The council listened to 30 members of the public comment on the West Davis Active Adult Center and the response was largely positive, although the biggest flag showed concerns about the impact on residents at the University Retirement Community.
The language at issue is in the Baseline Project Features: “Provide an approximately three-acre parcel for the expansion of URC for the benefit of its residents or for use by another specialized senior care facility.”
Judith Williams, a 10-year resident at URC, said “I know how badly Davis needs housing for seniors.” She said, “There is a corner of the property across from URC that our local board and the management company, Pacific Retirement Services, have put down URC’s earnest money to save that section.
“They will not spend the money to do a serious plan (until it passes),” she said. “It is clear to us that it will be either memory care or assisted living. Plus probably parking and some administrative offices for URC.”
She worried that if the facilities at URC were pushed across the street, “I cannot even imagine how they would get across Covell with their walkers or scooters.”
Another resident explained that when he moved to URC, one thing that was vitally important, was “keeping all levels of care together, under one roof. So we could be with our spouses, we could be with our friends under one roof.” He said, “This is not something that is protected under the current proposal.”
He explained that splitting the campus is causing anxiety and people worry that they would have to cross Covell to visit friends or spouses.
He said one friend was fearful of being able to see her husband, and she told him, “I can barely get downstairs to visit him as it is. That’s a poignant reminder that this is an important issue for many of us. We wish that PRS would re-think its position, but apparently that is not to be.”
He also expressed concern about the vagueness of the 3.2 acre parcel earmarked for URC. “We think that Davis voters need to know what’s going into that parcel in the same level of detail that’s in the rest of the proposal,” he said. He asked for a detailed narrative and some way to be protected.
Dave Taormino, the developer, explained, “URC has an option to purchase, but they’re not guaranteeing the purchase, that’s why we left it somewhat vague as to what it could be – because chances are they may not exercise (it).”
He said, “URC to this date, hasn’t determined what they’re going to do.”
Mr. Taormino explained that the key language in the proposed BPFs was “for the benefit of its residents.” He said, “The intent there was to make sure that whatever happens at the site is for their benefit.
“I agree with the concerns that the residents have, they are heartfelt and they are very stressful, particularly, because without PRS agreeing they are hamstrung in terms of this,” he said.
Mr. Taormino explained that they would have to meet the burden of “for the benefit of its residents,” and “without meeting that burden, they would have to go back to the voters to have it voted. I believe that that’s great protection.”
The alternative to a URC Expansion would be a memory care and assisted living facility, he explained. “We are in desperate need of that type of facility,” he added.
Mayor Robb Davis expressed his concern, “This is in a baseline feature, it names URC.” He said, “That means if anybody else were to develop on that land, there is a potential requirement to go back to a vote.
“That’s a pretty significant thing to state the name of a specific entity that will develop that parcel,” Mayor Davis said. “I agree fully, we need that parcel and we need it for all the reasons that have been laid out – memory care. I’m just pointing out the risk of putting a specific name in.”
However, while Dave Taormino acknowledged that they had selected the language intentionally, it was pointed out the second part of the clause reads “or for use by another specialized senior care facility.”
Lucas Frerichs said, “Overall, I’m generally supportive of the direction you’re headed.” He added, “I think there’s quite a need for senior housing – no question.”
There are also some concerns about the Davis-based buyers program. Robb Davis, echoing concerns from Elaine Roberts Musser, suggested that they consider a restriction that would mean for sale within a certain period of time also has to be a Davis purchaser. There is concern that someone would purchase the property and then immediately flip it to someone from outside of the area.
“I would like to see if there is something more that could be done there,” he said.
There are also concerns about traffic lanes: “If we try to accommodate every mode through an intersection, we make it much too wide for a pedestrian.” He said this was a lesson they learned with the Cannery Project.
“Across the board, I think we really do want to implement the street standards on this project,” he said. That includes bike path widths and street striping. “That was a long process, but we passed it.”
Overall, the sense was that they were on pace to put this on the ballot for November.
Mayor Davis said, “I’m not hearing anything that says to me that we’re not going in that direction.
“This would be the first active adult center in Davis,” he said. “I am hearing some comments of people questioning the wisdom of that.
“I see value in this,” he said. “I hear the concerns about being cloistered off.”
The item will come back for June 12, with an eye toward putting it on the ballot at the time. Councilmember Will Arnold recused himself at the start, noting that his late father Doug Arnold was a former partner with David Taormino.
—David M. Greenwald reporting