UCD Moves Forward with Notice of Preparation, Ignores City Requests

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In December the city council sent a letter to Acting Chancellor Ralph Hexter on the Long Range Development Plan, requesting “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 council requested 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.”

However, UC Davis has stuck with their timeline and proceeded to issue a Notice of Preparation (NOP), moving forward with the environmental review phase.  Assistant City Manager Mike Webb on Thursday afternoon confirmed to the Vanguard that the city had received no formal communication from the university in response to their request.

The university is projecting an enrollment increase from approximately 32,663 in 2015-16 to approximately 39,000 students.  Those increases would be accompanied by an increase of faculty and staff from approximately 12,181 in 2015-16 to approximately 14,500.

They note, “The 2017 LRDP population projections were developed based on foreseeable potential increases in campus population and do not include a specific timeline/phasing for implementation.”

The LRDP maintains, “The 2017 LRDP proposal would provide capacity to accommodate more than 90 percent of enrollment growth in campus housing with approximately 10 percent of students expected to continue living outside of the Davis area.”  UCD projects that “planning capacity for an additional 6,200 students would be provided on-campus in residence halls and apartments.”

The document indicates, “In addition to analyzing the potential programmatic impacts of campus growth under the 2017 LRDP, the 2017 LRDP EIR will address the project-specific environmental effects associated with constructing housing for approximately 1,625 students and 500 net new employee housing units in the West Village neighborhood.”

Written comments on the NOP can be sent anytime during the NOP review period which begins January 4, 2017, and ends February 3, 2017, at 5:00 pm.  There will be a scoping session, held Wednesday January 25, 2017, from 4:30 to 6:30 pm in Ballroom A of the UC Davis Conference Center at the intersection of Old Davis Road and Alumni Drive on the core campus at UC Davis. At the scoping session, project information can be discussed with UC Davis staff and written NOP comments will also be accepted.

This LRDP process began over a year ago, with UC Davis acknowledging in the fall of 2015 that they would be unable to accommodate all projected growth in student enrollment with on-campus housing.

By May 2016, they had refined their projection to provide 90 percent of all new students with student housing while committing to proving 40 percent of all students with on-campus housing .

The city council formed a subcommittee of Robb Davis and Rochelle Swanson and this fall drafted a letter that was approved at the last December meeting for the year.

In it, the city requested “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.”

However, perhaps as important was the request “that UC Davis develop an accompanying construction and financing implementation strategy to ensure the delivery of these units and facilities in a timely manner.”

In their letter, the council noted, “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…”

They added, “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.”

For the city, they believe that UC Davis, which did not speak at this meeting, “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.”

The council’s efforts drew an overwhelming amount of support from the community, including vast portions of it that are normally quite critical of the council and its land use policies.

However, UC Davis at the earlier presentation on the LRDP seemed ready to move from the public outreach phase to the environmental phase.  The NOP document represents their formal shift to the environmental review process with, again, no comment on the city’s requests.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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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34 thoughts on “UCD Moves Forward with Notice of Preparation, Ignores City Requests”

  1. ryankelly

    The University removed plans to build on Russell Fields.  This is a plan to build more than 8,000 new living spaces, including 500 new homes for employees.  I don’t see this a slur to the City of Davis.  I think some people are so used to getting their way that they have forgotten that their voice is not the only one.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      I fully expected – and I believe stated so here – that the university would stay the course. However, I would have expected as a courtesy, a letter to the Mayor / City.

      1. JosephBiello

        It seems the CC’s letter was delivered in late December – not much time for UC Davis to respond and you can imagine that NoP was in the works for some time.    The headline  comes across like whining about being ignored yet many of the most vocal (and I would argue extreme) concerns of Davisites were already incorporated into the revised LRDP.

         

         

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          I don’t disagree on most of that – nevertheless, I would have sent the city a letter before releasing the NOP to the public. The city and community did have some of their concerns addressed in LRDP. The city would have been better served sending a response sooner – HOWEVER, they might argue that they wanted to see the final proposal from the university before doing so.

        2. Colin Walsh

          I agree with David, whether the University changed their plans or not one would have expected the courtesy of a reply from the University to the City’s letter. It is unfortunate to see the relationship deteriorate like this.

        3. Howard P

          Clarification, David… I thought the date of the beginning of the ‘notice’ period coincides with what Segar said… the NOP can be issued that date or later, per article,

          Written comments on the NOP can be sent anytime during the NOP review period which begins January 4, 2017, and ends February 3, 2017, at 5:00 pm. 

          IF the City asked for a delay, when was that sent?  Rec’d?

          If the UCD answer was no, I’d not expect a letter saying that… perhaps it would be courteous to send such a letter, but it would have been at least equally courteous for the City to have sent their letter out in mid-November at the latest…

          Folk, stop focusing on the NOP, and focus on the opportunity to comment and/or getting the comment period extended… something about forest and trees… time’s a-wasting…

  2. Marina Kalugin

    ha ha…are ya looking in the mirror when you say that RK?

    PS>   UCD is getting reamed for not providing enough housing fast enough..

    One cannot have it both ways or on all sides..

    and wtf has the city ever done for UCD?   just used and abused..  for many a year now..

    grow up and get a f clue..  all of ya…

  3. David Greenwald Post author

    Posting this for Howard P:

    People, I think, are making too much of the NOP, at a real danger of
    not focusing on the Scoping meeting process.  There the City could
    identify/insist that to be valid, the EIR must address as
    alternatives, the %-ages shown in the City’s request, and the current
    %-age housing contributions… that’s one thought… once it is identified
    in the records of the scoping process, UC would be opening the door
    for future legal challenges and delays if those kinds of things are
    not addressed in the adopted scope of work used to prepare the Draft
    EIR.

    Put your issues together and present them in writing and/or at the scoping meeting.

    Delay of the NOP is only that…delay.  The ‘scoping’ issues/comments is where the rubber starts meeting the road…  the  scoping timeline referred to is a statutory minimum… pressure could be placed on UC to extend that time, but I suspect if there is a “shotgun’ approach JUST to delay, it will be see as such, and ignored, or given little weight if the EiR ever goes to court.

    Get involved, or don’t whine later… retitling the article may feel good to suggest, but it moves no football forward.

  4. Tia Will

    What “ has the city ever done for UCD?”

    Just housed a greater proportion of UCD students than the surrounding communities of any of the other UCs according to Vanguard reporting/comments. But I suppose that is synonymous with “used and abused” in your view. Note the use of the word “suppose” as I most certainly do not ever claim to know what you are thinking.

    1. Colin Walsh

      Let’s look a little closer at the article Mr. Biello references for some perspective. 6 of the top 7 schools are University of California schools, so this is a system wide success, not just a UC Davis success. Good on the University of California for enrolling and graduating Pell grant students. Note that UC Irvine, the school that is doing the most to provide student housing of all of the UCs is way ahead of UCD in graduating Pell grant students and ranks at number 1 on the list.

      UC Davis can house more students and continue to accept and graduate high numbers of Pell grant students.

  5. Tia Will

    Joseph

    I think that the index can also be contrasted with UCD’s comparative lack of interest in housing the same proportion of their students as are housed by many of the other universities in this list. Neither the City of Davis, nor UCD has prioritized the housing of students.

      1. Mark West

        Yes, but only the City has the supply of housing as a primary responsibility and core function. If the City was doing its job, there would be no issue.

        1. Tia Will

          Mark

          The “core function” argument was used unsuccessfully by a contingent of former and current political leaders to argue against “joint function” or “joint responsibility” for the UCD and City of Davis fire departments. This merger has proven successful as reported by the Vanguard. I think that “core function” was an arbitrary distinction which did not serve the city well. I see the claim of “core function” as being as arbitrary in the case of housing as it was in the fire department discussion. In my view, responsibility for housing lies with both the university and the city and would be best handled collaboratively rather than confrontationally.

        2. Mark West

          “I see the claim of “core function” as being as arbitrary in the case of housing as it was in the fire department discussion. In my view, responsibility for housing lies with both the university and the city…”

          You are comparing apples with orangutans, Tia.

          Public safety, including fire service, is a responsibility of both the City and the University. Collaboration between the two entities for providing this service is a fiscally smart decision, particularly in the case of fire service due to the required investment in staff, equipment, and training, in order to be prepared for those rare serious fire events. Collaboration leads to lower costs for both entities and improves the ability of both to provide their respective core functions.

          Housing, on the other hand, is different. First, the University’s primary responsibilities are research and education, with nothing in its Charter about providing housing, whereas cities only exist for the purpose of providing efficient housing and services to regional residents. Housing on campus increases the functional population of the City (the number of people regularly using City services and infrastructure) without adding revenues to pay for those incremental costs. Building housing on campus also necessarily competes for the University’s resources (land and money) with the research and education functions, thus reducing the University’s ability to provide for its core functions. The University is then forced to look off-campus for additional commercial space, further increasing operational costs for the Unversity and significantly reducing revenues for the City. The net result is that housing on Campus is a poor fiscal decision for both entities and interferes with the core functions of both. Better collaboration would be for the City to build sufficient housing to meet the needs of those working and studying at the University.

          The only reason for the University to get involved in housing at all is when the host community fails or refuses to provide sufficient options, which is the case with Davis. The problem is that we have failed to fulfill our responsibilities, both as a City and as a host for the University.

        3. Colin Walsh

          It is ridiculous to suggest that a University like UCD has no responsibility for providing housing. Whether acknowledged or not, providing student housing has long been a core function and a part of the mission of the University. In fact the “primary responsibilities” Mark cites of “research and education” cannot be performed without housing. The University of California recognizes this and is taking steps to increase housing at UC campuses with The President’s Student Housing Initiative, “aimed at supporting current students and future enrollment growth across the UC system.” Sadly UCD plans to continue to lag behind the other campuses, and worse it appears to be willing to do so with complete disregard for the Davis City Council.
           
          Davis has not “failed to fulfill our responsibilities” as Mark suggests. As the Enterprise noted in a Dec. 30 story the recent “new home boom” is “making 2016 the busiest year for construction in Davis in more than a decade.”

  6. Richard McCann

    Your story raises another issue that hasn’t really been discussed–UCD is planning on adding over 2,300 staff and faculty members. As a progressive city, we should plan on those folks residing within Davis and not commuting from at least 10 miles away. UCD is planning on 500 on-campus housing units for some of those. I can tell you that Berkeley has ZERO on-campus staff housing units, and UCLA is probably the same. (UCLA does have housing in the hills above campus, but on city land.) Davis will have to come up with almost 2,000 housing units to meet this increased housing demand, and that’s not a burden that we can expect the university to pick up, and we shouldn’t demand that UCD become involved in our local housing market.

    1. ryankelly

      There is no plan.  Much of the new staff and faculty will live in Woodland, Sacramento or various other cities and commute here, or compete for a limited supply of existing homes and drive prices up further.  Status quo.

  7. John Hobbs

    “.. UC Davis has stuck with their timeline and proceeded to issue a Notice of Preparation (NOP), moving forward with the environmental review phase.”

    Good job, U.C. Since many Davisites have never seen it before, this is how a project proceeds to successful completion.

  8. Tia Will

    Richard

    we shouldn’t demand that UCD become involved in our local housing market.”

    I believe that UCD is involved in our local housing market regardless of what we do or do not “demand”. I would take it further to postulate that not only is it “involved” but that it is a primary driver of the local housing market and has been for at least as long as I have been here dating back to 1979.

     

  9. David Greenwald Post author

    I think we finally fixed the hole that was allowing people to log in the old way – email me (info@davisvanguard.org) if you can’t log in

  10. Tia Will

    Mark

    The only reason for the University to get involved in housing at all is when the host community fails or refuses to provide sufficient options”

    I think that this conclusion might come as a surprise to the many universities both in this country and in others that do provide housing for their students.

  11. Eileen Samitz

    Sorry Mark, but UCD does have a responsibility to provide enough on-campus housing like other UC’s are. There is no reason why UCD cannot accomplish what the other UC’s are of providing at least 50% on-campus housing for their total student population, particularly since UCD is the largest UC campus with over 5,300 acres.

    It is inexcusable that UCD is continuing to try to push its enormous and accelerated housing needs off campus onto Davis and neighboring communities, particularly when their primary motivation for their growth surge is for more revenue for UCD.

    1. Howard P

      A ‘value’ judgement… will not be impressive as a scoping comment… think “impacts’… might feel good to say that, ineffective as to reality… as Dunning might say, ‘trust me on this’…

      The political game is basically ‘over’ … now it gets to facts, and impacts…

      I’m trying to give a clue to all…

  12. Matt Palm

    The analogies to Irvine raise important questions:

     

    1.  how many times have Irvine residents sued UCI to stop its on-campus construction?  I did a quick search and couldn’t find much.

    2.   Is on campus construction at Irvine cost competitive with area rents (e.g. is it not significantly more expensive to live on campus versus off)?

     

    1. Colin Walsh

      Matt, Santa Cruz currently houses the highest percentage of students of any UC at 49.5% and the University has been sued by the City it self as well as citizen groups over growth issues. The City of Santa Cruz also passed a Ballot measure  called “Ordinance to Promote Sustainable Growth by Opposing the Negative Impacts of Proposed University Growth

      The Ballot language reads:
      “Shall the Santa Cruz Municipal Code be amended to add an ordinance that promotes sustainable growth in the City by opposing the negative impacts of proposed University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) growth and by prohibiting the City from providing services to the University necessary for University expansion until the University has fully implemented mitigation measures intended to offset the negative environmental impacts that will otherwise result from that expansion?”

      On campus housing in Irvine is favorably competitive with area rents.

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