BREAKING NEWS: DISC Back with Revised, Smaller Project

By David M. Greenwald

Davis, CA – Eight months after the first DISC project failed at the polls, the partners of Ramco and Buzz Oates are back with a second project – this one considerably smaller at 102 acres and just over one million square feet.

“At 102 acres the new DiSC 2022 plan is about half as large as the proposal that appeared on the November 2020 ballot. As with the previous plan, DiSC 2022 includes laboratory, R&D and advanced manufacturing facilities, homes designed to appeal to innovation center employees, affordable housing, a hotel and parks. Tech-oriented employment facilities total approximately 1.1 million square feet, about half of what was proposed in 2020, and the number of housing units is reduced by nearly half from 850 to 460,” a release read.

“Because the demand is strong and growing for an innovation center close to the university, we’ve decided to try one more time to get a plan approved. We believe there’s an appetite in Davis for a smaller plan that is responsive to the community and the market,” said Dan Ramos, vice president of Ramco Enterprises and DiSC 2022 project manager.

“The changes we’re making are in direct response to what we’ve heard from the community,” said Ramos. “We also now have insight into what post-COVID work environments will look like and our updated plan reflects those realities. What hasn’t changed is the need for research and advanced-manufacturing facilities to deal with global challenges like climate change and food security, especially so close to a leading research university like UC Davis.”

Reynolds & Brown, which owns property that comprised the northern portion of the earlier plan, is no longer involved in the project. “We’re directing our resources to other projects and are not going forward in Davis,” said Dana Parry, president and CEO of Reynolds & Brown.

DISC in November failed by a 52-48 margin or about 1300 votes.

Critics of the project complained about traffic impacts as well as the overall size last year.  In addition, many observers felt that the uncertainty created by the pandemic and the absence of students on campus were causes of the voter denial.

In the meantime, there were generally positive comments from various stakeholders in Thursday’s release.

“UC Davis encourages projects that bring economic development to our region and produce opportunities for our shared communities,” said UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May.

“As the voice of the Davis business community, we’re planning to play an active role in communicating broadly about the plan’s many benefits for the city,” said Cory Koehler, executive director of the Davis Chamber of Commerce.

According to Ramos, numerous tech firms have expressed interest in locating at the DiSC. “We know there is strong demand within and outside of the region for the type of facilities we plan to develop. There will be no problem finding leading-edge tech tenants when the plan is approved,” Ramos said.

Local tech leaders also have indicated they are supportive of the DiSC 2022’s implementation.

“There isn’t enough space in Davis to accommodate all of the innovation-focused businesses that would like to be here. We need DiSC 2022 to retain more of the companies that are being formed through research done at UC Davis,” said Justin Siegel, a Davis-based entrepreneur and founder of five biotech companies.

The project could potentially go on the ballot for June 2022 vote.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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42 Comments

  1. Ron Oertel

    Gee, what a surprise.

    And hey – it looks like they’re resurrecting the “ARC” name, per the image.

    In the meantime, there were generally positive comments from various stakeholders in Thursday’s release.

    Uh, huh – as was the case last time.  Who, exactly “sought out” those comments on such short notice?

    Well – back to the campaign, again. Do you think the Vanguard might write some articles about this, up until the election?

    And since it’s “smaller”, does that mean that they think they can “re-use” the traffic study and EIR?

      1. Ron Oertel

        Any details regarding the Affordable component, and changes from last time regarding that?

        Parking, etc.?

        I wonder how they can simply make it “smaller”, and still occupy the same amount of space. I guess we’ll see.

        1. Ron Oertel

          “Noise” has been occurring regarding this, for about the past several weeks on here.

          It’s unfortunate that they can’t give it a rest. It’s just an endless war, isn’t it. Stamp out one brushfire, only to have another one quickly arise. (Not just limited to this peripheral development proposal, either. For sure, there will be others – especially if this one passes.)

          1. David Greenwald

            There really hasn’t been any noise on this. The discussion around development has focused almost exclusively on the Housing Element and Tim Keller’s presentation on Tuesday (which had nothing to do with this either).

          1. David Greenwald

            Forgot about the Aggie Square thing. (I have an exceedingly short memory). Again, I knew nothing until this morning when I got a call from Dan Ramos letting me know.

    1. Bill Marshall

      After following the link (and thanks for providing it), I see two issues:  1)  easterly intersection to Second/CR 32-A should be moved further to the east, so it comes in on tangent, not a curve; 2) northerly buffer coincides with the drainage ditch for Mace Ranch Park… needs to be widened (to the north) to provide for the opportunity to create a grade-separated multi-use path to connect MRP with the proposed project.

      Only ~ 10 minutes of review, those were the only two serious issues I saw. [My perspective]

  2. Ron Oertel

    I see that they “left out” the entire northern half of the previous development.  Presumably to come back later, for another bite at the apple.

    http://documents.cityofdavis.org/Media/CommunityDevelopment/Documents/PDF/CDD/Planning/Project-Applications/DiSC%202022/Annexation%20Area%20DiSC%202022_070721.pdf

    Hotel seems to be the only thing that hasn’t changed, along with the small plot for transit.

    https://www.cityofdavis.org/city-hall/community-development-and-sustainability/disc-2022

     

     

      1. Bill Marshall

        David… you need to understand that, for some, the maxim “never let facts get in the way of a ‘spun narrative’, or conjecture…” is ‘golden’…

        I predict another ‘test’ of the five comment ‘guideline’ will be made momentarily…

      2. Moderator

        You used up your five comments for today on this topic in 30 minutes. There will be further opportunities to discuss this project as more details become available.

      3. Ron Oertel

        Quotes like that are meaningless.  The property is not “moving on”.

        I’ll stop commenting, here. (Just saw the moderator’s comment as I was typing.)

        (I know that David is allowed more than 5.)

  3. Keith Y Echols

    The project originally was clunky in concept; partially due to the requirements placed on it to sell it to people of Davis.  But I supported it because I thought it was a step (a poorly coordinated step) in the right direction.  Bringing and developing businesses to Davis.  While I generally oppose local residential growth and development; I see it as the cost of doing business to kick start future business development  The services and impact on infrastructure the city must provide those homes is investment capital into the future for hopefully further economic development.

    “The changes we’re making are in direct response to what we’ve heard from the community,”

    I wonder what changes they think they can make this time that will sway the community?  I’m not sure anything short of building another on/off ramp onto 80 to avoid Mace all together will do it.

    1. Bill Marshall

      With half the size of the project, expect willingness to do no more than half the previously proposed ‘mitigations’… might still get a grade-separated  multi-use (bike/ped) across Mace (benefits the project), but another ramp, between time, CalTrans concurrence, R/W, etc. is a figment of a very fertile imagination… ain’t a happening thing…

        1. Bill Marshall

          To clarify… when I posted @ around 6 P, hadn’t seen the proposed site plan… now that I have seen it, and the residential component, feel even stronger about the need for a multi-use path connecting (along the n’ly boundary of MRP) to the N/S facility on east side of MRP…

          Assuming at least some of the new residential would have school aged kids, very important for bike/ped access towards Korematsu and/or Harper.  In addition to advantages to adults not needing to use cars for commute, access to other services…

      1. David Greenwald

        I guess he can take credit for it. From where I sit, he connected dots that didn’t actually exist, read tea leaves that were actually spinach, and ended up making a prediction that turned out to be true. Is that being right? You decide.

  4. Alan Miller

    I don’t see the see the difference.  The thing had a 20-30 year build-out, didn’t it?  So if this passes, the first half gets built over 10-15 years just like before, and then if there’s still demand, there’s another vote.  Same as it ever was.  Same as it ever was.

  5. Richard_McCann

    The vote was quite close last time, especially given the absence of students. I’ll be interested to see if they have addressed many of the concerns raised by City commissions.

  6. Tim Keller

    I’m obviously pleased to hear that this is coming back.   But I have to say that I’m a little disappointed that it is just the same proposal cut in half.    I would rather just have us entitle a much larger chunk of land and let it fill up more slowly so as to give those companies that might want to come here a little bit of assurance that there IS a future for them here in Davis when they are ready.

    It is THAT uncertainty I think, that really kills our opportunities.   Now, once this project is filled, we are back to a war for annexing the OTHER half and even more uncertainty…  sigh.

    Also, if we wanted to ask the developers to do better in terms of transit, which I think is critical, now, with half of the project, how can the city plan a robust transit system… do they plan for the other half of this to eventually get built out?  or don’t they?..  And as Bill pointed out, it is going to be twice as hard to ask the developers do to more..

    If I could plan this project, I would be pitching it more like a “business district”  A really high density, “second downtown” focused on the high tech sector with a REALLY robust transit link to downtown and campus.  That would make it more like a “second nexus” for the town, and less like a “peripheral development.”   Which makes a lot of sense I think, especially given that it is already at the best developed freeway exit we have in this town.

    Its hard to know what they are thinking based on the info here, but I think it would be a waste to do anything less dense than what we are apparently considering for downtown:  7 stories of residential over ground-level commercial..     Given that there are no neighbors here to complain about “blocked views”   I dont see any reason to put ANY height cap on this… And again, if this project is connected to downtown and campus via a GOOD transit system, then why not use this opportunity to put in a LOT of housing?

    In the same vein, I also think we should watch the parking plan carefully.   I have become a fan of the “high cost of free parking” way of thinking, and I think we could do MUCH better than repeat the same crimes of high parking requirements.

    Separate line of thought:   I think its interesting that Reynolds and brown are just “sitting this one out”   What are they going to do with the land?  Such a waste.  Could the city exercise eminent domain on that land and be part of the development group?   Buy the land now at fair market value and sell it off in lots after it is entitled?

    Not to say Im not happy to hear that this is back on the menu, (and I expected it WOULD )   But I would rather it be something that we debate once and set the city on the right path for these issues for the next 10-20 years…

    The last thing I think will be important is the principal issue that I engaged on during the last campaign:   I will be looking to address is the commitment of the developers to proactivley build the innovation space, and we NEED some indication and what their business model is going to be.

    As I have expressed in other venues, it is NOT enough to merely entitle the land and label it “innovation space”   Without a compatible business model, it’s NOT innovation space.. its just commercial real estate, most of which does NOT work for startup companies.

    1. Alan Miller

      Given that there are no neighbors here to complain about “blocked views”

      Mace Ranch residents don’t exist  😐

      I dont see any reason to put ANY height cap on this…

      “We built a tower of stone, with our flesh and bone” — Ronnie James Dio

      And again, if this project is connected to downtown and campus via a GOOD transit system, then why not use this opportunity to put in a LOT of housing?

      This is not going to be light rail, so let’s call it what it is — a bus.  Is that GOOD?  Well, it’s ‘good’ and I support it.  But a robust transit system in Davis is a bike a scooter or an Uber.  Even if the market share of bus ridership doubled, and it won’t, it’s a drop in a tiny bucket.

      Could the city exercise eminent domain on that land and be part of the development group?

      Oh, so you’re one of THOSE kinds of Republicans.  Private property for the public good for a development.  And if you aren’t a Republican, I’ll apologize, right after you apologize for the two incorrect facts you presented about me, which matter — now that: “It’s Back!”

      I will be looking to address is the commitment of the developers to proactivley build the innovation space,

      The build out of the innovation space is a very important to everyone.  That’s what is on everyone’s mind.  I hear it everywhere I go.  7-11, Lucky’s, Blue Mango, Zapple Records, Casa Hernandez, Murder Burger, A&W, Quessenberry Drug, Nations Hamburger, Cost Plus, Larry Blake’s.  They’re all talking about it.  They all care.

      As I have expressed in other venues, it is NOT enough to merely entitle the land and label it “innovation space”

      On that, we agree.

      1. Tim Keller

        Mace Ranch residents don’t exist  

        Im one of them.   I live in THE closest neighborhood to this, just on the other side of John Baravetto park.  Do we need to enact the “dont comment on my neighborhood and I wont comment on yours” truce?

         

        “We built a tower of stone, with our flesh and bone” — Ronnie James Dio

        Horrible idea.  Stone is bad choice for seismic reasons.   Flesh and bone is also cost prohibitive.

        This is not going to be light rail, so let’s call it what it is — a bus.  Is that GOOD?  Well, it’s ‘good’ and I support it.  But a robust transit system in Davis is a bike a scooter or an Uber.  Even if the market share of bus ridership doubled, and it won’t, it’s a drop in a tiny bucket.

        Would It shock you to hear that I have an even crazier idea than THAT?  But yes, it needs to START as a bus.   Lets say however, that we end up doing a good job building up the density of this corner of davis and it really is a “business district”    it would be wise to have already thought out and preserved a right-of-way for a light rail so that it IS possible in the future.

        But I agree that bicycles are a common sense transit option for this town,    Especially now that E-Bikes are a reality, it is even more of a reasonable assumption to think that people can bike from DISC into downtown and onto campus.. but do you know what REALLY sucks?  Biking down east 2nd street.    The lanes are not well defined and the traffic going past rarely sticks to the 45 MPH limit.   I ride an electric skateboard that way all the time… and im not a fan.

        So lets integrate into this plan some options for biking and for a bus and preserve the option for a rail system into the future.

        Oh, so you’re one of THOSE kinds of Republicans.  Private property for the public good for a development.  And if you aren’t a Republican, I’ll apologize, right after you apologize for the two incorrect facts you presented about me, which matter — now that: “It’s Back!”

        Im a “libertarian moderate”   I want the government only to intervene in places where the market breaks down, but I’m enough of a rationalist to understand that the market breaks down in a LOT of places…   And coordinating growth is one of those places where if you dont manage it from above, you get cities that develop the way Boston did… a freaking mess.

        And I WILL apologize for making incorrect assumptions about you.   Its the sarcasm.  There needs to be a sarcasm font or something, because unless you are good at picking up on it, from reading your posts it DOES seem like you are against pretty much everything.    I dont think im alone in that.

         

        1. Alan Miller

          And I WILL apologize for making incorrect assumptions about you.

          Apology accepted.  I wasn’t sure you’d even read those, but you get a pallet of Alan points for that.  Amazing the lack of being able to do such a simple act ’round these parts.

          Its the sarcasm.  There needs to be a sarcasm font or something,

          It’s the:  😐

          because unless you are good at picking up on it, from reading your posts it DOES seem like you are against pretty much everything.

          I’m a contrarian libertarian.

          I dont think im alone in that.

          That’s on purpose.  Why say what you believe, when you can confuse everyone instead?

    2. David Greenwald

      Tim as I understand it, they would have come back with a similar project had Reynolds and Brown wanted to continue. The reduced size project was not strategic.

    3. Keith Y Echols

       And again, if this project is connected to downtown and campus via a GOOD transit system, then why not use this opportunity to put in a LOT of housing?

      Why would the city of Davis want to incur that kind of cost for a LOT of housing? (and no, a few $100 per person from property tax doesn’t make up for the costs.  Nor does the sales tax revenue….when it’s better to have people shop here and leave).  As I said, I’m okay with swallowing the cost of putting up a new commercial business park through some approved housing.  But I sure don’t want to have to swallow a lot of it if I don’t have to.

        Without a compatible business model, it’s NOT innovation space.. its just commercial real estate, most of which does NOT work for startup companies.

      Then maybe DISC shouldn’t attract startups; maybe it should attract more mature companies.

      Its hard to know what they are thinking based on the info here, but I think it would be a waste to do anything less dense than what we are apparently considering for downtown:  7 stories of residential over ground-level commercial..   

      Who do you think lives here in the Sacramento region?  It’s not an urban culture.  It’s the land of single family residential homes.  If you have to move to the Sacramento region, you’ll probably want your own house and yard.  Metro urban areas are created out of necessity (lack of land).  Davis maybe be constrained (because of politics) but the rest of the region isn’t.

      1. Tim Keller

        So Keith, I figured out the disconnect between your position and mine BTW with regards to housing and costs.   Matt Williams explained it to me, and my summary is this…  (I’d be interested to see if you agree.)

        Building housing DOES increase costs for the city which should, in theory, be more than offset by property taxes, and development fees.

        But in reality, developers have various ways of sneaking out of paying the actual differential costs through things like ignoring the effects of inflation, or creating loopholes etc etc.

        So I was living in the land of what “should happen in theory” and you were dealing with “what tends to actually happen”

        This is probably made worse by the “politician effect” of wanting to simultaneously spend money AND not raise taxes… which is a mismanagement problem of its own.

        So… on balance.. you were more right than I was, because we cant live in “theorietical reality”.  That said, I would suggest that part of our duty when considering growth NEEDS to be to hold the developers AND the city accountable for being realitic about both the short and the long-term costs.

        If we could do that, would you still say that building housing is a losing proposition?

        There is another discussion we have regarding sales tax revenue, because It seems that your view is that we should build retail instead of housing, which is pretty much 180 degrees from the what I have seen appetite for in this town… but Ill save that for another thread…

        1. Matt Williams

          Keith and Tim, excellent dialogue.  I think it would be good to have this issue have an article (or series of articles of its own).  If the two of you are game, I would be glad to co-author with you.  Tim and I will discuss this idea further by e-mail.  Keith, how can we plug you into the discussion?

  7. Matt Williams

    Reynolds & Brown, which owns property that comprised the northern portion of the earlier plan, is no longer involved in the project. “We’re directing our resources to other projects and are not going forward in Davis,” said Dana Parry, president and CEO of Reynolds & Brown.

    .
    That is an interesting development, since Reynolds and Brown were touted as the “Marketing Experts” in the DISC project team.  Where is this revised, smaller DISC going to get its Marketing team from now that R&B have given up the ghost.

    1. Tim Keller

      yeah… I think that anyone who calls themselves a “marketing expert” is just trying to justify a lifestyle which includes employer subsidized golf…   The real estate industry is crawling with “marketing experts”  and THIS project is NOT going to be hard to market…

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