It’s Still Damn Expensive Being Poor in Davis

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By Sean Raycraft

Ok friends, we need to fundamentally re-frame the focus of the housing crisis debate. If you were to read the discussions happening here on the Vanguard and in other spaces, you might forget that there are actual people, at all socio-economic levels, to varying degrees, actually suffering because of the housing crisis. It is paramount we as a community think about these people, while making policy decisions, land use decisions, and moral decisions about the future of our community. Oftentimes, these folks do not have a seat at the table, and are hence, on the menu.

Over the last few days, the Vanguard has run several articles about the rental housing crisis. Personally, I think it’s great the Vanguard is talking about this issue, as it has become the number one issue for me in my local political activism.

More importantly, it would seem that others in the community are talking about it too. I am someone who thinks getting people to talk about a tricky issue is the first step in seeing policy change.

About a month ago, I wrote an article outlining just how difficult it is being working poor in Davis, based off stories I have collected and friends I see suffer daily. Granted, it’s no picnic anywhere, but here in Davis there are some unique challenges for working poor people. You can read about it here: https://www.davisvanguard.org/2017/10/damn-expensive-poor-davis/

I won’t re iterate the points I made, or the retell the myriad of housing horror stories from all classes of Davis society. Instead, I would like to refocus the discussion. Seemingly, everyone
wants to use the working poor, single mothers, students, aspiring homeowners, and, yes, even the homeless to further their own agenda that has little to nothing to do with actually helping those groups through policy change. Well, let’s put a human face on that suffering, shall we?

I met the guy I know as Rom a few months ago while working at Safeway. He is homeless in Davis. He is a little quirky, educated, and has some kind of serious health problem that causes a great deal of swelling in his feet. He’s probably about 40, wears rimmed glasses that belong in the early nineties and has a thin but well-trimmed beard. He’s wiry, keeps himself and his clothes quite clean, and noticeably wears several pairs of socks (to keep the swelling of his feet down) and flip flops. He’s usually pretty shy, and when he talks, he talks nervously and quickly, and then you can’t get him to stop.

It was late at night, and he wanted to buy an entire case of water, 6 individual gallons, and keep the box. I later learned he wanted or needed the box, so he can elevate his feet while sleeping, to prevent swelling and, yes, blood clots. Rom seems like the kind of guy that should be able to find a job and housing in town. He’s had many jobs before, has a background in mathematics, and has been struggling with homelessness on and off for several years now.

A few weeks ago, days before my wedding, a friend of mine who is a cab driver in town called to tell me this really chill homeless guy had to call his cab to go to the ER because he was having some kind of medical complication, and that he knew me. It was cold that night, and I knew Rom didn’t have a quality blanket. So the next day, I dug around my garage, and found my camping camouflage blanket that is lightweight, warm and cleans easily and set out to find Rom. He was at my store, and seemingly had his medical issue under control for the moment. So I gave him my blanket and raincoat that I never use, because he needs it a helluva lot more than the box in my garage does.

He seemingly came alive in that moment. (people often fail to recognize the humanity of the downtrodden). He was telling me how excited he was that he was getting job interviews next week, and that he had a little money ($250) saved up to hopefully rent a room somewhere and get his life back on track. I didn’t have the heart to tell him in that moment what the rental market has become. I wished him well, he thanked me and wished me a great wedding and honeymoon (it was, thank you Rom) and we parted ways.

So what is the state of the rental market? A simple google search of 1 bedroom and studio apartments in Davis will show you just how unaffordable Davis is for the working poor. “one bedrooms in Davis, starting at 1330 per month.” Pinecrest Apartments One Bedroom “$1467-1698.” I’m assuming that doesn’t cover first and last month’s rent, and the security deposit. How is Rom supposed to get housing in a market like this? How is ANYONE supposed to get housing in a market like this? Students, who largely borrow the money they need to pay these rents, will be paying at least 5% interest on these loans for a decade or more. Rom and his 250 bucks are totally out of luck.

So why write about Rom and his struggles with homelessness? Well, because in our quibbling about what kind of housing gets built, more and more people are going to suffer. They are going to suffer outrageous rent increases, packed to the gills apartments, houses, condos. You’re going to see more people living in a car and showering at the gym. You’re going to see more young adults stay at their parents homes, more frequently and for longer. You’re going to see capital investors buy that house down the street that used to have a nice older couple in it who are now downsizing, for cash, and turning it into a rental, where ten students will live where two once did. You’re going to see more working people like my friend C.S. from the last article become homeless. Rom, C.S., the nurse from the last article I wrote, and her mom are the people who are harmed the most by our housing crisis. Are their voices being heard in these discussions? What can we do better as a community to prevent homelessness and obscene rents? What can be done before the university adds several thousand students in coming years and doesn’t house them?

The answer is that there is no single policy answer to solve this issue. As I have learned over months, the housing issue is complicated, with no silver bullet solutions. With that said, the simple truth is that more rental housing will help stabilize a market that is clearly headed towards failure. I can already feel the comments coming: “But Sean! The university needs to build this housing on campus for the students!” Well, yeah, of course UCD should. But the reality is the university is going to add more students and workers in the coming years, and not build adequate housing for them, and it falls upon us, the citizens of Davis to find a way to make this work for everyone. The rental market is already in crisis, and the city council to their credit is approving projects that will add some rental housing. I believe more has to be done.

Some of us clearly don’t like the idea of “mega dorms” as Eileen Samitz has described them, I’m not sure I like the idea. But what I do know is that we need more rental housing, period. The denser, the more infill, the more beds, the more environmentally conscious the better for renters and potential home buyers, tax payers and the community as a whole. Instead of cramming into mini dorms in your neighborhood, students and the working poor can have their own room, with some privacy and dignity, near a bus line, at a reasonable rate. Families can afford to live in former rentals. Developers can provide big A affordable housing as part of their developments, or contribute to the city’s affordable housing trust fund. The market will not be as attractive of an investment for prospective landlords, so home buyers (young families) can move into our city and build community. I don’t want so see any more of my friends or members lose their housing because of the insatiable greed of the landlords.

So, in the future, while discussing the housing crisis, how about we actually listen to and prioritize the needs of people affected by it, instead of prioritizing the views and needs of people who are largely unaffected by it, or in many cases directly financially benefit from it. Please remember to be kind and love one another.

Sean Raycraft is a lifelong Davis resident and shop steward with UFCW 8



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68 thoughts on “It’s Still Damn Expensive Being Poor in Davis”

  1. Roberta Millstein

    Sean, sorry, I’m not following.  When other people advocate policy based on the working poor, single mothers, students, aspiring homeowners, and the homeless, they are furthering their own agenda, but when you advocate policy based on the same all-too-real situations, you are not?  Sorry, that’s just not fair.  We all have agendas.  We all have views on how best to meet these crushing needs.  We might not agree on the best way to meet those needs, but it helps nothing to accuse others of playing politics and then pretending that one’s own approach is somehow purer.  If you want to make the case for your approach over other approaches, just do it, without casting accusations at others.

    And if we’re going to talk about approaches, frankly, I still don’t see how we can grow our way out of these problems.  That sounds awful, because everyone wants to say we are doing something about them.  But while doing something just do something might make us feel better, in reality we face the problem of being part of a much larger housing crunch statewide.  So, what appears to be the high road looks to me like false promises.

    Do we need more housing?  Yes, but we need to grow carefully and wisely, not just approve everything in sight out of desperation and a false hope that it will improve things.

    1. David Greenwald

      “I still don’t see how we can grow our way out of these problems. ”

      I still really don’t understand this point, if the problem is not enough housing, how does building housing not help alleviate the problem?  Aren’t you asking the university to build more housing on campus to alleviate the student housing shortfall?

      1. Mark West

        Why should the fear of potential challenges associated with development be given greater weight in this discussion than the very real challenges facing residents who do not have access to appropriate housing?

      2. Roberta Millstein

        I still really don’t understand this point, if the problem is not enough housing, how does building housing not help alleviate the problem?  Aren’t you asking the university to build more housing on campus to alleviate the student housing shortfall?

        Building housing does not help alleviate the problem because we are not a closed ecosystem — we are an open ecosystem.  If we ever did manage to briefly lower average prices in town, it would be very short lived, because people in surrounding areas (where “surrounding” includes the Bay Area) can and would move to Davis and would drive prices right back up again.  In fact, from someone in the Bay Area, Davis’s current prices look a bargain, which is why we already have people from that area moving in.

        On the other hand, housing on campus will at least house students — so, that helps some Davisites — and it will help with the problem of megadorms in neighborhoods (hasn’t been a problem in mine, but I know that others have concerns).  It would also be possible for the university to control prices, which is also better for students.  The university is a closed ecosystem.

        1. Mark West

          “If we ever did manage to briefly lower average prices in town, it would be very short lived, because people in surrounding areas (where “surrounding” includes the Bay Area) can and would move to Davis and would drive prices right back up again.”

          If the driving force for housing prices in town was people coming from the bay area to buy up our cheap houses, then the housing in Dixon and Woodland would be just as expensive as that in Davis. The driving force for the high cost of housing in Davis is the shortage of housing in Davis relative to the local demand. Building more housing in Davis is the only rational solution to the housing shortage in Davis.

        2. Roberta Millstein

          If the driving force for housing prices in town was people coming from the bay area to buy up our cheap houses, then the housing in Dixon and Woodland would be just as expensive as that in Davis.

          Well, housing and rental prices in Dixon and Woodland have gone up, considerably.  They haven’t gone up as much because they are not considered as desirable as Davis is, but they have always been lower.

          The driving force for the high cost of housing in Davis is the shortage of housing in Davis relative to the local demand.

          That is demonstrably false.  The Cannery, for instance, has advertised successfully in the Bay Area.

          Building more housing in Davis is the only rational solution to the housing shortage in Davis.

          You know, simply stating that something is rational doesn’t make it so.
           

          1. David Greenwald

            “The Cannery, for instance, has advertised successfully in the Bay Area.”

            Although I know some people locally who have purchased homes at the Cannery, I was opposed to the cannery in part because I believed the housing it provided did not meet community needs.

        3. Roberta Millstein

          Although I know some people locally who have purchased homes at the Cannery, I was opposed to the cannery in part because I believed the housing it provided did not meet community needs.

          I find it fascinating that there were all sorts of advocates for the Cannery prior to it being built, who said that we desperately needed housing and that any sort of housing would of course help.  Now all those proponents are laying low — I don’t hear anyone singing the Cannery’s praises now — and yet we risk repeating the past.  That is, we risk repeating building something just to build without making sure that it is a good thing for Davis to build.  The drumbeat of build..build…build… is bad for Davis, but that is what I am hearing from some quarters who should know better than to think that just because a developer imagines it, it is good for Davis and its citizens.

          1. David Greenwald

            “I find it fascinating that there were all sorts of advocates for the Cannery prior to it being built, who said that we desperately needed housing and that any sort of housing would of course help.”

            You can go back and look, I wasn’t one of them. At the time, I warned that the housing provided here wasn’t what we needed. The difference is that the housing provided at these student housing apartments IS what we need, in fact, I would argue that the biggest irony in this whole debate is that these proposals are providing us with exactly what we need and people are opposing building the exact kind of housing we need – dense, student oriented housing.

          2. Don Shor

            I find it fascinating that there were all sorts of advocates for the Cannery prior to it being built, who said that we desperately needed housing and that any sort of housing would of course help. Now all those proponents are laying low

            Who was that? The Cannery only needed 3 votes to pass in its current form. With the election of Rochelle and Dan, they had their three votes. One of the main proponents of The Cannery was Eileen. Other than that, I don’t know who was pushing hard for it.

            The drumbeat of build..build…build… is bad for Davis, but that is what I am hearing from some quarters who should know better

            Other than The Cannery (which I considered a wasted opportunity at the time), what has been built in Davis?

          3. David Greenwald

            Found this comment from a Sac Bee editorial amusing in support of the Cannery: “Houses would run from $350,000 to almost $800,000. The high-end would hardly be affordable for young families. But the project offers a possibility that some families might find homes.”

            No wonder you see them marketing to the bay area. At least one thing we know with these apartments that are student oriented, we won’t be renting to bay area students.

        4. Jim Hoch

          “No wonder you see them marketing to the bay area” whigh justifies my skepticism of the Adult Community claims that most new residents would be current Davis residents

  2. Howard P

    You actually hit on two housing issues…

    4-5% is considered a “healthy” rate for vacancies in MF.

    25% ‘affordable’ (with three ‘flavors’, within that) is purported to be a City goal. (many say, both SF and MF, but I don’t… don’t think we can ever reach 25% SF ‘affordable’ ownership units… not without draconian rent control)  MF is the answer for affordability.

    We’re way behind in both…

    1. Howard P

      Just curious… what is your REAL issue with Rancho Yolo?  Fully understand why you wouldn’t “man up” to your animus.

      I’d pick on the trailer park(s) on Olive before I’d go against Rancho Yolo.

      Must be a strong motivator in your apparent obsession with Rancho Yolo…

      1. Cindy Pickett

        Yes, we need to get to the bottom of Jim’s obsession with Rancho Yolo. He lives in North Davis so it’s not in his neighborhood. And he’s relatively new to Davis, so it’s probably not some long-standing feud. We need to get one of David’s interns to do some investigative reporting on this issue.

        1. Howard P

          There are limits, Cindy… for now, and the foreseeable future I’m content to challenge someone to come clean, of their own volition, or I’ll completely discount (to zero, or a mil) their comments on housing. (or any subject, in general)

          Don’t think we want David/VG “investigating” posters’ motivations… better they self-disclose.  I did, to David, when I asked for slack under a semi-pseudonym.  He accepted that.

        2. Howard P

          Your “relatively new to Davis” comment fascinates me… meant as pure curiosity… no challenge here…

          Have seen folk step up to public comment at CC meetings, saying “I’m a long-time Davis resident… have lived here for 4 years…”.  As a Davis resident of over 40 years, have known a lot of folk who make me feel like a “newbie”.

          It is truly, “relative”… Einstein was right! He even had a theory on that…

        3. Alan Miller

          we need to get to the bottom of Jim’s obsession with Rancho Yolo.

          I would find it quite humurous, were I not concerned about a potential future Enterprise article involving JH, RY and a match.

    2. Howard P

      All downtown

       is ideally suited to provide dense housing in a central location.

      Even much more so… and City Offices, DJUSD admin center, etc.

      Talk about “blight”… the DJUSD complex (formerly a Jr High) fits that to a “T”…

      1. Todd Edelman

        This is a great place for ground-level senior housing, with DJUSD offices facing B and 5th. On the three higher levels: 25% low income at least, but all integrated and good for both students and families. There’s a pool across the street and a huge park across the other. Local produce and grub across the street two days a week. Many restaurants just a few steps further. In a few minutes seniors can be at the eponymous center. This can be acceptable if it has minimal car parking.

        All the parking craters should be converted to interior housing, disproportionately senior/ADA-focused, with street front businesses, and two or three levels of housing above. Minimal parking, underground. Cheap to operate, self-driving minibus on a fixed route, 24/7 for when walking or cycling is not desired.

        No one will need their own cars. Seniors can walk places, unlike if they’re forced to the northwestern periphery of town, on the other side of 113. On site or in the senior center at the DJUSD location there can be a clinic for acute out-patient needs, fulfilling part of the role of what would be a nearby hospital. In a denser Downtown with more residences CVS, etc. or an independent entity doing similar business would be viable.

      1. Howard P

        Which (the ‘story’) will likely never be heard… there is a MHP on Olive, that is much more ‘blighted’ than RY…

        And, as I’ve opined before, I think manufactured housing &/or MHP’s could well be used in our toolbox for affordable housing…

      2. Richard C

        And, as I’ve opined before, I think manufactured housing &/or MHP’s could well be used in our toolbox for affordable housing…

        Yes, manufactured housing can be a very cost effective way of providing housing.  The problem I see in Davis is where would a new MH development be located? It would almost certainly have to be outside the current city boundaries which probably constitutes an insurmountable problem no matter how much the housing is needed.

        1. Howard P

          That’s why I used the metaphor of a toolbox.  Hammers should not be used to drive screws, and screwdrivers don’t work well if you need to pound a nail.

          MH’s could be used as interim housing either on campus or on vacant properties in town until those properties are ripe for their intended uses.

          Quonset huts were used for years as housing for UCD right after WWII (where Davis Commons and Aggie Village are today).  On-campus, they were used up to the 80’s on campus for offices.  Today’s manufactured housing is much more livable than quonset huts.

  3. Tia Will

    Sean

    While I appreciate the article and agree with much of what you say, I agree with Roberta on one point.

    If you want to make the case for your approach over other approaches, just do it, without casting accusations at others.”

    We cannot be aware of the motives of others and can alienate our natural allies by assuming we know their motives better than they do.

    1. Howard P

      But it’s OK to ask them about their motives, right?

      When folk don’t self-disclose, that opens things up to conjecture…

      When folk take a passive-aggressive approach, even more so… but they often give “tells” in their P-A questions/approaches… particularly those who use ‘questions’ that are leading, ‘baited’, and or actually statements in question form… Don’t you agree?  If not, why not? (the last two being examples, not for ‘reals’)

      1. Tia Will

        Howard

        I think that asking is great. This allows for further exploration of ideas. I do not think it is ever a good idea to assume you know what is going on with the motivations of another. I have been targeted in the past as asking “leading” questions, maybe your equivalent of passive aggressive when all I wanted was an answer. I find it difficult to believe that I am the only one who has ever been in this position.

  4. Eileen Samitz

    Sean,

    First, I appreciate your care and concern about the need for more rental housing, which I share. The issue for me is that what rental housing is built needs to be inclusively designed for all, so that housing is available to everyone including the very people that you are concerned about.  The solution to the need for more rental housing in the City is not to just build anything, particularly rental housing that is designed exclusively for students.  It sounds like you have concerns about mega-dorms as well and their lack of suitability for the very people that you care deeply about. What this issue is really about is good planning which helps all, not just focusing on housing designed specifically for students, but build housing designed for all needing rental housing.

    Your frustration should be focused on UCD which has created this problem and continues to exacerbate it.  The City’s job is to create equal opportunity housing for all, not just students. Student-only housing by design belongs on-campus, not in the City. One of my friends who is a single mother has been impacted by this rental housing situation, and she agrees that building mega-dorms is not going to help her or other families and workers.

    So I appreciate and share your concern for the the many people impacted by this problem that UCD has created, and building rental housing designed for all is the key to solving the problem, not building exclusionary mega-dorms.

    1. David Greenwald

      “The issue for me is that what rental housing is built needs to be inclusively designed for all, so that housing is available to everyone including the very people that you are concerned about.”

      This seems to be the point that is being raised to counter some of the housing projects.  The problem with it, is that roughly 83% of all rental housing serves primarily students.  The increase of demand of rental housing is almost all student driven.  And the shortage of rental housing is pushing students more and more into single family homes that could go to the families who are now being pushed out.  So by providing predominantly student housing not only is the city addressing by far the biggest need, it actually helps address what appears to be your concern.

      1. Mark West

        “what rental housing is built needs to be inclusively designed for all”

        The only housing that is exclusionary by design is that which is built on campus (or as part of a seniors-only development). Rental housing projects in the City are inclusive by design, even if some might not choose to live in those situations. Not all forms of housing are appropriate for all people, but all forms of new rental housing in Davis will help alleviate the rental housing shortage in Davis.

      2. Eric Gelber

        The problem with it, is that roughly 83% of all rental housing serves primarily students.  The increase of demand of rental housing is almost all student driven. 

        But that doesn’t mean that the solution is to develop housing that, as a practical matter, is suitable for students but for few others also impacted by the shortage of affordable rental housing. It’s not an either/or situation. You can design multifamily housing that, by its design, is more inclusive.

        I view it as analogous to the use of universal design. UD addresses a significant need by increasing the stock of housing that is accessible to people with disabilities (including many seniors); but, significantly, it does not exclude others. Similarly, affordable rental housing that meets the needs of students doesn’t have to be designed in a manner that, de facto, if not de jure, excludes others–e.g., low income families, the working poor, etc.

        1. Mark West

          The City places a lot of financial demands on developers, often because citizens demand that the City do so. Each of those separate items, such as construction fees and taxes, plan check fees, LEED certification, on-site parking minimums, Affordable housing requirements, burrowing owl mitigation, wacky extraction #1, parks fees, roadway fees, wacky extraction #2, etc., etc., etc., all add to the cost of the development. Good developers look at all those costs, add in their land acquisition, construction, and finance costs and determine what type of project will be required to make a reasonable return on their investment. In simple terms, the mix of demands that we put in place determines what types of projects the developers are able to propose, and when the demands are too great, we end up with a period of time where no projects are proposed and nothing gets built.

          The current mix of demands incentivizes developers to build 4-5 bedroom apartments, as that is the predominant configuration that the developers have determined will generate the needed rate of return. If the community doesn’t want that configuration, then we need to change the demands/incentives to shift the balance back towards 1-3 bedroom units. I don’t know what that change should be (except that it isn’t likely to be wacky extraction #3), that is something that the City will have to discuss/negotiate with the developers.

          If you want to kill all development, just keep adding to the list of demands. If you want to encourage a specific type of development, then adjust the demands to create incentives for building the types of projects that the community wants.

        2. Howard P

          Two nuances, Mark… much of what you say is true…

          Technically, the word is “exaction”, but am sure many folk have no problem with “extraction” to describe how it ‘feels’…

          If you want to encourage a specific type of development, then adjust the demands to create incentives for building the types of projects that the community wants.

          Agree, if, and only if, it is done globally (not too specific), not project by project by whim of CC, staff, or vox populi.  Constitutional, ethical, and moral issues.  Fees, by law, are constrained to a “nexus”.

        3. Mark West

          “Technically, the word is “exaction”, but am sure many folk have no problem with “extraction” to describe how it ‘feels’…”

          I chose my words with purpose.

           

          Completely agree that the changes in demands/incentives should be applied globally. We have some very experienced and knowledgeable local developers who could work with the City to help determine what changes are needed to incentivize the apartment configuration that residents say they want. My expectation, however, is that the same people vocalizing the demands today would simply choose different criteria to complain about in the future. Developers are ‘evil’ after all.

    2. Matt Williams

      Eileen Samitz said . . . “The City’s job is to create equal opportunity housing for all, not just students. Student-only housing by design belongs on-campus, not in the City.”

      Eileen, you spend a considerable amount of  your time focusing on equal opportunity in NEW housing. ;however, virtually no time focusing on equal opportunity in existing housing.

      The people Sean has focused on in his article frequently can not afford the costs associated with new housing . . . high/new land costs, high/new entitlement costs, high/new labor costs high/new building materials costs, high/new property taxes costs, and no accumulated depreciation.

      The existing housing in Davis lower/old land costs, lower/old entitlement costs, lower/old labor costs lower/old building materials costs, lower/old property taxes costs, and accumulated depreciation (often substantial).  The people Sean has focused on in his article can much better afford the costs associated with existing housing stock.

      You rarely ever discuss any constructive steps you believe would allow the people Sean has focused on in his article to more effectively compete with UCD students for existing rental housing. Is there a reason for your singular focus on new housing?

      1. Howard P

        Actually, the provision of housing, of any stripe, is not an obligation, nor a core mission (unless adopted as such) of a City.  Zoning property that allows for housing is.  Nuance.

        The main thing is that the City has legitimate reasons (not obligations) to do what is best for the citizens… in this case (housing) the City has legitimate reasons to work towards additional housing, for the ‘weal’ of the community. Nuance.

         

        1. Sean Raycraft

          You rarely ever discuss any constructive steps you believe would allow the people Sean has focused on in his article to more effectively compete with UCD students for existing rental housing. Is there a reason for your singular focus on new housing?

          This. All of this.

      2. Jim Hoch

        people without income have a hard time finding housing even in areas with much lower rents.

         

        BTW  given the author’s advocacy for rent control this may be of interest http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Rent-control-in-San-Francisco-likely-spurred-12330161.php

  5. Don Shor

    From the data provided to David by the city, it appears that three of the proposed apartment complexes will be leased by the bed: Sterling (excluding the Affordable Housing units), Lincoln, and Plaza 2555 (also excluding the AH units). A number of other smaller projects have been approved, and 3820 Chiles is proposed, which are not going to be leased by the bed. Many of the units in those projects will be affordable housing and others will be available to anybody.

    If the bed-lease apartments can be leased by anybody, it is not accurate to say they are exclusively for students. If any group of 4 – 5 related or unrelated individuals (or more) can rent adjoining beds in one of those units, then they are not exclusively for students. So a key question is whether Sterling, Lincoln, and Plaza 2555, and Nishi, would be subject to master lease arrangements with the university.

    If the city council wants to make a direct and immediate improvement in the rental market and in the lives of lower-income renters here, they should seek to either negotiate the rapid phase-out of all master leases in the city, or take action to prohibit them. That will make more difference than trying to micromanage the bedroom configurations.

    1. Howard P

      “By the bed” — what does that mean? Can a room have two single beds, and each tenant pays the same?  Or can the same room have a double/queen size and pay less (half as much) because a couple share the same bed?  Actually meant as an honest question… to anyone who knows…

  6. Howard P

    OK Ron… regarding your 6:44 post.  Which apartment should pay more… an apartment with two bedrooms, sized to accommodate two people each, or a 4 bedroom apartment, with the bedrooms designed to accommodate 1 person each?  What if the first had two bathrooms, and the second had four?  Await you sagacious reply…

    1. Ron

      Howard:  I asked Don to delete my post, since I quoted the wrong section from Mark.  He had suggested that the “extractions” are preventing development, and I intended to point out that there is no evidence of that.

      I then pointed out that development fees incentivize 4-5 bedroom units, since they’re charged the same amount as units with fewer bedrooms.  Also, since contributions toward the Affordable housing program are based upon number of units (and do not consider the size of the unit), this also incentivizes 4-5 unit proposals (while simultaneously shortchanging the Affordable housing program).

      With the exception of the number of bathrooms, fees should theoretically be the same, in your example (4 people planned for each unit).  (Regarding whether or not fees should consider the number of bathrooms, it would depend upon whether or not that creates a bigger impact.)

      As noted with the Sterling analysis the other day, it also appears that megadorms do not provide sufficient taxes to offset their costs to the city over the long-term, either. (Also, that analysis may not have included all costs, such as unfunded liabilities associated with employees who provide services for such developments.)

       

      1. Howard P

        Good for you Ron… you correctly figured out the correct answer… bedrooms don’t cause impacts, people do. So, you have acknowledged that the number of bedrooms should not inherently be used to determine impact fees.  It depends… and makes calculation of fees more complex, and perhaps unenforceable.

        As to bathrooms, usually, a bedroom with two occupants, will flush the toilet, brush their teeth and bathe/shower the same (same use of water) whether they share a bathroom or not (except for shower/bathing if they are an intimate pair of roommates… but that might even happen if they choose to have separate bedrooms, and just want to bathe together).

        So, as you can see (?), there are a number of variables in the determination of what impact fees should be.

        Taxes are assessed on the valuation of the property, not bedrooms or number of occupants, nor “impacts”.  Your point on that eludes me.

        Have a good evening.

         

        1. Ron

          Howard:  “So, you have acknowledged that the number of bedrooms should not inherently be used to determine impact fees.  It depends… and makes calculation of fees more complex, and perhaps unenforceable.”

          I said no such thing. However, it probably makes more sense to allocate them based upon the planned number of beds (occupants). Fortunately, developers apparently provide this information to the city, in regard to the megadorm proposals.

          Howard:  “Taxes are assessed on the valuation of the property, not bedrooms or number of occupants, nor “impacts”.  Your point on that eludes me.”

          It was a point that I added, for those concerned about the negative long-term financial impacts to the city, as a result of approving megadorms. Perhaps one of the reasons that UCD resists doing so, on campus.

           

  7. Sean Raycraft

    So, Im glad this article has stimulated some discussion about the issue of housing, although I am not sure why people keep bringing up Rancho Yolo, that just doesnt make sense to me. What still seems to be missing are viable alternatives, that have some kind of urgency. Seemingly, people are missing the broader point I am really trying to hammer home here. That being that the housing crisis is harming everyone who rents, harming everyone who is seeking to rent, and harming the community as a whole. Simply stating “the University needs to solve this problem” isnt good enough for me, because simply saying so doesnt solve the problem, and in the meantime, where there is inaction on the part of the community and the University,  more people are going to suffer. I for one am not willing to do nothing because I am in a secure housing situation. (which I am quite thankful for).

    Some have said we cant build our way out of a regional crisis. Maybe they are right. So what is the alternative? Let it get worse through inaction? I cant look my members in the eye and say “sorry, your housing insecurity just inst a priority for me, its the University’s problem”.

    So, can someone answer this question for me. What is lost by building housing designed for students and the working poor? I am open to alternative solutions, but I just dont see the downside.

    1. Ron

      Sean:  As David recently pointed out, Affordable housing works.  So does rent control, for long-term renters.  (I know some who have benefited greatly, from it.) So does fighting for a “living wage” (although I’d suggest that employers who fail to pay a sufficient wage risk losing employees anyway, over time). And hopefully, not everyone remains in a vulnerable position for their entire life.

    2. Jim Hoch

      Why Ranch Yolo? Because it is a large underdeveloped parcel near both the University and Downtown. 40 acres can easily carry 100/units per acre if you have minimal parking. It would also be connected to the bike path with the current dump is not and down would come the big cement “Trump Style” walls. I would also advocate for re-purposing the city yard.

       

      If you want to have new housing quickly the fastest way would be to allow conversion of garages to small apartments. These would be dispersed through the city and few people park in their garages anyway.

      1. Don Shor

        it is a large underdeveloped parcel near both the University and Downtown

        It’s not “underdeveloped.” It has the same density as other single-family neighborhoods, lacks any greenbelts or parks or golf courses to waste space, and thus is one of the most efficient residential single-family land uses in the city. And it provides low-cost housing.
        I suggest you stop your constant references to it. It’s not blighted, they aren’t trailers, and it serves a purpose in Davis. You’re actually very offensive on this topic.
        http://davismerchants.org/vanguard/Rancho%20Yolo%20vs%20Wildhorse.png

        1. Howard P

          Oh… there is a huge open space, with informal trails, etc, that is huge, right next to RY… many people use it like a greenbelt… the Davis Cemetery…

    3. Howard P

      Opportunities for land, costs, and funding.  Those are the “downsides”.  But still something to strive for.

      The other problem is that some folk (though they will not own up to it) don’t want one more person in town unless they are ‘like them’.  Be they students, working poor, or the homeless.

      You will know them by the way they cite reasons that have little to do with housing, directly… environment, traffic, open space, farmland preservation, etc.  Never speaking about their real issues, including property values, their convenience, etc.

    4. Roberta Millstein

      Some have said we cant build our way out of a regional crisis. Maybe they are right. So what is the alternative? Let it get worse through inaction? I cant look my members in the eye and say “sorry, your housing insecurity just inst a priority for me, its the University’s problem”.

      So, you can look your members in the eye and tell them that you can help them by advocating for more housing, when in fact you really can’t help them that way?  How does that make sense?  You’re just giving them false hope, as I said above.

      So, can someone answer this question for me. What is lost by building housing designed for students and the working poor? I am open to alternative solutions, but I just dont see the downside.

      Because the housing will not stay affordable for them.  Because there are consequences to building too much too fast that are bad for everyone.  Because we will rush into decisions that are hasty and we’ll be paying for those poor choices down the road (in some cases, like at Nishi, it is the residents themselves who will be “paying.”)

      1. David Greenwald

        “when in fact you really can’t help them that way?”

        I think you have a valid point when you argue we can’t solve this crisis strictly through building new housing, but I think you’ve taken that point way too far by saying you really can’t help them at all.

        “Because the housing will not stay affordable for them.”

        It really depends. For instance, we live in affordable housing and the cost of rent has not changed in the five years we’ve lived here. We live in a complex with nine townhouses and they all have families with children. So the answer is that you can design housing that remains affordable.

        1. Roberta Millstein

          It really depends. For instance, we live in affordable housing and the cost of rent has not changed in the five years we’ve lived here. We live in a complex with nine townhouses and they all have families with children. So the answer is that you can design housing that remains affordable.

          Of course, we need more affordable housing.  But I guess I’ve lost track of the argument, because I thought we were talking about 4-5 room units, rented by the bedroom, each with its own bathroom.

        2. Ron

          David:  “I view student housing options as opening up single family homes for others.”

          That is a theory, probably without much basis in reality.  (Especially for single-family homes that are very near UCD.) Unless new student housing is subsidized (e.g., by UCD), those older homes will remain less-expensive than other options, with more flexibility for students.

          Eventually, some will be torn down and replaced by higher-density, more expensive structures, benefiting the current owners (at least, financially).

          An example is the “B” street development, which is replacing two smaller cottages.

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