The Davis Innovation and Sustainability Campus (DISC) is projected to be a national pioneer in renewable energy. Bold environmental leadership is the basis for DISC, with plans in place for advanced water recycling, electric vehicle integration, and the use of 100% clean energy. While Yes on Measure B assures that DISC will strive to implement these features, the opposition has made claims of environmental malpractice. For one, there have been claims of poor land-use and planning. DISC is far from being rushed, as many changes have been made since it was first introduced in 2014. Moreover, claims of the use of foraging habitat of endangered species, have no evidence, whatsoever. However, the Davis Innovation and Sustainability Campus has regulations set in place to address these concerns.
Critics of Measure B claim that DISC will annex 200 plus acres of farmland, but this claim is false, as the project will instead take up 180 acres of land, not including a 150 foot wide agricultural buffer that would be implemented along the perimeter of the project site. In addition, DISC will preserve 342 acres of nearby agricultural land and devote 49.8 acres of the site towards parks, green, and public space. Furthermore, the DISC project takes into account concerns of climate change and proposes to plant a minimum of 1,800 trees for carbon sequestration and the reduction of heat island effects. To effectively carry out this promise, DISC will consult with Tree Davis to decide the best location and species of the plants. Furthermore, these trees will be maintained by an arborist to ensure maximum potential and health of the trees.
Other critics claim that DISC developments may be harmful to wildlife living in the area. There have been several biological surveys of the site, and all of them have confirmed that no owls inhabit the project site itself. There is also a condition built into the EIR mitigation measures stating that for the project to proceed, they will have to conduct further surveys and must halt construction if owls are found on the project site until they relocate or can be relocated safely and humanely. The project applicants are committing to the construction of three new artificial burrows within the ag buffer at a place to be determined by a qualified biologist. Artificial burrows were constructed across the street at the site of the new Residence Inn hotel, by the same developer, and are now inhabited, demonstrating their effectiveness. This was done in consultation with the Burrowing Owl Preservation Society and was a successful effort to preserve and expand habitat and nesting sites for burrowing owls. Additionally, the project will comply with the provisions of the Yolo Habitat Conservation Program. The project will install informational signage within the pedestrian paths of the ag buffer area to promote awareness and education about local flora and fauna (including burrowing owls) for residents and pedestrians of all ages who visit the site.
To further address claims of environmental malpractice, excessive traffic and greenhouse gas emissions are strong oppositions. Claims of more than 24,000 daily car trips onto Mace Blvd. are understandable. However, it is important to know that this project provides $77.5 million in impact fees to correct and improve Mace Blvd; this project will provide crucial funding to correct those problems and improve Mace Blvd for the better. There will also be an additional $250,000 annually for transit, roadway repairs, and bicycle/pedestrian safety. Concerns over the 83 million pounds of additional greenhouse gases projected to be produced by DISC are also valid. As the nation faces a devastating fight against climate change, DISC has the potential to become the most environmentally friendly campus of its kind in the nation. The Davis Innovation & Sustainability Campus will implement an electric shuttle service running weekdays from the AM to PM peaks, connecting the DISC to UC Davis campus and the Amtrak station. This will inevitably upgrade the public transit system; electric transportation will help mitigate greenhouse emissions while also further implementing green technology to the City of Davis.
If passed, DISC would be the first sustainable project to implement 100% clean energy, which is a bold legacy that Davis would set. As the global effects of climate change progressively worsen, DISC’s calculated incorporation of sustainable practice is needed now more than ever. Davis has a reputation for environmental leadership, so it only seems fit that a project estimated to be the most environmentally friendly innovation campus in the country would reside in Davis.