The Dos Pinos Success Story
by David J. Thompson
In 1981, I was approached by John Hammond, local architect, and Bob Black (then a County Supervisor). Their partnership had taken an option on an undeveloped site in North Davis along Sycamore Drive called Senda Nueva. They wanted me to finance a Limited Equity Housing Cooperative (LEHC) on the site (later called Dos Pinos). At the time I was the Western Regional Director of the National Consumer Cooperative Bank and living in Davis with my wife Ann Evans.
Later, Karen and Lou Fox of Sweetwater Development took over the option and asked me to continue my efforts. In that era, the City of Davis had an allocation system which allowed for a certain number of new housing units to be added to the city per year. Local developers then came forward with their plans and the City decided which ones to approve. The Foxes believed as did Hammond and Black that including a 60-unit permanently affordable housing co-op would be an attractive feature of their application. It would be the first affordable housing in Davis included in a sub-division application. The centerpiece of their Senda Nueva plan would be the Marketplace Shopping Center on Covell next to Highway 113.
The regulatory path was opened when the Foxes asked the Davis City Council to pass an ordinance that owing to its permanent affordability, 120-units of limited equity housing cooperative would be exempted from the allocation process. The maximum number of units that could be built on the Senda Nueva site was 41 units. However, as an additional encouragement to bring the overall costs down and to create more affordable units, the City allowed 60 units to be built. The final density was 15-units-per-acre on the four-acre site. The Senda Nueva sub-division was then approved partially owing to its having the first inclusionary affordable housing community in the City of Davis.
From then on, the City required all major housing applications to include a specific number of units of affordable housing according to the size of the project’s housing mix of single family and multi-family units. The inclusionary requirements changed over time. At the moment the interim requirement is 15%.
In 1983, the Senda Nueva sub-division was approved. After that, I was asked by the Foxes to do a series of educational workshops on a LEHC. We held these in the room above the Sweetwater offices on D Street. Seventy-five people (most of them young couples) eagerly attended the first workshop.
Just as it is today in 2023, there were almost no opportunities for young, moderate- income families to get homeownership in Davis. Dos Pinos was seen by many families as a better deal than renting. After having written many articles about the cost of housing in Davis followed by writing articles about Dos Pinos as a new opportunity, the four senior editorial staff of the Davis Enterprise all joined and moved into Dos Pinos.
The “Groundbreaking Ceremony” took place on January 30, 1985, and by November that same year, the first members had moved in. In December 1985, Mayor Ann Evans led the “Grand Opening Ceremony.” By March 1986, all 60 co-op apartments were occupied and 60 Davis families had moved out of rentals into homeownership.
The Foxes built the 60-unit Dos Pinos development using the architecture and passive-solar design of Jon Hammond. Included were a community room, swimming pool, laundry room, and manager’s office and community gardens.
Part of the Davis greenbelt borders the north end of the site which converts into a thickly treed gulley which goes through to Sycamore. As they had promised, the National Consumer Cooperative Bank funded the long-term mortgage. Dos Pinos was the first LEHC not subsidized by government funding.
Below is a graph on the comparison of affordability over time of Dos Pinos and three other affordable ownership housing versus market rate rental and home ownership in Davis. Of the four programs, Dos Pinos has the best long term results.
An article about affordable housing in Davis by David J. Thompson. David has been developing affordable housing in Davis since Dos Pinos in 1983. These are the thoughts of the author and are not representative of Dos Pinos, Twin Pines Cooperative Foundation or Neighborhood Partners, LLC.