Monday Morning Thoughts: Housing Pressure on Davis About to Ramp Up

Consider this a trigger warning – if you don’t like speculation, you probably won’t like this column.  The state as we know is feeling the pressure of housing shortages.

A reader on Sunday noted that the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) will shortly be issuing its Regional Housing Needs Allocations, which will trigger the requirement for a new housing element for the city’s General Plan.

Posting from a Next 10 report from the spring, it is noted, “The state of California continues to experience a housing crisis. Supply has not met demand for years, and it has become increasingly difficult to develop an adequate stock of affordable housing units, forcing some residents to move further away from job centers or out of state entirely (in) order to find affordable housing.

“While 200,000 units of housing are needed annually to keep up with population growth, only 113,000 were permitted in 2017, and fewer than 750,000 units were permitted since 2007, accounting for only 40 percent of the projected need.”

Next 10 notes: “There is no question that California’s RHNA [Regional Housing Needs Assessment] process has failed to live up to its stated purpose, as most jurisdictions have continued to fail to meet their housing goals and those that do perform well often do so because there’s a relatively low bar of success.

“While the recently passed housing legislation package of 2017 may help improve RHNA data accountability and transparency, more enforcement mechanisms may be necessary in order to meet existing goals, as (there) may be a comprehensive assessment of the goal-setting process to ensure it is not guaranteeing a continued shortage by setting goals according to the status quo, in which soaring costs and homelessness on the rise.”

At the same time, what I am hearing is that by this fall, perhaps November, the county will come out with its own housing assessment.  At this point this is unconfirmed speculation, but I am told that that assessment will show that the city of Davis will be in need of a substantial amount of new housing over the next decade or so.

The reader correctly notes with regards to RHNA, “The process identifies needs, but does not mandate construction of housing.”

But what we are hearing is that the state will attach real sticks to compliance with housing allocation so that if the city or other jurisdictions fall out of compliance, they would face the loss of funding from the state.  Already the state has threatened to tie transportation money to meeting housing requirements, but then backed off.

As the reader points out: “If they finally put enforcement teeth in the SACOG RHNA process, Davis may find itself having to make some zoning decisions. SACOG can’t force annexation, but there is little question that annexing land for mid-price housing would be less contentious than trying to shoehorn in more tightly packed housing units into existing neighborhoods. It would also be the most effective way to create opportunities for affordable housing and very low-income housing.”

Locally this is going to make things interesting.  One of the big issues that really has not been touched yet is the renewal process for Measure R.  Right now the city has been kind of hanging back with respect to those discussions.

It is interesting that the city did not incorporate into the survey questions about the Measure R renewal.  It seems at this point the city is planning to hold off on that until November – which would strangely decouple council candidates from the direct vote, although clearly they will be asked about their preferences.

The politics of the renewal is a bit up in the air.  Had the projects in 2018 gone down, the heat would be a lot higher on Measure R.  With two relatively easy, albeit contentious, passages, it might take the pressure off the measure.  But large new state mandated growth requirements could drastically change that issue.

Or perhaps not.  The recent polling places the issue of affordability of housing at the top of the list of community needs.  Not only did 31 percent of those polled select it as “the most important issue facing the City of Davis today” in an open ended question, but 79 percent of residents polled were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the affordability of housing and only 18 percent said they were somewhat satisfied or very satisfied with it.

At this point, it is too soon to speculate.  We do not know concretely what the growth requirements will be or what the consequences would be for not meeting them.  But the people I have spoken to in the past week expect them to be “game-changing” in scope.

—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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14 Comments

  1. Craig Ross

    Word is somewhere between 6000 and 10,000 new res. will be mandated.  (That sounds high, but a 1% annual growth rate is 600+ per year so project that out over 8 years and you end up with pretty close to 6000).

    1. Bill Marshall

      Craig…

      Last I heard, Davis pop ~ 69,000… people/residence (MF and SF) ~ 2.4-2.5… do the math…

      I think that the “growth rate” is related to dwelling units, not population.   Might be wrong, but would need a reliable cite to the contrary…

      There are not anywhere near 60,000 dwelling units in Davis…

      If there were, we’d not have to worry about housing needs… see math example, above.

        1. Bill Marshall

          Noted… was unclear earlier… 10,000 folk, based on past history, equates to ~ 4,000 du.

          Or, ~ 400 du/yr for a 10-year period…

          The proposed SACOG RHNA is also ambiguous, at least from what is evident at this point… as to whether it’s folk, or du’s… a “wait and see”, it appears… some of the newest proposals would suggest that for MF, the # folk per du will trend upwards, in Davis… but with all the existing du’s,

          Too early to speculate… but some will, and portend (or, pretend) they are “experts”… or have special knowledge… I do not claim either…

           

  2. Ron Oertel

    As the reader points out: “If they finally put enforcement teeth in the SACOG RHNA process, Davis may find itself . . .

    . . . without such popular “improvements” as the Mace Mess”.

  3. Ron Oertel

    “SACOG can’t force annexation, but there is little question that annexing land for mid-price housing would be less contentious than trying to shoehorn in more tightly packed housing units into existing neighborhoods.”

    So, after recently attempting to “embarrass” those who identify as “progressive” – but don’t want their neighborhoods destroyed, David is offering them a feel-good solution via supposedly “mid-priced” sprawl.  Of course, not without first pointing out that these progressives are “old”, as well.

    Classic “divide and conquer” political strategy.

    Unfortunately, it might work – for those without any backbone, or who so value the “other” Vanguard articles that they’re willing to overlook David’s continued advocacy on behalf of well-off developers.

    It is interesting that (according to the city’s survey), the Vanguard is not particularly trusted – even though Davis is overwhelmingly progressive.

    Davis is not one of the cities that have been outright ignoring RHNA requirements.  In fact, some of the megadorms and other developments should count toward the next round of requirements, as well.

     

     

    1. Don Shor

      re:

      “SACOG can’t force annexation, but there is little question that annexing land for mid-price housing would be less contentious than trying to shoehorn in more tightly packed housing units into existing neighborhoods.”

      Your comment:

      So, after recently attempting to “embarrass” those who identify as “progressive” – but don’t want their neighborhoods destroyed, David is offering them a feel-good solution via supposedly “mid-priced” sprawl.

      For the record, David is quoting me with that comment.

      In fact, some of the megadorms and other developments should count toward the next round of requirements, as well.

      That will be an interesting question. Davis came in with very low allocations in the RHNA process the last two times around. Nobody has ever been able to explain to me why Davis allocations were so much lower than other cities in Yolo.
      http://davismerchants.org/vanguard/SACOG%20allocations%202013%20-%2021%20Yolo.png

    2. Ron Oertel

      Since SACOG can’t force annexation, perhaps the next round of requirements should be made with that in mind.  However, I’m sure that there are some who would like the number to be so high that it realistically leads to it (beyond the two peripheral developments that have already been approved, and the other pending developments).

      I understand that the date of occupancy is what counts toward meeting RHNA requirements. If that’s the case, then some of these megadorms and other developments should “count”. (We might want to “thank” those who have taken actions which, at a minimum, have delayed these developments. Especially since the council may have completely disregarded the RHNA implications, when they approved these developments. (Despite others pointing this out – repeatedly.)

    3. Ron Oertel

      I also understand that there’s some “leftover” allocations which haven’t been built (and will be available to count for the next round, as well).

       

      1. Don Shor

        (and will be available to count for the next round, as well).

        I don’t think that’s how it works any more, but I’d have to find the text of the bill the governor signed last year to verify that. More to the point, I see no particular reason for Davis to continue to get minimum allocations in this process. This is a statewide housing shortage, and the RHNA process is essentially a zero sum game. If Davis gets fewer, other Yolo County cities get more allocations.

  4. Rik Keller

    Why won’t the Vanguard address the real issue in  Davis not meeting its RHNA allocation, whatever the numbers turn out to be: the reduction suspension of the City’s Affordable Housing Ordinance requirements and its Middle Income Ordinance.
    [edited]

  5. Alan Miller

    Consider this a trigger warning – if you don’t like speculation, you probably won’t like this column.

    At the same time, what I am hearing is that by this fall, perhaps November, the county will come out with its own housing assessment.

    At this point this is unconfirmed speculation, but I am told that that assessment will show that the city of Davis will be in need of a substantial amount of new housing over the next decade or so.

    But what we are hearing is that the state will attach real sticks to compliance with housing allocation so that if the city or other jurisdictions fall out of compliance, they would face the loss of funding from the state.

    One of the big issues that really has not been touched yet is the renewal process for Measure R.  Right now the city has been kind of hanging back with respect to those discussions.

    But large new state mandated growth requirements could drastically change that issue. Or perhaps not.

    At this point, it is too soon to speculate.

    But the people I have spoken to in the past week expect them to be “game-changing” in scope.

    Passive-Voice, Passive-Aggressive, Non-Commital, Non-Speculative, Speculative ACTIVISM.

    GO DAVIS!

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