Former UCDMC CEO Working to Make Senior Housing Project a Reality​


(From Press Release) – Bob and Wendy Chason love their Davis home. Retired from his job as UC Davis Med Center CEO, and hers as Davis school librarian, they’ve hosted many events and family gatherings in the last 21 years.

But at ages 74 and 71, respectively, the 3,100-square-foot house is more than they need. And though they consider themselves “overly active seniors,” the house’s multiple levels, narrow doorways and expansive yard could prove problematic some day.

“It’s not an easy place for older people to get around,” Bob said.

However, there are few options if they want to downsize to a smaller, single-story, ADA-accessible house – and stay in Davis. That’s why Bob is volunteering his time and expertise to support a proposed senior housing development, the West Davis Active Adult Community.

At Shasta Drive and West Covell Boulevard, the West Davis Active Adult Community is designed to attract current Davis residents. It features 325 small to medium single-story homes, and affordable senior apartments. About 80 percent of the homes would be restricted to residents 55 and older. Since the project is on the city’s periphery, it would go before Davis voters, likely in spring 2018, if approved by the Davis City Council.

“I’ve had a longstanding interest in the whole topic of ‘aging in place’,” he said. “I know so many people in Davis who would like to move –  but move only once. And a lot of them are university staff and faculty.”

Chason led the Office of Student Affairs on campus before taking leadership roles at the UC Davis Medical Center, first as chief operating officer and then chief executive officer. Before retiring in 2006, he oversaw the introduction of telemedicine, electronic health records, expanded facilities, and the creation of the UC Davis Cancer Care Network.

The Chasons have lived in Davis since 1979 and raised two children here. They would love to see WDAAC come to fruition. They’re helping developer Dave Taormino incorporate amenities that would help them live and stay there.

The project draws from the latest UC Davis advances in smart technology, sustainable energy and green building practices.

Other UC Davis experts providing insight include Michael Siminovitch, director of the California Lighting Technology Center; and Tom Nesbitt, who is interim Vice Chancellor for Human Health Sciences, and a professor of Family and Community Medicine.

“What we’re really interested in doing is working with the newest and latest technology,” Chason said, “and making these as state of the art in regard to health as possible.”

They’ve reached out to the UC Davis Center for Healthy Aging, and would love to make WDAAC a demonstration project, showcasing UCD advancements and new products that use technology to help people who are aging.

Examples of technology they’re exploring include:

  • LED lighting that’s easier on your eyes in the middle of the night, smoothing the transition back to sleep.
  • Sensors to detect falls, either in the carpet, or through wearable devices or other monitors.
  • Smart refrigerators that notice if residents haven’t opened it in a while, signaling a nudge to eat.
  • Smart devices like Alexa, an intelligent personal assistant that responds to voice commands, and gives residents access to an on-call nurse, anytime.  “I’m trying to smarten her up,” Chason said about the Alexa device he’s testing at home. “We’re working with new ways to make her remind us about things, and make her smarter and better to use for older people.”
  • Easy access to telemedicine, helping people communicate with their physicians and supporting those in rehab after a hospital stay.
  • Delivery of medications from several nearby medical facilities.

Home plans incorporate wide doorways and showers, and accessibility for wheelchairs and walkers.

WDAAC would be close to Sutter Davis Hospital, which has an emergency room, Dignity Health and UC Davis medical offices. “We want them all to be involved,” Chason said. He also plans to make connections with Kaiser Permanente, which is across town.

The project is across from University Retirement Community, and includes plans for an expansion site for URC or a similar medical facility. Other project amenities include a public health and wellness center, pool, 2.6 miles of walking paths, an ag buffer, and restaurant with outside seating.

“A lot of people would like to continue their association with the university, so this is a way to make sure this happens,” Chason said. “We’re also hoping to work out systems of transportation to attend university events at Mondavi or athletic events, without having to drive.”

About 5,000 homes – 25 percent of those in Davis – are owned by residents age 50 or order. By making room for them to stay in town, it would free up larger homes for growing young families. This could counter the dropping birthrate in the Davis Joint Unified School District, which was forced to open spots for some 650 transfer students from outside the area this school year.

Plans for the 74-acre site call for 505 housing units. Of those, 284 would be single-family detached homes, 41 would be single-family attached homes, and 150 would be affordable senior apartments. Another 30 are anticipated for University Retirement Community expansion or a similar use. Single-story homes include: 1,400- to 1,800-square-foot houses along the greenway; 1,100- to 1,350-square-foot bungalows; 900- to 1,200-square-foot cottages; plus, small builder lots to accommodate custom or special needs. Estimated sale prices for the pre-planned single-family homes range from the mid-$300,000s to $700,000, and could be available in 2020.

The mission of the West Davis Active Adult Community is “to elevate ‘age in place’ to ‘thrive in place,’ with a thoughtful neighborhood design, blending the inclusiveness of Davis with principles that enhance older adult lifestyle.” Visit its website at

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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7 thoughts on “Former UCDMC CEO Working to Make Senior Housing Project a Reality​”

  1. Richard C

    For many seniors, having very low or no yard maintenance would be a big advantage.  When my parents got older they did not have energy or inclination to take care of a yard and so they let the yard go wild. I think that incorporating low maintenance yards into the plan would be a lot more important than the fancy high tech stuff that the marketing people like to talk about.

  2. Ron

    From article:  “Smart refrigerators that notice if residents haven’t opened it in a while, signaling a nudge to eat.”

    Refrigerator police.

    Seems like many people need a “nudge” in the opposite direction.


  3. Howard P

    “Bungalows” 1000-1300– SF?

    Spent 22 of the first 23 years of my life in a 850 SF house… 2 bd, 1 ba.  3 of us.

    Spent most of the next 15 years in a ‘spacious’ 3 bedroom, 2 bath house. 1350 SF… Us and 3 kids.

    The ‘bungalows’ look pretty spacious to me…

  4. Alan Pryor

    All of the so-called “high-tech” medical amenities offered by the developer here are routinely available on Amazon…nothing new here, folks.

    My objection with this development is they are offering rows and rows of cheap pre-manufactured housing spread out like a trailer court. This is nothing more than a Sun City-lite development and is an exact example of what you would see all over Florida or Arizona retirement communities. This is a project that is designed to maximize developer profits not serve the needs of Davis.

    What we really need is high density housing (like Cannery) particularly if they are expanding City borders. In fact, 284 single story detached homes on about 60+ acres is the very definition of sprawl. Why not have multi-story stacked flat condos where the number of units could be increased at least 3 fold. I understand that seniors have difficulty with stairs but the developer could incorporate another amazing innovation perfectly suitable for seniors – they call them elevators. And they are now using them all over town at other high density senior developments – wow!

  5. Eric Gelber

    I agree with Alan’s points. In addition, while age-restricted housing is lawful under specified circumstances, it’s also a mechanism to get around fair housing laws to permit discrimination against an otherwise protected class–families with children.

    The amenities typically offered in such communities–e.g., smaller units, accessibility–also meet the needs of other groups, including people with disabilities or those who need or can only afford smaller homes. Why should they be excluded based on age?

    Use of the terminology “active adult community” should also raise red flags. What does that mean? Are even seniors with disabilities or those who may need assistance in activities of daily living not welcome? Advertisements for housing developments with photos in which everyone pictured is white have been found to violate fair housing laws. Is not advertising a community for “active adults” similarly a subtle message as to who is not welcome?

    Segregated, age-restricted housing may be legal, but it’s not necessarily good policy.

  6. Greg Rowe

    I’ve attended several community meetings on this proposed project. It will not be 100% age restricted. Quoting from the project literature, “80% of the homes will be dedicated to those 55 and 20% of the homes will not be age restricted. This mixture of age groups will maintain an atmosphere and energy similar to traditional Davis neighborhoods.”  The project will be beneficial to older residents due to its proximity to the UCDMC primary care network office on West Covell, the Dignity health office, Sutter hospital, and the Marketplace shopping center. Burger Physical Therapy is also nearby.

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