Guest Commentary: Help Crowd-Source Vetting the 1992 EIR vs Sutter 2021 expansion

 Why did the city not make this available?

By Alan Hirsch

Thanks to both the Davis Vanguard and the Davisite for making the Sutter EIR (and these supporting documents)  electronically available up on their public websites as the city hasn’t.  This public service will let the community members judge for themselves whether the 1992 EIR still covers the impact of the large expansion done 29 years later, including the Heliport and the removal of 205 trees.

Hopefully, this will lead members of the public to weigh in at the 9/21/21 Public hearing on Sutter… something they were unable to do at the July planning commission hearing when this document was not available. In fact, even to the commissioner did not have it.  Some of the commissioners noted this at the 7-14-21 meeting but staff assured them the project was “categorically exempt” as it was an insignificant change to cut down 205 trees.

This document was simple to get: I paid the city $162.24 to make a photocopy of EIR …and then paid Copyland  $62 to scan to PDF (note: the Vanguard actually scanned it free of charge). (contributions to “save Sutter trees” at would be helpful. )

I think it speaks volumes that the city planner did not require the developer (Sutter) to cover the cost of making this document transparent to public during the development review process- Sutter was paying the planner for their time.  This pose of city staff reinforces the complaint about the Sutter trees-to-solar project: the lack of public notice and public review. First by staff designing a process that -ending around input from the Tree Commission (and even Planning Commission for phase I), then keeping the approval & EIR out of the public eye for over two years,  and finally not taking input from the city 2×2 Tree-to-PV subcommittee that has spent hundreds of hours studying this issues.

Sutter EIR – Part 1 – Reduced

Sutter EIR – Part 2 – Reduced

Sutter EIR – Part 3 – Reduced

I would not be surprised if the public’s study of the EIR raises additional issues-like 1992 EIR  mitigation measure   5.13.11 that says trees are needed to cut glare in the parking lot.

Those that have EIR  concerns might ask at the 9/21 council hearing that a supplemental update to the EIR be done over 29 years before.  Send comments to or phone in a comment. be sure to cc the tree commission and me.

Sutter hospital tree>PV will set a precedent: staff proposes a finding that in effect you can cut down any tree if you put up a solar panel as this will “improve the character of the neighborhood”, the actual statement in  7-14-21 report on Sutter.

These are the EIR and related documents:

These are the documents  and the chronology:

1992 10 01 Draft EIR  Sutter Davis Hospital/HEAD properties (scanned)

1992 10 01 draft EIR technical appendices (scanned)

1993 01 31 final EIR – response to comments EIR Sutter Davis and HEAD properties (scanned).

1993 03 03 res 7126 Council EIR finding overriding consideration finding and mitigation: resolution 7126 (include both built site and open reserve and 30-acre urban reserve)

1993 03 03 res 7127  council EIR finding and mitigation resolution.7127  (hospital and HEAD ppty aka John Jones business park only)

(review in mitigations 5.13.11 trees & glare, 5.6.4 drainage   5.5.2 Habitat and trees. and others???)

2019 06 14 Public Notice of a) expansion hospital(w/ 100 tree cuttings), b) adding heliport c) cutting ~50 trees for solar (phase I) SW of buildings along Covell

( note it maintain not a new project vs 1992 plan and also how difficult it is to discover the scope and nature of tree cutting from a shrunk to 25% blueprint… and even this document was not shared with those concerned with trees in the community. )

2019 12 06   City letter authorizing hospital expansion, heliport and phase I cutting

2021 03 09  city issued cutting permit for solar Phase II (Note tree removals approved before solar panel approval)

2021 07 14 Planning Commission staff report describing on phase II – which is cutting 63 more tree for solar in parking lot west of building. (attached)

2021 07 24 Appeal file for coming of 9/21 council hearing by Alan Hirsch. to question staff process and removal of all parking lot trees for solar.

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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