On Tuesday, the city announced that the Planning Commission meeting set to discuss the changes to Bretton Woods would be canceled.
In an email from developer David Taormino, he said, “We are requesting a continuation of the above matter to the next available meeting. The purpose of continuation is to allow me an opportunity to put in writing our proposal and its justification that I intended to deliver orally to the Planning Commission.”
He added, “Unfortunately, not doing so initially has led to erroneous conclusions by some members of the Davis community.”
In a phone interview with the Vanguard late this week, Taormina acknowledged blame for that miscommunication. In light of George Floyd, he said they have to think about “people’s sensitivities to perceived or actual discrimination — particularly in housing.”
He said he is going back to the drawing board “about how to minimize or reduce the likelihood of litigation — and still deliver on the promise of the Davis-based Buyers Program (DBBP) which I’m not stepping away from one iota.”
At this point he said he had been hoping to break ground in September but it may now have to be closer to the spring.
“Right now we have about 90 Davis-based homeowners who have put $5,000 into escrow to a reserve a lot and a home in phase one,” he said. “By the time phase one starts construction, we will have 100 percent of those units sold. That’s without any advertising whatsoever… without even a model.” According to the Phased Tentative Subdivision Map No. 5180 there are a total of 118 lots in phase one.
“Much of this is show over substance,” he said. “The substance is delivering on the promise. I want to deliver on the promise.”
He said that events in recent weeks have made him “more sensitive to perceptions of racial unfairness.”
For the first time, he acknowledged “if you dig into the statistics in Davis and you look at the Davis-based Buyers Program it could give you the perception that the program may not be sensitive enough to people of color.”
This was definitely a complaint made by the opposition to the project back in 2018 — a fact that Taormino acknowledged.
“Yes,” he said. “What we’re trying to do, is figure out how to make it more sensitive to people of color. [And] not punish Davis buyers at the same time.”
What David Taormino also acknowledged was that his intention was not to end the Davis-based Buyers Program, but he admitted that his approach was flawed.
“We never intended to give the impression, although we did,” he said, acknowledging that the impression was that they were ending the promise that 90 percent of the buyers would be Davis residents. He believes he will get there at this point with or without the provisions in place.
He took blame for the miscommunications, stating, “I agree our application was poorly handled by ourselves, we should have presented much more detail — it was my goal to present all of the detail at the Planning Commission and get their feedback on how they saw things. That was obviously poor planning on my part.”
Taormino said he hopes to have the modified program or a replacement program for public release so everyone can see what they are doing and why they are doing it and “not giving the impression that we are abandoning the principles outlined during the campaign, nor are we trying to do a bait and switch.
“Having said that, we did not handle the first part very well,” he said. “I apologize for that.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting