Proposed Davis Soccer Complex Draws Concern From County

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The city of Davis is proposing a 40-acre expansion of the Davis Legacy Soccer Complex in the unincorporated area east of Davis. The city has leased the land from the landowner and re-leased it to the soccer club.

Taro Echiburu, Director of Planning, Public Works and Environmental Services for Yolo County, writes to the city of Davis, “If this were a County project, the County would address the points described below before approving the Project. We recommend that the City consider these points and recirculate the environmental documents. However, if the City decides to proceed with the Project, the County is prepared to offer its assistance during the implementation stage to ensure that the Project is a success.”

The project converts about 40 acres of farmland into nine full-size soccer fields along with 1100 parking spaces. Mr. Echiburu notes that, while the project is described as “temporary use,” due to the 20 to 30 year duration of the lease, “the County expects that the project will last beyond this time frame, similar to the fields constructed 20 years ago that were also described as ‘temporary’ at the time.”

He argues, “The soccer complex does not comport to local general plans or zoning.”

In the proposed CEQA it states that “there is an area designated ‘Parks and Recreation’ in the general area of the project” and that the original fields were “permitted uses with the Yolo County General Plan and Zoning.”

However, Mr. Echiburu argues, “What the certification omits, however, is that the expansion itself is not in a Parks and Recreation Zone, and it is therefore inconsistent with the County General Plan and zoning of the area — both under the old County Code and the new.” The city’s general plan land use map designates the area “agricultural” which “does not allow for recreational uses.”

The staff report states that “[u]nder Yolo County zoning the recreational fields are considered a permitted use.” Mr. Echiburu argues, “This is incorrect because sports fields are not an allowed use in the Agricultural Intensive zone.”

He says that the county staff raised this issue several months ago but that the city declined the county’s recommendation and “is proceeding as a non-conforming use.”

Further, he speculates that “amending the City’s agricultural designation might require voter approval.” However, Measure R specifically exempts “land to be used for public parks,” under voter requirements.

Taro Echiburu argues that “the environmental documents were not circulated to State agencies,” and because they were not circulated, the city did not receive comments. However, he writes, “we have found that State agencies often provide several comments on projects of this nature. The fact that the Project is designated as ‘temporary’ likely will not affect the State agencies’ desire for input.”

Moreover, he argues that the city should not approve this project without doing a traffic study. He argues that the plan “does not contain a significant analysis of the impacts related to air quality, transportation, and greenhouse gas reduction/climate change. Of significant importance to the County, whose roads will be affected by the Project, the MND (Mitigated Negative Declaration) does not analyze the effect of the expanded facility and the increase of cars that are expected to fill the 1,100 new parking spaces on the site.”

Given the potential for hundreds of teams, there will be a significant increase in the use of the site and therefore significant impacts that need to be mitigated.

The MND’s air quality analysis concludes that “the extent of such an increase [in use] would not lead to district thresholds and applicable air quality plans being exceeded.” The MND continues, saying that “any increase in the overall emissions levels in the immediate area (either through vehicle trips originating within the City of Davis or from another starting location) cannot be reasonably quantified logically attributed to increased use of the site,” and therefore, “it would not be reasonable or feasible to attribute possible overall emission increases to the increased usage of the site.”

Mr. Echiburu writes, “We were unable to identify the evidence or factual air quality or traffic impact study that supported these conclusions. We recommend that the findings be substantiated, including with calculations of air emissions generated by increased traffic from the Project.”

Mr. Echiburu writes, “The City should clarify its jurisdictional authority over the land – rather than the soccer club leasing the land directly from the donor-landowner, the City has leased the land first in order to exercise control over the entitlements.”

“This is an unusual arrangement and it effectively allows a private enterprise to avoid County land use regulation,” he writes. “The County therefore asks that the City expressly, by resolution, assume land use, building code, health, and public safety responsibility over the property after the City has re-leased the land to the soccer club. Although any building, health, or event permits would then be directed to the City, we ask that the City promptly notify the County of any permit applications to ensure County involvement, where necessary.”

—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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35 thoughts on “Proposed Davis Soccer Complex Draws Concern From County”

  1. Jim Frame

    I’m not prepared to offer an opinion on the legitimacy of the county’s concerns, but didn’t the county itself approve a golf course in an ag area a few years back?

  2. SODA

    sounds like the city involved itself in a work around to avoid county jurisdiction?  If city does not heed county’s input, what is county’s recourse?  The roads out to the fields do not strike me as ideal for large numbers of cars….

    Is it your opinion that the city should have done more in their evaluation?  Can someone with more expertise than me weigh in….hpierce where are you?!

  3. zaqzaq

    The current soccer fields are located where the old drive in movie theater that specialized in porn movies was located.  I wonder what county permits they needed for that.  Converting that site to soccer fields was a significant improvement.  Now they want to expand the site.  The “county” road that goes east and west along I-80 is in poor condition.  The county should request mitigation in the form an improved road along that stretch to handle the increase in traffic.  They also may need a traffic light at that intersection to improve safety.

    1. SODA

      agree; that was my point about roads out there; I think there is poor/no shoulder to that road also. It is used quite a bit to avoid that section of freeway which backs up consistently.

      1. DavisBurns

        If it is where I think it is, it is also used by cyclists who commute.  Cars avoiding freeway traffic are already a problem.  This will make it worse.

    2. DanH

      The Westlane drive-in showed mainstream movies back in the day. I remember going there in early seventies. The XXX movie era started in the mid-seventies and Westlane finally closed for good in the early eighties. There was a fire at Westlane, if I recall and the place was closed down for quite a while before the soccer fields happened.

      I doubt that permits were that difficult to get during those days. Solano County had two topless bars and a bottomless bar along I-80 between Davis and Vacaville at the time.

      1. Alan Miller

        The XXX movie era started in the mid-seventies

        I did a “bit” on my college radio show on KDVS where I would call local businesses on the air and have odd conversations with them for the entertainment of the audience, of course never mentioning I was on the air.

        One night in about 1983 I called the attendant at the Westlane and asked what movies were being shown.  I remember the droll, bored voice saying “Flash” and “I am Always Ready” as the evenings two “movies”.

        BTW, I tried that prank on a business about ten years later as a guest DJ, after the FCC cracked down on such shenanigans, and immediately received several phone calls on the studio phone from freaked-out KDVS managers.

        Oh!  And donate to KDVS during their fund raising drive!

  4. Frankly

    This is great political theater.  Like baby Godzilla and baby Mothra fighting each other for territorial dominance while they both routinely trample on the rights of private property owners to use their land as they see fit.

  5. Don Shor

    It sounds to me as though the city is trying to get away with a  de facto zoning change, without going through the process that would usually be involved, and is not taking actual responsibility for the proposed usage of the site.

    This is ag land, zoned for ag. Soccer isn’t ag. So if they want to change that, the city needs to follow the rules like everyone else.

    1. Don Shor

      It would appear that a sports field on ag-zoned land requires a discretionary Minor Use permit, after a public hearing,
      It’s also possible that the county planners could determine that it requires a Major Use permit, based on the following:

      “Activities on land in the P-R and POS zones shall require issuance of a Major Use Permit for any rural recreational uses requiring new construction and/or generating in excess of 100 vehicle trips per use or per day.”

      See Sec. 8-2.806. Specific Use Requirements or Performance Standards
      in
      2013 UPDATED YOLO COUNTY CODE
      Title 8 LAND DEVELOPMENT CHAPTER 2: ZONING REGULATIONS Article 3: Agricultural Zones
      http://www.yolocounty.org/home/showdocument?id=23689

  6. Davis Progressive

    had a few discussions on this.  measure r requires a vote for the conversion of ag land to urban uses.  however it exempts parks.  however, this isn’t really a park especially with the traffic impacts.  therefore, i think a case can be made that this needs a measure r vote.

    1. Doby Fleeman

      What seems to be missing from this conversation is the potential for this new “1,100 space peripheral city parking lot” to serve as a remote lot for Downtown Davis employees.  For the cost of a few electric powered shuttles, we could have an immediate, and low cost solution for our long term Downtown employee parking needs.

        1. Barack Palin

          Yeah, I felt the same way.  No way downtown workers are driving out to those soccer fields and then wait for a shuttle to go to work.  Not happening.

        2. Doby Fleeman

          Apparently, I’m the odd man out, but I do find it of interest that none of our councilmembers has the least problem with creating an 1,100 car FREE parking lot – at the drop of a hat – to accommodate hundreds of carloads of out of town visitors to a field in the middle of nowhere, and yet some remain steadfast in their opposition to providing much needed parking for current and would be visitors to the Downtown where they actually end up spending money and paying sales taxes that benefit the city.  What am I missing?

        3. Jim Frame

          none of our councilmembers has the least problem with creating an 1,100 car FREE parking lot … in the middle of nowhere, and yet some remain steadfast in their opposition to providing much needed parking for current and would be visitors to the Downtown

           

          The difference that jumps immediately to mind is the relative cost.  Creating a parking lot in a wide-open ag area is pretty cheap; creating one in an already-congested downtown where land values are high is a much heavier lift.

          P.S.  I meant to hit Reply to Doby’s post, but inadvertently hit Report Comment instead.  So if the posting police come looking for you, Doby, just say “It was a mistake!”  (You might also try “Don’t tase me, bro!”)

      1. Doby Fleeman

        “It was a mistake” – yeah, likely story.

        I do get the cost issue, but frankly that is exactly why I have been advocating for identification and utilization of a similar, remote, low-impact, pervious parking solution that could be integrated with a reliable public transit solution.   Just haven’t found much traction to date.  And, yes, that too would require investment of additional city financial resources if we wish to enhance public transit options. – again, resources we ostensibly don’t have.

        Perhaps Unitrans can succeed in leading the conversation towards a more robust local public transit model to better serve the community.

        I still find it amusing there wasn’t a long, involved conversation about policies to encourage carpooling and bicycle transit to the proposed new location – as part of the discussion and approval process.

         

         

         

         

         

        1. hpierce

          Perhaps the Nishi property could a huge component of parking for DT business, to make it more likely to be used, with perhaps a modest “shuttle” program.  Or Solano Park.  Or PG&E corp yard.  Good luck with any of the most rational options.

  7. Barack Palin

    Is it possible that the city is getting pressure from the school district to build alternate soccer fields because the district is itching to sell the Nugget fields?

    1. hpierce

      Yes, it is possible, but no sign ( that I’ve seen/heard about) that this has occurred… wouldn’t surprise me tho’… another writer posted a truth that DYSL is not equal to AYSO… very different philosophies, as one of the tenets of AYSO is “everyone plays”.

  8. ryankelly

    These are DYSL fields.  Nugget Fields are managed by AYSO.  Two different groups.  Except for the traffic on that frontage road during weekend soccer tournaments, the car traffic will be the same day to day.  The economic impact of large soccer tournaments coming to town would be significant – with whole teams needing food and lodging.   But again there is that pesky traffic issue at key times during the day on weekends (morning and late afternoons).  They could control that by having food trucks and other vendors there on site during the tournaments to reduce the coming and going, but generally there will be a lot of that during a weekend tournament.  Widening that road to provide turn lanes, a traffic signal and even an off road bike trail to access the site would be a great amenities to add and increase safety.

    The removal of ag land is a different issue.

      1. hpierce

        “you still have to mitigate for maximum impacts

        Actually, wrong.  On two counts.  An EIR is a disclosure document.  Nothing more.  It is not a mandate.  The government body can find “over-riding considerations”.  Maximum?  No, reasonable forseeable impacts are supposed to be considered.  They are not mandated to be resolved.  And yet, you practice law?

  9. c2porter

    Wasn’t this approved by Council last night on the consent calendar? Wasn’t even pulled for discussion if I recall. Would that mean it’s all a done deal at this point?

    1. Davis Progressive

      how is it a done deal?  someone can file a ceqa suit, the county can block it, some can sue as a violation of measure r, it’s not done.

  10. Adam Smith

    I’m pretty sure this field is currently used an irrigated ag field.  Irrigating for a smaller soccer field with parking wouldn’t be much of a change water usage.

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