Council Votes 4-1 to Allow MRIC to Go Forward with Certification Process

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Developer Dan Ramos discusses the previous project during January 2016 Vanguard Event

On Tuesday night, the council took a step forward by directing staff to initiate the EIR certification process for the Mace Ranch Innovation Center (MRIC) location, which will require additional public hearings of the planning commission and city council.  The motion by Lucas Frerichs, seconded by Rochelle Swanson, passed 4-1.

Mayor Robb Davis warned the applicants that this project “can’t jump the queue.”  The city, he said, has already committed to timelines on other projects and this cannot just jump ahead.  They will need to figure out when and where this can fit in.

“Is it flawed?  Maybe, but we’d have to go through the process to say as a council, yes,” the mayor explained.

John Taylor on behalf of MRIC said in this response to the letter from Don Mooney that they made four points in addition to the fact that the “Mooney Letter offers no legal reason why your Council should reject the MRIC’s request that its EIR be certified. Instead it makes a series of public policy arguments asserting that certification ‘is not in the public interest.’ The Council is accordingly completely free to weigh these contentions in its overall decision making as it sees fit, deciding as it does so whether they are or are not meritorious.”

The four points he raised are that, first, “certification will not result in project approval.”  Second, “Additional environmental review will be required, consistent with CEQA, if circumstances or the project itself change before approval is sought.”

Third, “Certification will likely serve to assist the MRIC proponents’ efforts to secure investors and/or tenants, all of which would be useful for achieving the City’s stated goal of fostering economic development and securing a first class innovation center within its boundaries.”

Fourth, “Certification will preserve and conserve the valuable work product contained in the EIR produced by City staff and its team of extensive consultants.”

Councilmember Rochelle Swanson said, “I disagree about it being precedent setting.  This is unusual.  This is an investment in our community that I am confident beyond confident that no one else would have stuck it out as long as this.”

She said she met with an investor who wants to invest in our community and “they’re nervous, they’re wondering what we’re going to do.  So this is real.”

In response to a concern about “future fighting,” she said, “I don’t believe there will be future fighting if we don’t move forward.  Because there won’t be anything to fight about anymore.”

She said we lack research space to do anything we want to do at this point.

“Are we open for business?” she asked.  “I don’t think so.  That breaks my heart because I’ve invested seven years in this.”  She added, “This is an inflection point to decide whether or not we’re really moving forward.”

Mayor Pro Tem Brett Lee, who ended up being the only dissenting vote, asked whether the non-certified EIR has a shelf-life.

Mike Webb, the Director of Community Development, responded, “No.”

He also explained that “the city’s consideration of any given project proposal under CEQA, if it’s within the bounds of what was analyzed in the environmental document, then that’s fair game.”  If the project goes out of those bounds “it would probably necessitate additional CEQA analysis in some form.”

City Attorney Harriet Steiner explained, “It’s unlikely that it would be a full new EIR but it could potentially be an addendum.”  The city could decide that “we don’t need to do any additional environmental review because we already looked at the mitigation measures for this.”  On the other hand, the city could decide “it needs to do more, it could do a supplemental EIR to look at things that weren’t analyzed in the original document because it was a different project.”

She said this is exactly the analysis that the council would go through if something new comes forward.

Brett Lee said, about other proposals coming forward, “it seems in fairness (if they’re) actively pursuing their proposal, it would seem a shame for them to have to wait while we sort of just for form’s sake certify an EIR where there may or may not be a project proposal before us.”  He said that “someone with an active live project probably deserves to go more toward the front of the line.”

Later, Will Arnold did point out that, while he had a similar concern, the project applicant that Brett Lee was referring to came to speak in support of this item.

Lucas Frerichs said, “We have every right as a city to be selective as to which projects we choose to encourage.  But the viability of those potential projects depends largely on the ability of financing and/or anchor tenants.”  He said if a certified EIR “moves the needle on either of those, I think it’s an advantage to the city.”

He said, “I can’t say with a straight face that I’m supportive of economic development in Davis if we’re going to continue to not be supportive of economic development in Davis.”

He said, while it “doesn’t mean at all costs,” he “really disagrees with the notion that certifying the EIR poses a risk to the city.”

He added that the EIR is a disclosure document, not a project approval document.

Councilmember Will Arnold was straight and to the point, “This commits us to nothing and this costs us nothing.”  He said, “I’ve seen attempts to change that narrative but frankly my mind hasn’t been changed.”

Mr. Arnold did add, “My desire to see something happen with this project has remained consistent since I ran for city council.  I believe this project could bring a tremendous benefit to our community.  Not just fiscal.”

He also added that he is opposed to housing on the site.

Once again, Robb Davis pointed out that we are losing a lot of our commercial spaces to housing.  He said, “I think I understand why this project is not going forward.”  There were big issues that were addressed by the commissions during the EIR process – open space, traffic, natural resources, etc.

He said, “An EIR might enable us to move more quickly.”

Mike Webb responded that it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have a document or analysis that one can go to.

Robb Davis said in response to the public comments saying the EIR is flawed, “We can’t conclude the EIR is flawed without going through the certification process of the EIR.”

In the end, the council voted 4-1 to move forward with the certification process, with Brett Lee dissenting.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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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81 thoughts on “Council Votes 4-1 to Allow MRIC to Go Forward with Certification Process”

  1. Tia Will

    Are we open for business?” she asked.  “I don’t think so.  That breaks my heart because I’ve invested seven years in this.”

    “I can’t say with a straight face that I’m supportive of economic development in Davis if we’re going to continue to not be supportive of economic development in Davis.”

    My desire to see something happen with this project has remained consistent since I ran for city council.”

    “An EIR might enable us to move more quickly.”

    Although I had and have no strong feelings one way or the other on this topic, I do think that these comments by the council members in voting to move forward are instructive. Although posters said repeatedly that certification without a project was a completely neutral action, each of the council members voting affirmatively made it clear that they do not see it as neutral, but rather as a means to expedite a project they favor.

    1. Howard P

       Although posters said repeatedly that certification without a project was a completely neutral action, each of the council members voting affirmatively made it clear that they do not see it as neutral, but rather as a means to expedite a project they favor.

      You lost me… in one sentence, you say there is no project, and then say they (CC) are looking to expedite a project they favor… I guess I missed the memo about the ‘project they favor’… elaboration would be useful.

      1. Ron

        Howard:  “I guess I missed the memo about the ‘project they favor’… elaboration would be useful.”

        In the end, the only thing that will matter is the “project that the developers” favor.  And, there’s no question which one that is.

        Didn’t you get the “memo” that the developers have no interest in a commercial-only development?

        Anyone who thinks that this proposed development will ultimately unfold in any other manner is fooling themselves, or simply lying about it. What I fear is the “b.s.” that some will believe, regarding the promised “benefits” that this will bring to the existing city. (I can hear it coming, now.)

        It’s going to be a long slog, regardless.

        1. Ron

          David:  “Given it’s a Measure R vote in the end the voters are what matters.”

          And, some are very development-oriented.  Others may be fooled by false promises, put forth by pro-development sources (who are quite interested to say the least, and can be quite talented at corrupting information).

          Others may try to defeat Measure R, itself.  (Before MRIC comes to a vote.)

          [moderator] “(who are quite interested to say the least, and can be quite talented at corrupting information).”
          You have been granted the privilege of posting anonymously. This means that your posts will be reviewed more stringently than those who post under their own names. I really hope you are getting the message.

      2. Tia Will

        Howard

        If I lost you, it is probably because you believe that I am making an assertion, which I am not. I am presenting my understanding of quotes from the city council members in light of there previous expressed opinions and actions. I apologize for any confusion my wording may have caused.

        So let’s start with each of them so I can clarify.

        Swanson. Please bear in mind that she made the statement publicly early in her public career that she believed that Davis “should grow as fast as we can”. All of her subsequent votes and actions have supported this position. Therefore she states “that breaks my heart because I have been working on this for 7 years”, I believe here.

        Frerichs. “I can’t say that I am supportive of development in Davis if we are not going to be supportive of economic development in Davis. Please note that Lucas did not make a statement about optimal form for that development and was making a blanket statement with no project before him, good, bad or indifferent.

        Arnold. ” I believe this project could be a tremendous benefit to our community. Please note that while he is making this statement, there is supposedly no project attached to it. So what project is he saying would be a great addition. I think that in this statement, he provides his own best argument for why this might not be a good idea. It seems that at least three members of our city council are thoroughly committed to pushing through a supposedly non existent project.

        Davis. Harder for me to read since the only comment I saw here was with regard to expeditious management and I was not there and have not watched the tape.

        I tried to answer honestly, but admit that I may have just muddied the waters of my reasoning.

        1. Roberta Millstein

          Tia, it was late and I was getting tired, but I think your impression is correct, that Robb did not express support for a project at that site as Rochelle, Will, and Lucas did.  Instead, I think he voted “yes” because he said that he was not persuaded that there were any downsides to voting “no” and left open the question of his support of a project at that site.  But again, perhaps that was just my impression.

           

           

  2. Jim Frame

    Lucas Frerichs said, “We have every right as a city to be selective as to which projects we choose to encourage.  But the viability of those potential projects depends largely on the ability of financing and/ or anchor tenants.”  He said if a certified EIR “moves the needle on either of those, I think it’s an advantage to the city.”

     

    By golly, those are my thoughts exactly.  In fact, I wrote those very words here yesterday.  What an amazing coincidence!

  3. Roberta Millstein

    I’m tired of being insulted by Rochelle, this not being the first time.  First she suggested that critics of moving forward with certification didn’t have the figurative “muddy boots” that she had to make a decision.  But then she went even further, implying that her real constituents were home with their families rather than being at a Council meeting at 11 PM (as though those of us who were there had made no sacrifice to do so).  It was Trump-esque.  I commend the rest of the Council who managed to express their views on the project and on moving forward on certification in a reasonable way that at least left room for the idea that they were listening to (even if they didn’t agree with) all Davis citizens.

    1. Colin Walsh

      I agree Roberta. I have tried to meet with Rochelle for about 8 months and she doesn’t even respond to emails, then she lectures us from the dais in insulting ways. I was particularly offended by her comments that the real constituents will be up at 5am to go to work. I was up at 5am to go to work today. Yesterday I worked more than a 10 hour day professionally, made it to both the County Supervisors meeting and the City Council meeting, had dinner with my family and tucked my kids into bed.

  4. Ron

    Tia:  “Although posters said repeatedly that certification without a project was a completely neutral action, each of the council members voting affirmatively made it clear that they do not see it as neutral, but rather as a means to expedite a project they favor.”

    Perhaps some were purposefully trying to deceive.

    Make no mistake about it, this is a restart of an effort to build a new city, outside of the boundaries of the current city.  It started out as a commercial/innovation center, which had relatively broad support.  Why am I not surprised (at all) that it “morphed” into a new city?

    There will be all kinds of promises made (financial, and otherwise), regarding the reason that we need a new city, to “bail out” the old, “dysfunctional” city.  As it progresses through the EIR certification process and beyond, you’ll hear lots of talk about all of the “internal needs” (for the existing, “dysfunctional” city) that this new development/city will magically satisfy.

    And now, the council has created a lot more work for itself and its citizens, to analyze an EIR for a proposed development that has been (*wink-wink*) “withdrawn”.  I guess we didn’t have enough of this with Nishi?  (At least Nishi wasn’t a poster child for sprawl.)

    Oh, well.  As Yogi Berra once said, “it’s deja vu, all over again”.

     

    [moderator] “purposefully trying to deceive” — You have been granted the privilege of posting anonymously. This means that your posts will be reviewed more stringently than those who post under their own names. I strongly urge you to avoid comments like the one I’ve cited.

    1. Howard P

      Careful, Ron…

      Perhaps some were purposefully trying to deceive.

      Them’s ‘fighting words’.  You put it in the context of,

      Although posters said repeatedly that certification without a project was a completely neutral action, each of the council members voting affirmatively made it clear that they do not see it as neutral, but rather as a means to expedite a project they favor.

      Perhaps you need to come out and say who you think”some” are… sure looks like you meant posters including Jim Frame and me.

      If you specifically are saying I tried to deceive ANYONE, particularly on this topic, I [object]*

      You also defame Jim… everyone who knows him knows that he is not a pro-development zealot [my laugh of the day], and he is as honest as a day ~ June 21 is long.

       

      [moderator] * edited, no name-calling please

      1. Ron

        Howard:

        For what it’s worth, I didn’t have you or Jim Frame in mind when I made those comments.  (In fact, I don’t recall you or Jim making the comments that Tia discussed.)

        I stand by my statement, otherwise.  (And, I am ready for a long, extended fight.  Not necessarily on the Vanguard, today.)

        If you still want to get angry, go ahead.

         

        [moderator] I am ready for a long, extended fight.
        You have been granted the privilege of posting anonymously. This means that your posts will be reviewed more stringently than those who post under their own names.

        1. Howard P

          Understood… you have done what I asked… you refined (somewhat) the definition of “some”… you appear to understand that Jim and I were basically trying to inform.  No harm, no foul.  Enjoy the glorious day between storm systems, and take care.

          And, if you have strong sentiments against either any given development on the site, or the process, you should fight… and if I perceive a flawed process, I’ll be at your side in the fight, and will watch “your six”.

          As to a given project on the MRIC site, I have no dog in the fight… I’d prefer a project under the Mace curve, actually… with one access lining up with the road that leads to CR 30-H.

        2. Ron

          Don:  Regarding – “I am ready for a long, extended fight”, how does that violate policy?  (I don’t understand.)

          And, now that I’m looking at some other comments above, I didn’t “single anyone out”. (Had I done so, than I would understand.)

          In general, would communications be better on the Vanguard, by avoiding the truth?

          [moderator] Communications on the Vanguard would be better if you considered it a conversation, not a fight.

      2. Roberta Millstein

        Don with your moderator hat on:

        You’ve called out Ron for making inappropriate remarks as an anonymous poster – how is this acceptable from Howard, another anonymous poster?

        If you specifically are saying I tried to deceive ANYONE, particularly on this topic, I call you edited

        [moderator] edited, thanks.

        1. Roberta Millstein

          Seems the moderator agrees with me that you should not be engaging in name calling.  Thanks, Don.

          Likewise I do not appreciate Howard’s insult to my profession.  Too late for him not being productive.

          If you are referring to my own views, anyone who cares to see them can scroll back and find the conversations.  I have not attempted to hide them.

           

        2. Howard P

          Roberta… you give yourself too much credit… WAY too much… I wrote something, counted to 10, then self-deleted it.  No moderation involved except by me.

          As to the interchange between Ron and me.  I even bolded an “if-then” statement… if Ron accused me of intentionally deceiving, then… Ron, pretty much immediately, clarified I was not the target.  I acknowledged, thanked him, and as far as I know, we’re (Ron and I) both good.

        3. Ron

          Howard/Don:

          Wondering what the policy is, if two “anonymous” posters “attack” each other.

          I know this isn’t the place to discuss policy, but it seems to me that “personal attacks” should either be “allowed”, or “not allowed” (regardless of anonymity).

          I’m fine with Howard challenging me, in the manner in which he chose to do so. However, I’m not sure that comments are consistently “moderated”, in general.  It’s an inherently subjective task.  Not sure why anyone would volunteer to do it.  (Thank you for assuming the task.)

          I realize that this comment will likely be deleted, and I won’t make any further comments regarding moderation, here.

        4. Howard P

          Don, as you consider Ron’s item, keep in mind we resolved, and dealt with each other, amicably, in a very short period of time… at least I believe we did…

        5. Roberta Millstein

          Roberta… you give yourself too much credit… WAY too much… I wrote something, counted to 10, then self-deleted it.  No moderation involved except by me.

          Really?  So, what does “[moderator] edited, thanks.” mean??  The words that are right on the page contradict you.  If you mean that you deleted your insult to my profession all on your own, well, then congrats to you for not making the same mistake twice in one morning.  Or at least congratulations on correcting yourself when you made the same mistake twice.

          As to the interchange between Ron and me.  I even bolded an “if-then” statement… if Ron accused me of intentionally deceiving, then… Ron, pretty much immediately, clarified I was not the target.  I acknowledged, thanked him, and as far as I know, we’re (Ron and I) both good.

          Whether you and Ron are good is not the issue.  The issue is that when you sling insults you make this an unpleasant place that drives away commenters, thus the Vanguard policy.  Personal attacks are also unproductive and beside the points that are at issue.  You should be able to rise above name-calling, even “if-then” conditional name calling.

    2. Roberta Millstein

      Make no mistake about it, this is a restart of an effort to build a new city, outside of the boundaries of the current city.  It started out as a commercial/innovation center, which had relatively broad support.  Why am I not surprised (at all) that it “morphed” into a new city?

      Ron, what gives you this idea?  Do you just mean the proposal that included housing, or do you mean something more?

  5. Dianne C Tobias

    I must admit I am fatigued and wary about this parcel given the several permutations the developer has presented in the past and I must admit I fell asleep watching it last night BUT ….does this move by CC allow for future projects to have varying impacts for instance traffic. Isn’t that part of what an EIR assesses?

    1. Howard P

      Any project that may have significantly different impacts will be subject to some further level of CEQA [might be minor, not necessarily a do-over, per se]… even  if not a significant change, there will be need to be documentation required to explain why it is not significantly different.

      But why would you trust someone who doesn’t post with full given name and a curriculum vitae on-line for all to see [some don’t, perhaps understandably]… well, anyhow, for what it’s worth, even if worthless…

        1. Howard P

          From what was analyzed.

          In other words, would a change significantly alter conclusions… as to traffic/circulation:  volumes, time of day (ex. peak hour), particular segments and/or intersections, could affect the analysis to date.  If a knowledgeable traffic engineer suspects it would, more analysis… if they think not, they would need (as a professional) to explain why not.

          Taken as an honest question, and hope that helps… it was meant as an honest answer, without going into a mini-seminar on traffic engineering.

  6. Ron

    By the way, the proposed MRIC is a “perfect location” for commuters who will work in Sacramento.  Easier commute than from anywhere else in Davis.  (Located at the last major freeway access point, on the edge of town.)

    Except for the university, Davis does not have a lot of “career” opportunities, for those who will live at MRIC (or otherwise).  (Especially compared to Sacramento.)  That will still be true even if some commercial/innovation businesses are located (and are successful) at a proposed MRIC.

    I (along with many of my neighbors) commuted from Davis to Sacramento for years.  MRIC will enable and encourage this.

    I guess that’s one of the “internal needs” that you won’t hear much about.

     

    1. Howard P

      Ron… actually two access points to E-bound I-80… much would still go thru Mace/32-A, but two access points to 32-A… there is also the ‘Webster interchange’… I actually use that route maybe 10% of the time… more scenic, less traffic at most times of the day, but a tad slower unless I-80 is “gummed up”… elaboration, not disagreement…

    2. Don Shor

      I (along with many of my neighbors) commuted from Davis to Sacramento for years. MRIC will enable and encourage this.

      Then so, apparently, does the subdivision in which you live. I wonder if you understand the irony of your comment, in view of your opposition to newer housing projects than the subdivision in which you live.

      1. Ron

        Don:

        The irony is not lost on me.  However, I did primarily use public transit, which was subsidized by my employer.

        I think the bigger question is, does it ever end?

        1. Ron

          Well, perhaps it will become less desirable, as more developments are built. (If it wasn’t for the flood zone between Davis and Sacramento, it would likely be covered with development, already.)

          Davis has already grown significantly, over the years.  (Both outward expansion, and infill.)  And yet, the city is “somehow” not better off (e.g., financially), for it.

          Maybe this new proposed development will “get it right”, this time? (Despite what history repeatedly shows us?)

          Perhaps a better way to word my question is, do communities have a right to decide how large they ultimately become?  Is constant growth/development a “goal”?  Does growth and development necessarily improve life for existing residents, and does it necessarily help a given city, in the long run?

          1. Don Shor

            A growing city is not unattractive to people who are considering living there (was it to you?). It is just unattractive to some of those who already live there. As any real estate agent can tell you, the schools are one of the major draws to Davis. Also I believe the compact downtown, the parks and greenbelts, the arboretum, and the lovely tree-lined streets attract people here.
            Communities do have the right to control their growth. Ever since Petaluma enacted a growth ordinance and it was challenged, and they won, that right has been established.
            Constant growth isn’t necessarily a goal of the community at large. But Davis did vote on that issue specifically once, and voted to grow as slowly as was legally possible.

    3. Mark West

      “Davis does not have a lot of “career” opportunities”

      Which is one of the most important reasons why we need to expand our business sector in town; to create good quality, private sector jobs. It won’t happen overnight, so in the meantime, many will follow your example, Ron, and commute to jobs outside the City.

      1. Ron

        Mark:

        I’m actually not convinced that Davis can (or should necessarily attempt to be) a major “career” center (other than at the university).

        Are there lots of highly-skilled individuals, who currently cannot find a job within the community or relatively nearby?

        Davis will never compete on an even keel, with Sacramento.  This is not a reasonable goal to pursue.  (Doing so would, however, increase pressure to grow the city.)

         

        1. Howard P

          Ron… yes there are a lot of highly skilled folk in town who need to go outside the Davis community to put their skills to best use.  Many take Amtrak every day to head to the Bay Area, some take transit or bike to Sac.  Many others need to commute by SOV.  Trade-offs… more opportunities in town, or more GHG generation.  And perhaps less local revenue from business activity. Choices.

        2. Ron

          Howard:

          Regarding the MRIC proposal, they’re apparently stating that the development will also bring in and house new residents, who will supposedly work at those new jobs.  If that’s accurate, I’m not seeing how that reduces GHG, for the existing city and its current residents.  (Of course, that doesn’t account for new residents of MRIC who won’t be working at the facility, but will nevertheless contribute to GHG. Nor does it account for non-work related travel, for those who might actually live/work at MRIC.) It’s located right next to a freeway access point.

          I’m going to have to leave this conversation shortly, for awhile.  However, I’m sure that these types of discussions will continue, for a long time into the future.

        3. Howard P

          No dispute there, Ron… choices require more choices, and are not simple… easy for me to say, as re:  MRIC, I am not a supporter, nor an opposer.  I am very concerned about how the conversation is framed (I prefer facts), and the process that is used to act on the conversation.

          For instance if Sony (pick your foreign corporation) were to move in, and transfer their existing employees to Davis to run it, be they foreign or domestic, that would be a problem.

        4. Mark West

          “I’m actually not convinced that Davis can (or should necessarily attempt to be) a major “career” center” 

          “Davis will never compete on an even keel, with Sacramento.  This is not a reasonable goal to pursue.  (Doing so would, however, increase pressure to grow the city.)”

          Excuse me, Ron, but where exactly is it that I proposed that Davis should become “a major “career” center” or “compete on an even keel, with Sacramento?” I stated a very simple, measure, incremental, concept that Davis needs to expand its private sector jobs so that we are less dependent on the public sector. In what is a fairly common approach for you, in your response, you misstate my position and turn it into some wildly exaggerated, worst case scenario (in your mind, at least) that you then proceed to decry.

          Growing private sector jobs will increase the wealth in the community and make for a fiscally stronger and therefore, better City. A simple concept that calls for a simple response, not wild exaggerations that the sky is falling (yes, my own exaggeration).

        5. Ron

          Mark:

          If you go back to the beginning of the thread, you’ll see that I was comparing the overall job market in Sacramento, vs. Davis.  The comment that you isolated was related to that comparison.

          From a “job-seeker” standpoint, Davis will never compare to Sacramento (except at the university, itself).  Of course, there are exceptions.

          From the city’s standpoint, some might believe that the possibility of jobs at MRIC will somehow offset the long-term costs of providing city services for those who reside at MRIC.  (You know – the same costs that are not currently under control within the existing city, and will increase as a result of MRIC.)

          Also, if I’m not mistaken, private-sector employers generally do not make a direct contribution to city finances, except via property taxes (which are needed to provide services for a given commercial/business development, even without residential development in the mix).  (Given the nature of the proposed development, significant sales tax seems unlikely, at MRIC.)

          At some point today, I will have to leave this conversation for awhile.

        6. Mark West

          “Also, if I’m not mistaken, private-sector employers generally do not make a direct contribution to city finances, except via property taxes”

          And how much do you think the City receives from the University?

          Well-managed cities receive the bulk of their revenues from taxes paid by businesses, and not from housing. Davis, for years, was dependent on housing development to pay the bills because we completely ignored the business sector growth (other than the few ‘special’ downtown businesses that we have actively protected from competition). The solution is to actively expand our business sector and grow good quality, private sector jobs, reducing our dependence on a public sector that supplies $0 revenues to the City.

        7. Ron

          Mark:

          I don’t think that anyone is arguing against efforts to expand and encourage commercial development, within the city.  Since doing so doesn’t expand the “footprint” of the city, the increase in taxes probably/generally offsets the increase in cost of services.

          However, the trend has been just the opposite of this.  Even our mayor pointed out that commercial sites within the city are under threat of conversion to residential development.  (For example, the proposed site on Chiles Road, and the Families First / proposed Sterling development- which is currently zoned light industrial.)  Not sure of the current zoning at the Lincoln 40 site, but Olive Drive generally seems better-suited for commercial development, if anything. Developers aren’t doing this to benefit the city.  Perhaps you could focus your efforts on this trend?

          Regarding MRIC, the developers have had more than enough opportunities to pursue their initial commercial proposal.  (Of course, since this site is outside of city boundaries, it would likely increase the cost of services more than a site within the city, even as a commercial-only development.) However, I understand that they’re no longer interested in this.  Perhaps there’s a lack of sufficient demand, to make such a proposal worthwhile.

          I might check in later, for further responses.

        8. Howard P

          Ron, re: your 2:46 post…

          Developers aren’t doing this to benefit the city.

          Absolutely correct… developers are not good fairies, nor charities…

          At the risk of wrong metaphors… in the plant kingdom, there are saprophytes, parasites, and forms that are mutualistic, engage in symbiosis, commensalism, etc.  see,

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symbiosis#Commensalism

          As a student of biology (and other sciences), who sometimes waxes philosophic, we do not want parasitic developers (and definitely not saprophytic… we’re already ‘dead’), but there are other ‘models’ in nature… as to business interests, I lean to the ‘symbiotic’ model.  Check out the options, assuming my link works…

        9. Mark West

          Ron Anon: “I don’t think that anyone is arguing against efforts to expand and encourage commercial development…”

          You are and have done so consistently.

          A couple of years ago a ‘back of the envelope’ calculation performed here in the comment section of the VG estimated that the City needed roughly 1000 acres of commercial development to fully address our commercial/residential imbalance (due to past planning decisions) and meet our current fiscal needs. You stated today that you oppose a project that would have added 200 acres of commercial development. Clearly, you do not think that business growth is the path forward for how the City will pay its bills, so I am curious what you propose instead? I suspect your preference is the same as many in the ‘no’ crowd, to ignore the problems and just wait until someone else has to pay for them. If not, do please, enlighten me.

        10. Ron

          Mark:

          Regarding your reference to my “anonymity” in my name, I always find it ironic that some who use their full names sometimes post some of the most impolite, misleading comments on the Vanguard.

          You’re misstating my position, and contradicting some of your own previous statements.  Again, if you’re so concerned about losing commercial development, you might want to speak out regarding the conversion of existing commercial sites for residential development, before advocating for annexation of additional land.

          It is difficult to believe that all commercial/business sites should suddenly be “mixed use”.  Some businesses do not mix well with residences, and doing so changes the nature and cost of services required for the entire site.  It can also fail to maximize the use and amount of available space for commercial development.  (If your “calculation” shows that we need 1,000 acres of commercial development, I would think that you might be concerned about the loss of existing commercial sites caused by changing existing zoning to allow residential development.)

          Mixed use is now being proposed by developers to create more profitable results (for developers – not the city) by proposing residential development on this large-scale, outlying site.  That is the primary reason that we’re seeing these types of proposals, now.  In addition, vertical mixed use allows developers to completely bypass Affordable housing requirements.

          If a commercial-only MRIC came forward again, I would likely not oppose it.

          Just recently, I recall you mentioning that increasing revenue (via taxes or development) is not a “solution”, if costs continue to remain uncontrolled.

  7. John Hobbs

    As of December 22, the Vanguard requires users to log in under their real name.”

    Except of course, those who know the secret handshake. lol.

    Lucas: “I can’t say with a straight face that I’m supportive of economic development in Davis if we’re going to continue to not be supportive of economic development in Davis.”

    Rochelle: “I don’t believe there will be future fighting if we don’t move forward.  Because there won’t be anything to fight about anymore.”

    Sounds right to me. Rochelle is the brightest bulb on that string, most times.

    1. Tia Will

      And I think that Rochelle, no matter how bright she may be is grossly over exaggerating the demise of Davis as a community even if we don’t grow as much as she would like.

      1. Roberta Millstein

        I think in context, she meant that we won’t be fighting over MRIC because certification of the EIR is the last hope for the project, and that without certification of the EIR, MRIC would be dead in the water.

        But yes, she may be grossly exaggerating the important of MRIC.  That she is very intelligent is not in question.

        1. John Hobbs

          Or you both are sadly under-estimating the trepidation with which any first rate developers view any projects in Davis. The no growthers will get their way and you can watch those amenities that attracted you to the town dry up and blow away. Your streets and some of your parks are warning signs.

        2. Ron

          John:  “Or you both are sadly under-estimating the trepidation with which any first rate developers view any projects in Davis.”

          I assume that you’re not referring to the new owners/developers of University Research Park (formerly Interland?), Hyatt, Residence Inn, the entire downtown block that was recently purchased by outside developers, etc.  (Of course, I understand that these examples are not without controversy, either.)

          https://www.davisvanguard.org/2016/10/view-economic-development-davis-gets-new-jolt/

          Davis’ growth control measures contribute to the desirability of Davis, to developers.  It is extremely lucrative, for successful developers.  (And, only “first-rate” developers will have the means and ability to navigate the process, and to provide actual benefits to the community.)

           

        3. David Greenwald

          You think that Ron?  More and more, I’ve heard that they are avoiding Davis like Hines (a world class developer) did when they pulled out of the Davis Innovation Center.

        4. Ron

          David:

          I seem to recall that one of the developers (perhaps associated with Sierra Energy?) said something like, “you can chase developers out of Davis with hot tar/feathers, and they’ll come back for more”.  (Not sure of the exact quote or who said it, I believe that the comment was made in the Vanguard, shortly after Nishi was voted down.)

          In general, I’m guessing that large-scale peripheral commercial developments might be a little more challenging for developers, since they might view the commercial market from a regional, rather than extremely local level.  Still, I would think that there’s a certain amount of appeal to be located in Davis, and near the university.  (Depending upon the type of commercial development.)  It’s a lot more difficult to have “panache” for a world-class innovation center in one of the surrounding communities.  (Their slogan to appeal to potential employees and others:  “We’re kind of close by UCD and Davis, at least”? “Sorry that we couldn’t afford the real thing.”)

        5. David Greenwald

          There might be appeal, but what happened is that the developers at the Davis Innovation Center rather than throw more money at a project in Davis moved up the road to Woodland where they had no resistance.

          If Davis doesn’t figure out a way to make commercial space, the cost of living in Davis is going up, quality of life is going down.  It’s self-defeating.

        6. Ron

          David:

          I’m not real familiar with the Davis Innovation Center (including whether or not it’s actually been built, the status of the businesses it hopes to attract, etc.).  I recall reading about it on the Vanguard.  In any case, if it’s already established and successful, perhaps it’s too late to build a “duplicate”, in Davis.

          The following website indicates that it’s still planned to be in Davis (along Covell Boulevard).  (I guess they haven’t kept their website up-to-date, which makes me question the status of the entire project.)

          http://davisinnovationcenter.org/the-project/project-summary/

          Going back to the initial “need” for an innovation center, I’d suggest that controlling costs within the city should be the first priority.  (And, I understand that this still hasn’t been completely addressed.)  Nor has some of the cost-controlling processes that the finance and budget committee suggested been implemented (e.g., examining personnel structure within the city, with a goal of ensuring the greatest value from current employees).

          Beyond that, I’d still suggest that some of the challenges that Davis is facing are shared by many (most?) other cities and counties (as well as the state itself), throughout California.  (I provided a number of comments and links regarding this on the Vanguard, within the past few weeks.)

          Given the magnitude and system-wide scope of the challenges, I sincerely doubt that Davis will have to completely resolve these challenges, entirely and immediately on its own. (If it was actually able to accomplish this, Davis might be one of the ONLY communities to do so.)

           

        7. Ron

          David:

          I don’t get it.  The website still says that it’s planned for Davis, but you said it went to Woodland.  Now, you’re saying that they are gone.

          Regardless of where they’ve gone, can they please take the MRIC “non-proposal” with them? 🙂

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            The website probably hasn’t been updated in two years, so it’s way out of date. They pulled out of Davis in May 2015. Last summer I reported that they were looking at a space in Woodland a few miles north of the Davis spot.

        8. Ron

          David:

          Thanks.

          So, according to the article, the developers of the Davis Innovation Center wanted to add housing, as well.  And, the development is still in the planning stages, perhaps ultimately in Woodland.

          Well, this goes back to an earlier point.  If the Davis (Woodland?) Innovation Center is actually planned for Woodland, perhaps it’s too late to build a similar development in Davis. (Assuming that those in Davis want another mini-city, rising up just outside of the current city.)

        9. Ron

          Don:

          Because the term roughly applies, when a proposed development outside the boundaries of the city includes both commercial and residential development.  Of course, it would require an expansion of city services, provided by the existing city (which is not in complete control regarding the long-term costs of those services).

          Actually, a commenter who appeared to support the concept used the same term on the Vanguard, a few days ago.

          I suspect that you pretty much knew the reason that I used the term.

        10. Howard P

          Ron… technical matter… if MRIC is approved in some form by the CC, it has to be ‘within the City’ or the approval contingent on that being so…

          Theoretically, now that the “pass-through” agreement is in significant question, the County could approve a development there… same impacts, no City revenue… not likely, yet…

          1. Don Shor

            The term ‘mini-city’ is just hyperbole and doesn’t even make sense. Residential neighborhoods that were created by annexation have commercial components. That doesn’t make them “mini-cities.” They’re just neighborhoods. In fact, the city’s general plan has a basic concept that neighborhoods shall be served by shopping centers, centers which preclude certain types of retail, and which are intended to complement but not out-compete the downtown shopping core.
            I suspect Ron is just using the term to make MRIC sound bigger and of greater impact. Adding housing may or may not be a good idea; it’s almost certainly politically untenable. But it doesn’t make the project some unique sort of “mini-city.” It’s just a business park that contains some housing. Or a housing project that contains some commercial development.
            Everything that adds to the city increases city service costs. The question is whether the net revenues that accrue from bringing the property taxes into the city limits, the business-to-business sales, the unsecured property tax revenues, and the direct sales tax revenues add up to more than those ongoing costs to the city.

        11. Ron

          Don:

          Sorry that you don’t like the description of the non-proposal as a “mini city”.  Again, an apparent “pro-development” commenter also used the term recently, in a different context. But, you didn’t object, then.

          There is no need for me to use “hyberbole” to describe it as large.  850 residential units, plus large-scale commercial.  (I’ve forgotten how that compares to Mace Ranch, or Wildhorse.)

          If the proposal ultimately does not have (viable) commercial development, it might be better-described as a “suburb” of Davis.

          In addition to the costs that you mentioned (which still aren’t under control, in the long-term), there would be other impacts.

          In the end, Davis residents might be asked to decide if continued geographic expansion and development is something to pursue, for its own sake.

  8. Ron

    Don:  “Communications on the Vanguard would be better if you considered it a conversation, not a fight.”

    I wasn’t necessarily referring to the upcoming conflict as something that is limited to communications on the Vanguard.  (Perhaps I should have clarified this.)

    Regardless of how one feels regarding a given major proposed development, it inevitably turns into a political fight (e.g., Nishi being the most recent example). Personally, I am much more opposed to MRIC than I was to Nishi.

    I suspect that as the proposal goes forward, a “fight” will be the most accurate way to describe it – even on the Vanguard. (Not just limited to my comments.) However, I will do my best to adhere to Vanguard policy (whatever that is). 🙂

  9. Todd Edelman

    I moved here recently and am still playing catch up with all the projects that started to get cooked up here long before I arrived in the dining area or was granted limited access to the kitchen… so have some general questions about the menu:

    * Don’t mixed-use neighborhoods have those “commercial” benefits which Mayor Davis mentioned that the city has been losing with e.g. ground level retail, which of course can have huge benefits for reducing VMT and CO2 and increasing safety? (I realize that these places are not necessarily “career” centers, as discussed here…)

    * Has a commute hours bus-only lane every been seriously considered between some point west of Davis and wherever is feasible engineering-wise in Sacramento? If used by buses in an optimal way this would mitigate a lot of the impacts of this location which is both peripheral to Davis and far enough from Sacramento – and the Davis Depot – to lea towards automobile access? (Consider one or more point-to-point buses from West Davis, zipping to this location via 113 and I-80…)

    * If we push hard for it, Davis will have a high-speed rail link in full effect by 2047. Are large projects like this being built with it in mind? For example, as Capitol Corridor or its successor – oh… it would be great to not have to follow the burdensome rules of Amtrak – will have its own infrastructure, there’s a good argument for a stop on a slower speed train that stops at Davis Depot, near MRIC and West Sac… with a quick transfer at Davis Depot to and from the HS train. So it would be good if the MRIC is designed to have the possibility for a great and finely-detailed interface with the train so people have no excuses to drive there. (Of course in the interim this would be the bus stop…). Similarly, a multi-level parking structure saves space in the near- and medium – but is much harder to convert to offices, labs, housing, etc. than a typical terrible asphalt parking sea – a “Bitumen Bypass?” like at Target – insert bicycle wheel-shopping cart pictogram -and everywhere in Woodland. In others words designing for lots of car parking is not necessary with robust public transportation solutions for MRIC in the short-, medium- and hopefully not so long-term.

  10. Tia Will

    Don

    A growing city is not unattractive to people who are considering living there (was it to you?)”

    This is not necessarily true. When I came as a student, I specifically was attracted by the small town atmosphere. I did not want Davis to grow even though I could not afford to live here at the time. I felt that if I wanted to live here, it was my responsibility to work, save and or invest appropriately until I could afford to live here. I certainly did not want anyone to have to change the fundamental nature of their neighborhood to provide me with a place to live. When it did become affordable to me through my efforts some years later, it had grown and was somewhat less to my liking, but not enough to prevent me from moving here.

    1. Mark West

      “I did not want Davis to…”

      There are many things in life that we each may want (or not want) but have no control over. The population of Davis will continue to grow as long as the population of the region grows, regardless of how many restrictions we put in place. By limiting residential development we have not stopped people from coming here, we have just forced them to cram together into the existing housing stock, changing single family homes into multi-adult dormitories. In the process, pushing young families out of town and turning the place into a de facto retirement community and student ghetto. You are apparently not bothered by this change because you are wealthy and near retirement, and own multiple houses and thereby profit from it.

      1. Tia Will

        Mark

        You are apparently not bothered by this change because you are wealthy and near retirement, and own multiple houses and thereby profit from it.”

        So if you know that these are the reasons that I feel the way I do, how do you explain why I felt exactly the same way when I had no income that was not provided by my scholarship and my savings from working full time while going to college full time. No, it is not because I am wealthy, own multiple houses and therefore profit. It is because I prefer small towns to large cities, whether poor or wealthy and I have been both while living in Davis. I know that that doesn’t fit with your stereotype of how I must be, but that is the reality.

        1. Mark West

          That you are wealthy, near retirement and own multiple houses, are all facts that you have self-reported. It is a reasonable assumption that you receive financial benefit from the houses you own that are not your personal residence and thereby benefit from the current severe housing shortage in Davis. You have also stated that you are not concerned about the changing demographics and the impact that is having on the town. My conclusions were reasonable, but I accept that you refute them.

           

  11. Robb Davis

    I want to share some thoughts on my vote on this matter.  Disparate and perhaps disjointed (it was a late night), but hopefully they will help.

    1. The draft EIR was reviewed by all relevant Commissions and in several public meetings.  I participated in nearly all of these and the debates vacillated between people wanting to discuss specific project features and responding to specific expected impacts and proposed mitigations to those impacts.  The bottom line is that the EIR document received a tremendous amount of public input from a broad cross section of participants.  Many people providing input into the EIR did not like the project (or the equal weight alternative) but even those who did not were willing to step back and offer suggestions about whether the document adequately described impacts and mitigations.  There was disagreement but I think it was well vetted.

    2. The project that was analyzed and the equal weight alternative were laid out in fairly specific terms and that was the basis for assessing impacts and proposed mitigations.  As Brett said, these represent a kind of “envelope” or set of boundaries.  In my view the project that was reviewed (and the alternative) represent the highest impact use.  That is not to say others may not have greater impact but these were the largest, most comprehensive projects on offer and therefore represented, to date, the biggest set of impacts.

    3. Any future project will probably be different but the EIR offers a solid foundation on which to evaluate any changes.  Any project can be examined in light of the ones already examined and an honest assessment made as to how the impacts might be different.  I suspect a smaller project may come forward first (I base that in the final set of ideas that the Ramos team proposed last year).  If that were the case it would be fairly straightforward to ask in what ways that project arguably has greater or lesser impacts. I am not sure there would be a big fight about that, especially if building sizes and general proposed uses were similar to what was already proposed.  If some form of warehousing or heavy manufacturing (with significantly more water use, for example) were being proposed, then impacts would clearly be different.

    4. The Final EIR discloses a set of impacts that can be expected based on a project and an alternative (with housing).  It lays out mitigations to these impacts.  These have been inspected, evaluated and commented on (and questioned).  The comments and questions are included in the final document with relevant responses from experts.  It represents a lot of work.

    5. The Final EIR may be flawed but we cannot formally declare it as so without a certification process.  That process, which includes input from the Planning Commission and public hearings there and at the CC, will provide an opportunity for us to assess its adequacy in a transparent way.  We may choose to certify it or not–in which case we would need to say, in my view, why not.

    6. If we certify the EIR it may help streamline the process of moving towards a Measure R vote if/when another project is brought forward.  That may be useful IF an opportunity to welcome a business or businesses to Davis emerges (I use the DMG Mori example).  With the EIR done (or mostly done with certain amendments required), we could move more efficiently to hashing out the baseline project features, development agreement and, perhaps, the mitigation options. All of these will be input into the Measure R vote.

    7. Streamlining the EIR process could be useful if a good opportunity for a purpose built campus emerges.  The EIR is time consuming and costly.  I see no downside to moving certification forward (assuming it is not flawed in some way) to remove that hurdle.  I feel comfortable, as I always have, with this site, because it is surrounded by land that has been placed in permanent agricultural easements. That makes it a good site to place a commercial zone.  This has not changed.

    For these reasons I feel like valuing the work that has been done and finalizing the EIR process does not represent a risk to the community. The additional time commitment is limited. It commits us to nothing. It does not remove the right of the population to vote on a specific project. It precludes nothing.

    A word on housing at MRIC: At this date I am the lone supporter (in the entire City, I believe) of a mixed use alternative on the site.  I have supported that for fiscal feasibility reasons but, more importantly, because I think it makes for good land use planning that will actually reduce sprawl and reduce VMT and GHG.  That is my view, but it is clearly out of step with the community.  No other current CC member supports it.  I doubt any of those considering running for CC at this time will risk championing it.  I do not believe any foreseeable project there will include housing.

    I hope this helps lay out my thinking. Please contact me at rdavis@cityofdavis.org if you want to discuss this one on one or in a group. I am willing to talk to anyone.  I am not sure I will have more time to post here on the VG but if something is not clear, write to me or call.

    1. Mark West

      “I am the lone supporter (in the entire City, I believe) of a mixed use alternative on the site.”

      Here, you are wrong. Mixed-use is the logical way forward with most all new development and redevelopment projects in town. In fact, I think it should be the default approach until we have a more reasonable rental housing market. It is Davis, however, and logic or rational thought rarely comes into play when we discuss development.

    2. Tia Will

      Thanks Robb. Your sharing certainly does help move me a little closer to understanding an issue way out of my comfort zone. And you are certainly not alone in your belief that mixed use might be a better use of this site. But again, that is just my opinion since I have next to zero knowledge of effective city planning.

  12. Ron

    In the end, I suspect that it might end us as a *gasp* farm, as it is now.  (But, only after a massive fight or two.)

    Oh, my god!  Somebody build something!  I can still see soil, on the edge of town! (And from what I understand, pretty good soil.)

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