Planning Commission to Evaluate West Davis Senior Housing Project

We are more than six months from a possible Measure R vote, but the applicants for the West Davis Active Adult Community are already bringing their 75-acre, 560-unit project located north of Covell Boulevard and west of Sutter-Davis Hospital to the planning commission.

The West Davis Active Adult Community project includes:

  • 150 affordable, age-restricted apartments;
  • 32 attached, age-restricted cottages;
  • 94 attached, age-restricted units;
  • 129 single-family detached, age-restricted units;
  • 77 single-family detached, non-age-restricted units;
  • An approximately three-acre continuing care retirement community site, which would likely contain 30 assisted living, age-restricted detached units;
  • An approximately 4.3-acre mixed use area, which would likely consist of a health club, restaurant, clubhouse, and up to 48 attached, age-restricted units;
  • Dog exercise area and tot lot, associated greenways;
  • Drainage, agricultural buffers; and
  • Off-site stormwater detention facilities.

Upon completion of the project, “the approximately 74-acre site would provide up to 560 dwelling units and 4.5 miles of off street biking and walking paths within the project area and an additional 0.22 miles of off street biking and walking paths offsite.”

Staff notes that this would be “the first active adult subdivision entitled in the City of Davis.”  The majority of the project, 80 percent, would be age restricted to householders 55 and over.  The remaining 20 percent, roughly 77 single-family units, would be unrestricted.

There are 150 affordable apartments for seniors – anticipated to be limited to occupancy by persons aged 62 or older.

Staff writes: “Staff supports the 80:20 concept as a mechanism for supporting an intergenerational neighborhood while providing housing of a type requested by empty nesters. The City has needs for many types of affordable housing, including affordable housing for seniors. Staff continues to explore whether alternatives to senior-only affordable housing should be considered.”

There are some density concerns with the “overall density of the development is 7.5 units per gross acre. Densities in individual subareas range from 8.1 units per net acre (small builder lots) to 40.4 units per net acre (affordable apartments).

“This is lower than a density that would be desirable in a more central location,” staff writes. However, staff has concluded that “the density is appropriate for the target demographic and this location on the edge of the community, given that the project also provides internal greenways and an agricultural buffer, a mixed-use component, and gathering areas.”

As noted, this would be the first age-restricted development (although not solely age-restricted, with 77 units for anyone).  Staff notes that feedback they have received has “questioned whether an age-restricted development is appropriate for development in Davis.”

Staff has concluded that this concept “can be approvable as a distinct neighborhood that adds to the types of living environment in the community.”

In addition to the fact that the development is not “solely age-restricted,” staff notes that the amenities would be open to the public including a tot lot, agricultural buffer, and potential restaurant and health club.

The Senior Citizen Commission concludes that “the development could help meet internal housing needs, in particular, housing needs of seniors.”  Moreover, “The age-restrictions can complement the development goals of providing smaller housing units than are otherwise provided in this market.”  Finally, “Senior housing can be attractive in securing development subsidies for the affordable housing parcel.”

Staff also cites connectivity challenges of the site.  They write: “The site has agricultural lands to the north and west, and Covell Boulevard along the southern frontage. The need for better connectivity was identified by several commissions during the early review.”

They have made modifications including the “redesign of the Covell / Shasta / Risling to improve safety and comfort for all users…  The proposed reconstruction would eliminate all free right turns and shorten the pedestrian crossing distances to the greatest extent feasible. Bicycle lanes would be eliminated in the intersection to reduce roadway width: confident riders may choose to merge with traffic through the intersection, while less-confident riders would always have the option of the off-street path.”

The application proposes “an affordable housing parcel of over four acres to accommodate as many as 150 affordable housing apartments.”

Staff notes that due to the anticipated subsidy financing, “occupancy is expected to be limited to residents aged 62 or over.”

Rents would be targeted to low-income, very-low-income, and extremely-low-income seniors.

Staff writes: “The City has needs for many types of affordable housing, including affordable housing for seniors. Staff continues to explore whether alternatives to senior-only affordable housing should be considered.”

The affordable housing parcel would make a significant contribution to meeting the city’s obligations under the next Housing Element cycle.

Staff notes, “The units would also further policy goals of mixing housing types and resident incomes in new development areas, and complement the other major rental affordable housing property in West Davis (family-oriented Shasta Point).”

Staff notes the applicant has requested “consideration of allowing the affordable units exceeding the obligation for WDAAC to be ‘banked’ and used in development elsewhere.”  According to staff, “This concept, if determined to be appropriate, would be addressed in the Development Agreement.”

On the issue of sustainability, “new homes built in 2020 will be very energy-efficient. The applicant is proposing an energy retrofit program that would grant $2,500-$3,500 for improvements to existing structures when Davis homeowners purchase in the West Davis Active Adult Community.”

Staff believes that the retrofit “can serve as a pilot for a program to improve properties in Davis.”

Among the highlights:

  • Photovoltaics and zero net electric for every for-sale residential unit (proposed to differ from City standard building ordinance requirements).
  • Energy retrofit grant program (see below).
  • Habitat creation along Covell Boulevard and in the agricultural buffer.

The Finance and Budget Commission has reviewed the fiscal impacts of the proposal, based upon staff analysis and preliminary concept plans.

The Commission “concurred with staff’s conclusion that annual ongoing revenues and costs for the city from the project would be significantly positive over its first 15 years of development, generating as much as a $300,000 net fiscal benefit in many years.”

The project could go to the council this spring and be placed on the ballot in November for Measure R voter consideration.

—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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1 Comment

  1. Todd Edelman

    It’s insulting to be told that improvements on one street can somehow address the spatial anti-fecundity of this development. The developers promise some money for a potential future crossing over the Trench of Shame, but won’t consider a direct crossing of Covell close to West Ponds and leading to Village Homes.

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