Dear Vanguard Readers and/or Councilmembers,
I submitted the letter pasted in italics below to the Enterprise on Wednesday and it reflects my deep feelings about housing in Davis: We are in a desperate crisis and cannot afford to wait any longer to give opportunities to those who desperately want to live here… or anywhere for that matter… as the housing crisis isn’t limited to Davis alone but California in general. I was extremely saddened to see the article in the Vanguard that included the comparison of Shriners and Village Farms. When there is a wildfire, we do not take the liberty to pick and choose which trees to save… we try to save as many as possible. We should be looking at housing in a collaborative way, not in a competitive way.
To add some color to why I am so dedicated to housing in Davis, I personally heard about the Shriners project two years ago when I was struggling to buy a house in Davis to raise my family here. They hosted low-key focus groups and asked for community input on features that current and future Davis residents would and/or do enjoy. They asked us about our biggest housing hopes, fears, and concerns. They asked us about our personal housing stories (none of which were traditional and all of which involved a combination of personal great expense, savings for years and years, luck and timing). They presented us with updated plans in direct response to our input, and said they did the same with City planners as well.
The Shriners project has remained in the quiet phase for months as they have worked with the community and the City so that they did not get in the way of worthy projects like DISC and other things like the City Council election. Their collaboration in a time of crisis is impressive to me and what I view as the only path forward to get our way out of this housing crisis. Because I know the project so well, I know that many of the numbers presented in the comparison letter are not correct and I am personally proud of Shriners’ density (over 9 units per acre) and affordable housing numbers (20%) to mention just a couple.
I am tired of my friends moving to neighboring cities when they have families. I am tired of seeing only the privileged get opportunities. I am horrified when I think back on how hard it was to get a house here and generalize that experience to other deserving families. There is a better way and my letter below outlines that way (thank you again Councilmember Partida). I remain deeply grateful that there are decision makers and community members who do believe that we can move forward with more than one worthy project because they are thinking about people like me who are hard-working, raising families, and really trying hard to find a home… not to mention those who need affordable housing or are currently unhoused.
If we polled the City of Davis and asked if they wanted a wall at our country’s southern border, I would wager to guess that 90% of them would say no. But, we are building the equivalent of an invisible wall around Davis the longer we wait to build housing. Rather than take a winner-loser approach, let’s take the realistic and pragmatic approach that’s needed to get out of this crisis. Let’s take the opportunity that Gloria so courageously put on the table because she understands the magnitude of this situation, and move both Shriners and Village Farms to the next step in the process. I believe that even those two projects alone are not nearly enough, but this action would be a necessary step in the right direction. Otherwise, we are closing Davis to an entire generation of diverse people who also deserve access to this beautiful town. I truly appreciate you hearing my concerns.
I am writing to thank Councilmember Gloria Partida for her motion on Tuesday night to begin processing the Shriners and Village Farms applications. I watched the Council meeting and was struck by the ninety-minute discussion on homelessness prior to the peripheral housing item. Davis is in a state of emergency when it comes to housing. Each day that there is a delay in the process of providing housing means another day that someone is denied access to affordable housing, another family that is lost to a neighboring city due to not being able to purchase a home in Davis, or worse yet, another person who must remain on the streets without a home at all.
Gloria presented a win-win solution that allows the community to undertake a visioning process for the periphery while not slowing down the process of two worthy projects who are ready to provide what Davis needs. It was forward thinking and inclusive. This is not surprising as Gloria is always a champion for the people she represents. We are lucky to have her as a leader and I appreciate her fortitude, especially since I, myself, struggled for many years to purchase a home in Davis for which to raise my family.