Sunday Commentary II: The Trust Issue, Can We Get Back to Trust but Verify?

build-trust-slide

At last night’s Vanguard event, we had a number of speakers come up and do brief talks.  Mayor Robb Davis made the point that, while he appreciates the work of the Vanguard and the accountability it provides, he believes in a lot of ways the scrutiny we bring makes it more difficult for the community to trust local government.

On the other hand, later, Paul Boylan, a Vanguard attorney and a brief candidate for the Davis City Council, argued that we should not trust the government and instead we need to be vigilant in scrutinizing the government.

Trust is a difficult commodity in an age of cynicism, to be sure.  The founding of the Vanguard came out of a troubling situation in the police department.  Some of our first public records requests, filed in 2006, showed the police chief actively working to subvert the efficacy of the Davis Human Relations Commission by stirring up personal attacks against the commission and its chair.

Later revelations allowed us to learn that the chief fanned the flames of discontent and manufactured the controversy in order to shore up the support of the rank and file and the DPOA (Davis Police Officers Association), who were at odds with him over policies but mostly his own absenteeism.

The Vanguard’s work on the firefighters’ union found that the union had pumped tens of thousands of dollars directly and indirectly into local council races.  They used their numbers to get around campaign limitations by bundling up to 40 $100 contributions, to make a $4000 rather than a $100 campaign contribution.

They augmented that with an Independent Expenditure campaign that would drop flyers and mail campaign brochures in support of favored members.

Did it work?  Vanguard research showed that, from 2002 to 2008, seven of the firefighters’ nine preferred candidates won and the firefighters, up until the 2010 city council, always held a majority on council to support their vote.

As I noted yesterday, that situation lined things up so that in December of 2010, the council effectively voted 3-2 to not read the full investigative report of the fire department, written by the Police Ombudsman.  Councilmember Stephen Souza would brazenly state, “I don’t need all fifty pages, I just don’t.”

In my 10 years of covering Davis politics, this was probably the most brazen display I have ever seen from public officials.

As Rich Rifkin would write several years later, “Not only did those three (Don Saylor, Ruth Asmundson and Stephen Souza) – who together had received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions plus other support from members of the Davis firefighters’ union – not want to let the taxpayers and residents of Davis see what Mr. Aaronson had found. They decided no one on the Council should be permitted to learn its contents.”

Under that backdrop, is it really surprising that the Vanguard would be cynical regarding the trust factor, skeptical of the efficacy of public service, and interested in monitoring and reporting on potential public misconduct?

At the same time, I think it’s important to note that the Vanguard’s presence has had a profound and ultimately positive impact on the Davis political system.  The power of the firefighters’ union is on the wane.  Increasingly, the members of the city council have been independent voices, willing to take on the special interests.

I understand Robb Davis’ frustration but I think he has to recognize first that, whenever distrust of the council comes up, he has to take into account the history of this community.  In  a way, not only this community but also citizens across the country have been conditioned to be cynical and skeptical of government claims.

That’s a product of our post-Watergate world, where the country learned that the people in the highest reaches of power may act not in the public’s best interest, but diametrically opposed to the public’s best interest.  The influence of money, political calculations, and personal immorality have led to a crisis of public trust that goes well beyond the city of Davis.

On the other hand, rather than blind distrust, as seems to be fashionable, a more nuanced approach is probably in order.  Trust but verify.  The words come from Ronald Reagan, referring to changes in the then-Soviet Union’s political system, but I think they are appropriate in today’s world.

I believe that we have five councilmembers who are devoted to the best interest of this community.  That doesn’t mean that we are going to agree with them all the time, or even a majority of the time.  Trust is not, or at least should not be, about agreement on policy issues.

I get it, a majority of citizens in June voted against Nishi.  All five members of the Davis City Council voted for Nishi.  For some, this is an indictment of the city council.  Some have stated that they do not trust the Davis City Council because they voted to support a project that they believe was unsupportable.

That is, of course, a cynical view of the council’s vote, as though there were some unseen force guiding them to attempt to harm the community.

We could hold a more nuanced view.  The members of council saw value in the project for varying reasons, we have a political system that gives the final voice to the voters on such matters and, in the end, the voters by a narrow majority decided that they disagreed with council.

If we believe that the values of council are out of alignment with the values of our community, we have a mechanism to correct that.  It is called an election.  I will point out that the opponents of Nishi put forward no candidates in this cycle that opposed Nishi.  To me that is on them, not the current council.

Whether you agree with Nishi or not, whether you agree with the Vanguard’s coverage of Nishi or not, I think it’s important to point out that much of the public battle over Nishi took place on the Vanguard and, in particular, in the Vanguard’s comment section.

Our job was to provide transparency on this issue.  When the public submitted articles and guest commentaries, we published it.  When the public posted comments, within reason, we published them.  And at the end of the day, the system worked for better or worse.

We do not have an outcome-based system of democracy.  We have a process-based one.  The job of the Vanguard is to report when the process breaks down.  The process clearly broke down in the fall of 2008 when the council voted to not read the fire report for themselves.

But we had recourse.  We filed a public records request and received literally pages upon pages of redactions.  I mentioned this last night during my talk – we had pages upon pages that literally looked like this:

Redaction-Fire

It took another request and a lawsuit in 2013 to get most of the report released and then Paul Boylan, this time with the Woodland Record in 2014, got the rest of the report released to the public.

The system broke down in 2008 because the council did not do their job.  What happened this year is a policy difference.  We can agree to disagree on policies, but unless we have evidence to the contrary, we should trust the people on our council to make an informed decision – even when we disagree.

That is the key to moving past our understandable trust gap.  We need to monitor, scrutinize, and put our trust in our officials until and unless they show that we should not.  Trust but verify.  That is why the Vanguard is here and what our job is to do.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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125 thoughts on “Sunday Commentary II: The Trust Issue, Can We Get Back to Trust but Verify?”

  1. Marina Kalugin

    Ha Ha….My dad’s most favorite Russian saying…his motto for raising kids as well as ensuring the construction is built to code….

    Can we really trust the incumbent super majority on the council to not give away $10 mil again, like they just did a few months ago????  Really, now we are supposed to “trust” the elected officials……nah…

    Many of us will be digging in even deeper now….some of us just retired…

    1. Tia Will

      I trust the city government to botch these large projects, for whatever reason.”

      For me, this is a totally irrelevant use of the word “trust” as regards local government. The issue of “trust” for me is not about whether any particular council member will agree with me on all issues. It is not about whether or not as a group they will agree with me on all issues. It is not about whether or not a particular project is “botched”, which is frequently a subjective assessment. The “trust” that I place in an elected is official is that they will do as they claimed they would during their campaign for council. That they will listen to the members of the community. That they will do their homework on items before the council and carefully consider the pros and cons of each vote rather than simply counting how many for and how many against e-mails. That they will come to council meetings prepared for the discussion and vote. That they will consider the pros and cons for the entire community ( not a favored group or philosophy) prior to casting their vote.

  2. hpierce

    The DV points out (in no uncertain terms) the issue of the report on the FD.

    The Council authorized the creation of the report, as I recall.  Don’t know what the vote was.

    It has, therefore really confused me as to why a CC member could not read it, without being allowed a copy, without being able to copy excerpts while reading it.  Just READING it.  Perhaps in a ‘secure place’ where unauthorized releases would be nigh improbable.  I can see good reasons not to authorize a totally unredacted copy to be released.  I do not understand why, even if 3 members chose not to read it, the other two would not have pursued their right to READ it.

    Perhaps those two found it more advantageous to make ‘political hay’, rather than pursue an opportunity to read the whole damn thing, even if it meant they would not have their own copy, nor to copy from it.

    ‘Tis a puzzlement…

     

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      As I understand it, the council requested the city manager to commission the report. The city manager then treated the report as a private personnel document and the council was allowed to read a redacted summary of it in the CM’s office but not leave with it.

  3. Fred

    This is an extremely self serving statement

    much of the public battle over Nishi took place on the Vanguard and, in particular, in the Vanguard’s comment section.

    It greatly over estimates the Vanguards role.Day after Day the Vanguard ran pro A material with just a few No pieces. Every No piece was submitted by vanguard outsiders. There was no balance and looking at the Vanguard one would have expected A to pass and some sign thieves to be arrested, but neither happened.

      1. Fred

        Fair enough on the lack of balance on submitted articles. With no paid writers I think the No side hade fewer articles, and they used Facebook to distribute them.

      2. Michael Harrington

        David is accurate

        Just like for the water project we had no professional writers or funds to counter the barrage of commercial pieces that the oppositions churned out

        And unfortunately many of my political associates won’t participate to a large degree because of being upset with the DV policies

         

        David, you did open the doors too wide for the paid commercial pieces that Yes on A was able to generate.    My friends think due to contributions from the developers

        You might consider summarizing your contributions by professions   And see if that helps ?

         

        Look at the DE: their ads are transparent  Your contributors are not

         

        I want my friends to help pay for the DV

         

        sorry I was meeting Clients in Sacramento until late so not in Davis for your party  I’ll send something soon

         

    1. Matt Williams

      As a Vanguard reader I see Fred’s comment as equally self serving.

      With that comment, Fred has literally dismissed both the reality of and the value of the Comments section of the Vanguard . . . which is really strange, given that he/she is a contributor to that Comments section.

      I have to wonder why Fred would on the one hand dismiss the contributors to the Comments and at the same time put forward his/her dismissal argument in the very Comments section he/she is dismissing.

      It’s a puzzlement.

  4. Frankly

    I had written before that trust has a doppelganger called respect.  It is important to consider both when making the case for trust; because often the claim of lack of trustworthiness is in fact just a criticism of disagreement.  When a public official conducts him/her-self honestly, honorably and openly, and follows the rules, then the official deserves respect and the claim of untrustworthiness is likely just a political device used by those that disagree.  And then we can and should reverse the claim of those lacking respect and trust… direct it at the critics of the public officials.

    Hidden agendas, back-room deals, lack of openness, lack of accountability, dishonesty, and evidence that rules were ignored and broken… these are the things that justify a lack of trust in our public officials and people in general.  I don’t see any of this in the last four years of our City Council.  The Council has been a respectable bunch even as they have aggravated me with some decisions.

    The lack of trust sits squarely in the lap of the No on A campaign.  The leaders of the No on A campaign have proven that they are not respectable people and I would not trust them as far as I could throw them.

    1. Michael Harrington

      Dear Frankly: not even far enough over the fence ?  Your building is a helluva nicer because I took it to CC and Forbes  made your business fix things in 1998

      The CC approval of the business CUP for Catheryn LeBlanc next to my home was a terrible manipulation of facts and law and will be litigated to a decision in the 3rd DCA.   The owner is a church buddy of Lucas who made it happen after professional staff found it was illegal

       

      Trust the CC?  I trust them less than an inch

  5. skeptical

     
    Frankly, lack of trust has been an issue with the City long before Measure A, and the City has done nothing to remedy the situation.  How’s that for stating the obvious?
     
    Regarding trust and this site:
     
    Why presume that Harrington was the correct person to ask for No on A material?
     
    Why were No on A folks reluctant to submit material to this site?
     
    Why question No on A for not fielding a candidate for city council?  They were working on Measure A.
     
    Why perpetuate this myth that there is some omnipotent “no growth” club in town?  If such a club or network exists, someone please post the meeting times and places and the club or network contacts so we can include their participation in all community efforts. 
    Wouldn’t that be a good step in building trust???
     

    1. Davis Progressive

      i strongly disagree that the council has done “nothing” to address the lack of trust.  this council is miles from the old souza-saylor one.

      1. Michael Harrington

        I don’t think so.  Look at the way they handled the three exterior projects  Then they all jumped with pompons and full throated cheers for Nishi, by far the worst project the city of Davis has ever considered.

        When they start making decent decisions then they will have trust again

        1. Davis Progressive

          while they voted for it, other than rochelle’s speech, did any of them actually do anything on the campaign?  i think you’re comment is a mischaracterization of what happened.

    2. Matt Williams

      Skeptical, I completely agree that trust has been an issue with the City long before Measure A. I made that point in my 2/16/2016 article entitled “Our Community’s Biggest Issue Is a Lack of Trust and an Abundance of Distrust.”  But the issue of Trust wasn’t at the forefront at that time and the article got lots of reads, but no commentary dialogue (1 total comment).  

      With that said, I believe the City has taken steps to remedy the situation, but those steps have not not fully solved the problems, and our human nature is wired so we “see” the failures much more clearly than we “see” the successes.  The expression, “You do ten things right and one thing wrong, and you are worse off than when you started” applies.

      Regarding your “regarding trust and this site” comment:

      — Harrington is the most visible and most vocal No on A person. He filled the Tom Sawyer role.  Alan Pryor was also approached, but demurred due to his heavy workload.  Others were approached as well, but almost all of them did not submit anything.

      — I’m not sure why they were reluctant to submit material.  Do you have any insight into why.  All articles get the same access to commentary bombardment.  David takes that bombardment each and every day.  If anything, I would say that Guest Commentary authors receive less criticism than David does (on average).

      — Are you saying that running for Council and working on Measure A are mutually exclusive?  If you are, then let me say that that position makes no sense to me.  The Measure A fight was very short in duration and very limited in scope.  Serving on Council is neither short in duration nor limited in scope.  If you asked all the individuals who worked on No on A whether they would consider running for (serving on) Council, I doubt there would be more than two would use the answer “I don’t have the time because I am working on the Measure A campaign.”

      — I agree with you that there in no omnipotent “no growth” club in Davis.  Different people oppose individual projects for very specific individual reasons.  That disparate and wide ranging reality is probably the biggest challenge that Eileen Samitz faces in her personal crusade to get UCD to house the majority of its students on the campus.  In past commentary here on the Vanguard, and in personal e-mails to her on the subject, I have referred to Eileen’s effort as Measure X-6, because I see it a six times (or more) the amount of effort that went into the Covell Village battle.

      1. Grok

        Are you saying that running for Council and working on Measure A are mutually exclusive?

        Its probably no problem if you have plenty of money to hire consultants to run the campaigns. Certainly any number of the local developers can pull that off.

  6. Michael Harrington

    Matt:  you wonder why Eileen and the many of us who love her local planning positions are less than happy with you ?  Look at the way you just wrote that she is on a “personal crusade.”   You should retract and apologize … She represents the vast majority of the voters, I can assure you.

    1. Matt Williams

      Mike, to Eileen’s credit she is the flag bearer.  She is the one who is personally out front visibly leading.  What other non-anonymous person is publicly putting themselves on the line?  She is the one who is making the argument.  She has personally taken on the responsibility of being the outward and visible sign . . . and if the vast majority of voters are indeed the inward and spiritual grace behind that outward and visible sign, very few of them are lending Eileen the personal support in a visible public manner.

      Bottom-line, you have unilaterally assumed a negative connotation to the term “personal crusade.”  Perhaps you should speak to Rosa Parks, or Martin Luther King, or Florence Nightingale, or Mahatma Ghandi, or Nelson Mandella about you pejorative interpretation of their actions.

      I not only do not retract and apologize, I restate and reinforce my comments about Eileen’s commitment to her cause.

       

      1. Roberta Millstein

        I support Eileen’s cause to have the University increase its commitment to student housing, using more densely planned (i.e., taller buildings) than it currently is.  I think I have said it before, but I will reiterate my non-anonymous support here.  I wish I had time to take a more active role.  Perhaps that sounds like an excuse, but I do find being a professor more than a full-time job, where even in the summer I am working many evenings and weekends.

        1. Matt Williams

          Your situation is a very common one Roberta, which is why Eileen’s personal dedication to putting in the up-front visible time on Measure X-6 is worthy of note.

        2. Roberta Millstein

          It is.  But your comment made it seem like she was out there alone.  I wanted to make it clear that she is not alone by stating my support for her, and I believe there are many others out here who are likewise cheering on her efforts and who will support them in whatever way they can.

        3. Matt Williams

          Roberta, because of your prior comments here in the V (as well as our personal conversations) I knew that you were/are a strong supporter of Eileen’s efforts.  My memory of past Vanguard comments by Dan Cornford, Jim Leonard, Mike Harrington, and countless anonymous posters also told me that there was copious evidence that Eileen was/is not alone in her beliefs on this subject.  I expected their individual and collective memories to be as good as mine, and as such the unilateral inference that I was saying that Eileen was alone in her beliefs on the subject boggles my mind.

          With that said, let this kerfuffle serve as an opportunity for all the supporters of Eileen’s efforts to stand up and be counted.  I personally support her efforts as far as they go, but also believe she needs to include the free right of UCD students to live where they want to (as I noted in my response to Dan Cornford).  When I look at UCD’s recent announcement of the availability of a shared single room (a “Double Up” in thier language) for “as low as $625” per month and then compare that to the less than $400 per month rent that students are paying for a room of their own in an East Davis house, it isn’t hard to imagine that many students will be very unwilling to fork over $625 per month for a shared room when they can spend $400 per month for a room of their own.

           

        4. Roberta Millstein

          Matt, you said:

          …to Eileen’s credit she is the flag bearer.  She is the one who is personally out front visibly leading.  What other non-anonymous person is publicly putting themselves on the line?  She is the one who is making the argument.  She has personally taken on the responsibility of being the outward and visible sign . . . and if the vast majority of voters are indeed the inward and spiritual grace behind that outward and visible sign, very few of them are lending Eileen the personal support in a visible public manner.

          Now, I guess one could understand that as meaning that Eileen is the only one actually fighting the good fight (not sure that that is true either), but it came across as saying that no one was standing up to support her efforts.  And so, I wanted to say, no, that’s false, there are those of us out here who support her efforts, who have said so in the past, and who are willing to put their names to it.  I’m glad to have your clarification and I agree that it would be good for others to stand up and be counted.

          (On another note, “crusade” has very, very bad connotations to some of us.  I cringe every time I read it).

        5. Matt Williams

          Roberta said . . . “On another note, “crusade” has very, very bad connotations to some of us.  I cringe every time I read it).”

          Interesting comment Roberta.  What negative connotation does “crusade” have for you?  I can see the proper noun “Crusade” having some very specific negative connotations from 1,000 years ago, although Rachel Carson’s Environmental Crusade and John Muir’s Crusade for the Wilderness and Susan B. Anthony: Crusader with a Cause and Jane Goodall’s Chimp Crusade are all good (and recent) examples of very positive connotations of even the proper noun usage of “crusade.”

          With that said the power of making a common noun into a proper noun is nowhere more clearly seen than in the two words “religion” and “Religion.”

        6. Roberta Millstein

          Matt, I find it hard to separate the meaning of “crusade” and “Crusade.”

          At first I thought, wow, how had I missed all these positive uses of the term “crusade” for environmental causes?  But upon googling, it seems that “Chimp Crusade” is the only name of the ones that you mention that was used by the person who was engaged in the activity.   (It’s the title of a film that Goodall was involved in).

        7. Matt Williams

          Roberta, the following are the definitions for the common noun “crusade” from half a dozen dictionaries.  Where is there anything negative in any of those definitions.  They appear to be universally positive. Can you help me understand where the negative connotation of the word “crusade” comes from?

          — a series of actions advancing a principle or tending toward a particular end

          — exert oneself continuously, vigorously, or obtrusively to gain an end or engage in a crusade for a certain cause or person; be an advocate for

          — lead or take part in an energetic and organized campaign concerning a social, political, or religious issue

          — a remedial enterprise undertaken with zeal and enthusiasm

          — a concerted effort or vigorous movement for a cause or against an abuse

          — a long and determined attempt to achieve something you strongly believe in

          — any vigorous, aggressive movement for the defense or advancement of an idea, cause, etc.

          — an organized campaign concerning a political, social, or religious issue, typically motivated by a fervent desire for change

          —  lead or take part in an energetic and organized campaign concerning a social, political, or religious issue

        8. Matt Williams

          Don the historical events you are citing took place in the 13th Century (or before).  According to the Oxford Dictionary the word “crusade” did not exist prior to the 18th Century.

          Origin
          Late 16th century (originally as croisade): from French croisade, an alteration (influenced by Spanish cruzado) of earlier croisée, literally ‘the state of being marked with the cross’, based on Latin crux, cruc- ‘cross’; in the 17th century the form crusado, from Spanish cruzado, was introduced; the blending of these two forms led to the current spelling, first recorded in the early 18th century.

          1. Don Shor

            Is there any particular reason you’re belaboring this point, when the answer is obvious and right in front of you?

        9. Grok

          “I personally support … the free right of UCD students to live where they want to” – Matt Williams

          you will need to get UCD to build more dorms on campus and allow students to live in them past their first year, because UCD currently bars students from living in the dorms past their first year unless they become resident advisers.

        10. Matt Williams

          Good point Grok, one which appears to support my original point that the voices of the UCD students should be heard in any referendum/vote on the issue of housing.

      2. Michael Harrington

        Sigh … Frankly is strong minded and way out there on some issues Crusader?  Maybe sometimes.   I happen to agree with him in many issues, just not the way these big exterior projects are conceived and evaluation process done. But you didn’t go after him …. Just Eileen

        1. Matt Williams

          I didn’t go after Eileen at all.  I praised her . . . likening her Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Florence Nightingale, Mahatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandella and Joan d’Arc.  Get the wax out of your ears Mike. “Personal Crusade” is/was/and always will be a compliment.

      3. Marina Kalugin

        so true, Matt….some of us truly care about it all…the town, the students, and when the town is being manipulated by those who only want to make a quick buck…  that is the epitome of Eileen….

        though she didn’t have children, she was a staunch supporter of education, GATE and disabled opportunities, and etc….she always worked hard on the side of Davis, Davissites of all ages, and the UCD students, staff and faculty…

        How did this become a smear campaign against someone who has done so much for this city over the years?

        1. Matt Williams

          Marina asked . . . “How did this become a smear campaign against someone who has done so much for this city over the years?”

          Marina, it never has been, and never will be a smear campaign against anyone.  Some people have incorrectly inferred that the use of the term “personal crusade” was a denigration of Eileen.  That inference was incorrect.  It is ironic that the people who made that inference are some of Eileen’s greatest supporters.

          It is also somewhat ironic that my use of the term “personal crusade” has been labeled as a personal attack by me on Eileen.  Given my scrupulous attention to toeing a dispassionate, evidence-based approach to my discourse both here in the Vanguard and in the community, I think it is almost impossible to find an example where I have made an ad hominem attack.  That is just how I roll.

  7. cornford

    I disagree profoundly with many of Matt Williams’ points.  I take particular exception to the unpleasant and absurd comments re Eileen’s “personal crusade” to make UCD absorb the majority of the  burden for their rapid future enrollment growth.  If ever someone has got something back to front, as so many Nishi supporters did, it is Matt on this issue.  This community owes Eileen a huge debt of gratitude (that has occasionally been expressed in these columns, but rarely) for taking on the job that our CC should be taking on.

     In other “UC Communities,” such as Berkeley, Santa Cruz and Goleta,  CCs have taken on the responsibility for negotiating formal MOU’s and mitigation measures to offset the infrastructural impacts that the growth of student enrollments has imposed on these communities.  I do not see our present or past CC doing that despite all the discussion of 2 by 2s, or at the very best groping their way there.  So,  as an aside: here Robb Davis is just  one more reason some of us do not trust the motives or competence of our city council which seems to be totally out of touch with the will of the majority of its constituents.    This is not  only evidenced  by “their” failure to win Nishi.

    Let us have an advisory vote/referendum on whether or not members of this community believe it is the prime responsibility of UC or the city of Davis to supply housing to meet the bulk of UCD’s housing needs brought on by  their (and the Regents) decision to increase enrollments so dramatically? Do Robb Davis, Matt Williams, David G, Frankly et al. seriously believe that a majority of our community think it is the city’s responsibility to supply the bulk this housing, and also not in any way to contribute to the infrastructural  costs to the city of this enrollment growth?  Do they believe it the duty of our community, and others, to almost totally subsidize the vast growth of UC enrollments?    If so we must be mixing in very different circles in Davis.

     
    Finally I want to return to MW’s gratuitous and unfair attack on Eileen.  I  consider it incredibly noble and self sacrificing of Eileen to have taken on this task.  What has she got to gain by going this?  Don’t we have in Eileen someone who is advocating almost single handedly for the interests of our community to do a job that should be done by our CC and others as a matter of basic or elemental professional duty?  To disparage Eileen’s incredible efforts in the way that MW does, shows that our local politics have truly reached a point which replicates the national political tone set by one of our presidential candidates.  Davis: have we really come to this???

    1. Frankly

      Don’t we have in Eileen someone who is advocating almost single handedly for the interests of our community

      You mean the older members of the community and not the students.

      She certainly does not advocate for my interests that Davis isn’t seen as the most stuck-up and selfish community in the region.

      She certainly does not advocate for my interests to see adequate housing meeting the real demand.

      She certainly does not advocate for my interests to see more commercial property in Davis to support the local economy, tax revenue to the city and supporting technology transfer with UCD.

      She is really only supporting the interests of the group of old Davis NIMBY no-growers… which I think you have made it clear you are part of.

    2. Matt Williams

      Dan, you too are unilaterally assigning pejorative meaning to the term “personal crusade.”  Rosa Parks conducted a personal crusade in December 1955.  Martin Luther King conducted a personal crusade his whole life.  Florence Nightingale totally changed the way patients are nursed through her personal crusade.  Mahatma Ghandi changed the fate of a whole sub-continent through his personal crusade.  Nelson Mandella changed the history of his beloved country through his personal crusade.  Joan d’Arc changed the history of France by being a flag bearer.  Feel free to add Muhammad Ali as a noteworthy personal crusader.   . . . and you say that my comparison of Eileen (in her very local way) to those historical figures is a gratuitous and unfair attack?  You too need to get the wax out of your ears.  You appear to have been living the life of polarized, partisan politics too long.

      You make good suggestions when you say “Let us have an advisory vote/referendum on whether or not members of this community believe it is the prime responsibility of UC or the city of Davis to supply housing to meet the bulk of UCD’s housing needs brought on by their (and the Regents) decision to increase enrollments so dramatically?” That is the kind of overt tangible public help that Eileen needs.  Rosa Parks didn’t accomplish her goal alone.  In fact she was building on the personal crusade of Jo Ann Robinson.  MLK didn’t accomplish his goal alone. Neither did Nightingale, Ghandi, Mandella or d’Arc.  They needed supporters like you to shed blood sweat and tears in support of their crusade.

      With respect to your proposed referendum, do you think it is important to include the voices of the UCD students in that vote/referendum?  I do.  I also think it is important to get a sense of what percentage of those students will willingly choose to live on campus rather than live off campus.

      1. Grok

        Matt, I think your off base here and stepping into dangerous territory.

        Crusade is not a nice word.

        Personal Crusade is worse.

        Suggesting that Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks were on Personal Crusades devalues their motives and their movement.

        Just relax, take the input and move on. I am not here to smear or tear you down.

         

        1. Matt Williams

          Grok, I don’t feel either smeared or torn down. This is a simple intellectual discourse about word usage and word meaning. With that said, I have the same question to you as I had for Roberta.  The dictionary definitions of the common noun “crusade” from half a dozen dictionaries do not present any negative connotations to the common noun.  They appear to be universally positive. Can you help me understand where the negative connotation of the word “crusade” comes from?

          — a series of actions advancing a principle or tending toward a particular end

          — exert oneself continuously, vigorously, or obtrusively to gain an end or engage in a crusade for a certain cause or person; be an advocate for

          — lead or take part in an energetic and organized campaign concerning a social, political, or religious issue

          — a remedial enterprise undertaken with zeal and enthusiasm

          — a concerted effort or vigorous movement for a cause or against an abuse

          — a long and determined attempt to achieve something you strongly believe in

          — any vigorous, aggressive movement for the defense or advancement of an idea, cause, etc.

          — an organized campaign concerning a political, social, or religious issue, typically motivated by a fervent desire for change

          —  lead or take part in an energetic and organized campaign concerning a social, political, or religious issue

           

        2. Grok

          OK Matt, just trying to help you out. Your word choice is offensive to many people and they have mostly been polite about letting you know about it. You have 3 choices here.

          1) take the feedback, learn and adapt

          2) take the feedback, learn from it and move on whether you agree or not.

          3) argue against it and make your self look worse.

           

        3. Matt Williams

          Not arguing against it Grok.  Simply conducting an intellectual discourse that is asking How and why the common noun “crusade”  is offensive?  Don has at least attempted to answer, using the associations of the proper noun rather than the common noun.  Roberta has indicated that she can’t separate the two different meanings.  Other than that, crickets.

        4. Grok

          Matt, why are you still grinding on this? If it is really still unclear, to you why people have a problem with you attacking Eileen as being on a personal Crusade do some internet research on your own. Ask your friends. You got some good input here, now move on and grow from this.

        5. Matt Williams

          Grok, are you choosing to purposely be obtuse?

          First, how is comparing Eileen to Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Florence Nightingale, Mahatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandella, and Joan d’Arc an attack on Eileen?

          Second, in all the thousands of comments I have made here on the vanguard, can you point to even one single comment where I have gone the ad hominem route and attacked the person?  I always have worked and always will work assiduously to always address the issue. Attacking the person is almost always a political calculation, and I have said over and over again that we need more evidence-based decision-making and less political calculation.

          You got some good input here, now move on and grow from this.

           

  8. Robb Davis

    cornford wrote:

    Robb Davis is just  one more reason some of us do not trust the motives or competence of our city council…

    It is fair game to question my competence but my motives?  What do you know of my motives?  Please explain.

    1. Misanthrop

      There is a nasty streak in Davis politics where policy differences are confused with corruption. Someone can be pro-Nishi or anti-Nishi without being corrupt in motivation or ambition. Same with any other issue. The demonization of policy differences poisons any chance for constructive civic discourse. This is a big problem and is a sign of the political immaturity that often is expressed in lieu of an honest public debate.

      Just the other day a poster called the City Council “traitors.” This from a senior citizen who can’t seem to grasp that his view is not the only legitimate position people in the community can hold.  Not only was the post left up but David cited it in another piece. This is irresponsible of David, the Vanguard and the moderator. I realize that public officials are open to a level of criticism that private citizens are not. However the Vanguard is not obligated to publish such vile and baseless discourse yet it does and in doing so can at times poison the discussion more than advance it.

    2. Grok

      It is hard to know someones motives. You can only ever hear what they say, and see their actions. Rob, what are the plans for the new LRDP subcommittee? Have you guys reached out to Eileen since she is so publicly pushing for housing on the University? Inquiring minds want to know.

      1. Ron

        Grok:  “Rob, what are the plans for the new LRDP subcommittee? Have you guys reached out to Eileen since she is so publicly pushing for housing on the University?  Inquiring minds want to know.”

        I would like to know, as well. (Also, it should be noted that despite Matt’s description of Eileen’s efforts as a “personal crusade”, the effort involves others, as well.) I understand that Matt intended this to be a compliment, but it incorrectly implies that Eileen is alone in her efforts.

        1. Robb Davis

          Grok (and Ron)  –  three things:

          1. You are correct.  Most people don’t even analyze their own motives and cannot tease out the complex reasons they act as they do.

          2. I spell my name Robb.

          3. Yes, the subcommittee plans on meeting with Eileen at our first meeting. Her work on this issue is very valuable; an excellent resource as we move forward.

        2. Grok

          I should have also said, Robb, good on you for reaching out to Eileen. No matter what level of agreement you have with her, she seems to have a lot to offer.

  9. Tia Will

    Just two thoughts at this time.

    I have known Robb Davis personally for 5 years. We met as members of the Vanguard editorial board. In those 5 years I have come to trust Robb explicitly. Not to make all the same decisions that I would. Not to adhere to my world view. On more than one occasion glaring angrily across the conference room table at each other disavowed me of that notion. But I would trust Robb as much as any individual I have ever known to make decisions based on his honest assessment of the pros and cons of the issue after careful evaluation of all sides. To me, this is the height of integrity in an elected official. Can we really ever base “trust” on a higher standard than personal integrity ?  This, I guarantee, Robb brings to every issue he considers.

    With respect to Matt Williams comments about Eileen’s “personal crusade”. To me, this is about as high a praise as one can aspire to. To have a purpose to which one is willing to devote such a large amount of time and energy as to be considered a crusader for a cause in which one truly believes is something that I believe that we could all aspire to. I have rightly and proudly been “accused” of this in my professional life in terms of preventative health care, and hope that someday ( post retirement) I will have someone call me out for it in my civic life.

    1. Grok

      Hi Tia,

      Your post got me wondering who is on the Vanguard editorial board. I looked at the “about us” page and I am a little confused. the page states that there are 10 board members, but only 3 members are identified (including you). Are there other members? Who are they? Is there a reason they are not identified?

  10. Marina Kalugin

    lack of trust goes even farther back than the Ricci Farm and Woodbridge development…that was early 90s…

    that was in South Davis, the then stepchild of this city…the dumping ground for the fast food and the car dealers which “main davis” would not have…

    and likely earlier…

    but, that was when citizens really opened their eyes and started listening and participating and voting en masse for reforms such as “height’ limitations on supposed single story residences, and so much more….that became the impetus for measure J and so it goes..

    some of the same players are still around….some left me messages on my work number that they no longer post on the DV,

    but they were happy with my support of the Chancellor and other random things…

    PS>  I have known Eileen since the early 80s…when I was running a small side business and taking time off from UCD to raise children…now, there is model of integrity!!!!

     

  11. Ron

    Matt:  “Mike, to Eileen’s credit she is the flag bearer.  She is the one who is personally out front visibly leading.  What other non-anonymous person is publicly putting themselves on the line?  She is the one who is making the argument.  She has personally taken on the responsibility of being the outward and visible sign . . . and if the vast majority of voters are indeed the inward and spiritual grace behind that outward and visible sign, very few of them are lending Eileen the personal support in a visible public manner.”

    I agree, Matt.  (However, I understand the initial negative reactions you generated by using the term “crusade”.)

    I’d like to thank Eileen again, for the overall vision/leadership that she’s demonstrated over the years.  As I’ve previously noted, Eileen generally has the most pragmatic solutions overall, regarding management of growth and development (even if one doesn’t agree with every single one of her suggestions).  Also, Eileen is a very nice/kind lady, who cares deeply about the city (including residents and students).   If I could nominate her as “citizen of year (or decade?)”, I would do so.

  12. Marina Kalugin

    PS>  Unlike the other campuses, UCD has over 5000 acres of land…by a huge measure and many times more land area than any of the other UCs…and UCD is truly taking on much of the burden.

    It is truly a mixed up area and for good reason, because UCD didn’t want an Isla Vista either….so it has to be done slowly and realistically and weight the NEEDS of the students, staff and faculty…and not just pile on massive complexes when the demand is already being met with other approved projects…

    1. Misanthrop

      A lot has been said about the land UCD owns and UC had the foresight to buy. These land holdings make UCD the best and most logical place for UC to grow. I expect UCD to continue to grow as needed by the UC system. There will be some growing pains but the reality is that the locals in Davis can slow the growth but they aren’t going to stop it. I can see UCD growing to 50,000 or 70,000 at some point in the future like Penn State or Ohio State.

  13. Marina Kalugin

    Yes, Missie, the Chancellor purposefully took on the challenge to grow the most in the shortest time to accommodate the huge demand by CA students, as well as others.    When it was rolled out, it was known as the 2020 plan…some years have passed, but lots of action has been completed in UCD  taking on way more than it’s fair share of growth.

    It was because of her personal goal to ensure access to students and to do it well… That is why we now have an excellent City College right on the West Village site, and so on…

    Growing pains do happen, when the growth is fast,  and it has been a stretch for staff, faculty, and all who are part of the mission of education…and, the state was not funding but a tiny fraction of the cost for all that growth….everyone had to tighten the belts, and that was not pleasant either…

    However, we were the logical place to take on that extra burden and the campus is now more diverse and on it’s way to be designated a “Latino hub university”  or some such designation…(anyone recall the real term?)

     

  14. Edison

    To me the “trust” issue is getting overplayed in the Vanguard and elsewhere. While I understand David’s perspective rooted in the police/CC controversy of a decade ago, I just don’t see how that translates to the current situation with respect to proposed peripheral development proposals such as Nishi.  During an almost 40-year career I worked with many city councils, county boards of supervisors, state legislators and a few members of congress.  Some were better than others, but I can tell you that all 5 of the CC members who decided to put Measure A on the ballot are among the best city council members I’ve seen anywhere.  They certainly have earned my trust and respect.  Just because I may disagree with some of their decisions does not translate to mistrust.

    In terms of Measure A, I truly believe the CC did their level best to evaluate the proposal and the EIR; I don’t believe there was any “backroom” dealing with the developer, etc.  Their prime motive was to facilitate a business park complementary to UCD’s research activities, thereby increasing tax revenue for the City.  The CC allowed housing to be added to the mix, even though much of it was to be for students–for which the City has absolutely no responsibility–and even though the EIR found the air quality impacts would be significant and unavoidable. I disagreed with the CC’s decision to place Nishi on the ballot, but nonetheless still trust them.  Making hard decisions on contentious issues is their job.

    There’s apparently now talk about putting a “Son of Nishi” on the ballot, composed entirely of housing, with no innovation park.  If the CC approves such a ballot measure, then perhaps it would be time to start calling into question whether the CC can be trusted, because the Council’s primary rationale for Measure A was ostensibly to provide an innovation park and its related tax revenue.  Most of the people I know who voted “no” on Measure A did so for a variety of reasons (traffic, air quality, etc.), but for most the overriding concern was the number and type of proposed housing units. Stripping away the innovation park and going back on the ballot for another vote would, in my mind, be disingenuous and call into question the CC’s original motives for placing Measure A before the voters in the first place.  It could be interpreted as always having been strictly for the purpose of getting housing approved with the innovation park merely serving as window dressing that could have been easily deferred later. If Nishi is to be revisited, I would suggest the exact opposite should occur:  the project concept should consist entirely of an innovation park with supportive commercial, with little or no housing, and certainly no student-oriented housing.  Providing housing for students is simply not the responsibility of the City of Davis, nor of any city in which a UC campus is located.

    I respectfully suggest that there is something the CC can do to show true leadership for the benefit of our community.  As cornford suggests above, the CC should negotiate a new MOU with UCD, one with clearly defined benchmarks for on-campus student apartments (not just freshmen dorms), with equally well-defined mitigation measures for which UCD would be responsible. The university’s rapid growth in recent years has placed significant stress on the City’s infrastructure (domestic water, waste water treatment, traffic, roads).  It’s time for UCD to start compensating the City of Davis for the infrastructure burden its enrollment policies are inflicting on full-time Davis residents and taxpayers.

    Finally, it is completely understandable why none of those involved in the campaign opposed to Measure A ran for election to the CC.  Aside from the fact that many were simply too busy trying to overcome the 30:1 spending advantage held by the “Yes on A” campaign, anyone who is the least bit familiar with city council dynamics knows that being a CC member demands a huge amount of time and energy.  The meager pay does not even come remotely close to offsetting the strain on one’s personal life. I’m actually surprised that anyone would want to serve more than one term on our CC.

     

     

    1. Matt Williams

      Excellent post Edison, the vast majority of which I agree with wholeheartedly.  The one place where I believe additional study is needed before jumping to the conclusion/solution you propose is:

      I respectfully suggest that there is something the CC can do to show true leadership for the benefit of our community.  As cornford suggests above, the CC should negotiate a new MOU with UCD, one with clearly defined benchmarks for on-campus student apartments (not just freshmen dorms), with equally well-defined mitigation measures for which UCD would be responsible. The university’s rapid growth in recent years has placed significant stress on the City’s infrastructure (domestic water, waste water treatment, traffic, roads).  It’s time for UCD to start compensating the City of Davis for the infrastructure burden its enrollment policies are inflicting on full-time Davis residents and taxpayers.

      Your proposed solution does not appear to include the voice of the student population in their right to choose where they live and how much they pay each month to live in the Davis “community.”

      Further, the cost of the infrastructure burden of each residential unit that houses a UCD student is currently being defrayed on a fair-share basis by the landlords of the UCD students.  Are you proposing a “double dip” infrastructure taxation for UCD students who choose to live within the City Limits . . . once by the rental housing property owner in their property taxes and a second time by the University?

      1. Ron

        Matt:  “Your proposed solution does not appear to include the voice of the student population in their right to choose where they live and how much they pay each month to live in the Davis “community.”

        Strange, I don’t see anything in Edison’s post which denies students (or anyone) the opportunity to choose where they live, or the amount that they pay.

        Are you suggesting that Davis has an obligation to construct (alternative) housing, for those who don’t want to take advantage of University housing?  And, that this potential desire should “trump” current zoning and potential concerns of current residents?

      2. Matt Williams

        Ron asked . . . “Are you suggesting that Davis has an obligation to construct (alternative) housing, for those who don’t want to take advantage of University housing?  And, that this potential desire should “trump” current zoning and potential concerns of current residents?”

        I am absolutely not suggesting that Ron.

        What was proposed first by Dan and then referenced by Edison was an advisory vote/referendum of the members of “this community.” It was not clear whether the definition of “this community” includes the UCD student population or excludes it.

        The impact of the free exercise of student choice in where they live does not in and of itself mandate any new construction of housing (rental or otherwise).  In absolute numbers, the existing rental housing supply is sufficient to provide beds for all the UCD students who choose to live off-campus rather than on-campus.  However, that existing rental housing supply is not sufficient to provide beds for both the UCD students who choose to live off-campus rather than on-campus and the non-students who are looking for rental housing in Davis.  The normal workings of the free market for housing in Davis will mean that each year more and more non-student renters will be forced to find their housing outside the City Limits of Davis because groups of UCD students will have outbid them for the ever-more-expensive rental housing units in Davis.

        Given that very basic personal freedom of choice (unless you propose to take that freedom of choice away from the students), it would appear to be wise to get a clear sense of what proportion of the 36,000 UCD students will choose off-campus housing over on-campus housing.  That is what I am suggesting.

         

        1. Ron

          Matt:  ” . . . it would appear to be wise to get a clear sense of what proportion of the 36,000 UCD students will choose off-campus housing over on-campus housing.  That is what I am suggesting.”

          When sufficient housing is built on campus (e.g., including apartments), this won’t be a major concern.  (At least, not something that would justify overriding existing zoning/planning throughout Davis.)

          On-campus housing provides the safest, easiest, most convenient and environmentally-friendly “commute” for students, with the fewest impacts on the city.

           

        2. Matt Williams

          Grok and Ron,

          First, I didn’t push for “a costly advisory vote.”  That idea was put forward by Dan Cornfeld and seconded by Edison.  I pointed out that if the community were to conduct such an advisory vote, then including the UCD enrollment in the survey made considerable sense.

          Second, in the absence of the market forces associated with individual personal choice the statement “On-campus housing provides the safest, easiest, most convenient and environmentally-friendly “commute” for students” is highly rational and sensible.  However, as we are seeing in the various components of this year’s election cycles human beings don’t make important decisions (like housing, transportation, voting, etc.) based on rational, sensible criteria.  Their feelings factor into their personal choice decisions, and often trump the rational and sensible altogether.

        3. Ron

          Matt:  “However, as we are seeing in the various components of this year’s election cycles human beings don’t make important decisions (like housing, transportation, voting, etc.) based on rational, sensible criteria.  Their feelings factor into their personal choice decisions, and often trump the rational and sensible altogether.”

          And – this is the reason that you are advocating for a survey?  Again (depending upon the results of such a survey), are you suggesting that Davis has an obligation to construct additional (alternative) housing, for those who don’t want to take advantage of University housing?  And, that this potential desire should “trump” current planning, zoning, and probable concerns of the city’s 67,000 current residents?

           

        4. Matt Williams

          Ron said . . . “And – this is the reason that you are advocating for a survey?  Again (depending upon the results of such a survey), are you suggesting that Davis has an obligation to construct additional (alternative) housing, for those who don’t want to take advantage of University housing?  And, that this potential desire should “trump” current planning, zoning, and probable concerns of the city’s 67,000 current residents?”

          No, no, no Ron.  What you have described would be concentrating on the Supply side of the housing equation.  A survey isn’t going to tell us anything about the rental housing Supply.  What a survey of UCD’s 36,000 students will tell us will be about the characteristics of housing Demand within our community.

          Ron also said . . .  “[$625 per month per resident] Sounds affordable to me.  What exactly is your point”

          If you take a current 2-bedroom apartment being rented to a family with two parents and one child, and then apply the $625 per month per resident economic model to that apartment, the four students represent a $2,500 per month income stream for the apartment owner.  Many, many three-person families will not be able to afford $2,500 per month, and as a result will find themselves displaced by four students at the end of their lease.  That is my point . . . and that point has nothing to do with  the community’s current current zoning and planning regulations and/or practices.

        5. Ron

          Matt:  No, no, no Ron.  What you have described would be concentrating on the Supply side of the housing equation.  A survey isn’t going to tell us anything about the rental housing Supply.  What a survey of UCD’s 36,000 students will tell us will be about the characteristics of housing Demand within our community.

          So again, (depending upon the results of such a survey), are you suggesting that Davis has an obligation to construct additional (alternative) housing, for those who don’t want to take advantage of University housing?  And, that this potential desire should “trump” current planning, zoning, and probable concerns of the city’s 67,000 current residents?

          Matt:  “If you take a current 2-bedroom apartment being rented to a family with two parents and one child, and then apply the $625 per month per resident economic model to that apartment, the four students represent a $2,500 per month income stream for the apartment owner.  Many, many three-person families will not be able to afford $2,500 per month, and as a result will find themselves displaced by four students at the end of their lease.  That is my point . . . and that point has nothing to do with  the community’s current zoning and planning regulations and/or practices.

          I don’t know what your point is.  You questioned the affordability of on-campus housing (at $625/month for a shared room, that you provided as an example).  I stated that this does seem affordable for an average student. On-campus housing is reserved for students, and does not displace non-students.

        6. Matt Williams

          Ron said . . . “So again, (depending upon the results of such a survey), are you suggesting that Davis has an obligation to construct additional (alternative) housing, for those who don’t want to take advantage of University housing?  And, that this potential desire should “trump” current planning, zoning, and probable concerns of the city’s 67,000 current residents?”

          No, any such suggestion prior to having the information in hand would be nothing more than a political calculation.  Once the community has all the information in hand then conducting a community-wide dialogue about the information and what the impacts on the community of the demographic and economic trends that information illuminates will inform a collective community decision about what the future should be.   Until and unless the community decides to change the zoning and planning regulations, then those regulations stand.

          You keep pushing for a discussion of a solution.  Given that we really don’t have a clear picture of the problem, jumping ahead to a solution is premature at best.  The vast majority of the problems our society is currently attempting to solve are the result of incomplete/inadequate/misdirected solutions put in place at some prior time.

          Ron said . . . “I don’t know what your point is.  You questioned the affordability of on-campus housing (at $625/month for a shared room, that you provided as an example).  I stated that this does seem affordable for an average student. On-campus housing is reserved for students, and does not displace non-students.”

          Ron, do you really think $625 per month per person is an affordable rent for an apartment room shared by two students?  Three of my apartment mates currently pay less than $400 per month per person for an apartment room that they share with no one.  In the West Village case the “average” student is paying $7,500 per year for their half a room ($15,000 per year combined for the two of them).  Do you really think the “average student” at UCD pays $7,500 per year for housing rent payments?

          However, that economic reality is only the prelude to the more important point that for the 2-bedroom apartment rental market, based on the West Village example the “going rate” for a 2-bedroom apartment is $2,500 per month.  How many working families (with or without children) can afford to spend $2,500 per month for a 2-bedroom apartment?  $2,500 per month rental rates for 2-bedroom apartments means Davis is likely to be seeing significant shrinkage in the working family population living in existing Davis apartments, and a significant increase in the UCD student population living in existing Davis apartments.

        7. Ron

          Matt:  “You keep pushing for a discussion of a solution.  Given that we really don’t have a clear picture of the problem, jumping ahead to a solution is premature at best.”

          You are (somewhat) correct in your observation.  However, what I’m really trying to do is to flush out your probable “solutions”, given the questions you ask.  (Since you have been, and may continue to be a city council candidate, it’s important for everyone to know where you generally stand.)  Your latest suggestion seems to have a “built-in” conclusion that the city should construct more student rental housing. Presumably, this would require changes to existing plans/zoning.

          Regarding your other question, yes – I do think that $625/month is affordable for most college students.  Your comparison of what a family might pay for an off-campus rental does not really apply.  Constructing residential facilities on campus will help ensure that off-campus housing is not converted to student rentals.

          It’s not necessarily a simple equation, to compare the cost of on-campus housing vs. off-campus housing.  For example, a potential student would consider how far a unit is from campus, as well as the cost in nearby communities.  (Also, there is probably a limited number of homeowners who are willing to convert their homes into rentals aimed at students.)  Perhaps most importantly, I sincerely doubt that any on-campus housing would remain “unoccupied” in the long-term, as a result of charging too much rent.  Any location will be priced competitively, in the long run.

           

        8. Matt Williams

          Ron said . . . “Since you have been, and may continue to be a city council candidate, it’s important for everyone to know where you generally stand.”

          Fair enough Ron.  Where I generally stand is that the first and foremost thing we need to do is (A) follow an open, transparent and reliably repeatable process in (B) doing our homework, and (C) sharing the results of that homework with the community so that the community can believe/know that an informed decision is being made that is consistent with the regulations and principles of the community.

          I do not place ideology before process.  Your question appears to be trying to uncover my ideological bents.  Those ideological bents are that a community has established a process for a reason, and unless the community goes through an inclusive public process to consider changing the established community regulations.

        9. Matt Williams

          Ron said . . . “Regarding your other question, yes – I do think that $625/month is affordable for most college students.  Your comparison of what a family might pay for an off-campus rental does not really apply.” 

          It applies Ron in three ways.  (1) if the economics of student group rental demand drive up the average price of rentals in the City, and (2) if the fiscal robustness of groups of students makes them able to outbid working families for rentals in the City, and (3) if the economics of student group rentals causes more existing landlords to negotiate and sign master lease agreements with UCD.

          Ron also said . . . “Constructing residential facilities on campus will help ensure that off-campus housing is not converted to student rentals.”

          That is true, if the residential facilities are actually built.  As we have seen with the long pause in the building out of west Village, the third party entities that UCD chooses to contract with (like Carmel Partners) will only commit to building units when the demand for those units is clearly and tangibly demonstrated.  If UCD students choose not to pay $1,300 a month for room shared by two occupants, and rather exercise their free choice to pursue housing in the City Limits, then the third-party entity will not build units above the demonstrable demand.

          Ron also said . . . “Perhaps most importantly, I sincerely doubt that any on-campus housing would remain “unoccupied” in the long-term, as a result of charging too much rent.  Any location will be priced competitively, in the long run.”

          I agree wholeheartedly Ron.  Built units will not remain unoccupied in the long run.  The real issue will be whether the third party actually builds the units.

        10. Ron

          Matt:  I do not place ideology before process.  Your question appears to be trying to uncover my ideological bents. 

          I was tied up for awhile today, and couldn’t get back to you.

          Your questions/fact-finding often seem to have an embedded conclusion (or, at least a direction that would lead to a conclusion).

          For example, if you ask students if they prefer on-campus housing, vs. off-campus housing, some would prefer the former, some the later.  (Of course, a survey may not capture all of the nuances that would actually go into an individual’s decision, such as price, distance from campus, prices in surrounding communities, etc.)  In any case, is this what you’re trying to determine, by suggesting a survey?  Given that some would prefer off-campus housing, would you then use this “evidence-based approach” to state that the city should “obviously” build more student housing within the city?  If so, would you advocate zoning/planning changes to accomplish this?

          Your other (related) point also seems to have an embedded “conclusion”:

          If one accepts your premise that students (generally?) “out-compete” families for rentals (throughout Davis?), and will continue to do so even if housing is built on campus, would you then advocate for more rental housing within the city, perhaps until the market reaches some level of saturation (in the hope that that families are not pushed out)?  And again, would you advocate zoning/planning changes to accomplish this?

          Also, regarding West Village, might the recession have had something to do with the “pause” in construction that you mentioned (which now seems to be resuming)?  (Perhaps we need a survey of the builder/University, to find out?)  Just kidding.

          Also, if prices rise (as you’ve stated), wouldn’t that make building on the University more appealing (if one accepts your premise that the builder “paused” construction due to lack of demand at their rental price goal)?  In other words, rising prices will eventually ensure construction on campus?

          You also seem to have concluded that (new) University rentals have higher rent than (new) off-campus rentals. However, I’m not sure that this is true, or can even be compared at this point.

          Again, the questions you (or anyone) choose to ask often indicate a bias of some type, as well as a “direction”.

           

        11. Matt Williams

          Ron said . . . “For example, if you ask students if they prefer on-campus housing, vs. off-campus housing, some would prefer the former, some the later.  (Of course, a survey may not capture all of the nuances that would actually go into an individual’s decision, such as price, distance from campus, prices in surrounding communities, etc.)”

          Ron, I know my limitations, and I am definitely not a professional in the field of surveys.  However, I would certainly not expect any survey to present the Manichean alternative you have proposed above.  I would expect the survey to include multiple questions that illuminate the housing choice preferences of the students based on  factors such as price, distance from campus, prices in surrounding communities, etc.  If the survey does not illuminate those decision driving factors, then it is useless and a waste of money.

          Ron also said . . . “In any case, is this what you’re trying to determine, by suggesting a survey?  Given that some would prefer off-campus housing, would you then use this “evidence-based approach” to state that the city should “obviously” build more student housing within the city?  If so, would you advocate zoning/planning changes to accomplish this?”

          The purpose of the survey would be to accurately map the characteristics of housing demand in the community, illuminating price elasticity of demand both in the student and non-student demographic cohorts, with the students further segmented by where they are in their 4-year (or post-grad) educational trajectory.  The survey results would be evidential input to a community dialogue about the housing challenges in the community.

          Ron also said . . . “If one accepts your premise that students (generally?) “out-compete” families for rentals (throughout Davis?), and will continue to do so even if housing is built on campus, would you then advocate for more rental housing within the city, perhaps until the market reaches some level of saturation (in the hope that that families are not pushed out)?  And again, would you advocate zoning/planning changes to accomplish this?”

          I do not see my role, either as a citizen or as a community leader, to be an advocate of any individual perspective.  I do see my role, both as a citizen or as a community leader, to be a community dialogue facilitator within an open, transparent, reliable repeatable framework, so that the community can make informed decisions about its future.  The one thing I do advocate for is doing our homework and robustly sharing the information garnered from that homework.

          Ron also said . . . “Also, regarding West Village, might the recession have had something to do with the “pause” in construction that you mentioned (which now seems to be resuming)?” 

          Of course the recession had something to do with the “pause.”  Demand is driven by fiscal factors.  The recession depressed those both those fiscal factors and demand.  Without demonstrable demand for their product, Carmel Partners wasn’t willing to proceed with their buildout as originally planned.  Of course the depressed demand at West Village was not solely due to recession issues.  The Price elasticity of demand for housing across the entire Davis housing market made the very expensive housing at West Village less desirable when compared to the alternatives.

          Ron also said . . . “Also, if prices rise (as you’ve stated), wouldn’t that make building on the University more appealing (if one accepts your premise that the builder “paused” construction due to lack of demand at their rental price goal)?”

          Yes, that is how Price Elasticity of Demand works.   The relative increase in appeal would only come about as long as the rental prices at West Village do not rise at the same rate as the rest of the market.

          Ron also said . . . “In other words, rising prices will eventually ensure construction on campus?”

          No, it would not ensure it.  It would increase its likelihood, but ensure is an absolute, and any bookie in Las Vegas would say that there was still risk that the construction would not happen due to other factors.

          Ron also said . . . “You also seem to have concluded that (new) University rentals have higher rent than (new) off-campus rentals. However, I’m not sure that this is true, or can even be compared at this point.”

          No, I have not concluded that.  What I have concluded is that (new) University rentals have higher rent than (existing) off-campus rentals.  That is the meaningful comparison with respect to both (A) the current and ongoing displacement of existing working families by students in our community’s rental properties, and (B) the impact of differential pricing on the existing Price Elasticity of Demand within the UCD student population.

          Ron concluded by saying . . . “Again, the questions you (or anyone) choose to ask often indicate a bias of some type, as well as a “direction”.”

          I agree wholeheartedly, which is why it is essential to hire very experienced information survey professionals to construct and conduct the survey.  As I stated before, I do not see my role, either as a citizen or as a community leader, to be an advocate of any individual perspective.   The purpose of asking questions is to illuminate the evidence so that the community can make an informed collective decision about its future.

          With that said, the way that people “hear” the questions that are asked often indicates a bias of some type, as well as a “direction.”  You appear to be “directing” me into an advocate role that I have continually and consistently said is not how I see either leadership or my role.  The one thing I do advocate for is doing our homework and robustly sharing the information garnered from that homework.

    2. Jim Frame

      The university’s rapid growth in recent years has placed significant stress on the City’s infrastructure (domestic water, waste water treatment, traffic, roads).  It’s time for UCD to start compensating the City of Davis for the infrastructure burden its enrollment policies are inflicting on full-time Davis residents and taxpayers.

      The university operates its own domestic water and wastewater facilities (though it is soon to buy water from the WDCWA via the new pipeline just installed in front of my house).  It also handles all or almost all of its storm drain runoff.  So no infrastructure burden is imposed via those means.

      Traffic and housing impacts are the other main impacts.  The traffic burden would seem to be susceptible to a legal voluntary fund transfer from UCD to the city, but housing impacts are a lot murkier.  I’ll leave it to the attorneys, but a quick reading of the Marina and San Marcos decisions makes the legality of housing impact mitigation look a lot sketchier to me.

       

        1. Frankly

          And this is BS too.   Those 25,000 living on campus would still have to use the city for most of their services.

          Maybe we should force all these undesirable UC students into a walled compound that prevents them from coming into our precious little hamlet.

  15. South of Davis

    Misanthrop wrote:

    > These land holdings make UCD the best and most logical place for UC to grow.

    Yet UC Davis has been buying  and leasing apartments in town and I heard they are looking to buy and/or leas more (apartments that if they buy will pay no property taxes or school parcel taxes).

      1. Don Shor

        The other thing they’re doing is entering into more master lease agreements with landlords for transfer students, effectively pushing non-student renters out of existing rentals.

        1. Adam Smith

          UCD is not the only UC school to do this.    UCLA controls or owns at least 2 off campus complexes that show up in its totals for UCLA housing.     Grok presented some research last week about on campus housing, but I’m pretty sure that his/her numbers included UC controlled off campus housing.

        2. Grok

          This is true. The data I presented showed students housed by the University. At UCLA many of those students housed by the university are housed in off campus apartments owned my UCLA. In Davis, I included the students housed in the off campus Cuarto dorms. This was primarily done because that is the data available. it in no way devalues the data, and Davis is still behind the other schools in providing housing for students.

      1. South of Davis

        Grok wrote:

        > please sight your source.

        I’m glad Don also had info on the program since I won’t mention the name of the Davis Apartment owner that told me UCD contacted him this year about a sale or master lease of his building for JC transfer students, but there is some info here:

        http://housing.ucdavis.edu/housing/sha/

        David also had a map of Davis in the past week showing a lot more of UCD owned (and/or leased) housing (including the big newer one you can see from 113) that are in the “city” of Davis (north of Russell) and pay no property tax or parcel taxes…

        1. Don Shor

          I know a young man in his 20s, not a student, who was informed that his lease would not renew for next year, nor would any of the other leases on that wing of his apartment building, because the owner was contracting with the university. Thus sending them out into the 0.2% vacancy-rate apartment rental market.

        2. Grok

          That’s terrible Don. the University is eating its own when it acts like this. UCD should declare an emergency and fill the Mondavi center parking lot with FEMA trailers so students have a place to live until they can get more housing built.

        3. South of Davis

          Don wrote:

          >  the owner was contracting with the university.

          I know that if UC Davis “buys” an entire apartment building or office building the town and the state stop getting any property tax or parcel taxes from the property.

          I also know that if UC Davis “leases” an entire apartment or building office building the town and the state stop getting any property tax or parcel taxes from the property.

          Does anyone know if UC Davis “leases half” of an apartment or office building if the property taxes and parcel taxes are cut in half.

          If someone bought an apartment in town for $150K/unit his property taxes and parcel taxes are about $150/month (and going up by 2% every year like the taxes on our homes) so he could lease to UC Davis for $100/month less and still make more money (while the rest of us taxpayers and DJUSD parents make up for the lost tax and parcel tax revenue)

          P.S. To David this might be an interesting topic for a story and I bet Vanguard posters and commercial real estate agents Jim Gray and/or Michael Bisch would know the answers off the top of their heads…

        4. South of Davis

          Grok wrote:

          >  UCD should declare an emergency and fill the Mondavi

          > center parking lot with FEMA trailers

          Maybe UCD can hire this guy to run the project since he has experience with FEMA trailers and having people sleep in an entertainment venue (the Superdome is even bigger than the Mondavi Center) and according to President GW Bush he did a “heck of a job” last time he did this…

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_D._Brown

  16. Edison

    In response to Mr. Williams, all I am suggesting is that the most logical and most sustainable location for UCD students to live after freshman year is on campus.  Currently, sophomore through senior year students do not have the ability to choose whether to continue living on campus or in an off-campus location.  Their choices are constrained by UCD’s virtually complete failure to plan for and construct affordable on-campus apartments to accommodate students after completion of freshman year.  So, by default the students end up either living in Davis apartments or minidorms, or commuting from other cities such as Winters, Woodland, Dixon, West Sacramento and West Sacramento.  (The UCD “Campus Tomorrow” website has an excellent exhibit showing the numbers of students commuting to class from those cities and beyond.)  The option of living on campus with a short commute to class is completely foreclosed to them. UCD has the land to accommodate a much higher number of students residing on campus–even more so if higher multi-story apartment structures are built.  If UCD were to build such apartment housing and price it competitively, then the students would truly have residential choices that are unavailable to them now.

    1. hpierce

      Came to UCD in ’72, as a Freshman… lived in on-campus dorms thru the end of Jr year (liked [sorta’, but was better than cooking for myself] dorm food, simplicity, proximity to classes, etc.) was told by UCD that I was “kicked out” for Senior year… adjusted, but would have preferred staying in the dorms…  did turn out to be slightly cheaper…

      But UCD gave me no choice…

      My first year dorms have been razed (Hughes) but my soph/jun dorms remain (Regan Hall/Segundo)

      1. Grok

        Hpierce, I think this is a great point. I am sure there is a good sized group of UCD students that would live in the dorms past freshman year given the choice. It is just easier in several ways. Its not for everyone, but its currently not an option at all.

        Regan is likely going to be razed based on the new LRDP. hopefully they will put in some large new dorms.

    2. Matt Williams

      Another thoughtful response Edison.  I don’t disagree with anything you say in it.  Where it comes a cropper with reality is what you state:

      If UCD were to build such apartment housing and price it competitively,

      Building the new apartment housing is very realistically achievable; however, the only way that UCD can achieve your goal of “price it competitively” is to incur a substantial annual loss for each new unit it rents. In these times of very tight UC finances, the chances are very remote that the UC Regents will approve spending the capital dollars on a perpetually money losing venture.  If they follow the same economic model they have used at West Village, where the landlord is not actually the University, but rather a for-profit third party (Carmel Partners), the chances are reduced to zero.  What for-profit company will invest their capital dollars in an investment that is guaranteed to perpetually be a financial loser?

      1. Eileen Samitz

        Matt,

        The West Village apartments could have been more affordable had the apartments been allowed to have more than one student per bedroom as UCD is doing with their dorms. In fact, they are planning to “triple up” in some of the dorms for the freshman as I have seen in one UCD article due to their accelerated increases in student population. However, finally realizing that the West Village single student per apartment situation is not working since there were actually vacancies in West Village (while UCD was complaining that our City vacancy rate was low) UCD is finally allowing doubling up in some of the larger West Village apartments.

        Meanwhile, I see that the subject of your expression of my “personal crusade” regarding came up yesterday, and I appreciate the kind words of support by quite a few people clarifying that this term was really was not appropriate. Based upon all the feedback I have gotten on this issue, it is clear that the vast majority of our community agrees that UCD needs to provide far more on-campus housing to support its own growth. I was unable to post yesterday due to dealing with a acutely sick pet.

        1. Marina Kalugin

          tripling up is a win-win for all…and the fastest way to increase the “available” beds –   tripling up is nothing new…anytime there was a surge, and unexpected higher than predicted number of acceptances, and so on….tripling up was done….   many students like it and they and their parents love the savings one gets….

          those who can afford the high rates of “apartments” on campus and near to campus, often can afford and want single rooms after their dorm year….

          thus, the “suites” idea grew and the developers also take advantage of those big bucks…

          stop by the parking structures sometime and compare what kinda cars the “poor students” are driving and what the staff and faculty “drive”….there are many, many truly wealthy students around and they are the ones who live in West Village….

          others live at home and commute…or take the bus from the older cheaper apartments, where they still stuff lots of students per room….

        2. Matt Williams

          Eileen Samitz said . . . “The West Village apartments could have been more affordable had the apartments been allowed to have more than one student per bedroom as UCD is doing with their dorms.  In fact, they are planning to “triple up” in some of the dorms for the freshman as I have seen in one UCD article due to their accelerated increases in student population. However, finally realizing that the West Village single student per apartment situation is not working since there were actually vacancies in West Village (while UCD was complaining that our City vacancy rate was low) UCD is finally allowing doubling up in some of the larger West Village apartments.”

          I agree wholeheartedly Eileeen; however, based on the current advertised pricing on the Carmel Partners website (see http://www.carmelapartments.com/uc-davis-west-village-davis-ca) the monthly rental for one of those “double ups” is “as low as $625” per month.  That means the monthly rent going to Carmel Partners for each occupied “double up” is $1,250.  That begs the following question, Is $625 per month for half a room shared with a roommate “affordable.”

          With regard to your second paragraph, I’m still waiting for a clear explanation of how putting you in the came category as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Florence Nightingale, Mahatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandella, and Joan d’Arc is “not appropriate.” They, like you, were each the singular publicly visible flagbearer of an organized campaign concerning a political, social, or religious issue, typically motivated by a fervent desire for change.

        3. Barack Palin

          Matt, we often don’t agree but you have nothing to apologize for with your “crusade” comment.  Comeon people, are we really getting that thin skinned?

           

        4. Ron

          Matt:  “That begs the following question, Is $625 per month for half a room shared with a roommate “affordable.”

          Sounds affordable to me.  What exactly is your point, and what exactly are you proposing as an alternative?

          Regarding Eileen’s “personal crusade” (as you’ve described it), it has generated negative reaction from some (as noted in the comments).  It also seems to imply that Eileen is in this effort “alone”, which isn’t the case.  But, I’d suggest just letting it go, and accepting your subsequent explanation.

          I probably won’t be able to respond further, until perhaps later today.

           

        5. Davis Progressive

          “Matt, we often don’t agree but you have nothing to apologize for with your “crusade” comment.  Comeon people, are we really getting that thin skinned?”

          i agree.  crusade is definitely a negative connotation but given matt’s explanation, an insult was not intended.  even if it was, not a big deal.  you guys have your you know what’s in a wad over nothing.

        6. Frankly

          i agree.  crusade is definitely a negative connotation

          Especially from those belonging to the crusade to stamp out all words and speech that is upsetting to liberals or any protected group.

  17. Adam Smith

    UCD has the land to accommodate a much higher number of students residing on campus–even more so if higher multi-story apartment structures are built.  If UCD were to build such apartment housing and price it competitively, then the students would truly have residential choices that are unavailable to them now.

    Substitute the word “Davis” for UCD  and “near campus” for  “on campus” and the statement also holds true .

  18. Adam Smith

    The university’s rapid growth in recent years has placed significant stress on the City’s infrastructure (domestic water, waste water treatment, traffic, roads).  It’s time for UCD to start compensating the City of Davis for the infrastructure burden its enrollment policies are inflicting on full-time Davis residents and taxpayers.

     

    This statement simply isn’t true.   Further, the residents of the city of Davis have acquired a significant amount of wealth, diversity,  cultural richness and educational benefits because the city of Davis is co-located with UCD (what other non-collegiate city the size of Davis can boast of the cultural amenities that come with UCD?).  Why in the world would Davis be any different than Woodland or Dixon, if not for the population that has located here because of UCD.

    It’s an opportunity, not a burden, for Davis to supply more residential housing for UCD professors and staff and students.      Now that the water problems are largely solved for  Davis (and Woodland), adding population will actually defray the huge cost of the infrastructure.    It’s also an opportunity for Woodland, Dixon, Winters and West Sacramento.    I imagine (but don’t know) that those cities welcome the opportunity to bring in students, professors and staff into their cities.  My guess is that those cities will be spending a good bit of time with UCD on its long range needs and how they might be able to fill the needs.      If Davis refuses to add apartments and housing, watch those cities  do so.

     

  19. hpierce

    Guess I’m too ‘long in the tooth’… altho’ it was probably re-runs, there was “Crusader Rabbit”… see, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nk79UGcCDVc

    Eerily reminiscent of politics today, altho’ the cartoon is 60+years old (running ‘rabbits’ out of Texas).

    Now, seems we have some “Crusader Rabids”… wish I knew how to cartoon…

  20. Adam Smith

    Crusade is not a nice word.

    From Miriam Webster:

    a major effort to change something

    What’s not nice about it?    How would this definition inappropriately describe Eileen’s  effort?

     

     

    1. hpierce

      Context is 95% of most things… and, “context” is in the ‘eye of the beholder… I”m one who differs with Eileen on MANY issues, but I respect her as a person… she and I have gotten along very well when we aren’t talking certain issues. Differ with her as you will, as I do, but she is a good person.

    2. Eileen Samitz

      Adam,

      The problem is that it sounds a bit sarcastic, although it may not have been intended to be, but also this is an issue that our community as a whole is concerned about, not just me.  So let’s just say it would be best if the term were not used again.

  21. Marina Kalugin

    dear folks who think they know it all

    The reason  UCD cannot price apartments “competitively” is because as a public university it has much higher building standards, and ADA standards, which typical Davis developers do not have to meet.

    Thus, all dorms and  apartments, which are built, owned and run by UCD  have to have elevators and so on….

    Thus, the only way UCD has been able to “build” apartments in recent years, is to “allow” developers, like Whitcombe to build and manage and charge a pretty penny for non-ADA compliant new housing….

    Because, now the developers want their hefty cut, the costs are even higher…..this is dumb dumb “planning and building’  101  for those who on this thread, who truly still get little clue…

      1. Jim Frame

        UCD has to pay contractors prevailing wages. This makes building on campus more expensive, than it is off campus.

        ‘Tain’t necessarily so; it depends on the specific funding source.  DIR’s initial ruling that PW had to be paid at West Village was reversed after the university presented its case.

         

  22. Marina Kalugin

    PPS>   Developers are truly loving it these days…they can build for less than they built just a few years ago, and charge the huge “top of the market” rates for “luxury” homes and apartments…

    Economies of scale are at work right now, as they slap up the ticky tacky garbage on tiny lots….(the “village” feel aka how to stuff more into a small space and get kudos for doing it…..)

    and as they got a financial break of $10mil by the current “best CC council” members yet,

    and if you go look at the housing and apartments these luxury developers are putting up, before the “finishing” touches go up,

    one will see lots of cheap and shoddy materials and workmanship…but since the housing bubble is at the top of the market yet again, they can get away with that for their million plus houses and overpriced condos, et al.

     

    that pushes up the median for everyone else and so there is goes again…

     

     

  23. Ron

    Interesting article:

    http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/real-estate/these-landlords-are-making-a-killing-off-college-students/ar-BBv6GZ1?li=BBnbfcN

    From article”  “That doesn’t mean developers won’t eventually overbuild.  College enrollment has been declining in the years since the Great Recession, even as investment in off-campus student housing has soared.  At some point, there will be so many student apartments that the industry will lose its appeal as a safe haven, Burke said.”

     

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