Arguments for and against Nishi

The following are the submitted ballot arguments for and against Nishi.

Argument In Favor Of Measure J

Yes on Measure J – Addresses Housing Crisis

Many students are now forced to commute from other cities. Others crowd into single-family homes around town. Providing new student housing next to campus makes more homes available to everyone.  Student Housing at Nishi also offers a groundbreaking, privately-funded, affordable housing program aiding hundreds of disadvantaged students every year.

Yes on J – Best Location for New Student Housing

The Nishi property is adjacent to campus/downtown. Residents will walk or bike to campus and local businesses – without taking up parking spaces.

Yes on J – Environmental Sustainability

Student Housing at Nishi includes over 13 acres of open space, solar power, Net-Zero energy consumption, and over 2000 bicycle spots.

Yes on J – Less Traffic

The ONLY private vehicle access will be through a new underpass directly to UCD – with no access to Richards Blvd.  Previous commuters can now live car-free.  Less driving means less traffic.

I opposed the Nishi project in 2016 because of traffic concerns, but I support Measure J because these issues have been resolved.”– Sean Raycraft, South Davis Resident

Yes on J – Benefits our City and Schools

This project will generate a one-time benefit of over $11 million in revenue for the City of Davis. Money that can be used for parks, roads and other city needs. Davis Unified School District will see an additional $2 million in one-time funding. The City also estimates almost $2.5 million in additional property taxes every year.

Our City Council and Planning Commission carefully studied this proposal. Both voted unanimously to move the proposal forward.

Student Housing at Nishi means affordable living next to campus, environmental sustainability, economic enrichment, less traffic, a host of benefits for everyone.

Our elected and community leaders, students, environmental activists say Vote Yes on Measure J!

Learn more at www.studenthousingatnishi.com

/S/

Brett Lee, Mayor Pro Tem City of Davis

Sally Albertson, PTA President Davis Senior High School

Sean Raycraft, Union Steward/South Davis Resident

Judith A. Corbett, Environmental Consultant

John Mott-Smith, Environmental Activist


Argument Against Measure J

Two years after Davis voters rejected the Nishi project at the polls, it’s back on the ballot with the same pollution hazards from the adjacent I-80 freeway and railroad, and without the commercial component that was to deliver significant revenue to the City.

The City’s own Environmental Impact Report showed “significant and unavoidable” detrimental health risks based on preliminary data from a nearby site. The conditions are even worse because the City’s report did not include the highly toxic ultra-fine metals from brakes and fuel additives and the soot from diesel trains that has 6 times more carcinogens than diesel truck exhaust. Exposures to these airborne particles are associated with dramatic increases in asthma, permanent loss of lung function, cancer, heart disease, and prenatal developmental problems.

Given the initial, limited air quality measurements, three years ago air quality experts urged the developers to perform measurements at the Nishi site itself over a longer time. Yet, they chose not to.

Additional significant problems:

  • This project will increase traffic congestion on Old Davis Road and First Street to Richards, which is already bottlenecked many times daily.
  • The proposed “affordable housing” program is exclusionary, intended only for students, and to be implemented by the landlord.  This is contrary to the city’s long-standing affordable housing policies.
  • There is still no tax-sharing agreement between the City and Yolo County.
  • The project design will saddle the city with more costs than revenues. That means the rest of the community will subsidize the financial shortfall of this project, imposing costs onto our community.

No one should suffer unnecessary health risks for housing, nor should the community bear unnecessary financial burdens.  Safer student housing can be offered on the UCD campus and elsewhere.

Please Vote No on Nishi – No on Measure J.

www.dcfd.us

/S/

John Troidl, MBA, PhD, Health and Public Health Specialist

Roberta L. Millstein, Commissioner, City of Davis Open Space and Habitat Commission, 2010 to present

Nancy Price, Former Member, City of Davis Planning Commission

Marilee Hanson, Former Vice Chair, City of Davis Planning Commission

Luanna M. Villanueva, Longtime Davis Resident


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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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39 Comments

  1. Don Shor

    This project will increase traffic congestion on Old Davis Road and First Street to Richards

    There is no evidence for this statement.

    The project design will saddle the city with more costs than revenues.

    This is not the conclusion of the F&B Commission.

    1. David Greenwald

      The traffic congestion one is mindboggling – there’s no study showing that, most of the people living in Nishi during the day are going to be students biking or walking to campus, so where is the congestion coming from?

    2. Matt Williams

      Don and David,

      1) — the testimony that FBC Chair Dan Carson made to the Planning Commission was in violation of the provisions of City of Davis Commission Handbook, which requires all commissioners to only represent the commission “with the approval of the full commission.”

      2) — Dan unilaterally took it on himself to speak for the FBC to the Planning Commission on January 24th, conveying an edited, excerpted and misleading account of the FBC deliberations and decisions about Nishi from the January 8th FBC meeting.   He repeated the same edited, excerpted and misleading account to the City Council on February 6th, as well as in a public statement to the Davis Vanguard that was published by the Vanguard on January 14t.

      3) — At the March 12th FBC meeting during Staff Communications, Assistant City Manager Kelly Stachowicz discussed the violation of the Commission Handbook provisions, noted that the City had placed a link to the Commission Handbook prominently on the City website so that everyone would pay attention to it, was updating the Handbook language based on this non-compliance event, and cautioned the FBC not to repeat the mistake.

      4) — In compliance with Kelly’s admonition, the FBC as part of its deliberations on Development Impact Fees the FBC passed a motion approving Dan Carson’s conveying to Council the next night as part of the Lincoln 40 discussion item, a 33-word motion unanimously passed by FBC.  Dan unilaterally chose to expand the FBC’s 33 words into 501 words, and once again never identified the fact that 90% of what he was saying was his own personal opinion rather than the FBC’s actual decision.

      5) — Ray Salomon did indeed “use expenditure estimates that were significantly higher than the ones reflected in the city model.”  The city model used expenditure estimates that were only 75% of what the City currently spends.  Ray’s model used expenditure estimates that were close to, but less than 100% of what the City currently spends.

      6) — EPS in its 2015-2016 model for Nishi commissioned by the City and presented by EPS to both the FBC and the Council … and accepted by both the FBC and Council … also used expenditure estimates that were 100% of what the City then-currently spent.

      7) — When you say “Ray assumed the cost per DUE (dwelling unit equivalent) is $898 for police services and $472 for fire services. The city staff estimate is $475 for police services and $211 for fire services,” you are omitting the fact that the current City taxpayers, residents and businesses are currently paying the $898 for police services and $472 for fire services.  Which begs the following two questions, (A) Why should existing Davisites pay $898 and Nishi pay only $475 for police services? and (B) Why should existing Davisites pay $472 and Nishi pay only $211 for fire services?

      The bottom-line of all the information above is that models are built on assumptions, and all we have to do is look at the condition of Davis’ roads to see what happens if you only spend 75% instead of spending 100%.  You end up with cracked streets and pot holes.  Dan Carson presented to the Planning Commission and Council and to the Vanguard readers his vision for a Davis with more cracks and potholes rather than less.

      JMO

  2. Ron

    It appears that commissioner Salomon’s model for Nishi has been updated to show a cumulative deficit to the city of approximately $6 million, by year 15.  Note that the underlying reasons for this calculation are also included.  However, I understand that this analysis is still not finalized, and is subject to change.

    http://documents.cityofdavis.org/Media/Default/Documents/PDF/CityCouncil/Finance-And-Budget-Commission/Agendas/20180212/Item-7C-Salomon-Alternative-Nishi-Fiscal-Model.pdf

    1. David Greenwald

      I think it’s helpful to understand how Salomon’s model differs from city staff:

      — He assumed lower amounts of taxable sales for students that the city model, although the city model was adjusted to assume much lower sales for students than the general population.

      — He assumed that assessed values of property, upon which the property taxes are levied, would grow more slowly for the first five years of the project than the city model. It assumed 2% growth in assessed value throughout the period, the maximum permitted under Prop. 13.

      — This is the big monetary difference: He used expenditure estimates that were significantly higher than the ones reflected in the city model. For example, in year 5, after buildout of the apartments, his model assumes that costs for city agencies to provide services to Nishi will be just under $1.6 million. The city model assumes they would instead be about $833,000. It is clear from an examination of the spreadsheets that he does not correct for a double-counting of some administrative costs that was corrected in the city staff model. Asa result of this and other technical differences in the estimates, for example, Ray assumed the cost per DUE (dwelling unit equivalent) is $898 for police services and $472 for fire services. The city staff estimate is $475 for police services and $211 for fire services.

      According to Dan Carson in the article published in January: “We carefully considered Ray’s arguments for these numbers, because there is always more than one way to look at the numbers. But the majority opinion was that the city’s estimate were reasonable. For example, Ray’s estimate of sales tax revenues was based on a UC Davis financial aid office document estimating the costs for undergraduate students to attend the campus. City staff numbers were based on what we felt was a more realistic set of numbers from a UC Davis economic study that looked at undergraduate and graduate student spending that suggested much more taxable spending would occur than he assumed.

      “We saw no reason why 2% growth in AV would not occur in the project. As we noted in the comments we adopted as a commission, we believe that the city staff estimates of city service costs are reasonable to use, but actually could be overstated. Notably, Ray’s assumption that city service costs for police would amount to $557,000 after buildout in five years suggests that, at about $150,000 per cop in total compensation costs, we would have to hire 3.7 cops to keep watch on a single apartment complex. We concluded that a lower cost assumption of $300,000 was reasonable to use, while expressing concern that even this number is likely overstated. The EIR for the original Nishi project states that the costs of providing police coverage to a much larger project would be nominal.”

      As I have argued previously and going out 15 years really doesn’t make sense. I would suggest looking at the impact at full buildout and use that as the baseline, because you start conflating development costs with city costs after awhile. I think is Nishi ends up that deeply in the red for the city, city ends up even more deeply in the red and there is really no reason to believe that even though we do have a gap between revenues and ability to for infrastructure.

      1. Matt Williams

        Don and David, as I stated above, you are both using faulty logic and incomplete facts.

        1) — the testimony that FBC Chair Dan Carson made to the Planning Commission was in violation of the provisions of City of Davis Commission Handbook, which requires all commissioners to only represent the commission “with the approval of the full commission.”

        2) — Dan unilaterally took it on himself to speak for the FBC to the Planning Commission on January 24th, conveying an edited, excerpted and misleading account of the FBC deliberations and decisions about Nishi from the January 8th FBC meeting.   He repeated the same edited, excerpted and misleading account to the City Council on February 6th, as well as in a public statement to the Davis Vanguard that was published by the Vanguard on January 14th.

        3) — At the March 12th FBC meeting during Staff Communications, Assistant City Manager Kelly Stachowicz discussed the violation of the Commission Handbook provisions, noted that the City had placed a link to the Commission Handbook prominently on the City website so that everyone would pay attention to it, was updating the Handbook language based on this non-compliance event, and cautioned the FBC not to repeat the mistake.

        4) — In compliance with Kelly’s admonition, the FBC as part of its deliberations on Development Impact Fees the FBC passed a motion approving Dan Carson’s conveying to Council the next night as part of the Lincoln 40 discussion item, a 33-word motion unanimously passed by FBC.  Dan unilaterally chose to expand the FBC’s 33 words into 501 words, and once again never identified the fact that 90% of what he was saying was his own personal opinion rather than the FBC’s actual decision.

        5) — Ray Salomon did indeed “use expenditure estimates that were significantly higher than the ones reflected in the city model.”  The city model used expenditure estimates that were only 75% of what the City currently spends.  Ray’s model used expenditure estimates that were close to, but less than 100% of what the City currently spends.

        6) — EPS in its 2015-2016 model for Nishi commissioned by the City and presented by EPS to both the FBC and the Council … and accepted by both the FBC and Council … also used expenditure estimates that were 100% of what the City then-currently spent.

        7) — When you say “Ray assumed the cost per DUE (dwelling unit equivalent) is $898 for police services and $472 for fire services. The city staff estimate is $475 for police services and $211 for fire services,” you are omitting the fact that the current City taxpayers, residents and businesses are currently paying the $898 for police services and $472 for fire services.  Which begs the following two questions, (A) Why should existing Davisites pay $898 and Nishi pay only $475 for police services? and (B) Why should existing Davisites pay $472 and Nishi pay only $211 for fire services?

        The bottom-line of all the information above is that models are built on assumptions, and all we have to do is look at the condition of Davis’ roads to see what happens if you only spend 75% instead of spending 100%.  You end up with cracked streets and pot holes.  Dan Carson presented to the Planning Commission and Council and to the Vanguard readers his vision for a Davis with more cracks and potholes rather than less.

        JMO

      1. Ron

        It should be noted that the word “cumulative” is somewhat misleading.  To clarify, it appears that the deficit to the city increases for each year, leading to a cumulative (and still-increasing) deficit of $5.6 million by year 15.

        1. Don Shor

          The F&B Commission does not believe that it will cause a deficit.

          We also generally concur with the estimate that annual ongoing revenues and costs for the city from the project would be modestly net positive over time.

        2. Ron

          In other words, I understand that the cumulative deficit by year 15 shown in the Salomon analysis is much higher than the $5.6 million deficit for year 15 (alone).  (One would have to add up the deficit from each year, to calculate the cumulative total deficit to the city.)

          1. Don Shor

            The F&B Commission does not believe that it will cause a deficit.

            We also generally concur with the estimate that annual ongoing revenues and costs for the city from the project would be modestly net positive over time.

          2. David Greenwald

            This is a point that I made earlier: “But I have spent hours going over the model and believe that if Nishi is net negative, that is the least of the city’s problems.”

    2. Ron

      Here’s a link to Matt William’s article (from a few weeks ago), which provides a high-level of overview of the shortcomings of the analysis put forth by the majority on the finance and budget commission.

      As a side note, I understand (from his public comments) that Matt actually supports greater housing density, on the site.  As I mentioned to him, I respect someone who is able to separate out politics, from fiscal analyses.  (That’s the way it should be, regardless of one’s position regarding an issue.)

      http://www.davisvanguard.org/2018/02/nishi-2-0-fair-share-question-day-107-equal-75/

  3. Jeff M

    The NO people routinely lie, and some of the Davis voters routinely buy… it.

    Did you know that Nishi-1 was going to murder Redrum Burger?

    Did you know that Nish-1 would have resulted in more Autism in Davis?

    Did you know that Nishi-1 was a traffic nightmare in disguise?

    Did you know that Nishi-1 was just a bunch of greedy foreigner (non-Davis-residents) developers making obscene profit while destroying all that is great about the city?

    I did not know any of this until the NO people told us so.  And then after they told us so I did my own digging and determined that they were clearly lying.  But then after the NO people won in defeating the measure to approve Nishi-1, I talked to voters I knew about why they voted “no”.   The reasons they gave were the lies of the NO people.

    Which explains why the NO people are again lying about Nishi-2…. albeit an inferior project compared to Nishi-1.   The NO people know that in Davis… with its idiotic Measure R instrument and a general opinion that as one of the most educated little cities on the planet voters will be responsible to understand the details and facts of peripheral development projects and will vote “intelligently”… Davis voters can be frightened into opposing almost any change except that which results from the consequences of inaction.

  4. Jim Frame

    Did you know that Nishi-1 was going to murder Redrum Burger

    I doubt that Redrum Burger would have survived, as the Nishi owners would likely have redeveloped that whole block face.  I don’t think the Redrum business model would support the higher rents attendant upon redevelopment.

    PS I voted for Nishi 1 and intend to vote for Nishi 2.

    1. David Greenwald

      I have to say I’m more disappointed with the loss of Caffe Italia, which I actually ate at frequently. I think I went to Redrum once as a student, probably 20 years ago.

  5. Todd Edelman

    I wrote to City of Davis Staff shortly after the Council voted to send Nishi 2.0 to the “council”, asking for their small-c counseling regarding the possibility – within the baseline features – to cancel the planned 700 private automobile parking spaces (car housing), i.e. to:

    * Decrease impact of travel not to campus, such as the multitude of places where parking cost is anti-socially un-internalized (“free”, or on the cheap), served as always on a robust platter of under-costed energy;

    * Increase the thickness/anti-porosity of the Great Urban Forest that will shield Nishi 2.0 from the linear, loathsome, lying landshark that is I-80, which would – based on mentioned-herein Shor-sharing – fortify its health benefits.

    The Staff person didn’t know the answer.

    As my grandmother Ilona would say: “Annak érdekében, hogy ne “win-win” mindig bűn.” 

    Igen!? Doesn’t this seem like a great idea?

    What’s the non-campus travel like for e.g. Solano Park? I don’t understand why travel-not-to-campus is rarely-mentioned herein – and how – superduh! – similar costs for parking elsewhere as it is campus would remove a sh*t-ton of car traffic from our town. But what’s apparently free-ing for students is the opposite for non-students, or students travelling to non-student places (I live with students, they drive a lot when it’s easy.) It’s mind-a-boggling.

    1. Ken A

      It looks like Matt is mixing up “total property tax” and the amount of that tax that goes to the city.

      If I ask the assessor or the city to “estimate my property tax each year on a $250K condo they will give me the total tax due not the percentage that goes to the “city”.

      If we were voting to add one more condo unit in Davis it would be fair to say the “total” extra property taxes that would be paid each year to the state, county, schools and city.

      P.S. Just because someone has a car and a parking space does not mean they will drive to school or downtown.  I know plenty of kids that live downtown and have cars.  They drive to Tahoe and home to the Bay Area but still walk or ride to school or downtown.

      1. Matt Williams

        Ken,

        There is no confusion on my part.

        There is also no confusion on the part of the City’s new development staff in creating the model they presented to the FBC on January 8th.  Their numbers were crystal clear for each and every one of the 15 years in their model.

        The “confusion” is on the part of the authors of the Ballot Argument.  They apparently don’t know/understand the City’s own numbers.  The actual $187,451 per year the City reports at full build-out is not even close to the “almost $2.5 million per year” the Ballot Statement claims.  It is misrepresentation pure and simple.

        You say that you believe the Ballot Argument is really talking about taxes that go “each year to the state, county, schools and city.” If that was the case, why do they begin the revenue paragraph by saying “… revenue for the city” and then not reset that assumption in the final sentence to reflect the broader reality of state, county, schools and city?  As the City’s own model shows, the City only gets 7.5% of that, with the other 82.5% going elsewhere.

        As Sir Walter Scott once said, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave…when first we practice to deceive.”

  6. Matt Williams

    The Argument in Favor of Measure J is full of half-truths and outright falsehoods.

    Half-truth: “The Nishi property is adjacent to campus/downtown. Residents will walk or bike to campus and local businesses”.  If that statement is true, then why is Nishi providing 700 parking spaces for its residents to drive cars rather than walk?

    Half-truth: “This project will generate a one-time benefit of over $11 million in revenue for the City of Davis.”

    This argument is an $11 million overstatement of benefit to the City. The argument conveniently is silent about the one-time expenses that offset the one-time revenues.  The true “net” one-time revenue impact of Nishi 2.0 is zero dollars because under California Law the amount of Development Impact Fees that a jurisdiction can collect cannot exceed the reasonably estimated amount of incremental development impact costs incurred by the jurisdiction due to the new development.

    Outright Falsehood: “The City also estimates almost $2.5 million in additional property taxes every year.”

    This argument is a $25 million overstatement of the revenue benefit to the City.  The annual Property Taxes in the City’s 15-year financial model for Nishi presented to the Finance and Budget Commission range from a low of $187,451 to a high of $228,502. See table below for year-by-year values. That is more than 10-times lower than the $2.5 million that is being claimed in the Argument in Favor of Measure J.  The graphic below shows the numbers that that Community Development Department model shows for Property Tax Revenue in the model presented to the FBC on January 8th.  The model can be accessed HERE and the Revenues Summary table is on page of that document.

    http://www.davisvanguard.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Item-6B-Fiscal-Model-2017-18-Update-new-model-Nishi-700-units-2200-DUE-Table-21-only.jpg

    All the above points call into question the honesty of the project’s ballot argument.

    1. David Greenwald

      “The Nishi property is adjacent to campus/downtown. Residents will walk or bike to campus and local businesses”. If that statement is true, then why is Nishi providing 700 parking spaces for its residents to drive cars rather than walk?”

      Because people use cars for purposes other than going to downtown or campus. It’s still only providing parking spaces for a third and most likely no one is going to drive onto campus from Nishi.

      1. Matt Williams

        David Greenwald said . . . “most likely no one is going to drive onto campus from Nishi.”

        Strange statement David. Here are two honest questions that it brings to mind.

        How are they going to get their car onto the Nishi site without driving onto campus?  How are they going to get their car off the Nishi site without driving onto campus?

        1. Todd Edelman

           

          most likely no one is going to drive onto campus from Nishi

          Care to make a friendly bet on that?

          Seriously, what’s the justification when there’s a couple of car rental locations 5 min. away by bike, when the other 2/3 don’t have cars, when housing demand is so great – despite the presence or perception of high pollution levels – available places will be taken quickly, when there is carshare, electric-assist bike share and cargo bike share available, not to mention buses, taxis and L/U?

          What’s the justification when the protective greening can be nearly doubled without the 700 spaces, and when shopping-by-car and other travel in town creates so much traffic that it’s not politically-possible to approve something that might increase it in certain locations?

          Is it that we’re so used to providing parking – so accustomed to this entitlement which helps kill millions each year via collision and pollution – that having no parking is some kind of social cruelty?

        2. Keith O

          Is it that we’re so used to providing parking – so accustomed to this entitlement which helps kill millions each year via collision and pollution – that having no parking is some kind of social cruelty?

          Entitlement?  We have paid for parking spaces through taxation and other revenue measures so it’s hardly an entitlement.

        3. David Greenwald

          There is a difference between driving their car onto the Nishi site and driving to campus to attend classes.  It’s not a strange statement, a student who lives across the street from the university is not going to buy a parking pass (and by the way, I have heard horror stories about finding parking these days on campus from students, some of whom have missed classes and even tests) to park on campus.

        4. Todd Edelman

          David, it’s really not that you used an absolute “… no one…” it’s just that everyone going to and from Nishi with a car goes through campus, limited to just a few routes…. and creating unnecessary danger and worse for their convenience.

          Is the main purpose of the famous Campus Travel Survey to show how few people actually park on campus? That’s ridiculous. It’s about journeys to, through and from campus — and obviously they do this because there’s a place to park – and fortunately less of one now! But the Shopping Center Travel Survey – which the City of Davis can’t pay for right now – would show a huge number of trips by car, and these will be from anywhere there are cars. Because of free parking, cheap gas, parents paying insurance for some and so on.

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