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10 Reasons to Vote No on DISC 

 

Massive Traffic Gridlock

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The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) estimated that more than 24,000 additional in-and-out daily car trips will occur for the DISC project when completed. This will turn Mace Blvd. into a traffic nightmare causing hours of gridlock every day. It will make the hours-long delays of the “Mace Mess” look like a Sunday stroll in the park.

 

If this project were to be approved by voters, forget about quickly getting from South Davis, El Macero, or the Willowbank or Willowcreek neighborhoods up to Harper Jr. High to pick up your kids after school. Morning and afternoon commutes from the Cannery, Mace Ranch, Alhambra Lake, or Slide Hill Park neighborhoods to I-80 could take an hour or more because Mace Blvd. and all arterial streets feeding into it will be functionally turned into parking lots. According to the EIR, Mace Blvd. and local streets will experience "Significant and Unavoidable" traffic impacts. No one has time to waste being stuck in this kind of traffic!

 

To top this off, the City and Developer have no firm plans on how they will mitigate for this massive influx of traffic. Instead, the Developer is only required to develop a future Transportation Demand Management Plan before each phase of the project. However, this does not commit the Developer to actually fund any of the mitigation measures or any of the recommended improvements.  Furthermore, many of the proposed traffic mitigations in the future will certainly depend on outside agencies like Yolo County or CalTrans over which the Developer has no control. But “figuring it all later” is not a plan.

 

Our confidence in the City's promises to select and require effective future mitigations is also shaken by the recent track record of the City in creating, but not resolving the “Mace Mess” and the huge construction issues associated with the Covell off-grade crossing from the Cannery.

 

Sadly, the Developer also refused to tie the phasing of DISC to measurable reductions in traffic as proposed by the Natural Resources Commission. The Developer claimed they were not "feasible", but then refused to disclose why they believed so.  Davis should not let traffic from DISC immeasurably change the City for the worse.

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Unmitigated Environmental Disaster

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According to the project Environmental Impact Report (EIR), "Because net emissions in the year 2035 would equal 37,724.31 MTCO2e/year, the project would not meet the City’s target of net carbon neutrality by the year 2040." DISC alone will increase the City of Davis' carbon footprint by about 8% or the equivalent of over 83 million pounds of CO2 per year!  

 

Over 78% of those emissions are produced by the additional 24,000 cars per day that will result from the project. Directly resulting from this debilitating traffic, these greenhouse gas emissions will destroy our City's recent Resolution of Council Declaring a Climate Emergency mandate of carbon neutrality by 2040.

 

Although the Developer promises DISC will be carbon neutral, they can achieve this by purchasing cheap offsite carbon credits that do nothing to reduce the City's real carbon footprint. It is unfair to burden our children and grandchildren with this legacy of harmful greenhouse gases for the sake of Developer profits. It's time to plan for a community and world that our children and grandchildren can actually live in!

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Improper Sale of City-Owned Open Space Land for Developer Profits

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Unbelievably, still on the table is the Developer’s proposal to use 7 of the 25 acres of city-owned Open Space land, called "Mace 25", to meet their legally required 150 ft wide agricultural buffer. This illogical proposal uses up part of Mace 25’s farmland to buffer the rest of Mace 25’s farmland. Arguably, the Developer should be providing the agricultural buffer on their own land.

 

According to the City, whether DISC will be allowed to use part of the City’s Mace 25 for its required ag buffer will be decided at a future meeting – after the project has been voted on. But use of the Mace 25 parcel is shown on all of the project's maps, including the one in the ballot measure itself.  Eliminating the use of Mace 25 would require a significant redesign of the site and no such redesign has been presented.

 

No Developer should be allowed to use open space land purchased with our hard-earned Measure O - Open Space tax dollars. That would be a direct transfer of wealth from us to DISC. Our open-space land is supposed to be held "in perpetuity".  This is a breach of the public’s trust.

 

Even more concerning is the fact the City has already intentionally driven off all of the resident Burrowing Owls to prepare Mace 25 for "urban development". The City's Wildlife Resource Manager actively kept the grass long around two active Burrowing Owl nests this past spring because he "believes that the City should be doing what it can to prevent the owls from using the site". Well, the plan worked and the owls are gone (or dead), leaving the land free and clear for the Developer. This is a shameful lack of stewardship by the City and leaves only a single nesting Burrowing Owl pair remaining in the entire City of Davis.

 

 Financial Projections are
Questionable or Misleading

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The City and the Developer tout the expected economic benefits of DISC, claiming it will generate over $5.3 million in net annual economic benefits to the City. But this is based on hopelessly optimistic and unrealistic assumptions compared to the same analysis done by the same financial consultant for the same business park just 5 years ago!

 

For instance, it's now assumed that office and retail space at the project would be valued at $333/square foot in current dollars. Just five years ago, the same consultant valued that space at only $225/square foot. Current average regional property valuations are only $200/square foot. This supposed increase in projected property tax revenues from the project has no basis in fact.

 

The consultant also refused to estimate the impact of the COVID pandemic on the project valuations as requested by the City's Finance and Budget Commission. Instead, their only response was that such an analysis would be "completely speculative". But given the complete collapse of retail sales and office building occupancy rates due to the permanent shift to on-line purchasing and remote telecommuting, such analysis is critical to gain a fair understanding of the financial benefits, if any, to the City.

 

The Developer and the City justify these unrealistic valuations because they claim businesses will flock to the DISC project in Davis in order to be next to the University. However, they are conveniently forgetting that a new competing business park, only 6 miles away in Woodland, has already been approved and will commence construction in 2021. This Woodland Research and Technology Park is also touting their proximity to UCD as a main selling point. Also, there are large new competing commercial properties being developed in West Sacramento.  In fact, Davis has already seen major employers in the City (Bayer-Agriquest and FMC-Shilling Robotics) either move or announce moves to lower cost locations in West Sacramento over the past 5 years.

 

It is more than telling that DISC has not identified even one tenant that is interested in locating to their Davis business park. To add insult to injury, because DISC involves annexing land from the county into the city, any revenues from the project must be shared with the county and do not belong solely to Davis.  Furthermore, many of the projected monies from DISC are one-time fees and taxes that are not sustained future sources of revenue.

 

A fair analysis and accounting of these financial uncertainties and irregularities reveals that the project may actually end up costing the City money. It appears that the financial consultant "put their thumb on the scale" for the City and the Developer to make this project seem far more lucrative to the City than it actually is.

DISC will Cannibalize Existing Businesses in Davis that are Already Hurting

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Our downtown, local retail and office market, and our hotel occupancy are already reeling from the COVID pandemic. Even before Covid-19, significant vacancies existed like at the former Whole Foods complex. DISC proposes adding another 100,000 sq. ft. of retail and restaurants, over a million sq. ft. of office space, and another 150,000 sq. ft. of hotel/meeting space. This will compete with existing retail, office and hotel space in Davis perpetuating existing vacancies and creating a commercial void and blight.

 

When the Finance and Budget Commission formally asked the City’s highly paid financial consultant to quantitatively estimate the impacts that DISC would have on our fragile businesses, they said it was too "speculative" and refused to do the analysis.  What are they trying to hide? 

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Critical Farmland, Habitat, and our Last Views of the Sierra and Sacramento Skyline will be Lost

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DISC will pave over 200 acres of designated Prime Farmland and habitat usable by sensitive species like the Burrowing Owl and Swainson’s Hawk. Land like this is dwindling in supply and is more critical now than ever. DISC will also destroy the last remaining City views of the Sierra Nevada mountains and the Sacramento City skyline. Instead, our view will be blocked by 6-7 story buildings.  When is enough, enough and when is it time to seriously embrace Davis’ general plan goal of in-fill as a viable alternative to sprawl?

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A Yes Vote Gives Developer Lucrative Entitlements with Almost No Guaranteed 
Baseline Features in Many Critical Areas

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The Developer’s position is, "Don't worry! Once the land is zoned we will be back to work out all of the details to everyone's satisfaction and the Council will carefully review the building proposals. Trust me." Because DISC has very few guaranteed baseline features in many critical areas, we really have no idea what DISC will be.

 

  • Are effective traffic mitigations guaranteed? - The Developer rejected all traffic mitigation measure proposed by the Natural Resources Commission.

  • Will there be enough Parks? - The Developer is proposing substantially fewer acres than requested by the Parks and Recreation Commission.

  • Will there be a promised softball field? - There are NO guarantees of one by the Developer.

  • Will there be enough trees? - The Developer is proposing less than half the number recommended by the City's advisory Tree Commission (1,800 trees offered vs 4,000 trees requested).

 

The DISC Developer already pulled one bait and switch because they initially assured the Davis City Council that the on-site housing would be reserved primarily for business park employees. Indeed, onsite housing occupied by DISC workers was determined to be the preferred environmental alternative and was part of the basis for certification of the original Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the project. But then the Developer removed the requirement for onsite employee housing and the City did nothing.  Now we are left with the traffic and greenhouse gas pollution and a project that is no longer the environmentally superior alternative. 

 

Given the City's recent history with the disastrous BrightNIght solar lease agreement and the broken promises from the West Davis Active Adult Community and Cannery developers, it is hard to trust that the City will ensure the Developer fulfills their obligations to the community. Just as in the past, we'll get all of the impacts and the Developer will get all the profits.

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The Project Will Exacerbate the Housing Shortage in the Davis Area

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The DISC project will generate far more jobs than can be accommodated with housing in Davis even with the 850 units of on-site housing. In fact, DISC will make the housing situation in Davis much worse by bringing 6,000 new jobs to Davis without sufficient housing to accommodate the workers. This will unquestionably lead to a huge commute problem and more pressure for housing sprawl in Davis. Also, according to the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG), commuters to Davis generate about 50% more average Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) than commuters to other regional areas. This will increase the project's already substantial adverse environmental impacts.

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The Demand for Sprawling Business Offices is Plummeting

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If the business park finds enough tenants, the negative impacts will be significant.  But will it fill up? COVID has turned DISC and their main offering of more than a million sq. ft of office space into a land-use dinosaur before it even gets to the ballot.

 

This is because future need for office space is plummeting due to the tsunami of new remote work-at-home employees. Google just announced that all of its employees will work remotely through July 2021 and Facebook reports that at least 50% of its employees will work remotely in the future. Further, Nationwide Insurance recently announced plans to close 24 of its 28 office complexes throughout the US to save billions in rent as they are finding employees increase productivity when working remotely.

 

This inexorable and unstoppable trend will cause a glut in existing office space, causing office rents to plummet while simultaneously precipitously lowering commercial property valuations. This means that DISC’s property valuations and associated tax revenues to the City will fall off a fiscal cliff completely negating the whole reason to move forward on the project. It also means that the City could be left with the blight of empty buildings and unfinished construction.

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The Scale of the DISC Business Park is Way Too Large for a Small College Town Like Davis

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This massive speculative business park (2.6 Million sq. ft of total commercial space) is way out of scale for Davis. To get a sense of its size, consider that it is twice the size of the recent Cannery projectThere is no other development nearly this large in Davis. The only reason the DISC project is so huge is to satisfy the Developer's greed for profits and the City's appetite for more construction and property tax revenue.

 

The City also never adequately addressed the alternative of a dispersed business park model that would take advantage of unused and underutilized parcels in town and would have far fewer environmental impacts.

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2736 Brentwood Pl

Davis CA 95618

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NO ON MEASURE B - NO ON DAVIS INNOVATION AND SUSTAINABILITY CAMPUS - CA FPPC No. 1427813