By David M. Greenwald
Davis, CA – LAFCo (Yolo Local Agency Formation Commission) voted on Thursday to approve an amendment to the Davis sphere of influence (SOI) that would accommodate the proposed DiSC 2022 project, should the voters pass Measure H next month.
LAFCo staff said in its recommendation to approve the proposal, it is “an appropriate expansion of the City’s future boundary…(that) would result in orderly development and an efficient extension of City services.”
The unanimous vote by the commission amends the city’s SOI to add a 118.5-acre area east of the current city limits that includes both the DiSC site and adjacent land to the south that includes the existing Ikeda’s Market, city water tank, and a park-and-ride facility. The SOI Amendment’s approval sets the stage for the area’s annexation, which would come before LAFCo for a separate action if Davis voters approve Measure H in the June 7 election.
“This project brings many opportunities to the Davis community and our larger region. The approval of the modified sphere of influence by LAFCo is another significant step in the planning for this area near the City of Davis,” said Don Saylor, Yolo County Supervisor and LAFCo Commissioner.
Supervisor Saylor and Yolo County Supervisor Jim Provenza previously led county negotiations with the City of Davis on a DiSC tax-share agreement and memorandum of understanding regarding Mace Boulevard traffic improvements that on May 10 were approved unanimously by the County Board of Supervisors.
“Coupled with the recent approvals by both the Davis City Council and the Board of Supervisors of a revenue sharing agreement and additional mitigations, the concerns earlier expressed by Yolo County have been addressed. I greatly appreciate the commitments made by the City and the project applicants,” said Saylor.
In the staff report, staff noted the site’s proximity to the Mace Boulevard interchange means “there will be ongoing development pressure at this location and urbanization would be appropriate to take advantage of this freeway access and visibility.”
Staff added, “The City of Davis has not grown significantly in the last 20 years, and growth at the SOI Amendment area would be relatively controlled because the site is surrounded to the north and east by land in dedicated conservation easements (excepting the 85-acre parcel to the immediate north that was part of the original DISC project).”
“We very much appreciate the LAFCo’s approval of the SOI Amendment, which is an important step forward for the DiSC. We look forward to coming back to the LAFCo with an annexation application after Davis voters approve Measure H,” said Dan Ramos, DiSC 2022 project manager. “We’re also appreciative of the leadership of Supervisor Saylor and Supervisor Provenza on the tax-share agreement and Mace Boulevard traffic improvement plans.”
Other options for the creation of an innovation center are not longer available, LAFCo staff noted. Moreover, they argued, other areas within the existing City of Davis SOI would be inappropriate locations for an innovation center.
“The City solicited requests for locations to site an innovation park in 2014 and four were submitted,” the staff wrote. “The other three sites are either not available or no longer available for consideration (Nishi, Bretton Woods Active Adult Community, and the PG&E Corporation Yard). The other undeveloped areas within the SOI are not conducive to the innovation park use and do not have the location, access, and visibility that this location does with the I-80 interchange.”
They continued, “The Area also represents a sensible place for growth that does not extend beyond the eastern-most and northern-most portions of the City (i.e. the El Macero Estates neighborhood is further east, and the Wildhorse and North Davis neighborhoods are further north).”
Staff acknowledged, the project does impact prime farmland but that CEQA commitments to offset that impact requires conservation
easements to be provided at a 2:1 ratio.
In a letter to the commission, Matt Keasling, a DiSC representative, said “it is worth noting that Supervisors Saylor and Provenza requested that we also mitigate for the loss of farmland in a manner consistent with the County’s ordinance and we agreed. That commitment is located in Exhibit H of the Development Agreement, wherein the applicant commits to mitigate in a manner that complies with both the City and the County’s ordinances, whichever results in the preservation of more acreage (likely 3:1 under the County Ordinance).
“And while not the direct outgrowth of an SOI amendment, if the project is approved by the voters and annexed, the DiSC project will pay Open Space development impact fees to the City and Open Space and Park development impact fees to the County resulting in the preservation of even more acreage. Furthermore, the residents and businesses at the DiSC site would also be subject to the City’s Measure O parcel tax which must be used for farmland or wildlife conservation efforts.
“Given all of these commitments and requirements,” stated the Keasling letter, “we are proud of the extraordinary level of mitigation that we will provide to address those impacts.”