I am disturbed by the city planning staff’s approval of the manufactured building proposed for the corner of Fifth and D streets. The building is to serve as clothing and food storage as well as bathrooms for STEAC, the Short-Term Emergency Aid Committee, which helps homeless and other distressed people.
I have great compassion for the mission of STEAC. I understand the difficulty nonprofit organizations have raising funds to provide their necessary facilities. I am an architect and designer of the largest homeless shelter in Alameda County — Crossroads Homeless Shelter, in East Oakland, completed in 2006.
One of the most important design elements of Crossroads was respect for the surrounding neighborhood. In order to ensure that the neighbors were respected, we held neighborhood meetings to listen to their concerns and adjusted the design accordingly. We worked hard to find funding for the use of high-quality materials and did everything we could to ensure that the building was in harmony with its surroundings by designing thoughtfully. The resulting project had a positive effect on the community.
Unfortunately, STEAC has done none of these things. The building as proposed is badly sited on the lot. It uses the cheapest, lowest-quality materials possible. It has a very negative impact on its next-door neighbor. It disregards completely the design guidelines required by the zoning code. It will be an eyesore and will degrade not just its neighborhood but the entire city, as it will be prominent and visible from one of the most traveled streets in Davis.
Because of this, the Old North Davis Neighborhood Association appealed the planning staff’s approval, and the project will be reconsidered Tuesday evening by the City Council. I strongly encourage STEAC to reconsider its plan for this project and come up with an alternative that will give back to the neighborhood.