Letter: Clergy Comment on Affordable Housing

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To the editor:

The owners of the University Mall, the Brixmor Property Group, have applied to the City for permission to demolish the existing shopping center and replace it with a mixed-use project of 264 apartments and 136,000 sq ft ground-floor retail.

We also note that Commissioner Darryl Rutherford has stated that the Commissioners themselves had multiple objections. “I’m a little disappointed in what we’re seeing here.” He called the proposed affordable housing plan ($600,000 in lieu fees) “an atrocity” and a “slap in the face.”

Historically, Davis once had one of the strongest inclusionary housing requirements in the state. That policy intended to create affordable units in every major rental project built in Davis, enabling low-income families to live in Davis, and create the possibility of a robustly diverse community. Many minority households whose members work in Davis are part of the low-income population and these affordable units were often their only entry to living and
working in Davis.

However, of the 264 apartments being given permission to be built on the University Mall site in Davis, not one of those 264 units will be set aside as an affordable unit.

Instead of providing any affordable units, the developers have voluntarily offered to deposit $600,000 into the Housing Trust Fund. This bypasses the glaring need of our community and is an insult to our historic vision and commitments.

The current awakening to and rage over racial and economic inequities in our nation require new and bold actions; our past failures to undo the racial and economic injustices that plague our land require us to create communities where all people can thrive. Ensuring that our housing policies contribute to more inclusivity and equality in our city is especially critical now.

As religious leaders in Davis, we believe the City must not approve a plan for 264 apartments that perpetuate the kind of divisions that are now tearing at the fabric of our communities. We must take concrete steps to provide more, not less, affordable housing that can make possible a diverse community in Davis.

The University Mall proposal must be at the very least a stepping stone toward our City’s moral commitment to inclusion and affordability. Now is the time to make these bold changes and to walk in partnership with the spirit of these transformative times.

Today is June 19th, Juneteenth—an auspicious day to make this appeal for a new moral vision for housing in Davis.

Sincerely,

The Rev. Dr. Brandon Austin, Pastor, Davis United Methodist Church
The Rev. Beth Banks, Senior Minister UU Church of Davis

Rabbi Seth Castleman, Davis

The Dr. Pamela Dolan, Rector of the Episcopal Church of St. Martin

The Rev. Casey Kloehn Dunsworth, The Belfry Lutheran-Episcopal Campus Ministry

Hamza El-Nakhal, Davis Muslim Dein

The Rev. Dr. Eunbee Ham, Pastor, Davis Community Church

Anne Kjemtrup, Davis Muslim Dein

The Rev. Dr. Chris Neufeld-Erdman, Pastor, Davis Community Church

Sara Tillema, Director and Campus Minister of Cal Aggie Christian Association (CA House)

Rabbi Greg Wolfe, Congregation Bet Haverim, Davis


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