By E. Roberts Musser –
Age-qualified senior housing development
With home ownership
A community lodge
Fitness center and spa
Onsite joint medical provider clinic with telemedicine capabilities
Homeowners association that would be responsible for maintenance
CHA believes that “the segment of the housing market in Davis that has been totally neglected for 30 years is the Davis senior household, who desires to downsize, and has a median income of $59,000 and a paid for or nearly paid for house”. They go further on to say “…a good percentage of these individuals were not interested in only 900 sq. ft. homes, but in home sizes that ranged between 900 and 2400 sq. ft.”. Added to that is the comment, “They wanted to be able to take the best of what they have and enjoy the age sensitive amenities…the CHA model offers”.
CHA members have been in consultation with city staff and the owners of the Cannery property, ConAgra. Of the 610 homes proposed for construction at the Cannery site, CHA wishes 80% of the residences to be an age-qualified senior housing development of their specific vision as described above. Apparently the talks have not been particularly fruitful, since CHA expressed their displeasure by saying in a letter to the ConAgra folks, “…in all frankness we do not believe that our objectives can be met with your proposal for a “multi-generational” project in which seniors are a minority and which does not offer a significant portion of the amenities, which would make the project attractive to seniors”.
CHA continually implies it represents seniors in Davis with phrases such as:
- “we may have diametrically opposed objectives [to ConAgra] for what may be in the best interests of…seniors”;
- “we…believe…this will be the…best opportunity to address senior needs in this community”;
- “amenities and services essential to the health and welfare of seniors”;
- “clustering of seniors may be necessary in order to achieve the kind of homeowners’ association most seniors…desire”;
- “CHA represents the desires of…400 Davis resident members and the views contributed by 1,200 participants in …group meetings”;
- “[seniors] want to have home ownership, but a different type of home…”;
- “homeownership solution for seniors, today’s new agers”;
- “serving the unmet needs of Davis seniors”;
- “This extensive outreach effort has allowed us to gain a better understanding of what Davis residents are looking for as they plan for their future”.
As a discussion ensued at the Commission meeting, some interesting points cropped up:
- CHA member Don Villarejo insisted neither developers Bill Streng nor John Whitcombe were members of the CHA organization; persevering there was no “leash” between CHA and Streng or Whitcomb; but admitted both these builders did support CHA’s vision for senior housing; and the pair were also present at the initial meetings establishing CHA.
- CHA believes by making a development age-qualified, so only one member must be 55 years or older, the development is “multi-generational”. (Mr. Villarejo noted that at least one CHA member has a situation in which a household member would be under age 55.)
- CHA member Don Villarejo conceded that “not everyone would like what we would like”.
- CHA admits it may have to make compromises, but insists it will “continue to push for what it needs”.
- When asked how CHA’s vision was in any way “affordable”, CHA member Don Villarejo floundered and offered the explanation that was a “tough question”; “economies of scale” would make houses and services “more affordable”; the price of houses was “going down”. Mr. Villarejo failed to explain how low or middle income homeowners could afford either the houses, or all the amenities envisioned to be paid for by a homeowners association monthly assessment: clubhouse, spa, exterior and yard maintenance.
- Confronted by the argument that what CHA is asking for goes against community principles of multigenerational diversity, Don Villarejo persisted CHA’s vision answered the needs of a growing older population; unnecessarily and incorrectly criticized the senior community University Retirement Commons for having no home ownership opportunities; and irrelevantly acknowledged “a town/gown dichotomy”.
- After inquiry was made on how such a large housing development as envisioned by the Cannery project would pencil out fiscally to the city – a city that is currently in dire economic straits and cannot provide current services to its citizens, let alone more services to a new 610 home development – Don Villarejo had a ready answer. He insisted if seniors downsized to a new residence, the tax basis for the old house would be stepped up to current present market value for a new buyer. How a stepped up tax basis for the new owner would translate to additional monies specifically for the general fund coffers of Davis to pay for additional city services was never explained.
- CHA is also implying that by down-sizing, seniors will be freeing up homes for families with children to purchase. Their conclusion is this will somehow “save” Davis schools from its budget crisis by adding students.
- When asked exactly what CHA wanted from the Senior Citizens Commission, CHA member Don Villarejo said CHA just wanted the opportunity to present their vision for senior housing.
- CHA refuses to believe that an AARP survey, that indicates approximately 85% of seniors wish to remain in their own homes, is even remotely accurate or reflective of what Davis seniors desire. However, it should be noted CHA fought mightily against having any public survey done of what Davis seniors do want.
City staff has tentatively scheduled a presentation to the Davis Senior Citizens Commission on land use planning, and the Cannery project in particular, on April 11 at 6 p.m. at the Davis Senior Center.
Elaine Roberts Musser is an attorney who concentrates her efforts on elder law and aging issues, especially in regard to consumer affairs. If you have a comment or particular question or topic you would like to see addressed in this column, please make your observations at the end of this article in the comment section.