Proposed Lincoln40 Student Apartment EIR Project Alternative

Last June, the city received an application to redevelop approximately 5.92 acres of properties along East Olive Drive, proposing a new 130-unit, three, four, and five story student-oriented housing project, Lincoln40.

The applicant has opted go forward with EIR preparations which are ongoing, and city staff is asking for the council to confirm EIR Project Alternatives at this time.

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.

Staff writes, “Based on public comments received on the Initial Environmental Study (August 2016) prepared for the project and in order to fully evaluate potential environmental impacts, the City determined that an EIR would be prepared.”

Pursuant to the CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) Guidelines Section 15126.6, an EIR “shall describe a range of reasonable alternatives to the project, or to the location of the project, which would feasibly attain most of the basic objectives of the project but would avoid or substantially lessen any of the significant effects of the project, and evaluate the comparative merits of the alternatives.”

Public scoping comments related to the project and alternatives have suggested “reductions in the size and intensity of the development, changes to accommodate traditional households instead of the student-focused project, consideration of other locations for the development such as the UC Davis campus, non-residential development, or retention and re-use of the existing facilities.”

Staff notes CEQA does not require that the level of detail or analysis of the alternatives be equal to the proposed project. “CEQA only requires that a reasonable range of alternatives be considered and that the information be sufficient to provide a meaningful analysis and comparison to the proposed project.”

In addition to the purpose of the project, the project is being pursued with the following objectives:

  1. Reduce overcrowded living conditions that currently exist for students residing in the City by developing a new off-campus apartment housing project with easy access to UC Davis.
  2. Revitalize an underutilized tract of land along East Olive Drive by developing a three to five story for-lease student housing apartment community that provides a mix of two-bedroom to five-bedroom furnished living units.
  3. Provide residents with a range of indoor amenities including a student community center with fitness facilities, study lounges, game rooms, café areas, bike storage areas and bike maintenance and repair facilities, and with a range of outdoor amenities including a pool, outdoor barbecue area, cabanas, game areas and lounge areas to create a safe and active onsite community environment.
  4. Utilize a project location and design principles that encourage and support the use of alternate forms of transportation (public transit/pedestrian/cycling) to both downtown Davis and the UC Davis campus.
  5. Incorporate sustainable design strategies consistent with LEED Silver certification standards.

The city proposed seven alternatives:

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.

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.

—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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    1. Howard P

      That’s a good idea… on at least 2 levels, including disclosing what the impacts to the City would be of UCD developing a similarly sized project on campus… then people could see the impacts of more housing, whether in the City or on campus.

      1. David Greenwald

        I have mixed feelings on that.  I don’t think campus is a true alternative to Lincoln40.  Even at 100/50, which the Campus has not agreed to, there needs to be more housing in town/ off-campus which puts the alternatives rightly as a reduce project, a project elsewhere in town, and a project in Woodland.

        1. Howard P

          The basic problem is the intersection of Olive/Richards… that is the only egress for the Lincoln project…

          Except for that “choke point” (and nearby intersections/segments), the EIR would likely disclose that the impacts of development of those number of housing units, whether @ Lincoln or on campus, would be remarkably similar… I think this direct comparison has value in the public understanding and discourse.

          Not sure it will moderate some of what is opined that if growth of housing is on UCD, the City will not be affected, or intensify the no growth, nowhere, no time…

          I truly support the concept that it should be a “reasonably anticipated” alternative… and, by the same token, additional housing as part of the LRDP, should include the alternative of siting more of the proposed housing needed in the City and/or surrounding communities… and for siting less of the housing needs in the City and/or surrounding communities.

          I believe these analyses will be of value, at least to those that think, and reason… however few they may be.

          Oh… and the project proposed is definitely “not the same” as, nor should necessarily be an “equal weight analysis”, because you are correct David… it is absolutely not in the City’s power to REQUIRE UCD to do anything.

        2. Todd Edelman

          Howard P said:
          only egress

          Egress possibilities here, just not for car:

          * 80-Richards Project includes connector from Pole Line to bike path east of closed Olive off-ramp;
          * Project includes some kind off crossing of Richards (the concept revealed in December had a odd circuitous thing and I’m not sure why there can’t be an undercrossing here — path can be protected or Olive design speed’d to 20 mph);
          * Project includes a sort of mirror bike-path – of existing too small tunnel –  on east side of Richards and towards First – along with the other connections capacity should be fine; tunnels can’t be split because they land in different spots;
          * Project includes a bike-ped crossing of the train tracks landing somewhere in Davis Depot or its ridiculous parking lot.

          I had mentioned the last item repeatedly in my comments about connections from Sterling going this way: My gracious suggestion is to make the over-crossing also connect towards 2nd St.

          So – not for cars – potentially Lincoln 40 could have safe and/or carfree connections:
          * to campus (via the Nishi-Arboretum mixed-use tunnel)
          * to campus (on Richards onto First St.)
          * to Davis Depot (some path over tracks, but this would take a lot of length which is fine for bikes but not so much for peds/people in wheelchairs, so for the latter something like the Oakland Jack London Amtrak crossing would be nice.
          * to Downtown (as above);
          * to 2nd St. and L (Future “Energy Commons” mixed-use carfree development at HUGE PG&E site)
          * to Pole Line (to visit Sterling, if built, where residents will be “showersharing” their excessive shower capacity; or to South Davis.)

          People visiting Lincoln 40 by car could come from Richards… and, that’s it! Or people will park at Amtrak – under its current ridiculous rules – and walk over the tracks.

          My concept amendment for 80-Richards includes a large parking structure incorporated into the planned new configuration. This replaces the parking structure on First St, and from here people catch a free shuttle to Downtown (and a dedicated shuttle to Amtrak), ride bikeshare bikes or walk: It should also include a direct-as-possible connection to Davis Depot via the aforementioned crossing of the ROW.

          But I want to amend that – and thank you so much, Mr. P, for muse-ing me thus – the aforementioned structure would only be for vehicles going east on I-80 or any direction on Richards. A new parking structure would utilize the existing westbound Olive St. exit planned of closure, and it would re-direct – quite physically-separated from the bike path between Pole Line/East and Olive – the cars into a parking lot under the existing rental car facilities – which would be re-established if they desired, and temporarily moved to the other side of Richards. The parking lot would have shuttles and other connections as above to everywhere. Vehicles would exit the structure via new on-ramp to westbound I-80, which is a little close to the Richards off-ramp – true – but I-80 has worse offenders to the east.  A shuttle could using this ramp to bypass Olive entirely. Private vehicles that want to head east would also need to get off at Richards.

          This design is somewhat unorthodox – but I hope not in the formal sense per Caltrans regulations – but by splitting the replacement structure in two it’s much simpler and cheaper. And to get back to the subject at hand: Lincoln 40 residents could have spaces here, but they would be able to access Olive directly.

          With free parking on the highway side of the tracks, the Richards under-crossing congestion can be reduced, and with all the space freed up in Downtown – also in the streets – an accessible, pedestrianized Downtown is more possible, and a pedestrianized Downtown next to I-80 and Davis Depot will be extremely great for business, tax revenue etc and with much traffic removed safe and fun for all members of the family!

          So, there is really no way possible under any reasonable ethics to build private parking directly at Lincoln 40 – with exceptions re: ADA, first responders, etc. We don’t have to name an apartment complex with car parking after a carfree assassinated president along the route of a road named after him but usurped by another – also, relatively-reasonable – Republican president’s namesake, and therefore it’s not a case of “I Like Bike”.

          The only way to conclude this interlude – which you have so graciously attended – is with a single question: “Will Lincoln 40 be the Great Car-Emancipator”?

        3. Todd Edelman

          Addendum Two: The configuration of the Olive St. Parking Structure would bring cars in directly to its lowest level. The street level would have the parking closest to shuttles, ridehailing/taxis, bikes, carshare and normal car rental, plus an additional bike-ped crossing of the train tracks directly to the aforementioned Energy Commons and 2nd St.

          Cars would exit the structure at its east end, a level or two above the entrance. They would then exit onto a long on-ramp to westbound I-80.

          Addendum Three: Energy Commons residents and visitors who approach from the West could be served by a ramp and tunnel that goes under I-80. This would further ease the difficulty in making Energy Commons carfree. Several thousand beds within 10 or 12 min by bike from campus, via – or not via – Downtown. The bike-ped overcrossing has dynamic weather protection (shade in summer, water barrier in spring and winter.)

          Elephant in the room: We have to cover the highway with a kind of hanger-shaped structure. This would reduce noise considerably in the area, of course much more so than improved pavement surfaces, which it will complement. Gas and particle pollution will go down as road vehicles gradually electrify. The entire south-facing side from near the junction with 113 east to just beyond Mace would have solar panels that an expert tells me could generate 22, 500,000 kWh annually. In addition to the funds generated by the solar array ($675,000 to $4,700,000 per year), the Davis Anti-Noise Tunnel would be paid for by developers of Energy Commons, Nishi and anyone who can use the large, more habitable zone next to both sides of the highway, plus UC Davis.

  1. Ron

    “The EIR should include an on campus location as an alternative.”

    I agree.  Also, I attended an earlier council meeting, in which this alternative was specifically eliminated from inclusion in the Sterling EIR, as initiated by one of the council members. That council member specifically wanted to include a Woodland alternative instead (which would presumably “prove” that denial of the application would result in a motor vehicle commute).

  2. Howard P

    Sidebar:  is it just me, but forgetting size/uses, is the ‘footprint’ of Lincoln 40 pretty much a mirror image of Nishi?

    Coincidental irony…

  3. Greg Rowe

    I agree with Colin that an on-campus alternative of at least 5 stories of housing should be included in the alternatives. It makes no sense for the City to entertain applications for apartments of 5 floors of living space when UCD has consistently refused to build anything over 4 floors (and the first floor is often comprised of commercial space, yielding a net of only 3 floors of student housing). In addition, I suggest that at least one of the alternatives should include an affordable housing component. (Yes, that’s Affordable with a capital ‘A.’)  Unlike the proposed Sterling project, which will include affordable housing, the Lincoln40 developer merely proposes to contribute funds to the City’s affordable housing fund.

    Other than these suggestions, I’ve not studied the Lincoln40 project well enough to have an informed opinion.  I do find it interesting, however, that while UCD continues resisting more housing on campus, the chancellor of UC San Diego (UCSD) told the Board of Regents at its January 25 meeting that he is pushing to provide a 4-year on-campus housing guarantee to all undergrad students by the 2024-25 academic year.  (That’s 3 full years before termination of UCD’s draft LRDP, which only aims to house 40% of the 39,000 students expected on campus by then.)  UCSD has also presented the Regents with proposed plans and a funding request for a new 8-story student apartment building, along with a 15-story apartment structure.  When asked by the Chair of the Regents’ Budget and Capital Strategies Committee why UCSD is not aiming even higher, the reply was that their only limitation is the landing pattern of nearby Miramar Navel Air Station; i.e., 29 floors.  UCD’s continued insistence on going no higher than 4 floors–and the admission by its planning staff that they’ve never even studied the economics of higher student housing–looks both sad and ludicrous by comparison.

    1. Greg Rowe

      Well, of course, after logging out I noticed an error in my second paragraph.  I meant to state that UCSD (not UCD) recently presented plans for 8 and 15-story on-campus apartment buildings to the Regents.  Wishful thinking on my part that UCD would have done something like that!

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