UC Davis Announces Plans to Go to 8500 New Beds

Since a May 2016 announcement, UC Davis has not budged off the promise of providing 6200 new beds, housing 40 percent of all students on campus.  When pushed by the community last year, UC Davis said they would look into the possibility of going above the promised number, but unless they included a new number in the EIR it was hard to see how they would go much above the 6200 figure.

However, on Tuesday, Chancellor Gary May announced plans to go with 8500 new beds.  By our calculation that does not get the campus to the 10,000 new bed mark – which would have taken them to 50 percent as requested by the Vanguard and the Davis City Council – but it does get them to about 45.9 percent, or a compromise figure that splits the difference.

“We are raising our goal for new on-campus student housing in the Long Range Development Plan from 6,200 to 8,500 beds,” said Chancellor Gary May. “We recognize the importance of affordable housing and are striving to make new options as affordable as possible through increased density, efficient design and a variety of unit types.”

He noted, “In my first months as chancellor, I have identified housing and transportation as key challenges for UC Davis. I am particularly concerned with making sure our students have access to housing so they can focus on their studies.”

Plans for Orchard Park include 500 extra beds over what was originally in the request for proposals, 900.  And new housing at West Village will include 3800 beds, 2000 more than had been requested.

Chancellor May writes, “This housing plan significantly exceeds our planned enrollment growth and could provide many options for future students to live on campus with close access to our academic resources.

“I want to be very clear that many factors, not all of which can be anticipated, avoided or mitigated, could affect housing developments — from economic factors to policies at the state and federal levels. Much can happen, and many challenges remain, as we strive to implement these initial projects and anticipate future projects through 2030,” the chancellor warned.

The chancellor announced the expectation that the EIR for the LRDP (Long Range Development Plan) will be available for public comment in March and will go to the UC Regents for approval in July.

“Through implementation of the LRDP, we will continue to explore options for even greater density and building heights,” he said.

The chancellor also spoke to the issue of Nishi.  He writes, “I am excited about the potential development of housing on the Nishi site adjacent to campus. We are working with city staff to understand the details of the revised proposal.”

Importantly, he committed to working with the developers on an agreement for direct access to the campus.

The chancellor also said that he was encouraged by the City Council’s recent approval of housing developments in Davis.  Said Gary May, “While we are planning the most ambitious student housing construction campaign in campus history, housing market changes cannot be resolved by UC Davis alone.”

He said, “Providing a greater abundance and diversity of housing should help ease some pressure on the Davis housing market.”

The city of Davis has projected a goal of having up to a five percent vacancy rate, which they consider far more healthy for students and renters than the current 0.2 percent vacancy.

So right now – before additional campus growth – the city has a 0.2 percent vacancy rate which means, at any given time, of the 9969 units that were surveyed in the report (accounting for 83 percent of all multifamily housing stock) there are less than 30 units available to rent.

With the university now pledging 8500 beds and another 5000 to 6000 beds in the pipeline in the city, the city and campus could be looking at between 13,000 and 14,000 new beds on the market in a relatively short period of time – with the approved development of Sterling Apartments, Lincoln40 (which is going to the planning commission this evening), Plaza 2555, and the proposed Nishi project which could go to the council by February 6.

The chancellor added, “We want to continue to work cooperatively with the Davis community, City Council and other local communities to encourage smart and responsible development drawing on the careful and innovative history of planning in the city of Davis.”

—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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28 thoughts on “UC Davis Announces Plans to Go to 8500 New Beds”

  1. Roberta Millstein

    I am very glad to see this and hold out hope that if they “continue to explore options for even greater density and building heights” as promised, even more on-campus units will be built.

  2. Ron

    From article:  “However, on Tuesday, Chancellor Gary May announced plans to go with 8500 new beds.”

    Very good news, overall.  Sure, it would be better if UCD committed to housing 50% of students on-campus, and helped contribute to off-campus impacts (as UC Santa Cruz is doing).  However, this announcement is certainly noteworthy and significant.

    I think we all know who to really thank for this commitment.  A person who has worked tirelessly to increase housing on-campus, so that space within the city is not totally sacrificed to accommodate UCD’s plans.  Someone who “stuck to it” in the face of naysayers, who repeatedly stated that such efforts “wouldn’t make any difference”.  (The only citizen who has actually created a net positive regarding the amount of student housing – while simultaneously and ironically being accused of blocking student housing.)

    Of course, we all know who I’m referring to.  Of course – it’s our own Don Shor!  Just kidding.  (Don, let me know if you need help with that apology.)  🙂

      1. Ron

        Without citizen effort (primarily led by one person), it seems unlikely that the council, the supervisors, the Associated Students group, the local chapter of the Sierra Club, Yolo Progressives, and ultimately UCD itself would have done anything. (At least, I think those are the groups that all created some type of resolution regarding housing on-campus – subject to correction/clarification.)

        Can’t say that the Vanguard helped.

  3. Don Shor

    This is obviously good news, as it means more beds eventually than they had originally planned. It appears the Chancellor pretty much split the difference between the 90/40 original plan and the 100/50 requested by the city, leaving UCD at providing housing for about 46% of total enrollment.  At build-out, UCD would be providing about 17,900 beds (existing plus planned) for a campus population of 39,000.

    If the private projects proposed in town are approved, it is possible that the apartment vacancy rate could begin to improve. If they are not, and if UCD builds at just the pace of enrollment, the situation will not get better. The announcement of cooperation on Nishi is especially welcome as that project stands to provide the greatest number of beds in close proximity to campus.

    A key question is the pace of housing increase. City staff should try to get a timeline of construction from the administration. West Village has not come on line at the pace originally proposed, for various reasons. I note that the chancellor’s comment includes this:

    Much can happen, and many challenges remain, as we strive to implement these initial projects and anticipate future projects through 2030.

    The council should urge the campus to front-load the construction of as many units as possible. That may require approval from the office of the UC president and city officials should be prepared to provide support for any initiatives by the chancellor toward that end. That means a collaborative relationship is in the best interests of the city and the university, not an adversarial one.
    We now have the firm numbers we’ve been waiting for. There is no longer any reason to delay approval of private housing projects in town that will help deal with the current urgent housing problem renters face here.

    1. Ron

      Don:  “That means a collaborative relationship is in the best interests of the city and the university, not an adversarial one.”

      Maybe.  Below is an example of an “adversarial” action, which significantly benefited Santa Cruz and the agreements involving its adjacent UC.

      http://lrdp.ucsc.edu/settlement-summary.shtml

      So far, you haven’t provided very good “advice”, regarding how to resolve the problems that UCD is creating for the city.  (See my earlier comment, above.) Regardless, you’re already pointing out the pitfalls of relying upon UCD’s commitment to follow-through (which has been an issue in the past, as well).

      Still waiting for that apology.

      By the way, didn’t David recently point out that UC San Luis Obispo is committed to housing 65% of students on-campus?

    2. Roberta Millstein

      Don: “We now have the firm numbers we’ve been waiting for.”

      You had said that the previous numbers were firm.  Now, again, we have the Chancellor saying that they will  “continue to explore options for even greater density and building heights.”  So we can continue to press for larger numbers, and perhaps something can be worked out.

      1. David Greenwald

        I reported I believe in November that there would be an announcement with increased numbers in January.  But the EIR is coming out fairly soon, which will lock those numbers in.

        1. Roberta Millstein

          Yes, you did report that — my comment was to Don, not to you, David, about his repeated comments that the University had already given us their answer.

          So, are you saying that the Chancellor’s comment that they will “continue to explore options for even greater density and building heights” is a promise that cannot be fulfilled?

        2. David Greenwald

          I think it’s the same language they’ve been using for some time that they will try to up the density.  But if they were going to go higher than this, now was the time with the EIR coming up.

        3. Roberta Millstein

          I think it’s the same language they’ve been using for some time that they will try to up the density.

          Exactly.  It’s the same language (or at least similar language), and they have figured out how to do it once.  Perhaps they will figure out how to do it again.  It wasn’t an empty promise the first time and so there is no reason to think it’s an empty promise the second time.

        4. David Greenwald

          While you are accurate, time is a factor here.  They arrived at 620 beds in May 2016.  It’s now 20 months later.  EIR is coming out in April.  And there is the factor that this was the product of work behind the scenes by the council subcommittee.  Given all of that, I think this is likely the final number.

        5. Roberta Millstein

          And it will be if that is the general attitude, just as this change would not have happened if everyone had had that attitude.  Again, I take the Chancellor’s words at face value.  If there is a way to make this work, let’s work towards it.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            You can take the words at face value and still evaluate how it fits within the time factor.

  4. Ron

    Don:  “The announcement of cooperation on Nishi is especially welcome as that project stands to provide the greatest number of beds in close proximity to campus.”

    Given the chancellor’s interest in Nishi, perhaps he could explore opportunities to deal directly with the developer (and not involve the city). (Unless, of course, UCD is perhaps interested in helping to offset the long-term costs to the city resulting from annexation/development.)

    1. Ron

      Of course, this also assumes that the chancellor is disregarding concerns and recommendations from an air quality expert who works within the chancellor’s organization.

  5. Ron

    The Nishi financial analysis (from one of the finance and budget commission members) shows a net deficit to the city in the amount of $11,157,205 at year 15. 

    http://documents.cityofdavis.org/Media/Default/Documents/PDF/CityCouncil/Finance-And-Budget-Commission/Agendas/20180108/Item-7Ai-Salomon-Revised-Nishi-Model-(1-3-18).pdf 

    I understand that the commissioner made some tentative adjustments to the city staff analysis, which showed a surplus of $114,474 at year 15.) 

    Quite a “discrepancy” between these two analyses, to say the least. 

    1. Ron

      Sorry – looking at incorrect row, on the staff analysis.  That one shows a cumulative surplus of $1,589,272.  (Again, the analysis from the commissioner showed a deficit of ($11,157,205).

      The difference between these analyses is even greater than what I initially noted.

       

  6. Don Shor

    The master leases continue to be a problem that the council and mayor need to address. I urge them to press UC to phase out master leasing, perhaps with an exception for Nishi when those units come on line.

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