Letter to the Social Services Commission on Mega-Dorms

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By Eileen Samitz

(Editor’s note: the following was submitted to the Social Services Commission on Monday night by Eileen Samitz).

Dear Commissioners,

I am writing due to continued concern about the many mega-dorm proposals coming forward including the Nishi project which is requesting input from the Social Services Commission regarding their affordable housing proposal. I have attached my letter submitted on November 19, 2017 with an explanation of the many problems that would come with the five (possibly seven) mega-dorm proposals being processed by the City (Note: Sterling 5th St. Apts. has been approved recently). These proposals cumulatively would be for 5,000-6,000 student-specific beds which are exclusionary by design because they are a rent-by-the-bed format. These mega-dorms are luxury projects which will not be more affordable but will average $1,000 per bed which is not much different than what is being charged on campus and which the students have stated is too expensive.

The exclusionary design of the mega-dorms is that they are predominately enormous 4-and 5-bedroom apartment “suites” (1,500-1,700 sq. ft.) with a bathroom per bedroom which is a flat-rate per-bed monthly regardless of water usage which does not encourage water conservation. The bedrooms have an individual lock per bedroom as well so these apartment suites are not helpful for providing rental housing for our local workers and families needing rental housing.

Approval of 5,000 -6,000 mega dorm beds will not relieve the rental vacancy for local workers and families because UCD apparently is continuing to increase its admissions to UCD annually which will result with more and more UCD students being enrolled. Therefore, more and more students added to UCD’s student population will then just be forced off-campus after their freshman year to occupy more of the City’s rental housing units. It is notable that UCD is only housing 29% of its students on-campus and forcing 71% off campus after their first year at UCD. Currently at least 63% of UCD students are living in Davis’ rental housing which is a disproportionate amount relative to the small size of the City. As a result, more and more of our local workers and families are being pushed out of Davis’ rental housing due to UCD’s negligence. This is all the more reason why UCD’s LRDP update needs to include the “50/100” student housing plan, rather than UCD’s proposed inadequate “40/90” plan. (Note: The specifics of these plans are explained in my Op-ed which I have provided the link to below.)

Another negative consequence of approval of all of these mega-dorms is that it just demotivates UCD from producing more on-campus housing which is ultimately the only solution to the resolving the rental situation in Davis. UCD’s proposed LRDP 40/90 plan needs to instead become the 50/00 plan adding 4,000 more beds on it enormous 5,300-acre campus in order to catch up with the inadequate on campus housing situation at UCD. Six other UC’s are providing at least 50% on campus housing while UCD, the largest UC campus in the UC system, is resisting coming up to par to providing the needed 50% on-campus student housing. I wrote an op-ed on this recently which covers this issue in more detail with the reasons as well.

Instead of mega-dorms, the City needs to build more traditional 1-,2-and 3-bedroom apartments which are inclusionary by design since can be occupied by local workers, families or students. Mega-dorms are a lose-lose for the City in that they are short-changing our City’s affordable housing programs as well as short-changing the City in developer impact fees due to the predominance of 4-and 5-bedroom suites being counted as one apartment unit, when in fact they not an “equivalent” to a 1-,2-or 3-bedroom apartment since the impacts are far greater for these 4-and 5-bedroom apartment suites. Affordable housing units are quantified by the total number of apartment units in the project, so the problem with mega-dorms is that not enough affordable housing is being produced like it would with traditional 1-,2­and 3-bedroom apartments.

Another issue is that in other affordable housing situations, typically there is oversight by a government entity and/or the City oversight to assure that residents of the affordable housing units are qualified to be eligible. In this case. However, it sounds like this affordable housing program would be run by the developers potentially without any long-term oversight by the City or any other entity. A complication of this self-directed affordable housing program, particularly the integrated version was to go forward, the City would need to formally do the monitoring and oversight to assure that the program is being implemented properly. This would involve manpower needed by the City and additional costs which the developer would need to pay into the future for this oversight service by the City. So, given this complication of the integrated affordable housing program, the land use dedication avoids this problem since the oversight is automatically included once publicly funded affordable housing loans are secured to build the project.

The point here is that while traditional apartments would require 35% affordable housing, Nishi and other mega-dorms are trying to get away with 11-12% and in the case of Lincoln40 only 10% affordable housing.

The City should not allow the mega-dorm projects discounts on the affordable housing requirements of this City. This is just exacerbating the need for rental housing particularly amongst non-student residents.

Additional concerns are that an urban farm would not be of use to UCD students which are already overwhelmed with academic responsibilities and many have side jobs as well which require their time. So, the urban farm does not seem to be a practical use and if anything would be put to better use as dedicated land for an affordable housing project if Nishi moves forward. Given the estimate of 1,900 beds this would require approximately a 5-acre site or larger to provide a 30-unit/acre site separate affordable housing project. (Note: It is notable that there are air quality concerns regarding Nishi and that additional air quality studies are still needed to determine if the site is suitable for housing.)

Finally, there is concern about mega-dorms being inconsistent with our City zoning code. Due to mega­ dorms typically having locks on the bedrooms, this does not allow the occupant access to the entire apartment suite. This is a legal question that needs to be addressed. Here is the City’s zoning code relevant language. Please note the definitions of “dwelling,” “family” and “dwelling, multiple” as in multi-family housing.

City of Davis Zoning Code Definitions:

Dwelling. Any building or portion thereof designed or used exclusively as the residence or sleeping place of one or more persons, but not including a tent, cabin, trailer or mobile home.

Dwelling unit. One room, or a suite of two or more rooms, designed for or used by one family for living and sleeping purposes and having only one kitchen or kitchenette.

Family. An individual or group of two or more persons occupying a dwelling and living together as a single housekeeping unit in which each resident has access to all parts of the dwelling and where the adult residents share expenses for food or rent.

Dwelling, multiple. A building or portion thereof designed for or used by three or more families or housekeeping units.

In summary, comments and suggested questions to be asked:

1) I urge the Social Services Commission to please not approve any of the options suggested in the Staff report and have the project and any mega-dorm project return after the City completes its study of the affordable housing policy and when the project is fully described. No special deals should be awarded to mega-dorm projects particularly because this type of exclusionary housing does not serve the Davis community was a whole. The format of this and other mega-dorm affordable housing plans proposals are presented as a distortion and substantially reduces the formula for arriving at the affordable housing requirement and also the developer impacts fees for the City. The City needs to first determine what is an acceptable measure for the equivalency of a “unit”.

2)  I also urge the Commission to support traditional 1-,2-and 3-bedroom apartment complexes need to be built rather than the multitude of so many mega-dorms in the City. This is because these traditional 1-,2-and 3-bedroom apartments are inclusionary by design and can be occupied by local workers, families as well as students, rather than these exclusionary and expensive student mega-dorms. For example, Nishi housing should be traditional apartments in design which are available to students who potentially graduate and may then may be employed on campus. These students now being workers are not likely want to continue living in a mega-dorm situation. Likewise, Nishi apartment housing should be a traditional 1-,2-and 3­bedroom format so it is also available to the staff and faculty that UCD’s growth will be bringing to support its significant student population growth by 2028 and into the future.

3) The urban farm concept may not be a practical use ofthis land given the academic and other time constraints on the UCD students due to academic responsibilities and many having jobs and might be better used for part of an affordable housing dedication site (approximately 5 acres are needed. UCD students are not likely to have time to grow their own food and maintain a farm. Also, UCD has a student farm on campus for tho.se students who might have time for this.

4) It is important to ask how would a self-directed student affordable housing program would be monitored for oversight regarding compliance with affordable housing regulations such as renting to qualified low-income and very low-income residents which are students? Would the City be the oversight agency and how would costs be handed of the future years of this oversight? In contrast, would not a dedicated site for affordable housing have inclusive oversight?

5) Please ask that Staff request an opinion from Legal Services of California regarding if it is legal to build mega-dorms in the City which would be exclusively designed complexes targeting students only? This is relevant because students are not a legally qualified category for affordable housing so this would amount to discrimination to target only students. Furthermore, mega­dorms like the Nishi proposal would not be serving the community as a whole, particularly non­student including local workers and families which are currently being forced out of rental housing in Davis due to the significant inadequacy of UCD on-campus student housing.

This is relevant since UCD is now undergoing its LRDP update which is proposing only 1 40/90 plan for on campus housing rather than the “50/100” plan defined by four resolutions and a community petition. Mega-dorm approvals for 5,000 -6,000 beds in the City are not serving the housing needs of the community as a whole and would also demotivate UCD to provide far more on-campus housing needed on its 5,300-acre campus, the largest in the UC system.

6)  Also, please ask Legal Services of California for an opinion on the City’s zoning code definitions as to whether mega-dorms which will include bedrooms with locks would be legal? City zoning code which defined families in multi-family housing must have access to all parts of the residence. Having bedrooms with locks in these 5,000 -6,000 beds in the 5-7 mega-dorm proposals (note: although Sterling 5th St Apartments is approved) would not appear to allow this.

7) Where did the 11% -12% affordable housing percentages come from versus the 35% requirement? Is this related to number of beds versus the disparity of the 4-and 5-bedroom apartment suites being counted as only one unit when in effect they are at least 2-5 units based upon if they are single-occupancy or double-occupancy and their impacts. The mega-dorm bedrooms with an individual bathroom and a door lock are closer to being a studio apartment in format so the 4-and 5-bedroom suites should have a far higher equivalency measure than counting them as “one-unit”. As things stand the City is being short-changed in affordable housing and developer impacts fees significantly by these mega-dorm proposals.

Eileen M. Samitz is a former member City of Davis Planning Commission, 2001 General Plan Update, and the 2008 General Plan Update Housing Element Steering Committee.

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74 thoughts on “Letter to the Social Services Commission on Mega-Dorms”

  1. Don Shor

    3) The urban farm concept may not be a practical use ofthis land given the academic and other time constraints on the UCD students due to academic responsibilities and many having jobs and might be better used for part of an affordable housing dedication site (approximately 5 acres are needed. UCD students are not likely to have time to grow their own food and maintain a farm. Also, UCD has a student farm on campus for tho.se students who might have time for this.

    So Eileen wants more housing on the Nishi site, closer to the freeway?

  2. Eileen Samitz

    Don,

    As I clarified earlier in the letter, that more air quality studies needed to be done to determine if the Nishi site was suitable for housing.  Since the issue of affordable housing and how much affordable housing should be included was before the Commission, I was making the point that mega-dorm projects need to provide their fair share of affordable housing. The project was only offering 11-12% rather then 35%, which, like Lincoln40 which was only offering 10%, is an issue because these mega-dorms are trying to short-change affordable housing. This was in no way an endorsement of a residential project at Nishi.

  3. Sharla C.

    I don’t believe it is illegal to put a lock on a bedroom door.  It is common practice for single individuals living in a shared unit to put a lock on their door to protect their belongings.  Also, without the locks on the bedroom doors, in a shared living situation with people you may not know well, it can be assumed that all tenants have access and can be found to be criminally liable for the illegal activities of their other roommates within their rooms.

    Students do have time to grow food and maintain gardens.  They are just like any other people with full time jobs and other responsibilities.

    Not every individual who needs housing in Davis is a student.  Rather than force individuals into shared housing and shared financial liability with people that they don’t know well, let’s build housing that is more suitable for them.  Is this idea so awful?

    1. Ron

      Sharla:  “Students do have time to grow food and maintain gardens.”

      I understood that (regardless of the Affordable housing issue), there is an air quality issue (requiring significant mitigations just to remain indoors).

        1. Ron

          Sharla:  Eileen also noted the following, in her letter above.  Therefore, any suggestion regarding Affordable housing was precluded by this statement (which was included in the same paragraph that you’re apparently referring to):

          From letter, above: “It is notable that there are air quality concerns regarding Nishi and that additional air quality studies are still needed to determine if the site is suitable for housing.”

        2. Sharla C.

          Ron, Eileen needs to be responsible for every argument that she makes against building housing in Davis.  She made the argument against the inclusion of an urban farm in one distinct paragraph.

          3) The urban farm concept may not be a practical use ofthis land given the academic and other time constraints on the UCD students due to academic responsibilities and many having jobs and might be better used for part of an affordable housing dedication site (approximately 5 acres are needed. UCD students are not likely to have time to grow their own food and maintain a farm. Also, UCD has a student farm on campus for tho.se students who might have time for this.

          She did not include air quality as an argument against this.  In fact, she makes the argument that this site would be “better used for part of an affordable housing dedication sight.”

          Eileen should defend her own writing.  She either thinks what she says here or she should clarify what she really meant.  She seems to be saying that the developer should give the land away for an affordable housing development, rather than set it aside for an urban farm – something she seems to think is a waste of resources.

    2. Howard P

      Heck, even SF DU’s have locks on doors, bathrooms, and bedrooms, particularly when kids become adolescents…

      In apartments, often locks on those doors as well… particularly if a roommate thinks they’ll “get lucky”, and doesn’t want to ‘share the experience’ with other roommates.  Where there is a shared room (dorm or apt), there was usually a ‘signal’ system (if there was no lock separating each bed), as in “do not disturb, it’s an intimate moment”… sometimes a sock on the doorknob, or a coded push pin on the little corkboard on the door to the unit…

      The definitions cited are from the zoning code… the most byzantine and least reviewed, in toto, of all the municipal code chapters.

      Funny how it’s cited as if it came from stone tablets from a mountain in the middle east.  But, like those, it is relatively “ancient” in the MC evolution.

    3. Richard McCann

      Students will move out of existing apartments and houses into these new buildings, which will open that housing up for other residents. Housing need not be built specifically for one group–the housing supply is fungible. In fact this will relieve much of the pressure of mini-dorms in the neighborhoods.

       

  4. Eileen Samitz

    Sharla,

    You are not understanding the issue regarding locked bedroom doors. The point is that these mega-dorms with locks on bedrooms are inconsistent with the City’s zoning code for multi-family housing.

    1. Howard P

      And what you are not getting is the code, in that regard, is archaic… it needs review/revision, even absent the current issues… you are technically correct, but being silly…

      In any event, are you saying that all the apartments in Davis that have privacy locks on bathrooms (or bedrooms) are out of compliance, and should be abated? Really? By a fully literal interpretation of the sections they should be deemed illegal…

    2. Sharla C.

      Whenever you disagree, you immediately claim that people don’t have an understanding of the issue.  People are smarter than you believe.  I do understand the issue you are making and I’m saying that you are very wrong to make such a big deal about this.  Single people and couples need to feel that they and their belongings are secure and that they won’t be found criminally liable for the wrongdoings of others.  All roommates have access to common areas, just not each others personally assigned spaces and belongings.  This is the typical arrangement for shared living situations in Davis.

      1. Eileen Samitz

        Sharla,

        Actually, I thought that you did not understand, but given now that you say you do understand, then yes, I guess we disagree on this subject. But also, my issue is that the design of the mega-dorms with bedroom locks are inconsistent with the City Zoning Code, which is not the same as your issue.

        1. Sharla C.

          I don’t understand why you are making this an issue.  I think it is irresponsible to try to force people into insecure living situations just to add fodder to your campaign against building housing in Davis.  What I’m understanding is that you believe that one line of the City Zoning Code takes precedence over individuals’ personal safety and security of belongings.

        2. Ron

          Sharla:  “I think it is irresponsible to try to force people into insecure living situations just to add fodder to your campaign against building housing in Davis.”

          I think it’s highly irresponsible to suggest that’s what Eileen is trying to do.  She has stated (many times) that she believes that housing should be designed to appeal to a wider population, rather that simply continuing to absorb UCD’s enrollment plans.

          If Eileen’s suggestions were actually followed (and not actively resisted by some parties), it would result in more total housing (on-campus, and off).

        3. Ron

          Frankly, Eileen seems to be the only one who is considering the entire picture.  The only one “minding the store”, so to speak.  (City planning 101.) I have a lot more confidence in her, than I do of most city officials or staff. (And, she’s not nearly as “slow-growth” as some seem to suggest.) A pragmatic approach, overall.

          It’s unfortunate that some cannot see this.

        4. Sharla C.

          Ron, there is no other explanation for what she is doing.  As she stated herself, “my issue is that the design of the (apartments) with bedroom locks are inconsistent with the City Zoning Code.”

        5. Ron

          Sharla:  You are taking one comment that Eileen made in response to you (regarding one point), and extrapolating it in (what appears to be) an apparent attempt to mischaracterize her entire position.

          It doesn’t work that way.

        6. Richard McCann

          Well, that’s an easy fix–just change the City zoning code to match reality. It’s like those stupid laws that pop up in “believe or not” news items.

    3. Eric Gelber

      I can assure you that the provision defining family as “an individual or group of two or more persons occupying a dwelling and living together as a single housekeeping unit in which each resident has access to all parts of the dwelling ….” is not intended to mean that someone cannot lock their private spaces, such as their bedroom or closet. If parents or a teenager want a lock on the bedroom door, it does not mean they are no longer considered to be a family household under the zoning code. This language is to distinguish, for example, households where someone is merely renting a room but might not have access to other designated parts of the residence, e.g., common areas, such as the living room, kitchen, etc.

      1. Keith O

        I wonder if someone locking a bedroom with a key might be a safety hazard?  It’s one thing to lock a bathroom or a bedroom from inside with the keyless doorknob lock in which the room is still accessible by inserting a tool in the hole but by locking it with a key it becomes inaccessible.  What if a fire started in a locked room in the house and the other tenants noticed smoke but had no way to enter?

        1. Eric Gelber

          Again, permissible types of locking devices might relate to building codes or fire marshall regulations—not the zoning code definition of what is or is not a family household.

  5. David Greenwald

    “five (possibly seven) mega-dorm proposal”

    At this point it looks like only two are going to be truly what you would call “mega-dorms.”  Nishi is 2 and 4 bedroom apartments.  Plaza 2555 is a mix of apartments and townhouses and only 60% student housing and even there, not rent by bed.  So only Lincoln40 and Sterling fit the original concept of mega-dorm.

        1. David Greenwald

          Later Mr. Ruff told the commission, in essence, this is not the mega-dorm design of other projects.  “We’re looking at two bedroom, one bath units,” he said.  “Four bedroom, two bath units.
          “We’re not having a bathroom for every bedroom,” he explained.  “We’re not having five bedrooms behind every door.  These are pretty much average size units.”
          —-
          So it’s two bed/ one bath, two bed/ two bath, four bed/ two bath, four bed/ four bath.  Each at 25 percent.

    1. Ron

      David:  “Plaza 2555 is a mix of apartments and townhouses and only 60% student housing and even there, not rent by bed.”

      Also – would you provide the complete breakdown here, as well?  (And remind us how the property is currently zoned?)

        1. Ron

          David:  “Did a full article a month or so ago with the breakdown, google it.”

          How about if you “Google” it.  I believe your statement describing those two proposals is misleading. (Actually, Eileen has since provided a little more information below, regardless.)

           

      1. Eileen Samitz

         

        David:  “Plaza 2555 is a mix of apartments and townhouses and only 60% student housing and even there, not rent by bed.”

        David,

        I am not understanding how you get 60% student housing. The project is proposing 160 market-rate apartments and 40 affordable units (it should be 56 but the developer is asking fr 15 “transfer  credits ‘ from another project and to pay one in-lieu fee) so this totals 200 total units.  So that means 20% is affordable housing and 80% is market-rate and the developer admitted that they were targeting students. This is why the market-rate units are predominately 4- and 5- bedrooms. So where are you getting only 60% student at Plaza 2555?

        Also, the same issue of these mega-dorms short-changing the City on affordable housing and developer impacts fees has been raised about Plaza 2555 because of its predominance of 4- and 5- bedroom format.

        1. David Greenwald

          The current breakdown is as follows: 30 micro units, 17 one-bedrooms, 14 two-bedrooms, 9 three-bedrooms, 96 four-bedrooms and 34 five-bedrooms. That means that 130 of the 200 units are four- and five-bedroom.

        2. Eileen Samitz

          David on Plaza 2555: “The current breakdown is as follows: 30 micro units, 17 one-bedrooms, 14 two-bedrooms, 9 three-bedrooms, 96 four-bedrooms and 34 five-bedrooms. That means that 130 of the 200 units are four- and five-bedroom.”

          So David your assumption is conveniently only referring to the 130 total units for 4- and 5- bedroom apartments which actually is 65%, not 60% relative to the 200 unit total. Meanwhile, the developer acknowledged that they are targeting students at the Commission meeting.  He did not single out the 4- and 5 bedroom apartments. In fact, he looked a bit reluctant to admit the significant predominance of these mega-apartments. So your 60% (which should be 65%) is not a valid percentage of how many students will occupy Plaza 2555. The 656 bicycle slots make it pretty clear that the Plaza 2555 project will be targeting students for its market-rate apartments.

        3. Ron

          David:  “yes, 65% (I couldn’t remember off the top of my head), not sure of the rest of your point.”

          Well, that’s kind of a strange thing to say, since Eileen stated this directly above your statement (along with reasons that your conclusion is not accurate):

          Eileen:  “So your 60% (which should be 65%) is not a valid percentage of how many students will occupy Plaza 2555.”

           

  6. Eileen Samitz

    David,

    That may be your concept but Plaza 2555 is overwhemingly 4-bedroom suites. There is not much “mix” in the market-rate housing type so it is a mega-dorm as well. Also, it makes no sense to create more student housing south of I-80 where the students would have to get across I-80 to and from campus daily. Also, what happened to your concerns about economic development lately? Plaza 2555 would be converting another commercial parcel to student housing.

    1. David Greenwald

      It’s about 60-65 percent student housing and 35 micro to 3 room apartments, which is slightly less than the overall city breakdown of student housing, so it’s actually less student housing than the city overall has.

      “Plaza 2555 would be converting another commercial parcel to student housing.”

      So mega-dorm is simply any apartment primarily designed for student housing? Rather than number of bed rooms per unit and bed leases?

      1. Howard P

        The definition is ‘frangible’… and/or molded to suit one’s rhetoric/arguments… get with the concept of “invented language”… Orwell had it right…

      2. Eileen Samitz

        David: “So mega-dorm is simply any apartment primarily designed for student housing? Rather than number of bed rooms per unit and bed leases?”

        David,

        I have said this before and I’ll say it again, project which are predominantly 4- and 5- bedrooms (like Plaza 2555) which are renting by the bed for a flat rate targeting students only is a mega-dorm.  The bedroom locks and bathroom per bedroom scenario varies by project but just add to design features that make these mega-dorms not of any help to provide housing for local workers and families.

        1. David Greenwald

          “project which are predominantly 4- and 5- bedrooms (like Plaza 2555) which are ***renting by the bed*** for a flat rate targeting students only is a mega-dorm”

          PLaza 2555 isn’t renting by the bed. And it’s not targeting students only. therefore, not a mega-dorm by your own definition.

        2. Eileen Samitz

          David,

          If these developers are not renting-by-the bed, I would like to know what their plan is of how they will fill so many 4- and 5- bedroom apartments? And yes, they are targeting students. The developer acknowledged this at the Social Services meeting in October and they have 656 bicycle slots planned at Plaza 2555.

        3. David Greenwald

          I can tell you what they told me.  (And both the city and developer both told me they are renting by the unit, not the bed).  they are targeting some students, but also families and workers with the smaller units.  they see the need for larger apartments for groups and student organizations.

    2. Todd Edelman

       it makes no sense to create more student housing south of I-80 where the students would have to get across I-80 to and from campus daily.

      At the BTSSC meeting on Thursday, another Commissioner and myself pointed out that bicycle access to campus will be quite good in the near future as there will be a direct link from the separated path on the west side of Pole Line to Olive and hopefully a safe crossing for Olive at Richards. There will need to be a good connection from 2555 to Olive that avoids the worst of Cowell but doesn’t cut through the crowded park across the street.

      To be clear this is not an endorsement or anti-endorsement of the project.

      1. Eileen Samitz

        Todd,

        I think you need to travel to the campus from the Plaza 2555 site by bicycle and see what a really inconvenient trek this would be for the UCD students. This includes even students biking from the Plaza 2555 site to get to the Pole Line and Fifth site where the proposed new path is. It is simply not good planning to locate students so far from the campus and on the opposite side of I-80 to travel daily, particularly in adverse weather like the winter cold, wind and rain.

  7. Eileen Samitz

    “five (possibly seven) mega-dorm proposal”

     

    David,

    Regarding the other possible 2 mega-dorms, multi-family proposals are being sought at the University Research Park and the former Sierra Convalescent Home site on Pole Line, but the project descriptions have not been submitted yet.

          1. David Greenwald

            My most recent communication from Ashley Feeney is that the application is “anticipated” but not submitted and that the city doesn’t know what the project would entail. That’s as of November 1 – I can touch base with Ash again.

  8. Don Shor

    1) I urge the Social Services Commission to please not approve any of the options suggested in the Staff report and have the project and any mega-dorm project return after the City completes its study of the affordable housing policy and when the project is fully described. No special deals should be awarded to mega-dorm projects particularly because this type of exclusionary housing does not serve the Davis community was a whole. The format of this and other mega-dorm affordable housing plans proposals are presented as a distortion and substantially reduces the formula for arriving at the affordable housing requirement and also the developer impacts fees for the City. The City needs to first determine what is an acceptable measure for the equivalency of a “unit”.

    — Anyone can live there. They are not exclusionary unless they are master leased by UCD.

    2)  I also urge the Commission to support traditional 1-,2-and 3-bedroom apartment complexes need to be built rather than the multitude of so many mega-dorms in the City. This is because these traditional 1-,2-and 3-bedroom apartments are inclusionary by design and can be occupied by local workers, families as well as students, rather than these exclusionary and expensive student mega-dorms. For example, Nishi housing should be traditional apartments in design which are available to students who potentially graduate and may then may be employed on campus. These students now being workers are not likely want to continue living in a mega-dorm situation. Likewise, Nishi apartment housing should be a traditional 1-,2-and 3­bedroom format so it is also available to the staff and faculty that UCD’s growth will be bringing to support its significant student population growth by 2028 and into the future.

    — They are not exclusionary. Nishi is not a “mega-dorm.”

    3) The urban farm concept may not be a practical use ofthis land given the academic and other time constraints on the UCD students due to academic responsibilities and many having jobs and might be better used for part of an affordable housing dedication site (approximately 5 acres are needed. UCD students are not likely to have time to grow their own food and maintain a farm. Also, UCD has a student farm on campus for tho.se students who might have time for this.

    — Students do garden. The EC gardens on campus are very popular, available on a first-come first-serve basis, and I believe there is usually a waiting list. Really, this argument is pointless and seriously detracts from any points you’re trying to make, because it just seems like you’re making stuff up.

    4) It is important to ask how would a self-directed student affordable housing program would be monitored for oversight regarding compliance with affordable housing regulations such as renting to qualified low-income and very low-income residents which are students? Would the City be the oversight agency and how would costs be handed of the future years of this oversight? In contrast, would not a dedicated site for affordable housing have inclusive oversight?

    — good questions.

    5) Please ask that Staff request an opinion from Legal Services of California regarding if it is legal to build mega-dorms in the City which would be exclusively designed complexes targeting students only? This is relevant because students are not a legally qualified category for affordable housing so this would amount to discrimination to target only students. Furthermore, mega­dorms like the Nishi proposal would not be serving the community as a whole, particularly non­student including local workers and families which are currently being forced out of rental housing in Davis due to the significant inadequacy of UCD on-campus student housing.

    — they’re not exclusionary or exclusively designed for students only. That is a fallacy that you keep repeating. Anyone can live there. If they are master leased by UC, it’s a problem. If they’re just marketed primarily to students or other young adults, that is not exclusive, exclusionary by design, or any other term you wish to use. 

    1. Eileen Samitz

      Don,

      Rather than having another merry go-round of debate, let’s just say we simply don’t agree on a number of aspects of this issue. The list includes (but limited to): 1) Nishi is a mega-dorm; 2) mega-dorms do not provide housing for everyone (particularly workers and families) due to their exclusionary design;  3) I did not say students don’t garden. I said that most don’t have the time to garden since they are so stressed with their academics and often have jobs too; 4) wow, agreement on something… gee thanks; and 5) mega-dorms are exclusionary due to their design.

      Now, I am done with this, and going to try to get back to enjoying the holidays (despite the Vanguard.)

      Happy Holidays!

       

      1. David Greenwald

        How is Nishi a mega-dorm if it is two and four bedroom apartments and not one bed/ one bath configuration? Does mega-dorm meaning anything to you other than large mostly student oriented apartment? If that’s the case, wouldn’t most apartments in town be classified as mega-dorms? My understanding is that you are arguing that these are a new design that is different from what we currently have, but you seem to capriciously divert from that narrative when convenient.

        1. David Greenwald

          I have less problem with this part. Because I think it is exclusionary by both design but all location. Where I have more of a problem is the lack of acknowledgement that (A) this is not the 4 and 5 bedroom only design that they seemed to be objecting to and (B) even if they are two bedrooms, for the most part, students are moving in, perhaps even 100 percent students.

          1. Don Shor

            I have a problem with it because it is false. When my son or various of the young people who work for me have sought housing in town, they’ve often lived in apartment complexes overwhelmingly populated by UC students. It’s been exclusionary when UC has master-leased apartments; one of my employees couldn’t renew his lease because UC was master-leasing the unit for the following year. That is a real problem. As noted by Sharla earlier, it is certainly possible that a young adult would see advantages to leasing a bed in one of these large apartment complexes, especially given the constraints and issues we presently have with landlords and credit requirements elsewhere in town.
            Renting by the bed is not exclusionary. Developing apartments with more bedrooms than usual is not exclusionary. Reserving housing for seniors IS exclusionary. Master leasing apartments solely for UC students IS exclusionary.
            These units add to supply that anyone can rent.

          1. Don Shor

            Ok, I hereby resolve that I will not discuss housing issues for the rest of 2017. Now let’s see if we can get some trees planted along Covell this winter.

    1. Ron

      Ha! (Before I saw that comment, I was going to post something in response to one of Don’s comments, but I now think it’s better to just let that go.)

      Do you think we’ll make it to Christmas, without engaging in these types of arguments again? (Probably depends upon whether or not we read the Vanguard, by then.)

      You try to make one comment, and it never works out that way.

    2. Howard P

      Here’s a seasonal thought… one can “ignore commenter” for the ‘naughty’, and that only leaves the ‘nice’, or ‘TBD’… will try to stay within the parameters of the latter two, but may get coal in my stocking for past year(s)…

      Truly, Cindy (and all the posters/contributors), best wishes for you and yours, for this season, and the coming year…

    3. Eileen Samitz

      Cindy,

      Your comment is so on point.

      No matter how many times this has come up, the Vanguard comes through with generating conflict, rather than discussion and debate.

      So much for “Happy Holidays”.

  9. Ken A

    If “each resident must have access to all parts of the dwelling” to be a “family” in Davis it looks like every family that does not let their kids use the living room (or keeps Dad’s tools locked in the garage) is not really a “family”.

    P.S. Any idea why only apartment developers have to set aside 10-30% of their units as “affordable” why not make restaurants in town have 10-30% of the tables for poor people or make our movie theaters set aside 10-30% of the seats (or at least lower popcorn and candy prices) for those with lower incomes?

  10. Ken A

    I like Keith’s idea of changing the name of “Mega Dorms” to “Mega Monster Dorms” and I expect the local BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone) crowd will pick it up and start using it soon (probably without giving credit to Keith) since a “Mega Monster Dorm” sounds a lot scarier than a regular “Mega Dorm”.

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