On Wednesday evening, the Davis Planning Commission will hold a public hearing to receive a presentation on the Draft EIR for the Lincoln40 project. The commission will hear public comments on the Draft EIR as well as provide feedback to staff.
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.
Staff notes that the three-tiered building “would step up in height from Olive Drive.” As they describe, “the first tier (closest to Olive Drive) would be three stories, the second would be four stories, and the third (closest to the Union Pacific Rail Road (UPRR) tracks) would be five stories tall, with a maximum height of 60 feet.
“The development is primarily designed as an off-campus student-housing complex, but the applicant’s project narrative states that the project would be available to qualified students and non-students,” staff writes.
There are currently 24 dwelling units on the site. These consist of ten single-family homes and a 14-unit apartment complex. The proposal would result in a net increase of 106 units over the existing conditions.
The first floor will include: the lobby, manager’s and leasing office, model unit, mailroom, 15 residential units, a game/theater room, multiple lounges and study spaces, a fitness center, a bike shop, indoor bicycle storage, and three restroom facilities.
The remaining floors would contains the remainder of the residential units along with study spaces.
The proposed project “would include a mix of two-bedroom to five-bedroom fully furnished units, each approximately 1,024 to 1,797 sf in size. The proposal would include 473 bedrooms, of which, 235 bedrooms would be designed as double-occupancy rooms resulting in 708 beds. Double-occupancy would not be allowed in any other rooms. It should also be noted that no more than two tenants would be allowed in double-occupancy rooms.”
The proposed project would be leased by the bed and not by the unit. “For each lease, the tenant would be assigned a unit and the tenant’s specific bedroom and given personalized access rights to the common areas, which are pool area, clubhouse, study rooms, secured bike areas and main apartment building.”
In addition to the rental units, the project includes 240 vehicle parking spaces and 708 bicycle parking spaces.
The EIR looks at nine project alternatives. These include: 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 Transportation Consultants 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.
Staff writes: “Public and Commission comments on the Draft EIR will be summarized by staff for inclusion in the Final EIR. There will be no verbatim transcript of the oral comments. Those who wish to have their verbatim comments incorporated in the Final EIR are directed to submit their comments in writing.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting