Former Student Laments Lack of Housing Opportunities


It was stark contrast to many of the commenters on Tuesday, as a recent UCD graduate addressed concerns about lack of housing and affordable housing options.  While he was appreciative about keeping the Russell Fields without housing, he lamented the lack of housing opportunities for people of his generation.

Hello my name is Seaver Klug, I got my civil engineering degree here at UC Davis and graduated a couple of years ago.  I’ve been involved with the discussions over Russell Field and their place with the LRDP in the last month or so.

I’ve done a lot of research looking into this plan.  I think it’s mostly a very good plan.  I think it is a good idea to expand the access to UC Davis to many people both throughout our country and throughout the world.  But it’s not worth losing the character of Davis and the character of open space and community that’s embodied in those fields.  So I really commend Bob (Segar), Matt and Lucas (who’s not here) – these guys for taking the time to have that opinion embedded in.

But beyond that, when I research these issues, it’s troubling.  I look into West Village, I look into Nishi, and I look at all these projects that get shot down in Davis.  I look and I look, there’s just less chance that I’m going be able – even as an engineer – at 25 or even 30, that I’ll ever be able to afford a home in Davis.

That sucks.

I want to build this place up.  How many people here are under 30?

It’s a real thing.  Why can’t this get sorted out – I don’t want to bang on the table and get indignant – but I am indignant.  People want to build things where they live and where they work and in Davis it’s just being turned into commodified student experience.  That’s on the university too, not just you guys.

Since I’ve been here in 2009, I saw my friends get pepper sprayed in the face, in a public quad for sitting on the ground and linking their arms. Because they wanted to have smaller class sizes, less tuition and more bang for their buck and influence over the place that they got to have a chance at education.

I see more and more dejection from all the people in my generation who won’t have the place to put up stakes.

But Davis is a special place.  Davis is where the first net-zero energy housing complex in the country was built – and I had the privilege to work there.  We have the Village Homes here in Davis decades before anyone else in the world had it.

I think Davis can have the next generation of sustainable and economical housing, but I’m ignorant on this issue, I’m sure there’s a lot more that I can know.  But please people of the council, people of Davis and the university – we can work together and overcome this.

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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  1. Misanthrop

    Mr. Klug I feel your pain. Thank you for speaking up for your generation. Mostly the comment was from the same old people who have homes and don’t care about people like you. But there are lots of people like you and you need to organize. I know its hard because many give up and leave like my friend Lea who grew up here but moved to a town nearby. But you are here and so are my younger friends N.R., J.K. and his new wife, the post-doc.

    I have been saying this for years. These are all young, well educated, professional, employed, tax paying, civically minded people who would like to be part of this community, own a home, have children and place them in our schools. Its shocking and disgusts me the way the baby boomers have turned their backs on these people. I don’t blame you one bit Mr. Klug for being  indignant.

    You need to take a page from the anti-Russell field people and get all your friends who have similar problems with housing and start turning out at city council meetings. You need to start writing letters to the editor and posting here. You need to start tabling at the farmers market reaching out and organizing like minded people in the community. There are plenty that are with you but they are not organized. You need to challenge the dominant paradigm. Most of all, you need to fight the renewal of Measure R, the choke hold of the landed gentry of Davis that makes having a sufficient supply of housing impossible in the city.



    1. Grok

      Misanthrop, you are wrong to talk down to Seaver. You should give him more credit. He is not some inexperienced Kid. Seaver has experience organizing, is smart and has been active in the Davis community for several years now. He did not just show up at City Council by chance on Tuesday. He has been meeting with ASUCD and UC administrators and working to help save the fields for about a month now.

  2. Tia Will

    Mr. Klug

    I also appreciate your indignation and frustration. And I agree with Misanthrop that it is a good idea to organize with people whose interests are in alignment with your own. However, where Misanthrop and I differ is that I do not see this as a generational war. What I see are many very young, bright people in your age group who have much to contribute to our community. Instead of drawing age battle lines, I think it would be more useful to realize that many of us who are now baby boomers and now own property in Davis, were walking the same path that you are now on and as such probably have a great deal more empathy for your position than Misanthrop is portraying. What I would see as a more productive strategy would be to meet with and work with those of us in the community ( and there are many) who recognize the need for affordable housing for students and all others of limited income, but who also care deeply about maintaining the positive aspects of the Davis that those of us who have stayed, and those of us who want to stay have come to love. Mayor Davis, and David Greenwald would be good places to start as both are very familiar with a large number of engaged people in our community who would be willing to meet with you or a group to discuss these issues.

    1. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > many of us who are now baby boomers and now own property

      > in Davis, were walking the same path that you are now on

      In the early 1970’s when many of the first boomers came to UCD for undergrad and grad school tuition and fees were ~$500/year the school had ~10,000 students, the city had ~25,000 people and new “Streng” homes were selling for ~$30K.  In the next 20 years the number of homes in the city almost doubled keeping prices affordable so many bought big new homes in North and South Davis for around $300K keeping their old little central Davis homes as rentals.  In 2000 the boomers decided to cut the supply of homes to increase the value of the homes they owned and it worked like magic with most Central Davis Streng homes selling for ~$600K and big North & South Davis homes selling for over $1 million (The “path” for a typical kid today with a grad degree and $100K+ in student loan debt who can’t even afford to “rent” a Davis home is a LOT different than the “path” of an early boomer who would have little if any student loan debt and could easily afford to “buy” a home in Davis (with “fixer upers” selling for under $20K in Davis the early 70’s)…


      1. hpierce

        Actually the boomers, along with the “greatest generation” , started to restrict the housing availability in the late 70’s/early 80’s, but for the same reasons…  Wildhorse, Mace Ranch, Aspen, Evergreen, Covell Park Northstar, was the eventual response… then the pendulum swung back…

        Oh… for transparency… am on the later end of “boomers”… in fact I was part of the “baby bust” year… more babies the year before and the year later…

      2. Misanthrop

        They didn’t cut the supply to increase prices but they didn’t mind when the prices increased when cutting new supply resulted in raised prices.

        I thought it was interesting that on the consent calendar last night there were many items about affordable housing. This is symptomatic of a housing market that is dysfunctional. Davis is trying to fix its broken market by manipulation instead of the proven method of addressing the supply imbalance by adding supply.

        1. South of Davis

          Missanthrop wrote:

          > They didn’t cut the supply to increase prices but they didn’t

          > mind when the prices increased when cutting new supply

          > resulted in raised prices.

          “It would be more accurate to write They didn’t ALL cut the supply to increase prices but they ALL didn’t mind when the prices increased when cutting new supply”

          I know that there are plenty of actual “tree huggers” in town who dance under the full moon every time they save a tree from a developer, but you would be surprised how many well educated “Ivy League” types have come out to tell me how happy they are that higher prices are pushing the “uneducated white trash” out of Davis assuming that since I am married to an “Ivy League” girl that I was not raised by “uneducated” parents and not knowing that I had a ’67 Camaro and that my best friend still has a ’68 Camaro Z/28 just like the “white trash” people they hate (that I would rather be hanging out with)…


          > I thought it was interesting that on the consent calendar last

          > night there were many items about affordable housing.

          It would be “interesting” if affordable housing was “NOT” on the calendar since in Davis (and throughout the state) it is a way to buy overpriced land from the well connected (who kick back part of the excess profits in campaign contributions), hire well connected planners and architects (who kick back part of the excess profits in campaign contributions), provide a lot of high paying jobs doing overpriced work to unions  (who kick back part of the excess profits in campaign contributions as well as “boots on the ground” to get out the vote) and bring in politically connected housing firms who dole out patronage jobs as well as help to provide housing for the poor who work for the rich (It is easy to get a steady flow of donations from a rich guy when you are able to provide cheap housing for his illegal $10/hr cleaning lady from Guatemala)…

    2. Mark West

      “I think it would be more useful to realize that many of us who are now baby boomers and now own property in Davis, were walking the same path that you are now on and as such probably have a great deal more empathy for your position than Misanthrop is portraying.”

      em·pa·thy (noun)  the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

      Where is the empathy? Look at your posts on this page Tia, and show where you are demonstrating an understanding of the position and feelings of young people today, rather than simply repeating your view of the world and what you want. SOD has clearly demonstrated that the fiscal situation for young families today is much worse than what you experienced 30-40 years ago, yet you ignore the information and repeat your oft-stated view that it was difficult for you too. We aren’t talking about you, we are talking about all the young students and professionals who cannot find a reasonable place to live in Davis (to rent or buy). Why, because you and your peers work to restrict the availability of housing since, as the argument goes, having more people living in Davis will impact you and your quality of life. That isn’t empathy, that is selfishness.

  3. Tia Will


    If you did not have a down for a $ 30,000 dollar home, and had no means to secure a loan, then those homes were as far out of reach for you as a home in Davis would be today.

    1. hpierce

      Ownership isn’t necessarily a good option for many folk, then or now… housing is housing… ownership is a different matter, entirely… affordability of housing is one thing… affordability of purchasing a house, quite another…

      1. Tia Will

        Agreed. It simply would have been my personal preference. And ownership is frequently what is brought up when pro growth posters here site the need for housing for young families.

        1. South of Davis

          Tia wrote:

          >  ownership is frequently what is brought up when pro growth

          > posters here site the need for housing for young families.

          Reading the Vanguard for a while I would say that “most” (Don as an example and the many that want to reduce mini dorms) are pushing for more student and worker apartments in town…

          With that said “most” young families want to “buy” a place and lock in a fixed rate loan rather than “rent” in a town like Davis where rents have gone up about 25% in the past 5 years.

  4. South of Davis

    Tia wrote:

    > If you did not have a down for a $ 30,000 dollar home, and had

    > no means to secure a loan, then those homes were as far out of

    > reach for you as a home in Davis would be today.

    In the mid 70’s you could get a NEW home for $30K and an older home for $15K.

    Today the cheapest NEW home I saw in the Cannery was $699K and the cheapest older single family home I found on Zillow was $435K.

    A couple making the minimum wage of $2/hr in 1974 would earn enough for a 20% down payment on an inexpensive home in a few MONTHS.

    A couple making the minimum wage of $10/hr  in 2016 have to save every penny they made for over two YEARS to get a 20% down payment on an inexpensive Davis home.

    P.S. With the cost of UC tuition under $500/year back in the mid 70’s not a lot of people had student loan debt vs today so for just about everyone homes in Davis are WAY farther out of reach then they were in the 1970’s and Davis…


    1. Tia Will


      My point was not to quibble about the exact amount of money. My point is that if you do not have whatever amount of money is needed, you cannot purchase. You then have a decision to make. You can choose to rent, thus not having that money to save for an eventual purchase, or you can choose to rent  or buy somewhere less expensive or double up with others in order to save for an eventual purchase. These options exist today just as they did when I was here 30 years ago.

      And yes, I understand that the absolute amounts are quite different. The principle remains the same.

      1. Marina Kalugin

        Mrs W.   the issue is that what Davis is doing is not serving the NEEDS of Davis…

        It is serving the wealthy and developer/realtor/contractor/plumbers etc..

        It is bringing in the ones who cannot afford to buy in the Bay and those who cannot afford to pay for an apartment in the cheaper areas outside of Davis.

        It is clogging the roads and not providing for our children and their children..

        I was the ONLY staff member in years to own a house in Davis..

        It is because I bought in 79 when I was a re-entry student.

        Most STAFF live in Dixon or Woodland…. only faculty and only TWO income Faculty are now able to afford the median house in Davis…

        forget it ….even if TWO MD/PhD STEM ENGINEERING or BUSINESS or LAW can they get anything but the cheapest

        EVEN with the MOP program.

        nada anywhere in the core….nor anywhere within decent walking nor biking distance….

        nada if they are not in STEM….even with BOTH spouses…..

        those who HAVE money like the interim chancellor and his spouse and the interim provost and spouse, move into the Countryside…

        Until recently I couldn’t afford a shack in the country….and so on..

        The issues are VERY deep and it includes more and better collaboration with TOWN and GOWN…

        An ancient term developed in the 20s?

        With LK and JM we had it ….na da now…

  5. MrsW

    I am pro-planning, pro-environment, and pro-youth.  And because our town is so stuck — here is my position:  Any housing is good housing.  Not in 20 or 30 years, but NOW.  Yes In My Backyard.

  6. Tia Will


    “Any housing is good housing”

    That seems like a very inclusive statement. But I am wondering about your position of a few specifics.

    Do you favor the development of more mini dorms ?  These certainly would constitute more housing.

    Do you favor people who are living in their own homes being required to rent out rooms that they are not using to students ?  That would represent a significant number of additional beds for students in private homes. For example, my son is renting out two rooms of three currently and seeking a roommate for the third unused bedroom.

    Did you favor housing components for the “innovation parks” ?

    Did you favor Nishi ?

    This is not intended sarcastically or critically at all since I do not know you and usually find your comments very well thought through. It is just that when one makes such a broad, sweeping statement as “all housing is good housing”, I cannot wonder if it may not be a little overly broad.

      1. South of Davis

        And after pointing out to Tia who said “those homes were as far out of reach for you as a home in Davis would be today.” that in the mid 70’s you could buy an inexpensive home for what a couple making minimum wage earned in two (2) years while today it would take a couple earning minimum wage over ten (10) years to earn enough to pay for the cheapest home in town we didn’t get her admitting she was wrong, we just got her talking about forcing people to rent out rooms…

        1. Tia Will


          You got much more of a response from me than just “forcing people to rent out rooms”. You are just not choosing to acknowledge that. What you also do not acknowledge is that when we “plan by exception” we are “forcing people” to accept changes that are deleterious to them just as forcing someone to rent out rooms would be considered undesirable to them, or living next door to a mini dorm is unacceptable to others. I believe in respecting existing guidelines unless there is an overwhelming community need for the plan in question. I do not consider “luxury apartments” to be a necessity worth going outside the guidelines for. Others can certainly disagree.

    1. MrsW

      I feel like an extreme position on housing is necessary to get us unstuck. I hope that checks and balances exist so the extreme doesnt occur. I absolutely favor Nishi and beleive Nishi is a case where “engineering solutions” to our concerns are both available and appropriate.  Sometimes too much faith is put in engineering solutions; it doesnt need to be the case here. With respect to mini dorms and multiple unrelated adults living in the same house–both are happening willy nilly now. The question is how to give ourselves releif from any negative consequences. They arent going away. But we do need to adapt, accept more traffic if neccesary and so forth. Thats what we need to do to be welcoming.

      If we want an age-diverse community, for our adult children to be able to live here and raise our grandchildren, who will attend our schools, we need to have housing for them. We need to start saying yes. The UC plan wont be implemented for years and years. There is no shovel ready project. Its like Korematsu being built after the Mace Ranch children had graduated high school. Its not really helpful. It just sounds like it is.

      1. Tia Will


        Thanks for taking the time to post a thoughtful response. I had intended to put one more item on my list but forgot.

        I am in favor of considering some “out of the box” thinking. I would like for the city to consider an area for “mini houses”. A couple of months ago, there was a demonstration of student designed mini houses at the ARC. Many of these would be the kind of housing that would be student appropriate, require minimal land, could be utilized individually or clustered and would free houses such as the one my son is now renting to students for single family use. Of course this would not be a panacea, but it would be a creative way to open new options.

        1. MrsW

          I agree that the mini houses are a good idea, as a place to start. What needs to happen first, are policies that both permit and encourage the creation of housing, including mini housing (can I rent thr RV space on the side of my house?). What if the next General Plan included “districts” for transitioning some single family homes into multi family homes or mini dorms? What if the City provided neighborhoods with the opportunity to organize and designate themselves as a transition neighborhood? Could such a designation be created, so it could be turned into a finacial advantage to landlords in those districts?

        2. South of Davis

          Tia wrote:

          > Many of these would be the kind of housing that would

          > be student appropriate, require minimal land

          But they would still require FAR more land (and cost FAR more per unit) than a typical studio apartment.

          A three story zero lot line ten (1o) unit downtown studio apartment would use about the same amount of land as two (2) to three (3) “mini-homes” that would fit on the site.

          Nothing wrong with “mini homes”, but they are not an efficient way to fit a lot of people in a small space.


        3. Frankly

          You see, this is what gets my goat about you (and a few other people holding your same views) Tia… you advocate for mini houses and oppose multi-story apartment/condos while also opposing most peripheral development because you say it is sprawl and conflicts your your car-less utopia vision.

          What would the FAR be for mini houses verses a 5 or 6-story apartment or condo development?   It would be as minuscule as would be their closet space.

          We must build out or build up.  It is completely ridiculous for you to use a mini-house idea as a tactic to deflect from the well-documented fact that you oppose significant and reasonable housing development in your back yard.   You don’t say no to everything, but you are damn close to owning that distinction if we simply eliminate the things that you say you are for that lack complete feasibility in the real world.

  7. Tia Will


    Obviously you believe that it was. I am considered by some here to be a NIMBY. And yet…..

    1) I live one house away from a mini-dorm and have three other student co-ops on my street as well as a largely student apartment building. I chose my house knowing that all of these were there and thoroughly enjoy my community. I know that some find mini dorms unacceptable. I do not. But I certainly respect their preference for another solution.

    2) All of the rooms ( one currently unoccupied) in the house in which my children were raised are rented out, usually to students by my son who occupies one room. Some find multiple students in a traditionally single family neighbor undesirable. I do not. But I respect their right to their own feelings and my son works directly with the neighbors when concerns arise.

    3) I favored the Nishi project ( which had both senior and student supporters working side by side)

    4) I have stated publicly repeatedly that I would have favored Trackside if it had included student housing which I believe that we do need instead of luxury housing which I see as just that, a luxury, not a need.

    5) I favor the Olive Drive project ( pending mitigations) and remain neutral at this time on Sterling.

    6) I favored combined live /work strategies on the “innovation parks”.

    So no. It was not sarcastic or critical. I do not favor “all housing”, but prefer to assess the relative merits of each project separately balancing community vs individual wants and needs. My enquiry was to check in with MrsW who I do not know to see if she meant this literally, or what her specific boundaries are.


      1. Tia Will

        Nice, but how is this a solution for the lack of student housing.”

        1) Acceptance of mini dorms in one’s neighborhood certainly provides more student housing.

        2) Rental of rooms in one’s own home for well under market value provides affordable housing.

        3) The Nishi project which I favored would have provided student housing.

        4) Lincoln 40 is specifically geared towards student housing.

        5) Housing on site at the innovation parks would presumably provided more housing choices thus, I am told freeing up other housing in town for students.

        So how does this not pertain to addressing the need for student housing ????

        Or perhaps you were not addressing me with this comment and I just over reacted, my apologies.

  8. Marina Kalugin

    we managed to save the domes and yet it is not costeffecive for UCD to build more domes or tiny houses

    I am involved now with a new nonprofit in Sac area… the investor bought my Davis house….. it is being flipped…..

    With those funds they run their own NONPROFIT>…they  give work to those who are homeless etc.

    They FUND their own nonprofit and do not take any TAX breaks as the official nonprofits are too much trouble.

    I sold my Davis house as on my retirement pay we could not afford the monthly expenses of water et al.

    And, do to many reasons, including the woodbridge house abutting the yard, we have NO LIGHT and no way to have solar…

    I now have 10 acres outside of Davis …within 20 minutes of MY office….on campus.

    It is going to be the model experimental and so on farm we neighbors came up with for the RICCI farm..

    It will have housing in the nature of tiny houses  and the many things we proposed for Ricci.

    I am one of the few neighbors left ….tooo many died and too many are very sick.

    If ya are interested in anything I keep writing about….feel free to contact me.

    Also the name of the company which is an Ukranian and other Slavs company in Sac.   one of their arms is known  as KAVANAH…

    If you want to actually learn about the things you all jabber about……you can visit me on FB

    Marina Kalugin….

    that is where my agendas are exposed and promoted.

    I only go on here to see what the minions are up to….


    In my family late 80s are considered very young…..only those who drank the fluoridated water or smoked their whole lives died so young… I am trying to stay alive and keep others alive…. but so far the complexities over ride my ability to stay where the docs are better…and so on….

  9. Marina Kalugin

    NO ON A …NO ON NISHI>>>>too many toxins in the air and in the damn soil….it was cropdusted for a few decades.  TOXIC>>..

     same as RICCI….many of us are now dead or sick….too many …. too young. got it yet?

  10. hpierce

    Here’s an alternative… with a single communal kitchen, and study area, downplaying personal possessions, perhaps 3000 units of these could pass muster with the no/low growth folk…

    Thinking INTO the ‘box’ if you will… it solves the basic need for shelter, but is a tad ‘spartan’… but some would assert that is a good thing, as too many are wedded to having ‘things’… a two-fer…

    Oh, and it is a concept ‘proven’ elsewhere in the world, for years…

  11. Tia Will


    Tia… you advocate for mini houses and oppose multi-story apartment/condos “

    Absolutely not true. I was in favor of Nishi. I was in favor of housing, presumably including multistory apartments/condos as workforce housing on the “innovation centers” had we moved that direction. I have come out in favor of the Lincoln 40 and am undecided with regard to Sterling. You are basing this erroneous claim on the fact that I have and am opposing the luxury apartment development that is part of the Trackside project due to its noncompliance with current zoning and design guidelines and the fact that I, as repeatedly stated see “luxury units” as just that, a luxury, and not as fulfilling any city need.  You know that this is all true, and yet you continue to misrepresent my position for reasons that frankly, because I am, I cannot fathom.

  12. Tia Will


    What if the next General Plan included “districts” for transitioning some single family homes into multi family homes or mini dorms? What if the City provided neighborhoods with the opportunity to organize and designate themselves as a transition neighborhood? Could such a designation be created, so it could be turned into a finacial advantage to landlords in those districts?”

    I think that these are ideas that have merit. There are a number of people who post here who say that they favor housing but do not seem to feel that their neighborhood is the right location. It is easy calling others NIMBY while being unwilling to make accommodations in one’s own neighborhood, or on one’s own property for that matter. I would think that a collaborative effort between the city, developers and willing neighbors would be far more beneficial than the current processes of presentation of plan without initial collaboration with neighbors, followed by push back, followed by a seemingly endless contentious process as the proposal wends its way through the commissions and CC.

  13. Tia Will


    There was a point in my life where this type of arrangement would have had a lot of appeal to me. I have shared rooms on a number of occasions that did not have much more room than these pods with the rest of the apartment being communal space. But then I am an avowed minimalist and do not think that these would have wide appeal here.



  14. Marina Kalugin

    my lovely Davis house which backed up to the RiCCI farm now known as Woodbridge…..could have been VERY easily converted INSIDE to add TWO bedrooms….and even another bath.

    and not even make a single change which would need city approvals..

    LEAVE the garage intact and so  on….no changes to any exterior walls etc.

    Only the extra bathroom would need permits.

    For a while I was going to rent it out…and my younger son would live and have roommates….too many other things happened

    My neighbors begged me not to rent it out….unless my son lived there also..

    Finally, I decided I wanted less stress and sold it to a developer….I first tried to see if any of our new faculty or staff would like to “upgrade”…..and na da..

    It was of course, SoDA   within fume distance of the car dealers and the fast food joints.

    It was gutted in a day…and will be soon on the market for nearly $200K more than I walked from..

    It is NEVER about the money folks…it is ALWAYS about what it right and decent.

    Some folks from the Bay Area will pay cash….and love it… will my neighbors   cya

        1. Marina Kalugin

          perhaps some new rules were passed when I wasn’t looking but heck in many many cities around the town, county, state and country…..  there are “unpermitted” upgrades and that is part and parcel of the construction in those towns.  SF in particular has an inordinate number of “unpermitted” additions… so do the foothills….in most cases it is not an issue until one wants to sell…and if one never wants to sell, those “improvements” are not caught nor was anyone concerned…  times change and etc…but it still holds that unless there is a change in ownership… is not even a point of contention….

          in any case, putting up some additional interior walls is one of those things which is least likely to be an issue….and can easily be removed upon sale……


  15. Marina Kalugin

    PS>   glad to see some others admit to overreacting some times also… he he…..I was thinking I was the only one able to admit it…   🙂 of this bunch anyway……

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