Council Gives MRIC One Week to Come Back with Workable Proposal



Developer Says It’s November or Bust

To say that council is skeptical that the developers of the Mace Ranch Innovation Center (MRIC) can come up with a viable proposal, in time to get a ballot measure on for November that can actually win, is a vast understatement.  But with Dan Ramos telling the council that it has to be November or there will be no proposal, the council reluctantly, after midnight, gave him one week to make his case.

Next week, the city would have to finalize a proposal to send to the Planning Commission, the Finance and Budget Commission would hear the proposal on July 11, and the council would have to make its final decision on July 12 (July 19 at the absolute latest) in time to have the County Board of Supervisors act on July 26 to put the matter on the November ballot.

Councilmember Brett Lee was a microcosm of the council as it moved late in the evening to figure out the best approach.  He went from stating that he is willing to wait and see in two weeks “what is baked” and “willing to keep an open mind,” he warned, “We would not be doing anyone any favors by just putting something on the ballot that’s just going to go down in flames.”

A few minutes later, after walking through the process, he moved to kill the process, arguing “the time frame is too compressed,” but finally he was willing to withdraw his substitute-substitute motion and allowed Dan Ramos and his team one more week to make their case for November.

Robb Davis, meanwhile, in general a strong supporter of the project and economic development, nevertheless worried about pushing this project through before it could pass a vote.

“I am not happy to be in this position,” he said.  He noted that there are two different voices in the community.  “They are apocalyptic on both sides.”

“Measure R is about a process, whether we like it or not,” the mayor pro tem explained.  “We get to propose and the community has to make a decision…  That’s how I understood Measure R,” he said.  “We vet projects, we.  We negotiate projects.”

“If I vote to send it there, then what I’m saying is… I believe it has merit for the city.  It’s not perfect…”  he said, arguing right now, “I sort of feel like I’m being a pass-through mechanism – don’t conceptualize Measure R that way. “

He said he thinks this will fail if this is the process.  “This compressed timeline doesn’t allow for (the process),” he said.

Rochelle Swanson felt that allowing these opportunities to die would tear this community apart, as companies that move here lose faith in Davis.  She said she hopes that “we can at least move it forward and have the conversation.  I’m not comfortable with the basic diagram that’s there.  They obviously have to do more.”

Like Robb Davis, she hoped that moving it to spring was possible.  She noted, “Please don’t kill it – give it a chance.”

But Robb Davis argued that “what’s most important is bringing forward a project that can pass.”

“It’s going to be difficult to nail down the level of difficulty that makes it possible to pass it on the ballot,” he said.  “I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say this doesn’t have a prayer with the voters.”

He would add, “I have an optimism about this project.  I have a belief that it can pass.  But I know what it takes to pass…” Again, the mayor pro tem was arguing that this isn’t a project that can pass.

Robb Davis put forward a motion to exclude things that he believed would kill the project.

One of these was the urban reserve designation.  This was finally fleshed out by the city.  According to them, “The intent of the Urban Reserve designation in the General Plan is ‘to identify land for potential urban development after full development of the lands designated for urban uses on the General Plan Map or after the next revision of the Davis General Plan.  Designation of land as urban reserve in no way assumes the right or entitlement on the part of the owner to develop the land in the future.”

It was explained by Harriet Steiner, the city attorney, that this status in no way would assume that this land would get priority over other lands.

However, Robb Davis sees that the issue of the urban reserve did not gain the developers anything, as it would need another vote anyway to build on the land – he told them basically in a motion, and then orally, that they need to remove this request.

Second, he argued there could be no mitigation on city land.

Third, he argued that they need to preserve the ratio of land uses as currently proposed.  Right now, the proposal is 102 acres for office, research and development, and manufacturing uses – which consists of 1.7 million square feet of innovation space.

That is 900,000 square feet of R&D, 630,000 square feet of manufacturing and research; 150,000 square feet for a hotel and 20,000 for retail.  Robb Davis argued that ratio needs to remain in place.

Finally, he argued there needs to be a fully formed sustainability plan.

While Robb Davis, Brett Lee and Lucas Frerichs all argued for the possibility that this process goes to a special election in the spring of 2017, Dan Ramos said it is November or nothing.  He requested they get a week to come back with an option that could go.  He explained, “November is crucial for us, March doesn’t work.”

Earlier, he had argued that the key was the full participation of the November electorate.

Robb Davis was reluctant to agree.  He argued that this is bad process and that he wants to send the voters something they’ll pass.  He said, “My desire is to get a project that can pass a vote.”

However, Dan Wolk – in one of his final meetings on the council – pointed out that the council had taken a lot of time with Measure A.  They had a stellar process with Measure A, but that Measure A had failed.

He said, “Growth is always going to be a divisive issue.  Measure A showed that.”  He argued that “there is no way to avoid that divisiveness with MRIC even if the process goes on for month and months – we can’t eliminate the divisiveness.”  He felt we had enough here to explore that it was worth it to have it come back for July 12.

With that, the council at 12:30 am agreed to have the process come back to the council subcommittee next week.  But there was not great hope that this process could be successful.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


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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88 thoughts on “Council Gives MRIC One Week to Come Back with Workable Proposal”

  1. Barack Palin

    However, Robb Davis sees that the issue of the urban reserve did not gain the developers anything as it would need another vote anyway to build on the land – he told them basically in a motion and then orally that they need to remove this request.

    Where have I heard that before?  Oh, that’s right, me.

      1. Jim Frame

        If it doesn’t gain them anything (which I and now City attorney have said) why insist on removing the designation from the proposal?

        Optics.  To the general public, changing the designation from ag to urban reserve looks like a step toward development.  You can publish as many articles as you want to the contrary, but many (most?) voters are going to interpret the proposed change as a negative.

        1. hpierce

          Ok, I’ll grant you that many (most?) voters are ill-informed and/ or stupid.  You make a good point… ‘optics’ trump facts and judgement (pun intended).

          Hence, the importance of Measure R/J… gotta’ support those ‘optics’… even if the optics are myoptic…

        2. Barack Palin

          What Jim Frame said.  It’s useless and just fodder for the no growthers.

          Who’s giving advice to the developers?  As soon as I first read the proposal I knew that would be a sticking point.  How did they not see that?  Why put it in the proposal if it doesn’t gain them anything?

        3. Jim Frame

          Was the issue of ‘urban reserve’ raised when Sutter Davis annexed its campus?  Did y’all speak up then?

          Didn’t need to.  Sutter Davis happened in, what, 1993?  Measure J in 2000?


        4. Matt Williams

          pierce, I strongly believe that Measure A lost because of optics . . . optics that the opponents of the project used as weapons.  So for me the question isn’t how natively informed the voters are, but rather how will the respective “sides” of the inevitable campaign “add” to the native information that the voters start the election period with.

          With that said, you are arguing your point from the perspective of “what harm does the urban reserve designation do?” What BP and Jim and I keep asking, and as yet all we have heard is crickets, is “what good does the conversion to the urban reserve designation accomplish?”

          Absent an answer to that second question, most people will find themselves asking, “If this change has no useful purpose, and they are working very hard to ram it down our throats, what is going on that is being hidden under the covers?”

        1. Fred

          Since the developer is the one bringing the project, the better question is why include it? It is the developer that needs to answer that question.

  2. Jim Frame

    I don’t get the nix on mitigating with city-owned land.  Howatt Ranch is a capital albatross around the city’s neck.  If we can sell the land to MRIC at orchard prices, we bail out of an acquisition that addressed nothing except a court order, and gain permanent protection on the property at the same time.

    1. hpierce

      I’m pretty sure the Caesars saw Hadrian’s Wall as “permanent”… guess they messed up on not making the zoning, and non-development agreement “etched in stone” with no modifications for 10 centuries.

      Robert Frost wrote about the ‘mending wall’…

    2. Matt Williams

      I concur with Jim.  I too don’t see the nix.  If all 773 acres of Howatt Ranch is put into a conservation easement, and Ramos brings forward a buyer for those 773 acres @ $15,000 an acre then the City realizes an $11 million capital gain and the whole transaction probably costs Ramos something like $50,000.  The rest of Ramos’ ag mitigation budget can come from the mitigation of additional acres over and above Howatt.  There is substantial potential “win-win” that I, like Jim, believe is worth exploring.

      1. CalAg

        The problem with this idea is that the City doesn’t need MRIC to put a conservation easement on Howatt Ranch and sell the property, so there is nothing gained by allowing MRIC to leverage this City asset. Robb Davis made the right call re: disallowing city-owned land for mitigation.

        In addition, the OSHC rejected Howatt Ranch because it doesn’t comply with the requirements of the ag mitigation ordinance.

        1. hpierce

          Would agree, if the Open Space fund reimbursed the Drainage/Sewer funds that purchased the land… otherwise, it is an asset that has value… to the funds that purchased it…

        2. Matt Williams

          Understood CalAg, but the facts on the ground are that the City doesn’t have either the resources or the expertise in-house to get it done.  So if left to staff to do it will continue to be an under performing and under protected conservation asset.  Ramos has the resources and the expertise and the incentive to achieve the outcome that not only maximizes the number of conserved agricultural acres, but also creates capital funding (ideally in the Fund 135 balance) that can be used for future Open Space acquisitions.

          Note, I do not believe that Ramos should be able to satisfy all of their mitigation requirements with Howatt.  Rather it would be a package of Howatt plus other mitigation acreage close to the City Limits.  Ramos has a mitigation budget (in dollars).  They should not be able to complete this deal without spending that whole budget.



        3. The Pugilist

          There is a lot to be gained by allowing MRIC to do that – millions of dollars for a the city in the sale of the property while keeping the property in an easement.  I don’t understand some of these objections I’ve been reading lately.

        4. CalAg

          “the City doesn’t have either the resources or the expertise in-house to get it done” @ Matt Williams

          That statement doesn’t square with the facts. The most obvious case in point is Mace 391.

          While I don’t know for sure, my guess is that Howatt Ranch is being held outside a conservation easement because it was identified years ago as a possible site for the proposed sports complex. I personally don’t see Howatt as either an underperforming asset or underprotected land.

          If the City Council were to chose to ignore the OSHC recommendation, they would have a fiduciary responsibility sell Howatt at an honest market price with complete disregard to Ramos’ mitigation budget.


        5. Matt Williams

          Fred said . . . “if the city doesn’t have the staff, it would be cheaper and cleaner to hire a consultant to take care of it.”

          A consultant would be much more expensive, unless the consultant was willing to get the job done on a fixed fee basis.  The reason is simple . . . time is money.  The consultant would want to extend the time frame as much as possible.  That is one of the basic tenets of the Consultants’ Full Employment Act.  On the other hand, for MRIC time is also money, but in the reverse sense.  They know that the sooner they get the process completed, the closer they are to getting their project over the finish line.

          Further, the real estate transaction fees are likely to be as much as the same 6% we all pay when we sell our homes.  MRIC will more than likely be willing to settle for real estate transaction fees that are half of that (or less).

          CalAg said . . . “That statement doesn’t square with the facts. The most obvious case in point is Mace 391.”

          Here is a simple question for you CalAg, how long did it take staff to bring Mace 391 to closure?  Also, how “clean” was that transaction when it happened?

          I rest my case.

          CalAg said . . . If the City Council were to chose to ignore the OSHC recommendation, they would have a fiduciary responsibility sell Howatt at an honest market price with complete disregard to Ramos’ mitigation budget.

          I completely agree CalAg, which was why I used the $15,000 per acre sale price. As best as I can tell that is a reasonable approximation of the “honest market price.” Given that Ramos won’t be the buyer, but only bringing a willing buyer to the table, Ramos will be indifferent to what the eventual sale price of the “eased” acres is.

        6. Roberta Millstein

          I’ll quote from the OSHC report here, because I don’t think all of the relevant considerations are being taken into account:

          The project applicant’s informal proposal to use the City’s Howatt/Clayton property to meet the City’s ag mitigation requirements does not meet the City Council’s Guiding Principles because it does not comply with the City’s ag mitigation ordinance because: (1) the City’s Howatt/Clayton property is neither physically adjacent to the MRIC site, nor does it provide “extraordinary community benefits,” and (2) the City’s Howatt/Clayton property is not at risk of being developed, it is located within a flood zone, and it is unknown whether its land is of similar ag quality to the MRIC site.

        7. Matt Williams

          Roberta, regarding the OSHC’s recommendation:

          (A) There is no property that is physically adjacent to the MRIC site, other than the “inside the Mace Curve” parcel, which represents only 47 of the required 400 mitigation acres.  As a result there are no acres other than those 47 that meet the criteria the OSHC cited.

          (B) Realizing $11 million of income while at the same time seeing 747 acres of productive (largely prime) farmland permanently placed in a conservation easement held by the Yolo Land Trust is the epitome of  extraordinary community benefits.

          (C) It actually meets the “development threat” criteria of the Ag Mitigation Ordinance (copy quoted below) because the growth pressure on Howatt Ranch is equal to or greater than the adjacent parcel … Mace 391.

          (D) Based on my knowledge of the Yolo County Soils Map (courtesy of Yolo County Planning Commissioner Leroy Bertolero) I am confident that the soils are comparable. The LESA scoring system can/will provide a definitive answer to that OSHC unknown.

          I share the above as input to an informed decision, not as argument for a specific outcome.

          (d)                  Alternative mitigation proposals

          The city council may approve mitigation that does not meet the adjacency requirement if an alternative mitigation proposal meets the intent of this chapter and would have extraordinary community benefits. Alternative mitigation proposals may be approved if the following three factors are present, and the city council makes appropriate findings:

          (1)    The alternative mitigation is threatened by demonstrated growth pressure equal to or greater that that faced by areas adjacent to the project site.  Demonstrated growth pressure shall be established by a comparison of current land value of the alternative site and the adjacent site. Valuation analysis shall be prepared by an independent certified appraiser; and

          (2)    The alternative mitigation is strategically located and provides one or more of the following: (A) protects a locally unique resource, (B) provides connectivity between existing protected or agricultural lands, (C) due to its location provides protection of other lands and resources in the Davis planning area and/or (D) located within a city-identified priority open space acquisition area

          (3)    The alternative mitigation is of a size that facilitates protection of the targeted resource and its long term management .

      2. Ron

        Here’s an idea, regarding mitigation:

        The developer apparently doesn’t need the Northern half of the site for commercial development.  (There’s otherwise nothing preventing him from pursuing the original commercial proposal – which includes the Northern half.)

        Therefore, I’d suggest including the Northern half as part of the mitigation lands.

        Oh wait – I forgot that he’ll likely pursue housing on that site in the future, regardless of whether or not it’s in an “urban reserve”.

        Never mind!



        1. CalAg

          Unless I’m mistaken, Ramos said last night that their intent was to come back with a housing application for the proposed urban reserve after the November election if MRIC is approved by the voters.

      3. Matt Williams

        hpierce said . . . “otherwise, it is an asset that has value… to the funds that purchased it…”

        pierce, while acknowledging the fact that the original purchasing funds need to be repaid out of any proceeds, what value does the land have in the City’s currently upgraded/reconfigured drainage/sewer system?

        1. hpierce

          None… it’s value is to be sold to the highest bidder, for the City to be made whole.

          It will have a floodplain easement/disclosure tho’…

      1. Matt Williams

        Frankly, setting aside your premise for a moment.  The failure of this governance process rests squarely on the shoulders of the MRIC development team.  They are the ones who put their project on pause.  They are the ones who didn’t even have one representative at the FBC meeting where the findings of the economic analysis were presented by EPS.  They are the ones who didn’t provide EPS with any comparable developments from elsewhere in the US that are realizing $20 per square foot sales prices rather than the $9-$13 sales prices that EPS ended up using in its economic analysis.

        There are other “dirty fingerprints” other than theirs, but theirs are the most obvious and visible ones.

  3. Roberta Millstein

    I am glad to hear that most of the members of the City Council are concerned about the process.  I can understand how at 12:30 AM the easiest thing to do can be to give this another week.   However, I will reiterate what I have said here before.  There were several commissions, including the Open Space and Habitat Commission and the Natural Resources Commission, whose work on the previous proposal had not yet been considered by the Planning Commission and the City Council.  There isn’t sufficient time for that work to be redone for the new proposal, and then to be considered by the Planning Commission and by the City Council.  Thus, this new timeline would essentially cut those commissions out of the process.  I don’t know if this is deliberate or accidental – I don’t know why it took Ramco two months after “pausing” to come up with the idea of a smaller project (an idea that was part of the EIR) – but the effect is the same.  I urge the City Council not to put this on the ballot for November, and instead to take the time to have the project be properly vetted and specified.  Ramco says now that spring isn’t a possibility, but that land is still there, and I’d be very surprised if it really was the case that this was “now or never.”

    1. Don Shor

      There were several commissions, including the Open Space and Habitat Commission and the Natural Resources Commission, whose work on the previous proposal had not yet been considered by the Planning Commission and the City Council.

      Alan Pryor referenced the reports of these commissions in his public comment. Are the minutes or reports of those meetings available?

      1. Roberta Millstein

        The report of the Open Space and Habitat Commission is here:

        OSH report

        The concerns that the OSHC raised about the old proposal may no longer be relevant – or they may still be relevant.  There may be new “pluses” to this proposal, or new “minuses.”  But no time is available for the Commission to determine that.

        Sorry, but I have to run off and don’t have time to try to fish out the NRC minutes.


        1. Tia Will


          Thanks for posting the OSHC report. Not exactly a resounding endorsement of the larger project. One thing that those who support the project might want to consider is that some of these considerations might even be lessened by a smaller foot print and thus more palatable to those of us who put a very strong priority on open land and habitat. However, we would not know that and thus would not have time to make a more favorable assessment of the project. It was this time to fully weigh the pros and cons of Nishi that ultimately turned me into a proponent.

          I guarantee that I would be more likely to support a project given enough time to consider all aspects than I would be if I feel my back is being pressed to the wall which was very much the feeling I got from the Ramos display of intransigence in the name of greater voter participation last night.

        2. Roberta Millstein

          Tia, yes, exactly, that is part of what I was trying to suggest.  But the devil is in the details, and a) we have no details, and b) even if we did, we have insufficient time to study them, report on them, and have our report considered.

          It’s also worth remembering (I think people forget this sometimes) that the commissions are looking at projects from their particular purview, not the value of the projects as a whole.  It is then up to the City Council and citizens to weigh all the different considerations in coming to a decision about what to do.

        3. Matt Williams

          Here is a LINK to the draft minutes of the March 28th NRC meeting where they considered MRIC.  The relevant text of those minutes is:

          7 . Mace Ranch Innovation Center – Project Review.

          Heidi Tschudin, City contract project manager for the MRCI project reviewed previous presentations to the Commission and outlined the project review process and the process used to gather input from City Commissions. The project proponents presented on background and specific project design/elements related to the draft sustainability framework submitted to the City in late January. Member of the public, Alan Hirsch, provided written comments included as Attachment 3.

          Following discussion, individual Commissioners provided input on the following three questions posed by the City Council:

          — Question #1 — What recommendations do you have related to project design and proposed features?

          — Question #2 (NRC only) – What recommendations do you have related to the proposed framework for sustainability and key commitments/aspects of sustainability relevant to this project?

          — Question #3 — Do you feel the project is generally consistent with, or would generally achieve, City objectives and guiding principles relevant to the mission of the commission? Why or why not?

          Commissioner responses, grouped by category are included in these minutes by reference and as Attachment 1. Commissioner Westhoff, unable to attend the meeting, submitted written comments that were read into the record and are included as Attachment 2 . A written GHG mitigation proposal, submitted by Commissioner Johnston and read into the record was accepted by the full Commission and is included as Attachment 3 .

          Following individual Commissioner comments and discussion, on a motion by Pryor, Seconded by Braly, the Commission recommended forwarding the following to the City Council:

          The Commission finds that the project, as currently proposed, does not meet the City’s sustainability standards with respect to GHG emissions and moves the City further from its Climate Action and Adaptation Plan goals.

          Passed unanimously (7-0; Westhoff absent).

  4. Mark West

    When you get kicked in the teeth you get to make a choice whether to get up and fight harder and smarter, or slink away with your tail between your legs.  The CC acted like a bunch of whipped puppies that have ceded the fight to the no crowd. I predict two years of inaction and a further deterioration of the City and quality of life. Don’t worry, though, we will all get to pay extra to enjoy the show.

    “Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends…”


    1. Fred

      Garbage. The city council acted with incredible diligence and thoughtfulness and gave the  developer more opportunity than he probably deserved to come back with a real proposal. What the developer presented to the city last night was D+ homework and then council member Swanson begged to let the developer have a do over to fix it. Generous, and not unreasonable except that the developer is bullying the city into a greatly compressed timeline that necessitates everyone at the city pretend as if there were a real proposal for the staff to work on and the planning commission to consider.  As of this morning, there is no actual proposal for MIRC to even discuss.

      1. The Pugilist

        In fairness, I think what the developer brought to the city was a sketch.  The next step for the developer was to find out if it was worth their money and time to develop that sketch.  At this point, I’d say that’s still a big question.

        1. Fred

          Pugilist, I would agree that a “sketch” might have been OK if the developer were not pushing such a onerous accelerated timeline. Given the timeline the Developer needed to show up with more. 15 bullet points, a crude map, and less than 4 minutes of vacuous presentation. The City Council is very generous to give the developer a second at bat next week.


        2. The Pugilist

          I don’t think the council was being “generous” I think they were being sincere – they want a workable project, they are concerned that this will not be one, but willing to at least allow the developer to try.  I think that’s much more sincere than people who would vote against the project under any circumstances coming forward to complain about process.  There is no process that will get Harrington to vote yes on this.

          1. Don Shor

            Watching the council proceedings last night, I think there are two votes that are almost certainly against the project going to the November ballot, and one vote that will support it no matter what.

        3. Fred

          I agree that the Council was being sincere. They were also being generous. Clearly they want to give this developer every chance. I am not sure who you are talking about that would vote against this project under any circumstance. Harrington wasn’t there.

          1. Don Shor

            I mean that of the five council members, it’s pretty clear where three of them stand already.

        4. Fred

          Don, I count similarly. It seemed like there were likely 3 votes to not consider this on the developers accelerated timeline, 1 vote to do anything the developer asked, and 1 vote to “please can I go home now and leave this a possibility for Will?” Robb put his cards on the table face up by listing exactly what he needs to see to support the project. We will just have to wait and see if Ramos can muster a proper proposal and not rely on bullying tactics.

      2. Tia Will

        council member Swanson begged to let the developer have a do over to fix it.”

        Council member Swanson did more than beg to let the developer have a do over, she begged other pro MRIC members of the community to “help them”. I found this completely unprecedented at least in my council watching time which is not nearly as long as some here. She pleaded with proponents of the project who were in the audience to volunteer their time and expertise in order to help the developers draft an acceptable project being that despite years of having the opportunity to do so, they had not succeeded. Talk about picking winners and losers. Nishi was a very narrow loss on in my opinion a much better project. But here we had a council member begging other developers in the community to bail out MRIC.

        1. Ron

          I watched the proceedings, and was disturbed by council member Swanson’s statements and tone, regarding MRIC.  I was also concerned about her statements and actions regarding Sterling.

          It’s not the first time that I’ve found her statements to be one-sided (to put it politely).  It seems that she is encouraging conflict, with those who have opposing views.

          It seems that Robb Davis has similar views, but states those views in a more respectful manner.

  5. Misanthrop

    I don’t see how this gets done and passed in November. The rush to the ballot will be used to kill it at the ballot box. I understand the desire of the developers to have it on the November ballot as they see that as the best chance for passage but the project needs too much work.

    Its sad. The election calendar is now the paramount consideration in the planning process. Nishi and MRIC were teed up by the council for June and November ballots. The opposition to Nishi claimed it wasn’t ready and the voters bought the argument. When the opposition to Nishi asked why June and not November? Nobody spoke up and said because of MRIC.

    So what was supposed to improve the planning process, the inclusion of a public vote through Measure R, now has become the biggest impediment to good planning.

    In the 16 years since Measure J passed no land has been annexed into the city. There have been 3 proposals and not one of them was good enough for a majority of Davis voters. The City Council spent a lot of time and money bringing Nishi forward as did the developers. Both the city and the developers worked in good faith to bring the best proposal they could come up with considering the obstacles to development of the Nishi parcel. If Nishi couldn’t pass I don’t see how any proposal will ever pass.

    But it is worse than just the three proposals that were voted down. In the last several years there have been five proposals that have not gone forward to date, 391, AKT property, the land by the hospital, Nishi and the last one, Mace Ranch Innovation Center, is hanging by a thread and I would not be surprised if they pull the plug in the next day or two. Even if the owners of MRIC go forward I’m doubtful that it could win at the polls this November. So if the owners are really in a now or never situation and don’t take another two or four years to get it right I see MRIC as being the fifth proposal to be lost under Measure R and the seventh since Measure J passed.

    But if all this isn’t enough to convince you that Measure R is unworkable there is one more piece of evidence to consider. The proposal to build near the hospital was moved to the south end of Woodland where they don’t have the kind of ballot box planning that Measure R requires in Davis. If seven development proposals under Measures J/R fail but one of the development teams builds a similar proposal in a neighboring jurisdiction in a timely manner with great loss to the financial well being of the City of Davis I wonder if that will be enough to get the people of Davis to recognize that the system we have now is unworkable. It is a process that does’t allow us to develop our  intellectual capital, adequately house our citizens or provide for a fiscally sound city government that can provide and maintain our parks, roads and public safety. Our planning system is broken. Only the removal or sunset of Measure R can fix the City of Davis.

    1. Fred

      Measure J/R is not only workable, after the Measure A vote we know exactly what it takes to get a project passed no matter if it passes or fails now. Although Measure A had merits, it also had significant problems as has been discussed on here ad nauseum. All of the puffery on here about how awful Measure J/R are flies in the face of what Davis voters have shown in elections again and again.

        1. Fred

          Using Nishi as an example

          Nishi + 1.

          that 1 could be lots of things.

          Nishi + housing students can afford

          or Nishi + help local local businesses that are being displaced

          or Nishi + Affordable housing

          or Nishi – Spafford Lincoln’s bad tactics that turned off so many

          In hind site there were all kinds of ways to get to yes. on Nishi and the Developer and campaign blew it.

          MIRC could get on the ballot and pass if it is the right project, but I doubt it will while the Developer is insisting on the accelerated timeline.



  6. CalAg

    “I don’t see how this gets done and passed in November.” @ Misanthrop

    They could have made the November ballot if they hadn’t (1) done the bait-and-switch on housing and (2) suspended processing in mid-April. In my opinion, had neither of those occurred they would have had a pretty decent chance of voter approval.

    1. Fred

      Exactly right CalAg. even if the developer had shown up last night with a flushed out workable proposal they probably could have gotted this on the ballot. The Council gave the developer every opportunity. No, what the developer showed up with last night – 15 bullet points and a poorly drawn and vague map just is no where close to where they should be after 5 years of working on it. That’s 3 bullet points a year. Its pathetic really. Then the developer insisted on this ridiculous time line or they would take their project away like a school yard bully. The council probably should have just killed it last night, but they are nothing if not fair and willing to give developers a chance.

  7. The Pugilist

    I don’t see how this gets done in November either.  But I think pushing through part of the process trying to get there makes it more likely the developer sticks with it after November.

  8. Anon

    Seems to me the City Council did the right thing in allowing the MRIC developers to come back with a proposal for a November ballot.  There was really nothing to be lost by giving the MRIC developers a chance.  Agreed it will be difficult for the developer to come up with a satisfactory proposal, but it doesn’t hurt to allow them to try.

        1. Fred

          1 week is 2% of the year. Is this worth 2% of City staffs efforts for the entire year? It is generous for the city to give this developer that much attention after the way he has started and stopped the project and now insists on the accelerated timeline for the November ballot (by the way the only reason Ramos gave for wanting the November vote was to have a bigger turnout).  The only way the staff is only monopolized for one week is if the accelerated time line gets stopped next week.

    1. Tia Will

      Hi Anon

      I also do not have a strong objection to the one week. However, I think it is to strong a statement to say that there is nothing to lose by allowing the project to advance in this manner.

      1. There is the time of the staff which while limited is not negligible.

      2. Then there is for the me tolerance or even encouragement of what I now see as very bad behavior on the part of the developer.

      I do not have a  problem admitting when I am wrong. I had argued against the idea that the developer was pulling a “bait and switch” with the housing based on a a very early conversation that I had had with Ramos in which he had implied that he felt housing would make for a better project. However, in view of what I see as very calculating, bordering on duplicitous, and bullying  behavior with the suspension of the project and then reinstatement of a different iteration ( regardless of the relative merits) on such a rushed timeline with the clear statement that it was their November timeline or nothing, I may have been wrong. They may have been “bait and switching” all along.

      3. Another thing to be lost is community input. From the commission statements that have been posted here, it does not look as though they were favorable. This rushed time line loses us thoughtful commission input. It also loses us time for general community input.

      4. Another potential loss is that while there will higher voter turnout, there is also likely to be higher political involvement preceding this election than others. For me, this adds the burden of trying to keep up with the developments regarding MRIC ( and my actions either for or against it) while at the same time engaging in other campaigns.

      5. Finally I think that there may be even more potential for a “no” vote on the project if many feel as I do that there has just not been enough time to consider the implications of a smaller project. I would be much more likely to support the project in its smaller form if it would still be a significant revenue generator for the city which was its ostensible goal. However, we are not being asked to consider the project as initially proposed without being provided with enough time to assess it in its new form with a new set of pros and cons. We are not being asked…..we are being told that is what we must do or no project.

      What I see as bullying tactics on the part of the developer would not be enough to make me vote against a meritorious project, we have had many instances of posters here who claim that they will not vote for “whatever issue” solely because they do not like the actions of some proponent.

  9. nameless

    Seems to me the City Council did the right thing in allowing the MRIC developers to come back with a proposal for a November ballot.  There was really nothing to be lost by giving the MRIC developers a chance.  Agreed it will be difficult for the developer to come up with a satisfactory proposal, but it doesn’t hurt to allow them to try.

      1. nameless

        Yep.  For some reason my alias ANON did not work when I tried to log in one day, so I set up another account under the name NAMELESS.   Then later, when I had to log into the Vanguard, without thinking I logged in as ANON, and it worked.  I don’t know what is going on with the system at the Vanguard, but I have had this happen before, where I cannot log in on a particular day.  So I will try and remember to log in under my second pseudonym NAMELESS, but may slip up from time to time.  But for the sake of full disclosure, ANON=NAMELESS. (Vanguard insisted I was posting a double comment under Anon, so used my Nameless account and wound up with both!!!)

        1. Barack Palin

          But for the sake of full disclosure, ANON=NAMELESS.

          Thanks for clarifying.  Now if we could only get a few others on here to to give full disclosure.

  10. Mike Hart

    I am a firm supporter of Measure A.  In developing the innovation park at Nishi I got a good insight into the process.  I think that the vote for Measure A was a strong indication that our city process works just fine, it just shouldn’t be rushed.  If the MRIC proposal hadn’t been looming we could have had the vote in November and would have easily won by a wide margin.  I think that it is important that we support the intent of Measure R- it works exactly the way it was intended to.  People who say that it shows our community “can’t govern itself” or is dysfunctional are mistaken… We just don’t like the idea of urban sprawl.  As to developing an innovation park in Davis, I have heard nothing but support from all quarters for developing our project in walking distance from downtown and the University and will continue to work with the community to get this to happen in the near future.


    1. Fred

      Mike, you have it right on measure  J/R and the Davis’s ability to govern itself. I suspect a different proposal at Nishi could sail through.

  11. Eileen Samitz

    First of all, I am really tired of hearing Measure J/R bashed by some because rather than being a problem, Measure J/R has done its job by protecting our community from the seriously flawed projects that have been proposed requiring a Measure J/R vote of the public.

    Second, regarding the current Mace Ranch Innovation Park Center issue –  the situation is the same. What is now being proposed, last minute, is the Ramos developers trying to shuffle in their real intention to develop their site, which they really want to be primarily residential (and who knows what else) under the guise of “urban reserve”. Urban reserve is code for a “wild card” later of who-knows-what land uses would emerge if the City were to foolishly allow this with an annexation of the MRIC land. This is simply unacceptable. The public deserves to know what they are voting on,  and that is one of the main purposes of Measure J/R.

    So third, the Ramos developers of the Mace Ranch Innovation Center  (please note the name of the project is not Mace Ranch Mixed-Use Center, but innovation center) introduced the project initially and the community was receptive towards it, as a commercial-ONLY project to help bring revenue to the City. We were promised “no housing” since the community understands that housing would bring long-term costs which would would reduce, if not eliminate, any MRIC revenue generated to the City.  Therefore adding housing to MRIC would negate the original purpose of the “innovation center”.

    However, it has become evident that a commercial-only project was not the Ramos developers main intention, now was it? I publicly asked the Ramos developers directly at a Vanguard MRIC discussion if they would build a commercial-only project if that was what the community wanted. The answer was YES from the Ramos developers. They claimed that they just needed that direction from Council. Well they got that direction from Council. But then they took the project off the table. So it is clear that the developers were completely disingenuous from the beginning.  So housing was their main objective, not innovation park.

    So the bottom line is that the Ramos developers need be honest about what they want to bring to public vote and “urban reserve” does not accomplish that. ANY portion of the project as urban reserve is completely unacceptable…period. It is a “kick the can down the road” AND  a “bait and switch” attempt,  completely undermining Measure J/R.

    If the Ramos group decides to be honest with the public by placing the orignal  228-acre project for a commercial-only innovation park on the November ballot, that is what would be supported by the public. That is what we were told was being proposed, that is what the Ramos developers promised was being brought forward, but that is NOT that they have done. THAT is why there is a problem here. NOT Measure J/R. In fact, thanks to Measure J/R this whole charade by the Ramos developers of trying to con the public, has been exposed.






    1. Fred

      Well said Eillen.

      Ramos, the Ramco rep, slumped in his chair with his arms folded over his barrel chest repeatedly telling the council “No,” November or never reminded me of all of the threats and bullying used when Ramco pushed for Mace Ranch. Promising the city that if they didn’t take this deal they would just go tot he county and get the county to approve a new community right on the edge of Davis.

  12. Misanthrop

    Get used to it. I believe Measure R is a disaster and intend to pound away at it. Now if you read my remarks carefully you will see that I agree that Ramos’ proposal isn’t ready for prime time and I don’t see how it gets there by November. One of my problems with Measure R is that the election calendar is driving the train and leading to bad outcomes. Because of Measure J/R we are at least a decade behind in housing construction and now we are going to start falling even farther behind in commercial and industrial space as well. We are going to lose the businesses that need space to grow. I get that we are spoiled because UCD brings billions of dollars into this community on an annual basis but the multiplier effects of that largess isn’t guaranteed to the city and the leakage at this point could sink the Titanic. We can’t even keep our roads paved and must import students into our k-12 schools from the commuters who work in Davis but can’t find suitable housing here increasing our carbon footprint.

    It was interesting to hear Rochelle ask for the Sterling EIR to look at the GHG impact of  building that housing out of town. And Robb Davis lamenting that Measure R is the process that we have like it or not. There is no joy in Mudville in the wake of Measure A. Mighty Casey has once again struck out and you can deny it all you want but there is a battle royal coming over Measure R when it comes up for renewal and I intend to make my case as to its ill effects on the city of Davis.

  13. Eileen Samitz


    You have made it abundantly clear that you are extremely pro-growth. Perhaps you are so anxious for growth and want to overturn Measure J/R because you are in the development business or real estate business. But regardless of why you are so pro-growth, it is unfortunate that you are so negative that it appears that you would be likely to vote for any project no matter how badly planned, nor how deleterious to Davis,  just for the sake of supporting growth. I am sorry you feel that way and that you clearly do not understand the purpose of Measure J/R nor how it has helped, not hurt our community.

    We are not going to get well planned projects without Measure J/R and that has been made abundantly clear by this latest stunt by the Ramos developers. I have stated more than once, that if the Ramos developers would placed the original project that has been worked on for over a year on the ballot of a commercial-only innovation park, that it would pass a Measure J/R vote. So you need to direct your anger at the Ramos developers for trying to con the City planners, the City Council, and our community, not at Measure J/R.

    Furthermore, I find it hard that you can defend the outrageous behavior of the Ramos developers trying to force their project on the community which is not the commercial-only project which was promised by them from the beginning. And now to make matters worse, these developers are trying to force a new version of the project onto the City in one week where more than half of the project is undefined. Why would you trust these developers after the bullying they tried last night at City Council? It was simply awful behavior by the Ramos developers. They had no respect for the City Staff, nor the community, and simply tried to force the City Council to approve a ridiculous colored sketch of the “new project” and unrealistic timeline for a mostly undefined project.

    1. Misanthrop

      It seems in the last 16 years we haven’t had any well enough planned projects with Measure J/R and it appears that we won’t be getting any for any forseeable time in the future. Although I’m not sure that Covell Village, Wildhorse Ranch and Nishi weren’t well planned. The reality is that the no growth scene has shut down annexation and as a result there are so many unintended consequences that it is apparent to this observer that we have a process that nothing will ever be good enough to pass. Meanwhile the rest of the region including UCD isn’t waiting for Davis to get its act together.

      1. Eileen Samitz

        Let’s just say while you are uncertain, there is no doubt in my mind that the three projects you mentioned were not well planned, by any extent. So while you are entrenched in the false conclusion that “nothing can pass Measure J/R”, I completely disagree with you on this because your conclusion is based upon three badly conceived projects that developers tried to railroad through.

        I would hope that the Ramos developers, of all, after seeing this, would understand that they have no business trying to railroad yet another badly conceived project through. Given their “history” and then greatly damaging any sense of trust from this community after their disgraceful behavior last night trying to bully the City Council, let’s see what they come up with next.

        If the Ramos developers come up with a new angle to try to add in housing to their “promised” commercial-only Mace Ranch Innovation Center, well then please stay tuned for the next stunt from these developers to try to manipulate our City Council, City Staff, and our community.  Hopefully, they are not attempting to continue a long history of trying to con and take advantage of our community. However, many of us are paying close attention to their actions to see where they go from here.

        1. Misanthrop

          False conclusion? While we wait for your hypothetical good enough project. So far with 16 years and counting no is batting 1000. I would say that, based on the empirical evidence to date, I am correct.

  14. nameless

    Mike Hart: “I am a firm supporter of Measure A.  In developing the innovation park at Nishi I got a good insight into the process.  I think that the vote for Measure A was a strong indication that our city process works just fine, it just shouldn’t be rushed.  If the MRIC proposal hadn’t been looming we could have had the vote in November and would have easily won by a wide margin.  I think that it is important that we support the intent of Measure R- it works exactly the way it was intended to.  People who say that it shows our community “can’t govern itself” or is dysfunctional are mistaken… We just don’t like the idea of urban sprawl.  As to developing an innovation park in Davis, I have heard nothing but support from all quarters for developing our project in walking distance from downtown and the University and will continue to work with the community to get this to happen in the near future.

    If you have heard nothing but support from all quarters for developing a project in walking distance from downtown and the University, then clearly Measure R did NOT work as intended –  since Measure A was defeated but was for a project within walking distance of the downtown and UCD.  You cannot have it both ways.

    1. Mike Hart

      Hello Nameless…

      Sure I can.  There were three elements to the proposal;

      1.  The innovation park.

      2.  Housing

      3.  The traffic mitigation element.

      As I have said, the innovation park had nothing but support from the community.  The housing element had some fairly confused oppostion (too much, too little, too expensive, not enough freebies etc.).  The traffic mitigation element had similar confused opposition (not enough of a solution for Olive Drive, not enough certainty about the benefits of those changes etc.) In short, the problem with the election outcome (so far) relate to the other two elements of the plan- not the innovation park.  I feel that a longer campaign would have completely addressed the issues raised on the housing and traffic elements. The air issue was a baseless distraction.  So in short, nothing was wrong with Measure R being used here, it simply needs to be given more time to ensure people fully understand all the issues.  The Nishi project remains an excellent project and I am quite certain will be built in the not too distant future.

      1. Barack Palin

        I agree with Mike Hart.  A few tweeks here and there will certainly change the votes of at least 150 people from no to yes which is all that’s needed.

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