Commissioners find the Trackside proposal does not meet Design Guidelines

On December 12 the Historical Resources Management Commission was asked to review the Trackside Center project.  The HRMC exercised their due diligence on behalf of the City and to protect the interests of the City. They were asked to make findings that the proposal was consistent with the Design Guidelines and that the proposal would have no adverse impact on historical resources.  The meeting lasted over 4 hours and the commissioners did not support those recommended findings. In fact, they voted unanimously that the project was inconsistent with the Design Guidelines and to reject the conclusion of the Historic Resource Analysis report that said there would be no significant impact to the historic resources in the neighborhood.”

Below are quotes from the Commissioners regarding the importance and purpose of the design guidelines from that long discussion.

Intent of the Design Guidelines and Conservation District Zoning:

Commissioner Herbert: “What was the intent of the Design Guidelines as published and adopted by the City?”

 (City Staff): “To conserve the traditional character of the conservation district.”

Commissioner Herbert: “What was the intent of the city establishing  these conservation overlay districts in the first place?”

(City Staff), (reading from the city resolution): “They were developed as a result of a cooperative community effort to address community concerns about the manner in which new investment in the City of Davis can enhance rather than erode its valued character. And they also will help conserve the traditional neighborhood character, fabric, and setting by guiding future development.”

Consistency with Guidelines and Historical impacts:

Commissioner Hickman: “There’s a portion of the Guidelines that this does not meet and they are significant.  Mass and Scale is one of the biggest issues with a building that’s being added to a neighborhood.”

Commissioner Herbert: “I thought, OK.  I live on L St.  If I took away the house next door and built this building on the lot two doors down, would I say to myself, ‘It had no  effect.  It had no effect on my house.’  Would I say that?”

Commissioner Miltenberger: “I do fear, continually, death by a thousand cuts and I understand the pressures the city faces, but we say, OK fine – we move the line, we say OK – fine we move the line.  At some point, what are we left with?”

Interests of the City:

Commissioner Miltenberger –as a question directed to City Staff: “One thing that’s a particular concern of mine, and I’ve heard it raised here a couple of times, was the overall CEQA process.  And I think you’ve just said this is one step as part of the process.  So, can we be assured that what we render here today will in no way compromise, or place the City of Davis in a difficult position, vis a vis potential CEQA lawsuits; because that’s a predominant concern of mine.”

Precedent Setting Impact:

Commissioner Herbert: “When we talk about cumulative effects, we have to think about what will happen next and if, for example, the Ace Hardware yard – if the owners decided to develop that property in the same way, with the same setbacks, same height, same staging of various floors, we’d start to be building a wall between downtown and Old East Davis. And it seems to me that this is a precedent setting development.”

Commissioner Rifkin: “Precedent seems to be a thing here.  It doesn’t seem unlikely that all along the railroad tracks you would have this type of development.  That does seem like a logical conclusion.”

Applying the Guidelines Fairly, so as not to favor or disadvantage any property owner:

Commissioner Herbert: “We have projects come to us time and again and we ask that those people – even a contributor to the conservation district, not necessarily a Landmark or merit resource – we ask them to follow the Design Guidelines.  In fact we require it.”

Commissioner Rifkin:  “It fails, what I would call, the Spirit of the Design Guidelines Test.”


The position of the Old East Davis Neighborhood Association has been, and continues to be, that the residents of Old East Davis welcome a redevelopment of the Trackside Center site as long as it conforms to the Design Guidelines.  What we are asking is that the Trackside Partners respect, and the City Council enforce, the existing ordinances, zoning, and Design Guidelines for that site.

2 thoughts on “Commissioners find the Trackside proposal does not meet Design Guidelines

  1. Typical wording by the opposition:
    No specific complaints as to what is in violation and objectionable to the project proposal.
    Merely mentioning that it does not follow ordinances, zoning, and guidelines tells us nothing.


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