Letter: DiSC Can Make Davis a Gateway for Innovation and An Exemplar of Sustainable Design

By Gerald Braun

DiSC 2022 has exceptional potential to be a cutting edge, world class project true to the four words in its title. It can make Davis a gateway for innovation and an exemplar of sustainable design, living and working. But it can do this only if voters approve Measure H.

Continuing engagement between the DiSC project team, Davis city staff and independent experts can identify environmentally critical features that will make DiSC a model for 21st century innovation hubs. For example, DiSC can be powered by a zero carbon microgrid that integrates vehicle batteries with community scale and rooftop solar arrays.

I’ve served on appointed Davis commissions and advisory committees. I hold city staff and elected leaders in high regard. I’ve no doubt that DiSC has been properly vetted, problems identified, trade-offs evaluated, solutions determined, and compromises reached. Davis’s governance process works. DiSC critics’ concerns have been addressed and do not warrant another backward step.

What are these concerns?

More local economic activity, more traffic? True. More economic activity is a good problem to have in most cases. Modern US cities have the planning tools and skill sets to accommodate traffic pattern changes. Davis appears to use them reasonably well.

Incremental additional vehicle emissions? True. Vehicle emissions are a big cause of greenhouse emissions in California. Better to pro-actively address new vehicle emissions in Davis’s emissions inventory than outsource them to other communities that do nothing about them.

Loss of prime farmland? Industrial agriculture in California has its own deeply concerning climate impacts. It is a necessary but mixed blessing. Infill is an important goal, but “infill” projects are not an option to do what DiSC can do.

DiSC can be what our City Council is seeking if voters approve Measure H and allow our city government to follow through with active attention, collaboration and advice.

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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8 Comments

  1. Todd Edelman

    Exemplar of trite-to-meaningless language (and partly repeated for emphasis?):

    cutting edge

    world class

    innovation

    sustainability

    campus

    gateway

    innovation (again)

    sustainable (again)

    Continuing engagement

    independent experts

    environmentally critical 

    model

    21st century innovation (third time) hubs

    Better to pro-actively address new vehicle emissions in Davis’s emissions inventory than outsource them to other communities that do nothing about them (continued…)

    *****

    Exemplar of efficient, joyous and social planning:

    Continued: For example by by building them in a dense area within walking distance of a train station: Davis, for example, a dense-redevelopment of Research Park which is or will be soon a very short walk or bike ride to approved housing on east Research Park Dr, an elementary school (Montgomery), private school (Peregrine), two parks (Playfields and Walnut), a complete shopping center (food drug store, office, pets, cafe), car parts, body shop, Starbucks, varied fast food, Downtown, train station, multiple off-campus UC facilities and the main UCD campus? Housing and varied office and light industrial space in an open-template (that could easily fit the young folks above in the stock photo) or an art-work loft?

    No surface parking footprint needed, very little underground parking needed… bus arrivals, delivery and ADA parking can be possibly be accessed cheaply from at least east bound I-80). Connects to 2nd St including later-developing PG&E space by Pole Line MUP. Also a short hop by foot or bike from a new, dense housing (for families, students, workforce) re-development at Davis Creek/Royal Oaks that preserves low-income home possibilities, and then building a greenway and Class IV cycle track from Putah Creek through both developments to connect with the MUP on Pole Line. Perhaps even an aerial tramway directly to Davis Depot and Downtown? (It’s 630am… almost time for the doubtermafiasplaining to begin!)

    PLEASE tell me why the thing that makes the most sense to build in two areas way less dense than they should be* and that already connects to most things is somehow unfeasible and unrealistic. I worked all night and didn’t sleep, so please tell me I’m a dreamer while I cash in my possibility checks.

    * Yes, the already-planned Research Park developments are tall the rest but have surface parking and can remain but much of this whole space is composed of single-level buildings, and looks like a suburban business park, not something minutes by foot or bike from a train station and a lively downtown.

        1. David Greenwald

          The point is you can’t require a vote turning something into a political process and then complain when it becomes a political process

      1. Bill Marshall

        Worse than that… it tends to turn professional staff into ‘campaign workers’, ‘spin doctors’… we’ve seen examples in Davis…

        Fortunately, some key staff kept being professionals…

    1. Richard_McCann

      Davis, for example, a dense-redevelopment of Research Park which is or will be soon a very short walk or bike ride to approved housing on east Research Park Dr, an elementary school (Montgomery), private school (Peregrine), two parks (Playfields and Walnut), a complete shopping center (food drug store, office, pets, cafe), car parts, body shop, Starbucks, varied fast food, Downtown, train station, multiple off-campus UC facilities and the main UCD campus?

      How would we get these landowners to step forward to make these investments? What persuasion are you willing to take on to make this happen? Right now there’s virtually no leverage from the City to cause these to happen. That PG&E will not, if ever, sell and/or develop its L St yard is a good example of how the City has no effective means of causing a change to happen.

      I agree with David’s assessment that Measure J/R/D has undermined rational planning in this community.

      1. Ron Oertel

        One thing you “don’t do” is continue to entertain sprawl, beyond logical boundaries for the city.

        Very few cities within 30 miles or so of the coast are expanding outward, either by choice (or because they’ve already bumped-up against adjacent cities).

        Another thing you “don’t do” is to join a commission (say, the Natural Resources Commission for example), and then be “uncertain” regarding the city’s “climate action priorities”.

      2. Todd Edelman

        persuasion

        Richard, at the very least as one of the first products of a new General Plan we’d do a really good study or two about this more creative infill. Better this would happen earlier so that we are better informed for the community process.

        I think we have some leverage with PG&E due to their recent (and not so recent) shenanigans that eroded public trust (on top of killing people), but this might be fleeting and the CPUC and courts haven’t made them do massive reparations such as happened with the tobacco industry and more recently with Volkswagen.

        If I was the vehicle logistics manager for PG&E I would prefer to have vehicle access almost directly to I-80. There are pollution issues which would be better to start solving now instead of later and re-developing the adjacent 5th St corridor seems less viable if PG&E remains. We’d also have a HUGE very much transit-oriented development right next to the train station, something the Feds should like, even more so when one considers future Capitol Corridor development here. The jobs and housing density would increase by a huge amount, making Federal investment even more likely. Cities along the BART/Caltrain/HSR corridor on the Peninsula are doing a lot of this, and we have to keep up with these Eco-Joneses.

        I am not an economic specialist and am not certain of all the mechanisms that could be used as leverage for e.g. development of the two huge – and currently relatively flat! – mentioned areas in south Davis, not threatening eminent domain (curiously this was mentioned the other night by a member of Staff during the discussion about neighbors of the mixed-use project on east Olive). Instead of shrugging of these things, and making patronizing comments about idealism, I’m only asking for some research and brainstorming about these places and also the concept to build over 113 in its lowest below grade section.

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