Wildhorse Ranch: The Next Big Development Controversy

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Just when you thought it was safe to watch your city council meetings… A few days after the voters have apparently narrowly passed the Second Street Crossing Project–better known as Measure K and Target, we have a new controversy developing.

On Tuesday night, the City Council will have on the agenda an item to approve an EIR Consultant Contract for the Wildhorse Ranch Project.

This is the early stages of the Wildhorse Ranch project. It is approximately a 25.8-acre parcel that will be developed into around 192 single-family homes.

The key thing here is that this will involve an amendment to the General Plan land use designation of the site from Agriculture to Residential and also a rezoning.

Anytime you make a general plan amendment it is subject to Measure J voter approval.

In other words, it would have to go before the voters for approval. The city since 2005 has gone through two bitterly divisive campaigns on growth. The first, Covell Village in November of 2005 was soundly and thoroughly defeated. The second, just this week, was approved by the narrowest of margins in the form of the construction of a Target.

The City Council figures to try to push this one through as well, leaving city residents once again divided on the issue of growth. Moreover at the pace of these enactments, you can figure that the city council is trying to wear down the opposition. The developers largely will front the money for these campaigns, just as Target did this fall, and it is up to the grassroots citizen groups to organize against. While the Target people put up a valiant fight against Measure K, it was somewhat smaller than the effort against Covell Village and this time the council was able to eek out a narrow victory.

Right now the applicant has requested that this project be placed on the ballot in November of 2007. If this ends up on the ballot in November of 2007, figure that the progressive community will be suffering from exhaustion. Fortunately, city staff does not believe that’s enough time to deal with the legal and practical constraints of the Environmental Impact report. Thus a 2008 ballot measure would be more feasible. However, we need to remember that since 2008 is a Presidential election, that means there is a March primary rather than a June one. That extends the time period only by four months at the most.

Regardless of whatever machinations come forth on Tuesday, it’s obvious that this item will pass 3-2 and that eventually the Davis voters will once again have to weigh in on a development project that is likely to bitterly divide the city. While Measure J provides us with a bit of a firewall against growth, the only real defense is a 3-2 majority on the City Council so that these projects will not go forward to begin with. We have less than one year and a half before the next council elections and that is where we really need to find a way to pick up a third vote on the council.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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36 thoughts on “Wildhorse Ranch: The Next Big Development Controversy”

  1. davisite

    The developer interests on the council may have come up with a good scheme with this project. 29 acres may not seem like a serious threat to most Davis voters and , while I am now totally ignorant of the details of this project,it could very well not appear to dramatically change the residential housing picture around the Wildhorse development. I believe that there will be a full frontal assault on Measure J when it comes up for mandatory presentation to the voters for renewal.. There is no provision in the current Measure J that demands that an unaltered Measure J be presented to the voters and there doesn’t appear to be any prohibition against a council majority making these alterations. It is vital that those who want to keep Measure J intact and strong not “go ballistic” over this project if it is not a serious assault on reasonable residential growth plans. Appearing unreasonable and rigidly ideological on this matter
    may give the gang of three the political cover they need to emasculate Measure J.

  2. davisite

    The developer interests on the council may have come up with a good scheme with this project. 29 acres may not seem like a serious threat to most Davis voters and , while I am now totally ignorant of the details of this project,it could very well not appear to dramatically change the residential housing picture around the Wildhorse development. I believe that there will be a full frontal assault on Measure J when it comes up for mandatory presentation to the voters for renewal.. There is no provision in the current Measure J that demands that an unaltered Measure J be presented to the voters and there doesn’t appear to be any prohibition against a council majority making these alterations. It is vital that those who want to keep Measure J intact and strong not “go ballistic” over this project if it is not a serious assault on reasonable residential growth plans. Appearing unreasonable and rigidly ideological on this matter
    may give the gang of three the political cover they need to emasculate Measure J.

  3. davisite

    The developer interests on the council may have come up with a good scheme with this project. 29 acres may not seem like a serious threat to most Davis voters and , while I am now totally ignorant of the details of this project,it could very well not appear to dramatically change the residential housing picture around the Wildhorse development. I believe that there will be a full frontal assault on Measure J when it comes up for mandatory presentation to the voters for renewal.. There is no provision in the current Measure J that demands that an unaltered Measure J be presented to the voters and there doesn’t appear to be any prohibition against a council majority making these alterations. It is vital that those who want to keep Measure J intact and strong not “go ballistic” over this project if it is not a serious assault on reasonable residential growth plans. Appearing unreasonable and rigidly ideological on this matter
    may give the gang of three the political cover they need to emasculate Measure J.

  4. davisite

    The developer interests on the council may have come up with a good scheme with this project. 29 acres may not seem like a serious threat to most Davis voters and , while I am now totally ignorant of the details of this project,it could very well not appear to dramatically change the residential housing picture around the Wildhorse development. I believe that there will be a full frontal assault on Measure J when it comes up for mandatory presentation to the voters for renewal.. There is no provision in the current Measure J that demands that an unaltered Measure J be presented to the voters and there doesn’t appear to be any prohibition against a council majority making these alterations. It is vital that those who want to keep Measure J intact and strong not “go ballistic” over this project if it is not a serious assault on reasonable residential growth plans. Appearing unreasonable and rigidly ideological on this matter
    may give the gang of three the political cover they need to emasculate Measure J.

  5. Doug Paul Davis

    What would hurt them is if this comes to ballot at the same time as the city council elections (which seems the most likely) because that means you will have candidates carrying the water on this issue in addition to grassroots mobilization.

    I love the no on Target people, but had they mobilized for Stan and Lamar the same way they mobilized against Measure K, Measure K never would have come to the fore.

  6. Doug Paul Davis

    What would hurt them is if this comes to ballot at the same time as the city council elections (which seems the most likely) because that means you will have candidates carrying the water on this issue in addition to grassroots mobilization.

    I love the no on Target people, but had they mobilized for Stan and Lamar the same way they mobilized against Measure K, Measure K never would have come to the fore.

  7. Doug Paul Davis

    What would hurt them is if this comes to ballot at the same time as the city council elections (which seems the most likely) because that means you will have candidates carrying the water on this issue in addition to grassroots mobilization.

    I love the no on Target people, but had they mobilized for Stan and Lamar the same way they mobilized against Measure K, Measure K never would have come to the fore.

  8. Doug Paul Davis

    What would hurt them is if this comes to ballot at the same time as the city council elections (which seems the most likely) because that means you will have candidates carrying the water on this issue in addition to grassroots mobilization.

    I love the no on Target people, but had they mobilized for Stan and Lamar the same way they mobilized against Measure K, Measure K never would have come to the fore.

  9. davisite

    I think that rezoning the Wildhorse Ranch from agriculture to allow for residential development will be acceptable to at least a slim majority of Davis voters unless there are prohibitive issues that I am unaware of now. NO on Measure X passed overwhelmingly and demonstrated that Measure J has “teeth” and that populism is strong in Davis. Every time that a No vote on a Measure J issue loses, it weakens Measure J and populism.

  10. davisite

    I think that rezoning the Wildhorse Ranch from agriculture to allow for residential development will be acceptable to at least a slim majority of Davis voters unless there are prohibitive issues that I am unaware of now. NO on Measure X passed overwhelmingly and demonstrated that Measure J has “teeth” and that populism is strong in Davis. Every time that a No vote on a Measure J issue loses, it weakens Measure J and populism.

  11. davisite

    I think that rezoning the Wildhorse Ranch from agriculture to allow for residential development will be acceptable to at least a slim majority of Davis voters unless there are prohibitive issues that I am unaware of now. NO on Measure X passed overwhelmingly and demonstrated that Measure J has “teeth” and that populism is strong in Davis. Every time that a No vote on a Measure J issue loses, it weakens Measure J and populism.

  12. davisite

    I think that rezoning the Wildhorse Ranch from agriculture to allow for residential development will be acceptable to at least a slim majority of Davis voters unless there are prohibitive issues that I am unaware of now. NO on Measure X passed overwhelmingly and demonstrated that Measure J has “teeth” and that populism is strong in Davis. Every time that a No vote on a Measure J issue loses, it weakens Measure J and populism.

  13. Doug Paul Davis

    What weakens it, is that these development projects are coming incrementally–and so, if you look at the single-issue of Wildhorse, hey it’s not that big a deal. 192 units, none of them tremendously huge, no big deal. But then look at the big picture: Covell Village in 2005, Target 2006, Wildhorse now in 2008… They are spreading us out and wearing us down, and hitting us in little chunks. Covell Village taught them to be more modest in their proposals.

  14. Doug Paul Davis

    What weakens it, is that these development projects are coming incrementally–and so, if you look at the single-issue of Wildhorse, hey it’s not that big a deal. 192 units, none of them tremendously huge, no big deal. But then look at the big picture: Covell Village in 2005, Target 2006, Wildhorse now in 2008… They are spreading us out and wearing us down, and hitting us in little chunks. Covell Village taught them to be more modest in their proposals.

  15. Doug Paul Davis

    What weakens it, is that these development projects are coming incrementally–and so, if you look at the single-issue of Wildhorse, hey it’s not that big a deal. 192 units, none of them tremendously huge, no big deal. But then look at the big picture: Covell Village in 2005, Target 2006, Wildhorse now in 2008… They are spreading us out and wearing us down, and hitting us in little chunks. Covell Village taught them to be more modest in their proposals.

  16. Doug Paul Davis

    What weakens it, is that these development projects are coming incrementally–and so, if you look at the single-issue of Wildhorse, hey it’s not that big a deal. 192 units, none of them tremendously huge, no big deal. But then look at the big picture: Covell Village in 2005, Target 2006, Wildhorse now in 2008… They are spreading us out and wearing us down, and hitting us in little chunks. Covell Village taught them to be more modest in their proposals.

  17. Rob Westergaard

    I love the no on Target people, but had they mobilized for Stan and Lamar the same way they mobilized against Measure K, Measure K never would have come to the fore.

    I’ve been reading this blog more than I care to admit in the last couple of months, and find myself agreeing with you most of the time. This is not one of those times.

    No one was more aware of the stakes in the June 2006 city council election than the No on K campaigners. We walked precincts, did our own phone bank, stuck umpteen lawn signs into the ground, networked with our neighbors all over town and wrote dozens of letters to the editor on Stan and Lamar’s behalf.

    If you’re going to play the “woulda coulda” game, start by looking at all of the “progressive” candidates who ran in the March 2004 City Council election and split the vote to the point that Saylor and Souza could get elected. If they could have set their egos aside long enough to see the bigger picture, Measure K never would have come to the fore, either.

  18. Rob Westergaard

    I love the no on Target people, but had they mobilized for Stan and Lamar the same way they mobilized against Measure K, Measure K never would have come to the fore.

    I’ve been reading this blog more than I care to admit in the last couple of months, and find myself agreeing with you most of the time. This is not one of those times.

    No one was more aware of the stakes in the June 2006 city council election than the No on K campaigners. We walked precincts, did our own phone bank, stuck umpteen lawn signs into the ground, networked with our neighbors all over town and wrote dozens of letters to the editor on Stan and Lamar’s behalf.

    If you’re going to play the “woulda coulda” game, start by looking at all of the “progressive” candidates who ran in the March 2004 City Council election and split the vote to the point that Saylor and Souza could get elected. If they could have set their egos aside long enough to see the bigger picture, Measure K never would have come to the fore, either.

  19. Rob Westergaard

    I love the no on Target people, but had they mobilized for Stan and Lamar the same way they mobilized against Measure K, Measure K never would have come to the fore.

    I’ve been reading this blog more than I care to admit in the last couple of months, and find myself agreeing with you most of the time. This is not one of those times.

    No one was more aware of the stakes in the June 2006 city council election than the No on K campaigners. We walked precincts, did our own phone bank, stuck umpteen lawn signs into the ground, networked with our neighbors all over town and wrote dozens of letters to the editor on Stan and Lamar’s behalf.

    If you’re going to play the “woulda coulda” game, start by looking at all of the “progressive” candidates who ran in the March 2004 City Council election and split the vote to the point that Saylor and Souza could get elected. If they could have set their egos aside long enough to see the bigger picture, Measure K never would have come to the fore, either.

  20. Rob Westergaard

    I love the no on Target people, but had they mobilized for Stan and Lamar the same way they mobilized against Measure K, Measure K never would have come to the fore.

    I’ve been reading this blog more than I care to admit in the last couple of months, and find myself agreeing with you most of the time. This is not one of those times.

    No one was more aware of the stakes in the June 2006 city council election than the No on K campaigners. We walked precincts, did our own phone bank, stuck umpteen lawn signs into the ground, networked with our neighbors all over town and wrote dozens of letters to the editor on Stan and Lamar’s behalf.

    If you’re going to play the “woulda coulda” game, start by looking at all of the “progressive” candidates who ran in the March 2004 City Council election and split the vote to the point that Saylor and Souza could get elected. If they could have set their egos aside long enough to see the bigger picture, Measure K never would have come to the fore, either.

  21. Doug Paul Davis

    Rob: That was unfair of me and I apologize. You guys did an absolutely wonderful job on Measure K and you are absolutely right, the inability of the progressives to unify in 2004 was a huge part of where we are now.

  22. Doug Paul Davis

    Rob: That was unfair of me and I apologize. You guys did an absolutely wonderful job on Measure K and you are absolutely right, the inability of the progressives to unify in 2004 was a huge part of where we are now.

  23. Doug Paul Davis

    Rob: That was unfair of me and I apologize. You guys did an absolutely wonderful job on Measure K and you are absolutely right, the inability of the progressives to unify in 2004 was a huge part of where we are now.

  24. Doug Paul Davis

    Rob: That was unfair of me and I apologize. You guys did an absolutely wonderful job on Measure K and you are absolutely right, the inability of the progressives to unify in 2004 was a huge part of where we are now.

  25. ebjlb

    This one project, Wildhorse Ranch, wedged between the residential developments on either side, is something that we should not go to the mat over right before Measure J comes up for renewal. Those who pressed for the creation of Measure J should not be seen as out of step( a distinctly minority vote) when Wildhorse Ranch
    development is being considered. If the public sentiment opportunity presents itself to the gang of three to neuter Measure J, , we can expect that they will and we will then see MAJOR developer pressures for annexation. Also, I am not certain that being a proponent of the Wildhorse Ranch development would not be a plus for those developer interest candidates who would run on this issue in the next council election…sometimes….. you just have to give them One and make it a non-issue.

  26. ebjlb

    This one project, Wildhorse Ranch, wedged between the residential developments on either side, is something that we should not go to the mat over right before Measure J comes up for renewal. Those who pressed for the creation of Measure J should not be seen as out of step( a distinctly minority vote) when Wildhorse Ranch
    development is being considered. If the public sentiment opportunity presents itself to the gang of three to neuter Measure J, , we can expect that they will and we will then see MAJOR developer pressures for annexation. Also, I am not certain that being a proponent of the Wildhorse Ranch development would not be a plus for those developer interest candidates who would run on this issue in the next council election…sometimes….. you just have to give them One and make it a non-issue.

  27. ebjlb

    This one project, Wildhorse Ranch, wedged between the residential developments on either side, is something that we should not go to the mat over right before Measure J comes up for renewal. Those who pressed for the creation of Measure J should not be seen as out of step( a distinctly minority vote) when Wildhorse Ranch
    development is being considered. If the public sentiment opportunity presents itself to the gang of three to neuter Measure J, , we can expect that they will and we will then see MAJOR developer pressures for annexation. Also, I am not certain that being a proponent of the Wildhorse Ranch development would not be a plus for those developer interest candidates who would run on this issue in the next council election…sometimes….. you just have to give them One and make it a non-issue.

  28. ebjlb

    This one project, Wildhorse Ranch, wedged between the residential developments on either side, is something that we should not go to the mat over right before Measure J comes up for renewal. Those who pressed for the creation of Measure J should not be seen as out of step( a distinctly minority vote) when Wildhorse Ranch
    development is being considered. If the public sentiment opportunity presents itself to the gang of three to neuter Measure J, , we can expect that they will and we will then see MAJOR developer pressures for annexation. Also, I am not certain that being a proponent of the Wildhorse Ranch development would not be a plus for those developer interest candidates who would run on this issue in the next council election…sometimes….. you just have to give them One and make it a non-issue.

  29. davisite

    These smaller development projects are creeping up on the limiting capacity of our waste water treatment facility. It is much better to creep up on this growth -limiting issue rather than to surge ahead and overshoot it, leaving us with no other option but additional massive development to pay for a new wastewater treatment plant.

  30. davisite

    These smaller development projects are creeping up on the limiting capacity of our waste water treatment facility. It is much better to creep up on this growth -limiting issue rather than to surge ahead and overshoot it, leaving us with no other option but additional massive development to pay for a new wastewater treatment plant.

  31. davisite

    These smaller development projects are creeping up on the limiting capacity of our waste water treatment facility. It is much better to creep up on this growth -limiting issue rather than to surge ahead and overshoot it, leaving us with no other option but additional massive development to pay for a new wastewater treatment plant.

  32. davisite

    These smaller development projects are creeping up on the limiting capacity of our waste water treatment facility. It is much better to creep up on this growth -limiting issue rather than to surge ahead and overshoot it, leaving us with no other option but additional massive development to pay for a new wastewater treatment plant.

  33. lcolumbia

    Just blows me away why this city doesn’t finish the job before moving on to bigger developments. There are plenty of sites throughout Davis city limits that are still undeveloped and hence not in need of a Measure J vote. If they would actually work with the neighborhoods instead of trying to cram unreasonable developments down everyone’s throats, then maybe things could be developed on a more reasonable schedule …instead of having to battle every 2 years and win (if winning means alienating half of Davis) or possibly lose. It’s often best to use the “Well, would I want it to be built near me?” yardstick. If you don’t want it, chances are no one else does either! (this includes housing as well as retail) Again, I’m naive and ideological but how about (now stay with me here) NOT bending more neighborhoods over a barrel to feed your ego and political advancements.

  34. lcolumbia

    Just blows me away why this city doesn’t finish the job before moving on to bigger developments. There are plenty of sites throughout Davis city limits that are still undeveloped and hence not in need of a Measure J vote. If they would actually work with the neighborhoods instead of trying to cram unreasonable developments down everyone’s throats, then maybe things could be developed on a more reasonable schedule …instead of having to battle every 2 years and win (if winning means alienating half of Davis) or possibly lose. It’s often best to use the “Well, would I want it to be built near me?” yardstick. If you don’t want it, chances are no one else does either! (this includes housing as well as retail) Again, I’m naive and ideological but how about (now stay with me here) NOT bending more neighborhoods over a barrel to feed your ego and political advancements.

  35. lcolumbia

    Just blows me away why this city doesn’t finish the job before moving on to bigger developments. There are plenty of sites throughout Davis city limits that are still undeveloped and hence not in need of a Measure J vote. If they would actually work with the neighborhoods instead of trying to cram unreasonable developments down everyone’s throats, then maybe things could be developed on a more reasonable schedule …instead of having to battle every 2 years and win (if winning means alienating half of Davis) or possibly lose. It’s often best to use the “Well, would I want it to be built near me?” yardstick. If you don’t want it, chances are no one else does either! (this includes housing as well as retail) Again, I’m naive and ideological but how about (now stay with me here) NOT bending more neighborhoods over a barrel to feed your ego and political advancements.

  36. lcolumbia

    Just blows me away why this city doesn’t finish the job before moving on to bigger developments. There are plenty of sites throughout Davis city limits that are still undeveloped and hence not in need of a Measure J vote. If they would actually work with the neighborhoods instead of trying to cram unreasonable developments down everyone’s throats, then maybe things could be developed on a more reasonable schedule …instead of having to battle every 2 years and win (if winning means alienating half of Davis) or possibly lose. It’s often best to use the “Well, would I want it to be built near me?” yardstick. If you don’t want it, chances are no one else does either! (this includes housing as well as retail) Again, I’m naive and ideological but how about (now stay with me here) NOT bending more neighborhoods over a barrel to feed your ego and political advancements.

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