Entries categorized "Housing"

City Comissions Merger Proposals are Ill Conceived - Testify Tuesday!












The City Council is hearing proposals to consolidate commissions on Tuesday night. These changes have serious implications. Here are the proposals:

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Reply from city staff concerning Sierra Club's downtown housing recommendations

The following email was received by members of the Sierra Club Yolano Group Management Committee yesterday (Apr 4, 2024) in response to the email outlining the recommendations of the Sierra Club Management Committee for Davis downtown housing projects:

Thank you for taking the time to send us your thoughts on the downtown Davis housing projects.  While your email has been received by the City Council members, I want to take this opportunity to respond to your comments.

  1. As you have correctly noted, both the Lumberyard project and the project at 240 G have a 5% affordability requirement. Both of these projects applied for approval when our housing element was not certified and our new inclusionary ordinance had not gone into effect and were therefore afforded the ability to lock in the previous affordability rate of 5%.  Our new inclusionary housing ordinance, which complies with State Law, limits the affordable housing cap to 15%.  The City of Davis cannot require more than 15% as we are unable to demonstrate that it is financially feasible to construct a project with more than 15% affordable units included.    The project at 4th and G, which proposed 20% affordable units under a different provision of the law, is not moving forward as it has been withdrawn.
  1. As you know, parking is not required in the downtown Davis specific plan area. The Lumberyard project has no associated parking while the 240 G project has some underground parking.  Both projects are providing a space for a shared car and pick up space for a ride share car.  Disabled parking is not required if no parking is required. Therefore, the 240 G project will have some ADA accessible parking.
  1. Both of the referenced projects have provided large, indoor bike storage rooms within their projects. Charging stations will also be provided.
  1. Both of the referenced projects have planned for large recreational spaces. 240 G has space planned on the roof of the building.  The Lumberyard includes more traditional space planned for the interior courtyard areas of the project.
  1. Both projects are being conditioned to plant and maintain landscaping in accordance with city standards.

Please let me know if you have any further questions or comments.


Community Development Director

Recommendations to the Davis City Council for Downtown Housing Projects

Submitted for consideration by the Davis City Council from the Sierra Club Yolano Group (email sent 4/2/2024)

March 30, 2024

Recently, several housing projects have been proposed for downtown Davis: one at the site of the former Hibbert Lumberyard at the intersection of G Street and 5th Street (“The Lumberyard”), one at the site of the former Regal Cinemas Davis Stadium 5 at the intersection of G Street and 4th Street, and one at 240 G Street. 

We write to express our strong support of these sorts of infill projects, projects that would increase housing density in Davis, allowing for more efficient use of land and creating the potential for reduced-carbon lifestyles. However, we have concerns about the details of the projects and urge that they be addressed prior to approval:

  1. Increase affordable housing. Davis’s greatest housing need is for affordable housing, yet only the 4th and G Street project provides for a reasonable percentage of affordable housing (20%, in accordance with the “Builder’s Remedy” that they are applying under). The other two projects are only proposing 5% affordable housing, which does very little to address Davis’s affordable housing needs.  Equity demands that a higher percentage of affordable housing – at least 20% – be included in all future downtown housing projects. 5% is totally unacceptable. If Proposition 1 funds become available, the minimum required percentage should be increased to 25%.

  2. Increase feasibility of a car-free lifestyle for all potential residents. Two out of the three projects (the Lumberyard and 240 G Street) provide for very little parking. We commend the attempt to foster a car-free lifestyle that could be possible in the downtown, especially if increased numbers of residents are able to attract more retail businesses.  However, the units should be feasible for all, and car-free lifestyles can be difficult for those with mobility challenges, including but not limited to some elderly seniors.  Thus, the housing projects need to facilitate other ways of getting around by including, for example, an area for taxis/Uber/Lyft/DoorDash/etc. to pick up and drop off.  Projects should provide a minimum percentage of parking spaces for people who have Disabled Person (DP) placards.  Putting funds toward improving public transportation in the downtown (including microtransit) – or having dedicated vans are other options that we strongly recommend; developers should work with the City and UCD on this, with subsidized passes provided for people with low incomes.

    We understand that some members of the community think that there should be parking minimum requirements for downtown housing projects. However, to create a walkable, active transit oriented lifestyle (which many younger people in particular have been asking for), we need fewer, not more, cars downtown.  This is the best way to achieve our climate goals. We have suggested a variety of ways to try to make it easier for everyone to live downtown, but other solutions may be possible and feasible; the City should consult with relevant experts, such as disability access professionals.

  3. Support use of vehicles other than cars. Car-free lifestyles can be facilitated with bicycles, e-bikes and e-scooters. To that end, projects should be required to set aside a sufficient number of covered spaces for these vehicles relative to number of bedrooms and units.  Moreover, San Francisco’s recent experience (https://www.sfchronicle.com/sf/article/bike-scooter-battery-fire-17869505.php) has shown that some of the batteries for e-bikes and e-scooters can be fire hazards.  Davis should look to NYC’s ordinances (they are ahead of other municipalities) as a way to mitigate the risk of fire when e-bikes and e-scooters are brought indoors.  To further facilitate the use of these vehicles, charging stations should be provided.

  4. Ensure a high quality of life for residents. Living in a dense environment can be physically and psychologically challenging if it is not done correctly. This can be ameliorated by providing greenspace, rooftop gardens, etc.  The City of Davis should work with developers to identify community garden space and/or spaces where residents of these housing developments can grow food or plants (e.g., on balconies or window boxes).  Again, this is an equity issue.

  5. Require planting and maintenance of trees and landscaping. One of the goals of the Davis Climate Action and Adaptation Plan is to “...create a cooler city with more urban forest and green space for people and habitat.” To help further that goal, developers should fund the planting and maintenance of trees in internal plazas and along public sidewalks, using best practices for producing a street canopy developed in concert with Tree Davis and the Davis Tree Commission.

Thank you for your consideration of these recommended changes.

Respectfully submitted,

The Sierra Club Yolano Group Management Committee

The Sierra Club Yolano Group is comprised of over 1,400 Sierra Club members from Yolo County, a portion of eastern Solano County, and a portion of southern Colusa County.

My Apology to the Citizens, Voters and Seniors of Davis

By David J. Thompson

I feel that I must ask the citizens and voters of Davis for your forgiveness relating to what did not happen with the 150-unit senior housing project assigned to Delta Senior Housing Communities (DSHC) at the Bretton Woods project. My apology is because in 2021 DSHC without a word to the City of Davis or the public abandoned the four-year Bretton Woods project. So what was promised to the public by DSHC is not going to happen.

From 2016 through 2021 I worked tirelessly on behalf of Delta Senior Housing Communities, Inc. (DSHC) to win passage of Measure J (approval of what is now Bretton Woods). If Measure J passed then DSHC would be given five acres of land to build 150 units of low-income affordable senior housing. Although I asked the President of DSHC to help me win passage he never did and in three years he did not attend any of the many neighborhood meetings or the twice weekly booth at the Davis Farmers Market. I think the DSHC President may have attended one event but in that four-year campaign none of the other three DSCH officers/board members ever attended any event or even wrote a letter of support to the Davis Enterprise. 

During that time I began to think that DSHC was hardly functioning as the board of a non-profit tax-exempt entity.

Continue reading "My Apology to the Citizens, Voters and Seniors of Davis" »

Davis Housing Solutions: A Community Conversation

(From press release) Interfaith Housing Justice Davis (IHJD) is excited to announce an upcoming forum "Davis Housing Solutions: A Community Conversation".  The forum is designed to address pressing housing issues and explore viable solutions.

The forum is scheduled for the evening of May 16th and will be held at Davis Community Church.  IHJD has invited local and regional experts on affordable housing and social service issues.  Topics covered will include "who needs housing" and "how" do we help them.  In addition, to provide a deeper understanding, the stories and voices of marginalized communities that include the homeless, victims of eviction and even those struggling to purchase their first home will be presented. The event will discuss the city's Housing Trust Fund, including funding and its role in solving the various housing needs highlighted.   Attendees will gain insights into how the Housing Trust Fund could effectively address housing challenges in Davis.  A key focus of the conversation will be how to ensure sustainable funding for the Housing Trust Fund.

Following the formal presentations attendees will have the opportunity to ask their own questions to a panel of the presenters including council members and city staff.

In addition to the forum and panel discussion, there will be a number of organizations available with whom the attendees can meet and talk.  Organizations already registered to participate include Northern California Legal Services, Mutual Housing California, Interfaith Housing Justice Davis, Ca House and DavisCAN.  All the organizations have a role in providing housing resources and support systems. This interaction will provide numerous opportunities for community members to get involved and contribute to housing equity efforts.

Davis Housing Solutions: A Community Conversation is open to all and is free.  Donations to the Housing Trust Fund are welcomed and can be made when registering for this event. Livestreaming information available at registration.  IHJD encourages all community members to join this conversation and participate in shaping the future for housing in Davis.

To register for the forum, go to https://bit.ly/interfaithhousing

If you wish to contact Interfaith Housing Justice Davis, email: Ellen Kolarik  [email protected]

I-80 A Threat to Housing Affordability?

Blinder siloVideo: A Widening Goal is for More Bay Area ”Super Commuters”

By Alan Hirsch 

The Davis  General Plan is on Tuesday’s city council agenda- not just in the item so labeled, but reverse  of the city policy of “strongly supporting” the I-80 widening.

I-80  is not just about climate, it also impacts having housing, affordable housing for local residents.

While we in Davis can zone in more density like Cannery,  push Davis developers to increase their affordable set aside a few percent points, and even  vote a tax on ourselves to fund a housing trust, the benefits for current resident will easily be diluted by demand generated from over  ten thousand commuters a day  the 33% increase in freeway capacity enable.

 Prices are set by demand vs supply,  If  more people have access and want housing here the prices will go up- as will demand for subsidized affordable units.

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Sierra Club Yolano Group comments on Village Farms scope of work

The following comments were submitted to the City of Davis by the Sierra Club Yolano Group on December 8. Transmitted via email to <[email protected]>

Biological Resources

1. The Biological Resources should be studied in detail as outlined in the 5 December 2023 letter from Madrone Ecological Consulting, “Subject: Summary of Biological Resources Surveys Planned for the Village Farms Project, Yolo County, California.” but with the following suggestions:

  1. In the Aquatic Resources Delineation study, we recommend the timing of the determination of the extent of wetlands be expanded to include any times in which the area is water-inundated rather than at specifically identified times because inundation can occur during variable periods.

  2. We recommend the then current leasehold farmer not perform any cultural activities resulting in soil disturbances, including planting of cover crops, until the all wetland studies are completed.

  3. In the analysis for rare plants, we recommend all historical records be consulted.

  4. All surveys performed for determination of Biological Resources should be performed by specialists approved or certified to perform such studies under CEQA guidelines and performed in accordance with CDFW protocols.

  5. Environmental evaluation should also be performed considering the Yolo Regional Resource Conservation Investment Strategy/Land Conservation Plan (RCIS/LCP) in addition to the Yolo Habitat Conservation Plan & Natural Community Conservation Plan (HCP/NCCP).


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A Critique of Village Farms

In reference to the Village Farms Scoping Session

The City has asked citizens to comment on the Village Farms project. Here are mine…

by David J. Thompson

The project is based on obsolete planning principles which feature the single family home.

Preponderance of SF homes in this era is absurd for a town that thinks it’s green.

Global Warming is guaranteed and increased by this car-centric planning model.

Too few market-rate apartments for a community with such a low vacancy rate for the past 30 years. The lack of market rate apartments means tens of thousands of Students and working people will continue over paying on rent given the continued low vacancy rate.

There should be many more market rate apartments to bring down the excessive rental costs in Davis. Most of the 55.7% of Davis households (the 36,780 renters) are already overpaying rent (more than 30% of income spent on rent is HUD guideline).

Dos Pinos housing co-op has been the most successful home ownership program in Davis. 38 years later it is still providing substantial savings for its moderate income owners. It helps families time and time again rather than a one off bonanza and it’s gone forever. There are 122 households on the waiting list for DP (60 units) and the list has been closed since 2017 (2021 info from DP). There are between 6-10 turnovers per year. Why was another Dos Pinos co-op not included in Village Farms?

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Response to Davis Enterprise Article on December 6, 2023: “City, County, UCD Gather for Annual Meeting.”

By Greg Rowe

A recent Davis Enterprise article described the annual meeting of the Davis City Council, Yolo County District 2 and 4 Supervisors and UC Davis administrators, held on December 5.  UCD’s on-campus student housing construction program since 2018 was glowingly portrayed by the university representatives. The reality is that UCD had for years resisted building an adequate supply of on-campus housing to meet the needs of its continued enrollment growth, and literally had to be dragged kicking and screaming into agreeing to finally address the problem.

Evidently forgotten amid UCD’s self-congratulatory presentation were the herculean exertions between 2015 and 2018 by a small alliance of dedicated citizens who committed countless hours working toward the goal of convincing UCD to address its student housing needs in a meaningful way. Those efforts focused on educating the Davis City Council and the Yolo County Board of Supervisors about UCD’s long-standing failure to provide on-campus student housing on pace with escalating enrollment, and the resulting negative community impacts. The group wrote countless articles, letters and a comprehensive “white paper,” met with UCD planners and elected officials, spoke at meetings of the UC Board of Regents, and documented the superior student housing accomplishments at other UC campuses. 

Early drafts of UCD’s Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) proposed to only marginally increase the percentage of students living in campus residence halls between 2018 and 2030. The university’s initial intent was to simply redevelop existing campus housing rather than aggressively increasing bed capacity with new construction.

It also appeared that UCD intended to dodge its housing responsibilities by continuing to “master lease”  apartment complexes in Davis for exclusive occupancy by UCD students. This “band aid” approach meant fewer apartments were available to workforce families. It also allowed apartment owners to avoid paying property taxes because the lessee, UCD, is tax-exempt.

Continue reading "Response to Davis Enterprise Article on December 6, 2023: “City, County, UCD Gather for Annual Meeting.”" »

It Does Pencil Out

2 + 2 = By Larry D. Guenther

We often hear from developers that a building required by existing zoning “doesn’t pencil out” and that they therefore must be allowed to build bigger. Several issues make this claim suspect.

First, developers never show the math they use to make this statement. Never.

Secondly, there appears to be no set building size that does ‘pencil out’. Proponents always ask for one more story. If the zoning is two stories, they insist it won’t work, but three will. If the zoning is 3, they need 4. If the zoning is 4, they need 5, etc.

Thirdly, there are plenty of examples that contradict these statements: the Roe Building on the SW corner of 3rd and C St. (3 stories, mixed use); Central Park West across from Central Park (2-1/2 stories, residential); Pizza and Pints (1 story, commercial); the most recent Ace Hardware addition on 3rd St. (1 story, commercial); The Arbors on C St. (3 stories, mixed use); the building on the SW corner of G and 5th St. (3 stories, mixed use), etc.

Fourth: developers site the increase in material costs as part of their reasoning (the number 15% is suspiciously common and has been cited before and during the Pandemic). While material costs definitely increase over time, they certainly increase far less than residential rents. Material costs are also a one-time expense, while rental income continues - and increases - for the life of the building.

Continue reading "It Does Pencil Out" »

In the Davis Future, the Climate Crisis and Housing Affordability Crisis are Conjoined

By David J. Thompson

This piece is a slightly longer piece based upon remarks my remarks to the Social Services Commission on Monday, August 21, 2023.

Since 1983 in a professional role, I have helped gain approval of and the building of over 500 units of affordable housing in Davis.

With the Social Services Commission now reviewing the two annexation proposals I wish to remark not on the specifics of the rubric you have been asked to review but on the overall status of key elements of affordable housing in Davis.

Here are some key facts the commissioners should consider;

  • The Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) of the Sacramento Area of Governments (SACOG) directed the City of Davis to show where 530 Very Low Income (VLI) and 350 Low Income (LI) units could be built within the city.
  • To get those 930 VLI and LI affordable units (@ 15% of market rate units requires building 6.200 new market rate apartments within the City of Davis. Can anyone see 6,200 market rate apartment units being built in Davis over this RHNA cycle? I do not.
  • VLI units can only reach affordability with the deep subsidy projects get from competing in the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee (TCAC). Statistically, you can only win a subsidy for VLI units if you have a free site of two acres on which you build at least 50 plus VLI and LI units. How many free sites of at least two acres are there in Davis? Certainly not enough (about 23 free sites of two acre needed) to build 930 VLI and LI units.
  • When David Taormino asked me to do the affordable housing for Bretton Woods I said I would if he doubled the land required for affordable housing. Taormino donated land for 150 VLI and LI apartments instead of the required 68. I and Delta Senior Housing Communities (DSHC) are no longer doing the affordable housing at Bretton Woods but that one act had great impact on gaining voter support and approval. 150 VLI and LI units are being built there.
  • In the proposed Village Farms development of 378 acres about 2% of the land is reserved for affordable housing.
  • However, also in the Village Farms proposal there are 149 acres set aside for parks.
  • So 39% of the land for parks and 2% of the land for poor people. Given the differences in the percentages of land use you’d think we had a park crisis rather than an affordable housing crisis.
  • Another few acres of park transferred to affordable housing would substantially address the affordable housing crisis in Davis.
  • There is an even greater problem in terms of the VLI, LI and Moderate (MOD) income people in Davis who are already rent impacted. For over 30 years Davis has had a very low vacancy rate which means that most renters in Davis overpay the HUD 30% guidelines. The small number of market rate rental units in either of the two proposals ensures that for another ten years the 35,000+ renters in Davis will continue to have no savings by living here while over-paying on the rent. That’s a whopping hit on the monthly budget of the working families and students living in rental housing.
  • If these two proposals are approved by the city then overpayment is guaranteed and enshrined by the action of the City of Davis.

Continue reading "In the Davis Future, the Climate Crisis and Housing Affordability Crisis are Conjoined" »

The Housing War is Over - Greenwald Declares "Uncle"

Yesterday could go down as the most important day in Davis history:  the day the housing back-and-forth between David Greenwald and Ron Ortel ended.

On Greenwald simply declared, after more than a decade of housing-essays and long comments between the two:


This will mark the start of a new era with a Davis Vanguard free of housing articles, signed under the Treaty of White, named after our long-departed Innovation Officer, for no reason in particular.  Or the color white, I'm not sure.

The Vanguard will now focus on its true passion:  cooking with fish.  Lots of articles on cooking with fish.

Now if only Ron O. would just get over the notion that Measure J or Rent Control were good ideas.

Oh, well.  Baby steps.  ;-)

That should elicit an essay for the Davisite.  On Housing  :-|

What have I done?

Recommendation to the Davis City Council for Changes in Davis’ Affordable Housing Ordinance

By The Sierra Club Yolano Group Management Committee

June 27, 2023


The Davis Affordable Housing Ordinance is now implemented on a temporary basis. Renewal with some modest changes is anticipated this evening.

However, the existing Affordable Housing Ordinance has provisions which we believe do not provide social justice, equity, and fairness in terms of meeting the needs of the City’s low-income population because it is biased toward the financial benefit of developers rather than maximizing the availability of affordable income housing in Davis.

Following please find our recommendations for immediate changes to update the City's temporary Affordable Housing Ordinance for ownership development projects. Additionally, we suggest the City embark on a concerted effort to further revise the ordinance to make it more equitable and understandable to developers and the general public for both ownership and rental development projects as more fully described below.

Recommendation for Immediate Change

1) Eliminate Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) as an acceptable alternative to provide on-site Affordable Housing - Prior to the immediate renewal of the Affordable Housing Ordinance, we strongly recommend completely eliminating the provision whereby ADUs are allowed as fulfillment for up to 50% of a For Sale project’s affordable housing obligations as currently exists.

2) Substantially increase in-lieu fees if chosen by a developer as an acceptable alternative to provide on-site or offsite Affordable Housing - We recommend that in-lieu fees be substantially increased so that it is no longer a financially preferable option for developers to pursue.  We endorse the staff recommendation to have an "in lieu fee to represent the full cost to build an actual unit."

Recommendations for Further Changes in the Very Near Future

3) Increase the minimum percentages of affordable housing required in most developments -

a) For rental multifamily developments and ownership detached housing, increase the standard 15% requirement for onsite or offsite affordable housing units to 25% (15% Very Low Income and 10% Low Income).

b) For ownership and rental mixed use and stacked-flat condominiums, increase the affordable housing requirement from 5% to 10% (5% Very Low Income and 5% Low Income) and eliminate the exemption for such units in the core area from the requirements of the Affordable Housing Ordinance.

4) Increase the minimum parcel size for land donated to alternatively meet affordable housing requirements to 4 acres – Experts in the field of non-profit low income housing project financing have stated that land donation requirements of lesser sizes are not feasible to finance given the realities of financing requirements and available tax credits.

We elaborate on each of these recommendations further below.


Continue reading "Recommendation to the Davis City Council for Changes in Davis’ Affordable Housing Ordinance" »

How Big Does Davis Need to Be? A Lot Smaller Than Growth Advocates Want You To Think

Criteria for inclusion: stand-alone college towns with a population less than 90K and a public university larger than 10K enrollment. Dataset may not include every example of this, but diligent efforts have been made to be as complete as possible. The orange line shows the best-fit linear regression model. Any place above the line has more than its projected population based on enrollment. (Added 7:30 PM, June 23, 2023)

By Rik Keller

Tim Keller (no relation) stated in the article “Guest Commentary: How Big Does Davis Need to Be? College Towns Analysis Part 3 – Long-Term Planning” that “In previous articles we saw evidence that suggests that a population of 120,000 might be entirely appropriate for a university town such as Davis: It is the size of Ann Arbor, Michigan (home of the University of Michigan), Champagne-Urbana (home of the University of Illinois), and Lafayette Indiana (home of Purdue). These are all well-regarded and well-funded research universities of very similar size and character to UC Davis.”

For reference, the 2022 population of Davis was 67,048, and Tim’s number is a huge 179% increase above that.

The so-called “evidence” that he based this on was a very incomplete, cherry-picked, and in some cases factually-inaccurate, list of 17 universities and host towns to compare to Davis.

He stated “The trend that emerges immediately is that the population of a “university town” such as ours tends to be about 3x the size of its student body.”

I have access to a more complete database of 40 public research universities with enrollment of at least 10,000 students (and up to 50,000), located in distinct host towns with populations less than 100,000. Tim ignored the vast majority of these. It turns out that the median population-to-student enrollment ratio of these 40 college towns is almost identical to that of Davis (Davis is slightly higher), which completely undermines his argument that Davis needs massive population growth to support current university enrollment.

If Tim hadn’t approached the exercise with an endpoint in mind—his preconceived notion that Davis need to be much larger than it is—he could have done a more credible analysis. His limited cherry-picked data had some basic facts wrong. The 2022 population of Corvallis was actually 60,956 (not 95,184), and the population-to-enrollment ratio is actually 1.73. And he drastically understated the enrollment for the University of Indiana at 35,253, when Fall 2022 enrollment was actually 47,005. The population-to-enrollment ratio for Bloomington is actually 1.68. With Davis at around 1.9, these two cases, as well as the median of 1.82 for the larger dataset, indicates that Davis has more population per enrollment than the norm.

I won’t get into a critique right now of Tim’s notion that a simplistic and crude comparison of population size to university enrollment should provide prescriptive guidance. But suffice it to say for now that a more through examination of the facts using a more complete dataset of college towns, points to the opposite conclusion that he had.

Should we be surprised that one of the people behind the “Sustainable Growth Yolo” organization is advocating for massive amounts of growth based on faulty analysis and assumptions? I’m not sure why they aren’t more honest and just delete the “sustainable” part.

Rik Keller is a university instructor in communication studies and social work. He has two decades of professional experience in demographic analysis and housing policy & analysis in Texas, Oregon, and California after obtaining his master’s degree in city planning. He is also a 15-year Davis resident.

Letter: City Council moves toward an exclusionary Davis

What a sad Council night for Davis this past Tuesday.

Both projects put forward by the city Tuesday night are by design planning for an exclusionary Davis.

Both projects short us on affordable housing for the very low income and low income. They both set aside the lowest number of units ever affordable to VLI and LI units of any proposed annexation.

When David Taormino asked me to do the affordable housing for Bretton Woods I said I would if he doubled the land required for affordable housing.

David provided land for 150 VLI and LI apartments instead of the required 68 apartments.

Standing at the Bretton Woods Booth at the Farmers Market every Wednesday and Saturday proved my point. His willingness to do more VLI and LI units that he needed to was the critical element in winning community approval in a Measure J election.

I and Delta Senior Housing Communities (DSHC) are no longer doing the affordable housing at Bretton Woods but that one generous act had great impact and won community support.

With 378 acres to build why is Village Farms skimping on an extra four acres for housing VLI and LI people.

All that is needed is 1% (3.78 acres) more of the 378 acres.

Due to their skimping on both projects I am opposed to them both.

I don’t want the Davis that is being sold to us. It is a Davis with fewer doors for the poor.

That Davis will be richer and whiter and shun the poor working people.

Join me in demanding more from each project to build a more welcoming and inclusionary Davis.

David J. Thompson

Comparison of Village Farms Davis and Shriners Proposed Developments

Comparison of Village Farms Davis and Shriners Proposed Developments

by Alan Pryor

I. Introduction – Recent online comments suggested a side-by-side comparison of the features of several currently proposed development projects subject to a Measure J vote would be useful to allow readers to do an “apples-to-apples” comparison of the salient features of the projects. As a result, I prepared such a spreadsheet showing what I considered to be the most important features of the Village Farms Davis and the Shriners development projects.

The following general categories were considered in this analysis;

  1. Total Project Size and Buildable Acres
  2. Number of Market Rate and Affordable Housing Units and Density
  3. Area of Open Space, Roadways, and Proposed Mitigation
  4. Distances to Important Local Destinations and Public Transit Access
  5. Infill Potential vs. Sprawl
  6. Other Project Benefits to the Community

Information for the analysis was derived from public sources and/or filings made by the project developers and follow-up inquiries when additional information was sought.


II. Results – The results of this effort is shown in the following spreadsheet:

Continue reading "Comparison of Village Farms Davis and Shriners Proposed Developments" »

Development Planning Priorities for Davis

Note: As part of item 8 on Tuesday's City Council agenda, the City will consider an evaluation rubric as a possible tool for consideration of review of peripheral proposals. The following is an alternative rubric proposal.

Proposed by Judy Corbett, Alan Hirsch, Roberta Millstein, Alan Pryor, Bob Schneider, David J. Thompson, Colin Walsh, Stephen Wheeler, James Zanetto, and Sierra Club Yolano Group

1. Develop infill opportunities first

  • City to hire consultant or add staff to actively pursue and encourage implementation of the Downtown Plan and other infill opportunities.
  • Council action to initiate redevelopment of city-owned parcels on Fifth Street and communicate with potential nonprofit partners.
  • Council to approach school district regarding redevelopment of 5th Street properties.
  • Upzone parcels along arterial corridors and in shopping centers to a minimum height for mixed-use development so as to use land efficiently in central locations.
  • 100% affordable housing overlay zoning like the Cambridge model to create new affordable housing redevelopment opportunities in already developed areas. By focusing zoning changes only for affordable housing it gives affordable housing developers the opportunity to initiate redevelopment projects without competing against more lucrative for profit market rate developments for development sites.
  • Reduce parking requirements for these sites, including considering car-free housing on certain sites, along with low parking maximums, to encourage redevelopment & affordability; a package of policies to reduce motor vehicle use such as on-site car-shares, market pricing, good bike parking, transit improvements, etc.

2. Initiate and complete General Plan or Specific Plans updates.  This will provide a comprehensive look at the future and ensure consideration of cumulative impacts including traffic, water, wastewater and other infrastructure. A General Plan is preferred but an option might be a Specific Plan for the Northeast and /or Northwest areas. Any new planning process should be kept short and efficient so as to avoid the lengthy and expensive experiences of many past plans.

3. Peripheral development standards

Continue reading "Development Planning Priorities for Davis" »

Letter: Hibbert’s 224 Apartment Proposal Will Have NO Parking and NO Poor

This Loophole Must Be Removed

Hibbert’s SB 330 development avoids the Builder’s Remedy which at least requires 20% of the units for Low Income (LI) so on the face of it for 224 units projected there should be 44 units for low income households.

So by adding a measly 8,000 sq. ft. retail to a four story project, Hibbert’s avoids providing 33 low income units. Under SB 330 only 11 low income units are proposed which is 5%. None of units will serve very low income (VLI) households which is the city’ biggest gap in meeting the RHNA numbers of 580 VLI.

The project is exclusionary by design.

For the Hibbert’s site proposal under SB330 there will be no parking requirements. Think of the impact on G street neighbors and the Co-op in particular. Where will 250-300 vehicles park in the neighborhood?

David J Thompson

Housing SB423 and SB4 California Senate

By David J. Thompson

Passage of SB 423 will make “Builders Remedy” permanent for cities not having an approved housing element. Bill neglects building housing for very low income households.

Two bills relating to housing and requirements affordable housing have been sent to the Senate Floor. Because Davis has not had its housing element approved by the State of California, our city is now open to “Builders Remedy”. SB 423 makes permanent that any housing can be built as long as it has 20% of the units for low income households. Under SB 423 most city oversight is removed.

My critique of these two bills (SB423 and SB4 Weiner) is that they do nothing (as far as I can tell) to provide housing for the most in need group of very low income households (VLI) in our city. They do however; push for units for low income households (LI) and that might be as much as the housing advocates could lobby for in these two bills.

If these low income units are the only ones built then a city will continue to not meet its VLI targets. Does that mean therefore most housing elements will be found out of compliance? And therefore, the builders remedy will be the only law of the land? I have a call into the Senate to pose this question. (This paragraph added today)

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City Council is Jeopardizing their Proposed Tax Measure on the November 2024 Ballot by Withholding a Vote on New Peripheral Residential Development

By Alan Pryor

The Davis City Council recently decided at their April 4, 2023 meeting that they would explore all options for putting a new general tax measure on the November 2024 ballot while declining to place a peripheral housing project on the same ballot. The Council’s stated reasons are that they did not believe Staff had the “bandwidth” to process both ballot measures simultaneously and that they feared the controversy of placing a peripheral ballot measure on the same ballot as their preferred general tax measure ballot may harm the tax measure’s chances of success.

And at last Tuesday night's Council meeting they agreed to relegate all future peripheral Measure J/R/D housing ballot measure to special elections over at least the next few years. I believe this decision was shortsighted and made without a complete understanding of what motivates Davis voters to approve or disapprove of tax measures in Davis.

Aside from the obvious charge that the City is favoring adding new revenue to their coffers over providing needed housing in the community (after standing on their soap boxes and proclaiming the dire need for housing over and over again in the past), this decision displays a misunderstanding of the realities of Davis electoral politics and this lack of awareness may presage the failure of both the expected November 2024 general tax measure AND any new peripheral housing ballot measure on later special election ballots.

Let me explain.

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Recommendation to the Social Services Commission for Changes in Davis’ Affordable Housing Ordinance

The following was emailed as an attachment to the Social Services Commission yesterday for their meeting this evening (7 PM, Monday May 15) where they will be taking up proposed changes to Davis's Affordable Housing Ordinance.

by Roberta Millstein and Alan Pryor



The Davis Affordable Housing Ordinance (available at https://library.qcode.us/lib/davis_ca/pub/municipal_code/item/chapter_18-article_18_05?view=all) is now implemented on a temporary basis to account for changes in state law requiring economic justification if minimum affordable housing requirements for new projects exceed 15% of total housing units.  The current temporary ordinance is scheduled to expire on June 30, 2023, with proposed changes under consideration by the Social Services Commission at its May 13, 2023 meeting.

However, even with these proposed changes, the existing Affordable Housing Ordinance has provisions which we believe do not provide social justice, equity, and fairness in terms of meeting the needs of the City’s low-income population because it is biased toward the financial benefit of developers rather than maximizing the availability of affordable income housing in Davis.

We recommend the following changes to the temporary ordinance if it is renewed by the sunset date of June 30, 2023 and to a revised permanent ordinance.

  1. Eliminate ADUs as an acceptable alternative to provide on-site Affordable Housing - We recommend that Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) be completely eliminated as a way for developers to avoid constructing real Affordable Housing.

  2. Substantially increase in-lieu fees if chosen by a developer as an acceptable alternative to provide on-site Affordable Housing - We recommend that in-lieu fees be substantially increased so that it is no longer a financially preferable option for developers to pursue. 

We elaborate on each of these recommendations further below.

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