My View: Innovation Park Announcement Good News for Community, Nishi

Rob White with a presentation on Sierra Energy in October at Jumpstart Davis
Rob White with a presentation on Sierra Energy in October at Jumpstart Davis

Lost in the shuffle of land use battles over traffic impacts and affordability is the fact that the 325,000 square feet of Nishi’s R&D space was touted in the Studio 30 report as critical space for startups and research and development (R&D) immediately linked with the university.

It has been a long time since there has been good news on this front – in the last 12 months we have seen Davis Innovation Center pull out of the northwest quadrant and move three miles north to Woodland, we have seen MRIC stall and Nishi, while in an electoral battle, has faced a challenging campaign as a housing project with a relatively modest innovation space.

At least in the debate and discussion, the 325,000 square feet of R&D space had become an afterthought. But the addition of Sierra Energy with Mike Hart and his team, which includes former Davis CIO Rob White, is a game changer in this respect.

This is a local company that has already shown its commitment to economic development. Born from the UC Davis Big Bang competition, Sierra Energy is headquartered in downtown Davis and has R&D facilities in South Davis, expanding from ten employees to nearly 30 over the last 24 months.

Mr. Hart is already working on developing existing research space.  As the Vanguard previously reported, Mr. Hart has joined forces with Tim Keller to create Area 52, a space for innovators to incubate ideas through the development of low-cost prototypes that can rapidly lead to seed-funding.

Tim Keller, who gave the Vanguard a tour of Area 52 last fall, described it “as the first step in fostering innovation by attracting new inventors, entrepreneurs, and small businesses to the area with a space that provides them the necessary resources and tools to get established.

“Area 52 is already attracting new talent to the region, driving us to consider what the next steps are to keep our success stories here in Davis,” says Mr. Keller, UC Davis alumnus and founder of Area 52. “Nishi would provide the necessary space for companies to land upon emerging from Area 52 and UC Davis, enabling them to grow and stay for the long-term.”

Tim Keller illustrates the immense space they have during September visit by the Vanguard
Tim Keller illustrates the immense space they have during September visit by the Vanguard

The key thing is that the Nishi team has now brought in people who are committed to economic development. The R&D space will not be an afterthought with Mike Hart and company running the show.

As Tim Ruff, the project manager, put it in the release, “Mike’s commitment to Davis as a start-up mecca is apparent in his efforts with Sierra Energy and Area 52.”

However, like everything in Davis, it will not go forward without a fight.

The immediate reaction of former Councilmember Michael Harrington, one of the leading opponents of Nishi, was “more traffic jams.”

However, in a city that is facing $655 million in unfunded needs in the next twenty years, Nishi is about far more than just traffic impacts. It is about bringing in jobs. The developers estimate at least 1500 jobs coming with the development – and with Sierra Energy and the commitment to startups and incubator space, that may actually be a low number.

Unfortunately, Nishi is not a cure-all for the lack of R&D space in the community.  As the 2012 Studio 30 report noted, “The current isolated and dispersed sites that are available and appropriately zoned are not adequate in terms of size, location, or configuration (and related constraints) to address the emerging market need of an Innovation Center.”

Studio 30’s dispersed land strategy estimated that “Davis needs at least 200 acres for business development and expansion over a 20 +/- year time horizon.”  We needed the East and West sites as the locations to offer larger scale “move-up” opportunities.

But, Studio 30 writes, “The Gateway or Nishi site offers the best opportunity for the close-in/incubator. The site will require University partnership and cooperation. Close proximity to UC Davis, downtown, regional transit and City amenities make this site best for implementing the desired attributes for start-ups, small firms, and University research-oriented businesses.”

This isn’t the place for mid-size or larger businesses, but Nishi offers the perfect opportunity for Sierra Energy to expand what they are already doing to help fill the 325,000 square feet on the site.

That is not to say we should simply ignore traffic concerns. However, traffic is already bad on the Richards Boulevard corridor. The biggest problem is that people are using Richards to get onto campus, when they should be re-directed to more direct access points to the west.

Meanwhile, Nishi offers some mitigation measures and an alternative route to campus that may actually help alleviate these problems. Traffic could exit the freeway at Richards on the newly configured interchange and drive onto West Olive and directly onto campus instead of going through the congested underpass and congested 1st Street, which is not designed for the amount of traffic it is currently receiving.

Nishi would not be able to develop until it creates the campus access and it would have mitigation measures to limit peak flow traffic off the site.  Is that sufficient?  If the city is successful at working with CalTrans and the university – why not?

But the bigger question still is whether those legitimate concerns should be enough to ignore the upside of 1500 jobs and a clear commitment to get the most out of the R&D space.

After months of setbacks on economic development, this is the news those of us, who have seen the need for economic development commitments from the city, have been waiting for. The question now is whether that is enough to get this project approved.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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69 Comments

  1. nameless

    The immediate reaction of former Councilmember Michael Harrington, one of the leading opponents of Nishi, was “more traffic jams.”

    No surprise there.  That has been his mantra, among others, since the inception of Nishi.  Problem is, it doesn’t comport with reality on the ground.  Nishi is apt to improve traffic conditions with the new extension of Olive Dr. which bypasses the Richards underpass altogether, as well as the addition of access to Old Davis Road, redirecting campus traffic away from the Richards underpass.

    1. Ron

      Of all the arguments presented against Nishi, traffic/congestion concerns are probably the issue that will cause its rejection.

      Perhaps another access point to the University would redirect (some) traffic that’s currently going through the tunnel.  However, this is far from certain.  (It partly depends upon how difficult it is to get through the Nishi development itself, and the location (within the campus) where the new tunnel would exit.  Would commuters then have to negotiate traffic/congestion through the University itself, to reach their final destination? If so, it’s unlikely that another access point would help.)

      Traffic will still have to go through the intersection at Olive/Richards.  A hotel (Embassy Suites?) is scheduled to be built at that intersection, and more apartments are proposed on Olive.  If Nishi is also built, traffic will increase at that intersection (to reach any businesses/residences, within Nishi).  Common sense dictates that the intersection at Olive/Richards will get worse, not better, as a result of Nishi.  (This is already the most congested area in town.)

      Is that a reason to vote against the proposed development?  I suspect that for many, it is (regardless of their overall views regarding development, energy efficiency, air quality, affordable housing, etc.).

      1. David Greenwald

        The question is whether the traffic concerns are a reason to vote against the development.

        Traffic will go through the intersection at Olive/ Richards. The plan is to reconfigure that intersection. Is the Hotel really going to increase traffic over the current Hotel and popular restaurant? Especially given that hotel traffic will not be on peak hour times.

        You have also not considered flow restrictions coming out of the development.

        So when you state “Common sense dictates that the intersection at Olive/Richards will get worse, not better, as a result of Nishi” there are a lot of variables not being considered here. For starters a lot of the problems can be resolved with better light sequencing, redirection of campus bound traffic, redesign of the corridor – I’m not sure “common sense” has really factored in all variables here.

  2. Tia Will

    This announcement has moved me closer to a “yes” vote on Nishi. I have never opposed economic development as a general principle. I think that Davis has the unique opportunity presented by the proximity of the university to provide opportunity for small businesses starting up from university projects. I do not believe that Davis is the best spot for large scale businesses and believe that we should be thinking more holistically as a region. Because we have neighboring cities that are more than happy to accommodate large scale business, I believe that we should encourage this as a boon to the region while concentrating on what we can do best…..the incubation of university generated ideas.

  3. Eric Gelber

    R&D space? Check. Improved traffic flow?  Check. (Though I’m not sure about this one.) This is what’s referred to by magicians as misdirection. Affordable  housing? Hmmm. Not so much.

    1. hpierce

      Improved traffic flow?  By introducing more left turns?  Someone appears to know less than nothing about traffic and traffic signal timing…  if left turns were prohibited during peak hours on the corridor, congestion would be minimal.  That, however is not a practical solution.  Adding more left turns @ W Olive is not only not a solution, it would be an exacerbation.

  4. Eileen Samitz

    David,

    Rather than such a celebratory headline, there are many other issues and concerns that you really have not covered. Also, this really tips your hand on your lack of “neutrality” on Nishi.

    1) There will not be an increase in traffic flow at Richard’s, particularly relative to the traffic Nishi will bring.

    2) Also, there is not even any confirmation of an agreement with the railroad to allow an underpass yet.

    3) Also, the development agreement is still not done.

    4) Also, we don’t even have an agreement with the County on tax sharing and won’t be until after the election, if Nishi was to pass.

    Nishi represents nothing more than enormous risk to the City with way too many impacts as well.

    1. The Pugilist

      What is interesting to me is that you are calling out the celebratory headline and yet your points have nothing to do with the celebratory headline.  The strength of this project is jobs and close in housing, your attacks are on the periphery of that and in fact things that we can mitigate later on if need be.

  5. Tia Will

    Eileen

    Nishi represents nothing more than enormous risk to the City with way too many impacts as well.”

    I have called David out many times on the use of hyperbolic or absolutist statements which I do not believe served to further the point one is attempting to make. Now, you have made such a statement.

    You state “Nishi represents nothing more than enormous risk….”

    While it is true that the Nishi project does have potential risks, it is equally true that it represents some possible advantages. Small business spaces in very close proximity to the university. Housing in close proximity to the downtown area and the campus both of which will promote more use of feet and bikes as opposed to cars. Increase in jobs of the type that many in our city consider desirable. This “nothing more than statement” is clearly false and does nothing to strengthen your legitimate concerns.

  6. davisite4

    Those of you who want “Yes on A” to pass need to do better about getting out the reasons *for* having an innovation park. You need to figure out which reasons resonate with people (jobs? housing? money for the city to avoid future tax increases?  etc) and get that message out there.  Because my impression is that the message is not out there.  You’ve got a bunch of paid interns at the farmers market, some unclear yard signs, and a populace that is ignorant of the financial state of the City and maybe the project more generally.  Meanwhile “No on A” is very effectively harping on the traffic and pollution issues, forcing “Yes on A” to play defense instead of stressing the positives.  I think “Yes on A” is in serious trouble.

    Two cents from someone who is fairly neutral/undecided about the project.

    1. The Pugilist

      Why do you think Yes on A is in serious trouble?  For me, it’s because the proponents of the project haven’t responded to a series of malicious attacks that were shown to be largely false when scrutinized.

      1. davisite4

        That’s just my impression, which could of course be mistaken.  I see a well-organized, well-focused grassroots campaign on one side and an unfocused paid staffer campaign on the other.  I see lots of No signs and not too many Yeses.  This is not to say that I think No should win; again, I am personally torn.  I am trying to offer helpful advice for those who care about this project, which you can take or leave.  And my advice is that responding to the negatives will only go so far if you haven’t made the case for why we need the project in the first place.  Made the case to Davisites in general, that is, remembering that not everyone reads the Vanguard.

      2. davisite4

        “Smart.  Sustainable.”  (from the lawn signs).  Wtf does that mean?  Yes, I’m sure you can explain it to me here.  But the lawn signs are not self-explanatory.

  7. Frankly

    Vote Yes on Measure A if you favor enterprising young people and want to improve Davis’s economic vitality.

    Vote No on Measure A if you favor grumpy old people and want to make Davis a run down retirement village.

    1. Tia Will

      Frankly

      Vote Yes on Measure A if you favor enterprising young people and want to improve Davis’s economic vitality.

      Vote No on Measure A if you favor grumpy old people and want to make Davis a run down retirement village.

      These are not the words of a savvy businessman. As I discussed with the young enthusiastic tabler at Farmer’s Market, you will not gain the support of people who are uncertain by insulting them. It is highly desirable to be clear and concise about what you believe are the advantages, but when you starting telling people who are already on your  side of an issue that they are selfish old folks who “already have theirs” the way one of these young women was doubtless coached to do, you end up alienating your own potential supporters. Luckily it was me that she tried the gambit on and I was happy to direct her efforts into a positive vein by telling them many of the positives of which they had no idea and some ways to counteract some of the negatives that they were going to encounter.

      1. Frankly

        I get your points, but I think you might not recognize how well negative branding works in politics.  Maybe I just have more experience being targeted by it.

        I’m a white, male, conservative, banker.   I wander the streets in a black robe with glowing red eyes and a scythe.  It works.  Did you know that the banking industry is strugging to hire and retain millennials?  Yet they will flock to government jobs… the career where most of the REAL thieves work.

        And besides, some of my branding/labeling is well-deserved.

        Lastly, you need to consider all the months (years) of “convincing” that has been worked on by me and others to no avail.  Those getting my labels are not going to change their minds.  I am not worried about offending them.  I am just giving the young readers a perspective about what they are up against.

        But I do concede that my labeling probably turns off a few (very few) fence sitters.

      2. Ron

        Frankly:  “Those getting my labels are not going to change their minds.  I am not worried about offending them.  I am just giving the young readers a perspective about what they are up against.”

        For some reason, your labels don’t usually offend me (even though you might think I’m a selfish, short-sighted NIMBY, in the early stages of “puckering-up”).  I view many of your arguments as a challenge to consider an alternative view (even as you venture into a rather one-sided argument, at times).  However, such labels might offend some members of the younger generation that you’re hoping to appeal to.  (Even if they don’t tell you this, directly.) Of course, it would ultimately depend on the individual, regardless of age.

  8. SeanDenny

    You know,  in Woodland we are always trying to create a parking problem it’s a good thing. Well at least that’s what my downtown subcommittee is doing. I would hope your community would promote and drive a campaign that will push the need for good high paying jobs for our region and for all of us and especially the newly educated. HELLO… the loss of talented graduates leaving the county to populate other communities should worry everyone.   Back to the Jobs,  we will be very glad to accommodate ANY and ALL research facilities,  bio tech, ag tech, food tech  companies 8 miles to your north!

  9. Eileen Samitz

    SeanDenny,

    It is pretty clear that you do not live in Davis, and we have a huge parking problem that you folks do not have in Woodland because your downtown strip area geographically extends a far longer distance and therefore is a much larger area than Davis. So I understand why you can not comprehend our problems in Davis, particularly parking. It is interesting that you are a new posting anonymous here on the Vanguard pushing so hard for Nishi.

    So why not post your name if you really live in Woodland? That is, of course, unless you are part of the “Yes on Nishi campaign” in which case it really doesn’t matter where you live. Your job would be to root for Nishi.

  10. Eileen Samitz

    I have just gotten back and getting to looking over comments since I last was able to log on and post this morning and I am noticing a typo my earlier comment, when I commented:

    1) There will not be an increase in traffic flow at Richard’s, particularly relative to the traffic Nishi will bring.

    I had a typo mistake on one word and meant to post:

    1) There will not be an improvement in traffic flow at Richard’s, particularly relative to the traffic (increases) Nishi will bring.

    I just wanted to set the record straight.

     

     

  11. Eileen Samitz

    Tia,

    While you seem to to be making some strong statements about my position. I think you need to understand some of the many reasons, my comments are based upon.

    1) The City still has NO agreement with the County on any tax sharing agreement. And the way things are set up that will not happen until AFTER the election when the County will have complete leverage over how much property tax they will get, compared to the City.  So this entire escapade depends that that enormous bad gamble to begin with. Let’s face it, the County will have all the leverage, won’t it?

    2) The Nishi project has NO confirmed agreement with UCD on even if they will have access to the UCD campus.

    3) Nishi still does not even have a confirmed  agreement with the railroad’s on IF and how much it would cost to have access to an underpass under the railroad tracks.

    I understand that since your are a member of the Vanguard Board that you perhaps feel obligated, or influenced at the very least, to go with the clear “Yes on Nishi” messages constantly being published by the Vanguard, like today’s article. But I encourage you to please get more information before defending a project that will hurt, not help the City of Davis, its taxpayers, the downtown and other City businesses.

    1. DavisforNishiGateway

      Mrs. Samitz and many other members of the opposition have now resorted to spreading half-truths and cynical aspersions and accusations regarding a project that will bring much needed revenue to the City, DJUSD, and the region as well as creating 1500 jobs, such as those this article highlights, along with the plethora of great features I have reiterated enough that I am sure even the casual reader of the Vanguard has become familiar. Mrs. Samitz felt it was necessary to “set the record straight,” so it is not without precedent, then, that I attempt to finish what she left off.

      To begin, Mrs. Samitz and other opponents of Nishi have cried out for months now that the exact tax-sharing agreement between the City and the County is not known. Well, of course it isn’t. The project has not been entitled yet. That would be a waste of everyone’s time to go through negotiations before we even know if they will be necessary. The more important point regarding Mrs. Samitz’s claim, is that the reality will be precisely opposite to her claim that the County will have the leverage. In truth, it will be the City who will have all the leverage because if the tax sharing agreement is not favorable, the City can simply not annex Nishi with the result that the County would receive nothing.

      Mrs. Samitz’s second claim is misleading and disregards the pertinent information available to the public. To be clear, this project has been developed through years of consulting and working with an enormous number of stakeholders, including UC Davis, to ensure that it will integrate seamlessly into everyone’s planning purposes. That is why UC Davis was one of the principal partners writing in support of the grant this project received to study its design and feasibility. UC Davis has set aside land for the connection Nishi will create as part of UCD’s Long Range Development Planning. Furthermore, Mrs. Samitz disingenuously raises this point with the full knowledge that the connection to UC Davis must be completed before ANY development can occur having been codified as part of the project’s baseline features. Thus, not only does this “point”  ignore the substantial history of UC Davis’ involvement in the planning and conception of Nishi, it also would be entirely inconsequential if it was realized, anyhow, because there would be no project.

      Mrs. Samitz’s third claim is really just more of the same with regard to my response to her second argument. Union Pacific supports the project to eliminate the at-grade crossing to improve safety (another positive benefit of Nishi I hadn’t even thought about previously). To this end, they have sent letters of support, and preliminary engineering has already been done. So, once again, although the parties have not sat down to formalize an agreement (and why would they before the project is entitled anyway?), Mrs. Samitz has ignored the extensive history of support by Union Pacific concerning the graded undercrossing. Furthermore, just as I noted in my response to her second assertion, it is written in the project baseline features that this undercrossing must be completed before anything can be built at Nishi. What’s more, it is also codified that the property owners will pay for the entire cost of underpass, so it really is a non-sequitur for her to raise a question as to its cost since the public will not pay anything to gain the benefit of another entrance and exit point to the University from I-80–although we do appreciate her no-doubt sincere concern for the costs the property-owners are incurring to create infrastructure that benefits the whole city.

      Finally, Mrs. Samitz may feel that there is some concerted conspiracy at the Vanguard (maybe even beyond), but I have a suspicion that it is more probable that she is simply witnessing the fact that Nishi has been endorsed by the Davis Downtown Business  Association, the Chamber of Commerce, hundreds of local businesses, even more residents, and scores of current and former elected officials. We at the Yes on A Campaign are proud of the fact that this deep and broad swathe of support is a testament to the benefits Nishi will bring to Davis (more money for the general fund, more student housing, more R&D space for startups coming out of the University, etc.–you get the idea…)

      Here’s looking forward a project that is smart and sustainable (as in, the project was designed with smart growth principles in mind; it is going to support education, which, incidentally, makes some people smart; it will exceed Cal Green Tier 1 building standards for energy efficiency by 30% [sustainable!]; and it will also help the City chart a ‘sustainable’ financial footing moving forward–to name a few possible interpretations. It is meant to have, like, multiple meanings.) Seriously, though, I am just razzing davisite4 and anyone else who doesn’t like the tagline–no offense intended.

      1. Odin

        Still, nothing here to convince us traffic will be eased.  Plus no guarantee that students will want to live there given the high costs.  No matter what, when you have a new and larger hotel, a new apartment complex (Lincoln 40), and several thriving businesses, you can’t think that adding more cars to Richards/Olive will relieve flow regardless of new access to the university from Olive.  It’s still much more cars using the intersection.

    2. Matt Williams

      Eileen Samitz said . . . “Let’s face it, the County will have all the leverage, won’t it?”

      Eileen, the following three observations may give you (and others) some perspective on the question you ask.

      First, the negotiations with the County are not two party negotiations, but rather four-party (or possibly five-party) negotiations because what is being negotiated ia a “master agreement” that applies universally to Davis, Woodland and West Sac (and possibly Winters).

      Second, the term “leverage” the way you are using it is a political term.  Based on my first-hand knowledge the discussions between the parties has been focused on facts rather than political positioning.  For example, if Davis were willing to “cave in” to the County’s demands for political expediency, any agreed upon terms that Davis and the County verbally agreed to would have to also be agreed to by Woodland and West Sac (and possibly Winters).

      Third, it is my understanding that a fiscal analysis has been completed of the actual services costs incurred by the cities and the County, and that that (non-Davis) analysis shows that the County’s costs are significantly less than the cities’ costs.  If that analysis information is correct, a 50/50 split of tax money would be a sweetheart deal for the County because they would be receiving half the tax revenues while incurring substantially less than half of the services costs.  I have heard (via unconfirmed hearsay) that our City Manager is willing to give the County that sweetheart deal of a 50/50 split.  If he is indeed willing to do so, then that has every appearance of being one more massive giveaway of Davis taxpayer monies driven by political calculation, and not supported by the facts at hand.  I sincerely hope that unconfirmed hearsay is not correct.  Bottom-line, he three cities need to both collaborate in their factual research, and stand together in these negotiations of a master tax sharing agreement with the County.

      1. Miwok

        “Davis needs at least 200 acres for business development and expansion over a 20 +/- year time horizon.”  We needed the East and West sites as the locations to offer larger scale “move-up”

        Of course Davis wants to put the 200+ acres all in one spot. I suggest they build a bike route to Solano county. Davis treats that like a wall when they have a few large buildings ready to go, and the next exit past is ripe and trying to be developed. They do not need the City’s permission and UCD will not hesitate to jump at a good deal, instead of the non-built but much talked about “improvements” that need to be built before the building goes up?

        If they build the building or even a street before the Tunnel and other egress, you subject the area to a twenty year construction zone. Wonder how many people will die from that exposure? The children attending UCD will simply jump the tracks to go to class.

    3. Tia Will

      Eileen

      I want to make one point very clear. I have never, ever felt obliged to say anything because of my membership on the editorial board of the Vanguard. David and I are frequently in disagreement over particular issues. David has his reasons for seeing Nishi in a particular way, I have mine. I have been back and forth in my mind over the pros and cons of the project for a long time. As of this moment, I am planning on voting “yes”. That could change if I saw evidence of the kind of chicanery that went on with The Cannery.

      It is of quite a bit of interest that I have you believing that if only I had “more information” I would see things your way, and Frankly telling me that my selfishness is what keeps me from seeing things his way. Honestly, I find both assessments less than respectful and hardly likely to influence me in the intended direction.

  12. Eileen Samitz

    Hi David,

    Thanks for this information. How inappropriate for a Woodland City Council member trying to sway Davis voters on a Davis community land use issue which he really should stay out of. I would like to know if Woodland City Council member Sean Denny has had any conversations with the Nishi developers or anyone associated with the “Yes on Nishi Gateway” regarding that project? Also, is he in any way involved in the “Yes on Nishi campaign”? I also see that that he runs a graphics advertising company, like campaigns would use.

    1. David Greenwald

      Speaking as the director of the Vanguard, I want the Vanguard to be a place where everyone feels welcome to chime in. Given that Woodland is already about to build our Innovation Center that was originally ticketed for the NW Quadrant, I don’t see why someone from Woodland would have a vested interest in getting Davis to do anything other because they generally support a strong region.

      1. Eileen Samitz

        David,

        As the director of the Vanguard, I thought you were supposed to be neutral on the issues weighing all the information. So if you feel that you need to defend anyone supporting the project, you continue to lose credibility on the “neutrality” claim.

        My concern is that since Sean Denny is a seated Council member in a different City (Woodland), and since this is a contentious issue concerning Davis (not Woodland), he really should stay out of it. It is not a land use issue that will create the negative impacts on him, since he lives in Woodland, as it will our community.

        Due to his personal graphic business, I would think it would be helpful if he would clarify if he has had conversations regarding the Nshi Gateway project with the Yes on Nishi campaign or the Nishi developers, and if he has any involvement in any aspect of of the campaigns supporting Nishi?

  13. Eileen Samitz

    DavisForNishiGateway,

    First of all, since you have so much to say, why not just post your name so I know who I am responding to? Also for the record, I am Ms. Samitz since I see that you want to address me more formally by my last name.

    Second, Nishi Gateway will not bring revenue, but costs to the City particularly particularity if the County tax sharing is not favorable to the City, which has not been negotiated.

    Third, this County tax sharing SHOULD have been figured out before it went on the ballot, like it has in other projects requiring annexation went to the ballot. This would be not only for the sake of having a better idea of the fiscal picture, but also so the voters would  know what they were voting on.  And no, the City will not have the leverage that the County will. One simple obvious reason would be because City has spent so much money on Nishi Gateway just to to get it to the ballot, whereas the County has not spent a dime on it.

    Fourth, all of this “planning” with UCD yet how much money has UCD put into this “process”? Other than a grant they share with the City, nothing. Plus, UCD has not officially even agreed to access yet.

    Fifth, the is NO confirmed agreement yet with Union Pacific, so everything is simply talk  and wishful projections by the Nishi Gateway developers. What if Union Pacific says “no”? The railroad companies are well known for not allowing access over or under their railways.

    Sixth, why is there no development agreement spelled out before the election so that the voters know what they are voting on? I did not hear your response to that.

    So with all of these issues hanging, let’s talk about what happens if Nishi Gateway got approved at the ballot, and  for whatever excuses the developers come up with, it does not get built? Well the developers still get to retain the General Plan amendment converting the land from agriculture to the urban designation. Therefore, the developers win anyway, since now the land value is worth so much more even if they don’t build the Nishi Gateway project.

    Seventh, you as a Yes on Nishi person, are apparently believing all of the story line that the Nishi Gateway developers wanting you to believe, and not looking closely at the facts. The project is primarily a residential project for UCD’s housing needs, which should be on UCD land using UCD’s infrastructure and services, not on what would become City land (if approved) using the City’s infrastructure and City services and therefore costing Davis taxpayer’s.

    The small innovation portion of Nishi Gateway was the “window-dressing” that gave the project the excuse to come forward when the call for innovation park proposals was made by the City.  325,000 sq. ft. is not big enough to bring the types of R and D businesses that would yield the type of revenue the City needs. Plus, they would not be able to expand in such a small area. So, it is more for the little start-ups, which are not the big R and D money-makers typically.

    Eighth, since this project is targeting students primarily for its housing, where will all of these 1,500 employees going to live? Even the condos are going to wind up being bought by wealthy UCD student parents for their kids while they attend UCD, and investors renting them out to students too since they will be so expensive that the researchers workers will not be able to afford them. So Nishi Gateway would just bring on more housing needs for Davis for all of these new employees. And again, UCD should be providing their own housing needs on-campus. But instead UCD keeps stalling on this, and the City needs to stop enabling UCD to continue to push their housing needs onto the City, costing Davis taxpayers and bringing on all the impacts to our community. The Nishi Gateway proposal is the result of this, and part of the long-term problem that UCD is causing the City. UCD can build its own housing since it has over 5,000 acres and plenty of financial resources with their $1-billion-dollar endowment fund, and ability to spend $5 million on internet communications cover-up for the pepper spray incident.

    Finally, I am simply making an observation that while the Vanguard claims to be “neutral” on Nishi Gateway, the title of the article today is quite the advertisement for Nishi Gateway. There is nothing neutral about it.

    1. DavisforNishiGateway

      My apologies, Ms. Samitz, for addressing you incorrectly. I must, however, once again, protest at the unfounded claims you are making. To begin, I am not sure on what facts or analysis you are basing your assertion that “Nishi Gateway will not bring revenue but costs to the City,” but according to both the Finance and Budget Committee and the Economic Impact Report, Nishi will bring in significant revenue to fund city services–even the most conservative estimate from the Finance and Budget Committee was 500k per year. To be fair, it is true that these estimates do assume a reasonable tax-sharing agreement between the County and City, but, to address your next point, there is absolutely no reason to assume this will not be the case, because the City will indeed have more leverage than the County. Any competent negotiator is not going to negotiate based on sunk costs incurred. I don’t really know what more there is to say regarding that matter.

      With regard to UCD: besides the extensive amount of staff time (which costs money) used in the planning, UC Davis, as I mentioned before, has set aside land in their LRDP in order to make the new connection to campus feasible. Those are real costs incurred, but this latest tangent as to how much money UCD has spent is yet again beside the point and without consequence in the decision to entitle Nishi or not. Nishi is a privately-owned and privately financed project. UC Davis has no obligation to spend anything on the project because it has no financial stake in the project (even though it will gain the benefit of better traffic flow, desperately needed student housing, and R&D space for tech transfer from the campus). It is not clear to me why you would even bring this up. Furthermore, although I gave an evidence-based argument detailing all the reasons why there is no reason to assume an agreement will not be reached with UC Davis, I feel compelled to once again reiterate that if UC Davis does not agree to create the connection, nothing can move forward at Nishi and the project will be unable to be built. I don’t really understand your concern here. The onus is entirely on the property owners, and if somehow an agreement was not reached, they would be the only ones to suffer the consequences. This is the exact same situation with regards to Union Pacific–if an agreement is not reached, per the project baseline features, there can be no construction at Nishi. Therefore, I don’t understand why you would have any personal concern in this matter.

      I don’t really understand your sixth point. There is, in fact, a developer agreement between the property owners and the City. It is up on the City’s website right here along with the project baseline features and other useful documents regarding Nishi: http://cityofdavis.org/city-hall/community-development-and-sustainability/development-projects/nishi-and-downtown-university-gateway-district

      I suppose your point about the project being entitled whether the project is built or not is valid, but given the fact that no matter was attempted to be built here would be subject to negotiations with the Council anyway, I don’t really see this as a serious concern. Furthermore, there really is no reason to think the project owners would abandon a project which they have been working towards for years just when they received the entitlement they need.

      With regard to your point seven, I don’t really see how you can justify ignoring some facts and not others. If Nishi were to come under the ownership of UCD, then the City would forfeit the revenue Nishi will generate (estimated to be $1.4 million annually along with $400k for DJUSD), while still incurring some of the costs. If this is supposed to be some sort of concern for the City’s finances, it is risible, to say the least, to suggest that we should give up the significant revenues Nishi will create for Davis and have UC Davis own the property. Also, as you yourself have pointed out previously, UC Davis does not lack for land–why they should want or need to augment their holdings further is beyond me.

      Finally, I have to say I find it hard to believe that you are now saying the project is too small. The whole raison d’etre of Nishi identified in the Studio 30 report was to provide a space for innovation incubation. Nishi was never meant to be home to large established companies. That was supposed to be what Mace Ranch and the Northwest Innovation Centers were supposed to do. Nishi, as it has been envisioned for quite some time, was supposed to create space for tech transfer from the campus and to support the burgeoning entrepreneurial scene in Davis best exemplified by JumpStart Davis. Its much-needed student and high-density for-sale stacked flats is consistent with smart growth principles and helps relieve the outrageous pressure that exists in the Davis housing market. Where are the people working at the R&D component of Nishi going to live? Well, some of these people will be current Davis residents who can finally work close to home. Some of them will live at Nishi. Some of them will live in the freed-up housing stock Nishi helps facilitate. And some of them will probably live in Woodland, Dixon, and West Sac.  If you are admitting, as you seem to now do, that there is an acute housing shortage in Davis, I don’t really see how you can be opposed to increasing the housing supply. Furthermore, if the City wants to generate organic revenue, then it needs to create more companies and jobs here in Davis. These are not mutually exclusive goals, and I think you are creating a false dichotomy between the two.

      I know that you have taken a long and principled stand that UC Davis should do more to address its student housing. I don’t think you would find anyone on the Nishi team who would disagree with you. However, given the reality that there is little anyone can do about this, and the fact that there exists a persistent and crushing pressure on rental housing for students in Davis, I really think your energies would be best spent fighting UC Davis rather than opposing a project that will help alleviate the very problem (lack of student housing) you have articulated consistently for a long time now. Much thanks,

      DavisforNishiGateway

      1. Ron

        DavisforNishiGateway:  ” . . but according to both the Finance and Budget Committee and the Economic Impact Report, Nishi will bring in significant revenue to fund city services.”

        The updated EPS analysis (dated February 4th, 2016) relies upon an ongoing “make whole” provision (to help offset losses created by the proposed Nishi development).  Even if the developers follow-through with this necessary subsidy (on an ongoing basis), the updated analysis still shows a range of possible outcomes created by Nishi, including an ongoing net deficit for the city.

        There is no outcome in the updated analysis which shows a surplus approaching the amount that supporters of the development frequently cite.

        1. Matt Williams

          Ron’s statement in his final paragraph is correct, but it ignores the fact that the written EPS analysis was not updated following the February FBC meeting.  It also was not updated to reflect changes made by the developer.  For example,

          Sensitivity Scenario 3 – Nishi Hotel was removed by the developer.

          Sensitivity Scenario 4 – Property Tax Sharing Allocation: Alt 1 and Sensitivity Scenario 5 – Property Tax Sharing Allocation: Alt 2 were removed by the FBC.   

          Sensitivity Scenario 6 – Increased Taxable Sales was removed by the FBC as unlikely due to the increase in Internet commerce.

          Sensitivity Scenario 7 – Sales Tax Capture: Alt 1 was removed by the FBC as unlikely due to the increase in Internet commerce.

          Sensitivity Scenario 8 – Sales Tax Capture: Alt 2 was relegated by the FBC to a calculation of a “worst case scenario,” which would result in a $40,000 per year reduction in the annual $1.4 million margin for the City.

          Sensitivity Scenario 9 – Ongoing Operations & Maintenance Responsibility: Alt. 1  was removed by the FBC as unlikely due to the increase in Internet commerce.

          Sensitivity Scenario 11 – Supplemental Sales Tax was included by the FBC in its final recommendation at a 50% renewal level. If the voters choose not to extend Measure O in 2020 the impact on the $1.4 million would be $121,000.

          Sensitivity Scenario 12 – Increased Assessed Values was removed by the FBC.

          Sensitivity Scenario 13 – Decreased Taxable Sales was relegated by the FBC to a calculation of a “worst case scenario,” which would result in a $38,000 per year reduction in the annual $1.4 million margin for the City.

          So if you add all the FBC’s possible adjustments to the $1.4 million together you get $199,000 ($40,000 plus $121,000 plus $38,000) … reducing the annual margin down to $1.2 million.

        2. David Greenwald

          Matt:

          Ron writes: “The updated EPS analysis (dated February 4th, 2016) relies upon an ongoing “make whole” provision (to help offset losses created by the proposed Nishi development). ”

          Am I wrong believing that the make whole provisions were put into place to cover certain scenarios, such as UC Davis purchasing space and thereby reducing the tax rate?

        3. Ron

          Matt:  “So if you add all the FBC’s possible adjustments to the $1.4 million together you get $199,000 ($40,000 plus $121,000 plus $38,000) … reducing the annual margin down to $1.2 million.”

          Suggest starting with the EPS analysis, and then make adjustments that you feel were wrong in that analysis, along with explanations.  (Not the other way around.)

          One of the major cost disagreements between some on the finance and budget committee (and EPS) involved police and fire costs.  In the end, EPS considered the suggestions made by some on your committee, but ultimately stood by their analysis.  (EPS noted the difficulties of access the constrained site by emergency personnel, and the increased costs resulting from serving a larger population).

          Overall, the finance and budget committee has not provided an adequate explanation regarding the reason that their estimates are so much “rosier” than the professional consultant’s estimates.  Some on the finance and budget committee appear to be “boosters” of the proposed development, rather than impartial analyzers.

          I’d suggest sticking with “evidence-based” analyses and conclusions. The EPS analysis does not mention a possible $1.4 million surplus, or anything close to that.

        4. Ron

          Again, to clarify, none of the scenarios in the EPS analysis resulted in a potential $1.4 million surplus.  Nothing even close to that.  (The base development scenario still resulted in an ongoing deficit.)

          Also, I understand that neither the committee nor EPS considered additional costs related to roadway improvements that will be paid with city funds.  If these costs were included, all resulting analyses (from both EPS, and the committee) would be negatively impacted.  (I recall that you previously acknowledged this, and that you also believed that the vote scheduled in June is premature, due to uncertainties associated with the development.)

          Due to the short timeframe required by the June deadline, the finance and budget committee may not have had access to all of the information it needs to perform an objective analysis.  However, those on the committee who have put forward an unexplained, extremely optimistic financial prediction have done a real disservice to stakeholders who need an objective analysis (including those who might otherwise support the development).  It is not opponents of the development who have created this confusion.

          As a result, the developer (with support from some on the committee) has now “latched onto” the $1.4 million surplus as “fact”. Unfortunately, some voters will be misled by this.

           

        5. Matt Williams

          Ron said … “Suggest starting with the EPS analysis, and then make adjustments that you feel were wrong in that analysis, along with explanations.  (Not the other way around.)”

          I have done that in a past post here in the Vanguard, and in the interests of open, transparent dialogue I will gladly do it again.  Here goes.

          Starting with the February 4, 2016 EPS Fiscal Analysis – Attachment 1 on page 8.

          The Base Development Program showed a ($78,000) deficit as the bottom-line.

          FBC’s first step was to adopt Sensitivity Scenario 10, which added $181,000 in Revenues and $0 in Costs, bringing the bottom-line to $75,000.

          FBC’s second step was to adopt the Make Whole Provision, which added $93,000 in Revenues and $0 in Costs, bringing the bottom-line to $168,000.

          FBC’s third step was to adopt Sensitivity Scenario 11, which added $121,000 in Revenues and $0 in Costs, bringing the bottom-line to $289,000.

          FBC’s fourth step was to adopt the Community Services District Revenues, which added $356,000 in Revenues and $0 in Costs, bringing the bottom-line to $645,000.

          FBC’s fifth step was to adopt a cash flow approach regarding certain expenses (most notably Fire and Police, which added $0 in Revenues and eliminated $734,000 in Cash Expenditures from the City Budget, bringing the bottom-line to $1,379,000.  The FBC recognized that the EPS analysis included “Sunk Costs” that had already been spent once within the City’s Budget in the past, and would not need to be respent.  A perfect example of this is that in its analysis EPS included the total costs of building the East Davis Fire Station, as well as the total costs of acquiring the fire engines for that fire station. That decision by EPS makes total sense when calculating the taxation rate of the parcels, since the innovation parks need to pay their fair share in taxes; however, it makes no sense when assembling the annual City Budget, because the only way that the City could “respend” those dollars would be to tear down the East Davis Fire Station and rebuild it again in situ.

          —————————

          With the above said, as noted in my earlier comment, in the worst case scenario the $1,379,000 would be reduced by $199,000 to $1,180,000.

        6. Ron

          Thanks, Matt.  I appreciate your patience in posting this information.  I’ll probably look this over, a little more.

          Off-the-cuff, I’m not seeing an explanation regarding why each of the steps that the FBC took was appropriate.  Ideally, I’d like to know if EPS agreed with the appropriateness of making these assumptions, and whether or not each of the assumptions is entirely settled.  It appears that the CFD was not part of the EPS projection, so I’m assuming that this was included sometime afterward.

          I’m not seeing how the FBC determined what the cost of police and fire services would be, or the criteria used to make that determination.  EPS stated that their projected cost of fire/police was due to the need for increased services, and didn’t seem to mention the fire station.  The $734,000 cost for police/fire is a significant amount to simply eliminate from the projections (over the apparent objections of the police/fire chiefs), especially when EPS conducted a follow-up analysis to consider the issue (but chose to stick with their original estimate).

          Perhaps a minor point, but if Nishi is not built (and potential residents remain dispersed throughout the area), wouldn’t much of the $121,000 (or other) sales tax revenues still be potentially realized (if the measure is in fact renewed)?

          I didn’t see a response from you regarding the failure to include the cost of road improvements that will be paid by the city (in either the FBC or EPS analyses), or how that would affect the ongoing projections.  I recall that you weren’t familiar with that cost, until another Vanguard poster brought it up.

           

        7. Matt Williams

          Ron, your questions engage the issues.  Keep them coming.

          Regarding whether EPS agreed with the FBC’s five steps.  My belief is that they had no disagreement with any of the first four.  One, Two and Three were taken directly from their own Sensitivity Scenarios, and Four simply set the taxable rate (1.6%) at the exact same level that had been approved for the Cannery. EPS and Goodwin and Plescia can be clearly head on the audio tape indicating their agreement with both the principal of matching the tax levels at Nishi and the tax levels at Cannery and the fact that the 1.6% figure is the current figure for Cannery.

          EPS clearly disagreed with the FBC’s “sunk costs” approach to expenses.

          The CFD was definitely part of the EPS projection.  Sensitivity Scenario 10 is one component of the CFD.  The Make Whole Provision (calcualted by EPS and Plescia) is another component of the CFD.  The FBC’s decision to increase the CFD amount was not in any way in conflict with EPS’ approach.

           

          The criteria for determining what the cost of police and fire services would be was provided to the FBC as part of the January meeting packet, specifically Item 6e (see LINK)  As I said in my post above, nither EPS nor the police/fire chiefs considered either “sunk costs” or the cash basis of the City’s accounting methods.  The approached the issue using allocation accounting.

          If Nishi is not built (and the potential residents reside in Woodland, West Sac and/or Sacramento) the sales tax expenditures for those 1,500 “no longer Davis residents” will be spent in their place of residence.

        8. Matt Williams

          Ron said . . . “I didn’t see a response from you regarding the failure to include the cost of road improvements that will be paid by the city (in either the FBC or EPS analyses), or how that would affect the ongoing projections.  I recall that you weren’t familiar with that cost, until another Vanguard poster brought it up.”

          An observation and a question regarding your question above.

          The observation is that in any development project, road improvement costs are typically one-time costs rather than recurring annual costs.

          The question is what specific road improvement costs are you referring to?  Armed with that answer, I will be able to give you a more informed answer.

  14. Eileen Samitz

    Matt,

    Thanks for referring me to your “canned” answer reported in and earlier Vanguard where you say you are for Nishi Gateway. If that is the case why am I hearing from people who are telling me that you are now saying you are against Nishi Gateway. And it appears that your position on Nishi Gateway varies depending on who your audience is at the moment.

    Why do you keep changing your position on Nishi Gateway? And this has nothing to do with the issue of when it was placed on the ballot.

    1. Matt Williams

      Eileen Samitz asked . . .  “If that is the case why am I hearing from people who are telling me that you are now saying you are against Nishi Gateway?

      Why do you keep changing your position on Nishi Gateway? And this has nothing to do with the issue of when it was placed on the ballot.”

      Eileen, my position on Nishi has not changed a millimeter.  Check with Alan Pryor and Mike Harrington and Jim Leonard of the No On A campaign.  They will all confirm that reality.  Check with Tim Ruff.  He too will confirm that reality.  I have been lobbied hard in the past three weeks to change the position I articulated in the Vanguard Question #1 thread, but nothing has changed in that intervening time.

      FWIW, I didn’t refer you to a “canned answer,” I referred you to a community dialogue about the topic of your inquiry, of which I and a number of others were participants.  The dialogue had a holistic ebb and flow to it.

  15. Eileen Samitz

    So Matt,

    You neglected to specify your position on Nishi Gateway in your response. Are you saying that you are in support of Nishi despite a number of people telling me that you were telling them, that you are against Nishi Gateway? And none of the people you mentioned are the people who have contacted me.

    Why not just spell out that you are for or against Nishi when asked, rather than deferring to a “canned” statement which “tap dances” a bit to say the least?

    1. Ron

      Eileen:

      Matt stated that the June vote is premature, regarding Nishi.  (Too many unsettled concerns at this point.)  I understand that he’d support it, if concerns had been adequately analyzed and addressed.

      At least, that’s my understanding of Matt’s position.

    2. Matt Williams

      Eileen, you are arguing to hear yourself arguing.  If you have read the thread, then the explicit answer to your question is there.

      First,

      To be crystal clear, my February 16th vote was/is, “I oppose putting Nishi on the June ballot!” (see LINK)

      Second,

      I was asked by one of the assembled eight people a somewhat different question than the one the Vanguard asked the candidates.  That question was, “How will you vote on Measure A?”  My answer to that question was that a vote on Measure A is a choice between two seriously flawed alternatives.

      The first flawed alternative, a “No” vote, sends the project back to the drawing board for renegotiation and possibly reconfiguration.  But realistically, the project will almost surely die

      The second flawed alternative, a “Yes” vote, comes with the opportunity for reopening the Development Agreement negotiations to address the current contractual flaws (UCD contribution to infrastructure costs and affordability of housing being the biggest two).

      As problematic such an after-the-fact negotiation may be, it is still possible.  If the Measure A vote ends up being “No,” then the 650 units of housing will almost surely be lost, meaning the city-wide pressure for more mini-dorm conversions in family neighborhoods will increase.

      Given a choice between significant damage to the quality of life of our residential neighborhoods vs. a very difficult uphill battle to renegotiate the Development Agreement, with all three parties (UCD, the City and the developer) signing it, I choose to go with hard work rather than significant damage.  My personal vote on Measure A will be “Yes.”

      With all the above said, the enthusiasm I once had for the project is significantly diminished.  To rebuild my enthusiasm:

      — I believe UCD needs to step up and commit a significant financial contribution to the infrastructure construction costs.
      — I believe the current Development Agreement needs to be amended to be explicit that the UCD contribution will go to the City, not the developer.
      — I believe UCD needs to sign the Development Agreement so that it reflects the same three-party status that has defined the project since its inception.
      — I believe that motor vehicle access from Nishi to Olive Drive needs to be restricted to Emergency Vehicles and Public Transit vehicles only, with access for delivery vehicles during restricted off peak hours.

      If those four modifications to the Development Agreement are accomplished then my diminished enthusiasm for the project will increase.(see LINK)

      Third,

      That is an excellent assessment Ron.  Thank you for your objectivity.

      The one thing I would add is that I will fight tenaciously to achieve the following:

      — I believe UCD needs to step up and commit a significant financial contribution to the infrastructure construction costs. 
      — I believe the current Development Agreement needs to be amended to be explicit that the UCD contribution will go to the City, not the developer. 
      — I believe UCD needs to sign the Development Agreement so that it reflects the same three-party status that has defined the project since its inception. 
      — I believe that motor vehicle access from Nishi to Olive Drive needs to be restricted to Emergency Vehicles and Public Transit vehicles only, with access for delivery vehicles during restricted off peak hours. (see LINK)

  16. Eileen Samitz

    Matt and NishiforDavis (maybe you are one and the same).

    The $1.4 million dollars that came from one member of the Finance and Budget Commission, was not endorsed by the City’s professional financial consultants. There was not  unanimous support of this new optimistic number by the Finance and Budget Commission, and the professional City hired fiscal analysts did not agree to it.

    Also Matt, for that matter, you did not agree with the $1.4 million dollar optimistic “surplus” either initially, until you saw you would not be in the majority vote, and  then switched your vote, literally, last minute. I have a great deal of respect for Ray Saloman (who is a professional in this area and is clearly very knowledgeable in the subject of fiscal analysis)  who strongly did NOT agree with this overly optimistic new 1,4 million surplus analysis by one of the commission members and he explained by in discussions for quite a while. This new opinion analysis for the commissioner refuted the more conservative and safer assumptions in the analysis done by the professional City financial consultants.

    So, let’s just say that we agree to disagree on the $1,4 million “surplus” which was based on incredibly optimistic assumptions including greatly reducing the police and fire City services that the Nishi Project would need. The commissioner who proposed the $1.4 million surplus believed in this reduction of costs, but  the financial consultants simply did not agree. So the City hired professional  financial consultants did not agree to the $1.4 million “surplus”.

    1. hpierce

      Wow…

      Matt and NishiforDavis (maybe you are one and the same).

      Wonder how many others have dual “identities”… pretty darn sure Matt doesn’t, I know I don’t, and you, Eileen?

       

    2. Matt Williams

      Eileen Samitz said . . . “Also Matt, for that matter, you did not agree with the $1.4 million dollar optimistic “surplus” either initially, until you saw you would not be in the majority vote, and  then switched your vote, literally, last minute.”

      Eileen, as I said earlier today, you have my permission to use me as your scapegoat any time you want to.

      Now with respect to your statement above . . .

      The question posed in the substitute motion is a simple mathematical question, specifically Is $1.5 million (the fiscal number I believe is the accurate number) greater than $700,000?  The answer to that question is “Yes $1.5 million is grater than $700,00.”  Given that mathematical fact, I voted for the substitute motion.

      Once the substitute motion was defeated the vote in the original motion is also a simple mathematical question, specifically Is $1.5 million (the fiscal number I believe is the accurate number) greater than $1.4 million?  The answer to that question is “Yes $1.5 million is grater than $1.4 million.” Given that mathematical fact, I voted for the original motion.

      No vote switching whatsoever.

  17. Misanthrop

    “One simple obvious reason would be because City has spent so much money on Nishi Gateway just to to get it to the ballot, whereas the County has not spent a dime on it.”

    Another reason to get rid of Measure R.

    1. hpierce

      Maybe I misunderstood your post where it seemed that you were saying that Matt was also posting under a pseudonym… if I was incorrect as to what you intended, I sincerely apologize…

  18. Eileen Samitz

    Misanthrop,

    Regarding your last comment. I guess this is another situation where we need to agree-to-disagree, again. I am so sorry to see that you are so negative, so often. I sense that you would like to see an enormous amount of residential growth in Davis regardless of the impacts and costs to the City.

     

     

     

  19. Ron

    Matt:

    Thanks again for responding.  I must acknowledge that you’re consistently patient and polite.

    Regarding your referal to Dan Carson’s analysis, it appears that he simply reduced the cost of providing fire and police services by 2/3 (compared to EPS’ analysis).  This is an enormous reduction, which greatly affects the results (and accounts for a large difference between EPS’ and FBC’s analyses.)  I’m not seeing an explanation, regarding the calculations used to determine this reduction.  On a related note, it appears that Dan compared the costs of providing services to the low-density east Davis geographic area with the Nishi proposal (without considering the differences in cost that a higher-density, constrained development such as Nishi might require – as stated by one of the chiefs in the EPS analysis).  A quick look at the rest of the analysis does not fully explain some of the other calculations/differences regarding costs and contributions, as well.

    In general, it seems that Dan assumes that city services could be provided within existing resources.  (If true, it seems that the “next” development will have to pay a much higher cost/rate than Nishi, since Nishi might use up existing capacity.)

    I would disagree that all sales taxes would be lost, if Nishi is not approved.  If the potential population is dispersed (but maintains some relationship to the University or the city), it is likely that some expenditures will still occur within Davis.

    If I’m understanding your answer above, you stated that the FBC “increased” the CFD.  However, I understood that the FBC only engaged in analysis/recommendations, and did not have any authority to negotiate costs/contributions.  (I’m probably misunderstanding this.)

    Regarding the costs of road construction required for Nishi, I’m not entirely certain of the figures or responsible parties.  Actually, I was hoping that you would know this, since you’re on the FBC.  I recall that you acknowledged (a couple of months ago) that you weren’t familiar with these costs (and were planning to investigate further).  (I recall something regarding a credit from the city, to the developer.)

    1. Matt Williams

      Ron, thank you for the complement.  My grandmother would be proud to hear your words.  I learned those skills from her.

      Regarding Dan’s adjustments, the reason for those adjustments is as follows:

      — EPS included in its analysis the cost of building the City’s fire stations and police station as if they did not already exist and had to be built from scratch.
      — EPS included in its analysis the cost of equipping the City’s fire stations and police station with their vehicles and gear as if that equipment and gear did not already exist and had to be built from scratch.

      Those capital investments were real cash expenditures by the City when the stations were built and the vehicles and equipment were purchased, but they are not cash expenditures at this time.  Therefore they do not go into the annual City Budget, which is based on cash expenditures.  Therefore the costs that EPS (and the two chiefs) included in their “as if new” analysis need to be reduced in an “incremental cash” analysis.

      Similarly, the staffing costs of police and fire (especially fire) are also not “as if new.”  The incremental demand for fire services from the innovation parks (especially MRIC) does not necessitate adding more headcount to the “hurry up and wait” staff at the East Davis Fire Station.  Given the “as if new” perspective of the EPS analysis they include the costs of hiring and paying new staff because they assume there is no existing staff, even though there clearly is.  Their approach is “fully allocated costs” as opposed to “cash expenditures in the current period.”

      Your statement about the “next” development is 100% correct in my opinion . . . with one clarification.  The “current” developments and the “next” developments will pay the City at the same rate, but the City will spend those payments differently.  The taxes and fees money the City receives from the current developments will be spent on non-fire and non-police services; however, the taxes and fees money the City receives from the next developments (as you have described them) will be spent on fire and police services in order to increase capacity.

      You are right … not all.  Some (a small percentage in my opinion) will be spent in Davis, mostly for meals.

      The FBC recommends what it believes is optimal fiscal policy to the Council.  The Council can either implement or ignore the FBC’s recommendations.  In this case the FBC felt the optimal fiscal policy was/is a annual taxation level that is equal to the annual taxation level at the Cannery.  That level increased the annual taxes at Nishi and also increased the amount of the  annual surplus (after converting the EPS Base deficit into a surplus).

      The road construction costs deserves an answer of its own . . . and yes I am knowledgeable about it, but wanted to be sure I was answering your actual question.

      Keep the cards and letters coming.

       

      1. Ron

        Thanks, Matt.

        To clarify, how did Dan Carson determine the cost of police/fire services?  (I understand that he removed the infrastructure costs, but what calculations did he then use?)  I’m still wondering why the chiefs of those departments objected to reductions in estimates (and cited the increased cost of providing services to an increased population in a constrained area).  Those statements are in EPS’ report dated February 4th, in which they considered (but ultimately rejected) the FBC’s concern regarding police/fire estimates.

        It seems that “using up” existing infrastructure/capacity does have a cost, and that all developments should be charged the same rate (regardless of whether or not any particular development is the one that uses up the last bit, thus requiring new construction for the next development).

        Regarding the road constructions costs, yes – please do share your knowledge regarding responsible parties, costs, effect on the projections, etc.

  20. Tia Will

    Eileen and Matt

    With the intent of lowering the heat on who is or is not posting under differing names I will make the following comment. As a member of the editorial board, I would offer this insight. Eileen is not wrong that in the past some posters have chosen to post under more than one identifier. Along with other changes over time to Vanguard policies, this issue was looked into, determined to be less than optimal in promoting community conversation and strongly discouraged and for a while tracked by those who have administrative access ( of whom I am not one).

    To the best of my knowledge, there is no one posting on this issue who is using more than one name to post under. I made this limited statement since I do not follow every conversation closely and so may be unaware of this activity on other threads.

     

  21. Jim Leonard

    There’s a lot of name calling by those who favor Nishi. Why is this so? Generally speaking, people call each other names when their positions are weak. They thus display their contempt for democracy, which is about the free and open expression of ideas and rational analysis of them with a view to what’s best for the population as a whole.

    The opposite of democracy is mob rule. Bullies are in charge of the cowering masses that go along for a variety of self-serving purposes. I’m seeing signs of that mob psychology in the Nishi advocates.

    The motivation of the pro Nishi side appears to be money and not much else. City Hall rationalizes a project that won’t produce any affordable housing. This in spite of the fact that affordable housing is severely needed in this town. City Hall rationalizes a project that would put its residents’ health at risk under the claim that people who decide to live there do so at their OWN risk; really, I thought the first business of City Hall was the health and welfare of its citizens–apparently not.

    And the pro side attacks the anti side for always being against any project proposed. Again, really? The Nishi developer, Tim Ruff, wanted to put in a business park without housing in his original proposal. That would have not required a citizen vote and most citizens would have supported it.

    So, by the requirement of City Hall, would Nishi actually produce income for Davis? Maybe yes and maybe no. The county has yet to weigh in on what it would expect from the City of Davis in the revenue sharing agreement. And the project only “pencils out” when it is assumed that there will be a lot of sales tax coming in; that is not a safe assumption–the economy could go bust and ,as a result, low sales taxes could put the project in the red.

    I call upon the pro Nishi side to be stop behaving like an angry crowd. If that happened, maybe they’d see the light, join the anti Nishi side, and, after the project is defeated in its current form, work with all Davisites to produce a DIFFERENT Nishi Project that would: 1) have affordable housing, 2) work with U.C.D. to assure that housing would be for students, 3) have pollution controls so site residents would not have their health affected, 4) address traffic problems in a straightforward manner rather than the contingent manner that is proposed now (i.e. the promise that there will be no development unless CalTrans agrees to modify the I-80, Richards exchange; for those that want a development on the Nishi site, how could they possibly agree to that?), and 5) bring in income that automatically delivers enough revenue for City Hall to stay in the black.

    The current Nishi project is “half baked”. We deserve better. And democracy demands a better dialogue. The anti side is making the effort to have that better dialogue. The pro side is invited (and chided) to join that dialogue–for everybody’s benefit.

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