Letter: Responding to Inaccurate Public Commentary

By Matthew Keasling

In a “Guest Commentary” published in the The Davis Vanguard today, Mr. Alan Pryor makes several rather salacious assertions about numerous issues about which he has no direct knowledge. The commentary is riddled with assumptions and conjecture which reflect poorly upon City staff, J. David Taormina and your Council. These statements are not just inaccurate but libelous and intended to cause real personal and financial damage to Mr. Taormina and the Bretton Woods project. They collectively reflect a reckless disregard for the truth.

At its core, Mr. Pryor asserts that the City has allowed Mr. Taormina to substantively change the Bretton Woods project in a manner inconsistent with that approved by the voters in 2018, specifically with respect to what will occur at a proposed ±3-acre site in the southeast comer. This is grossly inaccurate.

To be specific: The project description from your May 29, 2018 staff report included the following language “The West Davis Active Adult Community project includes… An approximately three-acre continuing care retirement community site, which would likely contain 30 assisted living, age-restricted detached units.” (City Council staff report, 05-29-18, p.05-5.) The staff report for item 4B tonight includes a Background section which, in the past tense, describes the project that your Council approved in 2018 using the identical language, “The Bretton Woods project includes… An approximately three-acre continuing care retirement community site, which would likely contain 30 assisted living, age-restricted detached units.” (City Council staff report, 0 3- 01-22, p.04B- 3.) As is plain to see, there has been no change to the description of the use of this site. Mr. Pryor’s assertion that the City staff and/or Council have allowed the Developer to impermissibly morph the project is not only wrong, it is intentionally inaccurate and defamatory.

Going a step further, Mr. Pryor asserts that the “change” made to the project violates the Baseline Features approved by the voters. This is also false.

The Baseline Project Features include a list of “Primary Project Components” among which is the following: “Provide an approximately three-acre parcel for the expansion of URC for the benefit of its residents or for use by another specialized senior care facility.” (City Council staff report, 05-29-18, p.05-96, emphasis added.) The description in today’s staff report is fully consistent with this Baseline Project Feature, just as it was in 2018 when the same language was utilized to describe this 3-acre component of the project. To elaborate, providing units for senior “assisted living” is the definitional equivalent of providing senior “specialized care.” Case and point, here are two dictionary definitions:

Assisted Living – Housing for elderly or disabled people that provides nursing care, housekeeping, and prepared meals as needed.

Senior Specialized Care – Elder care, often referred to as senior care, is specialized care that is designed to meet the needs and requirements of senior citizens at various stages. As such, elder care is a rather broad term, as it encompasses everything from assisted living and nursing care to adult day care, home care, and even hospice care.

As is clear from the definitions, identifying land for assisted living units is equivalent to identifying land for specialized senior care units. Furthermore, use of this terminology is consistent with the services offered at the University Retirement Center and would in no way precludes its utilization of the site. To be clear, there has been no change to the description and there is no inconsistency with Baseline Features.

Oddly, half way through the Guest Commentary, despite explicit language that the 3-acre parcel continues to be for “assisted living” units and is bound under the Baseline Features to be for “specialized care,” Mr. Pryor asserts that the Developer has convinced city staff to modify this parcel to allow for traditional “single family homes” which he compares to those at the Cannery. He then claims that this change precludes use of the 3-acre site by URC and will result in a financial windfall to the Developer. Not only is all of this conjecture riddled with false accusations and speculation, it is plainly wrong and is, apparently, knowingly intended to mislead the public. It is our sincere hope that Davisites – particularly those in our senior population- are not fooled by this fearmongering.

In summary, please rest assured that (1) your staff has in no way authorized alteration of the project from what was approved in 2018; (2) what is before you tonight is in no way seeking to change the land uses approved by the Council and the electorate; (3) nothing before you is inconsistent with the Baseline Project Features; and (4) that the Guest Commentary is complete and utter nonsense which is apparently intended to create controversy where none exists.

As such, we ask that you take the actions recommended by staff and we thank you for your attention to the item. Approval of Final Maps and Assignment of the Development Agreement to DeNova Homes paves the way to allow Bretton Woods to break ground this summer and finally construct this long-desired and strongly supported senior community in Davis.

Matthew Keasling is an attorney with Taylor and Wiley


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.

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  1. Alan Pryor

    Was a Memory Care Facility to be Built by URC Promised to the Public Before the Vote? – Yes

    If measure L fails, we will have missed the opportunity to build 150 apartments for low income seniors. We will miss the opportunity for the University Retirement Community to expand and build a memory care facility for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. If you have ever had a family member in such a condition, you know how important such facilities are to family members.” — Jason Taormino


    Did Taormino Sue URC After the Election to Negate the Option Granted to Them Before the Election? – Yes

    See yesterday’s article – https://www.davisvanguard.org/2022/03/guest-commentary-how-ongoing-complacency-by-the-davis-city-council-allowed-the-bretton-woods-developer-to-renege-on-election-commitments/ 

    Was the Reason Taormino Sued URC Because He Claimed they Did not Help Him to Win the Election? – Yes

    URC Did Not Continuously, “Publically and Actively” Support the WDAAC Campaign
    For instance, on October 12, 2018, Taormino requested that the URC “Board submit a letter to the
    Editor [ofthe Davis Enterprise] in support of Measure L.” Thirteen (13) days later, and just two
    (2) weeks before the election, URC’s Executive Director relayed the URC Board’s declination,
    stating “I have spoken to my board members these past few days and they are not comfortable
    putting their name on a letter with verbiage supporting Measure L.” The Board did not submit a
    letter to the Editor, nor did URC publically, actively, or otherwise, support the passage of Measure
    L in the days just before the election.” – See above references

    Did Taormino Win the Election? – Yes

    Enough said….

  2. Sharla Cheney

    Does URC want to expand and build a memory care facility?  If so, are they being prevented from doing so?  It is not clear that URC had any sort of agreement or even an intention to build.  Did the community vote to approve the development based on a specific unstated promise of URC’s expansion? I certainly didn’t and actually didn’t care.   URC does not pay any property tax, including school taxes.  It is very expensive to live there and beyond the reach of many Davis seniors.  My focus was on the more affordable types of senior housing opportunities for Davis residents and their relatives.


  3. Ron Oertel

    David:  Last night at the council meeting it was reported that Bretton Woods are currently negotiating a deal with URC for the site.


    The developer is now working again with the same entity that they sued for failing to publicly-support the WDAAC proposal?

    Wondering how that works.

    Did they threaten to sue them again, if they (now) refused to work with them?  🙂

  4. Ron Glick

    The response by  Mr. Keasling does not address the more troubling accusation by Mr. Pryor that the motivation for the return of deposits was that home prices are up significantly since the passage of the project in 2018. If  the motivation was ROI it could be because construction costs are also up. Still I’d like to hear an explanation as to why the deposits were returned.

    Of course without Measure J the project could have been built when prices and mortgages were much cheaper. Even with the Measure J vote requirement the demand for the project to illegally favor local residents caused delays during a time of exceptional inflation. Imagine, if Davis didn’t tie itself in knots over every project, how much shorter the time line for completion and how much cheaper the housing could have been.

  5. Ron Oertel

    In reviewing the Superior Court website, it appears that the lawsuit by the developer against URC is ongoing.  Next hearing is set for July.

    Binning Ranch (the developer) is claiming that they’ve already terminated the agreement with URC (retyped from complaint, below):

    Plaintiff contends that Binning Ranch properly the Option 22 Agreement by way of its Termination Notice, and on that basis is entitled to removal of the recorded 23 Memorandum of Option Agreement and Agreement of Purchase and Sale from the Property’s title, 24 as provided by Section 20 of the Option Agreement, and to retain all option payments made by URC, 25 as well as to have no further obligations or duties under the Option Agreement.”  


    I’m gathering that URC likely still wants the property, but the developer does not want to sell it to them at the price negotiated via the option agreement.  As such, the developer initiated the lawsuit, claiming that URC did not do enough to campaign for them (as a way to pressure URC to drop their pursuit of the property).


    1. Ron Oertel

      Just noticed from the quote that Binning Ranch also wants to “retain all option payments made by URC”, while also terminating the agreement.


  6. Alan Miller

    Mr. Alan Pryor makes several rather salacious assertions about numerous issues


    – causing or showing a strong interest in sexual matters
    – having or conveying undue or inappropriate interest in sexual matters
    – lustful or lecherous

    So the lawyer is saying Bretton Woods is actually going to be a senior red-light district with prostitution, sex clubs and a porno theater?

    And I thought lawyers were supposed to be good with words.

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