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Davis

Davis, California

Saturday, September 18, 2021

City staff discusses future senior housing plans

Despite the failure of the Measure P Wildhorse Ranch housing development, the City of Davis is still working on future housing plans.

Yet, city staff’s new senior housing plan has some concerned that the plans are too restrictive concerning age.

In June, the City Council directed staff to devise a strategy for housing seniors in Davis. The plan includes age-restricted housing, which requires units to be occupied by persons of a specified age.

Last week, the staff presented the Social Services Commission and Senior Citizen Commission with its report.

Social Services Commission member Eric Gelber, who worked for Disability Rights California, said the proposal should not be focused on senior housing exclusively.

“It would be okay to have housing that’s accessible to seniors, but it’s discriminatory to exclude others in need of housing from any new housing plan,” Gelber said. “We need more general housing strategies that are inclusive.”

Councilmember Sue Greenwald agreed with Gelber but believes the city’s needs do not match up with the staff’s plan.

“I fear the staff report is too developer-driven [by the Covell Village partners],” Greenwald said. “I hope the staff discussion will be broadened, so that there is less of a focus on suburban housing and more on condominiums with multi-age housing closer to downtown. I think seniors really want the option of less suburban-type housing.”

The report considers three different strategies.

The first recommends building 1,000 age-restricted units over 20 years, with an average of 50 units per year. It is based on two factors – a one percent growth rate, assuming student population living in Davis stays constant and assumes 15.3 percent of seniors are interested in age-restricted housing.

The second strategy proposes 150 units for continuing care, 50 for independent living, 100 for assisted living, 50 for subsidized senior apartments and 500 for active adult residents.

The third suggests adopting “Guidelines for Housing That Serves Seniors and Persons with Disabilities,” which was developed by the SSC and SCC for age-restricted and general housing.

Social Services member Dan Wolk applauded the city staff for addressing senior housing but stressed these plans should be considered as a “conversation starter.”

George Hague, vice chair to the SSC, said new plans could include senior utility subsidies and loans for renovations.

Choices for Healthy Aging’s Don Villarejo disagreed with the growth projections presented by city staff derived from census data and the Bay Area Economic Estimate during the SSC meeting.

“In my professional opinion, based on my experience in epidemiology and demography, this report seriously underestimated the future growth in population of Davis residents age 55 and over,” Villarejo said. “The evidence upon which I base this assessment is that the actual annual average compounded rate of growth of this age group in Davis as determined from census data from 2000 and 2006-2008 is about twice as large as the Bay Area Economic Estimate.”

Villarejo said the actual growth rate for age 55 and over is approximately 6 percent, while the BAE report suggests it is 3 percent.

He said the surveys need to ask people if they plan to remain in their home, instead of asking which type of housing they plan to live in.

Bob Wolcott, Principal Planner for the Davis Community Development Department said City Council is not conducting a new housing survey of Davis seniors’ plans, preferences, concerns and needs related housing because of time impacts and costs.

Wilcott said that the historical growth of the age 55 and over age groups should influence to a greater extent the projections developed by BAE for 2010 to 2030.

In December, City Council will consider recommendations with public input and adopt a resolution to be voted on in January.

The city recommends DJUSD, Kennedy Place, Nugget Fields, Sweet Briar Drive, Downtown, PG&E, Corporation Yards and Civic Center Fields for development, although Cannery and Covell Village are possible sites as well.

ANGELA SWARTZ can be reached city@theaggie.org.

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