The Fair Housing Problem With Measure L
by Molly Current
Project Sentinel is a full-service non-profit Fair Housing agency serving the Bay Area and portions of Central California, including all of Sacramento County and West Sacramento in Yolo County. We have been fighting discrimination in housing through education, advocacy and enforcement in Northern California for more than 40 years. We believe that a proposal on the November 6 ballot, Measure L, has serious Fair Housing implications. Its passage will raise a serious barrier to an important housing opportunity for non-white individuals living in the area, and will promote further segregation of an already segregated community. Therefore, we urge City of Davis voters to vote “NO” on Measure L.
Measure L, in essence, asks voters to approve the West Davis Active Adult Community (WDAAC), a senior housing development with 325 proposed for-sale units and 150 affordable apartment units. All of the apartment units and 80% of the for-sale units would be age restricted. Moreover, 90% of the units to be sold would be reserved for buyers who either live in Davis or have some other specified connection to Davis, such as working in Davis.
While such a new housing development may seem appealing at first glance, Measure L poses a serious problem under Federal and State Fair Housing laws. Even the name of the project is troubling: would a severely disabled senior feel welcome at a development that calls itself an “Active Adult Community”? But perhaps the bigger problem is that by limiting the sale of such a high percentage of the units to buyers with a Davis connection, a city that is overwhelmingly White, Measure L would have the effect of discriminating against Blacks and Latinos and reinforcing the historical and still extant segregation of the community around Davis. Because the percentage of Blacks and Latinos living and working in the areas outside of Davis is generally much higher than the percentage of Blacks and Latinos living and working in the City of Davis, a policy that gives a purchase preference to people with a Davis connection is, in essence, a policy that gives a purchase preference to White buyers vis-à-vis Black or Latino buyers. Such a preference is likely to violate Federal and State Fair Housing laws because it can only further entrench City’s existing ethnic and racial imbalance.
Director of Strategic Initiatives