Monday Morning Thoughts: Can We Figure Out a Way Forward on Student Housing?


Numbers are important to understand.  Right now the university is planning on adding somewhere around 7000 students to campus over the next decade, while providing housing for between 6200 and 6300.  That gap doesn’t seem huge, but it means the city would have to build an additional apartment complex of a size larger than Sterling and around the size of Lincoln40 to accommodate those new students.

But the more important number may be 40.  Forty is the percentage of overall students that UC Davis plans to accommodate by the end of 2027.  That comes to about 16,000 of the nearly 40,000 students projected for that time.

Don’t get me wrong – 40 percent is an improvement over the current 28 percent figure, but in real terms it is not very good.

Consider that 40 percent is barely above the systemwide average of 38 percent that the UCs CURRENTLY house, but most of UC Davis’ counterparts are planning to go above 50 percent, and UC Davis’ CSU counterpart Cal Poly is planning to go to 65 percent.

Consider also that twice in the last 30 years, UC Davis has made commitments – even going so far as to sign an MOU – to house around 38 percent of the students and has never gotten close to living up to those commitments.

Consider that, while UC Davis is saying it is committing to take on 40 percent of all students, as many have pointed out, the number of students residing outside of the campus actually increases under this plan.

On the other hand, the city is pushing for UC Davis to take on 50 percent of all students on campus.  That is a big difference.  It is the difference between housing 16,000 students at 40 percent and 20,000 students at 50 percent.

Would that solve the housing crisis?  People differ on that.  But 4000 students would make a huge difference in the trajectory of policy discussions.

As I noted in my Saturday column, the UC Davis housing policy is frankly mindboggling.  Perhaps none more so than on Orchard Park, which UC Davis is redeveloping.  It is a 12-acre site that until 2014 housed about 200 two-bedroom apartments.  Current plans are to take it from two to three stories and increase the number of beds to 900, more than doubling its capacity.

Rich Rifkin points out in his column, “While 900 new beds on campus is nice, I think the university’s plan is not ambitious enough. It won’t make a dent in our community’s demand-supply imbalance. UCD now has about 36,000 students. Nine hundred beds is enough for just 2.5 percent of matriculates.”

If you project the population to 40,000, that percentage is even less.

Those who want to put this on UC Davis have a point – but it’s not the complete picture.  The city of Davis’ policies bear responsibility as well.  I’m not just talking about Measure R.  The city, until it approved Sterling, had not added a single market-rate student rental housing project in over 15 years.

The city has watched the vacancy rate – never hugely robust – shrink to a 0.2 percent rate.

In his column, Mr. Rifkin points out that “it will have been five years for the process to go from conception to completion (of Sterling).”  Mr. Rifkin is projecting when the project finally gets built.  He continues, saying “the cost of living for low-income renters and students has continually gone up and up.”

While the university is driving the student enrollment increase, the city has been slow to react and I very much disagree with those who will argue that we have no obligation to do so.  What has happened to students is nearly quite criminal.  When you have students talking about homelessness, holding multiple jobs, having to search in November for fall housing, etc., you have a problem – and, while the city council took some ownership of that problem, many residents have not.

As I pointed out on Saturday, this is on the university, but we own it too.  As some students pointed out, they feel stuck in a power struggle between the city and the university as to who will take responsibility and step up to the plate.

The bottom line is this: I have been pushing for a number from the city, so I will now put a number forward myself.

There need to be between 10,000 and 11,000 new beds provided between the city and university in the next ten years.

So far, UC Davis has committed to 6300 of those.

That leaves somewhere around 4000 – give or take – that need to be addressed.

Is there a way forward?  Four thousand in Davis is probably not feasible without a Measure R vote – or three.  UC Davis is showing no inclination to step up either.

That is 4000 kids who will have to drive to Davis, clog our roadways, pollute our air.  That is a continuation of the 0.2 percent vacancy rate – the abusive rental conditions and relentless pressure on our kids.

Somehow we all have to step up and figure out a workable solution.  It can’t be all on the university, but it also can’t be all on the city and the status quo IS NOT WORKING.

What will it be?

—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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66 thoughts on “Monday Morning Thoughts: Can We Figure Out a Way Forward on Student Housing?”

  1. Richard McCann

    What about staff housing? It looks like the ratio is roughly 2.5 students to each staff person. Staff are unlikely to live on campus for a multitude of reasons, and typically they will want one abode per staff person (spouses are unlikely to also be working at UCD). So that implies 4,000 to 4,400 new housing units on top of the student housing. Telling new staff that they have to live in Woodland, West Sacramento or Vacaville due to our own selfishness is hypocrisy at its height.

    1. Howard P

       It looks like the ratio is roughly 2.5 students to each staff person.

      That’s a scary #… the City’s numbers are more like 160 people per staff member… might explain the tuition costs, tho’…









  2. Eileen Samitz


    The way to move ahead is right in front of UCD. They have 5,300 acres and this massive growth of adding 7,000 more students is self-imposed by them, and when they can’t even accommodate the student population they have now. So UCD really needs to be held accountable, not excused because they simply don’t feel like providing enough housing for their own growth, on top of the fact that that have been so negligent for so many years. All the other UC’s are taking responsibility and stepping-up, but UCD is trying to get way with not building the on-campus housing for their own needs.




    1. David Greenwald

      So your answer is that the city of Davis should provide none of the 4000 additional beds that are needed and with the university doesn’t provide them in the students are SOL?

      1. Eileen Samitz

        The City already has a ton of housing in the pipeline,  and is providing 63% of student housing already. Now Sterling will be providing even more student housing.

        The City is out of land at this point, but UCD has more then 5,300 acres.The City is losing community services to UCD housing needs and now there will be pressure to lose more commercial sites with the Vanguard has repeatedly said we need to use for revenue producing commercial.

        So UCD needs to move the dial a lot up a lot more for student housing starting with going much higher then 2 and 3 floors as they build new or redevelop new student housing on campus It is ridiculous what UCD is trying to get away with and a disservice to their own students. This current UCD administration is a disaster and needs to go. Fortunately there is a new administration on the way and will hopefully be better leadership with better planning skills.

        1. David Greenwald

          The city has the 540 market rate beds at Sterling.  They might have something at Lincoln40, those two projects will definitely cut into that 4000 bed figure.  Assuming passage. So it might not be an insurmountable problem.

        2. Eileen Samitz


          The problem is not insurmountable. It just takes UCD taking far more responsibility than it has been and build far more density on-campus housing just like all the other UC’s are doing.

    2. Richard McCann

      So let’s vitiate the prime mission of the top agricultural university world by requiring them to convert farmland to housing. Sounds like a forward-looking, progressive policy that will both accelerate the innovation needed to feed billions more people, and open up more opportunities for students to pursue agricultural careers…

      And when was the last time that we required an employer to also be a housing agency.

  3. Don Shor

    Possible sites for new housing:

    1. North of Covell, W of the hospital (requires Measure R, senior housing already in plans);
    2. North of the hospital (Measure R may not be required);
    3. North of The Cannery, E of Northstar (Measure R required);
    4. North of Covell, E of Wildhorse, N of Lake Alhambra Estates (Measure R may be required for rezoning);
    5. Inside Mace Curve (Measure R required);
    6. Nishi (Measure R required).

    If I were assessing these sites for proximity to services, to existing rental housing, bus routes, and likelihood that they could be brought into the housing stock, I’d rank them

    1, 5, 6

    then 2, 3, 4.

    1. David Greenwald

      The irony here is that Nishi plus Sterling and Lincoln40 would have been about 2700 or so beds, pretty close to what would be a reasonable city-share.  At that point, it would be all on the university to provide additional housing.

      1. Eileen Samitz


        So here we go again. You now seem to be ignoring the issue that the Nishi site is not a good site due to the air quality issues and the access issues being ridiculously expensive which would have resulted with unaffordable rents. Even UCD was not interested in it for that reason and the infrastructure costs.  The health impact concerns on the students or any potential residents takes precedence over anything else. You also seem to be ignoring recent LA study making clear that there are significant health impacts from housing near highways. Even the Vanguard covered this.

  4. Todd Edelman

    About the comparison on UC-provided housing, I’ve wondered for a while that it’s not quite apples-to-apples as at least most of the other campuses don’t have the urban growth boundary issues at UCD. So in other cities you can move incrementally-further from campus, but here it’s different as after a point you’re in Woodland, etc.

    Related: Also curious when we’ll see some results of the Infill discussion earlier this year… we have lots of huge parking lots not to mention a large area of 113 that’s below grade — and it seems like every time a large peripheral project gets planned we make it less possible for PG&E’s service yard to re-locate.

    Do potential new students – especially not in their first year – get clear communication from UCD on how hard it is find housing here?
    Are the lawyers who are not looking into making UCD build more housing also not looking into making UCD reduce admissions?

    1. Don Shor

      it seems like every time a large peripheral project gets planned we make it less possible for PG&E’s service yard to re-locate.

      I know people really, really, really want PG&E to move so that site can be developed, but every indication is that they are not even slightly interested, and that it would not be financially feasible for any private or public entity to get them to move or buy them out and clean up the site.
      The PG&E site should not be part of any near- or medium-range planning process. Fifty years? Maybe. Don’t count on it.

      1. Howard P

        Suspect the 50-year timeline is ‘optimistic’ as to re-development of the PG&E site.  Pretty sure I won’t be around to see that happening… it isn’t just the surface uses… it also includes the sub-surface uses… which are not feasible to relocate… in short, a pipe dream (pun intended, on two levels)…

        1. Todd Edelman

          Is there an actual study etc. on surface and sub-surface toxicity and risk? The major gas line goes underneath this but then also goes under L all the way to East Covell and then under the Cannery? Why does it have to be moved here but not the other places?

          I realize of course that you’re all on board with my solution-quest for I-80 — when the PG&E service yard is cleaned up that that still needs to be dealt with….

          1. Don Shor

            There’s been no study that I’m aware of because they aren’t interested in moving.

        2. Howard P

          The natural gas main line does not go under “the Cannery”.  That is completely, totally untrue [at best, as I’m trying hard to be ‘charitable’]… why do you assert that?

          Goes to “credibility” as to anything you posit…

        3. Todd Edelman

          I ?asked? if the gas line went under the Cannery? Yes, I did? I did? I did.

          Please show some solidarity – it’s May Day! – and tell me the precise course of the line. Without hesitation I front load my analysis of your reply as credible.

        4. Howard P


          You made a statement/implication, in the form of a question… as you say, “I did? I did? I did.”  Cute, but no cigar.

          I do, in fact, know where it is.  

          Am tired of your “game”, and will play no further…

        5. Howard P

          Your 1:47 post, Don, I believe to be correct.  You typically don’t do even a Phase 1 site assessment when you still own the property, and don’t plan on that changing… legal suicide, or at least a “self-inflicted-wound”… too risky…

        6. Todd Edelman

          Can, in theory, the City or the County, SACOG, Supercounty (legal form of the Northern California Megaregion) ask to do an evaluation at its own expense and without risk to PG&E?

        7. Howard P


          Can, in theory, the City or the County, SACOG, Supercounty (legal form of the Northern California Megaregion) ask to do an evaluation at its own expense and without risk to PG&E?

          Let’s dissect this… “in theory”, yes,  BUT we have constitutional considerations… [what a concept…] the gov’t can’t come onto your property to do such an evaluation, and not PG&E’s without permission or warrant issued by a ‘court of competent jurisdiction’… no matter who pays.  So, in practicality, NO.

          “Supercounty”… that’s just weird, unless I missed the memo creating such an entity.

          “at its own expense”… see above…

          So, if “toxics” are found by evaluation [were it to be done] would there be “no risk” to the property owner, under both State and Federal law?  You truly have no clue in that area of law.  [Also why PG&E would not even expose themselves to a voluntary study.]

          Like another, you seem to be playing a “game”… will play no further… facts, rather than idle speculation/baiting will set you free.

      2. Todd Edelman

        There will always be more pressing issues. I’d love it if people could answer my question about the pipeline or any even anecdotal info about pollution and toxicity issues: todd(at)

    2. Richard McCann

      If you’re willing to give up the privileges that you’ve earned as a college graduate, then you can call for restricted admissions. The UC system is the most important single institution in America for promoting social mobility through education (See Restricting admissions would mean blunting this mission. It is our responsibility and duty as residents in a community that is economically supported by a UC campus to accept those students so as to improve the conditions in our society. If you are unwilling to accept that duty and responsibility (akin to parenting), then you should consider moving to a different community (perhaps gated).

  5. JosephBiello

    Let me see if I understand the problem – I will use  David’s numbers in the article.

    Current student population approximately 33000 (35K according to UC Davis website), 72% of whom are not housed on campus which makes about 23700 – 25000 students housed elsewhere.  This includes Med Center in Sacramento.

    UC Davis will grow to 40K by 2027 (10 years!) and proposes to house 40% of the students on campus – mean 60% off campus.  That equals 24000 students off campus.

    That seems like not much of a difference to me.


    By David’s own admission, the issue involves absorbing 700 new students into the city in a 10 year period.    I would note to you that the Cannery townhouses will actually absorb many of these arrivals.


    I’m a mid career faculty member at UC and I see stressful times for young faculty and staff trying to make a career for themselves at UC Davis.  For all the “Green”  and “social justice” talk of the people in this town, the NIMBYs avoid the bigger issue.  Staff cannot afford to live here and young faculty cannot afford to live here.

    How many UC Davis staff and faculty families (how many DJUSD teachers) drive their kids to school in Davis but live elsewhere because housing prices in this city have gone through the roof?  How’s that for our carbon footprint?  How does that help us get Measure H funds for the schools?  How does that affect traffic on our roadways (inside and outside of town)?   How much stress does that add to young families?  When does that start to make our city unattractive, and complicate recruitment for the jobs that are here (The DTA has complained about this on several occasions).


    The NIMBYs closed off any ingress from West Village to Russell several years ago, making it a much less attractive community for young families.   The anti-change and NIMBY population freaked out about a beautiful gateway dorm using less than 1/3 of  Russell field because “it would increase traffic on Russell” (quite the opposite, of course)

    Now the anti-growth NIMBYs  terrify the town with the prospect of incorporating ONLY 700 extra kids within our city limits, but conveniently ignore the fact that we have become a town that doesn’t welcome the labor force that works here, much less the students who drive the economy.


    We have to  stop talking about MOUs from 25 years ago.   I can list tonnes of other things that have changed in the ensuing decades – pension structure, health care costs, state funding per student, more regulations increasing the cost of building, UC Davis developing into a university of global renown in all of its departments, etc, that those who drafted these MOUs did not forsee.


    People are quibbling about 40/90 versus 50/100, yet either would keep the number of students within city limits nearly the same – OVER 10 years!  The bigger problem is that constraints on growth have led to exorbitant housing prices for families who work in Davis.  But, the Davis landed gentry will fiddle away as the prospects for this town go up in flames.



    [moderator] found and released from spam filter 3:40 pm

  6. Eileen Samitz

    Joseph Biello,

    There is no bigger NIMBY than UCD.  UCD has 5,300 acres, is the largest UC with the worst record on on-campus housing. They need to do better, like all the other UC’s are which are providing at least 50% on-campus housing which ia a long term solution. The need for UCD to provide at least 50% is not a “quibble” issue, it is significant. Even the students have asked for it.  Your conclusion on the numbers of students housed of the 40/90 plan versus 50/100 is not correct, but this has been covered many times in previous postings.


    1. David Greenwald

      There is no question that UC Davis needs to do better and their current plan is insufficient.  The question is how many units the city should also build – or at least one of the policy questions.

      1. JosephBiello

        @David – there was a cool proposal for development of underused fields that front on Russell.  You know, a perfect community close to downtown so there would be little need for driving.  Sports would have been moved further southwest to fields which are closer to the entrance to the highway, thereby making it easier for out of towners to use them.  Fields on LaRue would have replaced these fields for recreation.  NIMBY killed that.

        Of course, there was the outrage at Orchard Park, thereby delaying that.


        As I said above,  do y’all want the university to house faculty and staff, too?  Is that the role of the university?





    2. JosephBiello

      No, there is no bigger NIMBY than you, ma’am.   5300 acres of a research university, most of which fronts AWAY from the city of Davis where services and lifestyle are provided.     5300 acres, once developed for housing, cannot be reclaimed by the university for research purposes.

      It is transparent what you want, Eileen.  Keep them all away because you got yours.





      1. Eileen Samitz


        So while UCD builds new art museums and additional music recital centers, that’s ok for UCD to prioritize and build on-campus, but not needed student housing? Please…

        On your other untrue accusatory and condescending comments, you really don’t even seem to understand that there is quite a bit of housing approved in the pipeline for Davis. There was a recession which impacted housing nationwide, and the country is still trying to recover from that, including Davis.

        1. Don Shor

          you really don’t even seem to understand that there is quite a bit of housing approved in the pipeline for Davis.

          That’s quite a stretch, particularly since we’re talking about rental housing in this article.

        2. JosephBiello

          It is not condescending to point out that turbulent diffusion of air pollutants does not make a distinction between Aggie Village, Solano Park (where there are many young children who are arguably even more affected by air pollution in the early years of their lives), nor any of the residences on/near Olive drive.  Look at a map and we can discuss diffusion if you like.   Neither I, nor Dr. Cahill, control diffusion.

          I don’t want people to be sick nor to put them in harm’s way.  I also would like the campus to build more housing.  However, I clearly see a pattern where certain people (you are chief among them on this forum) insist on forcing students to the land in the south and west of campus (in fact, I recall someone actually suggesting on this forum that dorms should be put south of the highway on Old Davis road).

          You don’t see that a main part of the problem is one of good living places for all workers and families as well as students.    By accepting an incredibly high price point for Davis through OVER-restricted growth, we are effectively creating a gated community – gating off young families of staff, faculty as well as teachers and other workers,  from this town.     This will cause a much greater traffic impact, on County Rd. 102 (has anybody looked at the increased  mortality associated with vehicle miles on that road?) as well as  Covell and the highway.

          And finally, YES YES YES, it is the university’s role to actually build performance centers, lecture halls, student centers are research centers.  That is actually what a university does.     You who insist that the university’s role is to house students because that is in your mindset of the US university.   Take a look at universities worldwide to see how this is different.     Housing is not seen as the role of the university – students live off campus in great numbers.     Again, this is not to say that our university should offer NO housing (it, in fact continues to build housing), but it is to show you that your perspective is very narrowly focused on one model because you seek one result.











  7. Alan Miller

    The health impact concerns on the students or any potential residents takes precedence over anything else.

    Why are you (ES) not fighting to have children forcibly removed from Olive Drive?

  8. Eileen Samitz


    The Op-ed, letters and very detailed report that Dr. Cahill (who taught at UCD  for decades) released explained the Nishi site issues and why he opposed housing there. Dr. Cahill is a world expert on the subject of health impacts from air pollution and particulate matter.

    The problem with the Nishi site was the combination of being sandwiched in between the railroad track and I-80 plus the topography of the land creating what he called the “perfect storm” combination of factors which created the unhealthy conditions for residential there.

    1. Howard P

      Yet, Eileen, the bulk of his ‘research’ on Nishi was not based on the site… it was extrapolated from other ‘studies’, the ‘pedigrees’ of which are open to question… Prof. Cahill was one of my profs… and a damn good one… but am unconvinced as to Nishi… feel free to believe what fits your ‘agenda’… it is your right…

      1. Eileen Samitz

        Howard P,

        Please feel free to believe what your “agenda” is. Also please recall that the Nishi developers were asked very early on in their process collect the air quality data needed if they wanted to disprove Dr. Cahill’s position that residential did not belong at Nishi.

        The Nishi developers did not collect the data and they had plenty of time. I’ll bet that the developers did not collect the data because they were worried that the data would have supported Dr. Cahill’s position, that residential did not belong at Nishi.

        1. JosephBiello

          Come ON, the NISHI air quality issue is a complete lark.  I’m a fluid dynamicist and I can tell you quite unequivocally that the line distance to NISHI  is no worse than anything on Olive Drive, or for that matter, Downtown Davis, especially Aggie Village or Solano Park.

          Just like the climate change denialists, you were able to find the one person who would confirm your preferred conclusion.



        2. Alan Miller

          I’ll bet that the developers did not collect the data because they were worried that the data would have supported Dr. Cahill’s position, that residential did not belong at Nishi.

          Maybe they just didn’t want to pay for a study they didn’t have to do.

          The apartment owners on Olive have had plenty of time to do air studies too.  Decades.  Don’t they care about the children?  Oh, God, the children.

        3. Howard P

          You have your facts and chronology wrong.

          And, you conveniently left out the word “fits” when you quoted me, and I strongly believe you have no freaking clue, as to “my agenda”… probably because I really have none that I’d impose on others… can you say the same?

  9. Alan Miller

    the “perfect storm” combination of factors

    What part of that “perfect storm” doesn’t exist on Olive Drive?  What percent diminished from a perfect storm is Nishi vs. Olive?  Is that enough not to call for the evacuation of the children on Olive until the study which no one is calling for is complete?  Does anyone care about the children, oh God, the children?!!!

    The answer of course is no one knows, not even Lord C., whom also called for a ‘study’ of Nishi due to his ‘professional’ speculation of a ‘perfect storm’, a perfect smokescreen/delay tactic.  Air is not like water in how it handles toxics; a water well will remain fairly static and change over time as a toxic plume advances or is treated.

    With air, the conditions over a very short distance and at different times and over different weather conditions for different years all can change radically.  One corner of Nishi could be clean overall and another toxic, and change completely as a whole the next year.  All the factors may be there for a possible perfect storm, but only years of air monitoring would give a possible model that only might predict future conditions.

    But it sure can be thrown out there as an anti-Nishi spike-strip for the ignorant swing vote . . . as it was.

    Students and the working not-quite rich-enough will thank you, anti-Nishoids, for decades of future skyrocketing rents.  God bless you all . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Not.

  10. Eileen Samitz


    It may be helpful if you read the input submitted by Dr. Cahill on Nishi including his Op-ed and letters published in the media and his detailed comments to the City on Nishi.

    Please don’t try to fool yourself. Students would not have been able to afford the enormous rents at Nishi either given the astronomical infrastructure costs due to its many access issues.

    1. Don Shor

      Ok, scratch #6 then. Pick one of the other sites.
      Possible sites for new housing:
      1. North of Covell, W of the hospital (requires Measure R, senior housing already in plans);
      2. North of the hospital (Measure R may not be required);
      3. North of The Cannery, E of Northstar (Measure R required);
      4. North of Covell, E of Wildhorse, N of Lake Alhambra Estates (Measure R may be required for rezoning);
      5. Inside Mace Curve (Measure R required);
      6. Nishi (Measure R required).

    2. Alan Miller

      Students would not have been able to afford the enormous rents at Nishi either given the astronomical infrastructure costs due to its many access issues.

      Load of BS.  Private developers are not going to build apartments they cannot rent at a profit.  Unlike the developers of West Village who were subsidized by the University.

      What students can’t afford is the 13% average increase in rents in Davis over last year. This sort of rent increase will continue as long as the vacancy rate rounds to zero.

      1. Eileen Samitz

        Sorry Alan. The Nishi developers were not willing to even include any affordable housing in the project, so there was no way that Nishi would have been affordable to students, if it even materialized.

        The only way to control affordability of housing for student is on-campus. That’s why all the other UC campuses are building at least 50% on-campus housing. Meanwhile, UCD just tries to find excuses, which is just ridiculous.


        1. David Greenwald Post author

          “The Nishi developers were not willing to even include any affordable housing in the project, so there was no way that Nishi would have been affordable to students”

          Eileen – you didn’t just say that? You of all people know the difference between big “A” affordable housing which you reference in the first part of the sentence I quote and small “a” affordable housing which you reference in the second. I’m going to assume you were tired when you wrote that.

          Alan is correct – they have to be able to rent at a profit in the market. Supply and demand will reduce the rental costs as the supply increases which is why the current situation is so bad for students.

        2. Eileen Samitz


          Seriously? So now you are advocating against affordable housing? I mean please…small “a” or capital “A”, this is very disappointing to see you and the Vanguard advocating against the need for affordable housing.

          And yes, I do know the difference, and it was outrageous that Nishi was trying to get away without including any “A” affordable housing. It is hard to believe that you would defend the developers on that.

    3. Eileen Samitz


      Wow…more condescension  from you. This time you insult a world renowned UCD scientist whose expertise is in the subject of particulate matter and health impacts.

      Have you ever heard of Dr. Cahill? Have you ever read his publications on the Nishi site and his detailed comments to the City? Since you are faculty at UCD, I think it is disappointing to see you disparage another UCD professor who actually specializes in the subject of health impacts from particulate matter and air pollution, which does not sound like your academic area.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            I have read Dr. Cahill’s stuff quite extensively and agree with some of his concerns, however, there are two aspects of this that are important. One is that he is taking a position of extreme risk-aversion where he wants to prohibit development until things are shown to be save. The second has to do with at what point is exposure to the particulate matter problematic. It is one thing if you are going to live at a location for decades, it’s another thing for a year or two. Based on those considerations, while my preference is probably a commercial development there, I don’t know that we can preclude housing based on available information.

          2. Don Shor

            I don’t know about Joseph, but I read them in detail.
            The apartments would have been moved to the far end of the property.
            Extensive mitigation measures were to be implemented to reduce exposure. Exposure would have been limited in duration because most people would be short-term.
            The wind direction on the site is more dispersed and diverse than what was presented. Exposure to the exhaust and particulate matter would likely be less than was suggested, and probably not much different than living in homes on the other side of the freeway (like, say, New Harmony). Wind speed here is high compared to many other metropolitan areas. Bottom line: most of the time, the stuff would blow away.

            And in any event, the risk increase of specific diseases appears to be very low. Of course, it isn’t zero. It will never be zero. Risk is relative. So for those who look at those low numbers but wouldn’t feel safe living there, the answer would be to choose to live elsewhere. We are not talking about living next to a refinery or pollution-belching factory, no are we in an area of stagnant air and little circulation.

            So it is possible to look at the risk, even look at the opinion that was presented by Dr. Cahill, and come to different conclusions about whether it is reasonable to build housing there and live there. It’s a reasonable and informed risk assessment, and everyone differs as to what their individual tolerances for various risks are.

            It appears that Nishi is off the table for housing at this point. That’s unfortunate. But it just means we need to look to other sites for possible private rental housing.

  11. Greg Rowe

    Sorry to again be late in commenting but was away from home for much of the day. In terms of potential air quality human health impacts at the Nishi site, let us not lose sight of the fact that the EIR determined that the proposed project would result in significant and unavoidable impacts related to diesel particulate matter (PM) and ultrafine particulates (UFP).  The following is a direct quote from page 4.3-33 of the Nishi Gateway Project Draft EIR:  “While Mitigation Measures 4.3-5a, 4.3-5b, and 4.3.5c are expected to result in substantial reductions in exposure levels of UFPs and diesel PM, the level of effectiveness cannot be quantified.  For this reason, and because “safe” levels of UFP exposure and diesel PM exposure have not been identified by any applicable agency, or by a consensus of scientific literature, this analysis assumes that resultant levels of UFP exposure and diesel PM on the project site could potentially be associated with a substantial increase in health risks. Therefore, this impact would be significant and unavoidable.”  Given this conclusion, my personal belief was that it would be prudent to postpone residential development on the Nishi site until long-term, on-site air quality monitoring could be conducted.

    Based on my 25 years of working with CEQA and almost as many years working in the air quality field, I believe that any assumptions about potential human health risks associated with the proposed Lincoln40 project would be purely speculative at this point. We’ll simply have to wait to see what comes out of the DEIR air quality analysis.  And yes, Davis does not have any readily available land for any new large apartment complexes. That was made very clear in the April 25 EIR alternatives staff report to City Council for the Lincoln40 project.

    In terms of the number of students living on campus now versus off-campus and the likely numbers in each category when the draft LRDP ends in 2027-28, several of my previous posts spelled out those numbers in detail.  I put it all in a Word table that did not transfer well from my computer to the Vanguard, but perhaps David could reprint it. The numbers are quite astonishing. Below is the introductory paragraph to my statistical analysis.

    Readers of the draft LRDP may erroneously infer that increasing the percentage of UCD students living on campus from 29% in the LRDP baseline year (2015-16) to 40% in 2027-28 will reduce the number of UCD students living off-campus in Davis. As shown in my analysis, however, the expected increase of 6,337 students from 32,663 in the LRDP Baseline year of 2015-16 to 39,000 in 2027-28 means the actual number of students living in Davis will not decline. This conclusion was reached by assuming that the proportion of 2015-16 students living in Davis compared to other cities will be the same in 2027-28. Numbers shown in bold font in the table were derived from Tables 2 and 3 in the LRDP’s EIR Notice of Preparation (NOP) issued January 4, 2017.  6,337 more students–coupled with growth of 2,319 UCD employees, 1,444 dependents, 305 non-UC employees and 615 Los Rio Community College students—means continued low rental vacancy in Davis.  Housing just 40% of students on campus is inadequate.  

    The upshot of the analysis is that the number of students living on campus will increase from the 2015-16 baseline of 9,472 students (as noted in the NOP) to 15,600 (again, from the NOP). The number of students living off campus in 2015-16 was 20,578, or 63% of total 2015-16 baseline students of 32,663.  Extrapolating from UCD’s numbers, the percentage of the 39,000 total enrollment living off campus in the City of Davis during the 2027-28 school year would decline from 63% to  53.24%, but the actual NUMBER would increase from 20,578 to 20,763.  This may seem like only a slight increase, but keep in mind that many students are now living in unacceptable conditions not conducive to pursuing university studies, as was graphically pointed out by a sizeable number of students during the Sterling apartments discussion at City Council  two weeks ago.   UCD’s proposal to house nothing more than 90% of the anticipated increase of 6,337 students cited in the LRDP will not address any of the  problems currently being experienced by today’s students and by those who will replace them in the coming years.     

    In terms of current enrollment, the latest report from UCD is for the fall 2016 quarter. The total Davis campus population (excluding the med school and other facilities) was 34,972. For all practical purposes, that’s 35,000, or just 4,000 less than the 3-quarter average UCD is expecting in 10 years, leading to the conclusion that enrollment by then could very well top 40,000.

    I came across an interesting quote recently. It’s from the website for the Georgia Tech student housing office: “Research of college and university students across the nation shows that students who live on campus are more satisfied with their college experience, earn better grades and are more likely to graduate than their commuting peers.”  Seems like UCD has not yet gotten that message.

    Below are the assumptions I used in calculating the number of students living off-campus in Davis and other locales in 2027-28. A number of reviewers have gone over these calculations and no one thus far has found any holes in the analysis and assumptions.

    Calculations: 2015-16 Baseline Students

    0.29 x 32,663 =   9,472 living on campus.

    0.63 x 32,663 = 20,578 living in City of Davis

    0.08 x 32,663 =   2,613 living in other cities (Dixon, West Sacramento, Woodland, etc.

    Total number of students living off-campus: 20,578 + 2,613 = 23,191.

    Calculations: 2027-28

    1st, dividing 20,578 by 23,191 = 0.8873 This is the percentage of the total number of students living off campus in 2015-16 who lived in the City of Davis.

    2nd, dividing 2,613 by 23,191 = 0.1126.  This is the percentage of the total number of students living off campus in 2015-16 who lived outside Davis; i.e., in other cities

    3rd, 40% of 39,000 students in 2027-28 will live on campus, or 15,600. 

    4th, 60% of 39,000 students in 2027-28 will live off campus, or 23,400.

    5th, multiply 0.8873 x 23,400 = 20,763 students likely to live off campus in the City of Davis.  

    6th, multiply 0.1126 x 23,400 = 2,636 students likely to live outside Davis in other cities.   


  12. Greg Rowe

    A final thought.  It has been pointed out that the 1989 MOU between UCD and the City is not relevant because the world has changed since then. That’s true, but the important fact is that UCD pledged in that MOU that on-campus housing construction would keep pace with enrollment, and it failed to do so. More recently, in November 2002 the UC Board of Regents released its report, UC Housing for the 21st Century, which has been discussed several times recently in the Vanguard. That report stated that by 2012 UCD would house 38% of its students on campus with a goal of 40%.  As everyone knows, UCD came nowhere close to 38%.  Imagine what would have happened if UCD had met that goal. In all probability, by 2012 there would have been a lot more apartments available for rent by UCD faculty and staff and local working families.

    In a tone very different from UCD, the Chancellor of UC San Diego told the Regents at their January 25 meeting that he is pushing to provide every student with a 4-year on-campus housing guarantee by the 2024-25 school year.  That’s in San Diego, which is a MUCH bigger host city than the City of Davis with a population of just 66,000+.  UCSD has a strong chance of meeting that goal, because it will soon start demolishing a number of 2-story on-campus student apartment buildings and replacing them with new apartment buildings reaching 8 and 15 stories.  There’s no reason why UCD could not do that at Orchard Park and elsewhere on campus.  It just needs to be like UCSD and UC Irvine: go to the Regents and present detailed plans and funding proposals.  Thus far all UCD’s Interim Chancellor  has done is go to the November 2016 Regents meeting and make the inane statement that he “…hopes the City of Davis is happy that UCD is the city’s largest supplier of renters.” And on March 7,  UCD planners told the Yolo County of Supervisors that the campus will soon launch a transportation study to figure out how to leverage the resources of Unitrans, the Capital Corridor train and biking infrastructure to move members of “the UCD community” between campus and locales within the Sacramento region that have lower housing prices.  Wouldn’t it simply make a lot more sense to increase the local housing supply available to everyone by building many more student apartments on campus?

    1. JosephBiello

      @Greg – I think they should put more student apartments on campus and I hope that Orchard park gets built high.    I think we should be pushing them at all times to build more housing.  However, as I said above, I was dismayed when the town resisted the housing on Russell fields as well as how they roped off West Village by not allowing automobile access to Russell.    It suggests to me that the real driver of this discussion is that people say they want to manage the growth of the city and university, but what they actually want to do is STOP the growth of city and university.

      As I keep insisting above, there are new staff and faculty to house as well as students and if you look at the transportation survey, staff in particular have a high rate of car use because they live out of town in larger proportions.  Surely, many wish to live out of town – but that is a hard number to disentangle when the median house price in Davis is 50% more than that in Woodland (which it is right now).

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