ARC Scoping Meeting Grows Testy

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The city of Davis and its consultants maintain that they were not required to hold a scoping meeting for the Aggie Research Campus – however, given feedback from some sectors in the community, they agreed to hold a scoping meeting ahead of what will be a supplemental EIR which comes with its own 45-day comment period.

The city is looking at analyzing changed conditions, especially traffic on Mace for which it is conducting a new traffic study that should take one to two months to complete.

If the city did not have to hold this meeting, the meeting largely turned into a vehicle for some of the more vocal critics of the project to express their dislike and ask some pointed questions.

Nick Pappani, a representative from Raney Management, who is conducting the environmental review, noted that the city in 2017 certified an EIR where it looked at both a main project and a mixed-use alternative with an equal weight analysis.

“The mixed-use alternative was evaluated at the same level of detail as the proposed project,” he said.  “The current Aggie Research Campus project is very similar to the mixed-use alternative.”

He explained that because they have a certified EIR they will look at the issue of “how has the project changed and would those changes result in significant impacts to the environment that were not previously addressed.”

Nick Pappani of Raney Planning and Management gives a brief talk on Monday

The second question, Mr. Pappani said, is “how have the changes in circumstances since the original project was conducted and certified by the city.

“This isn’t an entirely new analysis,” he explained.  Changed circumstance and what they should be looking at.  “That’s really the focus of the comments we’re looking to get tonight.”

In a letter to the city, posted on the city’s site, the applicants noted a few changes.

“ARC excludes the City’s ±25-acre parcel (APN 33-650-026) in the northwest corner. The City parcel will retain its agricultural land use designation and zoning,” the applicant writes.  The overall acreage is thus reduced to 187 acres.  “6.8-acres of the City parcel is proposed with an easement to be improved and utilized as an Agricultural Buffer.”

The letter also notes that the parking ratios are reduced from the original proposal down to 4340 parking stalls:“This is less than the City municipal code standard and reflects changing travel patterns.”

Meanwhile, with a reduced footprint that increases the floor area ratio (FAR) from .82 at MRIC to .93 at ARC.

At the meeting, Matt Keasling, a land use attorney working for the applicants, explained that they had previously included the city’s 25 acres in the northwest corner of the project, he said, but “the decision now coming back in is that we no longer were going to pursue the land uses on the city’s 25 acres (and) it will stay as a general plan land use designation as agriculture.”

Matt Keasling presented the difference in the map between MRIC and ARC

The previous proposal was for offices or residential uses on the land.

Roberta Millstein interjected, saying “that’s not quite accurate… you are seeking to use part of that land for the ag buffer for the project.”

Matt Keasling responded, “We’re not looking to develop it.”

Colin Walsh added, “But you are including it in the project.”

Mr. Keasling noted that it is still included for annexation purposes, so the objective is to bring it into the city so the city annexes that property.”  He noted that it will not be part of the Measure R proposal since that only applies for changing land use designations.

As more questions came forward, Assistant City Manager Ashley Feeney directed that this meeting was largely an open house.

Colin Walsh interjected again, “I think the concern is that they presented information that wasn’t accurate.”

Mr. Keasling pointed out that he didn’t say anything that wasn’t accurate, as “we’re not proposing development on the 25.”

Ms. Millstein added, “You are proposing to use that 6.8 acres to satisfy the ordinance.”

Roberta Millstein raises objections

Mr. Keasling stated, “We don’t dispute that at all.”

Mr. Keasling said that all of the square footages in the MRIC are the square footages in the ARC.  “Our initial thinking is that the impacts are similar (but) less land involved (and) smaller footprint.  The analysis should be covered.”

But because the city was doing analysis on Mace south of the freeway, “there was an acknowledgement from everybody – the applicant as well as the city – that traffic on Mace has changed in the last four years.”

The question is what else has changed since the original analysis was completed in 2017.

After requests from some in the audience, the city agreed to allow for about ten minutes of questions.

Ashley Feeney pointed out that the city has not accepted anything relating to the 6.8 acres, “all the city has done has been to accept an application” and they are preparing a CEQA analysis to evaluate the proposal.  “There has been no agreement as it relates to the 25 acres, it is a project proposal that will be evaluated along with the overall project.”

One person asked, “Why is there such a short window for people to respond?”  They pointed out that they have until December 9 to have comments.  “That seems like an incredibly short period of time for people to get counseled, get legal letters written and environmental letters,” the woman said.

The city responded that this meeting was under the guise of the scoping meeting.  Sherri Metzker pointed out, “A scoping meeting has a very limited purpose – it’s main purpose is for you all to help us identify what the changed circumstances might be that are out there, that we have to take into consideration.”

She said, “This isn’t by any means the last time that the city’s members are going to have a chance to comment.”

She pointed out that they still have to do a 45-day circulation when they publish the EIR, then they have to respond to the comments and circulate that.

“We’re going to have the exact same thing happen again,” she said, noting the comment periods in the previous EIR rounds.

Colin Walsh interjected, “We’ve been told that what we’re doing here is optional, that what the city’s doing is optional…  Once you decided to do a NOP and to do the scoping, under what authority is the city not following the legal requirements for notice and for comment periods?”

Roberta Millstein added, “Are these typically 30 days?”  She argued, “We’ve been given a much shorter window.  In fact, the window has only been extended because some people asked for it to be extended.”

The Rainey representative pointed out, “There’s no legal requirement when you do a supplemental EIR to have a scoping meeting.”

Ashley Feeney added, “This meeting is being done to solicit some additional comment and also have an opportunity for people to voice things that they want the city to take into account for changed circumstances.”

He added that the city was well aware of changed circumstances around traffic.

Another area that was pointed out is there seems to be some discrepancy between the project description from Table 3-2 of the MRIC EIR and the comparison map put out this week by the city.

Table 3-2 of the MRIC EIR

—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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33 thoughts on “ARC Scoping Meeting Grows Testy”

    1. Rik Keller

      Ron G.: if you don’t care about the City doing a document dump at the very last second, and providing grossly inaccurate information straight from the developer without any kind of fact-checking or veering, then, sure, it’s “nothing”. [sarcasm] Why would Davisites need accurate information about project differences in order to comment on the proposed scope of an analysis of project differences? [/sarcasm]

       

  1. Rik Keller

    The information in the table shown in the article was posted by the City on into website at the end of the business day last Wednesday within an hour of them receiving it from the developer’s attorney. 

    The City has allowed the attorney representing the developer to provide inaccurate and misleading information directly to the public without vetting from the EIR consultant or, most importantly, the City itself.

    The “Land Use Comparison Table for ARC and MRIC” on the City website (and shown here) states that the MU Alt had and Agricultural Buffer of 20.1 acres and 22.6 acres in Parks and Greenways. However, this is false information and drastically understates what was actually in the Alt.

    The MRIC MU Alt actually had 55.7 acres classified as Parks & Greenways + a 20.1 acre ag buffer = 75.8 acre total parks/open space, which was 36% of total 212 acre site area

    The ARC proposal shows 15.1 ac Parks & Greenways + 13.6/22.6 acre ag buffer (depending on the document looked at–it appears that the lower number is the figure actually on the site itself) = 28.7 acres total parks/open space = 15% of the total 187 acre site area.

    The ARC project has about 2.5 times less open space/parks acreage than the MRIC MU Alt, but by presenting false information about what the MU Alt contained, the developer has tried to claim that they are close to being equivalent. The City is negligent in posting this information without vetting it and verifying its accuracy.

    The City also posted a table (received from the developer’s attorney) entitled  “Parking Comparison Table for ARC and MRIC” on the CIty website gives false information about what the City’s parking requirements are multiple times and thus provides a mistaken account of the actual parking required. The mistakes are so widespread that almost every single number in the table is wrong.
    [if the a Vanguard publishes this table, I will describe  each of the mistakes and false information in it] 

    Given all of these errors, a more realistic accounting of the number of parking spaces required by City Code in the MRIC MU Alt would be around 8,000 (or close to the 9,000 figure cited earlier)

    The proposal for the ARC for 4,340 parking space thus represents a figure that is about half of City requirements. However, there are no project changes from the MRIC MU Alt that would affect the parking demand.

    It is unclear whether the SEIR will update assumptions regarding travel demand/mode split and whether there is any data that would support halving the projected car traffic (and parking needs) to the site that were projected as 91% of all trips in the EIR. This looks more like an effort by the developer to try to keep the acreages/floor area  the same of the developed numbers the same while the site size was reduced by 25 acres, rather than a realistic assessment of parking needs. 

    In publishing this misinformation about the project, the City has breached the public trust and compromised the SEIR scoping process.

    1. Bill Marshall

      In publishing this misinformation about the project, the City has breached the public trust and compromised the SEIR scoping process.

      First, in the authors’ opinion… not a fact.   Second, can the author cite the legal basis for the highlighted term?  Don’t think one can find one in the CEQA code sections.  If not defined, it cannot be “compromised”.  Factually, at least.  Maybe by opinion, based on a false premise.

    1. Rik Keller

      Ron: I don’t know what you mean. The City-owned 25 acres is supposedly not part of the ARC proposal, but they are still trying to use a portion of it rather than do their required ag buffer in their own property.

      In the MRIC proposal, that 25 acres included mostly residential development. It wasn’t park land.

      The developers clearly thought they could get away with reducing the open space/parks land in the ARC proposal and no one would notice if they just flat-out lied in a comparison table

       

      1. Craig Ross

        The 25 acres is not part of the ARC development, but as they explained last night, per the article, that doesn’t mean it can’t be included as part of the mitigation – if the developers purchase it from the city.  Since they are required to do 400 acres (or just less), why are we making a big deal out of 6.8 acres?

      2. Rik Keller

        Ron G: the previous MRIC MU Alt proposal included 36% open space/parks, but the current ARC proposal only includes 15%:

        The MRIC MU Alt actually had 55.7 acres classified as Parks & Greenways + a 20.1 acre ag buffer = 75.8 acre total parks/open space, which was 36% of total 212 acre site area
        The ARC proposal shows 15.1 ac Parks & Greenways + 13.6/22.6 acre ag buffer (depending on the document looked at–it appears that the lower number is the figure actually on the site itself) = 28.7 acres total parks/open space = 15% of the total 187 acre site area.

        Another smaller issue seems to be that the developer is trying to claim 9 acres of the City’s 25 acres as on-site open space, thus inflating their tabulation.

        The bigger issue is that the developers’s attorney produced a table that is factually incorrect and is designed to claim that there are no significant differences between the MRIC MU Alt and the current ARC proposal. This deception has huge implications for the scope of the Supplemental EIR scope. It also has huge implications regarding the trustworthiness of the development team, as well as the City’s gullibility in not even attempting to verify the information.

         

         

  2. Alan Miller

    If the city did not have to hold this meeting, the meeting largely turned into a vehicle for some of the more vocal critics of the project to have a vehicle to express their dislike and ask some pointed questions.

    If ?

    1. Bill Marshall

      One of the most famous short quotes in history… “If”… as I recall from history, one king sent emissaries to another, who he was attacking… calling for unconditional surrender…the threat was along the lines of, “If you do not capitulate, if you resist, if I attack you, if you lose the battle, I will slaughter you and your people.”  The response back was “if”.  The respondent lost his life and his kingdom.  But a cool response… ‘last great act of defiance’.

      A bit off topic (above), but, the City was not required to re-scope, by law… but if they hadn’t chosen to, they would still be under attack… they re-scoped, and the attacks continue…

      If the City accepts and incorporates the comments, and diligently addresses them, it will be under attack for not doing a subsequent, or a total new EIR, and will still be under attack (some signs, already)…

      If the project proponents revise their plans to meet “concerns”, they will be attacked for not doing so in the first place.

      Am thinking that those opposing the project will be using any excuse to kill the project, and will do so… they seem to think they are the king (and/or the queen) in power, with the greater force.  And ‘righteously so’.

      And, the first step is to demand capitulation (withdrawal of the proposed project)… and if  they don’t succeed… well, history will see…

      I’ll await the new disclosure documents to opine and/or vote on the merits of the project, IF the strident opponents allow me that opportunity.  Am pretty sure they’d not want to get it to that point.

      [oh, my second most favorite quotes from history comes from ~ Christmas, 1944, when American soldiers were surrounded in the Battle of the Bulge, and the Germans demanded unconditional surrender… and the American commander’s response was “Nuts”]
       

  3. Alan Miller

    As more questions came forward, Assistant City Manager Ashley Feeney directed that this meeting was largely an open house.

    Directed?  Directed that . . . what exactly?  Follow the format and shut up, public?

    Alan C. Miller directs that open houses are stupid.  The most stupid of all the stupid was the I-80 meeting at the library last week.  Everyone I talked to fully agreed.  An empty shell waste of time, possibly a good time to chat with friends.

      1. Bill Marshall

        Huge, misleading, and inflammatory “typo”… are you back-pedalling?

        Hard to see that “directed” is a typo for “indicated”.  That dog don’t hunt.

  4. Alan Miller

    After requests from some in the audience, the city agreed to allow for about ten minutes of questions.

    Audience?  It was a tiny room, only a few chairs.   And how wonderfully sweet of the ‘city’ to ‘allow’ questions.

  5. Alan Miller

    I guess I missed all the . . . fun.  Thank the Lord.  When I got there just a few people were in the room and no ‘Testy’.  By the way, can you even use that word anymore in this gender-neutral PC political-McCarthy-but-uber-left society some are trying to create?  Isn’t that gender hatred, or discriminatory against testicles or . . . something?

    Anyway, my comments on the project were (roughly):

    1) Glad to hear a grade-separated bike crossing from the residential to the west side of Mace is in there.  I ‘directed’ 😉 😉 😉 that it be an underpass, as bikes and peds much prefer under-crossing and you don’t need as much vertical separation, so . . . people are more likely to use it.

    But I have to wonder . . . is it required, or will it be a promise-and-switch a la Cannery, where the (we thought) promised H Street tunnel connection actually could be abandoned . . . and the decent preferred alternative is also abandoned in favor of the piece-of-sh*t that the city recently opened that doesn’t do sh*t.  What a crock!  How do make sure THAT doesn’t happen again.  I am getting SO SICK of having understandings with the city that get changed last minute, accidently and/or without notice. I think I’m going to have all these understandings put in writing in the future and signed off by the City Attorney and every member of the Council, with punishment!

    2) And why this F-ing charade about the housing still in there?  The one where no housing is build until X amout of commercial is built, and then housing only built relative to the commercial?  What BS BS!  It seems this is to try to quell the anti-growthers, but it’s a stupid as they won’t be quelled by anything but a nuclear blast taking out the duck pond.  What duck pond?  F— if I know.

    But seriously, just build the damn housing first!  We need housing and we need it now, so build it.  F— the BS fantasy that it will be ‘workforce’ housing for the commercial buildings there.  That doesn’t happen except on the Disney Channel, and also on the Disney Channel, the heroes never kill the bad animated characters, they just grow tired in the final fight and the bad animal goes off a cliff.  And unlike the Roadrunner’s coyote, they don’t hover in place before they fall.

    I may very well not vote for this project if this BS delay-the-housing BS stays in the plan.  What a stupid attempt to pander to the unpanderable. 😐 :-{ 😐

  6. Rik Keller

    Finally! In this third article on the ARC EIR (first was on 11/8) the Vanguard finally mentions that meeting was added to the EIR schedule because of the demands from several Davisites in front of Council: “…however given feedback from some sectors in the community, they agreed to hold a scoping meeting ahead of what will be a supplemental EIR…”

    Note one of my comment on last week’s (11/27) article on the scoping meeting in the Vanguard:

    “At that time [11/5 Council meeting] the City Manager responded afterward staring that there would be a scoping meeting, although that appeared to have not been part of the City’s original plan, and it was not in the proposed timeline included with the Consent item.
     
    The City then waited until 11/15 to actually announce the timing of the requested meeting in a NOP. It is very strange that the Vanguard did not mention this meeting when it was announced on November 15 by the City, and waited 12 days  until right before the long holiday weekend immediately preceding the meeting to write this article that the meeting would be happening.”

    In a comment on the 11/8 article I mentioned several major omissions in the Vanguard’s version of what had transpired:

    This article does not discuss a few interesting occurrences at the meeting:

    1) Mike Webb responded  to demands and announced at the meeting that the City would now hold a public meeting for scoping the EIR….”

    1. Craig Ross

      Hopefully Bill or someone can give my comment a boost so Keller will see it.  But there are a lot of problems with his views.

      First, you have the chicken little factor meets the boy that cried wolf.  In essence, they are crying the sky is falling every time the city makes a false hiccup.  The problem with that strategy, when everything is “terrible” or becomes a fiasco, people stop listening.

      Second, as the Vanguard has pointed out – no one cares about process.  They just don’t.  No one came last night.  No one is going to comment.  The few that are – are already committed.

      Finally and most importantly, as the Vanguard has pointed out as well – this project will sink or swim based on how the voters perceive it will handle the traffic concerns.

      So why go through this song and dance when the main point is going to be traffic and that argument is going to be down the line.

      1. Don Shor

        Craig Ross said:
        Hopefully Bill or someone can give my comment a boost so Keller will see it. But there are a lot of problems with his views.

        First, you have the chicken little factor meets the boy that cried wolf. In essence, they are crying the sky is falling every time the city makes a false hiccup. The problem with that strategy, when everything is “terrible” or becomes a fiasco, people stop listening.

        Second, as the Vanguard has pointed out – no one cares about process. They just don’t. No one came last night. No one is going to comment. The few that are – are already committed.

        Finally and most importantly, as the Vanguard has pointed out as well – this project will sink or swim based on how the voters perceive it will handle the traffic concerns.

        So why go through this song and dance when the main point is going to be traffic and that argument is going to be down the line.

        I tend to agree that the main discussion about ARC/MRIC will be more appropriately down the line when the traffic study is complete and any mitigation is presented.

        1. Rik Keller

          Don Shor: if the EIR is not scoped properly, then there won’t be proper analysis done. You are just advocating for kicking the can down the road when it is too late to do anything. It’s irresponsible.

          It should be noted that the Vanguard waited 12 whole days to even mention the existence of the meeting in the first place from when the City announced it on 11/15. And then it claims that people aren’t interested.

        2. Rik Keller

          Don Shor, I know the exact trajectory: you and the Vanguard complain about Davisites making noise about contract for the EIR and pushing to allow input into the scope. Then, after the City puts in a perfunctory effort with bad information, you and the Vanguard complain about Davisites pointing out the bad information. Then, when the garbage in-garbage out process concludes with a draft document that doesn’t address key issues, you and the Vanguard will add–for good measure–that if the Davisites were really concerned, they would have been involved in the process much earlier.

          1. Don Shor

            you and the Vanguard complain…
            you and the Vanguard complain…
            you and the Vanguard will add…

            I haven’t complained about anything, Rik.

          1. Don Shor

            Here’s why I quoted it:

            Craig Ross said:
            Hopefully Bill or someone can give my comment a boost so Keller will see it.

            It was his full quote. You’ve seen it. You’re replying to him, not me. Sorry I didn’t make that clear.

            I have no actual problem with the critique you are doing. Personally I’d prefer that you and others stop implying or asserting that the staff is incompetent or that anyone is trying to slip anything by the public. Generally the criticisms you are making, and related discussions, would come later in the process. But illuminating your concerns now doesn’t particularly bother me.

            My own view is that I have long supported a business park on the site. The specific acreages of open space don’t really concern me there since there is considerable open space and ag land permanently preserved north and east of the site. I will be interested to see the traffic studies and any mitigation they propose for that. As I’ve said before, I think the housing is an odd wrinkle that may be politically unwise. I am curious if there are any near-neighbor concerns in Mace Ranch about that. But it may not be the death of the project as some, myself included, predicted a couple of years ago.

        3. Rik Keller

          Thanks for the explanation, Don. But if I wanted to see the garbage that “Craig Ross” writes, I wouldn’t have blocked him in the first place.

          As far as your statement that “Personally I’d prefer that you and others stop implying or asserting that the staff is incompetent or that anyone is trying to slip anything by the public,” how do you explain the City posting information on their website that is straight from the developers attorney and full of falsehoods?

          And speaking of falsehoods, did you catch that the developer’s attorney is trying to claim now that the 1/3 of the housing that is single family housing in the ARC proposal was also  in the Mixed Use Alternative for MRIC? It wasn’t. Just another page out of the Ramos bait-and-switch playbook. They are proposing a residential component larger than The Cannery because there isn’t adequate market demand for the business park uses.

           

           

        4. Rik Keller

          Don, you stated “The specific acreages of open space don’t really concern me there since there is considerable open space and ag land permanently preserved north and east of the site.”

          It doesn’t matter if YOU care about it. The EIR for the MRIC MU Alt cared quite a bit about it and City development standards and regulations care about it. In fact there were specific mitigation measures put forward addressing this issue so that the development met its requirement for park land, other green spaces, and ag buffers per City parks and open space standards. If you don’t want to look these up yourself, they totalled 77.0 acres, or 36% of the total site area.

          Now, contrast this with the developer’s attorney’s claim in the table attached to this article that the MRIC MU Alt only had 38.7 acres of parks/open space (20.1 ag buffer and 18.6 parks and greenways) and you will start to see the problem with the false information supplied that was not vetted or fact-checked in any way by City staff.

        1. Bill Marshall

          The age old way to neutralize, or eliminate an opponent, is to “de-humanize”… easier to discredit, and herd the rest of the ‘sheep’.  Still in play as a ‘tactic’…

          Many individuals and ‘groups’ have learned that…

      2. Bill Marshall

        Craig… it is written:  “let those who have eyes, see… let those who have ears, listen…”

        Some do not want to “see” what is contrary to their “view”… there are some who do not wish to listen to words that are different from their own…

        Doesn’t mean you have to see the things, hear the things, agree with the things the same way, but mature people can see and listen, come up with their own answers/views… and disagree with others… some just shut out contrary input.  They are not necessarily mature…

        Just saying…

        As to the project, am ready to see, and listen to the analysis… until that is available, I will not “judge”… some already have…

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