Commentary: Measure J is in the Hands Largely of the Next Council

While the voters will have to approve what the council does, the council will have a large say over the shape and scope of the next Measure J vote, at least according to the opinion written by Harriet Steiner first reported by the Vanguard on Saturday morning.

Harriet Steiner believes that the city council has four options.

  1. Not extend Measure J
  2. Extend Measure J as is
  3. Extend Measure J with an amendment or amendments
  4. Place two or more measures on the ballot; one to extend Measure J as is and one or more additional measures to amend Measure J. The measure or measures that would go into effect would depend on how the measures were drafted, and how many votes each received, as explained below.

In addition to the council options, “the voters have the right to proceed with an initiative measure by collecting signatures and submitting an initiative petition to the City Council.”

For clarification purposes, options 1 through 4 require a public vote–that means the council does not unilaterally get to repeal the Measure, but they could put before the voters a measure that would repeal Measure J.

Some have suggested that the public can simply organize and put the requisite number of signatures on the ballot in 2010. That is certainly true and likely what would occur should the council decide on 1 or 3. However, as I read the opinion, if there are competing measures, the one with the most votes win. The more confusion caused by competing measures, the less likely it is for Measure J to pass as currently written. One need only see the competing propositions by the auto industry on the ballot in 1990 to understand the possibilities.

The safest route for those who continue to support the citizen’s right to choose would be to elect a new majority that has pledged to support Measure J in its current form and make it a permanent measure.

What is interesting to me is that people equate Measure J as an anti-growth measure. You can see the theme in some of the more colorful comments. Perhaps part of that is that the only Measure J vote went down to horrific defeat. But that was a proposal for nearly 2000 units. The next Measure J vote is likely to be considerably smaller in size and figures to fare far better at the polls.

The question is really twofold: does a development draw organized opposition and will that opposition resonate with the public as a whole. The last two growth measures was Measure X and Measure K (Target). Both drew strong organized opposition, but Measure K while not a Measure J mandated vote, passed.

Wildhorse was also not a Measure J vote, but it was able to obtain support from the community. Why? Because the developers and promoters worked with key neighbors and members of the community and were able to forge a coalition. Yes, there was organized opposition but they were able to overcome it.

The point is, that Measure J compels a vote, but that in itself does not doom a project. Ideally it would make the project better. It would force promoters and developers to work with a broad subsection of the public to make the project better. That is really what Measure J is about and exactly what the Covell Village partners did not do. The Covell Village partners would not have been able to sell the public on that specific project, but with better outreach and communication might have been able to develop a project that would have gained majority support.

Measure J is not about putting a wall around Davis or digging a moat. It is about giving the public a choice in how, when, and how much we develop. It is about forcing the developers to work with the public to create a project that the majority will support. But it puts the ultimate say with the public. It is for that reason that we need to work so hard to protect it.

—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

60 comments

  1. Essentially you are proposing a litmus test for council candidates, “Would you vote to place Measure J in its current form before the voters with no competing measures?”

    While I agree with the sentiment, that I do not want anyone being elected who would disagree with this position, this approach does create the potential of voting for candidates who violate my rule #1: People who labor under the belief that the UN Security Council is waiting for the outcome of Davis City Council meetings…

    It is better to do both- have the citizens create the replacement for measure J and ALSO vote in responsible candidates. If these clever candidates you mention in your column are bright enough to see that the replacement measure has been placed before the voters by the voters themselves, perhaps they can make Davis history and restrain themselves from placing confusing and conflicting measures out there as well. In short, I encourage the new council to take the night off- perhaps they can all have ice cream at Baskin Robbins instead…

  2. Essentially you are proposing a litmus test for council candidates, “Would you vote to place Measure J in its current form before the voters with no competing measures?”

    While I agree with the sentiment, that I do not want anyone being elected who would disagree with this position, this approach does create the potential of voting for candidates who violate my rule #1: People who labor under the belief that the UN Security Council is waiting for the outcome of Davis City Council meetings…

    It is better to do both- have the citizens create the replacement for measure J and ALSO vote in responsible candidates. If these clever candidates you mention in your column are bright enough to see that the replacement measure has been placed before the voters by the voters themselves, perhaps they can make Davis history and restrain themselves from placing confusing and conflicting measures out there as well. In short, I encourage the new council to take the night off- perhaps they can all have ice cream at Baskin Robbins instead…

  3. Essentially you are proposing a litmus test for council candidates, “Would you vote to place Measure J in its current form before the voters with no competing measures?”

    While I agree with the sentiment, that I do not want anyone being elected who would disagree with this position, this approach does create the potential of voting for candidates who violate my rule #1: People who labor under the belief that the UN Security Council is waiting for the outcome of Davis City Council meetings…

    It is better to do both- have the citizens create the replacement for measure J and ALSO vote in responsible candidates. If these clever candidates you mention in your column are bright enough to see that the replacement measure has been placed before the voters by the voters themselves, perhaps they can make Davis history and restrain themselves from placing confusing and conflicting measures out there as well. In short, I encourage the new council to take the night off- perhaps they can all have ice cream at Baskin Robbins instead…

  4. Essentially you are proposing a litmus test for council candidates, “Would you vote to place Measure J in its current form before the voters with no competing measures?”

    While I agree with the sentiment, that I do not want anyone being elected who would disagree with this position, this approach does create the potential of voting for candidates who violate my rule #1: People who labor under the belief that the UN Security Council is waiting for the outcome of Davis City Council meetings…

    It is better to do both- have the citizens create the replacement for measure J and ALSO vote in responsible candidates. If these clever candidates you mention in your column are bright enough to see that the replacement measure has been placed before the voters by the voters themselves, perhaps they can make Davis history and restrain themselves from placing confusing and conflicting measures out there as well. In short, I encourage the new council to take the night off- perhaps they can all have ice cream at Baskin Robbins instead…

  5. Mike:

    I am not opposed to citizens creating the new Measure J, but I don’t want that to become a fallback to electing candidates who would have a vested interest and inclination to weaken the measure.

  6. Mike:

    I am not opposed to citizens creating the new Measure J, but I don’t want that to become a fallback to electing candidates who would have a vested interest and inclination to weaken the measure.

  7. Mike:

    I am not opposed to citizens creating the new Measure J, but I don’t want that to become a fallback to electing candidates who would have a vested interest and inclination to weaken the measure.

  8. Mike:

    I am not opposed to citizens creating the new Measure J, but I don’t want that to become a fallback to electing candidates who would have a vested interest and inclination to weaken the measure.

  9. Measure J means that developers must offer to the Davis voter both a project and cash/perks to the city’s general revenue,infrastructure that make it an offer that is very hard to resist. This kind of hard-nosed development agreement does not occur when the Council majority relies on support by these same developer interests. Measure J was created to help neutralize this problem.

  10. Measure J means that developers must offer to the Davis voter both a project and cash/perks to the city’s general revenue,infrastructure that make it an offer that is very hard to resist. This kind of hard-nosed development agreement does not occur when the Council majority relies on support by these same developer interests. Measure J was created to help neutralize this problem.

  11. Measure J means that developers must offer to the Davis voter both a project and cash/perks to the city’s general revenue,infrastructure that make it an offer that is very hard to resist. This kind of hard-nosed development agreement does not occur when the Council majority relies on support by these same developer interests. Measure J was created to help neutralize this problem.

  12. Measure J means that developers must offer to the Davis voter both a project and cash/perks to the city’s general revenue,infrastructure that make it an offer that is very hard to resist. This kind of hard-nosed development agreement does not occur when the Council majority relies on support by these same developer interests. Measure J was created to help neutralize this problem.

  13. “rule #1: People who labor under the belief that the UN Security Council is waiting for the outcome of Davis City Council meetings…

    Mike Hart… am I missing the meaning of this and its relevance to the discussion? Please explain.

  14. “rule #1: People who labor under the belief that the UN Security Council is waiting for the outcome of Davis City Council meetings…

    Mike Hart… am I missing the meaning of this and its relevance to the discussion? Please explain.

  15. “rule #1: People who labor under the belief that the UN Security Council is waiting for the outcome of Davis City Council meetings…

    Mike Hart… am I missing the meaning of this and its relevance to the discussion? Please explain.

  16. “rule #1: People who labor under the belief that the UN Security Council is waiting for the outcome of Davis City Council meetings…

    Mike Hart… am I missing the meaning of this and its relevance to the discussion? Please explain.

  17. I agree that we should elect council members are not looking to turn Davis into a suburb of Woodland. I think that the DPD does a great job of providing the voting records on the current council members so we can make an informed decision. My personal opinion is that the council majority who voted for Measure X made a grave error. The project would have been a disaster for Davis. BTW Anonymous, I know it was a typo, but it was wonderful one, a “lamb-duck” majority sounds so passive aggressive!

  18. I agree that we should elect council members are not looking to turn Davis into a suburb of Woodland. I think that the DPD does a great job of providing the voting records on the current council members so we can make an informed decision. My personal opinion is that the council majority who voted for Measure X made a grave error. The project would have been a disaster for Davis. BTW Anonymous, I know it was a typo, but it was wonderful one, a “lamb-duck” majority sounds so passive aggressive!

  19. I agree that we should elect council members are not looking to turn Davis into a suburb of Woodland. I think that the DPD does a great job of providing the voting records on the current council members so we can make an informed decision. My personal opinion is that the council majority who voted for Measure X made a grave error. The project would have been a disaster for Davis. BTW Anonymous, I know it was a typo, but it was wonderful one, a “lamb-duck” majority sounds so passive aggressive!

  20. I agree that we should elect council members are not looking to turn Davis into a suburb of Woodland. I think that the DPD does a great job of providing the voting records on the current council members so we can make an informed decision. My personal opinion is that the council majority who voted for Measure X made a grave error. The project would have been a disaster for Davis. BTW Anonymous, I know it was a typo, but it was wonderful one, a “lamb-duck” majority sounds so passive aggressive!

  21. Sorry- I don’t mean to post so often, but I just read the question about the UN Security comment… Just because many people in Davis agree on the issue of slow growth does not mean that we agree on everything. There are many so-called “Progressives” who advocate slow-growth, but also have the unfortunate habit of seeing the Davis City Council as some bully-pulpit for advocating issues unrelated to the operation of the City of Davis. This includes taking positions on national and international policy that seem to generate a lot of heat, but fail to produce any real light on the subject. No one cares what the city council of Davis thinks on this issues and its just silly.

  22. Sorry- I don’t mean to post so often, but I just read the question about the UN Security comment… Just because many people in Davis agree on the issue of slow growth does not mean that we agree on everything. There are many so-called “Progressives” who advocate slow-growth, but also have the unfortunate habit of seeing the Davis City Council as some bully-pulpit for advocating issues unrelated to the operation of the City of Davis. This includes taking positions on national and international policy that seem to generate a lot of heat, but fail to produce any real light on the subject. No one cares what the city council of Davis thinks on this issues and its just silly.

  23. Sorry- I don’t mean to post so often, but I just read the question about the UN Security comment… Just because many people in Davis agree on the issue of slow growth does not mean that we agree on everything. There are many so-called “Progressives” who advocate slow-growth, but also have the unfortunate habit of seeing the Davis City Council as some bully-pulpit for advocating issues unrelated to the operation of the City of Davis. This includes taking positions on national and international policy that seem to generate a lot of heat, but fail to produce any real light on the subject. No one cares what the city council of Davis thinks on this issues and its just silly.

  24. Sorry- I don’t mean to post so often, but I just read the question about the UN Security comment… Just because many people in Davis agree on the issue of slow growth does not mean that we agree on everything. There are many so-called “Progressives” who advocate slow-growth, but also have the unfortunate habit of seeing the Davis City Council as some bully-pulpit for advocating issues unrelated to the operation of the City of Davis. This includes taking positions on national and international policy that seem to generate a lot of heat, but fail to produce any real light on the subject. No one cares what the city council of Davis thinks on this issues and its just silly.

  25. Oh… I get it now… so this has nothing to do with the “litmus test” concerning measure J (with which you agree) but rather that some candidates often are the same people who posture about Davis’ international standing? This may be true but it certainly should not sway your choice as Measure J is a real Davis issue that has real consequences if it is neutered.

  26. Oh… I get it now… so this has nothing to do with the “litmus test” concerning measure J (with which you agree) but rather that some candidates often are the same people who posture about Davis’ international standing? This may be true but it certainly should not sway your choice as Measure J is a real Davis issue that has real consequences if it is neutered.

  27. Oh… I get it now… so this has nothing to do with the “litmus test” concerning measure J (with which you agree) but rather that some candidates often are the same people who posture about Davis’ international standing? This may be true but it certainly should not sway your choice as Measure J is a real Davis issue that has real consequences if it is neutered.

  28. Oh… I get it now… so this has nothing to do with the “litmus test” concerning measure J (with which you agree) but rather that some candidates often are the same people who posture about Davis’ international standing? This may be true but it certainly should not sway your choice as Measure J is a real Davis issue that has real consequences if it is neutered.

  29. We need Measure J to remain intact, period. It gives voters the final say in development, not a majority of out of touch City Council members. Determining what housing is needed should not be developer driven, which is what has been happening too often in the past. And it is also how we ended up with too many schools for too few students. Developers overpromised what the school district could not deliver. Developers are in it for the money, which is perfectly OK. What is not OK is a City Council that pays too much attention to whomever lines their campaign coffers rather than what is good for the city. And by the way, I am not for no growth, but rather for smart growth. What is smart growth??? Growth the city and schools can afford to pay for!!!

  30. We need Measure J to remain intact, period. It gives voters the final say in development, not a majority of out of touch City Council members. Determining what housing is needed should not be developer driven, which is what has been happening too often in the past. And it is also how we ended up with too many schools for too few students. Developers overpromised what the school district could not deliver. Developers are in it for the money, which is perfectly OK. What is not OK is a City Council that pays too much attention to whomever lines their campaign coffers rather than what is good for the city. And by the way, I am not for no growth, but rather for smart growth. What is smart growth??? Growth the city and schools can afford to pay for!!!

  31. We need Measure J to remain intact, period. It gives voters the final say in development, not a majority of out of touch City Council members. Determining what housing is needed should not be developer driven, which is what has been happening too often in the past. And it is also how we ended up with too many schools for too few students. Developers overpromised what the school district could not deliver. Developers are in it for the money, which is perfectly OK. What is not OK is a City Council that pays too much attention to whomever lines their campaign coffers rather than what is good for the city. And by the way, I am not for no growth, but rather for smart growth. What is smart growth??? Growth the city and schools can afford to pay for!!!

  32. We need Measure J to remain intact, period. It gives voters the final say in development, not a majority of out of touch City Council members. Determining what housing is needed should not be developer driven, which is what has been happening too often in the past. And it is also how we ended up with too many schools for too few students. Developers overpromised what the school district could not deliver. Developers are in it for the money, which is perfectly OK. What is not OK is a City Council that pays too much attention to whomever lines their campaign coffers rather than what is good for the city. And by the way, I am not for no growth, but rather for smart growth. What is smart growth??? Growth the city and schools can afford to pay for!!!

  33. What is smart growth??? Growth the city and schools can afford to pay for!!!

    Actually, the school district seems to be in trouble partially because it built facilities for growth that didn’t occur, or at least, increased numbers of students that didn’t materialize. So, in fact, if this standard is the one for smart growth, then the growth approved by previous councils was very smart indeed, it was the school district that failed to recognize the brilliance of it!

    Interesting that DPD cites Wildhorse as a positive example of public approval of development. I don’t find Wildhorse very appealing at all, and I wonder about the extent that current Davis residents do. If they don’t, then it’s not a very good endorsement of the Measure J process.

    –Richard Estes

  34. What is smart growth??? Growth the city and schools can afford to pay for!!!

    Actually, the school district seems to be in trouble partially because it built facilities for growth that didn’t occur, or at least, increased numbers of students that didn’t materialize. So, in fact, if this standard is the one for smart growth, then the growth approved by previous councils was very smart indeed, it was the school district that failed to recognize the brilliance of it!

    Interesting that DPD cites Wildhorse as a positive example of public approval of development. I don’t find Wildhorse very appealing at all, and I wonder about the extent that current Davis residents do. If they don’t, then it’s not a very good endorsement of the Measure J process.

    –Richard Estes

  35. What is smart growth??? Growth the city and schools can afford to pay for!!!

    Actually, the school district seems to be in trouble partially because it built facilities for growth that didn’t occur, or at least, increased numbers of students that didn’t materialize. So, in fact, if this standard is the one for smart growth, then the growth approved by previous councils was very smart indeed, it was the school district that failed to recognize the brilliance of it!

    Interesting that DPD cites Wildhorse as a positive example of public approval of development. I don’t find Wildhorse very appealing at all, and I wonder about the extent that current Davis residents do. If they don’t, then it’s not a very good endorsement of the Measure J process.

    –Richard Estes

  36. What is smart growth??? Growth the city and schools can afford to pay for!!!

    Actually, the school district seems to be in trouble partially because it built facilities for growth that didn’t occur, or at least, increased numbers of students that didn’t materialize. So, in fact, if this standard is the one for smart growth, then the growth approved by previous councils was very smart indeed, it was the school district that failed to recognize the brilliance of it!

    Interesting that DPD cites Wildhorse as a positive example of public approval of development. I don’t find Wildhorse very appealing at all, and I wonder about the extent that current Davis residents do. If they don’t, then it’s not a very good endorsement of the Measure J process.

    –Richard Estes

  37. “Actually, the school district seems to be in trouble partially because it built facilities for growth that didn’t occur, or at least, increased numbers of students that didn’t materialize. So, in fact, if this standard is the one for smart growth, then the growth approved by previous councils was very smart indeed, it was the school district that failed to recognize the brilliance of it!”

    No, the developers promised schools that the school district did not have money to run. There is a very interesting relationship that occurs between the City Council and school district, if you think about it. If the City Council approves a housing development, more often than not a school is approved to go along with it, as happened with Marguerite Montgomery and Karamatsu. There may have been the construction money to build these elementary schools, but not the dollars to run them. In consequence, we have developers driving how many schools to build, instead of enrollment projections. Not a good idea, as we are seeing now, to our cost. The same thing is beginning to happen with senior housing. Developers are trying to use the need for senior housing to gain a toehold where previously they could not build. We end up with senior housing unsuitable for the elderly here in Davis, which should be our primary concern first and foremost.

  38. “Actually, the school district seems to be in trouble partially because it built facilities for growth that didn’t occur, or at least, increased numbers of students that didn’t materialize. So, in fact, if this standard is the one for smart growth, then the growth approved by previous councils was very smart indeed, it was the school district that failed to recognize the brilliance of it!”

    No, the developers promised schools that the school district did not have money to run. There is a very interesting relationship that occurs between the City Council and school district, if you think about it. If the City Council approves a housing development, more often than not a school is approved to go along with it, as happened with Marguerite Montgomery and Karamatsu. There may have been the construction money to build these elementary schools, but not the dollars to run them. In consequence, we have developers driving how many schools to build, instead of enrollment projections. Not a good idea, as we are seeing now, to our cost. The same thing is beginning to happen with senior housing. Developers are trying to use the need for senior housing to gain a toehold where previously they could not build. We end up with senior housing unsuitable for the elderly here in Davis, which should be our primary concern first and foremost.

  39. “Actually, the school district seems to be in trouble partially because it built facilities for growth that didn’t occur, or at least, increased numbers of students that didn’t materialize. So, in fact, if this standard is the one for smart growth, then the growth approved by previous councils was very smart indeed, it was the school district that failed to recognize the brilliance of it!”

    No, the developers promised schools that the school district did not have money to run. There is a very interesting relationship that occurs between the City Council and school district, if you think about it. If the City Council approves a housing development, more often than not a school is approved to go along with it, as happened with Marguerite Montgomery and Karamatsu. There may have been the construction money to build these elementary schools, but not the dollars to run them. In consequence, we have developers driving how many schools to build, instead of enrollment projections. Not a good idea, as we are seeing now, to our cost. The same thing is beginning to happen with senior housing. Developers are trying to use the need for senior housing to gain a toehold where previously they could not build. We end up with senior housing unsuitable for the elderly here in Davis, which should be our primary concern first and foremost.

  40. “Actually, the school district seems to be in trouble partially because it built facilities for growth that didn’t occur, or at least, increased numbers of students that didn’t materialize. So, in fact, if this standard is the one for smart growth, then the growth approved by previous councils was very smart indeed, it was the school district that failed to recognize the brilliance of it!”

    No, the developers promised schools that the school district did not have money to run. There is a very interesting relationship that occurs between the City Council and school district, if you think about it. If the City Council approves a housing development, more often than not a school is approved to go along with it, as happened with Marguerite Montgomery and Karamatsu. There may have been the construction money to build these elementary schools, but not the dollars to run them. In consequence, we have developers driving how many schools to build, instead of enrollment projections. Not a good idea, as we are seeing now, to our cost. The same thing is beginning to happen with senior housing. Developers are trying to use the need for senior housing to gain a toehold where previously they could not build. We end up with senior housing unsuitable for the elderly here in Davis, which should be our primary concern first and foremost.

  41. In consequence, we have developers driving how many schools to build, instead of enrollment projections.

    Indeed, this is not a good thing, except as is becoming obvious, the enrollment projections were erroneous on the high side.

    There may have been the construction money to build these elementary schools, but not the dollars to run them.

    My understanding is that it is illegal to make developers responsible for operational costs, that’s the obligation of the property owners of the city, in this instance, the people who purchase the homes built by the developers. And, I don’t think that they can be required to pay for anything more than their incremental impact on the district, in other words, they can’t be assessed at rates that subsidize pre-existing residents. Perhaps, one of Davis’ self-educated planning and zoning authorities can clarify and correct my understanding as required.

    But there is a more disturbing implication in this sort of analysis, which is the failure to acknowledge that government has an obligation to provide universal education to everyone, regardless of their socioeconomic status.

    Accordingly, the notion that developments can be approved or rejected besed upon their financial impact on school district operations is an indirect way for a community to abandon this obligation, and for this reason, as well as the racial and class bias that tends to be associated with this practice (for example, refusing to approve developments for lower middle income and lower income people, sometimes with a distinct racial profile), it is illegal for a city or county to consider it, at least that’s my recollection. Legal Services of Yolo County would know best, as I believe that they have educated local officials on this subject in the past.

    The same thing is beginning to happen with senior housing. Developers are trying to use the need for senior housing to gain a toehold where previously they could not build. We end up with senior housing unsuitable for the elderly here in Davis, which should be our primary concern first and foremost.

    You don’t like the Eleanor Roosevelt project, and I’m not going to defend that particular development.

    But, to the extent that state and federal funds and tax credits are being utilized to subsidize such projects, they cannot impose residency requirements, they must be open to everyone on the basis of objective criteria. In other words, someone from Sacramento or Reno or even Denver, must be allowed to submit an application and live there if they satisfy the standards, otherwise, there are serious statutory and constitutional issues.

    I was always troubled by people who emphasized the notion that affordable housing projects in Davis should be focused upon helping Davis residents first and foremost. I heard it periodically over the years when I lived there, and it seemed to carry with it an alarming subtext, basically that, don’t worry, we aren’t going to build anything that’s going to attract anyone from Sacramento, or, heaven forbid, Oakland or Los Angeles. Can’t have any lower income people with a darker skin complexion frightening the long time residents.

    From what I heard, this was a major theme emphasized by the opposition to Suntree back in the 1970s.

    The odd thing here is, historically, communities emphasized senior housing to satisfy affordable housing goals, because they tended to reinforce the pre-existing racial and class demographics of a community, thus alleviating this anxiety, and there were even lawsuits over this practice in the 1970s, but now, from what you are saying, even senior housing presents too many challenges for the existing residents to deal with in the absence of some kind of pass law.

    –Richard Estes

  42. In consequence, we have developers driving how many schools to build, instead of enrollment projections.

    Indeed, this is not a good thing, except as is becoming obvious, the enrollment projections were erroneous on the high side.

    There may have been the construction money to build these elementary schools, but not the dollars to run them.

    My understanding is that it is illegal to make developers responsible for operational costs, that’s the obligation of the property owners of the city, in this instance, the people who purchase the homes built by the developers. And, I don’t think that they can be required to pay for anything more than their incremental impact on the district, in other words, they can’t be assessed at rates that subsidize pre-existing residents. Perhaps, one of Davis’ self-educated planning and zoning authorities can clarify and correct my understanding as required.

    But there is a more disturbing implication in this sort of analysis, which is the failure to acknowledge that government has an obligation to provide universal education to everyone, regardless of their socioeconomic status.

    Accordingly, the notion that developments can be approved or rejected besed upon their financial impact on school district operations is an indirect way for a community to abandon this obligation, and for this reason, as well as the racial and class bias that tends to be associated with this practice (for example, refusing to approve developments for lower middle income and lower income people, sometimes with a distinct racial profile), it is illegal for a city or county to consider it, at least that’s my recollection. Legal Services of Yolo County would know best, as I believe that they have educated local officials on this subject in the past.

    The same thing is beginning to happen with senior housing. Developers are trying to use the need for senior housing to gain a toehold where previously they could not build. We end up with senior housing unsuitable for the elderly here in Davis, which should be our primary concern first and foremost.

    You don’t like the Eleanor Roosevelt project, and I’m not going to defend that particular development.

    But, to the extent that state and federal funds and tax credits are being utilized to subsidize such projects, they cannot impose residency requirements, they must be open to everyone on the basis of objective criteria. In other words, someone from Sacramento or Reno or even Denver, must be allowed to submit an application and live there if they satisfy the standards, otherwise, there are serious statutory and constitutional issues.

    I was always troubled by people who emphasized the notion that affordable housing projects in Davis should be focused upon helping Davis residents first and foremost. I heard it periodically over the years when I lived there, and it seemed to carry with it an alarming subtext, basically that, don’t worry, we aren’t going to build anything that’s going to attract anyone from Sacramento, or, heaven forbid, Oakland or Los Angeles. Can’t have any lower income people with a darker skin complexion frightening the long time residents.

    From what I heard, this was a major theme emphasized by the opposition to Suntree back in the 1970s.

    The odd thing here is, historically, communities emphasized senior housing to satisfy affordable housing goals, because they tended to reinforce the pre-existing racial and class demographics of a community, thus alleviating this anxiety, and there were even lawsuits over this practice in the 1970s, but now, from what you are saying, even senior housing presents too many challenges for the existing residents to deal with in the absence of some kind of pass law.

    –Richard Estes