My View: FBC’s $1.4 Million Is a Dartboard Number


Interior View of Nishi

A few weeks ago the Finance and Budget Commission had some concerns about the fiscal analysis of Nishi. To their credit, the developers went back to the drawing board with the city and looked into ways to shore up the finances. So now, instead of a $106,000 deficit, the project has about a $1.4 million surplus.

The problem that we face is that putting a single number on a fiscal analysis is not an accurate way of doing it. The Vanguard asked for and received a spreadsheet analysis as to how these numbers were derived, and the FBC seems to have simply picked the one it liked best and voted to support it.

The problem with that approach is that everything from property taxes to various fees are projection – at buildout, with various assumptions. But the projections, if we were dealing in the real world, would be a range with standard errors and confidence intervals.

The FBC vote decided that the correct number was $1.4 million (which is actually $1.389 million rounded up). How do they get there? The city assumes about $1.07 million general fund revenues, plus another $168,000 in non-general fund revenues, and the key is the $760,000 in development agreement revenues.

The city’s projections for the general fund revenues range from between $891,000 and $1.07 million. The key difference between the two are on two line items – property taxes which would vary between $118,000 and $227,000 and sales taxes which range from $88,000 to $165,000. Everything else seems locked into place.

The non-general fund revenues are locked in, as well.

Meanwhile, the development agreement revenues include: $181,000 for Parks and Open Space. There is the $356,000 for Community Services District revenues (remember in the staff report, however, it’s not clear that that is a constant). There is the $93,000 in the make-whole provisions.

The one thing in question is the Measure O sales tax revenue. If it is not extended, obviously that revenue is zero. But odds are that we will at least extend the 2004 portion of that, generating $121,000. Then there is a scenario where both are extended for the full $242,000. The $1.4 million scenario assumes only one is renewed – I think it is more likely that both are, because I don’t see how the city is going to be able to function without the full sales tax renewal.

The big point of dispute on the commission was actually on the expenditure side, and it had to do with increased fire and police expenditures. The city budgeted in a $312,000 increase in fire and $530,000 in police.

Ray Salomon pushed for the substitute motion to reduce the expected revenue to $700,000 from $1.4 million. Dan Carson, however, I think is right in this case. He proposed reducing the marginal cost of fire and police protection from $842,000 down to $108,000. The city budget is suggesting that the 47 additional acres of Nishi are going to require, in effect, two additional firefighters and 3.5 FTE of additional police officers.

I have seen some of the critics of Nishi jump onboard this number and argue it is more realistic, as that is what police and fire are asking for, but I have to say this is nonsense. On the fire side, Nishi is right down the street literally from the UC Davis Fire Department and, with boundary drop, they can easily and quickly respond to a call. Nishi is not going to require us to hire any additional firefighters.

On the police side, it clearly will add to the city police’s service area, and it might trigger additional calls for service. On the other hand, we are already operating the police, down five officers – five officers whose costs are already figured into the city budget.

The bottom line, I just don’t see how this small development triggers the need for two firefighters and 3.5 police officers. So I think the $108,000 is far more realistic.

By their numbers then, I would support a $1.5 million revenue projection. But that only goes so far.

But I see a potential pitfall here. Talking to a number of experts here in town, there seems to be a very real concern that the housing aspect of Nishi could be built, but without an identified anchor-tenant, the commercial space, especially the R&D, is more problematic.

We have a phasing requirement for housing triggered both by the second crossing to UC Davis as well as the upgrades to Richards Boulevard. But there is no provision that requires the developer to build the R&D – ever. Some people I talked to – all of them supporters of the project – believe that there is real possibility that the commercial is never built.

One person I talked to said there is clear interest in the site for R&D and companies to come in. After all, it is close to the university and the university is pumping out tech transfer companies. But they acknowledge that commercial demand is far less predictable than housing.

So the obvious question – at least for me – is what happens to the revenue that is projected if the R&D component, projected at 325,000 square feet, is not built?

I couldn’t get a good answer to that. The FBC projections that I see do not seem to take much of the R&D budget into account as it is. As I noted above, there is only a slight difference in property tax and sales and use taxes in the FBC scenario versus the worst case scenario. We’re talking maybe $200,000 a year. (The worst case scenario, according to one member of the commission, takes into account Bob Milbrodt’s assessment issue and substantial sales tax reductions).

There seems to be no real analysis here as to what happens if the R&D simply doesn’t get built.

I asked Katherine Hess. She responded, “Hypothetically, there would be less property tax and less sales tax from the businesses and the employees. We would also have lower service costs, of course.”

She added, “In reality, though, the combination of freeway visibility, proximity to campus and downtown, permit-ready parcels, the synergies of a mixed use innovation district, and property owners with no incentive to sit on the land should mean a strong demand for the office/R&D to get built.”

But the problem is that I have the city telling me that the no commercial buildout scenario is unlikely, but also have people in the field and others telling me that it is a real possibility because commercial is not predictable.

If we are looking at the FBC numbers, the no commercial possibility doesn’t seem to play a huge impact in its projected revenue.

One reason for that might be that they really aren’t projecting the commercial revenue along with the enhanced property tax value into their model. After all, if Nishi is really going to generate “between $315 to $385 million in annual economic activity, $89 to $107 million in annual wages, and 1,500 to 1,800 permanent jobs,” as the developers are touting, then the city is going to get a lot more than a few hundred thousand in sales and property tax revenues from it.

I could be completely wrong here – but it seems like the fiscal analysis is probably on the conservative side. The reality is that we could stand to gain far more than projected if the project pans out. But we have no way of really knowing if it will, and so the prudent model simply looks at the direct effects. Without the commercial component, with all of the other guarantees, it seems like we should still end up with about $1 million in revenue at buildout even without commercial, with the possibility of a lot more if the commercial succeeds.

Is that enough to satisfy critics? Probably not. But it could be enough to get council to approve it on Tuesday and enough for the voters as a whole to support it in June. Stay tuned.

—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.

Related posts

36 thoughts on “My View: FBC’s $1.4 Million Is a Dartboard Number”

  1. Matt Williams

    “Ray Salomon pushed for the substitute motion to reduce the expected revenue to $700,000 from $1.4 million.”

    Ray actually pushed for a friendly amendment to Dan’s motion, reducing the $1.4 million to $700,000.  Dan accepted several friendly amendments, but not that one.

    Once the friendly amendment process was completed, I put forward a substitute motion that included Dan’s motion and all the friendly amendments, and also the lower $700,000 amount.  The will of the FBC commissioners when they voted on that substitute motion was to reject it by a 3-4 vote.

    Robb Davis summed up the evening quite well when he said the everyone in the FBC was comfortable that Nishi produced a surplus, and that the surplus was in the range of $500,000 to $1.4 million.

      1. Matt Williams

        David, back in June when the FBC was reviewing the FY 15-16 Budget, we made thirteen specific recommendations to Council, one of which read as follows:

        The commission expressed interest in moving toward fuller use of scenario analysis in the consideration of the budget plan.  For example, scenarios could be developed to spell out what additional spending items would be prioritized in the event that revenues were better than expected, as well as what reductions should be implemented in the event of an unanticipated downturn in city finances.

        The core principle of that recommendation is that reality is never going to perfectly match projection, and that having realistic contingency plans for when the outcome is either less or more than projected is prudent financial planning.  That principle applies in the FBC’s look at Nishi.  There is a reasonable argument for the “less” scenario as a $700,000 annual surplus.  There is also a reasonable argument for the “more” scenario as a $1.5 million surplus.

        For me personally, the $1.4 million is a very reasonable scenario. Neither too high nor too low. The marginal costs issue that is at the heart of that scenario was one of the very first questions posed to Davis Zehnder of EPS by multiple FBC members in the September FBC public meeting.  I have copied and pasted three of the FBC September questions about costs below.  The EPS answers to those questions clearly indicate the abundance of caution they were applying to their analysis, which is consistent with what they said during the discussions in the meeting.

        FBC Question — One challenge is the demographics of the people who will live in the Nishi housing. Will they be low consumers of services? Does that change the calculation for use of city services?

        EPS Answer — Expenditures estimated for this study are based on average existing citywide expenditures per capita or persons served. Both of these populations include the existing student population. Thus, the average cost multipliers used to estimate future average costs assume a similar proportion of student and non-student households as existing. This is an appropriate methodology that has been used in previous city fiscal impact analyses.

        FBC Question — about costs for fire services. EIR indicates additional fire staffing not necessary, but this report includes costs for provisional services. Are the incremental costs based on a formula of current service?

        EPS answer — Both EIRs indicate the projects would require additional fire services. The Nishi DEIR indicates “the project would increase demand for fire protection and emergency medical services.”1 The MRIC DEIR indicates “the additional buildings and anticipated introduction of approximately 5,882 employees to the area would be expected to increase the demand for fire and emergency medical services.”2 As such, the fiscal impact analysis estimates incremental annual expenditures based on the City’s FY 2015-16 average per person served costs citywide to provide municipal fire services.

        FBC Question — The expenditure side of this analysis is too high; might expenditures be overstated as a result of using incremental costs? Why so conservative?

        EPS Answer — The fiscal impact analysis is reflective of current economic and demographic conditions and incorporates conservative assumptions to estimate both revenues and expenditures. This approach provides the public and policy makers with an understanding of annual fiscal impacts should current conditions continue in the future. The analysis includes numerous sensitivity analyses that provide the public and policy makers with an understanding of annual fiscal impacts if certain assumptions are more favorable than shown under the “Base Development Program” (e.g., increased property tax and sales tax revenue). The analysis also provides one scenario in which annual costs increase (ongoing O&M responsibility for MRIC only, [Alternative 1]).

  2. Jim Frame

    On the fire side, Nishi is right down the street literally from the UC Davis Fire Department

    You might want to review the local landscape.  It’s about 1.3 miles from Station 34 (UCD) to the proposed new RR undercrossing into Nishi via the most likely route.  In comparison, it’s about 1.1 miles from Station 31 (Fifth & E) to the same entry point, and only 0.6 mile from Station 31 to the West Olive Drive entry to the project.

    1. Matt Williams

      Jim, are you saying that an additional fire station needs to be built for Nishi?  If you are, then you are refuting my point.  If you are not, then you are agreeing with my point.

      1. Jim Frame

        Jim, are you saying that an additional fire station needs to be built for Nishi?

        No, I was just pointing out that what seems like “right down the street” can actually be farther away, and the Station 34 may not be the logical first dispatch to an emergency at Nishi.

        1. Matt Williams

          Understood.  If the nature of the fire requires a hook and ladder truck, Station 34 will be the first dispatch, but you are right, if it is a medical call (like the preponderance of calls are) the first dispatch will probably be from Station 31 on 5th Street.

          Regardless, the argument that there will not be a need for additional capital infrastructure and/or additional staffing is a solid one.

  3. Tia Will

    But they acknowledge that commercial demand is far less predictable than housing.”

    Two thoughts about this.

    1. Wouldn’t this be true also for MRIC ? With a likely economic downturn approaching, as Frankly, who obviously knows much more about this than I, is adopting an already questionable project at this point in time really wise ?  Interested in your thoughts Frankly.

    2. I did not realize that the build out of the R&D component was not obligatory. Since this provision of space for small start ups is a major reason for my support of Nishi along with those Don Shor has raised, I will now have to seriously re consider my position unless there is a way of locking this in.

    1. CalAg

      “… unless there is a way of locking this in.”

      TW: One way to lock this in is by tying occupancy permits for the residential to buildout of the commercial. For example,”x amount of commercial must be built and occupied before the nth residential occupancy permit can be issued.”

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        That was my initial thought as well.  However subsequent discussions have suggested that approach has risks as well.  But it is certainly a thought to put on the table.

      2. Matt Williams

        Although their wording was slightly different, the Open Space and Habitat Commission formally put this same concept on the table in its first public review of the MRIC EIR on February 1st.

        They expressed the belief that the same concept should be applied to the creation of parking spaces so that the land use footprint of parking could be minimized (build parking up rather than build parking out).

  4. CalAg

    The fiscal analysis still paints an overly positive picture.

    The bottom line is that half of the claimed $1.4M surplus is profit sharing from the developer (subject to a development agreement that can be amended) and the other half is an accounting trick.

      1. CalAg

        From the supplemental EPS report:

        “EPS utilized standard industry methods to compute the expenditures for both the Annual Fire and Police expenditures.”

        The fiscal model didn’t yield the results some of the proponents wanted, and so they tweaked the methodology to get a result that biased the analysis to support their agenda.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      So let’s break this down. I’m not a proponent of the project, but I think we need to make sure we are dealing with correct information at this point.

      First, a development agreement can only be amended with consent of both the city council and the developer. So I think we need to be clear that in order for the city to lose these revenues it has agreed to, the council would have to vote to do that. Not impossible, but it would be one of heckuva fight.

      Second, I think the claim that the Development Agreement Revenues are not going into baseline features is false.

      The $356,000 for the Services CFD: “The Baseline Project Features include establishment of a Land-Secured Services Financing District for municipal services, to ensure positive fiscal and economic benefits for the City
      of Davis.”

      The Make-Whole Provision revenues, $93,000, “should property be purchased or leased by an entity exempt from property taxes” is listed in the project baseline features.

      The Measure O Sales Tax Extension obviously has nothing to do with the developer, so I’m not sure why FBC has listed it there.

      The only thing I’m not clear on is the Scenario 10: Parks and Open Space Responsibility Revenues of $181,000.

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        After going back over the numbers and the staff report versus the actual baseline language, I think you have a stronger point than I initially thought and that the council is going to need to tighten the language

        1. CalAg

          “After going back over the numbers and the staff report versus the actual baseline language, I think you have a stronger point than I initially thought and that the council is going to need to tighten the language” David Greenwald

          Thank you for acknowledging this. I have been trying to sound the alarm on the baseline project features for many weeks – to the point that I wonder why I waste my time posting on the Vanguard.

          Regarding your statement that the “council is going to need to tighten the language” … Robb Davis and Rochelle Swanson were directly responsible for oversight on this miserable work product.

          They were appointed by their peers to represent the City Council in negotiating this provisional agreement between the voters and developer. Unless they acknowledge their failure (unlikely) and send this back to staff and the developer for renegotiation (which means missing the June ballot deadline), the die is cast. What makes you think that there will suddenly be a course correction?

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            The entire process has been a course correction. They either lock this stuff down or face the likelihood of electoral defeat.

        2. CalAg

          “They either lock this stuff down or face the likelihood of electoral defeat.” DG

          I will be surprised if the modifications of the BPF will amount to more than window dressing. The question will be how Brett Lee handles the big FU. He was very clear that he demanded specificity … and it’s not there.

          The negotiators (staff, developer, council subcommittee, and city attorney) abandoned the simple list format from Wildhorse Ranch and Covell Village in favor of the current approach (unclear prose with a bunch of superfluous fluff), and it obscures the lack of commitment by the developer.

          This looks tactical, and agree that any lack of specificity in the BPF will doom the project at the ballot box.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            You haven’t really addressed my point which is that if they don’t lock down the features, they face defeat. You’ve simply argued that they aren’t going to lock down the features. I believe the month between the council’s voting to put WHR on the ballot and when they locked things down in baseline was enough to cost them the election. I think that’s a fair warning to the council and developers to lock in as much as possible or they will be defeated.

        3. CalAg


          “You haven’t really addressed my point which is that if they don’t lock down the features, they face defeat.” DG

          I agree with this 100%. I’m just skeptical that the council will try to renegotiate the BPS in real time from the dais. If – after years of planning – substantive changes are getting made on the fly, it will be pretty embarrassing for both the City and the City Council

      2. Jim Frame

        So I think we need to be clear that in order for the city to lose these revenues it has agreed to, the council would have to vote to do that. Not impossible, but it would be one of heckuva fight.

        Like the heckuva fight that happened when the Saylor/Souza/Asmundson council turned the sales tax increase over to staff raises?  Citizen reluctance to trust the CC to “do the right thing” was seriously eroded by moves like that.  The composition of the CC can (and often does) change every two years, so putting things that should be baseline features into the DA doesn’t leave me feeling warm and fuzzy.

        1. Matt Williams

          Jim Frame said . . .Citizen reluctance to trust the CC to “do the right thing” was seriously eroded by moves like that. […] so putting things that should be baseline features into the DA doesn’t leave me feeling warm and fuzzy.”

          I concur Jim.  I believe lack of trust (abundance of distrust) is the most important issue we face in Davis.  Putting certain provisions in both the Baseline Features and the Development Agreement is a very wise “trust building step” in my opinion.

  5. Robert Milbrodt

    The purpose of my earlier comments to the Finance and Budget Commission was to emphasize the importance of using reliable numbers and doing a reliable analysis.  The Nishi financial analysis is still based on estimated rather than actual figures, and I’m sure the FBC would prefer a reliable financial model in making recommendations.
    Such a model would provide an accounting of actual property related revenues (property taxes) and actual property related expenses to the City (police, fire, public works).  This relationship is fixed, with the cost side growing substantially faster than the revenue side.  Whatever activity occurs on the property is variable, and should be kept separate.  
    A make whole provision should be used to balance the fixed side of the equation.  The developer should not be held accountable for short falls in non-property related activity, and there should not be a credit for any such overages to offset an imbalance on the property side.  That maintains the appropriate nexus for a make whole provision.
    The City needs an honest accounting of this and every project.  Had this been done at the outset, the project could have been designed to minimize the future use of a make whole provision.  That is better for the City, for the developer, and for the owners and users at the project. 

  6. Tia Will

    Robert Milbrodt

    The City needs an honest accounting of this and every project.”

    Complete agreement on this point. And I would add that such a complete and honest accounting needs to occur prior to that advancement process of any project of this magnitude leaving plenty of time for citizen and commission input.

  7. Eileen Samitz

    I posted many concerns about this fiscal analysis on the previous article from Tuesday and I still have a great deal of concern.

    Since I was not able to log into the Vanguard due to a website software problem, I could not post until days after the Vanguard article when few people were reading it. So my apologies to those who saw that posting, but I would like to raise some of these points again since this subject has come up again.

    First, it is important to make clear that the subcommittee’s opinion proposal presented and the consultant’s report did not reach the same conclusions, even after the consultants looked at the analysis again since the last report. I appreciate the subcommitee’s volunteerism to review the consultants analysis, but in the end, the consultant’s did not agree with the more optimistic conclusions of the subcommittee.

    The consultants and the sub-committee’s anlysis did include a “make whole provision” cost to the developer of $93,000 AND $181,000 to maintain the parks, greenbelts and streets annually for the project to become revenue-neutral to revenue-positive. But this raises some questions.

    1) How much would these dollars mean in 20 years?  What about an inflator factor to be included to account for inflation?

    In the consultant’s report the outcome of these payments to be made by the developer to the City annually worst case scenario is that the project has a deficit of at least $18,000 annually and the best case scenario is that the project has a $613,000 surplus.  REALLY? All of this financial risk for the City and the traffic and problems to:

    1) build student housing in the City for UCD where we pay for the infrastructure including water and waste water treatment, and

    2) bring such a non-game changing revenue possibility for the City which has such enormous risk?

    So, in the end, the consultant’s analysis did not agree with the $1.4 million dollar surplus that the subcommittee believes.  Also, there was no consensus on this subcommittee opinion by the Commission since at least one commissioner voted no, and another abstained.

    Regardless of which number it is, even $1.4 million dollars annually is not worth all of this financial risk and the impacts, while it also is counting on the optimistic assumptions that the subcommittee’s opinion proposal is based upon.

    For instance, what if the developer’s “make whole provision “does not come through for the City? Such as the project being so high-priced in housing that the project fails? The City gets stuck with the problem of a failed project, meanwhile the City is paying the bills to keep the City services going and paying other costs to provide the services to the residents left in it.

    The issues which were not included in the new opinion on the fiscal analysis by the Commission subcommittee or the consultant’s analysis include:

    1)      How much is the City responsible or any and all costs for Nishi Gateway? Particularly any infrastructure costs at any stage?

    2)      The original pre-development agreement stated that the City would pay 50% of infrastructure costs so the many subsequent questions are:

    A)     Has this changed at this point for certain, and if so why is it not in the baseline features?

    B)      Has the developer agreed to pay for all of the infrastructure costs if that is what the new numbers are contingent upon this and the other very optimistic assumptions?

    C) Have these infrastructure costs been itemized in detail?

    D)  If it has been agreed by the developer to pay for all infrastructure costs, and is it confirmed that the City will be paying for NO infrastructure costs, is this language going added to the baseline features? It needs to be there because it is binding and cannot be changed after the Measure J/R vote, unlike the developer agreement which can be changed.

    E) The question has not been answered, is the City going to be expected to pay for any costs for the Nishi Gateway project? If so it needs to be clearly be defined of what it is and how much it is, no matter how the cost is labeled (infrastructure, processing, etc.).

    NOTE THAT CURRENTLY THE BASELINE PROJECT FEATURES HAS NO LANGUAGE OF WHO IS PAYING FOR WHAT IN THE NISHI GATEWAY PROJECT.  What specifically is the developer paying for, and is the City paying for ANY costs for the Nishi Gateway project?  The only payment mentioned in the baseline features so far is the $1.2 million dollars that the developer will pay one time which does not nearly compensate for the 650 unit project having NO affordable housing.

    3) Has the Fire and Police department responded yet to the Finance and Budget subcommittee’s assumption to reduce the safety services costs by $734,000? This assumption was made in the new subcommittee’s opinion proposal despite the Police and Fire departments making it very clear in the report that it was crucial to not make any cuts to the estimates to provide the safety services needed.

    4) How much of the City’s share of the original grant money for exploring Nishi Gateway has been spent? This was a grant shared by UCD. How much of the City’s portion of the grant has been spent, and is the City spending City non-grant money on processing Nishi Gateway at this point? In other words how much is Nishi Gateway costing Davis taxpayers in any way, including processing and future estimated infrastructure since “share costs” has been mentioned a number of times.

    5) Also, what about infrastructure hook up costs given that the Olive Drive sewer hook-up may not have the capacity to be interfaced with Nishi Gateway. Who would pay for that major infrastructure cost? The developer? The City? Or is the City going to have to pay a “shared cost”?

    The bottom line is none of these costs have been defined, nor estimated, nor included in the new subcommittee opinion proposal. So how can any of this rehashing of the originally numbers by the subcommittee members be accurate if it did not include defining these costs and who was going to pay for them? The project pro-forma would need this information to determine if the project “pencils out”.

    As it turns out, the developer is now being asked to provide a considerable amount of money ($93,000 and $181,000) annually just to try to keep Nishi from being revenue-negative.

    6)  A question not one has asked is what happens if the City approves the project and potentially invests money in it for infrastructure, yet Nishi Gateway fails?  The “make whole provision” money dries up for any number of reasons. How would the City deal with a failed project?  Particularly since the City will potentially have spent a significant amount of Davis taxpayer money on it.

    Finally, what would the Nishi Gateway project bring to Davis? Is it worth all of this financial risk and liability for only 325,000 sq. ft. of Research and Development space that we can build now on vacant, zoned land within the City? The other issue is that it simply exacerbates an ongoing problem of building an enormous amount of housing for UCD students, which in turn enables UCD to continue not building on-campus student housing, and deferring it to our community. Plus it is using our infrastructure like water, water water treatment, and City services. We are paying the bills into the future for UCD’s negligence in providing the e promised on-campus housing.

    The only thing Nishi Gateway brings the City is enormous financial risk and more significant problems including the traffic impacts that can not be mitigated.

  8. Dan Carson

    The consensus is clear: Everyone on the commission voted last night for one or another motion declaring that the project has a net positive fiscal benefit for the city on an annual basis plus millions in one-time benefits, including $3 million in construction tax revenues the city could use to fix our roads and bike paths. They just didn’t all vote for the same motion.

    EPS testified at our Monday night hearing that the project as it has evolved has a significant positive upside for the city  City staff has likewise concluded independently that the project is a fiscal winner for the city and told the council so in its staff reports.  We all agree on this

    To your various what-if scenarios I have a response: what happens if the city does not pursue economic projects like this that have such a positive fiscal potential?  We as a city face huge long term fiscal challenges in the form of cost pressures for infrastructure and employee compensation.Yet we may not have the resources we need to maintain the high quality of city services our citizens want

    About $8 million in annual sales tax revenues — roughly one-sixth of the total city General Fund — phase out beginning in December 2020 unless renewed by Davis voters.  Given the council’s recent decision not to put a tax measure on the June ballot for infrastructure and the recent push to use the city’s taxing power for other priorities, I think we need to redouble our economic development efforts

    A proposed parcel tax faces an uphill battle to get a two-thirds vote   One prominent leader in the school community told me she was dead opposed to any city parcel tax that could compete with the one the schools will be seeking — and it did not matter to her whether they were even on the same ballot in November

    You have often told me that you oppose Nishi because, your word choice, it is a “waste” to build any student housing within the city limits using our regional fair share housing allocation

    I can see why you are now downplaying your criticisms of the project for providing student housing.  For one thing that policy is contrary to the city General Plan. For another that line of attack will not get far with the UC Davis students, faculty, and staff who live — and vote — in this town

    Many of us do agree with you that the UC Davis campus has shirked its past obligations in this area, and that the LRDP process should be used as an opportunity to get them to face up to those obligations (in a way that does not dump traffic on surrounding neighborhoods without mitigation, I would add).

    But it makes a lot of sense high-density student housing right next to campus on land that would be annexed to the city.  Especially when it is linked to economic development strategies that would have a significant payoff and an environmentally friendly infill strategy that provides jobs and housing close to downtown Davis and encourages biking and walking with better road connections to campus.

    The real financial risk to the city is if we do nothing to generate new revenues through economic development strategies


  9. Miwok

    Why does the recent article mention anything over 150 units is not “policy” yet they are pushing NISHI?

    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.

    Even trying to propose these project as “multi family” is blatant lying to the public.

    1. Jim Frame

      Even trying to propose these project as “multi family” is blatant lying to the public.

      Multi-family is a standard industry term for residential buildings that house more than one living group.  Its most common implementation is probably best known as an apartment house.  Trying to cast its use as a lie — or even innocently misleading — is pretty lame rhetoric.

  10. Eileen Samitz

    Wow Dan,

    I am sorry to see such defensive language from you. Also, looks like you drafted this language but did not post it after my first posting sue to the edit of “yesterday”. I wish you had posted your response sooner so I understood your responses to my many concerns.

    I know that you are in strong support of this project and have done your best to defend it, but I do not remember ever stating the comment that you posted. I have been consistent in arguing that UCD needs to provide student housing on campus. And yes, I think we should ge fair share credit for any housing build, yet Nishi Gateway is not providing ANY affordable housing.

    First, I was not criticizing you or Jeff Miller who was on the subcommittee. Nor was I trying to criticize any of the Finance and Budget Commission. I thought that I was making that clear. I was present at the meeting, saw the deliberations, saw Ray Solomon try to make the new subcommittee opinion more safe to protect the City and the City taxpayer, but you were very clear that you would not accept his safer recommendation. I was disappointed to see this. The most important thing to do is to use the most conservative assumptions to protect our City and its taxpayers for having to use tax money to support such a risky project.

    I am not understanding why you would not support having all the protective language for the City included in the baseline project features which are legally binding if you have such confidence in your analysis which the consultants do not agree with.  You refused to include the more protective language for the City proposed by Ray Salomon who has has a great deal of experience in this field.

    Furthermore, you accuse me of being against providing student housing  (which I am not against, just MUCH more needs to be provided on-campus since UCD has 5,000 acres) but correct me if I am wrong, did you not oppose West Village for student housing? Yet you say:

    Many of us do agree with you that the UC Davis campus has shirked its past obligations in this area, and that the LRDP process should be used as an opportunity to get them to face up to those obligations (in a way that does not dump traffic on surrounding neighborhoods without mitigation, I would add)..

    But would not Nishi be dumping all kinds of traffic onto the downtown and those neighborhoods? And what about the back up traffic to South Davis? And basically, there is no mitigation that will resolve these problems.

    The bottom line Dan, is as a community, we are all in this together, to make sure that the City, the downtown, and no neighborhoods get harmed by any proposal. This is about good planning as well as trying to help our City fiscally. Not one, or the other.

    In response to your comment regarding getting the City  in better financial condition, I am ALL for that. In fact I support a Mace Ranch commercial only innovation park as I have from the beginning of its proposal.

    However, on Nishi Gateway given all infrastructure problems, and costs, traffic, and impacts on the downtown and those neighborhoods and enormous financial risk to the City.  It is NOT ok to push forward such a financially risky project imposing SO many traffic and circulation problems for a mere 325,000 sq. feet of  research and development that we can locate in the City now on land zoned for that. I can not agree with any continuation of our community continuing to subsidize UCD’s explosive housing needs which they have neglected and broken their promised to provide for over two decades. The UCD students deserve better, and our community deserves better.

    Finally, please understand that any protective language that was supported by the Finance and Budget Commission, although well intended, gives NO protection to the City unless it is in the  Measure J/R baseline project features since THAT is what is legally binding.

    I am really sorry that we not agree on this issue.



  11. Dan Carson

    I look forward to working with you on the Mace Ranch Innovation Center and campus LRDP matters just as we have been on the same side on other matters in the past. I would not be supporting Nishi Gateway efforts if I did not sincerely believe that it was good for the city in all respects, environmentally and fiscally. It is both.

  12. Eileen Samitz


    I appreciate your comment and please understand that none of my comments were intended to discredit you or the work you did on this re-analysis of the Nishi Gateway fiscal information. I just have many concerns about some things that may not have been accounted for regarding potential costs to the City. This is not a criticism, I am just trying to raise the concerns I have. I am even more concerned that I am not seeing the language in the latest baseline project features (which is legally binding) draft that the Finance and Budget Commission supported to protect the City from infrastructure costs. Hopefully, the City Council will fix this Tuesday. I think it would help for some of the Commissioners to advocate for this on Tuesday. So my thanks to you and the Commission for raising and passing those motions.

    That said, we still probably will not agree on the Nishi Gateway project, but there is so much more that have previously agreed on, and do agree on. For instance, I also look forward to working with you on the Mace Innovation Center (as long as it does not try to bring in a housing component) to make sure that it will bring the City revenue, which it appears to so far. Likewise, I also look forward to working with you on the UCD LRDP which so needs our community’s attention and input. Davis needs to figure out better ways to have revenue rather than backsliding into the short-term  revenue from residential  “churning” it has experienced in the past which really caused our community so many problems and which we are still paying for.

    Again, Dan I appreciate all of your time and effort that you and the Commission have volunteered for to try to help improve the City’s financial condition. As a former Commissioner myself, I know that it takes a lot of personal time and it’s a lot of work.

  13. Ron

    I have not yet looked at the updated analysis, to account for the services CFD.  However, I’m wondering if the cost of providing services for this development will eventually exceed any projected surplus.  Does the services CFD include a factor to account for inflation, over time?

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
Sign up for