An Adequate Housing Supply to Meet Internal City Needs

(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.

Signed,

David Taormino



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35 thoughts on “An Adequate Housing Supply to Meet Internal City Needs”

  1. Jim Frame

    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.

    I’d be interested in seeing details of the criteria, as well as the oversight mechanism and funding for the latter.  Of particular concern are any exception clauses, e.g. when a recession brings a dearth of qualified “internal need” buyers, will sales to Bay Area refugees be permitted?

     

  2. Jeff M

    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.”

    This sounds like you are calling the Bay Area a housing market sh_thole… or are you referring to the people?

    All seriousness aside, I think this “Bay Area people will flood the town if we build more housing” meme is the next NIMBY instrument to freak out the highly-reactive central Davis hippy voters similar to how they freaked out that toxic plumes would envelope the children of Nishi and give them a case of autism, or that the Nishi developers would come in the night and actually Murder the owners of Murder Burger.

    It does not take much brain power to understand that this is not real.

    1. Bay Area folk would already be pricing up the supply of homes in Davis if they wanted to move here.  Some are, but the commute to their place of work prevents most.  Building new apartments and homes isn’t going to magically make the commute better nor is it going to allow Google to move their offices to Davis.

    2. Davis really isn’t that great of a place to live if you are from the Bay Area.  It is mostly a legend in our own minds.  Try to find a nice sit-down full-service restaurant with high-level cuisine that caters to people older than 25 and younger than 70.  Also, the weather isn’t near as nice.

    3.  Even though housing is cheaper in Davis, much of the homes are crappy…  older and on smallish lots.  The roads suck.  The parks are shabby.  There isn’t really much open space in town.  Traffic and parking is a mess in the only core shopping area, and there are really few shops and a growing number of vacant buildings.   Homeless are sprouting like the weeks along all the city-maintained common areas… and the weeds are sprouting too.

    I suggest that any reasonable person working reasonably to insure a reasonable supply of housing in Davis refrain from repeating this disingenuous meme.   Any Bay Area people that wanted to cash out their humongous home equity and move to Davis would have likely already have done it… and at this point many of them would be wondering how to escape back.

    1. David Greenwald

      “This sounds like you are calling the Bay Area a housing market sh_thole… or are you referring to the people?”

      I don’t see anything remotely resembling what you said in Taormino’s letter.

    2. Ken A

      Jeff needs to talk to the Davis Mega-NIMBYs more since they tell me that once we build ANY new homes people living in Pac Heights and Menlo Park will be loading up their cars and heading up I80 to buy in Davis so they can experience our 100+ degree heat, eat at local fine dining restaurants such as Wing-Stop and come home to their nice new place on a postage stamp size lot in the Cannery where they can see the homeless living next to the tracks out their back windows while watching kids play beer pong out their font windows…

    3. Tia Will

      Jeff

      I have a couple of questions for you.

      1.Have you recently tried to buy a home either here in Davis or in Sacramento ?  If you have not, I question your current familiarity with the competition from people seeking to leave the Bay Area. I have made two such purchases within the past 2 years and would dispute your assessment that virtually no one from the Bay Area is seeking to live here.

      2. If Davis is the weed and homeless rampant, amenity barren wasteland that you are portraying, then why do you think that so many people want to stay and/or relocate here ? I suggest that perhaps you are generalizing your personal preferences to the general population in order to support a tenuous position. I will use this quote to illustrate. “much of the homes are crappy…  older and on smallish lots.” 

      There are many of us who see the homes that you describe as “crappy…older and on smallish lots” as highly desirable for the older, warmer feeling of these homes and neighborhoods. Not everyone is attracted by the next bright, shiny, object. I purchased one such home 7 years ago and have never felt so at home. In case you had not noticed, not everyone in town shares your preferences.

       

      1. Jeff M

        The point is that the interest in Davis housing from Bay Area people is not going to increase if we build more housing… especially more high-density housing.

  3. Jim Frame

    I suggest that any reasonable person working reasonably to insure a reasonable supply of housing in Davis refrain from repeating this disingenuous meme.   Any Bay Area people that wanted to cash out their humongous home equity and move to Davis would have likely already have done it

    I disagree.  When Wildhorse hit the market in a slump the developers had ad campaigns running the Bay Area touting the relatively low prices and high standard of living in their new subdivision, and I don’t think they would have done that without an expectation of results.

    My sense is that relatively few Bay Area transplants are working people, though certainly some are (I met one at a meeting last weekend, in fact).  Retirees are the prime targets, especially for a senior-oriented facility.  Their kids are grown and out of the house and they’re no longer working, so they can pull up stakes, sell the Bay Area house, buy in Davis and have a bundle left over.

  4. Laurie Rollins

    Our elderly relative living at URC winges that the URC expansion across the street will surely separate couples and friends who won’t be able to get across the street for visits.  I pointed out that those are surely complaints better aimed at the URC management company … to no avail since they do not listen to the residents about anything.  Sigh

  5. Ron

    I don’t see much support for this proposal, even from those on the more “pro-development” side of the growth spectrum. (At least, not on the Vanguard.)

  6. Don Shor

    I don’t have strong feelings about this proposal. I do credit Taormino with doing early outreach, and listening to the feedback they are getting. I know a couple of people who have attended meetings about it and come away impressed with the project and with how approachable the development team is being on this one.

    My main concern is annexing land to benefit just one subset of the community. I have a real aversion to housing covenants, as they have a long and sordid history in our state and in this town. It isn’t the intent of the developer, but if you require that buyers must come from this community it guarantees this housing development will be the same ethnic and racial makeup as the city — which isn’t exactly very diverse. Those sorts of outcomes, by intent or not, are what should consign restrictive covenants to the ash-heap of anachronistic urban design practices of the past.

    If land is going to be brought into the city and entitled for development, there should be enough annexed and zoned to provide more types of housing. The borders of the new city line should move further west, the city should zone it for high densities, and open it for development. I suspect that would make a harder sell and would meet heavy resistance. But I can’t see the current proposal as sound urban planning.

    1. David Greenwald

      To add to that, I think are some strengths here.  For one thing, the developer believes that the way to free up housing inside the city is to provide housing for seniors to downsize and move to.  In order for that to work, of course, you need the people moving to the development to be from within the city, not out of town.

      That of course leads to questions about legality and questions about whether the model can work as planned.  And of course another key question is, why not build the housing directly for the people you want to target.

      I too commend the developers not only for engaging early but also thinking outside of the box here.  We’ll see if it ends up being something workable.

      1. Ron

        David:  “In order for that to work, of course, you need the people moving to the development to be from within the city, not out of town.”

        And, what about the people moving into the houses that the seniors are (supposedly) vacating?  What if they are from “out of town”? And/or is occupied (by sale to parents – or by renting) for “mini-dorm” purposes?

        The entire effort seems somewhat humorous.

        1. David Greenwald

          So this is the problem with your argument.  We don’t have enough housing in Davis.  We can’t build more housing because people from out of town will move there.  So therefore, we can never address our housing problems in Davis.

        2. Ron

          Hey, I was just pointing out a lack of basic logic, regarding the proposal/idea in described in the article.  Kind of surprised that no one else had pointed this out.

           

        3. Roberta Millstein

          So this is the problem with your argument.  We don’t have enough housing in Davis.  We can’t build more housing because people from out of town will move there.  So therefore, we can never address our housing problems in Davis.

          That’s reality.  That’s recognizing that not all problems can be solved, in part because to completely solve them would create other problems and in part because the solutions do not lie completely in our hands.  It’s better to acknowledge that and to speak instead of finding the best balance of addressing problems that we can, to go forward to try to achive the best town we can, and to think of what we need to do to get there.  Not to build, build, build and hope for the best, consequences be damned.

        4. David Greenwald

          I don’t know if we can “solve” our housing problem by building additional housing.  I do know that without additional housing, we will not solve it.

        5. Roberta Millstein

          I don’t know if we can “solve” our housing problem by building additional housing.  I do know that without additional housing, we will not solve it.

          Well, I think we need to be a lot more nuanced than this.  I think we need to determine our most pressing housing needs and then try address those needs in a more targeted and careful way.  Not just throw a bunch of housing at the problem and hope it all sorts itself out, consequences be damned, which seems like the path that the City is on right now (and what several Council candidates seem to be advocating for).

          1. Don Shor

            Not just throw a bunch of housing at the problem and hope it all sorts itself out, consequences be damned, which seems like the path that the City is on right now (and what several Council candidates seem to be advocating for).

            The One Percent Growth resolution, adopted in 2008 and updated in 2011, allowed for approximately 260 units per year. Between 2010 and 2016 a total of 769 units were added. So in seven years, three years worth of units were added. During that time the campus enrollment increased and added staff and faculty came to the region. You can see the consequences of that discrepancy in the ever-decreasing apartment vacancy rate.
            All of the projects other than Nishi would add 1000 – 1050 units. That is 4 years worth of housing units. That would be in keeping with the One Percent Growth resolution.
            I don’t have the current plans in front of me, but Nishi would add another 400 – 600 units. That is another 2- 3 years’ worth of housing within the planning process that was set up for the One Percent Growth resolution.
            So it is actual not accurate to say that anyone is proposing projects “consequences be damned” or “throw[ing] a bunch of housing at the problem.” There was a serious shortfall in housing construction due to the recession and the effects of Measure R, and these projects would make up for that within the context that was approved by the voters and the councils as they implemented the will of the voters with the One Percent Growth resolution.
            It is fine to disagree about planning principles. But there have been consequences of the failure to act, and one of those consequences is serious housing insecurity and higher costs for those among us who can least afford that. The projects proposed are not inappropriate to a college town and they address a serious need. Given the pace of buildout it is very likely that they will be fully within the limits set up by the voters. There is little question that our “most pressing housing needs” presently are for young adults seeking housing in the rental market. Some are also pressing for housing for seniors. That wouldn’t be my highest priority, but that is certainly up to the voters to decide.

          2. Don Shor

            What we had was a perfect storm that led to this housing crisis:
            Measure R constrained peripheral housing development.
            2009 – 2011 recession, collapse of housing market.
            UC engaged largely in reconstruction of existing facilities.
            Chancellor’s 2020 Initiative increased enrollment and staffing.

            During the last decade:
            Housing starts have been less than half of what was allowed.
            UC fell behind on their housing goals.
            UC met or exceeded their enrollment projections, contrary to the expectations of many.

            This was all on top of an already nearly dysfunctional rental housing market with far less than optimal vacancy rate.

            Had this concatenation of circumstances been acknowledged and planned for in 2011, a gradual increase in housing units might have occurred and we would not have this backlog of demand with respect to supply. The 1% growth ordinance certainly allowed for enough units to be phased in. That didn’t happen.
            The failure to plan rests largely on past councils. The lack of housing proposals reflected the poor economy and the lack of available sites. The failure to recognize the impact of their increased enrollment is certainly attributable to the previous UC administration.
            But the consequences of all of that are for the current city leaders, UC administration, and voters to resolve.

          3. David Greenwald

            ” I think we need to determine our most pressing housing needs and then try address those needs in a more targeted and careful way. ”

            I find this comment ironic, because that is precisely what we have done by building student housing.

        6. Ron

          There is a lot of housing under construction or planned.  Davis has a 1% growth cap (and SACOG requirements), which are already being exceeded.

          On a more basic level, residents of Davis already live in housing, for the most part.  (Except for homeless folks.)  So, if more housing is built, current residents either move from their existing housing to the new housing, or new residents move in to the new housing. (Actually, new residents move in either way – to either the new housing, or to the housing that’s being vacated.)

          This is a rather circular argument, overall.

           

          1. Don Shor

            residents of Davis already live in housing, for the most part. (Except for homeless folks.) So, if more housing is built, current residents either move from their existing housing, or new residents move in. (Actually, new residents move in either way – to either the new housing, or to the housing that’s being vacated.)

            That’s really classic, Ron. Glad you got it all worked out.

  7. Ron

    It should also be noted that the one percent growth cap is based upon number of units, and not size (or planned number of occupants) per unit.  In other words, the cap is based upon growth in the number of new units (regardless of size), and not growth in the resulting population.

    In addition to shortchanging impact fees and the Affordable housing program, multi-bedroom units in particular can enable population to increase faster than the one percent growth cap.

  8. Roberta Millstein

    The One Percent Growth resolution, adopted in 2008 and updated in 2011, allowed for approximately 260 units per year. Between 2010 and 2016 a total of 769 units were added. So in seven years, three years worth of units were added. During that time the campus enrollment increased and added staff and faculty came to the region. You can see the consequences of that discrepancy in the ever-decreasing apartment vacancy rate.All of the projects other than Nishi would add 1000 – 1050 units. That is 4 years worth of housing units. That would be in keeping with the One Percent Growth resolution.I don’t have the current plans in front of me, but Nishi would add another 400 – 600 units. That is another 2- 3 years’ worth of housing within the planning process that was set up for the One Percent Growth resolution.So it is actual not accurate to say that anyone is proposing projects “consequences be damned” or “throw[ing] a bunch of housing at the problem.” There was a serious shortfall in housing construction due to the recession and the effects of Measure R, and these projects would make up for that within the context that was approved by the voters and the councils as they implemented the will of the voters with the One Percent Growth resolution.It is fine to disagree about planning principles. But there have been consequences of the failure to act, and one of those consequences is serious housing insecurity and higher costs for those among us who can least afford that. The projects proposed are not inappropriate to a college town and they address a serious need. Given the pace of buildout it is very likely that they will be fully within the limits set up by the voters. There is little question that our “most pressing housing needs” presently are for young adults seeking housing in the rental market. Some are also pressing for housing for seniors. That wouldn’t be my highest priority, but that is certainly up to the voters to decide.

    None of that means that it is wise for the City to grow this much this fast now, taking into account all factors and not just thinking about housing.

    As for what is most pressing, I don’t think it’s right to capture that only in terms of numbers.  One must also consider who is worst off and which needs can be solved in better ways (e.g., students with on-campus housing).

  9. Ron

    Don:  “Between 2010 and 2016 a total of 769 units were added.”

    Just wondering – does that include all units, regardless of type (e.g., single-family, granny units – such as those at the Cannery, Affordable housing, etc.)?  Also, does it include housing provided on campus (e.g., West Village)?

    As a side note, I believe that Affordable housing is exempted from the one percent growth cap.

    1. Don Shor

      Just wondering – does that include all units, regardless of type (e.g., single-family, granny units, Affordable housing, etc.)?

      It is based on city building permit records, as reported in the State of the City Report 2017.

      Also, does it include housing provided on campus?

      Of course not.

      1. Ron

        Didn’t actually answer my first question.

        Regarding the second question, you’re the one who noted the increased need primarily created by UCD’s growth, above.  If you’re going to compare that need with the amount of housing built, then perhaps you should also include what’s been built on campus to provide a more complete picture.

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