Analysis: Study Shows the Huge Cost of Current Urban Design Practices

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Mixed-use-housing

When the idea of innovation parks first started gaining traction, everyone in Davis ran as far and as fast from the idea of housing in the parks as possible. However, from a land use and urban design standpoint, the idea of putting mixed-use housing within the innovation park, where the people who worked at the park would be able to live and work, is attractive.

From the standpoint of climate change and reduction of VMT (vehicle miles traveled), the addition of mixed-use housing would hugely mitigate impacts that still need to be studied and disclosed in the EIR.

Now a report from Todd Litman, a scholar at the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, studied the impact of the US’s vast numbers of low-density suburban developments and what he finds is staggering.   Released last week, the report finds that “urban sprawl costs the American economy more than US$1 trillion annually.”

These costs include greater spending on infrastructure, public service delivery and transportation. Moreover, the study finds that Americans living in sprawled communities directly bear an astounding $625 billion in extra costs.

In addition, all residences and businesses, regardless of where they are located, bear an extra $400 billion in external costs.

They conclude, “Correcting this problem provides an opportunity to increase economic productivity, improve public health and protect the environment.” The report identifies specific smarter growth policies that can lead to healthier, safer and wealthier communities in both developed and developing countries.

The problem is in many ways obvious. And it will likely play out in the innovation parks if we do not mitigate the impact. By building sprawl, it increases the distance between homes, businesses, services and jobs, which raises the cost of providing infrastructure and public services by at least 10 percent and up to 40 percent.

“The most sprawled American cities spend an average of $750 on infrastructure per person each year, while the least sprawled cities spend close to $500,” the report finds. While that may not seem like a huge difference, the report finds “that acting to implement smarter urban growth policies on a global scale could reduce urban infrastructure capital requirements by more than US$3 trillion over the next 15 years.”

Smart growth is defined in opposition to urban sprawl – “Compact, connected and coordinated urban development. Smart growth cities and towns have well-defined boundaries, a range of housing options, a mix of residential and commercial buildings, and accessible sidewalks, bike lanes and public transportation. By reducing per capita land consumption and infrastructure and transportation costs, smart urban growth policies can deliver significant economic, social and environmental benefits.”

Mr. Litman, lead author of the report, said: “Smart growth is not anti-suburb. Instead, it ensures that diverse housing options are available and incentivizes households to choose the most resource-efficient options that meet their needs.”

“We are now seeing growth in demand by millennials and the elderly for affordable, compact housing in accessible and multimodal neighborhoods. However, current government policies tend to favor larger, less-accessible homes,” he continued.

For example, Mr. Litman said, “in most communities there are strict limits on development densities, restrictions on multifamily housing and excessive parking requirements, which drive up housing costs and encourage sprawl. Consumer preferences are changing; government regulations on housing should too.”

The report argues, “Sprawl is bad for your health. Americans who live in sprawled neighbourhoods are between two and five times more likely to be killed in car accidents and twice as likely to be overweight as those in more walkable neighbourhoods.”

“Residents of compact, connected communities in the United States save more money and have greater economic opportunity than they would in more sprawled, automobile-dependent neighbourhoods,” the report continues. “Households in accessible areas spend on average $5,000 less per year on transportation expenses, and real estate located in smart growth communities tends to retain its value better than in sprawled communities, due to greater accessibility to services. These communities are also more inclusive for people who cannot drive: they offer easier access to schools, public services and jobs, and encourage mixed-income communities. Because of these factors, research shows that lower-income children tend to be much more economically successful if they grow up in smart growth communities.”

Helen Mountford, Programme Director for the New Climate Economy, based in London, said: “Reducing urban sprawl is good for the economy and the climate. For a real-world example of sprawl versus smart growth, compare Atlanta and Barcelona. Both cities have approximately the same population and the same level of wealth per person, but Atlanta takes up over 11 times as much land and produces six times the transport-related carbon emissions per person as Barcelona.”

She added, “And congested, sprawling cities are costly to the economy; for example through all the hours that commuters or delivery trucks waste stuck in traffic jams. Cities that are compact, connected and coordinated can unleash productivity and growth opportunities, while minimizing harm to the climate.”

Mr. Litman’s report continues, “All cities can benefit from increased economic productivity, more affordable housing options, more liveable communities, infrastructure cost savings, reduced accident risk, improved public fitness and health, increased opportunity for physically and economically disadvantaged groups and improved mobility options for non-drivers. These benefits are particularly important in rapidly developing cities where resources are limited and a greater portion of households are impoverished and cannot afford automobiles.”

In many ways this smart growth description fits the definition of Davis. Davis remains a compact city, though in places the density is still not ideal. However, Davis has also taken great pains to preserve agricultural land on its periphery.

Davis in many way embodies the ideal with an interconnected series of greenbelts, bike paths and bike lanes that allow citizens to travel the city without always relying on the automobile.

The problem is that we are looking at adding innovation parks, which means adding jobs to Davis. The inclination of many has been to do so without a housing component to it. There are good reasons for that consideration, and one is the political reality that many believe introducing housing would doom a Measure R vote needed to approve the project.

Last fall, many argued that Davis suffers from a housing-jobs imbalance where each morning many people commute from the region to Davis to work at the university while many people in Davis commute to Sacramento or the Bay Area because there is a lack of non-university, highly skilled jobs. One hope is that, by developing high-tech innovation centers, we would help to reduce that jobs-housing imbalance.

At the same, producing an innovation park creates a large number of jobs. To the extent that these jobs require people to commute to Davis there will be traffic impacts on the highways and roads that are needed to accommodate those additional car trips. The EIR will help us understand the exact impact as well as estimate added VMTs.

VMTs not only impact our carbon footprint, but are also costly, as the report from Victoria Transport Policy Institute indicates. We have already implemented a CFD for Cannery, now we may be asked to do the same for the innovation parks.

Someone will have to bear those costs. By putting at least a portion of that housing onsite, we can reduce the VMTs and also the need for additional infrastructure, greatly saving costs.

One question that I think we need to ask ourselves – do people oppose housing for the sake of opposing housing, or do they oppose it because it encroaches on prime ag land and produces additional sprawl?

If it is the former, then naturally the fears of many are borne out that housing would doom the project. However, if the problem is the latter, then in this case, the impact on agricultural land would be the same, with or without the housing component.

Given this research, perhaps we ought to get a better sense for what this community wants and does not want, rather than base public policy decisions on sheer speculation.

—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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41 thoughts on “Analysis: Study Shows the Huge Cost of Current Urban Design Practices”

  1. Barack Palin

    Pushing more housing in the innovation park proposals is going to result in killing off the projects.  At this time the voters will not be receptive to that.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      I am not convinced of that. There strong arguments in the other direction. Again, rather than assuming, why don’t we find out – we have time? The innovation park developers have the money.

      1. Barack Palin

        Covell Village went down 60% to 40%, later Wildhorse Ranch was defeated even worse at 75% to 25%.  How much more convincing do you need?  People will be receptive to bringing in commerce, jobs and revenue, but when you throw housing into the mix they’re going to vote “no”.

        1. Tia Will

          BP

          Not necessarily so.  Of the posters here, I am probably considered one of the “slowest growthers”, and yet I would give equal if not more consideration to a proposal that included housing if it were a good fit within the project and if the project were overall a good fit for the community rather than accepting more automobile commuting.

        2. David Greenwald Post author

          Both of those were flawed in terms of timing and design. One of the reasons CV went down was inadequate traffic mitigations. Having mixed use at the site could mitigate that.

          “People will be receptive to bringing in commerce, jobs and revenue, but when you throw housing into the mix they’re going to vote “no”.”

          Again, why not test that rather than assume it.

        3. David Greenwald Post author

          I was completely against housing at first for the exact reasons that you have raised, but the more I look at the issue, the more I think traffic impacts will bring down the project and the best way to fix traffic impacts is by housing at least some of the workers on site.

        4. Topcat

          …the more I look at the issue, the more I think traffic impacts will bring down the project and the best way to fix traffic impacts is by housing at least some of the workers on site.

          Building housing on the site may cut down on a few commute trips, but the overall traffic impact will still be a big problem.  All the new residents will need to go shopping so there are more car trips.  Many of the new residents will have spouses that will commute to other jobs not in the industrial park, so there are more car trips. Many of the new residents will have children that they will drive to school, so there are more car trips. The new residents will take their cars for their recreational needs, so there are more car trips.

          Building housing at the site clearly will not “fix traffic impacts” despite the rosy scenarios espoused by the proponents.

          It is unrealistic to gloss over these problems by saying that people should use public transport.  That just isn’t the reality of how people live.  Our automobile culture is not likely to change quickly or easily.  If you don’t believe me, try taking Yolobus 42A & B for your trips to Woodland and Sacramento.

  2. Topcat

    …producing an innovation park creates a large number of jobs. To the extent that these jobs require people to commute to Davis there will be traffic impacts on the highways and roads that are needed to accommodate those additional car trips.

    This is one of the major reasons to oppose the new industrial park.  As someone who frequently travels the roads and highways around Davis, I can tell you that we are often at (and beyond) capacity on Interstate 80.  We are also seeing traffic problems in Davis.  The Cannery, with it’s only one access point will certainly make things worse. We don’t need a high priced study to see that additional traffic will only make the problems worse.

    I know that there will be a lot of happy talk and rosy scenarios produced to sell the industrial park to the voters, but I am sure that there will be very little said about the increased traffic problems due to all these additional vehicle trips. The promoters will gloss over these problems.  I just wish that they would spend time stuck on Interstate 80 going 5 miles per hour every day during commute hours.

  3. Gunrocik

    Providing a jobs-housing balance sounds great in theory, but it is very difficult to do at the local level.  We are part of a sprawling region of over 800,000 households containing over 2 million people.  A great number of those households are two job families — with each householder working in different parts of an employment region which spreads from Genentech in Vacaville to Intel in Folsom and HP in Roseville–and the Capitol in the middle.

    While Roseville, Vacaville and Folsom have all built their fair share of housing (unlike the People’s Republic of Davis) there is still no guarantee that the folks living in all those houses will be close to work.  Dad may work down the street at Intel, but Mom may be bureaucrat in Sacramento or a scientist in Vacaville.

    If California had implemented some sort of regional planning 40 years ago — as was frequently done in the UK and the rest of Europe — there wouldn’t likely be Roseville, Vacaville and Folsom employment centers.  Jobs would likely be focused around downtown Sacramento and the appropriate infrastructure for mass transit would have been in place to get workers to their jobs, and the appropriate densities of housing would have been allowed near downtown to ensure fewer sprawling suburbs.

    Alternatively, if the no-growthers hadn’t taken over Davis in the late 60s–it is very likely that Genentech, HP and Intel would all be in the pre-eminent college town in the Valley — Davis!  We would likely be the wealthiest town in the Valley as well with a population of 250,000 and an average home price on par with cities in the Bay Area.  And with this concentration of activity adjacent to UCD — there would be far more spinoff companies in Davis which would mean far more jobs for the entire region.  Instead, we decided to build our moat for the lucky few and the entire region has suffered.

     

    1. Topcat

      …We would likely be the wealthiest town in the Valley as well with a population of 250,000 and an average home price on par with cities in the Bay Area.

      I’m very glad we did not go this way.  If I had wanted to live in that environment, I would have moved to Silicon Valley. There are a lot of us in Davis who like our small city and want it to stay small.  We don’t want all the big city problems: congestion, crime, pollution, lack of open space, etc.

      Let’s not ruin what we have.  I say NO to a new industrial park.

    2. Tia Will

      Gunrockic

      While this may or may not be an accurate assessment of what has occurred, I do not think that this means that we just have to capitulate to a detractive model and become as much like everyone of the other communities that you have named as possible just because mistakes in planning have been made. Just because we are currently in an automobile dominant area with the ill effects you and others have cited does not mean that we should simply double down on a bad plan.

      What we have in Davis is unique in our region. I believe that it is reasonable to want to conserve some of that unique nature for our own children, perhaps as in inspiration and insight that just because a trend is developing does not mean that everyone has to jump on board. Many people who came to, or stayed in Davis have done so specifically because of  its small size and more homey feeling. Not everyone believes that bigger is necessarily better or that being “the wealthiest town in the Valley” is necessarily our highest goal. This is not necessarily a uniquely senior citizen point of view. Some millenials like my son are also coming to the conclusion that more wealth and a more hectic lifestyle are not necessarily how they want to structure their lives. I think that it is important not to simply look at what we have today, through up our hands and say that this is how it will always be so we just have to go along, but rather use some of that innovative power of the university and our community to envision what might be a better way, and work to make that happen.

  4. Frankly

    Here we go…

    Tia Will and others that have been the most vocally (shall we call it skeptical) about the need and value of innovation parks in consideration of all the fears of negative impacts to desired lifestyle have consistently made the point that economic development is a regional thing… that UCD sending the World Food Center to Sacramento is fine in a regional Kumbaya consideration.

    But then housing is not a regional thing?

    Other communities around us do not have UCD.  But they have land and an easier time building housing.

    Other communities do not have our deficit of tax revenue from too little economic activity.

    Other communities are not so far down the path of being a bedroom community with unsustainable finances.

    Certainly the city needs some more high density housing for students.  The city should be working with the university for planning the growth of high density rental housing.  But Davis does not need to provide housing for the employees of the business parks.  That is a stupid and utopian expectation that will cause many more people in Davis to reject the developments.

    The population of Davis includes a much higher percentage of people working outside of Davis that commute to and from their jobs.  If we build and populate business parks there will be a gradual shift in this demographic as more Davisites land a job locally, and with real estate turnover, new employees to the business parks buy up more of the existing supply of real estate.

    Dixon, Woodland, Winters, West Sacramento…. all together there is plenty of residential capacity for the excess… and the commute from these locations to Davis is not a big deal compared to what 90% of working people deal with.

    Personally I don’t have too big of a problem growing the periphery of Davis with some more housing.  But my fellow Davisites are quite fussy about it.  It is a toxic political pursuit.

    There is no crisis with respect to housing, but there is a crisis in fiscal sustainability and a need to partner with UCD for economic development.   Drop the housing demand and focus on the business development need first and foremost.   The need for housing can play out later.

    1. Davis Progressive

      you make good points but i think david makes two that are better than yours.  one is what is the harming in polling rather than assuming that housing is a poison pill?  second, what happens if the eir comes back with huge and expensive impacts on traffic whether it be on the connecting roads like mace and john jones road, or more broadly on the causeway?

      1. Frankly

        I think there is great risk in even entertaining the idea.  There is a lack of trust with respect to what is committed and what is actually built, so we operate on a difficult balance of support and opposition.  The basis for the innovation parks have been economic and business.  Adding the housing debate will be a “perfection is the enemy of the good” ball and chain around that effort to gain support.

        These parks will take 20 years or more to fill.  It will provide plenty of time to experience the real impact to Davis housing and the population will have time to develop a majority opinion for how to deal with it.

        The deficit today is economic not residential… except for student housing.  Let’s deal with the student housing need separate from the economic need else we are going to kill both.

        1. Frankly

          My business services all of California… 80% of that business is in the LA area and the rest is the Bay Area and Sacramento.  I go to these places frequently and my employees… especially my sales employees… have to put thousands of miles commuting in these areas.

          The Sacramento region is not saturated with traffic if you compare it to LA and the Bay Area.  I’m not saying that any of them are in good shape, just that in terms of relative measures claiming that Davis business parks are going to push traffic congestion to beyond acceptable is not true.

          We need to put effort into demanding creative transportation solutions for the employees of the innovation parks.   How about a park shuttle service.  Maybe the developers should buy land in other communities to build a park and ride lot.

  5. Gunrocik

    I am pretty much on the same page as Frankly.  It would be great if we provided a little housing — but not at the expense of losing at the ballot box.  The need for new city revenues and jobs to spur our local economy is the goal here.

    We can’t take the chance of adding housing to the parks — it will generate a lot of automatic no votes from the NIMBY population and those who believe that any housing will dilute their property values.

    And Dixon and Woodland are very short commutes to town, and have plenty of land for housing.  And their kids can still populate our schools — so it is a win-win.  Yes, it would be better if the kids could live down the street from their school, but the empty nester no-growthers in this community have precluded that possibility.  We have to work within the limits of reality.

      1. Don Shor

        VMT? You don’t. The only answer to that is regional transit planning.
        Traffic impact of the Mace site would be minimal. The others are more problematic.

      2. Topcat

        …The only answer to that is regional transit planning.
        Traffic impact of the Mace site would be minimal. The others are more problematic.

        Yes, traffic and access should kill the Nishi site and Binning Ranch would create a disastrous situation at Covell and 113 which is already getting very congested.

        Public transit is unlikely to be accepted by the population until gas prices increase dramatically.  Everyone I know drives around Davis, even for short trips.  We are car oriented culture and it will be extremely difficult to change that reality.  New public transit options are extremely expensive and unlikely to be viable for our auto oriented culture.

    1. Topcat

       …It would be great if we provided a little housing — but not at the expense of losing at the ballot box.  The need for new city revenues and jobs to spur our local economy is the goal here.

      I would like to see the industrial park fail at the ballot box.  I want to see Davis stay a small city.  We are already at capacity for the infrastructure we have. I don’t want to see us become a sprawling, congested urban landscape. There are plenty of other places for people to move if they want to live in that environment.

      As for City revenues, I would like to see the council take on the issues of employee compensation, benefits and retirement costs. I don’t pretend that this will be easy, but I do think it is necessary.

      1. Frankly

        Topcat – I would be with you on this but for the reality of math and law.

        The main problem with city compensation is the retirement commitments already made.  Law prevents remedies.

        We also have a $100 million-plus backlog in infrastructure maintenance that will not go away even if we could reduce the employee compensation nut.

        Please consider that Palo Alto… a city with our same population and a world class university… has a general fund budget of $150 million.   Davis’s is $50 million.  70% of Palo Altos greater revenue is from the revenue generated by economic activity within Palo Alto.  The other 30% is from higher residential property tax revenue.

        Davis does not need to be Palo Alto, but this disparity in general fund revenue should be a wake up call.  Davis residents want no fewer amenities than do Palo Alto residents.  We should at least be working toward a doubling of our general fund budget in order to be a sustainable city that can fund the amenities and services we demand.

        There is no way to get there without local economic growth.

      2. Topcat

        …We should at least be working toward a doubling of our general fund budget in order to be a sustainable city that can fund the amenities and services we demand.

        There is no way to get there without local economic growth.

        When the industrial park gets voted down, perhaps the council will get serious about cost cutting.  It’s not going to be easy or popular, but I think it’s a better alternative than opening the door to potential urban sprawl.

        1. hpierce

          Well, am just guessing here, but suspect that Topcat would like to maintain all services and amenities provided by the City, eliminate all post-retirement medical, and have City employees take a 50% cut in total compensation.  That indeed would save money.

        2. Topcat

          I really would like you to identify which amenities you would be willing to forego.

          As tempting as it is to identify specifics, I think it should be the council that sets these priorities.  They asked for the job and we elected them to do it.  It is their responsibility to see that the city lives within its means.

          I know that the issue of growth is controversial.  Personally I come down on the side of keeping Davis a small city, even if that means living with some pain in terms of higher taxes and fees and less services than we might like.  If I wanted to live with urban sprawl and congestion, there are plenty of other places in California that I could move to.

        3. Frankly

          Topcat – Here is the problem as I see it.  The city of Davis has grown along with the university.  Tia Will has echoed some of the same sentiments as you… that she wants Davis to stay that small rural community with that agriculture connection.  I have lived here since the mid/late 1970s, so I get that attraction.  The problem for all of us is that UCD has become very successful and the city has grown along with that success.  And now resistance appears very futile.

          As hpierce mentions there is really only one way to get us to sustainable budget with money to cover all the infrastructure maintenance if not to grow our economy and that is to severely cut benefits and pay of existing city employees and also cut more employees.

          Last year was an unexpected down year for the company I work for.  My partner and I had to cut staff and expenses… including healthcare and retirement benefits.  We implemented “lean operations” changes… basically streamlined the work processes and shifted more work to the remaining employees.  And as managers we also took on more of the duties that staff had previously handled.  As difficult as it all was we are in better economic shape this year.  And guess what?  All those staff that said they would not be able to handle it… they have absorbed the work and made it their new normal.  Morale is actually higher because employees feel more useful and valuable and accomplished handling a greater level of responsibility.

          Can the city do something similar?

          The difference is that I cannot cut services to my customers.  If I did that I would lose business and my problems would grow.

          However, the city can and will cut services in response to these types of actions.  Labor has power and management has a vested interest to go along with it and neither face significant negative consequences for doing so.

          So I think you and I and anyone else that would like to see the city cut more to balance the budget would eventually lose the battle over the din of residents complaining about the loss of service.

          It is a losing battle.

        4. Topcat

          Are you aware of the magnitude of the budget cuts that would be required?

          Yes.  I have worked in organizations that have gone through drastic downsizing and I know that it is extremely traumatic and painful for those affected.  There are bound to be howls of protest. and a lot of talk about the horrible things that will happen if we cut back. Like an individual or family that has been living beyond their means, there comes a time of reckoning when reality sets in and we have to do the things necessary to get back to fiscal sustainability.

          I know that there are many people who feel like the only viable course is to build a new industrial park to bring in new revenue.  I am sure that there will be plenty of rosy scenarios and optimistic assumptions made to try to sell this to the voters. I do hope that the reality of the negative impacts of more development are given some serious consideration.  I believe that Davis is already at capacity for the infrastructure we have. More development will bring more traffic, more congestion, demand for more services, and demand for more housing.

        5. hpierce

          Topcat (and, to an extent, Frankly)… you are absolutely right as to the economic benefit of “no growth”.  At least in the near term.

          “I believe that Davis is already at capacity for the infrastructure we have. More development will bring more traffic, more congestion, demand for more services, and demand for more housing.”

          Like the redundancy of the highlighted words, unless you were also referring to “pollen” when you wrote ‘congestion’.

          Yet, on another post, you want to see cuts to expenses.  Davis became a City to deal with fires and water supply.  Look it up.  Parks, greenbelts, recreation are not “core” functions of a City.  Neither are regulating visual blight, or supporting historic preservation, or the ‘arts’.  To me the “core missions” of a City are to provide police and fire protection (at the lowest costs possible, consistent with risk), roads/streets, and utilities (drainage, water, and sewage).  Of course, you need some finance folk for budget/expenditures, and some HR and some executive management.

          Perhaps we should eliminate all “non-core” services.  And then cut the core services employee budgets, by say, 50%.

          Also, topcat, I strongly disagree with your belief that the city’s infrastructure is “maxed out”. Needs work, yes, “maxed out”, not. Let me guess, you’re a liberal arts major?

           

        6. Topcat

          Perhaps we should eliminate all “non-core” services.  And then cut the core services employee budgets, by say, 50%.

          Yes, given the financial situation of the City, this is the type of approach the City Council members should be looking at. Somehow, they need to communicate to the citizens that if they want services, they need to pay the costs for them.  This is the concept of “living within our means”.

  6. Frankly

    Another related couple of thoughts.

    We have the Cannery and Nishi.  Those provide housing primarily.  They are adding to our inventory.  They are also going to generate traffic and give the population a sense that we have increased housing.  So if we start talking about the other two parks adding housing, we are going to inspire a revolt.

    Also, if the parks take 20+ years to populate, they will do so through at least one or two economic cycles.   And with this in mind we can tolerate a local decline in business activity but if that decline is attached strongly to the housing supply it will cause greater swings in the Davis home value averages.

    Please keep that in mind… if you tie housing to business, then you tie everyone’s housing property values to the business economic cycles.

    We would be much better off disbursing the housing requirement to the region to spread the impact to the region so that Davis does not suffer the bigger swing.

    1. Davis Progressive

      i’m skeptical.  first of all, at cannery you are dealing with $750,000 homes.  at nishi – if it can overcome the connectivity problem – you are dealing with mainly student and faculty housing.

      1. Frankly

        So what real estate market do you think the employees of these innovation parks will be interested in?  Certainly not 1 bedroom apartments filled with 20-year old college students, right?

        If you are skeptical that the Cannery will help satisfy the housing needs of the innovation parks, then I am really curious about what type of housing you are advocating for?

        1. Miwok

          We have the Cannery and Nishi.  Those provide housing primarily.

          So what real estate market do you think the employees of these innovation parks will be interested in?  Certainly not 1 bedroom apartments filled with 20-year old college students, right?

          Frankly (because you are), I agree with the fact Davis wants more housing but thinks business is more profitable to the City. The housing component is very unstable, because a development that espouses homes, then adds apartments next to it, destroys and contaminates the original concept.

          I used to live in Davis, in a room I rented from the owner. But all around, there were homes that used to be owner occupied, and when the owners retired or moved away, they kept the old house as a rental.

          Because of this I could not “buy in” without earning two or three times what I did at the time. Mace Ranch was not a relief to this pressure, sadly.

          This will happen with the new housing as well. The City has no clue, I think, of how extensive this is. I have been told on this forum there are either no ordinances about this, or Police have to “enforce it”.

          Meanwhile, pretend you are the “Palo Alto” of the North. We will continue to commute to serve you and the students of the now #9 University in the nation.

  7. Unspecified

    To reiterate the point raised by Gunroick, the primary political driver for the innovation parks is economic sustainablity. Every acre on the innovation park(s) that goes into residential is one less acre devoted to the overarching economic goal.

    Add residential to the mix and any Measure R vote is probably DOA.

    In my estimation, the consequence of David Greenwald’s efforts to support and participate in the relentless political attack on Cannery and the CFD is that it is now absolutely clear that to the development and investment communities that residential is still a third rail issue that will kill any innovation park proposal that includes on-site housing.

    The current innovation park developers may very well be willing to take this risk if their primary objective is annexation and the creation of future opportunities to upzone their land. However, if they are truly sincere in their stated objectives of delivering innovation parks then they won’t touch residential.

    1. hpierce

      Wow… tying opposition to the SFR CFD to opposition to SFR.  Quite a leap.  Know that doesn’t apply to me.  One of the main reasons I opposed the CFD was to support (when all the math is done) reasonable (not measured out by an eye-dropper, nor a deluge) SFR development.

  8. Tia Will

    Frankly

    The Sacramento region is not saturated with traffic if you compare it to LA and the Bay Area.  I’m not saying that any of them are in good shape, just that in terms of relative measures claiming that Davis business parks are going to push traffic congestion to beyond acceptable is not true.”

    You are choosing to compare us to the very worst situations in the state and say “well, we aren’t as bad as that….so what we have is acceptable”.   Why not choose to make our comparisons to communities that have solved these problems and emulate them to the best of our ability ? Another question. “Acceptable to whom ? ” My job structure recently changed and instead of driving to Sacramento once weekly before the standard commute starts, I am now driving two to three times weekly during the peak hours. This new pattern has demonstrated to me that Topcat has it right on this. The current commute, while not as bad as San Francisco or LA, is certainly nothing that we want to see made worse and we should be doing advance planning now both locally and regionally for how to improve our transportation situation, not simply shrugging our shoulders and giving up on changing from the destructive pattern that we have now to a cleaner healthier system for the future.

     

     

  9. TrueBlueDevil

    There are also huge costs associated directly with government regulations.

    http://www.nahb.org/generic.aspx?genericContentID=161065&channelID=311

    I understand Tia’s concern with commuting, but mass transportation is tough to accomplish with smaller population centers.

    Buses are the most economical and flexible (routes are very easy to switch!), and I think the south bay techies who ride in modern buses can show us something. Would buses be more attractive if we had wireless access, and a few other amenities? But still, we need some semi-dense population centers and some semi-dense business centers to make this work.

    As an aside, I think I somewhat recently naively threw out the idea of housing as a part of these innovation centers without realizing the implications in a place like Davis. Innovation center, innovation center, innovation center came the articles… I wasn’t envisioning all of the implications, I just naively wondered if there was any thought to 5 upper units here or 20 upper units there. I had seen a few like this in the Bay Area and thought it might be an interesting item to explore.

    I’m not sure if the developer would like this or see it as profitable, and whether or not the innovation center tenants would like the idea. There are lots of interesting ancillary benefits … local housing, possible live-work, activity at night and on the weekends, including extra eyes (not lifeless business parks)… it might make it feel a bit more like a local integral part of the community.

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