On Tuesday, the Yolo County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to support a resolution introduced by Supervisor Jim Provenza and crafted by Supervisor Jim Provenza, Eileen Samitz, Greg Rowe and Colin Walsh which, among other things, asked for the university to increase the on-campus housing to 100 percent of campus enrollment growth and 50 percent of the total UC Davis student population by 2027-28 with a call for increased height to five or six stories.
Supervisor Provenza said that the reason he brought this was “concern for the impacts of communities in Yolo County.” He said that in Davis, the lack of housing “really creates a situation where people can’t afford to live there. Where if they do live there, they are quadrupled up in very small apartments.
“It’s a very desperate housing situation,” he said. “Where students are being pushed further and further from campus.”
He explained that with the current situation, where the university will go from 29 percent of students on campus to only 40 percent, “you will have more students seeking housing, not less.
“Fifty percent is a reasonable goal, most of the other universities have set that goal,” he said. “We actually do have to do what the other universities have done which is set that 50 percent as a number as an alternative in the EIR. Set that limit at 5 or 6 stories – which I think is the only way they are going to get to that number.”
Supervisor Don Saylor told his colleagues that, while he may have worded the resolution slightly differently, he supports it.
“The actual college experience for students in our community needs to be a positive one,” the supervisor stated. “I have numerous interactions with students and there are some significant challenges that they’re facing.”
He added that “some students can’t afford the prices. We’ve got people who are coming here with their whole communities raising money every quarter – they just can’t afford this. We’re pricing some people out of the opportunity to have a university education.”
He stated, “I see this resolution as a milepost – it’s not the end of the conversation and it’s not the beginning of the conversation.”
Marj Dickinson from UC Davis told the board that they neither opposed nor supported the measure.
“There is a housing crisis in Davis,” she stated. “It did not happen overnight and it didn’t happen because of one single dorm. There is a challenge – the university is going to grow, we are under very strong encouragement from the legislature – a kind word – to increase our total enrollment of students.
“Our draft LRDP is designed to accommodate our growth,” she explained. She said they are “still sharpening our pencils to see what we can do to get beyond the (90) and 40. We haven’t decided and haven’t made the decision on how far we can push our envelope.”
Marj Dickinson then decided to “correct some facts” in the resolution.
She read the second “whereas” which states, “UCD’s enrollment has steadily accelerated since execution of the MOU, but new on-campus student housing construction has not kept pace.”
Ms. Dickinson responded, “In fact, even though the 1989 MOU is no longer active…” the result of that MOU was “to accommodate housing for 9100 students in 2015-16. In fact, right now we house 9400 students. From that metric, we have met and slightly exceeded the metric.”
She then quoted the fifth “whereas” which states, “UCD’s student housing goals have not been met, with UCD accommodating only about 29 percent of Davis-based students during 2015-16.”
She responded by saying that “again we believe the 1989 housing numbers were met.” She said, “This calculation resulted in the on-campus quantity of 7000 students which has been met and exceeded.”
Ms. Dickinson quoted the ninth “whereas” where it states, “UCD has the largest amount of land in the UC in the system with 5,300 acres, yet has historically provided the least amount of on-campus housing.”
She said the chart that was shown earlier in the presentation “shows that’s not true. Berkeley has less on-campus housing by percentage. There are four campuses that have less on-campus housing by number.”
Matt Dulcich responded to a question from Supervisor Provenza about whether the university could consider as part of the EIR process an equal weight alternative for the 100 percent of new students housed on campus with 50 percent of the total.
Mr. Dulcich’s response: “There are different options that are flexible as we seek to address a bigger number.” He explained that the 90 percent number “was derived because typically ten percent of our students live outside of Davis.
“We are trying to refine that to get beyond 90 to 100 percent,” he said. “If we make that change, we wouldn’t consider it an equal weight alternative, it would become part of the project.”
He argued that the 100 and 50 “really conflict.” He said that “100 percent is really beds for 6200 students. Getting to 50 percent would be another 3900 (over and above the 6200 beds).
“In some ways, the 100 and 50 really don’t go together. If we wanted to, we could say that getting to 50 percent would be the equivalent of providing housing for not 100 percent of our growth but more like 150 percent of our growth,” he said. He said that they are “open to considering it.”
Colin Walsh in a public comment responded to UC Davis’ comments by pointing out that if you look at the language in the LRDP, “up to 40 percent,” the language views 40 percent as a “cap” rather than the floor for new housing development.
He argued, “UCD has historically been slow to increase its student housing and even though it is currently offering more housing than previously, even now after 28 years UCD still falls just short of the 1989 MOU requirements.”
In a statement from Eileen Samitz, “We are very grateful to the Yolo County Board of Supervisors for their unanimous vote to support the this very important County resolution. The resolution makes clear that the County also has great concern about the need for UCD to provide far more on-campus housing, and the need for UCD to add far more density to its planning.”
She maintains, “The Davis community has been giving input to the UCD LRDP for over a year and a half asking for far more on-campus housing and asking specifically for the 50/100 plan because UCD’s 40/90 is inadequate. UCD’s 40/90 plan does not add any net additional beds on-campus and, in fact, would force at least 200 more students off campus.
“So, the result is that the 40/90 plan just continues UCD on a course of failure to provide the needed on-campus housing for its students, and perpetuates the student housing problem into the future.”
She pointed out that UC Davis has asked for input, “yet has consistently ignored all of the community, City Council and student recommendations of how to increase the on-campus housing including identifying on-campus sites and building much higher density projects on campus. Instead of building a minimum of 5-6 story projects like other campuses are, UCD has been planning to build only 3-, possibly 4-story housing projects on campus such as at West Village (phase 2), Orchard Park, Emerson Hall and Webster Hall.”
She concluded, “UCD needs to stop stalling and add the 50/100 plan now to the LRDP EIR analysis, and include far more density in the planning of its student housing to start working towards solving the student housing problem that they have created.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting