For the second straight time, the voters of Davis, who rejected the first three Measure J/ R projects, have approved a project via a Measure R vote. For the second straight time, the vote wasn’t particularly close, belying the heavily contested nature of the election.
With 100 percent of the voting reported, the project received 9314 Yes votes to 6917 no votes. While there are undoubtedly a large number of ballots still to be counted in terms of the same day Vote by Mail ballots, the outcome is highly unlikely to change.
The initial vote that came in just after 8 pm showed a commanding 59-41 lead. That lead narrowed some in terms of percentage, but it grew in terms of vote margin from 1800 to around 2400 by final verdict.
Like most Measure R projects, there is still some uncertainty as the project faces a filed civil rights lawsuit which claims the Davis-based buyer’s program will have a disparate impact that will accentuate existing disparities in terms of minority homeowners in Davis.
Opponents fought hard throughout, claiming that the project was exclusionary and it focused heavily on senior housing with 80 percent of the homes reserved for those over the age of 55. Meanwhile, the affordable project was also subject to criticism, despite claims by the city and developers that the 150 units well exceeded the requirements under the affordable housing ordinance.
The Vanguard spoke with developer David Taormino before the final results were in.
“We’re enthusiastic about the results,” he said. “We’d like to have gone higher in terms of the numbers but we were pleased that people were supportive of what we want to do.”
He said, “I think generally it’s people recognizing in the community that there’s a need for this type of housing and giving people choices for people to be able to downsize. By making more homes available for resales, that’s going to help the entire community.”
Mr. Taormino was not willing to go so far as to say that Davis had turned the corner in terms of its ability to support housing projects.
“It was a very hard fought effort,” he explained. “I was disappointed that so little of the conversation was about the actual project and how it fit into the overall community. I’m not sure that the community over the next 20, 30, 40 years will progress so that the level of conversation is more at the intellectual level than it was for this last election.”
Alan Pryor issued a statement this morning: “The No on Measure L campaign worked very hard to inform the community about the proposed West Davis Active Adult Community development. However, Davis voters have approved Measure L by a substantial margin.”
“We look forward to continuing the discussion with the community as to how to best provide the affordable housing the City desperately needs for both seniors and working families of modest means,” he said. “We want to thank all of the voters of Davis for their vigorous participation in the democratic process. This is the lifeblood of the Davis community.”
Councilmember Lucas Frerichs sees the vote reflective of the recognition of a housing crisis that is statewide in nature.
“The success of Measure L was born out of both a statewide crisis (the lack of adequate housing) and a community driven process,” he said. “The result is a plan which will help address Davis’ housing challenges; ultimately it will include the building of 150 units of much-needed affordable senior apartments, in addition to the market-rate housing.”
He added, “I’m heartened that the majority of our community supports this effort, as well we well know that passing a Measure J/R vote is no small feat.”
Councilmember Dan Carson similarly saw the housing crisis at the root of the success.
He explained, “The Yes on L campaign had a couple of big natural advantages. The housing crisis is a statewide issue beyond dispute. And the need in particular for senior citizen housing in Davis was undeniable. So I was not surprised by the lopsided win shown in the early election results. “
Councilmember Carson also saw this as continued vindication of the Measure J/R process.
He stated, “The other key message: Measure J and R can work, at least if the losing side does not try to nullify the election results with legal actions that are at odds with the spirit of Measure J and R.”
The opposition fought this one hard, but they did not have a lot of resources at their disposal. They were badly outspent by the developers – although that has been a usual factor in Measure J/R campaigns which has not proven fatal – and their lack of mounting an effort that could reach out to the community no doubt hurt their cause.
As of publication time, they have not sent the Vanguard any sort of statement.
—David M. Greenwald reporting