Commentary: Is Davis Sustainable?

Student-Housing-3

In the aftermath of the defeat of the Nishi project, the Vanguard has sought to continue a community conversation about growth and development.  In so doing, I think Matt Williams is correct when he says that part of the problem here is that we are starting the conversation at a midpoint – we are looking to the solutions without addressing the problem itself.

At the most basic level he argues, and I completely agree, that our current path is not sustainable.  The solution to that problem is not set and is not a given.  That is really the subject for a diverse set of further community conversations that look into things like the General Plan, growth and urban development, economic development and environmental sustainability.

Since 2008, the Vanguard has argued that the city’s fiscal path has been unsustainable.  In fact, over the course of the last nine years, for most of that duration, the city has had a fundamental problem – that its expenditures have often been projected to exceed its revenues.

As the city has moved past the immediate economic downturn, the problem has shifted, but the fundamentals remain the same – while right now our immediate revenues exceed our expenditures, our needs still vastly exceed our ability to pay for those needs.  And so, while the city has done well to take $8 million or so in excess but one-time funds and use them to pay for infrastructure needs, those are a drop in the barrel compared to what we need.

The number that has been identified is $655 million over 20 years, around $32 million a year, in a city where our general fund itself is less than half that number.

Back in March, Matt Williams during a candidates’ forum put broke down how the figure was calculated.  $200 million of that is for roads over 20 years. $352 million is for buildings and parks. $114 million is for retiree pensions and health benefits.

He said that we are doing better on retiree health benefits and pensions, “but that’s only $114 million of the $655 million.” We have a parks tax, but the parks tax is “leaving us with $315 million worth of capital infrastructure maintenance that we’re going to have to do to the parks surfaces and buildings.”

He said, “These reports came from staff. They came in the last 120 days. We really do have to understand what we have promised to ourselves.”

For a moment, forget your vision, your goals, your ideology, and ask yourself one simple question: is the city’s current path on fiscal health sustainable?

The path we are on means that Davis as we know cannot continue.  We do not have enough money to pave our roads.  Right now we have done a good job setting aside some money ($4 million or so annually), but that’s half of what we need.

We have great parks in this town that are in peril due to lack of funding to maintain their infrastructure. We have city buildings and other infrastructure that need an influx of money.  And we still have to fund retiree pensions and health benefits, which are likely to continue to rapidly increase in cost.

In short, without a new solution, what makes Davis great – our roads, bike paths, parks, greenbelts, swimming pools and other great amenities are threatened due to lack of funds.

I want to make this clear – this has been a problem a long time in the making.  We made some choices 15 to 20 years ago that have led to these problems.  We increased pensions.  We increased salaries and total compensation.  The real estate market collapsed and therefore our revenue stream collapsed.

Some of these things were outside of our immediate control – the economic collapse, the pension rate hikes, the loss of transportation funding from the state and federal governments.

The way we handled this crisis in 2008 to 2010 was problematic at best, and it has compounded the current problems.  On the other hand, the council has been, since 2011 and 2012, working hard to fix a lot of these problems.

The bottom line is something we all must accept: the current path is not sustainable, which means we need to change our policies.

There is a second problem that is just as severe, if not more severe.  I have for a long time been a supporter of growth control policies.  I support Measure J and Measure R.  I support Davis as a small compact city surrounded by agricultural land.  I support green and sustainable policies.

However, I am not now nor have I ever been a zero growther.  We have very good schools, some might call them great, but Davis is increasingly relying on people who live elsewhere to send their kids to our schools.

We have a community that is pricing out people in my age bracket, income bracket, and family status.  Those are the people with children who attend our schools.

At the same time, a student housing shortage is hastening the decline in availability of single family homes, while putting pressure on students, landlords and the community to figure out a way to provide more student housing.

UC Davis has been part of the problem in this respect.  We have seen from Eileen Samitz’s guest commentary last fall that, twice in the past 30 years, UC Davis has made commitments to provide more housing to a higher percentage of students but has failed to do so.

That need is more urgent now than ever, as UC Davis is headed toward 39,000 students in this decade – the current enrollment of 36,104 in 2015-16 plus 725 added enrollment per year gets UCD to 39,004 in 2019-20.  The university recently committed to providing 90 percent of new students (but not the added faculty and staff) with on-campus housing.

There are two problems with that.  First, we have a housing crisis now, and all UC Davis is willing to build for is 90 percent of future demand.  Second, and most critically, we have no assurance of when and even if these houses will come on line.

Putting it in immediate terms, there will be 1000 students next fall at UC Davis over and above current enrollment, and there will be no additional housing for them to live.

Again, we can talk about solutions here – more on campus housing, more pressure on UC Davis, more infill housing in Davis, more peripheral housing in Davis, more commuting students – but the question we must first address is whether the current situation is sustainable.

The logical conclusion of the current path is that more students will live outside of Davis and commute, and more students will move into formerly single-family homes and potentially exacerbate problems stemming from noise, parking, mini-dorms, public nuisance and basic supply of housing for families.

Is this sustainable?  No.

I get the argument that people want to preserve Davis as we have it now.  Who doesn’t?  Everyone loves this community for a variety of reasons.

But my view is that, without good planning and constructive dialogue, in ten years Davis won’t be Davis – without making some changes.  I’m not going to presuppose what those changes should be.

Here is what I see without change: City services will decline.  We will not have the great parks, bike paths, or greenbelts unless we have the finances to maintain them.  Housing will be in more short supply, which will continue to bifurcate this town between an aging population and a young student renter class.

Housing for students will be scarce, forcing more students to jam into existing rental housing, and causing more students to commute into town.  The commute into town not only has environmental consequences, but it will continue to jam our existing roads and infrastructure – which we will not have the funding to upgrade.

At some point, things will have to give, a real urgent crisis will happen, and the best decisions are not generally made when facing an emergency problem.

We have time right now to address the sustainability of our future issue, but all sides have to be willing to come to the table and give something.

That is where we need to start our conversation, where it goes from there – we all have our ideas on the best way to proceed.

—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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132 Comments

  1. Misanthrop

    “There is a second problem that is just as severe if not more severe.  I have for a long time been a supporter of growth control policies.  I support Measure J and Measure R.  I support Davis as a small compact city surrounded by agricultural land.”

    You are still part of the problem.

  2. Tia Will

     Davis is increasingly relying on people who live elsewhere to send their kids to our schools.”

    School need should be based upon the number of students to be served. An error in estimation of the need for increased facilities was made a number of years ago. In my opinion, the correct answer is to decrease the number of schools rather than importing students from other communities to fill slots or saying see we don’t have enough children to fill our schools, therefore we need more families with young children.

    This would be the same thing as saying if we overbuilt institutional housing for the elderly and then more of those elderly chose or were able to age in place in their own homes, “we must bring in elderly from surrounding communities or invite more elderly to come and live here”. Sounds a little ridiculous when applied to that age group doesn’t it ?  And yet this is how we have been addressing our schools for years now.

    1. David Greenwald

      I’m sorry Tia you’re completely missing the point here. The point is not how to rectify whether we overbuilt school facilities, the point is that we have a school district for which we will see a decrease in the number of children as a byproduct of our current unsustainable situation.

      1. hpierce

        So, “the number of children” is a ‘metric’?  Should we have a GP goal as to #, %-age?  If so, why?  Should we allow no new ‘immigrants’ unless they are of child-bearing age, bring children with them, or sign a commitment letter to have children and enroll them in DJUSD?

        Am thinking, David, that it is you, not Tia who is “missing the point”…

        1. David Greenwald

          All I’m pointing out is the consequences of current path policies. You’re taking that point down the line a (long) ways beyond this piece.

        2. Matt Williams

          hpierce said . . . “So, “the number of children” is a ‘metric’”

          It is my understanding that the number of children is the metric the State uses to determine the amount of funding each school district gets from the State.  If that is true, then yes, number of children is a metric.

      2. Tia Will

        David

        I do not believe that these two points are in contradiction. I simply did not see where you have ever acknowledged that the discrepancy in the number of students and the school slots is not a single factor issue.

    2. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > School need should be based upon the number

      > of students to be served.

      Sounds nice, but if we closed an elementary school we would need to fire a lot of teachers and staff.

      It is easier for the DJUSD to keep importing kids from out of the area so they can hire even more friends since Davis keeps voting to for more and more parcel taxes.

      I have heard at least a dozen people that live in the new homes (who’s kids go to school in Davis with my kids) south of Costco say they live in “North Davis”.

      P.S. I wonder what developer will be the first to run an ad that says “access to great Davis schools without the high Davis parcel taxes”…

      1. Barack Palin

        Funny, I know of a family in Spring Lake that sends 3 kids to Davis schools and both parents don’t work here.  How sweet, the benies without the taxation.

      2. Don Shor

        Also, remember how it went over in the community when they closed Valley Oak? If all the inter district students were turned away (which wouldn’t be legal in some instances), they would have to close at least one school. The district was overcrowded in the 1990’s, so they built two new elementary schools and one new junior high school. Turns out that, based on actual population growth, they only really needed one of the elementary schools. The inter district students bring ADA revenues and allow the district to keep all of those schools open.

        1. hpierce

          The inter district students bring ADA revenues and allow the district to keep all of those schools open.

          Yes, with the subsidy of the local parcel assessments, and to what point?  Full employment for teachers?

          1. Don Shor

            Those of us who were parents of inter district students felt we had good reasons for enrolling them here. I believe we also contributed in many ways to the district. In our case, both parents worked in the district, and our kids had attended day care and school here since kindergarten.
            When our kids were here, there was a ranking system of priority that was something like this:
            — child has a parent who works for the district
            — child has a parent who works in the district
            — child has a sibling attending school in the district
            — child has attended school or day care in the district since kindergarten. That was actually the legal basis for some to remain. It was the basis of our successful appeal to the county board of education, though it was never adjudicated. They granted our appeal individually, not as a precedent.
            Interdistrict transfers were always on a space-available basis. Having created a surplus of capacity by over-building schools in response to unrealistic enrollment projections, the district has plenty of space available. The alternative would be to close one of the elementary schools. Take your pick: which one?
            At least then, these were not people living and working elsewhere who simply brought their kids into DJUSD. Situations do change, jobs change, people move around, and well-meaning parents wish to provide continuity for their kids.
            There has always been an undercurrent that inter district families are somehow gaming the system or costing the district money. It’s kind of ugly, actually.

        2. Tia Will

          Don

          Turns out that, based on actual population growth, they only really needed one of the elementary schools. The inter district students bring ADA revenues and allow the district to keep all of those schools open.”

          Agree that this is true. But am questioning whether this is the best approach for the education of these children as well as for both short and long term planning for the community of Davis. My guess is “no” but then I am neither a school administrator nor a city planner.

          What I do know a bit about is hospital and clinic planning. I know that when you make a big mistake and build a hospital that the number of patient’s will not support, what you have is financial trouble. If you then have to import patient’s just to fill beds and employ health care professionals and ancillary staff, what you will have is even more financial trouble. Unless of course you are creating a truly unique experience such as concierge service for the extremely rich or a unique specialization for your region in which case it can prove profitable. I sincerely doubt that the Davis school system rises to this level of superiority or specialization.

  3. Barack Palin

    School need should be based upon the number of students to be served. An error in estimation of the need for increased facilities was made a number of years ago. In my opinion, the correct answer is to decrease the number of schools rather than importing students from other communities to fill slots or saying see we don’t have enough children to fill our schools, therefore we need more families with young children.

    Well said, I totally agree.  It seems as if our school district has turned into some type of conglomerate that needs to import students in order to keep it growing.  Just taking care of our local needs is all a city school district should be responsible for.

    1. hpierce

      So, for families that live elsewhere, but work in Davis/UCD, they should keep those kids the hell out of our schools?

      I have no problem with accommodating (not “importing”… that is an entirely different matter, but hell UC does that!) students whose parents work within the DJUSD boundaries… but in addition to the ADA they bring, they need to pony up the equivalent of the parcel taxes/assessments… that would only be fair…

      1. Barack Palin

        but in addition to the ADA they bring, they need to pony up the equivalent of the parcel taxes/assessments… that would only be fair…

        I agree.  If the ADA covered all the costs of having a student attend our schools we wouldn’t be needing parcel taxes so obviously the shortfall is being made up by Davis homeowners paying higher and higher school parcel taxes.

        1. hpierce

          Check your 8:43 post, David… tell me again, if your point is housing, why do you say it’s BP and me who are “going off track”?  Housing = children?  Please explain…

          Many children grow up in MF housing, which is our biggest need… yet, the school parcel tax will exact 1% of a revenue, for a 100 unit apartment complex, than it will for a SF parcel that has no kids, but aren’t eligible for an exemption… no logic that I can see… MF properties are generally held longer than SF… and thus, they have less property tax liability/growth relatively speaking.  So why are my comments “off point” as to sustainability, as you have already clarified ‘sustainability’ involves schools/school funding?  What am I missing?

        2. Ron

          hpierce:   ” . . . yet, the school parcel tax will exact 1% of a revenue, for a 100 unit apartment complex, than it will for a SF parcel that has no kids, but aren’t eligible for an exemption . . .”

          Can you explain this a little further?  I’m just now learning about it.

          1. David Greenwald

            THere was court ruling that meant that all parcel have to be taxed at even increments. Originally the district set the apartments at $20 per unit but in a settlement that got removed and now all apartment complexes are taxed at the same rate as residential regardless of number of units.

        3. Ron

          Thanks, David.

          A settlement?  Was there a lawsuit between apartment owners and the district?

          I’m thinking it doesn’t look good to ask single-family homeowners to approve a parcel tax renewal, under these circumstances (to say the least). The current assessment structure is grossly unreasonable.

        4. hpierce

          David… difference between legal, fair, and equitable… please don’t tell us you think it is fair and equitable… we should all get the “legal” part… oh, and should unfair/unequitable either be illegal or rejected on those grounds?  Be careful in answering… unfair/inequitable in one area should be accepted as unfair/inequitable in other areas… (???)

        5. Barack Palin

          I’m thinking it doesn’t look good to ask single-family homeowners to approve a parcel tax renewal, under these circumstances (to say the least). The current assessment structure is grossly unreasonable.

          Yes Ron, that’s the main reason homeowner’s parcel tax is going up to $620 from $531, to cover for the loss of rental unit revenue.  So Davis homeowners aren’t just paying a higher parcel tax because of out of town kids but also to cover for kids that come from in town apartments.

        6. South of Davis

          BP wrote:

          > Yes Ron, that’s the main reason homeowner’s

          > parcel tax is going up to $620 from $531, to cover

          > for the loss of rental unit revenue.  

          Has anyone seen the math on this (I’m thinking the schools will be getting more money)?

          My back of the napkin calculations show that the the schools will get MORE parcel tax income since most apartments in town have less than 26 units per parcel (the break even number) and many (but not all) big 100+ unit complex are on multiple parcels and have multiple APNs.

          e.g Ten 10 unit buildings around downtown pay $2,000 total under the current $20/unit system will be paying $6,200 under the new system.  A 100 unit building on three parcels will get a small discount going from $2,000 under the $20/unit system to $1,860 under the new system.

        7. Matt Williams

          Question to hpierce, but anyone can feel free to chime in.  Would it be legal for the City to pass an Ordinance that requires all apartments to subdivide their existing parcels into one parcel per apartment? That is what happens when a single family residential development goes in . . . the pre-existing parcel is subdivided into one parcel per SFR.

        8. South of Davis

          Matt wrote:

          > Would it be legal for the City to pass an Ordinance that requires

          > all apartments to subdivide their existing parcels into one parcel

          > per apartment?

          It is possible to convert an apartment building with a single assessors parcel number (APN) in to a condo with an APN for each unit.

          I don’t know if it would be “legal” for the city to require this I’m just wondering who is going to cover the legal costs (that would top $10K for a small property and be over $100K for a big property)…

  4. Ron

    From article:  “At the same time, a student housing shortage is hastening the decline in availability of single family homes . . .”

    Matt pointed out yesterday that there may not be sufficient demand for all the new single-family homes in the Cannery (leading the developers to advertise in Marin county).

    From article:  “We have very good schools, some might call them great, but Davis is increasingly relying on people who live elsewhere to send their kids to our schools.”

    I agree with Tia and others – school enrollment should not be a “driving force” regarding the amount (or type) of residential development.  Schools exist to serve the community – not the other way around.

    Also intrigued by hpierce’s idea regarding parents who work in Davis (and send their kids to school in Davis), but apparently are not “ponying up” up the equivalent of the parcel taxes/assessments.

    From article:  “But my view is that, without good planning and constructive dialogue, in ten years Davis won’t be Davis – without making some changes.  I’m not going to presuppose what those changes should be.”

    No – David never does tell you exactly what he’s proposing.  He just continually focuses on a “crisis”, and implies that more development is needed (somewhere).

    Regarding “sustainability” in general, I always enjoy it when residential development (which is a money loser for cities) gets thrown into the same argument as economic development.  (It’s an old trick, by this point.  However, I’m not implying that David is doing this on purpose.)

    1. Matt Williams

      Ron said . . . “Matt pointed out yesterday that there may not be sufficient demand for all the new single-family homes in the Cannery (leading the developers to advertise in Marin County).”

      Ron, you have taken my statement and moved it outside the boundaries of the laws of microeconomics.

      As DavidSmith has correctly pointed out the demand for housing is definitely there.  The reason New Home is advertising in Marin is because of the price elasticity of the local portion of the demand for Dafis SFR housing.  Current Davis residents or current employees of our community’s employers are either unwilling or unable to pay the $ per square foot of current Cannery pricing.

      Question to the Blog. Does anyone have information about what the $ per square foot sale price has been for SFRs at the Cannery?

      Ron, it is important to note that demand for housing falls into broad categories — ownership and non-ownership (rental).  I believe the demand for ownership housing is both significantly lower and significantly less elastic than the demand for non-ownership housing.  The Cannery example only applies to the ownership housing category.

      1. Tia Will

        Matt

         Current Davis residents or current employees of our community’s employers are either unwilling or unable to pay the $ per square foot of current Cannery pricing.”

        So here would be my issue with this. The Cannery was proposed largely as a help to fill the need for housing for Davis residents. This was one of the issues that many people with home I spoke found the strongest point  in favor of the Cannery. Now that it has been approved and is partially built out, we “discover” that the supposed target population cannot afford what is being built. This to me is a clear cut case of the developer rather than the community driving the process. And all they had to be able to do was to “count to three” to achieve their “bottom line” rather than to act with respect to the needs of the community.

        1. Matt Williams

          Tia, my understanding is that the projected sales price per square foot for ownership housing at the Cannery in the documentation provided to Council (and the Commissions and the public) was approximately $325 per square foot, but that the actual sales price per square foot for the units that have come on the market (and been sold) is in excess of $400 per square foot.  If those two numbers are correct, then what you have is the difference between expectation and reality. 

          It would be very useful to find the original, pre-approval documentation of the projected sales prices.  If anyone has that, please post a link to it, and I’m sure Don will add it to his very robust and valuable library of electronic documents.

          It would also be very useful to document both the listing prices and sales prices (where appropriate) per square foot of the units that have been listed thus far at the Cannery.

        2. Matt Williams

          David, accepting the fact that we are both dealing with second hand data, your post prompted me to go out to the Cannery site (see LINK), and according to the information there “The homes at Beech include laundry, attached two-car garages with bike storage and direct access, and a porch.”  Floor Plan One at Beech has 1,780 Square Feet and the base price is listed as “Low $600,000s”  $350 per square foot and 1,780 square feet yields $623,000.  Based on the information gleaned from the Cannery Open Houses, most of the houses are selling with a fair number of options, $89,000 of those options pushes the price per square foot at Beech up to $400 per square foot.

          The story at Persimmon is similar.  Floor Plan One at Persimmon has 2,511 Square Feet and the base price is listed as “High $700,000s”  $365 per square foot and 2,511 square feet yields $786,000.  $75,000 of options pushes the price per square foot at Persimmon up to $400 per square foot.

          The story at Sage is also similar.  Floor Plan One at Sage has Up to 1,943 Square Feet and the base price is listed as “High $700,000s”  $400 per square foot and 1,943 square feet yields $777,000.  $97,000 of options pushes the price per square foot at Persimmon up to $450 per square foot.

           

        3. DavidSmith

          Matt, that’s very thorough. My observation is based on a single but first hand data point. The Tilton Plan 3 (2900ft2) was selling for ~$850k (before any options) when I visited them around March this year. That’s around $300/ft2. I have to acknowledge that Tilton 3 is on the large side and probably is not what a typical/average buyer is looking for.

        4. Matt Williams

          I try and be thorough David, and even to live by your suggestion . . . I really wish people on this forum could at least do some study before they express their opinions. It’s really not difficult to do some google searches and investigations.

          Let me extend to you the same offer I made to Ron yesterday.  If you would like to have a cup of coffee or something stronger some time, I would enjoy meeting you and dialoguing face to face.

        5. DavidSmith

          Thanks much Matt for the offer. I really appreciate it. But you know this is a pseudo name and I’ve said enough nasty things about UCOP. I’m not really comfortable revealing my identity.

        6. Matt Williams

          I understand David.  I will be beginning regular morning coffee meetings in the near future.  Feel free to join me some day and while keeping your Vanguard identity safe, share with me your thoughts about Davis.  For all I know you are one of the 7,157.

        1. Matt Williams

          I’ll give you half of that point hpierce.  The taxes were going to be there regardless, but the CFD, now that is indeed incremental cost over and above the purchase price.

          For units between 1,675 and 2,124 Square feet the Year One CFD payment is $1,434, which is subject to an annual 2% increase.  That makes the final Year 30 payment $2,436 and the total of the 30 annual payments equal to $58,174.  Divide that by Sage’s 1,943 and you get an incremental $30 per Square Foot on top of the Base $350 per Square Foot.

  5. DavidSmith

    Matt pointed out yesterday that there may not be sufficient demand for all the new single-family homes in the Cannery (leading the developers to advertise in Marin county).

    I know plenty of people who couldn’t afford the house price in Davis and have to buy a house in the surrounding areas. The demand is there but unmet.

    1. Ron

      DavidSmith:

      Based upon your statement, I understand that you think that housing should be less expensive in Davis.  (I don’t intend to minimize the difficulty, regarding affordability in general.)  But, as you can see, new housing won’t necessarily be occupied by Davis residents.  Also, many will choose to live in nearby (somewhat) more affordable areas, regardless. Any amount of housing that is (realistically) built in Davis will probably not affect the overall cost in a meaningful manner.

      1. Ron

        Ron:  “Also, many will choose to live in nearby (somewhat) more affordable areas, regardless.”

        Especially if their children can attend Davis schools without paying the full cost needed to support Davis schools. (It also encourages more people to live outside of Davis, but commute in to work via motor vehicle and drop off children in Davis from other areas.)

        (I normally don’t “quote myself”.)

         

        1. The Pugilist

          It’s a trade off.  We get about $7000 to $8000 in ADA money, they get a Davis education without having to live here or pay the additional taxes.  However, someone was telling me the other day, at some point Woodland isn’t going to let those students leave their district – they have to consent apparently, or so I was told.

    2. hpierce

      36 years ago, we bought a 3 bed/2 bath house in Davis in a nice neighborhood, for $71k… @ about 4.5 times family income (@ 12.0% interest rate on the mortgage-30 year)[yeah, big stretch, but we managed]… at the time, our rental payments for a 2Br, 1.5 bath townhome was almost equal to the mortgage for the house… at that time, the vacancy rate was 0.25%…

        1. hpierce

          Yeah… things are cyclic… but mine is a true story… there used to be a sculpture, on the Russell Blvd median, just west of Anderson/LaRue, the title of which was “bum-bum you’ve been here before”… or, if you prefer, “those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it”…

      1. Sam

        And today a 3/2 would cost more than 4.5 times a family income, but because of the low interest rates the payment would be close to the same, or less, as a percentage of household income then when you bought the house.

  6. DavidSmith

    No I don’t know enough to suggest that.

    I’m merely pointing out a problem that there are many people who wants to own a property in Davis but couldn’t afford it. I speak based on my personal observation and interaction with friends and colleagues. Most of these people that I know work at the University. Most of them are young and at the age of raising kids. But they have to live elsewhere and commute to work.

    That Cannery doesn’t sell well doesn’t mean there is no demand for single family housing in Davis. There are several factors affecting Cannery’s sale. I actually went to see their model homes and I can see why it may not be the most agreeable housing choice even for people who has the money.

    I think what David is implying is that a shortage of student housing is pushing some owners to convert SFH to rental properties, which reduces the supply of SFHs and drives up the price even further. That is unfortunate for people who want to buy a house. What it means for the city and community as a whole, I don’t know enough to comment.

    1. Ron

      DavidSmith:

      Not sure if you’ve been reading a lot of the posts lately, but there is an effort to encourage the University to follow-through (and improve upon) its commitment to build more student housing.  (On-campus housing is usually the best option for both students and residents.)

      Some have been repeatedly stating that the effort will not be effective, despite the major policy change that we’ve already seen from the University as a result of those efforts.  (The University has recently agreed to house 90% of the increased enrollment.)

      Some (such as Eileen Samitz) are committed to following-through, on those efforts.  (However, I understand that some will continue to attempt to predict the outcome in a negative manner, instead of encouraging and supporting these efforts.)

      Regarding the Cannery, it might not be ideal, for some. But, it’s certainly habitable. (I would also argue that some of the dwellings are competitively priced. But, I suppose that’s a “relative” statement.)

      1. DavidSmith

        Sure I don’t intend to argue about the Cannery. As much as I can see it doesn’t suit the need for some, I can see it being a great choice for some others.

        I do believe that the University should take up some of that responsibility in providing student housing. However, the University is already under stress to provide good education (which is its main mission) with a limited budget. If providing housing is not a money making business, I can see why it’s not their highest priority. I don’t have concrete data showing whether it’s indeed a money losing business, but I know for a fact that it’s very expensive to build anything by the University. If the University runs a deficit in providing housing to students, that deficit (and the overall higher cost) will have to be recouped from somewhere, most likely student boarding fee and a higher operation budget which may lead to higher tuition.

        In addition, and I may be naive on this, I see it as an opportunity for the city to increase its revenue by accommodating more students. These students will spend money on food, entertainment, etc and that could result in a more vibrant business landscape. No?

        I won’t comment further on the effort on pushing the University on housing. To me, it is economics at the bottom of the issue. But a lot of politics and emotion have been intertwined in it also. I don’t know enough to be able to have a clear view.

         

        1. Ron

          DavidSmith:  “I don’t have concrete data showing whether it’s indeed a money losing business, but I know for a fact that it’s very expensive to build anything by the University.”

          I think it’s very expensive to build anything, anywhere in Davis.

          I also don’t have concrete data, regarding whether or not it costs the University anything to build/maintain housing.  (In the simplest terms, I understand that a contractor would likely pay the cost to build a structure on University land, with the contractor retaining profits from leases for an extended period of time.  I think this is being done at West Village, now.)  Cost savings should be realized by the fact that the University already owns the land, and is presumably not in the business of making a “profit” off of that land.  Perhaps the University would eventually own the structure (after an extended period), as well. (However, I don’t think that anyone outside of the University is fully aware of the finances or options available, to build student housing.) We will likely learn more, as this effort continues.

          David Smith:  In addition, and I may be naive on this, I see it as an opportunity for the city to increase its revenue by accommodating more students. These students will spend money on food, entertainment, etc and that could result in a more vibrant business landscape. No?”

          In general, housing costs the city more than it collects in taxes over time.  (It’s not a money-maker, at least.)  Students will be spending money in the city, regardless of whether they live on campus, in town, or in a nearby area.  Housing on campus ensures the overall shortest and safest “commute”.

           

        2. South of Davis

           

          Ron wrote:

          > I also don’t have concrete data, regarding whether

          > or not it costs the University anything to build/

          > maintain housing.

          Based on recent issues around prevailing wage requirements is is going to be a LOT more expensive for UCD to build any housing (or “re-build” anything as we all get to look at the 200 unit Orchard Park apartments that have been vacant since 2014 sit vacant for another year).

          http://www.davisvanguard.org/2016/03/analysis-labor-laws-complicating-uc-davis-ability-to-build-housing/

        3. Matt Williams

          DavidSmith said . . .“In addition, and I may be naive on this, I see it as an opportunity for the city to increase its revenue by accommodating more students. These students will spend money on food, entertainment, etc and that could result in a more vibrant business landscape. No?

          David, it is reasonable to believe/expect the services portion of the business landscape (food, entertainment, etc.) to be more vibrant, because students will indeed spend money on those services; however, the retail businesses in Davis will see very little incremental vibrancy because the 20-24 year-old age cohort buys a relatively low volume of “things” and the things they buy (electronics, clothes, etc.) they more often than not purchase at big box retailers, or from Internet retailers, or from retail establishments in their home towns.  Note: I personally consider stores like Nugget and Safeway and Trader Joes and Whole Foods that sell consumables to be services businesses as opposed to retail businesses.

        4. DavidSmith

          To Ron and Matt

          I think there will be a difference between students living in the dorm and an apartment complex in town. Students in dorms often just buy meal plans and eat at the dining court. I would expect that those who live in town would go out more and purchase more from local business, probably as Matt said, more from food and entertainment businesses and less from local retailers. But that’s still some benefits. Perhaps you think it’s not significant enough?

          And now that I think about it, the downtown of Davis doesn’t really feel like it’s a college town. Where do all the students hang out?

  7. Ron

    So, I’m understanding that two things desperately need to be “fixed”, regarding parcel taxes for schools:

    1)  Parents who work in Davis, and send their kids to school in Davis, are not paying the equivalent of “parcel taxes” to the Davis school district.  (I suppose that they are paying parcel taxes in their own district, which doesn’t benefit Davis.)

    2)  Apartment complexes are paying the same amount as single-family dwellings, regardless of the number of units in the complex.

    Wow.

    1. Don Shor

      For about the hundredth time over the years, I will tell you all that parents whose children are here via inter district transfers cannot be compelled to pay the extra Davis parcel taxes. It can’t be mandated. If they want to donate the same amount to the district, they are free to do so. And yes, they are paying parcel taxes in their home districts.

      1. hpierce

        And yes, they are paying parcel taxes in their home districts.

        Cites? Rates?

        Why is the money not flowing to the students (the schools they attend)?   If 200 students are coming from Woodland, even if (suspect not) parcel taxes are the same, looks like Woodland is making a profit, Davis suffering a loss… is that fair or equitable?  So Davis taxpayers should make up the difference?

        Charity is fine… a lot of our household income goes to those… just don’t tell me it is OBLIGATION!

        1. Don Shor

          “Cites? Rates?”
          I don’t understand your question.

          Why is the money not flowing to the students (the schools they attend)?

          It is going to their home district. That’s how our tax system works. Go ahead and devise a better one.
          No, parcel taxes are not the same.
          Yes, Woodland is making a “profit.” But they’re not getting the ADA for those kids.
          Go ahead, hpierce, throw ’em all out. Which school did you want to close again?

        2. hpierce

          Get yourself checked for rabies, Don….

          I am not for closing any schools…

          I am also not in favor of the notion “my schools, right or wrong!”

          I am against spurious arguments/philosophies that are inclined to tell me who to be, how to act… what my “obligations” are (the “it’s for the children” thing is getting tiring, when parents are not taking responsibility for them)…

          You did not cite any references/facts as to what other school districts in the extended attendance area are collecting… and how they compare to DJUSD.

          Your argument:

          When our kids were here, there was a ranking system of priority that was something like this:— child has a parent who works for the district— child has a parent who works in the district— child has a sibling attending school in the district— child has attended school or day care in the district since kindergarten. That was actually the legal basis for some to remain.

          OK, if those parents are paying less (not only parcel taxes, but lower assessed valuations for property tax), because we are providing for their “stellar” education, you’re good with that, and expect it… noblesse oblige?

          Should resident City employees get a discount on taxes or utility bills?  It seems you imply that if a parent works for the district, they should not only get a priority (see all your criteria), but get a “pass” for any incremental costs… the difference between ADA and what needs to be “made up” by the parcel tax (if any is actually needed, after the District implements “cost containments”).

          Will you, personally be paying the proposed parcel tax?  Did you ever?

           

          1. Don Shor

            Will you, personally be paying the proposed parcel tax? Did you ever?

            Yes I will, and we always have.

        3. Davisite

          I don’t understand why it is remotely relevant what parcel tax students from communities outside Davis now attending Davis schools are paying.  What Don Shor is saying is that there is no legal mechanism for making such families pay the Davis parcel tax.  So that means that there are two choices:

          1.  Let them continue to attend and get additional state funds for them, although no parcel tax funds; hope they will voluntarily pay the equivalent of the parcel tax.

          2.  Kick them out (to the extent that is legally possible), lose the state funds, and have to deal with any resulting school closures, but avoid the perceived unfairness of allowing them to attend Davis schools without paying for them.

          One can rationally opt for either #1 or #2, but again, why are “cites” or “rates” relevant to the discussion?

           

        4. South of Davis

          I don’t know of any areas around here that have school parcel taxes and I doubt we have any kids driving from Woodside or Hillsborough (where they do have school parcel taxes and even higher ranked public schools) to go to public school in Davis.

    2. Ron

      Regarding the two problems (with school district parcel taxes), I’d say that the answer to this article is “no” – it’s not sustainable.  (And, more development will not “fix” those particular problems.)

      1. Matt Williams

        That is my answer as well Ron . . . it’s not sustainable.  So that brings us to part B of this community dialogue, what steps do you think Davis should take in order to change its situation from not sustainable to sustainable?

  8. Chester

    Davis is not sustainable for a number of reasons; first among them is Measure R and the NIMBYs that exploit it.  Those two have to be defeated, but it doesn’t look feasible given the current demographics and the trends.  Expect Davis to continue it’s slide downward into an older and less relevant community undeserving of the benefits provided by UCD.  Davis is becoming a very exclusive, but weak, town.

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/urbs/author/alexbaca/

    A neighborhood, usually dense with amenities, walkable, and anchored by transit, becomes favored by newcomers, who have arrived because that region has jobs for the taking. The newcomers, usually relatively flush with cash, are more favorable tenants than working-class and low-income families. Longtime residents squall in protest to any sort of new housing, either to protect their property or personal values. Nothing gets built, and the neighborhood becomes steeply unaffordable to anyone but those who had the good fortune and foresight to buy their homes decades ago.

    YIMBY’s tenets are not necessarily intuitive to the regular citizen. While research shows that the way to keep in-demand neighborhoods affordable is to increase supply, many people aren’t comfortable acknowledging that housing works just like many other markets. And as Trauss noted, even the most accepting among us may recoil at doing what it takes to truly integrate neighborhoods, a process that happens at the expense of our own families.

    So, whither the YIMBY movement? As other dispatches have noted, YIMBY must build a bigger tent—demographically, ideologically, and geographically. And its adherents will need to make the transition from chattering on Twitter to chattering in real life—not just at meetings concerning pet issues, but whenever the opportunity arises. Still, YIMBY is positioned to bring to the general public the ideals long pushed by groups like Smart Growth America, the Congress for New Urbanism, and Strong Towns, all of which promote walkable places designed for people.

    1. Tia Will

      Chester

      Expect Davis to continue it’s slide downward into an older and less relevant community undeserving of the benefits provided by UCD.”

      I do not understand your comment about “less relevant”. The only relevance that Davis has ever had outside the community and immediate region has been in the areas of agriculture, environmental protection, and the strengths brought by the stronger departments of the University including but not limited to animal sciences, agriculture, medicine, and now various areas of STEM research. What other “relevance” do you think that the city of Davis has ever had ? Many of us who make up the “older” portion of the community are those same individuals who put UCD on the map as a research institution in the first place. And there also are some of us who do not see our “external relevance” as our most important value.

      1. DavidSmith

        “less relevant” means that for most ordinary people who work at Davis and make contributions to the local economy, living in the city of Davis is becoming a less relevant consideration.

  9. Ron

    By the way, the current structure of the parcel taxes (with apartment complexes paying the same amount as single-family homes, regardless of the number of units in the complex) certainly makes it more difficult to advocate for rezoning to accommodate construction of large numbers of new apartment complexes.  (It certainly isn’t going to help fund the school district very much, to say the least.)

    1. The Pugilist

      That part won’t.  Alleviating housing issues elsewhere might.  Remember Nishi was going to net the district $400,000 in additional property taxes.

    2. Matt Williams

      Ron, given that the demand for non-ownership housing in Davis is overwhelmingly from the 20-24 year-old demographic cohort, those added apartments will be contributing virtually no students to DJUSD, and therefore virtually no costs for DJUSD.  Thinking like an Income Statement, the bottom-line of revenues with no costs is a positive margin.  I suspect DJUSD will be glad to accept incremental positive margin on their books.

      With that said, the City Attorney has told me in a one-on-one conversation that DJUSD’s settlement with Granda has no bearing on the City, and that the City’s method of assessing Parcel Taxes will remain unchanged.

       

  10. Misanthrop

    There was a presentation about inter-district transfers at the school board a while back and the discussion here misses that many inter-district transfers can’t be turned away by the district because they are subject to state law. As I understood the presentation, if a family is renting in Davis with kids enrolled in DJUSD and then buys in Woodland they are allowed to to keep the kids in the Davis schools. If somebody lives in Woodland and works in the Davis area they can enroll their kids in DJUSD. This accounts for most of the inter-district transfers. The transfers that the district can say no to are the kids who live elsewhere and have parents who work elsewhere but I think that isn’t where Davis is getting the bulk of the inter-district transfers from. There may also be some other special circumstances that apply but I’m not an expert.

    The point that I think David was making is that by not building enough housing we drive up the price forcing people to live in other towns and commute to Davis. We would be better off if we built enough housing to accommodate the needs of the local economy. Davis has been blessed with being the host community of UCD a multi-billion dollar a year economic engine that is growing by leaps and bounds. Davis has tried to retain its rural identity but in doing so we are playing whack-a-mole with housing, refusing to build it here and causing all kinds of local problems and unintended consequences including simply transferring that needed housing to other jurisdictions like UCD and Woodland. The housing still gets built but the impacts on Davis are often worse than if we simply built it here. I guess the best you can say about it is out of sight out of mind.

    1. quielo

      CA DOE has this to say
      Interdistrict Transfer/Reciprocal Agreement
      An interdistrict transfer/reciprocal agreement is when parents/guardians wish to register/admit/enroll their student(s) at a school other than the designated school that is in their attendance area outside of their district.

      California Education Code sections 46600–46610 permits parents/guardians to request an interdistrict transfer/reciprocal agreement. The fundamental basis for this provision is the signing of an agreement between districts. Interdistrict transfer/reciprocal agreement must be approved by both the student’s original district of residence and the district to which the student seeks to transfer to. Both districts must approve the agreement before it becomes valid. The agreement may extend for a maximum of five consecutive years and may include terms or conditions. It is within the authority of either the home district or the receiving district to revoke an interdistrict transfer/reciprocal agreement at any time for any reason the local board or district superintendent deems appropriate.

      If a request for an interdistrict transfer/reciprocal agreement is denied, the student’s parents/guardians may file an appeal to the county office of education in the student’s district of residence within 30 days of receipt of the official notice of denial of the transfer.

      1. Don Shor

        It is within the authority of either the home district or the receiving district to revoke an interdistrict transfer/reciprocal agreement at any time for any reason the local board or district superintendent deems appropriate.

        Unless the law has changed since we were in the school district, this is not completely accurate. At that time, there was a state law that said (paraphrasing) that if a child had entered the district as an inter district transfer for reason of child care or parental employment in the district, and had been continuously so since kindergarten, that child had a right to continue as an inter district student K through 12 so long as it was uninterrupted.
        That was a very clear reading of the law to most people. DJUSD, faced with overcrowding, tried to cancel all ID transfers, forcing several of us to appeal to the county board of education. Elk Grove district, facing the same overcrowding, interpreted the law as I have described, and opted only to stop accepting new ID transfers. DJUSD’s argument was that the superintendent could cancel them due to an emergency, and that overcrowding constituted and emergency.
        Most inter district parents simply caved and went away. Of those of us who appealed, some won and some didn’t. It was decided on a case by case basis, nobody wanted to sue and the county board didn’t want to rule as a precedent. In our case the fact that we pay the parcel tax on our business property was mentioned by some of the board members as a factor in our favor. I thought that was odd, but certainly wasn’t going to argue with them about it.
        The point of all this is that when the district accepts inter district transfers, it is possible that some of them are not revocable at the district’s whim. Inter district agreements are always on a space-available basis and there is a priority ranking. We never knew for sure which school our kid would end up at, though every effort was made to provide continuity. They are renewed annually and must be approved by the home district first.

      2. South of Davis

        Most people just say they live at a friends house and don’t bother to jump through the hoops.  Unlike Palo Alto, Cupertino and Millbrae that had to start checking Davis schools don’t do any follow up since they want more kids.

    1. Matt Williams

      The City doesn’t have the money to pay for the paving materials.

      BTW, the $655 million does not include any money for pool repair/replacement. When estimates of those capital costs for pool repair/replacement are determined the $655 million unfunded number will go up.

  11. DavidSmith

    Chester

    Expect Davis to continue it’s slide downward into an older and less relevant community undeserving of the benefits provided by UCD.  Davis is becoming a very exclusive, but weak, town.

    I think this captures the current situation very well.

    1. hpierce

      Why?  Not being argumentative, but seeking clarity.

      There is a town, Paradise, near Chico, that was (70’s) pretty much retirees… voted down any schools assessment… have no idea on their current demographics… reason I know the 70’s thing was due to knowing a new teacher going into their school district, and visiting the town…

      1. DavidSmith

        It’s just my feeling.

        How are the financials in the town of Paradise. Do they have a similar no growth mentality? Is it an expensive town to live in? How do they keep up with their infrastructure maintenance? Where do they get their revenue from if pretty much everyone is a retiree?

    1. DavidSmith

      https://www.townofparadise.com/index.php/our-government/budget

      Reading through the financial reports, I get a feeling that they are also stressed. Just passed a tax increase to break even.

      And a bit more on the demographics (wikipedia). Also note that their population decreased from 2000 to 2010.

      The population was spread out with 4,501 people (17.2%) under the age of 18, 1,858 people (7.1%) aged 18 to 24, 4,822 people (18.4%) aged 25 to 44, 8,466 people (32.3%) aged 45 to 64, and 6,571 people (25.1%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 50.2 years. For every 100 females there were 90.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.5 males.

       

      1. Ron

        Matt:

        I think you missed some points in the article.
        http://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/new-home-construction-is-on-the-upswing-in-davis/

        For example:

        The Cannery:  “Going in next to the mixed-use site will be a 62-unit affordable apartment complex called Bartlett Commons, coordinated by CFY Development of Sacramento, which specializes in this type of project. Mogavero Architects will do the design. These apartments are expected to open in August 2017.”

        West Village (UC Davis):  “It looks like UC Davis is finally getting ready to move ahead with the long-planned faculty and staff housing in West Village, as well as on-campus residence halls and student apartments for more than 6,800 students.”

        “Until now, student quarters at West Village have been rented on a one-person-per-bedroom basis. But this fall, roughly 624 of the larger bedrooms in West Village are being made available on a “double up” basis for students who want to share the bedroom with a roommate.”

        (From the article, it appears that about 2,000 students have moved into student apartment complexes in West Village, since 2011.)

         

        1. Matt Williams

          Ron, because students don’t qualify under HUD’s Section 8 programs, my point was technically wrong, but with respect to the lion’s share of the pent up demand for apartments in Davis, which comes from UCD students, Bartlett Commons will provide zero units.  I’m very glad that those 62 affordable units are going to be made available; however, if the pattern that played out at New Harmony is repeated at Bartlett, half of the apartments will go to people who have no current ties to Davis.  As I understand it, that pattern is driven by the specific wait list provisions of the HUD Section 8 programs.

          When I read the West Village quotations you provided, I do not see a single additional apartment.  I believe the “long-planned faculty and staff housing in West Village” is 100% single family residential.  The 624 larger bedrooms that are having their bureaucratic constraints adjusted are already built and occupied.  All that will happen is that more students will squeeze into those existing units.

          Circling back to Bartlett Commons, it would be interesting to see where CFY Development is in their 14-step process (which is scheduled to take 4 full years at Creekside Court at 2990 5th Street). It is interesting to note that Bartlett Commons isn’t even listed as a project on the CFY Development website.

          As a template, here are Creekside Court’s 14 steps:

          The revised development timeline is as follows:
          October 2015 —— City awards project site to developer
          March 2016 – Submit $1.5 million application to Federal Home Loan Bank Affordable Housing Program (AHP)
          June 2016 »- Submit schematic architectural drawings to City of Davis for design review approval
          October 2016 – Receive final City of Davis approval of project design
          August 2016 – Receive award of AHP funding
          March 2017 — Submit $9,126,700 application to Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program (AHSC)
          August 2017 – Receive award of AHSC loan funds
          October 2017 — Submit application for tax-exempt bond authority to CA Debt Limit Allocation Committee (CDLAC)
          December 2017 – Receive award of tax-exempt bonds from CDLAC
          March 2018 – Submit application for low»-income housing tax credits to Tax Credit Allocation Committee (TCAC)
          June 2018 — Receive award of low-»-income housing tax credits from TCAC
          August 2018 —- Sign Letter of Intent with Limited Partner
          November 2018 — Close construction financing and start construction
          October 2019 -— Initial occupancy

        2. Ron

          Matt:

          I was kind of waiting for your response.

          And again, I guess you missed some statements regarding West Village (UC Davis), such as:

          ” . . . on-campus residence halls and student apartments for more than 6,800 students.”

          Also not sure why you’re criticizing the ability to house more students in existing apartments, either (for students who want to “double up”, to reduce costs, etc.).

          One thing I’ve noticed about you is that when I (and others) attempt to address a “problem” (that others have brought up), you tend to discount the suggested “solution” (without specifically coming up with your own).  You’ve laid out some principles, but nothing concrete.  (Much like David Greenwald does.) I’m losing interest in trying to “convince those” who do nothing but argue (in an apparent attempt to steer the conversation toward a “different solution”).

          For example, if you think that it’s better to build large-scale student apartment complexes in the city / existing neighborhoods, far from campus, perhaps you should just say so.  But, you might want to address the consequences of doing so, as well.

           

        3. Matt Williams

          Ron, I have typed out a long response to your comment twice and both times have lost the comment during the editing process.  I will respond later tonight or tomorrow morning.

          The basic gist of my response was:

          (A) that I believe you want to jump forward with a focus on solutions, while I don’t believe we have even defined the problem well enough to know whether any proposed solution will indeed solve our actual problem.  That belief on my part is informed by my formal critical thinking training . . . and

          (B) that what you see as “discounting” on my part, I see as putting the numbers into relevant context.  For example, 624 added beds is meaningful in its own right, but it has even more meaning when put in the context of:

          — the 5,300 added UCD enrollment over the past 4 years, and

          — the 1,000 added UCD staff and faculty in that same timeframe, and

          — the incremental 1,000-1,500 enrollment that is slated to arrive on campus in 90 days, and

          — the Bay Area Economics reports as part of the Housing Element of the ambient number of UCD students (5,794) and faculty and staff (5,627) who have to live outside of Davis, and

          — the (previously estimated by me) approximately 1,000 UCD students who have “doubled up” in existing Davis apartments, and

          — the approximately 1,000 UCD students who have been accommodated in new mini-dorm conversions of single family residences.

        4. Ron

          Matt:  “I believe you want to jump forward with a focus on solutions, while I don’t believe we have even defined the problem well enough to know whether any proposed solution will indeed solve our actual problem.”

          I also just lost my initial response, when I tried to post it.  (I think the Vanguard site may have gone down, temporarily.)

          In any case, I think you’re misunderstanding my point.  By continually focusing on a perceived problem, it’s easy to overlook other problems that some of the proposed “solutions” (which are already being proposed or suggested) would create.

          Regarding West Village, it’s not just the 624 beds that we discussed.  (I brought that up because it seemed that you were downplaying it.)  According to the article, it appears that the University is moving ahead with its plans to build housing for an additional 6,800 students (in addition to the 624 beds).  Not to mention the 2,000 students that have already moved into West Village since 2011, and additional housing for faculty and staff.

          The article also described other developments around Davis:  http://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/new-home-construction-is-on-the-upswing-in-davis/

           

        5. Matt Williams

          Ron said . . . “In any case, I think you’re misunderstanding my point.  By continually focusing on a perceived problem, it’s easy to overlook other problems that some of the proposed “solutions” (which are already being proposed or suggested) would create.”

          Very well said Ron.  As I was walking with the dogs and the walking group this morning in the Arboretum, one of the walkers engaged me in conversation about Vanguard dialogue in general, and specifically about this discussion you and I are having.  His comment was as follows, “The bulk of the discussions are about tactics, but the tactics appear to exist in isolation, as opposed to being tactics designed to support an agreed-upon, coherent strategy.” 

          His observation applies to what you have described as the “already being proposed or suggested” solutions (tactics).

          I believe that coherent strategy needs to support an agreed-upon Vision for Davis.  As my campaign evolved and learned by listening to the citizens, the following Vision was/is closest to what I was hearing.

           
          My Vision for Davis is to maintain and continue a high quality of life in an economically and socially sustainable way — preserving Davis as a community that nurtures our lives and the lives of our families — building a sustainable, resilient Davis 2030 – 2040 – 2050.

          So now our challenge is to either adjust that Vision statement based on additional input, or come up with a coherent strategy for achieving that Vision . . . and then develop specific tactics and goals that will help us successfully achieve the strategy.

          If we don’t do that, we will continue to have polarized discussions where one side is saying we have a 10,000 bed deficit of apartments in Davis and the other side saying we don’t have any deficit at all because we hope UCD will provide those student apartment beds.
          ————

          So with that said, what is your Vision for Davis?
           

  12. Tia Will

    I would like to step back for a moment to reframe the issue. David asked the question “Is Davis sustainable ?”

    The conversation almost immediately veered away from “sustainability” to “growth” . Now I completely understand the issue of mandatory growth since we cannot control what I see as the over reach of the university in its attempt to add ever more students ( many of whom are not California students). This pressure from the university does mean that we have a need for much more student housing.But what it does not mean is that we have a huge need for more population growth in other demographic groups. As has been pointed out, we are importing students to fill our schools, the Cannery is advertising in other communities to get buyers ( so obviously this is not local need being met). We have an aging population many of whom would like to downsize and/or centralize as I have done. We have some graduates of the university who would like to stay. If we were providing adequate undergrad housing, there would be more availability of single family homes for them. 

    Sustainability and growth are simply not the same although there are some, largely  in the development community and their supporters, who portray lack of growth as equivalent to decay. Sustainability does not imply growth. It could equally well apply to a community in equilibrium. When we fail to make this distinction, we have fallen into the “more is better” trap which has led to some wonderful advancements in human lifestyle, but has also led to our current culture of conspicuous consumption and excess which drives our economy. I believe that Davis is sustainable. And I believe that we cannot simply grow our way to sustainability.

      1. DavidSmith

        nameless

        Yes you can. The issue is that different people have different ideas on what sustainability means and very different ideas on what Davis should be. For those who believe Davis should be an exclusive place for the rich and the elderly, they may be willing pay far more tax to break even the city budget.

    1. Mark West

      “It could equally well apply to a community in equilibrium.”

      There is no such beast. Communities are constantly changing to address the changes in the environment around them. As long as the population of the region continues to expand, then so too must the population of the cities. Davis needs to grow in order to accommodate our share of the region’s population growth.  It is a false premise to believe that an ‘equilibrium’ state can ever be achieved in an environment of constant change.

      The artificial means in use now to severely limit growth in town will prevent Davis from ever being environmentally or economically sustainable. What they do allow, however, is for Davis to continue as an enclave for the selfish, with no regards for the people and the region around them.

      1. DavidSmith

        The artificial means in use now to severely limit growth in town will prevent Davis from ever being environmentally or economically sustainable.

        This is an interesting claim. I echo the economic part. Could you elaborate on the environmental part?

        1. South of Davis

          I don’t want to speak for Mark, but when rich people have the people who clean their homes, mow their lawns and take care of their pools driving back and forth between Davis and Dixon, Woodland and West Sac every day in crappy older cars and trucks it is not great for the environment.

        2. Mark West

          “Could you elaborate on the environmental part?”

          One of the primary justifications for not building new housing in Davis is the idea that to do so means developing farmland.  The fact is, however, that the same condition exists with all of the surrounding cities, as they are also surrounded by farmland. Consequently, when we fail to build new housing and force the population on to other cities, we are not saving farmland, we are only saving ‘our’ farmland. This is nothing more than taking our problems and pushing it on to someone else, which in my view is a selfish approach to life. As SOD points out, those people who work or go to school in Davis, but who cannot live here due to a lack of suitable housing, are forced to commute. Thus our policies increase traffic and pollution and thus our impact on the environment, without saving a single acre of farmland. We haven’t prevented ‘sprawl,’ we exacerbated it and pushed it into other communities.

          Alternatively, we could take responsibility for our own housing and choose to implement greater land use efficiency in the process, housing more people per acre than is typical for the region. Doing so would decrease our impact on the environment, and improve our economic vitality, making the City more sustainable (which of course makes far too much sense).

           

        3. Ron

          Mark:  “We haven’t prevented ‘sprawl,’ we exacerbated it and pushed it into other communities.”

          I think that Davis is at the forefront, regarding the effort to reign in sprawl.  However, the effort is not exclusive to Davis.

          I suspect that in the future, there will be an even greater emphasis on reigning in sprawl, in all communities.  (At least, I hope so.)  Failure to do so is ultimately not sustainable, anywhere.  (It’s happening to some degree, now.  50 years ago, it was pretty much “anything goes”.)

          Probably my final comment, for awhile.

           

  13. The Pugilist

    Ron:

    “No – David never does tell you exactly what he’s proposing.  He just continually focuses on a “crisis”, and implies that more development is needed (somewhere).”

    It’s a smart move, because you can attack any specific proposal, but if you establish an underlying need, then that directs the conversation towards solutions rather than getting bogged down in the specific merits and drawbacks, it is more important to understand needs and then figure out how to fill those needs.  At least that’s my thinking.

    1. Ron

      The Pugilist:  “It’s a smart move, because you can attack any specific proposal, but if you establish an underlying need, then that directs the conversation towards solutions rather than getting bogged down in the specific merits and drawbacks . . . “

      It’s not a “smart move”, at all.  There are consequences to singularly focusing on a concern (e.g., the vacancy rate), without addressing the impacts of “fixing” that concern.  You might find that the consequences are worse than the initial concern.  (But, there’s little discussion or acknowledgement from you, regarding that.)

      First, “do no harm”. (Unfortunately, this suggestion is sometimes not acknowledged, in a rush to “address the concern”.)

      ,

       

      1. Davis Progressive

        And this article and subsequent conversation re-focuses the discussion on something more basic – is the current city trajectory sustainable?  Do you believe the answer is yes?  Because I sure don’t.  What it doesn’t do is presuppose what the solution is to that issue.  To me the lesson of Measure A is that the community has differing visions for the future.  The question is whether we can at least all recognize the problem.

        1. Ron

          DP:  ” . . is the current city trajectory sustainable?”

          It depends on which “problem” we’re referring to.

          For example, regarding the school parcel structure (discussed above), I think that there are some concerns regarding its long-term viability.  It’s not reasonable to charge single-family homes the same amount as large apartment complexes (regardless of the number of units).  It’s also not reasonable to allow enrollment from other areas, without somehow addressing the fact that out-of-area enrollments are essentially charged less than resident enrollments.

          1. Don Shor

            There is no solution to your first “not reasonable” problem, and any solution to the second (you can’t charge inter district families the parcel tax) would end up closing schools.
            The solutions to your problems are probably worse than the problems.

        2. Matt Williams

          Ron, it may not be reasonable to charge single-family homes the same amount as large apartment complexes, but since that is the law, reasonableness takes a back seat to legality until such time as the law is changed by either the legislature or the courts.

        3. Ron

          Don:  “There is no solution to your first “not reasonable” problem, and any solution to the second (you can’t charge inter district families the parcel tax) would end up closing schools.”

          I don’t have a strong opinion, regarding this.  However, I sincerely doubt that there’s “no solution”.  In any case, it’s perhaps not in the (Davis) school district’s interest, to state that there’s no solution (assuming that they would like to see the parcel tax renewed to protect its own interests, as well as students).  I’d suggest that it’s primarily up to the school districts involved (e.g., Davis, Woodland), as well as the city of Davis (amount allocated/charged to apartment complexes) to solve these problems (before the Davis district “throws up it’s hands”, and says “just renew the parcel tax”). (And, before any new apartment complexes are approved in Davis.)

           

  14. Ron

    hpierce:  “the City of Davis is not “in play” as to assessments for DJUSD things…”

    My apologies – I’m just now becoming familiar with this issue.

    Can you describe (in a nutshell) how the initial “per-unit” assessment was changed to a “per-structure” assessment?

    On a related note, it’s always kind of bothered me that the cost of education is not paid more directly, by parents (instead of by parcel, as is currently the case). However, I know that there are different arguments/points of view, regarding this. (So, I won’t go too far down that path.)

    1. hpierce

      Ron… in almost all cases there are two kinds of assessments/taxes… ad valorem (based on value of the property) and parcel taxes (not structures nor ‘units’)… the first was pretty much constrained by Prop 13 in 1977 [some good concepts, some terrible results, particularly related to non-SF property, but that was the intent of Mr Jarvis and Mr Gann]

      So… since ad valorem is basically the proverbial dead horse, that leaves sales tax or parcel taxes.  Not that those are necessarily good ideas, but they are the laws.

      I agree with many, that basic education is a community responsibility/benefit… I, my spouse, and my children benefited from that… we support that… now that our children are grown, we continue to support the basic education… but I reserve the right to question what is “basic”…

      The concept of of charging a SF parcel the same as a 250 unit apartment complex is abhorrent to me … but, it is what it is, the law.

      Who paid for your education, Ron?  Just your parents?  No subsidizes from the public?  Do you understand the word “nuance”?

      1. Ron

        hpierce:  “Who paid for your education, Ron?  Just your parents?  No subsidizes from the public?  Do you understand the word “nuance”?

        Thanks for the explanation in your response above, but I don’t understand why you (so often) include an insult.  (Not just toward me.)  I haven’t made any such statements toward you.

        Do you understand the words “respect” and “civility”?

        I see that you didn’t really respond to my question, regarding how the parcel tax got “changed”, to charge apartment complexes the same amount as single-family dwellings (regardless of the number of units).  I’m gathering that at one time, apartment complexes were charged $20/unit.

        Regarding my education, yes – it was publically-subsidized.  (I’m not sure of the “value” of that education, but that’s another story.  Frankly, school districts in large cities sometimes cannot even maintain order or safety, let alone provide education.)  In any case, I think that the subsidy of public education (via a parcel tax) is a “symptom” of a larger problem, in that those without children subsidize those who do (to a much greater degree, than just the parcel tax).  If there was a “shortage” of children in society, I might view this differently.  (I also view it differently when someone adopts a child.)  But, that’s just my opinion, and doesn’t have much to do with Davis policies.  (I suspect that school districts will continue to seek subsidies from parcel owners.)  (And yes – I realize that social security and other such benefits apparently depends on an endless supply of new workers, which is another problem, in my view. This reminds me of the problem with “unfunded liabilities”, as well.)

        However, given the current system (and lack of other options), I’d probably continue to support a school district parcel tax, at this point. Not sure if that response satisfies your definition of “nuance”.

         

        1. hpierce

          I sincerely apologize Ron… still suffering from a nasty head cold, but that is truly no excuse… please forgive… my stupid/bad

          At one point, as I understand it, but cannot be definitive, DJUSD  figured that they’d discount MF units (why, is beyond my ken)… then a Bay Area court said that a local (to them) district could not do something like that, for a “parcel tax”, so, here we are (DJUSD not wanting to ‘roll the dice’ locally)… there are other cites on the VG…

          The reality is, a parcel tax has to be by parcel… not DU’s, not per capita, not ad valorem… it is what it is… at least by the laws and the courts, thus far…

           

           

        2. Ron

          Thanks, hpierce.

          As I’ve said previously, I do look forward to your responses, overall.  (And, that helps me understand the issue a little better, as well.)

          I apologize to Mark, as well.  (I shouldn’t have said that.  It seems that he’s been more polite and respectful, lately.  He did not say anything today that warranted that statement, from me.)

        3. Mark West

          Thank you, Ron. I tried to delete my 7:13 response below, but the website would not respond, though it said I still had time for editing. I apologize for the ‘snarkiness.’

           

        4. wdf1

          Ron:  I see that you didn’t really respond to my question, regarding how the parcel tax got “changed”, to charge apartment complexes the same amount as single-family dwellings (regardless of the number of units).  I’m gathering that at one time, apartment complexes were charged $20/unit.

          Davis Enterprise, 16 August 2013: Davis trustees modify school parcel tax

          Acknowledging court decisions earlier this year striking down portions of a school parcel tax in Alameda County, the Davis Board of Education voted Thursday to take out portions of the district’s recently approved parcel tax, Measure E, that would have charged local single-family homes and multi-unit dwellings at different tax rates.

          Click on link to read more.

        5. Ron

          Thanks, wdf1.  That article, plus hpierce’s explanation, “filled in the blanks” for me. (And – thanks to Don Shor, for providing the link to the earlier article, and the other background information.)

           

  15. Mark West

    Ron: “I see that you didn’t really respond to my question, regarding how the parcel tax got “changed”, to charge apartment complexes the same amount as single-family dwellings (regardless of the number of units).”

    I’m not sure why you think it is hpierce’s responsibility to answer your question. You could easily have found the answer yourself by searching here on the Vanguard, or you might have simply paid attention when Don answered the question for you above (and provided you a link to the source).

    The great value of an education is not to be ‘spoon-fed’ answers, but learning how to discover answers on your own, and developing the interest and capacity to continue searching for them throughout one’s life.

    1. Ron

      Well, if it isn’t Mark – the “other guy” with impeccable online manners (especially toward those who have “slow growth” views).  Haven’t heard from you, in awhile.

      I did look at the info/link, but the answer wasn’t obvious to me.  Agreed – it’s no one’s “duty” to respond to a question.

      Thanks for the “life advice”.  I didn’t realize that one of the purposes of the Vanguard was to discourage interaction that might help one learn something. (For me, the school parcel tax issue is more of a casual learning experience, and not something that I necessarily want to dive into.)

       

       

       

      1. Mark West

        Ron: “I didn’t realize that one of the purposes of the Vanguard was to discourage interaction that might help one learn something.”

        What interaction have I discouraged, Ron? I didn’t tell you to stop typing, did I?

        ‘Interactions’ are two-way, so if you fail to pay attention when someone provides you with information, you really aren’t interacting. I have seen many people answer your questions, and provide you with information that contradicts your opinions, yet none of that seems to be reflected in your continuing commentary. Seems to me that the one choosing not to interact is you.

        1. Ron

          Mark:

          Please see the additional interaction between me (and hpierce), above.  And, as I stated in that interaction, I apologize for my statement to you today, regarding your online manners.  (It seems that you have been more polite and respectful, since you’ve recently started commenting on the Vanguard, again.)

          I would, however, disagree with your statement regarding the correlation between my commentary and “information that contradicts my opinions”.  (I could probably just as easily argue that this applies for you.)  In any case, I think you’d agree that we are on (almost) completely opposite sides, regarding development issues.  (And, that we will probably look at information differently, and that the information we examine will also differ.)  We would almost certainly come to different conclusions. However, I agree that it can be useful to hear opposing views.  (I’d suggest that those views come with a specific solution, which doesn’t disregard the consequences of the suggested solution.)

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