Letter: David Taormino Is Trying to Run a ‘Bait and Switch’ on Davis Seniors by You

This was a letter sent by Alan Pryor on April 13 to the Davis Planning Commission

Dear Planning Commissioners –

At the upcoming Planning Commission meeting this Wednesday you will be presented with the newly proposed “Davis-Connected Buyers Program” for the Bretton Woods Project. This new proposal has serious flaws and is essentially gutless in terms of ensuring that a large percentage of new homes are sold to existing Davis homeowners thus freeing up current local housing stock for new families as promised by the developer in the actual language on the ballot in the Measure J/R vote in 2018.

I have written a detailed article published in the Davis Vanguard about the new program and its shortcomings that are so severe that it renders the program practically non-existent. To see the article click on the following title, Bretton Woods Attempts Another Bait and Switch with Its Davis Based Buyers Program, or insert https://www.davisvanguard.org/2021/03/guest-commentary-bretton-woods-attempts-another-bait-and-switch-with-its-davis-based-buyers-program/ into your browser.

In summary, the new Davis-Connected Buyers Program states that it will have prospective buyers sign a disclosure form identifying their link to Davis but that it also allows ANYONE to refuse to sign the disclosure form because they are a member of a protected class based on any race, gender or gender identity, ethnicity, religion, etc. I myself could refuse to sign the disclosure form simply because I am a straight married white agnostic male and the developer’s new proposal says that would allow me to buy a new home even if I otherwise had no links at all to Davis. The developer also claims that they will not investigate or demand proof of any “protected status” claims because he does not want to intrude on the prospective buyers privacy. In other words, the developer will take any and all buyers thus opening the floodgates to anyone who wants to buy there and has the wherewithal to engage in bidding wars.

The developer also claims that neither he nor any builders will advertise outside of the designated areas for a short period of time after model homes are built. But this does not preclude anyone else from plastering ads all over the Bay Area including real estate agents or other 3rd party marketing firms. Further, the developer’s own proposed self-imposed advertising restrictions are toothless because there are no absolutely no  penalties whatsoever to preclude the developer from simply ignoring his own promises.

In my Vanguard article I also point out how much it is to the developer’s financial benefit if he can sell the new homes to more wealthy Bay Area expatriates flush with cash from the sale of their old homes at inflated values. For instance, there are 410 new homes to be built at Bretton Woods. If the developer and builder can sell each of these homes at $100,000 more by selling them to more equity-rich Bay Area buyers, that is an extra $41,000,000 (yep – you read it right – $41 million!) in extra profit compared to what the developer and builder might otherwise receive if selling to local Buyers as was promised by the developer in the election materials.

As one example of the severe pressures put on the local real estate market by out-of-town buyers, one recent home listing in Davis received 18 bids within a day or two of showing. The home was an older non-descript, 1,400 sq ft single story home listed at $750,000. Of the 18 people who submitted bids, only two were from Davis. The other 90% of the bids came from out-of-town buyers! I know an elderly couple wanting to downsize from a 2-story 2,100 sq ft home who submitted a bid at $780,000. This turned out to be almost the lowest bid and it didn’t come close to the eventual winning bid of $830,000 from an out-of-town buyer.

This influx of out-of-town buyers flooding into the Davis marketplace and bidding up properties out of the reach of local buyers is not a new phenomena. I’m sure many of you remember the promises given to the Council by New Home Co, the developer of the Cannery. They loudly proclaimed over and over how their project was going to ease the local housing shortage and focus on attracting local buyers to free up existing housing stock for younger buyers with growing families. Yet as soon as the ink dried on the Development Agreement, New Home Co. was running half page ads in Bay Area newspapers touting the affordability of their new homes in Davis and out-of-town buyers came flocking.

Of course, the Bretton Woods developer promised us his project will be mostly for local buyers through the original Davis-Based Buyers Program. But now just weeks after receiving the final map entitlements for the project from your Commission, the developer is back wanting to completely change the deal he promised voters...who could have thought?

The developer himself notes in his new proposal that there are over 5,000 households in Davis owned by people 55+ years old (equaling about 25% of all Davis single-family homes) and an additional 12,000 homes owned by people who have an immediate family member over 55. That’s 17,000+ prospective buyers for his 410 homes of which he promised to sell 90% to Davis seniors. Do the math! The developer only has to tap into 2.2% of those existing 17,000 homeowners and he has sold out the 369 homes that he promised would be reserved for Davis buyers. Yet now the the developer is still claiming he can’t stick to his original promise to the Davis seniors whose votes were absolutely critical in passing the Measure J/R vote authorizing the project.

Worse yet. I’m told the developer has sent around emails to the local homeowners who deposited money to reserve homes at Bretton Woods telling them that unless he can get his new Davis-Connected Buyers Program approved by the City, he may not get a builder to sign up and he may have to raise prices on the seniors who have already signed up and deposited money with him!…amazing…what chutzpah!

I finally note that former Mayor Brett Lee published an Op-Ed in the Davis Enterprise on Sunday in which he suggested a compromise by opening up the Buyers program to all of Yolo Co. including Woodland and West Sacramento. Unfortunately, this does not relieve the extreme local shortage of family homes we have right here in Davis. We need aging seniors to move from their larger Davis homes to free them up for new families to purchase and enter the local school districts. That was the promise sold to voters by the developer in the Measure J/R vote and that is what the developer should be held to.

For these reasons I believe it is incumbent upon the Planning Commission to weigh in and advise Council to reject the developer’s proposed bait and switch Buyers program rather than just receive the report from Staff as an informational item. You certainly have the authority to do that and doing so sends a signal to the developer and Staff that you intend to ensure developers keep their promises to the electorate and that you are not there simply to rubber-stamp Staff’s proposals.

Alan Pryor is a Davis resident and former member of the Natural Resources Commission.


Support our work – to become a sustaining at $5 – $10- $25 per month hit the link:

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

Related posts

14 Comments

  1. Ron Glick

    The author has done a great job at preventing the construction of any homes under  Measure J and its successor ordinances. To date, some 21 years after the original passage, these ordinances have been a total 100% success at preventing any construction subject to the ordinance. Its good to see the efforts to prevent this construction continue apace as this perfect record remains in tact.

    Continuing to attack this project as bait and switch is a brilliant strategy. Remember, as John Steinbeck wrote “A good organizer uses whatever he has.”

     

  2. Don Shor

    We need aging seniors to move from their larger Davis homes to free them up for new families to purchase and enter the local school districts. 

    Unless, of course, those new families come from the Bay Area or out of town.

    more wealthy Bay Area expatriates flush with cash

    more equity-rich Bay Area buyers

    out-of-town buyers!

    out-of-town buyer.

     influx of out-of-town buyers flooding into the Davis marketplace

    out-of-town buyers came flocking.

     

    We don’t want ANY Bay Area people moving here. Or out of town people moving into town. The Davis housing market must remain a completely closed market.

    1. Alan Pryor

      I have no problem with families moving to Davis from anywhere – even rich Bay Area families. That puts kids in our schools and improves the Davis demographics toward younger families. I have a problem with the developer’s bait and switch that does not provide the new homes at Bretton Woods for Davis seniors that he promised. Moving older Bay Area seniors into the new Bretton Woods instead of Davis seniors will only exacerbate our populations’s age imbalance skewing it even more toward seniors.

      I suggest not reading more into my letter than what is intended.

      1. Richard_McCann

        I think Alan has done an excellent job of stating the issue. I agree with him that no one should read more into his statement than what is there. Alan and I have been on opposite sides on Measure J/R/D projects and I’ve clearly written here about the need to open up our housing market to younger families. I could not support more what Alan has said here.

  3. Eric Gelber

    I’m not sure what outcome Alan is looking for. Bait and switch implies that the seller advertised an apparent bargain with the intent of substituting an inferior or more expensive item. The remedy would be to hold the seller to the original offer.

    The problem here is, the original Davis-Based Buyers Program was as absurdly flawed as the current version for the same reasons. The outcome should be to eliminate the idea of excluding “outsiders” entirely, regardless of what was promised during the campaign.

    Limiting marketing to the local region is a legitimate means of emphasizing local buyers. Concocting arbitrary and potentially unlawful exclusionary buyer priority criteria is not. The developers scheme to dupe voters into approving their project needs to be rejected in any version.

    1. Alan Pryor

      Limiting marketing to the local region is a legitimate means of emphasizing local buyers.

      The reality is that these new houses at Bretton Woods can be advertised by real estate agents and 3rd parties anywhere – there are no restrictions on them. The devloper’s advertising restrictions only apply to the devloper and the builder and even with those restrictions there are no penalties if they violate those restrictions. Besides, emphasizing local buyers was not the promise made by the developer and on which promise many voters, especially seniors, cast their ballot in favor of the Measure. Seems only right to hold the developer to those promises made right in the ballot language.

      Concocting arbitrary and potentially unlawful exclusionary buyer priority criteria is not

      According to three separate legal opinions obtained by the devleloper and the City Attorney and the Council, the preferential Buyers program is not “unlawful”.

      The developers scheme to dupe voters into approving their project needs to be rejected in any version.

      Are you suggesting a revote as Davis Greenwald opined?

       

       

       

      1. Eric Gelber

        A revote is not required to modify a Development Agreement. Legal or not, the buyers program is a bad idea for at least the reasons I stated in my letter posted yesterday.

        1. Alan Pryor

          But the language stating the preferences for Davis seniors was not only in the Development agreement. It was also in the ballot language – although, I admit, not explicitly in the Baseline features. Nevertheless, many seniors I talked to clearly relied on those promises made by the developer in the ballot language when they cast their “Yes” votes. I think the Council should hold the developer (and themselves since they all signed the ballot statements)  to those promises

        2. Eric Gelber

          Of course voters relied on the language. That was the whole idea of the deceptive scheme. Problem is, the program was not and is not what it was represented to be and would not have the promised outcome. It needs to be scrapped.

        3. Alan Pryor

          Of course voters relied on the language. That was the whole idea of the deceptive scheme

          Then why not have a revote without the deceptive scheme included?…Seems only fair.

  4. Ron Oertel

    For instance, there are 410 new homes to be built at Bretton Woods. If the developer and builder can sell each of these homes at $100,000 more by selling them to more equity-rich Bay Area buyers, that is an extra $41,000,000 (yep – you read it right – $41 million!) in extra profit compared to what the developer and builder might otherwise receive if selling to local Buyers as was promised by the developer in the election materials.

    Excellent point (and examples throughout the article) regarding Bay Area homebuyers driving up prices.  And of course, the recently-passed Proposition 19 allows those over 55 years of age to take their low property taxes with them anywhere in California, which no doubt will encourage that result.

     

     

  5. Ron Oertel

    Alan P:  But the language stating the preferences for Davis seniors was not only in the Development agreement. It was also in the ballot language . . . 

    Eric:  Of course voters relied on the language. That was the whole idea of the deceptive scheme. Problem is, the program was not and is not what it was represented to be and would not have the promised outcome.

    Just to clarify, there’s no consequences for putting forth language on the ballot which is later discarded (e.g., changed into a meaningless form)?

     

    1. Eric Gelber

      The ballot language itself does not refer to the Davis-Based Buyers Program. There’s reference to the resolution that incorporates the Development Agreement, which, per City Municipal Code, is subject to modification without voter approval. The Program is not in the Baseline Project Features.

      Ballot Language:

      Shall Resolution 18-094 amending the Davis General Plan to accommodate a senior housing development by changing the land use designation for the West Davis Active Adult Community property from Agriculture and Urban Agriculture Transition Area to Residential Medium Density, Residential High Density, Neighborhood Mixed Use, and Urban Agriculture Transition Area, as set forth in the Resolution and establishing the Baseline Project Features be approved?

  6. Alan Miller

    This whole thing was a farce from the beginning.  I don’t blame the developer — he just saw that there’s a sucker born every day, and they all moved to Davis 😐 — I blame the City for allowing this fraud to be handed to the voters, and the voters for being too stupid to see what was going on, and again the voters for voting in Measures JeRkeD which caused all this.

    “Stupid is as Davis does, sir!”

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for