Cannery Comes Back for Another Bite: 24 Additional Units

Cannery-undercrossing

In November 2013, a divided city council voted 3-2 to approve the development agreement to put 547 units of various housing at Cannery.  However, that was not the end of the story, as the project has been riddled with controversy from the failure of the grade-separated crossing to the CFD (Community Facilities District), approved 3-2 by council after the fact, and now several weeks after the city hired Cannery’s former project manager for the planning department, Cannery is back requesting more.

On February 3, 2016, the city received a letter from Bonnie Chiu at the New Home Company, outlining the proposed changes to the Cannery Stacked Flat Condominiums for consideration.  This proposal would add 24 units, increasing the number of stacked flat condos from 96 in the originally approved development agreement to 120.

On March 5, the Vanguard wrote the article noting the hiring of former Cannery Project Manager Ashley Feeney.  In a release from Mike Webb, he noted, “After a lengthy search, in which a number of qualified applicants were considered, I’m pleased to announce that Ashley Feeney will be joining our team as the Assistant Community Development Director.  Ashley (or Ash as he likes to be called) comes to us with a background that includes both public and private sector experience in planning and community development.”

On March 14, 2016, Mr. Webb wrote a response letter to Ms. Chiu, outlining the proposed changes to the stacked flat condos.  Wrote Mr. Webb, “The proposal also includes minor adjustments to building setbacks and height. The changes potentially affect the Planning approvals and analysis related to The Cannery project and may require amendments and revisions to allow the proposed changes.”

Mr. Webb noted that “an amendment to the Preliminary Planned Development (PD 1-11) for the additional units is required.”  The changes “would not affect the Tentative Subdivision Map or Final Maps” and therefore, “No revisions to the approved maps are required.”

On affordable housing, “An Affordable Housing Plan was approved as part of The Cannery project and identified the project’s affordable housing obligations. Consistent with City requirements the Stacked Flat Condominium units did not trigger any affordable housing obligations… The proposed additional units would not add or change any of The Cannery’s affordable requirements.”  Therefore, “No amendment to the Affordable Housing Plan is required.”

However, it would require an amendment to the development agreement.  “Proposed changes would affect sections of the Development Agreement relative to the number of units on the Stacked Flat Condominium parcels and the overall development of The Cannery.”

The proposal includes adjustments to building setbacks and height to: “Reduce 10′ setback from building to property line to 9.4′ for four buildings on the east side of the west parcel.”  “Reduce 10′ setback from building to property line to 7.8′ for one building on the southeast corner of the east parcel.”  “Increase the maximum height of the building to 56′ from the 45′ height limitation in the Design Guidelines.”

Mr. Webb concluded, “Proposed changes may be approved with the Design Review as a minor deviation.”

With respect to the EIR, Mr. Webb found the increased units to be consistent.  “The proposed increase of 24 units is within the assumed number of units analyzed in the CEQA documents for the project,” he wrote.  “Although the proposed project for The Cannery consisted of 551 units, as described in Chapter 2.4 of the DEIR, the CEQA analysis was based on the NOP project description and assumed an upper limit of 61O total residential units and 236,000 square feet of mixed-use commercial, office and high density residential uses. “

He concluded, “The proposal for 24 additional units would be within the project scope of The Cannery EIR and consistent with the EIR analysis and conclusions, including Land Use, Traffic, and other topic areas.”

The Cannery was a controversial project throughout its inception.  Council ended up approving it with a 3-2 vote, with concerns expressed about the connectivity that were never fully resolved.

The Cannery then came back in 2014 and 2015 for council approval of a CFD.

Mayor Dan Wolk, in supporting the motion and providing the deciding vote, said, “There is no free lunch.” He said, “The homeowners are going to pay for infrastructure one way or another.”

However, Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis, while agreeing there is “no free lunch,” said he is “worried that people don’t pay for it more than once.” He argued that the reality is that, in this housing market, the demand is inelastic, and that “people won’t be able to bid down” the purchase price of their housing to accommodate the Mello-Roos.

Councilmember Brett Lee argued, “My concern here is that the residents here would be unwilling to support parcel tax measures in the future, the lion share typically going to support the schools.”

He added, “I also have a problem with the 40-year time horizon, it sets up a troublesome public policy dynamic to have a subset of the population paying essentially twice the number of taxes compared to the neighbors.”

To add fuel to the fire, it was later discovered that Dan Wolk during his 2014 State Assembly campaign had received sizable contributions from Ashley Feeney and the New Home Company.  In 2014 and 2016, Mr. Wolk has received more than $14,000 from the New Home Company and its principals.

Now the New Home Company is coming back for more in the form of 24 additional units.

—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.

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64 Comments

    1. David Greenwald

      It’s not an issue of cramped, it’s an issue that we had a long debate and discussion over the size of the project – agree or disagree with that size. Now they want to add on outside of the context of that original debate.

        1. Tia Will

          Mark West

          and it adds a type of housing that is in short supply in the City.”

          This is true. And a second type of housing in short supply in the City is affordable housing. So if the developer were to propose making each of these units affordable, thus killing two needed birds with one stone, I am on board.

        2. South of Davis

          Tia wrote:

          > This is true. And a second type of housing in short supply

          > in the City is affordable housing. So if the developer were

          > to propose making each of these units affordable, thus killing

          > two needed birds with one stone, I am on board.

          Does anyone know why cities only seem to make developers help the poor with “affordable” stuff?  Can anyone name another private business that is “forced” to give a discount to the poor (I know many business “chose” on their own to help the poor with discounts and pro bono work).  If Kaiser wanted to expand a city would not make them charge half price to people making 30% of median income and give a 25% break to families who make 60% of median (from what I have heard over the years Kaiser like all other hospitals charge the poor and uninsured MORE that the rich people that are members of a health plan and/or insured).  If the city really wanted to make things easier on the poor in addition to cheap housing they could force local business to lower the cost of other stuff the poor buy like beer, cigarettes, tattoos and custom rims for their cars and SUVs…

        3. The Pugilist

          You ask an interesting question but miss your own answer through the trees:

          ” If Kaiser wanted to expand a city would not make them charge half price to people making 30% of median income and give a 25% break to families who make 60% of median (from what I have heard over the years Kaiser like all other hospitals charge the poor and uninsured MORE that the rich people that are members of a health plan and/or insured). ”

          Kaiser doesn’t need the city to do that because there are state programs like MediCal and Cover California that provide that.  So I think you are actually asking the wrong question which should be – why does the state and federal government not do more to provide affordable housing?

        4. South of Davis

          The Puligist wrote:

          > Kaiser doesn’t need the city to do that because

          > there are state programs like MediCal and Cover

          > California that provide that. 

          If a poor guy goes in to a Kaiser emergency room with his arm ripped open (like a friend a few years back) Kaiser will not bill the “state” they will bill him (at a HUGE price) and ruin his credit if he can’t pay.

          If “state programs like MediCal and Covered California: took care of the people that were poor “Healthcare costs would not be “the number-one cause of personal bankruptcy and responsible for more collections than credit cards.”

          http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/10/why-americans-are-drowning-in-medical-debt/381163/

          Yet as far as I know of the only people the government forces to provide discounts for the poor are developers (if new home developments need “affordable” units why not make car dealers sell some “affordable” models below market to poor people every year?)

  1. Tia Will

    “Proposed changes may be approved with the Design Review as a minor deviation.”

    For any who wonder why some in the community have a distrust for the claims of developers, look no further. I have commented repeatedly that I did not see MRIC proposal with housing as a “bait and switch” on the part of the developer. This, however, is in my mind is the classic example of a true “bait and switch”.

    I see this not as a “minor deviation” but as one drop of water joining others in the relentless wearing away of the original agreement, which as David pointed out was controversial even as initially approved. First there was the “failure” of promised connectivity, then the CFD in which the majority interpreted the word “may” to mean “sure, let’s do it !” and now let’s build more units…..and by the way…..let’s make sure they don’t carry an affordability requirement with them.

    There is one way that I would consider this reasonable and that is if all the additional units were affordable.

    1. Mark West

      The only way to get truly affordable housing in Davis is to build more housing. Affordable housing through government mandate is nothing more than a tax on everyone to appease those who want to ‘feel good’ about helping the disadvantaged while not having to do anything substantial to address their issues.  The Affordable Housing program in Davis is an embarrassment, rife with mismanagement and should be shut down, not expanded.

      1. Tia Will

        Mark West

        Affordable housing through government mandate is nothing more than a tax on everyone to appease those who want to ‘feel good’ about helping the disadvantaged while not having to do anything substantial to address their issues.”

        This is an inaccurate portrayal of my position. I have stated repeatedly that I am willing to do many things that would be substantial to address their issues. I have volunteered my own time to provide health care on the individual level, to train others to do the same, and to improve public programs. I am more than willing to pay much more in taxes to help those who are not as affluent as I.  I have called for two year programs for training much as is provided by the military to teach young people jobs skills and would provide this for all after high school. I have called for free college or post high school training so that everyone has the opportunity to follow their own interests. I have called for universal single party payor health care and for a UBI. I am not trying to avoid doing something substantial and I do not feel that I can be held accountable for others unwillingness to institute programs that would help the economically disadvantaged.

        And finally, I fail to see what is wrong with “feeling good” about what one is doing when attempting to help others. Can you honestly say that you do not pursue activities that make you “feel good” ?  If not, I find that a little sad.

    2. Mark West

      “First there was the “failure” of promised connectivity,”

      The community had options for what amenities we asked for from the developers. Had connectivity been the high priority item, we would have it.  Instead, we asked for a toy farm to act as a buffer between the project and the ag land directly East, land which everyone knows will be eventually developed. Don’t blame the developer for our bad choices and poor priorities.

      “then the CFD in which the majority interpreted the word “may” to mean “sure, let’s do it !”

      This was a choice that our elected officials made on our behalf.  If you don’t like the decision, elect someone else.

      and now let’s build more units…..and by the way…..let’s make sure they don’t carry an affordability requirement with them.

      The requested new units are high-density housing and thus exempt from the ordinance.  If we are concerned about having affordable housing in town we would have asked the developer to build more of these units in the first place.

       

  2. Jim Frame

    “Mr. Wolk has received more than $14,000 from the New Home Company and its principles.”

    Although David probably meant to type “principals” rather than “principles,” I think either one works.

    1. Miwok

      The people in Davis sure don’t recognize or recuse themselves from Conflicts of Interest. Should serve them well when they get elected to the state offices they covet.

  3. Misanthrop

    “Although the proposed project for The Cannery consisted of 551 units, as described in Chapter 2.4 of the DEIR, the CEQA analysis was based on the NOP project description and assumed an upper limit of61O total residential units and 236,000 square feet of mixed-use commercial, office and high density residential uses. “

    So there is nothing here but a small news story. Yet David then manipulates the story into another gratuitous attack on Dan Wolk suggesting that Dan’s only purpose in voting for the Cannery was a quid pro quo for campaign cash. Of course nothing could be farther from the truth and David’s regular hit pieces against Dan seem to be more about Dan’s opponent buying ad space at the Davis Vanguard. Is the Davis Vanguard  pay to play? Yes David, two can play that game.  Dan voted for the Cannery because Davis needs more housing and you ought to know that David. Still you take another gratuitous shot at Dan implying that someone who runs for office and is at the mercy of our campaign finance system is guilty of corruption. This of course is a charge that every candidate is vulnerable to being attacked on because of our electoral system and hopefully the voters will see through your constant hit pieces against Dan.  People who benefitted economically from a vote Dan made in the due course of the business of governance of the city donated to his campaign. In a case where the cart is rightly in front of the horse David is trying to imply the opposite. Its shameful David.

        1. nameless

          To The Pugilist: But another CEQA is not necessary, which gives The Cannery the wiggle room it needs to ask for “de minimus” changes in the DA.  I don’t see any of the changes being asked for as other than “de minimus”.  But for those who never liked the Cannery, they will latch on to this request as a reason this project should never have been built, and the reason there should be absolutely no changes no matter how de minimus.

        2. The Pugilist

          Another CEQA isn’t necessary because when you do a CEQA analysis you don’t know the exact number of units.  But that’s not the key to this – the key is that this triggers council consent, which is significant and contentious and raises a whole host of issues as laid out in this article and by the coments.

        1. hpierce

          Pugilist… quoting from your 9:24 post…

          It requires a new Development Agreement

          Then you respond, as if I had quoted you wrong,

          “However, it would require an amendment to the development agreement.”

          There is at least one presidential candidate who would love to get your talents in trying to spin what was said/written…

          And depending on the language ACTUALLY in the DA, it may only require an “operating memorandum” if the other zoning/map act pieces are processed/approved…

          It is increasingly evident that you do not understand DA, Zoning, and SMA laws/processes…

           

  4. The Pugilist

    This is messed up.  This project has not delivered what they have promised.  They have truly taken community assets for the CFD.  And now they are asking for more units for their otherwise unaffordable project.  You have the Mayor taking huge money from the developers and the city hiring the project manager as a planner.  WTF?

    And Misanthrop wants to put this on the Vanguard? Are you kidding me?

    1. South of Davis

      The Pugilist wrote:

      >  They have truly taken community assets for the CFD

      Can you explain how they have “taken” “community assets” (and name the specific “community assets” that have been “taken”)?

        1. South of Davis

          The Pugilist wrote:

          > You can read the CFD debate from last year

          I did read the “debate from last year”.  I know why many didn’t want the CFD, but I can’t “name any specific “community assets that have been taken”.  I’m just looking for one word (name the “community asset” that has been “taken”) and it seems like if you could name even one (of the multiple “assets” you claim were taken) you would have posted it…

        2. The Pugilist

          My problem is I feel like you prefer to play games rather than have an honest discussion.  From my view, the developers when Nishi passed council promised certain things then a year later they turned around to ask the residents to pay for them.

        3. South of Davis

          The Pugilst wrote:

          > My problem is I feel like you prefer to play

          > games rather than have an honest discussion.

          I was just asking you to clarify a simple point (that I honestly don’t understand) and you post multiple times without answering my simple question then say I’m the one “playing games”…

          > when Nishi passed council promised certain things

          What does Nishi have to do with more units at the Cannery?

        4. The Pugilist

          Sorry Nishi on my mind, typed Nishi, meant Cannery.  You can look at the development agreement there were all sorts of things that they promised the community that ended up that the residents will pay for.

        5. Mark West

          “there were all sorts of things that they promised the community that ended up that the residents will pay for.”

          Don’t be silly, the residents were going to pay for the demanded toys all along, everyone involved knew that.  The notion that the amenities were coming out of the developers profits is nonsense, they just made the project more expensive for those who decide to live there. When it comes to development costs we are our own worst enemies. Most of the demands put forward by activists just add costs to the project, without adding value to the community.

        6. South of Davis

           The Pugilist wrote:

          > You can look at the development agreement there were

          > all sorts of things that they promised the community that

          > ended up that the residents will pay for.

          So they didn’t “take” any “community assets” from anyone, they just lowered the price of the homes letting the new residents (with no money from the existing Davis “community” members) pay for the improvements around their homes over time with a CFD rather than up front.  The people looking for a home in Davis with $800K+ have a lot of options they can buy a new home in the Cannery on a tiny lot or get an older home on a much bigger lot in a non CFD neighborhood.

  5. dlemongello

    The footprint to total square footage ratio in minimized when growing up, not out, and considering land cost as a major factor, this is an opportunity to build more simply and create something more affordable by that means  instead of subsidizing in order to create affordable housing.  In other words lowering cost by lowering value, not in quality but in less than necessary amenities and spaciousness.  However I seriously doubt they have any such thing in mind.

  6. Alan Miller

    Like all development, the possibility exists to improve city facilities by requiring the developer to make certain improvements as part of the development agreement.

    One of the greatest hopes for alternate-transportation connectivity appeared initially to be solved by the Cannery:  The H Street tunnel improvements and a N-S connection along the east side of the tracks, under Covell overpass, to the Cannery (also connecting to bike paths along Covell).  This would have been an incredible, grade-separated path for school children and others to get under Covell and east or west on the existing bike paths to elementary, junior high and high schools.

    But NO, the property owners along the right-of-way got difficult, and the City’s 3-Pro-Coucilmembers let them build Cannery anyway, and now there is virtually no chance that connection will ever be built.  I also blame the owners of Cranbrook Court.  That connection project is apparently all but dead, and the City is scrambling to build alternate crossings on the north end of H Street or across the tracks north of Covell — both are extremely less attractive locations.

    My take here is simple:  You want your 24 extra units?  MAKE the H Street Tunnel connection happen.  Whatever it takes:  negotiate with the owners of Cranbrook (difficult) and/or Union Pacific (damn near impossible).  Now the ball would be in Cannery’s Court.

    Why do we keep GIVING to Cannery and getting back NOTHING of value to the City?

    Build the H Street Bike Connection!

    1. hpierce

      Not sure this is current info, but the owners of Cranbrook overlap heavily with the owners of the Covell Village property… why would they come to the table?  The irony is that if the Cannery property and Covell Village sites had been jointly planned, a lot of problems with either would have gone away, and/or significantly mitigated.  Both property owners resisted that.  Self inflicted wounds, in my opinion.  The community will suffer for that, IMO.

      If the City community wants that connection to H Street, they can have it… ’eminent domain’ for the right of way… $$$$ for compensation for the right of way, and the improvements…  perhaps we should have a community vote to decide both the determination to acquire the right-of-way, and how to fund it all. This is a practical matter, not a philosophical matter.

       

  7. skeptical

    Why do we keep GIVING to Cannery and getting back NOTHING of value to the City?

    Because voters elected Lucas Frerichs, Rochelle Swanson, and Dan Wolk.

    1. Misanthrop

      Actually what you are getting in this case are 24 more lower priced units and the cost is a small change in a few setbacks. The silliness of this is that this will be a 5-0 council vote for approval and anywhere outside of Davis where there is this weird phobia about housing nobody cares about these things. In a normal town this would be an amended submission and a consent calendar issue. As for putting this on David as another frivolous attack on Dan it seems he hasn’t denied the charge.

      Dlemongello has this exactly right. The hilarious irony here is that people who purport to be for housing that is affordable but simply use that to deflect their opposition to everything expose their actual intentions by buying into David’s pretext for attacking Dan.

        1. Misanthrop

          Cannery is not perfect but it does add housing to a city that needs lots of housing. I actually get it on housing it means more people, adds to traffic, takes up space. But Davis is a prosperous place that helps people add both economic and intellectual value to their lives and these people need somewhere to live. I wonder do you get that?

      1. Tia Will

        Misantrop

        It is entirely possible to believe that the Cannery was a bad project without feeling that Mayor Wolk has done anything nefarious. The two ideas do not have to be linked.

      2. David Greenwald

        Misanthrop:

        “The silliness of this is that this will be a 5-0 council vote for approval”

        As it stands now, I don’t believe it will be a 5-0 vote unless a significant deal is cut

        “As for putting this on David as another frivolous attack on Dan it seems he hasn’t denied the charge.”

        That’s only because I considered your charge the equivalent of asking me if I stopped beating my wife.  This whole process is corrupt and even though I might feel that adding 24 stacked flats would be a good thing, I cannot support this on process issues alone.

    1. Matt Williams

      Frankly, is it really a matter of process?

      The addition of 24 units to the Cannery should come with a fiscal benefit to the City.  For the purposes of cogitation I have shared some thoughts about that fiscal benefit below.

      From a simplified economic perspective, it is arguable that the City should receive Development Impact Fees for a 24-unit development, and given that New Home Company has $0 of land costs and $0 of infrastructure costs, development impact fees more in the range of a 41-unit development like Grande seem appropriate.

      Another alternative is that 24 units increases the number of units by 4.4%, so it is arguable that the amount of compensation/value the City receives should be no less than 4.4% of the original aggregate compensation the City received from the Development Agreement.  Here too the $0 of land costs and $0 of infrastructure costs for new Home Company for these units warrants a compensation higher than 4.4%.

      1. The Pugilist

        I first brought up Measure R and I disagree that it has nothing to do with this discussion because it creates a threshold that a project has to climb over and we see in its absence a process that is fraught with problems.

        1. Misanthrop

          Actually, Cannery was still subject to a potential referendum as is any project anywhere in California. Its a high bar but, in Davis generally and Cannery specifically, it was a real concern as the plan was being developed. So even though no election was held ballot box politics are partly responsible for the form and structure of Cannery.

  8. Topcat

    One thing that everyone seems to have missed is that there will be a need for more parking for the additional cars that 24 additional units will bring in.  For a typical Davis resident, each condo unit will mean two additional cars.  In addition, there will be a need for additional parking for visitors.  These additional units will require about 60 more parking spots.

    I would like to see what the developer’s plans are for all these additional cars.

  9. cyclrn

    As a New Home buyer, a appreciate the interest shown by all contributors to this posting.  As an “insider”, my wife and I have seen New Home behaviors which are troubling…perhaps this is how all developers behave.  We have seen “bait and switch”…reverse osmosis units had been included initially, then removed; the base units are sub-optimal so significant increase in price to bring up to what we want, in the form of “options”, are needed; the price is completely non-negotiable; New Home advertises that solar upgrades are possible, only to learn that “our unit” (d/t orientation and roof size) only qualifies for the base solar configuration, (New Home should have been more transparent, stating “some units can have solar upgrade); the subdivision does have a “snug” feel already and shrinking property lines further, seems very challenging.  Having said all that, we are excited about our decision and see it as an adventure.  For the development to have real value; however, city elected officials need to continue to advocate for the citizens of Davis (new and old) and require Give, as well as Take, from New Home.  I hope City Council has the backbone to demand something in return for a substantial benefit to New Home.

  10. dlemongello

    But unfortunately, probably the other thing I  have right is that, as I mentioned, they have no intention of building something “affordable” if they get these additional units. I’m not talking about complying with ordinances, I’m talking about not building something  ridiculously expensive  like there rest of the housing there.  I also do not think they should put them any closer together.

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