Monday Morning Thoughts: Aggie Square Is a Reminder of What Could Have Been for Davis

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Last week, UC Davis, the City of Sacramento, and project developer Wexford Science & Technology celebrated a critical milestone in the Aggie Square project with a ceremonial groundbreaking.

As UC Davis noted in a release, “Aggie Square is an innovation hub that brings together university research and teaching, industry and the community to create opportunities for communities across the region. It will be home to research programs, private industry partners, classrooms, student housing, and public-facing programs that engage local communities and entrepreneurs.”

“Aggie Square is the ultimate ‘innovation ecosystem.’ It’s part laboratory, classroom, workplace, business incubator and community gathering place,” said Gary S. May, UC Davis Chancellor. “We’re building a place where companies, researchers, students, faculty and community advocates work side by side, where cutting-edge UC Davis research powers innovative companies, and where UC Davis provides training for up-and-coming industries and for residents who live in surrounding neighborhoods.”

“I’m proud that our city has partnered with both UC Davis and our community to make Aggie Square a reality,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg.  “We are creating an economic center with thousands of new jobs, and the people in our neighborhoods will be the primary beneficiaries. Aggie Square stands as an example of what is possible.”

Construction on Phase 1 of the project will begin this spring. This phase includes two buildings designed for science, technology and engineering and a Lifelong Learning Building dedicated to classrooms and public programs.

Aggie Square will address the need for additional research space in Sacramento, especially “wet lab” space for both academic and industrial use. It will help attract both government and private research funding to Sacramento and UC Davis.

“The Aggie Square project is a significant milestone for economic development in the Sacramento region, which will continue to propel the state capital of California into a world-class science community,” Greater Sacramento Economic Council President and CEO Barry Broome said.

He added, “UC Davis’ Aggie Square mixed-used innovation district will have 1 million square feet of research, wet labs, commercial space and will help continue our efforts recruiting the best and brightest life science companies.”

This is good news for the most part.  It shows how quickly, with a collaborative relationship between city and university, these projects can get planned and built out.  This will be a tremendous benefit both for UC Davis and the region.

At the same time, it is a reminder of what could have been for Davis.  When DISC came before the voters in 2020, one of the complaints from critics of the project was a lukewarm (at best) statement from UC Davis.  Why was UC Davis not fully backing the project?

The answer is why would they put themselves on the line for a project that might never pass a vote at the ballot box?  Why would they subject themselves to the Davis spanking machine?

The history here does not bode well.  In the early 2000s, for example following the passage of Measure J, UC Davis recognized that they needed more housing on campus and they planned West Village.  But what happened when they had community meetings was so over the top, that it colored UC Davis’ entire approach to development in Davis ever since—even 15 years after the fact.

Still, when the city of Davis came forward with their RFEI and put forward potential innovation center proposals in 2013-14, UC Davis, which had set aside land in Solano County for a large innovation center, decided to scrap those plans.

It was only when both innovation center projects fell apart in Davis, and with Gary May on board, that they started looking toward Aggie Square.

Think about this timeline.  In 2010, the city of Davis first had D-SIDE discussions about the need for economic development.  The Studio 30 report came out in 2012—a decade ago now.  The RFEI’s went out in 2013 and the first plans landed in 2014.

It took until 2020 to get one of those projects to a ballot, where it was voted down.  So, the soonest one of the projects could be approved is in 2022.

Meanwhile UC Davis and Sacramento announced plans for Aggie Square in April 2018, and four years later it is breaking ground.

Why would UC Davis get behind a project in Davis when its prospects are long, drawn out, and uncertain?

And yet, we know that if we entitle land in Davis, it can succeed in bringing in top companies as well as be a fertile ground for startups.  Even with limited space, Davis has managed to have many successes over the past decade.

We have seen startup ventures like Ag Start and Inventopia fill up their space.

This week the Sacramento Business Journal reported that the “Davis-based Botanical Solution Inc. has raised $6.1 million to expand its development of agricultural and pharmaceutical compounds derived from plants, and it’s looking for a research and development lab space in Davis or along the Interstate 80 corridor.”

What Davis lacks is space for additional startups and space for larger and more established companies to come here.  But until UC Davis and others are convinced that Davis voters will support such projects, they’ll be looking to put their money and their reputation in places where they know the community will support them.

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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57 Comments

  1. Alan Pryor

    It took until 2020 to get one of those projects to a ballot whereby it was voted down.

    Meanwhile UC Davis and Sacramento announced plans for Aggie Square in April 2018 and four years later it is breaking ground.

    Why would UC Davis get behind a project in Davis when its prosects are long, drawn out, and uncertain?

    You act as if UCD just started with a blank piece of paper in 2018 and all of a sudden dirt is being turned in 2022. In fact, 2018 was just when they unveiled the plans for public scrutiny.  The initial planning for Aggie Square started almost 8 years before 2018. I know a planner at UCD who said discussions started around 2010 and that UCD was then weighing options like Katehi’s World Food Institute dream at the Railyards. That never materialized because they could not get a cooperating Developer that gave them a financial stake in the outcome other than just saying we’ll lease you building space or sell you a block of land in the Railyards at a stiff price.

    The reason UCD got behind Aggie Square (and not DISC) is because UCD is an originating and controlling partner in the Aggie Square project and shares in the financial fruits of its success. The proposition offered to UCD by Ramco was “Tell the world you are 100% behind us so we’ll make a lot more money without having to share any of it with you as a partner“. If UCD were offered a piece of the acton at DISC I expect UCD would fall all over themselves gushing about it like they are doing at Aggie Square.

    1. David Greenwald

      “You act as if UCD just started with a blank piece of paper in 2018 and all of a sudden dirt is being turned in 2022.”

      Okay. But it is still four years versus a decade and still not even approved in Davis, so I’m not sure your correction is that noteworthy.

      UC Davis would have gotten behind and partnered on a similar project in Davis if they had any belief that you wouldn’t run them through the spanking machine and see to it that the project gets rejected.

      1. Alan Pryor

        But it is still four years versus a decade and still not even approved in Davis

        No it is about 12 years for each – both “visioning” processes started in 2010.

        Maybe, just maybe, the DISC Developer is responsible for the longer delays in getting the DISC project started and not the “spanking” you claim local citizens have been giving them. After all, UCD and the City were both sued over Aggie Square but they worked with the locals to quickly resolve the problems and Aggie Square is moving ahead. Nobody in Davis has sued the DISC project. They just think it is a bad deal for Davis with too much traffic and adverse impacts vs too little benefits to the community. I think you otherwise overestimate both the influence that local opponents have in in the whole DISC approval process and the capabilities of the DISC Developer and their City partners.

        UC Davis would have gotten behind and partnered on a similar project in Davis if they had any belief that you wouldn’t run them through the spanking machine and see to it that the project gets rejected.

        This is total conjecture and speculation on your part. I imagine that if UCD really stood up and wanted to be a part of DISC (e.g. given any sort of meaningful equity participation) that their weight behind the project would have completely overshadowed the “spanking” you claim that local opponents of the project would have otherwise given them. Maybe, just maybe, it is the Developer and their oppressive track record in Davis (think Mace Ranch 20 years ago – see ​https://www.cityofdavis.org/about-davis/history-symbols/davis-history-books/growing-pains-chapter-6.) that UCD wanted no part of.

        One other difference is the degree to which the proponents of Aggie Square (both UCD and the City of Sacramento) worked early on with the locals to resolve their differences (albeit after the locals filed a lawsuit forcing UCD and the City to cut a final deal) whereas here in Davis the Developer and the City of Davis worked with each other behind closed doors to work out the final details of their deal. Maybe, just maybe, if the City and Developer held a series of community meetings starting years ago with the locals that the problems and backlash we see now could have been averted. That didn’t happen because of the hubris and arrogance of the Council and the Developer that led them to believe that they could work out a deal between themselves and ignore community input.

  2. Alan Pryor

    In the article on groundbreaking at Aggie Square in the Enterprise it stated, “The university also promised that 20% of the new ongoing jobs at Aggie Square will be filled by nearby residents. Those include entry-level and higher-wage jobs that the project will create. After 10 years, the share of new jobs allocated to local residents will rise to 25%.

    The Natural Resources Commission (NRC) suggested something similar to the DISC Developer to ensure that employees of the project could live at the site. It did so by recommending that the Master Owners Ass. (MOA) of the new development master lease 50% of the residential units at DISC and sub-rent them to employees at the project. In this manner, most of the units at the project would, in fact, be occupied by employees thereby eliminating the commute that such employees would otherwise be required to make to get to work. In addition to relieving traffic congestion, this would eliminate the polltuion and greenhouse gases associated with those extra commute trips.

    Aggie Square is already located in a part of the Sacramento region where vehicle miles traveled (VMT) per day (roughly 20 VMT daily) for both residents and employees are substantially less than that anticipated for DISC (approximately 35 VMT daily). This means that the Aggie Square project has a substantially lower carbon footprint on a per employee or per resident basis than does DISC.

    The NRC recommendation would have closed this average VMT/employee gap between Aggie Square and DISC by ensuring that the residences at DISC were filled by employees of the projects instead of being filled up with Bay Area super-commuters who are willing to pay a higher price for housing compared to local residents.

    But the NRC’s recommendation was refused by the Developer who simply said it was infeasible without providing any further explanation..

  3. Ron Glick

    Oh well, I guess entry level jobs in Davis, to help move some of the many poor people in Yolo County out of poverty, is a lower priority than how far they will need to travel to work.

    1. Alan Pryor

      The entry level jobs you speak of are cleaning ladies and waiters at the hotels and conference center and janitors at the business park and clerks at the retail stores who will all be paid minimum wage which, combined with the costs of longer commutes will perpetuate their poverty and not lift them out of it as you otherwise claim.

      One thing the Developer could have done to partially avert this was to reserve a good chunk of the housing they are building at DISC for these lowest paid workers instead of keeping most of them open to the highest bidders.  Even the subsidized housing at the project will be filled by lottery instead of by low-wage project employees.

        1. Alan Miller

          With all that government cash floating out there, “those jobs” are not, these days “better than nothing” . . . and when “nothing ” wins over a minimum wage job, prices skyrocket, as we are seeing.

        2. Ron Glick

          Unless you believe, as I do, in the dignity of work.

          As an ex-student I ran into said to me about a recent promotion “I didn’t come to this country to do nothing.”

          Or as my Econ prof told me back in the day. People don’t stay in minimum wage jobs. They gain experience and move up to better paying jobs.

  4. Ron Oertel

    Aggie Square is a reminder of what could have been for Davis

    True – if UCD’s Medical Center was located in Davis.

    Of course, Davis would have been a much different town, if that had occurred.

    Oh well, I guess entry level jobs in Davis, to help move some of the many poor people in Yolo County out of poverty, is a lower priority than how far they will need to travel to work.

    The type of reason that Aggie Square faced a lawsuit from the surrounding neighborhood.

    1. Ron Oertel

      Of course, this also assumes that Davis and UCD would have provided an “equivalent” Aggie Square with the same type of subsidies that were required in Sacramento.

      By the way, Aggie Square is actually quite small. The first phase is 8 acres, and the entire development will be 25 acres. And of course, it’s on UCD’s own land in the first place.

        1. Bill Marshall

          True…

          And of course, it’s on UCD’s own land in the first place. [another poster]

          I believe UCD does not “own” one acre of land… UC and/or the State of California can own land.

          But that’s just a detail…

          To think that a campus can own property, as an entity, is either very untrue, or very disturbing…

        2. Ron Oertel

          I suspect you are correct, though I’m not planning to look into it.

          However, since you describe it as a “detail”, how would it be any-less disturbing if UC “owned” land? What would the net difference be?

  5. Ron Oertel

    We’re building a place where companies, researchers, students, faculty and community advocates work side by side,

    Why do I find this statement disturbing, in terms of “mixing” private companies with public educational institutions?

    Reminds me of how grants from private companies have a direct influence on the type of research conducted, as well as what is taught.

    Hell, doesn’t UCD have a “wine program”, for example?  Is fostering that a societal goal? We need more alcoholics?

    That’s only one example.

    1. Alan Miller

      Why do I find this statement disturbing, in terms of “mixing” private companies with public educational institutions?

      Because it’s a cute way of making corporate welfare (government subsidy of large corporations) sound palatable.

    2. Keith Y Echols

      I’m not sure why you find it disturbing.  Academic research that is turned into businesses is the life blood of much of the US economy….especially in CA.   So what if grants come from private companies for specific research.  So what if they want certain things taught.  That doesn’t mean other stuff can’t be taught or researched.

  6. Alan Miller

    Aggie Square Is a Reminder of What Could Have Been for Davis

    I busted out laughing when I read the headline.  I don’t understand where this idea comes from that being like Sacramento is a good thing, or that a giant, government-subsidized business park is a good thing, or that Aggie Square would have not been built anyway for what UC Davis wants it for.  And thanks to Mr. AP for pointing out the obvious:  that planning for Aggie Square stretches back more than a decade.

    Why would they subject themselves to the Davis spanking machine?

    Seems to me the one doing the spanking is the Davis Vanguard, spanking the people of Davis who have rejected business parks, along with spanking the people of Davis for giving themselves the tool to reject business parks, Measures J, R & D, a tool which ironically, the Davis Vanguard purports to supports.  Maybees, you should spanks yourself.

     

    1. David Greenwald

      I give you some points for the imagery.  Although honestly, I’m not sure why having a high tech campus in Davis is “being like Sacramento” or a “bad thing.”

      Someone pointed out that Aggie Square is small.  It’s footprint is small, but it’s 500,000 plus square feet, about half the size of DiSC 2022 on one-quarter of the footprint.  It’s almost twice the size of what Nishi 2016 was planned to be in terms of R&D.

      Why wouldn’t that be a nice little piece near the campus in South Davis?

      1. Don Shor

        Why wouldn’t that be a nice little piece near the campus in South Davis?

        If the university is using the land, the city and county don’t get tax revenues from the property improvements. In fact, getting UC out of private commercial space in Davis city limits should be a priority. They’re using up space that could go to startup companies.
        Also, there’s nothing stopping UCD from building a tech park in South Davis right now if they so choose. Except they’d likely do it in Solano County because then they wouldn’t have to worry about what Davis voters think. UC has the land for it.

        1. David Greenwald

          This is from the city of Sacramento:

          Fiscal Impact Analysis Findings

          1. Phase1oftheProjectisanticipatedtogenerategrossrevenuesranging from approximately $3.0 million to $3.7 million annually to the City General Fund.

          Under the Base Scenario, Phase 1 of the Project is anticipated to generate nearly $3.0 million annually to the City’s General Fund. The largest sources of revenue anticipated from the Project are property tax-related revenues (including property tax and property tax in lieu of vehicle license fees) and sales tax, estimated at

          $1.9 million and $509,000, respectively.

          Under the Hotel Expansion Scenario, Phase 1 of the Project is anticipated to generate over $3.7 million annually to the City’s General Fund. The largest sources of revenue anticipated from the Project are property tax-related revenues and transient occupancy tax, estimated at $2.0 million and $1.0 million, respectively.

          2. Phase2oftheProjectisanticipatedtogenerateadditionalrevenuesof approximately $1.4 million annually to the City General Fund.

          Phase 2 of the Project is anticipated to generate approximately $1.4 million annually to the City’s General Fund. The largest sources of revenue anticipated from the Project are property tax-related revenues and sales tax, estimated at $1.0 million and $256,000, respectively.

          Link

          1. Don Shor

            It was a trick question because the answer is zero. From the link you provided:

            Property Tax
            Estimated annual property tax revenues resulting from Project development are derived
            from the estimated assessed valuation of the Project and the City General Fund’s postEducational Revenue Augmentation Fund (ERAF) share of the 1 percent ad valorem
            property tax rate. The total assessed value represents the Project’s estimated land value
            and the value of Project improvements at buildout, based on information provided by the
            Project Proponent. It is assumed that property tax will only be assessed on privately
            owned portions of the Project, and no property tax revenues are estimated for the
            publicly owned or leased uses.
            9

            Any business park that contains UC-leased property will generate less revenue than a business park that contains solely private enterprises.

        2. Keith Y Echols

          What defines a private venture backed by the University (and possibly private investors too) vs. University occupied office space (administrative, research…etc…)?

          1. Don Shor

            What defines a private venture backed by the University (and possibly private investors too) vs. University occupied office space

            If I recall, the property owner doesn’t have to pay property tax on sites leased to UC.

        3. Keith Y Echols

          If I recall, the property owner doesn’t have to pay property tax on sites leased to UC.

          That’s the end result.  But not the question I was asking.  My assumption is that office space used by the University is exempt from paying property tax to some degree (if not completely). But how total is that?  Can a private business or investors or some other organization partner with UCD on a project or even more importantly a business venture and it still be considered property tax exempt because it’s leased by UCD?  What if UCD is one that leases the office space and then brings in the business occupants, private researchers as their partners….etc.?

  7. Bill Marshall

    With all that government cash floating out there, “those jobs” are not, these days “better than nothing” . … and when “nothing ” wins over a minimum wage job, prices skyrocket, as we are seeing.

    You ‘lost me’, Alan M… perhaps I’m too dense…

    I get where all the ‘relief’, has been a real factor in inflation… a two-edged sword, where if everything is ‘guaranteed’, there are unintended consequences… if everyone got $100/hr, inflation would skyrocket.

    I don’t get the two bolded (by me) items… ‘for reals’, honest question, can you amplify/elaborate further?  You have intrigued me… am not disagreeing, because je ne comprends pas what you are positing…

     

     

    1. Alan Miller

      I think you answered it what you said you got.  If there is so much government money available that having a low-end job is less profitable than taking handouts, all that government cash is going to spike prices for a time.

  8. Keith Y Echols

    Eh, I think comparing Aggie Square and DISC is apples to oranges.  Aggie Square was likely never going to be in Davis.  But the comments about DISC and (all future economic development and growth) and the “Davis Spanking Machine” is entirely correct.  Davis is simply a place where most people/companies, institutions do not want to do business.  Some want to try really hard to because they grew out of UCD.  But for the most part this isn’t a good place to start a and grow a business (starting with the lack of adequate commercial space).

    1. Ron Oertel

      The “housing business” is what’s driving DiSC.

      Those types of businesses are plenty-willing to go through the “spanking machine”.

      And in fact, they already won, at Nishi, The Cannery, and WDAAC (the site of the “Davis Innovation Center”, before it collapsed and moved what was left to the Woodland site, while adding 1,600 homes in the process).

      Personally, I think they need to be spanked a lot harder! I’d like to take a giant paddle to their arses.

      The problem is that they have a pretty tough hide, lots of money, and lots of support.

      1. Keith Y Echols

        The “housing business” is what’s driving DiSC.

        You keep clinging to this fantasy.  Nothing I can tell you would dissuade you of this irrational idea.  Take if from someone that’s been in the home building business.  There are far easier, less riskier ways of developing housing in this region.  I know many that would never consider attempting to develop housing here.  Why would I when I can do it far easier and with far less risk in Woodland, Dixon, West Sac, Vacaville, Natomas…etc..  sure home prices are higher in Davis but that doesn’t make up for the risk of the project imploding due to idiotic Davis politics.  Unless you already have the land and it’s in the city limits and it’s zone….basically infill or close to it….it’s not worth developing new housing.  So your idea that housing is driving DISC is just pure fantasy.

        1. Ron Oertel

          I just gave you three examples of failed “innovation center” sites in/around Davis, that were subsequently converted to housing.

          Not to mention all of the infill commercial/industrial sites that have been, and continue to be converted to housing.

          I was there, when MRIC was given a “green light” to proceed with a commercial development at the council meeting.  They essentially faced no real resistance. And yet, they subsequently withdrew their proposal.

          Actually, I can’t even count the number of times this thing has been withdrawn, had its name or size changed, etc.

          They don’t have a single commercial tenant lined up.  Neither does the site in Woodland (some 5 years after failing in Davis), to my knowledge.

          What has the pandemic done to the commercial vacancy rate throughout California?

          Take-away the 460 residential units planned at DiSC, and see how fast it collapses. (Not to mention whatever unannounced plans they have for the northern half of the site. Already, the unfunded bicycle path is apparently ON the northern half. And by “on”, I mean “on paper”, since that’s all that will occur without either the city chipping in, or the northern half doing so.)

          You’re actually claiming that developers aren’t trying to build housing in and adjacent to Davis? Have you heard of the nearby Shriner’s proposal, for example?

          Do you have blinders on?

        2. Craig Ross

          “ I just gave you three examples of failed “innovation center” sites in/around Davis, that were subsequently converted to housing.”

          You did no such thing.

        3. Keith Y Echols

          Huh…so my years of looking for developable land for home builders doesn’t count….hmm….or that fact that I’m still (informally) consulted about this area.

          Your anecdotal stories about Woodland efforts is largely irrelevant.  And so what if the initial proposal for MRIC was withdrawn.  The council is almost irrelevant anyway since it has to go be voted on by the hoi polloi.   In fact that’s my point.  Why go to the effort of building housing here?

          I would avoid going to Woodland to open up a new tech/ag/bio business venture.  If you do it in Davis it’s because of the UC.  Otherwise you go to Vacaville, West Sac or Sacramento….which is what has happened.  Give on your references to Woodland.

          Once again, you’re not listening.  OF COURSE THE PROJECT COLLAPSES WITHOUT THE RESIDENTIAL COMPONENT.  It’s the only sure fire future revenue.  The commercial component is speculative because no business is going to commit to a vaporware project….not even vaporware….vaporware at risk to the whims of the unwashed masses of Davis.  That doesn’t mean there isn’t a need for the commercial space.  It just means that because of Davis’ idiotic political/development process that it’s far riskier for anyone to consider moving or growing a business here.

        4. Ron Oertel

          Well, “Craig” – I certainly did do so.  All three of those sites.

          Actually, The Cannery owners wouldn’t even consider it.

          We could also go over all of the infill sites that once housed businesses (and have been, or will be converted to housing), if you’d like.

          But really, you “agree” with Keith that developers aren’t trying to build housing in/around Davis?  And, will continue to do so?  In addition to the 460 units at DiSC (Nishi, and WDAAC)?

          Despite Keith being factually wrong?

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

          For that matter, why do you suppose a developer is hanging-onto the site of the failed Covell Village development? Do you think they’ve seen the light, and are becoming permanent farmers?

          (Not to mention Shriner’s, the other half of DiSC, the space inside of Mace curve, etc.)

          Actually, why don’t you or David show all of the sites surrounding Davis, which are owned by developers, or have been proposed as such?

        5. Craig Ross

          Keith nailed it.  The difference between houses and business is that you buy a house when it’s built, not before (generally).  But you’re somehow expecting a business to commit to a spot that hasn’t even been approved by the voters?

          Your examples don’t pan out “Ron”.  Cannery was never proposed as a business park except by a Councilmember.  Nishi’ s innovation park lost at the polls.  The other innovation park never got to the voters and the investors left and a new group came in.  I don’t think your examples prove anything.

        6. Keith Y Echols

          “factually wrong”.  Quit embarrassing yourself.  You’re insulting my profession.  Your “proof” is a bunch of little scud infill projects most of which are apartments that will primarily cater to students?  Just stop…that’s laughable in the grand scheme of things.   None those are major builders…they’re mostly mom and pop outfits or local builders of infill.

          Why hold on to Covell Village?  It’s called an an option (I once helped start a land company with land options).  It’s not expensive to hold onto it…why not?  Eventually something’s got to give.  If the property is already owned….then why not hold on to it…it’s a sunk cost by now.  Now NEW peripheral projects can be expensive to get into and hold.

        7. Ron Oertel

          Again, the site in Woodland is essentially guaranteed (and yet has no commercial tenants, some 5 years after failing in Davis – at the site of what is now going to be WDAAC/Bretton Woods).

          Why do you suppose that the Davis Innovation Center abandoned the site?  Why do you suppose it was pursued (and approved) for housing at that site, instead?

          Why did the Woodland developer add 1,600 homes during its “move” some 7 miles up Highway 113?

          Why do you suppose that The Cannery owners weren’t interested in a business park?  And, wanted housing, instead?

          The voters did not reject the commercial component at Nishi.  The developer did.  The voters rejected access via Richards/Olive.

          Why is the DiSC developer pursuing housing at a site that was originally intended to be a commercial development? What do you think will ultimately be proposed on the “other half” of the site?

           

        8. Ron Oertel

          Well, Craig – that didn’t stop WDAAC at the same site, did it?

          You already know why – HOUSING.

          At one time, I recall the growth advocates on here claimed that Measure J stopped housing, as well. At what point do they acknowledge the false information they repeatedly put out?

          In this comment section alone, there’s several. Not to mention the misleading article in the first place.

  9. Ron Oertel

    Keith:  Once again, you’re not listening.

    Keith:  Take if from someone that’s been in the home building business.  There are far easier, less riskier ways of developing housing in this region.

    Your words mean nothing in the face of facts.

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

    I would avoid going to Woodland to open up a new tech/ag/bio business venture.  If you do it in Davis it’s because of the UC.  Otherwise you go to Vacaville, West Sac or Sacramento….which is what has happened.  Give on your references to Woodland.

    Once again, you’re not listening.  OF COURSE THE PROJECT COLLAPSES WITHOUT THE RESIDENTIAL COMPONENT.  It’s the only sure fire future revenue.  The commercial component is speculative because no business is going to commit to a vaporware project….not even vaporware….vaporware at risk to the whims of the unwashed masses of Davis.

    You’re not in the tech/ag/bio business.

    They go to all of those places.  The site in Woodland is probably easier to get to than DiSC, and yet has no commercial tenants 5 years after failing in Davis (and adding 1,600 homes in the process).

    And yet, it is much farther-along the process than DiSC is, and has essentially “guaranteed approval”.

     

     

    1. Keith Y Echols

      Once upon a time a large Real Estate conglomerate company hired me to find seed stage technology investments.  And yes I reviewed a handful of  bio-tech ones (though I wasn’t really qualified to do so).  One of them was genomics project that was started at the University of Minnesota that was looking to move from academia to business start up mode…. but it was looking to move to the Bay Area.  When reviewing their project, we told them to consider the Sac area too.

      Once again, let me make this clear. Woodland is no man’s land.  Why go to Woodland?  You’re going to want be located off of 80 so that you’re connected to the Bay Area, Sacramento and Davis.

      1. Ron Oertel

        Once again, let me make this clear. Woodland is no man’s land.  Why go to Woodland?  You’re going to want be located off of 80 so that you’re connected to the Bay Area, Sacramento and Davis.

        You’re claiming that the Woodland development will fail?  You believe that you know more than they do?  You’re claiming that potential commercial tenants won’t even look at it, especially when it has an enormous head start, 1,600 homes planned, etc.?

        I’d suggest that you’d better warn them, before they put further investment into preparation.

        Also, tell that to the Spring Lake developers.

        Not to mention West Sacramento, Dixon, Vacaville, etc.

        The Davis Innovation Center was not planned adjacent to I-80.

        The ONLY thing that DiSC has going for it is a possible “Davis address”.  It’s 4-5 miles away from UCD.

        And that Davis address is what makes it particularly valuable for HOUSING, not commercial development.

        Tell me why a commercial developer would want to pay significantly more to be located in Davis, compared to all of the other locations.  Commercial developers have a regional outlook.

        For that matter, workers living in Davis don’t care if they have to commute to Woodland. And more likely, that’s where new workers would live, anyway (for DiSC, OR the Woodland technology park).

        I commuted for years to Sacramento (via public transit), and never wanted Davis to become like Sacramento. Lots of workers do (not to mention those from places like Roseville, etc.).

        Woodland also has to compete with West Sacramento, etc.

        1. Keith Y Echols

          What in the world are you going on about????  What do 1,600 homes have to do with commercial tenants in Woodland????

          Developments in Woodland?  I haven’t said anything about the residential development and Woodland.

          Davis tech biz parks don’t have to be smack dab adjacent to I80.  Just in near Davis and relatively near the Freeway (So out on County Road 29 probably isn’t ideal).

          And that Davis address is what makes it particularly valuable for HOUSING, not commercial development.

          Like I said, you can’t refute that it makes no sense for a builder develop peripheral housing in Davis when you can do it way easier and with much much less risk in the surrounding areas.   So claiming that DISC is primarily a residential venture is just “factually incorrect”.

          Workers for a bio/ag company care about driving to Sacramento and the Bay Area for business (meetings in the bay area, flying out of SFO).  That’s why the I80 corridor is so important.

          I commuted for years to Sacramento (via public transit), and never wanted Davis to become like Sacramento. Lots of workers do (not to mention those from places like Roseville, etc.).

          I’m not sure how your personal feelings on the subject are relevant to the discussion.  But I don’t now anyone that wants Davis to become Sacramento.  But that’s the problem with extremist views on growth.  It’s all or nothing for the NIMBY zealots.  If you allow some growth you’re going to have unending sprawl.  Personally, I’d like Davis to be more like Palo Alto.

          Also, I think “Davis Spanking Machine” should be the name of a local band.

        2. Ron Oertel

          What in the world are you going on about????  What do 1,600 homes have to do with commercial tenants in Woodland????

          Same as in Davis – no demand for commercial.  It’s all about the housing.

          Davis tech biz parks don’t have to be smack dab adjacent to I80.  Just in near Davis and relatively near the Freeway (So out on County Road 29 probably isn’t ideal).

          Sounds like there isn’t much demand, if they’re that “sensitive”.

          I’ve also heard reports that such-and-such site is “too hot”, or “too cold”, etc.  Seems like the only one that’s “just right” is the one that consists of peripheral housing.

          However, I’d suggest that they’re probably more sensitive to costs (rent, or ownership of commercial sites) than anything else.

          Like I said, you can’t refute that it makes no sense for a builder develop peripheral housing in Davis when you can do it way easier and with much much less risk in the surrounding areas.   So claiming that DISC is primarily a residential venture is just “factually incorrect”.

          460 housing units is not “factually incorrect”.

          Nor are all the housing units pursued at WDAAC – the site of the failed Davis Innovation Center.  Or, at Nishi, Shriner’s, Palomino Ranch, the space inside the Mace curve, the “other half” of DiSC (I suspect), etc.  Not to mention all of the infill residential development proposals.

          Workers for a bio/ag company care about driving to Sacramento and the Bay Area for business (meetings in the bay area, flying out of SFO).  That’s why the I80 corridor is so important.

          Then, they would probably locate in the Bay Area.  Davis is pretty far from SFO or the peninsula.

          How’s the commercial market there, these days?

          For that matter, Fairfield would probably wet its pants over any such proposal. And it’s MUCH closer to the Bay Area and SFO.

          You do know that Sacramento has an airport, right?  I flew out of there many, many times for my job.

          I’m not sure how your personal feelings on the subject are relevant to the discussion.

          Had to do with location of jobs, vs. housing.  People will pay a premium for housing in a desirable town, but businesses won’t.  People often like to live in “bedroom communities”, and are happy to leave the problems associated with places like Sacramento right where they are, at the end of their workdays.  (Assuming they’re not telecommuting, nowadays.)

          But I don’t now anyone that wants Davis to become Sacramento.  But that’s the problem with extremist views on growth.  It’s all or nothing for the NIMBY zealots.

          I’m not really a NIMBY.  I don’t like sprawl.

          I’d suggest that the Vanguard itself has extremist views.

          If you allow some growth you’re going to have unending sprawl.  Personally, I’d like Davis to be more like Palo Alto.

          Palo Alto is hemmed-in by other towns.  So yeah, your first sentence is correct regarding the outcome – unending sprawl.

          Also, I think “Davis Spanking Machine” should be the name of a local band.

          That part, I wholeheartedly agree with! See if Ted Puntillo is available.

           

        3. Ron Oertel

          I would, however, agree with you regarding freeway access.

          That’s why the Davis Innovation Center moved 7 miles or so up Highway 113 from its original location, which was also adjacent to 113.  Which at this point, isn’t yet gridlocked.

          Of course, they’re working on gridlocking that one too. It’s only a matter of time (assuming that the politicians and the interests which support them can continue to “force” California to grow.)

          Never let a freeway go unmolested. (This is actually another way that development is subsidized by the government.)

          But, you’ve got to feel bad for Gloria, who is going to have even more trouble pulling-out onto Road 102. Unless they put in yet another stop sign, I suppose.

        4. Keith Y Echols

          We’re going round and round….I think the first thing I said was, “I’m not going to be able to convince you”….

          Same as in Davis – no demand for commercial.  It’s all about the housing.

          You know if you type that enough times it might overwrite reality and become true.

          460 housing units is not “factually incorrect”.

          How about factually insignificant.  Please…460 units by some local developer is hardly significant….in terms of Davis being a place for developers to consider building new homes on the periphery (or even infill).

          I’m not really a NIMBY.  I don’t like sprawl.
          I’d suggest that the Vanguard itself has extremist views.

          Fine you’re a zealot with extremist views on growth (none).   I’d suggest that given all the views out there that the Vanguard is probably left of center on many development issues, extremely left of center on some development issues and right of center (for Davis) on other views.  Now what’s left and right….depends on your point of view I guess.

          Then, they would probably locate in the Bay Area.  Davis is pretty far from SFO or the peninsula.
          How’s the commercial market there, these days?

          They bay area commercial market?  Businesses are moving to other areas like SACRAMENTO (area).

          Palo Alto is hemmed-in by other towns.  So yeah, your first sentence is correct regarding the outcome – unending sprawl.

          I meant in terms of business development and the segregation of itself from the University.  Yet it works with the University too when it serves it’s purposes.

          Your fear of sprawl continues to taint your ability to understand things.  As I said, it’s not all or nothing.  There is a middle ground of some growth which benefits the community.  Sticking your head in the ground and making stuff up isn’t going to change the economic and political forces around.  It will just make it unmanageable in the future (and cause financial rot).

           

          1. David Greenwald

            “You know if you type that enough times it might overwrite reality and become true.”

            It’s the reality distortion field. (Sorry been reading Job’s biography this week).

        5. Ron Oertel

          You know if you type that enough times it might overwrite reality and become true.

          Based upon all evidence, it appears to actually be true.

          How about factually insignificant.  Please…460 units by some local developer is hardly significant….in terms of Davis being a place for developers to consider building new homes on the periphery (or even infill).

          If you think so, then they should have no problem eliminating it.  And yet, they withdrew their proposal, when it was a commercial development.

          Of course, the 460 units is really just the “camel’s nose under the tent”, when you consider the property inside the Mace curve, Palomino Ranch, Shriner’s, the “other half” of DiSC . . .

          Fine you’re a zealot with extremist views on growth (none).

          Only in contrast to what’s presented on here.  This is a developer blog, day-after-day.

          It’s not unlike the extreme “progressive” views presented on here, day-after-day.  However, this type of “progressive” has fully bought-into Reaganomics.

          In other words, they advocate the worst possible goals on almost all issues.

          I’m not opposed to all development, though I suspect that (in the long run) California can’t even support its current population levels.  When was the last time it rained?

          In addition, I personally “like” the DiSC site, Shriner’s, Covell Village, etc. – just the way it is.  Nor do I see any advantage to change it – only disadvantages.

          I don’t believe developing these properties will put any money in anyone’s pocket, on a personal level.  Or, save any money.  It will enrich the developers, and enable the city to continue making bad decisions.

          They bay area commercial market?  Businesses are moving to other areas like SACRAMENTO (area).

          You just mentioned (in your earlier comment) that they want to be near the Bay Area and SFO.

          Who is preventing them from moving to the Sacramento area, anyway?  What’s the vacancy rate in the region?  And, how much vacant land is there in the region?  Even within various city limits?

          I meant in terms of business development and the segregation of itself from the University.  Yet it works with the University too when it serves it’s purposes.

          What?

          Your fear of sprawl continues to taint your ability to understand things.  As I said, it’s not all or nothing.  There is a middle ground of some growth which benefits the community.  Sticking your head in the ground and making stuff up isn’t going to change the economic and political forces around.  It will just make it unmanageable in the future (and cause financial rot).

          I understand things as well as you do, maybe better.

          There’s a lot of development already, in Davis.  I already posted links to some of them twice in this article.

          If there’s only two choices “grow, or rot”, civilization itself is in a lot of trouble.

          We’re going round and round….I think the first thing I said was, “I’m not going to be able to convince you”….

          Right back at you.  Have we settled this, yet?  🙂

           

      2. Ron Oertel

        To clarify, commercial “tenants”, not commercial developers.

        They’ll also be looking for tax breaks to relocate from their current cities.  Plenty of examples of that.

        Get back to us when DiSC has even ONE commercial tenant lined up (or even half-ass interested). Other than something like Tim Keller’s operation.

        Companies don’t move around for no reason. It’s generally driven by opportunities to reduce cost. And Davis is probably the least-competitive locale in the region, for that. And DiSC would be at the bottom (even in Davis), regarding cost competitiveness.

        This is also the reason that they leave, for places like West Sacramento.

        Again, this is not the same situation as the housing market. People will pay a premium to live in a nicer locale.

  10. Ron Oertel

    I only wish that there was a giant, region-wide “spanking machine”. Or even better, one at the state level.

    In fact, I’d like to see that machine used on some of the politicians and their allies relentlessly and endlessly pushing growth, which never seems to resolve the fiscal challenges that their previous development decisions led to in the first place.

     

  11. Ron Glick

    “Huh…so my years of looking for developable land for home builders doesn’t count….hmm….or that fact that I’m still (informally) consulted about this area.”

    Not when reality conflicts with preconceived beliefs.

    Also not when people can weigh in without any money at risk. I think the comment by Pryor about the NRC wanting subsidized housing for low income workers is telling. A group of un-elected people on a commission, with no skin in the project, demanding things that make no economic sense for the investors.

    1. Richard_McCann

      Ron G

      As a member of the NRC, I can say that we never recommended subsidized housing for low income workers. The recommendation was for a master lease agreement for housing a set proportion of employees of the subject firms on site. There would be no government subsidies involved in that arrangement. Alan went further on his own here to proposed on site affordable housing.

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