My View II: Is the Neg Dec Route Appropriate for Sterling?

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Aerial Map showing proposed Sterling Apartments in relation to Rancho Yolo
Aerial map showing proposed Sterling Apartments in relation to Rancho Yolo

When the city of Davis pushed through a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) on the Hotel Conference Center, the city believed it was legally defensible, however, the project has since been bottled up in a legal battle that might have been avoided with a focused Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

Now they essentially risk the same on Fifth Street with the proposed Sterling Apartments development, over the objection of neighbors at Rancho Yolo who are complaining about potential traffic impacts as well as the failure to properly notice the residents at the park. Comments on the MND are due this Monday, and 262 homes and 325 residents believe they were short-changed in the process.

Sterling Apartments is a proposed 244-unit development on Fifth Street at the site of the former Families First treatment facility that was subject to a major investigation and permanently closed as of September 2013.

This project seeks to demolish the existing buildings on just over 5 acres that would be developed into a four- and five-story, 203-unit student housing project, along with a four-story, 41-unit affordable housing project on the remaining .84 acres of the site.

The student site would include 727 beds along with 545 parking spaces. The initial study “identified potentially significant impacts related to air quality, biological resources, cultural resources, greenhouse gases, hazards and hazardous materials, hydrology/water quality, public services, and transportation/traffic. The Initial Study determined that the impacts of the proposed project relative to these areas would be less than significant or less than significant with mitigation.”

According to an October 8 letter from traffic consultants KD Anderson & Associates, Inc., “Levels of Service were evaluated for six intersections in the area of the proposed project.” KD Anderson found, “The existing operating level of service [LOS] will be maintained with the addition of project traffic. All locations operate at LOS C or better. Thus the project’s impact is not significant based on this criterion.”

KD Anderson concludes, “The addition of the project will maintain acceptable levels of service at the study intersections, at LOS C or better. The project’s impacts are not significant and no additional mitigation is required.”

This contrasts significantly from the findings on Richards Boulevard where traffic is at LOS E or F, and, while the hotel was not expected to create a worse condition, it is foreseeable that the potential addition of Nishi might. However, on Richards Blvd., the city is planning several steps including structural changes to Richards to mitigate additional congestion, a corridor study which will change the way Richards interacts with I-80, as well as potential measures to redirect traffic headed to UC Davis away from Richards and towards other access points to the university.

Where I might be a little concerned with the findings for Sterling might be with the overall interactive effect of all of the congestion on Richards pushing additional traffic to use the Pole Line overpass, at least in the short-term, which might create more congestion starting at the Fifth and Pole Line intersection.

Indeed, the report from KD Anderson shows that by 2035, assuming MRIC and current land uses are maintained, “The addition of the project will maintain acceptable levels of service at all study intersections, with each intersection operating at LOS E or better. Additionally, all roadway segments will continue to operate with acceptable City thresholds, at LOS E or better. The project’s impacts are not significant and no additional mitigation is required.”

That analysis gets worse if we assume three Measure R projects, “Under the Cumulative 2035 plus 3 Measure R Projects scenario identified in the MRIC Draft EIR all roadway segments except one will operate at LOS E or better. The Pole Line Road segment between 5th Street and Cowell Blvd will operate at LOS F. No improvements are available to deliver Level of Service meeting City standards.”

That is the scenario WITHOUT the Sterling Apartment project. The scenario with it, “Under the Cumulative 2035 plus 3 Measure R Projects plus Project scenario, all roadway segments except one will continue to operate at LOS E or better. The Pole Line Road segment between 5th Street and Cowell Blvd will continue to operate at LOS F. The project will add 47 trips along this segment, or 2.4% of the total peak hour traffic. Based on City of Davis significance criteria this is within the 5% permissible increment and is not considered a significant impact. No additional mitigations are required.”

Going beyond motor vehicles, “The Initial Study determined that the project would have potentially significant impacts relative to pedestrians and safety, but that the following mitigation measures to ensure visibility at the access driveway and to construct a midblock pedestrian crossing would reduce the impacts to a less than significant level.”

  • Mitigation Measure 10: Prior to issuance of building permits, the project applicant shall submit the Final Landscaping Plans to the City of Davis Community Development and Sustainability Department. The City shall review the Final Landscaping Plans to ensure that adequate site distances at the project access driveway are provided.
  • Mitigation Measure 11: Prior to the issuance of the first Certificate of Occupancy, the project applicant shall coordinate with the City of Davis Public Works Department to fund and construct a mid-block pedestrian crossing along the project frontage to facilitate pedestrian crossings of 5th Street. The crossing shall include a rectangular rapid flashing beacon (RRFB) to alert approaching motorists of impending pedestrian traffic.

Bottom line appears to be as follows: That corridor is going to get more heavily congested if the city approves and builds its Measure R projects. The impact of Sterling Apartments in any of those scenarios is not going to change that calculation. Therefore the city is justified in going the MND route.

Given everything that has happened with regard to the Hotel Conference Center and potentially Nishi, the city really should err on the site of caution and do the focused EIR. It is not clear that anyone will sue over this, but why take the chance?

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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54 thoughts on “My View II: Is the Neg Dec Route Appropriate for Sterling?”

  1. Ron

    “. . . and 262 homes and 325 residents believe they were short-changed in the process.”

    Concern is not limited to residents of Rancho Yolo.  This large-scale proposed development would affect all  residents who use 5th Street, Pole Line, the post office, and surrounding streets.  It would especially affect those who travel to/from Mace Ranch.  (The resulting increased congestion could also delay police response times througout the city, from the police station just east of the site.)

    I understand that this proposed development would essentially function as a mini-dorm, requiring city services (e.g., police responses) to quell disturbances, etc.  I understand that there’s a similar development on nearby Cantrill, which has had a similar impact.

    This large-scale proposed development (aimed primarily at students) is far from campus. Student housing belongs on campus (where it will be conveniently located for students, with much less impact on the city).  The city must stop subsidizing the University’s growth plans.

    By entertaining the possibility of rezoning the site to accommodate this development, the city is encouraging speculative profits, which prices the existing facility/building beyond the reach of organizations that might otherwise purchase and re-use it.  Alternatively, the proposed development should be scaled back (much as Trackside is now being forced to do).

    1. hpierce

      uhhhh…  unlike Fire Dept., PD is not “dispatched” from HQ. Except at shift changes, PD is mobilized throughout the City at any given time.  That argument of your fails, on its face.

        1. Ron

          “Why worry about the facts when fear mongering is so much easier?

          Based on hpierce’s response, I stand corrected regarding police dispatch practices.  Please do not assume that I am engaging in “fear mongering”.

        2. Mark West

          “Please do not assume that I am engaging in “fear mongering”.”

          I didn’t assume anything.  I read your comment, evaluated the statements as being either fact-based or emotion-based and concluded that facts are not an important component of your approach.

        3. Ron

          “I didn’t assume anything.  I read your comment, evaluated the statements as being either fact-based or emotion-based and concluded that facts are not an important component of your approach.”

          O.K. – your “conclusion” that I am engaging in “fear mongering” is incorrect.

  2. The Pugilist

    “This large-scale proposed development (aimed primarily at students) is far from campus. ”

    Compared to most places except Nishi and Lincoln, I think this is closer to campus than most locations that we could build housing for students.

    “The city must stop subsidizing the University’s growth plans.”

    The university is accommodating students who are attempting to get a UC education.  It cannot accommodate all the students with on-campus housing.  The city needs to step up.  As the Vanguard has argued, if the crisis gets bad enough and enough students start registering to vote, they could overturn Measure R.  It’s probably a low risk, but why not relieve the pressure with a few new apartment complexes.

    1. Don Shor

      Compared to most places except Nishi and Lincoln, I think this is closer to campus than most locations that we could build housing for students.

      It is, and there are hundreds of apartments already in the area.
      http://davismerchants.org/vanguard/fifthstreet.jpg

  3. The Pugilist

    “By entertaining the possibility of rezoning the site to accommodate this development, the city is encouraging speculative profits, which prices the existing facility/building beyond the reach of organizations that might otherwise purchase and re-use it.  ”

    As opposed to what’s happening now where people are converting SFH into mini-dorms.  Why is this worse for the city than that?

    1. Ron

      “(The University) cannot accommodate all the students with on-campus housing.”

      With more than 5,000 acres, the University could accommodate all of the planned increased enrollment, if they chose to do so.

      Some argue that we have no control over what the University does.  This is a defeatist and harmful view, and enables the situation to continue.  The University’s chancellor is under extreme pressure right now, from the State.  Now is not the time to “give up” our efforts.  Although it may take some time, the University will ultimately respond.   (Hopefully, you and others completed the survey in which the University sought our input, regarding student housing needs.)

      There appears to be universal agreement that it’s better to put most student housing on campus.  (No one has argued otherwise.)  Locating large-scale student housing complexes at far-flung sites within the city is a poor (and permanent) “inferior choice”, which creates negative and unnecessary impacts, resentment, and resistance.

      As Mike Harrington said, where are our city’s leaders in the effort to locate housing on campus?  Are they meeting with University and State officials?

      “As the Vanguard has argued, if the crisis gets bad enough and enough students start registering to vote, they could overturn Measure R.  It’s probably a low risk, but why not relieve the pressure with a few new apartment complexes.”

      Student residences will increase (not decrease), as a result of building more large-scale apartment complexes in the city.  Regardless, I cannot base my decisions on what future generations might (or might not) do.  It is difficult enough to influence the current generation.

      Agreed, that some student-oriented housing will be built within the city, regardless.  My goal is to ensure that these developments fit in with surrounding neighborhoods and minimize the inevitable negative impacts.

      1. Don Shor

        Locating large-scale student housing complexes at far-flung sites within the city is a poor (and permanent) “inferior choice”,

        Current apartments:
        http://davismerchants.org/vanguard/City%20apartments%20March%202016.png
        Fifth Street area:
        http://davismerchants.org/vanguard/Apartments%20Fifth%20Street%20March%202016.png

      2. Mark West

        With more than 5,000 acres, the University could accommodate all of the planned increased enrollment, if they chose to do so.

        True, but they have chosen not to, so what is your plan B? Ignore the problem?    

        Some argue that we have no control over what the University does. Although it may take some time, the University will ultimately respond.  

        The University will respond to the University’s needs. There is no reason to believe it will do anything more than ‘listen politely’ to the City’s needs. It will ignore private citizen’s demands.   

        There appears to be universal agreement that it’s better to put most student housing on campus. (No one has argued otherwise.) 

        It has been argued otherwise several times. You clearly have not been paying attention. 

        Locating large-scale student housing complexes at far-flung sites within the city is a poor (and permanent) “inferior choice”, which creates negative and unnecessary impacts, resentment, and resistance.

         
        Distributing apartment complexes (and students) around town is an example of good planning, reducing the negative impacts of congregating all student renters into student mini-cities or worse, student slums.  

      3. Misanthrop

        “There appears to be universal agreement that it’s better to put most student housing on campus.”

        Only among those with whom you are speaking.

        1. Ron

          Misanthrop:  “Only among those with whom you are speaking.”

          I guess it’s not universal.  I suspect that most on this forum see the logic of building most of the student housing on campus.

          If we fail to agree on this fundamental goal, all other arguments regarding housing for students is a complete waste of time and energy.  All effort will be spent on proving each other “wrong”, using convoluted arguments.  As a result, I doubt that much housing will be built anywhere (including on the campus, where most seem to agree that it’s needed).

           

  4. The Pugilist

    “With more than 5,000 acres, the University could accommodate all of the planned increased enrollment, if they chose to do so.”

    Maybe.  But does that really benefit the city?

    Think about it this way, why would we as Davisites oppose adding housing the city limits?

    1.  Building on agland – well the university is going to build on Agland.  The question is why is the agland south of Russell less important than the agland north of Covell?

    2.  Traffic and congestion – building closer to campus will make traffic and congestion marginally better for the city.  However, as students will go into the city for shopping and entertainment it is probably more a wash than you think.

    3.  Costs of housing – that’s an interesting question because on the one hand, there will be some costs born by the university, on the other hand, there are costs to city services – fire, police, roads, infrastructure that the city will likely have to bare without receiving property tax and building revenue in return.

    Whether it is university housing or city housing, we are stuffing more people in a small geographic area.  If the university doesn’t add housing, we risk losing out on future growth controls.

    “Regardless, I cannot base my decisions on what future generations might (or might not) do. ”

    That’s a very narrow perspective.  And we’re not talking about future generations, we are probably looking at 2020.

    1. Ron

      Just to be clear, are you actually making an argument that it’s better for the city to accommodate most of the planned increase in enrollment (vs. the University)?  Without re-engaging in all of the drawbacks of such an approach, I suspect that you’d be in the minority, regarding this idea.

      1. Mark West

        It is a fiscally smarter decision for the City to have the housing built within the City limits. When you consider that we have already saddled our children with nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars in debt to pay for your ‘current lifestyle,’ I think making the ‘fiscally smarter decision’ should be a priority.

        1. Mark West

          “How is it fiscally smarter to build housing within the city limits?”

          We will have to pay for services for the students regardless of where they live. They will use our roads and parks, and demand police services when they are downtown at night (among many other things). We receive one-time construction permit fees etc. and ongoing property tax revenues for apartment construction within the City limits.  We receive absolutely nothing when that construction occurs on-campus. On-campus housing has a 100% negative impact on the City’s fiscal situation.

        2. CalAg

          “We have already saddled our children with nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars in debt …” Mark West

          News flash – Most of “our children” will not be living in Davis to pay this debt. The housing is unaffordable and the job base stinks. Except for a small minority, most will be moving on whether they want to or not.

        3. CalAg

          “a four- and five-story, 203-unit student housing project, along with a four-story, 41-unit affordable housing project on the remaining .84 acres of the site” David Greenwald

          Fun facts – Sterling has 17% affordable housing. Nishi has 0% affordable housing.

          Why the double standard for Whitcombe’s project?

        4. Matt Williams

          CalAg, I asked that question a couple of weeks ago and the answer that I was given was that the Nishi project has provided the same level of fiscal contribution that any other project would provide, and the City has chosen to direct that fiscal contribution to the UPRR underpass rather than to the City’s affordable housing fund.

          During the December 14, 2015 FBC meeting one of the active discussion items was a proposed CFD for Nishi.  David Freudenberger from the Goodwin Consulting Group and Andy Plescia from A. Plescia & Co. made the presentation, and one question was what level of funding UCD was going to provide for the UPRR underpass.  The answer from Freudenberger and Plescia was $0.  After hearing that answer, I made the point that UCD should be providing at least 50% of the underpass cost (reported to be $13 million by Freudenberger and Plescia) since UCD was realizing real benefit/value from the housing at Nishi.

          To date, I do not believe UCD’s committed contribution to the underpass has changed.  Should it change some time in the future, I would hope (dare I say expect) that the UCD contribution amount would flow into the City’s affordable housing fund. Time will tell whether that happens.

        5. CalAg

          “CalAg, I asked that question a couple of weeks ago and the answer that I was given was that the Nishi project has provided the same level of fiscal contribution that any other project would provide, and the City has chosen to direct that fiscal contribution to the UPRR underpass rather than to the City’s affordable housing fund.” Matt Williams

          What exactly is the “same level of fiscal contribution” and how might that be calculated? Talk about a lack of transparency!

          Backbone infrastructure includes a roadway connecting West Olive Drive to the UC Davis campus, bicycle paths and sidewalks, public utilities, stormwater drainage and detention, parks and open space, and grade-separated crossings of the Union Pacific Railroad and the Putah Creek Parkway. These improvements are solely the responsibility of Developer, at the Developer’s sole cost, with fee credits as set forth in the Development Agreement.  Nishi Baseline Project Features

          If we take your statement at face value, the UPRR undercrossing will be paid for with funds that have been redirected from the the City’s affordable housing program, and we previously discovered that the Mace interchange improvements will be paid for with funds from the City’s roadway impact fees.

          The later is disclosed in the Development Agreement, the former is not.

          Both violate the spirit of the “at the Developer’s sole cost” language.

        6. CalAg

          MW: Just to clarify, my frustration is directed at the City and not at you.

          The following commitments of the developer were clearly stated in the 1/19 draft of the Baseline Project Features:
          – Fair Share Contributions to Olive/Richards intersection and Richards corridor/interchange improvements.
          – Developer pays for Olive Drive-Putah Creek connection, undercrossing to UCD, & mitigation per EIR.

          Then on 2/16, with no public review or City Council discussion, the “with fee credits as set forth in the Development Agreement.” language was slipped into the BPF.  This opened the door for the City to violate the “sole cost” standard by burying fee credits in the DA.

          In light of all this, I found your statement that you were told “the City has chosen to direct that fiscal contribution to the UPRR underpass rather than to the City’s affordable housing fund” to be particularly troubling.

          It appears that they public will be paying for >$12M of the project infrastructure via fee credits and backroom decisions if Nishi is approved by the voters.

        7. Matt Williams

          CalAg, I didn’t see your frustration as personally directed at me.  Not a problem.  To answer your question, “What exactly is the “same level of fiscal contribution” and how might that be calculated?” the cost of the UPRR undercrossing that was presented by Goodwin to the FBC on 12/14/2015 was $13.5 million.  The only Affordable Housing Program number I have heard is the $10 million number that posters here in the Vanguard have mentioned several times.

  5. Mark West

    “The city must stop subsidizing the University’s growth plans.”

    The City has to provide services to students every time they step off of campus and into the City, regardless of where they are living. The City only receives property tax revenues to pay for those services when the students live in off-campus housing within the City.  The subsidy you are complaining about occurs when students live in on-campus housing (or otherwise outside the City limits).

    1. Ron

      “The subsidy you are complaining about occurs when students live in on-campus housing (or otherwise outside the City limits).”

      I suspect that many arguments can be made, regarding the financial impact of locating residential development on-campus, vs. off-campus.  (I’m no expert, regarding this.)  However, as a partial rebuttal, students who live on campus (or off-campus) do support local businesses, and the city receives sales tax as a result.

      The costs of police, fire, water, sewer, etc. have proven remarkably prone to “inflation”, over time.  This is the reason that residential development is generally a money-loser, for cities.  (And no, I don’t trust that the city can permanently change this situation.)  Perhaps the difficulty of controlling these costs is the real reason that the University prefers to push this problem onto the city.  If it’s really such a “great deal” for the city, why wouldn’t it also be a “great deal” for the University?  (And no – I don’t think it’s due to the one-time “prevailing wage” costs related to construction.)

      In any case, locating housing on-campus would indeed have less impact on city infrastructure, compared to jamming in large-scale developments farther away from campus.  On-campus housing can be reserved for students, and would provide greater conveniences and ease of access to the University, for students.

      Arguments for jamming-in large scale apartment complexes in existing neighborhoods (farther away from the campus) are not going to be very effective, in the face of significant neighborhood resistance.  And, I don’t blame these residents for trying to minimize these impacts.

      This is (hopefully) my final response for today.

       

      1. The Pugilist

        “The costs of police, fire, water, sewer, etc. have proven remarkably prone to “inflation”, over time. ”

        A lot of those costs will be incurred regardless of where they live, at least with them off campus, we get revenue back.

        1. Ron

          The Pugilist:  A lot of those costs will be incurred regardless of where they live, at least with them off campus, we get revenue back.

          Again, I’m not an expert.  However, I understand that NONE of the costs I’ve listed would be incurred by the city, if housing is built on campus.  The University has its own police, fire, water, sewer.  (The very costs that are most subject to inflation.) And, the city would still collect sales tax regardless of where students live.

          Residential development has consistently been a long-term money-loser for cities, and would presumably a long-term money-loser for the University, as well. (I hope that someone doesn’t try to engage in the false argument that it’s simply a matter of controlling these costs, over the long term.) Let the University deal with it.

          On a related note, I hope that businesses that require a lot of police services (e.g., after-hours nightclubs) pay sufficient taxes to cover their costs (regardless of where patrons live).

  6. Ron

    Don – are you saying that the Sterling site is closer to campus (vs. on-campus housing)? And, that there are fewer traffic/congestion issues at Sterling (and to/from the University), compared to locating housing on-campus?

    1. Don Shor

      are you saying that the Sterling site is closer to campus (vs. on-campus housing)?

      No. Obviously. I am saying that the repetition of the idea that housing on Fifth Street is ‘far’ from campus is pointless, false, misleading, or hyperbole. Take your pick.
      I am saying there are already hundreds of apartments within the vicinity of the Sterling proposal. 914, to be exact (if you include the housing co-op and Eleanor Roosevelt Circle). Some of these are even further down Fifth Street than the Sterling proposal. There are apartments further from campus in South Davis as well.
      The traffic/congestion “issues” are a complete red herring.
      We need housing on campus. We need housing in town. More of the former, but some of the latter.

      1. The Pugilist

        If we just added three apartment complexes like Nishi, Sterling and something else, we could house 4000 to 4500 students.  That may not deal with all of the added students depending on the numbers you look at it, but it will help to solve some of that problem.

      2. Don Shor

        Agreed, that some student-oriented housing will be built within the city, regardless. My goal is to ensure that these developments fit in with surrounding neighborhoods and minimize the inevitable negative impacts.

        Arguments for jamming-in large scale apartment complexes in existing neighborhoods (farther away from the campus) are not going to be very effective, in the face of significant neighborhood resistance.

        When you reconcile these two statements you’ve made today, and let us know where you think housing could be built in town, let us know.

      3. Ron

        Don:  “I am saying there are already hundreds of apartments within the vicinity of the Sterling proposal.”

        This sounds like an argument that the area already has more than it’s “fair share” of large-scale apartments.  Mark (above) made an argument against concentrating student housing in one area, stating that it can create students “mini student-cities/slums”.  I wouldn’t go that far, in my argument.  However, I have heard that a similar development on (nearby) Cantrill has created problems (e.g., disturbances) that required responses.

        I’d strongly disagree that traffic/congestion issues are a “red herring” regarding any large-scale development.  Trackside (which is even closer to the campus) is being downsized, due to neighborhood concerns.  (Admittedly, Trackside is in even closer proximity to surrounding residences.  However, it was a much smaller proposal to begin with.)

        I don’t think it’s wise to completely disregard the concerns of nearby neighbors, regarding any proposed development.  However, it seems that you are advocating for just that.

        There is room for negotiation, regarding Sterling (and any other proposed development).  (Especially when the developer is requesting a change to existing zoning, as is the case with the Sterling proposal.) I don’t think that anyone is advocating for a complete moratorium regarding construction of rental units in the city

        1. Mark West

          “Mark (above) made an argument against concentrating student housing in one area, stating that it can create students “mini-cities/slums””

          Ron, you have interpreted my comments incorrectly.  You have previously argued that student housing should be concentrated near campus.  I responded by saying it should be distributed around town, as the map Don posted clearly demonstrates.  I favor the Sterling project and see it as a continuation of that distribution of apartments throughout the neighborhoods. I do not favor concentrating all the student housing adjacent to the Campus.

        2. Ron

          Mark:

          I think it was reasonable to use your own argument.  As Don pointed out, the area already has a large amount of student housing (some of which has apparently created a problem).

          In contrast to the city, the University has an additional (unique) tool at its disposal, to deal with problems.  (The University has the ability to expel and evict particularly disruptive students, if needed.)

          In any case, I’d rather have the University assume responsibility for their growth plans and the impacts it will create.

          And again, I think it’s reasonable to (at least) scale-back the Sterling proposal, especially since the developer is requesting a change to existing zoning.

        3. Don Shor

          This sounds like an argument that the area already has more than it’s “fair share” of large-scale apartments.

          My, you keep shifting the argument. I was responding to your fallacious notion that Fifth Street is ‘far’ from campus.
          UCD promised years ago to house, I think, 38% of their students. They are not close to that. They need to build more student housing on campus. In the city, apartments were built in the 1980’s and 90’s in pretty high numbers, but (going to be precise here because I was corrected on this before) very little new apartment housing has been built in the last 16 to 18 years. With the enrollment increases over the last two decades, that means the city is no longer providing its “fair share” of housing either. Nobody is providing the housing that is needed. So people are crowding into single-family homes, and nearly 10,000 people are commuting in to campus every day.
          We need housing on campus. We need housing in town.

        4. Mark West

          Look at the map, Ron. The Sterling site is surrounded by commercial buildings, not by other apartments.  There are other apartments in the area, just as there are at several locations distributed around the City. Applying my statement to the Sterling site is factually incorrect, which seems to be your chosen approach today.

          The planning process is an ongoing negotiation between the developer and the City. I would expect the project to change as it goes through that process, and you are more than welcome to put forward your comments.

          “I don’t think that anyone is advocating for a complete moratorium regarding construction of rental units in the city”

          I think many of the emotionally driven comments that you and others frequently repeat are intended to push a zero-growth, no-development agenda, even if that goal is not stated specifically.

    2. Matt Williams

      Ron, using the path function of Google Earth, the distance from the driveway of the Families First site to the UCD MU is 1.71 miles.  The distance from West Village to the UCD MU is 1.63 miles.

      1. Ron

        Matt:

        Not sure if you’re putting forth an argument that the Families First site provides a shorter/easier commute to most of UC Davis than West Village.  Regardless, students don’t have to travel through many intersections through busy, central Davis from West Village.  I understand that there are other appropriate sites for on-campus housing, as well.

        Unlike facilities on the University, I believe that the relatively new and attractive Families First facility could potentially house other much-needed services for the community (e.g., senior housing?).  (Some of these uses might be even more “justified” than putting student housing there, especially since the University is in a unique position to reserve housing for students only, in a more convenient, safer location.)  It’s a waste to tear it down, and rezone it without carefully considering the options.  Again, by engaging in “speculative rezoning”, the city is likely allowing the price to rise out-of-reach for organizations that might put the existing facility to good use (without generating neighborhood opposition).

        Somehow, I think there’d be even more of an uproar regarding the proposed demolition and rezoning if this facility was located in central Davis (even closer to the University).  However, I understand that the central area is more dense and impacted.

        I agree with some of your earlier thoughts, in which you noted that the city seems to be entertaining individual proposals (piecemeal/reactive), instead of a more proactive planned approach.  By using a piecemeal approach, each individual development will have cumulative effects on traffic, congestion, etc.  And, these effects will not be adequately studied and considered, since no single development is responsible.  And, we’ll all lose.

        1. Matt Williams

          Ron, I am not putting forth an argument at all.  Simply sharing relevant factual data.

          As I said in a prior comment in this thread, the Sterling project is a very different one if the beds to parking spaces goes below 0.1.  The only way that can happen is if the target student residents use public transportation and/or bicycles for their daily commute to the UCD campus.

          The Rancho Yolo residents have formally submitted an argument that says the following.  They make a very good point.

          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.

  7. tj

    If the city failed to properly notify neighboring residents of the Sterling Project, and didn’t notify these residents (325 of them) about the Mitigated Negative Declaration, one has to wonder if there might be some major, even insurmountable, problems with the project.

  8. Ron

    Don:  “My, you keep shifting the argument”.

    That was your argument, not mine.  (You keep mentioning the large number of apartment in the area, to justify yet another very large one.)  I never mentioned this, until you brought it up as a justification.

    Again, I think it’s reasonable to scale-back the Sterling proposal, at least.  I think that’s a better approach than completely disregarding neighbors’ concerns, or arguing that there would be no impact on traffic/congestion or other problems from this large-scale proposed development.

    An argument could probably be made that there’s a legitimate demand to re-use existing facility (for a worthwhile purpose), as well. But, only if the city does not engage in speculative zoning changes (which increases the value/cost of the facility, putting it out of reach for many organizations).

    Regarding the University, I doubt that they’ve been subjected to this much pressure in the past, regarding their lack of campus housing.  Let’s take a breath, and let them respond.

  9. Miwok

    city of Davis pushed through a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) on the Hotel Conference Center, the city believed it was legally defensible,

    This statement sounds like the City knows it is wrong, but “sue us” if you want it done correctly?

  10. Eileen Samitz

    I am late to this discussion but I do not agree that Sterling Apartments should be allowed an EIR negative deceleration. This is a cumulative impacts issue which needs to be thoroughly examined with far more analysis. In my opinion, until the vote on Nishi Gateway is determined (and I am still opposed to Nishi Gateway for many reasons) none of these other projects should be decided on until we know the outcome of that election, and until UCD shows our City that the University is going to provide its own on-campus student housing needs as promised for almost three decades. This is not only for the sake of our community, but for the sake of the UCD students. UCD has been completely negligent in providing the on-campus housing that they committed to, but also knew that they would be needing. This is an issue that the Chancellor needs to prioritize now if she truly wants to put the needs of the UCD students first.

  11. Matt Williams

    David Greenwald said . . .  “The student site would include 727 beds along with 545 parking spaces”

    Setting aside the CEQA process issues for a moment, the statement above is, for me, the biggest and most important issue.  A parking space to beds ratio of 0.75 for a 100% UCD student apartment complex fundamentally destroys the City’s Climate Action Plan goals.  Sterling should be working hard to achieve the same kind of parking spaces to beds ratio as UCD’s Segundo, Tercero and Cuarto complexes achieve . . . with a ZipCar location filling a substantial portion of those spaces.  75 total parking spaces for the 727 beds is not an unreasonable goal.   

    Achieve a 0.1 parking spaces to beds ratio and the project becomes  an infinitely better neighbor . . . and a net positive contributor with respect to the City’s Climate Action Plan.

  12. Ron

    Matt:  “Achieve a 0.1 parking spaces to beds ratio and the project becomes  an infinitely better neighbor . . . and a net positive contributor with respect to the City’s Climate Action Plan.

    Agreed – thanks.  The number of parking spaces is one of my major concerns.  (However, I hope that the development would not become even larger, as a result of the elimination of parking spaces. The sheer size is also a concern.)

    Sometimes, I suspect that some might view the Mace Ranch area as a “dumping ground” for developments that are not wanted in other areas. Hopefully, I’m wrong about that.

    (I’m not going to look at further responses tonight.)

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