Wildhorse Ranch

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Location
North of East Covell Blvd., at Monarch Lane
Area
25.8 acres
Owner
Parlin Development
Websites
[WWW]http://www.parlindevelopment.com/wildhorse.html Parlin Development
[WWW]http://cityofdavis.org/cdd/projects/wildhorse City

Wildhorse Ranch is a 25.8 acre horse ranch on the outskirts of Davis. It is located just north of East Covell Boulevard and Monarch Lane, east of the Wildhorse area. The land has a City of Davis General Plan designation of Agriculture and is zoned Planned Development #3-89, which allows for horse husbandry and farming.

Wildhorse Project

In 2009 Parlin Development proposed to develop Wildhorse Ranch to include 73 single-family homes, 78 townhomes, and 40 apartments for a total of 191 homes. Notably, all these homes would be solar-powered and no gas piping would be run. In addition, the proposal provided for a 4.4-acre urban forest and extensions of the city's already-existing greenbelts and bike paths. Because the land is zoned for use as a horse ranch or a farm, re-zoning is subject to a Measure J vote by the public. There was an earlier proposal in 2004 to develop the land as well but it was ultimately rejected.1 The proposal went on the ballot as Measure P in the 2009-11-03 election. The 2009-11-03 Measure P vote, failed to pass.

Pro Argument

[WWW]Yes-on-P website

The greenhouse gas emissions of the housing will be reduced 90% when compared to mean Davis housing. This will be accomplished through extensive use of photovoltaic solar cells on roofs and parking covers, insulation, passive heating, passive cooling and solar orientation.

Further environmental mitigation will be provided on site by bioswales and porous cement to filter stormwater runoff. Off-site mitigations include a 75 acre (3:1 exchange) agricultural easement set aside in the county. This easement is also prime foraging habitat for Swainson's Hawks and lies in the main migratory flyway.

The project exceeds the 2005, Title 24 State Energy Conservation standard for new homes by 50%.

The National Sierra Club endorsed Measure P for being a compact development with a small carbon footprint.

The Wildhorse Ranch project is designed to attract young families by virtue of its relative affordability. Townhouses will range from $350K to $450K, while single family houses will range from $450K to $550K. This means that a family with a combined income of eighty thousand dollars could qualify for one of the townhouses. The 40 apartments will be designated for low income and very low income families, rent will be controlled by the City of Davis.

Wildhorse Ranch would help Davis schools' declining enrollment by bringing in young families and by providing affordable housing for teachers. The project is intended to allow people who work in Davis to live in Davis, reducing commute times and traffic. Davis only has a 1% vacancy rate, and most of this already low vacancy rate is attributable to students.

Traffic impact within Davis has been assessed by the city's EIR to be negligible and the addition of the Monarch/Covell stoplight could even potentially reduce traffic congestion for the city. Furthermore, Measure P has been assessed by the city to be fiscally neutral.

The project has been in development for over 5 years through 21 meetings with neighbors, community leaders, city officials, city commissions and city council. All apartments are handicap accessible and some homes are designed to be visitable.

Con Argument

[WWW]No-on-P website.

Summary of arguments against Measure P, from an op-ed by Philip King, Nora Oldwin, and Mark Siegler:

The project is not smart growth and does not provide affordable, for-purchase housing for Davis residents. Furthermore, it proceeded only as the result of a deeply flawed public process, and the project will set a bad fiscal precedent because the developer contributes so little to offset future deficits.

With university, state, and other workers taking pay cuts, and the highest unemployment rates in 70 years, California’s economy may stagnate for years, worsening Davis’ already gloomy fiscal outlook and its housing market. There are already 2,000 approved units in Davis and UCD’s West Village, which are still unbuilt. We have no current need to approve more housing.

Davis has already met its state-issued growth target through 2013, including providing 26% more low and very low income affordable housing than required by the state. Davis has also exceeded the 2010 population target of 64,000 from our 2001 General Plan.

After fifteen years, the project will run significant and increasing deficits, even within the context of the City’s optimistic fiscal model. For example, this model assumes that the sales tax override and parks tax are renewed, housing appreciation of more than 70% over fifteen years, housing turnover three times faster than has ever occurred before, and no future pension rate increases.

At a minimum, Davis residents who are truly interested in sustainability should insist on fiscal neutrality over the project’s lifetime, not only for an arbitrary limit of fifteen years. Developers reap handsome profits from projects. Why should Davis residents be stuck holding the bill, as they will with this project?

Lack of Affordable Housing

According to City staff, the least-expensive for-sale units are 78 attached townhouses, averaging $451,000 by the time the first units are built. We don’t consider this to be affordable “so that people who work in Davis can live in Davis” as Yes on P claims. According to Ginnie Mae (a federal loan agency), a family must make $125,000 per year to buy a $451,000 townhouse (assuming other debt of $700 per month and $82,000 in cash). In 2008, only 11.4% of Davis households made at least this much. The Housing Element Steering Committee noted that Davis has “very few for-sale housing options . . . for households earning less than $100,000 annually,” and Wildhorse Ranch does little or nothing to address this problem. Surely this is not “really affordable.”

A Deeply Flawed Process

Wildhorse Ranch was rushed to the ballot – at the insistence of the developer – without sufficient analysis. The Planning Commission approved it without a quorum. When the City’s Finance and Budget Commission requested two weeks to examine the just-completed fiscal analysis, its motion was ignored, as were Housing Element Steering Committee recommendations.

The Yes on P ballot statement incorrectly claims that Wildhorse Ranch yields a “$4 million net fiscal benefit.” This statement is simply untrue. In fact, City staff has confirmed that the project barely breaks even for the first fifteen years. After that, it runs significant and ever-increasing deficits.

Comments:

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2009-10-26 23:18:56   Just wondering if anybody is going to upload all of the campaign flyers that have been coming in mail... —KemblePope


2009-10-27 00:02:06   just found most of them here... [WWW]http://daviswiki.org/2009-11-03_Election/Measure_P feels as if the 2009 Measure P info is not collected well, or at least finding the info is counter-intuitive.


2010-03-13 08:57:17   This page needs updating for the "no" election result. —BruceHansen


2010-03-29 14:21:13   Since there's a separate Wiki page for Measure P, maybe the arguments for and against should be removed (or relocated) from this page. This page appears to deal with the property overall, and different projects may be proposed for it in the future. —chrisfmichaels

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