Commentary:  Davis Is Boxing Itself In – More Ways Than One

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By David M. Greenwald

Executive Editor

Tuesday’s commentary concluded that Davis is not in danger of becoming Elk Grove and I added the point not only now, but ever.

The discussion on Tuesday’s commentary focused heavily on Elk Grove and development in general.  And not enough on the core point of the article—land mitigation.

A good example was this comment: “The point was, Walter, which looks like it escaped you, is that David is using Elk Grove’s current higher population to claim that Davis is not like Elk Grove.  Well my point is that Elk Grove also had a population of 70,000 and look where it’s at now.  How soon will it be before Davis is just like Elk Grove?”

Actually, that comment completely misses the point.

I baselined Elk Grove’s population disparity—currently 170,000 to 70,000—to demonstrate the huge gulf between the two cities.

I also pointed out that as currently proposed we are talking about around 5000 units and probably 10,000 people added.

But seemingly lost in the discussion was a key fact that I tried to lay out—mitigation land.  I’m not going to reproduce the graphics here, but when you take the mitigation land, UC Davis land, and the Solano County border into account—the reality is that there really is not an opportunity for Davis to become Elk Grove because there will not be the land even available to sprawl onto.

If you are concerned about runaway growth in Davis—that window closed in 2000 not only with the passage of Measure J but also the passage of Measure O and the aggressive approach taken by the city to acquire and mitigate agricultural land.

So people concerned that Davis could become Elk Grove, should understand that the current proposals will not come close to doing that (the purpose of the 170K to 70K comparison) and the land mitigation will prevent that from happening in the future—particularly and ironically if Davis approves some of these Measure J projects.

That was the point of the article—and to some extent it was missed.

On the other side of the divide, so to speak, there are those who argue that the problem with these projects is that they are not nearly dense enough.  I saw where Tim Keller made the comment, “The thing that nauseates me is the fact that we KNOW that single family housing developments are unsustainable in many ways…”

That’s a point that I think is amplified by the lack of physical space for Davis to advance outward.

I see where he suggests, on the same land, a land use scheme that would account for 19,500 additional homes and 56,000 additional people.

I’m sure that will drive the slow growthers into conniption.

I have had a number of conversations with developers and builders recently about the need to have a transparent discussion over economic feasibility of projects.

At the same time, I worry that even if we are somehow able to approve and develop all five of the projects, we will end up in the same place in a decade or two that we are now—except worse—and with even more limited ability to do anything about it.

The only thing I can assure people of is the following: if we look at Davis in 2030 or 2040, it will look VASTLY different than it does now.  That is true regardless of what we attempt to do in the next few years.

The community is long past time to have a realistic discussion of the consequences of current policies and a discussion of what it wants the community to look like.

Somehow, we need to include the voices of not just those who live here, but those who work at UC Davis or DJUSD but can’t afford to live here.

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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40 Comments

  1. Walter Shwe

    Once again I completely agree with David that Davis will never be anything approximating Elk Grove unless existing land mitigation is removed, Measure J is revoked and the Solano County boundary is moved back. I sincerely believe that all 3 of those things will never occur. One or two might.

    Furthermore, regarding the commenters that don’t want Davis to change, where do they live in Davis? If they reside in any part of the city other than Central or Downtown Davis, they are among the thousands of benefactors of Davis growth through the past few decades. I guess they believe growth is fine for them, but not for others to benefit from.

  2. Ron Glick

    “Somehow, we need to include the voices of not just those who live here, but those who work at UC Davis or DJUSD but can’t afford to live here.”

    Why stop there? What about the people who live in Davis but can’t vote? What about the people the people who live on campus but can’t vote in Davis because we refuse to annex the campus?

    Yet you still support Measure J the very thing that limits participation in the political process by giving the final word on rezoning ag land to the voters living within the city limits.

     

  3. Ron Oertel

    I also pointed out that as currently proposed we are talking about around 5000 units and probably 10,000 people added.

    So, this was the first assumption made, which had no basis (2 people per unit).  If the majority of these units consist of single family dwellings, then this assumption would not be correct.

    Interestingly-enough, “2 people per unit” would also not “help” the school district avoid downsizing.

    Regardless, it’s not necessarily the number of people that’s pertinent.  The amount of land consumed is another type of measurement (e.g, 400 acres at Covell Village II, 234 acres at Shriner’s . . .).

    But seemingly lost in the discussion was a key fact that I tried to lay out—mitigation land.  I’m not going to reproduce the graphics here, but when you take the mitigation land, UC Davis land, and the Solano County border into account—the reality is that there really is not an opportunity for Davis to become Elk Grove because there will not be the land even avaiilable.

    This was the bigger error made, in that you only discussed a portion of the land that may house additional development (beyond the 5 proposals, themselves).  This was also pointed out, but you did not respond to it.

    I see where he suggests, on the same land, a land use scheme that would account for 19,500 additional homes and 56,000 additional people.
    I’m sure that will drive the slow growthers into conniption.

    You’re making an assumption (again) which might not be supported.  Tim Keller’s larger point is that sacrificing land for single-family development is the most wasteful, environmentally-harmful alternative there is.

     

     

    1. Walter Shwe

      You’re making an assumption (again) which might not be supported.  Tim Keller’s larger point is that sacrificing land for single-family development is the most wasteful, environmentally-harmful alternative there is.

      Do Tim and you reside in single-family developments? If you do, I would submit that one or both of you are hypocrites. If you don’t want to be considered hypocrites, you basically have to 2 choices. You can either stop implying that others should be denied the opportunity to live where they desire in Davis in single-family homes or you can move out of your own single family homes. 👍

      P.S. Please don’t try to dox me again.

  4. Keith Y Echols

    Another question I have: how much of the surrounding agricultural land in Davis is in the Williamson Act?  It can take up to 10 years for Ag land in the Williamson Act to be eligible for development depending on when it was last renewed (it’s renewed every year).

  5. Keith Y Echols

    Somehow, we need to include the voices of not just those who live here, but those who work at UC Davis or DJUSD but can’t afford to live here.

    Why are we including UC Davis workers?  Remember that post about the state worker and living here a week or so ago?  The question is to whom or how far is a city’s obligation to provide housing to specific groups of workers?  You’d think they’d draw some sort of city boundary, line or limit thing to determine these things.

    Why stop there? What about the people who live in Davis but can’t vote? What about the people the people who live on campus but can’t vote in Davis because we refuse to annex the campus?

    I believe that UCD not being part of Davis is a mutual decision.  Why would UCD want to be part of Davis and why would Davis want to be part of UCD?  UCD has it’s civic autonomy by being outside of Davis.  UCD would be a fiscal drain on Davis if it were part of the city because even if it were part of the city it (I believe) UCD is still be exempt from local tax laws.  I think UCD was fine with the city annexing some dorms but that’s just handing over a financial burden (services and infrastructure) to a neighbor.

    1. Ron Glick

      Before West Village was built there was an opportunity to annex it into the city. The university was willing to negotiate a MOU to cover the cost of services but the Davis City Council said no. One CC member at the time told me he didn’t want all those students voting in our elections because they have different interests. That direct democracy thing only goes so far in Davis.

      As for the Williamson Act most of the frontier parcels around Davis are not encumbered and can be developed  at any time.

       

  6. Tim Keller

    I see where he suggests, on the same land, a land use scheme that would account for 19,500 additional homes and 56,000 additional people.
    I’m sure that will drive the slow growthers into conniption.

    The housing debate is complicated… which is an understatement… but what I am saying about density is a place where I think there is actually common ground to be found.

    I have noticed that the anti-growth crowd in town is firmly against “sprawl”… and on that point, I think there is room for agreement.   I am very pro-growth, but I ALSO am against “sprawl”

    Now, if “sprawl”, to you means “and additional greenfield development” then we arent going to agree on anything… and thats fine.   Its a hypocritical stance since all of our homes were once greenfield developments, but I have long since given up on expecting intellectual integrity in this debate – some people are going to feel the way they do despite the logic of their position, and I am at peace with that.

    But there is another camp of people who are “against sprawl” who are objecting EXACTLY to the thought that Davis might end up like Elk Grove… they are employing a “slippery slope” kind of defense against that kind of sprawl.. like if we approve one more development, it just speeds up the application of the next.

    I understand THAT aversion to growth entirely, and I sympathize entirely.  As someone who was born in the San Fernando valley which makes Natomas / Elk Grove type sprawl look like amateur hour, I don’t want davis to sprawl like that either!

    And that is where the discussion of DENSITY becomes incredibley important, and there was a really important fundamental truth that emerged in the discussion between Don Shor and I yesterday:   I had commented that davis was 90% single family homes ( a bit of an exaggeration I will grant – but not much)  And Don countered with info from the city that stated that 40% of our housing units consists of student rentals.

    Now, I was talking about land use, and Don was talking about distribution of housing types, and we were both right… but consider this:  Whatever portion of our developed land is committed to medium density housing, be it 10% or 20% of our land… THAT amount of land is providing more than 40% of our housing units!

    THAT  is something that needs to be paid attention to.

    We are in a crisis that calls for more housing.. PERIOD… There is no reason why that housing being provided needs to be low density single family units because of 1940’s era version of “the american dream”

    Davis is indeed “boxed in” by flood plains to our north and east.   That is a fact.   So yes, Elk Grove type sprawl is NOT an option here.   But that also means that the few remaining building sites we have are PRECIOUS, and should not be wasted!

    If we are going to take our obligation to solve the housing crisis seriously, we need to consider density seriously.   There really is no other way to solve it.

    1. Ron Oertel

      The housing debate is complicated… which is an understatement… but what I am saying about density is a place where I think there is actually common ground to be found.

      I suspect you are correct, regarding that.  (Not necessarily referring to myself.)

      I have noticed that the anti-growth crowd in town is firmly against “sprawl”… and on that point, I think there is room for agreement.

      I agree.  And a 400-acre Covell Village II, and a 234-acre Shriner’s is “sprawl”.  Especially when they primarily consist of single-family housing.

      I am very pro-growth, but I ALSO am against “sprawl”

      This is where I differ, in that I don’t see the advantage of forever creating more demand for housing (e.g., DISC).  This type of pursuit is what creates “housing shortages” in the first place.

      Now, if “sprawl”, to you means “and additional greenfield development” then we arent going to agree on anything… and thats fine.   Its a hypocritical stance since all of our homes were once greenfield developments, but I have long since given up on expecting intellectual integrity in this debate – some people are going to feel the way they do despite the logic of their position, and I am at peace with that.

      It’s actually not “hypocritical” – any more than someone in the 1970s buying a Ford LTD, but who might buy a Prius today.  Assuming that they buy “new” in the first place.

      In fact, the “best deals” are generally found via pre-existing housing in the first place.  And folks buying those properties today are not directly contributing to sprawl.

      But it’s really economic growth that drives housing demand, and displaces so many from places like the Bay Area.  

      But there is another camp of people who are “against sprawl” who are objecting EXACTLY to the thought that Davis might end up like Elk Grove… they are employing a “slippery slope” kind of defense against that kind of sprawl.. like if we approve one more development, it just speeds up the application of the next.
      I understand THAT aversion to growth entirely, and I sympathize entirely.  As someone who was born in the San Fernando valley which makes Natomas / Elk Grove type sprawl look like amateur hour, I don’t want davis to sprawl like that either!

      So ultimately, that means limiting sprawl, and recognizing the limitations of infill as well.  There is no other way, and this is also the reason that the impacts of economic development need to be considered.

      And that is where the discussion of DENSITY becomes incredibley important, and there was a really important fundamental truth that emerged in the discussion between Don Shor and I yesterday:   I had commented that davis was 90% single family homes ( a bit of an exaggeration I will grant – but not much)  And Don countered with info from the city that stated that 40% of our housing units consists of student rentals.
      Now, I was talking about land use, and Don was talking about distribution of housing types, and we were both right… but consider this:  Whatever portion of our developed land is committed to medium density housing, be it 10% or 20% of our land… THAT amount of land is providing more than 40% of our housing units!

      THAT  is something that needs to be paid attention to.

      That’s what the state is supposedly paying attention to, regarding its mandates.  Only in Davis have some attempted to frame this as a reason to pursue sprawl.

      Of course, the state itself purposefully ignores the underlying reasons for the creation of housing shortages in the first place. This is no “accident” – it’s by design to placate the interests which helped put these politicians into office.

      So far, the state has been able to declare war on its own constituents by purposefully ignoring this fact, but it doesn’t appear that this is going to be effective.

      We are in a crisis that calls for more housing.. PERIOD… There is no reason why that housing being provided needs to be low density single family units because of 1940’s era version of “the american dream”.

      Truth be told, houses were a lot smaller in the post WWII era.  But how are you measuring a need for more housing in the first place?  And how many more before you and others claim that the crisis is over?

      Davis is indeed “boxed in” by flood plains to our north and east.   That is a fact.

      Not entirely.  For example, there’s the land next to Shriner’s, the “other half” of DISC (which isn’t yet being considered for development, etc.).  There’s also the West and South sides.

      But really, one has to look at the map that David posted yesterday and examine it in depth, for each area.  To suggest that developers would be “done” with sprawl even if these 5 proposals were approved is dishonest.  One might also examine “who” owns all of the parcels surrounding Davis, as a clue to what might eventually be proposed.

      So yes, Elk Grove type sprawl is NOT an option here.   But that also means that the few remaining building sites we have are PRECIOUS, and should not be wasted!

      There are far more than a “few” remaining building sites, but yeah – they should not be “wasted”.

      If we are going to take our obligation to solve the housing crisis seriously, we need to consider density seriously.   There really is no other way to solve it.

      How are you defining “housing crisis”?

      And let me ask anyone:  Isn’t the crisis being reduced by the collapse in economic, housing market and population declines?  Partly induced (according to the argument) by not building “enough” housing in the first place?

      And by extension, doesn’t this mean that not building housing actually leads to a reduction in the “housing crisis”?  Sort of like how David says that approving sprawl leads to a containment of sprawl?

      1. David Greenwald

        “And a 400-acre Covell Village II, and a 234-acre Shriner’s is “sprawl”. Especially when they primarily consist of single-family housing.”

        Can you please explain how something surrounded on three sides by development and capped on the north by two conservation easements meets the definition of sprawl

        1. Ron Oertel

          It’s 400 acres of highly-visible prime farmland, the proposal extends beyond The Cannery (which itself might be considered sprawl, had it not already been developed), it’s primarily single-family housing, and it would have an absolutely horrendous impact on traffic on an already-impacted roadway and intersection.

          But more importantly, see Jim Frame’s 1:16 p.m. comment, below.

        2. Ron Oertel

          Already provided.

          The definition of sprawl is not a clearly-defined term in the first place.

          One of the justifications for The Cannery was that it would negate the supposed “need” for Covell Village.

          In general, you can’t point to sprawl which has already occurred, to justify more sprawl.

          But again, see Jim Frame’s comment, below.  If something like that was proposed for that site, it might be more “justified” (regardless of what you call it).

          And again, as proposed, it wraps-around and spreads beyond The Cannery, itself.

          1. David Greenwald

            “Already provided.”

            I went back through and still don’t see an actual definition of sprawl.

            For instance my definition: “Urban sprawl has been described as the unrestricted growth in many urban areas of housing, commercial development, and roads over large expanses of land, with little concern for urban planning.”

            I would argue that by that definition, this is not urban sprawl, especially since the project itself seals off any further expansion.

            The way you seem to define sprawl, is any growth onto the periphery, but that definition seems so broad as to render the term useless.

        3. Ron Oertel

          When you point to any particular development, you’ll likely find aspects which do, and do not meet any particular definition of “sprawl”.

          However, Covell Village II has many of the components in your own referenced definition (e.g., part of the larger picture of “unrestricted growth”, a large expanse of prime farmland, with little concern for urban planning – e.g., impact on surrounding roads).

          In addition, Covell Village absolutely does not “seal off” any further expansion.  The areas that you’re referring to are already that way, though there are other areas that will remain for potential expansion.  For that matter, I recall the council (some years ago, when Susie Boyd and Ted Puntillo were on it, I believe) “celebrating” their declaration that they city would never grow beyond Road 29 – which is well-north of that site. This was part of a joint “celebration” with Woodland, stating that Woodland would never grow south of Road 27. (At the time, I was thinking to myself that given the extremely large amount of sprawl that would be accommodated by this “limitation”, these representatives should be doing anything EXCEPT congratulating themselves.)

          In any case, there’s lots of differing definitions of urban sprawl on the Internet.  I’d say that Covell Village II meets ALL of the following components:

          urban sprawl, also called sprawl or suburban sprawl, the rapid expansion of the geographic extent of cities and towns, often characterized by low-density residential housing, single-use zoning, and increased reliance on the private automobile for transportation.

          https://www.britannica.com/topic/urban-sprawl

          But again, it’s more accurate to look at all of the proposals combined together, rather than try to claim that “this one”, or “that one” has some disqualifying factor for a definition that is subjective in the first place.

          If Covell Village was only (say) 5 acres (and was hemmed in on all sides), I might personally have a different view of it. But it’s 400 acres of prime farmland, spreads beyond The Cannery, primarily consists of single-family housing, represents rapid expansion, and would have a horrendous impact on traffic.

        4. Ron Oertel

          Also, would you (for example) categorize the Shriner’s proposal as sprawl?

          And would you categorize Palomino Place as non-sprawl?  (Note that it is not “yet” hemmed in, unless Shriner’s is also approved.)

          Seems to me that (using the singular criteria that you’re relying upon to deny that Covell Village II is “sprawl”), you’d have to categorize Palomino Place as “sprawl”, unless Shriner’s is also approved.

          But (regardless) you would have to categorize Shriner’s as sprawl, since it would not be totally hemmed in. (Or more accurately, some OTHER development could expand beyond that, which would have some other name.)

          1. David Greenwald

            In my view, with Measure J, nothing in Davis can be constituted as sprawl.

            Also with LAFCO rules about urban development needing connection to existing cities, there is no such thing as leapfrog development in California.

        5. Ron Oertel

          Actually, here’s the most concise/simple definition of urban sprawl I’ve seen:

          Urban sprawl (also known as suburban sprawl or urban encroachment[1]) is defined as “the spreading of urban developments (such as houses and shopping centers) on undeveloped land near a city.”

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_sprawl

          The word “sprawl” itself corresponds with “spread”. One’s stomach can “sprawl” across their pants’ waistline, if they eat too much. Even if ultimately “constrained” by life-threatening health problems, at some extreme point – assuming that one ignores the constraints of their own pants.

          But again, I’m looking forward to your thoughts regarding Palomino Place and Shriner’s, in light of your rejection of Covell Village as “sprawl”. For that matter, you can also address “100% Housing DISC”, since the “other half” would remain available for other development in the future.

          Someone else (whom I wouldn’t have expected to do so) described 100% Housing DISC as “leapfrog” development.

          1. David Greenwald

            I appreciate that you have actually defined sprawl in your view as being any development onto undeveloped land. That pretty much nullifies the impact of the term. Everything is sprawl, so nothing is sprawl. Because you have to develop sprawl in order to grow.

        6. Ron Oertel

          I appreciate that you have actually defined sprawl in your view as being any development onto undeveloped land. That pretty much nullifies the impact of the term. Everything is sprawl, so nothing is sprawl. Because you have to develop sprawl in order to grow.

          It’s actually Wiki’s definition, not necessarily “mine”.

          But here’s what you said, regarding sprawl:

          In my view, with Measure J, nothing in Davis can be constituted as sprawl.

          That’s quite a declaration, and doesn’t even correspond with the definition that you put forth.

          I see that you didn’t want to answer my questions regarding Palomino Place, Shriner’s, and 100% Housing DISC, in regard to lack of surrounding constraints.

          Again, Palomino Place would be “sprawl” according to the definition that you initially used to “disqualify” Covell Village as sprawl.

          But I now see that no proposal qualifies as sprawl in your view.

          you have to develop sprawl in order to grow.

          That’s not true in regard to infill, but I can see that your hope is for Davis to “grow” to some unspecified size.

          However, didn’t you just claim that there’s such thing as sprawl in regard to proposals outside of Davis city limits in the first place?

          1. David Greenwald

            One of the elements of sprawl are uncontrolled growth, in order to get approval, you have to have the voters of Davis agree. By definition, that’s not sprawl.

        7. Ron Oertel

          One of the elements of sprawl are uncontrolled growth, in order to get approval, you have to have the voters of Davis agree. By definition, that’s not sprawl.

          You’re picking-and-choosing your definitions, shifting them (even during this conversation), referring to subjective terms, etc.

          But more importantly, all sprawl is “approved” by some entity – anywhere. So if you’re relying upon that, then you wouldn’t define anything as sprawl – even in other jurisdictions.

        8. Tim Keller

          I appreciate that you have actually defined sprawl in your view as being any development onto undeveloped land. That pretty much nullifies the impact of the term. Everything is sprawl, so nothing is sprawl. Because you have to develop sprawl in order to grow.

          Exactly… they call it “sprawl” which is an ugly term (for good reasons)  – but they really mean they are against ANY growth, so they render the term meaningless

          If you look at the definition of “sprawling” you see where Ron’s point of view falls apart:

          Sprawling:  Spreading out over a large area in an untidy or irregular way.

          That definition requites a sense of SCALE, and is going to be subjective.   I can see how some might consider Davis to already be “sprawling” because it is low density for its area…   but Davis is by no means “large” as far as cities go.   And if it is true that we are alreayy sprawling, then even the development of the entirety of the rest of the mace curve really isnt a material addition to that sprawl… its just filling in the edges of a well-defined city area.

          I would consider it sprawl if we ended up establishing a new freeway exit and then trying to fill in everything from the existing exits down to that one…. anything less than that is infill.

        9. Ron Oertel

          Sprawling: Spreading out over a large area in an untidy or irregular way.

          I would consider it sprawl if we ended up establishing a new freeway exit and then trying to fill in everything from the existing exits down to that one…. anything less than that is infill.

          In response to Tim Keller’s comment, it seems that everyone has their own definition of “sprawl”. And some change it even during the course of a single conversation, such as David did.

          Definitely don’t want any “untidy” sprawl. And as long as you can cram everyone onto a single freeway access point, then that’s apparently infill according to Tim. (I suspect that you’d find a lot of developers who would agree with the latter definition.)

          Anyone else care to give it a shot?

        10. Richard_McCann

          Last week I provided a rigorous definition of “urban sprawl” from an organization dedicated to limiting sprawl. That’s the definition that we all should be using, not a single person’s perversion of term to fit their own personal desires.  Here it is again:

          Characteristics of Sprawl
          The phenomenon of sprawl has been described in various ways, ranging from development aesthetics to local street patterns (Galster et al., 2001). While there is no universally accepted definition of sprawling land development, there are several common characteristics pervading the literature that can help us understand and even measure its occurrence. These include:
          1) Low-density, single family dwellings. The most frequently cited feature of sprawl is the abundance of large-lot (usually 1-5 acres depending on the development context), residential housing developments that consume large amounts of previously vacant or productive land. Density, in this sense, can be represented by median lot size, the number of dwelling units per neighborhood, or median floor space of single-family units (Song & Knaap, 2004).
          2) Automobile dependency even for short trip. Because sprawling development patterns create large distances between dwelling units and segregate different land uses, residents are forced to rely on automobiles at the expense of alternative forms of transportation. Also, the cul-de-sac dominated street patterns within these neighborhoods foster a lack of connectivity and serve as an obstacle for walking and biking to nearby destinations (Benfield et al., 1999). Reliance on the automobile also encourages the development of homogeneous neighborhoods that lack a mixture of land uses (Song & Knaap, 2004).
          3) Spiraling growth outward from existing urban centers.Sprawl is also conceptualized as low-density development rapidly expanding away from more compact urban cores. Approximately 80 percent of the acreage used for recently constructed housing in the U.S. is land outside urban areas; almost all of this land (94%) is in lots of 1 acre or larger (Heimlich & Anderson, 2001).
          4) Leapfrogging patterns of development. Another well-known characteristic of sprawl is dispersed development, which favors the development of parcels situated further out in the countryside over the vacant lands adjacent to existing development.(Torrens & Alberti 2000). Leapfrogging creates a haphazard development pattern that consumes large amounts of land.
          5) Strip Development. “Ribbon” development, in which residences or commercial properties line roads extending outward from urban centers is another prominent characteristic of sprawl (Tsai, 2005). Homes arranged along rural highways present hazards related to traffic safety; commercial strips comprised of fast food chains and large retail stores cater to automobile access and are often fronted by expansive parking lots.
          6) Undefined edge between urban and rural areas. Sprawling residential development extending outward from urban centers tends to blur the division between urban and rural domains (Heimlich & Anderson, 2001). This development pattern is often associated with the encroachment of open space and agricultural lands.
          It is important to note that sprawling development patterns are tied to the context of the urban-suburban landscape. Low-density residential units may mean different things in the city of Houston than in a small town in coastal Maine. Also, one development project or neighborhood does not make for sprawl; rather, sprawling development must be assessed as an overall pattern at the regional level. as an overall pattern of development.
          https://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/the-characteristics-causes-and-consequences-of-sprawling-103014747/

    2. Walter Shwe

      Urban sprawl (also known as suburban sprawl or urban encroachment[1]) is defined as “the spreading of urban developments (such as houses and shopping centers) on undeveloped land near a city.”

      Might then almost every or all the commenters here be living on sprawl? Might a high percentage of California’s current population be residing on sprawl? If there’s one thing I simply can’t stand is blatant hypocrisy.

      1. Ron Oertel

        Might then almost every or all the commenters here be living on sprawl?

        Yes.

        Might a high percentage of California’s current population be residing on sprawl?

        Yes.

        If there’s one thing I simply can’t stand is blatant hypocrisy.

        It’s not hypocrisy to support stabilization. Ultimately, there is no other way (and that should be obvious, but apparently isn’t to some).

        This also ultimately applies to infill. Again, should be obvious – but apparently isn’t to some.

        In my opinion, the folks who pushed for “smart growth” made a strategic and logical error, rather than just confronting the issue head-on. Seems to me that they allowed the usual interests to intimidate them (which seemed to only embolden those interests).

      2. Tim Keller

        It might be helpful for us to consider the verb “sprawl” rather than explore the limits of the noun.

        “To sprawl” would be to spread onself out thinly over a wide area.   Our city is already guilty of that to be sure, but we are debating what to do in the FUTURE here right?    Lets just focus on not “sprawling” anymore.  Lets keep it compact and efficient, lets master plan a moderate density mixed use vision for housing that allows more people to live, while consuming less land, keeping property types affordable and making robust transit service practical.

        I’m getting ahead of a few things i have earmarked for future vanguard articles….  but if you look at what amount of housing we need to provide in this market to get our city into balance with demand, we actually CANT solve our housing crisis just by building low density single family homes.   Even if all of the mace curve and covell village were built out, it would only get us to 1/5 of the unmet housing demand.

        but the good news is that density is quite powerful at overcoming that issue.   By creating a mix of higher density types in that same land area, we CAN right-size the city, probably over a period of 30 years.

        1. Ron Oertel

          It might be helpful for us to consider the verb “sprawl” rather than explore the limits of the noun.

          “To sprawl” would be to spread onself out thinly over a wide area.   Our city is already guilty of that to be sure, but we are debating what to do in the FUTURE here right?    Lets just focus on not “sprawling” anymore.  Lets keep it compact and efficient, lets master plan a moderate density mixed use vision for housing that allows more people to live, while consuming less land, keeping property types affordable and making robust transit service practical.

          I like your ideas regarding compactness, and have (for the first time) realized that you’re serious about that.  Though I don’t think it matters much, regarding whether or not one categorizes “sprawl” as a verb, noun, adjective, etc.

          I’m getting ahead of a few things i have earmarked for future vanguard articles….  but if you look at what amount of housing we need to provide in this market to get our city into balance with demand, we actually CANT solve our housing crisis just by building low density single family homes.   Even if all of the mace curve and covell village were built out, it would only get us to 1/5 of the unmet housing demand.

          Regarding “demand”, how are you measuring that?  The “truth” is that the supply/demand model pretty much ensures that supply/demand are in balance.  Just as in places like Manhattan, San Francisco, Hong Kong, and Oklahoma City. As well as in different locales within cities.  (Demand in the first two places listed has been dropping – without even adding supply.)

          The real “crisis” at this point is in the commercial market – which then impacts the residential market:

          Commercial real estate observers have a close eye on the Union Bank Building at 350 California St. as a benchmark for property values in the post-pandemic era. Back in 2019, brokers valued the property at around $300 million.

          In 2020, when the building went on sale, the number was pegged at around $250 million. As best and final offers are coming, however, commercial real estate brokers say the building is likely to sell at just $60 million—a drop of 80% compared with its 2019 price.

          https://sfstandard.com/business/san-franciscos-famed-california-street-is-selling-at-a-deep-discount/

          but the good news is that density is quite powerful at overcoming that issue.   By creating a mix of higher density types in that same land area, we CAN right-size the city, probably over a period of 30 years.

          What does “right-size” the city mean?  I know what it means in regard to the school district, since it’s subordinate to the needs of the city. Or at least it’s “supposed to be” that way – which is apparently news to some on here (and to some on the council, for that matter. And perhaps for the entire council – which is even more concerning.)

        2. Don Shor

          we actually CANT solve our housing crisis just by building low density single family homes.

          Nobody, to my knowledge, is proposing that we do that. I still haven’t looked at the other proposals, but here are two:
          Palomino Place: 7 – 9 units per acre.
          Cottages
          1/2 flex townhomes
          Move-up lots at two densities
          Lots for single-family homes

          Village Farms:
          “Affordable multi-family units”. 210, 14 – 25 per acre
          “Affordable single-family units” 310, 6 – 14 per acre
          Single-family units. 875, 3 – 6 per acre.

        3. Ron Oertel

          Tim:  we actually CANT solve our housing crisis just by building low density single family homes.

          Don:  Nobody, to my knowledge, is proposing that we do that.

          Nobody, to my knowledge, has even defined what the “housing crisis” is, much less proposed a “solution” to it.

          It seems to have the same type of elusive, subjective meaning as “sprawl”.

          Also, some people define the “housing crisis” as what occurred in 2007 – 2011, and may be occurring again now. Though they usually referred to a housing “crash”, rather than “crisis”.

          It probably won’t be known until unemployment rises -enough to overcome the resistance resulting from current homeowners locking-in low rates over the past 2-3 years.

          Then again, I’ve heard that overall consumer and national debt is rising, the dollar is declining, inflation is still rising, . . .

        4. Ron Oertel

          And from the same source I found above, here’s another “crisis” which ultimately impacts the housing market (including in Davis).

          Regulators are preparing to take control of First Republic Bank, according to a report from Reuters, which would mark an astonishing downfall for a Bay Area institution whose affluent clientele and customer loyalty once made it the envy of the banking sector.

          On Monday, First Republic told shareholders it lost about $100 billion in deposits after Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse, as anxiety around uninsured deposits led wealthy clients and businesses to pull assets and park them in larger banks customers consider to be safer. The bank had been forced to borrow heavily to make up for the losses.

          https://sfstandard.com/business/first-republic-bank-will-be-seized-by-regulators-report-says/

        5. Tim Keller

          “Nobody, to my knowledge, is proposing that we do that. I still haven’t looked at the other proposals, but here are two:”

          You are correct Don.  There is some diversity in all of the proposals in fact.  The shriners also proposal has higher density up front with single family housing in behind – just like the cannery did.

          So we are not debating absolutes here… just matters of degree.

          In my opinion, we need to reverse the ratios of densities at play here.   Instead of 30% medium density and 70% single family, it should be only be 30% single family.

          Its not a small distinction.   When you increase the density we get a LOT more bang for the buck: suddenly you have enough people within walking / biking distance to support neighborhood corner stores and cafe’s  AND transit starts being really efficient.    If you only engage in token density – on the order of what happened at the cannery, those things dont pencil.

           

          1. Don Shor

            In my opinion, we need to reverse the ratios of densities at play here.

            Who is “we”?
            I assume that any housing is going to be built by private developers. Until you find some that are willing to build according to your ratios, my guess is that this will just become another argument used to oppose any new housing development proposals.

            If you only engage in token density – on the order of what happened at the cannery, those things dont pencil.

            “Pencil” for whom?
            Do you think housing is needed in Davis? If so, who do you think is going to build it?
            There’s a wide gulf between what for-profit developers are willing to build and what urban planners want them to build.

  7. Ron Oertel

    In any case, it’s good to see that the so-called “housing crisis” won’t be an issue soon enough, due to changing demographics:

    Millennials are fueling a generational housing bubble that’s set to burst over the next decade as demand for homes falls off, according to researchers.

    In a recent report from the Indiana University Center for Real Estate Studies and the Indiana Business Research Center, researchers said Millennials — who are between their mid-20s and early-40s, are in the prime-homebuying age — have pushed up home prices in recent years as demand outweighs supply.

    But the situation will start to reverse over the next decade, as Baby Boomers begin age out of the housing market. Meanwhile, post-Millennial generations will be smaller as population growth slows.

    That could lead to an excess of housing, potentially pushing down prices and sparking a crash in the real estate sector.

    “Plainly put – a generational housing bubble is on the horizon. New housing built now to meet strong demand may sit vacant in a decade. Demand reversal will intensify by the mid-2030s, when the annual number of homes that seniors add back to the market is expected to be 40% higher than current levels,” researchers said.

    But the situation will start to reverse over the next decade, as Baby Boomers begin age out of the housing market.

    Meanwhile, post-Millennial generations will be smaller as population growth slows.

    That could lead to an excess of housing, potentially pushing down prices and sparking a crash in the real estate sector.

    “Plainly put – a generational housing bubble is on the horizon. New housing built now to meet strong demand may sit vacant in a decade. Demand reversal will intensify by the mid-2030s, when the annual number of homes that seniors add back to the market is expected to be 40% higher than current levels,” researchers said.

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/realestate/millennials-are-fueling-a-generational-housing-bubble-and-it-s-set-to-pop-in-the-next-decade-as-demand-drops-researchers-say/ar-AA1anWFt?ocid=hpmsn&cvid=a997637c6cd44c779228f3d1191a9f01&ei=10

  8. Jim Frame

    What I’d like to see is a project that meets the next RHNA obligations, no more and no less.  I figure it could be done on a couple of hundred acres.  I think that could pass a Measure J vote without difficulty.  There may be a lack of enthusiasm for such a project on the landowner side.

    As an alternative, I’d like to see the LAFCO statute amended to allow a city to annex ag land specifically for — and limited to — RHNA affordable obligations, even if the landowner objects.  That would provide an avenue to get the affordable housing built without needing a Measure J vote.  For Davis I figure that would take about 100 acres.  (The above-market RHNA component would be relatively easy to accomplish through the normal process.)  The city might have to get creative about funding it, but I’m optimistic that it’s doable.

  9. Jessica McCoy

    Could the discussants speak to  families or individuals the community is envisioning moving to the community?   I’m not understanding how this all translates to who we are talking about buying these SFOs or condos?  It seems important to consider who the community needs to invite into the community:

    1) single teacher, late twenties, likely to partner and have a family
    2) married teacher, spouse primary earner.

    3) teacher with family, depending on teacher’s salary to thrive

    4) DHS alumni who wants to move family back to Davis.
    5) Bay Area relocaters wanting a yard.

    I appreciate the discussion but am having difficulty understanding how this translates into real people who might want to join the community.

    1. Matt Williams

      Jessica, I’ll take a stab at your question … if I understand it correctly.

      Regarding (1), assuming you are talking about the purchase of a residence, Don Shor posted here last week that according to Zillow, the purchase of a $500,000 home requires a $134,000+ household income to cover the mortgage and other homeownership costs.  So your single teacher will have to choose a partner with an eye toward combined household income.  In addition, that two working parents family will have to factor in childcare costs, so $134,000 may be a very low estimate.

      (2) is really the same as (1) with the partner selection step having already happened.  The numbers remain the same.

      For (3) the numbers are once again the same, but the teacher is the sole wage earner.  How does that teacher’s salary compare to the $134,000?

      For both (3) and (4) the $134,000 is identical, but the employment of the two parents is not limited to teaching.

  10. Jim Frame

    As far as I’m concerned, affordable housing is about income status, and the obligation is defined by the RHNA numbers.  The units will get filled with folks in the appropriate income categories, and there’ll be enough available to ensure a diversity of occupations and other characteristics.

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