By Lois Wolk, Mariko Yamada, Helen Thomson, Brett Lee, Bob Black, Jerry Adler, Ken Wagstaff, Bill Kopper and Will Arnold
The Nishi Gateway project, on the ballot as Yes on Measure A, has been designed over several years with significant community input and in close collaboration with UC Davis. It is critical that we plan together with the campus as it embarks on its new Long-Range Development Plan.
Recently, the university announced plans to house up to 40 percent of UCD students on campus. While that is a good start, it is just a start in meeting Davis’ wider campus and community housing needs and providing for a better economic future for downtown Davis.
The Nishi Gateway meets a number of critical city needs, including dense and compact housing and new commercial and research space close to campus and downtown. The project is located next to the Arboretum, is connected to existing bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and is within walking distance of the train station.
The site provides a route for Unitrans double-decker buses into South Davis, a first for our city.
The city’s Finance and Budget Commission, after careful review, concluded that the project will provide an annual net fiscal benefit to the city of up to $1.4 million. Additionally, it will generate up to $9 million in one-time fees to the city and $400,000 annually for Davis Joint Unified School District.
The project cannot proceed until the Richards Boulevard interchange has been improved and a second access point to campus is established at Old Davis Road — paid for by developer fees.
Independent estimates indicate that the 325,000-square-foot research park will bring approximately 1,500 jobs to the city. It will generate $1 billion in economic activity and create a needed customer base for existing downtown businesses.
The project has been identified as our top priority for economic development through several city-sponsored studies. In addition to the business park studies, a citizens commission back in 2008 identified the Nishi project as a top infill site.
The project will provide 440 multi-family rental units oriented toward students at the edge of campus, erasing the need for car travel for residents and workers. It will provide 210 stacked flat condos near downtown for workers and seniors. All residential housing will be five to six stories with small units — filling a critical need.
In addition, the project provides student housing close to campus, taking pressure off the worrisome trend of “mini-dorm” development across Davis. The mini-dorm development is driven by the student housing crunch and is fundamentally changing existing Davis neighborhoods.
By providing a smart student housing complex close to campus, Nishi — and Measure A — will protect our neighborhoods and reduce the displacement of young families and renters.
Far from a typical development-driven process, the Nishi project was a partnership among the community, the city of Davis and the landowner from the very beginning. They agreed to split the pre-development costs of the project and collaborate on its design to implement a shared vision.
In recognition of this shared vision, the project received an award for sustainability from the state of California’s Strategic Growth Council to help complete an environmental plan of action.
The project includes extraordinary sustainability features that are model for the state: 4.9 megawatts of solar photovoltaics will supply 85 percent of electricity used on site, which may contribute to our Community Choice Energy system, providing renewable energy in the city.
Both the project site and buildings will be LEED-certified (or equivalent), demonstrating the highest level of energy efficiency. Low parking ratios and onsite paid parking, along with peak-hour exit parking fees, will reduce traffic impacts around the site.
The project has been endorsed by more than 1,200 members of our community, our state representatives past and present (Sen. Lois Wolk and our recent Assembly members Bill Dodd, Mariko Yamada and Helen Thomson), the entire current City Council, all council candidates, the Davis Chamber of Commerce, Davis Downtown business association, Sacramento Area Council of Governments, ASUCD and The Davis Enterprise.
This is a broad coalition almost unprecedented in our community.
We are all fortunate to live in a university town but we can’t take our good fortune for granted. We need to work together for a better future for our community, encourage our intellectual capital, invest in our schools, preserve our neighborhoods and encourage alternative modes of transportation.
We urge you to vote “yes” on Measure A.