Applicant Withdraws North Covell Project

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Davis, CA – A project that has drawn critical response from neighbors and others has been withdrawn, according to a letter acquired by the Vanguard dated July 5, 2024, following two community outreach meetings in the previous week.

Those meetings were well attended by residents in the surrounding Wildhorse neighborhood.

“At these events, the Kleins were able to provide a lot of useful information to their neighbors and answer many questions,” wrote attorney Matt Keasling of Taylor, Wiley and Keasling in a letter to the city representing the applicants.  “The applicants also received several insightful comments and suggestions from those in attendance.”

Keasling said that as a result, “As a result of the neighborhood meetings, the Kleins are hereby withdrawing the North Covell Creek application.”

He added, “While we continue to believe that this is a logical and appropriate location within Davis at which to provide badly needed housing, we recognize that there are additional conversations that need to occur and concepts that need to be further explored.”

As a result, he said, “The Kleins intend to spend the next few months researching various ideas and continuing to dialogue with the community.”

On the one hand, an issue exists as to the future viability of the site as a Golf Course.  Moreover, the city faces a housing crisis and has limited sites that are not Measure J sites, meaning they do not require a vote of the community to approve.

On the other hand, concerns have been raised about promises to the community that the site would be held as open space in perpetuity.

The project would convert the northern half of the golf course into residential neighborhood, while retaining the lower portion of the course and transforming it into a comprehensive nine-hole golf course with a clubhouse, restaurant and driving range.

This would convert 74.6 acres of the golf course which is in the city limits into 500 to 750 homes of varying sizes and affordability levels.

According to the project proposal, “the reconfigured golf course will continue to serve as a physical separation between the Project and those existing neighborhoods to the south.” The applicants emphasized, “All residential units that currently abut the golf course will continue to do so.”

The plan, as indicated, is for between 500 to 750 units of varying levels of affordability with both for-sale and rental units.

The applicant notes that “the Project will maximize densities on its western edge and then progressively decrease in density as the neighborhood moves to the east. Focusing the density along Pole Line Road will maximize the number of residents that live a short walk to transit stops and nearby amenities, thereby encouraging the use of public transit and non-vehicular transit modes; it will also help to gradually reduce the traffic volumes away from major roadways thereby improving neighborhood safety and lessening VMT.”

They continue, “The high-density areas would include both for-rent and for-sale homes to meet a variety of household needs, this area would also include deed restricted affordable housing.”

The affordable housing component would call for between 73 and 110 units “depending on the total number of market-rate units that are ultimately incorporated into the Project.” However, the applicant noted, they intend “o commit in the Development Agreement that the Project include no less than 110 deed restricted units, thereby assuring the maximum number of affordable units that could be required per the City’s Affordable Housing Ordinance.”

However, the plan came immediately under fire from many who believed the site to be held in perpetuity as a conservation easement.

“The City needs to reject the North Covell Creek housing application to develop 75 acres of the Wildhorse golf course because it would clearly violate the 1998 Deed of Conservation Easement executed between the Wildhorse property owner and the City,” wrote Eileen Samitz who was involved in the issue in the 1990s when the project was approved.

“We made it clear that this commitment needed to be permanent. Subsequently, the developers and the City agreed to this and included the Conservation Easement commitment to be solid and impenetrable into perpetuity,” Samitz added.

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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41 Comments

          1. David Greenwald

            At least for those of you who own million dollar homes already.

            But that’s not quite where I was headed this time…

        1. Walter Shwe

          Yeah, we know, it’s a “crisis”.

          But somehow the world keeps spinning…

           

          During world wars, widespread famines and major natural disasters the world keeps spinning too.

          1. David Greenwald

            Agreed. Mass extinctions have occurred and yet the world spun. That seems like a high bar for a crisis.

        2. Keith Olsen

          Agreed. Mass extinctions have occurred and yet the world spun. That seems like a high bar for a crisis.

          Well to some of “you” everything is a crisis.

        3. Walter Shwe

          Well to some of “you” everything is a crisis.

          Keith is grossly exaggerating. What other issues have I said are crises? It’s not even close to being “everything”.

          1. David Greenwald

            I get. You don’t want to actually give an example because you’re afraid if you give a specific example, I’ll demolish your argument.

        4. Matt Williams

          David, you have to be kidding.  In a little over 15 minutes I ran into the following of your crises

           
          Triple Crisis
          Fiscal Responsibility Crisis
          Declining Enrollment Crisis
          Homeless Crisis
          Crisis in Housing Affordability
          Crisis in Above Moderate Income Housing
          Climate Crisis
          Affordability Crisis
          Declining Population Crisis
          Retail Malls Crisis
          During my search I also ran into the following two comments of yours that bear repeating

          In my view what you are missing is this: as the LAO put it, the housing crisis is not necessarily an overall lack of housing, but housing that “is affordable” and “meets their needs.”

          AND

          That’s the essence of the crisis – the inability to find housing that is both AFFORDABLE and MEETS THE NEEDS of citizens.
          That leads to having to make trade-offs in order to live in California.
          And it in turns has led many to seek to move elsewhere.
          Which has led to the projected demographic trends.

           

          1. David Greenwald

            Ok. You’ve identified 10 crises (in 18 years and about 65K articles). I question several of those – whether I actually used the term crisis. For example, I know I have written (as have others) about the fact that retails malls are dying, but in my quick search, I don’t see where I called that a crisis. I agree with a few of them – several of them are related to housing and affordability. At least you provided examples, so we can discuss it. Keith refused which was the cause of my frustration.

          2. David Greenwald

            The other problem – and the question I specifically asked Keith and he overtly dodged – which crisis have I called a crisis which is not. After all, the real issue is not whether I called something a crisis – I clearly have and have never denied it – but rather whether I am wrong to do so. And again, he refused to identify one.

            My guess is that over the last five years, I have used the term housing crisis in at least 100 articles.

            But so what?

            Here’s polling from the PPIC from 2019 – “Californians and the Housing Crisis” – the term housing crisis in California is widely used and accepted.

        5. Walter Shwe

          Keith’s continued refusal to not cite examples to demonstrate his statement is true is cowardly. He made the statement and now can’t back it up. I wonder why? Think before you speak.

        6. Walter Shwe

          David asked:

          More importantly, what has been called a crisis that is not?

          Off the top of my head I can think of 2 major issues that I believe David has never characterized as crises, crime and illegal immigration. I would classify both as problems.

        7. Matt Williams

          David, I didn’t go to any of your articles, only your comments … and only over the past 12 months.

          Whether you used the actual word “crisis” is dancing on the head of a pin on your part.  Keith’s point is the same … you are a master of hyperbole.  You also practice duck and weave quite effectively.  Keith doesn’t have access to the query tools to make a search for your “crises” easy … and you know that (as does Walter), so assailing him for not providing “examples” is simply rhetoric designed to deflect the conversation on your part.

          With regard to the “housing crisis” for political reasons you choose to paint with a broad brush.  You purposely choose not to recognize that while the State of California clearly does have an overall housing crisis, the degree of that “crisis” varies considerably from community to community around the state.  It is highly questionable whether the city of Davis has a housing crisis … and especially questionable whether it has an across the board housing crisis.

          As Keith Echols has very clearly documented , a housing crisis is the direct result of economic growth.  California is a textbook example of that.  For going on 100 years people have chosen to move to California primarily because of the robust economy.  The climate has attracted many, but without jobs, the attraction of the climate would whither away.  Many of California’s counties have less than robust economies, and as a result have attracted much, much less population growth … if any.

          That brings us to our fair city, where there has been no meaningful growth of the economy for over 25 years.  And the entire 1,000 jobs increase in 25 years has been in low paying jobs at the hospital and local hotels, while higher paying jobs in the financial sector have declined.  The result is that the overall housing crisis that exists in California, driven by high paying and low paying jobs growth alike, does not translate to Davis.  We have considerably more houses in Davis that require high paying jobs than we have actual high paying jobs.  The overwhelming majority of Davis residentes who have high paying jobs commute out of town to go to those jobs.  In that Above Moderate Income bracket, the demand for housing does not come from the local economy.

          Where you and I agree, and that is why I reprinted your two comments, is that if there is any housing crisis in Davis, and I personally believe there is, it is for the workers in the sector of our local economy that provides the majority of the jobs … low income jobs.  That is why solutions like the one Rich Rifkin put forward 9and you have thus far ignored) make so much sense.  Building more high income homes does nothing to address our “real” hosing crisis in Davis.

          The other place where the people who toil at low income jobs in Davis are hurt (badly) vis-a-vis housing is in the cannibalization of the workforce rental housing market by UCD students.

          1. David Greenwald

            Be interesting to see because Cortese specifically asked for this and had his community, San Jose, one of the cities scrutinized.

            “It is highly questionable whether the city of Davis has a housing crisis … and especially questionable whether it has an across the board housing crisis.”

            I definitely don’t agree with that view. We have gone back and forth on this point and I do not agree that Davis has enough market rate homes and I certainly don’t agree that it has enough homes that are small or large “A” affordable.

            But aside from that point, at a practical level it doesn’t matter. SACOG has calculated Davis’ fairshare of housing and Davis has to build that and if it doesn’t the state has shown it still take actions to attempt to make sure it does. And Davis will have a hard time in the next cycle meeting the state’s demands.

        8. Matt Williams

          I do not agree that Davis has enough market rate homes and I certainly don’t agree that it has enough homes that are small or large “A” affordable.

          Market Rate Homes is a overly general term.  All homes that are for sale in Davis other than large “A” affordable are sold at “market rate.”  With that said the market rate asking/sale price for a 1,200 square foot home is very different than  the market rate asking/sale price for a 2,400+ square foot home.  The market rate price in Davis for a 1,200 square foot home is going to be far, far closer to affordable than  the market rate price for a 2,400+ square foot home … in fact, none of the 2,400+ square foot homes are going to be affordable.

          I have very clearly stated over and over and over again that Davis definitely has a need for small “A” affordable homes.  I’m not sure whether you have wax in your ears and haven’t heard me, or are simply being obtuse.  The quotes I pulled from Rich Rifkin’s editorial clearly argue for more small “A” affordable homes, which is why I chose to quote it.

          If we want to address the small “A” affordable need … affordable for our existing workforce and affordable for young families, then we need to have the courage to tell the developers that homes that have an affordable price are the only thing we want in the owner occupied market segment.  As Don Shor has clearly pointed out, a substantial portion of the Davis workforce can not afford to purchase their home, so we need affordable rental housing as well.

          We do not need more $1 million + priced homes in Davis.  We do not have a crisis in the $1 million + priced homes market segment.  I can’t be any clearer than that.  If you disagree please do everyone the courtesy to explain why you see both a need and a crisis in the $1 million + cohort.

          1. David Greenwald

            “If we want to address the small “A” affordable need … affordable for our existing workforce and affordable for young families, then we need to have the courage to tell the developers that homes that have an affordable price are the only thing we want in the owner occupied market segment. ”

            While that sounds good, there is also the reality of how to actually build housing of that sort. That’s one of the reasons that Whitcombe is proposing to subsidize those kinds of homes to drive down the cost by about $100K to put the cost in line with say Woodland.

            “We do not need more $1 million + priced homes in Davis. ”

            You keep asserting that, but you have presented no data and no argument to substantiate it. Nor have you presented any data, calculations, or made an argument about how to build the kind of housing you would like and make it pencil out and able to get the rate of return needed to get financing for it.

          2. David Greenwald

            Going back to the actual point of debate, even if we accept your expansive list at face value, it’s about 10 “crises” which can be condensed down to about four. That hardly sustains the point that “everything is a crisis” – particularly since some things clearly are a crisis.

        9. Walter Shwe

          Well to some of “you” everything is a crisis.

          It appears that this matter has been settled. To David and I “everything” is not a crisis. Keith never did provide examples. How do you defend the indefensible?

        10. Matt Williams

          You really are in denial David.  What issue have you written about that you don’t consider to be a crisis?

          I have provided you with examples.  The fact that you choose to minimize the reality of those examples is your prerogative.  Keith expressed an opinion.  The opinion clearly struck a nerve for you.  As Shakespeare once said, “Oftentimes excusing of a fault doth make the fault the worse by the excuse.”

          Perhaps you should have left Keith’s opinion unanswered.

          1. David Greenwald

            “Perhaps you should have left Keith’s opinion unanswered.”

            As it turns out that would have been wiser had I only known you were prepared to jump into the breach of his lack of response

        11. Matt Williams

          While that sounds good, there is also the reality of how to actually build housing of that sort. That’s one of the reasons that Whitcombe is proposing to subsidize those kinds of homes to drive down the cost by about $100K to put the cost in line with say Woodland.

          Virtually the whole Davis Manor neighborhood consists of 1,200 +/- homes.  They clearly were successfully built.

          Looking at Zillow, the recent sales of Village Homes residences are 1,145, 1,128, 1,589, 1,506, 1,479, 1,144, and 1,300.  Village Homes was successfully built.

          You are rejecting the premise … and it is a premise, not a proof … out of hand.  In its place you are saying “let the developers have their way.”  That is what the City Council did when they allowed the Cannery CFD to go forward.  Leadership doesn’t roll over ant raise its legs in the air when bullied.  The tried and true advice for deasling with bullies is to confront them, and if necessary hit them in the nose.

          While we are on the subject of bullies, the State is being a bully in handing down its unfunded mandates in RHNA.  As Keith Echols has said more than once, the RHNA mandates would be much more effective in producing housing if they were passed down at the County level, and then each County and its Cities (and UCD in Yolo County’s case) could then divvy up the County’s aggregated mandate numbers.  The State is also being a bully in disallowing credit for any apartments that they call “group housing.”  By doing so they are ignoring the realities of supply and demand in the individual housing marketplaces.  In Davis (and other college/university towns) the largest component of local housing demand comes from UCD, and the near nonexistent jobs growth in Davis has not produced additional demand for housing.  HCD understands those statistically clear realities of Davis’ local housing demand, but they ignore those realities in looking at housing unit supply and housing unit additions within the City.  In effect they are handing Davis the unfunded mandate and then tying Davis’ arms behind its back. It is time to punch that bully in the nose, not roll over with ones legs in the air.

        12. Keith Olsen

          David, I didn’t need to respond to you because YOU know yourself all of the problems that you try to call a crisis. Matt decided to outline them for you, I felt I didn’t need to because you and most everyone else that reads your blog already knew.

          Matt and I don’t always see eye to eye but the thing about Matt is he will call a spade a spade.

        13. Walter Shwe

          Keith stated:
          Well to some of “you” everything is a crisis.

          Walter  replied:
          Off the top of my head I can think of 2 major issues that I believe David has never characterized as crises, crime and illegal immigration. I would classify both as problems.

          Keith’s silence speaks volumes. I debunked his statement with only 1 sentence.

        14. Matt Williams

          Walter you provided two examples and I provided ten.  Two is 17% of twelve.  There isn’t a debate anywhere where winning 17% of the time qualifies as a debunking.  You debunked nothing.  All you did was blather … and rant about someone you don’t like.

          1. David Greenwald

            “Well to some of “you” everything is a crisis.”

            So you’re amending your claim?

        15. Walter Shwe

          Are we now debating the meaning of “everything”? Keith made an indefensible statement and now Keith and Matt have altered the original statement so they can defend the new statement(s). We aren’t dealing with percentages Matt, but an absolute in the word “everything”.
           
          Matt doesn’t like it when I am correct just like he didn’t appreciate when I outed him as a housing obstructionist. I wasn’t the only commenter that ascertained he is actually an obstructionist. Matt later went on to list all of his community activities like his opinions matter more than mine or that of any other Davis resident. What an outsized ego. The Vanguard decided to delete his list of community activities I surmise because it was not relevant to the the topic.

        16. Matt Williams

          David, it is ironic that you who practice hyperbole for political effect som often on the Vanguard in your articles and comments, are giving Keith a hard time for practicing hyperbole.  There is virtually nothing in our day to day lives that passes the “everything” test. Just as your words are chosen for their rhetorical effect, Keith’s are as well … especially since he is the lone voice for Conservatism on the Vanguard.

          You are dancing on the head of a pin … doubly so since in your original challenging of Keith you fully expected he would not respond … giving you the “last word.”  Pretty silly.

        17. Walter Shwe

          Yeah, we know, it’s a “crisis”.
          But somehow the world keeps spinning…
          Well to some of “you” everything is a crisis.

          Keith replied to David with a flippant comment, then he doubled down with an obviously inaccurate and even more flippant statement.

          Matt regards the Vanguard to be filled with hyperbole. Why then does he respond to hyperbole when the smarter play would be to just ignore it. There are plenty of other places that allow comments and responses.

        18. Keith Olsen

          “Well to some of “you” everything is a crisis.”
          So you’re amending your claim?

          LOL, if you stubbed your toe while going to the bathroom at night I wouldn’t expect you to call that a crisis either.

        19. Walter Shwe

          Does Keith stand by his comments or not? This is a simple yes or no question. He is attempting to ‘weasel’ out of some of his remarks here. You don’t change the goalposts after the game has begun. I stand by my comments as written otherwise I would refrain from making them.

        20. Matt Williams

          Walter, if you are smart enough to understand that Keith’s comments were flippant, then why challenge them?  That makes your questioning flippant as well.  As they say, “Physician, heal thyself.”

          The Vanguard is what the Vanguard is, and for those who choose to post here “the smarter play” is an oxymoron.

          Everyone who posts here has their own posting styles.  You like to bedazzle everyone with brilliant pronouncements.   I tend toward baffling everyone with long-winded BS.  And Keith is right, I do tend to call a spade a spade.  It is what it is.  Chocolate and Vanilla.  Liking or not liking someone else’s posting style is a pointless endeavor.  Challenging the veracity/supportability of points made, that is a lot of fun. It makes for spirited dialogue, which of course is why the Vanguard exists … as a dialogue space.

           

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