Matt Williams a Familiar Face, Runs For Council

Matt Williams listens to a voter at the Davis Senior Center
Matt Williams listens to a voter at the Davis Senior Center

For those paying attention to local politics for the last decade, Matt Williams is a familiar face, even though for much of that time he did not live in the city limits. He served on the Water Advisory Committee, the Natural Resources Commission and now the Finance and Budget Commission.

Now he is running for city council, explaining, “One of the first things I learned when I came to Davis is that people in Davis are very quick to complain about things – it’s a very actively involved community. But my feeling is that if you’re going to be willing to complain, you’ve got to be willing to contribute.”

He said he’s spent a long time volunteering and contributing, “but quite frankly the Cannery CFD approval by council without a good fiscal assessment was something that put me over the edge.” He said, “There was an attempt by some of the city councilmembers to gather the evidence of what was the value that was being received for the value that was being given and that was cut off and the analysis was not done.”

“I believe we need more evidenced-based decision making, less political calculation,” he said. “It’s one thing to try to make an impact from the public comment podium in two minutes, it’s another thing to try to make policy for the whole city.”

Matt Williams, for much of the time he has been involved in community affairs, has lived in El Macero, a neighborhood just outside of the city. While they pride themselves on not being part of the city, Matt Williams explained, “To me that’s part of the Davis community and, in fact, there was a rule at the time for most of my years that nobody could serve on a commission or committee that lived outside the city limits of Davis.”

However, he said, “the council actually changed the rule so that people like myself who lived outside the city could actually contribute to the community.”

It was a year ago, however, upon getting a divorce from his wife, that Matt Williams moved into the city proper, enabling him to run for the city council.

Matt Williams says he is running on the planks of fiscal responsibility, being an independent voice for all of the citizens of Davis, making sure that our community is sustainable, “and most importantly using my most important body parts, my two ears, to listen to the citizens in order to be that independent voice representing them all.”

His approach is to “objectively and dispassionately look at issues.” Rather than look at the “political connections,” he would examine the facts and processes to look at the challenges we face and to work within them to not play people politics, but find positive outcomes to challenges.

On fiscal responsibility, he noted that all citizens have to pay their bills. They cannot simply take their credit card bill and throw it to bottom of the drawer. And yet, he says, “Davis for the longest period of time has been not honest with itself about its bills.”

“The cracks we are seeing in the streets are real, they are also representative of the cracks that we have in the whole fiscal foundation of the city,” he explained. “We need to start by being honest with ourselves about our bills. We need to be paying the bills and we need to be transparent about it with the citizens.”

The solution to that, he says, comes from the work of the Finance and Budget Commission, whose advice in a unanimous recommendation to Council in December was that the city needs to specify what tax revenues are going to be spent on, define the success measures of what it means to spend the money effectively, and, as part of the annual budget, create an assessment of how well did we do in the past year of delivering valuable services.

He stated, “We can’t just raise taxes to raise more revenue, we need to be more efficient and effective within the costs we incur.”

The Finance and Budget Commission passed a motion “not to move forward any tax measure to the voters until we know what our obligations are,” “what the tax measure is going to be spent on,” and “what are the metrics going to be used to judge whether it was spent wisely.”

He said, at this point, we have not satisfied the first criteria, “so I cannot support any tax measure until we have that accounting on the table.” Matt Williams said he also wants all taxes to be special taxes with two-thirds requirements so that they can specify exactly what the monies will be spent on. “No more general taxes,” he said.

The interview with Mr. Williams occurred before the council opted not to act on most of the proposed tax measures, but he believes this process that he and the FBC laid out could take place in about sixty days. He said that the roads portion of this is in place, but buildings, facilities and parks have not been finalized.

Matt Williams pointed out that the city has reduced the total number of employees by over 100 since 2008, “and yet the total amount of compensation that the city is spending – salaries and benefits – actually increased. We went down from 450 to 350 employees and yet we’re spending more.”

He said that suggests the manner in which this was accomplished was less than efficient, and suggested “we really need to do a business process re-engineering in order to figure out how to run the system more efficiently and effectively.”

Matt Williams suggested that process has begun with the John Meyer study, but “we haven’t taken that momentum that John Meyer started and moved forward.”

On economic development, “We do not have enough jobs in the city to be able to keep the intellectual capital that comes out of UC Davis here in town and have that contribute to the sustainability of our local economy.”

So far, he says, we have done the right thing, but “the devil is in the details.” “Economic development is not a silver bullet, it doesn’t guarantee us increased revenues,” he said.

On Nishi, he said, “it’s a very good project, no project is perfect.” In terms of finances, “there are places where the content and the accuracy of the fiscal analysis was lacking. The council and the developer are doing everything they can to address those issues.” The Finance and Budget Commission meets tonight at 7:00 in Council Chambers to hear the most recent additions to the completeness and accuracy of the fiscal analysis. At the Vanguard workshop on Nishi last weekend, Williams encouraged everyone in the audience to come and attend tonight’s FBC meeting.

Matt Williams said, “If we, in fact, get information that tells us that this truly is a fiscally sustainable project that is going to be a net positive for the community, I think that Nishi is ready to go to the voters.”

He explained that aspects of this proposal are controversial. For instance, there are people who oppose the housing at Nishi. For Matt Williams, “I strongly believe that the second biggest problem that Davis has is the student housing problem. The 650 units that are proposed for Nishi mean that there are going to be 650 bedrooms of single-family homes in Davis that are not likely to be converted from housing to mini-dorms. That’s an important issue that I think that Nishi addresses to a certain extent.”

He called it a “tidal wave” or “tsunami” “that is coming out of UC Davis in terms of additional students without housing, it is going to overwhelm anything that we do – we can’t just sit back and watch it destroy our community.”

On Mace Ranch Innovation Center, he strongly believes it will be severely challenged in getting companies “if there is not housing for the employees of those companies.”

“I believe that housing at the Mace Ranch Innovation Center property needs to be seriously explored,” he said. “I will adamantly oppose it if it’s a neighborhood. If it is like any other subdivision in Davis. That will not be targeted and will not stay as housing for the employees.”

“It needs to be live-work housing, if there is going to be any housing, it needs to be targeted to the employees of the new companies that come to Davis,” he said.

He pointed out that we are not at the stage where we are making a decision on MRIC, but, if “we were making a decision today, it would be a political calculation. It would not be an evidence-based decision.”

He noted, “We’re not going to please all of the people, all the time. Ultimately, because it’s a Measure R project, it’s going to go to the voters and if the voters feel that the project that is put before (them) is not a good one, they will vote it down. That’s one of the real beauties of Measure R.”

Ultimately, he says, Davis has to be sustainable. In the last ten to fifteen years, Davis has only grown by about 5000 people. But within that you have seen huge spikes in UC Davis students, as well as significant spikes in seniors over 55, and a decrease of 25-54 age brackets as well as a decline in the number of kids in DJUSD.

“That’s not sustainable,” he said. “If we are going to grow, it needs to be because we are growing a more sustainable community.”

Davis is a place where people move to and want to stay. “What we need to do is grow jobs and housing so that people in the 25- to 54-year-old age bracket will keep Davis as a sustainable community,” he stated. “Otherwise it will turn into a food court and a service mall.”

Right now there are four candidates for three spots. Incumbents Lucas Frerichs and Brett Lee have announced they will seek reelection. Mayor Dan Wolk is running for State Assembly and not seeking reelection. Will Arnold and Matt Williams have announced they will seek the city council for the first time.

The filing period will open on February 16 (since the 15th is a holiday), and we expect more candidates to announce in the coming weeks.

—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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57 Comments

    1. David Greenwald

      It is possible – the EIR laid out how. The developer however does not want to make it a formal requirement, rather they believe through sequencing they can make it so that predominantly employees live there.

    1. The Pugilist

      So you’d rather vote for someone who is makes decisions without considering all the options?  He didn’t say he would support housing only that he has a process to follow.  That is refreshing to me.

        1. Matt Williams

          BP, your statement is not factually accurate as you have written it.  It would be factually accurate if it said, “Adding housing to MRIC is nothing more imo than a bait and switch from what we were told in mid stream that the project was going to be.” 

          No housing only appeared as a direction when the RFEI was released by the City on May 21, 2014 with the inclusion of guiding attribute #12 “Acknowledgement of communities current desire for no residential to be included.”

           

        2. Barack Palin

          Not inaccurate at all Matt.  The original project was slated not to have any housing and even the developer originally said their wouldn’t be any housing.  It’s now appearing to much of the public that we’re being bait and switched.

          1. David Greenwald

            The problem I think, BP, is you are attributing an alternative proposal that has been floated by the developer with the public being misled. I think it’s unlikely that the council will go the direction of the alternative for political reasons, but I do think it makes potentially the project stronger. Ultimately, as I say, the council will be risk averse and stick with the original conception of no housing.

        3. CalAg

          “Not inaccurate at all Matt.  The original project was slated not to have any housing and even the developer originally said their wouldn’t be any housing.  It’s now appearing to much of the public that we’re being bait and switched.” @ BP

          In addition, the developer has stated in public hearings that they we’re “initially” very opposed to housing at a time when they had already been polling on the issue and working with staff to create a strategy to add housing to the proposal during the DEIR process.

        4. Matt Williams

          BP and CalAg, I understand where you are coming from, but as a person who first began attending Innovation Center discussions even before the November 17, 2011 DSIDE “Who’s on First” brainstorming session at Odd Fellows Hall (see this LINK) I put the meaning of “originally” much further back in time than the issuance of the RFEI by the City in May 2014.

          With that said, it probably makes sense to agree to disagree at this time.  You have your reasons for your beliefs, and I respect that.

           

        5. CalAg

          The developer stated at the RFEI hearings that they supported the no-housing restriction. Also, my recollection is that several council members made unequivical statements about the no-housing restriction and used it as a justification for moving forward. I watched the process unfold as well.

        6. Matt Williams

          CalAg said . . . “The developer stated at the RFEI hearings that they supported the no-housing restriction. Also, my recollection is that several council members made unequivical statements about the no-housing restriction and used it as a justification for moving forward. I watched the process unfold as well.”

          What you have said is all correct.  It also ignores the fact that the RFEI hearings took place three full years after the initial discussions began.

          But as I said before, it makes sense to agree to disagree at this time.  You want to look at the 2014-2016 timeframe rather than the 2011-2016 timeframe.  That is your prerogative.  I respect your right to do that.

    2. Tia Will

      BP

      I can’t vote for anyone who is open to housing at MRIC.”

      Does this mean that you are really a single issue voter ?  I am asking sincerely since sometimes when people make a comment like this, they mean it literally and sometime they use it to express a very firmly held opinion subject to more information or position on other issues.

      1. The Pugilist

        But, those guys are way too independent to be a gang of three.  An independent voice doesn’t mean they vote the same, it means they are not beholden to the interests of the machine.

        1. The Pugilist

          Robb and Brett don’t vote the same on every issue.  Robb voted against the MOU, Robb for.  Brett was for the new city manager, Robb against.  Robb is much more pro-growth than Brett.  The machine is not issue based – it’s power based.

        2. The Pugilist

          I think you misunderstand what a machine is, you are confusing it with a voting bloc or alliance.

          Definition: “A political machine is a political organization in which an authoritative boss or small group commands the support of a corps of supporters and businesses (usually campaign workers), who receive rewards for their efforts.”

  1. Tia Will

    He didn’t say he would support housing only that he has a process to follow.  That is refreshing to me.”

    I believe that The Pugilist is making an important distinction here. Of the current council members Davis and Lee seem to have an internally consistent process for evaluating issues. I do not always agree with their decisions, but I at least have always been convinced that each was consistent in a fact or evidence based approach which is of critical importance to me.

  2. SODA

    I have been consistently impressed with how Matt gathers data and makes decisions based on available data. To me that is in line with Brett and Robb, not necessarily on the same side of issues, but evidence gathering. Not that the others never do, but it seems these three do more often.

  3. CalAg

    “I believe that housing at the Mace Ranch Innovation Center property needs to be seriously explored,” he said. “I will adamantly oppose it if it’s a neighborhood.” Matt Williams

    We’ve already been through this on another thread – and you’re still repeating the same talking point. The proposed MRIC housing is in two multi-family housing complexes. Here is a graphic (see page 3):

    http://documents.cityofdavis.org/Media/Default/Documents/PDF/CDD/ED/projects/Innovation-Centers/Mace-Ranch/Draft-EIR/8_Mixed-Use%20Alternative.pdf

    It will be typical multi-family near non-retail commercial, and this land use pattern is found frequently in Davis.

    The live-work scenario you are talking about is not feasible for this site – ask Tyler Schilling what he thinks about having residential units in his buildings. Even if it was, to go this direction would require a complete re-boot – with a new land plan, technical studies, and EIR.

        1. South of Davis

          Funny that as the city talks about building new housing and pays for staff to review studies they let the 100+ unit property owned by the city (Pacifico Student Housing Cooperative at 1752 Drew Circle) sit more than half empty (that just had a resident die in police custody) for YEARS and YEARS…

        2. CalAg

          “Funny that as the city talks about building new housing and pays for staff to review studies they let the 100+ unit property owned by the city (Pacifico Student Housing Cooperative at 1752 Drew Circle) sit more than half empty (that just had a resident die in police custody) for YEARS and YEARS…” @ SoD

          Great point.

          I’m sure that all the sky-is-falling 0.3%-ers will be all over this issue now that you have brought it to their attention.

          Any idea why there is no forward movement on this problem?

        3. South of Davis

          Don wrote:

          > It’s now 0.2%.

          The vacancy rate is only 0.2% if you don’t count the 50+ units at Pacifico that have been vacant for YEARS (just like the unemployment rate is only 4.9% if you don’t count the people that have been unemployed for YEARS)…

          Maybe David can ask the city why the Pacifico Property has been MORE than 50% vacant over the close to 5 YEARS the city has owned it.  Maybe it is time to fire Yolo County housing and hire Tandem (that has a 0.1% vacancy rate) to manage the place…

          1. Don Shor

            The vacancy rate is 0.2% based on the survey methodology used by ASUCD and the firm they contract with, so it compares readily to previous years. While I certainly take your point about Pacifico, and really, really wish that it could become a more effective part of the Davis housing stock, the point remains that apartment vacancies in Davis are at historically record low levels for the second year running.

        4. CalAg

          Coming back to the point of my post:

          “I believe that housing at the Mace Ranch Innovation Center property needs to be seriously explored,” he said. “I will adamantly oppose it if it’s a neighborhood.” Matt Williams

          MW: The multi-family housing that is proposed on MRIC is massed in a segregated complex – just like other multifamily sites in the City. For example, there’s a mass of two existing complexes approx 700 ft to the west of the site.

          How about a clear statement on the MRIC residential as proposed? I hope you do not decide to parse the word “neighborhood.”

          Just looking for common ground.

          For the record,  there are four vacant parcels inside the City limit (on Mace and/or 2nd) that could be zoned to provide some project-serving high density residential – three of which are adjacent to the MRIC site and one that is less than 400 feet away.

        5. Matt Williams

          As always thank you for the dialogue CalAg.

          CalAg said . . . “How about a clear statement on the MRIC residential as proposed? Just looking for common ground.”

          Based on what we heard last night from staff and the MRIC Development Team, because of the EIR results and Council direction, there really isn’t an “as proposed” MRIC.  It is a work-in-process.  Because the FBC imposed a strict 60-minute time limit on MRIC (in order to preserve a reasonable amount of time for the key item of the evening, Nishi), we never got to talk about mixed use at all.  So, under the umbrella of the FBC, I will have to wait until our March 14th meeting to see what the current MRIC configuration is and what the fiscal numbers are that result from that configuration.  Bottom-line, too much missing evidence to have any clear statement other than “too early to tell.”

          With that said, the version you provided a link to is from the August 2015 Draft EIR.  Based on what the MRIC Development Team presented to the Open Space and Habitat Commission on Monday, February 1st, that massed housing version is obsolete.  I don’t have a hard copy to refer to, only my recollections from the powerpoint projection at the other end of the room.  Based on what they heard from the OSHC members, I suspect the MRIC is making further “improvements” in the plan.

          CalAg said . . .  “The multi-family housing that is proposed on MRIC is massed in a segregated complex – just like other multifamily sites in the City. For example, there’s a mass of two existing complexes approx 700 ft to the west of the site.”

          Creating multi-family housing just like the other multi-family housing sites in the City will not (in my opinion) be a good idea, if we are going to maximize the chances that housing on the MRIC site will be predominantly rented by MRIC employees.  In my opinion, the two existing complexes to the west of the site are generic, commodity multi-family complexes that will be just as likely to be rented by a non-MRIC employee family as a MRIC employee family.

          CalAg said . . .  “For the record,  there are four vacant parcels inside the City limit (on Mace and/or 2nd) that could be zoned to provide some project-serving high density residential – three of which are adjacent to the MRIC site and one that is less than 400 feet away.”

          I do not rule out those four parcels as possibilities for housing that would be specifically and actively targeted to better meet the needs/desires of the MRIC employee demographic than the non-MRIC employee demographic.  However, I have heard nothing from any of the owners of those four parcels that would indicate that they are interested in building MRIC employee housing on any of their sites.

          FBC due diligence in the 150 day period from September to February added additional revenues to the $106,000 annual deficit at Nishi in the form of the $181,000 annual Parks and Open Space Assessment, the $93,000 annual Make Whole Provision, the $356,000 annual Community Services Assessment.  I am fully confident that FBC due diligence will be applied between now and the end of May to both the non-housing and the housing alternatives at MRIC.  I look forward to participating in, and contributing to, that process.

        6. CalAg

          “… there really isn’t an “as proposed” MRIC.  It is a work-in-process.” MW

          That’s pretty evasive. The general framework of the mixed use land plan has been in place since before Feb 2015 and the staff has been doing technical studies on this mix of land uses since then. Moreover, the City Council is scheduled to make a determination on MRIC housing at their next public hearing on this proposal (they deferred the decision at the last meeting).

          Will Arnold has made his position pretty clear, and we have a sense of where some of the council members will probably come down. David Greenwald is also predicting that the council will reject the mixed use alternative and require that the developers stick to the RFEI-compliant proposal (that they originally submitted and has been the focus of intense effort for more than a year).

          This is an issue because the bait-and-switch by the developers on housing at MRIC is doing major damage to the prospects that the project can be rehabilitated enough to get through Measure J/R.

        7. Matt Williams

          CalAg, you can call it evasive, but if it is indeed evasive (which I don’t believe it is), that is only in the Political Calculation framework.  Taking a position of a process that is still incomplete is purely and simply an act of pre-judgment.  I strongly believe that there is absolutely nothing to be gained by such a pre-judgment . . . other than political gain.

          I will stick by my strong belief that this City needs more evidence-based decisions, and fewer political calculations.  We need to transform Davis from a political organization to a professional organization.

          With that said, as I have said many times before your statement “the bait-and-switch by the developers on housing at MRIC” is not consistent with the facts.  If there has been any bait and switch at MRIC it has been by City staff.  It was City staff who issued the RFEI in May 21, 2014 with guiding attribute #12 in place (Acknowledgement of communities current desire for no residential to be included), and it was the City’s staff and CEQA consultants who put the Mixed Use Alternative on the table in their December 16, 2014 “Innovation Center Projects – Update, Task Force, Guiding Principles, and CEQA Alternative” report to Council.  The timing between Staff’s “bait” in May 2014 and Staff’s “switch” in November 2014 was just short of 6 months.

        8. CalAg

          (1) Your evidence vs politics dichotomy is too simplistic. Housing on MRIC is a policy issue. By failing to take action to shut this down, the City Council has put the MRIC entitlements at risk. This in turn, puts the City’s fiscal sustainability strategy at risk. Leadership requires one to make pragmatic choices – often without sufficient evidence and/or time.

          (2) While purging politics to make the organization more professional is a laudable goal, that would require removing several very senior members of the staff. I wish you the best of luck.

          (3) The bait and switch was not possible without cooperation from the developer. With control of the purse strings, it is highly unlikely that this was forced on the developer by staff. If you have any factual evidence to the contrary, then please share.

           

           

        9. Matt Williams

          CalAg said . . . “Your evidence vs politics dichotomy is too simplistic. Housing on MRIC is a policy issue.”

          I don’t disagree with you that housing at MRIC is a policy issue.  Where we disagree is whether the evidence gathered about the housing alternatives at MRIC is “materially complete and accurate.”  Making a decision without materially complete and accurate evidence is, in my opinion, a rush to pre-judgment.  My opinion also is that our community is not under any time pressure to make this decision in an accelerated timeframe.  Ballot language for a November 8, 2016 election isn’t due until mid-July.  We have plenty of time for due diligence.

          CalAg said . . . “The bait and switch was not possible without cooperation from the developer. With control of the purse strings, it is highly unlikely that this was forced on the developer by staff. If you have any factual evidence to the contrary, then please share.”

          The factual evidence is in the December 16, 2014 Staff Report.

          CEQA Requirements for Alternative Analysis

          The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires analysis of a range of reasonable alternatives to the project, or the location of the project, which would feasibly attain most of the projects basic objectives and avoid or substantially lessen the significant effects of the project. The range of alternatives is governed by the “rule of reason” which requires the EIR to set forth only those alternatives necessary to permit a reasoned choice (CEQA Guidelines Section 15126.6). The feasibility of an alternative may be determined based on a variety of factors, including but not limited to economic viability, availability of infrastructure, and plans or regulatory limitations (CEQA Guidelines 15126.6(f)(1)).

          At this early stage in the process the staff believes that the following range of alternatives satisfies these criteria and is appropriate and necessary for meeting the requirements of CEQA and ensuring legal defensibility.

          5. Mixed Use Alternative – This alternative assumes the introduction of a balance of high- density residential uses in both projects. The type of housing anticipated would be high density (over 30 du/ac), attached, multi-story live/work units designed specifically to house and support workers within the Innovation Center. It would include a mix of ownership and lease/rental units. Designs would incorporate green technology, high efficiency, compact form, with the latest technology and lifestyle features, and emphasis on low to no-vehicle use.

          Housing was not recommended for inclusion in project(s) during the RFEI process, nor are the applicants proposing housing as part of their proposals. However, CEQA requires that the lead agency test alternatives that could reasonably reduce significant impacts of the project. Staff anticipates that the project EIRs may identify significant impacts related to vehicle miles traveled, and air quality and greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, staff has concluded that a mixed use alternative will likely be necessary to satisfy CEQA requirements. There is a growing field of study that demonstrates that mixed uses can lower the traffic, air quality, greenhouse gas, energy efficiency, and related impacts of separated land uses. This alternative will test the possibility that a mix of innovation center and residential uses will generate lowered amounts of regional traffic, vehicle miles traveled (VMT), and greenhouse gas emissions as compared to the business-only proposals.

          During the review of the Guiding Principles with the various City Commissions, questions about the inclusion of a residential component were raised by the Bicycling, Transportation, and Street Safety Commission, the Natural Resources Commission, and Cool Davis.

    1. Tia Will

      CalAg

      ask Tyler Schilling what he thinks about having residential units in his buildings. Even if it was, to go this direction would require a complete re-boot – with a new land plan, technical studies, and”

      One of my objections to process in this case has been from the beginning that this project seemed to be tailored to the needs of Tyler Schilling. Now I have a great deal of respect for Tyler Schilling and the accomplishments of his company. However, with a project that is designed to benefit the entire community, I do not feel that the city should be encouraging one company’s or even one industry’s needs to dictate the specifics of a project. I think that it is completely reasonable to look at this issue from a broader perspective than that of potential company owners.

      If we have looked at this issue too narrowly interns of  what is optimal for the community, then a re-boot would seem to me to be indicated.

  4. Matt Williams

    SoD, based on the following information from the 2015 Vacancy Report  adding 50 vacant units for Pacifico would increase the calculation to 0.8%, which is still unhealthy according to all available industry standards.  The reason a vacancy rate that low is unhealthy is (A) that landlord’s are deferring maintenance on their apartments in order to reap the financial rewards of the “hot” rental market, and (B) that there is significant upward pressure on monthly rental fees that are already labeled as “unaffordable” by many.

     

    Survey respondents provided unit size detail for 8,143 units that are rented under unit lease arrangements, which account for 91 percent of all reported market rate rental units. Note that the survey results reported below exclude units for which unit size detail was not reported. Figure 1 illustrates the distribution of unit-leased apartments, by unit size. The majority of reported units had between one and three bedrooms. One-bedroom units accounted for 32 percent of the total, while two-bedroom units accounted for 45 percent. Three-bedroom units represented 14 percent. Four-bedroom apartments represented six percent of reported units, while studio units represented slightly under three percent.  […] The results reflect only those survey responses that provided unit size and vacancy details. According to survey respondents, there were 16 vacant apartments available for lease on a unit-lease basis, which translates to a vacancy rate of 0.2 percent.

     

      1. CalAg

        The weasel words tell the real story:
        –  respondents
        –  all reported
        –  exclude
        –  reflect only

        Is the Davis vacancy rate is too low? Yes.

        How low? Nobody really knows.

        Should the low vacancy rate be used to drive bad planning? No.

        1. Don Shor

          No weasel words.

          Survey respondents
          – all reported market rate rental units
          – survey results reported

          Yes. That’s the jargon survey professionals use.

          The results reflect only those survey responses that provided unit size and vacancy details

          Yes. That is exactly how it has worked for the last forty years that they’ve done the survey.

          The Davis vacancy rate is too low. How low? Nobody really knows.

          They know that of those that responded, there were 16 apartment units available, which is a vacancy rate of 0.2%, which is lower than the 0.3% rate they found last year. And since they’ve done the survey for years, it is a useful reference point.
          Not sure why you’re working so hard to discredit this data.

        2. Don Shor

          Should the low vacancy rate be used to drive bad planning? No.

          Ah, so this is the crux of it. Well, bad planning is what you get when the university grows by thousands of students and hardly any new housing is built on or off campus. What we have now is bad planning. It’s really bad for the young adults who are trying to rent here, and for the young families who wish to buy housing here.
          The low vacancy rate, currently 0.2% by a reputable study by a reputable firm, tells us that we have been planning very badly and that more rental housing needs to be built off campus, and more student housing needs to be built on campus.

      2. Don Shor

        Not at all. The apples to apples comparison is the apartment vacancy rate from year to year over the last 40 years. I don’t know why you choose to disparage the methodology. The rate as determined by their method is 0.2%. Last year it was 0.3%. That is historically low, it is getting lower.
        I really don’t get why you keep questioning this. Is there some point you really want to make? You feel there’s a sufficiency of apartments? That the rental rate is really much higher than they’ve found? That there’s nothing to worry about?
        Tell that to anyone who’s trying to rent in this market right now.

  5. Tia Will

    Don

    Please clarify something for me. Does the vacancy number apply to apartments, or to rooms, or to beds. There is obviously a difference. At various times in my life, I have shared a dorm room, lived alone in a single apartment, shared a single apartment, alone in a one bedroom apartment, sharing a two bedroom apartment, alone in my two bedroom bungalow and sharing my two bedroom bungalow. With my children, then husband, and two children in a four bedroom plus study. Some were enjoyable, all were adequate. So I think that it is very important to be clear on what this rate is referring to before deciding just how dire the circumstances really are while acknowledging that the situation is of great importance.

    1. hpierce

      The vacancy rate is based on units under rental agreements… unless you are proposing that a single renter should have to accept another person in a single room that could accept two beds, or that renters must have at least one other for each bedroom, am not understanding your point.

      1. Tia Will

        Thanks for the clarification Don

        hpierce

        unless you are proposing that a single renter should have to accept another person in a single room that could accept two beds, or that renters must have at least one other for each bedroom, am not understanding your point.”

        I was asking for information. I was not proposing that any renter should “have to accept” any given living situation. I was expressing the range of living arrangements that worked for me. This in no way means that it would or should work for everyone. I strongly suspect that differing individuals will find differing arrangements more or less acceptable. Some might find a one bedroom apartment for one person the minimum acceptable. Others who do not mind dorm like arrangements might find two single beds in one room an entirely acceptable arrangement. I think that the best situation is to have options, but those options do not have to be identical or even to meet your or my minimal acceptable to be acceptable for some.

    2. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > Please clarify something for me. Does the vacancy number apply

      > to apartments, or to rooms, or to beds.

      Don is correct that the vacancy rate in Davis is low, but it is not as low as 0.2% since the survey does not count the many rooms and beds available in town (see links below) or any of the vacant units in the poorly managed properties that do not bother to answer the survey (like the 100+ unit “city owned” Pacifico Apartment that has over 50 vacant units for at least 5 years and was 89% vacant when the Cal Aggie did a story on the place in October of 2011)…

      http://ucdavis.uloop.com/housing/

      https://sacramento.craigslist.org/search/hhh

      https://sacramento.craigslist.org/search/roo

      1. Don Shor

        but it is not as low as 0.2% since the survey does not count the many rooms and beds available in town

        Obviously not, since it is the apartment vacancy rate. Not the rooms-in-town vacancy rate.
        They have never had 100% survey response. That would be pretty unusual for any kind of survey, I’d think.

      2. Matt Williams

        SoD’s three links are very illuminating on two levels.

        First, most (but not all) of the listings for currently available rentals are for individual rooms within already rented units

        Second, a substantial portion of the listings are for Fall availability . . . with the very clear message that in the Davis apartment rental market if you snooze, you lose.

         

         

    3. Don Shor

      The number that I cite, the 0.2% vacancy rate, is the apartment vacancy rate. So each of these:

      shared a single apartment, alone in a one bedroom apartment, sharing a two bedroom apartment

      is an apartment. That is what they have compared over the years, and they break it down by type of apartment.
      http://housing.ucdavis.edu/_pdf/vacancy_report/2015-vacancy-report.pdf
      They have recently begun tracking “bed” vacancies as well. Apparently about 9% of the units in town do ‘bed lease’ arrangements. See p. 4 of the link. That is kind of equivalent to the sublease arrangements that have always existed, but weren’t tracked as to vacancy before so there is no basis of comparison over the years. And it isn’t something that allows us to compare to other cities or what the industry considers a healthy apartment vacancy rate (5%). So it will be useful data over time, but doesn’t tell us anything now.

  6. ruralknight

    It’s refreshing to hear a candidate address the housing crisis. For those of you who support MRIC w/o housing you’re essentially supporting a huge “business park” located on the fringe of town. These business parks led to the sprawling communities in Silicon Valley destroying open space and causing mass increase of GHG emissions. Is this really what you want Davis to become?

    And before you start hailing Measure J/R, once the old guard passes the torch to others, this measure could potentially be overturned especially as the young professionals find it harder and harder to live here. But I digress.

    Shouldn’t any development in town moving forward be one using smart growth principles creating healthy, sustainable communities? We can come together as a community and require the developer to do MRIC right. We can develop a list of community benefits and negotiate a legally binding agreement with them in order for them to get our support. Let’s use Measure J/R for the right purposes. Let’s come together and get what we want to make this project one that will affect many generations to come in a positive way.

    I’ll vote yes for a project that meets smart growth, sustainability goals…but NO to an eyesore of a BUSINESS PARK.

     

  7. Jim Frame

    For those of you who support MRIC w/o housing you’re essentially supporting a huge “business park” located on the fringe of town. These business parks led to the sprawling communities in Silicon Valley destroying open space

    Except in this case there’s no place for sprawl to occur — the site is surrounded by roads and existing development on 2 sides and a deeded conservation easement on the other 2 sides.  Most of the land to the north and east of the conserved land is in a flood zone and thus unattractive for development.

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