Proposed Letter to Acting Chancellor on LRDP

ucdavis-campus(Editor’s note: The following is the proposed Davis City Council Letter to Acting Chancellor Ralph Hexter on the Long Range Development Plan).

While the City of Davis and UC Davis have separate jurisdictions and missions, we share the common fundamental value of providing for a safe, healthy, accessible, and prosperous community. The UC Davis Long Range Development Plan for 2017-2027 (LRDP) represents the single most critical opportunity for UC Davis to appropriately plan for the needs of anticipated university growth. The City believes that the scope of what has been proposed to date in the LRDP is not sufficient to meet the projected growth of the university and, if left unchanged, will have substantive negative impacts on the community we share.

The City Council of the Cityof Davis hereby requests that UC Davis incorporate into the LRDP substantial additional on-campus housing units and housing density, and provide clear definition of non-residential space increase needs and how those increases will be accommodated on-campus. Specifically, the City requests that UC Davis provide for a minimum of 100 percent of the projected enrollment of all new incoming students starting with the 2017 academic year and at least 50 percent of total UC Davis campus student population in the LRDP. The City further requests that UC Davis develop an accompanying construction and financing implementation strategy to ensure the delivery of these units and facilities in a timely manner. The importance of these requests is further illustrated by the attached Resolution adopted by the City Council on December 20, 2016.

The City of Davis places tremendous pride and value on the relationship that we hold with UC Davis. We are appreciative of the engagement of campus staff with our community, our city staff, and our City Council LRDP subcommittee. The discussions over the last few months have allowed for greater understanding of both campus and community needs and have resulted in several positive adjustments and resolution of key issues of importance to the community on the LRDP. For example, in recognition of the shared community resource they represent, UC Davis has committed to remove all construction from Russell, Howard, and Toomey Fields and retain those fields for community and athletic use. Furthermore, UC Davis has expressed its commitment to cease master leases of apartment units in the city and has agreed to evaluate connectivity to the Nishi site. These outcomes illustrate that tangible and positive evolution of thinking can come from discussion and partnership.
We do not make the above LRDP requests without a sound recognition that the City has responsibilities in this partnership as well. The City has been and remains committed to doing its part to provide for the full and diverse breadth of housing needs in our community, including, but not limited to seniors, affordable housing, accessible housing, families, workforce housing, as well as student oriented housing. The Cannery, Grande, Chiles Ranch, Villages at Willowcreek, Paso Fino, Mission Residences, Berry Bridge, and Del Rio Place projects are all currently under construction. Both the Creekside and Cannery affordable apartments are under way. The City is also committed to reviewing new high density apartment proposals, such as Sterling and Lincoln 40, as they come forward. Collectively, the above projects represent over 1150 dwelling units. Although the initial attempt at the ballot did not prove successful, the City Council remains committed to working with the property owner and UC Davis to determine the future possibilities for the Nishi site.

While the City understands the campus perspective in putting forward the current “90/40” LRDP housing proposal, the City must evaluate it in the context of our commitment to provide for the full range of community housing needs. With the City’s continuous consideration of proposals to meet the wide range of community housing needs, it is crucial to recognize that the role of the City in the provision of housing fundamentally differs from that of the University. Where the City reviews proposals for development of private property and does not ultimately control where and when those proposals will be made to the City, the University of California controls its own fate of on-campus growth, construction, funding, and timing. To that end, the City firmly believes that UC Davis has a responsibility to both plan and deliver the infrastructure, units, and facilities necessary to support its anticipated growth and to do so with creativity and adherence to sound land use planning and sustainability principles.

While the City will be prepared to submit formal comments in response to the LRDP EIR Notice of Preparation when released (see draft LRDP objectives table presented to the City Council on December 6, 2016), we believe that it is of crucial importance for UC Davis to afford additional time for proper campus consideration and integration of these requests. This opportunity should be afforded before UC Davis releases an EIR Notice of Preparation – a step that will practically be (and will certainly be perceived as) a final position on the LRDP project scope. Absent the on-campus housing increase and delivery strategy noted above UC Davis should work with the UC Regents to reduce the UC Davis enrollment growth allocation or timing thereof.

If the current schedule for LRDP release and Notice of Preparation (NOP) remains unchanged, the City and community at large will unnecessarily be forced into taking formal positions in the context of a CEQA prescribed process. Based on the current direction of UC Davis on the LRDP project description, UC Davis should expect extensive community and City comment during the scoping period and later during the Draft EIR comment period. This will likely lead to a highly protracted LRDP and CEQA process. If it is “schedule” that is driving the current timeline for the LRDP release, that schedule may be better served by affording the opportunity for campus incorporation of the City requests up front. Maintaining and fostering the relationship between the City and University is of paramount importance to the ongoing health and prosperity of our collective community. We respectfully request UC Davis withhold the impending release of the draft LRDP and NOP to provide the opportunity for UC Davis to appropriately consider the City’s requests contained herein.

Additionally, in parallel with the LRDP, the City believes that it is possible to develop a framework for a partnership that recognizes our mutual needs, as well as limitations in the face of the anticipated growth at UC Davis over the coming decade. We sincerely want to achieve a framework where both entities can best support one another and ensure desired outcomes with ongoing monitoring. The City is committed to working with UC Davis to develop such a framework in the months ahead.

We thank you for your prompt and serious consideration of these matters.

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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  1. Misanthrop

    “Absent the on-campus housing increase and delivery strategy noted above UC Davis should work with the UC Regents to reduce the UC Davis enrollment growth allocation or timing thereof.”

    You want Davis to go on record opposing enrollment increases at UCD. An idea that will be seen as dead on arrival by anyone outside of the Davis bubble.

    “Collectively, the above projects represent over 1150 dwelling units.”

    Wow, 1150 units while UCD has grown how much and has plans for seven thousand more students over the next 10 years. Just the new faculty and staff from the growth should require 2300 units. Davis is really stepping up and at this rate we can still expect the housing supply demand imbalance to grow worse over time. Of course no need to worry about that when we are accentuating the positive and telling others to forego the education of future generations so that Davis can preserve its bucolic view sheds of almonds and tomatoes, its sclerotic growth policies of its aging citizenry and its neurotic interference in its neighbor’s home improvement policies. Davis: keep it bucolic, sclerotic and neurotic.

  2. Tia Will

    There is another option which would preserve both the preferred ( clearly by the majority of voters) slow rate of growth of Davis and the needs of a rapidly growing university.

    Chancellor Katehi had seen a path forward in the consideration of again bifurcating the campus to locate the World Food Center at the Railway Yards in much the same way that the university chose to move the entire medical school to the site of UCDMC an act which did not devastate either the university nor the city.

    For me this is just another example of binary thinking. There are those who prefer finger pointing at the university for not providing all of its own housing needs. There are those who prefer finger pointing at the city for preferring a slow growth model. It seems to me that what is lacking, and that the City Council is now attempting to bridge is how to think beyond a simplistic “it’s the other guys fault” model to a true collaborative path. Perhaps new leadership at the university will help in this regard…..when it arrives in the form of a new Chancellor.

  3. Edison

    In response to misanthrop, I’ll reiterate a few of the comments I made last night in response to Chamber Fan, with a few changes.

    There is no legitimate reason why 50% of UCD students should not be housed on campus. This goal would put UCD on par with the current LRDPs at other UC campuses, and/or LRDP revisions under way. Given the massive recent growth resulting from UCD’s self-imposed (i.e., not mandated by UCOP) “2020 Initiative” and the additional growth contemplated in the LRDP, housing only 40% of total enrollment on campus will result in a higher number of students seeking rental housing in Davis and beyond between now and 2027.

    Keep in mind that according to UCD’s own data, 10% of students are now driving to campus from towns such as Woodland, whose residents have complained to Assemblyman Dodd about the impacts of more students living in their town. And, as Interim Chancellor Hexter said to the Regents in November, having that many students commute to campus works against the university’s climate impact and sustainability goals.

    Asking for campus enrollment growth to be moderated if these measures don’t occur is indeed a valid position for the City of Davis to adopt, and is not unrealistic. It has in fact happened at another UC campus. A citizens group successfully sued UC Santa Cruz (UCSC) because the enrollment growth was overwhelming the town.  The result was a Comprehensive Settlement Agreement whereby UCSC will curtail enrollment growth whenever the percentage of students housed on campus is likely to drop below 50%. The agreement was executed among the citizens group, the City of Santa Cruz, the university and the Board of Regents. I believe UCSC is currently moving portable residential units into a parking lot as an interim measure while construction is completed on new campus apartments in order for the 50% threshold to be maintained.  This same 50% target is in the proposed Davis resolution and letter is prudent. It is only fair that if UCD aims to bring thousands of new students to our area that it does its fair share to provide them with on-campus housing.

    As for the number of housing units absorbed in Davis in recent years, please consider this. Except for Santa Cruz, Davis has the smallest population of any UC host city. According to UCD stats, there’s almost 35,000 students on campus this fall. And, according to State of CA Dept of Finance, there was just about 68,000 people were living in Davis in January 2016. That means the number of students is more than half of the town’s population.  I feel confident in guessing that is a much higher ratio than exists in any other UC host city.

    Our town simply does not have the resources or infrastructure to continue absorbing more students, when in fact UCD has many sites that could easily absorb the type of high density housing that is being build at other campuses. Such on-campus housing, conveniently located to classrooms and lecture halls, would greatly reduce the need for students to commute to campus and afford opportunities for students to achieve the goals of “connectedness” and interaction that previous iterations of the new LRDP promoted.

    Anyone who wants to see what a progressive campus is doing  should look at the video of the excellent presentation given to the Board of Regents in November by the UC Irvine administrators. It made the preceding presentation given by Interim Chancellor Hexter and Associate Vice Chancellor Ratliff look pathetic (which it was).  About 44% of students now live in attractive and popular campus villages at UCI, and the university’s goal is to soon reach 50%. On top of that, the rent per student is far less than surrounding areas in expensive Orange County.

    It’s not the City of Davis and its residents who are in any way being unprogressive or inattentive to the needs of students seeking an education to make them competitive in a modern economy. The true fault lies with UCD’s inability to fulfill past student housing goals going back to the 1989 MOU with the City of Davis and the targets set by the Regents in its November 2001 report, “UC Housing for the 21st Century.” I believe the draft resolution and letter proposed by the City Council LRDP Subcommittee is a great attempt to rectify UCD’s past shortcomings. And, like Tia, I believe it will put the City and UCD on a collaborative and mutually beneficial path going forward.


  4. Misanthrop

    “Asking for campus enrollment growth to be moderated if these measures don’t occur is indeed a valid position for the City of Davis to adopt, and is not unrealistic.”

    If you think so go for it. The rest of California with its 38 million people disagree.

    1. Ron


      I really don’t want to engage in an argument, but I understand that a lot of the enrollment growth is due to the university’s pursuit of out-of-state, non-resident students.

      Again, I always find it strange that you’re not more interested in asking the university to mitigate the impact of its plans, on the city.

      I would not presume to know what 38 million people think about this, or even whether or not this should make any difference regarding what the city does.

  5. Misanthrop

    UC and particularly UCD under Katehi sought to mitigate the loss of revenue from the state by bringing in out of state full pay students. When Californians all over the state reacted negatively to in state kids getting displaced by out of state students UC sought to mitigate that impact by admitting thousands more in state students. Davis is feeling the impacts of these mitigations now. Asking UC to delay enrolling these students is a non-starter. You can waste your time doing so if you want but the pressure on UC from all over the state to admit these students is so great that your efforts will not get you anywhere.

    1. Ron


      I believe that you’re referring to the $25 million incentive that the UC system (as a whole – not just UC Davis) has been promised, to increase in-state enrollments.  (I understand that in-state enrollment had been dropping throughout the UC system prior to that agreement, and UC had been threatening further reductions.)

      Regardless of the origin of students, I would think that few would be opposed to encouraging the university to provide more on-campus housing. (Especially those who claim to be concerned about housing for students and others.)



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