ASUCD Endorses Nishi Gateway Project by 11-1 Vote

Interior View of NishiSome of the strongest proponents for the Nishi project have been students concerned with the lack of student housing options in the city of Davis. Students have been writing in for some time in support of Nishi.

Back in November, former ASUCD President Carly Sandstrom wrote,The scarcity of housing dedicated for students is harming the quality of life in many Davis neighborhoods while leaving too many students with no other option than to crowd into mini-dorms or commute from outlying cities.”

She added, “The Nishi Gateway is the type of project permanent residents and students alike should get behind — a housing and work space that is designed to make car-free living possible with easy bike and pedestrian access to campus.”

On Thursday evening, the Associated Students of the University of California at Davis (ASUCD), UC Davis’ student government, voted to endorse the Nishi Gateway project by an 11-1 vote. According to a press release from the project developer, they were swayed by the Nishi project’s ability to ease the student housing crisis, commitment to sustainability, collaboration with UC Davis, and creation of job opportunities for UC Davis students.

“I thank the ASUCD for their careful consideration and endorsement of the Nishi Gateway project,” said Tim Ruff, managing partner of Nishi Gateway. “The Senators that represent UC Davis students understand that Nishi provides a lot of opportunities for students. Their endorsement, coming on the heels of the Davis Chamber of Commerce’s endorsement, demonstrates broad support in our community for Nishi.”

The vote comes as Bae Urban Economics, Inc.,  a private real estate consulting firm located in downtown Davis, issued a report for 2015 that showed a 0.2 percent vacancy rate for apartments in Davis. These low vacancy rates come as the university continues to plan for increased student enrollment.

“The availability of student housing is a concern both for myself and many of my fellow students. With the university planning on adding 5,000 students by 2020, I have growing concerns about how low-income students, who are already struggling to pay their bills, will be impacted,” Marcela Alvarez wrote in December.

The developers note that Nishi would provide 1,500 beds for UC Davis students, enough to cover 35 percent of UC Davis’ projected new student population. With its close proximity to campus and downtown, and easy access to public transit, it makes car-free living possible for Davis students.

“By providing housing that will serve roughly 1,500 students, the Nishi Gateway will help to reduce the pressure on the housing market that surely will arise as UC Davis expands. Campus and downtown will be extremely accessible to the 1,500 students who are lucky enough to live at Nishi,” Ms. Alvarez wrote.  “The project will even be beneficial for those students who aren’t able to live at the Nishi site. Providing housing to meet the growing demand should maintain price stability throughout the city. Without necessary housing, affording an education will become nearly impossible for the students I work with and the many others in similar circumstances.”

However, others like resident Eileen Samitz believe that the onus is on the university to provide the majority of the housing to accommodate new student growth.

Ms. Samitz argues, “UCD recently announced that it wants to add 5,000 more students, yet it has not even provided sufficient student housing on campus for its current population. This is why it is important that our community give input now to urge the university to step up and actually produce the student housing it’s promised for so long.”

In their release, the developers argue, “Built on land next to the Davis Bike Loop, Nishi will fund substantial road and bike improvements and include an access point to campus. The Nishi Gateway will be the first project ever to exceed the City of Davis’ Beyond Platinum Bicycle Action Plan. That’s because studies show nearly 80% of trips made by student residents will be through biking, walking, and transit.”

They add that between 1,500 and 1,800 permanent jobs are expected to be created by Nishi, including part-time jobs for students, and research positions that will actively seek students as they advance in their education.

Moreover, they argue that energy efficiency will enable students to save money, saying, “Estimates show that students and other residents can reduce their cost of living by approximately $7,000 annually by reducing or eliminating car expenses and through lower utility bills with energy efficient buildings.”

The developers conclude, “With 325,000 square feet of research and development space, Nishi is specifically designed to convert the ideas hatched by creative minds at UC Davis into businesses that can thrive in the City of Davis. Nishi provides a convenient location for professors, researchers, and students to move seamlessly to and from campus.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

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

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  1. hpierce

    OK… the developer gets a chance to address the ASUCD Senate one evening, and 11 students (out of what, 24,000?) vote in support of the project… and this is “news” why?   Looks more like a press release, unless Ruff actually made a contribution to the VG to run it as “news”, in which case it’s a paid advertisement, masking as “news”.

      1. hpierce

        Do you know what %-age of students actually vote for ASUCD Senate members (barely double-digit, last time I saw the #’s ~ 8-11%)?  To answer your question, based on past experience, they are probably “duly elected”, probably are poli-sci major students, and probably not particularly “representative” of UCD Students… they have tended to be ‘activists’, more concerned about their personal agendas than their constituents’…

        My comment stands, as written…


        1. Don Shor

          I just clicked on over a dozen links of ASUCD candidates and senators on the Davis Wiki and didn’t find a single science or ag major. I think there was one computer engineer. The rest that I clicked on were all poli sci, international relations, etc.
          ASUCD wasn’t particularly representative of the broader student body when I was a student, and I doubt it’s much more so today.

        2. hpierce

          As I’ve said before, the “turnout rate” in Davis, is questionable, based on “turn-over”… people who registered at one point, moved on, and are still on the rolls… it’s a pretty high number…

          Legitimacy of  8-11% voters participating?  No, I don’t think that is “representative”… Do you think 5% is representative?  1 %?  Do you think 90% is representative if the “state” only offers you one candidate, and you’ll face sanctions if you don’t vote?

          My question as far as the %-age voting in the last ASUCD election remains
          UNANSWERED… and yet, David, you are questioning me on my assertions (all unanswered)?  Oh, was the (psuedo) poli-sci referent your trigger point?  I took exactly one upper division poli-sci course @ UCD …  aced it… I’ve answered your question… are you up to answering mine?

          Nice deflection, though (a poli-sci major tactic?)… what does the vote of 12 students on what appears to be a developer sales pitch have to do with City Council elections?

          Non sequitur in my opinion…  nice (if weak) try… 8-11% vs 39% (if valid)… c’mon, get real…

          1. David Greenwald

            What I asked – honestly – was what your threshold was because I think there are a lot of low turnout elections in our government that we nevertheless accept as legitimate.

        3. hpierce

          Thank you Don, for the affirmation… still interested in the #’s… International Relations is just another flavor of Poli-Sci… I now wonder if the single engineer was the one dissenting vote… would possibly make sense…

  2. Misanthrop

    Last week Vanguard commenters attacked the legitimacy of young people at a pro-soda tax rally. This week the commenters are picking on the legitimacy of the UCD student government.

    The real question is if we are seeing the young  of Davis starting to get involved in local politics? That could be game changing as the young people dealing with high student debt, historically weaker job prospects and high housing costs have a different agenda from the old landed gentry of Davis many of whom have homes they own and jobs or pensions.

    Ruff is smart to try to mobilize the young in this election as they are likely to be better for him on the issue of Nishi. It will be interesting to see if he can pull it off. If he does it could seriously change the dynamics of Davis politics.


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