Residents Call for Safe Streets in Villages at Willow Creek

Google Earth Photo from Cowell and Drummond
Google Earth Photo from Cowell and Drummond

by Jason Tyburczy

Residents of Koso Street in South Davis, many of whom have lived there for more than 15 years, are working to amend a plan for a proposed outlet street from the Villages at Willow Creek onto Koso Street citing dangerous traffic conditions should the project move forward as planned.

Koso Street residents circulated a petition to the City Council to change the current development plan and more than 70% of the 65 Koso Street resident households have signed it.

“We’re not against the proposed development but know that Koso Street is too small to handle the estimated new traffic and parking volume the planned outlet will create,” said Erinne Aboytes, a six-year Koso Street resident and parent of three small children. “It’s difficult to maneuver at the proposed access street entrance point as it is now. Add more parked cars, kids walking, more cars or bike traffic and I’m afraid it will be only a matter of time before someone gets hurt.”

The group of residents has voiced their concerns via city council meetings and direct communication with the Davis Mayor’s office and the developer, yet feel little has been made of their issues. The developer has proposed minimal street markings and low vegetation as the answer but residents disagree.

“Traffic calming is an inadequate answer; changing the location of the outlet road is the answer,” said 15 year Koso Street resident Jason Tyburczy. “We understand, as residents, that the street is inadequate to meet the needs of existing traffic, parking, bikes and our kids–so it does not make sense that it would be the best option as a thoroughfare to the Villages. We feel we are being railroaded into a project that hurts our small community and disturbs the healthy balance of traffic and safety for our neighborhood.”

The neighbors have cited the following reasons for changing the current outlet plan:

  1. The proposed single outlet road in and out of the development is planned for a section of Koso Street that has an odd shape, is narrower than a typical street. is already hard to navigate, and has an active crosswalk/bikepath connection nearby.
  2. Koso Street is one of the narrower streets in South Davis. Traffic and parking on the street as it stands now is strained. It does not make sense to use the street as an outlet to and from housing and businesses. A city staff report suggests that during peak hours ~39 cars per hour (approximately one every 90 seconds) will be added to Koso Street.
  3. Koso Street as an exit, entrance and thoroughfare shows sloppy planning, or at best, insensitivity. The proposal would endanger the lives of children living on the street, as well as nearby neighborhoods, and negatively impact the sense of community for residents. And yet the City cites preserving the integrity of the major and minor arterial of Drummond and Cowell, which they abandoned numerous projects ago. And yet they now choose to destroy the integrity of a neighborhood to do it.

Koso Street residents say they will remain united in opposing the plan and will use whatever means necessary to stop it from happening.

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  1. SODA

    First I have heard of it; across street from New Harmony?  Near where Palms was?

    Is there a site plan or elevations to show?

    Agree, Koso is an awkward design to begin with without extra stress.

  2. hpierce

    The ‘project’ has two parts.  The ~ half being discussed (~18 SF units) lies north of the bikepath/undercrossing.  The southerly portion is where the Palms used to be.  The only connections between the portions of the project are bike/ped only.  If someone can find out when the project went to PC & CC, the staff reports with all the site plans and elevations will be on the City web site.

  3. sisterhood

    Did the Palms take up that field, too? I recall the DACHA homes, now city owned rentals,  & private residences stand where the two palm trees stood. (One palm tree remains, the other died.) Albany Circle.

    1. hpierce

      The Palms was on (east side) Co Rd 103 (now Drummond) around the area just north of the current Albany Circle development, but may have overlapped it slightly.  To my knowledge, they never occupied the area that the DACHA homes were/are.

  4. Michelle Millet

    I don’t share my fellow Koso St. neighbors concerns on this issue. The development is proposing its outlet on a small stretch of Koso that runs 90 degrees to the main part of the street that lacks street front housing.  My guess is most people leaving the development will access Cowell from this part of the street, rather then drive down the main section.

    That small stretch as is poses safety concerns, but the developer has proposed mitigation to improve this section including reducing the size of a bulb-out, adding a sidewalk, adding striping, maintaining vegetation, and restricting parking (one change, that in my mind will vastly improve visibility, as people use this stretch for long term parking of boats and trailers).

    My hope is that when these mitigations efforts are implemented that section of the street may end up safer, even with the traffic impacts that will come with the addition of 18 units.

      1. sisterhood

        DACHA residents were told that Albany Cl. would one day be extended to where the field currently stands if the owner of that field ever sold & developed. I assume the Koso residents were also given that info when they purchased their homes? 2004 – 2005?

        1. hpierce

          Well, the property in question in this article was zoned for Commercial (nighborhood commercial -think 7-11, video store, etc.) in the 2004-2005 timeframe.  Have no idea what the Koso residents were “told”, or by whom.

    1. Val

      To me, the bottom line is that the road will increase traffic and parking on an already narrow, crowded street. No traffic calming measures will change that fact.
      — Yes, I believe that most cars coming out of the development will turn left and exit onto Cowell, but the additional cars there will make that short stretch of Koso more complicated than ever and increase the danger to those of us on Koso who depend on that hook for our westward exit. Again, no calming measures will keep down the number of cars. I believe the traffic on the long end of Koso Street will in fact also increase–from those residents of the new development who do not want to wait at Cowell and those Koso residents who now use the west end exit but choose to exit east to avoid the additional traffic.
      –And parking is another serious issue. Koso Street is extremely narrow and is already frequently lined with parked cars. The new development plan is for high density housing with little provision for parking; I understand that the write-up even states that overflow parking is to go onto Koso Street. Since the short hook of Koso Street is proposed to become a no-parking area, the overflow parking will be entirely in front of our houses on Koso–and will then exit down Koso Street.
      It makes no sense to me to put the access road for the new development onto a small, awkward street like Koso when the lot is bordered by two wider streets (Cowell and Drummond) where an access road would not adversely affect a neighborhood. The stretch of Drummond from Cowell to Lillard is not heavily traveled.
      The city has said the decision is final, but the city has the power to listen to its citizens, recognize that the current plan was reached without fair discussion with those most affected, and reverse its decision.   Please no access road onto Koso Street!

      1. Michelle Millet

        Val- I am empathetic to your concerns, and I share in most of them.  I am concerned at this point though as neighbors, if our focus is solely on changing the project, we may miss the opportunity to have meaningful input on potential mitigation decisions and I want us to be involved in that conversation. I would love if a group of us could get together, take a look at the proposed list of potential changes proposed  to us by the development team, and prioritize them or add to them. If any of my neighbors are interested in having this conversation, or want to contact me with question or concerns please email me, (or give me a call, Andi has my number;-).

        1. Val

          Michelle, in my opinion, if the road goes in as currently approved, no mitigation decisions will make much difference.  I have already seen the proposed changes to our street, and while they are mostly okay, they do not mitigate the problem.  I believe the city has a responsibility to protect us, an existing neighborhood.   I can think of nothing that will satisfy me on this issue short of changing the new development’s access road to Drummond or Cowell.   I don’t think that the way to go is to capitulate on our main demand.

      2. sisterhood

        Val, I agree. I used to live on Albany Cl. and walked my lab daily on Koso. There is no way Koso can handle additional cars. Why not build the development with the existing roads? It would promote more walking, bikes, less cars. You do not need this road. Work around what is already there, imho.  I hope the decision is not to extend Albany Cl. and leave Koso as is, either. Albany Cl. is not equipped to handle additional traffic, imho.

  5. Davis Progressive

    i would think they would be more concerned about the massive business park going up across the street than the small housing project next to them.

    1. Andi

      Hi – I’m one of the “concerned Koso residents”.  The housing project is definitely not the concern.  I welcome houses on that field.  The concern is really the traffic congestion, parking overflow and safety that comes with more traffic with an outlet onto Koso.  I feel that an outlet onto Cowell Blvd or, even better, (lightly traveled!) Drummond Lane makes so much more sense.  More congestion on that little dog-leg street close to the bike path and on our street (with 65 houses – two houses on one side of the street with no sidewalk on that side) seems insensitive and like poor planning when the other two adjacent streets are wider and less traveled.  The business park across the street has always been a rumor (we’ve been here more than 13 years).  I hope it blocks the freeway noise!

  6. Michelle Millet

    I like my open spaces as much, if not more, then the next guy, but the business park you speak of is going up on a lot that has been zoned for commercial use for at least as long as I’ve lived on Koso, (which has been about 11 years).  I knew from the day I bought my house that it would most likely be developed at some point. Given this, as a neighbor I have, and should have, a very small scope of influence.

    Moving forward, I suggest, as I have I has suggested to my neighbors regarding the Villages at Willow Creek project, that we focus our efforts on influencing what we have some say over, rather then spend our energy on making, at what I view, are unrealistic demands.


    1. Michelle Millet

      I should clarify that the city council unanimously approved that Villages at Willow Creek project on June 16. Neighbors received a letter from the city stating that the decision is final and is consistent with staff and Planning Commission Recommendations. (which is why I think my neighbors demands our unrealistic at this point). Council passed it with the condition that “the developer shall provide for additional enhancements in the vicinity of the project driveway connection and road elbow at Koso St“.

      This is where, as neighbors, we have some influence, and is where I think at this point in the project we can have some impact. I have encouraged, and will continue to encourage, my neighbors to engage in this part of the process.

      1. Anon

        Michelle, I think what you say makes a lot of sense.  I am left to wonder if your neighbors are using traffic issues as a way of attempting to deter this project, despite their words to the contrary.  It would seem to me that traffic calming measures are where the emphasis ought to be at this point.

        1. Michelle Millet

          My impression is that they are sincere in their concerns regarding traffic impacts, not the project itself, and while I don’t believe a majority of the traffic will use the main part of Koso as a through street, I do think concerns about parking and safety issues where the project exits onto Koso are legitimate.  Our street will most likely be forced to absorb overflow parking, not sure there is much we can do about that at this point, but I do think some mitigation can be done to improve some of the safety concerns on the west end of the street.

        2. Andi

          My lovely neighbor, Michelle, is right.  We do not want to deter the project, as I mentioned above.  The frustrating part for me is that this process moved so fast that our neighbor’s voiced concerns at the Planning Commission meeting AND at the City Council meeting were glossed over before a vote by (I’m sure) well-meaning people who have probably never driven onto Koso St.  The little street where the outlet is planned is awkward now.  The street is overflowing with parked cars.  71% of residents oppose the Koso outlet (46 out of 65 homes; 4 chose not to sign, 15 could not be reached).  Yes, this petition was given to City Council members after the vote to approve.  But it doesn’t feel as if it would have mattered and that’s what stinks.

        3. sisterhood

          Are folks concerned that people with two or three cars will buy a home in the new development & need to park their excess cars on Koso? When I lived on Albany Cl. student renters who each owned a car would park on the street, even though overnight parking on that narrow street was supposedly not allowed in the CC&R’s or whatever document controls such parking. We were a few steps from the bus stop, so during picnic days and earth days, all the street parking was taken.  There were times I had nowhere to park my own car, because my son also owned a car & the homes had one car garages. If anyone visited, they parked at the end of Albany Cl. in the two or three vacant spots where you first pull into the street. We used to have one additional spot near the mailboxes, but after the fire in the field, we had it painted red so the F.D. could reach the water hydrant there. I just don’t see the use of another road. It encourages more cars imho.

  7. sisterhood

    What are the income requirements for the four affordable housing units? Will they be owned by the applicant, or will it be similar to other affordable housing where the applicant doesn’t really own the home? Will there be a true down payment, or just a carrying charge that is supposedly refunded to the resident when they leave? Is David Thompson’s group involved in this affordable housing project?

  8. sisterhood

    Is there an applicant waiting list/lottery for the four affordable units and how does one place their name on said list?

    Is there an occupation clause that states one of the applicants must have an occupation within the community to encourage local home ownership and less automobile commuting to and from the affordable housing units, or can an out of towner/stater/foreign citizen buy an affordable unit, then turn it into a student rental & jack up the rent in a few years?  If there is an owner occupation clause, what is the legal penalty for breaking this clause and renting out the affordable home under the table to students who are not related to at least one of the owners?

    I’m very interested in the affordable units and the model/procedure of applying for one of those four units. Who has the exact details of this application process? Who, on the Davis City Council, really understands the exact details of the affordable housing model that is being proposed? What city attorney is dedicated to the legal ramifications of any affordable housing application processed being proposed?

    What precautions are in place to avoid another DACHA debacle?

    Thank you.

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