The Nishi Gateway Project is a proposed development plan for the agricultural Nishi Site between the I-80 Freeway, Union Pacific Railroad, and across Putah Creek from University Park, adjacent to Rocknasium, University Park Inn and Suites,  If approved by Davis voters, the Nishi Gateway would include business space as well as housing for more than 1,500 residents and 325,000 square feet for research and business facilities. The Nishi Gateway was on the ballot in June 2016 through a Measure J/R vote, as Measure A. It was defeated by a "razor-thin margin."

Conceived by developers during years of negotiation, the Nishi Gateway is a collaborative plan between Yolo County, the City of Davis, UC Davis and the development group. Developers claim It proposes to provide environmentally sustainable housing for Davis students and families close to the UC Davis campus and downtown, but the housing could as easily be occupied by I-80 corridor commuters. Proponents of the project claim it creates innovative Research & Development space, expands cycling and walking paths connected to the UC Arboretum, and  creates buildings that qualify for LEED green certification. Developers also claim the project creates potential economic benefits for the Davis community including Nishi is set to provide a 30-year revenue stream for the Davis Joint Unified School District and will help fund city services. Although it will also generate new students for the district and create new infrastructure that the city will be force to maintain.

Currently, over 300 individuals have publicly endorsed the Nishi Gateway including former mayors Mike Corbett, Maynard Skinner, and Ruth Asmundson, and former City Council members Stephen Souza, Ted Puntillo, Jerry Adler, and Debbie Nichols-Poulos. But many individuals also oppose the project.

The developers have hired an outside PR Firm, Spafford & Lincoln to push the project. Spafford & Lincoln has several paid field operatives attending forums and tabling at the farmers market and are maintaining a social media presence,

Sign in front of the Nishi agricultural land almost visible from the bike path in April 2016.

The agricultural land in April 2016. Nishi agricultural land viewed from Capital Corridor train, May 2016


Because of the difficult location this long narrow triangular parcel sandwiched between Putah Creek, I-80 and the Union Pacific Railroad has long been considered undevelopable.

In 2008, the City of Davis Housing Element Steering Committee recommended that the Nishi Gateway site be developed with high-density residential housing through a cooperative plan for development with UC Davis.

In November 2012, the City Council approved a Pre-Development Cost Funding and Negotiation Agreement for the Nishi Gateway site, with the goal of planning the site as a mix of university-related research park development complemented by high density urban housing.

In 2014, the City was awarded a grant from the Strategic Growth Council (SGC) to assist the City with the planning and design of the Nishi Gateway Project with a focus on sustainability and green development. [citation]

In November 2015, the Davis City Council indicated its intent to move forward the process that would put the proposed Nishi Gateway project on the June 2016 ballot. [citation]

As of February 16th, 2016, the Davis City Council has voted 5-0 for the Nishi Gateway project to be on the June 2016 ballot.

Air Quality Questions

  • Based on scientific studies, UCD atmospheric scientist Dr. Tom Cahill, Ph.D, stated his strong opposition to housing at Nishi due to dangerous health hazards at the site leading to respiratory disease, particularly children and expectant mothers.
  • Due to the site’s location between the highly congested freeway and heavily used railroad tracks,air quality at Nishi would be the most polluted in the region.


  • The project would result in over 10,000 metric tons of unmitigated greenhouse gases annually. 

  • In September 2015, the City of Davis released a Draft Environmental Impact Report noting that the project will exceed CALGREEN Tier 1 standards by 30%, qualifying it for LEED certification. The project will preserve over 50% of the project site as open space for biking, walking, parks, and habitat enhancement. [citation]

  • Power: A small portion of the power used will be generated through the use of solar panels.

  • Livability: Located in near downtown, the Nishi Gateway will be close to the UC Davis campus, downtown Davis and provide easy commuter access to the freeway and railroad.  

  • Environmental: The project would be Gold LEED (although many sought Platinum ND) certified and is a proposed carbon neutral community, due to increased foot and bike traffic. Additionally, it will improve the safeguards on the Putah Creek Greenway. 

  • Housing: The project is set to provide more than 1,500 beds as well as additional for-sale housing units.

  • Agriculture: The project will contain vertical aeroponic farming and research for the improvement of agricultural products.

  • Benchmark: The Nishi Gateway ranked #1 in sustainability goals across the state for similar proposed projects by the Strategic Growth Council

  • Community Amenities: Contains a community garden and easy access to the Arboretum.

  • Green Spaces: 46.9 acres of open space will be reduce to 19 acres of open space, park, and greenbelt  [citation]

    • 3.3 acres of the Putah Creek Parkway  

    • Two parks totaling 11 acres will also act as buffers to absorb pollution from the freeway and railline. 

    • An additional 4 acres of storm water detention adjacent to the southern park

Economic Impacts

  • The project is set to be in an accessible area with close proximity to the UC Davis campus and Downtown Davis and Interstate 80.

  • This project will attract high end young commuters to live in Davis.

  • Nishi developers claim approximately 1,750 jobs will be created by the project.

  • New office spaces will be developed.

  • It will bring an expanded customer base to Downtown businesses, likely increasing their revenue and giving them the opportunity for additional growth and prosperity.

  • BAE Urban Economics has indicated that with every high tech job created in California, there will be four additional job opportunities, including part time service jobs for college and high school students.

  • Should the project be approved, it will provide a potential location for future hotel space. According to EPS’ analysis of the site, the hotel will potentially gain net revenue of $494,000 [citation, citation]

  • The Davis Downtown Business Association, Davis Chamber of Commerce, Yolo County Visitors Bureau, and Jumpstart Davis have identified approval of the Nishi Gateway project as a top priority to strengthen the Downtown and promote economic development for Davis.

  • According to a fiscal analysis by private consultancy Economic Planning Systems Inc. released in September 2015, the Nishi Gateway project could generate almost $1 billion in added revenue for Davis and the Sacramento region. Additionally, the analysis predicts that the project could bring the city $416,000 a year in tax revenue alone. [citation]

City Revenue Impacts

  • A greater number of high end renters will generate increased sales and occupancy taxes to be paid to the city.

  • The revenue from the project will support local pension plans and related Davis monetary promises so that the city does not have to renege or cut them.

  • The City will take on new financial burdsns to maintain infrastructure for the development.


  • In the “triangle” between the Union Pacific Railroad, I-80 Freeway and Putah Creek. 

  • Will be located a few blocks east of the UC Davis campus

  • The area Nishi will be built is behind the Whole Foods Market and the Davis Commons

  • It will connect to Old Davis Road and the Arboretum

  • It is planned to be adjacent to the heart of Downtown

  • Will connect through West Olive Drive, adjacent to Richards Boulevard

  • Currently sitting on the former Nishi Property, which has historicaly been agricultaral land although it has been left fallow since 2010.

Articles and Op-Eds regarding the Nishi project

Note: The older the article, the less likely it is to be accurate as per the current situation



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Just received an unsolicited email from the Nishi group "Davis for Nishi Gateway" at <[email protected]> telling me why I should support their issue. I have no idea how my email address made it onto their mailing list. I find it pretty annoying getting emails like this. If they want to get the support of the community I suggest they avoid spamming the community. --Eric Jensen