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Davis, California

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Development of Nishi project able to continue after appeal against project withdrawn

With appeal withdrawn, case concludes 

In a press release published on April 2 by the City of Davis, it was announced “that the appeal of the Yolo Superior Court decision regarding the Nishi project has been withdrawn” and the case is now “concluded.”

The Nishi 2.0 project is an apartment complex project aimed at students located on a 47-acre site between UC Davis and Interstate 80. It consists of 700 units, with a total of 2,200 beds. 

The project was originally approved by the Davis City Council in February of 2018. Following this, it was approved by 11,638 individuals in a Measure J vote in June of 2018, or 60.6% of the total voters. 

In March of 2018, the Davis Coalition for Sensible Planning filed a lawsuit, according to an article from The Davis Enterprise, saying that while approving the Nishi 2.0 project, the Davis City Council had not followed the California Environmental Quality Act, among other zoning and planning laws, as well as Davis’ “affordable housing ordinance.”

“This group filed repeated lawsuits and appeals to try to block the Nishi project,” said Davis Councilmember Dan Carson, according to the news statement. “It’s worth noting that they lost every single legal claim they made that came before the courts even after dropping some of their dubious claims before they could even be tested.”

Before the Nishi 2.0 project was able to be voted on by voters in 2018, a previous version of the project was passed by voters in 2016. It was known as the Nishi 1.0 project, according to The Davis Enterprise. 

The initial proposal for the project had fewer beds available than the Nishi 2.0 project, specifically 1,920. It also had 325,000 square feet of office space for research and development and would “require changes to the west end of Olive Drive to provide access to cars driving to and from the Nishi property,” according to an article from The Sacramento Bee. 

“The city prepared an Environmental Impact Report for the original Nishi project in 2015 — one upheld by the court in that lawsuit — and prepared an addendum to the [Environmental Impact Report (EIR)] for the new project two years later, contending the original EIR adequately assessed the impacts of the revised project,” according to The Davis Enterprise article. 

The Environmental Checklist Addendum, which is available on the City of Davis’ website, includes an introduction and description of the project, as well as an “environmental checklist for supplemental environmental review” and further descriptions on the factors present in the environmental checklist. 

The addendum to the original EIR contains an analysis and description of the impact that changing the circulation of traffic and land uses would have. For instance, the EIR mentions that office space for research and development would be eliminated in the second stage of the project, alongside removing condominium units that were meant to be on-sale, increasing the numbers that are available to rent and “revisions to the circulation network.”

The addendum also analyzes the impact the project would have on various environmental factors, such as water and agriculture. 

“No new circumstances or project changes have occurred nor has any new information been found requiring new analysis or verification,” the addendum read. “Therefore, the conclusions of the Nishi Gateway EIR remain relevant and valid, and approval of the project would not result in new or substantially more severe significant impacts to agriculture and forestry resources.”

Ultimately, the withdrawal of the appeal to the development of the Nishi project will allow the project to be carried out.

 “After 11,638 voters approved Measure J and the Nishi project, the appellants then defied the will of the voters and filed a motion specifically asking that the Measure J/R vote of the public be set aside,” Carson said, according to the press release. “I am glad to see the decision of the voters will be finally carried out so that we can take another major step forward to provide critically needed housing for our students and our community.”

Written by: Shraddha Jhingan — city@theaggie.org

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