Guest Commentary: Let’s Embrace a New General Plan—Some Thoughts and Suggestions

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by Jim Gray

1. I am glad that the City Council and professional planners are considering updating the Davis General Plan. I thank the Council for seeking community input. Whenever the topics involve planning, land use and guiding or limiting growth as well as change it will generate lot of comments.  Updating the General Plan is very important! The citizens of Davis and our leaders need to agree upon a goal of adopting a new plan that sets forth a vision for our community going forward.  It should build upon our legacy and our DNA of good planning and community involvement and debate. I want to acknowledge the staff report and complement them on starting the process on the right foot and seeking input and guidance.

2. I encourage the Council and the City of Davis to not be exclusively inward looking in the development of a plan. This process should help to envision and define our place in the world, in the region and within our boundaries for the next 10-15 years. Our planning should be collaborative with other entities.  Let’s not try to forecast change and community needs for too long of a time period. It will be hard to forecast where we want to be and where we want to go in the next decade.  Most innovative organizations realize that the world and our institutions are changing very quickly.  Let’s plan for the future and not fight yesterday’s wars. (Since our last General Plan Update of 2001 there has been rapid and accelerating paces of change.  Google went public, the Apple IPhone launched, there have been breakthroughs in disease management, the terrorist attack of 9/11 and the resulting homeland security response, college debt has grown to be larger than credit card debt, the broader economy has bubbled and burst and is growing again slowly, just to mention a few things)

3. Let’s establish a General Plan process that sets forth goals and processes to collaborate with UCD. UCD has an LRDP underway. Let’s think about how we can piggy-back, collaborate, and leverage their efforts and ideas.  I realize that each is a separate entity with different leaders and missions.  But we are one Campus, one City, and one community, and we should find those things we can plan together and all benefit.

4. While we are at it, we could and should do the same with the School District, the County and Regional Transportation Agencies, and even consider the regional economic development planning organizations and professionals as well.

5. Let’s review and decide where are the best places to become more dense and more vibrant. If we become a more compact, more mixed use, with additional infill buildings, we will be a more walkable community and we will reduce our carbon footprint resulting in greater investment and choices within our community. The new General Plan should target regions, neighborhoods, areas or blocks — instead of application by application or exception by exception.  Let’s have a valuable and frank discussion on where and how we can achieve a better more compact City.  Clearly the core central business district is one opportunity.  What should be the logical boundaries where we preserve the majority of the bungalow character and architecture and the other areas where we might consider 4-7 stories?  Shouldn’t we consider encouraging additional enhancement and investment along 5th Street – both between L and Cantrill as well as on 5th near the Civic Center and School Administration Office? Let’s take a look at densifying our neighborhood Shopping Centers.    We could nudge property and business owners to increase the density in the existing commercial centers. The existing Business Parks could become multi-story and mixed use.  The old planning processes of strictly separating commercial from residential are changing and being replaced around the world with multi-story mixed use.

6. As a goal we should consider actions that accelerate our community’s diversity. How do we address income disparity? How do we create more jobs and a greater mix of housing both single family and multifamily? A good plan should envision and stimulate more places to do business, to start day care centers, establish churches and new civic amenities. Our current General Plan and related planning documents require conditional use permits for pre-schools and day care, for most senior housing, for private recreation facilities and for most mixed use buildings. This should change.

7. Let’s consider and learn more about the trends why more young people are moving to the cities and to large, pedestrian and job friendly urban areas. Why do those who are seeking jobs in emerging companies move to cities and what are some of the macro trends that are leading to the decline of the suburbs? Do we want to retain and attract more of our university graduates to live, start companies and find jobs in Davis? Do we want our own children and grandchildren to have an opportunity to live and work here? I certainly hope so.

8. Let’s have a big picture discussion and review of Transportation. We are fortunate to have the Amtrak station that links us with great frequency to the Bay Area and Sacramento and to passenger connections throughout our country.  How can we leverage this great asset?  We have what appears to look like “prison fences” on one side of the station and the back doors and trash bins from our commercial centers on much of another.  Let’s plan and enhance Transit Oriented Design and focus on 5-minute walking, 5-minute biking, and 5-minute driving radiuses from the Depot.  Let’s plan and encourage it to become a dynamic, vital, inviting and accessible location. Let’s greet visitors with pride at the Depot and have them tell their friends how cool and inviting it is. How can we link the Depot better with the bike and pedestrian paths. buses?  What would the benefits and impacts be if there were additional modes of transportation from the Amtrak terminal to other parts of our community?  Let’s jointly plan with the University to develop reliable and frequent connections by and between the Depot with neighborhoods in the City and the University.

9. With regards to transportation, should we be looking at additional interchanges and off ramps along I-80? Should additional major arterials run parallel to Covell, Russel, F Street, Mace or Sycamore? We should target certain pinch-points to relieve congestion, reduce auto emissions, and make bicycle and pedestrian travel safer.

10. Our plan should set forth goals to enhance our auto and bicycle transportation connectivity with Sacramento. Let’s work with the County and the regional transportation planners to better link bicycles and bicycle support amenities/features across the Causeway and to Sacramento. Should our plan consider becoming a member of the Municipal Joint Power Agency trying to bring a street car across the Sacramento River to Yolo County into West Sacramento? And then to Davis?

11.  Let’s focus on enhancing our web and internet connectivity. Homeowners, businesses, institutions are all seeking better, faster, more secure, reliable connectivity linkages.  Can we help stimulate and leap frog the current land lines and become a demonstration community for connectivity, new networks, web based and e commerce start-ups and companies? Just as we became a global leader in solar in the 70’s, we could try to become a global leader in networking, IT, coding and e-Commerce in the next decade. These industries can join our strengths in education, government, agriculture, water engineering, ag biotechnology, and in solar energy.

12. We have to make our planning smarter, more encouraging, and more streamlined.

13. Let’s have a plan that seeks and defines opportunities. That creates a climate for innovation for competition.  We don’t need to pick winners and losers, we need to create the climate for healthy competition so the plans that are economically viable and viable by other community measures are able to move forward.

14. Let’s think about milestones, timelines, implementation, and flexibility. Let’s create an atmosphere where we attract investment and innovation. This Planning Effort should be done quickly and not drag on and on.

15. Let’s leverage existing technology to make quicker and better decisions.

16. Let’s offer facts and have an honest discussion with the citizens of Davis with regards to our growth. In the 2001 General Plan update, we adopted a 1% growth rate.  The 1% was half of the earlier “2% solution” adopted by the 1987 General Plan and City Councils.  1% would have led to an average of 260 residential units per year. The number of single family residential building permits issued between 2001 and 2014 was 749. That is an average of 54 single family permits per year.  In truth, we grew at only one fifth of our slow growth goal. We did not meet our own internally generated needs and we clearly haven’t met our regional fair share. The rate of growth during the period 2005-2015 has slowed to 0.44%.  During that period the broader economy has experienced both a boom and a bust but regardless we have dramatically slowed.

17. Our General Plan has to acknowledge the reality of our changing demographics, particularly our graying/aging cohort, and the impacts it will have on our schools as well as needed community infrastructure. In 1980, the same year that my wife Robin and I bought our first house in Davis as 28-year olds, 30% of the Davis homeowners were under the age of 35.  By 2013, according to the Census, that number had fallen to only 4% of the homes are now owned by residents under 35. Also during that same era, we have seen the growth of the majority of our senior, skilled nursing, and independent living communities. I suspect if this trend continues we might need a parcel tax to support nursing homes instead of public schools.

18. We haven’t done our fair share to provide opportunities for multi-family housing and to deliver housing choices for current and future students as well as for the growing number of citizens who elect to rent instead of own. We have a lack of land zoned for apartments within the City. Let’s clearly identify the current inventory of readily available properly zoned sites for multi-family. Let’s have the plan make sure that we create a competitive supply of land zoned for multi-family or mixed-use multi-family for the next decade.  I know there are voices within the community who say that the University hasn’t provided their share of that needed student housing. That may be true and I believe they have made great strides on it in their most recent LRDP.  But my recollection is that the goal is for UCD to build or provide 25-33% of that new housing on campus.  Mathematically and good planning means that the remainder of 66% to 75% of that new housing should be made available off campus or within the City.  I suspect that we are lagging far behind the University in making sure that there will be housing to support the growth of our college town. For environmental and safety reasons we need to plan and prepare for 10,000 +- additional new students in the coming General Plan. We are not prepared to meet the needs of future students and this is going to precipitate a crisis and add to the dramatic cost of obtaining a college degree.

19. With regards to the lack of available supply of sites and parcels for Business and Commercial development, that supply and the mix of opportunities to grow ones’ business or to provide locations for innovation are greatly limited. In many regards it is approaching the level of concern that we face in multi-family. Davis Office vacancy is in the single digits. There are very few spaces for companies to grow their businesses. Rents are beginning to accelerate in the downtown because there has been little if any new investment or construction of commercial.  In the 2001 General Plan update, the Chapter on Economic and Business Development sets forth a good macro review. It should be updated to reflect today’s setting to also include a list of state and regional changes underway. (In 2001, Mather and McClelland were undergoing the impacts of base closing).  As an aside, it should be noted that in 2001, two companies that were singled out for their private sector employment are both gone, Hunts and Calgene. The findings of the Economic Development Task Force Report of 1992 are restated, in the 2001 General Plan update and the following Economic Development Goals were established as follows below

  1. Maintain and enhance the Core Area as a vibrant, healthy downtown that serves as the city’s social, cultural and entertainment center and primary, but not exclusive, retail and business district.
  2. Attract visitors to Davis.
  3. Retain existing businesses and encourage new ones as a means to increase higher paying jobs, create greater job diversification, and create a more balanced economy for all economic segments of the community, while also maintaining the City’s fiscal and environmental integrity.
  4. Encourage new businesses to locate in Davis, targeting business which improve the city’s fiscal base, are consistent with the City’s values and identity, and match the employment skills of the population, such as those in the emerging technology and knowledge-based industries
  5. Work with other organizations to identify needs and develop work force and training opportunities in areas identified as needed by the Davis business community
  6. Continue to support the marketing efforts and expansion needs of the existing automobile dealers in the “Davis Auto Center”.

20. Let’s evaluate our current goals in our General Plan as they relate to Economic Development and include aspects on sustainability, diversification, resilience, and reduced carbon foot print. Let’s incorporate some of the findings of the Innovation Task Force Reports and the lessons learned from the Request for the Expressions of Interest (RFEI) attempt at public private partnership, and the failure of any of those private sector respondents to gain traction/support and stimulate investment and new infrastructure for businesses. How can our plan help better foster public /private partnerships?

These are my thoughts.  A couple more observations from listening to the City Council’s discussion of July 19th.  I heard the City Council discuss and direct the staff on some good ideas to improve General Plan effort.  I felt that the tone and the thoughts by the Council were very good ones and these leaders will likely do a great job if they don’t get bogged down in too laborious of a process. Big picture plan not minutae please!

I would like to respond to a couple of matters that came up though.  First do we need to become a Charter City?  I don’t know the answer to that and the impacts that it might have on our General Plan.   I just hope we don’t get totally distracted from the critical need to bring our General Plan into the 21th Century.  Can we bifurcate the two matters or is it essential to become a charter city to develop a better General Plan?

I also heard a majority on the Council indicate that they hope that the new plan will consider and incorporate a type of planning known as “Form Based Codes”.  As it was described it seems that it might have much to offer.  But there are also other valuable planning sub specialties that are offered by the US Green Building Council and their LEED planning.  There are great planning processes offered through the Urban Land Institute (ULI).  Also, Transit Oriented Development or Transit Oriented Design (TOD) will also have great approaches and lessons as well to help us with our General Plan.

In closing, I would encourage us all to roll up our sleeves.  Let’s work to develop a great plan.  Let’s not be afraid of ruffling a few feathers and dispelling a few myths.  Davis has a rich history of thoughtful planning!  Our forefathers/mothers brought the railroad here. We planned flood protection and laid out a downtown and community grid.  We planned and started the University Farm now UCD.  The campus leaders and planners brought us the Arboretum, a great diversified campus including great structures and great jobs that it has evolved and grown to be a leading academic and research center.  Our community and campus plans shared a common goal of increasing bicycle transport and enhancing bicycle safety.  In recent years UCD’s LRDP has brought us the Mondavi Center, the Food and Wine Institute, an enhanced entry from I-80 and soon the new Shrem Art Museum.  Village Homes was planned and built and was cutting edge. The neighborhoods of Northstar, Aspen, Stonegate, Mace Ranch, Wildhorse, Oakshade, and College Park with greenbelts, wildlife habitats and recreation, and their housing choices got planned and built and are the fabric of our community.  A Zero Net Energy Community has been built and delivered in West Village. And great and thoughtful planning has brought us much, much more. We have much to be proud of in our planning and in our community.

We can and should embrace exceptional planning.  Let’s not be afraid of change.  UCD is updating the LRDP and the City of Davis should update our General Plan.  Together we can create a better community and campus while minimizing our impacts on the environment.

I would welcome any follow up comments or questions and look forward to participating and hopefully contributing to an exceptional plan for our future.

Jim Gray is a 41-year resident of Davis and a UCD Alum.  I am a real estate broker and developer and a Senior Vice President at Cushman & Wakefield and I am also a LEED –AP, Accredited Professional by the US Green Building Council. I have been active in the community including serving on the 1987 General Plan Committee the 2001 General Plan update also he was on the Affordable Housing Task Force and the Budget and Finance Committee. I served a 4-year term on the Yolo County Planning Commission including service as chairman. 

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61 thoughts on “Guest Commentary: Let’s Embrace a New General Plan—Some Thoughts and Suggestions”

  1. Marina Kalugin

    not too interested….need someone of Matt’s caliber on the council majority before I am willing to put in the hours like I used to so many other times…

    Brett is mostly good, but he also voted for Nishi….urghhhhhh

    and Will is an heir of the local real estate/development dynasty….urghhhh..  he should be recusing himself on every single development issue….sighhhh

    at least Wolk is gone, but….jeez…nary an independent thinker left on that bunch….

  2. ryankelly

    I fully support every point in Jim Gray’s article above.

    I would only add that attention needs to be put on a regional transportation plan that includes more frequent and more alternative transportation and better routes.

    Routes have not changed in decades despite development in Woodland and the relocation of services and the expansion of Woodland Community College, etc.  It can take up to 45 minutes to take buses to WCC from Davis.  More and more UCD students, faculty and staff are living in Woodland.  Also, we need a bike path that is not on the shoulder of a high-speed, heavily traveled County road between the two cities.

    1. Grok

      RK – since you “fully support every point in Jim Gray’s article above,” I have an honest question, can you please explain what you support from point 9 and why?

      9. With regards to transportation, should we be looking at additional interchanges and off ramps along I-80? Should additional major arterials run parallel to Covell, Russel, F Street, Mace or Sycamore? We should target certain pinch-points to relieve congestion, reduce auto emissions, and make bicycle and pedestrian travel safer.

      Where would these new Major arterials be located?

       

      1. Mark West

        You ‘plan’ for the future as the City evolves, which may or may not include expansion. If the City expands, where will the new arterials be located? As the population grows (through expansion or densification), will we need new interchanges? Widened roads? More bike paths? You don’t plan for what already exists, you plan for the projected changes over the next 10-20 years, while keeping an eye on what may come 50-100 years further down the road.

      2. Jim Gray

        I have no agenda for where additional transportation and roadway improvements should be. I merely wanted to make the point that in planning for future residents we will need to evaluate major arterials and address current and future congestion. Expanded Grid?  New Loop Roads?  It might be interesting to have some good traffic engineers and modelers evaluate Olive Drive Off Ramp and Hickory Lane?  The long stretch between Mace and Richards? Potential widening of Covell at 113?

  3. Michael Harrington

    Jim was one of the primary proponents of Nishi, the worst project ever proposed in Davis.  Covell Village did not come close by a mile.

    The business model of Nishi was to extract rent from international parents who don’t know the true story and to put their kids into an environment of toxic soup cradled in the bowl between a huge freeway and massive numbers of diesel engines roaring past within yards.

    I’d be interested in hearing what new business models Jim and friends have in mind for us?

    1. Jim Gray

      Michael… I was one of the citizen’s who spoke in favor of the Nishi Project.  I am not and was not a primary proponent. I thought and continue to think that it was a good area to accommodate a portion of Davis housing and commercial needs.  I have no financial or direct business interest in the property.  I do know the proponents and believe that they were trying to do something of value for the community.  The Voters have spoken.

      There is no conspiracy to cram down a new secret plan.  Merely trying to encourage some broader and important thinking about a important planning effort.

       

  4. Alan Miller

    Should our plan consider becoming a member of the Municipal Joint Power Agency trying to bring a street car across the Sacramento River to Yolo County into West Sacramento? And then to Davis?

    No, our plan should not consider this.  This sounds like a great idea, but in reality it is not.  First, it is decades away at best as it not on any official radars.  Second, streetcars work best where there is dense population across the entire route — there is 7-8 miles here with virtually no population.  Third, this would require a new rail bridge over the Yolo Causeway.  This would be a massively expensive undertaking with minor ridership and revenue return.  Fourth, we would need to acquire a linear right-of-way for the trains, also a massively expensive and time-consuming undertaking.

    Most people in Davis going east are headed for Sacramento.  Currently, the train takes 13 minutes to make the journey.  A streetcar would have a lower speed (Amtrak hits 79mph between Davis and Sacramento) and would stop multiple times in West Sacramento.  This would require at least double the time, probably much more.  And, as anyone who has ever taken the local 42 through West Sacramento can attest, you share the trip with some very “interesting” people.

    A much more financially sane solution is expansion of the Capitol Corridor, possibly with some augmented service during commute hours.  With some substantial investment in cars and rail infrastructure, trains could be hourly from 5am to 11pm, and half-hourly during weekday commute hours.  This is large investment, but compared to acquisition of a new right-of-way and a new bridge over the Causeway, the investment is peanuts.  As well, it is doable on a several-year timeline, not a several-decade timeline.

     

    1. ryankelly

      Woah. I didn’t notice this.  No, I don’t think it will work.  Right up there with a return to having ferries across the causeway when it is flooded.

      1. Jim Gray

        Ferries across the Causeway is a great and funny image.  If the State of California and the Fed’s don’t invest in Bridge Infrastructure over the Sacramento River and Widening of the Highway across the Causeway we might need future Ferries?

         

    2. Jim Gray

      Alan:  Your observation about the differences between “heavy passenger rail” and “light rail” or street cars in a very good one.  We are very fortunate to have the Capitol Corridor and it is my belief that we should really focus on making our depot and planning around alternatives to the car.  Davis is in a very unique position to do that.

      With regards to street cars or light rail it is merely an idea to stimulate additional thinking/planning about potential in Davis.  Suppose there existed a street car or Outdoor Escalator System like in Hong Kong, that could transport folks from the Depot to UCD.  Or from the depot to office, lab, residential and commercial centers?

      Or is it the driverless cars or shuttles… Once upon a time Davis was really a leader and innovator in transportation planning and we could continue the legacy.

  5. Eileen Samitz

    Jim Gray as a real estate agent and developer, would of course, be expected to have a different perspective on the subject of growth in Davis. This is understandable since he is in the business of building and promoting growth, and he is entitled to his opinion.

    However, Jim has information in his article it which is inaccurate and some statements are simply untrue. For instance:

    “16. Let’s offer facts and have an honest discussion with the citizens of Davis with regards to our growth. In the 2001 General Plan update, we adopted a 1% growth rate.  The 1% was half of the earlier “2% solution” adopted by the 1987 General Plan and City Councils.  1% would have led to an average of 260 residential units per year. The number of single family residential building permits issued between 2001 and 2014 was 749. That is an average of 54 single family permits per year.  In truth, we grew at only one fifth of our slow growth goal. We did not meet our own internally generated needs and we clearly haven’t met our regional fair share. The rate of growth during the period 2005-2015 has slowed to 0.44%.  During that period the broader economy has experienced both a boom and a bust but regardless we have dramatically slowed.”

    So yes, let’s talk abut these “facts” and have some real honest discussion. First of all the 1987 General Plan growth rate was 1.8% in the 1987 General Plan, not 2% and it was too much. Our small City’s develope- land was being built out at a ridiculously accelerated rate with large residential subdivisions, including Mace Ranch, Wildhorse, Oakshade, Aspen, Evergreen, North Star, etc. Our schools were overcrowded and our City Services were stretched beyond capacity. Due to this out if control resident ail growth, the community was clear on supporting our slow growth policy from the Measure L language ” to growth as slow as legally possible”. That is where the 1% growth cap came in and Measure J/R shorty after because we could not count on City Council’s in the past to adhere to our community’s slow growth desires.

    Also, while the false claim City has not provided its regional fair share of growth, This is completely untrue. The City has at least 800 units zoned and approved to be built for this RHNA period but what Jim does not acknowledged is that the County was in a recessive during the majority of this 2001 – 2014 time period which slowed down the building of these units. There is almost another 500 units being proposed now as well. So it was not that the City was suppressing the building of these units, it was developers like Jim Gray who opted not to build during the recession. So for the record, the City HAS planned and provided its RHNA fair share, and that seems pretty evident now the developers are coming out of the woodwork to build them with the plethora of projects approved. For instance, Cannery, Grande Village, Chiles Ranch, Missions Residences, BerryBridge, and Paso Fino just to name a few.

    Also regarding the following comment:

    “18. We haven’t done our fair share to provide opportunities for multi-family housing and to deliver housing choices for current and future students as well as for the growing number of citizens who elect to rent instead of own. We have a lack of land zoned for apartments within the City. Let’s clearly identify the current inventory of readily available properly zoned sites for multi-family. Let’s have the plan make sure that we create a competitive supply of land zoned for multi-family or mixed-use multi-family for the next decade.  I know there are voices within the community who say that the University hasn’t provided their share of that needed student housing. That may be true and I believe they have made great strides on it in their most recent LRDP.  But my recollection is that the goal is for UCD to build or provide 25-33% of that new housing on campus.  Mathematically and good planning means that the remainder of 66% to 75% of that new housing should be made available off campus or within the City.  I suspect that we are lagging far behind the University in making sure that there will be housing to support the growth of our college town. For environmental and safety reasons we need to plan and prepare for 10,000 +- additional new students in the coming General Plan. We are not prepared to meet the needs of future students and this is going to precipitate a crisis and add to the dramatic cost of obtaining a college degree.”

    First of all UCD promised the City in its MOU from over20 years ago to build at least 25% on campus housing and 35% incoming students. UC themselves later updated the need for on-campus housing on all the campuses, with its task force writing the 2002 document “UC Housing for the 21st Century”.  UCD was to provide 38% on-campus housing by 2012 with a goal of 40%. UC Sysemwide goal was to be 42%. So since UCD has neglected its obligation to provide this housing so far, the solution is not to force it on our community which can not handle the enormous student population growth that UCD  itself is creating, but for UCD to focus on providing the needed on-campus housing for its own growth.

    UCD’s negligence to provide the promised on campus housing is more responsible for our community’s low vacancy rate than any other factor. Therefore, UCD is the responsible party to correct the problem that they are creating. UCD has over 5,000 acres of land which is essential free, and therefore there is no excuse why UCD has not kept their commitments to their students and to our community of building the needed on-campus housing.  While this article attempts to hoist these UCD housing needs on our community, what is not mentioned is that City residents wind up paying for the expensive infrastructure and City services if the City continues to allow the opportunistic situation that UCD has had with the City for too long. The result is Davis residents wind up subsidizing UCD’s enormous housing needs in our community. So to remedy this situation, now is the time to let UCD understand that their LRDP update needs to significantly increase provision of on-campus student apartments, not just dorms, to provide housing for the entire time that the UCD students attend UCD. This is UCD’s obligation since our community has already been providing a disproportionate amount of housing for UCD’s housing needs and it needs to stop now. It has been unfair of UCD to not to fulfill its commitments to its students and to our community and that needs to change now during UCD’s LRDP update.

     

     

    1. ryankelly

      Eileen, All this would be part of the discussion and planning for how to move forward from here and now.

      I think that landlords in the City have benefited well from UCD’s enormous housing needs, so I don’t see the subsidy that you are talking about.

      1. Eileen Samitz

        ryankelly,

        Perhaps some absentee landlords have benefited personally, however the vast majority of Davis citizens would be paying for the infrastructure to support these (literally) thousands of rental units including wastewater, water, and City services. UCD needs to be providing the land (which is free and on-site) not only for the convenience for the students, but also to provide the needed on-campus housing rather than imposing the need for the enormous amount of housing needed for existing, and the accelerated numbers of new UCD students coming. UCD simply needs to build the needed apartments on campus for their own growth. They promised it, they acknowledged it, and now they need to build it now when it is needed due to their own ambitious growth desires.

        UCD has their own resources that they need to be using for their own housing needs on-campus such as access to 5,000 acres of (free) land, their own waste water treatment plant, water, and other on-campus services which are in place to support the on-campus housing needed, rather than UCD imposing those costs for their own housing needs onto our community as they have been doing in excess, for over 20 years. Also they have a more than $1 Billion dollar endowment fund so they have the funds also.

        1. Chamber Fan

          I don’t understand what is gained by pushing students onto campus.  We end up with the same encroachments onto farmland.  The students are separated from this community except at night when they come to party.  That means they still contribute to cost for city services, except we receive no tax money from them and they are effectively disenfranchised from participation in city politics.  This seems like the worst of all worlds and all to reduce the number of additional apartment complexes in town?

          1. Don Shor

            This is getting very exasperating. It’s great that the university will be eventually providing more housing for the new students. It would be great if they’d provide some more housing for the backlog they’ve created over a decade or so, but they haven’t made any commitment to do that. Even if they do, we need rental housing in town. We are way behind. The university will not be providing all of what we need. The university will not solve the rental housing shortage. And it is likely that their construction will follow enrollment increases, not precede them. So we continue to have, and will continue to have, a severe shortage of rental housing in Davis.
            We need student housing on campus.
            We need rental housing in town.

        2. South of Davis

          The average Davis homeowner comes out WAY   ahead with the students here in town since most homes are worth hundreds of thousands more than similar homes in Woodland or Dixon

    2. Jim Gray

      Eileen:  I want to fully respond to your points with both facts and my opinions.  I think that it is not fair to say that I am not dealing in facts when you say that it was 1.8% not 2%.  I was using round numbers and doing it from memory and recall vividly what was referred to as the “2% alternative” but I will say you are also right it was the “1.8% alternative”… On that matter I will grant you that your number was rounded to a more certain decimal point.

      I think that any fair and long term review — say since 2001 — of the number of new apartments built in Davis versus on Campus that neither the City or the University have provided either sufficient units or available zoned property for sufficient  multi-family units to be developed. As a result we are facing a real housing affordability crisis.

      I hope that we can find a way to encourage the University to provide more housing but they also have huge requirements and needs to provide class rooms, labs, meeting spaces and other needs for students and staff.  Also please note that the University doesn’t act as a contractor or a builder of apartments — they create agreements and contracts for private sector developers to enter into public private partnerships with them to build housing.  It has it’s own challenges and lengthy processes to get done.  But when successful projects like West Village emerge.

      I would hope that while we are encouraging the University that we could also recognize that as a City we have not planned to meet our current and future needs as well.  And with regards to your comment that there is a Plethora or Projects.

      So for the record, the City HAS planned and provided its RHNA fair share, and that seems pretty evident now the developers are coming out of the woodwork to build them with the plethora of projects approved. For instance, Cannery, Grande Village, Chiles Ranch, Missions Residences, BerryBridge, and Paso Fino just to name a few.

      The Cannery is now under construction it is a 547 Home Development .  Efforts to develop there failed because of economics, the right developer, ultimate approval , and it has take decades and tens of millions of dollars to get to the stage that it is currently in.  Grande Village has been proposed and in the works for 20+ years as well with developers who have come and gone.  I wish Don Fouts well but at the end of the day it will be about 41 houses+- meeting about 1/5th of the 1% goal of 260 units per year. Chiles Ranch is also proposed by Fouts but nothing is happening there yet it is a modest infill project with a proposal for 96 homes. Mission Residence the Kidd Proposal on B Street has broken ground but it is only 14 units.  Berry Bridge is an Affordable Housing Site and will be 8 units. Paso Fino is 6 units. (547+41+96+14+8 = 706)

      I know to a casual observer or to a “no growther” this seems like a plethora of projects.  But if you add up all that has been built in the last 15 years and all that you have identified above we are not keeping pace with our community’s needs and not even keeping up with the 1%.

       

       

      1. Don Shor

        My recollection from that time is that there was some debate as to whether the 1% was a ceiling or a goal. I see that debate was not resolved.

      2. Eileen Samitz

        Jim,

        Given your comments for the need for housing, particularly rental housing, your efforts would be best placed publicly to motivate UCD to build the on-campus housing that is needed to alleviate the rental housing pressure on our community. However, since you are a professional developer and real estate agent in Davis, I can understand why you are not willing to advocate for that.

        Meanwhile, I suggest that you stop blaming what housing was approved in Davis that did not get built due to the recession, or on slow growth policies that Davis has had for decades (including while you were a student at UCD.)

        1. Don Shor

          since you are a professional developer and real estate agent

          Eileen, I have known both you and Jim Gray for many years. I don’t like this tack you’re taking on his comments. Jim will not make any more or less money if housing is built in town or on campus. I believe that, like you, he has arrived at his positions on housing and commercial development in and around Davis based on his beliefs and values — not because of his profession. I don’t question your motives or his. In fact, I don’t think you know what Jim’s position is on how, whether, or where UCD should build housing. So I suggest you take people at face value for the things they say on these issues.

        2. Eileen Samitz

          Eileen, I have known both you and Jim Gray for many years. I don’t like this tack you’re taking on his comments. Jim will not make any more or less money if housing is built in town or on campus. I believe that, like you, he has arrived at his positions on housing and commercial development in and around Davis based on his beliefs and values — not because of his profession. I don’t question your motives or his. In fact, I don’t think you know what Jim’s position is on how, whether, or where UCD should build housing. So I suggest you take people at face value for the things they say on these issues.

          For some strange reason I can not seem to respond to Don’s comment as a “Reply” and I am sure that this is some odd technical issue. So to be clear on my response, if Jim Gray as a professional real estate agent and developer in Davis is so concerned about the availability of housing in Davis, and if this does not involve his profession in any way, why has he not advocated publicly for more on-campus housing by UCD?

        3. hpierce

          To me, a “developer” has ‘skin in the game’… they make an investment in a venture, then if it works out to be profitable, you share in the profit, in accordance with your investment. Pretty sure that never has applied to Jim Gray, but he can answer for himself.

          If anyone who participates in any way in a development is, by your definition, a “developer”, every general contractor (grading, roads, pipelines, etc.), carpenter, electrician, plumber, material service person involved might be considered a “developer”.

          I prefer my definition, and am fairly sure Mr Gray is NOT a developer, at least by my definition.

        4. Grok

          HP – Jim Gray self identifies as a developer. His Byline on this very article says so.

          Jim Gray is a 41-year resident of Davis and a UCD Alum.  I am a real estate broker and developer and a Senior Vice President at Cushman & Wakefield and I am also a LEED –AP, Accredited Professional by the US Green Building Council. I have been active in the community including serving on the 1987 General Plan Committee the 2001 General Plan update also he was on the Affordable Housing Task Force and the Budget and Finance Committee. I served a 4-year term on the Yolo County Planning Commission including service as chairman. 

  6. Grok

    Mr. Gray says some very nice and positive things about a new general plan update. But, as Eileen points out, the devil is in the details. If we can’t be factually accurate as we discuss the general plan this process is going to be nasty and unpleasant. Let’s all do our best to avoid that.

    Section 9 in particular doesn’t quite make sense to me, and I hope Mr. Gray can explain more.

    Mr. Gray says, “Should additional major arterials run parallel to Covell, Russel, F Street, Mace or Sycamore? “

    Looking at a map, I just can’t see where a new East West road is going to go that doesn’t either require bulldozing houses or leap frog large tracks of ag land or the University.
     
    As for the North-South route does he mean a new Central Davis artery carved through existing neighborhoods? He omits several other North South arteries (Anderson, Pole Line, Mace, and Lake).
     
     
    Perhaps Mr. Gray can do more to explain what he is proposing, but at this early stage of the process, as it stands in this article, it sounds like he is already proposing building significant infrastructure leapfrogging large swaths of ag land outside of the current city footprint. Mr. gray, can you please clarify?

    1. Jim Gray

      Grok— Out of curiosity is that a first or a last name?

      Clearly any good plan has to start with Values- then a Vision- Then Strategy- Then Tactics– the Devil is in the Details for sure.  My comments with regards to Roadways was merely to make a point that if the next General Plan envisions 10-20% increase in our population ( resident population/ daytime population/visitors ) then we will need to also consider the opportunities and the impacts and the costs of new infrastructure.  I have no particular plan and I have no current ownership interests in Farm Land in the path of development.  As we plan for the future we also may have an opportunity to make enhancements to our circulation to relieve some of the pinch-points and congestion.

      You are right infrastructure is expensive and must be planned for and to be financed it will need to be phased or have reasonable absorption forecast.

      1. Grok

        Mr. gray, I appreciate your response. Can you clarify if you are proposing creating new peripheral roads, somehow inserting new internal arterials through existing neighborhoods, or both?

         

  7. Eileen Samitz

    South of Davis,

    Not sure of your reasoning here, but one thing is for certain, Davis does not come out way ahead. Given your anonymous name for posting on the Vanguard, it sounds like you are not a Davis resident, so the costs would not impact you, but they certainly would impact Davis residents as well as the other impacts including traffic, parking as well as the infrastructure costs.

    1. South of Davis

      Eileen wrote:

      > Davis does not come out way ahead.

      So are you telling me that I am wrong and you don’t think that Davis homes are not worth hundreds of thousands more than Woodland or Dixon homes or is it that you don’t consider $200K enough to say that we are coming out “way” ahead.

      > it sounds like you are not a Davis resident,

      > so the costs would not impact you

      I’m only a couple hundred yards south of Putah Creek and all the parcel taxes seem to make it on to my “South of Davis” tax bill (and I pay a lot more related to still owning our last home that we couldn’t sell since it was worth less than we owed 5 years ago and a business in Davis).

      > other impacts including traffic, parking as well as the infrastructure costs.

      Anyone that says Davis has bad traffic needs to get out more, sure it is worse than Bodie, NV but after living in LA and SF Davis has nothing to complain about.  With the No on A crowd out on election Day my “commute” from “South of Davis” over Richards was about 12 minutes (two minutes longer than normal) and I have (really) had a harder time parking in downtown Winters over the years than in downtown Davis (It is easier to park in Davis on Picnic Day and Graduation Day than on a “normal day” in Cow Hollow or Santa Monica).

      If you are worried costs are going to high why not sell your Davis home and move to Woodland or Dixon and buy a condo with the extra $200K you will have?

    2. DavidSmith

      I echo South of Davis’s view point. It seems Eileen did not study very well the housing price situation in Davis compared to nearby town. Go on Zillow or Redfin and look at the price/ft2 in Davis and in Woodland. The difference is huge.

  8. Eileen Samitz

    South of Davis and DavidSmith,

    What I am still not understanding is how you are advocating for more students living in in Davis and trying to relate this to the higher cost of housing here? Historically, it has been seen in the past that even when a large number of units are built, as in 1999 (around 1,000 units in one year) that the cost of housing in Davis did not go down, but continued to rise. This is because Davis is a nice place to live.  If you don’t mind traffic and taking on additional costs South of Davis, you might want to take the advice that you are offering me (which I am not interested in because I love living in Davis) of selling your place for a profit and moving where you don’t mind living with these conditions, and then you would not be so discontent living next to Davis.

    My point is simply that any housing shortage in Davis has more to do with UCD needing to build the on-campus apartments for their own growth, and the fact that the recession delayed developers from moving forward the building of plenty of housing that was approved tin Davis hat is just starting to be built now.

  9. Frankly

    I very much appreciate what Jim has laid out here.  I agree with much of it and think it is a great launching pad to start a discussion.  But I am not going to spend any time on it while Measure R exists.  Measure R gives too much power to those that get a (false) feeling of being powerful change-blocking agents.  They don’t have to invest but a pittance of their own capital at risk to win.  They get giddy, smug and downright irritating in how they present themselves as being up there with real visionaries and leaders that make good things happen.  Measure R allows the minor league and bench-warmers to take over the game while those with real capability for planning and implementing progress get beat each time they attempt something great.  Measure R epitomizes the destructive force that is tyranny of the majority.

    While Measure R exists I will give all my attention to surrounding communities that are governed effectively… allowing the people to have a voice, but not allowing them to govern over their elected representatives.

    Look in the mirror Davis residents and ask yourself how do you feel about your city noting the type of people calling the shots for what Davis becomes?  If you like it, then welcome to the minor leagues.  If you don’t then do something about it.

  10. ryankelly

    “Jim Gray as a real estate agent and developer, would of course, be expected to have a different perspective on the subject of growth in Davis. This is understandable since he is in the business of building and promoting growth…”

    “Brett is mostly good, but he also voted for Nishi….urghhhhhh

    and Will is an heir of the local real estate/development dynasty….urghhhh..  he should be recusing himself on every single development issue….sighhhh”

    “Jim was one of the primary proponents of Nishi, the worst project ever proposed in Davis. “

    I guess there are some people who think that only people that aligned against Nishi are to be trusted to participate in any general plan update or planning in general.  This seems to be the automatic message.  If people are unwilling to even engage in the process and condemn the result before the process even starts, what are we to do?

    1. Grok

      I guess there are some people who think that only people that aligned against Nishi are to be trusted to participate in any general plan update or planning in general. 

      I think you would be hard pressed to find people who are so one sided that they don’t believe diverse perspectives should be included in a general plan update process. However I can understand how one might be concerned that the current council who backed Nishi 5-0 might not be in touch with 50% of the voters when it comes to new development.

       

  11. Eileen Samitz

    ryankelly,

    I will only take responsibility for my own comments and that said, I am simply pointing out that Jim Gray as a real estate agent and developer is going to have a different perspective on growth in Davis, and that is understandable given his profession. I did not say that he did not have a right to have an opinion or input, so please do not try to make unwarranted assumptions on what I post.

    1. Grok

      I am simply pointing out that Jim Gray as a real estate agent and developer is going to have a different perspective on growth in Davis, and that is understandable given his profession. I did not say that he did not have a right to have an opinion or input, so please do not try to make unwarranted assumptions on what I post.

      fair point Eileen.

  12. ryankelly

    Eileen, Your assumed job of opposing development also colors your view of planning and development and your reaction is predicable.   I think that the community needs to hear from other additional views, so we aren’t just looking at extremes.  Yes, the University needs to build housing.  But, Yes the City needs to extend its General Plan.

    1. Grok

      Your assumed job of opposing development also colors your view of planning and development and your reaction is predicable.

      RK – Your attempt to devalue Eileen’s point of view is pretty lame considering she supported the Cannery.

  13. Eileen Samitz

    ryankelly,

    I am disappointed to see your condescending comment. I have never said that other views should not be heard. However, it is just fair to understand when pro-development opinions are being advocated by a developer.

    For instance jpierce seems to believe that Jim Gray is not a developer, however based upon Jim Gray’s own admission after his article:

    “Jim Gray is a 41-year resident of Davis and a UCD Alum.  I am a real estate broker and developer…”

    1. hpierce

      I specifically spoke as to the last ten years… during that time, am not aware of any Davis project that he has invested in as a developer… as also as much as said, Jim Gray knows Jim Gray better than I do…

      However, it is just fair to understand when pro-development opinions are being advocated by a developer.

      I guess that means Mr Gray is being fair, right?

       

       

    2. ryankelly

      Eileen,  Jim was very transparent about his business background.   I think I can evaluate the source of the information on my own.  Repeatedly pointing out that he has a background as a developer just seems to be an attempt to devalue his opinion.

  14. Eileen Samitz

    ryankelly,

    No one is accusing him of not being transparent. I am simply saying he has very pro-growth views and it is understandable given his profession. There is no need to defend him because as I have stated, he has the right to his own opinion and to express his views as well.

    1. Grok

      No one is accusing him of not being transparent. I am simply saying he has very pro-growth views and it is understandable given his profession. There is no need to defend him because as I have stated, he has the right to his own opinion and to express his views as well.

      Exactly.

      RK and HP you need to chill out and stop badgering Eileen. Your posts are repetitive and not helpful to a general Plan Update discussion.

  15. ryankelly

    I am simply saying he has very pro-growth views and it is understandable given his profession

    I suspect that your repeated statements about his professional background are meant to devalue his opinion.  Otherwise you wouldn’t keep repeating it.   You could address the substance of his opinion without doing this.

    1. Grok

      Geesh RK. Her repeated statements are because you keep attacking her. Why don’t you go be nasty to someone offline for a while or better yet, just give it a break.

      1. ryankelly

        What if every time someone posts an opinion or makes a suggestion, someone explains that those views are understandable because of their employment, years of residency, how they voted in recent and past elections, which campaigns they endorsed, who their friends are, who they vacation with or which books they read, etc?  I see this as a way to evaluate the source of the opinion and devaluate it.  I think that this is divisive and non-constructive.  It works to separate the community into good hats and bad hats, depending on which side you align with.   People not in the fray are getting weary of this and it has to not be the first response to every opinion about planning in Davis.  That is my opinion.

  16. Eileen Samitz

    ryankelly,

    I am not going to repeat it since I have made my point as clear as I can, and I would just rather not belabor this subject any more.

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