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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Davis City Council approves Cannery Project

On Nov. 19, the Davis City Council voted to approve the Cannery Project and Environmental Impact Report (EIR) attached to the proposal. Outlined in the Nov. 19 meeting agenda as an analysis of various issues such as air quality, land use planning and noise and cultural resources, the EIR is a crucial step in the progression of property development in Davis.

The North Davis development project known as the Cannery is nearing completion of civic prerequisites. Consisting of over 500 housing units, the project will also be host to a large urban farm, mixed-use business land, parks and extensive greenbelts. Goals of the project include setting an example in sustainable building, along with attraction of young families and private sector businesses.

In 2010, the process began with a proposal from The New Home Company (TNHC) to the City of Davis. This set the gears in motion for the development of an empty lot between F Street and Pole Line Road.

Numerous changes have been made to the original plan. Following recent community discussion with The New Home Company, it was decided that instead of adding extra solar, 25 of the single family homes will be built as Zero Net Electricity units.

Covell Corridor Project

Running in parallel with the Cannery is the Covell Corridor Project (CCP). It is a series of plans for increasing bike and pedestrian connectivity and traffic-calming measures for the region of Covell Boulevard between F Street and Pole Line Road. While the Cannery would be making use of the improvements outlined in the CCP, they need to go through separate approval processes.

According to Mike Webb, Sustainability and Community director for the City of Davis, approval of the CCP is due to take place in early 2014. Outreach will be done in December 2013 and January 2014 and the City Council will meet for a vote sometime during February and March 2014.

The entire series of improvements on the Covell Corridor are estimated to cost $15,460,000, with the Cannery Project contributing funds as outlined in the Development Agreement and the Roadway Impact Fees.

Plans for mitigating traffic were outlined at the council meeting by Adrian Engels, project manager at Mark Thomas & Co. Engels predicted that eliminating free right turns on Covell at F Street, J Street, L Street and Pole Line Road would also alter traffic on the eastern region of Covell.

“The second improvement will probably have the most effect on the Corridor…[it] would take the pork chop islands (traffic islands) out and tighten up the curb returns at all of the intersections…” Engels said.

Inclusion of a traffic signal on the L Street and Covell intersection was mentioned as another key component.The current plan for bike connectivity will involve usage of and improvements to the H Street Tunnel previously discussed last week.

Environmental Impacts

During the public hearing at the Nov. 12 City Council meeting, several citizens shared the view that cutting down approximately 350 of 380 trees on the property was excessive. There is currently a Tree Protection Plan mitigation measure, and Valley oak trees that are in fair condition will be retained when feasible. A hedgerow will also be planted on the side of the urban farm with trees that wouldn’t interfere with farm operations.

In accordance with the development agreement reached between the city and THNC, the trees in the region will also be reviewed by third party arborists for three years. This is to continue both during and following buildout.

However, in order to make space for building foundations and infrastructure, many trees will have to be cleared.

Rob Cain, Urban Forest manager for the City of Davis, confirmed this at the city council meeting.

“Unfortunately some trees will have to be removed just because of their location,” Cain said. “We’re still going to be looking at it on a tree-by-tree basis.”

Dr. Glen Holstein, a longtime Davis resident and senior scientist at Zetner and Zetner, a biological consulting firm, shared his thoughts regarding the losses of older trees.

“I’m skeptical when I hear talks about mitigation for destroying…our mature Valley oaks because these are things none of us will see again in our lifetime no matter how many saplings are planted,” Holstein said.

Regarding other aspects of the plan, Holstein was in favor, adding that “…otherwise, it’s a great project. I particularly like the idea of finally getting a traffic light at L Street and Covell. We’ve needed one at that intersection for a long time.

Market Hall

The feasibility of including a 12,000 sq. ft. Market Hall was also debated. Envisioned as an open space for small vendors to market their wares, the hall would draw inspiration from Oakland’s Rockridge Market and Napa’s Oxbow Market. It would also be anchored by two restaurants occupying a 5,000 to 6,000 sq. ft. space at either end.

Several council members expressed skepticism that the restaurants would succeed, and Mayor Krovoza pointed out that similarly-sized downtown restaurants still struggle sometimes, despite their ideal location.

Doug Wheeley, a consultant to the mixed-used portion of the project, elaborated on the virtues of having a market hall in Davis.

“There is nothing quite so fluid as retail. Some things we haven’t seen 10 years ago and others we might not see 10 years from now. Hopefully the buildings themselves have a long life,” Wheeley said. “Market halls are an interesting market tenant…It’s looking at an older community model…more about place-making than shopping center development.”

Next Steps

Following the approval of the EIR and entitlement, the Cannery is no longer merely a discussion and it now enters the implementation stages. With regards to the CCP, there will be several public workshops in the near future to further modify and improve it. Further information about workshops and public hearings can be found at the City of Davis website.


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