Ray Burdick and his wife Mary-Jean recently moved into a home they had owned on I St for some time. No sooner had they made the decision to downsize from their residence in Northstar, but they read in the local paper about the proposed Trackside development.
Trackside Center is a proposal that would redevelop the southwest corner of the city block bounded by 3rd/4th Streets and California Northern Railroad’s short-line railroad (RR) and I Street. The quarter-acre property, according to the developers, 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.
The neighbors, beginning in mid-June, complained to council about the lack of outreach from the developers. Since then, the two sides have met a number of times attempting to assess impacts and look at ways to mitigate those impacts.
On Tuesday, Ray Burdick told the Vanguard he has never been opposed to building there – it’s about the size of the building and, more than that, it is about the fact that, unlike the setbacks and mitigations people viewing the building from Second or Third Street will see, he will be looking at the full expanse of the building from his backrooms and back yard – a single floor of retail and five floors of living space.
He told the Vanguard, “What’s the quality of life when you put something that is that dense into something that should be transitional?”
Mr. Burdick and his wife told the Vanguard that if the developer had stuck with the guidelines, they’d be all right. But this project is “basically going to destroy what we have there in terms of being able to live and enjoy our property.”
Ms. Burdick added, “They are just taking the tallest building they can find and putting it in.” She added, “This is densifying without a plan and the people of Davis are going to pay for it.”
For them, while they state that this is about the height of the building, there is actually a good deal more to their concerns. The details of the east side of the building, which will abut their property, concerns them as well. There is retail and then five floors of living on the east side of the Trackside building.
Right behind their home will be the parking area and the cars will be coming and going throughout the day and into the evening, giving them a relatively frequent light show as the headlights hit their home.
The garbage collection room will be on the east side as well, meaning that they will be treated to early morning garbage truck visits.
The Burdicks note that they are changing the ally to one-way, which will impact them as well. Their garage is on the alley side, also. The developers’ plan is to put parking behind their fence and obtain an easement to dig under the alleyway for 51 parking spaces that the Burdicks say will be inadequate for the building’s needs.
What the Burdicks are asking for is lower buildings and to move the access points out of the alley which is directly behind their home.
From the developers’ standpoint, they say that they are open to discuss the proposal with the neighbors.
Kemble Pope sent the Vanguard a statement: “We’ve offered to discuss any aspect of the proposal with all of our neighbors and especially our adjacent neighbors, and the invitation is still open. We want more neighbor input on the project and have taken the unprecedented step of inviting neighbors’ input on the scopes of work for various studies and analysis that will (see email) determine the project’s impact and potential mitigation, but we have not received any input thus far. “
Mr. Pope sent the Vanguard the outlines of a partial agreement they have reached with representatives from the neighborhood association.
Trackside has agreed to do a noise assessment on their scope of work. They have also agreed to do additional visual impact analysis and provide three GPS-enabled images or locations for images to create additional renderings.
Trackside also proposes “to create a computer-generated, 3D, sunrise-to-sunset model of shadows created by the proposed project onto the surrounding buildings and properties utilizing the 4 extreme dates of the solar calendar: Autumnal Equinox (09/23), Winter Solstice (12/22), Vernal Equinox (03/20), Summer Solstice (06/21).”
On the issue of transportation, the neighborhood association will ask the neighbors to provide specific areas of concern or topics for analysis.
In a September 4 email to the neighbors, Mr. Pope acknowledged that “we do not yet completely understand the impacts of the project as proposed; hence additional studies are being conducted. Also as stated in the meeting, we are willing to work with the neighbors (in particular the immediate neighbors), and City staff if the impacts are determined to be significant and modify the project accordingly.”
The Burdicks’ home and that of the neighbors that the Vanguard visited on Tuesday are among the most impacted portions of the neighborhood. The Burdicks provided the Vanguard with their own rendering (top) which shows the magnitude of the building in comparison with their property, and provided access to shoot photos from their backyard as well as the backyards of two of their neighbors to the south.
Ray Burdick told the Vanguard that two of the members of the city council have already walked the neighborhood and a third has scheduled a walk.
—David M. Greenwald reporting