By David M. Greenwald
In his guest piece with the Vanguard, George Heubeck brings up some important points. However, there a number of problems with the piece, as well, that need to be clarified or corrected.
There are a substantial amount of inaccurate or misleading comments.
For example, he noted, “In February of 2019 staff reported to the City Council that there were 27 parcels within the City of Davis that total 124 acres that are suitable for development.”
This is misleading. Anyone familiar with our analysis of these 124 acres knows that a good portion of those are owned by Sutter and Kaiser and are set aside for medical unit expansion. There are another 30 or so acres that are tied up because they are part of the Frontier Fertilizer site. That leaves roughly half of the total to be developed and, with the exception of the 14-acre property that was considered for Panattoni, the rest of the parcels are scattered and are less than seven acres in size.
To put that into perspective, if Mori Seiki wanted to move to Davis now, they would have no place to go.
George Heubeck further notes: “The Sacramento Business Journal reported this summer that Mark Friedman’s Fulcrum Property Development Company which owns the 33 acre University Research Park is pushing a large office complex through the entitlement process on a portion of their remaining vacant land in south Davis.”
This is also misleading. It has offices on the ground floor, but the main purpose of the development is workforce housing for people who work in the University Research Park—it does not provide substantial amounts of space for offices.
George Heubeck writes, “Another example of why it is premature to vote now to entitle the DISC is the Metro Air Park adjacent to the Sacramento Metro Airport. The concept for Metro Air Park has been promoted since the 1980’s. This proposal did not become viable until 2018 when Amazon agreed to build an 850,000 sq.ft. fulfillment center at the Metro Air Park.”
But in an email from someone who works for Metro Air Park, they set the record straight, arguing that this comment is either “ill-informed” or “deliberately presenting a false impression.”
He told me, “The I-5/Metro Air Pkwy interchange is a facilities mitigation requirement of the MAP project and is 100% funded by the MAP property owners through the MAP Community Facilities District (CFD). MAP ownership has paid for the design, ROW, environmental review & mitigation needs, as well as all construction costs for the project. Sacramento County ‘agreed’ to manage the construction of the interchange because Federal Highway Administration regulations do not permit private construction of facilities on the Interstate Highway System.”
He said, “Based on Mr. Heubeck’s background he should have known of that requirement.”
Further, “The June revisions of the MAP PFFP by the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors was to update the 2008 plan based on completion of many facilities and the removal and addition of other facilities because of changes to the projects design and needs.”
Someone who read the updated PFFP “would have seen that any reduction in plan area ‘development’ fees were offset by a commitment by the MAP property owners to fund any shortfalls through increased and extended Special Parcel Taxes.”
George Heubeck continues: “The absorption rate in Davis and Yolo County on the west side of the causeway does not support a project of the DISC’s scale, or the need to entitle all of it now through a development agreement. “
But that’s not what the Studio 30 report concluded a decade ago. In fact, that report noted that the historical absorption rate for Davis is low. But they estimated “that Davis can capture 5% to 10% of regional absorption, or about 90k-150k SF/yr through aggressive site development and marketing.”
The Studio 30 report concluded that the Sacramento Region “has strong absorption” and that “Davis’ share of the region’s absorption could be increased.” But in order to do that, they need a “scalable group of sites” that are “necessary to increase the range of absorbable companies.” They concluded, “Adjacent lands are good candidates for a successful innovation park setup”—that includes the current site east of Mace.
This was studied thoroughly a decade ago, which led to the current process.
One of the reasons that Davis has a low absorption rate is that the existing sites are small and scattered—which is why Danielle Casey told us last August that larger companies are not even looking at Davis because they know they have no landing spot.
Finally, George Heubeck writes, “The DISC proposal on the ballot for Davis voters lacks adequate developed parks for its interior area and a mechanism for the developers to fund their maintenance. This is particularly egregious in light of the Developer’s intent to use seven acres of the City’s Open Space land for a portion of the DISC’s agricultural buffer.”
But this repeats the misleading claims of the No on DISC campaign. The developer requested to use the seven acres of open space land—but the city declined to act on that request. Whether they do or not, the seven acres will remain as open space for agricultural uses per the Project Baseline Features—and if they get those seven acres, the city gets compensated for that land, which would enable the city to purchase additional land with Measure O funds.
There is no nexus between parks and the agricultural buffer, and to imply there is, is again misleading.
—David M. Greenwald reporting
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