Commentary: We Need a Realistic Plan for Student Housing

West Village
West Village

Call the issues 1 and 1a and assign the rank order according to your preference, but the two biggest issues for the city heading into the 2016 elections are the budget (including tax revenue and economic development) and student housing.

The problem is simple: Davis has a housing vacancy rate of around 0.2%.  UC Davis is under a legislative mandate to increase enrollment over the next few years.  Bob Segar from the university has said on multiple occasions that UC Davis will not be adding enough housing to accommodate the increased enrollment.

The solution is complicated.

There is a temptation by some to demand that the university not add enrollment without accommodating them with housing.  However, giving students access to a UC Davis and a UC education is not something we should be playing land-use politics with.  Whatever inconvenience additional students might cause us from a planning and land use perspective pales in comparison to the value that those students and, indeed, our society gains from having more students with a high quality education.

UC Davis does not really answer to anyone. The legislature might hold the purse strings, but most are not going to care whether they inconvenience communities with demands for additional student housing.

The city really has little recourse if the university adds students without accommodating them.

There are some advantages to the university rather than the city adding student housing. First, from a sustainability standpoint and a traffic impact standpoint, locating students as close to the university as possible seems to make a lot of sense.  However, even adding students, the university will have huge impacts on the city in terms of congestion and the need for additional services to accommodate them.

As the difficulties and costs for developing West Village show, on-campus housing might not be the panacea either. The cost of housing can be higher due to construction costs and laws associated with it.  Moreover, developing additional housing along the Russell Boulevard corridor could add to congestion and traffic impacts.

The city also has an opportunity to take a chunk out of student housing needs internally.  The Nishi project could provide up to 1500 beds for students in an area that is right next to campus that would avoid additional traffic and road impacts to the city.  This requires a Measure R vote, but, by limiting cars on the site, the impact on the congested Richards Blvd. could be minimized.

The Sterling apartment development is drawing criticism from neighbors at Rancho Yolo, but it could also provide a huge amount of housing for students.  One suggestion to limit the impact of additional cars would be limiting parking spaces for the residents of the apartments.

The Lincoln 40 apartments could also start to alleviate student housing impacts, as well.

None of those apartment complexes will solve the rental housing crisis. But by providing over 3000 beds for students, it would certainly take a bite out of the overall concern.

However, the Vanguard agrees with those who believe that growth and housing alone will not solve this problem.

Instead, the city should work closely with UC Davis as it develops its LRDP (Long Range Development Plan).  The city can help the university to develop appropriate sites for additional housing.  The city as well as private developers can find ways to partner with the university to develop affordable (small “a”) student housing that can help to alleviate the shortage of student housing.

The city is not in a position to make “demands,” as the university does not answer to the city.  However, by working together, the city and university can get more of what each needs.

We need to start to understand the constraints and costs the university faces and work at creative ways to resolve that.

The stakes here are quite high. As the Vanguard has noted previously, demographics will push university students into a numerical majority in town.  Right now, most of those students do not vote in Davis and do not generally vote on local issues.  But a housing crisis that leads to skyrocketing costs and shortfalls in housing can change that rapidly.

The clock is really ticking.  Right now Measure R is set to expire in June of 2020.  That is just four years away.  A failure to appropriately act by the city could result in large numbers of students coming out to vote and creating major changes in land use policies.  Remember, the election in 1972 marked a similar turning point in the future of this community.

The key is for the city and university to figure out how many students are coming in the next 20 years, come up with a viable plan to accommodate them, and work together to achieve that goal.

Can this happen?  Time will tell.  But the future of Davis will be determined by what we come up with right now.

—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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74 Comments

  1. Tia Will

    Whatever inconvenience additional students might cause us from a planning and land use perspective pales in comparison with the value that those students and indeed our society gains from having more students with a high quality education.”

    While I agree with most of the points made in this article, there is one item that I strongly disagree with. Frequently in writing about the effects of the constant pressure for more student housing, the word “inconvenience” is used to describe the effects on the city and the neighborhoods involved. While this is certainly true when talking about the peripheral effects on adjacent and distant neighbors, it is anything but true for those proposals in which residents are being displaced in order to build these new, large student complexes. I think that most of us would consider it much more than “inconvenient” if it were our home of many years that was scheduled for destruction in order to accommodate these students especially if there was no comparable replacement available to us.

  2. South of Davis

    Tia wrote:

    > it is anything but true for those proposals in which residents are

    > being displaced in order to build these new, large student complexes.

    Can you name even a single person that lives at the sites below and will be “displaced” if we build more apartments?

    Olive Drive Vacant Lots

    Nishi

    Covell Village

    The Cannery

    Trackside

    Families First

    P.S. It is true that the residents of Old East Davis (many who claim to walk and ride their bikes most days) might be “inconvenienced” for a few seconds as they wait for people to turn in to Trackside while they are driving home from downtown…

     

    1. Alan Miller

      SOD:  True for all of your examples except one:  Lincoln 40 or what you call “Olive Drive Empty Lots”.   There are several dozens of people currently occupying housing there in houses and apartments that will be removed.  I could indeed ‘name’ some of them as you requested, but I won’t.

      “It is true that the residents of Old East Davis (many who claim to walk and ride their bikes most days) might be “inconvenienced” for a few seconds as they wait for people to turn in to Trackside while they are driving home from downtown…”

      What does that have to do with anything? I do ride my bike most days, so why do you say “driving home from downtown”. You are I think describing traffic effects, which are cumulative and, if allowed to reach a tipping point, can become destructive. Your simple comment does nothing to address real effects.

      1. South of Davis

        Alan wrote:

        > Lincoln 40 or what you call “Olive Drive Empty Lots”.

        > There are several dozens of people currently occupying

        > housing there in houses and apartments that will be removed.

        Looking at the photo on the link below it looks like the little apartment across from the storage place is not part of the “Lincoln 40” property.  Looking at Google Earth I do a see a few small buildings on what I thought was all vacant lots (I don’t drive down Olive very often)

        http://habitatadvisors.com/index.php/properties/investment-opportunities/38-properties/81-rapid-planning

        1. Tia Will

          SOD

          Alan is correct in his response. I will also not name names for the sake of the anonymity of those affected. But I will stand my ground that for the inhabitants of these apartments, the issue is far more than inconvenience.

      2. hpierce

        Alan is correct, but I think the word ‘apartments’ would have better characterized as ‘rental units’… they (as I understand it) were homes, out-buildings, and ‘granny flats’ owned by the Calloris…

  3. Eileen Samitz

    David,

    Your article points out the problems but does not cover enough about the facts regarding UCD’s responsibility here. It is UCD that is being the opportunist victimizing the students and our community. UCD has an MOU with our City from 1989 saying they would provide at least 25% of their student population plus 35% of incoming and the objective was to not cause unnecessary impacts on our City. The 2002 “UC Housing for the 21st Century”document stated that UCD was to build 38% of the student population housing with a goal of 40% by 2012. UC systemwide goal was to be 42% for all campuses.

    Meanwhile, UCD has announced it is spending $1 Billion dollars on projects like the Schrem Art Museum, The Ann E. Pitzar Music Center and and International Student Center, all of which are being built right now. Meanwhile, on student housing, they are adding a mere 500 freshman dorm  beds to Tercero to accommodate 9,500 freshman that they want to admit this fall.

    The real problem is UCD has not had its priories straight for a long time now and that needs to change. UC and UCD knew that they were accelerating their student admissions years ago, and all they did was renovate and added some expansion to freshman dorms which kick out the students in one year to fend for themselves to find housing. So UCD should have been building on-campus apartments for all these years for the full 4-5 year term the students are attending UCD, not just renovating and expanding some one-year freshman dorms. They have 5,000 acres so there is no excuse what this on-campus housing has not happened.

    Meanwhile, our community is being impacted by a disproportionate amount of our housing being used by UCD students after they are forced out of the freshman dorms, pushing our workforce and families out of our City’s rental housing.

    So this is a huge integrity issue at this point, entirely on UCD needing to step up and provide the promised on-campus housing needed for these students. The State legislature are fed up with UC and so are many California residents including many, many folks in Davis. This problem is due to a lack of planning by UCD and they need to get the lead out and build the on-campus apartments needed now.  Also, rather than closing down on-campus housing like Orchard Park for over 2 years now, UCD needs to have a plan that they will implement immediately before close down any more housing. UCD are talking about closing down Solano Park this year, so UCD would have even less housing. How long will Solano Park be closed? How much income has UCD lost about is continuing to lose having Orchard park closed and the potential closing of Solano Park?

    The obvious solution is that it is time for UCD to actually build the housing they have promised our City for almost three decades on the campus now.

    1. South of Davis

      Eileen wrote:

      > Meanwhile, UCD has announced it is spending $1 Billion

      > dollars on projects like the Schrem Art Museum, The

      > Ann E. Pitzar Music Center

      It looks like gifts from rich people are funding the Art Museum and Music Center so all we need to do is find some rich people who want donate millions and get their name on a freshman dorm.

      http://www.ucira.ucsb.edu/10-million-gift-will-help-build-new-uc-davis-art-museum-2/

      http://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/5-million-gift-from-ucd-grad-supports-new-music-recital-hall/

      P.S. At least UCD is not spending $800K on a playground…

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        Dorms generate cash flow, and the land – in essence – is free. … Lofty design goals with solar this, radiant that, and plush amenities just drive the costs higher. How bout some basic rooms with no parking allotment?

    2. Mark West

      Even if UCD provided all the housing that Eileen believes was ‘promised,’ we would still have an acute housing shortage in Davis. This repetitive rant against what the University ‘needs to do’ is nothing but a smoke screen to divert attention away from Davis doing what Davis needs to do.  No University of California campus houses all of its students, and all depend on the surrounding communities to share in that responsibility. That is one of the tradeoffs for having a world class University in our community. Davis has the responsibility to house a large portion of the UCD students, as well as the absolute responsibility of housing all of our own residents.  We are failing on both fronts.

      Stop the nonsense whining about the University and start addressing the City’s responsibilities of housing our residents and paying our bills.

       

  4. Alan Miller

    A failure to appropriately act by the city could result in large numbers of students coming out to vote and creating major changes in land use policies.

    I still don’t believe this.  Students on campus can’t vote in the City, and students as a whole don’t vote much.  They will seek and find their place to live, in Davis or not, do their time, and get out of Davis.  They don’t have the perspective to organize and vote for the next generation of students.  A few may see it, but as a whole, students are into partying and studying, not Davis City politics.  Look at the pathetic ASUCD election percentages where the results directly affect the students.  Still very little.

      1. Alan Miller

        I’m not saying the numbers wouldn’t increase.  Usually those who really get involved, even enough to vote, much less become activists, is small.  You have a lot more faith in a student housing uprising than I do.

        Both Berkeley and Santa Cruz, as examples, have horribly low vacancy rates and horribly high rents that dwarf Davis’ problems (largely because relatively nearby, cheap-ish alternatives exist for Davis).  Student energy is focused on finding a place to live and paying for it, not in changing the situation for the next wave of students.

        1. Justice4All

          Historically, students have shown the capacity to organize and vote in a bloc. Who remembers Lamar Heystek? With that in mind there is a LOT of organizing going on right now to register students to vote, and participate in June. Dont count your chickens…

  5. Eileen Samitz

    Mark West:

    I am sorry but I do not agree with your comments. You seem to want to defend UCD’s negligence to providing the promised on-campus housing for almost three decades. To me and everyone I have discussed this with, this is indefensible. So let’s just stop using ugly works like “rant” if you don’t mind. I could say that about your comments, but then I would sound as mean-spirited as you do.

    So Mark, let’s just say that we agree to disagree. And I can say for a fact, that many, many Davis residents agree with my position on this lack of on-campus housing issue that UCD needs to fix, particularity since UCD committed to providing it many years ago in an MOU, and in more recent years in UC’s own “UC Housing for the 21st Century” plan. This IS an issue about UC and UCD integrity to keep their commitments to their students as well as to our community, as well as fairness, planning, and frankly a very big  tax-payer issue as well.

    1. Mark West

      Eileen Samitz: “You seem to want to defend UCD’s negligence”

      Nope.  I have not defended UCD at all.

      “I can say for a fact, that many, many Davis residents agree with my position on this lack of on-campus housing issue that UCD needs to fix…”

      UCD does have a problem that they need to address, here I don’t disagree with you.  Whether or not they address that issue, however, does not change the fact that Davis has an acute housing shortage.  You have repeatedly used UCD’s failure to address student housing as a reason for Davis not to address our own housing shortage.  That is where you are completely wrong.  Even if UCD built all the housing you claim they have promised, we would still have an acute shortage of housing in Davis. We need to stop using the University as an excuse and start addressing our own needs and responsibilities.

  6. Eileen Samitz

    Matt,

    I only have an old hard copy of the MOU but the important language is that UCD committed to providing on-campus housing for 25% of their student population, and 35% of the incoming student population. That has never happened. Just as importantly, UC’s own 2002 document “UC housing for the 21st Century” planned for 38% on-campus housing on-campus with a goal of 40% at UCD.  A goal of 42% was a UC systemwide goal.  Both documents acknowledged why this on-campus housing was important because of the impacts on the cities that UC campuses were located, if the needed on-campus housing did not get built. That is exactly what we are experiencing.

    So UC and UCD have know about this housing need for decades and acknowledged it, but did not move forward with even their own plans to address it. Now is the time for the public to raise this issue particularly since UCD’s freshman class admitted 60% non-residents students, and denied 11.2% California state students last fall. Meanwhile UC and UCD did not do what they needed to in providing the housing needs for the ramped up admissions since 2011. All of this is inexcusable and needs to be addressed now.

    1. Matt Williams

      Eileen, thanks for the update.  If you can scan the old hard copy, or if you prefer I can pick it up from you and take it to a scanner and scan it and then return it an hour later, that would be much appreciated.   I have an electronic copy of the 2002 “UC Housing for the 21st Century,” which I have provided to Don, who has posted it on his website.

      Your words “UCD committed to providing on-campus housing for 25% of their student population, and 35% of the incoming student population” are intriguing.  Depending on how the MOU defines “incoming student population,” UCD appears to have exceeded that 35% target over the years, since 65% of incoming students are Freshmen (5,369 in 2015-2016 out of 8,301 according to https://www.ucdavis.edu/sites/default/files/upload/files/uc-davis-student-profile.pdf).   35% of 8,301 is 2,905, which is 54% of the incoming Freshmen.  The hearsay percentages of Freshmen living in the Residence Halls (Tercero, Segundo and Cuarto Halls) I have heard is closer to 90%.

      With that said, the “25% of the student population” 1989 MOU commitment does appear to indeed be problematic, and the 2002 UC Housing for the 21st Century commitments are even more so.

  7. Robb Davis

    Just FYI: MOU information between UCD and City from last Housing Element that ended in 2013.

    Appendix Q

    UC Davis Goals in the Provision of On-Campus Student Housing

    Background

    The current UCD-City of Davis MOU speaks to UC Davis having a maximum of 26,000 students by 2005-06. To date UC Davis student enrollment is 30,685. The information below from the UC Davis Long-range Development Plan references the University’s current goals related to on-campus student housing.

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

    Existing On-Campus Housing Provisions and Future Goals, As Stated in the Current UC Davis Long-range Development Plan

    “In 2001-02, on-campus student housing accommodated approximately 5,800 UC Davis students, or approximately 23 percent of the student population.

    The 2003 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) anticipates development of new student housing on the Central Campus to accommodate approximately 2,000 additional students through 2015-16, including housing already underway at the Segundo complex. The 2003 LRDP identifies new areas for student housing on a vacant site northwest of the Orchard Park Housing Complex, on a site that is currently developed with greenhouses south of Orchard Park Housing, and at the Tercero complex. New student housing under the 2003 LRDP would also be constructed as infill within existing housing areas.

    Additionally, the 2003 LRDP designates land for student housing west of SR 113, south of Russell Boulevard, and north of Hutchison Drive as part of the proposed Neighborhood Master Plan (NMP) known as the West Village Project. Approximately 3,000 upper-division undergraduate and graduate students will be accommodated in apartment-style housing and cottages if financially feasible. Total on-campus student housing is planned to accommodate approximately 36 percent of the student population through 2015-16 if financially feasible. This would equate to housing 97 percent of the (increased) Davis-based student enrollment between 2001-02 and 2015-16.”

    City Council Action

    In March 2005, with its adoption of the 1% Growth Guideline in Resolution 05-27, the City Council adopted the following action:

    “4c. Prepare a joint housing strategy, Memorandum of Understanding, or similar document in cooperation with UCD. Consider as one issue whether UCD should

    287 increase the planned student housing to meet the UC system wide planned average of 38% of enrollment.”

    This action was maintained with Council’s clarification of the growth guideline in February 2008 with Resolution 08-019. This action is incorporated, with further clarification using information regarding UC system wide goals, as Action d. under Policy HOUSING 1.5 of the Housing Element.

     

  8. Mark West

    “UCD committed to providing on-campus housing for 25% of their student population”

    Which means Davis is responsible for the other 75%.

    “So UC and UCD have know about this housing need for decades and acknowledged it, but did not move forward with even their own plans to address it.”

    Davis has known about the housing shortage for decades as well and has done little or nothing in the past 20 years to address it.

    What we have here are parallel problems, that have been ignored by both entities. We are in no place to complain about what UCD has or has not done until we work to address our own housing shortage.

    1. hpierce

      Davis is NOT responsible for 75%… no one is… they might find housing in Dixon, Winters, Woodland, West Sac… but no-one is “responsible” for student housing, just like no one is “responsible” to house the homeless (weak analogy, but I’m going with it).

      Note the 25% figure… one class of students… first-year freshmen.  I lived in the dorms for 3 years (early-mid 70’s), but was then ‘kicked out’ to accommodate freshmen/sophomores… the University does not see their mission as housing or parking… it is their educational mission alone… everything else, to them, are “like to haves”… expendable… someone else’s issue…  suspect that will not change, despite any rhetoric to the contrary…

      1. Mark West

        hpierce:  “Davis is NOT responsible for 75%… no one is”

        If the University supplies housing for 25% (a big if, since they are nowhere near that point today) then we have to accept the obvious that the other 75% will be looking for a place to live, with Davis in most cases being their first choice.  You are absolutely correct that we are in no way obligated to provide them with a place to live, but we are responsible for the impacts on the community if they are unable to find a suitable place.  If there are insufficient apartments available, they will take over the single family homes, displacing young families. If they are unable to find housing in Davis, they will commute from surrounding communities, increasing greenhouse gas production.  The resulting demographic shift and the long-term consequences to the environment will be our responsibility. So, while you are right we are not responsible for their housing, we are responsible for the consequences of their not finding sufficient housing in the community. We will be far better off if we stop complaining and build the apartments.

  9. Tia Will

    Mark

    What we have here are parallel problems, that have been ignored by both entities. We are in no place to complain about what UCD has or has not done until we work to address our own housing shortage.”

    Please consider this an honest question. How do you propose sorting out what is “our own housing shortage” from the housing shortage related to the presence of UCD students needing housing ? Another way of looking at this is, what would the vacancy rate of rentals in Davis be if every single student were to be housed on campus ?  This would be the only way that I can see to differentiate “our housing shortage” from that engendered by UCD.

    1. Mark West

      Tia:  “How do you propose sorting out what is “our own housing shortage…” 

      I don’t propose any such thing. It isn’t necessary to sort anything out, it is only necessary to open our eyes and face reality. We have a shortage of housing for young families. The consequence of that shortage is that we are losing the demographic that will be the future of Davis. We will know that we have addressed ‘our’ housing shortage when we have reversed that demographic shift.  It would be great if we could simply increase our stock of entry-level homes, but the current economic reality is that the best use of those new homes would be as rental stock for students. The only way that we can increase the stock of available homes for young families is to build apartments – lots of them. If the University helps us out and builds for their 25%, great, but their failure to do so is not a reasonable justification for us to do nothing. We are responsible for the consequences of the housing shortage in Davis, so we need to get off our collective butts and start solving the problem.

      1. Tia Will

        We are responsible for the consequences of the housing shortage in Davis, so we need to get off our collective butts and start solving the problem.”

        So please correct me if I am misunderstanding you. It would seem to me that you are saying that Davis has the responsibility to provide apartments for all the students whose needs are not met by the university in order to “provide housing” for the demographic that you are most interested in preserving places for in town. It would seem to me that the logical extension of that thought process is that UCD could expand to whatever number they chose, and Davis would simply have to keep expanding to cover their admissions.  While I can accept collaboration to meet the housing needs, I cannot accept Davis unilaterally promising to meet all student needs so as to preserve housing stock for any preferred demographic group.

        1. Don Shor

          The university needs to provide housing. There is a need for more rental housing in the city. And some employees and students will choose to live elsewhere and commute in.
          Too much binary thinking going on around this topic. The demand is so high and the supply so low right now that it isn’t all one or all the other. Yes, put pressure on UCD to live up to their agreements. Yes, the council needs to develop a better working relationship with the university to deal with the impacts of enrollment changes. But more rental housing is desperately needed in town, and not just for students.

        2. Mark West

          “I cannot accept Davis unilaterally promising to meet all student needs so as to preserve housing stock for any preferred demographic group.”

          Davis does not need to act in order to benefit a ‘preferred demographic group’ as you claim, we need to stop acting in the ways that we have in the past that benefitted your demographic group over all others. Davis is not a Del Webb retirement community, so we need to stop acting like one.

          Davis has a severe shortage of housing that is suitable for students and young families. Both groups would benefit from our building more apartments, townhouses, and condominiums.  Neither group is well served by the million dollar homes that populate most of our recent developments.

          UCD also has a housing shortage, which I hope they will address. What needs to be clear is our stamping our feet, holding our breath until we turn blue, or throwing ourselves on the floor for a tantrum, will not change the amount of housing UCD provides. We simply cannot rely on UCD as a partner on housing at the present time.

          We have two options.  We can do nothing, as many prescribe, and watch the problem get worse, or we can act to relieve the negative impacts. Pointing fingers in an effort to assign blame may be popular with some, but it is a complete waste of time and frankly an outrageous way to act when there is a clear crisis that we have the ability to solve.

  10. Eileen Samitz

    Matt,

    I am just catching up on the posts on this article now, but what is clearly problematic is that UCD is nowhere close to providing 25%, no less 38% to 42% of what the University stated in 2002 that they were to provide for on-campus housing at UCD by 2012.

    There is NO excuse for this since UC system wide KNEW that they were to going to greatly increase and accelerate the number of students that they were adding to the UCD campus over a decade ago.

    There is NO excuse since UCD owns over 5,000 acres, so land availability is not an issue.

    There is NO excuse since UCD is spending $1 billion on capital projects like an art museum, another music recital center, and an international student center, ALL being built right now. But the provision of sufficient  student housing for the entire time the students attend UCD (4-5 years) on the campus has been grossly neglected for years by UCD.

    If that is not bad enough, 60% of last fall’s UCD freshman and were non-residents, while UCD denied admission to 11.2%  California taxpayers resident students. At the same time, UCD did not build the needed on-campus housing to accommodate even those non-residents for the 4 years or longer that they would attend UCD. They  simply renovated and somewhat expanded the freshman one year dorms to secure these new non-resident students and their almost triple tuition.  The situation is that then UCD pushes the freshman out after first year, to find housing “elsewhere” (like in our community and other cities) for the next 4-5 years that they attend UCD. So much for “green and sustainable” that UCD claims to practice.

    The basis of what is problematic is UCD’s negligence to provide the on-campus housing needed for their accelerated growth, which is a failure of the planning and management of UCD towards their students, as well as  our community.

     

     

  11. Eileen Samitz

     Even if UCD built all the housing you claim they have promised, we would still have an acute shortage of housing in Davis. We need to stop using the University as an excuse and start addressing our own needs and responsibilities.

    Mark,

    This is where we completely disagree. Owning more than 5,000 acres, UCD could house every one of their students in high density housing on campus if they wanted to. If that happened we would have plenty of available housing in Davis.

    The real issue is UCD needs to stop trying to find excuses to not build the promised on-campus housing for their own accelerated growth. The biggest insult is that UCD is complaining about a low rental vacancy rate in Davis, when it is UCD who are directly responsible for this due to their negligence in providing the needed on-campus housing for so many years. It is time for UCD to stop “kicking the can down the road” and start building the apartments on-campus for the students. It is UCD who is being completely irresponsible towards the students and our community.

    1. Mark West

      Knowing what you do about how the University functions Eileen, how soon do you expect the University to build all that housing?  Tomorrow?  Next year? Next century? Ever?

      We are currently living with the consequences of the severe shortage of apartments in town and it is materially harming our City and our quality of life.  How long to you propose we wait for the University to act (all while the City crumbles)?

      The real issue is that we have a severe housing shortage and you are looking for excuses not to address the problem. I think your position is short-sighted and ill-conceived.

       

    2. hpierce

      The keys are, they (UC) do not want to, they don’t have to provide the housing, and most students (beyond freshman year, and maybe even then) don’t want to live in a student ‘ghetto’ where the ‘landlord’ doesn’t have to provide “market” rates…

      Are you suggesting that students should be compelled to live on campus, if the university has the units to accommodate them? To loosen up the City housing “stock”?  I don’t think that’s your intent, but I thought (perhaps incorrectly) that was implied by your words.

    3. Matt Williams

      Eileen Samitz said . . . “UCD could house every one of their students in high density housing on campus if they wanted to. If that happened we would have plenty of available housing in Davis.”

      Eileen, your comment only addresses the supply side of the housing equation.  You are proposing a Field of dreams “build it and they will come” approach.  In order to have occupied housing you have to have both supply and demand.  As we have seen in the significantly lower demand at West Village than was projected, the actual demand for on-campus housing is much lower than was projected.

      As I said to Ron in my comment below, all you have to do is look at what is currently going on in Mrak Hall to see that college undergraduates once they get their first year away from home under their belt want to assert their independence from the authority of their parents (from birth through high school) and Mother University (freshman year).  Most students find it bad enough that “Mother” controls their lives through the awarding of grades, they don’t want “Mother” to be their landlord too.

      JMHO

      1. David Greenwald

        Talking to students, most don’t want to live on campus after their first year, so there is that problem. So I think Matt has a good point here.

        1. Don Shor

          They don’t have choices. So what they say to you anecdotally is pretty irrelevant. More than 90% of the freshmen live on campus. Something like 10% of sophomores do. I seriously doubt that the number who would choose to live off campus is as high as that, if there were options.

  12. Don Shor

    In 2013-14, the student population was estimated at 30,228. Where did they live?

    7073 (23.4%) were housed on campus or in West Village.

    3265 (10.8%) lived out of town.

    Nearly 20,000 (19890, 65.8%) lived in Davis.

    Add to that the increased enrollment of 2014-15 and 2015-16.

    Add the additional 1000 that the Chancellor has announced will be increased for 2016.

    Deduct the 300 they plan to house on campus somehow from that number.

    Data from Campus Travel Survey.

  13. Ron

    Mark:  “How long to you propose we wait for the University to act (all while the City crumbles)?”

    The city is not “crumbling”, from a lack of new housing.  (Housing has historically been a money-loser for cities over the long term.)  However, if you really want to see the city “crumble”, then support any and all ill-advised housing developments, and see how that affects our city.  (In terms of finances, traffic, congestion, impact on infrastructure and services, etc.  In other words, “crumbling”.)

    Mark:  “It would be great if we could simply increase our stock of entry-level homes, but the current economic reality is that the best use of those new homes would be as rental stock for students.  The only way that we can increase the stock of available homes for young families is to build apartments – lots of them.”

    Most families generally prefer purchasing homes – not living in apartments.  If you think there’s a shortage of new houses, perhaps you’ve forgotten about the Cannery, Chiles Ranch, etc.  The Cannery includes some (relatively) inexpensive town homes.  Of course, there’s also Woodland (with many new houses and apartments – about 6 miles away).   I’ve been told that many new families are settling there, and take public transit to the University.  (Probably the same is true for West Sacramento residents, etc.)

    I commuted via public transit for years (from Davis, to Sacramento).  I never considered this to be a “problem”.  Neither did many of my neighbors, whom I used to socialize with at the bus stop.

    HPierce:  Are you suggesting that students should be compelled to live on campus, if the university has the units to accommodate them?

    If the University provides adequate and affordable housing, students will likely gravitate toward it on their own.  If some students still want to live off-campus, they will still have opportunities to do so.

    The University recently asked for the community’s opinion (via online survey), regarding their plans to house their students.  I assume they wouldn’t ask, if they weren’t interested in knowing what the community thinks.

    1. Matt Williams

      HPierce asked . . . “Are you suggesting that students should be compelled to live on campus, if the university has the units to accommodate them?”

      Ron replied . . . “If the University provides adequate and affordable housing, students will likely gravitate toward it on their own.  If some students still want to live off-campus, they will still have opportunities to do so.”

      I believe you are wrong in your bolded point Ron.  All you have to do is look at what is currently going on in Mrak Hall to see that college undergraduates once they get their first year away from home under their belt want to assert their independence from the authority of their parents (from birth through high school) and Mother University (freshman year).  Most students find it bad enough that “Mother” controls their lives through the awarding of grades, they don’t want “Mother” to be their landlord too.

      JMHO

      1. Ron

        Matt:   “All you have to do is look at what is currently going on in Mrak Hall to see that college undergraduates once they get their first year away from home under their belt want to assert their independence from the authority of their parents (from birth through high school) and Mother University (freshman year).  Most students find it bad enough that “Mother” controls their lives through the awarding of grades, they don’t want “Mother” to be their landlord too.”

        It’s exceedingly difficult for me to support any (ill-advised) development simply because some students might want to exercise independence from the University.  This justification is grossly insufficient to sacrifice our neighborhoods, or allow sprawl.  Let the University deal with the problems associated with housing their own students.

        If students simply want to live off-campus (despite the availability of on-campus housing), there are already options available within Davis. Of course, students can also choose to live in a nearby surrounding community, at a much lower cost.  I strongly suspect that the vast difference in cost will not change, regardless of any ill-advised development constructed in Davis. I also suspect that many students and employees of the University are well-aware of this difference in cost, and are already taking advantage of the opportunity. (Public transit serves these communities, as well.)

        Regarding Mrak Hall, it’s also difficult for me to take the student housing “crisis” seriously, if students are not taking advantage of housing that the University already provides.  (This also does not provide sufficient justification to pursue ill-advised development.)

        1. Ron

          Also – I understand that apartments constructed on-campus would be much more desirable than dormitory-type housing.  The type of housing constructed on campus would likely make a big difference to students, when making choices.

        2. Matt Williams

          Ron, thank you for your thoughtful response.

          My observations focused on the human nature behavior of the students.  In your response you are unilaterally taking those observations to a justification and/or policy level.

          Getting back to the human nature observation level . . . what 2nd-year through 4tth-year undergraduates want.  If my human nature premise is correct, your statement “Let the University deal with the problems associated with housing their own students.” isn’t consistent with the realities of individual students and groups of students exercising their free will in a free market.  Parents paying the bills might be able to dictate to their children, but “Mother University” not so much.

          Which gets me to a question for you about your “sacrifice our neighborhoods” comment.  Are our neighborhoods currently being sacrificed . . . when Single Family Residences are converted to mini-dorms?  

        3. Ron

          Matt:  “Which gets me to a question for you about your “sacrifice our neighborhoods” comment.  Are our neighborhoods currently being sacrificed . . . when Single Family Residences are converted to mini-dorms?”

          Good point.  Perhaps enforcement of ordinances (regarding noise, etc.) can help alleviate this concern.  I assume this issue is largely contained within areas near the University.  To my knowledge, no one in my neighborhood has converted existing housing stock to “mini-dorms”.  (I wonder how many “investors”, if any, have purchased homes in the Cannery?)

          For me, the solution to the “mini-dorm” issue does not include construction of “massive-dorms” (e.g., large scale apartment complexes, aimed at students) at relatively far-flung sites (away from the University) in existing neighborhoods or beyond our borders.  (This basically magnifies/intensifies the problem that mini-dorms create.)  If that’s your goal, I’d have serious concerns about your focus if elected to the council.

        4. hpierce

          Matt:  [with tongue fully in cheek]

          Are our neighborhoods currently being sacrificed . . . when Single Family Residences are converted to mini-dorms?  

          Why should SF neighborhoods of owners not acknowledge their “privilege”?  Pretty damn arrogant of them.  They should demonstrate more ‘tolerance’.  And to demonstrate that, they should open their ‘restrooms’, if the mini-dorm cannot accommodate the demand for facilities…

          [obviously, Matt, any tone is NOT aimed at you]

        5. Matt Williams

          Ron said . . . “If that’s your goal, I’d have serious concerns about your focus if elected to the council.”

          As you have done before, in your comment above you are unilaterally taking my observations to a justification and/or policy level.  If we are going to make an informed, dispassionate decision we need to gather the data. My observations are data gathering, nothing more, nothing less.

          To put that into perspective with respect to how I will act if elected to council, here is the text of one of the core principles of my candidacy.

          When a question/proposal/tax/expenditure comes before Council, I will be asking, “Does this decision nurture and sustain our community?” 

          When the answer to that question is “We don’t know,” then it will be clear that we have more homework to do, necessary homework for making a well-informed decision that doesn’t create tomorrow’s problems.

          The perspective of the members of the community needs to be part of the homework

          For me, we are doing homework about the many facets of the housing issue we face in Davis.

        6. Ron

          Matt:  “As you have done before, in your comment above you are unilaterally taking my observations to a justification and/or policy level.  If we are going to make an informed, dispassionate decision we need to gather the data. My observations are data gathering, nothing more, nothing less.”

          Yes – since you are running for council, I try to determine the likely choices that you’ll make, based on your comments.  In other words, you’re not a “normal” commenter.  Your decisions will matter, if you’re elected.

          I would believe that you’re only interested in data gathering, if the majority of your comments didn’t already reflect a bias.  Although you frequently challenge my statements, you rarely (if ever) challenge anyone who favors developments with “facts” (e.g., how many developments has Davis already built over the past 20-30 years?  And, how many more will be required to solve the “problem”?  And, what negative effects would such development have?)

          I’m also concerned that you and some others on the finance and budget committee have purposefully disregarded the city’s professional consultant regarding the financial impacts of MRIC and Nishi.  (Not just once – but twice that I know of.)  (I understand that the range for Nishi STILL includes a deficit, all the way up to the optimistic $1.4 million (or higher) projections from the committee.) So much for “facts”, or evidence-based decision making.

          Matt:  “When a question/proposal/tax/expenditure comes before Council, I will be asking, “Does this decision nurture and sustain our community?”

          Yeah – great goal.  I suspect that you and I (and just about everyone else) will view it’s meaning entirely differently, when applying it to actual decisions.

          You owe it to the community to let them know what you (generally) support or don’t support.  You’ve got enough “facts” right now, regarding some issues.  (However, it’s pretty easy to figure out where you generally stand, for those who pay any attention.)

           

        7. Matt Williams

          Ron said . . .  “I’m also concerned that you and some others on the finance and budget committee have purposefully disregarded the city’s professional consultant regarding the financial impacts of MRIC and Nishi.  (Not just once – but twice that I know of.) “

          Ron, I think you need to fact check the bolded part of your statement above.  You will find, in the public record, that after the motion that you decry was made, I made a substitute motion on the table, which was seconded and voted on, that specifically did NOT disregard the city’s professional consultant’s findings.  Ray Salomon, Bill Wood and I voted for that motion, but it did not carry by a 3-4 vote.

          With that said, in Business School the graduate students are taught that “Cash Is King” and that a complete fiscal analysis should include both an income statement and a cash flow analysis.  The professional consultant was either instructed not to or chose not to include a cash flow analysis in the financial analysis of Nishi.  The FBC remedied that deficiency in its deliberations.  The other missing piece of the professional consultant’s financial analysis of Nishi was a trended annual revenue/expense/margin report.  I made the following motion at the March 14 FBC meeting, which passed by a 6-0-1 vote.

          The FBC recommends that City Council authorize EPS and staff to complete and publish prior to the May 2016 Mailing Date of Permanent Absentee Ballots, a trended report of year-by-year annual revenue/expense/margin contribution for the Nishi project from the date that Nishi’s entitlements are granted until full build-out is achieved.

          Later in that same March 14 FBC meeting I made the following additional motion regarding MRIC, which passed by a 6-1 vote.

          The FBC will not consider any economic analysis of the MRIC project proposal to be materially complete and accurate until and unless the analysis shows a trended annual revenue/expense/margin contribution from the date that entitlements are granted until full build-out is achieved.

          I encourage you to come to the monthly FBC meeting.  The next one is Monday, April 11th at Council Chambers at 7:00 pm.  The primary agenda item is slated to be the professional consultant’s latest analysis of MRIC.  It should be a very interesting meeting for you given your leanings.

           

        8. Matt Williams

          Ron said . . . “You owe it to the community to let them know what you (generally) support or don’t support.  You’ve got enough “facts” right now, regarding some issues.  (However, it’s pretty easy to figure out where you generally stand, for those who pay any attention.)”

          I have been crystal clear about what I support and don’t support.  I support open, transparent, inclusive processes that are reliable and repeatable, based on clearly establishing expectations, that are then successfully executed, delivering efficient and effective value to the community.  I do not support decisions that are based on political calculations, especially when they give away taxpayer money.

          I support the following process decision announced today by the City,

          This is to inform you that based upon comments submitted on the CEQA Initial Study and Draft Negative Declaration that was prepared for this project, and continued evaluation of the environmental and policy issues associated with the application, the Department of Community Development and Sustainability has determined that an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) will need to be prepared for the Sterling 5th Street Apartments project.

          The EIR will include a project scoping process and preparation and release of the Draft EIR document for public comment in the upcoming months. There is public noticing which is required. I will also continue to provide notification by email to those who have provided email comments on the project.

          Additionally, the project is scheduled to be presented to the Senior Commission at their meeting on April 14, 2016. Notice of the meeting will be mailed and emailed. Thank you.

          I also support the following proactive, inclusive efforts being made by the City regarding Measure O.

          The City of Davis, in partnership with the Open Space and Habitat Commission, is currently undertaking a major outreach effort to the Davis community to solicit a wide range of opinions, ideas and recommendations to strengthen the City’s Open Space Program. Two major components of this outreach effort include:
          Public Forum
          The City will be holding a major public workshop on this topic on Wednesday, March 9, 2016 in the multipurpose room of the Davis Senior Center from 6:30 – 9:00 p.m.

          The primary goals of the public workshop are to educate the citizens of Davis about Measure O and what the parcel tax dollars have purchased over the last 15 years, and solicit input from the community about how they would like those parcel tax dollars spent over the next 15 years, including identifying acquisition priority areas as well as the extent of public access.

          City staff and the Open Space and Habitat Commission will then use the results from the workshop to inform recommendations to the City Council for updating the City’s 2002 Open Space Acquisition and Management Plan.
          On-line Survey
          The City developed a brief, easy-to-complete, on-line survey that is designed to solicit feedback about the City’s open space areas and how they can be improved in the future. Take the survey.

          “We’re fortunate to live in a community that has such a strong ethos around the preservation of open space and habitat,” said City Councilmember Lucas Frerichs, who serves as the City Council’s liaison to the Open Space and Habitat Commission. “Having reached the halfway point in the 30-year timeline of Measure O, now is the opportune time for the community to take stock of what accomplishments we’ve achieved and what priorities are important moving forward. The City Council and the Open Space and Habitat Commission both value the input received from the community, so I hope as many people as possible are able to participate in the upcoming public forum.”

          The City’s formal Open Space Program was established in 1990 to implement long-standing policies that called for the protection of the farmlands and habitat areas that surround the community. Measure O, the parcel tax passed by Davis voters in 2000 that funds open space acquisition and maintenance, has been in place for 15 years. It works together with other tools in the City’s open space tool box to protect open space around the City. Using the tremendous leveraging power of Measure O, and in conjunction with other monetary tools, the City has been able to purchase about $22 million worth of conservation easements using only about $8.1 million in City funds. These purchases have permanently protected more than 2,800 acres of farmland and habitat areas within the Davis Planning Area over the last 15 years. More information about the City’s Open Space Program can be found on the City’s website and in a December 1, 2015 staff report to the City Council.

          The City has commissioned UC Davis’ Collaboration Center to assist staff and the Open Space and Habitat Commission with the City’s community outreach efforts. Several other outreach activities are planned to ensure there are a variety of ways in which the community can provide comments.

          For more information, please contact Tracie Reynolds, Property Management Coordinator, at treynolds@cityofdavis.org or 530-757-5669.

          With that said, what issues do you think are in front of the community right now where we have enough “facts” to make an informed decision?

        9. Matt Williams

          Ron said . . . “I would believe that you’re only interested in data gathering, if the majority of your comments didn’t already reflect a bias.  Although you frequently challenge my statements, you rarely (if ever) challenge anyone who favors developments with “facts” (e.g., how many developments has Davis already built over the past 20-30 years?  And, how many more will be required to solve the “problem”?  And, what negative effects would such development have?)”

          Here too you are practicing selective listening.  I encourage you to read my February 16th article Our Community’s Biggest Issue Is a Lack of Trust and an Abundance of Distrust

          Regarding how many developments has Davis already built over the past 20-30 years, I chose not to participate in that discussion for two reasons.  First, I had no factual data to share on the subject (it is an interesting topic, but it is also a topic that has only been discussed once to the best of my knowledge), and I try not to speak when my knowledge level is deficient.  Second, there were “voices” here in the Vanguard who did have knowledge on the subject, and they were very actively weighing in.  So I sat back and learned by listening to people who knew more than I did.

          The fact is that very few people who favor developments weigh in with opinion statements the way that you do.

          With that said, I have had knock down drag out fights here on the Vanguard with Frankly about his strong desire for peripheral big-box retail.  He desperately wanted a Home Depot in Davis (a Lowes would be a poor second choice for him) to better support his DIY proclivities. I was crystal clear here in the Vanguard and in Council Chambers that I felt that Nishi should not be rushed onto the June ballot.  At the Candidates Forum I was crystal clear about my opposition to Trackside as it was then proposed, and explained exactly why.  I was equally crystal clear in my strong opposition to the Cannery CFD and the Consent Calendar handling of the MOUs.

          Each of those situations either had clear facts (Frankly and Home Depot) or missing pieces in an open, transparent, inclusive, reliable, and repeatable process with clearly set expectations.

  14. Ron

    David:

    My comments were posted in response to Matt’s argument, regarding students who simply want to live off-campus (even when adequate housing is available on-campus).  If adequate housing is available, then (by definition) there really can’t be a “crisis”, in the purest sense of that word.

    No one is going to be homeless as a direct result of Davis’ slow-growth policies.  There’s simply too many other options available.  Davis is not an island. (However, it is the ONLY city in the entire region that even attempts to reign in development.)

    1. David Greenwald

      But adequate housing is not available.  We have a 0.2 percent vacancy rate off campus and insufficient housing on-campus.  No one is going to go homeless, but that’s not the test of the policy.

      1. Ron

        David:  “But adequate housing is not available.  We have a 0.2 percent vacancy rate off campus and insufficient housing on-campus.  No one is going to go homeless, but that’s not the test of the policy.”

        Again, I was responding to Matt’s point regarding students who might ultimately choose not to take advantage of housing on campus.  If that ultimately means that the vacancy rate remains low, then I’d rather live with that consequence (instead of pursuing ill-advised developments).  (Of course, one can argue about the definition of “ill-advised”.)

        Not sure what the “test of the policy” means to you. However, a “crisis” (to me) implies an imminent threat of homelessness, with no viable options.

        1. Matt Williams

          Ron said . . . “If that ultimately means that the vacancy rate remains low, then I’d rather live with that consequence.”

          What is “that consequence”?  In a free market where an abundance of groups of students can out-bid families for the scarce apartments and rental houses, the consequence is going to be (1) a rapid, steady decline of families with children residing in Davis, and (2) a steady increase in rental prices because there is an abundance of demand chasing a scarcity of supply.

          1. David Greenwald

            The problem here is that Ron doesn’t have to suffer that consequence. He’s not a student. He’s not a young family. So it’s easy for him to live with that consequence, it doesn’t affect him.

        2. Mark West

          “If that ultimately means that the vacancy rate remains low, then I’d rather live with that consequence”

          Of course, you would rather live with that consequence as that consequence does not directly impact you. The comment does, however, demonstrate your lack of consideration for the thousands of people in town who are directly impacted by that consequence. The City’s responsibility is to address the consequences that have the greatest impact on the entire population, not just those individuals looking out for their own self-interest.

      2. Ron

        Matt:  “What is “that consequence”?  In a free market where an abundance of groups of students can out-bid families for the scarce apartments and rental houses, the consequence is going to be (1) a rapid, steady decline of families with children residing in Davis, and (2) a steady increase in rental prices because there is an abundance of demand chasing a scarcity of supply.”

        Seems like the “pro-developers” conveniently forget about the Cannery, Chiles Ranch, etc.

        No one in my neighborhood has converted existing housing stock to “mini-dorms”.  And again, ordinances can be enforced to help alleviate this concern. In any case, I’d still prefer a “mini-dorm” over a large scale, student-oriented “massive-dorm” any day of the week!

        I’d never advocate a policy change simply to accommodate my personal desire to live in a particular location.  If such a policy was pursued, it would inevitably destroy the desirability of the location.  (And, we’d essentially have Elk Grove, instead of Davis.)  If I could afford it, I’d certainly live in a more desirable location than Davis (e.g., Marin).  But, I’d never advocate a policy change, just for “me”.

        1. Ron

          And, as a side note, I’d like to see Elk Grove (and other cities in the region) take steps to establish urban development boundaries.  Otherwise, we’re just going to have one massive, sprawling, low-density indistinguishable metropolis with gridlocked traffic, air pollution, etc.  (Happening all over the country, really.)

          Unfortunately, it’s difficult to do this (even in Davis), given the resistance.

          Assuming that Davis remains somewhat successful in reigning in development, look for developers to continue to “chip away” or eliminate controls.  And, there will always be some excuse to do so.  (Some type of “imbalance”, or something to that effect.)  The battle will never end.

  15. Ron

    HPierce:  “Wow, how dismissive of Ron (whose views I’m nearly diametrically opposed to)…”

    Thanks.  I appreciate how you keep everyone (including me) “in check”, regardless of their views.  I’ve noticed this several times.

  16. Ron

    Matt:

    I understand that the committee (twice) disregarded EPS findings, regarding Nishi.  (The initial and subsequent EPS reports.)  The subsequent EPS report STILL included a deficit, within the range of possibilities.  (Without looking it up, I’m sure that it did not include the optimistic $1.4 million figure that the committee came up with.)

    When I questioned you about this in the past, I recall that you stated (on this forum) that you made a motion to include a projection of $700,000, to “satisfy” the concerns of those who believed a more conservative estimate was appropriate.  At the same time, you actually believed that the projected surplus would probably be more than $1,400,000.  (Something to that effect.) None of these actions or statements made much sense, to me.

    Part of my point is that “fact-based” decisions are often not that clear-cut, as demonstrated by the enormous range of possible financial outcomes for the city (regarding Nishi).  The other point is that I’m not entirely surprised that you and some others disregarded the EPS analyses for reasons that are not entirely clear (and which make it appear that the development is more profitable than the consultant believed).  “Cash is king” is not an explanation.

    But perhaps most obviously, you consistently challenge those (like me) who question the wisdom of development, but offer no such challenge to those who support more development.  You haven’t denied this, despite my repeated attempts to point it out to you.  Not sure if you’re being purposefully misleading in your responses, or if you’re simply unaware of your obvious bias.  In any case, it’s clear to me that those who are on the “slower growth” end of the spectrum would likely be disappointed in your decisions (if you’re elected to the council).

    1. Matt Williams

      Ron, the FBC didn’t disregard the consultant’s Income Statement approach. They supplemented the consultant’s information with generally accepted accounting practices.  The FBC simply addressed the consultant’s omission of a Cash Flow Analysis from their analysis methodology.  The $1.4 million figure presented by Dan Carson was a Cash Flow assessment, which recognized that certain expenditures in the consultant’s Income Statement approach had already been “prepaid” by the community (the building of the East Davis Fire Station for example) and would not need to be “paid” a second time from the City Budget.

      The Income Statement approach is “legitimate.”  The Cash Flow Analysis approach is “legitimate.”  I didn’t try and “satisfy” anyone.  I made the motion to ensure that all “legitimate” perspectives were heard.  If I had only wanted to “satisfy” the concerns, I never would have voted for my own motion.  I voted for it because it was a “legitimate” perspective based on generally accepted accounting practices.  Your statement “which make it appear that the development is more profitable than the consultant believed” is an (understandable) misunderstanding of what the FBC was discussing.  The FBC wasn’t discussing the profitability of the development.  They were discussing the impact of the development on the City Budget.  Those are two very different accounting concepts.

      I don’t question your opinion about development. I honor your opinion about development.  What I do do is put the facts that you (and others) put on the table into context.  I have put pro-development “facts” into context as well.  You just don’t notice them when I do.  Eric Lee, the planner assigned to the Sterling 5th Street Apartments application has heard from me regularly putting the traffic information “facts” in the Mitigated Negative Declaration report into context, and in the end, that context (also argued by many others) has resulted in the City deciding that they have “determined that an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) will need to be prepared for the Sterling 5th Street Apartments project.”

       

      1. Ron

        Matt:  I’ll have to look at Dan Carson’s assessment sometime.  However, I understand that Dan also assumed that NO additional police (or fire?) personnel were needed to accommodate Nishi (despite statements from officials that additional services would be needed).  Something to that effect.  (In other words, didn’t Dan’s analysis simply eliminate the enormous cost of these services?  Or, at least most of them?)

        To my knowledge, “cash flow” does not determine profit or loss (which was the purpose of the analysis).

        Again, I’m pretty sure that you stated (on this forum) that you proposed a $700,000 projected “surplus” for Nishi, to satisfy the concerns of those who aren’t convinced by Dan Carson’s analysis.  (I wish I could find the actual statement you made.)  And then you stated that the $1.4 million was probably too conservative.

        I did appreciate your previous suggestion regarding the possibility of reducing the 565 parking spaces proposed for Sterling.

        Again, I think you owe it to the community to state your position regarding Sterling, Trackside, Nishi, MRIC, etc.  (Or, at least your current leanings.)  Voters will be asked to make a decision regarding Nishi, soon.

        As I noted below,  I’m probably at the extreme “slow growth” end of the spectrum regarding development, even for Davis.  I have no problem acknowledging this.

         

        1. Ron

          Also – didn’t someone (CalAg?) mention some costs associated with the Richards Boulevard Interchange, that the developer isn’t necessarily paying for?  (Something to that effect.)  Whatever happened with that?

        2. Matt Williams

          Ron said . . . “To my knowledge, “cash flow” does not determine profit or loss (which was the purpose of the analysis).”

          Ron, here is what the May 11, 2015 presentation to FBC describes as the “purpose of the analysis.”  Profit and Loss is not mentioned anywhere; however, Impact on the General Fund is.

          EPS is providing the following services to assist in review of the two proposals:

          — Development build-out scenarios and anticipated mix of uses, industry, and job type, under high and low assumptions.

          — Evaluation of land economic profile for each proposal, for purpose of understanding the project’s ability to cover infrastructure costs and other contributions desired by
          the City; and to assist with the Yolo County tax share agreement.

          — Community economic impact analysis, to evaluate the benefit of the jobs and other business spending to the Davis economy. The evaluation will also be conducted at the Countywide level.

          — Fiscal analysis, to evaluate project impacts on the City’s General Fund.

          — Meetings and advisory services, including check-ins with the City Council and Finance and Budget Commission. Staff anticipates that EPS may also provide on-call advisory services during annexation/tax share discussions with Yolo County.

        3. Ron

          “Matt:  Profit and Loss is not mentioned anywhere; however, Impact on the General Fund is.”

          (“Same difference”, as they say.)  The impact on city finances from a particular development is ultimately determined by profit/loss.  (Or more accurately, surplus/deficit.)

          Cash flow is a separate issue from profit/loss.

          If I have that wrong, I’ll see any comments later.

        4. Matt Williams

          You do have it wrong Ron.  Profit and Loss includes the fully allocated costs associated with services provided.  That means a share of the construction costs of the already in place fire stations and police station.  It also means a share of the existing staffing levels at the fire stations, even though those staffing levels and equipment deployment won’t be increased as a result of the project.  The City operates its General Fund Budget on a Cash Basis.  Even though the P&L includes allocated expenses for already built buildings, none of those expenses will hit the General Fund, because there will be no cash resources spent in the current period.  The General Fund recognized the Fire Station construction costs in the Fiscal Year when they were actually spent (in the case of the East Davis Fire Station that will service MRIC, that expenditure was back in the 1990’s.

          Said another way, in Municipal Finance profit and loss based on allocations and accruals is “imaginary” or “conceptual,” General Fund Budgets based on actual cash received and cash spent is ‘real.”

    2. Matt Williams

      Ron said . . . “In any case, it’s clear to me that those who are on the “slower growth” end of the spectrum would likely be disappointed in your decisions (if you’re elected to the council).”

      Interesting point Ron.  Let’s engage it a bit with respect to the four candidates.  With regard to the likely disappointment of those who are on the “slower growth” end of the spectrum, how do you rank the four candidates from “most likely to disappoint” to “least likely to disappoint”?

      1. Ron

        Matt:  Interesting point Ron.  Let’s engage it a bit with respect to the four candidates.  With regard to the likely disappointment of those who are on the “slower growth” end of the spectrum, how do you rank the four candidates from “most likely to disappoint” to “least likely to disappoint”?

        Well, I think that you’re at the bottom in this particular category (from what I know).  But, I have no illusions regarding the level of support you might have (or the level of support for further development in and around Davis).  I am (probably) the most extreme slow-growth poster on this site.  (In other words, I seem to be at the extreme end of the spectrum on this particular issue, even for Davis.)  I see the entire country (and world) as “out of balance” (as Frankly described it), regarding the drive toward endless growth and sprawl.  It’s ultimately not sustainable, regardless of type (e.g., smart growth, etc.).  And that view explains why I’m apparently in the minority.

        On perhaps a more selfish level, a part of me envies these developers (e.g., Whitcomb?) who have a “willing army” of less-fortunate foot soldiers to do their bidding.  (Have you ever noticed that the developers never have to say a word on this site – at least not using any real identity?)  Probably laughing all the way to the bank, in the end.

        Having said that, I think you could (and should) present your positions regarding Nishi, MRIC, Sterling, Trackside, etc.  (Or, at least your leanings if you had to make the decision today.)  To your credit, you did (at least) mention the possibility of reducing the 565 parking spaces proposed for Sterling.

        1. Matt Williams

          Ron said . . . “Well, I think that you’re at the bottom in this particular category (from what I know).”

          Bottom meaning least likely to disappoint?

          Ron said . . . “Having said that, I think you could (and should) present your positions regarding Nishi, MRIC, Sterling, Trackside, etc.  (Or, at least your leanings if you had to make the decision today.) “

          I have presented those positions clearly and publicly. 

          — For both Trackside and Sterling all you need to do is go to the 29:00 point in the video of the Candidates forum 

          — For MRIC go to the 19:25 point of that same video. 

          — For Nishi I have been similarly clear.  I lobbied long and hard for moving the ballot date from June to November.  That didn’t happen.  I strongly believe the Nishi alternatives all have serious flaws and those flaws have been clearly identified in a robust, open review process.  As you said in an earlier comment “I suspect that you and I (and just about everyone else) will view it’s meaning entirely differently, when applying it to actual decisions.”   Nishi has boiled down to the democratic process in action.  On June 7th everyone will get a chance to express their entirely different views in the form of a vote.

        2. Ron

          Matt:

          Instead of referring to a bunch of videos, how about simply stating your current leanings regarding these proposed developments (MRIC, Sterling, Trackside)?  (I realize that Trackside is changing, but did you support the neighbors’ concerns, when they needed help?)

          Sounds like you acknowledge serious concerns with Nishi (meaning you don’t support it in its current form?)  Is it difficult for you to simply state this?

          Maybe I just don’t understand your style of communication? (Signing off, for the night.)

        3. Matt Williams

          Ron, the videos explicitly state my position on each of the projects.  Why is it so hard to watch a video?

          With that gauntlet thrown down, here is a transcript of my comments in that video.

          At 29:48 of the video … “Trackside is pretty simple.  In 2005 the zoning for the parcel was changed to Mixed Use which has very specific three stories with the possibility of  four stories if the building is at 2.0 floor area ratio or lower.  They have proposed six stories and almost a 4 floor area ratio.  It is outside the boundaries.  So as it is proposed, you say No.  We need to have repeatable, reliable, open and transparent processes.”

          At 30:35 of the video … “The same thing is true with Sterling.  They are proposing something that is outside the boundaries of the zoning.  It needs to be open and transparent.  I believe the Mitigated Negative Declaration is just as much of a mistake in this case as it was in the Hotel Conference Center.  We need to commit ourselves to processes we can all rely on.  Set expectations, deliver on the expectations, provide value.”

          At 20:09 of the video … “In the absence of full information on MRIC, I can’t say Yes,  So, my vote on MRIC at this time would be No.”

           

  17. Ron

    TrueBlueDevil:  Something cool could probably be built in Woodland a lot quicker; then, just add a shuttle bus service.

    I understand that there already is a very large-scale planned apartment complex (along with some existing, newer complexes) in Southern Woodland (e.g., Spring Lake development).  I’ve been told that many residents in that area already commute to Davis (about 6 miles away), using public transportation.  Probably an easier commute to the campus than some areas within Davis.

    In the long-term, the best plan is still to encourage the University to build apartments on the adjacent 5,000 acres that it already owns.  (Presumably, by partnering with eager private investors.) I hope that students are also encouraging the University to do this, e.g., via the online survey that was recently posted.

     

     

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