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Davis

Davis, California

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Citizens reject Wildhorse Ranch housing project

The Measure P results are in. By a 74.7 to 25.3 percent vote, Parlin Development Company’s project to rezone East Davis’ Wildhorse Ranch from an agricultural area into a housing development failed.

On the Nov. 3 special election, 9,465 residents voted against the measure, and only 3,201 people voted for it.

In July, the city council approved the project, but Measure J requires citizens to vote on whether agricultural land can be converted for urban use.

On the 25.8 acres of land, the development company said it would build 40 apartments for low-income families, 78 town houses ranging from $350,000 to $450,000 and 73 single-family homes, from 1,800 to 2,200 square-feet, in the $450,000 to $550,000 price range.

Voter turnout was 33.1 percent of registered voters, which was slightly below the 35 percent turnout the Yolo County Elections Office expected. There were no precincts in which there were more votes for P than votes against it.

The Yolo County Elections Office’s chief of staff Tom Stanionis said voter turnout was slightly high for a single measure election.

“Turnout was higher than most local elections this year because it was such a controversial election,” Stanionis said. “Also, generally speaking, people in Davis tend to be more active politically and involved in the political process.”

Prior to the election, Davis City Councilmember Sue Greenwald was vocal about her opposition to the measure.

“The magnitude of defeat was surprising, especially because of the amount of money spent on the Yes campaign,” Greenwald said. “It came down to the fact that in a weak economy people want to see how the housing market will settle out before starting to overbuild.”

Tansey Thomas, a Davis community activist and former member of an affordable housing task force, supported the measure. Thomas was also surprised by the wide vote margin.

“No on P people got their message across more effectively than we did,” Thomas said. “Also, many people were fearful of the [building of the] development because of the current economic conditions.”

Masud Monfared, principal of Parlin Development Company, had a more positive outlook on the election results.

“Even though the result of the election is not what we were hoping for, I want to thank everyone who supported us for all of hard work and belief in this project,” Monfared said. “I know that all of you have been working very hard because you care about Davis, the environment and affordability.”

Greenwald believed the current economic conditions influenced the voting outcome.

“This was the right thing to do in this particular economic climate,” Greenwald said. “There was no demonstrated need for housing, as well as the understanding of the fact that building on the periphery of town wouldn’t meet workforce and student needs because building on the periphery leads to more commuters.”

Monfared said there were other positives to the project.

“We still managed to educate a lot people about what responsible development can look like,” Monfared said. “We also helped people to open their minds and consider there are better ways to build and for that I am grateful.”

Though the company said they have no future building plans in line, Monfared still addressed Parlin’s general focus.

“I hope [those who worked on the project] feel good about the work that we have done together,” Monfared said. “I am very appreciative and I know this is just the beginning for Parlin’s new green focus.”

The measure was endorsed by The Sacramento Bee and The Sierra Club.

ANGELA SWARTZ can be reached city@theaggie.org.

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