Council Reverses Vote to Allow ADUs to Count Toward Affordable Housing Requirements

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AffordableHousing

In July of 2013, by a narrow 3-2 vote, the Davis City Council voted to amend the Affordable Housing Ordinance to allow credit for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs, or granny flats) to count toward inclusionary requirements on a 50 percent basis. Now, a little over a year later, by a 3-2 vote yet again, the council voted to rescind that decision.

Robb Davis moved to have staff return with an Affordable Housing ordinance that drops the ADU alternative, with an analysis of the impacts of the decision at this point.

Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis asked a critical question – when it came to Cannery, would there have been anything that prevented the city from simply requiring ADUs on that project, even absent the ordinance?

The answer was no.

He stated, “So we don’t need the ADU Affordable thing to get ADUs… Then that’s really the point. If we’re going to have affordable housing, then let’s have affordable housing. Let’s make sure it’s affordable. Let’s not call something that we have no guarantees are affordable, affordable.”

He would argue that the city still has the ability to require ADUs to provide lower cost housing options for students.

Once again, the council heard from the affordable housing community.

Luke Watkins, who has headed up several affordable housing projects in Davis, said that he would repeal what the city council did in 2013. “Generally speaking they just weaken the very long standing ordinance,” he told council. “There is no reason to exempt stacked flat condos, they’re really no different from the density of condos.” He added, “The idea of reducing the affordable housing requirement because the density is higher, it just all weakens the requirement and Davis is not an area where people are struggling to develop housing, we’re going back into a high growth mode, you’re just giving money away to the developer, every time you put in one of these exemptions.”

He added, “Everyone’s talking about innovation parks… but someone is going to be cleaning the toilets at those innovation parks and they need to be able to live here as well.”

Keith Blum from Mutual Housing California noted that “land dedication is very critical to the production of affordable housing, particularly in a relatively high priced community like Davis.” He said that Mutual Housing has concerns about Accessory Dwelling Units – “It’s not regulated. It has some fair housing issues.”

Darryl Rutherford from Sacramento Housing Alliance added that there is a huge commute to Sacramento and in reverse, and he said, “I think that part of the issue is that [there are] so many low wage workers that commute here. There are so many low wage type jobs that people can’t afford to live here.”

“If we’re as a city going to be addressing sustainability, environmental degradation, and things like that, it is incumbent upon us.. to really put the programs and policies in place that are going to help meet the need of that workforce here in the city of Davis,” he said. He wants to see Davis revert to a model where Affordable Housing is prioritized.

“Land dedication is a great option, but without the financial resources to develop affordable housing on these sites, projects are going to be further delayed,” he said.

Council, however, remained split. Rochelle Swanson and Brett Lee last July joined with Joe Krovoza to support the staff recommendation to allow ADUs to be counted toward affordable housing requirements.

Brett Lee said he was not in favor of the motion, and he noted that council did a survey of people living in ADUs, and while not a complete survey of the people living in some of the ADUs, “it seemed to indicate there was promise. This is a good way to provide actual units in a relatively short period of time,” he said. He argued that killing off ADUs will not necessarily free up more money for more preferred affordable housing programs.

Lucas Frerichs criticized the staff research on ADUs, calling it “at least in part, a Craigslist search.” He argued, “[The ordinance] was pushed through by the then-council in a way that circumvented a long-standing, well thought out, and well working affordable housing ordinance.” He called it a model for many in California. “Since the city of Davis changed its affordable housing ordinance, you’ve had other jurisdictions follow suit,” he said. “That previously had not been done in the region and that’s now happening.”

He said he has pushed for streamlining of ADUs. “I just don’t think they’re affordable housing and they’re certainly not big ‘A’ affordable housing.” He added that they are less expensive because they are small, but “there is no ability to achieve true affordability.”

Robb Davis agreed, arguing that low rents are “very different than affordable housing. Affordable housing is about means testing. It’s about making sure people that have a certain finance profile… are able to find housing and that’s a very different thing than the ADU without any monitoring, without any guarantees, without any restrictions.”

Rochelle Swanson said she disagreed that we are a leader, and noted that the cities that Lucas Frerichs mentioned – Dunnigan, Elk Grove, Folsom and Sacramento, among others, have big parcels, and we do not. “Shame on those communities if they made those changes saying Davis did it… Making decisions based on what other communities will do against our own interest is inappropriate.”

The council just like last year was split on this issue. This time they went the other direction in a 3-2 vote, with Robb Davis joining Dan Wolk and Lucas Frerichs to have staff bring back an ordinance to replace the ADU affordable requirement. The only change from last year’s vote was the composition of the council.

Joe Krovoza who supported the use of ADUs left the council while Robb Davis replaced him.

—David M. Greenwald 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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46 thoughts on “Council Reverses Vote to Allow ADUs to Count Toward Affordable Housing Requirements”

  1. Tia Will

    “Making decisions based on what other communities will do against our own interest is inappropriate.”

    I agree with Rochelle on this point only. And it is equally inappropriate for Davis to make growth decisions based on what is viewed as successful business strategies in other communities against our own interest as a unique community. If we truly want to serve the interests of all of our citizens including those of low and very low income, we will not adopt what essentially amount to a trickle down model on the local level but will insist on monitored provision of affordable housing. My kudos to the city council majority last night.

  2. Davis Progressive

    this is good decision. i completely agree with robb here.

    Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis asked a critical question – when it came to Cannery, would there have been anything that prevented the city from simply requiring ADUs on that project, even absent the ordinance.

    The answer was no.

    He stated, “So we don’t need the ADU Affordable thing to get ADUs… Then that’s really the point. If we’re going to have affordable housing, then let’s have affordable housing. Let’s make sure it’s affordable. Let’s not call something that we have no guarantees are affordable, affordable.”

    this is why i didn’t understand the original vote. if you want adu’s and see them as affordable – mandate it. but why count them as affordables when you don’t have to? to me that was the easy way out.

  3. SODA

    I felt the CC gave the most energy and thoughtful discussion to the affordable housing issue i have seen in a number of years. Often they have just accepted the report with little discussion. They questioned and discussed last night and that is good. It is a sticky issue and it needs discussion.

  4. Frankly

    Robb Davis has been showing his stripes as of late, and it has me worried that some of us did not get the City Council that we expected. It really is a shame that three of the CC members could not seem to think out of their social justice boxes and embrace a growing trend in highly dense urban areas throughout the world.

    Rochelle Swanson said she disagreed that we are a leader and noted that the cities that Lucas Frerichs mentioned – Dunnigan, Elk Grove, Folsom, Sacramento among others, have big parcels, and we do not.

    This point brings it home (pun intended). The city does not own land that could be used for this. They owned Mace 391 and might have included some affordable housing there, but then gave that away for a $500,000 loss. As the “greenbelt” crisis in WIld Horse proves, existing residence will fight high density development in their neighborhoods. And peripheral housing development with Measure R is a thing of the past unless it gives goodies to all the stakeholder groups… which means also satiating those with concerns about too high density and connectivity and open space and senior homes and noise mitigation, etc., etc.,

    The CC could have focused on passing an ordinance that required means tested affordability.

    http://www.bizjournals.com/austin/blog/real-estate/2014/05/granny-flats-another-affordable-option-for-austin.html?page=all

    I’m sorry but we don’t seem to be very progressive these days. Liberal yes, but not progressive.

    1. Davis Progressive

      i think you missed the point that robb made – and lucas and dan – they want to do adu’s, they just want them to be in addition to the affordable requirements, not in lieu of them. that seems very progressive to me.

      1. Frankly

        They won’t be if they are not counted as such and don’t have affordability requirements.

        “Progressive” means creative and forward moving. Nothing about what the CC voted on is creative and forward moving.

        Here is the thing about affordable housing… people general acquire a rent or mortgage at the top of their affordability. So all we need to do is increase the supply of lower rental units and we will have more affordable housing. We should count everything if we want an accurate picture.

        I think one of things driving this decision is the potential for ACUs to count and reduce the “not enough affordable housing” alarms for those that want to use it to engineer society to their version of a social justice utopia. For example, when a new single family development is proposed, these people want to defeat it and demand higher density because we still don’t count enough affordable units. But if ACUs are affordable, they should be counted.

        1. Davis Progressive

          “They won’t be if they are not counted as such and don’t have affordability requirements.”

          the only difference now is that they won’t be counted as such, but they didn’t have affordability requirements previously under the ordinance, that was one of the strongest objections.

          1. Robb Davis

            So let me jump in here to make sure I am understanding your concern Frankly. A few points:

            1) The ADU ordinance last year allowed a builder to count an ADU has .5 an affordable unit BUT, there was no means testing to assure that people needing affordable housing actually lived in the ADU created. Because they are small the ADUs would have a lower rent and could be considered “affordable”. However, there was no monitoring set up so no way of knowing whether the person living in the unit was actually in need and qualified for the unit.

            2. The City Council could have built in ADU requirements at Cannery (or any other development) to assure they are being built and a stock of smaller units is on the market. They did NOT need this ordinance to do that.

            3. In recent weeks the City Council has taken steps to streamline the ADU process for individual homeowners across the city–and I supported this. We are changing review processes to make it easier for people to build ADUs on their properties. Thus, we are encouraging people to build them on their lots.

            4. If individual families build and ADU that they may use for rental or for an office or “granny flat” why should it be counted as affordable housing? In my view it should not for reasons stated above.

            So, I am not sure what you concern is on this but please help me. In new developments we can negotiate as many ADUs as we feel are necessary in the development agreement without this ordinance.

            Also, though David did not report it, I did propose a measure on in lieu fees last night (which staff is looking into), that I think you might find “progressive”. As it currently stands in small developments where there is no land dedication possible, developers must pay an in lieu fee that is to go towards affordable housing. This process creates uncertainty and there is no guarantee that the money will quickly go to obtain affordable units. My proposal was to offer developers the option of “purchasing” affordable units in existing market rate apartment units. They could negotiate any fee agreeable to them and the apartment owner. The owner gets cash in exchange for an agreement with the City to keep the unit affordable and can then figure out how to use cross subsidy within the apartment complex to keep it so. This would allow for a private transaction to quickly add affordable rentals on the market in existing apartments all over the city. Will if fly? We will find out. But I think we need to consider ideas like this to add affordable units.

            Please get back to me on your concerns about the ADUs. Also, we launched an RFP process last night to build a dense affordable housing project on 5th Street for very low income or special needs populations.

          2. Don Shor

            Also, we launched an RFP process last night to build a dense affordable housing project on 5th Street for very low income or special needs populations.

            Where on 5th Street?

          3. Don Shor

            It’s actually a fine location except that it’s a little far to go for groceries. I guess most of those folks will buy their groceries at Target.

          4. Frankly

            Nugget in South Davis is just over the overpass.

            And there is Grocery Outlet and Dollar Tree on 8th Street, right?

          5. Don Shor

            You’re assuming cars. Have you walked over that overpass? Biked it on a hot day? I’ve seen people doing that and admire their stamina. There’s a guy I see doing the one to Safeway (Poleline) almost every day in a non-motorized wheelchair.

          6. Frankly

            After Rays Market closed and before Delanos took over the Westlake Shopping center regional grocery location, all the people in West Davis had to go to Safeway at Covell and Sycamore. Have you ever walked there or rode a bike there on a hot or any other day?

            I think your grocery store proximity argument is missing perspective of the standards that already exist. Look at a map and where most people live and where the grocery stores are and you will note that this location is as good if not better than the majority of residential situations in Davis.

          7. Don Shor

            I lived out there before either shopping center was built (1976). Without a car, it was very challenging to do grocery shopping.
            The Fifth Street site is fine. But it is a little remote for lower-income people to meet their grocery needs. Let’s hope transit is adequate.

          8. hpierce

            Actually, it is a very good site… on one of the best Unitrans bus routes (based on service levels), adjacent to excellent on & off street bike facilities, close to Mace District Park, easy bicycle/ped distance to an elementary and a junior high school, etc.

          9. Frankly

            You really do not need “means testing” if you just ensure there are enough rental properties at a level of affordability. I think there is a hidden agenda there to mine other types of data other than renter economic circumstances.

            What is the concern… that well-off people will take up the cheaper rental properties? That is a bit absurd.

            Why does affordable housing require means testing?

          10. Frankly

            2. The City Council could have built in ADU requirements at Cannery (or any other development) to assure they are being built and a stock of smaller units is on the market. They did NOT need this ordinance to do that.

            As I understand, low income affordable housing is less lucrative to the developer. So there is going to be a limit to what the city can negotiate. And I think there is a percentage of the Davis population that does not really want more highly dense affordable housing even though they say they do. I think you will risk the development getting voted down if there isn’t a good mix of property types to satiate the diverse demands of the voting public.

            3. In recent weeks the City Council has taken steps to streamline the ADU process for individual homeowners across the city–and I supported this. We are changing review processes to make it easier for people to build ADUs on their properties. Thus, we are encouraging people to build them on their lots.

            This is a good thing. Bravo. Now let’s count those with low rents as addressing our affordable housing requirements and goals.

            4. If individual families build and ADU that they may use for rental or for an office or “granny flat” why should it be counted as affordable housing? In my view it should not for reasons stated above.

            If it rents as a new residence and has low enough rent, it should be counted as affordable housing.

            I will have to research your idea for an alternative to in-lieu of fees. I am not sure what I think about that.

            One thing for sure… since the Governor raided the RDA cookie jar for the teachers union, in-lieu of fees are much harder to do something with to help affordable housing.

          11. Don Shor

            since the Governor raided the RDA cookie jar for the teachers union, in-lieu of fees are much harder to do something with to help affordable housing.

            Here we go again — although in this instance I have actual questions. How much of the Davis RDA funds went to affordable housing projects ($, %)? Which ones? How well have they worked in providing affordable housing locally?
            Genuine questions, not rhetorical.

    2. South of Davis

      I just read the article posted by Frankly and was reminded that when an older couple in Davis adds a ADU to their home (even under Prop 13) the property taxes will go up, but with city, state and UC owned “affordable” housing the city and state get $0 in property taxes (and the schools get no parcel tax income).

    3. DT Businessman

      Frankly, Robb’s position on Affordable Housing should come as no surprise. He made his position absolutely clear on this issue during the campaign and is doing exactly what he said he was going to do. That’s why he had so much support. The voters felt he was genuine.

      -Michael Bisch

  5. Anon

    Is there some good reason for wanting to count the ADU’s as affordable? For instance, if the city cannot meet its affordable housing requirement, because it lacks the funding, what happens? And how hard and fast is the affordable housing requirement?

  6. South of Davis

    David wrote:

    > Council Reverses Vote to Allow ADU’s to Count Towards Affordable Housing Requirements

    It looks like the people that make millions off “Affordable” housing (and give politicians a “cut” of the millions they make) got to the city council to tell them that small affordable units built by non union labor and run by non union private citizens should not “count” as “affordable” housing since if it does “count” it will be harder to say we have a “crisis” and get millions of taxpayer money to for expensive union built housing that is run by union workers (plus a number of patronage jobs for the slacker kids of major donors). The big donors probably threatened to cut off all funds until the council members said out loud “a small studio built for $50K by a retired couple and rented for $500 a month is not “affordable” but a $500K apartment built by union labor and rented for $1K a month by a union management firm is “affordable””…

    1. Frankly

      Yup. That is part of it. Those that make their living doing things a certain way will pull out the stops to influence policy to allow them to keep doing that certain way.

    2. Robb Davis

      I can’t speak for anyone else but I did not, nor will I, take a cut of anything. I was not threatened by anyone and wouldn’t give a damn if I was. I proposed the motion in order to maintain the integrity of our affordable housing program. (And lest there be any confusion, my personal view is that we need to create MUCH more rental housing of all kinds and our affordable housing efforts should focus on rentals NOT on for-purchase homes. This is what I said during the campaign and this is what I am trying to help move forward. I also said, during the campaign that I thought the ADU ordinance was fundamentally flawed, so there is nothing new here. And I certainly was not “paid off” to take that position.)

      The change in the ordinance we voted on last night would not prevent a retired couple from building an ADU and renting if for $500. In fact, as I noted above, we recently took steps to enable people to do just that with less red tape. The problem with the ordinance in place is that it could ostensibly call such units “affordable housing” even if they housed no one or even if the person or people living in them were not in need. Why would we do that?

      Listen, if we need to have a conversation about how we might get affordable housing units (especially for very low income and special needs adults) using the private market I am ALL EARS. I find the government programs arcane, duplicative and confusing. You need to be an expert just to navigate the system of grants, tax breaks and low interest loans. It appears cumbersome and byzantine. BUT, I do not see the private sector lining up to provide for this market (who exactly was going to build a Cesar Chavez with its 5-year waiting list for special needs adults–many of whose families live in this town?), so I live with it. I am open to discussing reforms but am doubtful I can effect the necessary changes at a local level.

      1. Frankly

        Affordable housing is a world-wide challenge. But ultimately it is simply a supply and demand issue juxtaposed with the income levels of the population. Better jobs would allow people to better afford their housing costs. But Davis has a self-imposed lack of real estate inventory. It is completely absurd that we keep perpetuating the problem by rejecting housing development, and then wring our hands over the high cost of housing. Our meager vacancy rates are the main data point explaining the problem.

        I see another problem. The development of so much social engineering public policy and the public-sector and private-sector “business” that works to administer it has created a self-perpetuating monster. There are a number of people that have developed mastery of the subject matter and are pursuing their interest for continued work and personal meaning. They frankly do not REALLY want to solve the problems because they would then have nothing to do. Well they would have something to do if they were motivated to do something else, but that means they have to start over again gaining their mastery and accept the hit to their ego no longer feeling like the smartest guy in the room.

        It is why we need smaller government and more optimally-regulated free market solutions. Free markets do better supporting creative destruction for business that provides solutions no longer needed… because of competition. Government has no competitor. So government employees are pretty much free to perpetuate the things they like doing… the things that butter their bread and give them purpose.

        Name any significant government program or public policy that has been scrapped because we have solved the problem.

        There are not any.

        There will always be an “affordable housing crisis” because there are too many people in power with a vested interest to maintain that crisis.

        That is also part of the explanation of “the cut”.

        1. Robb Davis

          Frankly – I will respond to both of your responses to me here. Just quickly (we need a coffee sit down on a few things my friend–better get me before my stripes completely change 😉

          1. We live in a world in which markets do not function in the idealistic unfettered way that would make market solutions work for everything. That is why Econ 101 courses introduce the value of markets as well as all forms of market failure. You do not have to be a “big-government-is-the-solution-to-everything kind of person (which I am NOT) to understand that one role of the state is to step in to provide correction in the case of these failures. Now I get it… There will be loss of efficiency and attempts at legislative “capture” when this happens. But what is the alternative? When markets fail to provide they fail to provide.

          2. Means testing? Again, in a perfect world the markets would provide for all needs in an efficient way but who is going to provide housing (for example) for adults with special needs–be they mental, psychological or physical? How do we deal with very low income people who work in our community? Do we simply say: “live elsewhere”? Now I get your point, we NEED MORE RENTAL HOUSING, and I hope to work hard on that. But, I have no illusions that providing even lots more of it is going to bring rents down to take care of the needs of very low income or special needs adults. So, to me, there is a place for creating such housing and if we create it with subsidy we should make sure we keep such housing affordable in perpetuity.

          3. We likely disagree but I think that people in “power” should use that power to assure that vulnerable groups do no suffer. Show me an example of where the housing needs of very poor and special needs adults are met without some “preferential option for the poor.” Even Utah’s (apparently) wildly successful “housing first” model requires state intervention. What I have seen in HUNDREDS of communities around the world is that very poor and special needs people get shunted into unregulated favelas and slums even as they provide essential services for the citizens of the communities in which the live. Do we want that? Because that is all the market offers in most places.

          4. Yes, government is clumsy and inefficient but I reject the notion that dealing with fundamental market failures and having a preferential option for the poor is merely “social engineering”. I don’t live in that black and white world.

          1. Frankly

            Good stuff Robb. Plenty to discuss and room for both sides.

            But I promise you that a average 7% rental vacancy rate during the school year will do more for affordable housing than will any public policy.

            Isn’t special needs housing a different problem than affordable housing? It seems we are conflating two things and over-complicating them both.

          2. Robb Davis

            Special needs is part of it Frankly. It often involves the added need for resident support services. So, it is not the same as affordable housing for very low income families but it is part of the mix and we use affordable housing dollars locally to provide it.

            Just to be clear… What you are saying is that a 7% rental vacancy rate will provide 1-2 BR unit rents of $670-$750 per month which, according to City documents would provide for low income renters (low income=80% of Yolo County area median income). Keep in mind that rents of $670-$750 would not cover the needs of “very low” income earners (30-50% of area median income) or “extremely low” income earners (30% of area median income).

            (I think the above calculations assume that renters are spending no more than 30% of their income on housing).

            Okay, Frankly, I am out for the rest of the day but I want to say to everyone that I am open to hearing suggestions/comments/concerns on the issue of affordable housing. (rdavis@cityofdavis.org)

          3. Frankly

            Higher vacancy rates of standard student-quality rental would cause rents to fall to cover more of the very-low income renters.

            The way I look at it, we should have targets for the number of units of certain classes of residential properties and we should be working to maintain adequate supply, and then we should get the hell out of the way and let the market do what it does.

            How many “very low” income earners are we responsible for when they have more affordable alternative just down the road in Woodland, Dixon and West Sacramento?

            If you are just talking about Davis workers, first, I think a large percentage of people living in Davis work outside of Davis, so why isn’t there the same reciprocal concern and demanding more jobs be created? People living in West Sac, Woodland or Dixon and working in Davis is not a crisis.

            And if we increase the supply of jobs, there will be more competition for labor and wages will rise and that will help with housing affordability for Davis workers.

          4. Don Shor

            We’re not going to get to 7%. We’d be lucky to get to 5%, and that would take a concerted joint effort by the city and the university. More to the point, the rate has been under 2% for most of the last two decades. That’s causing poor people to pay a rent surcharge to live and work here.
            The problem is that affordable housing advocates are rather myopically thinking in terms of low-income families. It’s the low-income single adults who work here that have a shortage of housing.
            The council needs to form a subcommittee to work with UCD to get them moving toward providing 40% of their students with housing, and to identify sites that can be developed with more apartments. It’s a shared responsibility and should be a shared goal. But I’m not persuaded that university officials even acknowledge the problem or accept that they have failed to live up to their end of the housing bargain for decades now.

          5. South of Davis

            Rob wrote:

            > Keep in mind that rents of $670-$750
            > would not cover the needs of “very low”
            > income earners (30-50% of area median
            > income)

            But “renting a room” would cover the needs of the very poor (I just went to Craig’s List and saw some rooms for rent in Davis for under $400/month). It would be “nice” to let everyone have their own place, but sharing an apartment and splitting the rent (something I did for decades) is not that bad…

      2. South of Davis

        Robb wrote:

        > I can’t speak for anyone else but I did not, nor will I, take a cut of anything.

        I have a lot of respect for Robb but (since he is new to this) the people that get rich off your decisions have MANY ways to get you to make the decisions they want without actually getting you in a back room and offering you a “cut”. I don’t think that the (Nobel Peace Prize winner) I voted for (partly because I thought the military industrial complex had less control over him than the other guy) is getting a “cut” from the millions of profits he gave to many companies after his recent attack on Syria, but they still got the “anti-war/peace prize guy” to bomb yet another country (with expensive US made bombs).

        > who exactly was going to build a Cesar Chavez with its
        > 5-year waiting list for special needs adults–many of whose
        > families live in this town?

        Cesar Chaves has just 18 units for disabled/special needs adults and it is important to note that the ONLY way to have a place for these special needs adults to live in Davis was not to get a site from a politically connected (Bohemian Club member) local individual, then pay New Hope AND (recent Davis lawsuit winner) Neighborhood Partners to put the deal together and pay WAY above market to build the crappy little apartments next to the freeway and a self storage facility (and now walled off from the city with a UP fence) then hire super connected (second generation Stanford grad) multi-millionaire John Stewart to manage the place in addition to giving the Yolo County Housing Authority management money. Forgetting any of the money spent to develop CCP Davis could have MORE special needs adults paying LESS rent and closer to their families in other apartments in town if we just gave them money every month (but ALL the people that make LOTS of money on “affordable” housing don’t want anyone to know this.

        > We live in a world in which markets do not function in the idealistic
        > unfettered way that would make market solutions work for everything.
        > That is why Econ 101 courses introduce the value of markets as well
        > as all forms of market failure.

        The government has learned that it can mess with econ 101 and get paid a lot of money (a forner boss gave seven figures a year to politicians and calculated the ‘ROI”). If we let the markets work, they will work. If we build a lot of homes in Davis prices will come down (making current home owners mad) if we built a lot of apartments in Davis rents will come down (making Tandem and others mad) and if we build a lot of office apace in town office rents will come down (making office owners made but probably increasing commissions for leasing brokers). I’m betting that Robb can’s name a SINGLE time when the supply of something got bigger than the demand when the price did not come down.

        The bottom line is if the city wants to help poor people rent apartments in town they should just give the poor money to lower market rent, not spend millions that flows to the politically connected and give the poor just a small rent reduction (many people in “subsidized”/”affordable” housing in Davis could actually rent a similar size (older not as fancy) “market rate” apartment in town for LESS money (but that would mean the “poor” would have to live in an older non remodeled place Iike I do, rather than a fancy a new place like “New Harmony” with granite countertops)….

        1. Don Shor

          Cesar Chaves has just 18 units for disabled/special needs adults and it is important to note that the ONLY way to have a place for these special needs adults to live in Davis was not to get a site from a politically connected (Bohemian Club member) local individual, then pay New Hope AND (recent Davis lawsuit winner) Neighborhood Partners to put the deal together and pay WAY above market to build the crappy little apartments next to the freeway and a self storage facility (and now walled off from the city with a UP fence) then hire super connected (second generation Stanford grad) multi-millionaire John Stewart to manage the place in addition to giving the Yolo County Housing Authority management money.

          Don’t take this wrong, but I couldn’t follow that rather long sentence.
          Who owned the site?
          Who put together the deal, and for what fee?
          Who manages it, and for what fee?
          How much does YCHA get?
          Bottom line: how much is it costing to provide these 18 units?
          I think this is important information as we discuss the current City of Davis affordable housing policies.

          1. South of Davis

            Don wrote:

            > Who owned the site?

            Some nice people I don’t want to name (who have been donating to local politicians for decades)…

            > Who put together the deal, and for what fee?

            Lots of people were involved in the deal I would love to see the “grand total” but for projects like this designed to get taxpayer cash to the politically connected they are very good at hiding the total paying different people out of different pots of money. The City of Davis, the YCHA, New Hope, and Neighborhood Partners were all involved with putting together the deal I would love to see the grand total of fees and costs.

            > Who manages it, and for what fee?
            http://jsco.net/city/davis/
            Remember the “management fee” is just the tip of the (boatload of taxpayer cash) iceberg. It is important to find out the total cost by adding up the TCOE of ALL the employees that work there and asking about other fees including “construction management” fees. I just read that the old Stanford Hotel in SF has a $10mm renovation and I was thinking off all the HUD management contracts I’ve seen with a 10% “construction management fee” and I was thinking “wow” a million bucks is not bad money for calling a contractor…

            > How much does YCHA get?

            I would love to know (they are also great at hiding numbers that often include other “programs” for the residents (aka patronage jobs for friends).

            > Bottom line: how much is it costing to provide
            > these 18 units?

            If we add back all the property taxes (and parcel taxes) that the city, state and school district it is probably costing a little more than it would cost to BUY the people nice homes in Woodland…

          2. Frankly

            I hate this type of thing. The social service non-profit executive director living high on the hog thanks to government programs that funnel so much money into her pocket for doing things that can be done much more cheaply through private, for-profit, channels.

            The good news here is that since 2009, the IRS and FASB rules for non-profits, 501(c)3 and 501(c)4, have changed to make it much more problematic and risky for personal greedy pursuits. Non-profits with over-compensated executives have had their non-profit status revoked and given a bill for back taxes, been fined, and the executives have even been jailed.

            But that does not change the fact that taxpayers are again having to fund these things at an extreme premium.

    3. DT Businessman

      I agree with the economics outlined by SoD. But I disagree with the motivation ascribed by SoD. Exactly who are these fat cat donors that backed Robb’s campaign?

      -Michael Bisch

    1. Frankly

      Hey… I would not live in one, but apparently they are all the rage for those socially conscious low-carbon-footprint folk.

      The irony here is that they are about the same size as the plastic green waste bins that Michele wants us all to have so we keep the planet greener.

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