By David M. Greenwald
Davis, CA – Back in January the council created a subcommittee of Mayor Will Arnold and Councilmember Bapu Vaitla to examine among other things, “pathways for consideration of current or future proposed peripheral development projects.”
There are now four potential Measure J projects in the pipeline reflecting the intense need for housing in Davis—not to mention the state of California.
The fourth project which would be at Covell and Pole Line is anticipated to be submitted to the city around the 10th of April.
Thus far, Palomino Place has a full application. This project is located on the 26-acre horse ranch property in Wildhorse, within City limits with 149-164 dwelling units. Staff notes, “While located within the city limits the site is subject to Measure J/R/D due to land use designation change from agricultural use to urban use.”
The other two projects are in pre-application stage.
“Shriners” pre-application. Located on the Shriners property north of Covell Boulevard and directly east of Wildhorse, totaling approximately 234 acres and proposing 1,100 to 1,200 housing units.
“On the Curve” pre-application. Located on approximately 85 acres east of Mace Boulevard with 551-788 housing units.
Staff writes, “It is clear that there is considerable interest on the part of developers to pursue residential subdivisions on the city periphery.”
The subcommittee noted, “Absent a GP update there is little guidance in place on what the City and community priorities are for peripheral development.”
The subcommittee looked to develop “interim” criteria that could be used until a General Plan update is completed. They acknowledged, “These are not fully developed but provide a valuable starting point for pursuit of a more in-depth framework in the near future.”
The subcommittee created four guiding principles.
First, “Peripheral development should provide significant amounts of low-income affordable housing.” Second, “Peripheral development should have minimal traffic impact and emphasize non-fossil fuel transport.” Third, “Peripheral development should further the City’s habitat, agricultural, and open space conservation goals.” And fourth, “Peripheral development should accelerate the City’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2040.”
Among the other considerations included:
- The next RHNA cycle will begin in 2030, with an allocation expected by 2028.
- For any project proposal to make a November 2024 ballot would require final City Council action by the end of June, 2024.
- The legal tasks needed will take 12 to 14 months in order “to meet legal timelines associated with EIR preparation. To begin EIR preparation and a Notice of Preparation requires that the project description be solidified at the beginning of the EIR preparation process. This provides little time to influence the project description, and places a heavier burden on the applicant to craft a supportable proposal.”
- The City Community Development Department is currently short-staffed with two planning positions currently vacant.
- To review one peripheral development proposal would require an aggressive review schedule and strict adherence to timelines in order to provide the ability for the City Council to take action by no later than end of June, 2024.
- Further, “While reviewing one peripheral proposal may be feasible with contract resources, review of multiple peripheral development proposals concurrently would quickly exceed staff bandwidth capacity, would exceed city commission capacity, and could be perceived by the community as putting undue burden on their capacity to adequately track multiple proposals.”
The subcommittee argues, “The housing needs are great – especially for affordable and ‘missing middle’ housing.”
At the same time, they believe, “We must be thoughtful to put forward the best possible project(s) and, to the extent that peripheral growth is to be considered, maximize community support and the chances of Measure J/R/D project election success.”
As such, they think, “The city has an opportunity to set the stage to define the needs and expectations up front if the opportunity is afforded to do so.” Moreover, “There is an opportunity to engage with the community to envision and identify what the community needs and will support, to build community trust, and then seek out proposals to meet those needs (vs. reacting to developer proposals).”
They conclude, “In light of the significant affordable and ‘missing middle’ housing needs, the subcommittee recognizes that the City Council may wish to consider undertaking review of one proposal for a possible November, 2024 ballot measure.”
The subcommittee adds, “In anticipation of an application being filed on or about April 10th for the 400-acre site north of Covell Boulevard and bordered by Pole Line and F Street, the City Council could consider directing staff to return to the City Council on April 18th with a summary of the application and to seek direction from Council on whether to proceed with application review of that project proposal.”
Time is limited.
The subcommittee acknowledges that “to undertake review of any proposal for a November, 2024 ballot requires definitive direction from the Council of whether or not to undertake that review by no later than April 18th.”