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Send the West Davis Active Adult Community Plan Back to the Drawing Board.

WestdavisLet’s Meet the City’s Real Internal Housing Needs, Including for Low-Income Seniors

By Nancy and Don Price

In October 2002, the City Council appointed a subcommittee to study housing needs in Davis. In particular, the Council wanted to consider providing housing opportunities for the local workforce as the primary reason for city residential growth.

In this context, the phrase “internal housing need”  was incorporated in City policy framework, documents, and studies to refer primarily to low and moderate income workforce housing. Indeed, work force housing is the only category of housing specifically mentioned as “internal needs” in the City’s General Plan and for which specific policies have been crafted to meet the need.

For instance, Measure J (voter approved in 2000) and Measure R (voter approved in 2010) as an update of Measure J was intended to “further” and “implement” meeting this “internal housing need” based on local employment growth, UCD growth, and “natural” growth. Indeed, meeting this “internal housing need” is the only justification provided in Measures J/R for converting agricultural lands on the periphery of the city.

Unfortunately, the Yes on Measure L campaign has erroneously misappropriated the term, “internal housing needs,” to otherwise claim the WDAAC project, providing low-income subsidized senior housing and much larger and expensive homes  for senior purchase, meets these needs and thus should be approved by voters. This is a false claim and is not supported anywhere in City documents.

The West Davis Active Adult Community (WDAAC) developers have also seized on the only other  very real unmet housing need in Davis: that is, affordable housing for low-income seniors, and they are campaigning hard for voter approval of the project based on this unmet need   However, only 5% of the land (about 4 acres) at the project will be used for proposed low-income senior apartments, while over 65 acres of the project will be devoted to high-end, single-story, single family housing unaffordable to a vast number of low and moderate income seniors.  

While acknowledging the real need for subsidized senior housing, the No on Measure L campaign claims that the WDAAC project has not even bothered to include calculations of its actual affordable housing requirements in an “Affordable Housing Plan” as otherwise required by City Code. In fact, the No on Measure L campaign has alternatively provided extensive documentation and calculations of the WDAAC’s low-income housing obligations and shows it to be about twice (over 8 acres) what the WDAAC project is proposing (only 4 acres) in terms of a required land donation. Why should the Planning Commission and the City Council be giving this developer a pass?

As the developers of the project have told us, there about 450 seniors on local waiting lists for subsidized low-income senior housing in Davis.  Why, then, is not more land being donated  for low-income senior housing units to be built there and phased in over time as funding is secured like Neighborhood Partners is doing in Dixon?

In addition to the problem with a reduced proposal for the required land donation for subsidized senior housing, the WDAAC project does not really meet the defined “internal housing needs” for Davis. Davis does not need a sprawling Del Webb-like expensive senior development. What Davis really needs is smaller-scale, more dense, and affordable housing designed for both seniors,  single people, couples and families of modest means – small studios and compact 1, 2 and 3 bedroom designs in two to three story configurations in combination  with smaller single-family homes with a close-knit neighborhood setting in mind.  A community center for pre-school, classes, meetings, and events would create even more of a sense of community and bring seniors into the  life of a truly diverse and community.

As it is now, this project is just more exclusive sprawl restricted to well-to-do seniors without a second thought to what are our community’s real needs.

For all of these reasons, we will be voting “No” on Measure L and urge fellow voters to do the same.

If this 75 acre site is to be developed, this current project should be sent back to the developer and to the City Council so they can put before the voters a much improved and well-designed plan that truly meets the City’s “internal housing needs” for moderate income seniors, single people, young couples and families, while also providing for the full statutory required land donation for low-income senior housing. 

We deserve and we should demand a plan that is much more innovative in vision and design that is a reflection of our community needs and values.

— Nancy Price is a former Planning Commission member and Don Price is professor emeritus at UC Davis. Both are longtime Davis residents.


David J Thompson

The claim in this piece that the City provided no breakdown of the affordable housing calculation in the planning approval process for WDAAC is not true.

The specific breakdown of the number of affordable units to meet the city requirements was first presented by City staff in a table in the Staff Report to the Social Services Commission on WDAAC on March 20th this year, then again, slightly revised, due to input, in the Staff Report to the Planning Commission on April 11, 2018 on WDAAC and then once again in the Staff Report to the Davis City Council on WDAAC on May 29th and later continued to a Council Meeting on June 12, of this year.

These three 200 page publicly available reports provide the breakdown which came to there being a need established by City staff for the developer to provide land for 55.75 apartments.

The land subsequently provided by the developer is enough for 150 apartments for low income seniors. Almost three times the number of affordable apartments required.

The City staff reports all referred to the fact that the developer had donated land that exceeded the affordable units provided.

Here you go with the three reports.

City Staff Report, Tuesday, May 29 Council meeting report, the Council meeting was extended also to June 12th.

The Staff Report to the Planning Commission of April 11, 2018 is at

The initial staff report to the Social Services Commission was on March 20, 2018.

David J. Thompson Neighborhood Partners. LLC

Rik Keller

David Thompson:

As you know (since you helped to draft it), the City’s Affordable Housing Ordinance (AHO) requires such calculations to be part of the Affordable Housing Plan for the project. Yet they are nowhere to be found in there and have therefore not been adopted as part of the legally-binding agreements for the project.

Looking at things more broadly, it is unfortunate that you have been put in a position by the project developers to be the main point-person discussing issues in on-line forums such as this, and you have to defend their practices and lack of commitments.

Recently this has led you to make such outlandish statements such as that the 4 acres that are being donated as the sole requirement by the developers to meet their affordable housing obligation (no requirements that the units are actually built, no fees paid to subsidize units) is actually two times what is required and that only 2 acres is actually required. Reasonable calculations, documented in great detail by the No On WDAAC campaign show that at least 8 acres would actually be required.

Alan Pryor

David Thompson has conveniently neglected to disclose that the Affordable Housing Ordinace for "For Sale" housing projects (under which the WDAAC clearly falls) specifically requires a mixture of 2 and 3 bedroom units to be provided to low income "buyers" at affordable prices. Plus, WDAAC is using lower percentages to arrive at their affordable housing obligations than are required in the Affordable Housing Ordinance.

A proper analysis of the WDAAC affordable housing obligations shows that they should provide 66 affordable for-sale units - half 2-bedroom and half 3-bedroom homes. If you converted these into single bedroom units it would require a total of 166 one-bedroom apartments not merely the 55 one-bedroom and "studio" units that David Thompson claims is required. At the statutory minimum density of 20 units per acre required for an alternative land donation, this would require a land donation of 8.15 acres not the measly 4 acres offered by the project developer. David Thompson and Neighborhood Partners LLC ( a privately held, for-profit entity) are selling the low income housing community short by accepting far less land than the Affordable Housing Ordinance demands. Follow the money...who profits from this sell-out.

Plus, as you know, the Affordable Housing Ordinance specifically requires a detailed Affordable Housing Plan to be provided as part of the original application submitted to the City wherein it requires specific statutory findings and a specified procedure to be followed before any variance is granted. This procedure has NOT been followed for the WDAAC project where the final numbers for the land donation for the affordable housing requirments were ginned up and presented as being in full compliance with the ordinance instead of being truthfully disclosed as falling far short.

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