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 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 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