Commentary: UCD Can and Must Do Better with On-Campus Housing

Poly Canyon Village as one model for UC Davis
Poly Canyon Village as one model for UC Davis

There has been too much focus on the exact amount of housing that UC Davis should provide on its campus.  The bottom line is that UC Davis has not put nearly enough housing, and really has no legitimate excuse for being near the bottom in terms of providing for both overall students and undergraduates.

The Vanguard received this week a public records request from UC where they provided us with the latest figures, based on enrollment as of November 2015 and a housing survey conducted in December 2015 and revised in April 2016.

UC-Housing

Let us break down the numbers here a little bit because, in a lot of ways, they are stunning.

UC Davis houses just 9834 students on campus out of about 36,000 total students.  That accounts for just 27.2 percent of all students.  That is not only below the system-wide 33.9 percent average but, of the regular campuses (excluding the Medical School at UC San Francisco), only Berkeley has a lower percentage of students living on campus.

The typical UC school houses about 38 percent of its undergraduate population on campus, and for Davis that is just 31 percent.  And again, that means more than 20,000 students attending UC Davis are crammed into apartments and mini-dorms around town.

We can understand why Berkeley – a dense, urban campus, surrounded by either steep terrain or urban development – would struggle to house their students on campus, but UC Davis really has no limitations of that sort and certainly, even if we can’t agree about how much developable land they have, they have ample land surrounding the campus that can be developed for housing – and yet they have not done so.

Through the LRDP (Long Range Development Plan) process, the university has committed to housing about 90 percent of new students in the next decade.  Given that projection of 7800 new students, we can figure on somewhere near 7000 more beds.  The reality, I think, is that we need to add somewhere between 10,000 and 11,000 new beds in order to not only house new students, but alleviate the crunch of current students.

Last week, the Vanguard visited Cal Poly and San Luis Obispo to understand better how other campuses are dealing with the issue.  Cal Poly has similar challenges to Davis.  The city has about a one percent growth cap, and the community is disinclined to build housing for students within the city limits.

The city of Davis is larger than that of San Luis Obispo (65,000 to somewhere around 45,000) and UC Davis is approaching the 40,000 student mark, or will be soon, while Cal Poly is half of that.

But Cal Poly has considerable less land to develop on.  Right now the campus is in a bit of disarray, as they have torn out parking off Grand Avenue to build new dorms that will change the nature of the campus greatly.

As we noted last week, Cal Poly wants to house about 65 percent of its students on campus “as soon as possible.”

A January article in the San Luis Obispo newspaper quotes a Cal Poly spokesperson, Matt Lazier, stating that “in the coming months the university intends to begin the process of developing another student housing complex with the goal of housing all freshmen and sophomores on campus by 2020.”

That is a step that UC Davis hasn’t taken at all.

Poly Canyon Village, which we see as a potential model for what Davis can do, holds about 2700 students on 30 acres of land and consists of about nine 5-story buildings.

Could UC Davis undertake a massive project on 100 acres or so that could house 10,000 students, and have retail, food and entertainment in a mixed-use project?  Certainly.  There is certainly the ability do this out where West Village is currently located.

Again, we have in the past suggested that Nishi could become high-density student housing.  While there are concerns about air quality there, a one-year living situation with high-quality ventilation might solve those concerns.

But the university certainly has enough options and most people think the university has been slow, if not negligent, in addressing its housing issues in the past.

There is no legitimate reason why Cal Poly, with far less land, can commit to having 65 percent of its students on campus (a higher percentage even than UCLA and UC Santa Cruz), and Davis cannot get up to 40 or 50 percent.

If UC Davis would do that, it would help resolve a lot of the rental housing pressures on the students.  The 0.2 percent vacancy rate is not only a burden for students trying to find housing, it causes problems for their treatment by some landlords in town, it pushes single family homes into de facto mini-dorms, and prevents the city from addressing a number of other problems.

—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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127 thoughts on “Commentary: UCD Can and Must Do Better with On-Campus Housing”

    1. Eileen Samitz

      Why not? UCD has plenty of land to provide this housing upon, and San Luis Obispo has committed to providing 100% of all new student housing on campus. So why not UCD particularly since UCD is so far behind in what they were supposed to provide on-campus over the years?

    2. Grok

      I would advocate that UCD build more than 10K units. It would free up housing in Davis for the new faculty and staff that the University will need with the increase in enrollment.

  1. MrsW

    Here are some ideas that could help, until more permanent housing is built.  Have any of these been considered?

    1) Contract with DQ University to use their dorms and parking. Provide Unitrans bus service to DQ University.  It would particularly be worth exploring, if it could be done in a manner that is win-win for UCD and DQU.  At the end of 7 years, for example, DQU could re-claim their facilities which would have been repaired and maintained by an influx of money from UCD student renters.

    2) There is a lot of underutilized space on campus, south of 80.  Create locations along Old Davis Rd, suitable for students to provide their own small houses or trailers.

     

      1. South of Davis

        Don wrote:

        > This is brilliant.

        I don’t know if Don was being sarcastic, but since many UCD kids come from farming and ranching families and since most farming and ranching families have an old trailer or RV on their property and kids that grew up spending weeks at a time in a RV or trailer (when out hunting and fishing) is seems like a UCD owned “KOA Style” RV park would be a great way to provide affordable housing for students.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Wouldn’t that be somewhat similar to the Domes – just in terms of different arrangements?

        1. South of Davis

          BP wrote:

          > I think it would morph into one big eyesore if

          > not set up and monitored properly.

          It will be a big eyesore (like the domes) even if it is “set up and monitored properly” that is why we should put it south of I80 off Old Davis Road where no one but the people going to the goat and raptor centers will ever see it (I don’t want to put it on Toomey field to piss off the rich people that live on College Park)…

        2. Barack Palin

          Problem is once something like this is entenched no matter how ugly it is it’s a major undertaking to undo as we’ve seen with the domes and Orchard Park.

        3. Ron

          BP:  “Because I care and have pride for what my community looks like.  Don’t you?”

          I know that this wasn’t directed at me.  And, I definitely understand your point.  But, something has to “give” a little (as David pointed out), and this might help, at least temporarily.  (I doubt that the University would allow a “slum” on campus.)  In any case, it wouldn’t be in the city, itself.  Given that most University students aren’t “criminals”, I don’t think safety would generally be an issue.

          The “DQ University” idea (from “MrsW”) is interesting, as well.

          But – you’re right – it would have to be set up properly, and would still require some infrastructure and monitoring, if something like this comes to pass.  I view this as “brainstorming”, at this point.  (Or, as Mark might put it – searching for “solutions”.)

          In any case, it’s better than building large-scale permanent structures within the city, that aren’t well-suited for the location.  (And, that’s what some are advocating.)

      2. Eileen Samitz

        I agree with Don. This is potentially another creative way that UCD can provide more on-campus housing. There is plenty of land south of I-80 to consider this for. In fact, even it was temporary housing, it would provide additional options until UCD catches up with producing the housing they have neglected producing so far.

        1. Tia Will

          I love the idea of the tiny houses. I am one of those re entry students who would have very happily occupied one of these tiny individual homes for my entire four years of medical school. I do not believe that these have to be “unsightly” but do recognize that this is a matter of personal taste, not objective standard. I know that there are some here that find Village Homes and the section of Old East Davis that I inhabit to be “unsightly”. I find both warm and welcoming rather than the (to me ) cold and anonymous look of many of our town’s “mini mansions” or just more modern styles of home.

      3. ryankelly

        Students are already living out of their cars…parking illegally around town or in parking lots on campus.  I personally know of students who sleep in classrooms or offices, shower at the ARC and eat at the coffee house, while storing their clothes in their cars in the campus parking lots.  They have to move their car around to different parking lots to avoid suspicion.  This is usually a student who has to stay one or two more quarters and doesn’t want to sign a year long lease or is evicted for some reason during the year.  Is this really how we want people to live?

        1. Ron

          ryankelly:

          I feel compelled to question your response to this great idea (creative housing on campus, in some manner – tiny houses, etc.).

          Are you actually trying to make a comparison between living in a car, vs. living in a housing structure?  If so, I’d have to question your motivation in challenging this idea.

          I’d say that Eileen’s comments nailed this perfectly.

          If campus housing is not built in some manner, then pressure will continue to build to create large-scale “dormitory” type housing in locations that aren’t well-suited for it (e.g., far from campus).  It will also cause more commuting, and create more pressure for mini-dorm conversions, etc.

          Can you explain your motivation regarding your opposition to on-campus housing?  Do you have some personal stake in doing so?

        2. ryankelly

          I’m not opposed to on campus housing.  I have posted in support of apartments (not dorms) on the Rec Fields, West Campus, Solano Park and Orchard Park.  I don’t know where you got that idea.  I’m just realistic.  New on campus housing, unless subsidized heavily, is expensive for students.  Older existing off campus housing is less expensive, unless landlords jack up rents (like they seem to be doing).   Eileen seems to think that massive building of housing on campus will solve everything, but it won’t.  People will always be forced into looking for lower cost options.  The trailer park idea may sound great, but it is very low density and likely far from the campus core.  I am also mystified why this would be an acceptable plan for on campus, but not in the City or County.  Why not just put a trailer park / RV park out at Grasslands Park, south of Davis.  Isn’t that the same thing as putting it out on Old Davis Road?

        3. MrsW

          “Why not just put a trailer park / RV park out at Grasslands Park, south of Davis.  Isn’t that the same thing as putting it out on Old Davis Road?”

          Any housing would be helpful, so if Grasslands is a possibility, it would be worth looking into.  However, South Campus is connected to UCD.  It is about 1 mile to Myrak Hall and 2 miles to Whole Foods.  Grasslands Park is not connected to UCD.  It is about 4 miles to Nugget on Mace and 6.5 miles to Myrak.

        1. Grok

          The Nishi idea was positive suggestion. The information presented by Dr. Cahill made it debatable. The traffic problem it would create made it less desirable. The campaign pushing for it was run poorly and made it more devisive. In fact I would go so far as to say measure A would have passed if not for the efforts of Spafford and Lincoln.

        2. Eileen Samitz

          BP

          The Nishi site was not a good site for studnt housing and that was confirmed at a recent neighborhood meeting with UCD’s head of planning. The fact is the Nishi developers met with Dr. Cahill several years before these developers submitted their application to the City where he explained the air quality problem which included the high concentration of the particulates from the railroad activity confirmed in the EIR.  So early on, Dr. Cahill gave the developers the specifics of what additional studies needed to be made if they wanted to try to see if housing could be placed on the site, but they refused to do the studies. So the developers decided to gamble on trying to get the project through without dealing with the health hazards (which they were trying to ignore) that would be imposed on the potential residents at Nishi, which would have primarily be UCD students.

  2. Eileen Samitz

    David,

    This article is excellent and does a great job of showing the disparity of how much more UCD needs to do since all of the other UC’s have done SO much more in providing on-campus housing. The statistics are actually even worse of what housing UCD has provided in that around 60% of the on-campus housing are just dorms, providing only one year of housing and then the freshmen are forced off campus by UCD to find housing elsewhere.

    This situation is especially inexcusable since UCD has over 5,300 acres, more than any other UC, yet UCD is at the bottom of the scale of providing student housing. This is being compound by the fact that they have dragged their heels to replace Orchard Park and have not yet built the addition 1,000 beds which were supposed to be built by now at West Village, both of which which need much higher density housing on that site, like all the other UC’s and CSU’s are doing. Furthermore, they need to either slow down the admission rate until they actually produce the on-campus housing. This lack of planning UCD is simply astonishing and needs to be resolved now.

    UCD professes sustainable planning yet they are not practicing it.  Nothing would reduce our carbon footprint in this area more then UCD building the promised and needed much higher density on-campus housing that they fully capable of  producing. Also, there is no excuse for this lack of planning since UCD has a substantial planning department with plenty of staffing.

    UCD is supposed to  #1 in some academic areas, well they need to get their planning department to “get the lead out” and catch up with the planning and results which are happening and materializing at the other UC’s and CSU’s.

    1. ryankelly

      Eileen,  Anything that the University builds will be new, built at prevailing wage rules, so expensive for many students.  Housing in Davis is older and already there, so will always be a less expensive option for students.  The University may build, but it doesn’t mean that students will be able to afford to live there.  Try to come up with some novel ideas, rather than just hammering on the same “build it and they will come” point.

       

        1. ryankelly

          Question away.  You are on a useless search.  I am just realistic about the cost of new buildings and don’t understand why massive building on campus is better than massive building off campus.  It is the same thing really.

        2. Ron

          ryankelly:

          The cost of Nishi housing (the only proposed new, off-campus housing that can be compared at this point) was not inexpensive, by any means.  (That was one of the complaints.)  ANY housing that is built (in Davis/campus) will be expensive to rent, unless it is subsidized in some manner.  (Unless some more “creative” solutions are found – such as the “tiny houses” that were mentioned.)

          On a related note, I like the “Domes”. (I believe that they are quite popular among students, as well.)

          Building on campus is MUCH different than building in the city.  Unlike the city itself, the campus has large amounts of “free” undeveloped land, with very minimal “commute” required for students.

          Also, it doesn’t make sense to try to accommodate the University’s needs, when their plans are not settled.  (As some pro-development types frequently point out, we don’t have direct control over what the University does, regardless.)  In other words, some are advocating that we assume the responsibility and costs for housing students, WITHOUT being a true partner.

          However, if you are supportive of campus housing in general, I stand corrected.

        3. South of Davis

          Ryan wrote:

          >  It is the same thing really.

          If the University builds a $50 million apartment project on campus the property tax to the state is $0/year and the parcel taxes to DJUSD is $0/year.

          If a private developer builds a $50 million apartment in Davis the property tax to the state is over $500K/year and they will also pay parcel taxes to the schools based on the number of parcels.

          The private apartment built off campus will pay over $5.5 million in taxes over 10 years (and the property taxes will keep going up by 2% a year forever)…

        4. ryankelly

          It is the same thing really in terms of turning agricultural land into housing.  To me it makes no difference if this land is owned by the University or private landowners in Yolo County.  It seems the same people rallying behind development by UC Davis will oppose vehemently any Measure R vote in the City of Davis.  I find these two at odds.  Spreading out South and West is equal to spreading out North and East is not the same?

          I’m going to assume that there will be some faction in Davis that will awaken at the last minute, say that the process was rushed or there was not enough transparency, and protest massive growth on campus.

          Nothing will happen fast.  Nothing will happen until we have a new Chancellor.

      1. Grok

        The argument against paying prevailing wage is disturbing. Another way of phrasing it is the housing should be built off campus, because developers are better at exploiting their workers when they don’t have to adhere to rules for worker protections at the University, and that keeps the cost of rent down (and increases profit).

        1. South of Davis

          Grok wrote:

          > The argument against paying prevailing wage is

          > disturbing.

          Making $130K/year building an apartment on campus is great but I would not call making $70K/year building an apartment off campus “disturbing”.

          > Another way of phrasing it is the housing should

          > be built off campus, because developers are better

          > at exploiting their workers when they don’t have

          > to adhere to rules for worker protections

          Many of the workers on are using the exact same equipment, have the same safety gear and doing the exact same thing when they make $65/hr working on campus as when they are making $35/hr in town working for the same contractor the next week.

        2. Grok

          I am not going to argue that $35 an hour is not a living wage, but I will argue that skilled trades people have real skills and deserve to be compensated.

          Many of the workers on are using the exact same equipment, have the same safety gear and doing the exact same thing when they make $65/hr working on campus as when they are making $35/hr in town working for the same contractor the next week.

          This statement is an argument for paying people more when they are working in town.

  3. Mark West

    I fail to understand why we waste so much effort arguing about ‘what the University should do’ when there nothing that we can say or do that will change the housing situation on campus.

    We have a shortage of housing in Davis, particularly apartments, and that is a problem that we can actually address. Work on the problems we have the ability to solve, and stop whining about the ones we cannot.

     

     

    1. Ron

      Mark West:  “Work on the problems we have the ability to solve, and stop whining about the ones we cannot.”

      I would say that we should avoid creating “more” problems, as well.  (Stuffing large-scale dormitory-type housing on ill-suited sites, far from campus comes to mind.)  Not to mention the costs and impact on infrastructure.

      Call that “whining”, if you’d like.

      1. Mark West

        I have no complaint about your advocating for the things you want, Ron. I do think, however, that if you are not happy with the projects that have been proposed, that you should come up with viable alternatives that address the shortage, and not simply attempt to block action.

        1. Ron

          It’s not a personal “want”, any more than what you advocate is a personal “want”.

          On-campus housing is a good solution for the challenges facing students and the city.

          In general, I find that you (often) aggressively advocate development in a manner that would cause far more “harm”, than good.  So, instead of focusing on solutions to challenges that exist, you are advocating “solutions” that would create even more problems.

          In other words, your advocacy seems counter-productive, quite often.

          Given your (aggressive) interest in “solutions”, I’d suggest that you join Eileen’s efforts.  (But, I strongly suspect that you are not doing so, for whatever underlying reason.)

        2. Mark West

          Ron:

          As I have stated before, and will state again, Eileen’s efforts are a complete waste of time. The University will do what it will do, with or without Eileen’s ‘efforts.’ Have fun helping her if that is your want.

          Davis has a housing shortage. We have no excuse not to address that shortage by building more housing, particularly apartments. You offer no solutions to the problem beyond advocating for doing nothing. Which, coincidentally is the exact same thing that is accomplished by pointing fingers at the University, nothing.

        3. Ron

          O.K., Mark.

          So, instead of helping to find “solutions” to challenges (as you’re so fond of saying), you’d rather criticize the effort (and focus on solutions that will cause harm and understandable opposition).  Definitely your prerogative to do so, but it seems strange to me.

          It’s unfortunate that your aggressive “development advocacy” often creates yet another “problem” to deal with.  And, we end up wasting a lot of time and effort, instead of working toward solutions that most would agree are reasonable.

        4. Grok

          As I have stated before, and will state again, Eileen’s efforts are a complete waste of time. 

          Ahhh… the University greatly increased the number of students they plan on housing in the last draft of the LRDP. I am not going to say it was Eileen’s efforts alone that helped achieve this, but I guarantee it wasn’t Mark West’s non-efforts.

        5. Mark West

          “the University greatly increased the number of students they plan on housing in the last draft of the LRDP. I am not going to say it was Eileen’s efforts alone that helped achieve this, but I guarantee it wasn’t Mark West’s non-efforts.”

          The one thing that Eileen has accomplished has been to document all the previous housing promises that the University has failed to live up to over the past few decades. The draft LRDP amounts to a suggestion that they might one day, be willing to make yet another promise. When they actually build the promised housing units and students are living there you might have something worth crowing about. How many decades do you think we should wait for the University to ‘solve’ our housing crisis for us?

          1. Don Shor

            They’ve promised to commit to building housing for 90% of new enrollment going forward. They haven’t actually committed to that, they’ve just promised to commit to it. So if they adhere to the commitment they’ve promised they will make, the current problem will only get somewhat worse, not a lot worse. We aren’t making forward progress, we’re just falling back less quickly.
            And my guess is that the enrollment increases will precede the housing increases, rather than the other way around.

        6. Grok

          The draft LRDP amounts to a suggestion that they might one day, be willing to make yet another promise. When they actually build the promised housing units and students are living there you might have something worth crowing about. How many decades do you think we should wait for the University to ‘solve’ our housing crisis for us?

          Fair enough. It is a better promise, but your right, until the housing is built, it is just a promise. Some new housing is being added even this year, although it is not at a scale that I would celebrate. Let’s hold off the celebration for when/if the University does step up and do its share. When/if we do get to celebrate Mark should buy the beer. Are you good with that Mark?

        7. Mark West

          Grok:  “When/if we do get to celebrate Mark should buy the beer. Are you good with that Mark?”

          I’m afraid you are out of luck, Grok. Where I enjoy beer, they won’t serve imaginary people.

           

        8. Ron

          Matt:  “Again, your point is absolutely true for the ownership housing market segment, but not in the apartment rental housing market segment.”

          You must have some insight regarding the reason that people move to Davis (that isn’t obvious, to me).

          Why would people move to Davis (and commute to Sacramento, for example)?  Perhaps because its a safe, desirable community with an easy commute.  And yes – that includes renters, as well.  Your statement that (in the absence of a connection to Davis), only potential homeowners would be interested in living in Davis is really just a theory. Perhaps it’s more likely that potential homeowners would pursue this type of arrangement, but your statement is quite different than that.

          Also, many people (including renters) may “start off” with a connection to Davis (and/or the University), but subsequently sever their connection (by say, getting a job in Sacramento or otherwise outside the area).  Of course, no one would advocate that they “leave” the area, if that occurs.  But, the bottom line is that any housing, whether rental or not, cannot be reserved for a person who has a connection to the city or University (unless it’s built on campus).

          Regarding your other point (“fair share” of housing), I don’t understand why you can’t see that any development has some type of impact on the surrounding neighborhood (and the city, itself).  If you have more and more development, that impact is greater.  (Traffic and costs, for example.)  There’s a reason that SACOG refers to “fair share” of housing.

        9. Matt Williams

          Ron, go back and reread my comment I did not say that people in the apartment rental housing market wouldn’t be “interested” in moving to Davis, but rather that they would find it very challenging to successfully act on any such interest, especially in the scenario constraint you imposed “Not necessarily those who already have a connection to Davis” and/or the scenario constraint that Grok imposed “Its so nice some people even move to Davis from expensive unincorporated country club neighborhoods.”

          I stand by the very clear points that I made then, and continue to make now that, (A) “the steadily increasing competition from UCD students for available apartments, young families simply are not able to find available apartments.” and (B) “Why would a person (who is complying with the constraint you imposed) move from an apartment in an area other than Davis to an apartment in Davis and then each morning get into a car and commute to their non-Davis job.”

          If you want to remove your constraint, then the working families with children who are looking to move to Davis because they have just gotten a job in Davis do not support your statement “I assume that you acknowledge that building more apartments may simply draw in more people living from other areas, as well.”  It isn’t the added apartments that are drawing them to Davis, it is their new job.  Even then, they are going to have a very hard time finding rental apartment housing because of the UCD student competition for family-sized apartments.

          1. Don Shor

            And had they been looking at the time the 2015 apartment survey was done, here would have been their choices.
            http://davismerchants.org/vanguard/UCD%20apartment%20vacancy%20rate%202015.png
            Hope they want a 3 br.

        10. Ron

          Matt:

          I don’t understand your response.  Seems like you and Don have already made up your minds regarding Sterling, at least.  (It certainly would provide a convenient, nearby location for Don’s low-wage workers – assuming that they can afford a newly-constructed apartment.)

          Not a big fan of using the vacancy rate as a justification to drastically change zoning in “at risk” areas.  Doing so also represents an “opportunity cost”, for other developments that might actually bring in some revenue, or provide other needed services.  There’s a limited amount of land available within the current boundaries of Davis.

          By the way, I strongly suspect that there are community-based organizations that would be very interested in using the existing Sterling facility.  However, since the owner (who received taxpayer funding) is likely holding out for the highest price (and already has a potential “deal” with an outside developer), other community-based organizations may not have a chance, at this point.  (In any case, this information is apparently not available.)

          I didn’t really intend for this to become a conversation regarding Sterling.  The article was focused on student housing, on campus.  There are many other postings that are more “valuable” than mine, regarding this subject (e.g., Edison’s).  And yet, you both don’t seem quite as interested in those postings.

          Seems that there’s a general consensus that University housing can provide a lot of the “solution”, regarding student housing in particular.  And, doing so should reduce the pressure on the overall rental market.

          Suggest that we focus on that, for now.

          Sterling may represent an example of the type of conflicts that await Davis, by failing to engage the University sufficiently.  (Actually, I think that some of the residents in Rancho Yolo are more concerned about it than I am.)

          If you or Don care to continue commenting about Sterling at this point, you’ll be doing so own your own (without me).

           

        11. Matt Williams

          Ron, my response is very straight forward. You need to fact check your points before you make them.    You stated, “Sterling is […] too far from campus, especially as a student-oriented facility.”  The numbers from both Google Maps and UNITRANS that I shared in my response tell us that West Village is even farther from the MU than Sterling is.

          You are 100% wrong when you say, “Seems like you have already made up your mind regarding Sterling.”  The Sterling application is going through a public process. I am not going to prejudge that process.  I joined with a considerable number of Davis citizens to illuminate the fatal flaws of the prior process, and Staff saw the wisdom of restarting.

          You are correct in your suspicion that there are community-based organizations that would are interested in using the existing Sterling facility.  Last time I checked the challenge is translating that interest into a concrete funding plan. Those community-based organizations are getting considerable support from our elected officials at the City level, the County level and higher, but the challenge really is how to transform dream into reality, and given the very tight funding environment at all levels, success is more than likely only going to come if a private sector partner steps forward to join the community-based organizations.

          One factual point that needs to be kept in mind is the fact that EMQ sold bonds in order to fund the construction of the existing facility.  They had help from governmental organizations, but the debt rests on their shoulders, not the government’s.  If the sale price of the parcel is less than EMQ’s bond debt then they will be legally on the hook for that residual balance.  No government entity will pick up the check for EMQ.

      2. Ron

        Mark:  “When they actually build the promised housing units and students are living there you might have something worth crowing about.”

        Yeah – we should probably approve large-scale student dormitory-type structures far from campus, in case the University doesn’t adhere to its own plans.  In the meantime, having the city pay for the costs and impacts should help ensure that the University doesn’t follow-through.

        Great plan!  Where do I sign up?

        1. Mark West

          Ron: “Yeah – we should probably approve large-scale student dormitory-type structures far from campus, in case the University doesn’t adhere to its own plans.  In the meantime, having the city pay for the costs and impacts should help ensure that the University doesn’t follow-through.”

          Apparently, in Ron’s world, there are only two extremes. Either you are righteous and oppose all development, or you favor paving over every speck of bare ground between Redding and Bakersfield to build more housing (and ruin the City’s finances). In fact, there are one or two options between those extremes, which Ron might understand had he paid attention back in Kindergarten.

          Davis has a housing challenge. I tend to use the word ‘challenge’ because the accurate term ‘crisis’ causes stress and heartburn for some readers. Anyway, you look at it, though, we need more housing, particularly more apartments. I favor multiple small/medium sized projects spread around town to address the issue rather than one large one, but then I am not the one with the money and the land to build on, so I don’t get to decide. The one thing I can guarantee, however, is that doing nothing, even if you think it is the righteous approach, won’t address the problem.

           

           

        2. Ron

          Mark:

          Personal insults directed at me aside, I don’t oppose all small/medium-sized developments around town.  But, the one proposed student-oriented example I can think of (Sterling) doesn’t meet that definition.  (And, it’s too far from campus to be focused primarily on students.)  Also, it would result in the destruction of a facility that was built to meet another community need (and was apparently constructed with taxpayer dollars).  That facility can no doubt still serve a useful purpose for the community, especially if it wasn’t priced in a “speculative” manner (anticipating a possible zoning change).

          If people like you weren’t constantly advocating for damaging changes in course, there would be less pressure to make ill-advised decisions.

          Davis is fairly developed right now, overall.  Almost any spot in town (especially near the University/downtown) proposed for significant development will probably meet with opposition (not necessarily from me). In other words, it will be difficult to find a suitable, nearby spot for student housing off-campus.

          Building on campus should reduce some of the pressure on the rental market, for students and others.  It shifts costs and responsibilities to the University, and ensures a safer and easier commute for students.

          If you’re interested in solving the student housing challenge, I’d suggest that you review some of Edison’s posts.  (Perhaps you can find some reason to dispute his/her detailed “how to” ideas, regarding building on campus.)

          The conversation will probably move beyond your resistance to reasonable solutions (such as building on campus), at some point.

          1. Don Shor

            But, the one proposed student-oriented example I can think of (Sterling) doesn’t meet that definition.

            There are plenty of apartments all around the proposed Sterling site, as well as further down Fifth Street, just as there are lots of apartments in South Davis almost equally far from campus.
            http://davismerchants.org/vanguard/Apartments%20Fifth%20Street%20March%202016.png

          2. Don Shor

            Building on campus should reduce some of the pressure on the rental market, for students and others.

            Except that enrollment will be increasing more than the amount of housing proposed on campus.

        3. Ron

          Don:  “There are plenty of apartments all around the proposed Sterling site, as well as further down Fifth Street . . .”

          Based on your statement, I suppose that one could argue that this area already has its “fair share”.

          Not directly related, but I recall that you were vehemently opposed to the impacts from a possible sports park near the Binning Tract.  Quite a few complaints regarding the impact of “urban residents” on rural residents, as well.  Different situation, but still a vehement “complaint” regarding impacts on neighbors from what is essentially a “development”.  And, I understood and supported your concerns.

          More importantly, the Sterling proposal is not just “any” apartment complex.  (Even if the “525 parking spaces” are reduced, it’s still far from campus.)  It is student-oriented, meaning that there will be a lot of traffic (and yes – bicycles “count”) all along Fifth Street to campus (intersecting with many driveways and intersections, starting with the primary Post Office driveway, and the busy intersection at 5th and Pole Line).

          I recall reading on the Vanguard that some students have already noted (complained about) the distance to campus from the nearby apartments on Cantrill, especially when considering the amount of rent that they were paying.

          And again, requiring the destruction of a relatively-new community-oriented facility, apparently funded with taxpayer dollars.  (With no financial return to taxpayers, as a result of its destruction.)

          Regarding your other comment – the LRDP is not finalized, and there is room (literally and figuratively) for “improvement”.

           

          1. Don Shor

            I wouldn’t support an incompatible use on Fifth Street, either. More apartments where there are already many apartments is not an incompatible use. Bottom line: you don’t support construction of any apartments anywhere in the city limits. You’ve made that clear. So you’re part of the problem of the apartment vacancy shortage, not part of the solution.

            some students have already noted (complained about) the distance

            I’m sure they won’t have any trouble filling apartments anywhere they build them. And students aren’t the only renters locally.

            the LRDP is not finalized, and there is room (literally and figuratively) for “improvement”.

            UC budget realities probably dictate otherwise.

        4. Matt Williams

          Ron said . . . “I suppose that one could argue that this area already has its fair share.”

          That is an interesting statement Ron.  What do you mean when you say “area”?  When you say “fair share” how are you determining what any area’s fair share is?

        5. Ron

          Don:  “Bottom line: you don’t support construction of any apartments anywhere in the city limits.”

          Thanks for letting me know what my position is (even though I’ve stated otherwise on this very page, regarding small/medium-sized projects).

          If this “elephant” was closer to campus, I might have a different response.  (And certainly, if it was on campus.)

          Based upon your doubts regarding student housing on campus, I’d suggest that you carefully review some of Edison’s postings, regarding how to “get it done”.

          1. Don Shor

            The university should build whatever it can build within its budget. High rise would be an option, certainly, but probably more expensive for them. Campus housing has to pay for itself. It can’t be paid from from student fees or state funds. It will almost certainly be built after the enrollment increases, not before — I say this because the enrollment increases are already occurring and increasing faster than originally projected. I have read what Edison posted. That won’t speed up the housing, and it is very unlikely that UCD will promise to commit to anything more than what they’ve said already, due to the budgetary constraints I’ve mentioned.
            I’m sorry I can’t recall which small/medium-sized projects that have been proposed that you support.

        6. Ron

          Don:  “I’m sorry I can’t recall which small/medium-sized projects that have been proposed that you support.”

          I can’t recall any that have been proposed.

          It’s not just the size, regarding Sterling.  It’s the plans to essentially “rent-by-the-room”, meaning that it will be student-oriented, causing a great deal of traffic (including bicycles) all the way to campus along 5th street (intersecting with many busy intersections and driveways).

          I know that you would like to advocate on behalf of employees who work in relatively low-wage businesses (such as yours).  However, in a sense, you’re advocating that the  city/neighborhood (indirectly) assume the responsibility, costs, and impact of subsidizing such employees.  (In other words, they apparently can’t find housing within their price range, so you’re apparently advocating that we “build our way” to lower rents.) And, in this case, you’re advocating for a development that will have the negative impacts described above.

          I realize that low wage employees have to live somewhere, and that workers and businesses such as yours provide a valuable service.  But, it’s important to acknowledge what you’re advocating, and to understand that there are impacts and consequences in doing so.

          1. Don Shor

            However, in a sense, you’re advocating that the city/neighborhood (indirectly) assume the responsibility, costs, and impact of subsidizing such employees. (In other words, they apparently can’t find housing within their price range, so you’re apparently advocating that we “build our way” to lower rents.)

            Ron, it isn’t the price range. There is almost no supply at any price range. There are vacancy rates that are considered a healthy balance between what renters need and what makes reasonable return for landlords. Generally that is considered a 5% vacancy rate. We are nowhere near that. A combination of building on campus and in town would nudge us to a somewhat healthier vacancy rate.

          2. Don Shor

            Don: “I’m sorry I can’t recall which small/medium-sized projects that have been proposed that you support.”

            I can’t recall any that have been proposed.

            That pretty much answers that. You support hypothetical development of apartments, but no actual development of apartments.

        7. Mark West

          Ron: “Personal insults directed at me aside…”

          I’m only responding to your repetitive mischaracterizations about my (and other’s) positions. I have addressed the issue with you in the past but you continue on with your behavior. Perhaps by kicking you in the teeth once in awhile you might start paying attention to the shades of grey between your black and white extremes.

           “I don’t oppose all small/medium-sized developments around town.”

          Please name one project in town that you have supported.

          “Also, it would result in the destruction of a facility that was built to meet another community need”

          How many years does the site need to remain empty before you will agree that no other entity wants to purchase it? It has been on the market for a few years and has received no qualified offers. Leaving the parcel unutilized doesn’t help anybody.

          “Davis is fairly developed right now, overall.  Almost any spot in town (especially near the University/downtown) proposed for significant development will probably meet with opposition”

          There are certainly a number of people in town who claim to approve of development, as long as it doesn’t happen in their neighborhood. Proclaiming that a project will ‘meet opposition’ really doesn’t add anything of value to the conversation.

          “Building on campus should reduce some of the pressure on the rental market, for students and others.”

          Agreed, but it will not solve the problem.

          “It shifts costs and responsibilities to the University, and ensures a safer and easier commute for students.”

          Yes, to the easier commute, but not so to the rest. The city will also incur significant costs for those new on-campus residents, but will not receive any new tax revenues to cover those costs. Building housing on campus takes money out of the pockets of current city residents because we have to pay for the extra services required for those new residents.

          “The conversation will probably move beyond your resistance to reasonable solutions (such as building on campus), at some point.”

          I am not opposed to the University building more housing and have made no effort to try to prevent it. I just don’t view the building of housing on campus as the best route for solving our housing challenge in town. The University will do what it wants to do regardless of what you or I or anyone else wants. The one thing I can say for certain however is that the University will not solve the housing shortage in Davis, no matter how long we wait. If there is anyone providing ‘resistant to reasonable solutions’ it is those of you who think this is the University’s problem to fix.

           

           

        8. Ron

          Mark:  “Perhaps by kicking you in the teeth once in awhile you might start paying attention to the shades of grey between your black and white extremes.”

          Couldn’t get past this one comment, won’t respond to the rest. (However, I think I mostly have responded, elsewhere on this page.)

          You’re apparently more violent and dangerous than I expected.  A very angry, disturbed person apparently.

          It’s time to move on, from the likes of you.

          Moderator?

           

          [moderator] I assume Mark was being metaphorical, not literal. But it would be best to avoid this kind of comment.

        9. Mark West

          “But, it’s important to acknowledge what you’re advocating, and to understand that there are impacts and consequences in doing so.”

          And it is equally important to understand that there are impacts and consequences in NOT doing so. If the consequence of not building in Davis means people having to commute into town for their jobs and school, that replaces bike trips with car trips and has negative impacts on both traffic and pollution. Not having apartments in town, means more mini-dorms, which means fewer homes for young families, skewing the town’s demographics and impacting both our retail environment and our schools. We have gone through these things before. Not acting often has just as many negative impacts as acting.  It is not a black and white issue.

        10. Ron

          Don:  “Ron, it isn’t the price range.  There is almost no supply at any price range.”

          Without doing any research at this point, you’re telling me that there are essentially no rental units available in Davis at this time?  (I’m reasonably certain that I can prove this wrong.)

          And (as I asked once before), you’re advocating planning based on the vacancy rate?

          hpierce (who certainly holds different positions than I do) once noted that the vacancy rate has been around 1% or less for the past 35 years (something to that effect).  If he’s reading this (and I’m wrong), I’m sure that he’ll correct me.

          Again, I’m not advocating for “no infill”. But, Sterling is too large, too far from campus, especially as a student-oriented facility. (And again, requires destruction of the relatively new, taxpayer-funded facility, as discussed above.)

          1. Don Shor

            http://davismerchants.org/vanguard/Apt%20vacancy%20rate%201988%20-%202015.png

            (I’m reasonably certain that I can prove this wrong.)

            I’m reasonably certain that people looking for apartments in Davis at various times of year find very limited supply. I know this, because I know what young adults go through every year as their leases expire.

            And (as I asked once before), you’re advocating planning based on the vacancy rate?

            I believe the apartment vacancy rate is a good metric that tells us how our city’s and the university’s planning efforts are working out. Very poorly, at the moment. I believe that we should work to make more housing available on and off campus.

        11. Mark West

          “You’re apparently more violent and dangerous than I expected.  A very angry, disturbed person apparently.
          It’s time to move on, from the likes of you.”

          Never been violent with anyone in my life, Ron, but you are a hoot. I will have to remember that you only understand the literal meaning of words along with your black and white view of the world.

        12. Ron

          Don:

          So, the vacancy rate has remained at less than 1% since 1988, at least. (Despite all of the apartment units that have been constructed since that time.)

          I assume that you acknowledge that building more apartments may simply draw in more people living from other areas, as well.  (Not necessarily those who already have a connection to Davis.)

          In general, I’d say that “good planning” (open to interpretation) is ultimately more important for the 67,000 people already living in Davis, vs. trying to squeeze in a few thousand more in an attempt to increase the vacancy rate (and compromising good planning).

          I would probably have a different response if there were no other options to accommodate the projected increase in students (existing rental units, on-campus housing, nearby communities – until such campus housing is built, etc.).

          Note that many already “choose” to live in nearby communities, based on cost alone.  Building more won’t change that.

          And again, not opposing all infill development.  But Sterling in particular has the concerns I mentioned (not repeated here).  Put that “elephant” closer to, or preferably on campus. (Or, maybe near the “Binning Tract”?)

          Think “Trader Joe”-type intersections/congestion, all the way from Sterling to the campus.

           

          1. Don Shor

            So, the vacancy rate has remained at less than 1% since 1988

            No, you’re reading the chart wrong. 0.01 = 1%.

        13. Ron

          Mark:  “I will have to remember that you only understand the literal meaning of words along with your black and white view of the world.”

          I understood that you (probably) weren’t planning to literally “kick me in the teeth”.  But, it’s a heck of a thing to say, even figuratively. I’m not going to respond, when you start off a conversation like that.

          And – it’s not the first time that you’ve expressed disrespectful and downright ugly language to those who oppose you.  I guess when you run out of legitimate arguments, that’s all you have left.

          Your “solution” for all challenges (essentially “Build, Baby, Build”) seems quite “black and white”, to me.  (And, reminds me of a certain person from Alaska, who’s still involved with politics.)

          It’s unfortunate that you’re more interested in attacking me, than finding reasonable “solutions” (as you so often advocate). All this time and energy wasted, on nothing but B.S. It distracts from efforts to address actual challenges that have reasonable solutions (such as campus housing).

        14. Ron

          Don:

          Is that right?  The vacancy rate was near 9% for a couple of years, in the early 1990s?  That is interesting.

          Seems to fluctuate quite a bit (even fairly recently). Does the chart include all rental housing (including houses for rent, for example)?

          In any case, I can’t argue that it’s pretty low, right now.  My main points remain (regarding drastically changing city plans in response to the vacancy rate), but your point is noted.

          I also acknowledge that as a “slow-growth” community, there will (probably) always be more people who want to live here than the current level of development can handle.

          Watch out for that Binning Tract area!

          1. Don Shor

            Um, yeah. Zero point two percent (0.2%) is certainly “pretty low.”
            That is the apartment vacancy rate. It is a survey done by ASUCD since the 1970s.
            Once it spiked up very high after a spate of new construction about 25 years ago. Construction of new apartments has been very, very low for a number of years now. It has not kept pace with demand, and UCD has made things worse.
            A compromise, middle-ground, reasonable position is that we need some new apartments in town, and lots of housing on campus. There is a very persistent contingent here that seems to think UCD should completely solve the housing shortage locally. When you have a large university next to a small city, and the university grows, it stands to reason that the city will have to grow somewhat as well. Otherwise you are just pushing the growth-related problems onto the freeways and nearby communities.
            Really the problem you and other no-growth advocates have is with UCD and with the University of California overall. Register your objections with them, sure, but don’t put the financial and environmental burdens of complying with the university’s growth on everyone else.
            Your support for local development is strictly theoretical. What it takes to build housing is a willing landowner and an interested developer. It doesn’t happen without those two things. At that point, the city can certainly impose guidelines and constraints. But if the voters aren’t going to annex land for development, it’s going to have to happen internally. We have a project that is ready to go forward. You have no actual projects that you support. Following your path will simply lead to ever-tighter housing shortages for those who can least afford them.

        15. Ron

          Don:  “We have a project that is ready to go forward.”

          Yes – we do, assuming that there are no objections as proposed and as studied under the EIR.  One with 525 parking spaces, large, student-oriented, far from the University, requiring the destruction of a relatively new, taxpayer-funded community facility.

          Don:  “You have no actual projects that you support.”

          True.  So, I logically “have to” support this one, and disregard the concerns that I and others have brought up?  Your position seems awfully “black-and-white” (as someone else said to me.)

          Don:  “Following your path will simply lead to ever-tighter housing shortages for those who can least afford them.”

          You previously said that there was essentially “nothing available”, at any price range.  Now, you’re bringing up affordability.  (Partly with your low-wage employees in mind – as you’ve mentioned on a number of occasions.)  Again, I realize that everyone needs a place to live, but this proposal sacrifices good planning and will affect the 67,000 residents who already live here (and use those streets and intersections, post office, etc.). Not to mention the commute through busy intersections and driveways that students would have to endure, to reach the University.

          The Binning Tract area is looking better to me, all the time!

        16. Matt Williams

          Ron said . . . “I assume that you acknowledge that building more apartments may simply draw in more people living from other areas, as well.  (Not necessarily those who already have a connection to Davis.)”

          Ron, your point is a very good one in the ownership housing market; however, it defies logic in the apartment rental housing market.  Why would a person/family who lives in another area outside Davis with no pre-existing connection to Davis (a job in Davis, or an elderly parent living in Davis, or grandchildren living in Davis, for example) change their rental residence to Davis?  There simply isn’t any logical reason for them to do so.  Further, with the steadily increasing competition from UCD students for available apartments, young families simply are not able to find available apartments.

          Why would a person move from an apartment in an area other than Davis to an apartment in Davis and then each morning get into a car and commute to their non-Davis job.  If they are going to move from one apartment to another, why wouldn’t they choose an apartment that has a favorable commute to their job?

        17. Matt Williams

          Ron said . . . “Again, I’m not advocating for “no infill”. But, Sterling is too large, too far from campus, especially as a student-oriented facility. (And again, requires destruction of the relatively new, taxpayer-funded facility, as discussed above.)”

          Ron, to test your “too far from campus” hypothesis I used Google maps to find out:

          — The UNITRANS commute distance from the UCD Memorial Union to 2150 Tilia Street (the end of the current UNITRANS route in West Village, as well as the current border between the built section of West Village and the open fields where new additions to West Village would be built).  Google reports a distance of 2.4 miles and a commute time of 8 minutes and the UNITRANS V Route schedule shows 7 minutes

          — The UNITRANS commute distance from the UCD Memorial Union to EMQ Families First, 2100 5th Street.  Google reports a distance of 1.6 miles and a commute time of 6 minutes and the UNITRANS P Route schedule shows 5 minutes from the MU to the Pole Line and 5th stop.

        18. Grok

           Perhaps by kicking you in the teeth once in awhile you might start paying attention

          Moderator – are threats of violence consider fair commenting?

          [moderator] No. And I already responded to this.

        19. Grok

          Why would a person/family who lives in another area outside Davis with no pre-existing connection to Davis (a job in Davis, or an elderly parent living in Davis, or grandchildren living in Davis, for example) change their rental residence to Davis?  There simply isn’t any logical reason for them to do so.  – matt

          Actually people move to Davis all the time because its a nice place to live and has good schools. Its so nice some people even move to Davis from expensive unincorporated country club neighborhoods.

        20. Grok

           Perhaps by kicking you in the teeth once in awhile you might start paying attention

          Moderator – are threats of violence consider fair commenting?
          [moderator] No. And I already responded to this.

          edited

          Debating Moderator Practices. An article’s comments section won’t be used to debate these guidelines or a decision of the Content Moderator. Concern about the removal of a comment should be addressed in an email to the Content Moderator. The moderator will keep confidential all email exchanges related to disagreements, and the identities of those raising concerns.

          My email address is donshor@gmail.com if you wish to discuss this.

        21. Matt Williams

          Grok said . . . “Actually people move to Davis all the time because its a nice place to live and has good schools. Its so nice some people even move to Davis from expensive unincorporated country club neighborhoods.”

          Your point is absolutely true for the ownership housing market segment, but as I said in my response to Ron, that point is very shaky for the apartment rental housing market segment . . . especially for the working families with children portion of the apartment rental housing market segment.

          How many working families with children who can afford to live in expensive unincorporated country club neighborhoods will move from those neighborhoods to a Davis apartment?

          With more and more Davis apartments going to groups of UCD students who can afford the ever increasing rents, are families with children (with no prior or existing ties to Davis per Ron’s original premise) succeeding in their search for an available apartment in Davis?

          Again, your point is absolutely true for the ownership housing market segment, but not in the apartment rental housing market segment.

           

        22. South of Davis

          Grok wrote:

          > Actually people move to Davis all the time because its a nice place to 

          > live and has good schools.

          Very few (if any) apartment renters who live and work in a different community move to an apartment in Davis because “its a nice place to live and has good schools” (it would be cheaper to send a kid to private school in Sacramento than to rent and commute to and from Davis every day)

          > Its so nice some people even move to Davis from expensive unincorporated

          > country club neighborhoods.

          No one has ever moved from a rental apartment in near a golf course in unincorporated Yolo County to a Davis apartment (there are no apartments around the golf course NW of town and no apartments around the golf course SE of town)…

    2. South of Davis

      Mark wrote:

      > I fail to understand why we waste so much effort

      > arguing about ‘what the University should do’

      If you are working hard to stop new development in town and admit that you don’t care about students and are happy that rents are going up along with the value of your home you sound mean and selfish, but if you say you are working hard to stop all new development in town but are “also” working to get the university to build super nice low cost housing for students “on campus” people with think you are a nice caring person (and probably won’t know that you raised the rent on kids in your unheated garage by $100/month this year and financed your new Tesla with a HELOC thanks to the $200K in home equity you have since 2011)…

  4. Edison

     
    Thanks to the Vanguard for bringing much needed attention to the need for UC Davis to greatly accelerate the construction of on-campus student housing.  UCD’s negligence in not constructing new student housing commensurate with the rapid increases in student enrollment has been damaging the community fabric of Davis for many years.    The update to UCD’s Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) now underway forecasts that the number of students at the Davis campus will increase from 32,130 in 2015 to 39,000 students by the 2027-28 academic year.  That’s an increase of more than 21 percent.  That forecast may be on low side, however, because UCD recently announced that it expects to enroll 37,000 students this fall.  Given the recent large increases in enrollment, does anyone realistically expect that UCD will take another 11 years to absorb 2,000 more students?  Given past practice, it is not too far-fetched to imagine over 40,000 students well before 2027.
     
     Campus planners like to point out that under the LRDP’s assumptions, a combination of existing campus housing and new construction will accommodate about 40 percent of total enrollment by 2027.  That may indeed be a sizeable increase over the 29 percent that UCD claims live on campus now, but it is still woefully inadequate given the projected increase in enrollment and the existing negative impacts that need to be corrected.  And, thus far it appears that most of the new construction will consist of freshman dormitories, meaning that the practice of evicting students to find housing on their own after freshman year will continue.   
     
    Even if a target of 40 percent is reached in 11 years, that still means that 60 percent of the students will need to find somewhere to live.  That “somewhere” will be in Davis apartments and neighborhood “mini-dorms,” with the remainder spreading ever further away from campus to cities such as Dixon, Sacramento, West Sacramento, Winters and Woodland.   Earlier this year State Assemblyman Dodd received comments from constituents in Winters and Woodland about the number of UCD students that are renting properties in those two cities—a situation that will only worsen as UCD continues its rapid expansion.    
     
    UCD’s meager future housing target means that more and more students will continue commuting by bicycle on already busy Davis streets. Greater numbers will also commute by car, particularly if they’ve been forced to find housing in distant cities from which bike commuting is impractical, unsafe or inconvenient.   UCD claims to be among the “greenest” and most sustainable campuses in the country, but forcing an ever-growing number of students to commute by car is not a sustainable practice. In fact, it’s downright hypocritical.  
     
    The LRDP also makes the mistake of continuing to assume that low-rise (2 – 3 story) wood-frame residential construction is the only feasible option. The rationale for this assumption is that higher structures require more expensive steel frame construction.  Yet at the same time, campus planners say that while the campus indeed may have about 5,000 acres, much of that land is needed for important agricultural research and therefore ineligible for housing.  That’s arguably a valid concern, so I suggest that it would be far more efficient and effective for UCD to concentrate the construction of high-rise apartment buildings within the core campus. There’s simply no reason why campus housing cannot be five or ten floors in height, or even more.  Apartment buildings of this height would accommodate a great number of students in a relatively small space, and would relieve students of the need for long bike commutes, grocery shopping, and the type of landlord problems cited in a recent survey attached to a City Council report.
     
    UCD planners and administrators may counter that their ability to construct such high-density, multi-story housing will be limited by the limited budget they’re likely to be given by the legislature and regents.  This might be a valid argument if there were not any alternative to State funding. But there is such an alternative.  A growing number of universities across the country are contracting with experienced and reputable companies to design, build and manage on-campus housing. The company fronts the cost of the housing and is then repaid over time from the student rental fees. (At least one of these companies is even listed on the New York Stock Exchange.)   This approach provides students with high quality, well managed on-campus apartments, while allowing the university to devote its capital budget to academic needs.  This option for vastly increasing the supply of on-campus housing has been taken by a number of well-known universities, including Drexel, Arizona State, Northern Arizona, Portland State, Princeton, and here in California, UC Irvine. As the president of one university has stated, the past practice of pushing students off campus tore at the fabric of the community while diminishing the university experience of its students.  His university found a better way; now it’s time for UCD to follow suit. 
     

    1. Ron

      Edison:

      This is a great, detailed “how to get it done” comment, which anticipates and responds to potential obstacles.  You appear to be quite knowledgeable.

      I’m sure that we haven’t heard the last of the “naysayers” (some of whom appear to be quite “invested” in scuttling University housing), but I’m glad to see this moving in the right direction. At some point, the naysayers will probably drop by the wayside.

  5. Grok

    Excellent article. I am particularly glad to see the research that went in to it that provided the better spread sheet comparison of housing across the campuses. I would be very curious to know a little more detail about the “students housed” number. As follow up questions I would ask:

    How many students are housed on campus?

    How many students are housed in University owned facilities not on campus?

    How many students are housed in off campus facilities the University leases?

    Are all 3 of these part of the total number of the “students housed” number given in this table?

    Is there any other part that contributes to the total “students housed” number? If so, what?

    1. Grok

      What I am getting at here is this, the University needs to actually build more student housing and not just sign more master leases for existing apartments and claim they are housing a larger percentage of students. When the University takes over part of an apartment complex through its master lease program, my understanding is the existing residents, most of whom are students, are forced to move. So the University actually kicks students out of their apartments to provide more student housing. This method is a mirage, it creates more University controlled student housing, but it does not actually create any new housing.

        1. Grok

          Agreed Don. The UCD master leases are far worse for non-student renters. The University should not be allowed to take credit for signing new master leases with apartment complexs as increasing student housing.

      1. Matt Williams

        Grok’s point is correct, and has one other impact.  Specifically, that the property taxes being paid by the private owner cease, and no university-paid property taxes replace them because the university is exempt from having to pay property taxes.

        1. South of Davis

          Matt wrote:

          > the university is exempt from having to pay property taxes.

          True and don’t forget that UC is also are exempt from paying parcel taxes for the schools…

  6. Edison

    The Vanguard has again suggested that Nishi might be a suitable site for student housing. There’s little chance UCD would take the lead in this regard.  Assistant Vice Chancellor recently said at a public meeting that there is absolutely zero chance UCD would purchase the Nishi site and construct housing there. He said the site would require too much upfront infrastructure costs before a single stick could be put in the ground for housing.  And, he referenced the air pollution generated by nearby I-80 as a significant concern.

  7. Edison

    Some posters have stated that there is nothing the City of Davis or its citizens can do about UCD’s failure to build adequate on-campus housing; i.e., there are no mechanisms available with which to force the university into meeting its obligations to its students and to the community.   Based on the experience of a few towns elsewhere, I’m optimistic that a concerted effort can and will work.  Some towns have successfully launched petitions to put pressure on the local university.  Others have filed litigation.  The City of Davis is making a good start with the recent appointment of a City Council subcommittee (Mayor Robb Davis and Councilmember Rochelle Swanson) to start meeting with UCD administrators on the campus housing issue.  This is probably more “proactivity” than has been seen on the part of the Council since the 1989 MOU was executed between the City and UCD.  We should all lend support and encouragement to Robb and Rochelle in this effort.

  8. Edison

    One last comment.  UCD has known for a long time about the housing problem and the solutions. In November 2002 the UC system published a report titled “UC Housing for the 21st Century.” The study was carried out by a subcommittee of UC regents.  The report set housing goals for each UC campus.  UCD was to house 38 percent of all students on campus by 2012 with a goal of 40 percent (page 21). The system-wide goal was to be 42%.  UCD has obviously badly missed its assigned goal.

    The UC housing report made some important points. In summary, on campus housing reduces pressure on the housing stock of host communities, a shortage of campus housing boosts rent in the host community and longer commutes to campus, and campus housing needs to be integrated with university growth plans.  Pertinent excerpts from the report are below.

    “Housing that is built to meet student, faculty, or staff housing needs also alleviates the need to provide housing in the community for these same groups. In other words, adding housing in support of the educational mission of UC also adds to the state’s housing stock” (Executive Summary, p. 2).
    “Added demand for housing in communities surrounding UC campuses results in rising rental and home prices.  Where University-affiliated housing is in short supply, the only choice for students, faculty and staff is to compete in these nearby markets or make decisions to live considerable distances from the campus”(Exec. Sum. p. 2).

     “…the construction and financing costs of hew housing will need to be integrated into total campus growth plans in such a way as to ensure that each campus has assessed all needs and developed a coherent strategy to satisfy the multiple demands being faced by the University” (p. 10).  [UCD has not done this.]

    Some posters have questioned how much housing UCD can build under prevailing wage.  Everything built by government is subject to prevailing wage.  It’s simply a fact of life.  But, if UCD were to contract with a firm specializing in student housing, there would be no expenditure of public funds by UCD.  Whether prevailing wage or not, the student housing firm would absorb all the initial construction expenses and be repaid over time from student rents and management fees.  For anyone who is interested, check out the website for American Campus Communities.  It’s one-stop shopping for universities seeking to meet their housing obligations while preserving their own capital.

     
     

     

    1. Jim Frame

      But, if UCD were to contract with a firm specializing in student housing, there would be no expenditure of public funds by UCD.

      It doesn’t matter if the private firm specializes in student housing or not, as long as public money doesn’t go into the project prevailing wage requirements can be avoided.  West Village is an example of this.  There was an initial determination by DIR that West Village was subject to PW, but that determination was challenged and overturned.

      I don’t think UCD has much money for housing construction, so I expect that it will continue to contract out its on-campus housing projects.

       

      1. hpierce

        Nuance is whether the public entity could be shown to have intent to own the project… at some point…

        Seem to remember a case that was “certified” by appellate courts (~30 years ago) where a public entity required a developer to build a library… as an ‘exaction’, no public monies… no prevailing wage requirement… subsequently the agency acquired the library, and the Courts determined that it was a back-door machination to avoid prevailing wage.   Busted, big time…

        1. Eileen Samitz

          hpierce,

          The reality is UC Irvine, UC Santa Cruz, and CSU Cal Poly San Luis Obispo are just some of many universities who have all been very successful building plenty of on-campus student housing. Why not UC Davis?

  9. Edison

    Master Leases and Loss of Property Taxes:  It has been stated by at least one commenter that the collection of property taxes on an apartment complex ceases when UCD executes a master lease on the property.  If in fact this is the case, then this practice by UCD has potentially negative implications that go far beyond the reduction of rental units available to local workforce families.  It also means less badly needed property tax revenue for both the City of Davis and the County of Yolo (and possibly a reduction in revenue for assorted special districts supported by property taxes).  Given that several UCD publications and public statements during the past year have touted master leases as a way to accommodate UCD’s rapidly expanding enrollment, might it be prudent for the City of Davis and the County of Yolo to look into the legality of UCD master leases?  Might it also be prudent for the two jurisdictions to explore potential remedies for the loss of property tax revenue; i.e., to seek financial remuneration from UCD?  At the very least, it may be prudent for the City’s budget and finance officials to perform some “what if” forecasts of the fiscal impact the City would incur should UCD continue this practice.

      1. Ron

        Don:

        That is something I was wondering about, as well.

        On a related note (and not something I’m seeking an argument on), I’m wondering what would prevent the University from entering into master leases (or outright purchases of) any newly-constructed off-campus apartments, as well (with all of the ramifications that would cause).

        I realize that you’ll probably interpret that question as an argument against all apartment construction, but it is not intended that way.

        Overall, there appears to be more than one issue to settle, with the University.

        1. Don Shor

          I’m wondering what would prevent the University from entering into master leases (or outright purchases of) any newly-constructed off-campus apartments, as well (at some point).

          Nothing that I know of would prevent them from doing that. I suggest our city leaders bring this issue up in their ongoing meetings with UC officials.

        2. Grok

          Nothing that I know of would prevent them from doing that. I suggest our city leaders bring this issue up in their ongoing meetings with UC officials. – don

          I think that is a good suggestion. I really hope the LRDP subcommittee doesn’t spend all of their time talking about the innovation center they keep saying they want to work on with UCD and the get down to business on housing issues.

      2. Matt Williams

        Don and Ron, when we held the Finance and Budget Commission hearings on January 11, 2016 regarding Nishi, one of the key reasons that the “make whole” provision was a necessity was that we had been told in a prior FBC hearing that UCD and other public leasing of the commercial space would eliminate the property tax for the rental space so rented. As a result the FBC submitted Questions 8 and 17 and 22 to the consultants prior to the January 11 hearing.

        Question 8 read as follows: Are you aware of anything that would preclude a Development Agreement  that requires payment of taxes despite ownership?”  The written EPS response to Question 8 was No, an applicant could enter into a Development Agreement that requires them to compensate the City for taxes lost as a result of public ownership or lease of any given parcel in the project.”

        Question 17 read as follows: “Why is some property tax shown as non-profit/why is there non-profit component?” The written EPS response to Question 17 was UC Davis and other nonprofits are exempt from property tax payment obligations. The analysis makes assumptions for each project about square feet likely to be occupied by UC Davis and other nonprofits such as trade associations or business incubators.”

        Question 22 read as follows: “Is there a difference between UCD in ownership or tenancy?” The written EPS response to Question 22 was Both are likely tax-exempt scenarios.”

        1. Don Shor

          UC Davis rented commercial space in the building next door to us for several years. I doubt that the owners of the building stopped paying property taxes on it. I would ask the county for clarification.

        2. Matt Williams

          Don, all I can do is relate what the City’s consultants told us (the FBC) both verbally and in writing.  They were clear in what they told us, and we were clear in our insistece that the City’s property tax revenue stream be protected from such an eventuality in the specific terms of the Development Agreement.  The consultants researched that and the developer agreed to the “make whole” provisions once the legality of that provision was confirmed.

          It is possible that EPS was wrong in both their assessment and their advice.

          1. Don Shor

            To apply for the College Exemption, a claim form must be filed each year with the assessor of the county where the property is located. The claim form, BOE-264-AH, College Exemption, is available from the county assessor. To receive the full 100 percent exemption for property owned or leased on the January 1 lien date, the claim must be filed by February 15.

            I wonder if those claim forms are a matter of public record.

        3. South of Davis

          Don wrote:

          > I wonder if those claim forms are a matter of public record.

          It would be interesting to see how many properties are owned or leased by the University of California “of campus” in Yolo county and add up how big the lost revenue number is.

          If someone has a contact in the assessors office it would also be interested to get a grand total of tax exempt property in the city and county including all city and school district owned property and other things like Symphony/Pacifico apartments and GAMAT/DACHA homes.

          P.S. I know that if you have a realtor friend with title company access they can look up a single address and see who owns it and if the owner pays property tax, but I don’t know of a way to search the entire county to see who is not paying taxes. Maybe David can have a court intern swing by the assessors office next time they are in Woodland and see if there is a way to ask for this (it would also be interesting to see what percentage of the county s paying low Williamson Act taxes)…

    1. hpierce

      Not sure if “master leases” triggers PT exemptions (probably doesn’t exempt), but ‘ownership’ does…  UCD bought Web-Em and other apartment complexes in the past…

      1. South of Davis

        hpierce wrote:

        > Not sure if “master leases” triggers PT exemptions

        I’m not an expert in this, but over the past 30 years I am aware of many specific UC leases all over the state including long term NNN leases of entire buildings, medium term Mod. Gross leases of flex/industrial space to shot tern FSG leases of office space and ALL of them were exempt from paying CA property tax on the leased space.

  10. Davisres007

    You caused me pause when you pointed to SL 45,000 population versus Davis’s 65,000 as if Davis had a leg up on SL. This is the absolute mischaracterization of the two university communities specific to their economies.  The economic advantage of SL over Davis is staggering.  Does SL’s economic advantage tip the scale to SL for University housing development?-I don’t know, but it’s too obvious to ignore.

    1. Eileen Samitz

      Davis007 (what an interesting new posting name)

      Does SL’s economic advantage tip the scale to SL for University housing development?-I don’t know, but it’s too obvious to ignore.

      To answer your question, the economies of Davis compared to any other City is irrelevant. The university housing being produced on-campus  at campuses like UC Irvine and UC Berkeley does not need to cost the university’s any capital investment as Edison’s comment earlier explained.

      A growing number of universities across the country are contracting with experienced and reputable companies to design, build and manage on-campus housing. The company fronts the cost of the housing and is then repaid over time from the student rental fees. (At least one of these companies is even listed on the New York Stock Exchange.)   This approach provides students with high quality, well managed on-campus apartments, while allowing the university to devote its capital budget to academic needs.  This option for vastly increasing the supply of on-campus housing has been taken by a number of well-known universities, including Drexel, Arizona State, Northern Arizona, Portland State, Princeton, and here in California, UC Irvine. As the president of one university has stated, the past practice of pushing students off campus tore at the fabric of the community while diminishing the university experience of its students.  His university found a better way; now it’s time for UCD to follow suit.

      So the bottom line is, there are all of these other university’s who are resolving their housing deficiencies by building on-campus housing via these student housing companies specializing and dedicated to this need. So why not UC Davis? Why hasn’t UC Davis accomplished building the on-campus housing projects like UC Irvine and the projects at UC Santa Cruz, and CSU Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, etc?

      1. Matt Williams

        Eileen, not a new posting name.  A quick search of the Vanguard site shows that davisres007 has a series of comments in the Vanguard that go back as far as February 2011.  Not a frequent commenter though, so your assumption was understandable.

      2. South of Davis

        Eileen wrote:

        > So why not UC Davis?

        UC Davis has had both Tandem from Davis and Carmel Partners out of the Bay Area build and manage student housing on campus.

        1. Eileen Samitz

          Unfortunately Tandem Partners and Carmel Partners are not companies that can handle producing high density housing, so they have only produced 2 and 3 story housing products.  Wood is cheaper to build so it can only go up until 4 stories. UCD needs to reach out to companies who have specialized in creating high density on-campus student housing like so many other campuses have done, which have produced very successful projects 5+ stories for student housing.

          High rise student apartments on campus are the long-term and sustainable solution to providing the many on-campus student apartments needed to house UCD students for the 4-5 years that they attend UCD. The obvious question is why has not UCD done what other universities are doing by working with companies that are capable of producing 5+ story student housing on the UCD campus? This solution is working for other universities including UC Irvine and UC Berkeley. So why isn’t UCD pursuing these same tried and proven solutions to resolve the significant lack of on-campus student housing that UCD has created for itself over the years?

  11. Jim Leonard

    I appreciate David’s research and several of the comments made.

    I only noticed one sentence (I admit I didn’t read the comments very well–so might have missed something) that said U.C.D. should have the housing in place before moving the students in. I think that would be very appropriate.

    U.C.D. should also be called out for putting the solution to the housing crisis it generated on Davis’ shoulders. That was and is wrong and it must stop.

    So, before solving housing crisis, let’s get our moral house in order. U.C.D. has wronged us, must be called to correct the offense, and dogged until it does so.

  12. Eileen Samitz

    I’m wondering what would prevent the University from entering into master leases (or outright purchases of) any newly-constructed off-campus apartments, as well (at some point).

    This is a very valid point brought up by Ron.  And given that UCD may well try to “reserve” any and all new apartments and whatever number of existing apartments are in Davis, this is something that our City needs to address with legal remedy if necessary. When UCD starts trying to “reserve” our city rental housing, denying our workforce and families from access, that is completely an antagonistic and detrimental action against our community, and our City planning. This is especially egregious given that other California University’s are stepping up and taking action to address their housing needs on campus, unlike UCD which, again, has over 5,300 acres, more land than any UC.

    1. Matt Williams

      I join Eileen in agreement with Ron’s point.  This very issue was raised by myself and the other members of the Finance and Budget Commission in our 2015 and 2016 hearings regarding Nishi, and we specifically recommended and the developer and the City agreed to a $93,000 per year (subject to 2% annual Prop 13 increases) “make whole” provision that offset the loss of property tax revenue for the City due to UCD or any other public entity leasing the Nishi commercial space.  To ensure the legality of such a “make whole” provision in the Development Agreement, the FBC submitted Question 8 to Staff and the consultants.

      Question 8 read as follows: Are you aware of anything that would preclude a Development Agreement  that requires payment of taxes despite ownership?”  The written response to Question 8 provided by EPS on January 11, 2016 was, No, an applicant could enter into a Development Agreement that requires them to compensate the City for taxes lost as a result of public ownership or lease of any given parcel in the project.”

    2. Grok

      I’m wondering what would prevent the University from entering into master leases (or outright purchases of) any newly-constructed off-campus apartments, as well (at some point).

      There is another way, UCD could build more housing on campus instead of just taking credit for leasing existing housing in town and including that in their # of students housed statistics.

       

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