Carrots and Sticks in Development Can be Transposed

It was last summer that Yolo County received an offer from developer Angelo Tsakopoulos in exchange for him being allowed to develop a huge swath of land west of the causeway, he would use some of that money to produce a stem cell research facility. However, the idea of the stem cell research facility, the size, the location, and the proximity to a flood plain weighed heavily against such a proposal. As did the fact that the proposed site was on the periphery of Davis and the Davis City Council had not been involved in any of the discussions.

Eventually this site was eliminated more or less as a viable option for the County General Plan update.

Now we get a similar story from El Dorado. Here the housing development was not the problem, however there were other concerns.

From yesterday’s Sacramento Bee:

“A developer’s willingness to purchase water services in advance of home construction will help the El Dorado Irrigation District weather the downturn in the housing market.

The district board Monday approved an agreement with AKT Carson Creek Investors LLC that calls for the firm to pay nearly $4.34 million in facility capacity charges for water, wastewater and recycled water service in 2008 as an advance deposit on the fees that will be levied when the residential units are built. The company owns the Carson Creek properties in the El Dorado Hills area.

District counsel Tom Cumpston said the pact is similar to contracts the district entered into in the past through assessment districts and other advance funding agreements.

“The issue is an overarching one,” Cumpston said of the impetus for the agreement. “The volatility of the regional housing market has a significant effect on the district’s budgeting.”

Without the advance payment, he said, the district would have difficulty providing the debt service coverage for its bond program in 2008. To meet the bond obligation requirements, the district’s total revenues must exceed operating expenditures, including debt payments, by 125 percent.”

The story illustrates two things. First, that Tsakopoulos is willing to do a tremendous amount in exchange for the ability to develop housing developments, even in the midst of a construction slow down that is dissuading and encumbering many. A stem cell research facility would be a nice thing to bring to Yolo County, but not at this cost. Certainly not at the cost of having to allow Tsakopoulos to sink his teeth into our local community. But by the same measure, he does get it in a way some of our local leadership do not.

For there is a second lesson for all involved here and that has to do with development agreements themselves. Imagine in the next development that Davis considers, if the developer has to pay some of the huge costs that the city would ordinarily have to eat. For example, the amount of cost in services for West Village is prohibitive. UC Davis will lose money on it regardless. The City of Davis if they annex it, loses somewhat less money. But imagine if one of the conditions upon which the developer is entitled to develop the property is that they have to find a way to mitigate some of the costs for the city?

In short, the real question is are we asking developers to do enough in the city of Davis when we approve their plans?

I am not advocating more development here. Nor am I suggesting that developers need to take a loss on their project.

What I am suggesting is that we ask our developers to do more than we presently do. If they want to develop land adjacent to Davis, and we think these are good projects for the future, maybe, just maybe, we should ask for things in return, so that these developments do not negatively impact the city as much as they presently do.

Just some food for thought.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

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

88 comments

  1. This story illustrates an even more important lesson. When a City Council
    does not keep a tight rein on its expenditure budget, it becomes HOSTAGE to developers who can bail them out when economic times take a downward turn.

  2. This story illustrates an even more important lesson. When a City Council
    does not keep a tight rein on its expenditure budget, it becomes HOSTAGE to developers who can bail them out when economic times take a downward turn.

  3. This story illustrates an even more important lesson. When a City Council
    does not keep a tight rein on its expenditure budget, it becomes HOSTAGE to developers who can bail them out when economic times take a downward turn.

  4. This story illustrates an even more important lesson. When a City Council
    does not keep a tight rein on its expenditure budget, it becomes HOSTAGE to developers who can bail them out when economic times take a downward turn.

  5. Also reminds me of the Oakshade apts that were built (on the “Ross” property) rented for only a few years and now have been closed since end of summer, remodeling into condos which the developer was quoted as saying would go for $500-600K. Their parking lot encroaches onto the Merryhill School property (apparently ok since both were owned by the developer)…….now what?

  6. Also reminds me of the Oakshade apts that were built (on the “Ross” property) rented for only a few years and now have been closed since end of summer, remodeling into condos which the developer was quoted as saying would go for $500-600K. Their parking lot encroaches onto the Merryhill School property (apparently ok since both were owned by the developer)…….now what?

  7. Also reminds me of the Oakshade apts that were built (on the “Ross” property) rented for only a few years and now have been closed since end of summer, remodeling into condos which the developer was quoted as saying would go for $500-600K. Their parking lot encroaches onto the Merryhill School property (apparently ok since both were owned by the developer)…….now what?

  8. Also reminds me of the Oakshade apts that were built (on the “Ross” property) rented for only a few years and now have been closed since end of summer, remodeling into condos which the developer was quoted as saying would go for $500-600K. Their parking lot encroaches onto the Merryhill School property (apparently ok since both were owned by the developer)…….now what?

  9. That’s a good point Davisite. Developers can give cities inducements that they can develop property in exchange for helping the city out of a tight financial situation.

    The problem with Davis appears to be the opposite–we give away the farm times without assurances of traffic mitigations, water, and other services. How can the city allow a Covell Village without requiring them to fix the intersection of Covell and Poleline?

    Or how can the city have a contract with a vendor without insuring that they follow through on the work–ie Covell which they had to redo because it was not properly graded, the Solar Panels at Community Park, the Computers and Cameras in Police Cars, etc.

  10. That’s a good point Davisite. Developers can give cities inducements that they can develop property in exchange for helping the city out of a tight financial situation.

    The problem with Davis appears to be the opposite–we give away the farm times without assurances of traffic mitigations, water, and other services. How can the city allow a Covell Village without requiring them to fix the intersection of Covell and Poleline?

    Or how can the city have a contract with a vendor without insuring that they follow through on the work–ie Covell which they had to redo because it was not properly graded, the Solar Panels at Community Park, the Computers and Cameras in Police Cars, etc.

  11. That’s a good point Davisite. Developers can give cities inducements that they can develop property in exchange for helping the city out of a tight financial situation.

    The problem with Davis appears to be the opposite–we give away the farm times without assurances of traffic mitigations, water, and other services. How can the city allow a Covell Village without requiring them to fix the intersection of Covell and Poleline?

    Or how can the city have a contract with a vendor without insuring that they follow through on the work–ie Covell which they had to redo because it was not properly graded, the Solar Panels at Community Park, the Computers and Cameras in Police Cars, etc.

  12. That’s a good point Davisite. Developers can give cities inducements that they can develop property in exchange for helping the city out of a tight financial situation.

    The problem with Davis appears to be the opposite–we give away the farm times without assurances of traffic mitigations, water, and other services. How can the city allow a Covell Village without requiring them to fix the intersection of Covell and Poleline?

    Or how can the city have a contract with a vendor without insuring that they follow through on the work–ie Covell which they had to redo because it was not properly graded, the Solar Panels at Community Park, the Computers and Cameras in Police Cars, etc.

  13. An issue that is never mentioned is the problem of Council having no independent staff and therefore having to rely almost solely on city staff data and recommendations for their decision-making. City staff has a potential conflict of interest when it comes to developer pressures as it relates to staff (read career title/status, salary and benefits and job security).

  14. An issue that is never mentioned is the problem of Council having no independent staff and therefore having to rely almost solely on city staff data and recommendations for their decision-making. City staff has a potential conflict of interest when it comes to developer pressures as it relates to staff (read career title/status, salary and benefits and job security).

  15. An issue that is never mentioned is the problem of Council having no independent staff and therefore having to rely almost solely on city staff data and recommendations for their decision-making. City staff has a potential conflict of interest when it comes to developer pressures as it relates to staff (read career title/status, salary and benefits and job security).

  16. An issue that is never mentioned is the problem of Council having no independent staff and therefore having to rely almost solely on city staff data and recommendations for their decision-making. City staff has a potential conflict of interest when it comes to developer pressures as it relates to staff (read career title/status, salary and benefits and job security).

  17. Why can’t Davis figure out some other way besides high-end residential development to build a tax base? Manufacturing, or R & D, perhaps? Warehousing. On the old Cannery site? The railroad infrastructure is already there, has been since like 1868.
    Use some imagination, City Council!

  18. Why can’t Davis figure out some other way besides high-end residential development to build a tax base? Manufacturing, or R & D, perhaps? Warehousing. On the old Cannery site? The railroad infrastructure is already there, has been since like 1868.
    Use some imagination, City Council!

  19. Why can’t Davis figure out some other way besides high-end residential development to build a tax base? Manufacturing, or R & D, perhaps? Warehousing. On the old Cannery site? The railroad infrastructure is already there, has been since like 1868.
    Use some imagination, City Council!

  20. Why can’t Davis figure out some other way besides high-end residential development to build a tax base? Manufacturing, or R & D, perhaps? Warehousing. On the old Cannery site? The railroad infrastructure is already there, has been since like 1868.
    Use some imagination, City Council!

  21. Asking the developers for more up front is a good idea; however, it does come with its own challenges. Lets take a look at a real-life example from the long-running Housing Element Steering Committee (HESC) which has convened twenty (20) two to three hour public sessions since 2/8/2007.

    The minutes of the HESC meeting on 10/11 include the following under Public Comment, “The public had concerns regarding the consideration of sites in the northwest quadrant of the
    City. Some of the property owners of H4, H5, and H6 sites discussed planning the sites
    together in order to maximize the size of ag mitigation land to the north and west of the three
    sites. Representatives of H6 also discussed water flow in the northwest quadrant, and how
    cooperative planning could assist in rerouting water.
    Others from the community implored
    the committee to stop expanding the City’s borders in order to reduce the carbon footprint,
    and maintain compact internal development. Speakers stated that these sites have a distance
    too great from downtown, and one speaker voiced concern that there might be a shortage in
    water supply with so many additional residents with development of the sites.”

    The minutes of that meeting also include the following, “Will Marshall, Assistant City Engineer gave a brief overview of the drainage and floodplain
    issues in Davis.”

    As noted in bold above the representatives of site H6 came to the meeting with concrete evidence that they were 1) willing to help the City significantly reduce the flood risk in the western portions of the City now, 2) provide a permanent half-mile agricultural mitigation buffer to the west and north of Davis on the west side of Route 113, and 3) defer any residential construction until after 2013 if not until after 2020.

    Bottom-line #1, the representatives of H6 were willing to make substantial and meaningful, contributions the quality of life in Davis now in exchange for the knowledge that sometime after 2013 they will be able to help the City of Davis meet the existing (at that time) housing demand by building new residential units. If I understand what they have said correctly, then if there is no identifiable demand after 2013 they will simply delay any new units until such demand is identifiable.

    Bottom-line #2, Davis as a community and davis as a govenmental entity wil not be able to realize the benefits inherent in Bottom-line #1 if we don’t think on a longer-term basis and come up with a Master Plan for how we can deal with issues like flooding and permanent agricultural borders around Davis and urban limits.

  22. Asking the developers for more up front is a good idea; however, it does come with its own challenges. Lets take a look at a real-life example from the long-running Housing Element Steering Committee (HESC) which has convened twenty (20) two to three hour public sessions since 2/8/2007.

    The minutes of the HESC meeting on 10/11 include the following under Public Comment, “The public had concerns regarding the consideration of sites in the northwest quadrant of the
    City. Some of the property owners of H4, H5, and H6 sites discussed planning the sites
    together in order to maximize the size of ag mitigation land to the north and west of the three
    sites. Representatives of H6 also discussed water flow in the northwest quadrant, and how
    cooperative planning could assist in rerouting water.
    Others from the community implored
    the committee to stop expanding the City’s borders in order to reduce the carbon footprint,
    and maintain compact internal development. Speakers stated that these sites have a distance
    too great from downtown, and one speaker voiced concern that there might be a shortage in
    water supply with so many additional residents with development of the sites.”

    The minutes of that meeting also include the following, “Will Marshall, Assistant City Engineer gave a brief overview of the drainage and floodplain
    issues in Davis.”

    As noted in bold above the representatives of site H6 came to the meeting with concrete evidence that they were 1) willing to help the City significantly reduce the flood risk in the western portions of the City now, 2) provide a permanent half-mile agricultural mitigation buffer to the west and north of Davis on the west side of Route 113, and 3) defer any residential construction until after 2013 if not until after 2020.

    Bottom-line #1, the representatives of H6 were willing to make substantial and meaningful, contributions the quality of life in Davis now in exchange for the knowledge that sometime after 2013 they will be able to help the City of Davis meet the existing (at that time) housing demand by building new residential units. If I understand what they have said correctly, then if there is no identifiable demand after 2013 they will simply delay any new units until such demand is identifiable.

    Bottom-line #2, Davis as a community and davis as a govenmental entity wil not be able to realize the benefits inherent in Bottom-line #1 if we don’t think on a longer-term basis and come up with a Master Plan for how we can deal with issues like flooding and permanent agricultural borders around Davis and urban limits.

  23. Asking the developers for more up front is a good idea; however, it does come with its own challenges. Lets take a look at a real-life example from the long-running Housing Element Steering Committee (HESC) which has convened twenty (20) two to three hour public sessions since 2/8/2007.

    The minutes of the HESC meeting on 10/11 include the following under Public Comment, “The public had concerns regarding the consideration of sites in the northwest quadrant of the
    City. Some of the property owners of H4, H5, and H6 sites discussed planning the sites
    together in order to maximize the size of ag mitigation land to the north and west of the three
    sites. Representatives of H6 also discussed water flow in the northwest quadrant, and how
    cooperative planning could assist in rerouting water.
    Others from the community implored
    the committee to stop expanding the City’s borders in order to reduce the carbon footprint,
    and maintain compact internal development. Speakers stated that these sites have a distance
    too great from downtown, and one speaker voiced concern that there might be a shortage in
    water supply with so many additional residents with development of the sites.”

    The minutes of that meeting also include the following, “Will Marshall, Assistant City Engineer gave a brief overview of the drainage and floodplain
    issues in Davis.”

    As noted in bold above the representatives of site H6 came to the meeting with concrete evidence that they were 1) willing to help the City significantly reduce the flood risk in the western portions of the City now, 2) provide a permanent half-mile agricultural mitigation buffer to the west and north of Davis on the west side of Route 113, and 3) defer any residential construction until after 2013 if not until after 2020.

    Bottom-line #1, the representatives of H6 were willing to make substantial and meaningful, contributions the quality of life in Davis now in exchange for the knowledge that sometime after 2013 they will be able to help the City of Davis meet the existing (at that time) housing demand by building new residential units. If I understand what they have said correctly, then if there is no identifiable demand after 2013 they will simply delay any new units until such demand is identifiable.

    Bottom-line #2, Davis as a community and davis as a govenmental entity wil not be able to realize the benefits inherent in Bottom-line #1 if we don’t think on a longer-term basis and come up with a Master Plan for how we can deal with issues like flooding and permanent agricultural borders around Davis and urban limits.

  24. Asking the developers for more up front is a good idea; however, it does come with its own challenges. Lets take a look at a real-life example from the long-running Housing Element Steering Committee (HESC) which has convened twenty (20) two to three hour public sessions since 2/8/2007.

    The minutes of the HESC meeting on 10/11 include the following under Public Comment, “The public had concerns regarding the consideration of sites in the northwest quadrant of the
    City. Some of the property owners of H4, H5, and H6 sites discussed planning the sites
    together in order to maximize the size of ag mitigation land to the north and west of the three
    sites. Representatives of H6 also discussed water flow in the northwest quadrant, and how
    cooperative planning could assist in rerouting water.
    Others from the community implored
    the committee to stop expanding the City’s borders in order to reduce the carbon footprint,
    and maintain compact internal development. Speakers stated that these sites have a distance
    too great from downtown, and one speaker voiced concern that there might be a shortage in
    water supply with so many additional residents with development of the sites.”

    The minutes of that meeting also include the following, “Will Marshall, Assistant City Engineer gave a brief overview of the drainage and floodplain
    issues in Davis.”

    As noted in bold above the representatives of site H6 came to the meeting with concrete evidence that they were 1) willing to help the City significantly reduce the flood risk in the western portions of the City now, 2) provide a permanent half-mile agricultural mitigation buffer to the west and north of Davis on the west side of Route 113, and 3) defer any residential construction until after 2013 if not until after 2020.

    Bottom-line #1, the representatives of H6 were willing to make substantial and meaningful, contributions the quality of life in Davis now in exchange for the knowledge that sometime after 2013 they will be able to help the City of Davis meet the existing (at that time) housing demand by building new residential units. If I understand what they have said correctly, then if there is no identifiable demand after 2013 they will simply delay any new units until such demand is identifiable.

    Bottom-line #2, Davis as a community and davis as a govenmental entity wil not be able to realize the benefits inherent in Bottom-line #1 if we don’t think on a longer-term basis and come up with a Master Plan for how we can deal with issues like flooding and permanent agricultural borders around Davis and urban limits.

  25. That is interesting, but I am not sure exactly what you are suggesting that we do. I don’t consider the NW a viable area for development in the next 30 to 40 years, let alone the next 6 to 13 years.