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Davis, California

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Editorial: Wildhorse Ranch

Davis residents will be asked to weigh in on only one question this Election Day: Should the Wildhorse Ranch housing development be approved?

Wildhorse Ranch is a 25.8-acre property on Mace Boulevard in East Davis, right next to the existing Wildhorse neighborhood. If voters approve Measure P, the land will be converted from a horse ranch and developers would be allowed to build between 174 and 191 houses, townhomes and apartments.

The California Aggie editorial board endorses a “Yes” vote on Measure P.

Many opponents of Measure P have argued that the project is sprawl and not smart growth.

While the homes may not be absolutely necessary, the fact is there is a set demand for housing in the Yolo County region. Growth will happen no matter what – the question is where and how. Measure P is our chance to decisively influence that question in a way that is sensitive to the environment.

The most notable feature of the project is its design, which would reduce the on-site greenhouse gas emissions to 90 percent below the city’s baseline level. This will be achieved primarily through solar power that will meet most of the project’s energy needs. The project will also include elements aimed at reducing water usage, such as native and drought-tolerant landscaping and water-saving fixtures.

If homes are not built in Davis, they will be built in Woodland or West Sacramento, where developers are not held to the same high environmental standards they are in Davis. The failure of Measure P would represent a missed opportunity to positively influence growth in an environmentally sustainable direction.

The claim that the project is sprawl completely ignores the fact that two enormous suburban housing developments (Wildhorse and Mace Ranch) sit adjacent to the relatively small Wildhorse Ranch property. The sprawl already happened. Wildhorse Ranch would be a model for future sustainable growth.

Measure P opponents have a point that the project is not as affordable as the developer claims it will be. The average price for the cheapest for-sale units is estimated at $451,000. That’s far beyond anything a low-wage worker could afford.

Nonetheless, this is not a good reason to oppose the project. From an economic standpoint, increasing the supply of housing will decrease the average cost of housing citywide. With more housing units available, landlords will have to keep their prices competitive to attract tenants.

Aside from the affordability issue, Wildhorse Ranch is a well-designed project that will meet some of Davis’ housing needs in a sustainable way. Davis voters should take advantage of the opportunity they have to make a positive impact on growth in the city by voting “Yes” on Measure P.

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