MRIC Developers Put Forward New Aggie Research Campus Proposal with Housing

The city of Davis’ economic development plans suddenly came into focus on Tuesday, as a letter from the Mace Ranch Innovation Center (MRIC) applicants – Buzz Oates, Reynolds & Brown, and Ramco Enterprises – sent a letter to the city requesting the recommencement of the processing of the innovation center application.

The project moving forward, now known as the Aggie Research Campus, was placed on hold three years ago in the spring of 2016.  Now it is back for council consideration and a possible Measure R vote.  “The project is designed to support tech transfer from UC Davis and solidify Davis’ role as the ag-tech capital of the world,” a release stated.

The Aggie Research Campus (ARC) is “the culmination of years of independent economic and environmental analyses, and conversations between the City, UC Davis, community, and the ARC partners, Buzz Oates, Reynolds & Brown and Ramco Enterprises. The project will be located in northeast Davis.”

Building upon the earlier proposal and utilizing the already-certified alternative to the Final EIR, “the ARC provides a cutting-edge innovation campus with a tech transfer focus that has been a community and UCD priority since 1992, while addressing the City’s need for workforce housing. It also delivers a significant economic benefit to Davis, helping to address the City’s budget deficit and supporting vital public services like transportation, infrastructure, and public safety.”

“We never lost faith in the Innovation Center and its ability to have a meaningful positive impact on Davis,” said Dan Ramos, Project Manager for ARC, in the letter to the city council.

He added: “We’ve used the past three years to further investigate and confirm the best approach for ensuring long-term project success, delivering an innovation campus that meets the economic development objectives identified by the City and that is a great fit for Davis.

“We are confident that the path now proposed will deliver an innovation and technology center that respects and reflects Davis values, is environmentally responsible, benefits the local economy, and is consistent with the vision that the City has been discussing and analyzing for nearly a decade.”

Councilmember Dan Carson said in a statement, “I am glad this team is ready to re-engage with our community on their Aggie Research Campus proposal. I invite Davis residents to share their comments and suggestions with city planning staff and the applicants for ensuring that any project constitutes sound land-use policy, addresses any environmental impacts, and is fiscally positive for the city.

“This community conversation is important because obtaining additional city tax revenue and jobs from economic development are critical to the future of our city.”

Mayor Pro Tem Gloria Partida added, “I am encouraged that this group took a slow and measured approach to fully exploring options.  This can be a real opportunity for our citizens.”

Assistant City Manager Ashley Feeney said, “As host City to a world-class university in UC Davis, the City is brimming with human capital and talent.  The proximity to campus is also an exciting prospect for businesses that prosper through a synergistic relationship with research and development universities.  Davis is well located, serving as a bridge between Sacramento and the greater Bay Area region with a Amtrak station that serves the Capitol Corridor.”

In 2014, the city asked developers and applicants to come forward with proposals for innovation centers following a period of planning that included the Innovation Park Task Force and Studio 30.  At that time, two proposals came forward as applications: Mace Ranch Innovation Center (MRIC) and the Davis Innovation Center.

The Davis Innovation Center was placed on hold in 2015 and eventually it moved up to Woodland.  MRIC was placed on hold in the spring of 2016 after council rejected a proposal for it to go forward with housing.  However, in the fall of 2017, the city council certified the EIR which had been completed prior to the project being placed on hold.

As Dan Ramos explains in the letter, “Since placing the Project on hold, our team has continued to meet with tech industry experts and executives to ensure that we have a clear understanding of their current and future needs.”

He explains that, as the result of the meetings, “we have a more complete sense of what is necessary to make a large-scale innovation center in Davis a success in the near term and well into the future. What we have learned definitively through our earlier and more recent outreach efforts is that the inclusive campus model – a component of which is workforce housing – is essential for the success of a modern center.”

Mr. Ramos explains, “This reality is clear when you look at new and redeveloping corporate campuses in Silicon Valley, Austin, Texas and the Triangle Area of North Carolina, all of which are incorporating workforce housing into their campus facilities.”

According to the press release, the new Aggie Research Campus “will offer building types supporting the Davis innovation ecosystem, including wet/dry laboratory, office, R&D, prototyping, light manufacturing, and flex-space to strengthen the ‘research-to-market’ process for emerging businesses, and to enable expansion of local companies. The campus also will provide state-of-the-art fiber optic network, helping support access to high speed broadband to more neighborhoods in Davis.”

The campus “will further Davis’ leadership in sustainability by providing LEED green building standards, groundwater recharge, energy and water efficiency, and access to multi-modal transportation that will reduce or eliminate daily car trips for those working or living on-site. The campus will also provide needed workforce housing so that people working at ARC can live near their jobs, further reducing vehicle trips.”

ARC will also include approximately 64 acres of open space, “which will be privately maintained and available to the public, and the permanent preservation of land to protect native threatened owl species. It will also deliver amenities to make northeast Davis more walkable, bikeable, and transit-accessible, including privately funded improvements to make Mace Boulevard and County Road 32A safer for bicyclists.”

Once completed, the project proponents estimate it will annually generate $2.2 million in direct city revenue, and have an ongoing countywide economic impact of $2.65 billion of output.

The workforce housing component at this point does not have specificity.  However, an alternative version of the Final EIR included 850 units of workforce housing in addition to the innovation space.

Now the question is whether the voters will support this as the future vision for Davis.

Ashley Feeney said, “We look forward to discussing the details of the proposal further with the Aggie Research Campus team.  Economic development that promotes a diverse and resilient economy furthering the fiscal health of the City is of keen interest.”

He added, “The unique attributes of Davis offer a compelling opportunity for businesses that value those strengths.  We are excited about evaluating the proposal and working with the project proponents to bring a project forward for consideration by our commissions, City Council and the Davis community.”

—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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95 Comments

  1. Tia Will

    Pending a more detailed plan, I am cautiously optimistic about this proposal. I would recommend the city insists on a firm commitment to a transportation scheme that provides rather than just promises zero/low emissions forms of transportation.

    1. Bill Marshall

      Pending a more detailed plan, I am cautiously optimistic about this proposal

      Moi, aussi… a ‘Wait and see”… openness and skepticism would be a good mix…

  2. Don Shor

    while addressing the City’s need for workforce housing. 

    a component of which is workforce housing-is essential for the success of a modern center

    incorporating workforce housing into their campus facilities.”

    The workforce housing component at this point does not have specificity

    an alternative version of the Final EIR included 850 units of workforce housing 

    It is not “workforce housing.” It is just housing. Presumably anybody can rent there. So we should not just casually adopt this phrase as though it has actual meaning.

    Marketing jargon: the developers want to add workforce housing to their research campus proposal.

    Plain English: The developers want to add housing to their business park proposal.

    1. Bill Marshall

      To clarify, Don… as you say,

      Presumably anybody can rent there.

      Therefore, presumably, the percentage of ‘work-force housing’ could be anywhere from 0-100%.  Think bell-curve, depending on pricing… I suspect the % of ‘work-force’ generated by the project would be ~ 20%… other Davis ‘work-force’ I would suspect ~ 40%… whatever the breakdown (I’d rather not live precisely where I worked, unless it was my business), opine (all it is) 60 % would likely provide housing for those who work in Davis… aka “work-force housing’…

      To imply 0% ‘work-force housing’ would indicate a bias against any housing… some will insist that 0% is the ‘logical’ answer…

      It’ll depend on pricing…

    2. Rik Keller

      “We’ve used the past three years to further investigate and confirm the best approach for ensuring long-term project success…”

      translation: only by adding housing and other ancillary uses like hotel, retail, etc. can we make this project profitable.

      1. Craig Ross

        Why is that surprising – you yourself have noted the problem of housing folks working at the park on build out.  Best way to address that is to have the housing on site.

      2. Mark West

        “only by adding housing and other ancillary uses like hotel, retail, etc. can we make this project profitable.”

        The City needs more hotel capacity, retail space, and housing, so this sounds like a proposal that will meet many needs.

        1. Craig Ross

          I don’t see a mention of a hotel in here

          That said given build out times and financing needs, you probably do need ancillary uses to make it pencil out up front.

        2. Matt Williams

          I agree with Mark that the City needs more hotel capacity and housing; however, I do not see the City needing more retail space.  Our local retail market is declining.  The national retail market is declining.  For those local and national declines, the declines are expected to continue, with no end in sight.

          1. Don Shor

            The national retail market is declining. For those local and national declines, the declines are expected to continue, with no end in sight.

            That is not true. The impact of internet sales on brick and mortar is routinely exaggerated. Davis is missing some retail sectors. While the economy is slowing, that isn’t really relevant to the long-term trend of retail sales. The biggest retailers (general merchandisers) are blending their online and physical presences, and they are the category most impacted by online sales. Meanwhile the online giant Amazon is expanding into brick and mortar retailing. People are shopping differently, no question, but there are certainly opportunities for retailers in and near Davis.
            The most fiscally effective development from the city’s standpoint would include small-footprint boutique stores. Other than Apple stores, they generate the highest sales tax per square foot.

          2. David Greenwald

            Matt: I think it’s important to understand that not everyone agrees that the national retail market will continue to decline. In fact, Tien Tzuo of Zuora points out that brick and mortar retail is actually growing (albeit slowly), but the market is shifting. He might be an outlier, but I think he makes a pretty good case.

            Mike Elgan, a columnist for Computerworld, sums up the situation well: “The bottom line is that there is no ‘retail apocalypse.’ That’s based on an obsolete dichotomy between ‘online’ and ‘physical’ retail. The real division is between data-driven, app-centric, flexible and omnichannel retailing on the one hand, and old and stale retailing on the other.”

        3. Matt Williams

          Don, according to this April 8, 2019 CNBC article, you are incorrect.

          Online shopping led by Amazon hit a new milestone in February.

          The total market share of “non-store,” or online U.S. retail sales was higher than general merchandise sales for the first time in history, according to a report from the Commerce Department this week.

          “The days of the internet and online shopping being ‘just a fad’ have come a long way over the years, but February’s Retail Sales report (released Monday) highlighted another of many major milestones that the growth of online shopping has reached over the years,” said Paul Hickey, co-founder or Bespoke Investment Group, which reported the statistic in a note to clients Tuesday.

          The online sector, referred to as “clicks,” has been slowly eating up market share in the past two decades. Its total rose from below 5 percent in the late 1990s to about 12 percent in 2019, according to the Commerce Department. In February, online sales narrowly beat general merchandise stores, including department stores, warehouse clubs and super-centers. Non-store retail sales last month accounted for 11.813 percent of the total, compared with 11.807 percent for general merchandise.

          Online sales is now the fourth largest sector overall, bringing in about $59.8 billion in adjusted sales for February. Motor vehicles and parts is the largest segment, making up about 20 percent of all retail spending. Food and beverage store sales and restaurants and bar sales each make up about 12 percent.

          https://www.davisvanguard.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Screen-Shot-2019-06-13-at-3.09.45-AM.png
          .
          and

          https://www.davisvanguard.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Screen-Shot-2019-06-13-at-3.18.38-AM.png

          1. Don Shor

            That very narrowly-focused and inaccurate article, widely distributed, is discussed and debunked here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/gregmaloney/2019/04/08/correction-online-shopping-did-not-overtake-brick-and-mortar-store-sales-last-month/#3f8f999d3e79
            Moreover, the CNBC article does not prove your assertion that

            The national retail market is declining. For those local and national declines, the declines are expected to continue, with no end in sight.

            In addition to discussion of the convergence of online and brick-and-mortar retailing (large retailers are expanding their online presence) there is this key paragraph:

            However, the bigger point to make here is the rate of growth itself. You can see in the chart below that e-commerce (or really, “non-store” sales) is growing at a consistent rate (the grey line). However, the red line shows the percent growth from the prior year, which is clearly trending in the opposite direction. So, at some point soon, it will likely reach an inflection point and level-off. At what percent share that ends up is anybody’s guess, but what’s clear is that it’s not going to end up as the inverse (where online is 90% of total sales).

        4. Matt Williams

          Don, that is an interesting read, and I thank you for linking it … and it had some interesting internal links within the article.

          Mr Maloney and I have very different perspectives on how “retail” is defined.  For example, in his quote below he includes restaurants, which I personally consider to be a service industry rather than a retail industry.  I agree with him 100% about apparel.  Definitely retail IMO.  I can see his argument about including Food and Beverage stores as part of retail, but I consider them to be more Consumables rather than Retail.  Because of its perishability absent refrigeration, I don’t see that as a market segment that is ever going to be susceptible to online sales in any meaningful way … other than high cost/price per unit beverages that need little or no refrigeration.

          For reference, apparel is 4.5% of total sales, health and personal care 5.8%, food and beverage stores 12.3%, and restaurants 11.9%, all of which are integral parts of brick and mortar retail.

          There is one of his arguments that makes no sense to me at all.  When a consumer comes to Redwood Barn and purchases a retail product, they are very clearly paying you for the shipping and handling costs that you incurred to get the product to your bricks and mortar site.  Why should shipping and handling be included in your sales, but not an online vendor’s sales?

          The “non-store” retailers NAICS code in the Commerce Department report is a bit broader than that. For one, it includes nonrefundable shipping and handling.

        5. Matt Williams

          Late yesterday afternoon I had a conversation with someone I don’t always agree with, but whose opinion I always respect.  I posed the following questions to her:

          (1) Are the sales at restaurants retail?  Her answer was a quick “no” explaining her answer at two levels.  First, with the exception of take-out orders, you never leave a restaurant with a product.  For her, for a transaction to be “retail” requires the transfer of a product.  Second, even in take-out orders, the service provided is much more important than any momentary product that may be transiently part of the service delivery .

          (2) Are the sales of apparel retail?  Her answer was an equally quick “yes” because (a) there clearly is a product involved in the transaction, (b) the product is durable in nature, and (c) the decision to make the transaction is discretionary.

          (3) Are food and beverage sales retail?  Here too her answer was “no” because even though (a) there is a product involved in the transaction, (b) the product is more often than not perishable in nature, and (c) the decision to make the transaction is not discretionary.  The word she used for especially food and to a lesser extent beverages was “necessity” of life.

          (4)  Are health and personal care sales retail?  There the answer was much less hard edged … if you will “sometimes yes” and sometimes “no” because (a) there is almost always a product involved in the transaction, (b) but the product varies between being perishable and being durable, and (c)  sometimes the product is a “necessity” of life, and sometimes it is purely discretionary.

          Bottom-line, we had an interesting discussion thanks to the dialogue on the subject here in the Vanguard.

    3. Mark West

      “It is not “workforce housing.” It is just housing.”

      Call it what you want. High-density multi-family housing is appropriate housing for workers and exactly what is needed in Davis.

       

       

      “Plain English: The developers want to add housing to their business park proposal.”

      Plain English: The developers understand that their business park will be more successful if appropriate housing for workers is included in the plan.

      1. Craig Ross

        “Plain English: The developers understand that their business park will be more successful if appropriate housing for workers is included in the plan.”

        How does it make sense to bring in jobs without a place for people to live in a location that’s already at zero vacancy?

  3. Rik Keller

    “The Aggie Research Campus (ARC) is “the culmination of years of independent economic and environmental analyses…””

    Reality: The project was pulled before the economic/fiscal analyses were reviewed/vetted.

  4. Don Shor

    What is ‘workforce housing’?

    Workforce housing is housing that is affordable to workers and close to their jobs. It is homeownership, as well as rental housing, that can be reasonably afforded by a moderate to middle income, critical workforce and located in acceptable proximity to workforce centers. The most common definition of workforce housing comes from the Urban Land Institute, which defines workforce housing as: “housing that is affordable to households earning 60 to 120 percent of the area median income.” It has also been defined as affordable if the housing costs are no more than 30-40 percent of income. There are other variations of this definition. Some communities use 80 percent of area median income as the lower threshold, and some communities, particularly higher cost places, use a higher percentage, such as 140 percent of area median income as the upper threshold. Workforce housing was thought of as housing for public employees – teachers, police officers, firefighters, and others who are integral to a community, yet who often cannot afford to live in the communities they serve. However, workforce housing also includes housing for young professionals, workers in the construction trades, retail salespeople, office workers and service workers.

    The median income for a household in the city was $42,454, and the median income for a family was $74,051. Males had a median income of $51,189 versus $36,082 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,937.

    At that median income, with 3.25% mortgage rate and housing cost set at 30% of income, a person at median income could afford a house worth $159,270.

    Stretching it up to 140% of median yields house up to $222,978.

    For rentals, that would be “optimum rent” of $840 per month, maximum rent of $1340 per month.[3]

    Stretching it up to 140% of median yields maximum rent of $1876.

    Average rent in Davis is $2004/month.[4]

    “Workforce housing” would mean that the developers are going to build housing that would rent below the current market cost in Davis. My guess is that is not their intention, since the main purpose of adding housing to this project is to help it pencil out for the developers. I would expect the intention is to build and market housing for higher-income renters. So of those listed in the definition above — teachers, police officers, firefighters, young professionals, workers in the construction trades, retail salespeople, office workers and service workers – the only ‘workforce’ folks that could likely afford these units would be young professionals and firefighters.

    1. Mark West

      The concept that new apartments will be more expensive to rent than old ones is not news, but it seems to me that we have already tried the experiment of not building appropriate housing in town for workers (going on two decades). How did that help your employees, Don?

       

      1. Don Shor

        it seems to me that we have already tried the experiment of not building appropriate housing in town for workers (going on two decades). How did that help your employees, Don?

        It seems to me that my position on the development of high-density rental housing in Davis has been pretty clearly laid out on the Vanguard for over a dozen years now. Anybody can do a search to see where I’ve been on that issue.

      2. Rik Keller

        Mark West said “it seems to me that we have already tried the experiment of not building appropriate housing in town for workers…”

        “We” have tried that experiment in a few different ways: including by eliminating the Middle Income Ordinance (thanks to a developer-led coalition and the Chamber of Commerce), and by approving luxury developments such as Nishi (expensive housing for students only) and WDAAC (expensive housing for seniors only).

    2. Tia Will

      Don

      Please be more specific about how you are using the term “young professional”. My daughter has been a science teacher since age 28. She is a “young professional”. She makes $50+K yearly. Her partner is a resident in pathology. He is the same age, also a “young professional” but makes $80+K yearly.

    3. Darryl Rutherford

      There is no agreed upon definition of “workforce housing”. There are many definitions out there…City of Sac defines workforce housing affordable housing at 30%-80% AMI for developers who want to access their housing trust fund…essentially anyone working. To say that people working lower wage jobs aren’t part of the workforce is pretty elitist and exclusionary…

      This definition provided is essentially moderate income levels. It’s a marketing ploy used by developers-plain and simple! If this City was serious about developing a strong housing policy the “leaders” would be pushing for a comprehensive community driven policy revision where terms like “workforce housing” would be defined.

  5. Craig Ross

    Be interesting to see what they come up with – hoping for some co-housing and other innovative models for making housing more affordable for workers entering the workforce.  Exciting times here in Davis.

    1. Matt Williams

      … hoping for some co-housing and other innovative models for making housing more affordable for workers entering the workforce.

      I agree wholeheartedly Craig.

    2. Don Shor

      hoping for some co-housing and other innovative models

      Something that actually integrate the housing directly into the commercial buildings might pass. Lofts on top of the commercial, apartments actually as part of those buildings, etc. Stand-alone houses for sale or apartments for rent on one side of the property? You might as well go to the voters and ask them to approve a new subdivision. That’s what it would be. I think the voters may be maxed out now on that.
      If housing is going to be included, it needs to be part of, not next to, the commercial part.

  6. Rik Keller

    Don Shor said ““Workforce housing” would mean that the developers are going to build housing that would rent below the current market cost in Davis. My guess is that is not their intention, since the main purpose of adding housing to this project is to help it pencil out for the developers. ”

    This is exactly right.

    1. Craig Ross

      Their project isn’t going to work unless companies come here, companies aren’t coming here without available housing for their employees.

      1. Bill Marshall

        Slightly/somewhat true… rare for companies to think that way, but happens, for sure…

        But, the goal of providing jobs in tandem (pun intended) is a good goal.

        The downside, historically, was ‘company towns’… not so good

        Don touched on the key… affordability… I think I touched on one, as to looking at the local workforce… not necessarily project related… some of the new jobs would likely go to folk already housed in Davis, who are ‘under-employed’… depending on the businesses, might have a small amount of “immigrants” to Davis… anyone who opines 100% of those jobs mean that many new Davis residents, is blowing smoke up into a type of women’s apparel…

      2. Jim Hoch

        South San Francisco continues to add jobs, particularly in biotechnology. Almost none of the people who work there live in SSF. Companies go where they can hire the right people and care very little about housing. Very few of the people I know live in the same town where they work.

      3. Alan Miller

        Their project isn’t going to work unless companies come here, companies aren’t coming here without available housing for their employees.

        That doesn’t mean the housing is going to be in Davis.

      4. Darryl Rutherford

        Craig is right…do your research or just a simple google search on businesses and affordable housing. You’ll see that a lot of companies base their location on whether their potential employees can be housed. There’s a clear nexus there which is why local jurisdictions are legally allowed to enforce strong inclusionary housing policy that provide housing for those earning leass than 80% AMI.

  7. Rik Keller

    “Local economic development is a public policy field with a checkered history, prone to fad chasing and a “herd mentality” among decision-makers and often dominated by powerful business interests. Over the past three decades, for example, despite overwhelming evidence from academic studies that such projects yield little community economic benefit, cities and states have invested billions in convention centers and sports stadiums as “engines” of local economic development. In many ways, the entrepreneurial university is the “next new thing” in this long line of oversold economic development fixes.”

    —Marc V. Levine, Professor Emeritus of History, Economic Development, and Urban Studies and was the co-founder and long-time director of the Center for Economic Development at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

    1. Rik Keller

      “ This paper reviews the relationship between research universities and local economic development in 55 major US regions, and finds no meaningful correlations between any gauges of entrepreneurial university activity (research expenditures, patents, or licensing) and core measures of city and regional economic well-being. Notwithstanding tendentious accounts of “success stories” such as Silicon Valley or Boston’s Route 128, as if they represent the general historical pattern, these data as well as case studies such as Johns Hopkins University and Yale University reveal that even world-class research universities are neither necessary nor sufficient in promoting local economic development. University research parks are particularly oversold as engines of local economic growth.”

      1. Rik Keller

        Craig Ross said “The paper is from 2009 and came out before most of the major Innovation Centers were build let alone built out.”

        Are you joking? What fundamental economic conditions and principles have changed since this research was done? This paper is a comprehensive study of decades of history of business parks. The conclusions are just as applicable now.

        If you have done some research that contradicts these findings, please share.

        1. Craig Ross

          I’m sorry but the onus is on you to show that the research you are posting from ten years ago is still not relevant, not me to prove that it’s not.  My showing is that most of the major innovation centers in the US are less than ten years old.  A lot of them are less than five.  Somehow you think that people are investing billion dollars worth of capital into projects that have been proven to fail – how silly is that argument

        2. Rik Keller

          Rather than reading Levine’s research–which is the most comprehensive study on the topic, builds on similar findings from many other studies, and has looked at the real-world performance for decades of these types of research business parks in 55 areas across the U.S.–you could watch this video from 2013: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuTsUF2xPZc

          Pay special attention to the end when he breaks down the neoliberal interests who push these types of proposal and (and who have co-opted university presidents in the process–we see the same dynamic playing out here in Davis):

          “I’d like to least spend a couple minutes outlining for you… a rent-seeking coalition that is individuals who in economics terms want to establish a regulatory framework or a policy framework in which they can rather than generating true value extract rent from policies.
          And there is I think a rent-seeking coalition that makes the university the entrepreneurial University of very powerful of force indeed a certain ideological contagion is like as I call it from research commercialization:
           *first of all there are obvious promoters and lobbyists people who make money from this the association of university technology managers people who work in tech transfer offices across universities;  
           * the association of university research parks: they have a vested interest in saying these are major economic development benefits so tech transfer managers and administrators university administrators increasingly make their careers as economic development managers
          * presidents and chancellors: there are now vice chancellors for economic development actually at most universities in the United States
          * part of the coalition are clearly entrepreneurial scientists.  people saw that Boyer and Coen made millions from Genentech and that scientists can in fact score big big big amounts of money
          * regional corporate leadership which pushes the so-called alignment of the entrepreneurial university with a regional economy pushing it not only in terms of research but also in terms of curriculum and the like
          * and then a larger group of players that are sort of fairly obvious the biotech and big pharma industry that can get highly subsidized research from the universities patent lawyers who make a lot of those fees that cost tech transfer offices over a million dollars a year
          * and politicians who want to claim credit for what they call ‘economic development”
          you have a situation where the evidence is fairly overwhelming that the entrepreneurial University doesn’t promote the benefits that are purported  that it does have substantial costs to local communities but there is an  unstoppable coalition…”

          1. Don Shor

            I’ve looked at some of the research that you’ve posted by Dr. Levine, and I keep wondering:
            — is he mainstream, or more of an outlier, in the general field of urban planning with respect to economic development?
            — does he have examples of economic development strategies that have worked?
            — does his research have direct relevance to a city like Davis? He seems more focused on redevelopment projects in true urban core areas.
            Nobody is proposing a taxpayer subsidized development. This isn’t like those sports arena boondoggles, nor is it a major redevelopment scheme using subsidies, nor is anyone proposing tax breaks for the developers. So while I get your ongoing point that it is possibly being oversold, I don’t see how this project loses money for the city.
            I am also getting tired of terms like “neoliberal” which have pretty much lost all meaning at this point. Some people support growth for its own sake, others oppose it reflexively. Let’s hope that this discussion focuses more on those who want the facts and analysis and don’t need the pejoratives.

        3. Ron Oertel

          Rik:   ” . . . but there is an unstoppable coalition…”

          We’ll see about that . . . 😉

          Seems to me that quite a few development proposals have been “stopped” – and not just in Davis.

        4. Craig Ross

          Don, Levine is basically like a Rik Keller in his field.  He’s on the outside, looking in.  The reality is that if it were PROVEN that innovation districts and innovation centers and research parks were losing propositions, you wouldn’t see billions in investment going into it.

        5. Rik Keller

          Don Shor stated “I’ve looked at some of the research that you’ve posted by Dr. Levine, and I keep wondering:
          — is he mainstream, or more of an outlier, in the general field of urban planning with respect to economic development?”

          His is the most comprehensive study on the subject to date. He cites numerous previous studies that his research builds on and confirms

          “does he have examples of economic development strategies that have worked?”

          Yes. But he is quick to caution that there are no easy panaceas

          “— does his research have direct relevance to a city like Davis? He seems more focused on redevelopment projects in true urban core areas.”

          I would not say he is focused on that at all. He has looked at the full-range of research parks, including older. peripheral suburban style model that has been around for decades (and which has been proposed in MRIC/ARC), as well as newer types of forms such as redevelopment within urban cores that people are trying to brand as “innovation districts”.

          “Nobody is proposing a taxpayer subsidized development. This isn’t like those sports arena boondoggles, nor is it a major redevelopment scheme using subsidies, nor is anyone proposing tax breaks for the developers. So while I get your ongoing point that it is possibly being oversold, I don’t see how this project loses money for the city.”

          The larger point is that even the subsidized projects are generally losers. Additionally, this MRIC/ARC project is talking about “subsidizing” the development with housing, retail, and hotel (? this was part of the the EIR studies, not sure if the latest proposal includes it) uses. So to the extent that they obtain entitlement from the City of those non-related uses, they are being subsidized in a way. The “innovation center” marketing is just a Trojan horse to get other types of development.

          Another larger point is that these types of research parks don’t actually provide economic development benefits.

          “I am also getting tired of terms like “neoliberal” which have pretty much lost all meaning at this point. Some people support growth for its own sake, others oppose it reflexively. Let’s hope that this discussion focuses more on those who want the facts and analysis and don’t need the pejoratives.”

          You should listen to Levine. He uses the term neoliberal very precisely and in direct reference to the large centers of power and money that push these types of projects.

        6. Alan Miller

          What fundamental economic conditions and principles have changed since this research was done?

          Answer:  “Innovation Parks” became the “hip” term for “Business Parks”.  To fool stupid people.

  8. Alan Miller

    What we have learned definitively through our earlier and more recent outreach efforts is that the inclusive campus model – a component of which is workforce housing – is essential for the success of a modern center.”

    They probably also learned that ‘workforce’ housing is essential for profits.

    And by the way ‘workforce’ is just another way to convince stupid people to vote J/R-wise for something that is not ‘housing’, but because it is specific to a ‘group’, it is ‘special’ and therefore one can vote for it.  Like puppies, children, the elderly . . .

    But lest I sound like I am against it, I am not, I am just cynical about obvious ploys.

    In fact, I am much more likely to vote for a project at this site with housing than one without (just business park I would almost certainly vote against here).  I do not agree with the ‘no housing’ crowd.  We need housing.  Not ‘workforce’, or ‘affordable’ or ‘student’.  Just STOCK.

    Despite my cynicism about ‘shuttles’ as a transportation solution that isn’t just ‘feel good’ (because sans a high-volume draw, many run near-empty), a contracted express Unitrans or Yolo bus route from MRIC down 2nd,3rd,H to Amtrak, through downtown and terminating at the UCD Silo could have enough draw to be useful.

    1. Matt Williams

      Alan, one of the ways to improve the chances that “workforce housing” actually is a reality rather than just a slogan is if the site plan distributes/intersperses the housing throughout the site in close proximity to the jobs.  If the housing is clustered/massed together as a single neighborhood, then the chances that the housing buyers are actually part of the local workforce are greatly reduced.  A neighborhood of clustered/massed housing to the east of Mace is essentially no different than the Alhambra/Mace Ranch neighborhoods to the west of Mace … and will no doubt be attractive to the same kinds of buyers those existing neighborhoods attract.

      Another way to actually achieve workforce housing is to follow the advice of former Planning Commissioner Rob Hoffman, and follow a housing strategy of “affordability by size” that will appeal to the age demographic that fits Ash Feeney’s description “the City is brimming with human capital and talent” as well as the current and future needs articulated by the tech industry experts and executives the Project Team met with over the past 24 months.

      A third way to actually achieve workforce housing is to align the approval of building permits with the announcement of actual incremental jobs creation.

    2. Todd Edelman

      Alan said: Transportation solution

      E-bikes, buses of any type – even a train stop on a semi-distant future Capitol Corridor-owned and operated service – will have limited use if there is any significant parking here, “free” or by fee by anyone who owns cars.  Fee’d parking is of limited effectiveness if it’s priced low and car owners have free parking on the other end. (UC Davis under-graduates have free bus rides, many have reasonably good bicycle access, some live on campus, many visitors don’t own cars… and parking is very expensive and limited for internal journeys. This is why campus access generally works okay.)

      “MRIC” can’t be expected to solve all local and regional transportation problems on its own – curious what they are offering regarding 32A and Mace – but it should not add to them AT ALL, at least in terms of automobile use. We can hope all we want that people will use “alternative methods” to get there, but they will not do this is great numbers unless all the other normally-grouped alternatives are mandatory. Obviously this has to include significant restrictions on existing private lots in the area.

        1. Todd Edelman

          In regards to:

          e-bikes

          + Good connections inside Davis could make it an easy choice, including a zippy one from Davis Depot.

          + The planned-by-Caltrans new bike path on the Causeway etc – if optimized for Type 3 28-mph assist e-bikes – would be a good option – within the mandates – for many at least from West Sacramento and western Sacramento.

        2. Ron Oertel

          Todd:  The number of planned parking spaces at MRIC/Aggie Research Campus should provide some insight, regarding the degree to which it would be dependent upon both inbound and outbound automobile commuters.

        3. Craig Ross

          The nice thing is that with the EIR certified, unless they decide to do a new EIR, they are going to be held to the standards set forth in the current one.  As mentioned below, the key thing are alternative programs and they want to set parking fees high enough to incentivize alternative transportation (or living on site).

           

          Prior to issuance of the first building permit in the first phase of development, the applicant shall develop a TDM program for the entire proposed project, including any anticipated phasing, and shall submit the TDM program to the City Department of Public Works for review and approval. The TDM program must be designed to achieve the following:

          1. Reduce trips to achieve one and five-tenths (1.5) Average Vehicle Ridership (AVR) in accordance with Davis Municipal Code Section 22.15.060; and

          2. Reduce daily and peak hour vehicle trips, as forecast for the project in this transportation impact assessment, by 10 percent for every project phase.

          The Master Owners’ Association (MOA) shall be responsible for implementing the TDM Program.

          (a) The MOA shall be responsible for funding and overseeing the delivery of trip reduction/TDM proposed programs and strategies to achieve the AVR objectives, which may include, but are not limited to, the following:

          (1) Establishment of carpool, buspool, or vanpool programs;

          (2) Vanpool purchase incentives;

          (3) Cash allowances, passes or other public transit

          subsidies and purchase incentives;

          (4) Low emission vehicle purchase incentives/subsidies;

          (5) Parking fees set at levels sufficient to incentivize

          alternative modes;

          Section 4.14 – Transportation and Circulation

          4.14 – 33

          (b) Single-phase development projects shall achieve TDM AVR objectives within five (5) years of issuance of any certificate of occupancy. Multi-phased projects shall achieve the objectives for each phase within three (3) years of the issuance of any certificate of occupancy.

          (c) In conjunction with final map approval, recorded codes, covenants and restrictions (CC&Rs) shall include provisions to guarantee adherence to the TDM objectives and perpetual operation of the TDM program regardless of property ownership, inform all subsequent property owners of the requirements imposed herein, and identify potential consequences of nonperformance.

          Full or partial parking subsidies for ridesharing vehicles;

          Preferential parking locations for ridesharing vehicles; Computerized commuter rideshare matching service; Guaranteed ride-home program for ridesharing; Alternativeworkweekandflex-timeschedules; Telecommuting or work-at-home programs;

          On-site lunch rooms/cafeterias;

          On-site commercial services such as banks, restaurants and small retail;

          On-sitedaycarefacilities;

          Bicycle programs including bike purchase incentives, storage, maintenance programs, and on-site education program;

          On-site car share and bike share service; Enhancements to Unitrans or Yolobus bus service;

          Enhancements to Capitol Corridor or future Regional Rail service;

          Enhancements to the citywide bicycle network; Dedicated employee housing located either on-site or

          elsewhere in the City of Davis;

          Designation of an on-site transportation coordinator for the project.

      1. Alan Miller

        if there is any significant parking here,

        There will be.  This is on the outskirts of town.  Most people will have cars.

        There will NEVER be a Capitol Corridor stop there.  Not even 10 generations from now.

  9. Matt Williams

    Assistant City Manager Ashley Feeney said, “As host City to a world-class university in UC Davis, the City is brimming with human capital and talent.

    As Dan Ramos explains in the letter, “Since placing the Project on hold, our team has continued to meet with tech industry experts and executives to ensure that we have a clear understanding of their current and future needs.”

    With the exception of the two quotes above, the information shared continues to sound a lot like strategic level “build it and they will come” messaging.  What I personally would like to see is more of a tactical focus on the current needs of the human capital and talent that is going to fill the jobs that will make up the “they will come” portion of the strategic message. Those jobs are what is needed in order to improve the fiscal situation Davis faces as a community.

    1. Ron Oertel

      Matt:  “Those jobs are what is needed in order to improve the fiscal situation Davis faces as a community.”

      Davis (and its adjacent UC) already has a net surplus of good jobs.  That’s why there’s a net inflow of commuters.

      1. Craig Ross

        It is not accurate to say there is a surplus.  You’re conflating live/ work arrangements with jobs.  What is accurate to say is that there are more jobs provided by the university than housing.

        1. Craig Ross

          That is a false statement.  They have more jobs at the university than houses in the town.  That is not a surplus.  There aren’t unclaimed jobs.

        2. Ron Oertel

          What? 

          Other than confirming the net surplus of jobs (which already exists, and already results in a net inflow of commuters from areas outside of Davis), do you have some relevant point to make?

          (Actually, your statement that there are literally more “jobs at the university than houses in town” makes no sense, either. Source for that?)

          1. Don Shor

            (Actually, your statement that there are literally more “jobs at the university than houses in town” makes no sense, either. Source for that?)

            Weirdly true, at least per Wikipedia:
            UCD has 28,411 employees
            City of Davis has 24,873 households.

        3. Ron Oertel

          Thanks, Don.

          Essentially confirming once again that there is already a surplus of jobs, compared to the number of Davis households.

          It seems that the availability of jobs is not the cause of Davis’ fiscal concerns. (Not to mention proximity to jobs in Sacramento.)

        4. Matt Williams

          Ron and Craig, the City and UCD are two different entities and two different tax jurisdictions.

          The combined total of UC campus jobs and Davis jobs is anemic (for a world class research university host community) when compared to the number of Davis residents.

          For example:

          Ann Arbor, MI has a population of 114,000, with 47,000 households and 192,000 jobs

          Palo Alto, CA has a population of 67,000, with 27,000 households and 98,000 jobs

          Davis, CA has a population of 69,000, with 26,000 households and 35,000 jobs

          Boulder, CO has a population of 97,000, with 41,000 households and 94,000 jobs

          Ames, IA has a population of 67,000, with 25,000 households and 57,000 jobs

          Corvallis, OR has a population of 57,000, with 24,000 households and 44,000 jobs

          Further, the City, as a consequence of UCD’s large student enrollment business plan, is saddled with the local economic consequences of a predominant student demographic which has profound implications for its land use priorities, housing needs,  declining K-12 enrollment, purchasing and budgeting necessities, its permanent transient character, and its large proportion of unemployed and/or retired residents.  It is an unsustainable model as it currently exists.

      2. Rik Keller

        Ron O. : yes, the Davis area (including UCD) is a net importer of commuters. And according to SACOG the commute times to Davis are the longest in the region.

  10. Ron Oertel

    Oh, well.  Not unexpected, and will give me a purpose over the next few months.

    The fight will not be limited to the Vanguard.

    Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were legal challenges ahead.

    I guess we’ll see what type of fight the council wants to subject the city to.

  11. Rik Keller

    [What is needed is an] idea how research works. The study I quoted from cites numerous other studies that support the same conclusions. Economics haven’t changed.

    And MRIC/ARC is just a generic suburban peripheral business/office/research park tied to a university—a standard 70-year old idea, almost all of which have been historically in the red and underperform promises significantly.

    Levine’s research [clearly shows that].

    1. Mark West

      “The study I quoted from cites numerous other studies that support…”

      How many papers Dr. Levine cited when he wrote this report is not really relevant to understanding the validity of his conclusions. What would be relevant is how often this paper (and his work in general) has been cited by other researchers in the course of confirming and expanding upon the findings from this paper in the years since. If the conclusions of Dr. Levine have been confirmed and accepted by his colleagues in this field of study, then there should be numerous subsequent papers that demonstrate that he was correct. 

      I think Don’s 11:34 question above regarding Dr. Levine, gets to the heart of this point’

      “— is he mainstream, or more of an outlier, in the general field of urban planning with respect to economic development?”

       

      1. Rik Keller

        Mark West: Have you actually read his paper before commenting on it? Do you have any research that contradicts Levine’s findings or those central studies that he cites that his research both confirms and expands on?

        1. Mark West

          Rik –

          When I was in graduate school I listened to a presentation by one of the most highly respected researchers in his field explain his theory on the causative agent for a serious and at the time 100% fatal, disease. He had extensive citations of previous work that he based his approach on and he presented very impressive research results that supported his theory. A year or so later it was known from the work of others that he was wrong. Today, no one would need to go back to his original work to determine if he was correct or not because his peers, all experts in the field, did that for us.

          I am sure that Dr. Levine’s peers have done the same here. If his work is central to the current understanding by experts in the field then there will be copious examples demonstrating that fact. If not, there is no reason for any layperson to read the report, no matter how often you post the link.

        2. Rik Keller

          Mark West: I am sure you will post all of the studies that disprove Levine’s work and the extensive previous research that his study both extends and confirms. In the absence of that it’s time for you to actually read it rather than continue your conspiracy theorizing.

        3. Mark West

          “continue your conspiracy theorizing.”

          Not a conspiracy, Rik, it is called ‘peer review’ and it is the method that scientists of most ilks use to forward their communal understanding. If you were the expert you have claimed to be, I would not need to explain that to you.

          You appear to be a very thorough person based on your comments. If you had found more recent, appropriate citations that supported Dr. Levine’s conclusions, I have no doubt that you would have posted them here. The fact that you have not done so, speaks volumes.

          My conclusions, which I will be happy to change when presented with contradictory evidence, is that you have found one author who wrote a report that you desperately want to believe and you consequently dubbed him the preeminent expert because he agreed with you. That is a perfect example of what I was trained to view as ‘bad science.’

        4. Rik Keller

          Mark West: you really don’t understand how this works, do you? Levine’s research confirms and extends the findings of numerous previous studies that he cites. And his is the most through analysis of the subject to date.

          And in opposition, you offer nothing but a poor summary of his actual findings and vague insinuations that his study and all the previous ones by other scholars are wrong.

  12. Craig Ross

    We can go round and round about theoretical research from a decade ago, but let’s talk about Davis and reality.  Companies like Shilling Robotics are going to leave Davis if we don’t have space for them to expand – will that help or hurt Davis?  Agraquest left Davis five years ago, started their own innovation space in West Sac, did that help or hurt Davis?

    If we add space where companies move to with jobs, property taxes and sales tax – will that hurt Davis?  Rik Keller is trying to argue yes – I don’t want a bunch of cut and pastes, I want an explanation as to why why – what the harm mechanism is.  Thanks.

  13. Rik Keller

    Craig Ross said “we can round and round about theoretical research from 10 years ago…”

    Wrong. This is research on the real-world performance of actual developments just like the the one proposed. It is the most comprehensive study on the topic to date and both builds on and is supported by other large comprehensive studies. It analyzes the actual performance of these developments going back decades in almost 60 different regions across the country.

    1. Rik Keller

      If [you] had actually read Levine rather than trying to avoid discussing the findings, you would have found answers to your questions abut local “benefits,” including the fact that the numerous studies Levine cites found no correlation between these types of research parks and local economic benefit.

      For example: “Wallsten concluded that establishing a research park has no net impact on
      job growth of the amount of venture capital attracted to the county. “While success
      stories do exist, the analysis suggests that successes are the exception rather than the
      rule. Thus, policies intended to promote cluster development by subsidizing science or
      research parks are unlikely to be effective” (Wallsten, 2004, 15). Wallsten’s findings
      confirm the assessment in Luger and Goldstein’s 1991 study…. ”

      And “No matter how large a research park may be, the
      underlying purpose of developing URPs is to generate regional economic dynamism
      outside the park – otherwise, URPs may simply function, at best, as subsidized
      “enclaves” of innovation, not “seedbeds” of economic development (Felsenstein, 1994).
      As Wallsten points out, “in order to generate economic growth, a science park would
      have to encourage firm growth that would not have happened without the park or
      generate spillovers that would otherwise be absent” (Wallsten, 2004, 5). Yet:

      Cities and research park organizations routinely count as “success” any
      firms or employment in the park, with no regard to whether that
      economic activity was new to the region or simply relocated into the
      park, and no analysis of whether that activity would have been likely to
      occur without the park. Moreover…the costs of the park (many of which
      might be hidden, such as the opportunity cost of the land) are rarely
      calculated. In other words, cost-benefit analyses of research parks are
      likely to count as benefits any economic activity in the park regardless of
      whether it is, in fact, a net benefit, and ignore the costs altogether
      (Wallsten, 2004, 5).”

      And then there are the results of Levine’s own study of 55 regions that confirm the findings of this prior research. Before discussing this though, I’d recommend you actually read it. Marc V. Levine, The False Promise of the Entrepreneurial University, Center for Economic Development Publications, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee: https://dc.uwm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1025&context=ced_pubs

      1. Craig Ross

        2004 and before research. They were talking about a different world.  That’s part of my problem here.

        The other point is that Rik still not familiar enough with the local situation to answer my questions (and he can’t just Google them).

        The problem: without an innovation park or equivalently entitled land, we have no space for Agraquest and Schilling to remain here.

      2. Rik Keller

        [You] think that decades of research on the subject involving the real world performance of research/business parks–including the most comprehensive ever done on the subject somehow don’t apply locally. [You] don’t state what has changed in his theory that 2019 is somehow a “different world” of fundamental economics. In short, he will do anything other than actually address the subject and on;ly has personal insults to offer.

        (P.S. I have researched and written many economic (development) elements for local government general plans. And your qualifications to discuss this subject are…?)

        1. Rik Keller

          Craig Ross stated: “Appeal to authority is fallacious reasoning.”

          You just demonstrated that you are uninformed about economic development AND logical argumentation.

          “You’ve still not answered my locally based questions.” I did, you just chose to ignore the answers. Davis is not special: The same economics apply here as elsewhere..

        2. Rik Keller

          Craig: you continue to desperately try to ignore what the foremost experts in this topic say based on mountains of research and evidence. And you compound your error by misunderstanding a premise of logical reasoning to justify your lack of engagement in the actual evidence and studies are of the topic.

           

        3. Craig Ross

          And what I’m saying is I don’t accept your premise that he’s a foremost expert and that research on a dynamic and changing industry from ten years is controlling

        4. Rik Keller

          Not only is Levine one of the foremost  experts in this subject, but his research cites and confirms the findings of previous studies that are some of the most comprehensive around.

          Your notion that it is a fallacious “appeal to authority” to cite this research is a misunderstanding and contortion  of the term.

          It’s time for you to offer actual counter evidence to these studies.

        5. Craig Ross

          Moreover, Levine’s influence seems limited to a small group of researchers that oppose innovation centers and he’s rarely if ever mentioned outside that group.

          On what basis do you conclude that?

          I find it interesting that you claim his 2009 study is definitive, and yet most of the biggest and most successful innovation centers post-date his study.

          I would consider Bruce Katz to be one of the foremost experts and his work never cites Levine.

          I have asked you questions and you’ve punted on them.  I don’t need to offer anything as you’re the one claiming knowledge on economic development that is somehow authoritative.

        6. Rik Keller

          Craig Ross said “I don’t need to offer anything..”

          And you haven’t offered anything besides an attempt to avoid discussing the central studies on research/business parks.  And as far as the “innovation center” catchphrase,  that is merely marketing lingo intended to dress up his same, tired product that has existed since the 1950s and for which we now have decades of performance data on.

        7. Craig Ross

          Rik – you didn’t address my point which had nothing to do with innovation centers and had a lot to do with the your claim about Levine when it’s not clear to me that he’s a leader in his field.  Especially now.

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