Commentary: Guarantee As a Straw Man Argument on Affordable Housing

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David Thompson explaining the affordable component on Tuesday

Alan Pryor continues the attack on the affordable housing portion of the West Davis Active Adult Community (WDAAC), project arguing that there are “there are NO low income housing guarantees at WDAAC.”

He writes: “If Neighborhood Partners LLC, Mr. Thompson’s privately-owned for-profit firm, cannot raise enough government grant monies or government subsidized loans to construct the 150 low-income apartments, they will simply not be built. This is because neither Mr. Thompson nor his firm nor the WDAAC developer, Mr. Taormino, has agreed to separately guarantee that they will be built by either issuing completion bonds or personally guaranteeing that the construction will occur.”

Are there no guarantees, or are there simply no 100 percent guarantees that anything will happen?

We have to start by looking at the language inside the Baseline Project Features – this is important because this is the most binding language in a Measure R project and requires a new vote in order to change.

Here we see that there are some guarantees:

First, it states that the project “will also include senior affordable housing that complies with the requirements of the City’s Affordable Housing Ordinance.”  That’s actually pretty important because it binds the development to the city’s Affordable Housing Ordinance.

Second, the developer is required to “[p]rovide land to accommodate 150 subsidized affordable senior apartments.”

It specifies that the senior affordable apartments must be at least 600 square feet.

It also very importantly requires that “[t]he first phase of development shall include infrastructure for senior affordable apartments.”

At minimum, then, this project is required in the Baseline Project Features to provide the land, lay the infrastructure, donate the land, and comply with the Affordable Housing Ordinance.

While others have pushed back, noting that the language is fairly skimpy, it is also not clear what more could be written into the BPF to ensure that affordable housing could be built.

Alan Pryor is correct, if the developers cannot raise enough grant money, then there is a possibly that they will not be built.

But he misses a key point – the city gets a take back clause in this.  As spelled out in the development agreement, “If building permits for a minimum of sixty (60) units on the affordable housing site have not been issued within three years of recordation of the final map creating the parcel, the affordable housing site will be transferred to the City.”

That means that Neighborhood Partners will lose the ability to build the housing if they do not get building permits issued within three years.

That seems to be a strong incentive for the affordable housing developer.  Is it a guarantee that the affordable housing developer will complete the work?  No.

Others have argued that there are affordable housing sites in town that have not been built.  They point to articles that demonstrate that Affordable Housing developments face an “uphill battle” due to lack of funding.

If that is true – and there are reasons to dispute this line – then we can come to the conclusion that, even under the best of circumstances, there is no such thing as a guarantee.  So why are we holding the developers to an impossible standard?

We have reasonable provisions within the development agreement to ensure that the project has to comply with the city’s Affordable Housing ordinance, it lays out the requirements and has a clause that reverts the project to the city if the developers fail to deliver.

Neighborhood Partners – David Thompson and Luke Watkins – pointed out to the Vanguard that, over the course of 40 years, they have never not produced a project when they have committed to so doing.  Is that a guarantee?  No.  But past history is indicative of future abilities.

Even the article a critic cited refers to what Luke Watkins said: “When affordable housing developers do manage to acquire property, they can leverage the value of the property for at least 10 times the property’s value for funding. Using the example of Creekside Courts’ land dedication, Watkins said that developers have been able to raise $25 million by leveraging the land, which was appraised at $2 million.”

Basically, the developers are granting land and infrastructure improvements for whoever develops the affordable housing.

Is there a guarantee that this will happen? That doesn’t seem to be the right question.  The question that we should ask is did the city put all of the necessary provisions into the BPF to ensure that a project is most likely to happen?  Is there anything that they should have put that they didn’t?

Those are far more reasonable questions and it appears from what I read that the city covered its bases.  That still might not be enough to absolutely guarantee something at the end of the day – but then again, nothing actually is.

—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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83 thoughts on “Commentary: Guarantee As a Straw Man Argument on Affordable Housing”

      1. Keith O

        This isn’t like Nishi, college housing on a site that isn’t on the periphery.  I don’t believe people are going to vote for a project on the periphery that doesn’t check many of the boxes for local housing needs.

        1. David Greenwald

          Here’s my point of analysis:

          1. Very little in the way of overt opposition – very few letters to the editor, few speakers against the project

          2. Very little in the way of direct impacts – there are no neighbors mobilized against, the traffic impacts are minimal

          3. Large senior population in the community, most are backing this

          Add that up and as of right now, I see this passing fairly easily.

          Could it change?  Yes.  I’ll be watching to see if opposition starts spreading, but right now not seeing much traction by the opposition.

        2. Keith O

          People don’t need an organized opposition in order to tell them to vote no.  They will vote how they feel regardless.

          Large senior population in the community, most are backing this

          How do you know this?

  1. Jim Hoch

    I don’t follow the argument. Likely it is cheaper to let part of the land revert to the city in return for permission to build on the rest. Under this scenario not building affordable housing would be the preferred result for the developer.

    BTW you seem to to confuse “assurance” with “guarantee”. There is no “less than 100% guarantee”.

    1. David Greenwald

      I don’t understand how they could do that legally.  The affordable housing set aside is complete, they have to put in the infrastructure, there are no other costs for the developer.

      1. Jim Hoch

        Based on the above the developer has to dedicate the land and provide “infrastructure” what ever that means. Presumably that means they need to provide utility interconnects to the property. They cannot reasonably be expected to build out the utilities as that would be a function of the housing.

        So they run the pipes/wiring/road to the site and they are done. Whether anything gets built or not they have completed their obligation.

        Even with free land it may not be possible to finance affordable new construction. The minimum size of the units works against this project being completed.

  2. Tia Will

    Respectfully as an undecided, I see these continued weaknesses in Mr. Thompsons rebuttal

    1.“Provide land to accommodate 150 subsidized affordable senior apartments.” – this is not an assurance nor guarantee that the housing will be built, but only a statement of what will happen if it is not.

    2. “the city gets a take back clause in this.” This is not a key missed point. It is a confirmation of what will occur should the units not be built.

    3. “the affordable housing site will be transferred to the City.” If the goal is affordable housing, this result would only lead to further delay of that goal and negates the possibility of a more appropriate development due to the lack of completion.

     

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Yes. That would be true. I don’t expect that to be a problem, but if nothing gets built there, the lot would be empty.

  3. Eric Gelber

    A couple of, perhaps, naive questions:

    First [the BPF] states, that the project “will also include senior affordable housing that complies with the requirements of the City’s Affordable Housing Ordinance.”  That’s actually pretty important because it binds the development to the city’s Affordable Housing Ordinance.

    Is compliance with the AH ordinance optional? Are they not bound by it regardless of what the BPF says?

    Is there anything they should have put [into the BPF] that they didn’t?

    How about requiring that funding for the affordable housing be obtained before construction of the market rate housing—i.e., as a prerequisite.

     

  4. Ron

    David tips his hand, with statements such as this:

    “So why are we holding the developers to an impossible standard?”

    The real question to ask is why developers are touting the Affordable component (putting it “front and center”) in the first place. (That’s where the “straw man” argument originates.)

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      My point was if you believe that affordable projects are difficult to fund, and you believe there are undeveloped affordable projects – not convinced on either point – by demanding a “guarantee” it is a straw man – all you can really do is hold them to a reasonable assurance.

      1. Ron

        It is a fact (not an “opinion”) that there is a large (undeveloped) site dedicated for Affordable housing on Fifth Street in Mace Ranch.  And, that I first noticed a sign dedicating it as such approximately 15 years ago.

        It is also a fact that there are challenges in operating/maintaining the Pacifico Affordable housing development, as noted yesterday.

        Again, the “straw man” argument is originating with the developer, by touting the Affordable component.  Alan P. is reacting to that argument, by pointing out that there are significant obstacles. And yet, the Vanguard focuses on the arguments put forth by Alan P., in response.

        One can arrive at their own conclusions, regarding that.

        I think the Vanguard has beaten this subject (e.g., “guarantee”) to death, in a misguided effort. In fact, most of the Vanguard’s coverage of WDAAC has been focused on criticizing the opponent’s campaign.

        Again, if one supports a peripheral, suburban-style market-rate development for seniors (with a questionable/challengeable “Davis buyer” program), then this is the development for you.

  5. David Thompson

    Dear Vanguard Reader:

    For next week we will submit an article to the Vanguard that addresses some the issues being brought up under this thread. The claims of there being no ‘guarantee’ so it won’t be built are invalid and just one more inappropriate and false attempt against the needs of low income Davis seniors to get citizens to vote NO.  Over a history of 30 years, every affordable senior housing project in Davis has been built. Every site proposed for senior housing has been built.

    Having been engaged in a number of the affordable housing projects in Davis over the past 20 plus years we know how complex the issue of affordable housing is.  But everyone has been built.

    Yet we are in an era of the widest array of financing options we have ever seen for affordable housing. A City like Davis should be certainly be at the forefront of winning substantial funding for two planned phases of affordable senior housing.

    To help us house 175 low income seniors please Vote Yes on Measure L.
    http://westdavisactive.com/affordable-senior-housing/

    The accusations that the No on Measure L makes are vastly incorrect. The developments in the same category as the Davis Senior Housing Communities at West Davis Active Adult Community are the following;

    * Windmere 1: 48 apartments built by a separate local nonprofit on donated land

    * Windmere II: 58 apartments built by a separate local nonprofit on donated land

    * Fox Creek: 36 apartments built by a separate local nonprofit on donated land

    * Heather Glen: 62 apartments built by a separate local nonprofit on donated land

    * Homestead: 16 apartments built by a separate local nonprofit on donated land

    * Tuscany Villas: 30 apartments built by a separate local nonprofit on donated land

    * Walnut Terrace: 31 apartments built by a separate local nonprofit on donated land

    * Twin Pines, 36 apartments built by a separate local nonprofit on donated land

    * Owendale: 45 apartments built by a separate local nonprofit on donated land

    * Tremont Green, 36 apartments built by a separate local nonprofit on donated land

    * Moore Village, 59 apartments built by a separate local nonprofit on donated land

    * Cesar Chavez Plaza, 53 apartments built by a separate local nonprofit on donated land

    * Eleanor Roosevelt, 60 apartments built by a separate local nonprofit on donated land

    Likewise, DSHC at WDAAC will feature 150 apartments built by a separate local nonprofit on donated land.

    During the process of building affordable housing a lot of capital is at risk and there is a lot to lose by many parties if a project is not built.

    NP is proud to work with local nonprofits on building much needed affordable housing.

    If you wish to truly support our efforts and speak out in favor of affordable housing we would welcome your voice, call 530-757-2233 to join our efforts.

    Neighborhood Partners

    1. Ron

      Dave Thompson:  “Every site proposed for senior housing has been built.”

      This is factually incorrect, in reference to the large Affordable housing site on Fifth Street (near Pena) in Mace Ranch. (Approximately 15 years have passed, since I first noticed the sign designating the site as such.)

      On a separate note, Pacifico demonstrates what happens when an Affordable development is not properly managed or maintained.

        1. Ron

          I guess I missed the word “senior”.  Does that mean there’s “additional” money available?  (And, is the list that Dave provided above limited to “senior” Affordable housing?)

          And again, what is the impact of the loss of RDA money (as well as increased competition for such funds as a result of rising prices, regionally and throughout the state)?

          Also, where are the ongoing funds coming from to maintain and operate the Affordable component, if it actually comes to pass? (See the article regarding “Pacifico”.)

          Are we simply to take the word of someone with a vested interest in generating support for WDAAC? Is this the type of “investigative reporting” that the Vanguard relies upon?

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Someone posting a comment on the Vanguard is not investigative reporting. It takes time to look into stuff. Especially when I’m sick with the flu and a high fever…

            Here’s what I found on Creekside…

            Creekside is an affordable housing project approved in 2016 by the council.

            Approved for 73 one-bedroom units for low-income residents with a particular focus on residents with special needs. 48,000 square feet, will provide housing for residents earning 25 to 60 percent of the area’s median income.

            The affordable housing would be built on property originally set aside in the mid-1990s… it’s the third and final of the affordable housing projects in Mace following Walnut Terrace and Windmere…

            The developers include a partnership between Neighborhood Partners, the John Stewart Company and Davis Community Meals.

            The Creekside Court developers anticipate completing construction by November 2019.

        2. Ron

          By the way, “Neighborhood Partners” (Dave Thompson’s group) is apparently responsible for the undeveloped Affordable housing site that I’ve referenced a number of times, on Fifth Street.

          15 years and counting.  (Although I believe Neighborhood Partners took over the proposal more recently than that.)

          Maybe they (will now) truly have the “Midas Touch” – even when all other efforts have failed? These guys are the “Supermen” of Affordable housing?

        3. Jim Hoch

          It was not a “qualifier” he made two different claims.

          Another “Thompson Special” which means a bunch of sketchy claims made in a bellicose manner. A little deconstruction:

          “we know how complex the issue of affordable housing is” If somebody else points this out and notes the potential for failure they are being “deceitful”.

          “A City like Davis should be certainly be at the forefront of winning substantial funding” Since they have had a significant amount of time to find one of these “widest array of financing options” where is it? A non binding statement of interest would be a start.

          “The developments in the same category as the Davis Senior Housing Communities at West Davis Active Adult Community are” This is the penny stock special. people have made fortunes in oil stocks therefore you should buy this oil stock. Past performance is no predictor of future gains.

          BTW what’s in it for Thompson? “nonprofit” does not mean no money.  Some of our non-profit people are making more than $1M per year.

           

        4. Ron

          David:  Maybe.  The question would be whether or not they’ve received complete funding for Creekside, at this point.  Neighborhood Partner’s website does not indicate whether or not this is the case.

          And, it begs the question regarding what the holdup has been, for at least 15 years.  (Not to mention how ongoing management/operation/maintenance is going to be funded.)  (Again, see your own article regarding “Pacifico”.)

          Nor does Neighborhood Partner’s website indicate whether or not their other proposals (such as the “senior” Affordable development in Woodland – which competes for the same funding sources, as previously mentioned by Alan P.) has received full funding:

          http://npllc.org/

          You would serve your readers better if you conducted critical research/analysis, instead of just publishing what vested interests tell you (while simultaneously attacking the opposition for days on end, regarding the use of the word “guarantee”).

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            1. I don’t know, maybe David will get back on here and tell you if you ask him
            2. I think it’s been longer than than 15 years, looks like 20 to 25 years to me. But given the unusual nature of Mace Ranch and how it came to be, perhaps that shouldn’t be that suprirsing. Perhaps Howard will enlighten us.

        5. Ron

          David:  I have no idea what your 12:17 p.m. post is about.  Is it Dave Thompson’s response to me, regarding Creekside?

          In any case, have they received full funding to build, operate and maintain Creekside?  Same question regarding the senior Affordable housing proposal in Woodland.

          On a broader level, how has the elimination of RDA funds impacted their ability to gain funding, during a time of increased competition for such funding (due to rising prices regionally and statewide)?

          These are the “type” of questions I’d be asking, if I was in your position. (But, if I recall correctly, you recently stated to me that you essentially had no interest in doing so, and suggested that I do so, instead.)

          But, it’s probably easier to debate the word “guarantee” for a few more articles, instead.

        6. David Greenwald

          Interestingly enough, looks like you’ll have to find another straw man to go after… from the consent calendar this week: “The development partners have now secured the financing necessary to construct the project”

        7. Ron

          O.K. – well, that’s a good sign, for those who support these types of developments.  It was an honest question, to which I did not know the answer.  (Still wondering about ongoing operations/maintenance, especially in light of the Pacifico article.)

          So, after somewhere between 15-25 years after initial site designation, it appears that Creekside will be built relatively soon. (I sure hope that it’s not a disaster for the neighborhood, as Pacifico is for that neighborhood.)

          What about the competing senior Affordable development in Woodland that Alan P. mentioned, and is shown on Neighborhood Partners’ website?

          The entire “issue” is reminiscent of approving development for the purpose of obtaining unfunded bicycle overpasses, at some point in the future. So again, the “strawman” is originating from the Affordable housing developer (who has a vested interest in generating support for the broader proposal), which is reinforced by the Vanguard.

           

        8. David Greenwald

          So it appears that they got funding in just about two years to do 73 affordable units for disabled people.  Do you really believe they are not going to be able to get funding for their 150 senior affordable project? (Not just directed at Ron). I think this proves their point that they can get the funding for these kind of projects.

        9. Ron

          David:  Again, one might want to examine the entire 15-25 year history of Creekside, before arriving at any conclusions.  Especially since RDA money was apparently available, during the majority of that time. (Also, I understand that the most recent RFP for that went out 4 years ago, not 2.)

          Also – you mentioned “disabled”.  I’m not sure if that’s the same pot of money that’s used for senior housing.

          A more “apples to apples” comparison might be to examine the history of the proposal in Woodland, how much funding it has received, and how soon (e.g., since it was first proposed).

          Seems to me that you’re (once again) ready to jump on the developers’ bandwagon, and announce “mission accomplished” – as a certain past president had done. (And again, it reminds me of how you “downplayed” the lack of funding for a bicycle overpass from Olive, toward campus – in reference to Lincoln 40.)

          Maybe you can do some actual investigate reporting without me (first) suggesting it, next time?

          I’m not sure if you realize how much your development-oriented bias consistently shows up, here.

          Perhaps the biggest (overall) elephant in the room is the lack of RDA money, these days.

        10. David Greenwald

          Maybe you should look into the history of Mace Ranch…

          The RFP went out in 2014.  There was a competitive process that was finalized in May 2016 with the selection of Creekside.  They then secured funding in just over two years (you don’t get funding until you get approval).

          My point: the developers here said they could get the funding to the build the project at WDAAC.  They just got it for Creekside.  They also have been developing a senior affordable housing project in Dixon in three phrases – all funded.  Seems like they have the ability to deliver.

          You want to parse stuff out further, go for it.

        11. Ron

          David:  Your lack of interest in investigating this further really shows.

          Regarding Creekside – was the 15-25 year delay a factor, in finally obtaining funding?  Is the same pot of money (and same criteria) used to obtain funding for disabled housing (as for senior housing)?

          Regarding Dixon, what are the timeframes regarding initial identification of the sites, vs. obtaining funding?  And, did some of that occur during the period in which RDA money was available, or during a period in which there was less competition due to rising prices?

          Regarding the senior Affordable proposal in Woodland – no response from you, regarding timeline, the amount of funding received, etc.

          But, it sounds like you’re more interested in calling “strawman” (in reference to the wrong party), vs. performing actual investigation.

          On a broader level, WDAAC is primarily a market-rate, peripheral, suburban-style senior-only development (in which the “Davis-buyer” program has been challenged, but with uncertain impacts if the development is approved by voters).

          And again, there’s no loss to the Affordable housing developers resulting from their support of WDAAC, even if their subsequent efforts fail. (If they’re so confident of this, perhaps they could line up funding at the WDAAC location or some other site that’s actually in the city, prior to presenting WDAAC to voters.) However, from what I’ve seen, it never works that way regarding “promised amenities”.

        12. Ron

          I’ve finally realized that Affordable housing developers (and those that support them) can be “agents of sprawl”.  All to obtain a free site, which essentially consists of a few crumbs in a larger development, in which the monetary value of the site is greatly enhanced by voter approval.

          All while the city has been struggling to manage its own Affordable development (Pacifico), which has somehow “morphed” from providing student housing.

          By the way, is Neighborhood Partners a non-profit?  (I can’t immediately determine this, from their website.)  (Not that non-profits are necessarily on a “mission from God”, to begin with.) I see that they are an “LLC”, but I’m not sure if this precludes non-profit status.

          http://npllc.org/

        13. Ron

          Also – I recall that a primary reason that the city weakened its Affordable housing requirement was supposedly due to the lack of RDA money.

          Seems like there’s either “no money”, or “plenty of money” for Affordable housing – depending upon what developers and their advocates propose at any given time.

          It must get pretty confusing to argue both sides of this.

        14. Craig Ross

          One problem is that you appear to not understand the difference between land dedication sites and integrated affordable housing on infill sites.  Might also be worth noting that even on WDAAC, they are getting to 27 percent affordable units, not 35 percent.

        15. Ron

          Craig:  I do understand it, but it seems that path was not chosen for Nishi or Lincoln40, for example.  (One might ask how much external funding for Affordable development was permanently “lost” as a result of the different approach used at those developments – assuming that such funds are actually available.) And as noted earlier, there is a large Affordable development site on Fifth Street that for some unexplained reason has remained undeveloped for somewhere between 15-25 years.

          The underlying presumption here is that the only way to obtain external funding for Affordable housing is to obtain a “free” land dedication site.  If that is actually the case, then Affordable housing developers will consistently be aligned with primary developers of sprawling developments.  Perhaps something to remember, if/when efforts are made to fully restore such external funds.

          And, this alliance (between primary developers and Affordable housing developers) will continue to be in effect regardless of the composition of the proposed peripheral development (e.g., senior housing, family housing, workforce housing, etc). I’m not convinced (to say the least) that having such an alliance is in the best interest of the community, at large.

        16. Craig Ross

          You say you understand it, but then you say things that lead me to believe you don’t.

          Nishi and Lincoln40 are very different.  Lincoln40 is a tiny infill site, where you have no room for land dedication.  You don’t seem to understand how that would be different from WDAAC.

          Nishi is the anomaly here.  It seems the developer intentionally chose to do student affordable rather than land dedication, which meant it was internally subsidized.  That means they did not seek grants and other external subsidies to fund it.

          It seems like David tried to explain to you multiply times here that Mace Ranch had a very weird history – but you don’t seem to understand or appreciate that either.  Or at least acknowledge it.

          I understand you’re basically anti-growth on everything, but what I don’t understand is why you don’t do your own homework and try to at least understand how stuff works. It would make you more effective in your advocacy and it would stop wasting other people’s time trying in vain to explain stuff to you that you could find out with a quick lesson.

        17. Ron

          Craig:  “You say you understand it, but then you say things that lead me to believe you don’t.”

          “Nishi and Lincoln40 are very different.  Lincoln40 is a tiny infill site, where you have no room for land dedication.”

          They are different, but I haven’t seen anyone address whether or not Lincoln40 had room for a land dedication site.  More importantly, there seems to be a presumption here that the only way to obtain external funding is via a land dedication site.  I’ve seen no evidence of that.  But, if that’s the case, then there’s bigger problems regarding the entire structure of funding for Affordable housing.  (In that case, it will always lead to an alliance between “regular” and “Affordable” housing developers, supporting sprawling developments.  And, it will encourage Affordable housing developers to state that they’re “confident” that funding can be obtained, but that it is entirely contingent upon approval of sprawling, peripheral developments.)

          Craig:  “Nishi is the anomaly here.  It seems the developer intentionally chose to do student affordable rather than land dedication, which meant it was internally subsidized.  That means they did not seek grants and other external subsidies to fund it.”

          That’s correct.  It presumably means that significant external funding for Affordable housing was “lost”, as a result.

          Craig:  “It seems like David tried to explain to you multiply times here that Mace Ranch had a very weird history – but you don’t seem to understand or appreciate that either.  Or at least acknowledge it.”

          Stating that something has a “very weird history” is not very informative.  In fact, David seemed to know nothing at all about the site, until I brought it up yesterday. He was apparently preoccupied with arguing about the definition of “guarantee”, for the past few articles.

          Craig:  “I understand you’re basically anti-growth on everything, but what I don’t understand is why you don’t do your own homework and try to at least understand how stuff works. It would make you more effective in your advocacy and it would stop wasting other people’s time trying in vain to explain stuff to you that you could find out with a quick lesson.”

          I’m sorry, I thought this was a place for discussion, learning, and challenging unsupported assumptions.  And, from what I’ve seen, you’re a consistent advocate for more development.

        18. David Greenwald

          “In fact, David seemed to know nothing at all about the site, until I brought it up yesterday. ”

          Actually the problem was that you kept describing the site as being located at 5th and Pena.  I knew they had just put in Del Rio there,  so I was confused as to what you were talking about. I asked you several times for clarification as to what project it was and somehow you couldn’t be bothered to find out what the name was until I finally figured out you must be referring to Creekside. Had you named it correctly and located it correctly I might’ve been able to be more helpful. I also pointed out to you that I’ve been very sick but you don’t seem to care. I have just about had it with your condescending attitude.

        19. Ron

          David:  I recall the conversation quite differently, but I am (sincerely) sorry that you’re not feeling well.

          I became involved in this primarily because of your incessant challenges regarding the use of the word “guarantee”, and failure to acknowledge that the “straw man” argument actually originated via the developers’ claims.

          I brought up the Creekside development because it is an example of how things don’t always proceed as planned (or “promised”). (And, in this case, the plans apparently stretched on for somewhere between 15-25 years.) I had also brought up that example to facilitate discussion (and learning for everyone, including myself).

          I actually view the entire Affordable housing component as a sideshow, in regard to the overall proposal.

        20. David Greenwald

          My recollection of this discussion was: “Guess we’d have to ask why the large Affordable housing site on 5th near Pena (which has been there for years) remains vacant. ”

          And it proceeded from there.

          I agree with you that it is an example of why you can’t guarantee anything, but the word guarantee came from a post by Rik Keller and an article from Alan Pryor.  I was trying to point out that the city and developer had put enough language into the BFP to insure that the affordable project was reasonably assured of being built.

          The example of Creekside is actually not a good one.  Mace Ranch was not approved as a city project – it was imposed on the city by the county.  Read the link that Don provided, that’s the best history I know of Mace Ranch.

          If that’s the one case of an affordable site that got significantly delayed, I think the city has done a pretty admirable job of building what they have promised in terms of affordable housing.

          If you see this as a side show, that’s fine.  But understand again, this is the largest affordable project in the city – by a large margin.

        21. Ron

          David:  I haven’t seen any proof that “free” land dedication sites from peripheral developments are the only way for Affordable housing developers to obtain funding.

          But, if that’s the case, then there’s much bigger problems regarding the funding structure for Affordable housing. This would result in a permanent, ongoing corrupting influence (and alliance) between primary developers of peripheral housing, and Affordable housing developers. For each and every peripheral/sprawling development proposal, the primary developers would then “trot out” the Affordable housing developers, in an attempt to influence the process.

          And again, there’s been no acknowledgement of the challenges in the post-RDA world, or competition from other proposals as housing prices rise throughout the region and state (including another competing senior Affordable development in Woodland, which is also the responsibility of Neighborhood Partners).  Again, it might be more interesting if you posted verifiable links/information which show exactly when that site was first dedicated, how much funding was received, and how much funding is still needed.

  6. Jeff M

    Point One – If the requirement is 150 600 sq ft affordable housing units without government financing assist, then the project would not be built.

    Point Two – The developer will absolutely seek the path of greatest returns.  This is no different than Alan Pryor seeking HIS path of greatest returns except that Alan Pryor has not financial skin in this game.

    Point Three – We are seeing the frustration of those that voted for the politicians that, and either tacitly or explicitly supported it too, the end of RDA.  It seems these people are having to sleep in the bed that they made.   I find this last point quite enjoyable from a political perspective.  Instead of affordable housing we have more well-paid, well-retired government employees.  That was the choice made. Not a choice I made, but a choice the people doing the most complaining about affordable housing made.

    1. Jeff M

      Someone smarter than me pointed out that I probably don’t know if Alan Pryor has any financial skin in the game for this project.  I don’t.  I assume.  But I could be wrong.

      The point I wanted to make is that everyone pursues their own self interest, but capital is king.  Because without capital nothing gets done.  If the city wants to satisfy social justice policy goals, it would be good to have some capital to help get that done.  The city used to have RDA, but Governor Brown and the state Democrats raided that program to give to government employees.  Many of the people on this blog currently wringing their hands over the lack of affordable housing previously supported that raid.  So now the city is in a beggar and looter position to try and get it done.  That approach is weak because it lacks sufficient leverage.  The lack of public-side capital puts this city, and most CA cities, in a pickle where they cannot even lead the developer-horse to water, let alone make it drink. The developer knows that there is a need for housing in general.  The developer knows that he can fill this need.  The city shows its hand as eager to get any housing.  But affordable units are at a loss.  Why should the developer build anything at a loss?  Why should anyone with capital be forced to spend that on community wants that not only lack a return, but result in a negative return?   If there is public money to subsidize the loss, then it can get done.  Otherwise it is silly to keep trying to shame a developer for pursuing his own interests over spending his capital to fill the self-interests of others.

  7. Howard P

    Re: Affordable housing site on Fifth

    It was a single parcel originally created with the Mace Ranch Park project.

    Windmere 1, then later, 2 were then carved out of the lot and developed.

    The vacant parcel that remains was proposed for an affordable project, circa 2008.  it would have provided some for-sale affordable homes, and as I recall some affordable MF.  It was approved, a map was prepared and checked by the City, and improvement plans prepared and very close to approval, if not approved.  The then developer (from Sacto, not Thompson/Watkins) was unable to follow thru, for reasons I am not aware of.  The City acquired the plans/maps, and tried to find someone else to “get ‘er done”.  That led to the most recent RFP effort that David alludes to.

    I’d have to do some research in the City files.  I charge about $75/hour that sort of professional research (up to twice as much, depending on client).  Then I could be more precise in the history and more details… don’t believe any staff involved in maps, improvement drawings, at the previous times still are employed by the City now.  Some retired, some moved on to other employers.

    What I wrote above is a “freebie”, and provides ‘hints’ that anyone could use to do their own research.

    1. Ron

      Thanks, Howard.

      Pretty sure that I noticed a sign designating the site for Affordable housing several years prior to 2008.

      Perhaps all of this might conclude one to state that funding for Affordable housing is “complicated” (as one of the Affordable housing developers acknowledged in another recent article, I believe), and to conclude that it is not “guaranteed” in advance.

      And, perhaps Pacifico proves that it is not always well-run, even when it’s built.

      1. Howard P

        You did see such a sign.   It was prompted by some folks opposition to affordable housing, claiming they were never told the property could be “affordable housing” (the classic “we don’t like folk like that (“them”) near our neighborhood”).  Bigots.

        Hence the sign, as a public disclosure that the property was intended for affordable housing… curtailing at least one argument when a project was proposed.

        I remember it well…

        1. Ron

          That is interesting, but confirms that the site was intended for Affordable housing for many years (and remains undeveloped to this day).  Apparently, funding has recently been obtained.

          Hope that ongoing funding is sufficient to ensure that it’s well-run and maintained, and that it doesn’t end up like Pacifico. (Perhaps the fear that you’re referring to is based upon real-life examples of problems, and not necessarily bigotry.)

        2. Ron

          Relevance?  I believe that the Affordable site in question was/is owned by the city. (Perhaps not after Neighborhood Partners took it over – but not sure about that. Did they get that site for free – from the city?)

          Left unanswered is why funding was apparently not obtained, during the 15-25 years since the site was first dedicated for Affordable housing. (Despite the availability of RDA money during this period.)

        3. David Greenwald

          The relevance is that when the city these days conducts development, land is set aside and dedicated at the time of entitlement.  That does not appear to be the case with this property.  Which leads to the key question: When did the land go to the city?  Mace Ranch actually predates the city’s affordable housing ordinance.  The staff reports, I just reviewed, don’t have a full history that goes back before 2014 when the RFP was put out.  Regardless, I don’t see that the history of this property is particularly relevant to whether or not WDAAC’s affordable will get built.  Creekside reverted to NP in 2016, and they have funding to build the housing – that seems far more important than the history prior to 2014.

        4. Howard P

          Ron… this is getting tiresome…

          The parcel was originally created as a “bank” for potential AH obligations for future developers within MRP.

          (Ramos et al., aka MRI) were not residential developers)

          Some developers who purchased large lots to subdivide, did their AH component within their project.  Others bought portions of the “bank” from MRI, and they gave that property to the actual AH developers (as I recall, that was Windmere 1 & 2).

          Mace Ranch Investors did not develop residential property, and hence had no AH obligation.  The folks who bought land from them, and did residential development, had the obligation.

          Done with “freebies”.

        5. Ron

          It’s strange that responses are made, but no one can answer the question regarding why the site in Mace Ranch was dedicated for Affordable housing decades ago, but funding was not obtained until recently.

          Nor is there any discussion regarding the potential impact that the delay had, regarding the recent funding of the site. (In other words, was it then “fast-tracked”, due to the decades-long delay?)

          Also, are funding sources different for this site, due to the newly-dedicated population (disabled individuals)? (Which is a recent change from the original plan?)

          I’d suggest letting this example be what it is, rather than continuing to post irrelevant information.

          Hopefully, David will move on from this, and refrain from further disputing the statement regarding “guarantees”.

           

           

          1. Don Shor

            It’s strange that responses are made, but no one can answer the question regarding why the site in Mace Ranch was dedicated for Affordable housing decades ago, but funding was not obtained until recently.

            Because there was no specific project proposal for which to seek funding. The property owners were land developers, not housing developers. I’m pretty sure you can’t go to HUD or other financing agencies and apply for grants unless you have an actual project proposal. In fact, I’d guess (someone can correct me on this if I’m wrong) that funding for WDAAC affordable housing would be several steps down the process. The land isn’t even zoned for it yet. So I suspect that nobody can even seek specific funding until the voters approve the annexation, and possibly even further into the planning process. A cursory look on Google shows any number of funding sources which are likely different in what they require, but I can’t imagine any agency granting even preliminary funding to a site that hasn’t even been entitled yet.
            http://davismerchants.org/vanguard/google%20funding%20housing

        6. Ron

          Don:  “The property owners were land developers, not housing developers.”

          Are you sure about that? And, if so, why would they hold onto the property for decades, turning it over only recently?

          1. Don Shor

            Are you sure about that?

            That’s pretty much what Howard said in his reply earlier.

            And, if so, why would they hold onto the property for decades, turning it over only recently?

            That’s what land developers do. They work with a different planning horizon than the rest of us.

        7. Ron

          Don:  “That’s pretty much what Howard said in his reply earlier.”

          Right – “rock-solid evidence”.  🙂

          I’d suggest just letting this example be.  Seems like no one has all the answers, regarding the reason that Affordable housing was delayed for decades, at this site.

          1. Don Shor

            The parcel was originally created as a “bank” for potential AH obligations for future developers within MRP.

            (Ramos et al., aka MRI) were not residential developers)

            Some developers who purchased large lots to subdivide, did their AH component within their project. Others bought portions of the “bank” from MRI, and they gave that property to the actual AH developers (as I recall, that was Windmere 1 & 2).

            Mace Ranch Investors did not develop residential property, and hence had no AH obligation. The folks who bought land from them, and did residential development, had the obligation.

            Done with “freebies”.

        8. Howard P

          Ron… tiresome [edited]… again… one last, and I mean last “freebie on this subject”

          The actual developers of MRP specialized in non-res development… Buzz Oates, in particular.  MRI entitled the land, put in “backbone infrastructure” (arterial/collector streets and utilities), then sold the res properties to others.  I say 3 times…

          The original land WAS NOT dedicated to the City.  It was held by MRI.  MRI had no AH obligation… but they could ‘leverage it’ to attract buyers for the residentially zoned property.  And, they did.  Guaranteed!

  8. David Thompson

    Dear Vanguard Readers:

    The City of Davis had a competition for the Fifth Street site which concluded in late 2015. NP won the competition but due to re-zoning requirements NP was not awarded site control until mid 2016. By this summer of 2018 NP had obtained the full funding to build the entire project.

    Notwithstanding some claims on this blog, of 15-25 years without results 2016 was the first year that NP had anything to do with the Fifth Street site. Our results were achieved mid 2018.

    Neighborhood Partners, LLC.

     

    1. Ron

      How is your funding proceeding with the (competing) senior Affordable housing site in Woodland?  (In other words, when was the site first dedicated for such use, how much funding has been received, and how much remains unfunded?)

      This might be a better comparison than the site in Mace Ranch.

  9. Ron

    Sorry, my computer crashed before I could post the following citation from the article, above:

    At the same time, the California Housing Partnership estimates that state and federal funding for low-income housing in California dropped 67% to $892 million annually between 2009 and 2015.

    Here’s a quote from another article:

    The new funding comes at a critical time for developers, who lost a major source of funding with the elimination of local redevelopment agencies (RDAs) in 2012. The RDAs generated roughly $1 billion each year for affordable housing.
    The cap-and-trade program doesn’t fill the hole, but it helps.

    https://www.housingfinance.com/finance/california-awards-cap-and-trade-funds_o

     

  10. Ron

    So, here’s the bottom line:

    David has spent an inordinate amount of time/energy writing articles challenging Alan P.’s factual statement that there is no guarantee that the Affordable housing development will be built.  The site in question is approximately 5% of the land area of the total site.

    I’m more concerned that the funding structure encourages Affordable housing developers to “team up” with primary developers, to advocate for peripheral, sprawling developments.  There’s also a built-in incentive for Affordable housing developers to paint an optimistic scenario regarding funding, despite the challenges presented by the loss of RDA funds (combined with increased competition for such funds, throughout the state).

    One might also contemplate the opposition from some of the usual commenters, in regard to these simple points.  Responding to these comments essentially results in extended nonsensical arguments, for hours (and sometimes days) on end.  Perhaps a reason that some are reluctant to participate, on here.  It essentially becomes a full-time job, for those willing to take it on. And, it’s difficult to determine if any light is actually shed, as a result.

     

    1. Don Shor

      You post complete nonsense like this:

      By the way, “Neighborhood Partners” (Dave Thompson’s group) is apparently responsible for the undeveloped Affordable housing site that I’ve referenced a number of times, on Fifth Street.

      15 years and counting. (Although I believe Neighborhood Partners took over the proposal more recently than that.)

      Maybe they (will now) truly have the “Midas Touch” – even when all other efforts have failed? These guys are the “Supermen” of Affordable housing?

      You ask the same question over and over. You basically demand answers that you could look up yourself.
      And then finish with stuff like this?

      One might also contemplate the opposition from some of the usual commenters, in regard to these simple points. Responding to these comments essentially results in extended nonsensical arguments, for hours (and sometimes days) on end. Perhaps a reason that some are reluctant to participate, on here. It essentially becomes a full-time job, for those willing to take it on. And, it’s difficult to determine if any light is actually shed, as a result.

      You are abusing your anonymous posting privilege, Ron. I urge you to be more circumspect in your comments.

    2. David Greenwald Post author

      Actually I have to say, in fairness to Alan, I have spent far more time chasing your issue down a rabbit hole than I did on the issue of guarantee. I may disagree with Alan on things, but at least he spends time and attempts to research them.

      1. Ron

        David:  A large part of the reason that I decided to respond in this article was due to your incessant, day-after-day articles criticizing Alan P’.s use of the word “guarantee”.

        Regarding “my issue”, I’d suggest that it might be of general interest to examine the reasons that one large Affordable housing site in Davis has remained undeveloped for decades.  I asked about this more than once (and in more than one way) because it was never answered. (Instead, some irrelevant information was posted.) At one point, I recall that someone implied that the recent success at the Fifth Street site (after decades of delay) was due to the fact that Neighborhood Partners took it over, as if that was the reason that it was finally funded. (I wouldn’t necessarily conclude that, hence my sarcasm regarding the “Midas Touch”.) I also asked some additional questions regarding that site that were never answered, but were perhaps pertinent regarding the entire funding history (including more recent factors).

        You did answer the other question regarding whether or not funding had (finally) been obtained.  I’m not sure if you were “tipped off” to this information by the developer, but it doesn’t really matter.  (Based upon another responses that was apparently filtered through you, it appears that you were in contact with him off this site.)  Please note that I had tried to find the answer on my own, but did not see anything despite some extensive effort.  Perhaps such answers to such questions are interesting to some others who are gauging the accuracy of the arguments put forth on here.  Regardless, such discussions and sharing of information is (or could be) an important role for the Vanguard.  (Unless one prefers to limit their content on here strictly to political advocacy.) 

        I find it very strange that some “complain” about engaging in conversation on here, while simultaneously continuing to do so.  (As if they were “forced”.)  It’s even more amusing when they present their response as some kind of personal favor, and then post information that is both irrelevant and incorrect.  (There’s an example of that, above.)

        I noticed that Don still hasn’t allowed by 11:12 p.m. response to his comment from last night (for some unexplained reason), but I have no concerns if he chooses to delete it at this point.  (I’ve covered most of my response in this comment, instead.)  In reviewing that comment, I am not sure what he found in any of my posts that’s worse than what some others post on here (including anonymous commenters).  (Admittedly a very low bar.)  Perhaps we could all strive to do better.
         

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          “A large part of the reason that I decided to respond in this article was due to your incessant, day-after-day articles criticizing Alan P’.s use of the word “guarantee”.”

          I made one comment this week to Rik Keller noting the Baseline Features and then wrote one article in response to Alan’s article. That’s hardly “incessant, day-after-day” articles…

          As I wrote this morning elsewhere, I think your argument and noting about Creekside actually bolsters the point that David Thompson is making. There was no set aside affordable housing in the original Wild Horse. The process started in 2014, by 2016 they approved Creekside, by 2018 they had funding. That would seem to lend credence to the notion that this developer can get funding for the affordable portion of WDAAC – would it not? You have yet to acknowledge that.

          Once I figured out what project you were talking about, it was easy to see that the project was on the agenda this week for the council and that they announced they had the funding. I’m skeptical as to how much work you did when it was in plain sight.

        2. Jim Hoch

          “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.”

          “That would seem to lend credence to the notion that this developer can get funding for the affordable portion of WDAAC – would it not?”

        3. Ron

          Seems to me that your concern regarding the use of the word came up more than once, and in more than one article.  But, I’m not inclined at the moment to research this, so I won’t challenge your statement any further regarding that.

          Regarding the fact that Neighborhood Partners was finally able to obtain funding (decades after the site was first reserved for Affordable housing), one would have to know if there are other factors which enabled that to occur.  Off the top of my head, I provided some factors that might have enabled that to finally occur, which had nothing to do with Neighborhood Partners.  Of course, Neighborhood Partners would have more knowledge regarding this, but one would then have to trust that they would be totally forthcoming in their response, while simultaneously having a vested interest in presenting that information in a positive light.  Under any normal circumstances, this would not a good way to obtain unbiased, verified information.

          At a certain point, I acknowledged that the Mace Ranch site may not be the best example, as pointed out by others.  Ironically, some others still continued to respond with irrelevant, and incorrect information (while simultaneously complaining about “having” to do so).  Make of that what you will.

          I then asked Neighborhood Partners about the status of another, competing senior Affordable site (in Woodland), which might be a better example to use (regarding initial identification of the site, how much funding has been obtained, how much remains unfunded).  But, no response was provided. (I believe that Alan P. mentioned this site in a different article.) In reviewing Neighborhood Partners’ website, I seem to recall that there might be more than one such competing senior Affordable proposal, in Woodland.

          I then posted some general articles which showed how severe the recent cuts to funding for Affordable housing have been in recent years, to provide some perspective.  Again, this is another issue that simply hasn’t been addressed.

          At this point, I’d suggest just letting these questions be reminders that there is no “guarantee”.

        4. David Greenwald

          “Seems to me that your concern regarding the use of the word came up more than once, and in more than one article.  But, I’m not inclined at the moment to research this, so I won’t challenge your statement any further regarding that.”

          It seems to me that if you are going to accuse me of doing something, you should be prepared to back it up or take it back.

        5. Howard P

          I asked about this more than once (and in more than one way) because it was never answered. (Instead, some irrelevant information was posted.)

          Asked and answered… at least twice, but that is apparently “irrelevant”… assuming you’re talking of the Fifth/San Sebastian site.

          Show me where that site was owned by the City prior to 2006 (with the date), how it was acquired, and where it was required to be developed.  You can’t, but go ahead and try.  If you have the…

        6. Ron

          Howard:  I’ve already provided evidence that your earlier statement was flat-out wrong, regarding ownership of the site.

          Perhaps it’s time for you to “do some research” and provide evidence, in response to your own questions. But, I’d suggest that the answer is likely irrelevant, at this point.

          Perhaps its time to move on, from this article.

  11. Rik Keller

    This article reads like something from The Onion:

    “Area Man Who Wants To Sell You Something: Fact That There Is No Contract Is Fine, Just Fine”

    Looking at things more closely, I don’t think David Greenwald even knows what a strawman argument is. One definition [Wikipedia]; “A straw man is a common form of argument and is an informal fallacy based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent’s argument, while actually refuting an argument that was not presented by that opponent.”

    Is Alan Pryor’s argument that there is no guarantee  for affordable housing in the project really a strawman in the sense that the opponents have made no arguments about that the affordable housing will actually get built? No. The project proponents and Greenwald by extension, are merely arguing about the level of guarantees that the project does or doesn’t have.

    Another appropriate headline:

    “Area Man Doesn’t Know What A Strawman Argument Is, But Thinks The Phrase Looks Good In A Headline”

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