My View: Why Do We Need Innovation Parks?

Right now we are looking at a spring 2016 vote date for a Measure R vote on at least one and possibly three innovation parks. I have previously made arguments against putting competing measures on the ballot, but the decision is clearly coming much sooner than we would like to believe.

Last week, we ran Jason Taormino’s comments on why he wants an innovation park and I kept thinking that those reasons are not really my own. He speaks like a pro-development person. I, on the other hand, am a self-proclaimed slow growther.

I have remained in Davis to raise my family here because I prefer the smaller college town lifestyle to the bigger city. I have lived in cities during periods of my life and prefer smaller cities with less traffic, bike and walkable communities. I am also against continued sprawl for housing developments on the periphery. I am willing to support some densification and I would have an open mind for a highly innovative new housing development, even on the periphery, under the right conditions.

So why I am I willing to support a peripheral innovation park? First of all, let me be clear that my support is not unconditional. I will vote for a Measure R project if it has at least 2 to 1 adjacent mitigation. By that, of course, I mean that the innovation park does not become the gateway to new peripheral housing.

Second, it has to be net zero energy. I will not support another housing project of any sort that isn’t net zero energy and I hope Davis will pass an ordinance prohibiting that. Third, it has to have alternative transportation components built into it. Fourth, it really should be like the high tech campuses that we see in the Silicon Valley – I really believe a design like a college campus will fit this community and enhance it.

So the real question is why should slow growthers be willing to support a 200-acre innovation park on Davis’ periphery?

For me, it starts with the budget and our needs. Davis got hit a lot harder than probably many people expected during the last recession and it has been slow going coming out the recession. Part of the problem is that leading up to the recession we greatly expanded employee compensation – salaries, health care, and pensions. We built up large unfunded liabilities.

During the onset of the recession, we balanced the budget in part by cutting spending on infrastructure – roads, parks, bike paths, greenbelts, city buildings, pools, etc. We have racked up over $100 million in deferred maintenance costs.

Despite an improving economy, we are still in the same mode for funding these, with the options to cut city services, raise taxes, or build the economy. We live in a community that is not going to accept a long-term decrease in city services. We have families who enjoy the pools, the parks, and recreational services.

We have liberals who are not going to accept mass outsourcing of positions.

We have come to expect working roads, parks in good condition, and a beautiful network of greenbelts and bike paths.

We can increase our taxes every time hard times hit but that is going price this city out of the reach of even the middle class.

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I increasingly believe that the center will not hold here. We cannot in the long term hold down labor costs, operate on a shoestring, and cut back on services. We also cannot continue to survive by passing parcel taxes and increasing sales tax.

At some point, the pressure is going to mount for new revenue sources, and the best way that I have seen that preserves our community is an innovation park.

Fairly soon we will get the independent analysis of how much revenue an innovation park with three to four million square feet will be expected to generate, what the build out rate will be, etc. But in the long term, those revenues will help us avoid needing new taxes and, I think, avoid needing new homes.

I am not necessarily opposed to mixed use at these parks, as I believe that a confined housing that serves workforce needs will accomplish much of what I want to accomplish with these parks anyway while further reducing the need for new housing. However, that may be too thorny a political leap.

But I actually believe that by building relatively small, 200-acre innovation parks, we decrease the 0verall demand on housing. Building housing on 200 acres of land is not going to generate much new revenue for the city in the long term. It is also not going to drastically decrease the price of housing or the overall cost of living.

The best model for a regional approach is to look at economic scales –where is the best place to put new high tech job space? Near the university is a good answer. That is where the students are, it is where the money is from the research engine of UC Davis, and it is where the intellectual capital lies.

Where is the best place to put housing? I would argue there are a lot cheaper locations for new housing than Davis and if we can utilize alternative modes of transportation, we can accomplish the jobs-housing balance regionally at a much lower cost to the workers. We simply need ways to transport commuters without adding to our carbon emissions.

If we do this right, we can generate good jobs, balance our budget, and utilize better housing locations in the region. And if we do that, we actually reduce the demand for new housing and create a more balanced community.

In short, I see the economic and budget drivers as being a critical reason why we need the innovation parks. It will generate revenue for our city, reduce the need for new taxes, allow our city services to stay up where we expect them. If we design them correctly, they can reduce rather than increase the need for new housing and that can help protect our farmland and the periphery from future growth.

We are a university town. We have a world-class university that I know a lot of people believe is on the forefront of becoming a leading academic center for the 21st century. This is a way for us to help in that process without harming the fundamental character of this community.

The technology we help to bring in will help with the next wave – clean-tech, green-tech, and ag-tech which are, at least in my view, needed to produce a cleaner future that remains economically robust.

To me that is why we need to build innovation parks – we need to ensure our community’s economic well-being as well as to continue our value of environmental stewardship.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

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

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153 Comments

  1. Anon

    “So why I am I willing to support a peripheral innovation park? First of all, let me be clear that my support is not unconditional. I will vote for a Measure R project if it has at least 2 to 1 adjacent mitigation. By that of course I mean that the innovation park does not become the gateway to new peripheral housing.

    Second, it has to be net zero energy. I will not support another housing project of any sort that isn’t net zero energy and I hope Davis will pass an ordinance prohibiting that. Third, it has to have alternative transportation components built into it. Fourth, it really should be like the high tech campuses that we see in the Silicon Valley –I really believe a design like a college campus will fit this community and enhance it.”

    I am confused:
    1.  It has already been noted that there will be 2 to 1 ag mitigation, so I don’t think that will be a problem.
    2.  This is not a housing project, so I don’t understand the reference to “I will not support another housing project of any sort that isn’t net zero energy…”
    3. What sort of “transportation components” are you talking about?
    4. Exactly how must it be like a college campus?

    “But I actually believe that by building relatively small, 200 acre innovation parks, we overall decrease the demand on housing. Building housing on 200 acres of land is not going to generate much new revenue for the city in the long term. It is also not going to drastically decrease the price of housing or the overall cost of living.”

    How the heck would an innovation park that brings several thousands jobs to this area decrease the demand on housing?  Secondly, businesses will be “housed” at the innovation parks.  Thus far no housing is slated to be built at the innovation parks (except Nishi).  This paragraph just doesn’t make sense.  Please explain more fully what you meant, because I am at a loss.

    1. David Greenwald

      “1. It has already been noted that there will be 2 to 1 ag mitigation, so I don’t think that will be a problem.”

      You left out the word “adjacent” is there is a reason for that?

      “2. This is not a housing project, so I don’t understand the reference to “I will not support another housing project of any sort that isn’t net zero energy…””

      Typo, meant to say “project” not specifically “housing project.”

      “3. What sort of “transportation components” are you talking about?”

      Ways to get there without using a car.

      “4. Exactly how must it be like a college campus?”

      Look at Facebook, Google, PayPal, etc. as examples of what I mean.

      “How the heck would an innovation park that brings several thousands jobs to this area decrease the demand on housing? Secondly, businesses will be “housed” at the innovation parks. Thus far no housing is slated to be built at the innovation parks (except Nishi). This paragraph just doesn’t make sense. Please explain more fully what you meant, because I am at a loss.”

      My point is that if you built the innovation park and it produces revenue, as long as we plan the transportation component, we will not have a demand for new housing.

        1. David Greenwald

          Mace already has the mitigation land next to it (yes it would not be the official mitigation land), so I was really thinking about a similar arrangement in the northwest.

          1. Don Shor

            I don’t understand your answer. The land next to Mace is owned by the city. That’s your mitigation for Mace? If not, what do you mean by adjacent, and how do you feel Mace should be mitigated?

          2. David Greenwald

            Sorry – what I was trying to say is that the land next to Mace is largely already in a conservation easement so my adjacent requirement really applies to northwest, not Mace.

    2. Gunrocik

      I’ve been telling the City Planning department for years that they aren’t accessing the right data set for UC Davis employment, here is the most accurate accounting:

       http://budget.ucdavis.edu/data-reports/documents/campus-profiles/ptotlpop_ycurr.pdf

      As you can see, there are about 12,000 folks employed on campus.  Another 12,000 at the Med Center and elsewhere.  The rest of the number they are using includes work study students — which are already included in enrollment figures.  While the number is still impressive, it is nowhere near 27,000+.

  2. Michael Harrington

    Where’s the 3-1 mitigation?  More junk land in the county?

     

    Where are the fiscal calculations showing overall net revenue to the city government ?

  3. Tia Will

    We can increase our taxes every time hard times hit but that is going price this city out of the reach of even the middle class.”

    I would like to see the information ( in actual numbers) that leads you to believe that increasing taxes to support our current level of services ( as opposed to some vague “every time hard times hit”) is going to price this city out of the reach of even the middle class. At what point precisely would you see the “middle class” being priced out of Davis by taxes.

    1. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > I would like to see the information ( in actual numbers) that leads you to

      > believe that increasing taxes to support our current level of services

      If you want to see some “actual numbers” grab one of your property tax bills and you will see that every Davis homeowner pays about $1,000 a year in local parcel taxes and bond debt.

      P.S. The lack of development that results in crappy homes selling for over half a million is the main reason for the shrinking middle class in Davis (not the parcel taxes)…

    2. Tia Will

      One other point about “when hard times hit”.

      When hard times hit, they frequently affect businesses just as they affect individuals. What I would like to see is a range of predictions about what the contribution of these “innovation parks” would be not only at the rosiest of predictions, but also their anticipated contribution in an economic downturn such as we have recently experienced ?

      We have the recent example of the Target not bringing in as much revenue as had been projected by its proponents although no definitive numbers have been presented that I have seen. Like David, I have not come to any firm opinion on these developments, but one thing for which I will be watching is realistic best and worst case scenarios, not just glossy presentations and candy coated projections before I vote.

      1. Alan Miller

        “but one thing for which I will be watching is realistic best and worst case scenarios, not just glossy presentations and candy coated projections before I vote.”

         

        Glossy presentations = Positive thinking

        1. Tia Will

          Alan

          Glossy presentations = positive thinking ……or

          Glossy presentations = polished sales pitch ….depending on your point of view.

          Which is why I want to see best case and worse case projections, so that we can make our own decisions on the risk/benefit ration prior to voting.

        2. Alan Miller

          I think we’re saying the same thing.  My point is, “positive thinking” is not.  Often, it is used to put people down, as “not positive thinkers”, which in itself is rather “negative”.  Additionally, often “negatives”, which are actually issues, challenges and costs, are ignored.  What I want, most especially out of someone paid by tax dollars, is a square meal, not a pile of sugar.

    3. Mark West

      Some people will need a spreadsheet of data to support the proposition that the sun will rise in the East tomorrow.  Others just open their eyes.

      When life long residents of Davis, who are successful small business owners, with two teen age kids in school, have to move to Woodland to find a house that they can afford it becomes perfectly clear that the Davis is too expensive for the middle class.  Maybe if fewer wealthy physicians stopped buying up properties to rent to students we wouldn’t have this problem, but then again, maybe we should just build some more homes.

        1. Mark West

          Don:  I specifically used the term ‘home’ rather than ‘house’ since there are many different forms of housing that could be considered a home. Davis needs more homes.

          Home:  noun

          1.

          the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.

      1. South of Davis

        Mark wrote:

        > Some people will need a spreadsheet of data to support

        > the proposition that the sun will rise in the East tomorrow. 

        And after we give them the spreadsheet they will argue that we need a multi-year study to determine how often a solar eclipse might block the sun as it rises…

        The “breaking point” is different for different people.  $1,000 more per year is a fair amount of money and will be enough for some families to decide not to buy a specific home (or car) while $1,000 is not a big deal for most top 1% physicians who own over a million dollars of real estate…

         

        1. Tia Will

          while $1,000 is not a big deal for most top 1% physicians who own over a million dollars of real estate…”

          When I run into one of my colleagues who meets this description, I guess I could ask them if they consider $1,000 a big deal or not.

    4. Matt Williams

      Tia, talking to many, many middle class parents who have raised their middle class children here in Davis (and surrounding portions of the unincorporated County) they believe their “middle class children” are already priced out of Davis by the current level of taxes and property values.

      1. Tia Will

        Matt

        And that may well be the case when they are first getting started, just as it was for most of us also. I could not have made my first house purchase here at the time I was first starting out. I made my first purchase where I could afford it and then moved up when I could as have many others. I believe this is still  possible today and simply do not see the need to provide for those who are fully able to look after themselves instead of those who are not so fortunate.

        1. Matt Williams

          I understand Tia, but that doesn’t change the fact that the current Davis housing “package” is not affordable for huge portions of the Middle Class, which was the original premise posited … and that adding incremental additional tax burden to that already largely unaffordable housing “package” only makes the situation worse.

  4. Tia Will

    South of Davis

    If you want to see some “actual numbers” grab one of your property tax bills and you will see that every Davis homeowner pays about $1,000 a year in local parcel taxes and bond debt.”

    While it is true that I can easily access my own property tax bills, this does not address the issue of what David feels is the “breaking point” at which a “middle class” family will be “driven out of Davis” as opposed to say deciding that a smaller home in Davis is preferable to a larger home in some other community.  It is this projection of the perception of worth that is critical because what we are weighing is one set of values measured against another. I have a number of acquaintances who gladly live in more humble homes in Davis rather than “mini mansions” in other communities. I also have friends and acquaintances who value larger homes more than they value the location of Davis. Unless shown clear evidence of people being driven out as opposed to just making a values choice, I remain skeptical on this point.

    I am a firm believer in expressing our values. However, I also believe that if we are going to make claims that “the middle class” will be forced out of Davis, we should provide the calculation upon which we are basing that opinion.

    1. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > I have a number of acquaintances who gladly live in more humble homes

      > in Davis rather than “mini mansions” in other communities.

      As you can see from your property tax bills Davis charges the same high parcel taxes to the people in town with older small “humble homes” as they do to the rich that own $1 million + “mini mansions”…

  5. Mark West

    Yesterday you argued that we need to pay employees more (only to keep the good ones of course), and today you set down preconditions to justify your vote against business development.  I guess the fiscal crisis is over.

    Davis is already too expensive for the middle class, and by the way, we never balanced the budget, we just ignored what is now greater than $100 Million in future obligations all the while showering employees with high pay, life time health care and 6 weeks or more of paid time off every year (oh yeah, and that insignificant little pension).

    We need a comprehensive solution to the fiscal crisis.  A solution that includes tax increases, further reductions in spending, particularly payroll, and significant new business development.  So far, all we have done is raised taxes, overpaid for a new City Manager, drank a few cocktails together, and then sat back and watched the Mayor convince us all that the crisis has been averted.  Mission accomplished!

    Maybe we will all grow up and act responsibly when the bill reaches $200 Million…nah!  Go for the glory, make it an even $ 1 Billion.

     

    1. David Greenwald

      “Yesterday you argued that we need to pay employees more (only to keep the good ones of course), and today you set down preconditions to justify your vote against business development. I guess the fiscal crisis is over.”

      There’s a radical misinterpretation of both columns. Good job.

        1. South of Davis

          David wrote:

          > There’s a radical misinterpretation of both columns. Good job.

          If it is truly a “radical misinterpretation” cut and paste the sentences below and add “this is my position”

          I believe that Davis city employees should not get any more pay and benefits

          I do not believe that we should put any preconditions on any tech park development

          If you don’t cut and paste the two sentences in to a new post we all know that Mark is spot on and you are just (to quote Mark) using “Lots of words to obfuscate your underlying position”…

        2. Mark West

          The only reason to set preconditions for your approval of a project are to justify your opposition down the road.  You have consistently set preconditions for your support from day one in this process.  Today’s piece is nothing different.

          I just reread yesterdays post, and I agree that I misstated your position as written in that post.  I misread your repeated statements (in multiple posts) that we are underpaying management relative to other locales, and your concern for losing good employees, as being support for increasing their compensation.  I apologize.

          1. David Greenwald

            “The only reason to set preconditions for your approval of a project are to justify your opposition down the road. ”

            How about the reason that I want those features in the final project, all of which I believe are achievable?

        3. Mark West

          “How about the reason that I want those features in the final project, all of which I believe are achievable?”

           

          Then state that is what you ‘want’ in the project, not what your ‘need’ to have included in order to engender your support.

          That really is the story of Davis.  Everyone has their preconceived requirements that have to be satisfied before they will come to the table to discuss solutions, and if they don’t get their way, they will take their toys and go home.  People in this town act like a bunch of spoiled children.

           

           

    2. Tia Will

      Davis is already too expensive for the middle class”

      This is opinion, not fact.

      There is no rule of which I am aware that states that the “middle class “is entitled to a specific number of square feet or a certain number of bedrooms or bathrooms or a certain size back yard. Well prior to becoming a “wealthy physician” I had bought my first home, a very humble two bedroom, one bath bungalow, in need or repairs in a not so desirable neighborhood which served my family of three very well at the time. One purchases what one can afford, at least according to the more conservative members here. So why are we making exceptions for specific groups that we favor instead of perhaps choosing to help those in actual need ?

      1. South of Davis

        Tia wrote:

        > This is opinion, not fact.

        The median household income in the US is ~$50K/Year ($4,166/month).

        Do you really think that many families of four making $4,166 (before taxes) will say that Davis is NOT “too expensive”?

        1. Tia Will

          Do you really think that many families of four making $4,166 (before taxes) will say that Davis is NOT “too expensive”?”

          And Palo Alto, most acceptable areas of San Francisco and many other Pacific Costal areas are “too expensive” for me. Does that mean that these communities are obliged to alter their housing supply to accommodate me ?  I certainly hope not, because I have the ability, just as anyone else in the middle class does to chose to live somewhere less expensive, or to live in a more humble home or an apartment. I am not in need of anyone else’s assistance and neither are the young couples or families who would like to be living in a three bedroom two bath home in Davis but only feel that they can afford what they want in Vacaville, Woodland or Sacramento.

      2. Mark West

        http://www.city-data.com/city/Davis-California.html

        Median Value of home in Davis (2012) $503,000

        Median household income in Davis (2012) $53,000

        Assume 10% down payment, $450,000, 30 year fix rate mortgage at 4.5%

        http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/mortgages/income-required-mortgage-calculator.aspx

        requires a household income of $97,700.

         

        Davis is too expensive for the middle class, and that doesn’t include all the extra taxes that some want us to pay.

        1. Tia Will

          Davis is too expensive for the middle class, and that doesn’t include all the extra taxes that some want us to pay.”

          Numbers are appreciated. Interpretation is different. You have cited the cost of the median home. This means that 1/2 of the homes cost less. It assumes that everyone who is “middle class” must own their own home. It also neglects that people have the option of buying less expensive “starter” homes  and moving up when they have saved enough to do so. I would have been considered “middle class” for at least 6 years before I made my first home purchase with money saved while renting and living very frugally.

        2. Mark West

          What is the price of an entry level house in Davis?  $300,000?  $350,000?  Perhaps the current market value of your little bungalow?  Take a look on Zillow and see for yourself.

          Two adults with two kids (one boy, one girl) need a minimum of 3 br and 1ba.  I just found a townhouse that would fit for $310,000.  Using the same criteria used above they would need a household income of $59,000 to qualify for the mortgage.   So greater then  half of the households in town could not qualify to purchase what is clearly an entry level home for a small family.  We are not talking about a McMansion here.

      3. DavisBurns

        People like to compare Davis to Palo Alto so much why don’t we look at what a middle class couple could buy there? And if there is no Palo Alto middle class, is it okay for Davis to have higher home prices than, say, Sacramento?  Here it is: Palo Alto average price per square foot is $1,158 or average listing price $3,936,5215 while The average cost per square foot in Davis is $305 and average listing price is $524,467.  Now if our home prices were comparable to Palo Alto’s maybe we wouldn’t have a budget crisis.  Palo Alto has a housing mote (it’s solid housing) so let’s keep our agricultural mote and let those prices follow the market cause we know the market is ALWAYS correct.

  6. Tia Will

    Maybe if fewer wealthy physicians stopped buying up properties to rent to students we wouldn’t have this problem”

    Total number of houses “bought up” by this physician for this purpose equals zero.

    1. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > Total number of houses “bought up” by this physician for this purpose equals zero.

      Yet many other “wealthy physicians” ARE “buying up properties to rent to students”… 

      1. Don Shor

        I don’t think we need to limit this to “wealthy physicians.” I think college professors, local business owners, and a variety of other professionals own rental housing. It’s amazing how many people I know who own a house or duplex or small apartment unit.

        1. South of Davis

          Don wrote:

          > many people I know who own a house or duplex or small apartment unit.

          So do I, since the city makes it so hard to build actual apartments many people buy “homes” and convert them in to income producing student apartments/mini-dorms…

          P.S. Can anyone think of a small (under 25 unit) apartment built in Davis in the last 25 years?

  7. DavisBurns

    I still can’t paste using and ipad…

    you said deferred maintenance began with the reason in 2008.  It is my understanding that this was a long standing problem.  Am I incorrect?

    I don’t see how adding jobs can do anything except increase demand for housing.  I think we should pay for the services we get or reduce services to match the budget we have.  We should look at how the city is being run and look for innovative solutions to reducing our costs…and that doesn’t mean outsourcing In which the public pays a private company’s profit to do work we could do better and for less money internally. When will Davis be a leader again?  Why did we decide a Davis Public utility was too much trouble and we wanted to stay with PGE’s guaranteed profit model?   Food and Water Watch says public operation of water or sewers services saves communities like Fairfield-Susin and Peteluma 21% yet here we are on the threshold of breaking ground with CH2MHill, the company whose goal is to privatize water wherever they can.  I want innovation, not from for profit business, but from our very own city government.  Why aren’t those alleged liberals pushing for a public bank of davis so we can finance our city services with citizen deposits and keep our money local? San Francisco, among other cities, is pursuing this avenue.  Aren’t we more innovative and progressive than San Francisco? Come on, Davis, be radical–go to the root of the problems we face cause so far we are just talking about nothing new.  Just because you put a high tech business on a college like campus and it finds a novel way to make money doesnt really make it unique.  You know what they say about lipstick on a pig.

  8. Frankly

    I think this is a well-done piece by David that covers all the high points of individual decision criteria in support of the innovation park(s).

    I am worried about the housing arguments creeping in and ending up being the perfection is the enemy of the good principle.  Nothing against Mike Harrington, but I am sure he will welcome the move to add housing to the park design as it is sure to kill the park design.

    David touches on a couple of alternative realities about housing.  I would add one more.

    But first let’s just agree that Davis needs more rental housing for students.  We need to decouple that fact from the housing for new workers of the innovation parks concern… because otherwise we risk conflating the two points and killing the innovation parks in a Measure R defeat.

    Back to the alternatives.

    First, as David mentions we have less expensive housing options surrounding Davis.  Woodland, Dixon and West Sacramento.  Even Winters is reasonable location.  The commute from these surrounding communities is not bad by any stretch.  And we can work on integrating alternative transportation modes.

    The other alternative reality to the concern about not having enough worker housing is the shift from Davis being more a bedroom community to one where more existing residents find jobs locally or move away and sell their house to new people working in the innovation parks.  Davis has a higher percentage of people living in town but working elsewhere than do most comparable cities.  This shift will offset the increased carbon emissions from the greater population of new innovation park workers that commute from outside Davis.  And it will begin to equalize the concern that Davis does not have enough housing for the workers.

    Note that Palo Alto is the same population of David but has more than two times the number of jobs.  And before anyone makes the comment that we don’t want to be like Palo Alto, note the affordable housing availability from Davis’s surrounding communities, and the comparable easy commuting connections.  These are actually regional assets we can and should consider as leverage to push back on the housing demand that would risk defeating these parks.

    Note that Davis is more out of balance with business tax revenue and jobs than it is housing.  The housing problem is actually UCD-caused.  The university is growing 600 students and 30-40 employees every year.   Some of those are Med Center bodies, but the rest are needing housing.  The city obviously needs to work closer with the university to ensure we meet a reasonable supply of housing matching the growth of the university; but beyond that concerns about housing supply are de minimis compared to concerns about the short supply of business tax revenue and jobs.

    The last point to consider is the altruism of work and career.   Working for a successful, growing progressive company is positive life changing.  Think about that 20 or 30-something person stuck in a food-service career lacking other options.  All business tends to need entry-level admin and operations employees.   And these positions tend to provide a career path that food service does not.   The innovation parks will provide jobs and careers for people up and down the educational and job-skills spectrum.   It will help Davis grow back its young professional and young family demographic.

    But there is no need to wring our hands over housing as a primary concern.  Focus on the university housing need, build the parks and then take a wait and see approach for housing.

    1. DavisBurns

      If UCD doesn’t provide student housing because 1.they aren’t in the business of providing housing and 2. Student housing doesn’t provide a return on their investment, why should the city of Davis think it’s our responsiblity?  The University has plenty of land, they just don’t want to invest in housing.  Lets not wring our hands if the U doesn’t take responsibility of their own (not our) decision to grow.

      Going back to Palo Alto/Stanford, Stanford subsidizes off campus leases for students.  Maybe UCD needs to follow the leader.

      1. South of Davis

        Davis Burns wrote:

        > The University has plenty of land, they just don’t want to invest in housing

        The University (UCD) has invested millions per year over the past decade in housing and has built thousands of new housing units.

        > Stanford subsidizes off campus leases for students. 

        I have never met a Stanford undergrad that did not live on campus all four years (see link below that says all freshman are guaranteed housing on campus for all four years) and most friends that went to grad school at Stanford also lived on campus.  A friend that leased a house off campus while at GSB did not get a subsidy and told me a only a small number of students who they can’t place get the subsidy (he didn’t want to move back in to a “dorm” so he leased a huge home/party pad with three other Sand Hill Road VC analysts that he knew who also got in to GSB).

        http://parents.stanford.edu/vital-information/living/

         

        1. Don Shor

          The University (UCD) has invested millions per year over the past decade in housing and has built thousands of new housing units.

          Are you referring to West Village? Nearly all of the other construction has been replacement. And they added thousands more in enrollment than they added in housing units. UCD is not keeping to the bargain they agreed to regarding housing supply.

        2. DavisBurns

          Re: Stanford students live on campus…just google Stanford subsidizes off campus housing…they buy leases at apartment complexes in the surrounding area and rent to students at subsidized prices.  Maybe the students think it’s student housing because they get it through the university but that doesn’t stop it from being private housing with rents subsizided by Stanford.

          I would provide a link rather than saying ‘look it up yourself’ but I CANNOT COPY QND PASTE ON MY IPAD, nor can I use bold, hence the capitals which still work.

      2. Matt Williams

        I understand the logic you have laid out, and each piece of it stands on its own merit. However, there is a practical reality that you haven’t included … the City’s inability to avoid spill over increases in demand for housing in the City due to University decisions about increasing enrollment. The supply/demand curve for housing in the City is a market phenomenon that the City simply can not control. There is no magic wand available to resolve that challenge. it has to be addressed head-on.

        1. Frankly

          I don’t think there is anything near the urgency for the city to address this as there is for the city to address its long-term fiscal problems.   Many cities around the world have constrained housing… demand higher than supply.  A low vacancy rate, etc.   One thing to consider… if the student housing supply become a REAL problem instead of a general inconvenience and headache, the word will get out and it will affect the student interest in attending UCD.  And at that point the university will surely take interest.  It really is a university problem.  Why should we move to destroy the opportunity to develop our local economy to cover our long-term obligations because the university decides to grow without housing being part of their plan?

          1. Matt Williams

            Frankly, you appear to be approaching those two issues as an either/or choice rather than as a pair of both/and challenges.

    2. David Greenwald

      Good points Frankly. The one piece I left out of this is my long-standing desire to see a high density housing project for students on UCD that could open up housing off-campus for non-students.

  9. Tia Will

    Frankly

    Focus on the university housing need, build the parks and then take a wait and see approach for housing.”

    I was with you right up until your conclusion. I do not believe that waiting until after the build out to consider housing issues is the right approach any more than I would believe that it would be the right approach to “wait and see” about fertility issues after using effective birth control until after the woman is too old to conceive. All aspects of a major decision need to be addressed up front, in the beginning. Yes, these are two different issues. But to pretend that they are not integrally related is no better than axing the developments immediately at the very mention of the word “population”.

     

    1. Frankly

      The problem with that analogy is that you don’t actually know there will be a big enough housing problem to warrant building a bunch of new housing.  Again, look at other communities.  Even with our slow growth, or ration of housing to jobs/students is much more out of balance than is other comparable communities.  Said another way, with our population we are short on business and jobs and not houses.

      1. Tia Will

        Frankly

        You are right. I do not know. But I trust Ramos’ prediction on this more than I would either yours or mine and when I asked him what his anticipated projection in terms of additional needed housing for the employees on his site, his answer was “in the thousands”. Now that is a very broad and general answer, but not particularly reassuring with regard to not needing to address the issue now.

         

  10. Gunrocik

    With or without an innovation park, we will continue to have a housing crisis in Davis as long as we have a growing university, a highly coveted school district and low rate of housing growth.

    And by the way, there is little chance that the university will be building its fair share of housing anytime soon.  Particularly after the $30-$40 million hit we just took on West Village:

    http://www.dir.ca.gov/OPRL/coverage/year2013/2010-024.pdf

    To translate this link, the Labor Union-controlled Department of Industrial Relations basically shot down the UCD legal department’s attempt to avoid paying prevailing wages on the West Village project—which was the whole reason they did the public-private partnership in the first place.

    That means about a 75% to 100% increase in wages and that translates into a 25% increase in the cost of construction — and as I said above — a $30-$40 million increase in the cost of the first phase.  It also means that the ownership units being contemplated will be costing a fortune to build –even before factoring in the zero net energy goals.  And since they didn’t anticipate the huge financial hit on the apartments — no telling when the rest may get built.

    With today’s building codes, apartments are far more expensive than single family homes on a per square foot basis.  That is why you see very few built without massive subsidies — most are only in upscale areas where upper income folks are forced to rent.  If you can get it entitled, you might be able to find students willing to pay the sky high rents needed, but it is more cost effective for an investor to repurpose a single family home.  That is why I am skeptical that Whitcombe et al can make apartments work on Nishi — depends on where construction costs, financing costs and rents end up in the next couple of years.  Not sure they could make it work right now.

    In any case, apartments are already tough to make pencil out — since the university has to pay prevailing wages — there is no chance they will build anything unless it is to replace existing units.

    Bottom line — Davis will continue to be a great place to invest in rental property.

     

    1. DavisBurns

      Wow! Our public land grant university wants to avoid paying prevailing wages for construction of student housing using a public private cover.  I’m glad they didn’t succeed. When I remodeled, I paid prevailing wages…why shouldn’t the university? Why do they have money for corporate level compensation but not for instructors who do the actual teaching or construction workers who actually build something.  How low are our moral standards that we short  the lowest paid and overcompensate the highest paid?

      Something is rotten, really rotten and stinks in our current state of subsided capitalism.

      1. Gunrocik

        Nothing is rotten with capitalism.  There is something rotten with our labor-controlled state government.

        Prevailing wage is not a market wage.  It is the hourly rate most prevalent in the market place.  Since the union fixes their wage — their wage is most “prevalent”.

        There are very few union level wages in residential construction.  It is highly unlikely that you paid prevailing wage for your home remodel.

        If we required prevailing wage on private construction, we would likely see a massive drop in housing starts and apartment construction would cease to exist outside of LA and SF.

        Prior to 2002, there were plenty of prevailing wage exceptions for residential projects with public assistance — unfortunately our union controlled Governor Davis succumbed to union pressure — allowed a gut and amend bill with no public hearings to sneak through the 2001 legislature and now we have to pay prevailing wage on most publicly assisted housing projects — even though there is still no prevailing wage for residential — since no one outside the government would build a residential project with prevailing wage.  Thus, on a publicly assisted project, you are paying your plumber the same wage he gets when he is working in a steel and concrete high rise — which requires a far more skilled laborer than for a stick built project.

        The result is that we’ve seen the number of affordable projects drop by half in the past decade and campus residential construction suffer as well.  Yet another legacy of the sellout that was once our Governor.

      2. South of Davis

        Davis Burns wrote:

        > When I remodeled I paid prevailing wages.

        I have never heard of a private sector job having prevailing wages.  I don’t need to know the location or the year but can you post the name of the contractor so I can e-mail them and ask if they have EVER bid a residential job with “prevailing wages.

        P.S. I was recently talking to a not politically connected Davis contractor who was asked by a politically connected contractor friend to help out on a UCD job.  He had to pay his $20/hour (=~$40K a year) guys the $55/hour (=~$110K/year) “prevailing wage”

    2. Don Shor

      Interesting that if you read that letter, pp 8 – 9 in particular, it seems that if UC had just built housing and not included the retail component and the community center, they might have avoided the prevailing wage law.

      The different source of public funds and the elements of the Project, however, provide a critical
      distinction here. City of Vista declined to apply the PWL to affect wage levels on public works
      projects using only local funds for construction of two city-operated fire stations. (City of Vista,
      supra, 54 Cal. 4th at pp. 553, 566.) Aubry declined to apply the PWL “for projects like these”
      where construction of housing was exclusively paid for with UC funds. (Aubry, supra,
      42 Cal.App.4th at pp. 582, 583-584.) In contrast, the Project involves elements other than housing
      and is paid for in part out of non-UC public funds.

      1. Gunrocik

        Don, that is factually correct — but the DIR also has a tendency to pick  apart these projects until they find a way to make them subject to prevailing wage — so if it wasn’t the commercial aspect — they might have found something else.  I think UCD legal counsel was both sloppy legally and politically.  I find it interesting how this $40 million problem has managed to stay below the media radar.  Imagine the firestorm if the City of Davis had made this mistake?

  11. Aggie

    The Davis Economic Development Manifesto
    – Message to the Technology Sector – We want your companies. We want your jobs. We want your taxes. We want your downtown shopping dollars. We want your philanthropic donations. But we don’t want your employees. They can live in Dixon, West Sac, Woodland, Natomas, Elk Grove. We don’t care. Just solve our fiscal sustainability problem for us. And for the privilege of doing business in Davis, you will have to pay the Davis “aren’t we special” tax in the form of massive costs for solar, open space, transportation, and myriad other exactions that our less-worthy competitors can’t charge.
    – Message to Startup Companies – Don’t get too successful or  you are going to have to pack up your company and leave. We know its disruptive, but we just simply don’t want you in this community if you are going to employ thousands of people. And for those of you that are just starting out, good luck finding venture capitalists that are willing to invest in this dead-end ecosystem.

    Recruitment based on a hope that a critical mass of corporate leaders and investors will buy into the Davis bulls**t is not a wining strategy for filling up 7,000,000 sq ft of innovation center entitlements. Davis needs an honest discussion of the full scope of the housing issue – 20,000+ new employees creating demand for 12,000+ new housing units – sooner rather than later.

    Vacant land zoned “innovation center” isn’t going to pay the bills folks.

    1. Frankly

      But we don’t want your employees. They can live in Dixon, West Sac, Woodland

      This is just plain silly thinking.  First, consider the average tech company employee in the country and they would think they had died and gone to heaven being able to buy a big house and yard in Woodland or Dixon or Sacramento and have an easy 10-25 minute commute.  There is not any such message being delivered that we don’t want them living here.  It is not the responsibility of a business park to provide housing for every worker, and it is not realistic for a city to worry so much about the same.

      Think about how many people work in Sacramento and live in Davis.  There are a lot.  Possibly as much as 25% of the Davis residents that work do so in Sacramento.  Why don’t they live in Sacramento?  If we take your somewhat magical thinking we would have an initial problem there and once fixed those people would move to Sacramento and all those houses would be available for those new Davis workers.

      Message to Startup Companies – Don’t get too successful or  you are going to have to pack up your company and leave. We know its disruptive, but we just simply don’t want you in this community if you are going to employ thousands of people.

      Now this message I agree the city telegraphs on a regular basis.  It is just more of the business unfriendliness that we are known for.

      1. Don Shor

        based on a hope that a critical mass of corporate leaders and investors will buy into the Davis bulls**t is not a wining strategy for filling up 7,000,000 sq ft of innovation center entitlements.

        It’s hard to imagine Davis would have any difficulty finding tenants for the three business parks under discussion. The impression we’ve gotten from the experts is that there is substantial pent-up demand. Do you really think these parks are going to sit vacant, and, if so, on what do you base that belief?

        Davis needs an honest discussion of the full scope of the housing issue – 20,000+ new employees creating demand for 12,000+ new housing units – sooner rather than later.

        Ok, to start that discussion: where do you want to build those 12,000+ new housing units? It will be an honest discussion, but it is likely to also be a rather short one.

        1. Aggie

          It’s hard to imagine Davis would have any difficulty finding tenants for the three business parks under discussion. The impression we’ve gotten from the experts is that there is substantial pent-up demand. Do you really think these parks are going to sit vacant, and, if so, on what do you base that belief?

          No. I don’t think they will sit vacant. What I do think is that the availability of local housing will have a direct effect on the rate at which the land is occupied by technology companies. More housing – faster rate of adsorption. Less housing – slower rate of adsorption. The question is whether the slower rate of adsorption under the status quo of Davis growth control will be sufficient to pay the bills.

          I’m skeptical about the claims of pent up demand. The facts on the ground are that there are numerous building opportunities city-wide. I get the point that none are suitable for FMC Schilling, but the spin we are being fed (with no real tangible data) is that there is a line around the block. Surely the smaller users in this supposed cohort would be actively pursuing the smaller building opportunities if this demand was real. In my opinion, entitlement of the parks per se will create new demand – new clusters of technology companies with the potential for critical mass – room for future expansion – close proximity to UCD – etc.

      2. Aggie

        “We don’t want your employees” is shorthand for the unwillingness of the City Council and many thought leaders in the community to deal with the housing issue up front. Was not meant to be taken literally.

        The innovation parks will create demand for maybe 12,000+ new housing units (more if you consider multiplier effects).  The downside of adding 20,000+ employees without a significant increase in the housing stock is that many of these new technology sector employees will displace students and less economically competitive existing residents. One of our big competitive advantages in recruiting technology companies is the Davis quality of life. New employees are going to compete for a piece of this pie. There’s nothing we can do to stop it. The idea that they will largely settle in surrounding communities and not disrupt our housing market is nonsense. My personal preference would be to develop with an appropriate jobs/housing balance rather than to accept wholesale displacement as a growing population of employees compete for a static housing stock. There is no way to put that much housing on the innovation park sites, so that means annexation of land for more traditional residential development. Or we can do nothing and continue to flirt with insolvency.

        1. Don Shor

          so that means annexation of land for more traditional residential development.

          Where do you wish to annex?

          Or we can do nothing and continue to flirt with insolvency.

          Building housing doesn’t create revenues for the city in the long run. Housing developments don’t solve or forestall insolvency.
          I don’t think most local real estate professionals believe there will be any problem filling Nishi, Mace, and the Northwest sites at a reasonable speed. If you have some expertise in this field, by all means let us know what it is.

          1. Don Shor

            The big selling point of building these peripheral parks has been that UC Davis is a regional driver of economic development. Well, Davis is also part of a regional housing market. There is no question that adding jobs in these parks, as well as adding the staff and faculty for the Chancellor’s 2020 Initiative, will increase demand for the existing housing. There is also little question that the voters of Davis will not vote for large-scale housing projects. So Davis is going to rely on those nearby communities to provide housing. The only practical thing the city can do is to try to engage the university to meet the commitment it made as to the percentage of the student body that will be housed on campus. Admittedly, they don’t have much leverage there. But there is a commitment that is not being met.
            They could have pushed for higher density on the Cannery, but the goal there apparently was to provide for a different demographic than the rental market. And they can help to expedite housing on Nishi, which will fill a critical need.

        2. Matt Williams

          Aggie, what makes you feel that students will be displaced? They are the demographic group most incented to be close to the UCD campus. On the other hand governmental workers in Sacramento will see living in Davis and commuting each day to Sacramento as a much less attractive alternative than living in other communities geographically closer to their Sacramento jobs … or alternatively in upscale communities like Eldorado Hills or Granite Bay.

        3. Mark West

          Building housing doesn’t create revenues for the city in the long run. Housing developments don’t solve or forestall insolvency.

          Why do you keep repeating this fallacy?  The reason that housing is not net positive long term is due to the assumption that the growth in City payroll costs (total compensation) will continue to outpace revenue growth. The problem is not that residential development does not bring in enough revenues, it is that we refuse to control total compensation. The question is really just one of better management.

        4. Aggie

          Navazio’s fiscal model showed that the break-even point for housing is about $500K. Below that, it doesn’t pay for itself long term. Above that it does pay for itself long term. This model included our bloated staff costs as well as our excessive fees and affordable housing requirements.

          This inconvenient truth is probably the source of the compulsively repeated canard that housing doesn’t pay for itself long term, not to mention the derisive McMansion smear.

          But hey, I’m sure that the people that start, build, and operate technology companies – many of whom have the assets and desire to live in a Davis “McMansion” – will look beyond the hostility ingrained in this community and flock to Davis to help us solve our fiscal sustainability problem.

          1. Don Shor

            Navazio’s fiscal model showed that the break-even point for housing is about $500K. Below that, it doesn’t pay for itself long term.

            Useful to know.

        5. Aggie

          “I don’t think most local real estate professionals believe there will be any problem …”

          Most local real estate professional have a financial interest in supporting this false narrative that is emerging that claims we can build the projects with no housing or traffic impacts, and that they will rapidly adsorb and flood our coffers with plenty of money to sustain our municipal spending. It’s like a late-night infomercial that promises all gain and no pain.

          Meanwhile, outside the bubble, real estate professionals recognize that the availability of high quality local housing stock is an important driver for commercial development.

        6. Aggie

          “… what makes you feel that students will be displaced? They are the demographic group most incented to be close to the UCD campus.”

          My young entry level tech employee that wants to live in Davis will generally trump your student incented to live close to campus (unless they have access to sufficient parental resources to compete). The outcome is likely to be lower vacancy rates (back to the bad old days described by Don) and more student mini-dorms as they get crowded out of the limited off-campus housing stock.

          It’s all about balance. There’s no free lunch. Sorry.

          1. Matt Williams

            Aggie, the market advantage that students have over your entry level tech employee is that the students are willing to aggregate into rental groups and have robust communication methods for quickly and easily creating rental groups. Your entry level tech employee (if single) may be equally willing to live in an aggregate rental group, but does not have access to a ready pool of other entry level tech employees who are similarly willing to aggregate together. As a result the students can spread the rental over more paying partners than the entry level tech employee can.

        7. Frankly

          I am happy that you bring up this point about balance.  You are obviously highly informed, so why don’t you consider that Davis is so far out of balance in the number of jobs, the number of businesses and the amount of tax revenue generated by business activity?  Getting back into balance always requires some pain.  If you reject the pain of increased housing demand by demanding that we build more housing for all or even a majority of these workers, then we will absolutely feel more pain from either failed measure R votes, or else a population explosion.

          The problem that you and others seem to have is this vision that employees MUST live in the city they work.

          The national averages in 2009 as reported by the US census are that only 13.4% of workers had a less than 10 minute commute.  58% had a commute of over 20 minutes.  39.3% had a commute of 25 minutes or more.

          Woodland is 15 minutes away.  Dixon is 15 minutes away.  West Sacramento is less than 20 minutes away.   So considering these national averages, using your numbers of 20,000 new employees, we would need housing for about 30%, or 6,000.  Using your projections for the needed housing (which I think is too high) we get t0 3,600.  The point I and others are making is that out of this 3,600 increase in housing, there will be turn-over in the housing market.

          Let’s say for the sake of argument that half of these 3,600 new housing needs are met by turnover.  We are talking about 10 years or more to fully populate these innovation parks.  In 10 years we can add 1,800 new housing units without the need for making this a big whine fest.

          Frankly (because I am) I think you are significantly overheated in your concerns about housing.   Time to cool down and get reasonable, IMO.

  12. Alan Miller

    “But I actually believe that by building relatively small, 200-acre innovation parks, we decrease the 0verall demand on housing.”

    Say WHAT?  Increased need for housing (workers) will lead to decreased demand for housing?  Did the economics teacher who taught you this also say that a high minimum wage will lead to economic prosperity?

    1. Frankly

      I was also lost on this point.  It can stand some clarification.  I think home demand and prices will increase, and more people will cash out, and more of the new workers will purchase them.    But we will eventually hit an equalibrium where we can then accurately access additional housing need impacts from the business parks.  We will see it in the real estate market in the time on market metric and the cost of housing relative to the other areas.   The time on market is a better indicator for supply issues.  And there is some interplay between time on market and cost.  In the Bay Area it is not unusual for immediate multiple cash offers exceeding the asking price.   There is a true supply problem.  But what are you gonna’ do?

      1. Don Shor

        Davis is more expensive than the surrounding communities, but it isn’t more expensive than other communities with tech-oriented business parks near universities, at least not in California. Torrey Pines? Silicon Valley?

        1. Alan Miller

          “Davis is more expensive than the surrounding communities, but it isn’t more expensive than other communities with tech-oriented business parks near universities”

          Probably because their business parks exist, while ours our theoretical.

          1. Don Shor

            “Davis is more expensive than the surrounding communities, but it isn’t more expensive than other communities with tech-oriented business parks near universities”

            Probably because their business parks exist, while ours our theoretical.

            So you’re saying building business parks will make Davis as expensive as those other communities?

    2. Aggie

      “But I actually believe that by building relatively small, 200-acre innovation parks, we decrease the overall demand on housing.”

      Pure political spin. This type of nonsense undermines the credibility of the Vanguard on this topic.

      I’ll say it again …

      Davis needs an honest discussion of the full scope of the housing issue – 20,000+ new employees creating demand for 12,000+ new housing units – sooner rather than later.

        1. Aggie

          Not spin. Just math.

          7,000,000 proposed sq ft translates to approximately 20,000 employees
          20,000 employees translates to approximate demand for 12,000 dwelling units

          Spin is claiming that building two 200-acre innovation parks will decrease housing demand.

      1. Matt Williams

        Aggie, the phrasing of your statement isn’t technically accurate. Davis definitely does need to have an honest discussion of the full scope of its collective City/UCD housing issues. However, 20,000+ new employees has the potential to create as much as 12,000 units of incremental demand for Davis’ existing housing supply. What happens on the supply side of the housing supply/demand curve is not directly tied to what happens on the demand side of that curve. As has been noted in past discussions, Palo Alto with a 2010 population of 64,403 supports 98,000 jobs (as reported by the City of Palo Alto website). Davis, with a 2010 population of 65,622 only supports 31,361 jobs (as reported on page 144 of the City of Davis’ FY 2011 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report). 28,411 of that 31,361 total were at UCD.

        1. Aggie

          Matt: No need to address the supply side if you are OK with the negative consequences of housing prices trending towards Palo Alto’s $1,000+ per square foot. Even though I like my equity as much as the next person, I’d prefer some balance.

          I question the validity of the numbers you quote. Only 2.950 non-UCD jobs city-wide???

          1. Matt Williams

            They are the City’s own numbers. See page 144 of http://administrative-services.cityofdavis.org/Media/Default/Documents/PDF/Finance/CAFR-Documents/Davis2011CAFR-PDF.pdf However, the 31,361 total the City lists is indeed misleading. Closer examination shows that that total is only for the Top 10 employers. They also show that as 47.8% of the total total. I missed that on first reading. So the math of dividing 31,361 by 0.478 yields a total total of 65,609 jobs. Thanks for catching that oversight on my part. 65,609 is still much lower than Palo Alto’s 98,000.

        2. Aggie

          Matt: The numbers still don’t add up. Doby Fleeman cites 33,000 daytime jobs in Davis. You are now citing 66,000 daytime jobs. Gunroick posted above that the City has used bad data for years.

          You must see what’s wrong with this picture. Why are we even having this discussion? Don’t we have staff that are paid to both know and communicate this type of basic information?

          1. Matt Williams

            Aggie, if Doby’s 33,000 day jobs is for the City Limits only, then the aggregate City plus Campus numbers wouldn’t be far off. I’ll check in with Doby tomorrow.

  13. DurantFan

    The Unseen Hand In Davis Politics:The City of Davis is one of 544 American cities that are participating members of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). Much information concerning this massive, multi-tentacled, organization can be found at http://www.iclei.org/.

    How much of the frenetic planning effort currently being experienced within (and around) Davis can be attributed to ICLEI efforts and influence? ICLEI is a private, non-profit foundation dedicated to helping local elected officials (mayors, city council members, etc.) implement progressive regional and international planning within their community as well as in adjacent unincorporated areas. Because of extensive unfavorable local reaction to a variety of ICLEI’s “Sustainable Development” and “Innovative Development” proposals within the Bay Area and other regions, ICLEI has had to re brand itself as” Local Governments for Sustainability” to continue to gain access to and support of community staff and residents. Once support is gained, ICLEI can then provide numerous resources to the community. An essential step is to recommend that the community hire a full time “sustainability (innovation?)manager,” to implement relevant ICLEI policies. Once that is done, other benefits follow. These include, among others: (1) access to a network of Green experts, newsletters, conferences and workshops; (2) software programs to help set the goals for community development; (3) toolkits, online resources, case studies, fact sheets, policy and practice manuals, and blueprints successfully used by other communities; (4) notification of relevant grant opportunities conforming to ICLEI objectives; and, (5) training workshops for staff and elected officials on how to develop and implement ICLEI programs. Are the annual Cap to Cap  lobbying trips to Washington D.C. by City of Davis elected  (and appointed) officials part of the ICLEI effort?

    1. DavisBurns

      ICLEI, huh?  Just cause it’s green or innovative doesn’t mean it is sustainable and  unlimited development, green or otherwise is not sustainable.  On a global level there are limits to the number of people we can feed and on the local level, there are only so many people or businesses  we can cram into our approximate ten square miles.  Right now sustainable is just a buzzword without a meaningful definition.

    2. Alan Miller

      DF, I think you found the hidden hand.

      Innovation(?)Manager, Cap to Cap, Giant Federally Funded meaningless Regional Projects recommended by well-connected congressman– the pattern is all fitting together.  I expect that immediately upon the return from Cap to Cap this year, at the Tuesday following city council meeting there will be a break in the meeting during which the council members will writhe about, their stomachs will grow and explode, and a silvery snake-like alien will emerge from each, then hiss and attack the next host.  That would be #6 in your list above.  All hail ICLEI !!!

        1. Matt Williams

          DurantFan, I read through all seven pages of Heather Gass’ submission for entry into the public record. The fact that she was taking that step is very confusing, given that one of the central themes of her submission is that the representative democratic form of government is a fundamental abridgement of the rights of individual citizens. Can you tell me what governmental agency’s public record the seven pages were submitted to.

          The second major theme appears to be that science can not (and should nnot) be believed when it comes to greenhouse gases.

          The third major theme appears to be that non-governmental environmental interest organizations like the Sierra Club are deeply involved in a scheme to transfer ownership of massive amounts of property from the ownership of private individuals into the ownership of these non-governmental environmental interest organizations.

          Did I get it right? I’m looking forward to hearing your response.

        2. DurantFan

          Matt: A Brief Response to Your Comments (above): Davis citizens as a whole continue to be unaware of the extensive planning and multi-agency effort involved in the  hurried execution of the One Bay Area Plan.  Ms. Gass was just one of many Bay Area residents who were caught in a reactive posture by the aggressive planning, coordination, and implemation of this plan by multiple public and private agencies.  I included her comments solely because she took the time to provide the background information necessary  to show the reader the history and extent of the many “hands” involved in the process.  As a Ph.D. trained scientist, I do not necessarily agree with her specific conclusions on the selected items you mentioned.

          1. Matt Williams

            DurantFan, thank you for the informative response. I agree with you that “Davis citizens as a whole continue to be unaware of the extensive planning and multi-agency effort involved in the hurried execution of the One Bay Area Plan.” However, since Davis is geographically outside the nine counties covered by the One Bay Area Plan (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma), why do you think it is important that Davis citizens should be prioritizing their limiterd personal time to an effort to become aware of the One Bay Area Plan?

            With that question asked, Davis citizens are very aware of the Cool Davis Coalition and SACOG (both RHNA and the Metropolitan Transportation Plan being well known), which are organization in the Sacramento Metropolitan Region, of which Davis and Yolo County are a part. In late October, SACOG set up a very informative display at the Farmers Market of the regional transportation concepts/issues that are being considered. The City sent out multiple notices to the Davis citizenry, strongly urging them to both visit the display and give SACOG feedback through the personal interview staff and tools that were there. When I went to it, the display was very well attended, and the SACOG folks there were getting lots of really good feedback. Bottom-line, it did not feel the least bit “hurried” and it came across as an open, transparent effort to engage and inform the Davis citizens.

          2. Don Shor

            This is just regional planning. It’s been going on in this iteration for over two decades (but it’s being “hurried”), and in other ways much longer than that. It’s a cooperative and voluntary organization of local governments, including elected officials, and regional planning agencies. Regional planning agencies are appointed by local governments. The meetings are public, nothing is being “hidden” and the whole thing basically provides access to lots of experts and collaborative processes. Lots of things — like, say, transportation — require planning across the boundaries of local government. There is nothing nefarious about any of this. I can imagine a lot of time is spent at meetings and symposia, but I see no reason for any of the breathless adjectives like ‘tentacles’ and ‘hurried execution’, all suggesting some sort of conspiracy.

    3. Gunrocik

      This posted in the wrong place, let’s try it again:

      I’ve been telling the City Planning department for years that they aren’t accessing the right data set for UC Davis employment, here is the most accurate accounting:

      http://budget.ucdavis.edu/data-reports/documents/campus-profiles/ptotlpop_ycurr.pdf

      As you can see, there are about 12,000 folks employed on campus.  Another 12,000 at the Med Center and elsewhere.  The rest of the number they are using includes work study students — which are already included in enrollment figures.  While the number is still impressive, it is nowhere near 27,000+.

       

  14. Tia Will

    Two adults with two kids (one boy, one girl) need a minimum of 3 br and 1ba.”

    I disagree that this is the minimum that is needed. This is what they may expect. But it is not what they need. My mother and I lived in a single with a fold down bed into the living room and a single bath for 4 years. My mother’s family of eleven, two adults and nine children lived in a three bedroom 1 bath home throughout her entire childhood. Our middle class expectations are just that, expectations, not needs.

    1. Mark West

      Certainly many people live in very high density situations, but that does not mean it is right.  Child Protective Services requires that foster children of different sexes not share a bedroom after a certain age (I don’t recall exactly, but somewhere in the 2-5 years range).  You may think it is proper for my friend’s teenage son and daughter to share a bedroom, but the County does not agree with your opinion.

    2. Matt Williams

      Tia, times change. What was not on the social services radar when you and I and/or our respective parents grew up is closely scrutinized in today’s society. Aas I read your comment I couldn’t help but wonder how Child Protective Services would evaluate a parenting situation where two children of different sexes were sharing a bedroom. With that in mind, wouldn’t the smallest legal bedroom situation for the described two adults with two kids (one boy, one girl) be at least two separate sleeping rooms … one with the two males and the other with the two females? You and your mother had the advantage of being the same sex. Would the situation have been equally tenable if your single parent had been your father?

      1. Tia Will

        Matt

        Unless you know that there are separate CPS rules in existence for people of different socioeconomic classes in this country, then a middle class family would be at no greater risk than would a lower class family that does not provide separate sleeping rooms for all of their children based on gender. There are many, many of the latter. I suspect that there are many sibs of different genders who separate their sleeping areas by screens or blankets or the like, and many others whose customary sleeping spot is on a couch or a mattress on the floor and that you are simply unaware of this practice.

        While I it is true that it has been over twenty years since I made my last home visit, at that time we would have been filling orphanages let alone our group home and foster homes had we been removing children for the sole purpose of providing same gender sleeping arrangements for all sibs. I doubt that this has entirely changed since my children were born.

        1. Mark West

          CPS tolerates a number of situations in birth homes that they would not allow in Foster Care, so you are right, birth parents can have opposite sex children share a bedroom.  The point is that the what is required of Foster Homes is what the County considers to be the ‘best practices’ for raising those children, and not what is ‘good enough’ for the poor and underprivileged (as viewed by the wealthy). Just because it is good enough, does not mean that it is right, or what we should strive for as a community.

           

          1. David Greenwald

            “The point is that the what is required of Foster Homes is what the County considers to be the ‘best practices’ for raising those children, and not what is ‘good enough’ for the poor and underprivileged (as viewed by the wealthy). ”

            I wouldn’t phrase it that way. I would say, the standard for either removing children from birth parents or for the government regulating the actions of birth parents is considerably higher than their need to regulate foster parents who are ostensibly under the authority and protection of the government. The children in foster homes are under the care of the state. I agree with you on the rest, but wasn’t comfortable with your wording in the above quote.

    3. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > I disagree that this is the minimum that is needed. 

      Maybe we can just fill a parking lot with “covered wagons” and let each family have one like was common in the mid 1800’s…

  15. Anon

    David Greenwald: “Sorry – what I was trying to say is that the land next to Mace is largely already in a conservation easement so my adjacent requirement really applies to northwest, not Mace.”

    So are you saying that the ag mitigation must be “adjacent”?

    Michael Harrington: “Where’s the 3-1 mitigation?  More junk land in the county?”

    Come on Michael, you know the requirement is 2-1 mitigation.  What exactly is “junk land”?

    Tia Will: “We have the recent example of the Target not bringing in as much revenue as had been projected by its proponents although no definitive numbers have been presented that I have seen.”

    Approximately $200,000 per year the first year.

    Tia Will: “And that may well be the case when they are first getting started, just as it was for most of us also. I could not have made my first house purchase here at the time I was first starting out. I made my first purchase where I could afford it and then moved up when I could as have many others. I believe this is still  possible today and simply do not see the need to provide for those who are fully able to look after themselves instead of those who are not so fortunate.”

    Then 1) you seem to be conceding that Davis has become unaffordable for first time homebuyers; 2) you also seem to be saying we should provide housing for those wealthy folks who can afford it, and for very low income, and to heck with the rest, they can fend for themselves.  Really?

    South of Davis: “The only reason to set preconditions for your approval of a project are to justify your opposition down the road.  You have consistently set preconditions for your support from day one in this process.  Today’s piece is nothing different.”

    I really didn’t read today’s article that way.  I read it more in terms of what preconditions must be met to get the innovation parks past a Measure R vote.

    1. Tia Will

      1) you seem to be conceding that Davis has become unaffordable for first time homebuyers;”

      That depends upon what those first time homebuyers are willing to spend, and for what. In North Star there were a number of smaller duplexes that were much more affordable than the single family residences. which we were eventually able to purchase. If one feels that one has to have a square footage that is more than they can afford in Davis, that would be true. However, if they are willing to settle for less, there are still properties that can be purchased. This is a trade off that is true in every community, not just Davis.

      2) I would like you to show me what I wrote that implied that “we ( whomever you deem the “we” to refer to  should provide housing for the wealthy”. I have consistently said that the “wealthy” can provide for themselves and so can the middle class.  Unless of course you consider  it tragic to live in Woodland or Vacaville if you want a larger home until you can afford a place in Davis.  So no, not “really”.

    2. Don Shor

      Davis has become unaffordable for first time homebuyers;

      Davis has been unaffordable for first-time homebuyers for decades. The homes they would buy are all rental units, overwhelmed by the demand for rental housing. That is the driving force in the Davis real estate market. How many homes would have to be built to make Davis median home price comparable to Woodland or Dixon? And with Woodland’s city council endorsing a 1.7% growth rate and prioritizing the build-out of Spring Lake, it’s obvious where first-time buyers are going to go.

      1. Mark West

        Where in the law does it state that the mitigation land has to be adjacent to the project?  If it is not in the law, what justification is there to demand more than what the citizens agreed to, unless of course your underlying goal is to block these projects?

        1. David Greenwald

          Nowhere in the law. It’s my personal preference. Why you keep insisting that because I have a higher standard than the current law, that means my underlying goal is to block these projects, is beyond me. If it were an impossible goal to make, and I was setting up a strawman argument, you might have a point, but nowhere in my discussions with city staff or the developers have I reached that conclusion.

        2. Mark West

          Why you keep insisting that because I have a higher standard than the current law, that means my underlying goal is to block these projects

          Because you present them as demands.  If your goal was to make the project better, you would present them as ‘want to haves’ and not ‘must haves.’  Pile on enough demands and you sound like a no growth fanatic.

        3. Matt Williams

          Mark, as I said to David in a reply just a moment ago, I believe there are better mitigation alternatives than adjacent … alternatives that support existing formalized Davis community values better.

        4. Aggie

          Mark: Actually there is an adjacency requirement in the Municipal Code. Here is a link. There are provisions for non-adjacent mitigation in section (d) but the standard is “extraordinary community benefits.”

          I strongly support both of the innovation parks so it concerns me that staff and the applicants appear to be trying to finesse this. Avoiding the issue is a mistake … just like pretending there will be no traffic impacts or increase in housing demand/pressure. Just tell us where the mitigation acreage is located.

          In my opinion, the community will support the projects if they aren’t manipulated and/or misled during the process by staff, the applicants, and the legion of political operatives supporting development.

           

  16. Tia Will

    “Davis has been unaffordable for first-time homebuyers for decades”

    If what your first time homebuyer wishes to buy is at a minimum a three bedroom two bath single family home, then I would agree with this statement.

    Don has been the most consistent on this blog in pointing out the obvious statement that due to the proximity of the university, rental demand is key to the Davis real estate market. And yet, going back at least 25 years when North Star was being built out ( and probably more like 35 years since the rental vacancy was 2% when I arrived in 1979), the city has in development approvals and recently in terms of the rezoning to allow the development of the Cannery, chosen to ignore this and continue to provide for the building of relatively large, expensive single family dwellings with some “affordable housing ” sprinkled in. In the case of North Star this took the form of a few duplexes and the 36 units at Twin Pines. These choices do not meet the fundamental  housing needs of Davis and doing more of the same, whether situated on the campus of the “innovation parks” or off them will not change that.

     

    1. hpierce

      “There are none so blind as those who will not see”…  Tia, in 1979 the rental vacancy rate in Davis was less than 1/2 of 1 % [not 2%!].  I know, that’s when I returned to Davis after a couple of years in the Bay Area.  The number of apartment units built along Sycamore, north of Covell, Arlington Farms, Adobe, the apartments on Shasta/Denali, north of Arlington, Greystone (Fifth), Tanglewood and apartments to the south, New Harmony, the apartments along Cantrill, the apartments on Moore, the apartments along Cowell, west of Mace, etc., etc, etc. have been conceived of and built since 1979.  I don’t have the unit counts at hand, but they FAR, FAR exceed the 36 units you cite.

      Perhaps you should visit an opthalmologist and consider whether you have severe “no-growth” cataracts growing. It’s OK to be no-growth, to preserve what you have, but please don’t pretend that significant multi-family approvals and construction have not occurred in the last 35 years.  It is untrue, big time.

      1. Don Shor

        The apartment vacancy rate in Davis has rarely been above 2% for decades. As you know, 5% vacancy is considered a healthy balance for a rental market.
        In a 15-year period in which UCD added 8,000 students, only 500 apartments were added citywide. All those apartments built in the 1980’s were quickly overwhelmed by the enrollment expansion. UCD is adding 5000 more students to this via the 2020 Initiative, and only added 2000 beds with West Village.
        vacancy rate
        vacancy rate older

        1. hpierce

          Don, wish I had a cite, but if someone could find it, expect that in 1979 it was 0.25 – 0.3%. I was “in the market”, and had a helluva time finding a two-bedroom apartment unit in Oct 1979.  In the 1974-77 range, my roommates and I had little problem finding decent housing, but then those units were primarily geared to the college student crowd. [still 2 to a room]

          Thank you for your data.  The “rule of thumb” I recall, as the ‘sweet point’ for landlords/renters is ~ 5% vacancy.  Competitive, affordable, yet still profitable.

          This “liberal” community just can’t stomach ‘parks’ with manufactured housing [a “non-starter” for our planners commissioners, and electeds].  I consider Rancho Yolo a good blend of ambience and decent, affordable housing, and the “tenants” can build equity in the structure, although they are ‘renting’ the space.  They also can claim exemptions from income tax for the interest they pay on the mortgage for the ‘structure’.  Niche housing, to be assured, but a niche where no efforts have been made since the mid-70’s.

        2. Mark West

          We don’t have a housing problem, it is just one of expectations. Private space is overrated so everyone should be happy to double up.  I’m sure you can put two bunk beds into every apartment bedroom allowing 8 college students to share a two bedroom apartment (they can shower at the gym).  Imagine how many students can live in what we now call a single family home with four per room?  Why stop there?  As we have seen in other places around the world, at least two families can live in a standard 2br 1ba house, so just imagine how many we can stuff into one of those McMansions in East Davis. As an added bonus, all this co-habitation will surely increase the demand for services at Kaiser allowing them to hire more physicians thus solving our economic development problem at the same time.

          How many yurts will fit on Nugget Field?

        3. South of Davis

          hpierce wrote:

          > This “liberal” community just can’t stomach

          > ‘parks’ with manufactured housing 

          I’m not against (mobile/manufactured home) “parks” for the typical “Davis Elitist” reasons but since I know that most (but not all) parks in the US put the home owners in a bad place since when rents go up they can’t just move like apartment renters and typically most end up like Royal Oak (drugs, guns & crime) since few have great owners and end up like Rancho Yolo (strong community of seniors with low crime).  As a whole the MHP/MHC industry in the US is run by evil “loan to own” people that make subprime lenders look like saints…

        4. South of Davis

          Don wrote:

          > In a 15-year period in which UCD added 8,000 students,

          > only 500 apartments were added citywide. 

          I think there may be something wrong with this data set unless you can tell us where the 1,097 units torn down in 2011 were located.

          I was guessing that the “total apartments” number might be the “total that participated in the survey” (and after some clicking around I think this might be correct).

          I just found this on line:

          “In analyzing the 2012 data, it was noted that 1331 fewer units are included in this year’s report, despite

          several efforts of contacting property owners and encouraging participation. ”

          I also found something from 2008 that said only 86% (162 out of 187 apartment complexes with 5 or more units) participated in the survey (but could not find the number of “units” not counted).

          1. Don Shor

            I am aware of those data issues, but they don’t negate the point that there have been nearly no new apartments added in a couple of decades (when were the last ones built?) nor does it likely affect the low vacancy rate reported. The ASUCD housing survey gives us a good ongoing data set for comparison of trends.

        5. Frankly

          How many yurts will fit on Nugget Field?

          LOL!  Thank you Mark West for illuminating the absurd arguments coming out both sides of the mouth of some of the slow growers in this town.  They are caught with their pants down and are irritatingly creative trying to wiggle out of responsibility for the problems they themselves have caused.

      2. South of Davis

        Don wrote:

        > there have been nearly no new apartments added in a couple

        > of decades (when were the last ones built?) 

        In the mid 90’s the city added hundreds of units south of 80 (Tanglewood, Allegre, Sharp & Flats, and the city owned mostly vacant for the past decade 112 bed Pacifico Student Co-Op).

        In the late 90’s the city added hundreds more units west of 113 (Glacier point, Aspen Village, and another big one with a funny name I can’t remember).

        In the early 2000’s the city added hundreds of units out in East Davis (Alhambra, Seville, + a bunch along East 5th that I don’t remember the names of).

        In the past couple years the West Davis development has adding hundreds more apartment units (and more than 300 homes are planned to go between the apartments and Russell).

        I’m sure I’m missing some, but we have had a little more than “nearly no” apartment built in the past 20 years…

        1. Matt Williams

          The West Davis development is not in the City. Any bed additions like West Campus have been more than offset by reductions in beds due to removal of dormitories from UCD’s complement.

          Assessing on-campus housing is another story altogether, which begins with the 2002 UC Housing Task Force report excerpted below …
          .
          image1
          .
          In that report all the UC campuses collectively and collaboratively committed to increased on-campus housing of their students as summarized in the following Figure 7 of the report.
          .
          image1
          .
          The final pages of the report provided expanded campus-by-campus details on the Figure 7 housing plan commitments. Here is the UC Davis housing plan contained therein. Note the commitment to 11,032 beds in 2011-12, up from the then-current actual Fall 2001 total of 5,552, which was up 1,220 beds from the Fall 1996 total beds of 4,332. Bottom-line, UCD committed in that report to add 5,480 beds between 2001 and 2012.
          .
          image1

          1. Matt Williams

            With those commitments from the November 2002 UC Housing Task Force report in place, it is interesting to see how UCD has done in reaching that 5,480 additional bed goal.

            Unfortunately, as the two graphics below show, the progress toward 11,032 beds has been less than positive. The first graphic is Appendix G from the 2008 UCD Student Housing Strategic Plan (see http://housing.ucdavis.edu/__pdf/2008%20Strategic%20Plan.pdf ), which shows that the 2001 complement of beds has dropped from the Fall 2001 total of 5,552 down to 4,528 in Fall 2008. The table also reflects the planned additions and retirements in the 10-year plannin period from 2008/2009 to 2017/2018, which yields a net increase of 299 beds over that 10-year period. NOTE: for reasons that are not readily apparent, West Village does not appear in Appendix G.
            .
            image1
            .
            In 2014 Student Housing provided an updated Strategic Plan (see http://housing.ucdavis.edu/about/strategic-plan/2014/appendix-b.asp ). The graphic below is Appendix B of that updated plan. The “going in” number of 4,791 beds in the Fall of 2013 is still below 5,552 beds of Fall 2001, but it is a bit better than the 4,427 beds that had been projected for the Fall of 2013 in the 2008 plan. Note: again for reasons that are not readily apparent, West Village does not appear in Appendix B.
            .
            image1
            .
            Bottom-line, it appears that UCD has not made any measurable progress toward increasing its on campus bed total from 5,552 to the goal of 11,032.

        2. Don Shor

          Hey, the city now has a GIS map that shows all the apartment complexes: http://maps.cityofdavis.org/apartments/
          My impression was that the West Davis apartments and the South Davis apartments were all built in the last big phase of construction, which went from the late 1980’s into the early 1990’s; ie, “a couple of decades” ago.
          What that provided: in the Aspen subdivision in West Davis that added about 300 to 400 units. The 8 complexes that are all together in South Davis added 737. Those are what we need more of.
          East Davis looks like Alhambra (160), Seville (84), Windmere(106), and Greystone(160). I’m not sure when those were built.

      3. Tia Will

        Frankly You are right. I do not know. But I trust Ramos’ prediction on this more than I would either yours or mine and when I asked him what his anticipated projection in terms of additional needed housing for the employees on his site, his answer was “in the thousands”. Now that is a very broad and general answer, but not particularly reassuring with regard to not needing to address the issue now.

      4. Tia Will

        hpierce

        It is untrue, big time.”

        That’s right. It would be untrue big time. Unfortunately for your post, I said nothing of the sort.

        May be we with both need the services of an opthalmologist. Me for being off on the available vacancy rate at the time of my arrival according to Don’s posting since I was quoting the number I was quoted then by a real estate agent and did not verify his numbers.

        You for seemingly being unable to read my post accurately. What I said was “In the case of North Star this took the form of a few duplexes and the 36 units at Twin Pines.” The 36 units that I referenced were only those associated with the North Star build out.

        I made no comment whatsoever about the total number of apartments built in the entire town at the time or at any time since.

    2. Frankly

      Tia – please disclose the type of home you live in.  How many square feet.  How many bedrooms?  How big is the lot?

      It appears to me you are stuck in a “do as I say, but not as I do” position.  That is hypocritical don’t you think?

      1. Don Shor

        Tia – please disclose the type of home you live in. How many square feet. How many bedrooms? How big is the lot?

        I always think it’s odd when people who post under a pseudonym want those of us who post under our own names to disclose personal information.
        Tia lives in a yurt in central park.

        1. Tia Will

          Frankly
          Talk about hypocritical ! Maybe you have forgotten your very own post about me being someone who actually does walk the walk written shortly after you found out where I live, what kind and year of car I drive and every other question that you asked about my personal lifestyle.
          I have no idea what has brought out this aggressive streak in you, but you know full well where I live, and I have previously posted the square footage of my home, its age, and its location on this blog. You also know, because you and I discussed it in person as well as my reasons for downsizing. So if you really want to discuss something, say so. But please, no cheap shots posed as questions that you already know the answers to.

          1. Matt Williams

            He clearly has forgotten Tia. I’ve noticed quite an upsurge in neuron skips from Frankly lately. Maybe he needs to start taking a daily Calcium/Vitamin D supplement.

        2. Mark West

          I’ve noticed quite an upsurge in neuron skips from Frankly lately.

           

          Mr. Pot, this is Mr. Kettle. You two have much in common so I am sure you will get along famously.

          1. Matt Williams

            Mr. Pot, this is Mr. Kettle. You two have much in common so I am sure you will get along famously.

            Mr. Tongue, this is Mr. Cheek. You two have much in common so I am sure you will get along famously.

  17. Frankly

    Per the slow and no-growthers, we can solve our housing problem by building the innovation parks since this will lead to the degradation of Davis and hence fewer people will want to live here.

    It does really come down to the attraction of place.  Note that you can buy really cheap housing in Stockton.  Yet San Francisco is tremendously expensive.

    So I vote for the following City promotion to build more business parks to make Davis less attractive so that we can reduce our demand for housing from people that just like to live here. We need to be more like Stockton to solve our housing “crisis”.

    1. Miwok

      It does really come down to the attraction of place.  Note that you can buy really cheap housing in Stockton.  Yet San Francisco is tremendously expensive.

      And of course the line to commute to SF gets longer each day. It started in Modesto to San Jose years ago, another depressed housing market.

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