Back at the December 20, 2016, meeting, the Davis City Council sent a letter to UC Davis to communicate areas of concern regarding the proposed UC Davis Long Range Development Plan (see here). In that letter, the city requested “UC Davis provide for a minimum of 100 percent of the projected enrollment of all new incoming students starting with the 2017 academic year and at least 50 percent of total UC Davis campus student population in the LRDP.”
The city also requested that “UC Davis develop an accompanying construction and financing implementation strategy to ensure the delivery of these units and facilities in a timely manner.”
The sent a follow up letter in March that was presented as an informational item to the city council on the April 4 agenda.
The city has now received, dated April 14, a response letter from Interim Chancellor Ralph Hexter. Staff, following review of the letter, “believes this letter highlights the need for the City to pursue a number of actions to further illustrate and reinforce the prior questions, clarifications, concerns and requests that the City Council has put forward to UC Davis in the last several months regarding the LRDP, which remain largely unanswered.”
Staff recommends a response prepared by both staff and legal counsel that would come back on May 16.
Staff writes, “In light of the response received to the City’s correspondence to date, coupled with the continued forward progression and expected Fall 2017 release of the LRDP Draft EIR, staff believes it is prudent to begin preparation of our own series of analyses of potential impacts of the LRDP on the City. These areas of study and potential impacts include transportation, parks, greenbelts, and City services, as outlined in the City EIR scoping comment letter to UC Davis.”
Staff writes, “Having such studies in hand would enable the City to gain a better understanding of the potential LRDP impacts associated with the Draft EIR once released, allowing for a more thorough analysis and comments.”
Staff writes that “one key area of potential transportation impact includes the Russell Boulevard and Richards/First Street corridors where it will be important to understand how city traffic operations would be impacted if key campus access points, such as First and A, were to be altered. Such studies would also serve as a basis to formulate suggested mitigations and potential impact fee agreements between the City and UC Davis to account for the associated impacts of campus enrollment growth.”
April 14 Letter From Ralph Hexter
Dear Mayor Davis:
I am writing in response to your letter of March 22 requesting “clarity and formal response” on a number of issues related to the UC Davis Long Range Development Plan (LRDP). I have provided specific responses below, and later in this letter, I share my observations about what I see as a breakdown in effective communication between the City and the campus regarding the LRDP.
Following are my specific responses to the questions in your letter of March 22, 2017. A number of the documents referenced herein have previously been provided to the City, but I have attached them once again for your convenience.
First, you request clarity and formal response regarding the “timing and sequence of campus delivery of net new residential and non-residential space vis-à-vis the timing of expected campus enrollment growth.”
- With respect to residential space, I attach “Upcoming UC Davis On-Campus Housing Projects.” This document summarizes the timing and sequence of the first 3800-4000 of the 6200 new on-campus beds that are included in the current draft LRDP. In addition, consistent with our conversation on February 28, I have provided an additional attachment that describes this same information graphically and shows additional potential delivery of our planned housing capacity through 2027-28.
Please note that many factors could affect the timing and sequence of individual residential projects, including but not limited to financial, weather, and/or construction delays. However, the single most critical factor for assuring that all 6200 beds are completed in a timely manner is the approval of the LRDP in March 2018 as called for in our current schedule. Delay in the LRDP approval will result in a delay of the EIR for the 1600-1800 beds at West Village that is included in the draft LRDP and draft LRDP documents. In turn, that would result in delayed delivery of future campus housing projects. We look forward to your support of timely approval of the LRDP next March.
- With respect to non-residential space, I am providing links to our “University of California Capital Financial Plan: 2016-2026” and to the UC Davis Design and Construction Management websites, which together provide detailed information that responds to your request with respect to timing and sequencing of upcoming projects.
Of course, the same uncertainty with regard to unexpected financial, construction or other factors could affect the timing and sequence of these projects as it could with the residential projects.
University of California Financial Plan: 2016-2026: See here
UC Davis Design and Construction Management: http://dcm.ucdavis.edu/projects
Second, you request clarity and formal response regarding “the density/intensity of proposed on-campus housing . . . specifically [your] desire to see greater housing numbers pursued and to gain an understanding of whether UC Davis will pursue greater housing in the LRDP per the City’s requests, and if UC Davis will not do so, to understand the particular business model rationale.”
- We appreciate your interest and have previously responded, in a number of contexts, to your request of December 20, 2016. You made the same request in your January 24, 2017 comments during the EIR scoping period. Our response remains unchanged. Please be assured that we are committed to continuing to examine opportunities for additional housing capacity within our draft LRDP land-use plan during the first stages of the environmental analysis. We continue to explore opportunities for incorporating additional housing capacity within the LRDP land-use plan, and continue to be hopeful that we will identify viable models for creating more housing capacity that will expand accessibility and affordability for students. If we are unable to do so, please be assured that we will share the considerations that informed the decision.
Third, you request clarity and formal response regarding the “definition and clearer understanding of the UC Davis non-residential space needs and where those needs may be accommodated.”
- Our non-residential space needs are clearly defined in the “University of California Capital Financial Plan 2016-2026” and at the UC Davis Design and Construction Management websites at the links provided above. As I responded formally on January 25, 2017 in my reply to your December 20, 2016 letter, “we added land into the draft LRDP, South of Interstate 80 at Old Davis Road, to potentially accommodate such needs, dependent upon demand and financial feasibility.”
- Moreover, being fully aware of your ongoing concerns about property owned and leased by the Regents on behalf of UC Davis, I specifically committed with formality and with clarity that “we will certainly engage with city staff and Councilmembers further on this topic,” to which we have not received a response.
Finally, I would like to make some observations about what I perceive as key issues in the process and structure the City established to assure that we would be open and honest with one another regarding our specific needs and intentions around the LRDP. I was very appreciative of your and the City staff’s engagement with and support of multiple LRDP outreach efforts during the first 15 months or so of the LRDP process starting in October 2015. I was also very gratified last year when the Council established an LRDP subcommittee to focus on this important effort, and I was pleased to assign two of our most knowledgeable leaders as my representatives to your committee in Bob Segar and Marj Dickinson.
However, since December, we have encountered greater difficulty in finding creative ways to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes on shared issues. I firmly believe that you and I, your Council colleagues and City staff, and our UC Davis LRDP team are all people of intelligence and integrity who are fully committed to finding a path to solutions to the difficult challenges that face our shared community. Whether it is the LRDP Subcommittee process that you established, or another structure, perhaps involving sustained, constructive dialogue between our respective staff leadership teams, it is time for a re-set of our interactions around the LRDP.
I would recommend that Bob Segar, Marj Dickinson and City Manager Dirk Brazil be directed to meet before mid-May and return to you and me with a joint recommendation defining principles and objectives for dialogue between the City and the campus for the remainder of the LRDP process. In making this suggestion, I clearly recognize that there well may be matters on which we will have to agree to disagree. That said, I believe equally clearly that we can limit those matters through the dedicated efforts of the talented and committed professionals on each of our teams. And, most importantly, for items where we agree and can chart mutually beneficial outcomes, I see great opportunities to collaborate and create positive planning efforts for the Davis community.
In my letter to you on January 25, 2017, I posed this question which I still believe can serve as a starting point for constructive dialogue for our staff:
How is the college-town character of Davis evolving and what values are important for recognizing that character?
I strongly believe that the college-town character of Davis is a unique and precious attribute, and I am hopeful that our collaborative planning can identify whether stewardship of that character would be possible, useful and rewarding for the Davis community and how it might be most effectively accomplished.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide the clarity and formal responses you had requested, and for considering my observations regarding the importance of ongoing, sustained and genuine communication and dialogue around these important issues. I look forward to your thoughts.
Ralph J. Hexter