Guest Commentary: Housing is Our City and Campus’ Shared Responsibility

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Affordable Apartments, Davis CA Davis Vanguardby Jim Gray

The debate and dialogue about housing availability is once again alive and well in the community of Davis.  It is probably one of the most important policy debates and one of the most emotionally charged conversations that we have as a community. As an observer and participant in the discussions for more than three decades now, I believe that we have allowed the policy debate to get framed in a false narrative. The new framework for debate makes the following assertions “The University is not doing their fair share and the solution to meeting Davis’ housing needs should focus on campus.  We wouldn’t have a housing problem if the campus weren’t growing and if the students would just live on campus.” That is the current refrain that I don’t believe is supported by the facts.

As our housing crisis becomes more acute, I find this admonition not very constructive and not offered in the spirit of collaboration, shared responsibility or partnership. Two weeks ago, I attended the City Council meeting in which representatives of UCD reviewed their updates to Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) for the Campus. The council chambers were filled with folks wanting to voice their concerns about proposed housing on the Russell fields (UCD has since abandoned that concept) and with numerous folks who blamed the housing crisis that we face on the University. It was interesting to watch how the debate is being framed as “merely a campus problem”. To me, that is clearly not the case. The solution needs a change of direction by the City and an increased focus by the University.

Words matter and the current narrative only focuses on a portion of the equation rather than providing the basis for a solution. It is a bit like saying: “Do as I say, not as I do.” Or said another way, “Don’t imitate my behavior, but obey my instructions.”  The problem with an inadequate supply of housing is a community and campus problem that will need the University, the City, the private sector and non-profits to accept shared responsibility and work together to come up with solutions. I believe the questions to better frame the conversation should be “What can the City of Davis and the University each do to better address the situation?” What can be done to stimulate more investment in rental housing within our community?” Good partners and willing collaborators meet their mutual fair share and hold one another accountable and lend a hand to one another to achieve a shared objective. Aligning policy objectives to meet unmet housing needs should be the goal. We must acknowledge our current strengths and weaknesses and take action independently but together to meet tomorrow’s needs!

At the Council meeting, the City Planning Staff and the City Council reviewed draft recommendations to the proposed Long Range Development Plan.  One of several City preferences related to housing is as follows “UC Davis should commit to more aggressive accommodation of on campus housing commensurate with anticipated growth and to balance community wide housing needs (such as: 100% of first year students and 50% of student population, or more desirable vacancy rate of x% translates to y units) [1] The conversation did not yet lead to a clear pledge of what the City Council proposes to do to increase supply within the City as well.  I believe the City Council needs to commit to update our General Plan, similar to what the Campus is doing, and needs to zone a sufficient number of sites for multi-family housing!

I thought that it would be illustrative to offer an analysis (see chart) of the number of apartments that have been built in Davis or on Campus in the last decade (since January of 2005) to add some facts to the conversation. I think that numbers will surprise most readers.

I developed the list from a proprietary third party database that tracks the apartment market and from personal market knowledge.  This data includes multi-family rental projects, and does not include “for sale” town houses, condominiums, or assisted living senior facilities such as Carlton Senior Living, nor does it include campus dormitories. In an effort to fact check, I sent my preliminary information to the Planning Department at the City of Davis and to the Campus Planning and Campus Real Estate Departments asking that they check my initial numbers for accuracy and I then received their comments, suggestions, and corrections. I have done my best to provide accurate information, and take full responsibility for any oversight or errors.

Gray-1216-Table-1

Of particular note is the fact that the Campus has provided on their land and in public private partnerships 61% of all apartment units built and 68% of all bedrooms built since 2005!  The City of Davis has encouraged and stimulated, primarily through their policies which obtained land dedications and various exactions associated with earlier developments, 407 units and 747 bedrooms of affordable housing for 34% of total new apartment construction.  It should be noted though that most if not all of the “affordable housing eligibility requirements” prohibit student renters. Also, note that only 5% of the units are “market focused” within the City of Davis.  That amounted to only 56 units and 175 beds. In other words, less than 5 units per year for the past dozen years have been market rate.  Not one market rate project has been built in Davis since 2006!  When I describe “market units,” they can be for students, individuals and families who seek rental housing choices within our community.  They are not income restricted nor are they exclusively for students.  That being said, we are aware that there are a several potential projects in the works, each one of them trying to perfect zoning, address CEQA issues, as well as neighborhood concerns, including Sterling, Lincoln 40 and Trackside.

Gray-1216-Chart-1

So what can we do?  We have a Campus that is going to grow to serve the needs of the citizens of California and those yearning for higher education from around the globe.

Clearly, UCD was relatively successful in delivering units since 2005. I think we should acknowledge their efforts and encourage them to do even better.  Today their pipeline for additional housing is not filled to meet pending needs.  The evolving LRDP is planning to “densify” many areas where student housing now exists.  They should remain focused and committed to creative approaches to deliver their fair share of student housing. Their efforts and results should be applauded. The Campus seeks to support the academic enterprise, enrich community life, and create a sustainable future, and it is not their intention to destroy the character of our or their community. Being housing developers is not their core mission but one of a myriad of responsibilities that they have.

That said, their challenges are significant.  It should be noted that providing housing for students is only a small portion of the construction that the Campus has to plan for and develop. Other Campus demands for capital and investment includes additional classrooms, lecture halls, laboratories, offices, and additional educational infrastructure.  The Campus also has to focus on delivering faculty and staff housing as well, which they are working on at West Village.

Furthermore, it is worth noting that on campus housing development is filled with additional challenges, including complex land leases, lack of adequate infrastructure, some locations that are removed and isolated from other aspects of the community, and current residents who are in very old units with low rents who want to keep their rents “so low” that the housing would be built at a significant economic loss or more likely not built at all.  Clearly it is complex and to any observer that studies the situation with and open mind, there are a myriad of conflicting public policies.

One of the solutions that the Campus is offering, which I hope is only a very short term solution, is asking nearly 700 students to “double up” at West Village.  I believe that this encourages overcrowding and results in less privacy, and is at best a short term fix.  I believe that it will trigger many unintended consequences.  How many upper division students want to share a bedroom?  If they are forced to do so, will that diminish their college experience?

I believe it is very important that the City of Davis (residents, voters, and Council Members), recognize that we are not doing our fair share to provide rental housing opportunities for students and other community members.  I believe if we want to insist that the University provide housing for 50% of the students then our City Council, Planning Commission, and City Staff need to accept responsibility, be collaborative leaders and show how we are going to be a “true partner” and provide for our 50% share as well!  We have to face the facts that we have created too constrained of a supply to meet our community’s existing and future needs.  We have an outdated General Plan that has not provided an adequate supply of housing choices for today or for the future.  We are mired in controversies and impacts related to spot zoning and have triggered neighborhood concerns by failing to plan for our future.

We have seen “mini-dorms” sprout up and exacerbate neighborhood concerns.  We have seen neighbors in old east Davis and near Rancho Yolo and now even College Park react negatively to proposed apartments near them. We have reached a point where the regulatory restrictions are limiting the ability of the market and of apartment and housing developers to deliver a new supply.

The University is an easy target to criticize, but the facts from 2005 to today show that 723 units were built by UCD, whereas only 56 market rate units were built in the City Davis.  Nearly 13 times as many apartment units were built by UCD rather than by private developers in the City of Davis.

We should be proud of our accomplishments as it relates to the difficult task of providing subsidized affordable housing. But matters have gotten so far out of balance that we are now building 7+ affordable units for every market rate rental in the City of Davis.

To me the issue going forward is how do we create high quality market rate rental units?  We need to quit blaming the University for our growth problems and instead join them in trying to leverage opportunities and find solutions.  Anyone who has been to Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, San Diego, Philadelphia, and Boston and looked at the mixed-use rental housing getting constructed there and in other University communities as well, knows that market rate rental housing can bring great choices and amenities to our community.   In many ways, better planning and more density can lead to environmentally preferred alternatives.

Let’s change the narrative.  Our community, the City of Davis and the Campus, have a problem.  We need additional rental housing.  Let’s figure out what we can both do to address the situation.  Let’s work together to provide opportunities and increase the available supply.  Our neighbors, our children, and the citizens of California will thank us if we make good choices and work collaboratively.

Jim Gray, CCIM / LEED AP is a Senior Director at Cushman and Wakefield Commercial Real Estate.  He has a degree in Housing and Community Development from UCD.  He has been a resident of Davis for 41 years and was one of the developers of the Northstar Subdivision, and is a partner in the Arlington Farms Apartment Development.  Gray was a member and Chair of the Yolo County Planning Commission.  He chaired the first Affordable Housing Task Force in Davis and he was founder and chairman of Davis Community Housing, now CHOC. 

[1]City of Davis Staff Report City Council Subcommittee on UC Davis’ Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) Activities Update December 6th 2016, DRAFT LRDP Interests Framework , City Preferences

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66 thoughts on “Guest Commentary: Housing is Our City and Campus’ Shared Responsibility”

  1. Tia Will

    Hi Jim

    First, I appreciate the attempt at a fact based presentation especially the table. However I would note that your analysis fails to present some relevant facts and almost immediately veers into a bias based on your profession in the third paragraph where you diverge into the characterization of slow growth advocates from a pro growth prospective. Pointing out what you see as the flaws in the other sides thinking without balancing with potential shortcomings in your own may be effective, but is hardly demonstrative of the collaboration you say we should be seeking.

    So what are the facts I believe you are omitting ?

    1. A comparison of the difference in percentage of students housed by UCD to that of  every other UC campus. This I believe provides a marker for what the campuses can achieve objectively when housing is prioritized as opposed to being primarily left for the surrounding communities to address the unmet need.

    2. When you quote the number of housing units on campus to those provided in the community what is omitted from your analysis is that the university is obliged to house only students, while the community obligation to house includes all members of the community.The city is now being forced to accommodate both those affiliated with the university as well as those not affiliated. This is clearly not an equal burden. As such, what the university is essentially saying is “You must take care of all of your housing needs…..and whatever percentage of our housing needs, based on our unilaterally determined desire for rapid growth, that we do not choose to house.

    “I believe it is very important that the City of Davis (residents, voters, and Council Members), recognize that we are not doing our fair share to provide rental housing opportunities for students and other community members.”

    Here is a second weakness that I see in your argument. You are claiming objectivity, but the you make the assertion that the city is not doing its “fair share”. You do not however define fair share, given that there are other ways of assessing fairness such as by comparison to what other campuses are providing, or as compared to the totality of housing need, not just percentage of students, please share what you are defining as “fair share” given these additional considerations.

    Now Eileen stated yesterday that there was “no reason” that the university could not meet a higher percentage of their housing needs. She is much better versed in these issues than am I so I do not know if this is an accurate statement of not. There may be good reasons from the university perspective. However, I do know that it has not  been and probably will not prove productive to pretend objectivity while carrying on with the same subjective analysis and essentially name calling ( hypocrisy by inference) as is found in your third paragraph.

    1. Frankly

      1. A comparison of the difference in percentage of students housed by UCD to that of  every other UC campus.

      So what?  Davis voters didn’t squeal about it before.  It is what it is today.   The ONLY reasonable discussion is what to do about it.   Jim makes an excellent point that UCD has actually put more effort into trying to address the housing shortage than has Davis.   Davis has become all puckered up.

      The first step here is to adjust the Davis paradigm.   The old stasis types don’t accept change.   But the growth of the university demands change.

      The paradigm shift for the people living here is that the city they thought they would retire in will be bigger and will the region.   No problem for them really… they either learn to accept it and roll with the changes, or move somewhere else.  There are plenty of small cities through-out California and the nation that don’t have large and growing state universities in them.

      When you quote the number of housing units on campus to those provided in the community what is omitted from your analysis is that the university is obliged to house only students, while the community obligation to house includes all members of the community

      Davis has a shortage of rental housing for non-student residents too.  Davis hasn’t built enough housing in general over the last 20+ years, but rental housing is severely constrained.   You can keep blaming the university, but that will not solve the problem of there being a severe shortage of rental housing in the city.

      1. Tia Will

        Frankly

        The ONLY reasonable discussion is what to do about it.”

        With this sentiment I agree. However, I do not think that it is wise to completely discount past experience which is frequently relevant to the current conversations. Your statement that Davis voters didn’t “squeal” about it in the past would seem to imply that there is no room for consideration in how we got to this place when considering how best to improve the situation. Seems more than a little short sighted to me.

    2. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > Now Eileen stated yesterday that there was “no reason” that the

      > university could not meet a higher percentage of their housing needs.

      Since Tia has said her daughter works for a school I’m betting she will be able tell her Mom that there are MANY reasons that both her school and UCD don’t have more housing (unless Eileen knows about the union housing genies that UCD is keeping locked up so they won’t build free housing there are a MANY of reasons why UCD does not build more housing)…

  2. Misanthrop

    “So what are the facts I believe you are omitting ?”
    “1. A comparison of the difference in percentage of students housed by UCD to that of  every other UC campus.”
    Isn’t the 40 % number the number that UC agreed to and has consistently used, but failed to achieve, for several decades. Now people want to move the goalposts and demand even more on campus housing possibly setting up the next generation of Davisites to ask for 60-100% when UC fails to get to 50% in the future.
    One thing that seems to be lost in the demands for higher on campus housing rates is the historical relationship between the university and the city and how that has changed over the last few decades.
    UCD for many years let the locals prosper by focusing on the academic mission while letting the locals build the off campus housing infrastructure to support that mission. While many argue that UCD has lots of undeveloped land so does the surrounding area. Davis has the ability to develop some of that land just as the university does but chooses not to. UCD will build more but what about Davis? We could have been building a combination of student housing and suburban single family homes for the associated staff and faculty all along. Its not like UCD ever stopped growing. The change has been on the city side where Davis pretended that if the city didn’t grow the university wouldn’t impact the city. Its as if at some point Davis decided it was no longer going to be a community that prospered as a result of its proximity to a UC campus. This is especially odd in light of the assets and resources Davis would have without UCD. As UCD has continued to grow but Davis has not shouldered its share Davis has been the victim of its own fantasies that it could remain frozen in time and it will continue to struggle with fiscal shortfalls and density conflicts until it does what is needed to restore the traditional mutualistic relationship between UCD and the city that was lost to the slow growth/no growth philosophy of the last 20-30 years.

  3. Tia Will

    Misanthrop

    UCD for many years let the locals prosper by focusing on the academic mission while letting the locals build the off campus housing infrastructure to support that mission”

    I genuinely do not understand how you see not building the housing either that they themselves had promised nor meeting a standard found acceptable to every other UC equates in your mind to “letting the locals prosper by focusing on the academic mission while ‘ letting the locals build ….”.

    How do you believe that UCD “let” the city build housing ?  Are you proposing that creating a driving need based on one’s own unwillingness or inability to house is synonymous with “letting” anyone do anything ?

    1. Misanthrop

      You need a longer timeline Tia. If you go back to when Davis went from farm to independent campus my statements become true. UC built some housing as the campus grew but left much of the development to the private sector off campus. Its only since Davis started opposing growth while the university kept growing that the market became unbalanced. Before those dynamics took root Davis grew in tandem with UCD as the university needed and the premium for living in Davis relative to surrounding communities was small or nonexistent.

      1. Tia Will

        Misanthrop

        I can see your point using the timeline that you have chosen. However, I see your focus on this particular timeline as rather arbitrary. My statement that the university did not fulfill its promise of 40% housing is also historically correct. I do not know your feeling about this portion of the timeline, but Frankly seems to want to jut forget about it and only talk about where to go from here. Although I am not in business, my question to you and Frankly would be, are you likely to trust a business associate who has not kept his promises in the past and take on the attitude, “Well, that’s ok, I will just have to take up the slack myself since I know that he may not come through based on past experience. I wonder how long most business people would continue to essentially “make up the difference” for an unreliable associate.

      1. Chamber Fan

        Okay.  But we haven’t established a baseline for what the university should provide.  Let’s say it’s 50 percent since people are arguing for 100/50.  Since 2005, it appears that UCD has provided more than twice the amount as the city has.  So the problem seems to be that the city hasn’t kept up with their share for the last decade, rather than the university.

        1. Grok

          Chamber Fan, what is being suggested is that UCD do like other UC’s and strive to house 50% of the total enrollment by the end of the LRDP, and 100% of enrollment increases as the enrollment increases happens. If you are using that as the baseline, then UCD has achieved no part of that baseline.

        2. Chamber Fan

          Yes, I’m aware of what is being suggested.  What I’m suggesting is that in your ideal or goal, the city is still responsible for between 40 and 50 percent of housing for students.  In the last decade, has only provided 5 percent according to Jim’s stats.  To me, that’s part of the problem.  And there are consequences for that problem.  I’m not opposed to the university providing more housing, but the city needs to as well.

        3. Ron

          Chamber Fan and Misanthrop:

          You ask what the “city should do”.  I’ll give it a shot, from my own perspective.

          First, I wouldn’t necessarily assume that the city “should” change its plans to accommodate unilateral, draft plans made by UCD.  I also wouldn’t assume that the city “should” respond by approving massive, rent-by-the-room megadorms in locations that aren’t well-suited for it, as discussed many times on the Vanguard (not just by me).

          The city “should” prioritize its own goals and interests, especially the impacts that such proposals would create for the city’s existing 67,000 residents.  (Of course, some of those residents already live in the city’s more than 10,000 apartments.) The city’s goals and interests includes consideration of SACOG “fair share” growth requirements (both now, and in about 3-4 years from now – when new requirements are established).

          Overall, I’d suggest that the city adhere to sound planning practices, and not “jump” (make bad decisions) in response to UCD’s draft plans.

          I won’t have time to engage in nonsense on the Vanguard today, so have at it.

        4. Grok

          “Yes, I’m aware of what is being suggested.  What I’m suggesting is that in your ideal or goal, the city is still responsible for between 40 and 50 percent of housing for students.  In the last decade, has only provided 5 percent according to Jim’s stats.” – Chamber Fan

          Chamber – yet again you seem to be willfully misunderstanding. The university states a goal of housing 40% of total enrollment. The City is considering asking the University to house 50% of total enrollment. Currently UCD only houses about 29% of total enrollment.  The University is going to have to build for more than 100% of enrollment increases to get to their stated goal.

        5. Chamber Fan

          Not misunderstanding, just disagreeing.  I don’t support 100/50.  I support 90/40.  Second, I don’t believe they will get there in one round of the LRDP – I’m okay with that as long as they improve on their current record.

        6. Grok

          Chamber fan, if you support 90/40 then UCD is not doing nearly enough. UCD is currently only providing 29% of its student housing. To bring that up to 40% they will need to build much more student housing than the city does, especially with the proposed enrollment increases. If you look at my post farther down with the link to the graphic from the Interim Chancelors presentation to the Regents you will see that UCD is still not planning on coming close to closing the gap on its housing needs.

    1. Tia Will

      Chamber Fan

      the city of Davis is the one not doing its share”

      I would say that this depends on how one defines ” doing one’s share. Since an agreement was made by the university to house 40 % of their students which was not fulfilled, then I would define this as the university not doing its “share.”

      This is part of the problem that I have with the finger pointing statements without any acknowledgment that both sides have responsibility for the current situation. I also am unaware of any agreement on the part of the City of Davis that they would provide for 60 % of the housing including the rapid growth planned between now and 2020. If I am in error on this point, would someone point it out to me.

      So if I am correct,  then what we essentially have is the university not meeting its own agreed upon obligation, and those who promote rapid growth expecting the city to meet any unmet need, even those that were incurred with no consultation by the university alone.

  4. Eileen Samitz

    Since Jim Gray is a long-time developer and realtor is not hard to understand that his point of view is not going to be like an average Davis resident. Also, it is not hard to understand his position since he is a partner with Tandem Properties in Arlington Farms Apartments in Davis which has many “master leases” with UCD to reserve those apartments for student housing.

    First, “master leases” are seriously detrimental to the City because deprives needed property tax from our City because any property rented or owned by UCD off-campus is exempt from property tax. So, these apartment complex owners like Mr. Gray who “master lease” apartments to UCD do not need to pay the property tax on these units that they lease to UCD like at his Arlington Apartment complex. It is no wonder that Mr. Gray is advocating to build far more apartments in the City since it is even more profitable for him to be granted free property tax for every apartment he rents to UCD.

    Second, “master leases” further enable UCD to continue deflecting its massive housing needs on the City is yet another detrimental outcome of “master leases”.

    Third, while UCD is reserving many apartments in our City instead of building the needed on-campus housing for its own accelerated growth, this further lowers the vacancy rate and making it harder for families and our workforce to access rental housing in Davis.

    What Mr. Gray has also not mentioned in his extensive Op-ed is that the City of Davis has been providing 60%-70% of housing for UCD students for years. No one is saying that our community is not expecting to housing UCD students. The problem is the fact that UCD has failed to fulfill its promises for decades to provide the needed on-campus housing in pace with its aggressive increase in student population growth. Davis has over 10,000 apartments, so the problem is not a lack of apartments. It is a problem of UCD’s negligence for almost 3 decades in not producing the promised on-campus housing to support its own growth. Compounding this is UCD’s is now massive and accelerated growth due to former Chancellor Katehi’s aggressive “UCD 2020 Initiative”.

    UCD is currently only providing somewhere between 27%-29% housing which are primarily freshman dorms providing housing for only one year, rather than apartment housing them the entire time they attend UCD. Yet, UCD continues to try to deflect its enormous housing needs on Davis and neighboring communities, when UCD has so much land. UCD, with 5,300 acres is the largest UC, but historically has provided the least amount of student housing. UCD’s self-directed and non-mandated “UCD 2020 Initiative” plan to increase revenue for UCD is adding 5,000 more students by 2020 by extracting triple tuition from 4,500 non-resident students. Yet, UCD is not providing the housing for this avalanche of students that they are wanting to bring in.

    Meanwhile, almost all of the other UC’s are committing to providing at least 50% on-campus housing while UCD is going only trying for 40%, yet it is the largest UC with over 5,300 acres. It is also notable that out of all the UC’s, UCD has historically provided the least amount of on-campus housing. Apparently, they are trying to continue that practice which is why it is important that City needs to make clear that UCD needs to step-up to provide far more on-campus housing for its own ambitious growth. UCD’s LRDP is proposing adding at least 7,000 more students within a decade, but they are not planning enough on-campus housing.

    UCD’s inaction to provide its needed on-campus is not fair to their students, and not fair to the Davis or neighboring communities. UC Irvine is providing 44% on-campus housing for its students and building 2 more (3 are completed) high-density popular student housing projects with American Campus Communities. Meanwhile UCD is still stalled at Orchard Park being closed for two years and apparently will not be redeveloped for four more years in 2020. If UC Irvine can achieve the needed on-campus housing for its growth, and so quickly, why can’t UCD?

    So, while UC Irvine and other UC’s are quickly racing towards the finish line of providing 50% on campus housing (UC Irvine will have 46% by 2019) while UCD is still standing at the starting gate since it is taking them at least 6 years to even reopen Orchard Park apartments. Worse yet, the proposed plan for Orchard Park so far is only a lower density plan as compared to UC Irvine’s efficient and sustainable higher-density housing to produce more units.

    Finally, it is commendable that the City is starting to respond appropriately by raising concerns about UCD’s inaction for years and their lack of cooperation to address the student housing problem that they are creating for the students, Davis, and surrounding communities.

    1. Chamber Fan

      Eileen:

      So does that mean that Jim Gray’s view is invalid?  Also, doesn’t he primarily if not exclusively build commercial rather than residential property?

      1. Ron

        Chamber Fan:

        Apparently, you didn’t read even the first paragraph that Eileen wrote, regarding Jim Gray’s involvement with apartments and master leases.  You can decide for yourself, if that involvement causes you any concern.

        1. Chamber Fan

          Also a lot of apartment and rental housing owners oppose new development – Jim Kidd and Dan Dowling – for example were opposed to Measure A.  Why?  Because it would have been more competition for their existing housing.  So there is by no means a certainty that partnership or ownership leads to pro-growth sentiments.

        2. Eileen Samitz

          Chamber Fan,

          Jim Gray’s bio at the end of the article points out his co-ownership on Arlington Apartments which is the entire point of what his bias is since he is directly benefiting from the master leasing he is doing with UCD which he profits even more by. On top of that the City is then denied the much needed property tax.

        3. Grok

          That is pretty bold for one of the owners of a master leased apartment complex to write an op-ed saying the University should not build more housing – some one who specifically and directly stands to loose if UCD goes forward with its proposed policy of doing away with master leases on apartments in the City.

          1. Don Shor

            to write an op-ed saying the University should not build more housing

            He didn’t say that.

            Clearly, UCD was relatively successful in delivering units since 2005. I think we should acknowledge their efforts and encourage them to do even better. Today their pipeline for additional housing is not filled to meet pending needs. The evolving LRDP is planning to “densify” many areas where student housing now exists. They should remain focused and committed to creative approaches to deliver their fair share of student housing.

        4. Grok

          Fair enough, but the subtext of this article that appears in the context of the council taking up the issue of asking UCD to build more housing, is that UCD is doing enough, and Davis needs to do more.

          1. Don Shor

            the subtext of this article … is that UCD is doing enough

            He doesn’t say that. Three misrepresentations so far this morning. You’re on a roll.

        5. Grok

          No Don, just because you can tuck your comments in at moderator level suggesting that they are some how worthy of moderation does not make your interpretation more accurate than mine. For all of the authors platitudes, the actual focus of the article is on what the City needs to do and not what the University needs to do.  Further, the author goes on to make excuses for the University’s poor performance

          “It should be noted that providing housing for students is only a small portion of the construction that the Campus has to plan for and develop.”

          “Other Campus demands for capital and investment includes additional classrooms, lecture halls, laboratories, offices, and additional educational infrastructure.”

          “The Campus also has to focus on delivering faculty and staff housing as well, which they are working on at West Village.”

          “on campus housing development is filled with additional challenges”

          “complex land leases”

          “lack of adequate infrastructure”

          “locations that are removed and isolated from other aspects of the community”

          “current residents who are in very old units with low rents who want to keep their rents “so low” that the housing would be built at a significant economic loss or more likely not built at all.”

          “How many upper division students want to share a bedroom?  If they are forced to do so, will that diminish their college experience?”

          Other campuses are overcoming all of these excuses that the author offers and are moving to provide housing for 50%

          The subtext of this article, is that UCD is proposing to do enough.

           

          1. Don Shor

            Yes, the focus of his article is on what the city needs to do. That doesn’t justify your direct misrepresentations. You can use the term ‘subtext’ if you like, but not as an excuse for misrepresenting his specific comments.

            just because you can tuck your comments in at moderator level suggesting that they are some how worthy of moderation does not make your interpretation more accurate than mine.

            That sentence literally makes no sense. But to address the point I think you were trying to make….my opinions as expressed on the Vanguard carry no more or less weight than anyone else’s. When I act as moderator, I do this:
            [moderator] _______
            Any other comment is just me commenting.

        6. Grok

          Don, you as the moderator have the ability to insert comments a level deeper than general users. You often express your personal opinion on that level. So what I am suggesting is you use a level of commenting that you have because you are the moderator to express your personal opinion, and when you do so, it suggests your opinion is some how moderation, especially when you state that another commenter making misrepresentations.

        7. Grok

          For all of the platitudes expressed at the beginning of this article, the bulk of the article focuses on the difficulties the author claims the University has with doing its fair share as I demonstrated above. Thus the subtext of the article is that the university is planning on doing enough. Further, this article completely fails to recognize that the University itself is choosing to increase the enrollment by more students and faster than the regents are requesting or the impacts that this fast paced increase has on the city. There can be no discussion of “fair share” until that underlying issue is addressed, and it is best addressed by the University building more housing.

          Another key point the author leaves out of this article is that for all of the Units that were built in West Village, the University failed to complete the housing that was proposed in its last LRDP, so the University actually fell behind on its own goals in the last cycle, and the city of Davis and students are bearing the consequences.

          Omission of these key facts, and the litany of excuses make it clear that the authors subtext is that the University is doing enough.

        8. Chamber Fan

          Grok: You are acting like this is a zero sum game, where the university either builds it or the city does.  I don’t think Jim Gray views it the same way.  I sure don’t.  I believe that the university has not done its part, but I don’t think the city has either.  You are free to disagree, but you should acknowledge that people can hold different opinions about the world than your own and not be dishonest.

        9. Grok

          Chamber – your comment has several issues.

          First, I am stating that the article has a subtext that the university is planning on doing enough. that is very different than claiming a zero sum game. Then you accuse me of attacking the authors honesty, I did no such thing. In fact It is my statements that are being repeatedly and unjustly attacked as mischaracterizations.

    2. Don Shor

      Davis has over 10,000 apartments, so the problem is not a lack of apartments.

      Actually, the problem is, in part, a lack of apartments.
      UCD needs to build more student housing. This is obviously a high priority.
      More rental housing is also needed in the city. We haven’t added to the rental stock for quite a while. Even if they go to 100/50, which I consider unlikely, we would still need some more apartments. This is a matter of some urgency for young adults who are trying to rent in the current constricted marketplace.
      I support your efforts to get UCD to increase their housing supply. Where you and I disagree is in your opposition to private rental housing projects.

      1. Chamber Fan

        Good point Don.

        Let’s go back to the notion of 100/50.  If the city is accommodating half the housing, then that’s half 40,000 students and then more faculty and staff.  We probably need twice those 10,000 units to provide housing for our share of the students, faculty and staff.

      2. Eileen Samitz

        Don,

        I am glad we agree on the need for on-campus apartments. The issue that is additionally important that is the long history of UCD not building enough apartments for students to transition into from the freshman dorms.  UCD has been focusing primarily on build one-year dorms without offering enough apartments on-campus for students to have the option to live on-campus after their first year.  UCD admitted to the deficiency of on-campus apartments at the last City Council meeting.

        So in addition to the backlog of apartments UCD has not provided for so many years, they need to achieve what other campuses are achieving like UC Irvine of actually moving forward with sustainable planning.  UCD needs to provide far more on-campus apartments to reduce the commuting needs of the students and the impacts on Davis and surrounding communities.

        This is especially important since it is UCD that is creating the enormous surge of student population growth with their self-directed “”UCD 2020 Initiative” which is primarily for revenue for UCD.

        1. Grok

          Eileen is right about the need for apartments, but it became clear at Council last week that the campus also needs more dorms. The campus for several years has published that they guarantee housing for the first 2 years, but at City Council last week, Bob Segar informed the Council that this year the University was not able to keep that promise to their students.

    3. Misanthrop

      Who defines the average Davis resident?

      Actually being an apartment owner is in conflict with the authors position that we need more supply as that moderates rental prices.

       

      1. Grok

        Misanthrope, that is a very limited view. If the the one advocating for increased supply, is in fact intending to be the one providing the supply, then they would also benefit from the increase in supply.  Further, in this specific case the author is arguing that housing not be built on campus, therefor limiting supply which is even further to their advantage.

      2. Eileen Samitz

        Misanthrop,

        Also, why would not Jim Gray want to build more apartments in Davis that he can just master lease out like his Arlington Apartments? He profits by with not paying any property taxes on those units, which in turn hurts the City by depriving it of the property tax as well.

        1. Chamber Fan

          Eileen you are distracting this discussion by focus on the man (ie ad hominem) rather than the argument.  WHether or not he’s biased is irrelevant if he makes valid points.  So argue against his argument not whether he’s biased – unlike a sitting councilmember there is no conflict of interest in writing an opinion piece.

        2. Eileen Samitz

          Chamber Fan,

          Quite the contrary. It seems pretty obvious that it is you distracting the discussion from a very relevant point. The author is directly profiting (significantly) by master leasing to UCD which is particularly detrimental to the City while impacting our availability of market rate apartments that he is denying access to our workforce and families needing them.

          Meanwhile, this detrimental practice to Davis of  UCD master leasing city apartments encourages UCD to continue dragging its heels on providing the backlog housing they have not yet built, as well as them not planning to build the needed additional housing for their current ambitious growth surge. Incidentally, UCD agreed to not to have growth surges in the City-UCD MOU.

    4. Jim Gray

      Eileen:  I am more than willing to have an open, factual debate with you.  I would like to set the record straight on a few matters.  

      Certainly, I am a Real Estate Developer and Real Estate Broker and I take great pride in what we do, who my clients have been and are, and in the fair and open dealings, and the service I provide to my clients and the community.  You are right I am not “an average Davis resident” but I am happy to be a Davis resident. (My wife and a few friends would gladly share a few things that I am way below average in.)  Davis and the University are both my community, and I love both of them very much, warts and all.  I didn’t realize that there was supposed to be an “average way of thinking” for Davis residents.  
      I was fortunate enough early in my career to have been an employee, and then a partner with some of the principals of Tandem.  The three primary principals of Tandem, Paul Makely (recently deceased), Bill Roe, and John Whitcombe, and their colleagues, employees, partners, and families are some of the nicest, smartest, most generous, accomplished residents of our town.  When I worked for them one of my jobs was to help with trying to get the Arlington Farms Apartments entitled, designed, built, and financed and then rented to tenants. I played a very small part and learned a great deal.  That was a complex, difficult, and risky undertaking and about 30 years ago, 138 units of apartments, a day care center, a small cul-de-sac with about 10 single family homes and a public park got built.  The Tandem owners made it possible for my wife and I to invest with them in the project and we saved and borrowed and did that. We continue to own a bit more than 3% of that project.  
      My business interests and focus have changed and I work throughout the region helping businesses and institutions with their business real estate needs.  I remain a “passive General Partner/Member” in Arlington Farms.  I read your comments about the “Master Lease” with UCD at Arlington Farms and it came as news to me. I needed to call and discuss with Tandem if this was indeed the fact.
      Apparently in September of 2011 the University and Arlington Farms entered into a Master Lease for +-60 apartment units.  This is a contract so that the University can provide “primarily transferring upper division” students with a guarantee of available housing.  This contract was mutually beneficial to the Campus and to the Landlord with the purpose of benefiting students in their housing needs.  The contract had some options to extend the availability of these units on behalf of the University. (Apparently, there are a few of these master leases in town and a couple more with other Tandem affiliated apartments.) Each and every one of these leases could be structured differently.
      According to my brief conversation with Tandem, there has been absolutely no effort made by either the University or by Tandem to remove the units from the property tax rolls. 
      I believe that you are spreading misinformation about the impact of master leases of apartments by UCD and their impact on students and upon the City of Davis (lost tax revenue).
      There are quite a number of housing affordability experts and student accessibility and affordability advocates who are actually seeking that the UC system and its Campuses seek more Master Leases.  See more here.
      http://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/minutes/2016/gb5m.pdf  

      I am happy to have an honest debate.  For you to imply that my opinion is only “self-serving” does not factor in basic and complex human motivations that also include service and contributing to and caring for one’s community. Not to mention the joy, sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that come from collaborating with others to make physical places that become community assets.  
      It is concerning to me that you are spreading misinformation regarding property tax losses to the City.  I think that the City Staff and Council should try to better understand the “real impacts” as well as implications of these Master Leases before “piling on” to oppose them.  
      I believe that as a society we are experiencing the impact of “fake news” or “false news” at the National Level.  I wanted to set the record straight.  I would welcome “fact checking” and hope you will as well in the future.

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      1. Eileen Samitz

        Jim,

        While I find it interesting that you are asking me to “fact check”, it seems like it is you who has not yet done that. I have confirmed the UC “property tax” exemptions for master leases imposed upon the City.  So, it is interesting that you seem to have no knowledge of this. Further, as you seem to be implying that a tax exemption to rent Davis property for UCD would be something the apartment property owners would negotiate to ask for. That is not the case. The property tax exemption comes with the territory of UCD leasing any properties off-campus. This is common knowledge for anyone working in real estate, particularly anyone working for any period of time in Davis, as you have, where UCD has rented quite a bit of commercial property denying the City of much needed property tax.

        So, Jim, is UCD renting any other properties with you, any of your partnerships or associations, or your firm in Davis? Or have you been involved in any negotiations regarding UCD renting or purchasing any commercial or other residential spaces in Davis? Also, are you saying that you were not aware of any UCD property tax exemption that comes with renting property off-campus?

        1. Don Shor

          PUBLIC SCHOOL EXEMPTION
          Property used exclusively for public schools, community colleges, state colleges, and state universities is exempt from property taxation (article XIII, section 3, subd. (d) of the California Constitution, Revenue and Taxation Code section 202, subd. (a)(3)). The property is exempt from taxation on the basis of its exclusive use for public school purposes. If the property is not owned by the public school, the owner of the property is required to file a claim for the Lessor’s Exemption. If the owner of the property does not claim the exemption, the public school may file the Public School Exemption claim.

          A charter school, including a charter school operating as or by a nonprofit public benefit corporation, is exempt from property tax as a “public school.” Property used by the charter school is exempt under the Public School Exemption.

          To apply for the Public School Exemption, a claim form must be filed each year with the assessor of the county where the property is located. The claim form, BOE-268-A, Exemption for Property Used Exclusively by a Public School, is available from the county assessor (or claim form BOE-263, Lessor’s Exemption Claim, if the property is leased). To receive the full 100 percent exemption for property owned or leased on the January 1 lien date, the claim must be filed by February 15.

          http://www.boe.ca.gov/proptaxes/exempt.htm#13
          My guess is that master leases wouldn’t qualify. But a quick call to the assessor’s office might get the full, and possibly more complicated, answer.

        2. Mark West

          From Don’s post: “The property is exempt from taxation on the basis of its exclusive use for public school purposes.” [emphasis added]

          “the owner of the property is required to file a claim for the Lessor’s Exemption” [emphasis added]

          From Jim’s Post: “Arlington Farms Apartments…138 units of apartments”

          ” 2011 the University and Arlington Farms entered into a Master Lease for +-60 apartment units.”

          “there has been absolutely no effort made by either the University or by Tandem to remove the units from the property tax rolls.”

          To gain tax relief from having the University lease property, the property in question must be exclusively used by the University, yet only 60 of the 138 apartments are covered by the Master Lease, so the property is apparently not being used exclusively by the University. Even if it was, the owner of the property is required to file for the exemption, yet Jim has provided the information that the owners have not done so. Consequently, we can conclude that the Arlington Farms Apartment has not been removed from the property tax rolls due to the Master Lease and Eileen is wrong with both her facts and her attack on Jim.

  5. Chamber Fan

    As I said above, a lot of apartment and rental housing owners oppose new development – Jim Kidd and Dan Dowling – for example were opposed to Measure A.  Why?  Because it would have been more competition for their existing housing.  So there is by no means a certainty that partnership or ownership leads to pro-growth sentiments.

    1. Ron

      Chamber Fan:

      Just wondering – would you care to divulge how you know so much about who the various developers/apartment owners are, and the positions they’ve taken?  You seem to know more than most.

  6. Grok

    Lets get to the point here and go right to the source – the University itself. Here is a graphic that was shown to the Regents by the UCD administrators on November 16th.  I want to make 2 points about it:

    1) UCD is currently projecting that it will provide no net new beds before 2019 but will bring in 1,000 more students in the same time frame, thus creating a surge of 1,000 new needed beds

    2) UCD is projecting a growth of 3,000 more students from 2016 to 2021 but only 1,900 new beds. Thus only providing 63% of the needed housing for new students before 2022.

    In summary, every year individually, and the complete overall time frame shown on this chart falls well short of the 90% UCD administrators promised the Council last week, and what is contained in the current working draft of LRDP.

    https://citizensplanningdavis.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/chart-showing-housing-increase.png?w=700

    Therefore I think the most important thing the Council can include in its resolution and letter are to the UC is  that new housing be built commensurate with enrollment increases.

    (Please also note that this chart claims UCD is housing 35% of students, which is demonstrably false. For reference please see the chart included in the story yesterday that was acquired by the vanguard from the UC through a Freedom of Information Act request. Please also note that Bob Segar explained that there was some sort of error in the overall % of students housed number used at the regents meeting )

  7. Don Shor

    Jim Gray has provided some very useful information here. On various previous threads, South of Davis provided dates of apartment construction in Davis. The bottom line is that very little has been built for what you might call the ‘open’ rental market for quite a number of years.

    The City of Davis has encouraged and stimulated, primarily through their policies which obtained land dedications and various exactions associated with earlier developments, 407 units and 747 bedrooms of affordable housing for 34% of total new apartment construction.  It should be noted though that most if not all of the “affordable housing eligibility requirements” prohibit student renters. Also, note that only 5% of the units are “market focused” within the City of Davis.  That amounted to only 56 units and 175 beds. In other words, less than 5 units per year for the past dozen years have been market rate.

    The city’s Affordable Housing policies don’t really lead to much affordable housing, and probably impede the development of market-rate rental housing. So they are counterproductive.

    UC needs to stop the master leases.

    The council should reconsider the affordable housing requirements and prioritize market-rate rental housing.

     

  8. Grok

    “We wouldn’t have a housing problem if the campus weren’t growing and if the students would just live on campus.” – Jim Grey

     

    I think this statement is very unfair to put the blame for the housing situation on students by suggesting the students do not want to live on campus.

     

    UCD reports West Village is 100% rented. This is despite all of the reports of how expensive it is to live in West Village.

     

    The Colleges at La Rue have been voted the best place to live in Davis 3 years in a row.

     

    Students protested the closure of Orchard Park because they wanted to keep living there.

     

    Students have protested the proposed closure of Solano Park because they want to keep living there.

     

    There is significant evidence that students want to live on campus, and that there is just not enough housing available for them on campus.

     

    1. Chamber Fan

      You’ve completely pulled that comment out of context – he’s arguing the opposite: “That is the current refrain that I don’t believe is supported by the facts.”

      1. Grok

        OK Chamber, so you agree that students would like to live on campus? You agree that there is an unmet demand for more housing on campus? Because that is what people have been actually arguing. Not this baloney straw man argument  that MR. Grey has tried to put forward.

  9. Alan Miller

    Only 5% are market rate?

    How can that even BE?  If many times the market rate available stock is “affordable”, then the market itself is vastly skewed.  Meaning there is a lower-middle-class housing lack in Davis.  The market rate gets pushed up and the “affordable” draws in lower class and the gap, as always, is lower middle class availability.

    How’s your “affordable housing” scam going?

    1. Marina Kalugin

      jee AM. .. I have been talking about this since the Nishi thing hit me in the face.. .and now you are getting it?   bravo

      only the truly destitute in the 25% out of towners brought in to fill the unneeded tenement units and the ones who are bailing the Bay area can afford to buy or rent here..

      you got it.. I think ya got IT  or whatever…

  10. Marina Kalugin

    everyone has an agenda..  some are altruistic like Eileen.  hola amiga come visit   🙂

    those who make their livings by pushing more unneeded housing too quickly .. ..some are on here yammering away.. well have a lovely day and guess what .. your agendas are getting way more obvious as the days drag on…….

    what is MY agenda.. Davis became MY town in 1970.. rather it became my town in very early 60s .. when I came up with my dad on a holiday to inspect the first married students housing unit on campus…he felt responsible to make sure the project managers et al were not cutting corners…and the construction crews could be trusted et al….

    And now my soon to be daughter-in-law owns a condo in this town with her parents and they are working in the BAY right now but heck they wanna move back.. as soon as they can..

     

  11. Marina Kalugin

    yes.  .but those units do not meet ADA and CA requirements for housing.. for ON CAMPUS owned by campus..

    The Colleges are on UC land but leased by developers and the rules are NOT the same..

    Jeez how many times do I have to spoonfeed ya all….

    It is MORE expensive when developers are involved for EVERYONE but the developers..

     

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