Submitted by Bob Fung
League of Women Voters Davis Area
The Question: Should residents approve annexing agricultural land to develop the Davis Innovation and Sustainability Campus (DISC)? Annexation of county land for city-related uses has required citizen approval since voters passed the “Citizens Right to Vote on Future Use of Open Space and Agricultural Lands” ordinance in 2000 (as Measure J) and renewed it in 2010 (as Measure R).
The Situation: Davis has studied options for an innovation park with the goals of leveraging UC Davis’ international reputation for academic and research advancements in agriculture, biotech, green-tech, and food science research. As the options were studied, four options initially appeared to be available but these have since been reduced to one (see Appendix for a more detailed history). The project site is agricultural land that has been productively farmed for many decades. Moving forward with the project will put an end to farming on the site.
The Proposal: Ramco Enterprises, Buzz Oates Group and Reynolds & Brown’s proposal, as presented to the City Council in July 2020, is for a 203.5-acre project site, immediately east of the City of Davis city limits, east of Mace Blvd and just north of Second Street/ County Road 32A. At full build-out, projected by the developer to occur over a 20-year period, DISC will include:
- Office, laboratory, research and development space: 1,510,000 ft;
- Advanced manufacturing space: 884,000 ft;
- Housing: 850 units, including 125 on-site affordable housing units;
- Agricultural buffer, park, greenway and open space: 2 acres;
- Transit plaza for Yolobus, Unitrans and shuttles to/from Amtrak: 6-2 acres;
Fiscal Implications: Negotiations between the City and Yolo County regarding each entity’s share of the projected revenue and other items have not yet been finalized and may be modified with time. Sales revenue, jobs and increased school attendance are areas of economic impact; estimates differ as seen in the pro and con arguments.
Appendix: History of Exploration of an Innovation Park Concept for Davis
The City has studied options for an innovation park for over 20 years:
- 1996 –Economic Research Associates identifies a 200-250-acre technology park as the best option for economic development for Davis and notes that few sites within the city are large enough for this purpose;
- 2001—Davis’ General Plan includes the goal of a research and innovation park;
- 2010— An Innovation Park Task Force (IPTF), consisting of City and UC staff, advisors and students convenes to provide recommendations for an innovation park;
- 2014—A City-issued Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) for an Innovation Park elicits three candidates;
- 2015—One firm drops out, the second retracts its proposal (since applied in the City of Woodland 10 miles to the north) and the third is pended at the applicant’s request;
- 2016—The Nishi Gateway Project, proposing housing units, innovation park and open space connected to the UCD Arboretum, is narrowly defeated (300 votes) by citizens;
- 2017—Ramco Enterprises, the Buzz Oates Group and Reynolds & Taylor, re-submits the third proposal for an innovation campus with employee-focused housing.
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