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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Yolo County General Plan Proposes Three Massive Developments on Davis Periphery

Late Friday afternoon, the staff report for the Yolo County General Plan was released (click here to read the full report). This report contained three specific proposals for special study areas that recommended large developments on Davis' city "edge." These proposals are likely to alarm many residents in Davis as well as the city of Davis. They will be discussed by the County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, July 17, 2007.

(click on image to enlarge map)

While officially labeled as "special study areas," in reality both the description and the map appear remarkably like the other development proposals in the plan. Additionally, Davis is the only city where the county has proposed "special study areas."

The first of these study areas is the Northwest Quadrant at Oeste Ranch. This area is to the west of Sutter-Davis Hospital and north of Covell Blvd. The recommendation is for "revenue generating opportunities and special needs housing (e.g. seniors)." The property totals roughly 650 acres and would encompass roughly 2000 units. It would connect the Binning Tract with the rest of Davis.

The second of these study areas is what they are terming the I-80 "Innovation Corridor." This is a 1520 acre development that extends from the city limits, east of Mace Boulevard to the Yolo Bypass levee. They are looking at this for both research and biotech uses as well as commercial development.

The third special study area would be the "Covell Village" property that is north of Covell Blvd, east of F Street and west of Poleline. This would include roughly 383 acres of new commercial and mixed uses. The existing general plan designation is industrial and it is the largest available piece of industrially designated property within the county.

Each of these properties are subject to quite a bit of controversy. The Northwest Quadrant has been discussed in the Davis General Plan Housing Element Update as well. At a recent joint meeting between the Senior Citizens Commission and the Social Services Commission, the view was expressed by a number of commissioners that Davis really is not in need of any more senior housing and that this project would simply import seniors into the community where the county would have to provide a large amount in social services.

The county is arguing that this development would be a revenue generator, but it is not clear how they have figured upon that, and in fact, recall that the original staff report recommended against development on this property because it had questionable revenue potential.

This was the initial recommendation from county staff:
"On the residential side, staff is recommending against the addition of 2,100 residences within the unincorporated area near the northwest quadrant of Davis, as these units are not likely to have fiscal benefits for the county that would justify the growth given concerns regarding inconsistency with long-standing growth policies, provision of infrastructure and services, and effects on the city/county pass-through agreement."
So how did this become part of staff recommendations for study areas? And what role did Davis' supervisors play in this? Why is the county now looking to go away from long-standing growth policies and possibly violate the pass-through agreement which would endanger $2 million per year and possibly as much as $72 million over the course of the life of the Davis Redevelopment Agency.

The Covell Village property is also problematic in that Davis voters less than two years ago overwhelmingly rejected development there by a 60-40 margin. Now the county is proposing development there? By what authority?

Finally, the massive development along I-80 is just the tip of the iceberg. The county also plans to take up the Tskaopoulos proposal that includes not only a stem cell research facility but also roughly 7500 housing units. There was a good article on that proposal in this week's Sacramento News and Review.

The article makes reference to this blog:
Yamada, who is chairwoman of the county board, already has emerged as the target of criticism on a community Web site, with accusations that she has moved from being a “slow-growther” to a politician more accommodating to development. While passionately defending her commitment to preserving Yolo County’s farmland and open space as top priority, Yamada is running for the state Assembly seat being vacated next year by Lois Wolk. Campaign professionals suggest she will have to raise at least $500,000 to be competitive with primary opponent Christopher Cabaldon, the mayor of West Sacramento. But, Yamada firmly asserts, “I don’t practice checkbook politics.”
Discussion on this issue figures to be intense, with much concern in Davis about the massive scope of these three projects and concern as to what the county means by "special study area." As one Supervisor suggested, the proposals for special study areas in Davis do not look different from the development proposals in the rest of the county. Davis residents should be very concerned about these proposals as a means to impose growth on the periphery of Davis.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting