Council Asked to Put Senior Housing Project on November Ballot

Staff is recommending that the West Davis Active Adult Community (WDAAC) project be placed on the ballot.  This would be Davis’ first age-restricted single-family subdivision in Davis.

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.

The Davis City Council took public comment two weeks ago on the WDAAC.  At that time, the biggest question, at least from the attending public, was the use of the University Retirement Community (URC) parcel.

Members of the public questioned the language in the Baseline Project Features (BPF): “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.”

As one commenter put it, there is a vagueness in how the 3.2 acre parcel earmarked for URC would be used.

“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 for its use 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 BPF 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 [the management company, Pacific Retirement Services] agreeing they are hamstrung in terms of this,” he said.

In this week’s staff report, staff explains that the BPF exhibit identifies the parcel at the northwest corner of Covell and Risling as “Specialized Senior Care” – which is a modification from the description previously.

The new text in the BPF requires the project to include “an approximately three-acre parcel for either the expansion of University Retirement Community (‘URC’) for the benefit of its residents or for use by another specialized senior care facility.”

In addition, in response to questions from the council about the future use of the property and impacts to existing URC residents, staff has altered the language with a new condition of approval: “Subsequent Project entitlements for that portion of the property identified on the Baseline Project Features map as ‘Specialized Senior Care,’ including Final Planned Development and Tentative Map, shall be reviewed by the Senior Citizen Commission prior to a final action by the decision-making body.

“If the proposed use on the site is related to, or an extension of, a neighboring senior use, the Senior Citizen Commission shall evaluate the proposal’s impact on the health, safety, and welfare of the current residents of that neighboring facility.”

Questions came up both at the council meeting and on the Vanguard as to what would happen if grandparents had to take custodial care of their minor grandchildren – whether they have to move from the facility.

Dave Taormino explained, “Purchasers know in advance that long-term live-in children/grandchildren in 80 percent age restricted homes is generally not allowed except for 60 days per year.”

However, there are exceptions to that rule.

“Children are allowed indefinitely if (A) The child or grandchild is temporarily or permanently disabled or injured and requires in-home care or, (B) Custody of grandchildren/children is granted to grandparents/parents due to the child’s legal disability or custody issues.  Examples: permanent disability or temporary disabling injury of a child or grandchild, awarding legal custody of grandchildren by a court to the 55+ occupant.”

Thus, unlike an example of Florida kids evicted from an age-restricted community, Mr. Taormino explains, “In California as compared to Florida, the courts and the legislature have been more ‘progressive’ in their approach for the care of those who need it regardless of the age restrictions of any particular community.”

There have been questions about the affordable housing portion.  The project includes up to 150 “senior affordable apartments” which will be age restricted to individuals 62 and older.

Staff notes, “The phrase ‘senior affordable apartments’ is also utilized in the Baseline Project Features, meaning that any proposed use of this site must be substantially consistent with that designation.”

The applicant has stated that there may be some “federal subsidy programs that enable a limited number of non-elderly persons with disabilities to obtain affordable housing in otherwise age-restricted housing.”

Staff writes: “There are a number of factors that come into play, but this situation usually occurs when there are accommodations and/or services needed by a disabled individual that directly overlap with those provided at the senior affordable housing facility.”

Staff concludes: “If such a situation were to arise, the City would have the ability to consider occupancy by a non-elderly disabled individual to be consistent with the Baseline Features.”

—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. Jeff M

      Agree.  And thing of all the new driving hazards as we keep adding more.

      This city needs more young professionals and more young families with parents not on public assistance.

  1. Eric Gelber

    Examples: permanent disability or temporary disabling injury of a child or grandchild, awarding legal custody of grandchildren by a court to the 55+ occupant.”

    So, the parent or parents who are experiencing a financial or medical crisis can’t temporarily have their child live with his or her grandparents (for more than 60 days) unless the parent(s) relinquishes legal custody. What’s the rationale? Answer: Seniors want to limit the number of children living in their neighborhood—even if they are living in the home of other eligible seniors. How would allowing children to live with grandparents in these circumstances be inconsistent with the purported purpose of WDAAC to simply provide needed housing for seniors? Answer: It wouldn’t. But it would be consistent with the intent to discriminate against families with children

    1. Eric Gelber

      People (including the City Council) seem to have a hard time understanding or acknowledging that the senior housing exemption was not primarily about providing housing for seniors. The exemption was added to the federal Fair Housing Act at the same time that familial status (families with children) was added as a protected class. It was to preserve the right of “get off my lawn” seniors to live among their own kind, without having those noisy, pesky children around.

    2. Howard P

      Gotta’ go with Eric, here… some family crises are not short-lived… as proposed, does not appear a senior could “foster” their own family…

      David, seriously suggest you soul-search here, considering what you have previously shared about your family’s situation… think twice, speak/post once…

  2. Jim Hoch

    It should go without saying that seniors, including myself, are the wealthiest demographic in town. Compared to other people seeking housing they have the most options and least barriers.



      1. Jim Hoch

        There are people across all age groups that qualify for affordable housing but I don’t see a special carve out for those 28-40 or whatever. No age discrimination. BTW my comment, “seniors, including myself, are the wealthiest demographic” is “universally accurate” if you have some evidence the seniors are NOT the wealthiest demographic in town please present it.

  3. Todd Edelman

    “Mixed use component” is the cafe or some recreational space? Is it the shop that swells WDAAC schwag, like the Taormino “Fooling elders into moving to the periphery since 2018” t-shirt?

    No one really cares about connectivity because e.g. cycling is something that junior high kids and campus-visiting people do.

    I’m not as positive as I should be / see, this place gets half a star from AARP.

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