Davis residents to decide on fate of project in June
On Feb. 6, Davis City Council discussed the Nishi Student Housing project, a proposed housing plan for 700 apartment units on the field between the I-80 highway and Old Davis Road.
A smaller, broader Nishi project was proposed two years ago but was shot down by voters, losing by a margin of 600 votes. This new Nishi proposal, nicknamed “Nishi 2.0” by the council and news outlets, focuses on providing housing for Davis students in particular, rather than providing for residents and families.
At the meeting, the council came to a unanimous 5-0 decision to place the new proposal onto the June ballot, marking a small victory for Nishi 2.0.
“They listened,” said Don Gibson, the chair of the Graduate Student Association-ASUCD Joint Housing Task Force, at the Feb. 6 meeting. “They listened to what the biggest needs are: housing. Fundamentally, this project is far better for the student community than what was proposed two years ago […] This is exactly what our students need: close to campus, close to downtown, affordable and inclusive units. Hopefully this and Lincoln 40 will set a new standard for housing in Davis.”
Dozens of Davis students and residents attended the meeting, declaring support for the new project and urging the council to place it on the ballot. The student housing crisis Davis has been facing for the last few years has affected students and residents alike, as apartment vacancy levels have dipped alongside an increase in prices.
Developers seem confident that pushing Nishi 2.0 through will not only help combat the housing crisis by offering students affordable, convenient housing, but also offer the city some much-needed economic development and growth.
“With the first project, we lost everything,” said John Whitcombe, the founder of Tandem Properties, the development firm proposing and helming the Nishi Project. “And so now we’ve come back with a new project that is focused — at this point — on student housing. And that’s where we’re at because that’s what we know best, and that includes 700 apartment units — or 2,200 beds — and we have an inclusionary affordable housing program that starts at $400 a month, and other units go to $673 a month for a substantial 15 percent of the project.”
Because the Nishi project lies outside city limits, the council cannot directly approve the project for construction. Davis residents will vote on the proposal in June after City Council’s approval. The project needs a majority vote of 51 percent in order for developers to move forward and begin construction.
Developers and council members are optimistic about the vote and the future of the project. Previous contention against the project involved potential traffic and environmental impacts. Mayor Pro Tempore Brett Lee is confident that these effects will be mitigated by a proposed underpass that would directly connect Nishi 2.0 to campus and that the benefits of the project far outweigh the possible downsides.
“There’s a lot of positives and very few negatives,” Lee said. “I think Nishi 2.0 is just more focused on helping us address the student housing shortage. We don’t have to worry about impact on the Richard-Olive intersection with this project, and it’s all student-oriented in terms of placement, so I’m happy to support 2.0. […] I’m optimistic.”
The final day to register to vote in the June election will be May 21, which is 15 days before the general municipal election on June 5. California residents can register to vote on the California Secretary of State’s website.
Written by: Ahash Francis — email@example.com