Davis City Council Votes to Include DiSC 2022 on June Ballot, Public Expresses Support

By Melanie Johnson

DAVIS, CA – On Tuesday night, the Davis City Council approved to a proposal regarding the Davis Innovation and Sustainability Campus 2022 (DiSC 2022) and held a public hearing in order to gauge public reception of the project in anticipation of the June 7, 2022 vote.

DiSC 2022, a revised version of the original DISC project previously proposed to and approved by the Davis City Council, entails the creation of a mixed-use space prioritizing research and development, product development, advanced manufacturing and office and laboratory uses.

This project would be located on a 118-acre property bordering Mace Boulevard which is presently used for agricultural purposes, and is intended to attract new companies to Davis, grow the companies already within Davis that are looking to expand and provide job opportunities which would both retain talent within Davis, and attract talent from outside of Davis.

Applicant Dan Ramos, project manager and representative for the ownership group consisting of the Ramos family and Buzz Oates Real Estate companies, prefaced the presentation by highlighting their devotion to the Davis community.

Ramos explained, “We believe in Davis, we believe in this project, and we believe in its ability to advance numerous community goals.”

Matt Keasling of Taylor & Wiley law firm, which specializes in land use and environmental law, presented key features and reforms of the project on behalf of DiSC 2022.

He emphasized that DISC is a project that has originated from, and grown alongside, the needs and desires of the Davis community, stating, “It is important to point out that the DISC project is really the outgrowth of a city-led, community-led process, to look at what the true needs of Davis were when it comes to economic development and looking at ways to leverage the university and the research that occurs there.”

Keasling cited the specific concerns and suggested reforms offered by various Davis city commissions which have helped to guide the overall evolution of the project and mold its 2022 iteration into something that better reflects the city’s values and needs.

The most notable of these revisions include reduced project size, the planting of 1500 trees on and off-site, greater emphasis on research and development and manufacturing spaces, the addition of on-site housing, increased focus on habitat expansion and sustainability, and better on-site athletic opportunities.

Keasling also attempted to proactively address potential concerns surrounding the project, primarily its negative environmental impact, worsening of traffic on Mace Boulevard and detraction from the profits of Downtown Davis businesses.

With regard to the project’s environmental impact, Keasling asserted the project’s allyship with the city of Davis in maintaining existing climate and environmental impact goals, ensuring “We have to show consistency with the city’s climate action plan.”

Keasling also alleviated concerns involving the traffic on Mace Boulevard and clarified the projects’ responsibility in mitigating negative outcomes.

He explained, “On day one we’re required to fund the city in doing a comprehensive Mace Boulevard corridor study . . . and the city is going to look at Mace comprehensively and say, ‘What needs to be done on Mace Boulevard to make it work better than it does today?’ And that will become the roadmap that guides us as the development team on the improvements that we will be required to put in place as we build out this project.”

Keasling addressed the threat of DISC businesses drawing customers away from the downtown core, and argued this would be largely subverted by the new customer base provided by employees and residents at the DISC site, who according to recent analysis, “will spend on average 8.3 million offsite within Davis [per] year.”

Bob Geolas, a nationally-recognized leader in the development of innovation districts, university campuses, and research parks, also expressed extraordinary optimism about the project and reinforced the endless benefits this project would have for both individuals and the community at large.

Referencing his own experience growing up near the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, he emphasized that “The fact that RTP existed for us, gave a kid like me from a working-class family the opportunity to grow up one day and actually have the ability to run it and to lead it.”

To Geolas, the DISC project ultimately represents “a commitment by your community to create a place that creates new opportunities, diversify your economy, retain and attract talent, and to create hope and opportunity for other young kids like another Bob Geolas, but in Davis, who can make an impact and hopefully make the world a better place.”

However, the project is not without its critics. While a majority of public commenters expressed support for DiSC 2022 during the public hearing, public commenter Ron Oertel brought forth his concerns.

He stated, “I’m really disappointed that the council is once again going to create division in the city and foist a controversial proposal onto the city, and I’m also saddened that you guys think it’s a good idea to keep spreading outward on the prime farmland, especially farmland that’s highly visible in a town that really doesn’t have a lot of connection directly to agriculture at this point.”

But in spite of criticisms like these, Mayor Partida emphasized the overwhelmingly positive effect this project and others like it can have on the community. In acknowledging public hesitation towards the project, she stated “the important question . . . is balancing the benefits we are looking at. So, are those benefits big enough to mitigate our concerns? And I do believe that they are for this project”

She demonstrated the potential of innovation centers to be “where the most pressing problems to the quality of life are solved,” citing their capacity to encourage crucial developments such as “the answers to climate change” and “the vaccine to the next pandemic.”

Mayor Partida also reiterated the benefit to young people in the Davis community. She stressed, “There are few places where there is a ready supply of talent and commitment to discovery as there is here. We have heard this evening of the many people who are graduating from our world class university, who are wanting to stay here, who are wanting to further their careers here.”

She offered the additional disclaimer that “almost all changes to our landscape have been opposed.” Citing the success of Mace Ranch and Central Park that were strongly opposed by some community members, Partida continued, “All of these changes have deepened the richness of our community even though they were so fiercely opposed.”

Ultimately, the Davis City Council voted unanimously to place DiSC 2022 on the June ballot.

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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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17 Comments

  1. Ron Oertel

    “Public expresses support”.

    Is this anything like the other article, in which “Davis demands police reform”?

    ” . . .in order to gauge public reception of the project in anticipation of the June 7th, 2022 vote.”

    Is that right? What did they find out?

    Was I the only one who had concerns, as implied in the article?

    1. Alan Miller

      “Public expresses support”.

      Is this anything like the other article, in which “Davis demands police reform”?

      Ha!  I was going to write the same thing!

    1. Todd Edelman

      33 public comments in favor and 15 opposed.

      That’s roughly 30% opposed. So why does this piece only devote about 8% to the opposition?

      Perhaps this makes sense when, as DISC is peripheral to Davis, journalism is peripheral to public relations. If the student is receiving course credit in a marketing program for this, that seems fine… but in a journalism class?

      If the latter she could have added, e.g. “While supporter Councilperson Dan Carson showed slides during the discussion, there was nothing similar from UC Davis administration. This is unlike roughly similar efforts in the well-known Triangle Park ecosystem, and in fact a representative of Triangle Park spoke in support of DISC. There were no official comments from UC Davis administration.”

       

      1. Ron Oertel

        journalism is peripheral to public relations.

        journalism is “peripheral” to the Vanguard and most of its interns.

        If the student is receiving course credit in a marketing program for this, that seems fine… but in a journalism class?

        Either way it’s not “fine” – it’s actually a form of corruption.

        And no, it’s probably not a journalism course.

        1. Alan Miller

          journalism is “peripheral” to the Vanguard and most of its interns.

          No, not really.  Have you watched CNN, PBS, MSNBC recently.  It’s “new journalism”, but it is journalism.  You and I may not like it, but it is prevalent.   The good news is there are growing resources to counter that and growing.  And I don’t mean Fox News, which is the same garbage reflected in the mirror.

  2. Ron Oertel

    She offered the additional disclaimer that “almost all changes to our landscape have been opposed.” Citing the success of Mace Ranch and Central Park that were strongly opposed by some community members, Partida continued, “All of these changes have deepened the richness of our community even though they were so fiercely opposed.”

    Seems to me that those opposed to Mace Ranch (and the “shenanigans” that occurred regarding that) are similar to those opposed to DiSC.

    While those who supported a retail mall at Central Park (INSTEAD of what exists today – including a farmer’s market) are similar to the DiSC supporters.

    Why would Gloria lump those two groups “together”? Does she actually not see any difference?

    In any case, those who currently live in Mace Ranch (part of Gloria’s district) are overwhelmingly-opposed to the proposal. Do you think they’ll remember that, when she’s up for re-election?

    Of course, DiSC would negatively impact far-more than Mace Ranch.

  3. Alan Miller

    Citing the success of Mace Ranch and Central Park that were strongly opposed by some community members . . .

    Wait, what?!???  “Honey, would you go to the hardware store and get me a kitten and a kumquat?”

    Mace Ranch and Central Park ???  Those aren’t even like the same thing.  Unless the mayor is under the impression that Mace Ranch is actually a ranch.

  4. tkeller

    He stated, “I’m really disappointed that the council is once again going to create division in the city and foist a controversial proposal onto the city, and I’m also saddened that you guys think it’s a good idea to keep spreading outward on the prime farmland, especially farmland that’s highly visible in a town that really doesn’t have a lot of connection directly to agriculture at this point.”

    Says the guy who seemingly has no objections to the innovation park planned for woodland, and has suggested that the companies who might go to disc could be just as happy there…or the housing developments in woodland that have sprung up becuase they dont get build in Davis.

    Isn’t development on the south side of woodland ALSO consist of “spreading out onto prime farmland”???

    [edited]
    If we dont built it here.. IT STILL GETS BUILT – just elsewhere.  And Davis residents need to get in cars to get there…. that is not a win for ANYONE.

    1. Matt Williams

      If we dont built it here.. IT STILL GETS BUILT – just elsewhere.  And Davis residents need to get in cars to get there…. that is not a win for ANYONE

      Tim, are your first two statements true?  Using the recent example of Bayer’s move from Davis to West Sac, the space they moved to was already built.

      Regarding your third sentence, your point is only true if there are existing Davis residents who do not choose to live close to their work. Given the high cost of housing in Davis, my suspicions are that very few young UCD graduates (the target employee demographic) would choose to pay a higher monthly rent in Davis and commute each day up or down Interstate 80 to their place of work. They will be much more likely to pay lower rent in the community where they work.

      1. tkeller

        Matt I dont understand your question regarding Bayer.     If they had found identical space in Davis, they probably would have set up here instead.  Right?

        But yes.  Demand is demand.   I REALLY hate the “paving over farmland” argument because what I said is exactly what has happened.  we have just shifted that “loss of farmland” elsewhere.  NOT a win for the Davis, OR the environment.

        How many university employees / staff / faculty do you know that live in spring lake and commute down 113 every day?   I know quite a few.

        The market is the market.  People who are fighting the growth of davis are not affecting the market for commercial and residential space near the university.   They are just making sure that whatever DOES get developed is further away, and requires people to get in their cars instead.

        1. Ron Oertel

          They are just making sure that whatever DOES get developed is further away, and requires people to get in their cars instead.

          Sounds like a reason to support commercial development in the location where they actually live.

          But truthfully, either of these locations is essentially a comparable distance from UCD. Given that one of the locations – DiSC, is separated by the town, itself.

          Whereas the other one is a “straight shot” via Highway 113.

          But the bottom line is that no one (nor any decision that Davis makes) ultimately has much impact on “[edited] Woodland”. They would likely be pursuing the same amount of development, regardless.

          The only question would be, can they “sell it”. (At best, decisions that Davis makes might “delay” Woodland’s [edited] plans.)

        2. Ron Oertel

          [edited] Woodland

          Indeed.  They need a Measure J. 🙂

          Of course, they’re also somewhat of a suburb of Sacramento, as is Davis. And apparently, all of the Sacramento valley is increasingly considered part of the Bay Area mega-region. Which sounds pretty ominous, to me.

          https://www.msn.com/en-us/video/peopleandplaces/bay-area-s-great-migration-is-creating-a-megaregion/vi-AATge1N?ocid=windirect

          Note in the video how the “poorer” people still migrate to the Stockton area.

        3. tkeller

          Ron, thank you for your amazing display of logical flexibility.

          But truthfully, either of these locations is essentially a comparable distance from UCD. Given that one of the locations – DiSC, is separated by the town, itself.
           
          Whereas the other one is a “straight shot” via Highway 113.

          You really WILL make whatever argument you can, despite truth, logic, reason, or consequence wont you?

          This is of course a bonkers argument.  That “town” that you say separates the university from DiSC so inconveniently…Is the town where the people who need access to BOTH facilities live.    It’s actually quite convenient.

          And of course for someone who likes to cite environmental motivations, you are also quite eager to suggest alternatives that absolutely necessitate automotive transportation.

          Your arguments should not be taken seriously, because they aren’t intellectually honest.

          You have already decided that you don’t like pretty much any development, and will make whatever convenient argument you can to support that pre-conceived conclusion.

          By the way, while we are on the topic of “finding arguments to fit your position”   If the people who are running the “no on B” website are going to update that site for this new coming campaign, can I ask that you also not do the same?

          The list of top 10 reasons to vote no against disc is full of logical fallacies and a number of outright lies and gross exaggerations.   Our civic process in this town should be based on facts, and an honest weighing of the pros and cons of the decision before the voters.   

           

        4. Ron Oertel

          You really WILL make whatever argument you can, despite truth, logic, reason, or consequence wont you?

          Really?  You’re actually coming back for “more”?

          This is of course a bonkers argument.  That “town” that you say separates the university from DiSC so inconveniently…Is the town where the people who need access to BOTH facilities live.    It’s actually quite convenient.

          Woodland is the town that’s rapidly adding new housing and residents, not Davis. 

          What’s the unemployment rate in Davis?  Are there lots of people waiting-around for DiSC to open, to provide them with a career? And in the meantime, they’re either making rent payments or mortgage payments, without an income?

          And of course for someone who likes to cite environmental motivations, you are also quite eager to suggest alternatives that absolutely necessitate automotive transportation.

          The point is that neither location is particularly-close to UCD.  Then again, I’m not sure what either facility’s actual “connection” is to UCD in the first.

          By the way, are you sure that there won’t be some type of public (or semi-public) transit between the site in Woodland and UCD?  There’s already bus service (including a commuter line) between the two locales.

          Your arguments should not be taken seriously, because they aren’t intellectually honest.

          You seem to be implying that I’m arguing FOR the Woodland site, INSTEAD of DiSC.

          The fact is that the Woodland proposal is already a “done deal”.  The only decision to make is whether or not Davis sprawls outward, beyond a logical boundary.  (Along with all of the other growth that would bring, in the form of Shriner’s, Palomino Ranch, the spot inside the Mace curve, and of course – the “other” half of DiSC – which would likely be a housing proposal.)

          By the way, while we are on the topic of “finding arguments to fit your position”   If the people who are running the “no on B” website are going to update that site for this new coming campaign, can I ask that you also not do the same?

          I don’t understand this question.  You want me to not “update” my arguments?  Too late – I’m already starting to do so.

          Personally, I think the “first” proposal of DiSC was actually superior, given that it included the “other half” of the site, rather than the shenanigans that no doubt would subsequently occur regarding that.  (For example, I suspect that the bicycle crossing will ultimately be dependent upon the “other half” – which would likely be strictly a housing development.)

          Of course, the “first” proposal of DISC wasn’t really the first, when you consider all of the other iterations which were temporarily put forth prior to it losing at the ballot.

          And of course, the earlier versions (which didn’t even make it to the ballot) were actually what the city originally had in mind, regarding the site.

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