One of the big questions facing the community as we draw to the end of the current RHNA (Regional Housing Needs Allocation) cycle is where housing will go in the future, given limitations on developing on the periphery. One of the thoughts then is that the densification of the Davis Downtown, and the addition of housing units there, would help the city meet its future RHNA goals.
In the meantime, as DPAC (Downtown Plan Advisory Committee) meets this week for the first time since February, staff is asking for recommendation on the Option 1 map, which establishes the zones in the Form-Based Code, and which will replace the existing zoning in the downtown area.
Staff is asking the DPAC members to make a recommendation on each item that could produce adjustments in the overall city plan for the downtown.
There are seven such recommendations. First, they recommend designating G Street between 2nd and 4th as Main Street Large.
They note: “A number of properties within the proposed Main Street Large zone have been recently developed or improved or are historical Landmark sites and are not likely to be redeveloped.”
However, they note, it also “offers additional opportunity for redevelopment and greater development intensity.” The area is part of the city’s traditional commercial district and includes a number of large parcels. “The G Street area is proximate to the Amtrak station, a major community transportation asset. Staff feels that greater intensity and density should be allocated in the downtown plan near the station to promote transit-oriented development.”
Staff adds: “The G Street area offers some of the greatest potential for redevelopment given that several parcels include lower intensity buildings that have depreciated over time, larger parking lot fields, and several of the parcels are larger and/or under single ownership.
“The G Street area is envisioned to be a mixed-use flex district within the Draft Downtown Plan.”
Second, the recommendation for 3rd Street from A to B Streets is Neighborhood Medium. They argue this would provide more consistent zoning along 3rd Street, similar to existing zoning, and standards for height and mass would be similar.
“The Form Based Code provides greater certainty for developers and residents in terms of process and building form,” they write. “The inclusion of this area will allow for potential development to be analyzed in the Environmental Impact Report for the Downtown Plan rather than having to analyze future projects on an individual basis.”
Third, the proposed zone for the Davis Commons site is either Main Street Large or a combination of Main Street Large and Neighborhood Large. Staff believes this would limit flexibility for the redevelopment and reduce the commercial area and uses from the current zoning.
Fourth, they would combine the Neighborhood Medium zone with the Neighborhood Medium Open zone. Currently, they differentiated by their allowed uses. Neighborhood Medium is primarily residential with limited commercial or office uses.
Neighborhood Medium Open would allow more commercial and office uses. The existing Mixed Use zone would additionally allow a greater range of uses than currently proposed for the Neighborhood Medium.
Fifth, they are recommending adding the parcels along University behind Black Bear Diner to the plan with the Neighborhood Medium designation. They note that the owner of the apartments at 204 University is interested in redeveloping the building but has been advised to wait and participate in the Downtown Plan.
Staff notes: “The inclusion of this area will allow for potential development to be analyzed in the Environmental Impact Report for the Downtown Plan rather than having to analyze future projects on an individual basis.”
They add: “A key objective in updating the plan is to streamline process and provide certainty; inclusion of this area would be consistent with that objective.”
Along similar lines, they would consider designating parcels in the University Rice Lane Neighborhood as being within the Downtown Plan with the same Neighborhood Medium designation.
Finally, they recommend allowing greater development opportunity at the block of G Street between 4th and 5th.
The sale of the Hibbert Lumber parcels could provide a promising future redevelopment opportunity.
Staff writes: “Adding an opportunity for this block to increase in height from what it is currently being designated in the anticipated draft regulating plan could provide for more viable redevelopment opportunities for the site.”
There are a few other key points.
First, they clarify height limitation. They note some confusion about height limitations for the Neighborhood Small zone.
They write: “At the last DPAC meeting there was some confusion about whether this designation allowed for 3 or 4 stories. Staff recommends that retaining the allowance for a 4th story with appropriate setbacks as an important feature of the plan to increase potential feasibility of future redevelopment opportunities.”
In October, DPAC recommended a series of sustainability goals for the downtown plan. They note here: “The City continues to pursue sustainability goals on a city-wide level with on-going efforts in a number of different areas. Sustainability should be integral to development of the downtown area, which can serve as a model of sustainability.”
However, “sustainability efforts in the downtown area need to be consistent with overall City policies and goals focusing on sustainability, which would be established in upcoming General Plan Update, as updates to existing plans such as the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, and through adoption of potential new plans and requirements focused on energy, water, waste, transportation, and other specific areas.”
There has already been discussion about affordability within the framework of the council’s update on affordable housing requirements in the core, and staff here notes that such needs will be included in the Draft Downtown Specific Plan.
Finally, they have a draft of parking-related goals including: managing curb parking and city-owned lots and garages, changes to private development requirements – including the removal of minimum parking but the creation of maximum parking requirements.
In addition, they look to improve transportation choices, including:
- Strengthen Davis’ regional Transportation Management Association.
- Establish deep-discount group transit pass program.
- Review and expand local transit networks.
- Continue improving bicycling facilities and programs.
The next DPAC meeting is set for June with discussions about the release of a public Draft Downtown Specific Plan with a 90-day public review period.
—David M. Greenwald reporting