My View: We Talk about Town-Gown, but then the Rhetoric Flies

Every year it seems that our city council talks about a goal of improving its relations with UC Davis.  We see it both in statements from the dais as well as comments from the campaign trail.  While we say that – and there clearly are benefits to a better relationship with the university – it has become increasingly clear that such better relations may be beyond our reasonable grasp in the foreseeable future.

UC Davis is not only the biggest employer in this community, but in the region.  It is a more than $7 billion a year economic engine.  And UC Davis has as much if not more growth potential as any of its UC sister campuses.  Many believe that UC Davis is poised to be a power in the coming century.  And it seems likely they view the petty politics of its host community as an annoyance to be avoided, perhaps at all costs.

To be honest, some of the rhetoric coming out of sectors of this community make me cringe.  Not only is there an anti-UC Davis student sentiment running through the community – odd since so many in this community are graduates of the university – but there is in fact an anti-UC Davis itself sentiment that pervades our discussions.

Look no further than recent discussions of student housing and the Long Range Development Plan (LRDP).

There is of course a measure of blame that UC Davis has about providing housing on campus to accommodate student growth.  But the rhetoric is not one likely to build community and partnership.

Eileen Samitz in her op-ed from 2015 writes, “UCD was to provide on-campus housing for 38 to 40 percent of its students by 2012, but UCD failed to meet these targets.”  She adds, “UCD’s failure to provide this housing commensurate with its growth has caused years of competition between students and workforce families for rental housing in the city, and the emergence of neighborhood ‘mini-dorms.’”

She continues: “UCD exacerbated the situation by closing the Orchard Park student family apartments on campus more than two years ago, and West Village student housing remains unfinished.”

She continues more: “As a consequence of UCD’s negligence, ‘mega-dorm’ projects that should be located on campus are being proposed in the city…”

Still further, “UCD’s failure to provide sufficient on-campus housing for its own growth is creating community division as neighborhoods fight these enormous, out-of-scale projects over the impacts they would cause.”

Bear in mind that this sentiment exists far beyond the rhetoric of folks who are opposed to more housing in the community.  The recent city council attempted to toe the line between action on their part in the form of approval of thousands of student housing beds, and pushing back at the university to do more both in terms of housing allotments on campus as well as mitigation in the community.

In their letter to the university, Mitigation Measure #5 reads: “The University will enter into an agreement with the City to compensate for the direct and indirect impacts of students on city infrastructure and services…”

Even some of the more reasonable voices running for council see the need to push back against UC Davis’ growth policies.  For example, Dan Carson, who was seated on the council this week, said during the campaign, “We need to create an effective two-way working relationship between the city of Davis and the UC Davis campus if we’re going to solve this problem – particularly the housing problem.”

But then he added, “We can follow the model of Berkeley and Santa Cruz, that I’ve educated my commission and the city council about.  They’ve created great two-way working relationships where folks on both sides work together.  At the city of Berkeley, for example, they get about a $2 million annual revenue stream from the UC Berkeley campus, to help mitigate the impacts of growth.  I think we can insist upon and work for – in a collaborative way – similar kinds of agreements with this campus.”

But that’s not exactly true.  As we saw in this last election, the relationship between Santa Cruz and their university is anything but a great two-way working relationship, as the community sued them and then passed an advisory measure this year to prevent further enrollment growth.

When the council candidates were asked about university housing, the majority of candidates wanted some sort of pressure and process in place.  Some argued for a “binding agreement.”  Others suggested the city “civilly pressure the university” and establish dialogue.  A couple of candidates even suggested a last resort of a lawsuit.

The problem that we have is that all of this rhetoric comes at a very steep cost.  Yes, I understand that UC Davis enrollment growth creates growth pressures on this community, but it also creates huge opportunities that this community would not otherwise have without a university.

This community has a love-hate relationship with its university – which I find odd, given how central the university is to this community, the large number of people employed, the large number of people educated by the university, and the impact that the presence of the university has on the community.

The problem is that this community is difficult to work with.  We had great opportunities in 2014 to be on the forefront of the economic development wave, but we could not get out of our own way.  The world class economic development, development company Hines had a considerable investment in Davis, and ended up leaving with the local developers heading up the road into the open arms of Woodland, where they got a larger project that is already approved.

UC Davis did not even bother wasting its time or resources in the community on Aggie Square.  They went straight to Sacramento, where they found a powerful and willing partner in Mayor Steinberg, a receptive city council and a community that was not going to fight them.  Why would they even attempt to do a partnership of this sort in Davis, when it is so easy to go to the larger market?

We can say, well, we don’t really need to have multi-billion dollar industries like the medical center and Aggie Square in our community, but the fact is, this is a community starving for revenue and we have managed to chase away big revenue providers.

We have managed to push the university to put more housing on their campus than they ever intended.  But I would argue that that “success” comes at a cost.  It reinforces the perception from UC Davis that they simply do not want to work with the community unless they have to.  To provide student housing and go through the LRDP process, they have to engage the community.  But beyond that, all of the next major endeavors figure to be putting more in the way of resources into Sacramento and fewer into Davis.

These interactions and these harsh words come at a cost.  We cannot say on the one hand that we want better relationships with the campus, and then demand mitigation for student enrollment increases and threaten to sue unless there is some kind of agreement for compensation for that enrollment growth.

The door doesn’t go both ways.

Some suggest the alternative is to allow the campus to push us around  Not necessarily.  But I do think we have to weigh the down-the-road impacts of taking a more combative stance on growth, which UC Davis sees as vital to its strategies for the next century.

One question I would ask is whether having an agreement with UC Davis like Santa Cruz and Berkeley have is more advantageous than fostering a better relationship, so that the next time UC Davis is looking to develop its economic development and technology transfer, it looks inward first?  Or to put it another way, would we benefit more from having Aggie Square in Davis or a settlement agreement with the university?

The fact is that the relationship is poisoned far beyond what I think most people really understand.  UC Davis largely stayed out of the Nishi discussions in 2016 and 2018, not necessarily because they opposed the projects, but more because they did not want to get in the middle of an internal cat fight that would cover them in more negative press.

Can this relationship be restored?  Perhaps over time.  But that would require a lot and not just on the part of the official city government.

—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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46 thoughts on “My View: We Talk about Town-Gown, but then the Rhetoric Flies”

  1. Tia Will

    an anti-UC Davis student sentiment running through the community – odd since so many in this community are graduates of the university”

    I agree that there is anti UCD sentiment based mostly on their past failure to meet on campus housing agreements. I honestly do not see an “anti student” sentiment beyond frustration over those who do not follow biking rules & loud/drunken partying. Can you clarify what you see as being “anti student” sentiment?

     

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      It’s a fair question. I’m going to partially cop out and state to treat it fairly it needs its own column. I would also suggest talking to students and how they feel about their treatment in the community. For me it’s there were specific objections to creating student oriented housing even though it was clear that student housing needs were by the far the largest need in the community and creating more flexible housing, while fine, was still going to result in heavily student housing projects. The fact that these were disparaged as mega-dorms when they were attempting to efficiently deal with a huge problem admitted to my belief and those of students that this was not simply frustration at the university, there was an undercurrent that did not want students to live in the community.

      1. Howard P

        I suspect very few students follow the ‘mega-dorm’, ‘student oriented housing’…  I suspect the vast majority of the students don’t even think much of themselves as a “class” (pun unintended)…

        For most students, in the 18-22 age group, they are thinking mostly of themselves (not meant  pejoratively)… focusing on oneself and one’s own goals, tasks and needs is appropriate…

        1. Ken A

          Just like a guy that works at a church or synagogue will meet a lot of religious students and might think that “most” students are religious when in reality “very few” are. David meets a lot of kids that care about student housing when in reality “very few” (as Howard says) think about it al all.  If David were to ask 100 wealthy Asian students driving expensive German and Italian cars or 100 white fraternity guys playing beer pong about student housing in town I’m betting that not a single one could name a single proposed student housing project (or tell him what  “megadorm” is)…

        2. Keith O

          I agree with Ken here, sure the circles that David has connections to will agree with him but overall they don’t represent the student body as a whole.

        3. David Greenwald

          I do find it interesting Ken’s assumptions about what students I meet and in what context. Seriously how do you know what interactions I have with students and who they are?

      2. Tia Will

        I would also suggest talking to students and how they feel about their treatment in the community.”

        Interesting you should bring that up because during the most recent campaign, I had more opportunity to talk with students while tabling than at any time since I was a student. The impression I got was that while virtually everyone agreed the housing situation was bad, I got no sense that anyone felt they were personally disparaged or looked down upon for being a student.

        I would be interested in an article presenting the views from a wide variety of our residents about how they view the students compared with how the students view their treatment here. Maybe the Vanguard could run an online survey and see what comes in.

        1. Howard P

          I would be interested in an article presenting the views from a wide variety of our residents about how they view the students compared with how the students view their treatment .here Maybe the Vanguard could run an online survey and see what comes in.

          Fully agree with the concept… not sure (actually, very, very far from sure) that a VG poll/survey would accomplish that with any validity… but, a damn good question… don’t know who would do/underwrite a statistically valid survey, but yes, would be good info…

  2. Tia Will

    Bear in mind that this sentiment exists far beyond the rhetoric…”You characterize Eileen’s statements as rhetoric, but do not state which of the statements you have quoted is factually false. Yes, Eileen can express her opinions in hyperbole and dogmatic assertion. That does not mean her points are inaccurate.

    The problem is that this community is difficult to work with.”
    As has been UCD. I do not consider any entity that does not fulfill its promises as “easy to work with”. Would you find it easy to work with a vendor that had ignored previous promises and not delivered goods agreed upon? 

    Overall, I think you make a number of valid points. However, I also believe you are far too accepting of the egregious behaviors of the University in breaking agreements and far too harsh on members of our community who while recognizing the importance of UCD do not feel that the City of Davis should be nothing more than a stepping stone for the ambitions of the University.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      “You characterize Eileen’s statements as rhetoric, but do not state which of the statements you have quoted is factually false. Yes, Eileen can express her opinions in hyperbole and dogmatic assertion. That does not mean her points are inaccurate.”

      I’m glad you raise this point – because it’s a critical point that I’m making here – the rhetoric is damaging because it is expressed in hyperbolic and dogmatic terms.

      As has been UCD. I do not consider any entity that does not fulfill its promises as “easy to work with”. Would you find it easy to work with a vendor that had ignored previous promises and not delivered goods agreed upon? ”

      The question that this community needs to ask is what do we want.  Do we want to go tit for tat against UC Davis, have them put their money and resources into Sacramento and elsewhere or do we want to attempt to repair our relations and move forward amicably in areas of mutual interest in the future?  If we want the first, then fine, raise these issues, attack them, sue them, force them to give us money, but don’t be surprised if they become more and more like UC Sacramento rather than UC Davis.  Or we can understand that UCD makes some mistakes, but they provide great benefit to the community overall and continue be a valuable asset in the future as we attempt to utilize revenue streams and push towards economic development and so we figure out ways to work with them and attempt to figure out where the win-win’s are.

      “However, I also believe you are far too accepting of the egregious behaviors of the University in breaking agreements and far too harsh on members of our community who while recognizing the importance of UCD do not feel that the City of Davis should be nothing more than a stepping stone for the ambitions of the University.”

      One thing I have learned in conflict resolution is that sometimes you hav to be the bigger person and overlook transgressions by the other side in order to move forward in a mutually advantageous way.  Again, we do have a choice, but this is never going to be an equal partnership and we have to recognize that.

      1. Mark West

        “I also believe you are far too accepting of the egregious behaviors of the University…[emphasis added]”

        A prime example of the anti-UCD rhetoric that David is talking about.

         

      2. Jeff M

        I’m glad you raise this point – because it’s a critical point that I’m making here – the rhetoric is damaging because it is expressed in hyperbolic and dogmatic terms.

        I am going to call you out a bit on this point David.  I don’t see you nor any with your political leanings calling out this type of behavior in general when it supports your views.  Just look at the leaders of the national Democrat party.  Provocative, fear-ginning, extreme rhetoric has become the shtick.   Claiming that Nishi #1 would put people in a toxic cloud of baby-killing gas, and that the developers would kill Murder Burger are down the line from the new accepted standards in political discourse.

        It seems to me if you truly desire honesty, civility and decorum in political debate that you would need to become consistent in demanding it from all.   Otherwise I don’t see you as having the needed credibility to scold others for using pages of that same playbook.

        1. David Greenwald

          I am probably increasingly concerned about the state of our political discourse locally and nationally, but the comment here was specific to dealing with the university.

        2. Jeff M

          I am probably increasingly concerned about the state of our political discourse locally and nationally, but the comment here was specific to dealing with the university.

          Ready to speak out against civil disobedience, incivility and lack of decorum?

          I believe the national political discourse is a symptom of a bigger societal problem that affects local political discourse.  And I would take if further to say if affects the family political discourse.  I blame the media mostly… of which you are a part of.

          Frankly, the mainstream media is lazy and milks political, social, group, individual conflict for easy sensationalist reporting that sells because people are insecure emotional freaks that can be made to feel better noting the downfall of others.

          Maxine Waters calls for attacks on Trump supporters and there is little media outrage about it (oh, that is just Maxine).

  3. Tia Will

    the rhetoric is damaging because it is expressed in hyperbolic and dogmatic terms.”

    Funny, I seem to remember making this very point to you repeatedly over your recurring use of the word “crisis” over a > 5 year period of time.

    1. Ken A

      Did I miss where UCD made a specific “promise” (or was in breach of a signed contract) or did they just not hit a goal?

      Tia is correct that it is a big deal when in a marriage or business partnership you break a “promise” (or are in breach of contract) but it is not as big a deal when you come up short of a “goal”.

      UCD has added a lot of units (and has a clear site ready to build more where Orchard Park once was) It seems like they are like a husband that took his wife out to dinner a lot but didn’t hit his “goal” of twice a month or a business partner that wanted to get 12 new clients but only got 7.

       

      1. Tia Will

        Ken

        Your point is taken. However, I grew up in a time when as my Dad would have put it, “a man’s name is only as good as his word”. I believe in agreements just as I believe in contracts. If I say I am going to be at a meeting at a certain time, I am either there or have a good reason and give notice of why I cannot keep it. Maybe that is old fashioned, but it is me.

         

        1. Howard P

          The City and UCD are neither “married”, nor in a common business.  The “man’s name is only as good as his word”… analogy fails, several levels… first is UCD is not “a man”… they also cannot make commitments that UC has not bought into…

  4. Tia Will

    I stand by my point that breaking promises is egregious behavior whether in a marriage, a business partnership, a contractual relationship of any type, or in a looser association such as agreements between a community and adjacent university.

    1. Mark West

      Housing is the responsibility of Cities and Counties, with individual University campuses getting involved only when their host communities fail to meet their obligation to provide housing opportunity for all residents (including students, staff, and faculty). Any ‘egregious behavior’ around housing in Davis has entirely been on the part of our community. Your rhetoric is factually incorrect and when combined with the comments of other similarly ‘informed’ activists, is harmful to the relationship between the City and the University. The Town/Gown conflict in Davis is entirely a product of the actions and imaginations of the ‘anti-‘ activists and their pandering politicians.

       

      1. Tia Will

        Housing is the responsibility of Cities and Counties”

        This sounds far too much to me like “That is not in my job description.” Kaiser changed this mentality years ago by realizing that good service entails every individual doing the best they can to address a patient’s concern, not just brush it off. The answer might be, I personally can’t help you but will make contact with the individual who can and I will get back to you. It is never, I can’t help you…period.

        I see meeting the needs of our entire population in much the same way. It is the responsibility of cities and counties to provide housing. It is the responsibility of the university to help in any way feasible with that effort. If they have said they will help, then they should fulfill their agreement.

        1. Mark West

           “It is the responsibility of the university to help”

          Any responsibility the University may have is to help its students and that help will only be required when the host community fails to meet its housing obligations. The problem here has been entirely created by our community’s failure to live up to our promise to provide a housing opportunity for all residents. Our failure to meet our obligations has created the situation where the University now needs to act. If they fall short of their goals (as you like to trumpet) it is only an issue because of our previous failure.

          In short, we created the problem and now you are complaining because the University didn’t fix it for us.

          1. Don Shor

            In my opinion, much of our present housing situation goes back to the chancellor’s 2020 Initiative which increased enrollment without increasing housing supply. That made a bad situation worse. It is everybody’s fault that no planning was initiated at that time to deal with the added student and staff housing demand. The outgoing council should get credit for dealing with some of it by approving new housing in town.

        2. Mark West

          “In my opinion, much of our present housing situation goes back to the chancellor’s 2020 Initiative…”

          The University of California has an obligation to meet the educational needs of a prescribed percentage of the graduating high school seniors in the State. As the population of the State expands, so must the enrollment at the University.

          The City of Davis has an obligation to meet the housing needs of its residents. As the population of the State expands, so does the population of our region, and with it, so does our obligation to create the housing to address the needs of that local expanding population.

          The 2020 Initiative was created to address the University’s obligation to increase enrollment in concert with the population growth of the State. It did not create our housing shortage as that already existed due to our previous (and ongoing) failure to address the housing needs of our residents. The housing situation evolves over time, but the shortage of housing, especially student housing, has been an issue in Davis since at least the 1950’s.

           

          1. Don Shor

            crease enrollment in concert with the population growth of the State. It did not create our housing shortage as that already existed due to our previous (and ongoing) failure to address the housing needs of our residents. The housing situation evolves over time, but the shortage of housing, especially student housing, has been an issue in Davis since at least the 1950’s.

            Yes, as I said, it made a bad situation worse. I also don’t think Chancellor Katehi’s initiative was primarily intended to “address the … obligation to increase enrollment in concert with the population growth of the State.” It was intended to make UCD fiscally solvent in response to the state’s failure to increase the UC budget during the recession. Her initiative was excellent planning from UCD’s perspective, but failed to address in any meaningful way the housing problem that it exacerbated. That problem existed in part because UC failed to keep to the LRDP commitment they made a decade prior as to the amount and percentage of housing they would provide.
            In the realm of proportional responsibility for the housing shortage in Davis, UCD has a majority of the responsibility for their failure to act according to what they previously promised, and their failure to plan for what they were proposing.
            That still leaves some of the proportional responsibility on the elected officials and voters of the city.
            Unlike some, I believe it is possible for responsibility to be shared.

        3. Howard P

          Nuance, Mark… if they do not have housing in Davis (except, of course, the homeless -sort of), they are not residents… a friendly amendment… “those who work/study in Davis and desire residency”… an old problem… “braceros” worked in CA, but were not given residency status…

        4. Mark West

          Howard – If there is a shortage of appropriate housing in Davis then we have not met the needs of our residents, period. No nuance needed. For example, eight students stuffed into a house designed for a small family unit means there is a shortage of housing in town, even if all of those students have a roof over their heads.

    2. Jeff M

      A partnership is a specific type of relationship that you are conflating with a two-party negotiation.  In a partnership the primary interest should be the shared goals of the partnership.  In a two-party negotiation each party seeks individual interests.

      I see this as a big blind spot in your opinions.  And it causes you to fail to recognize your own pursuit of self-interest while you lament the lack of cooperation in others.

      David noted by Hobbesian views on this… that individuals naturally desire the power to live well and will defend that desire and attempt to promote it over the same for others… and that they will never be satisfied with the power they have without acquiring more power.

      I see most opinions about city growth as people pursuing power that then allows them to protect their ability to live well at the expense to others who want the same.

      UCD is a separate entity from the City of Davis and both have some conflicting interests.   They are not really partners per se, although there are certainly some shared interests that can be milked in negotiations.

      But in all “promises” there is the criteria of time.  As a progressive you should understand that things change… the criteria injected into the original decision to reach an agreement can become stale and irrelevant over time.  This is why in the profession of project management we talk about momentum and schedules… and why there is a sense of urgency.  In the liberal and big government arena there is this constant fight between stasis forces that are risk-averse and lack any sense of urgency, while also having a weird conflicting twitch to progress.

    3. Howard P

      Depends which promises are made… and in what context… in marriage, fidelity, honor, love, etc. in the vows is pretty sacrosanct… later, promising to take out the garbage by 5:00 P, and failing to do, so is de minimus.

      1. Tia Will

        promising to take out the garbage by 5:00 P, and failing to do, so is de minimus.”

        This is subjective & context driven. It may be “de minimus” to you. If I am 12 weeks pregnant, continuously nauseated with vomiting triggered by any strong smell, the garbage is reeking and I am unable to lift it to take it out myself, it will be anything but “de minimus” to me.

  5. Tia Will

    I don’t agree with you.  Students are very aware of their identity and place in this community.”

    I don’t see these as mutually exclusive positions. I agree that students are very aware of their own individual identity within the community. I also feel that they remain largely unaware of the broader issues within the community. My evidence is that many of the students I spoke with did not know who the candidates were for City Council, or for the DA position. Some did not know that the DA is an elected position. Many said they had no plans to vote, even after I stressed importance.

    It is entirely possible for people to have intense self awareness with little to no understanding of how the greater community shapes their life choices.

  6. John Hobbs

    ” I also feel that they remain largely unaware of the broader issues within the community. My evidence is that many of the students I spoke with did not know who the candidates were for City Council, or for the DA position. Some did not know that the DA is an elected position. Many said they had no plans to vote, even after I stressed importance.”

    I can’t help but wonder how the students’ responses would differ, if at all from the general population?

    While considered a banner turnout, almost half of eligible Davis voters ignored the election entirely. The view from your shoes seems slanted. As you say,

    “It is entirely possible for people to have intense self awareness with little to no understanding of how the greater community shapes their life choices.”

    Yup.

    1. Tia Will

      The view from your shoes seems slanted. As you say…”

      Yep. That is why I would love to see a more comprehensive article or survey on this subject.

       

       

    2. Ken A

      Almost half of “REGISTERED” Davis voters ignored the election entirely, closer to 2/3 of all “ELIGIBLE” Davis voters ignored the election entirely.

      Of the ~1/3 of of “eligible” voters only a small percentage (of all ages) really follow politics (or can even name everyone on the Davis city council or the member of the state assembly and senate that represent them).

      I find it funny that David finds it “interesting” that I know about his interactions with students when he personally posts about meeting students at housing forums and other local housing and political events almost once a week.

      I don’t know how many students David talks to every day, but M-F not a day goes by when I don’t talk with multiple UCD students and I’m pretty sure that more of them could find Kazakhstan on a map than could find the Nishi site.

  7. Tia Will

    we created the problem and now you are complaining because the University didn’t fix it for us.”

    I am not complaining at all. I favored Nishi 1& 2. I was neutral on Sterling and was an active proponent for Lincoln 40. Just because I do not think this is a one sided problem, does not mean that I do not believe students need places to live.

  8. Eileen Samitz

    After getting in late and checking on messages there was one letting me now about David’s “My View” Vanguard article today and their concerns about the many misrepresentations in it.  Since there were also a number of intentional “cheap shots” not only towards me, but also towards our community on this issue, I wanted to give some input.

    So, speaking of rhetoric, David’s article today is full of it, as he also attempts to re-write history on this issue. First of all, it is UCD which has refused from the beginning to have any substantive discussions with the City regarding the student housing problem which they are primary responsible for. The City Staff and City Council members have invited the Chancellor to meet repeatedly, yet the Chancellor has declined meeting on this issue for more than a year. Yet, the Chancellor claimed in the media that he would do “outreach” to the City and community, but that certainly has not happened.

    Also, the City and County have asked UCD to appoint two representatives for a City-County-UCD 2X2X2 for more than a year, yet UCD has not cooperated on that either. Our City Staff, City Council and our community has been reaching out to UCD for three years now during UCD’s LRDP update process, yet UCD has shown no respect or desire to respond.

    After four resolutions submitted to UCD asking UCD for the “50/100” plan from 1) our City Council,  2) our Yolo County Board of Supervisors, 3)  the ASUCD Student Senate, and 4) the Sierra Club Yolano group, and a community petition with hundreds of signatures, yet UCD still continues to not want to cooperate on this as well.

    Yet, UCD the largest UC in the system with 5,300 acres and a 900-acre core campus continues to drag its heels and trail behind the other UCs who are committed to 50% on campus housing. Even Berkeley with very little land available to it, has recently committed to producing 50% on-campus housing for its undergrad students. UCD claims to “embrace” sustainable planning, and apparently teaches it, yet UCD does not practice it.

    How does UCD justify spending over $45 MILLION dollars to demolish a 3-story Webster Hall just to replace it with only one more floor? Seriously? What a phenomenal waste of funds and land resources by UCD. It is outrageous that UCD continues to minimize the densities of their student housing projects particularly when compared to the other UC’s building who are building much higher densities for student housing to maximize providing as many student beds as possible for the needs of their students. But not UCD.

    Finally, all the information in the article attribute to me are not “hyperbole or dogmatic assertions” but they are simply the facts and evidence of how UCD has failed to take responsibility for the housing needs of its students. Plus, it is the Vanguard which is pitting the students against the community, not the converse. I have advocated for student housing for the needs of students and have made clear they UCD the ability to build far more and housing on-campus including increasing their densities significantly more when they build agreed like other UC campuses.

     So, David and his Vanguard can continue to be UCD’s apologist and try “running interference” for them, but he and his Vanguard need to stop inventing false narratives like today’s ridiculous article.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      I think the interesting thing about my column is it’s not written as a defense of UC Davis. While I cringe at the rhetoric, I don’t argue that the statements are incorrect – just unproductive. My point: the rhetoric comes at a steep cost and we need to decide what our relationship is to be UC Davis. If it’s going to be adversarial then we have to recognize that there is a cost to that relationship. If it is to be collegial or collaborative, then we have to understand that there is a cost to that as well and it means we have to give some things up. But the remarkable thing is nowhere in this entire column do I defend UC Davis. I close by arguing that the relationship has been poisoned probably beyond repair, and the question is whether we want to restore it and if we do.

  9. Greg Rowe

    Looking back over many years, there’s good reason for the City to feel that it is being taken advantage of by UCD.  For example, on June 22, 1989, the City and UCD executed an MOU titled “UCD Property Acquisition – Fiscal Implications for the City of Davis.”  The MOU cited the fact that recent UCD property acquisitions in the city had cost the city approximately $80,000 per year in lost property tax revenue. This is because any property owned or master leased by a tax-exempt entity such as UCD is exempt from property taxes.  If owned by UCD, the university files for a property tax exemption. If master leased–such as an apartment complex like the Adobe or Lexington– the property owner files for an exemption.

    The 1989 MOU stated that UCD and the City would reach an agreement within 2 years to mitigate the impact of future property acquisitions by the university.  I have yet to find any documentation that such a mitigation agreement was ever reached. City administrators with whom I’ve spoken are also unaware of any agreement reached in the early 1990s to resolve the situation cited in the June 1989 MOU.

    More recently, last year UCD attempted to buy the University Research Park in Davis. Fortunately, its $66 million offer was rejected because Mark Friedman offered approximately $70 million. If UCD had been successful, that property would have disappeared off the property tax rolls, at a tremendous loss to both the City and County of Yolo.  It’s also interesting that when questioned, former UCD government affairs director Marj Dickinson told me that UCD had not even identified a funding source for its proposed purchase.  Funny, UCD could offer $66 million for a privately owned off-campus research park but for many years has seemingly been unable to fund housing to accommodate any more than 29% of students on campus.

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