The following are written comments on the Sterling Mitigated Negative Declaration submitted by Don Sherman, a resident at the nearby Rancho Yolo site.
City staff and applicant will give a project presentation and solicit feedback on transportation issues.
- In just the traffic-related portions, there are a dozen or more exaggerations, unsupportable assumptions, and glaring omissions in the Mitigated Negative Declaration you are being asked to accept. This for tonight’s compilation includes only those dealing exclusively with traffic, bicycle and safety issues under consideration today by the Bicycle-Transportation and Street Safety Commission.
- So glaring are these errors that one might suspect that this is not an original document at all, but rather a careless copy and paste job from other projects.
- We are confident you will agree this requires restarting the California Environmental Quality Act mandated process that requires state and local agencies to identify the significant environmental impacts of their actions and to avoid or mitigate those impacts, with a Focused Environmental Impact Report rather than a Mitigated Negative Declaration.
Transportation/Traffic on Page 106: The Consultant has concluded that the traffic on existing streets will be “less than significant.” But, as noted previously in these comments, the consultants understate the number of residents who will live in the Sterling Apartments, and as a result, understates the number of trips/traffic that will be generated by the Sterling Project.
The Consultant’s report states on Page 109:
“Existing Conditions – a.m. and p.m. traffic counts were conducted during the week of October 13, 2014 for the following intersections: Cowell Blvd / Pole Line Road / Lillard Avenue, 5th Street / L Street, 5th Street / Pole Line Road and 2nd Street / Cantrill Drive.”
This 2014 study is not an accurate reflection of “existing conditions” given Fifth Street was reduced from two lanes to one lane after those traffic counts were conducted. How then may the City reliably judge traffic flows for Fifth Street or for any of the streets that intersect with Fifth Street given the new street configuration?
Further, the study does not measure traffic on Fifth Street west of L Street. These traffic measures and impacts must be understood given the one lane reconfiguration and the hundreds of students who will commute via Fifth Street to UC Davis.
“Traffic counts for the 5th Street / Cantrill Drive intersection were conducted during the week of May 26, 2015”
A week that included the Memorial Day holiday.
“traffic counts for the Pole Line Road / 8th Street intersection were derived from the traffic counts conducted for The Cannery project.”
An outrageous omission, because this report was prepared as 96 homes at Chiles Ranch as well as 495 homes (plus offices and stores and restaurants) in The Cannery project are being built, and the huge amount of traffic they will pour onto to Covell, both East and West of Pole Line were not counted or even estimated at all!
Parking: The Consultant assumes 727 student beds and 41 one- to three-bedroom affordable units. Most of the student occupants could potentially have cars, especially given the distance to the UC Davis campus. Tenants of the affordable units may have more than one car. The project provides only 545 parking garage spaces plus 40 surface parking spaces, or about 76% of the number of tenant cars. Is this kind of a potential parking shortage typical of high-density developments? What if there is an overflow of occupant plus visitor cars? Where will the overflow parking take place? There is no parking allowed along 5th Street. This parking shortage will be significantly greater given the very real probability that this project will have at least 1,000 residents.
Traffic at Intersections – Table 25 on Page 114: This table shows minimal traffic impacts associated with the Sterling Project. As one example, it simply defies logic that the Fifth Street and Pole Line Road intersection will be so lightly affected given the buildout of the Cannery Project, the Chiles Ranch Development on Eight Street, let alone the Sterling Project. Several thousand new residents will be traveling these streets without the Sterling Project.
Public Transit and Unitrans on Page 110: The report does not discuss whether the Unitrans A Line could handle the increased ridership that the project would generate. Will UC Davis add buses if needed during peak periods, and initiate weekend service for the A Line? The weekend O Line route is not practical for someone at the project who wants to go downtown or to UC Davis.
Bicycles from the Project on Page 116: The Consultant’s report states:
“As noted earlier, bike lanes do not exist along 5th Street, between Pole Line Road and L Street. It is expected that many project residents will use the bike path upon leaving the site and continue along the bike path on the south side of 5th Street to L Street.”
The number of bicyclists crossing Pole Line to access the bike path on the south side of 5th street will exacerbate the intersection’s traffic and safety problems. The Project developers and their consultants predict heavy bicycle use given the student residents of their apartment complex. If they accurately predict bicycle use, the 5th Street and Pole Line Road intersection will be heavily impacted given the large numbers of bicycles accessing the single bike path.
Further, the very awkward transition at the end of the bike path at 5th and L Streets, with a blind corner only partly solved by a convex mirror will create problems. Given the heavy increase in bicycle traffic, there is no way to predict how the cyclists are going to handle this transition, but we know from observation that so often many cyclists take the easy way out (fastest for them), ignoring laws and safety. So we can expect some bad accidents at this intersection.
Queuing Analysis on Page 116: Will there be any steps taken to mitigate the potential increase in accidents due to cars turning left (Westbound) onto 5th Street from the project site, or Westbound cars on 5th Street turning left into the project? The westbound turns, from and into, that site will create a very dangerous situation.
Traffic Impacts with Measure R Projects – Table 31 on Page 123: The report continues to understate the impacts of the traffic at the 5th Street and Pole Line Road locations. Fifth Street west of Pole Line Road is designated a “4-lane major arterial.” Yet, this segment is only a one block long ending at L Street where it then becomes a 2-lane road through the core of the City. How then can the traffic remain below the City of Davis LOS standards? It is also hard to believe that Pole Line Road north of Fifth Street would remain below the thresholds set by the City given the Cannery, the Chiles Ranch, and Mace Ranch Innovation Center Projects. Again, these conclusions simply defy logic.
Traffic Less Than Significant on Page 125: The Consultant concludes:
“Under the Cumulative Year 2035 Conditions with MRIC and Project scenario, the Pole Line Road segment between 5th Street and Cowell Boulevard would continue to operate at LOS F. The project would add 47 trips along this segment, or 2.4% of the total peak hour traffic. However, based on City of Davis significance criteria, this is a change within the 5% increment that is permitted, and therefore the proposed project’s impact is less than significant.”
Are we really to believe that a project with at least 1,000 new residents will only generate 47 trips per day on the Pole Line segment between Fifth Street and Cowell Blvd? The Safeway/Rite Aid Shopping Center is just one destination that will generate at least that many trips.
We have no confidence in this traffic study.
This 2014 study is not an accurate reflection of “existing conditions” given Fifth Street was reduced from two lanes to one lane after those traffic counts were conducted. How then may the City reliably judge traffic flows for Fifth Street or for any of the streets that intersect with Fifth Street given the new street configuration? Further, the study does not measure traffic on Fifth Street west of L Street. These traffic measures and impacts must be understood given the one lane reconfiguration and the hundreds of students who will commute via Fifth Street to UC Davis.
Page 111 of the Mitigated Negative Declaration document shows 1,454 trips generated by the site each day. Since the planned occupancy is close to 100% UC Davis students, the vast majority of those 1,454 daily trips will traverse the entire length of the 5th Street corridor from the project site to the corner of Howard Way and 5th Street (west of A Street). One of the most significant traffic impacts will take place in the segment between H Street and A Street, with significant impact at the Howard Way/5th Street intersection where bicycles will cross from north to south. These omissions constitute a FATAL FLAW in the Public Draft Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration. Further the gravity of this fatal flaw necessitates restarting the CEQA process with a Focused EIR rather than a Mitigated Negative Declaration.