By Beth Annon Lovering
Owning a small business in Davis isn’t always easy. My lease, payroll, taxes, and other expenses all add up, and we have to work around the ebb and flow of the UCD schedule when students disappear in summer and during breaks. And there are weekdays where the foot traffic is light. For businesses like mine, new customers close to downtown could make all the difference in the world.
I’ll be voting yes on Measure A, because it is good for Davis and good for downtown especially. In my experience, most of the customers for my business are Davis residents. We get and welcome customers from all over the region, but what sustains my business are our neighbors.
The Nishi Gateway includes 650 new housing units for students, seniors, and young professionals, and there will be hundreds of new workers at the R&D spaces. Those people will be my neighbors – people who live and work within walking and biking distance of my business.
The promotion of a vibrant downtown is a proven economic development strategy and strengthens our community. Cities across the nation are investing in their core areas where people want to live and work. Nishi offers a unique chance to support our downtown and Davis values. That’s why it has been identified as the top economic development priority by city leaders. The Davis Downtown is the hub of our community for jobs, innovation and a place we all come together. Measure A will help strengthen the downtown core area.
I appreciate that the developers are designing Nishi to encourage people to leave the car behind. Davis does a great job cultivating a biking culture, and anecdotally, I find that our city’s most avid bicyclists are people who enthusiastically patronize local businesses.
Given its ideal location directly between UC Davis and downtown, Measure A goes to great lengths to promote bicycling, including hundreds of bike parking spots and miles of new bike paths, and dedicated bike lanes. Most important, Measure A creates a separated biking path along the Richards Boulevard, protecting bicyclists from vehicles. This separation puts an end to the dangerous weave conditions where I-80 meets Richards. Folks living and working at Nishi can patronize downtown without driving there.
It’s estimated that the Nishi Gateway will produce $385 million in economic activity and 1,500 jobs, much focused downtown. Nishi will also provide our city with $1.4 million of revenue every year, raising about as much money as our city’s parcel tax. It does all this without any new taxes.
If Measure A fails, Davis will miss a tremendous opportunity. 1,500 fewer jobs will be created. The city’s financial picture will deteriorate, and we’ll lose this rare chance to upgrade street conditions and access to downtown. Davis is a great place, but we can’t ignore the critical needs of our city. When we are given the choice to help our locally-owned businesses or to hurt them, to give people job opportunities or to lose them, the choice is obvious to me. I encourage supporters of our downtown to vote yes on Measure A.
Beth Annon Lovering is the Owner of B&L Bike Shop