Nishi Ballot Arguments

Proposed Nishi Gateway site. The current development plans would leave the trees intact and incorporate them into the project.
Proposed Nishi Gateway site. The current development plans would leave the trees intact and incorporate them into the project.

Editor’s note: The following are ballot arguments for and against the Nishi Gateway Measure R project, Measure A.

Argument in Favor of Measure A

The Nishi Gateway project has been designed over several years with significant community input and in close collaboration with University of California at Davis.

It meets a number of critical City needs including dense housing and new commercial and research space close to campus and downtown. The project is located next to the Arboretum, is connected to existing bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and is within walking distance of the train station. The site provides a route for Unitrans double-decker buses into South Davis.

The City’s Finance and Budget Commission, after careful review, concluded that the project will provide an annual net fiscal benefit to the City. Additionally, it will generate up to $9,000,000 in one-time fees to the City and $400,000 annually for the Davis Joint Unified School District.

The project cannot proceed until the Richards Boulevard interchange has been improved, and a second access point to campus at Old Davis Road—paid for by the developer—is under construction. Independent estimates indicate that the 325,000 sf of research park will bring approximately 1,500 jobs to the City and additional 1,750+ to the County.

The project will provide 440 multi-family rental units oriented towards students at the edge of campus obviating the need for car travel for residents. It will provide 210 stacked flat condos near downtown for workers and seniors. All residential housing will be 5-6 stories with small units—filling a critical need.

4.9 megawatts of solar photovoltaics will supply 85% of electricity used on site. Both the project site and buildings will be LEED certified (or equivalent). Low parking ratios and onsite paid parking, along with peak-hour exit parking fees will reduce traffic impacts around the site. The project has been endorsed by 10 former councilmembers and is supported by the Davis Chamber of Commerce, Davis Downtown, Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG), and ASUCD.

We urge you to vote YES on MEASURE A.

Dan Wolk


Robb Davis

Mayor Pro Tem

Lucas Frerichs

Council Member

Brett Lee

Council Member

Rochelle Swanson

Argument Against Measure A

The Nishi project is driven by developer profits and meets neither community housing needs nor Davis’ standards for sustainability and affordability.

According to independent analysis, Nishi has uncertain but potentially negative financial benefits for the city which will not even be realized for 5-10 years, if ever. Meanwhile, it will cost taxpayers millions of dollars for required upgrades to City streets servicing the project for which the developer will contribute only a fraction of costs.

Even with these “improvements”, experts cannot confirm Nishi-related traffic will not cause gridlock along Richards Blvd. Traveling through the Richards Blvd. tunnel into or out of downtown is unbearable now and this project will make it immeasurably worse.

Nishi’s housing will not be affordable nor designed for students as promised. Because the City exempted the project from its low-income housing requirements and millions in alternative in-lieu fees, Nishi’s housing will all be luxury rental apartments and for-sale condominiums. Independent analysis projects rent for an average 1,100 sq. ft. 2-bedroom, 2-bath apartment at over $2400 a month!

Nishi functionally destroys the City’s Climate Action Plan goals. Building standards will only meet current City minimum requirements with no provisions to mitigate any of the annual 24 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions the project is projected to produce.

Air quality at Nishi will be the most polluted in the region according to experts. Because the project is sandwiched in a low-lying area between the highly congested freeway and heavily-used railroad tracks, natural accumulation of metals, hydrocarbons, and ozone will render Nishi air completely unfit for breathing by young children and expectant mothers. Studies show that children living near freeways can suffer significant permanent loss of lung capacity among other serious health problems.

Please Vote No on Nishi – No on Measure A

Alan Pryor

Commissioner, City of Davis Natural Resources Commission;

Mark Spencer

Former Commissioner, City of Davis Planning Commission and Liaison to Open Space Commission

Pam Nieberg

Former Co-Chair, Yes on Measure O (City of Davis Open Space Ordinance)

Joaquin Chavez

Co-Chair, Davis Citizens for a Living Wage

Vice-President, University Professional and Tecnical Employees (UPTE- CWA Local 9119) – AFL-CIO

Nancy Price

Rebuttal to Argument Against Measure A

Opponents are using inaccurate information to misrepresent and attack the project. The baseline project features and environmental impact report, UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL encompass the facts:

  • After the developer fixes Richards Blvd. and pays for a new access road to campus, traffic will be reduced to “less than significant”.
  • All buildings are “30% more energy efficient” than codes and LEED certified. City’s greenhouse gas goals are fully incorporated. Up to 80% will travel by bike.
  • Air quality is fully mitigated by planting a forest buffer and placing all residential units far from 1-80 near the UCD Arboretum, Putah Creek Parkway, Mondavi Center, Davis Bike Loop, and downtown.
  • Nishi is a “model for sustainable development for the region,” ranking #1 in California, and it received grant funding.

With NO NEW TAXES, Nishi generates:

  • $1,400,000 annually for city services
  • $400,000 annually for local schools
  • $300,000,000 annually in economic activity
  • 1500 new jobs near campus

Students, seniors, and workers need affordable, small, efficient multifamily units in the core area within walking distance of campus and downtown. This reduces costs of living, car trips, traffic, and our carbon footprint.

Davis must plan proactively with our neighbor UCD using Smart Growth principles including a mix of housing choices, transportation options, efficient land use, sustainable growth, economic opportunity, a vibrant downtown, while preserving natural resources.

For decades, Davis has been a leader in education and sustainable principles. Nishi invests in our future and continues this legacy.

Join Us: Vote Yes on Measure A –

John Mott-Smith

Davis Resident

Delaine Eastin

Former Superintendent of Public Instruction

Maynard Skinner

Former Mayor

Cass Sylvia

Yolo County Public Guardian

Michael Corbett

Rebuttal Against the Argument in Favor of Measure A

There are numerous misleading statements in the Argument in Favor of Measure A.

  • Proponents claim there will be “up to $9,000,000 in one time fees paid to the City” but fail to note these will only come after 5-10 years (if ever) because payments are tied to construction completion. Meanwhile, taxpayers will pay millions more for local road upgrades required by the project.
  • Rental units are not “oriented towards students…with small units”, as claimed, Instead, apartments are very large (average is 1,100 sq ft 2-bedroom, 2- bath) and affordable only to the richest students.
  • The claim that the project’s solar system will supply 85% of electricity used onsite” is misleading. Instead, the developer proposes to sell the entire solar electrical output for profit to another wholesale buyer so Nishi tenants will actually receive no direct solar or financial benefit.

Further, noted UC Davis academics oppose Nishi because of the “Significant and Unavoidable” adverse air quality impacts as noted in the project’s Environmental Impact Report. Due to the project’s low-lying location between the congested freeway and heavily-used railway, dangerous pollutants can accumulate onsite. Children and expectant mothers are particularly susceptible to permanent respiratory and developmental problems due to long-term exposure to these transportation-related pollutants.

The Nishi project will generate substantial developer profits but provide no significant fiscal benefits to our community nor address our need for truly affordable and sustainable housing. Instead it risks traffic gridlock and jeopardizing the respiratory health of our most vulnerable residents.

Please Vote No on Nishi – No on Measure A

Marilee Hanson

Commissioner, City of Davis Planning Commission;

Johannes Troost

Former Chair, City of Davis Finance and Budget Commission

Steve Tracy

Former Manager, Long Range Transportation Planning Team, County of Sacramento

Susan Rainier, AIA

Former UC Davis Senior Project Manager for Mondavi Center and Graduate School of Management Building (Both LEED-Platinum Certified)

Chair, United States Green Building Council (USGBC) – Sacramento

Duane Wright


About The Author

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

Related posts

8 thoughts on “Nishi Ballot Arguments”

  1. Anon

    Nishi’s housing will all be luxury rental apartments and for-sale condominiums. Independent analysis projects rent for an average 1,100 sq. ft. 2-bedroom, 2-bath apartment at over $2400 a month!

    Put four students in a 2 bedroom apartment, which is reasonable, each student can probably afford $600 per month…

  2. Alan Pryor

    Compare $2,400+ for a 2-bedroom apartment at Nishi to $1,200 – $1,400 for a normal 2-bdrm apt in Davis and it does not seem so reasonable then. Nishi will be affordable only to rich students.

    1. South of Davis

      Alan wrote:

      > Compare $2,400+ for a 2-bedroom apartment at Nishi to

      > $1,200 – $1,400 for a normal 2-bdrm apt in Davis

      Keep in mind that the rents developers estimate to get financing are high about as often as the total cost governments estimate for projects are low (both almost all the time).

      P.S. a payment of $2,400/month would pay off a $520K loan at the current average 30-year loan rate I found at

      P.P.S. You could BUY this nice 2 bedroom condo in Davis (with garage parking) with a mortgage payment of about 1,000/month after making a 3% down payment.

  3. Justice4All

    if you put 2 students in each apartment, 1200 a month in rent is literally more than a full time minimum wage worker makes in a given month. Thats insanity.

    1. South of Davis

      Justice4All wrote:

      > if you put 2 students in each apartment, 1200 a month in rent

      > is literally more than a full time minimum wage worker makes

      > in a given month. Thats insanity.

      Not as insane as $2,600/month to lease a car:

      Not many people pay $2,600/month to lease a car and I don’t think that anyone in Davis is paying $2,400/month to lease a two bedroom apartment.  Just because a developer “estimates” they will get $2,400/month does not make that the rent people will pay…

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