Active adults want to downsize but options are few
(Sponsored article – paid for by West Davis Active Adult Community) – The news is a familiar story: People who work in Davis want to live and retire here, often with their extended family.
As of July 26, the median price of a single-family home in Davis is $636,000, according to Zillow. That price has gone up 9.9 percent in the last year, and is forecast to increase another 5 percent in the year ahead. Fewer than 100 homes were listed for sale. Of those, 44 fell at or below the median price.
This housing shortage continues to drive the price out of reach for UC Davis faculty, staff and other local employees, said Dave Taormino, a longtime Davis real estate developer and proponent of the West Davis Active Adult Community. Besides the obvious frustration among prospective home buyers, there’s a ripple effect on the school system.
Taormino’s new proposal for active adults and seniors offers a creative approach to ease that burden. He explains it like this: Approximately two-thirds of Davis resale homes are being purchased by families with young children. Meanwhile, many empty nesters have larger, under-utilized homes. But in Davis, there are few alternatives for older residents to downsize into single-story homes. Offering options for active adults, and helping them stay in town — in a traditional neighborhood and lifestyle — would free up those larger homes for families with children, he argues.
“About 5,000 homes are owned by residents age 50 or older. Offering ‘right-sized’ housing to active adults will help counter the dropping enrollment in the Davis Joint Unified School District,” he said. The district was forced to open spots for some 650 transfer students from outside the area last school year to fill in the vacancies. “Those families receive the benefit of Davis schools without paying the extra taxes and housing costs Davis residents do. At some point that is likely to be of concern to Davis residents.”
According to a July 11 report by the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, the Sacramento region is not keeping up with demand for housing, based on population growth. More immediately, UC Davis expects an additional 7,000 students over the next seven years, with most students housed on campus. Its Long-Range Development Plan anticipates an additional 2,500 faculty and staff members, many of whom will have school-age children. Local businesses need housing for their employees, and aging Davis residents need options.
“Good community planning should be thoughtful and focused,” Taormino said. “Focusing on people first, instead of just looking at a piece of land and asking, ‘How many houses, if any at all, can we fit here?’”
That’s how Taormino’s team approached the West Davis Active Adult neighborhood plan. The neighborhood is designed specifically for Davis’ older residents. It features 325 small to medium single-story homes ranging from 900 to 1,800 square feet, along with 150 affordable senior apartments. Eighty percent of the homes and all the apartments will be restricted to residents 55 and older. The remaining 20 percent will be attractive to families because of the homes’ sizes, he said. Since the project is on the city’s periphery — at Shasta Drive and West Covell Boulevard — it would go before Davis voters, likely in June 2018, if approved by the Davis City Council.
For active adults, especially those who have lived in the same home for decades, the transition to appropriate housing can feel overwhelming. To encourage the process, Taormino is developing a program with the Davis real estate community that would help older residents make the move seamless.
It all circles back to providing housing that meets Davis’ internal needs. “Imagine a Davis with a dwindling number of UC Davis faculty and staff living here,” Taormino said. “What’s going to happen to the character of our community as the prices continue to escalate, coupled with builders’ interest in constructing larger and more expensive homes as we see at The Cannery?”
He continued, “Davis, for the 50 years I’ve been here, has pride in being a family-oriented, inclusive community. This includes an active older population, which has increased significantly. As a group, they need more consideration, especially in housing size, design and choices.”
West Davis Active Adult Community is sponsoring this section on the Vanguard because we believe providing more information is better.