Vanguard Talks to Student Leaders About Housing – Part 1


For over a year and a half, the Vanguard community has been discussing the issue of student housing, the LRDP (Long Range Development Plan) and the low housing vacancy rate.  With some notable exceptions, however, that conversation has not involved UC Davis students.

On Friday, the Vanguard had an hour-long interview with three student leaders.  Daniel Nagey is an ASUCD Senator, Sara Williams is the External Affairs Commission Chair and Georgia Savage is the director of the Office of Advocacy and Student Representation (OASR).

Due to the length of the interview and volume of material, I have broken the article into two parts.  In the first part we will cover on-campus housing concerns and the second part the LRDP and off-campus housing.

The biggest concern, according to Georgia Savage, is “finding affordable housing,” and she noted that the “vacancy rates across the UC system, not just Davis are concerningly low.”  She noted that there are more vacancies in West Village, “but most students can’t afford that.”

For Daniel Nagey, the biggest problem for the students “is finding housing” and most particularly “finding housing where we’re not doubling or tripling up in rooms.

“Finding housing that cheap (and) close to campus,” he said, is important because a lot of students are finding housing, but not close to campus which means they have to commute.  He noted that means more parking structures and “parking permits are around $400 a year.”  He said, “They kick you out to the perimeter of Davis and then they add this fee because they aren’t providing housing.”

Sara Williams pointed out that “even if you can afford the parking permit – sometimes there’s still not adequate parking on campus.”  She said, “We have students who buy the permit and then try to show up on campus and can’t park there and then have to go in the downtown and park in the downtown community.”

She noted there is a big discussion around parking in the community and what that means.  “Does that mean that more people are going to drive or is it an availability factor?” she said.  “I think we’ve found doing our research that the housing issue really extends into a lot of other policy areas in the city of Davis.”

For her, the biggest issue for students with regards to housing is “availability” which she says “plays into affordability.”

Along the lines of transportation, Sara Williams explained that she lives downtown, she has a car, but “I’ve driven onto campus once.”

Sara said, “I think that’s pretty common for students because there are pretty high rates of prices for parking.”  She explained, “Students will bus or bike every day if they can.”  She said that “those who choose to drive, it’s honestly out of necessity.

“Students only choose to drive to campus if they absolutely have to,” she said.

Daniel explained, “I wouldn’t even focus on parking because the whole parking crisis is coming from the lack of housing, the lack of housing that’s close to campus.”  He believes the parking problem will solve itself once we solve the housing problem.

Sara Williams noted that when they discussed the Sterling project, community members were upset about having parking at these projects “because they worry about traffic.”  For a lot of folks this means, “How is this going to affect my daily commute?”

Sara explained, “International students are really affected by this because a lot of them don’t have as much knowledge about how to sign leases or go about finding housing.”  The result is that a lot of the students living in the nearby community “are international students.”

She said, “That’s putting a lot of pressure on Yolo Bus lately because they’re having to be carrying a lot more passengers than they’re used to.”  More housing near campus, she thinks, reduces transportation problems across the board.

We talked about the high cost of housing at West Village and how the campus is seeking to address that.

Georgia Savage pointed out that, prior to this year, a lot of people would bring in additional beds and unofficially share a room even though there were not allowed to.  Now that the university is allowing for doubling up in the rooms, “they are increasing the rent.”

That is causing problems, and the result is that “sharing a room in West Village is the price I’m paying for a single in the community.  I don’t think students see that as a viable option because they can get a room closer to campus for the same or even less for their own room,” she explained.  “I don’t think that’s necessarily seen as an affordable option.”

Georgia  said, “I think they need to do a better job of marketing that.  I think if you went around and surveyed students, they wouldn’t even bring up West Village – it’s really expensive.  And most of them would not know that you’re going to be allowed to double.”

Daniel pointed out, “West Village really does capitalize on an easy transition because they do provide WiFi… it’s furnished, they have a washer and dryer in the room… it’s very flashy.”  For many students “it seems like a viable option, but very easily that rent adds up and very quickly you’ve spent gobs more money on renting this furniture that you’re not going to see at the end of the year versus purchasing your own and investing in that.”

You end up reducing the rent, “but they charge you $500 to share a room that’s already too small for a single.”  He feels like UC Davis is exploiting first time buyers who don’t realize that $500 “is actually a lot for a room I have to share.”

And in downtown or throughout the community, the living area is a lot larger than what you get on campus.

Georgia explained, “A lot of students only live there for a year because they figure it out.  They figure it out and then they leave because they realize that there are much better options available.”

I asked why the cost of housing was so high.  Sara Williams explains, “There are a lot of things that play into that number, but with the culture of Davis – first year housing isn’t mandatory on campus, but something like 95 percent of first year students do live on campus.”

The campus markets to the students that this is how they are going to make friends and get connected into the community.  At the same time, it appears that the campus uses the rents and added charges to fund programs – programs that many students do not know about and will never access.

They have peer advising that are hired.  Sara explained that “in its way it’s its own bureaucracy even with added administrative costs within that.

“I don’t know that we always go with the cheapest option of construction on campus.  I’m not convinced of that.  No one has given us an answered I’m satisfied with.”

Getting an answer appears difficult.  As Georgia Savage pointed out, there are so many different departments and overlapping bureaucracy that it is easy to point students asking questions in another direction.

For Georgia too, “I really think they capitalize on the social aspect of it – there’s a notion that if you want to make friends, then you need to live here.”  She said that’s why almost everyone lives in the dorms.  “It’s seen as a necessity or it will detrimentally affect your social life at UC Davis.”

Sara added, “Your success as a student is (pitched as) very dependent on living in first year housing.”

The students pointed out that it was never pointed out that living off-campus was an option for first year students.  Logistically it is difficult to live off-campus as a first year anyway.  Students don’t find out that they’ve been accepted and make their college decision until fairly late in the year.

Sara pointed out, “Because the vacancy rate is so low here… I don’t know how many options they can find as first year students.”

Daniel said that he thought as he came to UC Davis that it was mandatory for first year students to live in the dorms.

The question, of course, we had was what the students preferred, and for Daniel it was more about having the option to choose.  He said, “I think a lot of students who can’t afford it, who aren’t on financial aid, with that sticker price, they could afford (living off campus more easily).”

Georgia pointed out that for students, this is their first time renting a place – going to a new school is overwhelming anyway, so adding the pressure of finding a place off campus would often be overwhelming for new students.

“Being a first time renter with no assistance from the school, with in fact the school deterring you from doing so, I think would be very overwhelming,” she said.  “And would be easily taken advantage of – which a lot of students are.”

For Sara, she said, “I am very happy with my residence hall experience.”

She said if they had different types of student housing, “I would love to live on campus.   There’s nothing for me that I get living off campus except for affordability.”

“I would in a heartbeat love to live on campus,” Sara said.  The others agreed.  “That’s a major sentiment of most people that I’ve talked to.”

Daniel added, “The percentage of students that actually want to live far from campus are small.”

But that didn’t mean they wanted to live on campus for all four or five years.  For Sara, she would have opted to live on campus in her second and third year.

“If you had the option to stay a couple of years, I would be very surprised if the majority of students didn’t take that,” she said.  But not for all four years.  “I wouldn’t want to be 22 and told that there’s quiet hours,” she said for example.  “And then you have the option too to gain more knowledge about renting.”

Sara pointed out she hadn’t even turned 19 years old when they talked about signing their first lease “and we had no information and we had to show up and we had to do it early to make sure we had a place.”

She said, “We signed our lives away.”

We will have the second part tomorrow where they talk about the LRDP and off-campus housing options.

—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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86 thoughts on “Vanguard Talks to Student Leaders About Housing – Part 1”

  1. Tia Will

    I have a question for those who have college bound kids or have had recently. Is there any counseling or information on living situations and what to look for in different kinds of settings provided at the high school level or is this left to the individual colleges/universities once the student has been accepted ?

  2. Colin Walsh

    “The biggest problem for the students “is finding housing” and most particularly “finding housing where we’re not doubling or tripling up in rooms.”

    This Comment from Daniel Nagey is very important because it shows the big problem with the Universities recent efforts to increase available housing by doubling and tripling students up in existing rooms rather than actually building new housing infrastructure. The University needs to listen to students and simply must build more infrastructure for housing. Georgia Savage’s comments about the Universities high rents for shared rooms would seem to affirm the problems with the Universities recent no-build housing increases.

    Sara William’s point further reinforces this when she says,  “I would love to live on campus.   There’s nothing for me that I get living off campus except for affordability.”

    Indeed this is supported by the fact that the Colleges at La Rue – on campus – has been voted the best place to live in Davis 3 years in a row.

    Nagey’s further points about students being pushed to the periphery of Davis and surrounding cities is also spot on. With the University making plans to redevelop several existing housing areas, the University has a great opportunity to significantly increase available housing right on campus and close to classes simply by making the buildings taller – as is being done on other UC campuses across the state. (Currently UCD plans to tear down 2 story buildings and build 3 story buildings in their place)

    Again and again I have heard students cite affordability as a key issue. I fully understand that West Village is very expensive, but, University housing does not have to be as expensive as West Village. Just look to UC Irvine and UC San Diego where bellow market rate housing is being built using 2 entirely different models, both of which could be used on the Davis campus.

    At San Diego, the housing is being financed and managed by the campus it self. UC Irvine on the other hand  is working with a third party company, American Campus Communities, to finance build and manage new housing. What both campuses have cited as the reason they can offer housing below market rates is the fact that they already own the land. UC Davis owns the most land of any UC campus. UC Davis can clearly learn from these other campuses and provide high quality, desirable affordable housing on campus.

    1. David Greenwald

      It seems rather remarkable that as suppressed as the rental market is in Davis with the 0.2 percent vacancy, it’s still seemingly more affordable than on-campus housing.  And yes, I think that is something the university has to fix.

      1. Colin Walsh

        Clearly there is a low vacancy rate in Davis and the region, but it is worth looking more closely at the reported 0.2% vacancy rate because it may not tell the whole story. This number comes from the BAE Urban Economics Apartment Vacancy and Rental Rate Survey Presented on behalf of the UC Davis Student Housing as found on the UC Davis website This is a UCD sponsored survey.

        The methods behind this UCD survey warrant a closer look.

        First the survey only looked at market rate Multi-family housing. No single family housing or Affordable housing was considered.

        This survey at best only reflects the time of year with the absolute peak occupancy by design.

        “the 2016 survey took place during the months of October and November, with follow-up outreach to non-responding property owners and managers in late November and early December. The timing of the survey reflects the desire to capture information on housing market characteristics during peak occupancy (e.g., after the final day to add or drop classes, when enrollment for the academic year has stabilized).”

        Most of the year the vacancy rate is higher. How much higher is unclear.

        Next consider that the vacancy rate is primarily based on self-reported survey answers provided by, “143 unique apartment complexes and property management companies, representing 9,905 rental units.”

        It is notable that:

        “BAE used a secret shopper methodology to validate survey responses for a sample of the larger respondent complexes. The results of the secret shopper validation indicated that the survey responses generally corresponded with the information provided to individuals seeking rental accommodations.”

        But it is unreported how many of the larger complexes were actually double checked or what the secret shopper methodology actually was. There could easily have been over 100 apartment complexes in Davis that where not checked at all.

        Please also consider the Sacramento Bee reported in October of 2016 that the Davis Vacancy rate was .9% Only .1% lower than Woodland.

        Finally consider this,

        The objective of the survey is to provide information that will help inform planning decisions on campus, and throughout the broader Davis community. For example, survey results help campus officials to assess the current housing market conditions faced by UC Davis students, and to determine the likely feasibility of proposed housing projects.”

        If UCD believes this survey then they themselves should be rushing to build more student housing because based on this survey, and the projected enrollment increases more on campus housing is clearly more than feasible.


        1. Don Shor

          The most useful aspect of the housing survey in Davis is that it has always been done at the same time of year, so we can get a good sense for what is happening over time. So I have vacancy rate data going back to 1988, all based on fall surveys of apartment complexes. It is an apartment vacancy rate, not a rental housing vacancy rate. Since nearly all apartments in Davis are rented based on the cycle of the school year, the vacancy rate at the time people are seeking leases is the most useful data to have. Yes, single-family homes and affordable housing are excluded. They always have been. That makes this data uniquely useful. How the data that the Sac Bee reported was derived, I have no idea.

      2. Matt Williams

        David, how do you propose the university can/should “fix” the reality that off-campus housing in the city is more affordable than on-campus housing?

        1. Ron

          Matt:  Is that actually true, when comparing new housing on campus, vs. new housing in the city? (Might be difficult to determine this right now.)

          Also, is the vacancy rate any different for on-campus housing, vs. housing in the city?  (If the vacancy rate is higher on campus, that might be an indication that the rent is “too high”.)  Ultimately, market forces should ensure that campus housing is competitive with the cost of housing in the city. Otherwise, they’re going to be faced with a high vacancy rate, which will impact the return on their developer’s investment.

    2. Matt Williams

      Colin, finding housing falls into the category of a fundamental need.  Finding housing where we’re not doubling or tripling up in rooms falls into the category of a nice to have.  The students may want/desire a room of their own, but they do not need a room of their own.

      As Eileen has pointed out many times, one of the fundamental flaws of the design of the Sterling project is that each bedroom has its own bathroom.  Having access to a bathroom falls into the category of a fundamental need.  Having your own personal bathroom falls into the category of a nice to have.  The students may want/desire a bathroom of their own, but they do not need a bathroom of their own.

        1. Matt Williams

          My comment is directed at Daniel as well.  He would have no problem recognizing that.  With that said, you were the one who reinforced Daniel’s statement by quoting it, as well as noting its importance.  Are you now saying you have changed your mind and it isn’t important?

        2. Matt Williams

          I’m not discounting Daniel’s opinion Colin.  His opinion stands for itself in a era of conspicuously high levels of self-indulgence. As I pointed out, Eileen has made the same point with respect to the indulgent design of Sterling.

          As you often do, you are personalizing arguments.  The increased levels of self indulgence of our society exists independent of Daniel personally, or you personally, or me personally.

        3. Colin Walsh

          So you are saying Daniel and students in general are increasingly self indulgent. Maybe I have a different opinion of Daniel and other students because I have actually met him, volunteered on a project with him and know that he is better than that. In fact I have personalty met all of the students interviewed in this article, and been in meetings with them, and I have high regard for all of them.



        4. Matt Williams

          Again you are personalizing it.  Our society is considerably more self-indulgent, and the expectation that every person will have their own bed room while in college and every bedroom will have its own bathroom and every student will have a car to drive to classes are examples of that societal self-indulgence.  Step into a time machine and go back to your own college experience and look around you.  What proportion of students had their own bedroom?  Then compare that observation to today.

          You are arguing simply for the sake of arguing.

        5. Colin Walsh

          I don’t see where any of the students here have asked to always have their own bedroom with their own bathroom for their entire stay at UCD and they are certainly not advocating that every student should have a car. These three students have given thoughtful and nuanced  answers both in this article and in today’s article. Your wrongly conflating students desire to have a individual room for part of the time they are at UCD for the developer designed excesses of the Sterling project.

        6. David Greenwald

          My understanding is that the students were not complaining about sharing rooms they were complaining about sharing rooms and the University raising the rate of the overall room so that the sharing of rooms did not result in a huge savings for the students. And their point was why should they go on the University when they can get their own room for a lesser price in town.

        7. Matt Williams

          Colin Walsh said . . . “… always …” and then later “… entire …”

          No one said “always” or “entire” Colin.  Those were wilful insertions of a rhetorical argument device by you and you alone. When you make a statement absolute, as you have done, it rarely retains its veracity. Very few things in this World are absolute, not even death.

          Again, you are arguing for the sake of arguing.  That is your right to do . . . especially when executing a political campaign.  Your political position does not change the fundamental fact that our society is more self-indulgent now than it was 20 years ago or 40 years ago or 60 years ago or 70 years ago or 80 years ago.  Expecting a bedroom all to one’s self while in college is an example of that increased societal self-indulgence.  The daily filling of the parking lot between Veterans Memorial and Davis Senior High School is another such example.  Those are agnostic realities, not political arguments.

  3. Eileen Samitz

    I appreciate that the need for more on-campus housing is expressed by UCD students as well and clearly, it can and needs to be affordable as is being accomplished like the amazing success of the student housing program at UC Irvine. The students love the housing, the parents love the housing and it is affordable because UC Irvine partnered with the top ranking student housing company in the nation, American Campus Communities (ACC). This company only does student housing and so they know how to make it affordable. They are also working with UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz.

    UCD has been asked numerous times to contact American Campus Communities, yet they have not done it. Instead they hired Carmel Partners to build West Village, a company which did not have the experience of building student housing and all kinds of problems ensued including the expensive cost.

    So why doesn’t UCD reach out to experienced companies like ACC with all of the resources to create beautiful, affordable student housing? Also, UCD still insists on not practicing sustainable planning (although they preach it). UCD continues to under-utilize the sites they are planning to build or redevelop for the minimal amount of housing they are proposing with only  a net of 2-3 stories.  Meanwhile, all the other campuses are building a minimum of 5-6 stories where the cost is mitigated for steel framing by the multiplied number of units created as you go up. UC San Diego is building a 8-story and 15-story project creating thousands of beds where there was less then 50 beds before.

    UCD can and needs to provide much more on-campus housing because it is the only way to control the cost of rents for student housing long-term. This is precisely why the other UC’s are building as much on-campus housing as they possibly can now, with a minimum of housing for at least 50% of their total student population, while UCD continues to under-serve their students. Even the Regents members praised UC Irvine and UC San Diego after their presentations and asked if they could build even more and higher densities to provide the maximum on-campus housing for long-term affordability and availability for the students.  Instead UCD prioritized art museums and more music recital centers, rather then addressing the need for far more on-campus student housing.



    1. Eileen Samitz


      It does not seem feasible that the UCD planners would not be involved in interviewing the developer candidates. There is no excuse what this outreach to American Campus Communities has not been done by UCD as has been done by all of these other UC’s.

    2. Colin Walsh

      Also when considering how expensive West Village is, consider the over the top amenities included. West village is nothing like any student housing I ever lived in that’s for sure:
      Full Size Washer and Dryer
      Included In Every Apartment
      Vibe Lounge With XBox One and PS4
      Rent The Newest Games For Free
      Theater With Surround Sound
      Free Movies To Rent! Reserve Theater For Private Viewing!
      24 Hour Study Rooms
      Available To Reserve For Private Study Groups
      Three Resort Style Pools
      Included a Heated Lap Pool
      Two 24 Hour Gyms
      Includes Free Weights, TRX and Kettle Bells
      Two Hot Tubs
      Open 8:00 am – 10:00 pm Daily
      Free Furniture Package
      Fully Furnished Common Area and Bedrooms
      Electricity Included
      Estimated Monthly Expense Runs Typically $30 Per Month
      Two 24 Hour Gyms
      Includes Ellipticals, Treadmills, and Weight Machines
      5000 SQ FT Main Clubhouse
      Billards, Ping Pong, Foosball

      1. Eileen Samitz

        Wow…so clearly West Village is luxury student housing with this impressive list of “amenities”. So that raises the obvious question of why isn’t UCD building more apartments that are not the high-end, luxury type like West Village which would be more affordable? That would be a logical direction and solution which would address the affordability issue long-term for the students and availability on-campus with closer proximity to their classes (as Daniel points out is important).

        There is always a waiting list for the domes and the co-op housing on-campus because of their affordability. Meanwhile, the amenities of  pools and the ARC for exercise are already on campus for the students. Each apartment complex does not need its own pool and recreational facility which would drive up the costs. In fact, that would allow better use of the land for more apartments.

        So why isn’t UCD planning these higher density affordable apartments on campus without all of these expensive “extras” like at the West Village luxury student apartments, for students who can’t afford living in luxury apartments?

        1. Matt Williams

          Eileen, the answer to the “Why?” question in your last paragraph is straightforward.  Like other UCs, UCD isn’t building the housing themselves. They have turned over those design and amenities decisions to the third party organization (Carmel Partners here and, as you have pointed out, ACA in other UC campuses) who build and operate the housing.

  4. David Greenwald

    One of the interesting points made by the students was that they have primarily met with the planning people, but the planning are not the decision-makers and so as I read Eileen’s comment – part of the problem I suspect is that the planners and the people you are telling things to are not calling the shots and there’s effective way to get to their pressure point.

    1. Eileen Samitz


      The decision makers and the planners have to be working together so there must be feedback occurring. So, it is all the more important that the students continue to give input to whomever they are talking to at UCD, that UCD needs to stop making excuses and start stepping up to provide the needed on-campus housing like all the other UC campuses are doing. Also, the students, particularly the student reps, have the right to ask to speak directly to the decision makers as well.

  5. Ron

    Eileen:  “UCD has been asked numerous times to contact American Campus Communities, yet they have not done it.”

    I don’t understand this, either.  Last year (during a council hearing with UCD officials present), I recall asking about this, and expressed surprise that they hadn’t done so.  The letter and resolution from the council also mentions increased density.  I recall that Greg Rowe has cited company a number of times for many months now, on the Vanguard.

    What, exactly, is the problem? Has anyone from UCD addressed this in any manner? Has someone at UCD been specifically asked?

    1. Eileen Samitz


      UCD has been asked this numerous times, in writing to UCD directly as well as the City Council, in Op-eds in the Vanguard and the Enterprise,  and letters to the editor, by conversations with UCD reps at at their UCD LRDP meetings, and at City Council public testimony. Yet, there is no indication that UCD has done any outreach to American Campus Communities (ACC). Since all of these other UC’s are working with ACC, it gives all the more reason why UCD should also be talking to them.

  6. Howard P

    “Rents” are misleading, unless you are careful what you call “rent”… many of the dorms come with meal plans… the older ones at least might have one stove/oven per building. No clue what the %-age between housing only, or housing with meal plan is today…

    1. Colin Walsh

      Thanks for pointing out the 2012 article. I was referencing the presentation made by UCSD to the regents in January, Either way it is clear there are more than one road to financing below market rate housing on UC campuses.

    2. Eileen Samitz


      Not sure what you are saying, but this article that you referenced confirms that UC Irvine student housing is 10% below market rate. Meanwhile it also shows UCD essentially in defensive mode trying to excuse why West Village is not below market rate as well. So, this article supports points that I, and others have been bringing up that UCD should be able to accomplish what all these other campuses are, by providing far more on-campus housing for their students. Thank you for this reference since I had not seen it yet.

    1. Colin Walsh

      Sure, and like I pointed out above, the Colleges at LaRue –  a public private partnership – was voted the best place to live in Davis 3 years in a row.

        1. Matt Williams

          Eileen, I understand that Colin is asking me to look at the link, and I have visited that page many, many times over the years, and the information that is available there is very informative on the subject . . . and provides UCD’s answer to the question that I posed to Colin; however, my question was not posed to UCD.  It was posed to Colin himself, and I’m interested in his personal answer to the question, not an impersonal third-party answer.  If he doesn’t want to provide that personal answer, that is his right to do.  If that is his preference, then perhaps he should say so.

      1. Howard P

        Eileen… your cite only shows 4 stories of housing, and are apparently mixed used buildings. The buildings may be 6 stories, but not six stories of “housing”.

        When I think of 6 stories of student residences I assume that there are at least 5 stories over the entire footprint devoted to housing… maybe one for dining commons/auxil. services pertinent to the housing…

        Your cite shows very little “housing” as in rooms where one can sleep.

    2. Eileen Samitz

      Meanwhile it is notable that other UC campuses have stepped-up to build far more on-campus housing (unlike UCD so far) such as UC Irvine, UC Berkeley, UC Los Angeles, UC San Diego and CSU Fresno, all of which have popular and successful American Campus Communities student housing projects. Yet, there are none at UCD. There is no excuse why UCD cannot achieve what all these other campuses have. But on to addressing Bisch’s comments.

      First of all, yes, the rents UC Irvine are reasonable and the UC Irvine reps reported that they were below market.

      Second, UC Irvine has 6-story towers on the campus now and is building more.  American Campus Communities has taller apartments at UC Berkeley
       and UC LA
      These UC campuses found a way to make their on-campus housing projects so successful and so affordable, why can’t UCD do the same which has over 5,300 acres? The fact that UCD has more options on its enormous campus make it embarrassing that UCD continues to try to weasel out of providing the needed student housing that the other UC’s are providing for their students. The cost of land is the biggest factor dictating the cost of housing. UCD has over 5,300 acres of land which has zero cost which gives UCD the opportunity to provide the most beds and the most affordable on-campus housing in the UC system. If UC Irvine was creative enough to have additional non-profit partnerships, why can’t UCD accomplish this too?

      In comparing cost of housing, on-campus housing is cheaper long term because: 1) the cost of the land is zero for UC’s like UCD, 2) the university does not have an affordable housing obligation which adds cost to off-campus housing developers, and 3) the UC system does not need to pay property tax long term.  All of these factors make on-campus housing the logical solution for all the UC’s, which, again, is why the other UC’s are being pro-active and building as much on-campus housing as possible now while interest rates are low, except UCD continues to try to find excuses and stall.


      But some important concepts to understand about the benefits of on-campus housing include: 1) proximity to the classrooms for the students, eliminating commuting and parking and the associate costs; 2) this provides the added benefit of sustainable planning reducing impacts on the environment and supports climate action goals; 3) housing can only legally be dedicated for students on-campus, which eliminates the issue of students competing with non-students for housing; and 4) the cost of rent for student housing can only be controlled long term with on-campus housing, whereas off-campus housing the rents cannot be controlled off campus long term. This is exactly why the other UC campuses are building the maximum amount of student housing now as a long term solution, however, UCD cannot seem to “get-it-together” yet.

      1. Matt Williams

        Eileen Samitz said . . . “First of all, yes, the rents UC Irvine are reasonable and the UC Irvine reps reported that they were below market.

        Second, UC Irvine has 6-story towers on the campus now and is building more.”

        Eileen, to exercise my curiosity I went to the UC Irvine Housing site (see  In the Housing Options drop down menu there are seven alternatives listed (two of them twice) in the categories of Residence Halls (2 choices), Academic and Theme Houses (1), Undergraduate Apartments (2), and Graduate Apartments (4).  Clicking on all seven alternatives, none appear to be more than four stories.  Where are the 6-story tower alternatives on their website?

        The rates they show for the Undergraduate Apartments in Campus Village are $646 per month per student (double occupancy).  Their description is as follows, “Campus Village provides housing to 588 undergraduates and 96 graduate students (in separate sections of the community). Apartments have two bedrooms and one bathroom.  Undergraduates share double occupancy bedrooms, with four students in each apartment. ”  $1,292 double occupancy ($2,584 per month for a two-bedroom apartment) appears to be consistent with the market rate for a 2-bedroom (if–Irvine/ can be believed)

        1. Matt Williams

          Eileen, thank you.  That clearly shows the future trajectory.  Do you have a link for “UC Irvine has 6-story towers on the campus now”?  If I read the website graphic correctly (see the new Mesa Court Towers will be that tall, but the current Mesa Court buildings are only 2 stories tall.

          All the Mesa Court buildings are Residence Halls with dorm room accommodations. Does UCI have any apartments in the pipeline?

          It is hard to compare pricing of Dorm rooms with mandatory meal plans to apartments off-campus. So I’m not sure how anyone is going to be able to audit Richard Orr’s apples and oranges statement. In ICI’s current rates Residence Halls are lower then On-Campus apartments now.

        2. Ron

          Also, the article essentially states that apartments built on-campus by the university itself are 20% less rent than apartments off-campus. (10% + 10%, as discussed in the article.)

        3. Matt Williams

          To supplement my comment above, the graphics below captured from the UCI website and from (see LINK) appear to indicate that Richard Orr needs to doublecheck the his Irvine housing market data.

          Using the two examples from the screen capture below, 2-bedroom apartment rents are just over $2,400 per month. Scrolling further down the ApartmentGuide listing shows plenty of 2-bedroom apartments under $2,000 per month.

          Now looking at the UC Irvine information for the on-campus Campus Village undergraduate apartments, the monthly rent for a 2-bedroom is $2,584 per month ($646 times 4).  Last time I checked $2,584 is not 10% below $2,400.


        4. Ron


          So, without specifically stating so, it seems that you’re acknowledging that your understanding regarding an “apples-to-oranges” comparison was incorrect.

          According to the article above, the rents at the (on-campus) Vista Del Campo apartment complex are REQUIRED to be at least 10% below comparable market-rate apartments located off-campus.  And, rents at University-built housing are REQUIRED to be an additional 10% below that amount.  (In other words, at least 20% below market-rate apartments located off-campus.)

          Instead of comparing other apartment complexes, might it be better to examine and compare the on-campus development that’s being referred to?

          Regarding your comment concerning the need for Richard Orr to double-check his Irvine housing market data, might it be more accurate to state that you don’t know what comparable data is being used?




        5. Matt Williams

          Now that the evening activities are done I have copied and pasted Eileen’s Richard Orr quote into Google and came up with a January 30, 2012 article from California Watch (see  The Richard Orr quote in the article refers to Vista del Campo Norte, and provides a link to the ACC website for that complex (see  In the five years since the article was published the “$585 per month for a bed in a three-bedroom unit and $1,225 monthly for a one-bedroom, 550-square-foot apartment” rates quoted in the article have risen to $706.00 and $1,428 respectively (see graphic below).  So the aggregate monthly rent for the three-bedroom unit is $4,236.00, which is an interesting comparison to the off-campus 3-bedroom rate of $3,200 at University Town Center Apartments.

        6. Ron

          Matt:  “Now that the evening activities are done I have copied and pasted Eileen’s Richard Orr quote . . .”

          For the record (again), the article was originally posted by a “non-combatant / non-militant” (Michael Bisch).

          Matt:  “which is an interesting comparison to the off-campus 3-bedroom rate of $3,200 at University Town Center Apartments.”

          And, despite me pointing it out three times now (including the first time, in which you completely misunderstood the comparison), is still not the appropriate comparison to make.

          To restate from above:

          The rents at the (on-campus) Vista Del Campo apartment complex are REQUIRED to be (at least) 10% below comparable, nearby market-rate apartments located off-campus.  And, rents at University-built housing are REQUIRED to be (at least) an additional 10% below that amount.  (In other words, at least 20% below market-rate apartments located off-campus.)

          Would you care to try a fourth time? (Or, perhaps explain your concerns to Richard Orr



      2. Mark West

        “Second, UC Irvine has 6-story towers on the campus now and is building more.”

        Have you taken a look at the Irvine skyline lately? A Six-story building is relatively small in comparison to what is found in downtown Irvine. UC campuses tend to construct buildings that are in keeping with their host City. If we want six-story apartments on campus, we should start building six-story (or taller) buildings downtown.

        1. Eileen Samitz


          I really do not understand your rationale. Clearly, 5-6 stories can work on campus because they already have some buildings that high. However, in the City a 5-6 story building next to one and two story housing does not work well due to the impacts, particularly on the traffic generation that would result.

        2. Mark West

          “I really do not understand your rationale.”

          No doubt.

          “in the City a 5-6 story building next to one and two story housing does not work well due to the impacts, particularly on the traffic generation that would result.”

          The impacts are the same, Eileen, whether the new residential construction is on campus or in town. So if multistory construction is appropriate on one side of Russel Blvd, it is just as appropriate on the other. Both lead to more people in town, increased traffic and demand for services (yet only one results in increased revenues for the City). Unless, of course, you intend for us to build a wall along the edge of campus to keep those pesky students in their place.



        3. Jim Hoch

          This comment seems backwards to me. It seems to imply we should put density in areas that are already showing traffic stress rather in areas that are not, like 5th.

          Not sure that makes any sense at all.

          “Clearly, 5-6 stories can work on campus because they already have some buildings that high. However, in the City a 5-6 story building next to one and two story housing does not work well due to the impacts, particularly on the traffic generation that would result.”

        4. Eileen Samitz


          UC Irvine opened the 3 Mesa Court towers last fall. It was on the link I gave you.

          “In fall 2016, Mesa Court will open three new buildings–the Mesa Court Towers (pictured above).”

          Also, I know they are building more student housing but I believe it is two more towers since they are popular with the students and so successful. UC Irvine’s on-campus housing program is thriving so well that they will be up to 46% on-campus housing within 2 years.

          So as UC Irvine races towards actual provision of on-campus housing for 50% of its total student population, UCD continues to stall and under-perform in providing the needed on-campus housing for its students.

        5. Matt Williams

          Eileen Samitz said . . . “Also, I know they are building more student housing but I believe it is two more towers since they are popular with the students and so successful”

          I don’t see any disconnect between our respective comments.  UCI is moving forward actively with more student housing, and as you have noted above, towers like Mesa Court Towers are popular with the students.  Since all the Mesa Court buildings are Residence Halls with dorm room accommodations, that would appear to indicate that a substantial cohort of UCI students prefer dorm room accommodations to apartments.  That is interesting.  Is that a conclusion that you have come to as well from the UCI information?

          It is hard to compare the affordability of Residence Halls to on-campus Undergraduate Apartments because the $16,385 annual fee for a bed in Mesa Court Towers includes a mandatory (use it or lose it) meal plan, and the $6,164 for a bed in Campus Village does not.


        6. Eileen Samitz


          I am not sure why you might think 3 bedrooms at UC Irvine costs $4,236, because as it shows on your graphic the range of ACC 3-bedroom apartments is $2,118 – $2,949 ($706-$983 per bed) per month depending on the square footage, the number of bathrooms and if there are 3 or 4 occupants. The lowest price is if a 4th roommate shares the largest bedroom (otherwise all the other 3 bedroom plans have only have 3 roommates total.) So your UCI cost is incorrect and more than twice than what the actual cost is.

          Second, you are not comparing apples and apples at all by trying to compare the ACC Vista del Campo Norte on-campus housing to the University Town Center off-campus private market rate apartments because the market rate apartment are not furnished, do not include cable, do not include internet, and utilities like electricity and gas are not included. ALL of these things add significant costs to the off- campus housing so your prices comparison is not accurate.

           In contrast, all of these things are included in the ACC apartments on campus and for far less money, plus proximity to the classrooms and many free amenities like work out rooms, game rooms, etc all for free too. In fact, here is the list of what is included with the ACC on-campus apartments at UC Irvine with the caveat that electricity usage has a cap which is good so it is not abused:

          UC Irvine ACC apartments includes all this:

          Furnished apartments
          Private and shared accommodations available
          Air conditioning
          Coffee table
          Entertainment center
          Full-sized kitchen
          Built-in dining area with chairs
          Full-sized refrigerator
          Electric oven/range
          Garbage disposal
          Study desk and chair
          Twin XL-sized beds
          On-site laundry facilities
          Sprinkler system in each unit
          Individually locking bedroom doors


          Electricity (up to a monthly allowance)
          Cable TV

          Third, the prices your saw on line for the off-campus market rate University Town Center apartment costs are all outdated, I called today to check and now the pricing is significantly more for all the apartments. For instance, the University Town 3-bedroom apartments are $4,000 plus all of the added costs for utilities, cable, internet costs, and without furniture. So, if anything, the UC Irvine estimate of on-campus housing being 10% below market rate is a very modest estimate which makes UC Irvine on-campus housing a much better deal than off-campus housing plus the proximity to the classes plus getting all the amenities.

        7. Matt Williams

          Eileen, the answer to that question is provided by the UC Irvine website itself, which very clearly says, “Undergraduates share double occupancy bedrooms”

          That makes the math for a 3-bedroom apartment very simple.  3 bedrooms times 2 undergraduates per bedroom times $706.00 per person.  3 x 2 x $706 = $4,236.  For a 2-bedroom apartment it would be 2 x 2 x $706 = $2,824.  Both those numbers are significantly higher than the off-campus apartments listed on

          One of the thoughts that went through my mind as I did these calculations, is that the “requirement” that the ACA apartments be 10% below the market rate of off-campus apartments in Irvine may be a MOU . . . and we all know how binding MOUs are.

      3. Eileen Samitz

        per Mark: “The impacts are the same, Eileen, whether the new residential construction is on campus or in town”


        No the impacts are not the same. The housing for students on-campus is closer to their classrooms, so it does not generate the traffic that off-campus housing for students would. Off-campus housing requires the students to commute to and from the campus daily.

      4. Eileen Samitz

        Jim Hoch,

        The point is that 5-6 story housing in the City would generate much more traffic from students trying to get to and from the campus daily. In addition, 5-6 story buildings would not be compatible in neighborhoods due to the height differences and the impacts including privacy issues.

        These are not problems on campus because the students would already be on the campus near their classes and would not need to commute. Also, 5-6 stories is more compatible on campus because there are already are some existing taller buildings on the campus.

      5. Howard P

        Eileen… ‘stories’ don’t generate traffic (more accurately, ‘trips’ as trips can be pedestrian, MV, bicycle, transit, etc.) … people do… no doubt you will find that comment mean, divisive, derogatory, dismissive, inappropriate, name-calling, etc.

        Yet, it is true.

        Normally, work-home trips are typically (general population) ~ 10-20% trips (regardless of mode, but in my experience 40 years ago, when my ‘work’ was being a student @ UCD, work-home trips were 90%, and all were ped/bike… never left campus for that 90%… had no car, (nor access to one).  So if a student has primarily M-W-F classes, and schedules them well, as that is one trip in, one trip out related to being a student… was true when I lived off-campus.  Same for Tu-Thu classes.

        Guilty.  As you would likely ‘charge’ me.  [as you have others who disagree with you]

        I believe we should go back to the older “dorm” concept… relatively small rooms, two persons per room, communal bathrooms, dining commons, relatively inexpensive housing.  Worked fine… also encouraged socialization…

        I liked dorm life… they ‘kicked me out’ after Junior year… I support UCD providing dorm life… I cannot get behind shutting all housing opportunities down, in the City, in the inane hope that will “force UCD” to act differently than it has.

      6. Eileen Samitz


         Your numbers are still off because you made two incorrect assumptions. Let me explain.

        1)     For UC Irvine’s Campus Village on-campus apartments you got confused by the sentence that says “four students living in double occupancy”. What they are saying is four student total living in in a 2 bedroom 1 bathroom apartment. The 2 bedroom 1 bathroom apartment illustration is on line next to the narrative you posted. So the price is and the price is $685 month per student which equals $2,740 per month (not $4,236 per month) divided by 4 students total. This is double occupancy of 2 bedrooms not 4 bedrooms. So, this apartment complex is very reasonable particularly for the cost of housing in the Irvine vicinity but it does not have all the “bells and whistles” as some of the other on-campus apartment complexes.

        2)    You used the costs from a different UC Irvine apartment complex (which is what the article was about), the Vista del Campo Norte apartment complex which has many more amenities and you were mistakenly using their 3 bedroom 2 bathroom apartment which allows double occupancy in the largest bedroom for $706/month for 4 students in a 3 bedroom 2 bath apartment which is $2,824 per month (not $4,236). Again, these apartments are furnished, and the rent includes utilities, cable, internet plus many amenities including free game rooms, fitness equipment rooms, a pool on site, etc.

        3)     So again, the 3 bedroom, 2 bath apartment at the off- campus University Town Center rent cost that you had was outdated. Those 3 bedroom 2 bathroom apartments are $4,000 per month now (not $3,200) which I confirmed by phone today and which does not including all the other costs for cable, internet, utilities, plus they would not have all the amenities that the ACC apartments offer either.

      7. Matt Williams

        Eileen, the key statement from the UCI Housing website, “Undergraduates share double occupancy bedrooms” means that in a two-bedroom apartment (as you have noted) the total number of students is four.  In a three-bedroom apartment the total number of students is six.  3 x 2 x $706 = $4,236. (Note: I chose the cheaper of the two 3-bedroom rates. $706 is replaced by $844 in one of the higher priced Vista Del Norte units.)  The Vista Del Norte monthly rent for a two-bedroom unit is $1,070 per person per month.  In that case 2 x 2 x $1,070 = $4,280 per month rent paid to ACA each month.

        Regarding out-of-date information on off-campus apartments, I just went to–Irvine/ and the information that I captured in the screen shot is still the same, so I called the 855-403-7433 number, and they verified that you are correct the prices have gone up somewhat for the Studios, 1-Bedrooms, and 2-Bedrooms.  Their 3-Bedroom units have jumped up to $3,900.

        You made a point about furnished vs. unfurnished.  That is a valid point as far as it goes.  My own college experience (lo these many moons ago) was that I was much better off financially if I got my own furniture, and that the huge markup on the provided furniture makes it a massive cash cow for the landlord.  It also makes it almost impossible to enforce the statement, “The rents at the (on-campus) Vista Del Campo apartment complex are REQUIRED to be (at least) 10% below comparable, nearby market-rate apartments located off-campus.”  Regardless, affordability is all about the size of the check you have to write each month.  The larger that check is, the less affordable it is.




      8. Eileen Samitz

        Per Matt: Eileen, the key statement from the UCI Housing website, “Undergraduates share double occupancy bedrooms” means that in a two-bedroom apartment (as you have noted) the total number of students is four.  In a three-bedroom apartment the total number of students is six.  3 x 2 x $706 = $4,236. (Note: I chose the cheaper of the two 3-bedroom rates. $706 is replaced by $844 in one of the higher priced Vista Del Norte units.)  The Vista del Campo Norte monthly rent for a two-bedroom unit is $1,070 per person per month.  In that case 2 x 2 x $1,070 = $4,280 per month rent paid to ACA each month.


        No, the $4,236 is not correct. You are looking at two different projects. Double occupancy of two bedrooms is in the 2 bedroom 2 baths at Campus Village, not Vista del Campo Norte.

        At Vista del Campo Norte double occupancy is only in the one larger room, so it is a total of 4 students (not 6) at Vista Campo del norte for that 3 bedroom model. So it is $705 X 4, (not X6) which equals $2,824, not $4,280. Also, the 2 bedroom 2 bath is single room occupancy, so it is 2 X $1,020 = $2,140 (not $4,280). I have confirmed all of this.


      9. Matt Williams

        Eileen Samitz said . . . “I have confirmed all of this.”

        Eileen, please provide a link and/or a telephone number and contact for the source you used to confirm.  I will be glad to expend the effort to contact that source as well.

  7. Sharla C.

    I just want to point out that UCI guarantees incoming Freshman housing on campus for two years and incoming Transfer students housing for just one year. Other students can go on a waitlist and take a chance that there will be space after all the freshman and transfer students have been placed.  This is not much different than UCD.  The towers are freshman dorms, not apartments, with double, triple and even quadrupal rooms for 12-16K a year, depending on the meal plan.

    1. Eileen Samitz


      The towers at UCI were designed to accommodate double, triples and quads. They are larger units for comfort and efficiency, unlike UCD’s dorms which are smaller and were not designed for 3 students or even 2 students in some very small rooms. The UCD housing is getting raving reviews by students and parents at UCD. That certainly is not the case at UCD. Students are being shoe-horned in because UCD did not plan properly and continues to not plan properly to provide enough on-campus housing.

      1. Howard P

        In 2001, CalPoly SLO turned their study rooms, etc. into makeshift dorm rooms… 2001…

        [construction on new dorms was running 5-6 months late]

      2. Sharla C.

        I’ve seen the dorm rooms in Tercero. They are very large and can accommodate 3 beds, desks and closets.  But I’m sure that this is not ideal for students used to their own rooms or shared with a sibling before they come to college.  It will be cheaper to live in a place where you can purchase and cook your own food.  UCI students can stay in on campus housing for 2 years (or one year for transfer students), when they need to move off campus. UCD can accommodate students in dorms for one year.   At UCI, the rates are quite high – $14,000 per 9 month year for a shared room with a meal plan.  I’m not sure the comparison is worthy of such high praise of UCI or of such criticism of UCD.  Until the rents in the city of Davis rise and exceed $1000 per room, on campus housing will be the more expensive option.


        1. Eileen Samitz


          First, you cannot try to compare dorm costs to off-campus housing living because there are too many differences like the dorms have meal plans and include utilities like electricity, water, and they have amenities like recreation rooms, study rooms, etc.

          Second UCI does a better job of providing much more space for the dorm rooms, particularly triples, than UCD and the costs are less at UC Irvine then UCD.

          So why can’t UCD accomplish what UC Irvine is accomplishing of providing more beds, better floor plans, and better costs?

        2. Sharla C.

          Eileen, Did you read the article?  Students want their own rooms and not shared rooms at $750 a month.  UCI houses Freshman and Sophomore students who can afford these rates.  You give no information on how many units there are compared to the total number of students, so you can use this as a criticism.  The students have it right – better to engage and discuss with the university, than badger, criticize and ridicule, protest, harangue, etc.

        3. Ron


          From your perspective, what do you think the answer is regarding Eileen’s question?

          Eileen:  “So why can’t UCD accomplish what UC Irvine is accomplishing of providing more beds, better floor plans, and better costs?”

          Also, considering that Eileen just pointed out that you’re making an “apples to oranges” comparison, what is your basis for making the statement that, ” . . . on campus housing will be the more expensive option.” (That’s not the case at Irvine, when comparing apartments on, vs. off-campus.) An example is provided (in-depth), above.

        4. Ron


          Also – I’ve asked this question of others, but haven’t received a response.

          Why is it that some continue to claim that building new housing on-campus is “more expensive” than building new housing off-campus?

          There is no cost of land for buildings on-campus.  There is no property tax.  There are no costs related to Affordable housing requirements.  Other commenters have pointed out that prevailing wage requirements may not apply.  There are sources of financing/funding other than the university, itself (including but not limited to the example discussed in the article below).

        5. Ron

          Oh – and just in case you missed it above:

          Regardless of costs to build, Universities have the ability to REQUIRE that rents at on-campus apartments are less than off-campus apartments.  A detailed example is discussed above.

        6. David Greenwald


          Here are some answers as I understand it:

          1. You have not factored in the cost of prevailing wages that the university is required to pay

          2.  You have not factored in sustainability costs

          3.  As I understand it, part of the cost of housing on-campus pays for a bunch of services to the students (that they may never access and may not need)

          Based on this – (1) is a needed added cost, (2) is an added cost that some might consider optional and (3) is a financing issue that the university probably could re-think.

          I don’t have any sort of analysis on how much that impacts housing costs.

          There is a fourth one, instead of allowing for the students who share a room to simply take existing cost and cut it in half, they have increased the total cost of the room and then split it in half, which again adds unnecessarily to the costs.

          Part of the answer that I think you are missing here is that you have a monopolistic, quasi-government agency dictating cost rather than market factors in the private sector and that inherently means that on-campus housing will be more expensive.

        7. Ron

          David:  As I noted, I recall another commenter (perhaps Jim Frame) mentioning that prevailing wage requirements may not always apply.

          I don’t know what “sustainability costs” are, nor how they would compare or apply to off-campus housing.

          You’re right – students shouldn’t have to pay for costs that might be optionally “added on to” the costs of on-campus housing, for services they don’t need.

          Again, there are no costs for land, no property taxes, and no costs related to Affordable housing requirements for housing on-campus. And, there are sources of funding which don’t have to come from the university, itself.

          It’s difficult to see what the “problem” is, here.



        8. Colin Walsh


          You have admitted that UCD can only guarantee housing for first year students at UCD while UC Irvine (and most other UCs) can guarantee housing for two years. The simple reality is there is a demand surpasses UCD’s housing infrastructure so they can not guarantee housing for more than 1 year. There is an unmet demand for on campus housing at UCD past the first year.

          So you can argue all day about who has the nicer rooms, but doing so ignores the key underlying fact that there are students who want to live on campus but UCD will not guarantee housing for them like other UCs do.

        9. Howard P

          Ron… “sustainability costs” are generally the increment between meeting the building codes, as they exist, to meeting the zero net energy/LEED platinum type standards.  There are always “trade-offs”.  Meeting high “sustainability” standards costs money, which conflicts with “affordability”.  Are you clear on that?

          “Prevailing Wage” is similar.  The difference between ‘minimum wage’, ‘living wages’, and ‘prevailing wages’ affects costs.  Hence, affordability.  Public entities in California are required to pay prevailing wages for ‘public projects’.  There is a classic case in California, where a City tried to save money, to build a library, had a private developer build it with no prevailing wage requirement, the the City “reimbursed” the developer, and accepted the finished “public work”.  Unions objected, took it to court claiming it was a ‘run-around’.  Trial court agreed, City appealed, and lost so badly at the appellate level, that the appellate court’s decision was “certified”… citable and to be respected by other courts, as precedent.

          Agencies can ask for ‘waivers’, but those are indeed complicated and expensive, to justify and get.  And rare… very rare.

      1. Sharla C.

        You’re right…no guarantee, but I do have students who are finding that they can stay in the dorms for a 2nd year.  However, it is more expensive than living off campus.

        1. Colin Walsh

          Living in the dorms and living off campus is not a apples to apples comparison. Second year students could also live in the several UCD run apartment complexes under the 2nd year guarantee, but the University does not have enough housing available to grantee housing for second years like most other UCs do.

        2. Colin Walsh

          The really important thing to note here is UC Davis cannot guarantee second year housing on campus because there is greater demand for second year housing on campus than there is available on campus housing.

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