City Will Move Forward on EIR for Village Farms, Addendum for Nishi

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Davis, CA – A consent item indicates that the city will award a contract to Raney Planning & Management, Inc., for the preparation of the Environmental Impact Report for the Village Farms Davis project.

Back in June, the council gave direction to the city to begin undertaking review and processing of a land use application for the Village Farms project with a timeline targeting March, 2025, for a potential ballot measure.

At the same meeting the City Council also gave direction to proceed with review and processing of another proposal, the Shriners project, with a target ballot measure timeline of June, 2026.

Staff notes council further gave direction to return to seek authorization to enter into professional service contracts for the preparation of an EIR pursuant to CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) for each project proposal.

The applicant is requesting that the city proceed with preparation of the necessary CEQA documents, which include the NOP (Notice of Preparation), for the purpose of consideration of the proposal.

According to staff, “The NOP is currently expected to come to the City Council in mid-October, in conjunction with commission feedback on the peripheral development rubric.”

Raney Planning & Management, Inc. prepared the EIR for the former Covell Village project, which was certified in 2005 by the Davis City Council and the project entitlements were approved for this same site.

However, staff notes, “the project was subject to a measure J/R/D vote and it did not pass.”

Staff recommends “use of Raney Planning & Management based upon their familiarity with the project site and its prior EIR work on the same site, as well as their exceptional track record of prior CEQA analysis with the City.”

According to a schedule, a draft NOP would be submitted by September 26 with the review period from October 11 to November 10 and a Public Scoping meeting this fall, but still to be determined.

The draft EIR would be submitted to the city by June 6, 2024, with a public review period between June 7 and July 22 and a public hearing to be determined.

The final EIR would go forward on November 4, 2024, with the public review period in November, a Planning Commission Hearing in November, and a Council final approval in December ahead of a March Special Election in 2025.

Preparation of 2nd Addendum to EIR for Promenade – i.e. Nishi Project

In a separate consent item, council is being asked to authorize a Professional Service Agreement with Ascent Environmental, for the preparation of the 2nd Addendum to the EIR for the Promenade (Nishi/Gateway) project.

The Nishi project was approved by the voters on June 5, 2018, the first approved Measure J vote.  Since that time, the applicant has been working with Union Pacific, UC Davis, and the city to bring forward the project.

In October 2017, “the property owners submitted an updated preliminary conceptual site plan and narrative for development on the Nishi property,” staff explained.

The project includes 700 apartment dwelling units which comes to about 2200 beds.

The project that voters approved had vehicle access through a grade-separated crossing across the Union Pacific Railroad tracks to the UC Davis campus.

While bus and emergency vehicle and bicycle and pedestrian access to the project is permitted to West Olive Drive, private automobile traffic to West Olive Drive is not permitted.

Earlier this year, the applicant submitted a final proposed planned development and design review.

This includes a grade-separated bridge crossing over the railroad tracks.

According to staff, “Union Pacific Railroad is not in agreement to approve a tunnel under the railroad tracks.”

An additional barrier is that “the precise crossing alignment has been shifted further to the northeast such that it now lands on the Solano Park Apartment site (on the UC Davis side of the railroad tracks).”

UC Davis is planning to demolish the Solano Park Apartment site and has prepared an EIR to study the impacts of both the demolition and the new bridge landing.

As such, these adjustments require additional review under CEQA.

Staff notes, “If all of these findings can be made, an addendum will be prepared and brought forward concurrently with the remaining project entitlements for approval. It is expected that preparation of the addendum will take approximately 16 weeks.”

Staff adds, “It should be noted that an application for annexation of the property to the city of Davis has been made to the Yolo County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo). It is estimated that the LAFCo Board hearing for consideration of the annexation will occur sometime before the end of 2023.”

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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6 Comments

  1. Jim Frame

    This includes a grade-separated bridge crossing over the railroad tracks.

    Yikes!  They want to put a 23-foot-tall (at the rail end) bridge right through the middle of the Solano Park site?  That’s a big “screw you” to all the bike and pedestrian users who’ll have to contend with the additional 10 or so feet of rise/fall every time they cross the tracks, and a logistical and aesthetic design challenge for the new Solano Park.  Thanks a lot, UP.

    1. Todd Edelman

      Did not support the Nishi project and I still don’t. Mostly because it’s awful living so close to a large and busy freeway.

      The crossing of the railroad tracks also requires a landing that’s a fair way into the Nishi site itself.

      But the orientation roughly towards Downtown is also a problem for people who are heading further west on campus.

      Given the relatively mild incline of the existing Putah Creek multi-user path under crossing, It seems pretty clear that nearly everyone walking and most people on bikes or scooters will use this egress to campus.  So at certain periods of the day it will become extremely impacted, slow and possibly dangerous.

      It seems likely that a lot of people will use Unitrans to get from Nishi to campus. Has Nishi is not actually on campus, it seems like there will be no restriction on people driving from Nishi to campus – the intra campus travel restriction by motor vehicle will not apply…. Or was this stipulation put into the development agreement etc for Nishi?

      Still, the city, UC Davis and developers should have recognized that a crossing similar to Pole Line was always a possibility, especially as the project was put forward and approved without a concrete agreement with Union Pacific.

      Bad decisions related to transportation. Continue in Davis: recently – and related to the Nishi crossing issue – Union Pacific said that it wants to make the olive drive to Davis Depot crossing also an over crossing… And some members of the BTSC agree with this.

       

       

       

       

  2. Walter Shwe

    Did not support the Nishi project and I still don’t. Mostly because it’s awful living so close to a large and busy freeway.

    No wonder actual capitalism and free markets don’t apply to Davis. Nit picky NIMBYs are the real problem with Davis.

  3. Jim Frame

    No wonder actual capitalism and free markets don’t apply to Davis.

    Capitalism and “free markets” are what allow Union Pacific to tell the communities through which their trains pass to pound sand.

    1. Walter Shwe

      Capitalism and “free markets” are what allow Union Pacific to tell the communities through which their trains pass to pound sand.

      I love it when people are made to pound sand. If they are so opposed to capitalism, I am sure North Korea would welcome them with open arms.

    2. Mark West

      “allow Union Pacific to tell the communities through which their trains pass to pound sand.”

      A few decades ago the railroad offered to pay to widen and improve the Richards Blvd under crossing only to have the City tell it to ‘pound sand.’ You reap what you sow

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