Chamber Letter in Support of Shriner’s Project

George Phillips representing Shriner’s presented the idea of more than one EIR going forward

Editor’s note: in advance of the last Council meeting and discussion on Long Range Growth Issues, the Davis Chamber submitted a letter in support of the Shriner’s project with asking that the City Council direct staff to begin environmental review on the project immediately.

Dear Mayor Arnold and Davis City Council:

On behalf of the Davis Chamber of Commerce (Chamber), I am submitting this letter in support of the Shriners project with an ask the City Council direct staff to begin environmental review on the project immediately.

The Shriners development team introduced their project to the Davis Chamber of Commerce in September of 2022 and the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors subsequently voted to support the project.

The Chamber continues to be grateful to the City of Davis for its focus on local economic growth. The Chamber is keenly aware of the economic devastation we experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are also aware of the housing crisis in which we find ourselves and how that relates to the prosperity of the local economy. For example, many of our Chamber members who work in Davis and own businesses in Davis would love to live in Davis as well, but continue to see it as economically infeasible.

The question before you tonight is how to proceed with a timeline and recommendations for housing projects on the periphery, including the Shriners project. Shriners continues to do their due diligence and community outreach. They have financially demonstrated that they are a shovel ready project after they get through their environmental review process and hopefully are placed on the ballot and succeed in a Measure J campaign. In order to bring a significant amount of housing online that positively mitigates our current housing crisis, we must not delay.

It is crucial that Davis retains businesses that emerge from research being done at UC Davis to solve some of the world’s biggest problems. This will further strengthen our City’s proud ties to the campus and showcase Davis’s strategically beneficial location between the Bay Area and Sacramento. Part of attracting and retaining these businesses is providing housing for the people that fuel them. It is worth noting that Shriners is very close to the DISC economic development site should that site win voter approval in the future.

The Davis Chamber of Commerce sees the Shriners project as a lifeline to Davis in several ways:

  • The developers have committed to providing a significant amount of affordable housing (20%) above and beyond current requirements.
  • The project strives to provide housing and work opportunities for the intellectually and physically disabled (I/DD) population through strategic partnerships with local
  • The project includes amenities and benefits for the “missing middle” including a goal of providing 10% of its single-family homes at 70% of Davis’s median home price.
  • The project will provide three badly needed ball fields for soccer, little league and softball, and adult softball and baseball leagues. It also promises a community center with an indoor basketball court and a coffee shop.
  • Because this project is designed to attract the “missing middle” it will help mitigate declining school enrollment in the Davis Joint Unified School District.
  • The project already has a grade-separated crossing, providing safe routes to In fact, children living at this site will be able to get to two local elementary schools and one junior high without crossing any major boulevards.
  • The project provides an overall density of nine units per acre, which signals its understanding of the need to efficiently use peripheral land annexed for housing, and makes Shriners the densest project proposed on the periphery.
  • The project will add connectivity to our vast greenbelt system and provide open space and nature preserves for all of Davis to enjoy.
  • Given the City’s agricultural easement to the Northeast of the project, and the fact that the project site is surrounded by development on two sides, this is a natural site to build a housing project.
  • The project will fuel economic prosperity and local business by allowing people to live and work in the same city, while also helping to alleviate commute traffic impacting the I-80 corridor.
  • In short, we believe the project proposal is the best use of the property and of great benefit to the City of

The Chamber strongly supports the project proposed for the Shriners property and recommends immediate action. We also think Davis voters will strongly agree if given the chance.

We appreciate your consideration on this important matter. Sincerely,

Cory Koehler Executive Director

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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5 Comments

  1. Tim Keller

    The Davis Chamber of Commerce sees the Shriners project as a lifeline to Davis in several ways:

    Thats where Measure J has brought us as a city: in need of a lifeline.

    I want to see this project built just as much as I want to see Village Farms built… but neither of them are conceptually well thought through.

    Shriners in particular needs to have a neighborhood-serving grocery store and probably some other retail there.    If you look at the distribution of grocery stores in town, you see that there is a big gap in davis right at the top of the mace curve.

    The Shriners property where Alhambra terminates is the logical place for a grocery store and neighborhood-serving local retail and dining, and it would match the distribution of similar amenities throughout the rest of town.

    If we move forward with the EIR are we likely to re-think the project to a sufficient extent to get that?

    I don’t know how much flexibility there is for planning once that process is started, but I DO know that humans like to cling to the plans they have already invested in.  Nobody wants to be told to start over – so if they do an EIR with a project that is “just housing” my suspicion is that they are going to cling to the work already done and resist starting over.

    If I am wrong and the planning process is flexible once the EIR process starts, then please tell me and I will drop my opposition.  My suspicion is that once the process starts, it will be hard to stop – and the cynical side of me is saying that is exactly why they are pushing to start that process.

    I really want more housing in town… a LOT more.  but right now, Im seeing just a “development”  not a “neighborhood”  and as someone who lives a a couple hundred yards away, I really want the latter.

    Sorry shriners… but planning matters.   This process is broken.   Let’s do the other thing to fix the core problem.  This is not the way.

     

    1. Don Shor

      The Shriners property where Alhambra terminates is the logical place for a grocery store and neighborhood-serving local retail and dining, and it would match the distribution of similar amenities throughout the rest of town.

      You can zone for it, but I’d be very surprised if any grocery chain would be willing to locate there.

      1. Tim Keller

        Perhaps, and It might be that such a tenant wouldn’t want to locate there until all of the mace curve is built out.. I’m sure those kinds of developers consider density in the local neighborhoods before putting in a store… can see that.

        But again, thats the problem with this process.. there is no long-term planning: we are just putting in the next thing and then the next thing without thought as to what it might look like at the end.

        If it makes sense to have a local grocery store in the middle of the mace curve, then it needs to be planned NOW, else that land will not be set aside for those purposes.   Once these properties are built as low density housing, that is IT. we cant go back and do good planning in reverse.

        1. Don Shor

          I agree that it’s best to zone in advance for the kind of retail that could support a nearby neighborhood, but people need to be realistic about what’s actually likely. Look at the history of grocery stores in west Davis and on 8th Street, the difficulty the Cannery has had getting any retail to locate there. For that matter, Village Homes was supposed to have a retail/commercial component. This is one of those urban planning concepts that doesn’t actually work out in practice when you try to implement it in a small isolated rural city.
          You are likelier to get a small convenience store and a couple of chain eateries.

        2. Tim Keller

          Honestly, a convenience store and a couple of eateries would be a big improvement for “food desert mace ranch”

          By the way…  there is a good reason why the Cannery sites have struggled:  They are build to suit.

          The only companies who a builder might be willing to make a new construction for is a well established business who can take up the entire new building, or perhaps a national chain willing to serve as anchor and sign a long-term lease.

          Mom-and-pop eateries, like lets say a current restraunteur downtown who might want to open a second location… need not apply.  Those builders wont break ground for them.    If we want local businesses then we need to make sure the spaces are built on spec.

          For the cannery, I think the right thing to do is to convert those spaces to commercial mixed-use with ~5 stories of residential above.   That would give the builder an anchor tenant ( the residential) AND it would provide more customers for the local businesses beneath.

          “This is one of those urban planning concepts that doesn’t actually work out in practice when you try to implement it in a small isolated rural city.”

          Totally agree, “walkable cities” and “mixed use” are synonymous with medium density development. If you try to keep Davis low density, then the benefits of good city design like this just aren’t applicable. This is a big part of why I object to the low density form factors of these two proposals.

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