Sunday Commentary: Some Interesting Bedfellows Supporting Measure L

Is This More Evidence That WDAAC Will Pass?  We’ll See

Yesterday’s analysis of the race showed the lack of public opposition to the project outside of a small pocket of people.  Today, I will focus less on data and more on anecdotal evidence.

Eileen Samitz

Some of the biggest vocal critics of Nishi have been relatively silent this election.  And some have actually come out in favor of the project.  That includes, perhaps most notably, Eileen Samitz.

In the Enterprise this weekend she called the project “an excellent project which came a long way after months of input from Davis residents.”

She writes, “Many meetings were held inviting input from numerous neighborhoods and the entire community.  The information collected was used resulting in a nicely planned project with various housing types.”

Ms. Samitz continues: “The WDAAC project will have 150 apartments for low-income seniors which are much needed, as well as higher-density stacked flat condos, smaller cottages and bungalows, and some larger single-family units which is what the community asked for during the time for input.”

She argues that “the WDAAC project design evolved based upon the community input it got. The project even provides housing for 20 percent of non-senior residents, so altogether WDAAC provides a variety of housing, but with a focus on helping our senior community with sizing-down housing options.

“The WDAAC is a good project that would help Davis offer more housing options for seniors. I will be voting ‘YES’ on Measure L, as I hope Davis voters will, too,” she writes.

Jim Provenza and Don Saylor

I also found the Jim Provenza-Don Saylor collaboration to be notable.  While the two men have now served for nearly a decade together on the Board of Supervisors, they have not always seen eye to eye on development.  Jim Provenza has opposed a number of past projects including, most notably, Covell Village.

But this weekend they come out with their own piece together.

They write that Davis is “experiencing our own ‘silver tsunami.’”

Most notably they write: “As Yolo County supervisors we have heard three consistent needs when it comes to seniors: housing, transportation and health care. The West Davis Active Adult Neighborhood/Measure L addresses these three needs and provides a wide range of housing choices for future residents.”

While I’m sure the opposition will have some nits to pick here – Yolo County is the governmental body that oversees many social service agencies in the county, and thus they have a different perspective than many residents.

The two supervisors focus on three aspects of the project.

They write: “A Yes vote on Measure L will support 410 market rate units in various sizes and configurations and provides land for 150 income targeted affordable apartments. These homes are needed now and will provide needed relief to the local housing market.”

They add here, “The Yolo Healthy Aging Alliance supports this project because it is the first development in years to provide affordable housing for seniors.”

Critics have criticized the project’s transportation connectivity, but they offer a different perspective.

They write: “The neighborhood design was modified during the outreach process to allow a circular flow of buses, vans and private vehicles. A neighborhood serving transit hub will include an area for rideshare services, protected seating, access for shuttles and/or buses, EV charging stations, and parking for shared vehicle programs.  Utilizing the Activity & Wellness Center as an indoor area where people can wait for transportation in comfort is central to this concept.”

Third, they point out that health care needs are “built into the plan.”  They argue, “Locating seniors, especially low-income seniors, proximate to health care is good planning. This project site is across the street from the Sutter complex of emergency room, hospital and medical offices. The Communicare John Jones Clinic is also located in the Sutter complex. This is one of the central health care providers for low-income residents of Yolo County.”

They also point out that the project location “has great access to health care, transportation, and neighborhood shopping. Residents of the proposed project will have easy access to the Marketplace Shopping Center and to extensive biking and walking paths connecting West Davis to the entire community and beyond.”

Yolo Healthy Aging Alliance

Speaking of which, Yolo Healthy Aging Alliance Director Sheila Allen in a recent letter supports the project.  She writes: “The Yolo Healthy Aging Alliance supports the West Davis Active Aging project in concept. Such a project could address the current and growing need for more senior housing in Davis that includes universal design and accessibility components both inside the house and in the neighborhood to allow persons to age in place.

“In particular, we support additional affordable units to address an urgent need for older adults living in Davis. We look forward to actively participating when the developer and builders bring forward specific housing design plans.”

Excitement and Traffic

It will be interesting to see if this type of support is enough to overcome Davis’ slow growth tendencies.  But the more I look at who is supporting this project, the more I think it will end up passing.

But I do think one of the commenters from yesterday has a good point.  They write: “David states that he doesn’t see much pushback against this project but there’s also not much excitement for this project.  I feel when the voters go to the ballot box they’re going to think about the extra traffic, how hard it already is to find downtown parking, that this project doesn’t fit real Davis needs accept for a small handfull of seniors who may want to downsize and the fact that it’s sprawl on the periphery so they’re going to vote ‘NO.'”

I think the commenter raises an interesting point when he notes that “there’s also not much excitement for this project.”

To be honest, I don’t know what excitement for a project looks like.  If you subscribe to the 40-40 theory (which has held except in 2009), the race will be determined by the people in the middle.  You’re not going to find a lot of excitement for the project in the middle.  But we saw a lot more pushback against Nishi in 2016 than we did in 2018.  And right now, this race feels like Nishi 2018.

The commenter also points out traffic impacts.  Tia Will responds that there was a lot of traffic on Friday along Covell – well, that’s been happening on Fridays.  I’m not sure how much that has to do with local factors and how much that has to do with traffic simply backing up from the freeway system.

Covell Village was partly decided on traffic issues.  Nishi 1.0 was definitely decided on traffic issues.  The traffic analysis for WDAAC shows small impacts.  Less than ten seconds at peak hours.  Having a small project with perhaps 500 cars is just not going to add enough traffic to Covell Blvd., let alone the rest of the town, to have much of an impact.

I’m not seeing a lot of opposition popping up.  Am I misreading this?  I didn’t see a lot of counter-arguments yesterday.  But we will see what ends up happening here.

—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. Rik Keller

    This article is merely a thinly-veiled opportunity for David Greenwald to extensively quote supporters of Measure L while pretending to provide analysis of the possible election outcome.

    One “interesting” piece of data is the ratio of large amount of quoted material to the perfunctory other writing.

    1. Alan Pryor

      Not really newsworthy or even surprising at all. Eileen has been amazingly consistent in what she supports or opposes. For the last 8 years, Ms. Samitz has vocally supported all large projects with single-family homes priced for rich people (Cannery and now WDAAC) or kept completely silent on smaller projects with large sprawling homes (Grande Village, Willow Creek, and The Villas at El Macero). But she has aggresively and adamently opposed all student housing (Nishi 1 and 2, Sterling, Lincoln 40, and most recently Plaza 2555). The only student project she was silent on was Davis Live because it was functionally an on-campus high-rise project. I think Eileen just likes very large single-family dettached housing for rich people and hates all housing for students or youg people. She’ll fit right in at WDAAC

        1. Howard P

          I could tell you, but you did not ask the question of me, so will refrain… will be shocked if Mr Pryor honestly answers the question that you asked of him.

        2. Alan Pryor

          People change over 12 years. Just as Eileen Samitz has morphed into a large single family home-lover : student apartment-hater, David Greenwald has changed into a developer-loving mouthpiece.

          Case in point – David Greenwald was also once an ardent opponent of Covell Village and the developer. In fact, he once wrote a blistering article chastising the Covell Village developers for doing their own market study when they came back from the Covell Village voter rejection and attempted to repurpose the project as a senior focused project. The article was entitled, “Council To Allow the inmates to run the asylum” (July 3, 2009) and in it he bitterly oppossed allowing a developer to do their own “senior” market study and use it to attempt to influence City housing policy.

          Indeed, in 2010, having an independent market study for senior housing became one of the cornerstone features in a new City policy document attempting to define City needs in senior housing developements. The document was entitled, “Guidelines for Housing for Seniors and People with Disabilities” and approved by the Council in 2010.

          Strange that when we pointed out that there was no independent market analysis for senior housing at the WDAAC project as now prescribed by the City’s own “Guidelines”, Greenwald said nothing to object.

          Like I said, “people change”. I do not know what has changed in Ms. Samitz’s life to cause her position to change on large single family properties in Davis. In Mr. Greenwald’s case, it happens to coincide with his starting to take in tens of thousands of developer advertising dollars.

        3. Howard P

          Ah… more innuendo…

          In Mr. Greenwald’s case, it happens to coincide with his starting to take in tens of thousands of developer advertising dollars.

          A charge of “corruption” based on …? Coincidence?   Evidence?  Mr Pryor has many ‘priors’ in this approach to issues… going back at least 10 years… at least he is consistent, over time.  Gotta’ give him that…

          But, it is not apparently an honest answer to the question posed to Mr Pryor… no surprise there.

        4. Alan Pryor

          Uh, Howard, all I said was his change in heart coincided with his intake of developer advertising dollars…That would make it a coincidence, Coincide = coincidence, right?

          But you’re the one who immediately raised the spectre of corruption. Do you know more about developer corruption in Davis media than you are letting on?

          Hmmm. You seem to be an even more steady mouthpiec for developers in Davis than Greenwald. Are you a paid shill?

      1. Howard P

        Slanted and inaccurate BS.  No surprise there.

        To honor it, will start a wood fire in my fireplace, and order a gross of one-use plastic bags to give to the homeless to use as overshoes/liners to keep their feet dry in case it rains soon.

        Mr Pryor, in his perfect world, would apparently like to require everyone to believe in, or at least adhere to, his world views… he is far from alone in that.  My door doesn’t swing that way.

        1. Howard P

          Clarification Craig… Alan P, yes… Alan M, not much at all.  I often disagree with Alan M, but I like and respect the dude.  Not so much for Alan P.

          No disagreement on assessment of Rik.

        2. Alan Pryor

          Slanted and inaccurate BS.  No surprise there.

          To honor it, will start a wood fire in my fireplace, and order a gross of one-use plastic bags to give to the homeless to use as overshoes/liners to keep their feet dry in case it rains soon….

          Getting a bit snarky, are we? OK, I’ll play

          My door doesn’t swing that way.

          I am guessing your doors only open to the “right” side to only allow all your knuckle-dragging allies through, eh? (Oops…I am being impolite and politically incorrect in disparaging our simian friends by comparing them with conservatives of Howard P’s ilk?)

        3. Eileen Samitz

          While I haven’t been reading the Vanguard anymore because of its lack of objectivity and divisiveness, I was notified about this article which certainly appears to be “bait” to divide progressives on subject of the West Davis Active Adult Community (WDAAC) project.  I find it is especially interesting that while David Greenwald makes a point of my position on WDAAC he does not even mention that other progressives like Ken Wagstaff and Dick Livingston have made clear their support of WDAAC with their letters to the Enterprise and their reasons why. Discussing their positions and why may have made this article more objective and informative, but that does not seem to have been the intent here.

          It is disappointing to see Alan’s negative comments towards me which make false accusations as well as very incorrect assumptions about the reasons for my positions on land use issues now and in the past, and in particular on the WDAA project.

          So, to set the record straight I summarized my reasons for support of the WDAA project in my letter to the Enterprise printed this past Wednesday. These reasons include the fact that this project had much input many Davis residents, from literally, dozens of meetings in its outreach to the community of asking what was desirable in this project.

          The WDAA project in response, included many amenities like an activities and wellness center, a tot lot for children to visit and play, and even a dog park.  This project offers an opportunity for seniors to down-size into, while freeing up their larger homes to those needing a larger place like families with young children. Also, it is near Sutter-Davis Hospital and many other medical facilities making it easier for seniors to get to doctor appointments and medical care but is also near URC.

          The project evolved further due to the community input including increasing its density (note: WDAA has a higher density than the Cannery). Not only does the project offer 150 affordable apartments needed by so many seniors, but also added were stacked flat condos and adjusting the sizes of the lots to be even smaller of the single-family units. The lots are small which include small cottages, bungalows, and some larger single-family homes (none of which are larger then 5,400 sq. ft.) and which can be built by local contractors.  

          So, while Alan argues for higher density at WDAAC, his home is clearly on a lot which is far larger then 5,400 sq. ft. So, in terms of consistency, if someone wants others to live in higher density housing, it resonates more if they practice what they preach. Also, for the record, regarding another insinuation by Alan, I have no intention of moving from my small townhouse which suits me perfectly well.

          Regarding my positions on other projects, Cannery also had plenty of input from the community which spanned over eight years. While some people say it is too dense, some others, like Alan, claim it is not dense enough. So, the bottom line is it is unrealistic to expect any project to please everyone, and clearly Alan feels strongly about opposition any project that does not meet his criteria and he has a right to do that. Likewise, those of us with a different opinion than him have a right to express our opinion as well. It’s called democracy.

          Finally, my position against the “mega-dorms” and has been in regard to their exclusionary design of predominantly 4- and 5- bedroom apartments which do nothing to help provide housing needed by our local workers and families and their “affordable housing” plans also which are also rent-by-the bed for students. The only project which made sense because of its location and infrastructure in place was Davis Live. Meanwhile, although Alan opposed Nishi 1.0 it was disappointing that Alan was not consistent in his opposition on Nishi 2.0 even though it had many of the same problems including not having a legitimate affordable housing plan.

        4. Craig Ross

          “I was notified about this article which certainly appears to be “bait” to divide progressives on subject of the West Davis Active Adult Community (WDAAC) project”

          Funny how Eileen never reads the Vanguard, and yet always seems to find out when it’s about her.

          That said, “appears to be bait to divide progressives”?  Progressives appear to be divided, no?  Isn’t that the point of your point referencing yourself, Ken Wagstaff, Dick Livingston?  I don’t really understand your point here.

          The bigger culprit here would seem to be Alan Pryor, not the Vanguard.  He’s the one who unleashed the attack on you.

        5. Eileen Samitz


          I overlooked your 10:38am comment earlier and just to clarify, here again, you made more untrue and unwarranted assumptions and accusations. Just because I don’t agree with you on this issue, does not mean I have “changed”. Quite the contrary, I have and continue to always assess issues, including land use, on each individual basis and decide my own position.

          Further, this is not a “large” single family project. It has a higher density than Cannery, it has 150 affordable units, stacked flats and cottages and bungalows as well as some larger single-family units all on small lots, none bigger than 5,400 sq. ft. How large is your single-family home lot Alan?

          So, no Alan, nothing has “changed in my life” to change my views on land use. Further, I don’t feel like I should be expected to be “no” on any land use change. However, I am a slow growth person and strongly support Measure J/R, and therefore I support that Davis citizens weighing in on this project to determine if it moves forward. I’ll be voting “yes” and everyone needs to decide for themselves how they should vote, including you.

    2. Tia Will

      I agree Don that it is. However, I would also point out that Eileen also backed the Cannery which has attempted alteration after alteration of its initial supposed compromises in order to gain initial community and council support. People tend to see Eileen as a slow to no growth but this is no more true of her than it is of me. Both of us, although we often disagree, tend to view each project on what we see as its individual merits. Of interest, I have not spoken with Eileen about how she feels about the Cannery project now as opposed to how it was initially portrayed.

      1. Eileen Samitz


        Perhaps you overlooked the portion of my post which clarified that I was notified (by email) of this article.

        Funny how you focus on continuing to pit Alan and I against each other, rather than pointing out that if there is any “culprit” of pitting progressive against progressive, it is David Greenwald regarding this article today.

        Rather then having a more fair and informative article clarifying that other progressives like Ken Wagstaff and Dick Livingston had letters published in the Enterprise supporting WDAAC even before I did, Greenwald targets me in his article today. Seems to me that that is newsworthy.

        1. Jeff M

          Aw, but we live in a time where your opinion (especially if a white male) about what is targeting, triggering, offensive, upsetting, hate, etc… is not yours to make.

  2. Rik Keller

    “Interesting bedfellows,” illustrated with anecdotes:

    – Davis Vanguard named Yes on Measure L/West Davis Active Adult Community as a “Social Justice Champion Sponsor”. Yes on L/WDAAC has been the largest advertiser on the Davis Vanguard for months and was one of the largest donors for the recent Davis Vanguard fundraiser.


    –  The WDAAC project is being sued for fair housing/civil rights violations for discriminatory impact against racial/ethnic minorities. The lawsuit is based on decades of case law and legal precedent. David Greenwald said lawsuit is “dangerous playing of the race card.”


    – In his subscription-only newsletter, David Greenwald published private information purportedly about the lawsuit plaintiff in an effort to doxx him and question his legitimacy.


    – The Fair Housing Council of Orange County (FHCOC), an organization founded in 1965 that receives close to $1/2 million annually in HUD funding, wrote a letter to the City of Davis about fair housing violations and possibly illegal marketing language by the WDAAC project. David Greenwald said they are “not an official group, but rather a private 501c3 located in Santa Ana with a more official sounding name.”


    – Despite the FHCOC letter referencing decades-old fair housing guidelines commonly used in the housing industry and which a local disability rights/fair housing attorney provided background for (“some of the earliest cases under the FHAA focused on advertising for developments, which marketed themselves as communities for “active adults.” Such advertising was determined to be a not so subtle way of discriminating against people with disabilities who were not traditionally “active.” Similarly, advertising a senior housing development as an “adult” community, gives the impression that families with children are not welcome in even the 20 percent of homes that are not age-restricted”), David Greenwald wrote an entire article calling the letter “strange” and tried to undermine the credibility of both the long-standing guidelines it referenced as well as the authors’ credibility.


    – WDAAC published a half-hearted apology for its project motto “Taking Care of Own” that a Davis City Council member described as ringing “with a distinctly Trumpian tenor that effectively delineates “us” from “them.”” The WDAAC developer also pledged not to use phrase anymore. Then the developer both continued to use a slight variation of the phrase and subsequently used the exact phrase in multiple event advertisements in the past week. David Greenwald says nothing.


    – Jason Taormino posted a photo on social media on Halloween with Yes on Measure L/WDAAC booth downtown of someone posing in an offensive “redface” costume with his caption “Pocahontas loves seniors”. Photo is widely commented on and condemned in social media posts and other local on-line news sources. In the national context of Megyn Kelly recently losing her NBC show for defending “blackface” on Halloween as being “ok so long as you were dressing, like, as a character,”  David Greenwald says nothing.


    – Another fair housing organization, Project Sentinel–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”–wrote a letter that the WDAAC project “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.” It also mentioned the issue of the highly problematic use of the “active adult” marketing language” raised by FHCOC. David Greenwald says nothing.


      1. Ron

        Sure it does.  Rising interest rates, overpriced houses, and the downturn in the stock market is now impacting the real estate market throughout California.  I’ve posted other articles regarding this, as well.

        As always, the real estate market is cyclical.  What we’re witnessing is the beginning of a downturn.

        The Davis market is too small for the Sacramento Bee to single it out. (Davis isn’t as “special” as some might think. Unlike individual cities in the Bay Area, Davis is surrounded by less-expensive alternatives.)

        1. Craig Ross

          Also the market goes up, the market goes down.  That doesn’t mean we don’t need more capacity in town.  That doesn’t mean that seniors won’t need housing.

        2. Ron

          The Davis market is influenced by the factors mentioned (rising interest rates, overpriced houses, and the downturn in the stock market).  However, unlike the Bay Area, it’s also influenced by housing availability in less-expensive, but nearby areas.  (That’s why Davis schools are becoming “commuter schools”, for those who live nearby – but outside of Davis.)

          Davis does experience less-pronounced downturns (and upturns), than surrounding communities. (And, that was the case even before Measure J/R was in place.)

          From what’s been posted on here, it seems that seniors are already dominating existing housing. Mostly as a result of the existing/housed population aging in place.

        3. Howard P

          Yeah… “rising interest rates”… compare to the much higher interest rates in the 80’s and 90’s… when a lot of projects were built…

          Calling BS… a 100% increase in a small number, is still a small number… but Ron and Keith would have you believe “the sky is falling” … rational/knowledgeable folk know differently…
          However, it appears here, investing in the red herring commodities might be a great investment!

        4. Keith O

          but Ron and Keith would have you believe “the sky is falling” … rational/knowledgeable folk know differently…

          Hey Ron, did you see this?  I don’t know how this guy gets away with posting this $#%@.

        5. Ron

          Keith:  Howard can call “b.s.” all he wants.  However, he’d be arguing with actual data, showing that the housing market is cooling off:

          As a side note, I don’t recall Howard posting anything, other than his own opinions (regarding information, or points of view that he doesn’t like).

          However, it should be noted that Howard has stated that he doesn’t support WDAAC, either.

        6. Keith O

          Also most rational/knowledgeable folk know that interest rates and the stock/housing markets usually go in opposite directions.

          Ron, I sometimes feel he purposely posts contradictory opinions just to be obstinate.

    1. Jeff M

      No problem Ron.  By the time Davis gets its collective head out of its collective arse and actually builds some number of housing, the market will again be on the climb.

      These things are cyclical if you have not noticed.

      1. Ron

        Have to admit that I find that amusing.

        However, Davis has actually never stopped building.  Witness the Cannery, Grande, Willow Creek, Creekside, Sterling, Lincoln 40, Nishi, Davis Live, 3820 Chiles Road, Plaza 2555, Trackside, University Mall, B Street, Chiles Ranch, the “residentialization” plans for University Mall, University Research Park, and the entire downtown . . .

        Don’t kid yourself – MRIC is still listed, as well. For sure, to include housing.

        1. David Greenwald

          “However, Davis has actually never stopped building.“

          There was a several year period where Davis did stop building and number of building permits per year was at least less than 20   I have that data somewhere

        2. Ron

          David” Probably during the heart of the recession.  When every other community stopped building, as well (and had a glut of empty/foreclosed houses).

          It’s pretty clear that we’re at the beginning of a downturn, now. (Hopefully, not as severe as the last time.)

        3. Keith O

          Rising interest rates are going to flatten to maybe cause another housing downturn.  The FED is now very hawkish and has already stated that they aren’t finished.

          Anyone that knows anything about investing knows


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