General Plan Housing Element Update Debate Heating Up

On January 24, the General Plan Housing Element Update Committee will have a public workshop. As Matt Williams described yesterday, this workshop will have a number of objectives including getting feedback from the public on the ranking of 37 future potential sites for housing. Also to get feedback from the public on what directions Housing in Davis should take in the years to come.

This is going to be one of the most important meetings and discussions that will occur that will help determine future direction of housing in Davis. Over the course of the next few weeks, the Vanguard will have a number of articles and guest commentaries that will advocate various points of view on this issue, including from the members of the committee itself.

One of the biggest questions facing this community is how fast should we grow. The city of Davis ostensibly has a one percent grow requirement.

Although one of the things debated with the council on Tuesday was the meaning of this requirement. Bill Emlen stating it was a parameter and the reality was that we were growing about half a percent per year.

Councilmember Stephen Souza:

“So the key word what you just said, it’s a parameter, it’s not a requirement. We don’t have to grow.”

However, those familiar with the Measure X/ Covell Village debate will recall that the council majority at that time repeatedly argued that we were REQUIRED by law to grow at one percent, therefore we needed to pass Measure X and develop Covell Village.

The language of the ordinance reads:

“The City Council finds that an annual average growth parameter for the City is appropriate for future growth management and planning…”

Mayor Sue Greenwald argued that this has been treated as a target rather than a cap. And that she voted against it believing it was a target rather than a cap.

The Mayor then argued that if it was intended to be a cap that they should put it into a motion that it be a cap.

“If Steve is correct that he means it as a cap, I certainly didn’t. I voted against the word parameter because it sounded like a target to me. So if Steve means it as a cap, maybe we have three votes to change the resolution to make it a cap. So actually I’d like to make the motion to that effect. That we bring back an ordinance changing the word parameter in our growth resolution to cap at one percent.”

Councilmember Souza then brought up a substitute motion:

“The motion would be that we direct staff to bring back the one percent resolution on one percent growth guidelines for further discussion and resolution.”

As Matt Williams pointed out yesterday:

“One of the significant areas of disagreement within the HESC members has centered around the charge it was given by the City Council regarding Growth Rate. On the one hand, the RHNA allocation is only 498 additional residential units between January 2006 and December 2013. On the other hand, the Planning Department Staff’s interpretation of the 1% Growth Guideline as a target rather than as a cap means over 2,300 additional residential units over the same period.”

The debate is basically twofold. First how much we should grow, whether it should be 498 additional units or at a higher rate of 2,300 additional units.

The current debate over whether this is a cap or target is not merely semantics. But it also misses a key point. Even if it is set at a cap, something that the Mayor clearly wants, by setting the cap at the higher number, it leaves a considerable amount of leeway with future councils but also with the HESC itself.

Nevertheless the ambiguity of the wording of the original resolution has clearly hindered the HESC in its attempts to determine where we should grow. Where we should grow is to a good extent determined by how much we should grow.

Those of us who believe we need to grow more slowly, can perhaps take some solace in the council’s accepting the 1% guideline as a cap rather than a target, it still leaves much to be determined in this process. 1% is roughly 300 units per year, which does not sound like a lot until you realize that every three years that means a development the size of Wildhorse.

Neither the housing market nor the public seems likely to be approving of that level of growth in the near future.

In the next few weeks, these points will be debated repeatedly. The public needs to become engaged in this debate as though it were the next council election, because in many very real ways, this debate is far more important than who gets elected to serve on the next council.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

Author

  • David Greenwald

    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.

Categories:

Land Use/Open Space

144 comments

  1. Thank you for clarifying what the debate was about on Tuesday.

    It may have started out as a debate about growth, but it was hard to tell by watching the meeting with the bickering about who made the motion to bring it back and the Mayor going on and on about her power to declare that Souza’s motion was not a true substitute motion, the motion was hers, and her belief that Souza was only changing her motion slightly so politically he would get credit for it, and she insisted that his motion be deemed an amendment. (I wanted to reach into the TV and shake some sense into the Mayor. )

    However, your analysis makes it seem like Souza and Greenwald made two separate motions, when in fact Sue seemed to think that his motion was so close to hers that there was difference.

  2. Thank you for clarifying what the debate was about on Tuesday.

    It may have started out as a debate about growth, but it was hard to tell by watching the meeting with the bickering about who made the motion to bring it back and the Mayor going on and on about her power to declare that Souza’s motion was not a true substitute motion, the motion was hers, and her belief that Souza was only changing her motion slightly so politically he would get credit for it, and she insisted that his motion be deemed an amendment. (I wanted to reach into the TV and shake some sense into the Mayor. )

    However, your analysis makes it seem like Souza and Greenwald made two separate motions, when in fact Sue seemed to think that his motion was so close to hers that there was difference.

  3. Thank you for clarifying what the debate was about on Tuesday.

    It may have started out as a debate about growth, but it was hard to tell by watching the meeting with the bickering about who made the motion to bring it back and the Mayor going on and on about her power to declare that Souza’s motion was not a true substitute motion, the motion was hers, and her belief that Souza was only changing her motion slightly so politically he would get credit for it, and she insisted that his motion be deemed an amendment. (I wanted to reach into the TV and shake some sense into the Mayor. )

    However, your analysis makes it seem like Souza and Greenwald made two separate motions, when in fact Sue seemed to think that his motion was so close to hers that there was difference.

  4. Thank you for clarifying what the debate was about on Tuesday.

    It may have started out as a debate about growth, but it was hard to tell by watching the meeting with the bickering about who made the motion to bring it back and the Mayor going on and on about her power to declare that Souza’s motion was not a true substitute motion, the motion was hers, and her belief that Souza was only changing her motion slightly so politically he would get credit for it, and she insisted that his motion be deemed an amendment. (I wanted to reach into the TV and shake some sense into the Mayor. )

    However, your analysis makes it seem like Souza and Greenwald made two separate motions, when in fact Sue seemed to think that his motion was so close to hers that there was difference.

  5. Councilmember Stephen Souza:
    “So the key word what you just said, it’s a parameter, it’s not a requirement. We don’t have to grow.”

    Claire St. John’s excellent 3-part Enterprise article(Debbie Davis has kept her on a “short leash” ever since this real piece of journalism) on the Covell Village/Measure X campaign in the Davis Enterprise archives tells the tale. Souza and Saylor breached the public trust as CV salesmen who knowingly distorted the facts.

  6. Councilmember Stephen Souza:
    “So the key word what you just said, it’s a parameter, it’s not a requirement. We don’t have to grow.”

    Claire St. John’s excellent 3-part Enterprise article(Debbie Davis has kept her on a “short leash” ever since this real piece of journalism) on the Covell Village/Measure X campaign in the Davis Enterprise archives tells the tale. Souza and Saylor breached the public trust as CV salesmen who knowingly distorted the facts.

  7. Councilmember Stephen Souza:
    “So the key word what you just said, it’s a parameter, it’s not a requirement. We don’t have to grow.”

    Claire St. John’s excellent 3-part Enterprise article(Debbie Davis has kept her on a “short leash” ever since this real piece of journalism) on the Covell Village/Measure X campaign in the Davis Enterprise archives tells the tale. Souza and Saylor breached the public trust as CV salesmen who knowingly distorted the facts.

  8. Councilmember Stephen Souza:
    “So the key word what you just said, it’s a parameter, it’s not a requirement. We don’t have to grow.”

    Claire St. John’s excellent 3-part Enterprise article(Debbie Davis has kept her on a “short leash” ever since this real piece of journalism) on the Covell Village/Measure X campaign in the Davis Enterprise archives tells the tale. Souza and Saylor breached the public trust as CV salesmen who knowingly distorted the facts.

  9. My dictionary defines “parameter” as a fixed limit or boundary. Isn’t that a cap?

    There is no “law” that we have to grow by 1%. The only “requirement”, if you want to call it that, is the SACOG RHNA numbers, and those units do not have to be built–all we have to do is show they we have sufficient land zoned to accommodate those numbers. The 1% is a number our previous council pulled out of the hat to justify Covell Village. There is no requirement to grow at 1%–there are no teeth to that resolution. What happens if we don’t grow by 1%? Some of the council members and developers have fits? So what?

    Please don’t be fooled by Saylor and Souza and Asmundson. There is NO requirement to consider the 1% either as a cap or a target. I hope the Committee has the courage to acknowledge that.

  10. My dictionary defines “parameter” as a fixed limit or boundary. Isn’t that a cap?

    There is no “law” that we have to grow by 1%. The only “requirement”, if you want to call it that, is the SACOG RHNA numbers, and those units do not have to be built–all we have to do is show they we have sufficient land zoned to accommodate those numbers. The 1% is a number our previous council pulled out of the hat to justify Covell Village. There is no requirement to grow at 1%–there are no teeth to that resolution. What happens if we don’t grow by 1%? Some of the council members and developers have fits? So what?

    Please don’t be fooled by Saylor and Souza and Asmundson. There is NO requirement to consider the 1% either as a cap or a target. I hope the Committee has the courage to acknowledge that.

  11. My dictionary defines “parameter” as a fixed limit or boundary. Isn’t that a cap?

    There is no “law” that we have to grow by 1%. The only “requirement”, if you want to call it that, is the SACOG RHNA numbers, and those units do not have to be built–all we have to do is show they we have sufficient land zoned to accommodate those numbers. The 1% is a number our previous council pulled out of the hat to justify Covell Village. There is no requirement to grow at 1%–there are no teeth to that resolution. What happens if we don’t grow by 1%? Some of the council members and developers have fits? So what?

    Please don’t be fooled by Saylor and Souza and Asmundson. There is NO requirement to consider the 1% either as a cap or a target. I hope the Committee has the courage to acknowledge that.

  12. My dictionary defines “parameter” as a fixed limit or boundary. Isn’t that a cap?

    There is no “law” that we have to grow by 1%. The only “requirement”, if you want to call it that, is the SACOG RHNA numbers, and those units do not have to be built–all we have to do is show they we have sufficient land zoned to accommodate those numbers. The 1% is a number our previous council pulled out of the hat to justify Covell Village. There is no requirement to grow at 1%–there are no teeth to that resolution. What happens if we don’t grow by 1%? Some of the council members and developers have fits? So what?

    Please don’t be fooled by Saylor and Souza and Asmundson. There is NO requirement to consider the 1% either as a cap or a target. I hope the Committee has the courage to acknowledge that.

  13. “Bill Emlen stating it was a parameter and the reality was that we were growing about half a percent per year.”

    I’m surprised to read we are growing at a ‘half a percent per year,’ now. I don’t see that growth anywhere. Does anyone know of any significant housing developments in Davis now under construction? (They must be in places in Davis I never go.)

    “Those of us who believe we need to grow more slowly, can perhaps take some solace in the council’s accepting the 1% guideline as a cap rather than a target, it still leaves much to be determined in this process.”

    Notwithstanding Bill Emlen’s assertion that we are growing at 0.5% per year, it remains the case that our residential population has not increased at all for 7 years. That’s probably the longest stretch with zero population growth in Davis since the Depression years of the 1930s.

    “Neither the housing market nor the public seems likely to be approving of that level of growth in the near future.”

    I think both of these assertions are true. Unless prices in Davis decline by 20-25%, there is too little demand for the current housing stock, let alone a growing one. I know someone who is trying to sell his condo in South Davis for what he paid for it in 2000, and he cannot find a buyer. To make matters worse, a large apartment complex, Oakshade Commons (at Lillard and Cowell), is now trying to sell all of its units as condos. The market is flooded with a lot of this type of “affordable” housing, but no one is buying.

  14. “Bill Emlen stating it was a parameter and the reality was that we were growing about half a percent per year.”

    I’m surprised to read we are growing at a ‘half a percent per year,’ now. I don’t see that growth anywhere. Does anyone know of any significant housing developments in Davis now under construction? (They must be in places in Davis I never go.)

    “Those of us who believe we need to grow more slowly, can perhaps take some solace in the council’s accepting the 1% guideline as a cap rather than a target, it still leaves much to be determined in this process.”

    Notwithstanding Bill Emlen’s assertion that we are growing at 0.5% per year, it remains the case that our residential population has not increased at all for 7 years. That’s probably the longest stretch with zero population growth in Davis since the Depression years of the 1930s.

    “Neither the housing market nor the public seems likely to be approving of that level of growth in the near future.”

    I think both of these assertions are true. Unless prices in Davis decline by 20-25%, there is too little demand for the current housing stock, let alone a growing one. I know someone who is trying to sell his condo in South Davis for what he paid for it in 2000, and he cannot find a buyer. To make matters worse, a large apartment complex, Oakshade Commons (at Lillard and Cowell), is now trying to sell all of its units as condos. The market is flooded with a lot of this type of “affordable” housing, but no one is buying.