My View: Divided Opposition to Sterling?

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Sterling Apartments – original proposal

Much of this week, we have been assembling some data on the housing situation in order to better analyze the proposal for Sterling, which is now slated to go before council in just ten days.

In the meantime, we now have a better idea of the nature of the agreement between the Rancho Yolo Community Association (RYCA) Board of Directors and the Dinerstein projection team.

But what is also clear is that the negotiating team does not speak for everyone.

An email dated February 21, from Gerald Hallee of Rancho Yolo to Robb Davis, Brett Lee, Josh Vasbinder (representative from Dinerstein) and Mike Webb (Community Development Director) states, “The Rancho Yolo Community Association (RYCA) Board of Directors has voted to suspend its opposition to the Sterling 5th Street Apartment Project based on the proposed February 13, 2017 Dinerstein downsizing of the Project.

“The project size and density are to be reduced from 4-, 5-, and 6- story structures to 3- and 4-story structures, and from 801 bedrooms (727 market-rate and 74 affordable units) to 609 bedrooms (540 market-rate and 69 affordable units),” he writes.

There are some contingencies here.  Those contingencies are mainly technical and in fact he notes, “In fact, nearly all items listed in Attachments 4 and 5 have been accepted. The remaining few items can be managed while Dinerstein and the City finalize the agreement and prepare the re-design packets in preparation for the March 22 Planning Commission meeting.”

There are four points, though, that they list:

  1. The planned Pole Line Road striping enhancements as designed by K. D. Anderson should be re-considered. We ask for a meeting with the appropriate City staff and K. D. Anderson to review the plans and to determine just how the striping enhancements will provide a safer left turn from South Diameter onto Pole Line Road.
  1. We ask the City of Davis to commit to a full review of the plans for improving traffic circulation on 5th Street between L Street and Pole Line Road. The review should encompass a very careful analysis of the impacts associated with the City’s proposed reduction of automobile lanes to one in each direction. See our comments and recommendations in Attachment 5.
  1. We ask that the City of Davis commit to the review of the Sterling Project as a package that would include the affordable housing component. The review would present the entire Project to the Planning Commission on March 22 and then to the City Council on a date to be determined. With this approach, we believe it will be more likely that the Planning Commission and the City Council will approve the agreements reached during discussions among the RYCA Board, Dinerstein, and City representatives over the last several weeks.
  1. Davis has a rich tradition of public art that significantly enhances the enjoyment of the downtown core. However, public art on the sides of buildings runs contrary to the idea of the Sterling project blending into the community. In fact, it does the opposite by drawing considerable attention to the building. Public art located on the ground and of reasonable height should satisfy local artists in the sense that their work would be displayed. We strongly oppose public art on any of the Sterling buildings.

Despite this, there remains opposition, both in the community and in Rancho Yolo itself, to the development.

Earlier this week, the Vanguard received a letter from Marjorie Beach, who also spoke two weeks ago at the Planning Commission reading:

“I am writing to inform Vanguard readers of the continued opposition of Rancho Yolo residents to the ‘Revised’ Sterling Project proposal.  In no way are we now ‘happy’ with the project, nor are we dropping our opposition to it,” she writes.  “The project is basically planned as a large student dorm – without the important amenities and support system that an on-campus college dorm has.”

She continues: “Such a situation is a recipe for a pretty miserable experience – both for the dorm students and for the surrounding neighborhood.  Such a large project – and the dorm-like type of project – should be situated immediately adjacent to or on the UCD campus.

“Rancho Yolo lies in the midst of many 1,2, and 3 bedroom, mostly student-occupied apartment complexes.  These are not incompatible with our community of approximately 260 single-story, single-family homes,” she writes.

“A massive project such as Sterling, occupying a small parcel of land, is not compatible with the neighborhood or with the General Plan.  Sterling’s size, its character, the increase in congestion it would contribute to an already busy (and getting busier, with newly built and/or approved projects in the area) [intersection]– all of these factors request a No vote from our City Council at its April 18th Meeting,” she concludes.

Claudia Krich, who also spoke at the Planning Commission meeting, writes, “It was a surprise to learn, only after Planning Commissioner Marilee Hanson confronted them directly, that they actually do not manage their developments at all. They build them and flip them after one year, while dishonestly claiming longevity.

“Affordable? When asked if they subsidize or otherwise reduce the cost of any of their dorm rooms to make them more affordable, they said they don’t need to, because the five-bedroom suites rent for ‘only’ about $800 per room, as opposed to their two-bedroom suites, which are ‘around’ $1,400 per bedroom. That’s per bedroom,” she writes.

“Thus the five-bedroom, five-bathroom suites at $800 per bedroom cost $4,000 for 1,550 square feet per month. The kitchen seats two people and the bedrooms average 10-by-10 feet. What students would find this affordable?” she continues.  “The developer’s representative insisted that these dormitories are also fine for families, since a family could live in a two-bedroom suite. That’s $2,800 for 821 square feet per month, and the two bathrooms are accessible only through the bedrooms. What family would live there?”

She adds, “One fully equipped bathroom per every bedroom. Why did we let our lawns die? The developer will offer ‘smart meters.’ But only after again being confronted directly did he admit those are purely ‘informative.’ All utilities, including water and electricity, are included, meaning there is no incentive to save.”

The Vanguard believes there needs to be an evidence-based approach here.  As noted at the outset of this piece, we have been trying to assemble actual data.  But we believe the city needs to assume a part in this and figure out just how much in the way of housing for students we actually need.

One final point, there has been much made about family versus student housing – as someone pointed out to me this week, that is a false dichotomy.  The reality is that both are intrinsically linked together.  Lack of student housing puts pressure on family housing options, because students end up encroaching into single-family homes in search of housing.

The stories laid out by the two student representations at the Planning Commission meeting (see here), should be sobering for the community.

Does that mean that the council should approve Sterling?  That will be their call.  We just want any decision – yay or nay – to be based on actual data rather than conjecture.  That frankly should start with a student housing needs study, but there seems to be no traction on that issue.

—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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78 thoughts on “My View: Divided Opposition to Sterling?”

  1. Mark West

    “We just want any decision – yay or nay – to be based on actual data rather than conjecture.”

    The 0.2% vacancy rate is not conjecture.

  2. Ron

    We’ve been over these issues, too many times to count.  The Vanguard (along with the “usual suspects”) continue to push for more development, and rarely acknowledge the impacts of such an approach.

    1. Matt Williams

      Ron, your comment above is inaccurate as written.  To be accurate it should read as follows:

      We’ve been over these issues, too many times to count.  The Vanguard (along with the “usual suspects”) continue to discuss development, and rarely acknowledges the impacts of such an approach.

      Most of the time you are very clear that you want all proposals for development to cease, and all discussions/consideration of development to cease.  It appears that you will not be satisfied with anything less.

      You might actually get your way if you contributed substance to the discussions rather than simply sniping at the work of others.  The time has come for you to do your own work Ron. Lay out a clear list of what you see as the impacts, and what the tradeoffs are for those impacts.  Most of those impacts are covered in the CEQA process, so as you assemble your table of impacts, you may want to include a column that identifies whether the impact is covered in a CEQA process.

      The time has come for you to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

      Speaking of walking and talking, perhaps it would be reasonable for you to stop piggy-backing on the hard work of Colin and Eileen and Mike Harrington and others who have the courage of their convictions to come to public meetings and make public comment.

      1. Ron

        Matt:  I’ve come to public meetings (and have seen you there, as well).  Also, why don’t you suggest that of other commenters (who don’t necessarily attend every hearing, as well)?  I can think of some, myself.  Is it because they support your (overall) pro-development presentation of one-sided “evidence”?

        Regarding Colin, Eileen and Mike, you’ve attacked all of them (as you do with me).  Why don’t you ask them directly, if they feel I’ve taken “advantage” of their hard work?  (I’m pretty sure that they would have a different “take” on that.)  Also, why don’t you ask them what they think of you? (I could tell you something about that, but it would likely be censored on this site.)

        I have presented evidence multiple times on various subjects. It is often disregarded by those who support more development. (At times, it’s been periodically deleted as well.)

        By the way, what happened with your response to Don Sherman, to ensure that developments such as Sterling contribute sufficient development fees to offset their costs?

        Again, if you’re truly interested in objectivity, you’d present all applicable evidence – not just that which supports more development of some type.  (However, your response to Don Sherman was a good start.)

        1. Ron

          Thought I’d clarify that I don’t “want” (or expect) all development to “cease”, as you’re alleging. I wish that you would stop stating what you believe my positions to be.

          I also thought I should clarify that I’m not in frequent contact with some of the individuals you’ve listed. However, I support most of their goals. (In reality, no two individuals share exactly the same goals.)

        2. Matt Williams

          Ron, to the best of my limited knowledge you have never walked up to the public comment podium and gone on the record.  I have seen you in the audience at two public meetings.  You may have been to more.  Colin, Eileen, Mike, Tia Will, Alan Miller, Alan Pryor, Mark West, David Greenwald, Frankly, Don Shor, and numerous other Vanguard posters have stood up for the courage of their convictions multiple times … for many of them, dozens of times each.

          You see providing “the rest of the story” as an attack.  That is your prerogative.  I see it as a dispassionate, agnostic, educational attempt to put all the information out on the table.  You regularly put forward only a portion of the information.  Yesterday’s long winded effort to accuse Council of passing a policy emphasizing student-oriented housing up to 2 miles from campus.  The rest of that story was presented not only by me, but also by Colin, who pointed out the the wording you cited from the December 6th Staff Report was both (A) a draft, and (B) never implemented by Council.  If you go back and review any of the dialogues/discussions I have had with Colin, Eileen, and/or Mike, you will find a consistent “the rest of the story” pattern in my comments about the material they have posted … simply rounding out the whole picture.

      2. Matt Williams

        Ron, I have responded in the public record to Don and Maggie Sherman’s comments about the equity of the current development impact fee structure.  Nowhere in their comment submitted to the FBC (or the other comment submitted to the FBC) did Don and Maggie say the development impact fees were inadequate, they said they believed the current development impact fee structure had social equity challenges.  You have editorially inserted the “inadequate” judgment all by yourself.

        1. Ron

          Matt:

          Don and Maggie Sherman’s comments absolutely addressed the inadequacy of fees for developments such as Sterling, and they specifically asked the Finance and Budget Committee to examine these fees.

          Here are some direct quotes, from their email (that you posted):

          “The present structure was last set in 2009 and is out-of-date as applications for residential construction have trended from overwhelmingly private residences to primarily rental apartments.”

          “We advocate an increase in fees for attached dwellings the same level as detached dwellings in order to increase City revenue, while not further penalizing owners of traditional single-family homes, long a characteristic of progressive small cities.”

          Based upon their suggestions, you calculated that the fees would increase from approximately $1,865,118 to $3,822,643 for Sterling.

          https://www.davisvanguard.org/2017/03/sterling-comes-back-revised-proposal/#comment-354891

        2. Matt Williams

          Reread their words Ron.  Where do they say or intimate “inadequate”?

          And you are correct, I took their hypothetical and calculated what its fiscal impact would be. As Howard pointed out, that hypothetical solution proposed by Don and Maggie would more than likely produce revenues that exceeded the actual Impact Costs, and therefore be illegal under State law.

        3. Ron

          Matt:  I’ve pasted Don and Maggie Sherman’s entire comment, below.  Describe it however you want to.  The implication is that the current level of fees is likely inadequate for such proposals, especially when compared to fees charged single-family dwellings. 

          And no – Howard did NOT say that the proposed fees would exceed costs.  The fact is, Howard doesn’t know (and apparently you don’t, either).  Don and Maggie asked your committee to EXAMINE the costs, and consider changes.   Did that ever occur?

          —————————————————————————————————

          Subject: my comment: Davis, Development Impact Fee; item 6D tonight

          Davis Finance and Budget Commission:

          Please consider our comments for Item 6D tonight regarding the fiscal and social equity problems in the current Development Impact Fees established to mitigate the impact of new development on City facilities and infrastructure

          We urge the Finance and Budget Commission to include a financial analysis of the Impact Fees as part of its Work Plan in order to achieve more equitable support of City services.

          The present structure was last set in 2009 and is out-of-date as applications for residential construction have trended from overwhelmingly private residences to primarily rental apartments.

          The present complicated Development Impact Fee tables are based on differentiating between Attached and Detached Single Family dwellings and various sizes of Multi-Family dwellings.  The Fees and associated tables could be more fairly and productively replaced by bedroom-based fees or occupancies.

          The table shows that single-family detached dwellings are currently being charged fees 20-30% more than comparable attached dwellings even though the average occupancy of such dwellings is virtually identical.

          We advocate an increase in fees for attached dwellings the same level as detached dwellings in order to increase City revenue, while not further penalizing owners of traditional single-family homes, long a characteristic of progressive small cities.

          Further, owners of one and two-bedroom homes would and should be paying lower Development Impact Fees than owners of 4 and 5-bedroom homes.

          An additional advantage of this change from an Attached/Detached distinction to numbers of bedrooms will be avoidance of financial uncertainty for Davis’ large, growing, and welcome community of senior citizens.

          Similarly, in the Multi-family dwellings the lower bedroom units should be paying lower Development Impact Fees than the higher bedroom units, since both the impact and cost of services goes up on a one-to-one basis based on number of occupants.

          Thank you

          – Maggie and Don Sherman
          Davis

        4. Matt Williams

          Ron said . . . “Don and Maggie asked your committee to EXAMINE the costs, and consider changes.   Did that ever occur?”

          During the March 13th discussion of the FBC Work Plan, specifically theOptimization of City Revenues, Assets and Resources, I formally recommended adding such an analysis as an additional itemized task to the Work Plan.  After discussion, the Optimization of City Revenues, Assets and Resources subcommittee members (who would undertake the analysis) felt the issues raised in the two public comment letters were issues of social equity policy, which is beyond the FBC’s fiscal advisory purview.  As such they felt analysis by the FBC was not warranted.  The Commission, as a whole, accepted the subcommittee’s assessment.

        5. Matt Williams

          I imagine it will be raised as a social equity policy concern at the Human Relations Commission.

          As Howard said in his 3/31 comments

          to be ‘fair’, and compliant with state law (at least the intent), new development (“impact fees”) should only be responsible for the costs of additional infrastructure, solely necessitated by the new development, decrease in otherwise useful life (caused by ND), plus their proportionate share of what the City should have been saving/spending.

          The impact fee concept was not to bail existing development/citizens out of their own responsibilities.  That money needs to come from the City as a whole…

          Remember that the impact fees are for new dev…. ‘amortized’ over 30-40 years, in most cases… one-time, not-ongoing

        6. Ron

          David:  “That seems more a Social Services issue than an HRC one.”

          It is an unresolved financial issue, for the city. And yet, the city is pushing ahead with Sterling (and possibly other developments), without considering it.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            To be accurate, the city hasn’t pushed ahead with anything. It comes to the city council on April 18 where they will make a determination what to do about the project.

        7. Ron

          Matt:

          I don’t think that’s an accurate statement.  From what I’ve gathered (from the responses above), the finance and budget commission decided that considering the appropriate amount of development fees (in the absence of social considerations) was not in their purview.  In other words, the finance and budget commission decided that a “societal” decision needs to be made first, regarding whether or not to charge such complexes for the costs that they actually create.  (Seems ironic for the Vanguard to constantly bring up the city’s financial concerns, without ever discussing this issue.)

          If it is decided that such complexes should be charged for the costs they actually create, it would likely go back to the finance and budget committee at some point.

          This is a big deal, and yet the city is pushing ahead without answering this question.

        8. Matt Williams

          So Ron, you are going to tell me your interpretation of what happened is more correct than the straightforward reporting of what happened by the person who put formal consideration of the item before the FBC, and who was there in the room for the discussion/consideration?

          The FBC did not decide that a “societal” decision needs to be made first.  The FBC, with the guidance of the Revenues subcommittee, decided that any financial issue present in the concerns raised in the public comments was so small that analysis of it did not merit addition to the FBC Work Plan.

          For the record, a review of all the City’s fees is conducted periodically by the FBC, so you are correct, some time in the future an update of all the Development Impact Fees (in conjunction with a review of all fees) will be added to an FBC agenda for consideration. An outside, third-party consultant does the research that is presented to the FBC in such situations.

        9. Ron

          Matt:

          No – I wouldn’t be so presumptuous, to contradict the information you’re providing.  Your response above wasn’t entirely clear, and your tentative calculations (based upon Don and Maggie Sherman’s suggestion to more closely match the fees charged for single-family dwellings) showed an increase in fees for Sterling from approximately $1.8 million to $3.8 million.  That’s not a “small difference”.

          No offense intended, but I would have to acknowledge that I’m not entirely trusting of the quick, subsequent explanations that you’re now providing (which don’t entirely “jive” with what you wrote above). Unfortunately, I don’t have enough knowledge to comment further at this time. However, I do hope that decision-makers are aware of this.

        10. Matt Williams

          Ron, they were not “tentative” calculations.  They were “hypothetical” calculations for the purposes of illustrating the social equity impact.  You have inferred much, much, much more into those numbers than their actual meaning . . . bending them to your prejudgement.

        11. Ron

          Matt:

          I have no qualms regarding your reference to “hypothetical” calculations.  I’m not “prejudging” anything, nor did I initiate or submit the request to consider these fees, to the finance and budget commission.  However, I would suggest that anyone who is interested in the financial state of the city consider the point brought up by Don and Maggie Sherman, which you then recommended for analysis by the finance and budget commission.

          This has nothing to do with me, nor am I seeking an argument.

  3. Ron

    Matt:  “Ron, to the best of my limited knowledge you have never walked up to the public comment podium and gone on the record.”

    Your knowledge is quite limited.  Regardless, are you suggesting that the only way to provide input is to speak before the council?

    Seems like you’re interested in “picking a fight” with me, as usual.  Are you planning another one of your endless and meaningless challenges, today?

    1. Matt Williams

      Council meetings, Commission meetings, Task Force meetings, public hearings, workshops, community gatherings . . . any and all work.

      It clear that I misunderstood your reluctance.  I thought it was some kind of misplaced morality.

       

  4. Eileen Samitz

    First of all, I am sorry to see David continuing to try to justify Sterling’s single-room-occupancy format which does nothing to help provide housing for families. The project is exclusive by design targeting students, and it does nothing to encourage water conservation or energy conservation since the developers are including the water and electricity since they are renting by the bedroom.To try to say that this project will transplant students from single-family housing with projects like Sterling is a false argument. Instead, it would simply de-motivate UCD to build the housing that they need to build on-campus.  To continue trying to convince readers that somehow Davis has to solve the housing problem that UCD is imposing on the City is really illogical and counter-productive. That thinking just encourages UCD to drag its heels on providing much more on-campus housing that it needs. Even the students are demanding more high-density housing on campus.

    There is no excuse why UCD cannot provide far more high-density on-campus housing which can be legally dedicated for their students, would control rental costs long-term, and would actually practice sustainable planning like all the other UC’s are successfully doing. The other UC’s  are providing at least 50% on-campus housing for their students for availability and to control costs for the students long term. Meanwhile, UCD is trying to get away with only 40%. The UCD students, the community, and the City leadership have all already defined the minimum amount of on-campus housing that UCD needs to produce on campus, and that is the 50/100 plan. UCD just needs to stop stalling and start building to alleviate the housing pressures in Davis, which UCD is primarily responsible for. Davis is already providing 63% of the housing for the students , so it is UCD which is not doing its part. UCD is the NIMBY in this situation and it’s negligence needs to be criticized, not excused.

    Second, I have raised this same issue before of whether the Sterling project and other multi-family projects are being charged adequately for developer impact fees,  permits etc. particularly for the newer 4- and 5- bedroom formats? These mega-apartments are large then most single family homes which will significantly increase the number of residents and therefore significantly increase the impacts the City’s infrastructure and City services. Is the City being compensated for the “fair share” of impacts and costs to the City from these enormous multi-family projects or are other City residents subsidizing these “mega-dorms” for UCD? I still have not seen a substantive answer for this and none of the “mega-dorms” should be moving forward until these questions, critical to the fiscal health of the City, are answered. Why isn’t the City prioritizing getting answers to these financial issues first before fast-tracking Sterling or other multi-family projects to a vote? The City and the Vanguard are constantly raising Davis’ fiscal concerns, why isn’t this issue being discussed?

    Finally, Matt I really wish you could stick to the issues and not drift into personal innuendo because the discussion just starts to deteriorate. I have heard folks complain that they don’t want to participate in the Vanguard discussions because of this type of negative posting. I for one happen to agree with much of what Ron has to say that I see posted here, so I appreciate seeing that input. But for you to try to criticize whether or not he gives testimony at meetings seems pretty unfair and targeted. I don’t see you criticizing others like Howard P, Keith O, John Hobbs, etc. all folks who post on the Vanguard who don’t testify regularly at public meetings. And just to be clear, this is in no way a criticism of those folks, but my point is that your criticism targeting Ron is not a fair one and seems pretty personal.  So let’s please try to keep on topic so that the discussion is productive.

     

     

    1. Matt Williams

      Eileen, you have never seen me tell Ron that he should stop posting or providing input.  As you know from our long knowledge of one another, I am a firm believer in a “both/and” approach to dialogue rather than an “either/or” approach.  Ron’s continual and constant criticisms of the Vanguard for discussing the issues and concerns are a clear message that he wants David to stop posting those issues/concerns, which is consistent with “either/or” rather than “both/and.” (e.g. the first comment on David’s 3/29 article, “Another article, same advocacy for more housing.”)

      Howard P. has testified on multiple occasions.  To the best of my knowledge John Hobbs lives in a community that is physically removed from Davis, so his testifying is geographically challenged.  I suspect, but do not know, that Keith has made public comment at one or more meetings where Frankly has made public comment.

      With that said, all three of those posters regularly do their homework on issues and share their analysis and associated source links that corroborate their position.  Ron does that occasionally, but more often than not he expects others to do the research for him.

      1. Ron

        Matt:  I’ve never suggested to anyone that they “stop posting”.  However, I have pointed out that the same old arguments are used by David and other advocates of development day-after-day (and are rather one-sided).  This has also been pointed out by others (who don’t necessarily agree with everything I state, either).

        I have suggested some areas to explore, to provide a more balanced view.  (I’ve suggested this of you in particular lately, because you seem more interested than most in taking the time and effort to do research.)  I understand that you can decline those suggestions.  However, I will likely continue to challenge one-sided presentations, when applicable.

        1. Matt Williams

          Ron said . . . “However, I will likely continue to challenge one-sided presentations, when applicable.”

          Understood.  I too will likely continue to challenge one-sided comments, as well as factually deficient ones.

        2. David Greenwald Post author

          I’m not an advocate of development, I’m an advocate of evidenced based discussions. You’ve interpreted certain comments I have made to be advocacy and being for development, but that is not accurate. For instance, part of my point in this article is that while the negotiating team for Rancho Yolo has agreed to this scaled down project, a lot of the residents have not. I would have thought you would have picked up on this point, but you’ve instead continued with business as usual and made unsupported comments.

    2. David Greenwald Post author

      “I am sorry to see David continuing to try to justify Sterling’s single-room-occupancy format”

      Can you please point to the statement in this column that either supports or opposes Sterling’s single-room-occupancy format? Thank you.

      1. Eileen Samitz

         

        David: ” Lack of student housing puts pressure on family housing options, because students end up encroaching into single-family homes in search of housing.

         

        I’m not an advocate of development, I’m an advocate of evidenced based discussions.”

        David,

        What is your evidence that building mega-dorms like Sterling would be a solution and transplant students out of living in single-family housing? You keep asserting this as if it would happen, and I don’t see that happening at all or any evidence of it.

        1. Howard P

          Eileen… speaking from experience… most students who look for SF housing aren’t doing it out of desperation to find housing… they want more “independence”… they want to have a dog/cat, etc.  They want their girlfriend/boyfriend to live with them without  being bound by typical leases…

          So, bottom line… am agreeing with you, big time… UCD students seeking SF situations, will not be drawn to MF ones… ain’t a happening thing…

        2. David Greenwald

          And I don’t agree with your base assumption Howard, I think a lot of students are cramming in two to a room out of scarcity and fiscal necessity.  Remember 0.2 percent vacancy means constrained market and constrained choices.

        3. Howard P

          Hell, David… 2 to a room was standard for MF (particularly student oriented) 40 years ago… the MF bedrooms were only slightly smaller than a Stanley Davis SF master bedroom.  We had two beds, two desks, and room to not get into each other’s faces. Not “crammed”…

        4. Howard P

          David… your 12:08 post… you are absolutely correct… unless of course they had the opportunity for a SF unit on campus, similar to what is available in the City.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            The other problem is that I think you’re going to always have problems getting much above 50 percent. I can see sophomores wanting to live on campus, but by the time you get to your third year, you’re over 21 but can’t possess alcohol in on-campus housing, you want to be more part of the community, etc.

        5. Ron

          David:

          You can’t see the question that Eileen asked, above?  In any case, I’m pasting it again, below.

          By the way, your comments are “disappearing” again, when I log in.  (I can’t see your comment as I’m typing this.)  Since it keeps occurring (and without me hitting the “ignore commenter” feature), I’m guessing that the Vanguard has some ongoing technical problems.

          David,

          What is your evidence that building mega-dorms like Sterling would be a solution and transplant students out of living in single-family housing? You keep asserting this as if it would happen, and I don’t see that happening at all or any evidence of it.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            I view the comments through the back end of the site, so I see them all chronologically.

            To answer her question – my evidence is largely anecdotal, if you look at the students comments from the planning commission and have talked to students about their living conditions, you realize that a lot of homes are packed full of college students that could be going toward families. Providing more in the way of supply will ease the entire strain on the system.

          2. Don Shor

            What is your evidence that building mega-dorms like Sterling would be a solution and transplant students out of living in single-family housing?

            Econ 1.

        6. Howard P

          Ron… David has said before, it seems to depend on which device he is using to post… am having the same difficulty, and have ‘flagged it” as well… my “work-around” is using a different browser… clumsy, but works… I normally use Chrome, but if that doesn’t work, I go to IE…

        7. Ron

          Howard:  Thanks for the tip.

          David:  You’re argument is basically a “supply and demand” one.  Seems like the bottom line is that we all agree that the supply of student housing should increase (assuming that UCD continues to pursue its plan to increase enrollment, largely by targeting international students – and that this goal is attainable).  However, some of us believe that the campus is (by far) the best place to build student-oriented housing, which ensures that “commutes” to campus through the city are minimized, and ensures that UCD assumes the costs and responsibilities regarding its plans.  (The same argument we’ve been repeating, but which you apparently deem as less important.)

           

        8. Ron

          David:

          Again, though:  You have no evidence that students wouldn’t continue to pursue “mini-dorm” housing (due to such factors as reduced costs, greater flexibility, convenient location) regardless of whether or not student-oriented housing is built anywhere – off campus, or on.  However, building it would ensure that it’s at least an option.  (And, without repeating the arguments, it’s better to locate it on campus – for everyone, including students.)

          It is possible that the “mini-dorm” phenomenon simply cannot be stopped (or its course significantly altered), unless it’s somehow legally regulated in some manner. (And, no doubt, some owners and students would prefer it to remain as is.) As expected, it seems to be much more of a factor, the closer the site is to UCD.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            WHy would someone live in a shared bedroom when they can get their own bedroom?

          2. Don Shor

            You have no evidence that students wouldn’t continue to pursue “mini-dorm” housing (due to such factors as reduced costs, greater flexibility, convenient location) regardless of whether or not student-oriented housing is built anywhere – off campus, or on.

            Some will, more won’t than before. Nobody has “evidence” other than the fact that greater supply creates more options.

      2. Eileen Samitz

        David: “Can you please point to the statement in this column that either supports or opposes Sterling’s single-room-occupancy format? Thank you.”

        David,

        The issue is that single-room-occupancy is exclusive by design and targets students which does nothing to help families and most non-student workers. Yet, I have not seen you make any attempt to distinguish the different types of  rental housing and the problems that come particularly with single-room-occupancy.

        Beyond the discriminatory design, there is the water and energy waste due to including those costs in the rent per bedroom. This does nothing to encourage conservation of water or electricity repeating West Villages mistake. Also, there is the issue of the cost impacts to the City, none of which has been properly analyzed or adjusted as needed yet.  This Sterling project is primarily comprised of enormous 4- and-5-bedroom “suites” (82 and 26 respectively). I have not seen you write about these evidenced-based issues.

        1. Matt Williams

          Eileen, in my personal opinion, you are 100% correct that single-room occupancy is exclusive by design and targets students, which does nothing to help families and most non-student workers.

          With that said, the detached single family residences being built at The Cannery, Grande and Chiles Ranch are also exclusive by design and target families and non-student workers, which does nothing to help students.

          Bottom-line, the issue is complex and nuanced.  As a result, looking at housing with an aggregate mix perspective seems to be warranted.  However, with a General Plan that is  out of compliance with State Law, Davis is forced to plan using general Plan Exceptions, which almost completely eliminate the kind of holistic, across-the-community planning that would actively engage the very issues that appear to be most important to you.

          One of the shining lights (in my opinion) of the Planning Commission hearing regarding Sterling was the newest Planning Commissioner, Dave Robertson, who explained his “no” vote by saying that a “yes” Planning Commission vote at this time is not ready for prime time.  As suppoert for his argument that Sterling is being considered in a vacuum (rather than as part of a holistic approach to the City’s rental housing), Dave verbally reviewed some rough calculations that showed that even if UCD reaches a level of 50% of the enrollment in university-supplied housing, that leaves the City short by 6,000 bedrooms, making Sterling only a 10% dent in the rental housing problem.  He argued that we are being short-sighted and disingenuous to make a Sterling decision in isolation and not grapple with the overall problem.  I largely agree with Dave’s approach, and specifically apply it to similar challenges we have in transportation.  As a result, if I had had the chance as a Planning Commissioner that night, I would have voted “no” on Sterling on Wednesday night . . . not as “opposition,” but rather as support of both a “we can do better” message and a “we need to be looking at the whole picture” message.

        2. Eileen Samitz

           

          Matt: “With that said, the detached single family residences being built at The Cannery, Grande and Chiles Ranch are also exclusive by design and target families and non-student workers, which does nothing to help students.”

          Matt,

          Sorry, but you are trying to compare for-sale housing with rental housing, so your comparison does not work. The point here is that rental housing should not be exclusively designed for students, it should be designed to be used by students and non-students, and the 1,2 and 3 bedroom traditional apartment complex offers the best flexibility and availability to all as opposed to single-room-occupancy mega dorms with primarily 4- and 5- bedroom suites and all the problems that come with that rental format.

           

        3. Matt Williams

          Housing is housing Eileen, as you clearly experienced when you were on the Housing Element Steering Committee.

          I’m not comparing them against one another, rather recognizing that they are parts of a whole picture . . . ideally a picture that is in balance.

        4. Mark West

          “He argued that we are being short-sighted and disingenuous to make a Sterling decision in isolation and not grapple with the overall problem.”

          He may be right, but the problem here is that the role of the Planning Commission is to evaluate the projects as they are proposed using the criteria set forward by our elected representatives. It is not the role of the individual commissioner to determine if those criteria or procedures are wrong.  Any commissioner who creates their own criteria for evaluation, ignoring those determined by the City Council, is simply unfit and should be asked to resign.

          If you want to be responsible for setting the process and evaluation criteria, then get elected to the City Council.

        5. Howard P

          Eileen… I say three times… individual metering does not mean “conservation”, and lack of individual metering does not equal “waste”… that’s a fallacy/myth… proven to be such in many studies…

  5. Ron

    Eileen:  “Is the City being compensated for the “fair share” of impacts and costs to the City from these enormous multi-family projects or are other City residents subsidizing these “mega-dorms” for UCD?  I still have not seen a substantive answer for this and none of the “mega-dorms” should be moving forward until these questions, critical to the fiscal health of the City, are answered.  Why isn’t the City prioritizing getting answers to these financial issues first before fast-tracking Sterling or other multi-family projects to a vote?  The City and the Vanguard are constantly raising Davis’ fiscal concerns, why isn’t this issue being discussed?”

    Indeed.

    1. Howard P

      Please define “mega-dorm”… please define “fast-tracking”… please define “fiscal health”… from YOUR perspective (don’t offer up some “googled” definition… impotent, at best…)… you didn’t introduce the terms, but you seem to concur, with “Indeed”… your word.

      Sterling will not be subject to a vote (other than CC)… already had a vote by PC… what do you propose we put to a “vote of the citizens”?

      1. Ron

        Howard:

        Sorry, not going to play along any further, today.  Not sure why you’re directing those questions to me, regardless.

        I was generally agreeing with Eileen, that the city should know what the costs actually are (and adjust fees accordingly), before approving developments.  It appears this hasn’t been done, for complexes such as Sterling. (See discussion above, regarding Don and Maggie Sherman’s email to the Finance and Budget Commission.)

        1. Howard P

          Am only asking questions similar to what you ask others… nothing more, nothing less…

          You quoted someone using the terms, “mega-dorms”, “fast-tracking”, and “fiscal health”…  and you ‘generally agreed’… just assumed you know what those terms mean, and can explain… guess I was incorrect… will re-direct to Eileen…

  6. Eileen Samitz

    Matt,

    You completely side-stepped my comments. Also, please give me examples of when Howard P. has testified at any public meetings.

    Howard P.,  come on… these terms are pretty darn self-evident, and they have been discussed many times on the Vanguard. Also, even when I don’t agree with you, I am not saying your postings require you to testify at public comment to be allowed to be part of the discussion on the Vanguard.

    My entire point is that Matt seems to be saying that unless someone was commenting at public meetings that their commentary on the Vanguard was not valid or sincere.

    1. Howard P

      Eileen… will grant you that “fiscal health” is squishy, but generally understood (for some it means we can pay our bills, for others it means we want to expand services); “Mega-dorms” is a term I’ve seen bandied about, but have not seen a real definition… is Greystone or Cantrill apartments a “mega-dorm”?  Tercero, on campus?  Quatro? Adobe?  

      “Fast-tracking”?  Some see that as a two week period… others see it as a three-four year period… squishy…

      Also to “fast-tracking”… some would see the abolition of the slave trade in the US as “fast-tracking”… others would see it as “glacially slow”… (yeah, going to hyperbole to make a point… IMO, glacially slow)…

      Hard to have an adult conversation when the terms used are “squishy”… the “in the eye of the beholder” thing… at least one poster appears to assume everyone has (or should have) the same lexicon and/or world view… I don’t think I’m one of those… might be wrong, tho’… just looking for the answer “what do you mean by that?”

      1. Howard P

        To clarify… “dorms” comes from the terms meaning ‘where one sleeps’… the “dorms” I lived in (3 years) had ~ 30 rooms (2 occupants in each)/bathroom (with several showers, urinals, and a tub), and a ‘dining commons’ serving ~ 2000 students… my disconnect with calling Sterling a “mega-dorm”.

      2. Eileen Samitz

        Howard,

        This fiscal issue really needs to be resolved regarding the “mega dorms” before they are pushed forward prematurely for a vote. That is what is in the best interest of the City, and it residents. We should not be rushing forward with an enormous project like Sterling which is likely creating significant cost impacts on the City, which already has fiscal challenges.

        1. Howard P

          Eileen… Sterling is not “enormous”… compared to existing City population… Cannery was/is much larger… we’re surviving quite well.

          Impact fees are one-time, and if you look at a 30-50 year design life, even if they were quadrupled, would not make a dent in existing fiscal issues… and there has to be a “nexus” to fees charged and impacts created…

          If Sterling is ultimately denied, I care not… it is not a panacea for what ails us… neither will it “break our back” if it approved.

          Have no sense we have “rushed” on Sterling…

          You, of course, are entitled to your opinions/concerns… I do not share them…

    2. Matt Williams

      Eileen, what comment of yours, directed to me, did I sidestep?   I addressed the sum and substance of the points you raised in the paragraph directed at me.

      Your question about Howard P. is an interesting one.  Either it is a rhetorical question, to which you already know the answer, or it is a straightforward attempt to “out” Howard P.  Which door are you asking me to open?  Door A or Door B?

      The key word in your “entire point” paragraph above rests on the word “seems.”  If it seems to you that is what I was/am saying then who am I to dispute that personal opinion of yours.  It was absolutely not what I was saying, but reasonable people are capable of disagreeing reasonably.  So, with regard to your interpretation we will have to agree to disagree.

      The beliefs that Ron includes in his comments here in the Vanguard are both valid and sincere and passionate.  There is no question about that . . . none whatsoever.  My personal opinion is that as a dialogue space, the Vanguard provides a forum for the beliefs that all Vanguard posters.  However, policy is not made in the Vanguard.  Your Measure X-6 campaign to change the trajectory of the UC Davis LRDP would not have accomplished even a small fraction of what you have accomplished if you had restricted your comments/posts/articles to the Vanguard.  You took your message to the community, and you stood behind each word that you said.  There is a lesson to be learned from accountability embedded in your example.

      1. Eileen Samitz

        Matt: “With that said, all three of those posters regularly do their homework on issues and share their analysis and associated source links that corroborate their position.  Ron does that occasionally, but more often than not he expects others to do the research for him.”

        Matt,

        So the point I was making was that you tend to make derogatory remarks like the one above which seems pretty targeted towards Ron. So let’s just say that it would be better for everyone if the conversation can stay on the issues rather then making personal comments. We will get more discussion and participation from others if we keep it focused on the issues.

        1. Howard P

          One has to look at not only a ‘poster’ who targets a poster, but whom the alledged “victim” targets… enough said…

          But, that said, let us all focus on the issues, with more facts, less speculation or alt-facts… fully agree with that…

        2. Matt Williams

          Eileen, what you see as a derogatory remark by me, I see as a challenge to Ron to contribute more to the dialogue than he currently does.  You are looking at the Ron glass as half empty while I am looking at it as half full.  I’m simply challenging him to “pull more weight” and provide linked sources for evidence that supports the personal opinions he shares.

          With that said, I respect your right to disagree with that approach.

          P.S. you could give the same advice to Ron regarding his derogatory remarks toward David and Don and Howard and Mark West, among others (including myself). Just a wee bit of goose/gander is regularly in play whenever polarized dialogue crops up.

          P.P.S. Thank you for your even tone in pursuing a constructive dialogue on this subject.

        3. Ron

          Matt:  “P.S.  you could give the same advice to Ron regarding his derogatory remarks toward David and Don and Howard and Mark West, among others (including myself).”

          If you’re going to say this about me, then you’d have to look at what everyone has said, as well.  (I would not necessarily include everyone you’ve listed in the same “category”, however.) Also, your statement invites and encourages a conflict against “me” vs., “all of those individuals” you’ve listed.

          You and I (in particular) have had “conflicts”, lately.  It did not start out that way.  It started around the time that I questioned the mayor’s employment arrangement, while on the LRDP subcommittee.

          I have suggested that we “bury the hatchet” previously, and am suggesting it again now.  Let’s both try.  (However, I still maintain that you and some others – including David, are only presenting partial “evidence”, while simultaneously stating that you’re only interested in “objective” evidence.  I find that particularly galling.)

        4. Matt Williams

          Ron said . . . “You and I (in particular) have had “conflicts”, lately.  It did not start out that way.  It started around the time that I questioned the mayor’s employment arrangement, while on the LRDP subcommittee.”

          Ron, you may see our discussions as “conflicts.”  I haven’t seen them that way.  They have been much more like critical thinking exercises.

          Your proposed start time is a bit early.  There was no “conflict” (to use your term) at the time you questioned the Mayor’s employment by UCD citing “conflict of interest.” There was no “conflict” when Howard posted the legal definition of “conflict of interest.”  There was no “conflict” when you responded to Howard that there was an extra-legal definition of “conflict of interest” promulgated by the auditing profession.  The “conflict” (to use your term) arose when you refused to post the text of, and ideally a link to, the “conflict of interest” standards published by your professional auditing association.  You have always had the ability to completely eliminate the “conflict” (to use your term) in the blink of an eye by posting that text and/or link.  The choice of whether to end the “conflict” or perpetuate it is yours.  It is completely up to you.

        5. Ron

          Matt:  “You have always had the ability to completely eliminate the “conflict” (to use your term) in the blink of an eye by posting that text and/or link.  The choice of whether to end the “conflict” or perpetuate it is yours.”

          I have posted links and information regarding the issue that you’ve take exception with.  They were deleted.  (Ask Don, if you don’t believe that.)

          I have no plans to resurrect that issue.  I am, however, interested in moving past the obvious difficulties that we’ve been having.  (That choice is up to both of us.) So far, I’m not seeing any interest in doing so on your part – despite my invitation.

        6. Matt Williams

          Don, Eileen brought up the subject.  In this case neither Ron nor I initiated it.  With that said, it is part of the fabric of discord on the Vanguard.

          If Ron really wants to move past the discord, all he has to do is repost the links you deleted.

        7. Ron

          Matt:

          I might be willing to research and present the issue, again at some point.  (I did not save the information from last time.)  However, as Don noted, this is not the location to do so.

          More importantly, the reason I brought it up in this thread is because that marked the beginning of the downturn, toward personal attacks between us.  I’d suggest that (regardless of whether or not I choose to present this topic on the Vanguard), we put the personal animosity behind us.  (You still haven’t accepted this suggestion that I’ve made multiple times, so I’ll assume that you’re more interested in continuing personal attacks.)

          Of course, you’re also able to present the topic, as well.  If you choose to do so, then I might comment on it (and provide links/information).  If you do so, the first thing I’d suggest is that you research what “government auditing standards” means. I’d also suggest searching for “conflict of interest”, and “audit reports” to see examples of actual reports that are publicly-available.

          If either one of us presents this topic, I suspect that the comments might go on for days to come.

           

  7. Todd Edelman

    David,  I appreciate all the time, space and mental capacity that the Davis Vanguard has devoted to this, and more specifically find the most recent trend of the discussion towards impact fees very compelling and useful.

    Still, what happened to your claims about parking over-supply at Sterling, supported – and then some – by the student representative from UC Davis? How come not even a hint of my suggestions for full mobility for Sterling residents without use of the private car or what are actually pretty normal arguments about divorcing to some extent congestion impacts from density? Or, more generally, the fact that the City is falling well short of its recent goals for bicycle modal share (a.k.a. sustainable health of the mobility system)? Or adopting proven and safe slower design speeds for local streets? Or, again with Sterling specifically, the facility and social segregation of the inflexible dorm-bathroom market rate pods from the poor people housing and the absolutely pathetic bicycle parking design?

    But I’ll ask my most important question again to everyone here, even the anonymous people. It’s actually a question that I wouldn’t have asked just a few weeks ago…. why is that even in the our extreme housing crisis it’s still more important in some cases – including with Sterling – to build on-site storage for private motor vehicles, prioritizing it over places for people to live, love, study, eat and sleep? Why do have a parking minimum in Davis right now?

    I even suggested a template for criteria for indefinite removals of the minimum:

    Proposal for new regulation on  residential parking: “If all, two or perhaps even just one of the factors such as the following are present there should be no parking minimum (and also a parking maximum):
    * When the city is not meeting – or is significantly under – its official goals for modal share for cycling or transit; or
    * When the city has a vacancy rate below x%;
    * When more than x% of people who work or go to school in town are more than 30 minutes – or whatever is best – away by bike or transit –for the latter including its “last mile” services.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      “Still, what happened to your claims about parking over-supply at Sterling, supported – and then some – by the student representative from UC Davis?”

      I think that’s part of the picture here. I’m not opposed to parking onsite, but I think it should be sized correctly and I disagree with those who argue there is not enough without using metrics to prove it. But this wasn’t an article or column about that particular issue. When I finish collecting my data, this will be part of the analysis.

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