Coming out of closed session on Tuesday, Mayor Brett Lee announced the city had “filed a notice of appeal in the Trackside case.” He added that “the cost of the appeal will be borne by the Trackside applicants.” The appeal was filed on the morning of July 30 and challenges a recent ruling by Yolo County Judge Sam McAdam.
“The legal action, filed by Trackside Center, LLC, effectively asks the Court of Appeal to overturn the recent ruling by Judge Samuel McAdam which directed the City of Davis to rescind all approvals granted for the redevelopment of an infill site at 901-919 Third Street (aka Trackside Center) in the Core Area of Davis,” the Trackside Center group said Wednesday in a press release.
Trackside Center, LLC, is represented by Sacramento law firm Taylor & Wiley.
Kemble K. Pope, a managing member of Trackside Center, LLC, said in the press release, “We remain committed to this project which will create much-needed housing and retail space in Downtown Davis, just a block from our Amtrak Transit Station.”
He continued, “When construction is complete, we’ll be happy to welcome 27 new households to a beautifully designed building that will set a new standard for high-quality infill redevelopment in our community.”
Mr. Pope added, “We’re confident that the Court of Appeal will overturn the lower court, uphold the City’s approval of the project, and confirm that the City Council is the final expert on interpreting and applying their own planning documents.”
The release indicated that they believe “the Court of Appeal will rule in their favor and defer to the judgment of the City Council.”
They note that they are “encouraged” by a recent ruling from July 3 by the Third District Court of Appeal, in the case of Sacramentans for Fair Planning vs. City of Sacramento. This project involved a similar infill housing case.
In that case, the court ruled, “We give substantial deference to the City’s determination that the project is consistent with the general plan. Courts accord great deference to a local agency’s determination of consistency with its own general plan, recognizing that the body which adopted the general plan policies…has unique capacity to interpret those policies when applying them…”
In May, Judge Sam McAdam stuck with his original ruling despite a strong push by attorneys for the city and real party of interest, Trackside, to get him to reconsider at a hearing in mid-April.
In a 22-page ruling by Judge McAdam, the Court stated, “Based on the totality of circumstances and a review of the entire record, it is the conclusion of this Court that Trackside is not consistent with the City of Davis planning provisions governing the transition between the Core Area and to the Old East Davis neighborhood.”
The ruling goes on to conclude that, while the City made “a compelling case” for a mixed-use, residential development, the Court believes that “the mass and scale of the project is not reasonable.”
As Judge McAdam put it, “the failure here is that the mass and scale of the proposed project is not reasonable under the current law and factual circumstances. There simply is not a logical and reasoned case to be made that Trackside is a ‘transition’ from the Core Area to the Old East Davis neighborhood. Trackside would overwhelm the existing residential neighborhood. It would not respect the traditional scale and character of the neighborhood. The record lacks evidentiary support for the City’s decision.”
The judge also stated that “it follows that the SB 375 Sustainable Community Environmental Assessment conducted by the City was inadequate.” Judge McAdam writes, “The SCEA/IS did not properly assess the project inconsistency with the General Plan and related planning provisions.”
As a result, the city was directed to rescind all approvals associated with the project.
—David M. Greenwald reporting