Entries categorized "Land use"

Uncivil Discourse at the CivEnergy Forum

Yes-On-LThe Yes on L side did not behave well at Sunday’s CivEnergy forum. 

This inappropriate behavior certainly wasn’t CivEnergy’s fault.  They had picked an excellent moderator in the form of attorney and former City Council candidate Linda Deos, who asked fair and neutral fact-finding-oriented questions about the West Davis Active Adult Community (WDAAC) project.  And along the same lines, CivEnergy’s Bob Fung crafted from audience comment cards two more neutrally worded questions.  Actually, all were framed in terms of discussions rather than questions, a touch that I rather liked.  Deos further warned forum participants to keep their answers focused on the project and not make them personal.  Alas, that was not to be.

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WDAAC Does Not Meet Real Housing Needs for Davis

by Alan Pryor and Pam Nieberg

Forward - Davis already has by far the oldest average population in the region and this project will compound that population imbalance. Despite the abundance of young University students, according to 2016 US Census Bureau estimates the percentage of people in Davis under the age of 18 is 16.1% compared to 25.5% in West Sacramento and 26% in Woodland. Looking at younger children, the disparity is even greater with 3.8% of the Davis population under the age of 5 compared to 8.1% in West Sacramento and 6.7% in Woodland.

Clearly, because of the age-restrictions imposed on buyers, this project will do little to directly increase the housing stock for young families. And because of this dearth of kids in town, our schools are so starved for young students that we need to import over 650 students per day just to keep school doors from shuttering and moth-balling our existing neighborhood schools. And we pay dearly for schooling those imported students with the highest school-related parcel taxes in the region. We clearly need more young families with children in town to fill our schools and maintain our vibrancy in Davis yet few families can afford to come to Davis because of sky-rocketing home purchase and rental prices.

What Davis really needs is smaller-scale, more dense, and  affordable housing designed for both seniors AND families of modest means. The last thing we need is a sprawling, senior-only Sun City-lite developments like you see in sunbelt states. A development with smaller homes laid out in a curvilinear fashion with different designs (instead of rows and rows of near-identical box-like houses) would attract far more seniors AND the families preferred if the project were designed with a close-knit neighborhood setting in mind.

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Cumulative impacts of all the developments in Davis

PublichousingBy Dan Cornford

I do not have time to comment extensively right now on Roberta's piece. But I do want to say that I agree 110% with what she says. I am just sick and tired of all the pro-growthers accusing anyone who does not oppose their rampant pro-growth propaganda as being some old white, rich NIMBY, as someone who could not afford to buy his first house until I was 53, despite being a full professor at a CSU, and only then could I buy when I inherited a modest amount of money after my father died.

Roberta is right that no candidate for council had the courage to squarely take on the pro-growthers. I have been saying and writing for two years that the Council, its commissions, and of course the pro-growthers, never stop to consider what the CUMULATIVE IMPACTS of all these developments will be in tandem with the unmandated growth of UCD over the next 5-10 years. What will be the environmental impact on a relatively small city of this growth in all respects (to say nothing of the fiscal impacts and burdens)? The fast expansion of UCD, notwithstanding their LRDP, and their recent MOU with the city, is no cause for comfort. (I mean, to take one example, if UCD does not meet its already inadequate building timetable, they will face a massive fine of $500 per unit. That's really going to force them to meet their timetable isn't it?)

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Growth – The Elephant in the Room

PublichousingNo one in Davis talks about growth.  We talk around growth, sure – the need for specific projects, or the need to preserve farmland.  But we never talk about growth

Consider our most recent City Council election.  Did one of the candidates present themselves as pro-growth or slow-growth?  Not that I can recall.  “Smart-growth,” maybe – an infinitely flexible euphemism if I ever heard one.

I suspect that no one wants to talk about growth because not a moment passes before the conversation-distracting “pro-developer” and “NIMBY” labels (and similar labels) are slung.  But we desperately need to talk about growth.  We’re growing now and we are facing questions about future growth in the immediate future (Measure L and the West Davis Active Adult Community) and beyond.

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Is this really your view on Measure L, Davis Enterprise?

Davis enterpriseIs this really your view on Measure L, Davis Enterprise?  Because I'm having trouble believing the words in front of my eyes. 

Did you really write, "If WDAAC gets built and all the white Davis seniors move into it, then it will give more opportunity for minorities from out of town to move into the single-family houses the seniors vacate"?

In other words, it would be OK if WDAAC were composed completely of white Davis seniors?  And the reason it would be OK is that nonwhite individuals would have the "opportunity" to move into the vacated houses formerly occupied by white individuals – even if the nonwhite individuals didn't have the opportunity to move into WDAAC itself?  Just the bare possibility that "minorities" could move into Davis would be enough to justify an exclusionary program?

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What Are “Internal Housing Needs” in Davis?

“That directive and those words means something!” -- David Taormino on Measure R, 9/19/2018[1]



By Rik Keller

Measure R (the “Citizens’ Right to Vote on Future Use of Open Space and Agricultural Lands Ordinance”) was passed by the voters and adopted by the City of Davis in 2010. Davis Municipal Code Section 41.01.010(a)(1) states that the purpose of the Ordinance is [my emphasis] “...to establish a mechanism for direct citizen participation in land use decisions affecting city policies for compact urban form, agricultural land preservation and an adequate housing supply to meet internal city needs...”

This article will examine what the phrase “adequate housing supply to meet internal city needs” means. First, while the word “need” is used several times, “internal needs” is not further mentioned in the adopted ordinance or in the ballot language that went to the voters (ballot language is purposely streamlined). Is this sui generis language that just appeared out of nowhere? Can it mean that any type of housing is sufficient to meet some sort of undefined “internal need” in Davis and should be allowed to convert agricultural lands? Measure R does state that “continued conversion of agricultural lands to meet urban needs is neither inevitable nor necessary,” so the Ordinance must have some criteria in mind to achieve this goal of not unnecessarily converting ag land, right?

As will be demonstrated in the following, the phrase “internal housing need” as used in City of Davis policy framework, documents, and studies actually refers primarily to low and moderate income workforce housing, and indeed that category is the only one specifically mentioned and for which specific policies have been crafted to meet the need.

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Will There be No Place in Davis for Low Income Seniors

By Bill Powell and David Thompson

“Each day I get five calls from low income seniors looking to find housing in Davis” says Susan at Shasta Point Retirement Community. “And each day at least one senior arrives at Shasta Point anxious to get housing and hoping by turning up they may have a better chance than just calling.” They don’t.

Every day there are five to 10 emails or phone calls from low-income seniors to the two staff members at Eleanor Roosevelt Circle. At ERC about three seniors per day walk through the door hoping to get a place. They can’t.

In 2018, there is a waiting list of 441 seniors for the four largest Davis affordable senior communities; Davisville (70), Shasta Point (67), Eleanor Roosevelt Circle (59) and Walnut Terrace (30). In 2017 there were a total of 14 turnovers. Only 14 of the 441 waiting in line got in. At that rate it would be 31 years before the last of those seniors get housed. The actual wait for an extremely low-income senior can be from three to five years.

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Planned West Davis Adult Community, if Approved, Would Perpetuate Racial Imbalance in the City of Davis

Complaintimage(Press release) The proposed restrictive West Davis Active Adult Community on the City of Davis’ November 6 ballot which advertises its purpose as a planned community “Taking Care of Our Own,” is being challenged in federal court because it will perpetuate racial imbalance and discriminate against minorities by restricting sales to residents of Davis

In a federal complaint filed Monday, September 24, by Sacramento civil rights attorney Mark E. Merin, plaintiff Samuel Ignacio, a Filipino/Hispanic senior on behalf and all other minorities outside of Davis, seeks to stop the project because it excludes those living outside of Davis from buying most of the 410 planned for-sale units.

Davis, a city whose senior population is disproportionately “white” as a result of historic racially restrictive covenants, red-lining practices, and previous University of California hiring practices, approved the project with 90% of its units restricted to “purchasers with a preexisting connection to the City of Davis.” The result of this “local resident” restriction, as alleged in the civil rights complaint, is the continuation of a racially imbalanced community and the exclusion of minority would-be purchasers in violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act.

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The Spirit of the Davis Based Buyer Program for the West Davis Active Adult Community (WDAAC)

By Jason Taormino

The spirit of the Davis Based Buyer program for the West Davis Active adult community is a focus on our community's needs. Nearly six hundred Davis families have joined our interest list for the for sale homes and there are more than four hundred additional individuals on waiting lists for affordable senior apartments. During our lengthy community outreach including more than seventeen city commission and council meetings we were asked for some methodology to ensure that we focused on this home grown demand rather than advertising in the Bay Area.

On dozens of occasions while dropping off or picking up my kids at Cesar Chavez elementary school I was approached by parents who were eager to move their aging parent(s) to Davis. From my perspective there are two clear segments of demand that our proposed neighborhood can serve from a market rate perspective - seniors in Davis who want to downsize and those who want their aging parents to come to Davis. Additionally, the affordable apartments and a memory care facility serve important needs. Without the senior restriction on 80% of the homes it is highly unlikely that seniors in Davis or bringing a parent to Davis would occur as a significant percentage of the total housing.

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Erroneous Assumptions and Hyperbole are Used by the Davis Vanguard to Justify WDAAC's Illegal Affordable Housing Program

By Alan Pryor


In yesterday’s column entitled “My View: Unintended Consequences – Will Anyone Go above the Affordable Housing Requirements Again?, David Greenwald made a number of unsubstantiated and erroneous claims about whether the City’s current affordable housing requirements were met by the West Davis Active Adult Community project.

Mr Greenwald claims these City’s minimum affordable housing requirements were more than met by the developer and chastised opponents of the project for making a number of “misleading” or “inaccurate” statements.

As reported by Mr. Greenwald in yesterday’s column,

What we see at WDAAC is that the developer would have been required to build around 84 units in order to reach the 15 percent threshold.  The developer could have avoided much of this kerfuffle by simply donating 1.25 acres of the land, the minimum required and then pumping additional money just like Sterling did to help them build the housing.

The result is that the developers would have met the minimum 15 percent affordable housing requirements.  They would have had a cash contribution in there to assist with building the project.  And this attack by the opposition would not have occurred.


“Instead of 1.25 acres, they’ve donated around 4.25 – which means by their calculation, they have made about a $2.7 million contribution over and above what they were required to do.

In addition, there will be an additional 66 or so affordable units (there were some differences in what number that was originally required, but we will use 74 for the purpose of this argument).”

The problem with David’s analysis is that it is just blanket statements of numbers presented as facts. There is no quantitative calculations to justify these claims nor references to the Affordable Housing Ordinance or the Development Agreement to substantiate these claims.

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Why it’s a problem that “Yes on L” is refusing to debate the WDAAC project

DebateThree days ago, Alan Pryor revealed on the Davisite that David Taormino was refusing to participate in two public forums on the West Davis Active Adult Community (WDAAC), apparently because he particularly objected to debating Alan.  But maybe some Davisites don’t see why this is a problem.  After all, are developers obligated to participate in a public forum?

Yes, they are.  And they shouldn’t be able to select who their debating opponents are.

To see why, let’s compare a public forum for the Davis City Council with a public forum for Measure L. 

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Why Won’t David Taormino Participate in Forums or Debates on Measure L – What is He Afraid of or Hiding?

AfraidEmojiBy Alan Pryor

There is a long history of community forums and debates in Davis on important ballot measures that were hosted by various community groups. Indeed, every major ballot measure for the past 10 years has seen at least two or more such forums or public debates occur leading up to election day.

I myself have participated in a number of these debates on behalf of the City including two supporting passage of Measure D (the Parks Tax Renewal in 2012), six supporting passage of Measure I (the Water Project in 2013), and two supporting passage of Measure O (the Sales Tax Measure in 2014). I also represented the No on Nishi 1.0 campaign in 2016 in five forums or debates.

The campaign committee “No on Measure L – No on West Davis Active Adult Community” has offered to participate in any and all such public forums and debates on Measure L during this election cycle and we were rearranging our work and vacation schedules to make sure we were available to attend such events.

We thought we had a minimum of 2 forum/debates scheduled and were actively working to arrange to participate in others until late last week. Then we were informed that the two planned events sponsored by CivEnergy and Rancho Yolo were abruptly cancelled and simultaneously the phone lines went dead with prospective sponsors of other potential forums/debates.

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Deceptive map for the West Davis Active Adult Community (WDAAC) Project

CourtesymapAny complex project will have its pros and cons, so voters need accurate information in order to be able to properly assess them.  The “courtesy map” included in an article about the project in today’s Davis Enterprise, presumably provided by WDAAC project proponents, works against this purpose.  It is extremely misleading.

Looking at the map provided, you’d think it would be just a short hop from the WDAAC to the Marketplace shopping center, where there is a supermarket, a drug store, restaurants, and other useful businesses.  Of course, this would be desirable if it were true.  But it isn’t true.

The Google satellite map shows the real story.  Highway 113, just a thin line on the courtesy map, is a wide freeway, together with on-ramps and off-ramps (not shown on the courtesy map at all) on either side.  Pedestrians will have to cross the distance of the highway and the on- and off- ramps. 

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WDAAC Is a Sprawling Urban Planning Disaster

Westdavisby Alan Pryor and Pam Nieberg

Forward -

The Davis City Council has approved a sprawling senior housing development project located in West Davis along Covell. Voters will have a chance to approve or reject the project in this year’s November election. The project is called West Davis Active Adult Community (WDAAC).

On Tuesday, 8/28, an article by the author was published in the Davisite that discussed the massive reductions in Development Fees given away by the City to the Developer.

On Thursday, 8/30 another article was published that discussed the erroneous financial assumptions used by the City to project a positive annual financial benefit to the City. That article also discussed how the Development Agreement and Baseline Features for the project are so vague so as to make them functionally  unenforceable

This current article focuses on the gross deficiencies in general land use and planning for the project and how it fails to meet objective City guidelines for senior housing nor regional sustainable urban planning standards.

1. The Far Edge of Town is Exactly the Wrong Location for a Senior Development and This Project has Exceedingly Poor Connectivity for Seniors.

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West Davis Active Adult Community (Wdaac) Includes Massive Developer Give-Aways, Part 2

WestdavisMay Actually Cost the City Money on an Annual Basis, and The Development Agreement Is Non-Binding and Weak

by Alan Pryor and Nancy Price

Part 2

Forward: The Davis City Council has approved a sprawling senior housing development project located in West Davis along Covell. Voters will have a chance to approve or reject the project in this year’s November election. The project is called West Davis Active Adult Community (WDAAC).

On Tuesday, 8/28, Part 1 of this article was published in the Davisite, which discussed the massive reductions in Development Fees given away by the City to the Developer. This is Part 2 of the article.


  1. The City Projects a Positive Annual Return to City Coffers as a Result of Build-Out of this Project. However, this Estimate is Based on Accounting Methods that Assume Unsubstantiated Reduced Costs on a Per Resident Basis for Providing Basic City Services such as Public Safety and Transportation.

The City’s Finance and Budget Commission analyzed the potential financial impacts to the City and made a number of projections about the project’s financial viability with respect to income or loss to the City. Their report to the City Council on February 12, 2018 can be found at www.cityofdavis.org/home/showdocument?id=9199:

The conclusions reached by 4 of the Commissioners (with two dissenting votes) made the following observations (with emphasis added):

  1. At the time of this analysis, the commission did not have available to it a development agreement with the city for the project. Therefore, any conclusions we have reached should be considered preliminary and subject to change….
  2. We recommend that the commission, or if necessary an FBC subcommittee, be provided a timely opportunity to review and comment on the fiscal provisions of the proposed development agreement before its presentation to City Council for approval.

Surprisingly, the Finance and Budget Commission never did again review the Development Agreement before it went to Council.  But nevertheless, City Staff assumed when otherwise calculating the project’s positive return to City coffers that the City’s average cost for providing services to the residents of WDAAC were only going to be 75% of the City's otherwise calculated average costs. Staff made this assumption without any quantitative explanation as to how they derived that 75% figure.

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West Davis Active Adult Community (Wdaac) Includes Massive Developer Give-Aways

May Actually Cost the City Money on an Annual Basis, and The Development Agreement Is Non-Binding and Weak

by Alan Pryor and Pam Nieberg

Part 1. The City has Granted the Developer Massive Giveaways and Subsidies by, among other things, Reducing Project Impact Fees by over $3.4 Million Compared to Fees Normally Charged to New Developments.

The Davis City Council has approved a sprawling senior housing development project located in West Davis along Covell. Voters will have a chance to approve or reject the project in this year's November ballot. The project is called the West Davis Active Adult Community (WDAAC).

The City Council has agreed to development-related fees in the Development Agreement for this project that, in all but the market rate non-age restricted housing units, are generally from 25% - 60% less than the current mandated fees normally required of other development proposals. This has resulted in essentially a give-away to the project proponent of approximately $3.4 million in fees which is a discount of more than 40% compared to fees that would otherwise normally be charged to a developer for a project with this number and size of units as shown in Appendix A.

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Response to Davis Enterprise Article, UCD LRDP Goes to Regents

WestvillageBy Greg Rowe

The recent Davis Enterprise article about UCD’s 2018 Long Range Development Plan going to the Regents for approval on July 18 warrants rebuttal. UCD proclaims the LRDP builds on the success of the 2003 plan “…and charts ambitious sustainability and housing options…”  But this statement ignores that the 2003 LRDP expected that 36% of total enrollment of 30,000 students would live on campus by 2015-16, but in reality UCD missed the mark by 1400 beds, with only 29% of the 3-quarter average of 32,663 students that year living on campus (most in freshman dorms which they had to vacate for sophomore year).   

In addition, a Board of Regents student housing report issued in November 2002 expected UCD would house 38% of its students by 2012 (with a goal of 40% living on campus) but by 2015-16 only 29% lived on campus, translating to a shortfall exceeding 1800 beds. While UCD’s new housing goals seem ambitious, it obscures the fact that UCD has consistently surpassed enrollment projections while under-producing the housing needed meet the needs of its expanded enrollment.  The previous Chancellor’s overly ambitious “2020 Initiative,” which aimed to boost enrollment by 5,000 more students than required by the Regents, significantly exacerbated the student housing shortage.

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Nugget... or Fool's Gold? (4699 Alhambra Drive, Office/R&D)

In the development process in Davis, is there an elephant in the room (or the City Council chambers)? Source: https://www.santoro-london.com/en/products/Fruity-Scooty-Notebook-Elephant

The following letter was submitted by Todd Edelman to the Planning Commission for its meeting tonight, July 11, at 7 PM.


Dear Planning Commissioners,

First of all I would like to say that I consider it very unfortunate that the Downtown Plan Advisory Committee (DPAC) meeting is scheduled at the same time as the Planning Commission (PC) meeting. Tomorrow's Bicycling, Transportation and Street Safety (BTSSC) meeting has been cancelled, but - again - it was planned as simultaneous to that night's DPAC meeting.


Second - just so you know - the BTSSC is not apparently seeing this project. I am not clear why this is the case. Aside from their individual unique perspectives and goals, there is a welcome overlap in the scope of what the BTSSC and PC look at in regards to mobility. It seems that this will be missing from this evaluation. I write here on my own behalf.


JUMP down the page for my suggested SOLUTIONS



Nugget is by most accounts a great company that treats its employees well and offers great service and products (though so far the seeded watermelon on sale this year needs some help...). But the mobility profile for their retail locations bears no relation to our City's goals in our Council-approved Beyond Platinum bicycle plan from 2014: While the goal for bicycle trips for shopping is 30% by 2020, my multiple non-scientific visual surveys over the past 18 months at Nugget on E. Covell show a share between 2 and 4% at best. Even if a large, automobile-oriented market is informally considered to only be responsible for a 15% goal, this location only fulfills a fraction of it (and, by the way this 15% would need to be balanced by other destinations shooting for 45%!).

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Has the City Council already made up its mind concerning the proposed Mace Ranch business park?

Coming-soon-screenshotWill the new City Council listen to its commissions and its citizens?

This morning, I learned of a new proposed Mace Ranch business park from a Facebook post from Councilmember Lucas Frerichs, a post that tagged the soon-to-be other four members of the Davis City Council (among other people).  The proposal seems reasonable to me on its face in terms of its size, purpose, and location, although I reserve judgement until I have heard more about it.  What shocked me, however, was Councilmember Frerichs’s proclamation that the project was “Coming soon!!” with “approval expected,” as captured in the screenshot at the beginning of this post.

I find this shocking because the proposal hasn’t even gone to the Planning Commission yet (as Councilmember Frerichs notes), nor has the City Council had an opportunity to hear from citizens. Will any concerns be raised that make the City Council think twice about the proposal?  It would seem that Councilmember Frerichs, at least, does not think so. 

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Election post-mortem

YoloCountyBallotHaving taken a day off to reflect, here are some of my thoughts about the election just completed.

First and foremost, let me assure everyone that the Davisite will continue! Some have speculated that this blog was created just to promote Nishi. That was never the case and time will show that to be true. If there have been a lot of articles about Nishi, that was because many of our current authors (myself included) were very engaged in that issue. The Davisite was always intended to be a blog by and for Davisites, which means that our content will always reflect our authors.

So, now is a good time to reissue a call for authors: send us your thoughts, be they political or not, artistic or not, funny or not. You can be a regular author, or send us something from time to time, or maybe just once – long or short, it doesn't matter. (But remember that on the Internet, most people don't want to read things that are very long!). The sidebar contains our contact info and comment policy, the latter of which serves as guidelines for authors as well.

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