By David M. Greenwald
It was supposed to be held two weeks ago, but the Planning Commission meeting was a victim to a storm that knocked out power and cable to portions of Davis. So now the Planning Commission will hold their third workshop on the Davis Downtown Plan, which is in the process of environmental review.
The Downtown Plan Advisory Commission (DPAC) put together a draft plan based on the input of citizens who completed their portion of the process in January 2020.
The Planning Commission now has the task of advising the Council on various land use issues.
Staff poses a number of questions for the Planning Commission to address much of these land uses issues—these relate to residential, retail, and office uses. The Planning Commission will primarily be determining whether they think the land use designations are appropriate.
In December of 2019, DPAC made a series of specific recommendations:
- On affordable housing, DPAC unanimously voted to recommend that the Downtown Plan should support affordable housing downtown, but that it should be part of the larger city-wide efforts on affordable housing.
- On the sustainability implementation actions, DPAC voted unanimously to recommend that a better sense of prioritization and timing be provided in the Downtown Plan when it goes forward to decision makers.
- On the University Avenue/Rice Lane neighborhood, DPAC voted unanimously to recommend that the Downtown Plan reflect the consensus from the discussions with the neighbors and property owners for changes.
- For the properties on the east side of the railroad tracks between 3rd and 5th Streets, DPAC voted 7 to 4 with 1 abstention to recommend that the commercial properties on the east side of the tracks from 3rd Street to 5th Street be allowed 4 stories with a 4th story stepback and that the Trackside property be treated consistent with the adjacent commercial properties.
- A later motion was made to rescind the DPAC recommendation that the commercial properties on the east side of the tracks from 3rd Street to 5th Street be allowed 4 stories with a 4th story stepback and that the Trackside property be treated consistent with the adjacent commercial properties. This motion failed by a vote of 4 to 5 with 1 abstention.
- On the Davis Community Church site, DPAC voted unanimously with one abstention to recommend that DPAC support the Davis Community Church initiative in their letter to allow more intensive development.
- On the Hibbert Lumber block, DPAC voted unanimously with one abstention to recommend that the Hibbert block, the 500 block of G Street, be placed in a Designated Special Area similar to the area north of the Coop or as part of the same Designated Special Area.
- On the issue of further plan changes and community engagement, DPAC voted unanimously with one abstention to recommend that as subsequent amendments to the plan are proposed that begin to address issues raised in the public comments and issues in the transition areas, there be engagement with the respective neighborhoods and any particular interests or businesses.
- On the issue of maximum unit numbers, DPAC voted unanimously to recommend to elimination of the cap for a maximum number of units on the building types in order to support higher densities and more affordable units.
- On the issue of supporting affordable housing, DPAC voted unanimously to recommend that the City use the removal from the plan of a maximum number of units as a way to incentivize affordable housing.
- On the issue of transportation and transportation management, DPAC voted unanimously to recommend that the development of a robust transit and active transportation network be thoroughly examined in subsequent steps of this process including as alternative in the EIR.
- On the issue of the financial cost to businesses of transportation management requirements, DPAC voted 11 to 1 to recommend the concerns of local businesses with respect to the potential costs of TMAs should be recognized and that the next steps of the process include robust discussion with the business community in the final design before incorporation of a TMA (Transportation Management Association) into the plan.
- For their general recommendation on the Draft Downtown Plan, DPAC voted unanimously to recommend to move the review of the first draft of the downtown plan and zoning code from DPAC to the Planning Commission for further consideration. Furthermore, that appropriate plan amendments be examined which consider the comments received to date and that those amendments be widely distributed to the community when available with the understanding that some might be available sooner rather than much later.
Currently the environmental review process is underway and includes the preparation of the EIR. The scoping period ended in November. There is a fourth workshop planned for February as well.
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