U-Mall Redevelopment Has Scoping Meeting, Analysis of the Parking Plan

Planner Eric Lee talks with residents at scoping meeting

On Wednesday, developers for the University Mall Redevelopment project held a scoping meeting in advance of their EIR.  The comment period of the NOP closes on Monday, December 17, 2018 and any comments that the public has on the scope of the University Mall Redevelopment EIR should be provided to the City of Davis Department of Community Development and Sustainability by the end of the day.

The site currently is an 8.25 acre parcel with 103,696 square feet of commercial uses, including retail and restaurants.  Tenants include Trader Joe’s market, Forever 21, Cost Plus World Market, The Davis Graduate restaurant and sports bar, and smaller shops and services. Professional offices are located on a partial second floor.

The redevelopment project will involve the “demolition of approximately 90,653 square feet of the existing mall to create a mixed-use development.”  The project would result in 264 multi-family residential units and 136,800 square feet of new retail uses.

“The addition of 136,800 square feet of retail uses would accommodate shops, restaurants and other uses,” they write in their proposal. “The proposed improvements and uses would revitalize the center and expand shopping and dining options for local residents. At buildout, the project would include approximately 808,500 square feet.

“The existing building that houses the mall retail uses would be demolished and rebuilt to include four levels of residential units over three levels of parking and four levels of residential units over retail uses,” they write.  The overall proposed building height would be seven stories or approximately 80 feet.

Brixmor’s goal is to design the project to “a LEED Gold equivalency with contemporary architectural elements. The design of the building will use energy efficient lighting and HV AC systems.”

A big new feature will be a lot more usable space outside.  The current design has very limited outdoor space, reflecting the way buildings used to be designed.  But that will change with the new design.  “The redeveloped site landscaping will include outdoor seating and congregating areas, bicycle parking, plazas, and pedestrian connections among buildings,” they write.

Among the potential environmental impacts to be studied will be an analysis of the GHG emissions from non-mobile sources.  They will also evaluate the consistency of the proposed project with the city’s adopted land use plans and its compatibility with the surrounding land uses, both existing and proposed.

The proposal calls for 264 multi-family residential units that would consist of 66 one-bedroom units, 104 two-bedroom units, 28 three-bedroom units, and 66 four-bedroom units.

The bedrooms would be comprised of 430 single-occupancy rooms and 232 double-occupancy rooms, resulting in a total bed count of 894.

The developers note that the development “would be focused on student use, but would be available for non-students as well.”

One of the concerns mentioned by some residents at the scoping meeting was the number of residential parking spaces.  The current plan calls for 696 total parking spaces which would consist of 265 spaces for residential use and 431 for retail use. Retail and residential parking spaces would be provided by a new, three-story parking garage with 551 total spaces.

The first and second levels of the parking garage would each provide 128 retail parking spaces. The third level of the parking garage would provide 265 parking spaces for the proposed residential units, as well as 30 parking spaces for retail use, for a total of 295 spaces. An additional 145 retail parking spaces would be provided by the surface-level parking lot.

The argument was that the number of residential spaces – one per unit is too small and could force residents into the impacted retail spaces.

Is one residential parking spot per unit the right quantity?  Given the location of facility next to campus and the planned housing for students, the developer like those at places like Lincoln40 and Davis Live, believes that a lower amount of parking spots are needed.

The University Mall is hardly alone in this regard – other recent projects have cut back on the number of parking spaces.

Lincoln40 for instance has 708 beds and only proposed to provide 239 parking stalls for vehicles.  Nishi has 220 beds but only 700 parking spaces.  Davis Live Housing is building 440 beds but will only have 71 vehicles onsite – once again one per unit.

We have noted using the UC Davis Travel Survey that those living less than a mile from campus very rarely drive to campus.  In fact, when they surveyed 767 students, those living within a mile from campus, only 2.2 percent either drive alone or carpool

That figure does not tell the full story, of course.  After all, it is quite possible to own a car, but not use them to travel to campus.

However, data show that students increasingly do not have cars.  When the travel survey questioned students recently as to how many had access to a car, only 42.7 percent of undergraduate students reported access to a car compared with 70.8 percent of graduates and 93.3 percent of employees.

Drilling down further, we see that those who live outside of Davis are nearly all driving into town, with 91.5 percent having access to a car.  Thus those students who live in town, are less like than even the 42.7 percent to have a car.

When you factor in location, you end up with a great incentive for students without cars to be the one living across the street from campus.

There are questions as to enforceability.  But the number of locations off-site to park and walk are rather limited at this location.

While there are concerns that the retail spaces would be consumed by residents, the current facility’s location near campus means that the retail spaces are monitored to ensure that people parking at the University Mall are not using it as a free parking spot for campus purposes.

In short, people living at the University Mall will be warned going in that they most likely will not be able to have a vehicle on the site.  Given demographic trends and location, that’s probably more reasonable than some fear.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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38 thoughts on “U-Mall Redevelopment Has Scoping Meeting, Analysis of the Parking Plan”

  1. Todd Edelman

    Parking is nice. Housing is nicer. Parking is nice. Housing is nicer.

    Repeat this to yourself. It sounds good.

    Parkování pro
    https://cdn.motor1.com/images/mgl/eGeK6/s1/tatra-603.jpg
    motorová vozidla
    je hezké. Bydlení je hezčí.

    Parking pour les
    https://www.autoviva.com/img/photos/674/citro_n_ami_6_large_55674.jpg
    véhicules à moteur est agréable. Le logement est mieux.

    Parkering för
    https://i.pinimg.com/originals/c7/fc/9b/c7fc9b2088012eebf86d63a2e1278e93.jpg
    motorfordon är trevligt. Bostäder är trevligare.

    Why all of that? Because I really love cars when they are used appropriately. When the space used for their storage is fair.

    But it’s not at this planned development, because they are planning to build parking in the same footprint where people could sleep. Eat. Make love. Study. You get the point? I know you do, because it’s really, really simple.

    Never mind that Davis is still the “USA cycling capitol” and that the City is supposed to prioritize active travel. Even if everyone living here was planning to walk, take the bus or teleport to campus… even if bikes did not exist, in any Universe, forever back and forward… it’s simply the epitome of ethical and moral collapse to build parking where housing could be.

  2. Ron

    “When the travel survey questioned students recently as to how many had access to a car, only 42.7 percent of undergraduate students reported access to a car compared with 70.8 percent of graduates and 93.3 percent of employees.”

    Did this self-reported survey have a 100% response rate?  If not, what percentage responded?

    Is this a single survey, including all students and employees?

    It’s important to remember that minimum parking requirements are primarily for the purpose of addressing the impact of new developments on existing neighborhood/businesses, and not for the convenience of new residents.

    1. Ron

      Thanks.  So, I immediately noticed this:

      “Over 20 percent (4,059 individuals) of those contacted responded to this year’s survey, with 18.9 percent actually completing it.”

      I stopped there. But, one would (also) have to thoroughly examine the survey, to see what questions were specifically asked.

        1. Ron

          A self-reported survey with less than a 19% response rate is meaningless, regarding drawing any conclusions.  It could be that those who are “proud” of not personally having a car are the ones primarily responding, year-after-year.

          Also, without looking at it further, one cannot tell if the survey discussed visitors with cars. Same would be true regarding temporary car rentals, such as ZipCars. (Not to mention weaknesses in surveys that rely upon self-reporting.)

          Supposedly, the development is going to house non-students, as well.

          The survey is certainly not something that I’d rely upon, regarding minimum parking requirements.

        2. Jim Hoch

          20% response rates are not necessarily bad. Some percentage will abandon but that does not look bad either.

          Suggest learning more about quantitative market research before posting.

        3. Mark West

          According to Jeffrey Tumlin in his presentation as part of the Davis Futures Forum, it is parking minimums that are arbitrary standards and not supported by data. As he stated, parking minimums require everyone to pay for parking that is only used by the most affluent.

          “A self-reported survey with less than a 19% response rate is meaningless”

          Do you have a citation to support that conclusion?

          Yet again…this is not rocket science and Davis is not some unique spot in the universe that functions differently from everywhere else. Is the travel survey definitive? No, but it is valid data that should be used to help determine the amount of parking to be included with this project as it reflects the current situation, not some arbitrary standard that was created decades ago.

      1. David Greenwald

        The response rate is lower than you would like, but they have a sufficient sample size if the non-responses are randomly distributed – that’s really the key ariouable.

        1. Ron

          Not sure what it means for the responses to be randomly distributed, in this case. Representative of distance from campus by respondents, perhaps?

          The survey is really intended to determine what percentage drives to campus, not “off-campus” automotive travel (and corresponding parking needs).  I don’t think anyone would argue that those living at University Mall would drive to campus.

          Nor would it address who might live at University Mall, regarding undergraduates, graduates, employees of the mall or UCD, other non-students, etc.  Or, their visitors with cars (or auto rental services such as ZipCar, which still require parking spaces if parked near residences for a period of time).

           

        2. Ron

          And again, I’m not sure how the survey would account for the possibility that those who respond are more likely to not own cars, vs. those who don’t respond.

          I suspect that an entire article (or more) would be needed to determine the applicability of this survey regarding minimum parking requirements at University Mall, or elsewhere in the city.

          Again, this survey was not created to determine parking needs, off-campus.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            “And again, I’m not sure how the survey would account for the possibility that those who respond are more likely to not own cars, vs. those who don’t respond.”

            First of all, I doubt very much that systematically people likely to respond are more likely not to own cars. That’s not to say they are not biased. Second, as far as I know, the parking decisions were not made based on the survey. I cite it because it illustrates very clearly why you could probably get away with lower numbers of parking spaces – but the developers have their own metrics for why they have done so independent of the survey.

        3. Ron

          David:  “First of all, I doubt very much that systematically people likely to respond are more likely not to own cars.”

          I don’t know why you’d conclude that.

          “That’s not to say they are not biased.”

          Yeap – see response, above.

          “Second, as far as I know, the parking decisions were not made based on the survey.”

          I hope not.  But clearly, you’re hoping that mentioning it in the article influences the city’s decision.  Which is related to your general advocacy for less-stringent requirements (e.g., for parking or Affordable housing), in support of more development – regardless of impacts on neighborhoods or the city.

          “I cite it because it illustrates very clearly why you could probably get away with lower numbers of parking spaces – but the developers have their own metrics for why they have done so independent of the survey.”

          Developers’ “metrics” might include how they can extract the most amount of money from a proposal.  A separate issue than the impacts on a neighborhood or city.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            ” Which is related to your general advocacy for less-stringent parking or Affordable housing requirements (to support more development, regardless of impacts on neighborhoods or the city).”

            You have this wrong. Todd is an advocate for less parking/ less vehicular driving. I simply having looked at the data and anecdotally through my dealing with students, believe that the trend is toward less car usage.

        4. Ron

          You have migrated toward the “dark side”, and your writing reflects your political nature. 

          Todd has not (and is much less political), although some of his proposals/ideas are unrealistic.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            No. But I agree with Todd on a key point – I would rather given limited space maximize housing over parking.

        5. Ron

          I’d rather look at the needs of the city as a whole, and would prefer that it not expand its footprint (again) onto prime farmland, at this time. (Actually, I don’t see Todd advocating for that, either.)

          I would also prefer that developers account for, and pay for the impacts that they create. They are generally well-positioned to do so, without others doing their bidding.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            “I’d rather look at the needs of the city as a whole, and would prefer that it not expand its footprint (again) onto prime farmland, at this time.”

            And one way to do avoid expanding the footprint is to put more housing and less parking.

  3. David TW

    Ron’s “less than 19%” comment could well have been derived from the survey’s abstract alone. I suggest taking a look at the pertinent sections of the entire 105 pp. PDF (linked from the original site) that explain methodologies, confidence levels, etc. before rejecting the survey results.

     

  4. Ron

    Jim:  “Suggest learning more about quantitative market research before posting.”

    Do tell.  I’m open to learning (or possibly re-learning).

    Regardless, I’d ask if the self-reported survey included visitors, ZipCars, etc. (Not to mention potential non-student residents.)

    I’d suggest it might be up to David to fully and openly explore the ramifications of this survey, if he’s trying to present it as a guide for minimum parking requirements in the city.

        1. Ron

          Thanks!  It’s o.k. with me, as well.

          As a side note, I must have previously/accidentally “ignored” Jim’s comments, so I have to log out each time to see them. But, since the website is changing, it’s probably not worth asking for this to be fixed, at this point.

    1. Rik Keller

      Ron: you are right about the survey. It is potentially problematic that there is such a low response rate.  While the sampling error calculations are documented in the report, the problem that a low response rate produces is separate from that: there could be response bias if the self-selected respondents have different characteristics than the population as a whole. One could imagine that might be the case if, for example, people were less likely to respond if they had really long commute times and hated being reminded of it, and were therefore less likely to complete the survey.

      “One final point to note is that the random variability of sample estimates, the sampling error, and the bias associated with a sample, are not necessarily related at all. If a survey plan systematically leaves out, or underrepresents, some people who are distinctive in ways relevant to the survey’s goals, it is quite possible to have a very consistent and stable estimate, with very little sampling error, that is consistently biased and under- or overestimates some characteristics of the population.”

      https://www.sagepub.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/23854_Chapter2.pdf

       

       

       

      1. Ron

        Thanks, Rik.  Yes – that was my point.

        As a side note, this is another site that’s being converted from commercial use, to semi-residential use. (While some are simultaneously claiming that a peripheral site is needed.)

        Why not a more intensive commercial use, if that’s what’s “needed”? (Especially with Nishi, the megadorms, and UCD’s promise to build more on-campus housing for students?)

        Last time I checked, San Francisco and Sacramento had “dense” commercial areas.

        1. Don Shor

           this is another site that’s being converted from commercial use, to semi-residential use. 

          No commercial square footage is being lost in this development proposal. So your use of the word “from” is incorrect.

          I don’t really get all the debate about the travel survey. Are you very concerned for some reason about a lack of parking on this site after redevelopment? Why?

        2. David Greenwald

          In fact they are adding to the commercial space while adding housing.  Ron says he wants to avoid building on ag land, and yet he has opposed every single recent project that has been a more dense infill project that would allow the city to do just that.

        3. Ron

          Don:  This is just another example of a site being converted to semi-residential use.  There’s no reason that sites like this can’t house more commercial development, instead.

          When a site is converted to semi-residential use, it impacts the types of commercial activities that can be housed there.  It also creates an entirely different set of needs (and costs) to serve the residential component.

          In this case, you have a pre-existing commercial mall that depends upon parking to serve existing residents.  I’m failing to see how it serves the existing city, to make it more difficult to travel and park there.

          I’ll give you an example.  In the town where I used to live, there was once a nice, somewhat higher-end supermarket.  They tore it down, and added residences above it.  The supermarket survived (but changed), but I never set foot in it again, after that.  It was too much hassle to deal with the traffic and parking garage.

          Perhaps shoppers like me were “replaced” by the new residents, but I’m failing to see how that’s an improvement.

          Nor do I see any reason that commercial sites (in general) can’t house more commercial development (as they do in Sacramento and San Francisco), without sprawling onto farmland.

          Regarding this particular site (University Mall), I’ll acknowledge that it might make sense to add housing (since it’s right across the street from UCD).

        4. Ron

          Seems like your website might be having a problem, as I’m not able to edit my comment during the “window”.

          In any case, adding residential usage also impacts parking for commercial customers, nearby residents, deliveries for the commercial components, etc.

          Also, would you want to live directly above “The Graduate”? Or, would you want to have to be concerned about noise, if you owned/operated that business? (Of course, I can’t speak for them, but just generally noting the types of concerns that can arise.)

          Again, I’m not sure why some are pushing for residentialization of existing areas (including downtown), when other cities have much more dense commercial areas (without pushing for peripheral developments, instead).

      2. Jim Hoch

        “potentially problematic” Do two weasel words in sequence mean something definitive?

        Response rates vary with the survey methodology and by themselves mean nothing. You could have 90% of the the people walking by responding and you’d have a survey of people walking by.

        1. Rik Keller

          Jim: do us all a favor and read up on survey methodology. Of course it is “potentially problematic”. We can’t say definitively because we don’t have a survey of the full population.

          I helpfully bolded the pertinent parts for you:

          “One final point to note is that the random variability of sample estimates, the sampling error, and the bias associated with a sample, are not necessarily related at all. If a survey plan systematically leaves out, or underrepresents, some people who are distinctive in ways relevant to the survey’s goals, it is quite possible to have a very consistent and stable estimate, with very little sampling error, that is consistently biased and under- or overestimates some characteristics of the population.”

           

          https://www.sagepub.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/23854_Chapter2.pdf

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            So here’s a question for you Rik – UC Davis has some really good methodologists, I trained under some of them, once upon a time, don’t you think they know what you know here?

        2. Jim Hoch

          Perhaps some review is in order here. Ron kicked this off by saying that a 20% response rate would invalidate a survey. I responded that there is no absolute response rate and offered the example of high response rates for non-representative groups.

          So I am not clear we are saying different thing.

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