Measure P: November 2009 Election
Rejected: 75% opposed, 25% in favor
Shall Resolution No. 09-132, amending the Davis General Plan to change the land use designations for the Wildhorse Ranch property from agriculture to residential uses, as set forth in the Resolution and establishing the Base Line Project Features for development of the Wildhorse Ranch Project be approved?"
Politics: Growth Politics, Other 2009 issues: none

Measure P would have approved construction of Wildhorse Ranch. It was a direct result of Measure J and 2009 resolution 09-132 being passed. The measure was rejected by voters 9,465 to 3,201 (74.7% to 25.3%). See the Yolo Elections website for a breakdown of results.

YES website
NO website

This development has been debated in text on and on

You can watch the 2009-09-18 live debate (105 minutes) videotaped by Davis Media Access here or here. also has Bill Buchanan's 30-minute (each) "in the studio" interviews of the Pro and Con sides.

Measure P was endorsed by the Sierra Club, a fact that was oft-mentioned in the "Yes on P" literature.

Ballot Arguments

The following statements were submitted to the Yolo Elections Office and are the official pro and con arguments.

Argument In Favor

Not every new affordable home in Wildhorse Ranch will be painted green. But each home is thoroughly green.

Measure P will bring to Davis a neighborhood of 191 affordable, environmentally responsible homes.

The neighborhood is designed to be affordable so those who work in Davis including our teachers, police and families with children can live in Davis.

Because this project will be a model for sustainable development, not just in Davis but also across the state, our area’s leading environmentalists support Measure P.

Davis can take pride in this project, like the eco-friendly Village Homes 30 years ago.

Measure P’s Wildhorse Ranch neighborhood uses environmentally responsible design and green building practices. Solar panels on every unit will provide nearly all of the project’s power, and the project will exceed by 50% the State’s goals for reducing energy use.

Wildhorse Ranch has designed its solar energy systems to reduce energy consumption to the point that fully 90% of its green house gas emissions are eliminated. Measure P and the Wildhorse Ranch neighborhood:

  • Ensures the majority of the homes are affordable for working families.
  • Dedicates nearly 40% of the neighborhood to open space, including an urban forest.
  • Preserves 67 acres of agricultural land around Davis, helping to create more open space.
  • Provides 100% accessibility apartments for our mobility challenged residents.

This is a community plan. It is the result of a five-year collaboration between the City Council, residents who live near the site, and leaders and activists in Davis.

Davis is a great community in which to live and raise a family. Measure P and Wildhorse Ranch allow us to keep our small-town character while providing much needed affordable and environmentally responsible homes.

Please join in supporting Measure P.

/s/ Tansey Thomas, Community Activist /s/ Stan Forbes, Bookstore Owner/former Davis City Councilmember /s/ Jay Gerber, Business Owner/former President Davis Chamber of Commerce /s/ Pamela S. Nieberg, Environmental Activist /s/ Ken Wagstaff, former Davis Mayor

Rebuttal to Argument In Favor

We stand behind the statements that we made in the Argument against Measure P. We’ve provided verification, documentation, and explanation at

  • Wildhorse Ranch prices are NOT affordable.
  • According to City staff, the least expensive units are 73 townhouses which will sell for $451,000 on average if built in three years.
  • Is $451,000 for an attached townhouse really "affordable" housing?
  • The project that you are voting on does not pay for itself.
  • City costs exceed tax revenues each and every year.
  • "Green" and "sustainable" claims are overstated.
  • Sustainable developments are generally close to jobs, transportation hubs, neighborhood shopping and/or downtown.
  • This project is located on the periphery, far from Davis jobs, shopping, and transportation hubs.
  • A deeply flawed process.
  • This project was rushed onto the ballot in the wee hours of the morning, without a completed development agreement, without adequate Council discussion, and without review by key citizen-based Commissions.
  • We should not approve more housing now.
  • Davis has already satisfied our current State growth target and the more housing we approve now, the more pressure we will have to grow faster in the future since future targets are based on past growth.
  • The development agreement can be changed after election day by future City Council votes.
  • But passage of Measure P ensures that the land designation from agricultural to residential will remain.


/s/ Nora Oldwin, Attorney/Spanish Tutor /s/ Fred Buderi, City Planner /s/ Michelle S. Rasmussen, Registered Nurse - Sutter Davis Hospital /s/ Dennis J. Dingemans, Retired UCD Faculty in Geography /s/ Fraser Shilling, Environmental Science and Policy Researcher at UC Davis

Argument Against

Davis Has Enough Approved Housing For Now:

  • 2,000 units are entitled and unbuilt in Davis and adjacent University property.
  • According to City staff, Davis has over 500 unbuilt units. UC Davis approved 475 houses and 3,000 student beds (1,000 dwelling-unit equivalents) in its massive West Village development.
  • The City has exceeded its current state-issued growth targets.
  • Counting West Village and City-approved housing, Davis will have grown almost 70% since 1988 — hardly slow growth!
  • This project is not needed to address school enrollment.
  • We have 1,000 non-student unbuilt units, most able to accommodate families with children.
  • This project is not unique.
  • West Village is a zero net energy plan, is closer to campus and downtown, while Wildhorse Ranch is located on Davis’ periphery.
  • Most greenhouse gases come from auto emissions, which the developer’s analysis ignored.
  • This project provides no student housing or owner-occupied affordable housing.
  • The least expensive ownership units are $425,000 townhouses.
  • Disgracefully rushed to the ballot by Council after midnight without sufficient analysis.

This Project Will Drain City Finances:

  • According to City staff, Wildhorse Ranch will cost more to service than it will generate in tax revenue each year because the City’s share of property taxes for this project is 11.8%, significantly below the citywide average of 17.5%.
  • The deficit will increase over time, even with the additional $300 CFD fees.
  • According to staff, this project will bring no additional net revenue to the City except for the standard, modest, onetime construction tax.
  • The Impact and Quimby fees only pay for the development’s share of infrastructure costs.
  • Wildhorse Ranch compares unfavorably to the recently-approved Verona and Chiles Ranch projects. Verona contributed $12,000 per market-rate unit, plus standard fees; Wildhorse Ranch requires no such contributions. HELP SLOW PERIPHERAL SPRAWL. 2000 UNBUILT UNITS ARE ENOUGH FOR NOW!! Vote No. /s/ Philip G. King, Chair, Economics, SFSU 2003-6 /s/ Mark Siegler, Chair, Finance and Budget Commission, 2003 - 2006 /s/ Bob Hagedorn Chair Planning Commission 2003 /s/ Pamela Gunnell, Former Chair, Planning Commission /s/ Sue Greenwald, Davis City Councilmember, Mayor 2006-2008

Rebuttal to Argument Against

Wildhorse Ranch: Green and Affordable.

Davis needs affordable housing so that people who work in Davis can live in Davis. Wildhorse Ranch is designed to yield maximum benefits to Davis workers who want environmentally-friendly housing.

There are 191 homes at Wildhorse Ranch.

  • 40 apartment homes, affordable to low-income families.
  • 78 townhomes from $350,000 to $450,000.
  • 73 single-family homes from $450,000 to $550,000.
  • The more expensive homes are similar to housing offered only to University employees at West Village.

The claim that 2000 units are entitled and unbuilt in Davis is misleading. 1,025 of those “units” are University on-campus student housing proposed for West Village. The 475 homes the University plans on campus are restricted solely to University employees. Of the alleged 500 units approved in the city, the only project currently moving forward is Chiles Ranch at 108 units.

The project pays for itself. According to an independent fiscal analysis and confirmed by staff, the project results in net fiscal benefi ts of approximately $4 million over the 15-year analysis period, providing a reliable annual source of funding for city services — something no other Davis project has done.

Wildhorse Ranch is the only project with 90% GHG reductions and energy savings that are a guaranteed part of the baseline features contained in Measure P that cannot be changed without voter approval.

Please join leading environmentalists, community activists, your friends and neighbors in voting for Yes on Measure P.


/s/ Mark Braly, Chair, Davis Planning Commission /s/ Carolyn Hinshaw, Neighborhood Activist /s/ Eric Nelson, Neighborhood Activist /s/ Alan Pryor, Environmental Activist/Director, Yolo Clean Air /s/ Maynard Skinner, former Davis Mayor

Campaign propaganda

(WTF does kissing babies and picture of an old barn have to do with approving a housing development?) Not to mention the red tree labeled "really green".

What do you think about Davis Measure P?

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I just got a mailer for yes on P, it's the slickest mailer I've seen since target (which I saw a TV spot for) and covell village . Nice full color photos with a theme about barn raising. If these houses are so affordable howcome me and my friends (all from Davis) can pool our money and resources and still not be even close to getting one of these homes? They claim teachers will be able to afford these $400,000 houses.

Another thing, what exactly is green about this project? Shame on the Sierra club for selling out and endorsing these, I would love to see what they used to come to the conclusion they did. —StevenDaubert

  • I think a 90% Greenhouse Gas reduction above current city of Davis standards is pretty green. Also, unit pricing will start ~$350K. -M.

    • From the Yes on P website: "78 townhomes will range in price from $350,000 to $450,000, with an average price of $425,000.". If the average is above the midway point ($400k), guess which end of the spectrum the majority of the units will be priced at? Not affordable at all for Davis residents, maybe commuters. The 90% GHG reduction does not take into account the automobiles. Keep in mind passenger automobiles are the number one source of GHG in California and by no stretch of the imagination does WHR become a walkable area. - GregWebb

  • Don't most organizations dedicated to saving the environment just sign off on whatever sounds good? —hankim

2009-10-14 22:09:27   I have yet to hear a good reason why this project shouldn't go through. It's affordable, it's green, and I think the people against it are trying to mislead the public to keep their home values high. I got into an argument with one of them at the farmer's market when she said there were 2000 homes scheduled to be built already that I could buy. Not true! Over 1000 of those "homes" are for students and faculty... not for the open public. Then she went on to say that because of this, more homes would be available for sale since those people would be taking the University housing. I don't think so. I think measure P is a great idea and I hope it passes. —Aaron.Curtin

  • I don't see the logical flow from "not for the open public" to your denial that homes for University people would make more available in the City for the rest of us. I know there are no perfect markets, but if there's a quantity of homes on the market and some people who would otherwise demand them are sated by buying West Village homes ... it seems to me that demand goes down, and so prices are moderated. (I can't see any basis for saying failure of Measure P would cause others to take houses off the market.) This is just a simple model and not reflective of all other factors. But here is one of the other factors: on my (long) street, there's one bank-owned home for sale, and another offered by the owners as a "short sale" (they don't expect to get as much as they owe). Prices haven't fallen to Woodland or Stockton levels, but they are down, in part because of repos and short sales. So, Aaron, you can still think that Wildhorse Ranch is a good idea, but I think what you wrote about your discussion doesn't reflect clear reasoning. (A short comment, though, isn't always the best way to explore everything that went into making up your mind.) —DougWalter

    • I left a short comment with a VERY brief breakdown of my view on the subject. I could write enough to make your eyes bleed in reference to the housing market in Davis. The homes made available to University staff are generally subsidized by the University (ie. University housing provided next to Davis Commons), thus making those homes separate from the general market, and should not be considered when used in reference to housing availability in Davis. I would assume the same programs would be used in the newer University housing, but I could be wrong, and my entire argument with that poor lady at the market was unfounded. But I'm just saying that "I think Wildhorse Ranch would be good for Davis." That's my personal opinion. No housing project is perfect, I realize that, but you have to look at the big picture... yes University housing would leave more homes available for the "general public", but whats wrong with more being built in another location? Hmm!?... what"s the "real" problem/issue people have with these homes being built? We all have something to loose or gain from the project. I just think its selfish for someone to try and dictate their ideas and lead others to there cause for personal gain. You're more than welcome to come to see me at my shop and try to convince me that this would be a horrible thing for Davis. —Aaron.Curtin

      • I already welcomed you to your opinion, because this isn't the sort of thing everyone will agree upon. I completely disagree with your first bolded statement. —DougWalter

  • A good reason the project shouldn't go through is that we don't need to develop more land to build more housing units in Davis. I'm actually in favor of increasing the population of Davis, but I'd prefer to see it done by increasing the density of the downtown area. This sounds like a great project once you accept expanding the city limits. I just don't think that we should be expanding the city limits right now. —MattCzarnowski

2009-10-15 14:10:34   Aaron.Curtin—thank you for saying what needs to be said. I live in Wildhorse and have been to the meetings residents have held. The real reason, unstated to the public, has to do with people's unfounded fear of their loss of property value. This project has been negotiated, discussed, and will be a boon to Davis and the local economy. —GWHayduke

2009-10-16 22:09:53   The pro and con sides seem to be talking at crossed purposes. The Yes side is saying "This is a wonderful plan", while the No side is saying "It doesn't how good the plan is, we don't need more development." While it's true that the MOST ecological thing you can do is TO DO NOTHING, people will build homes somewhere, so perhaps the issue becomes whether we want the homes in/near Davis or want them built elsewhere. If they live in a "less green" house elsewhere, the global impact may be worse (although possibly better for Davis). If you could vote on something good for the planet, but bad for Davis, would you? Should you? —SteveDavison

  • "People will build homes somewhere." Actually, I think that's a part of the crux of this election: if the Federal government weren't working so very hard to prop up the housing market, mortgage market, and construction industry, almost no one would be building any houses anywhere in this country right now. Our country is running a huge budget deficit to avoid economic collapse, in large part to cushion the deflation in housing prices. That's why 2000 homes (already approved) might well be enough for quite a while. But perhaps we're on the verge of another real estate boom: wanna bet? If so, vote yes on P, as the town will get ahead of the surge in demand. —DougWalter

2009-10-16 22:20:06   RE: Affordability: I'm not sure the developers have that much control over the matter. It's mainly market forces. Imagine they sold them for $50,000 each. They would be snapped up quickly by a few lucky people, but unless you were one of those, that wouldn't do you any good. Let's say instead, they were going to build homes worth that much: single rooms with a bathroom, a stove, space for a microwave and a refrigerator, and a couple lightbulbs. If that's what enough people want, they could get city council to allow that, and builders would build that. I doubt people want that though. —SteveDavison

  • There's a difference between stand-alone homes and tiny efficiencies. I see no reason they couldn't be building condos/townhomes that would end up being priced in the $250k range. While still quite a bit of money, that might actually be considered 'affordable housing' in Davis. Another option might be something like duplexes, where the initial purchaser buys the entire building, but can rent half of it out. Another version of 'affordability'. —MattCzarnowski

2009-10-21 00:22:53   Will they meet the Living Building Challenge? Will the buildings be LEED Certified (at least to the lowest level)? Will they have solar PV AND solar water heating? Will they have rainwater collection systems? Will there be graywater (i.e. used shower water) reuse provisions (such as watering nearby trees)? Will there be areas for compost piles? Chicken coops? Gardens (instead of lawns)? Native drought-tolerant plants? Edible landscaping (like Village Homes)? Will they be OTG (Off-The-Grid)? Will they be plumbed with separate drinking and irrigating water supplies? Will they have sufficient skylights to make daytime lighting unnecessary? Questions to ask... —SteveDavison

  • Not sure about the LEED Certification, but if you read the pro page, they do have solar panels and drought-tolerant plants. —hankim

    • Apparently they're Build It Green (an alternative spec.) instead of L.E.E.D. This house spent $6K on energy saving and saves $7K/year (so it says on the bottom of the page). There's even a TV show about "green" houses. If you think either Village Homes or this plan is revolutionary, take a look at this. —SteveDavison

      • Just FYI, the LEED certification is intended for commercial buildings, not residential. The fact that they're using Build It Green isn't some shady attempt to not be LEED but still look "green," but is rather the normal course of business in the "green" new housing market. Edit: It looks like I'm wrong, never mind. Are the LEED housing standards somewhat new?—wl

        • I asked at the Farmer's Market and the developer told me that they had applied for LEED for housing which is new. However, LEED certification cannot be awarded until after the architectural plans are finalized, which will not be done until after the project is approved by Measure P—ZeldaKPotsdam

2009-10-26 23:25:39   Does anybody have a copy of the latest "Chia House" three page flyer that just came in the mail? —KemblePope

2009-10-27 00:26:07   What are the prices of other houses around Davis?

I agree - $400,000 is not "affordable housing", at least not unless it is subsidized somehow. To afford a typical mortgage on a $400,000 house, while maintaining healthy finances, a family would need an income of around $160,000 per year. (This assumes that they aren't putting down a large chunk of the home value as a down payment.) That's probably not realistic for most Davis residents. Of course, someone could spend a much higher proportion of their income on housing that expensive while making less. But they would be putting themselves in financial jeopardy by doing so. —IDoNotExist

  • Can you provide any source or breakdown for that 160k / 400k? I've been in the Bay Area for about 12 years now, and 400k doesn't really seem like much in terms of cost, but an income of 160k is surely surprising. -ES

2009-11-01 14:03:10   I really don't know enough of the measure to have a strong opinion either way, because I'm just now beginning my research. I've only read what the Yes on P people say, but I don't really get it. The environmentally-friendly bits are good, but I don't see how taking over land to build more stuff is really environmentally friendly. The website says it can't be used for farming—I doubt that's true. Maybe not to make a profit, but someone could farm there, or plant trees, or something more environmentally friendly! The numbers they give are far from affordable—I say this as a student teacher who, in a few years, will begin to make less than $30,000 a year, so a $400,000 home is far from affordable. I mean, they say police officers and teachers will have more affordable houses, so how come they're not quoting any police officers or teachers endorsing the bill? They do say that there is "very low income" housing, but they don't give any numbers on who qualifies and how much they'll pay. Also, I don't see the point in paying several hundred thousand dollars for a townhome when you can get a townhome apartment for a lot more affordable prices in Davis. My last point is that they're saying there isn't enough housing in Davis. Are apartments overcrowded? Nope. There are several apartments around mine that are absolutely empty, and I swear this isn't my fault. If someone really wanted to live in Davis, they'd have places to live—and for much, much cheaper, and MUCH closer to their jobs in Davis.

My current stance is a no on Measure P. Feel free to change my mind! —KarinaSummers

  • Maybe I can clarify one point: the land is zoned for agriculture and is currently used for a horse ranch. " can't be used for farming" I believe means two things: first, that the neighbors on Caravaggio Drive would protest the use of any equipment on the site, and that the land was designated as open space when the main Wildhorse development went in. The conversion of this open space to housing is one of the points of opposition to W. Ranch in the Wildhorse neighborhood (although I'm sure they're not unanimous). —DougWalter

  • The land cannot be used for farming because agricultural laws require 100 ft of buffer space between the adjacent development and cultivated land. Because the land backs up directly to the Wildhorse neighborhood on Caravaggio Drive, once that 100 ft buffer was in place all around, only 2 of the 25 acres of the plot could be farmed. According to the last UC Davis housing survey, the vacancy rate for apartments in Davis was 0.8%. The average vacancy rate for most cities is about 30%. That's why they argue there is not enough housing in Davis.—ZeldaKPotsdam

2009-11-03 10:24:52   This probably should've been the featured page today, and yet we're stuck on possums. —EliYani

2009-11-03 20:51:42   Election Night update: This failed. By a lot. —JerseyCity