By Don Shor
It seems there is a desire for a debate on Measure L, the West Davis Active Adult Community proposal.
Per Rik Keller:
The No On WDAAC campaign has been quite transparent, and you can read very detailed factual analysis on multiple topics here: http://www.noonwdaac.org/
Okay, perhaps this can start the debate. Numbered items are quotes from the website. My answers are intentionally brief. I am not involved in the campaign and am doing this simply to promote dialogue.
- 1. WDAAC does not meet our City’s real demographic needs for more diverse and affordable housing for working families and those of moderate income.
— No, of course it doesn’t. It’s a senior housing development.
- 2. WDAAC does not meet the needs of seniors of ordinary means.
— Define “ordinary.” It’s intended for people who are moving from one house to another, presumably based on the equity they’ve accumulated in their current house. That can be considerable if they’ve lived there for a long time.
- 3. The Developer’s “Taking Care of Our Own – Davis-Based Buyers Program” is inherently exclusionary, certainly illegal, and does not reflect Davis’ values of inclusivity and diversity.
— Maybe. It was proposed, if I recall, in response to feedback they got at the public presentations that new housing was likely to go to out-of-town buyers. Given the full-court press against this Davis-only covenant for the majority of the housing and the likely risk of a lawsuit or civil rights complaint, I’d guess they’ll drop that. So I’m not sure there’s much more to discuss about this topic.
- 4. The proposed low-income senior housing component of WDAAC is a ruse. The developer is not making ANY contribution to the low-income housing construction costs and there is no guarantee in the Development Agreement that the low-income units will ever be built.
— The builder is donating land that is worth a lot of money. The process they are using is similar to what has been done for many other projects locally. They are partnering with a team that has a proven track record in this regard.
4.a. WDAAC includes Massive Developer Give-Aways, May Actually Cost the City Money on an Annual Basis, and the Development Agreement is Non-Binding and Weak.
— I’ll skip the ‘give-aways.’ As with Nishi, the city staff used a particular model and the majority of the relevant commission accepts the general conclusion that the project will likely not “cost the city money on an annual basis.” At least one commissioner feels otherwise, but that is a minority opinion.
- 5. The City has granted the developer massive give-aways and subsidies by, among other things, reducing project impact fees by over $3.4 million compared to fees normally charged to new developments.
— I don’t feel like fact-checking this. Opponents of development projects always want to extract more money from developers. I’ll just assume staff and the relevant commissions have done their jobs. I’m guessing opponents feel otherwise. They usually do. Maybe this particular item is worth a separate column.
- 6. The City projects a positive annual return to City coffers as a result of build-out of this project. However, this estimate is based on accounting methods that assume unsubstantiated reduced costs on a per resident basis for providing basic City services.
— Already addressed above.
- 7. There are no guarantees that this project will ever be built as proposed because the Baseline Features are vague and imprecise and the Development Agreement is exceedingly weak.
— City council has to approve any change in the development agreement. Some might actually require another Measure R vote, though I suspect the developers wouldn’t be foolish enough to make any changes that would require that.
7.a. WDAAC is a Sprawling, Unsustainable Development, In Wrong Location for a Senior Development, and Opens Up the Entire Northwest Quadrant without any Planning
— Sprawling? It’s a normal housing development. “Unsustainable?” Compared to what? It’s located near the hospital and medical facilities and very near to the other major senior housing complex in Davis.
Yes, it does indeed expand Davis to the west. It would be a great time to get going on the General Plan update we’ve been discussing for 5+ years. Maybe this will help jump-start that process. But every single annexation in the Northwest Quadrant would require a Measure R vote. Citizens have complete control of the process, General Plan update or not.
- 8. The far edge of town is exactly the wrong location for a senior development and this project has exceedingly poor connectivity for seniors.
— The development would be near a neighborhood shopping center that can provide the basic daily needs of seniors, including a pharmacy, and medical offices are right nearby.
- 9. WDAAC is a sprawling development reminiscent of the 1950s and 1960s. It does not meet any of the Sacramento Council of Governments’ (SACOG) Seven Principles for Smart Growth and clearly needs more density, different and diverse building types, and good transportation infrastructure.
— Ok, here are the Seven Principles:
Provide a variety of transportation choices • Offer housing choices and opportunities • Take advantage of compact development • Use existing assets • Mixed land uses • Preserve open space, farmland, natural beauty, through natural resources conservation • Encourage distinctive, attractive communities with quality design.
WDAAC is not intended to be a development for the whole community. It is senior housing. The way to assess it with respect to these seven principles would be in the context of the nearby neighborhoods and the likely future developments that would go in. Not every single housing development is going to meet every one of the ‘seven principles’. As senior housing goes, it will be convenient for the residents and many people will like the location.
- 10. WDAAC opens up the entire northwest quadrant of the City to speculative, piecemeal development with no overall, comprehensive Specific or Master Plan for the area whatsoever.
— Yep. Better get moving on that planning process. I’ve looked at our General Plan and I’m not sure what other parts of town have detailed specific or master plans in place. But it is a fact that planning is partly reactive (in response to development proposals) and partly proactive. It’s also a reality that planning doesn’t occur quickly, efficiently, or very effectively in this town. The way to get started on planning is to have a specific proposal. WDAAC provides that. It is a specific project aimed at a particular demographic, and could become part of a long-term, 30- to 50-year buildout of the northwest quadrant.