Sterling Discussion at Senior Commission Turns Contentious When Discussion Is Cut Off

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

The Vanguard has learned that the hearing on the Sterling Apartments at the Davis Senior Citizen Commission, scheduled for Thursday afternoon, turned contentious when Chair Evelyn Mendez and city staff attempted to limit the scope of the public discussion to the Affordable Housing component of the project.

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

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

The student site would include 727 beds, along with 545 parking spaces.

According to city staff, there were between 50 and 60 people in attendance at the meeting, primarily from Rancho Yolo.

Mike Webb, the city’s director of Community Development and Sustainability, told the Vanguard, “Unfortunately, there seemed to be a fundamental misunderstanding by neighbors that this was an appropriate venue to expect that a decision would be rendered on the proposal when the Senior Commission charge in reviewing such a proposal is not to render a decision on the entirety of the proposal – that is the role of the Planning Commission and City Council.”

He continued, “As with most commissions the role here is advisory and focused on the charge and purview of the commission.  The recommendation in the staff report clearly spelled out the purview of this agenda item and the input staff desired to solicit from the commission.”

The root of the problem was that the meeting itself was noticed and agendized as far broader than staff probably intended: “The purpose of the meeting is to present the project to the Senior Commission for their input on the affordable housing proposal as well as general senior issues related to the project.”

The portion of that statement, “as well as general senior issues related to the project,” would have seemed to have opened the door to general comment.

Moreover, as Mike Webb said, “The number of public commenters was not anticipated by staff or the commission.” From the perspective of city staff, “Unfortunately, some of the discourse of the public comment was less than courteous at times and the meeting was overwhelmed.”

As Don Sherman, a resident of Rancho Yolo who has been a critic of the project put it, “We had received no notice that discussion would be limited to the Affordable Housing component, but it soon became apparent that (City Staff and the Commission Chair) had planned exactly that.”

According to Don Sherman’s account, when residents began to register more general complaints, specifically about the density of the project, Ms. Mendez, the chair, attempted to shut down the discussion.

Mr. Sherman told the Vanguard, “Mendez scolded the citizen/speaker, then all of us, for not staying on topic, announcing to our surprise that we were not supposed to talk about anything except affordable housing. People were standing up, asking for recognition, complaining loudly. Others were questioning one another. There was a lot of murmuring behind the shouting.”

As Don Sherman described it, Ms. Mendez began to “shout” “louder and louder” for the attendees to “quiet down” and “take it easy.”  He said that several of the attendees approached the dais, suggesting to the chair to allow people to speak who wanted to speak.

He said, “As Ms. Mendez was screaming, “shut up and sit down,” all but maybe ten or so of the roomful behind me got up and noisily strode out through the rear doors.”

He said, “The meeting resumed, I was one of a handful who stayed, because I wanted to know what came next, and would have welcomed being recognized to speak, even if just the Commission and the City officials would have heard me.”

At this point, Danielle Foster and Eric Lee spoke, explaining to the Commissioners that “they were authorized by City Council to discuss only the affordable housing component of the project.”

Again, Mike Webb clarified to the Vanguard that the Senior Commission does not have the purview to render a decision on the entirety of the project – that is the role of the Planning Commission and City Council.  “As with most commissions the role here is advisory and focused on the charge and purview of the commission.  The recommendation in the staff report clearly spelled out the purview of this agenda item and the input staff desired to solicit from the commission.”

The staff recommendation going into the meeting was, “Staff is providing information on the proposed Sterling Fifth Street Apartments project for informational purposes to solicit comments from the Commission regarding project consistency with the ‘Guidelines for Housing That Serves Seniors and Persons With Disabilities.’”

The project will be reviewed and formal action will be taken at public hearings before the Planning Commission and City Council on meeting dates to be determined,” the recommendation read.

Mike Webb added that “the agenda item will be rescheduled for a future date and at a venue that can better accommodate the number of commenters and afford the opportunity for the commission to complete their deliberations.”

Elaine Roberts Musser had been a long-time member and Chair of the Senior Commission.  On Thursday, she was in attendance only as a member of the public.

She noted that there was a group from Rancho Yolo who were “vehemently against the Sterling Apt. proposal.  It was pretty intense, but it was eventually resolved amicably.”

From her perspective, “There was some confusion about whether the Senior Citizens Commission could only weigh in on the affordable housing part of the project, or if they could weigh in on its potential impacts to seniors.  The Senior Citizens Commission resolved the issue by determining to weigh in on the potential impact of the project on seniors at its next meeting.”

On the issue at hand, she said, “The Senior Citizens Commission decided the affordable housing portion, while meeting Senior Housing Guideline requirements, was not suitable for senior housing.”

There are two clear issues that have arisen by those concerned about the Sterling Apartments.  The first is the density of the project, which would include about 727 beds on the student site.

The second is an issue that is more difficult to address, which is that Rancho Yolo residents do not have control over the land on which their homes rest.  While there are safeguards in place to protect mobile home residents, several people have told the Vanguard that the city could pass an ordinance that would provide them with far greater levels of protection.

—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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105 thoughts on “Sterling Discussion at Senior Commission Turns Contentious When Discussion Is Cut Off”

  1. Tia Will

    Hi sisterhood and Happy Picnic Day !

    I have mixed feelings about the 4-5 stories. When at UCSB, I was a resident in an off campus 7 story dorm, which is what this proposal is by any other name. While there were no close neighbors as is the case here, this approach to student housing is not completely without merit. There are many, many aspects of this project that need full discussion and this is not a particularly auspicious start to full transparency.

    As for the parking structure, I could not agree more.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      THe problem we have is that if we do not want to build on the periphery, the only other way to increase supply is to build up.

      1. Ron

        David Greenwald:  “The problem we have is that if we do not want to build on the periphery, the only other way to increase supply is to build up.”

        This will continue to be used to justify zoning changes (as is the case with Sterling), to cram in ever-more dense developments throughout Davis.  There are consequences to such an approach.

        On a related note, I recall that someone posted that 47% of households in Davis are renters (compared to 51% in New York).  Is anyone considering this “fact-based” number, and the impact that (forever) increasing this percentage may cause?  Or, are we only considering “facts” that support continuing development?

        There is no actual evidence that any of the recently-proposed developments will have any meaningful impact on the vacancy rate, prices, or conversion of single-family rentals.  Only theories.

        In the meantime, the impact of overly-large developments will be obvious, if approved as developers request. And, in the case of Sterling, a zoning change would set a dangerous precedent for seniors living at Rancho Yolo. (Not to mention the impact of 545 parking spaces!)

        Dormitories belong on campus.

        I may not respond, further.

         

        1. Mark West

          “There is no actual evidence that any of the recently-proposed developments will have any meaningful impact on the vacancy rate, prices, or conversion of single-family rentals.  Only theories.”

          If you restrict housing in the face of increasing population, the vacancy rate will go down.  That is not a theory, but a fact. If you are actually interested in having a meaningful impact on the vacancy rates etc., and you are concerned that the current proposals will not be sufficient to do the job, the response that will address that problem is to increase the number and/or size of those projects. The only ways to increase the vacancy rate is to increase the availability of housing or decrease the number of people wanting to live in that housing. As long as we have the University, the number of people wanting to live here will not decrease. Fact, not theory.

        2. Ron

          Mark:

          If more housing is built (that is quickly occupied), it won’t have any impact on the vacancy rate.  Fact, not theory.

          And, the city will have to live with the impacts of the new development.  (Also, a fact.)

          Your “solution” – an “Elk Grove” model, would destroy the city. (An opinion.)

          1. Don Shor

            If more rental housing is not built, the vacancy rate will continue to drop until it reaches zero. It’s almost there.

        3. Ron

          Don:

          It seems that the city is (immediately/prematurely) considering a zoning change on the former Families First site, as if the current zoning is “automatically inadequate”.  I understand that housing is allowed, under current zoning.  (The 545 parking spaces is also a primary concern.)  I assume that the existing zoning was put into place for a reason.

          If one places a priority on increasing the housing supply (at any/all costs), existing zoning will be discarded (throughout Davis).  There won’t be any coherent plan, and the city will suffer.

           

        4. Mark West

          “Your “solution” – an “Elk Grove” model, would destroy the city. (An opinion.)”

          When have I ever said anything about creating another ‘Elk Grove?’  That is just your sad attempt to use fear of sprawl as a reason to not face our own reality.  Davis can build more housing without destroying the character and fabric of the town.  You are correct, Davis will have to “live with the impacts of the new development” but how is that any different than living with the current impacts of too little housing? They are both examples of adjusting to a changing environment, which is a simple definition of life. Stop the fear mongering and let us instead honestly discuss how we are going to meet the needs of our community, pay our bills, provide housing for our residents, and enjoy the things that make Davis a quality place to live, all while protecting the environment. It can be done, but fear mongering has no place in the conversation.   

        5. Ron

          Mark:  “When have I ever said anything about creating another ‘Elk Grove?’  That is just your sad attempt to use fear of sprawl as a reason to not face our own reality.”

          I recall you advocating for large-scale development within Davis, and beyond current borders.  (That is an “Elk Grove” model, for lack of a better comparison.)  Perhaps I’m recalling this incorrectly?  If so, my apologies.

          I agree with many of the other points you discussed.  However, I suspect that I would view, prioritize and address these issues quite differently than you would.

        6. Mark West

          “I agree with many of the other points you discussed.  However, I suspect that I would view, prioritize and address these issues quite differently than you would.”

          I am sure you would as well,  but that is to be expected whenever the number of sane people in the conversation expands beyond one. The critical first step in working together to solve a problem, however, is to recognize that the problem exists. We have a serious housing shortage in Davis and if you cannot accept that simple reality, then you are not really interested in solving that problem. The same situation exists when the discussion focuses on economic vitality, cost containment, unfunded obligations and environmental concerns (among many others). If you (or anyone) will not accept the reality in front of you, you become part of the problem and are no longer part of the solution.

        7. Ron

          Mark:  “We have a serious housing shortage in Davis and if you cannot accept that simple reality, then you are not really interested in solving that problem.”

          Underlying this statement is a key difference, between those who support large-scale development (at any cost) to accommodate the potential market, vs. those who see some value in growing more slowly, maintaining borders and keeping our city livable.  Entirely different goals.

        8. Mark West

          Ron: “those who support large-scale development (at any cost)…”

          More fear mongering.

          “keeping our city livable.”

          How can a City be ‘livable’ if it doesn’t provide a place for residents to live?  Oh, that’s right, only those who already have a place to live matter.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Mark – use logic and reason rather than mau-mauing someone down with “fear mongering.”

        9. Ron

          Mark:  “More fear mongering.”

          No – not fear mongering, but two different perspectives of the issue.  (Perhaps written in a way that admittedly favors one side.)  The primary point being that there really is a difference, regarding what one views as “best” for the city.

          Mark:  “How can a City be ‘livable’ if it doesn’t provide a place for residents to live?  Oh, that’s right, only those who already have a place to live matter.”

          Most of the (60,000?) residents of Davis have a place to live.  If you increase housing, that number will rise as a result of new residents moving in from other areas, not from those who already live here.

          I’ll probably refrain from further comments, for awhile.

           

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            “If you increase housing, that number will rise as a result of new residents moving in from other areas, not from those who already live here.”

            Yes and no. Part of the problem as I see it is a lot of people work in Davis especially at the university but don’t live here and then there is the student housing issue.

            “I’ll probably refrain from further comments, for awhile.”

            That’s unfortunate because this is the most important conversation we have right now and you are articulate and offer an important voice.

          2. Don Shor

            Most of the (60,000?) residents of Davis have a place to live. If you increase housing, that number will rise as a result of new residents moving in from other areas, not from those who already live here.

            I think your first sentence (‘most of the residents…have a place to live’) is a tautology. If they live here, they’re residents. Obviously new housing will be occupied by new residents.
            The problem is, there are several thousand people commuting in to Davis every day. 6000+ are staff, 3000+ are students. Wonder why Richards Blvd. is so clogged up at 8 am and 5:30 pm? It’s those folks. Not all of them want to live here, but some percentage of them would probably really prefer to live here rather than drive in from Dixon or Vacaville or West Sacramento or Woodland.
            Large numbers of students are grouping together in single-family homes as renters, reducing the stock of homes for first-time home buyers.
            The student population is increasing and has been increasing — far faster than any housing stock has been provided on campus or in town. This has led to a critical shortage of apartments and rental housing. That doesn’t just affect the students. There are lots of people in this town, as in any other town, who work in our stores and businesses and need to rent housing. It’s not available.
            If we don’t build rental housing, and the university enrollment increases, these shortages will become even more acute. These are costs borne by young adults working at lower wages, having to expend more of their income on transportation as they are forced to live elsewhere.
            So it is obvious that UCD needs to house more of their students. But as the biggest employer in town — and, basically, the reason Davis exists at all — the impact on the community is something our civic leaders and populace need to deal with. It takes planning and careful development to provide more housing while retaining the character that people appreciate about Davis.
            Some housing is being built. None of it is rental housing. That’s where the shortage is most acute.

        10. Mark West

          “Mark – use logic and reason rather than mau-mauing someone down with “fear mongering.”

          I tried. Ron is apparently not interested in either logic or reason, which is why he reverts to his ‘Elk Grove’ and ‘at any cost’ comments among many others. After years of putting up with the same sort of nonsense from other anti-change activists, I’m just tired of it. Rational solutions are not possible when people refuse to think and act rationally.

          We cannot solve our cost issues if we won’t face up to what those costs are.  We cannot address our fiscal imbalance if we tell everyone that our budget is balanced and ‘everything is improving’ while we ignore the $100’s of millions of unfunded obligations. We cannot address the damage being done to the City and our residents when we refuse to acknowledge the absurd housing shortage (while at the same time pontificating about the importance of our affordable housing program). Too many of our ‘leaders’ would rather focus on furthering their political careers than doing the hard work of solving the City’s problems, so it really should come as no surprise that so many of our community’s ‘activists’ are focused on their own ‘wants’ at the exclusion of addressing the community’s ‘needs.’ This selfishness has to be called out for what it is, not just brushed aside and ignored, or worse, papered over with platitudes so that someone can ‘feel good.’

          We can, together, solve the many serious problems that our City faces, but we will not do so as long as we allow our leaders and community activists to ignore the reality of the situations we face. We can no longer afford that level of selfishness in our discourse or actions.  It really is as simple as that.

        11. Ron

          Don:

          I’m not sure that a study has been done to determine the origination point of drivers within Davis.  Not sure that you can draw firm conclusions.  For example, if they’re driving in from Woodland, wouldn’t they primarly use Highway 113, and exit very near the University?  Some residents of Davis drive, as well.

          I understand that a significant number of people living in Woodland, for example, take public transportation (Yolobus), to the University.  (Partly as a result of lack of parking at the University, itself.)  Not sure if the University subsidizes the cost of public transportation (Yolobus) for its students, workers, and staff. (If not, perhaps the University could consider this.)

          Also – didn’t you just point out (above) that 57% of housing in Davis already consists of rental housing?  Ideally, how high should that percentage be? (Or, is this something that shouldn’t even be examined/considered?)

          I doubt that adding any (realistic) amount of housing in Davis will affect rental or sales prices.  But, I do understand your point.  (Perhaps that’s a reason to be concerned about the lack of affordable housing regarding the current Nishi proposal, which was granted under questionable circumstances.)  However, I think that housing at Nishi might ultimately make sense (due to its proximity to the University), if vehicular access was not permitted onto Olive/Richards.  (Ideally, I’d like to see the University purchase the property.)  I recall that someone (Mike Harrington?) mentioned that the city should have an ownership interest in the property, as well.  (Presumably, to ensure that the city has some “say” in any development.)

          I’m not sure how eliminating vehicular access would affect the commercial component of Nishi, but I have doubts regarding the viability of commercial at that location/development, regardless.  (Perhaps that’s the reason that the developer is apparently proposing residential uses within the commercial space, despite the fact that this is prohibited.)

           

           

          1. Don Shor

            Just answering your first point, UCD does, in fact, do transportation studies on a regular basis. Click through this to see the 2013-14 survey.
            http://taps.ucdavis.edu/sites/taps.ucdavis.edu/files/attachments/CTSPressRelease.pdf

            The number taking public transportation is relatively small, and likely will continue to be small. It’s much, much faster and easier to drive. Public transit locally is seriously lacking, in part because of the geographic separation of Davis from the metropolitan district that it is included in (Sac), and the fact that Solano County is in a different planning/transportation region. And because local public transit has been historically been provided by Unitrans within the city limits. Public transit is generally not cost-effective and usually ends up being taxpayer-subsidized to a large degree. You can take the bus to and from Woodland, but it isn’t fast or efficient, and it isn’t cost-effective to any agency to make it faster or more efficient. Davis is kind of uniquely isolated in that regard compared to other campus communities.

            I don’t know what percentage of housing ‘should’ be rental vs. owner-occupied. I see no actual reason to consider there any ideal percentage with respect to whether a property is owned or rented. I don’t think that’s a useful metric compared to, say, the apartment vacancy rate.

            I doubt that adding any (realistic) amount of housing in Davis will affect rental or sales prices.

            The impact of the tight rental market was felt during the recession. Apartment rents in all surrounding communities fell. Rents in Davis continued to go up, though a bit more slowly than usual. Again: those who could least afford it are paying for this problem.
            I do not think the current affordable housing policies of Davis do anything to help anybody that needs help. They actually impede the development of housing that lower-income people can afford. They are counterproductive. But that’s really another discussion.

        12. Ron

          I’d like to clarify something further, regarding my comments on Nishi.

          It might also be a good location for commercial development (in some ways, if vehicular traffic can somehow be addressed).  However, I’m not sure that the forced “mixed-use” nature of the proposed buildings lends itself to commercial development (and the market/demand for it).  (Seems like the underlying motivation to propose “mixed-use” might be more closely related to a desire to avoid affordable housing requirements.)

        13. Matt Williams

          Ron said . . . “Also – didn’t you just point out (above) that 57% of housing in Davis already consists of rental housing?  Ideally, how high should that percentage be? (Or, is this something that shouldn’t even be examined/considered?)”

          It absolutely should be examined/considered, but I’m not sure that there is any way to come to an objective conclusion.  I’m not even sure what the criteria would be to weigh the question.

          With that said, what differences would you expect to see in identical hypothetical 70,000 resident cities at a 50% rental rate or a 60% rental rate or a 70% rental rate or a 80% rental rate or a 90% rental rate?

          What do you see as the fundamental differences between the prototypical renter vs. the prototypical owner?

           

           

           

           

           

        14. Ron

          Don:

          Again, I’ve heard that there are a significant (and growing) number of people who take Yolobus from Woodland (in particular), to the University.  (Probably mostly staff members, and some faculty).  Especially from the newer development, near the Southern end of Woodland.  (And, a lot more development to come, without the controls that Davis enjoys.)  Not sure that these commuters have (specifically) been considered.  It seems like an easy, short and direct trip via public transportation, with no parking hassles.

          In general, perhaps public transportation can also be improved via shuttles, etc.  (I seem to recall that you once suggested this.)

          I commuted to Sacramento for years, via Yolobus. So did many of my neighbors. It was kind of enjoyable, actually. Walked to/from the bus stop, as well.

          If Davis starts building on its periphery, the developments will (also) not be close to the University.  And, they’ll have to go through the city to get to the University.

          Regarding the percentage of renters already living in Davis (57%), I don’t know all of the ramifications of completely disregarding this figure.  (I agree that there’s not an “ideal” percentage, but it probably changes the nature of services required, etc., if these figures change.)  For example, we might then need more parks/recreational areas.  (No backyards, for those who live in apartments, or for those who live in some of the newer developments.)

          Regarding affordable housing, I strongly suspect that those who are able to take advantage of these opportunities would have a very different view than you.

          My main point is that there are ramifications/consequences to the “build it without question” mentality that some seem to advocate.  (Not you, although you’re far more development-oriented than I am.)

        15. Alan Miller

          There is no actual evidence that any of the recently-proposed developments will have any meaningful impact on the vacancy rate, prices, or conversion of single-family rentals.  Only theories.

          You are F-ing kidding us all, right?

        16. Ron

          Alan:  “You are F-ing kidding us all, right?”

          No – I’m not.  To have any meaningful effect on vacancy rates, housing/rental prices, the city would have to pursue Mark’s approach.  (Not just a few developments.)  So, in a sense, Mark is right. Anything short of that will mostly just impact those already living here, and add new residents.

          That “solution” does not seem very appealing.

          I expected negative feedback, as a result of the controls implemented regarding development. Davis is a “pioneer”, at this point. No other city even attempts this. (Too much influence from developers, for one thing.)

        17. Jim Frame

          What do you see as the fundamental differences between the prototypical renter vs. the prototypical owner?

          The prototypical renter maintains his/her residence less diligently than does the prototypical owner-occupier.  And the prototypical landlord is an enabler in this regard.  The result is that rental properties (I’m talking mostly about single-family rentals rather than apartment complexes) contribute much more visual blight to a neighborhood than do owner-occupied homes.  This is especially true if the house is rented to unrelated individuals.

          Somewhere in there is a tipping point:  when the percentage of rentals reaches a certain level, the owner-occupiers increasingly flee, often compounding the problem by renting out their former residences.

        18. South of Davis

          Jim wrote:

          > Somewhere in there is a tipping point:  when the percentage of

          > rentals reaches a certain level, the owner-occupiers increasingly

          > flee, often compounding the problem by renting out their former residences.

          Jim makes a lot of good points, but it is important to point out that a city like Detroit with an increasing percentage of renters (and high crime, bad schools and low property values) is a lot different from a city like Burlingame with an increasing percentage of renters (and low crime, good schools and property values more than double that of Davis).  It is also important to point out that ALL “college towns” have a high percentage of renters (not many undergrads buy a home after moving out of the dorms and few people buy a home after moving to a new state for a couple years to get a masters degree).

    2. sisterhood

      Hi Tia,

      Some of my happiest Davis memories are of picnic days, especially when my kids were young. They just loved the entimology exhibits, the cockroach races in particular. The honey tasting, live music, the cow! The frisbee dogs, and ending the day with the Doxie Derby.  Good times.

      Enjoy, everyone.

      Re: parking, I’m disappointed that students expect parking. I wish they’d walk and ride bikes more, like they did 30 years ago. When I was in college, only two of my friends had cars! And now that Davis has a Target, and fairly good public transportation. there is no reason for students to need a car.

    3. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > which is what this proposal is by any other name.

      There is a BIG difference between an “off campus dorm” (like FT at UCSB or EC at SDSU that rents rooms with shared bathrooms to students and has a dining hall) and an “off campus apartment” (like Sterling and The U around the corner that rents “standard apartments” to anyone and does not have a dining hall).

      1. Tia Will

        SOD

        There is a BIG difference between an “off campus dorm”…..”

        There is a big difference for the renters of these units. There is very little difference in the impact on the surrounding neighborhoods.

    4. South of Davis

      Don wrote:

      > According to Wikipedia, as of 2012 57% of the housing

      > units in town were renter-occupied.

      Any idea what percentage of the “housing units” in town are apartments (since apartments are 100% “renter-occupied”).  Towns like Hillsborough and Atherton on the Peninsula don’t have any apartments and over 95% of the housing units are “owner occupied” (there are some maids renting guest cottages and rich people renting places like the link below).

      http://www.homes.com/property/ridge-view-dr-sutherland-dr-atherton-ca-94027/id-244934922/

      1. Matt Williams

        SoD, here are a few pieces of data that can help us get an approximation.

        The 2010 US Census says Davis has 25,869 “housing units” of which 44.1% are owner occupied (approximately 11,400) with the remaining 55.9% non-owner occupied (approximately 14,469).

        Bringing those numbers together with the ones below, approximately 4,000 of the non-owner occupied units are single family residences and 10,469 are apartments, with 100% of the apartments being rental units and 27% of the single family residences being rentals.

        ——————————————–

        The Water Advisory Committee process was provided with water meter data that indicates there are 14,736 Single Family Residences in Davis.

        Calculations based on DJUSD’s Measure C Parcel Tax tells us that there are approximately 10,200 Multi-Family Units.

        UCD’s 2015 Apartment Vacancy and Rental Rate Survey received responses from a total of 143 apartment complexes and property management, representing 9,905 rental units. The survey reports an 83% response rate, making the total number of apartments somewhere between 10,000 and 11,000.

        1. South of Davis

          Matt:

          Thanks for the info, but I bet that far less than 27% of the single family homes in Davis are rentals since it does not look like your numbers include the large number of condos, duplex, triplex and fourplex units in town.

          P.S. I know most “condos” in town have one water meter (and the HOA pays the bill).  Any idea if the typical duplex, triplex or fourplex unit in town has one water meter for the property or a meter for each unit?

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      I don’t think it is fair to say they “dislike” students or low income people. I think it’s fair to say that providing them with housing is overshadowed by other priorities.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          Is the goal to prevent other from living or to reduce the impacts of them doing so – traffic impacts, blight, quality of life, small town, etc?

        2. Tia Will

          Frankly

          The only other priority that I can see is to prevent people of limited means from living here.”

          Perhaps that is because you are not looking closely enough. I can be considered both an “old folk and a liberal” and yet I certainly do not “dislike students”. I have one child who is currently a student and one who will be going back as a post bach this fall.

          As for “low income people”, I don’t dislike them either. I was one for the first 30 + years of my  life. However, I do not agree that the best way to benefit them is to displace them in order to build new student housing as will occur if the Olive Drive student housing is approved. I do not believe that it benefits small business owners to be displaced in order to provide spaces for more affluent members of the community. I do not believe in what is essentially “trickle down housing”.

          Although this would have been a very unpopular point of view in OEDNA, I would not have been a vocal opponent of the Trackside development had it been intended as affordable rather than luxury apartments. I purposely chose to buy in a community that has three student housing cooperatives as well as two apartment complexes on our block.

          I truly believe that we should be helping the less affluent members of our community directly, not through “in lieu” options for which many will not qualify. Those of us who are affluent do not need further assistance in the form of zoning changes and disregard for design guidelines. Those who have enough to invest ( you and me included) do not need assistance, and yet our society insists on “giving” to those who do not need gifts at the expense of those we should be helping.

           

        3. Frankly

          That is a convenient excuse for opposing everything.  People cause impacts.  Crap let’s just get rid of all the people and then Davis would be perfect!

          I am already irritated with all the city congestion that has developed over the years.  Students are irritating.  They congest the town.  They make parking difficult.  They make too much noise.  They drive poorly.  They ignore stop signs riding their bikes.  They attract outside low-life types to their parties.  And low income families will bring more crime to the city and create more problems in the schools.   But I can use my rational processing capability to develop a reasonable perspective for these things.  As for the students, unless UCD can be blocked from growing, they are gonna’ keep coming.  As for the low-income people, it is immoral to prevent some reasonable affordable housing to keep Davis exclusive, white and wealthy.

          And it is both immoral and fiscally irresponsible to keep blocking developments that would increase jobs and revenue that would come to the city.

          I see much of the opposition to every recent development proposal to be emotional tantrums of people lacking a rational or reasonable perspective.

        4. Frankly

          I truly believe that we should be helping the less affluent members of our community directly, not through “in lieu” options for which many will not qualify. Those of us who are affluent do not need further assistance in the form of zoning changes and disregard for design guidelines. Those who have enough to invest ( you and me included) do not need assistance, and yet our society insists on “giving” to those who do not need gifts at the expense of those we should be helping.

          This is a bunch of mumbo jumbo.

          Davis housing is expensive for one reason and only one reason: the demand over the supply.  If you want to make housing more affordable for people of limited means you would support increasing the supply of housing in Davis.

          You say you care, yet your actions don’t support your words.

          Where I come from the most profound “giving” manifests when I give up things I truly value to help others.  I would not support growing Davis housing more than 1-2% per year if we did not have such a large deficit of housing at this point.  And once we get to a say 3-5% vacancy rate, I would be back to demanding the 1-2% per year growth rate.

          But I would expect impacts with any and all housing growth.  It would be irrational to expect that we can somehow build this housing and not have any impacts from it.

          That is the basis of my irritation with those that oppose growth at every stop… and why I have no problem labeling them NIMBYs and change-averse.   They oppose anything and everything that has even the slightest indication of negative impacts to their precious Davis existence.  That is an unreasonable expectation and one that they all need to be consistently called out on.

      1. Mark West

        “I don’t think it is fair to say they “dislike” students or low income people. I think it’s fair to say that providing them with housing is overshadowed by other priorities.”

        I think this comment is hilarious. I have lived in Davis the majority of my life, and the anti-student aspect of City politics has been strong and prevalent for the entirety of that time. Decisions are frequently couched in different terms in an effort to hide the true intent, but the simple reality is that what is overshadowing providing housing for students is the desire to keep students out of Davis politics. Though it is an example of painting with a ‘very large brush,’ Frankly has the gist of the situation correct. A very vocal segment of Davis’s aging population does not want students living here, and really don’t want them involved in deciding how Davis will evolve.

        1. Ron

          Mark:

          The opposition to MRIC (with housing) or Covell Village (two examples that I recall) did not have anything to do with students.

          You’re simply trying to cause a divide between students and others.  The usual inflammatory rhetoric that you prefer to engage in.

          In general, students are usually MORE environmentally-minded, not less.

          Seems to me that most of the pro-development types are not “spring chickens”!

        2. hpierce

          Interesting perspective… in the early 70’s there was a big push to annex the UCD dorms, ostensibly to get more liberal voters into the mix.  I fought against it.  My logic was why should a student, here for 4-5 years be ‘deciding factors’ to pass bond issues that had 25-30 year duration.

          When I was a student living IN the City, I voted in my home precinct in the Bay Area.  Same logic.

          I’ve now lived on UCD or in the City for ~ 41 years. And always vote.

          If “progressive”/liberals were thinking about it, they’d want MORE students living in the City limits if they thought students related to their viewpoints, and FEWER if they thought students would side more with a moderate/conservative viewpoint.

          I strongly favor more housing on campus, but more for transportation/environmental issues.

        3. Mark West

          “Impugning people’s motivations is not a good way to change minds.”

          Whose motivation did I impugn?  I stated an obvious characteristic of Davis politics. I did not claim that it was ‘everybody’ who felt this way, or even that it was a majority opinion. I simply stated the obvious, that it was a driving force behind some of anti-housing advocacy.

          How can we address our problems if we refuse to face reality?  Part of that reality is understanding why there is so much opposition to building more apartments and affordable housing in town, and the answer to that is that some folks simply do not want students or financially disadvantaged people mucking up their ‘quality of life.’ It is not the only answer, but it has been an aspect of Davis politics for decades.

        4. hpierce

          David, you and Don should look @ TJ’s comments re:  Eric Lee… FAR beyond ‘impugning’… possibly libelous, and definitely out-of-bounds as to the VG’s purported ‘personal attack’ criteria…

        5. Tia Will

          I think this comment is hilarious”

          Decisions are frequently couched in different terms in an effort to hide the true intent,

          It seems that I was able to provide for you, both a good laugh, and the ability to display your mind reading skills. You frequently portray yourself as someone who considers a subject logically and Frankly likes to portray himself as someone who is “objective to a fault” and yet both of you frequently indulge in speculating on others “true intent”. This is far from a factual or logical approach but neither of you seems to be able to acknowledge that you are unable to ascertain what is in the hearts and minds of others. 

          For me, this does not constitute a sound basis for a logical discussion.

    2. Anon

      It seems that Davis old folk and Davis liberals dislike students and low income people in their community.”

      I don’t think “old folk… dislike students”.  Come down to Connections Cafe at the Senior Center on Monday nights, and you will see UCD students, DHS/DaVinci/junior high students positively interacting with “old folk” to the joy of both.

      Eleanor Roosevelt Circle (ERC) has experienced quite a few problems with students who live in the apartment complex next door.  The Sterling proposal will be even larger than the one next to ERC.  I can understand the concerns of the Rancho Yolo folks.  I am not saying it should necessarily outweigh other policy considerations, but they certainly have legitimate concerns and a right to be heard.  That is part of the democratic process.

    3. Tia Will

      Frankly

      It seems that Davis old folk and Davis liberals dislike students and low income people in their community.”

      Perhaps you would consider a Davis City version of this solution :

      “Next month, the Immigration Department will start deporting seniors ( instead of illegals) in order to lower Social Security and Medicare costs. Older people are easier to catch and less likely to remember how to get home”.

      PS : sorry for the lack of appropriate attribution. This was sent to my partner by email with no reference given. I thought it might provide a bit of Picnic Day fun !

       

      1. sisterhood

        Frankly, re: your comment that low income folks bring more crime, I’d like to see your supporting data. Middle class  and high income folks also commit crime, albeit white collar.

        1. South of Davis

          sisterhood wrote:

          > I’d like to see your supporting data.

          You can look up the crime stats for any high income city (e.g. Atherton) and compare them to the crime stats for any low income city (e.g. Richmond) and just about every low income area has more crime.  Inside just about every city the lower income areas almost always have more crime than the higher income areas (is there a way to see the Old East Davis crime numbers compared to the Lake Alhambra crime numbers?)

    4. Miwok

      It seems that Davis old folk and Davis liberals dislike students and low income people in their community.

      No, but some turn their rentals into frat houses and party places. They have no respect for neighbors or the community. I have lived next to ex-frat boys, and they have insisted to me when they are addressed, they have a “right” to make as much noise as they want since “they pay rent”.

      Since the Police, Animal Control and the City were on my speed dial in those days, I can only surmise it has gotten worse. It is often like this in the multi-story buildings I have been in, and during the summer it only gets more rowdy because of the Summer Programs UCD puts on and invites Junior High Students and above.

  2. Anon

    As Don Sherman described it, Ms. Mendez began to “shout” “louder and louder” for the attendees to “quiet down” and “take it easy”.  He said that several of the attendees approached the dias, suggesting to the chair to allow people to speak who wanted to speak.

    He said, “As Ms Mendez was screaming, “shut up and sit down,” All but maybe ten-or-so of the roomful behind me got up and noisily strode out through the rear doors.”

    He said, “The meeting resumed, I was one of a handful who stayed, because I wanted to know what came next, and would have welcomed being recognized to speak, even if just the Commission and the City officials would have heard me.”

    With all due respect, this is not what happened.  The Rancho Yolo folks apparently did not understand that when the Sterling Apt item concluded, there was still a commission meeting to conduct with other agenda items to be deliberated upon.  Unfortunately some members of the audience approached commissioners and the Chair, instead of leaving the room, and were not allowing the commissioners to continue the meeting.  Pandemonium ensued for a few minutes, while the city staff liaison to the commission and the Chair tried to explain to the people talking to commissioners that a meeting was still in progress.  At no time was Ms. Mendez screaming, and I certainly never heard her say “shut up and sit down”.  She along with the city staff liaison was merely attempting to gain control of the meeting and conduct business, as was appropriate.  I did hear some disrespectful comments from members of the audience who spoke without being recognized, for which the spokesman of the Rancho Yolo group came back to the commission after everyone had left and apologized.   It was understandable that the Rancho Yolo folks were upset, since they had been given notice the meeting would include public comment about the entire project as it related to its effect on seniors.  However, city staffers (not the commission’s city staff liaison) were insisting only the affordable housing portion could be addressed.  This created great confusion for the commissioners including the Chair, and for the audience.

    Again, Mike Webb clarified to the Vanguard, that the Senior Commission does not have the purview to render a decision on the entirety of the project – that is the role of the Planning Commission and City Council.  “As with most commissions the role here is advisory and focused on the charge and purview of the commission.  The recommendation in the staff report clearly spelled out the purview of this agenda item and the input staff desired to solicit from the commission.“”

    I will have to respectfully disagree with Mike Webb on this issue, who is an excellent city staffer by the way.  The mission of the Senior Citizens Commission is as follows: “Advises the City Council on all matters relating to policies and programs which serve senior citizens in the community. Identifies the needs of the aging in the community and creates citizen awareness programs for those needs. Explores improved standards of service to the aging and new services both in private and public sectors.”  Even city staff in their announcement recognized the right of the Senior Citizens Commission to advise the City Council on the project in its entirety as it relates to how it might effect seniors when they added the phrase “as well as general senior issues related to the project“.

    The Senior Citizens Commission has run into this problem before with city staff about limiting its scope on housing decisions, e.g. the Cannery project.  City staff tried to limit input from the commission to essentially just any senior housing component of the Cannery.  But the commission felt strongly they had the right to weigh in on the entire project from the perspective of how it would relate to senior citizens in general.  As a result, the commission strongly pushed for universal design in the project, so that senior citizens could age in place should they purchase a home there.  In consequence, the developer took the commission’s recommendation to heart, and added universal design features wherever feasible, and ultimately won an award for it.

    The mission of the Senior Citizens Commission is very nuanced, and I suspect that is what causes the confusion of city staff and the public.  While I agree with Mike Webb that the Senior Citizens Commission’s mission would not be that “a  decision would be rendered on the [Sterling] proposal“, it is perfectly appropriate for this commission to review the overall project as it relates to impacts on senior citizens.  The reality is this particular proposal is located near three senior housing developments/facilites, Rancho Yolo, the Carlton assisted living facility, and Eleanor Roosevelt Circle.  If it is full of a massive number of students, it will most definitely have an impact on the senior citizens concentrated in the area surrounding it and their quality of life.  There may be ways of mitigating the impacts, or the City Council may decide seniors will just have to grin and bear it because the need for student housing is so great.  But certainly senior citizens have the right to go to the commission that represents them, and be permitted that forum to voice their concerns.  And that is precisely what is going to happen at the next Senior Citizens Commission meeting.  An agenda item will be placed on the commission’s calendar to allow folks to voice their opinions on the impact the proposed Sterling Apts. will have on their quality of life.
    Democracy is a messy process, but the one thing it does is allow the populace to at least know they have been heard by their gov’t.  That said, it is incumbent on the populace to remain civil when voicing those concerns.

    1. Tia Will

      Anon

      Thanks so much for providing the explanation and alternative view of this meeting. And also for your ongoing efforts to improve the quality of life for seniors in our community.

  3. Jim Leonard

    “As Don Sherman described it, Ms. Mendez began to “shout” “louder and louder” for the attendees to “quiet down” and “take it easy”. ” City staff are not listening nor are they really making room for Rancho Yolo residents to have their opinions heard. City staff’s problem is getting Sterling approved. It is clear what their “marching orders” are. But staff know they must have the project proceed with minimum “noise” from the citizens. Thus, when there was a meeting about Sterling, Rancho Yolo residents were “shouted down”. The residents were treated as secondary citizens: mere mobile home owners, “senior citizens”–i.e. those deserving of pity and maybe assistance but not to be taken seriously, particularly if not wealthy.

    Planning issues aside, the Sterling Project needs to be shut down for democracy’s sake, until City Hall learns to treat its citizens with dignity.

      1. tj

        David,  I would say that it has become painfully clear, time and time again over this last year, that Eric Lee is in the pocket of the Sterling developers, for what ever reason he might have.   He sent legally required Notices to neighboring residents, as well as personal emails, stating there would be public comment on the Sterling project at the Senior Commission meeting.  When Ms. Mendez was caught unaware of this, he never once spoke up to admit the problem he caused.  Nor did he apologize to the audience, he just sat there and smiled.

         

        1. hpierce

          OK… Mr Lee is not a “public official” as that term is commonly used… we have a poster who basically publicly accuses him of graft/corruption… so much for the VG posting guidelines/rules… hope the poster has a dictionary to look up the word ‘libel’… moderator is probably @ Picnic Day…

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            hpierce, I disagree that Mr. Lee is not a public official, he’s a city employee. I disagree with TJ’s take, but I think it’s better that we address openly rather than through moderation. Because what TJ is saying, tons of people at Rancho Yolo are thinking. So it’s better to address it.

        2. David Greenwald Post author

          I have a different view TJ. I think the city’s notice was sloppy. It opened a door that I don’t think they intended. They should have allowed comments at that point and stayed there an extra hour to accommodate the public. I don’t think the handling of this was good, but I don’t think Eric is anyone’s pocket and frankly, he’s not the decision-maker here – that will be the Planning Commission and ultimately the council.

      2. hpierce

        Eric Lee is in the pocket of the Sterling developers

        OK… so Mr Lee is called out by name, charged with a potential criminal offense, by an anonymous poster.  No “might”, no “may”, no “appears”… if the quote had said “the City”, “staff” (in general), I might get your points/explanation, but that is NOT what was said.

        I’ll remember your interpretations if I choose to make that level of personal attack on someone.

        Will start now… whose “pocket” are you in, TJ? The Rancho Yolo leaders? Mike Harrington?

        After all, David, some people believe that…best to discuss it… get it out in the open…

      3. Miwok

        You’re suggesting we punish the developers here for errors that staff made, that doesn’t seem very democratic to me.

        NONE of this is democratic, as evidenced by your article that cut off citizens discussion and comments. And this by an “Advisory Committee”. They sound like a practice run for the CC.

        Then you, David, defend clever developers? very funny. If the citizens don’t understand what is going on, perhaps the City is not explaining well enough. And by shutting down comments, defending developers, you are giving us all a lesson in why these “committees” are as much of the problem as the Planning commission and CC?

    1. Anon

      Thus, when there was a meeting about Sterling, Rancho Yolo residents were “shouted down”.

      The Rancho Yolo residents were not shouted down.  They were asked to leave once the item concluded, but instead some members of the audience tried to continue their discussion with commissioners.  The Chair and the city staff liaison had to bring order to continue to conduct business.  If citizens want to be treated with dignity, then they need to be civil, and there were definitely some members of the audience who were less than civil.  However, in the audience’s defense, 1) they did not understand there was still a meeting going on; 2) there was understandable confusion on the part of the audience and commissioners as to what public comment could be taken, based on city staff’s announcement of what would be covered on the Sterling agenda item.

      1. Tia Will

        Anon

        A couple of questions since you were there and I was not.

        1. Was the scope of the discussion made clear to the audience at the beginning of the meeting ?

        2. Was the time allotment for the discussion made clear at the beginning of the meeting ?

        3. Was there a time allotment per audience member who wished to speak ?

        4. Was there any discussion about civility of discussion and a format which did not include interchanges between members of the audience made clear ?

        I am asking these questions because I until a few years ago I had never attended a commission meeting and had to learn the rules under which they operate. When the chair if the commission states clear the scope of discussion and the parameters that I asked about, I have found the process to be very informative and for the most part civil. When there is ambiguity about process, there is a tendency to devolve into anger and personal animosity.

  4. sprawlingdensity

    The only way we can keep our Davis hamlet pure and true is to run any developer out of town, but only after we waste some of their money and spin the wheels of our city staff.  Ideally we spend 18 months on this churn and allow a new batch of council members to continue the process.  We don’t need any development in Davis we can just tax tax tax……….

    1. tj

      There’d be no problem with Sterling if it complied with the general plan, with zoning and density requirements, etc.

      When developers propose, and spend money, to break all the rules, they’re doing it with forethought and at their own risk.

      1. hpierce

        Does not the application also request and require amendments to the GP and of the zoning documents?  Think it is more accurate to say that they are looking for clarification and/or amendment of “the rules”… if only for their site… it is their right to ask, be heard, and evaluated… with no promises as to outcome.

        1. Mark West

          “it is their right to ask, be heard, and evaluated… with no promises as to outcome.”

          Which is, in fact, the purpose of our planning process. The applicant asks for what they want, and the City responds with what will be allowed. It is the standard process of give-and-take negotiation that allows for communities to evolve and respond to a changing environment. Cities do not exist in a static environment, so it would be foolish to operate with zoning rules and regulations that are frozen in time.

        2. hpierce

          I’ll disagree with your term “negotiation”, Mark,  as I believe it should be a “process”… carefully protected by law, not negotiation… if I lived next to you, wanted 5 feet of your property, should you have to negotiate with me?  If you wanted to add a ‘granny flat’ next to my property, should you have to negotiate with me?

          I may be a dinosaur, but I believe in process and the rule of law. Even if that means changing the law, under the rules of the law.

        3. Mark West

          Zoning regulations are not laws set in stone, they are guidelines that the City has chosen to use to regulate development and are subject to change (following the legally approved process) on a parcel by parcel and/or project by project basis. It is a negotiation between what the land owner wants, and what the City will allow, with the City having the power to say no at anytime.

          In your example my neighbor (you) would have no legal basis for demanding 5′ of my property, but he would have the right to ask the City to change the zoning to allow the granny flat on his property. As the immediate neighbor, I would have the right to ask the City not to make that zoning change (with appropriate legal steps to challenge the decision if I am denied). The negotiation is between the City and the applicant (property owner), not between the applicant and the neighbor.  If I chose to throw eggs and rotten tomatoes at your new granny flat because of your obnoxious behavior, that is a completely seperate issue.

  5. Misanthrop

    Just looked at Zillow. Housing in Davis mostly $300-$400 per square foot range with some downtown properties even higher. Housing in Elk Grove $150-$200 per square foot. I recognize both communities represent opposite extremes on the supply and demand curve but those who excoriate Elk Grove must recognize that taking the opposite extreme of restricting supply or as Davis once voted “to grow as slowly as possible” has resulted in higher real estate costs for our citizens both temporary and permanent. It has also added to the cost of an education here.

  6. Matthew

    It should be relatively easy to copy another city’s model policy for protecting mobile home park seniors. After the mobile home park evictions in Palo Alto that nearly went through I understand why residents of Rancho Yolo are worried.

    1. South of Davis

      If I was the Sterling developer I would tell all the residents of Rancho Yolo that if they continue to try and stop me from building on the Sterling site across the street I’ll try and do a deal with the owner of Rancho Yolo (where he will make FAR more every month as the owner of land under an upscale apartment than the owner of land with “a bunch of old people in trailers paying pad rent”)…

  7. Tia Will

    Frankly

    That is a convenient excuse for opposing everything”

    Except for that pesky fact that you know that I do not “oppose everything”. I did not oppose the moving of the student co-op houses into my neighborhood. I was not in opposition to the DIC as far as it got. I would not be opposed to a three story project at the Trackside location. Nor would I oppose affordable housing at this site. I am uncertain about, but certainly not in opposition to Nishi. So I realize it is much simpler to just claim that I “oppose everything” than it is to give any thought to the specific issues that I raise. As far as my “mumbo jumbo” which interestingly enough does not appear to be “mumbo jumbo” in the majority of similarly wealthy nations that provide significantly stronger safety nets for their populations.

    Where I come from the most profound “giving” manifests when I give up things I truly value to help others.”

    Then it seems to me that you should be far more willing to give up your money since that is what you seem to value the most ( according to your previous posts), and yet, you repeatedly rail against more taxes. By the same token, since what I value the most is my time, it would seem that you would be congratulating me on the amount of time that I donate to tutoring, mentoring, project development , and advocating for my values but instead you  ( and some other posters) seem focused on what I care very little about namely my money.

     

    1. Ron

      I’ve always been sort of entertained by the communications between Tia and Frankly.  Sort of reminds me of “Point, Counter-Point” on the original Saturday Night Live.  In any case, I agree that Tia is more accepting of development than some have portrayed, especially if it includes affordable housing.

      I was most impressed when Tia said that while she is proud of her accomplishments, she isn’t “proud of her money”.  Something like that.  (I think that will stick with me, for a long time.)

       

    2. Frankly

      Then it seems to me that you should be far more willing to give up your money since that is what you seem to value the most

      First, I already give up lots of my money to the looting machine of your dreams.

      Second, money is not the thing I value the most… not by a long-shot.  And I have lived many, many more years of my life not having much of it.  But I was working at age 12 to earn my own money and I won’t stop until I am in my late 60s or early 70s assuming my health allows.

      Third, by retaining more of my money I can and do invest it in things that provide much greater benefit to the overall human condition than does the government that loots it from me… using it primarily to enrich a few of the government-class elites.

  8. South of Davis

    Ron wrote:

    > I’ve always been sort of entertained by the

    > communications between Tia and Frankly.

    It is like Fox vs. MSNBC with Tia rarely going away from the liberal Democrat “talking points” Frankly rarely getting away from the conservative Republican “talking points”…

  9. Anon

    “Miwok: “Anon, was it a public meeting? Could they stay and watch? Were they told that?”

    Yes it was a public meeting.  Yes the audience was free to stay and watch, and one gentleman did remain to listen.

    Tia Will: “A couple of questions since you were there and I was not.
    1. Was the scope of the discussion made clear to the audience at the beginning of the meeting ?
    2. Was the time allotment for the discussion made clear at the beginning of the meeting ?
    3. Was there a time allotment per audience member who wished to speak ?
    4. Was there any discussion about civility of discussion and a format which did not include interchanges between members of the audience made clear ?”

    1. The scope of the question was made clear to the audience and commission by a city staffer at the beginning of the meeting.  The problem was a) the notice contradicted the scope stated at the meeting; b) city staff does not have the right to limit the mission of the commission.
    2. The Chair notified speakers they would have 5 minutes apiece (that is the number I thought I heard) at the beginning of the meeting.
    3. Unfortunately after several speakers had an opportunity to speak, city staff interrupted the commission process to remind commissioners that only the portion of the project regarding affordable housing was to be considered.  Commissioners raised objections to that limitation, and made the decision to close public comment but agendize the entire project for discussion as it related to seniors for the next meeting because the meeting was beginning to get raucous as members of the audience were speaking out of turn.
    4. Commissioners were not prepared for a conflict between what the notice said and what city staff insisted on at the meeting.  That conflict is what caused the meeting to go off the rails on all sides.  However, the matter was resolved amicably by ensuring anyone who wanted to speak to the entire project as it related to impacts on seniors could do so at the next meeting.  I believe city staff is making an effort to hold the next meeting in the City Council Chambers, so there is a buffer between commissioners and the audience, so the meeting cannot be easily interrupted by audience members.

    1. Matt Williams

      I concur with Anon’s observations.  I was surprised that the Commission Chair allotted 5 minutes to each speaker given the large number of people in the room (between 70 and 100).  The Commission invited Josh Vasbinder, the applicant representative, to speak, but Josh was not in the room when it came time for him to speak.

      The text of the Notice of Public Meeting that caused the conflict was/is as follows.  The final ten (10) words of that description of the meeting purpose were what expanded the discussion to the whole project rather than just the affordable component of the project.

      Meeting Purpose:

      The purpose of the meeting is to present the project to the Senior Commission for their input on the affordable housing proposal as well as general senior issues related to the project.

       

  10. Anon

    There is supposed to be an open house in regard to the Sterling Apt draft EIR, for the public to ask questions and make written comments at the First Families site from 6-8 pm.  What is interesting is that in the notice about the open house, it is stated that those items determined to have no impact or no significant impact in the Initial Study would not be revisited in the draft EIR.  What I don’t understand is the following question is answered in two different ways that contradict each other: “Would the project – a) cause an increase in traffic which is substantial in relation to the existing traffic load and capacity of the street system (i.e., result in a substantial increase in either the number of vehicle trips, the volume to capacity ratio on roads, or congestion at intersections)?  b) exceed, either individually or cumulatively, a level of service standard established by the county congestion management agency for designated roads or highways?”  On page 106 of the Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration Jan 2016 it states “less than substantial impact” to both these questions, but on p 52 of the Initial Study April 2016 it states “potentially significant impact” to both questions.  Which is it?  The reality is that if there are to be 545 new parking spaces for this project, that is the potential for 545 more cars at the intersection of Pole Line and 5th Street/Russell.  I would say that would have a significant impact on traffic.  What assumptions were changed between January of 2016 and April of 2016 to get from “less that significant impact” to “potentially significant impact”?  Am I missing something?

    1. hpierce

      The short answer is that 545 more cars would statistically mean ~ 55 more trips per each of the ‘peak hours’ (AM/PM)… (likely half/2/3rds of that due to transit and bicycle)… a little less than one trip a minute… with a signal cycle of 60 seconds, one more car per cycle (up to maybe 10 times that)… “congestion”? Even with a cycle length of 120 seconds, 2 more cars in the queue.  545 cars will not be going thru every intersection every hour.

      Just saying…

       

      1. hpierce

        OOOPS… doing math math too late in the day after finishing taxes… I was off by a factor of 10… my bad… no more doing math after 10 PM…

    2. Matt Williams

      Anon, page 111 of the Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) document shows 1,454 trips generated by the site each day.  Since the planned occupancy is close to 100% UCD students, the vast majority of those 1,454 daily trips will traverse the entire length of the 5th Street corridor from the project site to the corner of Howard Way and 5th Street (west of A Street).  Arguably, the most significant  traffic impact will take place in the segment between H Street and A Street, with significant impact at the Howard Way/5th Street intersection where bicycles will cross from north to south.

      However, the MND terminated its consideration of the 5th Street corridor impact at L Street.  If the scope of the EIR includes the portion of the 5th Street corridor that the MND did not include, then that might explain the difference you are observing/questioning.

      1. hpierce

        Better math… 1454 trips per day translates to about 145 trips per peak hour… about 2.5 trips per minute… then you make assumptions about how many of those trips are by car, by Unitrans, by bike… Unitrans is free for students… part of their reg fees.  On-campus parking is a bit pricey.  Have not read the study… perhaps the 1454 takes those factors into account.

        1. Anon

          But why the complete turnaround in a mere 4 months?  I just don’t get it.  At first, there is no significant impact from the project, then there is 4 months later.  I don’t find Matt’s explanation compelling or even to the point.  Wherever the traffic problems will be, shouldn’t the Jan 2016 Initial Study have caught it?  Honestly, as a citizen it makes me wonder how honest the EIR process is.  Help me understand.

        2. Matt Williams

          Anon said . . . “Wherever the traffic problems will be, shouldn’t the Jan 2016 Initial Study have caught it?  Honestly, as a citizen it makes me wonder how honest the EIR process is.”

          Anon’s statement above is virtually identical to the thoughts I had when I read the MND document for the first time.  I asked myself, “Why did they constrain the study area?”  It made no more sense than the decision to leave the full extent of road repairs/maintenance, building repairs/maintenance, parks repairs/maintenance, and pools repairs/maintenance out of the Budget.

           

  11. Tia Will

    Perhaps it has been posted and I have missed it, but how is”significant impact” defined ? My thanks to hpierce for the breakdown of what the likely impact of the 545 more cars would mean in terms of queue length, but is this how “impact” is measured ?  If so, what additional queue length would be considered impactful ? If not, what standard is being used by the city ?

    As to Matt’s point, as a resident of OED, it is also my impression that the largest impact is likely to be on the corridors from L to A. Don and I had a version of this conversation when he noted that there is little congestion near his business, with which I agree. The congestion occurs in OED and the downtown areas where there is already significant impact from those on bike attempting to use 4th and 3rd streets to cross OED and downtown when 5 th street is busy. Here is where I see the probable largest impact from these additional students housed at Sterling.

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