Sunday Commentary: Ways to Improve the ARC Proposal

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We Need Commercial Space and an Innovation Center—That Doesn’t Mean We Don’t Need to Make Sure This Is the Best Possible Project

There was a lot of confusion—at least by one commenter—on the difference between supporting the concept of an innovation center and supporting the current proposal.  I want to clarify this as much as possible, as I think it is important for general understanding.

I have not been shy since probably 2013 about my belief that we need an innovation center. It comes down to a few key factors. One, we need to find more sources of revenue that are not tied to tax increases. Two, the city is too reliant on auto sales for its sales tax and does not have a diverse enough economic base. Three, we lag in per capita sales tax revenue. Fourth, we have a billion dollar university churning out high-tech spin-off opportunities and not taking advantage of it.

A final point to make is that, given the uncertainty about the economy longer term, I think it is even more urgent now than before—even though, as I have stated a number of times, this is really going to be a benefit to the community ten years from now rather than in the immediate term.

A key question is whether the need for innovation/high tech/commercial space needs to be peripheral.

Does it need to be peripheral?

In 2003, San Francisco took a long-underused swath of land just south of the new ballpark and turned it into Mission Bay.  Unfortunately, we don’t have that type of available underutilized land at this time.  Even the PG&E corporation yard is only listed at about 27 acres.

The question was pretty thoroughly analyzed back in 2010 when a lot of the questions first came up

Both the Innovation Park Task Force and Studio 30 analyzed available sites and their potential and came to the conclusion that we needed about 200 acres to do what needs to be done over a 20- to 25-year period of time.

The Studio 30 report analyzed the situation and came to the conclusion that we really need to do three things. First, develop existing spaces. Second, develop a near-in innovation space. At that time it was Nishi—but clearly now we are looking at Sierra Energy and the University Research Park. And third, we need peripheral.

The conclusion, as Studio 30 wrote, “The current isolated and dispersed sites that are available and appropriately zoned are not adequate in terms of size, location, or configuration (and related constraints) to address the emerging market need of an Innovation Center.”

That was true then, and it remains true now.

So yes, if you believe that we need more commercial space—and our analysis last year of available space that could be built in the next 10 years is probably about 60 acres in land that is no more than about 15 acres in contiguous size—then we need to go peripheral.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that Aggie Research Campus is the answer.

The question that was posed was: Assuming that there are no drastic changes to the ARC proposal, do you support it?

While that seems straightforward, the reality is that we are still early in this process.  They are still evaluating the Supplemental EIR.  The planning commission has not a public meeting and the council has not weighed in.

A lot is going to change.  And frankly, there is a lot I would still like to see with this project.  Why would I declare support for the project now, even if I think we need the project?

The bottom line is that there are a number of changes I would like to see, and I am going to highlight five of them for this piece.

First, I agree with some of the public commenters at the BTSSC (Bicycling, Transportation and Street Safety Commission)—I think it was Nancy Price and Alan Pryor— in that we really need to have most of the mitigation measures locked into the project baseline features.

As Pam Gunnell noted in her comment on the Vanguard, we need “the certification of an SEIR which makes unequivocal the significant and unavoidable traffic impacts.”

In the end, a lot of voters will have to weigh between two key factors—traffic impacts and revenue generation.

We need to do everything we can to minimize those traffic impacts, as that is going to be a huge quality of life factor. But so too is the revenue generation.

Second, we need to create as much certainty with this project as possible. I don’t like the idea that a later governmental body will determine the affordable housing. We don’t need to do that.

What we should do is basically set aside land on the site, and turn it over to an affordable housing developer to raise the money and build the housing. And I would probably go further and suggest that we have an affordable housing site dedicated off-site as well.

Third, we saw what the fiscal analysis said in 2015. I think that, while $2 million in revenue is a good start—and also probably a conservative figure, we have the potential to hedge our bets by creating a $2 per square foot CFD (Community Facilities District). That would mean if the entire project gets built out to 2.6 million square feet, we generate around $5 million in revenue on top of the property and sales tax.

That is a good way to ensure that the project will generate the revenue we need it. That could push it from generating $2 million to $7 million—and $7 million is a game-changer.

Fourth, we need to reduce parking spaces. And lock into the baseline features a transportation plan to reduce traffic into the innovation center. There are a lot of ways we can do that. I favor a train and shuttle system, and maybe a Sacramento-based shuttle system as well. With a little innovation, we can solve some of the traffic issues.

I agree we cannot just wave a magic wand and reduce parking spaces, but we can create an enforceable plan that does so—and we need to do that.

Finally, there were concerns raised about whether the developer can get to 60 percent of the housing occupied by workers. There are ways to deal with that as well. I would like to see the developers put again into the baseline features commitments to co-housing that be owned and operated by the innovation center, rules that set the rental date for February so that students are less likely to attempt to move in, requirements that renters must pass independent credit checks or sublease from their companies, and also provisions that have companies purchase and subsidize housing on site.

The thing that always amazes me in these projects is that when you want something stopped, everything becomes an unmovable barrier.  If your attitude is how can we improve something, you identify problems and then identify solutions.

I think that a lot points raised by the critics and outright opponents are important and need to be addressed.  Where I disagree is the extent to which we can actually address them.

In the end we are going to have to trade off between potential traffic impacts and revenue, between preservation of open space and building on peripheral land and securing a sustainable economic future.  Fortunately, I believe that the location of this project, locked in with conservation easements, mitigates those concerns—and I believe by building a project with such a long time horizon, we can actually reduce the overall pressure to grow on the periphery.

—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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63 thoughts on “Sunday Commentary: Ways to Improve the ARC Proposal”

  1. Matt Williams

    The Vanguard said . . . Third, we saw what the fiscal analysis said in 2015. I think that, while $2 million in revenue is a good start—and also probably a conservative figure, we have the potential to hedge our bets by creating a $2 per square foot CFD (Community Facilities District). That would mean if the entire project gets built out to 2.6 million square feet, we generate around $5 million in revenue on top of the property and sales tax.

    The problem with a CFD is that bottom-line the money generated by the CFD goes to the developer, not the City.  Look at the Cannery CFD, where the annual payments being made by the Cannery residents do indeed go to the City each year, but those payments are immediately used by the City to pay the debt service (mortgage payment) for the up-front $8 million cash payment the City made to the developer.

    Said another way, in a CFD there is indeed additional revenue for the City, but there is also additional expense that is almost exactly equal to the revenue … the expense of borrowing the money for the cash give-away to the developer. The bottom-line for the City is Net Revenue of $0.

    Now if you had proposed a CSD (a Community Services District), that would be more palatable.  In a CSD the Developer pays the City the $2 per square foot payment, but gets no up-front cash payment.  The City gets the additional annual revenue but not the additional annual expense.

    However, the Achilles Heel of a per square foot CSD is that the City’s revenue depends on those square feet actually getting built, and so far the developer has shown no evidence of actual demand for any square feet at ARC.  That is why I ended my public comment to the BTSSC , after going through the four areas where the Transportation Impact Analysis is neither adequate nor complete (see Vanguard article tomorrow with my submitted public comment for detail), I took on Matt Keasley’s attempts to generate “excitement” in the BTSSC members by talking about the revenue that the project will generate for the City. 

    As I said to the BTSSC, the revenue to the City will only come if there are actual jobs produced onsite at ARC, and so far Arc’s discussion of actual jobs has been elusive at best.  In Texas they have a term for projects that demonstrate no evidence of jobs, only vague promise of jobs.  That expression is “All Hat, No Cattle.”  I went on to explain to the BTSSC members that if you aren’t from  Texas, the equivalent saying/metaphor is “the Emperor’s New Clothes.

    If Cuba Gooding, Jr and Tom Cruise were Davis residents, they would be yelling back and forth at each other, “Where’s the jobs!?! … Show me the jobs!?!”  So far the only jobs associated with ARC that the developer has actually talked about are the ones that were slated for MRIC from FMC/Schilling, and by putting their project on hold in 2016, those FMC-Schilling jobs have been lost to West Sacramento.  Schilling couldn’t wait for the developer to make its dreams about MRIC/ARC into reality.

  2. Don Shor

    In my view most of the proposed housing should be removed from this project. A small amount of live/work housing could be included, literally incorporated into the commercial buildings. Stand-alone housing dilutes the benefits of the project to the city and increases the city’s service costs over time. If Davis residents want more housing, a development should be proposed and built elsewhere, in a normal residential setting.

     

    1. Matt Williams

      Respectfully Don, I believe the approach you advocate is a recipe for disaster, both for actually attracting jobs to the project, and for City revenue.

      If we can believe what has been said to date about the type of jobs that ARC is looking to attract, it is post-Doctoral research jobs . . . in start-ups that have spun off from research at UCD, or in start-ups that are attracted to the prospects of being close to UCD.

      Using Silicon Valley as a comparable, it is useful to look at what the typical work week is like in those kinds of post-Doc research jobs.  The work days are very long.  More often than not exceeding eighty (80) hours per week.  Throw in time for lunch and dinner and the on-the-job time goes up to ninety (90) hours a week.  In that kind of pressure cooker environment, which the post-Docs love for its cutting edge excitement, minimizing travel time is essential … and the CEOs and investors of those companies are acutely aware of that.

      Given the Davis housing market, coupled with the fact that many (if not the majority) of the Post Docs are saddled with a substantial student debt balance, competing with UCD students for rental housing is going to be both expensive and challenging.  UCD students have no qualms about cramming extra rent-paying bodies into an apartment.  The employees of the start-ups are much less likely to band together and “body-up” to make the rent more affordable by spreading it over more residents.

      Because of the student debt balances they carry, the chances of the projected ARC employees having a down payment for a home purchase are very low.

      All these factors make the current housing situation in Davis a significant deterrant for the CEOs and investors of the potential ARC tenants.  Absent dedicated housing on the ARC site, they are looking at the prospects of a substantial portion of their valuable employees having to commute to their jobs from locations other than Davis.  If you figure a 45 minute commute each way, that adds twelve (12) more hours to the ninety (90).  That is a recipe for burn-out.

      What does employee loss due to burn-out mean to CEOs and investors?  A great deal of inefficiency, lost productivity, and increased uncertainty.

      Dedicated housing on site mitigates all three of those problems.

       

       

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        Matt – good comment. One of the points made by a city staffer in response to concerns about peak flow traffic – the world of 9 to 5 jobs in the tech industry is of the past as well. I know when I had my office at the co-working space, I was generally the first one there and often people arrived to work in the afternoon and stayed into the evening. There are all sorts of solutions as well – some of which we are starting to see now – remote working.

        1. Don Shor

          Absent dedicated housing on the ARC site, they are looking at the prospects of a substantial portion of their valuable employees having to commute to their jobs from locations other than Davis.  If you figure a 45 minute commute each way, that adds twelve (12) more hours to the ninety (90).  That is a recipe for burn-out.

          If there is a demand for more housing created by ARC, a development should be proposed and built elsewhere, in a normal residential setting. I don’t believe the number of housing units proposed is proportional to the purported demand for on-site housing that would arise from people who work there. Live-work is classic new urbanism, and is largely IMO discredited. I also see no reason to believe most people working there would have a “45 minute commute each way.” They would just live in Woodland, Dixon, or West Sacramento, as many in the Davis workforce already do.

          Build housing in a residential setting, set the densities and establish the affordability baseline. Stop trying to cram residents into commercial developments. Rental units set aside for young urban professionals is not a winning political formula nor is it good financially for the city.

          I would note that the high student debt being described is rather mitigated by the presumably high wages such workers would receive. Those folks aren’t honestly my main concern with respect to the need for specialized housing in Davis. Maybe they are yours, but I would prefer to see residential subdivisions that allow young families as well as post-docs.

        2. Matt Williams

          Don, given the location of the project and the location of rental housing in West Sac, there is no way to avoid the Yolo Causeway in that daily commute.  45 minutes for that commute is probably a low estimate.  Similarly, 45 minutes to rental housing in Woodland is a very reasonable estimate.  When I go from Mace to the Peet’s at Marketplace to meet the Brissk Walking group at 7:00 AM, the travel time is 15 minutes.  My periodic trips from Covell to the Library or County Administration Building in Woodland are always 15-20 minutes.  Depending on where the employee apartment is in Woodland, I’ll stick by my 45 minute estimate.  Dixon may be closer to 30 minutes. I’m not familiar with the apartment availability situation in Dixon though.

          Regarding your “a development should be proposed” suggestion, that is a wish, and it probably is a wish that faces a Measure J/R vote.

          1. Don Shor

            Similarly, 45 minutes to rental housing in Woodland is a very reasonable estimate

            Not even close.
            Dixon is 12 minutes away by freeway. Woodland is six miles away by Road 102. Your 45 minutes doesn’t hold up at all.

            Regarding your “a development should be proposed” suggestion, that is a wish, and it probably is a wish that faces a Measure J/R vote.

            Of course. So does this project. So I don’t see the point of that comment.

        3. Matt Williams

          I live 6/10 of a mile south of the Mace-Chiles Intersection. On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday afternoons before COVID-19 arrived, it often took me more than 45 minutes to get on Interstate 80, much less get to Woodland once on I-80.  As David can tell you from personal experience traveling the 5/10 of a mile from the Alhambra-Mace intersection to the I-80 westbound ramp is similarly time consuming.

        4. Ron Oertel

          According to the SEIR, 3,763 new housing units would need to be built to satisfy the demand created by ARC.

          850 units is proposed within ARC.

          Approximately 45% of new employees would be expected to seek housing outside of Davis.

           

           

           

        5. Ron Oertel

          54.6% of the 3,763 additional units (2,053) would be needed within the city of Davis, according to the projections in the SEIR.

          2,053 – 850 units (within ARC) = 1,202 additional units within Davis (with the need created by – but not met by ARC).

      2. Alan Miller

        UCD students have no qualms about cramming extra rent-paying bodies into an apartment.

        They do this quarter . . . or their parents do . . .  will that diminish for fall?

        If you figure a 45 minute commute each way, that adds twelve (12) more hours to the ninety (90).  That is a recipe for burn-out.

        That’s not a recipe for burnout, that’s a recipe for death . . . by crashing your car on the way home because you have no time to sleep.

  3. Ron Oertel

    The 5,858 parking spaces are the result of a recommendation from the traffic consultant, based upon projected demand for this proposal.

    I’m not sure why David thinks he has any influence regarding drastic changes to the proposal, or the impact that doing so would have on the already-questionable commercial viability of the proposal.

    Davis is not an island, and “competes” with other nearby locales regarding commercial development. Probably even more so, when the economy starts recovering from the current disaster.

    It’s a peripheral housing project. Take away that, and you’d see how quickly it would fold. (In fact, it already did so.)

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      My belief is that we can create a plan that reduces traffic and thus parking spaces. And it’s not unrealistic to do if we plan and put such plans into the baseline features. Given you and your fellow travelers will Mau Mau the number of parking spaces until Election Day, I would say it is incumbent on the planners and developers to create some solutions to traffic and parking.

      1. Ron Oertel

        Your argument is with the traffic engineers, who have recommended 5,858 parking spaces for a proposal of this type.

        Again, Davis is competing with other nearby locales, to attract commercial development.  (Including one proposal that is probably easier to get to from UCD, compared to ARC.)

        If you make it more difficult, the commercial component will become even less-viable than it already is.

        It’s a housing development.

        And, if it contains anywhere near the recommended number of parking spaces (and projected traffic generation), Davis’ “green” image is certainly going to change, to say the least.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          No my argument is not with traffic engineers. I don’t have an issue with their analysis. My point is that we can mitigate those impacts through specific programs and features of the project.

        2. Ron Oertel

          No my argument is not with traffic engineers. I don’t have an issue with their analysis.

          Sounds like you do.  It was their recommendation which resulted in the increase to 5,858 parking spaces.

          How many is “acceptable” to you? 5,000?, 4,000?, 3,000?

          And, have you asked the developer (and all of the “ghost” companies that have been repeatedly referred to on here)? (Including the ones who can get what they want much more easily and less-expensively, in nearby developments?)

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            No, they have analyzed current conditions. They have not been asked – nor would it be appropriate to do so – to create a mitigation plan. I don’t have a set number that is acceptable. But I believe we can greatly reduce it from where it is. The last time I met with the developer (I think in June), one of my suggestions was to find a way to reduce parking spaces.

        3. Ron Oertel

          No, they have analyzed current conditions.

          They analyzed what would be needed for a development like this one.

          I don’t have a set number that is acceptable.

          How about a range?

          But I believe we can greatly reduce it from where it is.

          Based upon what – your personal desire?  To some number that you’re reluctant to mention?

          Do you have any expertise regarding what makes a supposedly-commercial development like this viable, regarding parking?

          I find it amusing to see the quotes regarding the “ghost companies” supposed desire for housing, but nothing about parking.

          This is not the Bay Area.  There’s plenty of nearby places that have more space and desire to accommodate this type of proposal. (This particular site is one of the worst in terms of inducing commuting – per the map that another commenter recently posted.)

          The last time I met with the developer (I think in June), one of my suggestions was to find a way to reduce parking spaces.

          And yet, the number has increased since then (to 5,858 parking spaces).

        1. Richard McCann

          Ron O

          Why do so desparately need a number? So that you can yet again argue against a number? Instead of playing “get me a stone, oh, not that stone…” let’s agree that we need a better study on what should be the appropriate # of parking spaces? We’re not going to determine that here on this blog.

           

           

        2. Ron Oertel

          Why do so desparately need a number?

          A “number” exists.  As of now, it’s 5,858 parking spaces. That’s a fact, and one which will likely be considered by voters.

          David said that the number should be reduced.  I asked him what number (or range of numbers) would be acceptable to him. I also asked him if he checked with the developer regarding that goal, as well as the “ghost” companies that would theoretically occupy the site.

          He didn’t respond.

          So that you can yet again argue against a number?

          No – I’m saying the opposite, that the number should be disclosed.  As of now, it’s 5,858 parking spaces.

          Instead of playing “get me a stone, oh, not that stone…”

          Huh?

          let’s agree that we need a better study on what should be the appropriate # of parking spaces?

          The number (5,858) came from the traffic study.  Are you suggesting that another study is needed, based upon some other, undefined assumptions?  Who would pay for that study, and how would that fit into the apparent “goal” of having this appear on the November ballot?

          We’re not going to determine that here on this blog.

          It’s already been determined.  It’s 5,858 unless a different decision is made.

           

        3. David Greenwald

          I did respond stating that I don’t have a set number.  One point I keep making is that the traffic analysts are looking at current conditions and planning, but that is not set in stone.  We can put policies in place that can lower that number and that’s what I’m proposing we do.

        4. Ron Oertel

          I did respond stating that I don’t have a set number.  

          You didn’t even provide a “range” that would be “acceptable” to you.

          There’s already no demonstrated commercial demand for this proposal.  Why is it that proponents claims that there’s companies who would be willing to move there if housing is provided, but not a peep about providing sufficient parking to operate and support these businesses – based upon what the traffic study recommended for a development of this type?

          (Can you “guess” what I’ve concluded, regarding the supposed claims from these theoretical companies?)

          So, I’ll ask you again, since you’re the one claiming that the number should be reduced.  What number (or range of numbers) is acceptable to you?  5,000?  4,000? 3,000?

          (Or would you like to use the old sales trick ending in “999”, to make it sound like less than it is?)  How about 4,999?

           

        5. David Greenwald

          That’s correct, I’m not putting a number to what I would consider acceptable because I view that as reverse engineering the problem.  What I want to see from the applicants is a set of enforceable steps by which they can reduce traffic in a tangible way.  If they take those necessary steps, then whatever number is generated will be better than the current estimates.

        6. Ron Oertel

           What I want to see from the applicants is a set of enforceable steps by which they can reduce traffic in a tangible way.  If they take those necessary steps, then whatever number is generated will be better than the current estimates.

          How much “better” would you like to see it?  5,000? 4,000? 3,000?

          I suspect that what you’re actually trying to do is to deflect attention away from the fact that this proposal is going to require a lot of parking spaces to be viable.

          Despite whatever words you write on this blog, you’re not going to institute a wholesale change in this proposal (and commuting patterns, in general). Look at the net inflow of commuters that already exist, to UCD. This proposal is even easier to reach, by car. That’s why they’re proposing it next to a freeway access point.

           

        7. Ron Oertel

          Actually, you’re not stating your “preference” – or at least not defining it. I suspect that I know why.

          But, this thread re-started as a result of the “malarkey” that Richard put forth, in response to my comment to you.

  4. Ron Oertel

    In 2003, San Francisco took a long-underused swath of land just south of the new ballpark and turned it into Mission Bay. 

    I find this type of argument rather interesting, as well.  It seems to imply that as San Francisco (and every other Bay Area city which can no longer expand outward) run out of sites suitable for redevelopment, they are going to experience a “permanent economic crash”.

    And yet, a planning commissioner noted (immediately prior to the coronavirus emergency) that there’s lots of commercial vacancies in the Bay Area.

    Perhaps these types of assumptions (regarding the “economic need” to expand outward, indefinitely) should be re-examined.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      No, but it does mean they are going to have to figure out ways to use their existing space more efficiently (which will increase costs).

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          Also to continue with the Mission Bay analogy, that place is absolutely jam-packed with business. I know when I talked to the ED in San Luis Obispo, they mentioned a lot of businesses relocated from SF because of costs and lack of available space. Those are the types of businesses that we could attract too – if we had space for them.

        2. Ron Oertel

          Seems like we’re speaking two different languages and lines of thought.

          Your’s is the more traditional one, which resulted in the current system.

        3. Ron Oertel

          My editing period ran out, again.

          Your line of thought is what’s led to the current challenges, regarding traffic, sprawl, greenhouse gasses, rising housing costs, etc.

          However, you have acknowledged that the basic problem (economically – for just about every city throughout California – including San Francisco) is that local government employee salaries, pensions, and medical costs keep rising faster than what can be generated via the “Ponzi scheme”.

          In the meantime, local governments will continue “chasing their own tails”, until it crashes. There’s too many vested interests to change, on its own. Not sure if the current crash is significant enough to do so.

        4. Matt Williams

          David, I received an e-mail from an unexpected source yesterday that proposed a question/answer pairing that addressed the issue of solving our problems and mitigating our concerns.

          I share the text of the e-mail unchanged, and with the disclaimer that the views and opinions expressed are those of the e-mailer, and do not reflect my personal views and opinions

          I have a question for you as a former member of the FBC.  If the city decided to cut salaries by 25% on a sliding scale with the highest paid employees taking a greater percent in an inverse ratio like the tax scale, would that help our upcoming and long term situation?

          I am seriously concerned that our political leaders have no skin in the game and are all too happy to rob our citizens of their hourly wages in order to protect their way of life at the expense of the lower class.

          .
          The solution proposed in the first paragraph of the e-mail would definitely address our community’s fiscal problems. “Solve” may be too absolute a term. However, the solution would not be without consequences.

          Thoughts?

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            One problem is that it would require a new CBA – most of which have recently been agreed to and will continue for several years. Second, there is no incentive for anyone to agree and most likely that steep a pay cut would be rejected by the rank and file, even imposition would result in a suit that the city could not win. 25 percent is steep enough that most employees would leave and it would likely be difficult to hire new employees if the city was going below market.

            My suggestion about a decade ago was to simply hold the line on salaries and allow inflation to gradually reduce them over time – the city has since negated that through an annual increase.

        5. Matt Williams

          David said . . . “if the city was going below market.”

          But would the City be going below market? Won’t all municipal jurisdictions be facing the same fiscal challenges?  Their options in the scenario that the original e-mailer posed are really only (1) do what he/she suggested and keep more employees employed, or (2) achieve the 25% by laying off enough employees to achieve the 25% savings after the cost of Unemployment Insurance is factored in, which may mean a 35% reduction is total headcount.

        6. Matt Williams

          That is a true statement “right now” David, but will it be true at or before the end of 2020?  All municipal jurisdictions are going to feel the revenue impact of the aftermath of COVID-19 … and they either (1) will institute staffing cuts that will make Steve Pinkerton look like a “saint” (that word was chosen to give a tweak to one particular Vanguard reader), or (2) work with their unions to spread a portion of the pain to each retained employee rather than applying all the pain to the laid off employees.

      1. Keith Echols

        I’d like to point out that a large degree of Mission Bay’s success is because it had in commercial real estate terms: a monstrous anchor tenant that was UCSF’s massive expansion.  Also before Mission Bay there was residential development already starting to change China Basin because of the construction of PacBell Park.

        Does UCD have any such commitment to the ARC project?  If not it’s a mostly speculative project and therefore should be planned in such a way.

        1. Matt Williams

          David Greenwald said . . . Also to continue with the Mission Bay analogy, that place is absolutely jam-packed with business. I know when I talked to the ED in San Luis Obispo, they mentioned a lot of businesses relocated from SF because of costs and lack of available space. Those are the types of businesses that we could attract too – if we had space for them.

          Interesting statement David.  It does prompt a follow-up question, specifically, “For the businesses that relocated from SF to San Luis Obispo because of costs and lack of space, how would the fields that they are working in have synergy with UCD’s “magnetic” fields of academic and research excellence?” 

          A really good follow-up article for you would be to obtain a list of the companies the ED in San Luis Obispo was talking about, along with a short profile of what their company expertise/product/research is about.

          If you produce that, you will have done ore than the ARC team has in providing a possible jobs profile.

        2. David Greenwald

          It is probably worth noting that UC Davis and Cal poly have a large amount of overlap in their fields of expertise. One exception would be the lack of a medical school at Cal poly.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      They take a train into Davis, and a shuttle from the train station. I envision that there would be some sort of inducement to incentivize it.

      1. Alan Miller

        They take a train into Davis, and a shuttle from the train station.

        OK, that is a good plan, and a practical one.

        (I wanted to be sure this wasn’t regarding a Capitol Corridor stop at Mace or light rail from Sac, neither of which are happening.)

  5. Todd Edelman

    mitigation

    On Friday I linked my comments on the Project Description of ARC:

    Page 15: (Sustainability Features): “…help establish the use of bicycles as a predominant mode of transportation to the site”.

    I commented “Not even junior high schools do so well. The only local destination that has a majority bicycle mode share is UC Davis, and based on everything from location, to parking costs and regulations to users it’s completely different than anything possible with ARC.”

    I’ve looked and not seen projected cycling mode share separated from “walk” on any ARC documents, and perhaps in aggregate as somewhere between 5 and 10%.

    As I mentioned at the BTSSC meeting, the TDM plan’s time estimates to Downtown and UC Davis are about 20% faster than Google Maps results along 2nd St., and much faster than routes by greenbelt (which will need to be constructed to make contiguous at least to East Davis…).  The TDM also mentions a 5% transit modal share (conservatively).

    So think about UC’s approach and consider are mostly much more internal shopping centers and even Downtown: Cycling is far from predominant, even at the Co-op. How can Baseline Features make the inconsistent, un-coordinated hocus pocus narrative of the project applicants into something truly mitigating? Mitigation is hope. Parking spaces are facts. The future of I-80 is unclear, a dense timetable for some evolution of Capitol Corridor is years off. Fees for parking are nice but can just be compensated with by salaries. Fare-free transit sounds nice but why not the same for people working and living in similarly-peripheral areas? If work hours are spread out it can lower congestion but doesn’t do much for VMT (except indirectly as emissions are lower for an internal combustion car that travels at low revs in a high gear). People with cars are now, more than ever, going to avoid public transport.

    Also, Mission Bay in SF is not peripheral; it’s on the way from multiple neighborhoods to the Financial District / Downtown and the northeast corner of the City. It’s served by a light rail line that goes to a train station that dwarfs Davis Depot in terms of throughput, and also has many bus lines.

    1. David Greenwald

      “ Also, Mission Bay in SF is not peripheral; it’s on the way from multiple neighborhoods to the Financial District / Downtown and the northeast corner of the City.”

      Yes that was my point, that it was not peripheral and that Davis lacks such alternatives.

    2. Alan Miller

      Mitigation is hope. Parking spaces are facts.

      Truer words . . .

      The future of I-80 is unclear,

      Yup

      a dense timetable for some evolution of Capitol Corridor is years off.

      Decades

      Fees for parking are nice but can just be compensated with by salaries.

      Yup

      Fare-free transit sounds nice but why not the same for people working and living in similarly-peripheral areas?

      Fare-free transit is not nice, and certainly makes no sense for salaried employees.  Low-fare, OK.

      People with cars are now, more than ever, going to avoid public transport.

      This is no joke – we are looking at a potential public transit crisis until there is a vaccine.  The public perception of transit as crowded, germy surfaces, rubbing up against strangers . . . that is going to be in hyper-mode for years, and won’t taper completely until the virus is erradicated.

      Also, Mission Bay in SF is not peripheral; it’s on the way from multiple neighborhoods to the Financial District / Downtown and the northeast corner of the City.

      True

      It’s served by a light rail line that goes to a train station that dwarfs Davis Depot in terms of throughput, and also has many bus lines.

      True

  6. Keith Echols

    Can someone educate me about this ARC project?  It’s for start up spin offs from UCD right?  But is it an incubator?  My experience with start ups in Silicon Valley are that they may have come from an incubator but unusually all startups end up in the cheapest Class C office space they can find when they’re in their Seed or Class A phase of corporate development. Their only needs are to be close to the tech community (the big companies and talent) and capital (usually the VCs).  Now these are usually software or chip companies.  Software companies don’t usually require a whole lot of infrastructure.  Chip companies need some facilities for design work but often outsource a lot of the manufacturing part of it.  I’m guessing that what comes out of UCD is Ag and/or bio-tech and/or medical?  Is the ARC facility providing some infrastructure (lab/lab equipment?) to proposed or possible start ups?  Is there a business model of that attached anywhere?

    I mentioned in another comment that the comparison to San Francisco’s Mission Bay development doesn’t really consider that Mission Bay had UCSF’s massive expansion to act as it’s “anchor tenant” that everything else could build around.  Does UCD have any such commitment?  And if not the project should probably be planned as a speculative project.  Which is basically the Field of Dreams commercial real estate plan: “If you build it, they will come”.   Usually the safest way to plan a speculative project is incrementally to mitigate risks.

    Is there any indication that housing is a necessary component for this kind of commercial project to be successful?   In general, housing is a cost to a community…other than quick cash grabs of development fees.  Is the housing component intertwined with the commercial part of the project?  If so, can they be separated?  Should the housing component be allowed to grow incrementally and organically (based on market need)?  I mean it can still be master planned.   Something like that will grow out organically; as the commercial space fills up a mixed use apartment project that includes a likely Starbucks and a handful of restaurants pop up to provide immediate service to the workers there.  And then just let it grow from there.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but the project seems far to integrated to grow incrementally and in a modular fashion.

    1. Don Shor

      — Can someone educate me about this ARC project? It’s for start up spin offs from UCD right? But is it an incubator?

      That is the rationale for it, but it is not an incubator.

      — I’m guessing that what comes out of UCD is Ag and/or bio-tech and/or medical?

      Yes.

      — Is the ARC facility providing some infrastructure (lab/lab equipment?) to proposed or possible start ups?

      I believe so.

      — Is there a business model of that attached anywhere?

      Not that I’ve seen, and I’ve been following this for awhile.

      …. Mission Bay had UCSF’s massive expansion to act as it’s “anchor tenant” that everything else could build around. Does UCD have any such commitment?

      No.

      — Is there any indication that housing is a necessary component for this kind of commercial project to be successful?

      No.

      — Is the housing component intertwined with the commercial part of the project?

      Not anymore.

      — If so, can they be separated?

      Not on site.

      — Should the housing component be allowed to grow incrementally and organically (based on market need)?

      That’s the plan; the housing will develop as the business park does.

      1. Keith Echols

        Thanks for the reply.

        The way the artwork shows the campus, it sure looks like the multifamily housing is integrated onto the campus.  Has that part changed?  You’d think a commercial component would be designed for the side that is near the freeway.

        How integrated are the research facilities to the R&D office space?  Could I just build a bunch of cheap R&D office space across the street and just pay for use of the research facilities?  Or for that matter can companies from Sacramento or wherever pay to use the facilities?

        I guess I still see a massive speculative project.

        1. Don Shor

          The way the artwork shows the campus, it sure looks like the multifamily housing is integrated onto the campus.  Has that part changed?

          No, I probably misunderstood your question.

  7. Bill Marshall

    If the city decided to cut salaries by 25% on a sliding scale with the highest paid employees taking a greater percent in an inverse ratio like the tax scale, would that help our upcoming and long term situation?

    Matt did your correspondent indicate whether that would be 25% of total salaries?  If so, that, combined with the sliding scale they suggested, higher salaried employees would be seeing 35-40% salary reductions, so that lower paid employees could experience significantly less %-age decrease… and still come up with a 25% overall decrease for total City salaries.

    Perhaps your correspondent wasn’t clear… perhaps they could elaborate… but on another thread, as the current topic is “ways to improve the ARC proposal”… out of 42 (as I began to compose this), 7 were about (draconian?) salary cuts to City employees… 8, now, with this request for clarification (RFC)…

    Those comments might  have been more appropriate on the discussion re: “Lecturers…”, or some there, and some here, more appropriate on yet another thread… perhaps entitled along the lines of, ‘how can public employees suck up accede to salary/comp reductions to minimize spending of taxpayer monies’.

    Any modifications to the City’s current (or future CBA’s) could be along the lines of giving employees the choice… “25% across the board staff reductions, or average of 25% salary decreases”… currently there are arguably 6-12 agreements:  Police; Fire; DCEA; PASEA; Mgt.; and the ones for the City Manager, and each Department Head. Yeah, that would go smoothly…

  8. Bill Marshall

    Alan M… agree with your previous posts re:  a bike/ped separation, whether OC, or UC, across Mace being extremely important to both the res/and non-res uses proposed… it would likely have to be between CR-32-H, and north of the current MR SF housing… there are technical issues about how much land would be required to do either… then, there is an issue of getting the land W/Mace… but possible, and technically feasible (economics, modifications to the proposed land use plan, landowners cooperation, etc., may be a different matter) to connect a bike/ped facility to the existing one(s) in Mace Ranch, including all the way to the east side of MRP Lake Alhambra estates.

    Not sure if that would be a make-or-break feature for me, but if that connection was made/committed to in early phase(s), it would definitely drive me towards the ‘yes’ side of voting on the (stupid) Measure R thingy… if the project gets that far…

  9. Alan Miller

    whether OC, or UC,

    Undercrossing – you don’t have to go as far down as up, and bikes and peds more likely to use and less likely to cut across Mace.

    1. Bill Marshall

      There are other considerations… but, I too, favor a UC… but it also gets to R/W needed, drainage… but my preference, without knowing how all the variables play out, is the UC

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