Council’s First Hearing on West Davis Active Adult Community Shows Relatively Smooth Sailing

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

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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. Todd Edelman

    No one suggested a real solution for Covell, except for Mike Mitchell from the Bicycling, Transportation and Street Safety Commission, who shared his Commission’s suggestion to have an above-grade crossing from the southwest corner of the project towards West Pond and the path that leads south towards Village Homes. (As a BTSSC member I supported that proposal, but opposed the aggregate position; The minutes state that I think that WDAAC has “no meaningful connectivity.” But anyway this crossing doesn’t address URC-WDAAC connectivity, or a way for URC residents to get to e.g. Sutter more easily.) URC drives residents across the street to Sutter, or their employees to the parking area next to it.  Mayor Davis’s solution for Covell – which is being widened west of Sutter, and – as far as I know – going to be signed/designed for 45 mph (which means 50-55 mph speeds will be common) – are based on completely misunderstood lesson from the Cannery, made worse because he said that “we” misunderstood it.  The problem with the Cannery-Covell-J clusterf*ck – which, by the way, a Public Works staffer said is “working well enough” – IS that it’s too wide, BUT this is not because we’re trying to be inclusive of all modes: It’s because we imagine that incompetent transport designers can be allowed to pretend that they are not conscious of our societal gestalt to prioritize cars over other modes. Covell is too fast and too wide; we can’t have our cake and eat it, too.

    URC and WDAAC would benefit in their isolation at the edge of town if they could share a meal around the campfire – so to speak – but they cannot because cars are more important than elders, and it’s fine that elders and their visitors need cars to get to this area of town, and they – and their advisers – think it’s okay, too. Because we’ve screwed up so hard by not building “up” following the gentle guidance from J/R, that we’re now desperate for housing – and by the way affordable housing at WDAAC is the last stage of the project, and the people responsible for it have no funding at this point.

    WDAAC is to sustainable development what Jeff Reisig is to ethical law enforcement. Our city’s use of an anachronistic and anti-egalitarian transportation device to show commitment to cycling would make sense in an episode of the Twilight Zone. It’s like if Davis was known as the “Capitol of Reproductive Rights” and the city’s symbol was a chastity belt. Creating an age-restricted housing development for elders in a location that prevents them from walking almost anywhere meaningful and encouraging them to drive later in life that even they might want to — if that would make Davis the “Capitol of aging in place”, the symbol would be Carousel.

  2. Howard P

    who shared his Commission’s suggestion to have an above-grade crossing from the southwest corner of the project towards West Pond and the path that leads south towards Village Homes.

    That proposal is ludicrous [being as charitable as I can be… other adjectives came to mind, first]… might look good on the back of a napkin, but totally infeasible due to property development on the south side… sorry… no dice…

    1. Todd Edelman

      Please don’t be charitable on my account — speaking of charitable, Taormino scoffed at the idea of paying for such a thing, which can be a thing, with a little imagination. But I am not creating a concept, because WDAAC is an inherently bad idea.

    2. Alan Miller

      HP, it’s only ludicrous in that it’s an overcrossing.

      When the commercial venture was going in out there, I talked to their consultant from AECOM and he showed me their plans for an undercrossing from the major N/S bike trail there UNDER Covell and into the business park, then a path arcing northeast through the park to an overcrossing of Hwy. 113 to a connection to the E/W bike path on the other side.

      This all made great sense.  Without these features, I vote no on this project.

        1. Howard P

          Alan… crossings of Covell (W Covell) require clearance from, or relocations of utilities, particularly sanitary sewer and/or storm drainage (gravity systems, not readily ‘relocateable’)… for every one foot deeper that a structure needs to go to “clear” those, add another 20 feet on each end to transition the grade to existing… perhaps TE is referencing that… if not, I am…

        2. Alan Miller

          Seems that was dealt with when we considered bike under-crossings a desirable feature worth getting in exchange for large development.  Seems now we say “too expensive” to quality bike/ped infrastructure now in favor of cheap alternatives that don’t meet our City’s needs.

        3. Todd Edelman

          Yes, I was referencing underground things.

          Come on, guys, support the Central Davis Active Adult Community. This is the place that lets elders walk downstairs from their apartments to watch their grandkids play baseball.

          1. Don Shor

            support the Central Davis Active Adult Community. This is the place that lets elders walk downstairs from their apartments to watch their grandkids play baseball.

            I have no problem at all with housing for adults, active or passive, closer to downtown. I’m sure many older adults would like that. Let us know when you find a developer and a financier ready to take on that battle, as I’m sure the Old North Davis neighborhood folks would have a lot to say about it. Meanwhile, we have a proposal for a senior housing development that actually has a developer and financing, so that’s the real world.
            I know there is a demand for this type of housing. There is huge demand for any type of housing in Davis because of the short supply that has been created by our planning process and Measure R. I do think many older home buyers would like to be near the medical services that are along Covell as well as at the hospital, and many would like to be near their friends at URC. They would be happy with the shopping nearby at the Marketplace, which they will find quite accessible via short trips in their cars. Others will avail themselves of the grocery delivery service provided by the Safeway store there.
            All in all, I think most people will not have the reaction to travel and traffic at this site that you have. You want everyone to ride bikes. Most people prefer to drive for errands and shopping, and that’s especially true of seniors. Falling off a bike is a devastating thing to happen when you’re in your 70’s. They also don’t really want to walk all over the place, for the most part. You may not know this, but walking gets more difficult as you get older.
            I’m rather surprised there isn’t more opposition to this annexation simply because of the growth-inducing potential that it has. But this particular project has a lot of appeal to certain important demographics in Davis, and may skate in as the first of a series of annexations that bring the Parlin property into the city for both commercial and residential purposes.

        4. Howard P

          Alan… big diff between bike/ped UC that were planned with original development… retro-fits are a different matter… gets to right-of way needed, displacements, etc.

          Feel free to believe cost and timing is no object… but it is!

          Have the t-shirts…

          Crossings of I-80… four were OC’s, one UC… no significant utilities involved with the latter… retro-fits all, very expensive… Pole Line, Richards and Mace were part of new/redone OC for vehicles… bit less expensive… OC’s of SR 113… part of SR 113 Caltrans projects…

          Dirkson had it right… millions here, millions there, pretty soon you’re talking about real money… some believe money is no object, whatever it takes… most of us have to balance costs and benefits… developers need to do so, as well… more requirements, financially, the higher the cost of the product… and the “asking price” for that product… don’t know of any developer who would provide a product at a “loss”… suspect if they did, that would be a singularity… they wouldn’t be able to do another…

          Be careful what you ask for/demand/require… you just might get it… with ‘unintended’ consequences…  just saying… that is reality… not Utopia… no ‘perfect plane’ (or in Davis, a perfect plain)…

          1. Don Shor

            The Poleline overcrossing was unbelievably controversial. The people who lived on Poleline were going to die because of the pollution from the increased traffic. There would be more accidents. The noise would be unbearable. Sound walls were tested and promised; we donated plants for a model that was set up down the street at the community gardens. I remember our mayor (RIP) glaring out at the audience, citing mortality data, and saying, more or less, “that’s, like five people in this room that are going to die! Which of your neighbors do you want to kill?”
            One of those Only In Davis things.

        5. Howard P

          Don… two corrections, for the record…

          It is Pole Line Road… see the pole lines on CR 102, (aka Pole Line Road in Davis…) main electrical feed to Davis, and beyond…

          Rarely (extremely), “accidents”… “crashes”, yes… usually “stupids”, or ‘criminal’ or negligent acts… 95% of the time…

          Other than that, spot on…

          1. Don Shor

            It is Pole Line Road

            Yeah, you’d think I’d know that by now, having driven by the street sign at least 35,000 times.

        6. Todd Edelman

          Don Shor wrote:

          You want everyone to ride bikes

          Sure, but I don’t expect them to! Certainly not for all trips. Look back over the last 18 months or so of my comments herein and you’ll see a considerable amount of promotion of rail, bus, carshare, private cars parked in peripheral lots, self-driving shuttles on fixed routes (months before others brought it up).
          That said, who initiated the push for lockers at the train station that support the use of a wide range of child-carrying bikes? Me. Who is the only member of the BTSSC or really the public pushing for Jump Bikes to allow cyclists under 18 and over 210 lbs? Me.

          One thing to add: Is anyone who doesn’t or rarely drives and instead rides a bike complaining that they’ll have to pay the road tax, despite their light treading on said infrastructure? Nope.

          As I mentioned, there’s not yet any financing for affordable housing.

          URC residents can move into CDAAC, with their friends who also move there. URC can be re-occupied by people for whom the distance is less of an issue.

          As the Council will likely put this on the November ballot, we’ll have a vote, and if it passes things won’t really start moving until January 2018 (I accept that the developers have a lot of detailed yet non-technical drawings.)

          On the other hand the Council in the next month or first thing following summer break can direct staff and relevant Commissions to start to look hard at the possibility to incrementally build a variety of housing at Civic Plaza on land already owned by the city, with at least the start of basic infrastructure below, possibility of short trips by multiple non private car means including low-step over bikes for elders, electric shuttles with floor inches from the ground (+ ADA compliance) and on and on.

          A clinic at an expanded Senior Center can serve many non-emergency needs at lower cost. When necessary a trip to Sutter or Kaiser or UCDMC can be provided. Also the fire station is amazing close, the only thing closer is City Council Chambers. Elders can sell their houses, move to CDAAC, then walk or auto-shuttle back over in a couple of minutes and steal lemons from their old tree.

          What developer would say “no” to very cheap land in the center of town?

          North Davis is tricky, but CDAAC can have minimal impacts  it has no parking minimum, similar to what’s going to be in the official Downtown across the street.

          Seriously, how many people in the world can walk or auto-shuttle two blocks from home for coffee on 3rd St, return to watch their grandchildren play after school, do a routine check-up at the Senior Center clinic then go to a City Council meeting? All within four blocks. Is this NYC… or Davis?

        7. Alan Miller

          some believe money is no object, whatever it takes… most of us have to balance costs and benefits… developers need to do so, as well…

          HP, the lecture with examples is unnecessary (well aware of all of those), and yes in most cases and including Hwy-113 jump over-crossing makes sense, with long approaches like at Road 103 from East to South Davis.

          Point is made in Larry Guenther’s article today (Thurs) — infrastructure are 100 year projects, and we need to get them right.  He’s right about housing, and I’m right about infrastructure. These will be with us for generations and need to be done right.

          The Cannery was the Lucy/Charlie/Football of this with a promised great connection being dumped, and a second, decent over-crossing idea that connected in multiple directions and was the preferred alternative tanked by a cheap non-solution dreamed up by two councilmembers the day before with no notice.  Now the same is happening at the train station and having at-grade crossing of Covell for seniors.  Bad for all future generations of bicyclists and all future generations of seniors.

          The Olive to Pole Line connection, on the other hand, rocks!  Especially now that the preferred design is straight rather than the original switchbacks design.

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