(from Press Release) At its meeting last night, the Davis City Council took several more key steps to advance the planning process for Innovation Parks on the City’s periphery. In particular, the Council adopted a set of guiding principles to be used in evaluating the proposed projects; and, provided City staff with the direction necessary to prepare the Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs), as required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
While procedural in nature, both actions were critical. In order to effectively frame the coming dialogue, the City Council needed a set of principles to lay out its vision for the proposals and how it would like to see them take shape over the next year. And CEQA law requires that EIRs be prepared for each project proposal, assessing the impacts of various project alternatives.
“Through the adopted guiding principles, we see what the City’s priorities will be when working with the project proponents. They have set a clear framework for discussion as we look to a potential special election,” said Jennifer Nitzkowski, 2014 Board Chair for the Davis Chamber of Commerce. “Additionally, without giving City staff direction concerning the project alternatives to be evaluated, the planning process would have stalled.”
Recently, some speculation has surfaced that housing may ultimately be required as an element in the Innovation Park proposals. “In order to remain compliant with CEQA law, the City needs to assess the environmental impacts housing would have if included as part of these projects,” commented Matt Yancey, CEO for the Davis Chamber. “It’s a legal requirement, plain and simple. By not including housing in the guiding principles, the Council clearly articulated zero intent to suddenly change course and require that housing be a required element in the projects.”
Last May, the City issued a “Request for Expressions of Interest” from parties interested in developing Innovation Parks. Specifically, the City looked to identify developers that want to build facilities that serve the research and technology sectors in Davis and create places for Davis technology companies to continue their growth and investment in our local economy. The City has received two applications and is expecting to receive at least one more.
With the guiding principles adopted and the EIRs underway, the City will now turn its attention to the economic analyses. Among other things, these will assess the rate at which demand in the local economy will fill the space planned for the Innovation Parks. These analyses are expected in March of 2015.
Continued planning and evaluation of Innovation Park proposals is consistent with the 2014-2016 Davis Business Community Shared Objectives for Collaboration with the City of Davis (Joint Objectives), adopted by the Chamber Board in conjunction with Davis Downtown and the Yolo Convention and Visitors Bureau.