City of Davis Now Under ‘Builder’s Remedy’

Davis officials have lost the ability the deny a number of development projects that would violate the city’s zoning rules.

The Sacramento Business Journal reported this week that Davis is now under a legal provision known as “Builder’s Remedy” due to having a noncompliant housing element. That means a project with 20% affordable housing can go forward even if it violates the city’s zoning ordinance or general plan. In most cases, city officials would have no authority to reject it.

State law requires local jurisdictions to adopt updated housing element plans every five or eight years. These plans then need approval from the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). Cities and counties that fall out of compliance are subject to the Builder’s Remedy provision.

The plan Davis submitted to HCD was rejected because of the University Commons project, the state explained.

“In accordance with public comment received by HCD, it appears University Commons, a project set to develop 264 units of mixed-income housing will no longer have a residential component,” HCD officials wrote.

“The absence of residential units from this project would require the City to identify additional sites to accommodate a revised shortfall of 485 units of lower-income housing and 227 units of above-moderate housing. The element must be revised to address this shortfall.”

If developers take advantage of the situation, it could result in much needed housing for University of Davis students. However, developers in Northern California have been reluctant to take advantage of the provision so far, UC Davis law professor Chris Elmendorf told KQED.

Read more at the Sacramento Business Journal and the Davis Vanguard.