It’s Been an L of a Debate

“Battle lines drawn at Measure L forum,” said a recent headline in The Davis Enterprise.

“L YES!” said the campaign button that landed unsolicited in my mailbox.

As always, nothing comes easy in Davis, especially if you’re in the business of building homes.

“Few issues produce as much discord in the city of Davis as housing developments, and the West Davis Active Adult Community — Measure L on the November ballot — is no exception,” said the opening paragraph under Anne Ternus-Bellamy’s byline.

“That new development would provide up to 560 dwelling units, including for-sale, single-family detached homes, cottages, bungalows, stacked flats and apartments ranging in size from 1,000 to 1,800 square feet. Eighty percent of the units would be restricted to households that include at least one resident 55 years of age or older.”

As much as I love kids, I love seniors, too, and I have absolutely no problem with the occasional development being restricted largely to those of a certain age if that’s where they wish to live.

In addition to the age restriction, folks with ties to Davis in some way will move to the front of the line when it comes to purchasing one of the homes.

“It’s exclusionary,” claim opponents to the project, pointing to both the age restriction and the Davis connection.

Adds Ternus-Bellamy’s story, “A Sacramento attorney has filed suit over that aspect of the project, arguing it perpetuates the city’s racial imbalance and discriminates against minorities given that the city is a ‘largely white community’ to begin with.”

I’ll agree that long ago Davis was very much a “largely white community,” but that’s hardly the case anymore.

According to the most recent U.S. Census estimates released in July of 2017, the “white” population of Davis stands at 63.9 percent compared to 72.4 percent for California as a whole.

As for UC Davis, which pretty much dominates the city, the student body is just 25 percent “white,” behind “Asian/Pacific Islander” at 33 percent and just head of “Hispanic” at 22 percent. The faculty, however, is 59.3 percent white.

We’re also hearing claims that the project will be built on prime AG land, which is pretty much the case with every home in Davis.

Apparently, there will be a worldwide shortage of alfalfa if the project is allowed to go forward.

When attempts to portray the developer as an ageist or a racist fell flat, opponents seized on the word “active” in the project title as “insensitive” to those seniors who might not be as physically able as other seniors.

They even produced a condemnatory letter from the Fair Housing Council of Orange County, and don’t you just love it when Southern Californians lecture us about what we ought or ought not do in Davis?

The letter claims that the term “active” in the name “may tend to imply that people with disabilities may not be welcome.”

I realize that straws are illegal in Davis, but that’s what these folks are grasping at.

“The use of the term ‘active’ is already far too commonplace in connection with senior housing,” the letter goes on.

“While thus far it has not been found to be discriminatory per se, fair housing organizations such as ours discourage housing developers and operators from utilizing the term ‘active senior living’ or other descriptions to that effect.”

Wow. Talk about getting on a high horse and wagging a finger of shame at good and decent people who don’t deserve such hostility.

Ironically, it’s the folks bringing these charges who have a warped sense of what the word “active” means in reference to their fellow citizens.

Would they really say that Stephen Hawking was not “active?” Or Franklin Delano Roosevelt? Or Mother Teresa? Or, for heaven’s sake, my own mom and dad?

I’d submit that those people were the very definition of “active” almost until the day they died, no matter what physical challenges they may have faced along the way.

Yes, they probably couldn’t play pickle ball in their final years, but there’s no doubt they would have been welcomed as cherished and indeed “active” residents of the West Davis Active Adult Community.

— Reach Bob Dunning at