Residents of Old North Davis are appalled at the proposal by STEAC to build a massive storage shed at the corner of Fifth and D streets, which will be before the City Council on Tuesday. This will be blight at first sight on a very prominent corner in a corridor soon to receive a makeover costing well over $1 million.
The original proposal was for a 24-by-100-foot plywood-sided portable building, since scaled back to 80 feet long. At either size, this unadorned shed will become an instant eyesore in a traditional neighborhood where we have worked for years to protect and enhance the history our older structures represent.
Roughly 10 years ago, dozens of residents worked for months to craft the Davis Downtown and Traditional Neighborhood Design Guidelines, which apply to this city-owned piece of land. This proposed structure violates both the broad intent and many specific requirements of those guidelines, which were prepared under the lead of the Community Development Department.
Now that same city staff has embraced this project and dismissed the design guidelines with a simple sleight-of-hand phrase. “Although likely to be used long term, the modular building will be considered a temporary building.” Voila! Done. STEAC does not have to play by the rules.
No resident or property owner would be permitted to construct anything like this proposed monstrosity. New development under these design guidelines must be crafted to be sensitive to surrounding properties, which this project is not.
With all that said, by giving this project an exception, city staff has placed the residents of the surrounding area in a very awkward situation. Many residents of Old North Davis have supported STEAC with our personal time, or donations of money or goods. But we are bewildered that a good organization so dedicated to community service would attempt to do something so damaging to the surrounding neighborhood.
We urge the City Council to send this project back to STEAC with supportive comments about altering the design or location.
President, Old North Davis Neighborhood Association