My View: Can Students and the Community Coexist?

Is the push for more on-campus housing a land use necessity, or is it an embodiment of an anti-student sentiment?

While I strongly believe that the university has been lagging in its responsibility to build housing for students, I am also concerned with some of the arguments coming from the slower growth side of the room in this regard.

Put simply, there are many reasons why the university should put more housing on campus, and I think both the city and residents have articulated these points well. Chief among them is more students on campus reduces our carbon footprint and alleviates traffic issues.

While the university probably has greater ability to add more housing than the city does – there is a caveat there.  The development of West Village actually produced many of the same land use concerns in Davis that city developments do.  There was negotiation and there was lawsuit.  The project was delayed.

We also have seen delays in the redevelopment of Solano and Orchard Parks.

So for those who believe that building on campus is a panacea – I think you are mistaken.  And as we know from the past, even when the university has committed in writing to increasing on-campus housing percentages, they have not followed through.

As I have stated many times, I support the 100/50 proposal.  I believe that we will be quite fortunate if the university follows through on the 90/40 commitment that they have made.

Regardless, the 0.2 percent vacancy rate virtually necessitates that the city build housing capacity in the city itself.  And I still believe it would be the city’s best interest to figure out how much housing it needs in the next ten years and look at ways to accommodate that.

While I am supportive of the university housing half of the students on campus, I believe that is probably an upper threshold.  I don’t know that we can go much further than 50 percent – particularly in a town like Davis where students are so integrated into our neighborhoods.

When I toured Poly Canyon Village last year – I think a type of development that the UC Davis campus should entertain – it was notable that that housing is largely for sophomores.

Are you going to get a lot of students to stay on campus past their sophomore year?  Probably not.  Even with student apartments, you still have students wanting more independence – living on their own, able to have and consume alcohol in their residences (by the third year most are turning 21 at some point).

That is why it concerns me when I hear blanket comments that suggest that the best place for student housing is on campus.  I believe that the campus must provide more student housing, but at the same time I am supportive of students living in our community and believe that to be an asset.

A portion of the Sterling staff report caught my attention as I did the write up on next week’s council meeting.

There was an issue raised about “the potential conflict of multi-family housing or student housing in close proximity to senior housing. Concerns included density issues as well as lifestyle differences.”

Staff counters with a city-wide map that shows senior housing and apartments are often in close proximity, with staff concluding that “the situation is not uncommon and has not resulted in any obvious conflict between residential uses.”

This gets to a larger issue I have had regarding those who maintain that the most suitable location for housing is on campus.

The Vanguard fully supports the notion of 100/50 rather than 90/40, as noted above, and is critical that the university has in the past failed to live up to commitments to increase the number of students residing on campus.  But this is a university town and, while students bring with them noise and nuisance at times, they also bring innovation and vitality.

I don’t see students as a nuisance or the mix of students with families and seniors something we should avoid – rather I see it as something we need to embrace.  Are there challenges?  Sure. But for the most part, students are a strength in our community and I’m not supportive of sequestering them to campus.

That again leads me to wonder how much of this push for students living on campus is due to the seeming convenience of it for land use purposes, and how much of it is related to an underlying anti-student sentiment?

These are complex issues and, again, I think we are better off having some guidance on the amount of student housing we must add in this community.

—David M. Greenwald reporting



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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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69 thoughts on “My View: Can Students and the Community Coexist?”

  1. Mark West

    One way to evaluate the legitimacy of an argument is to see if the logic is consistently applied to various situations. For instance, if the overriding concern regarding student housing is environmental, then those pushing for student housing on campus for that reason would also want workforce housing included in any commercial developments and sufficient housing in town for campus workers so they would not have to commute from the surrounding communities. That is obviously not the case, at least for the most vocal critics. What is consistent in their ‘logic’ is their opposition to more housing in town, and their desire to segregate students away from town. What it boils down to is housing discrimination, something that our society rejected years ago.

     

  2. Ron

    From article:  “I believe that the campus must provide more student housing, but at the same time I am supportive of students living in our community and believe that to be an asset.”

    There is an ugly, underlying accusation within statements such as this (and from other pro-development commenters on the Vanguard, lately).

    The issue is that large-scale dormitory-type structures (540 bedrooms, each with its lease, each with its own bathroom) is essentially a boarding house that will only appeal to students.   (I realize that some deny this, but very few others would choose such an arrangement.)  It is discriminatory “by design”.  If such structures are pursued on campus, it’s perfectly appropriate and legal.

    Some have pointed out that if it is determined that an apartment complex is the best use of the former Families First site, opposition would essentially “disappear” if a more traditional, lower-impact design was chosen.  Also, as pointed out, such a design would still appeal to students, as well as other populations (e.g., those in the local workforce, families, etc.).

    Although Davis is indeed fortunate to have a UC, these types of issues have also led to similar concerns at other cities that house UCs.  However, other UCs have stepped up their efforts to build more housing on campus.

    If you’d like to know why our UC isn’t stepping up adequately so far, I’d suggest asking those on the LRDP subcommittee, including our own mayor (who simultaneously works for the department on campus that is pursuing the vast majority of the planned enrollment growth).

     

    1. Don Shor

      “The issue is that large-scale dormitory-type structures (540 bedrooms, each with its lease, each with its own bathroom) is essentially a boarding house that will only appeal to” students young adults.
      There are lots of young adults who wish to rent in town who are not students, and many who are not UCD students.
      And we have housing that only appeals to old adults. We call that senior housing. Targeting housing development to certain markets is nothing new.

      1. Ron

        Regarding senior housing, that is true.  However, in all honesty, “seniors” almost always live a “lower-impact” lifestyle, regarding impacts on surrounding neighborhoods.

        I’m sure that there are some young adults who are not students who wish to live in town (but are not doing so, currently).  (Not sure how many.) Perhaps a handful would be willing to live in a boarding house with inadequate parking, occupied primarily by students, without an ability to choose one’s roommates, and where costs for electricity and water are rolled into the rent (and beyond one’s control).

        Or – maybe they’ll continue to live in a surrounding community with a more traditional arrangement, rather than moving into such a situation.

        1. Don Shor

          However, in all honesty, “seniors” almost always live a “lower-impact” lifestyle, regarding impacts on surrounding neighborhoods.

          So your concern isn’t that the housing is non-universal, your concern is actually having large numbers of students there.

          I’m sure that there are some “young adults” who wish to live in town who are not students. Perhaps a handful would be willing to live in a boarding house with inadequate parking, occupied primarily by students, wwithout an ability to choose one’s roommates.

          I’ve been acquainted with dozens of such young adults over the years who live in town because they work here or grew up here. Just curious: have you ever spoken to a young adult in his/her 20’s who is looking for housing here? They will live in whatever rental units they can find. It’s a near-certainty that such rental housing is going to be “occupied primarily by students.” Living in a surrounding community entails higher costs for transportation. I’ve pencilled this out with several of them. It costs about $3 – 5 per day for transportation from Dixon, Woodland, or Sac. So it costs more to live here, and it costs more to commute here.
          I’m not sure why you and others wish to keep making up names for this apartment complex. It’s not a boarding house. It’s not a mega-dorm.

        2. Ron

          Don:

          Again, driving into town is not the only option.  I “commuted” from Davis to Sacramento for years, but rarely drove.  (Interestingly enough, I actually drove to work ever day when I worked in Davis, from my home in Davis!)  (Kind of disgusting, I know.)  🙂

    2. Howard P

      There is an ugly, underlying accusation within statements such as this… (from Ron, repeatedly),

      If you’d like to know why our UC isn’t stepping up adequately so far, I’d suggest asking those on the LRDP subcommittee, including our own mayor (who simultaneously works for the department on campus that is pursuing the vast majority of the planned enrollment growth).

      Almost, ’nuff said, unless you are a ‘conspiracy theorist’, who also think no one has landed on the moon, and JFK’s death was a CIA plot,and the ‘twin towers’ was a US plot to implicate those in the mid-east.

      You are coming very close to libel, Ron.  Even after you have repeatedly said that you have “moved on”, and I predict that you’ll assail me as a “troll” for calling you on again asserting the same “allegation” that you have assailed others (particularly Matt) for calling you on.

      I’ll go to what Matt said… something along the lines of  ‘if you cite auditor standards for COI, cite them’… you responded by saying something along the lines of “look those up yourself…”.  The FACT of the matter is that you have presented ABSLOUTELY NO EVIDENCE that Mayor Davis controlled/influenced the subcommittee, one way or the other… the technical term I believe is SPURIOUS INNUENDO.  The fact is that there is NO legal conflict of interest, even if you had evidence of influence (which you have never presented).

      And you call me a “troll”?  On this topic, look in the mirror, and see a textbook definition.

      On the COI thing, either present cogent, definitive evidence, or STFU.

       

       

      1. Ron

        Howard:  I’m just stating facts, here.  It’s not an “opinion”.  (I thought you were a “facts guy”.)

        Sure is a lot of defensiveness on the Vanguard, lately.

        UCD’s inadequate response (so far) is specifically discussed in David’s article, above. Again, if anyone would like to know why UCD hasn’t adequately addressed the need for housing (that UCD has created), I’d suggest asking the LRDP subcommittee.

        1. Howard P

          Skating around your allegation of COI/misconduct, I see… nice try, think/hope most will see thru that… I questioned you on FACTS… an ALT FACT (with no evidence) that you continually allege against Robb Davis…

          You like many here, will try to “cherry-pick” to “defend” your position… I ONLY challenged your assertion as to ’cause’.   So who is uber-defensive? And big-time deflecting on the issue I addressed?

          You said, “If you’d like to know why our UC isn’t stepping up adequately so far, I’d suggest asking those on the LRDP subcommittee, including our own mayor (who simultaneously works for the department on campus that is pursuing the vast majority of the planned enrollment growth).”

          That is the only point I questioned, big time. And it truly is a FACT that those are the words you posted. Not my opinion…

    3. David Greenwald Post author

      I think you mischaracterize people as being pro-development when they aren’t.

      ” It is discriminatory “by design”.”

      You realize just about every building, every home is discriminatory by design?

    4. Robb Davis

      Ron wrote:

      If you’d like to know why our UC isn’t stepping up adequately so far, I’d suggest asking those on the LRDP subcommittee, including our own mayor (who simultaneously works for the department on campus that is pursuing the vast majority of the planned enrollment growth).

      This is factually untrue Ron and your continued accusations done anonymously are not appreciated.  I have spoken and written to University leadership based on the clear will of the full City Council (which I fully support).  I have used the same language in one-on-one conversations as I have in public meetings and in what I have written.  I fear nothing from the University leadership and have not changed my words or approach at all because I am an employee of the University.

      I honestly thought we had put this to rest but you keep dragging it out and I find it grotesque that someone accuses me of inappropriately representing the City while hiding behind a veil of anonymity.

      I have said before and will restate here: the Services for International Students and Scholars unit where I work does not recruit or otherwise promote the expansion of the international student body population.  Once they are accepted, I work with students to assure they have the documentation necessary to enter and remain legally within the United States.  I advise them on issues related to allowable employment, the need to maintain full-time student status, and how to deal with various administrative issues related to their status.  I do not “pursue” enrollment growth.

      I would ask you to stop disseminating untruths about my work and making veiled accusations about my motives and modus operandi vis-a-vis my engagement with the University.

      1. Ron

        Robb:

        I never said that you personally pursued enrollment growth.  However, UC (and UCD) are indeed pursuing enrollment growth, via the same department that you work in.  This has been reported multiple times in external publications, such as the Sacramento Bee.

        I am not seeing ANYTHING that I’ve stated which is factually incorrect.  I am sorry that you and your overly-sensitive supporters view it differently.

         

         

        1. Robb Davis

          Show me.  Show me where it is written that my department–Services of International Students and Scholars–has any role in pursuing enrollment growth.  I can assure you that we are so busy responding to the needs of enrolled students there is no time for anything else.

          And please stop mincing words.  What you wrote was an attempt to cast aspersions upon me, question my mettle and my character, and suggest that I put the needs of the City second to those of the University.

          I would ask you to stop it.  I would ask you to contact me directly and discuss your concerns.  I would ask you to stop questioning my credibility anonymously.

        2. Ron

          In fact, I’m not even the only one who has brought up the concern.

          I’ve communicated directly with you before regarding growth and development issues, and have no qualms about doing so regarding this issue, if you’d like.

          The more “important” issue, however, is that we rarely hear from you or the other subcommittee member, regarding your efforts with the LRDP.  That was true all of last year, as well.  (Right up until the point that the entire council became involved, at the last minute before UCD planned to initiate the EIR process.)

          And yet, David (and the other supporters of more student-oriented housing in the city) constantly note that UCD has not adequately responded.  I suggested that they ask YOU and the other subcommittee member about this, instead.

          Yes, it is true that someone in your situation can feel “pressures” that wouldn’t otherwise occur. I did not state that you necessarily responded to those pressures. (There is a difference, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good arrangement to begin with.)

          Seriously, you asked for an article regarding this issue? Here’s one of many:

          http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article68782827.html

        3. Robb Davis

          Who else brought up this concern Ron?

          When you wrote to me, did you raise your concern about my employment?

          Where is it written that SISS (my department) is involved in promoting enrollment?

          The subcommittee shepherded the process to where we are today.  How can you even suggest that somehow we failed in our role when we have communicated over and over the questions and concerns to the University?  I do not control their responses so I can give you no answer other than what David has provided.  We make our requests known (we did so most recently in late February) and I sign each and every letter on behalf of the entire City Council.  I fully support the direction.

        4. Don Shor

          However, UC (and UCD) are indeed pursuing enrollment growth, via the same department that you work in.

          False. Services for International Students and Scholars has nothing to do with enrollment.

          I am not seeing ANYTHING that I’ve stated which is factually incorrect.

          It would be factually incorrect to state, suggest, imply, or hint that Services for International Students and Scholars has anything to do with enrollment. So “via the same department that you work in” is factually incorrect.

          I am sorry that you and your overly-sensitive supporters view it differently.

          It’s a false assertion, is factually incorrect, and your comment is intended to discredit Robb. We’re not “viewing it differently.” You’re wrong, and you keep saying it.

        5. Ron

          [moderator] comment removed. You have been granted the privilege of posting anonymously. Your assertions in this thread violate that privilege. I have removed several comments and will continue to do so if necessary.

        6. Matt Williams

          [moderator] edited He provides his link to the SacBee article about the State Auditor Report, but very consciously and willfully chooses not to quote the 6th paragraph of the article, which says, “In an unprecedented move, the university released its own report disputing characterizations of its admissions policies and finances.”  Ron also consciously and willfully and duplicitously chooses not to include the link to the University’s 36 page report (see http://universityofcalifornia.edu/sites/default/files/Straight-Talk-Report-3-29-16.pdf).

          Further, neither the article published by the Bee nor the State Auditor’s report provides any direct or indirect evidence that anyone in the Services for International Students and Scholars department actively recruits International students, or contacts prospective International student candidates at any time during their candidacy for admission to the University.  The first contact that any International student has with the Services for International Students and Scholars department is AFTER they have already enrolled as a student at UCD.

          Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article68782827.html#storylink=cpy
           

      2. Greg Rowe

        From a different perspective, I’ve been in meetings with Mayor Davis over the past year on the UCD housing issue and have found him to be a consistently thoughtful, dedicated, articulate, intelligent and well-informed public official.  And, he has consistently brought needed attention to the City’s difficult financial situation. If one looks at the history of past members of city council and past mayors, it becomes apparent that a sizeable number have been employed by UCD or affiliated with the university in some way.  To me, therefore, attacking any member of the City Council on the basis of their employment is simply unwarranted.  In the case of Mayor Davis, he did, after all, sign the resolution and letter to UCD asking that the LRDP be revised to have a target of housing no less than 50% of the total student population on campus by the plan’s expiration in 2027.   That was a huge accomplishment for those of us who believe UCD should do more to accommodate the housing needs of the university’s rapidly growing enrollment.  Opposition by the mayor–or any mayor for that matter–could have easily sunk that effort.

        I’ve worked with many elected officials on all levels for more than 45 years, either as a government employee or volunteer representative of a advocacy.  There were times when I agreed with a position taken by an “elected,” and times when we dramatically disagreed.  From a practical standpoint, there is absolutely no point in attacking an elected official when you disagree with them, because in doing so you can pretty much count on them not siding with you on an important issue in the future.  Moreover, if you’re going to strenuously disagree with an elected official, it’s best to keep that opinion private and not attack the elected official in public, especially in a public forum like the Vanguard.

        With a few rare exceptions (such as a congressmen from the San Diego region who was ultimately censured by congress), I’ve respected the elected officials with whom I’ve been in contact.  It’s an often thankless and demanding job that requires many hours away from family, friends and personal interests.

  3. Ron

    Don:  “So your concern isn’t that the housing is non-universal, your concern is actually having large numbers of students there.”

    As I stated above, one can’t deny that having large numbers of students purposefully concentrated in one location (off-campus) can raise concerns.  (Hence, the concern regarding the rise of the “mini-dorm”, which might be unstoppable, regardless.  Especially on properties near campus.)

    I generally don’t support the purposeful creation of a large-scale, dormitory-type design off-campus, which would only appeal to students.  (Unless it was very close to UCD, and did not create other concerns.)

    Having said that, a more traditional design would still appeal to students, working singles, families, etc.  (Students might also appreciate living with other populations in a more mixed environment, as well.)

    Senior housing is another subject, but you are right – it is also discriminatory. I’ve never really been a fan of such an approach (although I understand it’s legal, under some circumstances).

     

  4. Ron

    Don:  “Just curious: have you ever spoken to a young adult in his/her 20’s who is looking for housing here?”

    I essentially was one (a little older), when I first arrived.  I had a job opportunity in Davis, but immediately looked in Davis and beyond, for an apartment.  Found one in Davis (near El Macero) which was probably more expensive than other nearby communities, but better overall.

    The vacancy rate is pretty low (at the moment) in many areas. A remnant of the housing crash. (Anyone remember that?)

     

     

     

     

    1. Matt Williams

      Your response to Don’s question suffers from the same narrow perspective that the majority of your responses to Don’s questions suffer from.  You rarely walk in the shoes of other people.  Your perspective begins and ends with yourself.

      1. Ron

        Matt:

        Don specifically asked about my experience in speaking with young adults.  Just pointed out that I was one (and did speak with other young adults).  Still do.

        1. Matt Williams

          This response also suffers from the same narrow perspective that the majority of your responses to Don’s questions suffer from.  What you have said is that you talk to yourself.  As I said before, you rarely walk in the shoes of other people.  Your perspective begins and ends with yourself.

        2. Ron

          David:  I “admitted” no such thing (as if that was a “qualifying” factor, regarding statements related to planning, anyway).

          You guys are truly reaching, at this point.  Suggest sticking to the issues.  (No wonder that so many avoid commenting on the Vanguard, these days.)

          David: I really do think it’s time for you to engage in some self-reflection regarding the pro-development slant that you constantly promote on the Vanguard. It is transparent. (There is nothing inherently “wrong” with doing so, but it’s dishonest to deny it.) Several of the “usual” suspects are constantly there to support your articles (and attack those who question that approach), as well.

        3. David Greenwald

          Let’s review my stated positions on development:

          1.  I support Measure R

          2.  I oppose peripheral housing

          3.  I support an innovation park project

          4.  I believe that in addition to the university supplying housing on campus, we need some infill apartment complexes

          So because I’m not opposed to all development therefore I’m pro-development?  Is that really your position?

          Eileen supported Cannery and Wild Horse which are far larger than anything I have ever supported, does that make her prodevelopment?

        4. Ron

          David:

          I believe that you supported Nishi (without specifically acknowledging it), and MRIC (even with housing).  Both of those include peripheral housing developments.  (One might argue if Nishi “qualifies” for that definition.)

          Regardless, you’ve constantly advocated the “need” for an innovation center (which would necessarily lead to one or more of the proposals described above).  You constantly discuss pension liabilities and road conditions, while disregarding information which shows that these are statewide concerns.  Ironically, the state has already acted quickly, to address one of these concerns, and I suspect that they will also ultimately address the other concern.  (Some of the “usual suspects” seemed to be almost disappointed, when the state recently passed the road maintenance bill.)

          You constantly advocate for more student-oriented housing in the city (without ever addressing where it should go, or what the impacts would be).  You and some of your supporters constantly refer to the vacancy rate, as if that should be a primary planning tool.

          Again, there’s nothing wrong with advocating for development per se, but it’s dishonest when you don’t acknowledge what the Vanguard (and some of the “usual suspects”) have become.

          I don’t know if Eileen supported Wildhorse, but I understand that her support for the Cannery was partly based upon the competing Covell Village proposal (and SACOG requirements). (By the way, suggest that you examine some of the misinformation that is spread by some of your supporters, regarding SACOG requirements.  

          1. Don Shor

            (By the way, suggest that you examine some of the misinformation that is spread by some of your supporters, regarding SACOG requirements.

            You must be kidding.

        5. David Greenwald

          MRIC would be part of three, an innovation park project.  I supported it in concept but there was never a specific proposal, so I don’t know if I would have or not.

          Nishi, I took no position on.

          But my bigger point is whether supporting a limited number of projects means I am pro-development – my counter example is Eileen

        6. Ron

          David:  At times, your articles (and definitely your “supporters”) take on an ugly, accusatory tone as well.  Your article today (and some of the responses from the “usual suspects”) demonstrates this.

          In any other nearby community, your point-of-view might be more accurately described as “slow growth”.  But within Davis, you have more in common with “pro-development” types.

          Again, there’s nothing “wrong” with having such a point of view. However, what you end up doing is reporting only “one side” of a debate, while simultaneously presenting only those facts which support your position. What really bothers me is when you state that this is an “evidence-based” approach, when it’s anything but that. (When this is pointed out, a few “usual suspects” are there to attack those who question it.)

          This is not good journalism.

           

        7. Jim Frame

          You constantly discuss pension liabilities and road conditions, while disregarding information which shows that these are statewide concerns.  Ironically, the state has already acted quickly, to address one of these concerns, and I suspect that they will also ultimately address the other concern.

          “Address” isn’t the same as “solve.”  The state’s road money will help, but it won’t even come close to closing the gap locally.  I expect that any state relief on the pension matter  —  which is currently nothing more than a not-universally-shared wish — will be even less helpful due to the sheer magnitude of the funding shortfall.

           

        8. David Greenwald

          Ron: You are incorrect, I’m not with the more pro-growth types in Davis.  I’ve always supported the more slow-growth types and I remain slow growth.  I’m simply not no growth.

        9. Ron

          Jim:

          I’ve previously noted that I’m not opposed to local contributions regarding either of those concerns, especially if such contributions can be leveraged with state funds.

          Regarding pension liabilities, I’d suggest that the “sheer magnitude” of the problem (statewide) will virtually ensure more state involvement, at some point.  (Actually, that’s been occurring for some time in a rather dysfunctional manner, via the “expected returns” that CALPERS is using.)

          The stock market may also be due for a correction, given the gains over the past several years.  This will also increase pressure on the state to act.

          I’m not the only one who’s noted this.

           

        10. Ron

          David:  “Ron: You are incorrect, I’m not with the more pro-growth types in Davis.  I’ve always supported the more slow-growth types and I remain slow growth.  I’m simply not no growth.”

          My main point was not whether you are “slow growth” or “pro growth”.  My point is that you are only presenting information and data which supports your position (while simultaneously stating that it’s “objective evidence”).  And, there’s a small and vocal group on the Vanguard, who vigorously defend much of your basic position with their own selective data (and yet sometimes denying what their own data shows), again while maintaining that it’s “objective”.  (Some of those supporters engage in outright nastiness, as well.  However, you generally do not resort to that.)

          For what it’s worth, I would agree that you are not as “pro-development” as some others. (But again, that wasn’t my main point.)

           

        11. Ron

          I guess I wouldn’t have as much concern, if the Vanguard acknowledged that it’s an “opinion blog”, and is not attempting to present a balanced view or evidence.  A “line” is crossed, when views and evidence are disguised as “objective”.

          Actually, all of your articles are essentially “opinions”, including those which do not address growth and development. (However, I generally try to stay out of those conversations.)

        12. David Greenwald

          “I guess I wouldn’t have as much concern, if the Vanguard acknowledged that it’s an “opinion blog”, and is not attempting to present a balanced view or evidence.  A “line” is crossed, when views and evidence are disguised as “objective”.”

          Ron: title of this article starts with “my view” – commentary is labeled as “commentary” and news is reported without commentary.  Your point is meritless.

        13. Matt Williams

          Ron said . . . “I guess I wouldn’t have as much concern, if the Vanguard acknowledged that it’s an “opinion blog”, and is not attempting to present a balanced view or evidence.  A “line” is crossed, when views and evidence are disguised as “objective”.

          Actually, all of your articles are essentially “opinions”, including those which do not address growth and development. (However, I generally try to stay out of those conversations.)”

          [moderator] edited Step back and take a look at the articles from the past 10 days.  Every single one of the 14 articles listed below is very clearly and explicitly and unambiguously labeled by David as his opinion.

          My View: Can Students and the Community Coexist?

          My View: Is AIM an Elite Program? And is That a Bad Thing?

          My View: Latest Police Incident Was Bad – but Was It Racial Profiling?

          Commentary: Sterling Project Illustrates Difficulty of Conflict Resolution Process

          Commentary: The Problem of Self-Fulfilling Prophecies with AIM

          Commentary: Can We Bridge the AIM Divide?

          Commentary: UCD Materials Growth Lab Does Not Benefit the Community

          Monday Morning Thoughts: Will Transportation Bill Help Davis?

          Sunday Commentary: The Need for Evidence-Based Approaches

          A Dangerous Trend: Immigration Arrests at State Courthouses Are on the Rise

          My View: Divided Opposition to Sterling?

          Freedom Shouldn’t Depend on Your Bank Account Balance

          Commentary: Council Needs a Policy on the MRAP

          Commentary: Stunning Revelations, Pensions Expected to Triple over Next 20 Years

           

  5. Tia Will

    Two thoughts on the article.

    So for those who believe that building on campus is a panacea – I think you are mistaken.” You have confused two issues here. “Building on campus might well be a “panacea” for housing in Davis if the university were actually to keep its word on the target amounts that they commit to. What you are actually and correctly asserting is that they do not keep their word and thus we cannot rely on them. Now that leaves two strategies: 1. The city takes up the slack by providing sufficient housing 2. The city doesn’t.

    Either strategy leaves someone in an undesirable situation. The nearby neighbors if a large dorm type complex requiring zoning changes is approved. The students if it isn’t. Some, myself included see this as a big ask of city residents in order to compensate for the duplicity of the university. I will not stand in opposition to this project due to student need, but I do empathize with the neighbors.

    As a previous resident of Francisco Torres in Santa Barbara, I believe that this is basically a good housing model for the younger undergrads on campus. It is fine for the “immediate neighbors” if there aren’t any as was the case in SB. But, we were a noisy, rowdy, messy lot and I would not have wanted to live in close proximity to ST either then, or now or at any time in between. Most students did as I did. Moved out within a year or two. All things considered, campus is definitely the best location for this kind of dorm.

    1. Matt Williams

      It would be an even better housing model for the younger undergrads if (1) it didn’t waste so many square feet of space on bathrooms.  An average ratio of bedrooms to bathrooms of 1:2 seems like a much better use of space.  Many have argued that the 1:1 ratio being provided is pandering to an indulgent life style. And if (2) it provided zero parking spaces for its non-handicapped undergrad residents.  An appropriate number of visitor spaces for the number of units, the legally required number of handicapped spaces, and a complement of ZipCar (or equivalent) spaces is all it should provide.  We have a wealth of already existing student-oriented apartment complexes where students who want/need a car can rent.  The inventory of apartments across the city has an already existing abundance of car spaces.  Provision of “garage space” at Sterling (and Lincoln 40 for that matter) is simply indulging the students.  The more they use Unitrans to get to their classes and campus activities the better.

    2. Mark West

      “if a large dorm type complex requiring zoning changes is approved”

      “campus is definitely the best location for this kind of dorm.”

      The proposed Sterling project is not a dorm (mega or otherwise) and referring to it as one is disingenuous. It is an apartment complex, much like The U, just around the corner.

      “Some, myself included see this as a big ask of city residents…”

      It’s a big ask for the City to supply adequate housing for residents? Really? That is the main role of cities and has nothing to do with the University. Your advocacy is just an attempt to prevent others from finding appropriate housing in town, which is both anti-student and frankly, anti-people.

      1. Tia Will

        Talk about disingenuous. Are you really maintaining that in a university centered town, housing has nothing to do with student residents ?

        ” Your advocacy” ?

        What did you not understand about my statement that I am not in opposition to this project because I feel that the student need outweighs the neighborhood concerns.

        Did you even read what I wrote, or did your knee jerk animosity to anything I write just run away with you ?

        1. Mark West

          “Are you really maintaining that in a university centered town, housing has nothing to do with student residents ?”

          Where did I say that? What I said is that the reason we have cities is to efficiently house the residents of a region. There really is no other reason for cities to exist and that role has absolutely nothing to do with the presence or absence of the University. I have also stated elsewhere that students should be treated the same as every other resident of the City, and not be segregated into separate housing as some have proposed.

          “What did you not understand about my statement that I am not in opposition to this project because I feel that the student need outweighs the neighborhood concerns.”

          When I referred to ‘your advocacy’ it was to the totality of your writing over the years. You have initially questioned nearly every residential development project in town on the basis of its impact on your quality of life, placing your wants ahead of the needs of all those residents who do not have appropriate housing. I agree that you did not make a statement in direct opposition to the proposed Sterling project, other than the lines that I quoted where you opined that it was a ‘dorm’ and belonged ‘on campus.’

           

      2. Ron

        Mark (to Tia):  “Your advocacy is just an attempt to prevent others from finding appropriate housing in town, which is both anti-student and frankly, anti-people.”

        This is the same type of argument that pro-development types use to rally against ANY form of restrictions on growth and development.

        One thing that I would disagree with Tia on, is that the impacts of Sterling (financially, and otherwise) will be felt beyond the neighborhood, if approved.  These impacts have been discussed at length on the Vanguard, already. On a related note, it would also set a precedent, in the absence of city policy regarding megadorms and a finalized LRDP – with the concerns of the city addressed.

        Again, opposition would likely disappear, if this was a more traditional proposal, designed to be occupied by a range of populations (including students).

  6. Tia Will

    that role has absolutely nothing to do with the presence or absence of the University”

    I completely disagree. The number of residents needing homes would be drastically fewer if the university were not present, thus the burden, as well as the role would be dramatically altered.. You can say that the presence or absence of the university is irrelevant as much as you like without it making the slightest impact on the fact that the mere presence of the university is a major driver of the need for housing.

    totality of your writing over the years” Fine. Let’s take a look at that. I am not opposing either this project or the Lincoln 40 as last described to me. I favored Nishi. I opposed The Cannery for very specific reasons of location and accessibility, not because it was more housing. I was one of the few commenters here on the Vanguard that preferred an site housing in combo with an Innovation Park and might have actually tipped the balance for me. So, it seems to me that if anyone is opposed to any development for essentially any reason, the draw your ire. 

    One final note. The only ones of these developments that would have the slightest impact on my personal life style would have been Trackside and Lincoln 40 which is actually closer to my home than Trackside. I was against the former and in favor of the latter. So much for your contention that it is “my personal preference” above the needs of others. I don’t mind arguing the advantages and disadvantages of various proposals. I do dislike being personally attacked for what you assume to be my motivations.

    1. Mark West

      “The number of residents needing homes would be drastically fewer if the university were not present, thus the burden, as well as the role would be dramatically altered.”

      If instead of the University we were talking about some other part of the State Government, would you think that the State would need to supply housing? How about if it were a large corporation instead. Would you expect that corporation to buy land and create its own town on the outskirts of Davis to house its employees (separate but equal)? Why do you believe the University has a greater responsibility for supplying housing than either the State or private corporations? The purpose of cities is to supply efficient forms of housing for the people who live in the region, regardless of why those people choose to live there.

      “the mere presence of the university is a major driver of the need for housing.”

      Is it (and so what if it is)?  The population of Yolo County has expanded by roughly 2% per year for the past few decades. Has that growth been primarily due to the University, or to a combination of growth drivers over the entire Sacramento region? For the past two decades, the population of Davis has grown at roughly half that rate of the County. Might that not be the primary cause of the current housing shortage in town? The failure to match available supply with the growth in demand?

      “So much for your contention that it is “my personal preference” above the needs of others.”

      Were you not the one who stated (paraphrasing here) ‘no one has the right to live in Davis just because they want to’ and ‘if they cannot afford to live here, they should move elsewhere, just like I did’? How about your oft-stated opinion about being opposed to Davis getting larger because of the potential impact on the quality of life in town? Maybe that was someone else who made those comments…if so, my mistake.

      “I do dislike being personally attacked for what you assume to be my motivations.”

      I attack your opinions and the things that you write, and though I admit I am less than perfect, I strive not to attack you as an individual. If you believe that I have personally attacked you, then I have failed in my word choice, accept the criticism, and apologize.

       

      1. Tia Will

        some other part of the State Government, would you think that the State would need to supply housing?”

        I actually thing that this is an intriguing idea. There is precedent for it. Military bases work in just this way. I do believe that work place/ housing arrangements can be quite successful. And as I stated, I have experience in living in both the dorm- like and private setting as a student and both have their pros and cons. I believe that the dorm-like settings are best situated on campus from my experience and that of my daughter in Berkeley.

        The failure to match available supply with the growth in demand?”

        You have stated repeatedly that it is only the city’s responsibility to match available supply with growth. I believe that this is too limited a view and that there are probably a number of ways that this could be addressed if only one were not wedded to only one way of viewing the issue.

        then I have failed in my word choice, accept the criticism, and apologize.”

        Fair enough. I think the Vanguard would benefit greatly if all of us would address the ideas being expressed without impugning ( or even assuming that we know the motivations of others). I also will try to keep my comments idea based.

        1. Mark West

          The problem with not keeping the available supply on pace with demand growth is that you create new problems due to the artificial shortage that is created. Our imposed 1% growth rate may seem like a great idea to slow the pace of growth, but all we really did was force the expanding population to find solutions within the existing crowded space. Not a problem to those who already have appropriate housing, but a big problem for those who don’t.

          It is this attitude of favoring those residents who already have appropriate housing (perhaps more than they individually need) over those who are still struggling with the issue that I find to be abhorrent (and frankly selfish on the part of the ‘haves’).

    2. John Hobbs

      ” if the university were not present,”

      Davisville would be a dusty fuel stop on the way to San Francisco and very few would find it a desirable place to live.

  7. Colin Walsh

    I firmly believe wanting the University to build more student housing is pro-student.

    My point of view is informed by a lifetime of experiences in Davis. I grew up across the street from student rentals. I grew up around the block from large predominantly student apartment complexes and a fraternity. I was a Student and lived in UC Davis Student housing and in rental housing in Davis. I have also attended other schools and lived on other campus, campuses that house a far larger percentage of students than does UC Davis. I think having students in Davis is part of what makes the town great.

    As the son of University faculty and employees and as a former UCD student myself I am also pro-university.

    It is from this perspective that I believe the University is doing students a disservice by expanding enrollment rapidly without providing proper facilities for them. Housing is one part of that. As the University has grown, the distance students have to travel has increased and prices have rissen.

    The best places to house students, that are slated for redevelopment currently, are on Campus or in the Oxford Circle neighborhood. Once the University builds on these sites, those buildings will likely stand for 50 years – like the buildings they are replacing did. The University needs to plan ahead now with an eye to this future, and the housing they build needs to be at a density that will sustain campus growth in the longer term.

    Yes the University has under-delivered in the past, but because I believe in the University, and because I have seen other Universities succeed, I believe the University can do better. In fact, UC Davis is currently an outlier among the UCs for its housing underachievement. If UC Davis puts their mind to this, they can become the best university for providing housing in California. They have the land and the resources. On campus housing at UC Davis is already considered some of the most desirable in town at least according to the students who voted the Colleges at La Rue  “Best Place to Live” in Davis three years in a row.

     

    1. Howard P

      To be clear Colin… UCD did not ‘develop’ the housing they own/owned on Oxford Circle/Wake Forest… over the years they bought properties long developed and owned by others… all of which are now property tax exempt.

    2. Matt Williams

      Colin, I don’t think you can find anyone who doesn’t want the University to build more student housing.   All the people Ron has labeled as “the usual suspects” have explicitly stated (on multiple occasions each) that they want the University to build more housing.  In today’s article David explicitly repeats the statement he has made many times before, “As I have stated many times, I support the 100/50 proposal.”

      David goes on to clearly explain where the anti-student message creeps in when he says, “That is why it concerns me when I hear blanket comments that suggest that the best place for student housing is on campus.  I believe that the campus must provide more student housing, but at the same time I am supportive of students living in our community and believe that to be an asset.”

      I agree with both the assessment and the criteria you include in your sixth and final paragraph, but within the inclusive context of a “both/and” solution rather than the exclusive context of an “either/or” solution.

      1. Tia Will

        Actually Matt, I am not sure that you are correct that “no one doesn’t want the university to build more housing. I do not want to speak for him, so please correct me if I am wrong Mark. I believe that Mark has expressed the opinion on multiple occasions that it is not the responsibility of the university to provide housing, but that this is solely a function of the city.

        1. Howard P

          Tia… I believe you miss a nuance of what Mark and I have posted… housing is not an OBLIGATION, nor part of the core mission of UC, nor is it the sole obligation of the City… it is a shared responsibility…

          And, in the event that for one reason or another, one ‘partner’ can’t fulfill, then it’s ok for the other to pick up the slack, to achieve the goal. The goal spills over into providing housing for non-UCD students, workers, etc.

          Mark, if I misrepresent your view, feel absolutely free to correct…

          I actually favor on-campus housing for students… ‘transients’ who intend to live here for 4-5 years, should not be voting on measures that impact long-term folk for 8-10-20-30 years such as taxes… UCD should not be ‘annexed’, in my view, for precisely that reason…

        2. Matt Williams

          Tia, I don’t think Mark has ever said that 100% of UCD’s students must be housed in the city.  He has recognized that this isn’t an either/or situation, but rather a both/and situation, with housing for students both on campus and off campus.  What he has been explicit about (vis-a-vis responsibility) is that if the University does not discharge its end of  the both/and equation, the City has an obligation to its residents and taxpayers to deal with the negative consequences that are being experienced within the City’s jurisdictional boundaries.

          Mark has also been explicit that housing students on campus does not relieve the City of expenses associated with providing City services to those on campus residents when they visit the City … and that the City receives no revenue from taxes or the University for providing those services.

        3. Mark West

          Howard and Matt have expressed my views reasonably accurately. Housing is a primary responsibility of cities, perhaps the only reason they exist, but only a secondary or tertiary responsibility of Universities, research and education being their prime focus. If the host city is meeting its obligation to provide housing there would be little reason or value of housing students on campus beyond their first year. I see value in first-year students staying on campus as it gives them an opportunity to adjust to campus life without worrying about finding an appropriate place to stay. That said, 100% of those students who wish to should have a reasonable opportunity of finding appropriate housing in town. A 5% vacancy rate in town would allow for that.

          The second issue is as Matt points out, that housing on campus puts an added strain on services in the City, adding to the costs of City operations without increasing revenues to compensate. As a consequence, housing on campus creates a fiscal drain on the City (that in our case is already fiscally underwater) and increases costs for all residents. This is especially true with faculty, staff, and graduate student housing due to the greater frequency of families with children.  That is why I think it is fiscally inappropriate for the City Council to be advocating for more housing on campus. What they should be asking for instead is for the University to vacate our commercial properties and return those functions to campus buildings, or barring that, to pay the City for the lost property taxes from those commercial spaces.

          Finally, I believe that students are equal to every other resident in town and should not be treated as second-class citizens that are segregated into ‘separate but unequal’ housing on campus. I encourage students to live in town and become full members of our community, including voting in local elections if they so desire. When I was an undergraduate I chose to maintain my voter registration in my hometown for the first few years, which I assume many now do as well. As an upperclassman and graduate student, I became more involved in the local community and changed my registration accordingly.

          In any event, we should not be placing the wants of the ‘landed gentry’ ahead of the needs of all other residents (including students) by virtue of their relative intransigence.

        4. Roberta Millstein

          Mark West wrote:

          If the host city is meeting its obligation to provide housing there would be little reason or value of housing students on campus beyond their first year.

          As a professor, I could not disagree with this more strongly.  There are many advantages to students being on campus.  It allows them to be much more integrated in the life of the campus – going to talks, being part of clubs, participating in all of the various activities occurring on campus, not to mention making it easier for them to go to classes or office hours.  They can “just run back and get” that thing they forgot.  (Happens all the time).  Even though Davis is not a big town, being off campus makes all of these things just a little bit harder and so a little less likely to happen.

          Plus dealing with landlords and leases is an extra burden on students.  It is time-consuming and stressful.  How do I know this?  Because they tell me.  I hear their stories.  They are not good stories.

          Of course, not all may choose to live on campus.  That’s fine.  But we should have reasonably priced and well run places to live on campus for all of those who do, and yes, it is the campus’s responsibility to provide and promote these in order to promote the best opportunities for their students to learn and experience everything that campus life has to offer.

        5. Mark West

          I don’t disagree with your points about convenience, Roberta, but I also don’t see them as adding up to any sort of ‘obligation’ on the part of the University or taxpayers. Using Tia’s vernacular, they are all ‘nice to have’ aspects of student life, not needs.

          As to your point about landlords, it is the absurdly low vacancy rate in the town that puts all the power in the hands of landlords, thus creating the stressful environment that creates your students’ ‘not good’ stories. Fix the vacancy rate and the power balance swings back towards the renters.

          While I have no issue with students choosing to live on campus, the only way that their on-campus housing will be cheaper than what is available in town is if it is subsidized by taxpayers. I see no more reason to subsidize the cost of on-campus housing than I do to subsidize the cost of services provided by the City to those students living on campus.

        6. Roberta Millstein

          I don’t disagree with your points about convenience, Roberta, but I also don’t see them as adding up to any sort of ‘obligation’ on the part of the University or taxpayers.

          You don’t see the university as obligated to provide the means for students to best take advantage of everything that the university has to offer, including both traditional academic work and all of the other learning and experiential activities?  Well, we’re going to have to agree to disagree on that.  Universities like UCD claim to strive for excellence.  This is how one strives for excellence, by providing the best opportunities possible for students to engage.

          As to your point about landlords, it is the absurdly low vacancy rate in the town that puts all the power in the hands of landlords, thus creating the stressful environment that creates your students’ ‘not good’ stories. 

          When I was an undergrad, I lived all four years on campus.  I then spent the next 21 years of my life renting from various landlords in various U.S. states under various situations.  I can say unequivocally that it is more stressful and time consuming to deal with landlord situations than it was to live on campus (not to mention the bills, neighbors, etc. that one also has to deal with).  Living on campus makes life a lot easier and allows students to focus on what they are really there to do: learn.

  8. Roberta Millstein

    Just to interject some comments into a discussion I’ve not participated in…

    Ron said,

    I did not say that Robb’s department directly recruited students.  You and others have.  Robb’s department is the “beneficiary” of UC’s pursuit of International students.  It is a growing department, as a result.

    Ron, I’m sorry, but this just doesn’t make any sense.  Pretty much every department (my department included) and the university as a whole has benefitted from the UC’s pursuit of international students, if for no other reason than it has brought in more money and more people to fill classes, etc.  (There are other pros and cons which are beside the point at hand and which I won’t get into here).  So, I think your comments about Robb’s COI miss the mark and end up serving as a distraction from the points you are trying to make.  I offer this kindly, by way of advice, knowing that you and I have agreed on a number of issues.

    Having said that, I do agree with Ron that he has been attacked here and in very unproductive ways that make the discussion offputting for others to participate in.  For example, Matt’s comment that “Once again Ron wouldn’t know the truth if it hit him in the face.”  And look how much of this page is devoted to discussing Ron rather than the issue at hand.  So, might I suggest to the Vanguard (again, kindly, as a resource I support and value) that it simply delete comments from Ron that it considers inappropriate accusations (like those against Robb), and might I suggest to other commenters that they focus on the arguments rather than the persons engaging in them.  It is easy to let oneself get drawn into heated discussions, and we’ve all been there (myself included), but it’s worth it to take a second to think before clicking the “post comment” button.

  9. Todd Edelman

    My understanding is that on Friday, April 14 there was a selection of the external firm which will carry forward the City’s new Core Area Specific Plan. There is a huge amount of useful information available in the Vanguard archive which will help them… or have they are researched this space fully? Anyway, if they’re interested he would be great if they could somehow get the articles scrubbed of discussions about how things are discussed.

    My hope is that Sterling – if approved – is the very last compromised academic emergency shelter built in the City. I hope that what we’ve learned here at this Battle of the Bulge can speed us more quickly towards Berlin, for example by dealing with Lincoln 40 in an, um, Honest Abe sort of way. Extreme Cliff’s Notes version: “President Abraham Collective Will of Davis Finally Forming Consensus to Not Eat Its Cake and Eat it, Too Lincoln issued its soon-to-be famous ‘Emancipation Proclamation’ which freed, forever and an extra eternity, the City of Davis from providing a minimum number of beds for cars instead of parking spaces to sleep in.”

    Sacramento Bee, in the not-too-distance future: “Decrease of housing stress thought to be main reason why UC Davis reaches top ranking for the first time in multiple fields of study.”

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