First Take: MRIC Decision Is a Game Changer

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Developer Dan Ramos discusses the project during January Vanguard Event
Developer Dan Ramos discusses the project during January Vanguard event

It was 3 p.m. on a normal Wednesday when the news broke, “Mace Ranch Innovation Center Project on Hold.”

As explained in the press release, the 212-acre proposed project at the northeast corner of Mace Boulevard and Interstate 80, with its anticipated 5900 jobs and $2.2 million to $6 million in ongoing revenue, was put on hold based on the new EPS (Economic & Planning Systems, Inc.) report which concluded that “the project might not be feasible given that only 128 acres or 60 percent of the site are considered developable and that infrastructure costs are high.  The estimated infrastructure costs of more than $50 million are four times the industry standard for similar projects, according to the project sponsors.”

“We remain highly committed to the project but need to figure out how to make it work,” said Dan Ramos, project manager.  “We appreciate the efforts of city staff to move our project forward and are disappointed that we have to take this step.  We’ve invested considerable funds, gathered a significant amount of community feedback and taken substantially more time than is customary to process our proposal.”

The Vanguard later spoke to developer Dan Ramos and got reactions from some of the key players in the city.

Dan Ramos explained that the major concern was the fiscal viability of the project, which he called “challenging.” He said, “Right now, to make the capital investments that need to be made to make that project work, the way it’s designed and some of the requirements there, it’s very challenging.”

Mr. Ramos said they are going to “take a pause and see if it makes sense to keep investing the capital into this project.” But they are not giving up on the project yet. He said, “There are a lot of ways to try to correct the project and make it work.”  He added that they are going to “stop spending money until we figure this out.”

Mr. Ramos noted that they have already completed the EIR (Environmental Impact Report) and a lot of other studies with community inputs.

The Vanguard asked Dan Ramos if this means that housing is back on the table.

He responded, “I would hope that there can be a discussion about it – a rational discussion – and how it relates to good planning in today’s 21st century environment of how these business parks are developed.”  He said the fundamental question that has to be answered is if “we create jobs, where are these people going to live?  From an environmental standpoint the closer we can get them into the project the better it’s going to be for everybody.”

The Vanguard sought an official response from the city – but the city has at press time not been able to release a formal statement.

Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis, who along with Councilmember Rochelle Swanson sits on the subcommittee that is representing the council on these projects, told the Vanguard on Wednesday, “I am disappointed to arrive at this pause after all the hard work by staff and commission members. I will note that EPS highlighted the question of feasibility without housing in their original fiscal analysis. Staff and the Council subcommittee will meet with the proponents to discuss next steps.”

Councilmember Rochelle Swanson, in a phone message to the Vanguard, said, “This news is very disappointing.”  She said that from the beginning she has been saying that “this is an essential piece to our (having) a truly balanced long-term sustainable budget for our community to sustain our quality of life which can capture the asset of UC Davis and give the graduates as well community members meaningful opportunities to have fulfilling cutting edge careers so we can change things in the future.”

“Robb and I as the subcommittee and leaders are committed to sit down and work with the applicant’s team and reach out to other partners and truly look and see what are our options.  We’re not willing to give up… they’re putting it on pause, we’re going to see what we can do moving forward,” she added.

Will Arnold, one of the candidates for city council, told the Vanguard, “Despite this setback, I remain deeply committed to fulfilling the recommendations of the citizen-based Innovation Park Task Force, and leveraging the knowledge and talent stemming from UC Davis to the maximum benefit for our community.”

Matt Williams, another candidate for city council, said, “Regarding the withdrawal of MRIC, looking backward is an interesting intellectual exercise, but it isn’t going to change the fact that our efforts to expand/diversify our revenue sources just evaporated.  The job of the next Council just got significantly harder. It became even more demanding than it already was expected to be.”

Jason Taormino, Vice Chair of the Davis Chamber of Commerce, issued a statement on Wednesday, “The Davis Chamber of Commerce believes we have lost the best chance in twenty years to welcome new businesses to town and maintain our quality of life.”

He continued, “The ever increasing unfunded liabilities of the City of Davis and diminishing services can only be reversed through increased taxes or new business growth.  Davis is competing, and losing, to other towns in our region when it comes to attracting business and creating long term sustainable revenue sources.  The Chamber encourages those with power and influence in town, including government, to lead and provide for the next generation – not relying solely on taxes, decreased services and crumbling infrastructure.

“Ultimately, the lack of a major innovation and technology center in Davis will result in the status quo of few jobs for our children and grandchildren and a continuation of the daily commute to Sacramento, the Bay Area and to other neighboring towns,” the statement continued. “We commend the Ramos Group for their long term commitment to the City of Davis and for their valiant efforts and major investment of time, money and resources to fully satisfy the expectations of the Davis community.”

There are key questions now – will housing come back on the table?  Is this pause just a chance to change course or is this the end of the project?

From their perspective, Dan Ramos said they want to consider all their options.

In his statement he said, “We want to develop a true state of the art innovation center that’s worthy of the site and the City of Davis, that can withstand the test of time, and that all of Davis can be proud of.”

“Through this process we’ve concluded that one way to make the center more feasible is to include workforce housing in addition to the innovation space, which along with providing environmental benefits would help the project build out faster and more quickly generate needed revenue for the city.  Potential tech users from Davis and elsewhere have indicated that they are looking for well-planned projects where their employees can live, work and play,” Mr. Ramos said.

 “We also need to explore other potential funding avenues such as the establishment of an enhanced infrastructure financing district, state grants, and cap and trade funding opportunities to improve the project’s economics.  We will need to be very creative,” said Mr. Ramos.

What that means for the city, and its prospects for economic development and revenue, remains to be seen.

—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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147 thoughts on “First Take: MRIC Decision Is a Game Changer”

  1. Barack Palin

    “I would hope that there can be a discussion about it – a rational discussion

    We didn’t have a rational discussion before?  Possibly is the only discussion that’s considered rational by some is one where housing ends up being included in the project?

    David, how is this a game changer?

    or is it possibly more a case of playing games?

    I’m just asking because I don’t know, but I do know I’m very skeptical.

     

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      It’s a game changer because Davis Innovation Center is gone, MRIC might be gone, so the major planks of the Innovation Park Task Force’s dispersed strategy are now off the table at least for the moment and at the same time, we are facing a $32 million per year shortfall of funding for critical infrastructure. You think it’s a game – I think this city is in trouble. Who is going to want to risk millions to invest in economic development here?

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        Those who are arguing we can do this in parcel taxes – you realize how big a parcel tax would have to be to cover $32 million a year?

        1. CalAg

          Even if the dispersed innovation strategy could cover the entire $32M (which it can’t), the revenue would ramp up very slowly over the course of 20+ years.

          Ramos is still building out the Mace Ranch industrial land on 2nd Street, and they’ve been working on that for over 25 years.

          And while they have done significant amounts of R&D development, they have also been actively trying to consume their holdings with non-R&D users. They were allowed to upzone a big chunk for the Target Center, and have been busy putting in retail commercial uses on the south side of 2nd Street that probably should have gone downtown. Had none of this happened, they would still have a long ways to go to build out what they got in the 1987 Mace Ranch Specific Plan.

        2. The Pugilist

          There are also one-time impact fees.  But I agree, economic development doesn’t get us out of this mess.  BTW, I haven’t seen you offer a solution.

      2. Barack Palin

        “Who is going to want to risk millions to invest in economic development here?”

        I thought these developers were.  I thought they got the project that they originally designed and wanted. Are you telling me that they didn’t know and all of a sudden that some epiphany struck that only 60% of the site is developable?  How come the buildout will cost four times more than the industry standard and are you telling me that they had no idea prior?  There’s many questions that need to be asked and answered.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          Those are reasonable questions. I think they had to know some of this coming in. But I also think there is another factor here and that is risk. You risk a huge amount going forward – perhaps the profit margin is not enough on the back end to risk the costs on the front end.

        2. The Pugilist

          I think the reality of the uphill battle between Measure R votes, legal issues, and costs have sunk in.  The EPS report was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back.

        3. CalAg

          BP: You are correct. They knew all this going in. The Ramos and Oates organizations are large, highly qualified Sacramento development firms; and this type of development is right in their wheel house. The claim being made by some that they expended significant capital trying to understand if their proforma would pencil is ludicrous.

          As I’ve posted before, in my opinion the RFEI bait and the workforce housing switch was baked in to the strategy from the beginning – probably before the RFEI was even issued.

        4. hpierce

          I may be wrong, but I have another “take” on this… I believe that there is a”bait and switch” going on, but not necessarily on the developers’ side….

          City put out requests for proposals, excluding housing… there were a couple of proposals… as environmental work proceeded, traffic issues were identified… and whether it was City staff, or the developers, or both, identified that a mitigation for those would be workforce housing.  It could well have been a City staff “bait and switch”, with a subsequent “back-pedal”, when there was blow-back as to housing.

          I find it very interesting that ~ half of those who want to see no peripheral development say “they might consider it if it doesn’t include housing”, and the other half say “they might consider it, but only if it includes housing”.  A no-win set of positions… damned if you do, or… but that makes sense if peripheral growth is “verboten”… a ‘conspiracy’?  Not sure those folk are intelligent enough to play that game… will assume folk really don’t know what they want… I think the community is saying we’re thinking of a number between one and fifty, with no common idea of what that number is, and the developer has to guess what that number is.  Measure R/J, after all, is a game of numbers.

          As Rod Serling might say… “for your consideration, is there ‘bait & switch’, and if so, is it the developer, City staff, and/or the community responsible?”

          I don’t know, but I suspect it is not as simple as certain folk would like to portray it…

        5. CalAg

          “~ half of those who want to see no peripheral development say “they might consider it if it doesn’t include housing”, and the other half say “they might consider it, but only if it includes housing” hpierce

          The first position seemed pretty legit. The only reason the RFEI got traction was the the staff and council sold a 100% R&D vision; and a healthy number of no-growth activists signed on. If you watch the hearing, the council was pitching  the no-housing restriction pretty hard. This was a very solid foundation to get the project approved. Ramos blew it.

          The second position seemed to mostly emerge after the plan was green-washed in the EIR and technical documents That seemed to be pretty convenient for the proponents, and a bit contrived to me. The same thing happened with Nishi, and the support collapsed when Alan Pryor et al finally got a clue that the project wasn’t going to be as green as they wanted.

           

        6. hpierce

          CalAg… do not disagree with your response to my post… am just trying to point out that there are more than one fingers in this “bait & switch” pie… as a community, we’re all over the place, at least as seen in this forum.  As you pointed out,I believe correctly, there are some who ‘pledge their allegiance’ and ‘hold their nose’, when they believe they are “getting their way”, then shift 180 degrees if they lose one scintilla of their ‘demands’.  Sorta’ a type of ‘passive-aggressive’?

        7. Matt Williams

          hpierce said . . . “As Rod Serling might say… “for your consideration, is there ‘bait & switch’, and if so, is it the developer, City staff, and/or the community responsible?”

          Well said hpierce.  Very well said.

          CalAg said . . . “The same thing happened with Nishi, and the support collapsed when Alan Pryor et al  finally got a clue that the project wasn’t going to be as green as they wanted.”

          I talked to Alan, and the “green” issue is not that the project got less green, but more importantly (for Alan) that the projected revenues for the renewable energy production, which were originally slated to bring the tenants’ monthly electrical bills down to $0 each month have been redirected for sale to the Community Choice Energy program, with the monthly recurring monetary proceeds from the sale to the CCE  going to the developer.  Alan’s very understandable objection is that that decision makes the apartments “less affordable.”

          The decision by Council to accept LEED Silver for the individual buildings rather than LEED Platinum was a dissapointment, but compared to the “affordability” issues that was rather minor.

    2. Mark West

      “We didn’t have a rational discussion before?”

      Do you think screaming ‘bait and switch’ repeatedly is part of a rational discussion?

       

      1. The Pugilist

        Nope, it pollutes the discussion, it sabotages it.  No one can tweak there project without being accused of bait and switch.  The city cannot negotiate with developers without being accused of giving away the store.  It’s a disgrace and Barack Palin is a big part of the problem.  But not the biggest.  Michael Harrington.  Alan Pryor.  Nancy Price.  Eileen Samitz.

        1. Anon

          I agree that those who file lawsuits, spread misinformation, hurl baseless accusations at the city & developer and disrupt public meetings do not carry on rational discussions and poison the well.

  2. Biddlin

    ” Who is going to want to risk millions to invest in economic development here?”

    See below:

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Yup! If you are surprised that no investor/developer in his right mind will touch Davis, you just haven’t been listening, especially to yourselves.

  3. Biddlin

    The “do nothing and all will be fine” crowd has their way. Harrington and Tia can apparently pony up all the cash needed to keep up streets, parks and schools.

    1. Tia Will

      Biddlin

      The “do nothing and all will be fine” crowd has their way. Harrington and Tia “

      By including me in this comment, you are clearly willing to disregard what I have more than once posted here.

      I remain on the fence with regard to Nishi and was tentatively in favor of the proposal near the hospital. I had also posted more than once that I might favor MRIC but only if a housing component could be considered as I found that a better model.

      Favoring a reasoned weighing of the pros and cons of each project, rather than donning a cheerleaders outfit every time any development proposal comes up is not the same as declaring “do nothing and all will be fine” although there are some who post here who do not seem capable of perceiving a difference.

       

    2. The Pugilist

      I don’t think it’s fair to lasso Tia with this.  She’s not suing the city.  She’s not campaigning against every single project being proposed.  This isn’t on her. Replace Tia with Alan Pryor.

        1. Tia Will

          Misanthrop

          But she has advocated for tax increases as a solution to the budget problems instead of development.”

          This is a mischaracterization of my position. I have posted on a number of occasions that I believe that a fiscally responsible path forward will depend upon increased taxes, more efficient utilization and prioritization of funds and business development.

          While it is true that I would apportion more of this three pronged approach to taxes than might be favored by others ( my pay as you go, and pay your own bills attitude), I have never stated that I believe that increased taxes alone will be a viable means forward.

           

  4. Misanthrop

    I guess Schilling will build in West Sac or maybe Woodland when the energy industry recovers. Or maybe the oil price crash made Schilling reconsider expansion.

    My mind wanders back to when MRIC wanted an early vote in 2014 and the council said that process was more important than economic visibility. Watch how fast Woodland gets that new business park launched. Davis is a joke.

    We did a national search for a new City Manager and got a local guy who fired Robb White and brought in someone he knew from the county. Now we have lost two business development parks because of the regulatory nightmare of ballot box planning required under Measure R. The vote of the council to not include housing, even as they all recognized that housing made the plan better, was the death knell.

    I wonder if anyone has had enough of Measure R yet?

    1. Anon

      The lawsuits, misinformation, disruption of public meetings is preventing voters from weighing in on Measure R!  Measure R is not the problem here.

  5. Tia Will

    There are key questions now – will housing come back on the table?  Is this pause just a chance to change course or is this the end of the project?”

    I have a somewhat different perspective on the business/housing issue.

    Using the Vanguard and the Enterprise as well as City Council meetings as my main sources of information, and having attended the public forums on each of the 3 main proposals over the past couple of years, it seems to me that the main issues highlighted are lack of housing and lack of business diversification.

    So a simple question arises for me. Why would we insist on separating these two issues rather than at least considering a newer, more innovative solution which combines the two in one location ? Perhaps we should be looking at these two issues holistically ?

    1. Barack Palin

      So a simple question arises for me. Why would we insist on separating these two issues rather than at least considering a newer, more innovative solution which combines the two in one location ? 

      We already visited the issue and a decision was made not to include housing.  Why should we come back so soon and open up that can of worms again?

      I used to play basketball with this kid and if he didn’t get on the team he wanted he would take his ball and go home and not play.

      1. Mark West

        You got the project you wanted BP.  Unfortunately, that project is not fiscally viable, but since it is the only option you said you would accept, you have absolutely nothing to complain about. Own your share of the responsibility, and don’t forget to get out your checkbook. Your taxes are going up significantly. Congratulations!

        1. Barack Palin

          You got the project you wanted BP

          And the developers got their original project too that they wanted.

          Explain why the project all of a sudden isn’t fiscally viable when it’s the same project that the developers wanted in the first place?  Did they calculate wrong?

          And BTW, correct me if I’m wrong, I thought you thought housing was a bad idea too.
          I could look it up but I’ll let you elaborate.

        2. Mark West

          I was ambivalent about the housing, favoring townhouses and apartments, but opposed to detached single family homes. My opinion changed somewhat during the discussions as I learned from other poster’s points of view. Most important for me, however, was having a viable project, which we don’t have now.

        3. Mark West

          What I did not do, BP, was repeatedly pronounce that I would oppose the project if it had any housing, nor complain about a ‘bait and switch’ when the housing was proposed.

           

        4. Barack Palin

          Mark’s right, people weren’t even willing to have the discussion or consider the possibility of making it a better project.

          Maybe adding housing makes it a better project in your eyes, but having a business park only makes it a better project in many other people’s eyes.  Are people willing to have the discussion of keeping it business park only as many see that option as the better project?

    2. Don Shor

      There is a serious mismatch between the type of housing most urgently needed and the types of jobs that will come with a business park. Woodland is providing housing for Davis workers who want single-family homes with space around them, and by my odometer the southeast corner of Woodland is now 5.3 miles from the northeast corner of Davis. For someone relocating to Davis from the Bay Area or Southern California, a 5 – 10 mile commute is trivial.
      No developer in his or her right mind would expend the effort to draw up plans for a “newer, more innovative solution” given the history of such proposals in Davis and the likelihood of a spate of lawsuits about every little detail.
      Perhaps the city could issue a renewed request for proposals for the north Davis site. Beyond that, we don’t have much to work with right now.

      1. South of Davis

        Don wrote:

        > by my odometer the southeast corner of Woodland is

        > now 5.3 miles from the northeast corner of Davis

        Google Maps says it is 8 miles from Ikeda’s on Mace to the Stongate Country Club in West Davis, and just under 8 miles to the new homes south of Costco in Woodland (aka “Davis Del Norte”)…

         

         

  6. Tia Will

    BP

    Why should we come back so soon and open up that can of worms again?”

    Because further evaluation has indicated that we might not have made the right decision initially.

  7. Michael Harrington

    Now Tia and I are being blamed for the negligent bad planning of others ?  Or perhaps Ramos is just playing games to get the housing?

    1. The Pugilist

      No, there is no game because Ramos is not getting housing.  He knows it.  You know it.  the Council knows.  You’ll see to it that there is no housing.  Heck you opposed it even with no housing.

      The reality is that you are going to be paying $2000 a year parcel tax on each of your four properties.  And if you don’t, you’ll be driving on potholed streets, your kids’ parks will be closed or in disrepair, their pools will be shut down, their rec centers closed or privatized.

      The city is headed downhill and there is no one else to blame but Michael J. Harrington.  I hope you’re proud of yourself.

        1. South of Davis

          The Pulgilist wrote:

          > The reality is that you are going to be paying $2000 a year

          > parcel tax on each of your four properties. 

          I don’t want to forecast rents on any specific property in town, but if “everyone” has to pay a $2,000/year parcel tax it means all the rents in town will be going up.

          Odds are that if the building of new homes and apartments is restricted while the number of UCD students increases rents will go up FAR more than $2,000/year per parcel.

          P.S. The lack of supply with increased demand will not only increase rents but increase values (increasing the net worth of all residential real estate owners in town and dramatically increasing the net worth of people that own multiple properties in town)…

  8. Tia Will

    Or perhaps Ramos is just playing games to get the housing?”

    Or perhaps that Ramos project would be better with the housing.

    So many possibilities to consider.

     

    1. Misanthrop

      Sorry, MRIC is dead and this isn’t a negotiating ploy. If you think that it is some sort of ploy you are too far removed from how business works to understand the plug has been pulled. We are likelier to see houses at Covell Village before we see MRIC rise from the dead. Any business/Innovation parks that get built will be outside the city limit and none of the benefits will accrue to the City of Davis. Measure R is too high a burden when the surrounding communities don’t have such the same barrier to entry. Frankly has long talked about the Open Space Moat but the Moat that killed MRIC is the barrier to entry known as Measure R.

  9. Barack Palin

    Or perhaps Ramos is just playing games to get the housing?

    If that is indeed the case it seems to be getting some traction, at least by some of the commenters on here.

    1. The Pugilist

      They can put housing in to the plans, it will be defeated by Harrington and company just as Nishi will.

      If you have $10 million or $100 million to invest, would you invest it in Davis or would you try to find another city where your risk is lower and your prospects better?

      1. Tia Will

        If you have $10 million or $100 million to invest, would you invest it in Davis or would you try to find another city where your risk is lower and your prospects better?”

        Well, that would depend upon your ultimate goal. If your goal were only to maximize your profits, then of course you would look for a better location. If your goal were truly to contribute to making Davis the best city that it can be as so many developers claim, you might consider the higher costs worth while.

  10. Alan Miller

    “We remain highly committed to the project but need to figure out how to make it work,”

    Moving it to Woodland would be a good way to help it pencil out.

    Just sayin’

  11. Barack Palin

    First off do you think any project on the periphery would’ve had a chance if housing was initially included in the project?  We were fed a business park which I was all for, one of the biggest proponents.  In fact I wanted all three business parks to get built.  Unfortunately Nishi isn’t as much of an innovation park as I wanted though I’m still very likely voting for it.  I’m a slow growther and don’t feel ashamed about that one bit so when this development tried to change midstream and add housing I was against it.  I still am, add housing and I’ll vote against it and state my opinions.  If I remember right housing was first introduced for environmental climate impact reasons.  Remember, less VMD’s and other such impacts were cited.  Now were being told housing might be needed for fiscal reasons in order to make the project viable?

    1. The Pugilist

      I don’t agree with you that we were “fed.”  We were presented with an initial concept not from a developer but rather from the Chief Innovation Officer.  That got the ball rolling, and the RFEI process enabled developers to come forward with a project guideline.  But if you pay close attention you’ll notice that the project management on the city’s part then shifted from CIO to the Planning Department.  It’s Mike Webb who is working on these projects not Diane Parro or Sarah Worley.  The concepts have to be allowed to develop.

      My problem here is that everytime a change is proposed or a new idea is presented, you start drumming up suspicions rather than exploring whether the project would be improved.

      This isn’t helpful.  It is poisoning the process.

      1. Barack Palin

        My problem here is that everytime a change is proposed 

        You say change like it’s some little thing, adding housing completely alters the project and the concept.

         

        1. The Pugilist

          Let’s break both of these points down.

          First, “You say change like it’s some little thing” – I don’t.  

          Second, “adding housing completely alters the project and the concept.”  I don’t agree.  You’re basically taking a research park concept and putting housing above the R&D space.  That alters the project for sure, but it doesn’t change the concept.  Look at Mission Bay, look at the Research Triangle Innovation Park.  There are different models of innovation centers.

          I’m not saying this will fix things, btw.  I don’t think they can be fixed because the problem is external to the park.  I’m only arguing here this wasn’t some sort of conspiracy, it was an effort to explore ways to improve the park design.

  12. davisite4

    Maybe it’s time to take a serious look at the previously identified smaller infill sites within the current Davis city limits.  Maybe that should be our game changer.  Candidates for Council, anyone want to take up the banner?

    1. Anon

      You’ve got to be kidding!  Look at all the opposition Nishi is running into, as well as Trackside and Sterling.  Do you honestly think other infill is going to run into any less opposition from the no-growthers?

      1. Tia Will

        Anon

        You’ve got to be kidding!  Look at all the opposition Nishi is running into, as well as Trackside and Sterling.”

        I really have to take exception to this comment. There is no, repeat, no opposition to redevelopment at the Trackside site. What there is, is opposition to the proposal of a six story building at this site which is completely outside the design guidelines and zoning for this site.

        I do not know a single member of OEDNA, or any member of our community who opposes a re development at this location which would be in alignment with these parameters as previously established. At present there are members from the Trackside project and members of the OEDNA who are working collaboratively on a revision of the project which would benefit the developers, shareholders, neighbors and entire community. I know because I have been part of this process.

        1. Mark West

          “There is no, repeat, no opposition to redevelopment at the Trackside site.”

          You and your neighbors attacked the Trackside project in front of the City Council before it was formally proposed. You personally attacked the integrity of the development team in your public comments on this site. Your statement is false and an attempt at revisionist history.

        2. South of Davis

          Tia wrote:

          > There is no, repeat, no opposition to redevelopment at the Trackside site.

          I don’t want to speak for Tia and the Old East Davis residents, but I’m guessing that there would not be much opposition if Trackside partners wanted to build a single 1,600sf 3 bedroom 2 bath home (behind a white picket fence) on the site…

    2. The Pugilist

      We have taken a look.  It’s called the dispersed model.  They studied it in 2010.  They determined at that time there was insufficient space to do what needed.  That’s why they called for infill sites and downtown, Nishi, and a peripheral site.

        1. Anon

          Infill will not cut it – Shilling is going to leave town if MRIC doesn’t succeed.  They have already said as much.  And what developer will want to attempt any serious infill when they know there is a good chance of being sued and subjected to the Davis spanking machine?

        2. davisite4

          Anon, infill won’t cut what?  We’ve been saying that we need money.  We could do more to promote business development within the City that would go SOME way toward our infrastructure needs and would reduce the need to press for higher taxes.  Why the black and white thinking?

          As for Shilling, with the current state of the oil industry they should not be the company we are building around (also given that we are supposedly concerned about climate change).  We should not link our future to theirs.

          Puglist, what is the “something else” you have in mind?

  13. Anon

    Barack Palin: “I’m a slow growther and don’t feel ashamed about that one bit so when this development tried to change midstream and add housing I was against it.  I still am, add housing and I’ll vote against it and state my opinions.”

    1.  Why are you opposed to housing on the MRIC site?  Housing would not reduce the amount of R&D space, it would have just forced the R&D space to be built up and not out.  The housing would be designed to appeal to employees of the project making it workforce housing, e.g lofts over workspaces.  Workforce housing intermixed with tech businesses in this way would have given the MRIC project less of an industrial feel.

    2. Which is better for the city, MRIC with housing or MRIC that relocates just up the street to Woodland so that Davis suffers all the impacts of MRIC but gains absolutely no benefit?

    3. If MRIC is never realized, how do you propose the city pay for services and infrastructure repairs/maintenance?  More taxes, and how high do you want to go?  Or are you okay with cutting back on services and allowing our roads to continue to deteriorate?  What are your solutions to the city’s dire fiscal problems?

  14. Michael Harrington

    I’m on record of supporting big commercial projects, and even new housing.

    What I don’t get is Nishi and Ramosville know, and know very well, that many of us concerned residents are willing to consider some of these projects if the project gives the city well-place mitigation land in fee simple that will help to seal off the new development from expanding in the future.  I want to end the waste of city resources, and the endless political border battles.

     

    What do you think Measure O, Open Space Parcel Tax, was supposed to be for?  Buying fairly junky land in the county that has zero risk of development?? No.  It was for buying parcels around Davis’ periphery and helping us to stay a small compact town or city.

     

    But here comes Nishi:  our wonderfully inept CC didn’t even make them identify their mitigation!  And no idea of the tax sharing with the County or UCD.  And on and on.  So Nishi is on the ballot, and we don’t even know where its mitigation is located, let alone its quality.   I have been ultra-clear for more than 15 years that wonderful mitigation can make me and some of my political colleagues stand down, and maybe even support these projects that are mostly just green lipstick on the usual pig of valley sprawl.  Tim Ruff and Johnny Whitcomb have know all of this for over 15 years.  Why?  Because I directly told them, face to face, in 2000 as some of the first meetings I had as a newly-elected CC member.  Mr. Whitcomb could have gotten his Covell Village, if he had provided outboard, fee simple mitigation from the top 2/rds of his 440 acres.  But he said is was land thieving, and the rest is history.  He lost hundreds of millions of opportunity value, because he wanted to give us junk land in the county.

    Ramos knows all of this too.  Yet he and his team still, to this day, refuse to disclose where their mitigation is located.  I am sure the Open Space Commission would really like to know, as the mitigation is 100% under their jurisdiction.  But our staff and CC members are not requiring Ramosville to disclose the one thing that can help them get this junk through the vote:  mitigation amount, location, and quality.

     

    So my conclusion as to Nishi and Ramosville is that they are hiding their mitigation.  Meaning, it must be junk land in the county.  If it was excellent mitigation, they would be leading with their best feature.  Their hiding the ball is enough to make me re-double my opposition to their projects.

    1. Anon

      Let me see, first the problem was the “affordable housing giveaway”; then it was “traffic congestion”; now its “ag-mitigation”.  What problem don’t you have with Nishi and MRIC?  Seems to me you tried to kill the surface water project too.  So what “big commercial project” did you say you were for?

      1. Tia Will

        Anon

        Let me see, first the problem was the “affordable housing giveaway”; then it was “traffic congestion”; now its “ag-mitigation”.”

        Are you stating that all three could not be legitimate concerns ?  How many concerns is one individual allowed to consider in your concept of how to assess proposals ?

      2. Frankly

        Mike is a good trial attorney.  He will always find and leverage arguments in support of his desire to win his case.  And if there are not any strong facts in his favor, then the generation of FUD will do.

    2. Ron

      I agree with Mike’s concept.

      (In general), if developers came forward with quality mitigation, they would experience entirely different campaigns (and would gain some unexpected allies).

        1. Ron

          Frankly:  Is your name Ron Harrington?

          No.  However, I find some of Mike Harrington’s suggestions to be quite compelling.

          Even if one doesn’t approve of all of Mike’s actions, he seems quite intelligent and knowledgeable, and apparently shares many of the goals of those on the “slower-growth” end of the spectrum.

          If I were a developer seeking to gain approval for a controversial development proposal, I would probably engage in some communications with Mike.  Although Mike doesn’t speak for everyone, it’s (at least) possible that a “win-win” solution would ultimately arise, as a result of communicating with him.  (Perhaps, at least, legal action would be avoided by communicating with him.)  Strictly from a business standpoint, it might be something for developers to at least consider.

  15. Anon

    The Pugilist: “They can put housing in to the plans, it will be defeated by Harrington and company just as Nishi will.

    If you have $10 million or $100 million to invest, would you invest it in Davis or would you try to find another city where your risk is lower and your prospects better?
    It is time for those who support economic development to show up at City Council meetings, forums, commission meetings, the Farmer’s Market, and strongly voice that support.  The obstructionist show up en masse at these venues, and that is how they get traction, and poison the well.  How many of you who support Nishi and MRIC have written op-eds to the Davis Enterprise?  How many of you have shown up at City Council meetings and/or commission meetings and shown your support?

    1. Alan Miller

      How many of you have shown up at City Council meetings and/or commission meetings and shown your support?

      I have spoken a few times in support of Nishi (I like the current plan), and a few times in support of the NW Business Park (I liked their team and the location).  Ramosville never smelled right to me, and rotted as time went on.

      Their was speculation here a few months ago as to “why in the hell would Ramos propose housing, knowing it would reduce the chances of a J/R vote passing?”  I stated at that time that it was a clear indication that Ramos didn’t believe it was economically viable without housing, so he was going to propose housing to make it economically viable and didn’t care if it didn’t pass because to not have housing made it not worth building.  I believe that has proven true with this decision.

      Davis should stop trying to build so-called innovation parks, and instead focus on economic engines that are sure to completely solve our economic problems in a few short weeks, like ripping out the railroad tracks, accepting half a billion dollars from the Feds slipping through Garamendi and Matusui’s greasy palms, and rerouting those tracks through the Yolo Landfill so they can pick up a tank car of Sierra Energy methane every few weeks, and deliver a daily hopper car of mud (taxpayer expense) from Cache Creek.

      Oh, and don’t forget that mile long, 100′-wide, 80′ wall of condos along H Street! Beeeeee-U-Teeeeee-Fullllll !!!!!

      Now THAT is economic recovery we can count on, and that we should all get behind.

  16. Misanthrop

    http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2016-04-13/it-s-been-rough-coming-of-age-in-the-new-century

     

    Interesting piece I read this morning. For those of you that think building housing is bad take a look at the unintended consequences of not building housing. In Davis those who refuse to allow housing to get built are sticking it to the young by both refusing to add supply and then allowing themselves or others to jack up rents to ration demand.

    1. South of Davis

      Misanthrop wrote:

      > In Davis those who refuse to allow housing to get built are sticking

      > it to the young by both refusing to add supply and then allowing

      > themselves or others to jack up rents to ration demand.

      It is interesting that many on the left often talk about “microagressions” the often “unintentional” acts that are hostile to others. It seems that many who want to stop development in town to “protect the small town feel” may be subconsciously really “protecting their property values and rental income”.

      Just like the liberal teacher who says they support equal rights but “unintentionally” hurt minority kids by keeping them out of the most challenging classes,  the aging/graying baby boomers in Davis are “unintentionally” hurting the young people who can’t afford to move here (or who can “afford” to move here but can’t afford much else after paying rent).

  17. Biddlin

    However Tia and Mike want to frame it, their side has won. West Sacramento and Woodland, more affordable and more adaptable, should be quite happy with this non- development.

      1. Biddlin

        I notice that some posters suffer from the lack of an “ignore” button. Please feel free to do so voluntarily. I do so, frequently, with great success.

         

  18. Tia Will

    Misanthrop

    From the article you linked, this sentence struck out for me.

    forces young adults into less-than-desirable living arrangements.”

    It seems to me that there may not be universal agreement on what constitutes “less than desirable living arrangements”. Where one lives, and with whom is frequently a trade off. This is nothing new.

    When I was in my early twenties, I had a change of mind about what direction my life should take. At that point, in order to pursue my relatively newly conceived idea of becoming a doctor rather than a professor of political anthropology, I knew that I would have to make some “less than desirable” changes in my plans. I knew that I would have to accept living arrangements other than my own home or even my own apartment at least temporarily. This meant that I did move back in with my mother for a few months, and that I had to share apartments, and at one point a room for a year with others. I did not see this as a tragedy or even vaguely unacceptable. It was part of the cost I was going to incur if I wanted to achieve my dream.  I adapted, enjoyed some of my experiences and did not enjoy others. Surprise ! Isn’t that what life entails ? In the end, I achieved my goals and became more affluent than I would have believed possible when I began the journey.

    Would it be nice if we provided nice one bedroom apartments for every student, or four bedroom, 3 bath homes for every four member household ?  Absolutely !  But we have not chosen to structure our society so as to provide this for all.  We could do this if we were to reprioritize as a society. I will not live to see it although I would love to. But I consider it disingenuous to pretend that students and young adults today cannot adapt in the same manner that I chose 35 years ago.

    1. Frankly

      Nice dance away from personal responsibility for the “I got mine so the hell with the rest of you” position.

      The fact of the matter here is that your demands related to growth and development are completely selfish and indirectly harm others.

      That would be fine if you would just admit it, but you keep weaving a dance of nuance attempting to eliminate yourself from being responsible for that harm.

      It isn’t working.

      You go off on others that “always want more” (your words)… and yet here you are living the dream of exclusivity… a downtown house on a big lot in a city that prices young people and young families out of the market because folks like you won’t allow any significant development project to go forward.

      You are uber-wealthy in your acquired life-style and you don’t want to give up any of it to help others do the same.   Just admit it.

        1. Barack Palin

          How about we both just admit that we do not see the world the same way ?

          That would certainly shorten the comments section. ?

          I could of told you both that about 50,000 posts ago.

  19. Frankly

    So for all you lovers of direct democracy… here is all you need for evidence for why our founding fathers picked a representative governance design.

    Measure R has become a nightmare.

    Too many voters are uneducated and unaware of what is really going on.   But in their ignorance they can be frightened into voting against almost anything.   And so it provides a mechanism for agitators to exploit that tendency… but since these are not elected officials there is no political recourse against their malfeasance.

    It is clearly time to work on defeating Measure R.  Time to take the message to the young people.

     

  20. Tia Will

    Franky

    You just confirmed what Misanthrop said… just with a lot more words.”

    And to think that all this time I have assumed that your mathematical skills surpassed my own, and it turns out that you are unable to differentiate between a three pronged approach 1. Increased taxes 2.More efficient use of revenues 3. Development of businesses and a one pronged approach 1. Increase taxes.

    There you are… always ready to tell others how they should spend their money.”

    Please show me the exact quote where I told anyone else how they should spend their money.

    “I got mine so the hell with the rest of you” position.”

    Same old, same old. Funny that I held exactly the same position when it was me that was sharing the room and sleeping in my mom’s front room.

    Or perhaps you are actually referring to the position of the developers and investors who say to current residents and businesses proprietors, “the hell with you” as they are displaced to house and build more densely for the profit of said same developers and investors.

     

     

    1. Frankly

      Please don’t bring the past into our arguments.  😉

      You don’t hold any higher ground for meager means starting out.  To many, many people you are fabulously wealthy and fabulously privileged.  Same here.  Back when we were young we lived in broken families in poverty.  But we can’t keep using that to justify denying others a piece of the good life.

      You love your Davis life so much why wouldn’t you want others to have that same opportunity?

       

      1. Tia Will

        You love your Davis life so much why wouldn’t you want others to have that same opportunity?”

        I welcome anyone who has “the same opportunity”. However, I do not feel that the current residents owe opportunity to those who are not yet here any more than I was owed a place when I was the one who did not have sufficient funds to live here nor anymore than the current residents of Carmel should make a space for me because I would like a seaside cottage that I cannot afford.

        And why would I not bring “the past” into our arguments. We are shaped by our pasts just as our actions today will shape our futures. You want to claim that I only feel the way I do because I am rich, all the while ignoring that I felt the same when I was not rich. Is it your position that I was prescient and felt the same way when I was in my twenties as I do now because I somehow knew in advance that someday “I was going to have mine” ?

  21. Michelle Millet

    For better or worse this project was DOA as soon as council made the decision not to consider a mixed-use alternative. It’s ironic that in an attempt to keep the project alive and avoid the “third rail” of housing we sent it to an early grave. I see this as one of the negative consequences of prioritizing  “playing politics” above creating good policy. My advice to council as we move forward, stop acting out of fear, put good projects forward, and trust the community at large to have the intelligence to do the right thing.

    1. Frankly

      “Innovation Park” was the project, not “Housing Development”

      It never was ever conceived of including housing.   When that was added it started the slide to ruin.

      So look for those that pushed adding housing and they should be branded as the ones “playing politics.”

      1. Michelle Millet

        So look for those that pushed adding housing and they should be branded as the ones “playing politics.”

        I am pretty sure that it was the developer who was pushing the housing element, are you suggesting that they thought adding housing was good political maneuver?

        1. Matt Williams

          Michelle said . . . “I am pretty sure that it was the developer who was pushing the housing element, are you suggesting that they thought adding housing was good political maneuver?”

           

          I respectfully disagree Michelle.  My personal belief is that the developer was going wherever staff steered them to go.

      2. Matt Williams

        While I don’t agree with your first point, because CEOs locating their companies here really do want to know where their employees are going to live (in town), I wholeheartedly agree with your second point, and the answer to the question posed in your third line is “Staff.”

    2. Barack Palin

      In my opinion the mistake was made in considering the mixed use alternative.  As a community we were told at the onset that housing wouldn’t be part of the project.  Then midstream housing was introduced and that’s what made much of the community that was already onboard take a step back.

        1. Barack Palin

          The developer is stepping back because it is no longer a financially viable project, without the inclusion of housing I’m not sure it ever was.

          Then why at the onset did the developer come forward with a plan that was innovation park only if they thought it wasn’t viable?   These guys do this for a living and you’re telling us that it would’ve probably never been viable unless housing, that wasn’t even on the table at the time or even supposed to be included, was added to the mix?

        2. Alan Miller

          I can only speculate, and I’m trying to avoid doing that on public forums anymore, it gets me in trouble:-).

          It gets a lot of people in trouble . . .

        3. hpierce

          For the record… Dan Ramos is the spokesperson for the developer… unless someone can show me proof to the contrary, I assert he is not the “developer”… he may well be the “applicant” (on behalf of the ‘owners’/developers)  and he may well have some “skin in the game” as part of the development group… my experience with Dan is that he is a “stand-up” person, but I believe he has a ‘job to do’ on behalf of the owners/developers….

    3. Mark West

      “For better or worse this project was DOA as soon as council made the decision not to consider a mixed-use alternative.”

      If the reports of the City Manager being opposed to the peripheral projects are true, then the only responsible interpretation is that this result is what was intended by the CC majority from the start. Look at their actions, not their words.  The CC majority is not interested in economic development or responsibly addressing our fiscal situation. What they support is raising taxes and giving the money to public employees. As long as we keep electing the same people we should expect the same result (regardless of how nice they are).

      1. Michelle Millet

        I’ll speculate (and get myself into trouble) that council not including housing had more to do with fear of the potential political ramifications, both for themselves personally and the project in general, that would come from pissing off the slow growers, than trying to kill the project.

        They scare too easily, and don’t trust enough in the common sense of the general electorate.

        1. Mark West

          No.  This was the intended outcome from the start. There has never been any real interest in economic development on the parts of Dan, Rochelle or Lucas, just a lot of hot air.

          You get elected to the City Council in Davis by protecting the property values of the landed gentry.  You get elected to higher office by giving more tax money to public employees. Building wealth in the community through economic development is too much work, and threatens the monopoly of the old-time property owners who supported the campaign in the first place. Until we break the cycle we should expect the same result. Higher taxes and increased spending while watching our infrastructure and quality of life decay away.  Woohoo!

        2. hpierce

          Then, Mark, why did they put out the request for proposals?  Smoke and mirrors?  In my opinion, this has been handled badly… lay 30% of that on former CIO, 40% on CC, 10% on former CM, 5% on current CM, 10% on staff, and the balance on the ‘community’, including the VG… [rough approximations, no basis in demonstrable facts]

        3. Mark West

          “Then, Mark, why did they put out the request for proposals?”

          Previous CC, CM and CIO did that.  This bunch hired the current CM who has reportedly downplayed economic development and pushed giving more money to employees. The current CC majority is long on talk and short on action.

  22. RoyM

    Yes, there are a lot of other issues.   But, the key one is simple — SUPPLY AND DEMAND!!!!

     

    There is a lot of vacant space in existing buildings in Davis already, and a lot more in West Sac, Woodland and Vacaville.  Additionally, there is a lot of vacant land with existing infrastructure and proper zoning for commercial/office/R&D/etc., both in Davis (along Cowell next to the Freeway, for example, or in the Superfund site that will be remediated in a few years) and in nearby cities.  All of these would compete for a new firm looking for a “build to suit” site.

     

    While there may be a few firms willing to pay a premium for Davis, a lot more will be driven by price and the relative ease/faster timing/lack of risk of leasing an existing building.   I would speculate also that Schilling (with the collapse in oil prices and two recent rounds of lay-offs since Tyler Schilling’s demand for a large manufacturing site in Davis) is no longer to commit to being the 200,000+ square foot anchor tenant.

     

    Now it remains to be seen whether city officials and staff pursue “socialism for the rich” in the form of developer subsidies to resurrect the project.

     

     

     

  23. Eileen Samitz

    The original reason why the innovation parks were even considered with was to see if they could help bring revenue to the City. The Ramos group knew from beginning that the community was only interested in exploring an innovation park without housing, because any housing would bring on long term costs the City, and would defeat the purpose of having an innovation park.

    The developers also knew the math from the beginning and were asked publicly if they would build the innovation park without housing. Dan Ramos responded “yes” publicly, and just needed direction from the City. And he got that direction, which was no housing at Mace Ranch Innovation Park. The City Council made the right decision then and hopefully will stick to it and not allow these developers to try to blackmail and manipulate the City.

    It also becomes pretty evident now that the housing was really the main objective of these developers. So the impacts of Mace Ranch Innovation Park are not worth it for what is now been revealed to have been their true objective all along. 850 high density units high-rise units (more units than all of Wildhorse or Mace Ranch) without any affordable housing requirement as “vertical mixed-use”,  just like Nishi Gateway is trying to pull off. The impacts on our infrastructure and City services would be enormous and costly. Plus, they legally could not reserve the housing for workers of the innovation park workers as they would like everyone to believe. So it would NOT be an environmentally better project at all.

    Hopefully, our City and City Council will not fall for this stunt, any more than the other stunts that the Ramos developers have pulled on this, and other projects, historically. The pause button needs to stay “on” until Ramos is willing to some back to the original proposal for an innovation park only. THAT is what they were asked to do. Otherwise, we don’t need Mace Ranch Innovation Park and all of its impacts and costs to our community.

    1. hpierce

      Eileen.. with all due respect, it is not evident to me that the MRI folk “proposed” the addition of housing… Ramos et al.’s “forte” is either commercial/industrial, or getting entitlements to sell some of their project to builders to get their commercial/industrial projects’ cash flow to work (Mace Ranch Park).  It has always been their “business model”… ask pretty much any professional property broker.

      Unless something has changed recently, they don’t “build” housing, except perhaps one apartment complex in Mace Ranch, but I always thought that was an “after-thought”.  The did the entitlement piece, but doubt they built, nor own it.

      As I previously opined, I suspect the ‘housing’ piece came up as a suggestion to mitigate traffic concerns, as part of the environmental review process (and, likely for ‘political’ reasons as well… who doesn’t ‘love’ live-work [particularly ‘planners’]).  Not clear if it came up from the City or the developer. We’ll probably never know…

    2. Michelle Millet

      Without a mixed use component I don’t believe a innovation center is finicially viable. If it was I think Ramos would be moving forward. I’m not sure we can get one without the other, which I don’t really have that big of a problem with. What I do have a problem with is the amount of staff time, energy, and focus that has been wasted over the past couple of years on a project that was never going to happen.  Hopefully we can avoid making this mistake again in the future.

      1. hpierce

        Understand, Michelle, that the staff time spent on the proposal was billed to the developer (including benefits, ‘overhead’, etc. ) … if their time went to other purposes, the funding would have had to come from other sources… or, fewer staff…

        1. Michelle Millet

          So you are okay with people getting paid to do work that accomplishs nothing, as long as someone else is paying for it?

          Regardless of who paid them staff  spent years of  time, focus, and energy on a project that had no  chance of generating revenue for our city. Hopefully now we can start focusing energy on projects that have this potential.

        2. hpierce

          Ron… your 9:20 post…

          I think it can occur, perhaps subconsciously…

          I hope not, but cannot say that doesn’t happen… but as you said, something to think about… who should be the “gate-keepers”?  Staff?  Commissions? CC? a ‘vote of the people’?

          My opinion is that if dumb ideas (and NOT saying this project is one of them… I’m somewhat favorably inclined) aren’t “pruned” early, without a lot staff, etc. time and costs, it is not good for the applicants nor the City.  But one would need to have the rules in place, and trust staff to do the pruning sooner than later.  In this instance the CC [and former CM & CIO] ‘opened the doors’ and invited folk to enter.

           

        3. hpierce

          Michelle, you do understand the concept (and laws) of someone can ask, deserve a fair review, and get a determination, right?

          If the initial review shows it is not in conformance with rules/policies, etc. it should be rejected with little effort/cost… the particular project in question was always “fuzzy” at best…

      2. Ron

        Although the developer is apparently billed for staff time, I still see this as (somewhat) of a conflict of interest.  If city staff are ultimately being paid by developers, it provides at least some motivation for the city to continue to examine and bring forth development proposals, regardless of merit.  (Who would want to possibly lose their job, if no new development proposals were forthcoming?)

        Since it takes an overwhelming amount of time and energy to consider development proposals (for the city, and all of us), other issues, concerns and solutions may be neglected.  (Not to mention the controversy and disputes that major development proposals facilitate.)

        This comment is not intended as a commentary, regarding any particular development proposal.  Nor is it intended as a specific solution, regarding exactly how to handle development proposals.  Just something to think about.

         

        1. hpierce

          Agreed, it is something to think about… never believed the staff should spend time, spend a developer’s money, if a proposal was stupid and/or DOA… but, under our system of government, an applicant is entitled to consideration… it is ethically wrong to “egg them on”, knowing they are DOA, just to pay salaries, increase staff… but it seems no one trusts staff to ‘do the right thing’ [more is the pity]… so, here we are…

          However, the concept of “conflict of interest”, is a stupid, BS comment, in this context..

        2. Ron

          HPierce:  That is true.  Staff get paid, even if a development fails (or is withdrawn, before it is presented to voters). (I’m not implying that staff is purposefully misleading anyone, but I think it can occur, perhaps subconsciously.)

        3. Ron

          hpierce:  Oh – didn’t see the part where you labeled part of my comment as “b.s.”, while agreeing with the rest of it.  I’m becoming used to your “challenging” method of making a point.  In any case, I find your comments to be insightful and sharp, most of the time.

          I stand by the comment, regarding conflict of interest.  City staff are hired to serve the interests of the city.  (One can argue, regarding the meaning of that.)  Receiving payment from an outside party (to process requests that may, or may not reflect the city’s goals) is a conflict of interest, and can lead to the issues we discussed above.  (I may not respond any further, tonight.)

        4. hpierce

          Ron… meant to delete the stupid/BS part, but ‘dumb-thumbed’ [and, I apologize for that part]… “heat of the moment” thing [tried to take those words back, but was unable to]… your main point is important and should be considered, but I believe the rules need to be in place, and staff should follow them… we should not string applicants along… to be clear, staff is paid by the city, the City recoups its costs from the developer… as it [the City] determines appropriate… so a staff member can’t deliberately “pad” their compensation on a project without oversight… hence, no conflict of interest on the part of any staff member.  Someone trying to “pad” their time would be subject to discipline.

        5. Ron

          hpierce:   “. . . to be clear, staff is paid by the city, the City recoups its costs from the developer… as it [the City] determines appropriate… so a staff member can’t deliberately “pad” their compensation on a project without oversight… hence, no conflict of interest on the part of any staff member.  Someone trying to “pad” their time would be subject to discipline.”

          I appreciate the clarification.  Yes – I expect that staff wouldn’t be paid (directly) by developers, but one would have to examine the process to be see if controls are adequate.  I don’t know if this is the case.  For example, the “wrong position” within an organization may be (inappropriately) responsible for an approval process.  (Perhaps a position that might also have an inherent interest in encouraging applications.)  Not sure if this is a good example – just something off the top of my head.

          But – you’re right. If controls are adequate, there shouldn’t be a problem regarding conflict of interest.

        6. hpierce

          Ron,your 10:07 post…

          Particularly,

          one would have to examine the process to be see if controls are adequate.  I don’t know if this is the case.  For example, the “wrong position” within an organization may be (inappropriately) responsible for an approval process.

          The quoted text, in my opinion, is definitely worth exploring… if for no other reason, to protect the public perception of, and integrity, of staff.  I do not know of a problem here in Davis, but to my view, it is a very fair question…

          We’d be well served to also examine what is a “wrong position”… I’d opine that a “right position”‘ is fact/rule/policy based, not ‘political winds’ thing… at least from the staff perspective…

      3. Alan Miller

        What I do have a problem with is the amount of staff time, energy, and focus that has been wasted over the past couple of years on a project that was never going to happen.

        This is a chronic problem.  Now you understand how I feel about our using staff time for the Yolo County Rail Relocation project.  Yes, it was funded by a grant, but it was a grant for a project that is never going to happen, is (arguably, but not very) against the best interests of our City, and staff has other things to do with its time than work on projects AT BEST 20 years in the future (and probably 40 years or never).

  24. Michelle Millet

    What I really don’t understand is why someone didn’t pull the plug on the innovation center idea two years ago. Instead of wasting all this time and energy into trying to make Davis into something most of us don’t want it to be, we could have put those resources into developing what we all ready have.

  25. Eileen Samitz

    Michelle,

    The Ramos development company has been in the development business for a long time. Do you really think that they would have not been able to do the math to understand if the commercial only innovation park project was viable from the beginning? They are sitting on a chunk of land that they own that would never be developed otherwise, so they made their move to offer what the public was willing to consider for the revenue, an innovation park with no housing.

    Let’s not forget also that the Ramos developers were pounding their chests in the beginning on how an innovation park was all they wanted and were interested in. No housing… sure.  And they had most everyone believing them then, but not now.

    So now they are checking in to see if they can get any traction on putting the project “on pause” to see if they can get a reaction, so they can try for their real game plan.  That would be 850 high rise units which would bring on costs and impacts to the City, with no affordable housing like Nishi Gateway.

    All of this is nothing more than a political maneuver by them, so you really should not get sucked in to their game. A innovation park with housing is a loser for the City financially and environmentally.

    1. Barack Palin

      The Ramos development company has been in the development business for a long time. Do you really think that they would have not been able to do the math to understand if the commercial only innovation park project was viable from the beginning?

      Thank you, I find it hard to believe too.  I can’t believe we actually have some commenters on here who can’t fathom this.

      So now they are checking in to see if they can get any traction on putting the project “on pause” to see if they can get a reaction

      It’s going to be interesting to see how our city council reacts to this.  We will be watching.

    2. Michelle Millet

      I don’t care what the Ramos company knew or didn’t know, or what they want. If we want an innovation center on that property than we are probably going to have to accept housing with it. If we don’t want that let’s move on and stop wasting everybody’s time and energy on projects that aren’t going to happen, and focus on ones that actually have some potential.

  26. Eileen Samitz

    Michelle,

    Given their latest maneuver, it seems that it has been the Ramos developers who have been wasting the City’s time and the public’s time. They should have never offered to built an innovation park without housing, which was what was being sought, if they were not going to do that.

    Pulling this last stunt is just really revealing what they were trying for, which was a ton of high-density housing which would bring on impacts and costs long-term to the City.

    1. Michelle Millet

      I’m not going to go down the road of villainizing Ramos or their development team for trying to put together a profitable project. I have sat through numerous commission meetings with this group and they have never been anything but respectful, kind, and utterly professional (even while being verbally attacked). They have put a lot of time, effort, energy, and I imagine money into this project. They are not the evil group of people some on this blog try to make them out to be. That being said, their interest or motives do not concern me, nor should they be factored into any decision our council makes. All we should be concerned about is what project best meets the needs our city. We are not getting an innovation center on that site without a housing component. That is the decision our council made and thus is the one we are going to have to live with, but it is on our council not Ramos.

  27. Misanthrop

    Two years ago they asked for an early vote that was denied. They tried to go along to get along but the price of oil collapsed and the big tenant Schilling probably backed out. This is not a ploy. How long do you think it will be before Ramos pulls Lazurus from the grave Eileen? This project is on hold like Jeb Bush suspending his campaign is on hold.

    1. CalAg

      “Two years ago they asked for an early vote that was denied.” Misanthrop

      My recollection is that they asked to side-step Measure R, and withdrew the request when the inevitable fire-storm resulted.

      1. Misanthrop

        As I recall they asked for an early election, then changed it to an advisory vote, then abandoned the idea altogether. But an early up or down vote on annexation would be an improvement over Measure R because you could get an answer for a lot less money.

  28. Misanthrop

    Tia wrote “Would it be nice if we provided nice one bedroom apartments for every student, or four bedroom, 3 bath homes for every four member household ?  Absolutely !  But we have not chosen to structure our society so as to provide this for all.  We could do this if we were to reprioritize as a society. I will not live to see it although I would love to. But I consider it disingenuous to pretend that students and young adults today cannot adapt in the same manner that I chose 35 years ago.”

     

    I think you are missing the point of the article that the lack of affordable housing is keeping young people down. The evidence is mounting that lack of housing construction is causing a huge rift between rich and poor, young and old. Its causing millions of Californians to live in poverty. As was said 35 years ago Tia “If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem.” I love the part where you claim to want everyone to have good housing and then blame the lack of it on society. Well Pogo, you are describing the stratified world you help to maintain.

  29. Tia Will

    Mark West

    You and your neighbors attacked the Trackside project in front of the City Council before it was formally proposed. You personally attacked the integrity of the development team in your public comments on this site. Your statement is false and an attempt at revisionist history.”

    The first sentence is true, but fails to present the full context in which this occurred. The last sentence is incorrect. What preceded this action was the neighbors, who supposedly had been informed of the project, first read about the project details in the Enterprise with no forewarning about the size and scale of the project. They had been told only that “upgrades were planned” with no details.

    Opposing a six story building in an area zoned and designed for a maximum of three stories is not the same as opposing any development. I personally would love to see a new development at this site as I noted as my first sentence in public comment at that City Council meeting. My suggestion was a revised project, not no project.

    Likewise attacking the lack of honest communication with the closest neighbors in advance is also not the same as opposing a new project. I believe that I have been very consistent in my request for respect of current guidelines in development ( or waiting until those guidelines can be revised in an open, collaborative approach) and in open communication rather than a stealth approach when dealing with those closest to the planned development. Never have I opposed any new project at this site which is what you continue to imply. If you still disagree, please post my comment to the contrary and I will be happy to acknowledge and apologize if I am in agreement with you, or explain why I disagree.

    As for attacking integrity, the lead developers to their credit, have both openly stated that their communication was inadequate and apologized for that. Since they are willing to freely admit and correct their missteps, why are you so dogged in your insistence that this is all on me ?

    1. Mark West

      “why are you so dogged in your insistence that this is all on me ?”

      I would not have said a word had you not made your false claim. I do not place this all on you, the 30+ lawn signs I saw yesterday as I walked downtown suggest that the opposition is quite extensive in your neighborhood.  Your claim that there is no opposition is simply nonsense and required a response.

       

      1. Mark West

        By the way, Tia…stating that you might support a project if they will first capitulate to your demands is an example of opposition.  That is your preferred method of interacting with the people around you. “I might support it if…” could well be your mantra.

  30. Eileen Samitz

    Misanthrop,

    First of all, you seem to enjoy being condescending. Well if your going to do this, why not post under your name so those of us who you are insulting, at least we know who is insulting us?

    Second, on a positive note, I agree that maybe Shilling Robotics pulled out, and that may have much to do with this, but it still does not change the issue of the costs and impacts that 850 units would bring onto the City.

    Third, there seem to be other factors that the Ramos group does not want to talk about, like a lawsuit that I heard them complain about outside Community Chambers after one of the City Council meetings.

    So the bottom line is, these problems are beyond our, or the City’s, control and can not be an excuse for the Ramos group to try to bring on 850 units (that is the same number of units of all of Mace Ranch and 2/3’s of the Wildhorse development) and the impacts on our City infrastructure and City services. The “innovation park” clearly becomes a housing project primarily.

     

    1. Misanthrop

      You didn’t answer my question. You called it a ploy. I asked when you think they will return to the project? I don’t think its a ploy. I think the project is dead. I wanted you to suggest a date that they would bring back a  plan so that we could see who is correct. Next week? Next month? Next year? Five years? Ten years? At what point in the future can we say that this project is dead?

  31. sprawlingdensity

    I wonder why Mr. Schilling did not build his killer estate (worth the drive to Woodland to see) in Davis? Oh wait silly rabbit you cannot build something in Davis…..

  32. Eileen Samitz

    Misanthrop,

    I don’t know if MRIC is coming back but if it does, it needs to be an innovation park only, which was what was being asked for from the beginning for revenue for the City. If it doesn’t I would not be surprised if interest from another innovation park proposal appears or reappears.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      I don’t see where another Innovation Park is going to locate. Davis Innovation is going to build their park in Woodland. That really leaves Mace.

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