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Davis citizens are being asked to approve the Nishi mixed-use project in the General Municipal Election ballot in June. The Nishi project will provide 440 multi-family rental units and 210 stacked flat condos. All residential housing will be 5-6 stories. It will also contain 325,000 sq ft of office/R& D space and 20,000 sq ft of commercial/retail space. Because the project is outside the City limits, however, it requires a voter approval under Measure J/R in order to be annexed into the City.
At first, this project appeared to be a desirable in-fill development with potential to provide affordable housing to students, economic return to the city, and minimum contributions to greenhouse gases due to the project's proposed sustainability features. However, it has now become clear that there are serious deficiencies with this project.
The proposed housing is actually large, expensive units that will be way beyond the means of all but the richest students. An independent analysis projected rent for an average 1,100 square foot 2-bedroom, 2-bath apartment to be over $2400/month.
There is also no dedicated low-income housing at Nishi! According to Davis’ Affordable Housing Ordinance, this project should provide 35% of units priced for low income residents – or 154 of the 440 rental apartments. Alternatively, the developer could dedicate other land or pay in-lieu fees into the City’s Affordable housing Trust Fund totaling $11,550,000. Instead, the City improperly exempted this project from all affordability requirements.
Part of the justification for the exemption was that the housing would be affordable by design - constructed as small units and very energy efficient including receiving solar electricity from a 4.9 mw system installed as part of the project. However, the solar promise is not being met.
The original intent was that 85% of the electricity used on site would be provided to the tenants by the project’s solar system. However, instead the developer now plans to sell the entire solar electrical output for profit to a wholesale buyer. Nishi residents will receive no direct solar or financial benefit from the on-site solar generation.
The City says it will receive up to $9,000,000 in one-time fees from the project but fails to note that these fees actually just off-set costs to the City created by the project itself and will not be repaid for five to ten years, if ever. Meanwhile, the taxpayers will pay millions for most of the local road upgrades.
Even with all the roadway improvements, experts cannot confirm that Nishi-related traffic will not cause gridlock along Richards Blvd. The intersection of Richards Blvd. and Olive Drive leading to the downtown tunnel is already the most congested in town and it will be severely impacted by the Nishi project.
Air quality at Nishi will be the most polluted in the region according to Dr. Tom Cahill of UC Davis. Because the project is sandwiched in a low-lying area between the highly congested freeway and heavily-used railroad tracks, air pollutants will be trapped and render Nishi air unfit for young children and expectant mothers.
The Nishi project will generate substantial developer profits, but provide few significant fiscal benefits to the city nor affordable housing. Instead, it risks traffic gridlock and jeopardizing the health of our most vulnerable residents.
We urge the voters to reject this project and send it back for renegotiation of more favorable terms.
Please Protect Davis' Progressive Values. Vote No on Nishi – No on Measure A”