Back on November 1, the Davis City Council considered approvals for two hotels – the Hyatt House and the Marriot Residence Inn. While the Residence Inn has received considerably less in the way of pushback than the Hyatt House, council did not approve it at the November 1 meeting and pushed the consideration to December 6.
The project is a four-story extended stay hotel with 120 guest rooms and a maximum height of just under 50 feet, at 4647 Fermi Place, near the intersection of Mace Boulevard and Second Street.
At the time, council requested additional information on three topics: LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification as a measure of sustainability, photovoltaic commitment, and discussions with employee labor organizations.
On LEED, both the planning commission and members of the community have pushed for LEED Gold Certification.
However, both at the council meeting and at a private meeting with the Vanguard, members of the applicant team stated that, while they believed they could achieve a LEED Silver certification, “constraints imposed by the project site could potentially make a Gold-level certification problematic under newly-revised LEEDv4 standards.”
The applicant has stated that “outside of being near transit, the project scores relatively low on site location points given the suburban location. The applicant has voiced concerns that in order to make up the points lost on site location in other categories, the additional costs would result in a project that is no longer economically viable.”
Staff now reports that the applicant has engaged Thornton Tomasetti to conduct a peer review of the LEED checklist they have prepared.
Lynn Simon of Thornton Tomasetti has stressed to staff that “the LEED certification – or equivalency – is more of a process than just a checklist and building permit details. Final determination of whether a project is certified – and at which level – can occur months after completion of construction.”
However staff believes in, based on the preliminary checklist prepared by the consultants, “the potential of the project to garner the points sufficient to meet LEED Gold standards.”
However, “Instead of requiring LEED certification, staff is recommending a commitment to build the project to a LEED Gold equivalency standard that would be verified through a third party consultant agreeable to the City at the applicant’s expense.”
This was similar to what council previously passed with respect to Nishi.
This “review would occur as part of the building permit plan check process, and there would be additional obligations for monitoring during construction to ensure compliance with approved plans. This would allow certainty at time of building permit that the project has been determined to be sufficiently sustainable. The applicant could choose to pursue formal certification, or not, as a business decision.”
Council was also concerned in November about the project’s commitment to photovoltaics. The original sustainability plan called for a 75-kilowatts photovoltaic installation on the building roof and/or parking lot carports.
Staff now reports that, after additional research, “the applicant is now proposing 171 KW of generation capacity, with the balance of electricity to be purchased through the Valley Clean Energy Alliance’s ‘100% Green’ tariff. This would be provided through 475 PV modules installed on the roof and on carports covering all double-loaded parking spaces.”
Chris Soderquist, of New Energy Assets, believes that this will “generate as much on-site solar as is practically possible.” Staff believes this “recognizes the need to balance competing policy objectives such as tree canopy for parking lot shade with PV generation, and the need to retain sufficient roof space to accommodate mechanical equipment and access to panels.”
Therefore, staff recommends as a condition of approval: “A minimum of 171 KW (DC) of photovoltaic capacity shall be installed, as shown on the exhibit dated November 6, 2016. The balance of electricity to be purchased through the Valley Clean Energy Alliance’s ‘100% Green’ tariff, when it becomes available.”
With respect to labor issues, Eric Edelmayer from Jackson Properties wrote to the city that they met with UNITE HERE representative Ty Hudson. They write, “Mr. Hudson discussed the idea of utilizing union labor to operate the Residence Inn and provided a draft Memorandum of Agreement for further review. Mr. Hudson explained that if we signed the agreement the Union would support the Residence Inn project.”
Mr. Edelmayer explained, “We reviewed the Memorandum of Agreement and explained to Mr. Hudson that we are not able to execute a labor agreement at this time. We further explained we are not opposed to unionization and understand that we should not expect his organization’s support, but also hope they would not oppose our Project.”
There is a labor agreement in place between UNITE HERE and the developers of the Hyatt House.
Finally, there has been concern about the burrowing owls. Staff notes that the Initial Study for the Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) noted “the nesting pair of burrowing owls on the project site, and included a requirement for passive relocation of the owls as a mitigation measure.”
Staff believes that is consistent with the methodology established by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) protocols.
“As an alternative, with the appropriate permits, the property owner could pursue ‘active relocation’ of the owls to a suitable site, such as Grasslands Regional Park,” staff writes, noting that the city has “received correspondence from the Burrowing Owl Preservation Society requesting three modifications to the Mitigation Measures and Conditions of Approval.”
Staff supports the first, that “the requirement for the mitigation be under the supervision of a qualified burrowing owl biologist, and recommends the change.”
However, “The two other requests are that any owls that are passively relocated be banded, and that the City Council require active (rather than passive) relocation as a Condition of Approval for the hotel.”
Staff writes, “These two requests are not part of the standard protocol for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The City’s Wildlife Resource Specialist and CDFW are working to schedule a meeting to discuss alternative mitigation measures and assess opportunities for active relocation.”
“Absent support from CDFW, staff does not recommend modifications to the Mitigation Measures and Conditions of Approval,” they conclude.
Staff recommends that the council certify the MND, approve a resolution that amends “the General Plan to conditionally allow hotels within the Office land use designation in the area between Second Street and Interstate 80, with a Floor Area Ratio up to 100 percent” as well as an ordinance that would “allow hotels as a conditional use within the Light Industrial / Business Park district, in the area between Second Street and Interstate 80.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting