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Davis, California

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

An overdue housing development plan leaves Davis at odds with the state

The city of Davis is at risk of being faced with legal action from the state of California due to the city’s failure to adopt a realistic housing development plan


By HANNAH SCHRADER — city@theaggie.org


The city of Davis is two years overdue in submitting a suitable housing element to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).

The city of Davis made a comment that discussed the status of the housing element.

“The City is collaborating with HCD, and City staff met with the agency this week to get further direction on revisions to the Housing Element,” Sherri Metzker, city of Davis community development director, said in the statement. “Once completed, the new version of the Housing Element will then go through the public hearing process.”

In a letter from the California HCD to Michael Webb, the Davis city manager, in Jan. 2023, the department outlined what needs to be done in order to make Davis once again compliant with state law.

“As this year has passed and Program 1.2 (Rezone Program) has not been completed, the housing element is out of compliance and will remain out of compliance until the rezoning has been completed,” the letter reads.

The department outlined the repercussions the city of Davis could face for their incompliance. Some of the possible consequences of failing to submit a housing development plan include the withholding of critical state funding programs.

“Government Code section 65585, subdivision (l)(1), establishes a minimum fine of $10,000 per month, up to $100,000 per month,” the letter reads. “If a jurisdiction continues to remain noncompliant, a court can multiply the penalties up to a factor of six.”

Former Davis Mayor and current housing development advocate, Robb Davis, said that housing development projects can become more about marketing campaigns than about planning.

“It becomes a marketing campaign to see what could pass the vote,” Davis said. “As opposed to a thoughtful planning process where we can really think about, you know, planning our community.”

Davis is a part of the Davis Community Action Network which is a local organization that advocates for the development of affordable climate friendly housing in the city. Davis talked about the overdue plan that leaves the city of Davis and the California Housing and Community Development at ends.

“I think, with the city right now, they haven’t had it approved because they haven’t demonstrated to the satisfaction of HDC that they can zone sufficient number of properties to meet the targets that have been given to it,” Davis said. “And that’s really where the sticking point is right now.”

Davis shared one of the issues that is delaying the creation of a feasible housing element.

“There was a large development across from the university,” Davis said. “Where the mall is what was put into the housing element with several hundred units of housing, and then the developers came back and said, ‘we can’t build the housing. We just want to build the retail.’ Well, it was still in the housing element and so Legal Services of Northern California filed a, I don’t think it’s a lawsuit but a complaint alleging that correctly. I believe that the housing element was not accurate. So the city has to go back and it has to demonstrate a plan for zoning and a plan for how it’s going to achieve that. The problem is it’s struggling to do that in the current housing element.”

Davis talked about the future of the Davis Community Action Network and anticipated trajectories for the organization.

“I think we’re trying to make a really strong connection,” Davis said. “Between housing and environment, like really connected dots for people about what that looks like. I think we’re also really promoting planning processes that are not marketing campaigns, but are genuine planning of housing that is dense housing, you know, that has affordable within it.”


Written by: Hannah Schrader  city@theaggie.org