Planning Commission Not Ready to Make Decision; Will Tour Site

Guneet Bajwa from Presidio Companies gives the initial presentation on behalf of the applicant
Guneet Bajwa from Presidio Companies gives the initial presentation on behalf of the applicant

The Davis Planning Commission on Wednesday listened to nearly an hour and a half of public comment.  Thirty-seven people spoke on Wednesday night, and while the commenters were evenly split on whether they supported or opposed the Hyatt House Hotel project proposed for south Davis on Cowell Boulevard along I-80, with 20 speaking out against the project, the neighbors were near unanimous in their opposition.

In deciding to hold over the decision for another meeting, it was clear that while a number of the arguments from the neighbors were rejected, a big concern that the Planning Commission had was the issue of privacy, with many neighbors concerned that third and fourth story windows would look directly into their homes and with many expressing concern over the sufficiency and also permanency of the tree cover.

Commissioner Stephen Mikesell said, “I heard reference to a number of things that might individually or collectively constitute a nuisance – the visual impact of the hotel.”  In addition to noise, he noted that there are concerns from the neighbors about public safety or “bad actors being added into the neighborhood,” traffic and privacy.

“I think I heard enough to come to the general conclusion that almost of those really don’t rise to the level of being a nuisance,” he said.  “The one that was bothersome to me was, and was probably listed by 80 percent of those who opposed the project, was the subject of privacy.”

He said, “Privacy is a really sticky issue because even a residential development raises the issue of privacy because you have two-story buildings next to one-story buildings and it’s impossible to have a backyard that no one can look into.”

“That was the most strong statement that I heard from the community,” he said.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Cheryl Essex added, “I really don’t understand the concern about strangers.  I have to say.”

A full house on Wednesday as Bill Habicht gives his presentation
A full house on Wednesday as Bill Habicht gives his presentation

“At our best, we’re really an open-hearted community,” she said.  “We want to be a model … we talk about all the time, how proud we are of our community and how we want to be a model and so many different ways.  To be a model, you have to show it off.  We’ve got one of the finest universities in the world here – we like to show it off.  We love strangers in our town.”

“I don’t understand the concerns about security in the neighborhood,” Ms. Essex continued.  “I think the hotel would be a real benefit to that.”

She went on to note a number of benefits to the city in terms of business as well as noise reduction from the freeway.  “I feel like it could increase security, so you don’t have to worry about arson in your backyard,” she added.  But she said, “I think there is a strong potential for privacy impacts to the neighbors.  I’m really concerned about that.”

Ms. Essex said she felt like they couldn’t move forward at this particular meeting because she doesn’t think “we know for certain what those privacy impacts may be and whether we have adequately mitigated them.”

Neil Denowa, one of the neighbors who presented the petition that was on, noted that, given concerns about the validity of the signatures, they scrubbed out non-Davis zip codes.  “We still have 255 signatures before you today asking you not to re-zone this parcel of land,” he said.

Neil Denowa
Neil Denowa

He told the commission that he went door to door and through phone calls and email to speak with 75 to 100 households.  He said he wanted to understand what the concerns were.  “I would say the number one concern that I have heard from my neighbors is the 24-hour, 7 days a week occupancy of this business.”

He said that when they purchased their homes they were under the impression that this would be a business park or light industrial, most of the business occurring while people were at work and not in their homes.  “I think that speaks volumes to the privacy that you expect when you’re building a property 50 to 100 feet away from our houses.  The proximity of this to our homes is simply too close,” he stated.

Alyssa Burnett, an Albany Avenue resident, said she would face this hotel directly.  Her first concern “is the impact on privacy on my home and those of my neighbors.  The back of this hotel will have four stories of windows that will face our homes, our yards, the line of sight from the third and fourth story will be directly into the front of my house.”

She added that those across the street will have rooms facing the rooms of their children and their backyards.

“The tree study commissioned by the Hyatt noted that there are a number of trees that are not healthy or that need to be defoliated to some extent,” she said.  “The drone video is inconsequential.  If those trees don’t exist, you no longer have that line of privacy.”

Karen Ashby lives on Christie Court, five houses outside of the 500-foot zone.  She said that the process has been mis-characterized as she never received any sort of outreach or communication about this process.  “My home is affected as much as anyone else’s,” she said.

She said it was critical to separate the discussion of the hotel, the art, the wine bar and the pool from the location.  “This is fundamentally about the location,” she said.  “If you pick up this hotel and put it in another location all the points raised by the group presenting this – they all still apply…  It all still exists but not on the backs of the South Davis residents.”

Ms. Ashby said that the existing noise doesn’t bother her and “I’m not asking for a 120 room hotel for noise abatement.”

On the other hand, James Major, the owner of Davis Diamonds Gymnastics, which would be the next door neighbors of the Hyatt House hotel, noted that they have been in their current location for about a year and a half.  “During that time, we have had three very serious, very expensive cases of vandalism on the building.  From our point of view, the more traffic there is in this area, the better it will be.”

“The more activity there is around the area, the safer it’s going to be for everybody,” he said.

Mr. Major noted that there is subpar infrastructure and utilities in the area and they see the development of the Hyatt House as a positive for the development of utilities and other infrastructure.

“We would love to organize gymnastics competitions in Davis,” he said.  He said visiting competitors and their families would stay for awhile and that would be a positive for the whole community, but “they need a place to stay.  That’s not adequate right now.”

DeChristy Adams noted that, as a mother of two gymnasts, this might help improve the troublesome parking situation at Davis Diamonds.  “The parking in their lot is very bad and there are lots of children,” she said.

She is also the fundraiser at Montgomery Elementary School, “Marguerite is the school that has a lot of low income housing in South Davis therefore there’s a tremendous low income population at the school… We have over 60 percent low income and the Hyatt House project has been tremendously generous with their offer of support to help these children get extracurricular exposure to things that a lot of kids get after school, in school.”

Scott Davis, while neither opposing nor supporting the project, noted he lives within 500 feet of a four-story apartment complex – the Eighth and Wake project built by the university on Wake Forest Drive a few years ago.  “There were a lot of concerns about that project, but in retrospect we’ve all come to realize it was really a pretty good thing for us because we live right next to 113, and the noise off that highway is kind of ridiculous at times.”

“Without that structure there we’d be getting the full force of that 24/7,” he continued.  “I’m not here as a proponent or a detractor of the project, that’s not why I’m here.  I’m just here to share my experience which is that in my neighborhood we haven’t had any problems with this development…  I can certainly vouch for the fact that the noise abatement has been a real benefit to our neighborhood in that regard.”

The Planning Commission discussed with city staff doing a full walk-through of the site as a public meeting.  They would not make a determination on the project at that time, which right now is scheduled for their next meeting on September 14.

—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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  1. Tia Will

    “I really don’t understand the concern about strangers.  I have to say.”

    While I myself am leaning more and more towards a positive view of this hotel, pending a thorough review of the projected numbers involved which apparently will be upcoming at a future commission prior to presentation to the city, I am very troubled by Commissioner Essex’s comment. If she had said that she did not agree with the concern, or if she felt that other factors outweighed the concern, I might have agreed. But what she said was that she did not “understand it”. In that regard, perhaps I can help clarify. And I can do it in one word.


    Having raised two young children, both a boy and a girl as a single mother, I had a single, irrational fear. It was that one of my children would leave home and that I would never see them again and would never know what had happened. I did not believe that it was likely to happen, nor did I have any reason to believe that it would happen to either of my children. I recognized it as irrational given the rarity of this event. I did not allow it to govern our lives and I let my kids walk and bike on their own when age appropriate. And, nonetheless, I feared it. I heard this concern in the voice of the father who when speaking about the increased number of people coming and going which is of course the business of the hotel said it “terrified” him.

    So to the commissioners and to hotel proponents ( of which I am likely to be one) I would urge you, while you do not have to agree, while you may find other factors more compelling, this particular fear, please at least try to understand.. No matter how unlikely or unfounded you may find it, this fear is primal. The urge to ensure the safety of our children is basic to our existence. None of the people who shared this fear named it directly. Perhaps they cannot. I know I never bluntly shared my fear with anyone because I knew how it would sound to someone who did not have children or who did not have it.  We all have irrational fears. We all have to overcome them, sometimes for the benefit of ourselves, sometimes for the benefit of others. But the least that we can do for our neighbors is to try to understand.

    1. Barack Palin

       We all have irrational fears. 

      I think that says it best.

      But the irrational fears that have been put forward by many of the neighbors and commenters on the V are not a reason to stop the hotel from being built.

      1. Tia Will


        I tend to agree pending more specific information on the financial aspects still to come.

        My partner however, did point out an error in my statement. I do not know that we “all” have irrational fears. All I can really say from 30 + years of direct patient experience is that it is my observation that the majority of people I encounter have some form of fear that is not supported by the likelihood of its occurrence.

        That is what I get for having a “numbers oriented” psychologist for a partner. Please excuse my hyperbole.

        1. quielo

          Irrational fears are pervasive in this society. Women are more afraid of breast cancer despite the fact they are more likely to be killed by CV. A father is afraid of kidnappers while the child is more likely to be killed in or by a car.


          It’s all a matter of degree.

      2. David Greenwald

        Kidnapping by a stranger is a fairly remote occurrence. The idea that someone is going to bike or walk through the greenbelt into the neighborhood, find a kid, snatch them, walk out of the neighborhood and abscond with the kid has to be bordering on one in a billion. The idea that someone is going to drive around to the cul da sac streets and do the same is equally improbable. Rational discourse has to prevail or we cannot make reasoned decisions. It’s that simple.

        1. Tia Will


          I agree that stranger kidnapping is rare. However, from the father’s testimony last night, I think that you are mischaracterizing the concern. I believe that his concern was not that a “stranger” would invade their neighborhood to snatch a child, but rather that he feared that a child might be taken as she walked from her home to Davis Diamonds. I think that his concern was the possible additional restrictions on his children’s activities that he might feel compelled to make to ensure their safety in the face of higher numbers of non community related individuals moving through the same area where his children would be moving. While the fear  of kidnapping may not be statistically sound, I think that the increased exposure to unknown individuals is doubtless accurate.

          1. David Greenwald

            Fair enough, but from what was discussed last night, the current situation might be more dangerous.

        2. Barack Palin

          Exactly David.  This all gets so exhausting.  So are we never to build anything because it might draw in strangers and someone got kidnapped 100 years ago?


        3. HouseFlipper

          Planes crash and people die, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fly in a plane.

          Of course there are extensive regulations regarding plane safety to make it safer including the locations of airports.

        4. Alan Miller

          While the fear  of kidnapping may not be statistically sound, I think that the increased exposure to unknown individuals is doubtless accurate.

          So the chances go from one in a billion to . . . one in 999,999,999.  Scary . . . terrifying.

    2. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > I had a single, irrational fear. It was that one of my children

      > would leave home and that I would never see them again

      This is an “irrational” fear for most people but a “rational” fear for a divorced mom (or a rich family living in Mexico City).

      I personally know two guys who were “kidnapped” by their dads to punish their moms (that dumped their dads).  One spent years in Thailand and the other lived in Iran (until the fall of the Shah).

      1. Tia Will


        To add to your comment of 7:08. I understand that family member abduction is more common than stranger abduction. However, this statistic does not seem to ameliorate the fear of stranger abduction. I actually had both fears. The former because my children’s father, who I divorced, was from Turkey. The latter, well, just because…..

        1. hpierce

          I was the target of a stranger abduction attempt when I was 8… a man in a car, came by, asked me where the nearby park/playground was, and I gave him directions… he asked me if I could get in his car to help him… I calmly declined… walked rest of the way home, told my mom to call the Police, gave them a description of the car and partial license plate.  Wasn’t scared at all.  Neither was Mom.

          My parents trained me, before I was 5!

          Violent abductions by strangers is exceedingly rare

      2. Delia .

        To this day I keep the refrigerator magnet that nice polite young man gave me as a siimple, sweet thank you for chaperone nght him. What a wonderful mom he had. He mailed me a thank you note immediately upon returning from Ashland.

        We do need to chaperone our kids. We do need to keep a watchful eye even if they take a short walk to Davis Diamonds, for example. Like the very old couple who watched the toddler out their window in their old age. We can all contribute something to keep our children safe. It takes a village like Davis.

        It wasn’t that difficult for me to taken my union assisted vacation hours to travel to Ashland for a few precious days. Thank you to my union for giving me paid vacation hours so I could take that trip with my child.

        How wonderful that those kids experienced the great bard’s words.

        1. Marina Kalugin

          dear pal  AM…the moderators got rid of my off topic lead ins of DWB   that is Driving while black..’

          and my comment was a follow up…to the DWB….and that in this town fortnately I am not black so I haven’t gotten pulled over for that….jeez..

          if the moderators are  going to edit and censor they could at least do a better job at it..

          I think they purposely leave such things to show me as a racist or bigot…or something…

  2. Marina Kalugin

    this planning commission sounds like they are new but want to learn..

    I am sure way more info will be shared…and perhaps the PC will learn a lot….

    I hope so….

      1. Marina Kalugin

        fortunately I am not black…and even as a senior citizen I have shared my own experiences…

        one learns from history and works on the present to try to create a better future for all.


  3. Marina Kalugin

    everyone has their own agenda… the owner of davis diamonds wants more traffic….instead of a decent (and now very cheap) security system he wants more traffic…

    he wants more people to find out about his business…  he wants more business…

    his place didn’t need a variance,  (or did it) and he is happy to be where he is..

    The many neighbors also spent their money and some may have done their due diligence..

    expecting nothing more than a small 8-5 business on that lot….

    not a 24/7 monstrosity which was not even in the picture nor on any drawing board…. until these developers saw an opportunity to buy very cheap land – cheap due to the location and zoning…and it had been for sale for decades..

    they then figure out what they could build to maximize profits….and so on.

    if they would propose something…anything….which is according to the general plans which go back some years…   neighbors would not be in an uproar…..and the neighbors are not just Rosecreek…it is El Macero Vista, Woodbridge, Willow Creek…

    It is also neighbors in North Davis, East Davis, and etc.

    (Rosecreek friends, please search back on the GPs for how long it was zoned that way)…

    It is people who truly care about others in this town..regardless of where their own house is…

    All of the town is affected…all of the children who bike are affected….and those who can barely get around due to construction everywhere and can no longer bike due to health reasons  see this sit as completely inappropriate for the purposes …

    it is TOO far from either I80 interchange…and it will mean many more cars on the roads of chiles and cowell…

    If, and I don’t believe it, there is a need, it is not at that location…

    and, the more compelling reasons will not be the fears, however, the fears are the ones that get the most press right?????

    1. davisresident

      Too far from the I-80 interchange?  It looks like it’s about the same distance from the interstate as the highly successful Hyatt Place on the UC Davis campus.

      1. Barack Palin

        I don’t believe it’s too far from an I-80 interchange.  Plus getting to the interchange would be accomplished traveling on business type roads, not through any neighborhoods.

  4. Delia .

    Okay I have to thank Tia immediately for giving some kind of explanation to my own mama bear totally irrational fear. I must give another anecdote. a (If anyone hates my anecdotes then plz just stop reading. Now.

    We rented a home for a while very very near a bus stop. 7th grade for my son: we practice the route, I decide to let him use  public transportation without me. We do our due diligence. The first day he rides the bus home from jr. high, I spend my breaks at work crying in my car & praying no one bothers my son. He makes it home and into our house okay. But another day the as*hole bus driver kicks all the kids off the public bus because another brat was causing trouble on the bus. Those kids were dumped away from their safe homes to walk home alone. My best laid plan went awry. I was terrified for 18 years and I am still terrified,  not every moment, of course. But it’s always in the back of my mombrain.

    Thanks again Tia, for your empathy


  5. HouseFlipper

    The most interesting thing that came out at the planning commission is not in this article. It came in the exchange between Commissioner Hanson and City staff after public comment. The staff is actually recommending changing the business park zoning to allow for hotels, rather than changing the zoning of the site to a zoning that already allows for hotels. That means the staff is actually recommending changing the general plan in a way that allows for hotels to be built in several other places in Davis as well.


        1. HouseFlipper

          I just reviewed the video and it was explained last night. There other options but what is being proposed is a change to the general plan that will effect all like zoned properties. You might ask what parcels this change in the general plan will effect.

    1. hpierce

      No… the staff appears to be making a suggestion on revising the Zoning Code.  As to definitions…

      That is not, repeat, not,  I say three times, not, a change to the General Plan.  The General Plan, is well, “general”… not “specific”, not “precise”…

      1. HouseFlipper

        HPierce, I want to make sure I understand, they are changing the definitions to the zoning code and this change will effect all like zoned lots in the city.

        1. Mark West

          “this change will effect all like zoned lots in the city.”

          It will if there are any ‘like zoned bare lots’ remaining in the City. It is unlikely anyone would tear down an existing building in a commercial zone to put up a hotel, so the only parcels actually impacted would be current bare ground with the exact same zoning classification. Probably only a few parcels at most.

        2. Barack Palin

          And it will possibly save the city council on future hotel proposals the headaches of neighbors complaining about second hand cigar smoke and kidnappers, oh my.

        3. Alan Miller

          It is unlikely anyone would tear down an existing building in a commercial zone to put up a hotel

          Well, they are tearing down a hotel to put up a bigger hotel, so it’s not that unlikely.

        4. Mark West

          “Well, they are tearing down a hotel to put up a bigger hotel, so it’s not that unlikely.”

          That is their stated intent, but I will believe it when it happens.

      2. HouseFlipper

        So I just went and looked at the staff report. It is an amendment to the general plan that is being proposed and it effects all like zoned lots:

        RESOLUTION NO. 16-___, SERIES 2016

  6. Tia Will


    Thanks for pointing this out. Although I watched most of the meeting last night from home, I did miss a fair amount do to the comings and goings of house guests. This will be something to watch closely.

  7. Marina Kalugin

    I am curious about those who signed with non-davis zip codes…

    how many were non-davis?

    and, although my primary residence will soon be outside Davis, my primary mail address is just down the road…


  8. Tia Will


    I completely agree with your post regarding accurate risk assessment. It also adversely affects us as an entire society. A very recent public health care issue is occurring even as I write. We were willing to spend millions and millions of dollars on totally unnecessary Ebola precautions because of the dramatic nature of the illness and the way it was portrayed by the news media. We are currently not investing anywhere near enough on prevention of Zika induced illness because of a misperception of the risk to our community in the long run due to the dual nature of its transmission and its devastating effects on the children of affected pregnancies.

    Accurate fear and risk assessment is critical to not making devastating over or underestimations of the risks associated with any public health or safety issue.

  9. Delia .

    censorship su*ks.

    Jaycee’s memoir is banned at certain bookstores because her horrid story is considered too pornographic.

    F__k censorship.  If you don’t like someone’s words, block yor ears or in this case on this site, page down for God’s sake. There is a little technological device on your computer called an elevator. Use it if you are offended. I use it all the time.

    1. South of Davis

      Delia wrote:

      > There is a little technological device on your

      > computer called an elevator.

      I’m usually good at finding things with Google, but I have no idea what a “little technological device called an elevator” is (or if I have one on my computer)…


      > computer called an elevator.

      1. quielo

        Does your computer go up and down? My monitor does but I’m not certain if that counts. In the interest of science I swung my monitor into portrait mode and re-read Delia’s comments. They still seemed to indicate the cusp between mild cognitive impairment and pre-senile dementia.


        Maybe the “elevator” is decoder software?

    2. Frankly

      I agree with the censorship point to a degree, but I know computers inside and out and have never run across one with an elevator.  I do have a little device next to my computer that makes the sound of an explosion when I push the button.  I push that many times debating certain people on the VG.

      1. Delia .

        Hi Frankly, re nickname elevator.

        You surely know how to page up and down super quickly when reading pages upon pages of text on your cell or your tablet or even on a laptop or p.c. You know there is a rectangular shape on the far right side of Vanguard text. You can move that rectangular shape up and down to page thru text very quickly. Thus, the term “elevator.”

        I continue to believe we have more similarities than differences and I continue to believe if I ever met you I’d like you. Politics aside.


        1. Frankly

          Got it.   Have not heard it called that before.  You mean “scroll” I think.

          That makes sense then… your point was if you don’t like what you are reading then scroll right past it.   I absolutely agree with that and I do it often.

          I don’t know if you want to meet me in public.  Ask Matt Williams… it ruined his political career being seen having coffee with me!

    1. Don Shor
      Problem is, you probably didn’t know the odds of getting struck by lightning until I posted this, and you don’t give anything to compare it to. I’m sure there are probably things you’re afraid of that are less likely than a 1/12,000 chance of getting struck by lightning.
      Risk assessment is completely subjective. It has nothing to do with rational consideration of statistics.

      1. HouseFlipper

        The odds of being struck by lightning are lowered by government regulations requiring lightning rods on tall buildings and houses in lightning prone areas.

        1. South of Davis

          HouseFlipper wrote:

          > The odds of being struck by lightning are

          > lowered by government regulations requiring

          > lightning rods on tall buildings and houses

          > in lightning prone areas.

          It is important to remember that the odds of getting struck by lightning (like the odds of dying in an underwater cave while scuba diving) are not linear.  For someone like me (that got caught in a Sierra thunderstorm just last week and who sees lightning on almost every backpacking trip to the Desolation Wilderness) the odds are much higher and for someone who lives in an area without many electrical storms who rarely goes outside the odds are a LOT lower.

      2. Frankly

        I’m sure there are probably things you’re afraid of that are less likely than a 1/12,000 chance of getting struck by lightning.

        Not really.

        That is the point.

        Don’t let irrational fears cloud judgment.

        Of course to South of Davis’s point below, if you are walking in Desolation Wilderness in a lightning storm, you would be advised to be fearful since your odds of being struck by lightning just increased dramatically.

        Otherwise it is stew-ped to get all wee-weed up over stuff that has a very low probability of happening.  And it is disingenuous to manufacture fake risks to generate irrational fears.

      3. Tia Will


        Risk assessment is completely subjective. It has nothing to do with rational consideration of statistics.”

        I agree with your statement as it applies to day to day decisions in general. However, I think your statement is way too broad. For example, when counseling about birth control, I ask women to consider the 80% chance that they will conceive if sexually active ( in certain age groups) vs the < 1% chance that they will conceive if they are using a LARC as their means of contraception. I have had many, many women change their mind about whether or not to use a LARC based on an accurate perception of the statistics.

        I do not know what the numbers are for stranger abductions of children. I found a couple of sites whose reliability I will not vouch for that put the number at about 115 yearly in the US. Whether or not one sees that as a large or small number is indeed quite subjective.

        But then so is the concern that the commissioners did seem to be swayed by which is the issue of privacy. Strange from my point of view, since I have no concern about privacy. Anyone who is interested in looking into my backyard, or into most rooms in my house is welcome to do so. I realize that this is likely a minority position…..but I am completely comfortable with that.

        1. Frankly

          I think privacy is a reasonable issue… one that is not given enough attention in planning and development.  But privacy problems can be mitigated most of the time.  And design should include it.

          Our first home we purchased in North Davis had CCR that restricted upstairs windows with direct views into neighbor backyards when and where possible.  Skylights were used for more natural light, and also clear-story windows that are high on the wall and less obtrusive to a neighbor.  It worked pretty well.  We had a single story with a pool and even though there were other two-stories around us, they did not have any direct line of sight views and we used landscaping to make the backyard pretty private.

    2. Delia .

      Frankly I believe if we ever met there is room in this beautiful world for your top shelf refeshments and my organically squeezed lemonade with a spearmint or basically sprig from my garden.


  10. Delia .

    The topic is broader. The topic may just be how to make everyone happy. The topic might just be how to build your fancy Hyatt and still make people who never intend to use those $250 per night rooms (seasonal rate, look a their other hotels in other wealthy communities) know that they are validated, David.

  11. Delia .

    Thank you


    P.S. You may want to contemplate reaching out to either Brent Ridge or Joshua Kilmer-Purcell or “Polka Spot” if you want to hear their expertise on this subject.

  12. Alan Miller

    “I’m not here as a proponent or a detractor of the project, that’s not why I’m here.  I’m just here to share my experience which is that in my neighborhood we haven’t had any problems with this development…

    I think that’s what you call a proponent making a lame attempt to appear neutral.  Never seen that one tried before.  Like people go to speak at commission meetings to be neutral, because they have nothing else to do with their time.  Right.

  13. Alan Miller

    Commissioner Cheryl Essex added, “I really don’t understand the concern about strangers.  I have to say.”

    Rosecreek (commenter) asked my advice in an earlier column, and my response was to reign in these types of comments, and stick to a few valid strong issues.  And what happened?  A few people who think emotions reign, or hyperbolic comments reign, ruined it for the rest of the neighborhood.  How?  When such ridiculous comments are made, they get focused on.  The good news for the neighborhood is the commission as a whole were able to focus on the real issue of privacy as the primary concern.  So possibly the outlying comments won’t derail the concerns of the whole.


    1. Mark West

      Privacy was the one legitimate concern going into the meeting, and the one concern coming out of it. What needs to happen now is to understand the scope of the problem and see what can be done to mitigate it. I think it is important however to understand that scope not as a comparison between a vacant lot and the proposed project, but rather the proposed project and an alternative project that meets the current zoning. The property has been vacant for 20+ years, but I don’t think it is reasonable to assume that it will remain so for the next 20. Imagining that alternative is what I think is most difficult for the neighbors, and perhaps the commissioners, since all they have known is the vacant lot.

      1. Davis Progressive

        i think the privacy concerns are largely overblown.  people live adjacent to each other everywhere, you adjust and cope.  the bigger issue for me is overblown fiscal analysis.

        1. Mark West

          “people live adjacent to each other everywhere, you adjust and cope.”


          “the bigger issue for me is overblown fiscal analysis.”

          We will have a better idea if it is in fact ‘overblown’ once Finance and Budget formally takes a look at it. I suspect that the estimates are on the generous side but within the same order of magnitude. The issue is whether or not people understand that they are just estimates. The simple reality though is that the project will bring in more revenue than the vacant lot currently is.

        2. Matt Williams

          One of the very interestin (to me at least) things about the fiscal numbers we have to date is that none of them come from the project applicant.  Dan Carson has proactively provided his analysis.  We also have fiscal numbers from dueling consultants, and we have dueling claims that the respective consultants’ are inaccurate.

          What that creates is a environment of uncertainty.  I personally believe that our community has a low tolerance for uncertainty.  I believe that low tolerance was in evidence last night as neighbors walked up to the public comment podium and expressed concerns about how uncertain their children’s safety currently is, and how much worse it would become if the hotel went forward.  I also believe that our community’s low tolerance for uncertainty was one of the major contributing factors to the outcome of the Measure A vote.

          Many people will argue that this Hyatt House project does not qualify for a vote of the people, but if we take the long view, the legacy of this project decision will play out in future project decisions.  With that in mind, I believe the Hyatt House project team would do both themselves and the community a great service if they step up and substantially reduce the uncertainty by providing their own revenue numbers rather than relying on other people’s revenue numbers.  Since the City’s revenues will be 12% of the project’s revenues, people across the community will be much less uncertain about what the benefit to the community is from this project.

  14. ryankelly

    I walked by the Hyatt Hotel on campus yesterday.  4 stories, quiet, with no one lingering about outside.  I don’t think there has been any problem with illegal activity at the hotel.  It is quiet.  I believe that the neighborhood behind the new hotel proposal will benefit from the lower highway noise.  It will be quieter than light industry.  An office building will have the same windows.  Trees already exist and more can be planted.

    I will be very disappointed if yet another project that could help generate much needed revenue for the City is thwarted by residents.  These people have kids and they expect the rest of us to continue to vote to tax ourselves to contribute to their children’s education.  It is time to shoulder some of the burden, so we aren’t forced to pay taxes to support City infrastructure.

    1. Odin

      “These people have kids and they expect the rest of us to continue to vote to tax ourselves to contribute to their children’s education.”

      EVERYONE benefits from the education of children.  Are you out of your mind??

      1. Ron


        I understand/recall that you’re a teacher, and you’re right – everyone ultimately benefits from a society that takes care of its children.  And, those same children will (hopefully) go on to contribute to society, social security, etc.

        But, given the ever-expanding population (and the problems it creates), I agree with the underlying sentiment (that parents don’t really pay the full cost of children).

        I know that’s a controversial (and likely disputed) idea, and is not directly related to the hotel proposal.

        On a national level, I’d like to see (additional) income tax breaks eliminated for families, for each additional child (beyond two).

        Hope you don’t think that I’m “out of my mind”.  🙂

        1. Barack Palin

          The Enterprise had an article yesterday that stated that our DJUSD teachers are underpaid.  So where would any raises come from.  Yes, us taxpayers in the form of higher parcel taxes.  Teachers should be onboard these revenue inducing projects like this hotel because they have the potential to decrease future parcel taxes for roads and city services.  There’s only so much money homeowners can get taxed for and afford to pay before they say no more.

        2. Odin

          Key word, “potential”.  I don’t remember anyone screaming about the revenue lost when the Howard Johnsons shut down and I don’t remember it exactly being fully occupied anytime other than during graduations.  I’m not saying I’m against the Hyatt, but I support the concerns of neighbors and abhor those on here who attempt to stifle their voice.  More than often I’ve heard of the “potential” to cure financial problems that end out costing cities in the long run.   I gather before HOJOs got built folks claimed how much it would benefit the city, but in the end it suffered due to excessive vacancies and a lack of maintenance and thus provided little revenue to the city, so why couldn’t the similar concerns be applied to the Hyatt?

        3. Ron

          Odin:  “More than often I’ve heard of the “potential” to cure financial problems that end (up) costing cities in the long run.”

          Me too.  (Or, at least not as much positive impact as predicted by some supporters.)

          Regarding this particular article and comments, it seems that the more important story might be what “HouseFlipper” is questioning – the general plan amendment and its impact.


        4. Mark West

          “so why couldn’t the similar concerns be applied to the Hyatt?”

          Not an unreasonable question and the easiest way to determine an answer about the business opportunity / risk is to look at the track record of the developer. How successful are they at creating viable hotel projects? The local example is the Hyatt Place on campus, which by all accounts is a very successful operation.

        5. Odin

          “The local example is the Hyatt Place on campus, which by all accounts is a very successful operation.”

          But couldn’t that be due to it’s proximity to campus?

        6. Barack Palin

          I still say when someone wants to build and open a business it’s not the city’s duty to determine if they’re going to be profitable or not.  Does the city look at every new development for whatever business might be at hand and make its decision on whether to grant them a permit based on the new business’s financial prospects?

        7. Ron

          Mark:  “How successful are they at creating viable hotel projects?”

          Not a comment regarding Hyatt.  However, “success” for a developer, vs. “success” for a city are not always the same thing.

        8. Mark West

          “But couldn’t that be due to it’s proximity to campus?”

          If a developer has a track record of creating successful high-end hotels, then it is safe to assume that they are pretty good at analyzing the location and market for their next project. Their string of past successes as demonstrated in the presentation last night, is unlikely to be due to random chance.

        9. Mark West

          Ron: “Not a comment regarding Hyatt.  However, “success” for a developer, vs. “success” for a city are not always the same thing.”

          Sure, Ron, but how would a financially successful high-end hotel delivering half a million of annual net TOT revenue not be a success for the City? Especially when compared to the revenues derived from a lot that has sat vacant for greater than 25 years?

        10. Matt Williams

          Odin said . . . “But couldn’t that be due to it’s proximity to campus?”

          It absolutely is due to its proximity to campus.  It also is due to its proximity to the new UCD Conference Center.  Prior to the opening of the conference center, the closest thing Davis has had to a conference center is Veterans Memorial.  The UCD Conference Center has considerably more capacity to host visitors than the Hyatt Place has capacity to house visitors.  Bottom-line, the supply of convention/meeting/group gathering space is significantly greater than the supply of beds to house the attendees of those conventions/meetings/groups that are gathering in the available space.

          Not only is the demand from the conventions/meetings/groups market segment greater, the demand from the parents/families of UCD students is greater.  The number of UCD students has risen 17% in the last four years.  That means approximately 17% more parent and family visits to Davis, and the Hyatt Place, so close to campus is the go-to choice for most of those (although lots of family visits are looking for much less expensive lodging than Hyatt Place provides).

          In addition you have an increase in applications, which rose 38% from 62,515 to 86,041 in the last four years.  What proportion of those additional 23,500 applicants made a visit to UCD as part of their college selection process?  How many of those 86,041 college applications resulted in a hotel stay in Davis including one or two rooms at the Hyatt Place?

      2. Odin

        If that’s the case, then why argue like you did above that people like myself should be accepting of these projects due to local benefits if there is no guarantee that there are any?  Your argument just fell apart.

        1. Barack Palin

          Are there ever any guarantees that a business is going to succeed?  But if we never let them get to try we’re never going to generate any new city revenue. BTW, a report has already surfaced predicting the new Hyatt will generate @ $700,000/year city revenue. It looks like that just put a hole in your argument.

        2. Ron


          If I’m not mistaken, your question is directed to ryankelly, who made the original statement.  (I haven’t seen any follow-up response from him/her.)

          I sort of jumped into this, regarding a comment not directly related to the hotel proposal.

        3. Odin

          “It looks like that just put a hole in your argument.”

          I’m sure citizens of St Louis, Dallas, Cincinnati and Indianapolis sold on the idea that their new football stadiums would provide revenue to their cities (via “generated reports”) would differ.

        4. Loki

          Speaking of “arguments with holes,” your bit about the stadiums has a rather glaring one, Odin: the projects you mentioned were  all publicly financed through the taxpayers, whereas the proposed Hyatt is privately financed. Profitability for the stadiums means that the taxpayers aren’t left on the hook, so it hardly seems like a fair comparison when the developers would be left holding the bag if the Hyatt didn’t pan out.  One would think the all-seeing All-Father would have been aware of that.

          (And now I’m agreeing with BP – what an unexpected twist)

        5. Odin

          Loki, my only point was that the public is often duped by investors promising revenue streams that never pan out.  Those stadiums were publicly funded mostly due to the promises of riches that in turn only turned out to benefit team owners and the NFL.  Lambeau Field serves the only team that is publicly owned as far as I know.

        6. Barack Palin

          Odin, so what’s your plan to generate Davis city revenue?  What types of businesses should be allowed and what vetting process do you have in mind to insure that they’re profitable and not a drag on city services?

        7. South of Davis

          Odin wrote:

          > why argue like you did above that people like myself should be

          > accepting of these projects due to local benefits if there is no guarantee

          The city is “guaranteed” to get:

          1. Property Taxes

          2. City Business Taxes

          3. Sales Taxes

          4. TOT Taxes

          even if the developers don’t make any money.  If the developers go in to BK an give the property to the lender a new owner will have less debt and can lower room rates for higher occupancy and greater overall City Business Taxes, Sales Taxes and TOT Taxes (but slightly lower Property Taxes).  There is no “guarantee” of an exact number, but the city is “guaranteed” to make a profit (things are looking even better with UCD expanding and Nishi dead for now)…

    2. Tia Will

      It is time to shoulder some of the burden, so we aren’t forced to pay taxes to support City infrastructure.”

      Maybe these folks would all be ready to “shoulder the responsibility” by paying higher taxes. We wouldn’t know, because we haven’t asked them.


      1. Matt Williams

        Tia, I actually had that discussion with two of the neighbors during lunch on Tuesday.  The question that needs to be asked (and answered) is what level of additional taxation is fair and reasonable.

        1. Odin

          You need to convince people Davis is the best place to live in the entire Sacramento region (which it is) and that they have two options to preserve it:  Leave it to developers promising riches and benefits to the city, or to increase their taxes to maintain what’s left of our small town feel.  I think you’ll find a lot of folks in this town getting tired of worsening traffic problems caused by high density infill willing to pay a bit more a month to live here.  Unfortunately this city isn’t designed well enough to allow unhindered growth.  Worsening traffic is a given and is usually a sign of poor city planning.

          Like they say, “you don’t know what you got until it’s gone”.  Davis is a special place and shouldn’t be sold to the highest bidder.  Convince them the price of a bottle of wine a month isn’t too much to ask to live here.

        2. Matt Williams

          Odin, your point resonates with a large number of current Davis residents.  The challenge that it poses for many of those same current Davis residents is that in order to maintain Davis in the way that we have become accustomed to, we need to expand the annual City budget by $30 million.  If the only alternative for funding that $30 million is taxes, then each of the 16,000 parcels in Davis will be responsible for paying an additional $2,000 a year in taxes.

          Further, if the most recent report from CalPERS is an accurate indicator, the Pension and OPEB (Retiree Healthcare) costs for the City are likely to double from their current level, which would add close to another $1,000 per year to the $2,000.  Bottom-line, we face a situation where there are no easy/painless choices.

        3. Adam Smith

          If the only alternative for funding that $30 million is taxes, then each of the 16,000 parcels in Davis will be responsible for paying an additional $2,000 a year in taxes.

          Odin – that’s a pretty nice bottle of wine that you are going to be giving up to stay in Davis.   But for alot people, it will be their entire “wine and beer” budget for the month.


        4. Barack Palin

          Ha, at $3,000/year it looks like we’ve graduated from giving up Starbuck’s lattes to giving up very expensive bottles of wine.  How many Davis homeowners can afford plopping down another $250/month for city services and to keep the fat city employee pensions whole?

        5. Barack Palin

          I don’t know if you remember SOD but years ago when the school district was pushing higher school parcel taxes the cry was it’s only a latte a week.  Then later it was if you could just give up two lattes a week.  Now it looks like the city needs us to give up a $60 bottle of wine a week and as you say our beer too.

  15. David Greenwald

    This gets to the General Plan Amendment which I now agree is interesting.

    From Katherine Hess:

    The recommendation includes amending the business park designation in the General Plan to conditionally allow hotels. This would potentially apply to other areas designated as business park, but any other new hotel would be subject to environmental review and zoning consistency. Other business park lands in the City include Interland, the Research Park Drive area, and the 15-acre parcel at Chiles and Cowell.”

    1. HouseFlipper

      Interesting. thanks for following up with the staff. Does that include only vacant lots? Can you follow up and ask what lots that are already developed this will effect?

  16. HouseFlipper

    2 other questions.

    What is the current density allowable at these sites? the resolution makes it a ration of 1.0

    The resolution updating the general plan only mentions an EIR for the Hyatt location.

    WHEREAS, Initial Study and Negative Declaration #4-15 adequately assesses the impacts of this General Plan Amendment and the proposed extended-stay hotel project at 2750 Cowell Boulevard; and

    Wouldn’t they need a EIR that addresses all of the sites effected?

  17. Tia Will


    Fair enough, but from what was discussed last night, the current situation might be more dangerous.”

    This idea was put forth by the owner of Davis Diamonds and it was in the context of vandalism, not the likely increase in encounters between children going to and from his establishment and individuals unknown to the child who are very, very likely to increase in number with the presence of the hotel.

  18. davisresident

    Someone sent me a message to go and check the hotel image now being used on the website.  Here it is:×450-noPad.jpg?1471899826

    I watched the recording of the Hyatt presentation from last night and the images they showed, outlining the hotel (starting at 39:30), and they look completely different.  I mean, what happened to all the trees in the photo?  And it looks like the hotel is placed directly on the greenbelt itself.  


    I am not sure if this was intentional, meant to manipulate people, or simply wasn’t thought through well.  It might be wise for the petition owners to think critically about approach and public appearance.  They do have at least one legitimate concern (view from windows)… I’d hate for that to be swallowed up by perceptions of manipulation.  I do not mean this to read as a condemnation, but as a suggestion for the sake of concerns being taken seriously.

        1. Barack Palin

          LOL, it’s just a room to come home to at 2 a.m. after a night of drinking, partying, dancing and keeping you awake in downtown Davis.  Who needs a window?

        2. Matt Williams

          Alan, in the typical hotel room what do you see when you look out the window?  More often than not it is the parking lot.

          Here are some additional pictures of clerestory windows in bedroom situations.

      1. Tia Will


        I think this would certainly lessen the privacy concerns for neighbors for whom this is a major issue. It certainly seems to have struck the strongest chord with the commissioners and a number of posters, my lack of modesty not withstanding.

        Also, I truly appreciate your listing of appropriate plant choices to establish one’s own “screen”. My next door neighbor has successfully used this strategy to block the undesired activities from the “mini dorm” on the other side of his house.  Our side is graced by a lovely rose covered arched lattice that connects our two properties.

    1. ryankelly

      The image makes it look like the hotel is placed in their backyards with no backyard, no greenbelt, no trees, no set back.  Purely an attempt to manipulate.

      The hotel should put up light framing stakes, like when they build in the mountains or at the beach, to show the height and let people see what they might be able to view.  Much better then a 2-dimensional drawing of a house on top of a hotel.

      1. HouseFlipper

        The hotel should put up light framing stakes, like when they build in the mountains or at the beach, to show the height and let people see what they might be able to view.  Much better then a 2-dimensional drawing of a house on top of a hotel.

        good suggestion

      2. Marina Kalugin

        the actual “Hyatt” pictures are also inaccurate…”they” have already acknowledged they will remove all greenery, trees, shrubs…they are calling them “volunteers” from the developers side of the greenbelt…so who is being inaccurate?   follow the money and learn the truth…

    2. HouseFlipper

      Are you really surprised that the images used by the hotel developers reflect one point of view, and the images used by the neighbors reflect a different point of view?

  19. davisresident

    Certainly an option to consider.  I wonder, however, if they do come up with a great option that addresses the privacy concerns, will the neighbors keep opposing?

    1. Don Shor

      I think there’s a tendency to assume that opponents of any given project have the same concerns and intensity of opposition. Some might be willing to accept a modification of the design. Others might accept mitigation by planting extra trees in the greenbelt and/or in their own back yards. Some might just oppose the project overall and their concerns can’t be mitigated. I just hope the developers will make a good faith effort to reduce the concerns of as many neighbors as possible. Unanimity is never possible.

      1. Mark West

        I believe the developers have already demonstrated their good faith with their efforts at engaging with the neighbors and their willingness to change their designs as a result. That process works best if the neighbors are willing to engage, and it was clear last night that many of those present were only interested in blocking the project.


        1. Marina Kalugin

          I guess you didn’t read the specifics on the “good-faith” efforts……and if they really wanted to act in “good faith”  how about following the general plan zoning framework…   there would not be any problems then ….


  20. Marina Kalugin

    I see the zika reference still standing…that is an offtopic comment ..and yet my clarification that Zika is not any different than the ebola scare was “scrubbed”.. why is that? why is the “inaccuracy” that zika is worse allowed to stand…

    what does that comment have to do with this thread…

    and, if that is allowed to stand, why is the the “opposing” aka “truth” not allowed???

    [moderator] Do you have any idea how much work you make for me? Stop posting off topic stuff. Stop rambling on and on. Stop talking about the moderation actions I take. Seriously.

  21. Marina Kalugin

    Rosecreek friends,

    Please take note of the Tyleome thread of today… they are friends….reach out to them….I wish I had any of  your emails…but I do not….

    I hope you are up as this will be removed as “off-topic”….

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