Monday Morning Thoughts: Responding to Comments by a Planning Commissioner

On Wednesday of last week, the Davis Planning Commission was tasked with holding a public hearing and taking comments on the Lincoln40 Draft EIR.

The project calls “for demolition of an existing 14-unit apartment complex and ten single-family homes, and the construction of a 249,788-sq. ft., 130-unit multi-family residential building, as well as parking areas, accessory structures, various amenities and site improvements. The project would include a mix of two- to five-bedroom fully furnished units, primarily designed as student housing.”

While the charge of the commission was to evaluate the EIR and hear comments, the discussion ranged from concern about the traffic report (which is a valid concern) to questions about on-site affordable housing, but also there were more general comments about the project itself.

Commissioner Marilee Hanson questioned staff about the findings of the environmentally superior option, which she believed should be the on-campus version.  “Somehow every CEQA analysis we’ve seen come before us, they’ve somehow or other, they managed to not show that the project would not be environmentally superior on campus.”

She said, “I’m getting a little suspicious of all these factors that go in, and these projects that are somehow student dorms end up for some reason – it doesn’t look at (being) advantageous to put them on campus.”

Ms. Hanson then added, “Once again it’s a single use type of project.  We have lots of people that need housing in this town, and if you build traditional apartments then in the future, or even currently, anyone can find those apartments to be useful.  Projects like this and like Sterling and some other ones that are being proposed are taking up all the land in town that is zoned for housing, and they’re being taking up with a design that will never be workable or attractive to working families, people with children, and small households…

“We don’t have a lot of land left in town for multi-family housing and I’m very concerned that every single site is apparently being used for dorms.  I think dorms are a great thing, but the really best place for dorms is on campus.  I do think we’re enabling the university by constantly approving these projects when I really don’t see the university doing much.  They will continue to not do much, if we continue to let them get away with it.”

She said she is very sympathetic to students, she went to Berkeley at a time when UC Berkeley was not building enough housing for students, “but UC Davis is doing worse than the other campuses.”

Here are some of my thoughts in response to her comments.

First, while there is no doubt that there are some challenges with the Richards-Olive Drive intersection, if you were going to look at vacant parcels on a map and try to figure out the best place to put student housing within the city of Davis, the Lincoln40 site would no doubt be near the very top of the list.  It is a short walk or bike ride onto campus and it might be closer to the eastern portions of the campus than alternative sites on campus themselves.

Second, she makes the point that this is a single-use project.  No doubt it is designed for student housing and, while I would not disagree that there are other housing needs in town, it is very clear that student housing tops that list.

Given our 0.2 percent vacancy rate and plans to expand enrollment, that is by far the greatest need.  So to look at a project that fills a portion of our greatest need and to criticize it because it doesn’t accommodate other needs seems to be nitpicking.  There is only so much you can do with a 130-unit project on a relatively small site.

I would argue that trying to be everything to all needs would be less rather than more helpful.

Where I have a greater problem with is what she says next.

Here, to repeat, she argues, “We don’t have a lot of land left in town for multi-family housing and I’m very concerned that every single site is apparently being used for dorms.”

This is a factually incorrect statement.  As far as I am aware, there are only two market rate student housing proposals – Sterling and Lincoln40.  If you look at the other current housing proposals, none of them are market rate student housing.  The only other housing project that has a student component would be the proposal for south Davis across from Playfields Park, which would be affordable-by-design micro units for low-income individuals including students, but not exclusive to students.

So to say that “every single site” is apparently being used for dorms is completely false.

She then states, as pointed out above, “I think dorms are a great thing, but the really best place for dorms is on campus.”

She is entitled to her opinion, but in her capacity as Planning Commissioner, her job is not to weigh in with her opinion, it is to make sure at this point the project complies with CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act).

Further, she adds, as stated above, “I do think we’re enabling the university by constantly approving these projects when I really don’t see the university doing much.  They will continue to not do much, if we continue to let them get away with it.”

Again, in the last 12 years or so, we have approved exactly one market rate student housing project.  If the council approves Lincoln40 – which it has not yet – that would be two.

In the meantime, the university has proposed adding 6200 units on campus.  I have long argued the need to go from 90/40 (90 percent of new students housed on campus and 40 percent of overall students housed on campus) up to 100/50 which would require that about 4000 more units be approved, but it is hard to argue that even 6200 units constitutes “not do(ing) much.”  Should they do more than they have so far?  Absolutely.

The other strange comment is her comparison to her experience at Berkeley in which she said “but UC Davis is doing worse than the other campuses.”  Ironically, the one campus UC Davis is not doing worse than is UC Berkeley, in terms of on-campus housing.

The bottom line for me is this – with student enrollment growth and current housing shortfalls, it will take about 10,000 new student housing units for UC Davis to address current needs and projected growth.  That is a huge number and I see no way that the city can accommodate that.

The university has thus far agreed to build 6200, and that number is a good start but leaves us about 4000 short of our needs.  The city, between Sterling and Lincoln40 if approved, will be accounting for about 1500 beds.

That is hardly enough to let the university off the hook, and in fact it will barely make a dent unless the university follows through on its commitments.  But to characterize the situation as Ms. Hanson has is inaccurate at best.  And worse yet, it is really outside of the purview of the Planning Commission’s charge once again.

—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. Eileen Samitz

    This article is hyper-critical and so out of line. The Lincoln40 project got critical comments because the project and the Draft EIR has plenty of problems. The Vanguard needs to give equal time and space covering the main the source of the student housing problem, which is the serious negligence by UCD to provide it. It is a disservice by UCD to their students, which is also impacting Davis seriously as it is surrounding cities like Woodland and Dixon. UCD teaches sustainable planning but is not practicing it itself. Much higher density housing is needed on-campus and they can and need to build it to fix the problem that they have created.

    UCD is only providing 29% on-campus housing which means they are pushing 71% of their students off campus. That is inexcusable and unacceptable. It is a pathetic defense for the Vanguard to try to say that UCD is not the worst UC in the system regarding the percentage of student housing provided, when it is the second worst. UCD is second only to UC Berkeley in having the least amount of on-campus housing  when UCD is the largest campus with over 5,300 acres and Berkeley is a much smaller campus which is pretty much built out. UCD is a huge embarrassment to the UCD due to their negligence and they need to start owning up to it and start taking action to fix the problem by increasing their on-campus housing plans to be far more than the paltry proposal they have currently.

    The Lincoln40 Draft EIR tries to claim minimal traffic impacts from 708 more students needing to cross Richards, which raised concerns by other members of the Commission. That is going to back up the vehicular traffic along Richards even more due to the significantly increased traffic signal interruptions. In addition, this Draft EIR also makes the ridiculous assumption that the on-campus housing was not a superior alternative primarily because it was not using the Lincoln40 land site. That is completely bogus. The Lincoln40 Draft EIR also made the false assumption that UCD buildings would need to be torn down on campus to provide student housing, which is also bogus.  UCD has plenty of sites on-campus available and they simply need to go much taller than they have been. More than 100 acres of land sites on or near the core campus were identified and submitted as recommended sites to build student housing on during the LRDP update.

    Also, what about the toxic plume which is migrating towards Lincoln40 which was revealed at the Natural Resources Commission and the Planning Commission? The Lincoln40 Draft EIR consultant response was astonishing in that he tried to say that it was not their responsibility to include it in the Draft EIR. Well, whose responsibility is it? Will it be the City’s responsibility if this plume has migrated, or will migrate eventually to the Lincoln40 project if approved?  If so then wouldn’t the City be liable regarding any health impacts that may affect the 708 residents later?

    Finally, the concern is legitimate that most of the market rate multifamily housing proposed so far including Sterling, Lincoln40, the Playfields Park apartments proposed and there is another student housing project proposed at Oxford Circle coming forward. While the Oxford Circle site makes sense to focus on student housing since it is surrounded by student housing right off Russell Blvd., locating more students in south Davis having to cross I-80 daily to get to the campus daily does not make sense. Also converting that same commercial parcel in south Davis to residential loses Davis yet another commercial site needed for revenue.

    What this article does not acknowledge at all, is that rental housing for non-students such as  workers, families can only be provided in the City (i.e. except for a relatively smaller number of faculty and staff housing proposed for West Village for UCD employees only). Only UCD can legally dedicate housing on their campus for students so it would available long-term to students to avoid the competition for rental housing as is currently happening in the City and driving the cost of rental housing up. Far more on-campus housing eliminates this competition for rental housing occurring now in the City between students and non-students. UCD needs to step-up to focus on and build far more on-campus housing than they are proposing. It is also the only way to keep student housing affordable long term which is why the other UC’s are maximizing the amount of on-campus housing now. The other UCs are doing it, and there is no excuse why UCD can’t.

    Meanwhile, UCD continues to try to minimize the amount of on-campus housing with the low densities like at Webster Hall where UCD is squandering this land site by currently tearing down a 3 story dorm to replace it with only 4 stories. Meanwhile, a private company is going to build student housing next to it which will be at least 5- stories. Why isn’t UCD going higher at Webster Hall? If a private business which had t buy the land and is paying City processing fees and permits can do it, why can’t UCD which does not have those costs?

    Also, why isn’t the Vanguard pointing out relevant  issues like this?  With UCD already pushing 71% of their student off campus, what this Vanguard article basically is saying is that even more students should be pushed off campus. The issue is that UCD has plenty available land and needs to provide much higher density housing on-campus with the 50/100 plan as a minimum and that is the only way that this student housing need can truly be resolved.



    1. David Greenwald

      “The Vanguard needs to give equal time and space covering the main the source of the student housing problem, which is the serious negligence by UCD to provide it.”

      We have many times.  If you wish, I can turn this post into an article published tomorrow.

      1. Alan Miller

        OK, that doesn’t make any sense.  My hilarious comment was removed, and BP commented on it, and I commented on BP’s comment, but it looks like we are commenting on DG’s post.  Why isn’t the poster left in and [comment deleted] put in, so at least there is some logic as to why our posts are left hanging like balls on a goat.

    2. Jim Hoch

      “The Vanguard needs to give equal time and space covering the main the source of the student housing problem, which is the serious negligence by UCD to provide it”

      How come The Vanguard never mentions building housing at UCD? Any thoughts on that Eileen?

  2. Eileen Samitz


    It has been quite a while since the Vanguard wrote anything pointing out the need for UCD to provide the needed on campus housing. Even if this is mentioned in an article, such as the need for the 50/100 plan, then you quickly disqualify it with doubts. Instead, the Vanguard articles imply repeatedly that the City needs to fix the problem for UCD which is ridiculous.  Jim Hoch’s comment is indicative how I am not the only one getting this impression from the Vanguard and I have heard others complain about it as well.

    So if you are going to re-state the problem about student housing so repeatedly, try to have some balance by also re-stating that UCD needs to step up.  There is not enough land in the City to provide more than 7,000 beds (i.e. the backlog needed as well as their new LRDP student housing needs) that UCD needs for its own growth, nor should the City be obligated to provide that massive number of beds, particularly when UCD has over 5,300 acres and is currently pushing over 71% of their students off campus.

    UCD’s inaction is irresponsible and they need to stop stalling and take action to fix this mess that they have created by years of negligence to provide the needed on-campus student housing.


      1. Eileen Samitz

        But, there have been plenty of Vanguard articles implying that the City needs to fix the housing problems that UCD is causing, which is completely counter-productive.

  3. Greg Rowe


    I wish to respectfully disagree with several of David’s comments.  In particular, I take issue with the following statement in his My View commentary regarding statements made by one of the Planning Commissioners:


    “She is entitled to her opinion, but in her capacity as Planning Commissioner, her job is not to weigh in with her opinion, it is to make sure at this point the project complies with CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act).”


    My comments come from this perspective. First, I served 5 years on the City of Chula Vista Resource Conservation Commission (RCC), the latter 2 as chairman. This commission reviewed and commented on Draft EIRs and made recommendations to the Planning Commission on those documents.  This was 1984-89, a period when Chula Vista was annexing thousands of acres for new home developments.  In deliberating DEIRs, the RCC never hesitated to question city staff and project proponents about the basic components, features and attributes of the proposed project itself.  We always felt totally free to question the basic assumptions of a project; after all, an EIR that simply analyzes a project that is fundamentally ill-conceived and poorly defined will, by definition, be a deficient EIR.  As guardians of the public trust, we always felt it our duty to question the basic tenets of a project. The city’s planning commission likewise never hesitated to question a project when it considered the RCC’s EIR recommendations. (One such planning commissioner did such a good job asking probing questions about projects and EIRs that she went on to win election as Mayor by a comfortable margin.) 


    Second, I worked for 3 years in Oakland on economic development and redevelopment projects, along with airport and seaport development projects carried out by the Port of Oakland.  In this capacity I attended and made comments at many meetings of the Oakland Planning Commission and the Port Commissioners.  During my time in Oakland, both bodies reviewed and passed judgment on literally dozens of DEIRs.  When discussing DEIRS, the members of those bodies never hesitated to question the fundamental merits of a project.  That was their right and duty; otherwise, a planning commission would be little more than an EIR rubber stamp.  (Keep in mind that an EIR consultant can only analyze the project they’ve been handed.  If the project has what the planning commissioners feel are fundamental flaws, it is totally within their purview to raise concerns.) Besides, it’s never a good idea to simply assume that an EIR prepared by a consulting firm is a factually correct document.  During my previous staff positions I had to correct many incorrect statements, findings and conclusions made by EIR consultants.   


    Third, between 1999 and 2002 I was a Redevelopment Manager with the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency. In this position I helped process redevelopment plans and their attendant DEIRS. Those documents were reviewed first by the Sacramento Redevelopment Commission, then the City Planning Commission, and then the City Council.  During those 3 years I never saw a member of either commission hesitate to question the fundamental merits and viability of a proposed project while discussing the adequacy of a DEIR. 


    Last, between 2002 and 2015 I was Senior Environmental Analyst for the Sacramento County Department of Airports.  In this capacity I helped prepare both CEQA and NEPA documents for dozens of projects at 4 airports.  The CEQA documents always had to be certified by the Board of Supervisors, who likewise never hesitated to voice doubts and criticisms about a project’s fundamental underpinnings.  Also, as required by the FAA, I reviewed and commented on literally dozens of EIRs for proposed projects within a 5-mile radius of the County’s 4 airports.  Those comments were typically submitted to the City of Sacramento Planning Commission and/or the County Planning Commission.  And, similar to my previous experience elsewhere, I never witnessed hesitancy on the part of those commissions to question the basic assumptions of a project while reviewing and discussing the DEIR prepared for the project.


    The conclusion I believe can be drawn from this is that based on the many years I worked with CEQA, city planning commissions and their county counterparts, it is quite normal and acceptable for a commissioner to question the basic need for and acceptability of a project.  In fact, in my view it is a commissioner’s duty to do so.  I am not aware of any legal constraint on commissioner’s duties that ties their hands or limits their review of a DEIR to simply determining whether the document is “adequate and complete.”


    With respect to David’s observation that student housing is potentially the greatest housing need in Davis, I would contend that the greatest need is affordable and market rate housing for families, not large complexes having a configuration that can only accommodate students. I supported Sterling for a variety of reasons, but I think a reasonable person—including a planning commissioner—could with justification argue that approving one such project during a 12-month span is enough.  It could likewise be reasonably argued that perhaps the City should defer approving Lincoln40 and similar projects until the new UCD Chancellor reveals his position on more student housing on the UCD campus, and until the contents on the DEIR for the Long Range Development Plan are known.  


    1. David Greenwald

      ” It could likewise be reasonably argued that perhaps the City should defer approving Lincoln40 and similar projects until the new UCD Chancellor reveals his position on more student housing on the UCD campus, and until the contents on the DEIR for the Long Range Development Plan are known. ”

      One of the flaws with the university plan is that they are adding students by the thousands but not planning to have the new housing come online until 2020, which I assume means 2021 or even 2022. As such it actually makes a lot of sense for the city to put some housing online before them. It’s not like there is a huge number of projects coming down the queue, the city has Sterling and Lincoln40 and that’s really it. One of the problems I had with the Commissioner’s comments were that they were just not accurate.

      1. Eileen Samitz


        It would make far more sense for UCD to slow down its admissions, particularly since they have admitted more non-residents this year than any other UC. Yet, they don’t have the classroom space, nor the faculty and staff to handle this deluge of new students on top of not having the on-campus housing needed.

        This is not competent planning by UCD, it is an absence of planning and competency. The students have been complaining for years that the campus is already over-crowded. So instead of correcting that problem, what does UCD do? They exacerbate the problem with adding even more students rather than putting in the infrastructure needed first. The UCD students cannot even get to the classes they need to graduate in four years, which backs up the whole system, causing more over-crowding on campus, more impacts on housing and  ore expense to the students with the very expensive tuition they are charged.

        UCD needs to start planning better and stop creating all the chaos they are causing. They need to reach out to other campuses and learn how they are achieving such success with providing the on-campus housing they are producing instead of stalling and making excuses.

        1. David Greenwald

          While I don’t dispute this from a planning standpoint, the fact remains is that we need housing now even if UCD doesn’t add another student in the next five years.  UCD will not be opening new housing until 2020, which again, I assume means more like 2021 or 2022, therefore the city adding 1500 beds or so at Sterling and Lincoln seems like a wise course of action.  It’s not enough housing to accommodate the avoidance of 100-50, but it is enough housing to ease a little bit of the desperate crunch.  It’s far from ideal, but the alternative is far worse.  We need realistic approaches, not wishful thinking at this point – it is a crisis.

        2. Eileen Samitz


          The rental housing situation does not get resolved with building only single-room-occupancy rental housing designed exclusively for students, with nothing for the market rate non-students. Plus these mega-dorm projects like Sterling and Lincoln40 are expensive, luxury student housing, not affordable, so how does that help the students? Further, these mega-dorms are just being occupied by students, which is not freeing up any housing for non-students. It just reduces the incentives for UCD to build the significant amount of housing needed on-campus, and at best might lessen some of the crowded housing conditions for the students.

          The most effective solution is for UCD to create a far greater amount of student housing on campus than UCD’s LRDP is proposing to resolve the problem.

        3. Eileen Samitz


          The need for more student student housing is more so on-campus where it can be dedicated for students only, reduces commuting and other impacts on the City and the environment, and can be kept affordable long-term. None of that can be accomplished off-campus.

          It does not help to enable UCD to continue ignoring their responsibilities to provide the needed on campus housing for their own growth. It is ridiculous that UCD is pushing at least 71% of their 35,000+ student population off campus. That is the issue that needs to be addressed rather than continuing to enable UCD to be irresponsible.

        4. David Greenwald

          You seem to be contradicting yourself here Eileen.  You note that on-campus can be “dedicated to students only” and yet complain that Lincoln40 is structured to only accommodate students.

          As you know, there are actually more problems with affordability on campus as off campus.

          And of course, Lincoln40 ends up being just as close to much of campus as students would be at West Village.

          Bottom line, for me, 1500 beds will not allow the university to avoid the issue of 100/50, I support 100/50, but the city is in the position to offer more immediate help here and should jump at the opportunity.

        5. Eileen Samitz


          No, actually there is no contradiction. My point is that the best place for student housing is on-campus because only there can it legally can be dedicated and reserved for students. Adequate on-campus student housing eliminates the need for competition between students and non-students for rental housing, which is a situation that exists off-campus, but not on-campus. So the more on-campus housing the better since it reduces pressure on the rental housing off campus, and helps resolve the housing problem for all. I explained this in an earlier post.

          An added benefit is that is far more sustainable planning reducing commuting needs, and therefore reducing traffic and circulation impacts as well as energy use reducing our carbon footprint.

          Furthermore, it is the long-term affordability for students that can only be accomplished on-campus which is of utmost importance, since affordability of market rate housing off-campus cannot be controlled long-term.

          1. Don Shor

            If UCD stays at 90/40, we need ______ # of units additional in town. If UCD goes to 100/50, we need _____ # units additional in town. Neither of those #’s is zero. Both of them are greater than the sum of Sterling + Lincoln. So in either case, more rental units are needed in town.
            There seems to be little likelihood that UCD will go to 100/50.
            Even if it does, the enrollment increase will precede the increase in housing.
            Additional units at Sterling and Lincoln will reduce the current housing problem, will probably increase the apartment vacancy rate making for a marginally healthier rental market. No, rents will not go down. Yes, the new units will be higher-priced than existing units anywhere — except maybe compared to units built on campus, which they seem to be putting at the highest end of the market pricing.
            It’s all terrible planning, very unjust, could be a lot denser with higher buildings, etc. Saying that is not making it so. UCD has not budged from the 90/40 rate in any meaningful way. Delaying housing construction in town because of anger about UCD’s failure to provide more housing will not make the situation any better for anyone, nor will it somehow enhance the likelihood that UCD will change their announced housing plans.
            Lincoln 40 should go through the planning process now without regard to what we all wish UCD would do. The project stands on its own merits. I don’t really understand the point of including a campus-only project in the EIR, since the city only has purview over projects in its own boundaries. You might just as well ask that a Dixon project be included in the EIR.

        6. David Greenwald

          There is no dispute for me and that on-campus housing is a good location for student housing. However given our immediate needs and the timeline having a few options in town is better than having no options in town at this time.

        7. Eileen Samitz


          I would have to say that it starts with accessing what the options are, where they are located, if it is compatible with its surroundings (including its size and mass), and what impacts and costs to the City that each option presents. It makes no sense, and it is not in the best interest of the City to blindly approving any multi-family project no matter what the impacts are on the community, particularly as UCD continues to drag out planning enough housing on campus.

          Also, enabling UCD to continue stalling and allowing them to continue deflecting their housing needs onto the City and surrounding cities is completely counterproductive.

          Finally, it also does not help to allow UCD’s current opportunistic relationship towards the City to go without calling out UCD on it.



        8. David Greenwald

          Eileen – I would argue this whole narrative by you is inaccurate.

          First, UC Davis has been called out.  I’ve personally called them out in numerous columns.  The city has called them out.  the county has called them.  So to suggest even for a moment that no one has calle them out is grossly inaccurate.

          Second, the idea that the city has blindly approved multi-family housing is also grossly inaccurate.  So far they have approved one project in what 15 years?  If they approve Lincoln40 it will be two.  THERE ARE NO OTHER PROPOSALS FOR STUDENT HOUSING.

          So third, the idea that UC Davis is deflecting housing needs elsewhere – the result is really hitting students disproportionately because UC Davis has not built housing and neither has the city.  The result is a predatory situation.

        9. Eileen Samitz


          I would have to say that your article is not only hyper-critical of legitimate comments and concerns raised when asked for input regarding Lincoln40, but that you have inaccuracies in your posts regarding this article. Beyond Sterling and Lincoln40 there are two additional projects in the wings focused on student housing. One is in south Davis near Playfields Park, which makes no sense to put student housing in south Davis where these students would need to get across I-80 daily to get to UCD. Does anyone think we need more traffic at Richards Blvd.? The other project is at Oxford Circle which does make sense due to its location being near Russell Blvd. right across the street from UCD.

          I would disagree with you that the City has not provided UCD with enough student housing since Davis is providing 71% of the student housing for UCD. UCD is only providing 29%. So I find it astonishing that you are trying to argue that the City has not done enough. I am not saying that the City should not try to provide any more multi-rental housing but it should not be exclusively designed for students. It needs to be multi-family housing that anyone can reside in, student or non-student.

          And on the Vanguard calling out UCD, your articles talk less and less about calling out UCD, and more and more about implying that the City needing to fix the problem UCD has created.

          1. David Greenwald

            Here is the description of the one at Playfields: “Four types of affordable housing are proposed: Affordable-by-Design Micro Units, Low-income individuals attending UCD, Low-income Families and Student Affinity Groups.”

            So there is some students envisioned, but it is not a student housing project nor would I say its “focused on student housing.”

            “And on the Vanguard calling out UCD, your articles talk less and less about calling out UCD, and more and more about implying that the City needing to fix the problem UCD has created.”

            Well part of that is because this is an article about the PLanning Commission on LIncoln40 rather than an article on UC Davis.

    2. Howard P

       I would contend that the greatest need is affordable and market rate housing for {pick your group [my modification]], not large complexes

      The current reality is, current “market rate” is what the market will bear, and would be largely unaffordable to most students and young families, and seniors who are not ‘ down moving’…

      “Affordable” as defined in ordinances in Davis has no relation to ‘market’… has to do with household income.

      Any ‘affordable’ housing in Davis will probably be an older rental, 90% likely to be a MF in a large complex.  Or a house in Davis where the mortgage has been paid, and turned into a ‘de facto dorm’.

      Or something like Slater’s Court when there is an opening… new “affordable units” will either need to be subsidized, and/or will go market-rate soon after due to ‘market’ and lack of mechanism (that is real) for enforcement.

      Back in the late 30’s/early 50’s, affordable housing for students in ‘university towns’ was ‘rooms for rent’… empty (or, semi-empty) nesters who would rent out room(s), with kitchen privileges and/or ‘board’… it worked in State College, PA [my Grandparents did that].  The ‘landlords’ occupied the house, as well… coming out of the Depression, it was a win-win.  Today?

  4. Michael Bisch

    So, in your +30 years in urban planning you’ve concluded that one of the duties of a planning commissioner is to independently establish and enforce quotas? I’m looking here at the duties of the PC on the City’s website and I’m just not seeing it.  What am I missing?



    And you also appear to be arguing that a duty of individual planning commissioners is to create policy. Yet, the website says the PC is to make policy recommendations. There seems to be a lot of confusion about the duties of the PC. Given the tremendous gap in expectations between the PC and CC, perhaps it’s time the two bodies held a workshop to find common ground. The community is clearly not well-served by the current condition.

    1. Howard P

      Michael… P Comms have the right to express opinions… but NOT to direct policy, nor interfere with factual information, unless they have actual knowledge to the contrary.

      Certain PComms act is if they are the artists, not the critics [only acceptable in the good sense of the word… to challenge others, but NOT to impose their ‘view’… same with some of the posters…]

      Am in 60% agreement on his drift in this… 89% regarding this particular commissioner…


      1. Howard P

        BTW… strongly suspect one cannot constructively espouse [within CEQA parameters] an “environmentally superior alternative” in an EIR when there is no real ‘control’ by the local agency… out of “scope”… this EIR is not a joint agency document…

        “alternatives” should be within the realm of ‘control/choices’…

  5. Greg Rowe

    The DEIR for Lincoln40 proposes that the Aggressive Transportation and Parking Demand Management Alternative is the “Environmentally Superior Alternative.”  Here’s some of the problems I have with this alternative.

    This alternative assumes that no more than 50 resident permit parking spaces would be provided. It also assumes there would be no on-site visitor parking, with visitors required to park off-site on the street.  These are entirely unrealistic assumptions that are fraught with easily discernable negative consequences.  Although the project’s proximity to campus may substantially eliminate the need for students to commute to campus using private motor vehicles, it is unrealistic to assume that most residents would not want to bring their personal vehicle to Davis for use in traveling on family visits, commuting to off-campus jobs, attending cultural and entertainment events outside Davis, etc.   Given the project’s anticipated 708 occupants, the project owner would need to provide a very large number of shared electric cars to meet such travel demands. The space needed for parking such a fleet of electric vehicles could in fact completely negate any of the project proponent’s assumptions of reduced parking demand.    
     Visitor Parking:  Multiple simultaneous parties and similar activities could attract a substantial number of visitors to the Lincoln40 site, thereby completely overwhelming the available number of on-street parking spaces.  Visitors would most likely attempt to park their vehicles at adjacent housing projects and businesses. Vehicle Idling and driving at slow speeds while drivers search for a parking space could also offset any anticipated reduction in criteria air pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions.   
     The Failure of Transportation and Parking Demand Management:   This alternative makes the dubious assumption that simply reducing the number of parking spaces available to residents will compel those individuals to voluntarily give up their cars. It also presumes that innate human behavior can be altered through social engineering.  In a similar fashion (as noted on page 4.11-39 [Transportation and Circulation], the project proposes using a combination of parking space reduction and monthly parking fees “…to reduce parking demand and the associated number of vehicles and vehicle trips to and from the project.”  These are poor and unproven assumptions upon which to base projections of future vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian congestion at the intersection of Olive Drive, Richards Boulevard and Interstate 80.
    As I stated in my January 6, 2016 comment letter to the Davis Planning Commission regarding the Transportation Demand Management (TDM) provisions of the proposed Nishi project, “TDM programs have been advocated and implemented with varying degrees of success since…the mid-1970s. Fundamental to TDM programs is the assumption that it is possible to alter an individual’s behavior by limiting their ability to drive and park a vehicle at a time and place of their choosing.  Such forms of ‘social engineering’ disregard the innate desire of most people to ‘vote with their feet’ by selecting the transportation mode most convenient and reflective of their perceived needs.   Moreover, TDM programs and the Transportation Management Associations (TMAs) created to implement them impose an additional cost and administrative burden on employers (and likewise apartment managers), which some companies find unacceptable.  In practice, there is seldom an enforcement mechanism that would enable a TMA or a jurisdiction such as the City to compel individuals to commute by bicycle, carpool or vanpool.”
    Another example of how using supply or pricing programs to discourage parking often fails to achieve desired results is easily observable at the UCD Medical Center in Sacramento. Rather than paying for the high cost of parking, many hospital staff instead park in the neighborhoods surrounding Sacramento High School and walk to their jobs on Sherman Avenue and other adjacent streets.  
     Net Vehicle Trips Added to Roadway Will Be Higher Than Portrayed by the DEIR:  Table 4.11-15 and accompanying text on page 4.11-41 summarize traffic studies purporting to show that the project will cause a minimal increase in traffic above existing conditions at the Olive Drive-Richards Blvd. intersection; an increase of 734 daily trips, 33 AM peak hour and 45 PM peak hour.  It appears, however, that the traffic analysis which produced these results did not take into account the tremendous projected increase in UCD students, faculty and staff assumed in UCD’s draft Long Range Development Plan (LRDP).  According to the Notice of Preparation (NOP) issued for the draft LRDP on January 4, 2017, the following increases are anticipated between the base year of 2015-16 and 2027-28:  (1) enrollment, 6,337; (2) Employment, 2,319; (3) Los Rios Community College, 625; (4) Dependents of UC residents, 1,444; Non-UC Employees, 305. 
    These categories in combination amount to more than 11,000 people who may potentially be commuting to UCD by 2027-28.  Many of these people will no doubt drive to UCD from locales east of Davis (Sacramento, West Sacramento).  Of those drivers, a sizeable proportion will exit I-80 at the Richards Boulevard offramp, putting them in direct conflict with the increased number of students who will be commuting to campus from the project site by vehicle, bike or as pedestrians.  (The number of students living in West Sacramento and commuting by vehicle to UCD is already substantial, according to Yolo County District 1 Supervisor Oscar Villegas.) Absent consideration of the impact of UCD’s expected growth pursuant to the draft LDRP, the DEIR’s conclusion that the project’s anticipated traffic impacts are likely to be less than significant are highly questionable.


  6. Ron

    Howard:  “alternatives” should be within the realm of ‘control/choices’…

    I believe that one of the “alternatives” for Sterling was in WOODLAND!  In fact, I was at the hearing when one of the Davis city council members purposefully “substituted” an on-campus alternative, for one in Woodland. How in the heck is Woodland within the “realm” of control, for Davis?

    Thanks, Marilee. If you’re reading this, don’t let these guys get to you.


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