My View: The University Has a Real Problem with Housing

UCD Long Range Development Plan
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UCD Long Range Development Plan
UCD Long Range Development Plan

The university has been working on its LRDP (Long Range Development Plan) for several months now, but the plan has a lot of flaws so far and it is not clear how the university is going to accommodate its anticipated growth.

There is a good editorial in the Enterprise this week that very clearly and succinctly lays out the dilemma. UC Davis has already exceeded its 2020 goal of 35,000 students and the Enterprise notes “UCD is actually going to have to slow down its rate of growth not to exceed that 39,000-mark in 2027.”

My guess is that UC Davis will far exceed 40,000 well before 2027, which raises the question as to where these students are going to live.

The short answer is: “Even in our highest on-campus housing scenario, we do not anticipate being able to house every new student.” From our perspective that’s not a good answer.

The breakdown of the possibilities is not encouraging. As the Enterprise notes, UC Davis built West Village, after long delays and over the objections of West Davis residents, to accommodate this growth. But, as the Enterprise notes, “not only has the development fallen short of its housing goals, its distance from the campus core exacerbates a second issue with all this growth: transportation.”

That brings us to Nishi which figures, right now at least, to house about 1500 students or, at least, renters. As I have noted previously, while it is true that the property cannot restrict renters to students, the reality is that the majority of renters there are likely to be students. If researchers or seniors wish to live in the close proximity of the downtown and university and be surrounded by students, who are we to say no to them.

The issue of housing needs and greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution, along with congestion, has led the Vanguard to push for Nishi to become denser but to accommodate fewer vehicles. While the developer has indicated the willingness to increase housing by 20 percent and reduce some parking, the Vanguard wishes it would and could go further.

The problem with Nishi is that the Measure R voting process and concerns about everything from air quality to Richards Boulevard congestion makes the project, at best, an unknown at this point.

The Enterprise is even more critical of UC Davis’ latest proposals calling for “more three-to-a-room dorms and master leases in Davis apartment complexes,” which they call “woefully short.” The Enterprise adds, “Simply stuffing more students into the existing infrastructure won’t solve the problem, and master leases won’t create extra rooms in the city. Given the housing crunch in town, and the environmental need for walkability, the university is in dire need of dense housing on campus. The next question is where.”

The problem is there is no clear answer as to where. If we look at the map, one place they identify is the former Toomey Field. The Enterprise is skeptical, saying, “It’s logistically sensible, but do we want to see all that open space — what has been the green gateway to campus all these years — turned into high-rises? Will tall, dense housing there undermine Davis’ small-town atmosphere?”

In fact, the Enterprise doesn’t go far enough. UC Davis’ answer to housing is to drop a bombshell into the lap of Davis. As one councilmember told the Vanguard this week, putting that much housing right on Russell would be disastrous for Davis.

Looking at the map, in fact, we see the dilemma the university has here. They can restart the project at West Village – which still makes the most sense. The issues about reducing GHG emissions can be accommodated by restricting cars, offering a dedicated bike path to the core of campus and providing either Unitrans Service or a shuttle directly to the central core.

Other solutions, such as densifying at Orchard Park or Solano Park – the latter of which was originally part of the Nishi-Gateway proposal – still make some sense, but those are not going to get us all the way there.

UC Davis makes a classic error by expanding its student population without adequately planning for housing. Now they are going to drop a bomb into the lap of the city of Davis to bail them out.

One thing I don’t understand is why UC Davis hasn’t done what Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo did. Cal Poly built Poly Canyon Village probably about ten years after I graduated. It houses 2700 students on 30 acres of land. It consists of nine 4- to 5-story buildings and it is a mixed-use project, with retail on the ground level and a community center, swimming pool and study rooms.

I have believed that Nishi could accommodate that level of housing (it’s actually 50 percent larger than Poly Canyon Village’s footprint), but UC Davis could have put something like that near West Village or elsewhere on the west end of campus.

The advantage of placing it at Nishi would be walkability into town. But with proper connectivity, even a west campus project should be serviceable at this point. It is certainly better than forcing students to live in Woodland and Sacramento and driving onto campus. Or so we would think.

—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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64 thoughts on “My View: The University Has a Real Problem with Housing”

  1. SODA

    Sorry to not be up to date, but what is status of Solano Park and/or its land? You mention it but I have not seen anything lately. To refurbish or rebuild there would seem such a nice pairing with Nishi.

  2. Don Shor

    “It’s logistically sensible, but do we want to see all that open space — what has been the green gateway to campus all these years — turned into high-rises?

    Yes. Yes we do want to see that. We want to see dorms continue down Russell from where they currently exist along Russell at LaRue. The dorms I lived in — Primero — were three-story buildings right on Russell. Four-story buildings would not be any problem. Five-story are even possible there.  The notion that Toomey Field should remain “open space” when it is not needed for its original intended purpose is simply bizarre.

    1. Mark West

      Davis has a housing problem, not the University.  We need to be building sufficient apartments to meet the demand, whether that is from students or from others.  When we build the housing, the City receives property taxes for the increased value of the land and building, plus all the construction fees that pay for City services. When the University builds the housing all we get is the bill for the increased service demand and infrastructure maintenance.

      If we want more student housing along Russell, it should be in the form of privately owned high-rise apartments along the north side of the street, not University owned ones on the south side.

        1. Mark West

          The University’s primary missions are research and education.  The City’s primary missions are housing and jobs.

          This is the City’s responsibility.

          1. Don Shor

            You are just shrugging, like all the others with respect to actually getting housing built. It won’t happen as you are proposing along Russell. The university has the land right there. Moreover, there has been an historic goal of a 60/40 split for student housing (city/campus). It is not “the City’s responsibility.” It’s a shared responsibility. Your answer is as irresponsible as the ‘shrug’ I get from no-growth advocates. Both position yield no new student or rental housing.

        2. Mark West

          Don:  “You are just shrugging, like all the others with respect to actually getting housing built. It won’t happen as you are proposing along Russell.”

           

          I didn’t propose building along Russell, you did.  I just pointed out the building on Campus is a fiscally stupid decision from the City’s perspective.  We have new projects proposed at Nishi, Trackside and the Family’s First site, and we need many more.  We don’t need to build along Russell, and we don’t need to build on campus.

          Don:  “The university has the land right there. Moreover, there has been an historic goal of a 60/40 split for student housing (city/campus). It is not “the City’s responsibility.” It’s a shared responsibility.”

          If you hadn’t noticed the City is in the midst of a significant fiscal challenge, brought about by poor decisions of the past.  Do you think we should continue those poor decisions simply because they are based on a ‘historic goal?’ Housing is the City’s responsibility.

          Don:  “Your answer is as irresponsible as the ‘shrug’ I get from no-growth advocates. Both position yield no new student or rental housing.”

           

          Irresponsible would be to advocate for a continuation of policies that have created our current fiscal mess. Building housing on campus increases the population of the immediate region to the exact same degree as building within the City, but it does so without adding any new revenues.  More people, greater expenses and no new revenues, and to think you call my position irresponsible.

          1. Don Shor

            Mark:

            If we want more student housing along Russell, it should be in the form of privately owned high-rise apartments along the north side of the street, not University owned ones on the south side.

            I didn’t propose building along Russell, you did.

            You’re right. I read your sentence above as advocacy. I guess you were just making a point.

            Building housing on campus increases the population of the immediate region to the exact same degree as building within the City, but it does so without adding any new revenues. More people, greater expenses and no new revenues, and to think you call my position irresponsible.

            To advocate that new rental housing be built only in the city, not on campus, would be irresponsible. It is possible that I have misunderstood your position. We need rental housing in town. We need student housing on campus. Both will have unavoidable impacts as to density, traffic, and total population. So as to this:

            We don’t need to build along Russell, and we don’t need to build on campus.

            I disagree. We need more rental housing wherever we can get it. We need thousands of beds already, and will need thousands more.

        3. Mark West

          Don: “To advocate that new rental housing be built only in the city, not on campus, would be irresponsible. It is possible that I have misunderstood your position. We need rental housing in town. We need student housing on campus.”

          Help me out Don, did you support Katehi when she ran for Chancellor?  President Napolitano? What about the last campaign for Regent?

          We (obviously) don’t have any say, let alone control, over what happens on Campus.  The University may choose to build more housing, or it may not. Unless you are advocating that we spend $10’s of millions suing the University in the vain hope of getting it to comply with our wishes…

          The City has a housing shortage, with a particular need for more apartments.  While the University may also have a housing shortage, we cannot do anything about their problems so  complaining about them is a complete waste of our time.  We have a choice to make.  We can either choose to address our own housing shortage by building more high-density apartments in town (incidentally improving our fiscal situation as well), or we can succor the ‘no-growth’ contingent and continue arguing about the University’s responsibility. What is more important to you Don, solving the City’s problems or helping to push a no-growth agenda?

          The City’s housing shortage is the City’s problem, and our responsibility.

          1. Don Shor

            What is more important to you Don, solving the City’s problems or helping to push a no-growth agenda?

            Are those my only choices?
            I’m not sure you are listening.

        1. Mark West

          I did my undergraduate and graduate work in Berkeley and Baltimore respectively.  Never once during that time did I live in University-owned housing. Why do you think it should be the University’s responsibility to supply housing for students? Some University’s make that choice, others do not.  That is all part of the evaluation that students make before deciding on where to go to school.

          Our City has a long-standing housing shortage that we have so far refused to address.  The consequences of that shortage are significant for our future, especially considering the demographic shift that Matt has pointed out several times. We can sit here and blame the University (and continue watching the City slowly die) or we can get off our butts and solve the problem ourselves. Housing is a City problem, and we need to have more high-density apartments and condominiums built yesterday.

        2. Davis Progressive

          Mark: you fail to note that Davis has more open land than any other UC and yet the least amount of student housing.  So while your point may be valid about Berkeley, Berkeley still has more on campus housing than Davis.

        3. Mark West

          DP:  “Mark: you fail to note”

          No, I didn’t fail to note it, I don’t think it is relevant. Sure, the University could choose to build more housing, but I see no reason why you or anyone else would think it is required to do so (just because it has land available). My personal preference is for the University to build more office and lab space, thus freeing up the commercial buildings it is currently leasing in town and returning those properties to the tax rolls. I’m sure the University cares just as much for my opinion, though, as it does yours.

          Come to think of it, the City of Davis has land available too. Don’t we have an obligation to address our own housing shortage?

      1. Topcat

        If we want more student housing along Russell, it should be in the form of privately owned high-rise apartments along the north side of the street.

        Where would these high rise building be?  Are you looking at the area between Sycamore and 113 or some other location?

  3. Misanthrop

    “The University Has a Real Problem with Housing”
    Well duh. But so does the city. Of course the state just pushed thousands more “in-state” students into the UC system. If Davis was serious about trying to help  it would put out a request for proposals that would include both peripheral growth and infill taking a large share of the demand in addition to whatever UC is doing. Davis wouldn’t need to build every project proposed but at least it might find some solutions that make things better instead of worse. Peripheral growth in Davis is still less greenhouse gas generating than building commuter residences in surrounding communities. We might even ask UC and the state for some budget relief by increasing the amount of property tax captured by the city from newly annexed property into the city to help the construction pay for its use of city services.

    Perhaps the students who spoke out at the Nishi hearing at the City Council the other night might start organizing students who live in the city to participate in local elections shifting the political landscape to a CC that is more responsive to student needs. Yet as it stands with Measure R and resistance to infill don’t expect anything but the usual voices to point the finger at the university and not much to get done with people who own homes driving the opposition to helping others obtain decent housing. 

    The forces that are driving the growth of the University are beyond the control of both the city of Davis and the University itself. The city could get real but it won’t because the voices of its residents live in a fantasy world that is largely unaffected by city inaction. The University might do more but probably can’t go fast enough to catch up for years. Both the city and the University are so far behind the curve that even if they both went full tilt it will likely be decades before we ever catch up and have a more normal housing market. Those in the community who refuse to get out of the way on housing shouldn’t complain for they are a huge part of the problem. They didn’t create the problem but they certainly oppose doing anything that actually might help address the housing shortage. When people suggest that UC should stop growing until its builds the housing for new students they are simply arguing for something that isn’t going to happen because of both fiscal and policy realities of the state. We shouldn’t take such people seriously.

  4. Topcat

    Other solutions, such as densifying at Orchard Park or Solano Park….

    Building high density student housing on these two sites makes a lot of sense.  These locations have existing utility and transportation infrastructure.  They have good access to campus and to shopping.  I can easily see 4 or 5 story buildings on these two locations, perhaps with retail space at street level.

    If we are concerned with housing all these additional students, we should be pushing the University to redevelop these two sites.

      1. Matt Williams

        First, by imposing the same rule on the residents of those new residences that currently applies to the UCD Freshmen who live on campus . . . no car.

        Second, by designing the residence buildings to incorporate easy Zip Car access for the “once a week” necessity of automobile transportation.

    1. Topcat

      How is Russell going to be able to accommodate four and five story building traffic?

      No matter where we build new high density housing, additional traffic is going to be a big problem.  That’s why high density housing needs to be located close to campus so that most students will walk or bike to class and on-campus jobs.  It also needs to be close to transportation (mostly Unitrans) and shopping and restaurants.

      Solano Park and Orchard Park are the best locations for access.  In my view, they are much better than Nishi.

      1. Matt Williams

        Topcat, why are they better than Nishi?  Solano Park and Nishi are physically adjacent to one another.  For all practical purposes they are two parts of a single 80 acre lot. Orchard Park is only 18 acres in size.

        The distance from the middle of Orchard Park to the UCD MU is 0.55 miles as the crow flies.  The distance from the center of Nishi to the UCD MU is 0.80 miles as the crow flies.  Is that quarter of a mile a meaningful difference?

        The distance from the middle of Solano Park to the UCD MU is 0.65 miles as the crow flies.  The distance from the center of Nishi to the UCD MU is 0.80 miles as the crow flies.  Is that sixth of a mile a meaningful difference?

        Further, is the choice between student housing at Solano Park, Orchard Park, and Nishi and either/or choice?  Or is it really a both/and decision?

      2. Topcat

        Further, is the choice between student housing at Solano Park, Orchard Park, and Nishi and either/or choice?  Or is it really a both/and decision?

        Yes, I agree that the redevelopment of Orchard Park and Solano Park could be done as well as Nishi.

        The advantage of Solano Park and Orchard Park is that they have existing utilities (water, power, gas and sewer).  At the Nishi site all these would have to be installed.  The big hurdle I see with Nishi is the underpass under the Railroad.  The cost of this will be in the tens of millions of dollars and will be a very difficult construction because of the need to not disrupt railroad traffic.  Even after the underpass is built, I see access problems due to Nishi having only two access points.  Routing all the Nishi traffic onto Old Davis Road is going to create some bottlenecks at the intersections near the new Art Museum and the Mondavi Center.

        Redevelopment of Orchard Park and Solano Park could be done at much lower cost and much quicker.

        1. Matt Williams

          Topcat said . . . “Routing all the Nishi traffic onto Old Davis Road is going to create some bottlenecks at the intersections near the new Art Museum and the Mondavi Center.”

          As I read the above sentence, two thoughts popped into my mind.

          First, if the rental units at Nishi can be 95% automobile free, the described bottlenecks  would be highly unlikely to occur with northbound bicycle/pedestrian paths between Hyatt Place and the School of Management handling the 95% while Old Davis Road handles the 5%.

          Second, if the additional students being added to UCD are not within pedestrian/bicycling distance of the campus, then they will be driving their cars on a daily basis to campus, and that may well add more volume to the intersections near the new Art Museum and the Mondavi Center than Nishi will.

          Thoughts?

           

  5. Frankly

    Perhaps the students who spoke out at the Nishi hearing at the City Council the other night might start organizing students who live in the city to participate in local elections shifting the political landscape to a CC that is more responsive to student needs.

    Even though I cringe at the thought of more liberal-professor-biased-brained college students voting in our local elections, I think this is gonna’ be neccessary to break through the crust of the old-folk voting population that blocks significant development of all types.

    But related to this… for those that believe UCD should build more housing … maybe somebody can share with me their brilliant vision of Davis with all this UCD-built housing… both high-rise infill that will increase core area and near-core area density and congestion, or peripheral development on UCD land… and why this is so much better than the city of Davis doing the same on private land.

    Isn’t it all just the same in terms of the human impacts for densification and peripheral expansion minus the tax revenue to the city?

    1. Don Shor

      why this is so much better than the city of Davis doing the same on private land.

      Because they can accommodate the traffic and density impacts better. Basically they have more open space and fewer obstacles to modifying the infrastructure. But again: we need both.

        1. tribeUSA

          I concur with Don on this; both the university and city of davis need more high density housing designed for students. How can more pressure be applied to UCD to get going pr0nto on building more student housing?

        2. Matt Williams

          tribeUSA asked . . . “How can more pressure be applied to UCD to get going pr0nto on building more student housing?”

          Good question tribeUSA.  The efforts that Eileen Sammitz is spearheading are a start, but my personal opinion is that there is really only one person in California that can produce the desired change in UCD’s actions and plans.  That person is the Governor.

          The history of this issue shows us that UCD has no problem ignoring the City of Davis.  The commitments UCD made in the Memorandum of Understanding between UCD and the City in the late 1990’s have been completely ignored by UCD.  The commitments UCD made to the Regents, the UC Office of the President, and all the other UC campuses in the 2002 UC Housing Task Force process have been completely ignored by UCD.  There is no reason to believe UCD will either honor its MOU commitments or its UC Housing Task Force commitments.  That leaves only the Governor with sufficient power to change UCD’s behavior.

          The Senate and the Assembly are too fractured to make any difference, although individual members of those two bodies might be able to bend the Governor’s ear.  However, thus far neither in the Assembly race nor the Senate race has any candidate talked about UCD housing.  The candidates don’t appear to see it as a meaningful issue in the election.

          I could be wrong in all of the above, but what I have expressed makes logical sense to me given the multi-year stream of evidence we have on the subject.

          In my communication to Eileen in December I said the following, “Eileen, the task you are advocating for (causing UCD to change both its housing pricing policy and its plan for building housing) is, in my opinion, as large a task as combining half a dozen Measure X campaigns.”

          As a result of that communication I began to refer to the campaign as Measure X-6, with Eileen as the most visible and most vocal leader.  Somehow Measure X-6 needs to get the Governor’s attention.

           

           

        3. tribeUSA

          Matt–thanks for the good info. I had thought the city and UCD had a better working relationship–it seems clear that UCD needs to provide more student housing. Presumably the UCD facilities and housing office would like to but lack funding approval; perhaps UCD executives are not putting enough effort into soliciting funds for this housing from the UC governing board/ state government?

      1. Frankly

        I don’t understand how “they can accommodate the traffic and density impacts better”.   This seems irrational.  You advocate for Toomey Field all along Russel Blvd being high-density student housing.  Why is that impact any different than high-density student housing on private land on Russel Blvd or anywhere else in town?  And if the universtiy develops more housing on peripheral land, why are those impacts any different than would be impacts on private peripheral land?

        Maybe you can explain exactly what you mean by “better accomodate”.

         

        1. Don Shor

          UCD can bulldoze a new road anywhere they want. They can change the circulation pattern any way they want to in order to mitigate traffic issues. Don’t want all the cars entering onto Russell from West Village? Fine; they just ran the road in another direction to enter and exit on LaRue.
          Thousands of young adults living along LaRue Rd. have fewer near-neighbor issues than thousands of young adults living next to your house.
          Noise, density, and traffic are all easier to mitigate, and lead to fewer problems with existing residents, when the new high-density housing is on campus.
          Again, since we need both housing on campus and off, this is kind of moot.

        2. Frankly

          It was the local Davis residents that blocked USD connecting West Davis Village to Russell.  Those same local residents would have blocked the same even if that had been a private development project.  And the City and that private developer still would have been directed to connecting at La Rue.

          All housing development regardless if UCD or private will have to connect with existing streets.  So I really don’t see any distinction here.

          You make the point that these student residents are not impacting non-student residents because non are adjacent… true; but, then you advocate high-rise and highly dense student housing all along Russell Blvd.  That most certainly will impact adjacent non-student residents. You can make this same claim for any housing development that is either geographically isolated of crammed in as dense infill.

          I guess that the university can ignore Davis activists demanding certainin amenities, but since these activitst consistently demonstrate zero consideration of the rights of private land owners to ignore their activist demands, I doubt that the din of their demands will fall off just because the land-owner is UCD.  In fact, I suspect that part of the reason that UCD is not motivated to take up building more housing is the “cost” of dealing with all the local Davis activists and their demands.  They are a stubborn and entitled bunch.

          Bottom line, other than maybe some limited advantages of easier development, I think you are failing to make your point here… that there is enough of an advantage to UCD building the housing on their land given the loss of property tax revenue that would otherwise flow to the city.

          1. Don Shor

            then you advocate high-rise and highly dense student housing all along Russell Blvd. That most certainly will impact adjacent non-student residents.

            Yes. I’m sure the fraternities and sororities will find it very inconvenient. I advocate that the open land along Russell Blvd. in front of UCD be developed for student housing. As far as I know, every adjacent building along Russell on the north side is somehow connected to UCD, or has a non-residential use. I could be wrong, there might still be some owner-occupied homes on Russell between A and Anderson. But it seems obvious that for UCD to develop along that portion of Russell would have very few near-neighbor issues, certainly fewer than almost anywhere else. And any development along LaRue would have none.

            It was the local Davis residents that blocked USD connecting West Davis Village to Russell. Those same local residents would have blocked the same even if that had been a private development project. And the City and that private developer still would have been directed to connecting at La Rue.

            This paragraph is incoherent. UCD had the land to solve the problem.

        3. Jim Frame

          UCD has a unique opportunity at Toomey Field and adjacent sites, which represent anywhere from 5 to 20 acres of open land (no buildings) situated at the campus/downtown interface.  While I don’t claim to know the best use of that space, to me the idea of high-density housing is worth considering.

          Expanding on Matt and Don’s remarks, UC isn’t subject to the same planning and regulatory constraints that pertain to parcels under city or county jurisdiction; the owner, developer and regulator are all the same entity, and the end-user is closely related.  That enables the campus to explore options that are more innovative than those subject to city oversight and (to a lesser extent) private-sector financing.

          One housing concept that I’d be willing to entertain on the site would feature single-family faculty/staff housing (Aggie Village-style) along A Street and Russell Boulevard, stepping back to multi-story (4? 5?) dorms and/or apartments in the interior.  Car traffic would be routed to Howard Way and one or two entries on A Street, but car use would be substantially limited by project design and contractual agreement.  The walkable access to core campus and downtown would be a powerful draw for many potential residents.

          I’m not a planner by trade or inclination, and this concept is undoubtedly not as simple to achieve as it might seem to me.  But I think it has enough merit to warrant exploration.

          (And for those who fear a repeat of the West Village vs. Stonegate debacle, it’s worth noting that Toomey Field is figuratively in my back yard.)

        4. Topcat

          While I don’t claim to know the best use of that space, to me the idea of high-density housing is worth considering.

          This site (Toomey Field) does seem like a good place for high density student housing.  It’s has easy access by pedestrians and bikes to campus and downtown.  It also has good access to public transportation; both Unitrans and Yolobus.

        5. Matt Williams

          Jim Frame said . . . “. . . stepping back to multi-story (4? 5?) dorms and/or apartments in the interior.”

          Jim, given the location, and the close proximity of Sproul Hall as a precedent, I would expect that your multi-story thoughts are about half of what UCD might be considering.

          Thoughts?

        6. Matt Williams

          With respect to Don’s graphic, the green grass area labeled A Street Intramural Field is an ideal location for high rise, no cars allowed, UCD on-campus housing.  It is an even better location than Toomey Field in my opinion.

        7. Jim Frame

          Jim, given the location, and the close proximity of Sproul Hall as a precedent, I would expect that your multi-story thoughts are about half of what UCD might be considering.

          I wouldn’t want to see the height happen at the street line, but aside from that I don’t think 6 or 8 stories is necessarily unreasonable.  It would require lots of thought with regard to visual massing, shade casting and the like.

          Are there any conceptual plans floating around that address the site(s)?

           

        8. Frankly

          Ok Don.  Good points about the north side of Russell being sororities and fraternities.  I guess Davis just needs to concede both sides of this important traffic artery as UCD territory.

          But the secound point you are making has nothing to do with UCD specifically, but that as the land owner they had the option of accepting the rabid demand of the west Davis residents demaning no connection to Russell.  If that land was all private owned, the situation would have been the same.

    2. Topcat

      … and why this is so much better than the city of Davis doing the same on private land.

      I don’t think that there will be a tremendous amount of opposition to high density redevelopment of the Solano Park and Orchard Park sites because these are already student housing and they are close enough to campus that most residents will walk or bike to their classes and on campus jobs.

      Given the temperament of the Davis NIMBY mentality, wherever high density housing is proposed in town there will be opposition.

  6. Eileen Samitz

    This is a great article and informative to the public that an avalanche of UCD students are coming and UCD needs to be told that they need to slow down their rapidly growing student population, or the City is simply not going to do it for them.

    I think the City needs to look into the legalities of blocking UCD from trying to reserve any rental housing in the City since that would be preventing non-students from getting those rental units in Davis. This is a discrimination issue.

    UCD’s has been  delinquent in not building the on-campus student housing they have promised at least 25% on-campus student housing since 1989 in their MOU with the City plus their own UC Housing for the 21st Century statements that UCD would provide at least 38% on-campus student housing by 2012 has never materialized.  Note that the goal was supposed to be 40% for UCD and 42% UC systemwide. It is unfair to our community and unfair, particularly, to their students that UCD has been do negligent in providing on-campus student housing. UCD’s opportunistic and manipulative behavior of exhausting our rental housing by not building on-campus student housing and continuing to accelerate their student population growth, together with UCD complaining that we have a low vacancy rate that THEY are causing, needs to be objected to by the public and the City.

    I agree with much of what David has to say in this article with the exception of  his suggestions about providing so much student housing on Nishi Gateway, which I feel just continues to enable UCD with deferring their student housing needs on our community and us paying or it. A point that I do agree with and I have also publicly stated that the open space sites such as Toomey field where students recreate should NOT be paved over on campus. UCD has 5,000 acres for heavens sake, so they have plenty of options. Densifying Orchard Park and expanding it to the North, densifying Solano Park, and continuing to add onto West Village to the South are just a few obvious sites. Just getting moving forward on Orchard Park now, rather then dragging their heels would be helpful since there is even less on-campus student housing now since Orchard Park is vacant and they will be vacating Solano Park this year (I assume sometime after June graduation). However, we do need to make sure that they do commit to restoring and densifying student housing at Solano Park since I heard somewhere that UCD was considering using it for more research space at one time.

    One important point is that UCD needs to build significantly more apartments (not just dorms) for the full 3-4 year college term, particularity for their undergrads. When UCD says they have been adding student housing, other then the unfinished West Village project of only 2,000 apartments (they are still 1,000 student beds short of what they promised) UCD has just been renovating old dorms on campus. Note that UCD’s student population was 36,104. last fall and now that want to add 1,100 more undergrads alone (i.e. how many graduate students also?). These old dorm buildings were not earthquake-proof compliant so UCD had to renovate them, and so they just added some more dorm units in the process.  Dorms are simply one-year student housing primarily for freshmen (and some transfer students) so that UCD is certain to secure recruiting them. The vast majority of these students are then forced out to find housing elsewhere, which winds up being our City. UCD needs to be called on the carpet on this outrageous practice which is impacting our community significantly.

    UCD talks-the-talk with ” green and sustainability goals”, well there is nothing green or sustainable about what they have been doing with forcing thousands of their students off campus to commute back to the campus. The hypocrisy is astonishing.The amount of transportation and circulation problems that UCD is causing needs to be brought to everyone’s attention since UCD is responsible for causing it proactively, by not providing their promised on-campus student housing.

    The key here is that UCD needs to significantly slow down their population growth until they actually build the student housing (no more talk or “promises”) that they need on campus.  There needs to be public input demanding this to the UCD LRDP process, Chancellor Katahi, UC President Napolitano, the Regents and our legislative representatives. Also, we need to give inout to our City Council and City Staff that our community is not going to continue to be taken advantage of any more by UCD since this has been going on for over two decades and it is ruining our City planning and and our community.  Not only that, but we Davis taxpayers are paying for UCD’s student housing since it is using so much of our infrastructure. This situation will be endless unless we object now and give plenty of input to the UCD LRDP update process and all the others I mentioned above.

    UCD has become the biggest driving force of residential growth in our community and developers are responding. There is year ANOTHER student housing proposal of 120 units targeting students now being proposed on West Olive Drive. The most important thing to understand about this is that UCD is therefore using up OUR community’s infrastructure which WE are paying for for their housing needs. So while the capacities for our water and waste water treatment is being used up by UCD, we will not have that infrastructure when we need it for our next fair share requirement coming up in six years. So the water project and the expansion of our waste water treatment plant (both of which that we just started paying for) will be exhausted by UCD if we allow it to. This is anther main reason why the student housing needs to be on-campus where UCD needs to use their own water and their own waste water, and their own police and other services for the on-campus housing. This is my concern about so much student-oriented housing going on the Nishi Gateway project. Our infrastructure, and the expenses for it would be tapped for that project long term.

    Folks interested in address this significant problem of UCD’s negligence in providing their needed on-campus student housing should email me at citizens@dcn.org to join our Citizens for Responsible Planning group.

     

     

    1. Topcat

      ….student housing needs to be on-campus where UCD needs to use their own water and their own waste water, and their own police and other services for the on-campus housing. This is my concern about so much student-oriented housing going on the Nishi Gateway project.

      Yes, this is why we need to be pushing for UCD to build far more student housing on their land.  The best locations look to be the Orchard Park and Solano Park sites since these sites already have existing infrastructure and they also have easy pedestrian and bike access to the University.  They also have reasonably good access to public transportation and the freeways.

  7. Eileen Samitz

    I meant to post these emails and the LRDP website contact info for everyone’s convenience. Now is an important time to give your input about our objections to UCD continuing to defer its student housing needs onto our City.

    It is notable that President Napolitano recently sent out a letter asking the public to write to our legislators to “support” the UC system. This is clearly asking our legislators for more funding for UC. Well, everyone needs to write to our legislators making it clear that UCD needs to use some of its existing financial resources, such as the $1 BILLION DOLLAR endowment fund that they have celebrated in the media recently. UCD can clearly raise money when they want to for what they want to. They need to be motivated to focus on funding the on-campus student housing for their own UCD students for many reasons including to support their professed “green and sustainability” goals.

    City Council email addresses:
    Mayor Dan Wolk = dwolk@cityofdavis.org
    Mayor Pro tem Robb Davis = rdavis@cityofdavis.org
    Council member Lucas Frerichs  =  lucasf@cityofdavis.org
    Council Member Rochelle Swanson = rswanson@cityofdavis.org
    Council member Brett Lee = blee@cityofdavis.org

    Please also send your email to:
    City Staff:
    Assistant City Manager and Community Development and Sustainability Director =
    Mike Webb = mwebb@cityofdavis.org

    To Email UCD and their UCD LRDP plan which needs to build the on-campus student housing that UCD has  stated they would in the 1989 MOU with the City of Davis and the  2002 UC document “UC Housing for the 21st Century” please send your email to:
    Contact info for UCD administration and UCD LRDP website:
    The web address for the UCD LRDP update is:  campustomorrow.ucdavis.edu
    UC President Janet Napolitano   President@ucop.edu and advocacy@ucop.edu
    Chancellor Katehi   http://chancellor.ucdavis.edu/contact.php
    UC Regents   regentsoffice@ucop.edu

    AND your State Government representatives due to UCD wanting more State funding for UC which has NOT been building the PROMISED on-campus student housing:
    Gov. Jerry Brown   http://gov.cagov/gov39mail/mail.php
    Rep. John Garamendi   http://garamendihouse.gov/contact-me
    Se. Lois Wolk  senator.wlkl@senate.ca.gov
    Assemblyman Bill Dodd   assemblymember.dodd@assembly.ca.gov
     
     

     

     

    1. Miwok

      Great comment, Eileen.

      My comments would add that the NISHI proposal talks a good game, but then they keep modifying it knowing they have ten years (fast track in Davis’ logic) to get this done, just to catch up. Building another stupid tunnel in Davis under the rails is like Sacramento building another bridge over the American River. It won’t get done, no matter how much sense it makes. And what IS capping traffic anyway?

      Why they don’t propose relocating the  UP tracks, since they are already wanting to relocate them for the other side of town (to the dump/landfill), which would negate many traffic problems around Nishi, and maybe even give the “Convention Center” at Olive more breathing room?

      Since Ms Napolitano has taken over UC, I am surprised how fast the animosity of poor California students has grownr under her systemwide. The UCD Chancellor has put out internal memos to Staff detailing how the foreign student enrollment (already detailed in recent news reports. up 40%) will increase income. These foreign students are wealthy, pay out of state tuition, and usually have enough left over to buy or rent at whatever it costs without complaint. Funny how you go from DHS head to UC? <a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janet_Napolitano” rel=”nofollow”>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janet_Napolitano</a&gt;

      The surrounding communities benefit from this short sighted view of these educated professionals. Their real estate value has gone up and even grown but if Solano county ever allows Dixon to grow closer to Davis, all bets are off. Davis is trying to build TOWARD THE DUMP… Their own plans were to go north to road 29 (the 50 year plan), but they seem to think that is further away from campus than Mace Blvd?
      <blockquote>UCD has become the biggest driving force of residential growth</blockquote>
      Since, oh, 1950?

    2. Miwok

      UCD needs to use some of its existing financial resources, such as the $1 BILLION DOLLAR endowment fund that they have celebrated in the media recently.

      I mentioned this on another thread, it is NOT an Endowment, although some of the money is for that purpose. It comprises EVERY DOLLAR they ever took in and will take in for a while, just to make the Press Release look good. It comprises every department, every revenue, and sometimes even State Money like Grants being counted. They even hit up their own Students “for the students”. They invented a way for Students to contribute to themselves, or others. Not sure what scholarships were made available for this…

      Parents received veiled threats disguised as Press releases, and the Registrars’ Office had to deal with a deluge of parents “Donating” to the University before their High School student was even accepted. One tried to “donate” $50K just to get their kid in a summer program…

  8. Matt Williams

    The math in David’s article projects that UC Davis will far exceed 40,000 well before 2027.  The math in The Enterprise Editorial says “UCD is actually going to have to slow down its rate of growth not to exceed that 39,000-mark in 2027.”

    For 2015-2016 UCD’s total enrollment was 36,104 of which 33,785 were enrolled in academic programs on the Davis campus (see http://budget.ucdavis.edu/data-reports/documents/enrollment-reports/eenrsum_fcurr.pdf for details).  That represents an increase of 2,676 over 2014-2015 and an aggregate 3,960 increase over 2013-2014.  So a rise from 32,144 to 36, 104 in two years.  If that trajectory is continued, an enrollment of 40,000 will be reached in 2017, not 2027.

    So how is the combination of UCD and the City of Davis going to deal with the increased housing demand that will come with those increases?

    For me, Plan A is for UCD to modify the LRDP to add a minimum of 600 incremental beds per year to the on-campus housing stock … ideally more than 600 per year.  Unfortunately Plan A has as much chance of happening as a Power Ball win in its recent $900 million incarnation.

    Plan B is to get UCD to not add the incremental students they currently plan to add each year between now and 2030.  Unfortunately Plan B has an even lower chance of happening than Plan A does. Just achieving an annual reduction in the growth from the actual 2,676 increase down to the 600 increase described in the 20/20 Initiative would be progress.

    Plan C is to reluctantly recognize that (and do nothing about) the fact that UCD students have a fiscal advantage when competing for the current existing supply of rental units in the City of Davis, and as a result will be able to outbid the existing single family renters (mostly in the 25-54 year-old age bracket).  Because of that competitive disparity, the City of Davis will continue to see the shrinkage of both the number of 25-54 year-olds by 500-1000 people per year and the number of DJUSD age children by 250-750 children per year.  In addition we will see an acceleration of the conversion of neighborhood single family residences into mini-dorms of UCD students.

    Plan D is to add the Nishi student housing, and in the process stem the shrinkage in the number of DJUSD kids and their parents . . . and reduce the number of conversions of neighborhood single family residences into mini-dorms.

    Plan E is a combination of Plan A, Plan B and Plan D.

  9. Eileen Samitz

    I support Plan “N” for NO more enabling UCD to continue deferring their housing needs onto our community, particularly for their accelerated student population growth;

    And Plan “N” for UCD NO longer failing their own UCD students by admitting them, but doing virtually nothing to providing the on-campus student housing that they will need for the 4-5 years that most of them will be attending UCD;

    Also, Plan”N” for  for UCD to start building their on-campus NOW to start taking responsibility for their own current and future student population, as they have promised for years.

    This has, clearly, also become an issue of UC integrity.

    1. Matt Williams

      Eileen, how is Plan N any different from Plan C?

      How does Plan N deal with the shrinkage of the population of 25-54 year-old residents and 0-19 year-old residents in Davis?

      How does Plan N deal with the continuing deterioration of Davis’ family neighborhoods as more and more single family residences are converted into UCD student mini-dorms?

      I agree with you that this has become an issue of UC integrity.  You are to be lauded for focusing on  that long-term issue.  However, I don’t hear you giving equal time to the more immediate term deterioration of Davis.

      Julia Hunter Blair’s single family residence in North Davis now has a total of 11 students living in the two houses on either side of her.  That is a recent development.  She always had families as neighbors until recently.  Judy Anderson has the same problem off Sycamore.  Nicki Neff has the same problem in the Grande neighborhood.  What is your answer to them as you pursue the “long game” associated with remedying UC’s integrity issues?

  10. Eileen Samitz

    Well as far as I am concerned, Plan A, B, C , D and E don’t offer solutions, but Plan N at least does not continue continue enabling UCD to keep deferring their on-campus housing needs on to our community. Why should our community keep paying for the expensive infrastructure for UCD’s student housing needs, particularly their accelerated student population growth? The biggest insult is that UCD has made promises to provide this student housing which they have not fulfilled, and then has the audacity to complain about the low vacancy rate in the City that UCD is responsible for.

    This is about UCD integrity. They need to follow-up with fulfilling their commitments to the City as well as the UC systemwide commitments. UCD needs to practice what they preach regarding “green and sustainable planning”  starting with actually building the on-campus student housing they are creating the need for. So far its been all talk, and no action by UCD.

    In addition, I left out the words “student housing” in the third sentence of my last post. To clarify it was to read:

    “Also, Plan ”N” is for UCD to start building their on-campus student housing NOW and to start taking responsibility for their own current and future student population as they have promised for years.”

     

     

    1. Matt Williams

      Thank you for that clarification Eileen.

      The one issue you haven’t addressed with Plan N is “How does Plan N deal with the continuing deterioration of Davis’ family neighborhoods as more and more single family residences are converted into UCD student mini-dorms?”

       

  11. Misanthrop

    “Why should our community keep paying for the expensive infrastructure for UCD’s student housing needs, particularly their accelerated student population growth?”

    Perhaps because UC has been pouring billions of dollars of wealth into this community for the last 100 years. 

  12. Misanthrop

    The problem you have Samitz is that the state and UC are going in the opposite direction with the state recently appropriating an additional $25 million to add thousands more students while I haven’t heard your view, that UC should stop adding students  until it builds more housing, articulated by a single elected official or candidate. The only chance you have would be through the courts if you can find some legal angle to pursue. Of course such a lawsuit to stop enrollment increases at UCD would be expensive to sustain, garner little  sympathy throughout the state and likely be ridiculed widely as biting the hand that feeds this community.

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news for you but your position, that may have had some traction in the 1990’s, no longer makes any sense politically, economically, environmentally or strategically. If you want to do more than tilt at windmills I suggest you start dealing with the world as it is instead of as you wish it to be.

  13. Eileen Samitz

    Misanthrop: Well, the public gets to vote on Nishi Gateway on a Measure J/R ballot, which is no windmill.

    Meanwhile, I encourage folks to give input to the UCD LRDP update at the websitecampustomorrow.ucdavis.edu  with your comments and there is a survey with specific questions at:

    https://ucdavissurvey.typeform.com/to/UJNdzq

    This UCD LRDP update website has a proposed map, and some things I would like to see are:

    First, the Orchard Park site needs to be densified and expanded to the south and built now with apartments.

    Second, the Russell Park recreation area and Toomey Field should not be developed and should be kept as recreational green space for the students.

    Third, Solano Park needs to be densified and expanded with apartments.

    Fourth, West Village needs to be expanded to the south and I don’t see why it can’t have higher buildings for more apartments. The height of those buildings do not impact anything around it.

    So the focus needs to be on more apartments on-campus, particularly for undergrads so they can live there the entire 4-5 years on campus.  This is as compared to dorms which are only one year housing for freshman who are then forced out after the first year to find housing elsewhere (usually our community) for the next 3-4 years.

    These sites along can provided thousands of beds in apartments for students on campus. UCD has over 5,000 acres, so there are plenty more options. As I have mentioned before, UCD is one of the largest campuses in the nation, so there is no excuse why they have not provided the needed on-campus student housing over the years.

     

     

     

     

     

    1. Don Shor

      Second, the Russell Park recreation area and Toomey Field should not be developed and should be kept as recreational green space for the students.

      Since they developed the Intramural Field and Aggie Stadium, there is no longer a need for the Toomey Field area to be retained for those purposes.
      http://davismerchants.org/vanguard/UCD%20open%20space.jpg

      1. Tia Will

        Don

        With regard to the need for Toomey field, do you know what percentage of the time it is actually in use for sports practice and open field events ?

         

    2. Topcat

      First, the Orchard Park site needs to be densified and expanded to the south and built now with apartments.

      ……

      Third, Solano Park needs to be densified and expanded with apartments.

      Fourth, West Village needs to be expanded to the south and I don’t see why it can’t have higher buildings for more apartments. The height of those buildings do not impact anything around it.

      Yes, all three of these are better options than developing the Nishi site due to the high costs of infrastructure and the constrained access at the Nishi site.

    3. Misanthrop

      So say, as you suggest. that Davis rejects Nishi. Then what? The students still come and the housing situation continues to get worse. How is anything helped by this?

  14. Jim Leonard

    Matt, I’m interested in how the Governor could make a difference given U.C,’s Constitutional autonomy. Perhaps he could advocate stripping U.C. of that autonomy–as was advocated in a legislative bill in 2009?

    1. Matt Williams

      Jim, you raise a good point.  It is possible that the Governor can’t make anymore difference than the City and/or the Board of Regents and/or the UC Office of the President have made to date.

      The Governor’s Office is the only place where there is enough concentrated power to cause UCD to change.  It would appear to make sense that the Board of Regents is also a place with that kind of concentrated power, but 20 years of history tells us that UCD has successfully ignored the Regents’ desires with respect to housing.

      With the above said, what course of action do you think the Measure X-6 efforts should pursue?

  15. Jim Leonard

    predator Chancellor, big cat of U.C. Davis

    smiles and shows her teeth

    near-sighted  Davis doesn’t see her teeth, instead it looks at her curly tail and smiles

    Easily the big cat rolls over, purrs, sleeps and waits for tomorrow when…

    Davis will be her meal

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