Voters approve Measure L (City of Davis)
December 5, 2018
Voters approve Measure L
By Anne Ternus-Bellamy
For the second time in a year, Davis residents have approved a new housing development, voting in favor of the West Davis Active Adult Community on Tuesday.
With all precincts counted shortly after midnight, Measure L had won 57.4 percent of the vote with an unknown number of absentee, provisional and conditional ballots still to be counted. All but one of the city’s 34 precincts voted in favor of the measure.
The senior housing development — slated for 74 acres of agricultural land north of Covell Boulevard and just west of Sutter Davis Hospital — will provide up to 560 dwelling units, including for-sale, single-family detached homes and affordable senior apartments, with 80 percent of units restricted to buyers and renters aged 55 and over.
Because the development requires a General Plan amendment redesignating the land from agricultural to residential and mixed-use, voters had the final say in a vote under Measure R. And just as in June, when they approved the Nishi student housing development, voters again gave the green light, this time to housing geared toward seniors.
The campaign over Measure L has been bitter at times, with opponents arguing the project is exclusionary and contributes to urban sprawl. The city and developers have also been sued by a Sacramento attorney who contends the project violates fair housing laws by reserving 90 percent of housing for individuals with Davis ties.
But supporters of the project said Tuesday night that voters favored the project because they recognized the need for housing for seniors.
“It resonated with all age groups,” said developer David Taormino. “It’s a great project.”
He expressed gratitude for the more than 150 volunteers who helped with the Measure L campaign.
“I never would have imagined that many people would come out of the woodwork,” Taormino said. “It really made a difference.”
Taormino said he expects the lawsuit will go away “because it has no practical basis” and will not impact plans for moving forward with construction.
“We’re going to move as rapidly as the city will allow,” he said, adding that the goal is to have infrastructure construction underway by next summer and housing going up shortly after.
Alan Pryor, treasurer of the No on L campaign, conceded defeat early Wednesday morning, saying, “The No on Measure L campaign worked very hard to inform the community about the proposed West Davis Active Adult Community development. However, Davis voters have approved Measure L by a substantial margin.
“We look forward to continuing the discussion with the community as to how to best provide the affordable housing the city desperately needs for both seniors and working families of modest means,” Pryor said.
Mary Jo Bryan, a longtime advocate for senior housing in Davis, said Tuesday’s vote was a reflection of the community’s need.
A lot of older Davis residents are moving away because they can’t find adequate housing here, she said, “and I think that will stop.”
“This project reflects what the city wants,” she said. “I’m so happy about Davis coming through.”
Also happy on Tuesday night were David Thompson of Neighborhood Partners and Bill Powell of Davis Senior Housing Communities, who will build 150 affordable senior apartments in the West Davis Active Adult Community on four acres of land donated by Taormino.
That apartment complex will be largely modeled on the successful Eleanor Roosevelt Circle — another affordable senior housing project built by Neighborhood Partners and Davis Senior Housing Communities.
Voters, Thompson said, recognized that the “overall needs of seniors in Davis, in every income category, are very unmet at this time.”
And the existing need for low-income seniors, in particular, “is crisis-level,” Thompson said.
“I really feel blessed that we have this opportunity with the Taorminos,” said Powell. “If they hadn’t given us this land, we wouldn’t be able to do it. It’s going to be an asset to the community.”
Thompson, however, did not seem to share Taormino’s belief that the lawsuit against the development will go away quickly, calling it “the biggest impediment” to the project’s timeline.
“It will harm our ability to go forward,” he said. “But we will all move along as quickly as we can to meet the need that is here.”
On hand for the victory celebration at Hallmark Inn on Tuesday evening were a number of seniors who helped with the Measure L campaign and were thrilled at its success.
One 81-year-old Davis resident said she volunteered for the effort because the West Davis Active Adult Community “is a place I would like to live.”
She noted that the development will offer much to seniors, from an exercise facility with physical therapy and a pool to walking paths and a coffee shop.
Audrey Lippman, Thompson’s 95-year-old mother-in-law — who has been on the waiting list for Eleanor Roosevelt Circle for three years — noted the great need for more affordable senior housing in Davis.
The West Davis Active Adult Community, she said, not only provides that housing, but “includes a social component, and that’s really important.”
— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy.