Analysis: How Do We Make Davis More Affordable to Families?

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On Tuesday Mayor Dan Wolk sang the praises of Cannery, which he said “reestablishes Davis as a leader in innovative housing.” But beneath that positive news is a clear concern. As the mayor noted, the cohort of those between 25 and 45 years old, “that demographic is shrinking.”

This he considers a real concern for the future of the city, part of which he put forth in his “Renew Davis” mantra. But what is interesting is if you look at his 2015 list of goals under “Renew Davis,” while he lists healthy families along with economic development, infrastructure, clean energy and local and regional partnerships, notably absent is any kind of initiative for housing for families.

It is not that this is a new concern – in fact, it was a key component of his 2012 election campaign.

He said in his announcement, one of his reasons for running was that he represents “a new generation of leadership in our community, one that is keenly aware of the challenges that my generation and my children’s generation are being saddled with… a lack of affordable housing for young and low-income families.”

He ran on this idea, stating, “The demographic data are clear: our city is aging, and there are fewer young households. While there is no shortage of parents who want to move to Davis because of our safe and outstanding parks and schools, our existing housing stock is unaffordable and often not well suited to new families. No affordable housing for families means less funding for our schools and even school closures. At the same time, many aging householders who wish to retire and remain in Davis want smaller, more accessible housing. If elected, I will spearhead these issues and make attracting and serving young families and developing a ‘senior housing strategy’ a top priority.”

But now, two and a half years after his resounding 2012 election and six months after his term as mayor began, there is little plan for how to change this. This is less of a criticism of Mr. Wolk and more of an acknowledgment of how difficult a problem this is to resolve.

The focus on the land use front has been on economic development. The next Measure R votes – whether it be on Nishi, Mace Ranch Innovation Center or Davis Innovation Center, whether it is one project or all three – will largely focus on the issue of economic development with right now only Nishi, a relatively small piece of land, having a housing component.

Obviously, Measure R represents a non-insignificant hurdle to any housing development. The last two peripheral projects to be put forth in the city of Davis since the passage of Measure J in 2000 were handily defeated. That included the large and soaring Covell Village project that went down 60-40 a decade ago in 2005, as well as the smaller Wild Horse Ranch projected defeated by nearly a three-to-one margin in 2009 during the heart of the real estate collapse.

However, as we have previously put forth, Measure R and before that Measure J do explain all of the downturn. Even before Measure J became a factor, Covell Village was said to be the last of the major peripheral subdivisions for the foreseeable future. The city had greatly expanded over the previous decade which led to the Measure J passage and even those on the more development-supportive side were seeing the writing on the wall.

Moreover, as Cannery – a non-Measure J property – demonstrates, even a modest 600-unit project – in town and without a voter requirement – is a significant hurdle. All we have to do is look at what has happened with Paso Fino, based on the objections of many to cutting down trees and paving over a greenbelt, to see that slow growth forces are alive and well and quite formidable, even absent a Measure R vote requirement.

So one of the questions we have going forward is how do we embrace the reality of the political landscape in Davis with regard to growth, and yet also address concerns that Dan Wolk and others have raised about the aging population, declining student enrollment, and the unaffordability of Davis to families? Or do we?

Dan Wolk puts forth Cannery as the project that “reestablishes Davis as a leader in innovative housing,” while many would argue that Cannery fell short of that standard. It was not net zero. It lacks basic connectivity to alternative transportation – an issue that will only become more evident as it becomes clear that Cannery will struggle to have the basic connectivity to the bike paths that were promised to the council upon the 3-2 vote in 2013.

Moreover, at 600 units, it does little to resolve the housing issues and affordability issues for families.

One idea that we have put forward would be for UC Davis to find ways to house more students, which would open up rental housing in town for families and older residents. That might open up housing stock, currently utilized by student populations that might be better served closer to campus.

While Nishi will have to resolve circulation issues, one way to address that might be high density student housing with no car requirements that could house a large number of students within walking and biking distance of both campus and downtown – take the students out of the core of the city and avoiding the circulation issues with the Richards underpass.

Are there other suggestions for addressing this problem during an era of slow growth, where we are unlikely to see another major peripheral housing development for 10 to 20 years?

The other way to address these issues is to not address housing directly. One of the ideas I put forward over the winter was creating a regional distribution system where Davis uses its proximity to the university to develop jobs and an innovation park, and other parts of the region are better able to provide those workers with cheap and affordable housing options.

So perhaps the answer is not to build housing but rather to build a transportation system that enables those workers to come to Davis without increasing their vehicle miles traveled.

What are some other thoughts? How does the mayor see this problem resolving itself?

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

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

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92 thoughts on “Analysis: How Do We Make Davis More Affordable to Families?”

  1. Alan Miller

    “How Do We Make Davis More Affordable to Families?”

    You can’t.

    Market forces determine the price of housing.

    J&R guarantee that Davis will forever remain an ever more increasingly insular bubble, limiting supply and thus increasing cost.

    Efforts such as so-called “affordable housing” filter millions through government, artificially lowering some prices for the very lowest of reportable income (non reported income of course isn’t counted for such persons), and thus the money extracted is a tax or essentially higher rent, plus the “double demand curve” of low income plus “the rest”, with the lower-middle-class the ones pinched out of Davis, those above the low-income line.

    Of course, politicians will use WORDS, “words” that sound like they are doing something.  The above, in Davis as it is in hell, creates a problem that allows for the need for a solution, and a politician to paint themselves as the solution.

    Same as it ever was, only worse.

    1. South of Davis

      Alan answers the question “How Do We Make Davis More Affordable to Families?” with “you can’t”

      Then says: “Of course, politicians will use WORDS, “words” that sound like they are doing something.”

      They will not just use WORDS, they will use our TAX MONEY to buy an “affordable” (multi-million dollar) apartment building like the Pacifico Co-Op on Drew Circle then let it sit over half empty for years.

      They will also use out TAX MONEY to fund things like the GAMAT/DACHA homes than use even more TAX MONEY to pay off the people that screwed up the GAMAT/DACHA homes.

      The city will then hold title to the “affordable” Pacifico and GAMAT/DACHA homes so the state and city don’t get the ~$200K in property tax (or any parcel taxes) from the property resulting in about $1 MILLION is lost TAX MONEY over the next 5 years.

  2. Frankly

    Davis is more affordable relative to a great number of California cities, and less affordable to others.

    I do disagree a bit with Alan above that we can’t make Davis more affordable, because the simple solution is to increase the supply of housing.  That we can do, but we won’t.  So I suppose then we can agree to do the Texas two-step and say we “can’t”.

    But getting back to my first point, this is really just a relative consideration.   Compared to San Francisco and most of the Bay Area Davis is a bargain!

    I live in West Davis where it takes me 10-15 minutes to drive to work, and about the same to bike to work depending on the traffic and weather.

    I have an employee that lives in a new development in Woodland.  He cannot bike to work in 10-15 minutes, but his drive is often shorter than mine.  He is a young man and he owns a house that is bigger than mine and for much less money.  He comes to Davis on a regular basis for his social life, but also to Sacramento.  And to get to Sacramento, he goes I-5 which tends to be much less of a headache than is I-80 over the causeway (which is getting to be one of California’s biggest traffic jam areas).

    I think we need to stop with this postulating that families unable to afford to live in Davis are victims unless we are willing to blow the doors off new housing development.   And this would mean much more peripheral development… and puts people not much closer in than they would be living in Woodland.

    Another way to look at this “problem” is to build innovation parks that bring in families making a good enough wage to afford Davis housing.   Then we start to adjust the demographic that is getting much too gray and much too smelling like dormitories and fraternities.

    1. South of Davis

      Frankly wrote:

      > I do disagree a bit with Alan above that we can’t make Davis more affordable,

      > because the simple solution is to increase the supply of housing.  

      Don’t forget the the “simple” solution to increase the “supply”of new housing will also drop the “value” of existing housing so don’t hold your breath waiting for the majority of Davis homeowners to vote for something that will reduce what they get when they sell their home…

      1. Frankly

        I agree.  And we also have have the farmland moat zealots.   And the change averse worriers.

        I agree that we won’t be building enough homes to address the supply problem, but it is the simple solution for more other communities.

        I had a friend visit from Boston who had previously lived in London, New York and San Francisco comment that he did not understand why we had housing issues with all the brown fields surrounding us (his visit was in October).  Then we talked about the movie The Giver, where the plot was an eventual failed attempt at a walled-off utopia.  I told him that is basically what the most powerful Davisites were attempting using inflated real estate prices and a farmland moat instead of a high-tech wall.  And then others that manage to afford the high real estate costs are understandably unwilling to approve any new supply increase that threatens to impact their home equity.

        Reading a book by a French economist who talks about France 200 years ago having 30 million and today 60 million… while at the same time the US went from 3 million to 310 million.   I see those Davisites fighting to prevent growth as wanting to create a sort of European small city like exists in France and other parts of Europe.  The problem is that the US population and demographics are not European-like.   There is a lot more pressure to accommodate housing and job needs for a much bigger pool of diverse and geographically-dynamic people.   I would be okay with the European utopia plan if those pushing it would get their head straight that they are actually causing the very problems they like to wring their hands about.  Social justice wants collide with this more selfish utopian vision.  And it leads to an ugly bit of hypocrisy where we get told that we need more smaller, cheaper and denser housing from people shouting from the window of one of their many standard-to-large-sized, hyper-inflated from growth constraints,  American single-family homes.

        The push back against innovation parks is very interesting because the most successful small and large European cities that Davis elites are attracted to have a strong local economy and plentiful jobs.

  3. Tia Will

    How Do We Make Davis More Affordable to Families?””

    I think that this question fails to address the question of “Which families are we talking about ?” Because the answer varies by group.

    1. The homeless. I think it is safe to say that this is not the group that Mayor Wolk was addressing, and yet those amongst the homeless that would accept them are in need of safer more secure options.

    2. Those supporting families in very tenuous situations with minimum wage or part time jobs and reliance on social services to fill in the unmet need ?  I am not seeing much about housing for this group either.

    3. Students. Several ideas already floated on this group and collaboration with the University would clearly  be the best approach if they are willing.

    4. Young professionals working to establish their careers. I think Frankly’s comments pertain to this group. Davis is a bargain by Bay area standards and expensive by comparison to other regional communities. What is our “obligation” to provide housing for this group ? In my opinion, none. These folks can make their decision whether or not they want a bigger house and the pros and cons thereof, or a smaller home here in Davis.My choice of the words “house” and “home” was deliberate as young professional families could choose to rent or buy a condo or duplex while saving up for the “dream home”. They do not need community help.

    5. Established professionals wanting to move to more luxurious digs. Same response as for number 4. The community has no obligation at all to “help” its wealthier citizens indulge their desires for more.

    6. The elderly. I believe that we do have an obligation to help those who have built constructive lives here in our community not be priced out of town. I believe that this could be achieved for exemptions for the elderly and disabled such that no one loses their home due to the increasing cost of amenities desired by others.

    7. The top 2 %. No one in our community should feel obligated to “help” the richest amongst us in any way at all whether that is with regard to housing or to “help” subsidize a business whether through provision of space or funds or by any other means. Those of us who have made it into this category have clearly demonstrated that we do not need community help and should behave accordingly.

     

     

    1. Mark West

      I believe that we do have an obligation to help those who have built constructive lives here in our community not be priced out of town.

      Why are people who have ‘built constructive lives’ more worthy of our concern and ‘obligation’ than those who are in the process of building their lives in town? There is no reason to single out one demographic or another for additional support, just make housing more affordable for all, and we do that by building more housing.  It really is as simple as that.

      Government run, affordable housing programs are a sham, especially as they have been operated in this town. Forget the political ploys and just build more homes.

        1. Mark West

          What is the point of demanding to know ‘where and how?’  I don’t own any land and I am not a developer, so I don’t have any way of determining ‘where and how.’  All I have done is state the obvious, it is up to the land owners/developers to propose where and how and for the City to decide the best options.

          Demanding to know all the answers before attempting to find solutions is why nothing gets done in this town. Makes more sense to put out a request for proposals and see how many good ideas come forward.

        2. Mark West

          Not possible?  Did we suddenly forget how to build houses?  What utter nonsense.

          I am not demanding anything.  I am stating the one obvious solution to the problem. The only way to make Davis more affordable is to build more housing.  If you are unwilling to use that one real solution, there really is no point in discussing the topic as every other option is just a political ploy to make people feel good.

           

        3. Mark West

          Yes, we have created more hoops that the community needs to jump through in order to solve our problems. No surprise there.  But that is not the same as saying we cannot do it.

          Building taller buildings allows for more housing on the same amount of land, but there are those in town who refuse to consider anything above four stories.  Is that because we don’t know how to build buildings with greater than four stories, or is it just someone’s artificial ‘demand.’  Do we need more detached sprawling houses, or could we build high density town homes instead?  How about high rise apartments?  There are lots of options for how to build more efficiently if we are willing to consider them, but we allow certain ‘demands’ to get in the way. What it all comes back to however is that you cannot solve the affordable housing issue unless you are willing to build more housing.  If you take that option off the table what you are saying is that you don’t really want to solve the problem.

      1. DavisBurns

        I encourage you to examine Mutual Housing before you paint all affordable housing with one brush. Mutual Housing owns and operates as a non-profit that manages their own properties.  I have found them to be well managed and more responsive to their residents than other affordable housing in Davis.

        i have to agree that the financing of affordable housing in general pays private contractors to provide low quality housing while making a guaranteed profit followed by guarenteed profits for private management companies who at held to low standards for repairs, maintenance and management with little or no oversite.

        At one decelopment in town, residents complained about a water sprinkler head watering a street light post and parking space for more than two years.  I put a picture of the offending sprinkler in operation during a rainstorm in a letter to the editor and a few weeks later it was fixed.  The repairs made to the units were sub standard and would not be tolerated by renters who had any other choices for renting.

        1. Mark West

          MarkW:  Government run, affordable housing programs are a sham,

          DB:  I encourage you to examine Mutual Housing before you paint all affordable housing with one brush.

          Is Mutual Housing government run?  My paint brush was pointed at the City’s efforts at operating affordable housing programs.  If Mutual Housing is not run by the City, then I didn’t ‘paint it.’  If it is, then you may have found an exception to the rule.

      2. Tia Will

        Why are people who have ‘built constructive lives’ more worthy of our concern and ‘obligation’ than those who are in the process of building their lives in town?”

        I thought this was a really good question so I gave it some thought.

        It is not that any one group is “more worthy”. For me, this is about future potential weighed against future need. Those who are retiring are much less likely to be in a circumstance ever again in their lives to bolster their income significantly. Most of us will be living the rest of our lives on some combination of our pension ( assuming we are lucky enough to have one), our savings and investments ( assuming that we have been either fortunate  and/or prudent enough to acquire enough) and social security.

        The balance is different from those just starting out. A young couple have many years ahead of them in which to make choices allowing them to build material wealth if that is how they choose to allocate their resources.

        The question for me is not who is more worthy. It is who has more ability to make the choices that will ensure their desired level of income in the future. I was addressing possible need, not worthiness.

    2. Alan Miller

      “Those of us who have made it into this category have clearly demonstrated that we do not need community help and should behave accordingly.”

      My neighbor a 2%’er?  I had no idea!

      1. Tia Will

        Alan

        “I had no idea”

        Neither did I !!!!

        I am using previously posted numbers from Frankly and/or Don (don’t recall which) and combined income. What a surprise !

  4. Anon

    It lacks basic connectivity to alternative transportation – an issue that will own become more evident as it becomes clear that Cannery will struggle to have the basic connectivity to the bike paths that were promised to the council upon the 3-2 vote in 2013.

    How does the Cannery “lack basic connectivity to alternative transportation”?

    From what I have heard, outside investors are snapping up homes in Davis to rent to students.  These investors are from as far away as China.  Unless and until the university builds more housing for students, housing prices in Davis will be high.

    1. Davis Progressive

      i think the complaint right now is that the developers are reneging on an agreement to put two below grade crossings on the property which will make it difficult for bicyclists and pedestrians to have access.  my concern has always been that people living on the north end would have trouble accessing transit lines.

      1. Anon

        Is the developer reneging on an agreement to put two below grade crossings on the property?  My understanding is that the developer agreed to only one below grade crossing.  Tried to research the issue, and the only thing I came up with is one such crossing.

        1. Davis Progressive

          Here’s the clearest explanation: https://www.davisvanguard.org/will-commitments-on-grade-separated-crossings-at-cannery-be-fulfilled/

          now as i understand it, it’s the southwest crossing – part of the project – that is the one in question.

  5. Davis Progressive

    i think overall the housing issue is a point worth driving home – we hear lamenting about the declining younger demographics, so what is the solution?  i miss mr. toad.

  6. Alan Pryor

    How Do We Make Davis More Affordable to Families?

    Tia Wills noted the main concern is and should be for

    2. Those supporting families in very tenuous situations with minimum wage or part time jobs and reliance on social services to fill in the unmet need ?  I am not seeing much about housing for this group either.”

    Rather than worrying about making housing cheaper, an obvious alternative is to raise their incomes by requiring a livable minimum wage in Davis.

    South of Davis noted

    Of course, politicians will use WORDS, “words” that sound like they are doing something.”

    A very good example of using words that mean nothing was reported by Davis Greenwald in his request column on a minimum wage

    “Mayor Wolk was asked to weigh in on minimum wage. “I really respect the desire to raise the minimum wage,” he said. The state has raised it to $10 per hour. He noted the desire to raise it beyond that. “We have a very high poverty rate in California, one of the highest in the nation at almost 25 percent. That poverty is here in Davis as well and an effective tool to combat that is the minimum wage.”

    Mayor Wolk did not directly address the $15 per hour proposal but said that Mayor Kevin Johnson of Sacramento has convened a task force that will look into the issue more and he thinks that will be informative.
     
    “I think Davis is going to benefit from the work that’s done by that task force,” Mayor Wolk said.

    He said he’s very supportive of raising the minimum wage, but also cognizant that this will impact small businesses. “So for Davis to raise it without other cities, without it being a statewide effort, there are concerns with that,” he said.”

    Well, the truth is that no work has been done by “that task force” because “that task force” has not even started any work yet. What Kevin Johnson of Sac is actually doing is leaning heavily on preliminary work done by Rahm Emmanual in Chicago. When Mayor Johnson appearred before the Sacramento Central Labor Council last year to ask for their support for his Strong Mayor Initiatives, Mayor Johnson in turn deferred to Rahm Emmanuel’s Chicago task force and mentioned a very qualified proposal on $11 or $12.

    Mayor Wolk deferring to Mayor Johnson who is in turn is deferring to Mayor Emmanuel is about as evasive as it can get.  Mayor Wolk further qualifies his “support” by saying “there are concerns...” “…for Davis to raise it without other cities, without it being a statewide effort.  Functionally, these are just placating Words, Word, Words and do not at all indicate active support for a liveable minimum wage.

    1. Don Shor

      Hi Alan,

      Since I see you’re checking in on this thread before the comment section goes on too long, I’ll repeat two questions I asked on the previous thread on the $15 wage you want to mandate:

      If a living wage in Yolo County is $10.42/hr, and a reasonable wage for a teenager is probably $9 – 10/hr, why are you advocating for $15/hour?

      Who are the officers of Davis Citizens for a Living Wage?

      1. Alan Pryor

        To Don –

        If a living wage in Yolo County is $10.42/hr, and a reasonable wage for a teenager is probably $9 – 10/hr, why are you advocating for $15/hour?

        I do not believe $10.42 is a living wage in Yolo Co without reliance on a whole slew of government social programs to keep workers out of poverty which I know are opposed by all good conservatives. Also, I am advocating only for a higher minimum wage for Davis which has a much higher cost of living than Yolo Co… and Davis also has a 25%+ poverty rate according to the latest census statistics.

        I also do not believe that a $9-10/hour wage will support a teenager living on their own either. Besdies, studies in Seattle and San Francisco have shown that well over 90% of minimum wage workers are in their 20s or older. I am also oppossed to a separate lesser minimum wage rate for teenagers because it is age discrimination and unscrupulous employees wil simply hire a flock of teenagers and lay off older workers to keep their payroll as low as possible.

        Who are the officers of Davis Citizens for a Living Wage?

        The FPPC only requires a Treasurer as a formal officer of a campaign committee and I am and have been the only Treasurer of Davis Citizens for a Living Wage since its inception last year. Our other “acting” officers are rotating but comprised solely of union and non-union workers and UCD students.

        1. Barack Palin

          Davis also has a 25%+ poverty rate according to the latest census statistics.

          How many of those are college students who are subsidized by college loans and their parents?  I don’t feel they should be included in any Davis poverty count. I put two kids through college and they received some loans, money from mom and dad and worked part time on the side. I’m sure they fell under the state or federal poverty level line, but by no means were they in poverty.

        2. Davis Progressive

          unless they are graduate students with families, probably a very low percentage of college students would be listed in poverty.  22% of davis public school students are title one for example.

          1. Matt Williams

            Don, is $2,863 of combined Federal and California Income Taxes on a gross income of $21,667 realistic? That is an effective taxation rate of 13.2%, which seems pretty low. In addition, the 2014 Social Security withholding rate is 12.4% (according to Table 3 on Page 31 of IRS Publication 15 … see http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p15.pdf), and the 2014 Medicare witholding rate is 2.9%. Combined SSI and Medicare would appear to add 15.3% ($3,315) to the $21,667.

          2. Don Shor

            As you know, the employee doesn’t pay 12.4% or 2.9%. Those are matched amounts. Federal and state income tax at that income level would be almost nothing.
            Edited to add this from the IRS: “The current tax rate for Social Security is 6.2% for the employer and 6.2% for the employee, or 12.4% total. The current rate for Medicare is 1.45% for the employer and 1.45% for the employee, or 2.9% total.”

          3. Matt Williams

            Actually Don, I rely on H&R Block and as a result did not know that. I should have read the following text on pages 23 and 24 …

            For 2015, the social security tax rate is 6.2% (amount withheld) each for the employer and employee (12.4% to-tal). The social security wage base limit is $118,500. The tax rate for Medicare is 1.45% (amount withheld) each for the employee and employer (2.9% total). There is no wage base limit for Medicare tax; all covered wages are subject to Medicare tax.

            So the SSI and Medicare percentages are an aggregate 7.55% or $1,645, leaving only $1,167 for Federal Income Tax and California Income Tax combined. Using the Form 1040EZ instructions, the $21,799 gross income nets down to $11,649 of taxable income after the standard deduction of $10,150. The tax on $11,649 is $1,290, which is further netted down to $1,059 after a $231 Earned Income credit. That leaves $108 for the California Income Tax, which is 1.0% of taxable income up to $7,749 and 2.0% of taxable income over $7,749 up to $18,371. That works out to a bit more than $108, but close enough.

        3. Davis Progressive

          don is right but the caveat is that it’s a living wage for a single person with no children. otoh, not sure how they calculate medical that low.

          1. Don Shor

            Medical for someone in that income bracket would be even lower now. But that isn’t what’s at issue. I want to know how Alan Pryor arrived at $15/hour. Please show me the data.

        4. Don Shor

          unscrupulous employees wil simply hire a flock of teenagers and lay off older workers to keep their payroll as low as possible.

          Which unscrupulous employers in Davis will do this? Please be specific.

      2. Alan Miller

        “Hi Alan,
        Since I see you’re checking in on this thread before the comment section goes on too long, ”

        I glance occasionally and bounce around.

        “I’ll repeat two questions I asked on the previous thread on the $15 wage you want to mandate:”

        I WHAT?!?!???

        I advocate for ELIMINATING the minimum wage completely!  You must be confusing me with someone else.

        “If a living wage in Yolo County is $10.42/hr, and a reasonable wage for a teenager is probably $9 – 10/hr, why are you advocating for $15/hour?”

        I’m NOT! (see above)

        “Who are the officers of Davis Citizens for a Living Wage?”

        Hell if I know.

        OK, I’ve had it.  This is parallel to the incident when a City employee accused me of “written abuse” on the Vanguard and I found out about it a week later when someone mentioned it to me and I went “WHAT?!???”.  I could just as easily missed this completely wrong comment from DS and it would have looked like I advocate for a minimum wage. The Vanguard needs a subscription to comments, so we are informed when someone comments on our comments.  Few people, including me, can read the sheer volume of comments here.

        I hate to think what else I’ve missed . . . say what? WHAT?!??? . . . NO! I never advocated for the crushing of puppies!

        Jeez.

        1. Alan Miller

          “I hate to break it to you, but there is more than one person named Alan posting on the Vanguard.”

          Well, OK, sorry Don.  It did seem out of character for you to make such a glaring error.

    2. Barack Palin

      Alan, do you know the numbers on how many of these Davis minimum wage jobs are held by high school students just making some money on the side?  Are college students that are subsidized by loans and their parents?  Are waiters and bartenders who receive much, if not most of their pay through tips?  How many of these are just second income jobs for couples where the main earner makes a good living?  I don’t think there’s all that many people in Davis that are trying to survive on just a minimum wage job, though that’s what these minimum wage activists would have you believe.

      1. Alan Pryor

        To Palin

        …do you know the numbers on how many of these Davis minimum wage jobs are held by high school students just making some money on the side?

        No I don’t know the number…do you? Do you also  know how many local employers hire teenagers to avoid paying higher wages to others that need the money to support a family. In Seattle, almost 20% of minimum wage earners are working Moms that are the primary wage earners for their families. Almost 40% of minimum wage earners are people of color

        …Are college students that are subsidized by loans and their parents?

        I don’t consider a student loan a subsidy anymore than I consider a car or home loan a subsidy.

         I don’t think there’s all that many people in Davis that are trying to survive on just a minimum wage job, though that’s what these minimum wage activists would have you believe.

        I suspect the circles you run in are mostly populated by elderly and comparatively well-to-do folks on rather high-paying government jobs or retirees living on fairly fat pensions and that you probably don’t mix much with the younger plebian masses struggling to make it. But just take a look at almost all of the young employees that work in downtown Davis, Target, and almost any other non-unionized or non-professional job in Davis and the vast majority are struggling to survive on minimum wage jobs. I know because I have asked them.

        1. Don Shor

          Do you also know how many local employers hire teenagers to avoid paying higher wages to others that need the money to support a family.

          Second time now that you’ve maligned Davis employers. So do you know the answer to that question, Alan? Please be specific.

          1. Don Shor

            The fact is, Alan, most of us pay a living wage. We pay more than minimum wage. But we don’t pay $15/hour. $15/hour is more than a living wage in Davis and Yolo County. You don’t seem willing to describe how you arrived at your $15/hour mandatory minimum wage as being a ‘living wage’ here. My guess, since it is the same rate being promoted by union-backed campaigns elsewhere, is that it is in fact arbitrary. But if you have data to support $15/hour as a living wage here, please provide it. And please stop maligning Davis employers.

        2. Barack Palin

          Most of the younger workers I know from the downtown area work in the food business and are doing quite well when their tips are considered even though they don’t show much of their tip income on their 1040’s.  As far as what circles I run in you have no clue Alan and I’ll bet I fit into the commoner class more than you.  Where do you come off with your snipes that I’m somehow living off a fat pension and that I don’t mix with the peasants just because I think your $15 minimum wage proposal has not been thought through properly and is misguided?

        3. South of Davis

          Alan wrote:

          > Do you also know how many local employers hire teenagers to avoid

          > paying higher wages to others that need the money to support a family.

          I never thought that the guy that hired me for my first after school job at $3/hour was just trying to avoid hiring an older guy who would be “supporting” his family on the $75/week I made…

    3. Frankly

      The minimum wage in San Francisco is currently $10.74 and liberals in that community voted to raise it to $15 over three years.

      SF’s median rent is $3,200.

      Davis’s media rent is $1,229… which is almost exactly what the median rent for the state ($1,209).

      So Mr. Pryor, you got some splainin’ to do with your crusade to raise the Davis minimum wage to SF levels.

      Woodland median rent is $995.  Seems you can move there and also afford a loan payment for a battery-powered car.

       

      1. Alan Pryor

        To Frankly

        SF’s median rent is $3,200.

        If you earn a minimum wage in San Francisco you are almost certainly living in  an apartment where an entire family lives in a single bedroom. Is that what you think is appropriate? How many of you are anti-minimum wage hike-types are living like that?

        I find the attitudes of many of the “boomers” posting here to be rather self-serving. It seems that many think that since our boomer generation “got ours” that we owe nothing to the X-generation and millenials. I think otherwise. Boomers prospered on the backs of an economic juggernaut produced by the preceeding hard-working “greatest” generation of our parents that gave us an almost free university education subsidized by the government and in which the minimum wage was almost twice what it is today in constant 2014 dollars. In return we have managed to slash real minimum wages for our young, price a university education out of the reach of most, dramatically cut our own tax rates compared even to the Reagan era, and given many of ourselves inflated unsutainable pensions that will crush the upcoming generations…and all the while telling ourselves “we earned it”. IMHO, boomers morphed from our parent’s “greatest” generation to the “greediest” generation in a space of about 25 years. Congratulations!

        1. Frankly

          I think you and I are completely on the same page on this “Boomers got ours and so screw the younger generations” concept.  We just seem to disagree how to patch it up.

          We have to go back almost 40 years to get to the high number of discouraged and under-employed workers.   We like to talk about income inequity, but we should be talking about the large and growing gap in the number of jobs relative to the population.  We should also be talking about crappy education and skills gaps.

          I am one of those reasonably-well off boomers, but I didn’t just get plopped out of my mommy’s womb that way.   In fact, she took me back home from the hospital to our Midwestern single-wide trailer family home.  From there I worked and climbed up the prosperity ladder.

          And I get that there are too many people stuck on the lower rungs… and I understand the emotional tug to lift them up to get those people a better view.

          But raising the minimum wage eliminates those lower steps for a larger percentage of people that need them.   It also bunches more people that had started to climb with those that got their artificial boost… increasing competition at the higher pay levels and thus kicking those with less skills (e.g., the most vulnerable) off the ladder but now with fewer employment opportunities.

          Income inequity is not solved by raising the minimum wage.  Other than the negative impact to the supply of jobs… primarily entry-level jobs, it is a highly inefficient income redistribution scheme.  Labor and wages are highly taxed by the government, so for every $1.00 of actual cash going to the worker, it will cost the business about $1.35 and the employee about $.35 (after all the tax implications).

          We should instead work on increasing the supply of jobs, and decreasing the population of low-skilled workers.   And then the market will much more efficiently solve our income inequity problems.

    4. TrueBlueDevil

      And raising the minimum wage raises the cost of food for our high school and college students, along with other costs which depend upon low-skill workers.

      1. Barack Palin

        And, as has been pointed out, raising the minimum wage raises all other wages as the former $15/hr. worker will now want $18/HR, the former $20 worker will now want $25/hr. and so on and so on……

        Talk about local inflation with employers dumping jobs and customers going elsewhere.  I don’t think the thinking behind this proposal is very sound.

    1. Alan Pryor

      To Davis Burns

      We seem to have strayed from the topic of housing.

      Actually the topic was “affordable” housing. The ability of low wage workers earning substandard non-livable wages to pay for housing is intimately connected to the topic

       

    2. Don Shor

      We have. Alan can write an op-ed for the Vanguard.

      I continue to hope that a couple of our current council members will press the university to keep to the housing percentages they agreed to some years ago. The common refrain I get from no-growth folks about the housing needs of young adults here is that “UC should build more dorms.” And we have pro-business park proponents saying the same thing. So there won’t be much acceptance of annexing land for even high-density housing if it doesn’t look like UCD will keep their part of the bargain.

      UCD doesn’t house the percentage of their student enrollment they promised, and the problem is getting worse, not better. Basically, we need a whole second West Village, and several hundred more apartments. Until that happens, rental demand will overwhelm anything else that gets built.

      Unfortunately, young adults are not a significant political constituency, in spite of their numbers.

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        The campus owns over 6,000 acres, and it seems like much of it lays fallow. The campus could also buy more land, as is significantly easier to do so here than in Los Angeles, Berkeley or San Diego.

        1. Frankly

          Ok… you are advocating both.

          Both would potentially use farm land.

          The city does not get tax revenue from UCD housing, but it also does not suffer the longer term cost-exceed-revenue impacts.

          I was under the impression you preferred that UCD take care of its own housing needs, and I was curious to your cost-benefit views.

          1. Don Shor

            Ok… you are advocating both.
            Both would potentially use farm land.

            We don’t have any choice. The university forced this on the city with the 2020 Initiative. Minimize the loss of good farmland to the greatest extent possible. But we need something like 10,000 beds.

            However, getting Davis voters to accept something that has been forced on them by an oblivious UC administration is likely to be very challenging.

      2. Alan Miller

        “Alan can write an op-ed for the Vanguard.”

        I will, about how the editor of the Vanguard needs to check the name of the person they are talking about before commenting.

  7. TrueBlueDevil

    I think a more realistic comparison, which some have hinted at, is to look at Davis-Woodland-Dixon as a whole, who provide housing to the same area.

    When you create a desirable area to live, you drive prices up. Given these facts, and I’ll try not to tilt at windmills, I’ll mention a few items.

    1. Promote / encourage more granny units on existing single-family lots, which might free up a few of the primary residences for younger families.

    2. Encourage some more large-unit living right next to campus – i.e., fraternities, etc.

    3. There has been the suggestion that down the road Toomey Field may one day be moved, that would be a perfect spot for on-campus dormitories where students can walk to campus and downtown.

    4. Develop more duplexes, townhomes, and smaller homes.

    5. Are there any planes for any more desirable senior housing in town, which might attract some to move out of their single-family home?

  8. Frankly

    Do you also know how many local employers hire teenagers to avoid paying higher wages to others that need the money to support a family.

    This comment is helpful for me to understand the thinking of someone pushing for big minimum wage hikes.  It appears to be one where businesses just happen and jobs and wages are a social construct… versus the economic construct (reality) where jobs are the product of business starts and grow… and that does not happen without capital, enterprising hard work and risk-taking… and wages are simply consideration for the value of labor provided the business.

    If a lower-wage teenager can do the job, why should a business pay someone more just because he/she needs to support a family?

    In the social construct void of consideration for longer-term social consequences one can make the case that society should force the business to pay a wage high enough to support that low-skilled worker needing to support his/her family.  Again, without giving much thought or attention to the social impact of fewer jobs for teenagers.

    It seems too that this social construct view includes the expectation that business will just accept the changes and without too much disturbance,  business will just continue on.  Yes, maybe with some increase in prices, but business owners are raking it in and they can afford a drop in pay.

    But again, this is not reality.  Reality is that already there is too little capital invested in enterprise that produces jobs.   Instead more capital goes into the giant casino of financial markets where people make money on money… not on the sweat and toil of starting and growing businesses that make things and hire people to do so.   This why our stock market is exploding as real unemployment is at all time lows.  This is why our stock market is exploding as income and wealth inequity continue to grow.

    Every day there is a stack of business ideas being considered.  Those business ideas include a business plan with financial projections and assumptions.   Those financial projections must demonstrate a return to attract the needed start-up operating capital.   By increasing the cost of labor we just eliminated a percentage of business ideas from the stack.   And we have also upset some of the existing businesses that made assumption of the cost of labor that is now significantly higher… and put those businesses at risk of failure.   And some of those will get creative to reduce the cost of labor to offset the government mandates to increase the cost of labor… and they will do so at the expense of jobs.

    It is the economic construct that we need to be focusing on because of the long-term social implications.

    Housing is the most expensive budget item for people at the bottom rungs of society.  We can work to reduce the cost of housing and we can work to increase wages.   But is we approach these two things from a social construct perspective, we risk screwing it up for the long-haul… and we cause a lot of other social damage in the process.

     

    1. Miwok

      If a lower-wage teenager can do the job, why should a business pay someone more just because he/she needs to support a family?

      I have not been chosen for jobs because another applicant “had a family”. So I am not sure what you are thinking there. In another they gave bonuses based on their perceived “need” of the guys with families.

      I learned something from that experience, that you can’t get married without money, and you can’t keep a girl without getting raises in your job, or she feels you are useless too.

      1. South of Davis

        Alan wrote:

        > I have not been chosen for jobs because another applicant “had a family”.

        I was told years ago when I was single that I got a job over a more experienced guy with a family since they knew I would be able to work longer hours and go on more business trips without complaining…

  9. Alan Pryor

    To Barack Palin

    “As far as what circles I run in you have no clue Alan and I’ll bet I fit into the commoner class more than you.  Where do you come off with your snipes that I’m somehow living off a fat pension and that I don’t mix with the peasants”

    I think the fact that you refer to low wage workers as “peasants” answers your own question.

  10. Aggie

    One idea that we have put forward would be for UC Davis to find ways to house more students, which would open up rental housing in town for families and older residents. That might open up housing stock, currently utilized by student populations that might be better served closer to campus.

    Not to nit-pick, but in light of the recent Dan Carson critique it should be pointed out that this is not an idea put forward by the Vanguard.  It dates back at least to the update of the Housing Element.  Maybe someone can post the specifics.  I remember a loosely organized political effort to demand that UCD provide significantly more on-campus housing.  Don’t remember if it resulted in a resolution or actual agreement, or whether something was adopted.  Displacement of  other residents by students is a long-recognized problem that has gotten plenty of air-time during the debates over Measures J/R and the city’s growth policies.

    1. Don Shor

      UCD actually agreed some years ago to provide a certain amount of housing; I don’t know whether it was a percentage, or a number of units, or what. Eileen Samitz knows the specifics of that. But they haven’t done so, as I understand it.

      1. Aggie

        If there was an actual MOU or other agreement, that is an important document that needs to resurface.

        >>>>> Investigative journalism low hanging fruit alert <<<<<

        1. Don Shor

          Here’s a starting point for the investigative journalist:

          “As reported in the UC system wide “UC Housing for the 21st Century” report, UC has system wide goals of providing housing for 41% of its student population by 2007 and for 42% by 2015. The system wide planned average for the provision of on-campus housing is 38%. UCD’s goal has been to provide on-campus housing that accommodates 40% of its student population for 2001 through 2015. UCD plans to accommodate 36% of the student housing according to its current LRDP. UCD is the largest UC campus with over 5,000 acres and can accommodate more on-campus student housing. Also, Davis is a relatively small city and should not be expected to house a disproportionately large number of students for a city its size.
          Existing On-Campus Housing Provisions and Future Goals, As Stated in the Current UC Davis Long-range Development Plan
          “In 2001-02, on-campus student housing accommodated approximately 5,800 UC Davis students, or approximately 23 percent of the student population.”

          http://cityofdavis.org/Media/Default/Documents/PDF/CDD/Advance-Planning/2008-Housing-GPU/pdfs/Updated-Housing-Element-201002/Appendix-Q-UC-Davis-Goals-in-the-Provision-of-On-Campus-Student-Housing.pdf

        2. Aggie

          Thanks Don.  My interpretation of the link is that the council adopted the goal of striking an agreement with UCD in 2005 – which was reaffirmed in 2008 and is now part of the Housing Element. Can’t find any evidence online that UCD has agreed to anything.

  11. South of Davis

    Don can’t seen to get Alan to answer “Who are the officers of Davis Citizens for a Living Wage?”

    Does anyone know if there is a web site where we can look something like this up?

  12. Aggie

    The other way to address these issues is to not address housing directly. One of the ideas I put forward over the winter was creating a regional distribution system where Davis uses its proximity to the university to develop jobs and an innovation park, and other parts of the region are better able to provide those workers with cheap and affordable housing options.
    So perhaps the answer is not to build housing but rather to build a transportation system that enables those workers to come to Davis without increasing their vehicle miles traveled. David Greenwald

    Most of “those workers” are going to drive to work.  Many of “those workers” are going to decide to live in Davis, and will bid up the price of our existing housing stock to levels that will provide property owners (like myself) with a massive windfall.

    There is no way to build out millions of square feet of innovation park (a very good source of sustainable revenue for the General Fund) with zero traffic or housing impacts. It’s better to honestly deal with these issues up front than to speculate about unrealistic scenarios where traffic goes down and the new workforce decides to commute to Davis. Not going to happen. Sorry.

  13. Anon

    Davis Progressive 

    January 9, 2015 at 10:07 am

    i think the complaint right now is that the developers are reneging on an agreement to put two below grade crossings on the property which will make it difficult for bicyclists and pedestrians to have access.  my concern has always been that people living on the north end would have trouble accessing transit lines.

    Reply


    Anon 
    January 9, 2015 at 10:32 am

    Is the developer reneging on an agreement to put two below grade crossings on the property?  My understanding is that the developer agreed to only one below grade crossing.  Tried to research the issue, and the only thing I came up with is one such crossing.

    Reply


    Davis Progressive 
    January 9, 2015 at 10:41 am

    Here’s the clearest explanation: https://www.davisvanguard.org/will-commitments-on-grade-separated-crossings-at-cannery-be-fulfilled/
    now as i understand it, it’s the southwest crossing – part of the project – that is the one in question.”

    In regard to the exchange between myself and DP, the Vanguard article DP refers me to says: “The Davis City Council by a 3-2 vote back in November approved the Cannery Project, which included a plan for an easement to the south with the project applicants also agreeing to contribute to funding though the Covell Blvd. Corridor Plan that MIGHT lead to a second grade-separated crossing between J and L Street. A second at grade-separated crossing was never promised! The Cannery was willing to contribute a set amount to the Covell Blvd. Corridor Plan, but that did not necessarily include a second grade-separated crossing.

  14. Anon

    Let me rewrite my comment, because I lost the appropriate formatting:

    “In regard to the exchange between myself and DP, the Vanguard article DP refers me to says: “The Davis City Council by a 3-2 vote back in November approved the Cannery Project, which included a plan for an easement to the south with the project applicants also agreeing to contribute to funding though the Covell Blvd. Corridor Plan that MIGHT lead to a second grade-separated crossing between J and L Street.” A second at grade-separated crossing was never promised! The Cannery was willing to contribute a set amount to the Covell Blvd. Corridor Plan, but that did not necessarily include a second grade-separated crossing.

  15. Gunrocik

    UCD actually agreed some years ago to provide a certain amount of housing; I don’t know whether it was a percentage, or a number of units, or what. Eileen Samitz knows the specifics of that. But they haven’t done so, as I understand it.

    Don, I am going to post this link for the third time in the past two months:

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

    This letter effectively forecloses the University building any more housing in West Village without paying a huge premium.  It kills the proposed faculty/staff housing north of West Village, it imposes a $40 million added cost that the university will have to find to  pay the penalty for not paying prevailing wage on the existing West Village and it ensures that any other housing the university proposes will have to be heavily subsidized due to the cost of prevailing wage.  And of course, since we set the tone with zero net energy at West Village (which we haven’t really achieved) we will have to pay a huge premium to build additional housing at zero net energy.

    While the university is allowed to charge a premium for rent to its students and we have free land — the barriers noted above mean that someone else is going to have to help house the next 5,000 students and 1,000 faculty and staff.  As I noted before, Nishi has the possibility of making that partially happen — but the amount of up front costs to prepare Nishi for development are still unknown.  Railroad undercrossings, road widenings, freeway modifications and utility extensions don’t come cheap.  In addition, high density housing construction isn’t getting any cheaper either — and if the community insists on zero net energy and an overkill of bike/ped connections — it may not pencil out.

    Bottom line, we are going to continue to have a housing shortage — it is going to get worse, and it could get much worse without Nishi and with the Innovation Parks.  Every time I think about it, I realize I need to buy more homes near campus and turn them into legal mini dorms!

    Probably wouldn’t hurt to buy homes near the freeway in Dixon and Woodland as well.  Employment and student population in Davis will continue to grow.

    1. Don Shor

      the barriers noted above mean that someone else is going to have to help house the next 5,000 students and 1,000 faculty and staff.

      But they won’t. We are at a standoff with regard to housing for young adults in Davis. So since nothing will be done, either by the university or by private developers, I guess we might as well stop being concerned about it. The city and UCD made an unenforceable agreement (not sure if there is an actual MOU).

      Dixon and Woodland will house the young professionals that wish to work in our new business parks. And the students will just cram into whatever housing they can. I don’t think there’s a single council member who has enough concern about this issue to take it up with UCD.

      Any mitigation needs to focus on regional transportation.

      1. Aggie

        Dixon and Woodland will house the young professionals that wish to work in our new business parks.

        Dixon and Woodland will house the displaced residents that can’t afford to compete with highly paid tech professionals for the limited available housing in Davis.

  16. Tia Will

    Don

    I largely agree with your scenario, but see it from a more positive perspective. As one of those students who just crammed into whatever housing they could find, which for me meant apartment and in some cases room sharing, and then buying a very small, modest home and then purchasing up, followed by eventual downsizign, I do not see this as a terrible fate.

    From the regional point of view, this might be seen as helping the economies of both Woodland and Dixon since these young professional families will doubtless be doing the bulk of their shopping and entertainment expenditures in those communities. After all, if they are seen as good for a vibrant Davis, surely they would make for a more “vibrant” Woodland and Dixon also.

    From the point of view of transportation if we were to actively incentivize the use of transportation modalities other than the private automobile. The current and immediate future “young professional” cadre do not seem to be as closely bonded to the model of the private vehicle as previous generations. Perhaps this represents the beginning of a major change to a more sustainable model of transportation. That would be a win-win for Davis and the surrounding communities.

  17. Dave Hart

    By this point in the discussion, probably none cares about the initial question that was addressed somewhat concretely only by Davis Burns…Mutual Housing…which sounds interesting but I don’t know what it is precisely.  I imagine it could be something like a framework for providing group financing to lower the individual costs.  More details would be welcome.  Also, the idea of smaller housing was raised but so long ago I forgot by who.  Otherwise it seems the potential value for collective intelligence has been undermined by the venom stored up for minimum/living wage.  This is one of my recurrent complaints about the commenters on the DV…hijacking what might be a frutful discussion and moving it off-topic.  But, I digress into off-topic disucussion.

    When I moved to town, there was an ordinance that required home buyers to live in the house they purchased.  That sure would take care of the speculation in housing by people who want to see future high housing prices.  I don’t remember the politics of why that ordinance was overturned.  Housing was relatively lower-priced at the time and wonder if anyone out there has any verifiable data on how that ordinance impacted local real estate prices.

    If I had to take a lower price on the sale of my house because potential buyers who are speculating are not part of the market equation, I would see that as acceptable.  Under current prices being paid I could accept up to a 15% reduction in price received.  Would that make us competitive with surrounding communities and more affordable, or is it too little to matter?

    1. hpierce

      Pretty sure (99.32%) that the homeowner occupancy requirement only pertained to city-required affordable housing, not market rate units.  There was abuse of that ordinance, as I recall.

      1. Anon

        I agree.  I doubt very much that an ordinance requiring occupancy would be enforceable in the private housing market.  And the affordable housing ordinance was horribly abused.

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