Commentary: The First Answer Doesn’t Have to Be NO

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Developer Dan Ramos discusses the previous project during January Vanguard Event
Developer Dan Ramos discusses the previous project during January Vanguard event

The Mace Ranch Innovation Center (MRIC) proposal coming back to council has lit up a normally low period in the news cycle.  MRIC has come back on the table with a stripped down 102-acre proposal but a stepped up timeline, hoping to get it on the November ballot.

Yesterday I got a call to action asking for people to come to the council meeting “to speak against the fast tracking of the Mace Ranch Innovation Center.”  The concerns laid out are legitimate – “Once again, this will be a violation of process, one of the same problems with Nishi.  There is insufficient time for a full public process if council is to get this proposal on the November ballot.  That gives the city, the council and the public a little over a month to work out all the details, present to various commissions, do a complete fiscal analysis on pluses and minuses for the city, among other issues.”

These are legitimate concerns for sure, in fact not one person I have talked to – councilmember or city manager – was unaware that this would be a very tight timeline.  Maybe even too tight.

My concern is this – the initial response to challenges always seems to be the word “no.”   It is not, “Hey, we know we have a tight timeline, let’s see if we can’t make something work before saying no.”  It is simply no.

So let us start with this – is the answer always going to be no, no matter what?  In other words, if you are against a project on Mace or any peripheral area, just say it up front.  You are entitled to that view, but let us not go into false pretenses about a project if you are always going to oppose new development there.

I will put my cards on the table here.  I support in concept the idea of an innovation center on the full 218 acres of the Mace Ranch Innovation Center proposal.

First, as the budget analysis demonstrates, we are in desperate need of additional revenue in this community.

Second, Mace is a good location in that it has immediate freeway access.  It has proximity to county access roads.  And it has proximity to the rail tracks.

Third, some have called this sprawl, but this is a property that is effectively walled off.  To the east and to the north, Mace 391 has been put into a conservation easement, therefore, the project does not open us up to more development toward the east.

That does not mean I will automatically support any project there – but I support the idea in concept.  And as a non-profit, the Vanguard will remain neutral on any Measure R vote.

Everyone involved knows that this is going to be an extremely heavy lift to get it on the ballot for November.  I have heard various deadlines for doing so, but one date I have heard is that everything must be worked out by July 26.  That effectively means early July for the council to act.

While some point out the development agreement will not be done in time for the deadline, the development agreement was not done for Measure P – Wildhorse Ranch – before the deadline either.  Of course, that proved a problem for the ballot measure.

The EIR would have to be somehow reworked to account for the scaled-down proposal.  There would have to be sufficient economic analysis – as an innovation center, one could argue that the amount of expected revenue is perhaps the most important measurement.

We would have to figure out the sustainability features.  We would have to figure out traffic impacts.

Can we get all of this done in four to six weeks?  Probably not.  But we don’t have to say no tonight.  We could spend tonight trying to figure out the art of the possible, while still adhering to the proper process.

A short time frame doesn’t necessarily mean a bad process.  Expediting a matter doesn’t necessarily mean we should doom it.

People kept asking during the Measure A campaign for Nishi – what is the rush?  The answer was in part that it really wasn’t rushed because the process had played out over a period of years.  The other answer is that part of the rush was the artificial time barriers that a vote creates.  In other words, Nishi wanted to go on the ballot in June in part because, otherwise, it would have to wait until November and that would generate questions and uncertainties about what else would be up for a vote.

For MRIC, there are three reasons to push for a quicker vote.  First, there are concerns about Schilling Robotics.  I know people want to downplay it, but that is tax revenue for the city and jobs that are on the line.  We knew previously that they had a tight timeline for looking elsewhere – what we don’t know today is what that timeline is.

Second, read the economic analysis in the budget.  We have a huge backlog of projects and needs, and insufficient revenue to address them long-term.  MRIC is a long-term project, but crucial for our long-term strategy.

Third, this November election figures to have 80-percent voter participation.  A special election in March will cost more money for the applicant and have a much smaller universe of voters.  If you have millions on the line, you want to go in November if at all possible.  If you want community-based decisions, do you want elections determined by 35 percent of the voters or 80 percent of the voters?  I hope the answer here is clear.

In the end, I suspect the answer will end up being that this is too tight for council’s comfort. I believe we should push ahead so that the fallback position is for a March 2017 vote – whatever we do now is stuff that doesn’t have to happen later.

I just don’t think we have to say no tonight – we can wait to see what is possible and even try to work to make it possible, if we believe in concept that there should be some sort of project there as opposed to no project.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

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

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96 thoughts on “Commentary: The First Answer Doesn’t Have to Be NO”

  1. Anon

    So let us start with this – is the answer always going to be no, no matter what?  In other words, if you are against a project on Mace or any peripheral area, just say it up front.  You are entitled that that view, but let us not go into false pretenses about project if you are always going to oppose new development there.

    Spot on!

    I just don’t think we have to say no tonight, we can wait to see what is possible and even try to work to make it possible if we believe in concept that there should be some sort of project there as opposed to no project.

    I would like to see the developer explain why they want to push for a November vote.  If their reasons seem defensible and rational, I would next like to see the city and commissions do everything in their power to accommodate the developer, since this project has the potential to bring in much needed tax revenue to the city.  And lastly, I would like to see the City Council and city actually support the project (assuming it is well planned and it is approved) rather than remain neutral.

    1. Barack Palin

      I agree with everything you wrote but want to add that the developer and the city also need to explain the urban reserve issue which we can already tell by the comments is going to be a road block.

      1. Anon

        Apparently there is a misunderstanding about “urban reserve”.  Eileen Samitz is trying to suggest the developer would annex the undeveloped portion of the parcel with the designation “urban reserve” – which is UNTRUE.  According to the article in the Davis Enterprise: “The remaining 110 acres — including the city-owned Mace Triangle — would be set aside as “urban reserve” land, which would be designated for the project at some time in the future but which would require a second Measure R vote to approve city annexation.”  In other words the undeveloped portion of the parcel will not be annexed until there is a Measure R vote, even if this part of the parcel is designated “urban reserve”.

        1. Don Shor

          Actually, I think your quote is incorrect, but that certainly merits clarification. I think they do annex it with the Measure R vote. But what requires a second Measure R vote is the change in zoning/designation that would occur later as well. Which is one of the reasons that I am baffled by the proposal.

        2. Frankly

          My guess is that the 200 acres without housing did not pencil out to enough of a return on investment given risks that the property would not be completely occupied in 20+ years.  I think this assessment was based on a very conservative estimate for absorption that is likely too conservative.  Nevertheless, since we are now talking about 100 acres with 40 acres already pledged, the developer can see a return within 5 or 10 years.  And that then makes the project financial feasible.  And to sweeten the pot the developer is willing to pledge the other half of the project as non-developed urban reserve.

          Take the average expected development return on capital of 8% per year and calculate what ROI would be expected in 20 years versus 10 years.  Then refine this based on risks including future economic downturns, tax increases, bankrupt cities, etc.

          The longer the wait for the ROI the greater the risks and hence the greater expectation for a bigger ROI.

        3. Matt Williams

          Anon

          Anon, there appear to be three possible scenarios. Which one are you advocating for?

          1) Annex the entire 228 acres, establish Innovation Park zoning for the southern 102 acres (including the Mace Triangle), and establish Agricultural zoning for the northern 126 acres (including the City’s 25 acres) subject to a future planning effort and subsequent Measure R vote before any development of the 126 acres may occur.

          2) Annex the entire 228 acres, establish Innovation Park zoning for the southern 102 acres, and establish Urban Reserve zoning for the northern 126 acres, subject to a future planning effort and subsequent Measure R vote before any development of the 126 acres may occur.

          3) Annex the southern 102 acres only, leaving the northern 126 acres in the County.

          4) Something other than the three above.

        4. CalAg

          From the RAMCO letter to the City of Davis dated June 9 , 2016

          “The northern half of the property, including the City’s 25 acres, is requested to be brought into the City with an urban reserve land use designation …” Dan Ramos

          Anon and David Greenwald are incorrect. The letter from the developers is specifically requesting annexation.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Here is the language from the press release: “The updated project includes proposed development of research, manufacturing and commercial facilities on 102 acres at the corner of Mace Boulevard and Interstate 80, and annexation of the originally proposed 228 acres, including the 16-acre Mace Triangle. The project site’s remaining 110 acres to the north of the proposed innovation center development, including 25 acres owned by the City of Davis, is proposed for an urban reserve land-use designation. Any proposed future development there, including housing, would be subject to additional planning and another Measure R vote before it could proceed. “

        5. Matt Williams

          David, that may be the language of the press release, but it does absolutely nothing to explain why an urban reserve zoning and land use designation is better for all the parties than an agricultural zoning and land use designation.

        6. Mark West

          “it does absolutely nothing to explain why an urban reserve zoning and land use designation is better for all the parties…”

          If the entire parcel is annexed into the City, then the 100+ acres not included in the project is not longer under the control of the County. If we leave that section in the County, our only control over development is by virtue of the pass-through agreement alone. If you believe that agreement is completely stable there is no reason to annex that portion into the City, but if you have any doubts, annexation puts the future of the parcel entirely within the control of the City.

          From my perspective annexation of the entire property is the smart move.

        7. Matt Williams

          I agree with you Mark . . . annexation of the entire property is the smart approach, but that isn’t the question I asked. My question is whether (for the northern 126 annexed acres) an urban reserve zoning and land use designation is better for all the parties than an agricultural zoning and land use designation.

      2. Frankly

        Defeating an existing peripheral development project because of fear of a future peripheral development project seems to be a bit irrational.

        1. Tia Will

          Frankly

          Brace yourself. I agree with your point about the irrationality of fear. I firmly believe that each project should be based on its own merits. I would however make one caveat. It is reasonable to ask whether approval of one project may make the approval of another more of less likely and to factor that into the decision making process.

      3. CalAg

        MW: RE; your 2:55 comment, the best land use designation for the entire 228 acres would be R&D.

        If, in the future, the City Council wants to down-zone their 25 acre parcel to urban farm then they can do so without another Measure J/R vote.

        If, in the future, the developer wants to up-zone a portion of their entitled R&D land to high density residential, then they can submit an application and go through another Measure J/R vote if the City Council agrees to put it on the ballot.

        This approach simultaneously maximizes the economic development outcome and maximizes the City’s leverage re: benefits to the City.

        In my opinion, confusing the voters with urban reserve – given the developer’s track record on both Mace Ranch and the MRIC proposal, as well as this new attempt to super-fast track an ambiguous proposal to the ballot – almost certainly dooms the project in November.

        1. Matt Williams

          Thank you CalAg for that thoughtful and interesting answer. In the terms of my 11:55 comment, it is definitely category 4).  Also it is definitely an alternative that should be considered.  I suspect lots of Davis voters would like its clarity and simplicity.

    2. Matt Williams

      Anon said . . . “And lastly, I would like to see the City Council and city actually support the project (assuming it is well planned and it is approved) rather than remain neutral.”

      A number of times over the years I have been told by City staff that they are required by law to scrupulously avoid any kind of advocacy for or against any project that they must rule on.  If that is correct, then your stated desire is illegal.  If it is not correct then we need to educate our City employees on what truly is correct.

      1. Mark West

        Matt – That may be true for City Staff, but it cannot be true for the politicians. Their primary job is to work to improve the City, including advocating for projects that they support. There is nothing stopping the Mayor (or other Member) from being the greatest cheerleader of a project. Especially since they are not the ones ‘ruling’ on the project when you consider the requirement for a Measure R vote.

        1. Matt Williams

          Understood Mark, but what Anon appeared to be advocating for was for both the City Council and the city to actually support the project.  The Council is easy.  They were explicitly clear in the Nishi situation where they stood.

          However, staff was much more problematic.  Staff left standing inaccurate statements without correcting them.  For example they did not clarify that the $10 million construction cost was for the whole Richards corridor including the I-80 Interchange and the Olive-Richards intersection and everything in between.  Nor did they clarify what a “fee credit” meant vis-a-vis Transportation Impact Fees.

        2. Mark West

          “They were explicitly clear in the Nishi situation where they stood.”

          With the exception of Rochelle, they were essentially silent on the subject other than their official votes and comments. You cannot claim that any were out in front advocating for the project, as would likely have been beneficial in our current environment of distrust.

          City Staff should have appropriately responded to false claims or statements.  That is not advocacy, but rather informative.  If they failed to do so, then there may be a reason for the CC to formally admonish the City Manager on the subject.

  2. Tia Will

    There is insufficient time for a full public process if council is to get this proposal on the November ballot”

    I do not see,when Rochelle Swanson, Lucas Frerichs, and Dan Wolk all cited inadequate time for public discussion of something so straightforward as a soda tax, with details already worked out by the Berkeley model, that these three could in good conscience state that there is enough time for a full consideration of the MRIC proposal in its current iteration. I will grant that the major change is a downsizing, but that is still major change with the possibility for less revenue generation which is ostensibly the whole point of its proposal.

    I am neither opposed nor in favor to the new proposal for the simple reason that this is the first time it has been suggested and there has been no time for appropriate vetting. Based on that alone, I am against the November deadline.

    1. Misanthrop

      Another problem with Measure R is that the election calendar drives the timeline.

      This is likely a Hail Mary attempt to keep Schilling’s new factory in Davis. We will hopefully get an answer on that tonight. So if Schilling shows up tonight and says now or never what would you expect the CC to do? I would expect them to put it on the ballot when faced with the prospect of losing Schilling’s new factory.

      1. Tia Will

        Misanthrop

        So if Schilling shows up tonight and says now or never what would you expect the CC to do? “

        I would expect that they would consider this to be economic blackmail and a terrible precedent to set. Is there ever any one business that we should allow to dictate the terms and timeline of community decision making ?

         

        1. Anon

          To Tia Will: It is amazing to me how cavalier you are about business in Davis.  The tax revenue generated by business in Davis, including Schilling, is what helps pay for the services you enjoy.

        2. Misanthrop

          Calling it economic blackmail would be correct if they hadn’t set the deadline two years ago.

          Two years ago they came before the CC and asked for an early up or down advisory vote to be held November 2014. That idea was rejected and instead they said they would wait for a November 2016 election.

          Rather than blackmail I think this shows Schilling’s commitment to Davis. Schilling is part of FMC Technologies(FTI-NYSE). I have little doubt that if not for the parent company’s respect for Schilling they would have made plans to build elsewhere. In fact they probably have a contingency to build in West Sac or elsewhere right now. I thought when the plan was put on hold it was because the price of oil was too low but since that time oil prices have stabilized and FTI has announced plans to merge with another oil services company. What you see as blackmail might be instead the end of the tunnel for Schilling with the parent company telling him to stick to the November deadline. They might even have looked at the Measure A outcome and said forget it Tyler the town you want to live in is nuts. So rather than blackmail I see this as Schilling pushing back on his bosses saying they agreed to wait until November 16 and hoping that if he lays it out for the people of Davis they will get their heads out of the sand.

          We will know tonight if my speculations are correct.

        3. The Pugilist

          It’s not economic blackmail, as Misanthrop points out, they put their cards on the table two years ago.  They have timelines.  We can choose not to adhere to those timelines and lose their business here.  I don’t think that’s a wise idea however.

      2. Matt Williams

        This latest twist in the MRIC saga reminds me of the sign that was posted over our office administrator’s desk . . . “Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part”

      3. Tia Will

        Misanthrop

        Another problem with Measure R is that the election calendar drives the timeline.”

        I do not disagree with your statement that the election calendar drives the timeline. However, I do not see this as a problem. I assume that professional developers hoping to pass a successful project in Davis are well aware of the timeline years in advance.

        It would seem to me that planning the timing of a proposed development would be very much like the planning of any major project ( in my case, a surgery). If you know in advance that a Cesarean delivery will be needed, you have about 8.5 months to plan, make sure that the mother is in the best physical health possible, make sure you have the gestational age correct, make sure that you will have access to the OR and an operating team, get her blood work done in advance….and a myriad of other factors that must come together for a successful delivery. What you don’t do is to tell her to plan for a vaginal birth, oh, wait no….let’s make it a forceps assisted delivery, oh wait, no …..let’s make it a Cesarean ….and by the way, even though there is no medical emergency, tomorrow is the only day I will do your delivery, so just make up your mind now, or no delivery.

        Ramos and company are professional developers. I would not think that it would be all the difficult to ensure that they had a plan that was acceptable to the city, based on previous instructions and multiple meetings with CC members and staff and could have planned for enough time for community vetting of the well established plan.

         

  3. Don Shor

    While some point out the development agreement will not be done in time for the deadline – the development agreement was not done for Measure P, Wildhorse Ranch, before the deadline either.  Of course that proved a problem for the ballot measure.

    In my opinion, the development agreement on this one needs to be detailed, explicit, chiseled in stone, and contain a proviso for zero modifications for something like a decade or it won’t be worth much — all before the project goes on the ballot.

      1. Don Shor

        I am uniquely skeptical about this project due to the prior history. And I say that as someone who has basically supported development on that site from the start. I don’t want them to kill their own project.
        I don’t sense they’re getting the best political advice on all of this.

          1. Don Shor

            I have repeatedly stated over several years now that I support the development of a business park on this site. The fact that Mace 391 is in a conservation easement is a big part of why I support this.

        1. hpierce

          True story… plus things happen in the economy, etc. that neither party could have anticipated (unlike the Cannery CFD debacle), and both parties need a mechanism to adjust and deal with that, without compromising the basic parameters, spirit, and intent of the development approvals.

    1. Mark West

      “In my opinion, the development agreement on this one needs to be detailed, explicit, chiseled in stone, and contain a proviso for zero modifications for something like a decade or it won’t be worth much — all before the project goes on the ballot.”

      This is a statement of opposition to the project and a demonstration of an apparent lack of knowledge about how development projects and development agreements work.

      1. Don Shor

        This is a statement of opposition to the project

        False.

        and a demonstration of an apparent lack of knowledge about how development projects and development agreements work.

        False. Well done as usual, Mark.

        1. Mark West

          Setting a precondition for your support is a form of opposition. Your comment sets a precondition. Fact.

          At this point, you have no good excuse not to understand how development agreements work, and the importance of flexibility for both sides. Your demand for “detailed, explicit, chiseled in stone, and contain a proviso for zero modifications” is either a demonstration of an apparent lack of knowledge or is completely disingenuous. I gave you the benefit of the doubt.

          1. Don Shor

            False again, Mark.
            At all levels.
            I don’t wish to insult this development team, but they have made so many conflicting proposals and justifications and abrupt changes that I don’t find them, um, consistent or reliable as to what they are proposing. There is recent and current history of developers wishing to make substantive changes to development agreements shortly after approval or project completion. Thus with a development team that has already demonstrated inconsistency, it will be necessary for the city council to negotiate a firm and essentially unshakeable development agreement, and make it clear that it isn’t just some kind of interim document. My rhetoric was intentionally unambiguous — some might say hyperbolic — in order to make the point that the development agreement has to be very firm.
            I am not making any precondition that isn’t already in place, Mark: there has to be a development agreement. Fact. It has to be strong. My opinion. Maybe not your opinion; perhaps you’re ok with weak, wiggly, ambiguous, easily-modified development agreements that can be changed to the developer’s whim within a year or so of project approval. We certainly have a history of that locally and I guess you’re ok with that.
            I know exactly how development agreements work, and I’m not being disingenuous.
            I hope I’ve made myself clear, but just in case I haven’t: I support business parks at Mace, next to the hospital, and at Nishi. Any statement otherwise is false.

        2. South of Davis

          Mark wrote:

          > This is a statement of opposition to the project

          The Don wrote:

          > False.

          If you are not in opposition to the project can I send your name to Ramos so he can add you to the list of those in support of the project?

          Mark wrote:

          > and a demonstration of an apparent lack of

          > knowledge about how development projects

          > and development agreements work.

          Then Don wrote:

          > False. Well done as usual, Mark.

           

          Can you tell us about the “detailed, explicit, chiseled in stone, and contain a proviso for zero modifications for something like a decade”  DA that you are familiar with (and if an actual “chisel was used to cut the stone of if they used the more popular power tools at a monument company)?

          1. Don Shor

            Mark wrote:

            > This is a statement of opposition to the project
            The Don wrote:
            > False.
            If you are not in opposition to the project can I send your name to Ramos so he can add you to the list of those in support of the project?

            Those are the only two possible positions? For the moment, I’ll take Door #3, Monty.

            Can you tell us about the “detailed, explicit, chiseled in stone, and contain a proviso for zero modifications for something like a decade” DA that you are familiar with (and if an actual “chisel was used to cut the stone of if they used the more popular power tools at a monument company)?

            Look up “figure of speech” and “metaphor.”

        3. Frankly

          Don: I think the reason they have made conflicting proposals is that it’s difficult to make things work in Davis.

          I was going to post the same.

          Saddle a developer with the Measure R crap-shoot and then complain that the developer isn’t steady Eddie.  That isn’t rational.

          Measure R makes everyone play poker instead of just coming to the table with their best offer and then negotiating in good faith.

        4. Mark West

          Don –

          When you make a statement such as “the development agreement on this one needs to be detailed, explicit, chiseled in stone, and contain a proviso for zero modifications” you are setting a precondition for your support. Any precondition, no matter how trivial or banal, is a statement that may be accurately translated as ‘my way or the highway.’ You may wish for there to be an iron-clad development agreement, and might even advocate for the same, but once you make it a requirement for your support you make yourself an opponent of the project. If our goal is to create the best project, any ‘my way or the highway’ type of statement needs to be rejected and the speaker called out as an opponent. The only way to create the ‘best project possible,’ is if we all reserve judgement until the final proposal is in place and we can judge it in total as a balance of competing desires. Anyone who states ‘I will support it if…’ or ‘I won’t support it unless…’ or other iterations of the same ilk, is an opponent of the project, an opponent of economic development, and an opponent of change.

          1. Don Shor

            Anyone who states ‘I will support it if…’ or ‘I won’t support it unless…’

            You just keep digging your hole deeper and deeper. I didn’t say those things, Mark.

            you make yourself an opponent of the project.

            I am not an opponent of the project.

            , is an opponent of the project, an opponent of economic development, and an opponent of change.

            Nope. Nope. And nope.
            I have a long record on this blog of my support for economic development, for business parks at all three of the sites identified by the innovation park task force, and for one of the previous iterations of the project for this site.
            I put my name out in public in an op-ed in support of Nishi. Did you? Would someone who opposes economic development and who opposes change do that, Mark?
            I am not an opponent of economic development.
            I am not an opponent of change.
            That is just becoming a mind-numbingly bizarre falsehood for you to repeat these things in the face of obvious, substantive, unequivocal evidence to the contrary.

  4. ryankelly

    For some, the first and last answer will be “no.”   It may be a tight deadline for commissions, but what else are they doing?  I think people who are on these commissions want time to pick it apart and come up with reasons to say “no.”  I’d say that they need to set aside their suspicions of government and developers and get to work to look at the project. Enough with the complaints about process.

    1. Barack Palin

       I think people who are on these commissions want time to pick it apart and come up with reasons to say “no.” 

      Watch out, that won’t sit too well with some of our contributors on here.  Take it from someone who knows.

      1. The Pugilist

        I think people do want to use the commissions to pick it apart and kill it – but if you look at the work of the planning commission and the finance and budget on Nishi, that’s not what they did.  You never answered to that point last week.

        1. Mark West

          The answer is that every commission has its own mandate. As a generalization, some work in support of development and the creation of new revenues while others work in support of conservation and the creation of new expenses. Both offer value to the community and it is the responsibility of the City Council to find the balance between the two extremes.  This is one of those times where the City Council needs to determine whether that balance point favors growing revenues or growing expenses.

    2. Matt Williams

      ryankelly said . . . “I think people who are on these commissions want time to pick it apart and come up with reasons to say “no.”

      I completely disagree ryan.  Take a look at the list of the 12 Commissions.  Which of those Commissions do you think are prejudiced to say “no” to a development proposal?

      Bicycling, Transportation, and Street Safety Commission
      Civic Arts Commission
      Finance and Budget Commission
      Historical Resources Management Commission
      Human Relations Commission
      Natural Resources Commission
      Open Space and Habitat Commission
      Planning Commission
      Recreation and Park Commission
      Senior Citizen Commission
      Social Services Commission
      Tree Commission

      1. hpierce

        Matt… would anticipate split votes on each… agreed, pretty much all would pass it, but rest assured, there are enough zealots on each that would oppose, due to their individual ‘world-views’… no way it would be unanimous on pretty much any of those commissions…

        1. Matt Williams

          I have a hard time imagining that many split votes pierce.

          Bicycling, Transportation, and Street Safety Commission = possible traffic issues, but original project was well vetted, so don’t see any residual “no” votes

          Civic Arts Commission = no civic arts issues, so don’t see any “no” votes

          Finance and Budget Commission = this is the one commission that could feel there is a substantial amount of heavy lifting still to do.  The applicant did not even show up for the FBC meeting where the negative fiscal analysis was presented by EPS

          Historical Resources Management Commission = no historical land or building issues, so don’t see any “no” votes

          Human Relations Commission = no human relations issues, so don’t see any “no” votes

          Natural Resources Commission = definitely carbon footprint concerns.  Original project was well vetted, but there are definitely some possible “no” votes on NRC

          Open Space and Habitat Commission = definitely open space concerns.  Original project was well vetted, and there are quite a few possible “no” votes

          Planning Commission = not sure whether there are possible “no” votes

          Recreation and Park Commission = possible parks issues, but original project was well vetted, so don’t see any residual “no” votes

          Senior Citizen Commission = no senior issues, so don’t see any “no” votes

          Social Services Commission = no social services issues, so don’t see any “no” votes

          Tree Commission = = no trees issues, so don’t see any “no” votes

  5. Frankly

    There are three agendas for demanding delays of an already significantly planned and vetted project:

    1. Want it killed and just need as much time as possible to build a campaign of FUD against it.

    2. Are worried about the former and want as much time as possible to combat it.

    3. Want perfection.

    None of these three are acceptable.

    1. The Pugilist

      There is a fourth, they don’t want perfection but they want something better than what is proposed.  Now on Nishi, I wanted something better but I felt that some project was better than no project.  I feel the same here.  I don’t see any purpose in delaying this matter.

      1. South of Davis

        How about the people that are upset that photos of the project always show a glider but I have not seen any plans for a glider runway on the site (the glider runway could be leased to these guys a couple times a month):

        http://www.wdarc.org/

        1. hpierce

          Cute, irrelevant, but I like!  Gliders are so cool… their glide ratio means you’ll not die in a “crash” of one, unless you ignore power lines, or are on a suicide mission…

      2. Frankly

        I have a lot of experience managing large complex projects within large organizations.  There is a project lifecycle that inputs requirements and then forms them into prioritized design specifications.  Then cost estimates are finalized and there is a go versus no-go decision.

        Nobody gets everything they want.  Constant bickering conflict from stakeholders to get what they want is the same as a no-go.

    2. Tia Will

      Frankly

      As Pugilist has pointed out, you have missed a group, and I would add another.

      4. I agree that there is a group for whom perfection is not the goal, but who do not consider the “scaled down”version to have the same implications as the other versions and want time for more vetting. I would fall into this group. I am more inclined to favor smaller projects as should be apparent from my previous posts and support of Nishi. However, the full revenue implications and implications of the changes minus some of the previous amenities have not been fully explored and should be before a ballot measure is placed.

      5. Those of us who feel that the many different faces of this project, combined with the delay in putting forth the final iteration until the last moment putting a temporal squeeze on the City Council, staff and members of the community is terrible process and should not be rewarded.

       

       

  6. Rich RifkinWDE 73

    DON: In my opinion, the development agreement on this one needs to be detailed, explicit, chiseled in stone, and contain a proviso for zero modifications for something like a decade or it won’t be worth much …

    Considering the incontrovertible fact that there is less than a 0.01% chance the voters of Davis will approve any project on that site — the details of which matter nothing at all — whether any details are “chiseled in stone” or not is meaningless.

    This Nishi proposal would have had almost no impact on anyone who lives in Davis. There was not a single reasonable argument against it. And it failed. Like all other Measure J/R votes have failed.

    The MRIC, even scaled down, is much more likely to impact Davis. It really is “peripheral growth.” If it ends up spawning large, successful tech companies, Davis will have an influx of highly paid private sector workers who will materially change the character of Davis (as those folks have changed the Palo Alto/Mountain View area). There are actual reasons why no-growth voters will want to stop the MRIC. So it is entirely unreasonable to think it has more than a chance in hell* of being approved by the voters in Davis who want this city to “stay the same” and maintain its character as a place where just about everyone works for a branch of the government or is a lawyer/lobbyist at the Capitol.

    *The only way I can see any vote on the MRIC passing is if the no-growth voters of Davis stay home in big numbers and the minority of pro-growth voters turn out in November in extraordinary percentages. And why either of those might happen is lost on me.

     

    1. The Pugilist

      Rich: Haven’t you learned not to throw numbers out at random?  I mean your 0.01% has about as much chance of being accurate as your 59-41 projection for Nishi (with some change tacked on for effect).

    2. Don Shor

      I agree with your political odds on this one. I said before that if Nishi can’t pass a Measure R vote, then nothing can. But if the developer and the Chamber of Commerce and various pro-business folks in town want to put the council in the awkward position of voting to put MRIC on the ballot immediately after Nishi failed, and expect them to go out in public and argue on its behalf, they really need to get it right. I expect the council members would be very half-hearted supporters of the current proposal if it were on the November ballot without a firm development agreement, with the weird ‘urban reserve’ designation for half the property, and no clear explanation as to how it suddenly became profitable.
      They might bump your odds up from 0.01% if they get it right. Maybe it would only lose by 10% or so, instead of 2:1.

      1. hpierce

        Sorry, Don… characterizing “urban reserve” as ‘weird’, is well, “weird”…  well defined by the DMC, as I previously noted (and cited) on these pages… suggest you listen to “For what it’s worth” by BS (Buffalo Springfield)… particularly the verse about ‘paranoia’

        1. Ron

          hpierce:

          In a sense, I agree with you.  There’s nothing “weird” about the “urban reserve” designation.  The developers have already told us that they want to include housing on the site.  It’s not a “secret”.

          It’s difficult for me to believe that the council would actually consider this thing, or that voters might (somehow) approve it afterward (even though we just had a contentious election).

          If it somehow makes it through the city and election processes, perhaps the “second city” that will eventually arise on this site (outside of a logical boundary, far from the University and downtown) will function so well (financially) that it will “bail out” the current, dysfunctional city.  Sounds like a great plan!

          Yeah – even though the all-commercial development is (somehow) no longer profitable enough to have the entire site designated as commercial.

          Sounds like a ” real winner” to me!  (At least, for the developer’s long-term goals.)

           

           

           

        2. hpierce

          Ron… you twist my words and the facts…

          Urban reserve has nothing (repeat NOTHING) to do with housing… get a freaking clue!  It neither permits it, nor precludes it, based on subsequent actions… any change from the underlying zoning (a form of Ag) will require new applications, and if the underlying zoning remains Ag, will still require a Measure R/J vote [unless those are repealed/sunset before then].

          At the risk of me attacking an individual, you and your ilk make statements like…

          There’s nothing “weird” about the “urban reserve” designation.  The developers have already told us that they want to include housing on the site.  It’s not a “secret”.

          and tying the two as it were a prima facie end run is some combination of ill-informed/inaccurate/rawly political or just plain stupid.  Get facts before posting would be a positive suggestion I would make.  Urban reserve designation doesn’t mean housing…  Urban reserve designation doesn’t mean housing… Urban reserve designation doesn’t mean housing… I say 3 times… do you understand?  Likely, not.

        3. Ron

          hpierce:

          If the developers wanted an all-commercial site, they had the opportunity to pursue this, already.  They withdrew that proposal, and have chosen to pursue a (partial) commercial zoning, instead.

          Having an “urban reserve” will make it that much easier to argue for “workforce housing”, after the reduced commercial site is built.  (Unless you’re certain that they would lose that subsequent appeal, which is sure to come forth.)  They’ve basically told us this, already.

          First, create some new jobs, and hire workers from other areas. Then, build housing for the new workers. “Presto” – a new city (with promises to “bail out” the old city)! How can I truly express my unbridled support for this wonderful plan? I can hardly contain myself.

          Or, someone else mentioned that the developers might try another work-around, perhaps connected to Measure R.

          I don’t know all of the ways that developers may try, in pursuit of their stated goal.  (And, I doubt that you or others know this, either.)

          Perhaps the most important thing is that the developers have already told us their goal.  (And, it’s no longer a commercial-only development.)

          If you trust them at their word, they’re going to attempt to put housing there, one way or another.  It is naïve to think that those opposed to housing on the site can totally control what subsequently happens, if only a portion of the site is fully addressed at this time.

           

        4. The Pugilist

          “If the developers wanted an all-commercial site, they had the opportunity to pursue this, already.  They withdrew that proposal, and have chosen to pursue a (partial) commercial zoning, instead.”

          So are you arguing they are SOL?

          I don’t understand how having an urban reserve changes anything if they still have to go to a vote?

           

          1. Don Shor

            There might be a good reason for it. LAFCo urban services line, facilitating infrastructure, or something. Presumably our council members will ask what that good reason is tonight.

        5. Barack Palin

          That’s something I’m not getting.  If “urban reserve” is no big deal and doesn’t change anything why are the developers going for it when it’s creating friction with the slow and no growth groups?

          Hopefully this all gets explained at tonight’s meeting?

        6. Barack Palin

          I guess my point more is if urban reserve really doesn’t mean jack as some posters are implying then why are the developers asking for it?

          Let’s hope for the answers tonight.

          Better?

        7. Rich RifkinWDE 73

          DG: How were they to predict that it would cause friction?

          When the no-growthers’ be-all and end-all is no growth on the periphery of Davis, anything any developer would suggest — even something that the no-growthers themselves proposed — could be an excuse for “friction.”

          “We propose saving the Monarch butterfly.” — Dan Ramos

          No growth response –> “That will only create sprawl. What do you want to do, turn Davis into Vacaville? And then turn Vacaville into Los Angeles? We need to fight this butterfly preservation tooth and nail.” — Alan Pryor

          Let us not presume that the majoritarians of Davis are looking for some kind of development proposals on peripheral properties that they will support. Their minds are made up. The MRIC, like others which came before it, is a lost cause. Rationality and reason are of no significance.

        8. Frankly

          Agree completely.

          Achieving economic vitality in this city requires beating back the enemies of change.  The only good thing about each project failing is that these people shed their shroud of nuanced justification for their opposition and lose credibility for being a reasonable neighbor.

  7. Fred

    Lets get this right. Take the time get the baseline features and development agreement in place before the council votes to put this on the ballot. If the council rushes to put this on the ballot, then they are just not doing their duty and not giving Davis the best chance of having this project succeed. The developers have no ground to stand on when they want to rush this now after having stopped the process in its tracks a few months ago.

        1. CalAg

           

          Frankly: I was thinking the same thing. The MRIC suspension significantly bolstered the Yes on Nishi argument. Having this come back the day after the votes were counted is suspicious. Feels like there may be some political quid pro quos at play.

    1. Jim Frame

      Although it seems unlikely that any MRIC tenants would require deliveries too large and/or heavy to be economically transportable over long distances via truck, there *is* a siding just up the road at Swingle that could conceivably accommodate those.

  8. Tia Will

    Mark

    Any precondition, no matter how trivial or banal, is a statement that may be accurately translated as ‘my way or the highway.’”

    Let’s suppose that you are accurate in this statement. And let’s further suppose that you are accurate in stating that both sides need to demonstrate flexibility. Then this evenings example of the developers holding council to a timeline of November or no project after having themselves pulled the project from consideration, is a perfect example of their inflexibility. I see it as ridiculous to force city staff and commissions into a two week time frame, with an essentially halved proposal without opportunity to fully consider the implications of the range of planned changes with the only explanation being given is greater voter participation. Does anyone believe that Ramos is so civicly minded that he wants the maximal number of votes because he believes in participatory democracy, or could he and his investors possibly have some other motive ?  I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I found this explanation completely unbelievable. I know that when they withdrew the project, they knew how many months there were until November. To deliberate put this forward as a November or no project is in my opinion economic blackmail.

  9. Tia Will

    Frankly

    Too bad that business is not Kaiser because I’m sure that would cause a difference of your opinion.”

    Absolutely not true. I would be deeply embarrassed if Kaiser  were to engage in community manipulation of this sort. I feel that every company has the right to make its own decisions about whether a community is the right choice for their operations or not. What I do not believe is that the community owes a business major concessions in order to get them to stay. Work with them collaboratively, yes. But submit to what amounts to demands for concessions or they will pack up and leave….absolutely not.

  10. Tia Will

    Anon

    I do not believe that I am any more “cavalier” about business than you are. We both have argued for projects which we felt were good for the community. And we have both opposed revenue generating businesses that we do not believe are good for the community.

    May I remind you that you were much more opposed to downtown nightclubs and wanted much tighter restrictions than I did because you did not believe that they were good for our community. There were some here who felt that nightclubs were vital to the vibrancy of our downtown, and yet you opposed them presumably because you felt that the bad outweighed the good.

    It is my impression that the current project, with many iterations, pulled by the developers choice from consideration and then hasty resubmitted with the claim that it must be on the November ballot giving what I see as an impossibly tight timeline is not dealing openly and transparently with the community and is in effect playing a game of high stakes poker with the city. I am adamantly opposed to this process and if the details are not all solidified and “written in stone” as Don says, then I will be in active opposition. With Nishi, despite many changes of mind along the way, I ultimately became a public supporter. I will not be rushed in my consideration of this project, and will vote no and urge others to do the same if a reasonable public vetting period is not allowed by the developer.

    1. nameless

      You are cavalier about Schilling IMO.  Schilling is a business in Davis that most definitely generates tax revenue to the city that helps defray the costs of the services you and I enjoy.  It would be very detrimental to the city’s pocketbook to not try and find a way for Schilling to be able to expand its business and stay in town. If Schilling leaves because the city cannot give them the space they need to expand, it would be very detrimental to the city’s pocketbook and reputation. Bottom line, the city has been losing companies because Davis does not have enough large scale R&D space.

      1. Tia Will

        nameless

         It would be very detrimental to the city’s pocketbook to not try and find a way for Schilling to be able to expand its business and stay in town” 

        This I do not deny. However, Schilling, like every other company will choose to do what it perceives to be in its own best interest. It is not a charity providing its largess to the city of its good will as some seem to interpret its presence. We cannot predict what Schilling will choose to do whether we do or do not provide a space specifically for them. We cannot guarantee that they will choose to stay here just as we could not predict that Borders was going to go bankrupt after having run some of the smaller competition out of town.

        Now I do not believe that we exist in the “free market” that some believe that we do. But those of you who are “free market” believers undermine your credibility in my eyes by stating that only private business generates jobs, but then advocating the gift of community resources only to those that you have already determined to be “winners” by those in power.

        I saw a great deal of irony in last night’s council meeting. Mark West had commented to me previously when I had mentioned a lack of support on the part of the city for the laundromat in East Davis serving one of our less affluent communities, that this was a poorly run business. I did not notice any successful businessmen in our community volunteering to help these business owners by advising them or working with them to improve their business model. And yet last night we had Rochelle Swanson from the dias begging uninvolved developers to help Ramos in company come up with an acceptable plan despite the fact that they have had years to do so.

  11. Tia Will

    The Pugilist

    they put their cards on the table two years ago.”

    They put their cards on the table two yeas ago, and then, when they didn’t like their hand the dealt themselves a new one, at least three times. When they finally got a hand they liked, they said ok, now fold or call before November. Sound like playing with a stacked, reshuffled and stacked again deck to me.

  12. Tia Will

    hpierce

     It neither permits it, nor precludes it, based on subsequent actions”

    I do not feel so sanguine about this “neither permits it, nor precludes it” as you seem to be. I interpret this to be as vague as was the language “may” ( which of course equally means “or may not” ) included for the Cannery which ended up by a 3-2 vote having an outcome that many of us did not favor.

    I realize that I know little about the technicalities of development, so if you see a substantial difference between these two “mays”, please educate me about the difference.

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