CivEnergy hosted a forum on Measure L on Sunday at the Community Chambers in Davis. Representing the Yes on L side was developer Jason Taormino, affordable housing Developer David Thompson, and Councilmember Dan Carson. On the No side was Alan Pryor and Rik Keller. Linda Deos served as moderator.
Each side got five minutes to do an introduction, and there were four questions from CivEnergy and concluding remarks. They also took two additional audience questions after the concluding remarks.
Rik Keller (No)
(inaudible) – segregated neighborhoods based on age and otherwise. Housing should be developed that meets the needs of the local community – not just one segment. Davis should also not be about excluding outsiders, particularly when it (will) likely perpetuate and possibly exacerbate the city’s existing ethnic and racial imbalance. We are better than that, we should stand up for inclusiveness and integrated communities.
Alan Pryor (No)
I’ll also add that so much emphasis is trying to be put on the Yes on Measure L side, that this is all about low income senior housing. That is a very small part of this project. The Sierra Club Yolano Group, the Sierra Club itself, substantially supports – they made it very clear that they supported the low income housing project on this. However, we are not willing to sacrifice 65 acres of farmland to accommodate four acres of low income housing We believe this project should be sent back to the developer and come back with a project that really meets Davis’ needs. We’ve seen that with Nishi – Nishi 1 was turned back, they came back with a different project, it was substantially acceptable to the community, we think the same dynamic should occur here.
Jason Taormino (Yes)
No matter what is said about the negatives of this development, I’d like to remind everybody that a yes on L vote takes care of seniors. That’s important for our community. We don’t need to be divided about that. We don’t need to make up stories. We don’t need to say that this farmland which actually grows hay, is the poorest type of soil for growing any crops ….
What’s important is that we concentrate on people and we’re building housing for people. If this measure does not pass, we know for certain that we don’t get affordable housing, we know for certain that we don’t get a health and wellness center, we know for certain that we don’t get 2.7 miles of walking paths, we know for certain that we won’t get smaller, single-story homes for people to age in place happily.
Dan Carson (Yes)
On the diversity issue, there are significant components of this project that I think will increase diversity in Davis. The affordable housing, those 150 units that are going to be built, are available for at the high end of income about $32,000 a year. That on the natural is going to increase the diversity of this city. It’s also worth remembering that 20 percent of the for sale units are available for families. A lot of those units will be on the smaller side. They’ll be starter homes for some people. Their program on trying to focus on people connected to Davis, includes people connected to the UC Davis, I don’t know if you’ve looked at the demographics of UC Davis lately, 30 percent of the undergraduate enrollment at UC Davis is white – 70 percent is non-white. That opens up a great many opportunities for people. We need this in this town.
David Thompson (Yes)
I do get emotional about this because I really care. The people that are on our waiting list for all of our projects amount to nearly 1000 people. That’s in family and in senior. My own mother-in-law is on the waiting list for Eleanor Roosevelt Circle. She is 95. She’s been on the waiting list for three years. I don’t think she’s going to live long enough to be able to move in. There are lots of other people that die while they’re waiting on our list because the list is too long. What we’re able to build here is 150 units of senior housing with onsite social care, with all sorts of programs to help the seniors, programs that will help feed them, programs that will help bring them good and better health and the quality of life that we have at Eleanor is just fabulous and we want to extend it to 170 people.
Audience Question 1: Transportation connectivity/ pedestrian/ bike access
Alan Pryor (No)
One of the things we’ve objected to is the poor connectivity of this project. If you start from the far northern edge of the project, it’s anywhere from a quarter of a mile to a third of a mile down to Covell, approximately another half a mile to get up over the freeway and to the Marketplace, there. If you’re going the other way, it’s almost one and a quarter miles to get over to Lake Blvd and up to the market there.
That’s something that a senior is going to have a hard time doing, and I’d remind you that this isn’t a pleasant stroll through the park either. That’s walking along one of the busiest thoroughfares in town. You’re going to be subjected to automobile exhaust, particulate matter from that and then, once you get there, you’ve got to turn around and come back and bring your groceries back. So it clearly isn’t something that pedestrians are going to be utilizing.
Can you use a bicycle to get up over that? Yes, but you’ve got to get over the freeway overpass and through some very congested freeways. John Jones Road, Shasta Drive, the freeway on and off ramp, we simply don’t think it’s a very walkable or bikable location.
They’ve talked a lot about the transit hub that they’re going to put in; right now, there’s only one bus stop, that’s on Covell Blvd. About one-third of a mile away from the further people on those projects. Great for the people in the low income housing, not so great for the people further back in the development there. They’ve talked about a transit hub there, however that’s completely ill defined and undefined in the development agreement.
They just say there will be a transit hub. There will be places where you can plug in your EV vehicles And maybe someday we’ll talk UniTrans into bringing a bus up into that project and being able to turn it around there. That’s not something that’s promised though, it’s a dream and until we see something in writing, quite honestly I don’t think it’s something that’s going to happen.
Jason Taormino (Yes)
We have a development that will connect to the Marketplace by an existing wide – it’s about 10 foot wide – walking path and it’s separated from Covell by about 15 or 20 feet. We’re going to be improving Covell Blvd. and the intersections there by spending more than $5 million and we’re going to spend money on landscaping so that the walk from our development to the Marketplace is improved, we’re going to do new striping, we’re going to make the intersection at Covell and Risling bike friendly and more pedestrian friendly. We’re getting rid of some free rides and doing the proper striping etc. It’s a great place to live, it’s nice to walk to the Marketplace, you can also get across the street and get on the bike walking path that goes on the overcrossing to the Willet school – which is a bike/walking overcrossing.
We’ve got connectivity across the street where the university retirement community is. There’s another wide, walking/biking path that leads to Arroyo Pool and the schools over there – Patwin and Emerson. But also down towards Dignity Health Care and UC Davis Health Care.
It’s a great location now – and it will be a great location when we build there. The statistics that were quoted before are of course incorrect. If you want to get Google Maps out there and measure it for yourself, I think you’ll see that those statistics are not correct. It’s going to be a great place to live if people vote for it.
I’m not exactly sure why they were opposed to student housing before and they were opposed to workforce housing before and they were opposed to senior housing now. I’m not sure what they’ll be opposed to next time. But they always seem to be opposed to something and never seem to be helping other people. I guess it’s because their lives are so good and they’re afraid that if somehow somebody else has more, they’re going to have less.
I don’t think our community thinks that way, I think our community will vote Yes on Measure L because they believe that caring for our citizens is the right thing to do.
Alan Pryor (No)
I’d like to address his issue, we’re against student housing. We’re against old folks housing. We’re against workforce housing. That’s blatantly untrue. To throw that into the conversation, it’s just throwing some bright shiny things up there to distract you from the real issues here – which is the poor quality of this project itself.
Rik Keller (No)
I’d like to echo that. Jason you’re using language that – they do this, they do that – it’s just classic us versus them type language, I don’t think that helps. We’re talking about specific problems with this particular project, I for one have worked in affordable housing for my whole career. It’s something that I’ve advocated for. What I’m advocating more is more inclusivity and more diversity and more affordable housing. You’re attempting to paint any opponent of this project with a broad brush (which) is really not adding to the community discourse.
David Taormino (Yes)
In terms of the low income housing, we are very very appreciative of and glad to have the particular location that we do. The bus stop outside is for Yolo Bus as well as it is for Unitrans. We are designing the buses so we can have turn around bus for Yolo special bus and Davis Community transit. So we will accommodate those. Most of our folks are on county programs and when I ask them how long does it take, it takes two hours to get from Eleanor Roosevelt to the county quarters, they have to change two buses to do that. We would like to be on a route that has Yolo Bus so we can get right to Woodland for those people.
Alan Pryor (No)
I also note it’s easy for them to paint opposition to this project as being against low income housing. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We’re very strong proponents of that and I’d love to see this project go forward if it were not for the 65 acres of sprawl that they’re tagging to this. If this project came back, with truly affordable workforce housing, and the proper amount of land donated for low income housing, I would be absolutely supportive of it.