AKT Pulls Preliminary Application for Pioneer Community Master Plan; Letter Questions How City of Davis Will Comply with State Housing Laws

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Davis, CA – Another project has been withdrawn before moving forward.  The Vanguard has acquired a letter from Angelo K. Tsakopoulos that withdrew the preliminary application for Pioneer Community Master Plan.

In an April 1 letter to the city, Tsakopoulos wrote, “… please accept our formal withdrawal of the preliminary review application for the Pioneer Community Master Plan submitted on April 17, 2023. While the Pioneer Community Master Plan would have provided an innovative and energy self-reliant model community, we have determined that the anticipated delays and unreasonable obstacles in obtaining the necessary approvals cannot justify our continued investment.”

The letter was particularly pointed in the criticism of the city and questioned its ability to comply with state housing laws.

They added, “In abandoning our plans for the Pioneer Residential Community, we do not take lightly the loss of affordable and market rate homes the project would have contributed toward solving California’s housing crisis of ‘historic proportions.’”

They note, “This loss of housing units for the City of Davis is particularly concerning regarding the City’s current and future Housing Element compliance. The Legislature’s efforts to address the housing crisis will continually fall short when local jurisdictions fail to timely process or dedicate adequate staff for housing applications and ultimate approval remains unpredictable even after substantial capital is invested in exhaustive environmental review.”

They continued, “Despite the availability of land and forward­ thinking developers ready to take meaningful strides to build housing, the unreasonable and arbitrary obstacles in the approval process will prolong the state’s housing crisis.”

They added, “Thank you for your limited efforts in reviewing the preliminary application and we hope the City Council will take the opportunity to reconsider how it can provide adequate staffing and direction so that the City can actually achieve a compliant Housing Element and, more importantly, additional housing opportunities.”

The city did not agree with either the content or the tenor of the letter.

Sherri Metzker, Community Development Director noted, “While we certainly agree with the statement that the state is in the middle of a housing crisis, we disagree with his premise that the City of Davis has not spent time and energy on reviewing the proposed concept.”

She referred the Vanguard to a September 2023 letter in which the city provided feedback and answered clarifying questions.

Metzker noted, “Since providing this letter to the applicant the City has received no response or further correspondence until receipt of this withdrawal letter.”

Among the biggest concerns was whether the property itself was sufficiently contiguous as required by LAFCo for annexation.

The city pointed to language that demonstrates the need for the property to “abut” or “share” a “common boundary with territory within a local agency.”  Specifically, “Territory is not contiguous if the only contiguity is based upon a strip of land more than 300 feet long and less than 200 feet wide at its narrowest width, that width to be exclusive of highways.”

Moreover, the city noted, “Boundaries which create islands, strips, or corridors are disfavored.”

The city continues, “The City Council will ultimately need to determine if the design of the subdivision is dense enough. The City Council has repeatedly expressed the need to maximize the land use to the extent possible. If the project is to move forward, you will need to address this concern.”

The letter concludes, “As you can see, there are many complicated issues surrounding master planned communities. All of these issues (and any others that would arise as follow up questions) would have to be adequately addressed prior to asking for a decision by the Planning Commission and City Council.”

As noted, the city received no answer from the applicant from that September letter.

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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  1. Tim Keller

    I have some cognative dissonance on this….

    Im very much onboard with the city creating more housing, but the housing we need most is for the people who serve in our local economy: the 20,000+ displaced workers who commute here in cars every day.  I dont think there was any chance that this project was going to actually help with that.

    Not all housing is created equal, and some sites make more sense than others, this particular site made very little sense to me.   It was going to end up being the worst kind of car-served sprawl we could possibly imagine.

    So while I hate to see our housing options be limited in some general sense…  in reality, this project in this spot never had any potential for being a “good project” and as Don said… there was never probably a chance of it passing with voters anyway.

    1. David Greenwald

      I think the biggest problem is that we’re basically down to two peripheral projects. Davis has basically tried to be choosers for the last twenty five years and now has an enormous hole. And while for some this wasn’t a project they wanted, we’ve seen so many potential projects end up with a similar story.

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