Neighbors Believes Trackside Will Harm Quality of Life

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A projected view looking at Ray Burdicks home from across the street with the Trackside development behind it.
A projected view looking at Ray Burdick’s home from across the street with the Trackside development behind it.

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.

A view of the Burdicks garage from the alleyway
A view of the Burdick’s garage from the alleyway

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.

Ray Burdick points to the existing structure across the alleyway from his house
Ray Burdick points to the existing structure across the alleyway from his house
This is the view from the backyard of the neighbor located at the southeast corner of the alleyway
This is the view from the backyard of the neighbor located at the southeast corner of the alleyway
This is the view out of the yard of Mr. Burdick's neighbor to the south on I Street
This is the view out of the yard of Mr. Burdick’s neighbor to the south on I Street

—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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80 thoughts on “Neighbors Believes Trackside Will Harm Quality of Life”

  1. Barack Palin

    I agree with the Burdicks.  IMO this project is way too big to be slapped into the existing neighborhood.  Why would I sit back and let this happen in a fellow Davisite’s neighborhood when I would be incensed if it happened in mine?  I read recently where this will be the largest building in Davis, is that true?  As a city we all need to step up and stop this from being pushed onto our neighbors.

    1. Mark West

      What about the improved quality of life for the people who could move into the new project, or obtain jobs with the new businesses?  Is not their quality of life of value here?  There is no doubt that the project, whatever size it ends up being, will impact the quality of life of the neighbors, some negatively and some positively.  So what?  A neighbor with a penchant for weedy front yards, or a love of heavy metal at high volume might do the same.

      We have decided as a community that we do not want the City’s boundaries to expand, so the only option we have to manage the population growth and the demand for commercial/retail space is to redevelop, move up, and get more dense.  This project is a good first step in the process of expanding the commercial space downtown and increasing the availability of high density housing. Third street, between L and the downtown is a prime location for expanding the downtown commercial zone, something that in the long run will likely improve the quality of life for the citizens of Davis.

      The decision here should be based on what is best for the City as a whole, not just the few people who live across the alleyway.

      1. Davis Progressive

        you are quickly willing to throw a few people who live across the alleyway (which is like ten feet from the project under the bus.  are you willing to compensate them for their loses?

        1. Mark West

          What losses?  With the increasing demand for redevelopment, their property values will likely soar. They are in a prime location to benefit from economic development along this corridor.

          1. Matt Williams

            DP, if I have read Mark’s comment correctly one of his baseline assumptions is a commitment to a …

            “… process of expanding the commercial space downtown and increasing the availability of high density housing. Third street, between L and the downtown is a prime location for expanding the downtown commercial zone, something that in the long run will likely improve the quality of life for the citizens of Davis.”

            His belief that there will be increasing demand for redevelopment is predicated on that larger vision.

            This is not the first time that Mark has weighed in on the highest and best use (my words, not his) of the Third Street corridor. On September 14th he posted a comment https://www.davisvanguard.org/2015/09/monday-morning-thoughts-why-nishi-doesnt-go-far-enough/#comment-288488 in the Monday Morning Thoughts: Why Nishi Doesn’t Go Far Enough thread. In that comment he said,

            “The current Nishi proposal is a missed opportunity. Rather than looking at it as a stand alone project, it should be developed as one leg of a two pronged expansion of the downtown, with the 3rd street corridor extending to L street as the other prong. At the Nishi end, there should be high density student housing, the proposed commercial space, and an extensive retail component with at least 10x more space than what is currently proposed. Creating a small ‘village’ like the USC development that David cites is a good way of thinking about how the project could be improved, by creating a ‘University’ focused extension of the downtown.

            At the same time we have the discussion about the impact of the Trackside project on 3rd Street. On that end, I would hope to see that type of project concept replicated along both sides of 3rd Street all the way to L, with high density residential above, and retail and commercial space below. Eventually, perhaps 50 years or more down the road, the PG&E parcels will be open for redevelopment, providing the other end of the downtown expansion, perhaps with another small ‘village’ development, this time focused around the needs of young families and retirees.”

            Only one person responded to Mark’s post, Nancy Price, who said,

            “Mark West describes an interesting overall vision…the problem is that what is being planned now is very piecemeal, project by project and the problem is…what will it add up to?”

            I personally think Nancy is right, Mark is presenting an encompassing vision, rather than what anon referred to as “a politically charged and inequitably murky policy of ‘Densification via Zoning Variance’ (DZV).” Within the context of that vision, Mark’s projection of property values along 3rd Street is probably correct.

    2. NotCrabby

      The bigger question is which residents have the most rights? The existing home owners or the potential condo dwellers? If the rules for development for this site have not been followed, then why not propose a building that does follow the transition guidelines?

      The developers and investors are motivated by return on their investment.  The neighbors are motivated by quality of life. Does money trump life quality? Did the Trackside team ever suggest that a 2-3 story building be built instead? Not that I know of. When you “run the numbers” they may not be able to make enough on their investment with 2-3 stories. It’s a classic case of trying to solve a quality of life issue for a neighborhood that’s been there for a long time with an investors math equation.

      Trackside includes retail space and a restaurant on the ground floor. Does the neighborhood have the capacity to tolerate and absorb the gang fights and drunken brawls leading to murder that already exist at the KetMoRee nightclub? Loud, drunken people only steps away? Yikes!

      1. Jim Frame

        Did the Trackside team ever suggest that a 2-3 story building be built instead? Not that I know of.

        I suggest that you ask one of the investors — the project as originally proposed may not have been 6 stories.  (I was approached as a potential investor in 2014, and agreed to keep the details confidential.  The developers may no longer care about that old information, but I’m erring on the side of caution.)

        The developers and investors are motivated by return on their investment.  The neighbors are motivated by quality of life. Does money trump life quality?

        I would modify the first sentence along the lines of “The developers and investors are motivated by return on their investment and the opportunity to create a long-term enhancement to the downtown.”  They’re mostly (maybe all) long-time Davis residents.  For some of them the first motivation is primary, for others it may actually be the other way around.  I’m sure none of them want to lose money, but the sense of accomplishment that comes with making a positive addition to one’s home town can trump some of the risk to ROI.  (Remember that one man’s positive may be another’s negative.)

        1. Jim Frame

          It ain’t downtown.  It’s in a transition zone.

          It’s downtown in the common usage of the word, and is zone Mixed Use.

          Those investors need a map.

          They already have one — the one I made!

           

           

        2. Alan Miller

          It’s downtown in the common usage of the word, and is zone Mixed Use.

          We’ll have to agree to disagree on the “common usage”.  It is zoned mixed use, and is both in the Old East Davis Neighborhood, and in the Core Area Specific Plan (which came much later than the neighborhood), and there additional language for the transition zone, for very good reasons!  (see looming building pix).

          They already have one — the one I made!

          Are you a map maker, sir?  Do share.

        3. Jim Frame

          Are you a map maker, sir?

          Of a sort — I’m a land surveyor.  I did the boundary and topographic survey of the property for the owners.

          (FWIW, when I google my name, my company name comes up in the 3rd, 4th and 5th hits.)

           

        4. NotCrabby

          “I would modify the first sentence along the lines of “The developers and investors are motivated by return on their investment and the opportunity to create a long-term enhancement to the downtown.”  They’re mostly (maybe all) long-time Davis residents.  For some of them the first motivation is primary, for others it may actually be the other way around.”

          You may modify my text all you want, as it seems to be a trend with the Trackside development folks. Don’t forget to include the fact that even city council member(s) are invested in this sidetrack adventure. Take the infamous Kemble Pope. He’s wrangled a fair amount of Davis residents to his side only to be tossed overboard in favor of truth.

          In fact, word on the street is that whenever Kemble is quoted, it’s referred to as “Pope-Fiction.” Especially when he volunteered that “it’s not about money and power” but quickly realized he was revealing his true motivation and became quiet.

          He’s now scooping up other Davis residential properties in a maniacal monopoly-game frenzy. Why wouldn’t these developer-types buy true downtown Davis properties that are just now on the market? Each of those properties would be perfect for 6 story high-density buildings without destroying the character and community of the older neighborhoods. Hmmm. Just curious.

  2. sisterhood

    What happened to the rule about three story buildings? Did everyone decide to change it? I’m not being sarcastic, I just don’t understand. A while ago someone wrote a comment about getting around the 3 story rule and that the rule was only because of fire dangers? I thought the rule was also to prevent this exact scenario. I don’t live there anymore but it is still interesting to me. Thanks for any info to share.

    1. Alan Miller

      With campus transfer agreement on fire dept. can use their hook and ladder, which goes to infinity stories, so we can save people from really really tall buildings on fire now.

  3. Davis Progressive

    to me after reading this article i wanted to yell “yahtzi.”  unless the city and developers want to compensate those neighbors for the unavoidable impacts – they are basically robbing several residents of tremendous home value.  there is no way to mitigate the loss of view, noise, and other impacts and fairly compensate the burdicks.  i’m all for densification, but this is a far greater impact than even paso fino on a small handful of the neighbors.

    1. Alan Miller

      unless the city and developers want to compensate those neighbors for the unavoidable impacts

      It’s hardly just the Burdicks.  And it will set a precedent for such buildings along the entire “what was supposed to be a” transition zone, blocking the sunlight along the entire western flank of the neighborhood.

      You can’t compensate for loss of sunshine.

      1. CalAg

        Another obvious (and better) “densification site” is Hibbert Lumber on the NE corner of 5th and G Streets. Pope may get a taste of his own medicine someday if the council decides to set a bad precedent.

        1. hpierce

          Hibbert Lumber is a going concern, and a great alternative to Davis ACE (aka Davis Lumber and Hardware)… there is no such business existing at the Trackside site.  Don’t see why the Hibbert site needs re-development.  It does however ‘front’ Fifth, Sixth, and G.

          Arguably, Davis ACE (all three sites, houseware, pet/hardware, and ‘rock yard’) would be an even better “densification site”.

        2. CalAg

          If Trackside sets a new precedent, the Hibbert Lumber owners would make a nice return-on-investment by cashing out and moving to cheaper land on the edge of town. Piling lumber on potential high density residential land in the core wouldn’t be too smart if the rules get changed. Agree with you re: Davis Ace as well.

          That being said, I think Trackside is a terrible project.

          There should be no residential up-zoning of any commercial properties in the core.

          We need economic development in the core – not a high density housing project politically-driven by a gang of well-connected investors and their allies (plus co-investor) on the Council.

        3. hpierce

          CalAg… pretty sure most of Hibbert’s lumber is delivered by train… moving to the outskirts would up their costs considerably.  Not sure about Davis Ace.

          The amount of non-res proposed for Trackside looks to be similar to existing.  Just adding housing.

          The proposed project has significant flaws, IMO, but deserves to have a fair hearing on its merits.

           

        4. CalAg

          Good point about the lumber. If the rules change, the owners would be incentivized to shut down the lumber yard rather than move it.

          Regarding judging the project on its merits, that’s not even the desire of the applicant. Assembling the group of 39 well-connected investors was a transparent attempt by the applicants to use political influence to grease the entitlement process. Staff is already under pressure and complaints are leaking out of City Hall.

        5. hpierce

          If staff is getting pressure to forgo their professional judgement, breach the established ordinances, policies, and/or procedures in evaluating the project, anyone who has demonstrable reason to believe this NEED TO STEP FORWARD, publicly, as this allegation either is FALSE, or an indication that Davis is becoming a “little Chicago”.  The latter is an abomination, both to the citizens of Davis, and to those who served the City in DevRev in the past.

          There have been allegations of this in the past, but most of the folk who made them, when asked to put up or shut up, shut up.  Those who made the allegations were ‘playing games’ and doing their own version of trying to intimidate staff.  They were generally the lower orifice of the alimentary canal.

  4. Frankly

    There is something really broken in this city with respect to land-use expectations.  From the outside looking in we appear completely irrational.  We block peripheral development, we complain about lack of city funding, we complain about lack of housing, we complain about the cost of housing, we complain about traffic, we complain about the sprawl, and then we block infill development other than bungalows.

    We are sure a selfish bunch.  It might be acceptable if we made our demands within a plan of economic sustainability.  But we don’t, and so we look both selfish AND stupid… incapable of managing our own affairs.   That is where I see us today… broken and incapable governance.  A bunch of reactionary whiners, complainers and blockers… without ability to effectively plan and execute a plan.

    If we are not building out, we need to build up.  Pick one for heavens sake.

    1. Barack Palin

      Frankly, a six story building basically in the neighborhood’s backyard?  Don’t you think a two story building is more in line with Davis values and the neighborhood?  What I read would be the tallest building in Davis?  Don’t you think that’s overkill?  Would you want this 6 story building going up in your backyard?

      1. Frankly

        BP – No, I would not want a 6-story building in my back yard.  But if I lived downtown in a growing city of 72,000 that keeps preventing peripheral development and demands that we stay geographically small, dense, compact, affordable and green, I would have to accept the risk that it would happen.

        Since we are so stingy with land… preferring to lock in up in a farmland moat around the city… then each build-able acre becomes much more costly and valuable to make maximum use of it.

        Those left-lauded Scandinavian countries… take a look at what small, dense green and bike-able really looks like.  There are lots of six story buildings in their core areas.  Yard space is a HUGE luxury that generally requires you to move to the country and deal with the commute.

        The core area residential lots are, for the most part, over-sized.  The people living downtown tend to be the activist types blocking peripheral development.   They cause developments like the Cannery to have zero yard space.  2-story houses without any yard privacy.  No separation between lots.  The same is true for most other more recent housing in Davis.  There are some exceptions, but most non-core residents have had to accept having views into their yards and neighbors walls blocking their viewscapes.

        The core area people are basically spoiled.  With their large yards and 1-story bungalows, they enjoy a residential population density far lower than what the rest of Davis deals with.

        That is the opposite of what we should be doing based on the stated demands.

        If we are not going to allow expansion of our measly 10 square miles and reduce our growing 7,2000 people per square mile density, then we need to start accepting taller buildings in the core area.  We need to start demonizing those downtown big yards as preventing the environmental sustainability green-demand for higher density.

        Is six stories too high?  Maybe, but the complaints would have come if the plans were 4 stories… and maybe even 3 stories.   I think you know that.  The core area residents are going to keep blocking increased density.  I would support them in that desire if they accepted the alternative of growing on the periphery.  They don’t and so I say build up in the core area so they get used to it.

        1. Davis Progressive

          maybe it would be better if you were advocating for the spot behind your home to become a six story bunch of townhouses, because right not it seems like you are lecturing people on something that doesn’t directly impact you.

        2. hpierce

          Frankly, you missed an important part… there are many who are stingy on OTHER folk’s land.  Entitlement to land, and/or asking for additional entitlements, are protected by the US and State Constitutions.  A “right” (to proceed under existing rules, or ask for change).  Surprises me you neglected that.  Going “communist ” on us?

      2. Frankly

        maybe it would be better if you were advocating for the spot behind your home to become a six story bunch of townhouses, because right not it seems like you are lecturing people on something that doesn’t directly impact you.

        I don’t live in the core area or near core area and I support building more housing on the periphery.  Also I have large two-story homes five feet from my property line with windows peering down into my yard. And I support the West Davis Innovation Center even though it would be just a few hundred yards from my house. Your comparison is a total fail.

      1. Frankly

        DP – think about it.  If you build any tall building in the core area you are going to disproportionately impact some people.  If your neighbor is one story and adds a second story he is going to disproportionately impact some people.

        Your demand is totally unreasonable… especially given your tendency to be against peripheral development to add housing.

        1. Barack Palin

           These demands need to be labeled what they are… selfishness and greed. 

          Couldn’t the same be said about the demands of the long list if investors that pushing for a bigger development means more profit?

        2. Davis Progressive

          i was on the fence about this project until i saw the photo at the top, no way around this impact.  i’m not going to force someone into that drastic a change

    2. Tia Will

      Frankly

      From the outside looking in we appear completely irrational. “

      As a long time residents of Davis, I believe that you and I have both lost the ability to see the situation “from the outside looking in”. If you have sources that provide the outside perspective that you are citing, I would appreciate it if you would name your sources so that all can see exactly who is citing irrationality.

      Your use of the terms “we” is also questionable. You have cited “we” frequently as though the city were a distinct entity that either makes decisions based on facts or emotions. This completely belies the reality that the city is made up of 70+ thousand individuals each of whom has their own point of view and values. There is no unanimous we acting either rationally or irrationally. And I certainly do not accept that your view is the only rational interpretation of our current situation.

       

  5. Nancy Price

    I agree as well with the Trackside neighbors and neighborhood.  What is most troubling is that the investors in this project, including a City Council member, had no interest in ensuring that this project was appropriate for the neighborhood and that the normal consultative and outreach processes were followed for engaging productively with the neighbors and community. The investors and developer appear to want to put this project in and bust open the neighborhood to further large-scale development.

     

    1. ryankelly

      You think that is the most troubling? Yes, of course you would, Nancy.

      I think the most troubling is the height of the project, towering over the surrounding homes casting a shadow for blocks.  This has happened before, but on a smaller scale, with huge McMansions being build next to existing homes.  This is a UberMega-Mansion.   The developers might have better luck in buying out the whole block or putting this in a different location, maybe the Nishe property.

  6. Anon

    The problem here is that the city does not have an updated General Plan that accommodates the policy of densification. Instead, it has a politically charged and inequitably murky policy of “Densification via Zoning Variance” (DZV).  So as each project comes along, the developer is frustrated thinking s/he is giving the city what it wants/needs while inundated with neighbor complaints, as irate neighbors become frustrated because of developer proposals put forth to accommodate DZV.  What usually happens is zoning variances are granted in a very piecemeal fashion that is highly suspect in regard to overall fairness.  Various citizens, commissions, city staff and City Council members have complained about this bastardized process, but nothing seems to change about it.  The all important questions become:

    1. What are the maximum number of stories acceptable in Davis?

    2. What are the maximum number of units per apartment/per lot size acceptable in Davis?

    3. Does the particular location of the project change those maximum permissible numbers?  If location matters, what parts of Davis permit denser and higher projects?

    1. C.Forkas

      I agree with Anon here.  We are developing piecemeal by without a larger vision of how & where to densify. The charm of our city would be lost if we don’t plan carefully.  The development pressures will be to go very very tall!    We can densify in a manor that doesn’t turn Davis into canyons of high rises, but we will all need to pay attention & get involved.

    2. Matt Williams

      The problem here is that the city does not have an updated General Plan that accommodates the policy of densification. Instead, it has a politically charged and inequitably murky policy of “Densification via Zoning Variance” (DZV).

      Anon has summarized the problem very well in these two sentences.  There are lots of problems with DZV, but perhaps the biggest is that it completely eliminates any chance for proactive planning (and planning activities) by the City and its Staff, and replaces that with reactive application processing activities.

       

      Ironically, this parcel is part of the Core Area, as defined by City documents.  The Core Area Specific Plan was adopted by Council in Resolution 8021 on November 13, 1996 (see http://cityofdavis.org/home/showdocument?id=600 ) and that Core Area Specific Plan has been updated via Amendment in 1997, then again in 2005, twice in 2007, and once each in 2008, 2010 and 2013.  A map of the Specific Plan Study Area is shown on page 12 of the Amended document.  As noted on page 17 “There are thirteen zoning districts in the Core Area Specific Plan study area (Figure 7 on page 22) and the Trackside parcels are designated Mixed Use (M-U), which came into effect in the June 2005 Amendment that changed the zoning code from C-S (Commercial Service) to M-U (see http://city-council.cityofdavis.org/Media/Default/Documents/PDF/CityCouncil/CouncilMeetings/Agendas/20050712/Packet/05-Core-Area-Rezone.pdf ).  The Land Use as shown in Figure 6 on page 19 is Service Commercial.  Both these documents are very interesting reading.  I strongly encourage everyone to read them.

  7. tj

    Lucas Frerichs has been weighing in on airbnb short term rentals and whether and how the city should handle them.

    I wonder if he should recuse himself from these discussions because his Trackside project will admittedly be geared toward short stay rentals.

  8. CountyRoad

    Besides having UC Davis as a neighbor, the main thing that makes Davis attractive is its small town feel.  It’s not like we have the best natural surroundings…there’s no lakes, ocean, or forest of trees nearby; and our summers are hot.  If we overdensify and build out-of-place eye sores, then we slowly start to lose that aspect that has attracted so many young families and retirees to our town.  To those who cry we don’t have enough cheap housing.  Tough…no one is entitled to live here, just because they want to.  Davis has largely been successful in not becoming a North Natomas, Elk Grove or Laguna (places that can’t control their sprawl).  It’s sad that over the long run it seems like developers will have their way versus the sentiment of the existing residents.

      1. Barack Palin

        Frankly, we’re currently adding 600 Cannery units on our periphery along with the probable Nishi housing.  It’s not like we’re standing still.  Infill can still occur but not at six stories in an almost exclusively one story neighborhood.  I have to wonder, would this project even be being considered if it wasn’t for the many influential local investors taking part.

        1. hpierce

          Those 600 units are on land that has been within City limits for ~50 years.  Technically (and practically, as a cannery was there) NOT peripheral development, but rather, infill (or ‘re-development’).

        2. Barack Palin

          Yes I know hpierce, I knew someone would jump on that, figures it would be you.  It’s part of the city but it’s on the periphery (outskirts) of the city, so that’s why I included it.  Is that better?  Does that pass your muster test?

        3. hpierce

          Look @ context, BP.  You appeared to be refuting Frankly’s (because he is) comment about densification/redevelopment as opposed to ‘peripheral growth’ (encroaching on existing ‘farmland’ outside City).  I just wanted to be clear, to folk who DIDN’T know, that the Cannery is not ‘sprawl’, and doesn’t reduce farmable land.

          Nishi, by contrast, is not in the City, had been farmed until relatively recently, and was actually in Solano County until relatively recently.  Yet, I DO consider that site (Nishi) logical infill, even tho’ it would require annexation to be developed (via City approvals).

          My response was to what appeared to be an attempt to ‘show’ that the City has recently approved 600 units on “farmland”. I.e., sprawl, peripheral growth.

        4. Barack Palin

          My response was to what appeared to be an attempt to ‘show’ that the City has recently approved 600 units on “farmland”. I.e., sprawl, peripheral growth.

          Hpierce, you know I’ve been posting on here for years and we as a group have discussed the Cannery project to no end.  Do you really think I didn’t know that the Cannery was within City limits?  There was no attempt to deceive.  That’s why there was no Measure R vote.  DUH…..

          P.S.  My post was in response to Frankly and I’ll bet that he knew that too.

          But go ahead, you can have the last word.

        5. Frankly

          BP – You have been on record supporting the innovation parks.  So you support peripheral development.  But there is pressure to put lots of housing in those developments and you have been on record saying that you would not vote for them with housing.  My opposition for the housing in those developments is two-fold: 1 – I say we need all the land for commercial space, and 2 – I know that adding housing will cause a lot of people having opinions like yours to vote against the project.  But if I thought having housing in those innovation parks would truly help get them passed on a Measure R vote, I would support the housing.

          My big beef is other people that can’t seem to support any peripheral development… and are also blocking good densification projects.  They need to be called out.  I get hammered for saying that they are just against everything, and yet here they are against everything.  You, at least, are  open to developments that make sense to you.  I admire that.

        6. Barack Palin

          Frankly, the problem I have is here we have a group of local investors with many influential members who are trying to push a six story project on a neighborhood.  First building this size in our city, not a 2 or 3 story which I think most would be more acceptable of, but a 6 story.  Why should they get to set a precedent?  Because they’re local big shots?  I feel the neighborhood residents’ opinions should carry as much or even more weight than the investors.

          I don’t have a problem with infill as long as it fits the neighborhood.  Six stories doesn’t fit.

        7. TrueBlueDevil

          A big chunk of my reaction is the cold facade, it could almost be south of Market in San Francisco where most everything is this cold industrial look. Not appealing.

          Scale it back to 3-4 stories, step back the upper level, don’t make it a square block, add some pergolas and / or natural wood, and work with the neighbors.

  9. CalAg

    If we are not building out, we need to build up.  Pick one for heavens sake. @Frankly

    I pick peripheral.

    This is probably the worst proposal I’ve seen in decades. Frerichs and the other investors should be ashamed to be associated with it. That being said, the proposal has one redeeming quality – Trackside provides a teaching moment so that people can more clearly understand the negative consequences of bad redevelopment/densification.

    I’d much prefer to see more traditional residential (esp. multifamily) on 10 acres of tomato fields at the edge of town than this monstrosity.

    In addition, in light of the current priority of building a Davis startup ecosystem, it would be stupid for the Council to allow this existing space to be bulldozed. We don’t have enough inventory of this kind of small low-end commercial (which is exactly what new/small businesses need).

    1. Frankly

      Me too. I think densification is way over-rated with all the buildable land around us.  But if that is what the people want then densification it should be.

      I get admonsished for saying these people are NIMBY, change-averse, no-growthers… this is a test and they are demonstrating the labels are justified.

      Some of those people have pointed me to those fantastic Scandinavian countries that are dense and bike-able.  Check it out… their downtown residential space is not 1 story bunglalows with big yards… they are all multi-story buildings.

      1. NotCrabby

        Downtown is downtown, transition is just that. Ride your bike around the neighborhood someday and you’ll finally understand that you’re on the wrong side of the tracks. You sound angry at those who have preserved a neighborhood of “wasteful” single-family homes. How dare they stay on their inefficient homesteads. Should the city take over these huge, low rise homes by eminent domain, just to make it easy for the run-a-muck developers to bend us over and do their deals?

        1. Frankly

          Well then support peripheral development.

          The city has less than 50% of the supply of commercial real estate, and about 80% of the student rental housing, than it needs.

          My business is downtown.  I actually like the look and feel of the current downtown.  My concern is more about the future.

          First, we cannot sustain a city of 72,000 people and a world class research university with such limited business and retail locations.

          Second, our beloved downtown is already changing.  It is transforming to more and more bars and fewer higher-end food service establishments and other retail.  The reasons is that those establishments tend to have lower labor and inventory costs and so they are the only types that pencil out with higher rents.

          Peripheral growth is the only way to prevent the downtown from changing: either growing upwards with taller buildings, or going down in service and attracting more outside people to come for the night life.

  10. Misanthrop

    The chickens are coming home to roost on density  increases. Beware of what you ask for Davis. For years “Davis Progressives” have used increasing density as an alternative to peripheral development because they didn’t want to be seen as opposed to everything. Its now interesting to watch some of the most outspoken advocates of restricting peripheral growth come out against going up if its in their own neighborhoods.

    I agree with Cal Aggie. I’d rather go out instead of up. Of course UC Davis is going to build a third campus in Sacramento where they will be welcomed with open arms instead of getting fought over every inch while here at home where we can’t even keep our bike paths from disintegrating. It seems that the Trackside development will be a better fit at the new U.C. Sacramento campus.

    The saddest thing of all is that in our zeal to preserve “Davis” we are fundamentally changing it from low density with yards to high density without yards.

    I wonder what would happen if, as part of the renewal for measure R, we also included  a zoning change to raise the height of buildings to six stories. In other words if we put the question of up versus out to the voters which would win?

    1. Frankly

      Exactly.

      I wonder what would happen if, as part of the renewal for measure R, we also included  a zoning change to raise the height of buildings to six stories.

      Awesome idea.

      1. Alan Miller

        Unfortunately, it is an awesome idea.  Between the greenies and the majority who have found they can secure their life investment value via growth limitations, a sure pass.  We should throw banning alcohol sales and abortions and the practicing of Islam within Davis as well.  It would all pass.

      2. Jim Frame

        I think any effort by electeds to co-opt a Measure R “renewal” by changing it from its current form into something else would fail catastrophically, perhaps at the same time generating recall elections for any officials silly enough to initiate such an effort.

  11. Tia Will

    Misanthrop

    I wonder what would happen if, as part of the renewal for measure R, we also included  a zoning change to raise the height of buildings to six stories. In other words if we put the question of up versus out to the voters which would win?”

    Well, that is an interesting question. Let’s assume for the moment the validity of a construct with which I fundamentally disagree, that the only two options are up or out as a polar dichotomy. Then it might be worth while having this community discussion or even a vote to help guide our city council and staff on how to best develop a comprehensive plan.

    With the current proposal, no consensus building was undertaken. What was done was to make a proposal not in alignment with previous planning guidelines for the core transitional zone and then to pretend that everyone should be in agreement with the “need” for this kind of development regardless of its impact on the surrounding community.

     

  12. Tia Will

    If we are not building out, we need to build up.”

    Yet another false dichotomy. This would be a valid issue except that two major factors are being ignored. The first is that we have not had a dearth in growth. The numbers that Frankly cited in his post on population growth over the decades in Davis clearly demonstrate that there has been growth. The fact that there have been multiple housing developments just during my relatively short time in Davis ( from 1979 to present with a brief hiatus) clearly demonstrates that there has been growth. The fact that we have the Cannery and the proposed housing component of Nishi demonstrates that there is and will be ongoing growth.

    The second is that, at no time that I can recall, have the pro growth advocates put a number on their desire for expansion whether up or out. Without having some idea of how many more people or families we are attempting to accommodate or over what time span, how could we possibly make any logical decisions about how best to develop or conserve our existing resources. The idea that we will just continuously expand, either up or out makes no sense at all to me.  With 10 years of administrative experience I can tell you that it would make no sense to just start building medical office buildings without any projection of how many doctors you were planning to hire to accommodate the needs of how many patients. And yet this is exactly what some in our pro growth group are asking us to do with regard to population growth.

    So what is really being stated is that there is not enough growth to meet the desires of developers and those in the business and investment communities to suit their goals. OK, I get that. The pro population growthers have different priorities than I do. What is repugnant to me is the ongoing perceived need to call those of us who have different goals and values by derogatory terms as though the values of others are inherently more worthy. Since when is it not completely valid for each individual to make their best case for the preservation or change that they would most like to see ?

    1. Frankly

      You my friend are consistent in demonstrating those Davis NIMBY, change-averse, no-growth attitudes that have contributed to many of the problems this city has.

      There has not been enough student housing growth to meet the needs of UCD student growth, and there has not been enough business/economic growth. Those two points are clearly backed by the facts of data today.  There is no doubt that Davis has grown in population and that we have built our share of single-family housing in consideration of the growth of the region.

      By the way, how big is your residential lot(s) that resides in the core area?  Are you really about density, or only for everyone else?  Are you renting out rooms to students?

      1. Tia Will

        Frankly

        Let’s try again although I know that you know the answer to some of these questions from previous conversations.

        1. I have no idea what my lot size is. That is not why I bought my 50 year old bungalow in Old East Davis. I bought it because I wanted a much smaller home within easy walking distance of downtown and work.

        2. I only own one property in the area.

        3. I am not profiting from renting rooms to students. My son currently occupies the home I own in North Star. He shares the home with his girlfriend who is a pre med student who does not have the money for rent. He rents out two rooms. Sometimes to students, sometimes to employed millenials. Sometimes I have rented rooms or the entire house for far below market price to those in need.

        OK ? Good enough to meet your exacting standards ?

        And once again, I am not change averse. Repeatedly I have called for far more dramatic changes in our little town than you would be willing to support. My values just happen to differ from yours so my suggested changes would differ wildly from yours, but they would be change none the less and I am really getting tired of the label “change averse”.

    2. Frankly

      Let’s break it down…

      Do you think this highly-taxed city of 72,000 people brings in enough tax revenue to adequately fund all needed city services?

      Assuming you respond with a rational “no”, then what do you suggest we do about it?

      And, we currently have a student rental vacancy rate of practically zero.  Do you think that needs to be improved?  For example, the recommended vacancy rate is around 4-5%.

      Assuming you respond with a rational “yes”, then what do you suggest we do about it?

      And since you brought up the subject of population limits or population growth limits, what are you willing to accept?

       

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        1. 1-2 “research parks”, Nishi, and hotel / conference center.

        2. Work with campus to develop mid- / high-density dorms contiguous to campus – Nishi property? David had a very interesting idea / article on this topic. I’d suggest (as I have earlier) a non-car development with excellent access to both the campus & downtown. That will save the campus millions in construction costs, and remove the need for more parking garages, whereby students will end up driving from garage to garage, which makes no sense at all. This can be sold as a positive, not a negative.

        Fact is, odds are pretty high that as time moves on, the campus population will continue to grow, so we need these housing elements contiguous to campus.

      2. Tia Will

        Frankly

        Do you think this highly-taxed city of 72,000 people brings in enough tax revenue to adequately fund all needed city services?”

        No. And I have stated repeatedly what I would do about it. I firmly believe in taking on the direct personal responsibility for paying for what we decide that we want on an ongoing basis and not pushing the responsibility off onto anyone else be it potential future business owners or our own children or utilizing the concept of “growing our way out of trouble”. I do not believe that we are taxing ourselves adequately to pay for the necessities and amenities that we desire and that we should have the honesty and assume the responsibility to do so. I do not believe in taxing those who  honestly do not have the ability to pay. But we are a wealthy community many of whom could pay far more than we do without incurring substantial material harm as you like to say.

        Having said that, I am not opposed to Nishi, would favor the hotel conference center with adequate mitigation and environmental considerations ( recognizing that adequate is subjective) and remain in David’s 3 category with regard to a research facility depending on the location and plan. I do not consider the currently pending project well planned or optimally located based on my attendance at public meetings and conversation with the development team.

        1. Frankly

          Having said that, I am not opposed to Nishi, would favor the hotel conference center with adequate mitigation and environmental considerations ( recognizing that adequate is subjective)

          Good to hear, but I think the last part is your “out” when it becomes decision time.

        2. Jim Frame

          Good to hear, but I think the last part is your “out” when it becomes decision time.

          Prudent people don’t give unqualified support to a development project until they know what it entails.  A qualifier is entirely reasonable in this circumstance.

           

        3. Frankly

          I love the word “reasonable”.  We use it all the time in legally-binding agreements.  The courts have to rely on it too.

          Everyone is certainly welcome to their opinions and values, but when theirs are unreasonable in consideration of all the criteria and what are the standard opinions and values, then they should be identified as an outlier.

          There is also practicality and feasibility.  For example, as a deflection to the point that we need to allow growth to increase our tax base, Tia is fond of making the point that she believes that people more well off should pay even more taxes to make up our city’s local funding deficits.  It is a fanciful idea because there isn’t any mechanism for that, and it is not feasible to think that we can invent one and get it passed.

          Certainly we can all justify a change in opinion from support to opposition over missed assumptions or material changes.  But I am very suspicious that some people feign support to try and appear reasonable knowing that they will oppose the thing in the end.

  13. TrueBlueDevil

    Cal Poly is similar to Davis in many ways, but it looks like they have surpassed us as far as planning for their student housing needs.

    Cal Poly begins construction on controversial dorm

    “Cal Poly is expected to break ground this week on a $198 million dormitory that will border a residential neighborhood.

    The planned dormitory will contain 1,475 beds. It will be built on a lot at the corner of Slack Street and Grand Avenue next to an entrance to the campus.

    “The university expects to complete the project in July 2018. After the dorm is completed, the university will be able to house 40 percent of students on campus.

    “Cal Poly plans to eventually have on-campus housing for about 65 percent of undergraduate students, university officials say….

    http://calcoastnews.com/2015/09/cal-poly-begins-construction-on-controversial-dorm/

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