LRDP Remains a Critical Issue for the Community and Council



An item about the formation of a council subcommittee on UC Davis’ Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) spawned a broad community discussion, which prompted the council to consider a City-UC Davis standing subcommittee as well.

As the staff report notes, “Before UC Davis embarks on the next steps in the development of the LRDP (including formal ‘scoping’ of the plan options and preparation of an Environmental Impact Report which is expected to be initiated in mid-October), it is critical for the City to engage campus leadership on key policy areas of interest between the City and UC Davis.”

It continues, “A key component of the UC Davis LRDP will be focused on campus plans for accommodating student housing on campus. How the campus accommodates student housing into the future will have profound impacts on the Davis community and our own long range land use planning efforts.”

The council will appoint two members to serve as a subcommittee, and, given the potential for overlap between the LRDP and city innovation center efforts including how Nishi is analyzed, the recommendation from staff was to mirror the LRDP subcommittee membership with that of an innovation center subcommittee.

Alan Hirsch pointed out that, as the city looks to potentially blend the Innovation Park Task Force with the LRDP, there is confusion between economic development and community development.  He sees economic development, the building of jobs and employment, as a smaller and more narrow issue.

He argued, “The benefits have not trickled down to the community, so people are very cynical about economic development.”  Instead, he argued, “I think we ought to focus on community development.”

Colin Walsh commended the city’s focus on the creation of a subcommittee.  He said that “it is critical for the city to engage campus leaders on policy areas of interest between the city and UC Davis.”  He expressed optimism that the university would be open to the city’s input.

Mr. Walsh saw three key issues.  First, encouraging the university to increase the supply of “reasonably priced student housing on campus.”  Second, “assuring that there is a clear and well noticed communication, community interaction with the LRDP process.”  Finally, “the choices that the university makes on land adjacent to the city best promote the relationship between the university and the city.”

He questioned the need to include the innovation center efforts in the LRDP process.  He suggested separate subcommittees for those two processes.

Eileen Samitz added her support for the subcommittee.  She again pushed for the need for significantly more student housing on campus.  She noted that current policies accommodate first-year students, which means students then get pushed out of the dorms “and then the university’s housing needs wind up being deflected to the community and that is basically pushing our workforce (and) our families out of our own rental housing and it’s not only unfair to the community, it’s unfair to the students.”

This need for on-campus housing “is seriously and negatively impacting our city planning in a big way, including our sustainability goals.”  “Nothing would reduce more of our carbon footprint than for UC Davis to build more on-campus housing to reduce the traffic, parking and all of the other commuting that students have to do.”

Sunny Shine expressed concern about the development of the apartments on Russell Fields.  She noted that she just started organizing her neighborhood on this issue, and most people are unaware of the plans and are opposed to them.  She said in the last week she has gotten 150 people to respond and commit to doing whatever they need to oppose such a development.

“That’s just in a week,” she said.  “Let’s just do what’s right for the community that’s already here and the neighborhoods that are already here.  They’re precious, they’re historic and they’re working.”

Elaine Roberts Musser said, “I think that economic development should very much be part of the discussion between the university and the city.  To leave that out, I think would be foolish.”

She added, “The university is looking to partner with the city on startups and things like that – why would we want to cut off that discussion?”

Mayor Pro Tem Brett Lee pointed out the lack of overall coordination between the university and the city.  He said that while the LRDP process gives the council something specific to sink its teeth into, other entities and the city have a two-by-two where they can meet regularly and coordinate in a public process.  “Where’s the two-by-two with the university in general?” he asked.  “They’re the most important entity in close proximity to the city of Davis.”

He said while there is overlap between the innovation parks planning and the LRDP, there is a more fundamental need for a more general coordinated planning that could be done with a two-by-two.

Rochelle Swanson said a two-by-two makes sense, but she called the LRDP “an overarching issue.”  She mentioned that a huge focus of UC Davis as well as the city of Davis is economic development – she lamented the loss of Nishi, MRIC and other potential projects but believes that a broader discussion on economic development and the need for the city and university to partner has actually grown out of the LRDP process.

“It has to be a conversation more about student housing within that document,” she said.

The council passed the staff recommendation to appoint Rochelle Swanson and Robb Davis to the LRDP subcommittee, with the caveat that they would consider longer term the idea of a permanent subcommittee for a potential two-by-two.

The council gave direction to bring the item back at a future meeting about such a two-by-two with the university.

—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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127 thoughts on “LRDP Remains a Critical Issue for the Community and Council”

  1. SODA

    I am encouraged by the discussion of closer communication between the City and UCD in the areas of housing and economic development. Brett especially seems energized by the possibilities. I had thought that we did have a 2:2 with UCD in the past?

    1. quielo

      This is an ignorant question. If students with school age children move in I presume they go to Davis schools? How does UCD compensate DJU? is it just ADA?

        1. Barack Palin

          That’s right, Davis homeowners get to foot the parcel tax bill for all the kids of students and faculty who live on UCD property, all the out of town children and all of the Davis apartment renter’s children.

  2. The Pugilist

    I’m all for engaging the university in discussions, but I increasingly believe that housing for most students should be in the city, not on the campus.  I also think the primary focus between the city and university should be a partnership with commitments for funding on an economic development project

    1. Eileen Samitz


      Most of the student housing is already in the City. The problem is too much of it is in the City and not enough is on the UCD campus. For heavens sake, UCD has over 5,000 acres of land. There is no excuse for them to not be providing significantly more student apartments on campus.

      Furthermore it is far more sustainable planning for UCD to have far more on-campus housing to reduce the need for commuting to and from the campus by the many thousands of students which in turn creates more traffic and parking issues in the City.  Also, as I said last night, nothing would do more to reduce our carbon footprint than UCD building the needed on-campus students apartments to address their own growth.

      1. Alan Miller

        Carbon footprint could’ve been reduced a lot sooner with Nishi, right next to campus.  Much of those 5,000 acres is way the hell out there, whereas Nishi is much closer to center of campus than the average West Village trip.

      2. Mark West

        “For heavens sake, UCD has over 5,000 acres of land. There is no excuse for them to not be providing significantly more student apartments on campus.”

        For heaven’s sake, Davis has tens of thousands of acres available for development on the periphery. There is no excuse for the City not to provide significantly more apartments for both students and non-students alike.

        We have little or no control over how the University addresses its housing shortage, but we have complete control over how we address our own. If the goal was to truly address the housing shortage, we would be focused on what Davis can do, not wasting time arguing about what some think the University should do. It frankly doesn’t matter what the University ends up doing or not doing. Focusing on the University is nothing more than a tactic to prevent the City from addressing the problem at hand.

  3. The Pugilist

    Those who are counting on this process to yield houses consider the other article where UCD is promising 50 houses by 2018 – that’s 50 in two years.  So how are you expecting the university to provide for thousands of news students, faculty and staff in the next decade at that rate?

    Second, bear in mind the warning of Sunny Shine who clear shows that any attempt to build housing along Russell is going to be a war.  So if not there, where are you expecting housing?

    1. Ron

      The Pugilist:  “So if not there, where are you expecting housing?”

      Well, that didn’t take long.  David’s “evil twin” is at it again.  🙂

      The University has 5,000 acres.  (Maybe more, if they eventually obtain Nishi.  However, I understand that Nishi might best be used for purposes other than housing.)

      I’d turn this question around.  Where do you expect the city and its residents to approve of large-scale student-oriented housing, within the city?   Do you really expect residents to agree to wreck their own neighborhoods (and significantly impact adjacent streets/intersections), to accommodate the University’s needs? And, why is it “better” to locate such housing, far from the University?

      Good luck with that argument.

      1. Chamber Fan

        David’s evil twin is right.  Why are you limiting possible locations of student housing to within the city?  At some point, Nishi will be back with student housing.  Sterling offers student housing.  Those two projects alone would have accommodated six years of growth.

        1. hpierce

          There’s a good reason (in some folk’s minds) to have the City house all students, or as many as possible… more qualified voters to vote in favor of certain “agendas”… where they can ‘decide’ matters that they will likely not bear the consequences of…

        2. Ron

          Chamber Fan:

          Regarding Nishi, I’m not sure that it will be back.  Even if affordable housing is addressed in a revised proposal, it has fatal flaws regarding traffic (and possibly air quality).

          Regarding Sterling (if a student-oriented dormitory-type development is approved to replace the existing facility), I picture something similar to the intersection at Trader Joe’s, all the way from the site to the University.  There are numerous intersections and driveways along the route (including but not limited to some primary intersections such as Pole Line and 5th, and the driveway for the Post Office).

        3. Chamber Fan

          You realize that the number of beds are Sterling pales in comparison with the number of beds within a block of Trader Joe’s?

          Something will be back at Nishi, it’s the ideal location for student housing in town.  It would be ironic if your opposition to Nishi forces Davis to develop out on the periphery.

        4. Ron

          I don’t know about the comparison you’ve made.  However, I suspect that if the Sterling proposal goes forward, it would have a major impact on surrounding streets/intersections/driveways, all the way to the University.

          Regarding your other statement (that opposition to Nishi, or any particular development will “force” the city to develop on the periphery) – this is just patently false.  No one is “forcing” the city (and its residents) to do this.  (This is the type of argument that developers often use.)

        5. Alan Miller

          No one is “forcing” the city (and its residents) to do this.


          Response:  Right finger in right ear – left finger in left ear:  –> “LALALALALALALALALALA”

        6. Ron

          Alan Miller:  “Reality:  “REGIONAL GROWTH, UNIVERSITY EXPANSION”

          Response:  Right finger in right ear – left finger in left ear:  –> “LALALALALALALALALALA”

          I’m just jumping back in to the conversation.

          We control our own destiny.  If not, one can also make an argument that locations such as Trackside (which isn’t that far from the University) should be zoned to encourage/accommodate a massive student-oriented housing complex.  (Not something I’d ever advocate.) Let’s not pit “neighbor against neighbor”, to accommodate the University’s expansion plans.

          Much better to encourage the University to house its own students, which would have much less impact on current residents.

        7. Alan Miller

          We control our own destiny.

          Actually we don’t, which was exactly my point.

          one can also make an argument that locations such as Trackside (which isn’t that far from the University) should be zoned to encourage/accommodate a massive student-oriented housing complex.

          Which is exactly what many are arguing.

          Let’s not pit “neighbor against neighbor”, to accommodate the University’s expansion plans.

          Which is precisely what is happening.  I am not against Trackside or Sterling, or similar, as such; it’s the damn massiveness that is the issue with these projects.  Lax planning and the effects of Measure JunioR have reaped hell on Davis by raising the value of available land to be so attractive that rather than gently growing and going up in response to demand, Davis bursts at the seams and giant obscene sized development proposals burst through the cracks wherever someone can grab some land and push it through the process.  This is only going to get worse.  Ugly now?  Just wait.  Thanks Measure R advocates and Nishi opponents, thanks for the death spiral.

          We control our own destiny my ass. We do, however, reap what we sow.

        8. Ron


          I see some of your points.  However, I don’t think it’s an “either/or” situation.

          Yes – we’ll have to stay “on guard” against over-sized infill developments, anywhere that they might “pop up”.  (Nevertheless, some might argue that it’s “immoral” to do so.  I’m not in that camp.) Of course, it’s important to have responsible/responsive council members, regarding this concern.

          I see Davis as a “pioneer” (at least in the Valley) in the effort to reign in endless development/sprawl (which ultimately, is not sustainable – anywhere).  Measure R provides us with a great deal of control, regarding Davis’ destiny.  It’s an overwhelmingly positive tool.

          Regarding regional pressures, we’re already meeting/exceeding SACOG “fair share” growth guidelines (the closest thing we have to a growth “requirement”).  We’re not even done with the Cannery, Chiles Ranch, Grande, etc. 

          Of course, we have limited control, regarding the University’s plans.  (For that matter, the University can theoretically “overbuild” to meet their own housing needs and we’d have little say in that, either.)

          My vision regarding residential development at this point:  infill that “fits in” with surrounding neighborhoods, and primarily encouraging the University to address its own needs (which they’re starting to do).

          Regarding Nishi, I really do think that the “fatal problems” (e.g., traffic from 1,732 parking spaces and additional motor vehicle access to the University, possible air quality concerns) are what “did it in”.  (The lack of affordable housing was also a concern for some.)  (Not misinformation, selfishness, or anything else.)

    2. ryankelly

      Second, bear in mind the warning of Sunny Shine who clear shows that any attempt to build housing along Russell is going to be a war.

      I think that there is not much that Sunny can do about this.  This is University land, not in the City of Davis, and there has been vocal pressure for the University to build housing.  With the transition of athletics and recreation fields to the West and Southwest of campus, the Russell fields are underutilized.  It is a perfect location for student housing, especially for dorms for students with no cars.  If Sunny is worried about traffic and wants to protect her access to College Ave, maybe they should put the bollards at the South end of College Park and access the street off of 8th Street.

        1. South of Davis

          hpierce wrote:

          > Or, better yet, add bollards at the Russell Blvd entrance to

          > College Park, and keep the bollards in place towards Eighth…

          Great idea, think how”green” it would be if no cars were allowed on the street…

          P.S. I wonder if College Park home prices would still be pushing $1.5mm if the city made everyone walk or ride bikes…


      1. Chamber Fan

        You mean like the neighbors in West Davis didn’t force a no-UC access on Russell and a handful of student protesters didn’t delay plans for demolishing Solano and Orchard?

        1. ryankelly

          The neighbors in West Davis did force a no-UC access on Russell.  Access to the Russell fields will likely be off of California Street, or even Howard, but I can’t see College Park neighbors blocking this avenue of access to Russell.  The West Davis neighbors could do nothing to stop building at West Campus.

          The student protestors were protesting being displaced.  Orchard park sits empty and UCD is waiting a couple of years to allow the tenants at Solano to finish their degrees and move on.  These two sites are designated to be redeveloped to increase density and replace the aging buildings, I understand.

          Samitz, et al, are demanding that the campus build more housing for its students, faculty and staff, so cannot now complain about the campus building more housing for its students, faculty and staff.

      2. Alan Miller

        I think that there is not much that Sunny can do about this.

        Perhaps you forget this neighborhood is one of the richest and most University-connected in town.  These people give real money to the U.  Think they don’t have power over the U?  Think again.

  4. Eileen Samitz


    It would help if the University did better planning by not shut down entire complexes of on-campus apartments for 2-4 years like Orchard Park, which created even more need for housing in the City and lowering the vacancy rate. Also, what about if the apartments on campus were 4-5 levels instead of 3 level to make better use of the land with more housing capacity on the campus? The freshman dorms are mostly 4 stories, why not the apartments on-campus?

    1. Chamber Fan

      I think it would be better if we went up to 10 to 15 stories like they do on some urban campuses.  At least that way we have a compact footprint and don’t encroach onto farmland.  I find it interesting that we in Davis complain about building on farmland but then recommend UC Davis do so.

      1. Eileen Samitz

        Chamber Fan,

        I agree with you, plenty of other campuses have done it, why not UCD? I meant to say that the campus should be planning a minimum of 4-5 stories, rather than a paltry 3 stories for apartments. Five stories is generally the maximum for wood construction, then steel construction usually comes in which costs more. But there is plenty of steel construction going on campus-wide with there other projects, why not the apartments as well? Adding more stories for their residential is critical on campus.

        1. Eileen Samitz

          Chamber Fan,

          The point we do agree on is that the density on campus needs to be much higher than they have been doing in order to save ag land. However, I am not certain where your second point is going. It is clear that land has to be built on somewhere for student housing and the logical answer for many reasons is that it needs to be on UCD land. This may mean using a very small amount of UCD’s  5,300 acres which would 1) reduce the cost of building the housing on UCD land since the land is free; 2) avoid imposing costs on the City to use our City services and infrastructure; and 3) would be the most environmentally sustainable location, reducing our carbon footprint. Just as importantly, it gives UCD the ability to deal with supporting its own growth needs rather than trying to deflect their enormous housing needs onto our community.

  5. Eileen Samitz


    Just and FYI that apartments, not dorms are being proposed for Russell Fields, so this will impact traffic on the narrowed Russell Blvd. which is even more impacted now due to the narrowing. Russell will be even more impacted when the East end gets narrowed.

    And regarding your other comments, our community has every right to desire good planning whether it the University or our City. Likewise the University and the City themselves should want good planning as well.






    1. ryankelly

      Just and FYI that apartments, not dorms are being proposed for Russell Fields

      It makes no difference.  You can’t make demands to develop housing on campus land and then oppose development on campus land.  Do you really think that only building on West Campus and south into Solano County would have no impact on Davis streets?  West Campus traffic is all being funneled onto Hutchison, LaRue, and Hwy 113 exits into town. Russell Fields is infill, is it not?  How is this not “good planning?”


      1. Eileen Samitz


        Well your main point was that dorms would not yield car traffic, so it does make a difference since apartments would yield car traffic on an already heavily impacted Russell Blvd. And who said anything about only building on West Village? There is at least 100+ acres of land on or near the core campus that could have housing built on it without paving over the existing greenfields.  And, if UCD would simply densify its housing as it needs to, only a portion of that would need to be used. Infill generally refers to un-utilized land surrounded by development. Using your definition we would consider all of our parks in the City as “infill” sites. The Russell Fields are now park space comparatively on the campus.

        1. ryankelly

          Russell Field is not a park.  It is an athletic field – an instructional area .  UCD has created new athletic fields near dorm and in West Village to replace these instructional areas.  Don’t imply that City of Davis parks are the same thing.  This is not Davis’ “People’s Park.”


      2. Grok

        Obviously when dealing with something like the UCD LRDP there are many different issues that affect Davis and the interaction between the new Council subcommittee and the University will cover several topics. It seems pretty obvious that what happens on the fields along Russel and housing will both be part of the conversation.
        While infill is a very positive thing, not all infill is good infill. Infill needs to be done with respect to surrounding areas and with an eye to preserving important open spaces. The fields along Russell are vibrant and important open spaces. There is a huge amount of other more appropriate space to build on campus. The Russell fields construction is the smallest part of the new housing being proposed, simply building 4 or 5 instead of 3 story buildings in other already designated places would create the same amount of housing as what is currently in the plan, and still leave lots of other places the University could build even more housing close to the core.

  6. Grok

    Interesting that after months of claiming student housing was the biggest issue in Davis the only Yes on A community member who spoke talked about how important “economic development” is. It was organizers from the No on A campaign who stood up and told the council how important building more student housing on campus is. Even some members of council seemed focused on economic development over student housing picking the committee based on who had been members of the economic development subcommittee.

    1. Chamber Fan

      I don’t find it that interesting.  It was an item to create a subcommittee to deal with LRDP.  I was surprised to see Eileen and Colin show up.

  7. Eileen Samitz


    However you want to define the Russell fields, it is recreational greenspace. The Cal Aggie Band practices on it and all kinds of recreational and athletic activities occur on it, therefore it is like a park on campus. The point I was making is that you were wrong on considering it an”infill” site on campus. It is not.

    1. ryankelly

      UCD has created and can create more alternative recreational greenspaces to serve its needs.  The Cal Aggie Band can practice on those.  Recreational and athletic activities can occur on those.  It is instructional space that can be relocated easily.

    1. Eileen Samitz

      Chamber Fan,

      I think it is not a good site for developing housing for the reasons I have explained including the traffic impacts on Russell, it is already a green site much loved and used all the time by the students, and the fact that UCD has over 5,000 acres with more than 100 acres on or near the core campus which can be used for student housing.

  8. ryankelly

    UCD does not intend to develop the whole field.  It plans to retain a portion – 3 acres – for green space along Russell Blvd.  A graphic is on the website.

    From the website: “The LRPD Preliminary Planning Scenario provides capacity for an additional 1,000 students with the redevelopment of Russell Field and Howard Field. The LRPD Preliminary Planning Scenario also provides capacity for additional academic building space on the A Street Field. The LRPD Preliminary Planning Scenario includes open space along Russell Boulevard and A Street and retains 3 acres of unlit natural sod surface on Russell Field. The remaining 3-acre field will continue to function as an active recreational field in the core of campus, albeit reduced in size and designated as a stormwater detention basin that will be inundated during extreme flooding events.”

  9. Eileen Samitz


    Yes. They need to leave 3 acres for a storm water detention basin, which raises other concerns. These fields are working as they absorb rainfall now. So paving over the Russell fields creates a new issue of drainage. What if this detention basin is inadequate? Plenty of development nearby can wind up with the flooding issues.

        1. ryankelly

          They acknowledge that they can’t use the entire site, but need to retain 3 acres to act as storm water detention.  You’ll have your green space along Russell, just not as large.


        2. Don Shor

          If they develop on the north edge of campus in such a way that storm water drains to the north or east and floods, it would be a level of such professional malfeasance as to practically require criminal sanctions. It’s like saying they shouldn’t build tall buildings because they might fall down! Seriously. Water flows to the south here. The soils on campus absorb well and drain well. They have their own stormwater and drainage system, separate from the city’s. I suggest you abandon this line of argument, as it will simply make it look as though you are grasping at straws.

        3. Alan Miller

          I suggest you abandon this line of argument, as it will simply make it look as though you are grasping at straws.

          I would agree with you DS, had not big straw grasping killed Nishi.  Appears to be a functional strategy in Davis.

      1. Eileen Samitz


        The fact is that a detention basin is needed if the site developed for potential flood control, whereas as is with Russell fields in place, that is not a problem.

    1. ryankelly

      The remaining 3 acre field will be used as an active recreational field. So the neighborhood will have its green space along Russell Blvd.

      1. Grok

        The reconfiguration of the fields leaving so much less open space will greatly change the way they are able to be used and will greatly diminish the viewshed that is the front lawn of the University. There are often events that sprawl across the entire fields and are a great show piece for the University. There is no way that even an innovative apartment complex would be able to create the same good will and park like feel for the campus. It is this very feel that draws students to Davis who were otherwise accepted to UCLA or UC Berkley. While UCD grows, it needs to remember to stay UCD and not merely mirror its urban siblings.

        1. ryankelly

          Let’s leave it to the University to determine the best use of its property.  It desperately needs housing and instructional space.  Russell Field is but one option of many that they are looking at for student housing and instructional space.  It will change how it is used, but the field is underutilized with inter-mural play moving to the fields around the ARC and eventually out on West Campus.  It leaves 3 acres (around the size of central park without any buildings) for open space along Russell.

        2. Ron


          Regarding the fields along Russell, I don’t see anything wrong with attempting to influence the University to develop land in a manner that integrates well with the city, while still encouraging the University to address its own needs overall.  Although it wouldn’t have much impact on me personally, I hope that the fields are preserved.  It appears that there are other sites that are close to the core, and wouldn’t require development of fields that are enjoyed by everyone.

          I’ve noticed that some “pro-development” types seem to take some satisfaction regarding the tentative plan to develop a portion of the Russell fields site.  (Including some comments in response to this article.)  It seems that there’s some real anger, from some.  (Not from you, regarding those comments.)  I’m sorry that it has come to this.

          On a related note, perhaps the University could use the Nishi site to satisfy its desperate need for instructional space, as you’ve cited? Just an idea.


        3. Grok

          “Let’s leave it to the University to determine the best use of its property.” – RK
          If what the university does has a significant impact on the City, then Davis should exert influence on what happens on campus. Ecnolic development, housing and what happens on the borders of the University are all things that will effect Davis, and Davis should be in discussions with the University as they will be in the new LRDP subcommittee. 

          ” It desperately needs housing and instructional space.” – RK
          Agreed is really just a question of where.

          “Russell Field is but one option of many” – RK
          Agreed. and some of the other options are better for the school and the City

          “underutilized with inter-mural play moving to the fields around the ARC ” – RK
          Doubt it. The schedules for the fields are already overly tight at peek times. Plus these particular fields receive heavy use for other activities that they are better suited for because they are core adjacent and city facing.

        4. Matt Williams

          Grok, reading the University’s own materials makes it very clear that they see their front lawn as the Mondavi, Shrem Museum, Alumni Center. They are shown as the “Gateways” area on the UCD-created map below. The fields you refer to might more accurately be called the back lawn, and given the recent drought in California it is reasonable to wonder whether the duplication of lawns east of La Rue and south of Russell is responsible from a water conservation perspective.

        5. Roberta Millstein

          Matt, then the university is a poor judge of what is appealing to students and what makes a university a university.  Note that the Mondavi, Shrem Museum, and Alumni Center are neither research nor instruction.  They are donor-attracting flash.

        6. Grok

          Matt, Call it what you want. It is where the city and the university meet. The fields are welcoming and well used for a wide range of activities and provide an important intermediary area between the University and the City. The question of water use is far more complex and goes way beyond the specific use of these few acres and the University has a wide range of options here too. Nothing you wrote here gives a good reason to build on these fields over other choices.

          1. Don Shor

            The space is available and easily developed. The people who live there could readily walk to the shopping options across the street, just as I did when I lived in Primero. Which, by the way, was much closer to Russell Blvd. than the buildings that replaced it. For the people who live there, the closer they are to Russell the better for them.

            This is all just aesthetic concern. It has no real rational basis in traffic or flooding or any of the other stuff that’s being put forth. People want to look at the lawns instead of buildings. The university will certainly build attractive housing and landscape it nicely. There are plenty of other sites on campus for recreation activities. Folks just don’t want change, don’t want the appearance different. That is really not a particularly compelling reason to oppose building housing on Russell Field.

        7. ryankelly

          Roberta,  The Mondavi is currently being used as general assignment classroom space each quarter.  The Shrem Museum will also have space that will be used for instruction.  I don’t think that the Alumni center is used for instruction yet, but it is used for meetings, conferences, presentations, lectures, etc., which are part of research, etc.  I really wonder why you think a space for art, an art museum, is only “donor-attracting flash.”

          Ron, City residents apparently do not want development on the campus to “integrate well with the City,” evidenced by the opposition for West Village access along Russell Blvd.  The City and the University could collaborated to extend the double lanes on Russell west passed Hwy 113, have the access come out at Arthur to avoid traffic near houses further West, or figured out some other sort of mitigation, but the neighborhood opted to wall off the neighborhood from the rest of the community.  After that, the border of the University along Russell Blvd became a heavy dark line on the map.  That the University plans to retain some open space near Russell and Howard should be complimented.

        8. Grok

          Don, I mean no offense by this because I think you have a great company and I value what you do but, “This is all just aesthetic concern” seems like a funny thing to say for a guy who sells flowers for a living. While I agree that there is an aesthetic concern, I disagree that that is the only reason not to build there. Those fields play an important community role and are well used for a wide range of events. They are important to the campus community and the Davis community and are second only to the quad as desirable outdoor community space on the campus. Do you think they should build apartments on the quad too?

          1. Don Shor

            I’ve been walking around campus for decades and have seen great innovation and improvement in the landscaping in recent years. I have considerable confidence that any apartments or student housing along Russell would be attractively and appropriately landscaped and would be very nice looking to drivers along Russell.
            There are other sites that can be used and developed for sporting activities closer to the Rec Hall. I question the extent to which they are important to the community, except for the way they look. And I think a low-water landscape would be just as attractive to the community and more appropriate and sustainable. Again: for the people who will live there, being able to walk to shopping and dining at University Mall would be a bonus. I think you are trying to value the “viewscape” more highly than other aspects.
            For those who live in College Park and are concerned about traffic, I expect the university could and probably would direct egress from the housing there to the west. If that isn’t their plan, it seems like a good subject for discussion with the council.

        9. Grok

          Don I appreciate your thoughts on the campus landscaping and agree that wherever the new housing is built it will probably have nice landscaping. I just don’t agree that it has to be on Russell when there are so many other good options. There is just no need to sacrifice the fields along Russell.

        10. Roberta Millstein

          Ryan, yes, there is occasional classroom use of the Mondavi (temporary, I understand) and there will be at the Shrem, and yes, I have attended conferences at the Alumni Center (for which the university charges organizing bodies a pretty penny).  But teaching and research are not the main functions of these buildings, and while I value the appreciation of art and alumni, these buildings do not have as their primary purpose the primary functions of the university.  I suppose I’d have less of a problem with them if I thought the university were investing in research and education to the extent that it should be.  But all of this is aside from the main point.  The entry to the university may be “officially” where the Mondavi, etc. are, but that is not the functional entrance for users of the university.

        11. Grok

          This is probably a better map to use since it has the proposed LRDP projects.

          For starters I would build taller in the places designated in the LRDP a minimum of 4 or 5 stories where there are currently only 3 story buildings proposed.  In the new and redeveloped projects by Segundo and Tracero new dorms should be as tall or taller than Sproul Hall at 9 stories. Those density increases alone would add more housing than the new apartments south of Russell.

          Because I think the University needs to build more housing than is proposed, I wouldn’t stop there. I would also suggest building high-rise apartment buildings in 2 places not already designated for housing:

          The parking lot on the corner of Old Davis Road and 1st with underground parking.
          The commercial space used by non UCD businesses on Arboritum Dr. on campus just south of the Whole foods parking lot

          These both have great advantages to the Russell site because of their proximity to Whole foods and the downtown.

          Further, I would suggest that the area south of Hutchinson and west of 113 would be another good place for additional housing.

          The flat parking lots on Larue are another places that are ripe for redevelopment with parking structures next to buildings or parking integrated into buildings although they could be housing but may be better suited for academics – in any case they are other better places for the U to grow.

          There are other potential places beyond these too, like the one matt suggested above, but what I list here is where I would start.

          1. Don Shor

            In the new and redeveloped projects by Segundo and Tracero new dorms should be as tall or taller than Sproul Hall at 9 stories

            You prefer a 9-story building set back 400′ from Russell (Segundo) to lower profile buildings on Russell Field?
            I don’t really understand why Davis residents want to pack UCD students into giant high-rise buildings.

            These both have great advantages to the Russell site because of their proximity to Whole foods and the downtown.

            And the Russell site has great advantages because of the proximity to University Mall.

        12. ryankelly

          I see problems with some of the suggestions by Grok.

          The parking lot on the corner of Old Davis Road and 1st with underground parking.

          You propose high rise apartments with underground parking.  I don’t see how this site is much different than the problems with Trackside. You don’t think the neighborhood would oppose this?

          The commercial space used by non UCD businesses on Arboritum Dr. on campus just south of the Whole foods parking lot

          These both have great advantages to the Russell site because of their proximity to Whole foods and the downtown.

          Isn’t this 100 ft from Nishi and using the same arguments for Nishi?  Regardless, the University already has plans to redevelop Solano Park Family housing in that area.  I would have to check on whether these plans will include that area.

          Further, I would suggest that the area south of Hutchinson and west of 113 would be another good place for additional housing.

          Take a look at this map: West Village  Other than information about UCD plans for that area that you likely are not aware of, do you think that adding housing even further away from the City, the core campus and away from already planned development is wise?  It may not look far by car, but it is incredibly far by bike.

          The flat parking lots on Larue are another places that are ripe for redevelopment.

          Students, staff and faculty that have to commute to UCD from other cities need a place to park so they can get to work and school on the core campus.

          I appreciate your suggestions. It means that you are at least looking and considering.



          1. Don Shor

            Isn’t this 100 ft from Nishi and using the same arguments for Nishi? Regardless, the University already has plans to redevelop Solano Park Family housing in that area. I would have to check on whether these plans will include that area.

            Other than the air quality argument that’s sure to arise, I think that site has great potential. The problem is, UCD is so far behind in the number of beds needed, these would augment not replace what’s needed along Russell.

        13. Grok

          I do prefer preserving the Russell fields and building taller at Segundo. It is actually 600 feet from Russell to where they plan on redeveloping, although that doesn’t make a huge difference. Plus it would be increasing Dorm capacity without cars rather than new apartments that would need parking.
          As to the 2 sites I identified for additional high-rise buildings, all I meant is they are even closer to shopping and the downtown.
          In any case, I made several suggestions that not only compensate for the Russell fields buildings but could provide housing for thousands of additional students on campus. I am not going to claim that these are perfect, just possibly better , and I am glad to have others consider them, look at the maps and offer more suggestions because we not only need to make sure the University consider how the university relates to the City along its borders, we need to encourage the University to build more housing.

        14. Grok

          Old Davis Road and 1st
          I believe the houses immediately across the street are already a sorority, a hotel businesses and rentals. Anything done here would of course need to have some level of agreement with the neighborhood. I see that as more of a question of how high and what design than is it a good place to build additional housing.

          The commercial space used by non UCD businesses on Arboritum Dr.
          This is not currently included for redevelopment in the LRDP. You can see in the link I included in my earlier post. As I understand Dr. Cahill’s air quality comments they are specific to the area between the berm of the train tracks and the freeway. This is on the other side of the tracks from Nishi, so I don’t think it has the same issues, but that and other issues would of course need to be studied in the LRDP EIR process that is yet to begin. This will be adjacent to the redevelopment of Solano Park, and could just be integrated into its redesign. In any case it is an excellent location just across the creek from the Whole foods.

          South of Hutchinson and west of 113
          It is much closer than distances students already bike to class and might be highly favored by vet and med students who’s campuses are just across the freeway on Hutchinson. It is very much a bikeable campus location compared to Drake Drive, South Davis Alvarado and so many other student apartment complexes in town. The LRDP covers several years, perhaps this is in the later part of the build out.

          The flat parking lots on LaRue
          Recognizing that there needs to be parking on campus, the idea here is to maintain and possibly even expand the parking by layering it and adding buildings. There is a lot that could be done here.
          I suspect we most all agree that the university needs to add housing on campus and it is more a question of where and how. So we should all take long bike rides through campus and look closely at campus maps and satellite images to get ideas to suggest.

        15. Jim Frame

          The commercial space used by non UCD businesses on Arboritum Dr. on campus just south of the Whole foods parking lot

          I think that space would be a great addition to the Solano Park space, allowing UCD to build a larger version of what they’re already planning.  I’m sure Barbara Jury would love to sell it if the price was right, but for the moment, that’s not UCD’s land to plan.  But I think it should be in addition to development at Russell Fields, not instead of same.



  10. MAli

    Chamber Fan: “As someone a little involved in those talks, I don’t think there was ever opposition to West Village, it was more about traffic.”

    Nothing could be farther from the truth. The reality is that the West Davis Neighbors didn’t want the West Village project and hired Don Mooney to file a lawsuit with every cause of action they could think of in the hopes something would stick that they could use to fight the project. The only thing that stuck was traffic so UC settled by giving up access to Russell so that they could get on with the much needed project. As I recall there originally were seven causes of action.

    1. Eileen Samitz


      The major issue which set the entire issue in motion was the traffic concerns of any connections with Russell. Once UCD agreed to not connect West Village to Russell, it was settled.

  11. MAli

    That is a re-writting of history or a truncated timeline that begins at the end of the court case instead of with the meetings held before the filing of the suit or even with the filing of the lawsuit and a simple search will show you are wrong. There were a bunch of causes of action but all but traffic were thrown out by the court.  So UCD settled the traffic issue by giving up non-emergency access to Russell. A summary of the causes of action is included in the links provided above. You can have your own opinions but not your own historical facts.

    1. Eileen Samitz


      It is interesting that you seem to be so focused on sympathisizing with UCD so adamantly. What is you opinion on how to deal with UCD’s student housing needs?

    2. ryankelly

      Eileen, I think it is unfair to equate a clarification of factual information about past events with political alignment or sympathetic leanings.

      I too remember the effort to stop the development of West Campus and the urge to develop on the core campus before expanding westward across 113.  It got really ugly and I’m sure many people would rather forget that it ever happened.

      1. Eileen Samitz


        It is pretty clear that MAli disagreed with the concerns of the West Davis neighborhood and supported UCD on this issue. My point is that the situation was ultimately resolved with West Village moving forward with the agreement of UCD not connecting it with Russell.

        1. ryankelly

          After a particularly unruly town hall meeting at Emerson, UCD ended further dealings with the citizens of Davis by ceasing attempts to design West Campus to make it feel like it was part of the City.  UCD agreed to go its own way, separate from the City.  It was a very dark period in Davis history, which has had a bearing on the town-gown relationship ever since.

  12. Grok

    It seems like some people on here are arguing that the fields along Russell are the best place for UCD to put housing despite the many other options available, but I have yet to see any reasoning why that is the case. Conversely I do see several posts expressing reasons why building on the Russell fields is not preferable when there are so many other options. Can any of you pro build on Russell people express why you think that is the most preferable place to build student housing over all of the other on campus options?

    1. Matt Williams

      Grok, for many years I have held (and publicly expressed) the opinion that the best location for on-campus no-car student housing is immediately west of A Street between 3rd and 4th Streets.  The yellow lines from the structure represent the principal pedestrian access axes (west to the campus core and east to Downtown services, amenities and activities).  The recent upgrade of the 3rd Street corridor from the campus edge to Central Park and the Farmers Market has only served to strengthen my opinion.  It would be very supportive of an efficient life style for the students and would minimize the impact on the City residents. 

      Such a structure should be steel construction and at least as many floors as Sproul Hall, four blocks south on A Street.

  13. Jim Frame

    Can any of you pro build on Russell people express why you think that is the most preferable place to build student housing over all of the other on campus options?

    Because it’s both on the central campus and within easy walking distance of downtown.  That makes it a desirable place for students and faculty/staff to live.  Because of the convenient location and the fact that it’s on campus land, there can be restrictions on car ownership, which allows the site to maximize housing space (by minimizing parking space) and limit VMTs at the same time.

    I think it’s an ideal spot for campus housing.  I also think that Toomey Field is an excellent place for same, especially if they put an Aggie-Village-style single-family development along Russell and A, with high-rise student apartments behind it.

    I would have attended Sunday’s neighborhood meeting to express my opinions, but I was out of town.  🙁

    1. Grok

      Thanks Jim, I appreciate your perspective. I think these same factors make it a very desirable place for the fields – centrally located to campus and town, easy to get to on foot or by bike. These fields are very well used as is for a wide range of activities. These fields are a very central feature to the town and the University. 
      If there were no other places to put campus housing, then I would be more likely to agree with you, but I see that there are many, many other good options so it seems much less desirable to develop here and change how this valuable resource is used.
      I think the only point I strongly disagree on is the idea that this would be a good place for Aggie Village style family development. This seems like a less desirable outcome. There would be so few houses created in such a central place if it were developed that way it would transform a vibrant resource used by 10s of thousands every year to a marginal small neighborhood at the town side entrance to the University.

      1. Matt Williams

        Grok, with the student housing oriented toward the western side of the campus, all with easy access to the Rec Center and the expansive Bernie Sanders intramural fields, one has to wonder whether the fields adjacent to A Street  aren’t an artifact, like the arm of a hydra.



        1. Grok

          Actually more than 3/4s of students live off campus so the Russell fields are better located for many students. Plus these fields are used for manyother types of events.

        2. ryankelly

          Matt, I believe that they plan to build a building for instructional space, not housing, on the field facing A Street – another desperate need on campus.

        3. Matt Williams

          Grok, why are the south of Russell fields better suited to those activities than the east of LaRue ones are?  How are the south of Russell fields more accessible for the off-campus students than the east of LaRue ones are?

        4. Grok

          Fields at UCD are used for a wide range of functions and often have multiple events at the same time. Having fields in multiple locations better facilitates having multiple events at the same time.
          There are also several specific advantages to the fields along Russell:

          Proximity to the memorial Union Buss Terminal
          Proximity to the core of campus and MU area
          Proximity to central east and south Davis
          Proximity to the fraternities and sororities who hold events on the fields
          Proximity to Toomey field and Hickey Gym facilities

        5. Matt Williams

          Grok, you presented only one side of the comparison.  Here is the other side.  Now compare and contrast them.

          Proximity to the Pavillion Structure and Silo and Tercero Dorm Bus Terminals
          Greater access to campus parking (both surface lots and Pavillion parking Structure)
          Proximity to West Village and west Davis and better access for north and far East Davis via Hutchinson exit of 113
          Proximity to the Tercero Dorms and Colleges at La Rue who hold events on the fields
          Proximity to Activities and Recreation Center and ARC Pavilion and Aggie Stadium facilities

        6. Grok

          Matt, I agree with all of your points, but it just shows that both are good places for the fields, and my conclusion is there should be fields in both places, like there is now.

        7. Matt Williams

          That makes sense if there is sufficient demand for (use of) all five fields . . . Dairy Road Field, Hutchinson Field, Russell Field, Howard Field, and A Street Field.

          To get an answer to that question I will reach out to Matt Fucile, associate director of Campus Recreation to find out what the relative usage levels are for the five.

  14. MAli

    I think UCD should build but I think the city should build too. I think we should do peripheral development because its easier than disrupting exiting neighborhoods and infill should be limited to where it is compatible with existing neighborhoods. Of course Measure R makes this impossible which is why I think we need to do away with it.

    I found it interesting that people who live in the least dense part of Davis flipped over housing being built on Russell fields. It shows you what happens when density that is good in theory meets neighborhood reality. We find this opposition to density in every neighborhood so then if people don’t want increased density they need to look at opening up the periphery as an alternative.

    I realize my view is unpopular with the limits to growth crowd but you asked for my opinion. If you start with a fresh perspective on not saving every acre of land adjacent to the city peripheral development solves many local conflicts.

  15. Jim Frame

    If you start with a fresh perspective on not saving every acre of land adjacent to the city peripheral development solves many local conflicts.

    But it creates bigger problems, like neighborhoods that will see a car used for most trips for services and activities, neighborhoods that don’t feel a strong connection to the downtown, and neighborhoods that cater to wealthy buyers rather than providing workforce or student housing.  The idea of annexing outlying land to build “executive homes” (the kind favored by developers because of the high markup) instead of encouraging UCD to put dense small-a affordable housing on Russell and Toomey Fields seems very short-sighted to me.

    1. Frankly

      neighborhoods that don’t feel a strong connection to the downtown

      Excuse my French, but what in the hell does this mean or have to do with anything?

      1. Jim Frame

        Excuse my French, but what in the hell does this mean or have to do with anything?

        The downtown is the civic and cultural center of town — the conceptual town square.   Having a tangible town center encourages people to get out of their cars and Barcaloungers and be a part of a community.  It’s the antithesis of the L.A. model, where strip malls spaced along (or, in many cases, not spaced at all) 6-lane boulevards provide the closest thing to a communal gathering place.  Davis can, if it chooses, remain a compact city with a single identity instead of becoming a bunch of isolated housing developments interspersed with cookie-cutter commercial areas.

        Or, if you prefer (thanks to Google Translate):

        Le centre-ville est le centre civique et culturel de la ville – la place du village conceptuel. Avoir un centre-ville tangible encourage les gens à sortir de leurs voitures et Barcaloungers et de faire partie d’une communauté. Il est l’antithèse du modèle L.A., où les centres commerciaux linéaires espacés le long (ou, dans de nombreux cas, pas espacés à tous) boulevards 6 voies fournissent la chose la plus proche d’un lieu de rassemblement communautaire. Davis peut, si elle le souhaite, rester une ville compacte avec une identité unique au lieu de devenir un tas de lotissements isolés entrecoupées de zones commerciales l’emporte-pièce.

        1. Ron

          Jim:  I like your points regarding sprawl.  But, if anyone comes after my “Barcalounger”, it’s war!  🙂

          (Actually, I use a campground-type recliner.)

        2. MAli

          Covell Village is closer to downtown than most of West Davis is to downtown or Mace Ranch is farther from downtown than Covell Village for that matter.

          When I was born there was 3 1/2 billion people in the world and now there are over seven billion. Davis can provide space for more people. We have the resources and without Measure R we have the space. We can provide thousands of people opportunity and education the proven path upward if we simply get out of the way. We should get out of the way.

        3. Grok

          Jim, I think your points about the nature of peripheral development and the vitality of the civic core are spot on. There are plenty of other easy to find examples besides LA as you can see the consequence of large peripheral development on failing downtowns across the country. This is absolutely why extensive new student housing needs to be built on campus, preferably closer in to the core. I just disagree that the fields on Russel are the best place when there are other good options.

        4. MAli

          If you give up on your downtown and build too much commercial on the periphery like Fresno or Woodland it can hollow out your downtown but if you do it right and only add commercial development on the periphery that can be absorbed by the economy without hurting the downtown then it can be done successfully. Economists can tell you how much more commercial space can be added as the community grows without undercutting existing demand.

          Of course peripheral development raises new challenges but these are manageable. As for Davis subsidizing UC’s development plans UC has been subsidizing Davis’ development plans for the last 100 years. UCD pumps billions of dollars a year into the local economy and provides all sorts of benefits to the local economy. The idea that the city shouldn’t bear some of the costs of hosting UC denies the symbiotic relationship between the city and the university.

          I do agree that Russell Fields is a beautiful and welcoming open space buffer between the university and the town and like so many other places isn’t a good place for infill. Where I differ is the idea that only the University should grow. I feel both the University and the city should grow to accommodate the new people who want to come here for education and opportunity and the easiest way to do that is to grow with infill where appropriate but also with peripheral growth where needed.

        5. Jim Frame

          Jim… Does San Francisco have a town square?

          Despite having been born in SF, I’m not all that familiar with the city, but based on size alone there’s not much point in trying to compare it directly with Davis.  (SF is its own county, for Pete’s sake.)  However, for the most part SF has avoided the strip mall effect, and has what amount to many “town squares” comprising central business districts for the adjacent neighborhoods.  These commercial areas are large enough to provide most of the services needed on a daily basis, save for municipal functions that are probably mostly centralized.

  16. Eileen Samitz


    I appreciate you posting your opinion because it helps explain your comments. Based on what you have said  you seem to be pro-growth inclined, you do not support Measure J/R, and apparently you seem to not mind paying for the infrastructure costs and City services for UCD’s housing needs in the City. So I better understand your position on this and other residential growth issues. So we can just say that this is why will agree to disagree on the UCD housing issue, and likely other issues related to growth. We just have different opinions.

  17. Frankly

    I agree with MAli but I am not pro-growth, I am anti-no-growth, and anti-NIMBY, and anti-farmland-moat… and quite disgusted with about half of the people in the town that mooch off the benefits of having UCD here while giving that institution the middle finger on student housing and tech transfer business space needs.

  18. Ron

    Frankly:  “and quite disgusted with about half of the people in the town that mooch off the benefits of having UCD here while giving that institution the middle finger on student housing . . .”

    Some might argue that it’s the other way around (that the University had been giving the city the “middle finger”, regarding its unstated expectation that the city shoulder the burden/cost).  Fortunately, it appears this is starting to change.

    1. Adam Smith

      Some might argue that it’s the other way around (that the University had been giving the city the “middle finger”, regarding its unstated expectation that the city shoulder the burden/cost).  Fortunately, it appears this is starting to change.

      Ron –  to  quote you from an earlier thread –  ” good luck with that argument”.   Without UCD, Davis is Dixon, Woodland or Vacaville.   The value of the student base to local businesses, the value of UCD to the local business enterprise as a whole, and the difference in housing values between the cities  overwhelms any argument that can be made regarding the cost to the city of providing a portion of the housing for UCD students.


  19. Ron

    Adam:  ” . . . overwhelms any argument that can be made regarding the cost to the city of providing a portion of the housing for UCD students.”

    Existing residential units within the city already provide the majority of housing for current UCD students.  Unlike the University’s land, most land in the city has already been developed and is occupied.  Attempting to accommodate the University’s plans with large-scale infill will have significant negative impacts on surrounding neighborhoods and streets, and will likely be met with a great deal of resistance. It will also result in a less-convenient/safe location for students.


  20. DavidSmith

    It seems to me that some people in Davis see a growing UCD as a problem than an opportunity.

    In my opinion, there is no fundamental difference between Davis and Woodland, or Dixon, or any nearby town, had not there been a UC campus in town.

    If I remember correctly, UCD had only a few thousand students in the 60s. Now it has a student body approaching 30 thousand. I would assume that the majority of these students are living in the city rather than on-campus. So the question is, has the City of Davis prospered in the last 50 years or has it withered?

    The answer seems pretty clear to me. And it would seem very reasonable to me that we should appreciate the great things that UCD has brought to the city, and seize the opportunities that a growing UCD will bring.

    1. David Greenwald Post author


      I would say a growing UCD has challenges in terms of housing and land use issues but also comes with opportunities for both additional students as well as the broader community.

      1. DavidSmith

        Absolutely DavidG. Opportunities come with challenges. In tackling the challenges, the community grows. I just don’t find it a great idea to shovel the challenges to someone else’s door while wanting to reaping all the opportunities.

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