While I remain agnostic on the specifics of Measure L – the West Davis Active Adult Community – I remain concerned that the attacks on the affordable housing portion of the project will make building affordable housing more difficult in the future, particularly on Measure R projects.
One of the reasons for that is many of the criticisms of the current project have less to do with the particulars of Measure L and more to do with the logistics of a land dedication site.
Part of my problem here is that Mr. Pryor, who has authored a number of the pieces criticizing the project, has said he does not support land dedication as an option. The problem with that is it leaves little in the way of alternatives. Internal subsidies will mean fewer and smaller affordable options.
However, ironically, he states, “I think every developer should be made to actually build their own low-income housing on site just as at Cannery, Sterling, Lincoln 40, Nishi, and proposed for the 2 big residential projects in South Davis.”
Ironically, several of these actually have their own land dedication components. As we have pointed out, several of them also offer a good deal fewer affordable units than Measure L.
In Sunday’s Enterprise, David Thompson and William Powell, president of Davis Senior Housing Communities (DSHC), pushed back on these attacks with a number of points that Mr. Thompson already has raised in the Vanguard.
They argue: “The future needs of low-income seniors in Davis should not become the cannon fodder of the No on Measure L campaign in their false war on the facts about affordable senior housing. We believe Davis seniors deserve better and that Davis voters deserve an honest debate.”
They note that the opponents argue, vehemently, “there is no guarantee that the required low-income housing will ever be built.”
They write: “The statement above is highlighted on an 8-foot-wide No on Measure L banner.” They ask, “Why make this untrue and factually unsupported accusation that the senior housing may never be built?”
They point out: “Over a nearly 30-year history, 1,100 apartments, housing over 3,000 people, valued at over 200 million dollars have been built on the 33 parcels set aside for affordable housing in Davis.”
Instead they counter: “To assert to the Davis voter that affordable housing will never be built on this specific one piece of land is a vacuous example of false electioneering. With 3.7 acres of donated free land, free infrastructure and improvements and substantial state and federal funding sources available to Davis Senior Communities of course this campus will be built.
“To claim otherwise is to go against 30 years of proven reality that are real homes to over 3,000 low-income Davis residents and neighbors,” they add.
Mr. Thompson and Mr. Powell then point out the claim in the ballot argument: “West Davis Active Adult Community will not build ANY low-income housing itself like every other major development in Davis has done in recent years”
They respond: “We have pointed out that this statement is not even close to being factual. The No campaign keeps repeating massive untruths in an attempt to mislead the Davis voter. We don’t mind having a debate, but when it comes to building needed housing for low income seniors, the lies harm those seniors most in need in our community.
“With the waiting lists for four affordable senior housing communities being now at 441 and a wait of over three years, a number of Davis seniors will be forced to leave town.”
They continue: “The donation of land to be set aside for affordable housing is the most valuable mechanism used by the city. The value of the land contributed to a nonprofit allows that land to be leveraged through state and federal programs to provide the highest subsidies and the lowest apartment rents.”
They continue by showing a number of affordable apartments built over the past 30 years that have similar structures: 13 of them.
They argue: “Likewise, DSHC at WDAAC will feature 150 apartments built by a separate local nonprofit on donated land.” They note: “Those 13 prior developments donated acres of valuable land, infrastructure and improvements for local nonprofits to provide 570 affordable apartments available to Davis residents.”
Some of these go back decades, but several were actually build in the mid-2000s and are around 10 years old or just older. For instance, Eleanor Roosevelt Circle opened in 2008, Cesar Chavez in 2006, Moore Village 2005, Tremont Green 2004, and Owendale 2003.
The opponents can argue that most weren’t built in the last 10 years, and they are correct, but not much of anything has been built in the last ten years. It is not clear that Mr. Pryor is making a meaningful differentiation.
Bottom line: there is no actual guarantee that anything promised will be built. But as David Thompson and Luke Watkins pointed out in an interview with the Vanguard, in 40 years they’ve never not built a project. They have express incentives to make sure that they do so here. And the city has options to take over the land if they don’t.
I think there are better and more fruitful areas for the opposition to focus on.
I am not seeing a huge push against this project at this point. It doesn’t seem like their efforts thus far are gaining much traction.
—David M. Greenwald reporting