Why Economic Development Projects Like Nishi Gateway Are Critical

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biotech-labBy Dan Carson

Does the City of Davis need new jobs?

No on A campaign leaders, who oppose the Nishi Gateway mixed-used innovation center, say the answer is “no.” They have proposed packing a lot more housing onto the project site and stripping out its office and research and development component.  Why?  They say the city doesn’t need any more jobs because we already have plenty of them at UC Davis, our largest and still-growing employer.

Never mind that their all-housing alternative for Nishi would never pass muster with other local opponents of development who don’t really want additional housing built there or anywhere.

Never mind also that the campaign to defeat Measure A actually means the end of one of this community’s best-ever opportunities for both new housing and economic development. There is no way any sane investor would again plunk down  millions of dollars in permitting and engineering fees if a project this good can’t pass a Measure R vote on June 7. If they defeat Nishi Gateway, their alternative has zero chance of actually being built.

As it considers Measure A, this community should carefully examine the opposition’s core premise that Davis has all the jobs it needs and thus that we don’t need the up to 1,800 permanent new jobs that would be generated from Nishi Gateway.

Years of study and planning and consensus-building have been based on the premise that new jobs and economic development are critical to the long-term health of this city. I think they’re right, for a number of reasons.

First, our community’s overall jobs-housing balance is not where it needs to be. If you have too few jobs for your workforce, too many workers must drive out of town each day to outside communities to work, and then back home, increasing smog, greenhouse gasses, and traffic for everyone.

The theoretical ideal is a one-to-one ratio between jobs and the workforce (although there will never be a perfect match in a free-market economy). According to a city planning analysis, our city’s ratio of jobs is about .39 jobs for each Davis worker. That’s not very good. Add in UC Davis jobs, and the ratio is better at .82 jobs for each Davis worker, but not all of us can or want to work for the university. In reality, we are very much a bedroom community with a serious jobs-housing imbalance.

It’s no wonder that regional planning experts strongly favor Nishi Gateway. Many other workers could find gainful employment within our town, and avoid wasteful commutes, if only there were additional high-quality jobs here that were right for them. Adding 325,000 square feet of innovation center space on UC Davis’ doorstep, as the Nishi Gateway project contemplates, would add jobs for our residents.

Nishi is a critical step in creating an “innovation ecosystem.” Cut through the fancy jargon, and the basic idea is that Nishi would have the right size, configuration, and location of space next to the university to help transition brand new research and tech-oriented enterprises into small- and medium-sized businesses. From there, successful ventures will be able to move on from Nishi, hopefully elsewhere within the city limits, to become large-scale operations on the order of Schilling Robotics that would generate even more jobs.

Specifically, innovation centers like Nishi Gateway get us into the game so that we can compete in five “clusters” our community is targeting for jobs. (These clusters are clean energy technology, agriculture and food production, life sciences/health services, information and communications technology, and advanced manufacturing and materials.) Advances in these areas could make all of us healthier, reduce waste of water and energy, and improve the quality of our lives with new products and services.

Nishi Gateway would also help UC Davis to succeed in its research mission and promote the transfer of technology from the laboratory to the marketplace. UC Davis is the economic backbone of our community, so it makes sense to collaborate with our largest employer.

Economic experts who have studied the Nishi Gateway proposal say a significant number of the jobs that will come our way if Measure A is approved result from its economic spin-off to other local businesses. Because the project is within easy walking and bicycling distance of Nishi residents and workers, it is likely to generate retail and restaurant business for our downtown merchants. It will also build up the city’s business-to-business service sector, which in turn will spur additional commercial development and new jobs for Davis.

We cannot be complacent about our town’s economic vitality. The very structure of our economy has been changing. We will need new jobs to take the place of some of the old ones that are going away. Notice that we needed a lot fewer bank tellers after ATMs came along, and how much retail commerce now occurs on the web? More such changes are on the way.

As I have previously stressed in these pages, economic development will generate significant new revenues that will help the City of Davis deal with long-term fiscal pressures for infrastructure and compensation of city staff.  These substantial new revenues will also give our community greater fiscal resilience when the next economic downturn inevitably hits us.  Remember: UC Davis does not directly contribute any sales or property tax revenues to the city, the mainstay of city budgets now and into the future. We need to make sure that we do not put all of our economic “eggs” in one basket. We saw in the last severe recession that cutbacks at the campus spilled over and affected the rest of our city economically and fiscally.

The kinds of high-quality employers we could attract to Davis would also make a difference in our civic life. Our charities, civic arts, and community activities depend on support from such local enterprises.

In 2012, city leaders, assisted by a UC Davis Extension program, produced the so-called “Studio 30” report that endorsed the concept of developing innovation centers in Davis. The report summarized well and succinctly why new jobs and economic development, and innovation centers like Nishi Gateway, are needed in Davis:

An Innovation Center creates jobs that serve current Davis residents, as well as sustain

existing community investments and support community values.

 

The greatest community benefits of an Innovation Center derive from job creation. An

Innovation Center can provide high-paying jobs for Davis residents, allow young people to stay in the community, maintain a base population of families with children to support the current infrastructure investments (like parks and schools), and bring additional funding into the City to sustain the high quality of life that the community values.

 

An Innovation Center in partnership with the University supports the community’s

commitment to leadership in the areas of sustainability and knowledge-based jobs.

 

Because of its proximity to the University and the education level of its residents, Davis is in the position of providing infrastructure that will allow for the development of UC Davis’s intellectual property and tech transfer programs, as well as community entrepreneurship. By nurturing start-ups and business growth in the community, the City of Davis could support advances in sustainable food, agricultural, energy, environment, and health and help bring new technologies and products to market.

 

By increasing job opportunities that fit with the skills of its residents Davis may be able to reduce the amount of residents commuting to jobs outside Davis. This would help the community meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and meet its General Plan and Climate Action Plan goals.

Nishi Gateway will bring us new jobs that we need. Measure A deserves our support.

Dan Carson worked for 17 years in the Legislative Analyst’s Office, a nonpartisan fiscal and policy adviser to the California Legislature, retiring in 2012 as deputy legislative analyst. He now serves as vice chair of the city’s Finance and Budget Commission. This commentary reflects his views only and does not represent the position of the commission on this issue.

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30 thoughts on “Why Economic Development Projects Like Nishi Gateway Are Critical”

  1. Tia Will

    Add in UC Davis jobs, and the ratio is better at .82 jobs for each Davis worker, but not all of us can or want to work for the university.

    If the theoretical “optimal” ratio is one to one, the .82 jobs for each Davis worker looks pretty good to me. Since we are in agreement that some will choose to work outside Davis for whatever reason, just what number are we shooting for ?  Also, what is the ratio for our surrounding communities ? If we have an obligation to our fellow citizens of California to house our share of citizens, do we not have a similar obligation to spread the wealth of well educated citizens by not attempting to “capture” ( as one poster put it) the “best minds” here in Davis ?  We are already a very well educated community. Should other communities not also benefit from the education of UCD students ?

    Adding 325,000 square feet of innovation center space on UC Davis’ doorstep, as the Nishi Gateway project contemplates, would add jobs for our residents.

    This is likely true. But it would also likely bring in residents of other surrounding communities where larger homes can be purchased at less cost, or renters from other communities thus increasing comment trips. I think that this argument is largely a wash unless the author is promoting and endless cycle of more growth in both more jobs and more residents, namely a Davis that is fundamentally changed to resemble every other rapidly growing community in the area.

    I support and plan to vote in favor of Measure A. However, I believe that when making this decision it is important to make it on the basis of a balanced view of the pros and cons. I believe that in this case, both proponents and opponents are over stating their cases and making claims that will not be born out by the results of either a win or a loss for the project.

    Happy deciding for those of you who remain on the fence !

  2. Dan Carson

    Tia,

    Thanks for your comments, but your box quote above seems to contain a second paragraph that is your statement, not mine.  Maybe you can correct what I am sure is an unintended glitch online.

    I quoted the jobs-housing balance numbers in part because the No-on-A side continues to claim, as it did again in last night’s debate, that the jobs-housing imbalance we have is in the other direction — that we have more jobs than we have housing. That is easily disproven by the data I cite above provided in city planning documents. So, one of the stated premises of their opposition is founded in myth.  To fix our jobs-housing imbalance, we would need to add jobs.

    I am not advocating “an endless cycle of more growth” but sound land-use and economic development policies that will make our community both fiscally and environmentally sustainable. That’s why I support Measure A.

    A large number of our well-educated Davis commuters hit the roads every morning who could work here if only there were suitable jobs, thereby generating less air pollution, GHG emissions, and traffic congestion.  Nishi Gateway would reduce this problem, making our community more sustainable, by creating high-quality jobs that would reduce these impacts.

    Meanwhile, Nishi Gateway would provide workforce and student housing in a location that is in walking distance to bus and commuter train service and that would allow many to walk or bicycle to the campus and to innovation center jobs.   Regional planning experts such as SACOG hold Nishi Gateway up as a model precisely because such infill projects are good land-use policy and uphold smart growth principles.

    So, moving ahead with this project is not a “wash” by any means but is a big benefit to our community in terms of sustainability. I think it is clear by your own stated support for Measure A that you agree.

    And, while I and others have covered this in more detail in other writings here, we do need to strengthen our city finances.  In the long term at full build-out, Nishi Gateway could generate net annual revenue (revenue in excess of costs) in an amount that is the equivalent of the current $49 parks parcel tax, plus millions in one-time fiscal benefits. We have a troublesome backlog of deferred maintenance and infrastructure needs and face cost pressures for employee compensation that will be difficult to manage in the long term unless we get serious about economic development.

    Measure A is not a cure-all, but a step in the right direction we should take.

    1. Tia Will

      Dan

      Sorry for the “glitch”

      But I could not help but notice that you did not address my question. Since .82 does not seem sufficient for you and we agree that 1:1 is probably an impossibility, what ration  do you believe that we should be shooting for ?  How much should be on the university ?  How much should be in town ? Without a firm idea of what our targets should be, based on evidence, how can we know whether we are doing well, doing poorly, or somewhere in between ?

      1. Dan Carson

        Sorry, just saw your post. I tend to focus on the bottom of the threads and forget to backtrack.

        To clarify further, I don’t think there is one magic “right” number. I view the jobs-housing balance ratio I noted is a signpost for us to look deeper at whether we are doing all we reasonably can to be more environmentally and fiscally sustainable. It is a tool for looking at the situation, less an end in itself.

        For example, UC Davis, to its credit, has noted in its LRDP concept planning process that the 6,000 cars coming to campus each day are too many and that efforts need to be made to reduce that number. We can likewise see from available traffic data that many Davisites are commuting by car to jobs in Woodland, Sacramento, even the Bay Area — trips that, in some cases, would be avoidable with further economic development to add the right kinds of jobs here in town.  We can see that we are weak fiscally compared to other cities our size in terms of tax generation from commercial and retail sectors. We can tell from reading the city’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for 2014-15 that we face unfunded pension liabilities exceeding $50 million and we aren’t projected to have the money to pay those bills in the long term.

        So, I think we know enough to focus on potential solutions and reassess again in the future whether we have made any headway and are where we want to be as a community. As I stated earlier, passing Measure A is not a cure-all but one step in that direction.

        1. Tia Will

          Dan

          Thanks for your time in responding. I agree that there is no one right answer regarding the best ratio. But unfortunately that leaves one basic philosophic difference. One side seems to feel that “more” is always the answer when there is a perceived deficit, either of money, or time, or people. This ignores the consideration that perhaps the best solution is not to demand “more” but to consider how best to create a stable equilibrium.  To me, growth vs stagnation is a false dichotomy. A system in equilibrium is the optimal if you take the very long view. What will be best not not just for me and my children, but as some Native Americans believed, 7 generations into the future ?

        2. nameless

          To Tia: Just because some are for Measure A does not necessarily mean they think more is always a better answer, no matter what that more is.  From a personal standpoint, I certainly don’t think so.  For instance I was opposed to Covell Village because I thought it would be too great a drain on the city’s economy as proposed.  I was in favor of the Cannery, because I felt the site was more suitable for housing than an innovation park, and seemed like the next logical site for our city’s share of regional housing.  I personally was in favor of the Cannery proposal because it provided, for the first time, universal design elements in all homes, and was elemental in getting a universal access ordinance passed for all new development.  I believe in smart growth, that is well planned but fiscally sustainable for the city.  In the past the city has not been particularly responsible with its budget, and needs to ensure that any new development is a net fiscal positive for the city.  That is why I was first opposed to Nishi.  But once Nishi showed it was a net fiscal positive and well planned, then I changed my position after much thought and now favor this project.

  3. nameless

    We need to make sure that we do not put all of our economic “eggs” in one basket. We saw in the last severe recession that cutbacks at the campus spilled over and affected the rest of our city economically and fiscally.

    This is an extremely important point.  Right now Nishi is the only game in town for diversifying our economic development portfolio.  We, as a city, are too dependent on car sales and restaurant services to bolster our economy.  When hard times hit, car sales go down, and people forgo eating out.  We saw this happen during the last recession and we got hit hard fiscally as a city.

    Measure A is not a cure-all, but a step in the right direction we should take.”

    That is a very reasonable assessment of Nishi – it is NOT a cure-all for all the city’s problems, and was never intended to be.  But it does go a long way towards addressing some of the city’s problems.  Nishi has the potential to provide much needed: student housing; traffic mitigation at and around Richards underpass; R&D space; new jobs; tax revenue.

  4. dlemongello

    I was at the forum last night and have also been following this issue closely.  No where have I heard or seen anyone propose it be all housing. Quite the opposite, the NO side says it is unfit as a place to live due to the air quality.

    As for these job housing ratios, it is a shuffle that is not possible to predict, many scenarios are likely:  1)People who live here and work elsewhere could now work here with more jobs available 2) People who do not live here could take the new jobs and then want to live here, or still commute from where they live 3) Plenty of people who work here could still not afford to live here as is currently the case 4) The more the housing is taken by new workers the fewer available for students, that of course is an open combined pool of people needing housing.  It will sort itself out but I do not think anyone can predict what the distribution will be. I do however think more jobs are a good thing and I do not think downtown is doing so great that more business would be a negative, especially if the transportation mode is other than automobile.

    1. Dan Carson

      Alan Pryor, the leader of the No on A campaign, has proposed an all-housing version of Nishi Gateway on multiple occasions. He has specifically called for all of the economic development components of the project to be stripped out on the grounds that Davis doesn’t need any jobs. He said this to a room full of people, including when I was present. And yes, you are quite right, that position conflicts completely with the No on A claims about air quality.

      1. The Pugilist

        Davis doesn’t need jobs?  That’s news to me.  Maybe Alan should come on here with a piece that justifies that position.  It seems absurd to me.

  5. Doby Fleeman

    There is one, very important aspect to this jobs discussion that has not been discussed in this thread. And that would pertain to the distinction between employers that operate as non-taxable, public sector or not-for-profit institutions and which are correspondingly released from the obligation to contribute property taxes.

    In other words, from a standpoint of fair-share contributions towards to the overhead, upkeep and maintenance of a given community – not all employers contribute equally to the shared tax burden.

    Our largest employer isn’t even located in Davis.  And, by the same token, the sales tax revenues generated by that employer never make their way back to our city coffers.

    If we look at Davis, in particular, today I would guess that we pretty much have to drop down to our largest grocery store operators and Mori Seiki to find our “largest property tax paying employers”.

    Just didn’t want the conversation to remain hung up on a single, one size fits all, percentage calculation since it doesn’t take into account the significant, quantitative relationship between employer paid taxes and revenues necessary to support essential municipal services.

    Particularly in light of our community’s relative shortages of commercial property and sales tax revenues, the Nishi Project really should be viewed in the context of a cornerstone element to a longer term strategy for a financially sustainable municipal operating budget.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    1. Frankly

      Good point.  Those that think we can just live off the soft money of UCD fail to realize that UCD does not inject much of that soft money into the city coffers.

  6. Alan Pryor

    that position conflicts completely with the No on A claims about air quality

    Dan Carson – Please have the courtesy to quote me completely rather than selectively parsing my words in the future.

    What I have said consistently (and repeated very clearly last night) is that Nishi air quality is unsuitable for continuous living and exposure to children, expectant mothers, and seniors. This conclusion is based on solid scientific literature as evidenced by Dr. Cahill’s excellent reporting of the numerous peer-reviewed studies of the adverse impacts of transportation-related freeway-derived air pollutants on these particular susceptible groups.

    However, to my knowledge, similar studies concerning adverse impacts of these same pollutants on young adult healthy students with fully developed lungs do not exist. So I have stated that, in my opinion, these students should (?) be able to live at Nishi for several years of their student tenure without substantial long term effects on their respiratory systems. I acknowledge that future studies may prove me wrong but I are working with the existing scientific body of knowledge we now have.

    And based on this existing and extensive body of scientific literature on the adverse impact of these pollutants on these susceptible groups, I firmly believe families with children or pregnant women or retired folks should not buy Nishi property or rent to live there for an extended period because of the potential for long term harm to their respiratory health. And while I believe that short term (e.g. a few years) living there by students will not have a deleterious long term impact on their respiratory systems, the precautionary principle strongly suggests that students should not live there for an extended period of time beyond the necessary minimum time to get their education. I realize this nuanced position puts me at odds with some in the No on Nishi camp and Dr. Cahill who believe no residential uses should be considered at all because of air quality concerns. But I believe my view is consistent with the available scientific evidence we now have.

    I repeat that I have stated this exact same message consistently so, in the future, please try to get this right when you are representing my position on air pollution and residential uses at Nishi. Thank You

    1. Tia Will

      This conclusion is based on solid scientific literature as evidenced by Dr. Cahill’s excellent reporting of the numerous peer-reviewed studies of the adverse impacts of transportation-related freeway-derived air pollutants on these particular susceptible groups.”

      No, Dr. Cahill has based his arguments on some well founded science, some studies far too small to extrapolate to our situation in the case of the issue of pregnancy and autism, some worst case scenario predictions, and some manipulation of emotions based on very low actual numeric risk. This kind of catastrophic medical thinking has led to numerous adverse consequences over the years. I will provide 3 examples.

      First, silicon breast implants. It was in vogue years ago to try to sue the manufacturers of silicon breast implants on behalf on women with auto-immune disorders. This occurred when it was found that women with silicon breast implants had autoimmune disorders. As it turned out with further research and analysis, it was true that women with implants got autoimmune disorders. It was equally true that they got autoimmune disorders at exactly the same rate as women who had never had implants or silicon anywhere in their body.

      Example two. Estrogen replacement therapy. This used to be commonly described for debilitating hot flashes and other peri-menopausal symptoms. That is until the Women’s Health Initiative when it was discovered that women using estrogen and progesterone had a < 1% higher risk of breast cancer than women not using this combination. This led to thousands of women having their prescriptions of any kind of estrogen discontinued by doctors who were now terrified not so much of the diagnosis of cancer, but rather that they might be sued if the diagnosis was made. What later became apparent was that estrogen alone did not have this effect, and there was no increased risk with less than 5 years of use which is more than the amount of time usually needed to get a women through the worst of her symptoms. So thousands and thousands of women who were benefitting from estrogen were scared away from the use of a medicine from which they benefited based on unfounded fears.

      Most recently, we have Ebola. The chances of an American citizen who had not traveled to one of the affected west African nations, or directly participated in the health care of such an individual was approaching zero, and yet many millions of dollars were spent to assuage the irrational fears induced by a news cycle fed by fear.

      I doubt that you will find anyone who posts on the Vanguard who places a higher priority on individual and community health and safety.  But, I believe that decisions be made on evidence, not fear and speculation and extrapolation. I have reviewed Dr. Cahill’s information ( or consulted with those better equipped to process the numbers) and I do not share his catastrophic suppositions about this site.

    2. Don Shor

      This has been discussed previously:
      https://www.davisvanguard.org/2015/11/expert-questions-the-air-quality-at-nishi/
      My opinion hasn’t changed:

      IMO if the project meets Air Resources Board guidelines, and the developers are making an effort to incorporate his recommendations in living areas and businesses, there is not a valid basis for blocking the project on air quality concerns. That doesn’t mean they aren’t real, it’s just a matter of risk assessment, likely exposure, the fact that these are short-term residential units, and it is a choice to live there. They aren’t proposing low-income housing, townhouses, or anything that might be attractive long-term to families. These are apartments.

      Apparently Alan Pryor’s opinion of Dr. Cahill has changed. https://www.davisvanguard.org/2015/11/expert-questions-the-air-quality-at-nishi/#comment-296725

      1. Alan Pryor

         
        Yep my opinion has changed. I read a whole lot more about the adverse impacts of freeway pollution and actually did some computer dispersion modeling using EPA software like I did years ago with wood smoke. New Harmony and Nishi are completely different in terms of their topography and the direction of prevailing winds relative to the freeway and railroad tracks . Nishi is downwind from prevailing winds and sits down in a “bowl” allowing pollutants to downdraft and settle in the low-lying areas particularly during winter months with inversions – just as Dr. Cahill stated.
         

        1. ryankelly

          Alan, I think I’m being generous in saying that your campaign’s use of the description “toxic” to describe the air quality is misleading and fearmongering.  The air is nowhere near toxic. You don’t mention that the air quality would likely improve on the property with the planting of an urban forest, and the removal of farming on the property.  It is clear that you changed your mind once.  You are allowed to change it again.

    3. Rob White

      As recently pointed out by John Oliver (and the interwebs and science community seem to agree that is was very well done), “studies” and “science” backed claims are not always what they seem.

      Here is one of but many links to see what I am referencing… http://www.newsweek.com/john-oliver-last-week-tonight-scientific-studies-457343

      In the case of No on A, we have one well-respected but lone researcher making statements (and some would say edicts) regarding air quality concerns. Though I don’t suggest we dismiss Dr. Cahill’s views, we can also see in the City-directed EIR that several other respected and highly-trained professionals have come up with mitigations for these air quality issues, making the point rather mute.

      This same universal treatment of fitting study results (or even just opinions) in support of the opposition to Nishi Gateway seems to be balanced thinly with very little (if any) facts. Many, many hours were invested into this project, first by the professional staff of the City and the City’s consultants (which were not selected by the project supporters), then community meetings (of which very few people in Davis attended), then commission meetings, and of course meetings with the university, and finally City Council hearings. To even intimate that the project findings in the EIR and supporting docs are not based on best available practice is spurious at best.

      I respect many of the people that are in opposition. It is their single vote to do with as they please. But to use the scare tactic of invoking studies or science as supporting these non-factual claims is beyond reasonable. Just state why you don’t like the project and move on. Others can equally state their preferences and the civil discourse can continue. But the facts are the facts… and this project has many studies and science behind it. Feel free to read the EIR in its entirety this weekend. You can find it online here:

      http://cityofdavis.org/city-hall/community-development-and-sustainability/development-projects/nishi-gateway-final-eir

  7. Dan Carson

    So, you have again confirmed your position that (1) in your view we don’t need any more jobs in Davis and that therefore (2) you would strip out all of the office and R&D from the project and replace it with housing.

    I didn’t mischaracterize your position on the air quality issue. I voiced my own opinion that your position conflicts with the No on A position on air quality.  I am allowed to do that.  Thank you for acknowledging, as you just did, that you don’t agree with the blanket fear-mongering of some folks on your side on this issue and that you think putting certain kinds of housing there is OK

    You just said,  ” I believe my view is consistent with the available scientific evidence we now have.” In other words, to follow your statement to its logical conclusion, the overblown statements made by others on your side are NOT consistent with the available scientific evidence we now have. I completely agree.

    Thank you for that clarification of your position.  I am sure Davis voters will find that helpful.  I am sure this will also be useful information for the judge someday reviewing the air quality claims contained in your side’s lawsuit against the project.

    1. Alan Pryor

      There you go again, Dan, trying to parse my words to your political advantage. Let’s try it again. There is no official “No on Nishi” position on air pollution or any other Nishi-related issue for that matter. That is a figment of your over-active political imagination.

      That said, many people who oppose Nishi have many different opinions on the subject of air pollution at Nishi which cover the spectrum from believing there should be absolutely no residential housing on Nishi at all to thinking is not a serious concern. Their beliefs are based on their personal research or understanding of the situation or the faith they place in the credibility of Dr. Cahill (which is quite high in Davis, by the way). But those No on Nishi folks who think air pollution is not a matter of grave concern can have a variety of other reasons they oppose the project that range from traffic impacts, developer give-aways (e.g. the $1.7 million rebate to the developer from traffic impact fees), exemption of Nishi from affordable housing requirements, and economic projections they do not believe. But so you don’t run off with a burr in your britches again, let me emphasize that not all people who oppose Nishi have all of these same objections to the Nishi projects and there is NO official No on Nishi policies on any of these.

      I’d also try not to characterize those who fervently believe that the air quality concerns are sufficient reason to vote against Nishi as “fear-mongering” using “overblown statements”. I have a pretty thick skin during political campaigns so it doesn’t bother me and I realize that type of hyperbole sells in this age of Donald Trump. But it could offend enough other people who have a very high regard for Dr. Cahill in this community that you start turning people off from other arguments you might make to support the project.

    2. Alan Pryor

      So, you have again confirmed your position that (1) in your view we don’t need any more jobs in Davis and that therefore (2) you would strip out all of the office and R&D from the project and replace it with housing.

      Boy you are just not going to let this jobs thing go, are you, Dan?  So please write this down on your hand so you remember it all this time.

      My position is that we need “affordable” student housing at Nishi much more than we need jobs at Nishi. My position is that affordable student housing at Nishi will generate more sales tax revenue and property tax revenue for the City than R&D facilities at Nishi. My position is that affordable student housing at Nishi will lower overall project GHG emissions compared to R&D facilities at Nishi. My position is that affordable housing at Nishi instead of R&D buildings would lower traffic demand sufficiently that any Olive Dr access could be limited to public transit and emergency vehicles and greatly minimize adverse traffic impacts on Richards Blvd. My position is that all affordable student housing at Nishi will have a more beneficial impact on the quality of life in Davis than will construction of R&D facilities by moving more students out of single-family home neighborhoods. So yes, Dan, I would rather see all affordable student housing at Nishi than R&D buildings.

      That is not to say, however,  that even this is enough for me to support the project, however. There are still the matters of ensuring sufficient sustainability measures are implemented for the affordable student housing , eliminating the exemption of the project from the Davis Affordable Housing Ordinance, and ensuring the developer pays their fair share of project expenses incurred by the City.

      Got all that? Did you write it down this time?

  8. Dan Carson

    You just said the No on A campaign has no official position on the air pollution issue.  But your own campaign postcard contradicts your position that housing is OK there.

    The postcard distributed in our neighborhood recently by your campaign states that “No housing should be built in Nishi due to unmitigated health hazards…due to dangerous health hazards at the site leading to respiratory disease, particularly in children and expectant mothers.  Due to the site’s location between the highly congested freeway and heavily used railroad tracks, air quality at Nishi would be the most polluted in the region.”

    The postcard says, “Paid for by No On Measure A — No On Nishi.” It lists your personal home address as the sender.

    This is not a figment of my imagination. This document is real.

    Do you publicly disown these statements distributed by your own campaign? What is more “official” than your own campaign literature?

    And you have now passed up several opportunities to explain why you believe Davis has all the jobs it needs and doesn’t need any more.

    1. Alan Pryor

      As I repeatedly stated, based on the wealth of information  provided by Dr. Cahill I personally believe living and being exposed to air pollution at Nishi will probably have generally deleterious effects on young children with developing lungs, expectant mothers, and seniors with impaired respiratory systems. I also stated I believe that there is no similar evidence to indicate that living at Nishi would have related adverse respiratory impacts on a healthy young adult if the indoor air quality at Nishi was sufficiently maintained with HEPA filtration and their living tenure at Nishi were limited to a few years. This belief is not shared by most of the other volunteers at No on Nishi and certainly not by Dr. Cahill. They otherwise strongly believe there should be not be any residential uses at all at Nishi. And I just couldn’t seem to get why they felt so strongly that way in the absence of specific scientific evidence of harm to young adults.

      However, the following Letter to the Editor published on 5-12-16 shows both the personal depth and basis of much of the public’s concerns with Nishi air quality much better than could I explain (BTW – I do not know the author nor is she connected to the No on Nishi campaign in any way):

      Hey kids, don’t open a window
      by Letters to the Editor

      I typically don’t like to weigh in publicly on election-year vitriol, but a recent Yes on A flier really got my goat. The brochure’s front picture features a happy family of four biking in a deciduous forest (deciduous forest? In Davis? With no helmets? Was this shot in Holland?). The inside is more of the same: a bike path, a family of four, mom, dad, two kids. More of this on the back, too. You must think the Nishi project plans for parks and bike paths for families.
      Then you read the bullet points: jobs, tax revenue, innovation park. Where’s the controversy in that? Right here, bullet point 4, “Preserving Quality of Life: Nishi will provide housing for 1,500 UC Davis students.” Wait, what?
      What about the families in all those pictures? How is this for them? Here’s how: By “protecting our neighborhoods from mini-dorms and contributing $1 million to Davis’ affordable housing.” There we go. Let’s create a high-density student ghetto by the freeway so the rest of us can reap tax dollars and affordable housing kickbacks, away from the students.
      Why do I call this a ghetto? What else do you call housing near not just any freeway, but one of the densest roadways in the region, spewing not only noxious fumes and ultra-fine particulate matter, but brake dust and diesel exhaust. We have one of the nation’s foremost experts on air quality in our own town warning about this, and he studied air quality at Ground Zero.
      No one in 2016 would build high-density housing near a congested freeway, right? We all know about the clear links with asthma and other respiratory ailments, right? Certainly you wouldn’t want families to live there. So let’s put the students there. We’ll equip the apartments with 95-percent efficient HEPA filters, and hope they never open a window, hang out on the balconies or near a barbecue, let alone go jogging around their neighborhood. Stay in the air-conditioning, please.
      Tell you what, let’s make sure we don’t build outdoor areas, and to offset the carbon footprint of all-fossil-fuel heat, air-conditioning and ventilation, let’s load these structures with solar panels.
      We love living in a college town; let’s just make sure the college students don’t live among us, keep their windows shut, and contribute to our tax and affordable housing coffers. Heck, with all the fixtures these apartments are going to need, no wonder the flier was sponsored by the mechanical, electrical and plumbing unions.

      1. South of Davis

        Alan posted Nicole’s letter from the Enterprise that said:

        > No one in 2016 would build high-density housing near a congested freeway, right?

        It has not been long since the Cesar Chavez Plaza opened for poor people on the other side of Olive and there are plans by a Bay Area developer to build more housing just across the street (closer to the freeway than the Nishi apartments).  Driving around the region you can see thousands of apartment units that were built in the last few years (including the hundreds off I80 in Vacaville under construction today) closer to freeways than Nishi.

        > We all know about the clear links with asthma and

        > other respiratory ailments, right?

        Only the No on A Nishi people believe this lie (if it were true the poor kids at Cesar Chavez Plaza that backs on to I80 would have asthma and the poor kids a the Rosa Parks apartment on 5th would not).

        P.S. to David don’t you need the OK from the author to post 100% of an article or letter?

      2. Odin

        Thank you Alan for exposing this development for what it is.  I saw the brochure and the first thing that hit me was the contradiction that we are being sold that Nishi is for student housing yet they advertise it as being suitable for families.  I’m sure this is just the beginning of the onslaught of brochures (just like Covell Village) that we will receive.  They have to spend that $160K they have somewhere…right?

  9. Tia Will

    Why do I call this a ghetto? What else do you call housing near not just any freeway, but one of the densest roadways in the region”

    I certainly would not call a housing development a “ghetto” based on location alone. When I work across the street from Cal Expo in Sacramento I drive along the I-80 where the New Home company is building large and probably quite expensive homes within a stone’s throw of the very impacted business loop. While I believe that this is a poorly placed development where I would not want to live, I certainly do not consider it a “ghetto”.

    1. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > I certainly do not consider it a “ghetto”

      Neither do the No on A people (when they are calling it a “high priced luxury development for rich students”)…

  10. Tia Will

    Odin

    Thank you Alan for exposing this development for what it is”

    I think that Alan’s comment about the flyer says far more about the pitfalls of hyperbole, whether verbal or pictorial than it does about the project itself. I agree that there will probably be no such Nirvana like living circumstance  as depicted in the flyer created at Nishi. I also dislike the candidate flyers that come out at election season stating that every candidate is listening to me and working for me…..including those whose ideas I directly oppose. This is all about glossy attention grabbing name recognition promotion. There is nothing of substance here and we should not pretend that there is.

    Likewise, we should not pretend that a hyperbolic picture means that the project does not havmerits which need to be weighed along with the potential downsides.

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am thoroughly tired of the “good guys vs bad guys” framing of the issues and will be very glad to have this all over with within a month. Then we can get on with the likely entirely rational , calm, collected debate focused on issues only for our nation’s highest elected office.

  11. nameless

    Alan Pryor: “As I repeatedly stated, based on the wealth of information  provided by Dr. Cahill I personally believe living and being exposed to air pollution at Nishi will probably have generally deleterious effects on young children with developing lungs, expectant mothers, and seniors with impaired respiratory systems. I also stated I believe that there is no similar evidence to indicate that living at Nishi would have related adverse respiratory impacts on a healthy young adult if the indoor air quality at Nishi was sufficiently maintained with HEPA filtration and their living tenure at Nishi were limited to a few years.

    Nice “spin” to try and explain away the fact that the No on A side has advocated the contradictory positions of all housing and no housing on Nishi at the same time.  Such contradictions go straight to the issue of credibility or lack thereof.

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