Davis Council Subcommittee Looks at Infill Possibilities

Corporation Yard may be an ideal spot for redevelopment

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Davis, CA – In the seventh Housing Element Cycle of RHNA, the city might be expected to have an allocation of more than 4000 units—that’s what a subcommittee reports “based purely on the historic trend of the RHNA number roughly doubling for the last few housing element cycles.”

The Vanguard has taken the more conservative approach that the 2030 to 2038 cycle will roughly duplicate the 2075 units of the current cycle.  But, as the subcommittee report notes, the housing has gone from 498 units 2006 to 2013, to 1066 from 2013 to 2021 to 2075 currently which ends in 2029.

The subcommittee tasked with infill—Bapu Vaitla and Vice Mayor Josh Chapman, writes, “To accomplish this estimated number of units, the City will require a combination of maximizing infill opportunities, plus looking to peripheral sites.”

They note that “the efforts of this subcommittee and recommendations of this report run in parallel with, but are separate from, the efforts currently underway to bring the City Housing Element V.3 to completion and final certification.”

The Housing Element would come back to Council on December 5 “and includes updates to programmatic language in the Housing Element, as well as actions to rezone approximately 16 properties in Davis for infill housing and mixed use.”

In order to maximize infill opportunities, council could be asked to incorporate several policy initiatives.

Neighborhood Shopping Centers – Incorporating Mixed Use – “The City has several neighborhood shopping centers that provide prime opportunities for incorporation of mixed use, especially for residential development above retail.”

At the same time, the experience of University Commons serves as a cautionary tale.

Nevertheless, the council could “prioritize development and incorporation of a zoning overlay onto neighborhood shopping centers to allow mixed use by right, but would require mixed use (integration of some minimum amount of residential) when a major renovation is done.”

The report notes that Davis has the following neighborhood shopping centers that would be evaluated for such an overlay possibility: Marketplace, Oakshade, Oak Tree, Davis Manor, Anderson Plaza, Westlake, Fifth Street Plaza, and El Macero Shopping Center.

Reduce or Eliminate Parking Minimums – The report notes that as of January 1, 2023, state law went into effect to end parking minimums near public transit.  According to the law, “a public agency shall not enforce any minimum parking requirements on a ‘residential, commercial or other development project’ located within one-half mile of public transit.”

The staff report notes, “Davis has a bus system that meets the objectives of this law and therefore, most of the city falls under the provisions of this law.”  Therefore, “the state has eliminated parking requirements for the vast majority of the City.”

Densify Existing Single-Family Neighborhoods – “In 2020, the City of Davis began preparation of its 2021-2029 Housing Element Update. Through that process, several ideas for new policies were suggested by various interested parties.”

In particular, “a suggestion was made to study the possibility of increasing the density in single-family residential zones. Before the city could study the possibility, the State of California responded in 2021 with new legislation (SB9, Govt. Code Section 65852) which requires ministerial approval of a housing development with no more than two (800 square foot minimum) primary units in a single-family zone.”

The staff report notes, “The Infill Subcommittee will explore further options for going beyond SB8/9, with an eye towards meeting housing targets for this and the subsequent RHNA cycle, as well as preparing the ground for more detailed discussions during the General Plan Update process.

“These options may include applying higher density zoning on certain corridors (such as neighborhoods fronting on arterials and/or transit corridors, such as Anderson Road) or reducing/eliminating exclusively single-family or low residential density zones.”

Evaluate Establishment of an Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District (EIFD) – The staff report notes, “Since the dissolution of Redevelopment Agencies (RDA) across the State of California one of the key mechanisms for investing in civic infrastructure and affordable housing (RDA tax increment) was eliminated.”

Since then, “various alternative funding mechanisms have been developed and approved for use by the State.”

This includes the Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District (EIFD).

The staff report explains, “EIFD’s can be used for new civic infrastructure projects and to help support the construction of affordable housing and transit-oriented development. EIFD’S use property tax increment to provide the funding stream and the ability to bond.”

They add, “It is recommended that the City Council direct that further research into the feasibility of a Davis EIFD be conducted in consultation with the City Finance Department and the City Attorney.”

City Property Infill Housing: The vast majority of city-controlled properties are currently in active use, however, “there are a few sites that may be worthy of further detailed exploration for possible housing and/or mixed use that could be accomplished in the next few years.”

Of the 16 sites that the city is looking for the possibility of rezoning as part of the current Housing Element, “the vast majority of them are privately owned.”

However, they are looking at the NE corner of Richards and Olive Drive behind the Design House site.

“This is proposed for rezoning to high-density mixed use. This will be part of the Housing Element actions that come before the City Council in December,” staff writes.

Other city-owned sites are not part of the current Housing Element proposal, but could be considered for future housing.

Studied for years has been the City Corporation Yard, and “studies have been conducted related to the City’s use of space at various individual locations, but a comprehensive assessment that looked at the functional versus preferred use, conditions, costs, and commonalities among three of the City’s campuses had not been approached.”

Other possibilities include the Fire Station in conjunction with a swap and the Civic Center Fields.

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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1 Comment

  1. Jim Frame

    Other possibilities include the Fire Station in conjunction with a swap and the Civic Center Fields.

    Although I’d hate to lose the open space, Civic Center would be a good place for low-income senior housing, given its proximity to the Senior Center.  (Some of the site should perhaps be reserved for City Hall expansion.)

    There are a lot of youth baseball and adult softball teams that practice there — as well as an occasional youth baseball tournament — so some accommodation ought to be made for a replacement facility.


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