Developers are looking at putting a housing project on the ballot, the West Davis Active Adult Community, along Covell Boulevard just west of the hospital. The project is designed to attract current Davis residents and their relatives. It features 325 small to medium single-story homes and 150 affordable senior apartments.
About 80 percent of the homes and all the apartments would be restricted to residents 55 and older.
“About 5,300 homes – more than 25 percent of those in Davis – are owned by residents age 50 or older,” project developer and real estate broker David Taormino said.
The developers of this project are looking to engage the community and have already published some articles in the Vanguard highlighting various aspects of the project.
The articles have created some pushback, both in the comment section of the Vanguard as well as letters in the Enterprise.
A few weeks ago, Elli Norris wrote of the article published in late May, “The article is well written, even persuasive — if you’re satisfied with a one-sided slant about the need to take care of our senior citizens and the active adult community.
“Yes, Davis has a housing shortage. Yes, rents are very high and there is a need for more affordable housing, but not just for seniors and active adults. How about UC Davis students?” she writes. “But back to active adults and seniors. Will this planned development of 325 (or is it 505?) housing units, 150 of which would be affordable senior units, meet the need?
“And then there’s the matter that this parcel, which lies outside the Davis city limits, must go through all the Davis city hoops and then face the voters of Davis. Remember Measure R? We get to say yay or nay to incorporation and rezoning.”
Ms. Norris notes that the project would go on the ballot perhaps as soon as Spring 2008, but we need more information from more neutral sources.
She concludes, “In the interests of full disclosure, I live at University Retirement Community, across the street from where this development might rise. I don’t know my position yet — that’s why I want good information to consider.”
This week, Elizabeth Sagehorn pushes back, “I read with interest the recent piece about a possible senior housing project near the hospital. I happen to be a senior and am very interested in such a project. My husband died recently and I need to downsize. I have a home and garden that would be perfect for a young family, but if I sell, where would I go?
“I have been going to open houses in Davis but the homes are very expensive and without the amenities that I currently enjoy. The new senior project sounds perfect for me.”
Of Ms. Norris’ letter: “She seems to be protesting something that is just in the planning stages and chides you for printing an informative article that I am sure is of interest to many. She uses the “D” word that raises the hackles of so many Davisites — developer. Gasp!
“Really, when did people who build stuff become such villains? Without developers, most of us would be living in tents. And as for housing for students, everywhere you look there are apartment buildings going up with students as the focus. How about something for the people who have an investment in this community? Who have lived here, worked here, raised children here?” she asks.
“I admire Ms. Norris for her life of financial acumen that allowed her to buy into the University Retirement Community, but while it is a wonderful place, it is too costly for many of us,” Ms. Sagehorn continues. “Davisites, please reserve judgment until more information is available about the senior housing complex. What you might look upon with disdain would be so welcome to many of us seniors. And remember, with any luck at all, someday you will be a senior citizen.”
While the May 26 article was written by the project applicants, it contains information that is quite useful for the voters.
In addition to laying out the project parameters, it notes that “the West Davis Active Adult Community would be close to Dignity Health and UC Davis medical offices. Organizers also hope to make connections with Kaiser Permanente in South Davis.”
It also notes that the project “draws from the latest UC Davis advances in smart technology, sustainable energy and green building practices.”
In addition to telemedicine, which would help people better communicate with the physicians, there are other advancements including sensors to detect falls, smart refrigerators, and small devices.
The article lays out the specifics of the project: “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 mid-$700,000, and could be available in 2020.”
In the end, the voters may well decide this project based on two issues: (1) how high the need is for additional senior housing; and (2) whether the design and layout of this project is optimal for peripheral development.
Clearly the project will have to overcome voter reluctance to vote for a peripheral subdivision. Thus far, the voters have had three Measure J/R votes before them – Covell Village, Wildhorse Ranch and Nishi – and all three were defeated.
A key question is what information is needed for the voters to make an informed decision, and whether articles of this sort provide the key discussion points to get that conversation going long before the project comes to a vote.
—David M. Greenwald reporting