SED Students Propose Peripheral Development Standards for the City of Davis

Students presented housing options

The following was presented during the Davis City Council Meeting on June 6

Hello. We are the LDA 142 class, the Applying Sustainable Strategies course at UC Davis. And I’m Diego Serrano, a senior sustainable designer. My group and I are speaking on behalf of our class. A total of 37 students. And our collective knowledge has led us to believe that these standards are necessary in designing a community that prioritizes sustainable design, social equity, and environmental responsibility. And by embracing a more holistic approach.

These are the standards we are presenting conscious of generations to come and these are the standards that we are presenting to the council today.

Hi, council. I’m Brooke.

The first standard that we’re presenting on today is permanent affordable housing.  Designating units as permanently affordable, ensures longevity for future generations and abides by Section F Article 18.05.010 of the Davis Municipal Code. Some ways to achieve permanent affordable housing is through inclusionary zoning and land dedication. The city is currently short 472 affordable units for meeting the current housing element period of 2021 to 2029. In addition, 64% of residents are rent burdened, and in addition to that, 26.4% are living at or below the poverty line, which is over double the state average. Considering this information, it is clear that providing permanent affordable housing stock is an expressed need in our community.

Hi, I’m Shelby. I’m here to talk about density. I also wanted to say I worked on this with Michael Yoo.  The majority of Davis is single family housing. And even though Davis is committed to a rise in gross acre density already, we do recommend a change to eight to 10 units per gross acre for new peripheral developments.

Additionally, we recommend raising the maximum net acre densities to 10, 15 and 30 for low, medium, and high densities respectively. This is compared to current maximum of 4.76, 11.2, and 20 units.

We also recommend an a requirement to mix unit types to meet these densities. Our main rationale is the city of Sacramento, which is only 20 minutes away. Their general plan dictates a maximum of 8, 17 and 36 units per net acre for low, medium, and high density. The new gross acre density standard will also help reach the LEED Neighborhood Development certification of seven units per gross acre. And we do believe that Davis can accommodate the rising student and family populations.

Hi, I’m Chris. And so for mobility, we’re suggesting that there’s an enforcement of complete streets that have less priority on vehicles and emphasize bike lanes and safe pedestrian travel. In addition to that, we also suggest compact development, particularly in the form of a small block sizes that way mobility is increased while also encouraging interconnected street networks. So we also suggest using raised intersections in roundabouts instead of traditional intersections in order to decrease the speed of traffic and ultimately increase pedestrian safety because slower traffic generally leads to less severe collisions. And so Davis has notorious notoriously been pedestrian friendly. So this tradition needs to continue.

My name is Ara. And this slide is a small slide, but it has a big concept in that the holistic approach that we think the development standards need to include have this example baked in of we need to create neighborhoods that are both in their construction and their existence, net zero carbon. And so either that’s having carbon sinks mitigated elsewhere. But with climate change, Davis is going to see more wind, more heat, and more rain, which is flooding risk. We need permeable ground, we need more shade for the community. And that also prevents land subsidence in the future. These standards need to be thought for the future generations.

And so our group is recommending 15% of new development space be a green space as a minimum bike and walkways connecting all through site and mandatory connection to the greenway system, and incorporating an ag buffer into the site as well. And our rationale is that promoting connectivity through our community that is known for its greenway system and its mobility around town.

This graphic shows the disparity between the older and newer neighborhoods in Davis towards tree coverage and reinforces the need to add urban shading in our communities

In terms of community and public health. There’s a, a need for community centers, daycares, and publicly accessible water and restrooms. So we suggest prioritizing these. So for community centers residents are important. And David should look at Vancouver’s inspiration due to their community amenity contribution program, which requires new peripheral developments to create or improve community center accessibility. In addition to this, there’s currently an affordable childcare crisis in California with the average childcare cost annually being $14,000 a year in California, whereas a national average is $5,000. And then in addition to this with climate change in mind and summers proceeding to get hotter and hotter, public accessibility to water is increasingly vital. And then lastly, according to the American Restroom Association, best practice is one restroom per 2,500 to 3000 residents. Davis is currently at one restroom per 6,000 residents.

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    1. David Greenwald

      Rochelle Swanson speaking after the student presentation said that she felt like Village Farms checked all the boxes. I suppose someone can do a more detailed analysis.

  1. Richard_McCann

    It wasn’t clear to me as to whether this presentation was separate from the letter signed jointly by who I presume was the course instructor Stephen Wheeler. The letter has many of the same items.

    The sustainability conditions are not too different from what the NRC proposed in detail for DiSC. The developer appeared to agree that those were financially feasible but would not go so far as to legally commit to adopting most of them.

  2. Todd Edelman

    I’m no expert on how the density relates to demand for public transport, but there seems to be an implication here that all the described density will pretty much automatically translate to fast and frequent transit connections to all necessary destinations.

    In a complimentary way, the Village Farms [sic, arguably]  representatives the throw out the lovely “…. hub” panacea – interchangeably ” mobility” or ” transit” – but then there’s nothing specific in both the student presentation nor the ones from the developers. Why not?

    Perhaps it’s because – as evidenced by the earlier agenda item about I-80 – the majority of the council doesn’t really understand public transportation – perhaps it’s because – again with evidence from that agenda item – the majority of the city council doesn’t really care too much.

    The proposal also is seriously negligent in its details about fast cycling transportation, which is not possible along our greenways, and the greenways don’t even connect all parts of the periphery to the center or to all schools.



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