Fresh off an approval of the 540-bed Sterling Apartments, the City of Davis on Tuesday approved the scope of the EIR for Lincoln40, which proposes 708 beds on a nearly six-acre site along East Olive Drive, with a new 130-unit, three-, four- and five-story student-oriented housing project.
Staff notes, “As currently submitted, Lincoln40 will include a mix of 2-bedroom to 5-bedroom fully furnished living units that will be accessed via interior hallways and elevators. 64% of the 130 units will be 4-bedroom/4-bathroom units, which range in sizes from approximately 1,024 square feet to 1,797 square feet. All units will have a kitchen, dining area and secure bedrooms each complete with a private bathroom.”
There will be a total of 473 bedrooms with 235 of these bedrooms designed for double occupancy.
The report notes, “The double occupancy rooms will be slightly larger and will include double vanities in the private bathroom. The amenities that will be provided will include, but not be limited to a swimming pool, fitness center, indoor and outdoor lounge areas, outdoor barbecues, cabanas and each floor will offer private study areas complete with wireless internet, charging stations and desks.”
The apartment complex will contain 708 beds, a total of 240 surface parking spaces of which 23 will be covered and under the building envelope, and 60 tandem spaces, while approximately 100 spaces may be designed with carports.
While much of the council discussion focused on the components of an EIR, the public comments show many gearing up for a new fight along similar lines as Sterling, but with the twist of this project being on Olive Drive – with concerns about the impact of the Richards-Olive intersection, the possibility of the tight diamond formation for the freeway interchange project and the closure of the Olive Drive off-ramp.
The council heard some of these concerns in the public comments.
Alan Hirsch told the council he was concerned that having five-bedroom apartments created “obviously ways to reduce the amount of revenue the city is getting by putting more and more bedrooms and fewer and fewer units. City fees are assessed on a per unit, not a per bed basis.”
He called for the city to review this thing to make sure it is optimal for the students and city finances.
He also noted, “The citizens didn’t like Nishi largely because of the air quality concerns, this is sitting right next to the train station [where the] biggest belching smoke comes out of the trains. I have real concerns this is not an appropriate place for housing.”
Eileen Samitz expressed concerns about affordable housing, stating, “Lincoln40 should not be able to buy its way out affordable housing – nor should any project of this size, because that’s where we get our affordable housing from.”
She was also concerned again about size, stating that “projects should have 1, 2, and 3 bedrooms, traditional apartments to be available to students and non-students. The four and five bedroom suites do nothing to help provide rental housing for non-students, particularly families.”
She also brought up concerns about the need for water metering to encourage water conservation. She noted that the Natural Resources Commission “has been advocating for this process for multi-family housing for a while.”
Ms. Samitz argued that the project needs to be significantly downsized because “to try to jam in over 700 occupants for what’s going to be essentially a cul-de-sac, because if and when the Olive Drive exit is closed down which I keep on hearing, it’s going to be basically a fire trap.” She said, “It would be best to downsize it to some extent.”
She was also concerned that there is not enough parking, “this idea that if we just don’t build parking that cars will not exist or need to park… parking provides storage for cars, it doesn’t necessarily translate into vehicle trips.” She said that they should have enough parking so it doesn’t push the problem down to the next apartment complex or surrounding businesses.
Mayor Robb Davis noted in his comments that “the EIR is great, but people really want to talk about the project. I think we should figure out… a way to do that so that we’re not talking about the project in the guise of an EIR, which is two very different things.”
The mayor noted, with regard to affordability, “we’re not bound by ordinance on this, we have an opportunity where we can discuss and decide what makes most sense.” He said he believes there is some misunderstanding on the issue of affordability. “I think we should be clear, we have an existing affordable housing stock in the city and one of the reasons we allow for in lieu fees is because we have found over time that we need resources to maintain some of that stock.
“We’re not letting anybody off the hook, we’re basically saying sometimes it’s good to have cash to take care of some of our needs,” he said. “We have multiple ways of dealing with affordability. We saw that last week.”
He said this is something they to talk about in the coming months.
For this meeting, under the advice of Mayor Pro Tem Brett Lee, the council added a mixed-use alternative and staff will have to determine which of the eight other alternatives to keep in the EIR:
No Project Alternative – CEQA requires the evaluation of the comparative impacts of the “No Project” alternative which “would assume that the project site remains in its existing state and no additional development would occur.” Unfortunately, as the Vanguard has noted, a no project alternative does not consider the opportunity costs involved with having no project.
Existing Gateway / Olive Drive Specific Plan Alternative – Under the Existing Gateway / Olive Drive Specific Plan Alternative, it would be assumed that the project site would be redeveloped pursuant to the current Specific Plan land use assumptions for the project site.
Conventional Apartments Alternative – Under the Conventional Apartments Alternative, the project site would be redeveloped similar to the proposed project with 130 units, but with conventional apartments leased by unit, rather than student-oriented apartments with the option to lease by bedroom.
Reduced Density Student Apartments Alternative – The Reduced Density Student Apartments Alternative would maintain the project as student-oriented apartments, but with a reduced number of units. The Reduced Density Student Apartments Alternative would involve development of the site with 100 student apartment units (an approximately 23 percent reduction in the number of proposed units).
Aggressive Transportation and Parking Demand Management Alternative – The Aggressive Transportation and Parking Demand Management Alternative would involve development of the site similar to the proposed project, but with fewer parking spaces. The same number of units, mix of unit type, layout, and building design would occur under the Aggressive Transportation and Parking Demand Management Alternative as the proposed project. The only difference from the proposed project would be to impose restrictions on parking in order to aggressively discourage the use of single-occupancy vehicles and reduce vehicle miles traveled associated with future residents at the site.
Off-Site City (3820 Chiles Road) Alternative – The Off-Site (3820 Chiles Road) Alternative would involve development similar to the proposed project at an off-site location. Parcels of similar size that are designated and/or zoned for multifamily residential uses are not currently available for development within the City. For the purposes of evaluating an off-site alternative location within the City, City staff has identified a 7.4-acre property located at 3820 Chiles Road. The property currently contains an existing UC Davis office building and associated parking lot. Existing uses surrounding the property include commercial, as well as multi-family and single-family residential. The property faces Interstate 80 (I-80) directly to the north.
Off-Site Woodland Alternative – The Off-Site Woodland Alternative would involve development similar to the proposed project at an off-site location within the City of Woodland. The same number of units, mix of unit type, layout, and building design would occur under the Off-Site Woodland Alternative as the proposed project. Similar to the proposed project, the Off-Site Woodland Alternative would include a mix of two-bedroom to five-bedroom furnished student apartments with buildings from three- to five-stories tall, for a maximum height of 60 feet. Parking would be provided consistent with City of Woodland standards. The Off-Site Woodland Alternative would include the same amenities as the proposed project.
Off-Site UCD On-campus Alternative – The proposed additional UCD On-campus Alternative would evaluate the construction of a similar project (i.e., a 130-unit with 708 bedroom, and two- to 5-story multi-family project) on the UCD campus without specifying a site. It might not be prudent to speculate the appropriate site to accommodate a similar project on Campus. However, it is reasonable to believe that UCD could accommodate a similar project if it chose to do so. Additionally, staff concurs with interested citizens who have commented that adding this alternative would be consistent with the City Council’s December 2016 resolution and letter to the UCD Interim Chancellor regarding the Long Range Development Plan.
Staff reports that completion of the Draft EIR is progress, and upon completion the Draft EIR will be released for public review in the coming weeks. The Draft EIR will be presented to various commissions for review and comments. Upon completion of the Final EIR, public hearings on the planning application entitlements and the Final EIR adoption are anticipated to occur later this year.
(Correction: The eighth alternative was inadvertently not included above, but has been added.)
—David M. Greenwald reporting