A new neighborhood will be developed in Davis over the next three years, bringing with it affordable housing and new park space.
The Davis City Council voted on July 29 to approve plans for Verona, an 83-home neighborhood subdivision in East Davis.
“This is one of the larger residential projects we‘ve seen in a few years,” said city manager Bill Emlen.
The homes will be built on a vacant 8.55-acre site at the corner of Fifth Street and Alhambra Drive. That plot of land was listed in a city housing report earlier this year as a prime location for infill development. It is surrounded by single-family residential neighborhoods on three sides and borders Mace Ranch Park to the west.
The homes will be a mix of attached and detached single-family units in a medium-density arrangement. Most of the units will be two stories.
The vote for the project was split 3 to 2, with councilmembers Sue Greenwald and Lamar Heystek opposed.
City staff estimated that the project will have a slightly negative fiscal impact on the city, a fact that was the source of some contention between councilmembers at the meeting.
When construction is complete, Verona will cost the city an estimated $14,000 per year, because the cost of providing more municipal services like law enforcement will outweigh the city‘s income from property taxes and sales taxes.
Greenwald questioned the numbers, saying that she could not vote for the project without seeing a detailed analysis of the impact the new neighborhood will have on the city‘s budget.
Heystek had similar concerns, saying that the fiscal impact may have been underestimated.
“These impacts do not take into account our existing unmet needs with regards to road maintenance and the like,“ Heystek said.
The new homes will bring new vehicles to city streets, creating the need for more spending on road maintenance, he said.
The negative fiscal impact is due in part to the city‘s affordable housing rules, which require that a certain percentage of units be sold at certain rates. Since 38 of the 83 homes will be sold below market rate, the city cannot collect as much property tax as it would if all the homes were sold at market rate.
Verona will provide a “range of housing that we have not seen in terms of pricing,” Emlen said.
Despite the effect on the city‘s budget, the council majority said they still saw the project as a positive addition to the community since it will increase the number of affordable homes in town.
“We would actually have some homes that would be affordable to families that are trying to get a start in this town as a homeowner,“ said Councilmember Stephen Souza. “I think that this is a major public benefit that we have not seen at any point in time under this affordable housing ordinance.“
The project is designed to meet high environmental standards in addition to affordable housing standards.
Homes in Verona will be built with photovoltaic capability, allowing homeowners to more easily implement solar panels in the future. Additionally, part of the land will be given to the city as parkland and greenbelt space.
All construction on the neighborhood will be complete in 36 to 40 months, but the time frame depends on how easily the market absorbs new homes, said developer Bill Heartman.
JEREMY OGUL can be reached at email@example.com.