My View: Dangerous Game Playing the Race Card on the Buyers Program

I don’t really understand the timing of why the opponents picked this week to launch their attack on the West Davis Active Adult Community (WDAAC).  From a strategic standpoint, it would have made more sense to wait for students to be in town and on campus fully before launching.  As it turns out, a lot of the oxygen got sucked out of the room this week on a number of issues because of what happened on the national stage.

Nevertheless, despite a lot of coverage in the Sacramento media market early this week, I just don’t see much in the way of traction on the issue of the Davis-Based Buyers Program being a civil rights issue.

In this age of social media, things either go viral or they don’t.  I have a whole bunch of theories as to why this one has not – but it just hasn’t.  Maybe it is too contrived.  Maybe people don’t see the connection between a senior housing project and racial discrimination.  Maybe some of the same people who would normally be concerned about racial discrimination are angry that the same people making this case are the same people trying to stop badly needed housing in town.

Maybe this has become the ultimate in lawsuit fatigue – the slow growth movement has become the boy that cried wolf, suing on every issue.  Maybe it’s the fact that no one knows the plaintiff, Samuel Ignacio, who doesn’t even seem to be a registered voter in Davis.

I don’t know what the reason is.  I just know, at the end of the day, there is very little push back here.  Very few people showed up to the council meeting.  Social media is focused heavily on national issues.  I’ve not received any emails on it other than from a certain former councilmember.  There are no letters to the editor.

Could things change in the last month?  Yes.  But, as of now, I don’t see any traction on the issue of civil rights.

The irony is that opponents of this project really didn’t need to use the race card to attack the Davis-Based Buyer’s Program.  The opponents are correct, this program is central to the developers’ story and their theory of this project.  It’s vulnerable enough on legal grounds.

The narrative that they will tell you goes something like this.  Davis is an aging population.  Many folks who are aging live in large single-family homes which they purchased 30 years or more ago when they had families and needed the space.  But now that they are in their 60s and 70s and beyond, they no longer need that space.

Many of them remain active and healthy, but they don’t need a four-bedroom home which they don’t use and don’t need to maintain and clean.  So, if given an option, some would purchase a smaller home and then sell their core area home to another younger family who has school children.

The problem is that the way the market is structured right now, new homes on the market in Davis are going to get snatched up by Bay Area folks looking for homes that they can afford and fleeing the high over-baked housing market of the Bay Area.

In order to ensure that we are not simply growing the community and providing a housing outlet to the Bay Area, they devised the Davis-Based Buyer’s Program.  They tried to make it broad enough to pass legal muster allowing people with ties to the community or who went to UC Davis or families of people in the area.

The developer has explained to me at multiple points in time that when they met with people in the community, there was a real perceived need for housing for seniors not ready for assisted living but wanting to downsize.  But they also felt the sting of mistakes made with the Cannery, where the perception is that the project has been overly expensive – and quickly bought up by people moving here from the Bay Area rather than serving the needs of those who already live in the community.

Here’s the thing – there are real legal questions about the legality of this program.  Opponents are criticizing the developer for not putting this into the Baseline Project Features, but it seems likely that is because the city is afraid of its legality.

The language is in the development agreement.  The language is quite speculative, as well.

First, it states, “Prior to issuance of any building permit, Developer and its successors and assigns shall (a) develop and implement appropriate local-connection requirements and verification procedures for such a program that are consistent with all applicable Federal and State fair housing requirements, including but not limited to the Federal Fair Housing Act (42 U.S.C. §3604), the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (Gov’t Code 12900 et seq.) and the California Unruh Act (Civil Code §51 et seq.) (the “Fair Housing Requirements”)..”

That makes it clear that, first, the program is not developed yet.  Second, that the city is fearful it may not pass legal muster.  And third, there are provisions that “hold City harmless from any and all claims arising out of Developer’s failure to comply with applicable legal requirements as set forth in or related to the Fair Housing Requirements…”

Want to attack something?  The central premise of the project is based on this buyer’s program that no one knows will pass legal muster.

But instead of attacking it on those grounds, they go for the race card.

I saw this coming a month or so ago and attempted to warn several people not to go this direction.  One reason I think the race card is problematic here is that it is unclear where this project is going to draw from and also what the net impact of the project is going to be on race.  Yes, you have the buyers’ program but the buyers’ program is drawing from seniors, not only those who live in Davis but also who attended UC Davis, which is a bit more diverse.

Seniors as a whole may well be less diverse than the rest of the population, but if that’s the case, you may have trouble making this kind of suit stick.  Further, you have the affordable population and the huge population of extremely low income folks it would draw from.  You’re talking about people making less than $12,000 a year – that is probably going to be fairly diverse.

Unfortunately, I have attempted to get data from the city on the diversity of the 1500 or so low income units – but they don’t have such data.  Tried to do the same with Eleanor Roosevelt Center, which this project is modeled after, and could not get that either.

Finally, there is another problem here – this opens a door to Measure R itself.  Want to argue that Davis is less diverse than the rest of the region?  It’s an easy case to make.  Want to argue that the original residential patterns helped create these realities?  You have a strong point.

But what is keeping the residential patterns and the overall lack of diversity in Davis?  It is not just the cost of housing, because you see much more diverse communities that have higher housing costs.

How about current growth control policies?  Led by Measure R?  So if WDAAC is discriminatory, how is it that Measure R is not?  That’s a door I don’t particularly want to see opened, but that’s the natural and probable outcome of all of this.

I had some opponents of Measure L tell me that Measure R is inclusive because it exempts affordable housing from its requirements.  Yes, so if someone on the periphery of Davis donates their entire land to an affordable developer to put affordable housing on it, it would be exempt.  That seems extremely unlikely to occur.

One of the reasons I am having a hard time here is that the best way to get affordable housing is to have projects come forward that donate land to build on it.  If the WDAAC is approved, the 150-unit affordable site would be by far the largest one in Davis. Creekside, which just got funding, is 73 units.  New Harmony is 69 units.  Moore Village is 59 units.  And WDAAC is 150 units.

If you don’t like WDAAC because it is peripheral housing, because it is relatively low density, because you think the Davis-Based Buyers Program is illegal, those are all legitimate reasons to oppose this project.  But playing the race card here could easily backfire with the actual impact being a legal challenge on Measure R that has been avoided to date.

This was poorly thought out, it doesn’t seem to be working, and it might in fact have huge ramifications that are unforeseen down the line.

—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. Alan Pryor

    David – Could you possibly be more hypocritical? First you say all of our arguments against WDAAC “suck“.

    Then you say our best argument is “Davis based buyer’s program means an all-white senior development most likely“.

    Then you criticize us for playing the “race card“.

    Please read our email thread below which show your obvious biases.

    On Tue, Aug 14, 2018 at 11:55 AM, David Greenwald wrote
    Everyone makes assumptions.  Point of my piece was that the argument against Measure L was a poor one.  I think you can see people like Eric have much stronger arguments to make.  Here’s a juicy one: Davis based buyer’s program means an all-white senior development most likely. (Emphasis added).


    On 8/14/2018 8:38 AM, David M. Greenwald wrote:
    I laid out some of it in my op-ed today.  I’m not sure how motivated I am to help at this point especially since I think the argument you wage against the affordable housing component would basically preclude land dedication on any Measure R projects – which ironically is the only place you can ever get land dedication.


    On Tue, Aug 14, 2018 at 8:09 AM, Alan Pryor wrote:
    OK, David – I’ll bite. What are any of the reasons why you couldn’t support the project, what are the valid arguments raised on the Vanguard against the project, and what are the plenty of reasons not to support the project for which I amazingly fail to identify a single one.


    On 8/14/2018 4:12 AM, David M. Greenwald wrote:
    Wow, Alan, I just read your ballot argument against L and frankly it sucks.  It’s basically boilerplate, anti-development mumbo-jumbo.  It fails to capture any of my reasons why I couldn’t support the project.  It’s amazingly tone death to the valid arguments raised on the Vanguard against the project.  There are plenty of reasons not to vote for this project, but you amazingly fail to identify a single one. (Emphasis added)


  2. Jim Hoch

    “But what is keeping the residential patterns and the overall lack of diversity in Davis?”

    Try “self-selection”. The history of the “Chinese Exclusion Act” and the current antipathy of our “progressive” population does not seem to be suppressing the inflow of Asians.

    1. David Greenwald

      I don’t agree that it’s self-selection. I know a number of people who work in Davis and would like to live in Davis, but either cannot afford it or what they can afford is not available.

      1. Rik Keller

        …And the provision of workforce housing–especially for low and moderate income households–is EXACTLY what the phrase “internal housing needs” in Measure R refers to, as well-documented in City of Davis policies and studies. The project proponents of WDAAC have tried to bastardize the term and make it seem like applies to anything at all, even a luxury upper-income senior enclave.

        1. Howard P

          A new “strawman” emerges… whatever it takes to make sure there is no new housing opportunities for anyone… regardless of race, color, creed.

          And the provision of workforce housing–especially for low and moderate income households–is EXACTLY what the phrase “internal housing needs” in Measure R refers to,

          Can’t find on the web the full text of J or R… will reserve judgement on whether Measure R,

          is EXACTLY what the phrase “internal housing needs” in Measure R refers to,

          is true or not.

          I have serious doubts as to the factuality of that statement.

        2. Rik Keller

          Howard P.: I have documented the origin and use of the phrase “internal housing need” in City of Davis policy in great detail. This is all part of the legislative history  and policy context of Measure R. Are you claiming that the phrase in Measure R is sui gereris and just a massive coincidence?

      2. Ken A

        I know people with white parents who live in states where many homes are still worth under $150K that would also love to move to Davis (to be closer to the grandkids) if homes were cheaper.  Lower cost housing won’t automatically mean more people of color in town (not every person of color is saying “I would love to move away from my friends and family to live in a town with mostly rich well educated white and Asian people to help make the town more diverse if I saved a few bucks a month in rent”…

        1. David Greenwald

          “Lower cost housing won’t automatically mean more people of color in town ”

          Interesting that you had to add the word “automatically” as opposed to a blanket denial.

        2. Ken A

          Unless someone has a crystal ball they won’t know the races of the people moving in to the WDAAC (if approved) or to the approved (but not built) housing at the Cannery, but “odds are” that the racial mix of people moving in will be similar to the racial mix of people moving in to other housing in town over the past couple years…

          1. David Greenwald

            I’ve been pondering this question as well – one reason why I would like to get my hands on prospective data – can disparate impact be theoretical?

        3. Rik Keller

          David Greenwald asked:

          “can disparate impact be theoretical?”

          Have you studied even ONE fair housing case involving disparate impacts based on race/ethnicity?  You really need to read up on the subject. According to your vague definition and accusation, they would ALL involve “playing the race card.”


  3. Tia Will

    It seems to me that the term “race card” is almost exclusively used by those who are white when they want to demean the perspectives of others, who may or may not be white.

    What I would actually love to hear are the perspectives of those who are not white regarding whether or not this is a legitimate issue. Any takers?

    1. Keith O

      It seems to me that the term “race card” is almost exclusively used by those who are white when they want to demean the perspectives of others, who may or may not be white.

      From the article:

      The irony is that opponents of this project really didn’t need to use the race card to attack the Davis-Based Buyer’s Program.  

      Since that term was used in this article are you referring to David?

  4. Ron

    David:  “the slow growth movement has become the boy that cried wolf, suing on every issue.”

    There is a range of views regarding “slow growth”.  For example, if I’m not mistaken, Alan P. has supported some development proposals. In addition, there have been recent lawsuits which don’t seem to be motivated by the “slow growth” movement – whatever that means in the first place. (For example, I seem to recall that a hotel owner was involved in one of the lawsuits.) Also, some of the other lawsuits were apparently not necessarily initiated with a goal of “stopping” or even delaying a given proposal. Sometimes, the goal seems to be seeking a change, to help address some of the impacts.

    By painting everyone with the same broad brush, David has (once again) distorted reality in favor of his political/development agenda.  Another day, another such article from the Vanguard.

    It’s disgraceful, really.

    1. Tia Will


      If David painting with a “broad brush” is disgraceful, is it not equally disgraceful for developers and investors to paint with an equally broad brush when they try to convince us that their project is “good for the entire community” as we hear again and again?

      1. Ron

        Tia:  Of course!

        Even worse, though – is when developers try to appeal to specific groups (whether its seniors, students, bicycle advocates, green advocates, affordable housing advocates, etc.), and essentially attempt to drive a wedge between residents, with the hope that some will then advocate on behalf of a developer.  And, more often than not, the “promised amenity” which is held out as a “carrot” for such interests (and is actually not a primary part of the development) fails to materialize, for years afterward.

        And yet, these promises are often “forgotten about”, after the development is built. (Sort of like trying to remember what the weather was like, last month.)

        Along these same lines, another underlying implication is that if the development doesn’t occur “over there” (in someone else’s neighborhood), than it will occur in your neighborhood. (This is one of the most insidious arguments that’s used.)

        1. Ron

          Unfortunately, the argument outlined in my last paragraph above can also be used to try to generate support for sprawling, suburban-style peripheral developments as an implied “alternative”.

  5. Todd Edelman

    WDAAC is racially, socially, environmentally and economically-exclusionary because it proposes:

    * A large proportion of expensive houses, a small one – if that – of those obtainable via middle incomes and no certainly about the provision of low-income housing.
    * Low-income housing which is planned to be built after housing for other income levels.
    * Low-income housing at the periphery of the City. Lower-income persons have fewer choices in mobility. Even IF bus connections are improved to the area, it’s far from the rest of town by taxi or similar, bicycle and foot.
    * To locate its mostly senior  residents on the periphery of town, not on the way to anything (for busy people who can drive) and too far for many to visit by the City’s supposedly-prioritized bicycle, especially other elders and younger grandchildren. These persons can cycle far distances in a place with better infrastructure, but the City will not be able to build enough of this for a very long time.
    * Low-income housing at the part of the development with the most traffic noise.
    * An exclusive-buyers program that favors people with connections to a town with less persons of color than other areas in the region. Further, this experiment – which both the City and developers are unsure about – is based on an intentionally dishonest or sloppy interpretation of Measure R’s directives on housing for “internal needs”.  The program encourages the sale of larger houses in Davis, which will be expensive and thus disproportionately unavailable to people of color, who are over-represented in lower-income groups.

    It’s a developer’s sham and a result of a failure in City policy and decision-making. The Council’s approval was populist. Measure R is doing its job here – the main problem with R which is consistently under-evaluated is that it doesn’t take into account the fear of density and in-fill, which itself is founded in an ability to place less emphasis on the need for private motor vehicles. (In other words, dense housing does not have to increase car traffic.)

  6. Jeff M

    People need to try real hard to make their case without injecting the topic of race so they don’t end up being branded as being racist.

    For example, we can simply discuss the need for a community that is more accessible and inviting to people of lower income levels and leave it at that.   Racial demographics related to income are a separate issue.

    1. Howard P

      we can simply discuss the need for a community that is more accessible and inviting to all people of lower  all backgrounds and income levels and leave it at that.

      As I modified your thought, I am all over that, and have been since I was a kid.  But I’m weird, am told… my parents must have been, too…

      Maybe even white, moderate income males might be deemed OK, as long as they work and play well with others who are not…

      1. Jeff M

        I agree that your revision is the better one, but I think that the social justice set need more meat to feed on.   I suggest they just focus on income disparity sans any other demographic labeling or filtering.  Resolving economic disparity is the key to solving most, if not all, racial outcome disparities, IMO.

        1. David Greenwald

          The problem with that is it doesn’t deal with issues that revolve around race rather than simply income.  Most data shows that while income matters, race magnifies those discrepancies.

        2. Jeff M

          You see Howard?

          Most data shows that while income matters, race magnifies those discrepancies.

          First, the social sciences that produce this data are hopelessly liberal biased.  That is well-documented.

          Second, it is the opposite… income (and education attainment) practically erases racial discrepancies.  Just ask the last POTUS.

        3. Ken A

          David may want to dig more into the data on income and problems in life.  It is true that poor people of color are shot more often than poor white folks, but rich people of color with advanced degrees are rarely shot like rich white people and for the most part well educated people of color that make good money have pretty good lives…

          1. David Greenwald

            It’s interesting, since you love the argument by anecdote. Read Willie Brown’s autobiography years ago, and he was often pulled over driving in his fancy sports car on I-80. One day when the CHP Officer was particularly obnoxious, I think it was in the 70s but might have been in the early 80s, he was pulled over and asked where he got the car and was called boy. He decided to line out the entire budget for the CHP. His staff had to get CHP to have a photo of his car and strict orders not to pull it over for him to reinstate the money.

            In any case, I know a few very prominent black/ African American citizens who were pulled over in racial profiling incidents – that includes a certain former Superintendent and a certain Vice Chancellor. It’s amazing how so many rich black people in this town have the same stories as poor blacks. They may have good lives otherwise, but race is still there.

        4. Ken A

          David is forgetting that I know Willie Brown well and know that there is probably no other person in the world that had made more sub one hour high speed drives between SF and Sacramento (it is not a secret to anyone that Willie drove like a maniac for years) and more often than not he was probably going so fast that the cops hit the lights as a blur went past not even knowing that a “person of color” was driving…

          About ten years ago Carol Migden (who took over for Willie Brown and also drove like a maniac) was playing the “victim card” when she was pulled over.

          P.S. I’m betting that David could spend the next six months living on the Davis bike crossing with binoculars and not see a single person of color pulled over that was not violating some section of the vehicle code (just yesterday a “friend of color” was complaining that he got pulled over for having tint on his front windows that he knew was illegal, after removing the tint he got the ticket signed off  he replaced it with lighter “less illegal” tint and I’m sure he will be complaining about “getting hassled by racist cops again”)…


          1. Don Shor

            I know Willie Brown well and know that there is probably no other person in the world that had made more sub one hour high speed drives between SF and Sacramento

            Leadfoot Lou Papan probably had him beat on speed and the number of tickets he received. Virtually everyone violates the vehicle code at some point. The question is whether people of color get pulled over at a higher proportion than their percentage of the population, and how they get treated when they are pulled over. Last time I got pulled over (for an expired tag) the officer kept calling me ‘sir’ and apologized for the inconvenience.
            Are you really questioning whether people of color are treated differently by the police, overall, than the rest of us? This is all off topic, but your anecdotal stuff is off the wall here.

        5. Ron

          David:   “His staff had to get CHP to have a photo of his car and strict orders not to pull it over for him to reinstate the money.”

          Wow.  There’s something “wrong” with that order.  Essentially blackmail, in exchange for a license to break the law.  Is this what routinely goes on, e.g., by powerful politicians in Sacramento?

          What if this guy caused an accident, essentially as a result of not being able to enforce traffic laws in his particular case? Would the state then be potentially liable?

        6. Howard P

          Have to disagree Jeff… the ‘playing field’ is substantially more level than it was 60 years ago… but not level, yet… I know a lot of ‘people of color’, my age, that did as well or better than me… I know a lot who came nowhere near, because of background, educational opportunities, job opportunities… I think we have made good progress…

          But, I think of a Black kid in East Oakland, or Watts… and a White kid in Appalachia… they are on an equal playing field, but the cards are stacked against both… some would have all the Black kids made whole… but the White kid?  Guess it just is what it is for them… they weren’t slaves, except perhaps to the ‘company towns’ their parents/grandparents grew up in… my grandmother and mom (for short time) labored in the mills of Lawrence, MA (look Lawrence MA textile mills on the internet!)… now would be considered “sweat shops”… Mom was lucky… she actually graduated HS, but only one of her siblings got to go to college, and that was because one of her sisters was bright, enlisted in the armed forces, and got to go and become a Nurse.  Served 30 years. Last survivor of her sibs, altho’ was 3 of 5…

          This race thing ignores the fact that all races have had “sh– happen” in their lives…

          None of my ancestors owned slaves… some arguably were ‘slaves’… my great-great grandfather and his brother ran a ‘station’ for the UG railway… I get pissed when anyone says I am in denial of issues of race.  Or poverty.

          But, as a White Male Christian, I am guilty and most atone, for some folk… “profiling”?

      2. Rik Keller

        David Greenwald said :

        The problem with that is it doesn’t deal with issues that revolve around race rather than simply income.  Most data shows that while income matters, race magnifies those discrepancies.

        Can you clarify whether this an example of “playing the race card?” Asking for a local political campaign…

      3. Rik Keller

        David Greenwald said:

        “In any case, I know a few very prominent black/ African American citizens who were pulled over in racial profiling incidents – that includes a certain former Superintendent and a certain Vice Chancellor. It’s amazing how so many rich black people in this town have the same stories as poor blacks. They may have good lives otherwise, but race is still there.

        Can you clarify whether this an example of “playing the race card?” Asking for a local political campaign…

  7. Rik Keller

    David Greenwald: you are throwing the baseless accusation “playing the race card” at the opponents of WDAAC in exactly the same way that right-wingers have recently tried to appropriate and misuse the term “race-baiting”: “In the 2010s, conservative politicians and political commentators began appropriating the term race-baiting to refer to minority activists who they believed were provoking racial hatred against white people, a shift from the historical tendency of race-baiting for the incitement of racism against marginalized groups.”

    You have not pointed to one statement by the No on WDAAC/No on Measure L campaign to back up your accusation, and you have not defined what sort of activity you think entails “playing the race card”.  Frankly, this is a vile political hitpiece that adds nothing to the important community conversation that needs to be had about confronting exclusion and moving toward increased inclusivity.

    And how do you reconcile your statements about WDAAC opponents dangerously “playing the race card” with your own statement that the “Davis based buyer’s program means an all-white senior development most likely?”

    The fair housing/civil rights complaint that has been raised against the project is soundly based on legal precedents and facts on the ground in terms of Davis’ imbalance of diversity compared to surrounding communities.

    Given that you personally recommended “Richard Rothstein’s: The Color of Law to me, you should be well-versed enough in these arguments and the research and documentation behind them. Are you now going to turn around and claim that Rothstein’s arguments are “playing the race card”. Like this one for example?:

    “I began this research because I understood that we could never solve the problems of American education, particularly the achievement gap between African-American and white children, so long as we had segregated schools, because when you take children with serious social and economic disadvantages and concentrate them in single schools, it’s impossible for those schools to produce students who, on average, achieve at high levels. So I came to believe and concluded that racial segregation is the single biggest problem impeding school improvement in this country.”

      1. Rik Keller

        I think filing the lawsuit was a step too far.

        Talk to noted civil rights attorney Mark Merin about that. You have sung his praises in the past, even given him an award. I think he knows a thing or two about legitimate cases. And you realize that filing lawsuits IS the established enforcement mechanism for the Fair Housing Act, don’t you?

        And there isn’t really much of an argument to be had: The project proponents have already admitted that there program was illegal when applied to just a Davis residency requirement/connection.

        1. Ron

          Rik (to David):  “You have sung his praises in the past, even given him an award”.

          That was before he interfered with David’s development activism. When a “choice” has to be made between the two, David’s development activism seems to outweigh his concerns regarding racism.

    1. Howard P

      That’s unfair, Rik…

      David can “smell” when someone plays ‘the race card’… he, frankly has done so… on occasion… not for himself, but on behalf of others…

      The “preferential buyers” thing, is wrong… Eric, I, and several others have said that even if ‘legal’, it is not ‘right’, and sets a bad precedent, in my opinion… THAT’s how the argument should go… the “race thing” is an offensive ploy… and maybe constitutes 5% of why it is wrong.

      We saw this in “Aggie Village”… only UC folk could buy the 99-year lease homes, and then, if not fully subscribed, DJUSD and City employees would be considered (and given ‘first right of refusal’)… UC land… no Measure R/J…

      The “preferential buyers” thing is wrong.  But has very, very little to do about race/ethnicity…

      1. Rik Keller

        The legal basis for why the program is wrong is the specific equal rights/fair housing violations against specific protected classes defined by race/ethnicity. SO race/ethnicity is central to the issue.

        But apparently to Greenwald, any Fair Housing complaint based on race/ethnicity entails “playing the race card”.

        One wonders whether Greenwald thinks  the claim by the plaintiffs in the seminal Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. case  (2015 Supreme Court) that “92.29% of [low-income housing tax credit] units in the city of Dallas were located in census tracts with less than 50% Caucasian residents” was “playing the race card”?

        1. Howard P

          Legal basis, correct that it open to possible challenge… remains to be seen… moral/ethical/good public policy basis… just wrong to have the preferential buyer program…

          Thinking Eric, I and others are coming down on the side that it is not about legality… it’s about good public policy, including ethical and moral standards… the program is wrong… the program is wrong, the program is wrong (said 3 times)… whether or not it is legal, which has yet to be adjudicated…

          I say again, only ~ 5% of the reason it is wrong has anything to do about race/ethnicity…

          Arguably, those seniors currently in town who will move there are representative of the current mix.   Arguably, those who would move in may well be of a more diverse nature…

          I actually care not… I am good with more diversity, but it is not a priority of mine to “force it”… the plaintiff could well move in to one of the units vacated…

          I suspect the plaintiff was recruited to be so, by others… wonder if he even tried to apply… suspect not.

          The attorney filing has an interesting history, both in Davis and elsewhere. But that is “off-topic”…

          1. David Greenwald

            The question I would ask is whether there is a legal basis by which you can restrict who purchases a home at this location other than income (affordable requirements) and age (senior housing)?

        2. Howard P

          Well Rik, you should vote against Prop1 in November… a large portion goes to fund the CalVet program… which which discriminated against veterans who did not enlist or serve while they lived in CA.  Which means, at the time it was enacted, it excluded most people of color… remnants remain… note in the impartial ballot analysis, it cites “eligible veterans”… eligibility was/is determined by your state of residence during your service.

          Use the same logic you use on the WDAAC buyer plan.  Same facts.

          If I vote in favor of Prop 1, will have to have a set of vise grips ‘on high’ to close my nostrils… Dad served in combat as a medic in the Pacific in WWII (~3 yrs)[they had high mortality rates, early on, before they removed the red crosses from their helmets… have since heard that medics from that theater had ~ 40%+ suicide rate within ten years from what they had experienced, now known as PTSD]… he served during the Korean “conflict” stateside for ~ 2 years… but because he was not a resident during those periods, he was not eligible for any CA veterans benefits.  A year after discharge.  But makes sense… he was a white male.

        1. Howard P

          Who knows?  What about folk who move into vacated units?  Maybe we should have a quota system that only buyers “of color” can purchase the vacated homes?

          Illegal, but would foster diversity…

  8. Ron

    The thought has occurred to me that some might support this proposal because it will perpetuate racial/age disparities in Davis.  (I don’t think this applies to anyone who comments frequently on here, but perhaps for others.  But, you’re not going to get anyone to admit it – perhaps even to themselves.)

    “The dark underbelly”, so to speak.

    1. Ken A

      I’m friends with some extreme right wing nutjobs (the kind of people that send out the Obama and his Muslim friends want to rid America of Christians emails), but I can’t even imagine a single person in Davis looking at their wife and saying “Let’s vote for the WDAAC since even though we won’t ever go there since it will perpetuate racial/age disparities in town”…

      1. Howard P

        Might be up to ten, but fully agree with your thrust…

        Oh, and not all extreme right wing nutjobs are bigots, and not all extreme left nutjobs are free of bigotry…

        Ron had to get rid of some pasta… was growing stale… expiration date thing… anything to portray some/any positive voters as “scum”…

        1. Ron

          “… anything to portray some/any positive voters as “scum”…

          That’s absolutely not true.  But, there may be a few “deplorables” in the batch (as you noted in your own comment) – even if they don’t fully acknowledge it to themselves.  I recall a few comments (e.g., regarding Picnic Day) that make me uncomfortable.  (Again, not so much on here.)

          And frankly, some might support the proposal because it would primarily house people like them (old, white, and with sufficient funds to purchase a house), whom they can easily identify with. I wouldn’t directly call that racism, but probably exclusionary.

  9. Eric Gelber

    But instead of attacking it on those grounds, they go for the race card.

    I have commented on the Buyers’ Program numerous times and have made it clear that the perpetuation of racial imbalance is only one problem with a program that is intended to limit purchases by outsiders. The fact that it gives a preference to, for example, people who may have attended school here decades ago and then left, or people who never set foot in Davis but have a relative here, over others with far greater connections (e.g., a lifelong Davis employee who is retired and lives in Woodland) is absurd.

    And, if it was intended to be merely a general concept, without specifics, why were specific parameters laid out in the development agreement and repeatedly used as a selling point?

    And it won’t limit home purchases in Davis by Bay Area residents, who will be able to buy the homes being sold by those who are downsizing.

    Let WDAAC stand or fall on its positive features—e.g., the affordable housing—without compounding its exclusionary nature through an ill-advised Buyers’ Program, legal or not.

    1. Howard P

      Pretty much agree…

      A sales pitch to sell those who want zero growth to support, going horrifically wrong… self-inflicted wound, as others have pointed out.

      But again, it is not about race/ethnicity… it’s about the preferential buyer thing, and the other pros/cons of the project proposal… I consider the PBT thing as a “con”, irrespective of the race thing.

      1. Moderator

        To Ron and Howard: please stop replying to each other. You seem to have difficulty doing so without getting into arguments. Just set each other to ‘ignore’ or avoid direct replies. Thank you.


  10. David Thompson

    Dear Vanguard Readers:

    A couple of answers to Todd’s topics.

    * Low-income housing which is planned to be built after housing for other income levels.

    Due to the 224 on the waiting list for Eleanor Roosevelt Circle NP/DSHC purposefully wanted to be at a part of the site that would be developed first. That allows us to move ahead as soon as possible. The WDAAC part of the development that will be built first contains our site. The developer is required to build the streets and infrastructure  for our site as part of the first construction to occur on site. Part of the WDAAC site I believe cannot be built until the 60 apartments of the affordable have been built. Todd you are right that most other affordable housing projects were built years after the market rate part was built. NP brought that up with the Council and City staff as an issue to be addressed in future projects. The affordable housing site at WDAAC was allocated first use position.

    * Low-income housing at the periphery of the City. Lower-income persons have fewer choices in mobility. Even IF bus connections are improved to the area, it’s far from the rest of town by taxi or similar, bicycle and foot.

    Regretfully, the low income sites in many other developments that we have worked with were at the periphery and in a number of cases were not even on a bus route.   We are grateful for this site because it is one of the first that is directly on a key Unitrans route. More importantly, a sizeable number of our resident population receive County services which they have to go to Woodland to receive. The fact we are also close to the Yolobus route will be very helpful. We will work with both bus services as we have previously to increase the service levels. Just at ERC we will design our pick up area to accommodate the buses of Davis Community Transit and Yolobus Special to serve the needs of our disabled residents. We will provide parking for rental car programs and on site shared car services.

    Keep in mind there are no true alternatives to the affordable housing at WDAAC. There is no other site in the downtown that will be given to us by anyone to build 150 affordable senior apartments.  None at all.

    We are trying to see if there are any statistics on racial occupancy at ERC. We do have plenty on age and income.
    1. The general age of the residents at ERC is around 70 to 90 years of age.
    2. The average age of the residents who live at ERC is 75 years old.
    3. Three apartments are occupied by couples.
    4. There are 48 Females and 14 Males at ERC
    5. 25% of apartments (21) set aside for seniors earning less that $11,103

    From observation over the past decade the racial population of seniors at ERC is higher than the general senior population.

    Please vote Yes on L to provide a home for about 170 low income seniors of all races at the site. At this time there is no other place for them to go.

    Neighborhood Partners.

    PS The Woodland site is being used by the home builder who provided the land and is not yet available to us. Woodland affordable sites have received far fewer funds for affordable housing than Davis.

    1. Rik Keller

      David Thompson: your comments do not address the restrictions in the  “Taking Care Of Our Own”/Davis-Based Buyers Program at all. The small fraction of housing (when calculated based on total bedrooms) proposed to be set-aside for affordable housing on the site is overwhelmed by the target demographics for the vast majority of the project.

      1. Ken A

        When Rik says “the target demographics for the vast majority of the project.” I’m wondering if he has a “target” that “he” is “shooting for” or if he has evidence that someone else (the city, the developer, the Bridge players at the Davis Senior Center) is “shooting” to “hit” some “target” demographics at the WDAAC…

        1. Rik Keller

          The project has an explicit target that they are shooting for as spelled out in great detail in the “Taking Care Of Our Own”/Davis-Based Buyer’s Program. That is why they are being sued for discriminatory  Fair Housing violations.

        2. Rik Keller

          Craig: the program is specific and explicit about the locational restrictions. Here’s one brief summary of case law and legal precedent regarding this issue:

          Local preferences imposed by predominantly white communities in racially diverse areas virtually invite FHA-effect claims….Obviously, a preference for local residents in an all-white area would have the effect of maintaining Segregation. [270]

          [279]. See Winfield, 2016 WL 6208564, at *6 (“There is an obvious causal link between a policy whose very purpose is to maintain the existing racial and ethnic makeup of local communities and the corresponding perpetuation of the racial and ethnic makeup of those communities.”)

          Regardless of the type of defendant, a plaintiff’s prima facie case would only require proof that, in a housing market with substantial minorities, a local preference is being employed in a predominantly white building or community.”

          [source: Segregative-Effect Claims Under the Fair Housing Act (2017)



    1. Ken A

      After answering Craig’s question maybe Rik can tell the “all white” area he is talking about when he writes:

      “Obviously, a preference for local residents in an all-white area would have the effect of maintaining Segregation.”

      P.S. Does anyone know the racial mix (so far) in the Cannery or other new developments in town like “Verona Terrace” (If anyone gets the data I’m pretty sure that neither will be exactly the same Davis as a whole)…

      P.S. Harvard and Stanford both give “preferences” to (mostly white) legacies yet both schools have more “students of color” than “white students”….

      1. Eric Gelber

        P.S. Harvard and Stanford both give “preferences” to legacies yet both schools have more “students of color” than “white students”….

        What If, like the Davis-Based Buyers’ Program, Harvard and Stanford required that 90% of admissions be reserved for legacies? What to you think the impact on racial imbalance would be then?

        1. Rik Keller

          Eric: in regards to the concept of “legacy admissions,” the WDAAC project proponents’ notion that including UC Davis/DJUSD affiliation for eligibility would somehow grant legal status to their program that they themselves declared as illegal if it just applied to city of Davis residence by “zipcode” seems misguided.

          Looking into the racial/ethnic makeup of UC Davis students/staff or DJUSD students/staff several decades ago when most people of current retirement age who would be eligible for the WDAAC project would have established those connections would produce similar conclusions.

          After all, the Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978) case was about a UC Davis Med school policy that was trying to reach a mere 16% target for minority students, so presumably the existing enrollment levels were was FAR less than that.

        2. Rik Keller

          I’m still amazed that the developers are trying to claim this slight* expansion in the eligibility pool will magically make their program legal without realizing that similar dynamics were in place excluding minorities from those institutions back the too.

          *how many people have a UC Davis/DJUSD connection from decades ago but would not have qualified for the program already based on residency in the city of Davis?

    2. Eric Gelber

      I was wondering if someone could tell me how many people of color are part of the No on L leadership team?

      Not being part of the leadership team I have no idea. But what’s your point? Does that go to the merits of their arguments? Also, I can tell you that 100% of the individuals suing the City for alleged violations of civil rights based on Measure L are people of color.

      1. Craig Ross

        My point is that we have a bunch of white people complaining that this is racist/ discriminatory.  I find it weird, because I don’t know any people of color opposing it.

        1. Eric Gelber

          I don’t know any people of color opposing it.

          You know all the people opposing it and their race? Do you know Samuel Ignacio, who not only opposes it but has filed a lawsuit in federal court to enjoin its implementation because it allegedly discriminates against him and others similarly situated based on race?

          1. David Greenwald

            Eric – you appear to be channeling Ken A now. He clearly said, “I don’t know any people of color opposing it,” he did not say, “I know all the people opposing it and their race…” Those are very different things.

            Key question is who is Samuel Ignacio, he does not appear to be a Yolo County resident, if that’s the case, then that would appear to add to Craig’s point.

        2. Howard P

          Yes, Eric… and was he actually ‘aggrieved’… or a “token”?  A ‘puppet’?  I know not, but am a skeptic, particularly given the timing… after all, the project does not technically exist, and how does plaintiff know they are aggrieved?  What is the true ‘standing’ of the plaintiff?  Prospective ‘injury’?

          Something about something in Denmark… or the fish caught in the North Sea…

          Don’t know, will wait to see…

          Pretty apparent that you are a no on L, for this or other reasons…

          I’m leaning No on L… for other reasons… but am pasta intolerant, so might vote Yes…

  11. Ron

    I’m confused regarding the ramifications of the lawsuit, if the proposal is approved by voters.  At first, David stated that it was only in the CCRs.  But, there was discussion later (including in the article above), which notes that the “Davis buyer’s” program is in the development agreement.

    So, if the proposal is approved by voters, what happens?  Is the development then on hold until a court decision is rendered, or does it proceed without the “Davis buyer’s” program in place?

    Or, is the answer unknown?

    1. Ron

      Actually, the article above notes that the “Davis buyers” program has not actually been created.  But, my basic question remains the same:  What are the ramifications if the proposal is approved by voters, with this unresolved litigation hanging over it?  Does the development then proceed without actually creating the “Davis buyers” program?

      If so, the developers would have the best of both worlds. The ability to “tout” the program prior to the vote, but no subsequent requirement to implement it. (Which would also result in more potential customers for their product, from outside of Davis.)

      1. Rik Keller


        Short answer: developers ARE trying to have it both ways and have been backing away from a commitment since the lawsuit was announced.

        Long answer with a rough timeline shifting stories involving a classic attempted bait-and-switch on the “Taking Care Of Our Own”/Davis-Based Buyers Program. When is a contract/agreement/program not a contract/agreement/program?

        Jason Taormino [10/9/2017; Project FAQs]: “Development agreements are mostly boilerplate language mitigating risks, defining payment options and a few specific deal points. We expect all the significant deal points that are normally in a development agreement to be in the Baselines Features & Requirements so that they are evident to the voters.  The citizens then have a direct contract with the developer that is only changeable with a new vote.”

        Every yard sign and piece of campaign promo literature has the “Taking Care Of Our Own” text and graphic prominently displayed as the central selling point of the Yes on Measure L/WDAAC project.

        The Taorminos published two articles within the span of 5 days [9/14/2018, 9/19/2018] on the Davis Vanguard an attempt to defend the “Taking Care Of Our Own” program as legal, yet they never mentioned that they did not think it is actually a program, and repeatedly referred to it as a program in the present tense.

        Jason Taormino [The enumerated program details are specifically crafted to comply with direction provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the courts to be in compliance with the Fair Housing Act…Therefore, the program complies with state and federal fair housing laws.”]

        David Taormino [9/19/2018; Davis Vanguard; note present tense]: “I am satisfied that our Buyers’ Program is appropriate and supported by significant legal precedence.”

        [After the lawsuit announced] Jason Taormino [9/24/2018; Davis Vanguard]: “If you read the section of the development agreement which covers the Davis-Based Buyers program it should become clear that there is a requirement to “develop and implement” a program.  Therefore, the program has not been approved an [sic] in this case we look forward to working with the community to create the final program.”

        Jason Taormino [9/25/2018; Davis Vanguard] “I am surprised that a civil rights attorney would file a lawsuit against a housing preference concept that is not formalized and that is not on the ballot in November.

        David Taormino [9/25/2018, Sacramento Bee]: “Taorino [sic] said buyer restrictions for the proposed project are merely “preferences,””

        Actual language in the Development Agreement [passed and adopted by Davis City Council on 6/19/2018): ‘Davis-Based Buyers Program. Developer has elected to restrict ninety percent (90%) of the residential units within the Project, excluding the affordable housing and the specialized senior care, to initial purchasers with a preexisting connection to the City of Davis, and desires to sell or hold said percentage of market-rate residential units available for sale to households that include a local resident, defined as a person residing within the City or the Davis Joint Unified School District boundary, family of a local resident, a Davis employee, a Davis grade-school student, or an individual that attended Davis schools. Prior to issuance of any building permit, Developer and its successors and assigns shall (a) develop and implement appropriate local-connection requirements and verification procedures for such a program….”

        Actual language in the Baseline Features on the “Taking Care Of Our Own”/Davis-Based Buyers Program:  [blank] 

        David Greenwald [9/25/2018; Davis Vanguard]:Unlike Baseline Project Features, the Development Agreement is an agreement between the developer and the city that can be changed with a simple majority vote of the council.  On the other hand, anything in the Baseline Project Features would have to be resubmitted to the voters for approval.”

        1. Ron

          Thanks, Rik.

          So, according to the last paragraph (per David, on 9/25), the developers already have the best of both worlds.  They can tout the program to voters, and then abandon it if the council agrees.  (I wonder what the ramifications are for the council, if they didn’t subsequently agree to abandonment of the program when there’s pending litigation?)

          And, if the council doesn’t agree, then what?

          Seems like there’s some potential gamesmanship going on, on the part of the developer and council. An “average” voter would expect the program to be implemented, and may be basing his/her vote on it. Sounds like they might be disappointed, afterward.

        2. Ron

          And by “program”, I’m apparently referring to one that doesn’t even exist, at this point in time.

          It’s kind of “impressive” how this was thought-out.  Truly “the smartest guys in the room”, in reference to another use of that phrase. Sounds like (both) the council and the developers anticipated potential litigation, and took steps to protect themselves and the development, itself.

          And, on top of that, the litigation might provide an opportunity to challenge Measure R, according to David at least.

          Perhaps the proposal won’t be approved by voters, which would render all of these concerns moot. But unfortunately, these concerns are probably not well-understood by “average” voters. (More sheer brilliance, on the part of the developers.)

        3. Ron

          And – if there is no Davis buyers program and Proposition 5 passes (as expected), this will allow marketing/sales of the development directly to seniors from the Bay Area and elsewhere, who will “transfer” their low property tax payments to their new homes at WDAAC.

          Can’t get much better than this. (At a certain point, it almost becomes amusing!)

          1. David Greenwald

            Except that the builders are hoping to provide housing for Davis residents wishing to downsize. One option may be to limit their marketing of the homes to the Davis area. Not sure what that would accomplish.

    2. David Greenwald

      It appears that the Buyer’s Based Program is severable. So one remedy would be to simply change the Development Agreement to eliminate the program. Also, since it is a seller program, they could probably proceed to build the homes, although the investors might want the litigation cleared up before financing the project.

        1. Ron

          David:  “That’s your conclusion, not necessarily mine.”

          And yet, your comment immediately proceeding this statement acknowledges the following:

          David:  “It appears that the Buyer’s Based Program is severable.”

          Of course, the “Davis Buyer’s” program hasn’t even been fully defined/finalized.  However, even if it is (and remains in place), those with a “connection” to Davis will likely include some who will transfer their low property taxes to WDAAC, as a result of Proposition 5.

          Oh, well – there’s always economic development “solutions” to be relied upon (aka, the “Hail Mary”), in the eyes of some.

        2. Ron

          David:  If there is no Davis-buyers program, then the development can be marketed and sold to anyone.  Reminiscent of the Cannery.

          And, even if there is such a program, some of those with a “connection” to Davis (but who are not current residents) will likely transfer their low property taxes to a new home at WDAAC.

          Proposition 5 will almost certainly increase the probability of this occurring, increasing external demand for developments such as WDAAC.  (The real estate industry is the primary sponsor of that Proposition, in an effort to increase turnover among seniors statewide.)

          From the link I posted, above:

          “The fiscal impact statement is as follows:

          Annual property tax losses for cities, counties, and special districts of around $150 million in the near term, growing over time to $1 billion or more per year (in today’s dollars). Annual property tax losses for schools of around $150 million per year in the near term, growing over time to $1 billion or more per year (in today’s dollars). Increase in state costs for schools of an equivalent amount in most years”.[8]



        3. David Greenwald

          You are correct – it “can” be marketed and sold to anyone. Even with the Buyer’s program, it can be.  But if the developer is committed to the concept, there is no rule that says they have to market it in the Bay Area.  They just can’t turn down a buyer from outside of the area.  Will that happen?  I don’t know.  The seed of my skepticism for this project goes along these lines: (A) legality of Buyer program and (B) who ends up purchasing these homes.  If we end up simply selling homes to people from the Bay Area, we are not meeting internal housing needs.  It’s going to come down to how committed the developer is to the concept.

        4. Ron

          David:  “If we end up simply selling homes to people from the Bay Area, we are not meeting internal housing needs.  It’s going to come down to how committed the developer is to the concept.”

          I agree, but am not particularly confident regarding the developer’s “good will” commitment.  And again, the local tax implications resulting from Proposition 5 have apparently not been analyzed – even if the developer remains “committed” to the program.

          Another result of creating a senior development is that the new residents likely won’t be working at any “economic development” (e.g., innovation center) that would increasingly be relied upon as a result of the fiscal challenges created by developments such as WDAAC. New (and existing) workers would not be able to live at WDAAC, for the most part.

      1. Howard P

        Technically, David, the severability clause would most likely just render any provision found illegal by a court, void and without effect.  It would not require a change to the document itself.

  12. Craig Ross

    I find it interesting, there are a lot of posts after my question yesterday, a bunch of them by opponents of the project, not one of them named even one Davis resident of color opposing the project.  I find that very telling on so many levels.

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