Commentary: Planning Commission Moves Nishi Forward, Now What?

Interior View of Nishi
Interior View of Nishi
Nishi artist rendering, Interior View

In retrospect, the Davis Planning Commission seemed to simply not want to act in any sort of gatekeeping capacity. They voted 5-2 to forward the Nishi application to the Davis City Council, despite expressing serious questions about issues such as traffic, congestion, air impacts and the fiscal analysis. They also passed, by a 7-0 vote, a motion to approve the EIR.

The majority of the public commenters and even the commissioner comments fell along the lines that there was large support for the project in principle but there are too many unanswered questions to go forward at this time – except that when the vote came, the commission voted to move the project forward, at least to the city council.

The tough decision is now going to have to be made by the Davis City Council in the next month or so, as to whether to put the project on the ballot.

On Tuesday Mayor Dan Wolk perhaps tipped his hand, stating he believes that Nishi will go on the ballot in June.

“I think it’s an excellent project,” he said. “They’ve committed now to being at a minimum fiscally neutral.” He cited the EPS report and argued that Nishi along with Mace, using conservative estimates, “will bring in millions of dollars to the city in terms of revenue.”

He added, “[Nishi] has also committed to a second crossing into UC Davis.” He said, “We understand that there’s an issue with Richards in terms of traffic and they’ve committed a second crossing into UC Davis as part of the process.”

It is these contingencies that make the project and its time all the more curious. One contingency is that development would not be able to go forward without a UC Davis commitment to the grade-separated crossing to the UC Davis campus.

That decision is now wrapped into the LRDP (Long Range Development Plan) process that the university is undergoing. That approval might merely be a formality and it likely would occur long before construction would commence on the Nishi site.

However, the more curious stipulation is the one saying, “No buildings would be allowed to be occupied until Richards Interchange improvements are completed.” As we have reported in the past, the Richards Blvd. corridor improvements are not likely to be implemented for another five years, with the improvements completed perhaps in 2021 or 2022. Does the developer really want to wait five or six years before allowing the buildings to be occupied – and if so, why not wait until November when some of the other details of the project might be addressed?

The fiscal analysis is also an important consideration. The EPS report shows that the project is a negative $78,000. One of the project alternatives calls for a hotel, which presumably pushes the project into a positive. However, the analysis of the hotel situation that the Vanguard published this week at the very least calls into question those findings and the city will be waiting for the HVS report which might be completed late this month.

The council obviously would not have a lot of time to determine the hotel issue before making a decision on Nishi.

The mayor this week cited Dan Carson, a member of the Finance and Budget commission, who presented council “with a paper that showed that [the EPS report] really underestimated Nishi… He thinks that right now that the report had Nishi at a negative $78,000 per year, but he estimates that that’s a really low figure, that it’s probably much more positive into the millions.”

For his part, Mayor Wolk called the EPS report a very “conservative” assessment of the fiscal situation. He cited Dan Carson’s more optimistic view, which Mr. Carson trumpeted again before the Planning Commission.

It is the contingencies, however, that perhaps make the project more risky at this point.

On Tuesday, the mayor said, “I’m very interested to hear my colleagues’ take on Nishi because that second crossing is really critical to the council.” He noted that UC Davis is critical to this equation because the UC Regents have to approve the second crossing.

“Will the council and will the community ultimately be comfortable adopting a proposal that has contingencies? And key conditions to it, or do they want to see something more solid?” he asked. He said they’ll have the dialogue but his hope is that the council and community will still lend its approval.

The mayor here really nailed the question – will the public be willing to support a project where two of the most serious considerations are contingencies? Without a second crossing, most people do not see the project as viable. There needs to be a direct access point from Nishi to campus, otherwise the project itself cannot really work.

You cannot have rental housing that will be primarily students next to campus without having a direct access point to campus. It makes no sense.

The second contingency, as we noted, is the Richards Blvd. corridor plan that needs to be implemented.

When the council put Measure P on the ballot in 2009 for Wild Horse Ranch, they did so before completing the developer agreement with baseline features, and that became part of the ongoing controversy that ultimately helped to undo the project.

The public wants assurances and specifics, and so it will be really interesting to see if the public is willing to support the project without all of the details immediately locked down, but rather reserved as commitments from the developer.

The question will undoubtedly arise as to how enforceable those commitments are and how they would be enforced. None of this is necessarily insurmountable, but it might be an aggravating factor in a Measure R vote.

It will now be left to the council to tease out these details and ultimately decide if this project is ready to go on the ballot for June.

In the meantime, the Vanguard will be hosting a discussion and information session on Nishi. The free event will be Saturday, January 30, from 1 to 3 at the Conference Room of the University Park Inn at 1111 Richards Blvd. In addition to a presentation and discussion period, there will be a field trip immediately following the session.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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  1. Ron

    Seems like there’s a lot of uncertainties/risk.

    Here’s a quick list of the “certainties”:

    No significant financial benefit for the city (and possibly an ongoing financial loss).
    No benefit whatsoever for current homeowners.
    An increase in future “SACOG growth requirements” that will be forced upon the city as a result.
    Increased traffic and congestion (beyond the development site), and loss of open space.


    1. Ron

      Oh – and let’s not forget the permanent, increased demand on our limited water supply.  Be sure to continue your conservation efforts indefinitely, to provide for these new developments.

    2. hpierce

      Why should there be a “benefit” for current homeowners?  Was there a benefit to current homeowners when your home was built?  When you moved here?  When you were born?

      I get where new development should be as ‘neutral’ as possible, but a benefit?  Who died and left you a god?

      1. Ron


        I suspect that most people (myself included) look at proposed developments to see if there’s any benefit to them or to the community.  I don’t see anything wrong with that, really.  Beyond that, I question the wisdom of endless growth/development, everywhere.  40 million people in California alone, more than doubling in my lifetime (and continuing, with absolutely no end in sight).  All environmental problems can ultimately be attributed to unquestioned, endless growth.  (Not to mention traffic, congestion, shortages of water and other resources, and overall decline in the quality of life.)

        I have held these views my entire life, regardless of my living situation (e.g., renter, homeowner, etc.).

        No – I’m not claiming to be a “god”. (Far from it.) I’m just presenting my thoughts regarding what’s best for our community.

  2. CalAg

    One contingency is that development would not be able to go forward without a UC Davis commitment to the grade-separated crossing to the UC Davis campus.

    That decision is now wrapped into the LRDP (Long Range Development Plan) process that the university is undergoing. That approval might merely be a formality and it likely would occur long before construction would commence on the Nishi site.

    The LRDP contingency is deceiving. It is crafted to trick the public into thinking that the UCD access point is guaranteed. It is not.

    The two primary problems:

    (1) The LRDP is just a UCD planning document that has to be approved by the Regents. Accordingly, the Regents have control – and what’s in the LRDP guaranteed the City of Davis exactly nothing. There is a tech park on Old Davis Road south of I-80 in the current LRDP. It obviously never got built despite diligent efforts with a large commercial developer out of the Bay area about 10 years ago. The LRDP is just the first step in a long process with multiple downstream failure points.

    (2) There is no link between the UCD access point and construction and/or occupancy of the Nishi project. This sets up a scenario where the project is built, the developer is compliant with the baseline project features, but the UCD access point is never built. The only way – let me stress the word only – to insure that the UCD access point is actually built is to require initiation, at a minimum, of construction before the issuance of building and/or occupancy permits.

    1. hpierce

      Your comments ring true… UCD cannot be trusted until dirt is moving, and even then, it’s trust but verify [damn, quoting Reagan].

      Your second point is critical… there must not only be a strong “link”, but in my opinion, the ONLY access off W Olive should be bike/ped/EVA.  That should be “baseline”…

  3. CalAg

    The only way – let me stress the word only – to insure that the UCD access point is actually built is to require initiation, at a minimum, of construction before the issuance of building and/or occupancy permits.

    Correction – Conditioning anything on occupancy permits is not a guarantee. It is better than nothing, but it is not a guarantee. If (1) a significant amount of construction has occurred, (2) buildings are ready to be occupied, and (3) the UCD access point and/or Richards interchange improvements fail to materialize – there is no scenario where we will have a ghost development sitting empty waiting on infrastructure. There will be deals, litigation, excuses, apologies, finder-pointing, etc., but the occupancy permits will ultimately be issued whether the infrastructure is ever built or not.

    Bottom line – building permits have to be tied to the initiation of construction of the infrastructure projects. Once construction is underway, the public has more than reasonable assurances that the infrastructure will be completed.

    1. hpierce

      Actually, you can tie ISSUANCE of BP’s to completion of improvements… not standard, but possible… standard subdivision agreements call for no CO’s until improvements are ‘satisfactorally’ complete, but not uncommon to link certain improvements to a ‘threshold’ of how many CO’s are OK…

      CalAg is basically correct, but legally, CO’s can be withheld, if provided for in the project documents [usually, the subdivision improvement agreement], and if the building official and CM have the [pick your term] to stand by the City’s legal rights…

      1. CalAg

        hpierce: Are you aware of any cases in CA where a large development was not granted occupancy permits for a significant length of time because of a dispute over major infrastructure improvements?

        1. hpierce

          yes… but many years ago, so cannot provide cite (or site)[I’m not a land use attorney]… will note that “large development” does not fit Nishi (based on the case law I’ve seen, but didn’t bother to memorize)… Sea Ranch had a moratorium… Cambria had (has?) a moratorium… there has to be a “nexus”… a reasonable (that might be adjudicated) link to development and improvements… there is also “contract law”… development and/or subdivision improvement agreements… it’s partly dependent on whether local entities have “the balls” (there, I’ve said it) to stand up for the statutory/contract rights they have.

          In the government code, a local entity can condemn property to serve a development.  With the applicant paying the costs, if they can’t separately negotiate for those rights.

          That gets real “squishy” when another government entity [i.e. UC] is involved.

          Nishi, in my opinion, should neither be annexed, nor approved, until there are VERY firm commitments from UC (and UPRR) that there will be cooperation to make a UCD grade-separated crossing which is the primary access.

          Hell, Nishi was in Solano County as late as the mid-late  90’s.  Nishi is not in Davis!  Get a clue!  I do not support Nishi, per se, but to get my vote, the primary access will have to be a grade-separated crossing to UCD… I reiterate, in my opinion, Nishi should have no MV access to W Olive. [except EVA]

        2. Matt Williams

          hpierce said . . . “I reiterate, in my opinion, Nishi should have no MV access to W Olive. [except EVA]”

          No Public Transportation vehicle access to W Olive?  It is my understanding that UNITRANS is looking forward to being able to significantly upgrade its service to East Olive Drive and South Davis once the new tunnel is completed, because it will be tall enough to allow use by the UNITRANS buses, which the current Richards Subway does not allow.

        3. Matt Williams

          The comments last night by the individual Planning Commissioners were very interesting … most notably those of George Hague, who was assistant general manager of  surface division (all buses and trolleys) of The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), a regional public transportation authority[4] that operates various forms of public transit services—bus, subway and elevated rail, commuter rail, light rail and electric trolleybus—that serve 3.9 million people in five counties in and around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States.

          George strongly made the point that the planned grade separated crossing between Nishi and UCD appears to be insufficient to handle two-way traffic during a fire in one of the Nishi high rises.  Specifically George highlighted a situation where the UCD Fire Department Hook and Ladder is coming southbound through the tunnel and automobiles looking to exit the Nishi site are coming northbound.  George did not proposes specific remedies to the tunnel, but it is very clear that the tunnel’s carrying capacity needs to be able to handle that specific emergency situation.

          My personal take on George’s observation is that the tunnel needs to be able to simultaneously and safely handle a northbound UNITRANS bus and a southbound UCD Hook and Ladder.

          After hearing George’s comments, I expected his vote would be “No,” but when the roll was called, he did vote “Yes.”


  4. SODA

    I watched and listened to most if not all the PC members say ‘not now’ for various reasons then went upstairs and came down after the votes. Surprised me as it seemed not destined for passage. Any ideas why this happened this way?  Perhaps if they had not taken the individual votes but voted all in one motion it would have gone differently? Have a feeling it won’t affect CC vote do you?

    1. Matt Williams

      SODA asked . . . “Any ideas why this happened this way?”

      I concur with DP’s assessment.  In addition, the majority of the reasons that were expressed for “not now” were outside the realm of the actual plan.  They fall into the Development Agreement and its various conditions, as well as in the specifics of how Measure R baseline features will be described.  Some of the comments last night centered on whether the Planning Commission mission tasks them with the responsibility of weighing in on those “outside the realm of the plan” items.

      Clearly the Staff Report asked for recommendations from the Planning Commission on those “outside the realm of the plan” items, but just because they were asked to expand their customary purview, does not mean that they had agree to that expansion.

      Measure R/J projects don’t come along that often, and it would be interesting to see if any of the current 8 Planning Commissioners have been on the Commission during one.  Annexations come along even less often, and I am sure that none of the 8 have experience deliberating a Davis annexation.

      It is worth noting that the “No” votes from Chair Rob Hofmann and member Marq Truscott were based on what they felt were planning issues, specifically with respect to air quality.  Hofmann was very explicit in his comments that he had voted against Lexington Apartments (and others) for the same proximity to I-80 air quality reasons, and would be voting against any housing at Nishi for the same reasons he had voted against Lexington.

    1. Mark West

      There will always be ‘issues’ that may cause it to lose, no matter how long we wait.  The eternal search for the perfect.  I am mostly indifferent to the current proposal and see no urgency to move forward with it, but apparently the developer has a different opinion.

      I would have much preferred that our focus and staff time had been devoted to improving one of the peripheral business park projects instead as those will create more jobs and wealth for the community.

    2. CalAg

      (a)  They are racing MRIC to the ballot
      (b)  They are trying to get to the ballot before too much opposition builds and organizes
      (c)  They are trying to overwhelm the City’s planning capacity to limit project scrutiny and constraints
      (d)  All the above

      1. Matt Williams

        CalAg, you lost me.  How does (a) relate to whether a vote for Nishi needs to be on the June ballot or the November ballot?

        With respect to (b), is “before much opposition builds and organizes” realistic given (1) all the public scrutiny that Nishi has received to date, and (2) the fact that the June ballot also has the City Council race on it, and (3) the fact that the June ballot could also have a tax measure on it?

        With respect to (c), given all the public hearings about the EIR and the EPS Financial Study, what is there left to overwhelm and/or constrain?

        1. CalAg


          (a) MRIC was scheduled to be on the Nov ballot last time I checked (although at the last hearing the developers threatened to delay this if they don’t get their housing). If Nishi slips to Nov, they are potentially on the ballot with MRIC. I think they want to go first.

          (b) It’s hard to scrutinize a moving target. The baseline project features were just made public yesterday. And I assume the DA is nowhere close to being complete – I can’t find copies of either online. In my opinion the general public is still largely in the dark on many key issues. As the fog clears there will be a lot of concerned voters with little or no time to express their concerns except at the ballot box.

          (c) Look at the Staff Report. It was embarrassingly incomplete. Staff can’t keep up with the timeline. The Planning Commission had to approve stuff they hadn’t seen, without proper time to scrutinize the details and attach conditions to their approvals. In my opinion, the Staff Report and the attached documents would have benefited tremendously from three more solid months of work and the Commissioners would have benefited from a couple of weeks to review.

        2. Matt Williams

          Thank you for the answer.  I agree with the points you have made in (a).  I also agree with the uncertainty you acknowledge.

          Regarding your (b), I can’t count the number of times I have been told that the quickest way to a “no” vote is uncertainty.  I heard that loud and often just prior to the Measure P vote.  I strongly believe that having uncertainty actually builds and organizes opposition rather than thwarting it.

          Your (c) is far and away your most powerful point.  In addition to the points you have made in your (c), others have told me that Staff made their job significantly harder by asking the Planning Commission to make recommendations on issues that are outside their scope, which means you are saying that there wasn’t enough in the staff report, and others are saying that there was to much in the staff report.  Regardless the Planning Commission made the decision to move the process along to the Council.

          Have you watched the video?  Did you see/hear my public comment?


  5. Ron


    The online system won’t allow me to respond directly under your question to me.

    My thoughts regarding endless development and growth were submitted so that others might understand the reason that I’m concerned.  It is a problem that goes well beyond Davis or the region.  I think the first step is to promote awareness, and to avoid taking steps which exacerbate the problem.

    1. Matt Williams

      Ron, when you get to that online system limitation, you can do what you did here using the Leave a Reply feature, or alternatively you can scroll up above the comment you want to reply to until you get to the Reply>> link for the comment that prompted the reply you wanted to respond to.

      In this specific case, the Reply >> link above Mark West’s 12:11 pm comment is your 10:52 am comment.

    2. Mark West


      I see value in talking about how we want to grow and develop, but any discussion that focuses on stopping growth is one that is not based in reality. Your comments decrying population growth in your lifetime suggests that you think population growth should stop. My question for how you are going to do that is a reasonable one. If it is not your intention to try to stop growth and development, however, then you really should be presenting your vision for how you think we can best move forward.

      The population of the region will continue to grow regardless of what we do, so we need to create a plan for managing that growth, not trying to stop it. We will reduce our overall environmental footprint by creating jobs closer to where people live, accommodating population growth with higher-density housing, and designing to maximize non-automobile transportation. The only one of these three things that Davis currently does well is the last (and there we have a great deal of room to improve).

      That is my broad vision, what is yours?

      1. Ron


        I cannot stop endless population growth and development by myself.  My impact as an individual is quite insignificant, even in a (supposedly) “slow-growth” small city.  However, it’s also a reality that endless growth and development cannot continue indefinitely on a finite planet that’s shared with other life.  (Nor is it desirable.)  If we don’t acknowledge this, I suspect that the environment itself may ultimately “solve” this problem for us, in a most unpleasant manner.  Maybe not in our lifetimes.

        If we aren’t ready to acknowledge the problem, any plans to address it would likely fail.  For example, anyone who proposes some reasonable steps (such as eliminating additional child tax breaks, for those who have more than two children) would likely be labeled as “anti-family”, or worse.  (However, I think this idea provides a glimpse of my “vision”.)

        In the meantime, all I can do is to express my thoughts, and advocate against developments that (I believe) contribute to the problem.  Despite Davis’ reputation as a “slow-growth” city, there’s significant growth occurring (or in the pipeline) right now, including the Cannery, the old farm (near the cemetery), etc.  And, more to come, regardless of our vote on specific developments.  Again, if we grow beyond the limits that are imposed upon us by SACOG, it will have a compounding effect.  (SACOG will then impose an even higher “growth requirement” on Davis based on that new growth, during the next cycle.)  Not sure why anyone would want to vote for a development (such as NISHI, or housing at MRIC) that would cause this to occur.

        And no, I don’t think that “upward sprawl” is (ultimately) the answer, either.  I think that doing so greatly reduces the quality of life for all residents, and simply delays the inevitable.  Of course, it is better than sprawling outward, for the reasons you mentioned.



  6. Matt Williams

    Question to Eileen Samitz . . .

    In Eileen’s public comment there has been a regular and recurring reference to SACOG’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA), and specifically how building more housing can/will result in SACOG assigning a higher RHNA allocation to Davis in the future.

    I have to admit, that every time Eileen makes that comment, it perplexes me.

    The reason for my confusion is that the descriptions of the RHNA process that SACOG and the State of California provide do not appear to support the conclusion Eileen has come to about future RHNA allocations for Davis, because past building history is not included as one of the RHNA assignment criteria.

    The following is information taken from SACOG’s Regional Housing Needs web page

    What are the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) and Regional Housing Needs Plan (RHNP)?

    The State of California, through the Housing and Community Development Department (HCD), will issue a Regional Housing Needs Determination to SACOG’s six-county region for the January 1, 2013 to October 31, 2021 planning period. HCD calculates the regional determination using information provided by the California Department of Finance. The regional determination includes an overall housing need number, as well as a breakdown of the number of units required in four income distribution categories, as further defined below.

    Based on the regional determination provided by HCD, SACOG must develop a Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) and a Regional Housing Needs Plan (RHNP). These state-mandated documents allocate a projected share of the regional determination to each of the cities and counties in SACOG’s six-county region. The RHNA establishes the total number of housing units that each city and county must plan for within the eight-year planning period. Based on the adopted RHNA, each city and county must update its housing element to demonstrate how the jurisdiction will meet the expected growth in housing need over the eight-year planning period.

    What is SACOG’s role in the RHNA Process?

    California’s Housing Element Law (Government Code, §§ 65580 et seq.) mandates that SACOG develop and approve a RHNA and RHNP for its six-county region, including the counties of El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo, and Yuba, and their 22 cities. The RHNA and RHNP must also include the Tahoe Basin portions of El Dorado and Placer counties, and the city of South Lake Tahoe, which are not normally within SACOG’s planning area.

    It is SACOG’s responsibility to coordinate with HCD prior to its determination of the regional housing need. Once SACOG receives the regional determination, including the overall need number and the income category distribution, it must adopt a methodology for distributing the regional growth number throughout the region. The methodology is the basis for the final RHNA and RHNP that SACOG ultimately adopts.

    Generally, what factors are used to determine the RHNA?

    State law requires SACOG to consider the following factors, to the extent sufficient data is available, when developing its RHNA methodology:

    — Existing and projected jobs and housing relationship;
    — Opportunities and constraints to development of additional housing, including:

      Lack of capacity for sewer and water due to federal or state laws, regulations or regulatory actions, or supply and distribution decisions made by a sewer or water service provider that preclude the jurisdiction from providing necessary infrastructure for additional development during the planning period;
      Availability of land suitable for urban development or for conversion to residential use, the availability of underutilized land, and opportunities for infill development and increased residential densities (SACOG may not limit its consideration based on the jurisdiction’s existing zoning ordinances and land use restrictions);
      Lands preserved or protected from urban development under existing federal or state programs, or both, designed to protect open space, farmland, environmental habitats, and natural resources on a long-term basis;
      County policies to preserve prime agriculture lands within an unincorporated area;
      Distribution of household growth assumed for a comparable period in the regional transportation plan and opportunities to maximize the use of public transportation and existing transportation infrastructure;

    — Market demand for housing;
    — Agreements between a county and cities in the county to direct growth toward incorporated areas of the county;
    — Loss of units contained in assisted housing developments;
    — High housing cost burdens;
    — Housing needs of farmworkers;
    — Housing needs generated by the presence of a private university or a campus of the California State University or the University of California;

  7. Eileen Samitz


    I am sorry that you are perplexed Matt, but you conveniently left out the last SACOG bullet point:

    “-And any other relevant factors, as determined by SACOG.”

    Historically, we had seen the trend and heard the rational for why our fair share growth numbers were assigned, and City’s appearing to be receptive to growth,  got higher fair share numbers assigned. I know about the criteria and I understand that it is used, but SACOG can use anything they consider relevant, like past building history.

    Also, you answer your own question if you look at the last section that you did post including:

    “— Housing needs generated by the presence of a private university or a campus of the California State University or the University of California.”






    1. Matt Williams

      Thank you for your answer Eileen.  What other relevant factors, other than Measure J/R and the 1% Growth Cap, has SACOG used in its recent RHNA allocations?

      Regarding the final sentence you have quoted, the UCD campus with all its attendant housing needs has not historically been included by SACOG in the City’s RHNA allocation.  It has always been included in the RHNA allocation for the unincorporated portion of Yolo County.  Testimony to that effect was presented to the Housing Element Steering Committee (HESC) when Sue Greenwald, numerous HESC members, and members of the public raised questions about West Village.  Santa Cruz, where the University is inside the City Limits, would be subject to the provisions of your final sentence.  That is not the case in Davis.

  8. Eileen Samitz

    I attended and testified at the Planning Commission meeting and after hearing all the concerns raised by other citizens and the Planning Commissioners about the Nishi Gateway proposal. The Planning Commissioner’s concerns were serious, such as the traffic and access issues, and particularly the health issues due to the air quality problems that have been documented in detail by Dr. Cahill, a UCD faculty atmospheric scientist who specializes in this subject. These air quality issues are significant because the Nishi Gateway project is sandwiched in between I-80 and the railroad tracks. Yet the Planning Commission forwarded the project on anyway. It is hard to understand, why?

    This was on top of the inexcusable last minute release by Staff of the abysmal Nishi Gateway baseline project features language, at 5pm for the 7pm Planning Commission meeting, which did not really give the Commission, nor the public adequate time to read, no less comprehend, and comment on. The Nishi Gateway project is one of the biggest and most complex land use decisions Davis has ever made.  Better project baseline features, as well as comments to address the problems of this project needed to be nailed down at this Planning Commission meeting, or else delayed to allow time for the Commission and the public to review these critical last minute documents.  Yet, the project was pushed forward.

    The Planning Commission’s job is to protect the health, welfare, and safety of the citizens of Davis, but sadly, the outcome of last night’s meeting really did not reflect that. It seemed to be more about getting expeditious decisions made last night, rather then allowing the time to deliberate to get to the point of having well informed decisions made and getting the best conditions of this project for the citizens of Davis.  A majority of  citizens speakers urged the Planning Commission to not rush these important decisions last night, but the decision making was apparently being railroaded by Staff.  However, the Planning Commission could have asked for more time to make these incredibly important decisions, and instead they pushed the project forward together with all of its significant problems and the terrible baseline project features language.

    For instance the baseline project features language allows the developer add 20% more housing units (which means around 130 additional units) for a total of 780 housing units jammed into a small land parcel (only 47 gross acres), as well as 345,000 square feet of commercial! Also, the UCD connection just needs to be “approved” by UCD, not constructed (and to their credit, the Planning Commission did make that language change recommendation).

    I can only hope that the mess of a project that is being forward to City Council does not get railroaded through the City Council as well.

    1. SODA

      Eileen, do you think the views expressed by most of the commissioners to vote no or let’s wait would have been cast as such if the vote had been one vote and not bifurcated into several votes. I did not understand the reasoning of separating the motions/votes.

      Do you really think the CC will stop it moving forward?

  9. Eileen Samitz

    SODA: My impression was that “let’s wait’ was not even an option that the Commission were considering and I do not understand why. I don’t think bifurcating the votes was the issue, because it would have all had to start with at least one Commissioner asking to “let’s wait”, but that did not happen. I could tell that Staff wanted decisions that night, and they could have helped the Commission understand the issues a lot more when comments like “this process is fluid for the baseline features” was mentioned by one Commissioner, and that is not the case. The Commission was being asked to nail down the baseline features, and that was their opportunity to do that, or ask for a delay, and a delay was really what should have happened.

    This project with so many problems, and then with critical documents like the baseline features being released, literally, last minute, should have be delayed for adequate time to thoroughly review and comment on to improve this critical list of specifics and conditions. The baseline features are what go on the Measure J/R ballot. So a really bad project loaded with uncertainties and problems, and abysmal baseline features has gone forward to City Council, and that’s where this mess needs to be addressed at this point.

    (Note: I had a great deal of trouble getting logging back in to the Vanguard so this is likely to be my last post tonight.)

  10. Misanthrop

    Is measure R driving the train? A system that was supposed to guarantee good planning may be undermining it in order to meet election timelines. As projects stack up for election space it seems that the filing deadlines for the June election are driving the process because politics make having two projects on the same ballot too risky. Then if a project gets bumped it takes two more years to get on the ballot. The unintended consequences of ballot box planning keep getting curiouser and curiouser.

    1. Matt Williams

      Misanthrop said … “Then if a project gets bumped it takes two more years to get on the ballot.”

      Why two years Misanthrop?  Why not the next election?

      In recent years we have had elections in:

      February (Presidential Primary and Propositions 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96 and 97)

      March (Measure I, Davis-Woodland Water Supply Project),

      May (Davis JUSD Measure A),

      June (many, many)

      July (MEASURE B:  supporting student transportation, athletics, and core and elective academic programs)

      October (Recall of Gray Davis; State of California),

      November (many, many)

  11. Frankly

    I think Ron has hit on something important that few have the honesty to admit.  Certainly there are some that post on the VG with this opinion about Davis… even as they attempt to mask it dancing on the head of a growth vs. no-growth pin.

    And I think it is a legitimate point of view.  I applaud Ron’s honesty and frankness (I love frankness!).

    I do note all these wonderful small-medium-sized European cities that I’m sure are models that some Davisites want to replicate… they want it… but I think they are confused not really not knowing what “it” is.  But they feel Davis is close… close enough that they are risk-averse about something changing and taking Davis the wrong way.

    I noted something traveling this holiday season.  My spouse had the same thought at almost the same time.  We were staying in Austin on South Congress which is a real popular and vibrant neighborhood.  During the typical day it was overwleming with crowds.  Christmas Eve and Christmas Day it was dead as one would expect with few of the businesses open.  We commented that there was an opinimum density of humanity that gives a place a good vibe… too much or too little is a downer.

    Put I also think it depends on the person.  Because I have friends that love to visit super dense big cities overseas. And I have friends that want to live in the country with nobody around them and really dislike crowds.  Call it population tolerance.

    And this then get’s me back to Mark West’s points.  I have written this before and I think it is the fact that many people that want Davis to stay the same are just unluckly. They are unlucky that UCD has been so successful.  They are unlucky that the region has grown and is growing.  They are unlucky that California and Davis are still such desireable places to live.  They are unlucky that so many imigrants flood here and stay here.  They are unluckly that Davis has such a deficit of so many things that need to be balanced.

    They can keep throwing a bit of a tantrum over growth; but ultimately they really have no choice but to learn to accept it and a different Davis, or start looking for another place to live that better suits their population tolerance.

    1. Don Shor

      Actually, I think they’re frustrated because this growth is being dictated by the university without coordination or cooperation with the city, and without any acknowledgment or mitigation of its impacts. When something is imposed without redress, that breeds resentment. I would think, as a conservative, that you would appreciate that. So to keep denigrating people you disagree with (“throwing a bit of a tantrum”) is disrespectful of that core frustration they feel.

      I hear it all the time when discussing growth issues: the university should build it. And I understand that viewpoint. We need the peripheral developments at Nishi and Mace Ranch as a pragmatic answer to current problems. But that doesn’t mean we have to like it, like the consequences those developments will bring in the way of traffic and housing demand. I consider these developments part of a realistic economic strategy that will also, I hope, include cost-cutting and possible revenue increases. But they do have adverse impacts that we can’t ignore. They’re a compromise.

      I urge you to stop belittling people you disagree with. It’s tiresome and doesn’t serve the discussion. And if anyone needs to “start looking for another place to live that better suits their population tolerance” it’s probably someone who keep using Austin Texas as a model for what they might like to see Davis become.

      1. Mark West

        “Actually, I think they’re frustrated because this growth is being dictated by the university without coordination or cooperation with the city”

        Since at least the mid ’70s, the City has had a reputation for ignoring the needs of the University, especially those of the students. If the University has started to act in a unilateral fashion it is likely because the City clearly demonstrated that it wasn’t interested in being a good partner. The disconnect is the City’s fault, not the University’s.

        I think this same attitude on the part of City residents shows up with the demand that student housing should be built on campus rather than in the City. There is nothing worse than the prospect of those pesky students mucking up our local politics after all.

        1. Don Shor

          From the mid-1970’s to the early 1990’s Davis added significant housing and rental stock. For a time, Davis was the fastest-growing city in Yolo County. Then that came to a screeching halt.
          If the general goal is to have UC provide 40% of housing, and the city provide 60%, then for a time there the city was exceeding the goal. The university has never come close. So I agree with Eileen Samitz and others that the university obviously needs to step up on providing student housing. Where we disagree is that she and others seem to feel that no rental housing should be privately built until UCD steps up.
          I think the city has fallen behind on doing its share of the bargain. UCD hasn’t fallen behind — it’s never been there. When the chancellor announced the 2020 Initiative, city leaders should have had one clear, unambiguous question for her and they should have repeated it over and over: where are they going to live?

        2. Mark West

          That’s nice Don, but it really doesn’t address my point. The overwhelming approach that the City has taken with the University over time can best be described as ‘this is what we demand that you do.’  Eileen is just the latest example.  We have always addressed issues in terms of what the University is going to do for us, not how can we work together. If I recall correctly, that ‘master of collaboration’ Sue Greenwald was our primary contact between the University and the City for much of the time she was on the CC.  Do you really think that helped the relationship?

          The University has responded in a rational manner to how the City has approached the relationship. Those calling on us to make new demands of the University are exacerbating the problem (and ignoring history).

    2. David Greenwald

      “I think it is the fact that many people that want Davis to stay the same are just unlucky.”

      It depends on what you mean by “stay the same”

      The reality is that Davis isn’t the same as it was when I moved here now 20 year ago in 1996. It won’t be the same in ten years or twenty years from now.

      That said, Davis is a similar community to what it was twenty years ago. It is a modest sized community, it has a small town feel, it has a solid downtown, and it’s a college town with good schools. Those are all qualities I would like to preserve. Within those confines, I’m fine with changes occurring. But I’m reluctant to see the town grow to 100,000 people. I think that would diminish the qualities that have led me to stay here even as someone who doesn’t own a home.

      1. Misanthrop

        I’ve heard this from people over the years. It seems that 100,000 people is some sort of arbitrary psychological benchmark that people fear will adversely effect the quality of life here in Davis. I’ve always wondered why this centi-millenial number sends people into a flight or fright response but for some reason it does. Compared to other places in the world with mega cities measured in the tens of millions the resistance to 100,000 in Davis is simply too weird. Perhaps a little counseling for anthropophobia might help those of you that suffer from this fear.

        Matt I think the huge loss of Wildhorse Ranch served as a deterrent to doing a Measure R vote in a special election.

        1. David Greenwald

          I don’t know why it’s weird, we have plenty of large cities in this state and country. I have lived in Sacramento, Washington DC, and St. Louis. I don’t like the urban lifestyle and wanted to live in a smaller college town. It’s a matter of personal preference.

        2. Barack Palin

          Matt I think the huge loss of Wildhorse Ranch served as a deterrent to doing a Measure R vote in a special election.

          Being that 75% voted against Wildhorse Ranch are you saying the city should do whatever trickery they can come up with in order to try and push through development?

        3. Matt Williams

          Misanthrop said . . . “Matt I think the huge loss of Wildhorse Ranch served as a deterrent to doing a Measure R vote in a special election.”

          Fair enough.  That still leaves both June and November, so moving it back from June would logically be 5 months to November rather than 12 months to the next June.  Both those elections have the high voter turnout that a special election (other than Measure I) typically doesn’t have.

        4. Matt Williams

          BP said . . . “Being that 75% voted against Wildhorse Ranch are you saying the city should do whatever trickery they can come up with in order to try and push through development?”

          Choosing a general election date (June and November) vs. a special election date isn’t trickery.  It is simply acknowledging that typically lower voter turnout means that the voice of the passionate voters is more dominant than in a higher voter turnout.

          Many voters in the high turnout general elections are informed on the State and National issues/candidates, but often don’t take the time to be as informed about the other items on the ballot.  They aren’t voting their passions as much as they are voting with their personal connections within the community.

    3. Ron

      Thanks, Frankly. I do attempt to be honest.  I also think that endless development/growth will ultimately affect/reduce quality of life everywhere (not just in Davis).  We’re already seeing some effects (e.g., global warming).  I don’t think there’s anywhere I can move, to completely avoid some of the global consequences.  I do think that all environmental problems are exacerbated by endless growth/development.

      But again, I’m just one person.  Seems like there’s lots of viewpoints on this forum.  Even some of those who are generally slow-growth do not necessarily see things the same way I do.  And, their point of view is also valid.

        1. Frankly

          Not true.  I only categorize those that fit into a category.  You for example, are not one since you have a balanced view (on this topic) that reflects objective consideration.  However, there are others that have their heels firmly dug in and flap their gums in a hopeless and somewhat embarrassing attempt to sound sensical… when they clearly dealing with unresolved emotional responses… mostly that are unfounded.

          For example, they don’t want peripheral development, don’t support building up and then complain about the effects of high human congestion in our tiny downtown.   Add that all up and it is nonsensical.

      1. Mark West

        While you are absolutely right that continuous development has negative impacts on the environment, you also have to acknowledge that for whatever reason, you have chosen to live here, just as I and many others have. You also have to acknowledge that many other people also want to live here for their own reasons.  Are we to tell those new people tough luck, you don’t get a place to live? We got here first so now you have to stay out.

        Is that really a solution to the problem?


        1. Ron


          I’m not telling anyone where to live.  I am stating that I’m not willing to continually and endlessly support new developments, which simply perpetuates the problem.  (Really, everywhere.  But, I’m not allowed to vote beyond our area.)  I’ve felt this way regardless of my location, or changes in my personal living situation (e.g., renter, vs. homeowner).  I think it’s more important to start acknowledging the problems that endless growth and development creates, compared to anyone’s individual concern about wanting to live in any particular area.   (And really, I don’t think that Davis is that much more desirable than many other places to live.)  However, Davis is one of the very few places that at least allows citizens to decide such issues (to some degree). (This fact is a primary reason that Davis is somewhat more desirable than some other areas.)

          I make no apologies for my point of view.

        2. Frankly

          Ron – You can move to the Midwest where there are a lot fewer people.

          You can also demand from politicians to stop allowing 1 million immigrants per year to come to the US.

          But, how does new developments “perpetuate the problem”?

      2. Ron


        Regarding the reason that endless growth/development contribute to the problem:

        I think that endless population growth/development are somewhat separate issues (to some degree).  That is, they are not completely/totally connected.  But, there’s a correlation.

        Of the two concerns, endless development is probably more harmful to the environment than endless population growth.

        To some degree, allowing development to continue without question also encourages endless population growth.

        I agree with you, regarding “endless immigration”, as well.  I think this also encourages the problem (much like allowing endless development).

        In the end, it’s a losing battle, if worldwide population doesn’t stabilize at some point.  Who knows, we may already have exceeded our planet’s long-term carrying capability.  (It partly depends on how we live, and how much development we pursue.)  I think we tend to forget that we’re dependent upon a healthy earth to survive.  Despite our technology, we’re dependent upon it.

        Our impact on the environment is much greater than the size of our actual footprint (development).  We’ve reached into every corner of the earth to support development (lumber, mining, oil, etc.).  Even (especially?) areas where there’s very little population.



        1. Frankly

          Ron, it seems you are a bit of a fatalist.  It is interesting to me that out of all the things you are concerned about, you didn’t include global war or economic crashes.

          I was thinking about the British after having endured the terrible Great War where 38 million of the global population died to have to have to fight again in barely more than a generation.  Then 60 million people dead from that war.

          I don’t know, but I don’t see man-made global warming killing this many people if any.

          In all things there needs to be balance.  It sounds like you are seeing a big out of balance condition.

          You might be right about global population growth.  I don’t know.  It is primarily the Muslim places in the world where the rate of population growth is so strong.  In most western and industrialized countries population growth has stabilized.  Even Mexico is moving toward a western-style reproduction rate.

          But here is a thought for you.  If humans are just another animal of nature, maybe mass killing from man-made global warming is a natural correction in our population explosion.  Like that colony of ants that develops on the levies in a hundred-year flood-plane and gets wiped out.  A few survive and rebuild.

          If you are so concerned about human population growth, then why not buy a big truck and spew a bunch of carbon to hasten the natural apocalypse so we can “fix” the damn over-population problem?   If you only ride a bike then you delay the correction and we end up with even MORE people.

          Luckily the Davis CC will pass a ordinance making Davis a global-warming impact free zone, so at least all of us will live on.

      3. Ron


        That’s pretty funny, really.  I enjoyed that.

        You do have a way of challenging beliefs and assumptions that is probably healthy, in an online forum like this.  Sometimes, I think we all take ourselves too seriously.  (Myself included.)

        Do they still sell Hummers?  Maybe I should get one!

        1. Ron


          Also –  I enjoy reading the interaction between you and Tia.  Tia is a very strong debater, and provides excellent counter-arguments.  (Occasionally, there appears to be some agreement between the two of you.)  I’ve been viewing the interaction for some time.  Tia seems to be a very socially-responsible, logical, and thoughtful person.  She contributes/engages regarding a variety of concerns.

  12. Frankly

    Compared to other places in the world with mega cities measured in the tens of millions the resistance to 100,000 in Davis is simply too weird. Perhaps a little counseling for anthropophobia might help those of you that suffer from this fear.

    Well said.  I agree.  That was my point.  People set up these weird boundaries in their head: whether it be a outward horizontal geographic boundary, a vertical boundary or a numbers boundary.  Too big, too tall, too many, too much.

    But ask them to inventory their actual concerns and all you hear is a nebulous ball of fluff.  A bunch of “I do wants” but only after assuming the worst.  Then you get Don Shor’s attacking the messenger for even suggesting that people are not rationally-connected to their concerns.  They are only expressing their unfounded emotional fears.

    For example, “I used to live in Orange Country and I don’t want Davis to become Orange County!”

    “Small town feel”

    What the heck is that anyway?  I’m serious here.  What does that mean in actual and tangible terms?

    It took me three light changes on Russel heading east at Aurthur Street today and yesterday around 8:30 AM.  It is taking me at least another 5 minutes every morning to drive to work or bike to work due to traffic.  I grew up in small towns.  None of them had anything close to the level of traffic congestion that Davis has.  So let’s be honest and cross that off the list of “small town feel” attributes.

    What else is it?  Maybe the number of old dilapidated buildings downtown.  Is that it? If that it is it, then it is just a stupid thing?  Why would anyone like crappy old buildings?  Just build new buildings and cover them with rustic wood and rusty metal.

    Small town feel.

    I really don’t have a clue what the heck people are talking about when they say this.  Davis is not a small town.   So trying to keep it a small town is… frankly weird… and problematic.

    The key to keeping a place vibrant, attractive and pleasing is to develop with smart principles.  Larger cities develop neighborhoods.   Nobody that lives in Davis lives all over Davis.  We already inhabit neighborhoods.  Downtown is a neighborhood.  If you want to preserve the downtown as is, start thinking of it as Old Davis Downtown, and start envisioning some peripheral commercial expansion that allows other vibrant neighborhoods to develop.

    Because here is the thing.  Davis downtown is already changing… and it is gonna’ change much more.  The Binning properties are being sold to a Bay Area development company that specializes in shopping centers, big box retail and strip malls.  Rents rents will go up.  We will see more retail merchants leave and more student-oriented food and beverage business take over.  Or else, these new owners will want to re-develop.  And if they re-develop they will want to build taller buildings because of the demand for space relative to the value of the land.

    And so the downtown will change despite all the hand-wringing and blocking from the Davis “I want my small town feel” activists.

    Davis is no longer a “small town”.  It has not been a small town for decades.  Today it has a population density of 7,200 people per square mile.  That makes us the #110 out of 1517 most population-dense cities in all of California.   It puts us in a group of all urban areas mostly in the Bay Area and Southern California.

    Here is a real crack up… you know that terrible place called Orange County.  Well Irving, I’m sure one of the cities that those making this claim would dislike, has a population density of 3,600 per square mile… exactly HALF of the population density of Davis (when school is in session).

    UCD is expanding and no matter where the students’ housing is build they will still use the city and city services.  They will still populate the city.  Their growing numbers will continue to make Davis feel less and less like a small town.

    Instead of just repeating this useless and largely invalid “small town feel” slogan, how about starting to list the actual tangible and material attributes that make a city an attractive place to live…

    1. Don Shor

      Here’s a good description of what a “small town feel” is.

      While Portland offers many of the attractions of a large metropolitan area, it possesses something that large cities typically lack: a “small town feel” that Portlanders value deeply. Portland is laid back, friendly, walkable, community-oriented, familiar, soulful and infused with nature—a “livable small city with heart.” Many Portlanders worry that this small-town feeling will be lost or is already being lost in the face of population growth and in-migration from other parts of the country. Most people would like to see Portland’s unique identity and small town feel maintained and enhanced, although a minority would prefer to see Portland evolve into a larger, more cosmopolitan city along the lines of Boston, Seattle or San Francisco.

      It’s part of what is sometimes called ‘community identity’.

      Then you get Don Shor’s attacking the messenger for even suggesting that people are not rationally-connected to their concerns.

      I call you out for constantly belittling people who disagree with you.

      1. Frankly


        Thanks.  I keep getting that family mixed up with another I know that owns a lot of property.

        I call you out for constantly belittling people who disagree with you.

        I am calling them out for their nonsensical arguments.  It is not just that they disagree… I am fine with disagreement… I seek it out… it is that they are not positioning themselves as having rational arguments that are not rational.

        Thanks for the Portland “small town feel” description.  You do know that you completely validated my points with this.  Portland has a “small town feel?”  I agree that it does.  Have you noted that Portland is 145 square miles, has a population of almost 600,000, has a population density of 4,375 per square mile, and has many tall buildings downtown?

        So people wring their hands that growth will destroy the small town feel of Davis, yet here is a city that is more than eight times the population of Davis and residents still say it has a small-town feel.

        So, people that reject growth because they claim it would destroy Davis’s small town feel are non-nonsensical and emotional and not rational.   The problem is that if we walk on eggshells not challenging the irrational, we cannot have rational debates.  If people dig in their heels accepting this narrative that growth of any type ruins Davis’s small town feel, then the debate is over because there is really no sensitive way to challenge it.  That crap needs to be broken up… get people to think bigger and deeper and stop being so afraid and nervous in their Davis bubble and look at the big and wide world around them for answers to their questions.

        1. Davis Progressive

          portland does not have a “small town feel”  that’s silly.  when people say that they simply mean that it doesn’t feel as overwhelmingly urban as say san francisco or seattle.  it doesn’t feel like davis.

        2. Mark West

          Saying that Portland has a ‘small town feel’ is a bit of a stretch, but I will agree that it is a very comfortable City to visit. Especially so for how they have managed the redevelopment of the downtown district and the excellent public transportation system.  The reality, however, is that Portland is a sprawling City with the population of the metropolitan area pushing 2.5 million, and an extremely large tax base. You can do a lot with good planning and business development.

          Growing Davis’ tax base will help us pay for things that will help keep Davis nice as well.

        3. Frankly

          While Portland offers many of the attractions of a large metropolitan area, it possesses something that large cities typically lack: a “small town feel” that Portlanders value deeply.

          Read it again DP.  Read it over and over and over again.  And then understand that this is your opinion and only your opinion.  There are no absolutes.  “Small town feel” is 100% subjective and hence cannot and should not be a basis for planing.  People living in Dixon and Winters might feel that Davis lacks a small town feel.  So are you silly to think that Davis has a small town feel?

          To the people of Portland they “feel” that their city has a “small town feel” and are nervous about change that impacts it.

          The point I am making is to stop with this nebulous fear-based stuff and get down to what exactly it is that we all value and want in our city.

          1. Don Shor

            I’m really not sure why this gives you so much trouble. You go to places like Austin and describe to us what they were like, and yet you can’t fathom how other people might be having perceptions about their environment. From that same link:

            Portland is laid back, friendly, walkable, community-oriented, familiar, soulful and infused with nature—a “livable small city with heart.”

            That is what they “value and want” in their city.
            Of course subjective perceptions can be a basis for planning.
            I urge you to spend some time looking at the process Portland went through and the results as to what the citizens there want.

        4. Frankly

          Saying that Portland has a ‘small town feel’ is a bit of a stretch

          Yes, from a Davis resident perspective, but apparently not from a Portland resident perspective.  That is my point.

          Talk to the people in Winters and ask them if they think Davis has a small town feel.

          You can do a lot with good planning and business development.

          Bingo.  But not if you block everything over fear of losing our small town feel.


        5. Frankly

          I’m really not sure why this gives you so much trouble.

          Trouble?  What trouble?  I got no trouble.

          You are the one struggling to understand simple points.

          No strike that.  I am sure you understand but you are, as usual, holding firm in your standard stubborn way.

          But maybe you don’t know enough to understand the benefit of controlling your own destiny versus the liability that comes with perpetual fussing and denying and thus just allowing things to just happen to you organically.  That is what good victims do.

          Most everything that no-growers oppose is happening anyway.  The region is growing and freeway traffic is getting worse.  Downtown buildings will be replaced and taller ones will replace them.  More local traffic will happen. More cars will happen.  More young people will use the downtown and more downtown business will accommodate them with the types of business they want.   Less available parking will happen.  More noise.  More congestion.  More pollution.  More danger for bikers and pedestrians.  This is gonna happen no matter if we increases taxes or not.   Too bad, so sad.  Unlucky luck for those wanting to cement their stasis existence into a Davis time bubble.

          Without peripheral growth, all these inevitable impacts from continued growth of the university will happen and Davis will not get any revenue increases in return. And we will continue to have a growing budget deficit that will cause us to cut services and allow parks and roads to deteriorate.

          But hey, we can sure say that we saved our “small town feel”  Yippee!!

          1. Don Shor

            If I “didn’t understand simple points” I wouldn’t support Nishi, Mace Ranch, and the defunct proposal in northwest Davis. I am explaining to you what people appreciate about a particular city, what gives it character, the aspects of community identity that people value. You keep asserting that those, being ‘subjective’, are somehow inappropriate, emotional, irrational, and should not be considerations. What you are basically saying to people is ‘those may be the things you like about Davis, but that isn’t a factor in how we should grow’.

            I used Portland intentionally. It’s a big city, but their planning process takes those publicly expressed values into consideration. Austin also has a unique character that people there seem to appreciate (‘Keep Austin Weird’). Even a large city can have unique character and can have what the residents define as small town feel. You can disparage that all you like, and it is obvious that you don’t like or want or care about a small town feel — you’ve made that very obvious. You personally clearly don’t value those things. You speak admiringly of Folsom, Vacaville, Austin, and Napa. Each of those places, I’m sure, has its charm. And each has things about it that the people there value.

            But as Portland shows, a planning process needs to have input from the community. It is very clear that the Davis community, as expressed in voting patterns, does not want fast growth. It would be helpful for the community to have a process of identifying what is valued. Doby has suggested a visioning process; the General Plan needs to be updated — those are both mechanisms for expressing and codifying the community values. That way the necessary growth can reflect what the public wants.

    2. hpierce

      Your posit that this is not a “small town” is BS… I’m a ”newbie”… only arrived in Davis 43 years ago.

      Since then, have found that most people in Davis that I’ve known are 1-3 degrees of separation from folk I’ve known/cared for… it still is  “small town” if you pay attention to the connections…

      You are perfectly free to not recognize ‘connections’…  a “denier”, if you will… the fact that Davis is still a “small town” is the reason I post under a nom-de-plume…

      1. Ron

        I think I’m being lured into a “trick question”!  But, I understand your point.  In any case, I’d say that we are growing “fast enough”, and I’m not looking to increase it.

  13. Tia Will


    Compared to other places in the world with mega cities measured in the tens of millions the resistance to 100,000 in Davis is simply too weird”

    Only if you define those mega cities measure in the tens of millions as desirable places to live. I do not. If you are going to do this arbitrary kind of comparison, why not pick the town of 2,000 in which I grew up as the standard thus defining  100,000 population for Davis as simply too large to be contemplated since it is “too weird”.

    I agree with Frankly that different people do have different population tolerances. As Ron has expressed in a manner with which I completely agree having been expressing a similar point of view for as long as I have been posting here, but for some reason Frankly seems to find less objectionable, the fact that we are in the midst of over population on a global scale does not mean that we should embrace a “grow as fast as we can ” philosophy here in Davis.

    My recommendation would be that, accepting that we have regional obligations that must be met, we of course meet those obligations. And I would recommend that is all that we do. I see no need, and largely downsides to more rapid population growth. However, I would never stand in the way of someone who loves Austin from moving there. I will , however, stand in opposition to their attempts to turn Davis into Austin.


    1. Frankly

      but for some reason Frankly seems to find less objectionable

      You and I are old friends, but I am just getting to know Ron.  He needs a chance to explain himself.

      However, I would never stand in the way of someone who loves Austin from moving there.

      Of course not.  But you would stand in the way of someone who loves Davis from moving to Davis.

      You would stand in the way of a business that wants to move to Davis to move to Davis.

      You would even stand in the way of existing residents and businesses in Davis to have affordable rents and options for where they might locate.

      Face it Tia, you are trying to keep Davis in the mold of your vision of a retirement village.  That is fine, but selfish in light of the fact that Davis was never intended to be your retirement village.  It is just that the old grumpy retired and soon-to-be-retired people have managed to take over the town!

      The good news is that downtown change is just going to happen, but not in a planned way because there are to many noisy grump retired and soon-to-be-retired people blocking downtown change.  The bad news is that downtown change is going to happen without a plan.

      As for peripheral change… probably not.  And then fiscal change will happen… and not the good type.

      1. hpierce

        About 35 years ago, I learned about Paradise… just outside of Chico… then, mainly retirement folk… never could pass any bond/tax, etc.

        Maybe a number of the posters here are ready to go to Paradise…

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