Last November, Davis voters did something somewhat unexpected: With 56 percent voting yes, this notoriously anti-growth community approved Measure L to accommodate the development of 74 acres of agricultural land for the West Davis Active Adult Community.
Developer Taormino & Associates stated the project will serve current Davis residents, with 410 market-rate units and about 150 apartments reserved for low-income seniors, and 80 percent of the units for households with at least one resident over age 55. The community will include single-story homes and apartments, along with a health club and restaurant open to the public, walking and bike paths, and a vegetable garden.
“We supported the West Davis Active [Adult] Community in concept because of the significant affordable housing portion of the project that includes wraparound services that will help lower-income older adults to remain in their home with proper supports,” says Sheila Allen, executive director of the Yolo Healthy Aging Alliance. “Also, housing of all types that are universally designed and accessible to allow persons to age in place are needed in our community.”
The Capital Region may need more senior housing, but that doesn’t mean an automatic stamp of approval for these projects, as the Sacramento City Council demonstrated last September by voting down the proposed Luther Drive Senior Apartments in south Sacramento. The project included 24 rental units on a lot smaller than 1 acre.
The council argued that the project was too dense and the site not close enough to shopping, transit and other services. To move forward, the project would need to be reduced to six single-family units or 16 apartments. But architect and developer Robert Pecora said he has been working on the project for several years and needs the higher number of units to make it pencil out.
“There’s no doubt we need housing,” said Councilman Larry Carr, who represents the district, during the council meeting. “We all agree on that. But we need the right kind of housing. … The project is simply too dense for that lot.”
Vice Mayor Steve Hansen said that although he supports Pecora’s efforts to build housing, the “fact that this site is zoned [single-family residential] says a lot to me about what the community wanted when we were doing our General Plan,” and this project goes against those wishes. “I am a happy YIMBY supporting housing projects because we need that, but they also have to be done in a way that’s respectful and works with the community.”
In August 2017, Newcum moved into Prairie City Landing in Folsom, a senior living facility opened by developer Tenfold Senior Living earlier that year. Newcum, now 89 years old and a widow, says she was used to “being independent and doing my own thing,” but she didn’t feel nervous about the transition. She says she had found a welcoming place that, unlike many other retirement facilities, is alive with energy.
As aging baby boomers approach their golden years, new senior living projects are springing up to accommodate to increased demand and offering a new take on “aging with grace.”