Commentary: Council Goes Forward with Examining Housing on the Lewis Property

The Lewis Property, Cannery Park, has been a tricky issue for the city and also for progressives to deal with. There are actually three different mindsets for what and how to develop that property, with progressives at times split between two of them.

The issue has come up for consideration and also has been tabled because the Council wanted to consider it jointly due to its proximity to Covell Village. Some on the side of developers, those on the side of the council majority would like to see the Lewis Property considered in conjunction with Covell Village.

On the other hand, progressives are opposed to any development in the near future on the Covell Village site but differ on what to do on the Lewis Property.

Mayor Sue Greenwald has long advocated for this property, which is currently zoned as high tech and light industrial to remain so. She argues that Davis needs to develop its own industry and business to avoid becoming just another bedroom town. She says we have enough housing but would like to see new high tech companies that can hire people directly out of college to stay in Davis and get work in the high tech field.

Councilmember Lamar Heystek said that the current proposal from the Lewis property owners is not one he would vote on. However, he believes that proposal will change in the future. His key focus was to avoid allowing the Lewis Property to be tied to Covell Village.

Councilmember Heystek argued that any such discussion of developing Lewis and Covell jointly flies in the face of the citizens’ will that was expressed in the Measure X election in November 2005. The voters of Davis voted strongly against the wholesale loss of peripheral agricultural land. A city staff-promoted concept plan that envisions the joint development of the Lewis and Covell sites would most probably trigger a Measure J vote, reopening a discussion that we just had less than two years ago. This is not what Davis needs.

While I sympathesize with the arguments that Mayor Sue Greenwald makes here, as I have studied the issue, I have become firmly in the camp of Councilmember Lamar Heystek.

First of all, developing the Lewis Property does not require any sort of Measure J vote. And I think even in properties that are not controversial, a Measure J vote will be time consuming and costly. As such we need to look into developing areas first that do not require a Measure J vote.

Second, Davis is in need of housing. The question is where is the best place to put it. While I am not opposed to densification, I often think that densification results in loss of character of core areas of the town. If it is not done well, densification could make our problems worse rather than better. Therefore, I wish to look for housing sites first where we do not need to build four and five story buildings in the core of town, altering the site and landscape inalterably.

Third, unlike a lot of properties that are under consideration, Lewis Property is already paved and it is just sitting there. There is no agriculture there. We are not talking about paving over prime agricultural land.

Fourth and finally, while I like the idea in concept of a high tech zone in Davis, I do not see it as viable at this point in time and furthermore I am less than sure I would want it where Lewis property is. I think a better area for high tech development would be along Second Street out along I-80.

Last the night the agenda item to explore residential development on the Lewis Property was passed with a 4-1 vote, Mayor Sue Greenwald the only dissenting vote. Councilmember Heystek was able to limit the community feedback about the Lewis Property to that specific site rather than any sort of joint study with the Covell Property. This will hopefully go a long way towards an avoidance of developing these parcels jointly.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting with help from Simon Efrein

Author

  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Categories:

Land Use/Open Space

140 comments

  1. Housing on the Hunts Cannery property is an awful idea. It is sandwiched between the train tracks and agricultural land with Covell Blvd. the only access. It will be a nightmare trying to get out of there on a bike or on foot.

    It is perfect for what it was zoned for – industrial. We are losing an economic development opportunity here and with housing on it, it is set up to continue the housing over onto Covell Village land. It will only make sense to complete the greenbelt around the city and not leave Lewis homes isolated up there. We can all ignore the pink elephant in the room and not talk about it, but the elephant is still there.

    This is a really stupid.

  2. Housing on the Hunts Cannery property is an awful idea. It is sandwiched between the train tracks and agricultural land with Covell Blvd. the only access. It will be a nightmare trying to get out of there on a bike or on foot.

    It is perfect for what it was zoned for – industrial. We are losing an economic development opportunity here and with housing on it, it is set up to continue the housing over onto Covell Village land. It will only make sense to complete the greenbelt around the city and not leave Lewis homes isolated up there. We can all ignore the pink elephant in the room and not talk about it, but the elephant is still there.

    This is a really stupid.

  3. Housing on the Hunts Cannery property is an awful idea. It is sandwiched between the train tracks and agricultural land with Covell Blvd. the only access. It will be a nightmare trying to get out of there on a bike or on foot.

    It is perfect for what it was zoned for – industrial. We are losing an economic development opportunity here and with housing on it, it is set up to continue the housing over onto Covell Village land. It will only make sense to complete the greenbelt around the city and not leave Lewis homes isolated up there. We can all ignore the pink elephant in the room and not talk about it, but the elephant is still there.

    This is a really stupid.

  4. Housing on the Hunts Cannery property is an awful idea. It is sandwiched between the train tracks and agricultural land with Covell Blvd. the only access. It will be a nightmare trying to get out of there on a bike or on foot.

    It is perfect for what it was zoned for – industrial. We are losing an economic development opportunity here and with housing on it, it is set up to continue the housing over onto Covell Village land. It will only make sense to complete the greenbelt around the city and not leave Lewis homes isolated up there. We can all ignore the pink elephant in the room and not talk about it, but the elephant is still there.

    This is a really stupid.

  5. I suggest that those who did not view Mayor Greenwald’s position last evening take a look at the videostreaming of the Council meeting when it comes on-line in a day or two. Her arguments were the most well-thought- out and the most convincing. One of her economic points needs emphasizing.. We are seeing a significant falling of the dollar value compared to foreign currencies(dollar is at an all-time low compared to the Euro). This makes foreign high-tech investment in Davis much more economically attractive than in the past and this site is the last large piece(most desired by potential high-tech operations)in Davis. Mayor Greenwald’s position did not preclude some residential development on this site in conjunction with the bulk of the site going to high-tech with its significant revenue-generating value to the city.

    While your are streaming this discussion,Take a long look at the Council Ag Mitigation discussion that occured later in the evening as well. Councilman Saylor’s attempt use to disguise his desire to gut its provisions in bureaucratic rhetoric
    was evident to those who listened carefully.

  6. I suggest that those who did not view Mayor Greenwald’s position last evening take a look at the videostreaming of the Council meeting when it comes on-line in a day or two. Her arguments were the most well-thought- out and the most convincing. One of her economic points needs emphasizing.. We are seeing a significant falling of the dollar value compared to foreign currencies(dollar is at an all-time low compared to the Euro). This makes foreign high-tech investment in Davis much more economically attractive than in the past and this site is the last large piece(most desired by potential high-tech operations)in Davis. Mayor Greenwald’s position did not preclude some residential development on this site in conjunction with the bulk of the site going to high-tech with its significant revenue-generating value to the city.

    While your are streaming this discussion,Take a long look at the Council Ag Mitigation discussion that occured later in the evening as well. Councilman Saylor’s attempt use to disguise his desire to gut its provisions in bureaucratic rhetoric
    was evident to those who listened carefully.

  7. I suggest that those who did not view Mayor Greenwald’s position last evening take a look at the videostreaming of the Council meeting when it comes on-line in a day or two. Her arguments were the most well-thought- out and the most convincing. One of her economic points needs emphasizing.. We are seeing a significant falling of the dollar value compared to foreign currencies(dollar is at an all-time low compared to the Euro). This makes foreign high-tech investment in Davis much more economically attractive than in the past and this site is the last large piece(most desired by potential high-tech operations)in Davis. Mayor Greenwald’s position did not preclude some residential development on this site in conjunction with the bulk of the site going to high-tech with its significant revenue-generating value to the city.

    While your are streaming this discussion,Take a long look at the Council Ag Mitigation discussion that occured later in the evening as well. Councilman Saylor’s attempt use to disguise his desire to gut its provisions in bureaucratic rhetoric
    was evident to those who listened carefully.

  8. I suggest that those who did not view Mayor Greenwald’s position last evening take a look at the videostreaming of the Council meeting when it comes on-line in a day or two. Her arguments were the most well-thought- out and the most convincing. One of her economic points needs emphasizing.. We are seeing a significant falling of the dollar value compared to foreign currencies(dollar is at an all-time low compared to the Euro). This makes foreign high-tech investment in Davis much more economically attractive than in the past and this site is the last large piece(most desired by potential high-tech operations)in Davis. Mayor Greenwald’s position did not preclude some residential development on this site in conjunction with the bulk of the site going to high-tech with its significant revenue-generating value to the city.

    While your are streaming this discussion,Take a long look at the Council Ag Mitigation discussion that occured later in the evening as well. Councilman Saylor’s attempt use to disguise his desire to gut its provisions in bureaucratic rhetoric
    was evident to those who listened carefully.

  9. DPD – thank you for writing for a balanced and reasoned blog on this subject. It is the first balanced piece that I have seen regarding potential development.

    I haven’t lived in DAvis long enough to know why this site hasn’t been used as an industrial site, but the fact that it has been as long as it has suggests that for whatever reason, it isn’t interesting to anyone as an industrial property. Further, it may well be that industry needs to see that adequate housing can and will be made available if they bring new jobs to Davis.

    I’m glad that the City will deliberate further on this site as an residential complex. There will be opportunities to modify the development proposal as staff studies the proposal.

  10. DPD – thank you for writing for a balanced and reasoned blog on this subject. It is the first balanced piece that I have seen regarding potential development.

    I haven’t lived in DAvis long enough to know why this site hasn’t been used as an industrial site, but the fact that it has been as long as it has suggests that for whatever reason, it isn’t interesting to anyone as an industrial property. Further, it may well be that industry needs to see that adequate housing can and will be made available if they bring new jobs to Davis.

    I’m glad that the City will deliberate further on this site as an residential complex. There will be opportunities to modify the development proposal as staff studies the proposal.

  11. DPD – thank you for writing for a balanced and reasoned blog on this subject. It is the first balanced piece that I have seen regarding potential development.

    I haven’t lived in DAvis long enough to know why this site hasn’t been used as an industrial site, but the fact that it has been as long as it has suggests that for whatever reason, it isn’t interesting to anyone as an industrial property. Further, it may well be that industry needs to see that adequate housing can and will be made available if they bring new jobs to Davis.

    I’m glad that the City will deliberate further on this site as an residential complex. There will be opportunities to modify the development proposal as staff studies the proposal.

  12. DPD – thank you for writing for a balanced and reasoned blog on this subject. It is the first balanced piece that I have seen regarding potential development.

    I haven’t lived in DAvis long enough to know why this site hasn’t been used as an industrial site, but the fact that it has been as long as it has suggests that for whatever reason, it isn’t interesting to anyone as an industrial property. Further, it may well be that industry needs to see that adequate housing can and will be made available if they bring new jobs to Davis.

    I’m glad that the City will deliberate further on this site as an residential complex. There will be opportunities to modify the development proposal as staff studies the proposal.

  13. NY Times-Wednesday, Oct. 24

    Home Sales Slump at 8-Year Low
    By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM

    It was the steepest monthly decline since the National Association of Realtors began measuring combined sales of condominiums and single-family homes in 1999.

  14. NY Times-Wednesday, Oct. 24

    Home Sales Slump at 8-Year Low
    By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM

    It was the steepest monthly decline since the National Association of Realtors began measuring combined sales of condominiums and single-family homes in 1999.

  15. NY Times-Wednesday, Oct. 24

    Home Sales Slump at 8-Year Low
    By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM

    It was the steepest monthly decline since the National Association of Realtors began measuring combined sales of condominiums and single-family homes in 1999.