Council to Approve Environmental Analysis for Olive Drive Mixed-Use Project

Mixed-Use Project Features 76 Small Single-Bedroom Apartments and Low Automobile Users

In a consent item for this week, council is asked to approve a resolution that would authorize Raney Planning to provide an environmental analysis for a mixed-use project located on Olive Drive on five parcels from 1031 to 1055 Olive Drive.

Currently four of those parcels contain a single-family dwelling while one has an operating auto body repair shop.

According to the staff report, the project would demolish the existing dwellings and structures, merge the five lots into a single parcel, and redevelop it into a mixed-use project with both residential and commercial.

The project proposes to create roughly 76 single-bedroom apartment units of approximately 425 square feet to provide workforce housing.  The applicant is proposing to provide 28 percent low-income units.

According to documents submitted by the applicant in August 2019, “The genesis of this project came from the recognition of two glaring realities; first, there are very, very few housing opportunities for the City’s non-professional workforce, and secondly, there are no such opportunities being constructed or considered.”

They add, “There are many reasons for this including the extremely high cost of developable real estate in Davis, and the obligation to provide a significant affordable component to be included with all for-rent projects. With this project the applicants hope to provide a source of workforce housing opportunities and, by design, an affordable attractive product.”

Seventy-two of the units would be located in four three-story buildings – 18 units per building.  The ground floor units “would be designed to permit flexing to a compatible commercial or home-occupation use over time.”

In addition, a separate building of two stories would also provide 1100 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor with four apartment units on the second floor.

According to the staff report, the five buildings would also be connected via footbridge for ease of access.

They would also have a 650-square-foot bike-barn, accommodating 76 bicycles as well as outdoor areas for gathering with amenities such as seating and barbecues.

The city staff report notes: “Nine parking spaces would be provided on site. Four of the spaces would be retained for exclusive use by the commercial building, with the remaining available at a fee to those residents who chose to utilize a private vehicle. Residential rental agreements would prohibit vehicles for residents without a reserved fee parking space to ensure that overflow parking issue would not impact the surrounding neighborhoods.”

As the project proposal describes: “It is expected the units will be rented by downtown workers, UC Davis employees, senior citizens, those living on a fixed income, and possibly some students.”

They note: “The key to this is to (reduce) the number of residential parking space from 72 (according to city code) down to just five (or nine) in order to cater the project to downtown workers, UC Davis employees, senior citizens and others living on a fixed income that have chosen not to own cars and to instead to generally utilize bicycles and public transit within the City.”

They write: “Considering the location, this property is in an ideal location to accommodate this segment of the population.”

The city staff report notes: “The project would provide areas to accommodate Zip Cars, ride-hailing spaces for taxi and ride-sharing service such as Lyft and Uber, and Jump Bikes to provide tenants access to bicycles.

“Other modes of transportation would be readily available to residents. The Amtrak train station and two Unitrans bus stops would be an approximate 5-minute walk from the site; the downtown core and UCD approximately 6-minute walk; and Cowell Boulevard Safeway and the Davis Food Co-op approximately 13-minute walk.”

They add, “The close proximity of goods and services to the site and alternative transportation options would eliminate the need for automobile use/ownership by tenants.”

In terms of the commercial space, the project description notes: “The commercial space will house the office for the apartment as well as a commercial space ideal for coffee or convenience store use.”

They add, “No specific commercial use is specified at this time, but the ground floor units can “flex” to commercial space if warranted.”

Staff is proposing to contract with Raney Planning for environmental analysis, as noted above.  They anticipate about five months to complete the review with a public review period for 30 days upon completion.

—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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36 Comments

  1. Ron Oertel

    This proposal seems to be (as usual), aimed at students. Simply labeling it as “workforce housing” does not mean that this moniker is accurate.

    What evidence is there that “workers” (who may not work nearby) would live there?  Are lower-income workers generally living without cars?

    In general, eliminating parking does not mean that residents won’t have cars.  The purpose of requiring a minimum number of parking spaces is to ensure that vehicles from new residents won’t overwhelm parking for existing/nearby neighborhoods and businesses.

    Requiring a minimum number of parking spaces is a form of mitigation, to address the direct impacts of a development proposal.

    1. Craig Ross

      When I first read this article, I said to myself, this is pretty dope.  I wonder how someone will oppose it.  Why is it so hard to by into the concept, if you have a car, this isn’t the place for you to live?  If you want a small place, and work nearby, this will be a good place to live.  Lots of UCD workers for instance.  Workforce housing.  We keep hearing that we need it, until something innovative is proposed that is.

      1. Ron Oertel

        The location and lack of parking ensures that students will primarily occupy it.  Again, I’d suggest just calling it what it actually is.

        In general, permanent UCD (non-professor) workers probably live out-of-town. And, will continue doing so.

        In general, I suspect that students are more willing to live without cars.  However, if parking is available anywhere nearby (e.g., on the “other side” of the bicycle/pedestrian overpass that will be built at some point), you can rest assured that some will take advantage of it.

        Davis will increasingly be a town in which developments aren’t required to offset their impacts. Instead, the costs and impacts will be shifted to existing residents and businesses.

        1. Rik Keller

          Ron O.: good question about the affordability. The City Staff Report states “ The City’s affordable housing requirement for the project would be 15% (5% low-income, 5% very-low income, and 5% extremely low income units). As an alternative, the applicant proposes to provide 28% low-income units.”

          However, the application itself stamp-dated August 7 states states 20 of the units will be Low and Moderate Income (28% of 72 units, or 26% of 76 units.)

          There is definitely something squirrelly going on when the Staff Report deceptively doesn’t even mention the Moderate Income units and instead states that they are all Low Income units.

          The project application is likewise being deceptive when it states that it  is providing “almost double the current number of affordable units required.”  It isn’t. The City has no current requirement for moderate income units, and the project is only providing 13-14% Low Income units,  with nothing in the ELI and VLI categories, so it is not meeting even the City’s highly-weakened “interim” affordable housing requirements .

           

        2. Craig Ross

          “ There is definitely something squirrelly going on …’

          For a guy who claims to be a land use expert, he doesn’t seem to understand process.  The project goes to environmental review.  It will at some point go to the social services commission to review the affordable plan.  Also given that the units are 465 sf, that would suggest that they are lower cost to start with.  But yeah, there’s something squirrelly going on before the project is evaluated by any commission.  Give me a break.

      2. Bill Marshall

        I wonder how someone will oppose it.

        Craig… Ron O has given you the answer… at least some of them… expect more from others…

        That said, at first glance, I think the proposal has more than a little merit…

        1. Ron Oertel

          Note that I didn’t actually state whether or not I oppose it.

          I objected to the “description” of the proposal (regarding who would occupy it), and any false assumption that eliminating on-site parking ensures that residents won’t park in nearby areas.  (Comment not limited to this proposal.)

          I’d like to know more about the “28 percent” Affordable units, though. Hopefully, not structured in the same manner as Nishi, for example.

      3. Bill Marshall

        Craig…

        Here’s the ‘real world of Davis’ thing:  propose parking @ ordinance levels, “bad”– promotes cars; propose minimum parking far below those standards, “bad” — not dealing with ‘reality’…

        We see comments to both effects on various proposals… “every way you look at it you lose” (S&G, ‘Mrs Robinson’, “the Graduate” nearly 50 years ago… prophetic)

        Coo-coo-cachoo…

        1. Ron Oertel

          In my opinion, some (primarily bicycle advocates) mistakenly believe that not providing parking spaces within a development “forces” new residents to do without cars.  I don’t believe that this strategy works, if there’s any viable options nearby (e.g., in nearby neighborhoods, etc.).  In other words, forcing the impacts of new developments onto existing residents and businesses.

          This strategy might work in a place like San Francisco, where it’s so challenging to park that some are willing to give up their cars, and rely upon services such as Uber. (Which, by the way, are still a form of “driving” – much to the chagrin of some bicycle advocates, I suspect.)

          This is generally less of an issue for campus housing, if it’s not immediately adjacent to neighborhoods.

          Seems strange that developers are so eager to build student housing in the city, but not on campus.  Probably not as much potential profit in campus housing. (Or, perhaps they’re afraid that UCD will exert influence regarding keeping rental prices in check in the long run – on land that they own.)

          1. Don Shor

            Seems strange that developers are so eager to build student housing in the city, but not on campus. Probably not as much potential profit in campus housing. (Or, perhaps they’re afraid that UCD will exert influence regarding keeping rental prices in check in the long run – on land that they own.)

            This whole paragraph makes basically no sense.
            It’s not student housing.
            UCD chooses who builds housing for them.
            UCD is not showing any inclination to try to control housing prices.
            UCD is building a lot of housing. Just drive down Russell Blvd. and look to the south.

    2. Rik Keller

      Ron O.: the Staff Report states that “Residential rental agreements would prohibit vehicles for residents without a reserved fee parking space to ensure that overflow parking issue would not impact the surrounding neighborhoods.”

      Note also that they are proposing only 5 parking spaces that would be reserved for the 72/76 units.

      So, apparently, unless they were one of the five, someone would have to sign an agreement stating that they don’t own a car in order to rent an apartment. This seems both highly intrusive  and unenforceable. It’s a pretty radical step. I’m all for reduced car use, and increased reliance on transit, bikes, and walking. But this just seems like magical and naive thinking. Where are the other projects where this kind of scheme has actually worked and hasn’t merely just impacted other surrounding areas for parking needs?

      Note also that, in spite of almost entirely eliminating car parking, the project has not increased bicycle parking capacity beyond minimum City Code requirements.

    3. Josh Pollich

      There already are plenty of people living in Davis for whom this project would be great. The most recent ACS census data from last year says that there are about 2,600 households in Davis with the following characteristics (https://censusreporter.org/data/table/?table=B19037&geo_ids=16000US0618100&primary_geo_id=16000US0618100#valueType|estimate):

       

      * total household income < $70k

      * age of the head of household 25-44

       

      That is to say, there are at least 2600 people *already living in Davis* who are real adults over 25 but who can’t afford the crazy real estate market here.

       

      To ignore them and say “pwfaa, this is just for students” is pretty quintessentially Davis but also unfair and unjust.

      1. Rik Keller

        Josh: how many of those “real adult” households currently don’t own a car or are willing to sell their car(s) to be able to move into the proposed project? How many only have one bike per household or are willing to sell their other bikes? Your potential pool suddenly became dramatically smaller.

      2. Alan Miller

        there are at least 2600 people *already living in Davis* who are real adults over 25 but who can’t afford the crazy real estate market here.

        Yo!  I hate to point this out, but if they are already living in Davis, how do you figure they can’t afford the “crazy real estate market” here?  Clearly, they are, or they wouldn’t be here.

        1. Don Shor

          Yo! I hate to point this out, but if they are already living in Davis, how do you figure they can’t afford the “crazy real estate market” here? Clearly, they are, or they wouldn’t be here.

          Yo! People do things they can’t afford all the time. It’s what keeps them in debt. Do you know people who rented a place they could barely afford, then the rent kept going up, but they basically couldn’t really afford to move or find a place that was any better cost-wise? I do.
          Someone being less pedantic would probably understand that using the phrase “can’t afford” means that they are operating from limited choices and are accepting housing that costs more than is considered a reasonable percentage of their income. I have watched people move in and out of this market as they try to balance the costs of commuting against the rising costs of housing.

    4. Rik Keller

      Ron O.: you’ll “love” this: most of the property is currently zoned C-S Commercial  Services, with a small portion RMD Residential Medium Density (4.2-10 units/net acre). The project is proposing to re-zone with a tiny amount of “mixed use” commercial (at 3% of total floor area), and an extremely dense residential component (at about 89 units/gross site area acreage). Another example of rezoning commercial land for student apartments.

      1. Don Shor

        Another example of rezoning commercial land for student apartments.

        Four of the five parcels are occupied by single family homes. Properties on two sides are occupied by mobile home parks. As far as I can tell, the zoning for that whole section of Olive Drive is “Gateway Specific Plan.” I remember the whole process that went into that plan, and the goal was flexible zoning with consideration of preserving the lower-cost housing options already present.

        1. Bill Marshall

          Don… thanks for the factual info… but realize there are sub-areas within the Gateway/Olive Drive Specific Plan (with more specific designations)… and, you are correct that it was set up to be flexible.

        2. Rik Keller

          Don Shor: you are wrong. The General Plan designation is “Olive Drive/ Gateway Specific Plan” and the zoning districts are exactly as I have described—as shown in the Olive Drive/ Gateway Specific Plan itself (dated July 2018) and as also listed in the application for the project posted on the City website yesterday.

          You should probably learn the difference between a General Plsn land use designation map and a zoning district map before you comment on planning issues.

        3. Don Shor

          Rik:

          The General Plan designation is “Olive Drive/ Gateway Specific Plan” and the zoning districts are exactly as I have described

           

          You are correct. Page 32 below. Why they included existing residential sites in a commercial district, I don’t know. But that is what was done.

        4. Bill Marshall

          And Rik K, you are misleading… the Gateway/Olive Drive Specific Plan, (dated July 2018) is actually “as has been amended from time to time”… as has the General Plan… and has been the Constitution of the United States…

          The G/OD Specific Plan did not come from Mount Sinai…  not written in stone… a guideline/intent, at the time it was written, adopted, and subsequently amended…

          But, as a “planning professional”, you know all that, right?

  2. Ron Oertel

    Rik:  Josh: how many of those “real adult” households currently don’t own a car or are willing to sell their car(s) to be able to move into the proposed project? How many only have one bike per household or are willing to sell their other bikes? Your potential pool suddenly became dramatically smaller.

    Ron O.: you’ll “love” this: most of the property is currently zoned C-S Commercial  Services, with a small portion RMD Residential Medium Density (4.2-10 units/net acre). The project is proposing to re-zone with a tiny amount of “mixed use” commercial (at 3% of total floor area), and an extremely dense residential component (at about 89 units/gross site area acreage). Another example of rezoning commercial land for student apartments.

    Don to Rik:  You are correct. Page 32 below. Why they included existing residential sites in a commercial district, I don’t know. But that is what was done.

    As usual, Rik provides the “rest of the story”.  The part that the Vanguard doesn’t cover, and/or – tries to gloss over.

    I’m still curious regarding the Affordable housing component, and whether or not it will be anything like Nishi. (Same question would apply regarding the University Mall redevelopment.)

     

     

    1. Rik Keller

      Ron: thanks! Part of the “rest of the story” is that the Vanguard will treat any criticism of any project as evidence for a ludicrous strawman argument that “some people will object to anything”.

  3. Ron Oertel

    Rik:  “So, apparently, unless they were one of the five, someone would have to sign an agreement stating that they don’t own a car in order to rent an apartment. This seems both highly intrusive and unenforceable.”

    I wonder if this would even hold up under legal examination/challenge.

    The city (once again) has this as a “consent item”?

  4. Alan Miller

    Nine parking spaces would be provided on site.

    For the nine residents . . .

    Four of the spaces would be retained for exclusive use by the commercial building,

    That will be one hopping commercial building . . .

    with the remaining available at a fee to those residents who chose to utilize a private vehicle.

    Will the apartment rent or the vehicle fee be higher?

    Residential rental agreements would prohibit vehicles for residents without a reserved fee parking space to ensure that overflow parking issue would not impact the surrounding neighborhoods.

    What surrounding neighborhoods?  Olive Drive is kinda hemmed in.

    Prohibit vehicles?  I don’t think that’s legal.  You can tell people they can’t keep their vehicle on the property – but you can’t restrict someone from owning a vehicle, nor parking it legally.

    As the project proposal describes: “It is expected the units will be rented by downtown workers, UC Davis employees, senior citizens, those living on a fixed income, and possibly some students.”

    Possibly some students?  Possibly some commuters . . . forget about them?  Possibly you can’t expect anything – you gets what you gets.

    They note: “The key to this is to (reduce) the number of residential parking space from 72 (according to city code) down to just five (or nine) in order to . . .

    Let me guess . . . in order to . . . allow the developers to make more money by not having those pesky, non-rent-earning, automobile storage money sinks.

    Is everyone forgetting visitors?  Even if they don’t have cars, their visitors will have cars.  There is no place nearby on Olive Drive for cars.  It’s not even a matter of where will they park — there just isn’t any place.

    “Other modes of transportation would be readily available to residents. The Amtrak train station and two Unitrans bus stops would be an approximate 5-minute walk from the site; the downtown core and UCD approximately 6-minute walk; and Cowell Boulevard Safeway and the Davis Food Co-op approximately 13-minute walk.”

    And all requiring either crossing Richard’s twice, as per today, or crossing a freeway, no great fun 13-minute walk.

    They add, “The close proximity of goods and services to the site and alternative transportation options would eliminate the need for automobile use/ownership by tenants.”

    Most especially the Olive Drive market, the Shell gas convenience store, and In-n-Out.  Goods and Services!

    In terms of the commercial space, the project description notes: “The commercial space will house the office for the apartment as well as a commercial space ideal for coffee or convenience store use.”

    A convenience store should do great — across from a convenience store that has parking.

    1. Ron Oertel

       There is no place nearby on Olive Drive for cars.  It’s not even a matter of where will they park — there just isn’t any place.

      They will “find” parking within walking distance.  Even more easily, after the bicycle/pedestrian overpass is built, to connect with downtown.

      Davis is still not among the most challenging places to find parking, although the powers that be are “working toward that goal”.

    1. Rik Keller

      Ron G. asked “Will they build a zip line into downtown?” If they do, that would explain the highly, er, “optimistic” walking times provided in the application materials: “10 minutes” walk  to the Davis Food Coop, that is actually listed as 0.8 miles and 19 minutes in mapping apps. Maybe there is a zipline to the Safeway on Cowell too that accounts for the 0.9 mi. walk only taking 10 minutes like they say, instead of 21 minutes.

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