Revised LRDP: Nishi Out, Russell Field Still There but Reduced

Russell Fields previous iteration
Russell and Howard Fields, previous iteration

The official draft planning scenario will be posted today, but the preview released on the UC Davis dateline site provides for some dramatic changes or, as UC Davis puts it, the plan “assumes a more complex urban development character.”

However, while the LRDP continues to evolve, this is by no means a done deal, as there is still “one year to go in UC Davis’ update of the campus’ Long-Range Development Plan.”

Writes UC Davis, “The revision assumes a more complex urban development character that connects people and celebrates open space, while maintaining capacity to accommodate 90 percent of enrollment growth and 40 percent of overall student enrollment in campus housing by 2027-28. Notable changes from last spring include revised plans for Russell Field, Solano Gateway and south campus.”

There will be a series of events starting the first week of October to gain even more feedback from the community.

The draft planning scenario will be posted online on Wednesday (Sept. 21), and public outreach events with campus planners in attendance have been scheduled as follows:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 4 — 2-6 p.m., UC Davis Coffee House (Memorial Union)
  • Wednesday, Oct. 5 — 5-8 p.m., tabling at Davis Farmers Market, Central Park
  • Thursday, Oct. 6 — 6:30-9 p.m., Davis Senior Center, 646 A St. (corner of Seventh and A streets), co-hosted by the city of Davis

The LRDP still needs to undergo environmental review before it would be presented to the UC Board of Regents next fall for potential approval.

The two biggest issues aside from the overall 90 percent commitment to house enrollment growth, with an overall plan to house 40 percent of student enrollment within a decade, are the Russell fields and Nishi.

On Nishi: “The revised plan does not include a possible road connection from campus into the Nishi property. This revision reflects the recent decision by Davis voters to reject the Nishi development proposal.”

A big question will be what does this mean?  Some have maintained that in outreach meetings, Bob Segar has suggested that UC Davis is not interested in Nishi due to the expense of infrastructure and air quality.  However, Nishi remains a private site that would be developed for the city of Davis, the plans of the developer remain unknown, and it remains an open question as to whether this would have the power to preclude future development.

Not to be outdone, however, are changes to Russell Field and Howard Field.  Community members, especially those living on the north side of Russell across from the open fields, have vocally opposed any development.  UC Davis is not scrapping plans altogether, but it is reducing “the proposed number of students living in the Russell Field neighborhood from 1,000 to 400.”

Is that enough to satisfy neighbors and other community members?

The plan would designate “only the portion of Russell Field immediately north of the Marya Welch Tennis Center, along with Parking Lot 14 and the Cowell Building along California Avenue, as possible redevelopment sites for student housing with academic programs on the ground floor. The plan retains the full east-west dimension of Russell Field between California Avenue and Howard Way as a large open space for campus recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics, as well as other campus functions.”

UC Davis writes, “With a reduced footprint for student housing, the plan retains Howard Field in its entirety and a significant portion of Russell Field for ongoing recreation rather than the previously contemplated student housing proposal. This is made possible by redeveloping a surface parking lot and a low-density, one-story building — although the displaced programs and parking inventory would need to be accommodated within other areas of campus.”

Finally it appears that much of the loss of housing at Russell Field will be replaced with increased density at Solano Gateway.

UC Davis writes, “The revised plan increases the net number of new students living in the Solano Gateway neighborhood from 500 to 1,100, designating areas south of the arboretum — the environmental horticulture complex of buildings, Parking Lots 5 and 5A, and the Solano Park Apartments — as potential redevelopment sites for student housing.”

“Residents and academic programs would be accommodated elsewhere on campus prior to any redevelopment,” the synopsis continues.

In the next 10 years, planners say, “both the Solano Park Apartments and the environmental horticulture buildings will require significant investment. Specific planning for the redevelopment of the Solano Park Apartments will begin after detailed planning for the now vacant Orchard Park Apartments, the other campus housing area serving student families and graduate students, is underway.”

“While retaining a generous open space network, the redevelopment of the Solano Park Apartments may accommodate more students than current occupancy,” it continues.  “The plan realigns Old Davis Road between the Hyatt Place hotel and the arboretum to capture more land within the campus loop road and therefore integrate student housing with other academic programs in the campus core. The plan retains Nelson Hall and Wyatt Pavilion as important features within the neighborhood.”

Opponents of Nishi are rejoicing at the news, no doubt, and the question again is what this means – and it will be interesting to see how residents respond to the revised plan at the Russell fields.

—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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37 Comments

    1. ryankelly

      It is on the north side of the railroad tracks and supposedly the air quality changes to OK air.

      It means that that corner of the campus, closer to downtown, will get denser housing. Without reading the entire plan or seeing the graphic representations or plan views, I support that as smart planning.

      1. Frankly

        Yes, because air stays in its neighborhood.  That is why I am against restrictions on smoking since the smoke stays in a bubble around the smoker.  And fireplaces too.

        1. Frankly

          It’s amazing how a few people with an agenda can change the course of dialogue.

          This is unique to Davis… a city over-represented in certain personality types that will believe it if you find one “scientist” to tell them that radio frequency from a power pole will cause brain cancer.  So if you want to block the new telephone pole, just find that one “scientist” (and give him some cash under the table to make sure his “science” fits your needs).  Then get the word out and the NO votes will come rolling in.

      2. Don Shor

        Yes. It’s like magic. The poisonous “toxic soup” that rendered housing completely unacceptable at Nishi will stop when it reaches an invisible line that makes housing completely acceptable at the site of the EH dept.
        http://davismerchants.org/vanguard/EH%20Dept%20map.png

      3. Jim Frame

        just find that one “scientist” (and give him some cash under the table to make sure his “science” fits your needs)

        While I’m very skeptical that the air quality at Nishi is significantly more hazardous than the air quality at Solano Park or the Olive Drive apartments, at the same time I believe that Dr. Cahill is a dedicated scientist (note lack of quotes) and not a shill for whoever pays him.  I think Frankly’s implication to the contrary is grossly inaccurate.

         

        1. South of Davis

          Jim wrote:

          > I believe that Dr. Cahill is a dedicated scientist

          Has anyone asked why Dr. Cahill decided to “test” the Nishi air quality at the end of a dead end street between multiple automotive repair facilities a smog check (I’m not making this up) place and even a shop that repairs small two stroke engines (including the older models I own that pollute so much they would be illegal to sell new today)?

          I’m not an scientist, but I’m betting if I give 100 scientists info on the end of Olive where I read Dr. Cahill tested the air and the center of the Nishi site I would not have a single one think that the air quality on Olive (the area of Davis with the most engine repair) would be cleaner than the air actually INSIDE  the Nishi site.

        2. Ron

          Jim (quoting “Frankly”):  “just find that one “scientist” (and give him some cash under the table to make sure his “science” fits your needs).”

          I believe that most of us who read that statement didn’t even bother to respond, given the nature of the poster.  (Just “Frankly” being “Frankly”.)

        3. Roberta Millstein

          Has anyone asked why Dr. Cahill decided to “test” the Nishi air quality at the end of a dead end street between multiple automotive repair facilities a smog check (I’m not making this up) place and even a shop that repairs small two stroke engines (including the older models I own that pollute so much they would be illegal to sell new today)?

          He has said that this was where he was able to test given very short notice, and has called for more extensive testing on the site itself, which has not been done.

  1. Edison

     
    I have not yet had time to review the on-line update to the LRDP, but if the Vanguard is correct that UCD expects to house only 40% of students on campus by the 2027-28 academic year, that is hugely disappointing and devastating news for the Davis community.  UCD had earlier projected total enrollment of 39,000 at its Davis campus by then, so I assume that figure is probably still part of the plan.  (It was reported yesterday in the Sacramento Bee that expected fall 2016 enrollment will be about 35,700.) That means that when fall 2017 arrives, only 15,600 students will be housed on campus, meaning the other 23,400 (60%) will need to live somewhere else. THE LRDP therefore continues to expect Davis and other communities to absorb the housing demand and infrastructure burdens for which it is solely responsible.
     
    The university’s continued poor planning, irresponsible behavior and outright arrogance in ignoring the concerns of the community are beyond belief.  The net result of its inattention to housing will be continued growth of neighborhood damaging mini-dorms, and the virtually zero apartment vacancy rate that denies rental housing to local workforce families.  Thus far UCD’s only response has been to propose executing “master leases” on local apartment complexes in order to reserve them exclusively for students. 

    Yet, with probably vacant more acreage available than any other campus in the UC system, UCD continues to focus on low-rise, low-density housing instead of emulating other progressive universities that are successfully partnering with experienced private entities to construct well-designed and professionally managed high-rise campus housing.   For a university that constantly touts its many worthy accomplishments, environmental sustainability and eye to the future, UCD continues to fall down badly when it comes to truly taking care of its students.  Forcing students after freshmen year to scramble for off-campus housing that often makes them commute many time-consuming miles is neither a caring attitude nor sustainable practice.   The students and our community will continue bearing the brunt of UCD’s intransience.  
     

    1. Don Shor

      if the Vanguard is correct that UCD expects to house only 40% of students on campus by the 2027-28 academic year, that is hugely disappointing and devastating news for the Davis community.

      It’s not news at all. They’ve never promised any more than that. If I recall, that was their stated goal a couple of decades ago. They’ve never come close, but just getting them to that goal would be a big step forward. I think it’s unrealistic to expect any more than 40%. I seem to recall that’s UC’s systemwide goal for housing.

    2. ryankelly

      I interpret this as supporting and encouraging a form of sprawl.  I think people have hashed this out enough.  Building a remote village of super high rise buildings to house students is just not going to happen right now.  If this is what people want, then they should make it happen in the City of Davis and walk the talk.

       

    3. South of Davis

      Edison wrote:

      > The university’s continued poor planning, irresponsible

      > behavior and outright arrogance in ignoring the concerns

      > of the community are beyond belief.

      I don’t get this attitude and wonder if Edison is saying the same thing about Davis High School and/or Sutter Davis that (as far as I know) do not provide permanent housing to ANY of their employees, students or patients.

      When you live near a school (college “or” high school) you better expect that “both” people that work at the school and attend the school will be your neighbors.  When you live near a hospital there is a good chance that you will have employees of the hospital and patients of the hospital living on your street.

      > Forcing students after freshmen year to scramble for

      > off-campus housing that often makes them commute

      > many time-consuming miles is neither a caring

      Only the “slackers” that wait until the last minute to sign a lease have to “scramble” for housing (there are THOUSANDS of units in Davis to choose from if you sign a lease early in the year).  Davis may have a low vacancy rate most of the year but the city has never been 100% leased.  When someone spends about $300 a month and a lot of “time-consuming miles” in the car driving from Sacramento or Woodland to Davis five days a week there is almost always some reason other than “can’t find housing in Davis” (like “living in Aunt’s East Sac guest cottage for free”, “Wife works in Woodland and does not want to commute every day”, or “want kids to be able to ride their bikes home from St. Francis or Jesuit”).

      P.S. The students at Cal, UCLA and UCSF can only dream about having as many nice affordable housing choices as UCD students…

      1. Roberta Millstein

        I’m thinking about it.  I don’t like to just pop off opinions without giving the issues some consideration.  It’s certainly better.

        Sorry about the graphic showing up twice.  I couldn’t seem to get that to work. fixed it — Don

        1. Barack Palin

          A little swath of the sacred Russell Field will be taken, Howard Field remains untouched  and more density at Solano Park as everyone wanted.  I don’t see what there’s not to like.

        2. Roberta Millstein

          Don, thanks for your help, but now the graphic doesn’t show up at all, at least on my computer.

          BP, you ask, “what’s not to like?”  I just prefer to take a cautious approach and think through things before forming an opinion.  I don’t really think I need to defend that approach, do I?

          [moderator] Yes, the link has completely disappeared. I don’t know why. Please repost it. Sorry.

        3. Tia Will

          Thanks for posting Roberta.

          I also think that this represents a significant improvement. Although I have not read all the way through yet, I am tentatively coming out as probably favorable to this new proposal. I am hoping to be able to make one of the events to hear what the developers have to say.

      2. ryankelly

        I like the academic use on the first floor.  It provides desperately needed classroom space in the core area of campus, with housing in the upper floors.  It maintains the vista for the Russell neighbors.   This is creative.   I really appreciate that University planners are trying to respond to campus need and Davis community concerns.

        1. Roberta Millstein

          I wonder what it would be like to have classroom space adjacent to living space and vice versa?  Are there precedents on any other campus?

          I agree that classroom space is desperately needed.

  2. Frankly

    Only 400 units?   How is that supporting the demand for reduced environmental impacts by increasing housing density to eliminate the need for cars?   What a waste of space.  UCD should cram them in and stack them high!  Think about all that open space around the city that would be saved!

      1. Frankly

        Just being rational.   Given the number of units needed either they are built on the periphery or in town.  The opposition to building them on the periphery says we need to prevent sprawl, create an urban boundary (farmland moat) and that cities like Davis should be all compact and dense where 70% of the residents ride a bike or walk and do not use a car.

        So then, all this infill land is precious for cramming and stacking.   Once built it is as dense as it will be… and so why waste it?

  3. Barack Palin

    Now we’re going to see what the NIMBY’s and BANANA’s are all about.  They claim they want student housing and UCD has now compromised and given in to many of their demands so the ball is in the NIMBY’s court.  Something tells me they still won’t be satisfied.

  4. Don Shor

    It’s also worth noting that, in order to reduce the traffic issues cited against development on Russell, the new plan shifts the traffic increase to 1st and A streets. It is likely to increase the number of cars entering and exiting through Richards.

  5. Edison

    Correction: In my haste to write my earlier comment  I said the following:

    That means that when fall 2017 arrives, only 15,600 students will be housed on campus, meaning the other 23,400 (60%) will need to live somewhere else.

    It should have said “fall 2027,” not 2017. Sorry for any confusion.

     

     

  6. Edison

    Also, in reply to South of Davis: comparing Davis High School or Sutter Davis to UCD’s failure to house a higher percentage of its students is not really a analogous. DHS students for the most part live at home with their parents, and hospital patients also have their own housing. UCD students are far different, coming to the campus from all over the nation and even from other countries.  There is no reason why UCD should not house more of its students on campus.  It spent millions of dollars on non-essential facilities such as the Mondavi and Shrem art museum (both of which received donor funds but also required additional funding), and a new football stadium for a team that has yet to show that it belongs in its division. That seems like misplaced priorities to me.

    1. Don Shor

      There is no reason why UCD should not house more of its students on campus.

      They will. They will be housing 90% of the enrollment increase with a goal of housing 40% of their students on campus. That will take awhile. It also leaves a large number of students who will need rental housing in town. That’s normal for communities that host major universities.

    2. Chamber Fan

      “There is no reason…”

      I think you guys are completely unrealistic in your expectations.  UC Davis is not going to move quickly to add housing and they are not going to add as much as you think they should.  If you are concerned about students and concerned about the environment, the best way to address that is through housing options in Davis.

    3. South of Davis

      Edision wrote:

      > It spent millions of dollars on non-essential facilities such as the Mondavi

      > and Shrem art museum (both of which received donor funds but also

      > required additional funding)

      Last time my wife and I went to the Mondavi Center my wife and I paid over $100 for two tickets so I was thinking the place (that in addition to the millions from Mondavi got millions more from others) should be cash flow positive.

      I was surprised to read (on Wikipedia) that “The current annual operating budget is approximately US$7.3 million, 58% of which comes from earned income.”  This seems just crazy, does anyone know of another source to see the Mondavi Center budjet?

      I have complained in the past that is often costs UCD three times more than it should to do things, but if it really costs $7.3 million EVERY YEAR to “operate” a concert hall (that is empty most of the time) we are doomed.

      Maybe it costs UCD even more per square foot to “operate” a dorm (with an even smaller percentage from “earned income”).  I wonder if any of the UCD on campus housing budgets are public (and on line).

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondavi_Center

       

    4. ryankelly

      Edison, I’m guessing you are not a fan of the arts and maybe disappointed with the Aggie football team.  All of the facilities that you mention are being used as instructional space, including the stadium.  You are just repeating language coming from others.  I think we are beyond the relentless reiteration of soundbites about UCD failings regarding housing.  This article is about their plan for responding to student needs.  How about abandoning the repetition of campaign talking points and speak to the content of the article or the LRDP as currently presented?

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