West Davis Senior Proposal Has Local Housing Focus


One of the biggest criticisms of the Cannery Project is that it built primarily relatively low density single family housing that ended up on the more expensive side and, in order to fill the units, The New Homes Company has had to reach out to the Bay Area to draw residents.

In other words, the project is not meeting the internally generated needs so much as filling its housing by attracting new residents.

West Davis Active Adult Center developer David Taormino told the Vanguard this week that he believes his project will help with the Davis housing crisis by allowing seniors to move from existing homes in Davis and to downsize into the senior community.

But he is also fully aware that if the senior community simply attracts seniors from outside of the area, they are not filling internally generated needs.

Mr. Taormino points out that the language of Measure R itself contains critical language: “The purpose of this article is to establish a mechanism for direct citizen participation in land use decisions affecting city policies for compact urban form, agricultural land preservation and an adequate housing supply to meet internal city needs, by providing the people of the City of Davis the right to vote…”

For him the key language is “to meet internal city needs” and, in order to that, it means we need to provide housing for what would be considered internally generated needs: students, families looking to move up to own their own homes, and those who work here – and not for people in the Bay Area looking for more affordable forms of housing.

“The West Davis Active Adult Community is taking a progressive approach to bring new housing to the City of Davis,” new literature on the project claims. “In direct alignment with Measure R, our newly built homes will help provide ‘an adequate supply of housing to meet the internal needs of the City of Davis’ (partial Measure R wording) by focusing solely on Davis based buyers.”

How do they plan to do that?

They want to create qualifying classifications for the 80 percent of the homes that are age restricted, where buyers would have to meet one of six criteria: be a current Davis resident; have immediate family that currently resides in Davis; be a current or retired employee of UC Davis, City of Davis, Davis Joint Unified School District, or a Davis-based business; be a graduate of UC Davis or DJUSD; and about 10 percent of buyers could be unrelated to Davis.

There would be similar residency requirements for the 20 percent of the homes which are not age restricted.

David Taormino told the Vanguard that they have legal counsel checking the legality of the arrangement but his understanding is that such qualification guidelines are allowable.

The city attorney has yet to vet this part of the project proposal.  City Manager Mike Webb did not want to hazard a guess, stating, “I don’t have the experience with such qualifications criteria and this specific area of housing law to opine.”  He did state, “Staff will seek input from legal counsel of course.”

The developers of this project continue to try to move outside of the box in hopes of being able to pass a Measure R project.

Last month before the Social Services Commission, the commission heard the proposal for the affordable housing plan for the proposed West Davis Active Adult Community project, which includes 332 for-sale units along with 150 affordable senior apartments on a 75-acre parcel north of Covell Boulevard and west of Sutter Davis Hospital.

David Thompson of Neighborhood Partners is heading up the affordable portions of the project which, as developer Dave Taormino points out, is creating 2.5 times more senior housing than required for the ordinance.

Overall, on the project, 80 percent of the units are proposed to be entitled as a senior citizen housing development. The remaining 20 percent of the units (approximately 76 units) would not have age restrictions.

The affordable units are anticipated to be age-restricted, for residents 62 and over.

David Thompson said at the meeting that the 150 units would be built in two phases and styled after the existing project, Eleanor Roosevelt Circle.

Staff calculates the affordable housing obligation for West Davis Active Adult Community as 64 units, based upon inclusionary percentages in the Affordable Housing Ordinance. However, they suggest, “The exact requirement is likely to shift slightly as the project is revised through the public review and tentative mapping processes.”

Thus the 150 affordable units greatly exceeds all obligations under the ordinance. Staff notes, “Although the site is not proposed to be deeded to the City, it does meet the requirements for a land dedication parcel: minimum of two acres, of sufficient size to meet the required number of affordable units, and without abnormalities in shape and terrain.”

The unit yield for a standard land dedication assumes a density of 15 units per acre. Staff writes, “Even at this relatively low density, the site would receive credit for 64 units and meet the obligations for WDAAC.”

Right now the project is scheduled to go to the voters in November 2018.  Nishi presumably would go on the ballot in June 2018.

—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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22 thoughts on “West Davis Senior Proposal Has Local Housing Focus”

  1. Keith O

    I would be curious to see the percentages of people who fall in the “related to Davis” categories outlined above who have already bought houses in Davis.  I’ll bet it’s pretty high.

    If I’m from out of town and have no ties I could easily say my close cousin lives here, how are they going to prove me wrong?  Are they going to demand documentation?  I can see this getting sticky.

    Who’s going to follow up and make sure these guidelines would be adhered to?

    1. Keith O

      And if they require documentation is that even legal?  I mean being a sanctuary city we don’t require documentation for anyone coming to our city.   Can they legally require documentation for things like where you work or who’s your relative in order to move there?


      1. Howard P

        To quote a former Davis Mayor, on the dias, “consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds”…

        [the actual quote, which she cut and pasted from, can be found here… https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/353571-a-foolish-consistency-is-the-hobgoblin-of-little-minds-adored]

        The mayor at the time was attempting to disparage staff recommendations, and several public commenters, because they ran counter to what she wanted to have happen on a CC decision… her position won the day on that item…

        Just a snapshot of Davis history… no judgement made… I was in the chambers at the time, and remember it clearly…


        1. Howard P

          Your words,

           I mean being a sanctuary city we don’t require documentation for anyone coming to our city.   Can they legally require documentation for things like where you work or who’s your relative in order to move there?

          brought it to mind… feel free to report my comment as being off topic.

          And be prepared to defend your comment as being on-topic, particularly the ‘reactionary’ “sanctuary City” part… I just don’t see any connection…

        2. Keith O

          Your words,

          I mean being a sanctuary citywe don’t require documentation for anyone coming to our city.   Can they legally require documentation for things like where you work or who’s your relative in order to move there?

          brought it to mind… feel free to report my comment as being off topic.

          So you were being snarky?

        3. Keith O

          And be prepared to defend your comment as being on-topic, particularly the ‘reactionary’ “sanctuary City” part… I just don’t see any connection…

          There’s a distinct connection, how could you not ask for documentation of one group of people then possibly require it of another group when they want to buy a home and live in Davis?

        4. Howard P

          No, but in the post of yours I responded to, I believe you were… added to that, your challenge to my response as being on-topic, and later, the implication I was being/intending to be “snarky”… could not let your most recent accusation of “snarkiness” go unanswered… but perhaps you are just trolling…

          Go for it… I disengage…

        5. Moderator

          The comment section of the Vanguard would be much more useful and productive if various participants would stop sniping at each other. Please focus on the issues at hand and avoid the personal conflicts.

  2. Eric Gelber

    Oh, great. Now, in addition to discriminating against families with children, the West Davis senior housing developers propose further restrictions by instituting local preferences and discriminating based on residency. The legality of such restrictions is questionable, with a number of potential constitutional and fair housing implications. Is the right to travel impacted? Will there be disparate impacts on protected classes? Will it serve to perpetuate Davis’ relative lack of diversity? And what happens when, for example, qualified homeowners then want to resell their homes to buyers who don’t meet the residency requirements? Will that impact the homes’ value.

    Will making an already exclusionary housing proposal even more exclusionary really foster an image and promote a policy and outcome we want for our community?

    1. David Greenwald

      I’m kind of curious about some of this, one question is if they’re living in age restricted housing to begin with are additional restrictions really that impactful

      1. Eric Gelber

        It’s an all around distasteful and elitist proposal.  Moving to Davis shouldn’t be like getting into an exclusive country club—where it’s not enough that you want to move here and can afford it; but, in addition, you need the right connections.

  3. Tia Will

    I agree with Eric’s statement of 9:06. This is likely an illegal, and questionably ethical way to try to get around the fact that there is no guarantee that housing designed and intended for Davis residents will not be scooped up by folks seeking relatively less costly housing than can be found in the Bay area. We do not and cannot live in a closed community, so any argument about need for housing for locals may well not end up benefiting locals at all, or at least as much as advertised.


  4. Sharla C.

    I still wonder about the property taxes that this project will generate.  URC, as a exempt non-profit, does not pay property taxes, so that portion of the project will not generate property tax revenue for Davis.  Also, residents over the age of 65 can request to be exempt from our school taxes.  Prop 60 allows seniors to continue their Prop 13 locked in low property tax assessment when they relocate.  It seems that the project will only generate an increase in property tax revenue through current Davis residents relocating to this new project and their previous Davis house going through a appraisal re-set for the new homeowners.  If the houses in the new senior community only sell to people relocating from out of town and bringing with them their locked in property tax assessment, Davis will not get the benefit of increased tax revenue from the new development.  I think this proposal is Taromino’s answer to that problem.

      1. Howard P

        Shara brought up a good point… what will be the ‘valuation’?  You are correct about the property tax thing, at least as it applies to MR assessments, maybe even basically the exclusion from any PT for ‘affordable’… just not sure on that…

        But Sharla’s ‘questions’ of the amount paid (same rate, possibly different valuations due to “lock-ins”), and “senior exemptions” for school parcel taxes, remain unaddressed, as far as I can see…

         the rest will just like any property.

        is in question… given “lock-ins”, and requested exemptions…

        Sharla’s comment/questions have not been answered, IMO.

  5. Mark West

    The availability of appropriate housing is a service that cities provide to their residents. Our community has decided that we want our City to consider developable land to be a limited resource, consequently, in order to maximize the service of appropriate housing we need to become more efficient in the way we utilize our available land. Annexing land in order to create another sprawling subdivision of detached single family homes is not an efficient use of that limited resource.

    1. Matt Williams

      I agree with Mark 100%.  The land use efficiency of the West Davis Active Adult Community is from 70 years ago.


      There is one major difference between Levittown and WDAAC.  The buyers of Levittown homes actually maintained and used their yards.  The chances that a buyer of a WDAAC home will mow their own lawn and/or tend their own shrubbery is very close to 0%.  In addition, I believe that substantially less than half of the WDAAC homeowners will ever “use” their yard at all.   100% accessible stacked flats with landscaped common areas available to all residents (like University Retirement Community has) is a much, much more efficient and effective use of our limited land area.

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