The previous proposal for redeveloping the former EMQ FamiliesFirst site at 2100 5th Street in Davis for Sterling Apartments generated a tremendous amount of opposition from neighbors at the nearby Rancho Yolo site. After working through a conflict resolution process, the developers have come back with a scaled down proposal.
The existing facilities and trees would be removed and redeveloped with a roughly 160-unit market-rate, student-oriented apartment building, with a separate affordable apartment component.
The original proposal called for 244 total units (203 market-rate student units with 727 bedrooms, and 41 affordable units with 74 bedrooms) and four- and five-story buildings.
The applicant has now reduced the size, height, and density of the project from the original proposal to three and four stories with 198 total units and 611 bedrooms, and also reduced the parking structure.
The revised 160-unit market-rate site now will have a three- and 4-story apartment building, a parking structure, a two-story leasing office/clubhouse building, and site improvements. The apartments will contain a mix of one to five bedroom units, with a total of 540 single-occupancy bedrooms.
The four-story (five-level) parking structure provides 343 parking spaces. Five additional surface parking spaces are provided. The affordable site will have 38 surface parking spaces.
The project generated a large number of comments during the EIR process. There were concerns that the student site would be able to double up on bedrooms, creating more than expected numbers of students which would increase the traffic and parking concerns.
The city had already committed to making sure “a maximum cap on total residents at the property would be strictly enforced.” Now the total number of students will be reduced from 727 bedrooms to 540 bedrooms.
There were also concerns about potential traffic impacts in downtown Davis as the result of this proposed project.
The EIR goes on at length to note that, under existing General Plan LOS (Level of Service) standards, “LOS ‘F’ is acceptable in the Core Area.” When they studied the traffic impacts, they found, “The majority of the study intersections and roadway segments were determined to result in less-than significant impacts with the addition of project-generated traffic.”
They add that “under the Cumulative Year 2035 No Project condition, all intersections and roadway segments, except the 2nd Street / Cantrill Drive intersection, will operate at LOS E or better.”
They find, “Cumulative impacts to the 2nd Street / Cantrill Drive intersection were determined to be significant and unavoidable.”
The EIR adds, “Should the project result in increased congestion in the Core Area, the City has determined, through the adoption of the above-referenced General Plan LOS policies and thresholds and General Plan EIR, that this congestion is acceptable in the Davis Core Area. As such, the traffic analysis contained in the Draft EIR has properly applied all applicable traffic thresholds of significance to the project study area, and all potentially significant traffic impacts have been disclosed, and where appropriate, mitigated to the greatest extent feasible.”
When the city used the conflict resolution process with the development of the Hyatt House hotel, it resulted in the unexpected agreement between residents and the developers. Based on that success, the city employed a similar process with the project.
The residents were especially concerned with visual blight from the five-story buildings, congestion on the Fifth Street corridor from 700-plus student occupants, and other impacts.
The agreement has led to a reduction in the number of bedrooms by a substantial number and a reduction of stories, which should alleviate potential impacts on the roads.
The project is now set to go before the Planning Commission on Wednesday, March 22.
The EIR identified significant and unavoidable cumulative impacts related to transportation, which require adoption of a statement of overriding considerations.
Potentially significant impacts related to issues of aesthetics, air quality, biological, cultural, geology, greenhouse gasses, hazardous materials, hydrology, and transportation were identified, but impacts were reduced to a less-than-significant level through the implementation of mitigation measures. All other impacts were determined to be less than significant.
The question now is – will the residents of Rancho Yolo and other neighbors now support this proposed apartment complex?
—David M. Greenwald reporting