(The following is from an excerpt of a letter dated January 12, 2018, from West Davis Active Adult Center developer David Taormino to the city of Davis on the subject of providing “An adequate housing supply to meet internal city needs.”)
The third and final key concept of Measure R is the requirement to consider the ability to provide an adequate supply of housing to meet the internal needs of the city. The phrase “internal City needs” is not defined in Measure R which, by reasonable inference, is left to the decision makers (Council and voters) to determine over time. Considering that the law may be permanent (it passed by 75% of the vote in 2010), it’s expected that over the decades the perceived internal needs will vary.
In recent months, the public and Davis City Council have been debating the need for an adequate supply of student housing, which apparently everyone agrees is of great concern. The phrase Davis Housing Crisis is often used to describe the serious lack of available housing supply.
Interestingly, I’ve not read or heard of anyone stating that housing for new incoming UC Davis students is not a concern of the City of Davis, even though the campus is located in Yolo County and not the City. It appears Davis residents are willing to accept responsibility for more student housing within the City, as well as on the campus.
The exact percentages of apartments to be built in each location is hotly debated. Nonetheless, in essence, the City of Davis is accepting as an “internal city need” the provision of “an adequate
(student) housing supply to meet internal city needs” which, in tum, naturally increases vacancies and stabilizes rents. (my words)
But what about an adequate supply of housing to meet other internal needs of the City? If the logic that providing for incoming UC Davis students is an internal City need, then doesn’t it logically follow that housing for the incoming faculty and staff, which will educate and support these students, is an equally important internal housing need of the City? Where is the new housing for the estimated 2,300 new UC Davis hires?
Furthermore, despite the market pressure associated with growth at UC Davis, there are internal housing needs of the City which are the byproduct of the mere passage of time and several years of slow to no growth. Before UC Davis announced its plan to increase the student population our City was already facing two critical housing dilemmas: (1) an aging population of empty-nesters with a desire to downsize while staying within the City, and (2) a new generation, raised and educated in Davis, desiring to settle here but unable to find adequate housing options.
These are the purest of internal City housing needs, and yet we as a community have been failing to offer an adequate housing supply to accommodate this internal need. As a result, seniors have been staying in their over-sized homes and young families and the next generation are being forced to live in neighboring jurisdictions and are commuting in and out of Davis daily.
My point is that Measure R requires providing an adequate supply of housing to meet all internal city needs. That is part of the directive the proponents and authors of Measure R included in the law, and which has now been codified. It is a directive not only to those controlling the formal City review process, but also to the developers and to the voters as well.
In the West Davis Active Adult Community project, we are doing what others have not done: (1) defining the current internal housing needs of the city, then (2) developing a housing product type to address that need, and, finally, (3) implementing a specific program to restrict purchases of homes to Davis-based buyers in order to ensure the development actually meets those internal needs.
Considering that newly annexed land is a scarce resource, it is reasonable to place such restrictions so that the internal housing need is addressed, thereby fulfilling the clear purposes of Measure R.
Absolutely no disrespect is intended, but it is not our desire to build new homes merely to attract Bay Area transplants escaping an outrageous housing market. Such an outcome does nothing to address the very real Davis housing crisis; it does nothing to address “internal city needs.”
The WDAAC will be offering two separate categories of for sale housing: 80% to active adults over the age of 55 and 20% to any age. Both categories require purchasers to meet the directive of Measure R, qualifying in one of several categories of persons that the City accepts as meeting “an internal need.”
That is our view of what Measure R intended: taking care of the internal needs of our own community by providing housing to Davis-based persons and families.
The categories of qualifying Davis-based buyers will be further specified as part of the Development Agreement with the City so that there is a contractual obligation to sell new homes only to those persons who meet the specified criteria. In this way, we intend to meet both the written intent of Measure R and its spirit.
We look forward to discussing this program with you further over the coming months.