John Whitcombe is a lifelong resident of Davis. He was born and raised in Davis with sister Nancy Roe by local farmer, beekeeper and former Mayor Harry J Whitcombe and his wife Marie Whitcombe. Whitcombe attended public schools and was the senior class president while attending Davis High School. He then graduated from UC Davis and Harvard Business School.

Whitcombe began his professional career as a local Apprentice Carpenter and went on to create housing projects at the forefront of environmentally conscious planning in Davis. In the late 1970’s Whitcombe and his partners created the first active and passive solar apartment complex (Suntree Apartments) in Davis and founded Trident Energy Systems, a solar energy company. Along with his brother-in-law Bill Roe and Paul Makley, Whitcombe is one of the founding partners of Tandem Properties, which now manages 14 apartment complexes in Davis and Woodland. He unsuccessfully ran for the Davis City Council in the 1970s and was one of the seven partners that proposed the development of Covell Village in 2005.

A long-time leader in local home building, Whitcombe was instrumental in crafting part of Davis’ famous bike path system while integrating greenbelts and new wildlife habitat within for-sale, single family residential development throughout North Davis. For his work, he has received the City of Davis’ Environmental Recognition Award, the Partners for a Cleaner Davis Award and the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Waste Reduction Award.

Whitcombe and his wife Judy raised two children in Davis, Joe Whitcombe and Sandy Whitcombe. The Whitcombe children are also raising their children in Davis, making John Whitcombe's grandchildren 4th generation Davisites. The Whitcombes enjoy fishing in a private pond (there is a deep part in the very center where all the fish congregate, I rode my bike in it when it was being built Daubert) next to their home in far North Davis, which is adjacent to another of John's accomplishments, the Perimeter Greenbelt.