Commentary: Economic Development ‘The Davis Way’

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I recently read an op-ed in the local paper by James Zanetto and Judy Corbett, which argued we should “[b]oost our economy, but do it the Davis way.” Interestingly enough, it’s an argument I made last year, although I reached a different conclusion.

The idea I argued at the time was that we could do economic development that was relatively small, dense and environmentally sustainable, while adhering to the growth control measures like Measure R.

Citing Jim Gray’s op-ed from last week, the authors here write: “Although their primary focus appears to be on the larger ‘innovation center’ business park proposals, Gray suggests that the city offer ‘competitive sites that will serve the community in the long term.’

“‘Recognizing the ongoing inventory update of city-held property to determine what might be appropriate for development, Gray suggests considering public/private partnerships for underutilized parcels, especially noting the series of city and school district sites along central and east Fifth Street, including and near the city corporation yard, describing these as an “infill site with real scale,’” they continue.

They add, “If, over time, the roughly 25-acre PG&E corporation yard were to be added to this, we’d have a truly significant site for office and lab uses within bicycling distance of the university, downtown and Amtrak.”

These authors then suggest, “Let’s consider the ‘hold’ placed by the development team on the Davis Innovation Center adjacent to Highway 113. Do the experienced developers, SKK and Hines, sense that Davis voters are not ready to approve one or more large peripheral developments?”

The authors present an alternative infill vision for Davis, which they believe could be located on East Fifth Street.

They write, “These developments could create an environment that would reduce auto dependency for residents of our city. Limited parking could occur at grade, below mid-rise work and housing uses, while Davis residents could readily get where they need to go via bus, jitney, bicycle or walking.”

They add, “Car-sharing facilities could be available on-site for occasional work-related use. Mid-rise development with fewer parking spaces will reduce a number of project impacts as well as the cost per unit and the size of the parcel required for the project.”

They see that a “long-term, urban design solution is needed to address our city’s fiscal issue.” They argue, “Working with community residents, we need to develop a vision of a compact, vibrant community that recognizes the talent in its world-class university, that preserves prime agricultural land and that continues its tradition of bicycle- and pedestrian-based land-use planning through sustainable development practices.”

Their focus is on the downtown. “A vibrant, compact, mixed-use downtown is an important economic asset,” they write. “The new economy requires space where people from different silos (and of different ages) bump into one another regularly, stimulating new thinking and allowing innovative ideas to blossom.”

They conclude, “If we in Davis make the right choices, we can preserve our city’s quality of life and develop a sustainable revenue stream that will support our city staff while maintaining our parks, streets, bike paths, recreational facilities and the like. In order to achieve this, we need to ‘take our feet off the accelerator’ and develop a shared vision that will foster economic development.”

However, the authors here miss a critical point – we have already laid out a vision that includes both a short-term and mid-term strategy, with a longer-term peripheral business park strategy.

The city’s policy, passed on November 13, 2012, is to “pursue a ‘Dispersed Innovation Strategy’ offering flexible space (scalability) supporting needs of growing and new businesses.  A combined approach of near-term close-in hub with mid-term, larger less constrained edge sites offer the best mix of University proximity and expansion capability for the City…”

However, while the Studio 30 report that laid the groundwork for the Dispersed Innovation Strategy starts with low-hanging fruit, ultimately it finds that “The current isolated and dispersed sites that are available and appropriately zoned are not adequate in terms of size, location, or configuration (and related constraints) to address the emerging market need of an Innovation Center.”

Therefore they conclude: “Studio 30’s research suggests that the City pursue a broad strategy to attract innovative businesses that offers a number of sites that are scalable and range in size so the community can accommodate an incubator, startups and expanding businesses. Some should be directly in contact with the University. This mix of small and large sites allows the city the flexibility to successfully attract, grow and retain innovation businesses. External sites have the potential to support the most jobs because of their size and ability to accommodate a wider variety of both size and type of businesses.”

This is a critical finding at a time when it is becoming increasingly clear that the city’s economic growth in the next five years appears to be very modest at best, and the city has growing needs in terms of infrastructure and potentially public safety that it must address.

Therefore, my view of an economic development strategy that maintains the Davis way is as follows:

First, it should adhere to current Davis land use policies. That means encouraging relatively small innovation centers that can utilize university spinoffs and tech transfer, as well as provide a landing spot for businesses who are growing, to remain in Davis.

While we have suggested a tweak in Measure R, we must recognize that most likely any project on the periphery will have to gain the approval of voters. Some view this as a disadvantage, but I suggest we turn it to our advantage.

By that I mean we develop state of the art facilities. Environmentally sustainable: that means net zero energy, state of the art environmental and sustainable features. We need them to be at the center of multi-modal transportation hubs like rails and other alternative transportation with bike connectivity.

Furthermore, we must recognize that Davis is a college community. When I traveled to the South Bay and saw places like PayPal and other high-tech campuses, they looked like extensions of college campuses. You have a main building and then the rest of campus.

This fits in perfectly with a city like Davis where people are very comfortable with the college campus set up. This would only enhance the community and provide us with the space needed for innovation and collaboration to take place.

We need to view these efforts as an extension of the college campus and recognize that in the 21st century, academic work does not end in the classroom but rather gets transferred to the private market, as we take research and turn it into the products of today and tomorrow.

To me, at least, a small, compact, college campus like an innovation park that is hooked up to bike paths and other alternative transportation modes and is net zero energy and powered by solar and other alternative energy sources is, in fact, the Davis Way.

While the authors offer us an alternative vision of infill – a vision that we should pursue as well – the Studio 30 report made it clear that even maximizing potential sites like the PG&E site and the corporation yards on Fifth Street is insufficient for our needs and to sustain the needs of growing current businesses.

I will make one final note. I really wish that these discussions could have occurred a year ago. My concern listening to the innovation parks task force was that there were too few interactions of this sort. We might have come up with a more robust discussion a year ago that would have taken the conversation down a different line.

It is clear that, for a certain number of people, the idea of peripheral development is a non-starter and they will be looking at internal solutions. I really view the internal solutions as paths that we can go down in addition to an innovation park, not instead of an innovation park.

The primary reason for this is really the need for large spaces for Tyler Schilling and, really, several other additional businesses. Studio 30 really did a good job of laying out why we need to pursue both strategies.

I agree with the conclusion of the authors. However, if we make the right choices and develop these the right way, we can preserve our quality of life, and preserve the character of Davis, while developing a sustainable revenue stream – I just don’t believe we can do that strictly with infill development.

—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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49 Comments

  1. Frankly

    The authors are ignorant of some facts.

    1. Davis is medium-sized California city with an area of only 10 square miles.  It is already hyper-dense, yet it is surrounded by open space.  And it is growing more dense in many ways.  And being this dense is not utopia… there are many problems including growing congestion that negatively impacts quality of life for many.

    2. There is little to no land available within the current city footprint… the 25 acre PG&E property is a pipe dream.  And residents would not support growing upward (e.g., multistory buildings).

    3. The city does not take in enough revenue to support its size and the demands of the residents. There are only two ways to increase revenue to a sustainable level: a $400-$500 per parcel tax or economic development to grow our local economy to parity for what other like-sized cities require.

    4. The University is growing in population and also needs to grow its public-private partnership with tech, and ag business to help it survive the depletion of public-side funding.  If Davis does not make land available for this, the University will look elsewhere and other communities will reap all the benefits.

    5. Business requires land.  There is no way around this simple fact.  You cannot attract adequate business to this city without allowing peripheral land to be allocated to the needs of these companies.  They simply will not locate here if the land is not made available.

    The authors are making demands that are fanciful and incomplete in their analysis.  They are showing the change-aversion stripes.  But Davis can grow its economy and remain awesome.  The fact that it has already done so is proof of this.

  2. hpierce

    ” the 25 acre PG&E property is a pipe dream.  And residents would not support growing upward (e.g., multistory buildings).”  Partly true (particularly in the “short term”) and false in many others…

    The properties that abut the PG&E corp yard are either commercial/light industrial, or two-story multi-family.  First false/mis-leading statement.  I can see no real community opposition to multi-story development on that site.  I recommend dismissal of that part of the post as BS.

    A fact is that when the PG&E Corp yard was ‘developed’, with the attendant electrical/ NG substation across the street (L), it was at the outskirts of Davis.  Now, it’s near the center ‘core’.

    Another fact is that the main transmission facilities for both gas and electric lie adjacent to the corp yard.  Duh.  Therefore, it is unlikely that PG&E could completely abandon the site, but perhaps could relinquish the vast majority of the site.  If the price/terms were right, for the corporation.

    The Davis PG&E corp yard is one of the ones spared from the closure of many of their corp yards in the 80’s/90’s.  Yet, I strongly suspect that if PG&E were offered a straight up trade for an equivalent amount of land, outside but adjacent to the City, with good reliable access to the roadway network, water, sewer, etc., they’d seriously consider it.  Operationally, suspect PG&E would “love” that.  The “suits” and bean counters would probably want to “cash in” on the potential value of what they could get if they reaped the financial benefits of “redevelopment” of the property.  That would require ‘negotiations’ (assuming the physical requirements of a corp yard should be addressed), and so Frankly’s thought of “pipe dream” is definitely is true in the ‘short term’, but I question that assumption 5-25 years out.  I tend to think long-term on land use issues [except rights of way like the north-south RR line between Davis and woodland, where my planning horizon is more like 50-200 years], and think it is a logical planning horizon.  But most of the city’s “planning” for years has been more focused on ‘processing’, and not PLANNING.

    I believe that the PG&E site, with all of its challenges, as outlined above plus possible low-level toxics on the site, could provide wonderful access to utilities, low impact transportation, etc. for some combination of “innovative” commercial, business and potentially some residential uses.  Frankly, frankly, is too quick to dismiss the site, but in the near term he is correct in saying that it is likely not a near-term alternative.  The Mace site might be a place where the PG&E corp yard could be re-located to, freeing up land at the current corp yard, for the activities that would give Davis better financial stability/growth in revenues.  That goes to my lower estimate of maybe a 5 year horizon for opening up the potential for the redevelopment of the PG&E site.

      1. hpierce

        Only if you’re talking about east of the current City limits.  If you are, je d’accord.  The main NG lines are in 32-A/Second.  Since the SoDav proposal along Chiles never got “legs”, wasn’t thinking about it, but  I believe that would be a very viable option.  Sewer might be an issue, but one that could, at least technically, be easily resolved.

    1. Mark West

      Moving the PG&E Corp yard will require the approval of a peripheral business park of some form to provide sufficient land for hpierce’s proposed ‘swap.’  As a consequence, it is not a reasonable alternative to peripheral land development, but rather a potential  ‘added bonus’ of such development.

      Infill development at PG&E is a near-term and mid-term pipe dream as Frankly says for the simple reason that it will require peripheral development (and a Measure R vote) to occur first.  Anyone arguing in favor of infill at the PG&E site as an alternative to peripheral development is therefore simply arguing in favor of blocking all development.

       

      1. hpierce

        ” Anyone arguing in favor of infill at the PG&E site as an alternative to peripheral development is therefore simply arguing in favor of blocking all development.”  Guess I was ineffective in making that exact same point.

    2. Matt Williams

      The Davis PG&E corp yard is one of the ones spared from the closure of many of their corp yards in the 80’s/90’s. Yet, I strongly suspect that if PG&E were offered a straight up trade for an equivalent amount of land, outside but adjacent to the City, with good reliable access to the roadway network, water, sewer, etc., they’d seriously consider it. Operationally, suspect PG&E would “love” that.

      In the not too distant past, when the City was considering its Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade options, I contacted the vehicle dispatch portion of PG&E to get a better understanding of what kind of services PG&E provides from the Davis facility and where those services are provided. The answer I got was that the trucks leaving the Davis facility are dispatched to a very wide geographic area throughout Northern California, and that very, very few of the service calls supported by the Davis-based vehicles are actually in Davis. As a result your words “but adjacent to the City” probably are not even necessary. Davis is a geographically desireable location for PG&E because of its access both east and west along the I-80/US-50 corridors as well as to the north via CA-113 to I-5 and CA-99, and south via US-50 and I-5. The 300 acres that Yolo County purchased last year from Con Agra just to the west of the Yolo County Land Fill on Road 29 could be a possible location for a relocated PG&E.

  3. Barack Palin

    A PGE corp yard is not what I or what I believe most Davisites had in mind when being presented with a new innovation park.  If something like this which is basically just a vehicle and supplies storage lot were part of the Mace project I for one wouldn’t vote for it.

    1. hpierce

      Don pointed out an alternative, on Chiles/32-B.  I could easily support that.  If, BP, your focus is so narrow that you can’t see a bigger picture, where the innovation park is at the current PG&E site, and PG&E moves elsewhere, either in Mace or Chiles, suggest you consult with an “eye-doctor”.  The results could be the same… a PG&E Corp yard, and the business wishing to site in Davis. Perhaps you are, in reality, anti-development, unless that development matches all your pre-conceived/tunnel vision notions.

      BTW, traffic impacts would be much less for a business park/innovation center located close to downtown and UCD, due to options other than single occupant cars.

      1. Barack Palin

        So I’m tunnel visioned because I live near the Mace lot and don’t want a PGE service vehicle and supply parking lot located there?  This doesn’t fit at all with what has been presented.  I’m open minded to an innovation park, one of which we’ve seen drawings of, but not open minded to a utility yard.

        1. hpierce

          “So I’m tunnel visioned because I live near the Mace lot and don’t want a PGE service vehicle and supply parking lot located there?” Yep… until you disclosed your personal bias.  Had you done so on the previous post, I probably would not have responded, as your self-interest would have been clear.  Not saying you aren’t entitled to your view, but please don’t hide your interests in some sort of “what’s best for the community” cloak.  

          I think Don’s suggestion of near Chiles, perhaps just east of the Forestry parcel would be a good idea.

          And, BP, your tunnel vision is obvious… you responded to my suggestion that you had tunnel vision, and completely ignored the rest of my post, dealing with land use policy.  Think you proved my point (re: tunnel vision), via your response.  I know, we should all acknowledge “it’s all about you”.

        2. Barack Palin

          Allright, then call me tunnel visioned because I don’t want an ugly PGE utility lot located at the Mace curb instead of a more innovative and pleasing to the eye technology park.  I wear that badge proudly.

      2. Barack Palin

        BTW, traffic impacts would be much less for a business park/innovation center located close to downtown and UCD, due to options other than single occupant cars.

        How can an innovation park for the Cannery site be considered too far away from freeway access but somehow the PGE site isn’t?

        1. Gunrocik

          Exactly, as I laid out below — it wouldn’t pencil out and as has been stated countless times, freeway visibility and accessibility is paramount to market the Innovation Park.

        2. Barack Palin

          Thank you Gunrocik, I think we can all agree that moving the PGE corp yard to the Mace curb is a stupid idea and will just result in killing the Mace Innovation Park.

  4. Gunrocik

    PGE is a pipe dream.  It would take a decade just to get someone in their massive bureaucracy to even consider the sale, and then it would take PUC approval as well.

    PGE would have huge relocation costs and want to recover that through the sale of the land.  The land cost for this site would be far more than what Ramos has paid (likely about 20 cents per foot) for the peripheral site.

    To offset the extraordinary land cost, you would need to build at an extremely high density on the site — which is also costly and likely outside the budget any company would be willing to pay.   And by the way, Schilling needs more land than would even be available at PGE, and they need it now.

    Unless you are Mission Bay in San Francisco, this type of infill isn’t financially feasible.

    In addition, Dr. Will, Don Shor and all of the other adjoining neighbors would spend the next decade tying it up in court due to the number of cars that would be dumped into the existing insufficient street grid.   We would likely end up with an abandoned corp yard since no developer could afford the high land cost and all the neighbors extorting more dog parks, toad tunnels, bike tunnels and affordable housing fees–not to mention tens of millions in traffic improvements to get all the traffic back to the freeways — as part of the development agreement — which would likely then be subject to a public vote.

    I believe the authors of the opinion piece are well aware of all these factors — but it always feels good to pitch “infill” to the masses as a way to kill any viable development on the periphery.

    1. Don Shor

      In addition, Dr. Will, Don Shor and all of the other adjoining neighbors would spend the next decade tying it up in court due to the number of cars that would be dumped into the existing insufficient street grid.

      Dr. Will is not an adjoining neighbor of the PG&E site. My business certainly is. I would have no reason whatsoever to oppose development on the PG&E site, and would have many good financial reasons to support it.

      1. Gunrocik

        My  definition of adjoining neighbors would include all the residents east of the railroad tracks to L Street and from 2nd Street up to about 8th Street.  My guess is that these neighborhoods would be quite involved at every public meeting and play a significant role in ensuring that the project would have little or no chance of approval.

        1. hpierce

          Have always found it amusing to see folk re-define words, particularly if they have legal and technical meanings, to fit their view of the world, and/or to influence other folk toward their view.  Sweet.  “Adjoining” is both a technical and legal term.  Notice the roots of the word.

        2. Tia Will

          I am very late to this conversation, but since specifically named, I will join in. For those who have decided that they know my position on every issue, I will share this. The PG&E lot lies along  one of the routes I walk to work. As I was walking this route yesterday, I was wondering what had happened to the idea of development of the PG&E lot in a general sense, and thinking to myself that this, in addition to some other spaces that had previously been discussed might not be better choices than the peripheral sites. Wondered is the key word. Not having sufficient information, I could make no judgement one way or the other, but I am not opposed simply on the basis of proximity and would prefer not to be spoken for.

          If you want to know my position on something, why not ask me rather than trying to shove me into your tidy little box labeled “what Dr. Will must think” ?

      2. Matt Williams

        Don is correct if the criteria for “adjoining” is “sharing a property line.” On the other hand if one uses the 500 foot distance from a property that is used in personal recusal decisions for governmental bodies like City Council, as well as public noticing regulations, Tia’s property, which is approximately 390 feet from PG&E’s property, would legally qualify as an adjoining neighbor.

      3. hpierce

        BTW Don, your saying you are an adjoiner is legally, and technically correct, as the only thing that separates your property from the PG&E site is a public street/right-of-way.

  5. davisite4

    “The primary reason for this is really the need for large spaces for Tyler Schilling and, really, several other additional businesses. Studio 30 really did a good job of laying out why we need to pursue both strategies.”

    For at least the third time on the Vanguard, let me point out that Schilling is at the moment having LAYOFFS.  It may grow in the future, of course, but it may not.  Why should we make such drastic changes based on uncertainties and volatile industries?

    I’d really like to see the Vanguard address this issue directly.  Did you not hear about the layoffs?

      1. davisite4

        It would be better than the “planning” I’m seeing now, which is something like:

        Claim that drastic changes must be put into place because of some urgency.
        When urgency dissipates, insist that drastic changes must still occur just in case urgency recurs.
        Completely ignore the history of booms and busts and imagine a future where there will be only boom times that will magically save us.

        1. Frankly

          “Drastic changes” – Hyperbole and indicative of change aversion.  What is “drastic” is our previous lack of economic development.  That is measurably drastic.  The proposed innovation parks are not by any reasonable comparison.

          “When urgency dissipates” – Says who?  Please explain.

          “Completely ignore the history of booms and busts.” – Who is ignoring this?  Please explain.  Note that the status quo resulted in pretty significant BUST times as a result of the overall economic downturn… something that is cyclical and will happen again.  In opposing the innovation parks you would be just inviting more of the same in the future, right?  If not, then please explain.

        2. davisite4

          “Drastic” is a 200 acre peripheral business park (far larger than anything currently in Davis), prime farmland lost, open space lost, with thousands of new employees in Davis, with the increased traffic, pressure for increased housing, increased rental and housing costs (pricing out those who are not in tech, as has happened in San Francisco) — all of which might be worth it if we’d been given some reason to think that all of these negatives would be outweighed by positives.  But that case has not been made.  We’ve only been given pie in the sky.

          “Urgency dissipates” is because instead of Schilling growing and needing more space now, now, now (as proponents of the peripheral business park had said) — we learn that Schilling is having layoffs.  If the layoffs doesn’t mean less urgency, I’d like to hear the argument why not (thus, my repeated requests for the Vanguard to cover this topic).

          “Completely ignoring history”: The recent bust actually hit Davis much less hard (e.g., many fewer foreclosures) than the rest of the country.  That has a lot to do with the university, which was hit by the bad economy but not to the same extent.  In contrast, most other industries crashed when tech crashed. And we’re talking about putting tech in the peripheral business parks.  Fill in the blanks.  We’re not paying attention to history.  Tech parks will not help us ride out the next bust.  They’ll just give us a big empty 200 acre ghost town on the edge of Davis.  We’d be better off with diverse, smaller scale infill projects, as suggested by James Zanetto and Judy Corbett.

        3. Davis Progressive

          very much disagree.  the two spots for the business park – one is NOT prime farmland, in fact it’s relatively poor farmland.  the other is land that is surrounded by land in a conservation easement.  you keep forgetting that the build out is 20 to 50 years.  that means on the high end, you are adding 10 acres of development a year.  that’s not a drastic change.

          ““Urgency dissipates” is because instead of Schilling growing and needing more space now, now, now (as proponents of the peripheral business park had said) — we learn that Schilling is having layoffs.  If the layoffs doesn’t mean less urgency, I’d like to hear the argument why not (thus, my repeated requests for the Vanguard to cover this topic).”

          perhaps there is nothing to report.  it doesn’t seem likely that the layoffs would impact future expansion.

          1. Matt Williams

            It is interesting to read this back and forth dialogue between two of our city’s progressives. Different strokes for different folks. It shows why the two most important body parts for our Council members are their two ears. If one is going to represent the citizens, it is important to listen to those citizens.

        4. davisite4

          DP – context is everything.  And if you look, the context for this thread is Schilling, which means Mace and prime farmland.  So, yes, the other site is not prime farmland, but there was never any serious consideration of putting Schilling there, and in any case (as you know) it’s “on hold” (whatever that means).

          To me, it’s the total size of the thing that matters, not the incremental increase per year.  And 200 acres is very large for Davis.

          Schilling’s layoffs now may or may not affect future expansion — right.  But the case had been made, particularly by Rochelle, that we had to find something now for Schilling.  If I recall correctly, there was even the suggestion that we might barely be in time (that we were cutting it close for them).  That urgency seems to be gone.  Not only is Schilling not expanding right now; they are contracting.  But (to repeat myself), what I am really asking is for some reporting and analysis on this issue.  It seems to me that the particular urgency that we’d heard about has eased, and no one has given me reason to think otherwise.  (Of course, Schilling hopes that the market for oil will get better and that they will grow again.  But no one really knows if that will happen in any sort of robust way.  There is at least some reason to think that oil is yesterday’s industry).

        5. Mark West

          davisite4 “It seems to me that the particular urgency that we’d heard about has eased”

           

          It is pure speculation at this point to say that the layoffs, or even the current industry slowdown, have any material impact on the planned expansion by Shilling.  Successful companies involved in industries with boom and bust cycles know that they need to expand during the slowdown periods so that they are prepared to take advantage of the next boom cycle. Therefore, there is no indication that this particular urgency as you call it, has eased at all.

          More to the point of the article however (economic development in Davis), there has been no significant ‘easing’ of our fiscal problems, which is the driving ‘urgency’ for the proposed business parks.

        6. hpierce

          Feel a need to correct you… 90 % of what City “planning” does today is planning how to process applications for ‘development’ proposals… 90% political, 10% (or less) on what is the “right thing to do”  [apologies, I’m in  a dark, pessimistic, ‘nattering nabob of negativism’ mode as I write this… quiz question… who is famous for the NNON quote?  And it’s not me… and if you know the answer without doing a google search, you’re ‘long in the tooth’].

        7. davisite4

          It is pure speculation at this point to say that the layoffs, or even the current industry slowdown, have any material impact on the planned expansion by Shilling.

          For the umpteenth time, that is why I am asking for some reporting on this topic.  On the face of it, it doesn’t look good.  But maybe there is more to the story.  If so, I’d like to hear it.

          Successful companies involved in industries with boom and bust cycles know that they need to expand during the slowdown periods so that they are prepared to take advantage of the next boom cycle. Therefore, there is no indication that this particular urgency as you call it, has eased at all.

          What — Schilling is shrinking and growing at the same time?  Sorry, but you’re not making any sense.  There is no indication that they are “expanding,” only that they have cut their workforce.

          More to the point of the article however (economic development in Davis), there has been no significant ‘easing’ of our fiscal problems, which is the driving ‘urgency’ for the proposed business parks.

          If you go back to the quote that started this thread, you’ll see that it is very much to the point of the article (namely, David’s claim that smaller parcels just aren’t sufficient for the businesses in town – and he named Schilling specifically).  And (as I have said already in this thread), giving Schilling space to move to so that they don’t have to leave Davis has been a stated reason by at least one Councilmember for a business park at Mace.

        8. Frankly

          Davisite4 – I think maybe you don’t have much understanding of private business.  A successful private company works at both a strategic and tactical/operational level.  Shilling can be responding to immediate market changes whithout it impacting their long-range strategy.  In fact, market swings of oil are likely included in their strategy and certain positions in the company are connected to that volatility.   Shilling has to stem the bleeding from operations for the immediate term precisely because it can impact capital for executing their long-range strategy.

          But I don’t know why you are so fixated on Shilling.  They are just one of a number of great companies that would locate here with the innovation parks.  If you are so concerned about Shilling moving into a more extended period of decline, all the more reason to support greater business diversity.  How many innovation companies in Davis would be so connected to the energy markets?  Likely not many.

  6. Frankly

    Apparently a big new PG&E facility is planned for Winters.  Does anyone know if the Davis site supports regional business that might shift to the new Winters facility?

  7. Jim Gray

    Recently, Jim Zanetto a talented, long time local architect and Judy Corbett, a great planner with considerable experience in development and public policy wrote an Op Ed in the Davis Enterprise and they offered that Davis needs to do economic development the “Davis Way” and portions of their article along with additional comments from David Greenwald were posted on the Vanguard. 

     Let me begin by complementing Corbett and Zanetto. They both have brought many outstanding qualities to our community and care deeply about our community.  Elements of their Op Ed are very important to remember, including the following: enhance and protect a strong downtown, address transportation and pedestrian issues, and protect agricultural land.  That said, I believe a couple of other aspects need to be more fully considered and addressed. We can and must do those things as we also create infrastructure and facilities for science, technology, engineering companies and other knowledge workers.

     Let’s offer real solutions if the goal is to create future jobs.  Getting critical infrastructure planned and built needs to be a real focus for our future economic health. Redevelopment of the PG&E Site at 5th and L Street is periodically offered as a “better alternative” for development.  But unfortunately the truth is that this is an “Alternative Non-Solution.”

    The site is owned and used by PG&E and creates many local jobs and it serves an important role for the public utility in support, equipment, training, readiness and logistics at this old facility.  It has critical infrastructure for PG&E including both electric and gas line facilities.   Numerous folks have offered PG&E’s site for future development, but not PG&E. 

    Rule one of any development project is to have site control and a willing developer/owner.  If the site becomes available it might be a very good site for infill development.  But that is not likely to happen anytime soon.  Also, PG&E’s activities taking place there would need to be relocated before the site is ever really offered for any promise or potential.  Also, before this site could be a serious location for redevelopment, issues related to environmental clean-up would have to be studied and potentially addressed.   (I have no personal knowledge of problems at the site, but serious due diligence would need to be considered.) 

    The “Davis Way” should include a review of real, practical, implementable alternatives in the near term.  It should not include offering solutions that aren’t really available in the short or intermediate term.  We need to create a climate that enables us to attract and retain good jobs and real economic options now for our future economic vitality. Let’s focus on implementable planning.

    1. Don Shor

      Great comment. This is really key:

      Numerous folks have offered PG&E’s site for future development, but not PG&E.
      Rule one of any development project is to have site control and a willing developer/owner.

      Fifth Street could happen if somebody in the city or on the council moved on it. Maybe it would happen in a few years. Certainly it could happen sooner than the PG&E site, but just coordinating a development project between the city and the school district isn’t likely to occur at lightning speed. Let’s say it could be a mid-term planning process, a longer-term implementation.

      1. Davis Progressive

        but it’s 25 acres.  to paraphrase michael bisch from last year, the studio 30 report considered all of these properties and concluded even if available, we still need a peripheral park.

        1. Matt Williams

          DP, it is a gross 25 acres, but given the natural gas pipeline infrastructure on site PG&E will not ever consider leaving all 25 acres.  The net acres that might be converted to other uses is probably no gretar then 15-20 acres.

  8. Frankly

    What Jim said.

    Ironic isn’t it, that we plan on using sites we do not control, and squander the use of sites that we do control.

    I think we lack control.

  9. Davis Progressive

    first, i would like to commend jim gray on a classy and dignified response.

    second, like most i see the solutions offered as non-starters.

    third, i am increasingly concerned that we are headed towards an inevitable rejection of the economic development concepts.

  10. Gunrocik

    From davisite4:  To me, it’s the total size of the thing that matters, not the incremental increase per year.  And 200 acres is very large for Davis.

    The Davis bubble never ceases to amaze me.  200 acres is the bare minimum for putting together a financially successful tech park nowadays.

    As we continue to live in Brigadoon, the rest of the world actually wants jobs — because last time I checked, jobs are what feed our families, pay for our services, and provide a future for our children.

    We can pretend that we can live indefinitely off the UC Davis mother ship, but our city budget shows otherwise.  If we don’t continue to reinvest in our community and take advantage of being adjacent to one of the foremost economic engines in the world, they are going to build their own facilities — and don’t forget–they have 5,300 acres of their own–and won’t have to share any of the proceeds from development with the City of Davis.  And we’ll be left with crumbling roads, red tagged facilities, deteriorating parks and no money to pay for services.

    If you think 200 acres is large, take a look at what we are competing against.  Here is where Tesla is headed:

    http://www.tahoereno.com/fast-facts/

    “The Tahoe Reno Industrial Center has 30,000 developable acres to accommodate over 300 million square feet.”

    You can also get your building permit in 30 days and build your building in 180 days.  Not to mention the lack of state income tax and lots of other incentives for businesses to relocate.

    It is truly amazing that any  businesses at all are left in California…

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