether they would support annexing approximately 200 acres of farmland at the northeast intersection of I-80 and Mace Boulevard. The purpose of annexing approximately 200 acres of land would be to create an Innovation Park to provide new space for growing Davis-based businesses and research facilities for life science, food and agriculture science, software research and development, clean energy and all other types of research that would support and enhance UC Davis researchers. Zero housing will be built in this project.”
They continued, “Would you likely support or oppose annexing approximately 200 acres of farmland at the northeast intersection of I-80 and Mace Boulevard to build a new Davis Innovation research center?”
The result showed 60 percent of the voters supporting the plan, 29 percent opposing, and 10 percent having no opinion. Most of the public sees the direction of the city headed in the right direction (65-22 percent). UC Davis has an 81 percent favorable rating. Then-Mayor Pro Tem Dan Wolk had a high favorable rating (at 50-12 percent).
Measure R was both well-known and popular. 64 percent of the voters described themselves as being familiar with Measure R and 75 percent (roughly the percentage that passed Measure R’s renewal), had a favorable rating.
They test favorability ratings of local politicians. As we noted, Mayor Dan Wolk had the highest favorable, while former Mayor Sue Greenwald was the least popular, with 31 percent having a favorable view and 32 percent having an unfavorable view. Former Councilmember Michael Harrington had a 24 percent favorable rating, 24 percent unfavorable, 24 percent with no difference and 28 percent with no difference.
Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed were Democrats, 19 percent Republican. It was a 45-55 percent split on gender. Forty-six percent characterized themselves as liberal, 44 percent moderate, with only 11 percent conservative. Fifty percent said they made $90,000 or more with only 13 percent making $30,000 or less.
Age breakdown: 21 percent were over 70, another 21 percent in their 60s, another 21 percent in their 50s, 17 percent in their 40s, ten percent in their 30s, and nine percent less than 30.
The bottom line, it is early in the process. Questions will arise. But the project starts with a strong 60 percent support and less than 30 percent in opposition.
The applicants write, “The proposal comes in the aftermath of a determination by the Innovation Park Task Force that there is an increasing demand for space for technological research and development uses and inadequate sites within the City of Davis to accommodate current and future demand.”
The project will require the annexation of roughly 229 acres of land and the development itself will be on 212 acres.
“The Project site is of an adequate size to address the City’s need for an innovation and technology park and is ideally located since it is contiguous to the intersection of Mace Boulevard and Interstate 80 and has fiber optic capabilities immediately available,” they write.
“Additionally, agricultural lands with newly adopted conservation easements abut the property to the east and north; therefore, annexation and development of the property will result in a distinct urban edge leading up to a logical permanent growth boundary. The years that the City has spent researching and planning for this use and the strong merits of this site together strongly suggest City approval of the Mace Ranch Innovation Center is warranted.”
They see the innovation center as “an area where leading-edge technology institutions cluster and connect with start-ups, businesses incubators, and accelerators as well as the University of California, Davis. The Center will offer a mix of building types and uses including office, research and development, prototyping, light manufacturing, flex space and support retail.”
They argue “Davis technology companies are also making technological advances in a manner that is environmentally conscious. (Marrone Bio Innovations, Arcadia Biosciences, Novozymes, DMG Mori Seiki, FMC/Schilling Robotics, Blue Oak Energy, Sierra Energy, to name a few). Providing the needed space for such companies to grow in Davis promotes the continued success of business entities with Davis’s social and environmental conscience, thereby furthering the community’s commitment to environmental sustainability.”
They see the project as “a model for sustainability.” They write, “An important aspect of the planning process has been utilizing urban forms, transportation management systems, and LEED building practices that reduce energy consumption, vehicle miles traveled, and related greenhouse gas emissions. The Project incorporates onsite energy generation components such as solar and wind. Open spaces, both planned and natural, will be used in a manner that is drought conscious, aims to handle and filter storm water, utilize strategic plantings for shade and air purification, and encourages groundwater recharge through the use of impervious surfaces.”
The center, they write, will “respect,” “protect” and “connect” the “City to agriculture through the use of appropriate setbacks, view sheds, and bicycle trail connections.”
They add, “The Applicant understands that the success of the Mace Ranch Innovation Center cannot occur in a bubble. An innovation center for the 21st century needs to provide a space in which to work, collaborate, create and relax; it must also be highly integrated with an urbanized area which provides support services, convenience, connectivity and culture.”
Additionally, “The Project is designed with greenways, bike trails, a grid street pattern and other pedestrian friendly elements that internally link the center together from north to south and externally tie it to existing adjacent residential communities to the west.”
The applicant proposes the Mace Ranch Innovation Center to achieve the following objectives:
- Expeditiously provide a suitable space in which to retain existing local businesses, such as Schilling Robotics, and to attract and grow innovative high-value added, technology-oriented companies.
- Utilize land immediately adjacent to the City boundary with adequate and easily-extended infrastructure, including but not limited to fiber optics for high-speed internet.
- Provide an integrated, high-quality campus-like project offering a variety of lot sizes that will respond to the current and future needs of technology start-ups, industry leaders, research and development, and products manufacturing firms; allowing for a full range of research to market uses.
- Contribute to both job creation and tax base enhancement while supporting the University of California, Davis, as a research institution.
- Utilize a site with existing access to Interstate 80 for the convenience and benefit of employees, collaborators, suppliers, and goods movement.
- Support and build upon the City of Davis’s existing successes by offering a logical extension to the 2nd Street technology corridor.
- Develop an aesthetically pleasing site plan and architectural building design that incorporates energy and water efficiency, provides for non-automotive forms of transit, and is situated to receive and utilize recycled water when available.
- Create a viable retail component, including hotel and conference center, that will primarily serve the needs of the innovation center, increase retail-related employment opportunities and contribute to tax revenue generation.
- Encourage recreation and non-automotive modes of transportation by creating trail connections and improvements that enhance and encourage pedestrian/bicycle circulation and connectivity between the project site and surrounding areas.
- Preserve and protect agriculture through the planning and development of property which will result in a distinct urban edge leading up to a logical permanent growth boundary.
- Maintain the City’s slow growth policy by prohibiting residential uses within the site, thereby emphasizing the sole objective to rapidly achieve economic growth and financial stability.
- Reflect the feedback captured through the Innovation Park Task Force’s planning, research and outreach, and incorporate as many of the consensus concepts as are feasible.
—David M. Greenwald reporting