Draft EIR Release for Lincoln40

The city has released the Draft EIR for the Lincoln40 apartment project on Olive Drive.  The comment period will be open until August 2.

The project proposed for Olive Drive is an infill project that would demolish existing apartments and ten single-family homes to build a nearly 250,000-square-foot multi-family residential apartment building that will be five stories high with a maximum height of 60 feet.

The proposed project would include a total of 130 rental units and will be designed specifically as off-campus student housing.  The project is expected to add 708 bedrooms and provide student housing in a market that currently has a 0.2 percent vacancy rate according to 2015 and 2016 UC Davis Housing Studies.

The EIR looks at nine project alternatives.  These includes: No Project Alternative; Existing Gateway/Olive Drive Specific Plan Alternative; Conventional Apartments Alternative; Reduced Density
Student Apartments Alternative; Aggressive Transportation and Parking Demand Management Alternative; Mixed-Use Alternative; Off-Site (3820 Chiles Road) Alternative; Off-Site Woodland Alternative; and Off-Site UC Davis On-Campus Alternative.

“An EIR is required to identify the environmentally superior alternative from among the range of reasonable alternatives that are evaluated,” the consultants write.

They find, “All of the significant impacts identified for the proposed project would not occur or would be fewer under the No Project Alternative.”  The consultants therefore find that “the No Project Alternative would be considered the environmentally superior alternative.” However, the No Project Alternative also fails to meet any of the identified project goals.

In addition, they write that “the Existing Gateway/Olive Drive Specific Plan Alternative would reduce the majority of significant impacts identified for the proposed project compared to the remaining project alternatives.”

However, “given that a ‘no project’ alternative shall not be selected as the environmentally superior alternative, neither the No Project Alternative nor the Existing Gateway/Olive Drive Specific Plan Alternative (i.e, a variation of the no project alternative) may be chosen as the environmentally superior alternative, and the environmentally superior alternative among the other alternatives should be chosen.”

They find that the Aggressive Transportation and Parking Demand Alternative would “more clearly result in reduced on-site disturbance area” and conclude that it would be the environmentally superior alternative to the proposed project.

The EIR notes that there are areas of controversy identified in the Notice of Preparation (NOP) comments from September 15.  These include: impeding natural views, air quality, open space retention, affordable housing, removal of trees, impact on cork oaks, impact on multimodal travel demand, as well as connectivity issues between the project and Downtown Davis.

One of the big issues is expected to be traffic impacts from the project.  The traffic study looked at several areas including the Richards Boulevard and Olive Drive intersection and the I-80 westbound and eastbound ramps.

The EIR notes: “Vehicle turning movement counts were collected at the study intersections in May 2016, during the AM peak period (7 AM to 9 AM) and PM peak period (4 PM to 6 PM), when schools, including UC Davis, were in session.”

They found, “The study intersections currently operate at LOS D or better during AM and PM peak hours and the study freeway ramp intersections currently operate at LOS E or better during the AM and PM peak hours.”

The EIR notes, “The Gateway/Olive Drive Specific Plan was amended in 2016 as part of the Nishi Gateway planning entitlements. Although the Nishi development was denied by the voters in June 2016, the amendments to the Specific Plan continue to be in effect.”

The Davis General Plan “calls for widening and capacity and safety improvements to the Richards Boulevard corridor and underpass. The improvements are necessary for the roadway to operate at acceptable levels of service.”

They note, “Richards Boulevard shall be improved to accommodate vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle traffic consistent with the Davis General Plan and the ultimate final design determined through the Richards Corridor EIR process.”

They further note, “All improvements to the intersection of Richards Boulevard and Olive Drive shall recognize the importance of the intersection as a gateway to Davis. Use of paver materials and extensive use of landscaping shall be a high priority.”

There are also safety concerns and there is a plan at this point to close the Olive Drive off-ramp.  “City staff and Safety Advisory Commission shall identify applicable traffic calming measures to slow traffic exiting I-80…  The Olive Drive corridor needs to be reviewed immediately and traffic calming implemented.”

Fehr & Peers found that the impact of the existing condition plus the project on peak hour intersections is “less than significant.”  They write, “While the LOS grade does not change, additional delay occurs at Richards Boulevard/Olive Drive during the PM peak hour, which operates at LOS D, generally due to the increase in westbound vehicle and bicycle traffic.

“LOS E is acceptable throughout the City of Davis and, so long as a proposed project does not result in a 5 percent increase in delay, LOS F is considered acceptable for all study intersections. Because all study intersections would operate at LOS E or better, the project would have a less-than-significant impact to the study intersections.”

The full draft EIR is available at http://cityofdavis.org/city-hall/community-development-and-sustainability/test-development-projects/lincoln-40-apartments.

—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. Todd Edelman

    What happens to current residents of this location?

    Do we fully understand that LOS E describes a situation where vehicles are moving, but slowly and sometimes stop and start, polluting with exhaust more than tire-surface or wind noise? It’s a horror we allow? It’s nuts. All transportation vehicles should move as cleanly and fast as they can in the particular environment: This means that bicycles should be able to maintain a speed of about 15 mph, and also that motor vehicles should not exceed the minimum revs possible in their highest gear, but also with a maximum amount of tyre-surface noise and wind noise allowed. Outside of extraordinary events such as emergencies, collisions and construction, congestion should be illegal. The City of Davis is no longer required to use LOS to determine impacts; why does it continue to do so?

    This location has a potentially excellent and safe route to both campus, obviously the train station and Downtown, so it’s good for students.

    One bathroom-per-bed is a crazy waste of space, even more so during the current housing crisis. With its bike and ped access to campus and Downtown so good, it should have even less parking than is planned. Even if a small number of students don’t cycle or take the bus to school or Downtown, they will still drive outside of town since driving is underpriced. If the east end of Olive connects for the bike to Pole Line and Richards is also made safe and convenient, residents will be able to access shopping and other retail in South Davis fairly easily. The wasted parking lot space should have more greenery.

    OF course nothing should be built here due to its proximity to the I-80 unless its design can mitigate the effects of its gas, particle and noise pollution for its residents and other users. City of Davis policy should require that all buildings within about 1,500 feet of the I-80 have a combination of sealed windows and over-pressuring plus interior oxygen generation and air cleaning. This can be changed if the noise and other pollution from the I-80 can be solved closer to the source and thus mitigated another way, such as the enclosed roof with solar generation I’ve proposed several times in Vanguard commentary.

  2. Dave Hart

    Does it make you EIR wonks feel superior to throw around transportation terms so us EIR kindergartners have to spend time looking stuff up?  Get an editor, for crissakes!  I’m not gonna keep doing this.  LOS = Level of Service (A=freeflow, F=gridlock).  You’re welcome.


    1. Dave Hart

      “LOS E is acceptable throughout the City of Davis and, so long as a proposed project does not result in a 5 percent increase in delay, LOS F is considered acceptable for all study intersections. Because all study intersections would operate at LOS E or better, the project would have a less-than-significant impact to the study intersections.”

      LOS F (gridlock) is considered acceptable for all study intersections??? If this isn’t a typo, I expect Fehr and Peers to do well in the future working for the GOP in convincing us that gutting the ACA by raising premiums and co-pays while simultaneously cutting covered services is considered ‘acceptable’ for all demographic groups.  These guys have a bright future in Washington D.C.  If this isn’t a typo, they should be fired!

      Otherwise, I’m with Todd. LOS E sucks if you, for some good reason, have to drive through this area during commute hours. David, if the LOS F reference is a typo, please remove this comment.

      1. Howard P

        The decision to say level of Service F is OK, was made by the CC years (~ 15 +?) ago, despite advice of staff and consultants then, as they did not want to deal with the need for additional lanes on Covell, F, but still wanted to approve the GP and CASP. That is the history.

        Nice try with the analogy with the ACA, though… very creative… and more than a bit weird.

        1. Dave Hart

          Maybe I don’t understand the term “gridlock”.  Isn’t that about as bad as traffic gets?  Like stopped and not moving for an indefinite period?  That is a recipe for going backward in terms of traffic flow from a condition of long waits.  It’s unacceptable no less than going backward to a state of even worse health care access than before the ACA legislation…I think it’s a good analogy.  Unfortunately. It’s 1984 creepy speak where white is black, good is bad, gridlock is acceptable and no or reduced healthcare is good for “those people”.

          [moderator] No discussions about national politics in threads about local issues, please.

        2. Dave Hart

          Okay.  My bad…got caught up in reality.  I would eliminate that part of the comment if your page would let me edit my own comments after the initial time limit.  I’m very sorry if I hurt anyone’s feelings out there.

      2. Howard P

        Guess you have a serious problem with the current General Plan:


        See page 25 for LOS standards for intersections.

        These are the standards that the staff and consultants HAVE to use for the EIR, despite what their professional or personal views are.

        [in the 1986 GP, the standards for arterial streets was C for new development, D in areas of existing development/facilities.]

        1. Dave Hart

          I guess I must…just didn’t know it.  Thank you for posting the link Mr. P.  I’ll read it.  But I can’t promise I won’t be righteously indignant.

        2. Dave Hart

          Okay.  I read it.  It says Level F is acceptable at major intersections during peak traffic hours in the Core Area and Richards Blvd./Olive Drive area and anywhere else in the city that the City Council approves.  Intellectually, this seems like insanity to approve the idea of gridlock until one considers the alternative of installing an expressway through the downtown or completely blocking off the Richards underpass to traffic.  Why do I keep remembering the toll arm in Oslo, Norway where you have to swipe your credit card to go into the downtown area? If the Sterling Apartment project is okay, this is a no brainer.

        3. Howard P

          As to being indignant, I care not how you feel about it… I moved to “acceptance” of things I cannot change as to LOS standards, about 10 years ago.  I did try to change/reject it, back then.

          It was ‘citizen-based’, and blessed by PC and CC.

          But, as you eloquently imply, I and others were ‘properly ignored’ because we were/are traffic engineering ‘wonks’… probably made the error of not putting it in pre-school terms, to be understood by the general public.  Our bad.

          BTW, Los F is not “gridlock”… but you will likely not listen to a “wonk” (particularly one who is licensed to practice ‘traffic engineering’)… so will not expend any energy to elaborate.  No point.

        4. Dave Hart

          Howard, that’s one of the biggest problems in this world, people not caring how others feel.  But that’s okay, I forgive you.  In fact, I’m feeling better already after one shot of Angel’s Envy.

          FYI, “Gridlock” for LOS F is what I lifted out of a Caltrans document presumably assembled by a bunch of traffic engineering wonks.

  3. Ron

    Dave Hart:  “It says Level F is acceptable at major intersections during peak traffic hours in the Core Area and Richards Blvd./Olive Drive area and anywhere else in the city that the City Council approves.  Intellectually, this seems like insanity to approve the idea of gridlock until one considers the alternative of installing an expressway through the downtown or completely blocking off the Richards underpass to traffic.”

    Howard:  “I did try to change/reject it, back then.”

    (Seemed worth re-pasting, here.)

    1. Howard P

      No… at this point, it “is what it is”… that was 15 years ago.  Ship has sailed… train has left the station… pick your metaphor.

      Not worth re-pasting..

      1. Ron

        Howard:  Such information is relatively “new” to (most) “non-wonks”.  I recall something similar in the Sterling EIR, as well.

        It’s important for people to understand what this means, even if there’s no “policy change”.

  4. Dave Hart

    I wish we could have a pedestrian/bicycle over-crossing along the west edge of this thing that terminates somewhere in the Amtrak parking lot.  That would be a very cool way for people to access the downtown and make living in this development a lot of fun.  Access to downtown entertainment and other services, food shopping at the Co-op without the need for a car or adding all that much to the Richards traffic.  Can we make ’em pay for that?

    1. Howard P

      Not 100% unless they agree.  Via a development agreement.

      There is a concept known as “nexus”.  Please get a clue as to development law (aka, fifth amendment).  A proportionate share, yes… maybe 10-15%, tops, as an ‘exaction’.  Maybe we can get UCD and DT businesses to pony up the other 85-90%?

      1. Ron

        Howard:  Kind of funny, how the process works.  Developments are “allowed” to create negative impacts (such as Level F, as discussed above).  And yet, when a potential (offsetting/compensating?) benefit is proposed, then the argument that you’re making above can potentially be used.



        1. Howard P

          I make no argument.  I state a fact.

          Every existing trip impacts capacity/quality every bit as much as one more trip would.

          An additional 10,000 residents would have no discernable impact to the status quo… if 10,000 existing residents left.

    2. Howard P

      We can.  Just like Emeryville train depot/multimodal facility.  That facility works quite well.

      All that is required is land, cooperation by various parties, and a whole bunch of money.  “Simple”, no?

      The most logical location is at the end of Hickory, or thereabouts.

        1. Howard P

          And, the devil will be in the details… many “parts” and ‘actors’… but still, why not pursue?  ‘Better to have tried and failed, than never have tried at all…’  Or, something akin to that…

          Am assuming Alan did not have tongue in cheek…

        2. Howard P

          The ‘keys’ will be a “whole bunch of money…”  And cooperation from the developer, UP, other private owners, the City.

          The concept is, in my opinion, DOA if it is all laid at the feet/pocketbooks of the project proponent… UP will have a benefit, from less drive for ‘trespassing’; developer can benefit as an identifiable ‘mitigation’… Slatter’s court owner may well benefit to increased value to the property; City will better serve existing and future residents; other apartment owners on Olive may benefit; smelling like a ‘district’ with an ‘area of benefit’… maybe even downtown businesses…

          If it is laid on the hands (pocketbooks) of any one entity… failure is pretty much assured.  ‘Trust me on this’.

          For full disclosure… suggested this back when the Nishi/Olive drive Specific Plan was being developed, years ago…

  5. Todd Edelman

    LOS can be improved by a lot of things which have nothing to do with increasing moving – or creeping – space for cars. And I see what’s said here about decisions made in Davis, but – again – the state no longer requires LOS-based analysis.  I’m curious how LOS impacts on pollution. It seems clear that LOS F causes the most.

    1. Dave Hart

      It seems to me that Level of Service (LOS) analysis is a good indicator.  It’s quantitative:  how long a driver has to sit at an intersection.  That’s pretty important to a motorist and from it one can probably calculate pollution in tons/day.  The Davis General Plan Transporation Element (GPTE) says an LOS F means >80 seconds at a signalized intersection and >50 seconds at a non-signalized one.  It’s curious to me why the state no longer requires it other than perhaps it’s an expensive parameter to measure.

      I know this thread is about Lincoln 40, but one thing that struck me that was missing from the GPTE under the sections that focused on pedestrians and bicycling is the condition of the surfaces of bike lanes, pedestrian ways and transitions from roads to destinations.  Assuming we all want to be positive and not hurt people’s feelings with fines and penalties all the time, I don’t understand why there is so little mention of the condition of the surfaces that we want people to walk on and ride their bikes on.  If you want to lure people out of their cars, you have to offer something sweeter than the washboard surfaces that are all too prevalent.  The GPTE should focus on pedestrian and bikeway surface smoothness to get people on their bikes or at least keep the old folks from tripping on the uneven surfaces.

      1. Howard P

        Feel free, Dave H, to forward your comments, including those above, to the City, as part of the comment period.

        If you don’t, you lose ‘whiny privileges’.  Throughout the EIR process… at least as far as I’m concerned…

        Put up or…

      2. Mark West

        Apparently, some are moving beyond LOS as the appropriate measure.

        From the interview posted a few days back:

        Jeffrey Tumlin: After it eliminated the urban parking minimum and established maximums, San Francisco has changed its approach to transportation impact analysis for new developments. It no longer looks at intersection level of service but instead looks at how many vehicle trips the project generates, measured largely by parking supply. A giant office building in downtown San Francisco that has zero parking limits, it may generate vehicle trips. But because the parking supply downtown is constrained, any new vehicle trips their project generates may end up displacing existing vehicle trips, so the net impact is zero. If a project wants to build parking in San Francisco, it’s now required to mitigate its impact on traffic by implementing increasingly tough transportation demand management requirements in exchange for the privilege of building parking. Similarly in Mountain View, when the city eliminated its minimums in the office park area, it established a relatively generous maximum at 2.4 spaces per thousand. But if a project is going to build that many parking spaces, it also needs to demonstrate how it’s going to comply with the vehicle trip cap that the city also imposes and ensure that the parking supply matches the intended vehicle trip generation rates.

        Vanguard Post: http://www.davisvanguard.org/2017/06/rethinking-parking/

        Interview: https://www.cnu.org/publicsquare/2017/06/05/great-idea-rethinking-parking

          1. Don Shor

            I really think it’s ok for people to discuss things here without being told to “put up or…”.

        1. Mark West

          I don’t have a problem with Howard’s comment as it reflects a not unreasonable attitude considering all the false information and general whining found in the comment section here. I posted the information in response to the discussion of LOS and not directed at this particular project, so I will neither put up or shut up with regards to this EIR process. It is more relevant to the General Plan update anyway.

    2. Ron

      Mark:  “I don’t have a problem with Howard’s comment as it reflects a not unreasonable attitude considering all the false information and general whining found in the comment section here.”

      For example?

      Also, not sure why (in general) the tone can’t be a little more civil, on the Vanguard. Not looking to blame someone, or be blamed for that.) I viewed Don’s comment in that regard.

  6. Eileen Samitz

    This project is ridiculous in trying to shoe-horn in over 700 students into what will be essential a cul-de-sac if and when Cal Trans shuts off the Olive Drive exit from I-80.  The single-room-occupancy with individual bathrooms per room is a design that does not belong in the City. This type of rental housing with enormous 4- and 5- bedroom apartment “suites” is of no help or use to non-students such as local workers and families needing rental housing.

    Furthermore, these Lincoln40 developers are trying to get away with providing no affordable housing and buying their way out of it with in-lieu fees for luxury student housing. The biggest insult is that they would be displacing the most residents with low incomes and then shoe-horning in an enormous amount of luxury student housing. Then to try to pretend that this expensive student housing would not have significant demand for parking is even more ridiculous. Many of these student will have cars and the parking demand would simply be pushed down the street to neighboring apartment complexes and businesses, which would suffer the impacts.

    Finally the access “improvements” which would be needed are enormous in cost, and since the developer is not willing to pay the entire cost for them, but only a “portion”. What would come with this lemon of a mega-dorm project is major costs to the City to pay for the infrastructure to service it.

    Basically, Lincoln40 is a loser mega-dorm project because 1) it is trying to jam in over 700 students in the already heavily traffic impacted Olive Drive area that can not handle that many additional residents; 2) with its single-room-occupancy mega-suite luxury apartments, which is exclusionary by design, provides no housing for our workers and families; 3) has insufficient parking which would just impact the neighboring apartment complexes and businesses; 4) it eliminates needed low income housing, and 5) creates enormous traffic impacts and would cost Davis taxpayers to subsidize the enormous infrastructure costs it would need.

    1. Howard P

      Am heading down there in a bit, and will take pictures to document (will need help from the VG to figure out how to ‘upload’).

      Already I see discrepancies as to Ms Samitz’s narrative.

      For those who want to understand, in the meantime, I recommend (for those who want knowledge as opposed to rhetoric)…




      Guess, from the first pict, “very low income” folk have much newer, nicer cars than I do.

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