In Davis, a Runaway Train, a Mad Rush to Ruin

Sterling-Apts-1By Don Sherman

On the periphery of Davis, the public eye is on the Nishi Project and the Mace Ranch Innovation Center. Downtown, residents are debating Trackside.  However, comparatively little attention is being paid to the enormous project proposed by Sterling University Housing for just east of the Davis Post Office at the critical intersection of Fifth Street and Pole Line Road.

The project proposes 244 apartment units, in 4-story and 5-story buildings, supported by 565 automobile parking spaces in a 6-story parking garage … all towering over the adjacent one-story residential Rancho Yolo Senior Community and adding a staff-projected 4,000 automobile trips per day through the 5th and Pole Line intersection.

The project’s mix of studio, 2-bedroom, 4-bedroom and 5-bedroom units are targeted at UCD students, duplicates of what they build all over the country.  The 244 units will have over 800 bedrooms, and each of those bedrooms could house 2 students each.

Regardless of how you might feel about a housing project with 1,500 students, one thing upon which we can all agree is that this is a quality-of-life issue for at least two generations of our citizens. Is it unreasonable to ask, “Can we take just a little time to consider the consequences?”

Unfortunately, rather than taking time for due consideration, this project application has been hurtling through town like an express train at a frantic pace.  The experience of concerned Rancho Yolo seniors tabling at Saturday Farmers Markets reveals most Davis citizens are neither aware of what is proposed nor of the profound effect the project could have on the character of Davis.

With scant notice on Friday evening, January 22, and the weekend intervening, the Davis Social Services Commission (SSC) announced a public meeting for Monday, January 25 to accept public comments and consider an application for a variance from the City’s General Plan and Zoning regulations.

Preparation for this public hearing by Sterling and their lawyers, in concert with City staff began several months ago.  Contrast that to the 72 hours (three days) the public had to read the staff report for the first time, digest its contents, consult with experts, and formulate constructive feedback for the Commission and staff.

At the beginning of the Social Services Commission meeting’s public comments, a neighbor of the proposed project informed the Commission that the short weekend had not provided him or any other Davis citizens with enough time to prepare a well-considered response to the developer application and staff recommendation for granting variances.  He politely requested some time to consult experts and come back better informed. At first the Commission chair, Mr. Wise, seemed empathetic and asked staffer Eric Lee if he could handle a postponement. It appeared the Commission had reached agreement on granting the extra time, but two hours later, the Commission voted 4-1 for approval.

At the Planning Commission’s preliminary hearing in June, one of the Commissioners described the proposed dormitory as “an ugly cracker box.” Those of us interested in the track record of Sterling University Housing and the way citizens feel about the dormitories they leave behind after building in other cities, have taken to heart the words of Ron Goldman, a renowned architect faced with the same developer and a similar project in Santa Monica. Read Mr. Goldman’s published summary in the Santa Monica Daily Press. As Goldman succinctly points out, the lesson in his experience is to carefully and completely consider this careening train, before it’s too late.

What should we consider?

A good place to start is the impact of the staff-projected 4,000 additional trips per day going through the 5th and Pole Line intersection.  Shouldn’t, at a minimum, a traffic engineer’s assessment be reviewed in a public hearing by the Bicycling, Transportation, and Street Safety Commission, and a recommendation by the Commission based on the public hearing then be forwarded to the Planning Commission for their review and consideration?

Second, we wonder why city staff’s reports state the project “site is not immediately adjacent to sensitive uses, such as single-family housing.” Yet, less than 200 feet of this proposed massive project sits the Rancho Yolo Senior Community of 262 single-family homes. One need go no further than the shadow study on the City website (see Video Link) to know that a 6-story building is going to block out the sun for its neighbors to the north.

Third, the project would require a variance based on the proposed housing density of 45 units per acre, which is nearly double the General Plan’s 16.8 to 30 units-per-acre requirement.  Where is the community dialogue about consideration of that density variance?

Fourth, the project proposes 240 apartments, in spite of the city policy specifying that “multi-family housing complexes should be designed, constructed and managed in projects of no more than 150 units.” Revision of the Davis City Plan may require a city-wide ballot measure.

Fifth, the project will add significant added traffic to the 5th Street corridor from east of Pole Line to A Street. A thorough traffic study of that corridor is needed and a public hearing before the Bicycling, Transportation, and Street Safety Commission is also needed, for transparency, for community input, and for a formal recommendation by the Bicycling, Transportation, and Street Safety Commission to the Planning Commission. Adequate time needs to be allowed in the CEQA process from the date of the public hearing until the closing of the CEQA comment period.

The five-stories (plus a sixth for parking) is a mini-city in the making, proposing 843 bedrooms, with nearly 150 of the 270 units having either four-bedroom/four-bath or five-bedroom/five-bath apartments. Clearly, this project is an overly dense student environment that wants to bring as many as 1,500 sardine-packed tenants, to a small 6-acre site.

Interestingly, one of the Social Services Commissioners asked the staff if they knew how UC Davis administration feels:

  • About this dormitory being built at a distance from campus, the other side of Davis,
  • With access over an already crowded route — one car lane each direction from B Street to L Street on Fifth.
  • About 1,500 students and others packed like sardines in a building taller than any existing UCD campus dormitory,,
  • Not to mention sharing these tenements with 40 affordable tenants of low-income apartments?

Astonishingly, the staff’s answer was they did not know.

One of the important concerns expressed by the Commissioners was whether it is good for the children of the 40 low-income families in the to be living and playing with 1,500 college students, sharing the pools, common rooms, and other facilities?

Our takeaway is that this headlong rush into an out-of-proportion and inappropriate intrusion on Davis.  It is a one-sided, non-transparent process,  that is taking a great risk, not nearly outweighed by short-term gain.

The suit salesman may say, “Take it home, wear it for a few days. If you don’t feel like a million bucks, bring it back, and we’ll swap it for another.” Once that first bulldozer or stick of dynamite begins the destruction at 2100 Fifth Street, it’s all in for Davis.

Can’t we at least take a few months to hear the voice of the public before deciding? Why are we in such a hurry? How will we feel if we rush into this before most Davis citizens even know about it? Suddenly, they drive to the Post Office or DMV, and say, “OMG, what the hell is this??”

 

Don Sherman is a Davis citizen and business owner.

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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76 Comments

  1. Biddlin

    “About 1,500 students and others packed like sardines in a building taller than any existing UCD campus dormitory,,”

    “Not to mention sharing these tenements with 40 affordable tenants of low-income apartments?”

    “whether it is good for the children of the 40 low-income families in the to be living and playing with 1,500 college students, sharing the pools, common rooms, and other facilities?”

    “Once that first bulldozer or stick of dynamite begins the destruction at 2100 Fifth Street, it’s all in for Davis.”

    The defense of old Davis begins with the hyperbolic slogan”think of the children” and a stick of dynamite. Roflmao.

    “Can’t we at least take a few months to hear the voice of the public before deciding? Why are we in such a hurry? How will we feel if we rush into this before most Davis citizens even know about it?”

    Are Davisites really that oblivious to their surroundings?

     

  2. Ron

    I agree – this proposed development is too dense/overwhelming.

    I suspect that the (relatively new) existing building could be saved and re-used, but the developer would prefer to maximize profits instead.

  3. Tia Will

    I do not pretend to know whether or not I believe that this project is good or bad over all for our community at this point in time. I lived in similar dormitory like high rise ( 7 stories ) I believe in Isla Vista decades ago and fully concur with  the traffic, congestion, and crowding aspects mentioned by Don Sherman. The major difference was that this complex was located on a major arterial separated by at least two blocks from any adjacent neighborhood and with direct freeway access separate from any non arterial streets.

    What this experience, and my recent experience with the process behind the Trackside project have taught me is that this rushing through of projects is not, or in any event should not be “the Davis Way”. I am hoping that following the successful negotiation over Paso Fino in which a satisfactory if not “win-win” conclusion was reached, we could adopt this kind of collaboration as the model for Davis. I would hope that in the future, all relevant parties could be brought to the table in advance of plan submission. That mutual acceptable plans could be arrived at, then submitted through the appropriate commissions for their input and then, and only then moved forward. This is not to say that a developer or builder whose plans are within zoning specifications and design guidelines cannot build as they wish. But if they are effectively asking for favors in rezoning or exemptions from the city, then they should be honest, transparent and collaborative proactively in getting the input from all the citizens of the city who will be affected.

    I hope to hear more voices favoring collaboration rather than the endless cycles of adversarial conflict that seem to have become “the Davis Way”.

    1. Barack Palin

      I am hoping that following the successful negotiation over Paso Fino in which a satisfactory if not “win-win” conclusion was reached

      Is that settled?  I haven’t heard what the final result ended up being.

      1. hpierce

        From what I’ve heard, one and only one ‘negotiation’ remains… that for compensation to the City for the land transferring to the developer… Dave T mentioned this at a recent CC meeting… apparently, the developer and the City value the land differently…

        1. Barack Palin

          If it’s six that was the best fit for that parcel.  I was thinking it was going to be seven or eight which would also work but be a little crowded.  The original twelve unit plan was way too much of an overbuild.

           

  4. Frankly

    I hope to hear more voices favoring collaboration rather than the endless cycles of adversarial conflict that seem to have become “the Davis Way”.

    I hope to hear more voices favoring getting something substantive done solving our most pressing problems rather than endless cycles of discussion that allows a small minority of opposition to delay and block.

    We should not promote any aspect of the “Davis Way” that is bad for us.

    1. Tia Will

      Frankly

      I hope to hear more voices favoring getting something substantive done solving our most pressing problems rather than endless cycles of discussion that allows a small minority of opposition to delay and block.”

      And I could not agree more. So let’s think about which scenario is more effective and would save more time and allow us to accomplish mutual goals most efficiently and with less animosity.

      1. Our current model of developers who know that they need special exemptions and/or zoning changes just springing their plans on the community out of the blue without adequate time for review hoping that there will not be successful push back from your “small minority” rising up in opposition.  Or….

      2. Developers drawing up a very preliminary proposal for what they would like to see. They sit down with all interested stakeholders including the “small minority” who may perceive themselves as adversely affected as well as city staff and come to some mutually agreeable solution which then passes through the various relevant commissions and on to the CC with much less opposition.  Again, no issue if the developers are within existing recommendations/ guidelines/ zoning. This would only apply where they are essentially asking for community approval of exceptions through our elected representatives.

      I believe scenario #2 to be far superior. I speak only for myself when I say that if such a process were to be consistently enacted, I would have no reason to protest, participate in public comment, table and all of those other activities that you consider obstructionist, and I consider part of my civic responsibility.

        1. Tia Will

          Frankly

          Without developers you get nothing.”

          And where did you see me say anything about eliminating developers ? Obviously they have an integral role to play. They are neither angels nor demons but are promoting their own interests just like everyone else. I just prefer a collaborative rather than an adversarial approach. I believe that I have been consistent on this point. If you don’t, please provide the quote.

      1. Mark West

        “1. Our current model of developers who know that they need special exemptions and/or zoning changes just springing their plans on the community out of the blue without adequate time for review hoping that there will not be successful push back from your “small minority” rising up in opposition.” 

        The current model is not adversarial, in fact, it is designed to be quite collaborative.  The City needs Developers who are willing to take on the financial risk of improving the City through development projects (the City obviously cannot afford to do so directly). The City sets the opening parameters through zoning and design requirements which serve as guidelines for these new projects.  The reality though is that those opening parameters simply cannot foresee every potential project.  The expectation then is that Developers will often come in with project ideas that do not conform to those initial parameters.  When that happens, there is an ongoing negotiation between the City and the Developer in an effort to find a compromise position that benefits both.  Davis citizens are fully represented in these negotiations, first by the City’s professional planning staff, second by the volunteer members of the Planning Commission (and often other Commissions), and finally by our elected representatives on the City Council.

        It would be an exceedingly bad policy for the City to require that Developers also negotiate with any private party or ‘concerned citizen’ who just happens to “perceive themselves as adversely affected.” In fact, it is these so-called ‘concerned citizens’ who have turned what was a collaborative process into the current adversarial mess in town. The problem is not the current model, and it is not the Developers. The problem is the self-important ‘concerned citizens’ who have mucked up the process for everyone, challenging every project and publically questioning the integrity of the Developers. We all have multiple opportunities to voice our ideas and register our complaints about any proposed project. Unless we are the owner of an adjoining parcel, however, we have no rational reason to expect to be a direct party to the negotiations, no matter how much we perceive ourselves to be affected.

         

    2. hpierce

      I think you miss part of the real point… not delay or block, but more of “collaboration, negotiation”, where private parties can either demand their perceived “mitigations”, or get “their piece of the pie”, using political power to coerce the City (and/or the property owner seeking to getting optimal value from their property), to achieve THEIR agenda.

      1. Tia Will

        hpierce

        Your entire comment of 11:22 accurately reflects my view and is exactly why I think a paradigm shift on the process for city planning and land use management in general is due. I would prefer that a very broad, inclusive and evidence based approach to planning become the new norm in place of a process that is thoroughly monetized, politicized and legalized into a mutually adversarial hell such as we have been seeing…..from both sides. Except perhaps from those on both sides who deeply love the city, have no financial stake and simply want the city to be the best it can for all citizens.

  5. Eileen Samitz

    I have criticized this project from the beginning as well as far too big and having more than 1,000 students trying to get back and forth from this site (which is directly adjacent to the Post Office at Pole Line and 5th St.)  to the UCD campus which has terrible bicycle access.

    How are so many students supposed to be going in both directions on one side of the street which is also fenced in and to be shared by pedestrians? It makes no sense.

    Also, if this project was approved this this continues to encourage UCD to continue to defer their housing needs on our community. UCD has not even built what they promised the City since the 1989 MOU with the City of 25% of their student population and 35% of new students. The 2002 UC Housing for the 21st Century document stated that UCD was to have at least 38% on-campus student housing with a goal of 40% by 2012. The University needs to be called on this since it is an integrity issue at this point.

    UCD is simply going to continue this opportunism unless the community pushes back. Their proposal to “explore master leases” for rental housing in Davis even more evidence of their opportunism plans.

    UCD is failing their students and our community by not stepping up and building the on-campus housing for their own students, particularly since they want to accelerate their student population growth. They have 5,000 acres to do it on and folks should please see the UCD LRDP website and take to survey to give your input at campus.tomorrow.ucdavis.edu.

    Also, if you are concerned about this issue please join our group Citizens for Responsible Planning at citizens@dcn.org.

    Also, I have written two op-eds on this subject that were published here on the Vanguard:

    UCD needs to build more housing, NOW  Davis Vanguard Oct. 25, 2015NKS:
    http://www.davisvanguard.org/2015/10/guest-commentary-ucd-needs-to-build-more-student-housing-now/

    Over-densification is not the answer Davis Vanguard Dec. 27, 2015
    http://www.davisvanguard.org/2015/12/over-densification-is-not-the-answer/

    To email the City Council and Staff
    City Council email addresses:
    Mayor Dan Wolk = dwolk@cityofdavis.org
    Mayor Pro tem Robb Davis = rdavis@cityofdavis.org
    Council member Lucas Frerichs  =  lucasf@cityofdavis.org
    Council Member Rochelle Swanson = rswanson@cityofdavis.org
    Council member Brett Lee = blee@cityofdavis.org
    Please also send your email to:
    City Staff:
    Assistant City Manager and Community Development and Sustainability Director =
    Mike Webb = mwebb@cityofdavis.org

    To Email UCD and their UCD LRDP plan which needs to build the on-campus student housing that UCD has stated they would in the 1989 MOU with the City of Davis and the 2002 UC document “UC Housing for the 21st Century” please send your email to:

    UCD administration and UCD LRDP Update website:
    The web address for the UCD LRDP update is:  campustomorrow.ucdavis.edu (Note: see the UCD LRDP proposed UCD map and fill in the survey, let UCD know they need to provide the needed on-campus student housing now.)
    UC President Janet Napolitano   President@ucop.edu and advocacy@ucop.edu
    Chancellor Katehi   http://chancellor.ucdavis.edu/contact.php
    UC Regents   regentsoffice@ucop.edu

    AND your State Government representatives due to UCD wanting more State funding for UC which has NOT been building the PROMISED on-campus student housing:
    Gov. Jerry Brown   http://gov.cagov/gov39mail/mail.php
    Rep. John Garamendi   http://garamendihouse.gov/contact-me
    Sen. Lois Wolk  senator.wolk@senate.ca.gov 
    Assemblyman Bill Dodd   assemblymember.dodd@assembly.ca.gov

    1. Barack Palin

      UCD is simply going to continue this opportunism unless the community pushes back. 

      Exactly, nothing is going to change if UCD keeps seeing us build new complexes.

    2. Don Shor

      (which is directly adjacent to the Post Office at Pole Line and 5th St.)  to the UCD campus which has terrible bicycle access.

      Fifth Street has excellent bicycle access, and is about to be restriped for a full bike lane on both sides at the east end.

      UCD has not even built what they promised the City since the 1989 MOU with the City

      How many rental units have been built in the city limits since the 1989 MOU? What do you consider the city’s share of the rental housing obligation to be?

      1. Tia Will

        Don

        Fifth Street has excellent bicycle access, and is about to be restriped for a full bike lane on both sides at the east end.”

        Agreed as things sit now. Do you believe that this will be adequate mitigation for that number of students ?  I remember the bike ride in to UCSB campus. Around 35 years ago when I lived in the off campus dorm in Isla Vista, I biked to school every day. There was a completely separated two lane bike path that at peak hours became extremely congested. The separation from the roadway provided relative safety for those who road sensibly. I do have serious concerns about putting this volume of students on bikes onto 5th street with no physical car separation, re striped or not.

        Your thoughts ?

        1. South of Davis

          Don mentions hundreds of units in the area and it reminded me to ask if anyone has the URL that lists every apartment in town (I think it was Don that posted it in the last year).

        2. Matt Williams

          Thanks for that link Miwok.  It is interesting to read their current listing statistics, which appear to show a 0.8% vacancy rate if you divide the 36 active listings by the 4162 total listings.

          CHL Statistics
          Here is our current website statistics

          Total Listings: 4162

          Active Listings: 36

          Listings this Month: 49

          Here is a link to the 36, some of which are in Woodland http://chl.ucdavis.edu/search/?keyword=&location=&type=&shared=&min_rent=&max_rent=&bedrooms=&bathrooms=&send=Search

        3. Miwok

          You’re welcome, Matt. These also embrace the common “sublets” legal or not, and “rooms in houses” you never hear about, yet are prevalent in Davis for students.

      2. darelldd

        >> Fifth Street has excellent bicycle access <<

        I may be misunderstanding the meaning of “bicycle access.”

        The bicycle facilities on 5th street vary tremendously. And almost nowhere between the proposed site and UC campus des the bicycle infrastructure even meet our own municipal standards – much less those standards in regions that have genuinely excellent “bicycle access.” Some parts of this road have ignored bicycle commuting entirely (due to be addressed soon as you point out) and other parts do not meet current best practices.

        Before I go on, I guess I need to hear what “bicycle access” means. Because Fifth definitely does not have “excellent bicycle infrastructure” by any metric that I’m knowledgeable of.

        1. darelldd

          Ah. Thanks for the response, Don. Yes, I’m intimately familiar with the 5th Street redesign. Please note that it was not “narrowed for cars in order to create bike lanes” though. The primary driver (hah) for the redesign was to increase safety on this, the most collision and injury-prone corridor in Davis. Adding bike lanes (and pedestrian crossing points) was part of that program, as there was clearly no safe and practical way to ride this section before. The redesign is a reasonably good compromise for traffic modes, but make no mistake – it ended up comprised of standard-width travel lanes, and sub-standard width bike and pedestrian facilities. (The width of the safe refuge islands ended up narrower than designed – and 100% of that extra space ended up in the travel lanes.)

          I am not willing to call the mere existence of bicycle any infrastructure “excellent bicycle access.” Even if it may be adequate for current usage. Adding in thousands of more trips to this section will reveal many of the weaknesses. And I’m all but certain that the east and west extensions will include door-zone bike lanes. Again, a far cry from “excellent.”

          Great graphics btw! It even shows proper cross walks in the positions where we need them, and rarely have them (normally they hit the corners)

          Cheers.

    3. Tia Will

      Eileen

      UCD is simply going to continue this opportunism unless the community pushes back”

      I am very sympathetic with your assessment of this situation. I do not disagree with you at all on this issue. However, my bottom line is different from yours. UC would not be harmed in any significant way even if Davis were to never build another housing complex. They will weigh their financial bottom line in terms of the entirety of their financial/business priorities and make a decision about whether more housing adds or detracts from their bottom line.

      This is not true of the students who are very directly and immediately harmed by the lack of housing. As in almost every endeavor, I favor a collaborative approach. However, collaboration means that the other party has to be willing to enter in to an open, transparent process. It is my belief that the UCD has proven itself unwilling to do so. I do not believe that the city has the capacity to force them into collaboration.

      I cannot condone deliberately harming the current and incoming students any more than I believe in defunding our schools because of disagreement with school board policy. The collateral damage is just too high.

  6. Eileen Samitz

    Don,

    I can’t say how many rental units have been built but we have well over 10,000 at this point. And plenty of them were built since 1989. South Davis had a number of them built, the big apartment complexes off of Mace near second street,

    The City has no obligation, nor should it to provide UCD student housing. I certainly don’t object to the City providing some of the student housing, but not the disproportionate amount that UCD has hoisted on the City for so long.  It is inexcusable that UCD has dragged its heels on building the promised student housing on-campus when they have over 5,000 acres. This is particularly egregious when they has so many new buildings being constructed on campus including a music center and an art center. All they have done is renovate some one year freshmen dorms to secure the students that they admit for one year. These dorms were so outdated and non-compliant to code that they had to renovate them, so they expanded them to some extent in the process.

    UCD’s negligence is a disgrace to the students whom they are failing to provide on-campus housing for and they are causing major negative impacts on our City planning. They force the students out of freshman dorms after a year and make them fend for themselves to find housing elsewhere. This winds up wiping out our rental housing supply.

    Enabling UCD now with this deluge of student apartments proposed in the City, using our infrastructure of water and wastewater treatment and City services is not fair to Davis taxpayers nor to local workers who can not find a place to live in Davis.

    UCD has admitted that they can not even house just the new students they are recruiting. And this is JUST the beginning. At least 12, 000 more students will be added to UCD by 2030. If our community does not object now, UCD will just keep deferring their enormous housing needs on the City, and we are paying for financially,and in the impacts of traffic, circulation, parking as well as no rental housing available for our local workers.

    This is why I started the citizens group to mobilize our community to push back on UCD’s continued opportunistic behavior which is ruining our community and neglecting their responsibility to their own students.

  7. Eileen Samitz

    Tia,

    I appreciate what we do agree on, but please do not infer that I am trying to do harm to the students. Quite the contrary I am advocating for their benefit as well because they are victims as well as our community in this situation that UCD has caused. The University is failing their students as well as our community by not providing the promised on-campus housing, causing their own students to struggle to find rental housing. Also, this would greatly reduce the environmental impacts if UCD would simply build the needed on-campus student apartments. They have over 5,000 acres and there is no excuse for this situation to have arisen.

    Furthermore, it is not fair that the costs for all of this rental housing is being hoisted upon our Davis taxpayers to use our infrastructure to support it. Particularity water and waste water treatment which Davis residents are now paying or to expand. Why should our community keep subsidizing UCD with building housing for it when they are taking complete advantage of us? Also, why should we allow this to continue?

    And we are no long talking about one more apartment complex. There is Nishi Gateway (which is a housing complex with a small innovation component which is simply window dressing), Sterling Apartments, Trackside, and now the West Olive Drive newly proposed student housing complex. And then Mace proposing 850 apartments too (which is a terrible idea and clearly a bait-and switch attempt). There is clearly a cumulative effect.

    And UCD meanwhile has closed Orchard Park, will close Solano Park and is deficient on building the 1,000 additional student beds promised at West Village (only 2,000 were built). So UCD actually is providing less housing and yet complaining about a low vacancy rate in the City which THEY are responsible for.

    It is UCD who doing harm to our community and their own students with their negligence. I am rather surprised that I have not heard you acknowledge this.

    1. Tia Will

      Eileen

      please do not infer that I am trying to do harm to the students.”

      I certainly make no such inference. I know that neither of us intends any harm to the students. However, in my mind, once one knows that harm is occurring, whether intentional or not, one has the personal and community obligation to attempt to minimize that harm if possible.

      It is UCD who doing harm to our community and their own students with their negligence. I am rather surprised that I have not heard you acknowledge this.”

      I fully acknowledge this. I know that the university has not and probably will not fulfill it’s obligation to the students. The fact that the city is effectively unable to bring pressure on the university to correct what I see as UCD’s egregious intransigence on this issue cannot be used as an excuse for the city also inflicting damage on this same group. Although this harm is neither intentional or desired on your part, or mine, or that of the city, it is the inevitable outcome and it is this mitigation that is our responsibility.

    2. hpierce

      Key words, in my opinion Eileen, “are  (not) trying to do harm to the students”… given my past interactions with you, I know that is  true statement.  I’ve never detected animosity in you… however, without discussing the merits/negatives of this particular project, the apparent fact is that if UCD doesn’t “come to the plate”, and if the City does nothing, it will be the student population will, indeed, be ‘harmed’.

      The City has no POWER over UCD… there is a ‘crying’ need for housing, student and others… something about changes we can make, changes we can’t, and the wisdom is knowing (and acting on) the difference…

       

    3. Miwok

      So UCD actually is providing less housing and yet complaining about a low vacancy rate in the City which THEY are responsible for.

      If they are complaining, they are gleefully crowing about the increased income to the community they have caused, and the increased tuition they get from the foreign students they have coming here, and these people are buying homes in the nearby areas.

      Welcome to the Big Time, Davis. Your disjointed efforts we find are just a disguise for the real goal.

      With scant notice on Friday evening, January 22, and the weekend intervening, the Davis Social Services Commission (SSC) announced a public meeting for Monday, January 25 to accept public comments and consider an application for a variance from the City’s General Plan and Zoning regulations.

      Why would a “Social Services Committee” have to approve an application for Variance? I would seek to find out who has been accepting campaign donations from this company?

  8. WesC

    “One of the important concerns expressed by the Commissioners was whether it is good for the children of the 40 low-income families in the to be living and playing with 1,500 college students, sharing the pools, common rooms, and other facilities?”
     
     
    This is exactly what I would want if I were a low income parent with children. Low income parents probably do not have much first hand experience with college life. As a low income parent I would want my children interacting daily with neighbors who might become role models for my children and who could talk with them about why they think college will improve their prospects in life, what its like to be in college, how to get in, how to pay for it, what they hope to do when they graduate, and maybe be a little idealistic about changing world for the better. Does anyone think living in a big low income housing project would be a more positive environment for their children? Would anyone rather have as potential neighbor role models someone who has a combination of didn’t even finish high school, got pregnant when they were 15 and at 22 have 3 children by 3 different absentee fathers, been incarcerated, are an active gang member, have significant alcohol/drug problems, and only seem to be interested in keeping their nose in the public trough for as long as possible.

    1. Miwok

      What you end up with is some Section 8 mothers with drug dealer boyfriends who service the Student Population, just like the local “affordable” housing does now.

    2. Tia Will

      WesC

      What a wonderfully refreshing perspective. It brings to mind something that happened when I was about 16. My mother and I living on social security and her busing job at a local cafeteria lived in a poor area of Long Beach. Across the street from us was a group of college students living in a house converted into a dorm like living arrangement. One of the young men made the acquaintance of my mother and gave her advice about options for college for me, how to apply, how to access counseling and the like since she had not graduated high school and was basically clueless. Although I only spoke with him a couple of times, he was inspiring just through his message that I could succeed and that he had talked with my mom ( I was painfully shy at the time and so barely communicative myself.) In very small way, he changed my life just by encouraging me and giving a few pointers.

  9. Tia Will

    Don

    There are already hundreds of apartments in the vicinity of the Sterling Apts. proposal.”

    I am sorry. I honestly do not understand your response. Having lived in this area for 5 years now, I am keenly aware of the prevalence of student majority apartments. My question is what evidence do you have, if any, that adding this magnitude more students to this already impacted corridor will proof safe even with the proposed re-striping.

    1. Don Shor

      My point is that it is not an increase in the number of apartments of sufficient magnitude to cause all of this sudden concern about the safety of bicyclists living there and commuting to UCD. I count 670 apartment units between Poleline and Mace, and another 140 just on the west side of Poleline. This project will increase the numbers. I do not know how to “prove” it “safe.” Nobody can state that the street is already impacted in any meaningful sense. Fifth Street is a wide street that accommodates a high volume of traffic. At our end, where my business is, traffic moves quite freely. Traffic is traffic. I think this is a made-up concern.
      I suppose you could ask for accident statistics, if that is what you mean. But before we get into a debate about the impact, I’d need to know what you and others mean by ‘impacted’ or how you would measure any adverse effects.

      1. hpierce

        sorry to go ‘linguistics’ (but want to beat ddarrell to it!), in talking about “accidents”, they usually aren’t… in a vast majority of “collisions”, stupidity, inattention, drugs/alcohol and other “impairments”, are the PCF’s (Primary Collision Factors)… sometimes by one party, sometimes by more than one…

        Volumes of traffic, any source, are very rarely PCF’s… almost none…

        1. Don Shor

          Well, yes, but if you want to get the information from the police department, you’re going to request accident report data, as in this from their website:

          If you wish to submit a late reported non-injury traffic accident, please call 530-747-5400 to request an accident form, or download the accident form: Police Forms

        2. hpierce

          Good advice Don, but at least until recently, or even now, I think you’d get “summaries”, with most of the details heavily redacted… I’ve been in positions where I could see the entire report…

        3. hpierce

          Re-reading…Don, you cited a location to REPORT crashes/collisions, not INVESTIGATING them… huge difference… I trust e-mail/phone/other accounts of crashes much less than those where an officer was “on the scene” to view and make judgments…

        4. darelldd

          >> My point was that ‘accident’ is the term the police dept uses. <<

          Yes, they sometimes do still use “accident” – on legacy documents and department names. But almost all modern communications avoid it on purpose. Even if somebody else DOES use the wrong term… don’t jump off the bridge with them, please!

          As an aside: I watched a movie last night that put this absurd “accident” concept right over the top for me. One of the characters said, “That car accident was no accident.”  It was not a humorous moment. I’m certain that it was supposed to read, “That car crash was no accident!”

          (thanks for being on it, hpierce!)

  10. Tia Will

    Miwok

    What you end up with is some Section 8 mothers with drug dealer boyfriends”

    It saddens me that you do not seem to be able to see that not all individuals who are very, very poor end up dead ended as “Section 8 mothers with drug dealer boyfriends”. While I agree that I made a very poor choice of life partner during my marriage, he and I are both physicians. In all groups there are ethical upstanding individuals who strive hard for themselves and their children. And in all groups, there are real scum. Enough said by me.

  11. Tia Will

    Don

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. Your perspective and mine are quite different on the issue of safety along this corridor. While I realize that their is not much traffic flow problem on your end of 5th, this has not been my experience along other parts. The first two years that I lived in Davis was in a predominantly student apartment building near 5th and I. Navigating 5th to campus was a crap shoot at the time and many of us diverted through the less congested ( at that time) routes through town on 3rd or 4th, obviously not ideal either. My next experiences with 5th on a regular basis about 15 years later when I would cross town in the north south direction from my home in  North Star to the south Davis Kaiser MOB. I watched many near misses of bike vs bike and bike vs car on 5th.  My last car accident occurred about ten years ago on 5th and D when the women behind me rear ended me when she did not realize that I was braking for a pedestrian attempting a crossing at the corner. Now I have a different perspective on the safety of the portion of 5th between L and the campus as I frequently walk there. In my purely subjective observations the areas that have been upgraded do appear to be safer, but I still see dangerous driving and near misses especially around dusk into dark.

    Anecdote is of course, just that. I do believe that comparative accident stats would be useful. At this point in time I remain skeptical, based on personal experience and observation that this kinds of striping upgrades provide sufficient safety at the anticipated volume of students.

      1. Tia Will

        Don

        “”Does if provide sufficient safety at the current volume of students?”

        I have no idea since I doubt we have a working definition of “sufficient safety”, even though I am the one that introduced the term into the discussion. What I am about is risk reduction. You hare read enough of my posts to know that this is true. I already stated that I do not know whether or not I thought this is good site. I do not have enough information to arrive at a conclusion. You made the assertion that you thought it was a good site. I see potential challenges with traffic and safety based on past experience and observation. What I would see as safest would be a physically separated bike path. How ?  I don’t know. I don’t do road or  bike safety professionally. But two things that I do know. Pedestrian’s,.  bikes, and cars can be a dangerous mix. The risk increases as the volume increases other factors remaining the same.

        As for other sites. I tend to feel that the closer to the university, the better. I am currently cautiously favoring Nishi and just recently found out about the Olive Drive proposal so will be paying attention to that. The latter also has obvious traffic and safety issues as it exists at present and I have no idea what impact there would be from the planned changes near that site.

        These are questions Don, not opposition.

  12. Eileen Samitz

    Don,

    Are you saying that 5th Street is going to narrow down to one car lane at the east end on the north and south side? If so, this is going to be one enormous traffic jam daily also.

        1. Ron

          The effect of 565 parking spaces, and staff-projected 4,000 additional trips per day (going through the 5th and Pole Line intersection) does not sound like “hyperbole”, to me.  This would also affect anyone accessing the entrance/driveway to the adjacent post office.

  13. Eileen Samitz

    The City has no POWER over UCD…

    Please understand also that UCD has NO power over our City. It is only if we as community members become enablers that allow the UCD opportunism to continue, which in turn causes harm to their own UCD students, and our community.

    UCD’s negligence in providing their promised on-campus housing and their lack of integrity really needs to be addressed now. Otherwise our community, and the UCD students will continue to suffer.

  14. Eileen Samitz

    Don,

    I am sorry, but 5th street is jammed with traffic during the morning and evening rush hours which goes for quite a while. Also, traffic moves very fast on this road all the time, so jamming it up with more than 1,000 more bicycles just invites bicycle versus car accidents. Why would we put all of these students in harms way?

    1. Don Shor

      I seriously do not believe you have expertise on this subject. And bear in mind that I drive on Fifth Street six to seven days a week, during the “morning and evening rush hours,” and have for 35 years. I completely disagree with your assertions here. I am open to evidence from any traffic engineers, but IMO this is a false issue.

      1. Mark West

        I agree with Don.  We just spent a pretty penny to make 5th Street safer for bicycles, and while there have been some backups through the downtown, they are generally minor. It is doubtful most of those bikes will use 5th Street anyway, as 3rd Street has better access to the campus. Eileen is metaphorically just throwing everything she can think of at the wall hoping that something sticks.

        Sterling will be a great addition to the City and should be approved without delay.

        1. Alan Miller

          It is doubtful most of those bikes will use 5th Street anyway, as 3rd Street has better access to the campus.

          Do you actually RIDE a bike?  3rd Street has sucked balls for bicycles since the City’s “every downtown intersection a four-way stop” policy a few years ago (which only Krovoza opposed).  5th Street to B or A is a far faster option now — now that Fifth Street isn’t a bicycle meat grinder anymore.

        2. Mark West

          “Do you actually RIDE a bike?”

          Yes, frequently.

          “3rd Street has sucked balls for bicycles since the City’s “every downtown intersection a four-way stop” policy a few years ago”

          So I guess those aren’t bicycles I see blowing through stop signs on 3rd Street every day.  My mistake.

          The real point Alan is that all of those bicycles riders from Sterling will not be stuck on 5th, but will have options. Eileen’s ‘fears’ have no justification.

           

        3. darelldd

          >>  We just spent a pretty penny to make 5th Street safer for bicycles <<

          More accurately, we made it accessible to bicycles.

          And we wasted almost as much of that pretty money as we spent prudently on the corridor. The money was spent with the intention to increase transportation safety, not just bike safety.

  15. Jim Leonard

    Naomi Klein wrote a book called “The Shock Doctrine” within which she showed how stunning people leaves them vulnerable to whatever demands exploiters want to require. We in Davis are experiencing destabilization after  destabilization with little room to adapt before the next destabilization appears. Thus we must cope with Trackside, Sterling, Nishi, Mace Ranch Innovation Park, major changes in the downtown, all at the same time. We’re stunned but not only stunned but manipulated. We’re told City Hall has “experts” to deal with the crisis which City Hall has either created (where did the idea of an “innovation officer” come from?) or allowed to happen (where did the unchallenged rental housing crisis come from?); City Hall is giving us placebo after placebo (“Cool Davis” or the “Bicycle Museum” are examples) to mollify and put to sleep otherwise engaged community members. City Hall is disabling our minds and thus our behaviors as we naively assume the good will of city council people and staff.

    Sterling Development needs to be challenged but more than that it should be used by citizens as a tool for developing their capacity to remain flexible instead of going into shock. We’ve played the roll of naive fools long enough. Instead City Hall should be called to account, stripped of its ability to use P.R. and political strategies on the citizens City Hall is supposed to serve.

    1. Frankly

      Jim – Interesting thoughts.

      Virginia Postrel also wrote a book “The Future and its Enemies: The Growing Conflict Over Creativity, Enterprise, and Progress” and established a theory of:

      growing conflict in post-Cold War society between “dynamism” – marked by constant change, creativity and exploration in the pursuit of progress – and “stasism”, where progress is controlled by careful and cautious planning.

      Postrel explains the differences between the two, and argues that dynamism should be embraced rather than feared.

      She also covers the point that as we age we become more attracted to stasims and made more nervous by dynamism.  That makes sense from a rational perspective of having fewer years left to adjust and thus being less accepting of the risks inherent in change.

      I see Davis struggling because UCD is a world-class engine of dynamism while our core population is growing older and more resistant to change.

      The question is “who wins?”

      1. Tia Will

        Frankly

        growing conflict in post-Cold War society between “dynamism” – marked by constant change, creativity and exploration in the pursuit of progress – and “stasism”, where progress is controlled by careful and cautious planning.”

        Interesting that you should bring up the issue of dynamism vs stasism in this context. One certainly might frame the issue exclusively this way if one uses “pursuit of progress” as synonymous with “pursuit of financial gain”. I do not view societal progress in this way. I view it much more holistically.

        I believe that embracing change and the future should include rapidly adopting more environmentally friendly means of energy production, measures to improve the health and safety of our communities including all of our citizens. If that means making bold changes in how we manage and distribute wealth, in how we provide care as well as protection to our citizens, if that means moving to more democratic and less oligarchic means of governance, if that means more individual choice for all citizens in terms of medical care options, religious preferences, free speech, then I say, bring on the dynamism.  But I do not believe that an adherence to the status quo defined as defending obviously environmentally damaging technologies because they are widespread, or dictating to given classes of people who they can be married to, or what jobs they can hold,  or what legal medical procedures they can obtain represents dynamism, but is actually a form of stasism at its worst.

        I also do not believe that careful and cautious planning is  necessarily a negative. Are you not cautious when reviewing a contract ?  Do you not want me to be cautions when planning and performing your surgery ? There is a fine line between “bold” and “reckless” just as their is a fine line between “cautious” and “obstructionist”.

        Also, I do not see these two concepts as in opposition. One can be careful and cautions in the planning stages ( as I believe one should be) and then be bold in implementation. They are not mutually exclusive.

  16. Tia Will

     We just spent a pretty penny to make 5th Street safer for bicycles,”

    Yes, and from my point of view it improved the safety along the corridor. The question for me is, will it still serve the the anticipated increased volume which did not exist at the time of implementation of the existing conformation ?  I don’t know the answer, but I think it is fair that the question be raised just as we would any safety concern.

    Alternative paths onto campus used to be good choice as I mentioned earlier from direct experience. Alan is correct that there is no longer an efficient alternative through downtown. That may also change in the future depending on NIshi and mitigation thereof….but obviously that is an uncertainty.

    I know that Eileen stands in opposition to the project. I know that Mark and Don are in favor. This is exactly why I would favor moving from our current mode of thinking about development  in terms of winners and losers and start thinking about edging away from our entrenched positions which we inhabit reflexively at the mention of any project at all, and think about how we can move forward based on facts ( like those from traffic engineers) prior to solidifying our positions.

    I know, I know…..Good luck with that !

  17. Eileen Samitz

    Mark,

    Nice try but anything I raise is a genuine concern. It seems clear to me that you are  in support of any kind of growth no matter how bad the project is, no matter what neighborhoods are impacted, and no matter what the consequences to our community. So let’s just say we have to agree to disagree.

    1. Don Shor

      Unfortunately, Eileen, you have made assertions without evidence, indicating a pre-formed opinion about the effects of the project. There is no reason to believe that the traffic increase would be serious or cause safety issues. As I said, a traffic engineer could address the subject. But you’ve already made your mind up about the traffic problems that you believe it will create.

      Here’s the city’s current apartment map. Adding these units, as you can see, would not make the end of Fifth Street any more dense than other parts of town. Nor would these units be any further from campus than many students and employees already live. This is not going to be a unique traffic situation. So you are using an argument against the project that is simply an appeal to emotion, and are not providing evidence to support your view.

      Mark has generally been pro development; so far as I know you have generally been opposed to development. As far as I can remember, the only development you’ve publicly supported has been The Cannery. And there are clear impacts from NOT developing rental housing, impacts that are felt by young adults every day. 5% rent increases. 0.2% vacancy. Thousands of people commuting in to UCD every day (which streets and neighborhoods are those people impacting?).

      You actually seem to have a very narrow view of what ‘impact’ means with respect to the current housing crisis in the city.
      We are in full agreement about the need for more on-campus housing, and the need for the city and UCD to plan together. But a complete moratorium on rental housing construction — which is what you seem to be advocating — until UCD builds will continue to harm young adults who live and work in our city.
      http://davismerchants.org/vanguard/davisapartmentmap.png
      http://davismerchants.org/vanguard/davisapartmentmap.png

      1. Mark West

        “Mark has generally been pro development”

        As is often the case, this generalization is too simplistic.  I advocate in favor of developments that address our critical needs. At present, that means space for business and job creation, increased retail options, and high-density, multifamily housing. I also advocate for developments that are planned for the long-term, and not simply what is politically expedient at the moment.

        I highly value farmland, so when we need to expand on the periphery, we should do so at the highest density possible. The same is true for infill projects. We cannot continue with the low-density approach that defines the history of Davis. Those who are fighting to ‘keep Davis (or their own neighborhood) just as it is,’ are really fighting in favor of the poor land use decisions of the past. In my opinion, that is something that is completely inappropriate for our future.

         

         

         

    2. Mark West

      Eileen Samitz: “Nice try but anything I raise is a genuine concern”

      I think you have demonstrated a lack of ability to prioritize or differentiate, between the degree of importance of your ‘concerns.’ As a consequence, it is easy to dismiss you as an obstructionist. I listen and learn from your serious concerns, the obviously trivial ones, however, are a discredit to both you and the community.

  18. Eileen Samitz

    Don,

    This is not about making the east end of 5th St., as dense in housing as other parts of town. It’s abut can this site handle this traffic given that 5th St. is a major arterial narrowing down to 2, rather than 3-4 lanes. Also, the Sterling project is almost adjacent to the Pole Line over crossing and 5th St.. This area is already impacted with traffic enormously. So it is not like “other parts of town”.

    Also, I supported not only Cannery, but the original Wildhorse development (not the subsequent Wildhorse Ranch proposal). This was before Measure J and as a neighborhood representative,when all we could do then was to hope to negotiate for a better project. As it turned out, it was me who proposed and fought for the conservation easement on the golf course, which I am glad to say we got. So this is was the extent of we could do back then. We can do better now to negotiate for better projects, thanks to Measure J, which I helped organize.  I also helped organize and run the Yes on Measure R campaign to renew  Measure J. I’ve worked on may progressive campaigns including Measure O, but I don’t think it I need to get into all of that. I am for good planning is the bottom line. Not projects that will hurt more than help Davis.

    I am glad that we at least agree on the  UCD LRDP needing to provide MUCH more on-campus student housing. We just don’t agree on continuing to allow UCD to defer so much of its student housing on the City. This UCD opportunistic situation towards our community just perpetuates the problem of the impacts on the City and the lack of availability of rental housing in the City.

  19. Eileen Samitz

    Don,

    This is not about making the east end of 5th St. as dense in housing as other parts of town. It’s about can this site handle this traffic given that 5th St. is a major arterial narrowing down to 2, rather than 3-4 lanes. Also, the Sterling project is almost adjacent to the Pole Line over crossing and 5th St.. This area is already impacted with traffic enormously. So it is not like “other parts of town”.

    Also, I supported not only Cannery, but the original Wildhorse development (not the subsequent Wildhorse Ranch proposal). This was before Measure J and as a neighborhood representative,when all we could do then was to hope to negotiate for a better project. As it turned out, it was me who proposed and fought for the conservation easement on the golf course, which I am glad to say we got. So this is was the extent of we could do back then. We can do better now to negotiate for better projects, thanks to Measure J, which I helped organize.  I also helped organize and run the Yes on Measure R campaign to renew  Measure J. I’ve worked on many progressive campaigns including Measure O, but I don’t think it I need to get into all of that. I am for good planning is the bottom line. Not projects that will hurt more than help Davis.

    I am glad that we at least agree on the  UCD LRDP needing to provide MUCH more on-campus student housing. We just don’t agree on continuing to allow UCD to defer so much of its student housing on the City. This UCD opportunistic situation towards our community just perpetuates the problem of the impacts on the City and the lack of availability of rental housing in the City.

  20. Tia Will

    Don and Eileen,

    There is no reason to believe that the traffic increase would be serious or cause safety issues. As I said, a traffic engineer could address the subject.”

    First my thanks to both of you for the very hard work and time that you both put in to analysis of projects in our community. I honestly do not know how either of you finds the time and you certainly have my respect.

    I think that unfortunately both those who have made up their minds both pro and con this project are falling into the same trap of entrenching prior to actual knowledge of the facts. I think that the statement “there is no reason to believe” is dismissive of even the question of safety and is as potentially erroneous as would be an assertion that there is clear evidence of danger.

    My point is that I agree that a traffic engineer’s input is needed and until then, the back and forth is essentially “he says/she says”.

     

    1. hpierce

      Somebody who is registered as a Traffic Engineer, or someone who is licensed to do traffic engineering, as a Civil Engineer, as long as it within their knowledge/expertise of traffic engineering?

      [Traffic Engineers cannot perform Civil Engineering, but Civil Engineers are entitled to do Traffic Engineering, if within their professional background/knowledge/training… one of those “all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are square” things…]

  21. Tia Will

    hpierce

    Somebody who is registered as a Traffic Engineer, or someone who is licensed to do traffic engineering, as a Civil Engineer, as long as it within their knowledge/expertise of traffic engineering?”

    I don’t know but believe that it is a fair question. You are much more knowledgeable in this area than I am. What would be your recommendation ?

     

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