Neighbors Up in Arms About the Height of Proposed Trackside Infill Development

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Resident Alan Miller demonstrates the size disproportionality using blocks and riffing from Sesame Street.
Resident Alan Miller demonstrates the size disproportionality using blocks and riffing from Sesame Street.

It began ominously with Alan Miller prancing up to the podium, in tow with props, singing an off-tune jaunt of Sesame Street’s “One of these things is not like the other.” In all fourteen neighbors, mostly residents of Old East Davis, came to Public Comment last night to talk about the proposed Trackside Infill project – all of them complaining that the proposed six-story development violates guidelines, is out of character with the neighborhood – which are mostly flats or two-story homes, and would harm community sightlines.

Located at the southwest corner of the city block bounded by 3rd/4th Street and California Northern Railroad’s short-line railroad (RR) and I Street, the quarter acre property represents “one of the largest infill opportunities in the Core Area of Davis.”

It is currently an underutilized site, with two commercial buildings, each one-story, that take up about half of the lot and the other half is private parking.

Trackside-1

It also has a unique approach with a group of local investors, many of whom have deep ties to the community: Sandra & Philip Bachand, Jeremy Brooks, Joy Cohan, Jim Davis & Lori Schilling Davis, Carol & Bill Elms, Lucas & Stacie Frerichs, Steve & Teri Greenfield, Craig & Tracey Long, Bret Hewitt & Deborah Pinkerton, Matt Kowta, Mitch Mysliwiec & Michelle Millet, Justin Owens, Kemble & Katherine Pope, Sandy Paige, Bill Roe, Chuck Roe, Eric & Channa Roe, Jeff & Deb Stromberg, Craig & Michelle Stromberg, Eric & Pat Stromberg, Krista & Carson Wilcox, and Carri & Jay Ziegler.

In their project description, they write, “This project is being created by a collaborative design-build process with ongoing input from the company’s owners, many neighbors in Old East Davis and Downtown Davis, City Staff, community leaders and members of the Davis City Council.”

However, it is here where the project received criticism – not just for the height of the building, but also many of the neighbors claimed to have never been contacted.

Trackside-2 Trackside-3

Alan Miller said that in the Enterprise article on this development, the design process resulting from meeting with community members including neighbors. “This assertion was contested at our neighborhood meeting on Sunday where no one believed the neighborhood had been properly contacted, in fact the terms used to describe the attempt at the so-called outreach by the apparent liaison was: failed to follow through on meetings, some even said deceitful and lied, withheld information such as size and height…

“No attempt was made to contact the Old East Davis Neighborhood Association itself,” Mr. Miller said.

Tia Will told the council that she is “absolutely delighted at the thought of an upgrade to these buildings which are very old, clearly past their prime, and needing development.”

However, she was critical of the project as designed. “The proposal is to put in a six-story building in an area in which the maximal height of residences is two stories and many of them are one-story. I see this as a clear departure from the nature of the existing neighborhood.”

Ms. Will said that in recent years there have been a lot of respectful approaches to development which includes outreach from the developers to the neighbors. She said, “This (approach) has absolutely been lacking from this process as best I can tell. I see it as disregardful and disrespectful of the neighbors that are currently there.”

Robert Canning emphasized “the rather large size of the Trackside Development.” “Old East Davis does not need a new sunshade next to the railroad tracks,” he quipped. “It’s out of proportion and really out of character for Old East Davis. It goes against the guidelines that were drawn up and then revised within the last ten years.”

Valerie Jones and Cathy Forcas brought their own prop showing the disproportionate size of the proposed development
Valerie Jones and Cathy Forkas brought their own prop showing the disproportionate size of the proposed development

Valerie Jones and Cathy Forkas brought their own props, showing the disproportionate size of the proposed development compared to the housing sizes.

Ms. Forkas said she was contacted by Kemble Pope, the liaison to the developers, who described, she said, without drawings their proposed design. “When he told me about the height of the project, I told him I didn’t think the neighborhood would support anything that tall,” she said.

She said he seemed to want to “genuinely engage” on the project and said that the immediate neighbors had been contacted and “were onboard with the project.”

“I was taken aback when the Enterprise article appeared a couple of weeks later saying that there had been neighborhood input and that the plan had already been submitted to the city,” she said. She said those neighbors she talked to had not been contacted. “I may have been the only resident, that I was able to find, who had been contacted to discuss the project.”

Another neighbor pointed out the discrepancy between the current plan and the neighborhood guidelines. She notes that “large three bedroom and four bedroom apartment type houses are inappropriate.” Front elevations should be similar to those in the block.

They have concerns about how densification will impact parking. They are proposing 76 bedrooms, 37 dens, so over 100 rooms that could accommodate one to two people each, but only 51 parking places. She is concerned about the parking to accommodate both commercial and the residents.

“I’m very uncomfortable and would like to see a retraction from the Enterprise, because none of us were contacted outside of Cathy that we can confirm, to discuss this project,” she said.

Rhonda Reed, President of the Old East Davis Neighborhood Association, noted that many of her neighbors have never come to council to speak before. She said she is disappointed at the portrayal that the neighbors had been contacted in this process.

She is concerned that the developers did not engage the community in this process. “The concerns over mass and scale have been well-demonstrated tonight,” she told the council. “The transitional guidelines from the core area to the neighborhood area are very explicit in terms of how that should be done, this project isn’t even close.”

John Douthitt closed the comments told the council he has talked to people about the scale of the project – “They’re talking about a six story building up there. Uniform, everybody’s response is ‘you’ve got to be kidding,’ It’s not sort of like ‘maybe.’” He said, “There’s no possible way that anybody would think that made sense.”

They had originally planned to meet with some of the partners in the project after liaison Kemble Pope returned from vacation late this month.

Late last night, another partner, Steve Greenfield, told the Vanguard that “Kemble is the project’s public liaison and met with immediate project neighbors.”

He told the Vanguard, “We put a lot of thought into various vantage points in the neighborhood, and made a concerted effort to step back the building from many angles as well as prepared photorealistic imagery from public viewpoints to show the building’s massing in the context of other structures and the urban forest.”

He noted, “Even our Architect who prepared the photo sims was surprised at how little of the building will be visible.”

Trackside-4 Trackside-5 Trackside-6

He added, “Our goal is to take a worn out, underutilized commercial site, located within the Core Area Specific Plan, currently zoned as Mixed Use and transform it into a vibrant, transit oriented, bicycle and pedestrian friendly site with high quality architecture that fulfills a variety of housing and retail needs in the downtown.”

—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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129 thoughts on “Neighbors Up in Arms About the Height of Proposed Trackside Infill Development”

  1. Tia Will

    Even our Architect who prepared the photo sims was surprised at how little of the building will be visible.””

    I was surprised too. What surprised me was the artful angles that were chosen to depict a six story building so as to appear to blend or fit in with the existing one story homes and structures. What is not portrayed in these very carefully chosen shots is the view from across the street, the loss of view of the surrounding homes, the loss of privacy of the surrounding homes, the loss of sunlight of the surrounding homes. Also not portrayed are parking and traffic impacts nor the loss of character of the existing neighborhood.

    1. hpierce

      OK, Tia, you reject densification within the City [arguably, within the “Core”], and reject peripheral development.  Got it.

      Guess it gets down to oxen and goring…

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        In fairness to Tia, that’s not quite what I think she said. She seemed to favor redevelopment there but thought that this proposal was too high for that location. I think that’s a reasonable point.

      2. Barack Palin

        No, what I got from Tia’s post is she doesn’t want a 6 story albatross slapped in the middle of  one and two story homes.  It’s a very interesting collection of investors to say the least.

        1. hpierce

          An “albatross”… interesting allusion… beautiful in flight, clumsy on take-off and landing…

          “view-scapes”?  Yeah, right… how many folk in that ‘neighborhood’ gaze out at their homes, admiring the view?

          “light”?  how many solar panels will be affected?  The proposed project may shield some adjacent residences from summer solar heat gain.

          I really don’t care whether the project is built or not .  I am concerned about hypocritical and self-righteous views being used to ‘leverage’ a proposal.  Beyond “NIMBY”, more like “BANANA”.

          The arguments against the project, as articulated to date, are specious at best.  If I am correct, it has just been ‘submitted’ as a proposal, and has not been vetted (there may indeed be REAL reasons why it should be modified/rejected), but I find it interesting that Tia and BP (with David “defending’) all seem to be in agreement that it shouldn’t even be considered.  Interesting implications for ‘free speech’ in even asking.

    1. Matt Williams

      Yes hpierce, it was indeed part of general public comment before the consent agenda.

      The evening’s entire agenda was prone to public comment …

      — The Old East Davis neighborhood comments about the Trackside project.

      — Item D of the Consent Agenda (which was pulled from Consent and concerned the Central Park Conceptual Design) prompting comments about the proposed design for the fire-damaged area around the oak tree at the north end of the shed. Residents of the B Street/University/A Street neighborhood objected to the noise pollution aspects of the west facing performance stage that is part of the design.

      — The residents of Koso Street raising concerns about the design of The Villages at Willow Creek, between 500 and 700 Drummond Avenue.

      — The latest chapter (perhaps the last) of the Paso Fino Planned Development and subdivision.

      and

      — The Review of the FY 2015-2016 Proposed Annual Budget

      A pattern emerges when one looks at how effective those respective public comments were. Although the members of Council listened closely to the Central Park Conceptual Design comments and the Villages at Willow Creek comments, in the end, both those items ended in a “I move the staff recommendation” motion that was seconded and passed unanimously.

      The story was different for Paso Fino, the Budget review and the Trackside Center comments. In all three of those situations, the respective public commenters came to the process early with public comments … long before any Council decision was impending. The early public comments made in each of those respective issues were followed up by thoughtful and sometimes tenacious attention to the process that the issue was being judged under (or by). The Trackside commenters are at the very beginning of their issue’s processing. They have a long road ahead of them, as do the project’s proposing principals. Time will tell how it all plays out, but what the Paso Fino process and the Budget Review process tell us is that if anyone takes a break from their due diligence the decision might end up being made while they weren’t paying attention.
      The lesson to be learned

  2. Mark West

    This looks like an excellent, well designed project that represents the type of redevelopment that we so desperately need to reinvigorate our core area.  Expanding the downtown with buildings that offer both commercial and residential solutions is an excellent step forward. If we are not going to allow the City to grow outward, then we need to start growing up and this project looks like it will be a great start to that process.

     

    1. hpierce

      You make good points… the existing use is, more than somewhat ugly. It’s also “dead’ at 5 PM.  Personally, would like to see something like the Roe Building @ Fifth and G, and maybe one story taller with the associated increased residential use in/near the “Core”.

    2. Davis Progressive

      i agree with growing upwards and densifying, i still think six stories in a transitional area is too much.  if we had a bunch of 8 story buildings in the downtown, then maybe.

    3. Robert Canning

      I think it would be a better step forward if the developers would really sit down with the neighborhood to discuss it. Kemble may be the public “liaison” but he hasn’t been liaising very well.

      We (the neighbors) agree that it would be nice to redevelop the site. But six stories is too much. It would be taller than the USDA building and it’s attendant parking garage. It would be the tallest building in Davis outside of campus. It goes against the design guidelines for the neighborhood (by height at least) and doesn’t seem very “transitional” from downtown to Old East Davis.

      This is not a matter of NIMBY, we are happy to talk with them and help to design a project that would be vibrant and add to the City and neighborhood. The developers just have not been very collaborative as yet and to be honest, I hope we don’t see a repeat of the Cannery, where many promises were made and few have panned out.

  3. Don Shor

    The architect’s renderings are very helpful, but it’s hard to get a perspective on the size of this. Is there another six-story building in town for comparison?

    1. hpierce

      Don… think you have to look to UCD for a six-story building… and this proposal, despite the detractors rhetoric, appears to be a 5 +.

      Perhaps the project should be downsized a bit, but looks like the fix is in for the project to be all or nothing.

      1. Mark West

        Instead of ‘downsizing’ the project, I would argue that the neighborhood needs to be ‘up-sized.’  There is no excuse for our continued inefficient use of land.  The whole area along third street from the tracks to L street should be rezoned to allow multi-story mixed use and high density housing.  In 50 years when PG&E corp yard finally moves out of town, the third street corridor will connect that new development with the downtown.  It is time we start planning for the future instead of sitting in the dark being scared of it.

        1. Robert Canning

          And your suggestion for what is to happen to Old East Davis? It already has a mix of small businesses, apartment buildings and single-family homes. The area has changed dramatically in the last fifty years (as has the City as a whole). Maybe the PG&E should be set aside for six story buildings. It might work better to put it at that end of the Third St. rather than where the developers would like it.

        2. Frankly

          I agree 100% with Mark West.   If you don’t want to build up, then get behind building out.  If you advocate for neither, be prepared to accept all the denigration that you clearly deserve.  And also accept that you have lost credibility to debate anything at all about city development.  If you live in or near the core area of Davis downtown, count on your privacy and big lots and gardens disappearing over time as the downtown grows up.  You want a small and dense city, that is what you will get.

          Or have you been advocating for a small and dense city thinking you would be immune from the impacts going in that direction?

      2. Mark West

        “And your suggestion for what is to happen to Old East Davis?”

        I hope it continues to change and grow as the City grows, with a view towards the future rather than be stuck in the past.

        If you take the area bounded by L street on the East, 8th street on the North and the railroad tracks on the West and South, and you look at all the structures included within, you will find fewer than a dozen that are worthy of preservation. Probably fewer than the number of fingers on your hand – even if you have lost a few.  I have lived in this neighborhood for more than 50 years and there is absolutely nothing about it that deserves to be ‘frozen in amber.’

         

         

    2. Barbara King

      Don, I think Sproul Hall on campus is 9 stories tall.  And Olson, next door, is two stories high.  I don’t know their heights, but maybe looking at them could give a very crude sense of the height difference between the proposed  story building and the nearby homes.

  4. Alan Miller

    “Prancing”?   Really, David? 

    You got the facts dead wrong on this one.  I assure you, I may have been cavorting, bounding, skipping, romping and even — possibly — frolicking.  But I was most certainly NOT “prancing”. 

    And I demand a retraction.

    1. PhilColeman

      Alan: We men “of a certain age” can derive some level of pleasure should we ever be observed as prancing. I can’t remember when I last pranced. Whether you literally pranced or not, the term suggests a level of energy expended; something to be proud of.

      One other thing. When you demand something, almost never do you get it.

      1. Alan Miller

        We men “of a certain age” can derive some level of pleasure should we ever be observed as prancing . . . the term suggests a level of energy expended; something to be proud of.

        I am proud of my cavorting, bounding, skipping, romping and frolicking, all of which radiate from the energy of my glowing nuclear core.

        . . . and I can’t believe we are discussing this.

        When you demand something, almost never do you get it.

        I have ever demanded one thing:  the removal of the MRAP from Davis.

        Case closed.

  5. Tia Will

    This looks like an excellent, well designed project that represents the type of redevelopment that we so desperately need to reinvigorate our core area.”

    If this were truly in the “core area”, I might agree. What is needed is a clarification of “core”.  The neighborhood in question is transitional, not core in my view and the proposal as it stands does not follow the guidelines for the Old East Davis neighborhood where it is located. I definitely favor redevelopment of this block as I stated in public comment. It is the size of the project with which I take exception, as well as the fact that no real outreach to the neighborhood occurred prior to the submission of the proposal.

    1. Mark West

      For the core area to remain a vibrant part of the City, it will need room to grow, just like everything else.  The problem here is not this project, but the backward looking neighborhood ‘guidelines.’  It is time to start looking forward instead of clinging desperately to that which is comfortable.

    2. Franklyi

      Oh Jesus Tia, and how is anyone supposed to consider your arguments credible with this?  You are showing clear NIMBY, change-averse colors here.  We can’t expand the city because you say we need to keep it small and dense.  We can not redevelop with multistory buildings because you say it does not fit with the existing look and feel of the neighborhood.

      I am really disgusted with this two-faced position.   If you don’t want to grow peripherally, then get used to having high-rises in this medium-sized city of 72,000 people that will be 80,000+ people within 10 years.

      Build this thing.  And build more like them.

      Though I do have a problem with there being any CC members or city staff involved or influential in planning and development as investors in any city development project.

      1. Davis Progressive

        i may not always agree with tia, but i believe you are calling her two-faced on a position that she’s completely consistent.  first, she’s not obligated to support densification if she opposes peripheral growth.  second, she’s not obligated to subscribe to your declaration of the population growth over the next year.  and finally, she’s not being inconsistent by arguing that we can have densification but wanting to limit the height of buildings.

        1. Frankly

          DP – UCD is growing by 600 students and about 25 staff per year.  She can “not support” population growth, but it is a useless position given the obvious growth that has occurred and will occur.

          How is anyone supposed to respect a person’s arguments when they are so completely irrational?

          She wants no peripheral growth.  She wants to severely constrain the number of stories that can be built.

          Where the hell does she expect all the people to live?  Where the hell does she expect them to shop in her car-less utopia?

          I am getting real disgusted here with the arguments from people that position themselves as deep thinkers that want to be involved in the solutions for the problems we face… but only are critical.  From my perspective it is looking like all my previous labeling of NIMBY, change-averse, no-growthers has been spot on.

          1. Don Shor

            [moderator]

            From my perspective it is looking like all my previous labeling of NIMBY, change-averse, no-growthers has been spot on.

            But it also violates the Vanguard comments policy. Please stick to the issues and avoid name-calling.
            Thanks.

        2. Davis Progressive

          she’s allowed to want no peripheral growth.  you may disagree with her, but she’s allowed to have her opinion on the matter.  if ucd is growing by 600 students a year, then they have an obligation to find a housing solution and so far they have not carried the water on this.  they are still at the low end of uc’s in terms of on-campus housing, they’ve backed down on redeveloping solano park, and dragging their feet on nishi.

    3. Barbara King

      Below  is a link to the “City of Davis Core Area Specific Plan Land Use Designations.”

      If I am reading it correctly, the site in question is in a part of the core area designated retail with office.  The only part of that area east of the tracks that is designated core area retail with office is the narrow strip of properties from Third to Fifth and west of the alley.

      http://cityofdavis.org/media/Default/Documents/PDF/GIS/maps/Core%20Area%20Specific%20Plan%205-2013.pdf

      I don’t know how to post that graphic here.  If someone else knows how, could you please post it?  Thank you.

  6. Tia Will

    hpierce

    Perhaps the project should be downsized a bit, but looks like the fix is in for the project to be all or nothing.”

    I am not understanding your comment. Who do you feel has created a situation in which “the fix is in for the project to be all or nothing” ?

     

  7. Davis Progressive

    i think a 3 to 4 story building works there.  i agree it’s an under-utilized site, but i think the neighbors who sunk in their money have a point as well.  compromise 3-4 stories, maybe 4 and a half .

    1. hpierce

      DP regarding two of your posts (and not singling you out, but you made two important points).  Perhaps folk are so “into” compromising, that someone has to propose a 5-6 story building, in order to get a 3-4 one.  “Guidelines” refer to standards, that were “sorta” principles, in order to placate someone.  Most are not based on rational thought (related to land use), and were more based on compromises and political expedience [or, more darkly, brought forward to justify the number of ‘planners’ we’ve had, to come up with ‘standards’, based on their philosophy, not necessarily the community’s.

      1. Don Shor

        Perhaps folk are so “into” compromising, that someone has to propose a 5-6 story building, in order to get a 3-4 one.

        Funny, that was my first thought when I saw this.
        How many stories is the parking garage next to the movie theater?

        1. hpierce

          Depends whether you define a “story” as a roof that’s used for parking and/or HVAC. Am guessing, drawing on memory, that both USDA/private parking garage, and the Cinema @ First and F are four story, with the top “story” being open parking, HVAC, etc.

      2. Davis Progressive

        i just think if we have reasons to change the guidelines, we should change them rather than ignore them when they are inconvenient to us.

      1. Davis Progressive

        if that’s the case, then change the guidelines, but don’t ignore them when they’re inconvenient, then the guidelines are meaningless.  whereas if we decide that the guidelines reflect the values of a bygone era, we change them, and that preserves their value while adapting our policies.

        1. hpierce

          Somebody (in today’s reality) has to pay for staff to develop/vet/get approval to change “guidelines”.  Why would someone pay for that, except for their own project?

        2. Davis Progressive

          why can’t the council ask staff, community, and council to re-examine the guidelines, reevaluate their need/ wisdom, and then change them if the need exists?

        3. Mark West

          The only pressure to change the guidelines comes when a developer proposes a project that forces a change.  The developer is looking forward in a new direction for the future.  That is how the world works.

          Sitting around talking about the guidelines is just another example of looking backwards and enshrining what is comfortable. In other words…the ‘Davis way.’

           

    1. hpierce

      “guidelines”… “standards”… “mandates”.  Funny how words mean different things to different people.

      Kinda’ like “aspirations”, “desires”, “needs”, etc.

      Know that doesn’t fully answer your question, but…

  8. ryankelly

    I think this is what infill is supposed to look like.  I think it is appropriate for its location (right along the railroad tracks), creating new living space adjacent to the downtown and also retaining retail space.

    1. Frankly

      Agree with you ryankelly.  This is exactly the type of project we will need more of if not the alternative peripheral development.  When land is expensive and made scarce, for a growing city, the only option is to grow up.

      If the number of stories are reduced, it reduces the utility of the expensive and scarce land and makes the housing more limited and more costly.  And once that decision is made, there is no going back to make better use of the land.

  9. Davis Progressive

    “If you don’t want to build up, then get behind building out.”

    what if you don’t agree in having an 80,000 person davis by 2025?

    1. Frankly

      Then move away because there is nothing at all you can do to prevent it because of UCD.  Just like there was nothing you could have done to prevent Davis growing to 72,000 people when you wanted it stuck at 50,000 or less.

      Please explain how you would prevent the growth in Davis given UCD’s stated plan to add 600 students per year and 25 employees to handle the additional students.  In 10 years that is another 6250.  Add a few more residents and we get to that 80,000 number in 10 years without a problem.

      1. Davis Progressive

        doesn’t seem like that’s the case.  i seem to recall passing measure j and the effect of measure j was to slow down the rate of growth.  so while i may not be able to stop it, i can certainly with the help of my fellow citizens slow it down.  you’re getting frustrated because you’re powerless to force growth.

        1. Frankly

          Ah…   yes, the liberal tactic of forced scarcity to engineer society to help satiate their anxiety over stuff happening.

          Everyone please take notice of this post from DP.  It is very clear that he really does not give a s*** about anyone else except himself on this topic.   He is fine keeping the vacancy rate .03% because this forced scarcity of housing helps limit growth… no matter that it also causes the cost of housing do to the low supply and high demand to skyrocket, and low-income people suffer with affordability and kids suffer even greater student debt by the time they graduate.

          We can see it now.  It is all selfish… people don’t want any impacts to their precious existence, and so to hell with everyone else.  I get it now.  It is someone else’s problem to solve in a way that does not cause them even the tiniest impact.

          I appreciate the honesty of DP for this.

        2. Davis Progressive

          actually i do care about the vacancy rate but i would prefer it handled by the campus rather than the city since it’s the campus that’s generating that rate.

        3. Davis Progressive

          then you have the current situation: measure r lock on the periphery, neighborhood rallies on infill, and a university not willing to pull its weight on housing.

          1. Don Shor

            I’ve had this exact conversation now with about four people.

              “We need more rental housing. The vacancy rate is really low.”
              “UC needs to build more housing. It’s their fault/problem.”
              “And what if they don’t?”
              Shrug. “Oh well.”

            What you just did was shrug and go ‘oh well’. And the vacancy rate falls lower and the people who can least afford it pay the most for their housing, or live elsewhere.

          1. Don Shor

            In what possible sense did I “shrug” on Mace 391? I opposed conversion of that farmland to commercial development. There was no housing proposed. I support development of the 200 acres next to Mace 391 for a business park largely because the Mace 391 parcel has been conserved, so developing the Ramos/Bruner parcels does not promote urban sprawl.
            Your analogy is groundless, your comment is gratuitous, and you still have no answer for the “what if they don’t” question except “oh well.”

        4. Davis Progressive

          my point is that you see emergencies where you see emergencies.  you’re not going to get the bulk of the community on board with you on this and so if the university doesn’t do it, it is de facto – oh well.

    2. Mark West

      what if you don’t agree in having an 80,000 person davis by 2025?

       

      The world’s population is increasing and anyone who has had children is part of the problem.  The population of Davis will have to grow as the population of the region expands.  Creating an island of ‘no growth’ is just passing the responsibility on to others, and is frankly the worst kind of NIMBY nonsense.

       

        1. Don Shor

          It depends on how you count the on-campus population. Presently (2010) the city is about 65-66,000, and the campus is about 5-6,000. We’re halfway to the Chancellor’s goal of 6000 additional by 2020. The population will grow by students cramming into single-family residences throughout the city, by UC densifying the housing they’re replacing right now, and by UC building additional housing. That will happen regardless of what happens to the city’s private housing stock. Do you consider it good planning for single-family homes to be repurposed as rentals all over the community?

      1. hpierce

        More accurately, right now, with the effect of the “boomers”, the problem is that our parents had children.

        As Walt Kelly said, “We have met the enemy, and it is us”.  I miss Pogo.

  10. Frankly

    if ucd is growing by 600 students a year, then they have an obligation to find a housing solution and so far they have not carried the water on this.

    This is getting ridiculous.   So what if UCD buys the parcels and builds housing on them?  If UCD builds housing on the land it already owns, then Davis will grow peripherally.   And then there is that SPRAWL thing that we are all supposed to be fearful of (even though those that use the term don’t have a clue what it really means).

    You and Tia seem to be stuck in a conundrum of not wanting current reality and the inevitable future, and are stubbornly sticking to some virtual reality.

    Sometimes what you want isn’t available and so you have to reset your expectations to reality.

    1. Davis Progressive

      ” So what if UCD buys the parcels and builds housing on them?  If UCD builds housing on the land it already owns, then Davis will grow peripherally.”

      apparently you’re not as smart as i give you credit for.  what do you mean so what?  first, the impact is less if ucd students live on campus – fewer cars, less impacts on the roads, they can bike and walk to class from their residences – that’s where and you want to grow.  moreover, they can build up especially there and on nishi without having huge impacts on existing residents.  i know the west davis people hemmed and hawed about west village, but when i drive out there, it’s not a big deal – it’s not on top of their homes. and if the university owns the land, i assume they will eventually develop it.  at some point, perhaps soon, i expect a massive innovation park there.  so from both a practical standpoint and a landuse standpoint, i think we it makes more sense to put student housing on campus.

      1. Frankly

        This is a bunch of hogwash nuance.   So, apparently your driving criteria is no impacts.  No change.   N I M B Y isms.

        If the housing is built on campus land it will be 5-6 stories.  It will expand the footprint of the town.  The students would maybe be closer to their classes… but not necessarily… and they certainly would be no closer to the city center where they would go to shop and bank and eat, etc.

        I guess you just don’t want those students living next door.  Don’t want renters next door.  What to retain your big residential lot in the core area while staying active in the crusade to block any peripheral development.  I get it now.  I just wish you and others were open and honest about your bias.

        1. Davis Progressive

          not no impacts – mitigated impacts.  not no change.  mitigated change.

          “If the housing is built on campus land it will be 5-6 stories.”

          yeah, on a campus with a number of such buildings, away from the town where people are impacted.

          “It will expand the footprint of the town.”

          but more narrowly than building in other locations.

          “The students would maybe be closer to their classes… but not necessarily… and they certainly would be no closer to the city center where they would go to shop and bank and eat, etc.”

          why not?  the place where campus is growing the most is walking distance from downtown.  why not cluster your housing in that spot?

          “I guess you just don’t want those students living next door.  Don’t want renters next door.  What to retain your big residential lot in the core area while staying active in the crusade to block any peripheral development.  I get it now.  I just wish you and others were open and honest about your bias.”

          i don’t have a big residence – i have a small house and almost no yard.  my living situation would be largely unaffected by where we decide to grow.  you’re point is misplaced.  and while i’m relatively close to this particular development, i’m far enough away that it won’t directly impact me either.

          1. Don Shor

            I think they’re going to build on campus anyway, probably multi-stories and likely right smack along Russell Blvd. This isn’t an either/or proposition.

        2. Frankly

          You don’t have a problem with that, but I am sure the residents along Russell Blvd. would.   They went ape s*** over UCD talking about connecting the University Village development to Russell.

          Here is the thing.  If you live next to open land that isn’t locked into a permanent open space status, your expectation that you will not be impacted by future development on that land should be shot down.

          If you live in the core area, your expectation that there will not be redevelopment that impacts you should be shot down.

        3. Davis Progressive

          which gets back to my point – you’re not going to get to 80,000 by 2025 because the community is opposed to growing.  so if you’re worried about rental space, you need to look to the university, otherwise students are going to live in woodland and sacramento and commute to davis.

        4. Mark West

          New housing on campus brings more people to town using City services,  but no additional tax monies to pay for those services. That is what I consider a worst case scenario. It will be even worse if the University develops the business park instead of the City.  What DP is proposing is a classic case of shooting ourselves in the foot.

        5. Davis Progressive

          i’m completely in favor of the innovation parks, but rental housing, especially apartments is going to be a net drain on city services as well.

        6. Mark West

          but rental housing, especially apartments is going to be a net drain on city services as well.

           

          As the City demonstrated in the evaluation of the Cannery project, the only reason that residential construction is ultimately a net negative is due to uncontrolled compensation costs for City employees.  But even if that is the case, with construction in the City there will always be tax monies coming in to mitigate at least some of those increased costs. With University construction we get all of the increased costs but none of the revenues. Instead of a projection of net negative 20 years out, we will be 100% negative from day one.

      2. UnclearColt

        “i know the west davis people hemmed and hawed about west village….”

         

        That’s exactly the problem.  Everywhere you go in this town, you find nothing but NIMBYs.  That’s the heart of the argument here: you propose infill in town, people say it’s too dense.  You propose peripheral development, people say it’s sprawl.  Campus wants to build more housing, people complain about traffic and too many people.  Residents here are basically forcing students to live in and spend their money in Sacramento.  On top of that, the NIMBYs don’t want light rail coming here so your options are either drive from Sac or make the hour+ trip which only runs once an hour on Yolobus (if you are lucky enough to live near the route).

         

        “…..but when i drive out there, it’s not a big deal – it’s not on top of their homes.”

         

        And this is what all of the NIMBYs need to realize.

        1. Davis Progressive

          i guess you’ll just have to vote the people out of the town.  oh wait – you can’t.  so you’re in effect complaining about the weather.

  11. Tia Will

    I am getting real disgusted here with the arguments from people that position themselves as deep thinkers that want to be involved in the solutions for the problems we face… but only are critical. “

    Let’s focus on the issue, not the accusation of “positioning”. I would love to have been a part of developing a solution to the issue of redeveloping this space. It is clearly in need of redevelopment. The problem is that I, like most of the neighbors was not given that opportunity. As did most of us, I first learned about the scope of this project when I read about it in the Enterprise. There was no invitation to be part of the solution. There was virtual silence on the part of the investment partners and the developer. I don’t see how we could possibly be expected to be involved in solutions from a position of being completely in the dark.

    1. Mark West

      If you are not one of the owners of the property, why do you feel justified in demanding to be part of the process?  The developer makes a proposal and you are welcome to comment on it, but I see no reason to give you or your neighbors any right to veto the project, which is exactly what you are trying to do.

      1. Tia Will

        I see no reason to give you or your neighbors any right to veto the project, which is exactly what you are trying to do.”

        This is inaccurate and completely ignores the first part of my public comment. The part where I said that I welcome updating this property. However, I realize it does not suit some posters agenda to acknowledge this statement. I am not after veto power. I am after collaboration and any of you who read my posts will realize that I am completely consistent on this point.

        1. Biddlin

          Completely consistent and disingenuous, as no proposal will ever rise to the level of “satisfactory”, to you and the other like-closed-minded . There will always be someone who objects to a new development and the reliable Greek choir in the amen corner.

          ;>)/

        2. Mark West

          “This is inaccurate and completely ignores the first part of my public comment.”

           

          The project was not on the City Council agenda.  Your public comment was in response to something you read about in the newspaper.  The only reason you and your neighbors were there was an attempt to kill the project before it can be vetted by City Staff.  Sounds like a veto effort to me.  

  12. Don Shor

    Seems to me that “what we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” I’d guess a lot of issues could be resolved in a meeting between the principals and the neighbors, assuming they can get to that before positions harden even more.

    The fact is that near-neighbor privacy and line-of-sight issues are among the easiest to resolve, it’s just that resolving them is simplest from the property being affected. The developers can’t really plant trees that will mitigate a 6-story building. But the affected neighbor can screen it out with 15-foot-tall shrubs or landscape structures. An arbor with a Lady Banks rose, a row of Italian cypresses, a pleached hedge of heirloom apples; I even know one guy who screened his neighbors using livestock water troughs planted with running bamboo. I hear he’s pretty happy with it.

    The issue is that those things cost money. Nearby neighbors have legitimate complaints about a new building that is so out of scale to the neighborhood. But if they’re open to suggestions, those complaints can be dealt with. Especially if the costs are covered.

    I completely agree with Mark West that the whole area could be rezoned to higher density, mixed use development. And if such rezoning occurred, the current property owners — who would reap quite a windfall in property value increases — could make some decisions about how they wanted to deal with that change.

  13. Frankly

    I even know one guy who screened his neighbors using livestock water troughs planted with running bamboo. I hear he’s pretty happy with it.

    Yes he is.  My one-story house on a pad was built expecting the adjacent lot to be built the same, but instead a two-story on raised foundation was put there.  With windows looking right down into my yard and windows.  I had trees there, but they were problematic.  Bamboo is really awesome for narrow and tall screening.  Highly recommended.  Go see Don Shor about it.

    The fact is that near-neighbor privacy and line-of-sight issues are among the easiest to resolve

    Yes and no.  You can only do so much.

    Have you ever lived in the type of density being demanded by those that reject peripheral growth?  If you have it would be urban and your privacy would be much, much less protected.  There are multi-million dollar homes in San Francisco with direct lines of sigh from surrounding skyscrapers.  If you live in a high-rise and are lucky enough to have a balcony, you will not be private.  And those with a garden below will be seen from above.

    With large enough setbacks, and low enough buildings, then certainly landscaping can do the trick.

    But then we are talking about development that is not dense.

    Frankly, I would prefer we stop having our rears all puckered up about peripheral development.   I prefer to live with land around me to mitigate impacts from my neighbors.  I stay in my current smallish house and yard because my neighbors are all pretty much fantastic, quiet, respectful and often not home.  But I would move to a bigger lot if that was not the case.  I would move away from Davis if I could not find it in Davis.  I’m just not a person that likes to live in high density.  The behavior and noise and smells and ??? from other people bugs me.  I can take it in small doses, but I want peace and quiet and limited distractions from my neighbors, and it requires land separating me from them unless they are really good neighbors… which mine are.

    But that is not the vision demanded by the population.  They have Measure R and the froth at the mouth over peripheral development with lower density housing.  The claim sprawl and farmland destruction.  They demand that we stay small and dense.

    And with that demand comes the necessity to accept that privacy will no longer be a reasonable expectation.  Not being impacted by neighbors will no longer be a reasonable expectation.

    Get real people.  Do one or the other, but to block both makes you someone that the rest of us should just run roughshod over.  Because it is clear you are being selfish and unreasonable in your demands.

  14. Davis Progressive

    a point that hasn’t been raised one of the partners is a sitting davis city councilmember.  isn’t that a massive conflict of interest?  even if he recuses himself on the vote, which i assume he will, there are so many problems with that and no one is talking about it.

    1. ryankelly

      This is not a new thing – Mike Harrington and Ruth Asmundson owned commercial property in the downtown core area and had to recuse themselves on votes at times.  Sue Greenwald, Mike Harrington and Susie Boyd all owned houses (owner occupied or rentals) near downtown area and also had to recuse themselves from voting on various issues.   There are laws that govern this.   They can speak during public comment just like neighbors and other members of the public, but cannot be part of any discussion or vote.

  15. Tia Will

    I guess you just don’t want those students living next door.  Don’t want renters next door.”

    Well if that were true, I certainly would not have purchased the house I live in. There is an apartment complex of two stories across the street from me, readily visible from my front window. One house away to the north is another student enclave of two stories. Just north of that are three student cooperative living spaces.  I chose my neighborhood fully aware of all of this and in part specifically because of this mix. Either you do not know this, or maybe just don’t care because it is far easier to just throw out names such as “two faced”, “selfish” and “unreasonable” than it is to actually consider the reality that is being discussed.

    As for economic gain, that is certainly not part of my considerations. Being three blocks away from the proposed structure, I have no idea how it would impact the economic value of my home, and frankly (because I am) I don’t care. What I do care about is the coherence, compatibility and harmony of my neighborhood. This project as presented does not contribute to any of these values. I would have been very happy to discuss a project that would have brought both economic enhancement and enhancement of these other values. Unfortunately, neither I nor any members of my community were offered this opportunity.

    1. Mark West

      “Unfortunately, neither I nor any members of my community were offered this opportunity.”

       

      And again I ask, why do you feel you deserve to be part of the design process for the project if you are not an investor?  Your opportunity is to present you opinions to the planning commission and potentially the City Council if it is ever discussed there.  That is how the process works.

    2. Frankly

      Mark asks the obvious question.  Where did this expectation of decision authority come from?

      What I do care about is the coherence, compatibility and harmony of my neighborhood.

      Really?  I thought you cared that there was not enough affordable housing in town?  I thought you wanted Davis to stay dense and and be more car-less?

      The problem here is that your definition of neighborhood coherence, compatibility and harmony conflicts with others’ definition, and conflicts with the needs of the city.  What if every person in every neighborhood demanded the same?  What a frigging’ mess that would be.  Oh wait, it is a frigging mess.

      The contradictions in your positions are more numerous than are the acres of build-able open-space surrounding the city.

      Hey, I get the problem with high-rises.  I don’t want to live next to one.   That is one reason I say we do more peripheral development to meet our housing and business needs.  I would prefer we put some green space between the homes and the developments and insert bike path connections.   I would prefer we do some more outward expansion to reduce the need to build up and destroy privacy and sunlight access.

      But you don’t.

      And you apparently don’t support building up either.

      You are one of the party of “no”.  At least be like DP and admit it.

  16. Tia Will

    why do you feel you deserve to be part of the design process for the project if you are not an investor”

    Not me personally. The neighborhood association certainly should have been consulted. The why, is because I believe that collaborative process bring about better results than do adversarial processes. I believe that collaborative processes save time, money, energy and ill feelings. I am completely consistent in this belief. I do not request veto power. I would have appreciated input, just as I am sure that anyone would have if their own neighborhood were involved.

  17. Gunrocik

    As one who has served as a Planning Commissioner in communities very similar to Davis — and in that role reviewed countless infill projects — this is one of the most bungled up project debuts I have ever witnessed.

    For an infill project to have a chance in hell–you need a good architect and a good public outreach specialist.  And you are dead without having an expert in both fields.

    In fact, I believe the public outreach process is even more important than the design process.  Before you even let a project see the light of day, you need to spend a considerable amount of time with the neighborhood — and try to find a way to meet as many of their issues as possible.  I am not saying you must meet all their needs — but it is crucial that you listen and attempt to address their issues wherever it is feasible.

    In places like Davis, process matters — in fact, process matters more than design–unfortunately.  Many of our newer projects downtown are shining examples of process over design.  It seems like in this town, once they’ve put you through the process gauntlet and reduced your buildable footprint– the design is almost an afterthought.

    In any case, if these investors want to have any chance of approval for some sort of building more than 10 feet tall — they need to get rid of the empty suit who is fronting the PR campaign, and bring in a professional to facilitate a series of meetings with the neighborhood.

     

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      My gut reaction was that they are proposing 5.5 stories, knowing they will get knocked back to 4 or 3.

      Two to three stories would fit much better. I don’t see the design element. Where is the natural wood, natural elements that I see in other small college towns?

      1. Frankly

        TBD – You need to brush up on the construction code changes that have happened over the years for fire prevention.  You cannot cover a building like that with wood siding.  In fact, you might not be able to build a house covered in wood any longer.  I know it is against the code in many mountain communities these days.  And for those that do allow wood siding, it is super expensive stuff that is impregnated with expensive fire-prevention chemicals.

        4 or 3 stories would be less tall and cause less anxiety in some people, but it is also fewer units per acre locked into perpetuity.

        1. Frankly

          They would have to be the very expensive kind that is treated with fire retardant.  The cost of those shingles is about the same as terra-cotta shingles.

          I don’t think you can cover a new Davis commercial building in wood these days.  I could be wrong.   I know you can’t do it on residential nor commercial in the mountain community where I have a small cabin.  Stucco and fiber-cement planking are the only siding allowed other than masonry (brick, concrete, etc)

        2. TrueBlueDevil

          I hope, in this instance, that you’re wrong about the Sierra rules applying to Davis and elsewhere. I just figure the kids are all coming from the same architecture program, all building the same stuff, being taught by the same professors.

          I’ve seen applications where shingles are an accent, i.e., 75% stucco, 25% wood shingle.

        3. Tia Will

          4 or 3 stories would be less tall and cause less anxiety in some people, but it is also fewer units per acre locked into perpetuity.”

          Certainly not “locked into perpetuity” as witnessed by the current plan requiring the demolition of the existing buildings. But maybe you will see that as just more “hogwash nuance” despite the obvious truth that nothing lasts into perpetuity.

    2. Tia Will

      Gunrocik

      it is crucial that you listen and attempt to address their issues wherever it is feasible.”

      Despite all those who believe that they know my mind better than I do, this is all that I would have asked for, no more, and no less.

  18. Frankly

    DP: i would prefer it handled by the campus rather than the city since it’s the campus that’s generating that rate.

    I checked and UC Santa Cruz has 50.3% of its student population living in “university-sponsored” housing.

    Does anyone know what the percentage is for UCD?  This is both on campus and off campus housing that is owned and/or managed by the university.

    It would seem fair to see a near 50/50 split.

    I don’t have too big of a problem with the university building more of its own housing except:

    – The city would not have design authority for the project and since UCD owns land adjacent to existing residents of Davis, those residents would suffer impacts without having access to the due process of city planning and development.

    – The city would not get property tax from that housing, yet the residents would use city services.

    Those seem to be pretty big downsides to university-built housing given all the anxiety about impacts from this project.

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      There is plenty of unused land next to West Village. I think many knew this is where we were going when we jumped Highway 113.

      It is tough to imagine UCLA or Berkeley at 50% university housing.

  19. Jim Leonard

    The Enterprise has property nearby and would benefit by having an expensive building in the neighborhood; it has not reported this potential conflict of interest yet.

     

    1. hpierce

      No… conflicts of interest, legally (and in my opinion, morally) only applies to decision makers, not those who would be ‘decision formers’… or would you have anyone whose view differs from you stripped of their first amendment rights?

      1. Jim Leonard

        hpierce, your comment is confusing. Lucas can say what ever he wants to say. I agree with you on that. Lucas should not be able to materially benefit from this downtown project, whether he votes on it or not. There is the possibility of collusion  between council members on investing in the downtown; for example, Dan Wolk could vote for Lucas’ project this time with Lucas recusing himself and Lucas could vote for Dan’s project next time with Dan recusing himself. The public is cheated in such an arrangement. Get it?

  20. Polly Ticks

    Question: is the Michelle Millet in the list of the investors on the Davis Vanguard Editorial Board? David didn’t mention it, but I wanted to check, in the interest of full disclosure …

    1. hpierce

      See my response to Mr Leonard, and the previous discussions of the role (and lack of role) of the VG board.

      I’d worry more (except I’m not worried) of the number of developers, those who have developer clients, and a sitting CC member.  MM has no chance to be a strong influence here.

      1. Polly Ticks

        Thank you, hpierce, for confirming Michelle Millet is indeed on the Davis Vanguard Editorial Board. My concern was not a conflict of interest with either the project or the article appearing here. My question was simply related to full disclosure.

        1. hpierce

          I never “confirmed” anything.  Knew MM had been on the board, at one time, suspect it was not as an “investor” on the VG, and David has explained the rest.

          Your posts intrigue me.  Do you have “interests” in this matter?  Mine are not financial, but philosophic, and I receive no recompense.  Except for ‘process’ [and I don’t believe in an ‘entitlement’ to a pre-application process] and general philosophy, I have no dog in this “fight’. That’s my disclosure.

    2. Tia Will

      Polly Ticks

      Just to clarify and in the interest of full disclosure, Michelle Millet is a former member of the Vanguard editorial board who has resigned her position.

  21. SODA

    I agree with those who are mainly arguing that there was poor to no outreach, except to the newspaper. To me, given the list of investors and especially Kemble Pope who was Chamber ED, that is baffling to say the least. It is now a much more an uphill battle to begin to discuss and get to some sort of agreement/compromise/whatever.

    Anyone have a clue why the communication and outreach has been so bungled?

    1. hpierce

      The application is not confirmed as complete to the City.  Are you proposing that all applications be submitted to neighbors before submittal to the City?  Quicksand.  [IMO]

      1. Matt Williams

        What you describe in your question is essentially what Yolo County has done in setting up the General Plan Citizens Advisory Committee process.  It has its good and not so good points.  I served for two years as the Chair of the South Davis Citizens Advisory Committee (SDCAC) you .

  22. Tia Will

    Are you proposing that all applications be submitted to neighbors before submittal to the City?  Quicksand.”

    What you see as “quicksand”, I see as an open, honest, transparent process that is much more likely to lead to a successful conclusion efficiently than is any adversarial process.

  23. larryguenther

    Two issues in this discussion that I see are:

    1) the terms ‘downtown’ and ‘core’.  The location for the proposed development is NOT downtown, and if by ‘core’ we mean center, then it’s not in the center either.  All cities that I know of, build from the center out. This would be the largest building in town and it’s not downtown.  Additionally, the other large buildings in town are not adjacent to single-family, residential structures.

    2) ‘half story.’  In my opinion, from the point of view of height, shadows, etc., a full-height story is a full story.  Looking at the pictures from the proposal it appears that there will be six full stories adjacent to the alley and the residential neighbors to the East.  In my experience when people use the word ‘story’ in this context, they are using it as a unit of height, not area.

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