Sunday Commentary: Downtown Plan Has Some Good Options, however It Gained’t Remedy Our Housing Disaster

Sunday Commentary: Downtown Plan Has Some Good Options, however It Gained’t Remedy Our Housing Disaster
Sunday Commentary: Downtown Plan Has Some Good Options, however It Gained’t Remedy Our Housing Disaster

By David M. Greenwald
Government Editor

Davis, CA – This week the Davis Metropolis Council lastly—emphasis on lastly—accepted the Downtown Plan.  Even taking into account the pandemic, it is a course of that started in 2018.  We are able to now lastly transfer to what figures to be an much more contentious Normal Plan replace.

I stay involved concerning the well being and vitality of the downtown.  This plan might be not going to unravel these issues—however for essentially the most half it permits metropolis authorities to on the very least get out of the way in which of at the very least a few of them.

As Sustainable Progress Yolo famous in a tweet earlier this week, the plan consists of: “upzoning sections as much as 7 tales,” “elimination of parking minimums” and “form-based codes for by proper approval.”

They known as this a very good begin and remarked, “Hopefully they will contemplate these concepts metropolis vast quickly.

“That is getting in the best course however doesn’t go far sufficient,” they tweeted earlier than the vote.

I’ve a couple of issues right here—as I’ve famous.

Basically I feel we’ve an enormous quantity of area that’s underutilized within the downtown.  I do know lots of people fear that there are going to be a ton of very tall buildings within the downtown that can detract from the small city really feel.

I feel they need to most likely fear concerning the vacant retailer fronts and declining retail base within the downtown undermining the character of the core space of this group.

Furthermore, this isn’t going to be a fast and fast transformation.  Actually, I ponder how possible any sort of redevelopment goes to be given the prices of building.  I saved asking metropolis workers and council members if we will even construct housing within the core, and so they saved insisting that we will and that there are candidates able to suggest initiatives as quickly because the plan is finalized.  We will see.

As I’ve famous quite a few instances in the previous couple of months, the professional formas performed by Bay Space Economics should not encouraging.  Solely dense initiatives with owner-occupied items appear to pan out financially for builders, and that was in 2018.  We all know that the economics and prices are far worse now than they have been 4 years in the past.

It was encouraging to listen to Vice Mayor Will Arnold, who can be mayor subsequent month, remind the group that we’re in a housing disaster.

Nevertheless it was discouraging that many on the council advised me that they acknowledge that, with the group reluctance to construct on the periphery, we’ve to go dense within the core.

That sounds good, however as we all know from the plans—we’re actually taking a look at about 1000 or so items within the downtown if totally constructed out, most likely over the following 20 years.

Throughout the marketing campaign, Former Councilmember Dan Carson famous, “We’re nearing completion of a brand new plan for our downtown that can add 1000 market charge and different varieties of items for about 2200 folks over time.”

That sounds good—once more, if constructed.  However that 1000 market charge items represents solely about half the required allotment over the following RHNA cycle.  Whereas we’re superb at this level for market charge items, it illustrates that whereas the downtown is an effective supply for housing items, it’s additionally not a recreation changer.

Extra regarding is the 930 low- and really low-income unit allocation within the RHNA this cycle.

The town is required to construct 580 very low and 350 low-income items for a complete of 930 low-income items.  Within the pipeline, town lists 284 very low and 37 low-income items.  They’re additionally planning on 83 further items at vacant or underutilized websites and 54 ADUs to create a complete capability of 458 or 472 in need of the requirement.

As famous within the housing factor, “the Metropolis of Davis has a shortfall of 472 items to accommodate its lower-income RHNA (930 items). Per State legislation, the Metropolis should rezone land inside three years of the Housing Factor adoption deadline that permits at the very least 30 items per acre with a minimal density of 20 items per acre.”

However maybe we ought to be skeptical of even that 472 shortfall quantity.  Of the 83 items at vacant and undertilized websites, town is counting on downtown redevelopment for all of them.

I’m nonetheless not satisfied that we will get to 930 this cycle.  However even when we do, we’d have an even bigger drawback subsequent cycle.

Metropolis Supervisor Mike Webb, as I’ve famous beforehand, is much less optimistic concerning the subsequent RHNA cycle.

“The subsequent Housing Factor cycle, that’s the place the group will must be reengaged,” Webb acknowledged.  “I don’t see us infilling our technique to a Housing Factor subsequent time.”

There are some folks I feel who’re relying on the state to not be capable of implement what they contemplate to be unrealistic housing numbers.  From town perspective, they actually can’t depend on that.

And even when they will, town council understands that we do have a housing disaster, not solely statewide but additionally on this group.  Group members have constantly cited lack of affordability in housing as a high drawback dealing with this group.  What they’re really keen to do about it’s an open query and is driving a part of what the dialogue ought to be going ahead.