(Editor’s note: The following is the proposed Davis City Council Letter to Acting Chancellor Ralph Hexter on the Long Range Development Plan).
While the City of Davis and UC Davis have separate jurisdictions and missions, we share the common fundamental value of providing for a safe, healthy, accessible, and prosperous community. The UC Davis Long Range Development Plan for 2017-2027 (LRDP) represents the single most critical opportunity for UC Davis to appropriately plan for the needs of anticipated university growth. The City believes that the scope of what has been proposed to date in the LRDP is not sufficient to meet the projected growth of the university and, if left unchanged, will have substantive negative impacts on the community we share.
The City Council of the Cityof Davis hereby requests that UC Davis incorporate into the LRDP substantial additional on-campus housing units and housing density, and provide clear definition of non-residential space increase needs and how those increases will be accommodated on-campus. Specifically, the City requests that UC Davis provide for a minimum of 100 percent of the projected enrollment of all new incoming students starting with the 2017 academic year and at least 50 percent of total UC Davis campus student population in the LRDP. The City further requests that UC Davis develop an accompanying construction and financing implementation strategy to ensure the delivery of these units and facilities in a timely manner. The importance of these requests is further illustrated by the attached Resolution adopted by the City Council on December 20, 2016.
The City of Davis places tremendous pride and value on the relationship that we hold with UC Davis. We are appreciative of the engagement of campus staff with our community, our city staff, and our City Council LRDP subcommittee. The discussions over the last few months have allowed for greater understanding of both campus and community needs and have resulted in several positive adjustments and resolution of key issues of importance to the community on the LRDP. For example, in recognition of the shared community resource they represent, UC Davis has committed to remove all construction from Russell, Howard, and Toomey Fields and retain those fields for community and athletic use. Furthermore, UC Davis has expressed its commitment to cease master leases of apartment units in the city and has agreed to evaluate connectivity to the Nishi site. These outcomes illustrate that tangible and positive evolution of thinking can come from discussion and partnership.
We do not make the above LRDP requests without a sound recognition that the City has responsibilities in this partnership as well. The City has been and remains committed to doing its part to provide for the full and diverse breadth of housing needs in our community, including, but not limited to seniors, affordable housing, accessible housing, families, workforce housing, as well as student oriented housing. The Cannery, Grande, Chiles Ranch, Villages at Willowcreek, Paso Fino, Mission Residences, Berry Bridge, and Del Rio Place projects are all currently under construction. Both the Creekside and Cannery affordable apartments are under way. The City is also committed to reviewing new high density apartment proposals, such as Sterling and Lincoln 40, as they come forward. Collectively, the above projects represent over 1150 dwelling units. Although the initial attempt at the ballot did not prove successful, the City Council remains committed to working with the property owner and UC Davis to determine the future possibilities for the Nishi site.
While the City understands the campus perspective in putting forward the current “90/40” LRDP housing proposal, the City must evaluate it in the context of our commitment to provide for the full range of community housing needs. With the City’s continuous consideration of proposals to meet the wide range of community housing needs, it is crucial to recognize that the role of the City in the provision of housing fundamentally differs from that of the University. Where the City reviews proposals for development of private property and does not ultimately control where and when those proposals will be made to the City, the University of California controls its own fate of on-campus growth, construction, funding, and timing. To that end, the City firmly believes that UC Davis has a responsibility to both plan and deliver the infrastructure, units, and facilities necessary to support its anticipated growth and to do so with creativity and adherence to sound land use planning and sustainability principles.
While the City will be prepared to submit formal comments in response to the LRDP EIR Notice of Preparation when released (see draft LRDP objectives table presented to the City Council on December 6, 2016), we believe that it is of crucial importance for UC Davis to afford additional time for proper campus consideration and integration of these requests. This opportunity should be afforded before UC Davis releases an EIR Notice of Preparation – a step that will practically be (and will certainly be perceived as) a final position on the LRDP project scope. Absent the on-campus housing increase and delivery strategy noted above UC Davis should work with the UC Regents to reduce the UC Davis enrollment growth allocation or timing thereof.
If the current schedule for LRDP release and Notice of Preparation (NOP) remains unchanged, the City and community at large will unnecessarily be forced into taking formal positions in the context of a CEQA prescribed process. Based on the current direction of UC Davis on the LRDP project description, UC Davis should expect extensive community and City comment during the scoping period and later during the Draft EIR comment period. This will likely lead to a highly protracted LRDP and CEQA process. If it is “schedule” that is driving the current timeline for the LRDP release, that schedule may be better served by affording the opportunity for campus incorporation of the City requests up front. Maintaining and fostering the relationship between the City and University is of paramount importance to the ongoing health and prosperity of our collective community. We respectfully request UC Davis withhold the impending release of the draft LRDP and NOP to provide the opportunity for UC Davis to appropriately consider the City’s requests contained herein.
Additionally, in parallel with the LRDP, the City believes that it is possible to develop a framework for a partnership that recognizes our mutual needs, as well as limitations in the face of the anticipated growth at UC Davis over the coming decade. We sincerely want to achieve a framework where both entities can best support one another and ensure desired outcomes with ongoing monitoring. The City is committed to working with UC Davis to develop such a framework in the months ahead.
We thank you for your prompt and serious consideration of these matters.