Village Farms Project Submitted, Attempting to Address an Acute Need for Family Housing in Davis

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Davis, CA – While the Davis City Council on Tuesday foreclosed on the notion of a Measure J project for the November 2024 ballot, the applicants working on the Village Farms Project (Pole Line and Covell, the site of the former Covell Village project) submitted their application with nearly 1400 units on 390 acres.

The goal of the project is “to provide affordable housing and attainable starter homes for young families and other new home buyers.”

The applicant is seeking to provide, “An assortment of housing types and sizes are proposed to address the community’s housing crisis, as well as a program that would contribute $25 to $30 million to an Affordable Housing Trust Fund assisting homebuyers in the future.”

In addition, “market-rate lots will also be available to small builders and individuals who desire the flexibility to design and contract the construction of their homes.”

In addition to housing, the project contains two parks including one designed to function “more like a community park and provide excellent access for the high-density residential uses.”

Greenbelts have been incorporated to provide safe walking and biking route for transportation and recreation. The project will complete the city’s bike loop.

The project proposes a new Fire Station “to address and improve public safety response time to north central Davis.”

The project also proposes to “preserve agricultural land northwest of the project site for agricultural mitigation and ground water recharge. The Applicant will permanently protect adjacent agricultural land and conserve it in partnership with the City of Davis Open Space Program.”

But the key feature of the project is to provide not only starter homes for first-time home buyers but also allow key move-ups for people to be able to move to larger homes.

One of the key concerns has been the decline of enrollment at DJUSD.  The Vanguard last week met with applicant John Whitcombe, a long-time resident of Davis who is alarmed by the decline of school-age children and families in the community.

“We’ve created an environment where the cost of housing is more than people can afford,” Whitcombe explained.

To address this problem, the school district has relied on out-of-district transfers—mainly from DJUSD and UC Davis employees—to stabilize enrollment.  But the city and school district has warned that this might not be enough.

Village Farms looks to address this problem by “building 210 homes that conform to the City’s Affordable Housing Program and 310 Starter Homes that would be available through the innovative Developer Contribution Program that effectively reduces the purchase price and will only require 5% down.”

In March, DJUSD presented the enrollment figures and challenges to the community.  The applicant is working closely with the school district to meet shared goals.

Matt Best, Superintendent, explained, “Our communities’ schools are a beacon for community life in Davis, and the beacon is diminishing as fewer and fewer families are able to live in Davis and attend our District’s schools.”

He added, “Without continued well-planned developments that provide housing for a broad range of potential residents, our city and District will continue to become a place where far fewer children and families reside..”

John Whitcombe explained to the Vanguard that over the 82 years he has lived in this community, he has seen a what he refers to as the “housing ladder” gone away.

At one point, people could buy a starting home, build equity and move up to larger homes.

“That ladder has just drifted away,” he explained.  “A mix of housing has not been really made available to people.”

John Whitcombe noted that Davis has a number of problems.  One is with the elections and the amount of time, money and energy to get anything approved.

But he also said, “It had problems in terms of really taking care of really low-income people as well.”

He noted that Davis lacks money in its affordable housing trust fund.

People, he explained, are “worried about students, young families, starter families, people moving to Davis, but people not being able to live in Davis whether they work for the city, the university or the school district.”

He said, “We have to find a way to build starter housing, even though in Davis, it is pretty hard to get done.”  He added, “We have to find a way to begin to put together a program where we can address, in a reasonable fashion all forms of housing.”

As he sat back and thought about how to create housing that is “competitive with surrounding areas,” he computed that for a 1000 square foot house on a small lot, in surrounding areas it was $500,000.  However, in Davis it was $600,000.

He felt that if he sold those houses for $500,000, “nobody would want to buy them because if they bought them, they had to sign something that said they’d never sell it for more than paid for it to keep them from selling it the next day and moving back to Woodland.”

So he came to a model of shared ownership.

He explained that his company would retain 15% and the buyer retains 85%.  15% comes to $90,000—so the company purchases $90,000 worth and the buyer is responsible for the other $510,000.

He said, “You can get a loan easily at 80% of the value of that, that’s 480,000. And what we’ll do with our share, which is $90,000, we’ll subordinate that to the loan. So it’s not part of your down payment. You only need a 5% down payment.”

So, he explained, people in Davis would be getting exactly what they’re getting in Woodland, plus they get the appreciation and “you’re in Davis now, so that’s why you do it.”

Moreover, the company would donate its share of the assets to the Davis Housing Trust Fund—for each of the 310 homes.

Once people purchase their starter homes, they can build their equity and move up and allow other people to occupy the starter homes.

“What I want to do here is build the ladder,” he said.

There will be another group of homes that are strictly market-rate homes.  That is about 900 lots.  These will be low-density homes at 3 to 6 units per gross acre.

But they will also have 150 units that are non-profit affordable, in an apartment complex.

Whitcombe explained that they have an agreement with HUD to do Section 8 housing where they will help subsidize three and four-bedroom units for families.

An additional community benefit is “proposed in the form of dual use of the mitigation land for both seasonal agricultural production and also as a Groundwater Recharge Pond to potentially benefit the current drainage capacity within the City’s H Street Pump station drainage shed.”

He said he believes that they can also solve some of the city’s water problems by utilizing mitigation and drainage land to the north of the project.

Whitcombe said, “It’s the cheapest way we can come and begin to mitigate the problems that we have in this community which are more serious than most people realize.”

The Project Planning Application for Village Farms Davis was submitted to the City of Davis on April 7, 2023. Before the project moves forward, the Davis City Council must authorize the processing of the Environmental Analysis (EIR), and it will be required to go to the Davis voters for approval.

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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66 Comments

  1. Alan Pryor

    What’s not mentioned in the article –

    1) Pre K/DayCare Center – In addition to the land for the emergency response facility/fire station and the building itself, Whitcombe is proposing donating land and a building to DJUSD for a Pre K/DayCare Center right in the middle of the project itself.

    2) Alleviation of Flooding Potential in North Davis – The use of the water features in the north portion of the project along with the potential to use the mitigation land to the north of the project as flood overflow basins could partially alleviate the need for a huge upgrade to the H. St stormwater pump station potentially saving the City $5 Million or more.

    3) Two Above-grade Crossings Over Poleline and Over the Train Tracks to F. St. – Subject to an agreement with Union Pacific (which can never be assumed), two above grade crossings are proposed: 1) Over Poleline on the northeast side landing somewhere near Nuggest Fields and 2) Over F. St landing on the northwest side landing somewhere near Julie Partansky Pond in Northstar Park.

    4) Bus Connectivity – The project is currently served by the dozens of bus connections per day on the most heavily-traveled public transit corridor in the City. There is currently Unitrans access to the high school, the University, and downtown and Yolobus access to Woodland and Sacramento as well as to the other YoloBus stops in Davis .

    The devil is in the details but if it all pans out as proposed, this sets a much higher bar for other peripheral development projects to emulate in the future.

    Many long time Davis politicos know I am not a fan of peripheral development. In fact, I’m often portrayed as a poster child for local anti-development, NIMBY sentiments. The last peripheral project that I endorsed (as did the Sierra Club) was the Wildhouse Ranch project in 2009. At the time, I supported that project because it was already surrounded on 3 sides by existing development, it had a mix of big-A subsidized low income housing and little-A lower-cost entry level homes for families and workers – all designed to be near zero net energy. I think this Whitcombe project has the “potential” to provide even more benefits to Davis.

    Also for full disclosure, I’ve known John Whitcombe for many years and he has always been friendly and gracious to me even though I helped lead the campaign against his earlier project at Nishi 1. I was not involved in the efforts to oppose Nishi 2. That said, IMHO, he is one of the most decent, honest, honorable, and generous people I know and has donated millions to local charities and teachers over many past decades. Also he pays to farm 2.5 acres at his North Davis Farms and has donated almost a half million pounds of fresh produce to Yolo Food Bank over the past 15 years. I wish all Davis developers were like him.

     

  2. Keith Y Echols

    So the simple folk will see this as YAY! Housing!

    A more objective and total understanding will show that this project is nothing more than a further drain on the city’s resources (it’s all residential), more traffic on F and Covell (I still hate the Cannery for adding traffic and a traffic light to Covell).  The project appears to be not much more than a bunch of smaller SINGLE FAMILY HOMES.  The only positive from this project is the $30M bribe that goes to Affordable Housing Fund and the bare ass minimum number of affordable homes.  That $30M for Affordable Housing is nice but it’s just a payout.  It’s like when cities approve projects because they need the development fees but then the cost of providing services in the long term become a drain on the city’s resources.

     “to provide affordable housing and attainable starter homes for young families and other new home buyers.”

    What a crock of sh@#$!  There is no such thing.  STARTER HOMES ARE EXISTING OLDER HOMES!  These are new homes, the cost per square foot will be HIGHER.  The target market are likely bay area workers moving to the area for jobs at new bio-tech companies and state government jobs  that want to live in Davis and their good schools and college town culture.

    There are a couple words that describe this:  GENTRIFICATION (which will contribute to housing unaffordability) and BEDROOM COMMUNITY (people live here, use resources, drive somewhere else to make money and spend it…and are basically a drain on the local economy).

    If you’re going to approve 1,100 MARKET RATE homes; shouldn’t you have a corresponding jump in local jobs or projected city tax revenue?  So if something like DISC (without the housing) was approved…well okay…then maybe some new homes would be warranted either next to DISC or somewhere else in the city.

    Better ways to approach this would be:  to have planned for a local neighborhood community (that included the Cannery) which would have included significant mixed use retail (and not not just single family homes).  We’d all (or most) would like to see the downtown area built up and everyone connected to it.  And while we should do what we can to integrate new peripheral development to the rest of the town; the next best thing is to create local neighborhoods (almost like mini-towns) where people can walk and ride their bikes, eat, drink and shop.  Imagine a small main street near a town square with few restaurants, a local pub, a coffee shop, laundromat, bodega and other misc stores….all with residential units built on top.  Sure the peripheral areas of this project would still be single family homes.  But the central part would be mixed use higher density housing.

     

    1. Alan Pryor

      If you’re going to approve 1,100 MARKET RATE homes; shouldn’t you have a corresponding jump in local jobs or projected city tax revenue?  So if something like DISC (without the housing) was approved…well okay…then maybe some new homes would be warranted either next to DISC or somewhere else in the city.

      Re: Jobs and Traffic – Actually, because of the University presence adding thousands and thousands of jobs (not to mention tens of thousands of students), there is a huge jobs: housing imbalance in Davis => way too many jobs with not enough housing. DISC exasperated that problem by only providing a fraction of the housing needed for the jobs that it “might” develop thus greatly increasing the increasing commuting traffic problem into Davis in the am and out of Davis in the pm. The DISC project would have generated huge traffic problems particularly along Mace Blvd. and the I-80 off- and on- ramps which was already hopelessly congested and the most traffic-impacted corridor in Davis.

      As I said before, however, the devil is in the details and we have to see what the traffic analysis shows as the project will almost certainly increase congestion on Covell. But it will hopefully be offset by an equivalent reduction of commuter traffic coming into Davis from Poleline, Hwy 113, and I-80. And by moving housing to the west along Covell (compared to the other peripheral projects), its location is better than the other proposed peripheral projects because it is nearer to the high school, university, and downtown and will have quite a bit better Unitrans and YoloBus access.

      1. Ron Oertel

        But it will hopefully be offset by an equivalent reduction of commuter traffic coming into Davis from Poleline, Hwy 113, and I-80. 

        They’re not going to stop building housing in other communities as a result of this (if approved).

        But more importantly, traffic from the development itself will be moving through town to reach all other locations, including local freeways.

        Not to mention the traffic moving up/down Road 102, to reach I-5, CostCo, etc.

        What this does is to increase the population/size/impact in the entire area.

    2. Alan Pryor

      The only positive from this project is the $30M bribe that goes to Affordable Housing Fund and the bare ass minimum number of affordable homes.

      Of course the $30M is a bribe! But it is one hell of a bribe, eh? And isn’t it better that Whitcombe is willing to pay this bribe by dedicating it to the Housing Trust Fund for future low income housing needs in Davis than directing it instead to the City’s General Fund coffers. We all know that in that later case it would be completely gobbled up for excessive City employee compensation and $2,000,000 fire ladder trucks that we never needed. At least this $25 M to $30 M goes into a Trust Fund that must be used for low income construction or maintenance.

      Having said that, I would much prefer that a really well-run non-profit organization like Mutual Housing or Davis Community Meals get that equity money when a house is sold rather than directing it to the Housing Trust Fund because those non-profits have a far better track record of providing low income services to Davis. The Housing Trust Fund never seems to get anything done right in any reasonable amount of time (witness Pacifico in South Davis).

       

    3. Tim Keller

      Better ways to approach this would be:  to have planned for a local neighborhood community (that included the Cannery) which would have included significant mixed use retail (and not not just single family homes).  We’d all (or most) would like to see the downtown area built up and everyone connected to it.  And while we should do what we can to integrate new peripheral development to the rest of the town; the next best thing is to create local neighborhoods (almost like mini-towns) where people can walk and ride their bikes, eat, drink and shop.  Imagine a small main street near a town square with few restaurants, a local pub, a coffee shop, laundromat, bodega and other misc stores….all with residential units built on top.  Sure the peripheral areas of this project would still be single family homes.  But the central part would be mixed use higher density housing.

      I 100% agree.

      1. Don Shor

        And while we should do what we can to integrate new peripheral development to the rest of the town; the next best thing is to create local neighborhoods (almost like mini-towns) where people can walk and ride their bikes, eat, drink and shop.

        There is a neighborhood shopping center literally right across the street from this site which provides all of those things. Add housing and it might attract more retailers. With a solid customer base, that shopping center will provide more revenues for the city.

  3. Ron Oertel

    I respect Alan P (and some of the arguments he puts forth), but I’ll be fighting a 400-acre “Covell Village, Part II”.

    This is prime, highly-visible farmland and losing it would create both an eyesore and a traffic nightmare.  It’s already that way, a lot of which is due to traffic from Spring Lake.

    But that’s not the cause of “all” traffic on the Road 102 corridor.  Some use it to access I-5, CostCo, etc.  (On a Friday afternoon, one can really see the traffic backing up at that I-5 access point.)

    Davis has no “workforce” to speak of (which would justify a 400-acre development), doesn’t need another fire station (which would then need to be funded/staffed), and doesn’t need space for a daycare (since there supposedly are “no children” in Davis in the first place).  (Certainly not a lot in that area, now.)

    I see that the same, tired argument is being put forth regarding schools.  In any case, where would these kids be commuting to?  Which school(s)?

    Hopefully, folks at The Cannery will be opposed to this.

    Personally, I don’t care how “nice” John Whitcomb may be – I care about the impacts of proposals.

    So, he explained, people in Davis would be getting exactly what they’re getting in Woodland, plus they get the appreciation and “you’re in Davis now, so that’s why you do it.”

    In a rising market, housing prices rise faster in Woodland than they do in Davis.  (And the reverse is true, in a declining market.)

    Bottom line is that you’re not going be building equity any faster in Davis than anywhere else in the area. And by the way, isn’t “building equity” (unrealized profit) the “problem” in the first place?

    Once people purchase their starter homes, they can build their equity and move up and allow other people to occupy the starter homes.

    What’s to keep the new “homeowners” from living in their houses for a couple of years, and then renting them out?  (Not that renting out homes is a “bad” thing – as it still provides housing to renters, but doesn’t this undermine the so-called “building equity” claim?)

    As he sat back and thought about how to create housing that is “competitive with surrounding areas,” he computed that for a 1000 square foot house on a small lot, in surrounding areas it was $500,000. However, in Davis it was $600,000.

    But for a $100,000 difference (which you then wouldn’t “keep” – due to the proposed program) I’d select “neither”. Again, that $100,000 wouldn’t belong to the homeowner.

    I’d buy a “pre-owned” house, instead.

    Families generally don’t choose a 1,000 square foot house in either location.

      1. Ron Oertel

        Of course, UCD employment is not part of the city’s workforce.

        But now that you mention it, this proposal (also) isn’t very close to UCD.

        Is UCD in the process of hiring a lot more employees?  If not, then a new 400-acre development on the other side of town isn’t needed for them in the first place.

        By the way, wasn’t UCD planning to build more housing for its own employees (in addition to housing for students)?

        You know what is an easy commute to/from UCD?  The 1,600 housing units they’re going to build at the Woodland technology park. Straight shot down Highway 113, without even going through Davis itself.

        1. Alan Pryor

          But now that you mention it, this proposal (also) isn’t very close to UCD.

          It sure has better access and is closer than any of the other proposed peripheral projects east on Covell.

          In a perfect world, new peripheral projects in Davis would be in the nothwest quadrant of the City along Covell which is a little closer to UC, on substantially poorer soil, and has fewer traffic impacts. But after those locations,  this is by-far the best location being already bounded on 3 sides by the City. If any of the property owners in the Northwest quadrant put any type of proposal together that came anywhere close to offering what Village Homes was offering, I would prefer that. But there has not even been a whisper of that happening.

          1. David Greenwald

            There was the inkling of a project in NW, but I think the developer ended up having to drop it for now.

        2. Alan Pryor

          You know what is an easy commute to/from UCD?  The 1,600 housing units they’re going to build at the Woodland technology park. Straight shot down Highway 113, without even going through Davis itself.

          For sure it is certainly the easiest out-of-town commute for UC employees and students. Albeit it’s a far shorter commute than from east of the Causeway. But it is still an out-of-town commute with all of the attendent traffic and pollution problems. At Village Farms they can actually bike or ride a bus to UC and eliminate the car trip. And by living here and shopping here, we capture the local sales tax revenue.

        3. Ron Oertel

          Alan:  It’s not an “either/or” choice.

          They WILL build the 1,600 housing units at the technology park in Woodland – regardless of whether or not Covell Village II is approved.

          The only “choice” that Davis has is, do you want the impacts of “both” of them, rather than “one” of them.

          It’s a similar situation regarding any proposal in Davis – whether it’s DISC (I, II, III . . .), Covell Village II, etc.

          For example, Spring Lake was already underway prior to the previous vote on Covell Village “I”. Again, the only “option” that Davis was provided was whether or not you wanted the impacts of “both” of them.

          Not to worry, though – you’re now advocating for the impacts of “both” of them (or “all three of them”, if you count Spring Lake, the Woodland Technology park and its 1,600 housing units, and Covell Village II).

          It’s never “too late” to do so, apparently. 🙂

          Kind of interesting that even the Covell Village property has signs advertising Spring Lake, at the corner of 102 and Covell.

      2. Keith Y Echols

        Look at it from a fiscal standpoint.  UCD and most things attached do not have taxable revenue. UCD does not directly provide tax revenue for the city and the city’s meager retail offerings make it difficult to capture sales tax revenue for anything other than purchases at Target and beer/burgers/burritos spending.

        I’ll say again: first jobs and retail THEN housing.

        1. Don Shor

          I’ll say again: first jobs and retail THEN housing.

          When Chancellor Katehi announced the 2020 Initiative, most people focused on the 5 – 6,000 increase in student enrollment. But there was a concomitant increase in staff and faculty of 3,000 new jobs/people for the area. No, Davis has no obligation to provide housing for those staff, but neither does UCD. And UCD’s attempt at providing some of that housing staggered along and pretty much fizzled out.
          The consequence of this increase in local jobs without sufficient increase in local housing supply should be obvious.
          So, to answer your point, the jobs (“first jobs”) have already been created. “THEN housing” hasn’t been adequate to cover that.
          People who own housing in Spring Lake will likely be disappointed that their increase in equity will slow if this project is built.

        2. Keith Y Echols

          Don,
          You don’t appear to refute my comments about the fiscal impact of providing services to new residential units  without better capturing business and sales tax.  But you appear to tefute my conclusion.  Would you better explain yor reply to me?

        3. Mark West

          “I’ll say again: first jobs and retail THEN housing.”

          You haven’t lived here very long. Your comment ignores that we have had decades of job growth (in town, on campus and surrounding area) with little to no housing development. The jobs have already be created, it is the housing that is missing.

          As for the retail, we gave up on that option back in the 60’s, when the City decided that protecting the property values of downtown property owners was more important than building a vibrant retail environment. When you develop a Time Machine to change that poor decision, let us all know.

        4. Tim Keller

          The jobs are already here, we need the housing.

          I work with a lot of tech companies and most of them are staffed with young professionals, most davis grads, and more than half live in woodland, Dixon or Sac.

          I call this our “intellectual diaspora”… people who would absolutley love to live in davis, because their jobs, their culture their friends, sometimes their church and community… ALL still continue to be centered on Davis.

          Saying that we dont have the jobs to require housing is just incorrect… But I do agree with the notion that we need to be less shy about increasing retail.

        5. Keith Y Echols

          The jobs are already here, we need the housing.

          So you can show me job growth INSIDE the city of Davis as well as sales and business tax revenue growth (or significant projected growth)?  If so, then I will change my opinion.  Remember that all those jobs from UCD do not count in terms of direct tax revenue for the city.  And there isn’t a significant retail offering to capture enough sales tax to at least make residential housing revenue neutral for the city.

        6. Mark West

          “Remember that all those jobs from UCD do not count in terms of direct tax revenue for the city.”

          You are correct, but you must remember that when a City resident works at UCD they have a limited commute (less traffic) and they tend to spend at least some of their income in Davis. Someone commuting from outside of Davis to the UCD job will drive further and tend to spend their money in their own home town. The City generally gains revenues when a resident works on campus, but gains little to nothing from the commuters. That means that jobs on campus do have a positive impact on City revenues, though admittedly, not as much as a job in the City. In the past two decades, UCD has continued to grow at a rapid pace (students, faculty and staff) while  Davis failed to build any appreciable housing (of any sort). In that same period, numerous new business were opened in the City, including (among others) some research/development companies along second street and two decent sized hotels (with 12% Transient Occupancy Tax). To say that we haven’t had job growth/City revenue growth during those two decades is nonsensical. If you want details, ask the City.

        7. Keith Y Echols

          Someone commuting from outside of Davis to the UCD job will drive further and tend to spend their money in their own home town. The City generally gains revenues when a resident works on campus, but gains little to nothing from the commuters. 

          There’s not much to spend money on in Davis (how many trips to Target can you make?  How many burritos, beer and burgers can you buy?).  That’s why I advocate for more retail growth and development.  So no, UCD employees (or anyone else) here in Davis do not generate enough tax revenue to justify residential expansion.   Commuters cost the city little in residential services.  Why can’t I hammer this fact into people’s heads?  I’ve said it enough times.  PEOPLE LIVING IN A CITY COST THAT CITY BECAUSE OF SERVICES AND MAINTENANCE.  Many cities hope to recoup that through sales tax.  But Davis’ retail offerings don’t do that because they’re so meager and there’s so little of it.

          To say that we haven’t had job growth/City revenue growth during those two decades is nonsensical. 

          What in the heck are you talking about???  What do I care about the last 2 decades?  I care about PROJECTED job growth and tax revenue and possibly recent data.  Davis’ piddly job and economic growth compared to the rest of the region is pathetic.

           

        8. Mark West

          “What do I care about the last 2 decades?”

          You said you wanted jobs first, then housing. So I pointed out that we have had two decades of jobs first without any new housing, so now you say that you don’t care. Sounds like you are sticking with your opinion regardless of the facts. Very Oertelian of you.

        9. Tim Keller

          So you can show me job growth INSIDE the city of Davis as well as sales and business tax revenue growth (or significant projected growth)?  If so, then I will change my opinion.  Remember that all those jobs from UCD do not count in terms of direct tax revenue for the city.  And there isn’t a significant retail offering to capture enough sales tax to at least make residential housing revenue neutral for the city.

           

          All I can do is convey what I experience everyday and know to be true from working with these people.

          That said, there IS a way to quantify all of this – which would be with a survey of GPS data from everyone’s cell phones.   That data is avaliable to purchase and there are firms which specilize in analysing it.

          I have long thought that such a survey really should be priority 1 in our development debate because without some kind of quantification we are all just guessing on “what the city needs”

          If we had some idea of how many people are commuting here everyday, we could develop a target for EXACTLY how much more housing we need to provide.

        10. Ron Oertel

          If we had some idea of how many people are commuting here everyday, we could develop a target for EXACTLY how much more housing we need to provide.

          It would do no such thing, as only an unknown fraction would move to Davis if more housing was built.  They would compare it to whatever they’re getting for their money now, the desires/workplaces of other people in their households, etc.

          Most people are probably commuting to UCD, not Davis.  And it’s an easy commute from southern Woodland in particluar.

          For that matter, many Davisites commute to Sacramento and elsewhere.  (I am quite familiar with this, myself.)  And yet, the issue of “building more housing” for Davisites in Sacramento never comes up.  Why is that, do you suppose?

          Same is likely true for bedroom communities like Roseville and Elk Grove – plenty of housing, but those residents likely work elsewhere (by choice). For that matter, only one person at my former employer in downtown Sacramento lived anywhere nearby. (Out of an office of consisting of about a dozen workers.)

          No one (and I repeat no one) has put forth any numbers regarding any of this (e.g., job growth in Davis, job growth at UCD, number of housing units recently built in Davis or nearby locales, etc.).  Either in the past, or going forward for that matter.

          If there was a housing shortage, developers would be building a lot faster in nearby communities.  And yet (if anything), they’re likely slowing down on their plans due to rising interest rates, economic downturn, etc.

          This entire claim couldn’t possibly be any more of a red herring.

          For that matter, telecommuting has had an enormous impact on the ability to work from home. This has also led to increased demand for larger houses, not postage-sized expensive ones in Davis.

          I say it’s time to dust-off the fake claims regarding increasing diversity, or some other nonsense in support of sprawl. Or, trot out the tired argument equating school quality with school district size.

        11. Ron Oertel

          And by the way, why is it that the “housing shortage people” were the same ones advocating to create a housing shortage in the form of DISC?

          Sort of throws a monkey-wrench into the entire claim regarding “slow-growthers” creating a housing shortage, doesn’t it.

          The development activists need to stop shooting themselves in the foot, to have any credibility at all. But too late, now.

        12. Keith Y Echols

           So I pointed out that we have had two decades of jobs first without any new housing, so now you say that you don’t care.  Sounds like you are sticking with your opinion regardless of the facts. Very Oertelian of you.

          Okay…I’ve tried to be polite and humor you as I often do with many here who don’t understand real estate development, urban planning and economic development.  There are few here that I even consider worthy of conversation….the rest…I hope to teach them something…or to amuse myself with them.  So unless you have more than my 20+ years of real estate and urban planning experience, you can guess what I think of your opinion. I wouldn’t think to dictate to you about neuroscience (though I think it would be a fascinating discussion as I worked for a head injury facility almost 3 decades ago and I took some undergraduate bio-psych classes in college).

          As for facts.  Davis has approved 1,000s of units over the past two decades.  Yet none of it’s new businesses (Schilling Robotics…or even Target) can crack the top ten employers in Davis with #10 (the Davis CoOp) coming in at a whopping 120 employees.  So uh…yeah tell me more about prioritizing jobs over housing?

          There was a guy that ran for city council some years ago.  He said:

          We need to address our fiscal challenge through economic development and serious City cost containment. That means expanding our commercial and retail sectors, creating private sector jobs and business opportunities for our residents, improving the economic vitality of the region and expanding the tax base supporting City services. It also means finding more cost effective means of providing the services that residents require without cutting those services or creating a culture of austerity. Tax increases will likely be required, especially in the short-term, but they should be the last step in the process, not the first option.

          This guy seemed to understand that city fiscal health was important.  I don’t know how he magically thought he could more cost effectively improve services.  But he seemed to think adding taxes was a last resort….which the current city council seems to be taking the opposite approach.  But then I think it highlights how desperate and how necessary fixing the city’s finances is right now.  That means revenue generation.  Taxes are the quickest revenue generation.  Next is more jobs and retail growth.  HOUSING IS A COST TO THE CITY.

        13. Keith Y Echols

          That said, there IS a way to quantify all of this – which would be with a survey of GPS data from everyone’s cell phones.   That data is avaliable to purchase and there are firms which specilize in analysing it.

          I thought Matt Williams had some sort of data like that.  I think it showed how Davis was becoming a bedroom community.  That indicates how much more important it is for Davis to expand it’s retail (to better capture it’s resident’s sales tax generation) and business/job growth.

          1. David Greenwald

            If people can’t afford to live here, this is going to become Carmel – without the sea.

        14. Keith Y Echols

          If people can’t afford to live here, this is going to become Carmel – without the sea.

          I don’t oppose housing all together.  I just want to get the city’s financial house in order first (remember HOUSING IS A COST TO CITIES.  At least have some way to pay for it).  It appears that the city council thinks similarly….though their answer is a more immediate one with proposed taxes.  As for Davis becoming Carmel? Carmel has a nice small tourist industry to live off of.  How about becoming Palo Alto?  A big university next to it, companies being formed and some staying and a significant enough retail to capture sales tax from it’s existing community.

          Again, I’m not against housing completely.  I think there needs to be a reason for the city to encourage for profit housing….especially single family housing (and there are reasons…but they have to be made).  And building more for profit housing is going to do nothing for housing affordability.  It’s just going to make it worse.  So affordability isn’t really a reason to build more homes.

    1. Alan Pryor

      Families generally don’t choose a 1,000 square foot house in either location.

      I bet they would if they could. The problem is there are no 800 – 1,200 sq ft homes available to buy in Davis. I live in a 1,100 sq ft home in Davis (bought in 1989) and my two kids went to Davis High School while living here. My wife and I could never have afforded the 1,800 – 2,800 sq ft homes that were otherwise available in the newer subdivissions at the time.

      1. Ron Oertel

        Alan:  The “problem” is that families generally don’t select that anymore.  And when other communities provide it, that’s what they’ll select.

        In any case, Chiles Ranch is likely going to provide about 100 of those type of smaller houses.

        Of course, I’d argue that Davis doesn’t need more “families” in the first place, other than those moving into the already-substantial supply of existing housing that turns over. All housing eventually turns over – including yours and mine.

        Sometimes, this doesn’t occur until wer’re “turning over” underground – but it does eventually occur (guaranteed).

    2. Alan Pryor

      But for a $100,000 difference (which you then wouldn’t “keep” – due to the proposed program) I’d select “neither”. Again, that $100,000 wouldn’t belong to the homeowner. I’d buy a “pre-owned” house, instead.

      Of course the new buyer would not “keep” the $90,000 to $100,000 equite that Witcombe put up as a down payment for the home. By allowing that, you would encourage rampant speculation by buyers intentionally trying to buy the homes and then flip them for the quick $100,000 profit they would make. But by Whitcombe putting up the $100,000 as a contribution to the down payment, it allows many, many buyers to get in for a 5% downpayment (instead of 20%) thus opening the door to a whole class of middle-income people who could come up with $30,000 for a 5% down payment but could not otherwise muster the extra $100,000 needed to  come up with a 20% down payment.

      And recognize that Whitcombe does not get back the $90,000 to $100,000 that is putting up as the partial 15% down payment. It all goes toward future low income housing in Davis when the property is sold along with 15% +/- of any equity appreciation. But the homeowner gets back his 5% down payment, any amount of the mortgage on the home they have paid off, and all of the money from 85% of the equity appreciation in the home from the time the home is bought until the time the home is sold. I don’t think there has ever been a program like this put together ANYWHERE to stimulate housing availability to moderate income buyers. It is truly unique and VERY generous on Whitcombe’s part.

       

    3. Walter Shwe

      This is prime, highly-visible farmland and losing it would create both an eyesore and a traffic nightmare.

      Do you consider your home and neighborhood eyesores Ron? Many of the existing homes in Davis and Woodland I highly suspect were once farmland.

      Davis has no “workforce” to speak of (which would justify a 400-acre development)

      I don’t believe that the vast majority of UC Davis employees live on campus. That’s the case at Woodland Community College as well. Sutter Davis Hospital and the University Retirement Center are also major Davis employers. The Hospital is growing as we speak.

      In addition to housing, the project contains two parks including one designed to function “more like a community park and provide excellent access for the high-density residential uses.”

      Greenbelts have been incorporated to provide safe walking and biking route for transportation and recreation. The project will complete the city’s bike loop.

      This proposal includes other forms of development besides housing.

    4. Walter Shwe

      I’ll be fighting a 400-acre “Covell Village, Part II

      The only means you have to ‘fight” this proposal in on sites like this and with people you know in Davis because you are completely ineligible to vote.

      1. Alan Pryor

        The only means you have to ‘fight” this proposal in on sites like this and with people you know in Davis because you are completely ineligible to vote.

        Let’s knock-off the constant pounding on Ron Oertel because he doesn’t “live” in Davis anymore. He lived here for many, many years and really cares about the community and environmental issues in Davis and the region. He is a current property owner in Davis (which he rents out) which makes him as much a part of the community as any other property owner in Davis who lives elsewhere now (including our erstwhile moderator Don Shor).

        I know Ron well and have often worked with him on campaigns in Davis. Sometimes he is right (when he agrees with me!) and sometimes we beg to differ (like now). But he always articulates his arguments well and brings thoughts not raised by others. Trying to always denigrate him with cheap shots saying since he doesn’t live here now (he currently resides in Woodland as do a lot of former Davisites) he does not get to speak his peace lowers the quality of the discourse on this blog.

         

        1. Walter Shwe

          Let’s knock-off the constant pounding on Ron Oertel because he doesn’t “live” in Davis anymore.

          I don’t care who what both Alan and Ron think. What I said was absolutely true.

        2. Walter Shwe

          Does Alan Pryor approve of what Ron Oertel specifically said about me in one of his previous comments?

          Also, there is a residential address which appears to be just outside of Davis city limits in a house worth almost $1.5 million. Some sources state that you currently live there, while other sources show that it is a former address.

  4. Ron Oertel

    So, he explained, people in Davis would be getting exactly what they’re getting in Woodland, plus they get the appreciation and “you’re in Davis now, so that’s why you do it.”

    Again, they generally don’t build 1,000 square foot houses in Woodland, nor is this what most “families” want.  I’ve seen what they want – and it’s more square footage, 2-3 car garages, yards, etc.

    And again, you absolutely do NOT get any more appreciation, since you’re not keeping the $100,000 (or the “profit” derived thereof) from the program described in this proposal.

    If anything, the complexities of this proposal would encourage anyone wanting to make a “profit” from selling their house to look elsewhere.

    (With the exception of possibly permanently renting them out, after a couple of years. In fact, it sounds like this program would encourage that. The reason being that the homeowner would get the “profit” from the $100,000 equity (and profit) that they will never “own”.

    If you “really” want to save money (and get a lot of “bang for your buck”), but a “pre-owned” house in Woodland. (Or Davis, for that matter.) I’d say that the best/safest move of all is a pre-owned house in Daviis.

  5. Ron Oertel

    Of course the new buyer would not “keep” the $90,000 to $100,000 equite that Witcombe put up as a down payment for the home.

    Nor would they keep any “net profit” from that, if the house rose in value.

    By allowing that, you would encourage rampant speculation by buyers intentionally trying to buy the homes and then flip them for the quick $100,000 profit they would make.

    Like I said, they might rent them out (permanently) after a couple of years.  This does provide housing for renters, but (in this case) it would be partially-funded by the $100,000 in value that doesn’t belong to the homeowners.

    But by Whitcombe putting up the $100,000 as a contribution to the down payment, it allows many, many buyers to get in for a 5% downpayment (instead of 20%) thus opening the door to a whole class of middle-income people who could come up with $30,000 for a 5% down payment but could not otherwise muster the extra $100,000 needed to  come up with a 20% down payment.

    In my opinion, these folks would be better-off not screwing-around with something like this (if they’re planning to sell at some point). That way, they’d keep the entire “profit”, and wouldn’t “scare-off” any buyers who don’t want to deal with a program like this.

    But let me ask a question:  How many of these type of folks are there, given that there are virtually no “local workers” in this position?  And certainly no planned “increase” in that number?

    This isn’t to say that there’s no “market demand” for it – that’s a different question.

    And recognize that Whitcombe does not get back the $90,000 to $100,000 that is putting up as the partial 15% down payment. It all goes toward future low income housing in Davis when the property is sold along with 15% +/- of any equity appreciation. But the homeowner gets back his 5% down payment, any amount of the mortgage on the home they have paid off, and all of the money from 85% of the equity appreciation in the home from the time the home is bought until the time the home is sold.

    Just noting that much of this depends upon future appreciation (sufficient to cover real estate transaction costs).  Presumably, those costs would also be divided between the two “owners”.

    Again, this program seems to encourage new owners to rent-out their property in the future, rather than sell it.  They’d gain the benefit of renting out the full value of their property (including the portion that isn’t owned by them), rather than (only) the portion they’d receive by selling it.

    It does sound like a good deal for anyone who wants to rent out their property in the future. (Which also allows them to avoid real estate transaction costs, etc.)

    1. Alan Pryor

      How many of these type of folks are there, given that there are virtually no “local workers” in this position?  And certainly no planned “increase” in that number?

      Huh? How about teachers and City employees and new profs and Staff at UCD…and UCD is still growing.

      You are creating a circular argument saying that there is no demand for these price-point homes in Davis but in the next paragraph you say that there is a pent-up demand for these homes resulting in many new homes being built in Dixon and Woodland.

      1. Ron Oertel

        How many of these type of folks are there, given that there are virtually no “local workers” in this position?  And certainly no planned “increase” in that number?
        Huh? How about teachers and City employees and new profs and Staff at UCD…and UCD is still growing.

        DJUSD has “too many” teachers and staff in the first place.  In my opinion, some of those associated with the school district are “Public Enemy #1, in regard to continued push for sprawl. These people should be ashamed of themselves, and yet they never are.

        DJUSD needs to “downsize” in the first place.  This isn’t really an opinion, so much as it is a fact.

        Put forth some numbers regarding “new professors and staff” at UCD, as well as the numbers they’re planning to house on campus (or at the “Woodland technology park”, and its 1,600 housing units).

        There is literally no market-rate housing shortage. As in “none”.

        You are creating a circular argument saying that there is no demand for these price-point homes in Davis but in the next paragraph you say that there is a pent-up demand for these homes resulting in many new homes being built in Dixon and Woodland.

        Those mofos are going to build whatever they can make a profit at, and whatever their like-minded officials will allow.  Whatever Davis does won’t stop it, and would simply add “more”.

        Seriously – it’s already “planned for” (despite a declining statewide population).

  6. Tim Keller

    While it makes all the sense in the world, to me to develop this parcel into housing, Im simultaneously dissapointed to see the vision for it laid out in this way.

    The single family housing paradigm has FAILED.  especially R1 type all-housing zoning.  All modern city planners agree on this fact.  Yet here we see nothing but an extension of that failed paradigm.

    I know that when people have seen one, and only one type of development in this state, that the “easiest” thing is to just extend that paradigm… but the problem is that once you develop a site a certain way, it is a hard thing to re-do it the right way.

    Maybe there can be some single-family housing at the back of this development,   but the kind of housing that REALLY moves the needle in terms of affordability, and fiscal sustainability is high-density multi-family… Condo’s, apartments, and townhomes… the taller the better.

    When you get density, you ALSO make transit much more practical… and if we want this development to be something that provides houses for displaced locals ( and not people fleeing the bay area like the cannery)  Then the way you do that is to build transit-focused housing and not car-dependent suburbs, which is exactly what I’m seeing here.

    This is the right place to build… Im 100% on board with developing this location… but the design layout, and housing types are all wrong.   I really hope Mr Whitcomb is open to discussing the design with neighborhood and local groups who are just now forming to address these issues, because if we can be more modern with the design of this neighborhood we can get a LOT more bang for the buck, AND he will likely make more money.

    1. Don Shor

      The single family housing paradigm has FAILED. especially R1 type all-housing zoning. All modern city planners agree on this fact.

      And most home buyers disagree with you and with them.

      1. Tim Keller

        Most industries would prefer to dump their waste directly into a local river, but we dont let them do that do we?

        If this entire project was developed “the better way” as dictated by modern standards, which is high-density, transit-served, and mixed-use, the development would STILL be 100% occupied as soon as it was built.

        Which is really the point…   If our market was in less of a housing crisis, then I would perhaps be more okay with a lower-density project.  But what part of “housing crisis” do we need to emphasize in order to get people to do the right thing?

        People in this town claim to not want to convert farmland, they claim to want bike-ability, they claim to want a healthy economy, and to not want traffic….  Single family housing is the worst option for ALL of those factors…

        1. Don Shor

          Most industries would prefer to dump their waste directly into a local river, but we dont let them do that do we?

          Really, Tim? That’s your answer?
          I’d say you won’t be a particularly positive contributor to this discussion if you denigrate the strong, provable preferences of the people who would be buying these homes.

          People in this town claim to not want to convert farmland, they claim to want bike-ability, they claim to want a healthy economy, and to not want traffic….

          Some people do claim that, yes. And then they mostly buy single-family homes with yards.
          This project has a mix of housing types. It will have some of what you and evidently most urban planners want people to live in, and some of what most people actually prefer to live in. That seems like a reasonable compromise to me.
          This is one of the most logical places to build houses adjacent to this city.

        2. Tim Keller

          Im not trying to denigrate anyone Don, but I do think we need to challenge the premise and the logic of your market-based argument.   What one group of people in the market might “want” doesnt mean thats what we have to do…   Perhaps my response was a little trite.. but I was trying to make a point.

          That said, I would still push back on your assumption that single family homes are so popular.

          For one… I live in a single family home… but only because the ONLY type of housing we have in this city that isnt student housing.. is single family homes.    I would much rather prefer a condo downtown… but that is NOT an option in this city… so we cant infer that people only “want” single family homes when that is all we have ever built.    Thats a self-licking lollypop.  Im not voting for my preferred form of housing by my current choice… its just all I was ever offered.

          Given the severe housing crisis, and a variety of other factors which all line up against the perpetuation of the single family housing development as the mainstay of our development modes… I really think we need to be pushing to break the mold here and do much, much better.   And we CAN do better!  Which is the point.

          1. Don Shor

            https://www.zillow.com/research/buyers-consumer-housing-trends-report-2021-30039/

            The typical (median) buyer bought a 3-bed, 3-bath, single-family detached house between 1,000 and 1,999 square feet. While a majority of buyers across urban, suburban and rural areas reported buying a single-family detached house, there was a significant increase from prior years in the share of buyers that purchased another home type, including a townhouse (11%, up from 8% in 2020) or condo/co-op (10%, up from 6% in 2020). Given low inventory and an unusually competitive housing market, buyers may have gravitated toward many of these more-affordable and/or relatively more-available home types as an option that fit their budget.

            I would much rather prefer a condo downtown… but that is NOT an option in this city…

            It’s hard for me to imagine very many families moving into downtown condos in Davis.

        3. Tim Keller

          It’s hard for me to imagine very many families moving into downtown condos in Davis.

          Lets build some and find out!

          The reason why we have government and not just a free market is that what is best for society is NOT always what is pursued in a free market.  Free markets can be terribly short-signted, and this is a good example.

          The developer might want to focus on single family homes because that is what they think they might make the most profit on… and perhaps because it might be the least controvertial, but that might not be what is best for the city, and in this case, I would strongly argue that the city would be MUCH better served by a much higher density development.

          Single family homes give you 6-8 dwelling units per acre… townhomes can more than double that, and apartments / condos can easily be in the 50 units per acre.

          I’d be okay with a healthy swath of single family homes across the northern part of this development, but the southern parts should be much much denser, even denser than the cannery.   The only reason to NOT build denser housing like this is if you thought the denser housing formats would stay vacant, and there is ZERO chance of that happening in this town in our lifetimes.

        4. Mark West

          DS: “It’s hard for me to imagine very many families moving into downtown condos in Davis.”

          Perhaps because you have lived in one place for years and have lost perspective. I suspect that an 8-story condo complex with a pool on the roof and shopping next door would be just as popular here with young professionals as it was in Baltimore 30 years ago. Just as the blocks upon blocks of 1000-1500sf row houses (with yards and often attached garages) were popular there as well. We shouldn’t build to meet the views of the old people with their ‘stuck in the mud’ opinions, but rather for the young who do not share our views. High-density housing, in many forms, will sell quickly for the simple fact that we have an extreme shortage of housing of any type due to two decades of not building while the apartment vacancy rate was non-existent.

          Don – Your argument is beyond silly.

          1. Don Shor

            Don: “very many families”
            Mark: “young professionals”
            Two very different demographics.
            Remind me again, what’s the population of Baltimore? Do you consider it even remotely comparable to Davis?

            old people with their ‘stuck in the mud’ opinions….Your argument is beyond silly.

            I interact with lots of people in different demographics and with different housing needs on a daily basis, Mark.
            High-end condos in the downtown would likely fill up with high-income students, of which there are surprising numbers. I don’t really think downtown Davis has the panache that young professionals are looking for. But I could be wrong about that, and I have no objection to building high-rise, high-value condos in the downtown for students, young professionals, or intrepid families. I’m sure Trackside will get going any day now, so we’ll see.
            What I am saying is that isn’t what most people want when they finally save up to buy a home. This proposal is focused on moderate-priced housing for new home buyers.

        5. Ron Oertel

          Tim Keller: People in this town claim to not want to convert farmland, they claim to want bike-ability, they claim to want a healthy economy, and to not want traffic….  Single family housing is the worst option for ALL of those factors…

          Yeah, it absolutely is. (Probably the first time I’ve agreed with you.)

          It’s unfortunate that this is exactly what surrounding towns continue to build.  And it sounds like there’d be plenty of it, in Covell Village II.

          At 400 acres, it is way, way too large of a footrprint. It is literally the same size as Covell Village I, and extends beyond The Cannery.

          If it was half this size, had more Affordable housing (and preserved the other “half” as mitigation), that might be acceptable, provided that Shriner’s and 100% Housing DISC did not go forth.

          (And presumably, putting the northern half in mitigation would also alleviate some of the flooding concerns on the northern half.)

        6. Mark West

          Don: Your full of…

          “Don: “very many families”

          Mark: “young professionals”

          Two very different demographics.”

          What? You thing all young professionals won’t have kids? Overlapping demographics at the very least.

          You do not know what people want, regardless of who you talk with, simply because you are not the one looking for housing. We have a non-existent housing vacancy rate in town, something that has been true for at least two decades. We need all types of housing, not just the ‘ideal’ that you think everyone should want.

          Your argument is not just silly, it is insulting to everyone in need of appropriate housing.

  7. Jim Frame

    I agree that this proposal raises the bar, but I have concerns about it:
     
    1.  It provides 210 units for low-income (L, VL & EL) households, but our next-cycle RHNA obligations are likely to be in excess of 930 for these categories.

    2.  It’s not clear to me if the Attainable units will qualify as Moderate income units for RHNA calculations.  If they don’t, that means we’re short 340 or so Moderate units, and it provides 1185 Above-Moderate units, when we only need about 800 for the next RHNA cycle.

    In general, my position is that Davis doesn’t have a shortage of high-end houses, we have a shortage of affordable houses, and I’d like to see any peripheral development satisfy the RHNA VL, L and M  numbers without exceeding the Above-Moderate numbers.

     

    1. Mark West

      “without exceeding the Above-Moderate numbers.”

      Should we not provide housing opportunity for those in need and not just for those that we are ‘required’ to address? The RHNA numbers are the absolute minimum of what we should provide.

      What is wrong with providing more than the this bare minimum?

      Who do you perceive as being harmed by our doing more?

      1. Jim Frame

        The RHNA numbers are the absolute minimum of what we should provide.
        What is wrong with providing more than the this bare minimum?
        Who do you perceive as being harmed by our doing more?
         

        I’m not worried about exceeding the affordable numbers, because we’re going to have a hard enough time just reaching the bare minimum.  It’s the Above-Moderate (market rate) housing that I want to limit to the RHNA obligation.  Davis doesn’t have a shortage of million-dollar homes, so I don’t want peripheral lands being used to build houses for Bay Area refugees.

  8. Eileen Samitz

    Well, yes there is a lot that is not covered in the article, including the many problems with this new version of Covell Village, that existed before, and that continue to exist with this project. The following are just some of the many reasons why the former “Covell Village” proposal project was rejected by Davis voters.

        1) Toxics – This Covell Village 2.0 version, now “Village Farms” site, has a long history of toxics including carcinogenic vinyl chloride found on the project site from leakage from the enormous former City landfill site located adjacent to this project. This former landfill site was an unlined dump for years until it was moved later into the current County site. So, how many people will want to purchase a home on land contaminated with carcinogenic toxics?

        2) An enormous flood plain – of roughly 200-acres covering at least half of the project site. How many people want to risk flooding issues to buy a home at this site? Further, California State law now stipulates that it will no longer financially bail out flooded sites which City’s approve development on, unlike prior to this policy. Also, the flood plain span includes being located over top of the toxics leakage from the former landfill site onto the Village Farms site.

        3) Unmitigable traffic and circulation impacts – which were bad enough in 2005 with Covell Village, and now have multiplied out with traffic from Spring Lake, which was approved and was going to create these impacts anyway. So, adding this 1,395-unit project at this Covell Blvd. and Pole Line Rd. vicinity, would be insane. The traffic and gridlock are terrible now, and add traffic and impacts for almost 1,400 more units there would be even more insane. The gridlock would be dramatically delayed, trying to get through this intersection, or, on Pole Line Rd. and/or Covell Blvd., PLUS, cars will use other alternative routes jamming up traffic and circulation along the adjacent streets such as L Street.

        4) Air Quality impacts – will be significant as a consequence of the backed-up gridlock all along Covell and Pole Line Rd., and even worse than predicted in earlier versions of this Covell Village 2.0 project, now called “Village Farms”.

       5)  Lack of safe access issues – continue to be a serious problem. There is no ability to have safe access over, or under Covell Blvd. from this project site for any kids/or other bicyclists or pedestrians, trying to cross Covell Blvd. near Pole Line Rd. with its incredible traffic and high-speed accidents, which have happened too often.

        6) Access over or under the F St. railroad tracts is a fairytale – like at the Nishi project.  The same developer, John Whitcombe promised access over or under the railroad tracks at Nishi, yet that has not happened. This is because the railroad owners do not grant this access due to liability issues. This issue was raised during the Nishi 2.0 debate; however, the reality is that this is why the Nishi project has not moved forward. So, this is another false promise just as we experienced during the Covell Village debate.

       7)  Infrastructure costs – during the Covell Village debate it became apparent that the City would need to subsidize the massive infrastructure costs. The infrastructure of the proposed overpass at Pole Line alone would be an enormous cost. So, how many Davis residents want to subsize this project with their taxes?

      8)  History of false promises, and now a lack of “process” is in full display. There has been a long history of false promises, disinformation, and dirty tricks in this developer’s two previous project campaigns with Covell Village, more recently Nishi, and now, so here we go again with “Village Farms”.
    The facts are that John Whitcombe’s previous projects were full of false promises, which were exposed by citizen activists during the Covell Village and Nishi Measure J campaigns. These false promises and falsehoods were particularly stacked in the “developer agreements” which can easily be negotiated away, later after the vote, if approved. This is why, the baseline project features of Measure J is critical, which ensures that the conditions defined actually materialize.

    So, this new “come hither” approach is clearly just as disingenuous, particularly since the City tried to “fast track” this project last Tuesday, when it did not even have a name, had no project description, and did not even have application to the City.

    YET, the Council was being asked to advance it past three other projects which have been playing by the rules and adhering the City process with applications. So, why did this project get special treatment and privilege? Apparently, because John Whitcombe’s project is being given the “inside track”. This is neither fair, nor a transparent process by any means, to evaluate all the projects.

    Folks concerned about this “Village Farms” project, as I am, are welcomed to contact me at citizens@dcn.org.

  9. Keith Y Echols

    So I’m going to try to use a clumsy metaphor to better explain my position.

    The small single family home project that is giving lots of nice things to the community is like this:

    Your family is about $200K in debt.  Your monthly expenses currently exceed your income by about $200.  You need a car; your current one works but it’s on it’s last legs.  You need a vehicle to get to work but you also need one to transport your wife, kids….grandparents…. so one that holds 6-8 people.

    So someone comes along and sells you a nice new 2 person convertible for a good price.  The sale person even throws in some nice new bicycles for the kids.  He throws in a gift certificate for a nice dinner.  He throws in a trip to Hawaii.  He throws in $500 to your kid’s college fund.  Seems like a sweet deal.  But you now have a yearly $1500 registration fee.

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to focus your efforts on making more money; getting a promotion or getting a new job…etc….before buying something that you need but don’t really need?

  10. Todd Edelman

    There’s no village here. Even Village Homes is not really a village. A village is self-contained for the most part except for some municipal functions. This is not designed that way.

    I lived across Pole Line from this location for a year. Bicycle modal share and public transport model share from this distance to campus in downtown is very low. This is supported by successive UCD Campus Travel Surveys. Everyone here will have a car even if they can’t afford it, and justify having a car and they will love driving to Woodland. And to downtown. With easy parking at home and free parking most other places this place will have a huge and dominant automobile modal share. (Electric vehicles still cause danger and still make tire and wind noise.) It will still have a huge automobile model share even if there is some improvement including more frequent public transport and a couple of bike-ped connections over the railway. Since there’s only one planned… please.

    Honest, professional and seasoned urban densification activists and experts will laugh at this.

    102 is so awful now that it should be closed as a through route. It’s far exceeding its purpose and capacity. There’s really no other practical way to solve it. This project as planned will make it much worse, because all of the commercial offerings in east Woodland are very attractive.

    One way to responsibly and sustainably develop this area would be by having the same number of residents living in perhaps 1/3 of the area adjoining the railway corridor and East Covell, and this would require a hybrid “tram-train” service all the way from Woodland Main Street, through Davis and then along Hutchinson to West Village… With a parallel high-speed bicycle path, at least from downtown to this location. It should include a full range of daily services within a 5-minute walking distance.

    In other words the responsible and sustainable development of this area requires something similar to my proposal in Woodland, focused on the area of East Street and Main Street to the west, combined with a permanent termination of sprawl in any direction, and further densification in the west part of UCD.

    I’m not interested in narcissistic families demanding yards. It is not our job to solve their psychological problems with a harm reduction strategy that is literally built to fail.

    Most of the above can be put into the General Plan update BEFORE City Hall moves forward on this, even incrementally.

     

    1. Todd Edelman

      I should have added:
      * I am not suggesting that any existing sprawl is forcibly-depopulated!
      * My counter-proposal above will only work with a very low percentage of motor vehicle ownership.

  11. Sharla Cheney

    It is clear that these development proposals and the resulting campaigns are the cause schisms in our community.  It is not the development proposal that is the cause, but the group of people who have dedicated their lives to wage an attack on any and all proposals.  I believe that this activity has caused permanent damage to our civic life. It also has given us less than optimum results when projects do make it through.  At first glance, the Covell project looks promising and something that the City needs. Immediately the usual and almost automated responses appear – toxic air, gridlock traffic, etc.  The best response to this for the mental health of the community may be for people to turn off the sources of communication or severely limit it – much like what many people have done with national politics – and engage in only positive activities.

    1. Keith Y Echols

      It is not the development proposal that is the cause, but the group of people who have dedicated their lives to wage an attack on any and all proposals. 

      Actually the lead opponent (the one that was sued) of the last project (DISC) brought to a vote just stated his support of Village Commons.

      I on the other hand supported DISC but (currently) oppose Village Commons.

       The best response to this for the mental health of the community may be for people to turn off the sources of communication or severely limit it – much like what many people have done with national politics – and engage in only positive activities.

      Or you know…we can have a discussion and disagreements and not get our feelings all hurt about it.  Otherwise what’s the point of democracy?  Which is the whole point of Measure J.   I still maintain that DIRECT democracy isn’t a good idea.  But you have to play the hand your dealt.

      At first glance, the Covell project looks promising and something that the City needs. Immediately the usual and almost automated responses appear – toxic air, gridlock traffic, etc. 

      You talk about only positive activities but you discount the comments of those with opposing views.  Here’s the most balanced take I can make in regards to this specific comment:

      1. The city NEEDS housing (at least in terms of meeting the RHNA numbers).

      2.  To meet it it’s likely going to need peripheral development.

      3.  Pretty much any peripheral (or infill for that matter) development is going to cause traffic, some gridlock, air pollution….etc… that comes with adding more people.

      HOWEVER, the problems are important and need to be mitigated or appeased.  I do not support the project but the developer has offered many bonuses/amenities (as listed by others in the comments) that might offset the inconvenience the project may create.  Some may believe the benefits outweigh the negatives (probably depends on if you live near the project).

       

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