Guest Commentary: Densifying Davis – A Four-Part Strategy

Mixed Use

By Robb Davis

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s and do not represent the views of his employer or any community organization of which he is a member.

The City of Davis cannot successfully fulfill its RHNA requirements[1] without a concerted effort to change the housing development landscape in the City. This paper lays out a four-part conceptual approach that the City Council could use to begin to address our housing challenges immediately. One element would require a citizen’s vote, and another, as we shall see, would require working with public and private partners. Two could be addressed relatively quickly through zoning decisions and requests for proposals to develop City-owned land.

1. Amend Measure D (formerly Measures J and R) to permit peripheral development to move forward without a citizen’s vote under specific conditions.

Currently, any development that re-designates land from agricultural or open space to urban uses requires a citizen’s vote on project baseline features. In addition, if the land designation is changed from agriculture to another use, City Code requires land mitigation whereby nearby land is placed in permanent agriculture or other easements, precluding future development.

There are, presumably, many ways to amend Measure D.  A straightforward way to do it would involve two critical components: defining minimum project development standards that would exempt projects from a citizen’s vote and creating an urban limit line.

Component one, defining a set of minimum project development standards, means that projects that achieve the minimum standards would be exempt from a Measure D vote. Property owners/developers could eschew the minimums and bring forward projects subject to Measure D if they chose.

Amending Measure D would require a vote of citizens, but it is arguably better than the current approach, which leads to uncertainty, one-off poorly planned projects, and costly and divisive campaigns.

Minimum development standards—which the City Council would take the lead in developing with Commission and citizen input could include the following:

  1. Minimum average development density for the project as a whole
  2. Minimum housing stock sustainability features
  3. Minimum affordable housing requirements, which could be met via internal land-dedication sites.
  4. Specific connectivity agreements to ensure secure bike/ped connections to the current City.
  5. Specific, and possibly ongoing, financial commitments to ensuring transit connectivity for all residents to significant transit hubs within the City.

These minimum standards would be enshrined in development agreements (DA). DAs could be subject to amendment, but under no circumstances could DA amendment lead to outcomes that would violate any of the minimum standards.

In addition to stating development minimums, the Measure D amendment could and should contain a second component: the definition and approval of an “urban limit line” that would clarify the limits to which future developments can extend. The amendment could be written so that future changes to the urban limit line would require a super-majority vote of citizens.

The value of an urban limit line is twofold: 1) it would allow citizens to visualize the eventual footprint of the City; 2) it would incentivize landholders outside the line to accept agriculture or other easements on their properties because the incentive to wait for land speculation will be reduced/eliminated.

While separate from Measure D, the amendment process would also be an appropriate time to revisit the City’s “Right to Farm” code that sets mitigation requirements for any land removed from agricultural uses. Knowing the urban limit line, the City Council could incentivize the acquisition of easements that meet specific criteria in terms of location and type (ag, riparian, etc.)

The details of the “minimums” will require significant deliberation with citizens and property owners whose properties would be eligible for development under Measure D exemptions.[2]  The urban limit line, too, will require community engagement.

2. Rezone specific current commercial sites to allow housing development by right if specified density goals are achieved.

 In recent years, the City Council has rezoned specific commercial sites to permit housing development. There remain opportunities in this domain, and the City Council could act quickly to identify key areas and develop criteria that would allow rapid greenfield or redevelopment of current sites. An initial list could include the following:

  1. All properties fronting I-80 south of the freeway between Mace Boulevard and Pole Line Road. This includes the so-called Panatoni property and parcels west of Hyatt Place.
  2. The entire “Interland” property area west of Pole Line and on the north side of Cowell Boulevard.
  3. Davis Commons parking areas
  4. All shopping centers, including West Lake shopping center, 8th Street Manor shopping center, the so-called “Co-op shopping center” along G Street, Market Place, Target, and both shopping centers anchored by Nugget Markets.

This rezoning action could/should be accompanied by a city ordinance eliminating parking minimums city-wide.

The key to this action is to set stringent minimum density requirements while eliminating height limits in these areas.

And, while controversial, the City could eliminate inclusionary housing requirements in these rezoned areas, requiring instead minimum and annual financial contributions from these projects to the City’s Housing Trust Fund. This elimination recognizes that the optimal way to produce affordable housing is to use land dedication sites that can be 100% affordable in perpetuity. It acknowledges that including affordable housing in market-rate infill projects is a barrier to creating housing and has only VERY rarely been how permanently affordable housing has been developed in Davis’ history.

3. Designate key City-owned properties to develop permanently affordable rental units and release requests for proposals (RFPs) for their development in a phased approach.

Throughout Davis’ history, most permanently affordable rental units have been developed on land-dedication sites. The developers sometimes ceded the property to the City (Creekside is a recent example). In other cases, the developers selected a non-profit developer to develop the property (Sterling is a recent example).

The need for affordable rental housing is broad and deep—broad in terms of the different types of housing products that are needed and deep in terms of the sheer length of waiting lists for these products.

In recent years land-dedication sites and city-owned land have brought a variety of permanently affordable products to market:

  1. Family-oriented 2–4-bedroom units for low-income levels
  2. Smaller 1–2-bedroom units for low and very low-income levels with designated “permanent supportive” housing units for those at risk of homelessness or already unhoused.
  3. Vertical tiny homes for similar populations.

City-owned sites, like land dedication sites, allow non-profit and other developers to seek tax credit financing of projects. Recent experience demonstrates how relatively quickly they can obtain the funding given the City’s compact nature and the significant links to transit in all parts of town.

The City owns properties for which it could quickly develop RFPs to seek developers for each site. The City Council should state its intent to develop specific sites, state each site’s density and intended use (senior, special needs, permanent supportive, family, etc.), and issue RFPs.

The City should think carefully about how it can use selection processes to meet the needs of lower-income Davis-based or UC Davis employees who do not currently live in the City. The City can set parameters for “lottery” selections for those accessing affordable sites. It can, for example, give more weight to those who can demonstrate Davis-based employment, for example.

Some City-owned sites will require longer-term planning because the City currently uses them for various functions. Here are some of the City-owned sites that could be candidates for development. Most of them will meet with significant community push-back:

  1. Baseball fields behind City Hall and adjacent to the County offices on B Street
  2. City-owned property on 5th Street between D and E Streets, home currently to a small single-family residence and a City Fire Station—which the City would need to move.
  3. The parcel on the southwest corner of F and Anderson—is currently developed as open space, requiring reimbursement to the Open Space fund.
  4. Three downtown parking lots on F and G Streets—the redevelopment of the former Ace Hardware building on 3rd at H Streets could open one of these naturally for development as an affordable project.
  5. The Corporation Yard on the north side of 5th Street between L and the public gardens would require moving the much-scaled-down use of the property. One candidate for moving the Yard would be City-owned property at the old landfill—the current home of Davis Paintball and a go-cart track.
  6. City offices on the south side of 5th between the PG&E yard and commercial building next to Pole Line—would require moving office, perhaps done in coordination with a Corp Yard move.
  7. The recently acquired parcel on the corner of H and 11th Street (1101). This site has been housing residents who have moved into the newly developed Paul’s Place. A similar structure, perhaps for a permanent, year-round shelter, could be built at 1101.

In addition to these, and more controversially, the City could designate portions of current parks for development into affordable housing. The development of City parks is NOT unprecedented, as evidenced by the Yolo Library on 14th Street and the current proposal to develop another library at Walnut Park in South Davis. The idea would be to select a few large parks and develop a street-fronting portion of each. Top candidates include:

  1. Walnut Park in South Davis—area fronting Lillard next to Montgomery Elementary School—a perfect site to build migrant farm-worker housing that could double as a cold weather shelter in the winter.
  2. Arroyo Park in West Davis—area fronting Hampton Drive
  3. Northstar Park in North Davis—area just off Anderson Road
  4. Mace Ranch Park—area fronting Alhambra behind Korematsu Elementary School

4. Negotiate with public and private entities to obtain land from them or encourage/incentivize them to develop the land themselves (either market-rate or affordable)

There are many “strategic” parcels in Davis that the City does not control but on which it could seek to encourage housing development. There are at least four distinct “partners” that the City could approach about partnering to create more housing:

  1. The University of California at Davis. While there might be state-law limitations on the ability of the University to cede property to the City, the City should explore options with UC Davis specifically to use a limited amount of University property to develop permanently affordable housing. This housing could use a lottery system that weights applicants higher for UC Davis employment (or studies, if possible). There are two key locations that the City should target for this negotiation, and both are greenfield areas:
    1. i.) A relatively narrow strip along the entire property fronting Russell Boulevard between Highway 113 and Olive Lane.
    2. ii.) Properties at 1002, 1036, and 1140 on Research Park Drive in South Davis.
  2. Pacific Gas and Electric. While obtaining the current PG&E yard has been a chimera of many in Davis for many years, it is clear that PG&E has no intent to relinquish it en toto. However, the City should engage PG&E to see if they would be willing to develop or cede to the City a narrow parcel fronting 5th Street along the north side of their property from L Street to the City-owned land to the east.
  3. Religious congregations with currently-unused property. Several churches have developable land they hold against future expansion needs or for which they have no planned use. At least one congregation has approached the City about developing housing on its property: Davis Community Church has expressed interest in seeing housing developed along the north side of its property between B and C Streets. Other congregations that the City should approach include the University Covenant Church in East Davis at Mace Boulevard, the United Methodist Church on Anderson Boulevard, and the Newman Center at the corner of D and 5th Streets. These congregations may be willing to focus on providing affordable and possibly special needs-affordable housing.
  4. Davis Joint Unified School District. In addition to the current DJUSD administration building at 5th and B Streets (a site currently occupied but has been the subject of a redevelopment study), several schools have large fields adjacent to their facilities that they may be willing to offer for development. Of note is the large field on Drexel at Holmes Junior High.

Densifying Davis to face its current housing crisis requires a multi-faceted approach. The four elements outlined here offer a way forward to address this crisis.

[1] Strictly speaking, the City may be able to fulfill its requirements in this round (though that is debated), it will not be able to do so in the next round.  In addition, the intent of RHNA is to achieve actual increases in housing—both market rate and affordable. Given the paucity of developable land within the current city boundaries, it is highly unlikely that it can fulfill the intent of the requirements in this round and, therefore, some fundamental actions are necessary.

[2] Any discussion about urban limit lines or streamlined annexation would require engagement and negotiation with LAFCO and Yolo County.  With project minimums laid out, it should be possible to negotiate more uniform tax sharing agreements with the County—agreements that have been challenging given the “one-off” nature of Measure D proposals.

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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23 Comments

  1. Ron Glick

    A thoughtful and comprehensive approach.

    A few points:

    1. I don’t like supermajority voter requirements unless its for constitutional amendments. We saw the abuse of these requirements for state budgets and the voters eventually had to reduce this to a simple majority. Same sort of thing with school construction bonds.

    2. If you densify you need more open space not less. Building on parkland would be ill-advised in my opinion.

    3. The emphasis on Affordable is understandable as that is what the state demands and low income people need but I’m also concerned about the need for starter homes for young families. The key to building equity and inter-generational wealth has long been home ownership. Without providing more opportunities for young families to attain home ownership we cannot reverse the loss of young families to other communities.

    4. Building on parking lots downtown is like giving the finger to the many seniors who are longtime residents of the city. I get that the world is changing and as a long time advocate for more housing in this community I’m not change averse. Still I dread giving up my dinosaur way of life.

    Overall a good place to start the discussion.

  2. Richard_McCann

    One key addition to minimum development requirements should be meeting specified environmental impact standards. We already have useful templates in the Nishi I protocols and what the Natural Resources Commission recommended for DISC I and II.

    Another large school-affiliated site is the parcel south of Harper Junior HS. I think that space was being held in anticipation of converting Harper to a senior HS but that now looks highly unlikely.

    Ron G, building ON a parking lot does not mean eliminating the lot–the housing can be built with a lot underneath. In any case, there is still plenty of parking downtown (maybe just not right in front of the store that you want to go to–the problem can be solved for those truly in need by expanding the number of handicapped spaces.) If we are going to actually address climate change, we will have to reduce driving which means either reducing parking or making it much more expensive. We have to come up with different ways of meeting the needs of seniors such more handicapped space or, better yet, an on call shuttle service, or even better, distributing retail enterprises around in neighborhoods like San Luis Obispo has (a similarly sized city).

  3. Ron Oertel

    [1] Strictly speaking, the City may be able to fulfill its requirements in this round (though that is debated), it will not be able to do so in the next round.

    Again, this is factually incorrect.

    Vast population centers along the coast are subject to the same type of current and future RHNA targets, but are not sprawling outward.  This is a fact, not an opinion.

    The intent of the state was to force infill in these vast population centers, where jobs are located (or “were” located, before the impacts of telecommuting and the population/business exodus to other states became apparent).

    This exodus of population and jobs (combined with the economic/housing downturn) is a primary reason that current and future RHNA targets will fail – regardless of whether or not the plans are approved by the state.

    Why is everyone so set on meeting “RHNA” standards when the evidence is very clear that it will never happen?

    https://48hills.org/2022/09/the-states-local-housing-goals-are-nothing-more-than-a-farce/

    1. David Greenwald

      “Again, this is factually incorrect.”

      You are saying it’s “factually” incorrect and yet that is the assessment that the city has made. You may subjectively disagree with the assessment, but you CANNOT say it’s factually incorrect.

      Second, you keep using the large cities on the coast as your reasoning here. That seems problematic in so many ways.

      But you assert they are not sprawling out, however, if you look at SF for example, even that statement is not exactly true.

      They are relying on huge “peripheral” tracts of land including Treausure Island and the 750 shipyard to meet their housing needs. Those are actually a lot larger than anything Davis is looking at on the periphery and anything Davis has in town.

      You’re not making an apples to apples comparison by even comparing Davis to SF or other cities.

      1. Ron Oertel

        They are relying on huge “peripheral” tracts of land including Treausure Island and the 750 shipyard to meet their housing needs. Those are actually a lot larger than anything Davis is looking at on the periphery and anything Davis has in town.

        Those sites (other than perhaps Treasure Island – not sure) are already in the city.  Those are also redevelopment sites – not undeveloped farmland.

        Regardless, how is San Francisco going to address future targets, when those infill sites are redeveloped? If they even are redeveloped in the first place, before the next round of RHNA targets?

        The article I cited shows that San Francisco’s targets will fail.

        You’re not making an apples to apples comparison by even comparing Davis to SF or other cities.

        Your first comparison has already failed.  Pick ANY city along the coast, and tell us how they’re planning to sprawl outward to meet current or future RHNA targets.  Should we list all of the cities, and go over them one-by-one?

         

         

         

        1. David Greenwald

          Davis doesn’t have a 750 acre site to redevelop. That’s comparable to Village and Pioneer. You asked how they are doing that, they have more land than we do to redevelop.

        2. Ron Oertel

          San Francisco is a much larger city in the first place, and has much larger RHNA targets.

          It would be helpful if you provided links to your sources.  This might show (for example) how much housing is supposedly planned for each area in the city, how much of it is affordable, etc.

          But again I ask, how will San Francisco city meet future rounds, if you’re claiming that the current rounds are addressed?

          In the meantime, here’s some other quotes from the article, above:

          Missing from much of the debate and discussion is a problem that a few critics have raised from the start: The RHNA goals are so far-fetched that cities and counties can’t possible meet them—and that’s not entirely, or even primarily, the fault of local government.
          Yes, some communities are trying, in almost comical ways, to block and new housing and increased density. But in the areas where the state wants to see the most housing growth—places like San Francisco and Los Angeles—the numbers are beyond impossible, unless the state decides to radically change its policies and provide vast new sums of money to subsidize affordable housing.
          San Francisco has already upzoned the entire city, eliminating single-family zoning altogether. That’s a dream of the Yimbys. But we’re not seeing much new housing construction, and the new construction is by no means affordable to most people who need housing.
          City planners have already approved more than 50,000 new units, and, as far as the city is concerned, the developers can break ground tomorrow. It’s not happening.
          That’s because, in many places, zoning and red-tape aren’t the barriers to new construction. The problem is that developers aren’t getting financing for their projects, because the market doesn’t support them right now.
          In some places, with creative financing, the subsidy needed to make a unit “affordable” is lower; lets postulate for the sake of argument that it’s only half what Barnes is citing.
          That’s still $325 billion. The state isn’t even providing five percent of that.
          In San Francisco alone, the price tag for the RHNA affordable housing mandates is $19 billion.
          That means the affordable housing just won’t get built. Not at the level that state requires. There’s no other way to talk about this.

          And here’s some quotes from another article:

          The RHNA goals are, CCHO says, basically impossible and the state’s position is a contradiction in terms:
          The State’s actions do not align with the state’s goals. The state’s guidance puts SF on a collision course with upzoning San Francisco to create housing that is approximately 20 percent affordable and 80 percent market rate, while at the same time actual housing production goals set by the state and region conclude that 57 percent of new housing should be affordable to very low and moderate income households.
          1The state agency enforcing housing rules doesn’t care about affordable housing – 48 hills
          The RHNA goals call for San Francisco to zone for, make room for, and approve about 82,000 new housing units in the next eight years, 46,000 of them affordable.
          But she agreed that’s never going to happen, so the city, with whatever resources it can find, is supposed to subsidize 46,000 units, at a cost of about $19 billion. Nobody in any position in City Hall has any idea where that money will come from. (If the city relies entirely on inclusionary housing from private developers, it will require massive demolition of existing housing and neighborhoods.)
          The RHNA goals call for about 36,000 new units of market-rate housing. The city has already approved and entitled some 45,000 units, about 35,000 of them market rate.
          In other words, San Francisco has already essentially met the bar for approving luxury housing, without any additional upzoning or streamlining at all. Chion and Planner James Pappas, who has done a lot of the analysis for the Housing Element, both agreed with me that in terms of approvals, San Francisco doesn’t lack for market-rate housing.
          But that’s only half of the story.

          And here’s another one:

          Sup. Dean Preston announced this week an intriguing, if counter-intuitive concept: He wants to let nonprofits sue the city if it fails to meet its affordable-housing obligations under the new Housing Element.

          https://48hills.org/2023/01/why-it-makes-sense-for-stakeholders-to-sue-the-city-for-failing-its-affordable-housing-goals/

           

          https://48hills.org/2023/01/how-the-state-of-california-is-screwing-san-francisco-on-housing/

          And here’s another (lengthy) article, which you can read on your own:

          The state housing secrecy just keeps getting worse and worse – 48 hills

           

          There’s so many of these type of articles that it’s difficult to believe that you’ve overlooked them.  It’s not limited to “48 Hills”, either.

          But if it’s “helpful” to you or Robb, I’d be happy to list some more.

           

           

           

        3. Ron Oertel

          Unasked, I decided to list one more (as I think it’s relevant).  (Also, the formatting in regard to the articles I cited above got messed-up, but I was cut-off before I was able to fix it.)

          The state’s housing goals would require massive demolition and evictions in SF

          Data shows that RHNA rules are just impossible without complete urban transformation. What was Wiener thinking?

          If San Francisco is going to rely on private for-profit developers to build most of its new affordable housing through inclusionary mandates, the amount of new market-rate housing will have to more than triple what state currently requires.

          Either that, or the city would have to require that 57 percent of all for-profit units are affordable—or fail to meet the lower-end RHNA goals and greatly exceed the number of luxury units, with the profound gentrification and displacement that would ensue.

          The math isn’t complicated; it’s just missing from most policy discussions.

          The current RHNA rules mandate that San Francisco authorize 82,069 units of new housing in the next eight years. Of those, 46,598 need to be below-market-rate.

          The state’s rules include zero funding for any of that affordable housing. San Francisco would need $19 billion to pay for it, data shows.

          But lots of developer advocates say it’s fine to allow more market-rate projects, as long as they include some affordable units.

          Fine: But at 28 percent affordable, the city would need 166,000 new units—120,000 of them market-rate—to reach the RHNA goals. Under that scenario, San Francisco would wind up with more than three times the number of luxury units than the state says we need.

          The only way that could possibly happen is if the city allowed wholesale demolition of existing neighborhoods, on a scale that would greatly exceed the redevelopment scandals of the 1950s and 1960s.

          The numbers don’t lie: Building adequate affordable housing by allowing new market-rate housing isn’t going to work.

          https://48hills.org/2022/05/the-states-housing-goals-would-require-massive-demolition-and-evictions-in-sf/

          So David, I am curious as to your thoughts regarding whether or not San Francisco has a viable plan (for either the current round of RHNA targets, or future rounds – even with the infill locations you’re referring to for the current round).

           

  4. David Thompson

    Robb Davis should be congratulated on providing a detailed set of paths to densification. As he admits, some paths will be difficult. However, Rob generates a list of what is possible. The task now is for the citizenry to measure the choices and for the Council to act. Thansk Robb for providing the community with a menu to look at.

    However, the Hibberts proposal just announced points out a major weakness we have in mixed use projects. This massive loophole needs to be closed as mixed use is a feature in a number of Robb’s suggestion.

    Hibbert’s (SB330) 224 Apartments Will Have NO Parking NO Poor
    Hibbert’s plan avoids the Builder’s Remedy which at least requires 20% of the units for Low Income (LI) so on the face of it for 224 units projected there should be 44 units for low income households.
    So by adding a measly 8,000 sq. ft. retail to a four story project, Hibbert’s avoids providing 33 low income units. Under SB 330 only 11 low income units are proposed which is 5%. None of the units will serve very low income (VLI) households which is the city’ biggest gap in meeting the RHNA numbers of 580 VLI units.
     

    For the Hibbert’s site proposal under SB330 there will be no parking requirements. Think of the impact on G street neighbors and the Co-op in particular. Where will 250-300 vehicles park in the neighborhood?

    The mixed use loophole must be closed if we are to achieve some of Robb’s recomendations.

    And thank you Robb for your contribution of ideas to be explored.

  5. Richard_McCann

    Vast population centers along the coast are subject to the same type of current and future RHNA targets, but are not sprawling outward.  This is a fact, not an opinion.

    Ron O: Another important fact: Virtually all of the coastal cities are hemmed in either by neighboring jurisdictions, or unbuildable land including publicly-owned parks and preserves. Neither of those are the case for Davis or most other Central Valley communities. Stating your “fact” is like saying there’s no open air cities on the Moon.

    As for referring to Tim Redmond, he is long notorious for misrepresenting a number of issues in San Francisco, going back to the 1980s. Please refer to those who are actually knowledgeable on the issue.

    For David, that entire neighborhood already has protected permit parking for the residents, and that can be expanded to limit parking. The objective to reduce the number of added cars to just a few dozen, consistent with the City’s Climate Action Plan. We must get people out of their cars to reduce GHG emissions.

    As for the retail exemption, this is a very important incentive for redeveloping sites while maintaining a viable and vital Downtown district. The financial and fiscal analysis for the Downtown Plan already showed such projects are barely viable with the conditions required. You need to identify another funding source for increases in VLI before adding that as a requirement in the Downtown Plan. The Plan went through substantial multi-year vetting by the community. It’s too late to try to change the compromises made there. We have to act with some urgency now–we can’t reopen all of that.

    1. Ron Oertel

      Ron O: Another important fact: Virtually all of the coastal cities are hemmed in either by neighboring jurisdictions, or unbuildable land including publicly-owned parks and preserves. Neither of those are the case for Davis or most other Central Valley communities. Stating your “fact” is like saying there’s no open air cities on the Moon.

      As pointed out to you yesterday, there are also other reasons that many of these cities aren’t expanding outward – despite having room to do so.  It would take a series of articles to examine the constraints (both natural, and man-made) which prevent these cities from expanding outward.  I can’t think of a single city along the coast (e.g., Marin or Sonoma) which has sprawled outward in recent years.

      But more importantly, the “reasons” for this lack of sprawl are irrelevant, in regard to RHNA targets.  The state is targeting those areas in the first place, despite not having “room” to sprawl.

      For example, Wiener and Newsom are both FROM San Francisco – and both REPRESENTED it. (Wiener still does.) These are the types of areas that are the source and focus of the state’s supposed concerns. Well that, plus places like Silicon Valley, Los Angeles/Southern California.

      As for referring to Tim Redmond, he is long notorious for misrepresenting a number of issues in San Francisco, going back to the 1980s. Please refer to those who are actually knowledgeable on the issue.

      Attacking a journalist in this manner does not constitute a viable “argument”.  You’re certainly free to dispute anything he (or any other journalist) states or cites, but so far – you’ve declined to do so.

      As for the retail exemption, this is a very important incentive for redeveloping sites while maintaining a viable and vital Downtown district. The financial and fiscal analysis for the Downtown Plan already showed such projects are barely viable with the conditions required. You need to identify another funding source for increases in VLI before adding that as a requirement in the Downtown Plan. The Plan went through substantial multi-year vetting by the community. It’s too late to try to change the compromises made there. We have to act with some urgency now–we can’t reopen all of that.

      I haven’t presented any arguments regarding the downtown plan, nor do I know what “retail exemption” you’re referring to.  (Unless it’s that measly 5% Affordable housing requirement.  Even the “builder’s remedy” requires more than that.)

      Some claim that this type of exemption is the reason that Nishi I was proposed for “mixed use”. At that time, I believe that NO Affordable housing was required for mixed-use.

    2. Richard_McCann

      Ron O

      First, the comment on the retail exemption was not intended for you. Read more carefully next time.

      As pointed out to you yesterday, there are also other reasons that many of these cities aren’t expanding outward – despite having room to do so.

      I looked at the last 4 articles posted on this topic–I see no such response from you. List the “large” cities in the coastal area that you believe have an unconstrained ability to expand outwards but choose not to do so. I can not identify a single one between Marin and Monterey in the north and from Los Angeles County to San Diego in the south. All are constrained by either out jurisdictions or unbuildable or publicly owned land. (And why are we spending so much time debating San Francisco? It’s completely irrelevant to the situation in Davis.)

      As for Tim Redmond, I’m not going to debate issues with someone who is so uncredible. I’m not going to take on his falsehoods as though they have some sort of validity. I read his publication as it made error after error in the 1980s and 90s. Fox News also spreads false news and even paid out over $700 million for doing so (and is facing an even larger financial threat.) It’s not a reliable source of information. Look for a different credible source of your information.

      1. Ron Oertel

        First, the comment on the retail exemption was not intended for you. Read more carefully next time.

        You didn’t clarify “who” the comment was intended for.  The only person you referred to in your entire comment was me.

        As pointed out to you yesterday, there are also other reasons that many of these cities aren’t expanding outward – despite having room to do so.

        I looked at the last 4 articles posted on this topic–I see no such response from you.

        As you said to me, read more carefully next time.

        List the “large” cities in the coastal area that you believe have an unconstrained ability to expand outwards but choose not to do so.

        I never said that they any of them have an “unconstrained” ability.  But some cities have chosen not to, and NONE have chosen to expand outward as a result of RHNA targets.  Urban growth boundaries exist throughout the state, as do greenbelts, etc.  There is a purposeful effort in places like Sonoma county to ensure that greenbelts separate cities.

        As far as “large” cities – you may be correct in that they’ve already used up all of the space they can.  (Not sure about San Jose, Los Angeles or San Diego – they may have room to expand.  This would make a good topic for an entire article, or series of articles.)

        But again, this is irrelevant – did you not see that comment the first time?  The state’s efforts are focused on these cities, DESPITE not having room to sprawl (or choosing not to). This goes for large cities as well as smaller cities.

        Look at this map, and tell me if you think these cities have “room” to expand well-beyond these boundaries, if they chose to do so.

        I personally witnessed more-restrictive zoning enacted in some of the locales in Sonoma county back in the 1970s, for the EXPRESS PURPOSE of restricting growth. The same thing happened on an even larger scale in Marin county.

        There are also land trusts working to preserve large tracts of land – even in Yolo county. But nothing like what exists in Marin, Sonoma, and I believe – Napa county. This is a CHOICE that was made, to reign-in growth and preserve farmland/open space. These are PRIVATE lands.

        https://www.planbayarea.org/sites/default/files/sonoma_pda_map-4.26.pdf

        The city of Sonoma has an urban growth boundary, as well:

        https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/Main%20County%20Site/General/Sonoma/Sample%20Dept/Divisions%20and%20Sections/A%20Service/Services/A%20Service/_Documents/_2020/Measure%20W%20-%20UGB%20Measure.pdf

        These are just examples.  But again, it would take an entire series of articles and associated research to explore all of the ways that cities across the state have taken steps to contain sprawl (and infill, for that matter).

        Name a city of ANY size along the coast which have chosen to expand outward as a result of RHNA targets. 

        All are constrained by either out jurisdictions or unbuildable or publicly owned land. (And why are we spending so much time debating San Francisco? It’s completely irrelevant to the situation in Davis.)

        Again, it’s irrelevant – San Francisco and every other city is subject to these same RHNA targets, despite either not being able to sprawl outward – or choosing not to do so. 

        In fact, the fact that they’re the focus of RHNA targets “proves” that those targets are not dependent upon the ability or choice to sprawl outward.

        As for Tim Redmond, I’m not going to debate issues with someone who is so uncredible. I’m not going to take on his falsehoods as though they have some sort of validity. I read his publication as it made error after error in the 1980s and 90s.

        That’s up to you – you haven’t disputed one single fact he’s noted regarding RHNA.  Not even one.

        No one has any idea what you’re talking about regarding the 1980s or 1990s.

        Fox News also spreads false news and even paid out over $700 million for doing so (and is facing an even larger financial threat.) It’s not a reliable source of information. Look for a different credible source of your information

        Personally, I wouldn’t be putting forth unsupported allegations regarding Tim Redmond, given the example you just put forth above.

        But again, I’d encourage you to challenge the actual facts and information he’s put forth.

        It’s not just 48 Hills which casts doubt upon the state’s RHNA targets.  Ask the state auditor (or look up other news sources, yourself).  Some of the other news sources are behind a paywall, so I can’t always list them here.

         

      2. Tim Keller

        The fact that people still respond to Ron’s comments is puzzling.   We know he is not engaging in intellectually honest debate, and we know his mind is set, no matter what facts we present him with… NONE of it matters, which makes such a debate a waste of your time.

        But perhaps more significantly, reacting to Ron distracts from more meaningful debate that could be happening here; and you effectively let him hijack the entire conversation when you engage him.

        The correct way to deal with a troll is to ignore them

        1. Ron Oertel

          Seems to me that you’re commenting about “me” (in regard to what I noted), while simultaneously stating that I should be ignored.

          But the comments I put forth are not “about” me in the first place.  For example, if you or anyone else responded to the quotes I put forth (e.g., from 48 Hills) – rather than “me”, perhaps “you’d” be listened-to.

          The correct way to deal with a troll is to ignore themI

          I am not a troll, and don’t appreciate being called one.  But again, your comment is yet another attempt to make the issues brought forth about “me”, in much the same way that Richard McCann does (with both “me”, and now – Tim Redmond).

          Perhaps “trolls” are actually the ones who think this is an appropriate or convincing way to respond, starting with calling someone else a troll.

          1. David Greenwald

            I agree, Ron is not a troll. He is a true believer.

            “ Fear of the future causes us to lean against and cling to the present, while faith in the future renders us receptive to change.”

        2. Tim Keller

          We might have different definitions of “troll”…  But in my experience many trolls could be described as “true believers”.   Especially the belief that they are right, logic and facts be damned.

          Perhaps look at the effects instead:  We have an article with a substantive proposal for housing reform in this city, yet the comments section is more than 50% Ron’s denial there is even a problem, and you and others basically continuing the same argument you have had with him in every housing article comments section for the past 2 weeks.

          Thats the effect of trolling.   There are many times when the commentary on one of these articles has taught me something new.  Many commenters indeed will enrich and expand the content of the article presented.

          Thats NOT whats happening here.   If its not trolling, teach me the preferred term… it still isn’t worth my time engaging… and It probably isn’t worth yours either.

        3. Ron Oertel

          Perhaps look at the effects instead:  We have an article with a substantive proposal for housing reform in this city, yet the comments section is more than 50% Ron’s denial there is even a problem, and you and others basically continuing the same argument you have had with him in every housing article comments section for the past 2 weeks.

          The “problem” is that the articles (and the few commenters on here) present one point of view – repeatedly.  Since I’m in the minority on this blog, each of them takes a shot at me – often resulting in personal insults, as well.  Such as the use of the word “troll”.

          I try to ignore the insults, and focus on substance instead.  But some don’t make that easy to do.

          “ Fear of the future causes us to lean against and cling to the present, while faith in the future renders us receptive to change.”

          “Fear” does render some unable to accept change (such as a declining-enrollment school district), thereby rending them unable to take appropriate action.

          “Fear” renders some unable to accept demographic change, as well.

          “Fear” renders some afraid to challenge what others claim – even when they know it’s wrong.

          Ultimately, the city will continue to “live” far-beyond anyone commenting on here today.

  6. Ron Oertel

    The following locale may have an “anti-sprawl” measure which most-closely resembles Measure J in Davis:

    SOAR is a series of voter initiatives that protect open space and farmland by vote of the people.  The County SOAR requires a vote countywide before agricultural, rural or open space land in the unincorporated county can be rezoned for development. The eight voter-approved SOAR initiatives passed by the cities of Camarillo, Fillmore, Moorpark, Oxnard, Santa Paula, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks and Ventura require a citywide vote of approval for urban development beyond a City Urban Restriction Boundary (CURB), or, in the case of the City of Ventura, before rezoning agricultural land within the city’s sphere of influence. The Thousand Oaks SOAR initiative also protects open space and parks within the city.

    https://www.soarvc.org/

    (I wonder if they also have a blog or former/current city officials attempting to undermine this.)

     

     

  7. Ron Oertel

    1. Amend Measure D (formerly Measures J and R) to permit peripheral development to move forward without a citizen’s vote under specific conditions.

    In an article titled “Densifying Davis – a Four Part Strategy”; “Part One” consists of undermining Measure J to enable like-minded officials to pursue sprawl.

    Seemingly right out of a YIMBY playbook (though even those folks never openly acknowledge that they support sprawl).

     

  8. Tim Keller

    What I like the most about the idea of an urban limit line instead of measure J is that it returns the city planning function back to the city’s planning department where it belongs.

    if we want to create well planned “neighborhoods” and not just a collection of developments, then this is absolutely essential.

  9. Moderator

    Hi folks,

    If there is a commenter who bothers you, there’s a simple solution:

    If you click on this button, their comments will never display for you again. Just be careful, since we don’t have any way to undo it that I’m aware of.

    Best bet, of course, is to just make your own comments and keep the conversation on track.

     

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