NEW VALLEY 205
Give Me Shelter!

 

New Valley is brought to you by Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo: the next stage.

We respect and protect our region's natural beauty and precious resources through responsible community planning and development. We are Del Webb: the nation's leading developer of resort-lifestyle communities, and home to more than 11,000 active adults in Northern California.

The Sacramento Area Council of Governments and the Sacramento Region Blueprint Project: choices for our future at sacregionblueprint.org.

New Valley is also made possible in part by the Great Valley Center.

Owning a home: it's the foundation of the American Dream...

"Yeah, we got it!"

...but in the state's fastest growing region that dream could become a nightmare, as subdivisions sprout on prime farmland, and sprawl chokes off our urban centers.

(alarm clock rings)

But the Central Valley is waking up as citizens rise to change the way their communities grow…

"Vote on which scenario you want to work with."

…developers redesign and redefine the Great American Neighborhood…

(buzzsaw whirs)

…and new options unfold for an aging - but active - population.

This is New Valley: Give Me Shelter!


In many ways, growth is good; it's a sign of our region's vitality.

Kevin Starr, State Librarian-Historian: "California is such a creative economy, such a wonderful place to live that literally we're going to have mass migration, continuing mass migration into California from the rest of the United States and from the world."

But popularity has its price…

Hans Johnson, Demographer, PPIC: "The Valley has about 6 million people, and projections are that over the next 40 years that will double to about 12 million people. And that kind of growth rate is really unprecedented for a developed region of the world that is as large as the Central Valley."

That kind of growth poses serious challenges: Will there be enough jobs to go around? Will health care and other essential services keep up? And most importantly: where will those 12 million people live?

Kevin Starr: "Given the growth facing the Central Valley, the next quarter century either will have for us a spectacular coping with the problem or a catastrophe."

A bird's eye view of the Valley suggests we've got plenty of room to grow. But according to the Public Policy Institute of California, appearances can be deceiving...

Paul Lewis, PPIC: "There may be this sense in the Valley that we've got so much land, and we've got so much space to accommodate growth that we don't need to worry about this right now. But turn around in 20 or 30 years and the Valley may be a fairly unpleasant looking place."

These days, the buzzword in the Valley is "smart growth" -- shorthand for neighborhoods designed with density, mobility, and community in mind.

Paul Lewis: "…getting a little more creative about mixing land uses, housing with retail, single-family with multi-family kind of gracefully mixed in, a more walkable community, one that requires people to rely less on the single-occupant automobile."

Now a new project is putting the Central Valley on the cutting-edge of smart-growth planning. But to be successful, it will have to spark a significant shift in how developers, elected officials, and everyday citizens interact.


(horses hooves clip-clopping)

Those who prefer the serenity of rural life often picture the big city like this: a fast-paced metropolis, filled with both hustle and bustle.

But in reality, our larger cities look more like this: with highways that often crawl at an infuriating pace.

Home construction, on the other hand, seems to move at light speed. Suburbs often seem to blossom overnight. And the cause of congestion can often be traced to how those communities are planned.

Mike McKeever, Project Manager, Sacramento Region Blueprint: "We know some things now that we didn't know, at least in a scientific sense. If you want to give people a true option to going everywhere in a car, and often long distances in a car you have to pay attention to what kind of housing you build."

"These are interactive workshops…"

Mike McKeever is the project manager for the Sacramento Region Blueprint, a planning effort led by the Sacramento Area Council of Governments -- or SACOG -- and the civic group Valley Vision. They're hosting a series of workshops that are focused on dealing with growth.

"And what we're going to do is pick one of those scenarios as a group…"

The majority of people packed into this room aren't city planners or officials. They're ordinary citizens concerned by some alarming data: that in the next 50 years the growth problems considered bad now will only get worse.

Mike McKeever: "The base case suggests that some fairly unpleasant things are going to happen. We're going to spend an awful lot of time in cars."

The "base case" is the Blueprint Project's starting point, a forecast that shows reason for concern.

By 2050 the region's population will balloon to 3.6 million people, and the number of homes will more than double, reaching 1.5 million. And, if cities continue to sprawl, a lot more time will be spent right here.

"We didn't want this to be LA, and that's what it's starting to feel like as far as traffic congestion."

So the message is clear: to grow smartly in the future old habits must change.

Mike McKeever: "We built houses with great big yards and fences in between them, and gates that kept people from getting into the house. We tried as hard as we could to build a private society that was very dependant on the automobile."

But the people at SACOG say the worst can be avoided and to convince citizens, they're relying on a technological crystal ball: a computer program that paints multiple pictures of how the future could be.

Mike McKeever: "The whole approach of the Blueprint Project, which is really a central part of it, is this Places Planning software."

The software allows users to virtually speed up time, giving an instant glimpse of how development decisions will impact the Valley. And that access to instant information is influencing many.

Dr. Beverly Scott, General Manager, Sacramento Regional Transit: "I didn't really think that there would be this many people, and it's wonderful. Okay, so it's very engaged, good excellent background information for folks to be able to make really informed decisions."

Mike McKeever: "If you give people reasonable information, and if you treat them with respect, and if you engage them productively in the planning process -- so that they're not at the finish line just opposing what you propose, but it becomes their proposal -- because they've built it."

The proposals creating a buzz at Blueprint workshops all point in the direction of smart-growth, and developers are starting to respond. David Mogavero is known by many in the region as a pioneer for filling in empty urban lots with creative developments.

David Mogavero, Mogavero Notestine and Associates: "We did our first infill development back in the early 1980's, back when nobody in the region was even thinking about doing that sort of thing. And so it's been something that has been at the heart of what we do here for a long, long time."

Mogavero believes the public is hungry for innovative housing projects - and is in some ways a step ahead of their elected officials.

David Mogavero: "I believe that the elected officials in the region have to come to recognize that the sprawl game is up. That the American citizen is no longer going to accept the implications of low density sprawl that they have year after year supported when proposals have come before them. They have to get in tune with the new direction of smart-growth that their citizens are demanding."

Many elected officials are coming to recognize the need for smart-growth. More than 100 officials serve throughout the region, some 30 of whom make up SACOG's Board of Directors. But their smart-growth message is often diluted by local political pressures at home.

"It was my turn."

"Well, they're just calling me a liar."

Welcome to Davis, population 60,000 and growing. With a major university and an interstate to contend with, Davis has a variety of growth issues that stir passions.

"Hi, Sue!"

Sue Greenwald is on the Davis city council, and while she agrees smart-growth is essential she cautions that not all new developments are equal.

Sue Greenwald, Davis City Council Member: "I think you have to be very sensitive to what is a livable community and to make sure that the densification is done in such a way that people voluntarily prefer it. If you try to force people into the kinds of housing that they don't like they will turn around and vote to turn the next cornfield into the kind of housing that they do want."

So what kind of housing do people want? In today's world, does the American Dream has less to do with where you live…and more to do with how you live?

David Mogavero: "The American Dream, I believe, is a wonderful place for their family to live that is within walking distance of a decent school and shops, and services that provides access to jobs."

And those communities can take many forms -- such as Sacramento's Metro Square, a development that shows buyers are interested in smartly built communities. And David Mogavero says the proof is in the sales figures.

David Mogavero: "The sales office opened and within ten hours every unit was sold. The re-sales have been two to three times what the what the original prices were, and that is very clear evidence that the builders in the region are not providing the product that people demand."

So as demand for variety in housing, both local officials and citizens will need to collaborate, deciding not only what smart-growth means for their communities, but also how they should get there. And projects like the Blueprint are providing the essential first step of communication. And as more housing alternatives come on the market, buyers will ultimately be voting for their futures with their pocketbooks.


Like much of the country, the Central Valley has enjoyed a decade-long boom in home construction since the early 90s. But other types of housing failed to keep pace.

Paul Lewis, PPIC: "California had a much lower proportion of units developed as apartments, or condos, or attached units in the 90s than in earlier decades."

The Central Valley has been slow to embrace a key tenet of smart growth: building up rather than out. But even if the Valley isn't ready for high-rises, we can take a smarter approach to building single-family homes.

Paul Lewis: "Small scale, pedestrian orientation…"

Cities throughout the Valley are discovering that a little innovation goes a long way, and buyers are finding a lot to like…both aesthetically and economically.


Donald Grover, Suisun City Resident: "This is my favorite spot. You know, whenever I've got the shop open I can sit here and read a book and look out and watch people walking by, watch the boats. It's just quiet.

Donald Grover has a great view of the waterfront, but that's just one of the benefits of living in this promenade development in Suisun City. It's the project's mixed-use design that's making his dream come true…

Donald Grover: "Well, I think by moving here it's really enabled me to open this shop and realize what I've wanted to do for a long time."

Like all the other homes in this development, Donald's is designed with a small commercial space on the lower level…

Donald Grover: "This is an antiques and collectibles business: a little bit of everything. We have water colors, we have racoo pottery, antique marbles, antique bottles…"

A decade ago residents had no access to the city's waterway, but thanks to the aggressive redevelopment plan, the waterfront is now Donald's front yard -- one part of an overall vision that revitalized the city while curbing urban sprawl. But the first phase was convincing skeptical developers

Jim Spering, Suisun City Mayor: "Traditionally developers have had the mindset of the single-family house with a front and back yard. And when you start talking about detached garages, garages in the back, limiting the parking in the street, they have not been receptive to that. And in our case, in the Victorian harbor, we had a very hard time getting a developer to do the project because of the types of smart growth components we wanted."

Those smart growth components, like denser construction and narrow streets, are hallmarks of New Urbanism -- a design philosophy that proponents say can create a greater sense of community, make better use of precious land, and get residents out of their cars.

Jim Spering: "We wanted to de-emphasize the automobile as much as we could, and in our Victorian Harbor project all the garages are in the back. We've used the alleyways. The houses are a little closer together. We put the porches right on the sidewalk so if somebody is walking by it's very difficult for you not to say 'Hi, how are you doing, neighbor!'"

In the beginning, Suisun's unconventional ideas had builders scratching their heads. The idea of building a house "upside-down" -- with office and bedroom downstairs, and kitchen and living room on top -- ran against conventional wisdom. But the leap of faith paid off.

Mike Rice, President, Miller-Sorg Group: "The response, as far as we are concerned, has been overwhelming. Consequently, it became the most popular house we've ever built in the history of our company, and we have done some 1,700 hundred homes in Northern California. And we never would have thought we could achieve that. We hoped to sell seven of them, and it was more like seventeen."

Donald's dream house is slightly more traditional, with a living room and kitchen on the same floor as his shop, and small living area and master bedroom on the second story. The homes are close together, with smaller yards allowing for more density, but that doesn't bother Donald.

Donald Grover: "When we looked at it we instantly fell in love with it. I mean sure you give up a big yard, but you also give up the all the work that is entailed by having a big yard, or a bigger place."

With residents like Donald singing the praises of their communities new and unconventional design, other cities and towns across the Central Valley might have a thing or two to learn from Suisun's success

Jim Spering: "I really believe that in California developers are starting to realize that we have to have a variety of housing -- that you just can't stick to that same model that they've been doing over the past twenty years."

Developer Tom DiGiovanni of Heritage Partners agrees. He was inspired to develop a New Urbanist project in the small college town of Chico.

Tom DiGiovanni, Heritage Partners: "I like to describe it as the return of the Great American Neighborhood."

Like all communities in the Central Valley Chico is grappling with its own growth issues. And to solve them Kim Seidler, the city's planning director, is thinking outside the residential box.

Tom DiGiovanni: "Density is still a dirty word to a lot of people. It equates in their minds to smaller lots, lower house prices, people who may threaten existing property values. And yet good design -- and I think people recognize it when they see it -- can overcome some of these preconceptions about density."

Tom took his "good design" cues from the old part of town and created an eye-catching housing development.

Tom DiGiovanni: "I came to realize that people in this town, when their friends or families come to visit, they take them through the old neighborhoods. They don't take them on a tour of the new projects, the new subdivisions, and I think this is the case everywhere."

The Doe Mill neighborhood is called a T-N-D -- or traditional neighborhood design. The architecture is inspired by older homes of the 30s and 40s, and come in bright colors. Garages are detached and placed in back, allowing for more homes per lot. The streets are narrower to discourage speeding and most of the homes have a large front porch. For residents Tom and Katie, Doe Mill's old-fashioned design was just what they were looking for.

Tom Reed, Doe Mill resident: "It has a nice view, and even just sitting out in the morning with a cup of coffee and a paper, it's great. And you don't get that in the old type subdivisions."

The project not only conveys an old fashioned look, but also an old fashioned sense of community where everybody knows their neighbor.

"Hey, Joe!"

Katie Luallen, Doe Mill Resident: "It does feel different, because it doesn't feel like everyone -- in this neighborhood, at least -- it doesn't feel like people are trying to keep up. It feels like everyone is just kind of who they are and so that's nice. It doesn't feel like… I think because they're smaller too it just kind of attracts the type of person that wants a cute little house, not the biggest house on the block or the most fancy. People don't necessarily have brand new cars, and all of that, so I like that about it."

Jim Horne lived in a large house on several acres for thirty years -- but after a fifteen minute tour, he was sold on Doe Mill.

Jim Horne, Doe Mill Advocate: "After I first saw the neighborhood, it didn't take long to figure out it was a pretty special place. Once you see them, you realize that this is really the way man was meant to live."

These homes are being snapped up not just for their smart design, but also for their affordability. And if developers like Tom and others who've embraced New Urbanism have their way, there will be more to come in the future.

Tom DiGiovanni: "I think we're an example of that market appeal -- of a better way of delivering housing and neighborhoods in general at sufficiently higher yields or densities, so that less land is consumed as cities and towns grow over the next several decades."


Good smart growth policy limits sprawl, not choices. As we've seen, Valley developers are already responding to calls for smart growth with innovative home designs -- and clearly homebuyers are taken with these new housing options.

Katie Luallen: "I love the circular pattern…"

A wide array of options is crucial to a population that's retiring earlier…and living longer.

Hans Johnson, Demographer, PPIC: "Statewide, the senior population in California will grow from about 11% to, by 2030, 17% of the total population of the state. The Central Valley will probably experience similar numbers."

The diversity of our seniors' needs, from recreational opportunities to increased care, is keeping Valley developers on their toes.


Bob Kourey's retirement is right on track.

(train whistle blows)

The house is paid for, the yard work manageable, and Bob has plenty of time to devote to his hobby. It's the retirement he and his wife Joann dreamed of when they moved to this quiet Sacramento neighborhood 37 years ago. And Bob says the only way he'll leave his nest…

Bob Kourey, Sacramento Resident: "…is on a gurney. That's the way I want to leave here: on a gurney."

As the Valley's senior population grows, their needs become more diverse. Only a third will share the Kourey's dream: to "age in place" and stay in the house they've lived in for years. Another third will downsize to a condo or apartment, while the rest move to single family homes with smaller yards -- like those in so-called "active adult" communities, catering to people 55 and above.

Judy Bennett, President, Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce: "I just really do believe in successful aging, and to me that means keep going, keep learning, keep growing, keep involved, keep engaged…"

Judy Bennett heads the Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce, and says today's retirement communities are different than those thirty, even twenty years ago. As Californian's live longer and healthier lives, there's a growing demand for communities that cater to an active lifestyle.

Judy Bennett: "They will continue to evolve as the customer evolves and now with the baby boomers coming through, that was the generation raised in tennis shoes, and they are not sitting down in a rocking chair."

Raul and Pam Ynzunza made the move from Belmont in 1999.

Pam Ynzunza: "We wanted to move young enough that we could develop a community wherever we moved figuring that we would spend 30-some years wherever we moved to. We're going to stay put as long as we can."

Here, the average age is 62. Many residents are married. Some still work.

But what happens when you get older? You slow down? Your spouse passes away? For many seniors, it means downsizing to a condo or apartment.

Hank Fisher, Hank Fisher Properties: "I think the worst thing that we see are people who become hermits in their house when one spouse dies, and they stay in the house. That's the wrong thing. People need to be with people. So we got in the senior housing business to provide a place where people could be."

Hank Fisher anticipated the Valley's need for senior housing thirty years ago and began building. Among his projects: the Chateau at River's Edge in Sacramento.

"The bedroom, with a separate vanity area…"

It's an elegant complex where a one-bedroom apartment with meals, activities, and local transportation starts around $2300 a month for one, $2800 per couple. The average age here? 86!

Betty Chanahan, Resident, Chateau at River's Edge: "My husband passed away in July and so I was on the downscale, sort of. And when Bob came along I just brightened up and things took off from there."

Betty Shanahan met widower Bob Shaw and before you could say, "I do," they did!

Betty and Bob feel secure knowing that should one or both of them require more care, they can transition from "independent living" to the Chateau's "assisted living" wing.

Such options abound for seniors in metropolitan areas, but smaller Valley towns are also striving to meet the unique housing demands of their graying populations.

A place like Samaritan Village fits the bill: a non-profit community of cottages and apartments in Hughson, near Modesto,. Funded by a 30 million dollar donation by a philanthropic Valley couple, it's entirely self-contained, with a post office, beauty shop, library, dining room, and chapel. But Samaritan Village will take senior living one step further when it opens a new hospice.

Harold Peterson, Samaritan Village: "A lot of places have independent living and then maybe even assisted living, and then skilled nursing being the next level up. But none of them have a hospice house co-located on the same facility, so that makes us very unique in that respect."

As a group, California seniors ages 65 and above have faired well economically. Still, more than half of retired Californians rely heavily on Social Security for much of their income. Most of them can't afford to buy into an "active adult" community -- or even rent an apartment in a higher-end senior complex.

Cyrus Youssefi, Developer, Ladi Senior Apartments: "The market is just exploding and there are, to tell you very frankly, very few places that rent reasonable to seniors."

Developer Cyrus Youssefi is trying to change that. With help from the Sacramento Housing Redevelopment Agency, he turned the derelict Dodge City Inn into Ladi Senior Apartments, a complex for low-income seniors.

"No, I'd rather have that in the living room…"

A typical one bedroom can set you back close to 800 dollars a month in Sacramento. A one bedroom here averages $440. The complex includes landscaped grounds, community and exercise rooms, and security. Since it's rent-controlled, the price will remain relatively low.

(piano plays)

Age has a way of sneaking up on us, but it's comforting to know that growing older in the Valley means a growing number of housing options -- for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health…


The road to smart growth will be paved with passionate debate and difficult decisions. But thanks to an emerging coalition of engaged citizens, enlightened officials, and creative developers, the Central Valley is well poised to handle its housing challenges in an era of unprecedented growth.

But our population isn't just growing; it's changing. Join us for the next episode of New Valley, as we explore the significance of shifting demographics for our region's culture and economy.

To order a copy of this program for $14.95 plus shipping and handling, call 888-814-3923. Or visit us online at www.newvalley.org.


New Valley is brought to you by Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo: the next stage.

We respect and protect our region's natural beauty and precious resources through responsible community planning and development. We are Del Webb: the nation's leading developer of resort-lifestyle communities, and home to more than 11,000 active adults in Northern California.

The Sacramento Area Council of Governments and the Sacramento Region Blueprint Project: choices for our future at sacregionblueprint.org.

New Valley is also made possible in part by the Great Valley Center.