By David M. Greenwald
Davis, CA – When DiSC 2022 went before the Planning Commission a few weeks ago, the commission was supportive of the project but they had a series of recommendations to strengthen it. The applicants took those recommendations to heart and made a series of changes—the most substantial was relocating several of the commitments in the Baseline Project Features and committing to the construction of a grade-separated bicycle and pedestrian crossing of Mace Blvd.
They also agreed to construct a bicycle connection from the west side of Mace Boulevard, north of the Nugget Headquarters, westward to the City’s existing trail system that runs between Lake Alhambra Estates and Harper Middle School. Committed to planting no less than 1500 trees. And eliminated the ability to use on-going funding sources to meet affordable housing goals.
The big one perhaps is the bicycle and pedestrian crossing.
“We’ve always wanted this connection and we never doubted that it’s an important connection,” Dan Ramos, the project manager, told the Vanguard on Friday.
The concern was how they could construct it up front with the project because, as Ramos pointed out, “it’s a pretty big burden up front.”
He said, “In the negotiations with the city, especially (Mayor) Gloria (Partida) and Dan (Carson) (members of the subcommittee) and they were very clear that they felt it was so important that that commitment be made.”
So he said, “We will commit to doing it.” And he said, it will occur “during our first phase before we start a second phase.”
The project, now at 102 acres, has reductions not only in the size of the project but impacts on traffic and parking.
Ramos previously noted, “Overall traffic… is cut by 55 percent.”
The FAR for the project site will be 0.71—exceeding the 0.5 FAR minimum threshold by the city in 2014 but a slight reduction from the 0.93 FAR of the previous project.
Parking spaces have been reduced from 5858 spaces to 2050 in the current configurations. With the reduction of the Office/R&D/Supportive Retail from 1.6 million sf to 630,000, the parking space allotment there reduces from 3848 to 1050.
According to the EIR, “The parking ratios used for DiSC 2022’s commercial components are consistent with those planned in the previous DISC project, which represented a considerable reduction from the parking requirements set forth in Davis Municipal Code Section 40.25.090. Similarly, at a ratio of 1:1, parking associated with the project’s residential units is proposed at a standard less than the City average and in a manner that reflects the walkability of the project site and current trends in personal transit preferences.”
The time horizon for the reduced project has been decreased from over 20 years to 10 to 15 years.
The build out would occur in two phases. Phase 1 would “consist of approximately 50 acres and would include 550,000 sf of innovation building space, 80,000 sf of supportive retail, and up to 275 residential units, comprised of single- and multi-family housing types and estimated to consist of approximately 183 multi-family units and 92 townhouse units. Construction of the residential units would be timed to slightly trail the commercial development, so that jobs are created on-site prior to offering housing.”
It continues, “Consistent with the previous DISC project, housing would be permitted at the DiSC 2022 site at a ratio of one unit for every 2,000 sf of nonresidential development (supportive retail excluded).
“The objective continues to be to time the availability of the homes to be concurrent with the creation of jobs, thereby maximizing the likelihood that on-site employees would occupy the units,” the EIR notes. “Such an approach would achieve the greatest environmental benefit of including housing within the project site.”
According to a new traffic analysis by Fehr & Peers, the DiSC 2022 project would generate 11,284 net new daily vehicle trips, with 1,052 trips occurring during the AM peak hour and 1,155 trips occurring during the PM peak hour.
This again marks a considerable reduction from the nearly 24,000 projected trips generated by the original DISC project with about 2200 during the AM peak hour and nearly 2500 during the PM peak hour.
On Tuesday the project goes before the council where staff is recommending that the council approve the project, which would send it back to the voters.
The project rejected by voters in 2020 by 52-48 margin came back last summer as a reduced size but without that bicycle and pedestrian crossing that was so crucial, given the congestion on Mace Blvd. A number of people indicated that that was a make or break issue for their support for the project and it was a focal point of the Planning Commission recommendations.
Ramos confirmed that this would be in the baseline project features (see page 52 of the staff report – B52 and B53).
“The DA requires the developer to construct several new bike/pedestrian related improvements, including providing the land for a grade separated undercrossing of Mace Blvd. This will connect the 1.5 miles of publicly accessible bike/walking trails within the DISC 2022 project to a future trail along the inside of the Mace Blvd curve,” the staff report notes.
“The developer will also be responsible for the construction of the separated grade crossing across Mace Blvd and will construct a bicycle connection from the west side of Mace Boulevard, north of the Nugget Headquarters, westward to the City’s existing trail system that runs between Lake Alhambra Estates and Harper Middle School,” it continues.