By Mary Jo Bryan and Don and Merna Villarejo
The Davis City Council has been charged with a big task this fall to help plan and approve The Cannery project, a new residential and commercial neighborhood proposed for the old Hunt-Wesson tomato cannery site in North Davis.
Located within the city limits and not subject to the perils of a Measure J vote, The Cannery will be the last large subdivision approved in Davis for the foreseeable future. With 547 planned housing units, it is large enough to provide something for everyone.
Unfortunately, after more than two years of negotiations with ConAgra representatives, the owner of the property, and Davis City Council members, an agreement has not been reached to provide sufficient acceptable new housing at The Cannery for seniors or people with a disability.
Bowing to pressure by the new city manager and certain members of the City Council to get The Cannery project approved, Davis planning staff have not required the developer or its builder of choice to designate any housing that seniors or people with a disability would find adequate.
Most of the homes planned for The Cannery are on mid-size to large-size lots and are two stories tall. Seniors and people with a disability, along with small families or singles, would like small, single-story, detached homes built on small lots. They’d like something simple with two or three bedrooms and a small back yard with a patio and garden.
The developers have resisted including this product in their plans because it doesn’t maximize their profit. The larger the home they build, the more money they can get for it. A small, single-story home is contrary to their goals, but not contrary to what Davis needs.
Davis is an aging community that needs more and better housing options for its seniors and people with disabilities. If these residents can move out of their existing larger family home and move into a small new home at The Cannery, it not only will provide a better life for the senior, but it will provide a new opportunity for a family to move into the larger family home no longer occupied by the senior.
Seniors and people with a disability are not asking the developers to completely redesign their project. There are areas within the current proposed Cannery plan where the proposed two-story homes on small lots could be converted to small, single-story homes.
We would like to see ConAgra be required to designate 65 small lots for single-story homes. This would greatly increase the livability of the project for seniors and persons with disabilities and is only 65 single-story homes out of 547!
The City Council shouldn’t give into pressure from the developers to provide only the types of housing at The Cannery that the developer wants. The project is large enough to provide something for everyone and it is up to our elected City Council leaders to make it happen.
— The authors are longtime Davis residents.