The West Davis Active Adult Community senior housing project goes to the Davis City Council for the first time on Tuesday. The council is not being asked to approve it for going on the November ballot at this time, but rather they will bring it back for action on June 12.
As the Vanguard has previously reported, the project is located directly west of Sutter-Davis Hospital on a 75-acre site. The 560-unit project would have 80 percent of the for-sale units restricted to those older than 55 with the other 20 percent unrestricted. There would also be around 150 apartments for those 62 or older.
According to the staff report, “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, although seniors as a demographic group have a statistically lower proportion in poverty than other groups.”
Staff also “supports the affordable housing proposal, including the proposed age restriction, because of the deep targeting to extremely-low and very-low income households, and the provision of significantly more affordable units than would otherwise be required.”
The overall density of the development is 7.5 units per acre. Staff acknowledges, “This is lower than a density that would be desirable in a more central location. 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.”
In addition to concerns about restrictiveness and low density, there are challenges with connectivity.
Staff notes: “The site is challenged for access because it has Covell Boulevard, a major arterial, on the southern frontage and agricultural lands to the north and west.”
Here, “The project provides extensive aesthetic and safety improvements to Covell Boulevard, including reconstruction of the Covell/Shasta/Risling to conform with city standards, remove the free right movements, and shorten the distance for pedestrians and cyclists crossing Covell and Risling.”
Staff argues: “These improvements will serve residents of WDAAC and current West Davis residents accessing the hospital or Covell Boulevard bus stops. Space for a landing to accommodate a pedestrian/bicyclist crossing of SR-113 is also provided, should that be proposed in the future.”
Staff concludes, finding “the improvements to be an overall community benefit, and adequate to serve the needs of WDAAC residents.”
The Planning Commission heard this project in early April – it was the fourth time that Commission had a chance to discuss the project, with two previous workshops and a meeting to hear comments on the EIR.
There was extensive public comment – most of it supportive of the project.
The Planning Commission did not approve the Development Agreement. They had expressed general support for the proposal and the need for senior housing. Staff notes: “Commission discussion centered on the whether all of the affordable housing should be age-restricted, connectivity challenges, and access to amenities. The vote to not recommend approval of the Development Agreement because the draft presented to the Commission was very preliminary and did not represent the document anticipated for consideration by the City Council.”
Among the various key considerations is the fact that WDAAC would be the first age-restricted single-family subdivision in Davis. As noted it would be an 80-20 split and staff is supportive of the concept which they say is “consistent with state and federal law through identification of age-restricted and unrestricted parcels as part of the subdivision process.”
Nevertheless, “Commissioners and the public have questioned whether an age-restricted development is appropriate for development in Davis.”
On affordable housing, the project is required to have at least 60 units, but proposes as many as 150 affordable housing apartments on over four acres of land dedication.
Staff notes: “Because of 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.”
The land would be transferred to the city if the construction does not commence within three to five years.
A key question, however, is whether the affordable housing should be senior-only.
Staff writes: “The City has needs for many types of affordable housing, including affordable housing for seniors. Staff has explored with the applicant whether the affordable housing component should include units addressing other housing needs, and not just seniors. The applicant has stated that mixing seniors and non-seniors (such as a half-and-half development) would require duplication of common facilities and services, could be cost-prohibitive, and may cause security concerns for senior residents.”
The Finance and Budget Commission met on February 12 to discuss this project. While they did not have the development agreement at the time of discussion, the estimate by staff was a one-time benefit of $8.6 million in construction tax revenues and development impact fees. The commission found this “generally reasonable given the data currently available.”
They also concurred with the estimate that 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.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting