Council Moves Closer To Putting Nishi on June Ballot

Nishi-Jan-Mtg
Developer Tim Ruff lays out his list of new commitments at the beginning of the discussion

There is a lot of work still to be done between now and February 2, the next city council meeting. It is possible that the council will need beyond that to nail down all of the details on Nishi before deciding whether to put it on the ballot, but on Tuesday, the council laid out a lot what they would like to see, including a significant tightening of the baseline feature language.

Developer Tim Ruff started the night with a comment, “After carefully listening to the community over the past several months I wanted to offer the following discussion.”

First, he said, “Nishi will commit to a LEED-ND [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design–Neighborhood Development] certification process. Step 1 is to determine if the site meets the required LEED prerequisites. Step 2- determine what level LEED certification can be obtained and strive towards the highest level of certification. This will be an ongoing process throughout the development of the project. If for whatever reason the project does not meet the prerequisites for LEED certification we will focus on the SIP [Sustainability Implementation Plan] monitoring and verification tool to insure LEED equivalents. The SIP can also be used as a document to inform the LEED process.”

Second, he said, “Nishi will NOT be requesting a CFD [Community Facilities District] to finance the public improvements.” But, “Nishi will agree to a landscape and lighting district to cover costs associated with maintenance of parks and a ‘make-whole’ provision for transactions involving public entities to insure net fiscal positive.”

Finally, “Nishi will place the FOR SALE condominiums into DJUSD school district CFD #2 which will provide approximately $200,000 annually to the schools. This is in addition to the funds provided through Measure C, Measure E, and CFD #1, and the DJUSD 2000 Bond, which covers all of the land uses on site. These mandatory fees contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars more for our schools.”

Twenty members of the public came forward to speak, the vast majority supportive of the project, though some recommended changes and further work.

Former Councilmember Stephen Souza reads a letter from himself and eight other former Mayors and City Councilmembers
Former Councilmember Stephen Souza reads a letter from himself and eight other former mayors and city councilmembers

Former Councilmember Stephen Souza read a letter on behalf of eight other former mayors and city councilmembers: Maynard Skinner, Mike Corbett, Ruth Asmundson, Bob Black, Joe Krovoza, Debbie Nichols-Poulos, Jerry Adler, Ted Puntillo and Stephen Souza. He told the council, “Each of us believes that the Nishi-Gateway project is a strong and worthy project to bring before the voters.” He pointed out the commitment by the developer to a university access point as well as the willingness to wait for improvements to Richards Boulevard before construction commences.

Former Mayor Ken Wagstaff said that the key to the project getting consensus in the community is the connection to the university. He said, “As a veteran of the war over the four-lane tunnel into Davis which was defeated, I will tell you that the juices of this community will come to full fruition against any project where the voters cannot be sure that there’s an access for motorized vehicles that is locked and, I have to say, built.”

He said that, in order for the community to back this project “we have to show that we’re not going to have any more pressure on the tunnel.”

Former Mayor Ken Wagstaff brings up the history of the Richards Tunnel debate
Former Mayor Ken Wagstaff brings up the history of the Richards Tunnel debate

The council did not take action on Tuesday night, however, primarily Robb Davis and Brett Lee put forward a number of proposals and considerations for the city staff to return to the council on February 2 with more concrete proposals.

Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis proposed a host of changes to the baseline features. “No project until the connection to UCD Campus and the auto bridge across the Putah Creek bike path are constructed.” What’s important, he said, “is we link development of the site to construction of the tunnel.” The second part of that is for “no occupancy until the Richards I-80 interchange improvements are complete.”

The mayor pro tem said that, rather than put a 20 percent increased residential units contingency in the baseline, “we should just go ahead and say up to (780 units) and make that the cap.” He said, “Let’s just say what we want to do and what we’re willing to do.” He said, “I’m personally willing to add in the 20 percent right out of the gate.”

He said, “I want staff to work with the applicant on reducing parking on the site.” He stated, “I think we can reduce parking. I think we can reduce it a lot. I think there’s probably a disagreement about how much.” He sees a “market for people living without cars on this site, especially the rental market.”

Robb Davis said, “I’d like us to get the point where we can reduce parking to the point where we take it all back to the surface parking. No garage.” He believes that will reduce costs to the project like the affordable housing component. That will allow resources to go into other amenities. He believes more surface parking allows for more solar on the site as well.

The downside, he said, “would be the loss of a park.” That means, “the park on the south side would go away.” He said, “This project has always been about tradeoffs.” He sees a concept of a park on the north side of the project. He also cited the close location of the arboretum and even Central Park. So, he said, “I don’t see a need for another park here.”

Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis lays out a long list of considerations
Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis lays out a long list of considerations

Robb Davis supported the recommendation of the Finance and Budget Commission (FBC) to create a lighting district – which is something that the developer has agreed to do. “That alone will take this talismanic figure of $78,000 and turn it positive,” he stated.

He added, “I don’t think we should put a CFD into the baseline agreement, I think it’s an extremely inefficient way of funding – and the developer is not asking for it.”

However, he wanted a commitment in the baseline agreement, “an agreement to pursue LEED certification.” He said we have a month to see how far we can move the ball on this and at the very least he wants to pursue it. “This is about an intentionality of pursuing,” he said. “If we can get to platinum, great. If we can get to gold, great. Let’s put it in there. Let’s make it part of the baseline agreement.”

Lucas Frerichs brought up the need, even without on-site affordable housing requirements, to provide some sort of mechanism to develop affordable housing off-site. “It could be through some amount of dollars contributed to the city’s affordable housing trust fund,” he said.

Robb Davis said he supported some sort of affordable housing in-lieu fee, along the lines of what Councilmember Frerichs laid out.

Mayor Pro Tem Davis said that he wanted to require that the 2-to-1 mitigation cannot be on city-owned property.

Some of the other things that the mayor pro tem laid out was to have the city write an official letter to UC Davis – he later clarified that this would not be a formal requirement in the baseline features – to ask them to provide an undercrossing with access to the site, and perhaps to contribute at least 10 percent to the final cost.

He asked that Nishi be included in the UC car share program.

He also wanted the chair and vice chair of the FBC to meet with both EPS Consulting and the Plescia team next week to better understand the models. He wants to see an update of the EPS report. One thing he noted is that EPS assumed that the entire sales tax would simply go away when it expired, rather than being renewed. He said that’s unrealistic, as he believes the city will keep at least half of that.

He also said that they need to model “the making whole provision on any properties leased by a non-profit or the university.” He said, EPS needs to put that money back in since it’s a commitment Tim Ruff is making.

He thinks these are realistic assumptions and the corrections made to the model, he believes, will push it into the black. “I think what we’re going to see is probably a clear net positive project,” he added.

“The question is why put this on the June ballot?” he asked. “If we can get these things answered I’d be willing to put it on the June ballot.” However, he said, if there are still issues about sustainability and fiscal impact, we are doing a great disservice putting it on the June ballot.

Councilmember Brett Lee discusses his priorities
Councilmember Brett Lee discusses his priorities

Councilmember Brett Lee told his colleagues, “I think it’s important that if we decide to place this on the ballot in terms of the Measure J/R ballot that it’s quite clear what we’re voting on.”

His said, “I think No.1 is the access point to the university – I think that is what allows phase one to occur. If the Richards Blvd. improvements and tight diamond doesn’t occur then there’s no ability for a phase two and no access to Olive. I think it needs to be spelled out in very simple and direct terms.”

He said, “If the university chooses not to allow the access point – that’s between the developer and the university.” Mr. Lee added, “I don’t feel it’s necessary for the city to get involved in lobbying on behalf of the developer.”  He said the concern of the community is if “we leave it a little too weasel-wordy that suddenly the traffic is pouring through on to Olive,” and he said it’s unacceptable to him.

The trigger for phase one is the access to the university and the trigger for phase two is the tight diamond and Richards improvements.

Brett Lee is not in favor of “big A affordability” for this project, stating instead that “affordability would be better served if we control the average size of the units – specifically the for-sale units.” He wants the unit size be clearly specified either in the average or in some sort percentile, so people know exactly what size units will be built.

Councilmember Lee, on air quality issues, stated, “I want there to be a forest buffer between Interstate 80 and the built areas of this parcel.”

Related to traffic, he wants “a hard cap on peak vehicle trips in and out of the parcel. I think that should be in the Measure J/R language.” He said, while he appreciates Robb Davis’ comments on parking, “I think if we control what the general concern is, which is trips in and out of the property, specifically onto Olive, contributing to congestion, if there was a hard cap, I believe the number mentioned was 425 trips per hour, I will leave it to the ingenuity of the developer to figure out the best way to achieve that…”

He mentioned high prices of parking or free memberships to Zipcar as possible solutions.

Brett Lee said that the idea of LEED “is very important” and “we need to commit to a certain LEED level.” The importance of LEED, he said, is that it introduces third-party verification and takes the onus off city staff to make critical determinations. “The nice thing about that is it’s third-party verification and people will have a high level of confidence that they’re evaluated objectively. It takes a little bit out of the concern that (about the cozy relationship between city staff and developer)… it takes that concern off the table.”

He noted that the photovoltaic capacity is quite impressive but he wants the project to spell out what level of Net Zero Energy is attainable.

Finally, he wanted approval of the project to be subject to a certain tax share with the county. He argued this would help the developer at some level, it protects the community against a poorly negotiated agreement with the county, and it puts the county on notice that there is a minimum, and if they get too ambitious then this falls through and they get nothing.

The council had a long discussion about places of consensus on this, but much of this was agreeable to the four members of council present (Rochelle Swanson was home with an illness).

Tim Ruff was concerned about the LEED issue, noting that if the level of LEED is put into the baseline features and they can’t obtain it, they don’t have a project. “I can’t commit to that,” he said. He added, though, “I’d love to get there (to Platinum Certification).” He felt there was too much uncertainty.

Staff will come back for the February 2 meeting and we will see how much progress was made.

—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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51 Comments

  1. Barack Palin

    One thing he noted is that EPS assumed that the entire sales tax would simply go away when it expired rather than was renewed. He said that’s unrealistic, he believes the city will keep at least half of that.

    Temporary tax, pfffft!

      1. Matt Williams

        A well executed fiscal analysis should identify the impact of the four various realistic scenarios.  Renewal of neither of the two portions of the sales tax.  Renewal of each one of the two portions of the sales tax. Renewal of both of the two portions of the sales tax.

  2. Ron

    Robb Davis:

    “No occupancy until the Richards I-80 interchange improvements are complete.”

    How about “no construction” until the Richards I-80 improvements are complete?  That way, we wouldn’t be dependent upon promises after construction has commenced. (Also, wouldn’t construction traffic also affect this interchange?)

    It’s currently projected as a $106,000 deficit (for the base proposal) – not a $78,000 deficit.  (Pleaser refer to the updated EPS report.)

  3. Michael Harrington

    I was glad to hear CC members demanding that critical issues be put into the baseline features, which are enforceable, versus vague promises between the developers and staff “to work out.”

    Also, thank you Robb Davis for the additional focus on the fiscal issues, and the excellent suggestion for involved staff and FBC members meet with the developers and consultants to try and straighten out the fiscal issues.

    I’ve been saying for 15 years that Nishi must not be developed without a full access point to campus under the RR tracks, and with solutions for the traffic impacts at Richards, Olive, and I-80, or shut off Olive to general vehicular traffic and put it all through campus.  Finally seeing some good results in the consensus on the dais last night.

  4. Topcat

    He [Brett Lee] said, “If the university chooses not to allow the access point – that’s between the developer and the university.”

    Do we have any idea of what the University position is on allowing an access point to be built?

  5. Don Shor

    Great work by Robb and Brett in particular; good to see the comments and consensus from the other council members. Looks like staff has a lot of work to do.

    1. Topcat

      Seems to me that this is a good time to fix the old rr tunnel.

      What do you mean by “fix”?  If you see enlarging it to four traffic lanes, that’s not going to happen.

      1. keithvb

        Renovate it. 4 lanes is good. It’s a very unappealing first look at Davis. First time I went through it years ago I wondered why the town hadn’t made it more welcoming…

        1. Jim Frame

          Renovate it. 4 lanes is good.

          The case against widening has long since been made to my satisfaction:  it would do nothing but move the periodic traffic jam half a block further into downtown, and at great expense.  I have little doubt that another effort to widen the subway would meet the same fate as Measure E did last time.

          There’s already a project in process to dress up the existing subway, adding another bike tunnel on the east side and a bike/ped overcrossing on the south side that would improve the appearance in the minds of many.  (Although I like the way it looks now — it’s a classic SPRR subway with a high funk factor.)  That project is stalled for lack of funding, but I expect it’ll move ahead in fits and starts as funding sources are identified.

          Trivia note:  I have a copy of the 1911-ish subway construction plans in my files that I got from SP in the mid-90s when I was working on the city’s acquisition of the Y.

           

        2. Matt Williams

          keith, two thoughts …

          (1) do you believe spending millions of dollars on a change to “the old rr tunnel” would be an efficient and effective use of the City’s scarce resources?

          (2) Expanding the tunnel to four lanes makes no practical sense.  Adding a second southbound lane would have virtually no impact.  From my personal experience, rarely does southbound traffic stop due to a congestion back up in the tunnel.  On the other hand northbound congestion back ups are a regular occurrence.   A second northbound lane could actually improve northbound traffic throughput, with the added lane (to the east of the current lane) being for right turn only in the protected Boy Scout Cabin turn lane.

          What are your thoughts about the above two factors?

           

          1. UnclearColt

            To your 2nd point, the southbound side gets just as backed up every evening as the northbound side does in the mornings.  I used to ride the W Line home from campus in the evening, and it’s taken me over 20 minutes just to go from 1st/B St. to Richards/Olive.  It’s not just the underpass that is the problem though, it’s the ridiculous intersections on both sides as well.

        3. CalAg

          The primary southbound bottleneck during the pm peak is the Olive/Richards intersection. Traffic backs up through the tunnel, the 1st/E intersection, the 1st/D intersection, and sometimes down to B St.

          The problem is the single lane tunnel has to take traffic from three lanes – eastbound 1st, southbound E, and westbound 1st. As a consequence the Olive/Richard intersection fails, traffic backs up, and everyone crawls along generating unnecessary GHG emissions.

          After you get though the Olive/Richards intersection, the traffic jam starts to clear.

          Adding a second southbound lane would have a huge positive impact.

          1. Don Shor

            That would be a complicated and expensive undertaking of marginal benefit to most Davis residents. It’s hard to imagine Davis taxpayers being willing to pay for that, and past votes on widening Richards have been negative.

        4. CalAg

          It’s also worth noting that – according to the Nishi EIR – if the project is built the current level of service of the southbound Olive/Richards intersection during the pm peak will degrade from a LOS of C to a LOS of E. In addition, just south of the intersection at the hotel driveway, the LOS will degrade to F. These service levels assume access to Nishi from both Olive Dr and UCD.

          In my opinion, the reported current LOS of C is an absurd result that calls the study’s methodology into question; and may indicate that the situation is much worse than the traffic study in the EIR suggests.

        5. Matt Williams

          CalAg, given that I have not experienced what you are describing I clearly need to do some homework/observation on site at the right time.

          With that said, I hope you can/will indulge my curiosity for one question.  Your description resonated for me in one respect, specifically that the traffic light at the corner of First and E is challenged because of its complexity.  Eastbound and westbound traffic on First aren’t given simultaneous green lights, which means a full cycle through the three phases is 50% longer than a normal two phase traffic light.  As I read your description I couldn’t help but wonder whether the backups you described on eastbound First Street weren’t predominantly due to that traffic light complexity at First and E rather than the carrying capacity of the tunnel.  I can remember sitting at the light waiting for the signal to change to green, but really can’t remember ever having a problem flowing through the tunnel once I actually got the green light.  What I hear you saying is that you have been in situations when you are between D Street and E Street on First Street, and even though the light was green for you, you were forced to remain in place because the traffic going through the tunnel was at a standstill.  Is that right?

        6. CalAg

          “As I read your description I couldn’t help but wonder whether the backups you described on eastbound First Street weren’t predominantly due to that traffic light complexity at First and E rather than the carrying capacity of the tunnel.” MW

          Nope. I can’t recall ever seeing a back-up that opens up into clear sailing once you turn right at 1st and E.

        7. Frankly

          The case against widening has long since been made to my satisfaction:  it would do nothing but move the periodic traffic jam half a block further into downtown, and at great expense.

          I’m not a traffic engineer, but when you have more lanes on either side of the underpass, I think it is clear that the underpass is the bottleneck.  Going east there are three lane-choices: 1st going west, C street north, and 1st going east.   Going east under the underpass there are two lanes that appear after the Olive Drive light on the freeway overpass that become four at the light at the east-bound freeway on-ramp and then one again but only after the West Chiles Rd. turn.

          With four lanes and timed lights we would have a much smoother flow of cars coming into Davis and going out of Davis.  Two lanes that end up as three turn choices going west on Richards, and cars get on the freeway going east.  We would have few cars backed up spewing carbon into the air.

          You make the case that you like the cars backed up because they don’t clog up the Davis downtown… but that does not make any sense because they do clog up the Davis downtown when leaving Davis.

          I think your issue is more that you like the cars constrained as they are inferior to bikes.  And while those cars are constrained, the bikes are more free to zip around them.

          We were very stupid, IMO, to not take the railroad’s offer back then.

        8. Matt Williams

          CalAg said . . . “Nope. I can’t recall ever seeing a back-up that opens up into clear sailing once you turn right at 1st and E.”

          That’s helpful input CalAg.  I was already committed to getting out and observing that intersection.  Your input gives me even more reason to do so. Thank you.

        9. Jim Frame

          they do clog up the Davis downtown when leaving Davis.

          They wouldn’t if campus traffic was redirected to Old Davis Road.

          I think your issue is more that you like the cars constrained as they are inferior to bikes.

          I think you’re mistaken.

           

  6. Eileen Samitz

    I am really not understanding the rush to get this project on the June 2016 ballot. Why not take the time needed and put it on the Nov. 2016 ballot?

    A major problem which we still don’t know the answer to, is Nishi Gateway’s fiscal analysis. How much new information, analysis, and discussion is two weeks going to produce since this revenue negative situation of Nishi Gateway has been an issue for months?  Let’s recall that the main reason we were even considering Nishi Gateway was to produce revenue, not cost the City.

    I do understand that questions have been asked of the consultants to reevaluate the analysis, but the vast majority of those questions appear to head the project in an even more negative net revenue situation. For instance the sales tax projects have been grossly overestimated as pointed out by Budget and Finance Commissioner Salomon and the property tax revenue has been grossly overestimated due to the inflated property value (per sq. ft.) comps as pointed out by Bob Milbrodt. Also, the parking structure and the Putah Creek bridge had to be added to the fiscal analysis since they were unintentionally left out.

    Beyond this, what is the City getting out of Nishi Gateway? It would produce “up to” 325,000 sq. ft. of Research and Development (R and D), that we can currently fit within our city boarders now on and already zoned for it. This relatively small amount of R and D  is simply “window dressing” for a very high risk project to the City. Also, is there a minimum that it would need to produce ultimately since the R and D component is considered a significant part of producing any revenue?

    The only other thing Nishi Gateway produces is a lot of high density housing that Davis taxpayers are basically subsidizing since our City infrastructure (which we Davis taxpayers are paying for) is being used for UCD housing which should be built on UCD’s land using their waste water treatment and their water on their UCD land. We are currently paying the taxes to expand the wast war treatment plant and for the new water project. We will need these capacities for our next regional fair share housing assignment in six years. Also, we would be paying for the expensive City services such as police and fire when those services would be provided and paid for by UCD on their campus. UCD has 5,000 acres so they have plenty of land. It is one of the largest campuses in the nation.

    We are simply enabling UCD to continue resisting building the on-campus student housing they have promised in their MOU with the City for over two decades if Nishi Gateway goes forward. And this would only be the beginning, since the first wave of additional students is 5,000 by 2020 and the next wave is soon after, since UCD is planning to bring an ADDITIONAL 7,000 by 2030 (as revealed in the Nishi draft EIR). UCD’s negligence in the the production of on-campus student housing is unfair to the students, as well as unfair to our community. The Nishi Gateway project just encourages this situation to continue.

     

     

      1. CalAg

        DP: The LOS on Richards goes to F – even with both UCD and Olive Drive access.

        Here’s a link to the Traffic Element of the EIR –
        http://documents.cityofdavis.org/Media/Default/Documents/PDF/CDD/ED/projects/Innovation-Centers/Nishi/Draft-EIR/4.14-Traffic.pdf

        This is the conclusion of the City’s traffic consultant, which is probably overly optimistic (I know that’s a surprise). Their assessment of the current conditions doesn’t match the reality that is experienced by users of the corridor during the am and pm peaks, so I expect that an independent analysis by a qualified party would show that the situation is materially worse than the City has represented in its environmental documents.

        Nishi has serious political and legal challenges ahead, even if it is advanced to the ballot incorporating all the protections discussed by Lee and Davis.

        It’s got to get past the no-growth block, disenfranchised South Davis voters, and all those people that think that Davis is just fine the way it is. So it’s premature to predict a landslide.

        And assuming it can get past the voters, a competent attorney – should one step up – could delay this for years (and maybe kill it outright). Portions of the technical studies and environmental documents have been cooked to tell a political story, and that’s a big problem if this winds up in court.

        1. Matt Williams

           
          CalAg, as you know from our prior conversations on the access issue, my position on Nishi is no automobile access to West Olive Drive to/from Nishi.  I believe the trips information in Table 4.14-8b of the Traffic Element of the EIR should also be modeled in a scenario that includes trip  levels consistent with Emergency Vehicle and Public Transportation vehicle access only.  If we really wanted to be thorough then a scenario with Delivery Trucks added to Emergency Vehicle and Public Transportation vehicles would be useful as well.
           

        2. CalAg

          MW: Unfortunately, I think that ship has sailed.

          Based on my reading of the Traffic Element, I’m coming to the conclusion that the Nishi project – with both UCD and Olive Drive access – will make a very bad situation on the Richards corridor much worse.

          The mitigation measures that are being discussed (like the parking reduction and peak flow nonsense), are just a smoke screen to confuse the voters into thinking something meaningful is being done. In other words, I agree with you that access should be limited to UCD only. But that’s never going to happen. Even if the developer was willing, I doubt UCD would agree.

        3. Matt Williams

          CalAg said . . . “Unfortunately, I think that ship has sailed. […] I agree with you that access should be limited to UCD only. But that’s never going to happen. Even if the developer was willing, I doubt UCD would agree.”

          I sincerely hope that ship hasn’t sailed.  There are a lot of voters like hpierce and myself whose votes will be “No” if automobile access isn’t limited to UCD only.

          Why do you think UCD would oppose that scenario?

           

    1. Barack Palin

      Where’s the city council’s stated goal of “Revenue generation to support city services throughout the community”?  It seems like they’re jumping through hoops just to try and make it pencil out.  So far I’m not seeing any substantial revenue “margins” (that’s for Matt) that look like the project is going to provide much if any revenue to our city coffers.  We only have a couple of sites in the loop for that promised revenue and it’s looking more and more like we’re going to let one location slip through our hands.

      1. Davis Progressive

        i think the council is being very very conservative on the revenue generation, there are a lot of assumptions pulling the project into the negative that seem too conservative.  robb’s point about assuming the full 1% of the sales tax goes away is a good one.  i’d be shocked if that happened.  i’m not ready to proclaim $2 million like dan carson, particularly without a cfd or a per square footage tax, but it’s a start.

        1. CalAg

          Salomon and Milbrodt know what they are talking about.

          If they say that the fiscal analysis significantly overestimates sales and property tax revenues, then the City should listen very carefully to what they have to say (see my post above re: EIRs and technical analyses that can’t withstand a legal challenge).

          The City should put these two individuals at the table with the financial consultant as well as the Chair and Vice Chair of the F&BC.

        2. Davis Progressive

          “Salomon and Milbrodt know what they are talking about.”

          maybe, but perhaps you don’t recall that when mr. milbrodt was with the assessors office, i’m told that he made some accusations that did not stand up to scrutiny and ended up losing his job because of it.  you can google it and you will find a report from the board of equalization.

          he may or may not be right here, but i don’t think we should simply take his word for it.

        3. CalAg

          “but i don’t think we should simply take his word for it” DP

          That’s why he should be at the table with EPS and the F&BC commissioners. They’re all big boys and won’t get misled if his analysis doesn’t hold water.

  7. Jim Leonard

    Maynard Skinner, Mike Corbett, Ruth Asmundson, Bob Black, Joe Krovoza, Debbie Nichols-Poulos, Jerry Adler, Ted Puntillo and Stephen Souza: why the coalition of Mayors for Nishi. What is the back-door politics that would bring so many of them together? I know a little: Maynard was talking about a Davis population of 125,000 back in the early 1970s; Mike Corbett was a partner in Covell Village and advocated for the growth-positive water treatment plant; Ruth Asmundson–I don’t have a read; Bob Black (is Black back in town; last time I heard, he was living in the Bay Area after spending time in Syskiou County) was for developing the North West quadrant when he was Mayor; Joe Krovoza brought us the growth-positive water treatment plant and he works for U.C. Davis which would be a Nishi project benificiary; Debbie Nichols-Poulos was Mayor during the time Davis was blackmailed by the county into approving the annexation of Mace Ranch; Jerry Adler was on the council during the period where Mace Ranch was approved and Wildhorse was being developed; Ted Puntillo advertised for the Target initiative; Stephen Souza is employed by the developer promoting the Mace Innovation Center and has never been a Mayor of Davis. All of these people have been aggressively pro-growth; the question is, for most of these people, why are they still working to promote growth after so many years out of office and WHO ORGANIZED THEM AS A GROUP?

    1. Davis Progressive

      This isn’t much of a conspiracy.  Stephen Souza went around, drafted the letter, got them to sign on.  The only question is whether Souza is a paid consultant on the project or not.  But frankly, it doesn’t matter.  The key work wasn’t done by that letter, it was done by Davis and Lee.  They saved the project.

  8. Eileen Samitz

    BP: I have the same question about why the City and some Council members, like Robb Davis, are “jumping through hoops” to try to make the project pencil out.  Getting a project to pencil out is the developers job, not the job of City Staff or the City Council. For instance, I was shocked to her Robb suggest eliminating the parking structure and instead pave over the green space so that it would “save the developer money”.

    Seriously? First this does not sound very “green” not very environmentally friendly to add a ton of asphalt over green space, nor very aesthetic design-wise for the project. This recommendation, which Robb brought up more than once, I think was very telling. He certainly is not objective on Nishi Gateway and is clearly driving it, whatever it takes.

     

    [Note: I noticed that I left the letter “l”out of  the word “land” in my last posting in the fourth paragraph, so to clarify it should have read:

    “Beyond this, what is the City getting out of Nishi Gateway? It would produce “up to” 325,000 sq. ft. of Research and Development (R and D), that we can currently fit within our city boarders now on land already zoned for it.”]

     

    1. Davis Progressive

      i think making sure a project pencils out is the responsibility of council.  if robb davis thinks its a good development but-for the fiscal issues, then it seems logical he would make sure the project pencils out.

  9. Eileen Samitz

    Davis Progressive: I agree that it is the City Council’s job to understand if a project pencils out or not, and determine if the City and Davis taxpayers would wind up having to pay any costs incurred on the City. But it is not the City Council’s job to make a project pencil out. That’s the developers job. All the information so far says that Nishi Gateway does not pencil out. I understand more info is to come and the indications so far is that fiscal picture for Nishi Gateway will only get worse.

    Also, what are your thoughts on Robb’s suggestion of eliminating the parking structure and paving over all that green space “to save the developers money”?

    City Council members are supposed to be objective on issues and make informed decisions once they have the needed information. So far, I see Robb has already made up his mind to drive the Nishi Gateway project forward no matter what the consequences of the project. So he is working his way backwards into justifying a “yes” vote on Nishi Gateway no matter what problems it creates for the City.

  10. CalAg

    “Expanding the tunnel to four lanes makes no practical sense.  Adding a second southbound lane would have virtually no impact.  From my personal experience, rarely does southbound traffic stop due to a congestion back up in the tunnel.” @ Matt Williams

    “To your 2nd point, the southbound side gets just as backed up every evening as the northbound side does in the mornings.  I used to ride the W Line home from campus in the evening, and it’s taken me over 20 minutes just to go from 1st/B St. to Richards/Olive.  It’s not just the underpass that is the problem though, it’s the ridiculous intersections on both sides as well.” @ UnclearColt

    My experience is the same as UnclearColt.

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