Commentary: The Public and Council Needed to Know about HCD’s Letter Prior to Tuesday’s Meeting

University Commons – the mixed use project was formally killed on Tuesday

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Davis, CA – Earlier this week, I ran the column, “The Future of Davis Is on the Line This Week, Stay Tuned.”  That caused at least one person to snicker about the title, but if anything it might be an understatement given what has now transpired.

On Tuesday night, the council made two critical decisions with respect to housing—they failed to get the votes to hear the appeal on University Commons when Gloria Partida, surprisingly, voted against even hearing the appeal from colleague Bapu Vaitla.

This was followed by the decision by council not to attempt to proceed with any of the Measure J project submissions for the November 2024 ballot.

These decisions by council were made all the more important by the letter from HCD that was dated April 3 (Monday) and received on Tuesday (April 4), informing the city that they need to continue to revise the Housing Element.

Of particular interest is the fact that the decision not to go forward with mixed use housing at University Mall was a critical part of the decision by HCD not to certify the city’s Housing Element.

HCD wrote, “In accordance with public comment received by HCD, it appears University Commons, a project set to develop 264 units of mixed-income housing will no longer have a residential component.”

They add, “The absence of residential units from this project would require the City to identify additional sites to accommodate a revised shortfall of 485 units of lower-income housing and 227 units of above-moderate housing. The element must be revised to address this shortfall.”

This is not a minor deal—as I will explain later, it is now unclear where the city will find those additional units in order to be in compliance with State Housing laws.  More on that shortly.

However, the immediate question that many people in the community had yesterday was the old: what did they know and when did they know it?

I confirmed with both Vice Mayor Josh Chapman and Councilmember Gloria Partida that neither were aware of the letter on Tuesday and both told me explicitly that they first heard about it and read it on Wednesday after the council meeting.

While Partida, in an extensive conversation with me on Thursday, maintains that it would not have changed her vote, I think from a public process standpoint this is problematic.

The city received the letter on Tuesday, but staff was preparing for a council meeting that had multiple lengthy and meaty items on the agenda.

Nevertheless, the city was in possession of the letter at that point which made explicit reference to a project which was on the agenda for that night and the council and public should have been aware of the direct implications of the decision made by council with respect to the housing element.

Talking with Partida, as she noted on Tuesday night, she simply did not believe that granting the hearing on the appeal would change anything, that the council had no way to discuss let alone compel the developer to build housing on the site.

I respectfully disagree somewhat here.

As both Will Arnold and Josh Chapman noted, there is a real procedural concern here that a member of the public can directly appeal a project and a councilmember has to recuse himself and get council approval.

And because there were only three members to decide to hear the project, it gave Councilmember Partida virtual veto power over whether to even hear the appeal.  Obviously that is a problematic process.

The problem is that because the site is zoned commercial, the property owners have the right to develop a project that adheres to current zoning and there is really little to nothing the city or city council can do about that.

Going forward, Partida and her colleagues have already talked about changing the zoning for commercial redevelopment projects to require a mixed-use component.

It is disappointing that Brixmor was not even willing to perhaps do a compromise and build the commercial component at the street, and the parking in the back, where a housing component might have been added at a later point when the construction market was more amenable to such a project.

Going forward the city is now in a fairly serious quandary.

The city now has a shortfall of 485 units of lower-income housing and 227 units of above-moderate housing.

Where are they going to find land inside the current city limits to accommodate that housing?  I was already skeptical of the city using about 1000 units in the downtown to meet some of the current housing requirements as well.  While there is a project moving forward on the site that is known as the Hibbert site, that would only amount to about one-quarter of the necessary units.

While the city does not have to have the units built in the current RHNA period that ends in just five years now, it does have to show that it is feasible.

The second portion of the housing discussion on Tuesday, at least in the short term, shut down another avenue.

The council also decided not to consider any of the Measure J projects for 2024.

Would that decision have been made knowing what we know now?

Bapu Vaitla, who just came onto the council in the last several months, noted, “I’m very very concerned about the revenue side of what’s happening in the city.”

As such he noted, “To me, in terms of the November 2024 ballot, that is my priority, to ensure that the fiscal needs that are unmet right now are met to carry out a community engagement process that’s robust, that’s authentic, that will culminate in a revenue measure, is gonna require a lot of staff time.”

Would that calculation have changed knowing that HCD has ruled the city is not in compliance with state housing laws?

Already, the council understood that in the longer term, in order to meet state housing requirements, they are going to have to go outside the current boundaries.

As Mayor Will Arnold warned, “This is a long-term process that we will be participating in that it will hopefully culminate in at least one of these passing and being built, and then another one, and then another one so that we can meet what I imagine will be our 2030 RHNA requirement that is going to require that we go outside of our current city boundaries to meet those numbers.”

There is a bigger implication here as well: what does this mean for Measure J itself?

Measure J is already on the radar of HCD as an impediment to housing.

Last fall they wrote, “Measure J poses a constraint to the development of housing by requiring voter approval of any land use designation change from agricultural, open space, or urban reserve land use to an urban use designation. Since the ordinance was enacted in March of 2000, four of the six proposed rezones have failed.”

The city responded, “While Measure J adds costs, extends processing times, and has been used to halt development projects that would convert agricultural land to urban development, it is only a constraint to meeting housing needs if the city lacks sufficient infill housing sites.”

The added, “Had DISC passed, the City would have substantially more units to help meet the sixth-cycle RHNA. The City will need to rezone additional sites to meet the RHNA…”

The city continued, “The City has identified sufficient candidate rezone sites within its limits to meet the RHNA, averting the need for a Measure J vote. In addition, adoption of the Downtown Davis Specific Plan will increase infill potential within the City by allowing for increased building heights and higher density development.”

Another Measure J vote has since failed since that letter was issue.  And now with the loss of the University Commons project, they might not have sufficient sites that are viable and project-ready in the city.

One of the big questions now is whether the state will come in and take on Measure J, ruling it an impermissible barrier to housing, or whether one of the project applicants who are in a holding pattern right now might initiate their own process.

The implications here are vast and we will now see how the city and the state responds.

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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47 Comments

  1. Ron Glick

    From yesterday:
    “For Will Arnold, he noted that Measure J elections are “flashpoints” and ’causes of schisms.’”
    “He said, ‘We see some of the scars of an election that was nearly 20 years ago that are still fresh today.’  He continued, ‘We have repeatedly over the last few years subjected the community to these battles.’”

    This is the big news that the fallout from the DISC election for Partida and Carson now has the current council cowed into not even considering a project. Will is correct that Measure J has torn this community apart politically and infused every aspect of our local politics with a level of acrimony that makes any attempt at finding solutions to the problems identified by large portions of the community unsolvable.

     

      1. Alan Pryor

        The simple solution is to put one of the big peripheral projects on the 2024 ballot. If passed, not only will the City end up meeting the requirements for housing imposed by the State but also reap far more in construction taxes than they could ever hope to obtain through a tax measure.

        The argument by the Shriners rep at the Council meeting that it could not be done in time because the EIR itself could take a year is nonsense. The EIR could be banged out in 6 mos max leaving 9 months to still run the project through the various commission hearings.

        But it appears that the Council wants to do a “Revenue” tax measure instead thinking that with engagement by the City/Staff they will convince the public that we should bite. That will be a hard sell when the public hears that they sat on a slew of development proposals so they could run the tax measure instead which measure would not even be necessary had a housing project been put onthe ballot which would otherwise kill two birds (housing and revenue) with one stone.

        1. David Greenwald

          I largely agree. I don’t understand why the council went the way they did. I also wonder if they would have done it differently had they known about the letter.

      2. Dave Hart

        Let’s hope and pray it comes to pass that the state kills Measure J.  I say that as someone who was a very enthusiastic supporter of it when it initially passed. I’m so done with the anti-everythingers.  All our efforts should be aimed at negotiating better projects with developers that can actually get built and let the “too much traffic” people find another way to get around town.

    1. Colin Walsh

      Blaming measure J for this acrimony is misplaced. It may actually be a little better than what happened before measure J with Mace Ranch and Wildhorse that were both put on the ballot through referendum and won on very narrow votes. It was the acrimony from those battles that led to the drafting of measure J to create a more manageable path to community dialog and approval than the referendum process. I will give add the caveat though that Dan Carson’s lawsuit was probably the lowest point of all of the 7 peripheral development elections.

    2. Georgina Valencia

      The question of what project proposal, if any, is to be considered for future development and how Measure J/R/D will play out prompts me to offer the following thoughts.

      First, there is a new state law called “Builders Remedy”.  This law is a provision of the Housing Accountability Act in California.  In order to trigger the Builder’s Remedy there must be 20% affordable housing to very low, low or moderate income households in the proposed project.  Doing so makes it possible for the builder to move forward with a project despite local zoning.

      In the California Planning and Development Report(CP & DR Vol. 38, No.3) I quote the following regarding Builders Remedy. “Developers in Southern California filed 26 builder’s remedy projects as of late January, allocating 1,795 of the 8,642 new homes as low- income housing, according to analysis by the Orange County Register. Builder’s remedy fast tracks projects as cities cannot deny a project with at least 20% low-income units, even if the plans do not align with the city’s general plan or zoning restrictions.”

      The next piece I offer is also from the CP&DR (same Volume).  “The builder’s remedy applies in 251 of the 539 state municipalities as none have a state-approved housing plan (Housing Element).”  It sounds like the city of Davis, as of April 4th, no longer has an approved Housing Element.  This fact open up the possibility of a “Builders Remedy” test for Davis.

      If I were one of the 4 project developers with applications into the city I might consider the possibility of Builder’s Remedy.  It could be far less time consuming and arbitrary than the yet to be developed beauty contest.  The Beauty contest I mention is a process, yet to be developed, to determine which one of the four developers will move forward to process their application.  If I were one or all four of the developers I might look to a way forward with “Builders Remedy”.

      Finally, the last point to consider is that “Builders Remedy” might be good for the Developer and the Community.  The Developer could use this new law to move their development forward without entering the beauty contest, as long as they built 20% low-income units, and the Community would get low income housing.  Sounds like a win win for Developers and the Community.  Oh, and possibly most important there would be no Measure J/R/D vote.

      Thank you for letting me share a few thoughts!

      1. Dave Hart

        It has been stated elsewhere that Davis has a bad reputation among builders.  Assuming that is true, does the builder’s remedy also allow it more leverage in getting a project completed through the city permitting processes?

         

        1. Keith Y Echols

            Assuming that is true, does the builder’s remedy also allow it more leverage in getting a project completed through the city permitting processes?

          The Builder’s Remedy BYPASSES the city permitting process.  As to weather or not it provides leverage for getting a project through the permitting process?….that would take some long term thinking by the city leaders and more importantly the unwashed masses about the consequences of not approving a project and how it will impact the city’s compliance with it’s RHNA numbers.

          In general, I do not believe the Builder’s Remedy has really generated all that much housing in California.  I keep hammering this point in my comments: Builders/Developers and Local Governments need to work together as partners.  Think about the Builder’s Remedy like telling on your sibling for not sharing a toy.  Mom and/or Dad step in and your sibling is forced to share with you.  But from then on that sibling bares you ill will and may decide to make trouble for you in the future.
          I just found this article as I typed up my answer.

          Local government and Builder/Developers need to work together as partners. You have to have confidence in your partners.  So I think a project may get to a certain point of no return (maybe option payments or a loan comes due…some x amount of money has to be spent) and gets hung up in local politics; that at some point the builder/developer will have no choice but to consider the Builder’s Remedy.  But in general I do not believe most builder/developers are going to want to enter into a project knowing that it’s being forced down the local’s throats through the builder’s remedy.

          In a survey of more than 30 cities, five have received Builder’s Remedy applications: San Jose, Mountain View, Los Altos Hills, Fairfax and Brentwood. If they move forward, the nine projects would total 1,203 units, of which 250 would be affordable.

          That’s a trickled compared to the deluge Southern California cities received, with 26 applications totaling more than 8,600 homes — almost 2,000 of them affordable.

          The difference, said UC Davis law professor Chris Elmendorf, is a growing reticence to use the law in the Bay Area. Developers are wary of potential legal challenges and worry a builder’s remedy project could sever important relationships with city officials they rely on to get other projects approved. Despite the slow uptick, housing advocates say the law is already doing its job by forcing cities to adopt housing plans that meet the state’s ambitious goal to build 2.5 million new homes and apartments by 2031.

          “There’s a lot of uncertainty for developers that makes most developers pretty reluctant to pull the trigger on a [builder’s remedy] project,” Elmendorf said. He added that even without the volume of applications seen in Southern California cities, “it has done an enormous amount of good.”
          https://www.kqed.org/news/11945744/california-building-boom-a-new-law-promised-big-but-has-yet-to-deliver-in-the-bay-area?fbclid=IwAR0vpi17DTjQNW5apbD7etQBJu0ZwqkZFHm8HIFep54WxRTkKHeo8qBgweg

          1. Don Shor

            From that article:

            Adam Mayberry, an architect in Davis, who is considering submitting a builder’s remedy proposal there, fears it could damage ties with the city officials he often works with.

            “[Developers] are essentially saying, I’m going to do something that most likely will get all my neighbors really mad, and they’re all going to complain to you, and you’re going to have to face all this undue stress because of something I’ve done,” Mayberry said. “I don’t want to be a middle finger.”

            Despite the potential repercussions, Mayberry still plans to submit a builder’s remedy application. He sees it as an important tool to combat opposition to housing. For too long, Mayberry said, cities were allowed to exert control over how much housing was built in their jurisdictions. But that housing was never built.

            “The state said you can have local control as long as [the city] meets the demands of the citizens, and they’re not meeting those demands,” he said. “So [the state is putting the control] in the hands of people who can make a difference in the housing shortage — developers, builders and architects like myself.”

        2. Walter Shwe

          Adam Mayberry, an architect in Davis, who is considering submitting a builder’s remedy proposal there

          I fully support Mr. Mayberry’s right under state law to use the builder’s remedy to bypass the idiotic objections of NIMBYs. Those NIMBYs and others [edited] should have opposed the builder’s remedy before it became law. Now it’s too late. Over and out.

        3. Keith Y Echols

          Interesting.  I didn’t fully read the article (it was late in the evening).  I’d say the larger the project; the less likely you’d want to fight the city.  If I’m building a duplex here or single home there; I probably wouldn’t care as much if I fought the city.  But if I have a large master planned community or say a large business complex with phases of residential that will take years to build and sell…and/or if I’m a large state wide or national builder….I’m not going to stick my neck out on the line unless I’m stuck in an existing project.  The larger the project the longer the marriage with the city.

          also, I didn’t realize I posted the same source of data about the housing element compliance.

        4. Ron Oertel

          I also support more developers implementing the “builder’s remedy”, but for different reasons than those espoused here.

          If these type of proposals actually pencil out and are pursued, the state is then responsible for the approval process and resulting impacts on cities.

          I suspect that state officials would ultimately be sorry regarding the authority and responsibility they’ve assumed.  The impacts would cause residents and local representatives throughout the state to become “fully-woke” regarding what their own state representatives have approved.

          Developers themselves don’t get a “pass” regarding how they’re viewed, but pursuing this would likely further damage their collective reputations. (So, I view that as yet another “positive” as a result of pursuing the builder’s remedy.)

          I can easily envision a wholesale rejection of what the state imposed. However, that reaction will take time to “develop” (pun intended).

          As I noted elsewhere on this page, those concerned about the negative impacts of growth and development (especially in a state with a declining population and economic environment) need to stop being constantly “afraid”.

  2. Don Shor

    I feel like we’re watching a train wreck in slow motion. This is not going to end well.

    The city will not be in compliance and will be open to a state challenge. As it stands right now, no project will go before the voters in time to remedy that. There is not enough infill available to remedy it. The demand for infill housing will undercut the city’s only remaining economic development options.

    If one of the peripheral projects is ready for the November 2024 ballot, the city should have staff focus on that and expedite it onto the ballot. Then the voters can have their say. A good project could pass and could remove the threat of state action against Davis. Informed voters can weigh that consideration, and the benefits or flaws of the proposed project, and vote accordingly.

    By the way, an interim appointment for District 3 might have led to a different outcome here.

    1. David Greenwald

      “I feel like we’re watching a train wreck in slow motion. This is not going to end well.”

      I was thinking of this analogy yesterday. Slow moving disasters are hard to stop because you don’t see the effects until it’s too late.

      1. Ron Glick

        The effects have been in plain sight for at least a decade and everyone knows them.  The failure to see them is more a product of cowardice on the part of our local leaders and political pundits who are afraid to speak the truth or take on the anti growth constituency that knows no bounds when it comes to attacking those who speak up.

  3. Ron Glick

    By the way, it will be interesting to see if the state moves against Davis as David seems to be predicting. However, I’m doubtful that the state will act quickly. The prospect of more housing in Davis in a reasonable amount of time through State action is doubtful.

    While David keeps taking about this being a consequential week for the future of Davis the reality is that for the next few years things are likely to remain the same, high real estate prices and rents, declining enrollment, degrading infrastructure, city understaffing of positions and longer commutes for UCD employees.

  4. Ron Oertel

    It would be better to post links to referenced documents, such as HCD’s letter.  (Especially if the Vanguard is going to quote from it.)

    As I recall, HCD previously noted that the city cannot “count on” Measure J proposals in advance of the vote, due to the fact that they cannot control the outcome.  As long as Measure J is in in place, this will never change.

    As such, the city (like most cities that are subject to these same rules) will have to plan for areas that they do control, rather than farmland outside of cities that the city does not control.

    Every urban limit line (or other “human-created impediment” to sprawl) throughout the state would be in jeopardy, if HCD suddenly starts forcing cities to annex land.

    Also left unaddressed are natural barriers, such as those which constrain the size of San Francisco. There is no indication from HCD that they “reduce” RHNA requirements based upon natural barriers. Nor have they reduced their requirements to account for the drop in population that San Francisco and some other locales have experienced.

    My guess is that the state is vulnerable regarding the methodology they used to create these requirements in the first place. (Note that the state auditor criticized this, as well.)

    Either way, I’m quite certain that development interests (and others) will continue to search for ways to undermine Measure J.  Attempts to create fear regarding this is not going to accomplish anything.

    The state is going to lose its war against an armada of cities that won’t, or can’t comply.  Especially during a housing, economic, and population downturn.

    1. Ron Oertel

      As such, the city (like most cities that are subject to these same rules) will have to plan for areas that they do control, rather than farmland outside of cities that the city does not control.

      Actually, that would be true of any farmland outside of any city.  Just as with University Mall, one cannot suddenly force owners to convert to a different use, to my knowledge. (If that was the case, the city could “force” homeowners to tear down their homes and replace them with apartment buildings.)

      And that would be true regarding the Measure J Affordable housing exemption, which would allow (but not “force” farms outside of city limits) to be converted to Affordable housing. But, those “farmers” could certainly pursue the Measure J exemption (in combination with Affordable housing developers, etc.). I would think that this could (also) include sale of the land itself, with the Affordable housing developer using public Affordable housing funds to accomplish that.

      Of course, development interests purchased “farms” surrounding Davis and other cities a long time ago.  These guys aren’t “Mr. Green Jeans”, so to speak. (And probably aren’t out there planting tomatoes, themselves.)

    2. David Greenwald

      “It would be better to post links to referenced documents, such as HCD’s letter. (Especially if the Vanguard is going to quote from it.)”

      I’ve gone back and forth on this and don’t have a set policy. Some publications do, some publications don’t One reason I don’t do it that often is that I haven’t noticed a large number of people accessing links or source material when we do provide them.

      In terms of the substance of your comment – I think you are underestimating the threat that this represents to the city. Assuming that the state’s efforts here are going to fail is not a viable path for the city unless it wants to get bogged down in litigation expenses that would be better spent elsewhere.

      The city is not in compliance with RHNA or state law. There are questions as to whether Measure J violates the 2005 state housing law. There are questions as to whether the city can meet the current housing requirements and the city has already stated that they can’t through infill.

      I don’t think your comments seriously address these issues. Certainly not from a responsible governance perspective.

      1. David Greenwald

        This was an interesting piece from NYT’s Ezra Klein – https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/02/opinion/democrats-liberalism.html

        This is right across the street from the courthouse in San Francisco, I watched it get built. They turned a small parking lot into a five story, 145 unit housing project for at-risk of homeless people. The point of the article was that they were able to get it done quick and cheap.

        Davis could address some of its housing needs through infill if the public were willing to accept dense infill projects. But whether it was Trackside (with the caveat that Trackside only had 27 units and I think unnecessarily antagonized the neighbors without addressing larger needs) or University Commons, or what we will likely see in the way of pushback on Brinley, it’s hard and expensive to do.

        Are people willing to put up with low income housing in their neighborhoods? Are they willing to have 10 to 16 story infill projects? Not from what I’ve seen.

        It was interesting that some of the same people who called in to ask the city not to hear the appeal on University Commons also called in to oppose moving forward on the Measure J projects.

        If you stop most housing – what are you expecting will happen? You seem to believe that the state will lose, but if the state loses, California is going to become even more unlivable. Davis too.

        For a long time, the only people in town who organized were either anti-growthers or developers, but I just got grabbed on the street by someone who is forming a citizens groups on housing. Didn’t see that even ten years ago.

        1. Ron Oertel

          If you stop most housing – what are you expecting will happen?

          Population stabilization.  (Actually, population loss has been occurring for the past 3 years, even WHILE the state continues to approve massive housing developments.)

          You seem to believe that the state will lose, but if the state loses, California is going to become even more unlivable. Davis too.

          You and I have probably a different definition of “unlivable”.

          It was interesting that some of the same people who called in to ask the city not to hear the appeal on University Commons also called in to oppose moving forward on the Measure J projects.

          I didn’t watch or participate, this time (and haven’t for awhile). But again, the city actually DID approve housing at University Mall – the developer backed out.

          I did not fully understand the objections of the neighbors in regard to what the city ultimately approved. It seemed to me that the mall property was relatively isolated from neighbors.

          But again, I think Davis is extremely fortunate to have a developer who wants to redevelop a commercial mall in the first place. Have you been following the news lately, regarding retail and commercial properties? That particular market is experiencing an unprecedented disaster – worse than the crash which started about 15 years ago.

      2. Richard_McCann

        But again, I think Davis is extremely fortunate to have a developer who wants to redevelop a commercial mall in the first place. Have you been following the news lately, regarding retail and commercial properties? That particular market is experiencing an unprecedented disaster – worse than the crash which started about 15 years ago.

        Ron, are you proposing that the City should be happy that a moribund commercial property will be continue to be a drag on the community, like County Fair Mall in Woodland? Unless these malls are redesigned as upscale venues with substantial pedestrian access, e.g., Valley Fair in Santa Clara, they will be an albatross with little tax revenue generation. We are unfortunate that Brixmor chose this unimaginative path in the face of a changing reality that even you acknowledge.

        1. Ron Oertel

          Richard:  I realize that you claim quite a bit of “expertise” in many, many fields, but do you also claim that you know more about the market than a developer putting their own money into their own property?

          I didn’t realize you also laid claim to being a retail redevelopment expert. I guess Davis should be “fortunate” to have someone like you, who claims so much expertise in so many fields, and is so willing to share their vast amount of psuedo-knowledge with others in so many ways.

          (Actually, in that way – you fit right in with the stereotype that some have of some Davis residents.)

          I am indeed “impressed” by your confidence. Can’t help but wonder if others are less-impressed. (It seems that Brixmor isn’t too impressed, if they even know who you are.)

      1. Ron Oertel

        How about some actual numbers?

        And are those approvals “pending” rezoning of land? Or have all of these other cities already rezoned that land to accommodate HCD’s demands?

        1. Ron Oertel

          Thanks.  So, 43% are out of compliance, including (I believe) 18 jurisdictions marked “due” (which I assume means they didn’t even bother to submit a plan by now).

          What exactly is causing Davis’ to be out of compliance?  Is it due to this single withdrawal of the University Mall proposal?

          Another question:  When the YIMBYs and their friends start reviewing and reporting on the “progress” on all of these plans, can “failure to build” cause these plans to revert to “out of compliance”?

      2. Matt Williams

        Don Shor said … Most cities are in compliance.

        Georgina Valencia said … The next piece I offer is also from the CP&DR (same Volume).  “The builder’s remedy applies in 251 of the 539 state municipalities as none have a state-approved housing plan (Housing Element).”

  5. Alan Hirsch

    Regardless of when city got the letter from state about short fall in affordable housing in city’s plan, with brixmore/University off the table, city staff should have anticipated this problem and flag this to council, planning commission and community in its staff memo.

    “There is no such thing as a crisis, it just the end of the illusion.”

    Reminds me of self-serving Illusion portayed in council re-election campaign when voters we were told by incumbents Carson and Partida they had “fixed” the short fall in road maintenance funding

    …Just two months city staff “discovered” this was not true.

  6. Ron Oertel

    Seems to me that a lot of cities are going to have “problems” if a developer doesn’t follow-through on a plan that the city is “counting on”.

    Even if the developer’s plans change AFTER HCD approves the housing element. At least, as long as someone (perhaps a YIMBY) “tells” the state that it occurred. And there’s a small army of YIMBYs probably doing just that. (Perhaps including UCD’s own Chris Emendorf?)

    For that matter, “who” told HCD that the University Mall developer was no longer pursuing housing? It seems unlikely that HCD is actively following minutiae throughout the state, without someone specifically “contacting” them.

    It should be hilarious to watch throughout the state.  At some point, the YIMBYs and their political friends are going to have to pick up a hammer, themselves.  Rather than trying to force others to build housing.

  7. Don Shor

    Some more background here:

    City website:

    “On April 3, 2023, the California Housing and Community Development Department provided a response letter to Version 2 of the adopted Housing Element.  Generally speaking, the revisions that were included in Version 2 were accepted by HCD.  There are only a few remaining comments that need to be addressed before HCD can certify the document.    The most complicated one involves the rezone of various sites throughout the city to provide opportunities for affordable housing (as identified in the element itself.)   The City views this letter as what we would classify as a “conditional approval letter,” meaning that once the items in the letter are completed, HCD will be able to certify the Housing Element.”

     From the state’s letter:

    “Pending/Approved Projects: In accordance with public comment received by HCD, it appears University Commons, a project set to develop 264 units of mixed-income housing will no longer have a residential component. The absence of residential units from this project would require the City to identify additional sites to accommodate a revised shortfall of 485 units of lowerincome housing and 227 units of above-moderate housing. The element must be revised to address this shortfall.”

    “Pursuant to Assembly Bill 1398 (Chapter 358, Statutes of 2021), a jurisdiction that failed to adopt a compliant housing element within one year from the statutory deadline cannot be found in compliance until rezones to accommodate a shortfall of sites … are completed. As this year has passed and Program 1.2 (Rezone Program) has not been completed, the housing element is out of compliance and will remain out of compliance until the rezoning have been completed.”

    https://documents.cityofdavis.org/Media/CommunityDevelopment/Documents/PDF/CDD/Advance-Planning/Housing%20Element%20Update%202021%20-%202029/HCD%20letter%20April%203%202023/HCD%20letter%20April%203%202023.pdf

    So they have to find and identify the sites and rezone them. Until then the city is out of compliance. 
    I suggest that a quick look at the remaining sites with an understanding of how dispersed they are, the number of different owners involved (who may or may not want a rezoning of their properties), and a simple timeline exercise will tell you that this will not happen in time.
     

    1. Ron Oertel

      As far as the Affordable component, the city “lost” 13 of them as a result of the withdrawal of University Commons.

      And another 13 of “moderate” income.

      This does not seem insurmountable.

      I suggest that a quick look at the remaining sites with an understanding of how dispersed they are, the number of different owners involved (who may or may not want a rezoning of their properties), and a simple timeline exercise will tell you that this will not happen in time.

      By May of next year – that was already the plan regarding the remainder.  It seems to me that it doesn’t “matter” what different owners want – statewide.

       

       

    2. Alan Pryor

      As I said above, the solution is to put a big peripheral housing-only project on the 2024 ballot. I think it would pass. The City gets the housing and the construction tax revenue which would likely far exceed any possible proceeds from a sales tax increase or a new utility tax increase they might be able to get by the electorate.

  8. Ron Glick

    I don’t think people who engaged in one of the all time sleaziest city council campaign gambits of all time, with the ramifications of the attack still reverberating throughout the community,  should expect that members of the CC will listen when they come back around to advise those who won that election.

    1. Ron Glick

      Okay that was harsh and I apologize. Maybe Charlie Brown and Lucy is more appropriate. After opposing and defeating numerous Measure J votes we hear the same voices of opposition now asking for a Measure J vote that the CC doesn’t want to engage in. I guess Will and Bapu are  smarter than to give you the opportunity to pull the football away from them again.

    2. Darell Dickey

      Honestly, when I first read this, the “people” I pictured was the councilmember who sued his constituents and then tried to run again. And the other council members who supported him and failed to censure him after campaigning during a council meeting. So the last bit confused me until I figured out the point you were trying to make.

      “I don’t think people who engaged in one of the all time sleaziest city council campaign gambits of all time”

  9. Ron Oertel

    I would think that the biggest threat to Measure J would be if the city “counted on” a Measure J proposal to adhere to HCD mandates, and the proposal failed. This would absolutely be the stupidest thing to do, by far.

    Development interests are going to continue coming after Measure J, even if voters approve another development based upon fear of losing Measure J.

    If you give your lunch money to bullies every day, they’re not going to be “appeased” if you only do so one time. This type of argument is essentially “civic blackmail”.

    These guys need to have their noses figuratively bloodied. But it’s not Davis which will lead that fight.

    Truth be told, it’s the economic and population downturn which will ensure that the state’s mandates fail – including for cities whose plans have been approved. (And again, have all of the cities with approved plans completed their rezoning?)

    Even the “builder’s remedy” doesn’t “pencil out” in this environment.

    Call their bluff – and back it up with committment, rather than fear. It’s better than kowtowing to them forever.

    “Ooh, we’re so afraid of losing Measure J that we should pretend it doesn’t exist – and just approve everything.”

  10. Todd Edelman

    * Polls say people want yards, etc. Sure, some do.
    * If Davis starts to aggressively develop downtown according to the ‘Plan, there will be more interest in Davis from people who like living in denser areas. This will stimulate the following…
    * The Council, Staff and Commissions should do everything they can to densify planned projects in South Davis (e.g. along Research Park) and consider annexing the small County area housing the mobile home park and then allow current residents to move back while densifying the whole site, with at least a small-letter goal for housing people with campus destinations there, as it’s a very short ride to campus by bike.
    * Build on large parking lots.
    * Living within close earshot of I-80 is a big drag – even if the vehicles smell less – which is a barrier for Research Park. At the very least there should more to sound-insulate the freeway – obviously as part of the current Caltrans project – and there should be nice and unique way to get to and from Downtown, e.g. an aerial tramway (from Galileo Ct to G St).
    * There is a HUGE piece of potential land within city borders… but right now it’s covered by I-80. It’s close to downtown and campus and the future higher-speed railway station. Make the State and Feds pay for its re-routing. REALLY. It’s both the biggest piece of concrete art and biggest environemental disaster in our city. Not mentioning it is like not talking about racism, or cigarette smoking, etc.

  11. Keith Y Echols

    I found this to be an interesting article that contrasts how Roseville’s attitude and approach towards housing differs from Davis.  The interview is with Mike Isom, Development Services Director for the city of Roseville.

    Question: Tell me about your organization and how it relates to California’s housing crisis.

    I think first and foremost, Roseville has been a pro-housing and development community. We’ve had city councils that recognize the need for growth, but doing so in an ORDERLY and COMPRENSIVE way. At our level, development services covers from a project’s inception to development and code enforcement. We’re focused on making the process as efficient as possible. Cities don’t build housing, so we ensure we build enough through our PARTNERSHIPS with private developers and builders.
    Question: What more can you tell us about these solutions and why they offer the most potential to solve the problem of housing affordability?
    I’ll just speak about Roseville, but a predictable, efficient process is key. You hear reports about projects that take two years to get civil improvement plans approved. We get it done in two months. Building permits get issued in days rather than months. Cut out the fluff in the permitting process. If you have a predictable process, builders can factor that in. If push comes to shove, they’ll choose Roseville.

    I’ve said for years that a significant (and vocal) part of the Davis community (and to a lesser extent it’s local government) takes an adversarial relationship with developers/builders.  I’ve said it’s one of the major factors in making Davis a real estate and economic development “no fly zone”.  Roseville takes more of a partnership approach to their relationship with developer/builders.

    1. Ron Oertel

       

      I found this to be an interesting article that contrasts how Roseville’s attitude and approach towards housing differs from Davis.  The interview is with Mike Isom, Development Services Director for the city of Roseville.

      In contrast, I find the following article even more interesting:

      ‘I’m not excited about the effects’: West Roseville residents share concerns about proposed business park

      https://www.abc10.com/article/news/local/west-roseville-residents-share-concerns-about-proposed-industrial-park/103-2d2b0605-53df-44a0-af1f-1456f01de24c

      Unfortunately, they’re wasting their time in the absence of something like Measure J. And in a place like Roseville, something like Measure J has zero chance of even being put on the ballot.

      One would think that the development activists would find enough “fertile ground” in the region regarding their advocacy. Or more accurately – fertile ground to be lost to sprawl.

      But what I’ve noticed (instead) is that any community which resists this is in the crosshairs. And the reason has nothing to do with Affordable housing.

  12. Walter Shwe

    Unfortunately, they’re wasting their time in the absence of something like Measure J. And in a place like Roseville, something like Measure J has zero chance of even being put on the ballot.
    One would think that the development activists would find enough “fertile ground” in the region regarding their advocacy. Or more accurately – fertile ground to be lost to sprawl.

    That’s for the residents of Roseville to decide, not for statewide NIMBYs like Ron Oertel to decide. Just maybe you should actually get off your butt and actually do something real instead of engaging in pointless arguments on 2 Davis-based websites. From now on, I will call Ron Oertel a MYOBY, Mind Your Own Backyard.

    1. Ron Oertel

      Just maybe you should actually get off your butt and actually do something real instead of engaging in pointless arguments on 2 Davis-based websites.

      Says the guy who has plenty of lazy comments on just one (e.g., “Republicans are bad” – something to that effect – repeatedly). That is, when you’re not carrying the Vanguard’s (and developers’) water for them. In which case, you’re on the side of the multi-millionaires (often time Republicans), regarding the latter.

      What a “progressive” you are.

      I do more than just comment on here, and plan to be involved in regard to the next battle as well. My guess is that you have no other involvement.

      But I am glad to see that you’re aware of the other blog – they’re talking about you on there. Mostly in regard to how little effort you actually put forth, in regard to the nonsense you spout.

      Your type of comments (as well as McCann’s) are not a good fit for the other blog.  The reason being that there’s a certain amount of decorum, on there.

      You and McCann are better-suited to slinging political mud, which has no place on the other blog. But at least McCann tries to make up arguments, at times.

    2. Ron Oertel

      That’s for the residents of Roseville to decide, not for statewide NIMBYs like Ron Oertel to decide.

      Normally, you’d be the one calling those Roseville residents “NIMBYs”, in regard to the article I put forth.

      Are you now claiming that you’re on the side of those whom you normally label “NIMBYs”?

      It is so easy to pick-apart what you put forth – to the point where much of the time I don’t even bother with it (and neither does anyone else).

      1. Walter Shwe

        Normally, you’d be the one calling those Roseville residents “NIMBYs”, in regard to the article I put forth.

        Are you now claiming that you’re on the side of those whom you normally label “NIMBYs”?

        Once again you are twisting my words to fit your narrative. I have been a housing advocate since long before this site existed. No one has ever paid me to be a housing advocate, therefore I am not holding anyone’s water.

        Is it true that you intend on destroying the Davis Vanguard because you don’t agree with David’s views? There doesn’t seem to be much going on that other site, so it’s not worth posting anything there.

  13. Walter Shwe

    Here is something interesting in today’s (7/31/23) Wall Street Journal. I can read the entire article because I subscribe to Apple News.

    Local Malls, Stuck in ‘Death Spiral,’ Plunge in Value

    Crystal Mall in Connecticut, worth $150 million in 2012, recently sold for $9.5 million.
    Older, low-end malls are worth at least 50% and in some cases more than 70% less than they were when mall valuations peaked in late 2016, said Vince Tibone, head of U.S. retail and industrial research for real-estate research firm Green Street.
    Now, as more than $14 billion of loans backed by these properties comes due in the next 12 months, according to Moody’s Analytics, struggling malls are defaulting on their debt. With mortgage rates up sharply, refinancing that debt will be more challenging and expensive.
    About a fifth of all malls financed through commercial mortgage-backed securities are underwater, meaning the properties are worth less than the loans they back, said Kevin Fagan, head of commercial real-estate economic analysis for Moody’s.

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