Monday Morning Thoughts: The Devil Is Always in the Details



Last week, in the discussion of the EIR on Sterling, there were what I thought some interesting points raised by two students on the issue of student housing at the proposed Sterling Apartments project.

Some fair criticism was raised by a reader that I think bears highlighting and clarifying.

First, I have raised this issue consistently over the past six months or so.  Right now we have a crisis in Davis – actually two – but here I will focus on the student housing crisis.  We have a 0.2 percent vacancy rate.  We have a university that is going to grow at a rate of around 1000 additional students each year for perhaps the next decade.

UC Davis this spring has added plans to build housing to cover about 90 percent of that – there is no guarantee that will come and, even if it does come, those numbers will not address the current housing crisis nor will they cover all of the new students.

There are a lot of issues that bleed off of that.  Some of the issues involve the living conditions, student-landlord disputes, and the ability for students to deal with such problems as they arise.  That is the genesis of the Rental Housing Ordinance which will come back shortly.

There is the issue that students are having to find residences outside of Davis and commute into town.

And there is the issue of the lack of affordable student housing.

To me, this is the backdrop for issues raised by first Nishi during the Measure A election, and now Sterling.

However, there were downsides to Nishi that made that a hotly-contested election.  While the project provided 1500 or so beds, that number was nowhere near what was needed to address the housing crisis – though it may have helped.  On the other side were questions about the big “A” affordable housing deal and the lack of small “a” affordable housing, along with traffic impacts and air quality concerns.

In short, Nishi might have addressed some of the housing needs, but whether the project was overall in the best interests of the community remained an open question that ultimately the voters would decide – and we might find out as soon as the end of the day on Tuesday whether they voted yes or no.

The same problems loom for Sterling Apartments, without the vote of the people.

There are concerns about traffic impacts from additional residents, criticism that the project will be itself a dorm, renting by the room rather than the apartment, and a question about the number of parking spaces adding traffic to a congested corridor, among other issues.

Most of these, I think, are legitimate concerns.  Is the housing too dense for the location, and what happens if we can reduce the number of spaces on the site and therefore concerns about traffic impacts?

In short, I think we need to separate two critical points in our thinking.  The first is that there is no question we have an overall crisis in student housing in this community.

As Hayley Benham-Archdeacon, a student who spoke the other night, put it, “I think we need to realize that the city of Davis needs to relieve some of the pressure on the housing market, both for students that can afford market rate housing and low income students like me who would not be able to complete their degree without affordably priced housing.”

“The city can do its part in handling our growing student population.  I know there will be some Davis residents who will always oppose new growth … but with the university admitting 1000 more students every year, the city has to put them somewhere,” she said.  “That’s the reality of it.  It’s become a crisis.  We need more housing and the Sterling Development is a realistic solution.”

That is the crisis in a nutshell.

That does not mean that either Nishi or Sterling are an appropriate solution to the crisis.  The devil there is in the details.  I think there are legitimate detail questions to be raised in Sterling or Nishi – whether it passes on Tuesday or comes back at a later point.

But, that said, I do think we need to be serious about the alternative.  If we want to argue Sterling cannot be the solution, I have no problem with that in theory.  But the answer can’t be that UC Davis is going to fix the problem.

First of all, as I demonstrated numerically, UC Davis may have agreed to take on 90 percent of the new student growth, but that alone will not solve the problem.  We have a problem now.  We are taking on between 6000 and 7000 new students, and UC Davis is only planning to house about 90 percent of those.  Moreover, that doesn’t account for the 2000 to 3000 in additional faculty and staff.

Further, we need to look at UC Davis’ history here as well.  They agreed to take on a higher percentage of student housing in an MOU three  decades ago – as Eileen Samitz has demonstrated.  She wrote back in October 2015, “In 1989 UC Davis agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that committed to providing 25% of its existing student population and 35% of incoming students and to rely on the University to provide on-campus housing. This commitment did not happen for many years.”

She continues, “Then in 2002, the University (system wide) produced a report ‘UC Housing for the 21st Century’ that specified the need for more student housing on all of the UC campuses and that the system wide goal was 42% for all of the campuses. Specifically, the direction and timeline for UC Davis was to provide at least 38% by 2012. This plan for UCD student housing never materialized.”

So what is different now in 2016?  Talk is cheap.

UC Davis clearly has the acreage to accommodate more housing.  But even their plans for housing have fallen through or been delayed.  They made plans to build West Village and they have been slow to complete those plans.  They made plans to densify at Orchard and Solano Parks – and those plans have not proceeded.

Why is this important?  The students are coming.  They are coming at a rate of as many as 1000 additional students each year, and yet the housing is not proceeding at that pace – even if they follow through on an unapproved conceptual plan to expand by 90 percent.

Bottom line here for me is that UC Davis agreeing to take 90 percent of new students is not a solution – yet.  It may well happen, but history should teach us to be skeptical.

My solution would be to build about four apartment complexes that can house 1500 students.  Location and size and scope as well as other details are subject for discussion.  Nishi and Sterling might be part of that solution, or perhaps not.

For me at least, we need to acknowledge the crisis, that we have a problem, and then discuss ways to solve that problem.  Sterling and Nishi just happen to be potential solutions that are on the table.

—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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58 thoughts on “Monday Morning Thoughts: The Devil Is Always in the Details”

  1. Justice4All

    Hayley really did a good job of articulating the issues at hand for working poor people and students. This crisis can be ameliorated with some negotiation between interested parties and a little common sense.

  2. dlemongello

    “what happens if we can reduce the number of spaces on the site and therefore concerns about traffic impacts?”

    Providing fewer parking spaces may reduce the number of cars slightly, but in actuality I believe it will mainly drive those without a space to park off site in a nearby neighborhood.

    Also, housing 90% of new students for 1 year, that is all that is as I understand it, simply dumps them into the rental market one year later. As you noted, there are also the additional staff and faculty associated with that growth.

    Affordability is a big issue, but we do have new housing coming on board at the Cannery, Grande, East Eigth St., 5th and Pena, and others.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      I explored that option (push parking to neighborhoods) – and found it non-viable. There really is no where else people can park close by. I also talked to the developer a few months ago and they have a mechanism to incentivize people who do not have cars.

      1. Barack Palin

         I also talked to the developer a few months ago and they have a mechanism to incentivize people who do not have cars.

        LOL, incentivize or not fine?  Are you talking about the plan to decrease their rates if they don’t own a car which we all know is actually just fining the ones who do?

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          That’s one idea would be a reduced rate for those without cars. That’s not a fine for those who have cars. Another idea is paid parking. They also may get access to ZipCars or another car sharing program.

        2. Barack Palin

           That’s not a fine for those who have cars. Another idea is paid parking.

          Oh please, just word games.  Do you really believe students are that naive?

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Does it matter if they give a price break for not having a car (off the listed price) versus tacking on an additional charge for a parking spot? Either way it’s an incentive not to have a car if they choose to reduce the number of parking spots, which hasn’t been determined yet.

        3. Fred

          As Davis starts having large apartment complexes where most residents don’t have cars, I hope one of the local grocery stores or Target sees the opportunity to bring in new customers by offering weekend shuttle van service. It would be good for the store, and make life easier for those without cars.

    2. Matt Williams

      Donna one of the things about the Sterling location is that there really aren’t any nearby neighborhood parking spaces to cannibalize.  I believesterling could reduce its current 545 spaces down to 75 or less. The 75 would be split between 25 spaces for zip cars and 50 spaces for visitors only.   The students would use the UNITRANS A Line bus going down Fifth Street to get to campus.



  3. 2cowherd

    Every time i ride my bike by the fenced off and abandoned Orchard Park, I wonder why the University doesn’t build the equivelent of  the Sterling proposal right there on campus. It would certainly solve some of the student housing problem without all the traffic problem Sterling will create.

    1. SODA

      Agree 2cowherd and Solano too. Would it be feasible for UCD to partner with a local developer to develop these parcels? Or rehab them. What is UCD’s response when they are asked the question why are they vacant? And what about Pacifico; what is the status there?

      1. dlemongello

        The University does exactly that (I don’t know about local), but the 3rd party plans for Orchard fell through at the last minute due to complaints about what rental rates would be and Katehi pulled the plug. Some say the rates were too high, some say the students are not realistic for today’s costs of building (which are less expensive for a 3rd party to be involved, but then there is a profit involved as well).

      2. Fred

        One of the problems is UCD seems to want to get out of the housing management business, so for apartments they want to move away from the affordable University managed model live Solano and Orchard park had been to having a private for profit company manage the apartments like the colleges and Russel park (in many cases this has been tandem managed). Unfortunately the need to extract a profit from the process raises rents.

    2. dlemongello

      Yep, that’s a real fiasco at this point.  What a waste. While they wait for whatever, they could house students there.  And then whenever whatever comes along, they could move everyone out and start building. Gears move slowly, layers run deep I expect.

      1. Barack Palin

        And then whenever whatever comes along, they could move everyone out 

        Easier said than done.  When it came time to move the students out you can bet there would be a big uproar with demonstations, sit-ins, etc………..

    3. Marina Kalugin

      students don’t want it yet….they don’t want their garden plowed under…and guess what, shocker of all shockers, it is not needed yet…..

      and, if you would ride your bike along to West Village, you will see they did and do 🙂   way better than Nishi also…..head on over and see the village that is there..

      the only thing lacking is the affordable housing for faculty and staff.

      oh wait, weren’t we supposed to get that with the Cannery?   and where is that affordable housing…

      perhaps there will be a tiny bit in the other infill project currently being built….  you know the 96 units being stuff on E 8th…

      oh wait…are those affordable to anyone but new faculty?

      and, are new faculty growing by even that many units per year?   not likely…  even with the mad push to 2020

      why would the UCD spend money on unneeded efforts right now?

      UCD is not interesting in busing in people from Oakland nor Oak Park, either for the overpriced “luxury” market rate houses…nor the overpriced “affordable” units..


  4. Misanthrop

    I don’t think infill is going to do it.  You simply can’t build enough housing fast enough. U.C. Davis building on its land is essentially peripheral development if viewed from the city. Also West Village and much of UC Davis land is class I soil. So much for preserving our precious farmland. Either Davis opens up its periphery or we get even worse unintended consequences.

    If the the company that is proposing building Sterling or another one like it sees demand for a second project they might buy Rancho Yolo next and build a thousand units there. If we can tear down a perfectly good facility like the Family First site because Measure R has driven up land values that aren’t subject to an annexation vote what will be next?

    Or think of Trackside as the nose of the camel in the tent and imagine parcel after parcel bought up and redeveloped from single family homes to multifamily multi-story apartment buildings. I saw it happen where I grew up in the area around UCLA. My fear is that in an attempt to keep Davis from turning into Anaheim we are going to turn it into Westwood.

    Then of course there is leapfrog development. If someone built student or faculty housing in Dixon and cut a deal with Unitrans we are only talking four miles. Woodland has been absorbing the housing Davis refuses to allow for years clogging road 102. Why not Dixon? What’s a little more commuter traffic on I-80 among friends?

    Then there is the third campus to be built over in Sacramento, a project whose overriding value is to address the fact that Davis doesn’t want to do its part to help address the impacts of a growing world class University.

    UCD is going to grow. If Davis refuses to grow with it, as it has for the last 16 years since the passage of Measures J/R, the region is going to absorb the growth one way or another. While we demand things like platinum level environmental features that drive the cost of construction up we will also drive people out to other communities that will increase the miles traveled and increase GHG production. I have a new motto for the city: Davis the land of unintended consequences. We can put it on the gateway sign coming up out of the tunnel or next to the futuristic yellow caution sign at the corner of Richards and First that will read: Entering Davis pavements ends here.

    1. Fred

      “If Davis refuses to grow with it, as it has for the last 16 years since the passage of Measures J/R” this statement over looks considerable growth in Davis over the last 16 years. Right now we have the Cannery, Chiles Ranch, Grande, new apartments going up in South Davis, the Fouts condos by El Macero, several new mixed use buildings in the down town, and several other projects. On the horizon we have Sterling and Lincoln 40. Davis has been growing, really what your saying is its not growing as fast as you think it should, and you don’t think voters should get to be a check on when new ag land is incorporated into the city.

      1. The Pugilist

        Considerable growth?  Davis has basically flat-lined since 2000.  Most of what you have cited has not be built.  Compare that to the period of time where Davis has grown by 2 or 3 percent a year.

        1. Misanthrop

          I once knew the number of new single family homes  built in Davis in the ten years after Wildhorse got finished. It was around 100. Seriously that was near the total number. How can you say that we are adequately addressing that now with the few 1000 or so new units in the pipeline now? We are so far behind the eight ball its like a solar eclipse  with the sun as demand and the moon as supply.

  5. Ron

    I found another definition of the word “crisis” (from Wikipedia):

    A crisis is any event that is, or is expected to lead to, an unstable and dangerous situation affecting an individual, group, community, or whole society. Crises are deemed to be negative changes in the security, economic, political, societal, or environmental affairs, especially when they occur abruptly, with little or no warning. More loosely, it is a term meaning “a testing time” or an “emergency event”.

    Without commenting further regarding whether or not student housing is a “crisis” situation, I realize that it is a concern.

    David:  “But the answer can’t be that UC Davis is going to fix the problem.”

    I disagree with David, regarding the University’s ability to (mostly) address the concern (that they’ve created).  They’ve recently agreed to house 90% of new students, and there’s an opportunity and effort by some to encourage the University to do even more.  (It’s already been demonstrated that encouragement/pressure can work.)

    In the meantime, I would advocate for some patience, rather than immediately destroying the integrity of our planning and zoning processes (not to mention a relatively new, community-oriented facility), as a “solution”.

    I realize that having a patient approach may require some to commute short distances, until the University responds.  However, building in the city is also not an “immediate” process.  (Frankly, if I was a student, I’d be at least looking at locations near Davis, regardless of any new development.  The price difference alone would be sufficient motivation for me.  I don’t expect this to change, regardless of any new development.)

    I don’t oppose all infill efforts (including apartments).  But, the entire city will suffer, if large-scale “rent-by-the-room” dormitory-type structures are built in locations far from campus.  (Also, “rent-by-the-room” structures may not be appropriate, for non-students who also need housing.)  No doubt, this will be an ongoing debate/concern, as developments are proposed throughout the city.

    Regarding Sterling in particular, someone else posted information regarding a movement to possibly re-use the existing facility to serve the existing community.  (I haven’t seen anything further, regarding this.)  However, it appears that the owner of the Sterling site probably has a financial incentive to hold out for the highest price (which presumably would not include re-use of the existing facility).  I’m not sure if the facility itself was funded with tax dollars, but I understand that the owner (Families First) does receive such funding.

    Perhaps it will be ultimately decided to place a scaled-down apartment development on the Sterling site.  But, the current proposal would overwhelm the site and adjacent streets/neighborhoods, and would not help non-students, who also may need housing.  5th and Pole Line would be affected, and I suspect that traffic controls would ultimately be required on nearby 2nd street/Cantrill.  It’s not just those at Rancho Yolo that would be affected.


    1. David Greenwald Post author

      “I disagree with David, regarding the University’s ability to (mostly) address the concern (that they’ve created). They’ve recently agreed to house 90% of new students, and there’s an opportunity and effort by some to encourage the University to do even more. (It’s already been demonstrated that encouragement/pressure can work.)”

      I quoted two specific examples from Eileen’s October article where the university promised but never followed through. So why do you think things will be different now?

      1. Ron

        David:  “I quoted two specific examples from Eileen’s October article where the university promised but never followed through. So why do you think things will be different now?”

        Are you implying that the University is lying, simply to deflect pressure from the city and its residents?

        I’m not sure that the University ever made such a drastic (90%) commitment, previously.  Also, I don’t think there’s previously been a sustained effort to ensure that the University follows through. Eileen and others are committed to following-through on their efforts, and to encourage the University to do even more. (I wish that our city leaders would do more to encourage the University, instead of proposing developments that are often opposed by residents.)

        Are you participating in that effort?  (Or, at least reporting on it?)  Or, are you advocating that we bypass planning and zoning processes as a “solution”?  What impact might such an approach have, on the city and its residents?  (Perhaps a “permanent crisis”?)


        1. David Greenwald Post author

          No, I’m not implying they are being intentionally deceitful and I don’t think they were in 1989 or 2003. All I’m demonstrating is that just because they say they are going to do something, doesn’t mean it will happen. And there are a variety of factors. My view remains: UC Davis should provide more housing, but we need housing now and more quickly than I think UCD can deliver.

          1. Don Shor

            The people who made the commitment don’t necessarily have the authority to implement it, and any implementation is contingent on having capital improvement funds available for housing. It’s a promise but UC’s finances are actually pretty precarious. Enrolling more in-state students than foreign students makes the finances even more precarious, and that’s what they’ve just committed to do.

            Basically, what we have is a major breakthrough in that the current UCD administration finally acknowledged the housing problems they were creating and making a promise to try to mitigate the increase of that problem going forward. No commitment to correcting the backlog of beds needed. Just holding them to that will be challenging. Getting more concessions with respect to how they will be spending their funds for on-campus construction will be even more challenging. It is not realistic to expect them to increase what they have promised, and the promise itself should be recognized as contingent on conditions beyond their control.

        2. Ron

          David:  “. . . but we need housing now and more quickly than I think UCD can deliver.”

          Yeah – who needs planning or zoning.  It’s an “emergency”! Do something – anything – now!

        3. Adam Smith

          Who suggested bypassing planning and zoning?

          Unfortunately, years of not building what is needed, has created this  situation which requires almost immediate attention.  Nishi, Sterling, West Village and others are all attempts at planning and zoning – to date, neither the city nor the university have addressed this situation with the scale that is needed.  It is a very good example of  how doing very little now results  in a  very desperate situation.

          Regarding UCD’s follow through on it’s recent announcement of a pre-draft long term development plan:

          As I understand it, any student housing built on campus has to be approved by UCOP and/or the Regents.    It is true that UCOP plans to build on-campus housing – Here is a portion of the announcement from UCOP in Jan 2016:

          University of California President Janet Napolitano on Jan. 20, 2016 announced a housing initiative aimed at supporting current students and future enrollment growth across the UC system.

          Through the initiative, UC expects to expand the pool of student housing over the next four years, and to accelerate the timetable for completing student housing developments that are already in the planning phase.

          Current estimates project that UC could add nearly 14,000 new beds over the next several years, and one of the initiative’s central tasks will be accelerating this timeline. This includes the creation of new beds for undergraduates in residence halls and the addition of more graduate student housing and other apartments that are generally open to all students.

          So, the UC system as a whole is adding something less than 14,000 beds.  In 2013 (latest stats I could find), the UC system as a whole had 244,000 students, and UCD at that time had 34,000, or approximately 14%.  If UCD gets its pro rata share of new beds, that totals about 1, 960 beds.   Twice UCD’s share would be 3,920.    I think we can safely assume that UCD will not get more than twice its pro rata share of new beds, so at the top end would be less than 4,000 beds,  and we are most likely in between, which will be no where close to 90% of the new students that are coming.  In addition, we clearly don’t have enough beds for the student population as it stands.

          Over the next 10 years,  assuming the UCD student population increases as planned, this market needs more than 8,000 additional beds in hopes of keeping the rents/affordability near where it is now      More building would be required in order to make rents more affordable than they are now.

          Davis should move forward to build at least 5,000 beds in increments of 1,000 –  1,500 beds every  year,  while we watch what the university does.   If and when UCD begins to build student housing, then Davis can appropriately adjust  future building plans.  But it doesn’t make sense to  build nothing now, because we are waiting on UCD.



        4. Ron

          Don:  “It is not realistic to expect them to increase what they have promised, and the promise itself should be recognized as contingent on conditions beyond their control.”

          With all due respect, I don’t think that you’re in a position to know exactly what the University can, and cannot do.  (Neither am I, at this point.)  It will be an ongoing process, regardless. But, your statement shows the same “defeatist” attitude that we’ve heard repeatedly, prior to the University’s commitment to house 90% of new students.

          Not necessarily directed at you, but I find it frustrating that so many are (still) telling us that it “can’t be done”, while also not participating in the effort (which has already resulted in a major change).  (And then, when the major change is announced, many of those same people attempt to discount it.)

          Again, the alternatives (which would require bypassing planning and zoning processes in the city’s neighborhoods) do not seem very appealing.  Due to its impact on neighborhoods, it will also likely lead to further contentious and unnecessary battles.  (It won’t be limited to Sterling or Trackside, etc.)  As the Vanguard’s representative (and author of most articles), I’m really disappointed that David has primarily focused his efforts on convincing readers to support this alternative.  (And, it is a choice that he’s making.)

          1. Don Shor

            With all due respect, I don’t think that you’re in a position to know exactly what the University can, and cannot do.

            I know what the constraints on their budget are.

        5. Ron

          Adam:  Who suggested bypassing planning and zoning?

          I couldn’t even get beyond your first sentence with laughing.  (I stopped reading your comment, at that point.)

          The Sterling proposal bypasses planning and zoning, and requires destruction of a community-oriented facility (that was built by an organization that receives tax dollars).  (I’m not sure, but I believe that the initial Trackside proposal required a zoning change, as well.)

          I’m not going to spend all day arguing this stuff.

        6. Misanthrop

          In 1989 the premium for living in Davis was much smaller on a percentage basis and Mace Ranch was getting built. There wasn’t the extreme pressure for housing there is today. In 2003 UCD got sued setting them back years on their construction schedule.

          But just like “infill” or resolutions to “grow as slowly as possible” are really euphemisms for not growing at all demanding the University take total responsibility for housing new students is simply another dodge for the no growth scene. Whether housing gets built on campus or in town it will still have many of the same impacts so in the greater scheme of things saying the university should build housing so the city doesn’t need to only serves to limit the amount of housing that can get built near term.

        7. Ron

          Don:  “I know what the constraints on their budget are.”

          Are you saying that they have “just enough” to follow-through on their commitment (and not a penny more)?

          Also, are you aware of all the possible ways that housing on campus can be funded?

          If I owned those 5,000 acres, and invited a developer to build rental units on it without charge (and with rental profits going to the developer), do you think I’d get any offers?  Say, perhaps with a 50-year agreement for example? (Even with the “fair wage requirement” for construction workers?)

          Why is rental housing “impossible” for the University, but developers are dying to build it in the city (even when they have to purchase the property, and in the case of Sterling – destroy a facility)?

          1. Don Shor

            I am saying that commitments they make today are subject to financial conditions in the future, which may change. That the trends in UC income are not good, and that housing is a revenue loss for them. That in their priority ranking of capital improvement projects, housing is lower than seat capacity in lecture halls, buildings to consolidate departments, and big-ticket projects that enhance UC’s reputation. That is all in evidence by their long-term historic behavior. If more housing for students would enhance UCD’s ranking in any measure, they would have built it a long time ago.

            Are you saying that they have “just enough” to follow-through on their commitment (and not a penny more)?

            They haven’t even written it into the long-range development plans, much less budgeted for it yet.

        8. Ron

          Don:  “. . . and that housing is a revenue loss for them.”

          At the risk of asking something I don’t know the answer to, how do you know this?  Have you seen financial statements which show this?

          Why wouldn’t my example above apply?  (Here’s some free land for a developer to use for the following decades, with all profits going to the developer.) Really? This can’t work?

          And, if it’s such a “bad deal” for the University, why is it a “better deal” for the city?  And, if it’s actually a money-loser, how do you make the argument that the city should suffer the loss without reimbursement (especially when considering the city’s significant financial challenges)? Should we “dig the hole even deeper, because the University won’t”?

        9. Ron

          Also, I understand that the University does not pay property tax.  Wouldn’t this also (positively) factor into the equation (regarding profitability for the developer of a University-owned site)?

        10. The Pugilist

          Whatever benefit UC may have with not paying property tax is negated by required project labor agreements and prevailing wage requirements.  That makes university development a net loser.

        11. Ron

          The Pugilist:

          So far, no one has come up with anything (e.g., ongoing financial statements) to show whether or not housing is a money-loser for the University.

        12. Jim Frame

          Whatever benefit UC may have with not paying property tax is negated by required project labor agreements and prevailing wage requirements.  That makes university development a net loser.

          The prevailing wage finding at West Village was overturned by DIR within months of its imposition.  As long as the right funding sources are used, private development on campus can be accomplished without being subject to PW requirements.


  6. nameless

    Some excellent points have been made here: 1) UCD will only house 90% of the new students the first year, which means a tremendous number of new students after their first year looking for rental housing in the city above and beyond the number of students currently  looking for housing; 2) UCD has notoriously not kept to its commitments to provide housing for its students – they still have not finished West Village (and don’t seem to have any plans to).  It is unfortunate that UCD is not prohibited from inviting more students unless they can house them on campus.  In consequence, that leaves the city to provide housing for the students, especially in light of the fact that some students are living in sheds/garages where the living conditions are not legally habitable.  There is nothing wrong with the Sterling project other than perhaps too many students squeezed into a small footprint.  Nishi was a good solution, and I suspect will be back for another try.  What will be interesting is to see if the City Council actually implements a rental inspection program that has some teeth but is still constitutional…

    1. Marina Kalugin

      yes, Nishi needs way more study..

      I would also be interested in digging up what happened and why to the historic farmhouse that mysteriously burned to the ground after developers bought it…

      just for curiosity sake…

      what is the statute of limitations for arson?  any  one of the many attorneys hanging around here know – in CA in present time or whenever that fire occurred? – whichever would be applicable?

      not that I am accusing anyone, but was that mystery ever solved or did I miss it because I was so busy with many other things…

      1. Fred

        How many times are mysterious fires that destroy historic buildings on land newly purchased by developers going to happen in this town before there is a real investigation?

  7. nameless

    Ron: “With all due respect, I don’t think that you’re in a position to know exactly what the University can, and cannot do.

    Perhaps not, but past history is a good predictor of future conduct…

    1. Ron

      nameless:  “Perhaps not, but past history is a good predictor of future conduct…”

      Great – I understand that you’re in the “naysayer” category.  (Those who not only refuse to get involved, but actually try to undermine the effort with statements.)  Good luck with your effort to convince others, regarding the alternative.

      Final comment for now.

  8. Eileen Samitz


    While this subject has be discussed over and over again, we still come to our own separate conclusions. No matter how much you seem to want to downplay it, the situation with UCD finally acknowledging that they need to take responsibility for building significantly more housing including apartments, not just dorms. So far they will be building 4,650 more apartment beds and 1,550 more dorm beds, so there is no denying that progress definitely has been made.

    That said, the work is not done, and that this is a starting point. This is why I started our citizen group “Citizens for Responsible Planning” focusing on getting UCD to correct their serious the lack of on-campus housing and deflecting their housing needs and its impacts on our City.

    It is unfair to the UCD students and unfair to our community that UCD has allowed this to happen so this will all require follow up communications and vigilance to make sure that all of this UCD planning moves forward. Also to continue discussions on how even more on-campus housing needs and options can be accomplished beyond these first steps, which are clearly going in the right direction.

    Those of you interested in helping our efforts to get more on-campus student housing are welcome to join our group in our growing citizens group are welcome to by emailing me at

    That’s all for now since I have other things to get done today.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      Eileen: You have pushed this issue for a long time. You say that “UCD finally acknowledging that they need to take responsibility for building significantly more housing” but it seems like they acknowledged that in 1989 and then again in 2003. So my question is why is it different this time? That being said, I favor a hybrid approach here where both sides build more student housing. And again, I have no preference on location in the city and acknowledge the shortcomings and strengths of current proposals. What am I missing in your view?

  9. Misanthrop

    I think there are some differences now. I think the backlash against funding UC with less qualified international students causing UC to admit more in state students is creating a surge in enrollment that UC must provide the infrastructure to accommodate out of fear that not doing so will result in further heat for UC. I think Napolitano getting involved and Katehi leaving will help too. Still it won’t be fast enough or large enough to overcome the consequences of the almost total lack of residential construction in Davis since the beginning of the 21st century. We are a generation behind in residential construction in Davis. Its not going to be easy to build our way out of the hole we have dug ourselves into and Measure R only makes it more difficult to address the problem constructively.

    Just today I had lunch with an old friend who is a medical professional but not a doctor. He is married to a nutritionist and they have four children but left Davis because there was no suitable housing they could afford.  Another beautiful well educated, employable, tax paying family shut out of Davis, another four students lost from our school system. I know your ennui meter is causing many of you to yawn. But for me it was great to see my old friend and his family. I miss having them around.

    1. Ron

      Misanthrop:  “Its not going to be easy to build our way out of the hole we have dug ourselves into . . .”

      That’s for sure!  🙂  It won’t stop some from trying to dig deeper, though.

      In all seriousness, I like reading some of your comments.

  10. Tia Will

    I would like to make a clarification about Trackside. This project was never intended to address the needs of student housing. The project as originally proposed was intended as a luxury apartment building. It was meant as an upgrade of an existing business site and was never part of any plan, whether comprehensive or piecemeal, to address student or even low or moderate cost housing. This was the idea of a group of local investors to develop a small group of luxury apartments, available only to the already affluent, over a series of upscale shops and restaurants. This project, whether you are for it, or against it was never intended nor would it serve to reduce significantly the need for beds in Davis.

    1. Barack Palin

      I do not agree.  Any new tennants of Trackside would most likely be other residences in Davis thereby opening up more rental possibilities for students.

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