Addressing (Some of the) Concerns of the Binning Neighbors

The back of the existing neighborhood as seen from the southeast corner of the proposed development.
The back of the existing neighborhood as seen from the southeast corner of the proposed development.

On Thursday the Vanguard met with four members of an eight-person group selected to represent the Binning neighborhood. They expressed concerns with plans to develop the roughly 218-acre innovation park within about 150 feet of the backyards of the southern-most residents of the development that was built way back in the late 1950s/early 1960s.

“We have lived in this neighborhood, some of us for over 45, 47 years and we have studied all of these proposals and went to the various meetings of the city council chambers and the scoping meeting at Emerson (Junior High School) and from what we see we have some grave concerns about the way this proposal is being shown to us in terms of size, its scope, and the way in which it will impact us,” Sherrie Venezia explained.

Among these concerns were flooding issues, a 150-foot buffer, a 10-story hotel, and traffic and circulation problems.

The whole neighborhood is also concerned about the potential plan to put in a hotel that would rise 150 feet. Ms. Venezia explained that this hotel would look down upon the neighbors “who have lived in relative rural tranquility looking at an empty field.”

As another resident put it, “This is our home… It’s sort of peculiar that someone wants to come within 200 feet of your home and build a thirteen story hotel and a large industrial park.”

A survey was conducted by the neighbors. Forty-nine of 55 respondents were opposed to the planned innovation park, with only three in support. Fifty of 55 opposed a Measure R vote to annex the land in the Binning Tract into the city.

Friday’s article was designed to express the concerns of the residents who live in Binning about the proposed innovation park.  At this point, the Vanguard will provide additional information that we were able to track down in response to those concerns.

Details are still being worked out and, as such, the current proposal is a work in progress. In the project description, the applicants note, “The Project is envisioned as a new technology hub for Davis, intended to serve an array of research and technology companies interested in locating and growing in Davis.”

“The Project plans for a unique business environment, supporting research and development, technology, and science- and engineering-based companies, eager to expand their products and services,” they continue. “The Project will support an environment of innovation in flexible formats: incubation spaces for small start-up firms, facilities for established mid-size or large size companies; to large floor-plate, flexible building spaces for high-tech research and light manufacturing; and potentially corporate headquarters. Employee-support services and retail will create an active landscape for collaboration and innovation.”

The project proposed “an innovation research and office campus on approximately 208 acres of land adjacent the northwest boundary of Davis City Limits.” It will include up to 4 million square feet of building space.

The innovation center proposes: “200-room hotel with convention center; 2-6 stories of tech offices, R&D work spaces, incubation spaces for start-ups, large floor plate flex spaces, and other ancillary employee-oriented retail/supporting services, such as, restaurants, investment firms, paralegal services, day care.”

There will be 52 acres of open space including public areas, plazas, gathering areas, and drainage areas and another 17 acres of roads and circulation.

They note, “The Project assumes approximately 200,000 square feet of hotel uses to be located near the entrance of the site, from John Jones Road and along Highway 113. It is anticipated that the Project would include a 200-room hotel with convention and meeting spaces, food service facilities, and exhibition areas. “

Contrary to the understanding by the neighbors, the nearest structure will not be 200 feet from their homes, but rather 400 feet from Binning Tract. In addition, there will be no 13 story buildings.

However, the project description does note a “maximum building height of 140 feet.”

Furthermore, the campus/innovation center will not attract heavy industrial users.

The developer has provided the Vanguard with proposed site lines and maintains that the residents will not be able to see the structures from their homes.

The proposal notes, “Phase 1 will also include portion of the open space directly south of the Binning Farms community.” The plan currently calls for the developers to build trees that would act as screens on the northern area of the site nearest to Binning.

“Phase 3 (approximately 56 acres) will include development of the R&D/Flex space land use parcels, and the open space areas directly adjoining these parcels. Phase 4 (approximately 27 acres) will include the remaining portion of the site,” they write.

That area would be the final phased to be built – at least 15 to 20 years out at a point in time when the trees will be mature.

The current view looking south from Binning
The current view looking south from Binning
The view looking South from Binning proposed under the Innovation Park plan
The view looking South from Binning proposed under the Innovation Park plan
The current view of one of the southern most homes in Binning
The current view of one of the southern most homes in Binning
The proposed view with the addition of the trees and the build out of the park
The proposed view with the addition of the trees and the build out of the park

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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    1. hpierce

      Agreed… particularly distance from dining/entertainment venues.  Also distance to any transportation facilities other than 113.  Probably not a real good idea.

    2. Don Shor

      In fact, it seems very odd to me that a 200-room hotel would be acceptable, but 200 rooms available for rent would not be. We have a 0.3% apartment vacancy rate in Davis. Even high-end apartments with flex leases would be useful. I assume these developers know what they are doing, but do they really have evidence that a 200-room hotel located on Hwy 113 is going to have reasonable occupancy? Does that really meet the community’s needs best?

      1. David Greenwald

        My guess – and only a guess – they view this as serving the facility and using it for conferences. I don’t know enough about demand needs particularly when they are planning a Hotel Conference Center at Richards and there is the one on the UC Davis campus.

      2. hpierce

        Wonder if it’s a “throwaway”… one tactic of ‘negotiation’, when there are several items of contention, is to put a really big, objectionable item out there, even if you have no intention to follow through, with the idea that if you give it up, you’re seen as maing a major compromise.  To protect the other issues that are truly important to you.

    3. Matt Williams

      Don, given the nature of the companies targeted for the Innovation Park and the synergies with UCD’s core research competencies in the agricultural sciences … “best in the World” which is hard for me as a graduate of Cornell University to say without feeling disloyal to my alma mater … it is very easy to forsee a regular schedule of educational meetings of agriculturally-related technical societies and food-safety associations keeping a 200-room convention center very busy.

      When the Association of American Water Agencies (AWWA) holds its semi-annual meeting in Sacramento it fills both the 503-bed Hyatt Regency and  the 503-bed Sheraton Grand, as does the meetings of The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA.  If Davis wants to attract society/association meetings of that type, the proposed downtown Convention Center combined with Hallmark Inn and the other Davis motels will be insufficient capacity.

  1. zaqzaq

    140 foot tall buildings and six story buildings would not be a desired neighbor by any residential neighborhood in Davis regardless of buffer space.  The site along the Covell curve is more compatible with this type of building.  What are the designed improvements for John Jones Rd.  Does it include adding traffic lights and additional lanes from Covell to CR 29?  Is there sufficient room alongside SR 113 to add lanes?  Is it more feasible to have the project connecting with Covell from a traffic flow perspective?

    1. Alan Miller

      “140 foot tall buildings and six story buildings would not be a desired neighbor by any residential neighborhood in Davis”


      Need I say it???   IT’S   . . . .    NOT    . . . .  IN     . . . . . . . DAVIS.

  2. Anon

    A survey was conducted by the neighbors. Forty-nine of 55 respondents were opposed to the planned innovation park, with only three in support. Fifty of 55 opposed a Measure R vote to annex the land in the Binning Tract into the city.

    Just as I noted before, these people do not want development on that property.  But they don’t own the property.  IMO, it is not reasonable to expect an owner of prime real estate not to develop their own property solely for the benefit of next door neighbors “view”.

    Among these concerns were flooding issues, a 150-foot buffer, a 10-story hotel, and traffic and circulation problems.

    Again, flooding is a non-issue.  First, the law requires that the developer not cause any more flooding to neighbors because of improvements made to the developers property.  Secondly, any improvements the developers make to prevent flooding on the developer’s property, e.g. drainage ponds, etc. will inure to the benefit of the Binning Tract folks.

    The 150 foot buffer planted with trees that remain foliaged all year round will provide a beautiful green screen to the development, actually enhancing the Binning Tract aethestics.

    It is my understanding the hotel will be no more than 6 stories.  Secondly, it is at the far end of the development, fairly far away from the Binning Tract.

    Traffic is always a consideration for any new development, be it residential or business.  This is the only issue the Binning Tract folks have raised IMO that has any traction.

    This seems like a very odd location for a 200-room hotel.”

    Actually it makes perfect sense.  If this innovation park is to be the home of a number of smaller tech businesses, it would be prudent to have a hotel and conference center for those visiting the tech businesses.  What would be nice is if the community could co-use the conference center for community events at times it is not being used for business.  This is precisely where the city needs to make some demands of the developer so this innovation park is a win-win for everyone.

    1. hpierce

      A 200 unit hotel would serve 73,000 plus patrons/year.  [assuming 1 person/room/day]  Have no idea what a profitable occupancy rate would be, but given holidays, etc., somebody knowledgeable of such matters would have to convince me that such a hotel is viable.

    2. Davis Progressive

      i agree with anon, it makes sense for the innovation park to have a hotel if they are planning on attracting visiting professionals and experts.  where is the nearest existing hotel?  downtown?  uc davis?

  3. Alan Miller

    “Fifty of 55 opposed a Measure R vote to annex the land in the Binning Tract into the city.”

    Need I say it???  THEY   . . . .    ARE . . . .    NOT    . . . .  IN     . . . . . . . DAVIS.

    1. BR

      This not a matter of representation.  Regardless of whether the Binning residents have a vote in a Measure R would unlikely sway the outcome considering the population of Davis vs. Binning residents.

      To be clear however, it is not accurate to say Binning residents are without taxation.  Binning residents pay Davis school taxes and Springlake fire district contracts Davis to provide Binning services (with the taxes paid by Binning residents).  Most of the Binning residents are VERY long term residents of the Davis community and take our commitment to Davis seriously.  We eat in Davis, shop in Davis and operate businesses in Davis, generating sales and income tax.  Rest assured, Binning residents absolutely are a supportive, tax paying element of the Davis community.

      Davis residents should be concerned about the impact such a large development will have on the quaint community they have grown to love.  The impact felt more harshly by Binning residents will be felt throughout this town.

    1. Anon

      Or perhaps what the Binning Tract residents really want is consideration regardless of not owning the adjacent land, regardless of not living within city limits, and regardless of their inability to vote in a Measure R election!  So what the City Council has to decide is how much consideration should they give to Binning Tract folks’ complaints in light of the totality of the circumstances?  Especially in light of the fact that flooding mitigation on developer land will inure to the benefit of the Binning Tract folks; a beautiful buffer of evergreen trees will be provided for the enjoyment of Binning Tract’s view; any innovation park approved will have to provide the city with much needed tax revenue that benefits the entire city; and more likely than not a lot of community amenities will be provided for the project for ALL Davisites to enjoy, including the Binning Tract folks.

  4. Aggie

    The Binning Tract residents are the canaries in the coal mine. Being dismissive or disrespectful of this group is a big mistake. They have enough critical mass to muster a lawsuit that could tie up the West Covell proposal for a very long time if they get angry enough. In addition, they have strong natural allies to the south (that are residents of Davis) – the University Retirement Community and the west Davis coalition that sued UC Davis to stop the connection of West Village to Russell Boulevard. They are all going to get creamed by the traffic, so the project better be something pretty special if the developers want to convince the voters west of 113 to support intense urbanization at this location.

    I frankly can’t figure out why Parlin would even consider buying this fight. They have entitlements for low density residential on their northern piece and the highest and best use of their southern piece is probably senior housing (similar to what Streng and CHA have been pitching for the Covell Village property for the last five years or so – a bad idea across the street from Nugget but a great idea across the street from the Sutter complex) because of the proximity to URC, Sutter Davis, and all the other medical offices further down West Covell and on John Jones Road.

    1. Matt Williams

      Aggie, what have you seen in the dialogue from the Davis Innovation Park team that is either dismissive or disrespectful? Based on the interactions I saw at the Davis Senior High School Library public session, the members of the development team were universally open and attentive to the issues that the Binning Tract residents were raising in that session.

      Based on my personal experience with the proposed Vineyards at El Macero development, where the 410 single family homes and 37 condominiums in El Macero were the equivalent of the 57 single family homes in Binning Tract, the potential options for suing in order to stop the development were almost non-existent. The fiscal where-with-all was definitely there in El Macero, but as long as the flooding issues were completely/thoroughly dealt with in the Environmental Impact Report, legal leverage points appeared to be completely absent.

      So the question is, what fight would Davis Innovation Center (SKK/Hines, which you referred to as Parlin) be buying into?

  5. Aggie


    EIR – process errors – 2:1 adjacent ag mitigation requirement

    Now that I’m being stalked by both the moderator and a member of the editorial board (who also seems to have some sort of operational role on the Vanguard) – I don’t think I care to generate more free content for David Greenwald right now.

  6. BR

    Davis residents should be concerned regarding the size and scope of this proposal.  Currently this proposal suggests a 150 ft hotel.  Davis residents should be concerned about the legitimacy of this size of hotel being supported by the research park.  To put this into perspective, only the Sheraton Grand, Hyatt Regency and Holiday Inn in downtown Sacramento are larger.  The Embassy Suites in downtown Sacramento is only 92 feet.  It is more likely this hotel will be filled with over flow from Sacramento with the  new arena in downtown.  Davis residents should be concerned about this degree of urban sprawl.

    The developers are playing down the mass of this structure.  It was earlier asked how was the developer dismissive.  The answer is simple.  When they had the community meeting, their renderings showed a hotel 1/3 the size in question.  When confronted with this, it was exactly dismissed as an oversight (pretty unlikely considering the detail of the rest of the information).

    If Davis residents understand the huge size and scope of this project and how it will impact the Davis community, a measure R vote will not pass.

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