Development is about compromise

By From page B4 | December 19, 2013

It was with some concern that I read Sunday’s op-ed piece titled “The Cannery deal is done, but what’s next for Davis?” I would like to comment on the five ideas put forward by the article’s authors.
* “Define community priorities” How does one define community priorities when there is an extreme schism on various City Councils/in the community, on whether a parcel should be an all business park or mostly residential housing, as was the case with The Cannery?
* “State “non-negotiable standards.” What if those various city standards are, in fact, conflicting, which in many cases the various city goals are?
* “Estimate value being created for applicant.” A perfect project that fulfills every city goal/standard almost certainly will be cost-prohibitive (no value to the applicant) and impossible to achieve.
* “Require mitigation of all negative impacts.” What is one man’s negative impact may be another man’s positive effect. And to require mitigation of all perceived negative impacts is likely unachievable or cost-prohibitive.
* “Master-plan future developments.” What master plan? The city hasn’t updated its master plan for years, and does not seem inclined to do so anytime soon.

In an ideal world, these five ideas sound great, but they don’t mesh with reality. What the city lacks is a clear vision of what it wants to be. This is because there are many differing views of what the city should look like in the future — varying perspectives between successive City Councils, among sitting City Council members, and by the community as a whole. But that is as it should be in this multifaceted world.

Development is about compromise. Accommodate as many city standards/goals as practicable, without ruining the integrity of the project and still manage to turn a profit. City planning is by its nature a messy process, and I very much doubt can be analyzed by categories that fit into neat little cubby holes. More importantly, demanding the impossible will create an anti-developer climate, the exact opposite of the city’s stated goal of becoming more business-friendly.

Elaine Roberts Musser

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