Sunday Commentary: Housing Debate Has Become a Distraction

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Opponents of Sterling tried to use the mega-dorm argument against the project, arguing that the project was unique in that it rented by bed and utilized mainly four- and five-bedroom apartments and was therefore precedent setting.  They argued that rental housing should be available to all potential renters.

But that argument largely was rejected by the city council.  At the time, we noted that the rental market has actually been shifting for some time and already we have a sizable number of bed leases, most of those for four-bedroom apartments, and there didn’t appear to be much precedent setting about Sterling other than it would be the first market rate student housing approved in the city in over a decade.

The council at the time of the vote was more concerned with the 0.2 percent vacancy rate than in micro-managing how a private developer chose to supply that housing to the market.

The same issues are arising in the discussion over Lincoln40 and it doesn’t seem likely they are going to be more effective this time around.

In looking at some of the data earlier this week, I was definitely surprised by how stark it actually is.

We are using the 2010 census as the latest available data, but we do so with the understanding that UC Davis went from about 30,000 students to about 35,000 over the last seven years – that’s a 18 percent increase which is only likely to make these numbers more stark.

Of the 25,869 units in the city at that time, 57 percent were rental units or about 14,745.  The census also tracked that 12,949 of the total housing units were rented by non-family households.  Now, while there may be a few owner-occupied non-family households in Davis, you have to believe that the vast majority of non-family households are renting.

So we estimate that, in 2010, somewhere around 88 percent of rental units were rented by students or non-family members.

That means that one big piece of this large puzzle is that the rental market is primarily composed of students.  And again, with 5000 more in the last seven years, it has probably only gotten higher.

We have estimated a need for about 10,000 additional housing units between now and 2027.  UC Davis has so far agreed to take on 6200 of those beds.  The city, if it passes Lincoln40, will have added about 1500, and somewhere we are going to need to find 2300 more or the remainder of the students will have to commute.

We have been told one of the key advantages of the bed lease is that the property manager can more efficiently manage the tenant numbers.  In our discussions the view has been that, with or without the bed leases, the vast majority of tenants at a place like Lincoln40 would be students.

We were pointed, for example, to Lexington Apartments which is across the street on Olive Drive from the proposed Lincoln40 site and were told, though I have not confirmed, that there is not a single family living there – even though, like many apartment complexes, Lexington Apartments does both unit leases and bed leases.

As a family that rents in Davis, I understand there is a need for locations which can accommodate families that cannot afford to buy homes, but families even on the open market find themselves competing with student rentals and most unit leases allow for two tenants per bedroom and one additional tenant – which means a four-bedroom apartment could hold nine tenants.  Easy for them to afford even a $2400 a month rent.  Whereas, for a family, $2400 a month for a rental apartment would be largely unaffordable.

The argument some are making is that there is a college enrollment bubble and we are in danger of building too much capacity.

I disagree for a lot of reasons.  As Don Shor pointed out, this is not an entirely new or novel argument.  He noted that UC Davis has had little trouble meeting either the goals of the 2020 initiative or the enrollment demands placed by the university.

The data shows, “A record high of 86,041 prospective students have applied to study at the University of California, Davis, for fall 2016.”  At some point they may have to increase their acceptance rate, but it seems unlikely that UC Davis is likely to suffer an enrollment drop in the near future.

The colleges that seem most vulnerable are the for-profit colleges and lower tiered schools.

Regardless, you have to plan housing for current projections – ironically, the entire housing crisis was created in part because UC Davis failed to back up their planned enrollment growth with sufficient housing.  Do we really want to perpetuate that?

Finally, we seem to be forgetting here that the city of Davis is only providing about 15 percent of the additional housing need, assuming it approves Lincoln40.  That means of the 10,000 needed additional beds, the city between Lincoln40 and Sterling is providing about 1500.

Even if enrollment declines in the future, that is not going to leave a huge glut of student-only apartments on the market.

The current vacancy rate is 0.2 percent, and the city’s stated goal is to create about a 5 percent vacancy rate, which they believe would be more helpful and advantageous.  If they get to that – which seems difficult under present conditions – it will help both student and non-student renters alike.

What that means is that we should be focused on bringing in good new rental housing and allowing the developers and property managers to worry about the market.

—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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60 thoughts on “Sunday Commentary: Housing Debate Has Become a Distraction”

  1. Ron

    From article:  “So we estimate that, in 2010, somewhere around 88 percent of rental units were rented by students or non-family members.

    That means that one big piece of this large puzzle is that the rental market is primarily composed of students.”

    And, assuming this is accurate, some are advocating that the city approves developments that are purposefully designed to increase this percentage, to the exclusion of others.

  2. Ron

    From article:  “Whereas, for a family, $2400 a month for a rental apartment would be largely unaffordable.”

    Otherwise known as, “build our way to affordability”.

      1. Ron

        Ain’t gonna happen.  Any new apartment complexes are going to be high-rent, unless subsidized.  (That’s one of the realities which helped doom Nishi.)

        Rents around the entire region have been going up significantly – even in locations that don’t have any real growth control measures. Perhaps some “catch-up” going on, after years of recession (caused by the “other” housing crisis – which threatened the country’s entire financial system).

        All this does is provide another reason for UCD to not step up.

  3. Ron

    From article:  “– ironically, the entire housing crisis was created in part because UC Davis failed to back up their planned enrollment growth with sufficient housing.  Do we really want to perpetuate that?”

    No, we don’t.

     

  4. Eileen Samitz

    David,

    Once again, your articles continue to ignore and side-step the serious problems and impacts by a mega-dorm project like Lincoln40 and try to simplify it to a numbers or ratio issue. You have not responded to any of the issues that have been raised regarding the problems and impacts of mega-dorms like Lincoln40 on the City. Just a few regarding Lincoln40 specifically include:

    1)     The massive size of the Lincoln40 project which would be located on the far east end of Olive Drive would bring enormous traffic and circulation impacts on Olive Drive and Richards Blvd.

    There would be over 700 Lincoln40 residents needing to get across Richards to UCD which would necessitate interrupting the traffic signal at Richards and Olive Drive constantly for the students to get to the UCD campus all day long, not just peak hours. This in turn will further the backed-up traffic along Richards corridor to more like 30 minutes or more, rather than 10-minutes or more currently. That longer back-up of traffic means that far more car fuel will be burned and far more fumes will deteriorate the air quality.

    2)     What about the safety issues of placing a mega-dorm at the east end of Olive Drive which will at some point become a cul-de-sac since Cal Trans plans to close off the Olive Drive exit and would make it a firetrap. How are fire engines to get to an emergency there, particularly with all the backed-up traffic? What if there were a train derailment for instance there?

    3)     Due to the Lincoln40 project the subject a pedestrian/bike railroad underpass (or more expensive overpass) is being floated as an idea, but who is going to pay for the $7 million price tag for that? Lincoln40 would be creating the tipping point to need such infrastructure which would cost $7 million. The Lincoln40 developer has made clear that he is not going to pay the bill for that bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, even though it is his Lincoln40 project exacerbating the traffic and circulation situation to need it. Plus, Lincoln40 will be expensive, luxury apartments designed exclusively for student housing only primarily with 4- and 5- bedroom “suites” with single-room-occupancy renting by the bed, rather than being a traditional 1,2, 3 bedroom apartment complex which would be for non-students as well like families and local workers needing rental housing. So, are you saying that Davis residents need to subsidize Lincoln40 by helping to pay for infrastructure for UCD student housing needs?

    4)     What about the toxic plume headed toward Lincoln40? Is it going to be investigated? Apparently, the developer wants to ignore this issue. What about the health and safety issues to the residents from the volatile toxics that need to be analyzed as to their impacts sooner or later? The City would be liable for any health issues later that emerged if this project is allowed to move forward without a complete analysis is this plume. The developers responsible for this and the City needs to not subsidize this Lincoln40 problem either. Why is there no Vanguard discussion about this? Instead there is the “merry-go-round” of the same Vanguard article repeated over and over again saying the same thing, which is putting the focus on the City, rather than giving at least equal time to the UCD’s responsibility on of all of this.

    So, it is really not helpful for articles like this continue to side-step so many of the real issues and try to reduce the problem to a ration calculation issue. When is the Vanguard going to address these relevant issues and impacts on the City rather than trying to continue to simplify it to a math ratio? And on that subject, this is not really about Sterling and Lincoln40 being the endpoint solution.  UCD is trying to continue deflecting its massive housing needs onto the City while continuing its long history of irresponsibility to its students and its opportunism towards to City. So why isn’t the Vanguard giving equal time to that subject? There are at least two more projects in the pipeline targeting student housing in the City. One makes absolutely no sense, proposed near Playfields park in South Davis which would create even more problems trying to get students across I-80 to the UCD campus daily. This would only further exacerbate the Richards corridor traffic problem.

    The other project is a private company proposing a student project on Oxford Circle which does makes sense since it is near Russell Blvd. and right across from UCD. This project will be at least 5-stories. Meanwhile UCD is going to the expense of demolishing its 3-story Webster Hall right near it on Oxford Circle to build only a 4-story replacement! What an enormous waste by UCD of land and financial resources. I wonder how much of that funding is public funding from our taxes?  So why isn’t the Vanguard talking about this Webster Hall lost opportunity occurring?

    Instead of placing the focus on where the primary problem is, of UCD’s negligence and continuing the discussion of how UCD needs to step-up, the Vanguard continues to try to impose the problem UCD has created on the City.  Why does the Vanguard continue to sidestep and ignore covering the massive impacts and problems brought on by mega-dorms and UCD’s constantly deflected housing needs? Why isn’t the Vanguard giving at least equal time now on how UCD needs to help solve this problem that they have created instead of articles which are not balanced and do not help, like this one?

    1. David Greenwald

      So you’re advocating an 100-0 split where UC Davis provides all 10,000 beds for student housing and the city does nothing.  All I’m suggesting is 85-15.

      I’ve pushed for the university to go to 50 percent on campus housing, but that doesn’t preclude us from doing our share.  1500 beds is not going to solve the problem, but it could lessen the 0.2 vacancy issue especially in the near term.

      1. Eileen Samitz

        David,

        That’s not what I said, and you are doing it again. You are side-stepping the impacts and problems of the Lincoln40 project, which you are defining as solution for the problem UCD has created.

        Why are you not addressing the problems and impacts that projects like Lincoln40 impose on the City? You are not even acknowledging the serious detrimental consequences to the City.

        Meanwhile, UCD is currently pushing 71% of its students off campus, and at least 63% of those students are living in Davis. UCD’s negligence is unacceptable and the “40/90” UCD proposal just perpetuates the problem and, in fact, pushes even more students off campus due to the massive number of students they are trying to add too quickly.

        UCD does not even have the classrooms or faculty or staff to handle the massive student population increases they are racing forward with, on top of not having the needed on-campus student housing. It is notable that UCD is admitting more non-resident international students than any other UC this year. Therefore, it would make much more sense for UCD to first have on-campus housing available for this avalanche of student hundreds to tens to thousands of miles from their home and families.

        But no, rather than plan properly which benefits all, UCD continues to surge forward with its poorly conceived “UCD 2020 Initiative” with the primary goal of increasing their revenue by charging these non-resident students triple tuition, but at the expense of further overcrowding the UCD campus classrooms and exacerbating the student housing problem. UCD’s current plan of action is detrimental to their students, Davis and surrounding cities. So why isn’t the Vanguard talking about this?

        This is not planning by UCD, it is an absence of planning and UCD needs to do what the other UC’s are of have proper planning and infrastructure first, before UCD steps on the accelerator to grow their student population too quickly. UCD’s poor planning is not only causing the problem, but they continue to make it worse and while they also continue trying to impose it on Davis and surrounding cities, rather than UCD taking responsibility and providing the solutions with far more on-campus housing than proposed.

    2. Howard P

      What about the toxic plume headed toward Lincoln40? Is it going to be investigated?

      What toxic plume?  Nature?  Source?  Looked thru section 4.5 of the DEIR… no reference…

      1. Eileen Samitz

        Howard P,

        That’s the point. There was new information presented at the Natural Resources meeting regarding a toxics issue and the Lincoln40 EIR consultant was quite dismissive of. It was in regard to plume with TCE which has been document in GeoTracker for years and was migrating towards Lincoln40. Investigation at the very least needs to be done to assess it.

        1. Howard P

          So, no real info… rumor/speculation, that you’ve brought forward at least twice now… got it…

          TCE generally comes from old dry cleaning operations… it tends to migrate to ‘aquifers’ less than 10-20 feet deep, but can migrate into old sanitary sewers [similar depth](Lewis Cleaners was a source, but no detects in the sanitary sewer… another was by Taco Bell (some detects in the sanitary sewer, years ago… both are monitored)…

          TCE is a volatile chemical… when exposed to air it disperses quickly… have not heard of a TCE plume extending more than ~ 200 feet … at least where the soils are like those found in Davis. Then, barely… and yes I have read and understand many technical reports on toxics, migration, etc.

          https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/risk-management-trichloroethylene-tce

          I know of no potential (including historical) source of TCE within 100 meters of the Lincoln site, but I’m a newbie, coming to town in 1972.  You and/or GeoTracker seem to have ‘better’ info… please share… it’s your responsibility… truth and facts are good things…

          Or, may go to your credibility…

        2. Howard P

          Oh, and a link to GeoTracker regarding Davis, TCE, and proximity to Lincoln 40 would be very useful to determine veracity and need for concern…

      2. Alan Miller

        There is a plume of primarily TCE and other toxics that is sourced from several sites including old railroad sites, manufacturing, and small businesses along the rail corridor NE of the Amtrak station.  One site is a former manufacturer of rubber bands that were used to tie around the testicles of sheep so they would lose all blood and fall off.  In this process they used solvents and as was the practice in the 40’s and 50’s and other decades the solvents were poured on the ground because “we” didn’t know any better.

        The site was tested and there was no traceable vapors in the nearby building, which is not unexpected with this type of situation.  I live very near the plume source and feel no threat, and I used to do toxic groundwater monitoring/cleanup as my profession.  The real threat to residents of Lincoln40 is likely non-existent, even as the plum progresses.  It just sounds scary.

        This has nothing to do with ES’s other arguments, just that one.

        1. Howard P

          Thank you Alan… the “other toxics” would be more of a concern of TCE’s… the DEIR says that groundwater flows, upper strata, tend not to flow south… there is an old fork of Putah Creek that we encountered on Third, between G & RR… about 6 feet to top of the gravel/sand, went down to over 20 feet (we were putting in a storm drain line).

          This has nothing to do with ES’s other arguments, just that one.

          Sorta agree… except one of my very conscious biases is that if someone dissembles/tells misleading tales in one matter, all their testimony/story becomes more likely for me to be skeptical.
          I have serious concerns about Lincoln 40… traffic is one, long-term viability is another.  But emergency services, toxics and other “spaghetti” is, in my view “bogus”.  Even if the Olive ramp is closed to general traffic, it could still could be an EVA. [and I doubt that CalTrans could do that unilaterally… State law probably precludes that without public hearings, just as the City could not unilaterally vacate the public street that abuts your residence]
          I like discussions to be focused on the important stuff… not ephemera…

           

        2. Eileen Samitz

          Alan,

          I do not understand how you can make the assumption that that a progressing plume with TCE, which is one of the most volatile toxins and is carcinogenic, is not an issue.

          The bottom line is it is the responsibility of the developer to pay for the analysis to assess this plume, not only for the health and safety of the future residents if the project went forward, but due to the financial liability to the City as well if and when it did create a problem.

        3. David Greenwald

          If I’m reading Alan correctly, I don’t think he’s making an assumption here, he’s basing his conclusion on evidence that he actually raised and presented.  Opinions can differ, but his seems to be based on solid evidence rather than conjecture.

        4. Mark West

          “I do not understand how you can make the assumption that that a progressing plume with TCE, which is one of the most volatile toxins and is carcinogenic, is not an issue.”

          A 1965 original spill that has been monitored ever since. The reason the EIR consultant was dismissive of your concerns is that it isn’t valid, just more spaghetti to be thrown at the wall. Brings up a question of credibility for the rest of your ‘concerns’ as well.

        5. Alan Miller

          ES, HP —

          As I said, I worked doing groundwater remediation for seven years, and the most common toxin was TCE.

          As I live like 100′ from the source of the plume, believe me I have looked into it out of personal concern. Spoken to the property owner, city staff, and the consultants monitoring the plume.

          I recommend that a family to live at a house immediately adjacent to the plume – a family with small children and friends of mine.  I did not hesitate to do so.

          These toxins do not jump out of the ground and eat us in the night.  In some conditions there is vapor, but testing showed no evidence of this.  Getting further from the source, the concentration will almost certainly decrease.  Unless there is digging of soil, or a proposal to source drinking water from here, there is little concern for anyone living atop such a plume.  Such as myself.

          Others here talk of how this hurts credibility of other arguments.  It may or it may not, but it’s all about perception, and so it does.  I have so often seen activists who have a righteous cause derail themselves by continuing to harp on every and every point, even those they no nothing about.  This hurts their credibility.

          My advice:  drop this point.  Stick to the issues you can justify.

        6. Ron

          Alan:  “Unless there is digging of soil . . .”

          Wouldn’t there be digging, to construct a massive new apartment complex?

          Alan:  “I have so often seen activists who have a righteous cause derail themselves by continuing to harp on every and every point, even those they no nothing about.  This hurts their credibility.”

          I have often seen proponents of a given development “latch onto” issues such as this, in an EFFORT to damage credibility.  Even when supported by professional analyses.  (I’m not referring to you.)  Nishi comes to mind.

          It’s interesting that Eileen made one reference to a consultant’s statement to the NRC (among a myriad of other concerns that don’t require professional expertise to see and understand), and yet the “usual suspects” are already coming out of the woodwork again, to “latch onto” that one issue.  (Again, not referring to you.)

           

          1. Don Shor

            It’s interesting that Eileen made one reference to a consultant’s statement to the NRC (among a myriad of other concerns that don’t require professional expertise to see and understand), and yet the “usual suspects” are already coming out of the woodwork again, to “latch onto” that one issue. (Again, not referring to you.)

            This is one of four topics in Eileen’s essay, now on a thread of its own. We’ll deal with them one at a time. This one, I think, should be put to rest before any further assertions are made about the toxicity of the site.
            Don’t worry, we’ll get to the others.

        7. Alan Miller

          OK, but thought I was debunking, not justifying…

          HP, I was referring to ES when I recommended dropping this point — had your name there to get your attention, I knew you were debunking.

        8. Alan Miller

          Wouldn’t there be digging, to construct a massive new apartment complex?

          No, there is no basement.  You’d have to dig down to groundwater, to even have a chance of there being a problem, and I doubt even that would be an issue.  I was referring to digging into contaminated soil at a source, such as the former Trackside proposal with a basement.

  5. Don Shor

    the entire housing crisis was created in part because UC Davis failed to back up their planned enrollment growth with sufficient housing.  Do we really want to perpetuate that?

    And in part because construction of new rental units in Davis almost completely ceased about fifteen years ago.

    1. Eileen Samitz

      Don,

      And 8 years of that was a nationwide recession where there was virtually no residential development.

      None of this excuses UCD from proving the needed on-campus housing which only makes the City rental housing worse if UCD is allowed to continue deflecting its massive housing needs on the City.

      UCD has 5,300 acres for heavens sake and it is cheaper for them to build since they don’t need to pay for the land, no City processing fees or building permits, and no property tax. THAT is why the student housing would be the cheapest to build and to rent on campus short-term and long term.

      Plus more on-campus housing has the added benefits of eliminating the commuting impacts (which benefits the enviroment) and elimination the UCD’s chronic deflection their excessive UCD housing needs impacting the City.

  6. Roberta Millstein

    So you’re advocating an 100-0 split where UC Davis provides all 10,000 beds for student housing and the city does nothing.  All I’m suggesting is 85-15.

    That’s not what I read.  What I read was that Eileen advocated for housing in the City *that makes sense*, as where she refers to “a private company proposing a student project on Oxford Circle which does makes sense since it is near Russell Blvd. and right across from UCD. This project will be at least 5-stories.”

    I’ve pushed for the university to go to 50 percent on campus housing, but that doesn’t preclude us from doing our share.  1500 beds is not going to solve the problem, but it could lessen the 0.2 vacancy issue especially in the near term.

    And her point is exactly that you are making this all about percentages rather than talking about the specific concerns about this project, which she has described clearly and in detail in her comment above.  How about an article that discusses those specific concerns?

    1. David Greenwald

      she argues that the Vanguard “continues to impose the problem” onto the city.  The Vanguard has consistently supported 100-50, however, the Vanguard also believes that it is reasonable for the city to provide some housing.  Apparently Eileen does too, just not at Lincoln.  So that’s the only real difference.  I simply don’t agree with her specific concerns about the project – she or you are welcome to write an article discussing those – to me the biggest concern is lack of student housing in Davis, we aren’t going to solve that problem with two projects, but it can alleviate somewhat if the university does as they have committed to do.

       

  7. Don Shor

    How about an article that discusses those specific concerns?

    … why isn’t the Vanguard giving equal time to that subject?
     
    … why isn’t the Vanguard talking about this
     
    Why isn’t the Vanguard giving at least equal time…
    Go for it. David will print almost anything you submit.
      1. Eileen Samitz

        So David,

        I am asking the Vanguard to be even-handed by discussing the problem covering the pros and cons, and your response is others need to write the articles for you? Thanks, but his a job you were supposed to take on when you started the Vanguard.

        My point here is that I thought that the Vanguard’s mission to report on the issues fairly by covering the subject and info, pro and con. Not just cherry-picking about info that supports what you would like to believe is a solution.

        All everyone wants for any media source is fair and balanced writing the issues.

         

        1. David Greenwald

          I am even-handed in the news articles.

          i have raised issues when requested even when I disagree such as with Measure R.

          but an opinion column is an opinion and I will express mine.I agree with you on the university building more housing, I disagree with you that that should preclude Lincoln40 or Sterling.

          You are more than welcome to raise additional issues in the comments and submit your own.

          I don’t think my position is unreasonable.

           

        2. Howard P

          Does the “fair and balanced” apply to posters as well?

          Media is media… they need to make ends meet… they thrive on divergent views… increases readership… and revenues… it’s a business, not a governmental function.

          When you use social ‘media’, do you want someone to edit you in order to be “fair and balanced”? Am thinking not…

        3. David Greenwald

          I disagree with your point Howned.  The point is this is legal as an opinion piece. If this were a straight news piece  then I would agree with Eileen. But it’s not. Don’t make any money off this. This doesn’t drive readers.

  8. Roberta Millstein

    I simply don’t agree with her specific concerns about the project 

    But why don’t you agree?  If you are going to disagree with Eileen and take that as a public position — the Vanguard’s position — then you owe us an explanation as to why you think the concerns she raises aren’t warranted. Otherwise, why should we accept your opinion?

    1. Mark West

      “then you owe us an explanation”

      It is an opinion. No one ‘owes’ you an explanation for that opinion and you are free to agree or not.

      1. Roberta Millstein

        Opinions should be backed up with facts and good reasons.  I know that David agrees with this, because he said as much about, e.g., Dunning’s views about the Picnic Day event.

  9. Eileen Samitz

    David,

    Sorry, but there is nothing even-handed about this article particularly when you do not even acknowledged the serious problems like the traffic, infrastructure costs and now a toxic plume involved with Lincoln40.

    Your approach appears to be ignore all of these serious problems to have Lincoln40 move forward not matter what the costs, public health risks, or impacts on the City or the projects residents. That does not sound reasonable to me.

    1. David Greenwald

      I don’t have to acknowledge every possible problem with a given project in every single article.  I agree there are problems with traffic along the corridor.  They exist now, they will exist in the future whether or not this project is built.  I actually believe part of the reason we have continued traffic problems in davis is the number of people having to commute into town, many of whom come from Sacramento and exit on Richards to enter campus.  I’ve described in detail how I would attempt to solve it.  Unless you want me to write 5000 word articles, I can’t respond to every point in every article,  This was almost 1200 words as it was.

      1. Roberta Millstein

        I don’t have to acknowledge every possible problem with a given project in every single article.

        Agreed, but you could write a future article that responds to the concerns, to let people know why you think they aren’t warranted in order to make an educated decision.  Otherwise, it looks like you are just brushing off concerns that sound very serious.

        1. David Greenwald

          And I probably will. In the future I think a better approach would be to say hey “David could you address issue X in a future column”

        2. Roberta Millstein

          In the future I think a better approach would be to say hey “David could you address issue X in a future column”

          In my first comment on this issue, August 6, 2017 at 1:53 pm, I wrote:

          And her [Eileen’s] point is exactly that you are making this all about percentages rather than talking about the specific concerns about this project, which she has described clearly and in detail in her comment above.  How about an article that discusses those specific concerns?

          So, it seems to me that I already used the “better approach” that you are asking for.

        3. Eileen Samitz

          David,

          I am sorry if you feel frustrated, because I do as well because while I appreciate new information that comes up on issues, I would think you would too, which invites the investigative writing you do on other issues.

          It is just that lately, the Vanguard is talking only about student housing in the City to relieve the student housing problem that UCD has created and keeps generating without contributing nearly enough to fix the problem.  Instead, UCD is side-stepping the problem.

          That is not a solution, and in fact, quite the contrary, it only exacerbates and perpetuates the problem. And in particular it becomes an endless problem because student housing costs can be controlled on the campus, but cannot be controlled short-term or long-term in the City. Plus an added problem is that it also sets up a competition for rental housing in the City by students competing with non-students, which would not exist on campus where only students can reside.

          So if I may make a suggestion, why not use those five articles to talk about these issues, even separately, to shine some light on these issues? Start with an article on how UCD can, and needs to do a better job of what they are planning, which means real sustainable planning that they teach, but they clearly are not practicing.

          For instance, what about covering the shameful waste by UCD of its Webster Hall site on Oxford Circle where this 3-story student housing building is being torn down now, with all of those demolition costs, to be replaced with only 4-floors, gaining only one more floor. It is ridiculous. Yet, right next to it a student housing project of at least 5-floors is being built by the private sector.

          The title of the article could be:

          “Why isn’t UCD building higher density housing like the other UC’s are?  UCD squanders yet another land site to build low density student housing at Webster Hall.”

  10. Ron

    Eileen:  “Due to the Lincoln40 project the subject a pedestrian/bike railroad underpass (or more expensive overpass) is being floated as an idea, but who is going to pay for the $7 million price tag for that? Lincoln40 would be creating the tipping point to need such infrastructure which would cost $7 million. The Lincoln40 developer has made clear that he is not going to pay the bill for that bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, even though it is his Lincoln40 project exacerbating the traffic and circulation situation to need it. Plus, Lincoln40 will be expensive, luxury apartments designed exclusively for student housing only primarily with 4- and 5- bedroom “suites” with single-room-occupancy renting by the bed, rather than being a traditional 1,2, 3 bedroom apartment complex which would be for non-students as well like families and local workers needing rental housing. So, are you saying that Davis residents need to subsidize Lincoln40 by helping to pay for infrastructure for UCD student housing needs?”

    Good questions.

    1. Ron

      David:  ” – I am being told that there is no plume.”

      What is your source for there not being one? (Seems to me that “proponents” of developments – such as Nishi – “latch onto” these concerns, and attempt to present them as evidence of “fake news” – even if cited by experts, with a goal of attacking credibility. Hmmm – who else does that?)

      Perhaps just as important, why aren’t you addressing the other concerns that Eileen has brought up (which don’t necessarily require an “expert” to see)?

        1. Ron

          David:  That doesn’t quite seem to jive with “being told” that there is no plume.

          In any case, why are you still avoiding all of the other concerns that Eileen has brought up (which don’t necessarily require an “expert” to analyze and understand)?

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            “David: That doesn’t quite seem to jive with “being told” that there is no plume. ”

            Except that’s exactly what I was told.

    2. Eileen Samitz

      David,

      This information was brought to the Natural Resources Commission meeting at public testimony by a consultant who knew about this plume and want to make sure the Commission and the City knew about it.

      1. Don Shor

        There have been 15 – 20 hazardous waste sites identified around Davis over the years, with a wide range of hazard levels from the major superfund site on Second Street to contaminations identified on the site of almost every gas station and dry cleaner that’s ever been here. That doesn’t mean this is a significant hazard, nor that it should affect the consideration of this development — unless, of course, it is so hazardous that the current residents of Olive Drive need to be evacuated, in which case I’d think we would have heard more about it by now.
        Is this identified somewhere in the minutes of the NRC?

        1. Ron

          I don’t know much about this issue, but wouldn’t the fact that it’s (now) been brought up by a consultant mean that the city is “on notice” (and possibly “on the hook”) for any problems that arise, if the city approves the development?  (Especially if the city was warned, and failed to require an investigation prior to considering approval?)

          1. Don Shor

            The city is generally not the responsible party. Again, we have a number of such sites in Davis. The Natural Resources Commission used to issue an annual update on their status.

  11. Howard P

    one reference to a consultant’s statement to the NRC

    The word ‘consultant’ means little/nothing to me, particularly a statement at a public meeting (as opposed to a written report, with the ‘consultant’s reputation behind it).  What I have not seen is any indication of whether the person who spoke was a geologist, hydro-geologist, epidemiologist, or maybe just a ‘beauty consultant’… the first three I might listen to, but would be interested in their CV.

    1. Ron

      Howard:  ” . . . as opposed to a written report, with the ‘consultant’s reputation behind it.”

      I wonder how many professional consultants would be willing to do this “for free” (and also risk their “reputations” behind such volunteer work).  Especially if they have no other interest in a given development, while there are simultaneously others who have a keen interest in approval.  (Seems like a situation “ripe” for personal and professional attacks, with nothing to gain from “sounding the alarm”.) A true “lose-lose” situation, for such an individual.

      Now that I think about it, I once found myself in a somewhat similar situation, on this blog.

  12. Ron

    “David (quoting me): That doesn’t quite seem to jive with “being told” that there is no plume. ”

    David’s response:  “Except that’s exactly what I was told.”

    For the third time, by whom?

  13. Ron

    Don:  “This is one of four topics in Eileen’s essay, now on a thread of its own. We’ll deal with them one at a time. This one, I think, should be put to rest before any further assertions are made about the toxicity of the site.
    Don’t worry, we’ll get to the others.”

    Just thought this comment was a “noteworthy” way of putting things. (Your goal being to “put to rest” this issue, before you “get to the others”.)

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