In early May, Target filed a formal land use plan with the city of Davis, California, seeking to build a 137,000 s.f store and four additional retail/restaurants totaling approximately 46,000 s.f. The city expects the review process to take up to a year, and involved the preparation of a full Environmental Impact Report under the California Environmental Quality Review Act (CEQRA). The project itself is not currently contemplated in the city’s General Plan, and so required an amendment to the General Plan. The city’s staff conducted a fiscal analysis of the proposed Target, which showed that the so-called Second Street Crossing project would have a net positive fiscal impact estimated to be $675,000 in 2008. The single major contributor to this result is the sales tax projected to be generated by this project. The analysis assumed that the project will generate some of its taxable sales at the expense of existing retail sales within the City. For the analysis the model assumed that 75% of sales will be net new. “Although the City of Davis’ retail market is relatively small, there is significant retail sales leakage and very little vacancy,” the report found. “The City is presently under-served by general merchandise retailers, and there is not enough retail space to satisfy demand. As a result, the analysis concludes that the proposed project would result in a ‘less-than-significant’ impact, and would therefore not cause urban decay in the City of Davis.” The study says roughly 80% of the annual revenues from the project would stem from Sales Tax, with roughly 6% coming from Property Taxes, and the remaining 15% from a variety of sources. The leakage analysis suggests that presently, out of every retail dollar spent by city residents in the categories provided by the project, 25% is spent locally and 75% is “lost” to retailers in other communities. The study said city expenditures to support the Target came to $155,872 for 2008. “This is only a representation of what the proportionate share of costs assigned to the project would be,” the report admits.”It is solely based on a per-capita charge considering current funding levels.” The city study says that, “It is not expected that any significant additional costs will be incurred by City departments providing services to this project.” But the report did not look at “several issues that are outside the scope of the fiscal analysis presented herein. Examples include: a) the impact of the project on housing values in the neighborhoods surrounding the project area, b) the impact of the project on individual existing business, c) the impact of additional retail development on prices for commodities expected to be provided by stores proposed in the project (ie. increased competition), and d) the impact of the project on jobs, either in terms of net new job creation, or the quality (pay and benefits) of jobs anticipated to be provided.” Many residents in Davis are upset by the plan. Several City commissions are also against this proposal. The Open Space Commission voted 7-0 not to certify the Environmental Impact Report; The Finance and Budget Commission voted 8-0 against the proposal; and the Planning Commission voted 4-1 against the proposal. The City’s Finance & Budget Commission voted unanimously on May 10 that “the proposed project would NOT generate significant net fiscal benefits to the City.” Sprawl-Busters received the following report from the frontlines in Davis: “Our city council/developer/Target tried to ramrod a huge Target 220 feet from the back door of the closest house and behind our housing development. Public outcry and tying the council in knots resulted in the issue being placed on the November ballot. Despite several misleading and deceptive surveys (paid for by Target); newspaper support; recent city council elections where the candidates did not come out in support for the Target store until after the election; all polls and meetings indicate 10 to 1 against big box/Target. Target hired a then-sitting member of the Davis Planning Commission as neighborhood outreach coordinator; the present council majority is pro-development. We just had our first strategy meeting this past Tuesday: Mace Ranch Development Committee and notargetindavis.org. We also have an EPA SuperFund site behind this development. Target has rammed their stores down the throats of hundreds of communities across the country, they are very experienced and have very deep pockets.”
According to the No Target In Davis website, this proposed development follows neither the letter nor the spirit of the Davis General Plan, is of dubious economic benefit to the City, and is inappropriately located. The Davis City Council was scheduled to vote on this proposal on June 13, one week after the City Council elections, but before any newly-elected Councilmembers were officially voting members. “This attempt by the current Council to jam home such a major development a week after a new Council is elected is politics at its worst. If you care at all about having a 137,000 square foot big-box store in your neighborhood, you need to make your opinion heard now, before it’s too late.” On June 14th, after over 6 1/2 hours of discussion and public input on June 13 (and the wee hours of June 14), the Council… did nothing! On June 20th, after 4 1/2 hours of very contentious public testimony and debate, the City Council Certified the Environmental Impact Report on a 4-1 vote. In a consolidated ordinance, the Council: approved the amendments to the Davis General Plan and East Davis Specific Plan; approved the zoning change for the parcels; and approved the development agreement, all on a 4-1 vote; directed staff to prepare the ordinance for a binding vote by the public on November 7 on a unanimous vote. So Target will succeed or fail based on the November 7th vote. Anyone wishing to send an email to the City council opposed to the store can go to: http://www.notargetindavis.org/letter.html. But opponents must now organize a voter campaign, and overcome the huge spending Target and its developer will make to convince Davis voters to rewrite their General Plan to make this over-sized development happen.