Please contact us with your questions or concerns!

Frequently Asked Questions

Our intention is to update this page with every question asked: in person, via e-mail and at the Neighborhood Open House events.  If you have a question that has not been addressed, please e-mail us via our CONTACT US page.   In order to avoid confusion or mis-information, we are required to obtain agency approval of all of our answers and comments. We appreciate your patience in hearing back from us!

  • FAQ topics:


  • OPEN HOUSE EVENT #1 - 4/23/2018

  • OPEN HOUSE EVENT #2 - 6/18/2018



A1.  Where is FARMSTEAD located?

The community is proposed off the southeast corner of N. Orchard Avenue/ Fruitvale Road intersection, on the site or a former working orchard in the North Orchard neighborhood of Vacaville, California.

A2.  Will the community be located on Mary's and Aliki's orchard property?

Yes, they retired from operating their orchard and running their fruit stand in 2014, and are ready for a new chapter of their lives.

However, approximately five acres of this property are reserved to remain open space: a public park connected to the surrounding neighborhood by a public trail system.   This open space as well as the streets and homes will be designed in a way that avails a bucolic lifestyle and pays homage to the family-farming history of the property.  We hope that the residents and visitors alike will experience a peaceful connection to nature through access to the old trees we seek to preserve.  This is why we chose to call this community FARMSTEAD.  

A3.     Is this property located on land of the County of Solano?
Yes, currently, the property is an isolated piece of County land surrounded by City land.  The sale of this property will require annexation into the City of Vacaville, and a change of land use to Residential (per policies adopted in 1990).


B1.     What can happen on the property?
The City of Vacaville has planned for the eventuality of Mary and Aliki selling their property, and has designated it as RESIDENTIAL - MEDIUM DENSITY community, requiring a minimum of approx. 8 homes per acre and a maximum of 14 homes per acre.  The General Plan also requires a public park - see the colored zones of the GENERAL PLAN below (and more information here).  The designation of this property has been adopted since 1990 and again in 2015.  FARMSTEAD is aiming to comply with the lowest density allowed on this property: approx. 8 homes per acre.

Farmstead diagrams.jpg

B2.     Can't it stay an orchard?
No, since 1990, in order to prioritize infill development and to limit urban sprawl, the City of Vacaville and Solano County have implemented policies of annexing isolated lands in County jurisdiction surrounded by City land, and of thereby changing the zoning to those land uses consistent with the City General Plan.  Notwithstanding these policies, the orchard owners found it to be too small to be competitive in today's commercial farming world.

B3.   Why does the City of Vacaville want more homes here? 

The City of Vacaville is mandated by the State of California to address the housing shortage. The City must comply with a State mandate called the Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA), which sets the total number of housing units that each jurisdiction must accommodate.  It must designate the necessary zoning in the housing element of its general plan to show how the region's housing need will be accommodated.  Read more about the Regional Housing Need Allocation here:  https://abag.ca.gov/planning/housingneeds/

B4.  Is there really a housing crisis in Solano County and Vacaville?

Yes, there is a shortage of housing here.  New home developments are selling out quickly, and not enough new homes are being built to respond to the continued consumer demand.  It is consumer demand that drives the developments, not cities or developers. [Read more here and here]

B5.  Don’t developers profit nicely from the housing demand?   

During the last several decades, developers have gained a bad reputation, because development was less regulated and it was easy to make money by pushing limits.  As a result, in order to prevent projects driven by greed, regulations on developers have become very stringent over the last two decades.  Development is a much riskier business than it was in the past.  

However, if people need homes to live in and the State mandates building new homes, developers are the only ones with the right expertise to do this job.  Like any other business, real estate developers must make enough profit to secure investors that will finance the construction of the homes.  The Craigs have taken on the challenge of developing FARMSTEAD, a site they care about, because they feel they can do a better job for the neighborhood than a big corporate development firm could.


C1.     How does RESIDENTIAL - MEDIUM DENSITY compare to the lot I live on?
If you live in the condominiums south/east of the site, then you also live in a zone designated as RESIDENTIAL - MEDIUM DENSITY (8.1 to 14 homes per acre).  If you live on most of the adjacent streets, then your zone is called RESIDENTIAL - LOW DENSITY (3.1 to 5 homes per acre).  If you live in the homes on Fruitvale, across the street from the site, then you live on a RESIDENTIAL ESTATE (0.5 to 3 homes per acre). 

C2.     Are the neighboring Northridge Condominiums also designated as RESIDENTIAL - MEDIUM DENSITY?  
Yes, see the color coding of the Vacaville GENERAL PLAN above.  A similar condominium plan would comply with the GENERAL PLAN.

Example of a nearby RESIDENTIAL - MEDIUM DENSITY community: Northridge Condominiums, Vacaville

Example of a nearby RESIDENTIAL - MEDIUM DENSITY community: Northridge Condominiums, Vacaville

C3.     Will apartments or condominiums be built?
Legally, an apartment or condominium community would be allowed here.  This property has been deemed appropriate to accommodate up to 225 attached housing units (14 units per acre).  FARMSTEAD is proposing to achieve only the lowest density requirement, and build detached single-family homes (approx. 8 homes/ acre).

C4.     How many homes will be built?
Based on our preliminary studies, it looks like there will be about 130 homes.  We are planning single-family detached homes, and must achieve the required minimum density of 8.1 homes per acre.  The City requires us to donate build a park, and we are voluntarily adding a landscaped, public trail system that will run the entire perimeter of the site in order to preserve the old trees and connect the property and the park to the surrounding neighborhood.

C5.   Why are you building only to the lowest density allowed?
We do need to make this community work financially, of course, but we are proposing less homes than we could for three primary reasons:
(a) we are locals and feel the property should not be developed any more densely than the minimum requirement: we love this neighborhood, Mary & Aliki, and the orchard's history.
(b) we are a husband & wife team, which allows us to make this work efficiently, in a way that a typical corporate developer cannot
(c) this is the first project we are doing on our own (not as consultants) and we must do it right in order to be successful.  A more dense neighborhood would not allow us to achieve our goal of creating a unique character for this community, enhanced by preserving the old trees.approx.

Example of a RESIDENTIAL - MEDIUM DENSITY community with lot widths smaller than FARMSTEAD: Turnstone neighborhood, Green Valley (Fairfield)

Example of a RESIDENTIAL - MEDIUM DENSITY community with lot widths smaller than FARMSTEAD: Turnstone neighborhood, Green Valley (Fairfield)


D1.     Will the lot sizes be very small in order to achieve the home density?
The lot sizes will be smaller than the typical lot size of the surrounding neighborhood, but remember this is not by choice, the General Plan requires this density.  However, the lot sizes will not be "too" small: they will be equivalent to lot sizes of many recent communities in Solano County, all providing market-rate homes on small lots:

D2.     What will the lot sizes be?
We plan to offer a range of lot sizes, so that families with children can live on the same street as older couples who want to stay in the neighborhood and down-size.  Our preliminary studies assume an average lot size of 75’ x 44’ (or 3,300 square feet).  Again, this is consistent with new communities in Solano County, as many professionals seeking new homes prefer smaller lots these days, especially when public parks and trails are part of the community.

Typ lot size.png

D3.  Why are the lot sizes only about 3,300 square feet (on average)?

The City's General Plan designates this property as Medium Density Residential (8.1 – 14 homes/ acre) which equates to 130 - 225 homes.  If the lot sizes were larger than 3,300 square feet, then we would not achieve the minimum of 130 lots and would be in non-compliance with the General Plan.  So, if we want to build single-family, detached homes, the lots have to be small. A more typical solution for achieving this density would be to build apartment homes with common parking lots, but we are trying to avoid this direction.  Please see FAQ D1 above for examples of other nearby communities with similar lot sizes. Please see FAQ D9 below for more information about how lot sizes are calculated.

D4.  Will there be duplexes (homes sharing a party wall)?  

No.  All homes will be singe-families detached houses.

D5.  Are all homes planned to be two-story?  

Yes. A single-story home on a small lot would be a very small home (especially with all the required lots set-backs).  A tiny home could not be sold at a market-rate price needed to cover the costs of constructing all the infrastructure (roads, sewer, water, park, etc.).  So, to achieve the minimum required density and design a viable community, all homes have to be two-story.  (If you haven’t read it already, please read FAQ D3 for background info.).  

D6.  We live on Laramie Way, and worry that the two-story homes will look into our backyard.  Can you plan for one-story homes on the East edge of the property?

We wish this were a viable option, but again, one-story homes on small lots are not feasible.  We are planning to build the fewest number of lots allowable by the density requirement, plus we have tried to locate a minimum number of homes on the East of the property.  The drawings do not allow for easy visualization of the distance between the Farmstead fences and the Laramie Way fences, which is substantial, ranging from approximately 80 to over 100 feet.  Such distance is equivalent to homes being located across a street form each other.

D7.  What will the houses look like?

We are not at a point of the project when we can propose house plans, as many complex and costly milestones of the project have to be completed first.   We are inspired by homes with the utilitarian feel of high-quality, well-conceived Northern California farm architecture.   The house plans will have to be approved by the City, so there will be opportunity for public comment.  The homes will be designed to achieve market-rate home standards, not low-income housing standards.

D8.  I would like to downsize and stay in the neighborhood, so a small lot would not be a problem.  However, how could I make a two-story home work as my mobility declines?

A two-story home can be designed to have the master suite on the street level to allow people of all physical abilities to enjoy a home.  This will be a worthwhile consideration, when the project reaches the home design phase.

D9.  If your average lot dimensions are 75’x44’ (3,300 sq ft), how are you only fitting 130 homes on this 20.57 acre lot?  My math would indicate that the lots should be much bigger. 

Please refer to the FARMSTEAD LOT SIZE CALCULATION figure of OUR PLAN page.  You will see that the Developable Area is calculated by taking the gross property acreage and subtracting the park & trails, right-of-ways and community streets.  This calculation yields a lot size average of about 3,700 sf ft.  This is not the same as the 3,300 sq ft mentioned above, because not all lots are 75’x44’ rectangles, and the irregular lots are slightly larger.


E1.  How much will these homes cost?

All homes in the FARMSTEAD community will be market-rate, similar to communities such as those listed in FAQ D1.  Given the early stage of the FARMSTEAD community design, we cannot predict the actual prices of the homes.  This community will not provide low-income housing.  

E2.   Will there be any low-income housing at FARMSTEAD?
None.  All homes will be market-rate.


F1.   What will the public park be like?
We are planning to locate the public park under the canopy of the old trees that currently surround Mary’s & Aliki’s home.  We are working with the City of Vacaville to preserve the wonderful trees.  We do not want to cut them down, only to replace them with the typical new-subdivision “stick” trees.  This will allow all of you to visit this magical previously private place, and stop there for a picnic.  

F2.   What will the public trail system be like?
The trail system along the perimeter of the property will be public, and the Farmstead park will be a public destination.  

Park VIII_zoom Color.png


F3.  Are you really giving a park to the City of Vacaville?  Will it be truly public?

Yes. Per the General Plan, a public neighborhood park is required on this property. The park will be constructed from City impact fees generated from developing this subdivision.  The park will be public, owned and maintained by the City of Vacaville.  A portion of the ongoing maintenance costs will be generated by a new Landscape Maintenance District that the new homes will pay into as well.  The remaining maintenance costs will be covered by the City's General Fund.  Additionally, Farmstead will provide a public perimeter trail system to connect the neighborhood to the 3-acre old-grove park, thus providing safer connections through the Farmstead community for the surrounding neighborhood.

F4.  Why did you locate the park where you did? Could you put it next to Fruitvale Road instead?

The park is proposed in this location, because this is where the beautiful specimen trees grow.  They were planted by the property’s original owners (Mary's grandfather) and lend the site its bucolic family-orchard character.  A large part of the Farmstead plan focuses on specimen tree preservation. If we placed the park elsewhere on the property, or reduced its size in any way, we would have to remove more specimen trees than currently planned and end up planting very young trees that take many years to mature.  The park in this location, with its varied grove of spectacular trees, will be a place unlike any other in the greater neighborhood – a true destination. Additionally, the location of the bicycle/ pedestrian path from Ulatis Creek to Farmstead is adjacent to this site, which makes bicycle and pedestrian access very easy.   Finally, the City attempts to place neighborhood parks adjacent to school sites whenever possible.  

F5.  Can you split the park into two smaller parks, so that one of them can be off of Fruitvale Road?

We studied the possibility of splitting the proposed park into smaller parks and concluded that this would not allow us to maintain the minimum housing density required by the General Plan.   In other words, if we were to split the park in two, we would have to add one more street, which would in turn eliminate several homes.  We are currently proposing the lowest allowable density, so we cannot go below the current home count.  

F6.  How does the park size compare to other nearby parks?

The North Orchard Park appears to be about 8 acres and the Alamo Creek Park about 9 acres (including the tennis courts in each).  Our park & trail system will be 3.96 acres.  Though smaller, our park is designed to feel more cozy, intimate and natural than the nearby parks.

F7.  Can you build a play structure in the park?

Unfortunately, no, as a play structure would make this an “active-use” park. Even though the new subdivision will generate a portion of the maintenance costs for the park, the City's General Fund cannot afford to cover the remaining maintenance costs needed for a traditional “active-use” park.  Therefore, the park will have to be a "passive-use” public park.  However, our design includes substantial rocks and other natural features that children will be able to engage in a creative and unstructured way, and we believe that this will make the park unique.

F8.  What will the “interpretive station” be about?

We are excited to offer visitors the opportunity to learn about Native Grasslands.  This topic came out of a maintenance-related consideration during our design process:  unless we designed it for low-maintenance, the City would be challenged to properly maintain such a large park.  For this reason, the park will feature a beautiful variety of native grasses, which thrive with minimal mowing, irrigation or pesticides.  The grasses will vary in texture, color and seasonal cycle, making this interpretive station fascinating and educational.

F9.  Could Mary’s and Aliki’s house be saved or moved?

The original home on the property was built as a temporary residence for Mary’s family while their mansion on Buck Avenue was being completed.  This home has been extensively remodeled since 1918 and is not deemed to be historically significant by the recent historical building assessment.  Similarly, the various existing utilitarian sheds and barn structures have also been either rebuilt or have received minimal maintenance.  Therefore, after a close study, we concluded that the best solution is to remove all structures from this property and make room for the public park.  (This is also consistent with the passive-use requirement of minimal maintenance costs).  

F10.  Will you cut down any of the pecan trees on N. Orchard Avenue? 

Our intention is to preserve as many non-orchard, specimen trees on the property as possible as this will provide a unique character for Farmstead and help preserve the history of the property.  Only one of the large pecans on N. Orchard Avenue will have to be cut down, in order to allow the proposed access road.  We hired an arborist to evaluate all the trees on the property to identify what are called specimen trees (healthy, beautiful trees with longevity).  Though the pecan trees will need some care (pruning, reinforcement and irrigation), they are certainly considered specimen trees, and we plan to give them the TLC they need to make them last as long as possible.  

F11.  Will there be a wall around the community? What will it look like?

Yes, a masonry perimeter wall is required by the City where private lots abut public property, such as the trails or the neighborhood park.  We plan to use split-face masonry to support the rapid establishment of low-profile vining plants (such as a creeping fig), in order to transform the masonry wall into a soft, planted boundary.  There will be no wall along Fruitvale Road, because homes will front the street there.  

F12.  There are no trees shown on your house lots.  Will each house get a tree?

Yes, the City of Vacaville’s Design Guidelines require that each house gets a tree, and we are happy to comply given the property’s history.   (The exhibits presented at this meeting only pertained to the public uses – stay tuned for private lot layouts coming later in the process).

F13.   Is the Fruit Stand coming back?
Unfortunately not.  We had intended on bringing back the fruit stand in some form, but it is not allowed by the City of Vacaville for budgetary issues and liability concerns.

F14.    With the proposed park & trail system that you are planning for the development, will the neighborhood owners have HOA/Mello Roos in order to cover upkeep and repairs/replacement cost for anything in the development?  

The FARMSTEAD community will create a new park maintenance district, and a landscape & lighting district to help pay for the maintenance costs of the public park and landscaping.  However, with so few homes, FARMSTEAD will be paying the current City maximum of $150/ home/ year to contribute, and the City will pay the remainder.


G1.  How will the community affect the traffic in the neighborhood?

Traffic impacts at the highest density of 14 homes/acre were evaluated for the General Plan Update when the City of Vacaville designated this property to accommodate a medium-density residential land use of 8.1 - 14 homes/acre.  We are proposing the lowest density allowable (just over 8.1 homes / acre), and consequently, the traffic impact will be less than contemplated by the General Plan. However, because traffic is typically on top of neighborhood concerns, the City requires us to complete a Traffic Study among other environmental studies.   

We hear that traffic seems to have worsened, especially since the Vacaville Unified School District terminated their school bus service.  The City of Vacaville is conducting a traffic study to assess the project’s potential impact to local streets.  The study will be published as part of the City’s analysis before the Planning Commission hearing.  

The City’s existing data show that the heaviest traffic volumes occur during school drop-off and pick-up times.  To help the school traffic situation, the Farmstead project includes new sidewalks and pedestrian/bike paths along the entire perimeter of the property, in order to provide links and safe routes for pedestrians.  This will encourage students who live in the neighborhood to safely walk or bike to school.  

G2.  Why will the main community streets feed into N. Orchard Avenue and Fruitvale Road?  Why not connect to Eldridge Avenue?

We are required to connect to N. Orchard Avenue and Fruitvale Road, because they are designated, per City standards, as “collector” streets.  As such, they are meant for higher volumes of traffic, and for taking traffic from local streets to arterial streets (i.e., Gibson Canyon, Monte Vista Avenue).    Eldridge Avenue is designated, per City standards, as a small “neighborhood street,” and as such, cannot connect to the new community streets.  The directive is to avoid impacting the internal streets of the adjacent neighborhood.

G3.  Can you widen N. Orchard Avenue and add a lane of traffic?

During the update to the City's General Plan in 2015, the City completed a comprehensive future traffic study: it analyzed traffic for the years 2015, 2035 and for the time when the entire City would be fully built out.  The traffic calculations, even at the point of total built-out, did not result in a level of traffic that would necessitate the widening of N. Orchard Avenue.   However, even if the road was widened to 40 feet, the City would not add an additional lane (neither north-bound, nor south-bound). We plan to widen the road only slightly during the construction of the new curb and gutter, as not to compromise the root system of the 100-year old trees.

G4.  Can you widen Fruitvale Road?

Yes, the Farmstead project will build frontage improvements to the south side of Fruitvale Road, thus matching the existing widened portions to the East.

G5.  Can you add traffic lights on N. Orchard Avenue (1) at the entrance to the project and (2) at the Fruitvale intersection?

There are certain criteria that have to be met before the City can consider adding traffic lights to an intersection.  One requires the street to be designated as an “arterial road” (intended to handle large amounts of citywide traffic). The current designation of N. Orchard Avenue is a “collector road”, narrower than an “arterial road” and with tighter intersections.  In addition, the existing properties near the traffic light locations suggested by this question are sited too closely to the road to allow for sufficient clearances required for the placement of traffic lights.  


H1.  Will you fill the Solano Irrigation District (S.I.D.) ditch?

The City is still evaluating whether the ditch will remain or if it will be undergrounded with concrete pipes.  The ditch is not on Farmstead property, and the public trail would be set back about 10 feet away from the edge of the ditch.

H2.  Will leaving the Solano Irrigation District (S.I.D.) ditch open become a hazard to the trail?

No, because there would be a planted 10-foot zone separating the trail from the ditch.  There are many examples of ditches or creeks running parallel to public trails and next to homes throughout Solano County with no recorded risks to pedestrians or homeowners.

H3.  Where will the children who will live in this community go to school? 

Per the General Plan, the site has been zoned with the assumption that the neighborhood infrastructure, including schools, can accommodate the needed housing. The project will pay substantial fees to the Vacaville Unified School District, so that the district may properly accommodate its student population (presumably within the Hemlock Elementary, Jepson Middle and Vaca High Schools).  

H4.  The neighborhood water pressure is low.  Will this project make it worse? 

Based on a required study recently completed by the City of Vacaville, there is no evidence that the project will affect current water pressure in any way.


I1.  When will I be able to buy a FARMSTEAD home?

If all goes well, model homes could be available for viewing in Spring of 2021 and homes would be available for move-in in Spring 2022.  Please visit the project status page for schedule updates.

I2.   When is construction scheduled? 
Not for a while.  We hope to begin site work in Winter 2019 and home construction in Winter 2020.  A project of this nature takes a long time:
(a)  we have to complete a long list of environmental studies;
(b) we have to apply for approvals from the City of Vacaville (which you will get noticed about by the City);
(c) after we receive approvals, we will engage our design team to prepare building plans;
(d) then we will have to review the building costs; and
(e) only at that time we will be able to schedule the start of site work and construction. 
Also see our STATUS page for dates.

I3.  When will the homes be designed?

If all goes well, architectural plans will be proposed in Fall of 2019.  A project of this nature takes a long time, and has to clear many hurdles, each requiring substantial design and consulting fees.  Therefore, we have to proceed step-by-step. 


J1.  Have you built other communities like this one?

Not as developers, but many times as consultants. For the last two decades, Tony has been in the residential real estate development industry and has worked on many similar projects.  This is the first one we are doing under our own shingle.

J2. If you are locals, why is the address of AJ CRAIG DEVELOPMENT in Mill Valley?

We live in Fairfield. Tony grew up in Fairfield, and in Vacaville on his family’s ranch located five miles from the site [see more in ABOUT US]. The business address of AJ CRAIG DEVELOPMENT is in Mill Valley, because this is where we established our real estate development consulting services practice.


#1 - April 28th, 2018

Thank you, neighbors, for coming to our open house.  The purpose of this community outreach was to get feedback on the public park and trail system that will be constructed concurrently with Farmstead. However, we fielded many other questions listed below.  

The comments that we heard often were: (1) “We did not know that houses were planned for this property” and (2) “We bought our house thinking this property would never get developed.”  In reality, both the 1990 and 2015 City of Vacaville’s General Plans designate the future use of this property as Medium-Density Residential. 

Mary and Aliki have been wanting to sell their property for a while.  We have worked closely with them to convey our intentions of preserving the character of the property while having to comply with the City's General Plan.  As a result, we are providing an unusual and special community plan for Farmstead.

New FAQs addressed:
F.  PARK & TRAILS:  F3 - F12
G.  TRAFFIC: G1 - G4

#2 - June 18th, 2018

New FAQs addressed:


Since we are required to obtain agency approval of all of our answers and comments, real-time posting on NextDoor.com (the neighborhood social network) or other social media is not possible.  We hope that you will refer to our site or to the City of Vacaville page for FARMSTEAD for accurate information.  Please feel free to CONTACT US directly with any concerns.

The conversation about FARMSTEAD on NextDoor.com features two important misunderstandings that should be clarified:


Some of the comments suggest that it is the developer team who is pushing to build a dense residential community on this site, and that they have "sold" this idea to the current owners.  Here are the facts:

A.  HOUSING REQUIREMENT:  a medium density community is required here by the City of Vacaville, and this land use designation has been adopted by the GENERAL PLAN in 1990 and again in 2015.  The GENERAL PLAN update process began years ago and underwent an exhaustive and comprehensive public process culminating in approval in 2015.  See GENERAL PLAN for more information, and to understand why the site received this land use designation.

B.  DENSITY REQUIREMENT: The developer team is required to comply with the City's GENERAL PLAN density requirement (Residential - Medium Density, 8.1 - 14 dwelling units/ acre), and must provide 130 - 225 homes on this site.  The developer team is choosing to design FARMSTEAD at the low end of the required density range (130 homes), in order to achieve their vision for the site (saving the large specimen trees, providing a public park and trail system and thereby attempting to make a gesture to the surrounding neighborhood).  Again, up to 225 homes are allowed on this site per the City of Vacaville GENERAL PLAN.

C.  DUPLEXES (or APARTMENTS):  there will be no duplexes or apartments in the FARMSTEAD community.  All 130 dwelling units will be single-family, detached homes. The lots are smaller than the adjacent neighborhood (approx. 3,330 square feet), because their size is driven by the DENSITY REQUIREMENT.  However, they are no smaller than the many recent Vacaville developments on infill sites.  See FAQ D1 above.

D.  IMPACT ON INFRASTRUCTURE:  all infrastructure studies (including the traffic study) completed by the City of Vacaville agencies have been done with the assumption of 225 new homes on this site.  Since FARMESTEAD proposes only 130 homes, the impact of the community on the neighborhood will be less than what the agencies contemplated and evaluated.


Some  members have expressed their fear of low-income housing (fear of its potential threat to the schools and to general neighborhood safety).  None of the homes at FARMSTEAD will be will be low-income housing - 100% will be market-rate homes.

We welcome your questions.  Please CONTACT US!