Sunflowers over Aggie Research Campus (ARC) site
When the council approved certification of the EIR for the Mace Ranch Innovation Center (MRIC) in the fall of 2017, all sides understood that if the project came back with changes in the future, it could trigger the need for a new EIR.
Right now the city council is looking at about $239 thousand in costs for a Supplemental EIR (SEIR) with a CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) Addendum. (Those costs will be born by the applicant).
According to the staff report, “The total cost will cover the impact evaluation of the changed conditions on all sections of the 2017 EIR, including but not limited to traffic, air quality, greenhouse gases, health risk assessment, noise, and biology.”
The original EIR included a mixed-use alternative and the applicant team “has chosen the mixed-use alternative as the version of the project to be brought before the decision-makers for their consideration.”
When the mixed-use version was evaluated, it was done so “at a level equal to that of the proposed project.”
The mixed-use alternative was an equal weight analysis and “provided the same non-residential square footage and land uses as the proposed MRIC project, but included up to 850 residential units intended to support the innovation center’s employee-generated demand for housing, residential and retail square footage of 324,162 square feet, not including the parking structure, results in a floor area ratio of 0.90.”
The current proposal, ARC, according to staff, “is in substantial conformance with the Mixed-Use Alternative version evaluated in the 2017 certified EIR. Relatively minor differences consist of eliminating the City-owned 25-acre parcel from the proposed development area, although this property would still be included in the proposed annexation limits.
“The proposed 194-acre research campus would consist of 36.7-acres of research and development offices and retail uses, 65.2-acres of research and development manufacturing offices, as well as approximately 850 mixed-use units on 27.4-acres. The project would also include 10.9 acres dedicated to a park and greenway, as well as 22.6 acres of agricultural buffer along the perimeter of the site consisting of multi-use trails and greenways.”
There some minor differences which “consist of revisions to the on-site infrastructure and roadways to improve circulation within the project site.”
As was originally the case, “the proposed mixed-use alternative would still include annexation of the ‘Mace Triangle’ area, south of CR 32A, to avoid creation of a County island, upon annexation of the ARC.”
Mace Triangle consists of three parcels which include 16.48 acres located to the southwest of the ARC site and north of I-80.
The new SEIR “will be evaluating the impact of changed conditions on all sections of the 2017 EIR, including but not limited to air quality, greenhouse gases, health risk assessment, noise, and biology.”
The city is proposing to bring back Raney Planning & Management, which prepared the original EIR in 2017, arguing they are “the best fit to prepare” the SEIR for the current project. Staff notes, “Raney is well qualified and has experience preparing EIRs in Davis. Additionally, they are already familiar with the project as the contract planning staff managing the original Mace Ranch Innovation Center EIR.”
They would cover the impact evaluation on changed conditions for all sections of the EIR “including but not limited to traffic, air quality, greenhouse gases, health risk assessment, noise, and biology.”
The big factor of course is going to be the traffic analysis. There are only relatively minor changes to the project itself.
However, staff writes, “Based upon Fehr & Peers’ preliminary analysis of the traffic count data included in the MRIC EIR and more recent counts conducted on key roadway segments serving the project, it is Fehr & Peers substantial increase in the severity of significant impacts previously identified in the MRIC EIR.”
As such, Raney believes that a Supplement rather than an Addendum would be the appropriate CEQA document, “given that the ARC project would likely necessitate minor changes to the overall analysis contained in the MRIC EIR.”
The city has contracted with Fehr & Peers looking at a traffic analysis over the next eight to 12 weeks. They will be looking to update existing transportation conditions as previously documented in the MRIC DEIR from August 2015. Fehr & Peers will compile weekday morning (7 to 9 AM) and evening (4 to 6 PM) peak period vehicle turning movements at 22 intersections previously studied.
Upon completion of the analysis by the CEQA consultant, the draft CEQA analysis will be circulated for review and final draft considered by the Planning Commission and City Council concurrently with the requested project entitlements.
—David M. Greenwald reporting