On Saturday the Vanguard published UC Davis’ latest response to the Yolo County resolution asking them, among other things, to go to a 100-50 plan – with 50 percent of all students provided with the opportunity for housing on campus.
But, once again, while the campus is willing to look for ways to increase the current housing plan, they will not commit to it. Interim Chancellor Ralph Hexter states in his letter, “UC Davis continues to move aggressively to supply new housing for our students.”
My question remains that I am still at a loss as to why UC Davis cannot simply go to 50 percent and try to figure out how to get there – rather than stay at 40 percent and figure out ways to increase their housing without triggering a new EIR.
Robb Davis posted on Saturday that “the City Manager and I have already met with the incoming Chancellor.”
He said, “We reiterated the position that the City Council has taken and asked for the same information we have requested in the past: a better understanding of 1) the financial issues related to housing, 2) the challenges of achieving greater density, and 3) why the EIR is not including a higher density alternative. We continue to make the position of the City Council known at each opportunity.”
On the surface, the UC Davis position doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. It would seem easier to commit to 50 percent, plan for 50 percent, and then downscale if you cannot reach that number.
In April, Interim Chancellor Hexter in a letter responding to the city wrote that “the single most critical factor for assuring that all 6200 beds are completed in a timely manner is the approval of the LRDP in March 2018 as called for in our current schedule. Delay in the LRDP approval will result in a delay of the EIR for the 1600-1800 beds at West Village that is included in the draft LRDP and draft LRDP documents. In turn, that would result in delayed delivery of future campus housing projects.”
As Eileen Samitz points out in response, “We have been told more than once by UCD reps, that UCD can add to the EIR and that (is) why they need to do it now instead of running out the clock, which is what they appear to be doing.”
She points out that “they have been asked to add the 50/100 plan for more than a year, and their response is, ‘we are looking into it.’ So if anyone is delaying an adequate plan for the delivery of future housing projects, it is UCD. UCD needs to stop with the stalling and add the 50/100 plan to the Draft EIR analysis now.”
As we have pointed out on several occasions, the current plan has several flaws. Even an on-time delivery of the 1800 or so beds at West Village puts the delivery well after the students will arrive on campus, which means that in the next five years, the already-serious crunch of housing will actually get a good deal worse.
The second problem is more global, and that is that the housing shortfall of 3900 units between the 40 and 50 percent plans cannot be made up by the city.
Those who have suggested that students can simply find housing in surrounding communities and commute in should recognize that, first of all, it is not clear that the surrounding communities have that kind of capacity to accommodate 3900 students, and such a commute will cause increased traffic congestion, GHG emissions and parking shortages.
Traffic studies have consistently shown that students who live on or near campus bike or take the bus to campus, freeing up roads and parking. Students who live out of town drive to campus. That puts a strain not only on students but on infrastructure.
One of the reasons that traffic congestion has increased in Davis in the last several years has been the increase of students, faculty and staff commuting into town from outside of Davis.
Again, it seems UC Davis is doing this backwards. Their approach seems to be that they will stick to the 40 percent on-campus housing commitment and try to increase it on the margins through efficiency and density. Whereas what they should do is go up to 50 percent and, if they fall short of that goal, they fall short of that goal.
—David M. Greenwald reporting