By Tim Ruff
Hello, my partners and I all have a deep commitment to the Davis community and have honored the collaborative process to bring the Nishi Gateway project to the voters on June 7th after a worthwhile 8-year community driven process. We are all fortunate to live in a university town.
The Nishi Gateway Innovation Park, on the June ballot as Yes on Measure A. provides a relief valve to many of the pressures on Davis, and it does so without new taxes.
1. Student Housing
We know the university plans on bringing in 5,000 new students and 300 new faculty to UC Davis by 2020. This is a decision that is completely out of the control of the City of Davis. We can respond to it; we can adapt to it; we can’t stop it.
Of the 650 mixed-use units at the Nishi Gateway, 440 are designed for students. They are capable of housing 1,500 students, more than 30% of the new student influx. Importantly, they will be at a price point that is at or below existing university housing, and they are very close to both the campus and downtown. Valued at about $1,800 a month these units are affordable for a wide range of people. A UC Davis study also shows that 80% of student resident travel at Nishi will be through biking. Those embracing a car-free lifestyle can expect to save an additional $6,000 a year. Nishi also removes the need for 1,500 students to commute from other cities, and it will reduce the number of family homes being converted into mini-dorms.
2. Jobs and Homes for Second Generation Davisites
Davis has a lot of parents who think our city is a great place to raise a family. They’re right of course. A big struggle comes in keeping kids in Davis as they enter adulthood. We have a 0.2% vacancy rate, meaning very few homes are available for anyone. Of the 8143 units surveyed in 2015, there were only 16 units available in the city. We also have very little R&D space for companies to grow in, making it hard for many new employers to maintain a presence in Davis once they get past the incubation stage.
Yes on Measure A contributes solutions to both of these concerns. Beyond the mini-dorm relief freeing up family homes, Nishi also hopes to attract seniors living in homes that no longer suit their lifestyle needs. Those newly available homes further ease housing pressures in Davis.
Moreover, Nishi is expected to create between 1,500 to 1,800 permanent local jobs. They range from advanced research positions to assembly line roles to administration. There’s nothing else on the horizon capable of creating as many jobs for Davis as Nishi, and many of the jobs will be available for existing residents.
3. Needed Revenue for Davis
Rarely are we given a chance to increase revenue for the city and schools without new taxes, but Yes on Measure A provides that opportunity. With a Yes vote on Measure A, Davis voters are approving firm commitments between the City and Nishi team that ensure:
- $9 million in upfront fees to the city
- $1.4 million annually to support city services
- $400,000 annually to support Davis Joint Unified School District
- $23 million for infrastructure improvements
- $1 million for affordable housing
We all understand that taxation to one degree or another is needed to maintain the Davis way of life, but wouldn’t it be nice to put a little less pressure on our wallets while putting a lot more resources into city priorities?
4. Needed Traffic Improvements
The Nishi Gateway is designed to improve transportation flows and access near downtown and campus. It invests $23 million in Davis infrastructure needs, including:
- A new undercrossing and bypass road to UCD, which will allow Unitrans buses and other vehicles to travel directly to South Davis from UCD.
- A bridge over Putah Creek, which incorporates new pedestrian and bicycle “greenways” separated from Olive Drive, allowing bicyclists and pedestrians to safely cross Olive Drive without disrupting traffic flows.
- West Olive Drive enhancements, which will improve traffic flow to and from campus and Nishi.
- Richards/I-80 Interchange enhancements, including upgrades to the on/off ramps, needed traffic signals, and new bike and pedestrian pathways.
Nishi is designed to make car-free living possible for its residents, but the agreement with the city ensures that Davis receives this important private investment in traffic and safety improvements.
5. More Customers for our Downtown
Ultimately, when we Davis voters make our decision about Measure A, we’re voting for what we think will improve our lives. If you know someone who works in our downtown, odds are they aren’t complaining about too many customers. A lot of downtown businesses rely on small profit margins, and many small business owners are reluctant to hire additional help as they try and balance expenses.
Nishi brings to Davis 650 compact housing units and 325,000 square feet of research and development space. That’s customers for downtown businesses who can patronize our stores without requiring parking spaces. Seniors and young professionals will check out Davis’s diverse shops. Every single Davis resident wins when these businesses pay their sales taxes and hire new workers- which created revenue for City services. Downtown is our central business district.
If you’re still undecided, I just urge you to keep reading and keep an open mind. Our website is at http://www.yesona.org. There you can learn more about the Nishi Gateway Innovation Park and see just how many trusted voices in our community are saying Yes on Measure A. Thanks for reading.
Tim Ruff is in the ownership group and is the project manager for the Nishi Gateway Project.