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