Commentary: We Needed to Have a Discussion on Measure J – Maybe We’ll Get One Now

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By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

I voted for Measure D when it came on the ballot in November last year.  I have taken a lot of flak from both sides but I think it’s the right policy for Davis.  But it is not scripture.  In fact, as I have pointed out, it has never been legally challenged and we actually have not seen a project go from beginning to completion under the process yet.

But, while I supported Measure D, that does not mean I support the notion that it should remain as written in 2000 in perpetuity.  Even the 200-year-old-plus Constitution remains a living document with amendments and courts updating interpretations into the modern era.

On Tuesday, with potential consideration for changes looming, predictable voices spoke out against such consideration.

Nancy Price was one of several commenters who made a similar point on Tuesday.

“I strongly oppose language that would alter or amend a Citizen-based Measure J/R/D ordinance that was overwhelmingly supported in the recent November 2020 election by over 82 percent (of) voters,” Price said.

She added, “I think it would be explicitly flying in the face of the Davis vote, should the Measure J/R/D be included in the housing element—it should be separately discussed and debated by the community.”

One of those proposed changes has been largely taken off the table by council—even though it actually does not require any change to the language of Measure J.  That is the notion of pre-approving land that could be set aside in a vote, which would allow for the city to simply consider a land use proposal as it would an infill project.

Councilmember Dan Carson explained, “We’re not accepting, at least I’m not recommending, one of the proposals that come forth to pre-zone some properties in the city at the end of town.”

Carson explains, “To me, it creates a confusing problem of EIRs and potentially multiple votes. I just don’t think it works.”

I don’t agree with the council on the issue of pre-approvals, which would not require changes to the Measure J language.  Carson believes it could set up two votes—if it does, so be it.  But I don’t think that will be the norm.  There have been plenty of infill projects that have earned the ire of neighbors in the last 20 years—none of them have gone to the ballot.

The other proposal gained more traction and will actually gain consideration—it would change the requirements for affordable housing exceptions to Measure J which, right now, Dan Carson correctly identified as unworkable.

He said, “(W)e are in fact proposing, as was described, the targeted change. There was already an exception written into measure J/R/D for affordable housing, but the language in that exception makes it unworkable, it hasn’t been used in 20 years.”

But on Tuesday, once again, about four or five citizens spoke up during public comment pointing out that Measure D passed with 83 percent of the vote and the voters didn’t want it touched.

As someone who was part of that 83 percent, I think people have to be a little careful not to fall into the trap that everyone who voted for it was expressing the belief that there should be no changes.

That is certainly not true of me.  I preferred Measure D in the current form to repealing it.  But I would, in fact, like to see changes explored.

What the protesters seem to forget is the voters will have to make the change, it cannot happen through the backdoor or through council action alone.

“We need to make this a useful and workable tool because of the challenges that we have.” Carson said that he supported Measure J, he voted for it, “but it isn’t perfect and it can be improved.”

I think Carson is right on here.

I really don’t understand the concern about consideration of changes to a 20-year-old policy.

Indeed, Carson hit the nail on the head when he pointed out that the whole idea behind Measure J is that the voters should be trusted to be able to make informed land-use decisions and be the final decider on the rezoning of peripheral lands.

Dan Carson said, “I do think it’s reasonable that if you support Measure J/R/D and you trust the voters’ judgment, you ought to trust their judgment about amending J/R/D too.”

This remains a source of frustration for me.  Last year, I was urging strongly that the council have a community-wide conversation on Measure J about a year prior to the renewal, and before COVID made those things more challenging.

But the council literally waited until the last moment, had limited conversation, no outreach, and put the same matter up on the ballot again.  Now here we are, and we are less than a year into the 10-year renewal and we are already talking about changes.  Seems like we could have saved ourselves a lot of trouble by doing it back in 2020.

Second, my frustration is that any talk about revisions gets hammered by a small section of the public who seem to view the original language of Measure J as immutable.  It seems every time we have even approached the issue of considering a modification, we get the same people speaking out—no, keep it as is.

We can’t even have the discussion.

Finally, I point out again, please, stop using the line about 83 percent supporting Measure J as is.  You don’t know that.  I for one supported Measure D but would like to see revisions or at least consider them.

It appears several on the council feel the same way.  You want to trust the voters on land-use decisions—you need to trust them on the law governing land-use decisions.

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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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32 thoughts on “Commentary: We Needed to Have a Discussion on Measure J – Maybe We’ll Get One Now”

  1. Keith Olsen

    But on Tuesday once again, about four or five citizens spoke up during public comment pointing out that Measure D passed with 83 percent of the vote and the voters didn’t want it touched.

    Finally, I point out again, please, stop using the line about 83 percent supporting Measure J as is.  You don’t know that.  I for one supported Measure D but would like to see revisions or at least consider them.

    Hmmmm…..?

    David Greenwald May 8, 2021 at 5:37 am
    I have the same issue with you as I do with Glick on this point – at this point attacking Measure J is pointless. 83 percent of the voters approved it. No one with any sort of political clout will touch it. So if you’re only solution to housing is get rid of Measure J and it infects every conversation, in effect, you punt on housing for the time being. That doesn’t seem a viable strategy.
    https://www.davisvanguard.org/2021/05/guest-commentary-davis-should-plan-to-build-more-housing/

  2. Bill Marshall

    The bed of nails has been ratified by 83%… time they lay in it and take full responsibility for it, as written.  Or, the 83% can decide to scrap it or modify it… I see no point in the 17% (of which I fall into), trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.  That’s up to the “83”.

    There is no right way to do a wrong thing.  The JeRkeD measures are political, not rational, nor conducive to rational review of planning/development projects.  Period.  An ‘adult’ (although it is not “adult”) version of “Simon says”, and/or “Mother may I?”.  Capricious and arbitrary, in practice.

    The fact that David states,

    the issue of pre-approvals which would not require changes to the Measure J language.  Carson believes it could set up two votes – if it does, so be it.

    … says it all… two chances for the political process to “say no”. Why not 3-5-10 votes?

    You want to trust the voters on land-use decisions, you need to trust them on the law governing land-use decisions.

    Do I want voters to be knowledgeable and rational about land use decisions?  Yes.  Will they ever be, in the main?  I think not.  And don’t tell me that ‘I need’ to do anything!

    “There is no right way to do a wrong thing”.  There are already remedies for a rational process to overturn a “stupid” by the CC.  The JeRkeD measures were the wrong thing.

    As for me, I am content to let the 83% lie on their bed of nails, and own up to, take personal responsibility for, any and all consequences for their position.  Or, come up with a feasible alternative that will address the issues of the 17… ball is fully in their court.  The JeRkeD measures are “theirs”, and so it is on them to change it, or live with the consequences of the political, non-rational, capricious and arbitrary system they have voted for, and subject the 100% to.

    I will not play the “game” (for that is what it is)… I don’t play games that have 4.9:1 odds against me… that would be stupid.

    Good luck David, particularly with the zealots, one of whom you quoted, who seem to be in the camp of “Measure J!, right or wrong!”

    I’ll be on the sidelines, to see what y’all come up with, and then I can critique, and see if I can stomach voting for the “hybrid” that comes forward, if any.  Going to be a tough row to hoe… there will be many who say any changes go too far…  others, not far enough.  Good luck with that.

    1. Keith Olsen

       Or, come up with a feasible alternative that will address the issues of the 17… ball is fully in their court. 

      The ball isn’t in their court, the 83% have already spoken.

      [Moderator: edited]

      1. Bill Marshall

        You hear, but do not listen.

        “They” have spoken… true… the topic of the article is a ‘parliamentary procedure’ thingy… ex.:  @ CC, only a member of an action’s majority can bring up a ‘reconsideration’.  So, my main thrust, is that someone who voted in favor of the JeRkeD measures are in a rightful place to suggest a ‘reconsideration’.

        I presume you are part of the 83, and like the arbitrary, capricious, “mother may I?”, “Simon says” thingy.  Assume you believe that vox populi is always right (if it fits your view) and are thoughtful, rational, and knowledgeable.  I have a different view, based on experience, and thoughtful, rational evidence.

        If you are indeed, part of the 83, fine, you won, the 17 lost.  Fully acknowledge that… but the 83 need to “own” and take full responsibility for the consequences.  And if they don’t like that, it is on them to change that.  Simple.

        [Moderator: edited]

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          This is not parliamentary procedure. The council would have to approve a modification to the ordinance, put it to the voters, and the voters vote up or down. There are no requirements as to who can do that.

        2. Matt Williams

          This is not parliamentary procedure. The council would have to approve a modification to the ordinance, put it to the voters, and the voters vote up or down. There are no requirements as to who can do that.

          .
          David, your comment confuses me.  You say that “The council would have to approve a modification to the ordinance”  I believe that is parliamentary procedure.  Then you say “put it to the voters”  Again, I believe that is parliamentary procedure.  Finally, “and the voters vote up or down,” which is also parliamentary procedure … votes are the method by which parliaments are constituted.

          Am I missing something?

  3. Alan Miller

    Second, my frustration is that any talk about revisions gets hammered by a small section of the public who seems to view the original language of Measure J as immutable.

    My frustration is the same arguments put forth by a small section of the public who’s views get overblown because they happen to run a local blog.

    It seems every time we have even approached the issue of considering a modification, we get the same people speaking out – no keep it as is.

    Funny, I see it as the same local blogger speaking out, making the same tired arguments.
    [Moderator: edited]

    1. Keith Olsen

      Well said Alan.  If a small section of the public is hammering for things that a local blogger supports that’s okay and we hear all about it ad nauseam, but when they’re hammering for things the blogger  opposes then it’s frustrating.  BTW, 83% is not a small section of the public by any means.

  4. Keith Y Echols

    I believe that David should be teased and raked across the coals for sheer entertainment value because of his support of Measure J and his continued insistence that it is still a good idea (philosophically) and now wants some leeway from it.

    But here’s the thing thing.  David is right that Measure J/R/D isn’t going anywhere.   David is right to try to find ways around Measure J/R/D.

    So finding mutually agreed upon loopholes is rational and reasonable solution.  But even that doesn’t sound feasible (be careful when you let the inmates run the asylum).

    So here’s what I think about how to deal with Measure J/R/D

    1.  Make continued efforts to get rid of it.  Yes at this point it’s futile but you gotta try.

    2.  Try to find mutually agreed upon loopholes/exceptions that allow for reasonable development/expansion that doesn’t pss off the unwashed masses.  David’s “cheat days”.

    3.  Make economic expansion and development attractive enough to be accepted on a case by case basis.

    What I find is that we have a traditional view of Davis coming against the hard realities of change.  Written into the Genera Plan it says:

    SECTION III. GENERAL PLAN VISIONS
    2. Small Town Character

    Maintain Davis as a cohesive, compact, university-oriented city surrounded by and containing farmland, greenbelts, natural habitats and natural resources.

    Reflect Davis’ small town character in urban design that contributes to and enhances livability and social interaction.

    Encourage carefully-planned, sensitively-designed infill and new development to a scale in keeping with the existing city character.

    Translation: We really don’t want sprawl and almost only infill growth going forward.

    The problem is that the entire Sacramento region is growing at a heated pace.  Davis itself, even with it’s self imposed growth limitations grew by almost 3,200 people from 2010-2021.  

    While California lost 182,000 residents last year (2020), bringing the state’s population to 39.467 million, the Sacramento region continued to grow. The region netted 12,750 new residents (a 0.5 percent increase), bringing the six-county population total to 2.56 million. The bulk of the growth occurred in Placer and Sacramento counties. Some of that increase is the result of migration from the San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley area to the Sacramento area, which was up nearly 38 percent, according to a recent CBRE report using U.S. Postal Service data.

    The “region” is the Sacramento MSA (metropolitan service area) which includes Yolo County.  Now the bulk of that growth as stated went to Placer and El Dorado counties.  But a significant amount of that regional growth had to be felt by the city of Davis.  Between 2018 and 2019 Davis grew by an estimate of 500+ people.  So that leaves Davis in terms of regional growth and local growth planning/philosophy stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    Davis’ population growth is eating up the town’s resources at a greater rate.  That means heavier use of roads (traffic and parking spaces), heavier use of recreation services and areas, heavier use of police, fire and EMS…etc…

     
    So IMO, Davis needs to grow.  Now that may sound odd from someone that has stated that they do not believe that Davis has to grow.  But what I mean is that just because it’s growing doesn’t mean the city has to plan for that growth without considering the cost and potential benefits of growing.  So let me amend my statement to say: I believe Davis needs to grow with specific purposes in mind.  
    If we can’t get rid of Measure J and it’s descendants.  And we can’t get pre approved exceptions, then we need to convince the voters on a project by project basis as the measure was originally intended.  

    You need to sell to the voters.  If I’m the DISC developers, I’d forget the sustainable kale gardens and such…and simply say new businesses in town will project X amount of tax revenue for the city to do these kinds of things.  We will directly put X amount of money into a city fund for the improvement and/or expansion of roads and paths to alleviate traffic around Mace blvd.  New housing developments could showcase the new parks or rec areas they can contribute to the city.  Here’s a new public swim area. Or funded a new neighborhood firehouse or police station.  A new development could add to a public transportation fund to expand the bus system in Davis.  New development could fund social services to support Davis police force. And of course the funding of the development of affordable housing (beyond the inclusionary requirement).  These improvements to city resources can come directly from residential developers.  But an even better way would be to fund these things by expanding commercial development.  New business and sales tax to fund these kinds of things.  Bottom line: USE ECONOMIC EXPANSION TO FUND CITY CURRENT AND EXPANDED RESOURCES AND SERVICES.
    But that expansion can’t come simply from infill.  There’s not enough of it in relation to the resources necessary to make it a sole viable solution to the city’s housing needs.  Also, IMO I’d reserve as much infill housing for affordable and workforce housing projects.  With SB 35 you can can push through affordable housing much easier politically (but still doesn’t get around the economic restraints).

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      Think this is a pretty good post.  I think we need to think margins and affordable housing is a good place to start.  Also , just because I can, point out that the pre-approval doesn’t require changes to Measure J.

    2. Ron Oertel

      We will directly put X amount of money into a city fund for the improvement and/or expansion of roads and paths to alleviate traffic around Mace blvd.  New housing developments could showcase the new parks or rec areas they can contribute to the city.  Here’s a new public swim area. Or funded a new neighborhood firehouse or police station.  A new development could add to a public transportation fund to expand the bus system in Davis.  New development could fund social services to support Davis police force. And of course the funding of the development of affordable housing (beyond the inclusionary requirement).  These improvements to city resources can come directly from residential developers.  But an even better way would be to fund these things by expanding commercial development.  New business and sales tax to fund these kinds of things.  Bottom line: USE ECONOMIC EXPANSION TO FUND CITY CURRENT AND EXPANDED RESOURCES AND SERVICES.

       DISC (as a commercial development) can’t even pay for itself (to the city, or to its own investors).  That’s why they’re including housing (to make it appealing to its investors – not the city).

      But if it actually was approved (and commercially-successful), it would create more demand for housing than already exists.  This is a fact, as noted in the EIR.  Then you can say goodbye to the large Shriner’s site, Covell Village site, etc.

      How does that improve the city’s fiscal situation, let alone transportation?

      Still no announced commercial tenants at the Woodland technology park, that I’m aware of.  The one that was abandoned in Davis, before “moving” to Woodland and adding 1,600 housing units during that process.

      Personally, I find it kind of amusing that the city is attempting to resurrect the Measure D debate at the same time they’re trying to ram-through DISC, again.  Probably helping to doom both efforts.

      The effort to undermine Measure D for the purpose of creating a “ring” of Affordable housing surrounding the city is even more amusing, from a planning aspect.  (Actually, there’s nothing preventing that from occurring now – Measure D already allows it, if no sites are available/suitable within the city.)

      How much “Affordable” housing can/should the city accommodate in the first place?  As a percentage, or total number?

      Any state Affordable funds that aren’t used in Davis are then available elsewhere.  Those funds are not “lost” if Davis doesn’t use them, and might actually be put to better-use elsewhere.

       

      1. Keith Y Echols

         DISC (as a commercial development) can’t even pay for itself (to the city, or to its own investors).  That’s why they’re including housing (to make it appealing to its investors – not the city).

        I hate approving market rate residential housing.  I will consider it only if necessary or provides some benefit for the city.  That being said, I’d be willing to swallow a bitter pill (once) of residential development tied to a commercial project in order to kick of commercial development expansion in the city.

        it would create more demand for housing than already exists. 

        I’m fine with that.  You forget who you’re talking to.  I’m fine with market rate housing going up.  I’m all for leaving it alone for the market.

        How does that improve the city’s fiscal situation, let alone transportation?

        Well, there’s business tax revenue.  Sales tax revenue.  Property tax revenue (which I’ve said in the past, by itself doesn’t support residential development….but commercial is a different story).  If transportation is a big enough issue, then the city should negotiate some mitigation (funding, construction of roads…etc…) as part of the deal.

        Still no announced commercial tenants at the Woodland technology park, that I’m aware of.  

        On the other hand, Vacaville just got a major bio-tech business park going and with the support of major tenants.  These things are usually successful due to the business development efforts of the parties involved (which is another issue for the Davis….better business development efforts).

        The effort to undermine Measure D for the purpose of creating a “ring” of Affordable housing surrounding the city is even more amusing, from a planning aspect.

        I advocate mostly infill affordable housing to go along with inclusionary peripheral affordable housing.  Even in lieu fees from peripheral market rate housing to go towards market rate infill affordable housing.

        How much “Affordable” housing can/should the city accommodate in the first place?  As a percentage, or total number?

        That’s a good question.  Some of that is answered by the RHNA (I think it should be debatable…but moving on..).  I’d argue that Davis should consider more work force housing for certain groups: like teachers, police officers, fire fighters….to a lesser degree maybe newly employed start up employees (hey Tim Keller are ya listening?).

        Any state Affordable funds that aren’t used in Davis are then available elsewhere.  Those funds are not “lost” if Davis doesn’t use them, and might actually be put to better-use elsewhere.

        Any federal and state affordable funds used is great but gravy IMO.  The city should plan on funding affordable housing to the best of it’s ability through local means; which I advocate through economic expansion.

      2. Ron Oertel

        I’m fine with that.  You forget who you’re talking to.  I’m fine with market rate housing going up.  I’m all for leaving it alone for the market.

        I haven’t “forgotten”.  🙂  I appreciate your comments, but I have a different perspective.

        My goal is to avoid a situation in which even more peripheral housing is subsequently “justified”.

        Well, there’s business tax revenue.  Sales tax revenue.  Property tax revenue (which I’ve said in the past, by itself doesn’t support residential development….but commercial is a different story).  If transportation is a big enough issue, then the city should negotiate some mitigation (funding, construction of roads…etc…) as part of the deal.

        In your initial comment, you laid-out a “laundry list” of items that something like DISC could fund.  I don’t think this was realistic.

        But more importantly, how is it that a development which would create more demand for housing (which would likely be subsequently-accommodated) be a “fiscal winner” for the city?

        Some on the finance and budget commission believed that DISC would not be a fiscal winner even without considering the subsequent fiscal impact from the additional residential development that would almost certainly be pursued. Perhaps even on the “other half” of the DISC site, not to mention the large Shriner’s property, Covell Village, etc.

        And of course, this totally leaves out the “private” costs borne by drivers/existing commuters, as a result of increased delay.  (Not to mention environmental impacts.)

        That’s a good question.  Some of that is answered by the RHNA (I think it should be debatable…but moving on..).  I’d argue that Davis should consider more work force housing for certain groups: like teachers, police officers, fire fighters….to a lesser degree maybe newly employed start up employees (hey Tim Keller are ya listening?).

        Thanks – it is a good question, and not one limited to Davis.  That is, how much “Affordable” housing can any given city actually “afford” (in regard to fiscal or other impacts)?

        But again, I find it most amusing that the city is apparently interested in creating a “ring” of Affordable housing, surrounding the city.

        Firefighters and police are among the most-compensated employees.  I’m not sure that housing can be legally reserved for them (let alone “start up” employees who already work at Tim Keller’s company – and already live in the area.)

         

        1. Keith Y Echols

           

          Some on the finance and budget commission believed that DISC would not be a fiscal winner even without considering the subsequent fiscal impact from the additional residential development that would almost certainly be pursued. Perhaps even on the “other half” of the DISC site, not to mention the large Shriner’s property, Covell Village, etc.

          “Winner” in what kind of way?  Again, what constitutes a win for these kinds of projects are largely up to the business development people for the project and the city.  Now granted the city’s ability in this area is almost criminally negligent.  I do not know what kind of track record the developer has.  But even if it’s built out and the developer can’t make it work, a good business development person with the will of the city can get it to be successful as is evidenced by the Sac area growth.  Right now no one wants to do business with Davis. That needs to change.  If that means pushing a square peg project through a round hole community to make it happen and go through some transition pains…so be it.

          But more importantly, how is it that a development which would create more demand for housing (which would likely be subsequently-accommodated) be a “fiscal winner” for the city?

          I don’t understand this question.  If more demand means higher property values.  Then that means higher property taxes which means more property tax revenue for the city.

          In your initial comment, you laid-out a “laundry list” of items that something like DISC could fund.  I don’t think this was realistic.

          Why?  A development can drop X amount of money into a fund towards whatever the city wants (affordable housing, roads, etc…).  Specifically Disc could have worked towards mitigating traffic on Mace.  Yeah, DISC or any other devleopment aren’t going to construct their own on/off ramp from 80.  But they can improve roads, add arterial roads…etc.. to help things.  My laundry list wasn’t a check list of things that had to be completed.  It was a list of where funds could go towards.  No one development is going to solve all the city’s financial issues.

          Firefighters and police are among the most-compensated employees.  I’m not sure that housing can be legally reserved for them (let alone “start up” employees who already work at Tim Keller’s company – and already live in the area.)

          A Davis patrolman has a salary of about $63K.  The median household income in Davis is about $69K.  The typical home value in Davis (according to Zillow) is $802K.  Which seems extreme to me.  So let’s say it’s $750K.  A person making the median household income can roughly afford a $300K home (assuming they’ve saved about $50K for a down payment).  Workforce housing is sometimes calculated as 120% of the median household income.  So it makes homes available for people (in this case) that make up to $82K household income.

          I think Grande Village reserved affordable homes for teachers.  In that case the land was originally the school districts’ property and I believe the sale of the land to Fouts was probably conditional on some homes reserved for sale to teachers.  At any rate I know of other places that have done other types of reservations….so it’s not impossible but it is legally tricky.

        2. Ron Oertel

          “Winner” in what kind of way?

          Meaning a net fiscal “profit” for the city, over time.  Some on the finance and budget commission did not think so – even without any of the items you listed.

          And again, without even considering the fiscal impact of future residential development that would subsequently be “justified”.

          If more demand means higher property values.  Then that means higher property taxes which means more property tax revenue for the city.

          Higher property values won’t have any impact on property taxes for existing parcels, unless they’re subsequently sold.

          As far as whether or not another peripheral housing development would “pencil out” from the city’s perspective, there’s not a very good track record of that “working out”.  (Throughout California.)

          Of course, cities only receive a relatively small portion of those taxes, in the first place.  And to paraphrase Martha Stewart, “that’s a good thing” (unless you want to encourage more sprawl).

          Why?

          DISC didn’t even pencil-out for the developers, without housing.

          A development can drop X amount of money into a fund towards whatever the city wants (affordable housing, roads, etc…).  Specifically Disc could have worked towards mitigating traffic on Mace.  Yeah, DISC or any other devleopment aren’t going to construct their own on/off ramp from 80.  But they can improve roads, add arterial roads…etc.. to help things.  My laundry list wasn’t a check list of things that had to be completed.  It was a list of where funds could go towards.  No one development is going to solve all the city’s financial issues.

          Mitigations are intended to offset the increased impacts of a proposed development, not to fix “existing” issues (let alone “improve” them).  And of course, the impacts consistently exceed the mitigations in the first place.

          A Davis patrolman has a salary of about $63K.  The median household income in Davis is about $69K.

          Is that right?  Both are lower than I would have expected.  Perhaps the latter due to the relatively large number of students and retirees.  Of course, when they’re done defunding the police, I guess we won’t have to worry about their needs, regardless.  🙂

          The typical home value in Davis (according to Zillow) is $802K.  Which seems extreme to me.  So let’s say it’s $750K.

          I believe that these numbers are right around the state average or median.  Woodland prices (for new housing) are approaching that, as are houses throughout the region.  Turns out that you need money to buy a house.

          A person making the median household income can roughly afford a $300K home (assuming they’ve saved about $50K for a down payment).  Workforce housing is sometimes calculated as 120% of the median household income.  So it makes homes available for people (in this case) that make up to $82K household income.

          I don’t think there’s going to be very many $300K new houses – even outside of Davis.  Let alone folks saving up $50K while renting an apartment.  (I was just reading an article in the Chronicle, which notes that some young people have moved back home to “save up” for a down payment.  Many of those people are pretty well-paid.)

          I think Grande Village reserved affordable homes for teachers.  In that case the land was originally the school districts’ property and I believe the sale of the land to Fouts was probably conditional on some homes reserved for sale to teachers.  At any rate I know of other places that have done other types of reservations….so it’s not impossible but it is legally tricky.

          Teachers are one category, many of them from two-income households.  Some living in “North, North Davis”.

          All current employees of the police department, school district, or any other example you might think of are already living somewhere in the city, or nearby.  There is no reason whatsoever to believe that they will relocate within, or to Davis (into some shoebox with no parking, costing $800K).

          They ought to be shutting down schools, in Davis.  The school district itself is one of the most harmful institutions regarding the imposition of their “needs” onto the community.

          The only way to ensure a continuing supply of students (anywhere) is if existing housing is turned-over to younger families.  Which does happen, but perhaps not as much as the school district would prefer.

          Families are among the most impactful, in regard to use of vehicles.  They will likely continue to gravitate toward “North, North Davis” – where they can get a garage, a yard, etc.  (No, I’m not “advocating” this – just noting the reality.)  Even there, housing will have to be “turned-over” if there’s to be a continuing supply of new students to feed the ever-hungry school districts.  Of course, another option is continuing sprawl (which Woodland has already adopted as a “plan”.)  But in reality, this only delays the inevitable reckoning.

           

           

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            “DISC didn’t even pencil-out for the developers, without housing.”

            I have been directly told this is not true, fwiw.

        3. Keith Y Echols

          Meaning a net fiscal “profit” for the city, over time.  Some on the finance and budget commission did not think so – even without any of the items you listed.
          And again, without even considering the fiscal impact of future residential development that would subsequently be “justified”.
          DISC didn’t even pencil-out for the developers, without housing.

          You’re ignoring my comment about business development being the important part (I’ve made it twice).  Again, even if it doesn’t happen immediately; a good biz dev person with the backing of the city can make the project successful.  You’re stuck on some piddly analysis done by a few people people by the city and I’m not even sure they were in the majority of opinion.

          Higher property values won’t have any impact on property taxes for existing parcels, unless they’re subsequently sold.

          Yes, but properties sell.  They sell all the time.   You yourself claimed that the DISC housing would create GREATER demand.  Those properties will contribute greater property taxes.

          As far as whether or not another peripheral housing development would “pencil out” from the city’s perspective, there’s not a very good track record of that “working out”

          What I’ve objected to in the past is the simple assumption that a city has an obligation to provide housing without regard to the cost to the community.  Remember, I’m the one’s that’s been hollering for over year hear about the cost of residential housing to the city.  So yes the city needs to do it’s best to control those costs, account for offsetting revenue and assume it’s the price for whatever else the development may have provided in terms of parks and public facilities.  Are all the numbers going to line up all nice and neatly?  No they never do; especially when it comes the assumptions built into pro formas.

            That is, how much “Affordable” housing can any given city actually “afford” (in regard to fiscal or other impacts)?

          My sort of answer is that it’s going to be based on the current financial situation of a city at a given time.  This is why I advocate for economic growth so that it can afford all these nice things like parks, roads and affordable housing.

          Mitigations are intended to offset the increased impacts of a proposed development, not to fix “existing” issues (let alone “improve” them).  And of course, the impacts consistently exceed the mitigations in the first place.

          Mitigations of residential development typically try offset impacts of development. That’s because property taxes and what little people spend in town don’t go far enough.   That’s why encouraging economic growth is important.   SALES TAX and business taxes in addition to property taxes flow from commercial businesses that typically take up less city resources.

           

          I don’t think there’s going to be very many $300K new houses – even outside of Davis.  Let alone folks saving up $50K while renting an apartment.  (I was just reading an article in the Chronicle, which notes that some young people have moved back home to “save up” for a down payment.  Many of those people are pretty well-paid.)
          All current employees of the police department, school district, or any other example you might think of are already living somewhere in the city, or nearby.  There is no reason whatsoever to believe that they will relocate within, or to Davis (into some shoebox with no parking, costing $800K).

          You’re confusing my statements about market rate housing and affordable housing.  $300K homes are what someone making the median income can afford…that was my point.  The point being the need for specific workforce housing to go along with affordable housing.  I’m saying that we use economic growth to fuel and fund/subsidize affordable and workforce housing.  Workforce housing isn’t going to sell for $800K.  A workforce home would cost about $350K.  Or would rent for about $2,000.

          They ought to be shutting down schools, in Davis.  The school district itself is one of the most harmful institutions regarding the imposition of their “needs” onto the community.
          The only way to ensure a continuing supply of students (anywhere) is if existing housing is turned-over to younger families.  Which does happen, but perhaps not as much as the school district would prefer.

          I don’t know where you’re going with these comments.

          As far as North, North Davis goes.  You’re only seeing one side of it; the Woodland side.  Here’s the reality, is that families looking to live in Davis still look to live in Davis first.  If they can afford it, they will….often settling on smaller and older homes to be closer to the community.  Others that can’t afford it or who value square footage over proximity to the community will move to North, North Davis.  It’s not an either or kind of thing where Woodland is just sucking up all of the new prospective Davis residents.  ( But if they were I’d be good with that by the way to a certain degree).  If Davis expanded then there would be more options for some people (those that can afford it) will consider.

        4. Ron Oertel

          David: “I have been directly told this is not true, fwiw.”

          What you’ve been told, and what you repeat here are two potential sources of misinformation.
          This proposal has gone through multiple iterations, and started out as a commercial proposal.  That was the entire purpose of the city’s interest in it, back-in-the-day.

          I don’t have access to the Davis Enterprise, but I recall that one can see some of the history of it there.  Including concerns from the developer regarding feasibility of those various iterations.

          There’s also this article:

          In Spring 2016, the developers of the proposed MRIC decided to put the project on hold, citing “higher than expected costs” and a less-than-promising economic analysis.  This was actually the second hold on the project, the developers having suspended the project once before, then having brought it back, then having suspended it again.

          https://www.davisite.org/2019/06/mace-ranch-innovation-center-reborn-as-aggie-research-campus.html

          Maybe they’ll hang it up, after one more loss.  The owners of the “other half” of the proposal already have (or at least, claim to have done so).

          In a way, I’m hoping that the council puts this on the ballot at the same time they’re trying to undermine Measure D.  That way, we’ll get a “two-fer”. Too bad that at least a couple of them aren’t facing a recall, as well – as that might permanently fix the ongoing problem.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            How does widening the affordable housing exemption, undermine Measure D?

            On the other issue, I asked them this question directly. They explained that housing doesn’t directly impact whether a project pencils out. Where housing helps is that it’s easier to finance, and so if they build housing first, they can use the profit from the housing sales to fund the other costs. However, as they noted, DISC actually completely negated that advantage by putting a certain amount of the commercial segment first ahead of the housing.

            So why did they include housing in the 2020 proposal? Because there is a housing crisis and they felt it would make the project more successful. As you have pointed out many times, adding jobs is going to drive demand for housing, it would be irresponsible to not meet at least some of that internally.

        5. Keith Y Echols

          Btw. Ron,

          I get where you’re coming from.  I too am concerned about uncontrolled growth/sprawl.  Cities decide to mint money by approving every single new development possible because they collect development fees and property taxes….which look like great initial influxes of revenue for a city.  But there’s little thought to the sustainability of it all because of the costs that are incurred by having to service these new developments going forward perpetually.

          But what we have is a region that is growing and a town that doesn’t want to grow.  People are still seeping into Davis even with slow growth and a small college town vision by the planners and people.  That’s leading to more traffic, heavier use of parks and rec and other city services but with little new revenue to offset it because limited growth also includes limited economic growth.  

          So there’s got to be a balance between sensible economic growth the fund the city services and infrastructure to a point of stability.  But right now, the irresistible force of regional growth and the immovable object of local slow/no growth philosophies is eating away at the foundation of the city slowly.

  5. Edgar Wai

    A city with net immigration should be eligible for resources from cities with net emigration.

    So if Davis has net immigration (note that the student population is net neutral if they leave after studying per student, but it is net immigration per year if there are more students each year), then Davis is justified in claiming resources from other cities.

    The entire implementation probably needs state law changes to require the net emigration cities to pay.

    With that change, each city wants to accept people (or at least stop people from leaving), or build their own university, or require universities to have remote learning options.

     

  6. Sharla Cheney

    “I strongly oppose language that would alter or amend a Citizen-based Measure J/R/D ordinance that was overwhelmingly supported in the recent November 2020 election by over 82 percent (of) voters,” Price said.”

    I think she believes we forget that she filed lawsuits in an effort to thwart the will of the voters who voted under the Measure J/R/D ordinance.  It is frustrating to voters to vote for something (or someone) and then have people try to use the Courts to overturn or negate the results of the vote.

  7. Ron Glick

    I’m glad to see Carson willing to entertain the question as to whether the Affordable exemption in Measure D should be amended to try and make it workable. Of course there are those that don’t want to have the discussion or change Measure D in any way, even if it makes things better for people, this is Davis after all. I think the important question right now is does Carson have the votes to open this up for discussion?

    1. Bill Marshall

      … does Carson have the votes to open this up for discussion?

      Not on CC… “third rail” in Davis politics… CC elections too close.  Ain’t happening from the CC…

      He’d have to do it as an individual… could be a good chance to make a local “Profiles in Courage”…

  8. Ron Oertel

    How does widening the affordable housing exemption, undermine Measure D?

    Widening an exemption is the very definition of undermining.  There’s already an exemption.  The fact that it hasn’t been used so far isn’t “proof” of its viability, one way or another.  The existing exemption is intended to be used when the city has no space to accommodate Affordable housing.

    Just recently, Creekside was completed.  Any word on when the Affordable components of Sterling and Bretton Woods will even begin?

    Creating a “ring” of Affordable housing around the city is not sound planning.  And again, any state funds that are not used in Davis will be used elsewhere.  It’s not as if those funds go to waste, if Davis doesn’t use them.

    On the other issue, I asked them this question directly.

    Again, what they tell you is not “proof” of anything.  Look at their record and the reports already referenced in regard to the various iterations of this proposal.

    Again, the entire purpose of it (from the city’s perspective) was a commercial development.  The council gave them the green light to pursue that years ago.  They declined, and pulled their proposal (multiple times, for that matter).

    They explained that housing doesn’t directly impact whether a project pencils out. Where housing helps is that it’s easier to finance, and so if they build housing first, they can use the profit from the housing sales to fund the other costs.

    That’s called “penciling out”.

    However, as they noted, DISC actually completely negated that advantage by putting a certain amount of the commercial segment first ahead of the housing.

    That does not completely “negate the advantage”.

    So why did they include housing in the 2020 proposal? Because there is a housing crisis and they felt it would make the project more successful.

    Successful to whom?

    Their proposal creates a housing crisis (assuming that the commercial component is successful). This is not an “opinion” – it’s in the EIR (as you already know). Why do you continue to contradict yourself, in regard to your stated concerns?

    But again, there is no demand for the commercial space.  This is demonstrated by the lack of announced tenants at the site in Woodland (which started out in Davis years ago, but was abandoned).  And again, adding 1,600 housing units during that “move” (years ago, at this point).

    I can point out commercial properties that have been vacant for a very long time, in Davis.  One example that comes to mind is near 2nd and Pena.

    I can also point to a list of properties that have recently been converted from commercial to residential use.

    What does that tell you regarding “demand” for commercial space?

     

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