Special Commentary: Is Nishi in Trouble?

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The calendar may say April 1, but there is no fooling around that we are about five weeks away from the first wave of voters getting their vote-by-mail ballots and being able to vote. That is not a long time for candidates and advocates of either side of Measure A to change the hearts and minds of the voters, to vote Nishi up and down.

The question is whether that ballot measure is already in trouble.  From our vantage point it appears to be. To me, at least, a good bellwether is the opinion posted by Jim Frame. He noted, “When this iteration of a Nishi proposal first came along, I was pretty excited.”

He noted, “Somewhere along the way the city’s ownership piece fell off the table, but hey, we’re still going to get a bunch of tax revenue from the innovation space, and all those apartment beds will be filled by students, thereby taking some of the heat off the mini-dorm market that’s plaguing single-family neighborhoods all over town.”

Mr. Frame would conclude, “Is it any wonder I’m having a hard time mustering enthusiasm for Nishi now? I haven’t decided how I’m going to vote yet, but most of what I was hoping from from the project seems to have evaporated.”

From our view this has not been a good week for the project. Opponents filed a lawsuit that in our view is questionable in terms of the legal points, but in terms of the politics is devastating to the project.

We kind of expected the attack on the traffic study for Richards and the connectivity, but the affordable housing piece is downright devastating.  As Jim Frame puts it, “We learn that those apartments are going to be on the pricey side, and that only well-heeled students will be able to afford them.” He adds that “now we find out that $11M was sort of left on the table due to the affordable housing thing.”

The opposition has now taken on the project directly, aiming at the project strengths.  The biggest strength that Nishi has is not just its proximity to campus and the downtown, but the fact that it can provide housing to a market that is being pressured by the UC growth plans to accommodate thousands of additional students in the next five years.

While there are clear legal considerations at play here, there is nothing to stop the developer and his campaign team from hitting back hard. Instead, as the Vanguard was writing about this analysis, the campaign managed only one comment that refers to the ballot argument.

Their counter line is that affordable living housing is just one living expense, and they noted the saving from car expenses. But that is not going to have a lot of legs in the face that they have an unaffordable project that will not solve the housing crisis and, worse yet, the city gave away millions in community assets.

There have been efforts by the campaign from outside, in three or four posts by an anonymous poster (why not publish your response under the name of one of the prominent mayors or former city councilmembers who signed the letter?). Where is the counter-attack?

As a commenter pointed out, there is no sending this project back to the drawing board. So, as I argued yesterday, we have to look past the issue of affordable housing, which is really an attack on the integrity of the process.

One astute observer pointed out to me that this mess is on the city staff – who allowed the project to go forward without the affordable housing centerpiece and gave the opposition a huge bat with which to pound the project. It should have been anticipated by someone that the opposition could turn this into an integrity issue.

However, the way to get out of the mess is on Tim Ruff and the Nishi campaign team.  They have to re-frame the issue here.  They don’t have a lot of time left, but they can still do it.

Start with the biggest issue facing the city of Davis today – the rental housing crisis.  The city of Davis faces a huge crisis in that UC Davis is adding thousands of students without providing housing for them. That is going to put pressure on neighborhoods and families, it is going to force single families out of rental situations and force owner-occupied homes onto the endangered species list.

Nishi is not THE solution to this. But it could house 1500 students. That won’t solve the problem, but it does help to alleviate it.

There are legitimate issues about the small “a” affordability of these units, but, by building them, the market may help to bring down cost – not just at Nishi, but across the board.

The Nishi campaign team should be pounding this issue every single day. They should be hitting the streets.They should be going toe-to-toe with the likes of Michael Harrington and Alan Pryor. They have the ability to re-frame the issue as a solution to the problem. But right now that isn’t happening.

This campaign is not going to be won at the 30,000 foot level. The Nishi campaign team is not going to win with slick mailers and a few scattered letters in the Enterprise, it is going to have to get down on the ground level and fight this house by house, piece by piece.

Can they do that still?  Yes. But they have their work cut out for them. They are going to have to carry their own water and fight their own fight or they will see their erstwhile supporters fade into the background very quickly.

They have to wage a modern fight here on social media and in the comment sections of blogs, and submit opinion pieces that address the concerns that the opposition has set forth.

Again, can they still do that?  Yes, but not if they take a bunker-mentality approach.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

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

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90 thoughts on “Special Commentary: Is Nishi in Trouble?”

  1. Tia Will

    There are legitimate issues about the small “a” affordability of these units, but by building them, the market may help to bring down cost not just at Nishi, but across the board.”

    “They have the ability to re-frame the issue as a solution to the problem.”

    I still have not decided on my own vote on Nishi. But I feel that it would be disingenuous for Tim Ruff and company to “re frame” in this way. I do not believe that a contribution of housing for about 1500 students can really be expected to significantly change the market in Davis. This chipping away by provision for relatively small numbers compared to demand has not worked in the 30 years that I have been in Davis with any of the apartment complexes that have been built using this rationale. Why would we expect a different outcome this time ?

    That does not mean that there are not good reasons to vote for Nishi, just that I feel that this particular rationale is an exaggeration and reliance on a strategy that has not worked in the past, and for which there is little hope that it will work now.

    1. The Pugilist

      Let us suppose we need somewhere around 5000 additional bed to meet current growth projections.  Nishi would provide 30 percent of that need.  Nishi and Sterling could provide 60% of that need.  The university may not be able to provide 5000 units, but 2000 is far more workable.  Nishi therefore is a solution, but not the solution.  It is a piece of the puzzle.

    2. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > I do not believe that a contribution of housing for about 1500 students

      > can really be expected to significantly change the market in Davis.

      It won’t “significantly” change the market, but it will make it better.   f a tax on soda makes a parent buy one less 12 pack a month and a 250 pound kid has 1,680 less calories a month it won’t “significantly” change him but he will be better off.

      Interesting that over the years Tia seems to defend every idea (no matter how crazy or expensive) that will make things even a tiny bit better but does not seem to care about making things even a tiny bit better for young people without rich parents (that need to rent their own apartments).

    3. Don Shor

      I do not believe that a contribution of housing for about 1500 students can really be expected to significantly change the market in Davis.

      We’re about 8 – 10,000 beds short right now. With Nishi and Sterling, Davis would make a difference in that shortfall from the private sector end of the supply. I’m not sure what your definition of significant is. My metric is that the apartment vacancy rate has dropped from about 2% a few years ago to 0.2% in 2015. 2% is a long way from a healthy market for renters, but 0.2% is a crisis. And for those of us with employees who are young adults trying to rent in this market, it’s a crisis with real impact.

    1. Tia Will

      Misathrop

      I was leaning away from voting for Nishi until Price, Harrington and Mooney filed suit but now I’m inclined to vote for it.”

      With such sound, objective reasoning, you may have just influenced my vote…….

      Ok, just kidding, after all it is April 1 st !

       

    2. Misanthrop

      Indeed it is April Fools but I was being honest. I don’t know how I’m going to vote I’m still undecided but I was leaning against because of the traffic but now I’m leaning for because of the lawsuit.

      1. Tia Will

        Misathrop

        but now I’m leaning for because of the lawsuit.”

        I was teasing before. But now I am intrigued. Can you explain how the presence of the lawsuit makes the project more or less desirable in your view ?  I cannot see how the project is improved by the fact that some people oppose it.

         

        1. Misanthrop

          Sure. If it passes and gets hung up in court its likely to so upset the community that it causes a revolt against Measure R or its successor. I think Harrington has seriously overplayed the no growth hand with the lawsuit and Measure R will either need to be reformed to make it less costly and litigious for project applicants or it will be thrown out altogether.

          As for the project itself I recognize the need for the housing but have never really liked the site, hemmed in between the freeway and the railroad with the subsequent air quality issues, so I have been on the fence and my vote could go either way. As of today I remain undecided but now I’m leaning yes. I think the proponents are trying to do the right thing considering the expense of building a new underpass and this affordable housing issue is just the opponents, who have never before led on affordable housing issues, using whatever they can find to stir up opposition.

          For you Tia, I would argue that you have often talked about walkability, and this project is, if anything, walkable.

  2. SODA

    Besides the Affordable Housing issue is the affordability as you point out. WHY has it taken this long in a long process to NIW know the price range? Or have I missed it all along? What is the responsibility of the developer, of the city staff to state a price range for new projects?

  3. dlemongello

    Of course it only makes sense that it will take several infusions of housing, not just one project to address the shortage issue.  That said, it’s too bad that they had to be all shady about the deal, that’s a real turn off.  People get angry when they have been had, by both their own city staff and by developers who manipulate parameters that have been set in place for a reason.

  4. Don Shor

    Several years ago the city embarked on a process of developing an economic development strategy. The goal was to increase revenues to the city, create spaces for startup and move-up businesses, and broaden the city’s revenue base.

    The outcome was a dispersed economic development plan, with relatively small business parks to be developed in three locations as well as the continued development of infill sites and downtown.

    Nishi is a specific part of that economic development plan. It provides sites for the smaller businesses that spin off from UCD. It is close to downtown, with the goal of increasing local sales to businesses there.

    At the same time, the city’s housing stock has not increased as the university’s enrollment has grown. This has led to a serious shortage of apartment rental housing locally, and that shortage has an impact on young families seeking to move here, on young adults who work in our local businesses, and on new UCD students.

    A balanced solution to that problem involves development of student and rental housing on campus, and some increase in the rental housing stock in town. Affordability is an issue with rental housing, but the way to make rental housing more affordable is by making more of it available.

    Nobody is proposing a massive increase in rental  housing in the city. The projects currently proposed would add a modest, but significant, amount of rental units. The new units would, obviously and logically, be at the high end of the market pricing. But by increasing the supply, lower-cost units would become available elsewhere in town.

    Nishi is a balance, and is the result of partnership between the city and the developers. It is the culmination of a long process of trying to supply business and housing space in a challenging location. UCD is the sometimes balky partner in all of this. Certainly people should keep the pressure on UCD to increase its housing stock and to work more cooperatively and effectively with the city in mitigating the impacts of their enrollment increases. But it is not reasonable to block all private housing development in order to try to bring that about. The city can do its share. And this project meets the twin goals of providing much-needed housing and spurring economic development.

    1. Ron

      Don:  “Nobody is proposing a massive increase in rental housing in the city.  The projects currently proposed would add a modest, but significant, amount of rental units.”

      That’s absolutely untrue.  Just take a look at Mark’s comments, Misanthrop’s comments, etc. (And, to a lesser degree – your comments.)

      The Sterling development (as proposed) is also quite large, would require a zoning change to accommodate it, and has 565 parking spaces.  Also, by engaging in speculative rezoning, the city is likely allowing the existing relatively-new facility (that’s already on the site) to be “priced out” of the range that social services or other non-profit organizations can afford.  (Also a “legitimate” need, no doubt.)  What a waste, to destroy a perfectly-usable and attractive building!  (That’s what speculative zoning changes ultimately lead to.)  I suspect that Rancho Yolo residents are also (legitimately) concerned that a precedent-setting zoning change (at Sterling) will ultimately threaten their homes, as well.

      Regarding Nishi, all I can say is that it must be some kind of “magic” intersection that’s planned to handle the traffic from Nishi, the planned Embassy Suites, and the apartment complex proposed on Olive Drive.  (That is, if you’re not already concerned about the affordability of Nishi.)

      1. Mark West

        I’m curious Ron, when and where did I propose “a massive increase in rental housing?”

        I have argued that we needed to increase our stock of apartment, townhouses and condominiums, but I have never stated an amount, other than to say that we needed to meet the need of our residents. When you have a 0.2% apartment vacancy rate you cannot claim to be meeting the needs of residents. When you see a huge shift in demographics losing young families, you cannot claim to be meeting the needs of residents.  The problem here is that you seem to interpret anything other than your ‘no development’ mantra as an argument in favor of massive sprawl. That is your interpretation and a false statement of my position (as well as Don’s, in my opinion). The fact that you choose to repeat a fallacy whenever it suits your whim is nothing new. 

        The best part about your arguments, though, Ron, is your inconsistency.  You oppose new housing in Davis, but think it would be great if UCD builds it. What is the difference? It is building on farmland either way and if anything, the University has the best farmland in the area. You claim to be concerned about greenhouse gas emissions, yet you argue in favor of students and UCD employees living in Woodland, Dixon and beyond, and having them drive to campus, rather than build apartments and houses where they might walk or ride their bikes.  Your position is hypocritical, and complete nonsense.  The best thing for the environment is to put the housing and the jobs in the same location. The best approach to the City’s fiscal situation is to build the housing in the City and collect the fees and taxes to pay for the needed services.

        By the way Ron, housing is not a net negative for the City, not being willing to control cost inflation is what leads to the net negative, whether we are talking about residential development, commercial development or taxation. When costs rise faster than revenues, everything is ultimately a net negative.    

        1. Ron

          Good morning, Mark!

          “The best thing for the environment is to put the housing and the jobs in the same location.”

          And – the best thing is to have students (and the University) in the same location.

          It’s difficult for me to believe that you’re still clinging to the preposterous notion that residential development is a net positive long-term gain, for the city.  Residential development has historically been a money loser, for cities.  Nothing has fundamentally changed to address this ongoing problem.  That’s the reason that cities throughout California (including Davis) are having financial difficulties, in the first place.  (And, this is the reason that we’re being told that we need more commercial development, to offset costs resulting from residential development.)

          Seems that the University views housing as a money-loser, as well.  Unless they’re adequately pressured, they’d apparently rather let the city house their students and faculty.  In the meantime, the University is busy pursuing wealthy non-resident students.  (The University’s administrators are apparently more financially-savvy than some of us.)

          I brought up the other, nearby options because they’re already being built, are well-served by public transit, and are not very far away.  (Not to mention the other developments that are within Davis, that are already planned or under construction.)

          I’m pretty sure that you have repeatedly advocated for additional, massive new housing developments that would absolutely destroy the city.

          That’s all I’ll say for now, since we’ve already argued many of these points.

        2. Ron

          P.S. – I probably would not oppose Nishi, if the land was annexed to the University (and did not provide motor vehicle access onto Olive and the Richards Boulevard interchange).  (I think that hpierce mentioned something rather similar to this.)

          However, the lack of affordability might still be a concern for some.  It is clearly aimed at a more wealthy student population.

          1. Don Shor

            I probably would not oppose Nishi, if the land was annexed to the University

            That would cause the city to lose all financial benefits from the project.

        3. Misanthrop

          “Residential development has historically been a money loser, for cities.  Nothing has fundamentally changed to address this ongoing problem.  That’s the reason that cities throughout California (including Davis) are having financial difficulties, in the first place.”

          It may be one reason but not the first. However if it is negative everywhere is the answer not to build anywhere? I think that having  intelligent, skilled or trainable, employable, tax paying young people who want to raise a family in my community and contribute to the local  public weal as an asset that should be supported not dissuaded. I think that is the fundamental difference between myself and many of the locals who feel that additional citizens are a burden.

          I think there is a good analogy in seeing the world through the eyes or Erhlich or Moore. Both were active in the sixties with Ehrlich predicting that we would outstrip our ability to feed the world in the 1970’s. Yet population kept growing and we produce enough food to support everyone in the world with 50% more people today than in 1975. Today the problem isn’t production of enough food the problem is the distribution of that food.

          Around the same time, 1965 to be exact, Gordon Moore observed that computing power would double every 18 months. This increase in our ability to find solutions to problems with technology has enabled us to overcome the dire warnings of Ehrlich. In the last 40 years we have seen the rise of drip irrigation to conserve water and the introduction of genetically superior varieties. These are but two ways we have increased yields.  We have increased disease resistance and nutritional value while reducing the water and nutrients needed to produce food. Much of this work has been done right here in Davis.

          So I guess we have a fundamental difference in our view. I see the University as an asset capable of training the next generation of people to continue in the search to answer the problems of the future. I feel that a large, robust University is an asset worth supporting even if it means there are small net negatives to building more housing at the local level and that whatever net negatives are created, if they are created, can easily be absorbed by a community as wealthy and talented as Davis. I’m personally willing to do my part.

        4. Ron

          Don – Quoting me:  “I probably would not oppose Nishi, if the land was annexed to the University.”

          Don’s response:  “That would cause the city to lose all financial benefits from the project.”

          I’d say that it would cause the University to assume all financial costs and risks from the development.  Residents of Nisih would still contribute to the local economy (e.g., when making purchases in Davis – benefiting businesses, and contributing sales tax revenue).

          The University would gain ownership, benefits and control of the land and the development. (Something that the city would not have under the current proposal, regardless.)

           

        5. Ron

          Good Morning, Misanthrop (as well)!

          Mostly, I was responding to your (earlier) repeated advocacy to abandon Measure R.

          I don’t think I’ll dive very deeply into a debate right now.  But, I would disagree that anyone can come to meaningful conclusions regarding the long-term sustainability regarding the exponential increase in population and development worldwide that has occurred during, say –  the past century.  (That’s not a very long time, in the history of the earth.)  And, the planet is showing signs of strain related to growth/development, to say the least.  (California’s population has more than doubled, during my own brief life so far.)  Not to mention the desirability of attempting to “test” the limits of sustainability.  But, it’s really drifting into another subject.

           

           

      2. South of Davis

        Don wrote:

        > Nobody is proposing a massive increase in rental housing in the city.

        Then Ron wrote:

        > That’s absolutely untrue (and says we need to add Sterling to Nishi)

        Does Ron consider adding 440 Nishi units and 270 Sterling units to the ~12,000 apartment units we currently have a “MASSIVE” increase?

        1. Ron

          SouthofDavis:  Does Ron consider adding 440 Nishi units and 270 Sterling units to the ~12,000 apartment units we currently have a “MASSIVE” increase?

          Wow – I really have a lot of the usual “responders”, today!

          Good to see that you’re acknowledging the large amount of apartment units that we already have.

          I’ve already outlined concerns regarding both of these developments (at least, as proposed).  You’ll note that I did provide (what I believe) are reasonable solutions, which would still potentially add housing on those sites.  However, regarding Sterling, I’m concerned that other, legitimate re-uses of the (perfectly-fine) existing facility are being blocked from consideration, as a result of the speculative rezoning that’s being considered.  Regardless, I understand that the existing zoning would still allow residential development.  (We should start from the existing zoning, and work from there.  Not the other way around.)  And 565 parking spaces is not going to fly.

          Regarding Nishi, I also brought forth an idea, that would provide just as much housing as is currently being proposed.  (With the University in control, and traffic concerns perhaps addressed.)

           

           

      3. Tia Will

        What a waste, to destroy a perfectly-usable and attractive building!  (That’s what speculative zoning changes ultimately lead to.)  I suspect that Rancho Yolo residents are also (legitimately) concerned that a precedent-setting zoning change (at Sterling) will ultimately threaten their homes, as well.”

        Ron has this right in my opinion. This is a realistic concern of the neighbors near these large developments. It was not so many years ago that a plan to level Old East Davis to make way for denser housing was floated. This was opposed by the neighborhood association long before I purchased my home here. We have seen this idea surface again, when one poster here on a previous thread on the Vanguard opined that there were not more than 10 homes in Old East Davis worth preserving and that the rest should be torn down and replaced with that individual’s vision for a “Gateway to Davis” to be comprised of a row of mixed use buildings like the originally designed Trackside project along third street.

        I realize that Don does not advocate for this kind of extreme solution, but to state that no one does is simply not accurate.

        1. hpierce

          Ah…but in the late 60’s, early 70’s, it was Rancho Yolo that took up prime ag land, required a major extension of Fifth Street, utilities, constituted sprawl, impacted adjacent neighborhoods, etc.  It was a “large development”… actually it would be more efficient to rip out Rancho Yolo, redevelop it as high density rental housing (most of the housing materials would be easily recyclable), and preserve the old Families First site for other community needs… I’d vote for that!

          And, this is NOT an April 1 suggestion… Sterling appears to be a reasonable proposal… it should be considered on its merits (or lack thereof).  Just look at the footprint of Sterling (physically, etc.) and compare it to Rancho Yolo.  Pot & kettle?

           

        2. Ron

          hpierce:  “Ah…but in the late 60’s, early 70’s, it was Rancho Yolo that took up prime ag land, required a major extension of Fifth Street, utilities, constituted sprawl, impacted adjacent neighborhoods, etc.  It was a “large development”… actually it would be more efficient to rip out Rancho Yolo, redevelop it as high density rental housing (most of the housing materials would be easily recyclable), and preserve the old Families First site for other community needs… I’d vote for that!

          And, this is NOT an April 1 suggestion… Sterling appears to be a reasonable proposal… it should be considered on its merits (or lack thereof).  Just look at the footprint of Sterling (physically, etc.) and compare it to Rancho Yolo.  Pot & kettle?”

          You could have fooled me.  (Sounds a lot like an April 1st suggestion!)

          I’m not going to advocate displacing residents (especially seniors) that are already here, living in low-impact, affordable housing.

          In contrast, Sterling would require demolition of a new/usable facility, a zoning change, 565 parking spaces, etc.  All to build a dormitory-type facility that would be better-suited on (and serviced by) the campus.  Also, the city is engaging in speculative zoning that ensures the destruction of the facility, and likely prices the property out-of-reach for legitimate non-profit organizations that could serve vulnerable populations.

          Sounds like you support the re-use of the existing facility for such community needs, but only if Rancho Yolo residents are evicted?  Do you have something against residents of Rancho Yolo?  (I ask this somewhat seriously, as I think you and others have mentioned this idea previously.)

          Again, examine/start with the existing zoning for Sterling, and work from there.  We’ve got it backwards, right now.  (Skipped directly to a speculative zoning change.)

          In any case, Rancho Yolo is not even “on the table”, right now.  However, a precedent-setting zoning change at Sterling could change this.

          Normally, you have some reasonable thoughts. However, this latest submission isn’t one of them.

      4. Misanthrop

        Ron, maybe you missed it but I’ve argued Sterling should remain some sort of group home or other type of facility that can utilize its current layout and that we should build elsewhere.

    2. Matt Williams

      Don Shor said . . . “Nishi is a balance, and is the result of partnership between the city and the developers.”

      Don’s comment above does a very good job of describing the Nishi situation.  There is not a single thing Don says that I disagree with with one exception.  Nishi is not the result of partnership between the city and the developers.  Nishi is the result of partnership between the city and the University and the developers.  It always has been a three-part collaboration, and it still is a three-part collaboration.

  5. Michael Harrington

    Let’s bring it home now

    Two CC candidates loved Nishi so much they voted to put it on the ballot and personally endorsed it when they signed the ballot arguments.  They endorsed the R violations and the giveaway of over $11.0 million from funds legally earmarked for affordable housing  They endorsed traffic gridlock for years to come and the giveaway of millions to “fix” the traffic problems the development itself will certainly cause

    Enough said on them

    Now what about the other two candidates ?  I don’t see anything where they clearly state their positions ?  (And I’m not talking about hazy little comments in the DV.). Where’s the policy position in public literature or web sites ?

     

    1. Widjet

      What is your point? Are you advocating a vote against the two CC candidates on the ballot who approved Nishi?  As there are four candidates running for three positions on the CC, it is more accurate to say I have one vote for the candidate I do not want to be on CC. So which of the two that voted for Nishi are you suggesting I oust?

    2. Matt Williams

      Mike, read Don Shor’s very well thought out, very well written, 8:05 am comment above.  After you do, come back here and tell me and the rest of the Vanguard whether you agree with what Don has written.

      I believe each individual voter’s decision on Nishi is very personal.  The Nishi decision process (even with its flaws) has presented the voters with a balance beam scale with a pan at each end of the beam and a fulcrum in the center.  Each voter will put the positives in one of those pans and the negatives in the other.  They will then decide on their vote based on which pan has collected the strongest arguments.  That is what democracy is all about.

      As a city council candidate I can (and do) argue for making the process better. My vision for Davis is maintaining and improving the quality of life here. We need to preserve Davis as a community that nurtures our lives and the lives of our families, by consistently making Better Decisions for a Better Davis using:

      — Reliable, repeatable, transparent processes, that lead to
      — Value-driven decisions in a culture of accountability.

      The Nishi process got part of the way there.  We need to do better in the future.

    1. hpierce

      OK, Mr H… you seem to imply that Nishi is the ONLY thing that a CC member will deal with in the next four years… so, you appear to suggest that if all candidates support the Nishi project, as proposed, someone opposing Nishi should withhold their vote for any CC candidate… ‘kinda dumb concept.

      Using a similar approach, perhaps those who oppose Nishi, or are unsure, should not vote on the Measure R item… withhold their vote as a protest… but that would be equally dumb…

       

    2. Widjet

      Would I be doing that purely as a protest?  Unless I can cast multiple votes for another candidate I don’t see how withholding my votes from the other candidates has an impact on the election. It just means fewer votes would be required for a candidate to win the election.  What if the two non-CC candidates come out and say they would’ve voted yes on Nishi too.  Should I not cast any votes for CC?   I just don’t see the point in that.

      1. Jim Frame

        Unless I can cast multiple votes for another candidate I don’t see how withholding my votes from the other candidates has an impact on the election.

        If there are two candidates you really like, and one you’re only lukewarm about, voting for Mr. Lukewarm might give him enough votes to bump one of your favored candidates into fourth place.  And fourth place is no place in this election.

  6. Anon

    Michael Harrington: “Let’s bring it home now

    Let’s bring what home?  No growth?  You seem to be opposed to any new project proposed, and will sue to make your point.  Do you have any idea how much you are costing taxpayers?

  7. Michael Harrington

    Ok ok I’m voting for Lucas.  You outed me!

    He loves higher comp packages for city employees; gutting Affordable Housing at Cannery; hates the fire boundary drop;  improperly interferes with professionals planning  staff conclusions when he wants to help a church buddy of his, while getting what he thought was an easy 2-fer by concurrently pandering to the real estate broker;  and continues to pander to very wealthy Ruff and Whitcomb by stripping the AHO of over $11.0 million and padding their profits at Nishi by the city paying for at least half of the traffic mitigation expenses that Nishi is causing.

    Have  I left out any other great things he has actually done for us?

    Michael Harringon

    Posted on April 1

     

     

    1. Misanthrop

      Actually Mike, Lucas supported affordable housing at Cannery but was outvoted by Krovoza, Lee and Swanson.

      Yes Mike you left something out. You left out the part where you disclose you sued your neighbor, over a parking space, who is also a member of the church congregation where Lucas worships. You also left out the part where you lost the lawsuit. Shouldn’t you disclose such things Mike? I thought where, how and with whom we worship was outside the boundaries of normal political discourse in America. Guess not, huh Mike.

      1. The Pugilist

        You left out the worst part – that he publicly expressed glee at the prospect of taking the neighbor through the ringers in part to punish Frerichs.

  8. Michael Harrington

    Oh, and let me add that these so called Measure  R loving politicos intentionally voted for a Nishi package that grossly violates the R requirement that the package conforms to law.  We told them about the problems.  We begged them to delay to November and FIX it.

    They just wanted to get Nishi off their agenda so they kept June.  I couldn’t make any of this up …

    R needs to be amended soon to protect voters from the CC ever doing again what they did to us with Nishi

    The strengthened R update will be submitted to the City Clerk very soon

  9. Anon

    The question is whether that ballot measure is already in trouble.  From our vantage point it appears to be.

    Well the Vanguard certainly seems to be helping Nishi along the way to failing, with all the doom and gloom commentary.  Does Jim Frame represent the citizens of Davis?  I think not.  (No offense meant against Jim Frame by the way – just making a point.)

    The Vanguard has no idea whether the Nishi project is in trouble or not. What is clear is the opposition to the Nishi and MRIC projects have the Vanguard’s ear, and is using the Vanguard to push their agenda.  And for some reason the Vanguard conflates that opposition with the idea the opposition represents a sizable or majority portion of the community.

    I would argue that many in the community are fed up with the usual suspects that continually try to employ tactics of obstructionism ad nauseum.  It is one thing to try and make a project better… it is entirely another to continually block development no matter what it is, with everything but the kitchen sink thrown at it as an objection.

    For instance, how many of those in opposition to Nishi were at the affordable housing workshops, to hammer out policy?  I was there, and I don’t remember seeing them.  How many were at the TAG or BTSSC to voice their concerns about traffic policies at Richards which have been years in the making?  They certainly weren’t at TAG meetings.  But suddenly it’s such a great concern when Nishi is being proposed?  LOL

    1. The Pugilist

      My read is the Vanguard sees the writing on the wall and is trying to kick Nishi into action before it’s too late.  What part of the argument posed by the Vanguard on how to proceed do you disagree with?

    1. Misanthrop

      Sure Mike, if it wasn’t for that popularly elected pesky City Council unanimously doing what they see is in the best interest of the community. Reminds me of Von Ribbentrop blaming the Russians for the invasion of the Soviet Union by Germany on June 22, 1941.

  10. CalAg

    “Start with the biggest issue facing the city of Davis today – the rental housing crisis.” David Greenwald

    We don’t have a rental housing crisis in Davis. This is the biggest fallacy in Nishi debate.

    With respect to rental housing there are two issues:
    (1) excess demand caused by UCD expansion
    (2) mini-dorm conversions

    These are existential problems that need to be aggressively addressed. However, the meme that we have a “rental housing crisis” that can be solved, or at least mitigated, by building more student apartments will fundamentally destroy “Davis as we know it” if we blindly continue down this path.

    To understand this, we need to come to grips with two basis facts:
    (1) The age-distribution of our population is bimodal. Its getting worse as UCD grows and our population ages. Our two large (and growing) demographic groups are college-age young adults and seniors. We are seeing a disturbing decline in children and the 25-55 demographic that are the backbone of any healthy city.
    (2) Davis has already significantly overbuilt multifamily housing. 62% of the housing stock in Davis is already rental – that includes 12,000 apartments and almost 4,000 rental houses (including condos and multiplexes). We only have 9,500 owner-occupied houses. I would argue that our ratios of multifamily/single family and rental/owner occupied are just as, if not more, unhealthy as the 0.2% vacancy rate.

    Based on these facts, we need to decide as a community some fundamental core goals about what kind of City we want to have. What are our demographic goals? What is an appropriate mix of housing types to serve this demographic mix? What are our needs for jobs, retail, civic services, infrastructure, and amenities – and how do we build a community that provides all this? How do we regulate and minimize conversion of our housing stock into mini-dorms? How do we encourage UCD to build on-campus housing? How do we encourage surrounding communities to help adsorb UCD growth? How do we attract and encourage that middle demographic with kids and jobs to settle in Davis?

    These are hard issues that we need to be addressing with some urgency. Building more student housing makes it harder to get to an outcome that most non-transient Davis residents will find acceptable. And by not addressing the core issues we are making a de facto decision to let the City continue to evolve into a community that is dominated by students and empty-nesters, with chronic problems eroding quality-of-life.

    1. The Pugilist

      “We don’t have a rental housing crisis in Davis.”

      This is a ludicrous comment.  Pretty much everyone agrees that when you have thousands of additional students coming to UC Davis, a 0.2 percent vacancy rate, a lack of new housing at UCD, you have a rental house crisis.  Where are students moving?  Some out of town, some are crowding into rentals in town turning them into mini-dorms.  I think people as diverse as Eileen Samitz agree that there is a crisis, they simply disagree on the solution.

      1. CalAg

        47% of our housing stock is already multifamily. How high do you think we should go? New York City is 51%.

        No matter how many units we can realistically build in Davis, the vacancy rate will stay approximately the same. We are at saturation. The 0.2% simply represents the inefficiencies of keeping the units filled. As we build more units, they will be rapidly adsorbed. In addition to the constant influx of new renters, there is a very large population of renters that has been forced into surrounding cities that will adsorb any Davis vacancies to be closer to UCD. If/when Nishi is built, the vacancy rate will still be roughly 0.2% unless UCD embarks on a large building program.

         

        1. The Pugilist

          If you add three large, 1500 bed apartment complexes, it would go along way toward alleviating the problem and I don’t think it would harm the city

        2. South of Davis

          CalAg wrote:

          > 47% of our housing stock is already multifamily. How high

          > do you think we should go?

          As the University grows the number of apartments will have to grow (few if any 20 year old kids buy 4,000sf homes in Lake Alhambra or even 1,200sf homes in Old East Davis).

          For those that don’t like college students you can buy a bigger and nicer home in Dixon or Woodland.

        3. CalAg

          Growing the multifamily housing stock as the university population grows is a prescription for becoming more like Isla Vista, with budget problems as far as the eye can see.

        4. CalAg

          “If you add three large, 1500 bed apartment complexes, it would go along way toward alleviating the problem and I don’t think it would harm the city.” TP

          It would provide modest relief for your definition of the problem –  the idea that when UCD says jump we say how many more units? The more important problem is that our demographic and housing stock distortions are unsustainable. Adding more student housing just makes the distortions worse.

    2. Tia Will

      And by not addressing the core issues we are making a de facto decision to let the City continue to evolve into a community that is dominated by students and empty-nesters, with chronic problems eroding quality-of-life.”

      Demographic changes are a fact of life, not a problem in and of themselves. While it is true that a bimodal population  distribution “dominated by students and empty nesters” is a change from what we have seen in the past, I do not see this as in and of itself a problem and I certainly do not see it as equating to “chronic problems eroding the quality-of-life as long as we are willing to pay for the quality items that we desire, or do without them. We are very blessed with a great lifestyle here in Davis. True it is not as glitzy as in some California communities but we have an abundance of all of the basics that make for a good life. Do we have an affordable place for everyone ?  Absolutely not !  But what we do have is enough that is good to make Davis a very desirable place to live. We are in one sense victims of our own success in establishing and maintaining a still desirable life style .

      1. Miwok

        We are in one sense victims of our own success in establishing and maintaining a still desirable life style

        Thinks people want to live like this? That is the first problem. People in San Jose years ago sold their little crackerboxes worth $30K for $300K and MOVED.

        Davis residents buy more houses with their equity instead of finding somewhere else to spend their Golden years, then deny others the chance to keep the community thriving.

        You make lots of victims, but it is not you. People go where there is opportunity, and Davis is not the Place. They suffer here until they can get out, or never live here in the first place because of “victims of their own success”

    3. noname

      We are seeing a disturbing decline in children and the 25-55 demographic that are the backbone of any healthy city.

      That’s not accurate, at least not the first part of the sentence. A recent enrollment report received by the DJUSD last month showed that the number of public school students, especially in K-6, is increasing. And no, it’s not due to out–town transfers, which only increased by a whopping 7 this year.

      As to the 25-55 demographics, I can’t say that they’re declining but someone’s got to be parenting all those new kids. Maybe the older folks are just becoming more fertile ….

      1. CalAg

        Actually, it is. Here’s the report if anyone wants to see the raw data.

        http://davis.agendaonline.net/public/Meeting/Attachments/DisplayAttachment.aspx?AttachmentID=315695&IsArchive=0

        K-12 enrollment per year minus intradistrict transfers:
        2005/6      8368
        2006/7      8399
        2007/8      8306
        2008/9      8370
        2009/10    8192
        2010/11    8007
        2011/12    8062
        2012/13    7952
        2013/14    7860
        2014/15    7912
        2015/16    7842

        K thru 12 enrollment is down 6% in 11 years.

        Interdistrict transfers increased from 189 in 2005/6 to 711 in 2015/16 (376%).

        In my opinion, these statistics understate the problem. There are a lot of kids coming out of multifamily housing (including affordable), and I suspect that the percentage of kids coming out of traditional owner-occupied housing stock is decreasing as the Davis population ages and housing prices increase.

        1. CalAg

          That’s the DJUSD “aggressive development” scenario that assumes Cannery + Grande, Chiles, and some unentitled proposals … as well as >700 interdistrict transfer students.

          Take out the transfers and the enrollment projection for 2025 is 8349 – that’s less than the 2005-2007 enrollment. In other words, twenty years and we’re not back to where we were before the great recession.

        2. wdf1

          Regardless of whether you take the aggressive, conservative, or baseline (no development), the trend for now shows the result of an increased birthrate.

      2. CalAg

        “…  the trend for now shows the result of …” wdf1

        You state this with such conviction that it sounds like it might be true. Please help me reconcile your statement with the data on page 4 of the DJUSD enrollment projections report (link posted above).

        This data goes back 21 years and shows that the Davis birth rate is near an all time low (for this time interval) and trending downward. In addition, the school district is not predicting an increased birthrate going forward.

        The facts are that births have fallen 23% from a peak of 637 in 2000 and 2001 to 488 in 2014 (the last year reported). The all time low was 483 in 2011 that was followed by a small bump (probably post-recession optimism) that has already tailed off back to baseline.

        Based on this data, Davis is clearly in a long term downward trend. If the data was available on student housing type (owner-occupied vs multifamily), I am certain that the collapse in the demographic of kids living in traditional single-family owner-occupied homes would be striking.

        1. wdf1

          CalAg:  You state this with such conviction that it sounds like it might be true. Please help me reconcile your statement with the data on page 4 of the DJUSD enrollment projections report (link posted above).

          This data goes back 21 years and shows that the Davis birth rate is near an all time low (for this time interval) and trending downward. In addition, the school district is not predicting an increased birthrate going forward.

          Okay.  Birthrate isn’t the right word.  Maybe the better term is “resident kindergarten enrollment.”  As I understand it, the demographic model works by taking the current K class and comparing it to the births in the district about 5 years ago and defining a coefficient that is used for modelling future class.  If the coefficient is greater than 100%, it means that additional students are moving into the area from elsewhere, just in time to attend kindergarten.  If it is less than 100%, then families are moving away shortly after giving birth.

          You are correct in noting that there are actually fewer births now than in past decades.  But the way to interpret that is that young families are delaying moving to Davis until after they’ve given birth to kids.  I still think the resident kindergarten class that enrolls each year is a good indicator of what young families are doing.  Are they deciding to move to Davis or elsewhere? Or are they choosing more to enroll in local private schools (Waldorf, St. James, for example) or not?

          This past year I understand that the kindergarten class was one of the larger in recent years.  And that they didn’t take students from outside of the district.

        2. wdf1

          CalAg:  If the data was available on student housing type (owner-occupied vs multifamily), I am certain that the collapse in the demographic of kids living in traditional single-family owner-occupied homes would be striking.

          The folks running the demographic survey probably can determine that information, but I don’t think the district has any priority to find out.  They are mostly concerned with butts in seats, and are there enough classrooms.

        3. South of Davis

          wdf1 wrote:

          > the way to interpret that is that young families are delaying

          > moving to Davis until after they’ve given birth to kids. 

          The district has reported that the “official” number of kids from outside Davis in the schools is at an all time high, but based on talking to friends from Dixon and Winters farming families the “unofficial” number of kids from outside Davis (who use the address of a friend or relative in Davis) in our schools is also at an all time high.  Many people I personally know that live outside Davis and went to public schools in Dixon and Winters (back when most of their classmates were white) now send their kids to school in Davis for free (or almost free since one guy I know that says he is renting his aunts house now pays her PG&E bill that he put in his name to “prove” residency as a thank you for letting them use the address)…

          Back in the 70’s almost everyone knew a family two two with five or more kids where today few can name a family with more than three kids.  I know a few people in their early 50’s who never had kids , but it is amazing how many more people I know in their early 40’s who never had kids.  As the amount of student loan debt increases as fast as the price of Davis real estate I don’t see a big increase in school age kids (other than the kids of UCD staff from Elk Grove that ask for a transfer and wealthy Dixon and Winters Almond and Walnut farmers that don’t ask for a transfer)…

        4. wdf1

          South of Davis:  …but based on talking to friends from Dixon and Winters farming families the “unofficial” number of kids from outside Davis (who use the address of a friend or relative in Davis) in our schools is also at an all time high.

          And you know that they don’t have a parent working in Davis?

          And this was my response the last time you brought it up:

          I think that would be hard to quantify and might be a small number if it existed.  We have years of student directories from several campuses that we consulted at times to help organize school activities, and I remember addresses checking out at a very high percentage.  Maybe you’re observing campuses where I never hung out?

           

        5. CalAg

          “This past year I understand that the kindergarten class was one of the larger in recent years.” wdf1

          The number of kindergarten kids was 538 this year – down from 560 last year. The school district projects that the number will be 549 in 2025 under the aggressive growth scenario. There was a temporary two year dip from 2012-13, but the return to baseline is not evidence of an upward trend. In fact, there is just nothing in the data to support the idea that the 0-18 demographic recovering. We have to develop everything in the pipeline and import large number of students from the outside to maintain the DJUSD status quo.

          This is completely unsustainable. Heaven help us if the surrounding school districts start to do a better job of retention.

           

        6. wdf1

          CalAg:  The number of kindergarten kids was 538 this year – down from 560 last year.

          The numbers that you site are from the actual kindergarten students found on pg. 11 of the demographic survey.  What you’re leaving out is transitional kindergarten.  TK is phased in over several years, and gradually takes out students who would otherwise sign up for kindergarten before the program came into being.  Your reference above to page 4 of the demographic survey shows additional students added to kindergarten during the transition period so as to reconcile the “apples to oranges” issue.

  11. Tia Will

    hpierce

    Pot & kettle?”

    Not when you consider that most of the Rancho Yolo residents of today were probably not the same people who scooped up that ag land for their homes. It is one thing to move into a previously existing space. It is another entirely to choose to use up still more open space.

    To me, this argument is roughly the equivalent of Frankly’s claim that the solution to traffic problems is to build more lanes. The problem is not too few lanes, it is too many one passenger cars wanting to use them simultaneously.

    1. CalAg

      “The problem is not too few lanes, it is too many one passenger cars wanting to use them simultaneously.” TW

      And the problem is not too few student apartments, it is too many students wanting to rent them simultaneously.

      1. The Pugilist

        And what have we seen this week? We have seen that you see is going to continue to add students because this solution to too many out-of-state students is adding more in-state students.  So where are they going to live?

        1. CalAg

          There is already a sizable population of UCD students living in surrounding communities.

          Along with the majority of the staff and fair amount of the faculty.

    2. Frankly

      Solution to traffic congestion is to build more lanes.

      And, lower population density and a more geographically diverse retail footprint would also help.

      1. hpierce

        Building more lanes does little or nothing to relieve congestion, unless there is a “missing link”… if you have a corridor dominated by four lanes, with a middle segment of two lanes, yes, converting that segment to 4 can help, big time.  But, if you have a corridor dominated by 4 lanes, and build a middle section of 6 lanes, congestion can worsen (yes, counter-intuitive but it’s true), and you’ve wasted a lot of money.

        Eliminating intersections, particularly those with left turn movements, or adding auxiliary lanes to store waiting turn movements can help…

        Stick to finance… obvious you don’t “grok” traffic engineering…

         

    3. hpierce

      And, if we add a square mile worth of additional development this year, 35 years from now, the folks living in those new areas will have moved into “existing spaces”… so, no harm, right?

      1. Tia Will

        hpierce

        so, no harm, right?”

        I don’t know if you truly missed my point or are jerking  my chain, so I will play it straight. We do not have the ability to go back and correct yesterday’s mistakes. So for instance, if you now consider building houses with large yards a “mistake” in terms of current housing density needs, we can’t go back and ask our ancestors to use less land per house. But that does not mean that we should double down on the same mistake which is partly why Frankly’s “more lanes solution” won’t work. However, it also does not mean that we should decide to force everyone out of their current home  to provide for a currently preferred demographic nor does it mean that we should overreact by swinging to the opposite extreme and building 6 or 10 or “whatever” story buildings in areas specifically zoned for less on a piecemeal basis without a broader and mutually agreed upon plan.

        In populations, like in most everything else in life, there is a balance between too little and too much. American society has in my opinion swung far too much to the “more is better” side of the equation and it is time to learn to live satisfied with “enough”.

         

        1. Anon

          “American society has in my opinion swung far too much to the “more is better” side of the equation and it is time to learn to live satisfied with “enough”.”

          The last sizable economic development in Davis was Target, that’s it.  Davis as a city is too heavily dependent on car sales for its tax revenue, and does not have enough economic development diversity.  I’m not quite sure what you deem “enough”.  Having Nishi and MRIC is an attempt to pay for the services we already enjoy – services in danger of being done away with because of the city’s fiscal constraints.  To argue that more taxes would get us out of our economic fix is IMO heartless, because there are many citizens in Davis who cannot take that kind of a harsh fiscal hit.  They would be forced to leave Davis.  Those who oppose any growth are pretty much saying that they want to keep what they have – pull the drawbridge up and don’t allow anyone else in.  I can understand smart growth, but no growth is a nonstarter – it isn’t fiscally healthy.

        2. Alan Miller

          To argue that more taxes would get us out of our economic fix is IMO heartless, because there are many citizens in Davis who cannot take that kind of a harsh fiscal hit.

          The water project was similarly heartless.

  12. Tia Will

    To argue that more taxes would get us out of our economic fix is IMO heartless, because there are many citizens in Davis who cannot take that kind of a harsh fiscal hit.  They would be forced to leave Davis.”

    I am not sure that this statement is true. I have been hearing this argument for many years and despite tax increases, I am unaware that there has been an exodus from Davis for this reason. I have known retirees who have left the state because they chose to move to areas in which they could maintain their preferred lifestyle in terms of house size, vacations, etc. more easily. I have known families who have moved because one or both partners had job opportunities open in other communities or because they preferred a more cosmopolitan lifestyle, or because they wanted a bigger home. But I am not aware of those who have owned property here who have been forced out by increased taxes.

    Perhaps I am incorrect and someone would like to inform me.

     I can understand smart growth, but no growth is a nonstarter – it isn’t fiscally healthy.”

    For every habitat, there is a maximal population that it will accommodate. I am not saying that we have reached the limit here in Davis, or that we will in the foreseeable future. But I think that the concept that perpetual growth is healthy either fiscally, or in any other way is a failure to recognize that all systems have limitations.

    1. Frankly

      For every habitat, there is a maximal population that it will accommodate. 

      You have the science for this of course.  Japan might be interested.  So might San Fransisco.

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