Arguments Against Nishi



(From No on A Press Release) – On the June 7th ballot, you will be asked to make a very important decision about the future of Davis. On that ballot is Measure A which seeks voter approval for the City to annex the Nishi agricultural property into the City and approve rezoning of the property for 660 high density housing units and 325,000 sq. ft of R&D/office space.

The No on Nish campaign strongly urges voters to Vote No on Measure A – No on Nishi. This email summarizes the many problems with the project and will be followed later by a series of more detailed analyses of each of the problem areas.

There are many reasons why this project is not good for the residents of the City of Davis. The Nishi project is driven by developer profits and meets neither community housing needs nor Davis’ standards for sustainability and affordability.

No Affordable Housing – Only Luxury Housing

Nishi’s housing will not be affordable nor “oriented towards students…with small units” as promised. Because the City illegally exempted the project from its low-income housing requirements and $11.5 million in alternative in-lieu fees, Nishi’s housing will all be luxury rental apartments and for-sale condominiums affordable only to the richest students. Independent analysis projects rent for an average 1,100 sq. ft. 2-bedroom, 2-bath apartment at over $2400 a month!

Huge Developer Give-Aways

Ignoring the huge Affordable Housing give-away, Nishi proponents claim there will be “up to $9,000,000 in one time fees paid to the City” but fail to note these only cover costs expected to be incurred by the City in implementing the project. And these fees will only come after 5-10 years (if ever) because payments are tied to construction completion. Meanwhile, taxpayers will pay millions more for local road upgrades that are only required because of the project itself. According to independent analysis, Nishi also has uncertain but potentially negative annual financial benefits for the city.

Massive Traffic Grid-Lock

Even with these promised street “improvements”, experts cannot confirm Nishi-related traffic will not cause gridlock along Richards Blvd. Traveling through the Richards Blvd. tunnel into or out of downtown is unbearable now and this project will make it immeasurably worse.

Green-Washed Sustainability Plan

The claim that the project’s solar system will “supply 85% of electricity used onsite” is misleading. Instead, the developer proposes to sell the entire solar electrical output for profit to another wholesale buyer so Nishi tenants will actually receive no direct solar or financial benefit. The project will also produce over 10,000 metric tons of unmitigated Green House Gas (GHG) emissions per year (that’s about 24,000,000 lbs. annually)! This functionally destroys the City’s Climate Action Plan goals.

Worst Air Quality in the Region

Noted UC Davis Professor Emeritus of Atmospheric Science, Dr. Tom Cahill, opposes Nishi because of the “Significant and Unavoidable” adverse air quality impacts as noted in the project’s Environmental Impact Report. Due to the project’s low-lying location between the congested freeway and heavily-used railway, dangerous pollutants can accumulate onsite. Children and expectant mothers are particularly susceptible to permanent respiratory and developmental problems due to long-term exposure to these transportation-related pollutants.


The Nishi project will generate substantial developer profits but provide no significant fiscal benefits to our community nor address our need for truly affordable and sustainable housing. Instead it risks traffic gridlock and jeopardizing the respiratory health of our most vulnerable residents.

We have all seen how badly the ongoing Cannery development has turned out for the City with the string of broken developer promises and City mishaps. Because of the shortcomings of the Nishi project, it has the potential to be much, much worse. Let’s not be fooled again.


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31 thoughts on “Arguments Against Nishi”

  1. ryankelly

    This is just a repeat of the same complaints – a campaign brochure.  They are not listening to anything people are telling them about the plans in answer to their allegations and the biggest complaint seems to be that the developers will realize a profit.  Are we really going to be subjected to further unsigned press releases?

  2. MidCentury

    As someone that is strongly leaning NO at this point, although I see the potential for a great project if the developers put their minds to it, I have a couple of questions for the Nishi developers:

    How much is Nishi contributing to the Olive/Richards traffic improvements that does not directly benefit themselves? That is, remove the cost of the onsite traffic improvements and connection to UCD, the connection to Olive Drive, the bike path changes, etc. How much goes to the City to improve the Richards/Olive area for people who will never set foot on the Nishi site. I’m just looking for a dollar number, not a story.

    How much would the State be contributing to improve the Richards/Freeway offramp, bicycle connectivity, and improved signal timing even if Nishi wasn’t developed at this time. I imagine they couldn’t care less about whether Nishi gets built or not, and there are funds available to improve the offramp regardless of what happens in a city election. Can the State actually tie road improvement dollars to a private development’s approval?

    I’m sure the Nishi folks agree that one of the biggest problem in Davis is a lack of apartments. Why does a trickle down approach of building only expensive apartments at Nishi make sense? Will this lower the price in other areas of town appreciably? I doubt it. I think we all believe in the idea that diversity in housing builds stronger community. Shouldn’t Nishi be providing more balance in the types of new housing being built?

    I used to see the name Tim Ruff on other property on Olive Drive. How much other property do the Nishi developers own/control on Olive. Would they be getting a two-for-one benefit by increasing additional property value they also control? Will this actually reduce the affordable and startup friendly spaces at 720 Olive Drive? ( for instance the industrial spaces where Schilling Robotics started )

    What would it take for a developer to really push the envelope on sustainability? Just meeting LEED is virtually doing nothing other than what is already required by building code. Why not push for beyond Platinum and be a role model for future development in Davis? Look at the mileage Davis has gotten out of Village Homes. What is it going to take to get a local developer to propose the next great project?

    I read that most of the UCD traffic that clogs Richards is actually going down B street to Russell and then onto campus. If this is the case, it seems unlikely they would choose to divert through Nishi onto campus as that would actually make their trip longer. Is this just wishful thinking that Nishi won’t make things even worse?

    Everyone agrees that the UCD/Old Davis Road interchange is underutilized. Why not create multiple connections from Nishi to Old Davis Road, and have a bicycle and pedestrian only connection to Olive Drive? I know the City made a commitment when Nishi granted a right of way for the bike path. I’m sure there is another concession that could be given to Nishi in exchange.


  3. nameless

    To MidCentury:
    How much is Nishi contributing to the Olive/Richards traffic improvements… I’m just looking for a dollar number, not a story.”

    $23 million.

    How much would the State be contributing to improve the Richards/Freeway offramp, bicycle connectivity, and improved signal timing even if Nishi wasn’t developed at this time. I imagine they couldn’t care less about whether Nishi gets built or not…

    It is possible SACOG will give state funding – but only if Nishi is built.  SACOG favors this type of infill/development.

    I’m sure the Nishi folks agree that one of the biggest problem in Davis is a lack of apartments. Why does a trickle down approach of building only expensive apartments at Nishi make sense?

    I disagree with your premise that the Nishi apartments are expensive.  A two bedroom apartment would be $1,500 – $1,800.  If 4 students rent such an apartment, that is only $450 per month, which is quite doable.  West Village charges something like $900 a month for a studio apartment.

    What would it take for a developer to really push the envelope on sustainability? Just meeting LEED is virtually doing nothing other than what is already required by building code. Why not push for beyond Platinum and be a role model for future development in Davis?

    Ultimately the rate of return on a project has to fiscally pencil out for the developer.  The more requirements on the project, the better the chance it will not be fiscally viable, no matter how “green” you want the project to be.  Reminds me of the old adage “Perfection is the enemy of good”.

    I read that most of the UCD traffic that clogs Richards is actually going down B street to Russell and then onto campus. If this is the case, it seems unlikely they would choose to divert through Nishi onto campus as that would actually make their trip longer. Is this just wishful thinking that Nishi won’t make things even worse?

    Traffic that would go through Richards onto B St. will be redirected onto Nishi through an extension of Olive Drive.  Traffic wanting to exit Nishi can use Old Davis Road or the Olive Drive extension.  This solution takes pressure off so much traffic going through the Richards underpass.

    1. Tia Will


      As someone who favors Nishi, and have said so publicly on a number of occasions, I want to be very clear on one point. This is with regards to the issue of “penciling out”. The citizens, the city staff, the City Council, namely no one who has any say in approving a project has any way of knowing whether something “pencils out” or not since the actual dollar amount is not information that is divulged by the developer. This leaves one side completely blinded to a critical part of the equation. We don’t know whether or not the developer could easily afford to exceed Platinum standards but is just choosing not to since they want more profit for themselves, or whether this degree of sustainable planning would truly be prohibitive. So within the system that we have, which some appear to love, and some such as myself believe is an egregious tipping of the scales in favor of the developers and investors, we have to simply make our decision with a huge piece of relevant information lacking. I do not like it, but I recognize that there are some, usually business oriented, who think it is just fine.

  4. DavisforNishiGateway

    These are more misleading and erroneous claims from opponents of Nishi. To begin, although Nishi was legally and properly exempted from the Affordable Housing requirement due to its mixed-use nature (the whole point of Article 18.05.080 in the Davis Municipal Code–check it out here:, the City Council negotiated with the property owners to require Nishi to contribute $1 million dollars to the City’s Affordable Housing Fund. The claims made by the project’s opponents are simply not supported by facts. What’s more, although project opponent’s like to cite an “independent analysis,” the truth is that this analysis was conducted by a firm that never talked to or consulted the project regarding the estimated rents. The result, is a number that is not grounded in anything; chalk it up as another misleading and erroneous claim by the project opponents. The property owners expect the rents to be at market-rate. No big surprises there. The rents at Nishi will be comparable to rents at the UCD dorms with slightly more space.

    With respect to the second claim, the opponents are yet again putting forth misleading and erroneous arguments. To begin, Nishi will contribute $23 million towards traffic solutions which will improve safety and capacity at the intersection of Olive and Richards. It creates another access point to campus through a railroad undercrossing that connects Olive Drive to Old Davis Road which will allow traffic (and emergency services and UniTrans) headed to and from campus to bypass the Richards tunnel. It will contribute to the redesign of Richards Interchange to make it safer and improve traffic flow. The statement by the project opponents “that taxpayers will pay millions more for local road upgrades that are only required because of the project itself” needs to be unpacked to demonstrate just how erroneous, misleading, and willfully ignorant it is. The “millions” taxpayers will pay, I can only assume, refers to the much-needed upgrades at the Richards Interchange (for a laugh, try tracing how tangled and confused Nishi’s opponents have been with regard to whether or not Richards even needs improvements). It seems at this particular juncture, however, even the opponents of the project recognize that the traffic situation at Richards is “unbearable now.” What is absurd, and, frankly, irresponsible, of the project opponents is to claim that the tens of millions needed to redesign Richards is only as a result of the project. In fact, the City has been working with CalTrans for years now to address this problem. The latest renderings were just released a few weeks ago–the biggest issue now is funding. This is where the opponents’ claims really break down. Whether or not Nishi passes, Richards will need to be redesigned. If Nishi does not pass, however, the taxpayers of Davis will have to foot the entire bill. Nishi contributes millions to reduce the burden on taxpayers. Simply put, with Nishi, Davis citizens pay less to fix Richards; without it, they pay more. What’s more, without Nishi, given the City’s precarious current fiscal situation, it may be very difficult for the City to be able to address the problems at Richards at all.

    This is actually a running theme that anyone who is familiar with the arguments of the No side should consider: the feasibility of their obstinacy. I just gave an example where they are happy to criticize Nishi (albeit with false and misleading claims), but it would be wrong to allow them to merely play the part of the gadfly without requiring them to provide potential solutions. For example, with respect to their criticism about Affordable Housing, they are upset that Nishi was exempted from the Affordable Housing requirement due to its mixed-use nature. For people who moved to Davis in the 60s and 70s, I understand why it could be upsetting to look around Davis (and California) and see a dearth of affordable housing and to see people being priced out of home ownership. The days where anyone could afford to live in any community are over. That must be pretty shocking. So, I understand, that to a great degree, opposition to Nishi is an emotional decision, however, that doesn’t mean we can jettison facts and reality.

    If Nishi passes, the Davis housing stock will be increased (noting the oncoming 9,000 person increase at UC Davis over the next five years) at a time when rental vacancy rates are at an astoundingly low 0.2%. This, objectively, is going to help people with lesser means by relieving some of the pressure that is currently sending rents upward at a rate of 4 to 5% annually (This is coming from the UC Davis Vacancy and Rental Rate Survey. It should also be noted that this outpaces inflation substantially–a worrying trend). Furthermore, Nishi is going to contribute $1 million dollars to the City’s Affordable Housing Fund (which was gutted by the budget cuts instituted by Governor Brown and which desperately needs an infusion of private capital from sources like Nishi). Without Nishi, the vacancy rates will go even further down as UC Davis adds more students and faculty which will drive rents up at an even faster rate. Without Nishi, the City will receive no money from the property owners towards its Affordable Housing fund. These are objectively bad scenarios for Davis.

    Although the project opponents are now claiming that the situation at Richards is “unbearable,” their opposition to Nishi will do nothing to fix this. Nishi will invest $23 million in traffic solutions and will, most excitingly, create another access point to campus as part of its legally-binding project baseline features. Will this guarantee traffic relief? According to the expert traffic engineers who were commissioned by the City as part of the EIR, this is best solution to mitigate the project’s potential traffic impacts, and expert traffic engineers at CalTrans have worked to create a redesign for Richards which they believe will best alleviate the safety and traffic flow concerns that currently exist there. Personally, I put my trust in experts who have studied these problems for years. What’s more, I can guarantee that doing nothing–which would be the result of voting No on Nishi–will make things worse. When you are in an untenable situation, it doesn’t solve anything to stay the course. Something new needs to be tried. Nishi is a catalyst to jumpstart the ideas and efforts to redesign Richards which have been planned for years. I think we need to hold both the proponents and opponents of Nishi to a higher standard in public discourse. It is not enough to just complain about things or criticize what has been offered up as a potential salve for some of the problems currently pressing upon Davis. The city needs constructive solutions, not more critics in the peanut gallery.

    Also, Nishi is estimated by the City’s Finance and Budget Committee to generate up to $1.4 million for the City annually. The independent analysis cited by the project opponents included very conservative estimates which did not hew to the likely reality. These were adjusted by the Finance and Budget Committee with the result that Nishi was unambiguously projected to produce a surplus to fund city services. What is not up for debate, is that Nishi will provide $400,000 annually to Davis schools, and will also generate money for local community colleges.

    Note: the project opponents will argue that their solution is to reject Nishi and send it back for renegotiation. In this way, they can avoid the responsibility of proposing alternative and constructive solutions (the only solution I have thus far seen from their side is to simply increase taxes). To be clear, there will be no renegotiation of Nishi. The property owners have worked for the last eight years with the City and UC Davis along with scores of other stakeholders to design a project that is consistent with Davis values and that will help address some of the most pressing problems currently confronting Davis. Voting No on Nishi will not result in any renegotiation. That means, there will be no money going to the City, Davis schools, or towards traffic solutions. New beds for students and compact apartments for seniors will not be added to the city’s housing stock. No new jobs will be hosted at Nishi, nor will the 325,000 square feet of R&D space house start-ups and small businesses looking to be near and collaborate with the research being done at UC Davis. This is what it means to vote No on Nishi.

    To press on, Nishi will generate 85% of electricity used on site in the form of solar energy. This costs money, and the property owners came up with a way to finance this. I see no contradiction here. There was never any claim made that the tenants would somehow be paid for this. The generation of solar energy is an important step to ensuring the project is doing its part to be sustainable–not to reduce rents. What will reduce costs for tenants at Nishi is that Nishi makes car-free living quite feasible which can save residents thousands per year. Also, Nishi is being built with energy-efficiency that exceeds the CAL Green Tier 1 building standards (those are the building standards required by the City of Davis) by 30% which means residents will have reduce utility costs. What’s more, 80% of the trips made by Nishi residents will be by bike or by walking–the first project in the history of Davis to exceed the the Beyond Platinum Bicycle Action Plan. If that isn’t sustainable, then maybe the project opponents should seriously reconsider how they define sustainable.

    While the project opponents hysterically invoke an out-of-context quote from the EIR with regards to air quality, they fail to mention that Nishi is required to plant a dense buffer of trees between I-80 and the property structures, place the residential units at the far end of the property from I-80, and install state-of-the-art air filtration systems with the result that the air quality concerns will be fully mitigated.

    So, in conclusion, I argue that Nishi helps address some of the critical problems facing Davis. It adds much-needed student housing; it creates up to $1.4 million annually to fund city services and $400k for Davis schools; its residents will bike or walk for 80% of their trips (the first project in Davis history to exceed the Beyond Platinum Bicycle Action Plan); it creates 325,000 square feet of R&D space to house start-ups and small businesses; it will create an estimated 1500 permanent jobs at all levels of the education and skills spectrum; it creates another access point to campus which means people can avoid the Richards Tunnel; it invests tens of millions in traffic solutions. I am sure I am leaving out some other important benefits, but now I am tired of writing this response, so that will have to do. I think I have provided well-reasoned arguments as to why Nishi is a good project for Davis. I hope the No on Nishi crowd will start to provide some feasible alternative solutions to what it would mean to forego Nishi, because I think they, and everyone else, will find that it is a lot harder than simply shouting “No.”

    1. MidCentury

      Until more lower cost apartments are built, additional mini-dorms will be the only alternative for affordable student housing. Yes, Nishi got an exemption somehow. That doesn’t make it right.

      I still didn’t see an answer to the question of how much of the $23M is used for improvements offsite of the development and specifically the project’s contribution to the Olive/Richards intersection and the freeway improvements.

      Are you really saying that that piece of land will never, ever, have any opportunity to be developed again should this project team fail to make it obvious to at least 1/2 of Davis voters that the benefits outweigh the costs? That sounds like a ultimatum or a bluff or just whining by the developers. Of course it will be developed when the right project is put forth.

      I wish you could understand that I could support this project if some of the issues were addressed. You may think you you’ve done enough. I just don’t share that view. Its not a matter of perfect being the enemy of good. Its that you must meet a minimum threshold which I don’t believe has been met.

      1. ryankelly

        As long as there is such a low vacancy rate in Davis, landlords will continue to charge ever higher rates. For example, Mike Harrington – a primary opponent of Nishi – charges $1500 (or more) for a one bedroom house that he owns near campus.  He does this by converting the livingroom to a second bedroom, leaving the kitchen and the shared bathroom as the only common space.  He also has done this with another house with multiple units.   He has 9 bedrooms sharing one bathroom and a kitchen, plus two other one bedroom units converted into two bedrooms sharing a bathroom and kitchen each.  This appears to have become common practice by landlords and this is what the market has come to bear because of the competitive environment  for housing.  You don’t have to wonder why Harrington might prefer that Nishi is never built.

      2. DavisforNishiGateway

        MidCentury, I understand what you are saying, but I would like to offer another perspective that I think addresses the concerns you bring up. To begin, it seems like you are saying that the only way to reduce the price of student housing is to create Section 8 housing (unless you are talking about some other below-market rate housing I am unaware of). However, I am not sure that subsidized housing is actually going to do much at all to reduce rent for students or stop the proliferation of mini-dorms. This is because students don’t qualify for Section 8 housing. The pressure on rental housing in Davis is largely driven and exacerbated by the student population at UC Davis. Therefore, subsidized housing is probably one of the least effective policy tools we could use to reduce rents in Davis. Furthermore, funding for subsidized housing has been slashed dramatically–ask any of the current or former City Council members and they will tell you the same.

        Perhaps by “lower cost apartments” you are instead referring to a more market-driven solution; i.e. that we should instead have housing built that will be priced either below market rate, or at the bottom of the market. Again, here it is not clear to me that there are easy answers or solutions. To begin, we know that demand for housing in Davis has been rising for a long time, and will rise even more with the university’s announcement that it will add 9000 more students and staff in the next five years. They specifically stated that they will not be able to house this increase, so we know that more people will be looking for housing in Davis and the surrounding areas than already do (and remember, rents are already rising by 4 to 5% annually; that’s astoundingly fast).  The market dictates that if demand is greater than current supply (which I think is fairly safe to say is the case here in Davis), it will create upward pressure on prices until it reaches a rough equilibrium. Therefore, there really is no reason to expect that even if cheap housing (i.e. bare bones with none of the amenities and positive features Nishi pays to include such as solar, etc.) that this would result in below market or bottom-of-the market rents. Instead, we would probably just see this new housing continue to be priced according to the rising demand schedules of Davis consumers. In fact, we already see this with regard to the older rental housing in Davis. Even though many rental properties are much less energy efficient and modern with regards to their infrastructure and aesthetic, they continue to be able to increase rents because consumers looking to live in Davis have no other choice. Another factor that works against building “low cost” housing is precisely the hurdle you describe when you say you feel the project “must meet a minimum threshold.” In order for Nishi to include some of the features that make it a positive contribution to the community (generating 85% of energy on-site through solar panels, promoting dense mixed-use planning consistent with smart growth principles by making the residential component five and six stories–instead of the cheaper four stories, expanding the Davis bike loop, creating another access point to campus, using union labor, purusing LEED Platinum in neighborhood design and Gold minimum or the equivalent for the buildings [note:there are only 13 LEED Platinum projects in the world], creating building that exceed the Cal Green Tier 1 standards for energy efficiency by 30%, etc.), the project must assume higher costs.So, in order for any project to pass muster (both through the City Council and Measure R/J), the project has to include a number of elements that raise its building costs. Those extra costs are incurred by the property owners and have to be recouped. So, it really comes down to a question of balance. How many things do we want to require of new projects vs. how affordable do we want to make the project? Here, Nishi has managed to incorporate quite a number of qualities and amenities that are important to Davis while still managing to rent at market rate. Of course, people can debate the exact balance that should be struck, but fundamentally, you can’t ask that a project have more features that we like and also rent at lower rates.

        But not all hope is lost when it comes to reining in increases in rents and the proliferation of mini-dorms even though it won’t be solved by subsidized housing or by trying to build cheap housing. By building new, energy-efficient housing that will still rent at market-rate, Nishi will increase the supply of quality housing in Davis. This has several important consequences. First, by creating more available units, Nishi will reduce the number of mini-dorm conversions because students will be able to live at Nishi rather than in a residential family neighborhood. Second, because Nishi will be new, modern, and with plenty of amenities, it creates more competition in the Davis housing market. If a landlord who owns old, somewhat dilapidated housing is currently renting at market-rate, they will now have to respond to the fact that there is now new housing located in a prime location for students to walk or bike downtown or to campus. This means the landlords will be incentivized to have to compete in price (why would you pay the same for an old apartment when you could have a new one at the same price?), or will have to improve their housing. Third, one of the best features of Nishi is that its residences can quite practically live car-free. This saves its residents potentially thousands of dollars per year. What’s more, it encourages future projects to prioritize car-free living which helps make living in places like Davis more affordable. Of course, Nishi is only part of the solution–the gap between demand and existing supply is still larger than what Nishi will be able to address, but I think everyone can acknowledge that Nishi is a good start.

        As for the improvements at Richards, there was actually an article on this in the Vanguard a couple of weeks ago. Here it is: The improvements at Richards will likely cost $10 million and Nishi will proved $3 million in addition to spending $13 million to create the undercrossing to campus, $2 million at the Olive Drive/Richards intersection, $2 million for the bridge across Putah Creek (which will allow bicyclists along the Davis Bike Loop to remain separate from cars), and $3 million will be spent on the new by-pass road, bike paths, sidewalks, and the UniTrans stop. I hope that is detailed enough for you.

        I suppose you are right that it is a bit hyperbolic to insinuate that nothing will ever happen at this property. However, if this project which is the culmination of eight years of negotiations and planning between the property owners, City, and UC Davis, is rejected, it will not go back to renegotiate a deal as the project opponents have suggested. This opportunity for Davis to add much-needed student housing, R&D space for start-ups and small businesses, compact stacked flats for seniors, 1500 jobs, $1.4 million annually for city services, $4ook annually for Davis schools, and many other great things will be lost.

        I do understand that you could support this project. I hope I have addressed the issues you raised. I would love to hear your response. I know that you, and many people who are skeptical of the project care a lot about Davis. I do too. I support Nishi because it helps address some of the critical issues currently confronting Davis. Those aren’t going away; even if Nishi does. What’s more, Nishi is more than just a potential source of relief for problems–it is a model for how we need to be rethinking our cities and communities. Compact mixed-use housing that allows residents to live car-free? Check. Housing for seniors that allows them to walk downtown and remain active and engaged in the community rather than be cloistered in isolated single-family homes or retirements? Yup. A project that blends needed R&D space for start-ups and small companies hoping to leverage the research being conducted in the labs of UC Davis with residential–thereby diversifying the area and ensuring we don’t end up with just another business park that goes dark after 5? Definitely. I could go on, but I think this post is probably long enough. Jaja. Cheers.

    2. Tia Will


       I think we need to hold both the proponents and opponents of Nishi to a higher standard in public discourse.”

      the feasibility of their obstinacy”

      Synonyms for obstinacy :

      stubbornness, inflexibility, intransigence, intractability, obduracy,mulishness, pigheadedness, willfulness, contrariness, perversity,recalcitrance, refractoriness, implacability, rigidity, uncooperativeness”

      I do not see the second comment as an example of the first. Please note that none of these synonyms include any suggestion that the objections being mounted might be due to a difference in interpretation of the facts, or a difference in values. The word “obstinacy” could equally be applied to those who are fully satisfied with the project as it is now and are arguing for a “Yes” vote on the existing project without further modification.

      I plan to vote for Nishi and am now supporting it publicly, but I do not condone either side making disparaging comments about the motivations or any other personal comments about those with a different view point. I find it especially ironic to see these two comments juxtaposed in the same article.

    3. sisterhood

      I’m sick of reading about the million dollar deposit in lieu of truly affordable housing. That money, imho, needs to be held in trust for court costs if any future affordable housing/ housing cooperative debacles occur again. It won’t go far if lawsuits happen.

      1. DavisforNishiGateway

        I think that I addressed your comment about ‘truly affordable housing’ in my reply above. I would be very interested to hear your ideas. I think Nishi (and projects like it) is probably the best way for the City to do anything about its housing crisis. Thus far, I have not seen a proposal from the No side as to how we address student/affordable housing in Davis without Nishi.

        1. Ron

          DavisforNishiGateway:  “Thus far, I have not seen a proposal from the No side as to how we address student/affordable housing in Davis without Nishi.”

          It seems that Mr. Ruff is already contemplating working with the University (or county), if Measure A is rejected (see link below).  (When I’ve speculated about a University purchase in the past, I was met with resistance from some on the Vanguard.)

          Some of us also believe that it’s not (necessarily) the city’s responsibility to respond to all of the University’s needs.  (Especially since the city is not a true partner, and does not have the room or capability to provide as much housing as the University can.)  If the University eventually purchases Nishi, it might provide the best possible outcome for students and the city.  (Unless one believes the “optimistic” financial predictions regarding the current Nishi proposal.)

        2. DavisforNishiGateway

          Ron, I understand where you are coming from, but I think there is more to this than you are acknowledging. I completely understand the sentiment that the city doesn’t need to be at the beck and call of the university, especially given the tension over housing. The thing is that Nishi is so much more than that. It is not just a student housing project, though it provides student housing. It creates compact dense stacked flats for seniors who can remain active and engaged by walking downtown or to campus. I think this alone is a huge benefit the project provides Davis which would not happen if the university were to purchase the land (a possibility I am not sure would happen even if Nishi fails).

          If you will permit me to digress, I have recently been thinking about senior housing. This was prompted by a conversation between my mother and me (happy Mother’s Day all, by the way) about how she felt bewildered at the general attitude and treatment shown towards the elderly in pop culture, and (this is her generalizing) in society at large. She opined that respect and deference for the contributions seniors can make have been largely supplanted by attitude of contempt and disrespect. To wrap this meandering story up, among the reasons I speculated this may be occurring, is that seniors are often cut off from the rest of society so that young people frequently do not interact with them. I think Nishi is a cool opportunity for Davis to look at what happens when we design a project that specifically allows seniors to 1) be in proximity to young people and 2) be able to walk downtown or to campus and thus still remain engaged with the community.

          Now, I shall return from that rather lengthy aside. Even if you don’t accept the estimate from the Finance and Budget Committee with regards to the $1.4 million annually Nishi will generate for city services, it cannot be denied that Nishi will generate $400k per year to fund Davis schools within DJUSD and $1.4 million one-time development impact fees to fund the construction or reconstruction of school facilities. Nishi is also estimated to generate $190,000 per year for the Los Rios Community College District, and the County Office of Education would gain about $110,000. The library system will gain $125,ooo annually; the Solano County Water Agency $126,000 annually. This does not include the $3 million Nishi will contribute to redesigning Richards, the millions it will invest in expanding and upgrading the Davis Bike Loop, or the millions it will spend to create a new access point to campus under the railroad.

          So really, I hope I have shown, Nishi is about far more than just student housing as it relates to UC Davis. I doubt very much that Davis would realize the benefits I just listed if UC Davis were to assume ownership. These are benefits that help augment some of the best parts of what it means to live in Davis–the schools, the library system, and the city’s large share of bicyclists. I welcome your thoughts on this matter.

        3. Ron

          “Even if you don’t accept the estimate from the Finance and Budget Committee with regards to the $1.4 million annually Nishi will generate for city services.”

          It’s not  a matter of “what I accept”.  There’s some genuine dispute regarding the financial impact upon the city, which has nothing to do with me.  (In addition to the EPS analysis – which still included the possibility of an ongoing deficit, I understand that there was not universal agreement among the finance and budget committee members, either.)  And, that neither EPS nor the finance and budget committee included the costs of road improvements required for the development, which would be paid by the city.  (In any case, these differences have been discussed previously.  Not sure that it’s worth discussing again.)

          Regarding seniors, I really doubt that very many will want to live in that location, surrounded by students.

          If Measure A fails, it seems that the most logical option would be to negotiate with the University.  It won’t be subject to a city-wide vote, any housing can be reserved for students, and the University might consider other uses, as well.  Under that scenario, I don’t see the city agreeing to provide access to Olive Drive (which is a primary concern of many, regarding the current proposal).

          Also – if Measure A fails, the value of the Nishi site will not skyrocket, as a result of the proposed rezoning of the site provided by Measure A (from farmland to urban use).  As a result, the University might then negotiate a very favorable purchase price, from the developer.  (And, perhaps the developer would still be involved in construction activity, on behalf of the University.)

          All just speculation, at this point.  However, I don’t expect the possible rejection of Measure A to be the “end of the story”. And, it appears that Mr. Ruff agrees with this point.

        4. Matt Williams

          Ron, if you understand the accounting principles “cash flow” and “sunk costs” there is virtually no dispute.  Nonetheless, you keep coming back to that same point. I respectfully ask you to seek out any reputable CPA or Certified Financial Analyst and spend 5 minutes with them, and they will disabuse you of the erroneous accounting arguments that you put forth when you make (and remake) the accounting “dispute” argument in your first paragraph above.

          My personal opinion on seniors is similar to yours.

          And I agree with you that your final three paragraphs are speculation … which is all any of us can do on the issues you discuss in those three paragraphs.

          I hope you have had a good weekend.


        5. Ron

          Matt:  “Ron, if you understand the accounting principles “cash flow” and “sunk costs” there is virtually no dispute.  Nonetheless, you keep coming back to that same point. I respectfully ask you to seek out any reputable CPA or Certified Financial Analyst and spend 5 minutes with them, and they will disabuse you of the erroneous accounting arguments that you put forth when you make (and remake) the accounting “dispute” argument in your first paragraph above.

          Matt, I’m well-aware of your position, and I understand your arguments.  (I also have some background in accounting and auditing.)

          The fact remains that the figures that Dan Carson presented (e.g., regarding exactly how he calculated police/fire costs) have not been adequately explained.  (I’ve asked you about this previously, but you didn’t respond.  Perhaps you didn’t see that posting.)  For example, did Dan simply eliminate the sunk costs, and leave the remaining cost?  (If so, that might explain it, but it doesn’t seem to explain the reason that EPS continued to disagree with that approach, after it was brought to their attention).  (I don’t recall that EPS verified/confirmed the reason for the discrepancy.) Representatives from the police and fire department disagreed, as well.  They noted the increased cost of providing police/fire services to a constrained area, such as Nishi.  I realize that one might argue that police/fire departments are driven by self-interest (and are not the best source of information) but nevertheless – the very large discrepancy (between EPS and Dan Carson) has not been adequately explained.  I’m also wondering if Dan Carson is actually an unbiased/accurate source of information regarding police/fire costs (as well as the other “rosy” projections that he came up with).

          I’d accept your response, if I saw a statement from EPS that the discrepancy was only due to the reason that you’re stating. (I’d feel even better if there was an objective analysis that included the city’s share for road improvements needed for the development.)

          I will continue to bring up arguments that haven’t been adequately addressed.

          You’re also failing to acknowledge that there was disagreement among members of your committee.


        6. Ron


          From my perspective, Dan Carson (and perhaps some other members of your committee) performed a real “disservice” when interfering with what was supposed to be an objective analysis, performed by an external party (EPS).  This is exactly the type of interference that breeds suspicion/lack of trust.  (Why would the city even hire EPS to perform an independent analysis, if some on the finance and budget committee subsequently disregard or try to change it, to present a “rosier” picture?)

          it appears that EPS considered Dan’s input (which seems to consist of a memo).  Unfortunately, it didn’t appear that EPS provided a sufficient explanation of the difference.  (Therefore, we’re now relying upon the statements of Dan Carson and others, regarding the discrepancies.)  Your explanation may be correct, but unfortunately I’m not sure that it can be independently verified at this point. (It would have been best to bring EPS back into the picture, to fully address the discrepancy.)

        7. Matt Williams

          Ron said . . . “I’ve asked you about this previously, but you didn’t respond.  Perhaps you didn’t see that posting.”

          Ron, I answered that question in a detailed comment on April 24th (see LINK).  EPS and the Fire and Police Chiefs approached the issue using allocation accounting rather than the cash received/expended methodology used in the City’s Budget.  The reasons for the two Chiefs using that method are pretty straightforward, they have no incentive to reduce their departmental budget given the substantial amounts of deferred capital maintenance that each of those departments currently contribute to the City’s $655 million unfunded liabilities.  It is a fact that those unfunded liabilities exist with or without Nishi.  So the Chiefs are just being proactive.

          Why EPS is using allocation accounting rather than cash accounting is a mystery to me.  Their February 8th report to the FBC basically says that they interviewed Chief of Police, Darren Pytel and Assistant Fire Chief, Rick Martinez, and “Based on those interviews, EPS did not construct any additional sensitivity scenarios to reflect lower public service costs.” However, based on the information EPS shared about the interviews, both Chiefs only addressed staffing costs, not sunk costs.

          What you characterize as a dispute amongst the FBC members was simply the difference between a more conservative approach and a less conservative approach.  As Ray Solomon and I both said when I put forward the Substitute Motion, a more conservative approach would be representative of the many citizens in Davis (like yourself) who would prefer an abundance of caution.  I was personally comfortable with either approach.

  5. davisite4

    I have questions about this one item: “install state-of-the-art air filtration systems.”

    This seems to be an acknowledgement that the air quality will be poor, even with “plant[ing] a dense buffer of trees between I-80 and the property structures” and “plac[ing] the residential units at the far end of the property from I-80.”  I think it’s important to highlight this.

    And does this mean that residents  will have to keep their windows closed all of the time?  Running their A/Cs all the time, not being able to take advantage of the Delta breeze at night?  Or is the assumption that being next to the highway and next to the train, people would have their windows closed all of the time anyway?

    Looking forward to hearing further about this.

    1. DavisforNishiGateway

      Davisite4, I think it is better to characterize this as an acknowledgement that the property owners are required to undertake extensive and thorough measures to ensure that any and all concerns about the air quality are mitigated to be less than significant. The other thing that goes largely unmentioned is that the residents of Nishi will not, by and large, be children or pregnant women, so any risk from air quality (which already has a very low incidence) is decreased even further.

      When the Delta breeze blows, the air is clean and pure, so no worries about people not being able to take advantage of the breeze at night. During rush hour traffic, people wouldn’t want to keep their windows open. All HVAC systems have filters and they are not used when windows are open, so there should be no worries about wasting energy.

      1. DavisforNishiGateway

        Just to clarify, when I am talking about rush hour, I am saying that people will not keep their windows open at 5 or 6 pm during the summer when it is hot as all blazes and the air quality is at its worst, so I don’t think this will be a big concern.

      2. davisite4

        Wow, that’s a pretty thin answer.  In fact, you don’t know who the residents will be and have no control over who they will be.  You don’t know what their sensitivities will be, e.g., if they have asthma.  (They won’t be pregnant women?  Women aren’t tech workers and they don’t get pregnant?  Maybe check your assumptions there).

        I wasn’t worried about running HVAC while the windows were open.  I was worried about them having to run them all the time, with the windows closed, which is pretty wasteful.  Sounds like there will be days (e.g., a day like today, in the high 70s) when the rest of Davis has their windows open but these folks will have to have theirs shut, possibly needing A/C.

        So, the area gets a good Delta breeze through it in the evenings?  Enough so that you don’t have to worry air pollution any more?  Has that been studied?

  6. Odin

    I don’t care how you manipulate it, Nishi will cause massive traffic back-up.  I walk Olive/Richards near daily and I can tell you, most of the cars entering downtown do not appear to be students, so this convoluted notion that a left hand turn onto Olive will relieve backup is a ridiculous notion at best.  So, they widen the lanes coming off the freeway, SO WHAT, this still funnels traffic into downtown two lane streets under a two-lane overpass.  Someone HAD to do the math, but hey, tons of money is to be made, so let’s just wait until it’s voted in before the folks living in South Davis and on Olive Drive (where I reside) really learn what a real traffic mess looks like.  We be damned.

    1. Don Shor

      most of the cars entering downtown do not appear to be students

      If the annual campus travel surveys are any indication, the majority of them are UCD staff.

    2. Topcat

      …so this convoluted notion that a left hand turn onto Olive will relieve backup is a ridiculous notion at best.

      I agree that this is what is going to happen.  We will have hundreds of cars per hour turning left off of Richards and the snaking through Nishi.  When they get to Old Davis Road to turn either right or left, there is going to be a massive backup.  What everyone here is ignoring is that Old Davis Road was not designed to be a major thoroughfare.  It is a very slow two lane road with a lot of pedestrian and bicycle congestion. It would take tens of millions of dollars to modify Old Davis Road to handle all the new traffic including grade separated crossings for pedestrians and bicycles.

  7. Marina Kalugin

    There is mounds of evidence on the adverse health impacts of being within 1000 feet of the freeway….  Tom Cahill had an excellent special ad in the Enterprise today outlining the issues….

    Back in the days, in the 70s…. when I-80 was not so wide and had very few cars passing by,  I lived in the NISHI farmhouse for a few years in a communal student group of 10-12 at most times….  it was within 50 feet of the railroad tracks but I loved it…..the train ALSO spews diesel particulates…..

    How often do YOU go down I-80?   if you think there is EVER a time that the road is NOT heavily used….

    And, really?  It is okay if one poisons college students and seniors ?   I know MANY college students with severe asthma and many elders with COPD>>….

    THIS location will exacerbate ALL those conditions…and expecting people to run up THEIR electric bills and keep windows closed at ALL times and NOT be able to enjoy outdoor space is kinda ludicrous also…  such poor ideas and planning…

  8. Frankly

    ● No Affordable Housing – Only Luxury Housing

    Lie.  More housing increases the supply of housing thereby causing a reduction in the cost of housing due to the principles of supply and demand.  And there is no new affordable housing because of the layering of codes and environmental wacko goodies demanded.

      ● Massive Traffic Grid-Lock

    Lie.  Traffic is already bad.  The road design changes will improve traffic throughput.  Want to see less traffic, just drive there in the summer when school is not in session.

    ● Green-Washed Sustainability Plan

    Lie.  This is one of the most green project ever.  It is award winning.

    ● Worst Air Quality in the Region

    Lie.  This has already been debunked by experts.  And what about all the people living on Olive Drive already?

    ● Conclusions

    The No on Measure A people are a bunch of liars.





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