Measure A Exposes Bay Area Housing Crisis Here in Davis


5751feaf65d05by Megan Mueller

Imagine paying 4.29% interest in monthly housing costs without accumulating any value for the property. Many students attending UC Davis are doing just that, using their student loans to pay the ever-increasing rental prices both on-campus and off. Add student loan interest to the average cost of a market rate two-bedroom apartment, and students are paying an additional $230-$465 annually depending on the number of housemates they live with.

None of this is new. Since UC Davis opened their doors to students in 1905 the City of Davis has fought to maintain its small town appeal by limiting the expansion of housing. What is new however, is the citywide discussion around the Nishi Project (Measure A), which seeks to amend its land-use designation from Agricultural to a modified University-Related Research Park with for-sale condos, student-oriented rental units, and research space. This measure, appearing on the June 7th ballot, has amplified an ongoing conversation about the lack of housing in the City of Davis and has provoked many to ask who is responsible for building housing for our growing student population?

Given the City Council’s smart growth land-use planning philosophy and the University’s ever increasing student body, Davis has always had limited housing vacancy. But the cause for concern has elevated. Davis is experiencing the same housing crisis that is taking place in the Bay Area and across the state. There is insufficient affordable housing available for renters. With less than 1% of rental units available and an estimated student body increase of 9,000 students in the coming years, housing needs to be addressed now.

Measure A has been criticized by many for creating costly student-oriented housing. The proposed 410 units intended for student housing have been compared to West Village, unaffordable and inaccessible to students attending a land grant university. While environmentally friendly and close to campus, market-rate units remain unaffordable for students. Despite its shortcomings, Measure A is one of several efforts the city is supporting to address the lack of available housing. In addition, the city is building more housing through infill and new apartment construction projects, but is limited by available land sources and local disdain for building new housing.

UC Davis on the other hand has many MANY acres of available land to develop at their own discretion. To be sure, the university does have a long-range development plan which outlines future housing construction, but the university has a poor track record for meeting its housing development obligations. For instance, in 2014 Orchard Park was closed for redevelopment and scheduled to reopen in 2016. The University has yet to begin construction. Orchard Park, a habitable property, has remained vacant for two academic years. UC Davis has failed time and time again to provide sufficient student housing.

In a balanced household budget, no more than 30% of one’s monthly income should go towards rent. With low supply and high demand, UC Davis students are paying much more than that. Join me in urging UC Davis Acting Chancellor Hexter ( @ucdavis), UC President Napolitano ( and the UC Regents ( to invest in student housing at UC Davis. These leaders work on behalf of the students and need to hear from you. Email and tweet them demanding more affordable student housing and please include what percentage of your monthly income pays for rent.


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14 thoughts on “Measure A Exposes Bay Area Housing Crisis Here in Davis”

  1. Marina Kalugin

    PS>  Have you been on campus lately?    have you SEEN all the new dorms and have you checked out West Village?    truly……the Napo had nothing to do with that…

    THAT was Chancellor Katehi’s work……go and look for yourself…

    then walk around and do a survey of who is living in all of the new “low income” apartments?  and where they came from, how they heard about the developments and so forth…

    We are importing the low income for decades now…and now we are importing the top percenters also…

    It is easier to take the train to oakland and faster and cheaper…than to drive from the foothills to Davis or anywhere within the 30 mile radius of town –

    80 and 50 are parking lots…..we need more and better train service….

  2. Marina Kalugin

    and we need the roads expanded through Davis…we need the Nishi land to expand the 80 bottleneck.

    we need more undercrossings and overcrossings.

    I would rather vote for a parcel tax for those benefits…and use Nishi for proper uses..

    For the first time since I arrived in 1970, I will be an adamant opponent of the school parcel tax.

    Until and unless the board and super start listening to stake holders again, they are ALL going to be thrown out and recalled…and only then will I even consider any more money for the schools.

    If they don’t get rid of the garbage “meals” funded by Monsanto in the lunch rooms, and don’t make REAL food available to all students free of charge, I will not be funding anything that ruins the health of our children,….including my adult children and hopefully grandkids someday…


    1. Tia Will


      Until and unless the board and super start listening to stake holders again, they are ALL going to be thrown out and recalled…and only then will I even consider any more money for the schools.”

      I realize that you have very strong feelings about the current composition of the school board. But perhaps what you are overlooking is that the majority of Davis voters did not share your opinion and voted this particular panel to their positions.  Based on this simple fact, I would revise your first quoted sentence as follows:

      ” until and unless the board and super start listening to me and those who agree with me, they are all going to be thrown out and recalled ….” While it is certainly true that you may not vote for a parcel tax until you get your way, I would hope that the majority would take a more holistic view and act in the interests of all the students of the district, not just those about whose education you happen to care the most based on your personal experience.

  3. nameless

    Measure A has been criticized by many for creating costly student-oriented housing.

    The rent for a 2 bedroom apartment at Nishi will be between $1,500 and $1,800.  The rent for 4 students sharing would be between $375 and $450 a month, which is quite reasonable.  If the 2 bedroom apartments rent for $2,400 as the “no” side contends (without any basis in fact), 4 students would pay $600 per month, which is not particularly unreasonable either.  It sure beats a shed or garage, which is where some students in town are renting, which is substandard living if it does not have certain basics such as heat, air conditioning, running hot and cold water, free of insects/vermin, electricity.

    To be sure, the university does have a long-range development plan which outlines future housing construction, but the university has a poor track record for meeting its housing development obligations.

    Hence the need to vote “yes” on Measure A (Nishi), so at least some student housing will be built, to try and rectify the situation where students are desperate enough for rental housing that they are living in sheds.

    1. Eileen Samitz

      If the 2 bedroom apartments rent for $2,400 as the “no” side contends (without any basis in fact)…

      Here is the factual information. The $2,400 is based upon the City’s hired financial consultants for the Nishi Gateway fiscal analysis report (Goodwin Consulting Group) which stated that the residential rental income in the Nishi project was to be $2.20 per square foot. With the average 2 bedroom apartment being 1,100 sq. ft., if you do the math, that would be $2,400.

      1. ryankelly

        Eileen, this is another manipulation of statistics by the no on A campaign.  Alan Pryor already admitted that the definition of average used was “medium.” This means half the units are larger, half are smaller.  So the student rentals could be smaller, and less expensive.  It has been stated numerous times that the student rentals will be in the range of $1500-$1800, which is along the lines of what Harrington is charging right now for units with shared bathrooms and no living rooms.

  4. Marina Kalugin

    yes, now some people are waking up ….perhaps or I think or something…

    the NEW apartments are going for higher prices at West Village….and they include solar, so the utilities are lower….is NISHI going to be all solar?  will it have ELEVATORS?

    those who have seen the plans, please speak up as who has time for this Nishi nonsense…not me…

  5. Marina Kalugin

    PS>   did you know that on campus one HAS to have elevators and other such ADA expenses?   and at West Village, since it is “developer” built and run, they do not….

    Did you ever help your son/daughter lug their big screen up some flights of stairs?     thank goodness the NEW big screens are so much lighter…

    what corners are the NIshi guys going to cut this time, I mean if they manage to convince the mediocre masses that it is a good idea?

    I had a small suitcase and a clockradio when I checked into the dorm at Hughes….remember Becket/Hughes…it is now developer built “private apartments”….Primero Grove……when my son moved there for a time, we lugged HIS necessities up 3 flights….heck I am too old for THAT…did anyone care?

    fortunately, this son does not watch TV….phew….


  6. Frankly

    We done.

    However, one difference between S.F. and Davis related to housing.  S.F. has no land to build on.  Davis is surrounded by it.

    People come visit me at my place of work from out of the area and cannot understand why Davis is so housing constrained.   I generally just point to my good neighbor to the north.

  7. Eileen Samitz


    I share your concerns about the lack of on-campus housing and our citizens group started mobilizing eight months ago specifically addressing these issues. Our groups name is Citizens for Responsible Planning and we sent a multitude of letters to UC President Napolitano, UCD including the Chancellor and Bob Segar (UCD campus planning), our state legislators, our City Council and our City staff planners.

    The good news is that thanks to our efforts for over eight months on this issue, which included our group focusing on getting our input to the UCD LRDP update for more on-campus housing, we finally received positive feedback from UCD recently. UCD has now publicly stated that they will be building more on-campus housing in their newly released UCD LRDP draft. However, we need to continue our efforts to make this housing happens and in a timely manner.

    As you mention in your article, UCD has over 5,000 acres and therefore has PLENTY of land to provide affordable on-campus housing on, However, UCD has neglected to follow through with their promises to the City for many years. However, the UCD students, our community and the State legislators are clearly FED UP with UC and UCD due to the significant mismanagement issues. So now is the time for the UCD students, our Davis community and our State legislators to join forces to work together to get this situation resolved.

    Where we differ in opinion is regarding the Nishi project that would only bring more unfavorable housing and simply expand the Tandem Properties 1,900+ apartment complex empire in Davis since John Whitcombe is a primary partner in Tandem Properties and in the Nishi project.  There is an enormous amount of dissatisfaction on-line from the UCD students in their reviews regarding apartment complexes with Tandem Properties and how they treat their tenants. For more information on why to vote No on Nishi please look on line for No on Nishi web information which give you plenty of details to dispel the “Yes on Measure A” false claims.

    Please understand how this project has serious health impacts issues as well as clarified by Dr. Cahill Ph.D. who is a world wide respected UCD professor of atmospheric sciences, who has make clear in his numerous articles and public testimony regrading Nishi, that there would be NO housing at the Nishi site due to the air quality health impacts due to being located between the railroad tracks and I-80. I invite you to see his credentials at Dr. Cahill is famous for his work on the 9-11 event health impacts on the first responders and also  the DELTA group of scientists in 1977 to help study the impacts of air quality and particulate matter exposures on our health.

    I welcome and invite you, and any other UCD students, to please contact us so we can meet and discuss more about this common concern by emailing us at

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