Guest Commentary: Air Quality at Nishi Is Unsuitable for Residential Purposes

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car-emissionsForeword by Alan Pryor of the No on Nishi Campaign:

There are two primary sources of particulate matter pollution that could accumulate at Nishi and be most expected to cause adverse human-health impacts. Metallic particlate matter results from braking of I-80 east-bound traffic as it slows while bottle-necking from 6 lanes to 3 and from train braking as eest-bound train traffic slows to pass through or stop in Davis. Hydrocarbon-based pollution results from both extensive east- and west-bound automobile and truck traffic on the freeway but also from the diesel -driven trains as they accelerate west coming out of the Davis curve. Dr. Thomas Cahill, Professor Emeritus of Atmospheric Science at UCD, has claimed that this confluence of these pollution sources and the low-lying nature of the Nishi parcel sandwiched between an elevated freeway and bermed railroad track, creates a “perfect storm” of adverse air quality impacts at Nishi which renders it unfil for residential pruposes.

The No on Nishi campaign has used the writings and quaotes from Dr. Cahill in various ways in addition to posting information on this website. Many commenters on this website, however, have requested that additional sources of information be provided to readers to allow them to more fully evaluate the claims by Dr. Cahill. In addition to claiming that the air quality at Nishi is unsuitable for general residential purposes, Dr. Cahill provides information that such poor air quality is particularly harmful to young children with developing lungs and expectant mothers. The following letter and information was recently provided by Dr. Cahill and is being posted here with his permission.

I have previously disagreed with Dr. Cahill on some issues including whether or not his support of the New Harmony low income housing project just south of I-80 several years ago was contradictory to his current position advising against residential applications at Nishi. My opinion has changed since I posted comments on this blog about 7 months ago about these seeming contradictory positions. This change was based on the additional scientific articles and information provided by Dr. Cahill and additional computer modeling work I recently did that examines air pollution dispersion using EPA-developed software.

Based on this modeling, I believe New Harmony and Nishi are fundamentally different in terms of their topography, the direction of prevailing winds through the properties relative to the freeway and railroad tracks, and how pollutants can accumulate at either site. In particular, Nishi is downwind from prevailing winds and the freeway and sits lower in a “bowl” relative to both the freeway and the railroad tracks. This allows particulate pollutants to downdraft and settle in the low-lying areas; particularly during winter months with inversion conditions just as Dr. Cahill described. In addition to the adverse impacts on children and expectant mothers, there is also a strong body of evidence showing increases in both acute and chronic respiratory and cardiac distress in seniors associated with increased particulate matter pollution

I believe the data presented by Dr. Cahill clearly and unequivocally supports his contention that the site should not be used for housing for any young children or expectant mothers. However, as I have also stated, I have not seen indications in that data that such poor air quality at Nishi would be adverse to healthy young adult students with fully developed lungs living there for short periods (absent any other respiratory conditions such as asthma or COPD).

As such, I have stated that I believed the site could still be used for student housing if the student’s tenure there was for only a limited number of years and then they moved on after their education to more healthy environments with better air quality. This is my personal opinion, however, and it is certainly not shared by most of the volunteers working on the No on Nishi campaign nor by Dr. Cahill who believe there should be no residential uses at Nishi.


Re: Nishi vote in Davis, June, 2016

From: Tom Cahill, April, 2016

tacahill2718@gmail.com 

I worked with the Air Resources Board and Jerry Brown ver. 1.0 from 1970 to 1978 with my UCD students to remove sulfur and lead from California gasoline, essential for adoption of the catalytic converter. The next two decades saw vast improvements, including sharp decreases in ozone and much lead levels in the blood of children.

But in 1994, I and others had become aware of continuing health threats near freeways. The Health Effects Task force of Breathe California of Sacramento/Emigrant Trails was established as a team of volunteers from the ARB, local air districts, Sac County Public Health, Kaiser doctors, and faculty from Davis and Berkeley.  Jan Sharpless, who had been ARB Chair for 13 years, was the leader. We spent the next 20 years researching the issue and starting in 2002 performing focused experiments to find the causes. The results are in several BC/SET reports and 6 peer reviewed papers, 3 selected for a special journal issue by the US EPA. The techniques we developed are now being used by us and others around the world, including in a major US EPA study of freeways in Detroit. The results are being evaluated for policy relevance by several agencies, including US EPA, CA Dept. of Public Housing and Bay Area AQMD. We also have recently confirmed the negative impacts of elevated freeways.

 I had seen the problem of Nishi and its most unfortunate location, and I provided the developer and the City warning the of air quality threats. I provided the developer with the methods we are using with the US Embassy in Beijing to protect their staff’s apartment, which would work just as well for protecting workers in a research and innovation complex.

But pressured by all sorts of Davis feel good goals and the desire of students for inexpensive housing near the university, Nishi morphed into a village, with both rentals and purchased apartments, parks, playing fields, and retail services. Our experience and studies of the past 20 years attested unequivocally that residential use near freeways risks permanent health impacts, especially for children and students.

Nishi has a very unfavorable site profile, local meteorology and traffic patterns. Nishi is:

  1. Jammed between a heavily travelled freeway and heavily used train corridor, with most of the site within 500 feet of I-80 and all of it within 900 feet of the freeway.
  2. Downwind of a high traffic, truck-rich freeway with persistent heavy braking,
  3. Which is placed on an elevated berm directly upwind of the site, and
  4. Impacted by train diesel as trains accelerate going west from the Davis low speed curve.

These conditions raise predicted health impacts in the peer reviewed literature:

  1. Predicted and measured enhanced cancer rates from diesel,
  2. Validated by high weekend ultra-fine diesel impacts,
  3. Early heart attacks from ischemic heart disease caused by ultra-fine metallic brake debris,
  4. Loss of lung function in children to > 1500 feet, possibly due to metallic aerosols,
  5. Sharp increases in pediatric asthma, and for the unborn,
  6. Almost doubling of the rate for having an autistic child if pregnancy occurs within 1020 feet of a freeway.

Davis’ own Environmental Impact Report concluded that there are “…significant and unavoidable” (4.3-33) …” air quality impacts based on state and federal air quality regulations. This alone should have been adequate to force removal of residential use from the proposal. Considering these threats, the lack of adequate measurements at Nishi are by itself a barrier to any approval.

Why do I care so much? All over California planners are locating infill in close proximity of freeways. I want the vote in Davis to open the discussion of whether this is wise idea or whether California is about to exacerbate an “Environmental Justice” tragedy. Nishi is just one example of scores, perhaps hundreds, of infill proposals around California. Thus, I am presenting in some detail the medical and air quality support of our positions in order to provide guidance the citizens of Davis in the vote they cast on June 7.

Davis’s decision on June 7 may act to slow or stop other unfortunate proposed developments until the air quality impacts are properly addressed.

References Specifically Important to Nishi Analysis

Roadway downwind transport of pollutants from elevated freeways

Feeney, P.J., T.A. Cahill, R.G. Flocchini, R.A. Eldred, D.J. Shadoan, and T. Dunn.  Effect of roadbed configuration on traffic derived aerosols.  Journal of the Air Pollution Control Association.  25:1145‑1147 (1975).

ARB, 2007. Emfac2007. California Air Resources Board, http://www.arb.ca.gov/msei/onroad/downloads/docs/user_guide_emfac2007.pdf

Baldauf, Richard, Greg McPherson, Linda Wheaton, Max Zhabg, Tom Cahill, Chad

Bailey, Christina Hemphill-Fuller, Earl Withycombe, and Kori Titus, Integrating Vegetation

and Green Infrastructure into Sustainable Transportation Planning, Transportation

Research Bulletin, National Academy of Sciences (2013)

Thomas A. Cahill2, David E. Barnes, Leann Wuest, Sean Barberie, David Gribble, David Buscho, Jason Snyder, Roger S. Miller, and intern Camille De la Croix, Artificial Ultra-fine Aerosol Tracers for Highway Transect Studies, Atmospheric Environment (in press, 2016)

Highway Toxicity (General)

Health Effects Institute, Traffic Related Air Pollution: A Critical Review of the Literature on Emissions, Exposure, and Health Effects,, Health Effects Institute 17, Boston, MA (2009)

Vette, A., J. Burke, G. Norris, M. Landis, S. Batterman, M. Breen, V. Isakov, T. Lewis, M. I. Gilmour, A. Kamal, D. Hammond, R. Vedantham, S. Bereznicki, N. Tian and C. Croghan (2013) The Near-Road Exposures and Effects of Urban Air Pollutants Study (NEXUS): Study design and methods. Science of the Total Environment 448: 38-47.

Diesel Exhaust

ARB, 2007. Emfac2007. California Air Resources Board, http://www.arb.ca.gov/msei/onroad/downloads/docs/user_guide_emfac2007.pdf.

Cahill, Thomas M., and Thomas A. Cahill. Seasonal variability of particle-associated organic compounds near a heavily traveled secondary road. Aerosol Science and Technology, (2013) doi: 10.1080/02786826.2013.857757

Lung Function in Children

Peters, John M., Edward Avol, William Navidi, Stephanie J. London, W. James Gauderman, Fred Lurman, William S. Linn, Helene Margolis, Edward Rappaport, Henry Gong, Jr., and Duncan C. Thomas, “A Study of Twelve Southern California Communities with Differing Levels and Types of Air Pollution I. Prevalence of Respiratory Morbidity, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Vol. 159, No. 3 (1999), pp. 760-767.(a)

Peters, John M., Edward Avol, William Navidi, Stephanie J. London, W. James Gauderman, Fred Lurman, William S. Linn, Helene Margolis, Edward Rappaport, Henry Gong, Jr., and Duncan C. Thomas “A Study of Twelve Southern California Communities with Differing Levels and Types of Air Pollution; II. Effects on Pulmonary Function, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Vol. 159, No. 3 (1999), pp. 768-775. (b)

Gauderman, W. J., McConnell, R., Gilliland, F., London, S., Thomas, D., Avol, E., Vora, H., Berhane, K., Rappaport, E. B., Lurmann, F., Margolis, H. G. and Peters, J. (2000). Association between air pollution and lung function growth in southern California children. Am. J. Respir. Crit. Care Med. 162:1383-1390.

Utra Fine Metals from Brakes, etc.

Bukowiecki , N, , P. Lienemann, M. Hilla, M. Furger, A. Richard, F. Amatoc, A.S.H. Prévôt, U. Baltenspergerb, B. Buchmanna, R. Gehrig, PM10 emission factors for non-exhaust particles generated by road traffic in an urban street canyon and along a freeway in Switzerland, Atmospheric Environment 44, 2330-2340 (2010)

Thomas A. Cahill, David E. Barnes, Nicholas J. Spada, Jonathan A. Lawton, and Thomas M. Cahill, Very Fine and Ultra-fine Metals and Ischemic Heart Disease in the California Central Valley 1: 2003 – 2007, Aerosol Science and Technology 45, 1125-1134 (2011a)

Cahill, T. A., Barnes, D. E. and Spada, N. J. (2014). Seasonal variability of ultra-fine metals downwind of a heavily traveled secondary road. Atmos. Environment, 94, 173-179. (2014)

Chen, L. C., and Lippmann, M. (2009). Effects of Metals within Ambient Air Particulate Matter (PM) on Human Health. Inhal. Toxicol.: Int Forum Resp. Res., 21:1-31.

Denier Van der Gon, H., Gerlofs Nijland, M, Gehrig R, Gustafsson M, Janssen N, Harrison R,

Hulskotte J, Johansson C, Jozwicka M, Keuken M, Krijgsheld K, Ntziachristos L, Riediker M,

Cassee F (2013) The policy relevance of wear emissions from road transport, now and in the

future—an international workshop report and consensus statement. J Air Waste Management Assoc. 63:136–149 (2013)

Effects of Air Pollution on Autism

Volk, H. E., Hertz-Picciotto, I., Delwiche, L., Lurmann, F., and McConnell, R., Residential Proximity to Freeways and the CHARGE Study, Environmental Health Perspectives, 119, # 6 , pg 872 – 877 (2011)

The Economist, Special Issue on Autism, April, 2016

Impact of Railroad Diesel Exhaust

Thomas A. Cahill, Thomas M. Cahill, David E. Barnes, Nicholas J. Spada and Roger Miller. Inorganic and organic aerosols downwind of California’s Roseville Railyard. Aerosol Science and Technology 45:1049-1059 (2011) doi:10.1080/02786826.2011.580796

Mitigation by Vegetation

Integrating Vegetation and Green Infrastructure into Sustainable Transportation Planning, Baldauf, Richard, Greg McPherson, Linda Wheaton, Max Zhabg, Tom Cahill, Chad Bailey, Christina Hemphill-Fuller, Earl Withycombe, and Kori Titus, Transportation Research Bulletin, National Academy of Sciences (2013)

Abstracts (when such are available online)

Downwind Impact of Elevated Freeways

Effect of Roadbed Configuration on Traffic Derived Aerosols, P. J. Feeney, T. A. Cahill, R. G. Flocchini, R. A. Eldred, D. J. Shadoan & T. Dunn , Journal of the Air Pollution Control Association, 25, 11, 1975, pp 1145-1147

Abstract

Aerosols present upwind and downwind of freeways in the Los Angeles Basin were collected in five particle size ranges by Lundgren impactors with after filters and analyzed for elemental content by ion-excited x-ray emission. The contribution of freeway traffic to total airborne particulate load was obtained by subtracting the local background, measured by an upwind sampler, from the values obtained by downwind samplers on a size by size, element by element basis. This contribution correlated reasonably well with estimates derived from automotive and roadbed expendable rates. Traffic-derived aerosols, normalized to vehicular flow, were considerably lower in mass downwind of depressed roadbed configurations than either at grade or raised configurations. A line source model, combined with literature values for emitted lead, produced good agreement with results obtained in the at grade configuration

Artificial Ultra-fine Aerosol Tracers for Highway Transect Studies, Thomas A. Cahill1,2, David E. Barnes1, , Leann Wuest1, Sean Barberie1, David Gribble1, David Buscho1, Jason Snyder1, Roger E. Miller1, and intern Camille De la Croix3, Atm Environment (in press, 2016)

Abstract

The persistent evidence of health impacts of roadway aerosols requires extensive information for urban planning to avoid putting populations at risk, especially in-fill projects. The required information must cover both highway aerosol sources as well as transport into residential areas under a variety of roadway configurations, traffic conditions, downwind vegetation, and meteorology. Such studies are difficult and expensive to do, but were easier in the past when there was a robust fine aerosol tracer uniquely tied to traffic – lead. In this report we propose and test a modern alternative, highway safety flare aerosols. Roadway safety flares on vehicles in traffic can provide very fine and ultra-fine aerosols of unique composition that can be detected quantitatively far downwind of roadways due to a lack of upwind interferences. The collection method uses inexpensive portable aerosol collection hardware and x-ray analysis protocols.  The time required for each transect is typically 1 hour. Side by side tests showed precision at ± 4%. We have evaluated this technique both by aerosol removal in vegetation in a wind tunnel and by tracking aerosols downwind of freeways as a function of season, highway configuration and vegetation coverage. The results show that sound walls for at-grade freeways cause freeway pollution to extend much farther downwind than standard models predict. The elevated or fill section freeway on a berm projected essentially undiluted roadway aerosols at distances well beyond 325 m, deep into residential neighborhoods. Canopy vegetation with roughly 70% cover reduced very fine and ultra-fine aerosols by up to a factor of 2 at distances up to 200 m downwind

Impact on the lung function of children

Effect of exposure to traffic on lung development from 10 to 18 years of age: a cohort study, Dr W James Gauderman, PhD, , , Hita Vora, MS, Prof Rob cConnell, MD, Kiros Berhane, PhD, Prof Frank Gilliland, MD,  Prof Duncan Thomas, PhD, Fred Lurmann, MS, Edward Avol, MS, Nino Kunzli, MD, Michael Jerrett, PhD, Prof John Peters, MD, The Lancet, Volume 369, Issue 9561, 17–23 February 2007, Pages 571–577

Abstract

Whether local exposure to major roadways adversely affects lung-function growth during the period of rapid lung development that takes place between 10 and 18 years of age is unknown. This study investigated the association between residential exposure to traffic and 8-year lung-function growth. Methods In this prospective study, 3677 children (mean age 10 years [SD 0·44]) participated from 12 southern California communities that represent a wide range in regional air quality. Children were followed up for 8 years, with yearly lung-function measurements recorded. For each child, we identified several indicators of residential exposure to traffic from large roads. Regression analysis was used to establish whether 8-year growth in lung function was associated with local traffic exposure, and whether local traffic effects were independent of regional air quality. Findings Children who lived within 500 m of a freeway (motorway) had substantial deficits in 8-year growth of forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1, −81 mL, p=0·01 [95% CI −143 to −18]) and maximum midexpiratory flow rate (MMEF, −127 mL/s, p=0·03 [−243 to −11), compared with children who lived at least 1500 m from a freeway. Joint models showed that both local exposure to freeways and regional air pollution had detrimental, and independent, effects on lung-function growth. Pronounced deficits in attained lung function at age 18 years were recorded for those living within 500 m of a freeway, with mean percent-predicted 97·0% for FEV1 (p=0·013, relative to >1500 m [95% CI 94·6–99·4]) and 93·4% for MMEF (p=0·006 [95% CI 89·1–97·7]). Interpretation Local exposure to traffic on a freeway has adverse effects on children’s lung development, which are independent of regional air quality, and which could result in important deficits in attained lung function in later life

Early heart attacks from ultrafine metallic brake debris

Very Fine and Ultrafine Metals and Ischemic Heart Disease in the California Central Valley 1: 2003–2007, Thomas A. Cahill, David E. Barnes, Nicholas J. Spada, Jonathan A. Lawton, and Thomas M. Cahill, Aerosol Science and Technology, 45:1123–1134, 2011

Abstract

The enhancement of mortality associated with cardiovascular and specifically ischemic heart disease (IHD) has been observed in the southern California Central Valley since at least 1990, and it continues to be a major source of mortality. While there is a strong statistical association of IHD with wintertime PM2.5 mass, the causal agents are uncertain. Medical studies identify some potential causal agents, such as very fine and ultrafine metals, but they have not been fully characterized in most Central Valley regions. To provide improved information on specific and potentially causal agents, a five site aerosol sampling transect was conducted from Redding to Bakersfield during a 17-day period of strong stagnation, January 5–22, 2009. Mass and elemental components were measured every 3 h in eight particle size modes, ranging from 10 to 0.09 μm, while the ultrafine particles (<0.09 μm) were collected on Teflon filters. Ancillary studies were performed including direct upwind–downwind profiles across a heavily traveled secondary

street near a stoplight. Very fine and ultrafine iron, nickel, copper, and zinc were identified as vehicular, with the most probable sources being brake drums and pads and the lubrication oil

additive zinc thiophosphate. High correlations, many with r2 > 0.9, were found between these vehicular metals and IHD mortality, enhanced by the meteorology, terrain, and traffic patterns of the southern Central Valley. The braking systems of cars and trucks must now be considered along with direct exhaust emissions in estimating the health impacts from traffic.

Very Fine and Ultrafine Metals and Ischemic Heart Disease in the California Central Valley 2: 1974–1991, Thomas A. Cahill, David E. Barnes, EarlWithycombe, and Mitchell Watnik3Aerosol Science and Technology, 45:1135–1142, 2011

Abstract

The southern part of Central Valley of California in winter has long had high PM10 mass, which until about 1990 included sulfate, vanadium, and nickel from the burning of crude oil used to

generate steam to enhance heavy petroleum recovery. In roughly 1990, natural gas became the major energy source used for steam generation. In 1989–1991, data were collected throughout California on the mortality from strokes and ischemic heart disease (IHD). Although no spatial variability was seen for strokes, the southern San Joaquin Valley was found to have IHD mortality rates roughly 60% greater than the rest of the valley. PM10 was statistically identified as the major factor associated with the IHD mortality. However, when the rate of IHD was reexamined in the 2003–2007 period, a sharp reduction, about 30%, was seen in the relative rates for southern San Joaquin Valley as compared with the northern Sacramento Valley. We have measured very fine and ultrafine vanadium and nickel aerosols in a winter experiment in

2009, which shows an order of magnitude reduction in vanadium and nickel aerosols as compared with the pre-1990 data, which is a consequence of the switch from burning crude oil to natural gas to generate the steam. The inference of a causal relationship between the reduced vanadium and nickel and the improved IHD rate is supported by a growing body of laboratory and epidemiological work on the toxicity of vanadium and nickel, including from oceangoing ships burning crude or residual oil.

Seasonal variability of ultra-fine metals downwind of a heavily traveled secondary road, Thomas A. Cahill, David E. Barnes a, Nicholas J. Spada, Atmospheric Environment 94 (2014) 173 – 179,

Abstract

Since 2002, we have been studying the impact of a heavily traveled secondary road on an adjacent downwind school located at a stop light controlled intersection. The prior studies were all performed in winter conditions with typically strong inversions, but established significant PM2.5 impacts on the school roughly in accord with theoretical models and the relevant literature. In this project, we have enhanced this effort by extending the study from winter to summer, and adding compositionally resolved ultra-fine aerosol measurements. Ultra-fine aerosols, including metals derived from both brake wear and zinc in lubricating oil, were present at high concentrations in winter downwind of the roadway but absent at a residential site 500 m upwind. Their concentrations faded to minor levels in spring and early summer, while coarse roadway resuspended dust increased in that period. A comparison of ultra-fine measurements in downtown Sacramento and other California Central Valley sites indicates that these traffic derived aerosols are widely present in urban areas impacted by heavy traffic, freeways and secondary streets, especially where heavy braking is occurring. The potential for health impacts of ultra-fine metals associated with cars braking and accelerating in inversion conditions is a serious health concern based on recent epidemiological studies.

Seasonal Variability of Particle-Associated Organic Compounds Near a Heavily Traveled Secondary Road,  Thomas M. Cahill and Thomas A. Cahill, Aerosol Science and Technology, 48:53–60, 2014

Abstract

Size-resolved aerosol samples were collected both upwind and downwind of a large secondary road in the winter and spring of 2007 to assess contributions of on-road emissions to ambient

aerosols. The aerosol samples were extracted and analyzed for a wide variety of organic compounds including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), alkanes, sugars, and organic acids. The results showed a strong seasonal pattern where the concentrations of most compounds were higher in winter than in spring. Some of the biogenic sugars were the exception, which might be the result of a “spring blooming season.” The surprising result was that the upwind site located in a residential neighborhood had very similar concentrations of most organic compounds compared to the near roadway site. Possible reasons for the lack of differences in organic chemical concentrations between the near-road and control sites include: a large urban background concentration of aerosols superimposed on any local source; shifting wind directions that make the “downwind” site upwind during the night; and additional local sources in the residential neighborhood such as wood burning in winter.

Impact of railroad diesel emissions

Inorganic and Organic Aerosols Downwind of California’s Roseville Railyard

Thomas A. Cahill, Thomas M. Cahill, David E. Barnes, Nicholas J. Spada,

and Roger Miller Aerosol Science and Technology, 45:1049–1059, 2011

Abstract

Inorganic and organic constituents of aerosols from a major railyard and repair facility were characterized to develop a profile of emissions from railyard activities. The railyard has very consistent downslope winds blowing laterally across the railyard for about 8 hours each night, so two sampling stations were used, one just upwind of the railyard and one downwind adjacent to the railyard fence line. Aerosol samples were collected by rotating drum impactors (DRUM and Lundgren) in up to 9 size modes for 5 weeks in summer and fall of 2005 in tandem with the Roseville Railyard Aerosol Monitoring Project (RRAMP), which measured, black carbon (BC) PM2, as well as NO and NO2. The DRUM aerosol samples were analyzed for mass, optical absorption, and elemental content in 3 h time resolution to allow separation of day and night. Organic analysis was conducted on another set of time integrated size-segregated samples taken by a Lundgren impactor during nighttime hours. The ratio between the downwind versus upwind sites at night was as high as 21.9 (NO, RRAMP) and 6.4 (optical absorption, DRUM) but many species had ratios greater than 2, demonstrating which aerosols arose from railyard activities. The main emissions from the railyard consisted of very fine (0.26 > Dp > 0.09 μm) and ultrafine (<0.1 μm) aerosols associated with diesel exhaust such as mass, organic matter, transition metals, and sulfur, the latter 3.3% of the mass since locomotive diesel fuel still contained sulfur. There were also coarse soil aerosols contaminated with anthropogenic metals and petroleum-derived n-alkanes. The aerosol PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) profile showed higher proportions of the heavier PAHs, such as benzo[a]pyrene, compared to diesel truck exhaust on a per unit mass. These aerosols were mostly in the ultrafine (<0.1 μm) size mode, enhancing lung capture. These results and those of Roseville Railyard Aerosol Monitoring Project (RRAMP) largely confirm earlier California Air Resources Board’s (ARB) model estimates of health impacts downwind of the railyard based on diesel exhaust, while adding data on very fine transition metals and contaminated soils, potentially important to human health.

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116 thoughts on “Guest Commentary: Air Quality at Nishi Is Unsuitable for Residential Purposes”

  1. Tia Will

    In addition to the adverse impacts on children and expectant mothers, there is also a strong body of evidence showing increases in both acute and chronic respiratory and cardiac distress in seniors associated with increased particulate matter pollution”

    I want to start by saying that I fully appreciate the work of Dr. Cahill. I have read only the studies related to the increased risk of autism. It is on this basis alone that I make the following comments.

     

    1. “Almost doubling of the rate for having an autistic child if pregnancy occurs within 1020 feet of a freeway.” Is based on a very small number of children, with a large component of self reporting by a knowledgeable adult, and was found to be correlative, not causative, with the authors themselves stating that a major weakness of the study was the lack of knowledge of what specific factor related to proximity might be related to the observed effect. They cited one potential alternative factor as being noise. Thus there is nothing at all in this study that points to particulates, emission or inhalants as causative. But more importantly, in weighing scientific evidence is the issue of replication of the results of the study. This we do not have. For me this illustrates first the limitations of only reading the abstract when making judgements of applicability of studies, being willing to accept findings as applicable to other settings, and being willing to accept risk assessment based only on expert opinion, and in this case, the opinion of only one expert in one possibly related field.
    2. Finally, there is a difference between the quality of a study and the interpretation and use that one makes of that study. In an exchange yesterday Frankly and Roberta discussed the issue of study validity vs bias. While I do not doubt the investigative integrity and competency of Dr. Cahill, I do feel that his studies do not rise to a substantiated level such that major policy decisions should be made on this information alone without consideration of the downside risks of not providing housing at this site.
    1. Ron

      Tia:  “While I do not doubt the investigative integrity and competency of Dr. Cahill, I do feel that his studies do not rise to a substantiated level such that major policy decisions should be made on this information alone without consideration of the downside risks of not providing housing at this site.”

      To clarify, do you believe that information is lacking (meaning insufficient study/knowledge), or have you concluded that Dr. Cahill is simply wrong?  Also, are you stating that a direct comparison can be made regarding potential risks regarding where students might live (and the transportation methods that they might use), if Nishi (in its current form) is not approved?  (That seems like a stretch, to me.  Especially in light of the fact that the University has now agreed to provide housing for 90% of the planned increase in enrollment.)

      I have no idea, regarding the magnitude of the risk.  However, it seems that Dr. Cahill is stating that this is a potential concern throughout California, as more developments are approved near freeways (and in this case, a railroad and other unique concerns regarding this particular site).  It seems that we often “plow ahead” without knowing the full effects of our actions, only to find out later that it was an unwise decision. (Especially when there’s a large amount of potential profit at stake.)

       

      1. Roberta Millstein

        To follow up on what Ron said, if you think you don’t have enough data, shouldn’t you get more data rather than forge on ahead as planned?  Dr. Cahill recommended more studies, but instead we are going forward with Nishi.

        1. Tia Will

          Ron and Roberta

          1. “do you believe that information is lacking (meaning insufficient study/knowledge), or have you concluded that Dr. Cahill is simply wrong? “

          I feel that there is insufficient data to make any comment about the causality of proximity of freeways to the risk of autism. The studies are too small, not well controlled, involve self reported memories over two year periods, involve sites where there are significant other potential factors ( as they authors themselves state) to draw any significant conclusions for how they might ( or might not apply to this site).

          2. “are you stating that a direct comparison can be made regarding potential risks regarding where students might live (and the transportation methods that they might use), if Nishi (in its current form) is not approved? “

          No, I am specifically saying that no such direct comparison can be made. However, we all weigh factors which cannot be directly compared when making decisions in our lives every day. We consider such incomparable issues as, should we have our first child while we are young and energetic ?  Or shall we wait until after our careers are established ?  Do I want to buy a new car now, or save money for a first home downpayment ? Our lives are full of not directly comparable considerations. This does not mean that a full evaluation of all the relevant pros and cons is not a valid approach.

          3. “ it seems that Dr. Cahill is stating that this is a potential concern throughout California”

          With this I agree. And it is a concern. I don’t believe that we should dismiss Dr. Cahill’s work lightly….. and I have not. I simply see it as sufficient cause for more study in these areas, but not sufficient concern to not build this particular project. I freely admit that this is my personal assessment of the pros and cons and others will doubtless draw other conclusions. I am more assertive with regard to the much touted “autism” study where I feel that the evidence is particularly weak in an area where I have significant expertise.

        2. ryankelly

          Sometimes you have to make decisions and forge ahead with the data you have.   People in the medical field do this every day.  We can delay and delay and miss opportunities while we struggle with someone’s uncertainty.  The Nishi is 8 years in the making.  They have included every possible mitigation for Cahill’s concerns, following suggestions that he suggested.  The University does this all the time.  It takes forever to get anything done, while professors engage in dialogue.  Someone eventually has to decide.  Roberta, this is not an academic exercise.  People need housing. Businesses need R&D space.

        3. Roberta Millstein

          Tia, thank you for your reply, but you didn’t answer my question.  I will repeat it here: ” if you think you don’t have enough data, shouldn’t you get more data rather than forge on ahead as planned?  Dr. Cahill recommended more studies, but instead we are going forward with Nishi.”

          How can you justify going forward? Even if the studies aren’t definitive enough for you, don’t you think they are concerning enough that we ought to be cautious?

        4. Roberta Millstein

          ryankelly, I am very much aware that this is not an academic exercise.  People’s lives and health are potentially at stake, and that is more important than other considerations – which, by the way, are not certain either.  Let’s not cast this as “heath effects that may not occur vs. jobs and financial benefits that are certain to accrue.”  We don’t have to pursue Nishi.  We could put more effort into other areas, even if they don’t produce quite the same benefits, and certainly the housing picture is much better now that the University looks like it will be building a lot more housing.

          We should not be “forging ahead” when there are potentially serious health risks. That is not the sort of thing you “forge ahead” on.

          1. Don Shor

            certainly the housing picture is much better now that the University looks like it will be building a lot more housing.

            Time to put this to rest. It isn’t true. The housing picture is not going to improve because of what the university has said they will do. It will simply not get much, much worse than it currently is. It will just get somewhat worse.
            I guess it’s going to be necessary to keep correcting this misinterpretation of what the university and city leaders have announced.

        5. Roberta Millstein

          Don Shor, I agree with what Ron has said elsewhere on this page.  We now know that the University is willing to work with the City on the housing issue.  We can press them for denser housing, as Eileen Samitz has suggested (and I am sure she will be doing so).

          I find it funny that when people said “1500 is a drop in the bucket,” the Yes on A people said, “no, 1500 is a lot!” but now, when the University is talking about housing 6,200 students on campus, as well as 475 additional faculty and staff, suddenly the Yes on A people treat it like it’s chump change.  (Sorry for the mixed metaphors).

          1. Don Shor

            We now have a commitment from the university to house 90% of their enrollment increase going forward.
            Meanwhile:
            UCD enrollment 1997: 24,299

            UCD enrollment 2012: 32,354

            UCD enrollment 2016: _______

            UCD planned enrollment 2020: ______

            Total beds added on campus 1997 – 2016: ______

            And meanwhile,

            when the University is talking about housing 6,200 students on campus, as well as 475 additional faculty and staff, suddenly the Yes on A people treat it like it’s chump change.

            … so the 6200 is out of what total enrollment increase?
            I really think you folks need to get realistic about exactly what UC has offered here.

      2. Adam Smith

        Ron

        (That seems like a stretch, to me.  Especially in light of the fact that the University has now agreed to provide housing for 90% of the planned increase in enrollment.)

        In several postings  since the preliminary LRDP was announced, you’ve made reference to the “agreement” by the university to build student housing,  suggesting that such “agreement” as a reason for not approving Measure A.     The reality is quite different.   There is absolutely no commitment or agreement by UCD to build such housing.     The information that has been published is a “preliminary” LRDP — it is not even in “draft” form yet.  Please see the following comments from the UCD planners in the Davis Enterprise article:

        Continuing to solicit community input, Griffith pointed out, “The draft LRDP is still more than six months away. This is a great time to get involved and submit feedback. Comments will be taken into consideration as we continue to refine the plan over the coming months

        Planners also want residents to know that the LRDP preliminary planning scenario precedes the environmental review process. An environmental impact report, as well as the draft LRDP, are expected in 2017.

        Once the draft plan and EIRs etc are completed,  then the plans are submitted for approvals thru appropriate channels,  and ultimately by the Board of Regents.       Significant changes to the preliminary plan are entirely possible.    And it is entirely possible that the Board of Regents will not approve the plan and  some or all of the funding necessary for the construction.

        So, there is no commitment from UCD or the Regents — there isn’t even a draft plan yet.  And even if the preliminary LRDP  is ultimately approved as currently contemplated, it doesn’t house all the students planned for enrollment, meaning that  the current housing crisis only gets worse.        In sum,  the best that you can hope for at this point is that the future housing situation is not as bad as it could have or would have been.  You currently have no hope from the UCD preliminary plan  that the current housing situation is in anyway alleviated or improved.

         

        1. Ron

          Adam:  “You currently have no hope from the UCD preliminary plan that the current housing situation is in anyway alleviated or improved.”

          First, let’s acknowledge that the University has had a drastic change in plans, and are now proposing to house 90% of the increased enrollment.  I realize that some Nishi development supporters have a lot of difficulty acknowledging this, especially coming out right before the election.  It must be disappointing, for some.  Especially since the refrain that “the students are coming, with no place to live” has been screamed so loudly and repeatedly (as a primary justification for the Nishi development), by some.

          Really?  No hope for improvement?  And you state this while simultaneously acknowledging that the LRDP is not finalized?  There’s plenty of time and opportunity to encourage the University to provide even more housing, in addition to what’s already proposed.  And, I understand that there’s an effort by some (e.g., Eileen) to continue these efforts.  Without such efforts, it’s likely that the University would not have changed their plans in the first place.

          Have you done anything to encourage the University to provide more housing?  I suspect that those who are hoping to “downplay” the University’s drastic change of plans are (often) the same individuals who have done nothing to encourage the University to provide more housing in the first place.  Given your statement that there’s “no hope” to encourage the University to do even more, I suspect that you’re one of these individuals.

        2. Adam Smith

          Ron

          Have you done anything to encourage the University to provide more housing?  I suspect that those who are hoping to “downplay” the University’s drastic change of plans are (often) the same individuals who have done nothing to encourage the University to provide more housing in the first place.  Given your statement that there’s “no hope” to encourage the University to do even more, I suspect that you’re one of these individuals.

          I’m agnostic about where housing gets added.  I have no financial interests in any multifamily situation in Davis or the surrounding area.     I see no substantive difference between the University adding student housing vs the City adding housing.

          However, I believe multifamily housing needs to be added in a significant way, and I believe we need additional innovation park type space in Davis.     I think Nishi is a great way to get started.

          Despite your proclamations to the contrary, the University has not made a recent drastic change.    The recently announced plans are the result of more than a year of discussion (based on Robb Davis statements), and are consistent with the years old MOU between Davis and UCD in which UCD committed to house 40% (I think) of its enrollment on campus.  If they build everything included in preliminary LRDP, they’ll be at 39% of the planned enrollment in 2027.     That means, all else remaining the same, the current housing crisis will be exacerbated as time passes, not relieved.       Voting Yes on A will help to alleviate the current and future crisis by adding 1500 beds.

           

        3. Ron

          Adam:

          Until quite recently, the University (and many Nishi supporters) repeatedly stated that the University could not accommodate most of the increased enrollment.  Suddenly, the University announced that they could accommodate 90%.  I can’t help but think that this was at least partly due to the organized, significant effort by Eileen (and) others to encourage the University to change its position.  (Despite the “naysayers” who resisted it.)

          If this isn’t a “drastic change”, I can’t imagine what would meet your definition.

          I’m sorry that you’re “agnostic”, regarding where housing is located.  (Decisions regarding the location of housing and other development is at the heart of sound planning decisions.)

          I think you’re also failing to note that any housing at Nishi could not be occupied for years, until “occupancy” requirements are met.  (Unless the developer finds some loophole to bypass the requirements – e.g., after construction, but prior to occupancy).  I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the University housing developments are built and occupied prior to any housing occupancy at Nishi, if Nishi is approved.

           

           

          1. Don Shor

            But what the university has said they will do has no impact on the current shortage of housing. It is a promise to house most (not all) of the increased enrollment they are planning.
            So if they actually do that, we’d be only slightly worse off than we are now. Which leaves us with a very low apartment vacancy rate, mini-dorms happening all over town, and students and staff having to commute in from nearby communities because of a lack of housing here.
            Bottom line: they haven’t solved the current problem, just promised they’ll only exacerbate it somewhat going forward.

        4. Ron

          Don:

          As I noted above, there’s an opportunity to encourage the University to do even more, before their plan is finalized.  I seem to recall that you’re one of the individuals who (previously) repeatedly suggested that it impossible to influence the University.  (This has already proven to be wrong.) Please correct me, if I’m misunderstanding your previous position.

          Regarding other development pressures, several other development projects are already under construction, or in various stages of planning or consideration.

          There will always be demand for (more) housing in Davis, regardless of the amount built.  And, that demand will always be used as a justification to add more large developments.

          I’d suggest that we adhere to SACOG growth requirements/guidelines (which we’re already meeting). These guidelines already ensure that Davis will add its “fair share” of new housing developments.

          1. Don Shor

            I’d suggest, once again, that you learn more about SACOG, what it does, and why it is essentially meaningless.
            We are THOUSANDS of beds short right now. The university has promised that we will only be somewhat more thousands of beds short going forward. They have not suggested, or even remotely hinted, that they will be taking care of the backlog. And there is nothing in all the numbers of their LRDP that suggests they have any way to do that.
            You are vastly overstating what the university has promised, and falsely suggesting that it solves our current problem. It doesn’t. They won’t. They can’t.
            It will be great if they adhere to the general principle that they have agreed upon with our city leaders. We have good reasons to be skeptical that they will do that, for financial as well as historical reasons. But the promise is certainly a good start. However, it doesn’t solve our current problem, and they’re not promising to backfill the demand they previously created.

        5. Adam Smith

          Ron

          Until quite recently, the University (and many Nishi supporters) repeatedly stated that the University could not accommodate most of the increased enrollment.  Suddenly, the University announced that they could accommodate 90%.  I can’t help but think that this was at least partly due to the organized, significant effort by Eileen (and) others to encourage the University to change its position.  (Despite the “naysayers” who resisted it.)

          When and where did the University state that it could not accommodate the increased enrollment?   Can you provide at least one official statement to that effect?   What Nishi supporters and/or  other naysayers may have said have no relevance  that I can determine.

          I believe what Robb Davis has written about this process — a more than year long   very cooperative working arrangement in which Robb and city staff met with University staff  and discussed the housing crisis and possible solutions.   A preliminary LRDP emerged.   I imagine that years ago a similar process  happened when the University entered into a MOU stating that they would house 40% of students on campus.

          A look back at what has happened with apartments in the last 15 years might be helpful.    I believe the last apartment complex to be built on non-UCD land was around the  turn of the century.    More recently, West Village was added.   Otherwise, nada.   I think it is more than fair to conclude that neither the City nor the University have done anywhere near their “fair share” in providing housing for the students that choose to enroll at UCD.   Shame on both entities.

           

           

           

        6. Ron

           When and where did the University state that it could not accommodate the increased enrollment?   Can you provide at least one official statement to that effect?   What Nishi supporters and/or  other naysayers may have said have no relevance  that I can determine.

          It was repeatedly stated by David Greenwald (and others) on the Vanguard (apparently based on earlier statements from the University).  If you are denying this, you either lack credibility, or you haven’t been reading the Vanguard.

          The argument that the “students are coming, and the University won’t house the increased enrollment” has also been repeated (ad nauseum).  It’s been the foundation/central argument of Nishi supporters (e.g., on the Vanguard).

          Seems like you’re in denial, regarding these arguments.

          Regarding the city’s “fair share” of housing developments, please see my other comment regarding SACOG guidelines. (We’re meeting those guidelines, already.)

           

          1. Don Shor

            What I have said in the past, paraphrasing, is that the university will not solve the current housing problem. I also believed their enrollment increase would make it much, much worse. What they have said they will do is house most of the increased enrollment. Not all of it, most of it. So instead of making things much worse, they will make things somewhat worse. And the current situation is not addressed.
            We need private rental housing. We need the university to fulfill its housing obligation from the past, and what they are creating going forward. With a combination of private and public rental housing, we might see the vacancy rate get back up to 2 – 3% in the near term — and possibly someday even up to 5%. Some day. But unlikely, because the reality is that the pace of their construction is not firm, and they don’t have oodles of cash available for capital improvements for housing.
            Failing to build private rental housing will preclude that 5% from ever happening. If the university meets the housing commitment they’ve more-or-less made, and nothing is built locally in town, we will be almost exactly where we are right now. Actually, a little worse. Hard to say what’s worse than 0.2% vacancy rate. I guess zero.
            So you really need to stop suggesting that the university has somehow solved the housing problem.

        7. Adam Smith

          Ron

          It was repeatedly stated by David Greenwald (and others) on the Vanguard (apparently based on earlier statements from the University).  If you are denying this, you either lack credibility, or you haven’t been reading the Vanguard

          Calling my credibility into question,  are you?

          First, I  am not denying that some people made statements about the University and housing.  Those statements mean nothing to me.  I am unaware of the University stating it.    I have never seen a comment attributed to the University to such effect.    Apparently, neither have you.

          So for me, I’m sticking with facts, not hearsay.   The facts are:

          1.Years ago the University committed to house 40% of its students on campus.  It has not done so.

          2.  The City has not allowed an apartment complex to be built in about 15 years.

          3.  There is a significant housing crisis to be dealt with in Davis.

          These facts lead me to the conclusion that nothing has really changed and  we need Nishi plus other housing.   Even if the University builds their wish list, we still need significantly more housing.  Probably 10,000 total  beds in total over the next 10 – 15 years.  Hopefully, the university will contribute a big part of what needs to be added.

          On the other hand,  I understand your position to be the following:

          1.  The University has suddenly made a huge  policy change  because of the enormous pressure that Eileen Samitz and others have recently applied.

          2.  In response, UCD   produced a preliminary LRDP  which shows  adding 6.200 beds,  a number that is  inadequate to ease the housing crisis as we now know it.

          3.  This plan, which is subject to revisions (wonder how many letters those Stonegate  and open space folks are already writing)  and the influence of EIRs , would ultimately require approval and funding from the Board of Regents ( In January,  Janet Napolitano suggested that all of the UC system would like to add 14,000 beds to its on-campus housing.   You believe that UC Davis will receive  at least 44% of the UC system expansion of beds,   perhaps more if Eileen writes a few more letters, despite having only    13% of the system wide enrollment.)

          The  foregoing leads you to conclude that we shouldn’t approve Nishi  because the University will solve the housing crisis  by itself.

          And you accuse me of lacking credibility and being in denial?

           

           

        8. Yes on A Fan

          What the UCD press release admits is that it has only provided for 29% and has a goal to catch up to make it 40%. That leave 60% of students without on campus housing and the staff and faculty also need housing in addition to that. 60% of 39,000 is 23,400 kids looking for housing each year in town and increasingly piling in to houses in neighborhoods like Oeste. This was the testimony at the last City Council hearing from those that are impacted by this severe imbalanace of supply and demand; namely the students and the neighborhoods. Students should not have to compete with other students for housing any more than they should compete with families looking for a house to rent or buy in the Oeste neighborhood.  This all leads to unaffordable housing as well- the rallying cry of the No on A lawnsigns- shameful hypocracy.

        9. South of Davis

          Adam Smith wrote:

          > So for me, I’m sticking with facts, not hearsay.  

          > The facts are: The City has not allowed an

          > apartment complex to be built in about 15 years.

          You might want to check your “facts”

          Adobe at Evergreen 120U 15 yrs ago

          Allegre Apartments 153U 15 yrs ago

          Carlton 103U 3 years ago

          Parkview Place 4U 2 yrs ago

          Tremont Green 36U 12 yrs ago

          DaVinci Apartments 51U 11 yrs ago

          Cesar Chavez Plaza 53U  7 yrs ago

          Eleanor Roosevelt Circle 9 yrs ago

          The Lexington Apartments 122U 13 yrs ago

          McCormick Building 13U 13 yrs ago

          New Harmony 69U 3 years ago

          Oakshade Apartments 42U 15 yrs ago

          The U/University Village 132U 13 yrs ago

          Under Construction:

          Del Rio Lofts 16U

          Symphony built 16 years ago as 112U(but sat more than half empty for years) soon to be soon to be 56 U after renovation.

          Planned:

          Lincoln 40 120-140U

           

        10. Ron

          Adam:  “And you accuse me of lacking credibility and being in denial?”

          Yes, I do.  But, you’re not the only one.

          Suggest that you review my previous statements, if you’d like.  I stand by everything I’ve said regarding this topic. Also, review the MANY recent articles written by David Greenwald, and the recent article in the Davis Enterprise regarding the University’s change in position. (Unless you think that these sources misrepresented the University’s statements.)

          There comes a point where it’s not worth arguing with those who deny the truth. I call it “desperation time”.

           

           

           

           

        11. Adam Smith

          Thanks SOD  – I stand corrected.  The city has allowed approximately 580 units in the last 15 years and  125 in the last 5 years (not counting the Lincoln apts planned).  During the last 15 years, the enrollment at the University increased by approximately 10,000.

          I stand by my previous conclusion – this community needs more apartments, and lots of them in the next 10 – 15 years.   Lets hope that UC Davis provides a reasonable amount of them.    But in my view, it would be unwise to vote  NO on Nishi because the UCD put out a preliminary LRDP suggesting it would develop 6200 beds.

          1. Don Shor

            Posting this again. At some point I’ll fill in the blanks.
            UCD enrollment 1997: 24,299

            UCD enrollment 2012: 32,354

            UCD enrollment 2016: _______

            UCD planned enrollment 2020: ______

            Total beds added on campus 1997 – 2016: ______

        12. Ron

          Adam:

          Thanks for acknowledging your error, regarding the number of apartments recently built.  (I didn’t check your calculations, but I’ll assume that you’re now correct.)  And, thanks to SOD, for pointing it out.

          I wouldn’t necessarily challenge the credibility of someone stating that he/she believes that many more housing developments should be approved, regardless of the (revised) plan from the University (to house 90% of new enrollments).  (However, it should also be acknowledged that there is an opportunity to encourage the University to do even more.)

          Of course, I would still disagree that we should greatly exceed our SACOG growth requirements/guidelines, which already ensures that we accommodate our “fair share” of residential development.

          In any case, you took one statement from me today, regarding the University’s revised plans (to house 90% of new enrollments) and “blew it up”, by arguing and denying the significance of this.  (That’s what led me to question your credibility.)  I find it really unfortunate when others take such an approach, regardless of the issue (or which side you’re on).

  2. aaahirsch8

    Did anyone note that it more dangerous for kids to live in Rural and suburban areas than in a urbanized city, despite of dirtier air plus crime, etc:  The risk of dying in a traffic accident out weights that of all those other risk factors.

    What is the risk of forcing student to commute to UCD vs risk of air quality for those in that will live in these buildings… Maybe Susan missed the hearing before council when this was discussed.

    Oh, is anyone working to close down Solano Park grad housing with the identical air quality conditions, and we all wanted to save the un-air conditioned/unfiltered HVAC system of the “the domes” that are located right near freeway?

    And is their a move afoot to close down Willet Elementary School..and park…..which backs up to a freeway?

    Sorry, I don’t believe the epidemiology risk out weight benefits of Nishi without which our neighborhoods will be destroyed by conversion of homes to minidorm.

    All risk is relative.

    Red Herring alert.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    1. Ron

      aaahirch8:  What is the risk of forcing student to commute to UCD vs risk of air quality for those in that will live in these buildings… Maybe Susan missed the hearing before council when this was discussed.

      And – maybe you missed the more recent announcement that the University is now planning to house 90% of the increased enrollment? And, that there’s no way to determine where possible residents of Nishi (which could include non-students moving to Davis from other areas) might otherwise live or work (if Nishi is not approved), or the modes of transportation that they might use.

      1. Yes on A Fan

        Perhaps you missed the fact that this will only cover 40% of students on campus- leaving 60% looking for housing in town= 23,000 kids plus the staff and faculty.  Housing 90% of the increase brings them up to 40% overall. Don has this right-woefully inadequate- and punitive for those who want to live and work here that are not affiliated with campus.

      2. Yes on A Fan

        The announcement states that this will only house 40% of total students leaving 60% scrambling each year; over 20,000 students, not to mention faculty and staff and as Don has pointed out this does not take into account others unaffiliated with the campus that would like to live here. They must also suffer the consequences of rising rents and zero vacancy.

  3. Yes on A Fan

    I sounds like neither Alan nor Tom Cahill want to live there. That is their prerogative.  However, if they live in Davis they live with risk of either highway 113 or interstate 80- the address for the treasurer for No on A is a neighborhood along the I-80 corridor.  Dr. Cahill’s ultimate plan may be to displace $45 million people in the US who live near a highway-their primary mode of transit.  Moving them further from transit, longer commutes,  is what is melting the glaciers.  This would include Aggie Village, Solano Park, Lexington, New Harmony.  The solution is reducing car trips, traffic, and pollution by locating residences near jobs and mixed use development in the core.  There are plenty of mitigations available and all are being implemented at Nishi.

  4. ryankelly

    We are so screwed.  This report actually encourages sprawl and goes against every attempt to develop in a compact, denser manner, close to transportation hubs.  The healthier way to develop would be as far away from freeways, train depot and bus stations, high traffic secondary roads and nary a stoplight or stop sign.  The more suburban the better.  Right now, per this report, the healthiest place in town to live is far north Davis and far West Davis…or South Woodland.  Covell Village is looking pretty good.

    Forget the highly polluted neighborhoods nearer downtown with its combination of being near the freeway, next to railroad tracks, and highly traveled streets with lots of cars braking for stop signs and lights.  Forget incorporating  residential into the downtown areas.  Too highly polluted.

    Look, I don’t reject that risks are there.  I don’t reject the idea that cars and trains are sources of pollution.  I do feel that mitigation can be done to reduce the risks – mitigation that would benefit the entire community.  Maybe Cahill is professionally not comfortable with his own suggestions to place the residential housing on the north side of the property, plant a dense urban forest, build infrastructure to encourage biking and walking, install air-filtration systems, but he needs to be certain that the risks are at crisis level before he counters all efforts to build cities in a more sustainable manner.  His testing site was east of Olive Drive, near car repair and machine shop businesses, close to Richards Blvd. off ramps and yards from the railroad tracks.  We owe it to the existing residents along Olive Drive to take action to improve Richards Blvd – move the off ramp further away from apartments, improve the flow of traffic, allow alternate paths for cars to alleviate the gridlock and idling there.

    Nishi has risks, but if you are concerned about the risks Cahill states, then don’t buy or rent near downtown or near the railroad tracks or the freeway.  You likely are exposing yourself to the same pollutants that exist at Nishi.

    1. Roberta Millstein

      ryankelly: The testing was not “east of Olive Drive”.  You misread what I wrote on the other posting and didn’t bother to look at the FEIR map as I had suggested.  The testing was just east of the Nishi property on Olive Drive.  If you look at a map you will see where Olive Drive curves to the south, and it is directly adjacent to Nishi.  Again, Dr. Cahill called for more and better testing.  If you have one test that is suggestive, do you forge ahead because your information isn’t definitive?  Or do you get more data?  We should have gotten more data, but instead, the City Council put this on the ballot.

      1. ryankelly

        Yes, I know where he tested.  This is right near auto repair shops and machine shops – the light industry area of Olive Drive.  This is where the freeway and the railroad tracks are very close together.  He tests there and then condemns the whole site.

        1. South of Davis

          Ryan wrote:

          > This is right near auto repair shops and machine shops

          It is also near Aggie Smog where my 22 year old car failed my smog test this year (and other old cars fail every day).  After $645 worth of repairs my car passed and I’m set for 2 more years.  I wonder if Dr. Cahill was the guy standing behind my car the day I failed with his air quality sensor.  I don’t have a PhD. but if I was going to test the air quality at a site I would go to the middle of the site not the end of a street “near” the site in between a smog check place mechanics and a lawn mower repair place where I take my lawn mower and chain saw that has a lot of (real dirty) two stroke engines running all day.

          http://www.yelp.com/biz/aggie-smog-davis

          P.S. Unless we get a letter from other people who check air quality that say testing off the site in an industrial area with MANY business that pollute more than normal is the BEST way to test the air it seems like we should just ignore the entire report.

        2. Roberta Millstein

          ryankelly, you said, “This is where the freeway and the railroad tracks are very close together. ”  East, man, east, not west (northeast would be even more accurate).  At this point the freeway and railroad tracks are farther apart than the rest of Nishi, not closer.  But glad to see you acknowledge that proximity matters for the concentration of air pollutants.

          You also said: “He tests there and then condemns the whole site.”  This is not an accurate depiction of the course of events.  This is a more accurate sequence of events:

          1. Dr. Cahill reviews the literature (including his own research) together with what he knows about the Nishi site and what Dr. Barnes measured nearby.

          2. He called for more testing before building residential housing there.

          3. The City Council decided to put this on the ballot without doing more testing.

          4. Dr. Cahill said that he could not support the project because of the residential housing.

    2. Odin

      I’m concerned about those new lanes they are proposing as the new offramp off I-80.  There are several mature trees and bushes they will have to cut down to accommodate them.  Richards/Olive will not only be more exposed, making In and Out more visible from the highway (possibly attracting even more traveling customers), but it also takes away yet another carbon/particulate matter collector (for lack of a better name) between those of us living in the vicinity and I-80.

       

      Fancy drawings aside, it’s easy to envision that the intersection will become a greater blight than it already is.  Vegetation is not only aesthetically pleasing, but it creates both a pollution and noise barrier between us and the highway.  In other words, I would prefer the off-ramps stay as they are.

  5. Alan Pryor

    …if you are concerned about the risks Cahill states, then don’t buy or rent near downtown or near the railroad tracks or the freeway.  You likely are exposing yourself to the same pollutants that exist at Nishi.

    There is something called a dose:response relationship in toxicology. Generally, the more of a toxin to which one is exposed, the stronger is the toxic response. At Nishi, it is the high concentration of the pollutants at the site due to its location that is the problem. Your blanket statement could otherwise just as easily be applied to water => drinking too much water can harm or kill you; so don’t drink water.

    1. ryankelly

      But he doesn’t know the dose.  He’s guessing, based on a test near Olive Drive, which detected the pollutants, and his testing in the highly polluted city of Bakersfield.  He could make the same guess for all neighborhoods that run along the railroad tracks and the freeways and neighborhoods with busy streets with lots of cars breaking.   His expertise is on air quality assessment.  He is obligated to state the risks as he sees it, but to base all city planning around his opinion opens up other problems with encouraging sprawl and encroachment on agricultural areas away from the factors that he has determined as problematic.

      1. Odin

        I live on Olive.  I also used to assist in conducting air quality studies (NPS).

        We smell the diesel from the idling trains where I live.  It doesn’t take a scientist to tell us how bad the air quality is, but it’s something we accept because Olive is one of the few places low income folks like myself can afford.  Adding Lincoln 40 to the mix along with a new hotel complex and Nishi can not in any way make what is already a bad situation better.  You’re kidding yourself if you don’t think Nishi would exacerbate the problem.

        1. South of Davis

          Odin wrote:

          > It doesn’t take a scientist to tell us how bad the air quality is, but it’s

          > something we accept because Olive is one of the few places low income

          > folks like myself can afford. 

          You don’t need to kill yourself to save money, if you get on Craig’s List you will find cheaper places with cleaner air in Dixon, Woodland and West Sac…

    2. Don Shor

      Yes, the dose makes the poison. The corollary to that is that the solution to pollution is dilution. How quickly do the particles disperse at 8 mph average wind speed?

    1. hpierce

      Actually, they are, from an exposure standpoint… there is something called the ‘wind-rose’… feel free to Google that… most of the posters are so ignorant that it’s not worth my time to educate them (assuming they were even open to education… many appear not to be… the “my mind is made up, don’t confuse me with facts” crowd… actually, a growing crowd).

      So, if the prevailing winds are from the north, a property south of the two sources get the brunt of it… and vice versa… In Davis the prevailing winds are generally either from the south, or from the north… in the case of Nishi, it is very unlikely that the pollutants (whatever they or may not be) from both the north and the south of the site would be affecting the site at any given time… duh!

      For the sake of argument, let’s assume the winds are from the north 1/3 of the time, from the south 1/3 of the time, and either no wind or a different direction 1/3 of the time.  Let’s also assume that the effect of the pollutants from the RR and the freeway are equal (just as an illustration)[so, 1/6 at any given time each, in either direction].  So, New Harmony, when the wind comes from the north, gets 1/6 of the pollutants from each sort, so, 1/3 total.  Mace Ranch/Core area gets the same when the wind is coming from the south.  Nishi would get the contribution from I-80 when the wind is coming from the south, but not from the RR… Nishi would get the contribution from the RR when the wind is coming from the north, but not from I-80.  [still 1/6 + 1/6 =1/3 simple math]

      I’ve tried to simplify this for the simpletons, but Nishi would be no better nor worse than the Core/Old East, nor New Harmony… the topography is so flat, the distances too small, to justify the contention that Nishi is an “air pollution sink”.

      Support or oppose Nishi, whatever… I have a preference (yes or no, not saying at this point) but saying air quality is a reason?  I call BS… not supported by science nor reason unless you believe that Olive Drive, downtown, Old East, New Harmony, etc. are also equally unacceptable and need to be mitigated by the sources… UPRR and CalTrans.

      Ultimately, although I’ll vote [actually I have voted] a certain way, I’ll not lose any sleep as regards air quality/public health no matter which way the vote goes… there are many reasons to support or oppose Nishi… but in my opinion, only a fool would use air pollution exposure as a deciding factor.  It’s just not “real”, compared to existing exposure to existing residential development.

  6. Mike Hart

    I just finished a meeting at the new Facebook HQ which is wedged between a railroad track and a highway, with about 50′ setback from each.  The new 430,000 square foot facility is an absolute ecological blueprint for how to do a sustainable facility.  I toured the facility to look for design concepts for the new innovation park we hope to build on the Nishi site.

    I understand that there are some (very overhyped) concerns about the impact of local emissions, but the same arguments would apply to so many other residences throughout Davis. Rather than debate their merits I would simply suggest that folks who share those fears should live elsewhere.

    http://www.wired.com/2015/03/facebook-moves-new-garden-roofed-fantasyland/

    1. Alan Pryor

      the new Facebook HQ which is wedged between a railroad track and a highway, with about 50′ setback from each

      Mr. Hart fails to mention that Cahill has only advocated for no residential at Nishi. Facebook  HQ is clearly commercial for which Cahill has no problems locating st Nishi.  Let’s keep the arguments comparable

      1. South of Davis

        Alan wrote:

        > Mr. Hart fails to mention that Cahill has only advocated for no residential

        I would be interested in Cahill could explain why there is a difference between business use or residential use (do people breathe more at home)?  Will people be safe if they run a business out of their apartment).  If you are talking to him I would also be interested why he chose the a spot on Olive with probably the worst air quality in Davis to “test” the air quality of a site nearby (was he looking for a site that has mechanics working on engines all day)?

    2. Odin

      Your suggestion that those of us who disagree with Nishi should live somewhere else can easily be contradicted by the no crowd.  If you don’t like living in a town that promotes smart growth that doesn’t create a traffic nightmare and offers affordable housing available to all students, maybe you should be the one who moves.  I’m sure all the towns who sold their souls to developers and commercial developers would welcome you with open arms.  Elk Grove has lots of vacancies so I suggest you move there.

      1. Frankly

        You are missing the point that nobody is pushing growth for the sake of growth.  There is a real need for growth primarily due to UCD growth.  You live in a college town.  Deal with it.

         

  7. South of Davis

    The title was “Air Quality at Nishi Is Unsuitable for Residential Purposes”

    I still have not received a good answer why it is Unsuitable for “Residential” Purposes when “most” students spend less time at their residence than most full time professionals spend at work (most professionals get two “weeks” a year off while most students leave Davis for “months” every year adding up weekends out of town winter break spring break and summer).

    P.S. Has anyone ever seen even a single child or pregnant woman that lives in the West Village?  I asked some kids I know that have lived there for the past two school years and neither of them has seen a single child or pregnant lady in the neighborhood around the Ramble and Viridian apartments.  I would guess that most people living in the Nishi apartments would also go years without seeing a child or pregnant woman in the neighborhood…

    1. Alan Pryor

      a good answer why it is Unsuitable for “Residential” Purposes

      Nishi is advertised as a place to live and play (which is what many kids do outside). Take a look at the Yes on Nishi flyers showing the happy families (kids including mothers) happily biking and walking outside. These groups are particularly susceptible to particulate pollution as are seniors.

      School-aged child residents will typically spend 18+ hours a day at Nishi – more on weekends when not in school. Retired seniors and mothers with pre-school children will spend even more time/day at Nishi. But let’s round it off to an average of 18 hours per day per person while living at Nishi. People working at a facility  will typically spend 8 – 10 hours per day at work and little time on the weekend – so let’s say an average of 8 hours per day. The last time I checked, 18 hours/day (residents) is quite a bit more than 8 hours per day (workers) and kids especially will want to spend more of that time outside.

      Has anyone ever seen even a single child or pregnant woman that lives in the West Village

      The University prohibits non-students from living at West Villages. Nishi, as a privately-owned property, cannot similarly impose such restrictions.

      1. South of Davis

        Alan wrote:

        > School-aged child residents will typically spend 18+ hours a day at Nishi

        If they are late for school and/or leave early every day.  (My kids start school at 8:30 and get out at 3:05.  On days without sports that means they leave a little after 8:00 and are home around 3:30 for ~16.5 hours at home).  If (big “if”) a family with kids rented an expensive apartment in Nishi I think the chance of having a “stay at home mom” are slim to none so not many kids will be riding home to Nishi after school at 3:30.

        > The University prohibits non-students from living at West Villages.

        Alan is correct that a 7 year old can not walk up and rent an apartment in the West Village, but students and faculty with kids are not prohibited from living there (neither are pregnant woman).

        With that said has anyone ever seen a child or pregnant lady at Sycamore Lane North of Campus or the Tanglewood Apartments South of the Richards overpass?

        I’m fine if Alan and others don’t want Nishi developed, but the “we need to protect the kids” line is getting a little old (since there probably won’t be any kids living there).

        1. Roberta Millstein

          I don’t know about West Village, but I can tell you that every quarter, several students in my classes will have one or more children.  I can’t imagine why my classes would be atypical.

  8. Yes on A Fan

    Odin, I am not clear if you feel it is dangerous to live where you live on Olive Drive; afterall it is no different than Nishi except it has zero mitigations for air quality.  Are you in danger?  But you seem to say it is OK to live in danger because its affordable….. and it would be OK to live at Nishi if it was subsidized section 8 housing like at New Harmony? Is that your position?

    1. Odin

      I’m stating that Nishi shouldn’t be built at all and yes, that we are in danger.   The air quality stinks and every time I hear the screeching sound of trains I am aware that the particulate matter from the brakes just makes it worse.  As someone put it, one of those trains idling while waiting for passengers is equivalent to having 14 semi trucks sitting there doing the same.  Most of us that live on Olive are aware of the trade-off, but folks like myself don’t have to worry as much since I’m about 6 years from retiring and may move elsewhere in town or out of it to get away from it (that is, if I can afford to do so).

  9. Yes on A Fan

    Odin, there are no trains idling at Nishi and the “prevailing wind phenomenon” would take that idling train particulate matter and splatter it all over old east davis and downtown.  I also agree that people living in this area less than 70 years  (that’s what they assume)  don’t have to worry as much.

    1. Odin

      I disagree.   Although we get delta breezes, it seems the prevailing wind is out of the north, if there is any at all, which occurs often.  Remember, I have many reasons why I disagree with Nishi, but the top of MY list is Richards/Olive.  Their plan just won’t work, despite what the consultants say.

        1. Roberta Millstein

          Prevailing from the north and the south.  So damned if you do (from the train tracks) or damned if you don’t (from the freeway).

        2. Roberta Millstein

          Which we don’t know will be sufficient.  Which Dr. Cahill (who is an expert, whereas you and I are not) does not think will be sufficient.

  10. Yes on A Fan

    I agree 100% with you on the ludicrous “prevailing wind phenomenon”. That is directly from the Tom Cahill No on A playbook- I guess you missed that ploy from his hypothesis.  Now, what is your plan for fixing Richards Blvd. and the funding source?

  11. Eileen Samitz

    Yes on A Fan,

    I am glad you have brought up the “fixing” of Richards funding issue. So where is it coming from? Plus, the Richards “improvements” will NOT improve traffic on the Richards Boulevard per the Nishi Gateway draft EIR. In fact, the project even with the Richards interchange proposal will make the traffic and congestion worse due to the massive amount of additional traffic Nishi Gateway would bring, would cost AT LEAST $10 million dollars.

    The developers say that they will contribute $3 million if the rest of the money is secured from somewhere else, and IF the project was approved by Cal Trans to be allowed to be built.  But the City does not have the rest of the funding needed of at least $7 million dollars for this Richards interchange project proposed by the Nishi Gateway developers. So where is the $7 million supposed to come from, particularly since the City does not even have the funding to repair our existing streets needing repairs?  Again, the traffic WOULD NOT improve on Richards, even if the entire $10 million was acquired somehow and spent on this project, and it would not fix the Richards problem.

    1. ryankelly

      But it WILL improve access and safety for pedestrians and bike riders.  It will allow for smoother and controlled merging at the I-80 off ramp and actually move the off ramp further away from apartments on Olive Drive and control traffic so that pedestrians can cross safely toward South Davis.  It will allow bikes and pedestrians separation and safety from cars merging onto I-80 West.    It will allow cars entering Davis to turn left and avoid the downtown altogether.  It will give cars an additional way to get to I-80 without having to go down first street.  It WILL be an improvement.

      1. South of Davis

        Ryan wrote:

        > It WILL be an improvement.

        To most people, but for the people that want Davis to “stay exactly the same” any change makes them sad (many are still getting over Davis High moving from Russell)…

      2. Odin

        BTW, hardly anyone uses the bike path over Richards.  Most enjoy using the tunnel near Research and Chiles instead.  There are no cars, no merging, and it’s a more peaceful and attractive way to travel to UCD than Richards, so this bs about “fixing” a problem that doesn’t exist is just another selling point to a town that promotes bicycling. Just more baloney from the Yes camp.

        1. ryankelly

          This argument was used to oppose the restripping on 5th Street.  Bikes were supposed to use 3rd Street, instead of 5th.  So if you want to go to Del Taco for a snack, you would like to ride to the end of Olive Drive, around through the bike tunnel and then around to Drew and then back to Del Taco?  Odin, you will benefit from the improvements to Richards Blvd.  Nishi will be a nice asset to those living on Olive Drive – a park accessed by bike or walking, without having to go to South Davis or through downtown.

           

      3. HouseFlipper

        OMG-  ryankelly, “it will allow cars to turn left.” – cars waiting to turn left to get to campus through Nishi will back cars up onto the freeway. look what happens now with Dutch brothers – this will be so much worse.

        1. CalAg

          Nobody listens on this… you are correct, I’ve pointed it out several times… people areidiots  not willing to think… @hpierce

          This informed opinion deserves repeating.

    2. Michael Harrington

      Not one of these Yes on A bloggers have identified themselves and on the record stated that they would have THEIR kids live on Nishi.

      Hey members of COOL Davis who fought the oil trains issue?  Those tank cars are going to be mere yards from these thousands of young residents.   The cars are going past every day, right now.  Lots of extreme flammables that would blow those close by apt buildings to pieces when the kids are asleep.  (The RR runs most of their heavy cargos at night, when Amtrack is halted.)

      1. South of Davis

         

        Mike wrote:

        > Not one of these Yes on A bloggers have identified

        > themselves and on the record stated that they would

        > have THEIR kids live on Nishi.

        I would rather live in a nice new LEED apartment at the Nishi site with my kids than live in an old (pre WWI) home that most likely has asbestos, lead based paint, lead based solder and iron pipes looking at a railroad across the “Hazardous Waste” site (see link below) that used to be the G Street Texaco…

        http://city-council.cityofdavis.org/Media/Default/Documents/PDF/CityCouncil/CouncilMeetings/Agendas/20050712/Packet/04H-Hazardous-Waste-Sites.pdf

      2. Don Shor

        My house is less than 1000 feet from the freeway. In order to mitigate the noise and exhaust, I planted trees to screen it. I would not hesitate to have my kids live at Nishi.

        1. Grant Acosta

          “I would not hesitate to have my kids live at Nishi.”

          Some things are easier to say when there is no reality to back it up…

           

          1. Don Shor

            I was asked a hypothetical by Mike Harrington, so I replied. My kids grew up less than 1000 feet from I-80. That’s a reality.

      3. hpierce

        But you’re “real cool” about all the current chemicals, flammables, etc. going thru that corridor every day NOW, right?  Looks like you’re getting desperate in your spaghetti throwing…

        Or, are you truly so ignorant about the loads on the trains that go thru Davis pretty much every day?

        Oh, and folk on Olive and Old East are as close or closer than Nishi… another inconvenient fact… but facts are not important when throwing spaghetti…

    3. Yes on A Fan

      Eileen, Richards Blvd is an embarrassment. Having bikes compete with cars coming on and off the freeway with no controls in place is a disaster. No wonder it has the most accidents in town. Sacrificing safety by providing a completely separate bike path and safety improvements for pedestrians in exchange for cars waiting a bit longer at a controlled intersection sounds like a respectable trade-off.  As you know sustainability (the environment) is all about reducing vehicles miles travelled (VMT) not levels of service (LOS).  Your comments are focused on LOS- grandpa’s travel model.  So your solution is to throw away $3 million dollars and fill the gap with more taxpayer money?

      1. HouseFlipper

        Actually accepting the $3 million will make it much worse because it will greatly increase the number of cars on Richards, and even worse turning across the bycicle traffic to get to or from the new development – or even cutting through the new development.

        Yes Richards has problems the city needs to fix. no adding in over 1,500 new residents adjacent to it will not make it better.

         

      2. hpierce

        Sorry.. two points… there are very seldom “accidents”… “crashes” is the appropriate term, and usually those are made up of “stupids” or “criminally negligent acts”.

        I sincerely (and seriously) doubt the statement,

        No wonder it has the most accidents in town.

        Do you have cites?  Evidence?  Please put up, or… consider retracting that posit.

    4. Matt Williams

      Eileen Samitz said . . . “But the City does not have the rest of the funding needed of at least $7 million dollars for this Richards interchange project proposed by the Nishi Gateway developers. So where is the $7 million supposed to come from, particularly since the City does not even have the funding to repair our existing streets needing repairs?”

      The point that Eileen makes is one that caused me to do some research over the past two weeks trying to uncover factual information rather than anecdotal opinion.  Here is what I found to be true.

      The fund containing the Development Roadway Impact Fees will have an unreserved fund balance of approximately $9,814,566 as of June 30, 2016.  The proposed FY 16/17 Budget includes roadway capital projects that are anticipate a reduction of that unreserved fund balance to $7,828,742 at the end of the Fiscal Year on June 30, 2017.

      In addition to those known balances, the Hotel/Convention Center (if it ever happens) is projected to contribute an incremental $2,000,000 to the unreserved fund balance.

      1. CalAg

        My take on the Matt Williams analysis is that the City doesn’t need Nishi to do the Richards interchange improvements.

        It’s ironic that it took an impending Measure R vote to get the City to put the orange barriers on Richards. A trivial upgrade that could have been done years ago.

  12. Tia Will

    Odin

    BTW, hardly anyone uses the bike path over Richards.  Most enjoy using the tunnel near Research and Chiles instead.”

    Speaking from only my own point of view, your assertion has the cause and effect backwards. I do not bike, but rather walk. I was very much looking forward to walking from my home on 2nd and J, possibly picking up a cup of coffee on route through downtown and then using the Richards underpass. So far so good, until I realized that this route was going to mean that I also had to safely navigate the essentially blind freeway off ramp. One or two misjudgments ( although no actual “close calls”) later, I was less enamored of this route. I can easily imagine that many more pedestrians and bicyclists would find this route attractive if it were safer.

    I realize that this does not address your issue of traffic backups, but I do believe that it will significantly improve my issue of safer.

    1. hpierce

      Sorry, Tia… having a disconnect… if you were a pedestrian, using the Richards bike/ped tube, I just can’t “see” how you could encounter “the essentially blind freeway off ramp“… to encounter a freeway off-ramp, as a pedestrian, you’d have had to be on a counter-intuitive (to say the least) side of Richards… 

      If you meant on-ramp, that’s not really “blind”…pretty good sight distance both for MV’s and bike-peds…

  13. Tia Will

    Michael

    Not one of these Yes on A bloggers have identified themselves and on the record stated that they would have THEIR kids live on Nishi.”

    Not true. I said the same several threads back. I believe that most people who read the Vanguard either know who I am or could easily look me up.

    Tia Will

  14. Ron

    Don Shor:  “I’d suggest, once again, that you learn more about SACOG, what it does, and why it is essentially meaningless.”

    As I previously mentioned, I’d look forward to an in-depth article posted on the Vanguard, regarding SACOG and its “fair share” growth/development guidelines.  If such an article is presented, I’d look forward to hearing more from you and others, regarding the reasons that these guidelines are “meaningless”.

    In the meantime, I’d suggest that it’s more than “meaningless” to create a different, more-aggressive “growth/development” goal.  (I’d suggest that it’s actually quite harmful, and will continue to create unnecessary divisiveness, among residents.)  I’d also point out that any “growth/development” goal that is strictly based on demand will never satisfy the “demand goal”, and that developers will continue to use this as an endless justification.

    Again, there are (already) several developments under construction, or under various stages of planning or consideration within Davis.

    1. Don Shor

      I’d suggest that it’s more than “meaningless” to create a different, more-aggressive “growth/development” goal.

      Please scroll back and see how many housing units have been added in the last 15 years as the enrollment at UCD has increased.
      If UC is trying to get to the point of providing 40% of the housing for their students, where do you suggest the other 60% live?

      1. Ron

        Don:

        I’m not sure if you are purposefully “clouding” the issue, as others have attempted.

        The University has agreed to house 90% of new enrollments.  I assume that you’re referring to students who already have a home, which skews the numbers that you’re presenting.

        There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you.  However, I’d first like to qualify it by noting that your responses have generally been respectful, and I have no reason to doubt that your viewpoints are honest.

        In any case, I seem to recall (from a previous Vanguard article) that you would function as some type of consultant (and/or perhaps a supplier?), regarding the “pollution-offsetting” plantings at Nishi (if it’s approved).  Is this true?  And, if so, would you please disclose the full nature of the agreement?  (And again, please know that I don’t have a pre-conceived notion regarding your answer. And, please forgive me if I’m recalling this incorrectly.)

        1. Don Shor

          I assume that you’re referring to students who already have a home, which skews the numbers that you’re presenting.

          I am referring to the existing situation where enrollment at UCD has increased by thousands of students with far fewer apartments added, either on campus or in town. The situation that has led to a 0.2% apartment vacancy rate and the development of mini-dorms, and thousands of students and staff commuting in to campus every day from nearby communities. That problem has not gone away and will not get better from the UC/city agreement. It will, in fact, continue to get worse.

          The developer asked if I would be willing to consult on the establishment of the urban forest and screening trees: selecting, planting specs, and followup care for the trees, and monitoring of their growth and progress. I said yes. There is no agreement. I would not expect to be a supplier for something like this.
          Additionally, as noted in the op-ed published in the Vanguard and the Enterprise:

          we are recommending to the city that they create a sub-committee to work with Mr. Shor and other experts to monitor and maintain vegetation levels in the urban forest and tree buffer. This committee would ensure a healthy buffer of foliage in the intervening four years while the developers complete the required infrastructure improvements around Olive/Richards before construction.”

          Any work I do for the city in that capacity would be at no charge, as with any other commission.

        2. Ron

          Don Shor:  “The developer asked if I would be willing to consult on the establishment of the urban forest and screening trees: selecting, planting specs, and followup care for the trees, and monitoring of their growth and progress. I said yes.”

          I’m confused.  When you said “yes”, does that constitute an agreement (or, an intent to create an agreement with the developer, if Nishi is approved)?

          Or, are you simply referring to the (non-compensated) city commission?

          1. Don Shor

            Ron:

            And, if so, would you please disclose the full nature of the agreement?

            Don:

            I said yes. There is no agreement.

            Ron:

            I’m confused. When you said “yes”, does that constitute an agreement (or, an intent to create an agreement with the developer, if Nishi is approved)?
            Or, are you simply referring to the (non-compensated) city commission?

            Yes, I am willing to consult with the developer. Yes, I am willing to serve the city on any commission or advise any subcommittee they establish. No, there is no verbal or written agreement with respect to either of those things I’ve said I’m willing to do, other than that I have said I’m willing to do them and am willing to say so publicly.

        3. Ron

          Don:

          Barring any further clarification from you, I understand that you are willing to serve as (both) of the following:

          1)  a compensated consultant for the developer (if Nishi is approved), and

          2) an uncompensated commission member, for the city.

          It’s difficult for me to believe that I’m (apparently) the first person to request clarification from you, regarding this. It seems like an important thing for Vanguard readers to know.

  15. Eileen Samitz

    Yes on A Fan,

    Regarding your comment:

    Eileen, Richards Blvd is an embarrassment. Having bikes compete with cars coming on and off the freeway with no controls in place is a disaster. No wonder it has the most accidents in town. Sacrificing safety by providing a completely separate bike path and safety improvements for pedestrians in exchange for cars waiting a bit longer at a controlled intersection sounds like a respectable trade-off.  As you know sustainability (the environment) is all about reducing vehicles miles travelled (VMT) not levels of service (LOS).  Your comments are focused on LOS- grandpa’s travel model.  So your solution is to throw away $3 million dollars and fill the gap with more taxpayer money?

    Richards has plenty of traffic and congestion now, and it will only get worse per the Nishi draft EIR if Nishi Gateway is built, and that is even if the Richards interchange “improvements” were made.

    My question still is, and which you have not answered, is where is the additional $7 million dollars needed coming from for this proposal by the Nishi Gateway developers to modify the Richards interchange, which would make the Richards corridor traffic and congestion even worse according to the Nishi Gateway draft EIR?

    1. David Greenwald

      Eileen: Correct me if I’m wrong, but reading the draft EIR, what they are saying is not that things will get worse even if the improvements are made – on the contrary – they state: “Because the approval of interchange improvements by Caltrans cannot be assured, the impact would remain significant and unavoidable.” On a number of the improvements such as the Davis underpass they argue that the impacts would be reduced to “less than significant” except for the fact that the changes cannot be assured (except that they basically are per the baseline features commitments) and that is the only reason the EIR considers the impacts “significant and unavoidable.” (For instance: “While this mitigation measure would reduce the impact to a less-than-significant level, implementation requires future approval by the UC Davis. Since neither the project applicant nor the City of Davis can guarantee approval by UC Davis, this remains significant and unavoidable.”) If I’m wrong here, please correct me by citing the specific analysis from the Draft EIR.

    2. CalAg

      Eileen is correct. Traffic will get worse if the Nishi project is built – even with the connection to UCD.

      Here is a link to the Traffic Element of the DEIR:

      http://documents.cityofdavis.org/Media/Default/Documents/PDF/CDD/ED/projects/Innovation-Centers/Nishi/Draft-EIR/4.14-Traffic.pdf

      Look at Table 4.14-11 on page 4.14-45.

      The Richards/Olive intersection goes from LOS B to LOS F during the morning peak. It goes from LOS C to LOS E during the evening peak.

      The data under-represents the severity of the situation, but nevertheless speaks for itself.

      Just to be clear …

      Richards corridor traffic will get worse if Nishi is built.

      1. Barack Palin

        I recently watched a Yes on A ad telling us traffic will be improved.  I was thinking at the time how can they possibly make that claim?  They’re just guessing and my guess is that traffic will be worse.

        1. CalAg

          BP: I was told emphatically and repeatedly by one of their (presumably paid) student advocates that Nishi was going to fix both the traffic and student housing problems.

          What we have is a bunch of low information kids talking to a bunch of low information voters and shilling for Tandem/Whitcombe student housing complex that is going to trash our most important piece of City traffic infrastructure.

          And the Vanguard is asleep at the switch.

      2. David Greenwald

        CalAg: As I read that section, you are correct in that the EIR argues that simply adding the connection to UCD is insufficient to mitigate traffic impacts.  However, as I wrote above, the EIR believes that the interchange improvements will reduce the impacts greatly but since they cannot be assured, the impact remains significant and unavoidable.  I agree with this assessment – the problem will not simply be fixed with the access, you have to fix Richards Blvd itself – that’s the interchange which is a mess, that if the light sequencing (an existing condition) which is bad, that is making for a two lane left turn on to West Olive, that redirecting traffic to the university away from the tunnel – in short, everything that we’ve talked about.  All Table 4.14-11 shows is existing project plus Scenario 1, which is access at some point on campus, it doesn’t include other mitigation measures.

  16. HouseFlipper

    Hey Yes on A people – What are the emissions from the Sierra Energy garbage gasifiers going to be? How are you planning on mitigating that added impact?

    1. HouseFlipper

      That article doesn’t answer the question. what are the emissions from Sierra Energy’s garbage gasifiers at the Nishi site going to be?

      How do they plan on mitigating the emissions?

      How much pure oxygen (used for the gasification process) will they store at their Nishi facilities?

      How much of the volatile Synfuel they generate will they have at the Nishi facilities?

       

      1. David Greenwald

        Of course it doesn’t, but it provides info on the process itself. I’m not aware if or whether they are planning to put the gasifier on the Nishi site or whether they are planning for it to be on Area 52 or somewhere else. You would have to ask Rob White or Mike Hart.

        1. Barack Palin

          I was curious to the answers to HouseFlipper’s questions also.  Since Rob White is a frequent contributor and I seem to remember recently reading an article by Mike Hart on here maybe they can elaborate.

      1. Rob White

        Sierra Energy isn’t proposing to build a gasifier at Nishi. We are joining the project as developer of the 325,000 square feet of R&D space. This will build on our own rapid success in establishing 30,000 square feet of R&D space in South Davis (on Research Drive) and the makerspace/incubator of Area 52.

        So, the answer to the emissions from a gasifier at Nishi question… none, we aren’t proposing to build one there.

        And since you asked about it, I will write an article about the Sierra Energy technology (which is very different from most other gasifiers) for further information in the coming weeks.

        1. HouseFlipper

          Good to hear. So Sierra Energy will not be doing any research or innovation itself at the Nishi site and is only involved in the project as a developer. Is that right?

          So what companies have signed up to actually work in the new Nishi space?

  17. Tia Will

    Ron

    It’s difficult for me to believe that I’m (apparently) the first person to request clarification from you, regarding this. It seems like an important thing for Vanguard readers to know.”

    First, I question the premise of why it is important for Vanguard readers to know Don’s private arrangements, business or otherwise.

    But, I leave Don to respond regarding any actual role, compensated or not compensated that he might undertake.  I do want to address one possibility that you omitted from your list. You left out the possibility that he might serve as an unpaid consultant to the Nishi project.

    Many business people and “specialists” provide consultation for free. We recently had questions about using a particular type of plant in our yard. My partner had an extensive conversation with Don about where and under what conditions the plant might thrive in our yard. No purchase at that time and no money exchanged. But the conversation served as the basis for our decision to buy which we later did from Don.  What Don extended freely to us was to me more valuable than money. It was his time and his specialized knowledge developed over years of experience. Doctors dispense free information on a regular basis to friends, colleagues, acquaintances and sometimes even people we did’t know at all until they introduced themselves at a party. Prior to his retirement, my plumber would come out, assess a problem and if it was truly minor or just advice, would not charge at all even though he had made the trip out. There are many people in our community who share their time and knowledge freely without expecting monetary compensation. Not all go by the official title of “volunteer” but all make a contribution.

    I have no idea and frankly could not care less what kind of  consultative arrangement Don has with Tim. I just think it is important to realize that contribution does not always equal monetary profit.

     

    1. Ron

      Tia:  “First, I question the premise of why it is important for Vanguard readers to know Don’s private arrangements, business or otherwise.”

      Don is a frequent commenter on the Vanguard, as well as a moderator.  He is also a strong supporter of Measure A, and may directly benefit from the outcome.  (That’s what I was attempting to clarify.)

      Under normal circumstances, this would be more than enough to question someone’s objectivity.  However, based on the comments of others, I’m starting to believe that Don is unique and above reproach.  (I don’t know him very well.) In any case, I won’t push this any further at this time.

      As you and I have noted, Don can provide further clarification if he wishes.

  18. Tia Will

    Hi Ron !

    You are the winner of my first Vanguard indued smile of the day award.

    I do not know Don personally either, but the thought of anyone being “unique and above reproach” was enough to bring a smile to my face. Two reasons. First, I guarantee he is unique ( but no more than anyone else). Second, I only suspect that he is not “beyond reproach” ( but no more or less than many others ).

    Please feel free to play along Don. This could be fun.

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