Community Members Ask For Extension of Mace EIR

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Rodney Robinson illustrates the volume of material in the EIR.
Rodney Robinson illustrates the volume of material in the EIR.

While the item is not agendized for discussion until later this month, a number of public commenters on Tuesday asked the council to extend the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) comment period by 45 days for the Mace Ranch Innovation Center.

Jim Leonard said, “I believe that the innovation park process itself is flawed.” He stated, “There really wasn’t proper outreach to citizens, this is really like the train taking off without putting the passengers on board.”

He further noted that the outreach to citizens took place when the process was already well underway. “People have the feeling like they’re being dragged along – they are confused and upset,” he said. He suggested they stop the process now and begin the process over from the start. He alternatively suggested slowing down the process and bringing more citizens on board. “I prefer stopping the process because I really believe in democracy and I feel like democracy has received a major insult as a result of the way you have approached this.”

He added that he can accept the slowdown by 45 days to give people a chance to catch up and get on board.

Susan Rainier requested a minimum of a 45-day extension to the EIR public comment review process. “It is an onerous document that is of great significance with 212 acres making a major change to the village of Davis. It was issued during the summer break for many of the citizens of Davis.”

She noted another EIR, presumably for Nishi, that will be issued shortly. She said, “It’s not reasonable to expect that it will have a proper public review.” She said that the citizens need to be able to do the in-depth reading of this important document.

Alan Pryor with a visual
Alan Pryor with a visual

Alan Pryor illustrated the amount of material, holding up volumes 1 and 2 of the EIR for the Mace Ranch Innovation Center. “27 pounds, 4000 pages, there’s absolutely no way we can give this a real good review in the amount of time allocated,” he said. He asked for at least 45 days. “Let’s be reasonable about this, this is a lot of work for people to go to.”

Barbara King also asked for an additional 45 days on the EIR. “It’s a huge document and we need to get this right because we need to maximize the chance that this will work in the long term and we need to maximize the chance that this will pass a citizen’s vote in the short term. Nobody can get through that, you can have stuff that you don’t find until too late and then you don’t get it right and it goes down in flames.”

Steve Hayes stated that we have Harper Junior High on the edge of the Mace Curve, Cannery Park is being built to the west of that, and this park will be put to the east. “The traffic volume on the northern half of this city, east-west to Sacramento proper, occurs at the same time as the parents drop off and pick up their junior school students there. We’re building a disaster point.”

Alan Hirsch added that, while the council has done a good job of bringing these new development jobs to the fore, “Davis is open for business and we have a lot of opportunities to choose from.” He said we need to build consensus here. “When we have consensus we can move ahead,” he said, “But when we don’t have it, we need to slow down.”

He continued, “All these new projects need time for people to digest it.” He said, “This is the future of Davis,” as he noted the scale of the projects coming forward. He asked for more time to digest this stuff. “The devil is in the details,” he added, noting the controversy over the CFD (Community Facilities District) with the Cannery.

Eileen Samitz discusses housing
Eileen Samitz discusses housing

Eileen Samitz took a different approach, noting that she has followed the business park discussion and “I read with great surprise and concern about the concept of adding housing to the Mace Ranch business park.”

“I’m not certain where the idea came from to begin with – it may have been well-intended. However, the entire idea of having a business park was based upon economic growth and to help the city with its finances, so we weren’t depending on the churning of housing… to finance the city,” she said.

She noted one complaint about the site was whether it would be big enough. “So now this concept of using any of the land for housing is absurd. I can promise you there will be substantial opposition including myself if this is pursued.”

Ms. Samitz added, “The only reason I was considering this innovation park concept was because of the economics and realizing we need to come up with a better solution for how we’re going to support the city and not depend on housing as being temporary fixes.”

“This is not going to make the Mace Innovation Park any greener, I can promise you that,” she said. She explained that any kind of housing requires more services and traffic. “If this is going to be considered for an innovation park – that is what it should be only – commercial.”

She agreed that trying to review the EIR requires more time, as it’s a huge document. She concluded by urging the council “to steer away from any housing on this innovation park.”

The item was not agendized on Tuesday, therefore the council could not act or discuss the community’s comments.

—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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14 thoughts on “Community Members Ask For Extension of Mace EIR”

  1. Barack Palin

    “I read with great surprise and concern about the concept of adding housing to the Mace Ranch business park.”

    “I’m not certain where the idea came from to begin with – it may have been well-intended. However, the entire idea of having a business park was based upon economic growth and to help the city with its finances, so we weren’t depending on the churning of housing… to finance the city,” she said.
    I can promise you there will be substantial opposition including myself if this is pursued.”

    That’s what I’ve been saying.  Thank you Ms. Samitz for telling that to the council.  If they try and include housing this project likely gets defeated.

  2. sisterhood

    Why are you against the housing component, specifically? I believe you mentioned previously that you live in Wildhorse. Why was the Wildhorse Development okay for you, and not this one? Specifically, not in general terms. Is Wildhorse greener than this one?

    1. Anon

      Housing at the Mace Ranch Innovation Center does not make sense.

      1. There is no guarantee MRIC employees would live there.

      2. Because residential housing is more fiscally beneficial to the developer than building business, what is to stop a developer from claiming no businesses will come, and therefore the city might as well put more housing there?

      3. Housing will be a net fiscal drain on the city.  The whole idea of the innovation parks was to generate substantial tax revenue for the benefit of the city’s coffers to repairs roads, etc.

      4. The housing would be isolated from the rest of the city, because of its location.

  3. Davis Progressive

    i’m against the housing component as well.  i would suggest to the council to give the 45 day extension – you have people who would otherwise support the project calling for it – not just those who would rather burn in hell than support housing (like rodney robinson and jim leonard)

    1. Anon

      I believe the problem is one of timing, if the City Council wants this project to go on the June 2016 ballot.  I have forgotten the exact timeline, but it is pretty tight.

    2. Rodney Robinson

      How dare you suggest you know my position with regard to hell or any other topic, you who hides behind an identity mask. Afraid to expose your true identity in public. Rather cowardly by you and the other scardy-cats who ware grocery bags over their heads. Shame on the Vanguard for allowing disguised posts. SHAME, SHAME, SHAME!!!

  4. Alan Miller

    City makes more on businesses; developers make more on housing.  City asks for business-only park.  Developers show interest.  One developer later finds it is not worth the investment/risk and drops out.  The other developer decides its not worth the investment/risk without housing, and floats housing despite the huge risk of being shot down with a J/R vote, because business-only isn’t worth it to them.  Follow the money, follow the profit.

    For those that didn’t stay until just-shy-of-midnight, during long-range calendar Brett Lee said he wanted to discuss extending the EIR review period at the next council meeting, and other council members chimed in with agreement.

    1. hpierce

      Alan… not clear to me that Ramos et al. “floated” the housing idea.  Sounds more like an ‘alternative’ that planning staff came up with for EIR/other purposes, but which Ramos et al. could quickly espouse, particularly when it leads to a finding of less impact on traffic.  I could be wrong/incorrect, but not ready yet to embrace the “grassy knoll” theory.

      Ramos et al. don’t “do” residential that I know of, but they do big developments (Mace Ranch as an example) where they ‘develop’ the backbone, sell off the residential components (to real home builders) and really are focussed on the Comm/Ind. as far as projects they actually undertake.  They may have done some MF residential, but it is not their “forte”. Or “raison d’etre”.

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        hpierce: I would say that while the housing option was an alternative in the EIR, the developers did run as their press release and Dan Ramos in the Enterprise doubled down on it.

  5. gunrock

    This project went from being a possible innovation park to a trojan horse housing project- Dead On Arrival… the misleading way they characterized their definition of trips for the report etc. come across as justifying a case for housing. The developer might salvage the situation by donating 100% of all land that is not to be used for R&D commercial to the open space district so that housing cannot ever be built there.

    1. hpierce

      To be clear… I support the project, as proposed (ie. no housing) but could conceivably still support it with housing (live-work).  We’ll have to see how this might ‘morph’.

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