Nishi Will Help Fill Student Housing Needs


Nishi-Scene-1by Maynard Skinner

Davis has changed a lot since I was first elected to the City Council in 1966. I served three terms over four decades, and I keep telling my friends that I might come back again so I can say I served over two millennia.

I was the assistant vice chancellor of student affairs at UC Davis from 1971 to 1991, and I have seen both the positive and negative effects that a continually expanding university has on our fair city. Yes on Measure A provides critically needed infill housing that I believe is necessary to cope with UCD’s growing capacity — more research, more students and more opportunities to improve Davis’ economy.

The university plans to add more than 5,000 students as part of its 2020 initiative as well as 300 faculty. A growing number of investors, many rarely stepping foot in Davis, have been buying homes in Central Davis and converting them into mini-dorms. These mini-dorms are often owned by slumlords who violate city ordinances, and the housing becomes a magnet for nuisances that frequently upset neighbors.

These conditions are equally distasteful for many students who reach their second year and move to Woodland and West Sacramento for cheaper rent. Thus, we increase congestion as resident bikers become non-resident car commuters.

It’s no wonder that both the City Council and the ASUCD unanimously endorsed the Nishi project, now on the ballot as Measure A. At Nishi, the rents will be lower than in other university developments. The energy efficiency of the Nishi Gateway apartments — and their close proximity to campus, downtown and transit options — means most students will be able to live car-free.

Estimates suggest that close to 80 percent of students will use biking as a primary mode of transportation. This means a considerable savings to them — and a considerable benefit to the rest of us worried about greenhouse-gas emissions and traffic. The Nishi Gateway also will be a great fit for campus staff, young families looking for their first home in Davis and Davis seniors who want to downsize.

Nishi is projected to house more than 1,500 students, 30 percent of the expected increase in students. That is 1,500 students who won’t have to commute from outlying cities or occupy hundreds of homes in Central Davis.

Students who double up in a four-bedroom apartment in West Village will pay $462 to $535 in 2016-17. Each student in a comparable but more spacious four-bedroom apartment at Nishi would pay $440 per month, based on data from a Goodwin Consulting Study. A total of 239 of the 650 units will be less than 850 square feet in size and this includes 44 modest 580-square-foot studio apartments.

I was a member of Davis’ Housing Element Steering Committee, and one of things I have always lamented is this community’s lack of condominiums. High-density condos could make affordable living a possibility. They meet the needs of seniors, and they remain one of the few places young families can afford.

The condos at Nishi would average a compact 1,300 square feet; the average price per square foot for the city of Davis puts them 25 percent cheaper than the average home in Davis. Sixty-three of the condos available at Nishi will be less than 850 square feet in size and will be some of the smallest units available in our city.

A colleague of mine on the Housing Element Steering Committee, Kevin Wolf, summarized the senior housing issue nicely. “An unevaluated benefit of the Nishi project is how many senior citizens living in large-lot, empty-nest houses with low property taxes would move to the condos right next to the downtown, the Farmers Market, Arboretum and UCD arts and cultural center,” he said.

“When the University Retirement Community opened on Shasta Drive, many houses in town came up for sale as their owners moved there. In the process, new families moved in and the tax base on those homes often more than doubled, providing revenue for the city.”

In my many years in this great city, I’ve supported development and opposed development. Some ideas fit what we are and what we want to become, and some ideas take us down the wrong path.

Measure A provides us with a rare opportunity to simultaneously fulfill many of our needs while maintaining the character and vision of our city. In the strongest possible terms, I urge Davis voters to vote yes on Measure A.


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13 thoughts on “Nishi Will Help Fill Student Housing Needs”

  1. Marina Kalugin

    NOT NEEDED….still tons of unused space in the West Village and even on campus itself….for students.

    Also, there are MANY other INFILL projects in the queue…..

    PLUS<  who can afford all the NEW construction – smaller units on small lots, with HIGH HOAs, mello roos and other assessments….with HIGHER prop taxes….what FOR????  only the wealthiest will be able to afford the ONGOING payments…..which will be MUCH higher monthly costs…

    1. DavisforNishiGateway

      The University has said that it will be growing by 9,000 in the next five years, and that will not be able to house all of this increase of students and employees. More space is going to be needed. That is a fact. The question that remains is whether we want to house these students and employees in an area where 80% of their trips will be by biking or walking, or somewhere in Davis (or the surrounding communities) where they will drive to campus and create more traffic and congestion. The current rental vacancy rate in Davis is 0.2%. If we don’t build more housing to accommodate the increase from UC Davis, it will fall even lower. This is objectively bad for Davis.

      The rents at Nishi will be market-rate. This should be between $1500-1800 for a two bedroom place which can be split four ways for around $450 per month. That reflects the reality of the housing situation in Davis. Residents at Nishi will be able to save on utility bills due to the exceptional energy efficiency the buildings at Nishi will have–30% higher than the CAL Green Tier 1 standards. Also, Nishi residents will be able to go car-free which can save them thousands per year. These seem like good things to me.

      I think this answers all of your concerns. Let me know if you have any more.

  2. Marina Kalugin

    PS>   THOSE prices are HARDLY affordable neither for students NOR seniors…. and a way to gauge the populace while making HUGE bucks for developers…by building at the VERY top of the market ever, and charging the inflated prices for tiny units…

    Maynard, really, you should know better…….. Hey there old buddy, we have been on the same and differing sides of many a fence over the decades….

    Marina Kalugin (Rumiansev)

    1. Tia Will


      a way to gauge the populace while making HUGE bucks for developers”

      If you have knowledge of what these “huge bucks for developers ” are, would you please share ?.One of my major concerns is that we have no way of knowing whether or not we are getting a good value for any concessions that the city makes or any inconveniences that we experience as citizens, since we have no access to the other side of the equation.

  3. Marina Kalugin

    PS>>>  MOST Of the students NO longer bike…the students subsidize unitrans and think they are getting it for free…… many are too lazy, or it is too hot or too cold or how about rainy……  ?????

    but most of them drive MUCH fancier cars than staff, faculty and administrators can afford, and clog up the streets and parking with their BMWs and such…as they head to class paid for PELL Grants and other campus grants…..

    Even NISHI will be TOO far for THOSE folks….

    1. Tia Will


      MOST Of the students NO longer bike”

      Your data to support this statement would be ….? I live on a street with three student housing cooperatives, and several predominantly student apartments and I see them on their bikes much more than in their cars. This is purely anecdotal of course, but I would like to know what you are basing your statement on.

      1. Marina Kalugin

        Tia, you must live in one of the “older” and closer to campus areas, right?

        I base that on statistics that there are now MORE commuters from out of town who are students than EVER before…….and I also base that on the wealthier ones are the only ones who can afford to live in the higher priced NEWER apartments…..which are generally further fromt the core…   I also base it on MY observation as I drive to work now from South Davis due to health issues…rather than bike OR take the bus and I see the many fancy cars the students are driving…..compared to staff.   When I used to take the bus, once I was no longer a chauffer to MY children and then when THEY were learning to drive and we shared my old car…..and THEy had dibs…..I noticed that fewer students ARE riding their bikes as WAY more buses got crowded and there are WAy more bus lines and so forth….

        Also, TAPS does annual surveys….you could check THERE….

        I didn’t read the results yet of the most recent survey…  I don’t even recall if I had time to fill it out this year….

        In the days when I arrived here, there was ONLY DAvis… No West Davis, no NORTH Davis, no South Davis and hardly a tiny East Davis….

        I knew NO one with a car who was at the dorms……and we all walked or rode bikes…



  4. Marina Kalugin

    PS>>>> Back in the day students used to pair up….now you can hardly find a one who doesn’t NEED their own room…..  the campus on the other hand, in a pinch does triples….that is a MUCH better short term solution for those who need to save $….MARKET RATE today is a BUBBLE market rate….do NOT be fooled…

    1. ryankelly

      Marina, It seems to me that you are out of touch with the students’ situations. The picture you paint is not an accurate one.  Students do ride Unitrans – they do pay for it. But many drive here from out of town if they are forced to find housing in Woodland or Sacramento, etc.  Most students I know of who live in town, do not have cars and use the bus or ride bikes or they leave them at home to save on parking fees.  Most are paying 700-850 per month in rent or they double up and pay less.  For someone that works at the University, It seems to me that you have little respect or compassion for the students you serve.

  5. Marina Kalugin

    I based some of these statements on decades of living in town, on campus and elsewhere in Davis…Back in the day MOST students rode bikes and so did many faculty and some staff. MOST could NOT afford a car…and it was not even allowed for students to BRING a car to campus and park.

    When I moved into Beckett-Hughes, I had ONE suitcase and a clockradio to help me get up in the morning.. NO one had a TV, we watched, if we wanted to watch or had time to, in the “rec area”.

    As apartments were built further in town, MORE students are now taking unitrans OR driving…  LOCAL students fill up our parking structure adjacent to the fire department.

    Now, people rent VANS and lug all of the “essentials”….massive stereo systems, large screen TVs and so forth…  AND many of the students living in Dorms bring a fancy car with them….

    Many students whose families are in the “area”….commute instead of live in Davis…even with the high gas prices, it is STILL more affordable.

    To give more of an example to WHY the prices are so high in Davis, see some of my posts on this topic elsewhere.

    My son for a time worked at UCDMC>..and I helped him purchase a small (for Davis standards) house for $59K… 2010…near to that place….  ( my first house I bought in Davis in 79 was not even $59K)

    The “mortgage” was around $200/month….   His brother was attending American River.   THIS huge 2 story across the street from ARC was $850/month for a 3 bedroom, 3 bath 1800 sq ft place.  DIRECTLY across the street from ARC….perfect for someone who didn’t like to get up early…roll out of bed and there you are… He chose to only have ONE roommate and they each paid $425…

    THAT is sacramento and it is WHY students stay and live with THEIR families and commute…

    Davis apartment prices have skyrocketed in recent years…. and these MARKET rate inflated prices are ONLY because the DEVELOPERS who now build the houses on UCD land CAN and do charge THOSE because there are ENOUGH wealthy students and families who will PAY that…

    It has NOThING to do with doing what is best for the students…and UCD has few options to keep up with the housing demand on campus without getting “developers” to do the building and management..

    There are OThER reasons why it is more cost-effective overall…but I will leave that topic for now…

    There is NO reason why the developers who build the cookie cutter dorms and apartments going up should charge SO much for the room rates…..  The plans are set, and there are economies of scale..

    It is ONLY because they CAN….and that is WHY they do it….

    I don’t have all the statistics at my ready….   each of you who ask such questions…can do the investigations yourselves..  I am QUITE convinced there is hardly anyone on this board who has as much on his/her plate at the moment…..

    But, my DAD was an engineer, and so are ALL my family members going back generations…. not kidding, even my mother who was the ONLY woman back in her class of ’53 in the third world country where I was born…

    It is IN My blood and construction management, real estate and so on was always an interest of mine…  At my job at UCD Managing a large and VERY complex academic department, a tiny part of MY position description is overseeing multi-million renovation projects for our buildings…

    My dad was the managing STRUCTURAL engineer on the Orchard Park project…in the 60s I used to tag along sometimes for inspections…..

    It is sad to see it being taken down but I understand why…..see some of my other posts on this topic in recent days….

    I understand such things on almost a cellular level  and I see the choices that are made and WHy….it is NEVER to do something better for the populace…and is ALWAYS about maximizing profits….

    I think the LAST time that someone really created something in town with Altruistic motives was Mike Corbett on Village homes….of course, some of the things done to create  “small villlage”  was also used not that long ago at Woodbridge….. to “create” a village there are narrow roads, and sidewalks on only one side of the street….  sounds so lovely, right?   The REAL reason for doing THAT is to be able to stuff MORE houses closer together…and get MORE houses into a smaller space…

    Woodbridge, formerly the RICCI FARM,  was a model of that city council letting the Good ole boys, local developers and engineers,  get THEIR way…   many houses had toxic mold issues – they were ALL custom and some of the SAME builders around today and rushing to build the million plus houses in the Cannery and other “infill” like GRANDE project;……are the same ones who cut corners at Woodbridge…., and if you walk up and down the sidewalks in some areas on the village sidewalk on just one side of the street, the sidewalks are WAY worse than almost ANY other development in town…. at more than half a foot wide CRACKS and other safety problems.

    If you want some names, I will throw them around….but you can just LOOK up the records for yourself…

    Instead of FIXING those true hazards the developers are all laffing to the bank…as since the MARKET is so high again now, they are rushing to get MORE junk sold….

    Have a good evening….  I may get to some of the other questions tomorrow if I have some time around WORK  AND the Bernie rally in Sacramento…

    Marina Kalugin (Rumiansev)



  6. Marina Kalugin

    PS>   do not EVER believe a developer or politician…how does one know he is lying?  his lips are moving….  THAT gets truer as the MORE of a war chest they accumulate from friends and be sure those wealthy friends will come knocking for favors…

    I say HE because there have been very few women locally in the developer ranks ANd also as politicians and the women I have known over the years were ALWAYS more trustworthy and caring…  They won, for example Julie Partansky (RIP)  and Sue Greenwald,  because THEY were not afraid to speak up and were NOT beholden to the special  interests running THIs town for as long as developers were in this town…

    Vote Mariko Yamada for the Senate because SHE will LISTEN and do the right thing…just as she did for her terms on the Assembly…..She is NOT beholden to special interests and SHE is the one getting REAL work done…




    1. Frankly

      Vote Mariko Yamada for the Senate because SHE will LISTEN and do the right thing…just as she did for her terms on the Assembly…..She is NOT beholden to special interests

      LOL!  Except the public employee labor unions that bankroll her while they and their paid for political puppets bankrupt the city and state.

  7. nameless

    Marina Kulagin: “Davis apartment prices have skyrocketed in recent years…. and these MARKET rate inflated prices are ONLY because the DEVELOPERS who now build the houses on UCD land CAN and do charge THOSE because there are ENOUGH wealthy students and families who will PAY that…

    The prices of Davis real estate are skyrocketing because investors are snapping up houses for student rentals.  Look on just about any street in Davis, and you will find a good number of the homes are investor owned rentals.

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